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Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends

5/6/2005



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Most Class Is' service metrics not showing much improvement, Smith Barney/Citigroup says



Through 2005’s first 17 weeks ending April 29, the U.S. Class Is still were struggling to increase average system velocity while the Canadian large roads remained ahead of last year’s average train speeds, according to Smith Barney/Citigroup's ground transportation research report.

Average velocity stood at 24.5 mph for Kansas City Southern, down 10.2 percent; 24.0 mph for BNSF Railway Co., down 6.5 percent; 19.4 mph for CSX Transportation, down 6.4 percent; 21.8 mph for Norfolk Southern Corp., down 6.1 percent; 21.3 mph for Union Pacific Railroad, down 2.8 percent; 24.6 mph for Canadian National Railway Co., up 3.4 percent and 24.5 mph for Canadian Pacific Railway, up 1.1 percent compared with 2004’s first 17 weeks.

“[CSXT’s] average train speed has declined for two consecutive weeks, which in and of itself isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, however … average train speed now stands at its lowest level since June 2004 — an unfavorable development for a railroad that was expected to see an operational turnaround in 2005,” said Smith Barney/Citigroup Managing Director and Progressive Railroading columnist Scott Flower in the report. “[BNSF’s] average train speeds have declined in seven of the past nine weeks, resulting in speeds that stand 6.5 percent below those of last year.”

Excluding UP, all the Class Is continue to operate more cars on line compared with last year. Through 17 weeks, KCS’ cars on line increased 7.6 percent to 27,405 units; NS’, 6.7 percent to 195,345 units; CPR’s, 3.5 percent to 69,560 units; BNSF’s, 3.4 percent to 202,337 units; CSXT’s, 1.4 percent to 234,283 units; and CN’s, 0.1 percent to 113,948 units. UP’s cars on line dropped 0.9 percent to 320,733 units.

UP also is one of two Class Is — the other, CN — to reduce average terminal dwell times on a year-over-year basis. Through 17 weeks, UP's average (based on 13 terminals) of 28.9 hours dropped 3.9 percent and CN's (nine terminals) average of 14.1 hours decreased 4.5 percent compared with 2004’s first 17 weeks. CSXT's average (based on 12 terminals) rose 9.7 percent to 30.0 hours; NS’ (14 terminals) went up 7.1 percent to 24.4 hours; CPR’s (nine terminals) increased 6.1 percent to 34.2 hours; KCS’ (four terminals) rose 2.7 percent to 27.6 hours; and BNSF's (11 terminals) went up 1.4 percent to 9.9 hours.

“Year to date, CPR’s terminal dwell times have deteriorated 6.1 percent,” said Flower. “However, we believe the company’s Integrated Operating Plan will aid operational performance in the weeks ahead.”


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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