In the mid 1970’s there was a shortage of high quality boxcars in the nation’s rolling stock fleet. The Trailer Train Corporation, which was jointly owned by quite a few railroads, attempted to answer the issue by launching Railbox, which injected 20,000 boxcars into the national pool by 1980. Perceiving that Railbox would not completely fill the void, the Interstate Commerce Commission created a higher Incentive Per Diem (IPD) rate that paid the owners of high quality boxcars a higher per diem than the established rates for other cars.
Leasing companies quickly seized this opportunity, which was only available to common carrier railroads. By leasing to short lines, the leasing companies had an avenue to be eligible for this rate, and both partners could have income just by making sure that the cars stayed off-line.
Ultimately, the IPD was found to be illegal, and these boxcars quickly became unprofitable. Many short lines ended up having more cars than track, and became plugged with cars when the class 1’s began returning them to their owners.
The IPD era was interesting for railfans, since we got to see colorful equipment from roads that we had only read about in magazines or the Official Guide of the Railways. Here a car from Vermont short line Clarendon & Pittsford passes through DeWitt, New York.
From a "hint" of "Bee" (NKP 765), colorful "Bees" (KCS), "Bees" w/ attitude, to "Bees" that "sting" your eyes, in their own way they have "Bee" on display! Equipment that "Buzzes" wearing Yellow & Black! ("Bees" can still "Bee" entering this "hive"!)