RSI stats show 3Q14 car orders break record

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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The Railway Supply Institute on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 released its railcar industry order, delivery, and backlog statistics for the third quarter, noting the quarter was the largest ever for car orders, notching 42,900 cars.

Deliveries of 18,434 cars in the quarter were the highest since the fourth quarter of 2006, while the car backlog stands at the largest ever, at 124,437 cars, according to RSI data.

Industry orders for tank cars totaled 8,137 in the third quarter, much reduced from the 10,628 orders for tank cars in the second quarter of 2014. Other orders exceeded tank car orders for the sixth consecutive quarter, “suggesting a continued trend toward a more ‘normal’ concentration of industry orders,” according to KeyBanc Capital Markets, Inc. analyst Steve Barger.

“Covered hoppers, which showed the largest concentration in orders, came in at 23,702, or 55% of the total orders (above the 51% last quarter), with small-cube covered hoppers (frac sand cars) coming in at 16,597 cars, or 39% of the total orders. Together, tank and covered hoppers accounted for 74% of the total orders in the quarter vs. 82% last quarter,” Barger said in a note to clients Thursday.

“We think this data supports our view that shale plays continue to be the dominant factor in order trends, with tank cars and small-cube covered hoppers (frac sand cars) accounting for about 58% of the quarterly orders,” Barger said.

“Additionally, we expect that tank car orders in coming quarters should remain strong, as final regulatory design changes could be published by year-end,” Barger said, referring to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on HHFTs (High Hazard Flammable Trains)—hazmat tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol—issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) late last month.

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