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BNSF-led alliance seeks to attract 'snowbirds' with car-rail service

Burlington Northern Santa Fe, BNSF Logistics L.L.C. and Autolog Corp. recently formed a marketing and operations alliance to provide an automobile-rail service between Phoenix and Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul and New York City targeting people who spend winters in Arizona and spring/summers in the Midwest or Northeast.

Scheduled to launch on March 8, the service will be managed by Autolog's "Car-Rail" division and coordinated through BNSF Logistics' CarsOnTrack program. BNSF expects to use enclosed auto-rack rail cars to protect vehicles from damage.

Currently, more than 250,000 people reside in the Phoenix and Tucson areas during winter, then return to midwestern or northeastern homes in the spring. These so-called "snowbirds" either drive their automobiles or hire a trucking company to transport their car to their northern residence — options that can cost more than $800, BNSF and Autolog officials believe.

"The average transit time for vehicles utilizing the service to the Midwest will take approximately seven to 10 days versus 14 to 21 days for an independent trucking company," said BNSF Logistics Director of Operations Robert Sutton in a prepared statement, adding that the cost to transport a typical-sized car will start at $450.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/15/2004