The Cincinnati City Council, in a 6-2 vote Wednesday, approved a $64 million bond measure to generate local funds for a $128 million streetcar project, following the recommendation made Monday by a finance committee to approve the plan.
Concerns over debt financing were allayed, to some degree, by a new arrangement to cover the debt with money from tax increment financing, proceeds from the sale of the Blue Ash airport, and use of city capital.
The streetcar route currently is planned to run from the Great American Ball Park north through the city to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, including a stop at the University of Cincinnati.
Those opposed to the project, defeated last year in a vote to reject the streetcar project, still hope to block the plan. Some speculate that former Mayor Tom Luken, an opponent, will mount a petition campaign to once again put the streetcar issue on the ballot this November.
A final public hearing takes place Thursday night on a proposed one-cent sales tax referendum before Hillsborough County (Fla.) commissioners decide whether to advance plans for light rail transit in Tampa. The sales tax, if approved by voters in November, would be used to fund LRT construction.
At issue is not just the referendum itself, butwhich of two routes initially to be funded. "For the moment, yes, we're looking at the red line, [University of South Florida] to Bruce B. Downs/Downtown, and then the portion of the blue line would take you into Westshore and just connect to the outside of [Tampa International Airport] by one mile," said David Armijo, a spokesman for Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART).
“I think the ridership numbers are what's going to drive it,” said Ray Chiaramonte, a member of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, who noted LRT access to and from the airport could aid ridership numbers.
HART is waiting on the results of a study to determine how to proceed. “Which is the best project that we can advance or do we link the two projects together,” said Armijo. “That's still under consideration.”
Supporters of the LRT proposal include Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and the Tampa Bay Partnership, a non-profit business advocacy group. Opponents include perennial anti-rail forces who, among other things, have routinely targeted the existing 2.3-mile, 12-station TECO streetcar line in downtown Tampa, serving the city’s waterfront, calling rail transit a “misuse” of transportation dollars.
Canadian National said Wednesday it has pioneered a modal shift protocol that will create new carbon offset project opportunities for British Columbia's transportation sector.
CN President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau said Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT), a Crown corporation and leading provider of offsets in British Columbia, has agreed to recognize the protocol for modal shift offset projects in the province. Theprotocal allows companies to generate carbon offsets by shifting freightshipments to rail from truck, following detailed, specific set of instructions on how to carry out an offset project.
Shippers that demonstrate lower emissions from using a modal shift and meet the British Columbia Emission Offsets Regulation can use the resulting offsets to generate revenue through the sale of the offsets to PCT. Emission reductions may also help reduce carbon taxes and/or help companies meet their emissions reduction goals.
Said Mongeau, “Freight transportation is an important part of the North American economy and a major producer of greenhouse gases (GHG). The modal shift protocol is a powerful tool for shippers seeking ways of reducing GHG emissions, and will simultaneously help to reduce heavy truck activity on highways. We hope other jurisdictions across North America will also adopt this innovative modal shift protocol as they develop new measures to combat climate change.”
According to the 2007 British Columbia Provincial Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, transportation accounts for 37% of provincial GHG emissions, the largest share by sector.
Railinc Corp. announced Wednesday that it has launched a Railinc TrainFaxTM website that now delivers current rail equipment information in a single report designed for equipment owners, lessees, investors, insurers, inspectors, and other professionals conducting asset-related research. A sample TrainFax report is available on the product website at www.railinc.com/trainfax.
“Railinc’s new TrainFax website greatly improves access to information about rail equipment by consolidating data into a standardized report,” said Rob Drew, Railinc product manager. “It scans more than two million rail equipment records and hundreds of thousands of health alerts each time it generates a report, saving researchers both time and money. TrainFax users can be confident that they have current and accurate data to inform their equipment ownership decisions.”
A complete Railinc TrainFax report includes equipment ownership information, inspection reports, maintenance alerts, transportation restrictions, and equipment characteristics such as weight, dimensions, features, and specifications. Reports are available for all rail equipment types, including locomotives.
Bombardier Transportation said Wednesday that it, in consortium with China Railway Signal & Communication Corp. (CRSC), has won two further orders from Pakistan Railways (PR) to install INTERFLO 200 mainline signaling on connecting sections of the Karachi-Lahore line.
The two integrated contracts are valued at approximately $99 million, with Bombardier’s share amounting to $44 million, and $31 million, with Bombardier’s share at $14 million. The systems to be delivered are the same as what Bombardier is delivering to PR for the Bin Qasim to Mirpur Mathelo Double Line section of the line, announced last February.
Bombardier, the consortium leader, is responsible for the design, manufacture, supply, installation, and commissioning of the signaling system on a turnkey basis for 430 kilometers (267 miles) of right-of-way, including 31 stations. The technology will be delivered on the Lahore (Shahdrah Bagh) to Khanewal and Khanewal to Lodhran (via Multan) sections of the Karachi-Lahore line. The system will be based on Bombardier’s globally installed EBI Lock 950computer-based interlocking (CBI) and EBI Screen 2000 control center systems.
Bombardier Head of Rail Control Solutions Asia Region Richard Hunter said, “Securing these new orders is a significant achievement, resulting from our strong commitment to the region, represented by the location of our signaling business regional head office in Bangkok and with capability to undertake all major elements of the project in Asia.”
Said Anders Lindberg, president, Bombardier Transportation’s Rail Control Solutions, “We are very pleased to have won these two additional and major contracts with the Pakistan Railways. This is not only testimony to the trust in our technology and project delivery but also the growing strengthof our relationship. We look forward to working together closely as part of the rail modernization program in Pakistan.”
Bombardier said its INTERFLO200 system is typically used for busy, mainline networks, allowing reduced headways and offering higher safety levels. INTERFLO 200 can complement a national automatic train protection (ATP) system and can also be upgraded to European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) operation.
Li Rose Cheng, a Senior System Software Engineer at Portec Rail Products Inc. subsidiary Salient Systems Inc. since 1997, has been promoted to Vice President, Business Development-Asia, with responsibility for all facets of Salient’s business in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and the Pacific Rim. Her duties developing Salient’s expanded presence in Asia include directing sales and marketing activities as well as establishing operations and service capabilities “necessary to deliver systems and services in this region,” the company said. A native of Mainland China, Cheng will continue to be based in Dublin, though she will spend significant time in Asia.
Cheng holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Zhejiang University, an M.S. Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Franklin University.
“Salient Systems recently received new customer orders from China, and Li Rose Cheng was instrumental in this successful penetration into this rapidly growing market for our Fault Detection products,” said Portec Rail Products Inc. President and CEO Richard Jarosinski. “We are excited about the future business opportunities in Asia that she will develop.”
A report posted Tuesday by the Surface Transportation Board shows that BNSF led the “Big Four” Class I railroads in rate of return for the 12 months ended March 1.
BNSF posted an ROI of 9.49% for the period, down from 10.01% for the prior 12 months. UP had an ROI of 8.65%, down from 9.77%. Norfolk Southern’s return was 8.58%, compared with 12.27% at the same time last year; and CSX Transportation reported an ROI of 7.79%, down from 8.82%.
The CP/Soo Line reported the largest ROI for the 12 months ended March 31 and the only increase: 12.86% vs. 12.31%.
Kansas City Southern came in with a 6.778% return, down from 7.49%. CN/Grand Trunk Western’s latest ROI was 6.66%, down from8.37%.
The rate of return for all Class I railroads for the latest 12 months was 8.57%, down from 9.9%. That was a 14% decline, right in line with the 14% drop in operating revenue for the period.
The 12 months covered by the STB’s latest report ended with this year's first quarter, and revenue and earnings for that period reflected the recent upturn in the economy. While the STB did not give ROIs for the quarter, it did show revenue ton-miles up 5.4%, operating revenue up 13.1%, net railway operating income up 28.5%, and net income up 39%.
Gunderson LLC, a unit of The Greenbrier Cos., said Monday it will appeal a plan adopted by Portland, Ore., to protect the Willamette River, claiming the plan inflicts economic hardship on businesses and residents.
“Gunderson remains aligned with the overall objectives of the Plan to promote a clean river and a healthy waterfront economy; however, the Company believes the Plan fails to strike appropriate balance and is punitive to jobs-producing businesses on the waterfront and in the Northwest Industrial Sanctuary,” the company said in a statement.
“Specifically, the Company contends that in passing the Plan, Portland acted inconsistently with Oregon’s Land Use Planning goals, failed to meet the Plan’s objectives, and created an incomplete Plan. The City sent out notice on April 21, 2010 that the ordinance had been adopted, triggering a 21-day deadline for any appeals to be filed.”
Greenbrier Cos. President and CEO William A. Furman, in a statement, said, “A clean river and healthy economy are not mutually exclusive goals. Everybody has spent considerable time and resources to make the River Plan work. However, there are 40,000 family wage jobs at stake in the 11 miles of the already highly regulated North Reach of the Willamette River. Unfortunately, little progress has been made on resolving the details that are the focus of our concerns.
“The ordinance puts jobs at risk and has other serious flaws,” Furman continued. “We are especially concerned about the additional and redundant layer of regulation imposed by the City of Portland on industry and jobs already hit hard by the economic downturn and struggling to compete globally. We have no choice but to seek remedy at the Oregon State Land Use Board of Appeals.”
Gunderson, located on a deepwater facility on the Willamette River, currently employs 670 personnel, down from peak employment of about 1,200, the company said.