Symposiums and peer exchanges are critical venues in which researchers meet and exchange new ideas and share the results of projects with colleagues. These gatherings are particularly important for multidisciplinary research areas. Despite knowledge rapidly developing in these fields, too often conversations do not take place between individuals who occupy different research niches. This delays efforts to implement new solutions to critical, everyday problems. Currently, there is no annual meeting at which researchers doing work on freight transportation shipped on the inland waterways and railways gather to present their findings to a broad cross section of government, industry, and academic stakeholders. Given the role multimodal freight movements will play in steering US economic growth over the next 20‐30 years, this oversight demanded corrective action.

This corrective action came in the form of the 2013 Barge and Rail Symposium organized by the Kentucky Transportaiton Center. This conference promoted discussions between stakeholders researching the US inland waterway system and rail network as well as businesses who rely on these transportation assets. With freight transportation as its focal point, the 2013 Barge and Rail Symposium established a collegial environment in which new bonds were forged between major stakeholders and researchers as they discussed challenges and opportunities associated with moving freight in an economic, efficient, and sustainable manner through multimodal systems. In addition to informative conference presentations, participants at the Barge and Rail Symposium had the chance to visit a number of facilities that are an integral part of multimodal freight networks, such as the McAlpine Locks and Dam, to gain firsthand knowledge of their daily operations. The 2013 Symposium balanced insightful presentations with hands‐on field experience, giving attendees a memorable experience and, more crucially, it set the stage for future collaborations between researchers and public and private stakeholders.

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© 2014 University of Kentucky, Kentucky Transportation Center

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