NS to Try Expedited L-T-C Service

Norfolk Southern plans to offer an expedited less-than-carload service between Chicago and Miami via Atlanta.

The door-to-door service involves having trucks pick up small loads and deliver them to a rail-served warehouse for loading aboard boxcars that will be moved via intermodal trains. Trucks will also make the “last mile” delivery to the shipment’s destination.

Ed Elkins, NS vice president of industrial products, said the service is boxcars with pallets of freight moving inside.

The service, to be known as Thoroughbred Freight Transfer service, is experimental and involves  Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami. Elkins said it will test whether NS can convert highway traffic to rail.

NS plans to forward the boxcars on trains 215/216 between Chicago and Atlanta, and trains 209/214 between Atlanta and Jacksonville.

In Jacksonville the cars are interchanged with Florida East Coast, which takes them to Miami.

“It’s really an old product … a long time ago railroads did all kinds of this business. Millions of carloads of this business,” Elkins said. “The key is can we find a niche that delivers value to customers that they’re willing to pay for, that solves their problems. And in the current environment, where there’s not a great deal of excess capacity on the highway, this is an experiment that’s very interesting to us.”

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