Why Railroads Are a 21st Century Play

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The long-time image of the railroad industry as a holdover from 19th century capitalist era -- with images of stockyards in Chicago where immigrants covered in coal were hauling freight when not on strike against the captains of industry -- does have a compelling American mythologizing gimmick. But it also paints an inaccurate portrait of today's rail industry.

Companies like Burlington Northern ( BNI), Kansas City Southern ( KSU) and Union Pacific ( UNP) would seem, by their very names, to evoke a geography of the U.S. that no longer exists.

It's easy for this reason to dismiss railroads as an anachronism -- and many in the mainstream media have done just that, according to Anthony Hatch, independent railroad industry consultant at New York City-based ABH Consulting. Still, the truth is that the rail industry may be better positioned than at any time in the past 50 years. And with Berkshire Hathaway's ( BRK.A) recent bet on Burlington Northern, and by way of it, an investment world gold star placed on the whole sector by Warren Buffett, rails are an intriguing story.

TheStreet.com recently conducted an audio interview with Hatch -- who has been a railroad analyst for more than two decades -- about the outdated image of the railroads, and why the future is not only bright, but clearly future-friendly, for these supposed holdovers from the 19th century.

To listen to the audio, click here.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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