Thanks WDB for the detailed info!
NYC had a good thought that was more or less the precursor to the intermodal shipping container we know now. NYC's idea with Flexi-Van was that the same cargo carrier could simply be lifted off its chassis and placed on a flatcar, on a boat, or onto a truck. It had many advantages, and a few other railroads picked up the idea, too. "Other roads showed some interest in the system, including ATSF, CB&Q, IC, MILW, WP and more. Although intended for most types of freight, the system eventually proved quite popular for handling mail." The Flexi-Vans could also be handled in passenger trains, making them ideal for express and mail shipments.
I think as F-V was getting some traction as a viable concept, you had other emerging technologies... Early TOFC did not require complicated machinery and specialized tractors... all you needed was a ramp and TTX flatcars with tiedowns. Early TOFC were loaded "circus style" using ramps, not cranes. The trailer manufacturers later developed bodies strong enough that could be lifted by special cranes (these are the trailers with "Z" in their reporting marks), negating the need for "circus" ramps.
was PRR's trade name for TOFC service, as far as I know... I dont think there was anything special except trailers and flatcars.
http://kc.pennsyrr.com/freightops/truct ... erview.php
RoadRailer seemed like a great concept, as outlined above. Seems like it never got traction outside of the Conrail-Norfolk Southern partnership. Sure, you didn't need flatcars or cranes or a lot of real estate for a terminal... but you did need an adapter bogie, and the RoadRailers had to operate in dedicated trains (or it was preferred that way). Amtrak for a while had some RoadRailers that carried mail and express, but that experiment ended.
Once the standardized international shipping container/trailers came on the scene, and once the railroads figured out how to handle the service, that pretty much spelled the end for Flexi-Van and its specialized flatcar with the pivoting base.
Am I close?
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site
:: A Magazine I Read Often
:: A Museum I Volunteer At