Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Passenger railcar deliveries at eight-year high

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Railway Age magazine’s annual survey of the passenger railcar market shows that 1,141 new cars valued at nearly $2 billion were delivered to passenger train operators in the United States and Canada in 2009, the highest number since 2001’s 1,332.

On Dec. 31, 2009, builders had a backlog of 2,580 new cars on order and undelivered. The operating agencies told Railway Age that they plan to place orders in 2010 for an additional 1,382 cars.

New railcar deliveries last year were nearly double the 596 cars delivered in 2008. Alstom/Kawasaki’s delivery of a 602-car order to MTA New York City Transit in 2009 made the big difference.

In addition to new cars, manufacturers and company shops delivered 677 rebuilt cars in 2009.

Results of the new survey, which was conducted by Managing Editor Douglas John Bowen, appear in Railway Age’s January 2010 issue.

The information is tabulated by purchaser, type of car, and builder. In addition to cars delivered in 2009, other lists cover the orderbacklog; orders expected to develop in 2010; and the five-year (2011-2015) outlook.

A separate listing compares new car orders for the past 10 years. A total of 8,961 new railcars were delivered during that period, including 3,092 regional/intercity vehicles, 4,536 rapid transit cars, and 1,313 light rail cars, streetcars, and automated people mover (APM) units. The light rail segment showed the fastest growth.

Railway Age Editor William C. Vantuono commented: “Examine the charts and tables that appear in our January issue, and you get a picture of a vibrant, growing passenger rail industry. There’s been a dramatic turnaround, and it’s picking up steam.

“Railway Age began its annual survey after the production of passenger railcars reached such a low point that the American Railway Car Institute stopped counting them,” noted Vantuono. “Today, the monetary value of the passenger railcar market is approaching that of the freight car market, and may well surpass it next year.”