FEATURE: Driving Growth through Strategic Partnerships and Inland Rail Innovation

Minot North Dakota Visits the Managing Member Meeting

At The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), we’ve launched a strategic initiative to drive increased exports of U.S. agricultural goods through our gateway to international markets. While ag exports within Washington State travel via truck to our terminals, rail serves as a significant mode of transportation to bring inland exports to our Seattle and Tacoma harbors. By increasing our inland rail partners, the NWSA aims to increase U.S. export opportunities through our gateway, while reducing truck traffic and environmental impacts of diesel particulate matter near our harbors.

The first Inland Rail Hub facility moving exports through the NWSA launched in Minot, North Dakota in October of 2020. Several partners were integral in establishing this facility including the Minot Area Chamber Economic Development Corporation (MACEDC), BNSF Railway and Rail Modal Group (RMG).

Earlier this month, a North Dakota delegation traveled to the Pacific Northwest and joined the January Managing Members’ Meeting to share an update on the success of the inland rail hub. You can watch the presentation here and read below for the highlights from our key partners on this strategic initiative.

Please share about the inland rail hub’s current operations.


The Minot Intermodal Facility at the Logistics Park of North Dakota (LPND) works in partnership with The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) and the BNSF Railway to provide efficient movement of containerized agriculture exports helping U.S. farmers reach international markets. It represents the first successful project under the NWSA’s Inland Rail Hub Strategic Initiative and is the only rail facility performing intermodal operations in North Dakota

The initiative is focused on supporting international intermodal service from non-traditional inland rail ramp locations to grow containerized agriculture exports and create opportunities for import intermodal service to these locations.

The Inland Rail Hub is operated by Rail Modal Group with partners like BNSF Railway, CMA CGM, and MSC who have been crucial to the success of this initiative. Currently, we are focused on maintaining efficient operations, with three to four unit-trains per month, providing direct dockside service at terminals in the NWSA gateway.

How has the Inland Rail Hub in Minot changed export opportunities for ag producers in North Dakota?

Intermodal Train being Loaded

Over the last three years, we've witnessed remarkable progress with the launch of the intermodal facility in Minot.  The Inland Rail Hub has been a game-changer for North Dakota agriculture. It has facilitated the efficient movement of containerized agriculture exports, allowing our farmers to reach international markets.

This facility helps us deliver on our commitment of providing affordable, abundant, safe, and nutritious food globally. North Dakota commodities and products are being shipped to ports in over twenty countries and we are saving over 10 million truck miles by using rail - and there is opportunity to do more.

MACEDC is committed to supporting growth at the facility. To date our operator has moved 74 full unit trains out of Minot within the first three years and we are expecting increased volume in the upcoming year.

Collaboration has been a key part of this initiative’s success, can you share any highlights of key partnerships from the last three years of operations at the facility?

Minot Inland Rail Hub

None of this would have been possible without the invaluable partnership of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, BNSF Railway, our operator RMG and leadership at all levels in North Dakota. It is our strategic partners who have supported us as we sought ways to efficiently move commodities from North Dakota to various markets and enabled us to pilot and start continuous intermodal services out of North Dakota.

In the last three years, we've worked with 13 shippers, facilitating the movement of over 15,040 forty-foot containers and 862 twenty-foot containers. The reach of our products extends to ports in 21 different countries. Importantly, this initiative is not just about logistics; it's about sustainability. By transporting commodities via rail, we've reduced truck emissions and supported both ours and the NWSA’s important environmental initiatives.

What are the future plans for the intermodal facility and its further development?

The Minot Area Chamber EDC is excited about future expansion plans of this facility.  We have a commitment to growth that extends beyond our ownership, and our operator is investing in the facility's future as well.

We have about 120 acres on-site that can be further developed to support our operator, Rail Modal Group. Additionally, MACEDC owns the Logistics Park of North Dakota, comprised of 800 acres to the north of the intermodal facility, with almost 400 acres certified as the only BNSF rail site in North Dakota.

This project has also garnered state-wide support as the state of North Dakota has shown a commitment to this initiative by investing $2 million in a rail track expansion project. This project involved installing more than 4,000 feet of track to the already existing 11,000 feet of track on site, to allow for more efficient movement of full unit trains. It was a collaborative effort between the state, the Minot Area Chamber EDC, and our strategic partners.

What is the Minot Area Chamber Economic Development Corporation?

BNSF Minot Intermodal

We are a non-profit organization formed when the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce and the Minot Area Development Corporation (MADC) merged into one organization on January 1, 2021. The organization’s mission is to advocate for and invest in business activity by being a collaborate partner in the community, focused on improving quality of life for all. Its vision is to be the go-to organization for our business community to drive key initiatives that build and strengthen our economy.