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<< Rail News Home: Mechanical

2/3/2004    Freight News



Rail News: Mechanical

Rail-car market report: 2003 deliveries, orders and backlog reveal a rebound, but some constraints remain, ARCI says




North American rail-car deliveries not only rebounded in 2003 to 32,184, they nearly doubled 2002's 17,714 deliveries, according to data compiled by the American Railway Car Institute Committee (ARCI) of the Railway Supply Institute. Last year also marked the first year-over-year delivery increase since 1998, when builders delivered more than 75,000 cars, ARCI officials said in a Jan. 28 statement.

However, the rebound is constrained by limited truck-casting capacity, and a recent scrap-steel price increase that's reducing the availability and increasing the cost of rail-car components and raw materials, said ARCI spokesman Tom Simpson.

"We are in a very dynamic market and the full impact of these factors will [affect] the continued improvements in deliveries expected for 2004," he said.

Rail-car orders strengthened in 2003, as well, increasing 66 percent to 47,249 compared with 28,475 orders in 2002. Purchasers placed the majority of orders for platforms (8,917), box cars (6,976), aluminum gondolas (6,566), tank cars (6,497) and aluminum open-top hoppers (3,235).

Also, the backlog of cars ordered but not yet delivered nearly doubled last year to 33,967 compared with an 18,402-car backlog in 2002.

During the fourth quarter, car deliveries reached 9,953 compared with 8,251, 7,365 and 6,614 in the third, second and first quarters, respectively — the seventh-straight quarterly increase, according to ARCI.

Led by increased orders for gondolas, covered and aluminum open-top hoppers, and non-intermodal, articulated intermodal flat and tank cars, quarterly car orders totaled 12,063 — a 79 percent and 38 percent rise compared with third-quarter 2003 and fourth-quarter 2002, respectively.




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