Although uncertainty ruled as 2016 drew to a close — and, from what we're reading and hearing, still rules here in 2017's first month — a handful of officials at North American freight-car repair firms believe an uptick in business could be in the offing for certain car types this year, as freelance writer Michael Popke reported in a story that was published in our January issue. I continue to hear comments (on the record and off) about a possible uptick overall, as in for rail in general, in 2017. The rumblings seem to be more feeling- than fact-based — such is life in the optimistic lane, which is where more of the observers I interact with are parked these days. But if the chatter in and around Class I year-end earnings teleconferences and capex plan announcements is any indication, any upticking might come later rather than sooner in '17. But it's still early. We'll keep listening.
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