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.

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Thursday, 10 November 2011 09:00

Indiana Rail Road marks carload milestone

Indiana Rail Road Company Thursday celebrated a major milestone in its history as a regional railroad, officially moving its two-millionth carload of revenue freight at INRD’s Senate Avenue Terminal in Indianapolis. INRD officials, including company founder, President, and CEO Tom Hoback, were on hand to mark the event.

indiana_rr_25th_year_logo.jpgIndianapolis-based INRD says it took the company 18 years and 9 months to reach its first one million cars of revenue freight, in a span stretching from March 1986 to December 2004. But carload No. 2 million moved just six years and 11 months later.

INRD said it hauls a variety of industrial and consumer products for companies in central and southwestern Indiana and central Illinois.





Friday, 11 November 2011 03:05

Wood Energy expanding to new site

Wood Energy Group, a crosstie reclamation company, has announced plans to expand and relocate to a 10-acre site at Louisiana & Northwest Railroad’s Iron Bridge Road new transload facility in Gibsland, La. Wood Energy is a subsidiary of short line holding company Patriot Rail Corp.

In 2010, Wood Energy reclaimed more than 1.5 million ties from Class I railroads. Under a recent agreement with Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific, the company expects to reclaim 2 million ties in 2012. The ties are ground and sold for energy co-generation.patriot_rail_corp._logo.jpg 

“Being based at the transload facility gives us numerous advantages that will improve customer service,” said Wood Energy President Greg Smith. He said the facility will feature new, high-productivity grinding equipment. The company expects to relocate before year’s end from its current three-acre site in Shreveport, La.

The new transload facility, which opened in October, is part of a $3.3 million investment by Patriot Rail.
Customers waiting for trains on Long Island Railroad and Metro-North platforms in New York will be prohibited from smoking at those locations beginning Sunday, Nov. 13, as a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year goes into effect.

lirr_logo.jpgSmoking will no longer be permitted on outdoor platforms, ticketing areas, and other boarding areas inside terminals and station buildings. Stations served by Metro-North in Connecticut are not subject to this ban.metronorth_logo.jpg

“The new law is a benefit to our customers, helping us in our efforts to provide a healthier and cleaner environment on our platforms and in our ticketing and boarding area,” Metro-North President Howard Permut said. “We appreciate the action taken by Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to protect New Yorkers and improve public health.”

Friday, 11 November 2011 05:05

Siemens U.S. sales up, orders swell in FY11

Siemens AG Thursday announced it achieved record operating results in fiscal year 2011, and expects “moderate organic revenue growth, with orders again exceeding revenues for a book-to-bill ratio of well above 1,” in FY12.

“We are well-positioned for moderate revenue growth next year and expect to surpass the 100 billion euro [$137 billion] revenue threshold in the medium term," said Siemens AG CEO Peter Loescher.

FY11 global orders for Siemens AG climbed 16%, to almost $120 billion on an actual basis. Revenue rose 7% to about $100 billion, and income was almost $10 billion, the company said. Siemens' fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

U.S. sales were up 12% to $20 billion and orders grew 8% to almost $22 billion, and Siemens officials made it clear the U.S. offers good future sales potential. “The U.S. is, by far, the single largest market for Siemens. We delivered strong growth over the prior year and can be proud of what we achieved financially. We won some very prestigious orders this year,” said Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of Siemens Corp.

Siemens said its Drive Technologies division will be delivering the components for the new electric locomotives the company is building for Amtrak. Light rail transit orders from the Mobility division included a $153 million order for 41 light rail vehicles for the Minneapolis and an $83 million order for 19 vehicles in Houston. Siemens also landed an order from Atlanta for four S70 streetcars.
Friday, 11 November 2011 10:30

UTU merger back on track?

A message from United Transportation Union International President Mike Futhey, dated Nov. 10 and posted on UTU’s website, suggests the UTU is once more exploring a merger with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SWMIA) .

An arbitrator ruled last month that a merger UTU and SWMIA be implemented and that the presidents of the two unions—or their designees—meet to decide how the implementation is to proceed.

Arbitrator Michael H. Gottesman said the merger agreement to create the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers Union is an enforceable agreement. Gottesman was named by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka to decide the question of enforceability after binding arbitration was ordered by Federal District Court Judge John Bates.


Futhey, in his statement, says the UTU can now “move forward following the October 10 merger arbitration award. That arbitration ruling makes the merger look very similar to the merger we were initially promised—the merger the UTU membership and I voted for in 2007.”

He continued, “The arbitrator recognized that maintaining the historical governance of the UTU was important by ruling that the UTU’s cherished craft autonomy, along with general committee autonomy, be preserved post-merger; and that changes to the UTU Constitution not be unilaterally made by the SMWIA executive council.”

Futhey says a meeting recently with new SMWIA General President Joe Nigro “was productive and positive,” while another meeting earlier this month involving UTU international officers reviewed events of the past four years and agreed “it is now time to move forward—discussing with the SMWIA the rights and traditions of both organizations, and to collaborate constructively in finding the most efficient and equitable means of resolving any further outstanding differences, including pending litigation.”

Monday, 14 November 2011 05:18

Amtrak: NEC rider market keeps growing

Amtrak now holds 73% of the combined New York-Washington air-rail travel market, according to Drew Galloway, Amtrak assistant vice president for Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Investment Development.

amtrak_logo.jpgAmtrak also now commands 93% of the combined air-rail travel market serving Washington and Philadelphia, Galloway said, addressing an annual meeting Saturday of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers in Bordentown, N.J.

Galloway referred to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Master Plan, a collaborative effort released in May 2010 in conjunction with NEC states, rail agencies, FRA and freight railroads, in noting an expected 59% increase in NEC riders by 2030 and a 45% increase in NEC trains.
Monday, 14 November 2011 05:40

Thermo King offers two new products

Thermo King said Monday it is introducing two new products, the Heat King 430 series for rail, truck, and trailer, and the Auto Fresh Air Exchange for SB-RR refrigeration units for rail, during the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) Expo, now ongoing in Atlanta.

Thermo King says its engineers created the Heat King 430 series to provide reliable freeze protection for temperature-sensitive cargo such as paint or chemicals while increasing uptime, lowering life cycle costs, and increasing intermodal operator efficiency.

Among other items, the company says, the Heat King unit provides the industry’s only flash-load programming capability and features system diagnostics for easy troubleshooting and lower labor costs. It also offers the industry-leading ability to retain error codes indefinitely rather than losing them when the unit is turned off.

The Thermo King Fresh Air Exchange is designed to ensure delivery of fresh air to unattended rail containers via remote access to maximize shelf life and improve food quality over extended transport of days or weeks. This feature can control the flow of fresh air and monitor the state of the mechanism either locally at the HMI or remotely via third party telematics.

The company says the Fresh Air Exchange keeps loads safe from the detrimental effects of gas build-up inside the refrigerated space. A simplified design ensures reliability and ease of use, which increases operator efficiency. This solution can be used on rail boxcar, container on flatcar and trailer on flatcar applications.

“We listened carefully to customer needs to develop innovative custom rail solutions that meet industry challenges and allow customers to consistently deliver high quality cargo despite lengthy unattended rail transport,” said Doug Lenz, Thermo King’s director of product management and marketing for Thermo King.
Monday, 14 November 2011 08:06

Joseph Lhota begins work at New York MTA

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority Monday officially named Joseph J. Lhota its new executive director, effective immediately. Lhota, nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Oct. 20 to serve as MTA’s chairman and CEO, will begin overseeing day-to-day operations, pending his confirmation as CEO.

Acting Chairman Andrew Saul will fulfill the duties of the chairman pending state Senate confirmation of Lhota’s nomination, MTA said.

mta_logo.jpgMTA also announced management changes as Lhota assembles his leadership team. Nuria Fernandez will be chief operating officer, joining MTA after stints as Chicago aviation commissioner and deputy administrator at the Department of Transportation. Catherine Rinaldi, a former MTA general counsel, will serve as chief of staff, moving over from her most recent role as LIRR general counsel. Charlie Monheim will remain a part of the MTA leadership team as director ofStrategic Initiatives.

“The MTA is the engine that drives our economy and makes our way of life possible here in New York, and we have a responsibility to operate our service as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Lhota. “The MTA is facing a number of difficult fiscal and operating challenges, including funding our vital capital program and continuing to improve service in tough economic times.

“My focus in the next couple of months is understanding this organization from top-to-bottom, and listening to our employees, customers, and community leaders as we work together to shape an agenda and improve this vital service for all New Yorkers,” Lhota said.
Monday, 14 November 2011 08:49

Bill Sneed, 1926-2011

Bill Sneed, a longtime employee with The Rails Co., died Nov. 3, 2011 at his home in Naperville, Ill., at age 85.

“His constant smile and many jokes, not to mention his product knowledge, made him many friends in the railroad industry,” said his nephew, Bob Sneed.

Though diagnosed with Parkinson's disease last spring, “As you would expect his outlook on life remained positive throughout this period,” the younger Sneed said. His work in the rail industry "was a big part of his life and I am sure that any of you that had the pleasure of knowing my uncle are better off for the experience.”

Bill Sneed is survived by his wife Jane, and by three nephews, four great nephews, and one great niece. His ashes were scattered at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.

Monday, 14 November 2011 09:27

NYCT riders face overnight line closures

To ease track maintenance on a system that operates 24/7 and to make it safer for workers, MTA New York City Transit in January will launch a pilot Segment Closure Program that will shut portions of subway lines overnight for consecutive nights. This will permit workers to perform tasks without having to stop periodically while trains roll through the work site.

A major benefit will be the ability to shut power to the third rail. The program will also boost productivity and shave costs on a system that perennially faces funding shortfalls.

“We are one of the few transit systems that operate around the clock, so it’s always a challenge to find time to do work on the tracks, especially with ridership up on weekends and overnight,” said MTA New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast. “Closing segments of lines so that we can get in and get the work done quickly benefits everyone—it’s safer for workers, less disruptive for riders, and gets projects done more quickly for everyone.”

NYCT said four lines running through the central business district havebeen identified for the initial line closures, which will take place overfour consecutive weeknights between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The lines are the Eighth Ave. (A, C, E), Seventh Ave. (1, 2, 3), Sixth Ave. (B, D, F, M) and Lexington Ave. (4, 5, 6). Similar closures for capital track work will also be piloted. This would mean closing a track segment on a continuous basis, rather than performing work in a piecemeal fashion over a longer period of time.

A similar pilot program is planned sometime in the future for capital construction on subway lines.
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