William Vantuono

William Vantuono

With Railway Age since 1992, Bill Vantuono has broadened and deepened the magazine's coverage of the technological revolution that is so swiftly changing the industry. He has also strengthened Railway Age's leadership position in industry affairs with the conferences he conducts on operating passenger trains on freight railroads and communications-based train control.

Website URL:

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 06:01

U.S. to host 8th World Congress on HSR

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the International Union of Railways (UIC) on Tuesday formally announced that the 8th World Congress on High Speed Rail will take place in Philadelphia July 11-13, 2012. The World Congress is expected to attract more than 2,000 attendees worldwide to exchange views on the development and achievements of high speed rail.

uic_logo.jpgThe World Congress will feature international rail experts on transportation policy and technology. The World Congress will bring together both the public and private sectors to provide insight and best practices for implementing high-speed rail projects at every stage—from planning, financing, and construction, to operations and management. Additionally, the Congress will also feature an exhibit showcasing high-speed rail products and services.

“High speed is developing at an impressive pace around the world,” said UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux. “High speed rail is often described as the ‘transport mode of the future’; it is good for mobility, sustainability, the environment and for people as it creates employment and business through infrastructure and new services.

“We are very happy to organize the 8th edition of our World Congress in the United States and hope that all our experiences and those of our members may contribute to making swift progress in high speed rail development in the USA, thereby enabling the USA to join the world’s high speed leaders,” added Loubinoux.

“As America reshapes our transportation options and advances high-speed and intercity passenger rail to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, UIC’s decision to hold the World Congress here will go a long way in ensuring that the United States draws on the knowledge and experience of experts from around the world,” said APTA President William Millar.

Partnering with UIC and APTA in hosting the World Congress are Amtrak and the Association of American Railroads, all UIC North American Members.

At a ceremony May 11 in New York, UIC’s Loubinoux joined Amtrak Vice President-High Speed Rail Al Engel, along with high-level representatives from both Russian Railways and East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), in signing declaration formally launching “the UIC Declaration on Sustainable Mobility and Transport,” which among other goals includes emphasizing global HSR and passenger rail development.
Canadian National is making a series of capacity improvements to accommodate growing container volumes at its Brampton Intermodal Terminal (BIT), Canada’s largest such facility. CN says almost 60% of its system-wide intermodal business touches the terminal, which is located in the busy logistics area of Greater Toronto.

cn_logo.jpgThese improvements include installation of new track and extension of existing track to increase rail capacity by close to 15%; providing 25% more ground space for international containers by staging CN containers offsite; purchasing five new cranes in 2011, after the acquisition of five last fall; and increasing the labor force by 10%.

This expansion follows construction of new entry and exit lanes for truckers last December that increased BIT’s gate throughput by 33%.

BIT's 2011 intermodal volumes through the end of April increased by 12% compared with the same period of 2010.

CN's total 2010 intermodal volumes increased by 17% over 2009 to 1,455,000 units, while intermodal revenue last year rose by 18% to C$1.576 million.

Claude Mongeau, president and CEO of CN, said in a statement Tuesday: “Weare investing in new track, equipment, and other infrastructure improvements at BIT to take our intermodal service offering to the next level in efficiently distributing growing overseas container traffic reaching our network over Canadian ports as well as rising domestic intermodal shipments across Canada. These investments will increase supply chain efficiencies for our customers and help them grow their businesses.”
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 04:39

Amtrak Adirondack may get Customs revamp

The commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday outlined planned improvements to joint U.S.-Canada operations, including streamlined radar operations to detect low-flying aircraft and establishing customs clearance for Amtrak’s Adirondack in Montreal’s Central Station.

Commissioner Alan Bersin referred to the potential changes at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing chaired by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Schumer has voiced frustration with current customs procedures for the Adirondack, which has the train stop at the U.S.-Canada border for up to two hours. (On a trip last October, Railway Age Managing Editor Douglas John Bowen recorded waiting times of 49 minutes northbound, clearing Canadian customs, and 1 hour 45 minutes southbound, clearing U.S. customs, on a New York-to-Montreal round trip.)

Bersin said his agency is exploring the possibility of opening an inspection facility in Montreal that would serve Amtrak passengers traveling to New York State locations, including New York City. Customs and Border Protection operates in such a matter in Vancouver, British Columbia, served by Amtrak’s Cascades trains.

During the hearing, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) urged Customs and Border Protection officials to work with Vermont state officials to help restore New York-Montreal Amtrak service routed through Vermont, which could offer potential economies of scale to any new Customs inspection plan for Amtrak Montreal service. Amtrak’s Montrealer was discontinued in 1995.

Bersin replied, “The difficulty in the Montreal-Vermont-New York corridor is that, unlike Vancouver-Seattle, there are many stops along the way, which complicates the notion of pre-clearance because you can't then segment the traffic when it arrives in New York.” But the commissioner added, “We are certainly willing to explore the options.”

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 07:03

CSX updates financial guidance

CSX Corp. told its annual Investor and Financial Analyst Conference in Detroit Wednesday that it’s “targeting a compound annual growth rate in earnings per share of 18% to 20% through 2015, supported by a compound annual growth rate for operating income of 12% to 14% over the same time period.” The company reaffirmed its goal of achieving a 65% operating ratio no later than 2015.

csx_logo.jpg.jpg“CSX is ideally positioned to meet the growing transportation demand in this country,” said Michael J. Ward, chairman, president, and CEO. “Expansion in the U.S. economy, global trade, and CSX’s substantial investments in its infrastructure mean more things will move on our highly efficient freight rail network.”

Noting that it invested $8.3 billion in improvements in the five years between 2006 and 2010, CSX said it expects to reinvest an average of 18% of its revenue back into its business through 2015.

The company intends to base future dividends on a payout ratio of 30% to 35% of earnings per share as measured on a trailing 12-month basis. It’s also targeting share repurchases of about $1 billion annually after its current $2 billion program is completed in 2012.

“Our high expectations for CSX are grounded in what we clearly see happening in the marketplace and what we know about the capability of our people, our infrastructure, and our ability to bring value to customers,” said Oscar Munoz, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “We see significant opportunity to create value and are working to build on that opportunity through the balanced deployment of capital and a focus on strengthening our credit profile.”
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 07:11

Wabtec to supply brakes for NJT cars

Wabtec Corp. announced that it has signed a contract valued at about $12 million to provide braking equipment to Bombardier Transportation Canada, Inc., for 100 new passenger rail cars on order from New Jersey Transit.

wabtec_logo.jpg

The contract, which also includes draft gears and bench test equipment, includes an option to supply Bombardier for up to 79 additional cars.

New Jersey Transit awarded the car order to Bombardier in 2010.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 07:42

Victoria moves closer to LRT commitment

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission in British Columbia on Tuesday endorsed a C$950 million light rail transit line to link Victoria and nearby Langford, B.C. But the commission cautiously noted it still needs a commitment of provincial and federal funding before any LRT project proceeds.

LRT was chosen over public transit options, including Bus Rapid Transit, despite LRT’s higher initial capital costs.

"We must have the province and the feds in," Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said at the transit commission meeting. "They have to be in to make this project a reality. If they are in, we will make this project a reality."

Officials in Victoria, as well as throughout Vancouver Island, recently have struggled to secure C$15 million in provincial and federal financial assistance to rescue a dilapidated freight rail right-of-way.

The unresolved issue has cast doubt on the likelihood of any provincial or federal support for any rail passenger project. Despite that, the British Columbia Transit Board is scheduled to cast its vote on the LRT project on May 26. British Columbia Transit staff reportedly already have been directed to prepare a plan for interim improvements to transit services and infrastructure that would support or benefit the establishment for light rail.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 08:26

Class I rails add 5,689 jobs in 12 months

In mid-April, U.S. Class I railroads employed 5,689 more people than they did in April 2010, and 935 more than in March 2011. The 3.77% improvement in employment compared with a year ago and the 0.60% gain since March were in line with the gradual growth in railroad jobs that has been taking place in recent months.

Total employment in April was 156,777 vs. 151,088 in April 2010, according to the Surface Transportation Board.

The largest employment group, transportation (train and engine), had 62,872 workers in April, up 6.04% from April 2010.

In other categories, maintenance of way and structures employment reached 35,573, up 2.54%; maintenance of equipment and stores, 28,852, up 1.95%; executives, officials, and staff assistants, 9,238, up 2.39%; and transportation (other than train and engine), 6,665, up 2.57%.

Passenger flows were nearly normal Monday morning at PATH’s Hoboken Station following an accident Sunday, when a train ran through its bumper block and into the station platform, injuring about 35 people, some of whom were treated in nearby hospitals.

Long Island Rail Road trains still had limited access to New York’s Penn Station Monday following an Amtrak derailment in one of the four East River tunnels Sunday. Amtrak and LIRR work crews, augmented by crews from LIRR’s sister railroad Metro-North, were at work Monday removing passenger cars and assessing infrastructure damage.

LIRR on Monday said it anticipated significant adjustments to existing schedules, including train cancelations, to occur through Wednesday. On Tuesday, LIRR, re-evaluating the problem, said service disruptions could last through the week. About 20 eastbound morning trains were canceled Monday morning, with passengers urged to consider New York City Transit E and 7 subway service as an option.

Amtrak train 254, completing its scheduled run Sunday from Albany, N.Y., to New York’s Penn Station, derailed as it headed under the East River to Sunnyside Yard in Queens, damaging both catenary and the third rail. The derailment also was expected to affect Amtrak service between New York and Boston, as well as New Jersey Transit, which also services trains in Sunnyside Yard.

Wabtec Corp. said Monday it has signed a US$21 million contract with mining company Rio Tinto to provide electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) braking equipment for a portion of the company’s freight cars and locomotives in Australia. The equipment will be delivered in 2011-12.

wabtec_logo.jpgUnder the contract, Wabtec will provide about 3,600 carsets of ECP equipment so that Rio Tinto can retrofit its fleet of iron ore cars, most of which currently use Wabtec’s standard pneumatic brakes. In addition, Rio Tinto will install ECP brakes on six locomotives initially, with potential for more in the future.

“The advantages of electronic braking – including significantly shorter stopping distances – have been proven in commercial use by railroads around the world,” said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer. “Rio Tinto’s investment in this technology is a further demonstration that heavy-haul railroads can deploy ECP to reduce cycle times and improve train handling, and we are pleased to be part of the project.”

Wabtec said that with standard pneumatic brake equipment, the brakes are applied and released throughout the train sequentially, one car after another. ECP equipment uses an electronic signal to apply and release the brakes simultaneously in every car.

290
Page 290 of 295