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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Wednesday, 26 October 2011 04:54

NYC ponders subway line into New Jersey

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.

nyct_no._7_symbol.jpgA 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.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 05:00

Trinity backlog grows to $2.4 billion

Trinity Industries, Inc. has reported third-quarter net income of $31.9 million, compared with $39.7 million for the same quarter of 2010. Revenue for the third quarter was $796.8 million compared with $540.0 million for the prior-year period. The company reported an operating profit of $105.4 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared with an operating profit of $91.9 million for the same quarter last year.

The Rail Group reported revenue of $320.9 million and an operating profit of $18.2 million, compared with revenue of $131.0 million and an operating profit of $3.3 million in the third quarter of 2010. The group shipped approximately 3,605 railcars and received orders for approximately 4,250 railcars during the third quarter. As of Sept. 30, the Rail Group backlog grew to approximately $2.4 billion, representing approximately 27,885 railcars, compared with a backlog of approximately $2.2 billion as of June 30, 2011, representing approximately 27,240 railcars.

Timothy R. Wallace, Trinity’s chairman, CEO, and president, said in a statement: “The order backlogs in both our North American railcar and barge businesses increased during the third quarter, providing a nice foundation for our 2012 planning activities. Our Rail Group is beginning to achieve increased operating leverage associated with strong revenue growth which should have a positive impact on earnings going forward. Our wind towers business is in the latter stages of transitioning production lines over to a larger wind tower, and we expect their performance will begin to show improvement.”

The Railcar Leasing and Management Services Group reported revenue of $153.1 million and an operating profit of $64.2 million for the third quarter, compared with revenue of $122.1 million and an operating profit of $52.9 million during the third quarter of 2010.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 05:02

RailAmerica revenue and earnings rise

RailAmerica, Inc. third-quarter revenue increased 7% to $104.7 million with average revenue per car up 14% and carloads down 6%, the company announced Tuesday. Non-freight revenue increased 14% to $35.0 million.

railamerica.jpgRailAmerica President CEO John Giles said: “This was another strong quarter for us. Operating income excluding 45G credits, impairments and asset sales increased 10%. We achieved these results through our continuing focus on pricing, non-freight revenue, and productivity. Our success in these areas allowed us to perform well despite lower carloads and the temporary disruption of service on our New England Central Railroad from Hurricane Irene.”

RailAmerica reported third-quarter 2011 income from continuing operations of $9.1 million, or $0.17 per diluted share. This compares with $8.0 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2010.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 11:56

NS: Record earnings, operating ratio at 67.5%

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%. 

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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.

Thursday, 27 October 2011 06:32

American Railcar backlog at three-year high

American Railcar Industries reported Wednesday that its backlog swelled to approximately 7,110 cars as of Sept. 30, the largest since June 2008. The backlog includes approximately 1,700 cars for lease. The company had a backlog of approximately 1,050 cars on Dec. 31, 2010. Third-quarter 2011 shipments were approximately 1,340 cars compared with approximately 420 forthe same period in 2010.

american_railcar_logo.jpgTotal revenue for the third quarter was $125.8 million compared with $64.8 million for the third quarter of 2010. Net earnings per share were $0.19 compared to a net loss per share of $(0.29) for the prior-year period. Gross profit was $15.0 million for the third quarter of 2011 compared with $2.3 million for the same period in 2010.

Adjusted EBITDA was $12.2 million for the third quarter of 2011, compared with $1.5 million for the same period in 2010.

James Cowan, president and CEO of ARI, said in a statement: “Our orders of over 9,100 railcars during the first nine months of 2011 have given us our largest backlog since June 2008. Revenues, railcar shipments, and gross profit have increased in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the second quarter of 2011 and the third quarter of 2010. We have continued to ramp up production to meet customer demand with approximately 1,340 deliveries for the third quarter. Our railcar services segment also reported strong results, with gross profit margin at 27% on revenues of $17.2 million for the third quarter of 2011.”
Thursday, 27 October 2011 06:34

GWI

The Association of American Railroads Wednesday awarded its 2011 Professional Environmental Excellence Award to Genesee & Wyoming (GWI) Vice President for Motive Power David Powell.

aar_logo.jpgBased in Jacksonville, Fla., Powell has 19 years of environmental experience all within the rail industry. The award, the first ever awarded to an employee of a short line and regional railroad, was presented at the annual Railroad Environmental Conference at University of Illinois, Urbana.

“Environmental excellence is a trademark of the railroad industry thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of exceptional employees like the ones we are honoring here today,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “David Powell is a wonderful example for all rail employees in his dedication to Genesee & Wyoming and the industry’s overall progress in achieving environmental excellence.” gwi_logo.jpg
Powell was recognized in part for focusing on making improvements in the locomotive area that would reap benefits on the environmental front. Powell created an Environmental Team at GWI consisting of someone from each of the company’s regions and brought in industry experts to heighten awareness and increase training. He also set up field environmental assessments at operational locations where deficiencies were found and quickly rectified.

Powell also launched the process by which GWI acquired its first GenSet locomotives, and developed a program where Standard Environmental Procedures have been identified across areas that have the potential to impact the environment. He was also the force behind GWI’s entry into the EPA SmartWay Program in 2007.
Thursday, 27 October 2011 07:56

Bombardier wins Switzerland's Tell Award

Bombardier announced Thursday that it has received the Tell Award for the most significant technology project in Switzerland in recognition of its development for the company’s TWINDEXX Swiss Express intercity trains and its MITRAC propulsion and control system. The award is named for the folk hero William Tell.

Switzerland’s Ambassador to the United States, Manuel Sager, presented the award to Alfred Ruckstuhl, president, Board of Directors, Bombardier Transportation (Switzerland) Ltd., in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

bombardier_logo.jpgBombardier is the largest Canadian investor in Switzerland and is among its top 20 technology companies, employing 900 people in Zurich, Villeneuve, and Winterthur. In June 2010, SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) placed the largest vehicle order in its history with Bombardier for 59 TWINDEXX double-deck intercity trains, including options for more than 100 additional TWINDEXX trains.

“This coveted Tell Award for innovation recognizes Bombardier’s investment in rail technologies of the future,” said Stephane Wettstein, chief dountry representative in Switzerland for Bombardier Transportation. “Our TWINDEXX double-deck trains and MITRAC propulsion and control system form the backbone of future intercity travel on the Swiss Railways. At a time when economically sustainable and environmentally responsible transport solutions are at the fore of global investment thinking, Bombardier Transportation is leading the way as a rail technology innovator.”
Thursday, 27 October 2011 10:32

11 charged in LIRR disability fraud case

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.

Friday, 28 October 2011 06:55

Bidding begins for Tucson streetcar project

Tucson, Ariz., officials on Friday said contractors can start bidding today on the city streetcar construction project. Bids are due by the end of the month, and the city may select a contractor as early as next month.

The design phase of the $197 million project has been completed, with some construction work along the rail line already under way.

Tucson is targeting revenue operation to begin in 2013, with United Streetcar LLC providing seven cars for the 3.9-mile line.
Progress Rail Services Corp., a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., announced that less than 10 months after construction began, its new locomotive assembly facility at Muncie, Ind., has already completed its first diesel-electric units. The company announced the “grand opening” of the Muncie shop on Friday.

progress_rail_services_cat_logo.jpgFrom the outset, the project has been on a fast track. Progress Rail announced the site selection in October of 2010 and began construction in January of this year.

“The Muncie facility is the first locomotive assembly plant to open in the United States in many years, and is the latest milestone to mark Progress Rail’s strategic approach to compete and win in the global railway industry,” said the company.

“This is the type of responsiveness our customers have come to expect from Progress Rail,” said Billy Ainsworth, president and CEO of Progress Rail. “Through its Progress Rail subsidiary, Caterpillar has proven its commitment to the rail and transit industries and since 2006 has invested more than $2 billion to meet our customers’ growing needs.”
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