Frequently Asked Questions
In recent years, transportation economics have shifted in favor of railroads. Because railroads are over three times as fuel-efficient as trucks, for example, higher fuel prices have less of an impact.
This increase in rail's economic advantage has been coupled with steady improvements in the reliability and speed of rail service. Accordingly, many shippers find that rail can cut their supply chain costs significantly. The advantages are greatest for:
- High volume traffic such as grain
- Dense freight such as minerals
- Bulky freight such as plastic pellets
- Movements which would stress the available supply of truck trailers and/or drivers
As motor carriers become more aggressive about penalizing shippers and receivers who delay their drivers and equipment, many customers value the convenience of loading or unloading freight cars on their own schedule, instead of the truck driver's. Also, when truck dock space and parking are limited, rail allows them to handle more business.
Rail is verifiably the most environmentally benign method of shipping large volumes of freight and bulky commodities.
"Multimodal" refers to combined rail/highway transportation. Many bulk commodities can be unloaded from a rail car to a truck for final delivery. Bulk commodities handled this way include sugar, corn syrup, grain, liquid and dry bulk fertilizer, chemicals, cement, and plastic pellets among others. Multimodal also may include warehousing options where the product arrives by rail and is delivered to the end-user by truck. Pertinent commodities include steel, lumber, and paper.
Because a rail car typically holds 100-110 tons of payload vs. truck capacity of 20-25 tons, using rail for the long haul can yield substantial savings in transportation cost. Vendors of some commodities also offer a lower unit price for purchases in larger volumes. Multimodal may be attractive if your facility is not located on our railroad or you need off-site inventory storage. Some commodities can be held in rail cars and drawn down as you need them.
We offer multimodal services ranging from team tracks (public-use sidetracks) to product quantity and temperature reporting, heating, and other enhancements. Customer-operated facilities on our rail lines offer additional commodity-specific multimodal capabilities. We can recommend a motor carrier to make final delivery, or you are free to utilize any qualified motor carrier.
Actually, most transportation rates to and from stations served by The LAL are quoted on a "through" basis by one of the connecting Class I railroads (NS or CSX, for example), with The WNYP portion of the revenue included. Most of the time, rates to/from WNYP stations are the same as rates to and from nearby stations on the connecting railroad itself. Why is this?
- When we pick up and deliver freight cars to your sidetrack and perform customer service, we do things the Class I railroad would otherwise have to do and build into its rate.
- Because we manage these functions locally, we tend to operate more efficiently and take costs out of the overall system.
- Because we nurture our customers' business, it tends to grow, reducing unit costs for everyone.
Competition among our major railroad connections ensures that these cost advantages flow through to you. Then, we offer additional services that further reduce your supply chain costs.
LAL policy is to develop all rates on a "through" basis covering the entire route from origin to destination. This usually entails a brief process of consultation among the railroads in the route, with many movements covered by pre-existing agreements. You can ask any one of the railroads involved to develop a through rate, although the railroad that will originate the movement is usually the best place to start.
If you prefer, the LAL can take the initiative for you. On the rail lines operated by the LAL and its affiliates, we participate in the "interline settlement system," meaning that we know the overall pricing and how it is allocated among the railroads in the route. We also stay up to date on connecting railroads' service--what routes are fastest and most reliable.
Rates for one-time movements can be quoted on a "spot" basis with the concurrence of connecting railroads. Repetitive smaller volume movements are usually covered by a public price list or "tariff." Increasingly, our Class I connections are publishing their public tariffs on their web sites. Higher volume movements often are covered by confidential contracts.
For more information, contact Marketing Manager Ryan Cool.
Please contact the appropriate customer service office. Please note that we will require customer instructions to be transmitted in writing via email or fax.
While tracing software packages are available from CSX, Norfolk Southern, and other connecting carriers, we can often help you interpret the available data, because we do it all day long. Let us help you.
Due to insurance requirements, we do not allow visitors to have unescorted access to our rail yards or property. Visitors to any of our railroads must be escorted by a railroad employee. Visitors who are not on business with the railroad should request permission 24 hours in advance by calling the railroad office. Permission will be supplied only if staff time and work schedules allow. A written release must be signed in person at the local railroad office.
No, The LAL does not operate commercial passenger service of any kind. Intercity passenger train service in the USA is operated by Amtrak. Their web site is www.amtrak.com. Your travel agent can also assist you.
For further information regarding any of these properties and/or services, please contact: