Norfolk Southern Railway will open its Heartland Corridor intermodal corridor this week, which will increase intermodal freight capacity by raising vertical clearances in 28 tunnels on a Norfolk Southern rail line between the port of Hampton Roads, Va., and Chicago known as the Heartland Corridor.

Containerized freight moving in double-stack trains will be able to shave off about 250 miles and up to a day's transit time between the East Coast and the Midwest. Previously, says Norfolk Southern, double-stack trains had to take longer routes by way of Harrisburg, Pa., or Knoxville, Tenn. The Heartland Corridor goes across Virginia, through southern West Virginia and north through Columbus, Ohio.

As Journal of Commerce reports, "supporters of freight rail transport believe will change the landscape of shipping in eastern United States and expand efforts to push highway freight onto rails."

On Thursday, Norfolk Southern will hold a ceremony at the Cowan Tunnel in Radford, Va., to commemorate the opening of the Heartland Corridor, according to published reports.

The first double-stacked train to use the new intermodal route between Columbus, Ohio, and the Port of Virginia in Norfolk will go through the tunnel, which was built in 1906 and is the first and longest - at 3,302 feet - of the 28 tunnels in the Appalachian Mountains that were raised during the project.

JOC notes that "combined with rival CSX Transportation's National Gateway corridor, and Norfolk Southern's own Crescent Corridor - arcing from the Mississippi Delta to New York - and its partnerships with Kansas City Southern Railway and Union Pacific Railway that provide cross-country links, East Coast rail is rising above competition. The breadth of this new map, and its links to the expected Panama Canal cargo increase, are becoming game changers in the contest for freight from all corners."