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Feb. 2014

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FEBRUARY 2014 COOL CARGOES 18 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE By Stephanie Nall A new crop of refrigerated rail services gives shippers more options N EW AND EXPANDING refriger- ated rail services are delivering new options for smaller food shippers who soon could be left out in the cold by west- ern railroads as thousands of 50-year-old mechanical boxcars are retired in the com- ing years. "Over the next decade or so, there is a real wall coming up in boxcar availabil- ity and capacity with the railroads," said Herman Haksteen, CEO of Cryo-Trans, the largest reefer boxcar-leasing company in the U.S. Smaller shippers that use one or two cars a week are starting to feel the pinch. "The railroads are trying to push the little guy into intermodal," Haksteen said. Because of car capacity, effi ciencies and rate differential, using boxcars over intermodal saves about 15 percent, so those lower-volume shippers "are going to start feeling the pain," he said, noting that the ConAgras of the world prob- ably won't feel the difference, at least for a few years. Although the low-volume shippers now using traditional boxcar manifest service may pay more, they have a number of new intermodal rail and boxcar ser vices to choose from. Railex, which started the new genera- tion of reefer services in 2006 with boxcar unit train service between Wallula, Wash., and Rotterdam, N.Y., is set to expand again in June, adding regular unit train service between Wallula and Jacksonville, Fla., and Delano, Calif., and Jacksonville. ColdTrain, which introduced domestic reefer containers for intermodal use in 2010 from Quincy, Wash., to Chicago, last fall added service between Portland, Ore., and Chicago and to 17 intermodal points in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Tiger Cool Express this month began reefer intermodal service between the Los Angeles basin and the Northeast. Unlike Railex and ColdTrain, Tiger Cool won't oper- ate between fixed points, but will "chase" harvests and peak import and export demand with fl exible routing and capacity, according to CEO Thomas L. Finkbiner. "We're using the entire expedited network and have contracts with all the carriers operating expedited intermodal networks," he said. Using expedited holds keeps the cars and routing fl exible while holding them to a schedule and set delivery times to main- tain timeliness of service for perishables, Finkbiner said. Another unit train boxcar reefer service is scheduled to begin service in May, when McKay TransCold will offer one train weekly in each direction between Selma, Calif., and Wilmington, Ill., using service and cars from BNSF Railway. Another group, Green Express, plans to begin operations by the end of the year with a refrigerated and dry expedited service between Tampa and Kingsbury, Ind. TRAIN GANG

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