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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Rail-car builders' doldrums might cease and desist in 2003, ARCI says

In 2002, North American rail-car builders produced 17,714 cars — the industry's lowest output since 1987, according to recently released data from American Railway Car Institute Committee (ARCI) of Railway Supply Institute.

However, car builders delivered 4,801 units in the fourth quarter — less than industry observers' forecasted level, but somewhat more than the industry's output earlier in the year, ARCI said.

And 2002 car orders increased 43 percent to 28,457 compared with 2001, with two-thirds of the orders coming in the year's last half. Demand nearly doubled for tank, box and non-intermodal flat cars.

Because of more incoming orders, the industry's down cycle might have bottomed out last year, ARCI said. (Car builders' production has decreased steadily since 1998, when the companies delivered more than 75,000 units.)

And output should continue to improve in 2003 because the car backlog more than doubled last year to 18,402 compared with 2001, ARCI said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/28/2003