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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BTS' latest U.S. rail stats show promise


U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics' (BTS) latest "Transportation Indicators" report offers some encouraging news for the nation's railroads.

Rail labor productivity (measured in train-miles per employee hour) in May reached 1.63, rising almost 12 percent compared with May 2001's 1.46 — the highest productivity level in the last 12 years, according to BTS' report released Sept. 11.

In terms of July producer prices for rail transportation services, freight rail's price index reached 106.0, increasing 2.4 percent compared with a 103.5 index in July 2001; trailer on flat car's index hit 104.8, rising 1.5 percent compared with July 2001's 103.2; and non-trailer on flat car's index came in at 106.2, up 2.5 percent compared with July 2001's 103.6.

Meanwhile, railroads' equipment costs remained relatively flat, as July's 109.2 price index for all rail equipment increased only 0.2 percent compared with July 2001's 108.9. However, new passenger and freight cars July price index reached 116.6, rising 0.5 percent, and locomotives and parts index hit 103.5, up 1.4 percent compared with July 2001.

Safety figures also showed improvement: Railroads in May reported 33 crossing fatalities, decreasing nearly 11 percent compared with 37 fatalities in May 2001; 231 highway-rail incidents, down 8.7 percent compared with May 2001's 253; and 1,075 accidents and incidents, dropping 12.5 percent compared with May 2001's 1,228.

However, railroads in May also reported 57 rail fatalities, which rose 9.6 percent compared with May 2001's 52, BTS said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/12/2002