Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday he's "hopefully optimistic" state legislators will support the latest effort to establish SunRail passenger rail service. Crist has maintained support for the proposal despite its repeated defeats in the state legislature, the latest occurring in late spring.
Crist is seeking a special legislative session to reconside rthe rail proposal, which would connect Orlando to Osceola County and West Volusia. Under the plan, the state would recommit to buying CSX right-of-way, a major sticking point for SunRail opponents in the past. The legislature has questioned CSX's negotiating stance requiring Florida to assume liability for all commuter-train-related mishaps, a stance CSX routinely has advanced as at least a starting point in negotiations with other states.
Crist acknowledged the still-extant obstacles to getting SunRail approved. “We need 21 votes, obviously, in the [state] senate to make that happen," he said.
InteRRIS™, the Integrated Railway Remote Information Service safety program launched by the railroad industry in 1997 to implement cutting edge technology, in order to gather data on equipment performance in order to reduce derailments, last week notched subscriber number one million, according to the Association of American Railroads.
"The point of this vast technology system is to improve safety on the 140,000 mile rail network by monitoring the health of rail equipment real-time and detecting problems before an accident or derailment occurs, " said Edward Hamberger, AAR president and CEO (pictured at left). "The system is doing its job; broken wheel derailments are down 10% and bearing related accidents have declined by 25%. We believe the continued expansion of data systems like InteRRIS™ will pay added dividends in terms of enhanced safety and efficiency in the movements of goods across our nation."
InteRRIS™ was developed by the Transportation Center Inc. (TTCI) as a data warehouse for automatically acquiring, storing, and analyzing vehicle performance information. Data is culled from more than 170 wayside detectors located throughout the nationwide system. The system alerts the industry and subscribers (railroads, private car owners, railcar fleet managers) with customizable information about how a vehicle is operating, including car history, wheel performance, truck performance, and hunting data.
As a key support of the Advanced Technology Safety Initiative, InteRRIS™ provides a snapshot of a railcar's strength and fitness and alerts customers to potential problems before they occur,resulting in a more predictive approach to railroad maintenance resolving issues before they become problems or accidents.
Railinc Corp. Tuesday said it has been named a winner at the 2009 NCTA 21 Awards in the category of “Industry Driven Technology Company.” The awards, bestowed annually by the North Carolina Technology Association, honor technology companies and individuals across 21 categories in the Tar Heel State for innovation and excellence.
“Railinc is honored to be recognized among such well-known and respected leaders in the technology industry,” said Allen West, CEO and president. “This award acknowledges the important work that our people do for the freight rail industry, and shows why Railinc is one of the best places to work in North Carolina.”
One day after GE Transportation announced an agreement to provide 300 locomotive assemblies for China HXN5 Mainline locomotives produced by CSR Qishuyan with Evolution® Series diesel engines, the two parties announced “formation of a joint venture company with CSR Qishuyan Locomotive Co., Ltd., a unit of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd., to develop, build, and service GE’s Evolution® Series locomotive diesel engines” in China itself.
The announcement Tuesday, as per the previous one made Monday, was timed to emphasize "GE's Clean Technology Week in China"activities.
The joint venture is scheduled to launch operations at theend of 2011, including the assembly, testing and overhaul of engine components such aspower assemblies and turbochargers in China. During the second phase, starting in 2013, engines as well as components will be assembled, tested, and overhauled.
“This new joint venture directly aligns with GE’s strategicdirection to design, manufacture and service product within the region or country in which they are used,” said Tim Schweikert, president of GE Transportation China. “GE will continue to supply key engine components for the final engine assembly such as turbocharger and fuel injection kits. Providing these key components also helps sustain approximately 120 U.S. manufacturing jobs.”
Erie, Pa.-based GE Transportation, a unit of General Electric Co., says its Chinese joint venture partner has provided more than half of the more than 12,000 diesel locomotives currently in service in the world's most populous nation.
Also Tuesday, GE and China’s Ministry of Railways announcedthat they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly advance high speedrail opportunities in the United States.
Lexington, Mass.-based RailRunner N.A. Inc. has announced the availability of its Model ReeferProTM 100 chassis for temperature-controlled ISO containers, developed specifically for shippers of produce, frozen or refrigerated foods, pharmaceuticals, and other products requiring temperature-controlled transportation.
ReeferPro allows ports, inland terminals, and shippers to no longer rely solely on their own power plugs, hazardous fueling capacities, or other sources of energy for supplying electric power to containers while parked, during road movements or on rail, simplifying both the supply chain and backhaul opportunities, the company says.
The bi-modal ReeferPro 100 chassis provides an air-cushion suspension on rail, especially suitable for sensitive and fragile cargo, up to six-day uninterrupted power supply, and continuous monitoring of fuel supply and GPS location. For modem-equipped containers, ReeferPro can also monitor cargo temperature, humidity, and air circulation. ReeferPro 100 enables a shipper to load a refrigerated container at a farm or food processor and, without requiring any cranes or other expensive lifting equipment, to seamlessly ship by rail and/or road, providing “door-to-door,” same-box, temperature-controlled service, the company says.
“ReeferPro 100 fills an important and unique market need,” said company Chjef Operating Officer Wolfgang Graaff. “Its high security, air-cushioned ride characteristics can serve both domestic and international customers, protecting against product damage and theft.”
Alstom SA has been awarded a 190 million euro ($282 million) contract to supply 74 Citadis light rail vehicles to Casa Transports, the public transport opeator in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city, for the city’s new LRT system. Alstom will build, operate, and maintain the cars.
The contract, stretches over 15 years. Alstom’s Citadis cars, in married pairs, will be similar in configuration to the trainsets it has under construction for use in Rabat, the nation’s capital. The Casablanca cars will begin entering service in December 2012, Alstom says.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released ridership figures showing that all three of its rail operating agencies lost ground in this year's first eight months.
Metro-North Railroad posted the biggest loss, with ridership during the January-August period declining 6.84% to 51.5377 million. The Long Island Rail Road fared a little better, counting 55.486 million riders, a 5.2% decline.
New York City Transit's subways carried 1.042 billion riders, a drop of 3.1%.
While Metro-North had the worst performance in ridership, it was at the top of the class financially.
MTA measures financial performance in two ways. The operating ratio states the percentage of operating costs covered by fares. The farebox recovery ratio states the percentage of fully allocated costs covered by fares.
Metro-North had an operating ratio of 54.1%, followed by NYC Transit with 50%, and LIRR with 43.7%.
The farebox recovery ratios were: Metro-North, 39.2%; NYCTransit, 34.8%; and LIRR, 28.9%.
Princeton, N.J.-based ALKTechnologies, Inc. says it has designed a new Graphical User Interface (GUI) for its users to easily access PC*MILER mileage, toll costs, map data, drivingdirections, and reporting functionality.
Web Services enables ALK customers to access an interface to PC*MILER over the Internet through their own websites and networks. Routing and map data is hosted by ALK on Tier 1 data center servers and is delivered to users as though it is installed locally. Some key benefits ofthe service include reducing IT infrastructure investments, the ability to ensure server scalability, and optimizing resources.
Traditionally, PC*MILER Web Services features have been integrated into customer websites by programmers through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to preserve the look and feel of the customer site. Now providers offering hosted transportation management software, for example, which use these APIs to deliver accurate routing, mileage and mapping, need not take this extra design step, ALK says. The new GUI can be accessed through a web browser where ALK has completed the design work for the customer/user.
The new graphical user interface is written in HTML(Hyper Text Markup Language) and is independent of PC*MILER Web Services data and programming which are provided in universally accessible XML (Extensible Markup Language). The interface also helps those customers who are integrating PC*MILER Web Services into their own applications. Using the new GUI, programmers can better visualize how to incorporate PC*MILER Web Services for maximum efficiency.
"We've made PC*MILER Web Services more accessible to more customers," said Roy Schijns, vice president, Sales, for PC*MILER Solutions. "Now the interface can be put to work simply and quickly by virtually any company. With minimal IT support, users with multiple locations, multiple versions of PC*MILER, or mixed computer systems can bring PC*MILER tomore end-users through the new GUI."
Erie, Pa.-based GE Transportation announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with CSR Qishuyan Locomotive Co., Ltd., based in Beijing, to provide 300 locomotive assemblies for China HXN5 Mainline locomotives produced by CSR Qishuyan with Evolution® Series diesel engines.
GE said the agreement helps to sustain close to 1,200 high-tech jobs in the U.S. The announcement was made as part of "GE's Clean Technology Week in China" activities.
GE Transportation, a subsidiary of Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric Co., said the agreement follows an order of 300 Evolution Series China Mainline Locomotives originally placed in 2005. According to the agreement, GE Transportation will supply 300 locomotive assemblies that will be manufactured in Erie and Grove City, Pa., and shipped to China. The assemblies contain key components of the diesel engines and locomotive control systems that will be built into Evolution Series China Mainline locomotives assembled in China.
The first batch of the locomotive assemblies is scheduled for delivery at the beginning of 2010.
Lorenzo Simonelli, president and CEO of GE Transportation, said, “China has been a vital partner to GE Transportation’s growth for close to 30 years. We are looking forward to building on our mutually beneficial company-to-country partnership.”
“GE Transportation’s rail technology is an integral part of China’s sustainable infrastructure development and increases China’s usage of the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly locomotives in its fleet,” said Tim Schweikert, president of GE Transportation China. “China’s Ministry of Railways sought a product that would significantly improve hauling capability and running speed on the China Mainline, while at the same time reduce emissions to meet increasingly rigorous environmental requirements. GE’s Evolution Series met those requirements.”
GE Transportation says of the 300 6,250-horsepower Evolution Series HXN5 China Mainline Locomotives ordered in 2005, more than 100, assembled within China by CSR Qishuyan, already have been placed in revenue service.
The locomotive assemblies are based on GE’s Evolution technology, the result of an eight-year, $400 million development effort to produce technologically advanced, fuel-efficient, and low emissions diesel-electric, heavy-haul locomotives. Close to 3,500 Evolution Locomotives are operating in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, Australia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Egypt.
In a rare media interview, Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. chief Warren Buffett told television's Charlie Rose that while Berkshire's own businesses (including BNSF Railway) have seen the bottom of the recession, the national economy isn't likely to register a comeback for two more years.
As Reuters noted in reporting the interview, the world's second-richest investor “made a big bet on the U.S. economy” when Berkshire agreed to pay about $26.4 billion for the shares of BNSF (about 77%) not already in its portfolio.
Buffett expressed concern about the rising national deficit.
“In the end, Congress is the one that determines the value of the dollar over time. If they follow policies that require us printing too much of it, monetizing debt and all that sort of thing, dollars will become worth a lot less,” he cautioned. “They've got to raise taxes now that income will go up as the recession ends anyway, but they're going to have to close the gap between expenditures,” he also said. “We cannot keep running fiscal deficits like we are currently without having a lot of consequences over time.”