Rail and Intermodal Growth, Bakken Oil to Highlight NARS Meeting

Rail, regulatory experts to predict future at May 25-27 San Francisco conference

Mar 21, 2011, 15:32 ET from North American Rail Shippers Association

SAN FRANCISCO, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 20 railroad and shipping experts are slated to predict their industry's futures at the 2011 North American Rail Shippers annual meeting at the Wyndham Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco, May 25-27. This year's theme is 'Forecasts for the Future, What the Experts are Saying.'

"We're seeing a resurgence in rail shipping--particularly domestic intermodal, as a result of driver shortages, shorter hours of service, and increasing fuel prices," says NARS President Allan Roach. "Meanwhile, short-line railroads are looking at shortened intermodal hauls of less than 500 miles."

Another hot agenda topic is how railroads are tapping into the Bakken oil boom. "It's growing by leaps and bounds, due to insufficient pipeline capacity and the flexibility that the rail network provides to crude oil shippers. Couple that with the low capital outlay to build a new unit train facility that pipelines take years to build, versus months for a new rail facility, and you have a winning combination," notes Roach.

Class I's and short-lines are delivering unit trains of crude oil to Oklahoma and the Gulf, according to Roach, and also bringing in trainloads of pipe and frac sand. Reuters reports as many as 10 crude-by-rail terminals are planned in the Bakken area.

Instead of the customary top marketing officers, NARS attendees will hear from the chief operating officers of all major North American railroads. Their presentations will be followed by breakout sessions where attendees can converse with officials from individual railroads.

Joseph C. Szabo, administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, will provide the welcoming address. Association of American Railroads and BNSF Chairman Matt Rose will offer AAR's perspective of the rail industry.

Other headliners include U.S. Surface Transportation Board Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III and AAR President Edward Hamberger.

Eric Starks, president of FTR Associates, will offer an economic outlook on carload traffic.

An intermodal perspective will be provided by Mark Yaeger, president of Hub Group; Steve Palmer, VP Transportation of Lowe's; and Terry Matthews, executive VP Sales and Marketing at J. B. Hunt.

Friday's meeting begins with a short-line panel featuring Watco CEO Rick Webb, Reilly McCarren, president of Arkansas & Missouri, and Charles Patterson, senior vice president and chief operating officer of RailAmerica.

Additional panelists will discuss legislative issues, equipment and rail stock performance.  

Argus Media will present its 14th annual "Win-Win Award," which is given to those companies achieving the most successful railroad-shipper partnership in 2011.

NARS expects a turnout of more than 300 shippers, railroaders, investors, lenders, and industry suppliers.

"The NARS annual conference is an excellent and affordable way to network with key decision makers in the rail industry," says Roach. Registration is $425. More conference information is available at the NARS Web site: www.railshippers.com.

SOURCE North American Rail Shippers Association