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Is Rail in Your Economic Development Tool Kit?

If your region includes access to freight rail, are you leveraging it as part of your economic development tool kit? Have you included it as a strategy to attract companies that use rail in your land-use and economic development plan?

Consider this:

When a site selection project is driven by a logistics-focused process, having freight railroad can give your region a significant competitive advantage. In a recent Area Development article entitled “Freight Corridors & Logistics Hubs Shape the Location Decision,” Senior Locations Strategist for Werner Global Logistics, Bill Luttrell, wrote:  “While labor access and costs are still considered to be the number-one criteria in most surveys, for manufacturing and distribution location projects, logistics is a very close second and, in many cases, actually the most important criterion, having surpassed real estate as the historical second largest cost item.”

If your region is in a freight corridor, there are common challenges that can be alleviated by freight rail. The most prevalent is congestion, as heavy usage of infrastructure leads to capacity limitations. Freight rail eases highway congestion, which reduces air pollution and improves highway safety.

  • If just 10% of the freight that currently moves by truck were diverted to rail instead, fuel savings would approach 1 billion gallons per year.
  • Rail can move a ton of freight nearly 500 miles on a single gallon of fuel.
  • An intermodal train with 200 containers would form a truck convoy covering 12 miles of highway.
  • A single train can carry the load of more than 280 trucks.

Freight railroads are privately funded and invest massive amounts of private money each year to maintain and modernize the rail network with little or no help from the government. Since 1980, railroads in the United States have invested $575 billion back into capital needs and expansion.

It’s all about job creation, right? Freight rail is a powerful job creation engine, contributing nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars of economic activity annually in the U.S. This translates into thousands and thousands of direct and indirect jobs in every sector of the economy. Supporting a healthy freight rail network is a key to job growth and continued economic recovery.

Freight rail can be leveraged for your region’s economic growth, and the CSX Industrial Development team can help. Critical to this is identifying and protecting freight rail corridors. Understand land use and transportation interface considerations, and:

  1. Protect freight rail corridors from non-rail uses and create inventories of rail-served industrial sites to attract rail users.
  2. Use inventories of non-rail sites to protect rail sites for those requiring rail.
  3. Understand your regions business environment to attract rail users.
  4. Use long term comprehensive planning opportunities to enhance potential rail served locations.