Railroad Authority reports economic boost

It was noted that at least three of the accounts using rail service locally and registering more carloads in 2011 over the same period the previous year are businesses that are generally reviewed as being barometers for the economy.

The three, all located in Lebanon, included Kenwal Steel, American Corrugated and Fakes and Hooker Lumber Company.

It was explained that Kenwal's increase in rail usage is related to the automobile industry, American Corrugated to the shipping and box industry, and Fakes and Hooker to building and construction.

Over a 44-week period in 2011 which ended in October (the most recent reporting period for the short line and regional traffic index), the Nashville and Eastern Railroad showed a 25 percent increase in total carloads.

The increase locally "measures up quite nicely when viewed against the short line industry as a whole, which posted a 3.7 percent increase" for the same period, Drunsic wrote in his report to the board.

Drunsic said the data shown in his report speaks directly to a growing regional economy.

He said the first indications of the increase in rail shipping here began in mid-summer of last year and continued through the end of the year.

"The question going forward continues to revolve around whether or not a global slowdown, specifically in China and in Europe, will spread to U.S. shores. Fed forecasters are predicting 'modest growth' in the economy this year at about 2 to 2.5 percent. Interestingly, manufacturing seems to be leading the way as cost pressures abroad are making the U.S. a more attractive option for growing business in that sector," Drunsic said in his published report to the Authority board.

From Post staff reports