The Railroad Week in Review:
Third Quarter 2011


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Week in Review, September 30
Notes from the KCS shortline conference. Liz Ann Sonders says small businesses may have never come out of their economic funk. Maine Senator Susan Collins on why proposed EPA boiler regs will increase paper mill unemployment. W&M panel gives the effects of the Great Recession another three years to run. RailTrends in NYC Nov 1.

Week in Review, September 23
How global debt reduction works in the railroads' favor. Lack of unity among railroad unions opens the door for a strike. Why Class I railroad earnings gains may not necessarily bode well for handling lines and switch carriers. How Texas-New Mexico Railroad capitalizes on the "heat and eat" theme. Why Deutche Bank is not optimistic about housing. How science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein predicted "Cash for Clunkers" more than 50 years ago. UP to double-track Missouri Valley to Freemont, including another bridge over the Missouri River. NECR completes recovery from Hurricane Irene devastation in record time. Why AAR system train speeds may be improving even as local service fares less well. KCS shortline meeting this coming week in KC.

Week in Review, September 9
This week it's all about the Dahlman Rose Transportation Conference in NYC. Every presenter had something of value for short lines. The Class I and RailAmerica presentations are on their respective websites and I'd recommend having them up as you read through my brief remarks.

Week in Review, August 26
CN generates record export grain vols with its Scheduled Grain Service Plan. How P&W used the 45G tax credit to add value and create operating income. Questions for UP senior management at the upcoming short line conference. FEC another step closer to Broward County intermodal terminal, eyes Tri-Rail ops and management contracts. ASLRRA "Development Spotlight" debuts. DOT says RRIF program "open for business." Is it really?

Week in Review, August 19
Another bad week on Wall Street and it doesn't look good for the rails. Weekly rev units down YOY for the first time and likely to stay subdued. P&W Q2 results. Consumer savings up, retail sales down, stuff to ship shrinks. RailAmerica's two-pronged approach to business development yields measurable results. UP short lines meet in Omaha in a week and a day.

Week in Review, August 12
BNSF 2Q2011 revs up 17% on vols up 3%; merch units up 9% with industrial products in the driver's seat. Metals, aggregates and waste/scrap lead. Why 2H2011 is going to be tough, esp for short lines with no traction in the "heat and eat"commodities. July carloads for RA, GWR up by small numbers. Chart: First half commodity carload comps 2011 vs 2006.

Week in Review, August 5
GWR wraps up Earnings Season with sales up 32% on 15% more volume. Non-freight sales --- 80% of which is attributable to North American small short lines, port operations and contract switching -- was up 8%. Ed Ellis Iowa Pacific Holdings completes its first railroad sale ever, the resource-rich Arizona Eastern, to GWR for $90 mm cash. Railroad solds off sharply Thursday on the prospect of less stuff to move as consumers consume less. Rick Paterson comments.

Week in Review, July 29
Positive Q2 reports from CN, CP, NS and RA. Common theme: using small revenue unit gains to sharpen ops, seek out better revenue yields and position the railroads for a marginally better second half in terms of revenue-unit volumes. Link to Laura's photo tour of the "Railwalk" along the NS main in downtown Roanoke. Guidance on what is "rail inflation" from the CN call Q&A.

Week in Review, July 22
CSX, UP and KCS second quarter earnings about what we expected: modest gains in operating income on small volume deltas (though KCS scored better) and some pretty aggressive pricing. Recent successes on California's Santa Maria Valley. 

Week in Review, July 15
Norfolk Southern shortline meeting a great success by all accounts, from new businesses located on short lines through NS support and a high rate of truckload-to-carload conversions to industry-leading gains in shortline carloads. June carloads for GWR and RA. What to expect in the 2Q2011 Earnings calls.

Week in Review, July 8
Further ruminations on the recent STB hearings. Small businesses still lag; why short lines should pay attention. More uncertainty about the debt situation. Continuing the Rule 11 thread. KCS beefs up marketing and sales leadership. NS short line meeting starts Sunday in Roanoke.

Week in Review, July 1
Further reaction to STB hearings; why "uniform costing" may be a disservice to shippers and carriers. Rule 11 becoming the rule? An economist looks at the changing shortline landscape. Providence & Worcester'a first quarter 2011 results: operating loss deepens, more retained earnings burned as revenue-units slip slightly.

 

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