What can railroads leverage to recapture growth? (Michael Kershaw)

Mike Kershaw (1)

Of the three “levers” railroads use to recapture growth (rail-centric, flexible, and truck-centric commodities), which in your view is the one they could leverage the quickest and why?


Obviously, I would always choose a flexible lever that favors transloads.

Most commodities committed to rail either never left the focus of rail or will hopefully recover to rail. Borderline commodities that may have turned to trucks during the pandemic (and the subsequent downturn in the economy) may come back to rail in the form of transloads, shipping by rail to a transload, and serving their customers in truckload quantities.

There are other commodities (such as lumber) that experienced curtailed production because of the pandemic. They are now struggling to meet demand and are committed to whatever mode delivers.

Truck-centric commodities are having issues with finding enough qualified drivers. Trucks that service transloads allow their drivers to usually be home at night, so they will not suffer the same driver shortage that long haul trucks do.