Kansas City Southern has the right equipment for your shipping needs.

Having the right equipment is critical to moving your cargo safely and efficiently. In fact, Kansas City Southern has one of the youngest fleets of locomotives among the Class I railroads in our effort to have both efficient and environmentally responsible engines to move your shipments.

Each year we add to our pool of assets new cars and equipment to transport your goods in the most efficient and safe manner possible.

To help you get started, here is a list of the various equipment used in KCS' rail shipping and the commodities most often used by the equipment.


Automotive Car




Covered Hopper


Flat Car




Intermodal Container



Automotive cars are designed to carry all the items needed for the just-in-time automotive industry.

Auto racks come in various sizes to serve all the automotive industry’s needs.

Car attribute Auto rack bi-level Auto rack tri-level AutoMax
# Rack 2 3 2 or 3
Vehicle capacity 10 15 22-24
Gross rail load 179K 195K 250K, 260K

Boxcars are fully enclosed with doors. Equipped boxcars have special equipment that facilitates transportation of commodities ranging from Appliances to Paper and everything in between.

Car attribute 50-ft. boxcar 60-ft. boxcar 60-ft. boxcar – high cube 86-ft. boxcar
Inside length 50 ft. 60 ft. 60 ft. 86 ft.
Inside height 11 ft. 11 ft. 13 ft. 13 ft.
Door type Single plug, single sliding Single plug, single sliding Single plug/double sliding, double plug/single sliding Single plug, double plug/single sliding
Door opening 10 ft. 10 ft., 12 ft. 10 ft., 12 ft., 16 ft. 20 ft.
Gross rail load 220K, 263K, 286K 263K, 286K 220K, 263K, 286K 220K, 263K
Primary commodity Paper Paper, plywood Paper, appliances Appliances

Covered hoppers are permanently enclosed and handle bulk commodities. They are equipped with weather-tight openings for top loading and are commonly seen with Grain and Agricultural items.

Care of Covered Hoppers

Car attribute Standard covered hopper High cube covered hopper
Cubic capacity (cft) 4650, 4750 5150, 5161, 5188, 5200
Gross rail load 263K, 286K 286K
Hatch type Trough, circular Trough, combination
Outlet gate type Gravity Gravity
Primary commodity Grain, fertilizer, potash Grain

Flat cars feature flooring laid over the sills without sides and are geared to carrying oversized items.

Car attribute Centerbeam Bulk head
Platform length 73 ft. 57-61 ft.
Gross rail load 63K 263K, 315K

Gondolas are open-top cars with fixed sides, fixed or drop ends and solid bottoms. Equipped gondolas have special features designed to transport specific commodities ranging from Ag and Mineral to Metals and Scrap.

Car attribute Short mill gondola Standard mill gondola Long mill gondola
Interior length 42 ft., 48 ft. 52 ft. 66 ft.
Gross rail load 220K, 263K 220K, 263K, 286K 220K, 263K, 286K
Rotary couplers No No No

Intermodal equipment grants shippers the ability to transport freight by either rail, truck, or ship, all while utilizing the same shipping container. The below chart outlines the main type of intermodal equipment that is utilized across the KCS network.

Equipment type Domestic International
Rail-Controlled equipment 53' TMXU, EMP and UMAX containers -
Shipper Owned Equipment 20' Containers and Isotanks, 28' Pup Trailers, 40' Trailers and Bulktanks, 53' Containers, Trailers and Raildecks 20', 40', and 45' containers.

Tank cars are used exclusively for transportation of liquids, liquefied gases, compressed gases and solids liquefied prior to unloading. All tank cars are owned by the customers. The railroad does not provide tank cars.

As part of our commitment to the safety of our employees, customers and the communities we serve, KCSM requires that all tank cars must meet the safety standards as outlined by the Tank Car Safety standards (specifications) issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada for tank cars transporting flammable liquids (Class 3 hazard classification) and TIH (material toxic by inhalation.

KCSM requires all cars to be “electronically” inspected to determine the car’s safety and fit for transporting the applicable commodity. This inspection will also serve to identify maintenance advisories and/or early warnings to keep cars in good mechanical and operational shape. As part of this electronic inspection process, KCSM requires all cars to be registered with KCSM prior to January 1, 2020. The easiest and most effective way to register both cars and the private car contact is through the UMLER system used throughout both Canada and the U.S.

Car attribute Tank cars
Insulated/exterior coils Yes and no
Capacity (gallons) 20500, 23500, 21000, 30000
Gross rail load 263K, 286K