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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

'Twas the season: Tie purchases and production dipped in December


Crosstie production exceeded purchases for most of 2012, including December. Production that month totaled 1.7 million units, down 10 percent, and purchases totaled 1.4 million units, down 1 percent compared with November levels, according to the Railway Tie Association's (RTA) latest market report.

Both production and purchases exhibited typical seasonal slow downs in December, the report states. Conversely, tie inventories rose 1.8 percent to 19.4 million units and the inventory-to-sales ratio edged up from November's 0.83 to 0.84.

In the fourth quarter, tie production fell 13 percent to 5.9 million units and purchases plummeted 21 percent to 4.6 million units versus third-quarter levels. But compared with fourth-quarter 2011 figures, production increased 1.7 percent while purchases declined 7 percent, RTA officials said in the report.

Meanwhile, 12-month rolling totals showed that tie production (at 25.3 million units) broke a long upward trend in 2012's final two months, the report states. Nonetheless, production's annual pace remained a "positive" 11 percent, RTA officials said. Purchases (23 million units) — which had peaked in July — were growing at a 6.4 percent annual rate and inventories rose more than 12 percent over the 12-month period.