Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell has announced a public information meeting July 29, in Hartford, the state capital, to discuss environmental issues surrounding planned higher-speed rail (HrSR) proposed for Amtrak right-of-way linking New Haven and Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass. Hartford’s Union Station will host the meeting.
This session will deal with a draft assessment of the project’s environmental impact as well as a more detailed discussion of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield segment of the plan to provide improved rail service (via Vermont) between New York City and Montreal.
“The plans for a high-speed rail line serving commuters and businesses throughout the central ‘spine’ of our state—and eventually connecting with the rest of New England and Canada—are moving full-speed ahead,” Rell said. “This project has tremendous economic development potential for Connecticut and will go a long way to ease congestion on heavily traveled Interstate 91. We want the public to be up-to-date on each step of ou rprogress, which is why these meetings are so important.”
Rell said transportation officials from Vermont and Massachusetts would be present, joining Connecticut Department of Transportation representatives.
The project has been granted $40 million in federal stimulus funds, expected to expand double-tracking along the route. Connecticut has designated $26 million in state bond funds as its share of the double-tracking project; it also is expected to apply for additional money in the next round offederal HSR funding.
Florida officials say they will not seek funding to link Tampa, Fla.’s international airport with the Tampa-to-Orlando high speed rail line, now under preliminary construction. Downtown Tampa will remain the western termination point, at least for now.
According to Nazih Haddad, chief operating officer of Florida Rail Enterprise at Florida’s Department of Transportation, the state will apply next month for $1 billion in additional federal funds, but the application will not include an airport link. “It would take three more years to plan an extension,” said Haddad. Florida received $1.25 billion in federal funding in January for the HSR project, estimated to cost $2.7 billion for the initial leg. An extension from Orlando to Miami is in the planning phase.
Work began Monday along the Interstate 4 median corridor in preparation for laying track, which was defined as “geotechnical exploration.”
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio believes light rail, not HSR, would be a better fit for any airport link with downtown Tampa, saying LRT could serve any HSR station downtown while also better serving local transport needs.
The warmly debated proposal of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway to abandon 233 miles of line in Maine’s Aroostook and Penobscot counties reached another milestone Monday with the release of the Final Environmental Assessment prepared by the Surface Transportation Board's Section of Environmental Analysis. These were its major findings:
* “The proposed discontinuance of service ... would notsignificantly affect the quality of the human or natural environment if the board imposes recommended mitigation measures.”
* “When considering the average size of the shipmentsof all shippers on the rail segments proposed for abandonment, the majority of freight (more than 90%) transported by these shippers already moves by truck. Although some shippers have questioned that conclusion, statewide data shows that freight rail in Maine carries approximately 10% of total tonnage in the state ... This statistic does not necessarily reflect the situation of individual shippers ... But this does not mean that truck transportation is not—or could not be—available to transport the vast majority of shipments at issue in this case.”
* "The increased truck traffic for the worst case scenario ... would have minimal impact on overall highway safety in the region.”
Proposed mitigation measures are designed to minimize impacts to threatened and endangered species and other resources.
The STB board will make its final decision based on the Environmental Assessment plus testimony received at a public hearing on July 9.
Los Angeles Metro announced that its rail ridership in June was up 7.5% over June 2009 with 326,663 average weekday boardings.
The Gold Line recorded 37,270 average weekday boardings in June vs. 24,219 in June 2009, due mainly to the opening of the Eastside Extension between Union Station and East Los Angeles.
Metro posted an 0.2% gain in bus ridership in June with 1,156,866 average weekday boardings.
Wabtec has delivered an MP14B model ultra-low emission, gen-set switcher to GATX’s railcar repair facility in Colton, Calif. The 1,400-hp locomotive was manufactured in Boise, Idaho by Wabtec subsidiary MotivePower, Inc.
“It is a high priority for GATX to be an industry leader in the areas of safety, health and environmental responsibility, and especially to be a good neighbor in the communities in which we operate,” said Jim Earl, GATX’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The addition of this clean, efficient locomotive is an excellent example of our strong commitment to these goals.”
GATX’s new switcher is expected to reduce emissions of NOx by at least 80% and particulate matter by at least 70%, while providing fuel savings of up to 35%.
The global market for light rail transit vehicles could reach $7.5 billion by 2015, according to a report released by San Jose, Calif.-based Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
The report, titled “Light Rail: A Global Strategic Business Report,” provides a review of light rail market, outlook, growth drivers, number of light rail installations, and recent corporate developments. The study analyzes market data and analytics in the global market in terms of dollar sales for the years 2006 through 2015, breaking the picture into four markets: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of World.
The company identified 66 companies actively involved in the production of LRT vehicles and related equipment, with key players including Aecom Technology Corp., Alstom SA, Ansaldo STS SpA, AnsaldoBreda Inc., Balfour Beatty Plc., Bombardier Transportation, Invensys Plc, MTR Corp. Ltd., Siemens Transportation Systems Inc., Solaris Bus & Coach S.A., and Veolia Transportation, Inc.
More details are available at http://www.strategyr.com/Light_Rail_Market_Report.asp.
The Carbon Capture and Storage Deployment Act of 2010, introduced Thursday ;by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D- W.Va.) and Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), has won the support of the Association of American Railroads, whose members deliver 70% of all U.S. coal shipments.
“Senators Rockefeller and Voinovich are to be commended for their leadership in ensuring that clean coal technology can be deployed and implemented as soon as possible,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R.Hamberger (pictured at left). “Domestic coal is abundant, affordable, and if this bill is passed will be even cleaner. It is affordable coal-based electricity that helps power the nation’s economic recovery and supports our global competitiveness.”
“Rail’s inherent fuel efficiency makes our industry a natural part of the climate change solution—a train can carry a ton of freight 480 miles on a single gallon of fuel,” said Hamberger. “Support for measures like this, ;which ensure the future use of coal, also supports the health of America’s railroads and the vital link for businesses all across the country to the global marketplace.”
Siemens will supply 240 regional trains during the next decade to Russian Railways under a memorandum of understanding announced Friday. The deal is worth approximately $2.8 billion.
The Russian trains will be based on the Siemens Desiro regional model now in service in Hungary and the U. K.
With an eye on regional rail improvements within the Greater Toronto Area, light rail transit is now part of the master plan for Mississauga, Ont., following a unanimous vote by the city council to employ the mode on the city’s main thoroughfares.
“Hurontario [Street] is an essential north/south route in Mississauga and we look forward to working with Metrolinx and the City of Brampton to ensure the corridor develops to meet the needs of the residents and businesses that use it,” said Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion.
Funding for the proposed LRT line is not in place, but McCallion said Mississauga will do everything it can to keep it on the agenda of funding agencies. “Efficient transit is the key to our city’s future and that of the Greater Toronto Area. Regional transit links will connect cities, support future growth, fuel our economies and improve the environment,” she said.
The master plan, developed jointly by the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, will set the framework for the future of the corridor stretching from the waterfront in Port Credit to downtown Mississauga and into downtown Brampton. The study is part of the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan. A recent report by Metrolinx endorsed the case for LRT technology along the route.
Lowell, Ark.-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. late Thursday reported second-quarter net earnings of $52.1 million, or diluted earnings per share of 40 cents, compared with $24.0 million, or 19 cents per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2009. Second-quarter 2009 results included a pretax charge of $10.3 million, or 5 cents per diluted share, to write down the value of certain tractors held for sale. Excluding this charge, second-quarter 2009 earnings were 23 cents per diluted share.
Total operating revenue for the second quarter was $943 million, a 22% increase over the $770 million reported for the second quarter of 2009, the company said.
J.B. Hunt attributed the increase in operating revenue to “higher Intermodal segment volumes, significant growth in our Dedicated Contract Services (DCS) segment, and revenue growth in our Truck segment.”
In a statement, J.B. Hunt President and CEO Kirk Thompson said, “Demand for transportation services has increased fairly dramatically aswe have emerged from a multi-year freight recession. Scarcity of capacity in Intermodal, Truckload, and Brokerage markets was quite pronounced in the current quarter. We saw our business improve sequentially throughout the quarter as reflected in higher prices in Intermodal and Truck as the quarter unfolded.”