Commentary

Steel Castings, Then and Now

Written by Robert H. Cantwell and Steve Becker
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Steel castings (side frames, bolsters, and couplers) are found everywhere on freight railcars and locomotives, and their supply is critical to the ongoing operations of the North American Rail industry. Combined, in a normal build year of 50,000 cars, they represent a $500 million market and constitute 13% of the cost of a new freight railcar. A failed casting, whether it’s a broken side frame or knuckle, wreaks havoc for rail operations. Train separations, and worse, derailments, can be catastrophic. Yet we often overlook the strategic importance of these products.

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