Pakistan will mark its independence day August 14 with the launch of through freight rail service, including container traffic, linking its capital, Islamabad, with Istanbul, Turkey, via Tehran, Iran’s capital. The route spans 6,506 kilometers, or 4,036 miles, including 1,900 kilometers (1,178 miles) in Pakistan, 2,570 kilometers (1,593 miles) in Iran, and 2,036 kilometers (1,262 miles) in Turkey.
Pakistan Federal Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said that if the freight service succeeded, a passenger train would also be introduced on the route. He also expressed hope that Pakistan Railways would eventually launch train service to and from Europe through Turkey.
Bilour said trade volume among Pakistan, Iran and Turkey was roughly $15 billion and increasing, and the three nations concur that the best way to reduce the cost of goods was to link the three countries of the Economic Coordination Organization with rail service.
Track gauge remains a problem; Pakistan’s rail lines are mostly broad gauge, while Iran’s railroads are standard gauge. Iran will provide transhipment facilities at Zahedan station until a standard gauge line is laid between Zahedan-Mirjaveh and Quetta.
Pakistan also has agreed to form a consortium with China on various projects, including the laying of railway track up to Iran and Afghanistan and construction of passenger railcars in Pakistan. A six-member committee would oversee the projects, with three members appointed by China and three by Pakistan.
Bilour said Pakistan has placed an order to China for 200 passenger coaches, of which 150 would be built in Pakistan.
Kansas City Southern announced Wednesday that it has assigned broadened responsibilities to David R. Elbrecht, former vice president transportation of the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. (KCSR), who on July 24 was appointed senior vice president operations of Kansas City Southern de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (KCSM).
"Mr. Ebbrecht will remain in the United States as senior vice president operations and continue to direct KCSR's rail operations as a result of the departure of Scott E. Arvidson, KCSR's former executive vice president and chief operating officer," said Wednesday's announcement. "Mr. Ebbrecht will report to David L. Starling, president and chief executive officer of KCSR and president and chief operating officer of KCS." No reason was given for Arvidson's departure.
William H. Nolen, senior vice president operations of KCSM, will remain in this role and direct the operations of KCSM. He will continue to report to Jose G. Zozaya, president and executive representative of KCSM.
Norfolk Southern announced Wednesday that it plans to build a $95 million intermodal terminal in Greencastle, Pa., as part of the railroad's Crescent Corridor initiative to establish a high speed intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast.
The new facility, serving the Mid-Atlantic region of the corridor, will be constructed on 200 acres next to the planned Antrim Commons Business Park. It's scheduled to go into operation in late 2011.
"Because of its strategic location to key markets in the Mid-Atlantic region, the new Franklin County terminal is vital to the success of our Crescent Corridor," said Wick Moorman, Norfolk Southern's chief executive officer (pictured at left). "We commend Gov. Ed Rendell for his efforts to provide state funding for our intermodal terminal initiatives in Greencastle and Philadelphia. We also want to thank Senators Robert Casey and Arlen Specter, and Rep. Bill Shuster, for their support of a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation so that Pennsylvania will benefit from the economic development opportunities and job growth potential of integrated logistics hubs."
"Rail freight is an important component of any transportation infrastructure discussion," Gov. Rendell said. "Pennsylvania has invested heavily in rail freight because it is a smart, environmentally friendly, cost-effective infrastructure investment. I will continue to advocate for rail freight investments at the state and national level."
NS said $2.5 billion in Crescent Corridor projects have been identified, and "based on the public benefits that stand to be derived in the form of highway congestion relief, NS plans to implement the Crescent Corridor initiative through a series of public-private partnerships. When the Crescent Corridor initiative is fully implemented, it is anticipated that more than one million truckloads of freight will be absorbed from the highways to the rails annually, saving the U.S. more than 170 million gallons of fuel per year."
The Transport Workers Union demonstrated its strength in recent contract negotiations with MTA New York City Transit Authority.
An arbitration ruling made public Tuesday gives workers an 11.1% pay increase over a three-year period.
More important, the ruling disclosed that during the negotiations, the transit authority withdrew a demand for the right to operate its trains with one-person crews. The agency had wanted to start converting to one-person operation on the L and No. 7 lines, which are being modernized for that purpose with new signaling and new railcars compatible with a changeover.
This was key issue to the arbitration panel, which said the transit agency withdrew its crew demand in return for hoped-for concessions for the union on health care provisions, but there was "no evidence" that the management strategy had worked.
The TWU welcomed the arbitration awed, saying it brought transit workers up to the same level of pay and benefits given to other city employees. But thet Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the new contract would add $350 million to the authority's already-strained budget during the next three years.
Five Amtrak routes have been added to Google Transit, Google's public transportation trip planning function, for trip planning, Amtrak and Google have announced. The routes include: Empire Service (New York-Albany-Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.); Ethan Allen Express (New York-Albany-Rutland, Vt.); Hiawatha Service trains (Chicago - Milwaukee); Pacific Surfliner Service (San Diego-Los Angeles-Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, Calif.); and San Joaquin service (Oakland-Sacramento-Fresno-Bakersfield, Calif.).
U.S. domestic container traffic continued to defy overall downward intermodal volume trends in the second quarter, gaining 0.9%, compared with the comparable 2008 period, according to the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). Leading the advance was 53-ft. equipment moves, which jumped 5%; IANA says this segment now represents 95% of all domestic container loads.
Domestic container volume increased in the majority of IANA regions, with the Mountain Central region posting the largest percentage jump, up 17%. The Midwest region gained 4%.
In sharp contrast to such gains, international volume, which still accounted for more than half of all intermodal shipments despite its recent downtrend, fell for a ninth consecutive quarter, with double-digit declines in every region, IANA said. Western Canada logged the smallest decline, whilethe U.S. Northwest experienced the largest falloff.
Trailer shortfalls accelerated during the quarter as domestic freight continued its migration to containers; trailer volume has nowfallen during 16 of the last 18 quarters, interrupted only by a brief period of growth in mid-2008, IANA said. All trailer sizes, including the standard 53-ft. length, fell during the quarter, with total quarterly trailer volume falling below 400,000 loads for the first time since IANA started reporting in 1996.
Light rail riders throughout Portland’s TriMet system last weekend began boarding the agency’s new Type 4 cars, built by SiemensTransportation Systems, Inc., as the agency put the first of 22 Type 4s into revenue service.
Bombardier Transportation said Wednesday it has received a maintenance contract from the Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen mbH (LNVG) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for two Bombardier TRAXX locomotives and 34 double-deck intermediate and driving coaches. This order is worth roughly $26 million and will run until 2022.
Bombardier also said the duration of existing maintenance contracts between the two parties has been standardized. The contracts will run until 2022, increasing the value of these contracts by approximately $57million.
The LNVG fleet to be maintained by Bombardier will consistof 40 TRAXX locomotives and 220 double-deck intermediate and driving coaches.The fleet covers numerous routes throughout Lower Saxony.
"Bombardier Transportation has done a great job and itshigh levels of availability and reliability have contributed to passenger satisfaction. Passenger numbers have, as a result, also increased substantially. Our follow-up order is due to this excellent partnership," said Hans-JoachimMenn, spokesperson for LNVG management.
Said Bombardier Transportation Services Division President Lauent Troger, "This is a great achievement for us. With this order, LNVG is once again showing their trust in Bombardier as a quality manufacturer and service provider."
Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica says it has launched a new contract-switching business, RailAmerica Contract Switching Services (RACS), to serve industrial customers.
With contract switching, businesses that have a continuous need for railcar handling engage a third-party supplier to move railcars into, out of, and within a manufacturing or distribution facility, the company says. In addition to railcar switching, RACS will offer track maintenance, railcar andlocomotive repairs, and railcar cleaning.
“RailAmerica offers four key benefits to customers in need of a contract-switching provider–extensive experience in railway operations, a strong commitment to safety, rigorous employee training programs, and a presence throughout the country,” said Jeff Geary, vice president of the new rail-switching subsidiary.
RACS says it can supply on-site staff and equipment quickly and efficiently, decreasing the cost of transporting locomotives, equipment, and personnel. It also will offer easy access to mechanical facilities, which furnish equipment and make necessary repairs.
For customers already using a third-party provider, RACS says it will work to ensure a smooth transition to the RailAmerica approach.
RACS says its service and equipment offerings include: seven-day-a-week coverage; flexible range of hours; on-site managers who work closely with customers; railcar inspections to reduce loading dock car rejections; railcar and locomotive repair; track maintenance and inspection; plant personnel assistance; computerized yard inventory reports; locomotive models selected to meet customer needs; car-cleaning equipment; and maintenance-of-way equipment.
RailAmerica is owned by funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, a global alternative asset manager.
Class I railroad employment in the U.S. dropped to 149,614 in mid-June, down 1.27% (or 2,372 jobs) from mid-May and 8.45% lower than in June 2008.
Transportation (other than train and engine) was the only group to show a year-over-year improvement. Its 6,856 workers in June represented a 3.46% increase from June 2008.
The following employment groups were still showing declines in employment in June this year compared with June a year ago: Transportation (train and engine), 55,434, down 17.45%; maintenance of way and structures, 35,382, down 0.72%; maintenance of equipment and stores, 28,619, down 5.37%; professional and administrative, 13,276, down 3.13%; and executives, officials, and staff assistants, 10,047, down 0.02%.