Car builders delivered some 7,000 railcars in the first quarter of this year and are likely on pace to deliver 5,000 or less in each of the remaining three quarters.
That sobering projection was made by railcar consultant Toby Kolstad in a recent webinar sponsored by Progressive Railroading. He said he now expects that 2009 rail car deliveries will come in at around 22,353. More than 60,000 cars were delivered in 2008.
For the first time in recent memory, there will likely be no intermodal cars delivered this year. Tank cars and large covered hopper car deliveries would make up more than half of the year's total deliveries with 6,000 cars apiece.
Kolstad, principal with Rail Theory Forecasts, estimated that it would probably take about 18 months after the economy hit bottom and began to show growth for the railcar industry to see any meaningful pick up. Car deliveries could stay below 30,000 cars annually for a while, he warned.