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CSX would allow double-stack trains through Mid-Atlantic

The Herald-Dispatch

As Prichard and southwestern West Virginia get ready Norfolk Southern Corp.'s double-stacked trains to move through, the eastern part of the state is looking forward to a project by CSX.

The rail company also is planning to embark on a project to raise tunnels to accommodate double-stack trains through the Mid-Atlantic region.

The $842 million National Gateway project would affect Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, and is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trucks on the highway, as well as saving $3.5 billion in shipper and logistics costs, significantly increase freight capacity, reduce transit times between West Coast ports and major population and triple the market access potential for some ports on the East Coast.

There's a prediction that freight transportation is going to increase by 70 percent over the next 20 years, said CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan. Moving it to rail rather than trucks will reduce greenhouse emissions, he said.

"What (using double-stacked trains) does is really open access to more markets and service, so shippers in West Virginia have easier access to markets they have now," Sullivan said. "It also will ease the flow of goods into West Virginia as well."

The path of the double stacked trains would stretch from Wilmington, N.C., up the East Coast and northeastward through the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Along the National Gateway, the nearest intermodal distribution facility to West Virginia will be in Pittsburgh.

CSX is committing $395 million to the National Gateway project, and it's asking for $258 million in federal stimulus grants through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants Program. State's are being asked for $250 million.

About $60 million will be spent in West Virginia, to clear six tunnels in the state. But West Virginia is being asked to contribute $5 million to the project, Sullivan said.