The Railroad Week in Review:
Second Quarter 2014


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Week ending June 27
Three hundred attend NS Short Line meeting in Roanoke. USRail.desktop unveils rate benchmarking feature. Remembering Tony Kruglinski.

[no Week in Review June 20]

Week ending June 13
Two more tidbits for the scheduled railroad thread. UP opens huge logistics center just west of El Paso. (I went past it on the westbound Sunset Ltd Tuesday and it's impressive.) What happens when too much business chases too few cars. Being fooled by randomness in the shortline world. GWR loads up 4% in NA. NS Shortline Meeting next week; pay particular attention to the car management session.

Week ending June 6
Three themes from NARS: Infrastructure, service delivery, and the Washington regulatory scene. How local carriers can use ETFs to sharpen new business efforts. The Fort Worth & Western's competitive advantage and why it works. Watco assumes operating responsibilities for three NS branches in North Carolina.

Week ending May 30
Readers respond with their own scheduled freight railroad experiences and memories. Crude-by-rail press coverage hyperventilating beyond all reason; why we need adequate emergency response talent and equipment. USDA corn crop reports suggest more corn, cheaper. Good for chickens, ethanol and corn syrup; bad for Deere. Mostly good for rails. Credit-Suisse puts CP on its Focus List.

Week ending May 23
Shippers want consistent transit times; the MOP published freight schedules in the Official Guide in the 1950s. If then, why not now? Take-aways from the Wolfe Global Transport conference. Central Maine & Quebec to begin ops over the former MMA.

Week ending May 16
Why the cash flow to debt ratio is important; how to measure it for your own railroad. GWR North America carloads for April up 11% on coal and ag. Paint sales and lumber futures flag modestly improving economy. Watco acquires ownership of Stillwater Central trackage in Oklahoma. PWRR revs slip 11% in the Q, cash-burn continues.

Week ending May 9
BNSF first quarter results gleaned from the Berkshire 10-K, BNSF's 13-week car count, and remarks at the Berkshire annual meeting. Feedback from NEARS railroad ops panel on transit times and trip plans.

Week ending May 2
GWR gets clobbered by the winter; nearly half its North American lines severely affected, I see them recovering nicely. NEARS sets another attendance record; shippers and railroads agree: each needs to know what the other is doing and needs to do better to enhance supply chain partnerships. Iowa Pacific Holdings sets equity relationship with the Zell organization.

Week ending April 25
Common theme on this week's earnings calls: Bad weather clobbered performance metrics and volumes but the learning experience led to better ops patterns for better days ahead. CN's Claude Mongeau pulls no punches. I excerpt his remarks about the grain regulators and customer behavior extensively. Revs up 10% on flat vols. CP mixed: vols flat,vols down, RPU's up. NS treads a middle path with no wide swings either way. I will have NS, CSX and CP regional ops managers on my NEARS panel Thursday morning and look to emphasize what went right in spite of the weather and how customers benefitted.

Week ending April 18
GWR March NA carloads strong. CSX 1Q results have more to cheer than boo. KCS 1Q rev units up 10%; I worry about the confiscatory mindset in Mexico. UP has record 1Q; carload share of revenue pie increases to 59%. Bill Greene and Mike Behe on the STB's competitive access hearings -- are shippers asking the right questions?

Week ending April 11
Motley Fool cautious on CN, CP; I say not so fast. P&W's 10-K looks OK on the surface; caveats remain just below the surface. Why I'm shocked, shocked about Larkin's LaHood interview. Comparing the NIT League's access argument to paper barriers on short lines. Why Kalmbach's Historical Guide to North American Railroads belongs on the desks of everybody buying or selling rail transportation.

Week ending April 4
ExxonMobil energy source predictions from their 4Q analyst call; where it's coming from, short lines to benefit. Is competitive access a zero-sum game? I'm not convinced. Canadians try on the same gambit in grain; CN's Mongeau finds fault. Shades of a conversation I had with CP's Rob Ritchie eight years ago.


 

 

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