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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Friday, 21 October 2011 06:37

Amtrak activates RailComm system in Chicago

Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Friday its Yard Automation System at Amtrak’s Chicago Union Station is now operational.

railcomm_logo.jpgThrough a contract with HNTB and Kiewit-Western, RailComm designed its system to meet the challenging requirements that were presented within Amtrak’s existing rail infrastructure.

The automation system is commanded by RailComm’s DOC® (Domain Operations Controller) server-based central control platform. The system operator is in control of over 100 GETS Hydra-Switches and dozens of power derail devices, blue flag indicators, switch heater locations, and two diesel generators. Additionally, the system uses RailComm’s RADiANT™ data radios to communicate between the office system and the network of controlled devices. Amtrak personnel operate the automation system from two tower locations.
Union Pacific Railroad will continue improving right-of-way in Wyoming and Nebraska by investing $17 million in the rail line that runs from Egbert, Wyo., to Hershey, Neb., the Class I railroad said Friday.

union-pacific-logo-officia.jpgVarious projects on the 161 miles of this line include removing and installing more than 124,000 ties, as well as renewing the surfaces at 113 road crossings. Crews will also spread nearly 72,000 tons of rock ballast to help provide a more stable roadbed and replace more than a half mile of rail in various curves.

UP said the curve rail project began in late-July, the crossing surface projects began in August, and the tie projects began Oct. 12. All projects are scheduled to be completed by mid-December.

Bellevue, Wash., has released drafts of a proposed agreement between Sound Transit and the city to finance a $300 million light rail transit tunnel through the municipality’s downtown.

Bellevue’s City Council has the option of passing the agreement, asking for more time, or taking no action at all at its next meeting, set for Monday night. Some council members have made clear their desire for more time to evaluate the proposal.

sound_transit_logo.jpgUnder the agreement with Sound Transit, Bellevue would be responsible for as much as $160 million of the tunnel's projected cost. Of that, $100 million of that would come in 2014 or 2015 through actions such as donation of land and utility improvements, leaving Sound Transit to commence construction with its share of funding. If tunneling costs are less than anticipated, Bellevue would pocket any savings.

Bellevue has said it welcomes light rail transit, part of Sound Transit's East Link project, a 22-mile extension linking Seattle with Redmond, Wash. But Bellevue has expressed concern that LRT could disrupt businesses and generate safety concerns. Sound Transit has noted that tunneling drives up the cost of LRT construction.

The document includes several options for both parties to terminate the agreement if future disputes arise. The city reportedly gets an out if Sound Transit refuses to adopt the city's requested design changes. Sound Transit reportedly can opt out if Bellevue does not grant a number of permitting changes by the end of 2012.

Sound Transit is expected to act on the agreement at its Oct. 27 meeting.

Monday, 24 October 2011 06:40

Maryland MTA taps Bombardier

The Maryland Transit Administration has reached a contract agreement with Bombardier Transportation to provide 54 Bombardier BiLevel rail cars for MARC passenger rail service at a cost of $153 million.

bombardier_logo.jpgMTA spokesman Terry Owens said MARC intended to retire 38 older rail cars nearing the end of their useful life cycle, but the Bombardier purchase will result in a net fleet expansion of 16 cars. The new cars, capable of handling more passengers than single-level cars, also are expected to relieve overcrowding on some trains.

MTA is exercising an option linked to an order by New Jersey Transit, which MTA says will result in a reduction of nine months to a year off the bid solicitation process.
Monday, 24 October 2011 07:33

Two firms acquire intermodal dry van fleet

Milestone Equipment Corp. and Scrap Metal Services LLC on Monday announced the acquisition of 7,300 intermodal dry van trailers.** The heavy-duty dry van trailers are operated under leases throughout North America in rail intermodal service. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Tiburon, Calif.-based Milestone Equipment and Burnham, Ill.-based Scrap Metal Services said they have created a new joint venture, Scrapstone Intermodal Services, LLC for this transaction as well as for future intermodal opportunities.

In a statement, Milestone’s President and founder Robert Thull said, “Milestone is now the largest domestic intermodal container and intermodal trailer equipment lessor. We are committed to continued rapid growth and investment in intermodal equipment to provide flexible operating leases to our customers.”

Scrap Metal Services CEO Jeffry K. Gertler said, “This acquisition allows Scrap Metal Services to expand its role in the intermodal marketplace, a market segment that we believe will experience considerable growth over the next several years.”

**Editor's Note: The original report stated the intermodal equipment was purchased from GE Capital. An amended statement issued Tuesday by Milestone Equipment Corp. noted the attribution was in error.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Patriot Rail Corp., a short line and regional railroad operator, and CFRail Services, a transportation asset services and investments company,have entered into long-term railcar services agreements at threePatriot-owned railroads.

patriot_rail_corp._logo.jpgUnder the agreements, CF Rail has leased the railcar and locomotiveinspection and repair facilities at Patriot’s DeQueen & Eastern (DQE),Columbia and Cowlitz (CLC), and Golden Triangle (GTRA) railroads. CF Railwill perform railcar and locomotive repairs on system and privately ownedrailcars and locomotives at these facilities, including railcars andlocomotives owned by Patriot.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 02:58

Intermodal strengthens Hub Group earnings

Hub Group, Inc. late Monday reported third-quarter earnings of $16.3million, a 29% increase compared with the third quarter of 2010.

hub_group_logo.jpgThe Hub segment’s revenue increased 17% to $561 million. Third-quarter intermodal revenue increased 19% to $402 million, thanks to a 10% increase in volume and a 9% increase attributable to fuel, pricing, and mix. Truck brokerage revenue decreased 3% to $83 million, and Unyson Logistics revenue increased 39% to $76 million.

The Mode segment’s revenue was $206 million for the third quarter. Operating income was $1.7 million.

Hub Group ended the quarter with $43 million in cash.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 04:27

Canadian Pacific 3Q earnings slip

Canadian Pacific early Tuesday announced third-quarter net income of C$186.8 million, or earnings of C$1.10 per share, down 5%, or 7 Canadian cents per share, from earnings of C$197.3 million in the comparable period in 2010.

cp_logo_2009.jpgCP revenue of C$1.34 billion was up C$55.4 million, or 4%, from the third quarter of 2010. But its operating expenses rose C$68.5 million to C$1 billion, with the average fuel price increasing 47%, CP said.

“We currently see strength in our bulk franchise, but remain vigilant in monitoring economic signals from Asia,” stated CP President and CEO Fred Green. “We are focused on sustaining and improving service and productivity through investments in locomotives, infrastructure, people and technology.”
Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut on Monday said full service on the railroad’s Port Jervis Line will be restored Monday, Nov. 28, roughly one month ahead of the most optimistic projection. Permut made the announcement at a combined Metro-North/Long Island Rail Road Committee meeting.

metronorth_logo.jpgThe Port Jervis Line, linking its namesake city with Hoboken, N.J., was severed Aug. 28 by flooding generated by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, resulting in severe damage to 14 miles of right-of-way between Harriman and Suffern, N.Y., north the New York/New Jersey border.

Substantial progress has been aided by the ability of workers to recover substantial material, including ballast, which has helped reduce repair cost estimates. Metro-North says that includes costs paid to third-party contractors. In addition, the cost of substitute/shuttle bus service bridging the washout, originally estimated at $60 million, now is estimated to cost between 33% and 50% less.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 04:52

Wabtec sets 3Q earnings record

Wilmerding, Pa.-based Wabtec Corp. Tuesday reported record third-quarter earnings of $46.6 million, or 96 cents per diluted share, 33% higher than the comparable quarter in 2010. Sales also set a record at $499 million, also up 33% from a year ago, which Wabtec attributed to strong growth in its Freight Group. Per-share earnings beat Wall Street consensus analyst estimates of 87 cents per share.

wabtec_logo.jpgWabtec’s backlog at the end of the third quarter was $1.5 billion, 38% higher than at the beginning of the year.

Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer, said: “Wabtec continued to perform at a high level in the third quarter and we expect to finish the year strongly. We are executing our growth strategies well, benefiting from favorable market conditions in the freight rail sector, and beginning to see a ramp-up in positive train control activities. We remain optimistic about our outlook for the balance of the year, and believe we are well positioned over the longer term to take advantage of growth opportunities in our core markets around the world.”

Neupaver’s optimism was backed by Steve Barger, an analystwith KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., who noted, “On the back of this strongperformance, [Wabtec] increased its 2011 guidance to $3.65-$3.70 from$3.45-$3.55, and increased the top-line expectations to 25% growth (from theprevious guidance of 20%). We estimate this implies 4Q11 results of $0.90-$0.95and revenue of around $450 million.”



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