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.
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.” The 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.”
GE Transportation said Wednesday its intends to acquire transportation software provider RMI from global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group. Pending 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.
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. HDR’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.”
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released its Final Proposed Budget for 2012 as well as an updated four-year Financial Plan.
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).
The 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.
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. Together 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.
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. “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.
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.Products 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.