Answered by James Schuster, Senior Engineer

Q. Our railroad has approached us about receiving 90-car unit trains at our plant. What are the first couple of things I should be looking at if we are to start receiving unit trains?

A. More and more often, the railroads have been encouraging their customers to receive products in larger lots and unload them quickly. As a result, the railroads have established grain "unit train" rates which typically require the receipt of 65-, 75-, or 90-car trains that must be turned around in 24 hours or less.

Thus the first requirement to be confronted is the ability to receive a total of 65, 75, or 90 cars. Typically the facility must have a series of ladder tracks or a loop track that can accommodate strings of cars totaling 65, 75, or 90 cars, each with a length of 60 feet or more. The delivering railroad should be consulted as to the design car length. While some cars may be shorter, the railroads are replacing older short cars with longer ones. Additional storage track is required for non-unit train cars such as liquid and softstock...Read More>>>