U.S. freight carload traffic continued to record gains during the week ending Nov. 20, 2010, the Association of American Railroads reported Wednesday, up 3.9% compared with the same week in 2009. U.S. intermodal trafficrose a more robust 10.6%, continuing the show of strength intermodal has displayed throughout 2010.
AAR said 14 of the 19 carload commodity groups it measures increased from the comparable week in 2009. Commodities posting double-digit gains in loadings included: metallic ores, up 76.7%; metals, up 22.3%; crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 21.1%; and farm products other than grain, up 14.5%.
Among commodities reporting declines, nonmetallic minerals was hit hardest, down 26.1%. But AAR noted that for the first 46 weeks of 2010, all 19 commodity groups are cumulatively ahead of where they were at this point year ago.
Canadian freight carload traffic advanced 5.0% for the week ending Nov. 20, while intermodal rose 12.8% from levels of one year ago. Mexico’s two major railroads reported freight carload traffic rose 6.3% from the same week last year, while intermodal rose a relatively modest 1.8%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 46 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 9.4% from 2009, while intermodal rose 14.8% over last year’s levels.
In a speech Wednesday at a plenary session of the 5th Russian-Chinese Economic Forum in Moscow, Russian Railways (RZD) President Vladimir Yakunin noted, “Over the coming decade, the volume of direct rail freight with Chinacould increase by 50%-to-100%.”
Yakunin said that freight rail transport accounts for a substantial share of external trade freight between the two countries. During the first 10 months of 2010, the volume of rail freight between the countries increased by 33%.
The vast majority (93.9%) of cargo comprises Russian oil, timber, chemical, and mineral fertilizer exports, but in 2010, with the greater volume of Chinese machine and technical goods deliveries, imports also started to gradually increase, RZD said.
“Russian Railways [is] paying close attention to improving transport provision and developing rail and terminal-logistic infrastructure on the main freight routes between Russia and China,” Yakunin said.
RZD said one potential area for expanding cooperation is container freight from northwest Chinese provinces with no direct access to the coast via Russian Far East ports, for subsequent delivery to south China, Japan, South Korea, and other countries.
Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation said Tuesday Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) train service will begin serving T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., beginning Monday, Dec. 6. MBTA trains will make six stops Monday through Friday on its service linking Providence and Boston (shared by Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor services).
The T.F. Green Station is part of the $267 million InterLink project for RIDOT and the Rhode Island Airport Corp. (RIAC). Rhode Island signed an operations agreement with the MBTA on Sept. 30 to create the South County Commuter Rail service, which expands commuter rail service in Rhode Island south of Providence. The InterLink officially opened on Oct. 27.
“Expanded commuter rail in Rhode Island is just two weeks away,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “This service gives enhanced options toget to your office or T.F. Green Airport or wherever your final destination is.”
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates the Municipal Railway (MUNI), has announced Phase Two of the California Cable Car Infrastructure Improvement Project will require the closure of the California Cable Car Line for six months, beginning in January.
SFMTA and DPW will replace aging underground components ofthe cable car line and repave 17 blocks on California Street between Drumm Street and Van Ness Avenue.
“The care and stewardship of the cable cars, a National Historic Landmark, are a vital part of our Capital Improvement Program,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA executive director and CEO. “As we continue to reinvest in MUNI, we invest in the future of San Francisco.”
SFMTA and the Department of Public Works (DPW) began Phase One of the project in September, involving sidewalk curb repairs, sewer replacement, and curb ramps installation along 17 blocks of California Street between Van Ness Avenue and Drumm Street. Operations continued during Phase One.
Besides underground component upgrades, Phase Two work also includes reconstruction of concrete streets between Mason Street and Kearny Street and street repaving along California Street, as well as any residual work remaining from Phase One.
Trinity Railroad Express in the Dallas-Fort Worth (Tex.) Metroplex will move a fare zone boundary west by two miles starting Dec. 6, from West Irving Station to CentrePort/DFW Airport Station, according to a joint statement from Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Fort Worth Transit Authority.
“This adjustment balances the fare structure for customers traveling west from Dallas. Now customers from either side of the region can access the airport for the same price,” DART spokesman Morgan Lyons explained to Railway Age.
For example, Tarrant County (Fort Worth-area) riders taking TRE to the American Airlines Center from CentrePort/DFW Airport Station will be able to ride for a one-zone fare instead of the current two-zone fare. TRE riders traveling from Dallas-area TRE Stations, who previously paid a two-zone fare to go to CentrePort to get to DFW Airport, will only have to purchase a one-zone fare.
The current county line boundary at the West Irving Station was originally established to reflect DART’s operation within Dallas County and TRE’s service in Tarrant County. But CentrePort Station reportedly has become the largest midpoint station for boardings on the TRE route.
The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) has presented the 2010 William W. Hay Award for Excellencein railway engineering to Norfolk Southern’s Heartland Corridor project.
The award was presented during the AREMA 2010 Annual Conference and Exposition in Orlando, Fla.
STV provided construction management services for the $190million project, which removed obstructions from 28 tunnels and seven bridges in the 530-mile rail corridor between Columbus, Ohio, and Norfolk, Va. This will help cut about a day’s transit for double-stacked container trains between the East Coast and the Midwest.
The award honors the late Dr. William W. Hay, an academic leader in railroad engineering for more than 25 years. This is the 12th year AREMA has presented the award.
FreightCar America, Inc. said Monday it will begin production of 162 heavy-duty steel ballast cars for an undisclosed customer within a few months. This is a specialty car type with which FreightCar America has had significant experience since 2007.
The 110-ton capacity cars feature automatic doors with a remote control and solar-powered activation system. This provides for additional productivity and operator safety during the unloading process, the company said.
Ted Baun, FreightCar America’s senior vice president, marketing and sales, said, “This order continues our leadership in specialty cars that exceed our customers’ performance requirements in demanding, heavy-duty service.”