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October 2011

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Preview: RailTrends 2011 - by Tony Hatch


All tracks lead to New York City and RailTrends® 2011, which will be held Nov. 1-2 at the W New York Hotel. This year's summit will be our best ever. Our theme, even in these uncertain times, is growth. The rail industry's most eclectic and encompassing financial conference will focus on strategic opportunities for the future.

As ever, we will cover the basics — D.C., rail cars, the view (several, actually) from Wall Street. But we'll also explore some of the industry's hottest commodities and non-traditional regions. And we'll hear from true innovators who continue to champion growth in rail volume and share. Our Day One keynoter and Railroad Innovator Award winner, Kansas City Southern (KCS) Executive Chairman Mike Haverty, was the driver of the modern domestic intermodal industry (via the Santa Fe-J.B. Hunt alliance) while he was the Santa Fe's CEO. Mike also was the creator of the modern Mexican rail opportunity with KCS, a double play that makes his speech perfectly suited for this summit. (For more of my thoughts on Mike, click here).

From D.C. To Wall Street

As usual, we'll offer a glimpse into the goings on in D.C., a central influence on railways for good (PPPs, etc.) or less good (the ongoing, if diminished, regulatory arguments) or both (the infrastructure deficit). We are delighted that U.S. Rep. John Mica — chairman of the all-powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and point man charged with getting a transportation bill passed — will join us. Providing perspective from the regulatory front? Dan Elliott, chair of the STB (where all the action is these days) and Joe Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (where the PTC "story" resides). Also joining us with D.C. views are Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ed Hamberger, National Industrial Transportation League President and CEO Bruce Carlton, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association President Richard Timmons, and Railway Supply Institute President Tom Simpson.

Meanwhile, my partners at Miller Tabak, including co-CEO Jeff Tabak and Erin O'Reilly of Strategic Stock Surveillance, will discuss "Market Intelligence: Rail Investing." Toby Kolstad, of Rail Theory Forecasts, will talk rail-car markets. And UBS Corp.'s Rick Paterson, J.P. Morgan's Tom Wadewitz and yours truly will serve on our annual Wall Street analysts' panel.

RailTrends' focus on growth covers the marketing side of some of the hottest commodities and regions in transportation. John Lanigan, BNSF's EVP-chief marketing officer, can talk about the fastest growth engine in railroading, and the railway's investments in growth in intermodal and grain, among other sectors.

Speaking of intermodal: We're offering a dynamite panel with a domestic focus, featuring Mike McClellan (VP-intermodal and automotive at Norfolk Southern), Brian McDonald (VP intermodal marketing at Union Pacific) and Adam Bridges (ex-CSX Intermodal, now at TRAC Intermodal). Hosting the session: Intermodal Association of North America VP Policy and Communications Tom Malloy.

From Grain to Intermodal

Grain is also a huge rail opportunity. Accordingly, joining us are Kendell Keith, president of the National Grain and Feed Association, and Stephen Whitney, VP of Marketing and Sales - Agribusiness & Market Development at Canadian Pacific — which has growth potential both domestically and in exports. KCS, too, has grain and intermodal in its growth sights in Mexico and cross-border traffic, a topic EVP - Sales and Marketing Pat Ottensmeyer will address.

Florida East Coast Railway CEO Jim Hertwig is creating a unique intermodal strategy that he'll share with us, and Genesee & Wyoming CEO Jack Hellmann will discuss his company's growth strategy here and abroad. Some might not think of chief operating officers as growth focused (that is marketing's job, right?), but it has been CN's creation and exploitation of the "precision railroad" that has been the railway's central development to service-led growth. CN EVP-COO Keith Creel, a rising star in the industry, will share his views. Finally, Oliver Wyman's John Larew will discuss "dynamic risk management."

The "railroad renaissance" is alive and well. Whatever happens near term to the North American economy, the rail industry is growing. At RailTrends 2011, you'll find out how and where.

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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