Global supply chains are evolving and creating new market demands for domestic industrial and logistic facilities throughout North America. With almost 140,000 miles of freight rail in the U.S., opportunities for development associated with rail may seem endless. However, if the last three years have taught us anything, it is that the goods movement climate can change overnight. Rail is a significant and growing piece of the logistics equation, with current projections expecting freight demand to grow 30 percent by 2040 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
For transportation clients responsible for keeping the cargo flowing smoothly, preparing for the next global shift means having the right strategy for rail to shift gears and manage the path to the hinterland with scale and efficiency. Inland manufacturing and agricultural industries both rely on ready and reliable rail transport with sufficient capacity to move goods and supplies.
As with any development strategy, it’s all about the location. Having a sizable inventory of good industrial rail-served sites or upgrading a specific site’s base engineered infrastructure significantly improves a region’s potential to attract discretionary investment, create jobs, and boost the competitiveness of existing businesses.
“Through years of experience in the industry, our team has developed an extensive network, and we know how to cultivate the right partnerships,” said Robert Martinez, Moffatt & Nichol’s Vice President for Freight and Economic Development. “Our clients benefit from our team’s experience and many years of successful engagement with railroad and utility stakeholders, as well as local and state decision makers.”
But once you find the perfect location, how do you know it’s the right fit? Once the site is found, the property is structured for success in terms of physical characteristics, operational serviceability, and placement within broader public policy and market frameworks—whether industrial or agricultural. As rail strategists, Moffatt & Nichol has the added strength of a technical team that applies engineering judgment—based on years of rail design experience. Our staff carefully consider typical site development challenges, which typically require an engineered infrastructure solution. Brownfield site assessment and revitalization, stormwater management, utility corridors, road and existing rail access are just a few such considerations on the technical side.
“In addition to rail’s regional economic benefits, rail transport plays a significant role in moving our nation toward a zero-emission future,” observed Martinez.
According to the Association of American Railroads, by using advanced locomotive technology and zero-emission cargo-handling equipment, U.S. freight railroads can, on average, move one ton of freight nearly 500 miles per gallon of fuel, thus making rail the most fuel-efficient way to move freight over land. This translates into an average fuel efficiency three to four times greater than trucks, with a corresponding reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
For additional information, visit www.moffattnichol.com/file/freight-and-rail-economic-development