CONRAIL'S FIRST DOUBLE-STACK TRAINS MAKE THEIR WAY FOR PENNSYLVANIA

CONRAIL'S FIRST DOUBLE-STACK TRAINS MAKE THEIR WAY FOR PENNSYLVANIA

Two Conrail double-stack trains are expected to reach Pennsylvania today, marking the first commercial movement made possible by a $97 million clearance program funded by the railroad and state government.

The trains were scheduled to leave Chicago and Newark/Elizabeth, N.J., late Wednesday night, but some double-stack service first envisioned three years ago still is not available to international and domestic shippers.The trains cannot reach port facilities in Philadelphia, because construction from a rail junction in the northern part of that city to the water terminal has been held up by engineering problems tied to redesigning the project to avoid the city's primary water supply.

The eastbound train from Chicago is headed to Morrisville, Pa., north of Philadelphia. The westbound train from facilities adjacent to the Port of New York and New Jersey is bound for Chicago.

The service improvements under the clearance program allow movement of larger containers that are 9 feet, 6 inches high between Harrisburg and Morrisville, Pa., and other points on the Conrail system.

The larger containers handle domestic freight and some international cargo.

Conrail stands to gain operating cost savings estimated at up to 40 percent for some services.

The clearance effort also will make it possible to use all types of multilevel railroad cars to handle vehicle traffic. That freight is the most lucrative in the rail industry, with average revenue more than three times higher than the rest of the cargo moved by train.

Conrail's double-stack service still cannot reach Pittsburgh, where the railroad's existing intermodal facility is on a route that does not have the clearances of 20 feet, eight inches created by rebuilding 130 bridges, tunnels and other structures.

Conrail is beginning engineering work on a new Pittsburgh intermodal terminal now, a spokesman said.

State officials have estimated that the project will generate 22,000 new transportation and distribution jobs.