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, 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.” 


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.
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 06:44

EPA: Freight car backlog

In spite of a struggling economy, “the railcar market continues to astonish on the upside,” Economic Planning Associates says in its latest quarterly report. “Third quarter orders of 20,165 units far outpaced deliveries of 12,519 cars, bringing end of September backlogs to 65,044, significantly higher than opening year backlogs of 22,658 cars. Thus, even with the acceleration in third quarter production, existing backlogs still represent 5.2 quarters of deliveries. As a result, carbuilders will begin the fourth quarter with a formidable level of cars in their backlogs.”


Based on current backlogs and anticipated further gains in demand for a variety of railcars, EPA is projecting assemblies of 40,400 cars this year, followed by an increase to 51,300 units next year. Longer term, EPA is projecting an acceleration in railcar demand that will take deliveries from 54,300 units in 2013 to 63,500 units in 2016.

“A closer inspection of the third-quarter orders indicates that railcar demand was broad based, with significant strength in tank cars and small cube covered hoppers,” EPA said. “Mid-sized covered hoppers, coal cars, and intermodal platforms also recorded good levels of orders. Mill gons are beginning to respond to growth in industrial production and steel mill shipments. Third-quarter orders for 460 mill gons brought end-of-September backlogs to 2,050 cars.

“And, we believe that orders during the next year or so will continue to advance, albeit at a more moderate pace. Replacement pressures have intensified among a number of car types such as boxcars and various covered hoppers. At the same time, the shift to aluminum bodied coal cars will stimulate demand while strict regulation of hazardous materials being transported on tank cars will boost demand for newer pressurized tank cars. The generous depreciation provisions of the tax code in place this year will also facilitate the decision to purchase new equipment. In addition, the railroads will also provide support to new equipment demand during the foreseeable future.

“In spite of a weakening economy which has softened both commodity and intermodal haulings in the third quarter, railroads continued to score impressive financial gains. The roads are attributing record quarterly levels of revenues and profits based on some modest volume growth, increased revenue per unit, and operating efficiencies. UP reported that third quarter operating revenues climbed 1.6% to an all-time quarterly record $5.1 billion and operating income rose 13% to a record $1.6 billion. Each of UP’s six business groups registered freight revenue growth and four of them posted volume gains. Likewise, CSX saw operating income rise 6% to an all-time high $878 million while net earnings rose 12% to a record $464 million. Due to price increases, KCS also reported strong third quarter financial results.

“In spite of the slowing in traffic, the roads continue to invest in locomotives, facilities, and rolling stock. In recent months, ambitious efforts are underway to expand and improve intermodal services.

“The domestic coal situation has not changed much since our last report. At mid-year, electricity generation was running only 0.3% above the 2010 pace. And, with the Federal government continuing to increase regulations concerning the mining and burning of coal, consumption through June of this year was 4.8% below the comparable period of last year.

“At the same time, utilities continue to draw down their coal inventories. As of June, inventories amounted to 166.0 million tons, far below the 181.1 million tons on hand in June 2010. While the draw down could be justified by lower burn rates, any rebound in electricity generation and coal consumption would boost inventories in the future. Exports continue to expand at a strong pace. In addition to Asia, exports to Europe are advancing at a healthy clip. And, a senior Chinese official with the China Coal Industry Association stated on September 15 that China may soon lower value added tax and port charges to encourage coal imports which are sorely needed for China’s expanding economy. The official went on to say that China will import some 150 million metric tons this year, followed by annual increases in both 2012 and 2013.

“Longer term, foreign demand for our coal will intensify as steel producers in Asia and South American continue to drive demand for metallurgical coal while Japanese and European countries look to move away from nuclear to coal fired facilities for power generation.

“Longer term, we remain constructive on the outlook for coal demand and rail movements, especially as the Administration and the Department of Energy recognize the need to ease the onerous burden of EPA regulations. We expect further major investments by the western roads as coal traffic expands not only for domestic consumption by electric utilities but also for the export markets. With the continued revival in coal exports straining capacity in the east, we also expect investments in eastern facilities and equipment.

“The housing and construction markets should stabilize as we proceed through the year while a modest annual advance in light vehicles demand and production will induce growth in movements of motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing activities will continue expanding, albeit, at a more moderate pace, leading to greater movements of metals, ores, fabricated products, and a variety of chemical and petroleum products. Export markets for corn and wheat are at high levels while domestic use of corn (including ethanol production) is expanding.

“The covered hopper market remains vibrant. Stronger production of ethanol from corn as well as a rebound in chemicals and plastics activities is stimulating demand for hi-cube equipment while increased export volumes and greater domestic grain consumption bolster demand for midsized cars. Sharply higher energy prices are stimulating oil and gas exploratory activities and a large number of the small cube cars are destined to oil and gas field service companies as well as other sectors of construction. Light vehicle sales and production activities are improving and we should eventually see a rebound in demand for auto parts box cars and autorack cars.

“At the same time, interest in mill gons and steel coil cars rebounded in the second quarter. During the first eight months of this year domestic steel shipments were running 8.0% above the comparable period of last year while steel mill product imports through August were 20.8% ahead of last year’s first half.

“The fact that the major roads continue to report strong revenue and profit performances in spite of sluggish traffic growth also will benefit the rail car industry. We expect the roads to continue to invest in order to accommodate anticipated commodity haulings growth. This will involve expenditures for facilities, power, and rolling stock.

“Longer term, far stronger economic activities will provide support for certain rail car assemblies while an improvement in the financial environment, high gasoline prices, and strong government backing stimulate greater demand for ethanol and DDG cars. Replacement pressures and technological advances as well as legislative measures will also play a role in promoting the demand for a variety of railcars.

“Construction activities are expected to return to higher levels, which should support movements of aggregates and structural steel products. Continued expansion in demand for petroleum products, chemicals, and food and beverages will prop up the haulings of a variety of liquid products and the demand for tank cars.

“Stricter air emission standards will promote the use of lower sulphur western coal, which is also lower BTU value coal, leading to greater volumes of coal traveling longer distances. This in turn, will lead to replacements of older, smaller, steel bodied coal cars with the larger volume aluminum gondolas and hoppers of today and tomorrow. At the same time, eastern coal fleet requirements could stimulate some demand for technologically advanced steel and hybrid coal cars.

“Growing worldwide nutritional needs and expanding exports will pressure the current grain service cars as we proceed through the longer term while long neglected segments such as equipment to haul waste, aggregates, and limestone show signs of revival and should add to the railcar delivery mix in the years to come.

Tuesday, 01 November 2011 09:15

Amtrak revamps NEC business approach

Amtrak Tuesday said it was merging its planning and development efforts involving its existing Northeast Corridor with its proposed new dedicated 220 mph high speed rail plans for the NEC and elsewhere.

amtrak_logo.jpgAmtrak’s “new Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Investment Development business line … will bring together all Amtrak funding, policy, and planning decisions regarding NEC improvements and ensure that the continued development of high-speed rail is a critical element of Amtrak’s plans for the Corridor,” the company said.

“The NEC is Amtrak’s premier asset and expanding high-speed rail service is essential to maximizing its success,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “The NEC requires more capacity, greater connectivity and increased operating speeds for all Corridor users. Improving and expanding our high speed rail capabilities is central to achieving those goals.”

As part of the new setup, Amtrak on Tuesday named Stephen Gardner vice president of NEC Infrastructure and Investment Development, effective immediately. Gardner had served as vice president of Policy and Development. As well, Amtrak Vice President of High-Speed Rail Al Engel will leave Amtrak in December to pursue other opportunities, assisting in the transition prior to his departure, Amtrak said.

“Stephen has extensive experience and understanding of the NEC and the needs of its customers, and is keenly aware that improving the NEC for all users and building a 220 mph system will require both public investment and private finance,” said Boardman, reiterating his belief that public/private partnerships will prove crucial to any Amtrak HSR future.

Besides focusing on coordinating, managing and developing Amtrak-owned infrastructure in the Northeast, the new business unit is charged with maximizing financial performance and preparing for future operations involving numerous parties besides Amtrak, such as regional rail tenants and freight railroad service.

By year’s end, Amtrak intends to release an update to its NEC vision plan which integrates planned improvements to the existing Corridor with the proposed development of a next-generation HSR system. The updated report will incorporate the significant advancements in planning and conceptual development that have occurred during the past year with new analysis of the conceptual alignment, ridership, revenue, operations and maintenance costs projections, and capital investment needs.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority Tuesday released a new business plan that it says lays the foundation for an economically viable high speed rail system that will create 100,000 jobs in the next five years, and is expected to generate another 1 million jobs moving forward.

But the business plan for California's HSR system now  is estimated to cost $98.5 billion tolink the Bay Area and Anaheim, adjusted for future inflation anticipated during the next 20 years.


That’s more than the original $44 billion price. The plan, however, also states the system would be profitable even at the lowest ridership estimates and wouldn't require public operating assistance. <br><br>

CHSRA’s new business plan describes a phased approach to construction that will allow the it to adapt to changing financial conditions as it moves forward, segment by segment. The plan also updates cost estimates, ridership figures and funding expectations to reflect current economic realities.

“We have carefully constructed a business plan that is mindful of the economic and budgetary constraints facing both the state and the nation,” said Authority Board Chairman Thomas J. Umberg. “It will deliver to California and Californians a cost-effective, efficient, and sensible alternative to more highways and increased airport congestion.”

Construction will begin next year with a 130-mile segment stretching from just north of Bakersfield to just south of Merced. The funding for this piece, which will serve as the backbone of the system, has already been identified through federal funds and the voter-approved Proposition 1A.

The new business plan is available here on the High-Speed Rail Authority’s website. The public will have 60 days to comment and help shape the final plan, which will be completed and provided to the state legislature in January.


Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:24

Amtrak: Biodiesel trial results encouraging

Amtrak says that it found the use of a renewable biodiesel fuel blend to power its daily Heartland Flyer train “resulted in no more wear on the locomotive than traditional diesel fuels and no reduction in performance or reliability.”



In a research paper presented last week at a railroad environmental conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Amtrak reported that the use of B20 biodiesel (a blend of 20% pure biofuel and 80% diesel oil) also operated below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits for the General Electric P32-8 locomotive used in the test. The locomotive carried an Amtrak decal indicating the use of B20 fuel and other special markings to make certain that only biodiesel fuel was used in the 3,200-hp, 12-cylinder engine built in 1991 and compliant with EPA’s Tier 0 standard.

“The trial design included one year of testing, evaluating the engine and gasket wear, determining the quality of air emissions, and regularly monitoring the quality of the biodiesel fuel,” said Roy Deitchman, Amtrak Vice President, Environmental, Health and Safety. “The results of the trial indicate the in-service locomotive was very reliable with the B20 blend, engine wear was limited, air emissions were below EPA limits for this generation of passenger locomotive, and the biofuel supply met industry standards.”

Amtrak received a $274,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to carry out the research project in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (Okla. DOT) on the Heartland Flyer, a daily train operated by Amtrak with state support from Oklahoma and Texas.

A Texas-based vendor supplied the biodiesel blend, and the trial received support on fuel and engine component evaluation from Chevron Oronite. The engine manufacturer provided input on warranty matters and some of the testing was carried out at the General Electric facility in Erie, Pa.

The trial was included in TIME magazine’s list of “The 50 Best Inventions of 2010” with a cartoon pointing out that the biodiesel blend included beef byproduct. Operating daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, the Heartland Flyer was the first on the list of transportation inventions and only one of TIME's transportation innovations to be publically available.

“Routine use of biodiesel fuel at Amtrak is contingent on many factors, including cost vs. traditional ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and availability,” Deitchman said. “But we found no significant engine performance issues during the trial and we were able to replace nearly 35,000 gallons of diesel with a renewable fuel that was locally produced.”

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 04:46

GWI adds Georgia short line to portfolio

Greenwich, Conn.-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc. on Wednesday announced the formation of a new subsidiary, the Hilton & Albany Railroad, Inc. (HAL), after signing an agreement with Norfolk Southern to lease and operate a 56-mile segment of NS track that runs from Hilton, Ga., to Albany, Ga.

gwi_logo.jpgOperations are expected to begin in January. HAL is expected to handle approximately 12,000 carloads annually, primarily overhead traffic between NS and GWI's Bay Line, Chattahoochee Bay, and Chattahoochee Industrial railroads. HAL also will serve several local agricultural and aggregate customers in southwest Georgia, GWI said.

GWI earlier this week announced its < a href=http://www.railwayage.com/breaking-news/gwi-3q-earnings-rise-3665.html>third-quarter earnings.
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 05:01

Jack L. Hadley, 85

Jack L. Hadley, at one time the owner of the Kiamichi Railroad Co. operating in Oklahoma and Texas, died Oct. 30 at his home in Latrobe, Pa. He was 85.

Hadley was an executive for the railroads of Jones & Laughlin Steel and later LTV Steel before becoming a short line owner in 1987. Within one year, Hadley tripled the number of employees at Hugo, Okla.-based Kiamichi Railroad and was serving 100 businesses along the line, stretching from Medill, Okla., to Paris, Tex. Hadley then acquired the adjoining Chaparral Railroad Co., and also began operating the South Orient Railroad in Texas.

Hadley sold the properties in 1995; the Kiamichi Railroad, which also extends into Arkansas, currently is owned by Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica.

Hadley started his career in labor relations before moving to Jones & Laughlin, where he focused on the company’s rail operations, including the Monongahela Connecting Railroad in Pittsburgh, the Aliquippa and Southern Railroad in Aliquippa, Pa., and the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad in Cleveland.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 05:16

Operation Lifesaver announces four safety grants

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. on Wednesday announced that four transit agencies will receive rail safety education grants as part of its partnership with the Federal Transit Administration.

Transit agencies selected for grants under the Operation Lifesaver/FTA partnership include: Memphis (Tenn.) Area Transit Authority (MATA); Phoenix’s Valley Metro; Portland, Ore.’s Tri-Met; and Salt Lake City’s TRAX.

operation-lifesaver-.jpgOLI President Helen M. Sramek announced the grants in a speech at FTA’s 15th Annual State Safety Oversight meeting in Washington. D.C. “Even as rail transit remains among the safest modes of transportation in the United States, continued growth in ridership heightens the importance of safety education in our communities,” said Sramek. “We are proud to partner with the Federal Transit Administration on these safety grants.”

Sramek also noted that nine transit agencies have incorporated the Operation Lifesaver “Bad Move” rail-pedestrian safety poster campaign into their public education efforts.

“The ‘Bad Move’ PSA targets people aged 16 to 34 with a message that’s intended to reduce pedestrian-train deaths and injuries,” said Sramek. “These transit agencies have joined our ‘Bad Move’ interactive poster campaign, increasing awareness of the dangers of walking on or near train tracks. As our campaign continues to expand, we are extending the ‘Bad Move’ Write Your Own Ending contest through Nov. 9, 2011 in order to make sure everyone who would like can enter.”
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 05:32

Senate offers Gateway Tunnel modest funding

The Senate on Tuesday approved $15 million for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on the railroad’s Gateway Tunnel project, proposed earlier this year to expand capacity on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor under the Hudson River and through a portion of New Jersey.

amtrak_logo.jpgAmtrak had initially requested $50 million for the study, but in a statement tacitly acknowledged that the railroad was fortunate to receive any funding at all, given the pressures to reduce federal spending.

"Today’s announcement also brings us one step closer to Gateway's desired goal—expanding track and station capacity necessary to enable Amtrak's next generation high-speed rail plan and support improved service for thousands of Amtrak and New Jersey Transit passengers traveling between New York and New Jersey each day," Amtrak said in a statement.

Funding support in the House is far from certain, however.

Numerous press reports identify Gateway Tunnel as a “replacement” for Access to the Region’s Core, a decade-plus effort to add tunnels under the Hudson River which was terminated late last year by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But numerous rail advocates in New Jersey, as well as some rail industry officials speaking privately to Railway Age, point out the two projects are in fact quite different in scope and intent.

Interviewed by nj.com, Petra Todorovich, director of America 2050, said: "The way I see it is the ARC tunnel was primarily… regional commuter rail with side benefits for inter-city rail. The Gateway tunnel is more of a project focused on inter-city rail with side benefits for commuter rail."
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 05:59

Rail unit powers L.B. Foster 3Q earnings

L.B. Foster Co. said its third-quarter earnings rose 50% to $9.7 million or 95 cents per share , measured against $6.5 million, or 63 cents per share, in the comparable period one year ago.

Revenue rose 30% to $162.7 million from $125.6 million in the year-ago quarter, the company said Tuesday.

lbfoster.jpgL.B. Foster said its rail and tubular segments reported strong results, while weakness in its construction unit continued. The company’s Portec rail products and rail distribution sales were up 67%; L.B. Foster completed the acquisition of Portec Rail Products last year.But the company expressed concern over the uncertainty of federal transportation funding, which it says will continue to impact its business because it may discourage additional infrastructure spending.

The "lack of progress related to new transportation legislation and steadily decreasing government spending on infrastructure due to weak finances are perpetuating negative headwinds for our construction and transit markets," the company said in a statement. "We expect to continue to experience a highly competitive market environment for the next nine months and we are concerned about the likelihood of a satisfactory resolution of transportation legislation as well as appropriate funding mechanisms for such a bill."
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