Pacific Fruit Express

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A former Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator car on display in Sebastopol, California

Pacific Fruit Express (reporting mark PFE) was an American railroad refrigerator car leasing company that at one point was the largest refrigerator car operator in the world.


The company was founded on December 7, 1906 as a joint venture between the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads. It began operation on October 1, 1907, with a fleet of 6,600 refrigerator cars built by the American Car and Foundry Company (ACF).[1]

In 1923, the Western Pacific Railroad joined the venture by leasing its own new fleet of 2775 reefers to PFE. They were painted in standard PFE colors with only WP heralds on the cars instead of the paired UP-SP markings. The WP cars were all retired by the late 1950s, among the last wooden reefers in PFE's fleet. WP ended its partnership with PFE in late 1967 and joined Fruit Growers Express instead.

PFE's assets were divided between the UP and SP when the company was split on April 1, 1978. It is now a UP subsidiary.[2]

Pacific Fruit Express Roster, 1907–1970:

  1907   1910   1920   1930   1940   1950   1960   1970  
  6,600   8,100   16,000   40,509   36,899   38,840   28,818   17,648  

Source: The Great Yellow Fleet, p. 17.

Paint and markings[edit]

Modern cars owned by PFE typically carried both UP and SP heralds and either "Union Pacific Fruit Express" or "Southern Pacific Fruit Express". The reporting marks were UPFE for cars operated by Union Pacific or SPFE for cars operated by Southern Pacific.


PFE's impact is still seen in Roseville, California, site of a major Union Pacific classification yard, where there is a road named "PFE Road".

There are a pair of PFE tracks in the Union Pacific Albina Yard in Portland, Oregon

There is PFE Track in Tucson Yard Tucson,Az.


  1. ^ "Inventory of the Pacific Fruit Express Company Collection, 1906-1989". Online Archive of California. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  2. ^ Class I Railroad Annual Report R-1: Union Pacific Railroad Company to the Surface Transportation Board for the Year Ending Dec. 31, 2007

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]