September 18-21, 2011, marks the dates for Railway Interchange 2011, as Minneapolis hosts the first North American event combining the technical conferences of AREMA (American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association) and CMA (Coordinated Mechanical Associations), as well as the exhibits of RSI (Railway Supply Institute), REMSA (Railway Engineering & Maintenance Suppliers Association), and RSSI (Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc.).
Thousands of rail industry customers and representatives are expected to attend what promises to be the largest ever such event held in North America. RI 2011 will include nearly 300,000 square feet of combined, indoor exhibit display space and more than 1.5 miles of combined, outdoor, on-, and off-track exhibits. Technical presentations by AREMA and CMA (Coordinated Mechanical Associations) will explore relevant railway topics. “This unprecedented rail industry event will provide railroaders from around the world a unique opportunity to see and hear all that is new and innovative across the entire rail supply industry,” said Dr. Charles Emely, executive director/CEO of AREMA.
“Our members look forward to this unique conference and trade show,” said David Soule, REMSA executive director.
“This combined effort will produce the best trade show and technical sessions at the best location in North America,” said Tom Simpson, RSI executive director.
“RSSI supports this unprecedented way for the supply organizations to join forces to create a one-of-a-kind venue,” said D.F. "Bucky" Remaley, RSSI executive director and secretary-treasurer.
RI 2011’s technical sessions and indoor exhibition will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Avenue South in Minneapolis. The outdoor exhibits will be held 20 minutes northwest of the Convention Center at Canadian Pacific's Humboldt Yard, located at 2625 49th Ave N. in Minneapolis. Bus transportation will be provided between the Minneapolis Convention Center and Humboldt Yard. Exhibit booth sales opened July 1, according to REMSA’s Soule, and RSI’s Simpson is urging potential exhibitors to reserve quickly for the best space availability. To exhibit at Railway Interchange 2011, companies must be amember in good standing of REMSA, RSI, or RSSI to exhibit in their sections, RSSI’s Remaley stated.
More information is available online at www.railwayinterchange.org. Beginningin January 2011, registration for Railway Interchange 2011 will be available online at the same site. There is a separate fee to attend technical sessions.
The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that contributing factors to last year’s fatal collision of two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority trains were “the lack of a safety culture within WMATA; ineffective safety oversight by the WMATA Board of Directors and the Tri-State Oversight Committee; and the Federal Transit Administration's lack of statutory authority to provide federal safety oversight.”
“Additionally,” said the board in a report released Tuesday, “WMATA’s failure to replace or retrofit the 1000-Series railcars, after these cars were shown in previous accidents to exhibit poor crashworthiness, contributed to the severity of passenger injuries and the number of fatalities.”
The board found that the specific cause was a “failure of the track circuit modules that caused the automatic train control (ATC) system to lose detection of one train, allowing a second train to strike it from the rear.”
The NTSB also cited WMATA for its “failure to ensure that a verification test developed after a 2005 incident near Rosslyn station was used system wide. This test would have identified the faulty track circuit before the accident."
The accident (pictured above) occurred on June 22, 2009, when train 112 struck stopped train 214 near the Fort Totten station. The lead car of 112 struck the rear car of 214, causing the rear car of train 214 to telescope about 63 feet into the lead car of train 112. Nine people aboard train 112 were killed as a result of the accident, including the train operator, and dozens were injured.
“The layers of safety deficiencies uncovered during the course of this investigation are troubling and reveal a systemic breakdown of safety management at all levels,” said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Our hope is that the lessons learned from this accident will be not only a catalyst for change at WMATA, but also the cornerstone of a greater effort to establish a federal role in oversight and safety standards for rail transit systems across the nation.”
As a result of the investigation, the NTSB said it made recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the FTA, TOC, WMATA, Alstom Signaling, and transit authorities in six states using GRS Generation 2 modules. Issue areas included safety oversight, equipment, inspection and maintenance guidelines and procedures, and targeted equipment removal and replacement.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2011 Preliminary Budget, released Wednesday, proposes fare andtoll increases of 7.5% effective Jan. 1, for riders who use its trains, buses, bridges, and tunnels. It says this level is in line with an agreement with the governor and state legislature in May 2009 as part of an MTA rescue package.
MTA said the planned increase follows “unprecedented internal cost-cutting initiatives undertaken in response to a $900 million shortfall for 2010 resulting from cuts to State assistance and dramatic downturns in tax revenue.”
MTA stressed that the deficit battle is far from won. The agency released a proposed Four-Year Financial Plan for 2011-2014 that reflects anticipated shortfalls amounting to more than $2.5 billion over the plan period.
One of the Plan's assumptions is that “all employees—both represented and non-represented—would receive a net-zero wage increase for two years.” It also includes another 7.5% increase in fares and tolls in 2013.
“The foundation of this Plan is the most aggressive and comprehensive overhaul in the history of the MTA,” said Jay H. Walder, Chairman and CEO of the MTA (pictured at right). “These actions have allowed us to hold true to our commitment regarding fare increases while maintaining the quantity and quality of service that New Yorkers rely on every day.”
Trainyard Tech, LLC says it has signed a contract with Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. to install the CLASSMASTER™ process control system at Blue Island Yard in Hammond, Ind.
CLASSMASTER™ is built using commercial off-the-shelf products running on the Microsoft Windows XP platform, the company says, allowing a move away from proprietary components and allowing for flexibility and ease of installation and maintenance. Wonderware InTouch is used to provide an easy-to-use, intuitive HMI interface.
Highlights of the CLASSMASTER™ system include: auto calibration; DTC; easily readable loggers; graphic playback; realtime hump list display; eBlock™ electronic track blocking; automatic report generation; NX route control, AEI Integration; PCS system and I/O redundancy; hot standby operation; wireless maintenance PC tablet; remote diagnostics and maintenance; and locomotive speed control. Automatic calibration delivers the highest levels of accuracy quickly. User-friendly data storage and reporting is as detailed as requested, displayed graphically, pictorially, or historically. A lifetime warranty on Trainyard Tech application software accompanies all projects.
The company says the installation at Blue Island Yard is the 14th CLASSMASTER™ system to be installed since its creation in 2003.
Solid earnings in a shaky economy is one reason. The emerging picture of a growth industry is another.
Canadian Pacific second-quarter net increased 97% to C$166.6 million (US$161 million) compared with the second quarter of 2009. Diluted earnings per share were 98 Canadian cents, up 23% from C$0.80 in the 2009 period. Analysts had expected a per-share profit of 83 Canadian cents.
“We leveraged volume growth in the quarter to deliver a solid financial performance through a keen focus on cost management,” said President and CEO Fred Green.
Total revenue was up 20% to C$1.23 billion; operating income increased 48% to C$274.1 million; and the operating ratio improved 430 basis points to 77.8%.
“Markets are likely to remain volatile [but] our proven track record of quickly adjusting our resources to meet changing volume demands position us well for the second half,” said Green.
Norfolk Southern Corp. Tuesday reported second-quarter 2010 net income of $392 million, up 59% from the $247 million posted for second-quarter 2009. The railroad’s operating ratio fell five percentage points to 69.8%, a second-quarter record, from 74.8% during second-quarter 2009.
Diluted earnings per share were $1.04., beating the Wall Street estimate of 99 cents.
“This is our fourth straight quarter of volume growth, and we are optimistic about continued year-over-year increases in rail traffic,” said CEO Wick Moorman (pictured at left).
Second-quarter railway operating revenue increased 31% to $2.4 billion from the second quarter of 2009, primarily as the result of a 22% increase in traffic volume.
General merchandise revenue was $1.3 billion, up 31%. Coal revenue increased 36% to $696 million, and intermodal revenue reached $451 million, 23% higher compared with the second quarter of 2009.
Railway operating expenses were $1.7 billion, up 22%, mainly due to higher compensation and benefits, and fuel expenses. Income from railway operations improved 57% to $733 million.
Wabtec Corp. earned net income of $31.2 million in the second quarter, or 65 cents a share, vs. earnings of $30.8 million or 64 cents a share in the same period last year. The company's second-quarter 2010 earnings topped Wall Street's estimate of 62 cents. Wabtec increased its 2010 earnings forecast to a range of $2.45 to $3.55 a share compared with an earlier $2.40 to $2.50.
Wabtec said its second-quarter sales increased 12% to $374 million, the highest quarterly figure since the first quarter of 2009. Income from operations was $50 million, or 13.3% of sales.
The company said its Freight Group had a strong sales increase due to organic growth and acquisitions.
During the quarter, the company completed the integration of Xorail LLC, which was acquired in mid-March, and announced the formation of a third joint venture in China. After the quarter ended the company announced an agreement to acquire G&B Specialties and Bach-Simpson from Global Railway Industries Ltd.
Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and CEO, said: “We’re pleased with the company’s overall performance in the first half and cautiously optimistic about the balance of 2010, assuming the global economy continues to improve. Our diversified business model, focus on cash generation, investment in growth strategies, and rigorous application of the Wabtec Performance System are serving the company well in the current environment and laying the groundwork for long-term growth.”
L.B. Foster Co. reported Tuesday that net income increased by 125.8% to $6.0 million, or 58 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2010, compared to $2.7 million or $0.26 per share in the same period of 2009. Analysts had expected second-quarter 2010 earnings of 33 cents.
Second-quarter sales increased 20.3% to $119.5 million from $99.3 million in the comparable 2009 quarter. The company said gross profit margin was 17.0%, an increase of 410 basis points from the prior-year quarter principally due to negative adjustments totaling $3.7 million made last year related to concrete tie problems encountered during 2009. Additionally,a $2.1 million improvement in manufacturing variances in the current quarter was partially offset by a $1.1 million reduction in favorable LIFO adjustments.
"Sales were up across all segments in the second quarter of 2010 and our backlog continued at a substantially higher level than it was a year ago,” said Stan Hasselbusch, president and CEO. “While business activity continues to be inconsistent, especially in the industrial markets, we continue to see a general strengthening in activity in most of our businesses. Bookings for the quarter were $120.6 million compared to $115.0 million last year, a 4.9% increase and backlog was $207.2 million, up 41.1% from last year.
“With regard to the Portec acquisition,” said Hasselbusch, “we were pleased to learn that the courts had lifted the preliminary injunction that had enjoined the completion of our tender offer. However, after working with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, we believe that the DOJ will seek some type of restructuring ‘solution’ to alleviate their concern that the acquisition, as proposed, would have an anti-competitive effect with respect to the insulated bonded rail joint product.”
Kansas City Southern reported a second-quarter 2010 profit of $34.6 million, or 34 cents a share, compared with $6.5 million or seven cents a share in last year’s second quarter, thus easily beating Wall Street's consensus estimate of 46 cents for this year quarter. The company also slashed its operating ratio to 72.4%, a record, from 87.4% a year ago.
(KCS said the temporary interruption of some of its Mexican operations by Hurricane Alex would reduce profits by about five cents per share this year. It said most losses will be covered by insurance.)
Revenue rose to $461.6 million in this year’s second quarter, up 35% from the 2009 period. KC said growth wasstrong across the board, with automotive revenue up 292% over second-quarter 2009 on increased auto production in Mexico. Intermodal revenue increased 54% as new business lanes and organic volume growth continued to improve. Other improvements were 42% for Agriculture & Minerals; 31% for Industrial & Consumer Products; 25% for Coal; and 18% for Chemical & Petroleum.
Operating income for the second quarter was $127.2 million, representing a 195% increase from a year ago. Operating expenses in the second quarter increased 12% from a year ago to $334.4 million.
Chairman Michael J. Haverty (pictured at left) commented:
“A year ago, KCS was in the depths of the worst freight recession since the Great Depression. Over the last year, we have seen a steady improvement in traffic levels ... During the quarter, KCS continued to bring on new business and improve operating margins. The reported 72.4% operating ratio is a 15 percentage point improvement from a year ago, and represents a record operating ratio for KCS. Operating expenses excluding fuel were up just 3% on strong increases in volume, demonstrating the continued operating leverage KCS has been able to achieve.
“We raised approximately $215 million from an equity offering during the quarter, and along with existing cash on our balance sheet, we announced plans to reduce our debt levels by $300 million,” Haverty said. “At the end of the second quarter, we had retired approximately $237 million of this debt, and plan to retire the remainder of the announced $300 million during the third quarter. Including the refinancing in January, these transactions significantly improve our financial strength by reducing leverage and lowering our interest expense by approximately $40 million per year. On June 21, 2010, Standard & Poor’s upgraded the company’s long-term ratings to BB- from B and on June 28, 2010, Moody’s Investors Service raised its outlook to positive. Coupled with strong free cash flow being generated by our operations, our financial flexibility has improved substantially.”