“We are seeing continued signs of recovery happening across the global Freight and Transit rail markets,” Wabtec President and CEO Rafael Santana said during a first-quarter 2021 report. “Freight volumes and equipment utilization are gradually improving, demand for freight aftermarket services is increasing, and sustainable investment in global transit remains strong.”

Wabtec 1Q21: ‘Earnings Beat, Backlog Grows Modestly’

Wabtec Corp. reported a “strong operational quarter” and a position of “profitable long-term growth,” due to continued signs of industry recovery, a modestly growing backlog, and its order pipeline.

EagleRail Container Logistics says its new system will move containers along an overhead track, and over other infrastructure, to replace the drayage truck model and alleviate port congestion.

Supply Side: EagleRail, National Steel Car, Alstom, Retlif

EagleRail Container Logistics will launch later this year an automated, overhead container transfer system for ports and intermodal operations; National Steel Car has temporarily suspended manufacturing after employees tested positive for COVID-19; work is under way for Alstom’s railcar facility expansion in Hornell, N.Y.; and Retlif Testing Laboratories has completed a yearlong cybersecurity compliance project for increased protection of rail and transit product testing.

Through a public-private partnership, the Federal Railroad Administration and TTCI/AAR have worked together for nearly 40 years to operate and perform research at the Transportation Technology Center (TTC; pictured). Starting this fall, ENSCO will provide research and development, testing, engineering and training services at TTC.

TTCI to Start ‘Next Chapter’ at New Pueblo Facility

The Transportation Technology Center, Inc., (TTCI) reported April 27 that it would develop a new engineering and laboratory facility in Pueblo, Colo.

A new online portal will identify “the last contents hauled in a particular railcar to continue to ensure the highest food safety standards are met and to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food sanitary transportation rules,” AAR said.

AAR, Railinc, Ag Shippers Team on Food Safety

The Association of American Railroads (AAR), Railinc and a coalition of agricultural shippers will launch in late 2021 an online portal that will provide greater visibility into the most recent commodities hauled in covered hoppers.

Bose Federal Railroad Administrator Nominee

As largely expected, President Joe Biden will nominate current Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose as FRA Administrator, the White House announced April 23.

“When looking at the potential for new railcar demand, we expect industry deliveries to be below replacement levels this year, but believe that current inquiries support improving railcar deliveries at or just above replacement levels in 2022,” Trinity Industries President and CEO Jean Savage said.

For Trinity, ‘Challenging Operating Environment’ Impacts 1Q21

While “encouraged by the improving trends for our business and the economy as a whole,” market uncertainty due to the pandemic remains a headwind, Trinity Industries President and CEO Jean Savage reported during a April 22 earnings announcement, noting “[w]e are focused on what is more within our control in optimizing our cost structure and balance sheet.”

“Conditions in the North American railcar leasing market are consistent with our outlook coming into the year,” GATX President and CEO Brian A. Kenney said during a first-quarter 2021 earnings announcement. “GATX’s fleet utilization decreased slightly to 97.8% and our renewal success rate was 77.7% for the quarter.”

GATX: ‘Pressure on Revenue Remains’

For Chicago-based GATX Corp., net income from continuing operations for the first three months of 2021 came in at $36.5 million, or $1.02 per diluted share—down 22.67% from the prior-year period’s $47.2 million, or $1.33 per diluted share.

Calgary-based TRIG’s transloading automation solutions help terminal operators “maximize loading efficiency of closed rail tank cars, through a combination of digital sensor technology and control system integration,” according to the company.

Supply Side: Ballard, TransRail Innovation

Ballard Power Systems will provide fuel cell modules for Sierra Northern Railway’s new zero-emission switching locomotive; tank car and terminal automation solution provider TransRail Innovation, Inc., (TRIG) has acquired Formation Liquids Logistics Ltd. (FLLL), a rail terminal auditing firm and consultancy.

Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl

Cowen Surveys Find ‘Encouraging’ Shipper Business Outlook

Two first-quarter 2021 surveys of rail shippers on pricing and business outlook as well as equipment needs conducted by Cowen and Company analysts Jason Seidl (Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor), Matt Elkott and Elliot Alper indicate that, compared with the previous quarter, Class I railroad customers are anticipating somewhat higher rate increases, and a slight decline in new railcar demand.

AllTranstek Expands Pro Staff by Four

David Campbell, Ed Rugh, Jason Ankeny and Michael Shirley have joined North American third-party, non-asset-based rail fleet management provider AllTranstek LLC’s professional staff.