Intermountain Railway Company HO Scale Ready To Run 40' 12 Panel Box Car - Burlington Northern
HO RTR 40' 12 Panel Box, BN
Boxcars can carry most kinds of freight. Originally they were hand-loaded, but in more recent years mechanical assistance such as forklifts have been used to load and empty them faster. Their generalized design is still slower to load and unload than specialized designs of car, and this partially explains the decline in boxcar numbers since World War II. The other cause for this decline is the container. A container can be easily transshipped and is amenable to intermodal transportation, transportable by ships, trucks or trains, and can be delivered door-to-door. In many respects a container is a boxcar without the wheels and underframe.
Even loose loads such as coal, grain and ore can be carried in a boxcar, with boards over the side door openings, at later times grain transport used metal reinforced cardboard which was nailed over the door and could be punctured by a grain auger for unloading. This was more common in earlier days; it was susceptible to losing much loading during the journey, and damaged the boxcar. It was also impossible to mechanically load and unload. Grain can also be transported in boxcars designed specifically for that purpose; specialized equipment and procedures are required to load and unload the cars.
Livestock can be transported in a boxcar (which was standard practice in the U.S. until the mid-1880s), but there is insufficient ventilation in warm weather. Specially-built or converted stock cars are preferable. Insulated boxcars are used for certain types of perishable loads that do not require the precise temperature control provided by a refrigerator car. Circuses used boxcars to transport their workers, supplies, and animals to get from town to town.
Historically automobiles were carried in boxcars, but during the 1960s specially built autoracks took over; these carried more cars in the same space and were easier to load and unload. The automotive parts business, however, has always been a big user of the boxcar, and larger capacity "high cube" cars evolved in the 1960s to meet the auto parts industry's needs. Special boxcars carry newsprint paper and other damage-sensitive cargo.
While not holding the dominant position in the world of railborne freight that they had before World War II, the boxcar still exists and is used in great numbers around the world.
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