Freight activity is a critical component of the Nashville regional economy. Nashville has an excellent distribution network at hand with highway, rail, air, and barge facilities all readily available. Companies who arrange freight transportation on behalf of local businesses are active in the region.


The means by which freight moves. This includes trucks, railroads, air, and water.


The materials and products shipped by various modes throughout the region.

Trading Partners

Goods flow between the Middle Tennessee region and a number of trading partners.

Freight Intensive Areas

Middle Tennessee is a freight-intensive region with many cluster of industrial and manufacturing usage.

Economic Impact and Jobs

Freight activity is a critical component of the Middle Tennessee regional economy.

Freight Assets

The Nashville region has always been closely tied with its freight infrastructure. Since the 1800s, the Cumberland River provided access to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers; and through the middle of the 19th century, settlers depended on rivers for freight and passenger travel. Today, the Port of Nashville serves as an official Port of Entry for the United States.The first railway to operate in Tennessee was the Nashville and Chattanooga railway chartered in Nashville in 1845. CSX still operates over the original Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis tracks between Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. With the development of the interstate system in the late 1950s, trucking became the dominant mode of freight transportation in the Nashville region with other modes, including air cargo, playing important roles for key commodities and origin-destination pairs. More information can be found in our existing and future conditions report.


As the region’s only Class I railroad company, CSX Transportation (CSXT) operates 22,000 route miles in 22 eastern and Midwest states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces. Its network stretches from Chicago, East St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans to the eastern Great Lakes, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore on the east and down the Atlantic coast to Tampa and Miami. CSXT’s Tennessee Operating Division Headquarters are located in Nashville. They manage 1,377 track miles, two major rail yards, and nine terminals.


The Nashville area occupies a strategic location within North America at the convergence of three major U.S. Interstates and within 650 miles of half the U.S. population and sits at the nexus of major highways and rail routes

Shortline railroads

There are three short line railroads in the Nashville Region. The Nashville & Eastern extends from Nashville eastward toward Monterey. They serve about 40 industries and are responsible for moving about 9,000 carloads a year. The Nashville & Western operates between Nashville and Ashland City, serve about 7 industries, and are responsible for moving about 600 carloads a year. Tennessee Southern Railroad (TSRR) operates from Columbia to Pulaski, Tennessee and from Columbia, Tennessee to Florence, Alabama.

Cumberland River

The Cumberland River provides full river barge access to the Gulf of Mexico. There are two single-chamber locks along the Cumberland River in the Nashville region: Hickory Lock and Dam upstream between the City and Gallatin, and Cheatham Lock and Dam downstream. These locks were both built in the 1950s and have been operational since that time. Port facilities in the Nashville region tend to have a channel depth of 9 to 10 feet.

Nashville International Airport

Nashville International Airport (BNA) by far the largest airport in the Nashville region in terms of moving air cargo. BNA air cargo operations include both air cargo carried in the belly of passenger aircraft and dedicated air cargo carriers that operate out of the Airport’s all-cargo complex. Air cargo activities include daily operations from air cargo integrators, charter cargo airlines, and air express companies.

Radnor Intermodal Terminal

The major rail yard in the Nashville region is the Radnor Yard operated by CSX. This yard is used for intermodal truck-to-rail transfers along with carload operations in the Nashville region.

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