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.
A $250,000 study by Parsons Brinckerhoff, due to be publicly released soon, is expected to endorse a proposal to extend New York City Transit’s No. 7 subway line under the Hudson River to Secaucus, N.J. The proposal, strongly backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is becoming a rising priority for the mayor, who already has committed city funding to extending the No. 7 from Times Square to Manhattan’s West Side. The mayor reportedly wants to get the project under way before leaving office at the end of 2013. A No. 7 extension to Secaucus would expand the city’s subway system outside the boroughs—let alone across the state line—for the first time ever. Though the New Jersey terminus would be at New Jersey Transit’s Secaucus Junction Station on the Northeast Corridor, other stops might also occur in Hoboken or Weehawken, N.J. Officials in Hudson County, N.J., and the New Jersey Governor’s office also have expressed interest in the idea. Christie last year terminated an $8.7 billion tunnel project to expand NJ Transit rail capacity under the Hudson River, labeled Access to the Region's Core (ARC). Early cost estimates for a No. 7 tunnel are in a similar cost range.
A spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday, “We have been intrigued all along by this as a potential alternative” though New Jersey rail advocates point out the ridership market of the No. 7 subway extension would be more local and urban, and therefore different, from the now-dead ARC project.
Norfolk Southern Corp. late Wednesday announced record third-quarter net income of $554 million, up 24% compared with the same period of 2010. Diluted earnings per share were a record $1.59, up 14%.
Railway operating revenues rose 18% to $2.9 billion, primarily due to result of a 14% increase in revenue per unit. The operating ratio improved by 2.1 percentage points to a third-quarter record 67.5%.
“Norfolk Southern produced another outstanding quarter, setting all-time records for income from operations and earnings per share, while also establishing third-quarter records for net income and operating ratio,” said Norfolk Southern President and CEO Wick Moorman. “We continue to see modest improvement in most of our business groups, and we remain focused on the long-term enhancement of our franchise.”
General merchandise revenues were $1.4 billion, 12% higher compared with third-quarter 2010 results. Coal revenues increased 27%, to $899 million, compared with the same period last year. Intermodal revenues were $551 million, 19% higher compared with the third quarter of 2010.
Railway operating expenses for the quarter were $2.0 billion, 14% higher compared with the same period of 2010, primarily due to increased fuel expenses, which rose by $126 million, and compensation and benefits costs.
Income from railway operations climbed 26% to an all-time record $938 million compared with the same period last year.
U.S. prosecutors Thursday charged 11 people, including former Long Island Rail Road employees, with an alleged $1 billion fraud involving hundreds of railroad workers filing false disability claims. The fraud reportedly also involved doctors, who assisted LIRR employees filing disability claims shortly before they retired. The move allowed those filing to claim disability pay on top of their retirement pension, prosecutors said. In filing the claims, the railway workers allegedly paid up to $1,200 to hire one of several disability doctors.The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said the scheme cost the RailroadRetirement Board more than $1 billion. The investigation developed after aseries of reports by The New York Times starting in 2008. The Times said that almost every longtime LIRR employee was receiving disability payments, resulting in a disability rate sharply higher than other regional passenger railroads, including sister railroad Metro-North.
Between 2004 and 2008, 61% of the 1,423 LIRR workers who retired and began receiving some form of Railroad Retirement Board benefits were between 50 and 55 years old, prosecutors said. By comparison, only 7% of 61 people who retired from the MTA-controlled Metro-North commuter railroad and started receiving benefits were between 50 and 55 years old during that period, prosecutors said.