Posts Tagged ‘boxcars’

Throwback to the Pennsy

March 5, 2021

It may be the Conrail era but this boxcar in Orrville still carries Pennsylvania Railroad markings. The image was made on July 25, 1984.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Everywhere But the West

August 5, 2020

This image looks like it could be from the 1940s but it was made in the Erie Lackawanna yard in Kent in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy had the slogan “Everywhere West,” but its cars ventured to all parts of the country. It’s doubtful that this car is still in revenue service.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Not What it Appears to Be

March 12, 2020

It may look like a Penn Central caboose but when this photograph was made this car was on the roster of Conrail.

Conrail No. 24546 is shown in Akron in July 1976. Note the Pennsylvania Railroad boxcar ahead of it.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

The Stories Behind Freight Cars

September 11, 2019

Some railfan photographers enjoy photographing freight cars although few of them make that their primary focus.

For the vast majority of railroad photographers, the motive power is the be all and end all of their hobby.

Yet I’ve sat through more than one railfan club program in which one or more audience members lamented not photographing a particular freight car at a given time and place.

Usually, what they failed to capture is a car from a fallen flag railroad.

That is the story behind the top image of a Delaware & Hudson boxcar photographed on June 10, 1978, in Massillon. The D&H is now a fallen flag.

The story behind the bottom photograph is different. This covered hopper was photographed in Akron on Jan. 26, 1980.

It got me to wondering he is or was Sid Richardson. He was Sid Williams Richardson, a Fort Worth, Texas, businessman, who lived between 1891 and 1959.

He made his fortune in the oil and carbon businesses. He was a philanthropist who founded what would become the Sid Richardson Museum, a collection of western art, particularly that of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.

He also founded the Sid W. Richardson Foundation in 1947 and it continues to provide grants to organizations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

As for the company that bears Richardson’s name, it was acquired last year byTokai Carbon Company. A news release about the acquisition noted that Sid Richardson Carbon is the larges carbon black producer in the United States.

Boxcar Fleet Declining at Precipitous Rate

August 28, 2019

Boxcars are ubiquitous on freight trains having been around for as long as there have been railroads.

In past years railroads used their boxcars as rolling billboards to promote their freight service and in some cases their marquee passenger trains.

That is done far less frequently today but the boxcar remains a staple of manifest freight trains.

However, an analysis published by Progressive Railroading suggests that a shortage of boxcars may be coming as 50,000 cars reach the end of their active service lives.

The report said between 1975 and 1980 railroad equipment manufacturers constructed 110,000 box cars of which 52,000 still exist.

They usually are retired after 42 to 43 years of service  which means most of them are likely to be retired in the coming years because few owners will want to invest large sums of money into maintaining cars that are more than 40 years old.

Some of the best maintained cars might last another five to seven years.

During the past two decades, just one new boxcar has entered service for every 3.9 cars retired.

That would mean that just 13,000 new cars will replace the 52,000 cars facing retirement and leaving a boxcar fleet of 70,000 cars by the mid-2020s.

The analysis said this would result in the box car fleet being in danger of losing its commercial critical mass with its customer base.

Two-thirds of the shipments in box cars are forest products, accounting for $3.5 billion in freight revenue.

Paper shippers rely on about 100,000 of the boxcar fleet with about half of the current fleet having been built since the mid 1990s to Plate F, 100-ton specifications.

The analysis noted that new box cars are expensive, especially when compared with old, depreciated equipment.

It went on to say that the dominant financial model of leasing boxcars, per-diem leasing, has prevented lessors from investing in new box cars because per-diem leasing requires that hourly and mileage car hire rates be negotiated with every railroad that handles the car.

Absent a negotiated rate between a car owner and a car user, a “default rate” is applied.

The default rate is based on the lowest negotiated rate for a class of cars. These default rates tend to be below levels that support investment in new boxcars.

If two parties agree on an extremely low sub-market rate on a single old, dilapidated box car in a class of cars that includes thousands of new investment-grade cars for the purposes of setting a low default “floor” rate in order to give themselves an advantage in future rate negotiations for that particular car class, this makes the downside risk so extreme that lessors have largely abandoned investing in new box cars.

More than 70 percent of the the 1.6 million new rail cars that have been built since 1980s, which the railroad industry was deregulated, have been built for leasing companies.

The analysis contends that all rail car fleets except for boxcars have received adequate levels of new car investment.

It concluded that unless the industry can agree on per diem rate reform the boxcar fleet might some day face a critical shortage of rolling stock.

PSR Dampening Demand for Leased Boxcars

July 24, 2019

The move toward precision scheduled railroading at most Class 1 railroads has resulted in less demand for leased freight cars.

GATX Corporation reported that during the second quarter of 2019 the utilization rate of the box cars that it leases dropped from 95 percent to 94 percent.

The company expects boxcar utilization could fall another 1 to 2 percent by the end of the year.

Non-boxcar GATX utilization was 99 percent during the quarter, boosted by a fleet makeup of 50 percent tank cars, for which there is a demand backlog.

“We continue to believe that PSR will have the biggest effect on high-mileage cars — coal, intermodal, boxcars — and much lower on the lower-mileage tank and specialty hoppers that make up the bulk of the GATX fleet,” said Tom Ellman, GATX executive vice president and chief financial officer.

He said that until recently the effects of the switch to PSR has been offset by fleet attrition.

“But during the second quarter those PSR impacts, combined with weather, and flattening in the growth of packaging materials, caused boxcar utilization to decline,” Ellman said.

During the second quarter GATX had a fleet of 119,500 rail cars, including 16,000 boxcars.

The average age of those boxcars is 40 years old whereas the average age of the GATX fleet as a whole is 20 years old.

Ellman said that means the long-term impacts of PSR will be muted by boxcars leaving the roster.

CN to Acquire 350 Boxcars

April 20, 2018

Canadian National announced this week that it will acquire 350 boxcars for use by its industrial customers in North America.

Each of the 50-foot, high-capacity plate F boxcars will have 12-foot plug doors. Delivery will begin in late summer with all the cars in service by the end of the year.

“These additional boxcars, combined with our new locomotives, hundreds of new train crew members, and track expansion investments, will help give us the capacity and network resiliency we need for pulp, paper and metals customers,” said Doug MacDonald, vice president of bulk at CN, in a news release.

CN said that the boxcar addition is part of the railroad’s capital program for the year that includes adding additional track and increasing yard capacity, particularly in the Chicago-West Coast corridor.

WM Boxcar Moves From Ohio to Museum

April 6, 2018

A former Western Maryland boxcar that sat for years at an Ohio grain elevator has been trucked to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The WMSR plans to restore the car and use it to haul bicycles on its tourist trains.

The car carried roster number 26634 and still has faded but visible “Western Maryland” speed lettering.

Ginn Grain in Sidney, Ohio, had used it for storage since the late 1980s, but the car developed a leak that rendered it unsuitable for its intended purpose.

Aside from hauling bikes, the boxcar will also be used for vintage looking photo freights by the WMSR.

The car the WMSR has been using to haul as many as 75 bicyclists a day, who use a trail adjacent to the tracks between June and October, has developed structural issues.

Yes, GATX Also Has Box Cars for Lease

February 10, 2017


When I think of GATX I think of tank cars. The Chicago-based equipment finance company has its initials on thousands of tank cars.

In fact, the company says that it has a fleet of more than 125,000 railcars and 600 locomotives. Of its railcars, more than 59,000 are tank cars.

But GATX has a few boxcars, too. I ran across this one on a Norfolk Southern train in Bellevue last summer.

The GTAX website doesn’t say how many boxcars that it has for lease, only that they come in 50-, 60- and 86-foot lengths.

This particular car is carrying reporting marks for the Laurinburg & Southern, a short-line railroad with 28 miles of track in North Carolina.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Bob Cranks up His Wayback Machine Again

January 10, 2017

Erie Lackawanna 2512, a GE U25B

Erie Lackawanna 2512, a GE U25B

Akron Railroad Club member Bob Farkas has invited us over to his house for a party to celebrate the new year and to remember an old year.

After some socializing and snacks, he’s brought out his Wayback Machine and taken us back on the Erie Lackawanna on a winter day in Kent in the 1960s for a “from the same roll of film” show.

He said the images are from the same afternoon and are not in any particular order. Pass the popcorn and enjoy the show.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Louisiana & Northwestern 6036 boxcar

Louisiana & North-West 6036 boxcar

Erie R28 being used as a rider car

Erie R28 being used as a rider car


EL 3613, 3609, both EMD SD45s

Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 24260 and Milwaukee Road boxcars.

Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 24260 and Milwaukee Road boxcars.


EL 2452, an Alco C425; 2553, an EMD GP 35; and 6321, an EMD F7A

EL 2452, an Alco C425; 2553, an EMD GP 35; and 6321, an EMD F7A

CB&Q 28402 boxcar

CB&Q 28402 boxcar

EL 6321, an EMD F7A

EL 6321, an EMD F7A

This is my favorite image from the afternoon. EL 1051 and its train head west through the east end of the yard.

This is my favorite image from the afternoon. EL 1051 and its train head west through the east end of the yard.