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April S

New Member
A few weeks ago I came across this...

RFMX 464904 (Ex-Penn Central/Conrail)

Built 6-72 (soon to be 43 years old)

Question. How old is too old for interchange?



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There is no age limit. As long as the car meets all required safety requirements, it can still be interchanged. There are passenger cars from the 40's still being pulled by Amtrak. As long as it doesn't have journal-bearing trucks and all the safety appliances are in good working order, it will be able to be interchanged.
I suppose general wear and tear is a factor; if the frame is cracked beyond weldability or if there's extensive corrosion and physical damage to the body, it'll get scrapped or relegated to MOW duty. Our favorite poster child, the gondola, seems to be an example of that. Some units are just lucky and seem to soldier on next to forever. Others just become obsolete for various reasons.

But I think you'll find very few cars from the early 60's or older still left in general service, and most of these may be special purpose.
U.P. says:

"According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), when cars are 40 years old, built prior to 1974, they are no longer allowed for "Free Interchange" service. They may be handled between participating railroads on an exception basis or must go through a recertification program per AAR Rule 88 Rebuild or AAR Rule 88 Extended Service Status (reference the AAR Office Manual Rule 88 for the explanation of the requirements for the recertification programs). The recertification must be approved by the AAR Equipment Engineering Committee.

Cars built from July 1974 to present or cars which have received an AAR Rule 88 Rebuild or AAR Rule 88 Extended Service Status may continue in interchange service to 50 years of age. After these cars reach the 50 years of age they may be handled between participating railroads by agreement of all railroads concerned. "

A brief article discussing extending car service life. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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