The number of North American railcars rose 0.1 percent in the last three months of 2011 compared to the previous quarter, but the deployed fleet still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession size, according to Railinc.
The total size of the rail equipment fleet in North American rose to 1,944,695 units in the fourth quarter, with the most growth being seen in the addition of end-of-train devices, 2 percent; and intermodal flatcars, 1 percent. The boxcar fleet shrank 1.4 percent, and the pool of hoppers decreased 0.8 percent, according to the subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads.
The contraction of the deployed railcar fleet has decreased, with total units in 2011 down 0.6 percent year-over-year, compared with a 3 percent decrease in the same period in 2010. The expansion of domestic energy expansion helped drive the growth of the sub-fleets of covered hoppers (1 percent) and tank cars (0.3 percent). Deployed boxcars, the smallest sub-fleet of revenue-earning equipment, in 2011 shrank 4.6 percent year-over-year.