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In March, crosstie purchases skyrocketed 66.2 percent from February's level to 2.5 million units while production rose 15 percent to 1.6 million units, according to the Railway Tie Association's (RTA) monthly market report.On a year-over-year basis, purchases climbed 14.2 percent but production declined 4.8 percent. Inventories at March's end stood at 17.1 million units versus 17.9 million units on Feb. 28, and the inventory-to-sales ratio fell from 0.73 in February to 0.69 in March.In the first quarter, production decreased 15.6 percent to 4.6 million units while purchases increased 3.9 percent to 5.8 million units compared with first-quarter 2013 data.Meanwhile, 12-month rolling data shows purchases — which have been on an upswing for almost a year — reached 24.9 million units in the period and now are climbing at an annual rate of 10.7 percent, RTA officials said in the report. Production totaled 20.5 million units in the period and continued to erode, showing a decrease of 17 percent from its year-ago level, they said.