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Closer Look: Covered Hoppers

Published Annually

The Closer Look Series combines AllTranstek’s rail equipment intelligence with FTR’s dynamic forecasting model and analysis in a collaborative methodology to produce the industry’s most thorough and comprehensive rail equipment forecast and report.

Learn more about how the Covered Hopper fleet has responded to varying market dynamics of these segments, from the buildup of the small cube gravity fleet, to the migration of the grain car fleet to larger capacity cars, to the unique role that specialty cars play, and the steady investment activity across all types of Covered Hoppers in recent years.

NOTE: Save $300 off of each additional report you purchase in the Closer Look Series. Please contact Helen Lile at hlile@ftrintel.com or (888) 988.1699, ext. 1 to obtain a Promotion Code for ordering.




Covered Hoppers are a diverse fleet of railcars that carry a variety of dry bulk commodities. Some of these cars are product specific, while others serve a wide range of commodities. Consequently, the individual segments within the overall Covered Hopper fleet have different and unique characteristics, and their individual performances are driven by independent economic and market forces.

Understanding the overall Covered Hopper fleet requires a deep understanding of these individual segments within the fleet. A large portion of this fleet is dedicated to serving North America’s grain and food products markets, which are influenced by harvest volumes, domestic usage, and export economics. On the other hand, an energy driven new car build “frac sand” cars resulted in a “new” fleet of cars that has forever changed the face of the Small Gravity Covered Hopper segment. Also, the Pneumatic Covered Hopper fleet is having growing pains due to its concentration in the shipment of plastic pellets, and the production expansion taking place in this industry.

Closer Look: Covered Hopper Report Contains

  • A detailed fleet analysis by AllTranstek’s unique car type segmentation scheme, dividing the Covered Hopper fleet into 11 diverse sub-segments
  • Current fleet sizes for each sub-segment
  • Pictures and illustrations of select car types, unique components, and important commodities
  • Unique characteristics inherent to sub-segments
  • Snapshot of each fleet segment’s age profile allocated by 5- year buckets over a car’s 50-year life
  • Ownership mix profiles across railroads, shippers, and leasing companies
  • Historic deliveries, retirements, and utilization
  • Forecasts and projections by fleet segment: new car deliveries and retirements
  • Current and historic traffic activity across car types
  • Traffic shares, commodity drivers, and industry drivers
  • AllTranstek’s unique Car Demand Pressure Index, illustrating the relationship between fleet size and shipping activity since 2007
  • Fleet ownership mix, age profile, retirement trends, and new equipment delivery forecast for the fleet as a whole
The full Closer Look Series includes Box Car, Covered Hopper, Flat Car, Gondola, Open Top Hopper, and Tank Car reports.  The entire series is now available. Be among the first to receive this series of reports and gain a competitive advantage by increasing your knowledge of the rail car supply chain and macroeconomic indicators.



Closer Look: Covered Hopper

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