Railinc Corp. has promoted Robert Simora to Chief Information Officer with responsibility for providing “the vision and leadership for Railinc’s data, product development, and information systems platforms [and] also leading activities around company strategy and innovation.”
“Rob has transformed Railinc’s product development processand consistently demonstrated the type of executive leadership required to advance our IT processes and infrastructure to the next level,” said Allen West, president and CEO of Railinc. “His expertise has helped us create more customer-driven products and applications while lowering Railinc’s cost of operations. That’s a benefit to all our freight rail industry partners.”
Before joining Railinc in 2007 as assistant vice president, product development, Simora was director of IT for Tekelec, a telecommunications company, and also served as an IT manager for General Electric.
Axion Power International Inc. said Wednesday that it is joining Norfolk Southern—“a trail-blazer in hybrid locomotives”—in a new project to develop a battery management system that would allow rail locomotives to operate on battery power and recharge their batteries through regenerative braking.”
“Utilizing Axion's unique PbC batteries with their highlevel of charge acceptance and high cycle life will allow selected locomotives to operate free from diesel generator sets—and will help make Norfolk Southern trains the cleanest in North America,” said Axion Power Chairman & CEO Thomas Granville.
Phoenix suburb Mesa, Ariz., continues to prepare for a three-mile extension of Phoenix Valley Metro, expected to open in 2016 with four new stations. Mesa City Council now has approved the sites and street layouts of the stations, following a meeting earlier this week.
At present LRT service on the 20-mile route runs east from Phoenix andthrough Tempe, Ariz., reaching just one mile into west Mesa but falling short of Mesa’s downtown retail district by about one mile. The City Council has approved stations—all along Main Street—at the intersections of Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street, and Mesa Drive.
The plan must still be approved by Phoenix Valley Metro, but approval is expected.
San Diego-based APS Technology Group, Inc., announced Wednesday that CSX Intermodal has selected the APS Rail OCR Portal and Rail Tracking Systems for its new intermodal terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio. The rail yard automation systems automatically identify cars as they enter and exit the facility and tracks movements within the yard.
APS said the new systems will be integrated with the Tideworks terminal operating system, Kuenz wide-span gantry cranes, and Railcomm, Inc. automated switch control systems to speed up the flow of equipment and increase equipment visibility throughout the operations.
“We will be able to better utilize the capabilities ofthe cranes and terminal operating system, improving productivity and throughput overall,” said Paul Hand, general manager, CSX Intermodal, North Region.
In a call to “save a critical domestic industry,” four U.S. House representatives have introduced the Green Railcar Enhancement Act of 2010, designed to provide tax credits to bolster U.S. freight railcar repair and replacement—and save between 32,000 and 50,000 jobs.
During a media teleconference Wednesday, lead sponsors Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore., pictured at left) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) stressed the bipartisan support for the bill, H.R. 1806, which Blumenauer said now has garnered support from 50House members, “more than 20 from each party.” Blumenauer acknowledged no comparable progress yet in the Senate but expressed optimism that such progress would come.
The teleconference was cosponsored by the ARCI Committee of the Railway Supply Institute. RSI information concerning the act is available here.
“We’re very excited about a movement here; it’s bipartisan legislation that will help to save a critical domestic industry” which, Blumenauer suggested, might be on the verge of collapse. “We’re concerned that” [existing operators] may not weather the recession.”
The proposed legislation would be good for U.S. domestic manufacturing and the environment, Blumenauer and Brady asserted. Brady cited Dallas-based Trinity Industries, Inc. as one company in his congressional district that could use the assistance; for his part, Blumenauer cited The Greenbrier Cos. of Lake Oswego, Ore., as a local beneficiary. Brady, responding to a question on other potential beneficiaries, noted “1,200 companies that own railcars, [and] more than half of them own fewer than 100 railcars,” suggesting the Act would aid large and small shippers.
The Act “would provide a 25% tax credit for replacing orrebuilding old railcars,” with the cars requiring certification, during a twoyear period—cars “built this year or next,” Blumenauer said. Projected costwould be less than $1 billion, “probably $800 million,” for production of anestimated 65,000 freight cars that “would put 30,000 to 50,000 people to work.” The upgrades would have tomeet mimimal standards of an 8% increase in cargo capacity or fuel efficiency,targets the sponsors said were endorsed by the supply industry.
The two-year proposed focus of the bill (2010 and 2011) “helpsour economy when it’s needed,” Brady said.
The teleconference also included a recorded statement from James Ungar, vice chairman of St. Charles, Mo.-based American Railcar Industries. Ungar said domestic railcar building “has virtually collapsed,” costing the nation 54,000 jobs. The Act, he said, was “absolutely necessary to save our industry.” Ungar insisted the Act was “not a handout; we estimate we can put back to work 50,000 people, ”thus saving unemployment costs and other cost items, while saving fuel use and reducing CO2 emissions by 800,000 pounds per year.” Ungar also cited the benefits a strong domestic railcar supply sector offered to national security.
Other original sponsors of the bill include Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.).
The American Public Transportation Association says Denver’s Regional Transportation District won the Operators Competition for APTA’s 18th annual International Rail Rodeo. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority won the rodeo’s Maintainers Competition.The competition was held on June 6 at the VCC/Clark Station in Vancouver, B.C. APTA honored both agencies and other winners Sunday evening at an awards dinner in Vancouver at the 2010 APTA Rail Conference. Nine public transit systems from across North America competed in this international competition, which recognizes the men and women who keep rail systems safe and efficient.Denver’s RTD, winner of the Rail Transit Team Achievement Award, was recognized for the highest rail operator and maintainer team combined score. The winning RTD team members were Robert Dennis, Randall Lovegove, and George Sweeney.
The Operators Competition measures professional skills including: train operation; knowledge of safety regulations; train equipment; and track right-of-way rules and procedures. First place in the Operators Competition was won by RTD’s Robert Dennis. Michael Shepard from Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) was second; the team of Lee-Ann Knight and Ven Rao from BC Rapid Transit (SkyTrain) of Burnaby, B.C., took third place.
The Maintainers Competition judges the ability to troubleshoot maintenance problems. LACMTA’s maintainer team of Glen Abraham, Ronnie Burt, and Eric Czintos notched the top spot; Denver's RTD won second place with the team of Randall Lovegove and George Sweeney. SEPTA's maintainer team of Ed Carruthers, Mike O'Grady, and Jason Rickert took third place.
Amidst its expansion plans, Genesee and Wyoming, Inc. Tuesday reported its May 2010 carload volume rose 19.0% from the comparablemonth a year ago, and its volume for the second quarter to date was up 17.5% compared with the year-ago period.
The company, which operates 62 short line and regional properties, said its metals traffic increased due to increased steel shipments in GWI's New York/Ohio/Pennsylvania and Southern Regions. Other traffic increases were attributed to increased overhead coal shipments in GWI's NewYork/Ohio/Pennsylvania Region.
Farm & food products traffic grew primarily due to increased grain shipments in GWI's Australia and Canada Regions, GWI said.
Greenwich, Conn.-based Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. (GWI) Tuesday said it had signed an agreement to acquire the assets of FreightLink for $227.2 million, plus assumption of debt worth about $1.4 million. GWI also expects to incur transaction-related expenses of $19.1 million, principally related to the payment of stamp duty (an Australian asset transfer tax).
The acquisition includes FreightLink Pty Ltd., Asia Pacific Transport Pty Ltd., and other corporate entities comprising FreightLink.
FreightLink is the owner and operator of the 1,400-mile Tarcoola to Darwin railroad, linking the Port of Darwin to the Australian interstate rail network in South Australia. The rail line is located on land leased to FreightLink by the AustralAsia Railway Corp. under a concession agreement that terminates in 2054.
FreightLink commenced operations in 2004, following the construction of the Alice Springs-to-Darwin portion of the rail line. FreightLink’s above-the-rail business currently handles approximately 60,000 carloads peryear using 23 locomotives and 430 railcars. Its business is divided into two main components: general freight and bulk minerals. FreightLink has been in receivership since November 2008.
GWI expects to close the acquisition and to commenceoperations in the fourth quarter of this year. FreightLink will be operated aspart of GWI's Australia Region, Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA), which is based in Adelaide, South Australia, where FreightLink is also headquartered. GWA has managed FreightLink's above-the-rail services since its inception in 2004, and currently provides the majority of its crews, manages its train operations, and also leases locomotives and wagons to FreightLink. GWI says that, given the operational overlap, it anticipates significant cost and capital efficiencies from combining FreightLink's operations with GWA.
The big-truck legislation that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law June 4 will cost local and state taxpayers up to $150 million year in increased maintenance costs as well as pose new safety threats on already overcrowded roads, says Tom Guilmet, executive director of the Florida Safety Council and member of the Florida Coalition for Safe Highways.
The omnibus transportation legislation approved last week included an 8,000-pound increase in allowable weights for big rigs operating on state roads.
“This weight increase not only damages Florida’s transportation infrastructure, but also threatens people’s lives,” said Guilmet as he called on the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to withhold issuing permits for heavier trucks.
“The added weight certainly impacts a truck’s ability to safely maneuver on our roads,” said Guilmet, “yet this legislation does nothing to require trucking operators to increase safety precautions. The amount of damage to our roads will also radically increase while failing to offer any solution to appropriately fund the resulting road repair and maintenance.”
Tucson, Ariz., Monday contractually became the second U.S. city to order streetcars from Clackamas, Ore.-based United Streetcar, LLC. Tucson will receive seven cars under a $196.8 million contract for use on its planned 3.9-mile route, with delivery to be completed by 2013.
United Streetcar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works, Inc., last August signed a $20 million contract for six streetcars with (virtual) hometown Portland, Ore., using designs based on Czech Republic-based Inekon Co.; the latter supplied Portland’s initial three streetcars, and has signed a licensing agreement with United Streetcar to provide the propulsion systems for the additional rolling stock.
Though anticipated for a year, the contract with Tucson gives United Streetcar potential credibility to provide additional equipment sought by other U.S. cities, such as Cincinnati, by leveraging “Buy America” requirements. OIW launched United Streetcar in 2005.
Last February Tucson received a $63 million grant from the Department of Transportation to help fund the line, which will connect the University of Arizona campus with downtown. In May 2006, Tucson voters approved local funding for the project through a half-cent sales tax increase.