14.December, East Alburgh VT – A block of Davisville RI-bound auto racks has arrived in St. Albans VT from Woodhaven MI via CN. Per yesterday’s single-car test move, NECR will bring the block south to P&W at Willimantic CT.
13.December, East Alburgh VT – A solo, loaded autorack crossed the Canada – U.S. border at East Alburgh as part of Canadian National Railways CN M32461-13, for interchange to NECR at St. Albans VT, and likely bound for Davisville RI. If so, it will be the first auto shipment east to Davisville off of Norfolk Southern in many years. NS has exclusively handled transport for Chrysler SUVs (Dodge Durangos and Jeep Cherokees) from the Detroit facilities to Davisville.
BNSF 301098, contracted to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC (FCA US LLC), originating at Woodhaven MI, arrived via CN to New England Central’s St. Albans yard. It is slated to move on NECR train 324 to Brattleboro, NECR 611 to Palmer, NECR 608 to Willimantic, then P&W NR-4 to Davisville. NECR has reportedly set back the time on the NECR 608 Palmer – Willimantic local to accommodate moving this hot car.
Up to 1,600 Autoracks to Move
This move has been in the works since late summer, and is reportedly the pilot for ~300 autoracks to be routed via CN/NECR in January 2021, and several months after, totaling up to 1,600 carloads. Satisfactory performance may result in a longer-term arrangement.
CN had been known to be eying NS and CSXT New England automotive traffic. Recently, P&W spent $24 million to upgrade the Gardner Branch (Gardner MA – Worcester) to handle NS autoracks off the Patriot Corridor. The rerouted traffic will still end up on the P&W to Davisville, though via a different gateway.
More Than Enough Auto Traffic? Or Not Enough Capacity?
The CN/NECR routing comes on the heals of another reported G&W deal that is competing for NS General Motors traffic from its 1000 units-per-day Fort Wayne IN truck plant. According to knowledgable sources in the area, lack of capacity on NS has led to days-worth of Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra product building up in area lots or in sidetracked autoracks. Eager to get its hottest-selling models to market as quickly as possible, GM is bolstering its Fort Wayne takeaway via G&W’s Chicago, Ft. Wayne & Eastern Railroad (CF&E). CF&E is building a new yard east of Fort Wayne, incorporating five loading tracks and two storage tracks, delivering up to 40 loaded autoracks daily to the Indiana Harbor Belt at Gibson Yard IN. Those carloads will probably head west or south, but illustrates how auto traffic competition is tightening.