RailBox Company (reporting marks ABOX, RBOX, TBOX, FBOX), founded in 1974, was created to address a boxcar shortage in the United States in the 1970s. It was a subsidiary of the Chicago-based TrailerTrain.
The concept behind RailBox, as evidenced by the slogan, "Next Load, Any Road!" was, because RailBox was joint-owned by many of the railroads as a privately-owned cooperative, these boxcars were not subject to load/empty rules. RailBox cars could be assigned for service on any railroad in Canada, Mexico and the United States on lines where an AAR Plate-C loading gauge is permitted. RailBox purchased boxcars from many Manufacturers, including American Car and Foundry (ACF), Food Machinery & Chemicals (FMC), and Pullman-Standard (P-S).
According to the ICC car routing rules in effect at the time, cars owned by the various railroads were required to be routed back to their host road as soon as possible; if not, the host road had to pay demurrage (car storage and handling) charges. This often caused a shortage of boxcars available to each operator generally, not an actual numerical shortage of boxcars. ICC rules required empty cars to be routed back to their respective home railroads rather than being loaded and backhauled to another destination.
RailBox cars are all boxcars and are painted yellow with black doors. Railbox cars had a bold graphic side logo, which was a stylized X made of red and blue intertwined arrows to symbolize free flow. During the 1970s many railroads had old fleets of railcars. Due to the poor financial state of many railroads these cars were dirty and grimy. Railbox cars stood out with their bright yellow paint and large logos. The company's car reporting marks, as noted above, ended in the letter "X". Under FRA designation reporting marks ending in "X" are assigned to private owner cars.
As of 2015, many RailBox cars are still in service. The rise of intermodal containerized freight (which began in the late 1980s and early 1990s) has reduced the demand for full carload boxcar service. Also deregulation in the 1980s eliminated the legacy car routing rules, reaching its peak with the elimination of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1995.
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