Posts Tagged ‘North Baltimore Ohio intermodal terminal’

BNSF Linking Seattle and North Baltimore

June 10, 2020

BNSF has introduced domestic intermodal service between Seattle and the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal in North Baltimore operated by CSX.

In a message sent this week to shippers, BNSF said the container-only service will be offered five days a week for eastbound and westbound freight originating and terminating in Seattle.

The notice said containers can be forwarded from North Baltimore to such points as Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Louisville, and Pittsburgh.

Eastbound moves are expected to take 163 hours and westbound moves 167 hours from cutoff to availability.

BNSF has a haulage rights agreement with CSX that began in October 2018 and initially included service between North Baltimore and Los Angeles.

Service to North Baltimore from Northern California was added in April 2019.

BNSF Adding More Service to North Baltimore Terminal

September 28, 2019

BNSF have increased the frequency of intermodal service operating between Los Angles and the CSX Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal at North Baltimore.

A Sunday morning departure from the Hobart terminal in Los Angeles has been added along with a Monday morning departure from North Baltimore.

The container trains operate on CSX under a haulage agreement. The service now runs six days a week.

The run through trains began in October 2018 with CSX crews handling the trains east of Chicago.

BNSF officials have indicated that they will likely begin serving additional West Coast terminals from North Baltimore as their domestic intermodal traffic grows.

The volume growth is being driven by increases in retail and e-commerce, particularly traffic bound for distribution centers.

CSX-BNSF to Launch Ohio-LA Container Service

October 5, 2018

CSX and BNSF said this week they will begin a container service between Los Angeles and Ohio that will use the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal in North Baltimore.

The service will begin on Oct. 29 and originate trains five days a week in each direction.

On BNSF, the containers will move via the Southern Transcon route west of Chicago.

“Customers who take advantage of this new service can reach key markets within the fast-growing Ohio Valley region,” said BNSF Group Vice President Consumer Products Tom Williams in a statement. “Our new Ohio intermodal service will create an efficient, direct service from the West Coast.”

CSX said it will work with NorthPoint Development to construct a 500-acre logistics park adjacent to North Baltimore facility and is expanding eastern access to the facility through new service to and from the Port of New York and New Jersey.

This will involve international traffic that will be trucked from North Baltimore to destinations in southern Michigan, western Ohio, and Indiana.

The logistics park will include traditional warehousing and distribution capabilities, as well as services such as a container yard and equipment storage, export container stuffing, and transload and break-bulk resources, all within a heavy-haul local corridor.

The North Baltimore facility was opened in June 2011. At the time, CSX operated it on a hub and spoke model in which containers from various locations throughout the CSX network were routed there to be interchanged.

The hub and spoke approach was intended to help build traffic density in low-density intermodal markets.

That model was dropped last year when CSX ended the hub and spoke intermodal operating model. At the time, CSX officials said sorting containers in North Baltimore added transit time to traffic that is price- and service-sensitive.

Instead, CSX said it would focus on point-to-point intermodal service in high-volume markets.

The BNSF-CSX agreement means that containers will no longer be trucked across Chicago but instead will move through the city by rail.

Intermodal analyst Larry Gross told Trains magazine that BNSF is trading the cost of trucking containers in Chicago for extended drayage from North Baltimore to destinations that include Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Louisville.

Gross said there is not much drayage capacity at present in North Baltimore, which means the new service is likely initially to appeal to national trucking companies such as J.B. Hunt and Schneider National, which have their own drivers.

“It’s not like drayage capacity will magically appear,” Gross said, but added that he expects local drayage capacity to develop as intermodal volume increases in North Baltimore.

The logistics park CSX plans to develop in North Baltimore will offer opportunities for backhaul moves of agricultural products to Asia.

The park will be similar to logistics parks that BNSF has near its intermodal facilities in Joliet, Illinois; Oklahoma City; Kansas City; and Alliance, Texas.

In the short term, CSX said the number of trains serving the North Baltimore facility won’t change, but is expected to grow over time.

The service that starts on Oct. 29 will use existing intermodal trains that BNSF and CSX interchange in Chicago.

CSX North Baltimore Terminal Takes on New Role as Intermodal Block Swapping Facility

March 2, 2018

The Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal will continue in operation, although as a block-swapping facility for Chicago interchange traffic and serving local intermodal traffic.

The terminal, which opened in 2011, had been built to serve as the centerpiece of a hub-and-spoke network designed to grow traffic in what had been low-density markets.

But CSX decided last year that it was difficult to make money in low-volume intermodal lanes because it meant containers were being handled at origin, at the hub-sorting terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio; and then at the destination.

CSX executives said this added cost, transit time and delays, particularly when trains had to travel on roundabout routes to reach the terminal.

Closing the North Baltimore terminal and ending the hub and spoke model cost CSX 7 percent of its intermodal traffic.

But CSX’s Dean Piacente, vice president of intermodal marketing and sale, said that the carrier has already replaced that lost traffic with more profitable business in higher-volume lanes.

But North Baltimore has taken on a new role of a block-swapping facility for intermodal traffic.

That began last week when CSX and an unnamed Western railroad began forwarding run-through eastbound intermodal traffic from Chicago to North Baltimore, where it is block-swapped for destinations on the CSX system.

Piacente said this will free capacity in Chicago and cut 24 to 48 hours from coast-to-coast transit times. Westbound block swapping will begin soon.

CSX Still Eying North Baltimore Hub Expansion

November 8, 2013
A wide-span crane shuffles containers at the CSX North Baltimore intermodal hub in June 2011. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

A wide-span crane shuffles containers at the CSX North Baltimore intermodal hub in June 2011. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

CSX is still considering expanding its intermodal hub in North Baltimore, Ohio, despite having been turned down earlier this year for a federal grant that would have helped underwrite the expansion.

The news emerged during a visit this week to the facility by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Rusty Orben, CSX’s director of public affairs, had said last May that without a grant picking up half the cost of the North Baltimore expansion, it wouldn’t be built.  But Carla Groleau, a CSX spokeswoman, said this week that the railroad is “still considering our options” for expanding the North Baltimore facility.

The North Baltimore facility currently handles about 2,000 containers per day and originates, terminates, or swaps blocks on about 30 scheduled trains.

The CSX application for TIGER funding that would have covered half of the expansion project’s $42 million cost did not make the U.S. Department of Transportation’s list of new grants announced in September. CSX began operating full-cube double-stacked trains between North Baltimore and Chambersburg, Pa., this past summer.

The North Baltimore facility, formally known as the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal, is part of the railroad’s National Gateway.

The next major project in developing the National Gateway will be enlarging the Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington to allow doublestacks to travel between CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio and Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac main lines. That project is in planning and environmental review.

The importance of intermodal traffic to CSX was underscored by the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Fredrik Eliasson in a presentation at the Baird Industrials Conference in Chicago this week.

Eliasson called intermodal, “a key driver of growth” that now represents 40 percent of CSX’s overall volume and is expected to increase further, reflecting “the attractive economic value of converting freight from highway to rail.”

Eliasson said there is sustained growth in CSX’s merchandise and intermodal businesses, which now comprises more than 80 percent of the company’s volume. CSX expects that business to continue growing at a rate above the general economy, he said.

“CSX employs a dual intermodal strategy that includes both high-density corridors and a hub-and-spoke philosophy that also creates service density to open new small and medium-sized markets—a strategy the company believes is a differentiator in the intermodal marketplace,” Eliasson said.

CSX recently completed the first phase of doublestack clearances in its National Gateway initiative, which is an effort to create an efficient rail route between Mid-Atlantic ports and Midwestern markets.

When the National Gateway is complete in 2015, roughly 95 percent of the railroad’s intermodal traffic will be moving in doublestack lanes.

CSX is building new terminals to expand its reach in markets such as central Florida, Pittsburgh, and Montreal.

It continues to invest in existing terminals to further increase efficiency throughout its network, such as an expansion of its Northwest Ohio hub, which opened in 2011 and has helped alleviate congestion in Chicago while opening up connectivity to markets in the Midwest.

During his visit to North Baltimore this past week, Vice President Biden noted the imminent enlargement of the Panama Canal will double the potential capacity of container ships using that waterway.

Biden described the National Gateway as “the inland version of widening the Panama Canal.”

Although CSX used no public funds to develop its $175 million, 500-acre Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal, which opened in 2011, $98 million of CSX’s $193 million cost for bridge and tunnel clearance work in eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia to link it with a new terminal at Chambersburg, Pa., came from a federal Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery Act grant.

“Without TIGER, there would be no National Gateway,” Biden said, because without the higher bridges and taller tunnels, CSX would not be able to realize the full benefit of double-stack trains to the North Baltimore terminal.

Biden spoke after briefly touring the North Baltimore terminal, including a visit to its training simulator for crane operators and conversations with Oscar Munoz, CSX’s chief operating officer, and Widby Whitt, president of CSX Intermodal Terminals.

The Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal opened in 2011 and CSX says that it employs 300 full-time workers. It is located on 500 acres in Wood County, Ohio, a mile west of North Baltimore.

CSX to Expand Ohio Intermodal Facility

May 23, 2013

CSX recently announced that it will expand its intermodal facility in North Baltimore, Ohio. The $42 million project will extend the terminal tracks by 2.300 feet and add two more cranes that lift containers on and off rail cars.

The railroad is seeking county support to apply for federal grants to pay half of the project cost. CSX spent $175 million on the 500-acre facility, which employs about 300 people and handles 2 million containers annually.

The Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal is located on the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

CSX Shows Off North Baltimore Container Facility

June 30, 2011

Four of the five wide-span electric cranes work the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal nera North Baltimore on Tuesday. CSX opened the facility to the public during a grand opening event.

CSX opened the gates to the public on Tuesday at its Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal and 2,000 people came in to get a glimpse of the $175 million facility situated just west of North Baltimore. The open house featured the North Baltimore High School band and complimentary hot dogs, soft drinks, pretzels, ice cream bars and popcorn. CSX Chairman, President and CEO Michael Ward delivered brief remarks along with Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who is from Akron.

“Ohio is so centrally located that by bringing the trains in here and reassembling them, we can reach so many different markets,” Ward said.

The 500-acre facility is expected to handle 2 million containers a year once fully operational. The terminal opened in late February and currently handles 18 to 20 trains a day. That is expected to increase to 28 to 30 trains daily in late August.

The North Baltimore intermodal facility is part of the $850 million CSX National Gateway network that is expected to be completed by 2014. Recent bridge projects in Akron to raise clearances on the Chicago-Pittsburgh route (former B&O) are part of the construction work related to building the National Gateway. Other bridges are expected to be replaced in Medina County and east of Ravenna.  Most of these are narrow, wood bridges built many decades ago.

The North Baltimore facility features five electric cranes that span the eight processing tracks and a truck lane. The cranes were built by a German company and are nearly silent except for occasional beeping sounds when they are making a move. The cranes lift containers 100 feet in the air to place them on the ground, on trucks or in rail well cars.

The ability of the overhead cranes to work cars on eight tracks at a time sets the North Baltimore intermodal facility apart from other railroad intermodal yards. CSX officials say that typically the cranes or sideloaders used in railroad intermodal yards can work just one track at a time.

Over a 24-hour period, trains converge on the North Baltimore facility to interchange containers. The trains originate at various intermodal facilities scattered over the CSX system, including Cleveland. There are dedicated trains that interchange with Union Pacific and BNSF in Chicago. The westbound trains are blocked at North Baltimore so that they can run through the Windy City once they are handed over to BNSF or UP.

The western railroads in turn block the eastbound trains to be turned over to CSX crews in Chicago without the need for sorting. Previously, trains bound to or the CSX Chicago interchange were broken up in Chicago and reassembled, with some containers traveling across town by highway.

Upon arriving at the North Baltimore facility, well cars and their containers are scanned as they enter the yard. Some blocks of well cars and containers are detached and placed on one of the nine tracks in the support yard. The remaining well cars are moved into the eight processing tracks where the containers are removed and sorted.

Some containers are placed on the ground in stacks for loading onto trucks bound for points in Ohio, Indiana or Michigan, while others are grouped for reloading onto well cars. Sill other containers are removed from one well car and immediately placed into another well car.

Six-wheeled shuttle vehicle move contains among the five cranes to be sorted and loaded.

The processing tracks typically handle well cars in 3,000-foot blocks, although each track is capable of handling a 24,000-foot block of well cars.  Once a block of well cars is loaded, it is moved to the support yard and coupled to the appropriate train.

Four locomotives are assigned to the North Baltimore to do the switching. There is also is usually road power hanging around the terminal waiting for the train it brought in to be reassembled before heading out east or west. Most trains are run-through operations, but some originate and terminate at the North Baltimore facility.

Although capable of handling trailer on flatcar trains, the North Baltimore is not handling those at present and the focus of operations is expected to continue to be containers. Thus some CSX intermodal trains will bypass the facility.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A crane prepares to lift a container and place it in a well car.

A shuttle vehicle moves a container from one crane to another.

Yardmaster Shane Schimpff tracks the progress of a train headed for the North Baltimore intermodal terminal on one of the six screens that show the dispatcher displays. The two screens to the left show the track layout and status of the North Baltimore facility.

The intermodal service representatives track the progress of the loading and unloading of the containers once they are at North Baltimore.