CSX, port agency study double-stack rail service


CSX Corp., in conjunction with the Maryland Port Administration, is studying the cost of providing full double-stack rail service to the port of Baltimore, Adrian G. Teel, the executive director of the port agency, said yesterday.

Special trains using rail cars capable of carrying containers stacked two-high have become important in recent years for moving cargo between ports and distant inland markets.

The port of Baltimore has been unable to offer full double-stack service to the Midwest, however, because of height restrictions in tunnels and under bridges along CSX tracks.

Previous estimates have indicated that the cost of improving clearances along the route would be prohibitive, perhaps as much as $45 million, Mr. Teel said. But the port agency and the railroad now believe the work could be done for much less.

CSX will soon commission a study to develop new cost estimates, Mr. Teel said. The state will share the cost of that study, but Mr. Teel said he does not know exactly how much the state's share will be.

Maryland might also help pay for raising the clearances if the study found the project could be done at a reasonable cost.

"We would determine the value to each party," said Mr. Teel, who spoke yesterday afternoon at a bon voyage party for the Pride of Baltimore II.

The tunnel and bridge clearances on the CSX route between Baltimore and the Midwest allow only limited double-stack service. An additional foot or so of clearance is needed in some places for full double-stack service -- cars carrying two "high cube" containers, each of which is 9 feet 6 inches high.

Double-stack service is typically used by steamship lines moving large volumes of containers long distances.

Some lines, for example, unload ships on the West Coast and use double-stack trains to bring goods to the East Coast.

The lack of full double-stack service is not a problem for the port, but such service could become an important marketing tool, Mr. Teel said.

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