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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Tie purchases, production make hay in March, RTA says


After declining from September to February, crosstie purchases rebounded in a big way in March. Purchases skyrocketed 85 percent to nearly 2 million units vs. February’s total, according to the Railway Tie Association’s (RTA) monthly tie market report.

Tie production also “appears to have been stimulated,” rising 50 percent in March to 1.3 million units, RTA said. In addition, the inventory-to-sales ratio fell from February’s 1.02 to 0.98.

“Inventories are moving to a better balance, having been trimmed by about 900,000 ties in the last two months,” the report states.

In the first quarter, production volume reached 3.3 million units, only about half of first-quarter 2009’s level. Purchases totaled 4.2 million units, about 75 percent off first-quarter 2009’s level, but up 31 percent from fourth-quarter 2009’s count, RTA said.

Meanwhile, 12-month rolling data shows purchases “appear to have broken out of a year-long slide” by stabilizing at 18.2 million units, the report states. Production totaling 18.8 million units fell 15 percent and inventories totaling 17.8 million units rose 3 percent.