Author: Jason Seidl, Matt Elkott, Elliot Alper and Uday Khanapurkar, TD Cowen


Railroad Happy Hour a Bit Happier This Time

Leaders in the railroad and logistics market continue to see a challenged intermodal market and holiday peak season. Service has been materially improved on both coasts and the Class Is have plenty of capacity to handle more volume. STB Chairman Oberman announced his departure, a surprise to us and all panelists, leaving the seat open until POTUS names his successor.


TD Cowen: Still Searching for Positives in Near-Term

At TD Cowen, we are lowering our rail estimates ahead of third-quarter earnings reports to reflect a very challenged environment. Leaders in the rail and logistics market who attended our latest Railroad Happy Hour” called the current outlook “bleak,” with growing uncertainty in 2025.


TD Cowen: Day 1 Transport Conference Takeaways

We hosted freight industry “fireside chats” and presentations on Day 1 of the TD Cowen 16th Annual Global Transportation Conference, being held Sept. 6-7 in Boston. While we heard that the rail

TD Cowen: 2Q23 Surveys Say …

Railcar demand showed some resilience against a tough macro backdrop, although we view the results of our Second Quarter 2023 Rail Equipment Survey as a slight incremental negative, similar to our 1Q23


Why We’re Skeptical of a 2H Rebound

Rail volumes have not seen a rebound in 2Q. Intermodal contract rates are down notably and are likely to pressure the group, though sequential volume improvements on the West Coast ports and


Oberman: STB Remains Actively Involved in Rail Reg Mods

We hosted a June 15 call with Marty Oberman, Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board, on Thursday. We see a reciprocal switching ruling well before year-end, and a bottleneck ruling potentially in 2024. Rail service continues to be at the forefront of the STB’s agenda. The CPKC merger has increased competition through new north-south lanes, though further Class I consolidation is increasingly unlikely.


TD Cowen: NEARS Conference Key Takeaways

We attended the NEARS (Northeast Association of Rail Shippers) Conference, where shippers discussed the current state of the rail industry. Rail service and safety was center stage, with panelist consensus embracing a challenged rail network to start 2023. In our view, decelerating rail volumes and excess capacity over the road may lead the rails to revise outlook during Q123 earnings.

Within the 49% of total shippers who are contemplating railcar orders in the next 12 months, 58% said “yes,” they plan to place orders, versus 54% in third-quarter 2022, and 42% said “maybe,” compared with 46% in third-quarter 2022. This could mean an increased level of certainty about ordering within the total shipper group relative to last quarter. Box and tank cars saw demand improvement relative to third-quarter 2022. Hoppers, gondolas and centerbeams declined relative to third-quarter 2022.

Cowen Insight: 4Q22 Shipper Surveys Say …

According to Cowen and Company’s recently conducted fourth-quarter 2022 Rail Equipment and Rail Shipper surveys, the demand for railcars remains strong, and rail-shipping pricing expectations ticked up sequentially. Details follow, plus insights on the Class I railroads, ahead of earnings.