Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has authorized a $320,000 technical assistance grant to pay for planning efforts in 15 cities and towns southeast of Boston to create mixed-used economic development projects, and to preserve open space, in conjunction with expanding regional rail service.
The South Coast Rail Corridor Project would extend Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority regional rail service to Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford, Mass., and nearby municipalities, and the grant’s purpose also is to help revive local economic development. Massachusetts’ Department of Transportation, overseeing the project, notes, “The cities of Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford are the only cities within 50miles of Boston that are not served by commuter rail.”
Rail-highway grade crossing fatalities in this year’s first six months increased 13.6% to 125 compared with the same period last year. Trespasser fatalities were up 20.1% to 227.
These relatively steep increases—in two areas beyond the direct control of railroads—pushed the Federal Railroad Administration’s official tally of railroad fatalities in this year's first half up 18.5% to 371% compared with last year’s first half.
First-half train accidents caused six fatalities vs. one last year, and employee fatalities totaled 11 compared with 10 last year.
With 747 railroads reporting, the latest safety numbers compiled by the FRA’s Office of Safety Analysis, released Sept. 30, showed a total of 5,488 accidents/incidents in this year’s first six months, up less than 1% from last year.
Collisions were down 6.1% to 62, derailments dropped 1.8% to 642, and yard accidents dropped 0.6% to 492.
U.S. railroad intermodal volume reached a weekly record in 2010 for the week ending Sept. 25, up 17% from the comparable week in 2009, theAssociation of American Railroads said Thursday. Within the intermodal category, container traffic set its highest count on record for the second straight week, up 19.2%.
The week’s intermodal volume still trailed the comparable 2008 week by 2.1%, but container volume beat the 2008 level by 6%.
U.S. freight carload traffic for the week rose 10.7% compared with the same week in 2009, but was still down 8.2% from the same week in 2008. Seventeen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, with only primary forest products, down 2.1%, and non-metallic minerals, down 1.5%, posting declines. Farm products excluding grain, up 63.9%, led those commodity groups with increases from 2009.
Canadian freight carload traffic for the week advanced 10.3% over 2009, while intermodal rose 14.2%. Mexico’s two major railroads reported freight carload traffic rose 24.7%, while intermodal grew 24.%.
Combined North American freight carload traffic for the first 38 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 9.9% over the comparable 2009 period, while intermodal rose 15.2%.
Bombardier Transportation announced Wednesday it has signed a contract with Trenitalia (Italian Railways) for the delivery of 50 very high speed trainsets V300ZEFIRO, a model of Bombardier’s ZEFIRO high speed trains family. The V300ZEFIRO, known as ETR 1000 in Italy, has been developed in partnership with AnsaldoBreda, a subsidiary of the Finmeccanica group of Italy.
The total contract is valued at $2.10 billion. Bombardier’s share of the contract is valued at $449 million.
The V300ZEFIRO has a capacity for 600 passengers and is capable of commercial speeds of up to 360 km/h (about 225 mph). It is fully interoperable and will provide cross-border service, taking Trenitalia’s passengers to other European countries without the need for changing trains, Bombardier said.
André Navarri, president and COO, Bombardier Transportation,said, “We are very proud to have received the confidence of Trenitalia. It is another demonstration of our leadership in the development of new generation very high speed trains, a flagship segment of the railway industry market.”
Under the technical leadership of Bombardier, the production, testing, and commissioning of the V300ZEFIRO for Italy will take place in Italy at AnsaldoBreda sites and the Bombardier site in Vado Ligure, Italy. Other Bombardier sites will also participate in the development of the new train, such as the Bombardier high speed trains engineering hub site located in Hennigsdorf, Germany.
Bombardier says it now is delivering 210 train cars of the ZEFIRO family, noting earlier orders from China. The first-generation ZEFIRO250 is already operating in China.
Stephane Rambaud Measson, president, Passengers Division, Bombardier Transportation, said, “Our success in this market segmentdemonstrates that customers have welcomed the innovation we have brought into making the ZEFIRO high speed family about more than just speed.”
Radio Frequency Systems (RFS), a global wireless and broadcast infrastructure specialist, says it can offer rail operators four new antennas specifically designed to help them meet Positive Train Control (PTC) requirements. RFS says the omnidirectional and yaga antennas have been developed and built with direct input from rail operators, offering them flexibility, high performance, ruggedness, and reliability.
RFS’ two new dual-band exposed dipole omni antennas are designed for switching yards, base stations, and mountainous, curving geographies where line of sight is challenging and broad coverage is required. They operate atboth 160-165 MHz and 218-225 MHz, eliminating the need to change antennas when PTC applications are implemented.
For added flexibility, RFS’ new dual-band omni antennas support both omnidirectional and offset pattern configurations. With the offset pattern option, rail operators benefit from improved gain for better coverage and an improved front-to-back ratio for reduced interference. All pattern adjustments can be made in the field as requirements change.
RFS’ new single-band (390x-6 Series) and dual-band yagi (390DB-3/6) antennas are designed for point-to-point control station, paging, and repeater applications along linear tracks where highly directional coverage is required. For immediate PTC requirements, single- and dual-yagi antennas that operate at 218-225MHz are available. For added flexibility, dual-band yagi antennas that operate at both 160-165 MHz and 218-225 MHz are also available.
All RFS yagi antennas for rail operators feature a high front-to-back ratio of 15-20 dBd to reduce interference and are built with solid aluminum rods for high strength, low weight and corrosion resistance. They also support up to 500 watts of input power for superior coverage.
The single-band, single-yagi antenna is a five-element structure that supports either vertical or horizontal polarization. The single-band, dual-yagi antenna is a 10-element structure that consists of two single yagis with a coaxial divider. The dual-yagi antenna offers a gain of 11dBd, which is 3 dBd higher than the single-yagi antenna.
The dual-band yagi antennas are equipped with five elements for each band. These antennas feature a very high gain of 8 dBd in each frequency range and a very narrow beamwidth (72 degrees horizontal and 52 degrees vertical).
Russian Railways’ (RZD) Trans-Siberian Railway traffic rose 23% in the first eight months of 2010, according to RZD President Vladimir Yakunin, while international freight on the railway rose 45%. Yakunin made the observations at a plenary session of the Coordinating Council on Transsiberian Transportation (CCTT) in Bratislava, Slovakia.
“Despite tougher competition from sea and road transport, Russian and foreign companies are working successfully despite the economic crisis to maintain and even expand freight volumes, and are achieving positive results with their new projects,” Yakunin said.
Yakunin cited the work of the CCTT with European and Asian companies to attract transit freight to the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Included in the effort is the Trans-Eurasia Logistics Co., a joint venture of Deutsche Bahn Mobility, Polzug, and Kombiferker. Since June, the joint venture has been working, with the support of TransContainer and DB Intermodal, to provide regular container freight services between Duisburg, Germany, and Moscow.
Indra, a Spanish company, announced that it was awarded a “multimillion” dollar contract to implement contactless smart card ticketing technology on the Metro St. Louis light rail and bus networks.
Metro operates the St. Louis metropolitan region’s public transportation system, carrying more than 53 million passengers throughout 200 municipalities in Missouri and Illinois.
Indra will design a system for a network covering 37 stations and nearly 70 bus routes. Indra will also upgrade the current systems to include new automatic ticket dispensing, cancellation, and validation systems to replace older equipment.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood submitted a progress report on the National Rail Plan to Congress this week with the comment that it “reaffirms the commitment of the Congress and President Obama to build a high speed and intercity passenger rail system while preserving the nation's premier freight rail network.”
Noting the success of two historic transportatio ninitiatives—President Lincoln’s action enabling "the first transcontinental railroad” and President Eisenhower’s backing of the Interstate HighwaySystem—LaHood (pictured at left) said:
“The next American transformation will require an interconnected and balanced transportation network, that maximizes the efficiencies of every mode. A key to integrating these systems is high-performing rail, including the spectrum of high speed and intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, and freight rail ... This investment will set the stage for the creation of environmental sustainability and economic competitiveness.”
“High performance freight rail” is the subject of much of the National Rail Plan.
“Key investments will be needed to meet future growth in freight demand,” says the progress report, though there is no mention of the federal participation envisioned by many railroaders in the construction of high-capacity intermodal rail corridors that would relieve the public highways of some of their truck burden. The report does note that compared with other industries, “the freight railroads invest one of the highest percentages of revenues to maintain and add capacity to their systems.”
Canadian National says its new supply chain approach to managing the flow of coal from mines to west coast terminals helped increase coal shipments to Vancouver and Prince Rupert by 91% through August. Other factors were rebounding Asian steel markets and business from new mines.
CN said the strategy is centered on “metrics that make the supply chain more transparent to CN managers—a weekly report shows how much coal is on hand at export terminals and mines, the arrival date of vessels at the ports, the amount of coal being shipped from mines, and the number of trains en route to and from the mines.”
“This end-to-end view of our coal supply chain, along with a focus on closer customer collaboration, improves coal logistics, which in turn allows coal producers to maximize sale opportunities," said Andy Gonta, CN vice-president of bulk commodities. “This approach also positions the railway and its customers to anticipate and solve any bottleneck issues well before they reach the boiling point.”
Neil Winkelmann, chief operating officer of Western Coal Corp., believes that “Western Coal will significantly expand its operations in northeastern British Columbia over the next three years, and can only do so with the support of key suppliers such as CN.”