Amtrak is stepping up its competition with the trucking industry with plans to add 350 refrigerated freight cars to its passenger-rail operations.

The move is part of Amtrak's efforts to break even without federal funding by 2003. The company started expanding its mail and freight business in 1970, expanding the service the middle of last year. When the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Amtrak's transportation of nonperishable freight had expanded to $98 million, 18% more than fiscal 1998.
Amtrak expects to handle nearly 17,000 refrigerated loads a year on its national high-speed passenger network. Because the passenger trains travel more quickly than regular freight trains, the service will be able to better compete against the trucking industry.
Amtrak will get the refurbished refrigerated cars from Detroit-based ExpressTrak, which will also work with clients to track and maintain the cars.