CSX Transportation, the main unit of eastern railroad company CSX Corp., said today it will expand its domestic intermodal service on Nov. 2 by adding Dallas and the central Pennsylvania town of Chambersburg to its network that operates from the railroad's intermodal container-transfer facility in Northwest Ohio.
CSX will run two separate trains, with one connecting the Ohio Valley hub, located in the city of North Baltimore, to Chambersburg, and a second linking North Baltimore and Dallas. Both will provide daily service. Depending on the day that the equipment arrives at North Baltimore, deliveries will be made within two to four days, CSX said in a communiqué posted today on its web site. For example, a container bound for Chambersburg that enters the North Baltimore facility at 5 p.m. on Monday is scheduled to arrive Wednesday at 1 p.m. For Dallas-bound shipments, containers that enter North Baltimore on Monday at 5 p.m. will arrive in Dallas at 3 p.m. on Thursday, CSX said.
Opened in 2011, the North Baltimore facility is the pivot of a hub-and-spoke operation where freight arriving from nationwide points is transferred to double-stack trains for delivery throughout the East. It enables rail shippers to bypass the notorious "choke point" of Chicago, and thus can reduce transit times by up to two days between West Coast ports and distribution centers in the Ohio Valley, CSX officials have said. The facility is structured to enable CSX to serve markets that lack the density to justify the start-up costs of point-to-point service.
In the communiqué, CSX said the new service will provide a "competitive transit alternative to over-the-road shipping, delivering both capacity and cost-savings benefits." CSX, like its railroad brethren, has a multiyear intermodal strategy to capture highway traffic and divert it to the rails. The opportunity for diversion is greater in the eastern U.S. than in the west because of its denser population and the close proximity of commerce centers that have in the past been the near-exclusive domain of truck service.
The announcement comes five weeks after Norfolk Southern Corp., CSX's arch-rival in the east, said it would scale back its "Triple Crown Services" truck and rail trailer operation to provide service only to the automotive industry. For automotive carriage, Norfolk Southern uses truck equipment called "RoadRailers" that don't require lifts needed for other intermodal freight. Other commodities that had moved on the service would be converted to containerized equipment, Norfolk Southern said at the time.