Rail intermodal growth could spark expansions for bulk terminals

A recent rail intermodal traffic report could benefit bulk terminal owners, if some of the suggestions come to fruition. Two analysts, Thomas R Brown and Anthony B Hatch, conducted research that indicates rail intermodal transportation, including bulk tank containers, has posted an eight percent growth over the past three months, according to information from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

In addition, the analysts project an annual growth rate of five percent for intermodal over the next several years, its highest rate in five years. As part of the report, the analysts suggest that increasing rail traffic reduces truck traffic on the nation's highways, which would enhance highway safety. To encourage rail development with the safety aspects in mind, they recommend the implementation of various policies that would enhance services. Among those is a suggestion to encourage tax incentives and tax-exempt financing for companies that make investments in intermodal infrastructure, such as new terminals and the technology to connects shippers and intermodal companies in real time.

In 1999 and 2000, the freight rail industry invested over $14 billion, representing one-fifth of its revenues for that period, in intermodal. Information systems were upgraded, terminals were added, and state-of-the-art locomotives and intermodal cars were purchased, according to AAR.

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