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, 21 November 2011 08:23

STB authorizes 35-mile Alaska Rail extension

The Surface Transportation Board issued a decision Monday authorizing the Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) to build a 35-mile line connecting Port MacKenzie in south-central Alaska to a point on ARRC’s existing main line near Houston, Alaska. The line would provide a rail transport option between Port MacKenzie and the interior of Alaska, where trucking is now the only mode of surface freight transportation.

stb_logo.jpgThe authorization is subject to environmental mitigation conditions, said the STB:

“The Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA), working with the assistance of several federal agencies, has completed a thorough environmental analysis that carefully compared 12 potential routes and the No-Action (or No-Build) alternative, in order to take a hard look at potential environmental impacts as required by the National Environmental Policy Act , and identify the environmentally preferred alternative.

“Based on that analysis, OEA has recommended extensive environmental conditions to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the transaction’s potential environmental impacts, although it notes that adverse impacts could still occur to certain resource areas. The proceeding has included ample opportunity for public input during the environmental review process, and OEA incorporated the comments of agencies and other interested parties inpreparing its environmental analysis and developing its final recommended environmental conditions in this case.”

The board noted that the no-action alternative “would avoid the environmental effects of construction and operation, but would fail to provide freight rail services between Port MacKenzie and the interior of Alaska, leaving trucking as the only available mode of surface freight transportation.”

ARRC filed its petition to build the line on Dec. 5, 2008.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 05:41

Railcomm aids BNSF yard expansion

RailComm said Tuesday it has been selected to expand its existing yard system at BNSF’s Alliance South Yard in Alliance, Neb.

railcomm_logo.jpgFairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said its state-of-the-art Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) System will be used to remotely control switches. The DOC® System will include workstations that will allow the user to monitor device status and review operation logs of all system activity. The workstations will display a graphical representation of the yard area, and the user will be able to view all the devices in the field.

RailComm’s 2.4 GHz RADiANT™ data radios will provide a wireless communication network to link the office with the field locations.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 07:24

Employment up modestly on Class I railroads

Employment on Class I railroads of the U.S. rose to 160,251 in mid-October, up a modest 0.01%, or 11 employees, over mid-September but 3.87% higher than in October 2010.

stb_logo.jpgThe strongest gains were in maintenance. Maintenance of equipment and stores rose 4.53% in October measured against employment a year earlier, and was up 0.72% from September 2011. Maintenance of way and structures employees increased 4.49% from year-earlier levels, and also rose 0.2% from mid-September.

Year-over-year increases were recorded in every employment category,
 according to the Surface Transportation Board Office of Safety Analysis. Compared with September 2011, only one category, Transportation (train and engine), saw a decline in October, down 0.51%.

Compared with October 2010 levels, inn mid-October 2011 the employment of Executives, officials, and staff
 assistants reached 9,354, up 2.57%; Professional and administrative rose 0.76% to 13,904; Transportation
(other than train and engine), with 6,727 employees, was up 2.47%; and Transportation (train and engine) advanced 4.25%.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:38

STB denies mediation in BNSF coal dust case

The Surface Transportation Board issued a decision Tuesday denying a petition of the Western Coal Traffic League (WCTL) asking the Board to institute mediation on a new coal dust tariff issued by BNSF Railway. Instead, the decision is instituting a new proceeding “to consider the reasonableness of the new tariff’s safe harbor provision.”

Tuesday, 22 November 2011 10:24

DOT grants $928.6 million for California HSR

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Tuesday formally awarded a $928.6 million grant to the California High-Speed Rail Authority for phase 1 ofconstruction of California high speed rail. The move comes even as Congress recently voted to terminate the Obama Administration’s overall funding emphasis on high speed rail.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 04:27

Houston readies for FFGA ceremony

Federal, state, and local officials will hold a Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA) special signing ceremony Monday, Nov. 28, for Houston’s light rail expansion projects.

houston_metro_logo.jpgHarris County (Tex.) Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) says the ceremony will be attended by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, three Texas U.S. House representatives, and Houston Mayor Annise Park. Metro Board Chair Gilbert Garcia and Metro President and CEO George Greanias also will be present.

Metro is billing the event as “Houston’s First Ever Full Funding Grant Agreements for Light Rail,” indirectly highlighting the fact that Texas’ largest city committed to its first light rail transit line (of roughly 7 miles) without significant federal backing.

Metro notes the expansion projects generating the ceremony Monday include the North (Red) Line, running from University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) to Northline Transit Center, Houston Community College, and Northline Commons Mall. The Southeast (Purple) Line connects downtown with Texas Southern University and the University of Houston central campus.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 07:02

Arizona utility wins rate case against UP, BNSF

The Surface Transportation Board announced Wednesday that it had awarded an estimated $63 million in reparations and rate reductions to the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative in a decision that grants AEPCO an average rate reduction of 37% over the period 2009-2018.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 07:43

BNSF asks customers to help avert strike

BNSF posted a letter on its website Wednesday warning its customers that a strike threat still faces the railroad industry and asking for their help in averting it.

Monday, 28 November 2011 04:59

AAR: Weekly traffic keeps gaining

U.S. carload freight traffic advanced 1.1% during the week ending Nov. 19, measured against the comparable week in 2010, the Association of American Railroads reported. U.S. intermodal volume did even better, rising 3% for the week compared with a year ago.

Monday, 28 November 2011 05:11

Bombardier marks work in India, Netherlands

Bombardier Transportation on Monday said it has won a contract for propulsion and control equipment in India from Mumbai Railway Vikas Corp. (MRVC) in India. MRVC is a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Government of Maharashtra. On Thanksgiving Day, Bombardier announced its readiness to enable the first mixed European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 and conventional signaling operation, on the line between Amsterdam and Utrecht in The Netherlands.

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