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Ford works with railroads, car builders to develop rail car for high-roof vehicles

Ford Motor Co. has teamed up with railroads and rail-car manufacturers to develop a new rail car designed to accommodate a variety of 2015 Transit cargo vans and wagons featuring high roofs.

The vehicles are 110.1 inches tall, enabling customers as tall as 6 feet, 4 inches to stand upright in the vans and wagons. Ford typically transports vehicles from its assembly plants to dealerships using a mix of rail and truck, but the new medium- and high-roof Transit vehicles are too tall to fit in conventional auto racks. So, Ford engineers worked with railroads and rail-car builders to design an innovative freight car.

The automaker began working on the rail-car project in 2010, coinciding with development of the 2015 Transit. The rail car's overall height remains the same as traditional rail cars to clear overpasses and tunnels, but its inner deck was modified to carry as many as seven medium- and high-roof Transit vehicles on the lower deck, and as many as seven smaller vehicles on the shorter top deck. Ford expects half of 2015 Transit orders to involve the medium- and high-roof-configured vehicles.

The automaker evaluated the use of trucks only for the high-roof Transits, but determined that it could transport them more efficiently and affordably by developing the rail car and incorporating them into its transportation network, Ford officials said in a press release. The company plans to transport the vehicles by truck to dealers within a 500-mile radius of the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo., where the cargo vans and wagons are produced. Vehicles traveling more than 500 miles will be transported by rail.

"The use of these modified rail cars helps us to efficiently ship these large vehicles from our assembly plant, deliver them to our dealers, and get them into the hands of our customers faster and more cost effectively," said Chris Lemmink, Ford's vehicle logistics manager.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/23/2014