This article provides context on the N.A. Railcar Fleet & Capacity Utilization dataset as well as its source and the definition for each car type.
FTR’s railcar utilization figure is created by taking the entire fleet for a given car type and dividing by the amount of the fleet in service hauling freight. The same process is then repeated for the overall fleet. FTR does NOT follow the Association of American Railroads methodology of removing railcars from the fleet if they have been idle for at least 60 days because there are many reasons a car may not move for more than 60 days but still be actively hauling freight.
Our methodology is a truer representation of overall utilization by dividing the total number of railcars in a given car type by the number of railcars moving freight. FTR’s historical North American rail equipment fleet numbers tie back to RAILINC UMLER.
For forecast periods, we estimate how many cars will be scrapped or added to the fleet to determine the fleet size and a forecast of loadings to determine the number of railcars moving freight and complete our utilization calculations for the out years. FTR’s railcar fleet and utilization figures are broken down by railcar type and are available in our Rail Equipment Outlook service.