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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ConnectLAX, a joint venture of Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and STV, Inc., said Friday it has been awarded a contract by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to provide environmental and preliminary design services for an extension of the Metro Green Line light rail to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

parsonslogo.gifThe Green Line LAX Extension will link the planned Metro station at Century and Aviation, about 1.5 miles from the airport, with the central terminal area of LAX, by one of three alternatives: an above-ground LRT extension; an underground LRT extension; or an automated people mover (APV) link.stv.jpg 

ConnectLAX will prepare the alternatives analysis, final environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR), and conceptual engineering to support the final EIS/EIR. The contract includes two phases, one for for environmental approval, and the second including preliminary design of the alternative chosen for the extension. Completion of the EIS/EIR is scheduled for late 2012.

The Green Line LAX Extension is one of the capital projects being funded by Measure R, a program of transportation improvements totaling $40billion over 30 years funded by a one-half cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2008.
Bombardier Transportation said Monday it has signed a contract with Saudi Arabian construction company Saudi Binladin Group,to design, build, operate, and maintain an INNOVIA APM 300 automated people mover system for the King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) Development Project in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The total value of the contract is $96 million.

bombardier_logo.jpgSaudi Binladin Group is the contractor responsible for the design and construction of the KAIA Development Project, and was awarded its contract by the Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in 2011. KAIA is expanding its existing passenger facilities with an additional Passenger Terminal Building to meet the requirements of rising passenger volumes.

The INNOVIA APM 300 system will serve as the backbone for the smooth transportation of passengers between terminal areas at KAIA, Bombardier says. Completion of the system is scheduled for the start of 2014. Bombardier's recently established wholly-owned subsidiary in Saudi Arabia will act as subcontractor to Saudi Binladin Group, leading the project to design and supply all of the system-wide Electrical and Mechanical (E&M) elements for the 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile), dual-guideway automated people mover (APM) system, including 10 INNOVIA APM 300 cars with BOMBARDIER CITYFLO 650 automatic train control technology for driverless operation as well as providing project management, systems engineering and integration, testing, and commissioning.

Bombardier says it also will provide operation and maintenance services for four years followed by a two-year discretionary option to extend to 2020. Much of the technology will be supplied from Bombardier’s facility in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Serge Van Themsche, vice president for Europe, Middle East, Africa & Brazil, Systems division of Bombardier Transportation, said, “We are honored to add the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to our list of prestigious airports served by a Bombardier INNOVIA transit system. Our new generation INNOVIA APM 300 system will delight airport passengers with its sleek design and exceptional ride quality, and support the airport operator with its highly reliable service.”

Officials in Gaston County, N.C., and Patriot Rail Corp. subsidiary Piedmont & Northern Railway seek to re-establish freight service linking Gastonia and Mount Holly, N.C., by this autumn on a local short line, though they believe actual resumption may not be achieved until January. 

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Boca Raton, Fla.-based Patriot Rail has created a subsidiary, Piedmont & Northern Railway, to operate the line. P&N Assistant General Manager Bill Bartosh says the company is making progress upgrading the line. “We have several customers we’re working with between Ranlo and Mount Holly,” he said. “A lot of people are taking a wait-and-see approach. But the reality is sinking in that the line will soon be open.”

The 13-mile P&N interchanges with CSX at Mount Holly, N.C., and with Norfolk Southern at Gastonia. The right-of-way was purchased in 1991 by the North Carolina Deparatment of Transportation. Gaston County acquired a $5 million state grant to help reopen and restore the line, and the state signed a five-year contract last year with Patriot Rail to operate the line. 

 

Monday, 16 May 2011 11:30

FOX Business Special: American Icon

FOX Business Network reporter Dagen McDowell on Tuesday, May 17, got a behind-the-scenes look at Union Pacific and the business of freight railroading—something most people rarely see or understand—as a part of the network’s American Icon series.

McDowell spent the day at UP’s Omaha headquarters, speaking with top executives about rail industry issues as well as the company’s future. Union Pacific senior staff members interviewed included Chairman and CEO Jim Young, Executive Vice President and CFO Robert M. Knight, Operations Executive Vice President Lance M. Fritz, Marketing and Sales Executive Vice President Jack Koraleski, and Car and Locomotive Engineering General Director Michael Iden.

View all the segments by accessing these links:

FBN’s Dagen McDowell with an inside look at America’s largest railroad.

Union Pacific’s Lindsay Lanoha and Matt Bosch explains why they went to work for a railroad.

FBN’s Dagen McDowell with Union Pacific's Mike Iden, on the Genset locomotive an how it operates.

Union Pacific Operation EVP Lance Fritz on managing and moving trains through a network and rail yard.

Commodity Prices and Union Pacific.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 06:01

U.S. to host 8th World Congress on HSR

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the International Union of Railways (UIC) on Tuesday formally announced that the 8th World Congress on High Speed Rail will take place in Philadelphia July 11-13, 2012. The World Congress is expected to attract more than 2,000 attendees worldwide to exchange views on the development and achievements of high speed rail.

uic_logo.jpgThe World Congress will feature international rail experts on transportation policy and technology. The World Congress will bring together both the public and private sectors to provide insight and best practices for implementing high-speed rail projects at every stage—from planning, financing, and construction, to operations and management. Additionally, the Congress will also feature an exhibit showcasing high-speed rail products and services.

“High speed is developing at an impressive pace around the world,” said UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux. “High speed rail is often described as the ‘transport mode of the future’; it is good for mobility, sustainability, the environment and for people as it creates employment and business through infrastructure and new services.

“We are very happy to organize the 8th edition of our World Congress in the United States and hope that all our experiences and those of our members may contribute to making swift progress in high speed rail development in the USA, thereby enabling the USA to join the world’s high speed leaders,” added Loubinoux.

“As America reshapes our transportation options and advances high-speed and intercity passenger rail to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, UIC’s decision to hold the World Congress here will go a long way in ensuring that the United States draws on the knowledge and experience of experts from around the world,” said APTA President William Millar.

Partnering with UIC and APTA in hosting the World Congress are Amtrak and the Association of American Railroads, all UIC North American Members.

At a ceremony May 11 in New York, UIC’s Loubinoux joined Amtrak Vice President-High Speed Rail Al Engel, along with high-level representatives from both Russian Railways and East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), in signing declaration formally launching “the UIC Declaration on Sustainable Mobility and Transport,” which among other goals includes emphasizing global HSR and passenger rail development.
Canadian National is making a series of capacity improvements to accommodate growing container volumes at its Brampton Intermodal Terminal (BIT), Canada’s largest such facility. CN says almost 60% of its system-wide intermodal business touches the terminal, which is located in the busy logistics area of Greater Toronto.

cn_logo.jpgThese improvements include installation of new track and extension of existing track to increase rail capacity by close to 15%; providing 25% more ground space for international containers by staging CN containers offsite; purchasing five new cranes in 2011, after the acquisition of five last fall; and increasing the labor force by 10%.

This expansion follows construction of new entry and exit lanes for truckers last December that increased BIT’s gate throughput by 33%.

BIT's 2011 intermodal volumes through the end of April increased by 12% compared with the same period of 2010.

CN's total 2010 intermodal volumes increased by 17% over 2009 to 1,455,000 units, while intermodal revenue last year rose by 18% to C$1.576 million.

Claude Mongeau, president and CEO of CN, said in a statement Tuesday: “Weare investing in new track, equipment, and other infrastructure improvements at BIT to take our intermodal service offering to the next level in efficiently distributing growing overseas container traffic reaching our network over Canadian ports as well as rising domestic intermodal shipments across Canada. These investments will increase supply chain efficiencies for our customers and help them grow their businesses.”
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 04:39

Amtrak Adirondack may get Customs revamp

The commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday outlined planned improvements to joint U.S.-Canada operations, including streamlined radar operations to detect low-flying aircraft and establishing customs clearance for Amtrak’s Adirondack in Montreal’s Central Station.

Commissioner Alan Bersin referred to the potential changes at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing chaired by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Schumer has voiced frustration with current customs procedures for the Adirondack, which has the train stop at the U.S.-Canada border for up to two hours. (On a trip last October, Railway Age Managing Editor Douglas John Bowen recorded waiting times of 49 minutes northbound, clearing Canadian customs, and 1 hour 45 minutes southbound, clearing U.S. customs, on a New York-to-Montreal round trip.)

Bersin said his agency is exploring the possibility of opening an inspection facility in Montreal that would serve Amtrak passengers traveling to New York State locations, including New York City. Customs and Border Protection operates in such a matter in Vancouver, British Columbia, served by Amtrak’s Cascades trains.

During the hearing, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) urged Customs and Border Protection officials to work with Vermont state officials to help restore New York-Montreal Amtrak service routed through Vermont, which could offer potential economies of scale to any new Customs inspection plan for Amtrak Montreal service. Amtrak’s Montrealer was discontinued in 1995.

Bersin replied, “The difficulty in the Montreal-Vermont-New York corridor is that, unlike Vancouver-Seattle, there are many stops along the way, which complicates the notion of pre-clearance because you can't then segment the traffic when it arrives in New York.” But the commissioner added, “We are certainly willing to explore the options.”

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 07:03

CSX updates financial guidance

CSX Corp. told its annual Investor and Financial Analyst Conference in Detroit Wednesday that it’s “targeting a compound annual growth rate in earnings per share of 18% to 20% through 2015, supported by a compound annual growth rate for operating income of 12% to 14% over the same time period.” The company reaffirmed its goal of achieving a 65% operating ratio no later than 2015.

csx_logo.jpg.jpg“CSX is ideally positioned to meet the growing transportation demand in this country,” said Michael J. Ward, chairman, president, and CEO. “Expansion in the U.S. economy, global trade, and CSX’s substantial investments in its infrastructure mean more things will move on our highly efficient freight rail network.”

Noting that it invested $8.3 billion in improvements in the five years between 2006 and 2010, CSX said it expects to reinvest an average of 18% of its revenue back into its business through 2015.

The company intends to base future dividends on a payout ratio of 30% to 35% of earnings per share as measured on a trailing 12-month basis. It’s also targeting share repurchases of about $1 billion annually after its current $2 billion program is completed in 2012.

“Our high expectations for CSX are grounded in what we clearly see happening in the marketplace and what we know about the capability of our people, our infrastructure, and our ability to bring value to customers,” said Oscar Munoz, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “We see significant opportunity to create value and are working to build on that opportunity through the balanced deployment of capital and a focus on strengthening our credit profile.”
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 07:11

Wabtec to supply brakes for NJT cars

Wabtec Corp. announced that it has signed a contract valued at about $12 million to provide braking equipment to Bombardier Transportation Canada, Inc., for 100 new passenger rail cars on order from New Jersey Transit.

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The contract, which also includes draft gears and bench test equipment, includes an option to supply Bombardier for up to 79 additional cars.

New Jersey Transit awarded the car order to Bombardier in 2010.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 07:42

Victoria moves closer to LRT commitment

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission in British Columbia on Tuesday endorsed a C$950 million light rail transit line to link Victoria and nearby Langford, B.C. But the commission cautiously noted it still needs a commitment of provincial and federal funding before any LRT project proceeds.

LRT was chosen over public transit options, including Bus Rapid Transit, despite LRT’s higher initial capital costs.

"We must have the province and the feds in," Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said at the transit commission meeting. "They have to be in to make this project a reality. If they are in, we will make this project a reality."

Officials in Victoria, as well as throughout Vancouver Island, recently have struggled to secure C$15 million in provincial and federal financial assistance to rescue a dilapidated freight rail right-of-way.

The unresolved issue has cast doubt on the likelihood of any provincial or federal support for any rail passenger project. Despite that, the British Columbia Transit Board is scheduled to cast its vote on the LRT project on May 26. British Columbia Transit staff reportedly already have been directed to prepare a plan for interim improvements to transit services and infrastructure that would support or benefit the establishment for light rail.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 08:26

Class I rails add 5,689 jobs in 12 months

In mid-April, U.S. Class I railroads employed 5,689 more people than they did in April 2010, and 935 more than in March 2011. The 3.77% improvement in employment compared with a year ago and the 0.60% gain since March were in line with the gradual growth in railroad jobs that has been taking place in recent months.

Total employment in April was 156,777 vs. 151,088 in April 2010, according to the Surface Transportation Board.

The largest employment group, transportation (train and engine), had 62,872 workers in April, up 6.04% from April 2010.

In other categories, maintenance of way and structures employment reached 35,573, up 2.54%; maintenance of equipment and stores, 28,852, up 1.95%; executives, officials, and staff assistants, 9,238, up 2.39%; and transportation (other than train and engine), 6,665, up 2.57%.

Passenger flows were nearly normal Monday morning at PATH’s Hoboken Station following an accident Sunday, when a train ran through its bumper block and into the station platform, injuring about 35 people, some of whom were treated in nearby hospitals.

Long Island Rail Road trains still had limited access to New York’s Penn Station Monday following an Amtrak derailment in one of the four East River tunnels Sunday. Amtrak and LIRR work crews, augmented by crews from LIRR’s sister railroad Metro-North, were at work Monday removing passenger cars and assessing infrastructure damage.

LIRR on Monday said it anticipated significant adjustments to existing schedules, including train cancelations, to occur through Wednesday. On Tuesday, LIRR, re-evaluating the problem, said service disruptions could last through the week. About 20 eastbound morning trains were canceled Monday morning, with passengers urged to consider New York City Transit E and 7 subway service as an option.

Amtrak train 254, completing its scheduled run Sunday from Albany, N.Y., to New York’s Penn Station, derailed as it headed under the East River to Sunnyside Yard in Queens, damaging both catenary and the third rail. The derailment also was expected to affect Amtrak service between New York and Boston, as well as New Jersey Transit, which also services trains in Sunnyside Yard.

Wabtec Corp. said Monday it has signed a US$21 million contract with mining company Rio Tinto to provide electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) braking equipment for a portion of the company’s freight cars and locomotives in Australia. The equipment will be delivered in 2011-12.

wabtec_logo.jpgUnder the contract, Wabtec will provide about 3,600 carsets of ECP equipment so that Rio Tinto can retrofit its fleet of iron ore cars, most of which currently use Wabtec’s standard pneumatic brakes. In addition, Rio Tinto will install ECP brakes on six locomotives initially, with potential for more in the future.

“The advantages of electronic braking – including significantly shorter stopping distances – have been proven in commercial use by railroads around the world,” said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer. “Rio Tinto’s investment in this technology is a further demonstration that heavy-haul railroads can deploy ECP to reduce cycle times and improve train handling, and we are pleased to be part of the project.”

Wabtec said that with standard pneumatic brake equipment, the brakes are applied and released throughout the train sequentially, one car after another. ECP equipment uses an electronic signal to apply and release the brakes simultaneously in every car.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011 04:16

Bombardier shows "Last Mile

Bombardier Transportation Tuesday said it was premiering a TRAXX AC locomotive with a supplementary diesel motor at the Transport Logistic trade fair, which begins today in Munich, Germany, and runs through Friday.

bombardier_logo.jpgDescribed as a “Last Mile Diesel,” the design removes the need to change locomotives in shunting areas of a rail network. The technology offers increased flexibility, for example at stations where a system change takes place, at terminals, at ports, or on construction sites. In general, the so-called last mile in those areas generally are not electrified, and until now shunting locomotives have had to replace electric locomotives in these areas to close the gap, Bombardier said.

Åke Wennberg, president of Locomotives and Equipment division, Bombardier Transportation, said: “Our Last Mile locomotive offers real innovation, giving rise to whole new possibilities in rail freight transportation. I am certain that this new product will impress our customers.”

The first five locomotives of this type were already ordered by the leasing firm Railpool at the end of last year. “This fulfills a long-held wish for us, the market has been waiting for this opportunity. We are convinced by this solution,” said Dr. Walter Breinl, managing director of Railpool GmbH.

Three of these five locomotives will be leased by the Swiss private rail firm BLS Cargo. “The Last Mile Locomotive enables us to develop new markets for BLS Cargo,” said Dr. Dirk Stahl, CEO of BLS Cargo. “We can offer customers in Switzerland, Germany and Austria innovative and above all efficient rail logistics solutions.”
Harrisburg, Pa.-based TransCore said Tuesday it has readied “a next generation multiprotocol radio frequency identification (RFID) rail reader, and a field processor unit, the Train Recording Unit (TRU™).”  Both are designed to support the rail market’s transition to updated automatic equipment identification (AEI) technology, used throughout the industry to monitor rail car assets.

TransCore says railroads have been instrumental in driving all aspects of AEI product development since the original design in the early ’90s, including TransCore’s new products announced Tuesday. TransCore says it has a long-standing relationship with railroads around the world, with systems in place in 25 countries.

Says company Executive Vice President Operations George McGraw, “Railroads across North America move more than approximately 1.7 billion tons of freight a year and need the latest technology to enhance visibility and security for shipment tracking and providing chain of custody of shipments. More crucial is that this technology is interoperable with their current investment in AEI technology and can transition to newer technology without rendering the current systems obsolete.”

Transcore says the TRU captures AEI tag data and other data “to report an accurate standing order train consist to railroad management systems. It is the key component used to implement AEI reader systems at main line rail locations in North America. The TRU records detailed information about trains, uses the information to create ‘clean consists,’ and then transmits consist reports to one or more host computer systems. A train clean consist report is a train listing in standing order, where orientation of tagged equipment is provided, location of untagged equipment is provided, and car count is accurate. The TRU accommodates and accurately filters data from normal operating procedures such as changes in speed and direction. It also incorporates intelligence to handle both single and multi-track locations.”

TransCore's Multiprotocol Rail Reader (MPRR) interfaces directly to the TRU wayside AEI controller “to provide a complete railroad AEI reader system to the North American railroads,” Transcore says. ”MPRRsd are quickly and easily installed, tested, and maintained by TransCore personnel. The MPRR is a fully integrated, self-contained 902 to 928 MHz wireless RFID reader that is specifically designed for rail applications. It is a replacement for TransCore’s AI1200 Reader/AR2200 RF module systems, and can read current AAR format and the new SeGo protocol tags. The MPRR provides flexibility by offering a real-time clock; expanded tag read buffering; programmable RF output power; programmable frequency range from 860.00 to 930.00 MHz in 250-kHz programmable frequency steps; and system integrity checking. It employs advanced multiplexing techniques that improve reader performance at higher train speeds when compared to legacy products. In addition, this unique multiplexing mode provides the capability for one reader to manage up to four antennas.”

New features of the Train Recording Unit include the ability to update tags remotely without taking railcars out of service and to replace obsolete and unreliable systems that are no longer manufactured or supported. The technology is said to be more cost-effective, as a single TRU controller can handle train processing on two tracks vs. just one. The TRU is the first to comply with AAR Recommended Practice RP-9203, for improved train reporting accuracy in both single and multi-track environments. It offers accurate handling of high value, specialty cars, is easily updated with new car profiles for accurate standing order train consists, and provides S918A train and maintenance reporting. It offers reduced maintenance costs through automated integrated self diagnostics, automated maintenance reporting, and extensive remote access and support features. The TRU is a networkable device that allows existing sites to be easily upgraded to use today’s network IP communications strategies. Built rugged for high reliability in the rail environment, it complies with AREMA 11.5.1 Class C environmental specifications.
Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Tuesday it and ERB Technologies have been chosen to provide a Yard Automation System at Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen South Mine in South Africa. ERB Technologies is based in Midrand, South Africa.

railcomm_logo.jpgThe automation system will be composed of RailComm’s DOC® (Domain Operations Controller) server-based central control system and four associated outdoor-rated control panels. Additionally, the system will utilize RailComm RADiANT™ data radios to communicate between the office system, the control panels, and a network of power switches.

The power switches will be controlled by the RailComm Universal Switch Controller, which provides customers with the ability to utilize any power switch machine on the market. The RailComm Yard Automation System has been designed to increase yard safety and improve yard dwell time and yard throughput.
Officials at Alstom Transport Tuesday detailed the company’s preparations to handle anticipated U.S. rail infrastructure upgrading, including $3 million in investments to its 150,000 square foot rail signaling manufacturing facility in West Henrietta, N.Y., allowing a potential addition of 200 jobs.

alstom_logo.jpgAlstom made the announcement during an event at its Rochester, N.Y., facility that included remarks from U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari, New York State Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, regional labor leaders, and a representative of the Apollo Alliance, a national coalition of labor, business, and community leaders that support investments in public transit and other infrastructure.

“As gas prices rise and families look for environmentally friendly transportation alternatives, President Obama is committed to making sure our freight and passenger rail networks move people and goods more quickly and efficiently than ever before,” said DOT Deputy Secretary Porcari. “Thanks to companies like Alstom, American workers are building the rail lines and equipment that will allow us to compete and win in the global economy.”

Guillaume Mehlman, Alstom Transport’s managing director in North America, said, “Alstom has seen first-hand how federal and state investments in rail transportation projects help companies like ours create good jobs. We are expanding our facility in Rochester and hiring several hundred people in order to meet additional demand created by such investments. We applaud federal, state, and local policy makers who see the linkage between investing in the nation’s rail transportation system and creating good jobs.”

New Jersey Transit Corp. unveiled the ALP45-DP, its first dual-powered locomotive, noting it also is the first of its kind in North America, at Newark-Penn Station Wednesday, immediately following its Board of Directors meeting. The locomotive was on static display on Track A (as seen below).

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NJT says its has ordered 26 dual-powered locomotives from Bombardier Transportation. It did not disclose whether it still plans to exercise an option for an additional 10 units.

The single-cab locomotives, which can operate in both electrified (catenary) and non-electrified territory, will give NJT added flexibility within its rail network. One strong possibility is direct service to New York-Penn Station from all stations on its North Jersey Coast Line; at present, only municipalities under wire on the NJCL are served in such a manner. NJT could also use the Bombardier dual-power locomotives for services on its Hoboken Division, which also include a mix of electrified and non-electrified right-of-way.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 06:08

NS increases aid to severe-weather states

Norfolk Southern said Wednesday it is increasing its support of relief efforts in southeastern states hard hit by recent severe storms and (for some) resultant flooding.

ns_logo.jpgNS last month announced support for Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee in the form of $100,000 to the American Red Cross in each of the three states, free rail transportation for movement of certain critical response supplies, and zero-interest loans for employees who suffered property damage. On Wednesday, NS said it will make the same contributions for Virginia.

“The damaging storms did not spare our headquarters state, and we want our employees, neighbors, and business partners to know that we stand with them in recovery and rebuilding,” NS Chairman, President, and CEO Wick Moorman said.

NS employs 8,300 railroaders in Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and operates over 4,450 miles of railroad there.

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