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Showing content with the highest reputation on 07/10/2006 in all sections

  1. America was hungry for fresh food, and the country’s demand for fresh meats, fruits and vegetables was growing by leaps and bounds. In response, the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads formed The Pacific Fruit Express Company in 1906. Ice is king – but not for long Sometimes as big as a barn, large refrigeration units were developed for commercial use, primarily for breweries, in the 1870s. By 1891, nearly every brewery was equipped with refrigerating machines. Refrigeration units small enough for use in transportation, though, would not be designed until the late 1940s. In the 1950s, railroads continued to be the transportation mode of choice for fresh fruits and vegetables. But by the ‘60s, aging refrigerated boxcar fleets combined with the completion of the Interstate highway system prompted agricultural producers to shift their time-sensitive shipments to truck. By the mid-1970s, more and more perishable food was moving by truck. In 1978, Pacific Fruit Express was dissolved and the two companies formed their own perishable transport subsidiaries, Southern Pacific Fruit Express and Union Pacific Fruit Express. In the mid-1990s, as a result of rising fuel costs, the railroads began seeing a resurgence in perishable food transportation. Once again, rail had become an attractive mode of transportation for perishable food items. And with the revival came a redesign of rail cars to handle larger loads and refrigerated units that became more energy efficient. Union Pacific worked with eastern railroads to offer customers "seamless" service between the West and East coasts. At the same time, UP began to expand and refurbish its refrigerated boxcar fleet. New breed of refrigerated boxcar Since 2003, Union Pacific has purchased 1,500 64-foot cars and will complete an extensive upgrade of more than 2,600 of its 50-foot cars by the end of 2006. Union Pacific handles more than 48,000 shipments of refrigerated and frozen products each year and is the country's largest owner of refrigerated rail cars with more than 5,500 refrigerated cars in the current fleet. The new boxcars can hold up to 40 percent more product than a conventional refrigerated rail car. A 64-foot rail car carries as much as four over-the-road trailers. The refrigeration units used in both new and refurbished cars are state-of-the-art and energy efficient. They use the latest technology, such as global positioning satellite (GPS) monitoring, not only to track rail cars’ trip progress but also to check temperature, fresh-air exchange and diagnostics. Fresh-air exchange is an important feature for commodities such as onions that require fresh-air circulation. Temperature variance with the new units is as little as plus/minus two degrees. Refrigerated boxcars also are used to ship frozen commodities, such as french fries, meat, poultry and dairy products. The rail service that forever changed diets across the United States has evolved over the years to efficiently transport fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat cross country. Union Pacific has that perfect network to run a refrigerated rail car fleet carrying fresh and frozen products from the growing areas of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest to points east, returning with meat and poultry products for export through West Coast ports.
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