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10/8/2004



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Flourishing rail-car market a 'bellwether' of economic growth, Frankel says



Yesterday, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Emil Frankel toured The Greenbrier Cos.' Gunderson rail-car plant in Portland, Ore., which produced more than 4,700 cars in fiscal-year 2004 compared with 3,800 cars in FY2003.

The facility now employs about 1,200 people — hundreds more compared with the Gunderson plant's workforce level the past several years.

"The transportation sector is a bellwether of an improving economy," said Frankel in a prepared statement. "Gunderson has added 300 jobs over the last few years to keep up with new orders."

First-half car orders already have surpassed the total number of orders in 2002 and the current car backlog of 51,400 units is the highest since 1998. Greenbrier — which produces about a quarter all ordered cars — recently reported a backlog of 14,300 units.

"The thriving business at Gunderson is a story we are seeing repeated around the country," said Frankel. "The growing U.S. economy has railroads scrambling for freight cars to haul goods worth billions of dollars to market."


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