New West Virginia Intermodal Facility Opens
The long-anticipated Heartland Intermodal Gateway terminal has opened near Pritchard, West Virginia, on a 76-acre site donated by the Norfolk Southern Railway.
Owned by the West Virginia Port Authority (WVPA), the new terminal “will give industries in the tri-state area (West Virginia-Kentucky-Ohio) more modern and efficient freight container service and enhanced access to international rail lines,” according to the West Virginia Port Authority.
The facility will be served by the Norfolk Southern on its line linking Prichard and Chicago via Columbus, Ohio, for freight flowing to and from points west with eastbound double-stack (DST) service provided to the deep-water Port of Norfolk, Virginia, along its Heartland Corridor.
Officials hope the terminal, the first of its kind in the state, can mirror the growth generated by other inland intermodal facilities at Front Royal, Virginia, and Greer, South Carolina.
“They’re moving large amounts of containers,” said WVPA Executive Director Neal Vance. “They’re starting to see warehousing and distribution centers pop up along the edge of their properties and I really think we could potentially see that here.”
Companies utilizing the new terminal, said Vance, could see a savings of up to $891 per container instead of driving 461 miles by truck from nearby Huntington to Norfolk. In addition, shippers could see savings of as much as $681 if trucks come to Prichard instead of driving to an intermodal facility 150 miles to the north in Columbus, Ohio.
According to regional media reports, efforts to market the new Heartland Intermodal Gateway are ongoing through the West Virginia and Virginia port authorities, the West Virginia Development Office, and Norfolk Southern with an official opening planned for this spring.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration figures, intermodal traffic has been the fastest-growing segment of the freight rail industry since 1980.
U.S. intermodal facilities, it says, shipped a record 13.5 million containers and trailers in 2014 and accounted for 22 percent of the revenue generated by the nation’s Class I rail carriers such as Norfolk Southern, CSX, and the Union Pacific.