The Surface Transportation Board said Wednesday that it had directed Canadian National “to come before the board and explain the significant differences between information on street-crossing blockages in the Chicago area that the railroad has provided to the board and the results of an independent audit conducted by the board.”
STB noted that as a condition of CN’s 2008 acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern, it required CN to report every street-crossing blockage of 10 minutes or more. “In its November and December 2009 monthly reports, the railroad reported a total of 14 blockages caused by stopped trains,” said STB. “But an independent audit conducted on behalf of the Board by its third-party consultant, HDR Inc., found 1,457 instances during that same period of crossings blocked for 10 minutes or more by stopped or slowly moving trains.”
STB asked CN and HDR to appear at a hearing in Washington April 28 to explain why CN's submissions differ from data automatically reported by its own crossing gates and “why the railroad did not disclose that it had such information.”
It ordered CN in future reports to list all crossing blockages of 10 minutes or more, “whether as a result of stopped trains or slow-moving trains.” The Board also directed the railroad to supplement any previous reports that omit data for lengthy delays caused by slow-moving trains.
STB said it acted after “numerous complaints by community and elected leaders.”
The Railway Tie Association has unveiled a series of educational videos on tie grading, with nine modules containing instructional highlights of the RTA's most successful training event, its annual Tie Grading Seminar. The modules capture the essence of the classroom instruction and makeevendifficult terms and concepts accessible to every tie producer's and railroad's employees, RTA says.
The first six modules condense three days of the most important lectures on Wood Species Identification, Learning Specifications and Tie Defects, Quality Control, Proper Seasoning and Handling of Ties, and Wood Preservation into less than four hours of quality video instruction.
Modules 7 through 9 are designed to place the viewer in the tie grading station at a wood preservation plant. The first ofthese non-narrated, graphically illustrated videos offers the student an opportunity to see how tie graders do their jobs. The remaining videos are tests, some with keys and written narratives.
A 30-day or one-year license to view the series is available for purchase by the public. RTA members receive a significant discount off of non-member rates. As an added bonus, once an order is placed for the series, the purchaser can download RTA's Visual Guide to Tie Defects and Specifications. This executable file is an interactive guide with many higher resolution example photos illustrating tie defects and how they relate to tie specifications. There are just-for-fun and real tests included as well.
Access to the streaming video modules and bonus Visual Guidecan be found at www.rta.org/Default.aspx?tabid=164.
The H Street-Benning Road streetcar line in Washington, D.C., now under construction, could be extended to provide a link to Union Station, under a plan being advanced by the District Department of Transportation. DDOT is recommending use of an underpass to allow streetcars to traverse Union Station property underneath existing rail infrastructure.
DDOT officials will seek federal funding for extension. The current H Street-Benning Road work, funded by the city, is now scheduled to open in 2012 after numerous setbacks. It likely would utilize three Inekon streetcars only recently arrived from the Czech Republic, originally purchased for use on another city streetcar project, the Anacostia Line, which began construction last year.
Last week city Councilman Jim Graham urged the H Street link be given priority over the oft-delayed (and partially rerouted) Anacostia Line. But DDOT spokesman John Lisle said, “We are accelerating the timetable for the H Street/Benning Road line to be operational, and we expect it and the Anacostia Line to begin service in 2012.” Lisle added, “They are both priorities.”
The H Street-Benning Road route has its own problems, as it would enter the federal historic portion of the city that bans overhead catenary wire. Continued clashes with some preservationist groups has prompted DDOT to explore hybrid streetcar options. A dual-mode streetcar, utilizing catenary power or battery power, is under consideration to mollify preservationist groups. (Some of those groups appear determined to thwart streetcar development regardless, rail advocates assert.)
Bombardier Transportation has won an order valued at $54 million from Poland's Koleje Mazowieckie for 11 TRAXX electric locomotives. Delivery is scheduled for summer 2011. It's the first purchase of electric TRAXX locomotives for passenger transport in the Polish market.
The new two-cab electric TRAXX P160 DC locomotives operate at speeds of 160 km/h (100 mph). They will haul Koleje Mazowieckie's37 Bombardier-built double-deck coaches in push-pull operation.
Ake Wennberg, president of Bombardier Transportation'sLocomotives and Equipment Division, said that to date more than 1,450 TRAXX locomotives have been ordered for operation throughout Europe. The car bodies for all TRAXX locomotives are manufactured at a plant in Wroclaw, Poland.
Cary, N.C.-based Railinc Tuesday released a major update to the RailSight™ CLM (Car Location Message) engine, which delivers real-time track and trace data for freight rail.
The company says RailSight now gives rail equipment owners, shippers, third-party logistics managers, and transportation management software (TMS) providers improved ability to manage and view their rail fleets and account profiles through an intuitive and easy-to-use web tool, along with more data element options.
Details of the RailSight application, including features, functions, and technical requirements, are available on the product website at www.railinc.com/railsightinfo.
RailSight also now features a bridge to the Railinc Umler rail equipment information system for automatic fleet configuration management for users of both systems. Umler fleet changes can now flow automatically into the RailSight system and CLM feeds. This upgrade provides users with more effective and efficient online management capabilities than previously available, as well as immediate access to equipment data within their fleets. RailSight now also offers additional appendable data elements such as last air brake test and latitudes/longitudes for mapping applications.
“The new RailSight Online tool and Umler bridge give all of our customers more control over how they can manage and create value in their businesses,” said Chuck Hieronymi, RailSight product manager. “Additional RailSight features, functions, and the new web interface enable our customers and channel partners to deliver better, faster, and cheaper solutions in a demanding marketplace.”
Siemens Mobility said Tuesday it has established a new website “dedicated to its high-speed rail business in the U.S.” The new site is www.usa.siemens.com/highspeedrail.
Sacramento, Calif.-based Siemens Mobility is part of Siemens AG. Like many global rail supply companies, Siemens is seeking to maximize its chances in an improving U.S. high speed rail market, modest though that market might be by global standards. Siemens Mobility is already well-established in the North American light rail transit marketplace, and claims it "supplies 1 out of every 3 light rail vehicles in North America."
BNSF Railway Tuesday said it has honored 93 shippers with BNSF’s Annual Product Stewardship Award for the safe transportation of hazardous materials by rail during 2009. The 93 companies have successfully implemented the ethics of Product Stewardship under the American Chemistry Council's Responsible Care® initiative.
In 2009, BNSF presented 86 customers with its Stewardship Award.
Implemented in 1997, BNSF's Product Stewardship Award is presented to shippers who transported a minimum of 500 loaded tank cars of hazardous materials during the previous year with zero non-accident releases (NARs) during the entire transportation cycle.
“This is a record year for the number of customers who have received BNSF’s Stewardship Award. We are pleased that each year the numberof customers receiving this award grows. It demonstrates our customers and the rail industry’s focus on the safe transportation of hazardous materials,” Katie Farmer, BNSF vice president, Industrial Products Sales, said at a special presentation at BNSF's corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Tex. “The product stewardship of these 93 customers helps support the safety of our employees, the communities we serve, and the environment.”
SYSTRA Engineering, Inc., and AECOM Technology Corp. on Monday announced that MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and MTA Metro-North Railroad (MNR) chose their joint-venture effort to provide support services for the both railroads’ Positive Train Control (PTC) initiatives.
The joint venture partners said the project will meet the requirements of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which requires passenger and freight railroads to supplement existing train control systems with new high-tech safety systems by 2015. The program will initially involve the creation of a PTC Implementation Plan for Federal Railroad Administration approval.
Once the plan is accepted, the SYSTRA/AECOM team will provide preliminary and final design as well as construction-related services for the PTC systems—encompassing wayside signal systems, rail vehicle onboard systems, office systems, and data radio communications infrastructure.
“As a leader in the design and implementation of PTC systems worldwide, we are proud to receive this contract and delighted to support this initiative,” said Diego Diaz, SYSTRA president (pictured above left).
“AECOM is thrilled to be working with the two largest commuter railroads in the United States to achieve the federally mandated requirement for Positive Train Control. Being selected for this project further solidifies AECOM’s leadership in the Transit Systems arena,” said Michael Sweeney, AECOM’s U.S. Northeast Region transit leader.
RENFE, Spain’s national rail operator, can now increase the commercial speed from the present 200 km/h to 250 km/h (from 125 mph to 155 mph) and therefore reduce the travel times in some of its routes, Bombardier said.
RENFE ordered 45 AVE S-130 trains withvariable gauge from a Talgo-Bombardier consortium in order to serve the entire Spanish railway network, operating under AC and DC current systems as well as under all existing ATP systems in Spain. Bombardier said this train series is the only one in the RENFE fleet that can work with all the existing national signaling technologies (ERTMS, LZB, EBI Cab 900 TBS, and ASFA).
Bombardier is providing the complete electric and electronic equipment, including the propulsion and auxiliary power systems and the ATP system. The approval of the EBI Cab 2000 system covers operation in ETCS Level 1 and Level STM (specific transmission module) mode and will allow the AVE S-130 trains to make dynamic transitions between ETCS Level 1 and all national wayside ATP systems by interfacing with integrated STMs.
The train-by-train authorization for the Bombardier’s ETCS technology has initially been awarded for 23 trains to operate on the Madrid-Valladolid and Madrid-Lérida lines.
Anders Lindberg, head of the Bombardier Transporation Rail Control Solutions Division, said in a statement, “This is a significant milestone for Bombardier in Spain and adds to our global portfolio of ERTMS deliveries. In addition, we are pleased to be contributing to the high speed rail program being implemented in Spain, one of the most advanced in the world.”
DB last month acknowledged its attempt to acquire the company; representatives from Arriva have declined to comment on the matter.
DB already has a substantial presence outside its traditional domain within Germany, including its operation of the Chiltern Railways route between London and Birmingham; DB also runs rail freight operations in Britain under subsidiary Deutsche Bahn Schenker.