Lawrence J. Gross: "While trying to forecast coal loadings has been as difficult as trying to catch a falling knife, the magnitude of the problem can be seen from the simple arithmetic calculation that if North American coal loadings finally end the current plunge and stabilize at the levels experienced during the first three weeks of 2016, the deficit vs. 2015 will be 23% or 1.3 million carloads."
"There are fundamental forces currently under way in the North American economy that are going to dramatically remake the freight transport landscape. Macro forces are moving the economy in a direction where transport providers will be asked to provide more reliable, consistent and faster service for generally smaller shipments moving shorter lengths of haul. Meanwhile, the rail industry has been moving in exactly the opposite direction, with larger, less frequent trains composed of larger, higher-capacity cars. . . . So as an industry, we are heading one way and our customers are heading in another."
"Today, the single-carload system delivers inconsistent service and inadequate asset turns while demanding ever increasing pricing, prompting shippers with modal choices to avoid rail, and leaving shippers without modal choices in a distinctly uncompetitive position. The railroads need to turn the carload system into a precision network that delivers reliable service and better utilization of expensive railcar assets."