Mixed Outlook for North American Rail Freight in 2024

By Jim Blaze
Railway Age
January 26, 2024
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada, United States

Construction will lead to growth in rail-hauled commodities from aggregates to fabricated metals, such as steel. In 2023, metallic ores were up 10%, aggregates for construction increased by 5.3%, while iron and steel scrap volume by rail was up 3.3%. …It is difficult to predict the shipment by rail of finished cars and wood products. Both are subject to demand that is directly impacted by interest rates. As 2023 closes, there may be a surplus of cars on hand as potential buyers wait for loan interest rates to drop. Higher mortgage rates in the housing market may depress both lumber and new home appliance orders, both of which are transported by rail. …If the U.S. economy stays healthy and avoids a recession, then the rail freight sector should grow, and remain very profitable. Both the Canadian and the Mexican rail networks should also see growth in volumes.

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