Tunnels and other rail infrastructure will be the prime beneficiaries of a $160 million investment that CSX Corp. has pledged to the massive National Gateway rail project, designed to improve freight rail flow nationwide.
A public-private partnership, the $842 million National Gateway project aims to increase the use of double-stack trains and to develop more efficient rail routes linking mid-Atlantic ports with the Midwest.
CSX, based in Jacksonville, FL, announced Thursday (May 19) that it would commit $160 million to the project over the next several years.
|Revamping tunnels and other infrastructure to accommodate double-stack freight trains is a key goal of the National Gateway rail project.|
Most of the money will be used to expand and improve the century-old Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington, D.C., and to provide double-stack train clearances in Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
More Port Traffic Seen
“Through the National Gateway, CSX and its public partners are working together to vastly improve the quality and flexibility of the Eastern rail network,” said Michael J. Ward, CSX chairman, president and CEO.
“With today’s new $160 million commitment, CSX will have obligated a total of about $575 million over several years to better meet the needs of our customers, our states and our ports.”
The National Gateway project will move more CSX customer freight on double-stack trains between the Midwest and the ports of Baltimore, Virginia, and Wilmington, the company said in a release.
“This will be especially important as the Panama Canal expansion brings more traffic through these ports,” it added.
Officials say the rail project will create 50,000 jobs and convert more than 14 billion highway miles to rail, saving millions of dollars in highway maintenance costs.
More than 300 public and private sector organizations and individuals are involved in the effort.
1 Gallon, 1 Ton, 500 Miles
The National Gateway project will clear 61 obstructions and build or expand six intermodal facilities along CSX’s network in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and the District of Columbia, said CSX.
The company provides rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services over a 21,000-mile network across 23 Eastern states and the District of Columbia.
Freight trains can move one ton of freight nearly 500 miles on a single gallon of fuel, and double-stack trains along the National Gateway are expected to deliver twice as many goods on one trip, according to CSX.
Thus, the project could save nearly two billion gallons of fuel and eliminate 20 million tons of CO2 emissions in the first 30 years of operation, the railway said.
Regional transportation officials greeted CSX’s announcement with enthusiasm, saying the project would improve rail traffic through the East and along the Interstate 95 rail corridor.
Washington D.C. Department of Transportation Terry Bellamy said the project would “help improve the flow of rail traffic through the District and the region.”
Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley said National Gateway would “allow Maryland to compete globally while creating jobs and growing the economy locally.”
And Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said the initiative would “open new business opportunities for the Port of Virginia and position the Commonwealth to be even more competitive in the global economy.”