Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Norfolk Southern officially opens up Heartland Corridor

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
September 09, 2010

Earlier today, Class I railroad carrier Norfolk Southern officially opened up its long-awaited Heartland Corridor.

The Heartland Corridor, said NS officials, is a public-private partnership between NS and Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and the federal government to create the shortest, fastest route for double-stack containers moving between the Port of Virginia and the Midwest. Its route stretches across Virginia, through southern West Virginia, and north through Columbus, Ohio. NS added that this route improves transit times from Norfolk, Va. to Chicago from four days to three and is 250 miles than previous routes for this line.

NS marked the occasion at the Cowan Tunnel located near Radford, Va., when Norfolk Southern Train 233 passed through the tunnel at 11 a.m. ET today with 200 Midwest-bound double-stack containers.

A significant benefit of the Heartland Corridor is that 28 NS raised vertical clearances on 28 tunnels and removed 24 overhead obstacles on one of its main lines connecting the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, according to NS. This construction is a main driver in the Heartland Corridor’s ability to accommodate double-stacked containers and cut down on route miles and transit times. Prior to the Heartland Corridor, NS double-stacked trains were forced to take longer routes via Harrisburg, Pennsylvania or Knoxville, Tennessee.

Freight railroad industry stakeholders have told LM the benefits of a cleared corridor cannot be overlooked, as they allow for efficient double-stacked containers for Midwest bound freight running on unit, shuttle, or fully-utilized trains. These trains also take trucks off the road, which in turn bring about subsequent benefits such as less over-the-road congestion and highway wear and tear, increased safety, lower emissions, and lower prices for consumers.

NS began construction on the Heartland Corridor in October 2007. This effort required the modification of 5.7 miles of tunnels through roof excavation and liner replacement, arched roof notching, track lowering, and realignment, according to NS.

An Associated Press report indicated the NS invested $97.8 million into the Heartland Corridor, with the federal government contributing $83.3 million, and Ohio and Virginia spending a cumulative $9.8 million. The report also noted that double-stacked trains can reduce shipping costs by about $500 per container.

“This is a remarkable achievement, and it marks a notable date in transportation history,” said NS CEO Wick Moorman in a statement. “Together we have shown what can be accomplished when the right partners work together for the right goals. The Heartland Corridor’s completion is not an end but rather the start of an era of new thinking, new resolve, and new optimism in which business, communities, and the public sector find creative ways to power the American economy.”

A noted freight rail expert told LM that the Heartland Corridor may have multi-faceted purposes for shippers.

“Even though the central thrust of this effort is to provide stack access to the ‘heartland’ and Chicago from the NIT (Norfolk International Terminals area, I expect that there may be a significant chunk of domestic business that uses this routing, too,” said Brooks Bentz, a partner at Accenture’s supply chain practice. “The highway routings from the Carolinas and Virginia to the west are less than perfect, so I’d expect a jump in that business, although I would not expect the growth to be rapid.  Presently, if you’re a shipper in this territory (Carolinas and Virginia) who wants to use intermodal, it’s not an easy thing to do.  Realistically, you end up draying to Baltimore, Harrisburg or Atlanta, if you bother to do it at all.”

The introduction of the Heartland Corridor comes at a time when railroad and intermodal volumes are doing well on a year-over-year basis but still lag 2008 levels. But carload and intermodal volumes over the last few weeks have set 2010 record highs, according to the Association of American Railroads.

For the first 35 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,945,718 carloads, up 7.1 percent from 2009, but down 12.6 percent from 2008, and 7,494,424 trailers or containers, up 14.4 percent from 2009, but down 4.7 percent from 2008, according to AAR data.

The Heartland Corridor is not the only long-term rail infrastructure endeavor the NS is working on. Work is still ongoing for its Crescent Corridor project, a nearly $2.5 billion public-private partnership (PPP) to build a rail corridor spanning from Louisiana to New Jersey, will improve its rail network from the northeast to the southeast, expedite the delivery of cargo shipments, and reduce highway congestion by diverting truck traffic. The entire Crescent Corridor project is expected to be completed by 2013.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

The index ISM uses to measure non-manufacturing growth—known as the NMI—was 56.9 in February, which was 0.2 percent ahead of January and also 0.1 percent ahead of the 12-month average of 56.8. Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector has grown for the last 61 months, according to ISM.

Non asset-based third-party logistics (3PL) services and logistics technology services provider Transplace said today that Brooks Bentz has joined the company in a newly-created role as president of Transplace Consulting in conjunction with the launch of the company’s new North American consulting services practice.

The advent of e-commerce continues to grow and gain increased traction over time. The many ways for consumers to order and purchase goods online continues to expand and leads to various subsequent byproducts of online purchases, including shopping through multiple channels, and delivery and payment options, among other things. These types of topics serve as the thesis in the second annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Global Study issued this week by UPS and comScore Inc.

A major highlight of CEVA’s fourth quarter performance was its new business wins, which were up 14 percent for all of 2014, with Freight Management wins up 14 percent, and Ocean Freight and Air Freight wins up 30 percent and 14 percent, respectively, while Contract Logistics wins were up 2 percent.

When an industry is changing rapidly, companies must adapt in order to survive. In this whitepaper, a global publisher was seeking a partner that could mitigate risk and build a platform flexible enough for their shifting customer expectations. The solution enabled the company to rewrite their operations game plan and transform their supply chain.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA