A new competitor to refrigerated trucking officially launched Monday with the start of TransCold Express, a hub-to-hub refrigerated boxcar service, running in both directions between Wilmington, Ill., and Selma, Calif.

Operated by multi-mode third-party logistics provider McKay TransCold, it is reportedly the first refrigerated boxcar unit train connecting the Midwest and West Coast in over half a century.

TransCold Express will haul products such as vegetables, fruit, cheese and butter from California to the Midwest and carry meat, eggs, cheese, butter, finished goods and dairy creamers westbound. The service takes four days to reach the Midwest from California. Service operations claim they can move freight the same speed as by truck and depending on the circumstances, a shipper could save between 5% and 15% percent by using the boxcar service versus trucking.

It will operate on BNSF Railway, with cargo being transferred from truck to boxcar through a new refrigerated building operated by National Logistics and Cold Storage, located at the RidgePort Logistics Center, a 1,500-acre industrial park 40 miles southwest of Chicago. It is being developed by Ridge Development, the industrial arm of Transwestern Development, which specializes in industrial development and investment in warehouse, distribution and manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Mexico.

The 49,000-square-foot refrigerated facility is approximately 700 feet long, allowing for eight boxcars to be unloaded at once, and only 70 feet wide, providing a minimal transfer distance between the two modes of transportation, according to Ridge Development.

It located three miles south of the Interstate 55 Arsenal Road exit that leads to the BNSF Logistics Park-Chicago in Elwood and is flanked by more than two miles of BNSF mainline frontage to the west and Interstate 55 to the east.  The park will serve as the western terminus of the proposed Illiana Expressway, a toll road that will connect I-55 and I-65 in northern Illinois and Indiana when it is built.