The Surface Transportation Board posted preliminary statistics Thursday showing that fatalities on U.S. railroads increased 18.2% to 370 in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2009.
The principal contributors to the increase were trespassing fatalities, which increased 20% to 228, and grade-crossing fatalities, which were up 12.7% to 124.
Train accidents cased six fatalities in this year’s first six months, compared with one in the prior-year period. There were 10 employee fatalities this year, the same as in the 2009 period.
The number of accidents and incidents reported by 740 railroads totaled 5,403 in this year’s first half compared with 5,424 reported by 741 railroads in the 2009 period.
Train accidents were down 5.4% to 892 in the 210 period. Collisions were down 7.5% to 62, and derailments declined 2.4% to 640. Yard accidents declined 1% to 488.
Canadian officials said Thursday up to C$265 million in federal funds (US$251 million) will be made available to advance light rail transit in the Kitchener-Waterloo metropolitan area of southwestern Ontario. The region has advocated for LRT and,at times, has politely suggested its LRT needs have been unnecessarily subjugated to those of nearby Toronto.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the money will go towardconstruction of a light rail system between Kitchener and Waterloo. A bus line between Kitchener and Cambridge, Ontario, also is part of the plan. Harper says the federal contribution of C$265 million is one-third of the projected cost.
The money is part of Ottawa's previously announced stimulus spending strategy.
Harper says the plan will stimulate the regional economy. "Projects like this will pay dividends for our economy and our communities long into the future," he said.
Both U.S. freight carload traffic and U.S. intermodal traffic hit their highest levels in 2010 during the week ended August 28, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday.
U.S. freight carload traffic rose 5.8% compared with the same week in 2009, though still trailing 2008’s total by 11.3%. U.S. intermodal traffic advanced 17.1% from the same week in 2009, though down 1.2% from 2008 levels.
AAR said 15 of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, with “significant increases” in metallic ores, up 62.%, metals and metal products, up 40.2%, and farm product excluding grain, up 33%.
Canadian freight carload traffic rose 16.5% from the comparable week in 2009, while intermodal also rose, up 24.4%. Mexico’s two major railroads reported freight carload traffic rose 18% from one year ago, while intermodal grew by 26.7%.
The University of Minnesota has finally reached accord with the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council on construction of the Central Corridor light rail transit line through St. Paul, Minnesota’s state capital.
Bombardier, Inc. reported Wednesday that during the fiscal quarter ended July 31, Bombardier Transportation signed $4.3 billion of new orders, bringing its order backlog to $30.3 billion on July 31, compared with $27.1 billion on Jan. 31.
Bombardier Transportation revenue totaled $2.1 billion for the second quarter, compared with $2.5 billion for the same period last year. EBIT was $140 million, compared with $159 million last fiscal year, while EBIT margin reached 6.6% vs. 6.2% last fiscal year.
Bombardier Aerospace's revenue for the quarter totaled $2 billion, compared with $2.4 billion last fiscal year. Bombardier Aerospace's backlog was $17.1 billion as at July 31, 2010, compared with $16.7 billion as at January 31, 2010.
Bombardier corporate revenue totaled $4.1 billion for the latest quarter, compared with $4.9 billion for the corresponding period last fiscal year. Net income for the quarter amounted to $148 million, compared with $202 million for the same period last year.
Norfolk Southern on Wednesday announced the order of four additional EPA Tier 2 compliant, high-horsepower locomotives, designated the PR43C and powered by new generation Caterpillar engines.
The new locomotives will feature upgraded traction systems, control systems, and modernized cabs.
Norfolk Southern noted that in 2008 it joined Progress Rail Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., in a cooperative effort to develop the PR43C locomotive.
“Since then, two PR43C prototype locomotives have been built and placed in service on the Norfolk Southern system,” said the railroad. “These locomotives have been closely monitored during a series of developmental and operational testing.”
The PR43C locomotives are claimed to be “unique in the industry.” Remanufactured from reusable locomotive cores, they have a dual-engine configuration. The primary engine, a Caterpillar C-175 rated at 3,600 horsepower, and a secondary engine, a Caterpillar C-18 rated at 700 horsepower, work in tandem to power the locomotive.
“By rebuilding the PR43C from a reusable locomotivecore and providing 4,300 total horsepower, the PR43C locomotive serves as an environmentally friendly solution for the rail industry,” said NS.
“The PR43C’s performance is optimized for the current duty cycle and operational needs of the railroads,” said Ken Hofacker, senior vice-president of locomotive development for Progress Rail. “Our concept of large and small diesel engines working intelligently together maximizes fuel savings while minimizing emissions and lowering life-cycle costs.”
Bombardier Transportation said Wednesday it has received an order for 100 MultiLevel railcars from the New Jersey Transit, valued at approximately $267 million. The order also includes options for up to 79 additional vehicles.
The company said the NJ Transit order is its second with Bombardier for Multilevel cars. Under a 2003 contract, Bombardier provided 329 MultiLevel cars now in widespread operation in New Jersey.
“We are proud to be a partner with NJ Transit in offering rail transportation as a solution for increasing mobility, reducing congestion, and benefiting the environment and the regional economy. This new order for our reliable, safe, and comfortable equipment illustrates the confidence NJ Transit places in Bombardier and our products,” said Raymond Bachant, president, Bombardier Transportation, North America.
The Department of Transportation Tuesday released its protocols for the manufacture of high speed rail equipment in the U.S., specifically for bilevel passenger cars. Standards for traditional single-level equipment still have yet to be released.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the standards would enable U.S. manufacturers to compete equally in an anticipated competitive marketplace, with players from the U.S. jostling with more well-established international manufacturers of HSR gear.
DOT says the standard will help control assembly costs, and also lower maintenance and repair costs.
“This is a milestone in the history of rail transportation,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo (pictured at left).“These standardized bi-level passenger railcars will be able to operate nationwide and are compatible with existing equipment. A common design also makes it easier to train maintenance personnel, stock parts, and perform repairs, which reduces costs.”
Bilevel HSR cars also will meet all current safety requirements and regulations, as well as be able to satisfy future regulations for crash energy management. New cars also will meet requirements mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As existing passenger rail vehicles are replaced, the addition of new stock will enhance system safety, DOT said.
The establishment of technical standards for high-speed rail operations is required by the Passenger Railroad Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 and was developed by the Technical Subcommittee of the Section 305 Next Generation Equipment Committee.
Lexington, Mass.-based RailRunner NA, Inc. said Tuesday it has been designated as an effective technology for intermodal transport by Berlin-based Studiengesellschaft für den Kombinierten Verkehr (SGKV), which it said is “one of the foremost organizations studying intermodal transportation in Europe.”
RailRunner said it commissioned the SGKV study because of increasing interest by logistic and intermodal companies in its new technology, and based upon the request of several German and European approval authorities who required independent reviews of RailRunner technology by respected European institutions.
The report compares the use of RailRunner technology with competing intermodal technologies in transporting 45-foot European containers, 40-foot ISO containers, 20-foot tank containers, swap bodies, semi-trailers, and roll-on/roll-off systems.
The SGKV study analyzes existing intermodal transport technologies with regard to their operational efficiencies, capital costs, environmental implications, and other parameters.
Using a hypothetical Hamburg-to-Budapest itinerary, the report says RailRunner offers the best bimodal (road-to-rail) technology available based on multiple critical factors.
Among other findings, “Another remarkable advantage of the RailRunner system is that it easily can be integrated into existing intermodal transport systems,” the SGVK report says. “RailRunner can be fully comprised in existing terminals, thus enlarging the overall terminal capacity. The costs are relatively small.”
L.B. Foster Co. and Portec Rail Products, Inc. announced Tuesday that they have executed a second amendment to the Plan of Merger dated Feb. 16, 2010, extending the “drop dead” date of the merger agreement from Aug. 31 until Dec. 31.
The announcement said that in exchange for Portec’s agreeing to the second extension, L.B. Foster has agreed to “increase the tender offer share price from $11.71 per share to $11.80 per share and, subject to certain conditions, pay Portec $2 million should the transaction not close by Dec. 30, 2010.”
“The primary obstacle to the acquisition has been the antitrust concerns of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, particularly related to Portec's domestic joint business,” said the prospective merger partners. “Although there can be no assurance that L.B. Foster will satisfy the DOJ's antitrust concerns, L.B. Foster believes that the DOJ should approve the transaction if assets relating to the joint business of Portec's Huntington, W. Va., facility are divested to a viable buyer.”
L.B. Foster also announced that it is extending its previously announced cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock of Portec until midnight on Sept. 30. The offer was previously set to expire Aug. 30.