“In 2022, we anticipate the steady recovery in the North American railcar leasing market will continue,” GATX President and CEO Brian A. Kenney said during a Jan. 25 earnings announcement. “We expect market lease rates to increase above average expiring rates for railcars renewing during the year.”

GATX: ‘Steady’ Leasing Recovery to Continue in ’22

At GATX, Rail North America’s 2021 “outperformance was driven by improving market conditions,” President and CEO Brian A. Kenney said during the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2021 earnings announcement on Jan. 25; in addition to achieving “higher fleet utilization and a higher renewal success rate, we have now experienced six consecutive quarters of sequential increases in absolute lease rates,” he reported.

“Our team continues to deliver long-term value to our shareholders and customers, and we are in an excellent position to build on these results moving forward,” NS Chairman and CEO James A. Squires said during a fourth-quarter and full-year 2021 earnings announcement on Jan. 26.

NS Reports 4Q, Full-Year ’21 Financials, Board Changes

Norfolk Southern (NS) on Jan. 26 reported fourth-quarter 2021 results, including net income of $760 million, up 13% from the same period in 2020; diluted earnings per share of $3.12, up 18% from 2020; and an operating ratio of 60.4%, a fourth-quarter record, down 140 basis points from the 2020 period. The Class I also named Amy E. Miles Non-Executive Board Chair, effective May 1.

For CN, a Hat Trick

January 25, 2022, will be remembered as the day CN achieved, in hockey parlance, a hat trick (three successes of the same kind, especially consecutive ones within a limited period; i.e. a hockey player who scores three goals in the same game). The Class I appointed a new President and CEO—who spent nearly 30 years at rival Class I Canadian Pacific; entered into a “Resolution Agreement” with beneficial shareholder and 2021 antagonist hedge fund TCI; and posted fourth-quarter 2021 results it calls “outstanding.”

BNSF “Hi-Viz” Attendance Policy Rankling Rank-and-File (UPDATED)

After 20 years of no changes to its attendance guidelines, BNSF, citing “today’s competitive freight environment,” plans on Feb. 1 to institute a new system called “Hi-Viz” it says is “designed to provide employees with real-time information and greater flexibility, so they can make informed decisions about their work schedules.” The two largest unions representing some 17,000 BNSF TYE (train and engine service) and Yardmaster employees, the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation union (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), are—not unexpectedly—reacting negatively, calling the policy “the worst and most egregious attendance policy ever adopted by any rail carrier” and threatening a strike action, which the railroad filed suit to block.

TugVolt: Autonomous Plus Standard Interchange

Intramotev, a St. Louis, Mo.-based technology startup, has developed an autonomous freight car that can be used in standard railroad interchange service. The vehicle, called the TugVolt, is “currently focused on short-haul routes of 600 miles or less, and designed with standard couplers and air braking that allow it to be hauled in or haul a traditional consist in addition to independent operation,” according to company Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Timothy Luchini.