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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The Federal Transit Administration Tuesday declared a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONZI) for Cincinnati’s proposed 3.0-mile streetcar, clearing the way for the use of $29 million in federal funds already allocated to the project.

“The federal government has examined the project and given it a full green light,” said Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney in a statement. “We continue on the path to build the streetcar to help grow the local economy, bring jobs, and revitalize key areas for the city.” The release also identified Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority as the likely operator of the streetcar; SORTA will oversee the use of federal funds and compliance with FTA regulations.

The first segment of the project is to link the city’s Fountain Square with Findlay Market Findlay Market. The project has been scaled back due to the withdrawal of $52 million in state funding, previously approved, following vocal opposition to passenger rail projects by Gov. John Kasich. The revised first-phase plan is estimated to cost $95 million.

The city hopes the line eventually will run from The Banks on Cincinnati's riverfront, serving two sports stadiums, to Uptown, the area around the University of Cincinnati, the region‘s major hospitals, and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 06:49

CN advances fuel management program

CN’s new Fuel Management Excellence (FMX) program is providing the railroad with significant increases in fuel efficiency and environmental benefits.

keith-creel-cn-evp-coo.jpg“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.”

Motiva Enterprises LLC on Wednesday said it has reached an agreement with Vecenergy to construct a fuel grade ethanol rail offloading facility at the Motiva Port Everglades, Fla., terminal.

The company, a fuel refiner and distributor, said the expanded operations will allow for the delivery of ethanol unit trains directly into existing Motiva storage tanks. These new facilities will increase cost efficiency and improve delivery logistics by minimizing the number of transports required before arriving into the South Florida market.

Motiva General Manager-Supply Steve Herrington said, “Motiva and Vecenergy are pleased to be coordinating efforts with the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) to provide an integrated rail-to-terminal delivery system.”

fec_logo.jpgFlorida East Coast Railroad President Jim Hertwig said, “The FEC is committed to providing consistent, efficient unit-train service to the Motiva facility. This project will result in supply chain improvements into South Florida in support of the ethanol market.”

The Motiva Port of Everglades terminals have a combined 1,200,000 barrels of refined products storage strategically located to serve fuels and ethanol suppliers and consumers in the south Florida area. When the project is completed, an entire unit train of 80 rail cars will be off-loaded and returned to the supplier.
CSX on Wednesday released its second annual Corporate Profile and Responsibility (CPR) Report highlighting financial and sustainability accomplishments in 2010.

mike_ward.jpg“This integrated report gives our stakeholders a holistic view of the company—we’ve delivered great performance, responsibly, across the board,” said Michael Ward, chairman, president, and CEO (pictured).

He said CSX achieved milestones in each area—meeting its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 8% nearly a year ahead of schedule, reducing personal injuries by nearly 45%, and improving the company’s operating ratio to a record 71.1%.

He also said CSX is helping to stimulate economic recovery and job growth with infrastructure investments that have added up to $8.3 billion in thelast five years.

The report did not mention the lingering threat of re-regulation, but it didsay: “Publication of the 2010 CPR Report comes as the freight rail industryfaces some of the most transformative opportunities of the deregulated era.As the American population grows exponentially, demand for everyday goods isskyrocketing and freight rail is poised to handle a major portion of thatincrease. CSX is well-positioned and committed to being an efficient,environmentally-friendly part of the global supply chain, delivering thegoods America needs in a way that protects the planet for the future.”
Thursday, 23 June 2011 05:11

NJ MPO ponders streetcars for state park

Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J., is a popular site to launch Presidential campaigns, as Republican Jon Huntsman demonstrated early this week. But it also is the Garden State’s most heavily visited state park, and the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) overseeing 13 northern New Jersey counties is considering a rail transit option to serve some of those visitors.

The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Wednesday three studies, including one considering installation of a heritage streetcar loop within the park, funded through NJTPA’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 work program.

“With this study, we can find approaches to using mass transit to create more effective access to the park and also links to the larger transportation network.,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who also serves as an NJTPA board member.

The study is expected to cost about $220,000, most of it provided through federal sources.

State rail historical advocacy group Liberty Historic Railway, Inc. already has released its own study showing the feasibility of a streetcar serving the 1,200-acre park, linked to Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit (HBLRT) Liberty State Park Station, and also to the station’s large park-and-ride lot. The streetcar would also serve, and perhaps utilize, the ex-Central Railroad of New Jersey rail terminal building within the park, preserved as a historic structure.
Thursday, 23 June 2011 10:06

L

Virginia Railway Express has authorized $250,000 to install a switch outside L’Enfant Station in Washington, D.C., allowing VRE trains terminating at Union Station to be stored more efficiently and quickly at L’Enfant. The project will require a total of $2 million to complete.

vre_logo.jpgVRE has built a storage track at L'Enfant Station, and had planned to terminate two additional trains at L'Enfant, but passengers bound for Union Station protested the perceived service downgrade. The switch project would allow all VRE service to terminate at Union Station while facilitating train storage at L’Enfant Station.

CSX owns the right-of-way involved, but has agreed to allow VRE to deadhead equipment to L’Enfant Station once the switch is operational. VRE officials say the project will take up to 18 months.

Thursday, 23 June 2011 10:30

DOT grant for PTC to aid Caltrain, HSR

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Thursday announced the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) can begin spending a $16 million grant to support safety and scheduling improvements between San Francisco to San Jose corridor. The grant will advance design of a positive train control (PTC) technology system, and will help integrate California’s existing passenger rail network with future HSR service.

ray_lahood.jpg“Keeping people safe is our top priority and positive train control technology will ensure California’s rail network transports passengers more safely and efficiently than ever before,” LaHood (pictured at left) said. “This comprehensive safety technology will improve passenger service along the highly-traveled corridor between San Francisco and San Jose and will ultimately benefit the entire high-speed rail system in California.”

The grant will enable the CHSRA and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to develop a system that will improve schedule management along the 52-mile San Francisco-San Jose route and, by extension, help improve train schedules along the entire California railroad network. In addition, the grant will be used to design a PTC system that will accommodate the existing 52-mile corridor and provide support for HSR trains.

U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) cited the spillover benefits to existing Caltrain service as well. “This is great news for Peninsula residents. This technology will improve Caltrain’s safety and efficiency,” she said. Echoing Eshoo’s comments, Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.), said, “Improving Caltrain and laying the ground work for high speed rail has a direct, positive impact on my constituents, and these federal funds show that their hard-earned tax dollars are being efficiently and effectively returned to their communities in visible and meaningful ways.”

BART’s Board of Directors on Thursday awarded the second of two major construction contracts advancing its 5.4-mile Warm Springs Extension contract. Fairfield, Calif.-based Warm Springs Constructors was chosen to design and install track and associated facilities, and construct a Warm Springs station; the contract is worth roughly $300 million.

bart_logo.jpg“This is a double dose of good news for East Bay residents,” BART board member Thomas Blalock said. “In the short run, this means tens of thousands of jobs— many for local, out-of-work residents. In the long run, it means tens of thousands of East Bay commuters will be able to relax and ride environmentally-friendly BART instead of sitting frustrated and fuming at heavy 680 or 880 traffic while burning carbon-polluting, expensive gas.”

The eis part of a larger plan to extend BART to Silicon Valley. BART says the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority has taken the lead in the next phase of the project south of Warm Springs called the Berryessa Extension. It will be responsible for bringing BART that much closer to downtown San Jose. Work is scheduled to begin in 2012.

BART said the Warm Springs project, originally estimated to cost $890 million, is $123 million under budget due to “a good bidding environment.”
Friday, 24 June 2011 10:50

Alstom tapped for Iraq HSR talks

Alstom is in exclusive talks to land a contract to build high speed rail in Iraq linking Baghdad, the capital, and the port city of Basra, a French transport minister said Friday.

alstom_logo.jpg“Alstom and the Iraqi railway have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a high-speed rail line between Baghdad and Basra,” Thierry Mariani said while at the Paris International Airshow. Alstom and Iraq have 12 months to solidify the deal.

An Alstom spokesman reportedly confirmed the agreement, and said the company seeks some form of design-build-operate pact. The line, roughly 400 miles in length, would handle trains at top speeds of 250 km/h (about 155 mph).

Other cities to be linked by the HSR line include Karbala, Najaf, Moussayeb, and Samawah.

Monday, 27 June 2011 08:43

Sumitomo Metal to buy Standard Steel

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.” standard_steel_logo.jpgSumitomo 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.

The preliminary death count remained at six Monday as investigators continued to examine the wreckage left when a highway tractor-trailer rig crashed into a double-deck car of Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr at a grade crossing near Fallon, Nev., 70 miles east of Reno, on Friday.

An Amtrak conductor and the truck driver were among the fatalities. Anassistant conductor was injured. The United Transportation Union said the conductor was one of its members, 68-year-old Laurertte Lee of South LakeTahoe, Calif. The four other dead were believed to have been trapped in two burning Zephyr cars.

The trucking publication FleetOwner commented: “Make no mistake, along with the lives lost and the injuries caused by the wreck, the crash is a sharp stick in the eye of all those in trucking and government alike who have been very publicly working across numerous fronts this year to increase commercial-vehicle (CV) safety performance.”
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 04:53

Rail projects get DOT New Starts boost

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.

ray_lahood.jpg

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.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011 07:52

CN to merge three U.S. subsidiary roads

Canadian National plans to merge three railroads into one, under the Wisconsin Central Railway moniker, by year’s end, the railroad says, in a consolidation that among other advantages could streamline CN rail traffic flows between Winnipeg and Chicago.  

cn_logo.jpgProctor, Minn.-based Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway, operating in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Duluth-based Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway, operating in the same two states plus the province of Ontario, will become part of the much larger Wisconsin Central following approval last month by the Surface Transportation Board.

“The DM&IR and DWP will cease to exist as separate corporations, and all operations would be as the Wisconsin Central,” said CN spokesman Patrick Waldron.“Most people won’t notice a thing. For employees, it’s going to mean the company on their paycheck is Wisconsin Central,” he said. The three railroad properties already are physically linked.

CN says the merger will enhance train movement and efficiency among the three railroads. The three railroads currently are considered separate entities by law, and CN must change crews as cargo moves through the region. CN has 1,400 employees working at Wisconsin Central, 110 in the DWP, and 361 in the DM&IR.

“We think this will actually expand opportunities for some of the DM&IR employees who face seasonal issues with taconite; give them opportunities to work on the Wisconsin Central line,” Waldron said.

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.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011 10:06

FTA taps PB for management framework

Parsons Brinckerhoff said Wednesday it has been awarded a contract by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to develop and document a transit asset management framework and implementation guide that will support the FTA’s State of Good Repair and Asset Management Programs.

The FTA estimates there is a nationwide backlog of $50 billion to $80 billion in deferred maintenance and replacement needs, the vast majority of which are rail-related.

The project will result in the creation of a conceptual framework for asset management and provide guidance and tools that transit agency managers can use to enhance asset management and positively impact reliability, safety, cost management and customer relations, PB said.

pb_logo.jpgParsons Brinckerhoff will be responsible for researching best practices within transit and other industries, creating a framework and implementation guide, and developing training materials that can be used to disseminate this information.

The team includes three partner transit agencies: New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority: and the Utah Transit Authority. All have agreed to collaborate in the development and validation of the research and participate in facilitated work sessions to document their practices, implementation issues, and other considerations.

The project is scheduled for completion next spring.

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:

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 07:32

Truck tonnage drops for second month

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.

Thursday, 30 June 2011 05:25

D.C. streetcar debut date slips

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.

Thursday, 30 June 2011 05:59

DOT aids Amtrak NEC engine purchase

Amtrak’s planned purchase of 70 Cities Sprinter ACS-64 locomotives from Siemens Mobility, initiated last October, got a boost Wednesday from the Department of Transportation, in the form of a $562.9 million loan.

The loan, made under the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, falls under DOT’s goal to create manufacturing jobs across several states. DOT sait the loan is the largest issued through the RRIF program to date.

ray_lahood.jpg“The Obama Administration is committed to making strategic, long-term investments that create jobs and boost the economy now, and this financing plan is already putting Americans back to work at assembly plants and supply companies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, and Georgia,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (pictured at left).

Siemens has said it is adding 250 manufacturing jobs in three locations in order to design and build the Amtrak equipment. Traction motors and gear units will be produced in Norwood, Ohio; traction converters and braking choppers are being built in Alpharetta, Ga.; and final assembly of the locomotives will occur at Siemens’ Sacramento, Calif., facility.

The RRIF loan will also upgrade maintenance facilities and allow for the purchase of spare parts needed to support the new locomotives, DOT said.

DOT stressed that other suppliers will benefit, too, citing East Pittsburgh, Pa.-based PHW, Inc., which already been contracted to manufacture safety-related parts for the locomotives.

“The RRIF program is a model of how we can leverage federal dollars to spur private investment and build up the economy,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “It provides steady, affordable financing for major rail construction and expansion projects, and best of all, it comes at zero cost to the taxpayer.”

The Amtrak Cities Sprinter ACS-64 locomotives are in the final design phase, and will supplement and replace aging engines on the Northeast Corridor and Keystone Corridor in Pennsylvania, including the current mainstay AEM-7 engines.
Wabtec Corp. says it has acquired a transit aftermarket parts business from Erie, Pa.-based GE Transportation, which provides parts for propulsion and control systems for the passenger transit car aftermarket in North America.

Wabtec expects the business, with annual sales of about $15 million, to be accretive in the first year.

wabtec_logo.jpgThe product lines include AC and DC traction motors and related components; and electronic control systems, including contactors and relays. These capabilities will become part of Wabtec Global Services, which operates a network of eight service centers in North America, Wabtec said.

“This acquisition expands our transit aftermarket and service capabilities, with critical components related to propulsion and electronic controls,” said Wabtec President and CEO Albert J. Neupaver. “Nearly 5,000 transit cars in North America contain these GE components, giving Wabtec the opportunity to expand our content on a substantial installed base of rolling stock as transit agencies overhaul and maintain their equipment.”
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