Latest News Continued

When traffic returns to the railroads in a post-recession economy, it may not come from the old familiar places, suggests CP Rail Chief Executive Fred Green.

 

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Talking with reporters following the company's annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, on May 22, Green said changes in public policy as well as in the financial markets may require a re-examination of long-term investments in railroad infrastructure.

 

As examples, he mentioned the possibility that the volume of container imports (a greatpre-recession source of revenue for intermodal carriers) may find new shipping lanes. He also said that shifting mandates in how energy is provided could affect such proposals as that to build a new coal-hauling line into the Powder River Basin coalfields (an option that CP acquired with its purchase ofthe Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern, which had won regulatory authority for sucha buildout but not the necessary financing).

 

If changes occur, said Green,"I wouldn't predict that there will be a net negative to the company, but jus ta net difference to the company ... it's something we have to keep oureyes wide open for." For instance, he said, a change in trade patterns between North America and China "could cause a completely different set of logistical needs: We'll still be involved, but in a different lane, a different corridor."

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As for building the new coal line, Green commented: "We're not any closer than we were 18 months ago to making a decision on that--and until such time as those stars line up, it’s just an option."

 

--> When traffic returns to the railroads in a post-recession economy, it may not come from the old familiar places, suggests CP Rail Chief Executive Fred Green. ...

Metrolinx, the authority charged with overseeing public transport in the greater Toronto metropolitan area, announced Tuesday its intention to study the electrification of the entire GO Transit rail system. GO Transit currently employs diesel locomotives throughout its system.

  --> Metrolinx, the authority charged with overseeing public transport in the greater Toronto metropolitan area, announced Tuesday its intention to study the electrification of the entire GO Transit rail system. GO Transit curre ...

Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc. says it has been honored with the 2009 Minnesota Governor's International Trade Award. Hamel, Minn.-based Loram was one of seven companies recognized for developing and continuing to grow a significant part of their business in foreign markets, for increasing or maintaining jobs in Minnesota that support international sales, and for developing novel approaches for competing globally.

 

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A luncheon honoring the award winners was held last Friday at the IDS Center in Minneapolis.  Loram representatives in attendance included: President and CEO Phil Homan; Director of Business Development Tom Smith; Chief Engineer in OEM Services Ken Range; Manager of International Operations Andrew Hense; Manager of Production Rail Grinding Luke Olson; International Contract Manager Jeanne Fondell; International Services Coordinator Kaizen Yang; Chief Engineer in OEM Services Roger Luedke, and also Andrew Tompkins, Geoff Michel, and Richard Kopka.

 

"Minnesota companies sold a record $17.3 billion in manufactured exports last year," said Tony Lorusso, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office.  Loram's international sales grew from 24% of revenue in 2006 to 31% of revenue in 2008.  Loram has customers in more than 30 countries.

 

 

--> Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc. says it has been honored with the 2009 Minnesota Governor's International Trade Award. Hamel, Minn.-based Loram was one of seven companies recognized for developing and continuing to grow a significan ...

U.S. Class I railroad employment declined 6.27%, to 154,263, in the year ended in mid-April 2009, according to the Surface Transportation Board. The biggest job losses continued to be among train operating crews.

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In the category of transportation (train and engine), employment dropped 14.22% to 58,806. There was a 5.57% increase, to 6,992, in the transportation (other than train and engine) group, and a seasonal increase in maintenance-of-way employment, which edged up 0.23% to 35,377.

All other job categories showed declines: executives, officials, and staff assistants, down 0.32% to 10,041; professional and administrative, down 1.79% to 13,432; and maintenance of equipment and stores, down 2.43% to 29,615.

--> U.S. Class I railroad employment declined 6.27%, to 154,263, in the year ended in mid-April 2009, according to the Surface Transportation Board. The biggest job losses continued to be among train operating crews. ...

Ansaldo STS USA Friday announced it has been awarded a $13 million subcontract agreement with Pittsburgh-based Wellington Power Corp. for the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s North Shore Connector project, an extension of the city’s LRT system 1.2 miles, which includes a tunnel underneath the Allegheny River.

The contract involves the design and implementation of a system interlocking and wayside signal system for the new relay rooms at Allegheny Station and North Side Station, and modifications in the existing Gateway Station relay room and the Wood Street Station interlocking relay room.

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Ansaldo STS USA said it also will deliver a communications subsystem that includes fiber optic transmission, variable message signage, digital video surveillance, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). It will design modifications for the existing Authority Operations Control Center (OCC) to support the added facilities and equipment.

“We are proud to partner with Wellington Power on this local effort,” said Dr. Alan E. Calegari, president and CEO of Ansaldo STS USA. “We have been involved in the initial development and operation of the OCC contract, and the Stage I and II contracts, and we will continue to support Allegheny County Transit Authority’s commitment to safety for their passengers, employees, and community.”

--> Ansaldo STS USA Friday announced it has been awarded a $13 million subcontract agreement with Pittsburgh-based Wellington Power Corp. for the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s North Shore Connector project, an extension of the city’s LRT system ...

The $13 billion in federal stimulus money over a five-year period to advance U.S. high speed rail should be focused on one project to best demonstrate HSR’s value, according to BNSF CEO Matthew K. Rose, addressing the Austin (Tex.) Economic Club Thursday.

matt_rose.jpg"I'm concerned (the funding) will be spread like peanut butter," with small amounts doled out to several projects, minimizing any concentrated clout, Rose said. "I'm afraid it'll be a missed opportunity."

Rose noted that while Class I railroads would receive little direct benefit from any HSR development efforts, he supported the effort as a component of a larger move to improve the nation’s rail infrastructure. Rose is an active participant and key player in the recently formed OneRail Coalition, which has united freight and passenger rail interests.

Rose estimated Thursday that it might cost $1 trillion in the next 20 years to fully develop 10 to 15 U.S. HSR routes, far more than what has been identified so far by the Obama Administration. Despite that, “I really do think it's an investment our society ought to make," he said.  --> The $13 billion in federal stimulus money over a five-year period to advance U.S. high speed rail should be focused on one project to best demonstrate HSR’s value, according to BNSF CEO Matthew K. Rose, addressing the Austin (Tex.) Economic Club Thursda ...

Detroit’s Department of Transportation and private-sector interests in the Motor City have reached agreement on a $125 million, 3.4-mile lightrail line planned for Woodward Avenue, known at M1 Rail.

The plan adopted will advance curb-side passenger access, a marked difference from DDOT’s proposed $371 million “Detroit Transit Options forGrowth,” which envisioned light rail occupying the center of the street. ButM1 Rail CEO Matt Cullen emphasized, “This is in no way competition,” while citing the accord between the parties.

M1-Rail acquired state legislative approvals and stateoperational funding mechanisms last January, as legislators were informed ofthe $125 million in financial support from private industry supporters andother backers. That support includes roughly $30 million in private donations and station sponsorships, $9 million from Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority, and $35 million from the Kresge Foundation.

--> Detroit’s Department of Transportation and private-sector interests in the Motor City have reached agreement on a $125 million, 3.4-mile lightrail line planned for Woodward Avenue, known at M1 Rail. ...

Denver-based Xcel Energy, a U.S alternate energy company, wants to install solar panels along St. Paul’s planned Central Corridor light rail line to demonstrate solar energy’s usefulness to both the rail mode and the surrounding community,

Xcel CEO Richard Kelly made the company’s concept public while addressing an annual shareholders meeting Wednesday in St. Paul’s Brooklyn Center.  "You'll see it; we'll be bringing it up here pretty soon," Kelly said.

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For the Central Corridor, Xcel's concept is to mount solar panels on catenary poles along a portion of the University Avenue route, which would serve as charging stations for plug-in electric hybrid vehicles parked onthe street, according to David Sparby, president of Xcel's Northern States Power Co. Sparby said the concept could be applied to other existing and planned LRT systems in North America.

Xcel’s current role as a solar energy provider is limited to Colorado, and the company has more experience in providing wind-powered energy, including within Minnesota.

The 11-mile Central Corridor light rail line will link downtown St. Paul with downtown Minneapolis, joining the existing Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis near Downtown East/Metrodome Station.

--> Denver-based Xcel Energy, a U.S alternate energy company, wants to install solar panels along St. Paul’s planned Central Corridor light rail line to demonstrate solar energy’s usefulness to both the rail mode and the surrounding community, ...

New York MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger Thursday said Long Island Rail Road President Helena E. Williams will serve as MTA’s interim executive director and chief executive officer, pending MTA board approval at its regularly scheduled meeting May 27. After that, Williams' appointment will remain in effect until a new chairman and CEO is nominated by Gov. David Paterson and confirmed by the state Senate.

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During the interim period, Williams will retain her title and responsibilities as president of the LIRR, the largest U.S. regional (“commuter”) railroad in terms of ridership.

"This is a time of transition at the MTA, but it is critical that we continue to serve our customers without missing a beat,"said Hemmerdinger in a statement. "Helena Williams is doing a terrific job at the Long Island Rail Road and will be an excellent steward for the entire transit system until a new chairman and CEO is appointed."

Said Williams, "I am honored to be asked to step in temporarily--pending approval of the MTA Board-- to serve in this position while continuing my duties as president of the LIRR. As we all know, the subway, bus, bridge, tunnel, and commuter rail systems are the lifeblood of our city and of the entire New York metropolitan region. I've spent much of my career at the MTA, so this will be an exciting challenge."

--> New York MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger Thursday said Long Island Rail Road President Helena E. Williams will serve as MTA’s interim executive director and chief executive officer, pending MTA board approval at its regularly scheduled meeting May 27. ...

The Surface Transportation Board has scheduled a public hearing for July 8 at its headquarters in Washington, D. C., "to examine the impact, effectiveness, and future of rail banking" under the National Trails System Act. (www.stb.dot.gov)

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"In brief, the Trails Act and the board's implementing regulations give interested parties the opportunity to negotiate voluntary agreements to use for recreational trails railroad rights-of-way that otherwise would be abandoned," the STB said in a notice served Thursday. "The trail sponsor must agree to assume responsibility for managing the trail, for paying property taxes on the right-of-way, and for any liability inconnection with trail use. In turn, the rail carrier may salvage its track and discontinue service on the line. If the parties reach a Trails Act agreement, the right-of-way can be used as a trail until (if ever) a rail carrier decides to restore service on the line."

Since the program began 25 years ago, the STB says it has issued "numerous" decisions authorizing interim rail use and has also authorized nine rail-banked lines for the restoration of rail service.

The hearing now scheduled on the program's future arises out of "an increasing number of questions brought to the board informally."

Formally, the board has pending a proposal involving R. J. Corman Railroad Co./Pennsylvania Lines Inc. in Clearfield County ,Pa., to construct and operate over 10 miles of a previously abandoned right-of-way and reactivate a 9.3-mile portion of a connecting rail-banked line. STB has been informally asked "who would be responsible for bearing the cost of rebuilding a railroad bridge removed during interim trail use if active rail service should ever be restored."

This is one of the questions STB will tackle as it seeks to determine how successful rail-banking has been for both carriers and trail users.

 

--> The Surface Transportation Board has scheduled a public hearing for July 8 at its headquarters in Washington, D. C., "to examine the impact, effectiveness, and future of rail banking" under the National Trails System Act. ( ...
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