Category Archives: Rail

BNSF plans $1.5B Southern California facility for intermodal, transloading

This has been a winning strategy in the past for BNSF and other Class I rails. I am reminded of the Centerpoint facility near Chicago, which provides BNSF a transfer point in the Midwest. But Centerpoint was developed with money from investors, CalPERS being the largest. BNSF hopes to be the prime developer in Barstow, CA.

In case you don’t know where that is, Barstow is in the middle of the Mojave desert, 132 miles from the Port of LA (about 2 hr 27min as I look at Google Maps). It is right on I-15, the main route the movie stars take to go to Las Vegas from LA. Parts of it around San Bernardino are already traffic jams at many hours. However, the BNSF vision is that containers from the port will move by train, reducing traffic on I-15 and other LA freeways.

The Alameda Corridor already moves containers inland a good 20 miles. It’s a double-stack double-track route. BNSF will ensure good rail service from the Barstow yards to the ports.

Transloading and distribution warehouses will be built near Barstow on the BNSF complex. I believe BNSF sees this as a good real estate play as well as a plan to improve container rail service.

I am wondering if the plans for Barstow include customs processing. If so, that would be good for both imports and exports, because they would not have to wait for customs on the ports. That would aid in reducing port congestion.

Joanna Marsh Monday, October 3, 2022

BNSF plans $1.5B Southern California facility for intermodal, transloading – FreightWaves

Midwest soybean farmers to help pay for Pacific Northwest export terminal; rail service is risky for harvest this year.

Soybean exports are one of the US major sources of export revenue. China is the biggest consumer of soybeans that are exported, about half the US crop. The US competes with Brazil for the Far East soybean market.

Most soybeans to China are for pig feed. However, they can be used to produce biofuel as well.

The new port, in Aberdeen, WA, near Seattle and Tacoma, will export soybean meal. Six state Soybean Associations will chip in to cover the cost, along with the Soy Transportation Coalition. They’ll contribute $900K of the cost.

The terminal will have rail service, involving an interchange between the BNSF and UP main lines, which are predominant in service to Midwest farmers and their elevators, and the Puget Sound and Pacific line, which goes right to the port.

Like the agricultural shipping terminal near Oakland, CA, this facility ought to be of great value in exporting soybean products.

Elsewhere, corn farmers in the US Midwest are worried that railroad inefficiency and poor reliability will prevent grain exports from being shipped as the harvest comes on. A good summary of the situation is in the second article.

Many elevators rely on rail transport to get their grain to a port for export. Some can use barges down the Mississippi, but others, in locations more than 200 mi. from a Mississippi port, use rail at local sidings at elevators. Railroads will need to up their game to support the US export market for agricultural products.

Joanna Marsh Thursday, September 1, 2022

Midwest soybean farmers to help pay for Pacific Northwest export terminal – FreightWaves

 Joanna Marsh Friday, September 2, 2022

Grain shippers eye hiccups on rail network

US freight rail links reach deal with unions

Unions have reached a deal with rail lines on a contract for the next five years.

There will be a 24% wage increase over the next five years, with 14.1% immediate, and five payouts of $1000 per worker.

The terms are along the lines recommended by the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB). The board was appointed to prevent workers from striking for 30 days while the disputants continued talking, and to make recommendations for a reasonable settlement.

This agreement should provide a framework for the additional unions that have not reached agreements yet.

It’s good to know that it’s likely there will not be a rail strike this fall to disrupt supply chains that use rail. We have enough disruptions now, and need to get back to something approaching normal in the rail industry.

Rail is currently viewed in the US as one of the major factors in port congestion today. The rails claim that they have labor shortages. The increased salaries might help them keep and recruit workers. The other factor is work load, and that will be determined by the interaction between the union workers and the management at the rail locations throughout the country.

August 30, 2022 ByJack Donnelly

US freight rail links reach deal with unions – Port Technology International