NS, UP interline revamp to require crosstown drays
Ari Ashe, Associate Editor | Jun 04, 2019 5:10PM EDT
Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific are adjusting service on nearly 100 domestic and international intermodal routes, many of which will require shippers now to book drayage between rail terminals in Chicago. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Norfolk Southern Railway and Union Pacific Railroad are changing interline intermodal service on nearly 100 lanes beginning July 1, adjustments that will result in eliminating steel-wheel interchanges on more than 70 international lanes from the eastern US to California and the Pacific Northwest.
The move will force shippers to use crosstown drayage on four lanes, and adjust the destination terminal on 18 lanes. NS will require shippers to use crosstown drayage on 78 lanes to the West Coast.
The four UP domestic interline lanes being eliminated are City of Industry, outside of Los Angeles, to Buffalo, New York, and Dallas to Buffalo; Toledo, Ohio; and Taylor, Pennsylvania. Shippers using this lane will have to pick up containers at Global 1 for the City of Industry lane, and Global 4 for the Dallas lanes, then use truck transportation to NS’s 47th Street or 63rd Street terminals.
NS’s international intermodal changes are far more extensive to beneficial cargo owners.
International loads originating in Baltimore, Buffalo, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Norfolk, New York-New Jersey, and Pittsburgh with destinations in California or the Pacific Northwest will have to drayed from NS’s 47th, 63rd Street, or Landers terminals to UP’s Global 4 to reach its final destination.
This is the second wave of lane adjustments by the two Class I railroads, both of which are instituting principles of precision scheduled railroading (PSR). The two railroads eliminated more than 425 domestic and nearly 100 interline routes in January and February. These eliminations are both geared towards establishing core tenants of PSR, such as getting rid of unnecessary touches to uncouple flatcars or well cars.
By shifting the responsibility to the shipper to move containers between rail terminals, railroads can focus on building local trains with strict cutoff times. Draymen bring the containers into the terminal and then those boxes get loaded onto a local train.
“In January and February, Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern rationalized small-volume lanes to reduce train complexity. At that time, we also designed new high-density blocking that will increase the velocity on our interchange at our major interline gateways. The result of this initiative will be a more fluid and less complex interchange between the two rail carriers in Chicago and Memphis, which will reduce transit times and improve customers' experience,” UP wrote in a May 31 announcement.
“These changes are designed to reduce train plan complexity along key routes, allow for greater operational flexibility, and improve terminal fluidity in key markets,” NS added in its announcement.
But as was the case with CSX Transportation’s interline changes, railroads are shifting the complexity onto shippers and it will likely cost them more money.
The full list of changes can be found on the Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern websites.
Contact Ari Ashe at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: @arijashe.