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. We believe our methodology is a truer representation of overall
utilization by simply 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 ARCI data provided by Railway Supply Institute. For forecast periods, we estimate
how many cars will be scrapped or added to the fleet to determine 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 broken down by
railcar type are available in our Rail Equipment Outlook product.