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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF christens Chicago-area multi-modal facility, ponders similar all-service centers

Burlington Northern Santa Fe is aiming to entice shippers with one-stop terminals — multi-modal facilities designed to integrate rail, truck, intermodal, distribution and warehousing services in one location. In January, the railroad took a step in that direction when it began handling Hyundai Motor America's vehicles at the Alliance, Texas intermodal terminal.

On Oct. 14, BNSF made a giant leap forward by officially opening BNSF Logistics Park — Chicago, a 621-acre multi-modal facility in Elwood, Ill., 40 miles southwest of Chicago.

Since early September, the railroad has been offering intermodal and automotive-handling services at the park. In the future, BNSF plans to add up to 445 acres to provide multi-user carload, transload and warehousing services.

"Railroads have to find new ways to dig deeper into customers' supply chains," said BNSF Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Rose at the opening ceremony. "With Logistics Park, we can offer customers a new level of logistics integration."

Because shippers around the world daily move 15 million containers by rail, truck or ship — and that figure is expected to double in 15 years — intermodal is the future growth engine for railroads, says Rose.

That growth potential helped prompt BNSF to spend $240 million to develop Logistics Park, which has an initial 400,000-lift capacity, and currently is used by Maersk Sealand Inc. and Hanjin Shipping. American Honda Motor Co., American Isuzu Motors, American Suzuki Motor, Ford Motor Co./UPS Logistics, Hyundai Motor America, KIA Motors America, Mitsubishi Motor Sales, Nissan North America and Subaru of America use some of the 151-acre automotive facility's 4,393 vehicle bays.

BNSF plans to reduce Chicago-area truck moves by enabling shippers to consolidate their Windy City freight at Logistics Park regardless of West Coast port origination.

Other Class Is also may interchange with BNSF at the facility instead of switching via The Belt Railway Co. of Chicago and Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co., which would save a day or two in transit time, says Richard Russack, BNSF vice president of corporate relations.

BNSF plans to use its Alliance terminal and Logistics Park as templates for future multi-modal facilities around the country — including a similar terminal in California — depending on the use and growth of Logistics Park, says Russack.

Jeff Stagl

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/15/2002