Railroads play a critical role in ensuring the continuity of functions critical to public health, as well as economic and national security. They deliver materials for hospitals, to stock grocery shelves, purify water, make medicine, and feed livestock. Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being. Certain critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations. In past weeks we have focused on the opportunities industries have at this time to plan for and implement changes to their rail freight program. We have talked about fleet upgrades and also the benefit of evaluating on-site rail infrastructure when the demand for service is lower. And it is lower; according to the American Association of Railroads, railcar loadings in North American were approximately lower by 20% in the week ended June 27. That is a big drop, and we know this was not evenly distributed across product lines. One other item that could be considered at this time is how to take advantage of the new North American trade pact that took effect on July 1st (the “USMCA”). According to President Trump; “USMCA is a great deal for all three countries, solves the many deficiencies and mistakes in NAFTA, greatly opens markets to our farmers and manufacturers, reduces trade barriers to the U.S. and will bring all three Great Nations together in competition with the rest of the world.”
So how to take advantage of this? Whether you use rail for inbound materials and components or for outbound products (or both), there must be a partner you could connect with or do more business within these three nations on better terms than was possible before. So, this is the perfect time to think about your use of railcar shipments to improve your bottom line.
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