About 70% of cargo on eastbound routes out of Washington and Oregon is fresh produce, said Steve Lawson, president of Overland Park, Kan.-based Rail Logistics Cold Train. Most of it is apples. Pears, onions, carrots and potatoes also ship.
The rest are frozen foods — french fries, sweet corn and other vegetables, plus frozen juice concentrate.
In August about 750 containers shipped from Washington and Oregon mostly via the Port of Quincy Intermodal Terminal, Lawson said. Of those, 350 were apples and pears; 200 were potatoes, onions and carrots; and 200 were frozen foods and juice.
The company expects shipments to reach 1,000 a month by the end of the year, Lawson said. Cold Train started with about 100 in 2010.
Express service from the region to Toronto, Ontario, started recently. In the U.S., the refrigerated cargo is delivered to 19 states.
Shipments depart Quincy, Wash., and Portland, Ore., six days weekly. They take four to five days to the Midwest and six to seven to the East Coast.
On the return trip, Cold Train brings refrigerated and frozen foods plus some dry goods back from the Midwest and East Coast.
The company opened a Chicago office earlier this year and has completed its second expansion of its Overland Park headquarters in three years. Another expansion has begun in Quincy, Wash.
In a pair of recent promotions, Wayne Pilkinton was named chief financial officer, and April Withers vice president of operations. The different expansion projects are expected to accommodate about twice the current staff size.
Cold Train plans to exhibit at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Oct. 18-20 in New Orleans. With Hyundai, it also plans to display a Cold Train container at the Intermodal Association of North America Expo Nov. 17-19 in Houston.
Marketing efforts have touted the service as a sustainable alternative to trucking, an industry that’s had issues with regulations and fuel prices.