A former Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator car on display in Sebastopol, California.

(Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Pacific Fruit Express (reporting mark PFE) was an American railroad refrigerator car leasing company that at one point was the largest refrigerator car operator in the world.



The company was founded on December 7, 1906, as a joint venture between the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads. It began operation on October 1, 1907, with a fleet of 6,600 refrigerator cars built by the American Car and Foundry Company (ACF).

In 1923, the Western Pacific Railroad joined the venture by leasing its own new fleet of 2775 reefers to PFE. They were painted in standard PFE colors with only WP heralds on the cars instead of the paired UP-SP markings. The WP cars were all retired by the late 1950s, among the last wooden reefers in PFE's fleet. WP ended its partnership with PFE in late 1967 and joined Fruit Growers Express instead.

PFE's assets were divided between the UP and SP when the company was split on April 1, 1978. It is now a UP subsidiary.

On September 1, 2022 Union Pacific closed the final Fruit Express shop in North Platte, Nebraska at Bailey Yard and all personal and equipment were transferred to the North Platte Service Unit Car Department.


Pacific Fruit Express Roster, 1907–1970:

1907 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970
6,600 8,100 16,000 40,509 36,899 38,840 28,818 17,648

Source: The Great Yellow Fleet, p. 17.


Paint and markings

Modern cars owned by PFE typically carried both UP and SP heralds and either "Union Pacific Fruit Express" or "Southern Pacific Fruit Express". The reporting marks were UPFE for cars operated by Union Pacific or SPFE for cars operated by Southern Pacific.


Men load ice into a PFE reefer at an Oxnard, CA produce plant in the Spring of 1964.

(The original uploader was Lordkinbote at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 1.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)



PFE's impact is still seen in Roseville, California, site of a major Union Pacific classification yard, where there is a road named "PFE Road".

There are a pair of PFE tracks in the Union Pacific Albina Yard in Portland, Oregon

There is PFE track in Tucson Yard Tucson, Az.

PFE shops in Pocatello, Idaho are still used by the car department.

A PFE boxcar is on final display in Cody Park in North Platte, Nebraska behind Centennial 6922.


The Pacific Fruit Express Pre-Cooling Plant at Colton, CA, 1914. (Western Pub. & Novelty Co., Los Angeles, CA, Curt Teich, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)

The PFE Car Repair Shops at Nampa, ID, built 1925 and covering 80 acres. (Miles News Agency, Nampa, ID, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)

SP 2404 is one of ten Alco Century C-415 locomotives built for the Southern Pacific in 1966. Shown here switching at the Pacific Fruit Express Yards in the City of Industry. (Chatham Publishing Company, Burlingame, CA, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)

Pacific Fruit Express refrigerated boxcar No. 454187, owned by Southern Pacific, 1987. (Gary Lee Todd, Ph.D., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)