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            december 14, 2019

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West Virginia may sell unprofitable Heartland Intermodal Gateway


West Virginia is considering whether to sell the Heartland Intermodal Gateway (HIG), a US$30 million inland port funded by state and federal government grants that has failed to attract the cargo volumes needed to make the facility sustainable.
Earlier this month, the state's port authority voted to allow the facility to seek a short-term lease, which is regarded as an interim solution until the state decides whether to sell the facility.
The move coincides with a reduction in the state's budget for the port authority. The West Virginia Department of Transportation said the inland port, which cost $500,000 per annum to operate, made little income, reported American Shipper.
Opened at the end of 2015, the 100-acre site is a truck and rail transfer facility for intermodal service between the port of Virginia and Chicago, with connecting service to US west coast ports. Toyota's Buffalo plant in West Virginia is one HIG's customers. The terminal is also part of Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor service, which links the port of Norfolk to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
Norfolk Southern's intermodal volumes declined in the first half of the year as freight activity slowed. In June, the average weekly number of intermodal cars online decreased by two per cent year on year to 10,375.
In a feasibility study, west Virginia's port authority saw HIG as a less expensive option for moving containers to locations within the state as compared to an all-truck service or a rail and drayage move through the Rickenbacker intermodal terminal in Columbus, Ohio.
However, the cost advantage for moving containers to the intermodal hub in Chicago was more marginal. In some cases, moving containers through Rickenbacker or another intermodal hub in Georgetown, Kentucky, was the cheaper option.

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