National features of US freight cars

The US railway rolling stock market is the largest in the world. Almost 1.5 million freight cars are operated here. At the same time, the country has unique samples of rolling stock that cannot be found on other continents.

Traditionally, the car-building industry is developed in the USA. Manufacturers such as Trinity Rail Group, The Greenbrier Co, American Railcar, FreightCar America are the world’s largest railcar manufacturers. Historically, many innovations in US railways have had a huge impact on the development of rail transport in other countries.

Double-stack rail platforms / Wagon for transporting coal with an aluminum body
Double-stack rail platforms / Wagon for transporting coal with an aluminum body

It should be noted that the design of the bogie for freight cars in the post-Soviet space, and in Ukraine, in particular, is also of American origin. It is far from European models.

Flat cars are now among the most popular on American railways. The peculiarity lies in the fact that most of them are designed for transporting containers in two tiers. This is possible due to the lack of electrification of most lines in the United States.

For example, Maxi-Stack (Greenbrier) platforms are designed to transport containers from 20 to 53 feet (1 foot = 0.305 m) in the lower tier and 40-57 feet in the upper position. In fact, they are three platforms connected by common trolleys on articulated supports. The lifting capacity of each element is more than 53 tons.

Other platforms, the Husky-Stack, feature increased capacity (23 m long) and lifting capacity (over 100 t).

The cars for cars Auto-Max are unique, which allow transporting cars in three tiers. At the same time, they are completely closed and equipped with a door.

Similar analogs are produced by Trinity Rail. Half a century ago, it entered the tanker business and today holds a leading position in this segment. The company offers tanks with a capacity of 14.2 to 34.3 thousand gallons (up to 126 m3). Carrying capacity – up to 129 tons. These wagons are designed to transport oil, liquefied gas, chemicals, and food. An interesting technical solution is heating and thermal insulation of tanks for transporting vegetable oil.

Tanks / Coal wagon
Tanks / Coal wagon

Gondola cars and hoppers are not as dominant on American railways as they are in Ukraine. A special feature is the manufacture of these cars not only from steel, but also from aluminum, or a combination of these materials. For example, gondola cars with an aluminum body, among others, are offered by FreigthCar America.

Innovations also concern unloading systems. In 2019, the Tsunami Gate (sliding hatch) grain carrier was introduced to the North American market. It allows you to unload a 146 m3 bunker in 30 seconds. The speed of the process can be adjusted depending on the need.

The wagons for operation in North America are mainly four-axle. Although for the European market, American manufacturers offer two-axle covered wagons and 10-axle platforms for transporting trucks.

Platform with sides / Platform for transportation of containers weighing more than 100 tons
Platform with sides / Platform for transportation of containers weighing more than 100 tons

As a rule, US railcar building companies not only produce rolling stock, but also provide services for its maintenance and repair, and also lease it. It is manufacturers, as well as leasing and financial institutions in the country that own most of the rolling stock. There are more than 125 thousand units in the Trinity Rail fleet alone. Another manufacturer, Greenbrier, provides management and maintenance services for nearly 400,000 railcars.

The production volumes are also significant. All engineering enterprises produced in 2006-2016. More than 512 thousand new cars. At the end of financial 2020, only one Greenbrier produced 21.7 thousand units of rolling stock, which is the second result in the history of the company. The total portfolio of its orders is currently estimated at $ 2.4 billion.

Railway magazine “Railway Supply”


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