President Obama during the weekend announced recess appointments for two seats on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Both appointees, Craig Becker and Mark Pearce, are Democrats; a third nominee, Brian Hayes, a staffer for Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), was left behind to be voted on by the Senate.
Three of NLRB’s five seats have been vacant for at least two years; the recess appointments will last only until the end of this year, as opposed to the normal four-year term bestowed NLRB appointees approved by the Senate.
Themove came despite warnings from Republican senators to the President not to use the upcoming Easter recess to make such a move. Becker’s appointment in particular was seen as controversial, and has been stalled after failing a Senate cloture vote last February.
A letter signed by all 41 Senate Republicans suggested the Senate should confirm the two other NLRB nominees, Pearce and Hayes, with the President dropping Becker’s appointment. Republicans consider Becker too pro-union because of his work with the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO.
The deficit-plagued New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced the appointment of Robert E. Foran, a municipal finance expert with 30 years of experience in the industry. as its new chief financial officer.
A former senior managing director at Bear Stearns, Foran is currently a managing director ands advisor at Samuel A. Ramirez & Co. He has been an advisor and banker to major infrastructure issuers , including the MTA.
“Bob's expertise in municipal finance is unparalleled and hisexperience with the MTA means that he will hit the ground running,” said MTAChairman and CEO Jay H. Walder. “His arrival will be critical in helping guidethe MTA through one of the most difficult financial periods in itshistory.”
Foran succeeds Gary J. Dellaverson, who retired in December. David Moretti has filled the position on an acting basis and will return to his full-time position as executive vice president at MTA Bridges and Tunnels.
Amtrak will operate Metrolink regional rail service in Southern California beginning in late June. The deal, announced late last week, will see Amtrak train and engine crews assume operating duties as Metrolink puts enhance safety measures into place.
Amtrak succeeds Connex as the operator; the latter has been under scrutiny since one of its employees was cited as the principal cause of the collision in Chatsworth, Calif., in September 2008, when a Metrolink passenger train crashedinto a Union Pacific freight train, killing 25 and injuring many more.
Metrolink’s current contract with Amtrak is for four years, with the potential for two three-year extensions.
April 2 (Friday) is the deadline for applications to the 2011 Railway Supply Institute Scholarship. RSI provides four $3,000 scholarships to full-time students from around the rail supply community. More than 90 students have received the RSI Scholarship which has contributed to their education in a variety of degrees such as nursing, teaching, engineering, business, and transportation specialists.
Applicants must be currently enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited / post-secondary institution leading to an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. The applicant must expect to achieve at least Sophomore status in his/her institution by the beginning of the 2010 / 2011 academic year. Ranking of applicants is based on grade point average, content of essay, letters of recommendations, community service, and work and school related activities.
Those eligible for the scholarship must be the son or daughter of a current employee whose company is a current member of the Railway Supply Institute or one of the Coordinated Mechanical Associations (CMA). These include:
Scholarship applications are available online here.
Rider feedback has led Virginia Railway Express officials to revise its proposal to operate new and longer trains, with one of those changes being to terminate and originate some trains at L’Enfant Plaza Station instead of the current Washington, D.C. terminus, Union Station.
Storage capacity at L'Enfant Plaza would allow VRE to to add cars to two Manassas Line trains and four Fredericksburg Line trains.
Rider input solicited by VRE also calls for an express train on the Fredericksburg Line that would leave at 5:05 a.m. and stop only at Leeland Road, Brooke, Alexandria, Crystal City, L'Enfant, and Union Station. VRE officials said the express could trim 20 minutes from a rider's trip into Washington.
VRE chief executive Dale Zehner said both proposals needed to be reworked. Zehner said he is working with CSX, the owner of the tracks, to try to get all evening trains to depart from Union Station. To do so, VRE would need to bring the express train from L'Enfant Plaza to Union Station during the afternoon. But CSX must make sure that doing so would not affect other train operations, VRE officials said. If Zehner cannot reach a deal, one evening train will have to leave from L'Enfant Plaza.
Ansaldo STS USA has appointed Dr. Karen L. Tichenor, Ph.D, Vice President, Quality, HSE and Business Performance. Tichenor most recently was Director of Quality, HSE and Business Performance at Bombardier Transportation. She also served with E.A. Fischione Instruments, Inc. as Director of Engineering, and with Veeco Instruments Inc., as Director of Quality and Kaizen.
Tichenor will be responsible for leading the operation of the Ansaldo STS USA’s Quality and Systems Assurance, and Business Performance throughout the company, including the Manufacturing facility in Batesburg, S.C. She will report directly to theoffice of the President and CEO.
Caltrain says its Board of Directors expects to certify a Final Environemental Impact Report April 1 for its electrification program covering the major portion of its service route. Caltrain began the environmental clearance process for electrification in 2001, but the project has faced numerous delays, mostly due to funding constraints.
Should the EIR be approved, Caltrain will proceed with detailed engineering for the project,which would electrify the rail route between San Jose and San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal.
The EIR evaluated “both electric locomotives and electric multiple unit (EMU) cars,” while noting “Diesel-operated trains could continue to be operated on the Caltrain alignment under electrification,” as well as to points south of San Jose's Tamien Station, terminating in Gilroy, currently served by Caltrain, once electrification is in place. The document adds that the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board “has identified the Electrification Program Alternative with EMU rolling stock as the preferred alternative.”
The EIR also notes “an electrified Caltrain system would set the stage for an expanded modern regional electric express service and, potentially, for a statewide high-speed rail (HSR) service as well. It is anticipated that any future HSR service would be fully electrified. The Electrification Program facilities would be designed to accommodate HSR service as well as Caltrain service.” [Italics are in the document.]
They don’t usually show up on the industry’s “green” index, but the millions of crossties in place make a solid contribution to a better environment.
With capacity available, this is a good time to buy freight cars, says Michael Ward. So he’s buying about 1,400.