More Than 100 Years of Innovative Auto Transport by Rail


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Over the last 100 years, progressive and environmentally friendly innovations by railroads have created a new level of efficient, damage-free auto transport by rail. Inventive rail car designs have increased load capacity, speed and safety, as well as introducing better fuel economy and greener technology.

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More Than 100 Years of Innovative Auto Transport by Rail

  1. 1. More Than 100 Years of Innovative Auto Transport by Rail <br />March 3, 2011<br />
  2. 2. More Than 100 Years<br />Over the last 100 years, progressive and environmentally friendly innovations by railroads have created a new level of efficient, damage-free auto transport by rail. Inventive rail car designs have increased load capacity, speed and safety, as well as introducing better fuel economy and greener technology.<br />
  3. 3. Autoracks to Autoflex<br />The rapid multiplication of cars, trucks and buses combined with subsequent highway construction, had a tremendous impact on the railroad industry. In 1944, trains carried over 910 million passengers.<br />By the mid-1960s, that total dropped to less than 300 million.<br />As America’s love affair with the automobile continued to grow, the auto industry’s dependence on the railroad’s ability to provide quick, efficient and damage-free auto transport also increased.<br />The railroad’s capacity to ship cars and trucks by train became more important to both industries’ long-term success.<br />
  4. 4. Autoracks Emerge<br />The rail industry began using flat cars for auto transport in the early 1900s.<br />Even with more efficient loading techniques which allowed up to six new automobiles to fit onto a flat car, there was still a large amount of unused space above the vehicles.<br />In the 1950s, Volkswagen engineers worked with German railroads to design the first autoracks.<br />The first autorack rail cars were essentially extra-long versions of a bi-level (double deck) transport trailer, capable of carrying 10 vehicles on one rail car.<br />
  5. 5. Autotracks Emerge Cont.<br />In 1957, Canadian National Railroad (CN) introduced bi-level autorack cars with end doors. The rail cars could carry as many as eight vehicles, and were 80 feet long - the maximum length to maintain safety on railroad curves. During the 1960s, autoracks were also built in tri-level configurations, so railroads could efficiently haul more of the smaller compact and sub-compact vehicles of the era.<br />
  6. 6. TTX Company<br />Even though autoracks became the standard for transporting new vehicles, the rail cars were an expensive auto transport investment. Under a unique arrangement, the Trailer Train Company (TTX Company), an innovative rail car pool operator owned by North America’s leading railroads, purchased the flat cars from rail manufacturers, and the railroad operating companies purchased their own autoracks which were cleverly installed on the flat cars.<br />The auto rail cars can still be easily identified today by the flatcar portion with the TTX Company logo and the upper portion carrying the railroad’s logo.<br />
  7. 7. TTX Company Cont. <br />In the 1970s, railroads continued to refine the autorack cars.<br />Perforated exterior side panels, roofs and end doors were added to help protect new vehicles from weather and debris.<br />The emergence of enclosed or semi-enclosed tri-level autoracks proved to significantly lower auto transport cost and also ensured delivery of vehicles in factory-new condition.<br />
  8. 8. Chevy Vega Vert-A-Pac<br />One of the most unusual rail transport innovations was the Vert-A-Pac rail car, which transported Chevrolet’s subcompact, four-passenger Vega import-fighter nose-down inside specially-designed boxcars. Vert-A-Pacs held 30 Vegas, versus 18 held in a normal tri-level autorack. The rail car doors were opened and closed via forklift.<br />Chevrolet engineers also introduced some special consideration to allow the Vega to be transported nose-down. They included a special engine oil baffle, unique battery caps and windshield washer bottle that stood at a 45 degree angle. First introduced Sept. 10, 1970, almost 2 million Chevy Vegas were sold through the 1977 model year. With subsequent innovations in auto transport logistics and speed to market needs, this method of transporting cars was soon abandoned.<br />
  9. 9. Auto-Max<br />An important innovation in the evolution of auto transport by rail was the Auto-Max railcar, developed by Honda and Greenbrier Companies.<br />These articulated railcars share a single middle chassis and provide twice the length of a conventional autorack.<br />The articulated connection enables faster speed and reduced vibration.<br />Auto-Max rail cars can be up to 145 feet long, 20 feet tall, and feature adjustable interior decks to carry up to 22 light trucks or mini vans.<br />Honda currently transports more than 80 percent of its Honda and Acura cars by rail, more than any other automaker.<br />
  10. 10. Autoflex<br />The most significant innovation, however, was the recent introduction of the AutoFlex™, developed by Union Pacific (UP), one of North America’s largest auto transport providers.<br />The convertible 90-foot-long, multilevel autoracks can be adjusted for two and three levels using the same rack structure.<br />Before the invention of the AutoFlex, auto manufacturers had to spend time and money to exchange entire rail car fleets depending on the size of vehicles being shipped, e.g. tri-levels for compact cars, or bi-levels for trucks.<br />
  11. 11. Autoflex Cont.<br />The AutoFlex is constructed of a tough, lightweight resin-composite material, and designed with improved tie-down chock systems, special door edge protection, and shock-absorbing suspension to maintain vehicle quality and safety while in transit.<br />Today, Union Pacific’s 18,000 multilevel auto rail car fleet is the largest in the industry. Union Pacific directly serves vehicle assembly plants in the Western U.S., carries imported vehicles from West Coast and Gulf Coast ports, and operates vehicle distribution centers for all major automotive manufacturers.<br />
  12. 12. Auto Transport by Rail Is Dependable<br />Over the last five years, almost 75 million import and domestic cars and trucks were sold in the United States. More than 70 percent of new vehicles were transported from the manufacturing or assembly plants to dealerships across the country by rail.<br />That’s almost 53 million factory-new vehicles safely and economically transported.<br />With the increase in online auto auction trading, used car dealers and auto remarketers are using rail transport to affordably move vehicles longer distances.<br />
  13. 13. Four Times More Fuel Efficient<br />As in the early years of the automotive industry, auto transport by train still continues to be far more efficient than truck transport.<br />According to the Federal Railroad Administration, depending on the commodity carried and the length of the haul, railroads are up to four times more fuel efficient than trucks. In 2009, trains moved one ton of freight an average of 480 miles on a single gallon of fuel.<br />That’s an increase of 104 percent or 245 miles more on a single gallon of fuel since 1980. In fact, if just 10 percent of the long distance freight now moved by truck was moved by rail instead, fuel savings would exceed one billion gallons per year.<br />Railroads helped build this country more than 100 years ago. Today, they provide progressive, innovative and environmentally friendly freight transportation solutions. Shipping freight by train supports the economy, particularly as railroads continue to invest millions in infrastructure. They are logistics experts supporting transport needs for businesses everywhere.<br />
  14. 14. About<br />We are a Union Pacific Company <br />Trusted name & leader in transportation<br />Delivering over 6 million cars annually<br />We deliver autos nationwide<br />Speedy truck delivery<br />Economical and green rail options<br />We make it easy to ship cars!<br />Easy-to-use, no hassle, online<br />One call, we do it all 1-866-207-3360<br />Read entire glossary at<br />