Morgan Stanley Research analysts Wednesday issued an upbeat report “adjusting estimates higher” for freight railroad earnings, based on predictions of better-than-expected volume for the second quarter of the year, full-year 2010, and full-year 2011.
“Despite consensus revisions throughout the quarter, we believe rails remain positioned to beat consensus 2Q10 estimates,” Morgan Stanley Research analysts William Greene, John Godyn, and Adam Longson said in a note. Because of that, the trio said, “we are revising estimates across our rail coverage to account for recent traffic trends, management commentary, and updated guidance.”
The note said Class I railroads “are likely to see upside revisions driven by the following trends: (1) Volumes tracking better than expectations, (2) Operating leverage to recovering volumes, and (3) Sustained momentum on core price.”
The analysts said they “continue to favor rails” and, in particular, highlighted CSX, Kansas City Southern, and Union Pacific “as our picks.”
Officials from Dallas Area Rapid Transit Tuesday announced the projected long-term shortfall in sales tax revenue will result in the indefinite delay in the third section of the Orange Line, from Irving to Terminal A at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, a second Downtown Dallas alignment (either LRT or streetcar), and the Blue Line extension from Ledbetter Station to the UNT Dallas campus.
The connection to Terminal A had been scheduled for completion in December 2013, the second downtown alignment for 2014, and the UNT Dallas extension for 2018.
DART spokesman Morgan Lyons stressed that more near-term expansion projects are not affected by the decision. These include completion of the Green Line from Pleasant Grove to Carrollton and the new Lake Highlands Station in December; the Blue Line extension from Garland to Rowlett; and the first two sections of the Orange Line from Bachman Station in Northwest Dallas to Irving in 2012.
The proposed 20-year financial plan includes $4.7 billion in capital project funds for the rail expansion and other projects, such as the planned purchase of new buses and other items required to maintain the agency’s state of good repair.
“We are pleased we will be able to maintain almost all of our current expansion. Every transit agency around the country is not so fortunate,” DART President Gary Thomas said. “At the same time, we are very disappointed that it does not appear we willcomplete all of our projects as planned. We will continue working to find ways to advance these projects as best we can based on the current and anticipated economic and financial conditions.”
More than 75% of DART’s income is from the collection of a 1% sales tax in each of the 13 cities served by DART. Anticipated sales tax receipts for fiscal year 2010 are expected to be between $13 million and $15 million below the original estimate of $387.8 million.
Geneva, Ill.-based Miner Enterprises, Inc. says its SaniLOK™ gates recently were selected for application to food grade covered hopper cars by American Railcar Leasing, Chicago Freight Car Leasing, and TrinityRail for new and rebuilt cars leased or sold to Cargill, Domino Sugar, Imperial Sugar, and Union Pacific.
“Sugar and other food grade commodities must be unloaded under sanitary conditions and we have engineered the SaniLOK gate to meet that requirement and simplify the gate operation,” said Miner Vice President of Sales Ric Biehl. “Recently, in response to our client’s needs, we modified our plenums to reduce the chance of sugar clogging in the chamber, thus allowing for faster and more complete cleanout of cars.”
For the new car applications, Miner’s SaniLOK gate was specified as well as its TCC-III constant contact side bearings, TF-880 TecsPak® friction draft gears, and Series 2008 brake beams.Said Biehl, “We understand that it is the only sanitary stainless steel gravity-pneumatic gate built with all USDA and FDA approved materials in the flow path of the commodity and has a unique movable vacuum chamber that is easy to clean.”
A Sacramento judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against both Caltrain and the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which claimed Union Pacific consent was needed for any rail right-of-way improvements. Superior Court Judge Kevin Culhane said the suit has no merit to proceed to trial.
Two property owners near rail right-of-way in Menlo Park, Calif., filed suit last August; both claim they have proven the case that UP has veto power over any project in northern California.
In legal filings, both Caltrain and high speed rail attorneys acknowledged the assertion. “(Caltrain) acknowledges that high speed rail, generally speaking, cannot be constructed without Union Pacific's consent and will not enter into a contract to do so without first obtaining Union Pacific's consent,” Caltrain attorneys said in legal filings seeking to dismiss the case.
UP has said it would not seek to block construction of the project and, while it is opposed to the project south of San Jose where it owns all right-of-way, it was willing to work with the rail authority on sharing the rail line from San Francisco to San Jose.
Retired San Mateo County Judge Quentin Kopp, a board member of the authority and a longtime rail advocate, saw the decision as a victory for Caltrain and the authority. “It was the most frivolous lawsuit I could remember in 50 years as a trial lawyer and trial judge,” he said.
Caltrain attorney David Miller said the agency has yet to ask Union Pacific for its consent but fully expects the freight company to give it. “If UP felt its rights were being violated, they would have been the ones that brought the suit or intervened in the suit,” Miller said. “This is our corridor. We have a good relationship with UP.”
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the first major construction contracts, exceeding $100 million, for the Santiago Calatrava-designed Transit Hall and Oculus portions of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
The board approved an $86.6 million contract with Sorbara Construction Corp. and a $19.2 million contract with EIC Associates Inc.
“With today’s Board actions, we’ve awarded more than $1 billion in contracts for the Transportation Hub,” said Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia. "Once completed, this landmark facility will serve more than 200,000 daily commuters, anchoring the World Trade Center site and a revitalized Lower Manhattan.”
To date, workers have installed 54 Calatrava-designed arches to form the Hub Connector, which links the Hub and the World Financial Center via an underground passageway. The Hub work also has included the installation of four massive Calatrava columns weighing about 55 tons that will provide structural support for the PATH Hall roof.
A U.S. high speed rail program relying in part on state funding contributions is a problematic proposal at best, according to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office. In fact, state budget difficulties could cause delays in advancing those projects already bankrolled with startup stimulus funds from the federal government under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
GAO, stating what some in the rail industry consider obvious, observes that building a U.S. HSR network will require funding “far beyond the funds provided by the ARRA in a time of continuing federal and state deficits. The Obama Administration has acknowledged that the $8 billion funding package was only a “down payment” toward such a network.
GAO said, “Rail industry stakeholders are optimistic that they can meet increased public investment in intercity passenger rail; however,they are looking for (1) federal leadership in setting safety standards for high speed rail and in promoting interstate cooperation for service across state lines, among other things, and (2) stable funding to create a structure for developing a passenger rail marketplace.”
“Additionally, stakeholders said that a stable federal funding stream would encourage [private] firms to enter and invest in the intercity passenger rail marketplace,” GAO said, noting federal funding’s potential influence on the railroad supply industry.
“However, even with strong federal leadership and funding, it could take several years to provide the necessary infrastructure, such as for building new passenger railcars, potentially making it difficult to spend some Recovery Act high speed rail funds by 2017, as required by law,” GAO said.
T.Y. Lin International announced Tuesday that it has named Joseph Pizzurro, P.E., to the post of Director of Transit/RailEngineering in its New York City office. Pizzurro will be responsible for leading teams on projects for Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro-North Railroad, MTA Long Island Rail Road, MTA New York City Transit, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Pizzurro joins TYLI from AECOM, where he was associate vice president, senior project manager, handling projects for several rail agencies in the New York Metropolitan area.
“I am extremely pleased that Joe has joined our team here in New York. He has an outstanding reputation for hands-on management and uncompromising client service,” said Jim Steere, TYLI vice president, New York Metro Operations. “Joe also has an extraordinary depth of knowledge, not only technically, but also in the understanding of how the railand transit industry connects with the broader infrastructure on a local and regional level. He will be a powerful asset to our firm and the clients that we serve.”
Wabtec Corp. announced Tuesday that it has formed a joint venture in China known as Wabtec Golden Bridge Transportation Technology to manufacture couplers for transit systems. The joint venture's first order is a $7 million contract to provide couplers for subway cars for the Hangzhou Metro line in Zhejiang province.
The other partner in the venture is Hangzhou Golden Bridge Railway Equipment Co., Ltd., which Wabtec said offers operational and marketing expertise in the Chinese transit market.
“With this JV and its first contract, we have continued to increase our presence in China, one of the fastest-growing rail markets in the world,” said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer. “This rapidly growing market offers significant growth potential, as we develop ways to leverage our technology and product expertise.”
Pennsylvania has allotted $1 million for a solar-power field on part of a Superfund site at the Paoli, Pa., rail yard, as part of a plan for a new transportation facility, state officials said Monday. The solar facility will cover three acres. Construction is to begin in the fall and be complete by the end of the year.
The energy generated by the panels will feed into a substation in the yard that provides electricity for SEPTA and Amtrak on Amtrak’s Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg line. The panels are expected to contribute 2% of the energy used daily by Amtrak and SEPTA.
The project is part of a larger $50 million plan to build a new Paoli train station and parking garage several blocks west of the current facility. The substation would also be replaced. The rail yard also has benefitted from $20 million in environmental remediation.