Wednesday, January 31, 2007

RT&S Verifies . . . . .

. . . what rip noted some time ago. The Class One Railroads are spending in a big way this year! Check out the article in the January '07 issue. You will note that Amtrak's spending is going from $525M in '06 to $650M in '07, that BNSF is going from $1.76B to $1.87B, and that UPRR is going from $2.35B to $2.45B CN and CP are also up, as is Norfolk Southern. Only CSX is flat from '06 to '07.

That must be why I am hearing almost every day now from people who are trying to buy track material that it is getting tough to find what they need. It looks like a good year ahead for the supply side people!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Congratulations to the Florida Gators on their victory in the BCS Championship game. I finally have some time after two hectic days following the game, and I will take my dose of humility along with many others who thought Ohio State would prevail.

Meyer may have established a new dynasty in Gainesville, similar to that other dynasty that seems to have surfaced out on the Left Coast. Who knows, maybe next year's BCS Championship game in New Orleans will feature these two.

At the same time, I am not ready to agree that the SEC is the Nation's Best, any more than agreeing that the Big East is the best. The fact is that the conference's representatives did not lose one single Bowl Game this season. You cannot judge the best and worst simply on Bowl Game records. After all, the woebegone Big Ten went two and one against the SEC.

It just makes College Football all the more fun. For me personally, it is a most pleasant relief from the pressures of day-to-day business. Nevertheless, nothing, really, has been settled by these games that are held weeks after the end of the regular season. Nothing, except one thing: The Florida Gators can rightfully claim this year's National Championship. They won it. They deserve it. And if the Meyer dynasty happens, the future may find every other team fighting for the runner up spot.

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007: A Quick and Dirty Outlook

The brand new year is now underway and in full swing. Already, some trends are beginning to show themselves.

Track material will be in short supply all year. Even the Wall Street gurus have noted that Class One Railroads have shorted their Capital Spending for several years, and will be making up for it this year with more and greater expenditures. We all know that delivery of rail is always delayed for a matter of months after receipt of order (ARO), and that has been going on for years now. Delivery of special trackwork has also been in a very similar situation, but maybe for not quite as long as rail. But now you can add ties, at least wood ties, to the list of "hard to get" material. I have heard from several track contractors who say that they simply cannot find available ties for their projects because of extensive railroad purchases. Other track material (OTM) is similar, depending on the specific product.

As an aside, a topic for another time is: The Class Ones have created a paradigm of fewer track material manufacturers and suppliers during the recent era of low spending; now that these same railroads are ramping up there is a shortage of material to be had.

Of course, 2007 will bring with it the usual opportunities for education and seminars.

The Transportation Research Board will hold its usual January Seminars beginning on the 21st in Washington, DC.

The TTCI Open House will be in March as usual at the Pueblo, Colorado Test Center, this year it will be March 13 and 14.

A Wheel/Rail Seminar is going to be held in Chicago on May 8th and 9th.

Once again, AREMA will be meeting in Spetember, this time it will be the 9th thru the 12th. This year is the now semi-annual stop at the Palmer House in Chicago. Hopefully, this year it will not interfere with the RPI Meeting!

And, two excellent sources of Seminars will be active again, both The Track Guy, John Zuspan, and the University of Wisconsin's Continuing Education Series. John selects sites across the entire nation, making attendance easy. You will have to travel to the Midwest to attend the U of W sessions.

I will not use such overused words as "promising" or "challenging" to describe my prediction for the upcoming twelve months. Rather, I will simply say that it will be a busy year, somewhere between crazy and frantic.