Norfolk Southern Corp., reflecting the growing interest by Class I railroads to cooperate with passenger rail interests to the benefit of both parties, says it would cost just $75 million to upgrade right-of-way between Virginia cities Petersburg and Norfolk.
Addressing the Urban Land Institute Wednesday, Deborah H. Butler, NS’ executive vice president of planning and chief information officer, said the $75 million for improving the route is about half that of an earlier NS estimate. Both estimates are far less than the $262 million projected by Virginia itself.
Chip Badger, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation director, said the state numbers include passenger stations and other costs not counted in Norfolk Southern's estimate. Pricing details will not be released for possibly several weeks, he said. The commonwealth’s estimate does include increasing top speeds along the route from 79 mph to between 90 and 110 mph.
The Petersburg-to-Norfolk route is a stub to the much larger Southeast Corridor high speed rail proposal, which would link both Jacksonville, Fla., and Atlanta to Washington, D.C. (and the Northeast Corridor). That project is competing with nine other proposals, plus the NEC, for $8 billion in stimulus funds targeted for HSR by the Obama Administration.
Blue Anchor, N.J.-based ProTran1 says it has worked with both Amtrak and the Fire Department of New York to develop a wireless 30KV voltage sensing device, initially designed to be used as part of an emergency response procedure covering Penn Station-New York and nearby tunnels that provide access to and from Manhattan on the Northeast Corridor.
Amtrak has awarded ProTran1 a contract to supply 30 units initially for linemen and electricians. Robert J. Verhelle, Amtrak’s deputy chief engineer, Electric Traction, says the device’s use will expand to include more of the Amtrak system in the future.
The voltage sensing device works on 25 Hz and 60 Hz power sources, ProTran1 says. The unit will initially be used as part of the emergency response procedures to inform first responders that the dangerous high voltage has been removed from the tunnel catenary system.
Denver is opting for electric multiple-unit (EMU) rail service to link the city’s proposed regional rail system, with its hub at Denver Union Station, with Denver International Airport.
The city’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) has released a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the East Corridor, and for the proposed Gold Line linking Denver with Arvada, Colo.; both lines would use EMU equipment.
RTD will hold public meetings on the East Corridor on Sept. 23 and 24. The FEIS is available for public comment at http://www.eastcorridor.com/reports.html.
EMU use is widespread among transit properties in the Northeast and in Chicago, given historical and geographic factors. But should Denver stick with the modal choice, the city would become the first U.S. city west of the Mississippi to commit to EMU equipment for regional passenger rail service.
Amtrak Wednesday implemented a “multi-force security surge” at stations and on trains in the Northeast Corridor, which included “random passenger bag inspections at unannounced locations,” according to the Transportation Security Administration. A mix of federal, state, regional, and local officers were on patrol along the route, some accompanied by canine units.
The effort, part of Allied Law Enforcement for Rail and Transit Security (ALERT), was scheduled to improve coordination among many law enforcement and security agencies, covering roughly 150 rail stations in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
“We look forward to conducting more of these operations in the future, varying in size, timing, and location” said John Sammon, a TSA assistant administrator. TSA emphasized that the exercise was not in response to, or anticipation of, any specific security threat.
General Electric Co. is seeking to secure Chinese business partners for its technology infrastructure unit, as it moves to increase its role for both rail and wind power business in the world’s most populous nation.
“We are always looking for partnership opportunities invarious configurations in China,” said GE Technology Infrastructure China President Tim Schweikert. GE is open to making wholly owned investments for assets or in acquiring stakes in Chinese companies to grow a business sector, Schwikert said.
Even a modest presence in China’s rail market could boost Fairfield, Conn.-based GE’s bottom line. China is committing 700 billion yuan (roughly $100 billion) per year in each of the next three years on rail infrastructure, roughly 17.5% of its overall economic stimulus package, to promote growth and ease transport bottlenecks. It hopes to have upgraded or put in place 86,000 kilometers (53,320 miles) of rail by year-end, expanding to 110,000 kilometers (68,200 miles) by 2012.
B.H.I.T., Inc. , a publicly traded company based in Boca Raton, Fla., has acquired 100% of the equity securities of the Wood Energy Group, Inc. for $6.4 million.
St. Louis-based Wood Energy is a railroad tie reclamation/energy generation company. It reclaims ties for Class I, regional, and short line railroads and disposes of them to either the energy co-generation or landscape markets. The company also processes wood products for forest products companies.
Wood Energy has contracts with Union Pacific and CN, as well as International Paper, Mead Westvaco, and others. In 2008, Wood Energy reclaimed approximately 900,000 railroad ties and generated revenue of more than $5.2 million.
The six-year, $500 billion surface transportation bill spearheaded by Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, would terminate the Section 130 rail-highway grade crossing program two years after enactment, according to an update Tuesday provided by Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc. (RSSI).
Said RSSI, “This bill, The Surface Transportation Authorization Act, terminates the Section 130 rail-highway grade crossing program in two years and consolidates the funding and such authority that remains into the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP).”
“This means that if the Chairman’s bill is allowed to remain as crafted, two things happen. First, the annual $220 million Section 130 Rail-Highway grade Crossing program disappears in two years. Second, it is combined with 21 other major highway safety programs, thereby requiring grade crossing interests to compete for limited Federal safety dollars,” RSSI said.
RSSI noted that a coalition of rail interests was working to advance an amendment to the authorization, House Resolution H.R. 2125. Language in the amendment “extends the authorization and funding of the Section 130 program through 2014 and beyond, if possible.”
The American Public Transportation Association released a report Sept. 4 showing that an individual in a two-person household can save an average of $762 a month by taking public transportation and living with one less car.
APTA’s latest Transit Savings Report is based on the Sept. 3, 2009 national average gas price ($2.5896 per gallon) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate. The cost of this parking in a downtown business district is $154.23, according to the 2009 Colliers International Parking Rate Study.
Estimated monthly savings in the top 10 cities with the highest transit ridership: New York, $1,145; Boston, $1,027; San Francisco, $1,014; Chicago, $936; Seattle, $932; Philadelphia, $922; Honolulu, $885; Los Angeles, $835; San Diego, $822; and Minneapolis, $809.