2013 Annual Review & Outlook - Rail & Intermodal
No mode of freight transportation manages its network better than the railroad industry. Flush with profits, the six Class I railroads – BNSF Railway, Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific Railroad – consistently pour millions of dollars into their infrastructure annually. 2012, however, marked a bit of a change as markets softened, especially on the international side of the business as growth in U.S. imports weakened considerably. Domestic business likewise suffered, especially late in the year as the impact of the severe drought in the Midwest hurt grain shipments and demand for coal, the industry's largest commodity, slipped.
But the industry's model is strong, and products such as fracking materials are creating new opportunities. And with more shippers looking to build on their sustainability initiatives, the rail industry – the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation – is picking up business from traditional trucking markets.