Virginia Railway Express officials have denied Amtrak's challenge to a plan to have an international company operate the commuter rail service's trains. Amtrak is contesting VRE's plan to award a five-year, $85 million contract to Keolis Rail Services America to operate VRE trains, succeeding Amtrak, which held the operations contract for 17 years. Keolis would assume operations next July.
Amtrak says some "improper scoring" may have occurred when VRE reviewed the four applications for the operation and maintenance contract that the regional rail agency put out to bid in May. VRE Chief Executive Dale Zehner reviewed the procurement process and found Amtrak's challenge to have no merit, VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said.
Amtrak also failed to challenge the Oct. 16 decision within the 10 days allotted in VRE's request for bids, according to a letter Zehner sent to Amtrak on Nov. 2.
In a letter to commission members and other Virginia officials, the Federal Railroad Administration’s chief counsel said that, although the agency has no opinion on the suitability of Keolis, it is concerned about maintaining safety .It said the company selected for the contract must be able to communicate not only with Amtrak, which dispatches trains in and out of Amtrak’s Union Stationin Washington, D.C., but also with Norfolk Southern and CSX, landlords of the rail lines used by VRE. Amtrak also has filed a Freedom of Information Act request last month asking VRE to turn over copies of Keolis's proposal and evaluators' notes and score sheets. Zehner said in his letter that the request would be met once the two commissions vote on the contract.
The Rail Group of The Andersons Inc. had an operating loss of $1.1 million in the third quarter of 2008, down sharply from the $5.2 million it earned in the third quarter of 208.
In an earnings statement Thursday, the company said, "The group continues to be impacted by the double-digit declines in rail traffic." It added, "Gross profit from the leasing business was significantly less due mainly to lower utilization rates and the corresponding increase in storage expense from idle assets. The group now has approximately 24,000 cars and locomotives. The average utilization rate in the quarter was 74.4% in comparison to 93.3% for the same period last year."
The Andersons reported a corporate profit of $1.3 million in the third quarter on revenue of $601 million. Its best performer was the Grain & Ethanol Group, with operating income of $8.9 million, compared to year-earlier results of $9.4 million. Losses were reported by the Plant Nutrient Group and the Turf & Specialty Group.
American Railcar Industries, Inc. reported Thursday that it shipped approximately 610 railcars in the third quarter of 2009, compared to 3,120 in the third quarter of 2008, resulting in EBITDA of $9.1 million and net earnings of $1.1 million.
“As the weak economy is driving low demand for railcars, we shipped 71% fewer railcars in the third quarter of 2009 as compared to the same quarter of 2008," said James Cowan, president and CEO of ARI. "The weak railcar market has and will continue to require us to evaluate our production levels at all manufacturing locations and we plan to continue to adjust our workforce and production levels as needed. In addition, we have reduced overhead costs at all manufacturing locations as a result of reduced spending. Our railcar services segment continues to experience strong results with revenues increasing 32% in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter of 2008. Our balance sheet continues to be strong with $287.1 million in cash and $50.1 million in short-term investments.”
For the three months ended Sept. 30, 2009, revenue was $78.1 million and net earnings were $1.1 million or $0.05 per share. This compared with revenue of $217.2 million and net earnings of $7.4 millionor $0.35 per share.
For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2009, revenue was $345.0 million and net earnings were $5.0 million or $0.23 per share. For the corresponding period up last year, revenue was $605.8 million and net earnings were $23.8 million or $1.12 per share.
Cubic Transportation Systems has won a contract valued at nearly $20 million to deliver new smart card-capable fare gates and ticket vending machines in nine San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) subway stations in San Francisco. MUNI is partially funding the project with federal stimulus money. The new fare collection equipment is to be fully operational by the spring of 2011.
The company said it will install the equipment and software necessary to fully integrate the MUNI stations into the regional TransLink smart card network managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). TransLink allows riders to use one convenient card to travel on MUNI and other public transportation systems in the Bay Area. Cubic also manages the TransLink system for MTC.
Cubic installed MUNI's existing bus fare collectionequipment 18 years ago.
L.B. Foster Co. of Pittsburgh has joined Covington, Ky.-based Lally Pipe & Tube and industry veteran Jim Legg to form LB Pipe & Coupling Products, LLC, to manufacture couplings and accessories for the waterwell, oil country tubular goods (OCTG) and American Petroleum Institute (API) markets.
LB Pipe & Coupling Products will occupy a manufacturing facility currently under construction in Magnolia, Tex.
"L.B. Foster is pleased to team with Lally in building this exciting joint venture. This will be the beginning of developing new opportunities in the future," said L.B. Foster Vice President Tubular Products Merry Brumbaugh.
MTA New York City Transit President Howard Roberts resigned Wednesday morning after 2 1/2 years as the chief executive of the largest U.S. subway and bus system. Roberts will step down November 30.
Roberts’ departure was not wholly unexpected, given the recent arrival of Jay Walder as MTA chairman; Walder has indicated he planned to revamp MTA corporate leadership during his tenure.
Some transit advocates credit Roberts for a series of reforms, including the reorganization of subway operations through assigning general managers to specific subway routes and giving those managers more responsibility and decision-making authority for those routes.
Detractors included some MTA directors who voiced frustration with ongoing subway delays and service disruptions. Others accused Roberts of being too comfortable with labor. Still others disparaged the general manager assignments to specific subway lines as thinly veiled cronyism.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Wednesday gave ProTran1 LLC a Notice to Proceed to install ProTran1’s ProTracker Alert System on all GCRTA’s transit vehicles. Blue Anchor, N.J.-based ProTran1’s contract with GCRTA is worth $750,000.
The regional authority already has put in place the supplier’s ProTracker system for Track Worker Safety. The Alert System is expected to be completed within six months.
Wabtec Corp.'s Vapor Rail unit has won a contract worth about $30 million to supply electric, sliding plug doors for 440 subway cars to be built by Hyundai Rotem for the $14 billion Marmaray project in Istanbul, Turkey, which will connect the European and Asian sections of the city when completed in 2012.
The Marmaray project, which includes construction of the world's deepest tube tunnels, consists of a new, 8.5-mile section and the upgrading of 39 miles of existing suburban lines.
"We're pleased to be working with Hyundai Rotem on this high-profile program," said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec's presidentand chief executive officer. "We have taken important steps toward building a global rail door business, and this contract represents significant progress in our efforts."
In 2009, Wabtec created a global Center of Excellence for rail doors, with headquarters at Vapor Rail's Montreal office, and manufacturing facilities in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Sassuolo, Italy.
Efforts by local groups to turn back a proposed streetcar line for Cincinnati fell short at the ballot box Tuesday. By a 56%-to-44% margin, voters rejected Issue 9, a proposed charter amendment that would have given public opinion the ultimate say on proceeding with the streetcar and other regional, statewide, and national rail systems involving Cincinnati.
Backers of the measure said it was designed to better reflect the "will of the people." Pro-rail advocates, including elected officials such as Mayor Mark Mallory, opposed the measure, claiming it provided a “double standard” for transport improvements that road and highway projects have not been subject to, and that decisions for all modes should be made by elected representatives.
But another referendum in 2010 may seek a direct vote on building the proposed 7.9-mile, $185 million streetcar line, also backed by private-sector interests and being advanced as a public/private partnership effort. The project still seeks $60 million in federal funds.
"The other side kept saying this wasn't about the streetcar, so we'll make it about the streetcar," said Cincinnati NAACP President Christopher Smitherman, who led the drive to get Issue 9 on the ballot, and h as claimed that any streetcar operation would be utilized mostly by "downtown Yuppies."
NAACP was joined by the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending andTaxes (COAST) and the group WeDemandAVote in advocating Issue 9.
Countered Bob Maly, co-chairman of Cincinnatians forProgress, “Issue 9 lost because it was too broad and too confusing.” He added, "Also, I think people tend to like rail and didn't want to see Cincinnati left out." Other pro-rail advocates noted the streetcar plan would tie inwith the proposed 3-C high speed rail route linking Cincinnati with Columbus and Cleveland by intercity rail.
Pro-rail voices also included the Cincinnatus Association, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, AFL-CIO, and the Cincinnati League of Women Voters.
The streetcar proposal would link the city’s Downtown riverfront with Uptown neighborhoods and the University of Cincinnati.
Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Tuesday reported third-quarternet income of $21.7 million, up from $21.2 million in the third quarter of 2008. The company’s third-quarter diluted earnings per share slipped to $0.53 with 41.2 million weighted average shares outstanding, compared with diluted EPS of $0.58 with 36.6 million weighted average shares outstanding in theyear-ago quarter.
The results factored in GWI’s sale during the quarter of both its Mexican operations and Bolivian investment, which netted $2.2 million ($2.4 million after-tax, or $0.06 per diluted share) in discontinued operations.
Total revenue fell $23.0 million, or 14.4%, to $136.4 million, compared with $159.4 million in the third quarter of 2008. But the company's operating ratio held firm at 79%.
GWI President and CEO John C. Hellmann said, "Despite an extremely weak economic environment, we continue to manage our costs well and to generate strong free cash flow. In the third quarter, we maintained an operating ratio of 79% despite significant volume declines, and we are focused on ensuring that our productivity improvements remain intact when the economy improves. Meanwhile, we believe that the 5% increase in our revenues from the second quarter to the third quarter is indicative of a growing degree of economic stability."