The Railroad Week in Review:
Fourth Quarter 2013


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Week ending December 20
Pennsylvania short lines and rail-served industries win $26 million in state grants. Table of Awards. WNYP and Strasburg case histories. Reading & Northern files lawsuit in railroad authority operator selection matter. Montreal Maine & Atlantic trustee selects "stalking horse" bidder. 

Week ending December 13
CN Investors' Day takeaways for the non-Class I railroad community; live links to slide sets. GWR November pro forma carloads up 2.4 percent, up 4.8 percent YTD. P&W 3Q revs up 11 percent on 23 percent more revenue units with merch carload commodities carrying the day; ops ratio 96.6, down 10 points, as payroll drops to 49 percent of revs from 53 percent a year ago. G&O subsidiary Knoxville Locomotive Works undertaking six $million facility expansion for its high-tech loco rebuild program.

Week ending December 6
Three tank car makers downgraded on perceived slow-down in crude-by-rail shipments; AAR data shows slowing rates of change quarter-to-quarter in 2013. RailTrends: shifting crude-by-rail OD pairs, CSX merch carload turnaround. Week 48 car counts: short lines increasing merch carloads while Class Is see merch vols shrinking. 

[No Week in Review November 29 -- Thanksgiving break]

Week ending November 22
Stagnant or slow revenue-unit growth portends ill for profits; how to make money in spite of weak vols without putting yourself out of the market. A&M new power revisited. EPA relents on blend wall; impact on RR carloads. Watco takes equity position in Michigan. RailTrends 2013 off the charts.

Week ending November 15
CN gets ready for winter. (We will see how they do on our Canadian trip in Jan. Last year is was "ugly," says one participant.) Lessons for other winter railroads. Columbia Basin RR starts canola train service. GWR October NA carloads up six percent on a pro forma basis, as if GWR and RA had been one entity a year ago; railroad handles Alabama crude-oil train derailment exactly right from a PR standpoint. FEC Q3 revs up five percent on flat vols; RPU up 9% as vols dip 2% on FLL project hiatus.

Week ending November 8
More on the Turn the Cars argument. Sorting out BNSF Q3 carloads with special attention to crude oil and other petroleum products. Don Phillips on coal. UP advisory to short lines re fed funds for disaster area repairs. RailTrends in NY Nov 21-22.

Week ending November 1
BNSF shortline meeting highlights. Collaboration key; turn the cars and win the day. Taking AIM at customer switching practice and frequency. Scoring ISA compliance. GWR third quarter revenues up seven percent against pro forma 3Q2012. North American carloads up five percent on petroleum products and metals. Service enhancements on former RA properties adding competitive advantage.

Week ending October 25
Third-quarter earnings reports: NS stoner in many areas; Harrison continues to take costs out at CP; CN drives OR below sixty.

Week ending October 18
Third Quarter Earnings, Part I. CSX revs up 4% on 3% revenue-unit growth; merch carloads up 5%. Union Pacific revs up 4% on flat vols; Industrial Products group wins brass ring, vols up 9%. KCS revs up 8%, units up 3%, merch units up 2%. Common threads: Revs up by greater percent than ops expense leverages even greater upside to ops income. Merch carloads ex-crude and auto doing surprisingly well. Consistent transit times and meeting service commitments are contributing to volume increases. Pricing holding the line at rail inflation plus a crumb.

Week ending October 11
CSX same-shortline vols up 5% thru Sep with solid single-digit or better gains in several commodity groups; how the TSI Carload program has helped. TCWR gets its props from an area market research firm. BNSF Third quarter merch carloads down one percent year-over-year; outlook not much better. Two analysts' views on why CN carload vols are improving. The common thread across all is that reliable service wins the day every day.

Week ending October 4
Canadian National takes back a short line. Class I merch carloads YTD through Sep 21 hardly change from last year; short lines by themselves do a little better. ISM sees slight uptick in manufacturing. Credit-Suisse rearranges the "Top Picks" chairs: KCS, Canadian Pacific, Union Pacific.

 

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