The Department of Transportation Tuesday released its protocols for the manufacture of high speed rail equipment in the U.S., specifically for bilevel passenger cars. Standards for traditional single-level equipment still have yet to be released.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the standards would enable U.S. manufacturers to compete equally in an anticipated competitive marketplace, with players from the U.S. jostling with more well-established international manufacturers of HSR gear.
DOT says the standard will help control assembly costs, and also lower maintenance and repair costs.
“This is a milestone in the history of rail transportation,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo (pictured at left).“These standardized bi-level passenger railcars will be able to operate nationwide and are compatible with existing equipment. A common design also makes it easier to train maintenance personnel, stock parts, and perform repairs, which reduces costs.”
Bilevel HSR cars also will meet all current safety requirements and regulations, as well as be able to satisfy future regulations for crash energy management. New cars also will meet requirements mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As existing passenger rail vehicles are replaced, the addition of new stock will enhance system safety, DOT said.
The establishment of technical standards for high-speed rail operations is required by the Passenger Railroad Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 and was developed by the Technical Subcommittee of the Section 305 Next Generation Equipment Committee.
Lexington, Mass.-based RailRunner NA, Inc. said Tuesday it has been designated as an effective technology for intermodal transport by Berlin-based Studiengesellschaft für den Kombinierten Verkehr (SGKV), which it said is “one of the foremost organizations studying intermodal transportation in Europe.”
RailRunner said it commissioned the SGKV study because of increasing interest by logistic and intermodal companies in its new technology, and based upon the request of several German and European approval authorities who required independent reviews of RailRunner technology by respected European institutions.
The report compares the use of RailRunner technology with competing intermodal technologies in transporting 45-foot European containers, 40-foot ISO containers, 20-foot tank containers, swap bodies, semi-trailers, and roll-on/roll-off systems.
The SGKV study analyzes existing intermodal transport technologies with regard to their operational efficiencies, capital costs, environmental implications, and other parameters.
Using a hypothetical Hamburg-to-Budapest itinerary, the report says RailRunner offers the best bimodal (road-to-rail) technology available based on multiple critical factors.
Among other findings, “Another remarkable advantage of the RailRunner system is that it easily can be integrated into existing intermodal transport systems,” the SGVK report says. “RailRunner can be fully comprised in existing terminals, thus enlarging the overall terminal capacity. The costs are relatively small.”
L.B. Foster Co. and Portec Rail Products, Inc. announced Tuesday that they have executed a second amendment to the Plan of Merger dated Feb. 16, 2010, extending the “drop dead” date of the merger agreement from Aug. 31 until Dec. 31.
The announcement said that in exchange for Portec’s agreeing to the second extension, L.B. Foster has agreed to “increase the tender offer share price from $11.71 per share to $11.80 per share and, subject to certain conditions, pay Portec $2 million should the transaction not close by Dec. 30, 2010.”
“The primary obstacle to the acquisition has been the antitrust concerns of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, particularly related to Portec's domestic joint business,” said the prospective merger partners. “Although there can be no assurance that L.B. Foster will satisfy the DOJ's antitrust concerns, L.B. Foster believes that the DOJ should approve the transaction if assets relating to the joint business of Portec's Huntington, W. Va., facility are divested to a viable buyer.”
L.B. Foster also announced that it is extending its previously announced cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock of Portec until midnight on Sept. 30. The offer was previously set to expire Aug. 30.
Tacoma, Wash.’s City Council is scheduled to be briefed Tuesday on a plan to add a streetcar stop to its Link service on Commerce Street between south 11th and 12th Streets. Link is operated by Sound Transit, which has been apprised of the plan.
According to a report issued by Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson, the Public Works Department has worked on a design for the new station which would be smaller and less expensive than the other Link stops.City engineer and assistant public works director Jim Parvey said engineers from the Public Works Department met with Sound Transit representatives lastspring to walk the affected rail line, take measurements, and see if Sound Transit was onboard with the idea. That meeting led his staff to begin drawing up plans for the station.“It's just a simple design at this point,” said Parvey earlier this year. “It does not show any architectural treatment.”“If Tacoma decides to pursue the possibility of an additional stop, SoundTransit will work with the City and other affected parties to explore options and any construction and service implications,” said Sound Transit spokesman Andrew Schmid.
Harsco Corp. said Monday it has received new orders totaling $13 million for its Harsco Rail unit, including orders from Bangladesh and Liberia, reflecting the company’s expansion into the international market.
Harsco will construct a new Mark VI railway ballast tamper for the Bangladesh Railway system, a 1,700 mile network that serves as a primary backbone of Bangladesh’s transportation infrastructure. The new unit willsupport the country’s continuing track improvement and expansion programs. The unit will be constructed in Harsco Rail’s U.S. production facilities and is scheduled for delivery in 2011.
The Liberian order calls for the sale of a Harsco Rail Grinder to perform ongoing rail maintenance of industrial railway operationswhich transport heavy materials by train. Its delivery will also be in 2011. Harsco’s rail grinders re-profile rail surfaces to extend rail life, provide smoother travel, and to correct surface damage that could lead to rail fractures.
Within the U.S., Harsco received new orders from three railroads for its new Drone Tampers, which incorporate two-way wireless Ethernet technology to work behind a conventional lead tamper as an unmanned, fully automated chase vehicle that can tamp track roadbed without an operator on board. The units are scheduled for delivery beginning later this year and continuing into early 2012.
“These latest orders reflect our focused efforts for maintaining a strong and balanced pipeline and expanding both our international reach and technological capabilities,” said Harsco Rail President Scott Jacoby.
The Surface Transportation Board announced Monday that it will hold oral argument Oct. 26, Washington, D.C in a closely-watched case involving a train routing complaint filed by Entergy Arkansas, Inc. and Entergy Services, Inc.
STB said the complaint asks the board to prescribe an alternative through route for the movement of coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to a generating plant near Newark, Ark., that is owned jointly by Entergy and intervener Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and is directly served by the Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad Co.
“The alternative through route sought by Entergy would involve the movement of Powder River Basin coal that would originate on mines served by the BNSF Railway Co. and be interchanged from BNSF to MNA (or from BNSF to the Union Pacific Railroad Co. should UP subsequently replace MNA as the carrier directly serving Entergy’s plant) at either Lamar or Aurora, Mo. Entergy’s current service involves the through movement of coal that originates at Powder River Basin mines served by UP and is interchanged from UP to MNA at Diaz Junction, Ark, for an 8-mile movement to Entergy’s plant. The relief sought by Entergy is opposed by UP, MNA, and BNSF,” said STB.
STB said it is scheduling the oral argument to clarify the record “in this complex proceeding,” and the parties may not submit or discuss new evidence.
MTA York City Transit will host a two-day meeting of the SmartCard Alliance Transportation Council in New York City Sept. 22-23. The highlight of the meeting will be a tour of the New York/New Jersey Contactless Fare Payment Trial, which began June 10.
The meeting is open to all Smart Card Alliance members, Transportation Council members, and non-member transportation agencies.
“This is an ideal time and place for our members and transportation industry professionals to meet, learn, and share knowledge about the latest innovations in transit and payments,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.
The New York/New Jersey Contactless Fare Payment Trial involves MTA New York City Transit, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and New Jersey Transit. In the trial, commuters use a contactless MasterCard® PayPass™ or Visa® payWave® card or device to pay directly for fares with their credit or debit card accounts.
MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder commented: “We are happy to give our colleagues a demonstration of the New York/New JerseyTransit Trial. The technology that we're testing will make life easier for our customers and help reduce our cost of doing business at the same time. By using an open network, we’ll break down regional barriers and let people travel across the region with a card that’s already sitting in their wallets.”
The council said it has also invited representatives from transit agencies in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Paris, London, and other cities to “discuss how they can enable customers to access commuter rail, light rail, subways, and buses using contactless payment cards, stickers, and mobile devices for fare payment.”
Balfour Beatty Rail, Inc. said Monday it had acquired Reuel, Inc.’s Traction Power Division. Goldsboro, N.C.-based Reuel manufactures electrical components and equipment; its Traction Power Division is a 28-person team specializing in power systems and components for the public transit industry.
Balfour Beatty Rail said its new Traction Power Group will report to Transit Division Vice President Joe Reed, and will be led locally by Tom Young, general manager–Traction Power.
“The acquisition fulfills an important goal for Balfour Beatty Rail—to strengthen our transit capabilities and become a one-stop provider of rail services, whether it is track, communications, signals, power, or even civil construction,” said Reed. “Adding traction power to our in-house portfolio of services will help us meet the growing demand for mass transit construction opportunities around the U.S. and will add value to existing and future contracts.”
Balfour Beatty Rail says the new Traction Power Group will give it the capability to manufacture custom power control centers, circuit breakers, controls, substations, and both AC and DC switchgear.
Atlanta-based Balfour Beatty Rail is part of London-based Balfour Beatty plc, an international engineering, construction, services, and investment company.
Kansas City Southern looks to its new international intermodal corridor for sustained growth.
An elder statesman among the growing crowd of U.S. transit properties, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority—the “T”—holds to its vision: expand its service area and service options.