Asserting that China is "at the epicenter of revolutionizing rail infrastructure and operations for the 21st Century," IBM has announced the opening of a Global Rail Innovation Center in Beijing.
The center will bring together of the world's foremost industry leaders, researchers, and universities" in a country the is introducing "new high speed trains and a hugely expanded rail network at an unprecedented pace," said IBM in an announcement released Thursday in Beijing and at IBM headquarters in Armonk, N.Y.
Members of the center's advisory board include: Judge Quentin L.Kopp, chairman of he California High Speed Rail Authority; Professor Joseph Sussman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Tsinghua University; Michigan Technological University; Motorola; Railinc; Sabre; and RMI.
Karl Dierkx, director of the new center, said that "by bringing together leading industry experts and advanced technologies, we can help rail provides increase rail capacity, efficiency, safety, and customer service, resulting in networks of smarter rail systems around the world."
Greenwich, Conn.-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Thursday said it foresaw its second quarter profitability falling between 35 and 37 cents a share, down at least 18% from its earlier projection of 45 cents a share, due to a continuing decline in freight traffic on its 63 short line and regional railroad properties.
Analysts, on average, expected 44 cents, which has moved down 3 cents during the past two months.
Genesee & Wyoming also lowered its revenue guidance to $130 million, compared with an earlier expectation of $140 million to $145 million. G&W expects its operating ratio to be between 81% and 83% during the quarter; it had expected a ratio of 79% to 80%.
G&Ws overall traffic for the first two months of the second quarter fell 5.5% from the comparable period a year ago. On a same-railroad basis, measured against properties under the G&W banner one year ago and excluding recent acquisitions, traffic dipped 21.4%.
The company said it so far has furloughed 234 employees since the beginning of the year, including 70 in the current quarter. In addition, 64 of the company’s locomotives, roughly 12%, are in storage,including 17 units placed in storage since the end of the first quarter.
Florida legislators May 1 rejected a proposed $1.2 billion regional rail system, "SunRail," centered in Orlando and envisioned to serve five nearby counties, but Florida’s Department of Transportation still must honor $44 million in costs owed numerous suppliers.
The costs include $462,000 owed to CSX Transportation, for rail safety inspection, flagging, and signal maintenance. CSX had planned to sell right-of-way to the state as part of the proposal.
State Sen. Paula Dockery, who helped defeat the proposed rail plan, said the cost was "an outrage," saying FDOT and other SunRail supporters spent "a quarter of a million taxpayer dollars to lead rallies and bus businesspeople upto Tallahassee to lobby this flawed CSX commuter-rail deal." SunRail backers said the costs were necessary to prepare for the proposed service. Moreover, "We don't see this as a waste of money," said Christine Kefauver, representing Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who supported SunRail. "A lot of environmental work has been done that has a shelf life."
FDOT records show that the largest sum, $10.1 million, is owed to EarthTech, the project’s primary consultant. Other contractors reimbursed, or to be paid, include: Lochrane Engineering, $3.4 milllion: WRS Environmental Services, $2.6 million; URS Corp., $1.9 million; and Shutts and Bowen, real estate attorneys, $1.7 million.
Unless other means are found to fund SunRail, the deal struck by CSX and FDOT expires June 30.
New Jersey Transit's need to provide enough power to haul 10-car bilevel trains spurred the corporation Wednesday to approve a $72 million contract with Bombardier Transportation for nine ALP-46A electric engines. The order supplements NJT’s current fleet of 27 ALP-46 units, and will help replace 32 older ALP-44 engines ordered as early as 1990.
“It’s more cost-effective than rehabilitating the old ALP-44s and the first ALP-46A will be delivered by next year and the order filled by 2011,” said NJT Executive Director Richard Sarles.
NJT’s increasing use of Bombardier multilevel equipment on its three primary electric lines—the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line and Morris & Essex Lines—has increased passenger capacity, but at times prompted the need for the company to use two electric engines to ensure prompt performance of 10-car trains.
The ALP-46A units are each rated to sufficiently power a 10-car consist; in addition, the ALP-46A units are expected to provide more rapid acceleration, reducing potential dwell time issues, particularly on the Northeast Corridor.
Lake Oswego, Ore.-based railcar supplier Greenbrier Cos. will receive a $75 million term loan from New York investment firm WL Ross & Co. LLC, allowing the company to pay down debt and prepare for future industry growth. The two parties continue to discuss a possible increase in the loan’s size, to $150 million.
In return, Greenbrier has issued warrants to WL Ross to purchase 3.4 million shares, amounting to a company stake of 17% stake, with a $6 “strike price,” or roughly a 25% discount to the stock’s closing price Wednesday. WL Ross will also buy at least $1.5 million in stock.
The squeeze on railway suppliers already has forced Greenbrier Cos. to slash its dividend and implement cost-cutting measures. Greenbrier Cos.also has diversified by pursuing other related businesses, including refurbishment and parts, leasing and services, and marine manufacturing. More than half of the company's revenue in its latest fiscal year came from outside railcar production.
Shortly before noon Thursday, shares of Greenbrier Cos. traded at $8.33, up 4.52%.
Toronto-based GO Transit will commence summer weekend and holiday rail service to Ontario’s Niagara Region beginning June 27. The service will offer four train trips daily in each direction on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from June 27 through through Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, October 12.
The two-hour trip will link Toronto’s Union Station with Port Credit GO Station, Oakville GO Station, Burlington GO Station, St. Catharines VIA Rail Station, and Niagara Falls VIA Rail Station.
An adult single ride fare from Union Station to Niagara Falls will be C$15.90.
"This new GO rail service will bring tourists to Niagara's wineries, restaurants, and attractions such as the incomparable Niagara Falls. Our government is expanding public transit across the province, making investmentsthat build our economic infrastructure and put people to work," said Ontario Minister of Transportation Jim Bradley in a statement.
The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) is expected Thursday to approve a $4 million environmental and engineering study of the Columbia Pike Streetcar, a five-mile line extending from Washington Metro’s Pentagon City Station in Arlington, Va.
The streetcar plan, backed by Virginia’s Arlington and Fairfax counties, will overlap and supplement existing bus routes currently handling about 14,000 passengers per day. The streetcar is projected to cost at least $160 million, up from an estimate of $150 million in 2008; it would include 12 stops, according to the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, a non-profit public/private partnership pursuing the project under its Pike Transit Initiative subsidiary.
“We’re quite enthusiastic about it in Arlington,” said Christopher Zimmerman, an Arlington County supervisor who sits on WMATA’s board of directors. “For us, it’s one of our top transportation priorities in Arlington. It’s critical to the development planned in the corridor.”