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Intermodal with Florida East Coast Railway

March 6, 2024 Kevin Baxter

FEC Railway

When shippers are deciding on the right freight mode, intermodal tends to come up only when the trip is long haul. But in the southeast U.S., the Florida East Coast Railway, also known as FEC, offers an on-rail alternative that can cover shorter distances - often faster than truck. It's an option many dealing with Florida shipping don't consider, but from Miami to Jacksonville, intra-Florida intermodal is a real, competitive solution for plenty of scenarios. And connections with other railroads - or trucks - can take loads to locations like Atlanta, Charlotte or even points beyond - with substantial cost-savings a pleasant aside.

Faster than Truck Florida Intermodal

A common - and often earned - thought around using intermodal is that the shipment will take longer than traditional over-the-road. After all, even we note that intermodal is typically truck plus one or two days. But Florida East Coast Railway intermodal can often not only match, but outdo the speed of the truck option. With ramp-to-ramp and door-to-door options (thanks to drayage) covering a variety of locations, FEC intermodal can be surprisingly quick.

Case in point, Florida East Coast railroad departures happen regularly - seven days a week in fact - including early morning and late evening. With the Florida East Coast Railway schedule, shippers can expect overnight arrivals between Miami and Fort Lauderdale in South Florida, and Jacksonville in North Florida. For those importing or exporting freight through the South Florida ports, FEC is the exclusive rail provider for PortMiami, Port Everglades and Port of Palm Beach. Its intermodal service then, can not only connect overnight to North Florida, it can connect freight to Central Florida locales like Orlando with faster-than-truck service as well.

Intermodal Connections Beyond Florida  

Into the broader southeast, Florida East Coast offers second morning intermodal between Atlanta and Miami, Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale, and Charlotte and those South Florida locations using its own equipment. It regularly handles time-sensitive loads and also offers late gate cut-off for shipments.

Speaking of Charlotte, FEC and class 1 railroad Norfolk Southern (NS) just announced an extension of their partnership dubbed the Florida Express that offers what they call a "two-way transportation solution" between North Carolina and South Florida - importantly extending to the ports for international cargo. Currently, this service focuses on textiles, but officials plan to expand to produce, poultry and other agricultural commodities to streamline Florida freight and southeast shipping.

The NS and FEC partnership centers around a steel wheel interchange at Jacksonville, which a previous service expansion brought about. At the time of the earlier announcement, the companies touted expanded direct access to and from markets in Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, St. Louis and even Southern California. That definitely qualifies as "beyond" Florida.

What Is Florida East Coast Railway?

Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) is a class II railroad with a history dating to 1885. It currently covers about 350 track miles along Florida's Atlantic Coast, from Jacksonville (where it's based) to Miami, including PortMiami, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, and Port of Palm Beach in West Palm Beach. It offers carload, intermodal and transloading services, and also has a truckload carrier known as Raven Transport Holding.

If you're interested in booking southeast intermodal service with FEC, we are an intermodal marketing company (IMC) that can help. Whether you're intra-Florida or just looking at Florida as part of your journey, we have relationships with all the class 1 railroads, as well as class 2 railroads like Florida East Coast. Just drop us a line, and we'll be happy to follow up to discuss your company's unique shipping needs. For more information about InTek, or the logistics and supply chain space in general, check out our Freight Guides.

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