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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Casting crunch drags down quarterly rail-car orders, ARCI says


After several quarters of gains, rail-car orders declined in the third quarter nearly 60 percent compared with the second quarter and 35 percent compared with third-quarter 2002, according to the American Railway Car Institute (ARCI) of the Railway Supply Institute.

Third-quarter car orders totaled 6,726 compared with 16,693 in the second quarter, 11,767 in the first quarter, 8,712 in fourth-quarter 2002 and 10,135 in third-quarter 2002. However, demand remained strong during the quarter for box, aluminum gondola, non-articulated platform and tank cars.

"[The quarterly car-order downturn] may reflect concern on the part of rail-car purchasers regarding the continued difficulty manufacturers are experiencing in securing the quantity and quality of castings required," said ARCI spokesman Tom Simpson in a prepared statement.

Through 2003's first nine months, car orders totaled 35,186 compared with 19,745 during the same 2002 period.

Third-quarter car deliveries increased 12 percent to 8,251 compared with 7,365 in the second quarter. Car deliveries previously totaled 6,614, 4,801 and 4,925 in the first quarter, and fourth and third quarters of 2002, respectively. The quarterly car backlog fell to 31,858 compared with 33,383 in the second quarter.

"New freight-car orders could reach nearly 40,000 and deliveries may reach almost 30,000 by the end of the year if casting-supply constraints abate," said Simpson.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/22/2003