North American transport equipment maker Greenbrier has received orders for 5,400 railcars (wagons) between January and March this year valued at $575m.

The orders cover a broad range of railcar types, including 700 automotive-related rail products. The railcars include 89-foot flatcars and the company’s proprietary MultiMax auto racks for the North American market, as well as orders from open and closed car carriers in Europe.

“Over the next three years, independent industry forecasts project that deliveries of automotive-related railcars will exceed 10,000 units in North America, with an equivalent number of racks being built,” said Greenbrier’s president and CEO, William A. Furman. “This demand is being driven by growth in automotive traffic by rail as a result of growing auto sales and a geographic shift in production of autos.”

Furman said that an aging fleet of automotive carrying railcars with an average age of approximately 20 years, and a 10% reduction in size of the automotive carrying railcar fleet in North America since 2009, was driving demand for replacements, something Greenbrier was well positioned to meet.

The company offers three designs in North America: Auto-Max, an articulated, fully integrated two-unit railcar with flexible bi-level and tri-level configurations; Multi-Max, a new proprietary automotive rack with flexible bi-level and tri-level configurations; and a standard 89' flatcar for bi-level or tri-level rack service capable of taking either a conventional rack or Multi-Max.

Greenbrier railcars are manufactured in the US and Mexico and Furman said the company was equipped to take advantage of the geographic shift that has seen Mexico pass Japan as the largest exporter of light vehicles to the US.

“At the same time, automotive rail loadings are up 16% from 2011 to 2012 in the United States and are forecast to increase in each of the next three years, all helping fuel demand for our automotive products."
He added that the company was also well-positioned in Europe and has produced more than 1,800 automotive railcars in the last five years from its Polish facility in Swidnica in Poland.