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.
Citing a “tepid macroeconomic climate that is impacting all freight transport providers, including truckers,” Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl is lowering estimates and reducing price targets well before the railroads report fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 financials. Cowen has revised 4Q15 and 2016 earnings estimates downwards for most railroads, truckers and 3PLs (third-party logistics providers).
The Association of American Railroads, in reporting rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 26, 2015 (week 51), noted that total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 391,107 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.8% compared with the same week in 2014. Total carloads for the week, pushed by a near-32% drop in coal, nosedived 17.9% to 206,903, compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 184,204 containers and trailers, up 1.6%—not nearly enough to stop the bleeding.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) and representatives from Union Pacific, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), Amtrak, Fort Worth & Western Railroad (FW&W) and Regional Rail Right-of-Way Co. on Dec. 28, 2015 signed a shared-use operating agreement for the TEX Rail commuter rail line, slated to begin service in 2018.
During much of fourth-quarter 2015, investor interest in Wabtec (Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp.) has increased due to concerns about the North American railcar cycle, Wabtec’s pending acquisition of Faiveley Transport, the sustainability of margins and returns, and the company’s declining share price. Steve Barger of KeyBanc Capital Markets looked at revenue drivers and the Faiveley accretion model.
New Jersey Transit has appointed Dennis J. Martin as Interim Executive Director effective Dec. 28, 2015, replacing Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, who left NJT to become President of MTA New York City Transit.
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Dec. 28, 2015 issued two interrelated decisions—a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Proposed Policy Statement (PPS)—proposing revised definitions and policy guidance for passenger train on-time performance and preference. The STB is seeking public comment on the proposals, both of which would affect Section 213 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) as codified at 49 U.S.C. § 24308(f).
Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl reports on a recent dinner conversation with “a large private shipper” that focused on the proposed Canadian Pacific-Norfolk Southern merger, rail pricing, railcar sourcing, and the U.S. economy. Following are his observations:
Amtrak activated its final segment of ACSES (Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System), its version of Positive Train Control (PTC), along the Northeast Corridor on Dec. 18, 2015. ACSES is now fully functional on all Amtrak-owned track between Washington, D.C., and Boston, almost two weeks before the Congressionally imposed original deadline of Dec. 31, which has since been extended by three years.
Denver, Colo.-based short line holding company OmniTrax is selling the Port of Churchill and Hudson Bay Railway Company (HBRY) to an unidentified group of northern Manitoba-based First Nations for an undisclosed sum.
Santa Claus doesn’t rest on Christmas Eve. Neither, apparently, does Canadian Pacific. Santa does rest on Christmas Day, but the Class I railroad whose headquarters is, of all its contemporaries (with the exception of the Alaska Railroad), closest to Kris Kringle’s North Pole residence and workshop has chosen not to follow his lead.
RailComm has completed installation of a remote control system for 19 switch machines at the north end of a Class I yard in Jackson, Miss.
As Canadian Pacific continues to pursue a merger with Norfolk Southern, CP CEO Hunter Harrison sent a response to the members of the Illinois Congressional delegation (all Democrats) who sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board on De. 14, 2015 expressing concerns about the potential transaction.
Amtrak announced on Dec. 17, 2015 that its Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle (Trains 21 and 22) is operating on a new route between Fort Worth and Dallas, and that the U.S. Senate confirmed Tony Coscia and Derek Kan as Amtrak board of directors members.
Montreal’s Agence Metropolitaine de Transport (AMT) on Dec. 17, 2015 launched an international call for tenders to acquire new commuter railcars and award a contract for operation and maintenance of its entire passenger rail fleet.
Amtrak may not be winning any awards for on-time performance, but it is getting special recognition from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
According to Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl, “The addition of a contingent value right (CVR) is Canadian Pacific’s way of providing Norfolk Southern shareholders with an insurance backstop, another effort by the Canadian Class I to put its money where its mouth is.”
December 7, 2015: A day that will live in infamy for anyone attempting to follow the volley of legalese and rhetoric being tossed about by Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern as CP attempts to marry up with NS in what may be beginning to look more and more like a shotgun wedding officiated by The Rev. Bill Ackman.*
The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. on Dec. 15, 2015 announced that, since Sept. 1, 2015, the beginning of its fiscal year, it has received orders for approximately 1,800 railcar units valued at nearly $170 million.
New Jersey-based Stadler U.S. Inc., a subsidiary of Bussnang, Switzerland-based Stadler Rail Group, will open a temporary manufacturing and assembly facility in Utah as part of the first phase of its 15-year plan to expand North American manufacturing. Stadler Rail is currently selecting a U.S. manufacturing location. Utah, is in the running for the permanent location.
Cowen and Company’s Matt Elkott expects freight car builder The Greenbrier Companies (GBX) “to make strategic adjustments to position itself well amidst changing railcar dynamics, potentially through acquisitions.”