24.2.10

THE REDS' RED BALL FREIGHT. My 1960 edition of World Railways includes this illustration of a 23 car refrigerator train set (two end units, 18 middle units, power car, compressor car, and rider car with wardroom, kitchen, and bunks). That doghouse closest to the camera is what passes for a caboose on the Soviet railroads. Issue the rear man a heavy coat.


Here are plans for the cars. I have the space to run it, the engine to pull it, and possibly the time to work out some tooling (custom building 23 identical underframes is otherwise a bit much).

I wonder, however, if this isn't a train ahead of its time. U.S. railroads recently brought back the red ball freight, this time as a dedicated consist from one shipper to one warehouse, avoiding time lost and damages incurred in switching. The cars have mechanical refrigeration, obviating icing stops. But each car carries its own heating and cooling equipment, raising the tare weight and increasing the maintenance load. Where a fixed consist (whether of house cars, or of container flats hauling refrigerated containers) is in use, that central power plant might make sense.

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