New intermodal rail hub gives Indiana shippers faster path to Asia

CN and Indiana Rail Road to offer intermodal service to Indianapolis; deal announced at Conexus Indiana Logistics Council meeting, embraced by industry

(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind, January 16, 2013)   The Conexus Indiana Logistics Council (CILC) today endorsed an agreement between CN (Canadian National Railway) and the Indiana Rail Road Company (INRD) to establish new intermodal rail service to Indianapolis. According to the industry-led Logistics Council, the CN-INRD partnership is a significant step forward for Indiana’s shippers: A new intermodal facility, to be built by INRD, will allow Hoosier companies to move containerized freight by rail directly to the west coast for shipment to Asian ports without the delays and congestion of first transporting it to Chicago.

The intermodal hub will be an expansion of INRD’s existing Senate Avenue Terminal on the southern edge of downtown Indianapolis, and will also include a container yard and an on-site agricultural products loading facility.

Moving freight in standardized containers allows intermodal transportation – shifting the containers among truck, rail and ship as part of a seamless process designed to save time and cost. The new Indianapolis facility will allow Indiana’s intermodal shippers to avoid longer truck drives, costly drayage costs (fuel, labor, maintenance, etc), and detention charges in Chicago rail yards. It also allows access to a more efficient all-rail route to ports in western Canada (the Port of Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert in British Columbia) with access to multiple shipping lines offering weekly service to all major Asian ports.

The Conexus Indiana Logistics Council, a statewide group of logistics executives and thought leaders, has been a consistent advocate for expanded intermodal service and helped facilitate the agreement.
“We’re excited that INRD and CN recognize the tremendous potential for intermodal service here,” said David Holt, Vice-President of Conexus Indiana. “It’s a win-win, for the manufacturing and logistics companies that stand to save time and money, and the rail companies that recognize the pent-up demand.
“The business opportunity was compelling enough to attract this great partnership between a locally-based railroad and a transcontinental Class 1, and that says a lot,” Holt finished.

According to industry leaders, the intermodal expansion enhances Central Indiana’s marketability as the ‘Crossroads of America’ logistics powerhouse, while allowing shippers to realize significant advantages by avoiding the congestion and bottlenecks of current routes through Chicago.

"This strategic collaboration between CN and INRD is a potential game changer for the central Indiana logistics and manufacturing industry,” added Chip Edgington, Executive Vice-President of Operations for Redcats USA and chair of CILC. “The opportunity to circumvent Chicago and leverage direct rail service between the west coast and Indianapolis allows business' to gain a competitive edge when transit times and expedient customer service is more critical than ever before.”

Mark DeFabis, a member of CILC, is President and CEO of Integrated Distribution Services in Plainfield and a former Indianapolis economic development official; he stressed the international significance of today’s announcement.

“Canada is Indiana’s largest export market, China is our fastest- growing trade partner, and Japan is the state’s largest foreign investor,” said DeFabis. “So direct intermodal access to Western Canada and Asian ports will truly strengthen Indiana’s position in the global supply chain.”

The Indianapolis terminal will begin receiving empty containers in June 2013. CN officials estimate that the service will allow cargo to flow between Indianapolis and Shanghai in as little as 18-20 days.
“This all-rail service will reduce transit times and improve transportation consistency,” noted Jean-Jacques Ruest, CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer.

Launched by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Conexus Indiana is the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative, dedicated to making Indiana a global leader. Conexus is focused on strategic priorities like workforce development, creating new industry partnerships and promoting Indiana’s advantages in manufacturing and logistics. Learn more at and see the video by Inside Indiana Business here