FIGURE 3. NUMBER OF CARS BY AGE
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30 Railway Age May 2016
of new equipment added to the fleet decreases significantly. Over the past 20 years, the vast majority of new railcars added to the revenue-earning fleet are GRL 286. This trend continued in 2015 (Figure 4), though the number of GRL 263 cars increased by about 10,000, driven by the growth in tank cars. The fleet continues to add GRL 263 and GRL 220 cars, but at a much lower rate than GRL 286 cars. Sub-Fleet Trends
There are more than 700 equipment types among cars registered in the Umler system, and for the first time since Railinc began producing this report in 2011, nine of the top 10 car types are either tank cars or covered hoppers. The only car type to leave the top 10 in 2015 was a type of open hopper used almost exclusively in coal service. As demographics of the sub-fleets change, so do the average car size and the total combined cubic capacity of all the units. For example, with the growth in the tank car population, the total fleet capacity has increased by 40%. Most new tanks are large, which has also pushed up the average car size since 2009. The total fleet capacity for covered hoppers has increased, but the average car size has decreased, because
most new covered hoppers are small. The boxcar population decrease has driven down the total boxcar fleet capacity. Large boxcars have joined the fleet, which led to an increase in average car size, but not at a fast enough rate to offset the population loss. And, while the average car size for unequipped open hoppers is unchanged since 2009—the total fleet capacity is down 30%, suggesting these cars are not being replaced when they exit the fleet. Covered hoppers are commonly used to ship commodities such as grain and plastics. The covered hopper sub-fleet increased by 5.3% in 2015, to 519,000 cars. The sub-fleet has grown by 2.7% or more in three of the last four years, and it is the largest sub-fleet in North America, making up about 32% of the total revenue-earning fleet. Large covered hoppers, which have capacities of 5,000 to 6,000 cubic feet, account for 12% of the revenue-earning fleet. Medium covered hoppers, which have capacities of 4,000 to 5,000 cubic feet, make up 8% of the fleet— down one percentage point from 2014. Increases in the number of new, small covered hoppers continue to drive the growth of the sub-fleet. Over the past four years, about 50,000 new small covered hoppers have joined