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7/22/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Freight-car orders continue to surge in second quarter, ARCI says



North American rail-car orders and deliveries continued to pick up during the second quarter, challenging freight-car builders to serve a market that's been on ice for five years.

For the quarter, new freight-car orders increased to 16,693 compared with 6,973 in the same 2002 period — a 139.8 percent increase, according to statistics released July 18 by Railway Supply Institute Inc.'s American Railway Car Institute Committee (ARCI).

For the year's first six months, new-car orders totaled 28,460 — the highest total since 1998 and a 198 percent increase compared with the 9,610 orders for the same period last year. Demand for a range of cars, including box, aluminum gondola cars for coal, and intermodal/non-intermodal flats, is driving the order increase, ARCI said.

Deliveries rose to 7,365, a 77.3 percent increase compared with the 4,155 delivered during the same 2002 period. During the first quarter, 6,614 cars were delivered. Meanwhile, the backlog of cars ordered but not yet delivered continued to increase: As of June 30, the backlog stood at 33,383, up from 24,055 in the first quarter.

"The continued increase in orders and deliveries for new freight cars is gratifying," said ARCI spokesman Tom Simpson in a prepared statement. "This current trend represents a significant improvement, and we are hopeful that, as the economy improves, the demand for all freight car types will improve, as well."


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