Re: RR's with Refrigerator Car & Protective Service Contracts with the FGE/WFE/BRE System

Bill Welch

To underscore Greg's very cogent comment, among the correspondence I have from the USRA to the various Railroad men involved in the deliberations over whether to purchase the assets of the Armour owned Fruit Growers Express there was one letter in which the writer, a railroad man himself, cautioned the executives against being seduced by the possible revenue from back-haulage the new FGE could generate because it would ultimately undermine their business of transporting produce.

It was hard enough corralling their cars without them meandering around loaded with whatever.

Bill Welch

--- In STMFC@..., tgregmrtn@... wrote:

Let me see if I can explain this correctly...

To reinforce this every specialty car built and in service has/had a level of revenue built into the tariff to cover the empty reverse routing. A car need not have a revenue haul for the return trip and this is why these cars, and refrigerator cars in particular, were guarded so closely. This is not to say that the "Company" (in reference to FGE/BREX.WFEX) weren't reloaded but why take the chance of leaving a load in a warehouse i.e. packing house (like Berries) without a car. As I was once reminded, "what good is a rate without a car?" I have always been reminded, and it is as true today as it was then, that all perishables demand the highest rates because of their demand on the their most timely service and the demands they create on operations.

Let me give you an example of car agreements that I shared with Bill and was explained to me from a UP rep that cut his teeth (and recently retired) in the Tri-Cities area working out of the Hermiston, OR area. He used the example of a produce warehouse wanting to bring Navel Oranges from Escondido, CA to his online warehouse in the Twin Cities at a closed GN facility. First and foremost he would have to go to marketing to work out the rates and arrive at equitable "divisions" with the Santa Fe and the WP Folks who would in turn not want their cars in this service as they would loose control of the empty... . As a marketing representative working for the GN he would have to go to the car management group and request WFEX (i.e. Company cars) cars to be routed into the the Santa Fe either as empties in the LA Basin or hauled in empty (which he said was the kiss of death for a program). Then the cars were moved to the Santa Fe/Sunkist packing house to be loaded. The car would be routed through the "Inland Passage" Santa FE to Stockton to the WP to K-Falls to the GN. If all worked well then the service would continue but if not the program would "expire" almost immediately. Provided that cars were applied empty from the Santa Fe in the LA Basin timely and then moved effortlessly to destination it would look good on his revenue report and he was a hero otherwise... 3^) Timely and effortlessly was the clue. He told me if there was a harvest that required the empties to be pulled an reverse home road then the program was a dud... He had similar examples working for the UP and with PFE with Apples as well as other fruit from Eastern Washington.

Greg Martin

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Hendrickson <rhendrickson@...>
Sent: Wed, Aug 17, 2011 11:10 am
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: RR's with Refrigerator Car & Protective Service Contracts with the FGE/WFE/BRE System

On Aug 17, 2011, at 10:11 AM, Anthony Thompson wrote:

Al Kresse wrote:
It seems to me that just on the C&O Rwy you had beef, pork and beer
heading southeast and veggies/fruits heading northwest (over
simplified). Could they ship fruit or veggies in empty meat packers
reefers. Gene Huddleston mentioned seeing empty, uncleaned, smelly
water melon ventilator boxes coming back south through Russell.
Somebody was spending a lot of money shipping empty cars around.
Was there a major effort to utilize these cars going "back home"?
Anyone in the business I talked to said that produce and meat
reefers were NOT, repeat NOT, interchangeable, for a host of reasons
including cross-contamination. Empties homeward become vital when
growers need cars to ship the crops, whether or not cargoes might be
available for the reverse movement.
What Tony says was equally true with regard to SFRD cars. Produce from the midwest and southwest was occasionally shipped westward in SFRD reefers, but such backhauls were very much the exception rather than the rule. At the height of the shipping seasons, all of the refrigerator car operators wanted their cars back pronto, and having them routed and loaded for backhaul cargoes delayed their return for several days at a minimum. With the exception of a very few cars that were in assigned service in the '50s, the Santa Fe owned no meat reefers, and meat was NEVER loaded in other SFRD cars. As for
the meat reefers owned or leased by the various packing houses (Swift, Armour, Cudahy, etc.), those almost always went back empty, as their meat rails, floor racks, etc. rendered them unusable for produce shipments, aside from the cross-contamination issue. Despite the frequent undocumented speculation on this list regarding traffic patterns, the use of refrigerator cars and similar specialized cars for the cargos they were designed and equipped to carry was vastly more important to their owners than the cost of having them returned empty.

Richard Hendrickson


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