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8/27/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

EPA's message to car builders remains: 'Wait until next year'


Economic Planning Associates Inc.'s (EPA) latest prediction for total 2002 North American rail-car deliveries dipped a bit from its 18,100-unit forecast in June. EPA now predicts 18,000 rail-car deliveries, according to its recently released "Outlook for Rail Cars" quarterly report.


Similar to EPA's June forecast, the total would represent the lowest car-delivery level since 1987.


On a positive note, second-quarter car orders outpaced deliveries, and car backlogs rose from 6,443 units in March to 9,281 units in June — the first increase since 1998.


EPA expects car deliveries to rise to 30,000 units in 2003 because an improving economy will increase carloadings and pressure fleet owners to expand and/or replace their equipment.


As food, beverage and chemical exports pick up in late 2003, demand should spike for grain and certain tank cars, and high-cube covered hoppers, EPA says.


And aging box cars, increasing light-vehicle production, surging construction activity and improving liquid-commodity moves will spur demand after 2003 for box, multi-level flat, bulkhead flat, aggregate, centerbeam and tank cars, as well as covered hoppers.


Based on those factors, EPA officials believe car deliveries will jump to 42,000 units in 2004 and steadily increase to 59,500 units by 2007.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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