Intermodal shipping: CSX continues to make inroads on National Gateway project
October 13, 2011
Earlier this week, Class I rail carrier CSX announced that work it has made significant progress with its National Gateway project, with work either completed or construction underway at one-third of the National Gateway’s clearance projects.
The National Gateway is a roughly $850 million public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure initiative designed to provide a highly efficient freight transportation link between the Mid-Atlantic ports and the Midwest. It was first unveiled by CSX in May 2008. This effort spans six states and Washington, D.C. and is comprised of both rail capacity and intermodal terminal capacity improvements. CSX officials said the project is expected to be completed by 2015.
“We are pleased to invest in these projects that will improve America’s transportation infrastructure, helping create jobs and cleaner, more efficient freight transportation,” said Louis Renjel, vice president of strategic infrastructure initiatives, CSX Transportation, in a statement. “Over the next few years, the National Gateway will move forward aggressively to invest in strategic freight rail infrastructure that will prepare our nation for continued growth and competition in the global economy.”
The company added that these improvement projects are designed to increase the vertical clearances at 61 locations on CSX rail lines between Mid Atlantic sea ports and the Midwest to accommodate intermodal trains carrying double-stacked intermodal containers. And work is complete at five of these locations and crews are working at 15 other locations, said CSX, representing “phase one” of the National Gateway, which spans an existing rail corridor between North Baltimore, Ohio and Chambersburg, Pa.
In May, CSX announced it invested an additional $160 million to complete the National Gateway, which the company said brings its planned investment in the project to roughly $575 million.
When the entire National Gateway project is completed, CSX officials said it will provide greater capacity for product shipments in and out of the Midwest, reduce truck traffic on congested highways, as well as create thousands of jobs that will directly or indirectly support the National Gateway. The company explained that the National Gateway will be comprised of the following: the building or expansion of several high-capacity, job-producing intermodal terminals where product shipments are exchanged between trucks and trains; and CSX collaborating with state and federal government agencies to create double-stack clearances beneath public overpasses along the railroad, which allow each train to carry roughly twice as many cargo boxes.
The National Gateway will focus on three existing rail corridors that run through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia: the I-70/I-76 Corridor between Washington, D.C. and northwest Ohio via Pittsburgh; the I-95 Corridor between North Carolina and Baltimore via Washington, D.C.; and the Carolina Corridor between Wilmington and Charlotte, North Carolina.
CSX executives have stated that this effort will highlight the effectiveness of intermodal transportation, in terms of economic and efficiency gain, noting that “intermodal transportation combines the efficiency of rail with the flexibility of trucks …and as our nation faces combined pressures from an increasingly globalized economy and deteriorating transportation infrastructure, it is critical that we work together to bolster this pillar of our national economy.”
And industry analysts have told LM that the National Gateway continues the model to bring in a wide variety of constituents to support efforts to add infrastructure capacity, as well as highlight how intermodal cooperation is critical both now and in the future to boost freight movement in the National Gateway’s corridors.
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