First thing we do is file all the liens

Financial Edge, February 2019: One danger of writing for a monthly periodical is that high-profile situations (say the shutdown of the federal government) might begin and end between two issue publication dates. In a word, to tackle the risk of balancing remaining contemporary without becoming dated, one must be “fearless.”

Beware the operating ratio trap

Watching Washington, February 2019: Sizzle sells product. No wonder the sizzle of ever-lower operating ratios is leading to remarkably higher railroad share prices. But as operating ratios—operating expenses as a percentage of operating revenue—flirt with a sub-60%, the meaning for the longer term is unclear.

Precision Crew Scheduling: What would Hunter say?

I knew Hunter Harrison when he was a Burlington Northern trainmaster and I was a BLET Local Chairman, all those many years ago. Today, as Hunter’s Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) is rolled out on six of the seven Class I railroads, I’ve come to believe that PSRis not a destination, but a never-ending journey. At least that’s how I see it.

RailcarRx earns SOC 1 Audit Certification

RailcarRx, Inc., an IT product and service provider to the North American rail industry, has earned SOC 1 (Service Organization Controls) Audit Certification. The audit of RailcarRx’s controls included examination of the company’s data security policy, overall availability of data, monitoring of data processing, business continuity plans and operating environments.

KCS names Fahmy EVP PSR

Kansas City Southern, joining Class I contemporaries Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CSX, CN and Canadian Pacific in adopting one form or another of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), has appointed Sameh Fahmy as Executive Vice President PSR, reporting to KCS President and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer.

January freight rail traffic a “mixed picture”: AAR

The Association of American Railroads (AAR), in reporting U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 2, 2019, as well as volumes for January 2019, noted that gains in intermodal, chemicals and petroleum-related shipments offset losses in coal, grain and motor vehicles—fluctuations that “don’t reflect weakness in the economy.”

UPDATE: CP grain train derailment claims three lives

Three Canadian Pacific Railway crew members were killed early Feb. 4 in a grain train derailment east of Field, B.C., on the Laggan Subdivision. The 112-car westbound train derailed at about 1:00 a.m. Mountain Time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Time) as it emerged from the Upper Spiral Tunnel, plunging about 200 feet off a bridge into the Kicking Horse River. The three Calgary-based crew members killed have been identified as conductor Dylan Paradis, engineer Andrew Dockrell and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer.

CBR vs. the Polar Vortex

The extreme cold weather impacted North American rail traffic last week as a Polar Vortex shut down Chicago and most rail traffic, freight and passenger, in the region. How did it affect CBR (crude by rail) movements? What is the short- to medium-term impact? PFL Petroleum, in its Feb. 4, 2019 Railcar Report, offered the following analysis:

IEA: Global focus on rail could slash transport emissions

Stepping up investment in rail infrastructure could substantially reduce transport sector carbon emissions and energy consumption, according to a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Jan. 30.

BNSF: $3 billion in 2018 economic development

Investments from customers served by BNSF totaled nearly $3 billion in 2018, a figure that reflects several large investments by customers including Kubota Tractor Corp., WinChill, Dolese Bros. Co., and Dakota Plains. These investments, which BNSF said are expected to generate approximately 1,400 new jobs in local communities, marks the eighth consecutive year that BNSF customers and local economic development organizations have invested more than $1 billion in a calendar year for new or expanded facilities.