Friday, March 30, 2012

Channel Tunnel Could Prove Model for US Mexican Rail Freight Shuttle

Potential Scheme to Develop Cross Border Track System Discussed
Shipping News Feature

US – MEXICO - Folks in El Paso, Texas should take a trip through the Channel Tunnel to see what they have in mind put into practice. The local state and city authorities have come up with a possible solution to the eternal problems which road haulage outfits have when crossing the border with Mexico carrying loads of freight.

It is essential to maintain security when transiting the border crossing and the officials have decided that the best way to ensure they remove the problems caused by the trucks is to install a rail freight shuttle to carry the wagons from one secure compound to the next. The Eurotunnel however was not the inspiration for the scheme; that honour goes to Disneyland which has operated a monorail for many years and caused Mayor John Cook to reflect that this reflected similar technology to the Universal Freight Shuttle proposed.

The waiting times which the build up of trucks cause at the border bottlenecks don’t only affect the drivers and customers of the rigs themselves. Private motorists suffer and bridges become clogged not to mention the increased potential for accidents with so many trucks travelling in such close proximity. This week the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano held talks with Mayor Cook and US Representative Silvestre Reyes with a view to reducing the problems and the Shuttle was prominent on the agenda.

Local press reports indicate that, if the $800 million or so needed to launch the scheme can be found the most likely scenario will be a track laid in the vicinity of the Zaragoza Bridge with both Governments needing to agree procedures as security would be paramount with sealed freight wagons heading between Customs points and control remaining firmly with Customs Border Patrol officers although some evidence suggests the controls the plan offers would enhance, rather than diminish, security.

At least part of the finance for such a scheme would probably come from private sources but with only around twelve miles of track envisaged and if the US and Mexican cooperation was developed along Eurotunnel lines it may well be the case that such a project could reduce the congestion which sometimes cripples traffic in the region and removes freight to areas more suited for inspection.

Photo: Disneyland has operated a monorail system ‘forever’ according to Mayor Cook.