CSX Corp. will spend about $2.3 billion on capital projects for regular maintenance and upgrades to its freight rail network in 2013, including to build an intermodal terminal in Canada, the company announced last week.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX is the second major North American railroad to announce its investment plans for the upcoming year. A few days earlier, western railroad BNSF said it planned to spend about $4.1 billion on its facilities this year. CSX has invested $7.8 billion in its network the past four years. Last year, North American Class I railroads invested more than $20 billion in tracks, yards, technology and equipment.
The investments reflect the profitability of the freight railroads and their desire to keep up with growing demand as the population, highway congestion, international trade and U.S. reindustrialization increase.
Many of CSX's investments are related to long-term initiatives, such as the National Gateway project to create double-stack intermodal train access between Mid-Atlantic ports and the Midwest. The 2013 investments include $325 million associated with the federally mandated implementation of Positive Train Control technology.
CSX, one of two major railroads that operate in the eastern half of the United States, also announced plans to build an 89-acre intermodal terminal between Montreal and Quebec. Trains serving the terminal will connect to U.S. cities through CSX's new, ultra-modern intermodal hub in Northwest Ohio.
Construction is expected to start in the spring and the terminal is expected to open for business in 2015.
The terminal will be located in the Perron Industrial Park in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, close to the new Autoroute 30 highway that provides access to distribution centers in the Montreal area. The province of Quebec and the city have agreed to make improvements to the road network around the terminal and the Quebec Ministry of Transportation is providing a $6 million grant for reduction of greenhouse emissions, CSX said.
The terminal is expected to sort up to 100,000 containers per year, using rubber-tire gantry cranes for truck-rail transfers.
In response to community planning needs, CSX Transportation will also relocate a portion of its main line in residential areas of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield to a location south of Autoroute 530, alongside the new terminal in the industrial park.
The project is subject to regulatory approval from the Canadian Transportation Agency.
As previously reported, CSX also said it will spend $26 million to add capacity to its River Line between northern New Jersey and Albany, N.Y. It will construct 18 miles of second track over the next two to three years to keep up with growth in intermodal, automobile, crude oil and other shipments on its Chicago-to-New York corridor.
In related news, CSX has also opened a double-stack route on its line between the New York border and the newly expanded intermodal terminal in Worcester, Mass. CSX said making the vertical clearances in 31 locations to handle cars with stacked containers will reduce transit times by as much as 24 hours and allow New England shippers to seamlessly connect to the rest of the CSX network. Previously, double-stack trains coming to New England from the Midwest or the West had to stop in Syracuse, N.Y., to be converted from double-stack to single-stack, and vice versa.
The freight improvement project was part of a larger agreement with the state of Massachusetts to acquire CSX Transportation's rail lines in the Boston area to increase commuter rail service to Worcester and other communities. Under the deal, the state raised highway bridges while CSX took responsibility for lowering tracks.
"This is an excellent example of how the public and private sector can work together on projects that benefit the public, strengthen the economy, and enable highway to rail freight conversion to reduce strain on public infrastructure and serve supply chains seamlessly," Clarence W. Gooden, CSX's executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in a statement. - Eric Kulisch