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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Friday, 15 July 2011 05:33

CSX boosts 2011 capex to $2.2 billion

CSX Corp. says it will increase its capital investment for 2011 to $2.2 billion, up from the previously announced $2 billion.

csx_logo.jpg.jpgCSX said Wednesday the increase is consistent with its previously announced intention to reinvest an annual average of 18% of its revenue through 2015. The Class I railroad also reiterated its near-term and long-term financial guidance.

The investment would be primarily targeted toward railcars to meet the growing near- and long-term demand for export coal, the company said.


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.

RailAmerica, Inc., which operates 43 short line and regional railroads in 27 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, reports that it achieved double-digit revenue growth in this year’s first quarter, although freight carloads failed to meet projections.

railamerica.jpgThis news came in an announcement that in the last month of the quarter, June, total freight carloads were down 4.4% from June 2010.

June 2011 carloads included 660 from the acquisition of three railroads in Alabama. On a “same railroad” basis, carloads declined 5.3%. The company said coal traffic reflected declines in shipments to several power plants in the Central region and source shifts at the Indiana Southern Railroad.

Charles Patterson, RailAmerica's chief commercial officer, commented: “Second-quarter carloads came in below our target mainly due to lower coal shipments, which were impacted by sourcing shifts in the Illinois Basin, reduced demand across several utilities, and flooding. Despite lower carloads, we achieved double-digit total revenue growth for the second quarter due to favorable pricing, as well as continued strength in non-freight revenue.”

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.

valley_metro_logo.jpgAfter 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.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., has announced record second-quarter 2011 net earnings of $65.7 million, and a solid performance by its Intermodal segment gets much of the credit.

Total operating revenue was $1.15 billion, compared with $943 million for the second quarter of 2010. The trucking company described the contributions of each of its four operating segments.

jbhunt_logo.jpg“Load growth of 18% in Intermodal (JBI) helped drive a 29% increase in segment revenue. Our Integrated Capacity Solutions (ICS) and Dedicated Contract Services (DCS) segments increased operating revenue by 27% and 16%, respectively, while Truck (JBT) segment revenue rose 4%. Current quarter total operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 14% vs. the comparable quarter 2010,” the company reported.

Operating income totaled $113 million vs. $91 million for the second quarter 2010, with Intermodal accounting for nearly $17 million of the increase, while DCS and ICS combined added $5 million.

Net earnings rose 26% to $65.7 million in the current quarter from $52.1 million in 2010.
Tuesday, 21 June 2011 05:33

AECOM alliance lands Australia contract

AECOM Technology Corp. said Tuesday that the TrackStar Alliance, of which it is a member, has been awarded a US$15 million contract to build transit rail infrastructure in Queensland, Australia, for Queensland Rail.

aecom_logo.jpgLos Angeles-based AECOM said the Richlands-to-Springfield section of the Darra-to-Springfield Rail program, west of Brisbane, has a construction value of US$488 million. The project involves six miles of double track and two stations at Springfield and Springfield Lakes. AECOM will be providing civil and structural design of all road and rail infrastructure on the project, including alignments, drainage, pavements, utilities, bridges, station buildings, and associated urban and landscape design.

“AECOM is very excited to play a key role in this important transportation project,” said John M. Dionisio, AECOM president and chief executive officer. “The new rail line will help reduce congestion and ease the commutes of travelers on Centenary Highway.”

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 05:41

OLI advances Rail Safety Challenge

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. has unveiled the Rail Safety Challenge, a new videogame-style online experience that prepares professional drivers for situations they could face on the road. OLI says the program has been prompted by statistics showing approximately one out of four railroad crossing crashes involve vehicles that require a Commercial Driver License (CDL) to operate.

oli-truk-at-crossing.jpgSafety partners from trucking, state and local law enforcement, and railroad companies have joined the nonprofit safety group in support of the program, a spokeswoman for OLI says.

“Total highway-rail vehicle incidents and crashes involving CDLvehicles increased in 2010 from 2009,” adds Operation Lifesaver Inc. President Helen M. Sramek. “As the leader in highway-rail grade crossing safety education, OLI is pleased to offer trucking companies, independent drivers, and other organizations the opportunity to use this state-of-the-art safety program designed specifically for professional truck drivers.” 

A preview of the Rail Safety for Professional Drivers e-Learning program is available at http://bit.ly/kcFLL5. The e-Learning program was made possible by a grant from the Federal Railroad Administration.
Tuesday, 21 June 2011 06:49

UP names new VP-Continuous Improvement

Union Pacific has named D. Lynn Kelley to succeed Richard R. McGlish as vice president-Continuous Improvement effective July 1, reporting to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Young.

Kelley joins the railroad from Textron Inc., where she served as vice president-Operational Excellence. She will be responsible for Union Pacific’s continuous improvement, industrial engineering, and quality processes.

“Lynn brings process improvement expertise that should create new ways for Union Pacific to deliver safety, service, and efficiency to our operations, which will translate into providing even greater value to our customers,” Young said. “Her breadth of experience gained working in diversified business groups will bring new perspectives to the railroad.”

McGlish, who joined Union Pacific in 2004 from R.R. Donnelly & Sons, is retiring.

“Dick developed a platform and process that spurred continuous improvement across our entire rail network,” Young said. “His focus on process improvement and lean management were critical contributions to Union Pacific’s success.”  
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 05:19

Short line wins

Davis, Calif.-based California Northern Railroad Co.,  serving the Sacramento Valley, said Wednesday it has been honored by Breathe California, an organization dedicated to fighting lung disease and advocating for clean air, with the 2011 Clean Air Champion Business Award. CFNR was recognized for being an industry model by reducing emission and noise along their short line railroad routes.

railamerica.jpg“CFNR is blazing the trail to ‘get smart’ and operate energy-efficient locomotives,” said Kori Titus, CEO of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails. “This railroad’s technological breakthroughs have significantly improved the air of our surrounding communities.”

CFNR, a subsidiary of Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica, says its locomotive fleet has been converted with the addition of six (6) GenSet locomotives, which have helped to reduce emissions by 80% and are expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%. This equals a reduction of up to 860 tons of emissions for each locomotive over a 20-year period. CNFR also says it has earned a Tier 3 non-road emission standard by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“On behalf employees of CFNR, I thank Breathe California for this honor,” said Don Seil, formerly CFNR general manager and now regional vice president of RailAmerica‘s Southeast Region. “We are hopeful that this investment will lead the way in setting an example for other railroads to follow in California and across North America.”
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) on Tuesday told the Surface Transportation Board (STB) that the current rail economic regulatory framework allows freight railroads to sustain billions of dollars in private capital investments in the nation’s rail network each year and support more than 1.2 million jobs throughout the U.S.

hamberger_aar.jpgTestifying at a hearing on freight rail competition regulations, AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger (at left) said today’s rail regulations have created a competitive freight marketplace that encourages private investment in railroads, rather than relying on the federal government to fund the nation’s rail infrastructure.

“Freight railroads today spend more than $20 billion in private funds each year to keep our nation’s rail network the envy of the world and American businesses competitive in the global marketplace,” said Hamberger. “These are private investments made by railroads so that taxpayers don’t have to.”

Hamberger said the STB should maintain and preserve today’s balanced regulatory framework because it has benefitted rail customers and the public alike. “Rail rates are down by 51% since 1981, which means the average shipper can move twice as much freight for the same price as 30 years ago,” he said.

Hamberger also explained that changing the current regulations on rail competition, and forcing the railroads to provide other carriers with access to their networks and property, would make the rail network less efficient and affect service to customers. “Railroads know best how to operate their networks efficiently to best serve their customers,” he told the Board.

“Proposed changes to how this country’s interconnected rail network operates threaten to disrupt a system that serves customers in the most efficient and cost effective way possible,” Hamberger said. “Today’s balanced regulations enable freight railroads to serve all their customers while continuing to invest in the country’s 140,000 mile rail network.

The Federal Transit Administration Tuesday declared a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONZI) for Cincinnati’s proposed 3.0-mile streetcar, clearing the way for the use of $29 million in federal funds already allocated to the project.

“The federal government has examined the project and given it a full green light,” said Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney in a statement. “We continue on the path to build the streetcar to help grow the local economy, bring jobs, and revitalize key areas for the city.” The release also identified Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority as the likely operator of the streetcar; SORTA will oversee the use of federal funds and compliance with FTA regulations.

The first segment of the project is to link the city’s Fountain Square with Findlay Market Findlay Market. The project has been scaled back due to the withdrawal of $52 million in state funding, previously approved, following vocal opposition to passenger rail projects by Gov. John Kasich. The revised first-phase plan is estimated to cost $95 million.

The city hopes the line eventually will run from The Banks on Cincinnati's riverfront, serving two sports stadiums, to Uptown, the area around the University of Cincinnati, the region‘s major hospitals, and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 06:49

CN advances fuel management program

CN’s new Fuel Management Excellence (FMX) program is providing the railroad with significant increases in fuel efficiency and environmental benefits.

keith-creel-cn-evp-coo.jpg“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.”

Motiva Enterprises LLC on Wednesday said it has reached an agreement with Vecenergy to construct a fuel grade ethanol rail offloading facility at the Motiva Port Everglades, Fla., terminal.

The company, a fuel refiner and distributor, said the expanded operations will allow for the delivery of ethanol unit trains directly into existing Motiva storage tanks. These new facilities will increase cost efficiency and improve delivery logistics by minimizing the number of transports required before arriving into the South Florida market.

Motiva General Manager-Supply Steve Herrington said, “Motiva and Vecenergy are pleased to be coordinating efforts with the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) to provide an integrated rail-to-terminal delivery system.”

fec_logo.jpgFlorida East Coast Railroad President Jim Hertwig said, “The FEC is committed to providing consistent, efficient unit-train service to the Motiva facility. This project will result in supply chain improvements into South Florida in support of the ethanol market.”

The Motiva Port of Everglades terminals have a combined 1,200,000 barrels of refined products storage strategically located to serve fuels and ethanol suppliers and consumers in the south Florida area. When the project is completed, an entire unit train of 80 rail cars will be off-loaded and returned to the supplier.
CSX on Wednesday released its second annual Corporate Profile and Responsibility (CPR) Report highlighting financial and sustainability accomplishments in 2010.

mike_ward.jpg“This integrated report gives our stakeholders a holistic view of the company—we’ve delivered great performance, responsibly, across the board,” said Michael Ward, chairman, president, and CEO (pictured).

He said CSX achieved milestones in each area—meeting its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 8% nearly a year ahead of schedule, reducing personal injuries by nearly 45%, and improving the company’s operating ratio to a record 71.1%.

He also said CSX is helping to stimulate economic recovery and job growth with infrastructure investments that have added up to $8.3 billion in thelast five years.

The report did not mention the lingering threat of re-regulation, but it didsay: “Publication of the 2010 CPR Report comes as the freight rail industryfaces some of the most transformative opportunities of the deregulated era.As the American population grows exponentially, demand for everyday goods isskyrocketing and freight rail is poised to handle a major portion of thatincrease. CSX is well-positioned and committed to being an efficient,environmentally-friendly part of the global supply chain, delivering thegoods America needs in a way that protects the planet for the future.”
Thursday, 23 June 2011 05:11

NJ MPO ponders streetcars for state park

Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J., is a popular site to launch Presidential campaigns, as Republican Jon Huntsman demonstrated early this week. But it also is the Garden State’s most heavily visited state park, and the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) overseeing 13 northern New Jersey counties is considering a rail transit option to serve some of those visitors.

The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Wednesday three studies, including one considering installation of a heritage streetcar loop within the park, funded through NJTPA’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 work program.

“With this study, we can find approaches to using mass transit to create more effective access to the park and also links to the larger transportation network.,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who also serves as an NJTPA board member.

The study is expected to cost about $220,000, most of it provided through federal sources.

State rail historical advocacy group Liberty Historic Railway, Inc. already has released its own study showing the feasibility of a streetcar serving the 1,200-acre park, linked to Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit (HBLRT) Liberty State Park Station, and also to the station’s large park-and-ride lot. The streetcar would also serve, and perhaps utilize, the ex-Central Railroad of New Jersey rail terminal building within the park, preserved as a historic structure.
Thursday, 23 June 2011 10:06


Virginia Railway Express has authorized $250,000 to install a switch outside L’Enfant Station in Washington, D.C., allowing VRE trains terminating at Union Station to be stored more efficiently and quickly at L’Enfant. The project will require a total of $2 million to complete.

vre_logo.jpgVRE has built a storage track at L'Enfant Station, and had planned to terminate two additional trains at L'Enfant, but passengers bound for Union Station protested the perceived service downgrade. The switch project would allow all VRE service to terminate at Union Station while facilitating train storage at L’Enfant Station.

CSX owns the right-of-way involved, but has agreed to allow VRE to deadhead equipment to L’Enfant Station once the switch is operational. VRE officials say the project will take up to 18 months.

Thursday, 23 June 2011 10:30

DOT grant for PTC to aid Caltrain, HSR

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Thursday announced the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) can begin spending a $16 million grant to support safety and scheduling improvements between San Francisco to San Jose corridor. The grant will advance design of a positive train control (PTC) technology system, and will help integrate California’s existing passenger rail network with future HSR service.

ray_lahood.jpg“Keeping people safe is our top priority and positive train control technology will ensure California’s rail network transports passengers more safely and efficiently than ever before,” LaHood (pictured at left) said. “This comprehensive safety technology will improve passenger service along the highly-traveled corridor between San Francisco and San Jose and will ultimately benefit the entire high-speed rail system in California.”

The grant will enable the CHSRA and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to develop a system that will improve schedule management along the 52-mile San Francisco-San Jose route and, by extension, help improve train schedules along the entire California railroad network. In addition, the grant will be used to design a PTC system that will accommodate the existing 52-mile corridor and provide support for HSR trains.

U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) cited the spillover benefits to existing Caltrain service as well. “This is great news for Peninsula residents. This technology will improve Caltrain’s safety and efficiency,” she said. Echoing Eshoo’s comments, Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.), said, “Improving Caltrain and laying the ground work for high speed rail has a direct, positive impact on my constituents, and these federal funds show that their hard-earned tax dollars are being efficiently and effectively returned to their communities in visible and meaningful ways.”

BART’s Board of Directors on Thursday awarded the second of two major construction contracts advancing its 5.4-mile Warm Springs Extension contract. Fairfield, Calif.-based Warm Springs Constructors was chosen to design and install track and associated facilities, and construct a Warm Springs station; the contract is worth roughly $300 million.

bart_logo.jpg“This is a double dose of good news for East Bay residents,” BART board member Thomas Blalock said. “In the short run, this means tens of thousands of jobs— many for local, out-of-work residents. In the long run, it means tens of thousands of East Bay commuters will be able to relax and ride environmentally-friendly BART instead of sitting frustrated and fuming at heavy 680 or 880 traffic while burning carbon-polluting, expensive gas.”

The eis part of a larger plan to extend BART to Silicon Valley. BART says the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority has taken the lead in the next phase of the project south of Warm Springs called the Berryessa Extension. It will be responsible for bringing BART that much closer to downtown San Jose. Work is scheduled to begin in 2012.

BART said the Warm Springs project, originally estimated to cost $890 million, is $123 million under budget due to “a good bidding environment.”
Friday, 24 June 2011 10:50

Alstom tapped for Iraq HSR talks

Alstom is in exclusive talks to land a contract to build high speed rail in Iraq linking Baghdad, the capital, and the port city of Basra, a French transport minister said Friday.

alstom_logo.jpg“Alstom and the Iraqi railway have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a high-speed rail line between Baghdad and Basra,” Thierry Mariani said while at the Paris International Airshow. Alstom and Iraq have 12 months to solidify the deal.

An Alstom spokesman reportedly confirmed the agreement, and said the company seeks some form of design-build-operate pact. The line, roughly 400 miles in length, would handle trains at top speeds of 250 km/h (about 155 mph).

Other cities to be linked by the HSR line include Karbala, Najaf, Moussayeb, and Samawah.

Monday, 27 June 2011 08:43

Sumitomo Metal to buy Standard Steel

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.” standard_steel_logo.jpgSumitomo 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.

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