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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Monday, 14 November 2011 09:42

STB initiates streamlined procedure

The Surface Transportation Board announced Monday that, beginning Dec. 15 ,it will implement a “grant stamp” procedure for “routine, unopposed decisions” issued by the Director of the Board’s Office of Proceedings.

STB said the new procedure, which was suggested by attorney Fritz Khan, will “streamline the agency’s processes, maximize efficient use of its resources, speed service to stakeholders, and better serve the public.”

stb_logo.jpgThe Director has delegated authority to issue decisions addressing routine procedural matters.

“Some of these decisions, in matters such as unopposed motions for extensions of time or requests for a procedural schedule to which all parties have agreed to, require little, if any, discussion by the Director,” said STB. “In such cases, rather than preparing a separate decision, the Director will apply a stamp to the filed pleading, and the stamped pleading will constitute the Board's decision granting the relief sought.”

Tuesday, 15 November 2011 05:59

Class I

The Association of American Railroads Tuesday noted the freight railroad industry has been recognized for the seventh consecutive year by G.I. Jobs magazine, a career guide for military job-seekers, for the industry’s commitment to hiring military veterans.

Five Class I railroads were named in the magazine’s annual “Top 100 Military Friendly-Employers” list: CSX Corp. (No. 3 on the list); BNSF Railway (No. 6); Union Pacific (No. 12); Norfolk Southern (No. 19), and Canadian National (No. 63).

“America’s freight railroads proudly support America’s service men and women and their families,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Not only have railroads historically been a critical link in the supply chain during war time, but freight rail has been an industry in which many members of the armed services have found good-paying, private sector jobs. Today, almost 25% of the employees working for the nation’s freight railroads are current or former military service men and women.”

The G.I Jobs list surveyed U.S. companies with earnings of more than $500 million in annual revenues and based the rankings on areas such as active recruitment efforts and results in hiring America’s former service members. The survey also looked at which companies have the best company policies for employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve. Of the 5000 companies eligible, only 2% were recognized by G.I. Jobs.

“There is an attitude and skill set indicative of railroad employees that mirrors greatly with those of military service men and women,” said Hamberger. “Those characteristics that make for a successful military career also make for a successful railroad career. The freight rail industry plans to hire 15,000 people next year and we want veterans to consider a career in railroading.”
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 06:08

Quebec City-Windsor HSR study released

The Government of Canada, along with the provincial governments of Quebec andOntario, on Monday released the final report of the high speed rail study for the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. The cautious conclusion: HSR is technically feasible in the corridor, “but will require significant public expenditure. With these study findings, the Government of Canada will take the time necessary to carefully consider possible next steps.”

Click here for an executive summary of the report.

Transport Canada says the study was conducted by EcoTrain, which is a consortium of fiveconsulting firms: Dessau; MMM Group (formerly Marshall Macklin MonaghanLimited); Wilbur Smith & Assoc.; Deutsche Bahn International; and KPMG. Thejoint study included an assessment of high speed train technologies;potential routes and stations; traffic forecasts; and financial and economic(cost-benefit) analyses. Additionally, the study evaluated the impact ofHSR from socioeconomic, environmental, and competitorperspectives.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 05:01

GE Transportation to acquire RMI

GE Transportation said Wednesday its intends to acquire transportation software provider RMI from global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group.

ge_transport.jpgPending regulatory approval anticipated early next year, this acquisition expands GE Transportation’s Software and Optimization Solutions business to serve railroad customers worldwide, Erie-Pa.-based GE Transportation said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in early 2012.

GE Transportation described RMI as “a leading provider of transportation management software solutions for railroads, rail shippers, railcar leasing companies, and intermodal services in North America with revenue of approximately $45 million. RMI’s software is designed to help its users to improve efficiency and productivity while reducing costs.” 

Lorenzo Simonelli, president and CEO of GE Transportation, said: “We’re excited about the prospect of RMI joining GE Transportation. The company is well-known for its leading software products and the expertise of its team members. RMI’s software offerings complement GE Transportation’s rail portfolio. This is incredibly strategic for us and provides a great platform for expanding our softwareand services capabilities.” 

Pete Kleifgen, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based RMI, said: “We are looking forward to becoming part of GE, a world-class company, and to expanding the reach of RMI’s software solutions to railroad and transportation logistics customers around the globe.”

GE Transportation is a subsidiary of Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric Co.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 08:28

Amtrak funding nearly set for FY12

Given previous years in its existence where “zero funding” was a mantra for its critics, Amtrak may do better than expected in its federal fiscal year 2012 budget, reported out of conference committee Tuesday night. But its operations funding will be somewhat lean.

amtrak_logo.jpgAmtrak’s capital funding was actually increased by the conference committee to $952 million, up from both the House ($899 million) and Senate ($937 million) recommendations for FY12, which began Oct. 1.

The conference committee also excised House language that would forbid Amtrak from using federal appropriations to help fund state-supported trains, a move that would decimate Amtrak multi-frequency routes throughout much of the nation, save the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak FY12 operations funding, pegged at $466 million, is described as “perilously tight” and unlikely to aid system expansion, according to one industry observer on Capitol Hill.

In a move that impacts both Amtrak and U.S. high speed rail hopes, all High Speed/Corridor Development/Congestion Relief money has been removed; the Senate bill had included $100 million.

Still intact are equipment orders for long-distance passenger rail cars being supplied by CAF and electric engines being built by Siemens Mobility.

The conference committee markup now goes to both the House and Senate for final approval.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 09:15

STB ranks high as federal workplace

For the third consecutive year, the Partnership for Public ranked the Surface Transportation Board No. 1 on its Best Places to Work list among federal agencies with fewer than 2,000 workers. The STB, which is responsible for the economic regulation of railroads, has 141 employees. 

stb_logo.jpg"The ‘STB Way’ is a culture of collaboration, collegiality, and innovation. It’s a focus on getting the job done,” said STB Chairman Daniel R. ElliottIII, as he announced the award on Wednesday. “Every employee should be proud of our ranking and what it says about their dedication and hard work.”

This was the fifth year of the survey, conducted by the Partnership for Public Service along with The American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 09:29

HDR hired by PANY&NJ to rehab yard

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PA) has hired HDR, Inc. to rehabilitate the Greenville Yard in Jersey City, N.J., to improve ongoing rail-to-barge-to-rail freight movements across New York Harbor. The transload site, potentially a key freight component of cross-Hudson River traffic, has struggled in recent years due to obsolete equipment and lack of repair.

hdr40h.gifHDR’s work will include rehabilitating a barge and transfer bridge used to move freight rail cars from the yard to the barges, designing a new barge and two new bridges, demolishing two bridges, rehabilitating the railyard and waterfront structures, and environmental permitting. The project also includes the addition of approximately 10,000 feet of new track and design of yard operations facilities.

The improvement is one of the PA’s projects preparing to accommodate larger Panamax ships anticipated to serve East Coast ports following the Panama Canal expansion. The site also is being upgraded to allow movement of up to 11,000 tons a day of solid waste out of New York City by rail, much of which currently moves over the road. The yard has mainland connections to both CSX and Norfolk Southern through Conrail Shared Assets trackage.


Omaha, Neb.-based HDR, the prime design consultant, will perform a freight capacity analysis and provide context sensitive solutions. Ten bid packages will be prepared for the project’s phases. Sub-consultant Worley Parsons will perform themarine work (barge design, and rehabilitation of barge and fender system). Construction is expected to be completed within five years.

Said HDR Project Manager Pete Davis, “This highly complex and fast-paced project will set a standard for other rail/port facility projects.”

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 10:16

Deep cost-cutting is key to NYMTA budgets

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released its Final Proposed Budget for 2012 as well as an updated four-year Financial Plan.

Thursday, 17 November 2011 03:48

Russian Railways: 6,000-mile container run

Russian Railways (RZD) Thursday said that the company, through its subsidiary Transcontainer, has organized for a demonstration container freight train to travel along the route between Nahodka-Vostochnaya (in the port city of Nahodka on Russia’s Far Eastern Railway) to Shushari (in St. Petersburg on Russia’s Octyaberskaya Railway) in seven calendar days, covering 9,795 kilometers (about 6,073 miles).

rzd_logo.jpgThe train will consist of 50 freight cars loaded with containers of automobile parts, as well as trailers and semitrailers sent by Hyundai. The demonstration train’s arrival in Shuhari is scheduled to coincide with the Second Railway Congress in Moscow on Friday, Nov. 18.

RZD also noted on Thursday it had posted “positive” economic numbers for the first nine months of 2011, but net profit of 56.1 billion rubles ($1.81 million) slipped 19.5% below the comparable period in 2010.

The company said cargo volume rose 3% to 921.7 million tons during the nine-month span. Overall revenue from freight traffic increased 6.9%.

RZD said its passenger service revenue fell 86% to 5.2 billion rubles ($160,000) in the first nine months of 2011, attributed to spinning off long-distance services to subsidiary OJSC Federal Passenger Co. on April 1, 2010, and also handing over regional passenger services to suburban passenger companies on Jan. 1. 


Thursday, 17 November 2011 04:01

Rink named new GM at PATCO

The bistate Delaware River Port Authority board Wednesday named John D. Rink as the new general manager of PATCO, the rapid transit line linking Philadelphia with its New Jersey suburbs. Rink succeeds Robert Box, who retired last April.

Rink had served as a technical supervisor in PATCO's Way and Power division while also serving in his part-time post as mayor of Barrington, N.J., located in Camden County. His mayoral term ends on Dec. 31.

Despite a rule adopted last year by the DRPA board to place all items on its agenda at least 48 hours prior to a vote, the Rink appointment just before the board's regular meeting. DRPA chief executive John Matheussen cited a provision that allows late additions to the agenda with a super-majority vote of the board.
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