FTR Transportation Intelligence Chairman and CEO Eric Starks and Vice President Rail and Intermodal Todd Tranausky recently hosted a webinar to examine the rail freight market in terms of volume and recovery pace, as well as their professional outlook for North American freight car manufacturing. As an invited media journalist and commentator, here are my takeaways for Railway Age readers.
FTR Transportation Intelligence
Intermodal’s growth path may help railroads sustain COVID-19 recovery. “Participants from Class I railroads were positive on current trends and cautiously optimistic that these trends can continue for the remainder of 2020 and beyond,” Cowen and Co. analysts Jason Seidl (Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor), Matt Elkott and Adam Kramer reported, following their attendance and participation at the North East Association of Rail Shippers (NEARS) Fall 2020 Virtual Conference. “Continued tightness in trucking is benefiting intermodal.”
Over the next few days and then amplified by mid-month investor reporting, we will learn more about how U.S. rail freight is trending. Association of American Railroads six-month data is out. In the interim, Susquehanna Financial Group (SFG) data scientists have circulated their freight market view. As well, we’ve added some FreightWaves SONAR intermodal data to the mix.
FTR Transportation Intelligence has released the COVID-19 Rail Freight Recovery Index “to provide visibility on the state of the rail market as anticipation of an economic restart grows.” The Index currently shows that rail volumes in the intermodal and carload sectors “are likely near the bottom,” FTR says.
Special Podcast Series—The Coronavirus and the Rail Industry: Freight Railroads and Rail Equipment Market Analysis with FTR Transportation Intelligence and Railroad Financial Corporation
What is the depth of decrease in freight volumes as a result of COVID-19? Is there an increased percentage of freight rail moving over to trucking right now? What individual markets/commodities are under more stress as a result of the crisis? How will the railroads respond to the freight loss in the overall landscape of the PSR movement? Will Wall Street change its perspective on the railroads? Are there projected revisions to new-car builds for 2020? What is the state of the equipment leasing market, for both lessors and lessees? Is there timing for a return to normalcy?