Locomotive market: Rebuilds, services business might rule this year

Freight locomotive manufacturers weren't immune to the sluggishness, traffic wise, in rail country last year, and some believe that sluggishness will continue this year, as freelance writer Mike Popke reported in a market overview he put together for our March issue. That sentiment isn't quite what we heard from rail finance and leasing execs (including big-ticket asset providers like locomotive providers) earlier this year, when they expressed optimism about the year ahead. That's partly because we didn't ask them, specifically, about near-term order activity. It's also at least partly because the optimism many talked about had more to do with what they believe will be a kinder regulatory environment going forward, rather than current or even near-term market conditions, some of which is cyclical, anyway. Regardless, locomotive providers figure to use whatever downtime they have this year doing more rebuilds, nurturing their parts and service business, and perhaps even planning to expand their international horizons, as Popke reports. We'll check back with the locomotive power crowd — at upcoming industry events and during the information-gathering process for upcoming articles — to see how they're faring and what they're thinking about as 2017 unfolds.

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