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.

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U.S. freight carload traffic for the week ending April 30 was “flat” compared with the same week in 2010, but U.S. intermodal traffic advanced 7.8% compared with the same period, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday.

aar_logo.jpgAAR said nine of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010, led by metallic ores, up 22.1%. Primary forest products, down 23.5%, led the declining groups.

Canadian freight carload traffic rose 5.4% from last year, while Canadian intermodal volume rose 3.1%. Mexican freight carload traffic also rose, up 15.1% compared with the same week in 2010, while intermodal soared 38%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 17 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 3.3% compared with the same point last year, with intermodal up 7.9% compared with last year.
FreightCar America, Inc. on Thursday reported first-quarter revenue of $72.2 million and a net loss of $1.3 million. Fourth-quarter 2010 revenue was $51.0 million and the net loss was $3.5 million. The company generated revenue of $19.5 million and a net loss of $3.3 million in the first quarter of 2010.

freightcar_america_logo.jpgFreightCar America received orders for 4,027 cars in the first quarter of 2011, compared to 331 in the fourth quarter of 2010 and 3,656 in the first quarter of 2010. Manufacturing backlog was 5,206 units on March 31, 2011 compared to 2,054 units on December 31, 2010 and 3,600 units on March 31, 2010.

“Our sales and order volume for our manufacturing segment for the first quarter of 2011 reflects modestly improving market conditions,” said President and CEO Ed Whalen. “While our backlog has improved quarter over quarter and sequentially and while our utilization of manufacturing capacity has improved, we are still affected by ongoing competitive pricing pressures and associated pressure on margins.”
Thursday, 05 May 2011 07:28

Siemens ships turbine parts by rail

Siemens Energy announced that it shipped 22 wind turbine nacelles and hubs from its new nacelle assembly facility in Hutchinson, Kans., Thursday.

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“Shipping the 87-metric-ton nacelles by train has significant efficiency and environmental benefits, including an up to 80% carbon footprint reduction compared to truck transportation over long distances,” said the company.

In addition to the hubs and nacelles—the structures atop a wind turbine tower that holds electricity generating components—Siemens Energy said it is also transporting towers and blades via rail to projects throughout the U.S.

The inaugural shipment of nacelles and hubs is headed to Puget Sound Energy’s Lower Snake River Wind Project near Pomeroy, Wash., where they will be combined with blades from Siemens’ Fort Madison, Iowa, manufacturing facility for installation.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr., in a move widely anticipated by pro-rail activists, have announced a revised construction plan for the Cincinnati Streetcar project that will use the $99 million in funding that has already been identified and secured.

Friday, 06 May 2011 05:45

ARI gets Indian Railways business

American Railcar Industries, Inc. said Thursday the Indian Railways Research Designs and Standards Organization (Indian Railways) has awarded ARI a global tender to design and develop certain railcars for service in India. The contract is valued at $9.6 million.

american_railcar_logo.jpgUnder the agreement, ARI will work with Indian Railways to assess the operating conditions for freight railcar traffic, design four new railcar types for heavier axle loads, and build six railcar prototypes in the U.S. ARI also will provide training to Indian Railways personnel on design, testing, manufacturing practices, quality assurance, and maintenance.

ARI will receive payment based upon the completion of certain design, manufacturing, and development activities. ARI said it “expects the contract to extend over several years, with almost half of the steps being completed within the first few years.”

“ARI is very excited about the opportunity to work with Indian Railways. We believe this agreement will assist in establishing ARI as a high-quality and dependable producer of freight railcars for use in the Indian market,” said President and CEO James Cowan. “We remain committed to identifying and seizing new opportunities both domestically and abroad. The economy and railcar market have been challenging over the last couple of years and ARI is responding to those challenges with an expanded market strategy.”

The construction of the ARI Indian Railways joint railcar manufacturing facility near Chandigarh, India, is under way. The joint venture Amtek Railcar Industries Private Ltd. , of which ARI has a 50% ownership, may utilize the railcar designs being developed under this agreement, or similar railcar designs, for the joint venture’s product offerings in India.
Friday, 06 May 2011 06:13

UIC to launch sustainability campaign

Paris-based International Union of Railways (Union Internationale des Chemin de Fer, or UIC) says it will officially launch its Declaration on Sustainable Mobility and Transport campaign May 11 in New York. UIC says it has signatures from 43 railways, representing more than 60% of the total passenger rail market around the world, in support of the campaign. UIC hopes to demonstrate rail’s commitment to be at the heart of sustainable transport systems.

uic_logo.jpgUIC has timed the event to coincide with the Unitied Nations Commission for Sustainable Development discussions (CSD19), which will include discussions on transport policy. UIC says it has been working closely with U.N. CSD officials and partner organizations, to provide information about the environmental, social and economic value of railways.

The UIC Declaration on Sustainable Mobility and Transport was launched last October and lists the most important sustainable development goals for the global railway sector. In signing the declaration, member railways are making a public commitment to work towards these objectives and provide progress reports.

UIC is also developing a reporting framework and set of indicators to track progress in implementing the goals of the Declaration. The results of this reporting process should be announced at the Rio +20 conference in June 2012.
Responding to news reports that highlighted potential terrorist interest in, and threats to, North American railroads outlined by documents and other media seized by U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan, the Association of American Railroads assured the public that measures have been taken, and will continue to be taken, to increase railroad security since Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks occurred in New York, Washington, D.C., and on board a jet plane that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania.

aar_logo.jpg“Because enhanced security has become a long-term necessity, the Board of Directors of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) — made up of the CEOs of North America’s major freight railroads and Amtrak — has established the mandate to ensure that the railroads would be more secure each day,” AAR notes. “Using CIA and national intelligence community best practices, five critical action teams — with the active involvement of some 150 railroad industry, security and intelligence personnel — were established to scrutinize different aspects of the railroad system: hazardous materials; operations; infrastructure; information technology and communications; [and] military movements.”

AAR adds, “The railroad sector maintains communication links with the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and state and local law enforcement to enable immediate response.”

“The railroad security plan is a living document, because the risk assessment process is a continuous one. As conditions warrant, that plan is updated, revised and strengthened to ensure the security of the railroads and their continued service to the nation,” AAR says.

Bombardier Transportation said Monday it has signed a framework agreement with Siemens AG to become a partner to develop and supply important components of up to 300 ICx high speed trains for Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB). Bombardier said the first call-off for 130 trains is worth an estimated 1.3 billion euros, or $1.8 billion, to Bombardier.

deutsche_bahn_logo.jpgDB is planning to place an additional call-off with Siemens for a further 90 trains. The combined order volume of 220 trains would be worth approximately $3 billion to Bombardier. The framework agreement between Siemens and DB AG also includes an option for up to 80 additional trains that could be ordered at any time until the year 2030.

Together with Bombardier, Siemens has developed a flexible vehicle concept which allows the ICx to be adapted to the individual requirements of various transport situations. Bombardier will supply Siemens with, among other components, all the body shells as well as trailer bogies of the new ICx fleet. Bombardier also will carry out the final assembly of all end coaches and of some intermediate coaches.siemens_logo.jpg

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Stéphane Rambaud-Measson, president of the Passengers division of Bombardier Transportation, said, “We are proud to have received the order from Siemens to contribute significantly to the design and production for the ICx project. The technical solutions developed and produced by Bombardier will make a significant contribution to this key Deutsche Bahn project. The ICx will have a decisive influence on the future of long-distance travel in Germany and will be a showcase project.”

Oliver Schmidt, vice president, Sales North, of the Passengers division, said, “We are delighted to be playing a decisive role in a big project in our home market here in Germany. We will be developing and producing key technological aspects of the ICx project from our sites in Görlitz, Hennigsdorf, and Siegen. This includes the aerodynamics, the innovative body shell and the Bombardier FLEXX Eco bogie. With these items, we’re contributing massively to the cost-effectiveness of the trains and to the comfort of the passengers.”

The steel body shells for the new high speed trains are optimised in terms of aerodynamics and weight, enabling significant reductions in energy consumption. They are being developed in the Bombardier factory in Hennigsdorf and are being manufactured in Görlitz. Project management takes place at both sites. Hennigsdorf is responsible for the final assembly of all ICx end coaches.

Bombardier said it will also carry out the final assembly of one intermediate coach per train at this site. The FLEXX Eco trailer bogies reduce vehicle weight, energy consumption and noise emission. They are being supplied from the Bombardier site in Siegen. The production of the ICx will start in the summer of 2013.

Bombardier Transportation said Monday its technology offerings are helping India’s Delhi Metro Rail Corp. (DMRC) to become the first railway project in the world to receive valuable carbon credits for regenerative braking.

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The company’s MOVIA metro trains used by the Delhi Metro incorporate the Bombardier MITRAC propulsion system and regenerative braking, which can generate up to 30% in energy savings. This environmental technology has contributed to Delhi Metro earning more the equivalent of $446,000, or 308,000 euros, under a United Nations-backed initiative to combat climate change.

Within the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has claimed Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) – normally referred to as carbon credits. The CDM enables emission-reduction projects to earn carbon credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These carbon credits can then be traded and sold, thereby stimulating sustainable development and emission reductions.delhi_metro_logo.jpg
Through the sale of carbon credits over two years as part of the scheme, Delhi Metro has received the cumulative remuneration of 20 million Indian rupees. The initiative has also led Delhi Metro to become the first railway project based on regenerative braking to be registered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Anuj Daihal, chief public relations officer of DMRC, said: “We are extremely proud of our achievement in improving the energy efficiency of our metro system and becoming the first railway project to benefit from this important U.N. initiative relating to climate change. Bombardier Transportation has supported us by supplying modern, highly energy-efficient trains, which are also greatly appreciated by the travelling public for their comfort and convenience.” He added: “The money earned from the sale of carbon credits will be used to offset the investment and operation costs in the implementation of our extensive network development, as well as furthering our efforts in combating climate change.”

Bombardier Transportation is supplying 538 MOVIA metro cars to Delhi Metro, with more than 410 already in revenue service.

Metal theft has occurred in recent days in Portsmouth, R.I., and in Taunton, Mass., involving two railroad rights-of-way in New England.

Last Wednesday, June 1, a CSX engine, en route to a food service distributor located within the Myles Standish Industrial Park in Taunton, ran aground due to the removal of two eight-foot sections of rail. No one was injured. One piece of the dismembered rail was still on site.

The incident occurred on right-of-way owned by the Taunton Development Corp., but CSX police reportedly were assisting local officials in investigating the incident.

In Portsmouth, two sections of rail, one about 20 feet long and the other six feet in length, appear to have been cut by torch and removed from the Newport Secondary Line, according to Everett Stuart of the Rhode Island Association of Railroad Passengers, who was interviewed by local media concerning the event. The track involved is owned by Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation, and sees very little service of any kind.

Observers suspect both acts occurred on or around the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and they attribute both thefts in part to the lure of selling scrap metal as a fiscal option in hard economic times. “I think it’s a sign of the times,” said Taunton Development Corp. Director Dick Schafer. “People are desperate, and theft of metal is big right now.”

Jon Enos, owner of Enos Metals in Taunton, estimated that a scrap yard might pay between $240 and $300 a ton for scrap steel, though his business does not involve steel purchases. RI-ARP’s Stuart similarly estimated scrap value at roughly $250 a ton.

All nearby scrap metal shops have been informed of both incidents, officials said.
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