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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Freight transportation industry can expect slow economic recovery, FTR event stresses


The economy has bottomed out for the freight transportation industry, but recovery will be slow and uneven. That’s the message presenters delivered late last month at the FTR Associates Freight Transportation conference.

Held Aug. 25-27 in Indianapolis and organized by transportation forecasting firm FTR Associates, the event provided several economic viewpoints from among more than 170 attendees and speakers, including representatives from the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, freight carriers, shippers and suppliers.

Among the perspectives:
• “subdued” consumer spending will slow the recovery’s pace, leading to continued high unemployment and suggesting a gradual growth in freight volumes;
• freight transportation will continue to be a buyer’s market in the near term as depressed freight volumes and substantial excess capacity will continue to be the rule;
• freight carriers might not reach equilibrium until 2011, unless there’s a more rapid recovery than expected; and
• both rail and motor carrier equipment sales are projected to lag the improvement in freight volumes and recover very slowly, likely not reaching the peak 2006 levels for a decade or more.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/14/2009