A decade or two ago, the nation’s railroads were in disarray. Railroads were abandoning track, productivity was down, derailments were occurring on nearly a daily basis, and service varied somewhere between dismal and terrible.
Then, a transformation occurred. A new generation assumed leadership in the railroad industry, investors such as Warren Buffett began to infuse capital into the sector, service improvements abounded, productivity improved, and almost overnight, the railroads became very competitive with truck lines on some categories of freight.
Experts say that this is not your grandfather’s railroad industry any longer. “If shippers haven’t used rail in a while, they would be surprised,” says Brooks Bentz, managing director at the consulting firm Accenture.