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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

RTA report: Tie production picks up in March, but still lags behind purchases


Crosstie suppliers are beginning to ramp up production to try to keep pace with demand. In March, tie production totaling 1.45 million units rose 14 percent compared with February, according to the Railway Tie Association's (RTA) monthly market report.

However, demand continues to surge. In March, tie purchases totaling 1.75 million units increased 20 percent compared with February. Suppliers’ inventories fell 2 percent to 14.4 million units.

During the first quarter, tie purchases totaling 4.6 million units rose 25.9 percent and 6.5 percent compared with fourth-quarter and first-quarter 2004, respectively. Quarterly tie production of 4 million units — which dropped 2.4 percent below the five-year average — fell 10 percent and 25 percent compared with fourth-quarter and first-quarter 2004, respectively.

During the past 12 months, tie purchases totaled 18 million units and production totaled 18.3 million units, a 0.6 percent increase and 1.2 percent decrease, respectively, compared with February’s 12-month data. March's inventory-to-sales ratio of 0.80 fell 0.01 points compared with February’s 0.81 ratio but rose slightly compared with March 2004's 0.79 ratio.

“Purchases appear to be stabilizing [the past 12 months],” RTA officials said in the report. “Production hit a recent peak of 19.3 million in December, [but] has dropped off.”

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More News from 4/18/2005