The Association of American Railroads reports that in the week ended Dec. 19, freight volume on U.S. railroads was slightly ahead of 2008 but remained sharply down from 2007. The AAR estimated total volume at 30.4 billion ton-miles, up 0.3% from the comparable 2008 week, but down 11.6% from 2007.
Intermodal traffic totaled 209,759 trailers and containers, up 9.4% from last year but down 8.7% from 2007. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume rose 18.6% and trailer volume dropped 20.1%. Compared with the same week in 2007, container volume slipped 1.4% and trailer volume was off 32.4%.
Carload freight totaled 271,819 cars, down 0.1% from 2008 and 16.7% from 2007.
Eleven of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were up compared with the same week last year, with double-digit increases in metallic ores (50.9%), motor vehicles and equipment (28.1%), grain (22.8%), grain mill products (21.4%), chemicals (13.9 %), metals (13.1%), and nonmetallic minerals (12.7%). Declines ranged from 0.1% for petroleum products to 31.6% for the category of all other carloads.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 65,815 cars for the week, up 6.5% from last year, and 41,952 trailers or containers, up 2.3%. Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 15,061 cars, up 24.8% from last year, and 6,785 trailers or containers, up 34.9%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 50 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 17,109,500 carloads, down 16.7% from last year, and 11,921,922 trailers and containers, down 14.6%.
Wabtec Corp. has agreed to pay Faiveley Transport Malmo AB $3.9 million, the result of an arbitration ruling, received Dec. 24, involving claims filed against Wabtec by a Swedish subsidiary of Faiveley Transport. "We are pleased that the arbitration process is concluded and that the ruling will have no impact on our ability to provide products and services to our customers now and in the future," said Wabtec in a statement.
"In 1993, we entered into a license agreement with SAB WABCO, then an affiliated company, in which SAB WABCO granted us a license to the intellectual property and know-how related to the manufacturing and marketing of certain transit braking components," said Wabtec.
"In 2005, Faiveley Transport purchased SAB WABCO. The license agreement was terminated at the end of 2006 and Wabtec reverse-engineered the products at issue. In 2007, Faiveley Transport Malmo filed a request for arbitration with the International Chamber of Commerce alleging breach of contract and trade secret violations relating to Wabtec's manufacture and sale of the limited number of transit braking components covered in the license agreement.
"The Arbitral Tribunal's ruling entitles Wabtec to continue to manufacture and sell these components for current and future contracts using its reverse-engineered manufacturing drawings, and it says that Wabtec should pay Malmo a reasonable royalty based on past and predicted future sales of these components through 2011. In the fourth quarter, we will record a one-time charge for the royalty payment, which, due to the uncertain outcome and timing, was not included in our 2009 guidance for earnings per diluted share of between $2.40-$2.50," Wabtec said.
For his role in completing the transformation of Canadian National from troubled Crown corporation to an internationally acclaimed private railway, departing CN President and CEO E. Hunter Harrison Tuesday received the warm applause of the company’s board of directors.David G. A. McLean, chairman of the board of directors of CN noted that Harrison (pictured at left) has received numerous accolades, including Railway Age magazine’s 2002 Railroader of the Year, the 2009 International Business Leader of the Year from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and Canada's CEO of the Year by Report on Business magazine. His predecessor as CN’s CEO, Paul Tellier, was Railway Age’s 1997 Railroader of the Year."On behalf of CN's board of directors, I would like to thank Hunter for the outstanding leadership and service that he has provided to this company. His innovative Precision Railroading model and tireless dedication has led to the creation of a great North American railroad and will leave this company well positioned for future success," said McLean. "As Hunter prepares to step down from the company and from its board of directors, we extend our profound gratitude for what he has accomplished, and our best wishes for the future."
Harrison, 65, became CN's president and chief executive on Jan. 1, 2003, after serving as CN's executive vice-president and chief operating officer.
On April 21, 2009, CN's board of directors selected Claude Mongeau to succeed Harrison as president and chief executive officer effective Jan. 1, 2010.
Bombardier Transportation and AB Transitio have agreed on the delivery of 11 three-car Bombardier CONTESSA trains valued $137 million, with an option for an additional five trains. The trains will be leased by Swedish operators Lanstrafiken Kronoberg, Kalmar Lans Trafik, and Hallandstrafiken.
The new trains will operate at speeds up to 112 mph in the Oresund region and will be managed by cooperating traffic authorities in Oresundand Trafikstyrelsen in Denmark. With this agreement, he total number of these trains ordered by customers in Sweden and Denmark is 111, of which 90 have been delivered.
The trains can cross the bridge between Denmark and Sweden despite different rail infrastructures. They automatically shift signaling and power systems when crossing the border thanks to a dual system integrated in the vehicles.
AnsaldoBreda said Tuesday it has been awarded a five-year contract worth $54 million to upgrade 143 light rail vehicles for San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI), part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).
The light rail vehicles will be revamped at AnsaldoBreda’s plant in Pittsburg, Calif., where the doors, steps, couplers, air supply units, wiring, and bearings will be overhauled.
“We are delighted to collaborate with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and with San Francisco, a city that has been operating AnsaldoBreda vehicles since 1996,” said Salvatore Bianconi, CEO of AnsaldoBreda. “Thanks to the overhaul and modernization program, the cars can be maintained in service on the streets of San Francisco for many years to come.”
For railroad suppliers who are wondering how BNSF Railway's large capital improvement programs will fare under new ownership, there's reassuring news in the transcript of an in-house interview between Warren Buffett and BNSF CEO Matt Rose that was taped for the benefit of employees.
While Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. is borrowing $8 billion to finance the $26 billion purchase of BNSF, he assured the railroad's employees that he won’t use railroad assets to pay off Berkshire debt, and will continue to invest in the railroad's infrastructure. “It’d be crazy if we didn’t,” said Buffett. “We’re not going to buy a business and starve it.”
The interview was included in a regulatory filing Dec. 21.
A formal groundbreaking Monday marked construction of Toronto's Sheppard East light rail extension of roughly 8.4 miles along Sheppard Avenue from the Don Mills subway station.
Sheppard East LRT is being billed as the first piece of the C$6 billion, 15-year plan to add at least 76 miles of streetcar routes throughout Canada’s largest city. The C$1 billion Sheppard East project will replace the Scarborough East bus line, with funding coming from Ontario and the federal government, with the province covering roughly two-thirds of the cost.
"Today we start the renaissance of public transit in the city of Toronto, and from my perspective it's been far too long in coming," Mayor David said at the groundbreaking event. “It should have been done 30 years ago, but all of us can look back and say we did it today."Adam Giambrone, chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission, said the city "learned a lot" from criticism of the line and other projects, and claimed support for the Sheppard LRT has grown. "People are concerned about construction as they are with road construction, but ... virtually everybody wants it to happen," Giambrone said. "The question they're asking is not why or if, but how fast can you get it into place?"
Giambrone, justifying LRT’s implementation, said that while the mode is more expensive to build, its operating efficiency far exceeds that of comparable bus service.
Added Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley, "This project is critical to improving public transit, and it will have significant long-termbenefits to the surrounding communities.
Metrolinx, the regional transportation authority, will ownthe new light rail line but the Toronto Transit Commission will operate it. Theongoing political tension between Metrolinx and TTC extends to the rail gaugeto be used for the new construction.
Though TTC’s existing streetcar fleet currently operatesover a wide gauge of 4 feet, 107/8 inches, “Metrolinx has now become involved in the financing of the TransitCity lines and it’s calling for standard gauge,” says Railway Age ContributingEditor Greg Gormick. “The gauge hasn't been decided and it is certain to be asource of friction between the TTC and Metrolinx.”
Chicago-based FreightCar America, Inc. announced Sunday that Chief Executive Officer Christian Ragot had stepped down from his post “by mutual consent.”
Edward Whalen will succeed Ragot; Whalen joined FreightCar America as one of a group of investors who acquired its predecessor company in 1991. He served as FreightCar America's senior vice president of marketing and sales from December 2004 to September 2008, at which point he retired, the company said.
Whalen said in a statement that his top priority was to "optimize the company's performance in 2010, with a continued view to preserving our strong balance sheet."
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder Monday in announcing completion of the first phase of the Number 7 subway extension at the Hudson Yards in Manhattan, a $2.1 billion project funded by the city and managed by MTA.
"The second of two tunnel boring machines has reached the southern wall of the 34th Street Station cavern after mining a combined 2,900 feet from their starting point at 26th Street under 11th Avenue," MTA said in an announcement that appeared to be timed for maximum political value. "The extension will help transform the Hudson Yards vicinity into a vibrant 24-hour neighborhood, containing a mix of commercial, residential, retail, open space, and recreational uses. In January of 2005, the City Council approved the Bloomberg Administration's plan for re-zoning the Hudson Yards area, including the Eastern Rail Yards. Today, the City Council will vote on the plan for the Western Rail Yards, which would complete the public approvals process for the development of the area."
The Number 7 line extension, extending the line west of Times Square, is one of three multibillion-dollar MTA tunneling projects now under way. New York City Transit riders who have been hit with service cuts and fare increases this year have been asking how MTA can spend billions for new lines when it can scarcely find the money to to operate its existing lines. Mayor Bloomberg implicitly addressed that question.
"It's been a half century since City government expanded its subway system, but that drought will soon be at an end," said Bloomberg. "Too often, government falls victim to the temptation to abandon long-term infrastructure projects amidst short-term downturns, and that's why big things never get done. The redevelopment of the Hudson Yards has been talked about for decades, but with the expansion of the number 7 line, its potential will finally be realized."
MTA's Walder (pictured at right), who has been getting a bad press for proposing to eliminate frees student fares on subways and buses in orderto save $140 million a year, also took the long view: "This week's milestone is a clear indicator that the MTA is delivering on a major expansion project that will increase capacity within our transit system and generate economic growth in a vastly underserved area," he said. "Much like our joint efforts to improve bus service throughout the city, this partnership between the city and MTA will benefit New Yorkers for generations to come."
Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica, Inc. said its subsidiary RaiLink Canada Ltd. has closed on a transaction with Canadian Pacific to terminate its lease of the Ottawa Valley Railway (OVR) line.
Under the terms of the agreement announced Friday, RailAmerica, Inc. received C$73 million (US$69 million) in gross proceeds. The company estimates net cash proceeds after taxes and transaction related expenses of C$69 million to C$70 million.
RailAmerica’s subsidiary will terminate its lease of the CP-owned OVR rail line between Smiths Falls and Camspur, near Petawawa, Ontario, effective upon clearance of the remaining cars from the line. Under the Canada Transportation Act, CP has 60 days to decide if train service will be restored on the line.
RaiLink Canada will continue to maintain and operate the CP-owned rail lines between Sudbury and Mattawa, Ontario, Mattawa and Temiscaming, Quebec, and Mattawa and Camspur until dates in 2010 to be determined by CP.
OVR consists of 342 mainline miles of track and primarily transports bridge traffic, chemicals, and pulp and paper products. For the nine months ended September 30, 2009, total revenue for OVR was C$13.3 million, operating income was C$4.6 million, depreciation/amortization expense was C$0.4 million, and capital expenditures were C$0.7 million. RailAmerica said it will record the income or loss from these operations in discontinued operations beginning in the fourth quarter of 2009.