A Case for Spurring Rail Access in Fulton County, NY

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Fulton County manufacturers have ample access to easy transportation through proximity to the NY State Thruway, airports, and the Port of Albany, but shipping could be even more efficient with rail linkage from the manufacturing facilities to the vast network of rails spanning the East Coast.

In 2013, businesses invested $456.8 million in new or expanded rail-served facilities on CSX and its connecting regional and short lines. CSX owns the Mohawk Subdivision, which runs from Amsterdam to Syracuse along the former New York Central Railroad main line. Those lines continue to the Port of Albany and connect to tracks all the way down to Florida and across the western states.

Connecting CSX main lines to existing industrial sites in Fulton County would make the sites in the parks even more desirable to new and existing facilities.

Direct or shared industrial rail access line spurs are usually built through collaborations between businesses and  state/local economic development and governmental agencies.

Other New York communities have received state and federal funding for rail access spur projects. For example:

  • In 2010, Riverhead, NY, was awarded $4.8 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, plus additional state funds to restore a short rail line connecting a 2,000-acre industrial park that the town took over from the defense contractor Grumman Corp., which ceased operations at the site in the 1990s.
  • In 2012, the New York Department of State’s Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) granted The Business Corporation for a Greater Massena $125,000 to partially fund a spur on the existing CSX St. Lawrence Subdivision to service the Curran Renewable Energy wood pellet plant and AgPro’s soybean processing facility.
  • In 2013, the Port of Oswego Authority was awarded $192,000 from NBRC to construct a rail spur and additional rail car storage on the only intermodal deepwater port in New York State , Lake Ontario. The project directly benefitted the Novelis Aluminum Plant in Scriba, NY, which expanded and added 100 jobs, as well as grain producers in Central New York.

How A Rail Access Sidetrack is Born

CSX’s Industrial Development Group works with companies to expand its rail network to individually serve new or existing facilities. Each year it works with 100-150 companies, bringing rail lines to existing facilities.

The process is pretty seamless: the company works alongside a Site Design Manager to coordinate the project and design the new private sidetrack, which is then reviewed internally by CSX’s Operating and Engineering Department. Each new line would have its own Private Sidetrack Agreement detailing ownership, construction and maintenance, as well as outlining the relationship between the facility and CSX.

The benefits are numerous:

 Simpler logistics: Shipments that leave by rail directly from the facility are easy to track, have less handling time and avoid any time lost due to unforeseen issues by highway shipping. CSX offers tracking of shipments, digital reporting and other ways to monitor shipments that truck shipping doesn’t allow.

Cost-Effective Shipping: A multi-modal organization like CSX keeps costs under one roof, monitored and minimized.

Better for the Environment:  If you’ve missed any of CSX’s commercials in the past few years, you might not know that rail transportation uses a tiny fraction of the fuel to cover long distances, vs. the immense amounts of fuel required by highway freight trucks.

Safer:  According to data compiled by the non partisan Congressional Research Service, from 1996 to 2007 railroads consistently spilled less crude oil per ton-mile transported than other modes of land transportation.

Access: CSX operates and maintains more than 2,800 miles of track, and invested more than $13.6 million in 2013 in its New York network.