Monday, August 22, 2011

That's a lot of freight cars!

Info. from AAR Rail Time Indicators.

As of August 1, 2011, 276,943 freight cars were in storage, up 707 cars from the month-earlier level and equal to 18.2% of the North American fleet.

As of July 1, 2011, 276,236 freight cars were in storage, equal to 18.2% of the North American fleet — 2,847 fewer cars than on June 1, 2011 when cars in storage accounted for 18.4% of the fleet.

As of June 1, 2011, 279,083 freight cars were in storage, equal to 18.4% of the North American fleet. That’s an increase of 2,855 cars from May 1, 2011 when cars in storage accounted for 18.2% of the fleet.

As of May 1, 2011, 276,228 freight cars were in storage, equal to 18.2% of the North American fleet. That’s a decline of 7,421 cars from April 1, 2011 when cars in storage accounted for 18.7% of the fleet.

As of April 1, 2011, 283,649 freight cars were in storage, equal to 18.7% of the North American fleet. That’s a decline of 22,667 cars from March 1, 2011 ), which is the biggest one-month decline in 12 months. There were 103,380 fewer cars in storage on April 1, 2011, than on April 1, 2010.

Today, there are 219,204 fewer cars in storage than at the peak in July 2009. The total North American freight car fleet fell from 1.579 million as of July 1, 2009, when cars in storage peaked, to 1.517 million as of April 1, 2011.

As of March 1, 2011, 306,316 freight cars — 20.2% of the total fleet — were in storage, a decrease of 12,457 cars from February 1, 2011.
The peak number of cars in storage was July 1, 2009, when 502,853 cars met the AAR’s definition.

Today, there are nearly 197,000 fewer cars in storage. During this period, the freight car fleet (of cars with loads in 2005 or later) has declined from a peak of 1.579 million cars in July 2009 to 1.519 million cars as of March 1, 2011 (see chart on top left of the next page). This means that of the 197,000 fewer cars in storage, a net of about 137,000 cars are back in revenue service, while approximately 60,000 have been scrapped.

As of February 1, 2011, 318,773 freight cars — 20.9% of the total fleet — were in storage, an increase of 2,502 cars from January 1, 2011.
The peak number of cars in storage was July 1, 2009, when 502,853 cars met the AAR’s definition.

Today, there are 184,080 fewer cars in storage. During this period, the freight car fleet (of cars with loads in 2005 or later) has declined from a peak of 1.579 million cars in July 2009 to 1.522 million cars today. This means that of the 184,080 fewer cars in storage, a net of about 127,000 cars are back in revenue service, while approximately 57,000 have been scrapped.

As of January 1, 2011, 316,271 freight cars were in storage — 132,284 fewer than the year earlier level and 1,539 fewer than the month earlier level. For the third straight month, cars in storage represented 28 percent of total cars in the North American fleet.

A freight car is “in storage” if it has had a loaded revenue move since 2005, but not in the past 60 days. Rail cars are stored when they are not needed due to lack of demand; they come out of storage when demand improves. Figures are for the entire North American rail freight car fleet and include rail cars owned by railroads, leasing companies, shippers, and others. The total freight car fleet changes from month to month as new cars are added and old cars are scrapped.

Our best estimate is that, in the past when the economy and the rail industry were at their healthiest, around 2% or 3% of freight cars were in storage.

To the extent that railroads are able to improve the utilization of their freight cars, they will need fewer of them than they used to for the same level of traffic.

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