Economic Benefits of Truck-to-Rail Mode Shift

Every year, the interchange of millions of tons of intermodal freight from all regions of the United States takes place in metropolitan Chicago. The high volumes of freight along with projections of highly congested highway systems suggest Illinois’ need for an efficient intermodal system to accommodate the complex interchange of freight.

The purpose of this research is to study the economic impacts of the implementation of intermodal logistics centers (ILCs) for freight transportation. Industrial property along transportation corridors and interstate interchanges may see significant property value changes and spatial changes related to ILCs.

With the use of publicly available tax assessment, truck volume and census data, the research analyzes patterns and property value changes of industrial property between 2002 and 2007. This research looks to provide freight companies that utilize intermodal logistic centers with a better understanding of economic impacts of freight transportation in order to allow planning agencies and communities to better plan for freight.  In addition, freight companies will have the ability to communicate their economic benefit to local communities and regions.

This report was completed by UCI Graduate Student Alexandra McNally, MUPP and was sponsored by CN Railway as part of the railroad’s Stronger Communities Fund program.

Please click on the links below to download the complete “Economic Benefits of Truck-to-Rail Mode Shift” report.





Relationship Building with Freight Railroads Critical to Support Intercity Passenger Rail Development

With a renewed push for intercity passenger rail development set by President Barack Obama and other key public officials, a new generation of policymakers and passenger rail advocates are becoming introduced to the labyrinthine world of freight railroading – an integral stakeholder in passenger rail operation and expansion considering freight rail owned infrastructure is overwhelmingly utilized by intercity passenger trains. As Amtrak begins its 42nd year of operation – still languishing on the periphery of the nation’s collective intercity passenger market – this paper seeks to empower policymakers with the information, tools and strategies necessary to effectively interact, build new relationships and foster long term collaboration with the nation’s freight railroad carriers to expand and enhance rail service.

Through a unique combination of academic research and author’s firsthand experience in the railroad industry, this paper analyzes four interwoven aspects that impact existing and future partnership with the freight rail industry:

1) Railroad history.
2) Freight railroad operations and economics.
3) Shared use policy, planning and operations.
4) Railroad funding and financing.

Research, evaluation and synthesis in each of these categories was performed utilizing news articles, published trade and government reports, case studies, conversations with leading railroad professionals as well as the author’s own experiences in the rail industry.

Altogether, this paper uncovers the major flaws effecting contemporary interactions between government and the freight railroad industry concerning intercity passenger rail operation and development. Existing approaches fail to build trust between both stakeholders and share risks and benefits of partnership. The result is a pervading animosity and intense combativeness harbored by both stakeholders.


Please click on the link below to download the complete “Relationship Building with Freight Railroads Critical to Support Intercity Passenger Rail Development” report.

Relationship Building with Freight Railroads_Bardo



Effective Approaches to Increasing Public Benefits of Freight Intermodal Terminals — Interviews of Stakeholders

This study makes recommendations on ways public opposition can be reduced, effective mitigation measures can be implemented, economic development can be promoted, and communication can be increased among local/regional governments and private stakeholders for intermodal freight terminals. Recommendations are based on analysis of information gathered from the two case studies and from the literature review. Recommendations for each of these issues are discussed in the context of why they are important, the challenges with implementation, the impacts on the project if they fail to be executed, and resolutions to the implementation problems. The context for the recommendations reflects the insights gained by interviewing public officials and railroad representatives for each of the cases.

Discussion of the thesis’ findings and its recommendations identifies critical areas where gaps exist between members of the freight industry and public officials and the effects these gaps have on the common development issues for freight intermodal projects. Differences in regulation across all levels of government significantly impact the way in which a freight intermodal terminal is developed regarding the level of review and public participation that is required. The development process that must be followed for these projects can greatly vary based on what state, county, town, or environmentally sensitive land the project is located. The inconsistency creates some areas where the development process may be too strenuous on development and other areas where project review and public participation is not effectively utilized.

This thesis also identifies how public officials’ lack of formal freight training and industry knowledge impacts attempts to capture economic benefits from freight activity and to avoid negative impacts to their communities’ quality of life due to freight activity.

Please click here to download the complete version of the “Effective Approaches to Increasing Public Benefits of Freight Intermodal Terminals — Interviews of Stakeholders” report.

Effective Approaches to Increasing Public Benefits_S. Mannella