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- Michael Gallagher
A challenging market segment that requires special care and attention, out-of-gauge rail, or OOG, makes up a small percentage of the railcars that move annually in North America. Railroads can be reluctant to take it on, as OOG rail restricts train speeds and is far more complex to handle than intermodal. The necessary rail clearance and special operations teams often are understaffed, especially in the age of precision railroading, which makes dedicated OOG rail teams on the logistics providers’ side useful and often essential. Potential rail strikes and well-publicized accidents may add to a sense of risk. However, although it takes months of planning, inherent challenges in securing suitable railcars, and other specialized, dedicated resources, there are important pluses to moving OOG by rail. It’s greener, faster, and often far less expensive than over-the-road transport and allows shippers to avoid myriad permitting requirements and infrastructure limitations, especially when moving long distances. This session, led by Journal of Commerce senior editor Bill Cassidy, will discuss the realities of North American OOG rail in 2023.