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over bulk shipments of grain. Rates per metric ton in containers are cheaper and the boxes are very easy to track as each container has reporting marks similar to a railroad freight car. Quali- ty control of grain improves in contain- ers because of smaller lots, less han- dling, less blending than in a huge traditional bulk shipment, and more consistency. The grain comes from one area in a container filled at a single grain elevator.


Corn In Containers The elevator owned by Consolidated


Grain & Barge is estimated to be load- ing several hundred or more containers per week with corn and soybeans (this is a private company so specific infor- mation regarding numbers is not freely available for competitive reasons). These containers are trucked to the nearly adjacent Global 3 facility. When did shipping grain for export in containers begin? It isn’t totally


clear but based on when statistics for this type of shipment began being tracked, it started sometime in the 1990s. An equipment manager for ship- ping company Maersk stated in the fea- sibility study mentioned above that they did not begin receiving grain in containers until Railway’s Logistics Park Chicago opened in the town of El- wood (located southwest of Chicago) in 2003. A United States Department of Agri-


culture Grain Transportation Report stated that only 0.4 per cent of U.S. soy- bean exports were handled in contain- ers in 1992. From 1992-2004 U.S. con- tainerized soybeans exports grew from


6100 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (a TEU is how much product would fit in- to a 20 foot shipping container), to over 45,000 (four per cent of total soybean exports). According to an addition of this report in November 2009, rail- roads originate approximately 35 per cent of U.S. grain shipments. The re- port also states in 2008 containers were used to transport six per cent of total U.S. waterborne grain exports and nine per cent of U.S. grain exports to Asia. Containers are also used to export grain to Mexico but that may be all rail or a combination of truck and rail. In August of 2009 the leading coun- try for all U.S. containerized grain ex-


RIGHT: Bright red K Line containers pass a farm in Geneva, Illinois. Containers are more closely associated with agriculture than one might think! BELOW: The Global-3 switcher works in the foreground as an eastbound grain train on the Geneva Sub passes a stack consist entering the facility. The Consolidated Grain & Barge elevator looms in the back- ground. The steam visible at the elevator is the result of wet corn being dried in a natural gas fueled apparatus.


28 APRIL 2012 • RAILFAN.COM


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