The Railroad Week in Review
The Argument.

Here's a shocker for you: About a third of the non-Class I railroad ASRRA members not owned by holding companies won’t be around in five years. Whether your short line is among that third depends on how you manage change. And that depends on how you use the information at hand.

The Railroad Week in Review is a change management manual and survival kit. For example, recent issues provided critical information on…

  • How the Class I railroad commodity mix has changed since 2012 and the impact on the short line railroad community;
  • Names and numbers for the Class Is that are experiencing the best carload volume growth in which commodities and how to get a piece of that action;
  • Why the Class I shift of focus from creating customers to creating shareholder value has worked against the short lines’ efforts to add new customers;
  • Quarterly carload and financial summaries of all Class Is plus Genesee & Wyoming and how short lines can use these numbers to their advantage;
  • How grain futures affect not only outbound grain carloads but also inbound fertilizer and farm equipment;
  • Why there’s more to life than the operating ratio;
  • How orders for new cars and trends in leasing patterns can affect shortline results.

The Railroad Week in Review is the only industry newsletter devoted exclusively to the bottom-line health of short line railroads. Published continuously since 1996, the WIR paid subscription list includes short line managers responsible for nearly 5 million revenue units a year. These lines are the best run, top-performing short lines regardless of size. Some are new, some are old and together they operate more than 14,000 route-miles of railroad for an average traffic density of 350 units per mile, triple the Rule of One Hundred standard.

The Railroad Week in Review is a PDF published 50 weeks a year and is emailed to subscribers.  The corporate subscription list includes every North American Class I railroad in addition to the largest short line holding companies. Another hundred or so individual subscriptions for the smaller roads fill out the railroad subscriber base.

You may expect four things from The Railroad Week in Review. First, we will continue to emphasize what works best for the shortline-Class I-customer relationship. Second, the Class Is are paying close attention to customer supply chains because the fortunes of the railroads and their customers are inextricably linked. WIR will thus provide commentary on trends in the usual merchandise products groups from chemicals to forest products to aggregates and agriculture.

Third, we will continue to discourage shortline managers' emphasis on the mechanics of running trains almost to the exclusion of the care and feeding of customers. With no customers you've got no reason to play trains. WIR will follow the money and talk ops only when it means making more money.

Fourth, WIR's quarterly earnings reports focus more on cause and effect in the carload business and less on what's happening bellow the line. I'm a firm believer that operating income changes tell one more about a company than earnings per share ever will. The order will be commercial first, then operations, with financials last.

To see past issues of The Railroad Week in Review, click on "public backlist" below. (The present quarter and one back are password-protected for active subscribers.) Individual subscriptions are $150 a year; corporate subs are $550 and permit distribution and copying throughout the organization.

Looking forward to welcoming you aboard.

(updated August, 2018)


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