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Rail News: Intermodal

Indiana can tap intermodal opportunities arising from Chicago congestion, ITI's Finkbiner says

Indiana is well positioned to take advantage of intermodal opportunities presented by “to and through traffic” — loads generated by population centers, but redistributed to other locations.

That’s the message Tom Finkbiner delivered to the sixth annual Indiana Logistics Summit recently held in Indianapolis. During the event, which was presented by the Port of Indiana and Purdue University, the senior chairman of the University of Denver’s Intermodal Transportation Institute said freight distribution patterns are compounded by to and through traffic.

In the Midwest, Chicago has traditionally had a huge competitive advantage as an intermodal hub that’s home to a terminus for all seven Class Is, he said.

“Chicago [is] the natural North American hub for rail freight, with 20 intermodal terminals located in and around the city,” said Finkbiner. “This is a factor that Indiana cannot replicate, as it currently has only two such terminals. Railroads have also grown 85 percent in terms of tonnage handled since deregulation in 1980, which only further adds to the freight congestion in Chicago.”

As rail and highway congestion continues to exacerbate in the Chicago hub, opportunities are opening up for demographically and geographically attractive areas, such as Indiana, to develop intermodal facilities and services.

“The message for Indiana’s public policymakers and logistics developers is to understand that simply providing money and facilities will not guarantee bringing additional intermodal freight or services to the state, however,” said Finkbiner. “To do so will require the development of carefully thought-out, intelligent transportation systems that are multi-modal, interconnected, energy-efficient, and most of all, consumer-responsive in nature if the region is going to benefit from new intermodal opportunities.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/17/2008