The ICC car routing rules in effect prior to the introduction of the RailBox fleet meant that cars owned by each railroad had to return to their home road as soon as possible and via the shortest route. When this did not, or could not happen, the hosting railroad had to pay demurrage (car storage and handling) charges to the car’s home road. The ICC rules often caused a shortage of available boxcars. This was not because there were not enough Boxcars available, but because they could not be loaded and moved when and where needed. The ICC rules saw empty cars routed and moving to their home railroads and not being loaded and back hauled to other destinations and thereby making the railroads income.
The RailBox Company (reporting marks ABOX, RBOX, TBOX, and FBOX) founded in 1974 worked on the concept of “Next Load, Any Road.” Many of the larger railroads jointly owned RailBox as a privately owned cooperative. As such boxcars owned by the cooperative were not subject to the ICC load/empty rules. RailBox cars could be assigned for service on any railroad in Canada, Mexico, and the United States on lines where an AAR Plate-B loading gauge boxcar was permitted.
RailBox ordered boxcars from many Manufacturers, including American Car and Foundry (ACF), Food Machinery & Chemicals (FMC), and Pullman-Standard (P-S). RailBox boxcars were painted yellow with black doors. They had a bold graphic side logo, a stylized X made of red and blue intertwined arrows, that symbolised free flow. In the 1970s many railroads had fleets of aging rail cars. With the poor financial state of many railroads these cars were dirty and grimy. Railbox cars stood out with their bright yellow paint and large logos.
The company’s car reporting marks, as noted above, ended in the letter “X”. Under FRA designation reporting marks ending in “X” are assigned to private owner cars. The rise of intermodal containerised freight (which began in the late 1980s and early 1990s) has reduced the demand for full carload boxcar service. Deregulation and the recession of the 1980s lessened the impact of the legacy car routing rules, until abolished with the elimination of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1995.
RailBox (and the similar Railgon Company) are now subsidiaries of TTX Company. The first 600 Railbox cars built were the AAR plate B XAF10 class. Built by ACF, as Lot 11-06829, between October 1974 and February 1975 they have an AAR Type of B314 with the mechanical designation of XM. This series of XM boxcars have the following dimensions:
|Interior Length||50 Ft 6 In|
|Exterior Length||55 Ft 7 In|
|Capacity||5090 Cu Ft|
|Load Limit||158800 Lbs|
|Light. Weight||61200 Lbs|
|Gross. Weight||220000 Lbs|
The XAF10 class all carried RBOX reporting marks and were numbered from 10001 to 10599.
In 1983, a weak economy forced the withdrawal and redistribution of around one-quarter of the cars to the railroads which made up the Railbox cooperative. Railbox started purchasing new cars again 20 years later in 2003. The XAF10 class cars were among the first to be purged from the RailBox fleet. Often they were patched and then often much later repainted into the home roads paint scheme. All except one; RBOX 10323. This car survived the purge and according to Eric Neubauer, he believes that this car was renumbered in 1977 to RBOX 9999. RBOX 9999 was still listed in Umler in 2009 and may have been repainted into the then new (I believe the small arrow) RBOX scheme.
Notes in the text
- Data gathered from: http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/13/t/32001.aspx
- You can read more about the US freight loading gauge here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loading_gauge#Freight
- You can find out more about Eric at his website: http://www.ericsrailroadcarhistory.com/
- You can view a photo of RBOX 9999 at RailcarPhotos.com