Double-Stack Rail Turns Twenty

Immediately upon the introduction of double-stack technology, three objectives were realized – less power was needed to pull the rail cars, track capacity was increased and train crew sizes were reduced. Other benefits were achieved through the design of the rail cars: damage was reduced and security enhanced since lower container doors cannot be opened. Innovation has continued and cargo handling increased through the company’s development of 53-foot steel containers with 110-inch-high doors.

In 1999, Pacer International purchased APL’s double-stack network (the ocean carrier was the concept’s inventor), forming Pacer Stacktrain. Today, as Tom Shurstad, company President, notes, through its distribution network and relationships with many railroads Pacer Stacktrain connects all major commercial centers with more than 500 weekly departures. Too, says Shurstad, “we have pioneered a cross-border intermodal product that streamlines movement of general merchandise between the U.S. and Mexico.”

Pacer Stacktrain points with pride to its carrying more than 1 million containers each year and 20% of all North American domestic and international container movements.

Shurstad sees his company’s growth, in part, because of mode shifts of freight from long haul truck to intermodal transportation. “We expect to see this growth continue, reflecting both modal conversions and growth of the total intermodal market,” he says. There’s more to learn at the company’s web site,

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