Ship By Rail, Reduce Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions By More Than 12 Million Tons

 

csx-freight-train.jpg

“One train can carry the load of more than 280 trucks.”

If you live near a railroad, you see them every day, flat cars with semi-trailers secured to the deck, or shipping containers stacked two-high. They’re moving freight that isn’t clogging our highways and polluting the air with excess hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide and particulates produced by over-the road trucks.

So says the CSX Railroad, a major carrier of goods in the mid-Atlantic shipping corridor, now positioning itself for $700 million in system improvements. The program is called National Gateway, a project the railroad says will create a more efficient flow of rail traffic between Mid-Atlantic ports and Midwestern markets.





Costs and Funding of National Gateway

CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan, in a podcast interview posted on Planetsave, said the railroad is committing $300 million toward construction of key intermodal terminals in Wood County and South Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

CSX says the terminals will provide a more efficient means of transferring shipping containers and semi-trailers to trucks for local or regional distribution in three major corridors:

  1. I-95 Corridor between North Carolina and Baltimore, Maryland via Washington D.C.
  2. 1-70/I-76 Corridor between Washington, D.C. and northwest Ohio via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  3. Carolina Corridor between Wilmington and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Sullivan said the other $400 million will hopefully come from what they term a public-private partnership, relying on funding from states and private industry in their coverage area. He said the State of Ohio has welcomed the project, but funding from the state has not yet been established.

79 Barriers to Double-Stack Freight Movement

The railroad has pinpointed 79 bridges or tunnels that will need modification before CSX locomotives can transport double-stacked cars.

Sullivan said some bridges and tunnels may only have to be “notched out” to allow the taller traffic, others may have to be raised, or the railroad road bed my need to be lowered.

He said the project will provide $8 in public benefits for every $1 of public money invested.

Once completed, possibly by 2015, CSX will be positioned to carry more intermodal freight between the midwest and mid-Atlantic ports, which they believe will receive more traffic upon completion of the Panama Canal Upgrade project now underway.

Currently, the canal can handle ships carrying no more than 5,000 containers. After completion of the upgrade, ships with 12,000 containers on board will be able to use the canal, increasing the amount of freight potentially reaching mid-Atlantic ports. CSX wants to be ready to handle the increased traffic.

Environmental Impact of Rail vs Long-Haul Truck Shipments

“Trains can move a ton of freight 423 miles on a single gallon of fuel.”

“Rail is the safest mode of ground freight transportation.”

“Shifting 10% of long-haul freight from the highway to the railway would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 12 million tons.”

“Railroads are the most environmentally-friendly and energy efficient way to move goods on land.”

Quotes from the CSX National Gateway website.

The website contains a Carbon Calculator, a handy tool for those interested in calculating the difference a shipper makes by choosing rail. The calculator, according to the railroad, was developed by CSX and is provided for estimating purposes only. Actual emissions savings may vary based on routing and other factors.

Is Biodiesel in the Future for CSX?

In a word, no, at least not now according to Mr. Sullivan. He did say he’d heard of some research into the issue, but was unable to comment.

The CSX website has a section addressing it’s Environmental Stewardship that explains, in company terms, system and equipment improvements that would seem to exclude the use of biofuels in their locomotives.

Photo from CSX

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About the Author

My home state is Illinois, and my hometown a little railroad/farming community named Galesburg.We lived on a small farm during my high school years and I became very aware of nature and it’s wonders. I loved the out of doors, working with animals, plowing fields and harvesting crops. Those were very good years.After a stint in the Army during the Korean war my broadcasting career took off at the local radio station, a 250 watt “teapot” as it was called in those days. My first job was as an engineer, then the ham came out and I became an announcer/newsman, graduating after several years to a larger market and a stint as a TV journalist/photographer. Cold, wet weather led me to the southwest where I’ve lived for most of the last 40 years, with a couple of years out to have fun working as a private investigator in San Francisco, and a few years working in Las Vegas hotels and casinos. In all, its been a real ride.After retiring a few years back I became fascinated with the efforts being made to find alternative energy sources. I’ve watched our environment deteriorate during my lifetime, and now it’s my chance to join the chorus of intelligent and caring individuals making a difference one day at a time.

  • LDJ
  • LDJ
  • Uncle B

    Rail fell apart for good reasons in this country and other countries too – most notably Canada. First the entrenchment of a system that was out of date when it left England was copied and secondly strangulation by Unions – from England too.

    If the USA is to have successful rail systems, they should be designed by aerospace engineers and computer scientists, not ‘group-think’ rail experts, they have shown us what they think, and it doesn’t work! Its Bullshit! Except for very heavy freight.

    Most highschool grads with some electronics theory realize that rail switching systems are really really old!

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that, in most cases, the load on a rail car weights less than the f**king rail car!

    Long, long trains jamb our rail lines, and take weeks to deliver goods. Why can’t we have smaller engines pulling fewer, lighter cars faster?

    A computer controlled fast system designed for light freight that connected inter-city and then to each other,could ‘shunt’ a small load across the country automatically! We Americans just need to pull the rag and invest in the system that serves us the best, and the oil crisis will show that the current diesel truck system is very good, but too expensive. The oil crisis, as it deepens will also drive the required changes in the rail system. Hang on folks! Things are gonna change bigtime!

  • Uncle B

    Rail fell apart for good reasons in this country and other countries too – most notably Canada. First the entrenchment of a system that was out of date when it left England was copied and secondly strangulation by Unions – from England too.

    If the USA is to have successful rail systems, they should be designed by aerospace engineers and computer scientists, not ‘group-think’ rail experts, they have shown us what they think, and it doesn’t work! Its Bullshit! Except for very heavy freight.

    Most highschool grads with some electronics theory realize that rail switching systems are really really old!

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that, in most cases, the load on a rail car weights less than the f**king rail car!

    Long, long trains jamb our rail lines, and take weeks to deliver goods. Why can’t we have smaller engines pulling fewer, lighter cars faster?

    A computer controlled fast system designed for light freight that connected inter-city and then to each other,could ‘shunt’ a small load across the country automatically! We Americans just need to pull the rag and invest in the system that serves us the best, and the oil crisis will show that the current diesel truck system is very good, but too expensive. The oil crisis, as it deepens will also drive the required changes in the rail system. Hang on folks! Things are gonna change bigtime!

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  • Rebecca Furr

    I think the truck and truck driver are once again being cast in a negative light and viewed as being dispensable. I drive a truck for a living and I can tell you right now, I’m not anxious to shuttle freight back and forth from railyards on short mileage, highly nerve wracking runs instead of the long haul, money making, easier on the driver runs. Your plan has an obvious flaw, you’re gonna need drivers to get your freight from railyard to customer and most drivers don’t like that kind of run and will not do it unless their pay is upped to compensate for the extra trouble so there goes your money saving freight option out the window. People always overlook and even demonize truck s and truck drivers but if drivers all took the week off at the same time, you would see the store shelves sitting empty and the gas stations out of gas etc. You might want to investigate what it’s gonna cost to move your freight from rail to customer; it might be an inhibiting factor in your grand plan.

  • Rebecca Furr

    I think the truck and truck driver are once again being cast in a negative light and viewed as being dispensable. I drive a truck for a living and I can tell you right now, I’m not anxious to shuttle freight back and forth from railyards on short mileage, highly nerve wracking runs instead of the long haul, money making, easier on the driver runs. Your plan has an obvious flaw, you’re gonna need drivers to get your freight from railyard to customer and most drivers don’t like that kind of run and will not do it unless their pay is upped to compensate for the extra trouble so there goes your money saving freight option out the window. People always overlook and even demonize truck s and truck drivers but if drivers all took the week off at the same time, you would see the store shelves sitting empty and the gas stations out of gas etc. You might want to investigate what it’s gonna cost to move your freight from rail to customer; it might be an inhibiting factor in your grand plan.