Norfolk Southern Railway building smaller intermodal rail yards with potential for fewer negative impacts on the surrounding community

National Public Radio had a very interesting news segment on intermodal freight transportation yesterday, focused on the Norfolk Southern Charlotte Intermodal Rail Yard.

Source: Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Norfolk Southern Railway is bucking the trend of building huge intermodal rail yards by building more, smaller intermodal rail yards serving smaller geographic areas.  While most railroads shoot for hauls of at least 1000 miles, NS is working to build smaller intermodal yards closer to the customer, and to profit by hauls of as short as 550 miles.

The result – an intermodal rail yard which could have fewer negative impacts on their host community than the mega-facilities built by other railroads.  Trucks haul just 1200 containers per day out of the Norfolk Southern Charlotte Intermodal Rail Yard, for example, compared to the 4000 – 6000 per day the BNSF Kansas City Intermodal Facility will generate at full buildout.

And, since every container generates not one but several truck trips – to pick up and drop off chassis, and to move freight to nearby and/or distant distribution warehouses – the impact differential could be multiplied three to four times.

Another advantage – since the Norfolk Southern rail yard will be closer to the customer, truck trips will be shorter, and diesel exhaust pollution will be reduced.

For background:

Norfolk Southern’s intermodal facility in Charlotte grows with global trade, Charlotte Business Journal

Opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not represent positions of the Moving Forward Network or its members. All errors are the responsibility of the author.