The warmly debated proposal of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway to abandon 233 miles of line in Maine’s Aroostook and Penobscot counties reached another milestone Monday with the release of the Final Environmental Assessment prepared by the Surface Transportation Board's Section of Environmental Analysis. These were its major findings:
* “The proposed discontinuance of service ... would notsignificantly affect the quality of the human or natural environment if the board imposes recommended mitigation measures.”
* “When considering the average size of the shipmentsof all shippers on the rail segments proposed for abandonment, the majority of freight (more than 90%) transported by these shippers already moves by truck. Although some shippers have questioned that conclusion, statewide data shows that freight rail in Maine carries approximately 10% of total tonnage in the state ... This statistic does not necessarily reflect the situation of individual shippers ... But this does not mean that truck transportation is not—or could not be—available to transport the vast majority of shipments at issue in this case.”
* "The increased truck traffic for the worst case scenario ... would have minimal impact on overall highway safety in the region.”
Proposed mitigation measures are designed to minimize impacts to threatened and endangered species and other resources.
The STB board will make its final decision based on the Environmental Assessment plus testimony received at a public hearing on July 9.
Los Angeles Metro announced that its rail ridership in June was up 7.5% over June 2009 with 326,663 average weekday boardings.
The Gold Line recorded 37,270 average weekday boardings in June vs. 24,219 in June 2009, due mainly to the opening of the Eastside Extension between Union Station and East Los Angeles.
Metro posted an 0.2% gain in bus ridership in June with 1,156,866 average weekday boardings.
Wabtec has delivered an MP14B model ultra-low emission, gen-set switcher to GATX’s railcar repair facility in Colton, Calif. The 1,400-hp locomotive was manufactured in Boise, Idaho by Wabtec subsidiary MotivePower, Inc.
“It is a high priority for GATX to be an industry leader in the areas of safety, health and environmental responsibility, and especially to be a good neighbor in the communities in which we operate,” said Jim Earl, GATX’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The addition of this clean, efficient locomotive is an excellent example of our strong commitment to these goals.”
GATX’s new switcher is expected to reduce emissions of NOx by at least 80% and particulate matter by at least 70%, while providing fuel savings of up to 35%.
The global market for light rail transit vehicles could reach $7.5 billion by 2015, according to a report released by San Jose, Calif.-based Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
The report, titled “Light Rail: A Global Strategic Business Report,” provides a review of light rail market, outlook, growth drivers, number of light rail installations, and recent corporate developments. The study analyzes market data and analytics in the global market in terms of dollar sales for the years 2006 through 2015, breaking the picture into four markets: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of World.
The company identified 66 companies actively involved in the production of LRT vehicles and related equipment, with key players including Aecom Technology Corp., Alstom SA, Ansaldo STS SpA, AnsaldoBreda Inc., Balfour Beatty Plc., Bombardier Transportation, Invensys Plc, MTR Corp. Ltd., Siemens Transportation Systems Inc., Solaris Bus & Coach S.A., and Veolia Transportation, Inc.
More details are available at http://www.strategyr.com/Light_Rail_Market_Report.asp.
The Carbon Capture and Storage Deployment Act of 2010, introduced Thursday ;by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D- W.Va.) and Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), has won the support of the Association of American Railroads, whose members deliver 70% of all U.S. coal shipments.
“Senators Rockefeller and Voinovich are to be commended for their leadership in ensuring that clean coal technology can be deployed and implemented as soon as possible,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R.Hamberger (pictured at left). “Domestic coal is abundant, affordable, and if this bill is passed will be even cleaner. It is affordable coal-based electricity that helps power the nation’s economic recovery and supports our global competitiveness.”
“Rail’s inherent fuel efficiency makes our industry a natural part of the climate change solution—a train can carry a ton of freight 480 miles on a single gallon of fuel,” said Hamberger. “Support for measures like this, ;which ensure the future use of coal, also supports the health of America’s railroads and the vital link for businesses all across the country to the global marketplace.”
Siemens will supply 240 regional trains during the next decade to Russian Railways under a memorandum of understanding announced Friday. The deal is worth approximately $2.8 billion.
The Russian trains will be based on the Siemens Desiro regional model now in service in Hungary and the U. K.
With an eye on regional rail improvements within the Greater Toronto Area, light rail transit is now part of the master plan for Mississauga, Ont., following a unanimous vote by the city council to employ the mode on the city’s main thoroughfares.
“Hurontario [Street] is an essential north/south route in Mississauga and we look forward to working with Metrolinx and the City of Brampton to ensure the corridor develops to meet the needs of the residents and businesses that use it,” said Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion.
Funding for the proposed LRT line is not in place, but McCallion said Mississauga will do everything it can to keep it on the agenda of funding agencies. “Efficient transit is the key to our city’s future and that of the Greater Toronto Area. Regional transit links will connect cities, support future growth, fuel our economies and improve the environment,” she said.
The master plan, developed jointly by the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, will set the framework for the future of the corridor stretching from the waterfront in Port Credit to downtown Mississauga and into downtown Brampton. The study is part of the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan. A recent report by Metrolinx endorsed the case for LRT technology along the route.
Lowell, Ark.-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. late Thursday reported second-quarter net earnings of $52.1 million, or diluted earnings per share of 40 cents, compared with $24.0 million, or 19 cents per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2009. Second-quarter 2009 results included a pretax charge of $10.3 million, or 5 cents per diluted share, to write down the value of certain tractors held for sale. Excluding this charge, second-quarter 2009 earnings were 23 cents per diluted share.
Total operating revenue for the second quarter was $943 million, a 22% increase over the $770 million reported for the second quarter of 2009, the company said.
J.B. Hunt attributed the increase in operating revenue to “higher Intermodal segment volumes, significant growth in our Dedicated Contract Services (DCS) segment, and revenue growth in our Truck segment.”
In a statement, J.B. Hunt President and CEO Kirk Thompson said, “Demand for transportation services has increased fairly dramatically aswe have emerged from a multi-year freight recession. Scarcity of capacity in Intermodal, Truckload, and Brokerage markets was quite pronounced in the current quarter. We saw our business improve sequentially throughout the quarter as reflected in higher prices in Intermodal and Truck as the quarter unfolded.”
Bombardier Transportation’s joint venture, Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd. (BST), will supply an additional 40 CRH1 high speed trainsets valued at approximately $761 million to the Chinese Ministry of Railways. Bombardier’s share is worth approximately $373 million.
Bombardier said that each of the new trainsets will consist of eight cars capable of carrying a total of 604 passengers with a maximum speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Deliveries will extend from September 2010 to May 2011. With this order, 1,280 CRH1 have so far been ordered.
“This order complements the largest single order for rail passenger cars placed at one time in Chinese rail history and corroborates the success of the CRH1—a member of the BOMBARDIER ZEFIRO high and very high speed family,” said Bombardier Friday.
Stephane Rambaud Measson, president, Passengers Division, Bombardier Transportation, commented, “This contract further demonstrates the high levels of confidence the Chinese Ministry of Railways places in Bombardier and BST. The company’s technological expertise and proven capabilities in the international rail industry will go a long way in our endeavor to build a strong local industry in China, which is already well on its way to successful completion of our present orders.”
U.S. intermodal freight rail traffic for the week ended July 10 gained over the comparable week in 2009, up 9.1%, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday. Intermodal volume for the week still trailed its 2008 level, down 16.8%. More worrisome for some observers was the decline in carload freight
traffic for the week, down 3.5% compared with 2009 and down 20.8% from
2008 levels. However, the 2010 figures include the July 4 Independence Day holiday, which “did not affect comparison weeks in 2008 or 2009,” AAR noted.
(AAR earlier this week reported U.S. carload freight for the month of June fell 1.3% from May levels, the second monthly decline, though June carload freight traffic was up 10.6% compared with June 2009. That prompted one web commentator, critical of AAR's presentation of the data though not the data itself, to suggest AAR was “part of a ‘hope bandwagon.’” )
Six of the 19 carload commodity groups increased during the week ended July 10, while all 19 groups trailed the 2008 numbers.
Canadian carload volume for the week was up 18.5% from last year, while intermodal rose 24.3% from the comparable 2009 week. Mexico’s two major railroads saw carload volume decline 1.9%, while intermodal also fell, down 2.8%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 27 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads saw carload volume up 10.4% from last year, while intermodal gained 13.5%.