Norfolk Southern is back on track at Franklin County Regional Intermodal Facility

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

When Norfolk Southern closed its intermodal facility in Antrim Township two years ago for business reasons, the railroad left the door open to resume operations if market conditions changed.

Rapid e-commerce growth, market demand and supply chain changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic are among the factors contributing to the decision announced Aug. 13 to reopen the Franklin County Regional Intermodal Facility.

Norfolk Southern is reopening its Franklin County Regional Intermodal Facility, which closed in 2019.

“With strong growth in volume driven by e-commerce and a recovering economy, we believe the timing is right to bring our Greencastle facility back online,” Chief Marketing Officer Alan Shaw said in a news release on the Norfolk Southern website

“We are excited about the new opportunities that this reopening provides for us and for our business partners across Pennsylvania and beyond," he continued. "We are collaborating with our customers to support their business needs, offering shippers a more sustainable transportation solution and a commitment to best-in-class service.”

Norfolk Southern plans a gradual phase-in beginning Sept. 10 at the terminal on Antrim Commons Drive of U.S. 11 near Exit 3 of Interstate 81 south of Greencastle.

"The added capacity at Greencastle is expected to reduce terminal congestion and improve network fluidity across Pennsylvania," the news release said.

Norfolk Southern opened the $97 million facility in 2013 as part of "its Crescent Corridor initiative, a public-private partnership designed to convert freight from highway to rail to ease congested roadways and reduce carbon emissions while creating opportunities for jobs and economic development," according to the news release.

"An intermodal terminal has a significant impact on highway congestion and the environment in that it reduces by the tens of thousands the number of trucks making long-distance trips on our highways," explained Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

Idled in 2019, the Norfolk Southern Franklin County Regional Intermodal Facility will gradually reopen beginning Sept. 10.

In addition to Greencastle, intermodal facilities were added at Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., and Memphis, Tenn., along the 2,500-mile rail corridor from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

"Typically products that are targeted for distribution in our general region are railed to the intermodal and the cars are lifted onto truck cabs and travel by highway to their final destination," Ross said.

"Effective Sept. 10, the railroad plans a gradual phase-in of business at the Franklin County Regional Intermodal Facility, starting with a lane of domestic intermodal traffic that currently moves between Norfolk Southern intermodal facilities in Memphis and Rutherford, in southcentral Pennsylvania," the news release said. "Greencastle will provide additional terminal capacity and help to improve service as demand for the railroad’s robust franchise continues to grow."

About a dozen people will be hired at the site, according to Rachel McDonnell Bradshaw, manager of media relations for Norfolk Southern.

Norfolk Southern's Franklin County Regional Intermodal Facility is located on Antrim Commons Drive off U.S. 11 south of Greencastle near Exit 3 of Interstate 81.

"The Greencastle terminal has the capacity for an estimated 100,000 shipping container lifts annually," the news release said. "A lift occurs every time a container is lifted onto or off of a rail car. The first phase of traffic at Greencastle is expected to generate around 50,000 lifts."

When the site was idled in 2019, Ross predicted it was not the end of the road for the terminal.

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”The reopening of the Norfolk Southern intermodal is validation of the original decision to establish the terminal in 2013. Moreover, it will support the ever-expanding logistics sector impacting the I-81, I-78 and I-70 corridors," he said.

"Norfolk Southern has been integral to the economic growth and stability of Franklin County. The Norfolk Southern-FCADC relationship dates back 35 years, and we consider it one our most important relationships," Ross said.

A number of local businesses have used Norfolk Southern services for years, Ross said, giving examples such as Franklin Logistics, Armada Supply and Food Lion.