A Preliminary Investigation of Private Railcars in North America

Thomas M. Corsi, Ken Casavant, Tim A. Graciano


This paper analyzes the economic conditions of a dramatic change in railcar ownership over the last 10 years. Private railcar ownership has increased to the point where they now carry 54% of ton-miles and 56% of tonnage for all railroads. Despite the increasing reliance on private railcars, returns to railcar ownership are decreasing, with current rates of return falling below those necessary to fund future investment. The problem is further exacerbated by shifting costs from railroad to shipper. A large drop in private investment could pose a serious threat to the railroad industry, shippers, and the economy as a whole.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5399/osu/jtrf.51.1.2811


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