Major North American Rail Corridors
Improved since 2000
The double-stacking of many rail corridors which took place in the
1980s and 1990s bought some time for rail operators as it provided additional
capacity with essentially the same line infrastructures. As
intermodal demand increased
sharply in the late 1990s and early 2000s a substantial
wave of investment took place over strategic segments
of the American rail system with the goal of improving the capacity
and efficiency of long distance corridors. The improvements are multiple,
namely better grades, double (or triple) tracking, new and improved
intermodal terminals, but also better signal
and management systems. A particular effort has also been made to
better connect the rail infrastructure with major port facilities,
notably with on-dock and near-dock rail terminals. Both the capacity and speed of rail operations
have been improved. The most significant projects include:
Mostly because of gradient, there are energy consumption
differences between long distance corridors. For instance, the
Prince Rupert - Chicago corridor established by CN in 2007 has a
notable fuel efficiency advantage over other west coast long
distance intermodal corridors. While the Prince Rupert - Chicago
corridor is of longer distance, it consumes 5.2 gallons per ton of
cargo moved, while the Seattle - Chicago and Los Angeles - Chicago
corridors consume respectively 6.6 and 6.0 gallons per ton of cargo
- Transcon corridor (BNSF): The most heavily used intermodal
corridor in North America. $2 billion.
- Crescent corridor (NS): $2 billion. NS estimates that
there may be up to one million truckloads that could be switched
to rail along this corridor.
- Southeast corridor (CSX): $250 million.
- Heartland corridor (NS): $260 million.
- Meridian speedway (NS/KCS): $300 million.
- Mexico corridor (KCS): $NA.
- Sunset corridor (UP): $2 billion.
- Donner Pass corridor (UP): Improvement of a significant
bottleneck across the Sierra Nevada to double-stack standards
and longer train lengths.
- National corridor (CSX): $842 million. Construction began in
2009 and project expected to be completed in 2014.
- Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative (CN/CP): Over
$1 billion in various modal projects, with rail / road grade
separation projects at key locations.