Re: URTX and MILW, M&StL, SOO, CGW leased reefers: A Pool Arrangement?


      To build on what Ted stated, I had presented both at Chicagoland and Cocoa on national reefer movements with info taken from 1956 and 1957 AAR monthly reports. These are the only reports in a series I have found to date, and I model as I have stated prior Sept/Oct 1953, so these are applicable to only some degree.


Quotes taken directly from AAR monthly reports (again found only for 1956-1957)

January 1956 First week of January was heavy for potatoes this season with 4000 loads shipped. No surplus of reefers noted in any loading districts.  Most in protected service.

Feb 20, 1956 “Northern-Belt states (1) heavy and strong use of reefers in protected service continues.”

March 20, 1956 “Northern belt states use of reefers remains strong and because of that, there are car shortages and delayed car placement being reported in the southwest.”

April 20, 1956 “No surplus of cars however all demands are being met.” 1,216 or 5.2% of national fleet out for repair

May 21, 1956 “The heaviest demands for refrigerator cars normally shifts from the Northern-Belt States to the Southeastern, Gulf, and Southwestern states during April and May.”

June 20, 1956 “There has been practically no letup in the demand for refrigerator cars since the first week in January.  Market demand for potatoes became strong during movements of the old potato crops from Maine and Idaho, and continues strong for new potatoes loading from California and Arizona.” (2)

July 20, 1956 Use of refrigerator cars was moderately heavy during June averaging 31,688 cars loaded each week and while heavy, it was below the weekly average of 32,046 car loads for Jan 1 to June 30. Included in the reports were 53,786 carloads of Bananas originating at US ports in the 1st half of this year.

August 21, 1956 Local home-grown produce is reducing the need for shipping from distant areas.  Middle-West, Allegheny, and North Atlantic states have excellent growing conditions and local supplies are plentiful. Normal summer low loading began in July”…. (And this was interesting, as I mentioned in the presentation, if you are modeling late July/August, perhaps some reefers should be sidelined, unless they are in protected service, protecting their commodity against high heat.)

Sept 20, 1956, Heaviest car loading period of the year - except for reefers.

October 25, 1956 Idaho loading of potatoes, apples, and onions greater than 1200 carloads per week, Red River Valley (MN/ND border) potatoes are at 1000 carloads a week and will be steady at that rate for some time. Most of Maine potatoes are being stored, some movement in Sept., however takes off in December lasting to April.

December 20, 1956 Potato loading greater than 1500 per week in Maine, peaked at 1200 per week in Idaho and the Red River Valley. Northern states put demands on protected service and perishables other than fresh fruit and vegetables.

February 20, 1957 Frozen food loading, including fruits and berries, vegetables, dressed poultry, etc. amounted to 25,116 carloads the first three quarters of 1956, an increase of 8.2% over same time of 1955.  A 13.4% increase is forecast for 1957. Since middle of January, loading requirements show increasing need in fresh fruit and vegetable shipping areas. Florida, Red River Valley, Maine, California, and Idaho needs will rise for the next eight weeks.

March 20, 1957, Protected service demands continue with moderately heavy carloading estimated for Florida and Arizona during late March. Loading in Florida est. to be 3,500/week by April. California and Arizona will rise to 3,900.  Stored potatoes estimated to move from Maine, Idaho, and Red River valley in March and April, same time FL, TX, and AZ will see heaviest loading.

    Therefore, all refrigerators will be in service at that time. (No reefers out for servicing)

*Northern Belt states defined as states north of Mason-Dixie Line.

    Other reefer uses were use of reefers Ted listed.  Magazines, plants, flowers, cigarettes, and even tires, and matches used reefers for shipment. Freight forwarders took advantage of the return empty rates on refrigerators and used these cars. Freight moved in refrigerator cars via protected service fall to spring in the northern US and Canada and must filtered south. 

I thought I had uploaded a list of commodities that use protected service (for protection against both heat and cold) however found it empty and so reloaded it. Here:

Such a list also exists in the PFE book.

My conclusion stated at the end of the presentation were: There are many, many possibilities to use refrigerator cars beyond use only in perishable commodity use. Doing such limits your realistic application of your rolling stock


(1) Northern Belt states defined as north of the Mason-Dixie line.

(2) Of potatoes, and their seemingly year round movement. From research there seems to be early,(also called new), mid and late season potatoes. Early and new like the Kern Valley, CA potatoes seem to be shipped directly to market with mid-season stored somewhat and late season OK to be stored for many months, then shipped. If we have a horticulturalist or potato grower on this list, I would be happy to hear more, and if it could be stated with respect to this list’s time frame, all the better.  

Reason for the interest in potatoes is that this seems to be the one perishable commodity that moves year round. Most of us on this list have eaten potatoes several times this week already and so I would petition that it makes that the one possible most likely reefer load we all could use on our railroad.

                                                                                                              Jim Dick – St. Paul

To those that would ask about us that present if we could upload our PowerPoint presentations, I would be happy to except like most presenters, have copyrighted images use granted for educational display at said conventions only - in our presentations. I do and to cut those out I feel leaves jumps in the rhythm of the presentation.     

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