Florida East Coast to add Valdosta, Ga., to relay rail network

Florida East Coast Railway Co. (FEC) said today it would add Valdosta, Ga., to its so-called relay rail network, which allows truckers to drop off trailerloads with the FEC and have the railroad, rather than the truckers, transport the freight down the Florida peninsula to Miami. The expansion will take place early next year, the railroad said.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based FEC already operates such a service at Savannah, where truckers delivering loads originating in the Midwest and Southeast drop their loads with FEC at the Georgia city. FEC then trucks the trailer to its railhead in Jacksonville, where it is transloaded onto one of its trains for the 350-mile overnight trip to Miami. The trucker can then pick up a trailer in Savannah, a major manufacturing and distribution center, for the westbound return trip. Once the trailer is offloaded in Miami, FEC returns the empty equipment to Savannah.

FEC said the service eliminates the need for a trucker to use its own equipment for the costly journey down Florida's Eastern seaboard. The trucker also doesn't have to worry about finding a compensatory load to move northbound, often a difficult proposition because of the dearth of manufacturing and distribution locations in Central and South Florida, regions known more for tourism than industry.

James L. Hertwig, FEC's president and CEO, said at a media breakfast today that Valdosta was added to the network to give truckers and their customers another node inside Georgia that is reasonably close to the FEC railhead in Jacksonville. Valdosta is 185 miles southwest of Savannah and about 130 miles from Jacksonville.

Hertwig said the relay service in Valdosta would operate in the same manner as its Savannah counterpart. Hertwig spoke in Atlanta at the joint annual meeting of the National Industrial Transportation League, the Intermodal Association of North America, and the Transportation Intermediaries Association.

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