Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) recently approved a Rail Industrial Access Grant for Norfolk Terminal LP, and adopted the framework to advance the state’s Transit Ridership Incentive Program (TRIP).
CSX in second-quarter 2021 reported an exceptionally low operating ratio (OR) of 43.4%, along with significant increases in earnings and revenue. The OR calculation included a credit against expenses resulting from the sale of certain property rights on CSX-owned line segments to the Commonwealth of Virginia for passenger rail operations. Adjusted to exclude the real estate transaction, the OR is 55.1%, still exceptionally low.
Union Pacific (UP) on July 22 reported second-quarter 2021 results, including freight revenue of $5.132 billion, up 29% from the prior-year period, with a 22% increase in business volumes, as measured by total revenue carloads.
Despite posting company-wide financials in the second quarter of 2021 that dropped significantly from the prior-year period, GATX Corp. said it remains optimistic, as indicated by strong improvements in its two rail business units.
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending July 17, 2021, reached 513,255 carloads and intermodal units, a 6.6% boost from the prior-year period, according to a July 21 Association of American Railroads (AAR) report.
I spent about a half-decade of my railway career working with several intermodal freight logistics luminaries: Marvin Manheim of Northwestern University’s Transportation Center, Penn State Professor of Logistics Kant Rao and Bryan Stone of Intercontainer, with contributions from Rick Hill and Dick Andino, pioneers of ship-to-rail intermodal at APL. These folks and others helped shape my view of moving containers along complex links and nodes among different modes and terminals.
We hosted our second call with a noted transportation attorney to discuss the Executive Order signed by President Biden on July 9. It appears to be much more measured than early reporting initially indicated. The tone surrounding the railroads implied recognized independence of the Surface Transportation Board, and is likely in line with the thinking of the Marty Oberman-led organization. Longer term, we will monitor bottleneck implications.
Cowen and Company transportation analysts Jason Seidl (Managing Director and Wall Street Contributing Editor), Matt Elkott and Elliott Alper recently conducted their second-quarter 2021 rail equipment and shipper surveys. Following are the results.
Here are a few observations about the often operationally complex competitive rail carload service that many shippers and public advocates would like federal regulators to shove down the throats of the railroads: “reciprocal switching,” or as the Association of American Railroads calls it, “forced access,” a “misguided” method that could, ultimately, undermine the railroads’ ability to reliably serve customers.
For the week ending July 10, 2021, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 451,825 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.6% compared with the same week last year, as intermodal losses offset carload gains, the Association of American Railroads reported on July 14.