The Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx, the Ontario provincial transportation authority, have reached agreement on one aspect of Toronto’s light rail transit future: LRT growth under the “Transit City” plan will take place on standard-gauge track.
TTC’s current streetcar system runs on track measuring four feet, 10 7/8 inches, wider than the standard gauge of four feet, 8 ½ inches. Metrolinx seeks to establish standard gauge in part to capture cost efficiencies both for LRT orders affecting Toronto itself, and for possible future LRT purchases which could involve other Ontario cities considering the mode, including Mississauga, Hamilton, Waterloo, and Ottawa, the nation’s capital.
Still to be addressed is any conversion of existing TTC LRT/streetcar lines to standard gauge. But Metrolinx Vice President John Howe says such conversion also would aid the the province with future streetcar purchase orders.
"What we want to do is remove as much vehicle customization as possible, because we think we can achieve better value for the taxpayer by taking an international off-the-shelf standard design, basically the same proven LRT vehicles that are used elsewhere in Canada, the U.S., and Europe," Howe said.
Also unresolved is the future modal status of TTC’s Scarborough Line, which uses linear induction motor-powered equipment similarto that of Vancouver’s Skytrain. The line itself operates over standard gauge, making its conversion to conventional light rail transit operation more likely (but not yet certain) following the commitment to standard gauge on other portions of Toronto’s urban rail network.
Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Tuesday it has provided a wireless remote control yard system at CSX’s Osborn Yard in Louisville, Ky. The RailComm Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) system provides remote control to several GETS HydraSwitch machines.
RailComm’s DOC® system is configured to control all switches individually as well as provide eNtrance eXit (NX) routing functionality, the company says. The company’s 2.4 GHz RADiANT™ data radios provide a wireless communications network to link the office with the field locations.
Harbin, China-based Harbin Electric, Inc. said Tuesday it participated in the successful testing of the first domestically developed linear motor (LM) propulsion system in Changchun, on a metro train operated by Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd. (CRC). The company called the test a “breakthrough for China,” crediting “the result of more than two years of joint efforts between Harbin Electric, the Institute of Electrical Engineering of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and CRC.”
Harbin Electric said the test is “part of China's efforts to develop its own advanced technology in many sectors of its fast-growing economy.”
The company said LM technology can negotiate steep grades and cope with tight curves and corners, lower maintenance costs, provide a safer ride under severe weather conditions such as rain and snow, and is quieter and more comfortable.
"We are extremely proud of our successful participation in China's development of a technologically advanced urban metro transit industry. The first 'made-in-China" LM metro train relies on our proprietary technology and has met international standards, with significant lower production costs than similar foreign products. With the success of this trial production, I believe that Chinese enterprises have entered into the high-end LM driving metro transit market and possess the skills and strength necessary to compete with world-class metro rail car manufacturers," said Tianfu Yang, chairman and CEO of Harbin Electric.
Rutherford, N.J.-based PTSI Transportation has scheduled a second one-day conference on railroad physical characteristics training and testing, Friday, February 19, in Los Angeles. The event follows what PTSI terms a successful session in New York last October, which it says included “participation by officers of seven railroads and rail transit lines, and the Federal Railroad Administration.”
“Railroads and rail transit systems have various ways of qualifying their crews on physical characteristics (route-learning) and, increasingly, there is a need to share this information, not just with railroad employees, but also with first responders of various types, such as EMS, hazmat, Homeland Security, and law enforcement,” says PTSI Managing Director Michael Weinman.
“Rail lines--whether freight or passenger, from Class I torapid transit--must have information in the hands of various categories of their own employees, from train crew members to dispatchers and other supervisory and management personnel. Many of these are not initially familiar with their own territories, or must occasionally be requalified," Weinman says.
“Beyond the railroad’s own employees, various incidents, accidents, and security concerns, require that authorized non-railroad employees access the right-of-way. These responders must have information that enables them to quickly locate the incident, to avoid placing themselves or others in harm’s way, and to ensure quality communication and coordination with railroad personnel,” says Weinman.
For more information, contact PTSI Transportation at (201)933-5530, or via email at email@example.com.
Amtrak President Joseph Boardman will continue to serve in his current position, as Amtrak’s Board of Directors extended his interim contract for an indefinite period while postponing any decision to install a permanent president.
Boardman (pictured at left) was appointed interim President in November 2008, following the resignation of Alex Kummant. Boardman, a voting member of the Amtrak board, did not vote on his own contract extension.
As Amtrak president, Boardman has advocated bolstering service frequencies on existing Amtrak routes and pursuing incremental improvements to trains speeds and schedules. Though Boardman supports the Obama Administration’s efforts to kick-start U.S. high speed rail (HSR), he has noted that any widespread U.S. effort would likely be more along the lines of Higher Speed Rail (HrSR).
U.S. railroads reported 8,861 accidents and incidents to the Federal Railroad Administration in the first 10 months of 2009, down 18.2% from the prior-year period, according to a preliminary report released Dec. 31 by the FRA's Office of Safety Analysis.
Rail fatalities for the period, mainly caused by grade crossing collisions and trespassing incidents, declined 12.8% to 598. Crossing fatalities dropped 13,6% to 294. Trespassing deaths were down 6.6% to 350.
There were 13 employee fatalities during the 2009 period, down 40.9% from last year's 23 and the lowest since the 10 deaths recorded in the first 10 months of 2006.
Train accidents were down 29.9% to 1,514 in January-October 2009, collisions were down 29.2% to 114, derailments were down 28.7% to 114, and yard accidents were down 29.8% to 814.
The Association of American Railroads reported an increase in rail intermodal traffic for the week ended Dec. 26 but said total ton-mile volume continued to trail year-ago levels.
Intermodal traffic added up to 141,699 trailers and containers, up 14.2% from the comparable week of 2008. Container volume rose 21.6% and trailer volume declined 14.5%. Compared with the same week in 2007, container volume fell 4.5% and trailer volume dropped 34.4%.
Rail carload freight was down 1.1% to 197,754 cars. In the eastern U.S., carloads were up 1.3% compared with the same week last year. In the West, carloads were down 2.3%. Comparison weeks for both years included the Christmas holiday.
The AAR said U.S. carload volume was down largely because of a more than 21,000 carload (19.1%) drop in coal loadings. Seventeen of the other 18 carload commodity groups were up compared with the same week last year, with 14 reporting double-digit increases, including motor vehicles (52.1%), lumber and wood products (44.8%), grain (31.1%), metals (31.7%), and chemicals (18.7%).
Total volume was estimated at 22.1 billion ton-miles, down 0.9% from the comparable 2008 week.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 55,572 cars for the week, up 33.5% from last year, and 30,653 trailers or containers, up 49% from 2008. Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 10,718 cars, up 37.7% from the same week last year, and 5,462 trailers or containers, up 53.3%.
New Jersey Transit will open its new South Amboy Station,located on its North Jersey Coast Line, Tuesday, Jan. 5. The new stationfeatures high-level platforms, while also including climate-controlled waitingareas, a new ticket office, and a modern passenger information systems.
With the opening, all North Jersey Coast Line trains willstop at the high-level center island platform, and cease using the existinglow-level platform near Henry Street. NJT said all customers must use theoverhead pedestrian walkway to access the new station. The walkway is accessible by stairs orelevators.
Campaigning for the Republican nomination for governor of Texas, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is advancing the concept of high speed rail to connect Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
Hutchison cited her support for such a plan Tuesday during a campaign stop in Tyler, Tex. She also asserted positions on other transport matters, calling for increased transparency at the Texas Department of Transportation, a restructuring of the Texas Transportation Commission, and more restrictions on toll roads.
Hutchison has been a staunch supporter of Amtrak throughout her Senate career, though she habitually has lamented and criticized the lack of adequate rail service from the national rail passenger carrier outside the Northeast Corridor.
Public transit ridership in the United States was down 3.8% for the first nine months of 2009, according to the American Public Transportation Association, but light rail systems in seven cities posted an increase.
On the plus side were LRT systems in Philadelphia (17.5%), Oceanside, Calif. (17.3%), Baltimore (13.9%), Memphis (11.6%), Tampa (7.0% ), and San Francisco (1.1%). A new line on the light rail system in Seattle led to more than 100% growth in the first nine months of 2009.
Total light rail ridership was down only a fraction of l%.
Metro rail ridership declined by 3.0%. Exceptions were Los Angeles Metro, which continued its trend of rising ridership with an increase of 6.0% for the first nine months; and Washington Metro, where ridership was up 0.6%.
Commuter rail ridership was down 5.1% nationwide, but increases were recorded in Boston (2.4%), New Haven (1.4%), and Alexandria, Va. (1.3%). A major extension of commuter rail in New Mexico from Albuquerque to Santa Fe led to a more than 100% increase from January through September 2009.
APTA said bus ridership declined 5.0 % in the first nine months of 2009.
"This downturn in public transportation ridership is a reflection of our economic times,” said American Public Transportation Association President William Millar. “Nearly 60% of riders take public transportation to commute to and from work, so it is to be expected that public transit ridership would be lower when unemployment is high.”
Drops in local and state funding have led to reduced service and/or higher fares. Among transit systems facing decreased funding, nine out of 10 (89%) raised fares or cut service.