Carload and intermodal rail traffic continued to gain ground in all three reporting North American nations for the week ended May 1, 2010, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. AAR noted the rise was across all freight commodity categories.
U.S. carload freight rose 16.3% from the comparable week in 2009, though it still trails the 2008 period by 11.6%. U.S. intermodal traffic rose as well, up 13.2% compared with the year-ago period, still down 5.4% from 2008 levels.
Total U.S. volume was estimated at 32.9 billion ton-miles, up 16.7% from last year but still down 6.5% from 2008. Pacing the carload freight gains were a rise of 333.1% in metallic ore loadings. Loadings of metals were up 109.2%, scrap was up 67%, and coke gained 43.8%. Motor vehicles rose 25.8%.
Canadian railroads reported carload freight volume up 29.4% from the comparable week in2009, and a 15% increase in intermodal as well. Mexico’s two major railroads reported carload freight rose13.3% from the comparable week in 2009, while intermodal advanced 11.7%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 8.2% from last year, while intermodal gained 10.2%.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation Rail Division has installed the state’s first solar-powered highway-rail grade crossing warning system. Consisting of lights, bells, and gates, the system, designed and installed by C&S Signaling of Pewee Valley, Ky., is located on the Yadkin Valley Railroad in theStokes County town of Pinnacle on Surry Line Road.
Most crossing warning systems operate off battery power, withbatteries charged via commercial electricity. This system uses solar panels tocharge the batteries. “Usually, battery capacity generated from the solarpanels can accommodate a minimum of 48 to 72 hours of crossing signals and gateoperation for the number of daily trains expected,” said NCOT. “This comparesequally to crossing signals and gates using non-solar technology to generateelectricity. The solar array has a back-up generator for emergency use. Beyondthe use of the solar panels to charge the batteries and operate a couple oflow-draw electric items, such as an interior light, vent fan, etc., thecrossing signals and gates will operate like any other crossing automaticwarning system connected to the power grid. It also looks like any other signaland gate crossing warning system except for the mast-mounted solar panels atopthe crossing signal’s control panel.”
“This is an outstanding opportunity to use renewable, cleanenergy,” said NCDOT Rail Division Director Pat Simmons. “While the crossingwill operate as effectively as any other to help keep motorists safe, we cantake pride in knowing that it’s also energy efficient.”
“We appreciate partnering with NCDOT and being the front runner atgoing green in this effort,” said Todd Burchette of the Yadkin Valley Railroad.
The Rail Division said it “has plans for at least one other solarpanel signal and gate crossing and will continue to encourage the further useof this green technology.”
Norfolk Southern has awarded 46 customers its 14th
annual Thoroughbred Chemical Safety Award for 2009 “in recognition of their
safe handling of hazardous chemical products.” The award is earned by a company
or facility that ships more than 1,000 carloads of hazardous material without
incident for the year. In 2009, 38 corporations and eight plants attained that
achievement. Altogether, they
safely shipped more than 120,000 carloads ranging from industrial chemicals and
petroleum products to sulfur and related chemicals.
Customers earning the award for 2009 are:
■ Airgas Carbonic Inc.
■ Akzo Nobel Chemicals Inc.
■ American Ecology Corporation
■ The Andersons, Inc. Ethanol Division
■ ArcelorMittal USA
■ Aventine Renewable Energy, Inc.
■ BASF Corporation
■ Cargill Biofuels
■ The Dow Chemical Company
■ Eastman Chemical Company plant at Kingsport, Tenn.
■ ERCO Worldwide
■ Finnchem USA Inc.
■ Glacial Lakes Energy LLC
■ Global Ethanol
■ Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc.
■ Hawkeye Gold
■ Heartland Grain Fuels
■ Husky Marketing and Supply Company
■ INEOS USA LLC
■ INVISTA S.à.r.l.
■ Koppers Inc.
■ Linde LLC
■ Lyondell Chemical Company
■ Marathon Petroleum Company, LLC
■ Marquis Energy
■ Olin Corporation Chlor Alkali Division plant at Nixon, Ga.
■ Olin Corporation Chlor Alkali Division plant at
■ Nucor Corp.
■ NuStar Marketing LLC
■ One Earth Energy
■ PCS Phosphate plant at White Springs, Fla.
■ Platinum Ethanol
■ POET Ethanol Products
■ Rhodia Inc.
■ Sunbelt Chlor Alkali Partnership
■ Sunoco, Inc. (R&M) plant at Toledo, Ohio
■ Sunoco Chemicals, Inc., plant at Frankford, Pa.
■ Targa Transport, LLC
■ Tennessee Valley Authority
■ Valero Marketing & Supply plant at Paulsboro, N.J.
■ Valero Marketing & Supply plant at Reybold, Del.
■ WRB Refining LLC.
“We are pleased to recognize these valued customers for
their outstanding industry leadership in chemical safety,” said Norfolk
Southern CEO Wick Moorman. “By their unrelenting commitment to safe practices,
they demonstrate on a daily basis the value of rail transportation as the
safest, most reliable way to move their product. We salute these customers for
partnering with us to make safety the No. 1 priority, and for their efforts to
help make Norfolk Southern the safest railroad in North America.”
Kawasaki Railcar USA is the apparent winning bidder tosupply 23 new R-188 subway cars to MTA New York City Transit under an $87million contract. The contract contains a $384 million option to build anadditional 123 cars and refurbished 350 existing units.
The R-188s, which will be built for NYCT’s no. 7 FlushingLine and equipped with communications-based train control, will be assembled atKawaski’s Yonkers, N.Y., plant, with carbodies fabricated in Japan. New cars orderedunder the option will be manufactured at Kawasaki’s Lincoln, Neb., facility.
In addition, Kawasaki is upgrading the controls on 10 existingR-143 cars with CBTC. The order will be completed in stages from 2011 to 2012.
A $1 million U.S. Department of Transportation CMAQ (CongestionMitigation and Air Quality) grant will enable the New York & AtlanticRailway, which operates MTA Long Island Rail Road’s freight service, to loweremissions from its 11-unit locomotive fleet by approximately 35%.
NY&A will be installing automatic engine start-stop systemsand engine pre-heating equipment on its fleet of EMD GP38-2, SW1001, and MP15AC(pictured) locomotives. A.S.T. Transportation Engineering, a division of Angewandte SystemTechnik Gruppe, Germany, is supplying the pre-heating equipment. An enginestart-stop system supplier will be selected once the CMAQ grant, which isadministered by the State of New York, is finalized. A.S. T.’s technology runsoff the locomotive’s batteries for up to 48 hours, rather than a separatediesel engine. It will work in tandem with the start-stop system, but also isequipped with an onboard plug-inbattery charging device that runs off 120 volts a.c. This setup, according toNY&A, will work well because the railroad’s relatively small fleet is kept atone location.
The NY&A, a division of Anacostia & Pacific, moves about18,000 carloads annually for more than 85 businesses located along the LIRRsystem. The railroad has operated the LIRR’s freight concession since 1997.
The most recent freight car building forecast from Economic
Planning Associates calls for assemblies of 16,000 units this year, based on
current backlogs, first quarter assemblies, and anticipation of modest orders
for covered hoppers, tank cars, and coal cars. Next year will see a modest
improvement to 21,500 units, though EPA says this is a very low number “even
with continued improvements in economic activities” due to “the oversupply of
Noting that the ongoing economic recovery has turned a
three-year slide in rail freight traffic into a rebound year, EPA says that it
“was pleasantly surprised by the jump in railcar orders in the first quarter of
this year, amid reports of significant levels of idle equipment at the end of
last year. The 5,078 cars ordered in the opening quarter of 2010 represent the
highest quarterly level since the third quarter of 2008. New equipment demand
was confined to three car types—coal and related product service cars, covered
hoppers, and tank cars. While we are enthusiastic that the AAR is
reporting increasing utilization of previously idled cars, we believe that the
coal service cars are not a reflection of the need to expand fleet capacity,
but rather the replacement of aged equipment.”
Going into more detail, EPA says that “ethanol production
has been accelerating for a number of months, and previously idled cars are
being pressed into service. Given the large increase in ethanol production in
recent months, it is no surprise that the orders for hi-cube covered hoppers
were for DDG (distillers' dried grain) service. And, we suspect that a number
of the tank cars ordered are for ethanol service.”
The carbuilding pace will begin to pick up in 2012, says
EPA: “Far stronger economic activities will provide support for a variety of
certain railcar assemblies. The extremely low levels of deliveries this year
and next will serve to intensify the pressure to replace aging equipment in
various fleets during the longer-term forecast horizon. After three dismal
years, we look for railcar deliveries to advance moderately to 33,500 cars in
2012 and then expand annually to the level of almost 60,000 units in 2015.”
“From this point on,” says EPA, “we are enthusiastic about the
outlook for commodity and intermodal haulings but are cautious with regard to
new equipment demand in the short term due to the still-large amount of idle
capacity in the rail system. Still, the improvements in major commodities
markets will once again stimulate demand for rail equipment during the longer-term forecast horizon. Agricultural exports are rising, ethanol production is
accelerating, the housing market is improving, light vehicle sales are
expanding, manufacturing activities have been revived, and a stronger economy will
stimulate greater production of electricity. These activities will improve
haulings of grain, ethanol and distiller grain, lumber, motor vehicles and parts,
metals and products, chemicals, plastics, and coal. These improvements will
extend into 2011 and beyond.”
CSX Transportation and Canadian Pacific subsidiary Delaware & Hudson Railway have asked the Surface Transportation Board to approve a joint use arrangement in a north-south rail corridor linking the New York City metropolitan area with the international border at Rouses Point, N.Y. The joint-use corridor would include a line operated by D&H between Rouses Point Junction and Albany, N.Y.
As described in a statement Thursday, “D&H would operate all trains between Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Rouses Point. Both railroads would conduct their own train operations between Albany and Saratoga Springs. Some of this traffic now moves over CSXT’s Massena Line, which runs from Syracuse, N.Y., to Huntington, Province of Quebec. The joint use arrangement would improve the transit time of this traffic to Albany by more than 45%, reduce transit miles by 35% and gross ton-miles by 442 million.”
The plan also calls for CSXT to handle certain D&H freight moving between Albany, N.Y., and the New York City boroughs of The Bronx and Queens, and enables D&H to offer significantly “greater frequency of service between Montreal and metropolitan New York City. D&H also will retain previously STB approved trackage rights between Albany and Fresh Pond (Queens).”
CSXT and D&H said they will continue to serve all current customers, including local shippers on CSXT along the Massena Line.