CSX Intermodal plans to close its rail yard in Alexandria, Va., and transfer its business to the state rail yard beside the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore.
Maryland Port Administration officials say the move would cut trucking costs for the port's customers, add work for longshoremen who load and unload the trains, and increase revenues for the MPA, which gets a share of each load placed on the trains.
Clarence W. Gooden, vice president and general manager of operations at CSX Intermodal in Hunt Valley, says he has meeting with MPA officials today to discuss details of the arrangement. An announcement could come later this week.
CSX expects to close its Potomac Yard in Virginia and move the service to Baltimore around the first of the year.
The state-owned rail yard at Seagirt was conceived to help the port compete more effectively for traffic going to and from the Midwest by rail.
The CSX decision to route its north-south lines through Seagirt should also help the port compete in Southern markets by providing direct rail service from Baltimore to Atlanta and Miami.
Currently, CSX cargo heading south must be trucked to the Potomac Yard, which for years was a major distribution hub for domestic cargo on the East Coast.
CSX Intermodal carries cargo west from Baltimore to Chicago.
In addition, CSX says it plans to review next year the possibility of resuming direct service to Louisville, Ky., and to Cincinnati -- service that port officials think would add even more business to the yard at Seagirt and help give Baltimore an advantage over ports in Virginia.
The port has been lobbying hard for CSX to restore the service, which it cut three years ago.
"A lot of our customers are asking for increased service to that area," says Michael Angelos, deputy MPA director.
Angelos says the MPA has been negotiating with CSX about moving its operations from the Potomac Yard for more than a year.
CSX Intermodal officials say a consolidation of its services at Seagirt means more efficient use of the rail yard there. It will allow CSX to deliver cargo from Baltimore to Atlanta in a day and to anywhere in Florida in 36 hours.
"It's a good move," says O.L. "Bud" Peebles, a local railroad consolidator. His R & E Consolidation Service currently must arrange for southbound cargo to be hauled by truck to the Potomac Yard, where it is placed on CSX lines. The move to Seagirt will save customers most of those trucking fees, he says.
Peebles also arranges for cargo bound for Louisville to be trucked to the Potomac Yard and placed on Norfolk Southern trains.
If CSX resumes service to Louisville, Peebles says that, too, would save on trucking charges.
Ty Pruitt, president of Ty Pruitt Trucking Inc. in Baltimore, says the closing of the Potomac Yard will have some effect on his trucking business, "but I don't think it will hurt us."
Conrail, which offers service north to Philadelphia and from there to the Midwest, says it won't be affected by CSX's decision because the two companies serve different areas.