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Amid stay-at-home orders, supply-chain interruptions and ominous economic projections from those bold enough to make them, we went to press with our April edition, which includes our 19th annual MOW Spending Report.
While the report features a wealth of infrastructure maintenance program and project information, and serves as a comprehensive overview for work North American railroads planned to complete this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has done a number on this year’s spending numbers. Just how big a number remains to be seen. Observers are struggling to come up with apt characterizations or comparisons to put the still-deepening crisis into meaningful perspectives.
“A better way to look at this is 10 simultaneous hurricanes in the United States … and the destruction that follows,” said FTR Intel Chief Strategy Officer Clay Slaughter during a COVID-19 webinar FTR conducted on March 26. “How many businesses won’t reopen? How much permanent or semi-permanent disruptions will there be?”
With hurricanes, freight’s affected dramatically for a couple weeks, then “there’s a tail,” as Slaughter put it, of 60 to 90 days. “There’s a concrete beginning and end,” he said. Not so with COVID-19. States’ responses to the spread of the disease have varied widely. We’ll “see very large regional differences” in impacts, and a series of not-so-concrete endings, Slaughter said.
The when of these endings will vary, as well. None will come soon. As independent transportation analyst and Progressive Railroading columnist and independent transportation analyst Tony Hatch put it in an April 1 message to clients: “Slowly, in many things, from economic recovery to sports, folks are beginning to whisper ‘2021.’”
What are you starting to whisper? How are you preparing? What are you doing to keep your people (and organization) healthy and safe?
We’re here for your stories. We’ll check in on (and with) you, but also let us know how you’re doing. We’ll also continue to report what we know — check our Daily News for the latest updates.
Due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Secure Rail Conference has been rescheduled. Originally slated for April 21-22, the event will be held Aug. 25-26 at the same venue: the DoubleTree-Magnificent Mile in Chicago.
Attendee registrations and sponsors will automatically transfer to the new August event dates. For additional information, visit securerailconference.com.
Presented by Progressive Railroading, Secure Rail’s mission is to bridge the gap between the future of rail technology and rail security. The conference also addresses cyber security tactics and risk assessment, physical security best practices, passenger-rail security technologies and ways to minimize revenue loss due to fare evasion.