The Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis released new statistics this week showing across-the-board improvement in U.S. railroad safety.
The new figures show that in this year's first seven months, train accidents were down 30.9% from the corresponding period in 2008 to 1,041; collisions dropped 31.8% to 73; derailments were off 32.8% to 738; and yard accidents declined 34.3% to 541.
Track causes were blamed for 344 train accidents, down 33.7%; signal causes for 28, down 3.4%; and human factors for 349, down 34.2%.
Highway-rail grade crossing accidents and trespassing incidents caused most of the 404 fatalities in this year's January-July period, a total that was down 20.2% from last year. There were 139 crossing fatalities this year, down 13.1%, and 248 trespassing fatalities, down 6.6%.
The 718 large and small railroads included in the FRA survey reported 12 employee fatalities this year compared with 14 in the same period last year.
Wabtec Corp. announced Friday that has further diversified by acquiring Uifin International from Koch Chemical Technology Group LLC for $93 million. Unifin has annual sales of about $45 million from the manufacture of cooling systems and related equipment for the power generation and transmission industry.
"Unifin is a strategic complement to our Young Touchstone business unit, which is already well established in the industrial cooling systems market," said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec's president and chief executive officer. "The combination of our existing products and technology with Unifin's product line and aftermarket presence strengthens our worldwide position in the industrial cooling systems market, which we believe offers long-term stability and growth potential. In addition, this acquisition further diversifies Wabtec's business model into an adjacent market where we have proven technology and experience. We plan to continue to explore other niche opportunities worldwide to expand our cooling systems business."
Unifin has about 100 employees at three facilities, two in the U.S. and one in Canada, where it designs and manufactures a variety of cooling systems and related components, including oil coolers and pumps.
Canadian Pacific intermodal Test Train No. 110-30 passed through Alyth Yard, Calgary, Alberta, late Thursday as it continued its test run from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Toronto. It's the longest, heaviest intermodal train CP has ever operated, railroad spokesman Mark Seland confirmed to Railway Age.
The train, 12,000 feet long—2.3 miles—was too long to fit in one of Alyth's ‘P’ yard tracks, so it stayed on the main line. At Calgary, the consist totaled 119 intermodal loads on 165 platforms, and five locomotives, two on the head end and three single units spread through the consist as wireless Distributed Power Units:
CP 9709, CP 9539, 49 loads, CP 8511, 33 loads, CP 8710, 37 loads, CP 8789—119 loads, 0 empties, 11,412 tons, 12,002 feet, and 21,920 hp.
are placed approximately 4,000 feet apart, with the last DPU on the rear
of the train.
“This the most number of remote locomotive positions in a radio distributed power train we have ever operated,” Seland said. "It's the furthest distance we have run between a lead and tailend remote. It's also the heaviest eastbound train we have run out of Coquitlam to Calgary. The train has been running since Wednesday with no issues."
CP Test Train No. 110-30 was expected to arrive at Toronto's Vaughan Intermodal Terminal midafternoon Sunday, Oct. 4.
Photos of CP's intermodal test train north of Toronto by James A. Brown. Mr. Brown is the retired executive director of operations for GO Transit.
North Carolina’s Department of Transportation Thursday announced it had been awarded eight Federal Railroad Administration grants of more than $9 million. The funds will be used for track and safety improvements.
“These grants make it possible for us to improve capacity, reliability, and safety as we continue to modernize our state’s railroads,” said Transportation Secretary Gene Conti. “We look forward to strengthening our partnerships with municipalities, freight, and short line railroads as more grant funding becomes available for continued development of rail infrastructure.”
These eight grants will upgrade rail for heavier trains, reimburse recovery costs associated with Hurricane Hanna, advance locomotive emissions research, develop environmental documents and engineering for new grade separations, streamline freight operations to minimize congestion, and make safety improvements to private crossings on the federally designated Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor, one of 10 candidates for $8 billion in federal stimulus funds targeted for high speed rail development.
Union Pacific Chairman and CEO Jim Young, Iowa Department of Transportation Director Nancy Richardson, and Boone, Iowa, Mayor John Slight Thursday commemorated one of North America's tallest double-track railroad bridges, the new Kate Shelley Bridge spanning the Des Moines River. The bridge is more than 2,800 feet long and 190 feet high. UP says the new bridge improves operating efficiency, supports growth in Union Pacific’s customers’ businesses, and delivers increased freight capacity on the railroad’s busy corridor linking Chicago to the West Coast. UP invested more than $50 million in the structure.
"The new Kate Shelley Bridge enhances our long-termability to improve operational efficiency and customer service," said Young (pictured at left). "Congratulations to all Union Pacific employees and contractors who worked on what is truly a modern-day engineering feat."
"It is only fitting that the new bridge is given the name of the structure it replaced, Kate Shelley, to honor a person who helped save so many lives when she was able to help warn an oncoming passenger train that a bridge had washed out during a stormy night 1881," Young added.
"Freight transportation is critical to the economic success of Iowa and the nation and moving freight by rail is a key component of the overall freight transportation network. I am very pleased to see the completion of the Union Pacific’s new Kate Shelley Bridge that improves the operational reliability and capacity of the rail system to meet the freight needs that are so critical to the agricultural and industrial base of Iowa," said Iowa DOT Director Richardson.
The bridge's two tracks, 20 feet apart, are set on a ballastdeck that is supported by reinforced concrete towers and steel piles. Twotrains can operate on the bridge at the same time at the maximum speed of 70mph. The first train operated overthe bridge August 20.
OCCI, Inc., based in Fulton, Mo., was the contractor for theproject and Omaha-based HDR Engineering Inc., provided the engineering for thebridge construction.
The Association of American Railroads reported Thursday that U.S. rail carload traffic for the week ending Sept. 26 felt the impact of severe flooding halted freight shipments in Georgia and Tennessee for three days, and also affected western carriers that operate through Atlanta. Nationwide, traffic was down 17.1% from the same week last year to 271,659 carloads.
Intermodal traffic for the latest week totaled 205,627 trailers or containers on U.S. railroads, down 16.5% from last year. Container volume fell 11% and trailer volume dropped 37.2%.
All 19 carload commodity groups were down from last year with declines ranging from 6 %t for chemicals to 38.5% for metals and products.
For the first 38 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported total volume of 10,104,171 carloads, down 18.2% from 2008; and 7,141,006 intermodal units, down 16.8 5.
Canadian railroads originated 69,342 carloads for the week, down 15.1% from last year, and 44,838 trailers or containers, down 13.8%. Year to date, Canadian roads reported cumulative volume of 2,304,419 carloads, down 22.6% from last year, and 1,545,090 trailers or containers, down 16.3%.
Mexican railroads reported originated 11,782 carloads, down 8.9% from last year, and 6,636 intermodal units, down 13.9%. Total volume for the first 38 weeks of 2009 was as 432,036 carloads, down 14 % from last year; and 195,933 trailers or containers, down 18.9%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 38 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 12,840,626 carloads, down 18.9% from last year, and 8,882,029 intermodal units, down 16.8%.
Cary, N.C.-based Railinc says it has successfully launched the new Umler system, replacing a 40-year-old legacy system with modern web-based technology. The Umler system is a mission-critical application for the freight rail industry, containing vital information about rail equipment used when servicing freight customers, making trip plans, testing air brakes, or making equipment repairs.
Using the Umler system, rail carriers, equipment owners, and shippers now have real-time access to highly detailed equipment information through an easily accessible and easy-to-use web application. The result is better communication and collaboration among rail partners for better asset management and improved rail safety. “Development and implementation of the new system was an enormous industry effort,” said Alan McDonald, director of the Umler/EMIS project. “Hundreds of professionals throughout the freight rail industry came together to make the new Umler system a success.”The new Umler system was turned on August 31st. Cutover for Umler’s largest users began on September 12, including several large equipment owners, leasing companies, and Class I railroads. The Umler system tracks data on more than two million pieces of rail equipment, including 1.4 million rail cars and 25,000 locomotives.
Cutovers will continue until the end of December. Post-production support will also continue during the next several months, including release of Umler/EMIS 3.3, scheduled for October 18. Railinc will also host "Ask the Experts" Umler webinars each month to help Umler users acclimate to the new system.
“Railinc bent over backward to meet the needs of multiple industry partners to bring this complex system to fruition,” said Randy Voith, technical director for CSX Technology. “Together they worked for many years to develop a system that will better allow us to serve the needs of the rail industry in the new millennium.”Implementation of the new Umler system represents seven years of coordinated, industry-wide development. Representatives from every Class I railroad and many of the largest rail equipment owners participated in developing the system. More than 800,000 lines of code were written containing more than 20,000 business rules. Overall more than two million equipment records were transformed. “The edits and validations in the new system are great,” said Gary Boklewski, database engineering manager for General American Tank Corp. (GATX). “They are leading the industry to a whole new level of data quality and accuracy.”For more information about the Umler project or the new Umler system, visit www.railinc.com/rportal/web/guest/umleremis.