History Under Construction
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The RoadRailer concept was originally conceived by Kenneth A. Brown of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1952. The C & O began utilizing a 29' single axle trailer around 1955 for service between Detroit and Grand Rapids Michigan. Trailers were attached to passenger trains and used for Mail and Express Service. This provided rail access to customers without rail sidings. The use of the trailers dwindled in the early 60's, as did passenger services.
The revival began in the early 80's with several short duration ventures by Seaboard Lines, Family Lines, Illinois Central Gulf, Conrail, and Union Pacific. In 1986 Norfolk Southern began RoadRailer service in a big way with its Triple Crown subsidiary. Later, in 1993, Conrail join in as an equal partner. RoadRailer trailers have evolved from Mark II, to Mark IV, and now Mark V bogies. The Mark V bogies are complete detachable. Trailers are manufactured by Wabash National Corporation, Lafayette Indiana. The trailers utilize an onboard air system to raise and lower the trailers on and off of the bogies.
Triple Crown is by far the largest user of the RoadRailer trailers. Amtrak is using for mail service and Union Pacific is running a weekly priority train. Most are Dry Vans but they have been converted to refrigerated and special auto carriers. Norfolk Southern and Conrail normally run the unit trains with 100 trailers. Each train will have a Couplermate directly behind the engine, but occasionally there will be an additional one on the end to allow for connection to normal coupler cars.
The following publications are available:
Triple Crown's Rail Compatible Trailers, by David G. Casdorph, 1993, Society of Freight Car Historians
The following videos are available:
Pentrex The Rathole
Through the Rathole (Cab Ride)
Green Frog Productions The RoadRailers
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