North American owners of railcars parked 2,855 additional cars during May, expanding the fleet of idled units at a time when bulk rail freight shipments had weakened from earlier in the spring.
Owners include leasing fleets, shippers and railroads. The total for all types of cars in storage for at least 60 days was 279,083 units as of June 1, up from 276,228 one month earlier, said the Association of American Railroads.
By the Numbers: U.S. Intermodal Shipments.
That reversal came after railcar owners shrank their parked fleet in April by 7,421 units, bringing the number of idled cars to the lowest point of the recovery.
The trade group detailed the stored railcar numbers in its monthly Rail Time Indicators report.
The latest figures leave 18.4 percent of the North American railcar fleet stored instead of in active freight service, up from 18.2 percent on May 1. Although that is far below the 31.9 percent stored fleet when at the depth of the recession in June and July 2009, the AAR says when the industry is healthiest only 2-3 percent of available railcars would be idle.