The Surface Transportation Board announced March 10 that it has instituted a proceeding responding to a Union Pacific request that the board "determine the extent of the common carrier obligation to quote rates for new, lengthy movements of chlorine, a toxic inhalation hazard (TIH)."
Wabtec Corp. said Tuesday it has formed a 50-50 joint venture in China to manufacture brake equipment for the Chinese rail market. Wabtec’s domestic partner in the effort is Shenyang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Railways Brakes Co., Ltd., the largest manufacturer of locomotive and freight car brake equipment in China.
The joint venture company, Shenyang CNR Wabtec Railway Brake Technology Company, Ltd., will produce pneumatic control valves and other braking related equipment for freight car builders and overhaulers in China.
“This investment builds on our existing presence in China, the largest rail market outside of North America," said Wabtec President and CEO Albert J. Neupaver in a statement. "Our capabilities and technology will be valuable assets in this rapidly growing market."
"We expect to have a strong impact on the Chinese market through the joint venture's advanced technology, lean production, and high-quality products," said Fang Zhijian, chairman and president of Shenyang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Railways Brakes.
California's high speed rail project has received an infusion of $29 million to keep the $44 billion project moving, at least until midyear. Short-term borrowing by the state treasurer's office Monday will provide the interim funding, which the California High-Speed Rail Authority requires to cover its expenses through June, the end of the state's current fiscal year.
Separately, the state Monday ended its public comment period soliciting input for the 700-mile high speed rail system. Dominic Spaethling, high speed rail project regional manager, said it's too soon to measure the volume of input, be it suggestions or criticism. Spaethling said he will be one of several officials reviewing comment from individuals, municipalities, nongovernment organizations, and others in the next few weeks, before posting submissions on the Internet.
A new study commissioned by HNTB, a Kansas City, Mo.-based infrastructure design and engineering firm, has found that given comparable fares and travel time, 54% of Americans would choose modern high speed trains over automobile (33%) and air travel (13%).
The survey was conducted at a time when high speed raill has achieved high visibility as a potential, if not actual, travel option. The passage of a $10 billion high speed rail bond measure in California last fall was followed by the set-aside of $8 billion for high speed rail in this year's American Recovery and Investment Act.
HNNB said its latest research, the second in series of America Thinks surveys, "found even greater acceptance of high speed rail among the 18% of [respondents] who have experienced such travel here or abroad. An overwhelming majority of high speed train travelers (82%) found it more enjoyable than plane travel, and slightly more than half (51%) said they would be most productive in high speed trains when traveling for business."
The Uniform Railroad Costing System (URCS) used by the Surface Transportation Board to determine a railroad's variable costs is coming under new scrutiny. URCS calculates system-average variablecosts for each Class I railroad each year. The data is used in railroad rate cases and other regulatory proceedings.
The STB has scheduled a public hearing April 30 "to determine whether, and to what extent, modifications are needed to account forrecent changes in agency procedures, to improve system outputs, and to furtherthe national rail transportation policy set by Congress."
Intent to participate in the hearing should be communicatedto the board no later than April 23. Notice of the hearing is availablefor viewing and downloading at www.stb.dot.gov under E-LIBRARY.
STV Inc. has received the 2009 Henry A. Stikes Grand Conceptor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) North Carolina Chapter. STV, doing business in the Tar Heel State as STV Ralph Whitehead Associates, was honored for its work on Charlotte’s South Corridor Light Rail Transit System (Lynx Blue Line), the state’s first light rail project.
STV played a lead role in the design and construction management of the Blue Line, which began revenue service in November 2007 andis operated by Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). The $462 million, 9.6-mile initial route, part of plans for a larger light rail network, links Charlotte’s southern neighborhoods with the city’s uptown Central Business District.
New York-based STV provided program management support to CATS, full construction management of the entire system, and designed various elements of the program.
ACEC, based in Washington, D.C., represents more than 5,500 firms throughout the U.S. involved in a wide range of engineering. The North Carolina chapter is one of 51 ACEC state and regional councils.
Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (EMD) Wednesday said it has signed a contract with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund-Ministry of Finance to manufacture 25 SD70ACS heavy haul AC diesel electric locomotives for Saudi Railway Company (SAR).
The units will serve the nation’s North-South line, carrying minerals on roughly 1,482 kilometers (about 920 miles) of newly constructed track. The locomotives also are capable of operating reliably in a desert environment.
Delivery is scheduled to begin during the second quarter of 2010, and will increase the number of EMD locomotives operating in Saudi Arabia to 72.
La Grange, Ill.-based EMD says the SD70ACS is a 4,500 BHP AC locomotive that includes an EMD IGBT AC drive system. This locomotive also features a pulse filtration system and movable sand plows on the pilot and trucks that makes the SD70ACS ideal for the extreme desert environment of Saudi Arabia. These units are equipped with the EMD 710-T1 fuel-efficient diesel engine and the EM2000 microprocessor locomotive control system, as well as the ERTMS/ETCS train control equipment. The units are also equipped with FIRE™ display system.
Crew comfort features that are being built into the locomotive include an isolated cab to reduce noise and vibration, as well as air conditioning, es to make the locomotive a better and safer environment for the crew.
"Saudi Arabia is a key market for EMD in the Middle East region," said Vice President International Sales & Service Albert Enste, in a statement. “EMD is committed to supplying the highest quality products and services to Saudi Railway Co. (SAR), and we look forward to a long lasting relationship between our two companies on future opportunities."
New Class I railroad employment figures released Tuesday by the Surface Transportation Board show that the number of men and women employed to operate trains--the official category is transportation (train and engine)--declined 9.57% to 61,333 between February 2008 and February 2009.
Total railroad employment in that period was down 3.74% to 156,997. Professional and administrative employment was down 1.34% to 13,642.
Four employment categories registered increases during the 12-month period: transportation (other than train and engine), up 6.30% to 7,175; maintenance of way and structures, up 0.31% to 34,390; maintenance of equipment and stores, up 0.07% to 30,322; and executives, officials, and staff assistants, up 0.23% to 10,135.
In mid-February 2009, employment was highest on Union Pacific, at 49,964, followed by BNSF Railway, 38,141; Norfolk Southern, 29,687; CSX, 28,404; CN/GTW, 5,573; Kansas City Southern, 2,917; and Soo Line, 2,411.
The UMLER (Universal Machine Language Equipment Register) system that railroads, equipment owners, shippers, and repair shops been using since 1969 is undergoing a major transformation to state-of-the-art technology.
Railinc says that the new Umler/EMIS (Umler Equipment Management Information System) “is one of the most significant and far-reaching technology changes in the rail industry” and “is on-track and on-target” for launch on July 25, 2009. “This project is a major re-engineering of the 40-year-old legacy system and represents a giant technological leap forward,” says Alan McDonald, director of the EMIS project (pictured). “The new Umler system processes transactions immediately, has higher quality data, and gives users greater control over managing equipment information. It will directly impact how equipment owners and their agents conduct business. We’re reaching out now to demonstrate how the system can help them better manage their fleets.”
Railinc notes there are still critical milestones that must be reached before Umler/EMIS can be implemented. “System testing has begun and the project’s data quality initiative is well under way,” says McDonald. “We’re currently contacting equipment owners to make sure that their equipment meets the data requirements of the new system. Communication around this effort will continue until early summer.”
Railinc has launched a new website, www.railinc.com/umler, to help users learn about the new system. Railinc’s Umler/EMIS team also is giving demonstrations of the new system at town hall meetings and industry-related conventions throughout the year. User training for the new Umler system includes webinars, online demos, and an online “sandbox” where users can learn the new system. Training begins in late May. Meeting schedules and training information are available at www.railinc.com/rportal/web/guest/umleremis.