Jumbo-Size Train

Commuters on the Southland's freeways over the last year may have noticed bigger-than-ever container trucks tooling through traffic. Now freight trains are joining the jumbo trend.

Oakland-based American President Intermodal has introduced the world's first 48-foot containers into domestic service in the United States. The new containers have been designed to sit atop standard 40-foot containers on specially designed rail cars owned by API, a subsidiary of Oakland-based American President Cos.

The larger containers provide 45% more cargo-carrying capacity than a standard 40-foot container, and 10% to 14% more than the 45-foot trailers or containers commonly used in the rail industry.

API will have a total of 1,500 of the larger Taiwan-built containers in operation by March. About 100 of them will be tested in international service by American President Lines, the ocean shipping affiliate of API, with major operations in the Port of Los Angeles and other West Coast ports.

Donald C. Orris, president of API, said the federal government lifted restrictions more than a year ago that open the way for the 48-foot trailers on the nation's highways. He said the motor carrier industry quickly moved into the new size.

Most of the railroad industry, however, did not. Orris explained that a conventional 89-foot, flat rail car cannot accommodate more than one 48-foot container. API's new, longer rail cars make the jumbos more economical for shippers.

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