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.
CN’s new Fuel Management Excellence (FMX) program is providing the railroad with significant increases in fuel efficiency and environmental benefits.
“FMX is a vital part of taking our precision railroading model to the next level,” said Keith Creel, executive vice president and chief operating officer (pictured). “Sophisticated fuel efficiency and monitoring systems will aid our efforts to measure and report reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and the scope of the carbon footprints of CN and our customers. All this is vital as fuel prices remain a challenge and freight customers put greater emphasis on sustainable transportation options. CN is making significant strides in improving the fuel efficiency of its freight train operations, obtaining important sustainability gains, and delivering a cost-effective transportation service through a series of initiatives, including the acquisition of modern locomotives, new technology applications to existing locomotives, enhanced analytic abilities, and employee training.”
CN’s FMX program includes:
• Acquisition of new fuel-efficient locomotives. In 2010 CN purchased 102 new high-horsepower locomotives, as well as 102 second-hand high-horsepower locomotives that are being upgraded. These locomotives are approximately 15% more fuel-efficient than the ones they replace and comply fully with applicable regulatory requirements for reduced locomotive exhaust emissions.
• Installation of Wi-Tronix telemetry systems on high-horsepower locomotives. Wi-Tronix provides real-time information about locomotive and train performance through remote measurement and reporting of data, including precise fuel consumption, to an off-board CN computer system at regular intervals or at request. The technology allows CN to optimize the match of locomotive horsepower to the trailing tonnage of the train by isolating or shutting down locomotives and reducing throttle settings. It continuously scans train operations for the proper application of train handling rules to optimize fuel use, determines when and where fueling is required, and ensures temporarily inactive locomotives are shut down. CN expects to equip up to 1,200 high-horsepower locomotives with locomotive telemetry technology by 2013.
• Trip Optimizer technology from GE Transportation. Trip Optimizer is a train “cruise control” system that follows a pre-determined speed trajectory over a GPS track map to optimize fuel consumption. It minimizes braking by planning miles in advance for speed zone and terrain changes. CN’s Vancouver-Montreal corridor is fully mapped for this technology, and CN is now moving intermodal trains equipped with the technology over key sections of this corridor. By September 2011, CN plans to have intermodal and merchandise trains in the corridor running with Trip Optimizer. CN has 125 locomotives with Trip Optimizer and plans to install this type of technology on up to 400 locomotives by the end of 2013.
• Installation of Auto Engine Start Stop (AESS) technology, which automatically shuts down an idle diesel engine, while keeping the locomotive in the proper operating state to start on demand. CN has more than 600 locomotives with this technology, and plans to apply AESS-type technology on up to 800 more units by 2013.
• Training of train crews and rail traffic controllers. These employees are continually being schooled on best practices, including fuel-efficient train handling techniques, matching power to train tonnage and limiting throttle use, and taking advantage of train pacing opportunities at train meets.
"We are particularly excited about our leading-edge work to set fuel efficiency targets for specific trains by route and to monitor train performance against these goals,” Creel said. “The targets are based on established benchmarks for key fuel consumption variables such as train makeup, locomotives, train handling, route gradients and curvature, and weather. This strategy to produce real-time information by train and by locomotive is truly the next frontier in precision fuel management. CN leads the North American rail industry in fuel efficiency, consuming, overall, 10%t less fuel per gross-ton-mile than the industry average. This has helped CN reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has resulted in the lowest fuel surcharge in the industry, helping our customers save on transportation costs.”
Osaka, Japan-based Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. said Monday it has reached an agreement to buy Pittsburgh-based Standard Steel LLC, a maker of train wheels and axles, for roughly $340 million. Sumitomo Metal Industries will acquire 90% of Standard Steel, with the remaining 10% held by Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corp.
Industry observers note the move is one way to quickly increase Sumitomo’s access to the U.S. market. It is also acknowledged as “the first step in our global expansion in the railway field,” according to Kiyotaka Nogi, senior managing executive officer in charge of Sumitomo Metal’s railway parts business.
“Standard Steel has a very broad customer base in the U.S.” Sumitomo Metal’s train wheel production has mostly targeted high-end needs, such as high speed rail parts, which “is expanding rapidly in the U.S.,” said Nogi. “By 2020, we expect to be supplying almost all the high-end train wheels in the U.S.”
The acquisition also will allow Sumitomo Metal Industries to pursue freight train and urban transit segments, Nogi added.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday announced $1.58 billion for 28 public transit items, to be funded by Fiscal Year 2011 Section 5309 “New Starts” allocations. Rail transit projects made out exceptionally well, with 16 items garnering more then $1.33 billion, or more than 84%, of the total funding.
LaHood (pictured at left) said the projects will improve public transportation access for millions of Americans while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and curbing air pollution.
“Investing in a modern transportation network is a key part of President Obama’s strategy to win the future by out-building and out-competing the rest of the world,” LaHood said. “America's long-term economic success requires investing now in transportation infrastructure capable of moving people and goods more safely, efficiently and quickly than ever before.”
Added Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, “Our investments in expanding America's transit networks will not only improve reliable transportation access for communities across the country, they will support construction jobs and economic development, and, a more efficient and reliable transit network means new opportunities for Americans to keep more of their paychecks in their wallets and spend less at the gas pump.”
Colorado and Texas were two big winners for rail projects. Denver, in particular, will benefit from $40 million for its East Corridor rail project, $40 million for its Gold Line, and $40 million for its West Corridor light rail transit project.
Dallas gets $86.2 million to continue expanding light rail service through DART’s Northwest/Southeast LRT Minimum Operable Segment (MOS), while intrastate rival Houston will receive $75 million for its North Corridor LRT and another $75 million for Houston’s Southeast Corridor LRT.
New York and Utah also did well. Two New York City rail projects were awarded large sums--$215 million for the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access project, and $197 million for Second Avenue Subway Phase 1 construction. For Utah, Salt Lake City’s Mid Jordan LRT received $100 million, while the state capital’s Weber County to Salt Lake City Commuter Rail project notched $80 million.
Other rail projects include: $23 million for the Perris Valley Metrolink extension southeast from Riverside, Calif.; San Francisco’s Central Subway LRT project, netting $20 million; Orlando’s still uncertain Central Florida Commuter Rail Transit [SunRail]—Initial Operating Segment, $40 million; Honolulu’s High Capacity Transit Corridor Project, $55 million; St. Paul, Minn.’s Central Corridor LRT, now beginning construction, $45 million; northern Virginia’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Extension was awarded $96 million; and Seattle’s University Link LRT extension landed $110 million.
Groundbreaking ceremonies are scheduled for this Thursday for Portland’s 7.3-mile light rail extension to the suburban city of Milwaukie, beginning at the Willamette River, where a multimodal transit bridge will be built.
The extension, expected to cost $1.49 billion, will extend TriMet MAX service from Portland State University to downtown Milwaukie. The bridge, costing $134 million, will handle numerous modes, including LRT and buses, and eventually carry streetcars between inner west and east Portland as part of the Portland Streetcar loop. Auto access is not anticipated.
Funding sources include the Federal Transit Administration, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon State Lottery, Metro, TriMet, Clackamas County, the city of Portland, and the city of Milwaukie.
A United Transportation conductor died and another wasinjured in a fiery grade crossing collision at Fallon, Nev., last Friday thatalso took the lives of five other people. The story behind that story is toldin a tribute posted Wednesday on the union's website, www.utu.org. Someexcerpts:
American Trucking Associations (ATA) Chief Economist Bob Costello says tuck tonnage has encountered a "slow patch."
He said ATA's seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.3% in May after declining 0.6% in April. He said he remained optimistic that tonnage will improve in the second half.
The Bedford Report, which provides Market Research, noted that fuel costs have led many truckers to move loads to rail intermodal.
Streetcars in the nation’s capital won’t return until late 2013, one year later than the most recent target date, according to the District Department of Transportation. Washington, D.C. is proceeding with two initial streetcar segments, on H Street Northeast and in Anacostia, as the germination points for a citywide system of 37 miles. “2013 is what we are telling people now," says DDOT spokesman John Lisle. "We're probably looking at the fall of 2013.”
Among other delays, the city still must resolve the construction of a storage facility under a bridge on H Street behind Union Station, which has generated concern at Amtrak.
Scott Kubly, director of DDOT’s Progressive Transportation Services Administration, earlier this month expressed confidence that Washington would continue to lead the way in area streetcar development, noting “other parts of the region are catching on” to streetcar development. Kubly made the comments addressing the American Public Transportation Association Rail Conference in Boston.