Although the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed back construction timelines, Eastern U.S. railroad CSX Corporation (NASDAQ:CSX) is forging ahead with the construction of two new intermodal terminals, one in Rocky Mount in eastern North Carolina and the other in North Baltimore in northwest Ohio.
CSX expects to complete construction of both the North Carolina project, known as the Carolina Connector or CCX, and the northwest Ohio project in early 2021.
CCX will be located on the CSX network and near the Triangle area of North Carolina, according to CSX's environmental, social and governance sustainability report for 2019. The terminal will have three wide-span, zero-emission electric cranes with an annual lift capacity of 110,000 containers, CSX said. Container handling will be completely automatic, with operators remotely controlling the initial lift and final placement from inside the terminal building, CSX said in the report.
The site of CSX's intermodal terminal in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. (Photograph: CSX)
Meanwhile, the northwest Ohio intermodal terminal will have seven zero-emission, wide-span electric cranes, with each crane having a 46-ton capacity that will allow efficient container movement between trains and trucks. CSX anticipates a lower time because of an operating system technology involving the cranes, the gates at the terminal and the terminal itself.
New equipment is part of the plan for CSX's new intermodal terminals. (Photo: CSX)
FreightWaves recently communicated with Rob Girardot, CSX intermodal director of strategy and analytics. Here's what he said:
FreightWaves: How will expansion at this location, versus another location in the state or the region, help with improving CSX's network efficiency?
Giradrot: Both CCX and northwest Ohio terminals are strategically located on our network to provide efficient, reliable freight transportation solutions for CSX customers. The terminals are positioned to offer shippers the opportunity to efficiently link domestic and international goods to large production and consumption areas.
The terminal at night. (Photo: CSX)
CCX sits at the nexus of our high-speed, high-capacity I-95 corridor and our east-west national gateway route. CCX will enable CSX to add services between the North Carolina/Virginia region and Midwest markets, including connections beyond Chicago. Longer term, CCX could play a role in connecting the Southeast and Northeast markets. CCX will also provide inland port solutions to the central North Carolina and Virginia region. In this role, CCX will link exporters and consumers within this inland region more effectively to the global economy.
Our northwest Ohio terminal offers direct service to major ports on both the East and West coasts. CSX is in the planning stages to capitalize on northwest Ohio's unique intermodal connectivity and develop a logistics park adjacent to our terminal. We are working with major agricultural export companies to provide on-site bulk-to-container transloading, which will link Ohio farmers to both coasts.
FreightWaves: Will there be something "unique" to each facility that might not be at other, older CSX terminals?
Girardot: Technology is revolutionizing the railroad industry and at CSX. It underpins everything we do. CCX will be our most technologically advanced terminal to date. Our cranes are state of the art, and from an environmental standpoint, we are ensuring that our drayage community can access the facility in the most optimal way possible. What makes CCX unique is that we are building on the successes of our previous terminals in this layout. CCX is taking advantage of our best terminal designs and will have a reduced, dense footprint to best optimize the terminal. CCX will include ultra-efficient, zero-emission electric cranes, X-Gate, self-service kiosks and machine vision technology designed to increase performance inspections and validations.
CSX is deploying state-of-the-art technology at the intermodal terminals in Ohio and North Carolina. (Photo: CSX)
As technology advances, we are able to utilize more efficient equipment, enhance automation, improve safety by reducing worker exposure and reduce environmental impacts while advancing more efficient operations.
FreightWaves: How will these terminals change existing connections?
Girardot: These terminals have been developed with long-term connectivity in mind. They are located on high-density routes that will provide a wide variety of options for linking their respective regions to domestic production and consumer markets as well as to the global logistics chain through direct connections to both East and West Coast ports. This gives us the ability to route cargo faster, more efficiently and more reliably for the present, as well as the long term, as production and consumption patterns evolve.