William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

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:

Friday, 03 June 2011 05:30

Robert J. Halperin, 77

Robert J. "Bob" Halperin, age 77, of Erie, Pa., died Saturday, May 28, at the VA Medical Center in Erie.

Halperin was vice president of Ambler, Pa.-based LTK and was a renowned public transit expert. He was also a marketing executive for General Electric Co. and a salesman for Miles Laboratories. He attended Wayne State University and University of Michigan. He served in the Army from 1954-1956. 

Bob was a member of Temple Anshe Hesed and president and CEO of Dayton & Miami Valley Electric. He was a recognized model railroading craftsman and published author. In addition to his lifelong love of model railroading, Bob amassed a collection of more than 425, 000 slides and photographs of streetcars, trolley coaches, rapid transit vehicles, and railroads from all over the world.

A memorial service will be held at Temple Anshe Hesed, 930 Liberty St., Erie, Pa., at a time to be determined. Arrangements are under the care of Burton Funeral Home and Crematory Inc., 602 West Tenth Street, Erie, Pa. 16502. Memorials may be made to Temple Anshe Hesed, 930 Liberty St., Erie, PA 16502 or Seashore Trolley Museum, PO Box A, Kennebunkport, ME 04046-1690.
Friday, 03 June 2011 06:33

UTU negotiates

A 17% pay increase is part of the new five-year national rail agreement negotiated between the United Transportation Union and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee. NCC represents 38,000 members on BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, and a number of smaller railroads.

“In the 41-year history of the UTU, this wage increase is the highest in excess of the current and projected Consumer Price Index,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey.

“Combined with the previous agreement this administration reached with the NCCC in January 2008, our members will realize a more than 40% increase in their base wages at the conclusion of this agreement, if it is ratified,” Futhey said. “A UTU member earning $80,000 in 2007 will be earning about $112,000 on the same job by 2015.”

utu_logo.jpgUTU said the tentative contract also calls for retention of the $200 monthly cap on health care cost sharing, FRA certification pay, a faster process for new hires to reach full pay rates (four years rather than five), and no rollback of the January 2011 cost-of-living adjustment.

“UTU District 1 general chairpersons voted unanimously June 2 to submit the tentative agreement to the membership for ratification under the craft autonomy provisions of the UTU Constitution. The general chairpersons also voted unanimously to recommend ratification,” said the union.

The tentative agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, and extends through Dec. 31, 2014.
Friday, 03 June 2011 06:39

AAR names Knight to gov't affairs post

The Association of American Railroads Friday said Laurie Knight will join the association as senior vice president of Government Affairs, effective July 25. Ms. Knight will succeed Hubert “Obie” O’Bannon, who will retire after 23 years with the association.

aar_logo.jpg“Laurie has a tremendous understanding of how to effectively represent a complex industry before key decision makers in Washington,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “We wish Obie the best in his retirement, following an incredibly distinguished career representing railroads on Capitol Hill.”

Most recently, Ms. Knight was executive vice president of government affairs at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), where for five years she was responsible for effectively representing the broadcasting industry before Congress and federal agencies. Prior to NAB, Ms. Knight was director of government affairs for the National Beer Wholesalers Association. She also served as legislative director for U.S. Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas).

A graduate of the Pepperdine University School of Law, and undergraduate of Southern Methodist University, she is also a member of the State Bars of Texas and California.

O’Bannon will retire with more than 35 years of experience advocating rail industry objectives on Capitol Hill. Prior to joining AAR in 1988, he was director of federal relations at the Consolidated Rail Corporation. He also served as special representative with the Penn Central Transportation Co. and as a legislative assistant with the Democratic Study Group.
Friday, 03 June 2011 10:04

Thomas C. Shedd, 1918-2011

Thomas C. Shedd, editor of Modern Railroads from 1959 to 1983, died June 2 on his 93rd birthday. Shedd played a major role in making Modern Railroads a highly respected chronicler of a renascent railroad industry.

tom_shedd.jpgUnder his direction, the magazine’s Golden Freight Car Award encouraged development of modern marketing methods in an industry where “a smile and a cigar” was a time-honored selling tool. The magazine’s Railroader of the Award recognized and encouraged the new breed of management that was turning the industry around.

Shedd’s editorial leadership won for Modern Railroads three Jesse H. Neal Awards, one of trade journalism’s top honors, plus three Jesse H. Neal Certificates.

Shedd remained with Modern Railroads as editorial director until it was merged into Railway Age in 1991. Hs continued to write for the merged publication until his voluntary retirement in 1993.

Tom Shedd was born in Phoenixville, Pa., on June 2, 1918. He earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana, in1939. He served in 1940-41 as editor of Telephony Magazine in Chicago. From1941 to 1950, he worked for the Association of American Railroads, first as assistant operator and then operator of detector car service. He joined the staff of Modern Railroads in Chicago in 1950 as associate editor, and then held the post of eastern editor from 1952 to 1959 before returning to Chicago as editor. He was named editorial director in 1983.

Shedd held memberships in the American Railway Engineering Association and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

—Luther S. Miller
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 10:24

Harriman Awards: NS streak at 22

According to the Association of American Railroads, 2010 “was the safest year ever for railroads, with significant reductions achieved in train accidents and employee casualties.” And for the 22nd year in a row, the Norfolk Southern Thoroughbred galloped away with the gold.

harriman-gold.gifThe industry today honored the railroads’ safety achievements at the annual E.H. Harriman Awards, recognizing carriers in four categories with the best employee safety records. Harriman winners were selected by a committee of representatives from the transportation field and were granted on the basis of the lowest casualty rates per 200,000 employee-hours worked. All data is documented by the Federal Railroad Administration.

In Group A, comprising linehaul railroads whose employees worked 15 million employee-hours or more, Norfolk Southern received its 22nd consecutive gold award. CSX Transportation won the silver award, and Union Pacific the bronze award.

In Group B, linehaul railroads whose employees worked 4 to 15 million employee-hours, the gold award went to Kansas City Southern for the fifth year in a row. The silver award went to Canadian Pacific (U.S. Operations), while the bronze went to Canadian National (U.S. Operations).

Group C includes railroads whose employees worked between 250,000 and 4 million employee-hours. The gold award went to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, while the Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad took the silver and the Paducah & Louisville Railway the bronze.

In Group S&T, switching and terminal companies with more than 250,000 employee-hours, the Gary Railway took the gold, while the silver award went to the Port Terminal Railroad Association and the Union Railroad received the bronze award.

One railroad in each category was honored for showing the most improvement in injury rates between 2009 and 2010. Awards went to CSX Transportation (Group A); CN, U.S. Operations (Group B); Pacific Harbor Line (Group C); and the Port Terminal Railroad Association (S&T).

In 2010, train accidents on U.S. Class I freight railroads were down 3% with the rate per-million-train-miles falling 9.6% from the previous record established in 2009. The number of employee casualties on U.S. Class I’s fell by 14.2%, while the employee casualty rate measured per-hundred full-time equivalent employees declined 16% from the previous record set in 2009.

“It is the tremendous dedication and hard work of our employees that makes rail the safest mode of transportation today,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Our industry continuously invests, innovates, improves, and implements systems and technology that make our business ever safer.”

The Harriman Awards were established by the late Mrs. Mary W. Harriman in memory of her husband, Edward H. Harriman, whom the ARR refers to as “an American legend in railroading.” Today, the awards are administered by the E.H. Harriman Memorial Awards Institute, with support from the Mary W. Harriman Foundation.

Harold F. Hammond Award

John Kirwan, a machinist with Union Pacific in Hinkle, Ore., was named the 2010 winner of the Harold F. Hammond Award. “Under his leadership, UP’s Hinkle facility has achieved more than 1,400 injury-free days in 2010 and an FRA reportable injury rate of zero since January 2007, the equivalent of more than 1.7 million working employee hours,” AAR said.

In nominating him for the Hammond Award, UP Chairman, President, and CEO Jim Young described Kirwan as “a coach and mentor whose safety-first attitude is contagious and inspirational to other employees. Elected by his peers to lead the facility’s safety efforts, he has worked hard to consistently raise the bar and create a culture of safety at the Hinkle facility. As a Total Safety Culture facilitator, his enthusiasm, expertise, and energy has helped to increased employee participation in the program from 33% to 96% over the course of two years. Known for his innovative and proactive approach to safety, Kirwan developed the facility’s Smoke Detector Program, which is based on the concept that analysis of employee safety observations can help to address small problems before they become big ones. He also has worked to implement a terminal-wide emergency alert system that will go online at the end of 2011. In addition, Kirwan actively participates in LEAN continuous improvement initiatives and in Hinkle’s Critical 5 Team, which establishes best-practice procedures for safe working habits. In recognition of his efforts, he has been honored with the State of Oregon’s Safety and Health Professional Award for outstanding achievement in workplace safety and health. He has also been awarded a Washington State grant for leadership training, enabling almost 90% of the employees at the Hinkle facility to complete the training.”

Seven other railroad employees were honored with Certificates of Commendation for their work in enhancing safety. They are Nelson Beveridge, conductor for CN; Claude Fields, machinist with Amtrak; John Hebda, carman with CSX Transportation; Jesse Jackson, section foreman with Kansas City Southern Railway; Rick Spears, locomotive engineer for BNSF Railway; Monty Wilkerson, locomotive engineer with Norfolk Southern Corp.; and Bruce Wold, track inspector for Canadian Pacific.

The Harold F. Hammond Award was established in 1986 and honors an individual railroad employee who has demonstrated outstanding safety achievement during the preceding year. It is named after the late Harold F. Hammond, former president of the Transportation Association of America, who served many years as chairman of the Harriman Awards selection committee.

Invensys Rail Thursday said Kevin Riddett will succeed James Drummond as president and CEO of Invensys Rail. Riddett (pictured below) has been chief operating officer of Chippenham, England-based Invensys Rail since November 2010, having previously spent two years leading Invensys Rail North America.

kevinriddett.jpgDrummond, who has been president and CEO since 2006, will be leaving Invensys on June 30, the company said. Drummond will become Group CEO of the INAER group of companies, a global provider of helicopter emergency services and maintenance aircraft.

Wayne Edmunds, chief executive of London-based Invensys plc, commented: "I would like to thank James for his leadership of Invensys Rail over the past five years, during which time the division has grown and performed with great success, and I wish him well for the future.

Edmunds continued, “Kevin has demonstrated his abilities both as the leader of our U.S. business and more recently as COO of the division. Invensys Rail has an exciting future and I look forward to working with Kevin to build on division’s success."
U.S. freight carload traffic gained 1.6% during the week ending May 14, 2011, measured against the comparable week one year ago, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. U.S. intermodal volume for the week continued to show strength, up 6.3% compared with the same week in 2010.

aar_logo.jpgAAR said 10 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. Among those gaining ground: metallic ores, up 17.5%; metals and products, up 17.2%; and grain, up 14.2%. Setbacks were recorded waste and nonferrous scrap, down 16.9%, primary forest products, down 13.6%, and farm products excluding grain, down 13.0%.

Canadian freight carload traffic rose 4.5% for the week compared with last, year, while Canadian intermodal also rose a more modest 1.1%. Mexican freight carload traffic for the week was even with last year, while intermodal rose 22.1%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 19 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 3.0% compared with the same period, last year, while intermodal was up 8.0% percent compared with last year.
BNSF Railway has applied to the Surface Transportation Board for permission to discontinue service on a 45.84-mile segment in Iron and Crawford counties, Mo. known as the Lead Line, the STB announced Thursday.

stb_logo.jpgThe line contains federally granted rights-of-way. STB said any documentation in the railroad’s possession will be made available to those requesting it.

Written comments concerning the proposed discontinuance must be filed by June 13. “Because this is a discontinuance proceeding and not an abandonment, trail use/rail banking and public use conditions are not appropriate,” said the board. “Only offers of financial assistance to subsidize (not purchase) the line will be entertained. Applicant’s reply to any opposition statements must be filed by June 28.”
CSX Corp. announced Wednesday that it will invest $160 million over the next several years to complete the National Gateway project, bringing its total commitment to $575 million. Total project costs are estimated at $850 million, of which state and federal funding will provide than $280 million.

csx_logo.jpg.jpg“Through the National Gateway, CSX and its public partners are working together to vastly improve the quality and flexibility of the eastern rail network,” said Michael J. Ward, CSX chairman, president, and CEO.

CX said the new allocation will expand and improve the century-old Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington, D.C. and provide double-stack train clearances in Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The project is designed to move more of CSX’s customers’ freight on double-stack trains between the Midwest and the Ports of Baltimore, Virginia, and Wilmington. “This will be especially important as the Panama Canal expansion brings more traffic through these ports,” said the railroad.
Thursday, 19 May 2011 10:05

Amtrak seeks private sector aid for NEC

Amtrak said Thursday it is developing an in-depth business plan that will maximize the opportunity for private investment to finance the construction of infrastructure and the acquisition of equipment required to provide 220 mph next-generation high speed rail service in the Northeast Corridor.

al_engel.jpg“Amtrak will aggressively pursue private investment, in combination with funding from the federal government and from other public sources, to achieve our goal of initiating true high speed rail from Washington to Boston,” said Amtrak Vice President, High-Speed Rail Al Engel (pictured at left).

Last month, Amtrak issued a request for proposals for a fully implementable and robust business and financial plan where Amtrak is the key developer and operator of the HSR system. It will identify and develop public and private funding sources and address fundamental issues of risk, credit, debt, and investment phasing, among other criteria.

The business plan also will include strategies and tactics for meeting the project delivery timelines and achieving financial targets, provide information for Amtrak’s FY 2013 federal budget request and lay out the strategy for subsequent forays into the private investment and capital markets.

Amtrak says that numerous private investment firms have expressed interest in working with it. Proposals are due June 10.

Engel said the active pursuit of private financing is one of several actions taken by Amtrak to move forward its next-generation high-speed railvision plan since it was announced last September. Another key action is the development of a stair-step approach outlining a clear, structured, and coordinated path to achieve 220 mph service on exclusive operational segments first between Philadelphia and New York, then New York to Washington, followed by New York to Hartford and, finally, Hartford to Boston.

Amtrak recently was awarded $450 million by the Department of Transportation to upgrade a 24-mile section of its Northeast Corridor infrastructure, located in New Jersey, to support maximum speeds of 160 mph.

Amtrak says it has distributed its HSR vision plan for international peer review by HSR operators in Europe and Asia, and notes most reviewers agreed with the stair-step approach, saying the current strategy is needed for successfully implementing next-generation HSR in the NEC.amtrak_logo.jpg 

Many reviewers also said Amtrak ridership estimates were too low, and several major operators indicated there are construction cost reduction opportunities that could reduce the capital investment. Many also suggested Amtrak would likely capture a larger share of the intercity travel market than what is projected in the plan. “This bodes well for an even higher benefit/cost ratio than the current 2.3 stated in the report,” said Engel.

Amtrak is a partner in the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail that will be held in Philadelphia in July 2012. As a partner with the International Union of Railways, the American Public Transportation Association, and the Association of American Railroads, Amtrak will host the world congress. The event is expected to attract some 2,000 attendees worldwide to exchange views on the development and achievements of HSR.

“Even with limited funding, Amtrak is continuing to make bold moves forwardtoward realizing its vision for 220-mph next-generation high speed rail in the Northeast Corridor,” Engel said.
Page 291 of 299