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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

NS snatches shippers' frozen potato traffic away from trucks

How many french fries and hash browns do Washington, D.C.-area McDonald’s patrons eat each day? Enough to fill one-and-a-half rail cars. But those fast food staples haven’t moved by rail into the nation’s capitol for long.

Late last year, frozen potato supplier Martin-Brower Co. L.L.C. finished transitioning its McDonald’s food traffic from all-truck to all-rail via Norfolk Southern Corp., according to the Class I’s March newsletter. The diversion took nearly five years to complete.

A McDonald’s supplier since 1956, Martin-Brower moves frozen potatoes from Manitoba, Canada, to a Manassas, Va., warehouse, where the products are distributed to 635 D.C.-area restaurants. The company diverted its traffic from truck to rail to reduce transportation costs and help relieve congestion on northern Virginia’s highways, said Martin-Brower General Manager Todd Hopkins in the newsletter.

Martin-Brower worked with logistics firm Cryo-Trans to obtain refrigerated rail cars featuring Global Positioning System-enabled equipment to trace shipments. NS worked with Canadian Pacific Railway to tailor a rail service for the shipper that ensures on-time delivery, NS said.

“It took a combination of the right people, some new technology, and consistent and reliable service to make this happen,” said Bob Plain, NS director of marketing-agricultural products group.

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More News from 3/13/2007