The Association of American Railroads Thursday said U.S. weekly rail carload freight volume set a new 2010 record for the second consecutive week, with carloads for the week ended September 4 up 6.9% over the comparable week one year ago.
Moreover, carload freight was “at comparable levels to the same week in 2008,” AAR said, noting the 2008 comparison week included the Labor Day holiday while the corresponding weeks in both 2010 and 2009 did not.
Thirteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, with metallic ores and metals and metal products continuing to post significant increases, up 57.1% and 32.4%, respectively. Nine carload commodity groups posted an increase over the 2008 comparison week.
U.S. intermodal traffic was up 18% from the same week in 2009, and also up 18% compared with 2008.
Canadian freight carload volume rose 19.6% for the week compared with last year, while intermodal gained 13.8%. Mexican freight carload volume advanced 24.7% from 2009 levels, while intermodal rose 14.1%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 35 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 10% from 2009, while intermodal was up 15%.
Cincinnati city officials Wednesday said Vine Street willhost the $128 million streetcar route from Over-the-Rhine to the Uptown areanear the University of Cincinnati. A route along West Clifton Avenue was theother choice being evaluated in recent days after the two were selected from alarger list.
City officials chose Vine Street because it will be lessexpensive, and because the street is straighter and is not as hilly as West Clifton. “Our directionfrom City Council has always been to 'connect the dots,' but to do so in a waythat is fiscally responsible,” said City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr.“The Vine Street route accomplishes that.”
Vine Street also offers betteropportunities for future expansion, officials said.
On the lower, relatively flat portions of the line, the streetcars will cover aroute that resembles an elongated, twisted figure eight through Over-the-Rhineand Downtown. The streetcars will travel primarily along Main and Walnutstreets from Downtown’s riverfront through the Central Business District, thenmove several blocks to the west to run up and down Race and Elm streets inOver-the-Rhine before proceeding into Uptown on Vine.Cincinnati has secured roughly 90% of the projected $128 million construction cost. It has applied for another $35 million federal grant to cover the remainder. Preliminary construction on the streetcar line is expected to start before year’send, with service scheduled to begin in spring 2013.
Portland, Ore.’s TriMet says the Portland Streetcar will be suspended for two weeks, beginning Sept. 13, to allow construction to connect the new eastside streetcar line to the existing westside line in the Pearl District. TriMet will provide shuttle bus service along the westside line from Sept. 13 to 26.
The agency had weighed continued service, but found construction work would prevent the individual streetcars from being returned to their maintenance yard in Northwest Portland for storage every night. That would require the hiring of security guards to protect them overnight, a TriMet spokesperson said. And shuttle buses would still be required to move passengers along the closed portion of the route.
When completed, the eastside line will carry passengers over the Broadway Bridge through the inner eastside to Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI). A new (non-auto) bridge over the Willamette River connecting OMSI to South waterfront is planned aspart of the Portland to Milwaukie MAX light rail line. It will also carry streetcars to the southern end of the westside line, creating a compete loop through west and east Portland.
Russian Railways Vice President and Federal Passenger Company General Director Mikhail Akulov said Wednesday plans are set to launch high speed rail service between St. Petersburg and Helsinki, Finland’s capital, in December.
Allegro trains will cover the 443-kilometer (275-mile) route in 3 hours, 30 minutes, down from the current travel time of 6 hours, 18 minutes; travel time within Russia itself will be reduced from 3 hours 11 minutes to 90 minutes. Allegro trains will stop at Vyborg and Vainikkala—the latter on the Russian-Finnish border—as well as Kouvola, Lahti, Tikkurila, and Pasila in Finland.
The shorter journey time is due to the more technically advanced trains, quicker border checkpoint formalities, and greater traveling speeds, Akulov said. The Allegro trains will be able to reach 200 km/h (about 125 mph) on Russian territory, and 220 km/h (135 mph) within Finland.
Initially, two return trips will be made daily. The Allegro service from Helsinki to St. Petersburg will depart at around 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., with service from St. Petersburg to Helsinki departing at or near 6:40 a.m. and 3:25 p.m., Akulov said.
Once Allegro service begins, Finland’s Sibelius train and Russia’s Repin service will cease to run between St. Petersburg and Helsinki. The Russian overnight train Lev Tolstoy will continue to operate between Moscow and Helsinki.
A study released Wednesday by the public/private partnership of the City of North Charleston, S.C., CSX Transportation, and Shipyard Creek Associates concludes that a proposed intermodal rail and warehousing complex would create $73.4 million in additional output and 869 permanent jobs annually. The report also estimates that during construction and development, the plan would create $111.9 in additional output and 1,410 jobs.
The economic impact report was prepared by the research firms of Perryman Group in Waco, Texas.
“We knew our commercial rail plan would have a hugely positive economic impact on the region and the state,” said North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey. “At a time when our economy desperately needs the best of what the public and private sectors can offer by working in harmony, this study gives hope to those of us who are worried about South Carolina’s economic future.”
The intermodal rail hub would primarily serve s container terminal being built on the former Navy base in North Charleston. It would remove 3.2 miles of CSX rail lines running through the city, build about half a mile of new track, and renovate another half-mile of mostly unused track.
Colmar USA, Inc. says it has sold its first Hi-Rail machine T7000 to a North American customer, to the Toronto Transit Commission, making TTC the company’s first North American customer.
The introduction of Hi-Rail machinery in North America complements the scrap metal equipment line that has been Colmar USA’s primary product since it was established in 2002, the company says.
“We are confident that North America will trust us to supplytheir Hi-Rail machinery in the years to come, as the Toronto Traffic Commission has done it,” said Gianluca Manzo, Colmar USA general manager, in a statement.
Colmar USA, Inc. is the subsidiary of Colmar S.p.A., based in Arqua' Polesine, Italy, outside of Venice.
Maglio also notes that “it is an ideal time to make the change. Right now there are a lot of potential clients that are just getting to know us through our core product, SPOT (Spatial Positioning On Transit).”
SPOT is a scaleable computer platform that gathers GPS data about vehicle locations and displays it in real-time, allowing operators to know precisely where vehicles are at all times. Originally developed for passenger rail systems, ETA Transit Systems has just recently launched a version dedicated to bus operations.
“We expect that by changing our name now, we will be able to gain even greater brand recognition in both rail and bus markets,” says Maglio. “We already offer the most full-featured and attractively priced system available.”
Support continues to be voiced for a proposal by President Obama, announced Monday, to invest $50 billion in U.S. infrastructure needs, including rail. Late Tuesday American Public Transportation Association President William Millar issued a statement saying, “On behalf of the more than 1,500 members of the American Public Transportation Association, I applaud President Obama for putting transportation infrastructure investment, including public transportation and high speed rail, on the national agenda [Monday] in his speech in Milwaukee.
“I commend the president’s vision of a world class infrastructure system and his call to enact a new, six-year transit and highway authorization bill which expands public transit systems, dedicates significant new funds to the New Starts program, and commits to building on the previously announced investments in high speed and intercity passenger rail,” Millar said. “The proposed upfront investment of $50 billion will jumpstart job creation and is a good first step toward addressing our country’s high unemployment. For every $1 billion invested in U.S. public transportation, 36,000 jobs are supported and created. Also, the introduction of high speed rail is creating a new industry of jobs for America’s workers. “This authorization legislation can’t happen fast enough. It will put Americans back to work to build and maintain our country’s woefully underfunded transportation infrastructure,” said Millar.
As well, David A. Raymond, president and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies, voiced support for the proposal, calling it “critically needed.” But, Raymond said, the proposal “should be coupled with a renewed effort to pass surface transportation, aviation, and water infrastructure bills currently stalled in Congress.” ACEC is the business association of the nation’s engineering industry, claiming to represent more than 5,500 member firms nationwide.
The support offered by APTA and ACEC followed similar sentiments issued by others earlier Tuesday, including the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Amtrak, Building America's Future, and the Transportation Equity Network.
Virginia Beach, Va., city officials said Tuesday they were close to agreement with Norfolk Southern to acquire 10.6 miles of railright-of-way for $40 million, and could complete the deal by month’s end.
If completed, the acquisition could allow for extension of The Tide light rail service (depicted at left), with 7.4 miles now under construction in neighboring Norfolk, Va., west of Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach voters in 1999 rejected any commitment to LRT, leaving Norfolk to pursue the mode on its own; the $388 million line is slated to begin revenue service next May.
Virginia Beach officials had feared that the state might require the city to commit specifically to LRT to qualify for a $20 million state grant for the rail line purchase. Many City Council members have been reluctant to do so, preferring to wait for results of a transportation study evaluating LRT. Many also seek another voter referendum.
Under the agreement with the state, the city gets some leeway, committed to using its “best efforts” to pursue light rail in order to qualify for the funding. Alternatives, such as a Bus Rapid Transit, would be temporarily allowed as long as light rail remains the long-term goal, city attorney Becky Kubin told the City Council.
“We are extraordinarily close,” Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson said. “We don't want to lose the ground we’ve covered.”
Under the 2009 agreement to buy the route, the state willput in $20 million, the city will pay $10 million, Hampton Roads Transit (operator of The Tide) will contribute $5 million, and the remaining $5 million will come from a utility easement on the property.