How did the rail equipment market perform in 2019?

Richard Kloster

The rail equipment industry entered 2019 with cautious optimism. While freight was strong in 2018, the projection for 2019 was not quite as high. The beginning of 2019 brought immediate disappointment as weekly carloads were down year-to-year almost every week last year. Per the AAR, carloads were down 3.4% year over year. This freight recession and subsequent softening in railcar demand were caused by multiple factors – a slowing global and domestic economy, lower domestic manufacturing activity, downside effects of tariffs, increasingly competitive trucking environment, and negative side effects of PSR. The ongoing growth of the railcar fleet also contributed to the freight recession. The surplus must improve in order to balance the fleet.