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.
TheBoard of Directors also approved a 12 cents per share quarterly dividend on thecompany’s common stock. The dividend is payable on Sept. 15, 2011, toshareholders of record at the close of business on Aug. 31, 2011.
Ottawa’s City Council Thursday unanimously approved a revised C$2.1 billion light rail transit plan for a 12.5-kilometer (7.7-mile) route between Tunney's Pasture and Blair Road via a downtown tunnel along Queen Street. The revised plan focused on keeping the project cost at C$2.1 billion, mostly by adjusting tunnel plans under Queen Street to a shallower depth. City Treasurer Marian Simulik said the city can afford to pay for the project under current plans. Public comment was offered at the meeting prior to the decision, with most speakers offering support for the plan.
Phoenix’s Valley Metro said Thursday it has received a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) from the Federal Transit Administration for the 3.1-mile Central Mesa light rail transit extension. FTA’s approval follows the submittal of the project’s Environmental Assessment, required to understand the extension’s effect on its neighboring environment and qualify for federal fiscal assistance. After more than a year of reviewing potential property, historic preservation, air quality, noise and vibration, hazardous materials and other impact areas, the receipt of the FONSI indicates that no significant environmental effect would occur with the implementation of this project, Valley Metro said. The Central Mesa LRT extension will run on Main St. from the 20-mile LRT line’s current terminus at Sycamore Drive through downtown Mesa to Mesa Drive. It will include four stations and a park-and-ride lot. The project is currently in design. Utility relocation is expected to begin in summer 2012 with the line operational in 2016. “This is another significant step toward implementing the voter-approved extension of light rail, which is so important to not only Mesa, but to the entire metro region,” said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. Unlike some municipalities adjacent to Phoenix, Mesa, east of the Arizona state capital, has been vociferously supportive of LRT. “This is good news that took a lot of hard work and rigorous analysis by METRO working closely with the City of Mesa,” said Metro CEO Steve Banta. “It also allows us to initiate other key areas of work including utility relocation and real estate acquisition discussions.”
Last week Valley Metro unveiled a solar-cooled LRT station facility at its station at Third and Washington streets in Phoenix; the station structure combines solar power with air to cool the stop for passengers using the station.
CN’s new Fuel Management Excellence (FMX) program is providing the railroad with significant increases in fuel efficiency and environmental benefits.
“FMX is a vital part of taking our precision railroading model to the next level,” said Keith Creel, executive vice president and chief operating officer (pictured). “Sophisticated fuel efficiency and monitoring systems will aid our efforts to measure and report reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and the scope of the carbon footprints of CN and our customers. All this is vital as fuel prices remain a challenge and freight customers put greater emphasis on sustainable transportation options. CN is making significant strides in improving the fuel efficiency of its freight train operations, obtaining important sustainability gains, and delivering a cost-effective transportation service through a series of initiatives, including the acquisition of modern locomotives, new technology applications to existing locomotives, enhanced analytic abilities, and employee training.”
CN’s FMX program includes:
• Acquisition of new fuel-efficient locomotives. In 2010 CN purchased 102 new high-horsepower locomotives, as well as 102 second-hand high-horsepower locomotives that are being upgraded. These locomotives are approximately 15% more fuel-efficient than the ones they replace and comply fully with applicable regulatory requirements for reduced locomotive exhaust emissions.
• Installation of Wi-Tronix telemetry systems on high-horsepower locomotives. Wi-Tronix provides real-time information about locomotive and train performance through remote measurement and reporting of data, including precise fuel consumption, to an off-board CN computer system at regular intervals or at request. The technology allows CN to optimize the match of locomotive horsepower to the trailing tonnage of the train by isolating or shutting down locomotives and reducing throttle settings. It continuously scans train operations for the proper application of train handling rules to optimize fuel use, determines when and where fueling is required, and ensures temporarily inactive locomotives are shut down. CN expects to equip up to 1,200 high-horsepower locomotives with locomotive telemetry technology by 2013.
• Trip Optimizer technology from GE Transportation. Trip Optimizer is a train “cruise control” system that follows a pre-determined speed trajectory over a GPS track map to optimize fuel consumption. It minimizes braking by planning miles in advance for speed zone and terrain changes. CN’s Vancouver-Montreal corridor is fully mapped for this technology, and CN is now moving intermodal trains equipped with the technology over key sections of this corridor. By September 2011, CN plans to have intermodal and merchandise trains in the corridor running with Trip Optimizer. CN has 125 locomotives with Trip Optimizer and plans to install this type of technology on up to 400 locomotives by the end of 2013.
• Installation of Auto Engine Start Stop (AESS) technology, which automatically shuts down an idle diesel engine, while keeping the locomotive in the proper operating state to start on demand. CN has more than 600 locomotives with this technology, and plans to apply AESS-type technology on up to 800 more units by 2013.
• Training of train crews and rail traffic controllers. These employees are continually being schooled on best practices, including fuel-efficient train handling techniques, matching power to train tonnage and limiting throttle use, and taking advantage of train pacing opportunities at train meets.
"We are particularly excited about our leading-edge work to set fuel efficiency targets for specific trains by route and to monitor train performance against these goals,” Creel said. “The targets are based on established benchmarks for key fuel consumption variables such as train makeup, locomotives, train handling, route gradients and curvature, and weather. This strategy to produce real-time information by train and by locomotive is truly the next frontier in precision fuel management. CN leads the North American rail industry in fuel efficiency, consuming, overall, 10%t less fuel per gross-ton-mile than the industry average. This has helped CN reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has resulted in the lowest fuel surcharge in the industry, helping our customers save on transportation costs.”
Osaka, Japan-based Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. said Monday it has reached an agreement to buy Pittsburgh-based Standard Steel LLC, a maker of train wheels and axles, for roughly $340 million. Sumitomo Metal Industries will acquire 90% of Standard Steel, with the remaining 10% held by Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corp.
Industry observers note the move is one way to quickly increase Sumitomo’s access to the U.S. market. It is also acknowledged as “the first step in our global expansion in the railway field,” according to Kiyotaka Nogi, senior managing executive officer in charge of Sumitomo Metal’s railway parts business.
“Standard Steel has a very broad customer base in the U.S.” Sumitomo Metal’s train wheel production has mostly targeted high-end needs, such as high speed rail parts, which “is expanding rapidly in the U.S.,” said Nogi. “By 2020, we expect to be supplying almost all the high-end train wheels in the U.S.”
The acquisition also will allow Sumitomo Metal Industries to pursue freight train and urban transit segments, Nogi added.