Taking on the trucks

Taking on the trucks

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

RailRunner technology will start commercial service in what is considered a truck market - the lane between Fort Wayne, Ind., and Jacksonville, Fla. - using a minimal number of cars in one of the longer short-haul markets.

By starting off with just a few containers per week hooked up to trains of 53-ft. RoadRailer trailers, RailRunner hopes to begin taking marketshare away from over-the-road trucks for containers of manufactured goods destined for export to the Caribbean, principally Puerto Rico.

On the backhaul, RailRunner will be more a domestic service, moving paper and agricultural products from South Georgia to the Midwest.

"Domestic containers is a growing market," said RailRunner president and CEO Charles Foskett. "Fort Wayne is niche that the domestic containers don''t serve. They usually move to Chicago - a more profitable, more cost-efficient haul - and then have to be drayed to Fort Wayne, which gets pretty expensive. This will be a way to tap into a piece of business that current intermodal can''t capture."

After extensive testing, NS signed off on the use of RailRunner on all its Triple Crown routes, Foskett said. NS and RailRunner are expecting to hear "very shortly" from the Federal Railroad Administration on whether the FRA takes exception to any specifications such as car specifications, speed, and weight that will be used in the Fort Wayne-Jacksonville lane.

The goal is to increase the number of RailRunner cars over the 800-mile route to 30 containers a week within the next six months, Foskett said. "We''re starting slow, but with the scalability of the technology, we think we can ramp up pretty quickly."