If you’re a manufacturer who thinks they can’t access freight lines for the shipping of the goods you produce, or for receiving the goods you use to make your products, then consider transloading.

Transloading Overview

You’ve probably already heard about intermodal transportation, so it’s important to first understand the difference between transloading and intermodal.

With intermodal transportation, cargo is loaded into a transportation container, which is then shipped using one or more methods of transportation without the cargo being unloaded from the container.

With transloading, the cargo is also shipped using different modes of transportation, however, it is loaded and unloaded between the various modes. It’s most often used when one method of transportation can’t work for the entire trip, usually involving international shipments, but can also work for domestic ones. For instance, cargo may leave the manufacturer on a train but is then offloaded to trucks or planes for final delivery.

What types of products are best for transloading?

“Products that are ideal for transloading include palletized commodities which can be loaded and unloaded in a boxcar,” explained John Gogniat, Director of Commercial Development for R. J. Corman Railroad Company, LLC. R. J. Corman owns 11 Class 3 short line railroads in the Mid-Atlantic and the South, as well as the Allentown Rail Yard located off Basin Street in Allentown where it handles cargo for clients that are shipping their goods by train.

“In addition, products such as lumber or steel that can be unloaded with a forklift are ideal candidates,” Gogniat continued. “That said, we are open to entertaining any potential commodity and will develop a mutually desirable solution for its loading and unloading.”

Norfolk Southern is a Class I railroad that serves every major container port in the eastern United States and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. One of Norfolk Southern’s major lines runs through the Lehigh Valley region and serves the Allentown Rail Yard. Norfolk Southern works in close partnership with R. J. Corman to transport client goods throughout the region.

“Norfolk Southern connects with more than 200 short line railroads. We interchange with R. J. Corman at several locations throughout our system and we look forward to assisting in serving our mutual customers in Allentown,” said Denise Bailey, Short Line Development Manager for Norfolk Southern Corporation.

A cost-effective shipping method

In general, rail is a more efficient method of transportation. Depending on volume, distance, weight, and other factors it can be more cost-effective for manufacturers to bring raw materials to their facility by rail instead of trucking it in. It can also be more cost effective to ship out the finished product in bulk via train than by truck since trains are more efficient at moving large loads.

The Allentown Rail Yard

“Norfolk Southern’s Allentown Yard is one of the largest in their system, and we’re very fortunate to have it in Allentown,” said Scott Unger, Executive Director of Allentown Economic Development Corporation. “There are nearly 200 manufacturers in the city of Allentown, but only a few of them use rail for the transportation of their goods, and I’d like to see if more of them can benefit from rail service.”

Only a short distance from the Norfolk Southern Allentown Yard, R. J. Corman’s Allentown Yard offers boxcar unloading, bulk transloading, laydown space, and oversized load handling. There’s also onsite ground storage and general warehouse space for cargo located inside a fenced and well-lit area. It has the space to handle bulk commodities and forklifts to offload cargo from rail cars. Its strategic location provides access to Philadelphia, Scranton, York, Harrisburg, Wilmington, New York, and beyond.

“Our operation provides customers that don’t have the ability to enjoy the benefits of rail the ability to access the rail network, which gives them more modal options from which to choose,” said Gogniat.

State grant program for spurs

The state’s Bureau of Rail Freight administers a special grant program called the Rail Freight Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to companies that are interested in bringing a railroad spur directly to their property for freight shipments. The goal of the grant program is to preserve and stimulate economic development through new and expanded rail service.

Location of the manufacturer in relation to the nearest railroad is a key consideration from a logistical standpoint. Manufacturers that are interested in learning more about the program can go HERE to learn about it.

If you have questions or would like to investigate rail options for your business, please feel free to contact us.

Scott Unger, Executive Director
Allentown Economic Development Corporation

John Gogniat, Director of Commercial Development-RJCP, RJCN, RJCL, RJCW
R. J. Corman Railroad Company, LLC

Denise Bailey, Short Line Development Manager
Norfolk Southern Corporation