A U.S. high speed rail program relying in part on state funding contributions is a problematic proposal at best, according to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office. In fact, state budget difficulties could cause delays in advancing those projects already bankrolled with startup stimulus funds from the federal government under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
GAO, stating what some in the rail industry consider obvious, observes that building a U.S. HSR network will require funding “far beyond the funds provided by the ARRA in a time of continuing federal and state deficits. The Obama Administration has acknowledged that the $8 billion funding package was only a “down payment” toward such a network.
GAO said, “Rail industry stakeholders are optimistic that they can meet increased public investment in intercity passenger rail; however,they are looking for (1) federal leadership in setting safety standards for high speed rail and in promoting interstate cooperation for service across state lines, among other things, and (2) stable funding to create a structure for developing a passenger rail marketplace.”
“Additionally, stakeholders said that a stable federal funding stream would encourage [private] firms to enter and invest in the intercity passenger rail marketplace,” GAO said, noting federal funding’s potential influence on the railroad supply industry.
“However, even with strong federal leadership and funding, it could take several years to provide the necessary infrastructure, such as for building new passenger railcars, potentially making it difficult to spend some Recovery Act high speed rail funds by 2017, as required by law,” GAO said.
T.Y. Lin International announced Tuesday that it has named Joseph Pizzurro, P.E., to the post of Director of Transit/RailEngineering in its New York City office. Pizzurro will be responsible for leading teams on projects for Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro-North Railroad, MTA Long Island Rail Road, MTA New York City Transit, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Pizzurro joins TYLI from AECOM, where he was associate vice president, senior project manager, handling projects for several rail agencies in the New York Metropolitan area.
“I am extremely pleased that Joe has joined our team here in New York. He has an outstanding reputation for hands-on management and uncompromising client service,” said Jim Steere, TYLI vice president, New York Metro Operations. “Joe also has an extraordinary depth of knowledge, not only technically, but also in the understanding of how the railand transit industry connects with the broader infrastructure on a local and regional level. He will be a powerful asset to our firm and the clients that we serve.”
Wabtec Corp. announced Tuesday that it has formed a joint venture in China known as Wabtec Golden Bridge Transportation Technology to manufacture couplers for transit systems. The joint venture's first order is a $7 million contract to provide couplers for subway cars for the Hangzhou Metro line in Zhejiang province.
The other partner in the venture is Hangzhou Golden Bridge Railway Equipment Co., Ltd., which Wabtec said offers operational and marketing expertise in the Chinese transit market.
“With this JV and its first contract, we have continued to increase our presence in China, one of the fastest-growing rail markets in the world,” said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer. “This rapidly growing market offers significant growth potential, as we develop ways to leverage our technology and product expertise.”
Pennsylvania has allotted $1 million for a solar-power field on part of a Superfund site at the Paoli, Pa., rail yard, as part of a plan for a new transportation facility, state officials said Monday. The solar facility will cover three acres. Construction is to begin in the fall and be complete by the end of the year.
The energy generated by the panels will feed into a substation in the yard that provides electricity for SEPTA and Amtrak on Amtrak’s Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg line. The panels are expected to contribute 2% of the energy used daily by Amtrak and SEPTA.
The project is part of a larger $50 million plan to build a new Paoli train station and parking garage several blocks west of the current facility. The substation would also be replaced. The rail yard also has benefitted from $20 million in environmental remediation.
Riders on New Mexico's Rail Runner Express trains can sign up for text alerts about significant delays, the Mid-Region County of Governments said Monday.
The messages will only cover delays estimated at 10 minutes or more and come with the warning that late trains can make up time en route. Major delays and cancellations may be sent as detailed voice messages, according to MRCOG.
Messages will be sent during Rail Runner's customer service hours of 6 a.m.-to-9 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-to-8 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m.-to-8 p.m. Sunday.
Depending on the customers' cell or pager plan they may incur a per-message fee, MRCOG said.
France’s Alstom, Russia’s Transmashholding, and Kazakh Railways have signed an agreement for the creation of a joint venture company to produce electric locomotives in Kazakhstan.
The parties signed the agreement at the 14th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia. The move follows a Memorandum on Mutual Cooperation signed on June 3 by the three parties in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Both Alstom and Transmashholding will contribute technology to the joint venture. Production of components will gradually be moved from those companies' respective facilities to a site within Kazakhstan. The agreement allows for additional locomotive manufacturing within Kazakhstan for export to other nations, once the requirements of Kazakh Railways is satisfied.
As Washington, D.C. struggles to plant its first new streetcar line within the district’s northeast quadrant, planners are considering a new 1.8-mile streetcar route along 14th Street, Northwest, tying the proposal to both a redeveloped Washington Metro bus garage and economic development.
The proposed route would traverse several middle-income communities, including Petworth, 16th Street Heights, Brightwood Park, and Crestwood. The century-old Metro bus garage, which D.C. government planners consider “potentially historic,” spans two blocks between 14th Street and Iowa Avenue.
A solicitation for a contractor to lead a study of the corridor closed June 10. The winner will be announced by the end of July. The contractor will be asked to develop t a vision and strategy for the 14th Street route that enlivens retail, creates greener public spaces, and redevelops key “opportunity sites,” such as the bus garage.
The proposed 14th Street route currently is not included in the district’s long-range streetcar plan, which envisions eight lines totaling 37 route miles.
Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Monday CSX will be expanding its Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) system located at the Class I railroad’s Boyles Yard in Birmingham, Ala.
RailComm will provide modifications to the existing DOC® Server to add graphical control for additional switch and gate locations. RailComm’s 2.4 GHz RADiANT™ data radios will provide a wireless communications network to link the office with the field locations.
Transportation experts say the budget-squeezed British government could reap as much as 1.5 billion pounds ($2.23 billion) from the planned sale of HS1 Ltd, which has a 30-year concession to run state-owned 110-kilometer (62-mile) High Speed 1 line which links central London to the Channel Tunnel.
The line also serves Stratford in east London and Ebbsfleet and Ashford in Kent.
Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond announced the sale on Monday. The line is currently operated by the government-owned London and Continental Railways.
“The money generated by this sale will make an early significant contribution to the crucial task of reducing the publicsector debt,” Hammond said. “But the sale will also bring benefits to passengers as the successful private bidder will be incentivised to attract new operators serving new routes.”
The government said Channel tunnel operator Groupe Eurotunnel SA is working on a bid with Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners, its biggest shareholder, and with Infracapital, the infrastructure arm of Prudential unit M&G, another big shareholder.
Other sources said potential bidders could include funds such as 3i Infrastructure Plc; Deutsche Bank’s RREEF unit; Morgan Stanley Infrastructure; and Borealis Infrastructure, a unit of Canadian pension plan Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
France’s SNCF and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn may also be interested.
“The Government does not have to run everything directly,” said Hammond, the new Conservative government’s transport chief. “We need totake prompt action where private enterprise can provide both a better deal anda superior service to the public.”