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2/21/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BC Rail's three-year plan focuses on freight-rail service


On Feb. 18, BC Rail Ltd. released a three-year (2003-2005) service plan — its first that focuses solely on freight-rail operations.


During the past year, BC Rail has discontinued passenger-rail service, sold non-rail subsidiaries BCR Marine and Finlay Navigation, and discontinued trailer-on-flat-car service.


Under the new plan, the 1,446-mile regional plans to grow revenue by pursuing coal and oriented strand board (OSB) traffic in northeast British Columbia; develop and implement a costing system to analyze revenue yield margins on all potential new traffic; sell surplus land; and convert selected freight-rate contracts to payments in U.S. dollars if shippers' commodities are sold in U.S. dollars.


BC Rail also plans to cut costs and improve its operating ratio from about 80 to below 75 by rationalizing low-density branch lines, raising velocity, right-sizing its rail-car fleet and implementing fuel-saving technology.


The railroad doesn't anticipate any capital expenditures exceeding $50 million during the three years. However, if a new OSB plant opens in Fort St. John, B.C., the regional plans to purchase a dedicated box-car fleet for $55 million — if the railroad obtains a transportation contract.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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