Railcars are a great solution for shipping to and from Houston, which is why Rail Car Deals offers a wide selection of railcars for transportation of commodities throughout the U.S. Railcars can ship a wide variety of commodities including, salt, coals, scrap steel, raw materials, petroleum products, food, crude oil, and more without the restraints of road conditions and weather. RailCarDeals.com can help you find the right rail car to match your industry requirements. Our services cost you nothing and it only takes a few minutes to understand your shipping needs.

America wouldn’t be the country it is without railcars. In the nineteenth century, the development of the transcontinental railroad allowed for efficient westward expansion, making trains an integral part of our history. As engineers designed and built trains for a wide variety of cargo, railcars diversified. Today, many train enthusiasts are still fascinated by these useful inventions. However, not everyone knows the wide variety of railcars available. We’re here today to teach you about 11 of the most common types of railcars.

Houston Rail Car Deals Many Types of Rail Cars:

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Industrial Boxcars

Boxcars carry a wide variety of freight. They are fully enclosed. Doors can be on the side, ends, or top. Because they are enclosed, boxcars protect the freight inside from the weather during transport. These rectangular boxes carry a wide variety of freight, usually crated or palletized goods. They are fully enclosed by four walls and a ceiling, allowing them to protect cargo from detrimental weather throughout transport. Most boxcars have side doors of various sizes, which slide open for loading and unloading. Double-door boxcars are a common variant, which contain two sliding doors on each side instead of one. Historically, hobos have used boxcars for personal transportation because their enclosed nature allows travel without detection.

Refrigerated Boxcar

Refrigerated Boxcars are for perishable freight because they are temperature controlled. Fresh produce, frozen foods, meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products are usually transported in refrigerated boxcars. A common variant of the boxcar is the refrigerated boxcar, which utilizes its enclosure to maintain temperature control for goods. These also differ from insulated or ventilated boxcars in that they are not only temperature controlled, but they are fitted with their own apparatuses for cooling.

Center beams

Similar to flat cars, center beams are railcars meant to carry building equipment and supplies in bundles. They are flat-bottomed, and a longitudinal I-beam runs down the center. The center beam gets its name because it has a “center beam” or partition that reinforces the center of gravity and allows products to be secured in place. This beam not only adds strength to the car, but it helps protect cargo from damage during transport. Center Beams must have equal weights of cargo on either side in order to prevent tipping over. Center beams carry bundled goods like lumber, wallboard, fence posts, and other building supplies.

Cargo Hopper cars

Hopper cars are large freight cars which are used for transporting loose bulk cargo, often grain, coal, rock, or ore. Hopper cars can be either open-topped or covered, depending on what is being transported. Covered hopper cars protect sensitive cargo like sugar or grain that is at risk of being ruined by weather. Hopper cars are often confused with gondolas, but there is a key difference. Hopper cars have doors on the sides or bottom that are used for efficient unloading of cargo. Gondolas are typically loaded and unloaded via their open tops.

Covered Hoppers With Roof

Covered Hoppers are great for free-flowing dry bulk commodities like cement, roofing granules, sand, corn, wheat, barley, fertilizer, soda ash, sugar, and rice. Hoppers feature an open-top into which product can be loaded and a sloped floor that allows products to be unloaded through doors at the bottom using gravity. The top is then covered to protect the contents inside.

Open-Top Hoppers Without A Roof

Open-top hoppers are similar to a covered hopper with the difference being open-top hoppers do not have covers, so are better suited to freight that can be exposed to the elements.

Tank Car Compressed ( For Freight )

Tank car compressed, or liquid commodities, like chemicals, molasses, edible tallow, water, and diesel fuel. The body of a tank car is literally a tank designed to hold liquids. Tank cars are more cylindrical than other rail cars: Imagine a barrel tilted on its side, elongated and expanded to hold between 6,500 gallons to more than 31,000 gallons, and you’ll be looking at a tank car.

Coil Cars

Coil cars are round-topped railcars meant for the transportation of coils, usually sheet metals like steel. Despite their closed design, they are often considered a subtype of gondolas. Coil cars’ structures usually consist of a trough lined with a material like wood to cushion the cargo and a single or double hood on top to protect it. Coil Cars are designed for products like coiled steel, steel plate, and high-grade ores. They come in a variety of lengths, tonnage, and capacities for specialized commodities. They keep cargo secure and can be easily customized.

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Flatcars

Flatcars are open-topped railcars primarily used to transport industrial parts like pipes, rails, or steel machinery.  You may have also seen them carrying stacks of lumber or large vehicles like tractors or tanks. As you can guess, these cars are low to the ground and completely flat. They often act as a sort of catch-all for carrying irregularly shaped or oversized cargo. Flatcars carry all types of products including pipes, rails, machinery, steel beams, tractors, military vehicles, lumber, poles, and logs. Similar to flatbed trucks, they can carry many things on their even platform. Because they come in a variety of lengths and tonnage they are ideal for freight that can’t get damaged from the elements.

Gondolas

Like flat cars, gondolas are open-topped railcars. However, gondolas have low side walls mean to keep loose materials from falling out. Essentially, they are flat cars with sides. Gondolas typically carry heavy bulk cargo like sand, iron ore, scrap metal, or copper. Because of their open-topped design, gondolas are usually filled with items that aren’t at risk of being damaged by elements like wind or rain. They resemble boxcars which have been cut in half horizontally.

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Tank Cars

Tank cars are rail cars designed to hold compressed liquids such as water, chemicals, or fuel. They are usually cylindrical in shape and can hold upward of 30,000 gallons at their largest. Tank cars provide one of the safest and most reliable ways to transport hazardous liquids. Almost 100% of hazmat, or hazardous materials, that are moved using tank cars arrive at their destinations without being compromised for any reason.

Some tank cars are pressurized, and some aren’t. Pressurized tanks often carry gases or chemicals like chlorine. These tank cars have a more robust and durable body to accommodate high pressures. The non-pressurized varieties of train cars act as more general-purpose transport. These types also carry hazardous waste.

Intermodal Equipment

Intermodal equipment are some of the most versatile types of transport materials because they aren’t just restricted to one type of vehicle. These pieces of equipment include boxcar-like containers and freight trailers that can be hooked up to trains, trucks, or ships depending on where the cargo needs to go. Often, they spend part of their journeys on each of these types of transport. The containers that ride the rails but can be transferred between ships, trains, and trucks without unloading or reloading the cargo. Similarly, trailers can be transferred between trucks and rail cars. To move by rail, trailers are loaded onto flatcars, and containers are loaded onto well cars. They can also carry a wide variety of materials, from consumable items like meat, beverages, and produce to consumer merchandise and industrial goods.

There are a few different types of intermodal equipment. Intermodal containers resemble box cars without wheels connecting them to tracks. These can be stacked together on top of well cars, then removed to be loaded onto other transport systems. Intermodal tanks are cylindrical containers that carry liquids. Trailers are containers which include wheels and attach to a chassis, allowing for even easier transfer.

Well Cars

Well Cars are used with intermodal containers, which can hold a wide variety of goods. They are also known as “stack cars” or “well wagons” and are specifically designed with a depression, or well, which dips down so that intermodal containers can fit snugly inside. These cars look a bit like flat cars when they aren’t loaded but are easily distinguishable by sitting lower. Because they sit lower, they often carry two stacks of containers. Because well cars ride lower than flatcars, they allow for containers to be stacked on top of one another, with two containers or double stacks on each Well Car.

Auto Racks

It isn’t hard to guess what this aptly named railcar is used for. Auto racks are metal enclosures dedicated to shipping vehicles and protecting them from damage or outside elements. Often, auto racks have multiple levels to maximize efficiency and carry as many vehicles as possible. The most common types have either two or three levels. Auto racks are most commonly used to move vehicles from factories to distribution centers.

A Rail Car for Everything, and Everything in a Rail Car

You can ship just about anything by rail, and as you can see, there is a rail car for just about everything. To learn more about these rail car types and their specifications, check out additional details here – or contact us to learn how your products can move by rail.

If you would like to learn more about how railcars can help your organization with their shipping solutions contact RailCarDeals. We are your premier source for rail car sales. RailCarDeals is entirely focused on finding and placing railcars to match industry requirements.
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