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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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.

Monday, 21 November 2011 08:23

STB authorizes 35-mile Alaska Rail extension

The Surface Transportation Board issued a decision Monday authorizing the Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) to build a 35-mile line connecting Port MacKenzie in south-central Alaska to a point on ARRC’s existing main line near Houston, Alaska. The line would provide a rail transport option between Port MacKenzie and the interior of Alaska, where trucking is now the only mode of surface freight transportation.

stb_logo.jpgThe authorization is subject to environmental mitigation conditions, said the STB:

“The Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA), working with the assistance of several federal agencies, has completed a thorough environmental analysis that carefully compared 12 potential routes and the No-Action (or No-Build) alternative, in order to take a hard look at potential environmental impacts as required by the National Environmental Policy Act , and identify the environmentally preferred alternative.

“Based on that analysis, OEA has recommended extensive environmental conditions to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the transaction’s potential environmental impacts, although it notes that adverse impacts could still occur to certain resource areas. The proceeding has included ample opportunity for public input during the environmental review process, and OEA incorporated the comments of agencies and other interested parties inpreparing its environmental analysis and developing its final recommended environmental conditions in this case.”

The board noted that the no-action alternative “would avoid the environmental effects of construction and operation, but would fail to provide freight rail services between Port MacKenzie and the interior of Alaska, leaving trucking as the only available mode of surface freight transportation.”

ARRC filed its petition to build the line on Dec. 5, 2008.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 05:41

Railcomm aids BNSF yard expansion

RailComm said Tuesday it has been selected to expand its existing yard system at BNSF’s Alliance South Yard in Alliance, Neb.

railcomm_logo.jpgFairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said its state-of-the-art Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) System will be used to remotely control switches. The DOC® System will include workstations that will allow the user to monitor device status and review operation logs of all system activity. The workstations will display a graphical representation of the yard area, and the user will be able to view all the devices in the field.

RailComm’s 2.4 GHz RADiANT™ data radios will provide a wireless communication network to link the office with the field locations.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 07:24

Employment up modestly on Class I railroads

Employment on Class I railroads of the U.S. rose to 160,251 in mid-October, up a modest 0.01%, or 11 employees, over mid-September but 3.87% higher than in October 2010.

stb_logo.jpgThe strongest gains were in maintenance. Maintenance of equipment and stores rose 4.53% in October measured against employment a year earlier, and was up 0.72% from September 2011. Maintenance of way and structures employees increased 4.49% from year-earlier levels, and also rose 0.2% from mid-September.

Year-over-year increases were recorded in every employment category,
 according to the Surface Transportation Board Office of Safety Analysis. Compared with September 2011, only one category, Transportation (train and engine), saw a decline in October, down 0.51%.

Compared with October 2010 levels, inn mid-October 2011 the employment of Executives, officials, and staff
 assistants reached 9,354, up 2.57%; Professional and administrative rose 0.76% to 13,904; Transportation
(other than train and engine), with 6,727 employees, was up 2.47%; and Transportation (train and engine) advanced 4.25%.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:38

STB denies mediation in BNSF coal dust case

The Surface Transportation Board issued a decision Tuesday denying a petition of the Western Coal Traffic League (WCTL) asking the Board to institute mediation on a new coal dust tariff issued by BNSF Railway. Instead, the decision is instituting a new proceeding “to consider the reasonableness of the new tariff’s safe harbor provision.”

Tuesday, 22 November 2011 10:24

DOT grants $928.6 million for California HSR

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Tuesday formally awarded a $928.6 million grant to the California High-Speed Rail Authority for phase 1 ofconstruction of California high speed rail. The move comes even as Congress recently voted to terminate the Obama Administration’s overall funding emphasis on high speed rail.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 04:27

Houston readies for FFGA ceremony

Federal, state, and local officials will hold a Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA) special signing ceremony Monday, Nov. 28, for Houston’s light rail expansion projects.

houston_metro_logo.jpgHarris County (Tex.) Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) says the ceremony will be attended by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, three Texas U.S. House representatives, and Houston Mayor Annise Park. Metro Board Chair Gilbert Garcia and Metro President and CEO George Greanias also will be present.

Metro is billing the event as “Houston’s First Ever Full Funding Grant Agreements for Light Rail,” indirectly highlighting the fact that Texas’ largest city committed to its first light rail transit line (of roughly 7 miles) without significant federal backing.

Metro notes the expansion projects generating the ceremony Monday include the North (Red) Line, running from University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) to Northline Transit Center, Houston Community College, and Northline Commons Mall. The Southeast (Purple) Line connects downtown with Texas Southern University and the University of Houston central campus.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 07:02

Arizona utility wins rate case against UP, BNSF

The Surface Transportation Board announced Wednesday that it had awarded an estimated $63 million in reparations and rate reductions to the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative in a decision that grants AEPCO an average rate reduction of 37% over the period 2009-2018.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 07:43

BNSF asks customers to help avert strike

BNSF posted a letter on its website Wednesday warning its customers that a strike threat still faces the railroad industry and asking for their help in averting it.

Monday, 28 November 2011 04:59

AAR: Weekly traffic keeps gaining

U.S. carload freight traffic advanced 1.1% during the week ending Nov. 19, measured against the comparable week in 2010, the Association of American Railroads reported. U.S. intermodal volume did even better, rising 3% for the week compared with a year ago.

Monday, 28 November 2011 05:11

Bombardier marks work in India, Netherlands

Bombardier Transportation on Monday said it has won a contract for propulsion and control equipment in India from Mumbai Railway Vikas Corp. (MRVC) in India. MRVC is a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Government of Maharashtra. On Thanksgiving Day, Bombardier announced its readiness to enable the first mixed European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 and conventional signaling operation, on the line between Amsterdam and Utrecht in The Netherlands.

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