Despite warning of fiscal shortfalls for long-term capital projects throughout the year, Dallas Area Rapid Transit appears determined to advance Orange Line light rail access to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The airport/LRT link is a highlight in a revised 20-year financial plan DART officials presented to the DART Board of Directors Tuesday.The 20-year plan also would allow an extension of the Blue Line to southern Oak Cliff, Tex., by the end of the decade, though that project might compete with plans for a second downtown Dallas rail line, either LRT or streetcar, that have been postponed.
DART spokesman Morgan Lyons told Railway Age Wednesday that the Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed revised plan at its meeting September 28. He added, “The current 37-mile light rail expansion, which includes the completion of the Green Line from Pleasant Grove to Carrollton and the new Lake Highlands Station in December, the Blue Line extension from Garland to Rowlett, and the first two sections of the Orange Line from Bachman Station in Northwest Dallas to Irving in 2012, are not affected by the projected shortfall.
The proposed 20-year financial plan includes $4.7 billion in capital project funds for rail expansion and other projects such as the planned purchase of new buses and other items required to maintain the agency’s state of good repair,” Lyons said.
A draft budget for 2011 calls for trimming 87 full-time jobs at DART, which DART expects to address through attrition. DART does anticipate some reduced bus and rail services, including having light rail trains run through downtown Dallas every 15 minutes instead of every 10, employed by other U.S. transit operators this year, but one DART has resisted.
Chief Financial Officer David Leininger told board members Tuesday that revenue projections had improved markedly in the past six weeks as his staff re-examined projected spending and revenue. “We are not out of thewoods yet in knowing what our sales-tax and fare-box revenue estimates really will be,” Leininger said. “But we believe that we have bottomed and will return to normal. The question is, ‘What will normal be like when we get there?’ So our ability to forecast the numbers, in some respect, is still suspect.”
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has awarded Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. a contract worth up to $15 million to provide on-call construction management services in support of the agency’s capital improvement program and other projects.
Jacobs will furnish construction management services for five years including resident, field, and office engineering; inspection services; constructability analysis; hazard analysis and safety certification; surveying; material testing; noise and vibration monitoring and data analysis; independent quality assurance oversight; project communication/recordkeeping; cost and schedule management; coordination with other agencies; progress reporting and project closeout; and claims management.
Patriot Rail Corp. announced that it has agreed in principle to buy the six short line railroads operated by Weyerhaeuser Co., with more than 160 miles of track in four states. The lines currently handle approximately 60,000 carloads of freight annually. The acquisition is subject to closing conditions that include Patriot’s due diligence and regulatory approval. It’s expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Patriot Rail would acquire:
* The DeQueen and Eastern Railroad Co., consisting of tworailroads—the DeQueen and Eastern and the Texas, Oklahoma & Eastern railroads, which operate over a total of 87 route miles in southeast Oklahomaand southwest Arkansas;
* The Columbia & Cowlitz Railway, which operates over8.5 route miles in southwest Washington;
* The Weyerhaeuser Woods Railroad, which operates over 30 route miles in southwest Washington and connects directly to the CLC;
* The Golden Triangle Railroad, which operates over 13.3 route miles in central Mississippi; and
* The Mississippi & Skuna Valley Railroad, which owns 21 route miles in Mississippi.
Each of the railroads interchanges traffic with Class I carriers. The railroads primarily source Weyerhaeuser and International Paper mills, move finished products, and serve some third-party customers. They employ approximately 120 people.
“Once the transaction is completed, these railroads will double the rail portfolio of Patriot Rail,” said Gary O. Marino, chairman, president, and CEO. “They are very attractive railroads with appealing growth opportunities and are a key step in our company’s strategic growth process. After closing and integration of the railroads, Patriot Rail’s goal is to expand the rail business by providing customers with first class rail service focused on safety, productivity, and service reliability.”
Patriot Rail Corp., a holding company based in Boca Raton, Fla., owns and operates six short line freight railroads totaling 331 miles in eight states. Patriot also recently signed an agreement to lease and operate the 13-mile Piedmont & Northern Railroad in Gaston County, N.C.
Rockville, Md.-based Telvent said Tuesday it had been awarded a contract with Isolux-Corsan, involving Enterprise Metro d’Alger as the end customer, to implement the company’s Telvent SmartMobility TM Light Rail technology for the new LRT system in Oran, Algeria. The 18-kilometer (11-mile) route, with 32 stations, is scheduled to begin operating by 2011.
Telvent’s participation will allow Oran authorities to effectively coordinate interaction between city traffic and the LRT network, having the capability to give priority at any time to LRT over private transportation whenever appropriate.
The system to be installed by Telvent is based on selective light rail detection, which will enable the system to determine whenever the light rail is approaching an intersection. Once detected, the system will give priority to LRT over private transportation, thereby ensuring driver safety at the same time.
Telvent CEO Ignacio Gonzalez said the system “will help the city of Oran to effectively coordinate the interaction between city traffic and the light rail system, resulting in a significant improvement to urban mobility and guaranteed passenger safety and security.”
July carload traffic advanced 4.1% compared with the comparable 2009 month, the Association of American Railroads said, but AAR also noted “roughly 23.4% of the North America railcar fleet,” or 349,471 cars, remains sidelined. Though industry analysts say some of those cars will be retired or scrapped instead of being returned to duty, the amount of stored equipment remains significant.
July’s traffic still lagged behind July 2008 totals by 14.6%, AAR said. Intermodal continues to show more strength, up 17.3% in July compared with a year ago and down 5.1% from July 2008.
In addition, “Seasonally adjusted AAR data showed month-to-month gains in carloads for July, up 3.2% from June 2010, as well as intermodal traffic, up 2.4% from the previous month,” AAR said.
NextSense, a company based in Graz, Austria, announced that it will unveil “the wheel diameter module for the Calipri high-tech measuring device” at the Innotrans 2010 railroad technology trade show in Berlin in September.
“The wheel diameter is one of the critical parameters involved in evaluating the running performance and safety level of railroad vehicles,” notes NextSense. “Until now, there have been no completely satisfactory solutions for measuring these diameters. The systems available on the market have either not been designed for mobile use or are too inaccurate. NextSense quite literally took up the challenge posed by these unsolved problems. After a two-year development phase, the solution is now available as a production-ready product for use in railroad workshops.
“A model manufactured using CFRP lightweight technology is fitted onto the built-in wheel with a hand grip. The user conducting the operation brings the sensor of the measuring device close to the model. After just a few seconds, the result is indicated and enables furthersubsequent evaluations to be carried out, such as the diameter difference on the wheel set or overstepping of thresholds,” NextSense says
NextSense says the new diameter-measuring device forms part of a family of measuring modules, which enable wheelsets to be measured while completely mobile.
Berkshire Hathaway has reported that operating earnings for the second quarter and first six months of 2010 increased 72.7% and 52.0% from the comparable periods in 2009.
“BNSF was the major contributor adding $885 million to net earnings since our acquisition on Feb. 12, 2010, including $603 million during the second quarter,” said the company in an earnings statement released Aug. 6. Another major reason for the improvement occurred at NetJets with a swing from a pre-tax loss of $348.5 million in the first six months of 2009 to a pre-tax profit of $114.5 million in 2010.
Berkshire paid $26.5 billion in February for the share of BNSF it did not already own.
Association of American Railroads praised the
introduction of the Freight Rail Infrastructure Capacity Expansion Act of 2010
(S.3749) by Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.). This
bipartisan measure is aimed at encouraging private capital investments that can
generate tremendous public benefits through expanded rail network capacity
needed for moving more people and goods by rail.
The Port of Quebec, a
terminal operator at the port and CN announced today a service arrangement that
will reduce transit times for shipments destined to Toronto to 38 hours from 53
hours, an improvement of almost 30 per cent. The improvement resulted from the
port and terminal operator agreeing to more consistent release times for
shipments and CN adjusting schedules to expedite the movement of traffic over
its network between Quebec City and Toronto.