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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Led by Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, the Department of Transportation on Monday hosted a roundtable discussion in Washington with transportation, manufacturing, and steel industry leaders to discuss a plan for producing steel streetcar rails in the U.S.

“The Obama Administration is committed to putting Americans back to work making the products our nation needs to compete,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. “We want U.S. manufacturers to supply the rails for U.S. streetcars and today’s meeting was a first step toward making this a reality.”

Porcari said he hopes that the meeting will help determine the potential market size for steel rails and the level of interest among manufacturers, as well as identify obstacles that need to be addressed.

“The Federal Transit Administration is making major investments in streetcars as they've made a real comeback in many cities,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “It only makes sense that the rail they ride on is stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’ because with the ingenuity of the American workforce and industry, we can do it right here at home.”

DOT said industry experts estimate that 18,000 metric tons of steel girder rail will be needed during the next three years to meet the demand of streetcar projects being planned and built in the U.S. That amount is expected to expand to upwards of 33,000 metric tons over the coming decade.

Deputy Secretary Porcari called the meeting following a survey by the FTA and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership that indicated interest among domestic steelwork foundries in manufacturing streetcar rails.

Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley participated Monday in the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new, $97.5 million Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility in McCalla, Ala., part of the railroad’s Crescent Corridor initiative to build a high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast.

Scheduled to open in late 2012, the facility will occupy a 316-acre site adjacent to the Jefferson Metropolitan Park. It has a targeted capacity of 165,000 containers and trailers annually.

ns_logo.jpg“The Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility is ideally located to serve the Southeast and is a critical component of our Crescent Corridor,” said Moorman. “We thank Secretary LaHood and USDOT for their efforts to form public-private partnerships to create jobs and economic development opportunities.”

“The Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility will bring significant economic growth to McCalla and thousands of jobs to Alabamians,” said Gov. Bentley at the ceremony.

Norfolk Southern describes the Crescent Corridor as a “program of independent projects and improvements geared toward creating a 2,500-mile intermodal route spanning from New Jersey to Louisiana that touches 26% of the nation’s population and 30% of the nation’s manufacturing output.” The cost is estimated at $2.5 billion for full development.
Monday, 06 June 2011 08:33

Ceremony marks CSX yard expansion

A groundbreaking ceremony Monday marked the start of a $100 million expansion of a CSX freight yard in Worcester, Mass. Gov. Deval L. Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray joined state and local elected officials at the ceremonial groundbreaking, hailing the celebration as an important milestone in a rail transportation agreement between the state and CSX involving freight and passenger rail.

csx_logo.jpg.jpgCSX is moving its freight operations out of the Beacon Park yards in Boston to existing rail yards in Central and Western Massachusetts, and plans to make Worcester its freight hub for New England. When completed, the freight yard will encompass 79 acres. The expansion will also permit increased passenger rail traffic between Worcester and Boston.

"Expanding commuter rail service to Worcester is a critical component of our administration’s economic development agenda,” Gov. Patrick said. “Today’s groundbreaking ceremony brings us one step closer to improving transportation service and increasing opportunity for business creation between Worcester and Boston.”

Lt. Gov. Murray said the project it will provide a significantly stronger transportation link between Worcester and Boston, as well as linking job and educational centers along that corridor. He also said it will expand available affordable shipping options for companies in Massachusetts so they can bring their products to market in a cost-efficient manner.

"This has been a tremendous partnership between the Commonwealth, CSX and the city of Worcester," Mr. O'Brien said. "This development is key to the future or our city, linking centers of economic growth and creating jobs. The future does indeed look very bright for our community."

For CSX’s part, "We will be a good neighbor to the city of Worcester and we hope to continue this partnership for years to come," said Lsa Mancini, senior vice president of human resources and labor relations at CSX.
Monday, 06 June 2011 10:41

AREMA warns of show guide scam

AREMA, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, has posted an alert on its home page, warning of a scam involving Railway Interchange 2011. AREMA is participating in the event, set for Sept. 18-21, 2011 in Minneapolis, in conjunction with its 2011 Annual Conference.

“We are alerting all Exhibitors and Sponsors of an email, mail and/or phone scam wherein a company is claiming to be soliciting ads or ‘upgraded ads’ for the Show Guide for Railway Interchange in Minneapolis,” AREMA says.

“Please be aware that we have not authorized any third party company or persons other than Simmons-Boardman Publishing to solicit ads for this Event. The company doing this unauthorized solicitation is using the name Fair Guide. It may claim to have all of your contact information for the Show. The address on the return envelope is Glendale Heights, Ill., and the other paperwork shows the publisher’s address in Bratislava, Slovakia.

“Simmons-Boardman Publishing, the publishers of Railway Track & Structures and Railway Age magazines, is the official publisher of the Event Guide for Railway Interchange 2011.

“If you are contacted, we urge you to end the phone call immediately, delete the email, or discard the mailing and not to provide any credit card/data or secure information,” AREMA recommends.

A similar warning has been posted on the Railway Interchange 2011 website

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 05:13


Atlanta-based TÜV Rheinland Rail Sciences, Inc. says it has upgraded and moved its Omaha testing and metallurgical analysis laboratory to a new facility in nearby La Vista, Neb., about 12 miles southeast of the company’s previous facility.


The company says the new facility will allow TÜV RSI to continue to offer a range of applied mechanical and materials engineering services, along with additional offerings, including advanced chemical analysis, among others.

“We feel our new lab will provide significant benefits to our customers,” said Gary Wolf, president of TÜV Rheinland Rail Sciences, Inc. “We have moved from crowded, shared space into a new dedicated facility with easier access to major transportation routes, enhanced work-flow paths and upgraded equipment. Our customers will immediately notice our faster turn-around times and the increased services we will provide.”

Testing services the laboratory provides include: failure analysis; metallography; non-destructive testing (NDT); SEM and optical microscopy; mechanical (tensile, fatigue, impact) testing; corrosion analysis; and chemical analysis. Advanced chemical analysis services will be offered shortly after the laboratory’s new glow discharge spectrometer is installed, expected within the next two to three months.

Additional services offered through this facility include finite element analysis (FEA), on-site testing and data acquisition, mechanical and materials design services, new product development assistance, supplier validation, quality control, accident reconstruction and expert witness testimony.

Users of the laboratory’s services typically include: original equipment manufacturers; aerospace, automotive and general industrial manufacturers; materials and component manufacturers; pressure vessel manufacturers; railways and railroad suppliers; and others.

TÜV RSI is a subsidiary of TÜV Rheinland North America Holding Inc., itself part of Cologne, Germany-based TÜV Rheinland AG.

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 05:27

RailComm lands Denver RTD contract

Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Tuesday its Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) train control system has been chosen for use in Denver Regional Transportation District’s West Corridor.

railcomm_logo.jpgRailComm’s DOC® is a next generation computer-aided dispatching system that will be used to centrally control the CTC signal system and the OCS (Overhead Catenary System) electrification sub-stations.

The DOC® software-based control system is an advanced command, control, communications and information (C3i) server-based platform that supports a wide variety of integrated solutions for indication, control, access and distribution of critical operational data across the corporate enterprise.
Bourque Logistics, Inc., which provides logistics software for industrial shippers, is introducing RAILPort™, a web-based tool that allows casers to create and distribute custom reports. RAILPort™ utilizes current data pulled from the Bourque Logistics database.

“RAILPort™ is extremely user-friendly, allowing users to quickly build reports from pre-written queries that span loading and shipment status, railcar profile and compliance, and freight cost and payment templates across all BL software modules,” Bourque said in an announcement Tuesday.

With RAILPort™, a user can select and filter data fields, re-size and sort columns and their order, and set breaks and totals. Users can then define a distribution schedule to others via email PDF, Excel, or “Live-Link”connects that re-query on demand.

“RAILPort’s Live-Link function provides the most recent data that ‘canned’ reports do not,” commented Steve Bourque, president, Bourque Logistics.

Hoping to prompt resolution between CSX Corp. and New York State, the Empire State Passengers Association (ESPA) on Monday declared it supported CSX’s proposed 90 mph speed limit for CSX’s route between Buffalo and Schenectady.

New York’s Department of Transportation, in negotiations with CSX to establish higher-speed rail (HrSR) service upstate, has sought a top speed of 110 mph, prompting objections from CSX, based in part on concerns over crew safety.

espa_logo.jpgIn a statement, ESPA President Bruce Becker said, “The immediate needs of New York state's rail passengers are for reduced trip times and improved on-time performance reliability.” He added, “It is critical that New York state and CSX finalize the agreements necessary to allow the currently funded incremental improvement infrastructure projects to proceed forward as quickly as possible, particularly the vital, 110 mph second main track between Albany and Schenectady.”

In response, a CSX spokesman said, “CSX appreciates the comments from the Empire State Passengers Association as we continue to work with the state toward solutions that will provide safe, efficient rail passenger service while ensuring CSX's ability to deliver safe, efficient, green, and economically vital freight rail service to the region.”

The right-of-way in question is part of Amtrak’s Empire Corridor, with current top speeds of 79 mph. Amtrak trains on the Empire Corridor south of Albany can reach 110 mph over short spans of the route.csx_logo.jpg.jpg 

ESPA’s Becker said accord on a 90 mph speed limit would trigger needed upgrades along the route, including a third track being discussed by CSX and the state to increase capacity. “That, from the passenger's perspective, would increase reliability,” he said.

New York recently received federal funds, reapportioned from Florida’s rejection of high speed rail money, that is target to various portions of the Empire Corridor east of Schenectady, including the second track on the Empire Corridor between Albany and Schenectady, and a fourth track to expand capacity at Rensselaer Station.

Late Tuesday, Amtrak, in a statement, said, “Amtrak has and will continue to work with its partners at the State of New York and the host railroads to provide support and lend its expertise tothe further development of any high speed rail initiatives in the region.”


Wednesday, 08 June 2011 06:16

Bombardier wins new business in Australia

Bombardier Transportation has a stake valued at $265 million in a $1.1 billion contract that the Queensland state government has awarded to the GoldLinQ consortium to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the first stage of the Gold Coast Rapid Transit light rail system in an 18-year public-private partnership.

bombardier_logo.jpgBombardier said in a statement Wednesday that as a member of the consortium, it will supply 14 BOMBARDIER FLEXITY 2 light rail vehicles, signaling and control systems, communication systems, electrification including traction power supply substations, and overhead line equipment, as well as project management and systems engineering.

The Gold Coast Rapid Transit system is designed to handle 50,000 passengers a day with provisions to expand capacity to 75,000 passengers per day.

Sixteen stations are planned for the 13-kilometer (8-mile) LRT route, which will serve the new Gold Coast University Hospital, Griffith University, and commercial, retail, and recreational centers of Southport, Surfers Paradise, and Broadbeach. Revenue service is scheduled to begin in 2014.

San Francisco's Transport Workers Union Local 250-A is pressuring MUNI to seek repeal of Proposition G, a voter initiative funding improvements to light rail and bus operations and infrastructure. The union's effort appears aimed at strengthening its bargaining position in upcoming talks.

muni_logo.jpgRepeal of the proposition reportedly could jeopardize $2 billion in federal funding for the capital projects involved. Lawyers for the union, which represents roughly 2,000 MUNI rail and bus operators, complained to the Department of Labor earlier this week that the initiative violates a Federal Transit Act guarantee of fair bargaining rights for employees.

A union spokesman said labor officials could bar MUNI from receiving federal transit funds until it complies with federal labor standards. Such funds comprise the bulk of many MUNI capital projects.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates MUNI, already faces a $2.2 billion shortfall in its capital budget.

In another matter, SFMTA on Thursday said that, effective immediately, folding bicycles are allowed on all MUNI vehicles, except cable cars.
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