RailComm says its wireless remote control derail system at Hammond, Ind.-based Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad’s RIP track facility is fully functional. A customized Local Control Panel, located within the shop, provides wireless remote control to the derails. The panel includes a keypad for advanced security and logging.
The user is required to input a unique passcode (PIN #) to operate the derail machines. All control panel operations are recorded and stored on a wirelessly linked PC workstation.
The data entries contain the name and trade of the operator, the nature of the operation, and the date and time. Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm says the workstation allows supervisors, managers, and other authorized personnel to review the operation logs and manage the system security.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), prime sponsor of Senate bill S. 146, the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009, said Monday he was canceling a Senate vote on the bill, originally scheduled for June 2. S. 146 seeks to remove the rail industry’s limited antitrust exemptions, and also would remove the Surface Transportation Board’s exclusive jurisdiction over the rail industry.
Kohl said he has reached agreement with others, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, to possibly include some limited portions of S. 146 into a bill that the Senate Commerce Committee plans to introduce in the near future that would reauthorize the STB.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter Monday signed by both Kohl and Rockefeller, the senators said “we have jointly decided to ask Senator [Harry] Reid (D-Nev.) to withdraw the pending cloture petition on S. 146, the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act. We share the common goals of addressing the longstanding concerns of rail shippers and making the rail industry more competitive.
“The Commerce and Judiciary Committees intend to work together on comprehensive rail competition legislation,” the letter continued. “We hope to shortly have a bipartisan package that reforms the Surface Transportation Board and repeals the railroads’ antitrust exemption available for the consideration by the full Senate. We are working on harmonizing our two efforts to produce a robust reform package.”
Late last week, Rockefeller and three other Commerce Committee members—Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and John Thune (R-S.D.)—circulated a letter asking other senators to oppose a procedural motion that must pass before the Senate can take a final vote on the bill’s passage. The move was backed by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
Railroad stocks handily outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial average in a Wall Street rally that followed the release of unexpectedly strong economic indicators. Reuters said the new data "bolstered optimism that the worst of the global recession was past."
In early afternoon trading, the Dow was up 2.55%, with railroads showing the following gains: CSX, 7.02%; Union Pacific, 6.60%. Norfolk Southern, 6.53%; Burlington Northern Santa Fe, 5.95%; Canadian Pacific, 4.23%; Kansas City Southern, 3.2%; and Canadian National, 2.72%.
One welcome sign was the Commerce Department's report on Monday that U.S. construction posed an unexpected 0.9% gain in Ariel--the second month in a row that builders around the country increased spending. Economists had expected a 1.2% drop in April.
More good news came from the Institute for Supply Management, which said its May index of manufacturing was 42.8, its highest level since last September. Thomson Reuters analysts had anticipated a May index of 42.
Meanwhile, railroad traffic, while still registering double-digit losses, appears to have slowed its rate of decrease. U.S. carload traffic for the week ended May 23 was 21.5% below the corresponding week in 2008, but 4.9% ahead of the previous week.
OMERS Private Equity of Toronto, Ontario, has acquired Nordco, Inc. from The Riverside Co, Nordo announced Monday. Terms and amount of the sale were not disclosed, though a Riverside Co. spokesman allowed that the deal was “extraordinary,” and “a wonderful return for our investors.”
Oak Creek, Wis.-based Nordco Inc. has about 330 employees in several subsidiaries, including: Dapco Industries , Ridgefield, Conn.; Nordco Rail Services of Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Shuttlewagon of Grandview, Mo., and J.E.R. Overhaul of Arcola, Ill. Nordco manufacturing facilities are located in Oak Creek and in Oshawa, Ontario.
The Riverside Co. purchased Nordco as part of a management-backed buyout in 2003. The firm moved Nordco into a larger facility, launched a rebuild and repair division, and added the other companies during its parental tenure.
With 693 large and small U. S. railroads reporting, the first quarter of 2009 saw double- and triple-digit improvements in safety, according to statistics posted on the Federal Railroad Administration's website May 29.
Train accidents were down 30.6% to 450 from the 648 reported in the January-March period last year. Collisions declined 2% to 39, and derailments were off 32.5% to 318.
Track causes were cited in 137 train accidents, down 38% from last year; human factors for 149, a decline of 33.2%; and signal causes for 13, down 7.1%. Miscellaneous causes were blamed for 74 accidents, down 28.2%.
Total fatalities, mostly caused by grade crossing accidents and trespassing, declined 1.3% to 350. Crossing fatalities were down 2% to 49, and trespassing deaths were up 3.3% to 94. There were seven employee fatalities compared with six last year.
Accidents rates, which take into consideration the exposure factor (total traffic), were also down in significant categories: The train accident rate declined 19.9%; the yard accident rate dropped 20.5%; and the total accident/incident rate was down 9.98%.
Beginning today, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will operate later in the day, open until 1:00 a.m. instead of closing at 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday, and until midnight on Sundays. The tunnel will maintain its current opening hour of 5:00 a.m.
The extended hours immediately will allow 18 King County (Wash.) Metro and Sound Transit bus routes to operate later each day. The move also presages the addition of Sound Transit light rail transit services, which will share the tunnel with current bus services beginning July 18.
Russia announced Friday that it plans up to 54 Bombardier high speed trains valued at up to $770 million so part of its preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics to be based in Kochi, on the Black Sea.
First Vice President Fyodor Andreyev told a news conference that the trains should be delivered by 2013. Reuters suggested that purchase of a fleet of modem trains from a foreign supplier would underline Russia's desire to host "a showcase international event."
Russian Railways said the cost of the trains world not come from the $12 billion Russia has set aside for the Olympics event, suggesting that financing might come instead from a syndicate of lenders.
Russia has already placed orders for eight Siemens (Germany) high speed trains costing $400 million, and eight Alstom (France) trains valued at $180 million.
One of the world's most ambitious railway expansion projects, a $4.5 billion line linking regions crossed by Russia's Siberian Railroad, took a step forward Thursday with the announcement that the four participating countries would form a joint venture company to continue preliminary studies initiated last year.
The agreement to form a joint venture was reached at a meeting of high-ranking Austrian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Slovakian railway officials in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Kochi.
Russia's broad-gauge will be used in the expansion from Konice in Slovakia to the Austrian capital, Vienna. Current technology enables a smooth gauge change.
Plans for the line were unveiled in April 2008 when the railways signed a protocol to initiate pre-project studies.
The goal is to make the rail systems more competitive against sea and road transport.
Traveling to Baltimore on business, or to see the Birds play at Oriole Park at Camden Yards? Bethesda, Md.-based developer Hospitality Partners has signed a contract with Amtrak to construct and manage a hotel on the upper three levels at the city’s Pennsylvania Station, located on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
The 77-room, $9 million hotel, to be called The Inn at Penn Station, reportedly would be the first such hotel at a rail station in the Northeast that also continues to serve rail passengers. Hotel rooms will line the station's perimeter and will be reached from corridors overlooking the main concourse below. Construction is expected to begin this year and be completed by late 2010.
Amtrak currently commands roughly 61% of the combinedair/rail travel market between New York and Washington, making the hotel’s location potentially lucrative for the national rail passenger carrier. Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black says that, in addition, the city is pinning much of its redevelopment efforts for the neighborhood, dubbed the Charles North renewal area, using Penn Station as a central focus.
The station is also served by Baltimore’s light rail system, operated by the Maryland Transit Administration, bolstering intracity access.