The Association of American Railroads reports that for the holiday week ending Jan. 2, intermodal volume registered an increase, but carload freight remained down in comparison to 2008.
U.S. intermodal traffic totaled 149,128 trailers and containers, up 1.85% from a year ago, though down 9% from 2008.
Railroads originated 227,227 carloads, down 1.5% from the same week in 2008 and down 17.9% from 2007.
Thirteen of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were from with the same week last year, with increases ranging from 2.5% for grain to 53.3% for motor vehicles and equipment. Declines ranged from 24.9% for the catch-all category "all other carloads" to 0.5% for primary forest products.
Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Jan. 2 was estimated at 25.5 billion ton-miles, down 1.2% from the same week last year and down 25.9% from 2008.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 56,608 cars for the week, up 16.9% from last year, and 31,466 trailers and containers, up 7.4%. Mexico's two major railroads reported originated volume of 7,907 cars, up 17.1% from the same week last year, and 3,702 trailers or containers, up 23.3%.
The Greenbrier Companies Friday reported revenue totaling $172 million for its first quarter of 2010, down from $256 million in the prior year's first quarter.
The company recorded a net loss of $$3.2 million for the quarter, compared to a net loss of $3.9 million in the prior year's first quarter. EBITDA for the quarter was $14.8 million, or 8.6% of revenue, compared to $12.5 million, or 4.9%, of revenue in the first quarter of 2009.
New railcar deliveries in the first quarter of 2010 were approximately 350 units, compared to 800 in the first quarter of 2009.
The company modified its multi-year railcar agreement with General Electric Railcar Services in subsequent to the quarter. Greenbrier's new railcar manufacturing backlog as of Nov. 30, 2009, inclusive of the GE contract modification, was approximately 4,900 units with an estimated value of $430 million, compared to 15,900 units valued at approximately $1.39 billion as of Nov. 30, 2008.
William A. Furman, president and chief executive officer, said, "Our results continue to reflect depressed demand as a result of the weakeconomic environment. We remain focused on cost containment and operational efficiency, and managing the company for cash flow and liquidity in this environment. While recent indicators suggest that a recovery may be emerging in certain sectors of the economy, North American rail loadings remain soft and a significant portion of the entire North American railcar fleet remains idle. However, we are starting to see signs that certain of our markets are beginning to stabilize and slightly improve."
Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. (MBCR), the private company that operates Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) regional rail services, won a two-year contract extension Wednesday worth $559.7 million, while MBCR pledged to continue improving on service delivery.
MBTA’s Board of Directors approved the contract extensionunanimously. State officials said they brought the contract to the board forapproval without putting it on the public agenda, despite voluminous complaints from riders over service quality, particularly during the summer of 2006.
Complaints have declined markedly since then, however, while on-time performance was just under 90% for 2009, falling short of MBTA’s goal of 95% but still much improved from years past. MBTA said “adjustments” made to account for delays caused by its own activities bolstered MBCR’s on-time performance to the 95% level.
FreightCar America has appointed Michael D. MacMahon vice president, business development and strategy, succeeding Charles Magolske, who left the position in December. An announcement Wednesday said MacMahon "will serve as a key member of FreightCar America’s leadership team and continue to be based at the company’s Johnstown, Pa., location."
MacMahon, 43, joined FreightCar America, Inc. in 2005 as a controller in the company’s finance organization. Most recently, he served as vice president of marketing and international sales.
Ed Whalen, president and CEO, commented, “We are extremely pleased to have Mike accept the challenge to help guide FreightCar America’s long-term strategy. He has an established track record of making significant contributions to our company, and I am confident he will continue to do so in his new role.”
The Surface Transportation Board has granted the request of the state-owned Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) to build and operate the 80-mile as the Northern Rail Extension, subject to extensive environmental mitigation conditions.
In an announcement late Wednesday, the STB said: "After considering the entire public record before it, including both the transportation aspects of ARRC's proposal and potential environmental issues, the Board was satisfied that the proposed line would provide reliable, year-round freight and passenger service to the region south of North Pole, AK; access to training areas used by the United States military; and an alternative to the Richardson Highway, now the sole means for surface transportation of commercial freight in the proposed project area. The Board was also satisfied that the proposal would foster development o fAlaska's economy by expanding ARRC's passenger and freight network to an area currently without rail service."
The decision follows the board's analysis of the Sept. 192009, Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued by the agency's Section of Environmental Analysis. STB said the FEIS reflects "careful comparison of potential alternatives to the proposal to identify environmentally preferred rail alignment alternatives, as well as conditions to avoid, minimize, or mitigate potential environmental impacts." STB said it was "satisfied that the preferred rail alignment alternatives it authorized, along with the environmental conditions the Board imposed, would avoid, minimize, or mitigate, to the extent practicable, potential environmental impacts."
Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo and FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae will be keynote speakers at three regional seminars on high speed rail in February, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the International Union of Railways (UIC) both announced.
APTA and UIC developed the three regional seminars to provide U.S. decision makers with the information necessary to implement high-speed rail.
Entitled “International Practicum on Implementing High-Speed Rail in the United States,” the seminars will take place February 8-9 in Washington, D.C., February 9-11 in Chicago, and February 11-13 in Los Angeles.
Railway Age is the official media sponsor of the event.
The programs feature practitioners from high-speed railsystems around the world and will focus on best practices and lessons learnedfrom European and Asian systems. APTA and UIC say experts from Spain, Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy, and France will share their experience and knowledge, with U.S.-based speakers providing appropriate context for application in the North American operating environment.
The Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx, the Ontario provincial transportation authority, have reached agreement on one aspect of Toronto’s light rail transit future: LRT growth under the “Transit City” plan will take place on standard-gauge track.
TTC’s current streetcar system runs on track measuring four feet, 10 7/8 inches, wider than the standard gauge of four feet, 8 ½ inches. Metrolinx seeks to establish standard gauge in part to capture cost efficiencies both for LRT orders affecting Toronto itself, and for possible future LRT purchases which could involve other Ontario cities considering the mode, including Mississauga, Hamilton, Waterloo, and Ottawa, the nation’s capital.
Still to be addressed is any conversion of existing TTC LRT/streetcar lines to standard gauge. But Metrolinx Vice President John Howe says such conversion also would aid the the province with future streetcar purchase orders.
"What we want to do is remove as much vehicle customization as possible, because we think we can achieve better value for the taxpayer by taking an international off-the-shelf standard design, basically the same proven LRT vehicles that are used elsewhere in Canada, the U.S., and Europe," Howe said.
Also unresolved is the future modal status of TTC’s Scarborough Line, which uses linear induction motor-powered equipment similarto that of Vancouver’s Skytrain. The line itself operates over standard gauge, making its conversion to conventional light rail transit operation more likely (but not yet certain) following the commitment to standard gauge on other portions of Toronto’s urban rail network.
Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Tuesday it has provided a wireless remote control yard system at CSX’s Osborn Yard in Louisville, Ky. The RailComm Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) system provides remote control to several GETS HydraSwitch machines.
RailComm’s DOC® system is configured to control all switches individually as well as provide eNtrance eXit (NX) routing functionality, the company says. The company’s 2.4 GHz RADiANT™ data radios provide a wireless communications network to link the office with the field locations.