February 26, 2017

Rail Transportation

Rolling Stock

Cynthia Barnett | 6/1/2010
CSX has rehired more than 1,000 workers who were laid off last year.

After sharp declines in business in 2009, Jacksonville’s two public railroad companies are on track for better results this year. Analysts say increased freight volumes at CSX Corp., RailAmerica and nearly every major railroad in the country are strong signals that the nation’s economy is recovering.

CSX is one of the top five employers in Jacksonville, with 3,400 employees. Last year it saw a 15% decline in freight volume that led it to mothball trains and furlough more than 2,000 employees nationwide, including about 40 in Jacksonville.

All Aboard
CSX (NYSE-CSX) has been riding a bullish market for railroad stocks fueled by Warren Buffett’s $26-billion investment in Burlington Northern Santa Fe last November. CSX’s stock price has doubled in a year, trading at $54 in May, near its 52-week high. RailAmerica (NYSE-RA), which went public in October, has held steady at about $13.
The third-largest railroad in the U.S. with 21,000 miles of track, CSX reported in April that upticks in the automotive, phosphate, metals and intermodal markets in the first quarter of 2010 helped produce an 11% increase in revenue over the prior year’s quarter, to nearly $2.5 billion. The increase more than offset still-sluggish business in coal and forestry products. President and CEO Michael Ward says the company has recalled more than 1,000 furloughed employees, including 20 of those furloughed in Jacksonville, and expects to recall more as volume increases throughout the remainder of the year.

Meanwhile short-rail regional carrier RailAmerica, also based in Jacksonville, saw a 5% increase in carloads in the first quarter after declines that began in 2006. CEO John Giles says the company contracted its workforce by about 7% nationally but expects to begin hiring again if carloads continue to increase as expected. RailAmerica saw the biggest increases in metals, agricultural products and chemicals. “We’re very encouraged,” Giles says. “We’re seeing evidence of economic recovery across North America.”

Tags: Northeast

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