HAMILTON-based rolling stock builder National Steel Car expects to take on an additional 500 staff this summer to cope with an upturn in wagon orders.

In the first quarter of 2004 the company had a backlog of 42000 vehicles, up from 6400 for the period two years ago. First quarter orders totalled 18000 wagons, the firm’s highest figure since 1998, and orders are being taken for production next year.

Meanwhile, Greenbrier announced in June that in two months it had received orders for nearly 7000 wagons worth $400m. They include 4700 double-stack intermodal wells and 400 boxcars for TTX, the largest single order the company has received.

As of June 17, Greenbrier’s combined North American and European order book stood at a record 14600 vehicles, valued at $860m, and this will carry production through most of 2005. n