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.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Wednesday announced that transit providers will be able to compete for a share of $101.4 million in federal funding by proposing innovative projects that create “green” jobs, promote the use of clean fuels, and cut U.S. dependence on oil.
The winning proposals, which can be found here, were chosen from among 274 applications from across the U.S. Bus and Bus Rapid Transit operations are the predominant winners, but some rail-related projects were identified. Among them: A $341,694 grant to the Illinois Department of Transportation to install anti-idling systems to Metra locomotives to reduce emissions and fuel consumption.; $1.2 million to install a geothermal system for the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit Operations and Maintenance and Support Facility in Minneapolis to provide heat, cooling, and hot water for the facility; roughly $2.5 million for New Jersey Transit to install electric rail switch heaters to improve safety and operational efficiency in colder weather; and $4.2 million for Portland, Ore.’s
TriMet to retrofit light rail transit vehicles for on-board energy storage to capture and reutilize braking energy.
The money is being provided competitively through the Federal Transit Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 Sustainability Initiative, which includes funding from two programs: $51.5 million from FTA’s Clean Fuels Grant Program and $49.9 million from FTA’s Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) III Program.
In addition to announcing competitive funds available through the Sustainability Initiative, the FTA Wednesday also issued similar notices for two additional competitive programs: the $750 million State of Good Repair Initiative, which targets U.S. transit agencies' maintenance and repair backlogs, and the $175 million Livability Expansion Initiative, which will fund investments that support the DOT-HUD-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
U.S. railroads reported 225 fatalities to the Federal Railroad Administration in this year’s first four months, an 8.7% increase compared with the corresponding period last year. Trespasser fatalities increased 14% to 130. Highway-rail grade crossing accidents declined 1.2% to 85. There were seven employee fatalities compared with six in the prior-year period. The FRA data show that 737 reporting railroads recorded a total of 3,421 incidents/accidents in January-April 2011, down 8.3% from last year. The number of collisions increased 17.5% to 47, and derailments increased 5.7% to 479. Yard accidents declined 2.8% to 343.
[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the safety figures to the Surface Transportation Board.]
Phoenix Valley Metro on Wednesday began operating a solar-cooled light rail transit stop, located at Third and Washington streets in the state capital. The station structure (pictured below) combines solar power with air to cool the stop for passengers using the station. NRG Thermal LLC, a subsidiary of Phoenix-based NRG Energy Inc., contributed to the installation of the system, which will allow LRT riders to push a button at the station for a dose of air conditioning. NRG is covering all costs of the project and maintenance. The air comes from NRG’s downtown district cooling system, which uses chilled water underground to help cool buildings. Fans at the light rail stop will use solar power to blow the cold air onto riders, operating from May to September each year. The project was timed in part to precede Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, set for July 12 at nearby Chase Field.
Siemens Mobility reportedly is asking Ottawa officials to adjust or alter the city’s domestic content rules so it can rebid on the proposed C$2.1 billion light rail transit project in the Canadian capital. A Siemens consortium was selected by the city to build a project, but the deal fell through when a new municipal government took over in 2006. A lawsuit followed, with the Siemens consortium awarded C$37 million for breach of contract. Siemens says it still seeks the city’s business, but is being thwarted by a 2008 law forcing all Ontario province-funded transit vehicles to contain at least 25% Canadian content, which the company claims gives an unfair edge to competitor Bombardier Transportation. Siemens produces its North American equipment primarily from its Sacramento, Calif.-based plant. A spokeswoman for the provincial transportation ministry said the province had “no plans to change the policy,” but said Siemens and others were welcome to bid on the Ottawa project.
Ottawa on July 4 released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for its LRT project, to run from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Station, as outlined and approved by City Council on May 25. Submissions are expected by September 13, and the city is expected to publish a short list of pre-qualified participants sometime in October. Pre-qualified respondents then will be invited to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP), with the RFP process lasting roughly nine months. The city hopes to sign a final contract by December 2012.
A rare 2011 setback for Bombardier Transportation has prompted the company to plan layoffs for 1,400 workers in Great Britain. Bombardier says it will let go 446 permanent employees and 983 temporary workers at its Derby, England, facility, following its failure to land a contract to build passenger trains for Thameslink, a regional rail line running from Bedford through London to Brighton. A consortium led by rival Siemens AG was awarded a $2.25 billion contract in June to supply 1,200 cars. Britain’s Department for Transport says Siemens will hire about 650 people in Britain to build the trains. Bombardier’s announcement, made Tuesday, has prompted British political interests to voice larger concerns over open market policies within the European Union. Some have suggested France and Germany have adhered to EU rules somewhat haphazardly, sometimes favoring hometown companies during bidding procedures.
Last month Bombardier landed a 354 million pound ($566 million) contract from Transport for London (TfL) to install Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) on London Underground’s Sub-Surface Line (SSL) network. Bombardier also scored in Australia during June, landing a $265 million stake in a $1.1 billion contract with the Queensland state government.