The growing importance of rail to ship grain can be seen at the Brazilian Port of São Francisco do Sul. Each year, the port handles around 700 block trains, most of which transport consignments of soya or corn. On average, this amounts to three million tonnes, which is half of all export grain volume accounted for by the port annually. Remaining shipments are undertaken by the road haulage industry.
The majority of grain being handled comes from the surrounding states of Santa Catarina, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul and arrives at the port via the 170km rail link from Mafra, in the North Plateau of Santa Catarina.
At Corupá, some 80 kilometres from the port, the transshipment and distribution of wagons bound for São Francisco do Sul is carried out. Average block train speeds are modest, with most running at 25–30 kilometres per hour, meaning that this journey takes about two and a half hours. Most trains load to 80 wagons, each holding around 50 tonnes.
On a normal year, around 57,000 wagons enter the port. These are then unloaded at one of three locations: at the grain terminal which is managed by the port authority, or at two privately managed terminals, run by Terlogs and Bunge respectively.
However, rail infrastructure oversight within the port remains the responsibility of the port authority. According to port president Cleverton Vieira, the main investment has been primarily in optimizing train unloading to increase handling efficiency.