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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Following earlier recommendations from VIA Metropolitan Transit and Bexar County (Tex.) officials, and despite earlier political turmoil surrounding the subject, the San Antonio City Council on Thursday voted to help fund VIA’s capital plan, including the city’s first modern streetcar line.

san_antonio_via_logo.jpgMayor Julián Castro and eight council members voted in favor of the plan, with only one nay vote and one council member not voting. VIA and the city must now work out an interlocal agreement that includes Bexar County, which is helping to fund the capital plan. The city will also pursue creation of a special assessment district along the streetcar route, which is critical to the line’s advancement.

San Antonio will contribute $40 million to the five-year capital plan, which also includes money for two downtown transit centers and two park and ride facilities. The assessment district, if approved by more than half of the property owners in the proposed area, will generate an estimated $15 million for the project.

Bexar County earlier agreed to provide $55 million in advanced transportation district funds to the plan. VIA says its recently approved bonding capacity will allow the transit authority to give another $70 million.

As is common in streetcar startups, the proposal has generated objections from some residents objecting to purported high costs compared with bus alternatives; some residents called for a public referendum, noting a similar proposal for light rail transit was defeated by voters in 2000.

San Antonio’s plan does include a bus circulator route that runs east and west instead of a streetcar, though VIA has said it eventually wants to build out the east and southern leg of the streetcar system.
Friday, 21 October 2011 05:23

GE Transportation notches solid 3Q gains

GE Transportation Friday reported $1.3 billion in third-quarter revenue, up 48% from the comparable quarter in 2010, and a profit of $196 million, up 94% compared to the year-ago quarter.

ge_transport.jpgGE Transportation’s report was part of Fairfield, Conn.-based parent General Electric Co.’s third-quarter report; parent GE reported third-quarter earnings of $3.4 billion, up 11% from the comparable 2010 quarter and in line with Wall Street analyst consensus estimates.

GE Transportation received $1 billion of orders in the third quarter, down 28% due to nonrepeat multi-year orders last year. The division’s performance was driven by anincrease of orders for mining equipment, drill motors, parts and services.

“We have stayed the course of double-digit growth in the third quarter as a result of dynamic infrastructure developments around the world,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, president and CEO of GE Transportation. “We are making major investments to expand our manufacturing footprint and build capacity in the rail, mining and related industries. We continue to shape the future of the transportation industry in order to better serve our customers.”

Erie, Pa.-based GE Transportation earlier this week announced an investment of $231 million in its manufacturing facilities in Erie and in Fort Worth, Tex., to meet accelerating domestic and global demand. It also announced it would fill approximately 490 U.S. jobs by the end of 2011.
Friday, 21 October 2011 06:37

Amtrak activates RailComm system in Chicago

Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Friday its Yard Automation System at Amtrak’s Chicago Union Station is now operational.

railcomm_logo.jpgThrough a contract with HNTB and Kiewit-Western, RailComm designed its system to meet the challenging requirements that were presented within Amtrak’s existing rail infrastructure.

The automation system is commanded by RailComm’s DOC® (Domain Operations Controller) server-based central control platform. The system operator is in control of over 100 GETS Hydra-Switches and dozens of power derail devices, blue flag indicators, switch heater locations, and two diesel generators. Additionally, the system uses RailComm’s RADiANT™ data radios to communicate between the office system and the network of controlled devices. Amtrak personnel operate the automation system from two tower locations.
Union Pacific Railroad will continue improving right-of-way in Wyoming and Nebraska by investing $17 million in the rail line that runs from Egbert, Wyo., to Hershey, Neb., the Class I railroad said Friday.

union-pacific-logo-officia.jpgVarious projects on the 161 miles of this line include removing and installing more than 124,000 ties, as well as renewing the surfaces at 113 road crossings. Crews will also spread nearly 72,000 tons of rock ballast to help provide a more stable roadbed and replace more than a half mile of rail in various curves.

UP said the curve rail project began in late-July, the crossing surface projects began in August, and the tie projects began Oct. 12. All projects are scheduled to be completed by mid-December.

Bellevue, Wash., has released drafts of a proposed agreement between Sound Transit and the city to finance a $300 million light rail transit tunnel through the municipality’s downtown.

Bellevue’s City Council has the option of passing the agreement, asking for more time, or taking no action at all at its next meeting, set for Monday night. Some council members have made clear their desire for more time to evaluate the proposal.

sound_transit_logo.jpgUnder the agreement with Sound Transit, Bellevue would be responsible for as much as $160 million of the tunnel's projected cost. Of that, $100 million of that would come in 2014 or 2015 through actions such as donation of land and utility improvements, leaving Sound Transit to commence construction with its share of funding. If tunneling costs are less than anticipated, Bellevue would pocket any savings.

Bellevue has said it welcomes light rail transit, part of Sound Transit's East Link project, a 22-mile extension linking Seattle with Redmond, Wash. But Bellevue has expressed concern that LRT could disrupt businesses and generate safety concerns. Sound Transit has noted that tunneling drives up the cost of LRT construction.

The document includes several options for both parties to terminate the agreement if future disputes arise. The city reportedly gets an out if Sound Transit refuses to adopt the city's requested design changes. Sound Transit reportedly can opt out if Bellevue does not grant a number of permitting changes by the end of 2012.

Sound Transit is expected to act on the agreement at its Oct. 27 meeting.

Monday, 24 October 2011 06:40

Maryland MTA taps Bombardier

The Maryland Transit Administration has reached a contract agreement with Bombardier Transportation to provide 54 Bombardier BiLevel rail cars for MARC passenger rail service at a cost of $153 million.

bombardier_logo.jpgMTA spokesman Terry Owens said MARC intended to retire 38 older rail cars nearing the end of their useful life cycle, but the Bombardier purchase will result in a net fleet expansion of 16 cars. The new cars, capable of handling more passengers than single-level cars, also are expected to relieve overcrowding on some trains.

MTA is exercising an option linked to an order by New Jersey Transit, which MTA says will result in a reduction of nine months to a year off the bid solicitation process.
Monday, 24 October 2011 07:33

Two firms acquire intermodal dry van fleet

Milestone Equipment Corp. and Scrap Metal Services LLC on Monday announced the acquisition of 7,300 intermodal dry van trailers.** The heavy-duty dry van trailers are operated under leases throughout North America in rail intermodal service. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Tiburon, Calif.-based Milestone Equipment and Burnham, Ill.-based Scrap Metal Services said they have created a new joint venture, Scrapstone Intermodal Services, LLC for this transaction as well as for future intermodal opportunities.

In a statement, Milestone’s President and founder Robert Thull said, “Milestone is now the largest domestic intermodal container and intermodal trailer equipment lessor. We are committed to continued rapid growth and investment in intermodal equipment to provide flexible operating leases to our customers.”

Scrap Metal Services CEO Jeffry K. Gertler said, “This acquisition allows Scrap Metal Services to expand its role in the intermodal marketplace, a market segment that we believe will experience considerable growth over the next several years.”

**Editor's Note: The original report stated the intermodal equipment was purchased from GE Capital. An amended statement issued Tuesday by Milestone Equipment Corp. noted the attribution was in error.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Patriot Rail Corp., a short line and regional railroad operator, and CFRail Services, a transportation asset services and investments company,have entered into long-term railcar services agreements at threePatriot-owned railroads.

patriot_rail_corp._logo.jpgUnder the agreements, CF Rail has leased the railcar and locomotiveinspection and repair facilities at Patriot’s DeQueen & Eastern (DQE),Columbia and Cowlitz (CLC), and Golden Triangle (GTRA) railroads. CF Railwill perform railcar and locomotive repairs on system and privately ownedrailcars and locomotives at these facilities, including railcars andlocomotives owned by Patriot.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 02:58

Intermodal strengthens Hub Group earnings

Hub Group, Inc. late Monday reported third-quarter earnings of $16.3million, a 29% increase compared with the third quarter of 2010.

hub_group_logo.jpgThe Hub segment’s revenue increased 17% to $561 million. Third-quarter intermodal revenue increased 19% to $402 million, thanks to a 10% increase in volume and a 9% increase attributable to fuel, pricing, and mix. Truck brokerage revenue decreased 3% to $83 million, and Unyson Logistics revenue increased 39% to $76 million.

The Mode segment’s revenue was $206 million for the third quarter. Operating income was $1.7 million.

Hub Group ended the quarter with $43 million in cash.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 04:27

Canadian Pacific 3Q earnings slip

Canadian Pacific early Tuesday announced third-quarter net income of C$186.8 million, or earnings of C$1.10 per share, down 5%, or 7 Canadian cents per share, from earnings of C$197.3 million in the comparable period in 2010.

cp_logo_2009.jpgCP revenue of C$1.34 billion was up C$55.4 million, or 4%, from the third quarter of 2010. But its operating expenses rose C$68.5 million to C$1 billion, with the average fuel price increasing 47%, CP said.

“We currently see strength in our bulk franchise, but remain vigilant in monitoring economic signals from Asia,” stated CP President and CEO Fred Green. “We are focused on sustaining and improving service and productivity through investments in locomotives, infrastructure, people and technology.”
Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut on Monday said full service on the railroad’s Port Jervis Line will be restored Monday, Nov. 28, roughly one month ahead of the most optimistic projection. Permut made the announcement at a combined Metro-North/Long Island Rail Road Committee meeting.

metronorth_logo.jpgThe Port Jervis Line, linking its namesake city with Hoboken, N.J., was severed Aug. 28 by flooding generated by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, resulting in severe damage to 14 miles of right-of-way between Harriman and Suffern, N.Y., north the New York/New Jersey border.

Substantial progress has been aided by the ability of workers to recover substantial material, including ballast, which has helped reduce repair cost estimates. Metro-North says that includes costs paid to third-party contractors. In addition, the cost of substitute/shuttle bus service bridging the washout, originally estimated at $60 million, now is estimated to cost between 33% and 50% less.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 04:52

Wabtec sets 3Q earnings record

Wilmerding, Pa.-based Wabtec Corp. Tuesday reported record third-quarter earnings of $46.6 million, or 96 cents per diluted share, 33% higher than the comparable quarter in 2010. Sales also set a record at $499 million, also up 33% from a year ago, which Wabtec attributed to strong growth in its Freight Group. Per-share earnings beat Wall Street consensus analyst estimates of 87 cents per share.

wabtec_logo.jpgWabtec’s backlog at the end of the third quarter was $1.5 billion, 38% higher than at the beginning of the year.

Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer, said: “Wabtec continued to perform at a high level in the third quarter and we expect to finish the year strongly. We are executing our growth strategies well, benefiting from favorable market conditions in the freight rail sector, and beginning to see a ramp-up in positive train control activities. We remain optimistic about our outlook for the balance of the year, and believe we are well positioned over the longer term to take advantage of growth opportunities in our core markets around the world.”

Neupaver’s optimism was backed by Steve Barger, an analystwith KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., who noted, “On the back of this strongperformance, [Wabtec] increased its 2011 guidance to $3.65-$3.70 from$3.45-$3.55, and increased the top-line expectations to 25% growth (from theprevious guidance of 20%). We estimate this implies 4Q11 results of $0.90-$0.95and revenue of around $450 million.”

 

 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011 05:37

Harsco notes new equipment orders

Harsco Corp. on Tuesday announced new orders for railway track maintenance equipment from New Zealand and North America, expected to generate revenue of more than $13 million and add to Harsco Rail’s production and delivery order book for 2012.

harsco_logo1.jpgThe company said the New Zealand order comes from national rail operator KiwiRail, and includes three consists, each made up of a Harsco tamper and ballast regulator. The Tampers are Harsco Mark VI machines, designed for mainline and switch tamping. The Mark VI for KiwiRail includes such features as four driving axles, front and rear operator cabins, and the ability to travel while coupled to the ballast regulator.

The KiwiRail Ballast Regulators will be produced at Harsco Rail’s Queensland, Australia, plant, continuing a relationship of more than 30 years between the Australian operation and this customer, while the Mark VI Tampers will be produced at Harsco Rail's Columbia, S.C., headquarters plant. Deliveries are scheduled for the second half of 2012.

Harsco also has received orders from North America that include several tamper configurations for use by customers in a range of short line, metro and industrial railroad applications. These units, which will also be produced at the Columbia, S.C., plant, are scheduled for delivery principally in the first half of 2012, with one unit scheduled for delivery in the last quarter of 2012.

Said Harsco Rail President Scott W. Jacoby, “Our production pipeline continues to be built across a broad cross-section of market geographies and customers, which is a direct reflection of Harsco Rail’s increasing global breadth and scope. These orders also underscore the success of our product line management approach to understanding global customer needs to drive our product development. The pairing of Tampers and Ballast Regulators into a single consist underpinned by our Jupiter system is a perfect example of our ability to leverage our technology to our customers' advantage.”
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 06:28

Alcatel-Lucent, Adif in C&S R&D pact

Alcatel-Lucent and Adif, a Spanish state-owned company responsible for the management of Spain’s railway infrastructures, on Tuesday said they have signed a collaboration agreement for the testing of communications technologies for use on railway transportation systems.

Teams will test how a single IP-MPLS multi-service and mission critical network can support GSM-R systems, fulfilling the highly demanding railway quality and security specifications, optimizing network build and operation, and improving network service capabilities.

Additionally, the teams will investigate how a LTE mobile broadband system for railways in conjunction with IP convergence can handle different types of traffic such as voice, data and video, to standardize communications across railway networks. The companies will also develop integrated multimedia solutions for improving passenger information systems.

Alcatel-Lucent and Adif will test these technologies in Adif’s new Railways Technology Centre in Malaga, Spain, which has been created to foster innovation and enterprise collaboration around railway technology. The center is intended to be a base for global research and development of communications for high-speed train transportation. This collaboration project is designed to help strengthen Spain’s position at the head of global and European railway system technology.

The framework agreement also covers related activities such as: the collaboration and submission of joint R&D proposals for European and domestic grant opportunities; the development of innovative scientific projects of interest to both companies; the creation of working groups and reports for the development and follow-up of scientific findings; and joint co-operation in training programs if required by the projects.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011 08:38

FRA Deputy Chief Rae returning to NYDOT

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has picked Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Rae to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation in the Governor's Office. Rae previously served as Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Planning at the New York State Department of Transportation.

karen-rae.jpgRae (pictured at left) will join what the governor’s office calls his "new team to lead the state's transportation initiatives.”

The Governor has also announced that he has picked Joseph J. Lhota, who was New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s budget chief, to serve as the chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and selected Nutria Fernandez to serve as the chief operating Officer of MTA. Fernandez currently is the senior vice president of CH2M Hill, a firm that provides engineering, construction, and operations services worldwide.

At FRA, Rae has managed the federal high speed rail initiative as well as safety programs and regulatory initiatives. She also developed national freight and passenger rail policy, where she was responsible for advocacy and finance activities.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 03:55

CN 3Q earnings rise, beat Street

Canadian National late Tuesday reported earnings of C$621 million, or C$1.38 a diluted share, for the third quarter, up 12% from the comparable quarter in 2010 and beating Wall Street analyst expectations of C$1.32 a share. Sales of C$2.3 billion were up 9% from a year ago, CN said.

cn_logo.jpgAddressing media during a conference call Tuesday, CN President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau cited “record revenue performance, a good balance between solid volume increase, good pricing, and overall, if you adjust for currency, our revenues are up 12% over last quarter. And that's reflective of our ability throughout the quarter and since the beginning of the year to outpace the general rate of economic growth.”

Mongeau also noted, “We were able to turn in an operating ratio of 59.3% for the quarter. Our earnings on an adjusted basis are up 16%, and our year-to-date free cash flow is in excess of C$1.3 billion.”

CN officials said the company’s overseas intermodal was up 10%, which it said “outperformed the overall West Coast port average.” Domestic intermodal revenue rose 20%.
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%. 

ns_logo.jpg

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.

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