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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Class Is make 'modest' strides with service metrics, Smith Barney/Citigroup says


Thirty weeks into 2005, the Class Is are slowly beginning to improve their service metrics on a year-over-year basis — albeit “modest” improvements, according to Smith Barney/Citigroup's latest ground transportation research report.

During the period ending July 29, average velocity stood at 23.5 mph for Kansas City Southern, down 11.7 percent; 23.8 mph for BNSF Railway Co., down 5.9 percent; 21.9 mph for Norfolk Southern Corp., down 4.9 percent; 19.4 mph for CSX Transportation, down 3.8 percent; and 21.3 mph for Union Pacific Railroad, down 2.1 percent compared with 2004’s first 30 weeks. Average train speeds of 25.3 mph for Canadian National Railway Co. and 24.5 mph for Canadian Pacific Railway rose 4.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Excluding CN and UP, all the Class Is continue to operate more cars on line compared with the same 2004 period. Through 30 weeks, KCS’ cars on line increased 9.4 percent to 27,574 units; NS’, 6.4 percent to 194,317 units; CPR’s, 3.1 percent to 68,975 units; BNSF’s, 3.0 percent to 205,254 units; and CSXT’s, 0.5 percent to 234,646 units. UP’s and CN’s cars on line
decreased 1.0 percent to 319,891 units and 0.9 percent to 111,341 units, respectively.

Meanwhile, CN, UP and KCS continue to make strides in reducing average terminal dwell times. Through 30 weeks, CN’s system-wide average of 13.5 hours dropped 7.1 percent, UP's average of 28.5 hours decreased 6.2 percent and KCS’ average of 26.0 hours fell 3.6 percent compared with 2004’s first 30 weeks.

“Over the last four weeks, UP’s average dwell time is down 6 percent on a year-over-year basis,” said Smith Barney/Citigroup Managing Director and Progressive Railroading columnist Scott Flower in the report. “Declining average dwell time in Texas terminals seem to be driving efficiency gains at UP.”

BNSF’s average terminal dwell time held steady at 10.0 hours. NS’, CSXT's and CPR’s averages of 23.8 hours, 30.0 hours and 30.8 hours, respectively, rose 6.1 percent, 5.9 percent and 1.8 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/4/2005