Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Monday said the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has received 77 applications from 25 states for the most recent round of High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) grant funding. The requests total more than $8.5 billion, chasing $2.345 billion in funding appropriated from the fiscal year 2010 budget.
DOT and FRA noted the $2.3 billion is “in addition to the $8 billion appropriated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as a down payment for the HSIPR program.” Recipients will be announced this fall.
“The response to our call to transform America’s transportation landscape has been tremendous and shows the country is ready for high speed rail,” said LaHood (pictured at left). “We have received strong bipartisan support for President Obama’s bold initiative that will enhance regional mobility, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, ease highway and airport congestion, and reduce our carbon footprint.”
FRA said 20 applications from 10 states seek a total of $7.8 billion for HSR corridor development programs. Another 57 applications from 18 states totaling $700 million were submitted “for smaller, individual projects within rail corridors that are ready to begin construction.”
DOT and FRA said they “will evaluate the applications to identify the projects that will deliver the greatest public benefits and give American taxpayers the highest return on their investment.”
“These historic investments will allow states to take the next step in making their high speed intercity passenger rail development plans a reality,” said FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo (pictured at right). “The states and FRA have been working hard to establish a solid foundation for a long-term program that will reshape our transportation system.”
CXT, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of L.B. Foster Co., is supplying 14,500 concrete ties and related fasteners for Calgary’s light rail transit expansion projects.
CXT concrete ties began being shipped in June from L.B. Foster’s Spokane, Wash., facility; delivery is expected to be completed by November.
CXT also was awarded a contract by general contractor SNC-Lavalin to supply 9,742 ties for use in the construction of Calgary’s LRT extension in the western area of the city. This five-mile LRT line will travel from 69th Street SW to downtown.
“CXT worked closely with the city and their consultants over the years to maintain a concrete tie design that meets their unique specification,” said L.B. Foster National Sales Manager Mark Hammons.
“Our concrete ties are designed and manufactured to the rail industry’s highest standards in ISO and PCI Certified facilities in Spokane, Wash., Tucson, Ariz., and Grand Island, Neb.,” added L.B. Foster Design Engineer Vince Petersen.
CXT, Inc. notes it has been one of Calgary’s approved product suppliers since 1980, when the city was constructing its LRT system; the city’s LRT system began revenue service in 1981. CXT concrete ties are installed throughout Calgary’s light rail system.
Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) has announced auto manufacturer Audi has become its first carbon-free freight customer. Subsidiary DB Schenker will transport some 150,000 vehicles a year along a route between Ingolstadt and Emden, using electricity generated by renewable sources, DB says.
DB says 59 companies already are involved in its effort toreduce carbon emissions, which also involves the company’s passenger rail operations. DB is also negotiating with other corporate customers, according to a DB spokeswoman.
“We're confident that with Audi being the first customer for this scheme, there will be a positive signal effect in the market,” the DB spokeswoman said in an interview. “The fact is private customers are paying attention to sustainability, and that will certainly lead to reduced CO2 output being a competitive advantage.”When a DB customer chooses to go green, they pay a premium price to ensure the energy they consume is replaced with electricity from renewable sources.
At least one German environmental group says DB’s latest announcement is mostly a public relations ploy, allowing DB to avoid a full commitment to alternative energy sources.
But a DB spokesman says 18.5% of the company’s electricity use is generated from renewable energy sources, and that DB already relies more on renewable energy than the nation’s consumer grid does. DB also has set a goal of 30% renewable energy by 2020.
The mining company BHP Billiton has reached a preliminary agreement to establish a potash export facility at Port of Vancouver USA, in Washington state. BHP has selected proposals from Canadian Pacific and BNSF Railway for transporting potash to the port.
“The port and BHP Billiton have reached preliminary agreement to proceed and are working to finalize terms and a lease agreement,” the Port of Vancouver USA said in a statement.
BHP's planned potash mining project is at Jansen in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Jansen reportedly is being developed to produce potash amounting to about 12% of existing global annual capacity.
“We expect Jansen to get the go-ahead,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Joel Jackson said in a note to investors.
For the exit months ended June 3,2010, revenue increased 20.6% to C$38.7 million compared to C$32.1 million for the same period in 2009. Net income of C$587,000 compared to a net loss of C$2.4 million for the comparable 2009 period. Earnings per share of C$0.04 compared to a loss per share (C$0.16) last year
Fausto Levy, interim president and CEO of Global, commented, “We are encouraged by our favorable operating progress, the sale of G&B Specialties, Inc. and the pending sale of the assets of Bach-Simpson Corp. and resolving the obligations under our credit agreements.
“Thefavorable progress of the VIA Rail Canada locomotive remanufacturing contract is tempered by the slow economic recovery negatively impacting the freight car repair business,” Levy said. “With the economy now showing signs of growth, the outlook of the railroad industry also appears to be improving. However, overall railroad volumes are improving slowly. Despite the mild economic recovery, there likely will be a lag between recovery of shipping volumes and the decision of railroads to start restoring previously cancelled capital and maintenance programs.”
Levy said Global continued to benefit from transit business growth in the second-quarter and six-month periods, with more than 50% of revenue now generated from transit customers.
California’s Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District,north of San Francisco, says its request for proposals to build diesel multiple-unit (DMU) cars has prompted six offers from manufacturers. SMART did not identify the companies, but did say they were based in North America, Europe, and Asia.
"It's an excellent response," said John Lackey, SMART's capital projects director. "We're very pleased with the number of proposals." SMART spokesman Chris Coursey said the agency was hoping for four written responses.
Voters in Sonoma and Marin counties approved Measure Q in 2008, authorizing a quarter-cent sales tax to finance a projected $1.1 billion passenger rail service, with 14 stops between Cloverdale and Larkspur, Calif. At Larkspur, riders could transfer to ferry service to access San Francisco. Construction is anticipated to begin next year, with rail service commencing in 2014.
Intermodal traffic volume continues to show robust strength, according to a report released Thursday by the Intermodal Association of North America.
IANA notes volume rose 17.2% in the second quarter of 2010 compared with the comparable 2009 period. Domestic container traffic notched a 16.4% gain during the quarter, “setting a new record high,” while international container volume rose an even healthier 20.9%. “This was the first time in nearly four years that domestic container growth was surpassed by an increase in international container volume,” IANA said. Although domestic container volume grew at a somewhat slower pace than international for the first time in recent years, it was the 20th consecutive quarter of growth for domestic containers, IANA said.
Trailers also recorded a 5% gain during the quarter, but are expected to continue their long-term downward trend later this year.
Overall domestic intermodal volume rose 13.2%, a gain strong enough to erase 2008/2009 volume losses and set a new record for the highest domestic intermodal loadings in a quarter, IANA reported.
“Inventory restocking likely played a major role in driving the large increase in intermodal volume recorded this quarter. During last year’s downturn, retailers aggressively cut inventories to the point where they were so low at the beginning of 2010 that they could not support even a modestrise in consumer spending. As a result, inventory replenishment has resumed and has become a key driver of intermodal growth. Although total intermodal shipments are still below pre-recession levels, they have significantly recovered,” IANA said.
Though the high speed rail proposal linking Tampa and Orlando (and eventually Miami) has been the high-profile rail development in the Sunshine State, Florida also is moving to reinstate passenger rail along its eastern coast. To that end, the state has requested $250 million from the Federal Railroad Administration to advance more direct Amtrak service between Jacksonville and Miami as part of its Florida East Coast Corridor project.
The project would use right-of-way owned by Jacksonville-based Florida East Coast Railway, owned since 2007 by Fortress Investment Group LLC. FEC for decades had expressed disinterest in hosting Amtrak service along its 351-mile route, but has modified that stance in recent years.
Amtrak currently links Jacksonville and Miami in more circuitous fashion through its Silver Meteor and Silver Star long-distance trains, which also link Florida with New York.
Patriot Rail Corp. announced Thursday that it has executed a letter agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to provide freight service on the Piedmont & Northern rail corridor in Gaston County.
The P&N corridor, which is around 20 miles west of Charlotte, is a 13-mile line from Mount Holly to Gastonia, with a spur toward Belmont. It interchanges with Norfolk Southern at Gastonia and CSX Transportation at Mount Holly.
The P&N was built in 1911 as an electrified interurban freight and commuter railroad by James B. Duke, founder of Duke Energy Co.
Under the agreement, Patriot will be responsible for operating, maintaining, and marketing freight rail service on the P&N. In 2009, NCDOT completed an upgrade of the westernmost four miles of the rail line and anticipates upgrading the remainder of the line by the spring of 2011.
Pennsylvania's Transportation Commission has approved a 24% cut in planned improvements to highways, rail freight, bridges, and aviation over the next 12 years.
This means that starting Oct. 1, the state plans to spend $51.6 billion to improve transportation infrastructure, down from $67.9 billion anticipated in 2009. The cut amounts to $16.3 billion.
Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler issued a statement attributing the cut to the questionable levels of federal funding and dwindling state resources.
Governor Ed Rendell has asked the state legislature to meet Aug. 23 to reexamine transportation needs.