MOW Spending Report shows 2017 will be similar to past few years

April not only brings spring showers, but our annual report on railroads’ maintenance-of-way (MOW) programs. And the 2017 MOW Spending Report in our April issue shows maintenance budgets in general are fairly flat again this year, as has been the case in the past several reports.

About half of the Class Is, short lines and passenger railroads that provided 2017 budgets in MOW surveys I collected in February and March (from among more than 200 distributed surveys) or during presentations have increased spending while nine others have slotted the same amount compared with 2016 levels. Yet, many of the year-over-year increases are very slight.

Conversely, 23 others trimmed their budgets — some substantially — while a few railroads have delayed certain work or curtailed aspects of their MOW programs this year.

Overall, the 2017 MOW Spending Report I compiled features program breakdowns from 65 freight and passenger railroads, including one from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency that appears only in the online version of the report. Although the 2016 and 2015 spending reports included programs from more railroads, the 2017 iteration still is teaming with interesting and detailed information on various MOW pursuits. As it is every year, the spending report is broken into three categories: Class Is, regionals/short lines and passenger railroads.

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