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, 02 November 2011 04:46

GWI adds Georgia short line to portfolio

Greenwich, Conn.-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc. on Wednesday announced the formation of a new subsidiary, the Hilton & Albany Railroad, Inc. (HAL), after signing an agreement with Norfolk Southern to lease and operate a 56-mile segment of NS track that runs from Hilton, Ga., to Albany, Ga.

gwi_logo.jpgOperations are expected to begin in January. HAL is expected to handle approximately 12,000 carloads annually, primarily overhead traffic between NS and GWI's Bay Line, Chattahoochee Bay, and Chattahoochee Industrial railroads. HAL also will serve several local agricultural and aggregate customers in southwest Georgia, GWI said.

GWI earlier this week announced its < a href=http://www.railwayage.com/breaking-news/gwi-3q-earnings-rise-3665.html>third-quarter earnings.
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 05:01

Jack L. Hadley, 85

Jack L. Hadley, at one time the owner of the Kiamichi Railroad Co. operating in Oklahoma and Texas, died Oct. 30 at his home in Latrobe, Pa. He was 85.

Hadley was an executive for the railroads of Jones & Laughlin Steel and later LTV Steel before becoming a short line owner in 1987. Within one year, Hadley tripled the number of employees at Hugo, Okla.-based Kiamichi Railroad and was serving 100 businesses along the line, stretching from Medill, Okla., to Paris, Tex. Hadley then acquired the adjoining Chaparral Railroad Co., and also began operating the South Orient Railroad in Texas.

Hadley sold the properties in 1995; the Kiamichi Railroad, which also extends into Arkansas, currently is owned by Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica.

Hadley started his career in labor relations before moving to Jones & Laughlin, where he focused on the company’s rail operations, including the Monongahela Connecting Railroad in Pittsburgh, the Aliquippa and Southern Railroad in Aliquippa, Pa., and the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad in Cleveland.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 05:16

Operation Lifesaver announces four safety grants

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. on Wednesday announced that four transit agencies will receive rail safety education grants as part of its partnership with the Federal Transit Administration.

Transit agencies selected for grants under the Operation Lifesaver/FTA partnership include: Memphis (Tenn.) Area Transit Authority (MATA); Phoenix’s Valley Metro; Portland, Ore.’s Tri-Met; and Salt Lake City’s TRAX.

operation-lifesaver-.jpgOLI President Helen M. Sramek announced the grants in a speech at FTA’s 15th Annual State Safety Oversight meeting in Washington. D.C. “Even as rail transit remains among the safest modes of transportation in the United States, continued growth in ridership heightens the importance of safety education in our communities,” said Sramek. “We are proud to partner with the Federal Transit Administration on these safety grants.”

Sramek also noted that nine transit agencies have incorporated the Operation Lifesaver “Bad Move” rail-pedestrian safety poster campaign into their public education efforts.

“The ‘Bad Move’ PSA targets people aged 16 to 34 with a message that’s intended to reduce pedestrian-train deaths and injuries,” said Sramek. “These transit agencies have joined our ‘Bad Move’ interactive poster campaign, increasing awareness of the dangers of walking on or near train tracks. As our campaign continues to expand, we are extending the ‘Bad Move’ Write Your Own Ending contest through Nov. 9, 2011 in order to make sure everyone who would like can enter.”
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 05:32

Senate offers Gateway Tunnel modest funding

The Senate on Tuesday approved $15 million for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on the railroad’s Gateway Tunnel project, proposed earlier this year to expand capacity on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor under the Hudson River and through a portion of New Jersey.

amtrak_logo.jpgAmtrak had initially requested $50 million for the study, but in a statement tacitly acknowledged that the railroad was fortunate to receive any funding at all, given the pressures to reduce federal spending.

"Today’s announcement also brings us one step closer to Gateway's desired goal—expanding track and station capacity necessary to enable Amtrak's next generation high-speed rail plan and support improved service for thousands of Amtrak and New Jersey Transit passengers traveling between New York and New Jersey each day," Amtrak said in a statement.

Funding support in the House is far from certain, however.

Numerous press reports identify Gateway Tunnel as a “replacement” for Access to the Region’s Core, a decade-plus effort to add tunnels under the Hudson River which was terminated late last year by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But numerous rail advocates in New Jersey, as well as some rail industry officials speaking privately to Railway Age, point out the two projects are in fact quite different in scope and intent.

Interviewed by nj.com, Petra Todorovich, director of America 2050, said: "The way I see it is the ARC tunnel was primarily… regional commuter rail with side benefits for inter-city rail. The Gateway tunnel is more of a project focused on inter-city rail with side benefits for commuter rail."
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 05:59

Rail unit powers L.B. Foster 3Q earnings

L.B. Foster Co. said its third-quarter earnings rose 50% to $9.7 million or 95 cents per share , measured against $6.5 million, or 63 cents per share, in the comparable period one year ago.

Revenue rose 30% to $162.7 million from $125.6 million in the year-ago quarter, the company said Tuesday.

lbfoster.jpgL.B. Foster said its rail and tubular segments reported strong results, while weakness in its construction unit continued. The company’s Portec rail products and rail distribution sales were up 67%; L.B. Foster completed the acquisition of Portec Rail Products last year.But the company expressed concern over the uncertainty of federal transportation funding, which it says will continue to impact its business because it may discourage additional infrastructure spending.

The "lack of progress related to new transportation legislation and steadily decreasing government spending on infrastructure due to weak finances are perpetuating negative headwinds for our construction and transit markets," the company said in a statement. "We expect to continue to experience a highly competitive market environment for the next nine months and we are concerned about the likelihood of a satisfactory resolution of transportation legislation as well as appropriate funding mechanisms for such a bill."
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 08:51

Class I railroads post strong safety gains

Class I railroads of the U.S. have come through the recession years busier and more profitable than most American industries. At the same time they have achieved strong gains in safety.

Preliminary statistics released this week by the Office of Safety Analysis of the Federal Railroad Administration for the first eight months of 2011 show significant improvement in almost every area of operation.

Total accidents-incidents for the January-August period of 2011, at 7,629, were 17.7% lower than in the same period of 2008. Rail-related fatalities were down 8.2% to 402. Highway-rail grade crossing fatalities declined 11.4% to 171, and trespassing fatalities dropped 6.9% to 298. The 18 employee deaths recorded in 2011 were unacceptable by any standard and showed no improvement from the 17 recorded four years ago.

In other categories, the four-year comparison showed collisions down 14.7% to 110; derailments down 25.0% to 947; and yard accidents down 27.4% to 692.
Thursday, 03 November 2011 03:46

Greenbrier Cos. reports

The Greenbrier Cos. Thursday reported net earnings of $12.6 million, or 42 cents per diluted share, in its fiscal fourth quarter ended Aug. 31, compared with earnings of $7.7 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, in its comparable 2010 quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenue was a record $442.7 million, up from $178.8 million in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2010, Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Greenbrier said.

greenbrier_cos._logo.jpgResults for the quarter include a loss on extinguishment of debt of $5.7 million pre-tax, $3.4 million after-tax, for costs associated with the repayment in full of a $72 million term loan. Excluding these charges, net earnings were $16.0 million, or $.52 per diluted share, the company said.

The company also noted its backlog continues to grow, and now is measured at 14,500 units valued at $1.23 billion. New railcar deliveries in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2011 were a record 4,000 units, compared with 700 units in the fourth quarter of 2010. Total new railcar deliveries were 9,400 units in fiscal 2011,compared with 2,500 units in fiscal 2010.

William A. Furman, president and chief executive officer, said, “We ended the quarter and the year with strong operating momentum, particularly in our manufacturing segment where we successfully executed at high production volumes. We continue to see strength in our end markets across each of our business segments and our new railcar backlog continued to grow in our fourth quarter. These factors give us good visibility and confidence that we can support higher new railcar production levels in fiscal 2012.

“We believe our industry fundamentals are sound, and that several forces are driving new railcar demand that are uncoupled from the more uncertain economic and political environments. Among these forces are stronger railroad balance sheets, truck traffic diversion to rail, replacement demand, and a growing strength in the U.S. energy market, which will continue to create increased demand for covered hopper cars and tank cars,” Furman said.

Cubic Transportation Systems said Thursday it now has integrated high-resolution video displays in its next-generation machines for public transit.

The company, a subsidiary of San Diego-based Cubic Corp. says the new machines offer transit agencies the ability to offer video advertising, information, marketing, direction maps, and other messages directly at the point of purchase, adding a new channel for high-traffic generating agencies to attract additional revenue, and to get more useful information directly to customers.

The new video display is two times larger than Cubic's current display, with multi-touch capability allowing customers to zoom in and out, similar to how smart-phone touch technology works. When touched by a customer, the screen automatically launches the user interface for purchasing or adding value to a fare product. After a pre-set period of inactivity, the screen defaults to the advertising or other informational screens defined by the transit agency.

As an option, Cubic says, it can integrate a 3D display delivering imagery that can be viewed without the need for special glasses.

“The technology for this enhanced display capability has reached a level of stability and pricing that we can offer it to customers either as an option for upgrading their existing Cubic ticket machines, or as a new device altogether for a new customer,” said Cubic Transport Systems Vice President of Engineering Pradip Mistry. “This enhanced capability helps to drive more useful information in real time.”
Thursday, 03 November 2011 06:44

Norfolk Southern to hire 500 by year

In order to meet growing demand from freight customers and to replace workers retiring in coming years, Norfolk Southern plans to hire 500 employees in eight states by the end of 2011.

ns_logo.jpg“Norfolk Southern has hired more than 3,500 employees so far this year and anticipates adding 2,600 employees in 2012,” the company said Thursday.

There are openings now for conductors, freight car repair personnels, machinists, signal maintainers, and track workers in the following locations:

Illinois: Chicago, Decatur; Indiana: Fort Wayne, Princeton; Maryland: Baltimore; New York: Buffalo; Ohio: Cincinnati; Pennsylvania: Altoona, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh; Tennessee: Chattanooga, Knoxville; Virginia: Manassas, Roanoke.

“These jobs offer excellent pay and benefits and the opportunity to build a long-term career at a company that has been vital to the U.S. economy for more than 180 years,” said Cindy Earhart, NS vice president of human resources.
Thursday, 03 November 2011 06:51

Willis Edward Bell, 1918-2011

Willis Edward Bell, 93, of Port Charlotte, Fla., died Monday, Oct. 31, 2011. Bell was the Chief Signal Engineer of the Erie Lackawanna Railway and later the Chief Engineer for Communications and Signals at the United States Railway Association. He completed his career as a Project Manager at Gibbs and Hill, Inc., in Washington D.C., designing and implementing the signaling and train control system for the WMATA Metrorail rapid transit system. Bell and his wife Lois, who predeceased him, retired to Port Charlotte in 1983.

Bell graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1943 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Signal Corps of the United States Army during World War II.

Bill is survived by his four children—Thomas E. Bell of Houston, Tex.; Craig W. Bell of Indianapolis; Susan A. Miner of Atkinson, N.H., and Barbara Mills of Glenville, Pa.—five grandchildren, and a brother, Frank Donald Bell of Allison Park, Pa.

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