Ford modifies train rail cars for new Transit vans

Ford modifies train rail cars for new Transit vans

High roofs of new vans didn't fit into old rail cars, trucking vehicles too expensive.

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June 24, 2014

Dearborn, Michigan – Ford Motor Co. had to work with railroad companies to change shipping standards for its new Transit cargo vans and wagons.

The high-roof Transit measures 110.1 inches tall, too tall to fit in the common two-story railcars used by auto manufacturers. So Ford engineers worked with railroads and railcar manufacturers to design an innovative railcar that accommodates all the roof-height variations of the new Transit.

“Use of these modified railcars helps us to efficiently ship these large vehicles from our assembly plant, deliver them to our dealers and get them into the hands of our customers faster and more cost effectively,” says Chris Lemmink, Ford vehicle logistics manager.

The company evaluated using trucks only, but determined that it could deliver Transit vehicles more efficiently and for less cost by designing modified railcars and incorporating them into the shipping network.

Ford plans to transport Transit vehicles by truck to its dealers within a 500-mile radius of the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, where Transit is produced. Shipments traveling longer than 500 miles will be transported by rail.

Ford worked with leading rail companies to modify Transit railcars by elevating its inner deck, enabling as many as seven medium- and high-roof Transit vehicles to be loaded on the lower deck and as many as seven smaller vehicles, such the Ford Fusion, on the shorter top deck, depending on the vehicle’s length. The overall height of the railcar remains the same as traditional railcars, so as not to interfere with overpasses and tunnels.

In the United States, Transit eventually will replace America’s best-selling van for 35 years, E-Series, which was first sold in 1961 as Ford Econoline. E-Series vans and wagons still will be available and sold side by side with Transit into this calendar year. Additionally, E-Series cutaway and stripped chassis will continue to be built in Avon Lake, Ohio, through most of the rest of the decade.

Source: Ford Motor Co.