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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Quarterly rail-car orders, deliveries validate a rebound, ARCI says


North American rail-car orders and deliveries are off to a good start in 2003, based on first-quarter figures released May 1 by the American Railway Car Institute Committee (ARCI) of Railway Supply Institute Inc. Orders increased to 11,767 compared with 8,712 in the fourth quarter and 2,637 in first-quarter 2002, while deliveries rose to 6,614 compared with 4,801 in the fourth quarter and 3,855 in first-quarter 2002.

The quarterly car-order spike was fueled by increased demand for box cars (1,250 on order), aluminum open-top hoppers (1,569), gondolas (1,344) and flat cars (1,075).

"The continued increase in new orders provides verification that the industry down-cycle bottomed out in 2002, and that freight-car builders will continue to see gains in orders and deliveries in 2003 and beyond," said ARCI spokesman Tom Simpson in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, the industry's car backlog also increased in the first quarter, reaching 24,055 — nearly four times first-quarter 2002's 6,443 backlog — compared with 18,042 in the fourth quarter, 14,491 in the third quarter and 9,281 in the second quarter.

The rail-car industry desperately has been awaiting a rebound. Since 1998, when deliveries reached 75,000, output has decreased steadily. Last year, the industry produced 17,714 cars — the fewest since 1987.

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