McKay TransCold, Edina, Minn., launched TransCold Express, a hub-to-hub refrigerated boxcar service operated that runs bi-directionally between Wilmington, Ill., McKay TransCold boxcarand Selma, Calif. Dubbed to be the first refrigerated boxcar unit train connecting the Midwest and West Coast in over half a century, TransCold Express presents produce growers and meat and dairy producers the opportunity to distribute products more cost-effectively to all U.S. destinations.

TransCold Express will operate on BNSF Railway with cargo being transferred from truck to boxcar through a new refrigerated building operated by National Logistics and Cold Storage (NLCS). The TransCold Express hub in the RidgePort Logistics Center is a 1,500-acre industrial park 40 miles southwest of Chicago. RidgePort Logistics Center is being developed by Ridge Development, the industrial arm of Transwestern Development Co.

"McKay TransCold is dedicated to finding the most efficient and cost-effective transportation methods for its clients," says Randy McKay, chief executive officer of McKay TransCold. "Because TransCold Express connects to transportation hubs on both ends, this service is not point A to point B; it's from point A to anywhere."

TransCold Express will haul products such as vegetables, fruit, cheese and butter from California to the Midwest and carry meat, eggs, cheese, butter, finished goods and dairy creamers westbound. The service takes four days to reach the Midwest from California—the same speed as by truck, but at a significantly lower cost. Depending on the circumstances, a shipper could save between 5-15% by using the boxcar service vs. trucking. TransCold Express is also a more environmentally friendly method of transport, as one boxcar holds the same volume as four trucks, making it four times more fuel efficient.

"BNSF Railway is excited to provide rail service for McKay TransCold's new dedicated refrigerated boxcar unit train between the Chicago area and the Central Valley of California as a supply chain solution to shippers who will benefit by moving fresh and frozen products by rail," says Dave Garin, group vice president, industrial products for BNSF Railway, Fort Worth, Texas. "The advantages to this new opportunity are important, and we look forward to offering an attractive alternative for the market."

Developed by Ridge Development, Chicago, the 49,000-square-foot refrigerated facility is approximately 700 feet long, allowing for eight boxcars to be unloaded at once, and only 70 feet wide, providing a minimal transfer distance between the two modes of transportation.

"With fresh product coming in on TransCold Express, RidgePort is an ideal location for food processors, baking companies and other food industry firms," says Jim Martell, president of Ridge Development. "The park has a total of 1,500 acres, so there is plenty of room for additional development." RidgePort is located three miles south of the Interstate 55 Arsenal Road exit that leads to the BNSF Logistics Park-Chicago in Elwood, Ill.

RidgePort is flanked by more than two miles of BNSF mainline frontage to the west and Interstate 55 to the east. The park would serve as the western terminus of the proposed Illiana Expressway, a toll road that would connect I-55 and I-65 in northern Illinois and Indiana.


Photo courtesy of McKay TransCold, BNSF Railway and Ridge Development.