Watco Transportation Services Inc. (WTS), the Pittsburg, Kan.-based operator of 22 short lines railroads in the U.S., has joined the Association of American Railroads with a full membership. Watco roads operate more than 3,700 track miles in 18 states. Watco will have access to all association services and will be eligible to serve on AAR committees and the AAR Board.
“The addition of WTS broadens our membership and strengthens our ability to represent our industry effectively before the decision makers that shape policy and law affecting railroads,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger.
The AAR announcement noted that in March 2008 WTS’s South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad was named the Railway Age Regional Railroad of the Year. Railroads operated by WTS also include the Alabama Southern, Alabama Warrior Railway, Arkansas Southern, Austin Western, Baton Rouge, Boise Valley, Eastern Idaho, Grand Elk, Great Northwest, Kansas & Oklahoma, Kaw River, Louisiana Southern, Mission Mountain, Mississippi Southern, Pacific Sun, Palouse River and Coulee City, Pennsylvania Southwestern, Stillwater Central, Timber Rock, Vicksburg Southern, and Yellowstone Valley Railroads.
WTS is owned by Watco Companies, Inc. (WCI), which also owns Watco Mechanical Services division, operating 14 railcar repair shops, four locomotive shops, and 19 mobile mechanical shops. The Watco Transload and Intermodal Services division manages 12 transload facilities, seven warehouses, and one intermodal location.
The Surface Transportation Board announced that it has scheduled an oral argument for Sept. 28 in Arizona Electric Power Cooperative’s challenge of BNSF Union Pacific coal transportation rates from New Mexico and the northern part of the Powder River Basin, in Wyoming and Montana, to AEPCO’s generating station near Cochise, Ariz.
The oral argument will be held in hearing room at STB headquarters in Washington, D.C.
A live video broadcast of the argument will be available via the STB’s Website at www.stb.dot.gov, under “Information Center”/”Website”/”Live video” on the home page.
Noting that 53% of the nation’s rail capacity has been removed since 1960, Szabo recommended that freight and passenger interests work closely together and utilize such tools as computer modeling to develop “appropriate capacity” and “ensure mutual cooperation.”
The U.S. Class I railroad workforce grew to 153,046 in July, up 1.76% from July 2009 and 1% from June 2010. But those figures do not reflect the extent of railroad traffic growth, which on a revenue ton-mile basis was up 6.4% in this year’s first six months.
For that, analysts must examine the train operating crew numbers. This is the biggest single employment category, and its numbers rose to 60,4348 in July, up 6.4% from July 2009 and up 1.35% from June 2010.
The biggest year-over-year employment decline in July was in the category of executives, officials, and staff assistants, where the July number, 9,024, was down 3.82% from June, though up 0.49% from June 2010. Maintenance of equipment and stores declined to 28,039 in July, down 1.23% from July 2009 and also down 0.07% from June 2010.
Professional and administrative employment was 13,999 in July, up 1.14% from July 2009 and up 4.61% from June 2010.
Maintenance-of-way employment, 34,998, was off 1.22% from July 2009 and up 0.3% from June 2010.
The Class I employment index, which is based on same-month1967 as 100, shows that employment still trails pre-recession 2008. Theindex was 24.6 in July, compared with 24.1 in July 2009 and 26.4 in July 2008.
Bombardier Transportation said Friday it has received anorder from Norwegian financial services group DnB NOR (DnB NOR) for the delivery of six Bombardier FLEXITY Classic trams intended for service on a historic tram route in Stockholm, Sweden. The trams will be leased by Stockholm County Transit Authority (SL). The order is valued at about $27 million.
The new equipment will be used on the inner city tram line called Spårväg City, a historic route that will resume commercial service after several years of heritage tram traffic. Delivery of the FLEXITY Classictrams is scheduled between March and July 2011.
Bombardier says it also has been able to facilitate the immediate lease of six trams in order to enable commercial operation to start as soon as Monday, August 23. This deal is the result of Bombardier and SL’s close cooperation with two public transit authorities, Sweden's Norrköpings Spårvägar (NSAB) and Germany's Stadtwerke Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main (VGF), together with DnB NOR’s financial services. Until the new trams are delivered, Bombardier and DnB NOR have reached agreements with NSAB and VGF for the rental of three used trams from each operator.
Klas Wåhlberg, president of Bombardier Transportation Sweden, said in a statement, “Having grown and developed alongside SL for over a century, I am pleased that we were able to realize this unconventional tram lease solutionenabling SL to commence operation of the renewed Spårväg City line nearly one year ahead of scheduled delivery of the new trams. I am grateful to the traffic operators of Norrköpings and Frankfurt and to our financial partner DnB NOR for making this unique arrangement possible.
“We are proud to be able to deliver six more vehicles to Stockholm, as this order confirms that SL is satisifed with the quality and service provided by Bombardier and underscores our capability as a provider of light rail solutions,” Wåhlberg added.
Portland, Ore., has been a trailblazer both for U.S. light rail transit and, even more significantly, for U.S. streetcar re-establishment. But as both systems expand into surrounding suburbs (and, possibly, a cross the stateline into Vancouver, Wash.), some parties continue to question whether bus options would be more efficient and/or less costly.
But a study commissioned by Metro, the elected regional government serving 25 cities within three counties including and surrounding Portland, says a streetcar linking Portland with Lake Oswego, roughly 8 miles to the south, would attract more ridership, offer better travel times, and be more cost-effective to maintain and operate.
Tony Mendoza, transit project analysis manager for Metro, presented results of the analysis to the Citizen Advisory Committee of the LakeOswego to Portland Transit project earlier this week. The ridership numbers and operations costs will be includedin the draft environmental impact statement submitted to the Federal TransitAdministration as summer ends. The full document is scheduled to be publishedat the end of September.
The streetcar is projectedto see between 11,170 and 11,920 rides per day in the year 2035, while anenhanced bus is projected at 9,810. Both would meet future demand, which isprojected to be 8,590 rides per day. If the system is not upgraded at all (“Nobuild”), the current TriMet Lines 35 and 36 are forecasted to be able to carryonly 6,920 riders on the same segment and would not meet projected demand.Today, an average of 2,340 people ride the bus.
Intermodal volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Aug. 14, 2010 was the highest of 2010, up 20.8% from the same week in 2009, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday. AAR noted intermodal traffic still was down 1.4% compared with 2008. Weekly container volume, a subset of intermodal, was the highest on record, up 22.4% from 2009, and even up 6.4% compared with the same week in 2008.
U.S. freight carload traffic continued to gain moderately, up 7.1% during the week ending Aug. 14 compared with the year-ago period, but down 11.3% compared with 2008 levels. Sixteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009.
Canadian freight carload traffic rose 16.7% compared with a year ago, while intermodal advanced 18.5%. Mexican freight carload traffic rose 16.5%, while intermodal moved up 19.1%.
Combined North Americanrail volume for the first 32 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 10.% from last year, while intermodal rose 14.5%.
Raymond A. Atkins will become the Surface Transportation Board’s general counsel effective Sept. 1, Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III announced Thursday. Atkins will succeed Ellen D. Hanson, who served the Surface Transportation Board and its predecessor agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission, for 35 years and who retired last month.
Atkins has been an attorney since 2003 in the STB general counsel’s office where he has handled the Board's major rate cases. He has served as chief of staff to Elliott since August 2009.
Elliott also announced that Timothy J. Strafford will become his new chief of staff. Strafford has worked in the STB’s Office of Proceedings since 1999. Since 2006, he has served as assistant to the director of the Office of Proceedings. From November 2009 to June 2010 he was detailed to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.