The Surface Transportation Board announced March 10 that it has instituted a proceeding responding to a Union Pacific request that the board "determine the extent of the common carrier obligation to quote rates for new, lengthy movements of chlorine, a toxic inhalation hazard (TIH)."
Wabtec Corp. said Tuesday it has formed a 50-50 joint venture in China to manufacture brake equipment for the Chinese rail market. Wabtec’s domestic partner in the effort is Shenyang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Railways Brakes Co., Ltd., the largest manufacturer of locomotive and freight car brake equipment in China.
The joint venture company, Shenyang CNR Wabtec Railway Brake Technology Company, Ltd., will produce pneumatic control valves and other braking related equipment for freight car builders and overhaulers in China.
“This investment builds on our existing presence in China, the largest rail market outside of North America," said Wabtec President and CEO Albert J. Neupaver in a statement. "Our capabilities and technology will be valuable assets in this rapidly growing market."
"We expect to have a strong impact on the Chinese market through the joint venture's advanced technology, lean production, and high-quality products," said Fang Zhijian, chairman and president of Shenyang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Railways Brakes.
California's high speed rail project has received an infusion of $29 million to keep the $44 billion project moving, at least until midyear. Short-term borrowing by the state treasurer's office Monday will provide the interim funding, which the California High-Speed Rail Authority requires to cover its expenses through June, the end of the state's current fiscal year.
Separately, the state Monday ended its public comment period soliciting input for the 700-mile high speed rail system. Dominic Spaethling, high speed rail project regional manager, said it's too soon to measure the volume of input, be it suggestions or criticism. Spaethling said he will be one of several officials reviewing comment from individuals, municipalities, nongovernment organizations, and others in the next few weeks, before posting submissions on the Internet.
A new study commissioned by HNTB, a Kansas City, Mo.-based infrastructure design and engineering firm, has found that given comparable fares and travel time, 54% of Americans would choose modern high speed trains over automobile (33%) and air travel (13%).
The survey was conducted at a time when high speed raill has achieved high visibility as a potential, if not actual, travel option. The passage of a $10 billion high speed rail bond measure in California last fall was followed by the set-aside of $8 billion for high speed rail in this year's American Recovery and Investment Act.
HNNB said its latest research, the second in series of America Thinks surveys, "found even greater acceptance of high speed rail among the 18% of [respondents] who have experienced such travel here or abroad. An overwhelming majority of high speed train travelers (82%) found it more enjoyable than plane travel, and slightly more than half (51%) said they would be most productive in high speed trains when traveling for business."
The Uniform Railroad Costing System (URCS) used by the Surface Transportation Board to determine a railroad's variable costs is coming under new scrutiny. URCS calculates system-average variablecosts for each Class I railroad each year. The data is used in railroad rate cases and other regulatory proceedings.
The STB has scheduled a public hearing April 30 "to determine whether, and to what extent, modifications are needed to account forrecent changes in agency procedures, to improve system outputs, and to furtherthe national rail transportation policy set by Congress."
Intent to participate in the hearing should be communicatedto the board no later than April 23. Notice of the hearing is availablefor viewing and downloading at www.stb.dot.gov under E-LIBRARY.
STV Inc. has received the 2009 Henry A. Stikes Grand Conceptor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) North Carolina Chapter. STV, doing business in the Tar Heel State as STV Ralph Whitehead Associates, was honored for its work on Charlotte’s South Corridor Light Rail Transit System (Lynx Blue Line), the state’s first light rail project.
STV played a lead role in the design and construction management of the Blue Line, which began revenue service in November 2007 andis operated by Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). The $462 million, 9.6-mile initial route, part of plans for a larger light rail network, links Charlotte’s southern neighborhoods with the city’s uptown Central Business District.
New York-based STV provided program management support to CATS, full construction management of the entire system, and designed various elements of the program.
ACEC, based in Washington, D.C., represents more than 5,500 firms throughout the U.S. involved in a wide range of engineering. The North Carolina chapter is one of 51 ACEC state and regional councils.
Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (EMD) Wednesday said it has signed a contract with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund-Ministry of Finance to manufacture 25 SD70ACS heavy haul AC diesel electric locomotives for Saudi Railway Company (SAR).
The units will serve the nation’s North-South line, carrying minerals on roughly 1,482 kilometers (about 920 miles) of newly constructed track. The locomotives also are capable of operating reliably in a desert environment.
Delivery is scheduled to begin during the second quarter of 2010, and will increase the number of EMD locomotives operating in Saudi Arabia to 72.
La Grange, Ill.-based EMD says the SD70ACS is a 4,500 BHP AC locomotive that includes an EMD IGBT AC drive system. This locomotive also features a pulse filtration system and movable sand plows on the pilot and trucks that makes the SD70ACS ideal for the extreme desert environment of Saudi Arabia. These units are equipped with the EMD 710-T1 fuel-efficient diesel engine and the EM2000 microprocessor locomotive control system, as well as the ERTMS/ETCS train control equipment. The units are also equipped with FIRE™ display system.
Crew comfort features that are being built into the locomotive include an isolated cab to reduce noise and vibration, as well as air conditioning, es to make the locomotive a better and safer environment for the crew.
"Saudi Arabia is a key market for EMD in the Middle East region," said Vice President International Sales & Service Albert Enste, in a statement. “EMD is committed to supplying the highest quality products and services to Saudi Railway Co. (SAR), and we look forward to a long lasting relationship between our two companies on future opportunities."
New Class I railroad employment figures released Tuesday by the Surface Transportation Board show that the number of men and women employed to operate trains--the official category is transportation (train and engine)--declined 9.57% to 61,333 between February 2008 and February 2009.
Total railroad employment in that period was down 3.74% to 156,997. Professional and administrative employment was down 1.34% to 13,642.
Four employment categories registered increases during the 12-month period: transportation (other than train and engine), up 6.30% to 7,175; maintenance of way and structures, up 0.31% to 34,390; maintenance of equipment and stores, up 0.07% to 30,322; and executives, officials, and staff assistants, up 0.23% to 10,135.
In mid-February 2009, employment was highest on Union Pacific, at 49,964, followed by BNSF Railway, 38,141; Norfolk Southern, 29,687; CSX, 28,404; CN/GTW, 5,573; Kansas City Southern, 2,917; and Soo Line, 2,411.
The UMLER (Universal Machine Language Equipment Register) system that railroads, equipment owners, shippers, and repair shops been using since 1969 is undergoing a major transformation to state-of-the-art technology.
Railinc says that the new Umler/EMIS (Umler Equipment Management Information System) “is one of the most significant and far-reaching technology changes in the rail industry” and “is on-track and on-target” for launch on July 25, 2009. “This project is a major re-engineering of the 40-year-old legacy system and represents a giant technological leap forward,” says Alan McDonald, director of the EMIS project (pictured). “The new Umler system processes transactions immediately, has higher quality data, and gives users greater control over managing equipment information. It will directly impact how equipment owners and their agents conduct business. We’re reaching out now to demonstrate how the system can help them better manage their fleets.”
Railinc notes there are still critical milestones that must be reached before Umler/EMIS can be implemented. “System testing has begun and the project’s data quality initiative is well under way,” says McDonald. “We’re currently contacting equipment owners to make sure that their equipment meets the data requirements of the new system. Communication around this effort will continue until early summer.”
Railinc has launched a new website, www.railinc.com/umler, to help users learn about the new system. Railinc’s Umler/EMIS team also is giving demonstrations of the new system at town hall meetings and industry-related conventions throughout the year. User training for the new Umler system includes webinars, online demos, and an online “sandbox” where users can learn the new system. Training begins in late May. Meeting schedules and training information are available at www.railinc.com/rportal/web/guest/umleremis.
In a transaction valued at $C160 million (US$129 million), GO Transit will acquire Canadian National’s Weston Subdivision for expanded commuter rail service between Toronto's Union Station and regions northwest of the city.
GO Transit and VIA Rail currently operate 48 passenger trains a day over the line, which accommodates GO's Georgetown commuter rail service as well as VIA intercity trains operating between Toronto, Kitchener, and other points in southwestern Ontario. CN operates three daily local freight trains along the corridor.
GO said that by owning the corridor, it will be better positioned to add more infrastructure and expand service. The acquisition aligns with GO Transit's Strategic Plan GO 2020.
"This is a major step forward for future growth and expansion along this already busy corridor," said GO Transit Chairman Peter Smith. "This purchase sets the framework for future GO rail corridor purchases, and we look forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with CN."
Under an agreement announced Wednesday, CN and VIA Rail will continue to operate over the line.
French Secretary of State for Transport Dominique Bussereau Wednesday announced the creation of a transportation company with the objective of promoting the creation of short line freight operations (“opérateurs de fret de proximité,” or OFPs).
Pittsburgh-based Railroad Development Corp. will work with French national rail infrastructure manager and owner Réseau Ferré de France and development bank la Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, as well as local investors.
The short line operating joint venture will promote initiatives and innovations to generate increased railcar traffic. Bussereau, in a statement, said several tools have been put in place to support the creation of the effort, including legislative and regulatory measures.
RDC is a joint-venture partner with operators in South andCentral America, and also operates U.S. short line Iowa Interstate Railroad.
France’s Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP, or Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transports) announced Wednesday its decision to award and sign a contract with an Alstom-Bombardier consortium for the supply of 60 MI09 trainsets for the use on Paris' regional rail network (RER).
Pursuant to the contract to be signed, Bombardier will supply the three middle cars of the five-car sets, which will be designed and assembled at Bombardier's site in Crespin in the Valenciennes area. Delivery of the first train is scheduled for December 2010.
In the 1990s through 2000, the same consortium designed and built the MI2N suburban trains, on which this new train is based, with added capacity, higher performance, environmentally friendly technology, andupdated to meet current norms and regulations.
Jean Berge, president of Bombardier Transportation France, said: "Bombardier is pleased to participate, along with Alstom and the RATP, in the development and production of the MI09, a new generation train with many additional features."
Lake Oswego, Ore.-based railway equipment supplier Greenbrier Cos. Inc. reported a net loss for its second quarter, ended Feb. 28 ,of $6.9 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with earnings of $1.4 million, or 9 cents a share, in the comparable period a year ago. Analysts had expected a loss of 7 cents a share. As a result, the company has suspended its quarterly dividend.
In a statement, Greenbrier said its performance was affected by a deferral of revenue and related margin on a portion of the sale price of certain railcars sold and paid for in full during the period.
Greenbrier’s revenue grew 11% to $287 million during the quarter, helped by increased sales at its manufacturing and refurbishment andparts segments. But its new railcar manufacturing backlog fell 5% to 15,100 units as of Feb 28. Additionally, General Electric Railcar Services Corp., which is scheduled to receive about 79% of the total railcar backlog, has informed Greenbrier that it may substantially reduce, delay, or otherwise cancel deliveries under the contract.
"Greenbrier believes its contract with GE contains adequate protection in the event of an attempted cancellation or renegotiation of railcar deliveries," the company said.
Company CEO William Furman said he did not expect the current economic downturn to reverse in the near future. "Year-to-daterail loadings in North America are down 16.3 %, and it is estimated that about 20%-to-25% of North American railcar fleet is currently idle, as manufacturers worldwide drastically reduce or halt production," he said.
Canadian National has developed a "Pipeline on Rail" strategy that the company says could move oil-sands production quickly and cheaply to markets in North America or Asia. CN believes it can offer a price-competitive alternative to conventional pipelines shipping oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Increasing pipeline capacity could cost considerable time and money, making the CN alternative even more competitive, the company says.
CN said that by the end of this year, it will be shipping 10,000 barrels daily from producers whose reserves are now stranded.
"Not enough pipeline capacity exists today to move bitumen (viscous oil-sands production), diluted bitumen, or synthetic crude," said Jim Foote, CN executive vice president of sales and marketing. "We can get their products today to market using the concept of a pipeline on rail and move it directly either into the U.S. or to the West Coast (for export to Asian markets), which creates the flexibility. It means smaller producers are not just tied to a refinery down in Texas."
CN recently acquired the Athabasca Northern Railway linking Edmonton to Fort McMurray, Alta., to tap the oil-sands market more fully. CN plans to deliver the oil-sands production through the use of insulated and heatable railcars or by reducing its viscosity by mixing it with condensates or diluents.
Peter M. Rogoff, who helped develop funding mechanisms for mass transit and Amtrak as a long-time member of the Senate Appropriations Committee staff, has been selected by President Obama to head the Federal Transit Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In addition to his work on funding initiatives, Rogoff has played a key role in the development of security and safety legislation.
He earned a B.A. degree at Amherst University and an MA degree with honors by Georgetown University.
William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, said Rogoff "understands what is needed to guide our country's federal policy on public transportation."
"As staff for the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee for 22 years, he is very familiar with transit plans and projects around the country," said Millar. "Additionally, he has worked on numerous transportation appropriation bills and issues as well as on the past three federal surface transportation bills."
The Railway Supply Institute, the OneRail Coalition, and Women in Government Relations are teaming up to present a one-day symposium entitled Selling to America’s Railroads: Freight, Intercity and High Speed Rail Development – How Stimulus Funds Will Be Spent on Rail. The symposium is Thursday, May 7, 2009, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Phoenix Park Hotel Ballroom, 520 North Capitol Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001.
Participants will hear from government authorities regarding the availability of stimulus money for rail. Along with flexible spending money available for freight rail projects, some $9.3 billion has been committed toward intercity and high-speed passenger rail development. On April 18, the U.S. Department of Transportation must issue a strategic plan on how to use those funds to improve/deploy high speed rail. Discussion will focus on what this means for rail and rail suppliers. The cost to RSI and WGR members is $150 per person and includes breakfast and lunch ($200 for non-members).
8:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30 a.m. Welcome. Tom Simpson, Executive Director, RSI
8:45 a.m. Implementing High Speed Rail in America. Joel Szabat, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, US DOT (invited)
9:15 a.m. FRA’s Strategic Plan. Karen Rae, Deputy Administrator, FRA (invited)
9:45 a.m. Break
10:00 a.m. Advancing Passenger and Freight Rail Policies as a Critical Element of the Nation’s Transportation System. The OneRail Coalition, Donald Itzkoff, Counsel & Partner, Nossaman LLP
10:15 a.m. Freight Panel: New Project Opportunities with Public-Private Partnerships.
11:15 a.m. Amtrak’s Plans for the Stimulus Funds. Joseph Boardman, President and CEO, Amtrak (invited)
12:00pm Lunch and Keynote Speaker: The Honorable James Oberstar (D-Minn.), Chairman, U.S. House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (invited)
1:15 p.m. An Overview of the California High Speed Rail Project. Rod Diridon, Chair Emeritus, California High Speed Authority
2:15 p.m. Working with States to Implement Rail Projects. Frank Busalacchi, Secretary of Transportation, Wisconsin DOT and Chair, States For Passenger Rail
3:00 p.m. Adjourn
For further information or to obtain a registration form, contact RSI’s Nicole Brewin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 347-4664.
Officials of North Charleston, S.C., are objecting to plans by the state to improve area rail connections to port facilities, saying a lawsuit against the proposal is not an idle threat.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey says the current proposal would undo local plans to redevelop a former Navy base, as rail lines and intermodal yards would absorb prime real estate development potential.
The mayor says North Charleston was never consulted on the plan and was not consulted before recent state legislative action advancing intermodal expansion was advanced.
Late last year the Port of Charleston eying near-dock rail connections, and possibly some on-dock options, for both CSX and Norfolk Southern to improve freight rail traffic flow in the area. At present, CSX has access to North Charleston’s Navy base site from the south, while NS has no comparable access.
City Councilman Kurt Taylor, whose district includes areas around the base, said the ripple effect of bringing trains in from the north would be extend beyond the base. It would disrupt areas around Park Circle and elsewhere if trains are allowed to come in several times a day, he said.
Of nearly $73 million in grants awarded by the Kresge Foundation for the year’s first quarter, half of it, $35 million, was identified for developing light rail transit in the foundation’s hometown of Detroit. The amount is roughly 29% of the $120 million required for constructing M-1 RAIL, planned to run along Woodward Avenue from the Detroit River to the New Center area, with 13 station stops.
In a statement, the foundation said its “over-arching purpose of Kresge's community development work in its hometown is strengthening the City of Detroit's economic, social, and cultural fabric.”
"There is no more important investment this region can make in its future health and vitality than a regional mass transit system," said Rip Rapson, president of the Kresge Foundation. "The Woodward line will signal metropolitan Detroit's willingness to jump-start our region's aspiration to create such a system. It will connect inner-city residents with job opportunities. It will give rise to more intensive, sensible land use, tying neighborhood residents to new community development opportunities. It will draw together a variety of private, philanthropic, public, and nonprofit activities now in place to promote the retention and attraction of talent in the heart of the city."
The foundation’s funding, to be made over four years, will be granted as project benchmarks are met. "We have every expectation that these benchmarks will be met in a timely way, leading to the beginning of construction this year and the line's completion in late 2010," Rapson said.
Detroit’s current LRT project is a marriage of two separate proposals that were merged through a public-private partnership to expedite construction and implementation.