Amarillo manufacturers often ask me, “Why can I not get my products or supplies off of the train that passes by my back window?” Good question. Let’s be honest — there are more than 100 trains per day that pass over the several hundreds of miles of railroad in Amarillo.
It seems like an obvious assumption that a company should be able to offload products or components in town as a normal practice. But how goods are delivered depends heavily on what kind of goods they are.
Consumer goods and manufacturing components alike are transported in vessels known as intermodal containers. Intermodal literally means ‘more than one mode of transportation via truck, railroad or ocean carrier.’
These specialized containers make up the bulk of shipments within the domestic US and upon their arrival to America, they are placed on super-long trains consisting of 100-plus cars called unit trains. Unit trains carry one product sourced from one origin and take route to one destination at the highest allowable velocity.
According to the Intermodal Association of America, American railroads handled more than 16 million intermodal containers in 2014, and the popularity of intermodal freight is directly attributed to its reliability, safety rating, cost efficiency and environmental benefits.
Consumer goods eventually make their way off of unit trains and onto trucks that transport the products to wholesale and retail outlets across the nation. There are very few intermodal offloading sites within the US and each one is a major investment by the rail carrier.
Specifically, inbound consumer goods to the Port of Los Angeles can be seen passing through Amarillo en route to BNSF Railway’s Alliance Intermodal Facility at Alliance Airport in Haslet, Texas just outside of Dallas. BNSF also has intermodal facilities in Kansas City and Chicago.
The supply chain flow for consumer goods is the most visible part of the manufacturing and distribution process we see in the Panhandle. Daily, we see the long lines of freight passing on our train tracks and interstates.
But not all goods can be shipped via unit train and rail customers in Amarillo demand reliable, on-time delivery of inbound raw material and outbound finished product. Companies adjacent to active rail infrastructure enjoy a competitive advantage and there is no better place in the Texas Panhandle for rail access than Amarillo CenterPort Business Park.
CenterPort is owned and operated by the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation.
Consisting of 440-acres of prime industrial land and is equipped with one-mile of double-track ma rail siding and two rail spurs traversing the first phase of the property. Siding is basically the “access road” of the ma allowing BNSF to serve its customers without disrupting the flow of the 100-plus trains per day of traffic on the ma . In all, there is more than 20,000-linear feet, or 3.75 miles, of rail located at CenterPort.
Access to rail infrastructure is a tremendous selling point for industrial projects in the U.S. The lion’s share of true manufacturing projects requires rail infrastructure for both inbound and outbound delivery.
A perfect, and local, example of this is GRI Renewable Industries. In 2015, the Amarillo EDC secured investment from Spanish-born GRI to manufacture steel wind towers for the U.S. market.
The project’s construction is nearing completion and at full-capacity, the more than 250,000-square foot facility will produce hundreds of towers per year. GRI elected to construct two industry rail feeds to service its need for inbound plate steel delivery. Although construction of the facility is not yet complete, GRI has begun preliminary offloading of plate steel in its storage yard at CenterPort.
CenterPort is a beehive of logistical activity and is ideally positioned for rail and roadway transportation. Rail-served sites are still available through the Amarillo EDC.
To learn more about the CenterPort Business Park, contact the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation today.
Learn about the Top Industries of Amarillo by downloading our free infographic.