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Typical seasonal declines were readily apparent in crosstie purchases and production figures for September. Compared with August levels, purchases plummeted 20.4 percent to 1.97 million units and production tumbled 8.5 percent to 1.75 million units, according to the Railway Tie Association (RTA). The inventory-to-sales ratio declined slightly.Third-quarter activity was strong, however. Tie purchases rose 4.2 percent to 6.6 million units and tie production climbed 7.7 percent to 5.4 million units compared with second-quarter levels.Through 2013's first nine months, purchases — which had lagged for several months — pulled even with year-ago levels to about 18.6 million units, RTA officials in a monthly market report. But production slid 17 percent to 16 million units. Since peaking in January, tie inventories dropped 16 percent by September's end to 16.8 million units, RTA officials said.Meanwhile, 12-month rolling data showed production was down 13 percent (at 21.9 million units) and purchases were down 1.3 percent (at 23.1 million units) compared with year-ago levels. The inventory-to-sales ratio dropped from 0.89 at 2013's beginning to 0.73 in September.