A Minnesota logistics firm is set to launch dedicated refrigerated rail service from California to Illinois.

Edina, Minn.-based McKay TransCold expects to have its route from Selma, Calif., to Wilmington, Ill., up and running in early 2014, said Jason Spafford, the company’s vice president of business development.

Two trains pulling 50 refrigerated boxcars are expected to make the weekly run between California and Illinois, with BNSF Railway providing rail service.

Eggs and frozen and refrigerated foods will make up the bulk of east-to-west shipments, but when the trains leave California, they’ll likely have some citrus, stone fruit, carrots or other fruits and vegetables aboard.

“We imagine a good proportion will be fresh produce,” Spafford said.

Each boxcar on TransCold Express will hold 3.5 to 4.2 truckloads of product, or up to 200 truckloads per train. The company could expand the service, dubbed TransCold Express, to twice a week, depending on demand, Spafford said.

With distribution centers at both ends of the route, McKay TransCold will offer door-to-door, crossdock-to-door and crossdock-to-crossdock service, increasing efficiencies for customers, Spafford said.

Cars on TransCold Express will feature racking systems designed by McKay TransCold to handle refrigerated cargo as safely as possible.

Company officials spent about a year-and-a-half talking with produce and other shippers to understand their needs, Spafford said. With the company’s new racks, pallets can be double-stacked instead of flood-loaded, and the system’s uniformity requires very little dunnage for stabilization.

“I grew up on a potato farm in northern Wisconsin,” Spafford said. “I understand the special needs of things coming out of the ground.”

TransCold Express trains will have no load restrictions, with full loads and LTL loads ranging from 2,000 pounds to 9 million pounds accepted.

The service will have a 70% smaller carbon footprint than comparable truck service, Spafford said.