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.
“I'm willing to compromise,” said Mica (pictured at left). “I could probably pass just about anything in committee, but I want to make something happen." Mica said he would try to funnel money from any other failed rail projects into the NEC, an oblique reference to his skepticism of California’s proposed 700-mile statewide HSR system.
More directly, Mica plans hold a hearing next month to determine whether the California plan or other U.S. HSR proposals are worthwhile. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), an ardent supporter of Amtrak, said he was pleased by Mica’s shift, given the latter’s reputation as a harsh Amtrak critic. “I think, I hope, we have agreement that Amtrak has to be the main vehicle” for HSR in the Northeast, Nadler said.
A majority of Cincinnati voters Tuesday stood by current plans to reintroduce streetcars to the city, rejecting Issue 48, a ballot measure that would have banned any city funds to be spent on passenger rail implementation.
Voters in Durham County, N.C., Tuesday approved a sales tax for transit, a precursor to better bus service and a staging mechanism for light rail transit and regional (“commuter”) rail passenger service in the Triangle metropolitan area. The one-half cent transit levy received 60.1% voter approval.
Durham city and Durham County officials were pleased by the result. Officials expect the levy to generate about $18 million to $19 million in new revenue. Money from it would pay first for added bus service in Durham, and later would finance work on two rail systems. Regional rail service would link Durham, Raleigh, the state capital, and eastern Wake County, using existing rights-of-way. LRT plans envision creation of a new route, not yet determined.
The county says it will wait for neighboring Wake or Orange counties to enact a similar tax before they implement the approved sales tax to generate capital.
PTV AG, a German-based logistics company, says Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, and neighboring Slubice, Poland, are planning to offer a cross-border tram route which would connect the two cities by 2015. A study entitled “VIATRAM Frankfurt (Oder)-Slubice” has endorsed the idea, which is expected to generate 3,200 rider trips per day. Both cities and countries would seek European Union funding to support the project. The project would utilize an existing bridge over the River Oder.Slubice was part of Frankfurt (Oder) until 1945, when international boundaries were redrawn."The tram line can achieve positive economic results if the construction of the link is supported financially," says Gerald Schröter, a PTV representative and head of a working group analyzing the prospect. PTV AG is based in Karlsruhe, Germany, a city known for its dual-system Stadtbahn “tram trains” that run both as streetcars and on railroad rights-of-way.
Germany and France already employ a cross-border rail service, the Saarbahn, connecting Saarbruecken, Germany, with Sarreguemines, France, also with tram-trains.
In a 28-page report dated Nov. 9, addressed to now-departed Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli reports an audit “found that Hudson and Harlem Line Signal Construction Unit employees received costly and, in certain instances, potentially fraudulent payments due to long-term practices that may have been avoidable.
“In fact, for calendar year 2010, we determined that these practices cost Metro-North $991,208 in overtime and $216,128 in regular pay, and enriched certain staff and supervisors,” DiNapoli said. The report follows recent media coverage last month of disability payment fraud at the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North's sister agency. Said DiNapoli, “These payments occurred because of a pervasive culture of management acceptance of long-term practices, employee feelings of entitlement to additional compensation, and ineffective internal controls in Metro-North’s payroll office.” “Most of the Signal Construction Unit workers are covered under a federal statute governing “Hours of Service,” which generally provides that employees can work up to 12 hours within a 24-hour period, and then they must be provided with at least 10 hours of rest time,” the report’s Executive Summary says, adding, “We determined that supervisors set work schedules so their employees worked 12-hour shifts overnight (collecting overtime pay for this time), which then forced the employees to go into the Hours of Service rest interval during their normally-scheduled work hours. Further, we found that supervisors included themselves in this scheduling arrangement, even though they do not appear to be covered by the statute.” DiNapoli notes “Metro-North officials agree with most of our report conclusions and recommendations. However, they do not agree that any frauds have been perpetrated by their staff.” The comptroller’s office offered six recommendations to resolve the problem: 1. Study the cost benefit and feasibility of rearranging signal workers’ schedules (e.g., a night shift) so that unnecessary overtime pay is stopped; 2. Discontinue Hours of Service payments and related premium pay for employees who are not entitled to it; 3. Investigate the inappropriate payments noted in our report and take appropriate corrective action, including disciplinary action, recovery of payments, and adjusting pension benefits; 4. Clarify and communicate, as appropriate, which employees are entitled to compensation for Hours of Service and which are not; 5. Adhere to payroll controls that are designed to provide checks and balances such as reconciling all exceptions between KRONOS and manual attendance records; and6. Immediately discontinue the practice of supervisors signing attendance records for themselves and determine whether other corrective action or disciplinary action is warranted.
Canadian National and Coalspur Mines Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a logistics supply chain to move export thermal coal from Coalspur’s Vista Coal Project near Hinton, Alberta, to western ports starting in 2015.
At that time, Coalspur plans to start coal production at a rate of approximately 2.5 million metric tons a year, rising toabout 11.2 million metric tons by 2019. CN will transport coal to ports ports including Ridley Terminals Inc. (RTI) at the Port of Prince Rupert, B.C. Coalspur has signed a throughput agreement with RTI to handle up to 8.5 million metric tons of coal.
CN and Coalspur said in an announcement Thursday that they will jointly design and build a rail siding at the Vista site capable of handling the loading of 175-car unit trains. The two parties expect to negotiate a definitive agreement in 2012.