An important piece of railroad operator CSX's expansion in Central Massachusetts is now up and running in Westborough.
CSX's subsidiary, Transflo, transformed a former CSX automotive terminal – which had been underutilized for years – into a 22-acre, "state-of-the-art" bulk transfer facility that will unload and store shipments of commodities like biodiesel, corn starch, plastic pellets and airplane de-icing fluid.
The facility began operating in October, according to CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan.
The $20-million project includes new buildings, safety measures in case of spills, and an increase the number of rail lines at the old facility, which is tucked away off Flanders Road in Westborough.
Trucks will pick up the bulk goods 12 hours a day to haul to locations around New England.
The relocation of the bulk transfer facility from Boston is a part of an agreement between CSX and the state. The Westborough facility enhances CSX's freight capacity and reduces the number of freight trains headed for Boston, which opens up the rails for more commuter trains between Worcester and Boston.
Under the agreement, CSX is also moving its intermodal operation from Boston to an expanded CSX rail yard off of Franklin and Shrewsbury Streets in Worcester.
The biggest upside of the Westborough facility for hauling companies is its central location, said Richard Flynn, president of Framingham-based Northeast Logistics Systems – which offers logistics consulting to railroads, haulers and others.
As opposed to the previous Boston location, Westborough offers quick access to the Mass Pike and 495.
"It's absolutely a great distribution point," Flynn said. "You can get anywhere in New England."
Though the state has focused much attention on expanding commuter rail options between Worcester and Boston, the CSX expansion in Central Massachusetts is also very much about freight capacity.
Sullivan, of CSX, said the Westborough facility helps enhance the flow of freight shipments in the region and beyond, which will enhance the state's economic position.
"The move benefits customers, who have access to a modern, centrally located facility," Sullivan said.
Officials hope the economic benefits will show themselves in time.
Flynn, the logistics expert, thinks the CSX expansion will make a difference for the region.
"I think [companies] would be much more likely to look at New England with this investment that was made," Flynn said.
Having the expanded Transflo facility in Westborough opens the door to potential new business with intermodal trucking companies in Rhode Island or Connecticut that may not have seen picking up freight from Boston as a viable option, he said.
"Perhaps it wasn't as competitive to receive those products through the terminal in Boston, so it may open up some additional supplier options," Flynn said.
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