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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Tuesday, 29 November 2011 07:03

Canadian Pacific sells $500 million in debt

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. announced Tuesday that that subsidiary Canadian Pacific Railway Co. is issuing: US$250 million of 4.50% Notes due 2022 and US$250 million of 5.75% Notes due 2042. The transaction is expected to close on Dec.1.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 07:14

Metro-North set to open new station

MTA Metro-North Railroad will begin service to the new Fairfield Metro Station on Monday, Dec. 5. Located midway between the Fairfield and Bridgeport stations, Fairfield Metro has 1,400 parking spaces.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 16:50

BLET, ATDA say no to cooling off period

The nation’s freight railroads have reached settlements with 10 of the 13 major rail unions covering more than 60% of 132,000 employees in the current round of bargaining, but a potential strike is still looming.

The National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents more than 30 railroads, among them the five U.S.-based Class I’s—BNSF, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific—in national bargaining with the 13 unions, reported late Tuesday that the railroads have not reached agreements with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association to extend the current “cooling off” period, which ends Dec. 6. The railroads’ proposed extension, which a third union, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, accepted, was contingent upon the acceptance by all three unions. Absent an extension of the cooling off period or tentative settlement agreements, these unions and the railroads will be free under the Railway Labor Act to exercise “self-help” at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 6.

“The railroads have made and will continue to make every effort to reach agreements with the remaining three unions,” said NCCC Chairman A. Kenneth Gradia. “During the busiest shipping and travel period of the year, a nationwide disruption of rail service would deal a crushing blow to our nation’s economy, potentially costing our country $2 billion a day. The Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Obama to help avert such an outcome made recommendations for the resolution of these disputes. The railroads, and eight other unions, have agreed to implement these settlement terms, which reflect the Board’s careful consideration of both sides’ arguments. We urge the remaining unions to reach agreements with the railroads before December 6.”

According to the Capitol Hill news service The Hill, Congress is considering intervening in a potential strike. 

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday “if a group of unions representing parts of the freight rail industry could not reach a labor agreement before a Dec. 6 deadline, they would step to prevent the unions from going on strike.

 ‘While our hope is that the parties involved will find common ground and resolve the situation without congressional involvement, the House is prepared to take legislative action in the days ahead to avert a job-destroying shutdown of our nation’s railroads, in the event such legislation proves necessary,’ they said. ‘A shutdown of our nation’s railways, which would harm our economy and endanger many American jobs, is unacceptable. We are confident President Obama and the leaders of the Senate agree.’”

In a letter to Congress, Matthew Shay, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation, said, “For retailers, a strike during the busy holiday shopping season could be devastating. It is imperative that Congress recognize the severe economic harm threatened by the failure to reach agreement with the remaining rail unions and move quickly to prevent a rail strike that would prove devastating to both businesses and consumers.”

The nation’s largest rail union, the United Transportation Union, is not part of the current round of negotiations. It reached an agreement with the carriers independently several weeks ago.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 03:02

TriMet starts work on MAX solar project

TriMet on Tuesday began installing solar panels at the South Terminus of the MAX Green and Yellow lines at SW Jackson Street, near Portland State University (Ore). The agency says that, when completed, the site will be the first solar energy project utilized along TriMet's 52-mile MAX light rail system.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 03:07

Boggs joins Birmingham Rail & Locomotive

Birmingham Rail & Locomotive Co., Inc. (BR&L) on Tuesday said it had named Brent F. Boggs director of Relay Operations. Boggs will lead business development within the relay rail and OTM markets with an emphasis on expanding procurement and distribution throughout North America.

Boggs brings 13 years of experience in the relay rail, OTM, and track work department of Unitrac Railroad Materials, Inc.

Birmingham, Ala.-based BR&L manufactures 5/8” x 6” track spikes for Class I, regional, and short line Railroads as well as for contractors. The company says it plans to expand more prominently into the relay industry, with Boggs leading the effort.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 07:35

Watco to control Wisconsin & Southern

Pittsburgh, Kan.-based Watco Transportation Services, LLC has announced it is acquiring what it calls “controlling ownership” of Milwaukee-based Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. (WSOR). Watco’s acquisition adds Wisconsin’s second-largest railroad to it stable of short line and regional properties.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 09:18

Va. advocates push another Amtrak extension

Buoyed by recent state-supported extensions of Amtrak service that have proven popular, state rail advocates are clamoring for Amtrak service to be extended to Virginia’s southwestern reaches, including Roanoke, Va., last served by Amtrak’s Hilltopper in 1979.

Thursday, 01 December 2011 06:36

MBTA weighs rail service operating options

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has begun pondering its next contract for operations of its regional (“commuter”) services in the Bay State and neighboring Rhode Island, estimated to be worth $300 million per year.

mbta_logo2.jpgMBTA’s current contract with Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Co. (MBCR) does not expire until June 2013, but MBTA officials reportedly are considering whether the agency should operate the trains itself, instead of outsourcing through a contractual arrangement.

If MBTA opts to continue contracting out services, it then might re-evaluate its current standard of offering multiple-year deals or agree to a contract spanning more than a decade.

In 2003 MBTA awarded a five-year contract to MBCR and later agreed to a five-year extension which runs to 2013. MBTA had contracted with Amtrak to run its services for 16 years prior to 2013.

The agency has hired KPMG to review other commuter rail arrangements nationally and internationally and evaluate the merits of short- and long-term deals.
Thursday, 01 December 2011 07:51

AAR: U.S. freight traffic keeps climbing

U.S. freight carload traffic rose 4.0% in the week ending Nov. 26, 2011, measured against the comparable week in 2010, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. U.S. intermodal volume for the week almost matched that percentage gain, up 3.7% compared with the same week last year.

aar_logo.jpgAAR said 10 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2010, including: motor vehicles and equipment, up 42%; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 30.3%; and petroleum products, up 28.4%. Groups registering significant decreases in weekly traffic included farm products excluding grain, down 18.1%, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 10.8%.

Canadian freight carload traffic did even better, up 10.6% compared with the same week last year, while intermodal rose 5.7% in the week ending Nov. 26. Mexican freight carload volume, by contrast, declined 11.6% compared with the same week last year, though Mexican intermodal advanced 3.7%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 47 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 2.1% measured against the comparable period in 2010, while combined intermodal rose 5.0%.
Thursday, 01 December 2011 08:33

CP expands reach in Iowa via short line

Canadian Pacific has executed a trackage rights agreement with the Iowa Northern Railway that it says “expands CP’s market reach in Iowa and increases rail business options for customers’ agricultural commodities via CP anad IANR track.” The agreement provides Iowa Northern rights to operate over CP’s line between Garner, Iowa, and Nora Springs, Iowa.

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