Welcome, Week in Review Reader


Welcome, Week in Review reader!

We are transitioning to a new format for Week in Review as part of our migration to a new internet service provider. Week in Review subscribers will be able to use their password to access the more recent content. (Content is password protected for 6-9 months, depending on how quickly we update.)

The legacy public archives (1996-2018) are at their old location:


WIR: Fourth Quarter 2021

[No Week in Review December 31 — happy new year!]

Week ending December 24
R. J. Corman Memphis Line wins Railway Age Short Line of the Year award; Lake State Railway wins Regional RR of the year; Honorable Mentions to Grenada Railroad and Belpre Industrial Parkersburg Railroad. Reader feedback on Shortlines’ winning ways. Watco gets former Wisconsin Central properties.

Week ending December 17
Update on what WIR is and is not; what to expect on 2022. US revenue units are trending down and share buybacks are trending up — any relationship? Alan Shaw responds to STB service inquiry; what to look for in 2022 based on his most recent analyst presentation.

Week ending December 10
Some cautionary words about inflation. Why Norfolk Southern promoting Alan Shaw to President and CEO is an excellent move. RIP Dick Hasselman,

Week ending December 3
RailTrends on what the railroads CAN BE for customers as opposed to repeating the same mistakes for years. The CP-KCS merger now has the blessings of the STB. RailUSA properties sold to Macquarie Asset Management. Hail and farewell: Shaw to succeed Squires at NS; CSX loses Mark Wallace to cancer.

[No Week in Review November 26 — Thanksgiving Weekend]

Week ending November 19
Shortline and regional railroad merchandise carloads (total units less coal, auto, intermodal) for September, 2021, increased ten percent; AAR merchandise units increased only four percent. Non-Class I September commodities; AAR comps. Rio Grande Pacific Tech is teams up with Cedar AI for advanced transportation management systems. Home Depot, Loews report strong quarters; RRs can benefit with increased tonnage of building materials and other discretionary items for the home where they are reliable and cost-effective. Metals market summary.

Week ending November 12
BNSF third quarter revenue increased 12 percent year-over-year to $5.8 billion as freight revenues increased ten percent to $5.4 billion, led by double-digit gains in the industrial, coal, and consumer products groups. Norfolk Southern took the honors in four of the six operating metrics I follow for the Big Six Class Is. Canadian National is buying a Wabtec “FLXdrive” battery-electric locomotive for use on the Bessemer & Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. How disruptive technology can change the commodity carload model — a biggie that springs first to mind is housing, particularly with respect to dimensional lumber, plywood panels, and sheet rock.

Week ending November 5
NS gets safety warning from FRA: cites T&E injuries and demands copy of new “conductor certification program.” Knowing where the economy is likely headed — table of S&P performance by commodity past and projected. Comments on CP’s Oct 29 Application for control of KCS; emphasizes “single system” operation and benefits accruing to costumers.

Week ending October 29
NS total revenue increased 14 percent to $2.9 billion; revenue units were unchanged at 1.8 million, operations slide. Expect to see crude oil prices continue their upward trend; sample Class I fuel prices paid. Encouraging signs for more carloads of frac sand, coal, fertilizer. Anacostia Rail Holdings appoints Advisory Board of four established RR pros.

Week ending October 22
Five of the seven NA Class Is reporting Q3 earnings checked in this week. I listened to all the calls, downloaded all the slides and financials, and ran the comps. I’d say jobs well done across the board. In order of presentation…

  • KCS total revenue was $744 mm, up 13%, on 560,400 revenue units, down 3%; merchandise carloads increased half a point to 267,800.
  • CN total revenue increased 5% to C$3.6 bn on 1.4 mm revenue units, off a point; merch carloads dipped a point to 669,000.
  • CP total revenue increased 4% to C$1.9 bn; rev units up a point to 665,000; operating income slipped 60 basis points to C$774 mm and the operating ratio added two points to a still-respectable 60.1.
  • CSX freight revenue was $2.9 bn, up 12%, on 1.6 mm revenue units, up 3%; RPU increased 9% to $1,823.
  • UP revenue increased 12% to $5.6 bn on flat volumes; operating income was $2.4 bn, up 20%, as ops expense was held to a 9% gain.

Week ending October 15
Third quarter results will be revealed over the next two weeks; to set the scene I ran some comps of the Big Four US Class Is — see table. Comparing reported US Class I average revenue per unit increases over five years. Why global efforts to curtail oil consumption in the name of climate change are actually increasing oil prices; can railroads leverage their inherent fuel cost advantages? How the global supply chain problems we’ve been reading about may be easing.

Week ending October 8
The industries that are most apt to use the Class I railroads have yet to regain their 2017 volumes of output per the AAR; non-Class s to the rescue? Coal continues to represent roughly seven percent of all short line revenue units; why I see a distinct opportunity for that to increase in the not too distant future. Coal price chart.

Week ending October 1
Cass truckload spot pricing and implications for railroads. AAR industrial production exhibit. A reader builds on the Wayne Gretzky thread. Railroads spurn coal revenue; why it’s ethically wrong and incredibly short-sighted.

WIR: Third Quarter 2021

Week ending September 24
Industrial activity as a leading indicator of railroad carload trends. Cost of inventory as a factor in choosing transportation modes. Why truck shares lead in a soft market for transportation services. Shipper complaints about railroad service. Think like Wayne Gretsky.

Week ending September 17
What the KCS acceptance the CP offer says about KCS. What the CP acceptance of their offer to purchase KCS says about CP. What the candid comments of STB Chairman Martin Oberman say about the board’s future views on mergers and acquisition’s and the very close eye the STB will be keeping on future transactions of this ilk.

Week ending September 10
Context on the STB decision on the CN Voting Trust: There’s the decision language in itself, STB Chair Oberman’s earlier letter on the role of the STB,   and his remarks at recent RR industry conferences. Then there’s the Board’s language in the CSX/PAR and CN/CSX Massena Line proceedings. Can this be a “new” STB?

[no Week in Review September 3]

Week ending August 27
CSX Executive VP Mark Wallace submits his Supplemental Verified Statement on the PAR-CSX transaction; excerpts. One reason to watch financial TV programming is to say ahead of the sectors that could have an effect on railroad carloads; examples and rationale.

Week ending August 20
The Anderson’s, Inc., is selling its railcar leasing business to American Industrial Transport (AIT) for about $550 million in cash. FreightCar America seems to have turned a corner; Q2 results and outlook much improved. The state of Kansas Shortline Rail Improvement Fund program doling out $5 million to short lines and shippers. KCS postpones special shareholder meeting on merger to Sep 3. AAR North American Rail Traffic increased 10.3 percent over the corresponding Week 32 total a year ago.

Week ending August 13
Twelve North Carolina short lines to divvy up more than $10 million in matching grant funds for facilities up-grade projects. Canadian Pacific ups the ante for KCS after market close Monday; KCS Board sticking with CN? BNSF Q2 revenue increases 26 percent to $5.5 billion on 25 percent more revenue units.

Week ending August 6
Observations concerning the AAR Week 30 revenue unit stats; merch carloads ex-auto up 8%. The STB has been busy — the KCS transaction and the CSX/Pan Am Rail combination. “Creative destruction” and “disruptive technology” in the railroad context. Why PSR as practiced by the US railroads gives the concept a bad name.

Week ending July 30
The Agricultural Transportation Working Group (ATWG) makes its displeasure about the KCS transaction known; CSX responds. Peter DeFazio, Chair of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has filed a letter with the STB taking exception to the CN Voting Trust in the KCS transaction. NS reports total Q2 revenue of $2.8 billion, up 34 percent, on 1.8 million revenue units, up 26 percent. CP reports Q2 total revenue units and freight revenue increased 15 percent, the former to 723,500 units and the latter to C$2 billion.

Week ending July 23
KCS 2Q2021 freight revenue up 39% percent to $712 mm; several commodity lines post strong double-digit gains. CN handles 1.5 mm revenue units, up 14%; merch carloads including automotive up 10% with significant gains in mets/mins, automotive, petroleum/chemicals, and forest products. CSX freight revenue up 32% to $2.8 billion on 1.6 million revenue units; merchandise carloads including automotive up 21%. UP total revenue unit count increases 29% to 2.1 mm; total freight revenues increase 29% to 5.1 billion.

Week ending July 16
Mostly commentary on Biden’s Executive Order on competition, etc. Some observations on how short lines ands regionals could be affected.

Week ending July 9
CSX amends its STB filing for the Pan Am Rail acquisition; public benefits cited. Reading & Northern gets control of 19-mile line segment; now owns entire through route between Reading and Scranton. Why railcar leasing is a “mature” industry; we do the math. How non-Class I railroads create customers by offering durable competitive advantages.

WIR Second Quarter 2021

Week ending June 25
Canadian Pacific seeks STB declaratory order for more KCS info; Board declines. Why “open gateways” are a big deal. CSX merch carloads trending up YTD. Amtrak fighting Class I freight lines over access. What Class Is ought to be from a shoreline point of view.

Week ending June 18
Why the shortline or regional railroad operator has a vested interest in the future health of his interchange railroad; the relationship between Class I valuation and behavior. The benefits of looking for new customers beyond trackside. Lancaster & Chester wins major Gallo project.

Week ending June 11
Obfuscation is a waste of time and annoying. When you read something from or about your favorite railroad you really want to know what’s happening, why, and how it’s going to affect your customers; two examples. American chemistry council letter to the STB; examples of what may be behind it. STB sets timetable for Canadian National voting trust question in the KCS transaction.

Week ending June 4
I get the feeling the STB is losing patience with the Class Is; STB Chairman Oberman’s letter. Shortline reports of Class I missteps impacting their customers. STP expectations for Filings. KCS short lines and CN, CP.

[No Week in Review May 28 — Memorial Day]

Week ending May 21
KCS is going with CN’s offer of $325 per share total consideration; the question of timing is important. Why comparing the relative importance of various commodities to Class Is and their feeder railroads can be instructive; table. Can the carload sector be subsidizing the intermodal side of the house?

Week ending May 14
Why Q1 earnings calls were particularly instructive; share price vs “margin of safety.” Too much money chasing too few goods; graph. CSX to acquire Quality Carriers to expand bulk distribution network; feeder line benefits. KCS goes with CN for $325 per share.
Week ending May 7
BNSF first quarter results; importance of the lumber trade, access to Mexico. UP Investor Day a winner; feeder railroad role in helping Kenny Rocker achieve his “expand the UP reach” goal.

Week ending April 30
CN Q1 revenue units increased 7% to 1.4 million; merch carloads down 3%. NS Q1 revenue units increased 3% to 1.7 million; merch carloads dropped 3%. NEARS virtual spring meeting brought out once again shippers’ and short lines’ desire to increase revenue units but a combination of Class I railroad service irregularities, increasing rates, and increased demurrage fees due to Class I bunching works against them.

Week ending April 23
CSX in Q1 moved 1.5 million revenue units, up just a point year-over-year, for total freight revenue of $2.7 billion, down three percent vs a year ago; operating income slid seven percent to $1.1 billion, and the operating ratio worsened to 60.9. CP handled in Q1 691,400 revenue units, unchanged, generating freight revenue of C$1.9 billion, down four percent. UP Q1 revenue units were off a point to 1.9 million; total revenues dropped five percent to $5 billion. CN offer for KCS is worth $325 in cash and CN shares vs. CP’s $268 cash and CP shares for each KCS common share; how Conrail shared assets model fits.

Week ending April 16
Five railroad CEOs on the importance of creating customers; making railroads “relevant” again. Cowen customer and car-builder survey results. Boxcars, center-beams, lumber and the housing market. KCS first quarter results; somewhat soft but no cause for alarm.

Week ending April 9
Objections to CP/KCS filing for accelerated process; Union Pacific quite pointed. STB raises threshold for Class I status to $900 million. First quarter AAR revenue units.

Week ending April 2
One key to creating and keeping customers is knowing how their commodities are running — soy beans for example. MassDOT files notice to participate in CSX-Pan Am Rail transaction; scathing critique of original filing. Watco to acquire roughly 900 miles of CN’s “non-core” mileage north and west of Sault Ste. Marie. Grain, paper/pulp, and aggregates continue to dominate the shortline commodity mix; see Railinc Shortline and Regional Traffic Index for January.

WIR First Quarter 2021

Week ending March 26
CP and KCS have agreed that the former will acquire the latter for $25 billion plus debt; the single-line haul from Monterrey to Montreal looks good on paper. The STB has decided the CSX-Pan Am transaction is “significant” and has issued instructions accordingly.

Week ending March 19
The way a chairman begins his review of the previous period’s results is very revealing; it tells one right up front where the company’s focus lies. Vermont Rail System files STB objection to the proposed CSX-PAR combo. There’s an argument going around that higher diesel fuel prices will push truck rates up to the point where rail freight is more attractive; I disagree. Steel products carloads on the mend?

Week ending March 12
There’s life in the single-carload sector — BNSF has reported a surge in scrap metal carloads for openers. Getting to YES. Sanity checking the 20 percent number bandied about as the short line/regional railroad portion of total AAR carloads.

Week ending March 5
CSX files with STB to acquire Pan Am Rail in a cash and stock transaction; GWR subsidiary to operate Pan Am Southern. BNSF fourth quarter revenue units 2.6 million, up 2.6 percent, with double-digit jumps in grains and intermodal; merchandise carloads ex-auto essentially unchanged. The sale of the CSX Massena line to CN (WIR 9/6/2019) may not happen after all; the STB in FD 36347 takes offense at the paper barrier language.

Week ending February 26
The ongoing fuel surcharge litigation may yet be resolved in favor of the shipper; court argues that the railroads’ CFR 49 argument fails. Fred Ehlers on NS technology update; unlocking the data potential power of PTC. Steel users are scrambling for raw materials; trends and portents for RR carloads. BNSF reports Q4and. 2021 YTD tomorrow. FY rev units were off nearly 8%; Q4 units were up 2%.

Week ending February 19
UP’s Precision Train Builder simulation tool can improve competitive position for shortline customers. OmniTRAX short line in Savannah to serve new logistical center. GWR participates in 45 new industrial development projects. BNSF customers invest more than a $billion on new and expanded rail-served sites. Pulpwood business in northern Maine gets new lease on life. Elsewhere, total NA revenue units YTD trailing 2017-2019 averages. CN leads at 4%. UP lags at minus 40 basis points. Color me encouraged.

Week ending February 12
Some thoughts on the rapidly changing price of lumber and the penalties inflected by long transit times; AAR chart. PFL storage report — tank cars and covered hoppers returning to service fastest. Drilling down into the $99 mm “impairment charge” taken by NS in 3Q2020. Watco/Houston teams up with Crawley on off-shore wind-farm project.

Week ending February 5
Norfolk Southern in 2020 won new business from 86 customers in seven states; commodities are all in the merchandise carload sector. RJ Corman Group has tapped former FRA Administrator Ron Batory for its Board of Directors. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) will distribute $6.45 million to seven shortline railroad infrastructure projects; thumbnail of each. CSX gets a “C” or Hold rating on the Schwab Equity Rating scale; why revenue unit CAGR is important.

Week ending January 29
Kansas City Southern reported fourth quarter revenues of $693.4 million, down five percent; revenue units decreased three percent. Canadian National total revenue increased two percent to C$3.7 billion on 1.6 million revenue units, up seven percent; operating income increased four points. Norfolk Southern total revenue for the quarter fell more than four percent to $2.6 billion on 1.8 million revenue units, down 1.2 percent. Canadian Pacific revenue units increased four percent to 727,800 while total revenue slipped three percent to C$2 billion; revenue units increased four percent to 727,800 while total revenue slipped three percent to C$2 billion.

Week ending January 22
Revisiting short lines, regionals, and ISS. UP reports Q4 total revenue of $5.1 billion, down one percent, on 2.1 million revenue units, up three percent. CSX total revenue decreased 2.1 percent to $2.8 billion while revenue units increased 3.9 percent to 1.6 million and system RPU fell 5.6 percent to $1,698. KCS had an admirable Q — details next week.

Week ending January 15
IMHO Class III railroads are responsible for much of the Class I merchandise carload growth; the Big Six are down 7% for the year while some short lines are reporting banner years. Cowen’s Q4 truckload carrier survey is out; railroad marketeers can learn something about the competition from it. The chemicals business that the non-Class I railroads participate in lies mainly in STCC 28, which includes both fertilizers and industrial chemicals; Morningstar reports on both.

Week ending January 8
Week 52 carload reports are in; total NA rev units were down seven percent with only CP and KCS faring slightly better. Share price trends vs railroad financial performance. Rio Grande Pacific unit to lease UP Tennessee Pass line. Why the XLB Materials Sector ETF is important. How Union Pacific installed a new master retarder in Englewood Yard in close to eight hours.

WIR Fourth Quarter 2020

[No Week in Review December 25]

Week in Review December 18
Genesee & Wyoming plans to shut down its Huron Central Railway in Canada in June; carloads are roughly half what they were when they began operations in 1997. Morgan Stanley downgrades CSX on coal yet coal is a rapidly shrinking part of total revs, exactly as CSX has planned. Amazon boxes ride the rails before they are stuffed with goods; Watco’s Eastern Idaho RR handles the raw material for making and assembling the boxes. Alabama Export Railroad wins export plastics transload in Mobile, AL.

Week in Review December 11
New Orleans Gulf Coast Railway (NOGC) wins $8.2 mm CRISI for bridge rehabs and other projects. Louisville & Indiana RR teams up with American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL) to open RiverRail Terminal in Jeffersonville in 2Q2021. North American revenue unit counts for November from the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators. RJ Corman LNG facility in Penna moves forward.

Week in Review December 4
AAR North American revenue units down two percent compared with the same week last year; intermodal units increased 12 percent compared with last year; total Week 47 NA carloads and intermodal boxes were off eight percent vs. a year ago. CSX inks definitive agreement to acquire New England’s Pan Am Railways; no comment on price. Railinc publishing monthly carload commodity tables; link. CP and Hapag-Lloyd extend their Port of Saint John rail service agreement to the end of 2025.

[No Week in Review November 27]

Week ending November 20
Anacostia’ s Pacific Harbor Lines to take delivery of new battery-powered six axle locomotive from Progress/Caterpillar. AAR total North American revenue units for Week 46 ending November 14 declined eight percent year-over-year; merchandise carloads (no coal, auto or intermodal) declined six percent and represented 35 percent of total units. Trying on $700 mm price tag for Pan Am Rail. Kevin Shuba moves up to Broe Group from OmniTRAX CEO. Sometimes you have to look back to look forward — NYC Flexi-Van as model for shortline block-swapping?

Week ending November 13
NS writes the STB to express its concern with what appears to be a discussion between Pan Am Railways and CSX about “establishing a voting trust with regard to the acquisition of Pan Am.” BNSF 3Q revenue $5.2 billionon 2.4 million revenue units, down 8% from last year’s 2.7 million; merchandise carloads down 14% as industrial products dropped 25% and agricultural products gained one percent. Steelmaker Cleveland-Cliffs will acquire all six of ArcelorMittal’s railroads. Wells Fargo railroad analysts host call with former STB Chair Dan Elliot; among the topics discussed were service-related issues and impacts stemming from the election outcome. Following the ownership trail of Pioneer Rail Corp.

Week ending November 6
The Express RRIF program Update (RRIF Express 2.0) announced last week incorporates several changes that will enable more shortline railroads to access the program. CN October grain was more than three million metric tons; CN taking delivery of 1,500 North American-built new generation high-capacity grain hopper cars. Ease of doing business, or the lack thereof, remains a customer complaint about using the railroads. Ohio anthracite met coal transload set up by NorthStar/BlueScope Steel and Pennsylvania’s Reading & Northern. Jaguar Transport Holdings acquire the Marion (Ohio) Industrial Center, CSX serves exclusively.

Week ending October 30
CSX Q3 revenue units were down three percent to 1.5 million and revenues fell 11 percent to $2.6 billion; merch carloads including auto dropped five percent and RPU was off eight percent. Union Pacific Q3 revenue units slipped four percent to 2.0 million but revs were off 11 percent to $4.6 billion due to a seven percent drop in RPU. Norfolk Southern total revenue units were down seven percent to 1.8 million, merchandise including auto saw units fall 11 percent to 551,200; Cindy Sanborn says her top priority is building on the PSR momentum already under way.

Week ending October 23
Starting this quarter I’m changing the emphasis to carloads and commodities and playing down financial results. My reasoning is that short one readers — the target of the letter — live and breathe merch carload trends. KCS Q3 revenue units declined four percent; total revenue was off 12%. CP 3Q rev units down 7%; operating performance again wins the day. CN rev units off 6% in 3Q; coping with rapid volume recovery. Zoom call observations re 45G.

Week ending October 16
Four non-Class I railroads’ success in creating new customers; ASLRRA awards. How OmniTRAX matches customers to on-line industrial sites; Savannah example. Inventory restocking plays a major role in freight traffic growth; merch carloads lag. BNSF revenue units YTD thru Oct 3; intermodal and ag up, most merch groups down.

Week ending October 9
Third quarter revenue units are now at hand; YTD grim but Sep shows month-to-month improvement. NS takes $99 mm “impairment” charge as an operating expense; 8-K not helpful. Shortline numbers for July; “Other” a mystery. Western Group selling 5 short lines to new holding company formed by two former Watco execs. RailTrends in Nov.

Week ending October 2
Some insights on how the Class Is have dealt with the recent slowdown and where they expect to go from here; Squires and Fritz comments. Watco creates a new Illinois short line, the Elwood Joliet & Southern Railroad (EJSR); SIT yard in the works. Kiamichi wins $10 million federal grant to upgrade the railroad for 286 and 25 mph ops. Wadewitz sees volume growth going forward; aggregates and metals still down double digits YOY.

WIR 2020 Third Quarter

Week ending September 25
The tea leaves are pointing to a slowing economy and it’s a cascading event; why I fear this trend will hurt the non-Class I railroads disproportionately. The North Eastern Association of Rail Shippers holds its annual fall conference this week as a virtual event; kudos to the NEARS team for pulling it off quite effectively and seamlessly. KCS volume recovery chart.

Week ending September 18
Katie Farmer becomes BNSF President and Chief Executive Officer on January 1, 2021; Carl Ice, current President and CEO, retires at the end of 2020. All about the BNSF art collection — samples, special section on the collection’s paintings by women.

Week ending September 11
Why it seems the US Class Is are doing more to run off customers than to create new ones; non-Class Is doing much better finding new business. Shortline operator RJ Corman is buying three properties; liquid natural gas opportunity. Kansas City Southern rejects $20 billion takeover offer. Steel outlook improving; AAR chart.

Week ending September 4
Comments on Railway Age series on PSR 2.0, Parts II and III; shortline applications. Carload trends in four key shortline merch carload commodities.

Week ending August 28
Railroad shares stuck in a range for nearly a year; can high levels of debt be a contributor? Introducing PSR 2.0 courtesy Railway Age. New home construction on a tear in spite of record lumber prices.

Week ending August 21
For all the chatter about the benefits of “Precision Scheduled Railroading,” I’m not convinced everybody is on the same page; excerpts from Hunter’s book. Pre-blocking diagram, how short lines can help. Incremental carloads, variable costs, fixed costs.

Week ending August 14
BNSF reports $4.6 billion in second quarter revenue, down 22 percent year-over-year on 2.1 million revenue units, down 18 percent. Union Pacific is upping their customer-contact game; SmartETA uses carload velocity, GPS location, and other data technology to determine arrival times that are more accurate than ever before. Themes from the Susquehanna industrial conference. Canadian Pacific returns to Saint John.

Week ending August 7
KCS on the block? Comments from many observers. Preview of BNSF results to be out Saturday; customer service tools at bnsf.com.

Week ending July 31
CSX second quarter revenue units dropped 20 percent to 1.3 million from 1.6 million a year ago; freight revenue was off 27 percent year-over-year. Union Pacific second quarter revenue decreased 24 percent to $4.2 billion; 1.7 million revenue units was a decrease of 20 percent. Norfolk Southern net income was cut nearly in half to $392 million from $722 million last year; revenue units tumbled 26 percent to 1.4 million.

Week ending July 24
KCS 2Q revenue down 24.5 percent as revenue units decrease 21.4 percent; revenue unit volume tanks March-May and recover rapidly in June — illustration. CN revenue units decrease 16 percent to 1.3 million with a freight revenue decrease of 19 percent to C$3.0 billion; merch carloads drop 22 percent, thanks to the 72 percent hit automotive took. Canadian Pacific revenue units off 12 percent to 631,000, freight revenue slips nine percent to C$1.8 billion, but RPU gains 3.1 percent, best of show so far.

Week ending July 17
Lumber futures prices have made a complete recovery from their coronavirus-induced sell-off; record low interest rates are making new housing more affordable. Cowen Shipper Survey: Business levels over the past few months were positive for a third of the respondents; railroad-friendly commodities are well represented among the survey sample. AAR data show more box cars and tank cars are in storage than any other
type except coal hoppers; a third of the serviceable cars on North American railroads have not carried a load in the last two months. With WTI below the psychological $40 per barrel mark, nobody’s in a rush to turn those machines back on and frack sand demand is now almost nil. Link to Oliver Wyman COVID-19 Pandemic Navigator.

Week ending July 10
How Amazon grows its bottom line; can this model work for railroads? Watco to acquire Dow’s rail infrastructure assets and related equipment at six major North American facilities; a continuing story for Watco. Shortline responses to Trip Plan Compliance Q&A.

Week ending July 3
Pan Am Railways is for sale; the woods are full of suitors but my preference is for a deep-pockets buyer that keeps present management in place. Class I Week 26 end of Q2 traffic data; merch carloads do better than the average — table. Cowen shipper survey: over-the road service consistency is improving; first-mile last-mile not so much.