America's railroads honored
the industry's safety achievements and celebrated railroads with the best
employee safety records at the annual E.H. Harriman Awards. According to the
Association of American Railroads (AAR), 2009 was the safest year ever for
railroads, with significant milestones achieved across the board in reduced
train accidents, employee casualties and grade crossing collisions.
U.S TransportationSecretary Ray LaHood announced proposed new rules May 17 that he said wouldprohibit the use of cell phones or other electronic device by railroad operating employees "if it interferes with thatemployee's or another employee's performance of safety-related duties."
Norfolk Southern CEO Wick
Moorman had good news for his shareholders, at least for the short-term, at
their annual meeting in Williamsburg, Va., last week.
The Canadian UrbanTransit Association recognizes Bombardier's achievement for 60-day streetcardemonstration project in Vancouver, Canada. At the CUTA 2010 Annual Conferenceheld in Ottawa, Canada, Bombardier Transportation received an award for theOlympic Line in the category "Exceptional Performance and OutstandingAchievement" under CUTA's National Transit Corporate Recognition Award Program.
Cattron Group International™,
a lglobal manufacturer of remote control products and professional
services for the industrial, mining, commercial mobile and railroad markets,
has contracted with TTechTrain SA de CV to represent the company in Mexico.
They will handle all brands for the Industrial and Rail markets. Andres Duncan
and Susana Duncan, along with their colleagues, have a combined experience of
86 years providing service to the railroad industry in the Americas.
Global Railway Industries Ltd. reports that net earnings for this year’s first quarter improved to $89,000 compared to a $1.5 million net loss in the first quarter of 2009. Total revenue increased 27.3% to $18.7 million. Earnings per share improved to $0.01 compared to a loss of $0.10 in the 2009 quarter.
“Management is pleased to report Global's return to profitability during the first quarter of 2010, and the reduction of its bank debt by $1.5 million,” said Terry McManaman, chairman, president, and CEO of Global. “Global's first-quarter earnings were in line with management's expectations and can be attributed to improved profitability of the VIA Rail Canada business, as well as operational efficiencies, cost cutting initiatives, and scale economies.”
Keolis Rail Services America is nearly done hiring about 45 train engineers and conductors to operate Virginia Railway Express trains, which the company will take over from Amtrak beginning June 28. At least eight of those hired reportedly come from New Jersey Transit Corp., which has put some of its operating personnel on furlough due to budget cuts.
Overall, Keolis has hired 15 of the needed 18 train engineers, and 15 of the 27 needed train conductors, said Steve Townsend, Keolis America executive vice president. “I think probably in the next week, week and a half, we’ll have filled most of the positions, if not all,” Townsend said.
Townsend said Keolis has a five-year contract to run VRE trains, with two five-year renewal options. All Keolis engineers and conductors will complete the required training in the VRE service area and in Union Station, Washington, D.C., by June 28.
Ansaldo STS USA Monday announced its VitalNet™ Current Sensor for use in Positive Train Control applications, as mandated for most Class I rail rights-of-way by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The company says the VitalNet Current sensor reduces the labor and improves quality and safety.
Ansaldo STS USA will display the new product at the RSSI C&S Exhibition in Omaha, Neb., May 18 and 19, and will formally present the productin the RSSI Innovation Theater at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, the 18th.
The current sensor combines the best current-sensing technologyavailable into one device: a small, light package, diversity in detection and closedloop control capability. The form factor allows for installation without disarrangement, providing simple PTC installation on lamp signals, the company says.
The VitalNet Current Sensor is a prewired solution thatfeatures upper and lower current sensing tabs—in between are two currentmeasuring elements. Each element is able to make individual measurements that the controller can compare for diversity. In combination with voltage detection, the current sensor allows for full vital signal detection for both AC and DC currents.
Other new Ansaldo STS USA products that will be featured atRSSI include: the VitalNet Point Monitor—hand throw switch monitoring for PTC; the VitalNet WIU, a stand-alone wayside interface unit; MicroLok® II VitalNet CPU, a wayside interface unit upgrade for PTC in existing interlocking locations; and RailSentry™, a security product.
Union Pacific announced that it has increased its 2010 capital expenditure program by $100 million in growth capital to a total of $2.6 billion. The railroad said the additional $100 million will be used primarily to buy new intermodal equipment “and support our intermodal strategy.” The action was taken at a board meeting in Omaha May 6.
“UP's domestic intermodal business grew 8% last year during one of the worst recessions in decades, as our record service performance attracted new business to our railroad,” said Jim Young, Union Pacific chairman and chief executive officer.
UP’s board of directors also voted to increase the quarterly dividend on the company’s common shares by 22% to 33 cents per share, payable July 1, 2010, to stockholders of record on May 28, 2010.
“With business volumes continuing to grow, we feel very positive about the long-term fundamentals of our business as well as UP's strategy to make the most of these opportunities,” said Young. “As a result, we are generating solid free cash flows and have confidence going forward that we are taking the right steps to capitalize on our growth opportunities and reward our shareholders.”
UP also said it plans to resume share repurchases on an opportunistic basis under its existing program, which authorizes purchases of up to 32.6 million shares by March 31, 2011.
The States for Passenger Rail Coalition has sent Congress a request for 2011 funding that includes a $2.5 billion appropriation for grants under the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, the same level sought for 2010, plus $1 billion for “next generation” intercity passenger rail equipment development.
“The states are ready to step up to the plate in partnership with the federal government to create a better intercity passenger rail program than ever before,” said the coalition, an alliance of state departments of transportation that was established in 2000.
Noting that the states’ focus is on “safety, economic development, energy security, and conservation and environmental quality,” coalition members also asked the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development for $100 million for the positive train control program; $55 million for the Swift High-Speed Rail Grade Crossing Elimination Program; and $45 million for the Rail Line Relocation program.
The coalition said it supports Amtrak’s separate request for$2.2 billion to address “a broad array of daunting challenges [including] meeting ADA requirements, operating over an ever-aging infrastructure, and assisting the states in development of a national intercity passenger rail system.”