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Date: 01/14/22 07:25
Box Cars
Author: ClubCar

In the last few years there have been various stories concerning the fact that box cars are being fazed out on the railroads.  Who says so?  In watching all kinds of freight trains both on CSX and on Norfolk Southern in the Maryland area standing trackside, there are many trains with box cars in the consists and on some of these extra long trains I have counted as many as 134 box cars in one train on CSX (former B&O Railroad).  When going onto Virtual Railfan Live and looking at many live feeds as well as videos posted on here and other places, there are hundreds of box cars to be seen, and I can state that the Reading & Northern Railroad up in Pennsylvania moves hundreds of them weekly over their lines.  One can also see many new box cars from GATX and other leasing companies.  In my humble opinion, box cars will still be around for a long time as long as shippers need them to move their products.  What do you think?
John in White Marsh, Maryland



Date: 01/14/22 07:31
Re: Box Cars
Author: wmfan3798

Boxcars will never be gone completely but there are a lot less than there used to be. One "giant" example are the 86' auto parts boxes, I've seen one in the last few years. Containers have taken over for a lot of boxcar freight.


ernie



Date: 01/14/22 08:14
Re: Box Cars
Author: dcorreia

Most new boxcars are the extended height Plate C cars. Today boxcars are now owned by leasing firms (GATX or RailBox), other by smaller railroads for pre-diem freight (i.e. AOK).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/22 08:15 by dcorreia.



Date: 01/14/22 08:17
Re: Box Cars
Author: dan

scrap cardboard is a golden commodity for boxcars, some one said no 86' boxcars have been built in awhile, and they are aging out, no one wants to invest in new ones.



Date: 01/14/22 09:48
Re: Box Cars
Author: Cumberland

Box cars tend to be very minimal on CSX's Metropolitan Line, outside of Washington, from my experience, unlike the '90s and before. Typically, I will see stack, coal, auto, or passenger trains, leaving me to feel very lucky to see a mixed-freight. Although I respect the benefits of having DPUs and trains carrying only one type of cargo per-consist, I really miss the way trains used to operate.

Matthew



Date: 01/14/22 18:23
Re: Box Cars
Author: BRAtkinson

Except for unit train shipments, I fail to see any future for box cars. 

At the moment, I can't think of any unit trains of boxcars..

The reason is that the economics simply no long work.  From the railroad side, 'loose' box cars - even if in blocks of 5 or more - require a siding and it's maintenance at both the shipper and consignee end.  They require that a local switcher also be scheduled for pickup, delivery, etc.  Throw in switching/sorting at origin/destination yard and perhaps being (flat) humped enroute.  A cross country move would entail interchange activities somewhere as well.  I'm making up numbers here, but I'd expect a box car from shipper A in California to Consignee B in New York would directly cost the railroad(s) perhaps $2000.  To remain competitive, I'd guess they'd charge the owner of the box car $4000 for the move. 

The boxcar owner expects to make a profit as well.  Considering that said boxcar would make 1 round trip (emptry return?) per month, the owner would have to charge the shipper $6000 'rent' for the box car for the month.  Now spread that $2000/month income against depreciation on the $200,000 box car, maintenance (the RRs make the repairs and charge the owner), corporate overhead, taxes, profit, etc.  Using a 20 year straight-line depreciation schedule, that $200,000 up front investment is $10,000/year that the $2000/month 'income' cannot possibly overcome.  And if the $200,000 was borrowed, throw in interest costs as well

Now look at a container. 

From the railroad perspective, there's no specific sidings, no 'locals', no origin/destination switching, etc.  It's essentially a 'drop and hook' operation from the RR standpoint as a (unit) train load of containers gets picked up at an intermodal ramp and 'dropped off' at another intermodal ramp.  Period.  The 'cost' to the RR is only long-haul locomotive & crew costs, exactly like those for box cars, albeit at a lower cost per ton-mile than a box car.  The railroad-owned/operated intermodal ramp is treated as a separate business/division/company/profit center within the railroad itself.  Ramp operation has specific, essentially fixed costs for every container/trailer it handles on/off a train (eg, 'lift') which includes yard, equipment, staff, depreciation, etc.  That cost per lift plus profit gets charged to each container/trailer owner.  Trucking to/from the intermodal ramp, frequently performed by an outside vendor gets added to the final cost the consignee pays to get each shipment.  I'd speculate that a cross country container costs $2000 to move plus $1000 gross profit to the container owner, from which depreciation, repairs, etc, are taken and far less costly.  Oh, containers likely have the advantage of not needing to be returned to the originating ramp.  They may not even return on the railroad as UPS, Schneider, J B Hunt, etc, may find a load from B to C that is more expeditiously handled over the road.

It all comes down to 'the bottom line'.  Which investment - box cars or containers - provides the best return on investment, aka, 'bang for the buck'?

 
 



Date: 01/14/22 18:34
Re: Box Cars
Author: Cumberland

>At the moment, I can't think of any unit trains of boxcars..

There's the Tropicana Orange Juice train.

Matthew



Date: 01/14/22 19:02
Re: Box Cars
Author: ns cp-182

Cumberland Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> >At the moment, I can't think of any unit trains
> of boxcars..
>
> There's the Tropicana Orange Juice train.
>
> Matthew

China rail prefers modular containers vs boxcars account 90 percent export as a no brainer!

Posted from Android



Date: 01/14/22 19:35
Re: Box Cars
Author: toledopatch

Boxcars may be plentfiul on some routes, but they've all but vanished on many others.

I no longer consider it remarkable when I see a 150-car freight train in Ohio with no boxcars in it. Centerbeam lumber cars have swiped some of the boxcars' work, and rock salt that once was bagged for boxcar shipment now moves mainly in covered hoppers, but mainly the traffic has migrated to containers if it's still on the rails at all. The 86-foot auto-parts cars are still around in a small number of corridors but as noted, they're aging out with no in-kind replacements anticipated, and the auto industry is shifting from far-flung parts plants to assembly campuses so that the body-panel stampings that once kept those cars busy no longer have to be transported signficant distances.

Another major source of boxcar traffic that is simply disappearing: newsprint. I recall the long CN trains through Montreal during my first early-90s visits that seemed to be a majority of homeroad boxcars, and while I didn't know it then, it stands to reason that many of those cars were headed to or from Quebec's many newsprint mills. Even the newspapers that still publish every day aren't as thick as they used to be, and many have gone online only for at least some days of the week, with a corresponding deep decline in demand for newsprint.
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/22 14:18 by toledopatch.



Date: 01/14/22 22:12
Re: Box Cars
Author: Fr8engineer

Cumberland Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> >At the moment, I can't think of any unit trains
> of boxcars..
>
> There's the Tropicana Orange Juice train.
>
> Matthew

There is no Tropicana juice train any more. The juice cars are scattered in cuts these days inside Q300 and Q301.



Date: 01/14/22 22:33
Re: Box Cars
Author: P

Fr8engineer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Cumberland Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > >At the moment, I can't think of any unit
> trains
> > of boxcars..
> >
> > There's the Tropicana Orange Juice train.
> >
> > Matthew
>
> There is no Tropicana juice train any more. The
> juice cars are scattered in cuts these days inside
> Q300 and Q301.

Why is that? The Tropicana cars to Cincinnati have always tagged on other trains just because the volume there didn't justify a unit train, however the NJ facility always warranted a dedicated train. What happened to the volume?

Posted from Android



Date: 01/14/22 23:33
Re: Box Cars
Author: Cumberland

Fr8engineer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Cumberland Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > >At the moment, I can't think of any unit
> trains
> > of boxcars..
> >
> > There's the Tropicana Orange Juice train.
> >
> > Matthew
>
> There is no Tropicana juice train any more. The
> juice cars are scattered in cuts these days inside
> Q300 and Q301.

Very interesting. Good to know.

Matthew



Date: 01/15/22 01:14
Re: Box Cars
Author: ClubCar

I thank you all for your comments; however in watching Virtual Rail Fan here in the east and as I stated, going trackside, there are hundreds of box cars moving every day.  Are you all looking at these trains?  Yes, I realize that containers and truck trailers move most of the products; however I am still seeing many, many box cars moving as well, so we are still a long ways from saying that the box car is history.
John in White Marsh, Maryland



Date: 01/15/22 05:29
Re: Box Cars
Author: altoonafn

I'm not personally aware of anyone manufacturers making new boxcars in large numbers these days.

There are quite a few outfits refurbishing old cars, however. 



Date: 01/15/22 07:59
Re: Box Cars
Author: CFI_85

altoonafn Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm not personally aware of anyone manufacturers
> making new boxcars in large numbers these days.
>
> There are quite a few outfits refurbishing old
> cars, however. 

Greenbrier, Trinity and FreightCar America are all building new boxcars. 60ft hi-cube Plate F boxcars are the standard model these days.



Date: 01/15/22 11:55
Re: Box Cars
Author: ERAD

Railroads don't care about car type, only destination. Hopefully the same as the rest.



Date: 01/15/22 13:09
Re: Box Cars
Author: ns cp-182

Box car traffic in europe is declinig as well major carriers.

Uk db cargo down
Db cargo down (germany)
Rzd cargo way down (russia)

Do not believe it watch dedicated wayside videos on youtube.

Major auto plants with hi cube boxes are non exsist shutting down political and labor cost remote parts plants doing sheet metal pressing.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/15/22 21:06
Re: Box Cars
Author: Badorder

Then why the hell are they still building 50/60ft. High çube railbox cars on a daily basis. Somebody still need/use boxcars.   Those cars are everywhere on the left coast. U P even run a south/north rail box  unit repo train out here in california, sometimes weekly .

Proud Foamer
OAKLEY, CA



Date: 01/15/22 22:57
Re: Box Cars
Author: ns cp-182

Glad to keep the fomars juices going at at all cost😂

Posted from Android



Date: 01/16/22 00:05
Re: Box Cars
Author: Sp1110

Do any railroads still operate wooden boxcars?



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