RAIL TRANSPORT The gravy train is premium rail and imports are riding it

Aug 01, 2007 | 06:58 AM |

The railroad industry is either riding to glory or heading for a train wreck, depending on who you talk to. Rail producers, for example, anticipate a pickup in sales, with much enthusiasm driven by demand for longer, stronger rails. But some analysts say shipping volumes and profits are down and are likely to remain so in the short term, although a long-term bull cycle might be in the making.

With North American railroads seen moving toward expanded capacity in coming years, many manufacturers expect rail sales to be brisk.

The U.S. market consumed about 1 million tons of rail in 2006, with at least that much anticipated this year as well, according to Steve Didyk, director of rail sales at Rocky Mountain Steel Mills (RMSM), Pueblo, Colo. The industry hasn't seen back-to-back 1-million-ton years since the late 1990s, he added.....

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