CSX is launching a new intermodal rail service between the Port of Wilmington and the railroad’s terminal in Charlotte, company and state officials said Tuesday, boosting the city’s status as a transportation hub.
N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement that the service, called the “Queen City Express,” will be the only direct freight rail service into the greater Charlotte area from a Southeastern port.
The term intermodal refers to the combining of transportation modes, such as trains, trucks and ships. Intermodal hubs allow containers of goods to be easily transferred between modes.
“The introduction of this new service,” McCrory said, “will facilitate the efficient, cost-effective movement of goods between the global marketplace and one of the most significant economic centers in the southeastern United States.”
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Norfolk Southern also has an intermodal yard in Charlotte, but the CSX service will be the only direct one into the city, said Paul Cozza, N.C. Ports Authority executive director, in an interview. He said all others are somehow routed and connected to other areas.
“We’ve had a bunch of customers asking for it,” Cozza said of the Queen City Express, which will begin this fall with service twice a week. “As demand grows, we’ll grow with it.”
One intermodal train will take 280 trucks off the road, according to the N.C. Ports Authority. Transit will be overnight, providing better transit times to the city, Cozza said.
McCrory also announced Tuesday that a $272 million CSX rail hub once destined for Johnston County will instead go to Rocky Mount after state officials approved $122.1 million in state financial incentives for the project. The announcement ended a tumultuous six months that pitted family farms against the jobs and tax revenue the project promised and threatened to cost North Carolina the project altogether.
The regional container hub, called the Carolina Connector, will route and reroute freight from trucks and trains to final destinations up and down the East Coast and across the country. It’s expected to bring 149 jobs to the Rocky Mount area, which has the second-highest unemployment rate in the state.
The facility is expected to open in 2020.
Drew Jackson of The News & Observer of Raleigh contributed.
Rachel Stone: 704-358-5334, @RStone1317