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Rail Roundup: Tiger Cool Express’ cold storage, Greenbrier’s leasing success

Tiger acquiring former UP warehouse, GBX exceeding railcar lease fleet targets

(Photo: Greenbrier)

Tiger Cool Express will court Pacific Northwest ag exporters with cold storage warehouse

Intermodal service provider Tiger Cool Express plans to acquire a former Union Pacific Cold Connect warehouse in the Pacific Northwest in a bid to serve exporters of agricultural products.

The Tiger Tri-Cities Logistics Center in Wallula, Washington, will serve shippers and exporters in three states. Tiger signed a letter of intent to acquire the facility from UP, and it plans to develop an adjacent intermodal ramp at the site, Tiger Cool Express said Tuesday.

Initial service will go between Wallula and the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s on-dock facilities for dry and reefer exports and between Wallula and Chicago and points beyond via Tiger Cool Express’ refrigerated domestic containers and UP’s refrigerated boxcars. 

“Despite our continued growth and fleet expansion, we realize that our current customers in the Pacific Northwest have a need for a broader portfolio of services,” said Tiger Cool Express CEO Steve Van Kirk. “This will enable us to add export, boxcar and temperature-controlled consolidation services to our current portfolio. It will also allow us to expand our support to local farmers and families by improving the economics of exporting frozen french fries, apples, hay, pulses and other agricultural commodities.”

Tiger Cool Express hopes to expand service to other markets, such as the I-5 corridor and Mexico.

“This is literally ‘Back to the Future’ for me,” said Ted Prince, the company’s chief strategy officer and co-founder. “Working for an ocean carrier 25 years ago, we operated barges on the Columbia-Snake River system — in conjunction with our double-stack train network — providing seamless intermodal connectivity to refrigerated and dry exporters. It is exciting to resurrect a similar capacity that will enable agricultural providers to compete more effectively in global markets while removing highway congestion and pollutants.”

Tiger Cool Express said the new service offering will seek to be environmentally friendly.

“This new service offering will complement the carbon-free load service we already offer. It will also allow us to offer boxcar service to commodities that are best served by that mode. We are looking forward to handling this new business in 2022,” said Tiger Cool Express Chief Commercial Officer Leslie Baird.

GBX Leasing exceeds investment target for its leasing fleet

GBX Leasing, a railcar lessor of which parent company Greenbrier (NYSE: GBX) owns 95%, has exceeded its railcar lease fleet targets for its first year of operations.

The company had a target to acquire $200 million worth of newly built and leased railcars in its first year of operations, but it has acquired $350 million as of Sept. 30, exceeding the initial target by 75%, said Greenbrier, a railcar manufacturer. 

GBX Leasing’s fleet stands at nearly 4,000 units, with the acquisition of more than 3,600 units announced just this Wednesday. Greenbrier said the fleet was assembled through a  combination of lease originations on Greenbrier-built railcars and the portfolio acquisition announced Wednesday.

Greenbrier CEO and Chairman Bill Furman stated, “By providing tax-advantaged cash flows, lease fleet investments reduce Greenbrier’s exposure to the inherent cyclicality of freight transportation equipment manufacturing. The recent railcar acquisition advances Greenbrier’s strategy to increase the scale of our lease fleet assets. 

“The mix of railcar types included in the acquisition is an excellent fit for our growing GBXL portfolio. The fleet allows us to better serve our existing customers and engage market participants previously unaddressed by Greenbrier. Additionally, the transaction will generate attractive returns, delivering further value to our shareholders,” Furman said.

Railcars in GBX Leasing’s fleet are in service for a broad range of industries, including agriculture, energy, petrochemical and consumer goods, Greenbrier said.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.