Rail-car leasing and the longer haul

The 2017 outlook for the freight-car leasing market "is fairly positive vs. 2016," and many of the fleet metrics should improve and help close the gap between fleet earnings performance and equipment values, as Dick Kloster notes in a column he penned for us in our February issue. Which, if the year unfolds that way, certainly is good news for that industry segment and perhaps a few others.

Dick's characterization of the new investors coming into the market struck me as perhaps even better news. The one thing they have in common, he wrote, is "their positive long-term outlook for rail equipment." And once they're in, these new-breed investors find out quickly that freight cars are "long-lived assets that are relatively easy to remarket" ... "have a large, reliable and creditworthy customer base" ... and "over the long run provide good returns and retain their market values." 

That folks are thinking about rail in a long-term context and for the long term is heartening to hear, particularly in a short-shorter-term world. Selfishly, it's also good for me: I know it's part and parcel of what rail is, but I haven't been hearing too much talk about the longer term, the longer haul, for some time now. Anybody else hearing it? If so, in what rail contexts? Here's hoping there's more of it uttered (and acted on) in the months ahead.

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