US Steel is part of the gondola manufacturing effort

Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp. has formed an alliance with Norfolk Southern Corp. and Oregon-based gear maker Greenbrier Cos. Inc. to design what they call a new, more durable steel gondola.

The cars will use a high-strength, lighter steel developed by US Steel, reducing the weight of each car by up to 15,000 pounds compared to conventional models. Norfolk Southern will initially acquire 800 of the Greenbrier-designed gondolas, according to a press release prepared by the three companies.

Scrap metal processors are likely to demand a higher number, as for several years shippers in the scrap industry have pointed to the lack of gondola cars and the long waits for them.

Veteran trader and consultant Nathan Fruchter of New York-based Idoru Trading Corp. tells recycle today some shippers are told that additional or new cars are expected to arrive within a year. As things stand, he adds, some processors are leaving as much as $50 a ton “on the table” because they can’t get enough cars to serve specific destinations.

The three companies refer to a “recognition that North America’s aging gondola fleet will soon require substantial replacement with a more durable design.”

Regarding the new model, US Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt comments, “This remarkable collaboration with our partners at Norfolk Southern and Greenbrier helps realize the full potential of the company’s ongoing product innovations. US Steel as sustainable solutions for the steel and transportation industries. This joint initiative proves it with an innovative wagon that is stronger, lighter and better performing, with the planet being the ultimate beneficiary.

James A. Squires, President and CEO of Norfolk Southern, adds: “Using lightweight high strength steel is a game changer for railcars. Not only will each gondola carry more material, it will do so using less energy, making our operations and those of our customers even more environmentally friendly.

“The work being done by US Steel, Norfolk Southern and Greenbrier promises significant benefits to all three companies and the freight transportation industry as a whole,” said William A. Furman, president and CEO of Greenbrier. “The three partners in this next-generation transportation equipment have deep roots in industrial America. Together, we are leading the way to a net-zero carbon economy. I look forward to the continuation of our partnership,”

In addition to the increased durability and capacity benefits, the three companies say the new car is expected to have an extended life cycle, “potentially extending the useful life of each gondola to 50 years”.

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