Transload Facility

The Des Moines Area MPO has been planning for a new Des Moines Transload Facility, which will strengthen the connection between the region’s trucking and rail freight networks and lower shipping costs for businesses within a 150-mile radius of the capital city.


Greater Des Moines is among few metros in the country to be served by three national (Class 1) and one regional (Class 2) rail carriers, with freight networks stretching from coast to coast and the Mexican and Canadian borders. Only about 25 percent of U.S. shippers have direct access to more than one Class 1 railroad.

However, there is currently a limited connection between the robust rail network and the state’s vast farm-to-market network of roads and highways served by the trucking industry. At present, there is only one transload facility where freight can be transferred between rail cars and semitrucks, and it is served by a single rail carrier, a so-called “captive” facility without competition.

The new Des Moines Transload Facility will be “non-captive,” served by multiple rail carriers, thereby increasing the capacity of rail freight and encouraging competition among rail carriers. This could significantly lower shipping costs and provide a significant boost to the regional economy. Estimates show that the average cost of shipping commodities may drop by 50 percent.

Reports, Studies, Maps

DSM Railport – Feasibility Report – Final (June 28, 2014)
DSM Railport – Transportation Impediments – Final (August 2014)
DSM Railport – Market Analysis – Final (January 31, 2014)
DSM Railport – Rail Map 2014-08-05
Railport Concepts Phase 1
Railport Concepts Full


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