The Partnership for Public Service for the second consecutive year has named the Surface Transportation Board No. 1 among small federal agencies in its 2010 list of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.
Among 34 small agencies (those with at least 100 but fewer than 2,000 employees), STB achieved a top index score of 86.8 (up from its 2009 score of 80.4, and higher than the scores achieved by any other agency, small or large). The index score measures performance of agencies related to employee satisfaction and commitment.
“This award is a testament to every Board employee,” said STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III. “It is to their credit that they have created and nurtured a culture of collegiality in which innovation is treasured and rewarded.”
In the past year, Elliott has implemented more flexible work schedules, established weekly Chairman’s Open-Door Hours, and instituted "Genius Awards" to recognize employees who come up with good ideas.
China will finance, and a Chinese company will build, a 19-mile, $950 million railway link between the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev and its main airport, along with auxiliary facilities, the China Daily newspaper reported Friday.
The newspaper said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich igned a loan agreement for the railway on his first visit to China, which began Thursday.
Construction will begin in 2011 and the project is expected to be completed in 2014.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Thursday announced $3.6 million for the State of Michigan to begin work on the rehabilitation of the Battle Creek Station. The funding is part of the $40 million allotted to Michigan under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for its high speed rail program.
The $3.6 million in Recovery Act funds will be used to renovate the station’s interior lobby, bathrooms, ticketing areas and offices, lighting, signage, and to make the station compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The exterior of the station will also see significant upgrades. The building will be refaced with new and restored masonry and new exterior lighting will be installed.
“President Obama’s bold vision for high-speed rail is a game-changer for transportation in Michigan and the United States,” said Secretary LaHood (pictured at left). “This undertaking will not only create good jobs and reinvigorate our manufacturing base, it’s also going to relieve congestion on our roadways and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
Kansas state transportation planners have narrowed their proposals for expanded Amtrak passenger rail service across the state to two possible options.
One option would provide nighttime service for what Amtrak estimates would be 92,500 passengers a year between Newton, Kan., and Fort Worth, Tex., essentially linking Amtrak's Southwestern Chief, which passes through Newton on its Chicago-Los Angeles run, to the Heartland Flyer, which runs from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth.
A second, more expensive option would offer daytime service between Kansas City, Mo., and Fort Worth for a projected 174,000 passengers annually over the same general route, requiring more equipment and additional improvements to track and facilitiesalong the way.
Depending on th option, officials estimate the service will require either $154 million for infrastructure and equipment costs, plus apotential $3.2 million annual operating subsidy paid by state funding, or in the second case $476 million for infrastructure and equipment, plus $8 million annually in state support.
The state is working on more detailed business plans for both routes during the next 12 months to present to Kansas state legislators in the 2012 session, said Dennis Slimmer, a transportation department spokesman.
The Surface Transportation Board posted preliminary statistics Thursday showing that fatalities on U.S. railroads increased 18.2% to 370 in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2009.
The principal contributors to the increase were trespassing fatalities, which increased 20% to 228, and grade-crossing fatalities, which were up 12.7% to 124.
Train accidents cased six fatalities in this year’s first six months, compared with one in the prior-year period. There were 10 employee fatalities this year, the same as in the 2009 period.
The number of accidents and incidents reported by 740 railroads totaled 5,403 in this year’s first half compared with 5,424 reported by 741 railroads in the 2009 period.
Train accidents were down 5.4% to 892 in the 210 period. Collisions were down 7.5% to 62, and derailments declined 2.4% to 640. Yard accidents declined 1% to 488.
Canadian officials said Thursday up to C$265 million in federal funds (US$251 million) will be made available to advance light rail transit in the Kitchener-Waterloo metropolitan area of southwestern Ontario. The region has advocated for LRT and,at times, has politely suggested its LRT needs have been unnecessarily subjugated to those of nearby Toronto.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the money will go towardconstruction of a light rail system between Kitchener and Waterloo. A bus line between Kitchener and Cambridge, Ontario, also is part of the plan. Harper says the federal contribution of C$265 million is one-third of the projected cost.
The money is part of Ottawa's previously announced stimulus spending strategy.
Harper says the plan will stimulate the regional economy. "Projects like this will pay dividends for our economy and our communities long into the future," he said.
Both U.S. freight carload traffic and U.S. intermodal traffic hit their highest levels in 2010 during the week ended August 28, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday.
U.S. freight carload traffic rose 5.8% compared with the same week in 2009, though still trailing 2008’s total by 11.3%. U.S. intermodal traffic advanced 17.1% from the same week in 2009, though down 1.2% from 2008 levels.
AAR said 15 of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, with “significant increases” in metallic ores, up 62.%, metals and metal products, up 40.2%, and farm product excluding grain, up 33%.
Canadian freight carload traffic rose 16.5% from the comparable week in 2009, while intermodal also rose, up 24.4%. Mexico’s two major railroads reported freight carload traffic rose 18% from one year ago, while intermodal grew by 26.7%.
The University of Minnesota has finally reached accord with the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council on construction of the Central Corridor light rail transit line through St. Paul, Minnesota’s state capital.
Bombardier, Inc. reported Wednesday that during the fiscal quarter ended July 31, Bombardier Transportation signed $4.3 billion of new orders, bringing its order backlog to $30.3 billion on July 31, compared with $27.1 billion on Jan. 31.
Bombardier Transportation revenue totaled $2.1 billion for the second quarter, compared with $2.5 billion for the same period last year. EBIT was $140 million, compared with $159 million last fiscal year, while EBIT margin reached 6.6% vs. 6.2% last fiscal year.
Bombardier Aerospace's revenue for the quarter totaled $2 billion, compared with $2.4 billion last fiscal year. Bombardier Aerospace's backlog was $17.1 billion as at July 31, 2010, compared with $16.7 billion as at January 31, 2010.
Bombardier corporate revenue totaled $4.1 billion for the latest quarter, compared with $4.9 billion for the corresponding period last fiscal year. Net income for the quarter amounted to $148 million, compared with $202 million for the same period last year.
Norfolk Southern on Wednesday announced the order of four additional EPA Tier 2 compliant, high-horsepower locomotives, designated the PR43C and powered by new generation Caterpillar engines.
The new locomotives will feature upgraded traction systems, control systems, and modernized cabs.
Norfolk Southern noted that in 2008 it joined Progress Rail Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., in a cooperative effort to develop the PR43C locomotive.
“Since then, two PR43C prototype locomotives have been built and placed in service on the Norfolk Southern system,” said the railroad. “These locomotives have been closely monitored during a series of developmental and operational testing.”
The PR43C locomotives are claimed to be “unique in the industry.” Remanufactured from reusable locomotive cores, they have a dual-engine configuration. The primary engine, a Caterpillar C-175 rated at 3,600 horsepower, and a secondary engine, a Caterpillar C-18 rated at 700 horsepower, work in tandem to power the locomotive.
“By rebuilding the PR43C from a reusable locomotivecore and providing 4,300 total horsepower, the PR43C locomotive serves as an environmentally friendly solution for the rail industry,” said NS.
“The PR43C’s performance is optimized for the current duty cycle and operational needs of the railroads,” said Ken Hofacker, senior vice-president of locomotive development for Progress Rail. “Our concept of large and small diesel engines working intelligently together maximizes fuel savings while minimizing emissions and lowering life-cycle costs.”