During the nearly 200 years that railroads have been in operation in the United States, an incredible number of railcar designs have been implemented. However, as the railroad industry has become standardized, the number of railcar designs has diminished. The most widely used railcar in the United States is the boxcar. Three types of boxcars are manufactured, including the standard boxcar, high cube boxcar and the refrigerated boxcar. Different manufacturers build variations of these three basic types.
Boxcars come in varying lengths, usually 50 or 60 feet with load capacities ranging from 70 to 105 tons. The most common boxcar is the 50 foot model. Specifications include a length of 50 feet, 6-inches, a width of 9 feet, 6-inches and a height of 13 feet, 13/16-inches. The interior volume is 6,269 cubic feet. The door opening height is 12 feet, 4-inches, and the door width is 10 feet. Some boxcars have double side doors, others have only one per side. The load limit is 211,800 pounds.
High Cube Boxcar
The 60-foot high cube boxcar is primarily used to carry heavy bulky items such as paperboard, lumber and palletized loads, such as canned goods. Specifications include an interior length of 60 feet, 9-inches, a width of 9 feet, 6 inches and a height of 11 feet, 5 3/8 inches. The interior volume of the 60 foot high cube is 6,6079 cubic feet. The door opening height is 10 feet, 4 inches and the door width is 12 feet. High cube boxcars have only one door per side. The load limit 206,700 pounds.
Extreme High Cube
For accommodating extremely large cargo items, a modified version of the high cube is also manufactured. Referred to as the extreme high cube, it is slightly taller and wider than the normal design, with a width of 10 feet, 7½ inches and an interior height of 15 feet, 9 inches. The load limit for the extreme high cube is also 206,700 pounds.
The refrigerated boxcar or "reefer" is the third type commonly employed by our nation's railroads. Designed to carry perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables, early models were chilled with ice, but modern reefers employ mechanical refrigeration. Specifications include an interior length of 50 feet, 10 inches, interior width of 9 feet and an interior height of 9 feet, 4 inches. The interior volume is 4,269 cubic feet. The door opening height is 8 feet, 8inches, and the door width is 10 feet, 6inches. The load limit is 131,300 pounds.