Rail / Trucking Coordination IntelliConference

Rail and trucking each have their strengths and limitations. In an unplanned system, those limitations leave unwelcome performance gaps. In an integrated system, each mode’s strengths can be optimized. It is time to apply collaboration and coordination to create a freight system that best leverages and integrates modal strengths and enhances financial returns for each mode.

Core Question:

What new business interactions and public policy adjustments would improve the working relationship between trucking and rail systems to the benefit of shippers, providers, investors, labor and other staff, communities, and the environment?
Round 1

Current State

  1. What are the strengths of each mode?
        • Trucking’s strengths are that they are nimble, flexible, andhas capacity and ease to access that capacity.
        • Rail’s strengths are high volume capacity and efficiencies at high volumes in loading, unloading, and transport.
  2. What are the limitations of each mode?
  3. Who are the trucking and rail companies that collaborate and coordinate well with the other mode?
  4. What are the reasons these collaborative efforts are successful?
  5. What are the issues, challenges, and problems that reduce efficiency in the interactions between trucks and railroads?
Round 2

A New Future

  1. What concerns about modal collaboration and coordination can we productively identify?
  2. What vision of bi-modal communication, information sharing, and tracing is needed to satisfy shippers and beneficial cargo owners?
        • What are the challenges to advancing that vision?
        • What technologies in cargo tracing and data interchange are in research, development, or market entry and would benefit from closer cooperation and standardization?
        • What commercial concerns for confidentiality need to be addressed in how this vision is executed?
  3. How can trucking and railroads collaborate to reduce lane imbalances and improve asset utilization for both modes?
  4. What service enhancements can trucking and railroads develop together to the benefit of shippers?
  5. What innovations in rolling stock (tractor-trailers, chassis, containers, railcars) and freight handling and transfer systems would improve bimodal productivity?
        • Double-stacked containers in articulated well cars replacing trailers on spine cars (TOFC) is an example of past railroad rolling stock innovation around bi-modalism. What are the next revolutionary means of…
        • Side-access containers or trailers
        • Dedicated circus-loading railcars that cost-effectively support lower lane density movement of dry van or reefer trailers lacking “extra strengthening” against railroad buff and draft forces?
  6. What infrastructure and facility developments and innovations would contribute to bi-modal productivity?
  7. What previous or current North American or International approaches to bi-modal transportation might offer useful lessons for new improvements?
  8. What areas of local, state, and federal regulations need to be better aligned to improve bi-modal efficiency?
        • Hours-of-service
        • Weight Limits
        • Hazmat
        • Crew sizes for railroads
        • Taxes
  9. What dynamics call for dedicated roads or lanes that benefit bimodal collaboration?
  10. When is a single-mode approach appropriate based on:
        • lane length
        • commodity
        • cargo time sensitivity
        • modal capacity
        • transload cost
        • energy cost
  11. What government policies need to be adopted to encourage and support modal coordination in planning and infrastructure investment?
  12. How can we fast-track funding and decision-making on infrastructure projects that support modal coordination?
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