“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.

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.

Next Stop for CBC Union, Railroad Negotiations: Mediation

The 10 rail unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC) have entered into mediation following an impasse in contract negotiations with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC); the NCCC, representing all U.S. Class I railroads and many smaller freight and passenger lines, said that it welcomed the assistance.

“The Union Pacific team concluded its most profitable year ever in 2021,” UP Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz said during a Jan. 20 earnings announcement. “We produced double-digit fourth-quarter revenue growth by leveraging our great rail franchise to generate positive business mix and core pricing gains, despite ongoing global supply chain challenges that impacted volumes.”

UP’s Fritz: 2021 ‘Most Profitable Year Ever’ (UPDATED)

Union Pacific (UP) on Jan. 20 reported fourth-quarter 2021 results, including operating revenue of $5.733 billion, up 12% from the same period in 2020 and 10% from 2019. This was driven by “higher fuel surcharge revenue, a positive business mix, and core pricing gains,” which were partially offset by a 4% decrease in business volumes, as measured by total revenue carloads. The Class I railroad also posted results for full-year 2021, which Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz called the “most profitable year ever.”