If progress means moving forward, then Progress Rail Services keeps North America's railroad industry on the right track. Its Engineering & Track division makes and maintains rail components, provides rail welding and flaw detection, and makes right-of-way maintenance equipment. Its Locomotive & Railcar group recycles and reconditions parts, repairs locomotive and transit vehicles, provides on-site repairs on major routes, and makes wheels and wheel sets. The subsidiary of Caterpillar serves customers in about 130 countries and maintains sales offices and full service operations in Canada and Mexico, as well as Brazil; it has one of the largest rail maintenance networks in North America.
Since being acquired by Caterpillar in 2007, Progress Rail has used Caterpillar's global reputation and presence to lay down its own railway footprint. Caterpillar offers its locomotive child more than just a geographic footprint; it also provides its C18 engines for Progress Rail's GenSet locomotives. In addition to products and services, Progress Rail boasts locomotives and other equipment for straight lease or lease with option to purchase.
Amid improving rail volumes, as well as the prospect of US government stimulus funding, Caterpillar is aggressively growing Progress Rail's rail-transit machinery business. In spring 2011 it agreed to buy the UK-based trackwork manufacturing business of Balfour Beatty Rail, which develops manganese steel castings, track panels, turnouts, and crossings. In mid-2010 Caterpillar acquired Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) from Berkshire Partners and Greenbriar Equity Group. The $820 million deal for the diesel-electric locomotive manufacturer includes a large service network and global footprint; in 2009 EMD's revenues totaled $1.8 billion. Since the acquisition's closing, EMD operates as a subsidiary of Progress Rail.
Progress Rail has expanded its maintenance operations, as well. In May 2010 subsidiary Progress Rail Leasing bought Michigan-based FCM Rail, a lessor of maintenance-of-way (MOW) equipment in the US. The FCM Rail acquisition gives Progress Rail a boost in the MOW industry by expanding its leasing operations, adding warehouse leasing and both short and long-term rentals.
Progress Rail partnered with a rail supplier in Australia to provide maintenance and rebuilds in-country, and it has extended its ties to Africa, where it supplies refurbished flat cars and ore wagons to the rail industry there. In the fall of 2009 Progress Rail Services entered into talks with Texmaco, an India-based wagon-maker, to refurbish wagons for Indian Railways, which hauls about 40% of India's land freight. – less