Recovery, Growth, Car Supply Confront Rail

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE, JULY 2020 ISSUE: On the June 17 Railway Age Rail Insights webcast (held in lieu of the usual conference in Chicago), the path forward for rail and the post-pandemic future of rail loadings was on the mind of presenters and the audience. The rail industry is searching for the bottom and looking for “green shoots” that suggest the market has “bottomed,” and that loadings might start to return to normal levels.

2020 Guide to Equipment Leasing: Patience Is A Virtue

RAILWAY AGE, JUNE 2020 ISSUE: Welcome to the 2020 Railway Age Guide to Equipment Leasing. It would not be an exaggeration to say that heading into mid-year 2020, the railroad industry and railcar owners and operators are dealing with times and circumstances heretofore never seen in the rail industry and to the lives of those working in it.

COVID-19 and the Rail Economy

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE MAY 2020 ISSUE: Too much ink (printer ink in the modern era) has already been spilt trying to find an angle on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the national and global economy, the consumer, the business segments most impacted by the terrible crisis (think aerospace, restaurants, the arts), the front line healthcare workers risking their lives daily and the retail, delivery and factory workers keeping aspects of life in the United States (e.g. food supply) relatively normal.

What Will Happen When The Other Shoe Drops?

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE MARCH 2020 ISSUE: In its 4Q2019 earnings call, Union Pacific announced a decline in revenue and the laying off of 3,000 employees (layoffs as opposed to furlough). Freight revenue declined 10%; operating revenue declined 5%. Operating expenses declined 12%, thereby decreasing (improving) the operating ratio (OR) to 59.7%. Additionally, UP indicated that the reduction in workforce would bring the total number of employees to roughly 35,000, from roughly 42,000 in 2018.

Why FAST Really Is Not So Fast

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE: The 2015 FAST Act is notable to most consumers of rail assets as being the legislation that established the tank car regulations and time frames for moving the tank railcar design from the DOT-111 (legacy or CPC1232 specification) to the DOT-117J (and 117R) design.

Arthur Edward Lewis, Jr., Dec. 1, 1950 – Jan. 10, 2020

Arthur Edward Lewis, Jr., 69, of Lancaster, Ohio, died at his residence on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Lewis was a rail industry icon who started his career at the Penn Central, followed by Conrail.

Justice For All?!?

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE DECEMBER 2019 ISSUE: When an investor buys rail equipment to lease it to a customer (lessee), generally there are terms and conditions that govern the use and maintenance of that equipment during the term of the loan or lease. Specifically, in leasing, the investor in the equipment (the lessor) makes a forward bet on the future value of the equipment.

Obfuscation is Challenging. Clearing It Up? More So

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE: Recently, three events impacting the railroad community—shippers and carriers and regulators—rushed through the news wire:

Rail Safety, Skateboards and Google

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE: On Aug. 14, the ESPN show ¿Highly Questionable? showed a video clip of a skateboarder sliding underneath a moving passenger locomotive, riding the rail on the skateboard and then sliding back out from underneath the train before the second wheelset (1). (The clip can be seen starting at about 16:30 into the video.) The hosts were suitably shocked and aghast over the audacity of the act of sliding underneath a locomotive and unsurprisingly thoughtless about the carelessness of the rider.

Clickbait Journalism at The New York Times

FINANCIAL EDGE, AUGUST 2019: With a 100-plus-degree F temperature and/or heat index blanket covering half the U.S., the summer doldrums are fully upon us. The time of year lines up with the anniversary of one of the most horrible rail tragedies in recent memory—the Lac-Mégantic derailment in July 2013. The 47 deaths that occurred as a result of that accident are unrecoverable losses for families and communities. Their memory should always serve as a reminder of the importance of safety and the need for best practices throughout the railroad industry.