Posts Tagged ‘boxcars’

Penn Central Collage in Macedonia

March 15, 2023

It’s a collage of Penn Central locomotives and rolling stock in Motor Yard in Macedonia in suburban Cleveland in early 1973. In the center of the image is PC GP40 No. 3154, which had been built for the railroad in September 1968. Also on hand are a caboose and some boxcars.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

All Contribute to the History of This Place

January 5, 2023

A signal, a boxcar and a building. Each of them contributes to the history in this photo. We are in Clinton somewhere between 1967 and 1972.

The eastbound signal guards the unseen (now-removed) Pennsylvania Railroad/Penn Central line that diverged just east (photo right) of here from the eastbound main

The train is heading west and the boxcar is not the usual boxcar red B&O boxcar.

Most likely it has special paint because of its insulated cushion underframe.

The building behind the train seems to have been around since long before I started railfanning. Today it houses a restaurant/bar and apartments.

Boxcars such as this are still in use. They have about a foot of cork insulation inside all around, and are used to keep things such as beer and wine cool, but not ice cold, which would account for the cushion underframe if hauling glass bottles. 

It looks like the plug door may have come from a different car, since the color doesn’t match.

Today CSX has only a single track instead of an eastbound and westbound track. The ex-PRR track diverged here and went west past Warwick Tower toward Orrville is gone.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

The Pennsy Yard Scene in Dennison in 1967

December 31, 2022

Mike Ondecker and I found this Pennsylvania Railroad scene at the yard in Dennison in mid-1967. Notice the damaged boxcar.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

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.