Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Civil and Environmental Engineering


Cross-border freight movement, Intermodal, Modelling, Rail, Windsor, Ontario, Detroit, Michigan


W. Anderson


J. Tofflemire




Shipment by truck dominates the cross-border flow of commodities in both directions between Canada and the United States (Anderson and Coates, 2010; Anderson, 2012; Anderson and Brown, 2012; and Aspila and Maoh, 2014). An individual truck typically pulling one or two trailers is an inefficient way to move goods over long distances (Eom et al., 2012) when freight trains with three or more 4400 horsepower diesel-electric locomotives pull over two-hundred intermodal containers loaded on rail cars throughout North America every day.

Windsor, Ontario is an example of a border community in Canada and hosts the busiest border crossing between Canada and the United States. Crossings include two road, one rail and a sea port of entry (United States Department of Transportation – Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2017). Presently the majority of cross-border import and export traffic is by road haulage. In addition to serving as a port of entry for goods being imported or exported between the two countries there is also a substantial local manufacturing base that consumes and produces goods on both sides of the border.

There are several existing railroad border crossings including a rail tunnel between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. There must be a rational reason why commodities are shipped across the border using trucks and not rail. This dissertation research is proposed to answer the question of is rail viable for shipping commodities cross-border or as part of the cross-border supply chains? A network optimization model of Canada-US rail freight is developed to address this question. The model is first used to assess whether location of a conventional, large-scale intermodal facility in Windsor is viable. Results indicate that it is not. It is then applied to a scenario where innovative small-scale intermodal transfer facilities are located in Windsor and at other significant rail nodes in Ontario. Results indicate that this is a more viable strategy for increasing the rail share of cross-border freight movement.