NEW YORK – (RealEstateRama) — The Metropolitan Rail Freight Council (MRFC) today released its first-ever Action Plan, a guiding document dedicated to growing rail freight capacity and volumes, investing in and preserving rail freight infrastructure, creating quality jobs, promoting environmental sustainability, creating an infrastructure bank, and ensuring a more resilient freight supply chain for the New York City metropolitan area. The action plan can be found here.
The combination of fatigued, outdated infrastructure and complex regulatory challenges has resulted in substantial overreliance on trucking to move goods around the region instead of rail and other methods. Overreliance on trucking has resulted in increased traffic congestion, pollution, and infrastructure maintenance that strain transportation costs.
Proposed solutions are identified through various projects outlined in the Action Plan that complement ongoing efforts to increase rail capacity in the region, including enhancing infrastructure in both New Jersey and New York.
Chaired by U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the MFRC was convened in 2015 and is co-managed by New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). Council members include several New York and New Jersey public agencies, including the NYC Mayor’s Office, New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), and New York City Emergency Management (NYCOEM). Most notably, MRFC members include every railroad company operating in the New York City region, such as CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, New York New Jersey Rail, LLC, and New York & Atlantic Railway. The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad are also MRFC members.
“It is critically important to the future of New York City and the Metropolitan region to be able to move more goods by rail, with an expected increase of at least 37 percent in freight being transported to, from and through this region over the next 20 years—beyond the capacity of our roadways—doing nothing is unacceptable and is tantamount to putting a lid on economic development,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler. “I’m proud to have helped establish and Chair the MRFC, and together with the cooperation of the Port Authority and NYCEDC, we have created an open forum where rail stakeholders meet and identify and resolve problems, report on progress, and increase cooperation between all rail stakeholders, both private entities and public agencies. The action plan we are releasing today is emblematic of that cooperation; it will provide the vital guidance to increasing the rail freight capacity in the east of Hudson region.”
“Reliable and efficient cargo transportation is critical to a successful economy. Strategically investing in rail freight infrastructure creates good-paying jobs, strengthens trade, and improves the quality of life in the metro area, and the nation as a whole,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “The City is proud to continue working with our public and private MRFC partners to propel critical rail freight projects outlined in the Action Plan forward.”
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is pleased to join its public and private railroad partners to announce the release of the Metropolitan Rail Freight Council’s Action Plan,” said Port Authority Port Director Molly Campbell. “From the Bronx’s Oak Point Link to the ExpressRail intermodal network to the Cross Harbor facilities, the Port Authority has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in improving freight rail access into and around the New York and New Jersey Region. With Governor Cuomo’s recent announcement of funding for Tier 2 Environmental Review for the Cross Harbor Freight Program, the Port Authority will continue to advance freight rail access throughout the region for the benefit of all.”
“Collaboration among public and private organizations is essential to meeting the future freight transportation requirements of the New York City-New Jersey metropolitan region,” said Rodney Oglesby, Resident Vice President, CSX Transportation. “By highlighting those projects that have broad support, the Action Plan can help reach the goal of increasing the volume of freight that moves in and out of the region.”
“New York & Atlantic is uniquely positioned to help foster economic expansion in the Metropolitan Region. Our greatest opportunities for future growth come from bringing consumer goods—especially food—and building materials to the area. And with those shipments come tremendous benefits to the region – jobs that pay well, economic growth and cleaner air – a win-win-win for all of us,” said James Bonner, President, New York & Atlantic Railway.
“In addition to directly and indirectly supporting local businesses, the Travis Industrial Track Rail Replacement Project will ensure that freight rail infrastructure in Staten Island is well positioned to support the future development of off-dock warehousing, trans-loading facilities, and other economic development initiatives. These benefits help to achieve the goals outlined in the Metro Rail Freight Action Plan. Conrail looks forward to continuing this progress with our MFRC partners,” said a representative with Conrail.
“Our region will be forever stymied if we continue to rely on trucks to move freight,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the New York City Council Transportation Committee. “Taking advantage of and improving existing rail infrastructure can alleviate congestion and wear and tear trucks inflict on our roadways. For our economy to thrive, we need to recoup the lost revenue potential that an over-reliance on trucks contributes to and I am proud to support this action plan.”
Primary goals the Action Plan seeks to achieve are:
- Economic Development: Grow the number of jobs in the region by increasing competitiveness by making rail shipping a more attractive option
- Capacity: Increase the amount of freight that rail can move over the network to support current and future demand
- Connectivity: Optimize the freight network to increase fluidity and efficiency across the supply chain
- Safety: Ensure the safety and security of pedestrians, private vehicles, and passengers
- Sustainability: Minimize the environmental impacts of goods transported by rail-served businesses
- Resiliency: The ability for the freight transportation network to rebound from an unexpected disruption, and limit the impact of extreme weather events through hazard mitigation
Intermodal traffic in the Port of New York and New Jersey grew by 22 percent between 2013 and 2015, outperforming the national growth rate of 7 percent. Intermodal freight is freight that is transferred between two modes—such as ship to rail— and is usually carried in 20 or 40-foot shipping containers.
On average, one freight train can move one ton of freight 450 miles on one gallon of fuel. Trucks can only transport that same amount of cargo for 59 miles. Similarly, one freight train can replace 500 tractor-trailers and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent.
A key example of bolstered rail service due to investments by the PANYNJ and the City of New York in Sunset Park is the advancement of the “Southern Gateway,” which has seen a resurgence in rail freight volume. That system features one of the few remaining “car floats” in which rail cars are floated by barge between New Jersey and Brooklyn rail terminals. The New York New Jersey Rail, LLC, a subsidiary of PANYNJ, operates the service.
A full list of conceptual rail freight projects, as well as projects that are in progress and planned, can be found here.