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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Monday, 28 November 2011 10:10

Metro-North Port Jervis Line is restored

MTA Metro-North Railroad said Monday it had restored “full train service” on its Port Jervis Line, severed by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene last August. “We have returned to a full schedule of 26 daily trains and 14 trains each weekend day, as indicated in the new November 28 timetable,” Metro-North said on its website.

Monday, 28 November 2011 11:16

RMI touts new rail operations software

Atlanta-based RMI announced the addition of Transload Management andDemurrage Management to its ShipperConnect software platform at the 2011IANA-NITL Conference held recently in Atlanta.

rmi_logo_jpg_small.jpg“We were delighted with the response to our newest ShipperConnectofferings,” said Paul Pascutti, vice president of sales at RMI. “Ourexisting shipper customers and new prospects have confirmed the need forrail operations software to help manage inventory, transload operations, anddemurrage and detention charges.”

ShipperConnect Transload Management is designed for use by terminaloperators to manage, control, and process inventory at transload facilities.ShipperConnect Demurrage Management software manages and calculates rail cardemurrage, detention, and storage charges and monitors and captures railroadevents that trigger demurrage liability.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 06:53

Ansaldo signs $1.3B Honolulu contract

Ansaldo on Tuesday announced that its Honolulu Joint Venture, a consortium comprising Finmeccanica companies Ansaldo STS and AnsaldoBreda, has signed a contract with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to supply the technology and vehicles for the driverless metro line being advanced in Honolulu.

ansaldo_sts_logo.jpgAnsaldo says the $1.334 billion contract includes the design, construction (or “build”), operation and maintenance (DBOM) of the 20-mile line, which includes 21 stations. Ansaldo STS’ share of the deal comes to about $1.136 billion; AnsaldoBreda’s share is $198 million.

Design and construction work is scheduled to take eight years, with the firststretch of track being operated and maintained beginning in 2015 and the wholeline from 2019 to 2029.

ansaldobreda_logo.jpg“Ansaldo STS is proud to have signed this important contract, whose value is thehighest in our history. Our company has a proven tradition of delivering highlysuccessful state-of-the-art rail systems around the world and we are fully ready toimmediately get to work to honor our commitment,” said Sergio De Luca, CEO ofAnsaldo STS.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 07:03

Canadian Pacific sells $500 million in debt

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. announced Tuesday that that subsidiary Canadian Pacific Railway Co. is issuing: US$250 million of 4.50% Notes due 2022 and US$250 million of 5.75% Notes due 2042. The transaction is expected to close on Dec.1.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 07:14

Metro-North set to open new station

MTA Metro-North Railroad will begin service to the new Fairfield Metro Station on Monday, Dec. 5. Located midway between the Fairfield and Bridgeport stations, Fairfield Metro has 1,400 parking spaces.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 16:50

BLET, ATDA say no to cooling off period

The nation’s freight railroads have reached settlements with 10 of the 13 major rail unions covering more than 60% of 132,000 employees in the current round of bargaining, but a potential strike is still looming.

The National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents more than 30 railroads, among them the five U.S.-based Class I’s—BNSF, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific—in national bargaining with the 13 unions, reported late Tuesday that the railroads have not reached agreements with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association to extend the current “cooling off” period, which ends Dec. 6. The railroads’ proposed extension, which a third union, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, accepted, was contingent upon the acceptance by all three unions. Absent an extension of the cooling off period or tentative settlement agreements, these unions and the railroads will be free under the Railway Labor Act to exercise “self-help” at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 6.

“The railroads have made and will continue to make every effort to reach agreements with the remaining three unions,” said NCCC Chairman A. Kenneth Gradia. “During the busiest shipping and travel period of the year, a nationwide disruption of rail service would deal a crushing blow to our nation’s economy, potentially costing our country $2 billion a day. The Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Obama to help avert such an outcome made recommendations for the resolution of these disputes. The railroads, and eight other unions, have agreed to implement these settlement terms, which reflect the Board’s careful consideration of both sides’ arguments. We urge the remaining unions to reach agreements with the railroads before December 6.”

According to the Capitol Hill news service The Hill, Congress is considering intervening in a potential strike. 

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday “if a group of unions representing parts of the freight rail industry could not reach a labor agreement before a Dec. 6 deadline, they would step to prevent the unions from going on strike.

 ‘While our hope is that the parties involved will find common ground and resolve the situation without congressional involvement, the House is prepared to take legislative action in the days ahead to avert a job-destroying shutdown of our nation’s railroads, in the event such legislation proves necessary,’ they said. ‘A shutdown of our nation’s railways, which would harm our economy and endanger many American jobs, is unacceptable. We are confident President Obama and the leaders of the Senate agree.’”

In a letter to Congress, Matthew Shay, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation, said, “For retailers, a strike during the busy holiday shopping season could be devastating. It is imperative that Congress recognize the severe economic harm threatened by the failure to reach agreement with the remaining rail unions and move quickly to prevent a rail strike that would prove devastating to both businesses and consumers.”

The nation’s largest rail union, the United Transportation Union, is not part of the current round of negotiations. It reached an agreement with the carriers independently several weeks ago.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 03:02

TriMet starts work on MAX solar project

TriMet on Tuesday began installing solar panels at the South Terminus of the MAX Green and Yellow lines at SW Jackson Street, near Portland State University (Ore). The agency says that, when completed, the site will be the first solar energy project utilized along TriMet's 52-mile MAX light rail system.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 03:07

Boggs joins Birmingham Rail & Locomotive

Birmingham Rail & Locomotive Co., Inc. (BR&L) on Tuesday said it had named Brent F. Boggs director of Relay Operations. Boggs will lead business development within the relay rail and OTM markets with an emphasis on expanding procurement and distribution throughout North America.

Boggs brings 13 years of experience in the relay rail, OTM, and track work department of Unitrac Railroad Materials, Inc.

Birmingham, Ala.-based BR&L manufactures 5/8” x 6” track spikes for Class I, regional, and short line Railroads as well as for contractors. The company says it plans to expand more prominently into the relay industry, with Boggs leading the effort.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 07:35

Watco to control Wisconsin & Southern

Pittsburgh, Kan.-based Watco Transportation Services, LLC has announced it is acquiring what it calls “controlling ownership” of Milwaukee-based Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. (WSOR). Watco’s acquisition adds Wisconsin’s second-largest railroad to it stable of short line and regional properties.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 09:18

Va. advocates push another Amtrak extension

Buoyed by recent state-supported extensions of Amtrak service that have proven popular, state rail advocates are clamoring for Amtrak service to be extended to Virginia’s southwestern reaches, including Roanoke, Va., last served by Amtrak’s Hilltopper in 1979.

Thursday, 01 December 2011 06:36

MBTA weighs rail service operating options

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has begun pondering its next contract for operations of its regional (“commuter”) services in the Bay State and neighboring Rhode Island, estimated to be worth $300 million per year.

mbta_logo2.jpgMBTA’s current contract with Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Co. (MBCR) does not expire until June 2013, but MBTA officials reportedly are considering whether the agency should operate the trains itself, instead of outsourcing through a contractual arrangement.

If MBTA opts to continue contracting out services, it then might re-evaluate its current standard of offering multiple-year deals or agree to a contract spanning more than a decade.

In 2003 MBTA awarded a five-year contract to MBCR and later agreed to a five-year extension which runs to 2013. MBTA had contracted with Amtrak to run its services for 16 years prior to 2013.

The agency has hired KPMG to review other commuter rail arrangements nationally and internationally and evaluate the merits of short- and long-term deals.
Thursday, 01 December 2011 07:51

AAR: U.S. freight traffic keeps climbing

U.S. freight carload traffic rose 4.0% in the week ending Nov. 26, 2011, measured against the comparable week in 2010, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. U.S. intermodal volume for the week almost matched that percentage gain, up 3.7% compared with the same week last year.

aar_logo.jpgAAR said 10 of the 20 carload commodity groups it measures posted increases compared with the same week in 2010, including: motor vehicles and equipment, up 42%; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 30.3%; and petroleum products, up 28.4%. Groups registering significant decreases in weekly traffic included farm products excluding grain, down 18.1%, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 10.8%.

Canadian freight carload traffic did even better, up 10.6% compared with the same week last year, while intermodal rose 5.7% in the week ending Nov. 26. Mexican freight carload volume, by contrast, declined 11.6% compared with the same week last year, though Mexican intermodal advanced 3.7%.

Combined North American freight carload volume for the first 47 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 2.1% measured against the comparable period in 2010, while combined intermodal rose 5.0%.
Thursday, 01 December 2011 08:33

CP expands reach in Iowa via short line

Canadian Pacific has executed a trackage rights agreement with the Iowa Northern Railway that it says “expands CP’s market reach in Iowa and increases rail business options for customers’ agricultural commodities via CP anad IANR track.” The agreement provides Iowa Northern rights to operate over CP’s line between Garner, Iowa, and Nora Springs, Iowa.

Represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, the major U.S. railroads late Thursday reached tentative agreements with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association, which together represent about 26,500 employees in collective bargaining. The last remaining union without a settlement, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE), agreed with the railroads to extend the “cooling off” period until Feb. 8, 2012, eliminating the immediate threat of a national rail strike, which could have occurred as soon as Dec. 6.

Bloomfield, N.J.-based Atlantic Track and Turnout Co. said Monday it is acquiring Memphis-based Conley Frog and Switch movable bridge patterns and patent rights, which involve “rail arrangements for vertical, swing, and draw-type bridges.”

Atlantic Track says with the purchase of certain inventory, patterns, and patent rights, the acquisition will expand Atlantic Track’s range of bridge products to include: an all-rail design expansion joint for CWR installation; Conley-design two- and three-piece manganese joints for movable bridges; and easier rail arrangements for both vertical lift and swing-type bridges. The purchase also expands Atlantic’s range of products for use in track scales.

Atlantic Track manufactures special trackwork at its plants in Memphis, Richmond, Ill., St. Clair, Pa., and Clyo, Ga.

Several moving bridges are located in northern New Jersey exist close to Atlantic Track’s headquarters, operated by various rail entities including Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and PATH.
Monday, 05 December 2011 05:52

TriMet chooses manager for LRT project

Portland, Ore.-based TriMet says it has selected CH2M Hill provide on-call construction management services for the Portland to Milwaukie light rail transit extension project. The 7.3-mile, $1.4 billion project will connect Portland State University in downtown Portland with southeast Portland, Milwaukie, and north Clackamas County.

trimet_logo_2009.jpgEnglewood, Colo.-based CH2M Hill will provide construction, procurement and management, and risk analysis and management services, TriMet says. The company will also review construction proposals, conduct change order analysis, provide quality assurance and quality control, and lead safety and field inspections.
Monday, 05 December 2011 06:44

AECOM names global rail and transit director

Los Angeles-based AECOM Technology Corp. announced Monday that Keith Hampson has joined the company as global transit and rail director for its transportation business.

aecom_logo.jpgBefore joining AECOM, Hampson was executive director of rail and aviation for Halcrow Group. Before that, he was general manager and director for Balfour Beatty Rail Projects Ltd.

AECOM noted that in more than 20 years with the rail industry, Hampson has developed rail projects around the world, including major initiatives in the United Kingdom, South America, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East.

Hampson succeeds Jerry Premo, executive vice president and global transit and rail director for AECOM’s transportation practice, who will assume ahalf-time role in January 2012. Premo has been with AECOM for 22 years and has led the extensive growth of its transit and rail operations. AECOM said Premo will continue to focus on client service, industry engagement, and human capital development for the company and its clients.
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 06:32

Patriot Rail names David Rohal VP

Patriot Rail Corp., which owns and operates 12 short line railroads, announced the appointment of David J. Rohal to its management team as vice president, reporting to Chairman, President, and CEO Gary O. Marino.

Tuesday, 06 December 2011 07:16

APTA: Transit tax benefit disparity looms

Americans who ride public transportation will face increased commuting costs if Congress does not act to extend the transit commuter benefit by the end of the year, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the American Public Transportation Association.

apta_logo.jpgAPTA said the move would “create a disparity in the federal tax code in favor of the car driver.” A failure to extend a transit benefit also “will hit the very workers who may need it the most,” APTA said, noting 70% of those who are transit reliant have household incomes from $15,000 to $99,000 a year, according to APTA’s latest demographic survey of riders.

“Unless Congress acts, there will be a financial bias in the federal tax code against public transit use,” said APTA President Michael P. Melaniphy. “We are seeking to maintain parity with the parking benefit to ensure that there isn’t a disincentive to take public transportation.”

Legislation to temporarily establish parity between parking and transit/vanpool benefits at $230 per month per commuter was extended under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act through 2011. However, APTA said, the transit/vanpool portion of the benefit will revert to $125 per month when the provision expires at the end of the year while the parking benefit increases to $240.

APTA is calling on Congress to act now to permanently extend the maximum transit commuter tax benefit to the level equal to the parking tax benefit.

“If the transit commuter benefit is allowed to expire, it will serve as a tax increase on transit riders and their employers,” said Melaniphy. It will amount to allowing payroll taxes to increase on both employees and the employers who offer the benefits. People should have reasonable transportation choices and federal tax law should maintain a level playing field for those choices.”

In the long term, APTA is urging transit riders to urge support of Rep. Jim McGovern’s (D-Mass.) legislation in the House of Representatives, paired with a similar Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), to permanently extend parity for this benefit.
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 10:23

CP focuses on locomotive fleet productivity

Canadian Pacific on Tuesday announced that 61 new high horsepower GE Evolution (EVO) Series AC locomotives have been brought into service and that CP has initiated a program to modernize its low and medium horsepower yard locomotives.

cp_logo_2009.jpgThe new EVO locomotives, which are currently in transcontinental service on priority series trains, will increase capacity, enhance service reliability, further the company’s long train strategy, reduce emissions, and contribute to the company's 1%-to-2% annual fuel efficiency improvement target.

CP also said it expects delivery of an additional 30 EVO locomotives in the firstquarter of 2012.

Through Progress Rail Services’ Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) subsidiary, CP will also begin to modernize a portion of its low and medium horsepower locomotive fleet. The remanufacture of these locomotives, which will beginin 2012 and take place over the next several years, supports yard fluidity and yard dwell reduction goals, and reduces fuel consumption and ongoing maintenance costs.

Refreshing its locomotive fleet to reduce costs, capture efficiencies, and create capacity for growth is a key element in CP's plan to position thefranchise to achieve an annual operating ratio in the low 70s in the next three to four years.
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