Raymond A. Atkins will become the Surface Transportation Board’s general counsel effective Sept. 1, Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III announced Thursday. Atkins will succeed Ellen D. Hanson, who served the Surface Transportation Board and its predecessor agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission, for 35 years and who retired last month.
Atkins has been an attorney since 2003 in the STB general counsel’s office where he has handled the Board's major rate cases. He has served as chief of staff to Elliott since August 2009.
Elliott also announced that Timothy J. Strafford will become his new chief of staff. Strafford has worked in the STB’s Office of Proceedings since 1999. Since 2006, he has served as assistant to the director of the Office of Proceedings. From November 2009 to June 2010 he was detailed to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
An Ontario judge has granted a group of Canadian National employees class action status in a dispute for unpaid overtime. Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell released his decision Wednesday.
The class action was advanced on behalf of roughly 1,500 current and former CN first line supervisors. Michael McCracken alleges CN has misclassified first line supervisors as managers and that they are entitled, like other employees, to receive overtime pay.
“On behalf of all my colleagues at CN, I am very happy that the court ruled that the case is permitted to go forward,” McCracken said.
The Ontario provincial government has endorsed the environmental assessment for the proposed light rail transit project in Ottawa, the nation’s capital.
Ottawa’s director of rail implementation, John Jensen, told city councilors late Tuesday that the provincial environment ministry had approved the city's environmental assessment on a key component of the C$2.1 billion (US$2.0 billion) project. That in turn is the first phase of a larger C$5.6 billion transit master plan that's been split into two parts and would be built during the next two decades.
Jensen called approval “a significant milestone” toward securing provincial funds and, also, obtaining federal environmental approval for the project.The environmental assessment examined the potential impact of the planned 12.5kilometers (7.75 miles) of LRT from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Station, as well as a controversial tunnel portion under downtown. The city had submitted its environmental project report to the province in June.
Ottawa has struggled with varying LRT plans for years.
The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) has applied for $57.2 million in Fiscal Year 2010 High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funds to improve infrastructure between Roseville and Donner Summit and between the cities of Fremont and Newark. Union Pacific will contribute $10.3 million to the $51.1 million Roseville-Donner Summit project.
The improvements will allow the CCJPA to increase train service to Placer County and improve service reliability in Alameda County. Both projects are included in Caltrans Division of Rail's $582 million funding request to connect its existing passenger rail system to California's planned high speed rail system.
The Fremont-Newark project includes a Fremont/Centerville Depot platform extension that will enable improved schedule coordination of Capitol Corridor and ACE (Altamont Commuter Express) trains. Amtrak is the contract operator of both services; these projects would also benefit other Amtrak-operated train services that use UP-owned tracks in Northern California, such as California Zephyr long-distance trains.
The Roseville-Donner Summit improvements are in addition to work UP funded in 2009 to raise tunnel clearances over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. “By working with the CCJPA, we can leverage private dollars with public funds to achieve mutual benefits,” said Union Pacific Vice President Public Affairs Scott Moore. "Both the Placer County and Fremont projects are great examples of how UP and CCJPA can create innovative solutions in transportation."
CCJPA said 570 jobs would be created with the federal funding.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Monday said the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has received 77 applications from 25 states for the most recent round of High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) grant funding. The requests total more than $8.5 billion, chasing $2.345 billion in funding appropriated from the fiscal year 2010 budget.
DOT and FRA noted the $2.3 billion is “in addition to the $8 billion appropriated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as a down payment for the HSIPR program.” Recipients will be announced this fall.
“The response to our call to transform America’s transportation landscape has been tremendous and shows the country is ready for high speed rail,” said LaHood (pictured at left). “We have received strong bipartisan support for President Obama’s bold initiative that will enhance regional mobility, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, ease highway and airport congestion, and reduce our carbon footprint.”
FRA said 20 applications from 10 states seek a total of $7.8 billion for HSR corridor development programs. Another 57 applications from 18 states totaling $700 million were submitted “for smaller, individual projects within rail corridors that are ready to begin construction.”
DOT and FRA said they “will evaluate the applications to identify the projects that will deliver the greatest public benefits and give American taxpayers the highest return on their investment.”
“These historic investments will allow states to take the next step in making their high speed intercity passenger rail development plans a reality,” said FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo (pictured at right). “The states and FRA have been working hard to establish a solid foundation for a long-term program that will reshape our transportation system.”
CXT, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of L.B. Foster Co., is supplying 14,500 concrete ties and related fasteners for Calgary’s light rail transit expansion projects.
CXT concrete ties began being shipped in June from L.B. Foster’s Spokane, Wash., facility; delivery is expected to be completed by November.
CXT also was awarded a contract by general contractor SNC-Lavalin to supply 9,742 ties for use in the construction of Calgary’s LRT extension in the western area of the city. This five-mile LRT line will travel from 69th Street SW to downtown.
“CXT worked closely with the city and their consultants over the years to maintain a concrete tie design that meets their unique specification,” said L.B. Foster National Sales Manager Mark Hammons.
“Our concrete ties are designed and manufactured to the rail industry’s highest standards in ISO and PCI Certified facilities in Spokane, Wash., Tucson, Ariz., and Grand Island, Neb.,” added L.B. Foster Design Engineer Vince Petersen.
CXT, Inc. notes it has been one of Calgary’s approved product suppliers since 1980, when the city was constructing its LRT system; the city’s LRT system began revenue service in 1981. CXT concrete ties are installed throughout Calgary’s light rail system.
Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) has announced auto manufacturer Audi has become its first carbon-free freight customer. Subsidiary DB Schenker will transport some 150,000 vehicles a year along a route between Ingolstadt and Emden, using electricity generated by renewable sources, DB says.
DB says 59 companies already are involved in its effort toreduce carbon emissions, which also involves the company’s passenger rail operations. DB is also negotiating with other corporate customers, according to a DB spokeswoman.
“We're confident that with Audi being the first customer for this scheme, there will be a positive signal effect in the market,” the DB spokeswoman said in an interview. “The fact is private customers are paying attention to sustainability, and that will certainly lead to reduced CO2 output being a competitive advantage.”When a DB customer chooses to go green, they pay a premium price to ensure the energy they consume is replaced with electricity from renewable sources.
At least one German environmental group says DB’s latest announcement is mostly a public relations ploy, allowing DB to avoid a full commitment to alternative energy sources.
But a DB spokesman says 18.5% of the company’s electricity use is generated from renewable energy sources, and that DB already relies more on renewable energy than the nation’s consumer grid does. DB also has set a goal of 30% renewable energy by 2020.
The mining company BHP Billiton has reached a preliminary agreement to establish a potash export facility at Port of Vancouver USA, in Washington state. BHP has selected proposals from Canadian Pacific and BNSF Railway for transporting potash to the port.
“The port and BHP Billiton have reached preliminary agreement to proceed and are working to finalize terms and a lease agreement,” the Port of Vancouver USA said in a statement.
BHP's planned potash mining project is at Jansen in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Jansen reportedly is being developed to produce potash amounting to about 12% of existing global annual capacity.
“We expect Jansen to get the go-ahead,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Joel Jackson said in a note to investors.