Training Day: Ford Transit’s Railway Innovation

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We just covered why the Transit will be making automotive history with the largest side-curtain airbag in the industry. Now, we look at another innovation needed for the Transit and probably one you didn’t think of; how to transport it.

When the Transit is transported by train, a normal rail car for transporting automobiles won’t work with a roof height of 110.1 inches. So, Ford worked with rail car manufacturers to design a modified version and we’ll take a quick look into this innovation.

Ford uses two different types of logistics methods to ensure quick and on-time delivery of their vehicles; rail car and semi-truck transport. Just because it’s taller doesn’t mean that the Transit won’t see the same delivery system.

However, the standard two-story rail cars are just not tall enough for both the medium- and high-roof Transits. So, a modified version of those rail cars was designed by Ford and their railroad and rail car partners. Ford and their partners began the rail car project in 2010 and it coincided with development of the Transit.

“Use of these modified rail cars helps us to efficiently ship these large vehicles from our assembly plant, deliver them to our dealers and get them into the hands of our customers faster and more cost effectively,” said Chris Lemmink, Ford vehicle logistics manager.

Rail cars are particularly important when you consider that they are usually able to travel one side of the country to the other nearly non-stop. While they maintain a Federal Railway Administration mandated 60 mph on the more common Class 4 tracks, they can do so with little stoppage and minimum speed reductions.

The rail cars are modified with a higher inner deck while maintaining the same overall height of the original rail car. This allows all roof heights of the Transit to be transported while cars like the Fusion can still be loaded on the upper deck.

Not only will seven cars fit on the upper deck, but Ford will be able to transport seven Transits at the same time. This also allows Ford to maintain its “Blueprint for Sustainability” for resource responsibility and minimizing environmental impact.

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Justin Banner is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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