CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) has taken steps to significantly upgrade its intermodal offerings out of its terminal in northwest Ohio.
Both CSX and BNSF announced Tuesday that they had reached agreement that would allow intermodal service on BNSF out of the ports of Los Angeles & Long Beach to be hauled directly into the CSX terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio. The service will be five days a week and run both eastbound and westbound.
A BNSF spokeswoman said the service would continue to run through Chicago, which is the easternmost point of the BNSF intermodal system. But there won’t need to move containers from the BNSF terminal in Chicago to that of CSX. Intermodal consultant Brian Bowers (who is on the Board of Advisors of FreightWaves) said that transfer now needed to be undertaken by truck.
“The beauty of this is that the one train stays intact as it goes railroad to railroad and it won’t get grounded in Chicago,” Bowers said. “It won’t get delayed and all this handling doesn’t need to occur.”
The service commences October 29.
In the other CSX announcement regarding expanded offerings, it will begin intermodal service to the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal—as the North Baltimore facility is formally known— from the port of New York/New Jersey.
With all this new traffic coming through Northwest Ohio, the terminal will need an expansion. CSX said it would build a logistics park adjacent to the existing terminal, on a site that has approximately 500 acres for construction. “The logistics park will include traditional warehousing and distribution capabilities, as well as value-added services such as a container yard and equipment storage, export container stuffing, and transload and breakbulk resources, all within a heavy-haul local corridor,” CSX said in its announcement.
CSX is easily the most controversial railroad among the class 1 companies. It continues to implement precision railroading, and its operating ratio last quarter was less than 60%, the envy of the industry. But after a disastrous service offering at the end of 2017 and into 2018, the grumbling is that the precision railroading push into lower ORs is coming at the cost of service.
CSX appeared to be acknowledging that, and rebutting it too, when it said in its announcement: “This suite of new services and support are enabled by the improved train plan and simplified switching operation at the Northwest Ohio terminal, which will contribute to long-term, profitable intermodal growth.”
“This is a positive step,” Bowers said. “There has been a lot of negative news about CSX. They’ve introduced these new services in a way that is reasonable for customers. It brings real value and this time, they really need it.”