Railroads are fundamentally directly involved in heavy manufacturing, resource commodities, energy and industrial production. Not so much e-commerce—at least not as direct movers and organizers. With that in mind, let’s examine how the railroad merchandise carload traffic pattern looks more than halfway through the third quarter of 2020.
Short Lines & Regionals
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced that it is distributing $320.6 million to 50 projects that improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of freight rail and intercity passenger service in 29 states.
Intermodal gains mostly offset carload declines for U.S. and North American freight rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 19, 2020, reducing the weekly decline to less than 2%, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Sept. 23. Traffic for the year’s first 38 weeks was still down significantly compared to 2019, however.
As a lifelong railroader, I’m especially pleased to join Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) and others across the nation in observing Rail Safety Week (RSW). In addition to Canada, this year we also welcome our colleagues in Mexico in helping all of us in North America to raise the profile of rail safety awareness.
The Railway Supply Institute (RSI) today released the RSI-100 Product Quality Certification Standard for tank car components.
A $47.55 million grant has been awarded to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the purchase of CSX’s S-Line rail corridor from Raleigh to Ridgeway, N.C., near the Virginia state line, which will eventually contribute to higher-speed rail (HrSR) service to the Southeast.
Social media and virtual messaging is spreading the word for Rail Safety Week (Sept. 21-27) due to the pandemic. The #STOPTrackTragedies campaign is encouraging safe behavior near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way, and raising awareness of the need for rail safety education.
In the two weeks following Cowen and Company’s mid-September Transportation and Sustainable Mobility Conference, analyst Matt Elkott, with input from colleagues Adam Kramer and Jason Seidl (Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor), noted that railcar inquiries “have ticked up. While translation into orders may not yet be commensurate with inquiries due to election and pandemic uncertainty, there appears to be an improvement in underlying demand” that should carry forward into a recovery in 2021.
The Pacific Harbor Line, Inc. (PHL), an Anacostia Rail Holdings Co. subsidiary, has signed a new five-year labor agreement with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).
RAILWAY AGE, SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE: The average freight railroad conducts thousands of interline settlements representing a significant portion of business revenue. Yet, the push to drive down working capital requirements, reduce outstanding and overdue claims mired in lengthy dispute resolution cycles and accelerate revenue recognition faces headwinds related to limitations of legacy interline settlements in most Class I, II and III railroads.