Kansas City Southern's focus for 2013? Essentially a continuation of the progress the railroad has made in 2012. That's the message KCS President and Chief Executive Officer David Starling delivers in the Class I's year-end "state of the railroad" letter, which reviews KCS' successes in 2012 and shares some of its plans for 2013.
Among the successes: The fastest-growing business segments — automotive, Port of Lázaro Cádenas volumes, frac sand, cross-border intermodal and crude oil — collectively grew by more than 40 percent over the past 12 months. And the long-term, sustainable growth outlook for the sectors is "very good," particularly after four new auto plants open in Mexico in early 2014, Starling wrote in the letter.
In addition, KCS continued to increase the frequency and range of training opportunities available to U.S. and Mexican employees to ensure they're "fully equipped" to meet the demands of the railroad's growing business for years to come, he wrote. And information technology continued to fuel the Class I's ability to keep pace and enhance customer communication.
"This year, we achieved some important milestones. Next year, we'll add more resources to ensure technology is among our strengths," Starling wrote.
The letter also shares some of the key infrastructure improvements KCS completed in 2012 in both the United States and Mexico, and some of the vital work slated for 2013.
Next year in the United States, the railroad plans to replace 550,000 ties and 20 miles of curved rail; install 150,000 ties in various subdivisions, including 90,000 ties between Kansas City, Mo. and Roodhouse, Ill., and 30,000 ties to rebuild a line to support new grain elevators in Jacksonville, Ill., and Corder, Mo.; install 90,000 ties on the Meridian Speedway (both in 2013 and 2014); build a siding in San Diego, Texas; and complete the Shreveport Terminal Complex expansion project with additional Centralized Traffic Control. After the complex project is completed, KCS will have a double mainline of uninterrupted 30 mph track through the area, Starling wrote.
In Mexico, KCS plans to continue building a line between Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo by installing 27 track miles with new 136-pound rail and 75,000 concrete ties; replace 56,000 ties between Corondiro and Lázaro Cárdenas to support 136-pound rail; install more than 312,000 ties and a total of 69 miles of both 115- and 136-pound rail on routes, including a line from Monterrey to Nuevo Laredo; finish the second phase of Sanchez yard, including more switch tracks, a north lead, locomotive and car repair tracks, as part of the five-year plan; extend the Los Chivos and Corondiro sidings to 9,800 feet; construct a new wye track at Ahorcado; and upgrade Vanegas Yard and relocate Ruben Jaramillo Yard.
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