The past few years have brought with them a freight-railroading renaissance in North America. For decades, over-the-road and airfreight had taken over the shipping landscape. Helped along by the recent boom in natural gas production, the lack of adequate pipelines, and always rising fuel costs, more industries have returned to shipping their goods by rail. According to the Wall Street Journal, we are in the middle of a “…building boom unlike anything since the industry’s Gilded Age heyday in the 19th century.”
In 2013 alone, more than $14 billion is being put into new yards, stations, and track. Experts believe the industry will hit a high of 67,000 rail-car deliveries per year by 2017.
As one might imagine, this new push comes with a demand for newer and more advanced rail cars. Currently there are 11 basic classifications of freight cars, each serving a different and important purpose. Within these categories, there is an extensive list of subclasses, each with its own specific demands. One of thing they all have in common is the demand for the highest quality and most innovative construction.
While corrugated steel was and still is the main material of choice for railcars, however, there has been a move toward the use of aluminum alloys for some of today’s freight rail cars. These aluminum alloys include, Aluminum Magnesium (5052,5083,5086,5454,etc.) and Aluminum Magnesium Silicon (6061, 6082, etc.). Typically, they have a 30-year life span, and each year the industry is finding ways to make them lighter, stronger, and more cost-effective.
At Corrugated Metals, we are at the forefront of rail car roofing innovation. Recently we worked on a project that we believe will shape the way the freight cars roofs are made in the future. The key for the entire industry and us is the ability to efficiently and cost effectively custom roll form every type of metal used in the industry including:
- Aluminized I & II
- Stainless Steel
- COR-TEN® HSLA
- Hot-Dipped Galvanized G-90 through G-285
- Cold Rolled CQ (Commercial Quality)
Prepainted Galvanized & Aluminum
The future for transporting freight by rail looks bright, and everyday brings a new technology or materials that will keep the industry going for decades to come.