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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Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley participated Monday in the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new, $97.5 million Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility in McCalla, Ala., part of the railroad’s Crescent Corridor initiative to build a high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast.

Scheduled to open in late 2012, the facility will occupy a 316-acre site adjacent to the Jefferson Metropolitan Park. It has a targeted capacity of 165,000 containers and trailers annually.

ns_logo.jpg“The Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility is ideally located to serve the Southeast and is a critical component of our Crescent Corridor,” said Moorman. “We thank Secretary LaHood and USDOT for their efforts to form public-private partnerships to create jobs and economic development opportunities.”

“The Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility will bring significant economic growth to McCalla and thousands of jobs to Alabamians,” said Gov. Bentley at the ceremony.

Norfolk Southern describes the Crescent Corridor as a “program of independent projects and improvements geared toward creating a 2,500-mile intermodal route spanning from New Jersey to Louisiana that touches 26% of the nation’s population and 30% of the nation’s manufacturing output.” The cost is estimated at $2.5 billion for full development.
Monday, 06 June 2011 08:33

Ceremony marks CSX yard expansion

A groundbreaking ceremony Monday marked the start of a $100 million expansion of a CSX freight yard in Worcester, Mass. Gov. Deval L. Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray joined state and local elected officials at the ceremonial groundbreaking, hailing the celebration as an important milestone in a rail transportation agreement between the state and CSX involving freight and passenger rail.

csx_logo.jpg.jpgCSX is moving its freight operations out of the Beacon Park yards in Boston to existing rail yards in Central and Western Massachusetts, and plans to make Worcester its freight hub for New England. When completed, the freight yard will encompass 79 acres. The expansion will also permit increased passenger rail traffic between Worcester and Boston.

"Expanding commuter rail service to Worcester is a critical component of our administration’s economic development agenda,” Gov. Patrick said. “Today’s groundbreaking ceremony brings us one step closer to improving transportation service and increasing opportunity for business creation between Worcester and Boston.”

Lt. Gov. Murray said the project it will provide a significantly stronger transportation link between Worcester and Boston, as well as linking job and educational centers along that corridor. He also said it will expand available affordable shipping options for companies in Massachusetts so they can bring their products to market in a cost-efficient manner.

"This has been a tremendous partnership between the Commonwealth, CSX and the city of Worcester," Mr. O'Brien said. "This development is key to the future or our city, linking centers of economic growth and creating jobs. The future does indeed look very bright for our community."

For CSX’s part, "We will be a good neighbor to the city of Worcester and we hope to continue this partnership for years to come," said Lsa Mancini, senior vice president of human resources and labor relations at CSX.
Monday, 06 June 2011 10:41

AREMA warns of show guide scam

AREMA, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, has posted an alert on its home page, warning of a scam involving Railway Interchange 2011. AREMA is participating in the event, set for Sept. 18-21, 2011 in Minneapolis, in conjunction with its 2011 Annual Conference.

“We are alerting all Exhibitors and Sponsors of an email, mail and/or phone scam wherein a company is claiming to be soliciting ads or ‘upgraded ads’ for the Show Guide for Railway Interchange in Minneapolis,” AREMA says.

“Please be aware that we have not authorized any third party company or persons other than Simmons-Boardman Publishing to solicit ads for this Event. The company doing this unauthorized solicitation is using the name Fair Guide. It may claim to have all of your contact information for the Show. The address on the return envelope is Glendale Heights, Ill., and the other paperwork shows the publisher’s address in Bratislava, Slovakia.

“Simmons-Boardman Publishing, the publishers of Railway Track & Structures and Railway Age magazines, is the official publisher of the Event Guide for Railway Interchange 2011.

“If you are contacted, we urge you to end the phone call immediately, delete the email, or discard the mailing and not to provide any credit card/data or secure information,” AREMA recommends.

A similar warning has been posted on the Railway Interchange 2011 website

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 05:13

T

Atlanta-based TÜV Rheinland Rail Sciences, Inc. says it has upgraded and moved its Omaha testing and metallurgical analysis laboratory to a new facility in nearby La Vista, Neb., about 12 miles southeast of the company’s previous facility.

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The company says the new facility will allow TÜV RSI to continue to offer a range of applied mechanical and materials engineering services, along with additional offerings, including advanced chemical analysis, among others.

“We feel our new lab will provide significant benefits to our customers,” said Gary Wolf, president of TÜV Rheinland Rail Sciences, Inc. “We have moved from crowded, shared space into a new dedicated facility with easier access to major transportation routes, enhanced work-flow paths and upgraded equipment. Our customers will immediately notice our faster turn-around times and the increased services we will provide.”

Testing services the laboratory provides include: failure analysis; metallography; non-destructive testing (NDT); SEM and optical microscopy; mechanical (tensile, fatigue, impact) testing; corrosion analysis; and chemical analysis. Advanced chemical analysis services will be offered shortly after the laboratory’s new glow discharge spectrometer is installed, expected within the next two to three months.

Additional services offered through this facility include finite element analysis (FEA), on-site testing and data acquisition, mechanical and materials design services, new product development assistance, supplier validation, quality control, accident reconstruction and expert witness testimony.

Users of the laboratory’s services typically include: original equipment manufacturers; aerospace, automotive and general industrial manufacturers; materials and component manufacturers; pressure vessel manufacturers; railways and railroad suppliers; and others.

TÜV RSI is a subsidiary of TÜV Rheinland North America Holding Inc., itself part of Cologne, Germany-based TÜV Rheinland AG.

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 05:27

RailComm lands Denver RTD contract

Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Tuesday its Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) train control system has been chosen for use in Denver Regional Transportation District’s West Corridor.

railcomm_logo.jpgRailComm’s DOC® is a next generation computer-aided dispatching system that will be used to centrally control the CTC signal system and the OCS (Overhead Catenary System) electrification sub-stations.

The DOC® software-based control system is an advanced command, control, communications and information (C3i) server-based platform that supports a wide variety of integrated solutions for indication, control, access and distribution of critical operational data across the corporate enterprise.
Bourque Logistics, Inc., which provides logistics software for industrial shippers, is introducing RAILPort™, a web-based tool that allows casers to create and distribute custom reports. RAILPort™ utilizes current data pulled from the Bourque Logistics database.

“RAILPort™ is extremely user-friendly, allowing users to quickly build reports from pre-written queries that span loading and shipment status, railcar profile and compliance, and freight cost and payment templates across all BL software modules,” Bourque said in an announcement Tuesday.

With RAILPort™, a user can select and filter data fields, re-size and sort columns and their order, and set breaks and totals. Users can then define a distribution schedule to others via email PDF, Excel, or “Live-Link”connects that re-query on demand.

“RAILPort’s Live-Link function provides the most recent data that ‘canned’ reports do not,” commented Steve Bourque, president, Bourque Logistics.

Hoping to prompt resolution between CSX Corp. and New York State, the Empire State Passengers Association (ESPA) on Monday declared it supported CSX’s proposed 90 mph speed limit for CSX’s route between Buffalo and Schenectady.

New York’s Department of Transportation, in negotiations with CSX to establish higher-speed rail (HrSR) service upstate, has sought a top speed of 110 mph, prompting objections from CSX, based in part on concerns over crew safety.

espa_logo.jpgIn a statement, ESPA President Bruce Becker said, “The immediate needs of New York state's rail passengers are for reduced trip times and improved on-time performance reliability.” He added, “It is critical that New York state and CSX finalize the agreements necessary to allow the currently funded incremental improvement infrastructure projects to proceed forward as quickly as possible, particularly the vital, 110 mph second main track between Albany and Schenectady.”

In response, a CSX spokesman said, “CSX appreciates the comments from the Empire State Passengers Association as we continue to work with the state toward solutions that will provide safe, efficient rail passenger service while ensuring CSX's ability to deliver safe, efficient, green, and economically vital freight rail service to the region.”

The right-of-way in question is part of Amtrak’s Empire Corridor, with current top speeds of 79 mph. Amtrak trains on the Empire Corridor south of Albany can reach 110 mph over short spans of the route.csx_logo.jpg.jpg 

ESPA’s Becker said accord on a 90 mph speed limit would trigger needed upgrades along the route, including a third track being discussed by CSX and the state to increase capacity. “That, from the passenger's perspective, would increase reliability,” he said.

New York recently received federal funds, reapportioned from Florida’s rejection of high speed rail money, that is target to various portions of the Empire Corridor east of Schenectady, including the second track on the Empire Corridor between Albany and Schenectady, and a fourth track to expand capacity at Rensselaer Station.

Late Tuesday, Amtrak, in a statement, said, “Amtrak has and will continue to work with its partners at the State of New York and the host railroads to provide support and lend its expertise tothe further development of any high speed rail initiatives in the region.”


 

Wednesday, 08 June 2011 06:16

Bombardier wins new business in Australia

Bombardier Transportation has a stake valued at $265 million in a $1.1 billion contract that the Queensland state government has awarded to the GoldLinQ consortium to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the first stage of the Gold Coast Rapid Transit light rail system in an 18-year public-private partnership.

bombardier_logo.jpgBombardier said in a statement Wednesday that as a member of the consortium, it will supply 14 BOMBARDIER FLEXITY 2 light rail vehicles, signaling and control systems, communication systems, electrification including traction power supply substations, and overhead line equipment, as well as project management and systems engineering.

The Gold Coast Rapid Transit system is designed to handle 50,000 passengers a day with provisions to expand capacity to 75,000 passengers per day.

Sixteen stations are planned for the 13-kilometer (8-mile) LRT route, which will serve the new Gold Coast University Hospital, Griffith University, and commercial, retail, and recreational centers of Southport, Surfers Paradise, and Broadbeach. Revenue service is scheduled to begin in 2014.

San Francisco's Transport Workers Union Local 250-A is pressuring MUNI to seek repeal of Proposition G, a voter initiative funding improvements to light rail and bus operations and infrastructure. The union's effort appears aimed at strengthening its bargaining position in upcoming talks.

muni_logo.jpgRepeal of the proposition reportedly could jeopardize $2 billion in federal funding for the capital projects involved. Lawyers for the union, which represents roughly 2,000 MUNI rail and bus operators, complained to the Department of Labor earlier this week that the initiative violates a Federal Transit Act guarantee of fair bargaining rights for employees.

A union spokesman said labor officials could bar MUNI from receiving federal transit funds until it complies with federal labor standards. Such funds comprise the bulk of many MUNI capital projects.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates MUNI, already faces a $2.2 billion shortfall in its capital budget.

In another matter, SFMTA on Thursday said that, effective immediately, folding bicycles are allowed on all MUNI vehicles, except cable cars.
New Jersey Transit will repair or “renew” three grade crossings this summer on its Pascack Valley Line, which traverses eastern Bergen County, according to spokeswoman Courtney Carroll.

njt_logo.jpg“The work includes ripping up the old crossing, replacing ties and rails, resurfacing the track and repaving,” Carroll said. “In addition to the grade crossing work on weekends, we will be doing maintenance elsewhere on the line during the week.”

The work will require the closure of three local grade crossings in Montvale, Park Ridge, and Oradell, each on a different weekend during June. Weekend rail service will not operate during these times.

NJT also says service on the Pascack Valley Line will be curtailed to accommodate maintenance work along the entire line from June 4 to June 26.
Sound Transit’s Board of Directors, under political pressure from Federal Way, Wash., representatives, said Thursday they would seek less-costly options for extending light rail transit to Federal Way.

Board members expressed sympathy to objections by Federal Way that LRT’s arrival would be delayed from 2023 to as late as 2040. “The goodnews for Federal Way is I think we’re going to get there,” said board member and Sumner, Wash., Mayor Dave Enslow, although the mayor added,  “I’m not exactly sure when.” 

Examining an alternate route to Federal Way—elevated lightrail along Interstate 5 instead of state Route 99—could take a year, said Sound Transit planner David Beal.

Board Chairman Aaron Reardon said Sound Transit will try towork with Federal Way as best as it can and as Sound Transit’s finances will permit.

Friday, 27 May 2011 07:48

AAR notes House move on regulation

The White House on Thursday began unveiling what it said would be “hundreds of regulatory changes that could save businesses billions of dollars and tens of millions of hours of work.”

The proposals reduce costs while “maintaining the critical health and safety protections that Americans deserve.”

aar_logo.jpgThe White House announcement led the Association of American Railroads to issue the following statement from President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger:

“We are pleased to see the Administration continues to move forward with its review of federal regulations that stymie U.S. economic recovery and future growth. AAR has been working with the Federal Railroad Administration on its review of various rules, including implementation of positive train control (PTC) technologies as mandated by the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act.

"In March 2010, AAR on behalf of its member railroads filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit seeking to change certain aspects of the PTC regulations. On March 2, 2011 the parties asked the court to put the suit on hold while FRA agreed to undertake a review of its final rule. The D.C. Circuit granted the motion.

"A major issue is the scope of the PTC mandate. For example, while Congress clearly stipulated that PTC be installed on main lines used to transport passengers and TIH as of Dec. 31, 2015, FRA required PTC to be installed on lines used to transport passengers and TIH in 2008. This seven-year difference in implementation dates substantially affects the cost—according to AAR estimates by more than $500 million. AAR also estimates that at least 10,000 miles of track that saw TIH movements in 2008 would no longer be used for such movements by Dec. 31, 2015."

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 04:03

Bombardier gets DFW Skylink contract

Bombardier Transportation has signed 10-year contract valued at $165 million with Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport to continue operating and maintaining the airport’s automatic people mover system. Bombardier received an order for the elevated dual-lane guideway system in 2000.

bombardier_logo.jpg

Known as Skylink, it connects Terminals A, B, C, D. and E. “Since it opened in 2005, the Skylink people mover system has helped transform DFW into one of the best connecting airports in the world by offering fast and easy access between all five of our terminals,” said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW International Airport.

“Skylink has dramatically improved the passenger experience at DFW, and we are truly pleased to continue our long-term partnership with Bombardier for the operations and maintenance ofthe Skylink system,” Fegan said.

Ansaldo STS has been provisionally awarded the tender to build Line 4 of the Milan (Italy) Metro, as part of a temporary consortium. The consortium includes Impregilo, Astaldi, Ansaldo STS, AnsaldoBreda, Sirti, and ATM.

ansaldo_sts_logo.jpgAnsaldo STS’s share will be approximately A$340 million (US$363 million).

Milan Metro Line 4 will connect Linate Airport to San Cristoforo railway station using the Ansaldo STS driverless CBTC technology.

Under the contract, Ansaldo STS will design and construct signaling and automation, electric power supply, ticketing and passenger access control, communications with the trains (TETRA and Wi-Fi) an d on-board train communications systems, maintenance equipment, SCADA, and platform-edge doors.
New Orleans’ Regional Transit Authority next week expects to select one of six bids submitted for extending streetcar service along Loyola Avenue to link Canal Street with Union Passenger Terminal.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is scheduled join city officials for a ceremonial ground-breaking on June 7 and, barring complications, RTA officials expect construction of the 1.5-mile, $45 million extension to begin by midsummer. The agency hopes to begin revenue service about 12 months later.

The new route will use surplus streetcars from the Canal Street and Riverfront lines.

Local media report that since the project was announced last year, hotel renovations, apartments, and retail projects have been springing up along the strip.
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 05:26

New name for MTU Detroit Diesel

Tognum America, Inc. made its debut Wednesday, June 1, as the new moniker supplanting MTU Detroit Diesel, Inc. Tognum America is the North American subsidiary of Friedrichshafen, Germany-based Tognum AG, responsible for the sales of service of MTU engines and MTU Onsite Energy distributed energy systems.

The company says Tognum America, based in Detroit, also has offices in Houston,Washington, D.C., San Leandro, Calif., St. Rose, La., Miami, and Mankato, Minn.The company also operates two state-of-the-art production facilities: one inMankato, Minn., for diesel and gas-based generator sets, and one in Aiken, S.C.,where it currently machines parts and builds MTU Series 2000 and 4000 engines.
 

Tognum employs more than 750 people in North America and, in 2010, 23% of Tognum AG’s revenue came from North America.
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 06:07

Wabtec forms new joint venture in China

Wabtec Corp. announced Tuesday that it has formed a joint venture with Zhuzhou CSR Times Electric Co., Ltd., to manufacture and service brake equipment for Chinese transit systems.

wabtec_logo.jpgPrior to forming the joint venture—Hunan CSR Wabtec Railway Transportation Technology Co.—Wabtec and CSR Times Electric worked together to provide equipment for the Chinese transit market in China.

“We continue to strengthen our presence in China, one of the fastest-growing rail markets in the world,” said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer. “Through this JV and others we have formed, we now provide a range of products in the freight and transit markets, including brake equipment, friction products, couplers, and heat exchangers.”
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 07:11

Rail accidents/incidents down 10% in 1Q

This year’s first quarter saw continued overall improvement in railroad safety, with the total number of accidents/incidents down 10.1% compared with the first quarter of last year.

Train accidents declined 5.3% to 481 and caused one fatality, compared with six in the 2010 period.

Derailments were down nearly 2% to 355, and yard accidents declined 9.7% to 252. The number of collision increased from 28 to 32.

Total rail-related fatalities in January-March this year increased 7.3% to 161, but 155 of these were essentially beyond the railroads’ control. Trespassing fatalities rose 2.5% to 83, and highway-rail fatalities were up 12.5% to 72.

There were four employee fatalities in this year’s first quarter, compared with five in the corresponding period last year.
Thursday, 02 June 2011 05:31

CSX launches community service project

CSX Corp. said Thursday it has begun an eight-month-long community service project, entitled Beyond Our Rails: Project Sanctuary (www.beyondourrails.org), that infuses five days of management training between now and February 2012 with the company's core value of giving back to the communities where its employees live and work.

csx_logo.jpg.jpgThrough painting, mending fences, replacing windows, and building new gardens and a compost bin, CSX has committed to revitalizing The Sanctuary on 8th Street, a learning haven for children in one of the Jacksonville, Fla.’s toughest neighborhoods, while instilling a greater sense of community connectedness in its next generation of leaders from around the country.

Beginning this Saturday, groups of newly hired or promoted CSX managers will team with CSX's existing management ranks at The Sanctuary on 8th Street to renovate the early 1900s-era building and surrounding grounds. CSX says 500 employees will work an estimated 1,200 service hours during the project, and for every hour volunteered, the CSX Foundation will direct $10 to a charitable organization of each employee's choice through its Dollars for Doers program.

Tori Kaplan, director of corporate citizenship for CSX, said, “It is a long-standing belief at CSX that helping to build stronger communities makes us better as a company. The challenges that the kids at Sanctuary on 8th Street are up against are daunting. Our hope is to provide them with a greater sense of pride in this special place where they play, work and learn—all while further cultivating CSX’s commitment to service in every member of our management team.”

Originally built as the United States' sixth established post office, The Sanctuary on 8th Street purchased its building in May of 1999 to serve as the headquarters for this non-profit organization which provides after school programs, summer camps and a home school for inner-city children, many of whom live in poverty.
U.S. freight carload traffic for the week ending May 28, 2011 edged up 0.7%, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. Intermodal volume for the week did even better, up 4.2% compared with the same week in 2010.

aar_logo.jpgAAR noted only seven of the 20 carload commodity groups it identifies posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. Leading gainers included metallic ores, up 48.9%, grain, up 18.%5, and lumber and wood products, up 13.7%. Declining groups were led by primary forest products, down 23.1%, farm products excluding grain, down 19.7%, and nonmetallic minerals, down 15.4%.

Canadian freight carload traffic gained significantly, up 6.5% from last year, lthough Canadian intermodal slipped a modest 0.1%. Mexican freight carload traffic declined 10.7% compared with the same week last year, but intermodal rose 29.4%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 21 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 2.9% compared with the same point last year, while intermodal notched a 7.7% gain compared with last year.

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