Latest News Continued

The Association of American Railroads said Wednesday that carload traffic for 14 of the 19 major commodity groups was higher last month than in February 2009. Excluding coal carloads, which were down 9.9%, U.S. carloads in February 2010 were up 7.2% over February 2009.

Intermodal traffic was up 10.1% in February compared with the same month last year, though down 10.6% from the same month in 2008.

aar_logo.jpg

“Rail traffic trends over the past few months, especially when you take out coal, are consistent with a slowly recovering economy,” said John Gray, AAR’s senior vice president of Policy and Economics. “Other economic indicators taken as a whole seem to be saying the same thing. Is a sustained recovery a sure thing? No, not yet, but prospects are certainly much brighter now than they were four or five months ago.”

Gray said the last week of February was the highest-volume week for U.S. rail carloads since December 2008, at least partly due to “catchup” traffic following record snowstorms earlier in the month.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, rail carloads in February fell 0.1% compared with January 2010, while seasonally adjusted U.S. intermodal traffic was down 3.6% in February compared to the prior month.

“Adjusting for seasonal issues that cause peaks or valleys in traffic—such as end-of-year holidays and the fall grain harvest—allows us to see more clearly the strength or weakness of the underlying demand for rail traffic,” Gray noted. “Over the past six months, the upward trend in seasonally adjusted rail traffic indicates an increase in underlying demand.”

--> The Association of American Railroads said Wednesday that carload traffic for 14 of the 19 major commodity groups was higher last month than in February 2009. Excluding coal carloads, which were down 9.9%, U.S. carloads in February 2010 were up ...

Railway Age magazine Wednesday named Greenville & Western Railway Co. LLC the 2010 Short Line Railroad of the Year, and the Northern Plains Railroad its 2010 Regional Railroad of the Year. The awards will be presented at the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday evening, May 4.

“This year’s two winners not only excelled despite economic turmoil; they found ways to take advantage of it and to prosper,” says Railway Age Publisher Robert P. DeMarco. “The award winners both had a vision and a plan, and not only reassured existing customers on their lines but actively courted new ones with strong marketing efforts. Combined with the cooperation and coordination with their respective Class I partners, the winners cultivated customer relationships, invested in infrastructure and property assets, and kept tabs on the growing market for ‘green’ growth, which the U.S. railroad industry is ideally positioned to leverage.”

Greenville, S.C.-based Greenville & Western Railway runs 12.74 miles through Anderson County; the company acquired the route from CSX in 2006, inheriting online traffic of fewer than 100 carloads annually. Intensive work on right-of-way, and a strategic purchase of 38.3 acres to encourage storage facilities for oil and ethanol products, helped propel the short line’s volume to 1,872 revenue carloads in 2009—an increase of 130% over a two-year period.

Besides being recognized by Railway Age, GRLW this year also is being honored by CSX Transportation at the Class I railroad’s 2010 Short Line Workshop for notching the largest percentage of growth, on a line-haul basis, between 2008 and 2009.

Fordville, N.D.-based Northern Plains Railroad, the 2010 Regional Railroad of the Year, began operations in 1997, currently leasing 388 miles of track in North Dakota and Minnesota from Canadian Pacific Railway. NPR is a key player in moving the region’s agricultural products, particularly grain, to market, positioning the railroad for potential ethanol market opportunities. But NPR’s “green” growth already includes wind energy component traffic, a joint business arrangement with Union Pacific Railroad. NPR interfaces with Canadian Pacific and with BNSF.

Mother Nature in 2009 didn’t reward NPR for its environmental efforts, however; extensive flooding during the spring of 2009 caused by the Red River forced the railroad to suspend service for 26 days and took a toll on revenue and customer service. Despite that, the regional railroad ended the year nearly equaling its carload traffic record, and the railroad anticipates resetting its record books this year.

Both Greenville & Western Railway, the Short Line Railroad of the Year, and the Northern Plains Railroad, the Regional Railroad of the Year, will be featured in Railway Age’s April 2010 issue.

--> Railway Age magazine Wednesday named Greenville & Western Railway Co. LLC the 2010 Short Line Railroad of the Year, and the Northern Plains Railroad its 2010 Regional Railroad of the Year. The awards will be presented at the American Short L ...

STV, Inc. announced Wednesday that Joseph F. North has joined the company as avice president and project manager for operations, safety and security in thefirm's Transportation and Infrastructure Division. North reports to ChristopherJ. Holliday, P.E., senior vice president and national leader of STV's systemsand security practices; he is based in the company’s Newark, N.J., office.

stv.jpg

Northwill head up several projects, including STV's work on a proposed rail route insouthern New Jersey being advanced by the Delaware River Port Authority and thestrategic guidance for the Triangle Transit Authority's compliance with FederalRailroad Administration regulations. North also will work to increase themarket presence of STV's security services.

A 34-year veteran of public transportation, with both public- and private-sectorexperience in the operations and maintenance of light rail, regional rail, busoperations, and paratransit systems, North most recently served as New JerseyTransit’s general manager of operations for Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit,Newark Light Rail, and the RiverLINE. North also has worked at the Bi-StateDevelopment Agency in St. Louis and Metropolitan Transportation Authority NewYork City Transit, and was a principal of a major management consulting firmfor seven years.

--> STV, Inc. announced Wednesday that Joseph F. North has joined the company as avice president and project manager for operations, safety and security in thefirm's Transportation and Infrastructure Division. North reports to ChristopherJ. Holliday, P.E., senior ...
--> New Jersey Transit’s RiverLINE diesel light railway system, operated by Bombardier Transportation, today marked five years (1,890 days) without a single lost-time injury. The RiverLINE, which on March 15 marks six years of revenue service, “continues to exceed contractual ontime performa ...

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had a “little bit of political advice” for the airline industry Tuesday.

ray_lahood.jpg

“Don’t be against high speed rail,” LaHood said. “It’s coming to America. This is the President’s vision, this is the Vice President’s vision, this is America’s vision. We’re going to get into the high speed rail business.’’

“People want alternatives,’’ he said. “People are still going to fly, but we need alternatives. So get with the program.”

LaHood (pictured at left) made these comments in a Q&A session as he addressed the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual forecasting conference in Washington, D.C. The first questioner wanted to know why the administration was giving $8 billion to high speed rail.

--> Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had a “little bit of political advice” for the airline industry Tuesday. ...

Exactly one year ago, on March 9, 2009, the stock market hit its lowest point of the recession, and it was an abyss. Many blue chips had lost half or more of their value in the most severe bear market in 80 years.

On the anniversary of that day, stocks on the average have come back more than 65% in price. How have the railroads fared?

Far better than the average, for the most part.

A year ago today, Norfolk Southern shares bottomed at $26.69. They rose to $54.00 in mid-afternoon trading today, up 102.39% in a year.

CSX shares went from $20.00 a year ago to around $50.00 today, up 147.5%.

The price of a Union Pacific share bounded from $33.28 to $71.22,a 114% increase.

Kansas City Southern took the worst battering during the bear market, dropping to $12.15, and recovered most spectacularly, rising 195% to reach $36.16 on March 9, 2010.

In Canada, CN shares went from $29.57 to $56.29, up 90.3%; CP increased from $25.14 to $54.20, up 117.6%.

 

--> Exactly one year ago, on March 9, 2009, the stock market hit its lowest point of the recession, and it was an abyss. Many blue chips had lost half or more of their value in the most severe bear market in 80 years.On the anni ...

Two leading railroad industry analysts have weighed in with projections on railroad traffic and revenue growth. 

Dahlman Rose & Co. recently held a seminar with freight economist and transportation industry veteran Noel Perry, who offered a wide array of observations, views, and predictions on the railroad and trucking industries.

“On the rail front Perry’s traffic forecast calls for 2010 carloading growth reaching the 6% to 7% range, with growth accelerating in 2011,” said Director-Equity Research and Railway Age Contributing Editor Jason Seidl. “While a vigorous return of traffic, along with solid pricing, should lead to strong revenue growth over the next few years, top line improvement will not necessarily be accompanied by equally robust operating profits, according to Perry.

Contrary to the view that the railroads and many in the investor community have expressed regarding high incremental margins emerging in the industry in tandem with the economic recovery, Perry suggests that the railroads’ ability to keep costs down will diminish significantly as the ongoing upturn in the market shifts into high gear. While he believes that the companies are likely to grow their top lines at impressive rates in the next couple of years, he cautions that a deterioration of service metrics is likely to accompany growth in carloadings. He notes that, indeed, velocity has declined in recent weeks as volumes have started to return (though weather may have had an impact as well). The deterioration of service levels, according to Perry, is a reflection of the traffic congestion, which should ultimately translate into higher operating expenses. Labor is one example of congestion-related costs that could increase significantly.” 

Morgan Stanley analyst William Green, in a weekly report, said that rail volumes “could grow at double-digit rates in 2010,” with “recent weekly traffic data as thesis-confirming. As a result, we are adjusting estimates slightly higher for many of the railroads we cover, and in all cases, we continue to be significantly above consensus. In the coming months, we expect upside revisions to consensus driven by the following trends: (1) Weekly volumes tracking better than expectations, (2) Operating leverage to recovering volumes, and (3) Sustained momentum on core pricing. CSX and Union Pacific (a Morgan Stanley Best Idea) are positioned most favorably with respect to these themes.”

Greene also gave Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern high marks: “CP enjoys a number of favorable company characteristics that we look for in a recovery scenario, notably (1) exposure to higher-growth markets (i.e. outsized export bulk commodity exposure) and (2) easy operating margin comps to support earnings growth. . . . [D]espite balanced risks relative to other railroads, we see absolute upside through year-end.” As for KCS: “Not only does KCS benefit from all of the cyclical and secular trends driving Class I’s, but the company also benefits from a number of unique positives, including the recent re-pricing of a major contract driving industry-leading pricing growth in 2010, and unique volume growth opportunities (such as cross-border intermodal).”

--> Two leading railroad industry analysts have weighed in with projections on railroad traffic and revenue growth. Dahlman Rose & Co. recently held a seminar with freight economist and transportation industry veteran Noel Perry, ...

Despite the impact of economic recession, Americans “took more than 10 billion trips on public transportation in 2009,” the American Public Transportatin Association reported—the fourth straight year ridership topped the 10 billion mark.

apta_logo.jpg

APTA noted the 2009 level “is a 3.8% decrease from the 52-year modern ridership record that was set in 2008.  Bus and rail service cutbacks resulting from lower state and local funding also contributed to the ridership decline,” it said.

“Given last year’s economic hardship, this small decrease in ridership from a record number of ridership trips in 2008, indicates that support for public transit remains strong,” said APTA President William Millar.“ Considering that nearly 60% of riders take public transportation to commute to and from work, it is not surprising that ridership declined in light of the many Americans who lost their jobs last year.

“Public transportation is an important part of our transportation system and tens ofmillions of people rely on public transit every day,” Millar continued. “It is imperative that federal, state, and local governments continue to invest in public transit. Otherwise, many Americans will be facing increased fares and service cuts as public transportation systems struggle to balance their budgets with less revenue because of the economic recession.”

Among various modes, U.S. light rail (including streetcars and heritage trolleys) saw ridership slip 0.40% in 2009, but nine existing systems notched increases. Heavy rail (such as subways) saw ridership decline 2.6%, with four cities recording increases defying the downward trend. Overall regional (“commuter”) rail ridership fell 5% during 2009. Large bus systems reported a decrease of 5.2% nationally.

--> Despite the impact of economic recession, Americans “took more than 10 billion trips on public transportation in 2009,” the American Public Transportatin Association reported—the fourth straight year ridership topped the 10 billion mark. ...

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood jointly announced the award of the $600 million remaining from the $7.5 billion federal stimulus funding made available to transit projects in the Recovery Act that President Obama signed in February 2009. The 191 new grants in 42 states and Puerto Rico went mainly to small city and rural bus projects, though $200 million was awarded to rail systems. 

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority received the largest chunk of the new money, in three separate grants: $51.11 million for track repair and operating assistance, $13 million for station improvements, and $90,000 for security cameras.

New Jersey Transit received $52.42 million for a combination of track and signal work, and buses.

--> Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood jointly announced the award of the $600 million remaining from the $7.5 billion federal stimulus funding made available to transit projects in the Recovery Act that President ...

Bombardier Transportation said Monday it has won a new order to deliver its CITYFLO 350 wayside package to Line 1 of the Lima, Peru, Metro. The contract, worth $22 million, was awarded by Consorcio Tren Eléctrico Lima, comprising a consortium, led by the Brazilian civil works company Construtora Noberto Odebrecht and the Peruvian civil works company Graña yMonteiro.

Equipment and services will be provided and delivered by Bombardier teams in Spain and Brazil.

bombardier_logo.jpg

Bombardier said the contract adds to the growing portfolio of CITYFLO 350 customer in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and South America, including the Salvador Metro in Brazil. The company says the CITYFLO 350 automatic train control system is designed primarily for metro applications where only limited action is required from the train driver, such as opening and closing doors.

Bombardier will design, supply, install, and commission wayside and onboard CITYFLO 350 equipment for the 21.4-kilometer Lima and 15 trains to run on the line. The scope will primarily consist of: EBI Cab800 onboard automatic train protection system, EBI Lock 950 computer-based interlocking systems, EBI Track 200 track circuit, and EBI Switch700 point machine field elements. Bombardier will also provide the traffic management system based on the EBI Screen 2000 control center system.

Anders Lindberg, president, Rail Control Solutions, Bombardier Transportation, said: “Two main reasons make us very pleased with this new order. It is an important project for the city of Lima and it also shows that we are expanding in a region which is quickly developing.”

Carlos Levy, Bombardier transportation chief country representative for Brazil, said: “This order further introduces our technology to the regionand this is a strategic objective for us. We look forward to closely working with Odebrecht and the Tren Eléctrico Lima consortium to achieve this project.”

The news for Bombardier in North America Monday was less upbeat. The company plans to lay off 140 workers at its Bath, N.Y., railcar refurbishment facility beginning in June. Bombardier cited completion of rail contracts with Metro-North Railroad and Maryland’s MARC as reasons for the move.

Bombardier currently employs 220 people at the site. “The precise number of layoffs will depend on whether the company is able to land other railcar refurbishment work,” said spokeswoman Maryanne Kowalski-Roberts. "We're always pursuing other contracts.”

--> Bombardier Transportation said Monday it has won a new order to deliver its CITYFLO 350 wayside package to Line 1 of the Lima, Peru, Metro. The contract, worth $22 million, was awarded by Consorcio Tren Eléctrico Lima, comprisi ...
487
Page 487 of 605