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Jun 29, 2016


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The Conrail Cyclopedia - Serving Conrail fans world-wide since 1998.

Tri-Level Autoracks Did you know that individual railroads such as Conrail do not own their autoracks? Actually, all autoracks are owned by TTX Company, which in turn is owned by various railroads across North America. Prior to 1991, TTX Company was known as Trailer Train.

Since TTX owns the cars in pool service, 90% of the entire fleet is in service at all times. For example, Conrail owned about 12% of TTX's stock during the late 1990s and about 5,800 autoracks with ETTX, TTGX, TTQX, and TTSX reporting marks.

But these open designs proved costly for the railroads and shippers because the transported cars were easy targets for vandals both trackside and on overpasses. The cars were also subject to trackside debris damaging them. During the later 1960s and early 1970s, manufacturers began applying protective panels to the sides of the cars. Of course, the autoracks were still unprotected on the top and side, though only partially protected on the sides. During the later 1970s, totally enclosed autoracks were introduced, greatly improving the security of the transported cars.

Without going into a detailed history of TTX or autoracks, which can be found elsewhere, I would like to briefly mention the development of autorack design from the 1960s until the present. Manufacturers originally built autoracks completely open, allowing the trackside viewer to clearly see the cars being transported. But the railroads and shippers quickly discovered that the transported cars were easy targets for vandals and flying debris. As a result, manufacturers began adding protective side panels. During the late 1970s, totally enclosed and protected autoracks began rolling off the assembly lines. As an older car needed servicing, the rack was replaced with a newer enclosed version. As a result, you could see a wide variety of autorack styles within one train, depending on the year. For example, during the early 1990s some partially open racks built in the 1960s were still running along side the modern fully enclosed versions of the 1990s.

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