Truckload carrier Schneider National, in collaboration with rail companies CSX and Kansas City Southern (KCS) and the Marion Ohio Industrial Center, has opened an Ohio Valley intermodal facility. Dedicated intermodal trains will run between Marion, Ohio, and Kansas City with highway service on either end provided by Schneider.
Schneider will operate the intermodal ramp in Marion, and CSX will provide four trains, allowing departures six days a week in each direction. The dedicated intermodal service will cut up to one day off existing transit times for freight originating in the Ohio Valley, according to Schneider.
Through its connection with KCS, Schneider will be able to interchange at Kansas City and provide access to Mexico and the Pacific Northwest. "We won't see that on day two," points out Scott Arves, president of transportation for Schneider, "but maybe on day 32." Taking a more serious tone, he says that following the start-up in June, Schneider plans to increase volumes through the facility and should be at a substantial level by September. Schneider and its partners have made a considerable commitment to serve their customers' shipping needs, Arves notes.
Marion, near Cincinnati and Columbus, provides ready access to a number of existing Schneider customers. The Marion Ohio Industrial Center offers a large, undeveloped space along a rail spur that connects to a CSX mainline track and has provisions to add access for additional intermodal cranes to accommodate growth.
Asked why Schneider didn't elect to move into the Neomodal intermodal facility located in Navarre, Ohio, company officials explained that direct access to an east-west mainline and proximity to an existing customer base were driving factors even though facilities had to be constructed for Schneider, a process that they said moved quickly but still involved a number of months for negotiation and construction.
Just off the CSX mainline, in close proximity to the Schneider operation, is one of Whirlpool's largest production facilities, as well as plants for Boise Cascade and Pillsbury. Schneider plans to target opportunities within 50- to 100-miles of the facility.
James Hertwig, president of CSX Intermodal, welcomed the opportunity to team with Schneider and, when asked about rail performance, he expressed confidence that the CSX intermodal connections in a triangle from Florida to New York and west to Chicago are solid. Some of the figures being published are not the most current, he points out, and train speeds and on-time performance have improved. He says that even when everyone was focused on the Union Pacific railroad in the West, their performance in certain corridors was not as bad as what was generally reported.
On both the rail and truckload side, company officials agree that the Marion facility will provide improved efficiency by avoiding some of the congestion in the Chicago area — especially during peak season when large volumes of import containers are moving over the intermodal ramps there.
Intermodal containers or trailers moving through Kansas City will be drayed cross-town to KCS, where they can take advantage of the railroad's north-south connections. Schneider expects to see significant opportunities develop through this connection with Mexico. Schneider has established operations there, and the intermodal connection from a Schneider run ramp at Marion into or out of Mexico is expected to grow.
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