NORFOLK Southern Corporation (NS), Norfolk Virginia, knows that shippers constantly look for ways to maximize their transportation budget. The railroad company helps them fulfill that aim by providing efficient and convenient transloading facilities, the newest operated by Tidewater Transit in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“For those receiver plants that do not have access to rail, or have not used rail recently, our Thoroughbred Bulk Terminals (TBT) are an easy way customers can access rail service, and begin to benefit from the rail economics of a rail/bulk terminal logistics solution,” says Mike Webb, Norfolk Southern manager, modalgistics.
The newest member of the Thoroughbred network, the facility in Fayetteville provides eastern North Carolina and South Carolina with access to the NS transload network, and complements the Carolinas coverage area provided by terminals in South Carolina at Spartanburg and in North Carolina at Winston-Salem and Charlotte.
To establish the Fayetteville site, NS formed a marketing alliance with Tidewater to promote NS traffic at Tidewater's existing facility. In addition, Tidewater, based in Kinston, North Carolina, was chosen to operate an NS-owned transloading facility in Dalton, Georgia.
“Tidewater Transit is excited to have been chosen to manage two of Norfolk Southern's branded bulk terminals,” says Warren Groseclose, Tidewater senior vice-president, sales. “With our strong presence in Southeast markets, our partnership with NS will enhance our ability to serve our customers and offer them additional value-added services at Fayetteville and Dalton.”
Terminal operators must meet premium standards set by NS to operate the railroad company's terminals. Even though Tidewater owns the Fayetteville facility, the company also had to meet NS TBT requirements.
“The Fayetteville facility is the first TBT terminal owned by the operator rather than NS,” says Webb. “The Thoroughbred-branded terminals offer consistent service and high quality.”
With today's security a top priority throughout the transportation industry, NS requires terminal management on site around the clock. All facilities are gated, fenced, and lighted.
Fayetteville provides 50 railcar spots and is expected to generate terminal service for various products. Maximum radius for shippers using the facility could be up to 200 miles.
Products transferred at the terminal include polymers, resins, and deicer. The facility is slated to add other products, including foodgrade and agriculture products, chemicals, and plastic pellets — products that are typical of those handled at other NS facilities.
Throughout the NS network, products originate from producers' plants across North America and recently from Mexico. The majority of product is loaded directly from the producer's plant into a railcar for delivery to the terminal and then into a truck to the final destination. Terminals also can truck in product for transfer to empty railcars for rail shipment.
Like all the NS Thoroughbred Bulk Terminals, Fayetteville product inventory is railcar-based. “Most customers prefer this as it provides readiness at considerable savings over the costs associated with fixed storage, and allows smaller receivers to access rail economics without having rail infrastructure at their plants,” says Webb. “Requests for fixed storage are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”
At the Fayetteville terminal, Tidewater owns all of the transloading equipment. Operators of NS-owned terminals also typically supply equipment and NS provides support where needed.
Equipment at Fayetteville includes a Wilson Manufacturing & Design Inc pneumatic transfer unit with a 100-horsepower Cummins engine and a 12-ton running gear with 16-inch wheels on eight-ply tires. The unit is hydraulically driven. The material is handled only under vacuum and is not subjected to pressure.
Additional services include a steam boiler for product heating, tractor wash, and truck scales.
As for future transloading plans, Webb says: “Currently, NS is reviewing the need to increase capacity to handle this growing market. NS has 29 branded Thoroughbred terminals systemwide, and sees this number growing in the future. The transload markets have experienced double digit growth, and as customers continue to seek cost effective supply chain solutions and learn the value of rail, no end to the trend is expected.”