Choosing the Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc. 2009 Exposition in Nashville, Tenn., as its announcement stage, GE Transportation on Tuesday said it has launched the Connection line of Positive Train Control-compliant products for rail networks operating in the United States.
The Erie, Pa.-based subsidiary of Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric Co. said the PTC-compliant line was in response to passage last October of the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which mandates PTC for most major rail routes throughout the U.S., and for all rail routes handling a mix of freight and passenger rail traffic.
GE said the Connection line addresses four issues railroads must prevent with a PTC system: train-to-train collisions; “over speed” derailments; incursions into established work zone limits; and movement of a train through a switch left in the improper position.
In a statement, GE Transportation said, “This means upgrades for approximately 100,000 miles of track, close to 90% of the total rail network, and 17,000 locomotives to make North American railroads PTC ready. Today, there are more than 100,000 wayside signal devices alone on rail lines throughout the U.S. and Canada. In some cases, larger railroads will need to add PTC functionality to several wayside locations per day, every day, just to meet the mandate within the specified timeframe.”
On Monday, GE Transportation unveiled its Evolution® Series locomotive Model ES44C4.
House Resolution [H.R.} 233, the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009, currently being considered by Congress, would damage the public interest and severely distort the relationship between regulation and antitrust laws, the Association of American Railroads said Tuesday.
CSX Transportation has chosen RailComm to to provide awireless remote control yard system at the Class I carrier’s Tilford Yard inAtlanta. The RailComm Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) System will provideremote control to 17 GETS HydraSwitch machines and a crossing gate.
RailComm’sDOC® system will be configured to control all switches individually as well asprovide eNtrance eXit (NX) routing functionality.
RailComm’s 2.4 GHz RADiANTTM data radios will provide awireless communications network to link the office with the fieldlocations.
Mesa, Ariz., has approved a 2.7-mile extension of Valley Metro light rail into the city’s downtown retail district along Main Street.
The City Council backed the route despite concerns from some property owners and businesses seeking seeking alternate routes to the $194 million project; supporters of the Main Street route noted a reroute via either First Street or First Avenue, each one block away from Main Street, would add at least $17 million to the cost.
Both Valley Metro and the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council must also approve the proposal, with both entities expected to bestow their blessing.
Funding for the project comes from a half-cent sales tax that Maricopa County residents approved in 2004, along with federal matching funds. Construction is set to begin in 20122, with revenue service beginning in 2015.
Valley Metro, which opened in the waning days of 2008, crosses into Mesa from neighboring Phoenix, but the line’s eastern terminus falls short of the city’s primary business district. Mesa city officials, and even many opponents to the selected route, have made clear their desire for an LRT extension despite their differences, in contrast to other Phoenix-area municipalities, such as Glendale, which have balked at LRT proposals.
The United Transportation Union says it recognized some time ago that furloughs of operating crews would be necessary as traffic slumped. That's when UTU began to talk with the carriers about devising ways to ensure that a sufficient number of crews would be available when traffic came back.
Union Pacific, with memories of being caught crew-short after the UP-Southern Pacific merger, has responded with a solid plan, says the union.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal, UP at a cost of around $50 million a year is arranging that 1,600 of its 5,000 furloughed workers--many of them trains conductors--will continue to work eight days a month to remain current on training and qualifications. They will also get all health benefits. Calling these workers back will take less than 30 days vs. 60-to-90 days for other furloughed employees.
Among other considerations, notes UTU's Frank Wilner, this will help prevent some of the best-qualified young workers from straying to other employment.
Union Pacific CEO Jim Young, who is also chairman of the Association of American Railroads, says he expects new railroad regulations from Congress "probably within the next year" in response to complaints from captive shippers that they are being overcharged.
Young believes a compromise is possible between railroads and their customers that will protect shippers from unfair pricing and at the same time permit railroads to recover their replacement costs.
"If they get this wrong, I will cut back capital [spending] significantly," said Young.
The Omaha-World Herald suggested that a replacement-cost pricing formula would not satisfy the shipper lobby, Consumers United for Rail Equity, whose executive director, Bob Szabo, fears railroads might inflate their costs by scheduling projects they will never build.