Intermodal Special - UP Rail Ports in Dallas and Tucson promise surge in Intermodal Traffic

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Intermodal News  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOT
For years, the use of intermodal has been a loss leader in the transportation business. But now, the American Association of Railroads (AAR) reports consistent increases of intermodal volumes. Freight traffic on US railroads continues to run ahead of year-earlier levels, largely because of better relations between the railroads and trucking companies.
Helping those relationships and making intermodal run more efficiently is the development of intermodal yards. Several yards that have been developed recently in the West to connect key cities with seaports are opening markets to more efficiently participate in growing international commerce.
Union Pacific Railroad (UP) has been playing an instrumental role in opening Tucson and Dallas by developing new intermodal yards it terms “rail ports.”
In June, Union Pacific and Texas officials broke ground on the railroad’s new Dallas Intermodal Terminal just West of Interstate 45. The facility, which will be constructed in phases, is located jointly in the cities of Hutchins and Wilmer, about 15 miles southeast of downtown Dallas on UP’s main line between Dallas and Houston.
The new intermodal facility is located in an industrial park developed by Prime Rail Interest, Inc., which has also developed Railhead Phase IV in Ft. Worth. Other rail-served industrial parks being developed by Prime Rail Interest include Dallas Southport Center and Bonnieview Industrial Park in Dallas.
“This state-of-the-art facility will help us increase the ability to efficiently handle the growing rail-truck freight market in Dallas/Ft. Worth and central Texas,” says Robert W. Turner, UP spokesman.
The rail port will include 23 miles of track, 3,200 trailer stalls, an administrative office, a building for performing repair and maintenance of cranes and ramp tractors, an outdoor repair area for repairing cranes, and an entry gate. Once complete, trucks will gain access to the rail port via a computerized security system, and containers will be transferred in minutes.
Union Pacific’s intermodal traffic has experienced substantial growth in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area over the last several years. Studies indicate a need to expand capacity to allow Union Pacific to continue to pursue opportunities in this growing rail-truck market.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe has enjoyed great success in that market, the result of the intermodal rail yard it developed in the 15,000 acre Alliance Business Park. The center handles more then 400,000 containers each year and receives goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Houston.
UP’s intermodal traffic has experienced substantial growth in recent years. Since 1999, the railroad’s international volume has increased nearly 37% for an annual growth rate of 8.2%. International volume in and out of Dallas grew more than 20% in 2003, a reflection of the many consumer goods, including electronics, toys and clothing, that are be shipped from Asia to Dallas via intermodal containers.
Studies indicate there is a need to expand capacity to handle this and future rail-truck traffic in the area, and the rail port will allow Union Pacific to serve the growing needs of businesses in the region.
“Puerto Nuevo”
In April, UP opened its “Port of Tuscon” in Tuscon, AZ where the inland port will serve as a key element to that city’s larger project, “Puerto Nuevo.” Considered the most ambitious idea to date to come out of the city’s Tucson-Mexico Trade Office, Puerto Nuevo is located near the Century Park Research Center. The 264-acre project is within a designated Foreign Trade Zone and provides one million square feet of warehousing for dry, refrigerated and frozen products. The entire site, which encompasses the Port of Tucson, Century Park Research Center and Tucson Frozen Storage, are privately owned by one individual.
As one part of a three-pronged approach to the Puerto Nuevo project, the Port of Tucson is geared to provide greater access to the fast-growing global marketplace by partnering with air frei

Karen Thuermer's avatar

American Journal of Transportation