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October 2013

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

RailTrends 2013 preview - by Tony Hatch


— by Tony Hatch

The tagline for the 2013 edition of Progressive Railroading's RailTrends® conference in New York City, to be held Nov. 21-22, is "Securing Rail's Role in a New Energy & Manufacturing Era." It summarizes what I think is the emerging theme in what will be the second half of the "railroad renaissance" — efforts by the railroads to exploit their renewed natural advantages and by their customers to take advantage of the new energy world. Those efforts will lead to significant new growth opportunities by the second half of this decade.

How will the rails adapt in the dynamic, rapidly changing world? RailTrends 2013 features many of the folks who are making decisions that will bridge the industry's way from today's slow-growth economy to tomorrow's revitalized industrial nation (continent). We've got true star power this year, including six carrier CEOs and an heir-apparent, led by Progressive Railroading's 2013 Railroad Innovator Award winner Wick Moorman, chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern; three trade association leaders; and representatives from the two most important rail regulatory bodies. And did I mention Hunter Harrison, who'll talk about the whirlwind changes at Canadian Pacific?

In addition to the CEOs of CP and NS, the RailTrends 2013 lineup features NS' next CEO and current President Jim Squires — he'll discuss "Industry Changes in the New Energy & Manufacturing Environments." We'll examine the global renaissance, as Lance Hockridge, the dynamic CEO of Australia's largest and newest publicly traded railway Aurizon, offers his thoughts — it's a not-to-be-missed productivity-plus-growth story. This year's short-line panel includes the CEOs of two carriers with significant exposure to Australia: Watco (Rick Webb) and Genesee & Wyoming (Jack Hellmann); it also features Indiana Rail Road President and CEO Tom Hoback. Other highlights: CSX VP and Chief Transportation Officer Cindy Sanborn will talk about the structural changes fueling the Class I's emergence as a world-class railway; and Kansas City Southern Senior VP of Intermodal and Automotive Brian Bowers will discuss Mexican growth opportunities.

Washington Capitalized

Although the re-reg threat appears to be in hibernation, in reality it has changed venues — from Congress to the Surface Transportation Board. What happens in D.C. on a daily basis also is critical. Accordingly, Ed Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads and the dean of the transport lobby, will be with us. He'll join American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association President Richard Timmons, Railway Supply Institute President Tom Simpson and National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association President Chuck Baker on our annual "President's Panel." We'll also receive updates from STB Chairman Dan Elliott and Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Karen Hedlund.

Crude By Rail & Context

Nothing is growing faster than crude-by-rail (CBR), helping to compensate for the troubled coal traffic while waiting on the industrial revival. I have just returned from the Bakken and will address the subject in my remarks, but we also have two fantastic experts: PLG Consulting CEO Graham Brisben (on whom I rely tremendously); and Stuart Nance, vice president of marketing for Bill Barrett Corp., a North American oil and natural gas exploration and production company.

One of the critical issues in CBR is tank cars (new regs? Glut or shortage?), and they'll be addressed, along with other rail-car topics, by Rail Theory Forecasts' Toby Kolstad (as well as the D.C. panelists). RailTrends platinum sponsor Oliver Wyman will be represented by partner Rodney Case. On our "Analysts' Take on the New Energy World" panel, I will be joined by Avondale Partners' Donald Broughton, who relishes a good argument as much as I do. Broughton also will join FTR Associates Senior Consultant Larry Gross on a panel dedicated to truckload issues. Also on the speakers' list: Greenbriar Equity Group's John Anderson.

Big names, big topics, big city. Please join me at RailTrends 2013 in NYC in November!

Tony Hatch is an independent transportation analyst and consultant, and a program consultant for Progressive Railroading's RailTrends® conference. Email him at


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