JUNE 7 is due to see the start of North America’s first dedicated RoadRailer refrigerated service west of the Mississippi river. Burlington Northern Santa Fe has formed a partnership with Mark VII Transportation Co to operate the Ice Cold Express; a 65-unit train which will run once a week in each direction between Chicago and San Bernardino, California, offering a three-day journey time. BNSF has assigned 150 refrigerated RoadRailers to the service. Mark VII, an intermodal marketing company, will market the service and arrange road haulage from the terminals.

On April 19 Amtrak signed a memorandum of understanding with the Norfolk Southern - Conrail joint venture Triple Crown Services to allow the operation of RoadRailer services on its Northeast Corridor and the Keystone Corridor in Pennsylvania. The MOU establishes the fees and operating conditions for NS to haul Triple Crown RoadRailers between northern New Jersey and Washington and between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

The deal will allow both NS and Amtrak to capture larger shares of the growing express and mail market. The RoadRailers will primarily operate at night when passenger traffic is at a minimum. Amtrak and Triple Crown also agreed to share three RoadRailer terminals: the NS Portside Yard in the Port of New York & New Jersey, the Triple Crown yard at Harrisburg and Amtrak’s terminal in Philadelphia.

At the end of April Amtrak ordered a further 129 RoadRailers from Wabash National, 89 side-loading 48 ft MailVans and 40 Duraplate lightweight 53 ft trailers, bringing its total fleet to 420.