ARCI 1Q21: Railcar Orders on the Rebound?

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
While first-quarter 2021 railcar orders of 6,227 were up 83% from fourth-quarter 2020’s 3,397, they “still remain below pre-pandemic levels, which averaged at about 9,300 railcars per quarter in 2019,” according to ARCI.

While first-quarter 2021 railcar orders of 6,227 were up 83% from fourth-quarter 2020’s 3,397, they “still remain below pre-pandemic levels, which averaged at about 9,300 railcars per quarter in 2019,” according to ARCI.

First-quarter 2021 freight car reporting statistics from the Railway Supply Institute’s (RSI) American Railway Car Institute Committee (ARCI) show that, sequentially, orders grew, and deliveries and backlog were largely unchanged.

While orders of 6,227 railcars were up 83% from fourth-quarter 2020’s 3,397, they “still remain below pre-pandemic levels, which averaged at about 9,300 railcars per quarter in 2019,” according to ARCI. First-quarter 2021 orders were virtually flat (up 0.89%) compared with first-quarter 2020’s 6,172 cars.

For the first three months of 2021, carbuilders posted a backlog of 34,829, nearly flat (up 0.67%) with 34,598 in fourth-quarter 2020, “where it hit the lowest point since 2010,” ARCI noted; and down 25% from 46,330 at the end of first-quarter 2020.

Deliveries during first-quarter 2021 were 5,996 cars, a decrease of 3.5% from the previous quarter’s 6,216; and a 45% falloff from 10,824 in first-quarter 2020.

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