The sagging economy has slowed some plans of Schenectady, N.Y.-based Railex LLC, but the refrigerated fresh produce rail service is still aiming to expand into the Southeast within a year.

“Railex has suffered as other industries have since 2008,” said Paul Esposito, vice president of sales for the northeast division and corporate logistics for Railex. “We still have some very, very aggressive growth plans.”

Those plans include a Southeast hub and a Midwest hub, he told participants March 26 during a Web seminar for prospective customers.

The first of the new hubs will be located in either southern Georgia or northern Florida, he said.

“It is our goal to at least be into the Southeast by late this year or early in 2011,” Esposito said.

The company launched its service in 2006 with 55-car weekly trains from Wallula, Wash., to its Rotterdam, N.Y., terminal.

That coast-to-coast route now has two trains weekly, as does the Railex facility that began offering service from Delano, Calif., to Rotterdam in 2009. When the Delano facility began operating, the goal was to run five trains a week from Delano to New York, Andy Pollak, Railex chief executive officer, said at the time.

Railex built the New York, Washington and California facilities at a cost of more than $100 million, Esposito said. The company’s expansion plans may include moving into existing structures.

“We are looking at areas in which there are pre-set locations,” he said. “Depending upon how much work needs to be done, how much track needs to be built and how quickly we can move into the area is what limits us.”

Railex also is in negotiations for a location in Chicago, St. Louis or the Memphis, Tenn. area, Esposito said.

The new facilities would permit direct shipment of Pacific Northwest apples, pears, cherries, onions and potatoes to the Midwest and the Southeast, in addition to Rotterdam. California table grapes, stone fruit and citrus would have the same options.

Railex maps Southeast, Midwest expansion plans