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, 14 November 2011 09:42

STB initiates streamlined procedure

The Surface Transportation Board announced Monday that, beginning Dec. 15 ,it will implement a “grant stamp” procedure for “routine, unopposed decisions” issued by the Director of the Board’s Office of Proceedings.

STB said the new procedure, which was suggested by attorney Fritz Khan, will “streamline the agency’s processes, maximize efficient use of its resources, speed service to stakeholders, and better serve the public.”

stb_logo.jpgThe Director has delegated authority to issue decisions addressing routine procedural matters.

“Some of these decisions, in matters such as unopposed motions for extensions of time or requests for a procedural schedule to which all parties have agreed to, require little, if any, discussion by the Director,” said STB. “In such cases, rather than preparing a separate decision, the Director will apply a stamp to the filed pleading, and the stamped pleading will constitute the Board's decision granting the relief sought.”

Tuesday, 15 November 2011 05:59

Class I

The Association of American Railroads Tuesday noted the freight railroad industry has been recognized for the seventh consecutive year by G.I. Jobs magazine, a career guide for military job-seekers, for the industry’s commitment to hiring military veterans.

Five Class I railroads were named in the magazine’s annual “Top 100 Military Friendly-Employers” list: CSX Corp. (No. 3 on the list); BNSF Railway (No. 6); Union Pacific (No. 12); Norfolk Southern (No. 19), and Canadian National (No. 63).

“America’s freight railroads proudly support America’s service men and women and their families,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Not only have railroads historically been a critical link in the supply chain during war time, but freight rail has been an industry in which many members of the armed services have found good-paying, private sector jobs. Today, almost 25% of the employees working for the nation’s freight railroads are current or former military service men and women.”

The G.I Jobs list surveyed U.S. companies with earnings of more than $500 million in annual revenues and based the rankings on areas such as active recruitment efforts and results in hiring America’s former service members. The survey also looked at which companies have the best company policies for employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve. Of the 5000 companies eligible, only 2% were recognized by G.I. Jobs.

“There is an attitude and skill set indicative of railroad employees that mirrors greatly with those of military service men and women,” said Hamberger. “Those characteristics that make for a successful military career also make for a successful railroad career. The freight rail industry plans to hire 15,000 people next year and we want veterans to consider a career in railroading.”
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 06:08

Quebec City-Windsor HSR study released

The Government of Canada, along with the provincial governments of Quebec andOntario, on Monday released the final report of the high speed rail study for the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. The cautious conclusion: HSR is technically feasible in the corridor, “but will require significant public expenditure. With these study findings, the Government of Canada will take the time necessary to carefully consider possible next steps.”

Click here for an executive summary of the report.

Transport Canada says the study was conducted by EcoTrain, which is a consortium of fiveconsulting firms: Dessau; MMM Group (formerly Marshall Macklin MonaghanLimited); Wilbur Smith & Assoc.; Deutsche Bahn International; and KPMG. Thejoint study included an assessment of high speed train technologies;potential routes and stations; traffic forecasts; and financial and economic(cost-benefit) analyses. Additionally, the study evaluated the impact ofHSR from socioeconomic, environmental, and competitorperspectives.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 05:01

GE Transportation to acquire RMI

GE Transportation said Wednesday its intends to acquire transportation software provider RMI from global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group.

ge_transport.jpgPending regulatory approval anticipated early next year, this acquisition expands GE Transportation’s Software and Optimization Solutions business to serve railroad customers worldwide, Erie-Pa.-based GE Transportation said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in early 2012.

GE Transportation described RMI as “a leading provider of transportation management software solutions for railroads, rail shippers, railcar leasing companies, and intermodal services in North America with revenue of approximately $45 million. RMI’s software is designed to help its users to improve efficiency and productivity while reducing costs.” 

Lorenzo Simonelli, president and CEO of GE Transportation, said: “We’re excited about the prospect of RMI joining GE Transportation. The company is well-known for its leading software products and the expertise of its team members. RMI’s software offerings complement GE Transportation’s rail portfolio. This is incredibly strategic for us and provides a great platform for expanding our softwareand services capabilities.” 

Pete Kleifgen, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based RMI, said: “We are looking forward to becoming part of GE, a world-class company, and to expanding the reach of RMI’s software solutions to railroad and transportation logistics customers around the globe.”

GE Transportation is a subsidiary of Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric Co.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 08:28

Amtrak funding nearly set for FY12

Given previous years in its existence where “zero funding” was a mantra for its critics, Amtrak may do better than expected in its federal fiscal year 2012 budget, reported out of conference committee Tuesday night. But its operations funding will be somewhat lean.

amtrak_logo.jpgAmtrak’s capital funding was actually increased by the conference committee to $952 million, up from both the House ($899 million) and Senate ($937 million) recommendations for FY12, which began Oct. 1.

The conference committee also excised House language that would forbid Amtrak from using federal appropriations to help fund state-supported trains, a move that would decimate Amtrak multi-frequency routes throughout much of the nation, save the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak FY12 operations funding, pegged at $466 million, is described as “perilously tight” and unlikely to aid system expansion, according to one industry observer on Capitol Hill.

In a move that impacts both Amtrak and U.S. high speed rail hopes, all High Speed/Corridor Development/Congestion Relief money has been removed; the Senate bill had included $100 million.

Still intact are equipment orders for long-distance passenger rail cars being supplied by CAF and electric engines being built by Siemens Mobility.

The conference committee markup now goes to both the House and Senate for final approval.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 09:15

STB ranks high as federal workplace

For the third consecutive year, the Partnership for Public ranked the Surface Transportation Board No. 1 on its Best Places to Work list among federal agencies with fewer than 2,000 workers. The STB, which is responsible for the economic regulation of railroads, has 141 employees. 

stb_logo.jpg"The ‘STB Way’ is a culture of collaboration, collegiality, and innovation. It’s a focus on getting the job done,” said STB Chairman Daniel R. ElliottIII, as he announced the award on Wednesday. “Every employee should be proud of our ranking and what it says about their dedication and hard work.”

This was the fifth year of the survey, conducted by the Partnership for Public Service along with The American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 09:29

HDR hired by PANY&NJ to rehab yard

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PA) has hired HDR, Inc. to rehabilitate the Greenville Yard in Jersey City, N.J., to improve ongoing rail-to-barge-to-rail freight movements across New York Harbor. The transload site, potentially a key freight component of cross-Hudson River traffic, has struggled in recent years due to obsolete equipment and lack of repair.

hdr40h.gifHDR’s work will include rehabilitating a barge and transfer bridge used to move freight rail cars from the yard to the barges, designing a new barge and two new bridges, demolishing two bridges, rehabilitating the railyard and waterfront structures, and environmental permitting. The project also includes the addition of approximately 10,000 feet of new track and design of yard operations facilities.

The improvement is one of the PA’s projects preparing to accommodate larger Panamax ships anticipated to serve East Coast ports following the Panama Canal expansion. The site also is being upgraded to allow movement of up to 11,000 tons a day of solid waste out of New York City by rail, much of which currently moves over the road. The yard has mainland connections to both CSX and Norfolk Southern through Conrail Shared Assets trackage.


Omaha, Neb.-based HDR, the prime design consultant, will perform a freight capacity analysis and provide context sensitive solutions. Ten bid packages will be prepared for the project’s phases. Sub-consultant Worley Parsons will perform themarine work (barge design, and rehabilitation of barge and fender system). Construction is expected to be completed within five years.

Said HDR Project Manager Pete Davis, “This highly complex and fast-paced project will set a standard for other rail/port facility projects.”

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 10:16

Deep cost-cutting is key to NYMTA budgets

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released its Final Proposed Budget for 2012 as well as an updated four-year Financial Plan.

Thursday, 17 November 2011 03:48

Russian Railways: 6,000-mile container run

Russian Railways (RZD) Thursday said that the company, through its subsidiary Transcontainer, has organized for a demonstration container freight train to travel along the route between Nahodka-Vostochnaya (in the port city of Nahodka on Russia’s Far Eastern Railway) to Shushari (in St. Petersburg on Russia’s Octyaberskaya Railway) in seven calendar days, covering 9,795 kilometers (about 6,073 miles).

rzd_logo.jpgThe train will consist of 50 freight cars loaded with containers of automobile parts, as well as trailers and semitrailers sent by Hyundai. The demonstration train’s arrival in Shuhari is scheduled to coincide with the Second Railway Congress in Moscow on Friday, Nov. 18.

RZD also noted on Thursday it had posted “positive” economic numbers for the first nine months of 2011, but net profit of 56.1 billion rubles ($1.81 million) slipped 19.5% below the comparable period in 2010.

The company said cargo volume rose 3% to 921.7 million tons during the nine-month span. Overall revenue from freight traffic increased 6.9%.

RZD said its passenger service revenue fell 86% to 5.2 billion rubles ($160,000) in the first nine months of 2011, attributed to spinning off long-distance services to subsidiary OJSC Federal Passenger Co. on April 1, 2010, and also handing over regional passenger services to suburban passenger companies on Jan. 1. 


Thursday, 17 November 2011 04:01

Rink named new GM at PATCO

The bistate Delaware River Port Authority board Wednesday named John D. Rink as the new general manager of PATCO, the rapid transit line linking Philadelphia with its New Jersey suburbs. Rink succeeds Robert Box, who retired last April.

Rink had served as a technical supervisor in PATCO's Way and Power division while also serving in his part-time post as mayor of Barrington, N.J., located in Camden County. His mayoral term ends on Dec. 31.

Despite a rule adopted last year by the DRPA board to place all items on its agenda at least 48 hours prior to a vote, the Rink appointment just before the board's regular meeting. DRPA chief executive John Matheussen cited a provision that allows late additions to the agenda with a super-majority vote of the board.
Thursday, 17 November 2011 04:09

Bombardier lands airport DBOM order

Bombardier Transportation said Thursday it has signed a contract to install an new INNOVIA APM 300 automated people mover (APM) system at Munich Airport in Germany. The contract, signed with Terminal 2 Betriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. oHG, represented by FM Bau (Flughafen München Baugesellschaft mbH), is for the design, build, supply, operation and maintainance of a driverless APM system, the company said.

bombardier_logo.jpgTogether with the base order, the customer has executed options for extensions to the operation and maintenance periods taking the total services period to nine years. The total value of the contract is approximately $120 million, Bombardier said.

Flughafen München GmbH and Deutsche Lufthansa AG, who jointly operate Terminal 2 at Munich Airport, are expanding its capacity with a new satellite facility to meet increased demand. Via the 0.7-kilometer (0.4-mile) underground INNOVIA APM 300, passengers will travel from Terminal 2 to the new facility for Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners in less than one minute.

Eran Gartner, president, Systems, Bombardier Transportation, said: “We are confident that our new generation of INNOVIA APM 300 technology will support Munich Airport in realizing its ambition of becoming Europe’s best transit hub with the fastest transit times for passengers between flights.”

Bombardier will design and supply all of the system-wide electrical and mechanical elements for the system, including 12 INNOVIA APM 300 2/3 driverless vehicles, CITYFLO 650 automatic train control technology for driverless operation, station platform doors, onboard and wayside CCTV systems, communications, and power distribution systems, as well as the provision of project management, systems engineering and integration, testing, and commissioning.

Bombardier’s scope also includes the civil construction works. Completion of the system and start of operation is scheduled for 2014, at which time a nine-year period of operations and maintenance will begin.

Thursday, 17 November 2011 06:37

AAR: U.S. freight traffic gains continue

U.S. freight carload volume rose 0.5% for the week ending Nov. 12, 2011, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. U.S. intermodal volume advanced 5.2% for the week, measured against the comparable week one year ago, AAR said.

aar_logo.jpgAAR said 10 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2010, including: petroleum products, up 22%; metals and products, up 13.9%; and motor vehicles and equipment, up 13.2%. Declining commodity groups included grain, down 18.3%, and primary forest products, down 11.4.%

Canadian freight carload volume, by contrast, declined 2% during the week compared with the same week last year, and Canadian intermodal volume also fell, down 0.4%. Mexican freight carload volume rose 4% compared with the same week last year, and intermodal rose 14.5%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 45 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 2.15 compared with the same point last year, while intermodal was 5% above last year’s level.
Thursday, 17 November 2011 07:07

With cash flow strong, UP ups dividend 26%

Union Pacific's board of directors voted Thursday to increase its quarterly common share dividend by 26% to 60 cents per share, payable Jan 2. to stockholders of record on Nov. 30.

jim-young_up.jpg“We’re generating record free cash flows and making significant capital investments to add value for customers, all of which is driving improved shareholder returns,” said Jim Young, Union Pacific chairman and CEO (pictured at left).

“We remain confident in our business strategy going forward, allowing us to increase the dividend for the second time this year,” Young said. “Dividends per share in 2011 have increased a total of 58%, a significant step toward achieving our target payout ratio of approximately 30% on a declared basis.”

Young noted that Union Pacific has paid dividends on its common stock for 112 consecutive years.

Thursday, 17 November 2011 07:33

BNSF eyes Asia for grain export market

BNSF Railway reportedly is investing about $680 million to tap a 29% increase in exports of specialty grains headed for Asia. BNSF is concentrating its investment in its container yards, mostly Midwest where most corn and soybeans are grown.

bnsf_logo.jpgProducts such as organic or genetically modified soybeans are being moved by intermodal containers that all too often have been empty on the backhaul moves to Asia, reflecting in part an intermodal trade imbalance.

“As the world has now neared or surpassed 7 billion people in population, there’s a direct correlation in this increasing demand and rising tide for exports,” said BNSF Vice President of International Marketing Fred Malesa. “Containers and global containerization are playing a significant role in meeting that demand.”

The Department of Agriculture says seaborne grain-container deliveries to Asia climbed 29% in the first eight months of 2011, and industry observers say the increased use of containers for agriculture product exports is likely to continue.

Thursday, 17 November 2011 11:49

CTA selects Cubic for open-standards AFC

The Chicago Transit Authority has awarded Cubic Transportation Systems (a business unit of San Diego-based Cubic Corp.) an estimated $454 million contract to integrate, deliver, operate, and maintain a next-generation OSFS (Open Standards Fare System) that will accept bank cards and, ultimately, mobile phone payments. The contract is the largest AFC (automated fare collection) contract ever placed in North America. Cubic will operate and maintain the entire system, resulting in an overall 12-year partnership between Cubic and CTA.

To create CTA’s OSFS, Cubic will transition the agency from its current, Cubic-supplied agency-issued fare media to an open payment system where customers can use their existing credit or debit cards as a ticket, “bringing the retail experience to transit ticketing,” Cubic says. “Like most transit agencies today, the CTA operates a ‘closed loop’ fare collection system, selling its own magnetic tickets and smartcards that can be used only on CTA and Pace.” With OSFS, riders without credit or debit cards will be issued reloadable prepaid debit cards that can be used for everyday purchases and CTA rides.

Cubic will be the systems integrator and services provider, leading a team that will also include First Data Corporation, Carolyn Grisko & Associates, Americaneagle.com, Bank of America, and Bank of America Merchant Services. The estimated contract value of $454 million consist of both fixed and variable revenue components. Payments under the contract will begin when the commercial service status of the system is achieved, which is expected to be within the first two years of the contract. Cubic says it “will not likely recognize revenues from the contract until that milestone is reached.”

“The CTA is taking a revolutionary approach that will transform travel for the more than 1.6 million rides citizens take each day on the CTA to get to their jobs, schools and other destinations,” said Richard Wunderle, senior vice president and general manager of Cubic Transportation Systems North America.

“In taking this action, the Chicago Transit Authority will upgrade its fare equipment, save additional money over time, improve the customer experience, grow ridership, and keep abreast of rapidly-changing technology. It's a major step forward, and we and our partners are eager to begin,” said Cubic Transportation Systems vice president John Satterfield.

Cubic says it is the transit industry's leading provider of revenue management and business information systems and services. The CTA, which has been a Cubic customer since 1993 when Cubic was awarded the contract to deliver Chicago’s current system, is among major customers that include London, Washington, D.C., San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, Miami/South Florida, Los Angeles, New York MTA, Brisbane, Sydney, and Vancouver.

Cubic won the contract following a competitive procurement process that included several major competitors in the transit industry. Cubic expects to execute the contract in the near future.

Friday, 18 November 2011 06:10

Congress OKs FY12 transport appropriations

Both the House and Senate Thursday passed the Conference Report on a package of three appropriations bills, including the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reports.

Friday, 18 November 2011 08:36

Fatality occurs at East Side Access project

A worker at Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s East Side Access project in Manhattan was killed Thursday evening, causing MTA to halt work on the project.

The Surface Transportation Board announced Friday that its Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) has issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the R.J. Corman Railroad Company/Pennsylvania Lines Inc. (RJCP) proposed construction of a 20-mile line between Wallaceton and Gorton, in Clearfield and Centre counties, Pa.

stb_logo.jpg“The FEIS reflects OEA’s evaluation of six alternatives during the environmental review of Recap's proposals,” said the STB. “These are: An alternative to the Proposed Action (known as the Modified Proposed Action); three 'no-build’ alternatives; and a ‘no-action’ alternative. Based on consultation with federal, state, and local agencies, public input, and its own independent environmental analysis, OEA found that the Modified Proposed Action would be the environmentally preferable alternative and recommends that, should the Board authorize the project, it should authorize the Modified Proposed Action, subject to OEA’s final recommended environmental mitigation.”

The FEIS was prepared to address public and agency comments received in response to two prior draft documents. The Board now will decide whether or not to grant final approval to the proposal. In reaching a final decision ,the Board will take into consideration the DEIS, SDEIS, FEIS, and OEA’s final recommendations on environmental mitigation.
Monday, 21 November 2011 04:19

Wabtec acquires Fulmer Co.

Wabtec Corp. on Monday said it has acquired Fulmer Co., a manufacturer of motor components for rail, power generation, and other industrial markets. Based in Export, Pa., Fulmer has annual sales of about $15 million. Wilmerding, Pa.-based Wabtec expects the transaction to be accretive in the first year.

wabtec_logo.jpgFulmer designs and manufactures brush holders and spring assemblies,which are critical components in electric traction motors andgenerators. The company’s products are used in a variety of markets,including freight and transit rail, power generation and transmission,and mining. Fulmer has about 100 employees.

“Fulmer is the preferred original equipment and aftermarket supplier ofits products, and will be a strong complement to our Swiger Coil traction motor business,” said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer. “In addition, we expect to generate top-line synergies through Wabtec's sales channels, especially in international markets.”
Monday, 21 November 2011 06:53

Strike threat to freight railroads recedes

With unions for more than half of the workers bargaining with North American freight railroads reaching agreements, the threat of a walkout affecting freight rail transportation is diminishing. Four more unions last week have reached agreement with the Class I’s, making it 10 unions in all, according to the National Railway Labor Conference.

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