Freight railroads throughout Canada and the United States have been investing billions of dollars over the past couple of decades to upgrade their intermodal infrastructure. Unlike most other forms of transportation, nearly all rail infrastructure is privately financed and maintained versus publicly financed.
As intense competition with the trucking industry for long distance freight shipping shows not signs of abating, the intermodal terminals have grown in size, technical complexity, and scope. However, regardless of the competition, trucks remain critical for completing the “last mile” of the delivery process.
In some cases, this boom has meant the construction of entirely new intermodal terminals on green fields along with a plethora of excess acreage destined for warehousing, distribution centers, and ancillary facilities. The massive new 440 acre BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) intermodal facility under construction at Edgerton, Kansas and adjacent 560 acre Logistics Park is an example (see below).
In other instances, existing intermodal terminals have received major upgrades. CSX’s Mont Clare facility in Baltimore, Maryland is an example of this, as the railroad chose its existing inner city location over suburban sites.
For urban planners, intermodal rail facilities, whether they are existing or new have huge implications. From a transportation perspective, they impact not only rail traffic patterns, but those for trucks and automobiles. In the instances of those tied to seaports or airports, the intermodal facility can influence waterborne and air traffic.
The ancillary uses such as warehousing, distribution, manufacturing, maintenance, and operations can contribute to the intermodal facility becoming a significant 24/7 employment center. Furthermore, since the intermodal complexes operate around the clock, noise, glare, and odors can all be a concern to surrounding and nearby properties.
Below is a listing of those cities with at least two intermodal terminals and which railroad(s) operate the facilities. Some may be joint (or duplicate) facilities.
- BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe)
- CN (Canadian National – includes KC Southern)
- CP (Canadian Pacific)
- CSX (CSX)
- NS (Norfolk Southern)
- UP (Union Pacific)
- Chicago (20): BNSF(4), CN (2), CP (2), CSX (2), NS (5) and UP (5)
- New York City (8): CSX (4) and NS (4)
- Los Angeles (6): BNSF (2) and UP (4)
Memphis (6): BNSF, CSX, CN, NS (2) and UP
- Seattle-Tacoma (6): BNSF (4) and UP (2)
- Detroit (5): CSX, CN, CP and NS (2)
- Houston (5): UP (3) and BNSF (2)
- Montreal (5): CSX, CN, CP (2) and NS
- Toronto (5): CN (2), CP (2) and NS
- Atlanta (4): CSX (2) and NS (2)
- Hampton Roads (4): NS (3) and CSX
- Kansas City(4): BNSF, CSX, NS and UP
- New Orleans (4): BNSF, CN, CSX and UP
- St. Louis (4): BNSF, CSX, NS and UP
- Cincinnati (3): CSX and NS (2)
- Columbus, OH (3) CSX (2) and NS
- Dallas-Fort Worth (3): BNSF and UP (2)
- Louisville (3): CSX and NS (2)
- Twin Cities (3): BNSF, CN, and CP
- Worcester (3): CSX (2) and CN
- Baltimore (2): CSX and NS
- Birmingham (2) CSX and NS
- Buffalo (2) CSX and NS
- Calgary (2): CN and CP
- Charleston, SC (2) CSX and NS
- Charlotte (2) CSX and NS
- Cleveland (2): CSX and NS
- Denver (2): BNSF and UP
- Edmonton (2): CN and CP
- El Paso (2): BNSF and UP
- Jacksonville (2) CSX and NS
- Oakland (2): BNSF and UP
- Omaha (2): BNSF and UP
- Philadelphia (2): NS (2)
- Portland, OR (2): BNSF and UP
- Saskatoon (2): CN and CP
- Savannah (2) CSX and NS
- Stockton, CA (2): BNSF and UP
- Toledo (2) CSX and NS
- Vancouver (2): CN and CP
- Winnipeg (2): CN and CP
Here is an amazing map depicting the geography of intermodal rail hubs throughout North America.