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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Tuesday, 25 October 2011 06:28

Alcatel-Lucent, Adif in C&S R&D pact

Alcatel-Lucent and Adif, a Spanish state-owned company responsible for the management of Spain’s railway infrastructures, on Tuesday said they have signed a collaboration agreement for the testing of communications technologies for use on railway transportation systems.

Teams will test how a single IP-MPLS multi-service and mission critical network can support GSM-R systems, fulfilling the highly demanding railway quality and security specifications, optimizing network build and operation, and improving network service capabilities.

Additionally, the teams will investigate how a LTE mobile broadband system for railways in conjunction with IP convergence can handle different types of traffic such as voice, data and video, to standardize communications across railway networks. The companies will also develop integrated multimedia solutions for improving passenger information systems.

Alcatel-Lucent and Adif will test these technologies in Adif’s new Railways Technology Centre in Malaga, Spain, which has been created to foster innovation and enterprise collaboration around railway technology. The center is intended to be a base for global research and development of communications for high-speed train transportation. This collaboration project is designed to help strengthen Spain’s position at the head of global and European railway system technology.

The framework agreement also covers related activities such as: the collaboration and submission of joint R&D proposals for European and domestic grant opportunities; the development of innovative scientific projects of interest to both companies; the creation of working groups and reports for the development and follow-up of scientific findings; and joint co-operation in training programs if required by the projects.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011 08:38

FRA Deputy Chief Rae returning to NYDOT

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has picked Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Rae to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation in the Governor's Office. Rae previously served as Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Planning at the New York State Department of Transportation.

karen-rae.jpgRae (pictured at left) will join what the governor’s office calls his "new team to lead the state's transportation initiatives.”

The Governor has also announced that he has picked Joseph J. Lhota, who was New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s budget chief, to serve as the chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and selected Nutria Fernandez to serve as the chief operating Officer of MTA. Fernandez currently is the senior vice president of CH2M Hill, a firm that provides engineering, construction, and operations services worldwide.

At FRA, Rae has managed the federal high speed rail initiative as well as safety programs and regulatory initiatives. She also developed national freight and passenger rail policy, where she was responsible for advocacy and finance activities.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 03:55

CN 3Q earnings rise, beat Street

Canadian National late Tuesday reported earnings of C$621 million, or C$1.38 a diluted share, for the third quarter, up 12% from the comparable quarter in 2010 and beating Wall Street analyst expectations of C$1.32 a share. Sales of C$2.3 billion were up 9% from a year ago, CN said.

cn_logo.jpgAddressing media during a conference call Tuesday, CN President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau cited “record revenue performance, a good balance between solid volume increase, good pricing, and overall, if you adjust for currency, our revenues are up 12% over last quarter. And that's reflective of our ability throughout the quarter and since the beginning of the year to outpace the general rate of economic growth.”

Mongeau also noted, “We were able to turn in an operating ratio of 59.3% for the quarter. Our earnings on an adjusted basis are up 16%, and our year-to-date free cash flow is in excess of C$1.3 billion.”

CN officials said the company’s overseas intermodal was up 10%, which it said “outperformed the overall West Coast port average.” Domestic intermodal revenue rose 20%.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 04:54

NYC ponders subway line into New Jersey

A $250,000 study by Parsons Brinckerhoff, due to be publicly released soon, is expected to endorse a proposal to extend New York City Transit’s No. 7 subway line under the Hudson River to Secaucus, N.J.

The proposal, strongly backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is becoming a rising priority for the mayor, who already has committed city funding to extending the No. 7 from Times Square to Manhattan’s West Side. The mayor reportedly wants to get the project under way before leaving office at the end of 2013.

nyct_no._7_symbol.jpgA No. 7 extension to Secaucus would expand the city’s subway system outside the boroughs—let alone across the state line—for the first time ever. Though the New Jersey terminus would be at New Jersey Transit’s Secaucus Junction Station on the Northeast Corridor, other stops might also occur in Hoboken or Weehawken, N.J.

Officials in Hudson County, N.J., and the New Jersey Governor’s office also have expressed interest in the idea. Christie last year terminated an $8.7 billion tunnel project to expand NJ Transit rail capacity under the Hudson River, labeled Access to the Region's Core (ARC). Early cost estimates for a No. 7 tunnel are in a similar cost range.

A spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday, “We have been intrigued all along by this as a potential alternative” though New Jersey rail advocates point out the ridership market of the No. 7 subway extension would be more local and urban, and therefore different, from the now-dead ARC project.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 05:00

Trinity backlog grows to $2.4 billion

Trinity Industries, Inc. has reported third-quarter net income of $31.9 million, compared with $39.7 million for the same quarter of 2010. Revenue for the third quarter was $796.8 million compared with $540.0 million for the prior-year period. The company reported an operating profit of $105.4 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared with an operating profit of $91.9 million for the same quarter last year.

The Rail Group reported revenue of $320.9 million and an operating profit of $18.2 million, compared with revenue of $131.0 million and an operating profit of $3.3 million in the third quarter of 2010. The group shipped approximately 3,605 railcars and received orders for approximately 4,250 railcars during the third quarter. As of Sept. 30, the Rail Group backlog grew to approximately $2.4 billion, representing approximately 27,885 railcars, compared with a backlog of approximately $2.2 billion as of June 30, 2011, representing approximately 27,240 railcars.

Timothy R. Wallace, Trinity’s chairman, CEO, and president, said in a statement: “The order backlogs in both our North American railcar and barge businesses increased during the third quarter, providing a nice foundation for our 2012 planning activities. Our Rail Group is beginning to achieve increased operating leverage associated with strong revenue growth which should have a positive impact on earnings going forward. Our wind towers business is in the latter stages of transitioning production lines over to a larger wind tower, and we expect their performance will begin to show improvement.”

The Railcar Leasing and Management Services Group reported revenue of $153.1 million and an operating profit of $64.2 million for the third quarter, compared with revenue of $122.1 million and an operating profit of $52.9 million during the third quarter of 2010.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 05:02

RailAmerica revenue and earnings rise

RailAmerica, Inc. third-quarter revenue increased 7% to $104.7 million with average revenue per car up 14% and carloads down 6%, the company announced Tuesday. Non-freight revenue increased 14% to $35.0 million.

railamerica.jpgRailAmerica President CEO John Giles said: “This was another strong quarter for us. Operating income excluding 45G credits, impairments and asset sales increased 10%. We achieved these results through our continuing focus on pricing, non-freight revenue, and productivity. Our success in these areas allowed us to perform well despite lower carloads and the temporary disruption of service on our New England Central Railroad from Hurricane Irene.”

RailAmerica reported third-quarter 2011 income from continuing operations of $9.1 million, or $0.17 per diluted share. This compares with $8.0 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2010.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 11:56

NS: Record earnings, operating ratio at 67.5%

Norfolk Southern Corp. late Wednesday announced record third-quarter net income of $554 million, up 24% compared with the same period of 2010. Diluted earnings per share were a record $1.59, up 14%. 

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Railway operating revenues rose 18% to $2.9 billion, primarily due to result of a 14% increase in revenue per unit. The operating ratio improved by 2.1 percentage points to a third-quarter record 67.5%.

“Norfolk Southern produced another outstanding quarter, setting all-time records for income from operations and earnings per share, while also establishing third-quarter records for net income and operating ratio,” said Norfolk Southern President and CEO Wick Moorman. “We continue to see modest improvement in most of our business groups, and we remain focused on the long-term enhancement of our franchise.”

General merchandise revenues were $1.4 billion, 12% higher compared with third-quarter 2010 results. Coal revenues increased 27%, to $899 million, compared with the same period last year. Intermodal revenues were $551 million, 19% higher compared with the third quarter of 2010.

Railway operating expenses for the quarter were $2.0 billion, 14% higher compared with the same period of 2010, primarily due to increased fuel expenses, which rose by $126 million, and compensation and benefits costs.

Income from railway operations climbed 26% to an all-time record $938 million compared with the same period last year.

Thursday, 27 October 2011 06:32

American Railcar backlog at three-year high

American Railcar Industries reported Wednesday that its backlog swelled to approximately 7,110 cars as of Sept. 30, the largest since June 2008. The backlog includes approximately 1,700 cars for lease. The company had a backlog of approximately 1,050 cars on Dec. 31, 2010. Third-quarter 2011 shipments were approximately 1,340 cars compared with approximately 420 forthe same period in 2010.

american_railcar_logo.jpgTotal revenue for the third quarter was $125.8 million compared with $64.8 million for the third quarter of 2010. Net earnings per share were $0.19 compared to a net loss per share of $(0.29) for the prior-year period. Gross profit was $15.0 million for the third quarter of 2011 compared with $2.3 million for the same period in 2010.

Adjusted EBITDA was $12.2 million for the third quarter of 2011, compared with $1.5 million for the same period in 2010.

James Cowan, president and CEO of ARI, said in a statement: “Our orders of over 9,100 railcars during the first nine months of 2011 have given us our largest backlog since June 2008. Revenues, railcar shipments, and gross profit have increased in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the second quarter of 2011 and the third quarter of 2010. We have continued to ramp up production to meet customer demand with approximately 1,340 deliveries for the third quarter. Our railcar services segment also reported strong results, with gross profit margin at 27% on revenues of $17.2 million for the third quarter of 2011.”
Thursday, 27 October 2011 06:34

GWI

The Association of American Railroads Wednesday awarded its 2011 Professional Environmental Excellence Award to Genesee & Wyoming (GWI) Vice President for Motive Power David Powell.

aar_logo.jpgBased in Jacksonville, Fla., Powell has 19 years of environmental experience all within the rail industry. The award, the first ever awarded to an employee of a short line and regional railroad, was presented at the annual Railroad Environmental Conference at University of Illinois, Urbana.

“Environmental excellence is a trademark of the railroad industry thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of exceptional employees like the ones we are honoring here today,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “David Powell is a wonderful example for all rail employees in his dedication to Genesee & Wyoming and the industry’s overall progress in achieving environmental excellence.” gwi_logo.jpg
Powell was recognized in part for focusing on making improvements in the locomotive area that would reap benefits on the environmental front. Powell created an Environmental Team at GWI consisting of someone from each of the company’s regions and brought in industry experts to heighten awareness and increase training. He also set up field environmental assessments at operational locations where deficiencies were found and quickly rectified.

Powell also launched the process by which GWI acquired its first GenSet locomotives, and developed a program where Standard Environmental Procedures have been identified across areas that have the potential to impact the environment. He was also the force behind GWI’s entry into the EPA SmartWay Program in 2007.
Thursday, 27 October 2011 07:56

Bombardier wins Switzerland's Tell Award

Bombardier announced Thursday that it has received the Tell Award for the most significant technology project in Switzerland in recognition of its development for the company’s TWINDEXX Swiss Express intercity trains and its MITRAC propulsion and control system. The award is named for the folk hero William Tell.

Switzerland’s Ambassador to the United States, Manuel Sager, presented the award to Alfred Ruckstuhl, president, Board of Directors, Bombardier Transportation (Switzerland) Ltd., in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

bombardier_logo.jpgBombardier is the largest Canadian investor in Switzerland and is among its top 20 technology companies, employing 900 people in Zurich, Villeneuve, and Winterthur. In June 2010, SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) placed the largest vehicle order in its history with Bombardier for 59 TWINDEXX double-deck intercity trains, including options for more than 100 additional TWINDEXX trains.

“This coveted Tell Award for innovation recognizes Bombardier’s investment in rail technologies of the future,” said Stephane Wettstein, chief dountry representative in Switzerland for Bombardier Transportation. “Our TWINDEXX double-deck trains and MITRAC propulsion and control system form the backbone of future intercity travel on the Swiss Railways. At a time when economically sustainable and environmentally responsible transport solutions are at the fore of global investment thinking, Bombardier Transportation is leading the way as a rail technology innovator.”
Thursday, 27 October 2011 10:32

11 charged in LIRR disability fraud case

U.S. prosecutors Thursday charged 11 people, including former Long Island Rail Road employees, with an alleged $1 billion fraud involving hundreds of railroad workers filing false disability claims.

The fraud reportedly also involved doctors, who assisted LIRR employees filing disability claims shortly before they retired. The move allowed those filing to claim disability pay on top of their retirement pension, prosecutors said. In filing the claims, the railway workers allegedly paid up to $1,200 to hire one of several disability doctors.

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said the scheme cost the RailroadRetirement Board more than $1 billion. The investigation developed after aseries of reports by The New York Times starting in 2008. The Times said that almost every longtime LIRR employee was receiving disability payments, resulting in a disability rate sharply higher than other regional passenger railroads, including sister railroad Metro-North.

Between 2004 and 2008, 61% of the 1,423 LIRR workers who retired and began receiving some form of Railroad Retirement Board benefits were between 50 and 55 years old, prosecutors said. By comparison, only 7% of 61 people who retired from the MTA-controlled Metro-North commuter railroad and started receiving benefits were between 50 and 55 years old during that period, prosecutors said.

Friday, 28 October 2011 06:55

Bidding begins for Tucson streetcar project

Tucson, Ariz., officials on Friday said contractors can start bidding today on the city streetcar construction project. Bids are due by the end of the month, and the city may select a contractor as early as next month.

The design phase of the $197 million project has been completed, with some construction work along the rail line already under way.

Tucson is targeting revenue operation to begin in 2013, with United Streetcar LLC providing seven cars for the 3.9-mile line.
Progress Rail Services Corp., a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., announced that less than 10 months after construction began, its new locomotive assembly facility at Muncie, Ind., has already completed its first diesel-electric units. The company announced the “grand opening” of the Muncie shop on Friday.

progress_rail_services_cat_logo.jpgFrom the outset, the project has been on a fast track. Progress Rail announced the site selection in October of 2010 and began construction in January of this year.

“The Muncie facility is the first locomotive assembly plant to open in the United States in many years, and is the latest milestone to mark Progress Rail’s strategic approach to compete and win in the global railway industry,” said the company.

“This is the type of responsiveness our customers have come to expect from Progress Rail,” said Billy Ainsworth, president and CEO of Progress Rail. “Through its Progress Rail subsidiary, Caterpillar has proven its commitment to the rail and transit industries and since 2006 has invested more than $2 billion to meet our customers’ growing needs.”
U.S. freight carload traffic fell 0.5% during the week ending Oct. 22, 2011, measured against the comparable week of 2010, the Association of American Railroads said. But U.S. intermodal volume rose 4.2% for the week compared with a year ago.

aar_logo.jpgAAR said 10 of its 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2010, including: nonmetallic minerals, up 22.4%; iron and steel scrap, up 20.9%, and metals and products, up 19.2%. Groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included: grain, down 25.6%, and coke, down 11.5%.

Canadian freight carload volume, by contrast, rose 7.0% for the week compared with the same week last year, and with Canadian intermodal also up, advancing 1.6%. Mexican freight carload volume rose 4.1% compared with the same week last year, but intermodal fell 1.1%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 42 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 2.0% compared with the same period in 2010, while combined intermodal outpaced the 2010 level by 5.1%.

A Halloween feel was in place early Monday morning at New Jersey Transit’s Hoboken Terminal, with the venerable terminal’s concourse eerily deserted on a weekday due to service disruptions on much of NJT’s Hoboken Division following the weekend snowstorm.

njt_logo.jpgService on NJT’s Morris/Essex Line, Gladstone Branch, and Montclair/Boonton Line was expected to resume Tuesday, as NJ Transit crews continued work to remove downed trees obstructing right-of-way, and also to restring overhead wire on NJT’s electrified territory.

Heavy, wet snow, alternating with rain, affected New York City suburbs most heavily due in large measure to accumulation on trees that had not yet shed their leaves this autumn. Both official and anecdotal reports cited the resultant damage as more severe, at times, than similar damage caused by Hurricane Irene late last August.

Though also heavily impacted by snow during the weekend, Metro-North Railroad Monday morning said it had resumed regular service on Upper Harlem Line between Southeast and North White Plains to Grand Central, though bus service was still in place for “Wassaic Branch” of the Upper Harlem Line.

Metro-North’s Danbury Branch also was in service Monday morning, but buses were being used on the railroad’s Danbury and Waterbury Branch services.Some service on the Port Jervis Line, still being repaired from flood damage caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, also was back in operation Monday, though the bus shuttle linking the severed rail service portions were suspended “due to hazardous road conditions.”

All Long Island Rail Road lines were offering normal service Monday morning.
Monday, 31 October 2011 04:30

Activist hedge fund invests in CP

Pershing Square Capital Management, an activist hedge fund, reportedly has compiled a stake in Canadian Pacific Railway exceeding 12%.

In a regulatory filing, New York-based Pershing Square said CP Rail shares are undervalued and an attractive investment, and that it expected “to engage in discussions” with the company about a wide swath of its business.

Shares of CP rose 6.8% Friday after the filing was disclosed, and were up an additional 2.3% early Monday morning in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The move appears superficially similar to an effort during 2007 and 2008 by London-based The Children’s Investment Fund to acquire a significant portion of stock in CSX Corp., resulting in the placement of Fund representatives on the CSX Board of Directors. 

CP had no official comment, though it did issue this response to questions from its employees: “While we have an active dialogue with many of our investors, our practice is not to comment on those discussions.  As you may be aware, in a regulatory filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Pershing Square Capital Management advised it had acquired 20.6 million shares of Canadian Pacific. As with others, CP is open to the views of its shareholders. We will speak with Pershing Square to hear their input into our plan, already targeted at realizing greater efficiency and improved service reliability. As we've been discussing for the past few quarters, especially heading into winter, it is important that each of you to continue focusing on strong performance on the Integrated Operating Plan, meeting our customer needs, and ensuring the safe operation of the railway.” 

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One rail industry observer offered this observation: “I saw the new movie ‘Margin Call’ over the weekend -- it's a superb film and I recommend it highly. One of the points made by Jeremy Irons, who plays the head of the failing firm, is that they just buy and sell numbers on Wall Street and there is no emotion in it. Following yesterday morning's collapse of (former U.S. Senator, New Jersey Goverrnor, and Goldman Sachs executive) John Corzine's MF Global, I am reminded that these guys frequently don't even know nor care what business the companies they buy are in.  Pershing Square head William Ackman (pictured) has been known to start these things and then bail as soon as the stock price gives him close to the profit he sought. He'll never be caught trying to run CP; to him it's just paper and a line on a map.”

 

  

Monday, 31 October 2011 07:31

PATH marks completion of 340-car order

PATH officials Monday hosted a ceremonial ride employing the final seven PA-5 rapid transit cars of a 340-car delivered by Kawasaki Rail Car Corp. to the bistate agency. The cars replace earlier equipment in service since the 1980s, with some gear dating back to the 1960s, officials said.

panynj-new.jpgAfter traveling from Journal Square Station in Jersey City to Hoboken, N.J., a brief press conference took place. Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of PATH’s parent, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, reaffirmed PATH as “a vital and critical link for transportation and economic development in New York and New Jersey,” which now carries 267,000 riders per weekday, or about 74 million riders per year.

Baroni praised PATH General Manager Mike DePallo for overseeing the $499 million car order and the overall modernization of PATH infrastructure, which includes $400 million in signaling upgrades. DePallo told Railway Age implementation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) indeed was next on PATH’s priority list.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer called PATH “a lifeline to our community,” noting that 56% of city residents used public transit, with most of those including PATH as part of their travel.

PATH still awaits fulfillment of an add-on order of 10 PA-5 cars from Kawasaki, made by the PA in late 2010.

Monday, 31 October 2011 07:38

CSX offers iPhone app to customers

CSX on Monday announced the release of a new iPhone application, ShipCSX, that allows customers to track freight shipments and trains across the CSX network. It also provides specifications of rail cars such as equipment dimensions and weights.

csx_logo.jpg.jpg“The ShipCSX application makes planning and tracing shipments easier than ever, enabling customers to better plan for the arrival of scheduled shipments,” said Eddie Chesser, director e-business CSX. “Designed with our supply chain and logistics-conscious consumers in mind, this application continues our commitment to make rail the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to move freight.”

Customers can retrieve up-to-date information about their shipments, including estimated times of arrivals and movement history.

CSX said application is available for free through the iTunes store, and currently works on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices, with more options soon. “CSX is working to add more functionality to the app, as well as an Android-compatible version,” said Steve Watkins, director of technology applications, CSX.
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 03:10

GWI 3Q earnings rise

Genesee & Wyoming Inc. on Tuesday reported third-quarter net income of $32.9 million, compared with net income of $24.8 million in the third quarter of 2010. GWI recorded diluted earnings per share of 77 cents in the quarter, compared with 59 cents diluted earnings per share in the comparable 2010 quarter.

gwi_logo.jpgGWI President and CEO Jack Hellman said, “Our business continues to perform well, as third-quarter operating revenues increased 39% to $217 million and third-quarter operating income increased 46% to $56 million, both company records. Our operating ratio was 74.0% in North America and Europe, another company record, and our operating ratio in Australia was 74.7%.”

“We remain pleased with the performance of our recent acquisitions and investments,” Hellman said. “In the United States, the first month of operations of the Arizona Eastern Railway was in-line with our acquisition plan. In Canada, we are experiencing additional growth in iron ore shipments under our new contracts in the Labrador Trough. In Australia, shipments on the Alice Springs to Darwin rail line are strong and we expect that the recently completed acquisition of iron ore assets of WPG Resources by OneSteel will drive a significant increase in our iron ore traffic in South Australia starting in 2012. “
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 06:31

Melaniphy assumes top APTA post

Michael P. Melaniphy on Tuesday assumed his duties as president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association, APTA said. Melaniphy succeeds William Millar, who retired on Oct. 31 after serving 15 years as APTA president. Melaniphy was unanimously approved by the APTA Board of Directors in July.

apta_logo.jpg“It is an honor and privilege to lead APTA,” said Melaniphy. “Public transportation is essential to our country’s prosperity and economic competitiveness. I will work with industry leaders and elected officials to expand public transportation so that quality travel choices are available and good, American jobs are created.”

APTA Chair Gary C. Thomas, who is president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), said, “Michael Melaniphy has a proven track record in public transportation with broad-based experience in both the public and private sectors. He has the vision and leadership to ensure that public transportation continues to play an important role in the economic vitality of our country.”

Prior to APTA, Melaniphy was the vice president Public Sector for bus manufacturer Motor Coach Industries, Inc., of Schaumburg¸ Ill. He also led public transit systems in Charlotte, N.C., Wichita, Kan., Hamilton, Ohio, and Laredo, Tex.
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