First-ever West Coast intermodal service means big opportunity for Indiana.
There has never been regular intermodal rail service from the thriving West Coast ports to Indiana’ until now. A new partnership between the CSX and Union Pacific railroads has opened a route from Los Angeles to the CSX intermodal facility in Avon, Ind. CSX announced the five-day-a-week service on Sept. 15 and the first West Coast containers arrived Sept. 29. This intermodal service will be one of many new opportunities discussed at the Indiana Logistics Summit, Nov. 12, at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. As intermodal development is being explored at multiple locations in Indiana, an entire afternoon session will feature intermodal rail and some of the nation’s foremost experts.
Speakers will include: Thomas Finkbiner: Senior Chairman of the Intermodal Transportation Institute and former senior executive with Pacer Stacktrain, Quality Distribution, Norfolk Southern Corp., North American Van Lines, Airborne Freight Corp. and Roadway Express. Michael Mullen: CEO of CenterPoint Properties, the largest industrial real estate developer in Chicago and developer of the 2,500-acre, $1 billion intermodal facility in Joliet, Ill.’ one of the largest private developments ever undertaken in the United States. Joe Dubord, Assistant Vice President of Distribution Services for TJX, Inc., the Fortune 150 parent company of retailers: TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, AJ Wright, Winners (Canada) and TK Maxx (Europe). TJX operates 2,600 stores with net sales of just over $18 billion.
In Indiana alone, TJX employs over 4,000 people, operates more than 30 stores and has three large distribution centers: a 500,000-sq.ft. AJ Wright facility in South Bend, an 800,000-sq.ft. HomeGoods facility in Brownsburg and a 1.1 million-sq.ft. TJ Maxx facility in Evansville. At the summit, Dubord will explain what the new L.A.-to-Indy intermodal service means to his Brownsburg operation and central Indiana. ‘We’ve been trying to get this for seven years,’ Dubord said. ‘Being able to pickup our L.A. shipments in Avon completely eliminates the detention cost we would normally pay on containers coming out of Chicago. The container can be at our facility two hours after it arrives in Avon. As word gets out, anybody with warehousing in central Indiana is going to be saying, ‘Hey, where are we on this?’’
‘Dubord estimated his Brownsburg facility gets at least 70 rail containers per week and pays thousands of dollars in detention fees each year. The new Avon service allows TJX to send containers from Los Angeles to Indianapolis by rail instead of through Chicago to be trucked to Indianapolis. Since the Avon service is new, containers are still being exchanged by truck between the western railroad (Union Pacific) and the eastern railroad (CSX) in St. Louis. But Dubord expects that exchange will be done by rail as more Indiana shippers start using the service, which would speed up shipments and lower costs. Currently the timing and transport costs are about the same for the Avon service as going through Chicago, but reducing detention fees alone made it worthwhile for TJX. Dubord plans to explain the benefits of this service at the summit so more shippers will start using it, which will improve its efficiency for everyone.