WCG Agenda 2015

Challenge & Opportunity.

Our objective remains to work collaboratively, taking freight from over-the-road trucking, to increase freight on the Region's lighter density rail lines. Some of our freight lanes, however, include congested main lines of CN and connections. At the same time, OTR trucking capacity is also constrained by driver shortages/demographics, new safety and emissions regulations and world-market fuel pricing, making rail service critical for our competitiveness.

The U.S. and Canada, without doubt, are served by the best freight rail system on Earth. But . . . In its Renaissance, the system has yet to build sufficient capacity and redundancy to cope consistently and effectively with rising demand, weather, natural and other disasters and adversity. That margin of capacity and redundancy is essential for national security. It is also essential to assure that the freight rail industry competes effectively for non-captive freight.
From WCGroup's perspective, at least until that is accomplished, the Staggers Act National Rail Policy and Surface Transportation Board regulation, under which the national Railroad “Renaissance” has occurred (e.g., differential pricing), should remain in place, free from external experimentation, other tampering and potential unintended consequences.*

Counter-intuitive as it may seem, our increasing demand for rail market share and capacity will hasten restoration and expansion of competitive, sustainable rail service in the CN/WC Region. Following is a summary of CN/WCGroup projects, identified through our collaborative efforts in 2014, and ready for our attention in 2015 and beyond.

Great Lakes Forests Log Car Fleet – TIGER and Other Alternatives.

The Northwoods Rail Transit Commission's TIGER grant application confirmed the value of a publicly owned log car fleet – for public safety, road and bridge costs, the value of forest resources, health of our forests, as well as competitiveness of our forest products industries. We may recommend a renewed TIGER grant application and will seek other sources of funding.

Establishing Intermodal Locations in the CN/WC Region.

We have agreed criteria and look forward to commencing remote intermodal operations within no more than one (1) year of freight lane and site identification and qualification. Potential locations include: Green Bay, Fox Valley; central Wisconsin (possibly, between Mosinee and Tomahawk and/or near Stevens Point), Superior-Ladysmith areas.

Actionable Shipper Data (“ASD”) Outreach.

The CN/WCG Confidentiality Agreement and Actionable Shipper Data Worksheet (selective tested and revised) are ready for our shipper outreach campaign to begin. The campaign will build on WisDOT's Wisconsin Northwoods Freight Rail Market Study (September 2013) and Brown County's Port/Rail Development Committee's Intermodal Demand in Northeast Wisconsin (2013), coordinated with Northwoods Rail Transit Commission and Brown County.

Our initial ASD Outreach objective is to establish a virtual network of shippers and/or receivers in the CN/WC Region who have an interest in converting over-the-road highway freight to rail or rail intermodal and otherwise supporting sustainable, competitive rail service on the Region’s lighter density rail lines.
For intermodal, our ASD outreach is intended, long term, to support strategic planning for siting one or more traditional intermodal terminals or logistics hubs in the Region. In the near term, however, priority will be given to potential remote intermodal and multipurpose transload sites.

L'Anse-Baraga Subdivision.

We have a work plan to increase log and other freight to fully utilize existing capacity and progressively support investment and operational change. This is a potential location for a remote intermodal and transload site.

Duluth-Superior Gateway – Logs To/From Minnesota Forests and Mills.

We have a work plan to optimize logs via Duluth-Superior gateway on rail (single-line and interchanged with BNSF) and convert over-the-road truck logs to rail. The project has the potential to relieve the current concentration of log trucks moving over roads in the Duluth-Superior area. Our objective, supported by a publicly owned log car fleet, is virtual single-line service for logs throughout (all interchanges) the Great Lakes Forests Region. The Duluth-Superior Gateway is also a potential location for a remote intermodal and/or transload site.

Ladysmith-Escanaba, Project Relationships – Intermodal, Logs and Other Transloading.

Our objective is to restore service on the entire east-west corridor, out-of service segments Ladysmith-Prentice (20 miles) and Rhinelander-Goodman (40 miles). We expect ASD may support using the log landing at Tony (5 miles east of Ladysmith) as an interim, and possibly permanent, intermodal and transload site. We have already identified logs moving between MN, WI and UP MI for which the corridor is the shortest rail miles. If we confirm a solid business case, which may include interim or permanent public funding, we will encourage CN to engage in interim Pricing for Strategic Advantage, to enhance confidence in the business case and assure the freight is immediately available when the out-of-service segments are restored.

Central and Western Wisconsin Logs, Potential Multipurpose Sites.

Logs from these areas can provide rail backhauls to northern WI and UP MI logs moving south. A central WI site has potential for remote intermodal and possible foundation for a full-scale rail logistics hub.

Restoration of Service, Marengo Jct. / White Pine, 77 Miles in WI and MI?

Mining is key to restoration of service (last, circa 2010). Forest products alone are unlikely to be able to contribute sufficient revenue to justify the necessary investment. We intend, however, to engage in ASD Outreach to identify forest products and other freight to assist potential mining interests and the railroad in evaluating the business case for restoring service on this line.

Public policy positions or statements of WCGroup are a product of a consensus process but, absent an express statement by the Participant, do not indicate or represent “endorsement” by any WCGroup Participant, whether individual, corporate or association.

Ahead for Wisconsin Central Group in 2014

Success - Now for the Heavy Lifting
2015 Update, Ahead 2015
Posted 05/19/2015

WCG Agenda 2013

2012 Joint Projects Initiative


















© 2013 Wisconsin Central Group, An ad hoc Rail Freight Stakeholders Coalition