A major expansion of New York City's subway system is forging ahead despite operating budget shortfalls that have led to service cuts and higher fares.
MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceau announced Thursday that the main components of the Second Avenue Subway Tunnel Boring Machine, including the 200-ton cutter head, were lowered this week into the Launch Box at at 96th Street for the final stage of assembly (as seen in photo at left). In May, the TBM will begin mining the western tunnel for the new two-track line.
Originally manufactured by the Robbins Company about 30 years ago, the TBM was first used to dig the MTA's 63rd Street Tunnel in the late 1970s and has was been used on at least four other projects. The machine has been reconditioned and was rebuilt in Newark, N, J., at contractor Schiavone's yard.
The TBM, including the trailing gear which contains mechanical and electrical equipment that powers the cutter head, is 450 feet long. The cutter head has 44 rotating discs that will drill and excavate the approximately 7,700 foot-long tunnels.
“The arrival this week of the TBM at Second Avenue is a clear indicator that the MTA is delivering on a major expansion project that will have a dramatic impact on Manhattan's East Side,” said Horodniceau.
Construction of Phase I of the new subway beganin April 2007. When completed (currently set for December 2016), it will serve 213,000 daily riders and is expected to decrease crowding on the adjacent Lexington Avenue Line by as much as 13%, or 23,500 fewer riders on an average weekday. It will also reduce travel times by up to 10 minutes or more (up to 27%)for those on the far east side or those traveling from the East Side to west Midtown.
Helm Environmental Solutions, LLC, a subsidiary of Helm FinancialCorp., on Friday announced its new EPA Tier 0+ compliant remanufacturing kit, 645EcoLogic™, for the EMD 645E Roots Blown engine family.
The 645EcoLogic kit enables reuse of the existing locomotive engine by remanufacturing it to comply with EPA standards. Remanufacturing with the 645EcoLogic kit provides locomotive owners and operators a cost-effective solution to meet the regulations through its use of standard parts and components. The 645EcoLogic kit achieves the required emissions reductions with no fuel consumption penalty, Helm officials say.
Developed jointly by Helm Environmental Solutions and OceanAir Environmental, LLC, the kit has been officially certified by the Environmental Protection Agency to Tier 0+ Switch Locomotive Emission Limits. The kit represents a cost-effective alternative to OEM offerings and gives the rail industry more choice when selecting a 645E remanufacturing solution to meet Tier 0+ emissions standards, Helm says.
“With the United States Environmental Protection Agency establishing timelines for compliance with emissions levels for locomotives,the industry is in need of solutions to meet these regulations. The 645EcoLogic kit has been certified by the EPA to do just that,” said Brad Wind, executive vice president for Helm Financial Corp.
The EPA rules, published in May 2008, require locomotive owners and operators to comply with more stringent emissions standards on all remanufactured locomotives no later than January 1, 2010. According to EPA emissions regulations expert Mahesh Talwar, president and CEO of OceanAir Environmental, “The new rules effectively require any engine overhaul that takes place on or after January 1, 2010 to comply with the EPA standards defined in the Federal Regulations Title 40 Part 1033.”
More information about the645EcoLogic kit is available at www.hlmx.com/HES.
Transportation Certification Services (TCS) has offered training sessions this week at numerous locations, according to TCS President Terese Jones.
TCS is training Guardian Energy employees at its Janesville, Minn., plant, to operate the plant’s locomotive both from the locomotive cab and from the ground via remote control. Guardian Energy LLC is a cooperative effortof six Midwestern farmer-owned ethanol plants. It can produce 100 million gallons of ethanol to be shipped through its connection with the DM&E Railroad.
TCS also is providing training to KAAPA Grain operating employees in Elk Grove, Neb. KAAPA employees will be trained as plant engineers in order to load grain trains delivered by Union Pacific.
Operations training by TCS was ongoing with Wichita Terminal Association in Wichita, Kan. Wichita Terminal Association, a transfer railway, is jointly owned by Union Pacific and BNSF to service more than a dozen industries and grain elevators.
TCS also was assisting the Chadron, Neb.-based Nebkota Railway in recertifying its operating staff to haul grain from its elevators in Chadron via trackagerights to its Class I connection with the DM&E at Dakota Junction.
TCS also offered classes this week in Toronto and in Montreal, recertifying commuter locomotive engineers and training commuter coach and locomotive inspectors.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s visionary proposal to greatly accelerate construction of a dozen transit projects and expedite highway improvement projects won the key approval Thursday of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors.
The so-called 30/10initiative would seek advanced federal funding to build within the next decade a series of light rail, regional, and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) projects throughout Los Angeles County.
In announcing the board’s action, LACMTA noted that “the projects will receive local funding spread over the next three decades under Measure R, a local transportation half-cent sales tax approved by two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters in November 2008. All the projects are slated for construction during the next 30 years.
The 30/10 initiative asks Congress and the Obama Administration to advance funding so the transit projects could get built much faster and generate hundreds of thousandsof construction and other jobs to help jump-start the economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ease traffic congestion. The funding package could include existing or new programs to provide low-interest financing or loan guarantees.
In recent testimony before Congress, Villaraigosa said the benefits of the 30/10 initiative would include “an annual reduction of 568,000 pounds of mobile-source pollutionemissions, 10.3 million fewer gallons of gasoline used, 77 million more transitboardings, and 208 million fewer vehicle miles traveled annually.”
“This is a win-win for the Los Angeles region and the nation,” said LACMTA Chairman Ara Najarian. “If we can leverage our local tax dollars with federal support, we could put as many as half a million people to work in the next 10 years while getting morepeople out of their cars and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a model for other transportation agencies throughout America.”
“Both in Los Angeles and in Washington, D.C., people are getting on board with 30/10 to build sustainable transit projects faster, cleaning the air, and creating jobs. This innovative model to advance funds from Measure R won’t break the federalbank and can be the catalyst to economic recovery in the Los Angeles region,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.
The Association of American Railroads said Thursday that rail carload volume in the United States last week reached its highest level since the week ended Dec. 6, 2008.
U.S. railroads originated 296,599 carloads during the weekended April 17, up 16.1% from the comparable week in 2009, said the AAR. Itnoted, however, that volume was still down 11.6% from the same week in 2008.
U.S. intermodal volume in the latest week added up to 209,903trailers and containers, up 14.6% from last year but down 6.3% from 2008.
Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by a 177.5% increase in metallic ores. Other increases included 68.8% metals, 49% for motor vehicles and equipment, 46.4% for nonmetallic minerals, and 34.5% for primary forest products. Grain was up 12.2%, and coal gained 9.6%. The only commodity still in decline was pulp, paper, and allied products, down 6.7%.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 74,029 cars for the week, up 24.3%, and 47,550 trailers and containers, up 14.8%. Mexico’s two major railroads reported originated volume of 13,624 cars, up 27.8% from last year, and 7,140 trailers and containers, up 42.3%.
Combined North American volume for the first 15 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 5,458,936 carloads, up 7% from last year, and 3,798,266 trailers and containers, up 9.7%.
GATX Corp. has reported 2010 first-quarter net income of $18.7 million, or 40 cents per diluted share, compared to $27.6 million or $.56 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2009. Per-share earnings topped analysts’ consensus estimate of 33 cents.
“As we expected entering 2010, our markets have stabilized at relatively low levels,” said Brian A. Kenney, president and CEO of GATX. “While there are some signs of recovery, they are inconsistent, and we expect to experience revenue pressure until there is sustainable improvement inthe global economy.”
GATX said that on March 31 its North American railcar fleet totaled approximately 109,000 cars, and fleet utilization was 96.0% compared to 95.9% at year-end and 96.5% at March 31, 2009.
“The market remains very competitive as all lessors are competing aggressively to keep their fleets utilized,” said Kenney. “This has resulted in continued downward pressure on renewal lease rates when compared to expiring rates, as GATX’s LPI [Lease Price Index] was a negative 15.2% in the first quarter, compared to negative 18.7% in the 2009 fourth quarter and negative 5.5% in the prior-year period. The average lease renewal term for cars in the LPI was 31 months compared to 43 months in the 2009 fourth quarter and 45 months in the prior-year period.”
The European wholly-owned tank car fleet totaled approximately 20,000 cars, and utilization was 94.4% compared to 94.7% at year end and 96.5% on March 31, 2009.
L.B. Foster Co. came out of the first quarter with a record quarterly backlog, though revenue and earnings for the period were down.
The company reported net income of $1.8 million or $0.17 per diluted share in the quarter, compared to $3.0 million or $0.29 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2009. First-quarter sales declined 19.3% to $82.0 million from $101.6 million in the prior-year quarter.
“While sales were down across all segments in the first quarter of 2010, we were pleased with the business booked during the quarter and our backlog was substantially higher at the end of the first quarter than it was a year ago,” said Stan Hasselbusch, president and CEO. “Additionally, cost controls and pay for performance incentive plans helped mitigate the negative impact to income.
“While business activity continues to be inconsistent, especially in the industrial markets, we have seen a general strengthening in activity in most of our businesses,” said Hasselbusch. “Bookings for the quarter were $106.1 million compared to $99.9 million last year, a 6.2% increase. Backlog was $204.8 million, up 53.1% from last year, which corroborates the strengthening mentioned above. I am pleased to report that our first-quarter backlog is the largest we have ever had. In March, we acquired certain assets of Interlocking Deck Systems International, LLC, a fabricator of Bridge Products, which will fit nicely in our existing Fabricated Products Division.”
Union Pacific announced Thursday that its diluted earnings per share in this year's first quarter improved 40% to $1.01 on revenue of $4.0 billion, compared with the first quarter of 2009, exceeding Wall Street estimates of 95 cents a share and revenue of $3.8 billion.
Net income increased 43% to $516 million. Operating income totaled $988 million, up 47%, producing an operating ratio of 75.1%, a first-quarter record and 5.3 points better than first-quarter 2009.
“Union Pacific’s record first quarter was a strong start for the year,” said Jim Young, Union Pacific chairman and chief executive officer (pictured at left). “We saw quarterly volume growth on our railroad for the first time in two years, and we leveraged that volume by running a safe, service-focused, and efficient network. These efforts resulted in a best-ever first quarter operating ratio and generated strong cash from operations, setting a solid foundation for future opportunity and growth.”
First-quarter carload volumes grew 13% from the 2009 quarter. Five of six business groups reported quarterly growth, with only Energy volumes declining versus first-quarter 2009. Volume growth contributed to a 16% increase in first-quarter operating revenue of $4.0 billion versus $3.4 billion in the first quarter of 2009.
“ As we believe the case will be for all of the publicly traded railroads, first-quarter 2010 marked UP’s return to year-over-year volume growth,” said Dahlman Rose Director Equity Research and Railway Age Contributing Editor Jason Seidl. “For the western giant, this was the first reported quarterly growth in two years. While this is partly due to easy year-over-year comparisons, the magnitude of such effect has been decreasing, being progressively replaced by real strengthening in market demand. UP’s milestone achievements in volume growth did not occur at the expense of pricing. Core pricing was up 3% in the quarter . . . [and] is already trending near 4% in the second quarter. As in the case of CSX, UP was able to translate a strong top line, which was the outcome of the strength in volumes and pricing, into robust operating profits. We believe this is largely due to UP, and the railroad industry as a whole, possessing a high degree of operating leverage that allows for taking on incremental business without the need for a significant ramp up in operating resources.”
Said Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene, “Both CSX and UP results confirm that our bullish rail thesis is on track. We've argued that rails with the most volume growth and significant (highly lucrative) export franchises (coal or grain) are best positioned to generate significant beats (EPS exceeding Wall Street estimates) during the first quarter.”
International rail exhibition often have shrugged at the relative dearth of participation from North American suppliers and/or paltry attendance figures from the North American continent. But that may change at this year’s InnoTrans 2010 conference, to take place Sept. 21-24 in Berlin, conference organizers say.
“One reason for this is President Obama’s announcement pledging to invest $8 billion . . . in setting up a high speed railway network,” InnoTrans officials say. “Gradually opening up the U.S. railway market, hitherto largely closed to outsiders, is also having a positive effect on InnoTrans 2010. More exhibitors and attendees from the U.S. than ever before are expected to attend.”
InnoTrans currently counts “23 companies on the list of U.S. exhibitors, including major companies such as GE Transportation, Progress Rail Services, Wabtec Corp., Electro-Motive Diesel, and Cisco Systems.”
Other U.S.players, including railroad executives, are also expected in Berlin, according to Matthias Steckmann, director at Messe Berlin. “This year we expect an increased number of attendees from the U.S.A. Thus 500 mostly senior managers, [involved with] construction, design, and maintenance of railway infrastructure, have agreed totake part. Major railway companies such as Amtrak as well as transport companies from New York, Chicago, New Jersey, and Vancouver (in Canada) are sending numerous representatives to Berlin.”
Steckmann adds that U.S. suppliers Timken, L. B. Foster, Railquip, Loram, Magnus, and Miner are among those expected to attend this year’s event. Beyond that, “The fact that the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association will take part in InnoTrans for the first time rounds off this picture very positively,” he says.