BNSF Railway said Tuesday it has reduced transit schedules on 60% of its Domestic Intermodal Premium Container traffic, and added 16 more days of service.
The changes include a reduction in travel time by 7-to-10 hours on BNSF’s premier Transcontinental route between Los Angeles/San Bernardino and Chicago, giving customers a morning availability and allowing forsame-day delivery. BNSF says it also reduced transit time between Memphis and Los Angeles by 4-to-6 hours, and increased Houston inbound and outbound day-of-week frequency.
“These changes are a direct result of feedback from our domestic carrier customers on what they need to attract more over-the-road freight to a truck-rail intermodal solution,” said George Duggan, BNSF vice president, Domestic Intermodal.
“We’re pleased to have worked with BNSF to create improved intermodal service offerings for the marketplace,” said Paul Bergant, J.B. Hunt chief marketing officer and president, Intermodal. “These changes come just in time for bid season and allow us to attract more retailers to the efficiencies that truck-rail intermodal has to offer.”
Said Dave Howland, Schneider Intermodal vice president, Rail Management, “These changes not only better fit the needs of our customers, but they also offer customers the single most effective way to reduce emissions in their transportation service, potentially reducing carbon emissions on average by more than 50%.”
“With more capacity, speed and now better service options, these service enhancements allow Swift to continue to provide its customers with flexibility and trucklike reliability at a cost-effective price,” said Mark Young, president, Swift Intermodal.
Tulsa, Okla.-based Miratech Corp., which designs and manufactures emission control products, says it has been notified that the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application submitted for its V-CAT® catalyst has been accepted. Suchacceptance smooths the process for subsequent international patent filings, the company says.
Under the PCT, Miratech,by filing a single international patent application in one language with one patent office, will streamline the process for seeking protection for its V-CATdesign in up to 117 countries throughout the world.
“This is a huge stepin our being able to take the V-CAT technology into the international marketplace with peace of mind that our intellectual property rights can be protected,” said Miratech CEO Bill Clary. “We’ve had outstanding success with V-CAT domestically, given its ability to provide operators of EMD diesel engines used to power locomotives, gensets, and marine vessels the means to meet—and exceed—EPA Tier 0, 1, and 2 standards for exhaust emissions. We’re excited about taking that success worldwide, and this moves us forward toward doing so.”
Russian Railways Tuesday signed an agreement with Moscow-based Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (Rusnano) for a strategic partnership in introducing and commercializing nanotechnology in railway transportation.
The agreement sets out a mechanism for introducing and promoting innovation, including nanotechnology products, in the railway sector. Work under the agreement will allow RZD to meet rising quality demands in transport services, and increase transport volumes, freight tonnage, and track speeds.
Under the agreement, RZD and Rusnano will determine the most promising areas in which nanotechnology products can be applied, and the regions and company subdivisions in which to implement comprehensive projects.
The companies plan to develop a system for statistical monitoring of the effectiveness of nanotechnology, in order to create an information base for management decision-making.
Oregon's Department of Transportation has rejected an application for funding by the Siskiyou Regional Railroad Authority (in California) to apply toward the Siskiyou Summit line, which straddles the California-Oregon border.
The authority, formed by the cities of Weed and Montague in northern California, sought $13.4 million in funding to upgrade 80 miles and support operations for the first six months of service resumption. Only 14 miles of the track in question lie north of the California border, extending to Ashland, Ore.
Oregon DOT's development division ruled that the application does not meet feasibility criteria. The authority has one month to appeal the decision, should it so choose.
The Siskiyou Regional Railroad Authority has signed a memoof understanding with Union Pacific to acquire the line. The authority plans tohire a short line operator to operate the railroad.John Hammond, authority president, said the arrangement would benefit shipperssuch as Roseburg Forest Products and Timber Products Co. It would also allowthe authority to later develop passenger service and provide excursion trainsover the “spectacular Siskiyou mountains,” Hammond said.
A survey conducted by Railway Age in late 2009 shows that the market for passenger railcars exceeded that for freight railcars last year and may do so again this year.
In 2009, 1,141 new passenger cars worth around $2 billion were delivered to passenger rail operators in the United States and Canada, and on Dec. 31, 2009, manufacturers had a backlog of 2,380 new passenger railcars on order and undelivered.
Approximately 22,650 new freight cars were delivered in 2009, valued at around $1.6 billion. The current estimate for 2010 is 15,750 freight cars.
“This does not mean that freight railroad capital spending is not continuing at a high level,” said Railway Age Publisher Robert P. DeMarco. “In fact, information made available to Railway Age shows that capital investment by our four largest railroads this year will be in the multi-billions, approaching the high levels of the last two years, though the emphasis will be changed.”
“While the freight car market will not heat up until the economy does,” said DeMarco, “the railroads will be spending heavily on new signaling initiatives, to improve safety and add capacity; they will invest in new and expanded intermodal facilities, to handle the fastest growing part of the railroad business as trucks increasingly turn over much of their business to the railroads for the long haul; and improvements to specific freight corridors will continue, in some cases to make room for the new business coming from trucks.
“Meanwhile, the renewed interest passenger rail of all kinds—intercity, metro, regional, light rail—is a welcome change in national transportation policy. It is also of importance to the companies that develop and market the technologies and products that are the key to the future of both passenger and freight rail,” DeMarco said.
As for freight rail capital spending in 2010, BNSF Railway, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific will be committing approximately the same amount as 2009. BNSF plans to spend $2.4 billion; CSX, $1.7 billion; NS, $1.4 billion; and UP, $2.5 billion. While no significant freight car or locomotive acquisitions are planned for this year, a far larger amount of signaling and communications dollars will be applied to Positive Train Control projects than in prior years, due to the federal PTC mandate.
The Federal Railroad Administration has named Dr. Magdy El-Sibaie its new deputy associate administrator for safety, regulatory, and legislative affairs. He succeeds Grady Cothen, who announced late last year that he would retire, but will assist with the transition through March.
El-Sibaie (pictured at left) most recently was acting associate administrator for hazardous materials safety at DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Until last October, he served as FRA’s director of research and development. Prior to that, he served as the agency’s chief of track research, where he managed the FRA’s track inspection technology development program that created improved systems for measuring track geometry at high speeds.
He joined FRA in 1995 as a senior program manager in the Office of Research and Development, chairing a government-industry working group that formulated the first set of safety standards for U.S. high speed rail service. He also worked with rail suppliers and Amtrak to establish standards for Amtrak Acela service operating on the Northeast Corridor.
El-Sibaie earned a doctorate in engineering mechanics from the University of Delaware in 1986, and was recruited by the Association of American Railroads as a researcher at the industry’s Chicago Technical Center, where he is credited with pioneering new methods of computer modeling to measure the dynamic behavior of track under varying loads, speeds, and conditions. For that work, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers honored him in in 1980 with its Rail Transportation Award.
C.H. Robinson, a multimodal logistics company that works with 50,000 transportation providers worldwide, has named Union Pacific Intermodal Rail Carrier of the Year for 2008. This is the first time UP has earned the award.
“Union Pacific was a progressive and strategic supplier in a very challenging year,“ said Steve Weiby, C.H. Robinson vice president. "Its commitment to C.H. Robinson, overall service, and value are just a few of the reasons Union Pacific was chosen. We look forward to strengthening our relationship further in 2010.”
CSX Transportation customers in 2009 committed to invest in 92 new or expanded facilities that will create nearly 1,400 new jobs and ultimately bring $138 million in new revenue to the railroad.
CSXT said the facilities will be built both on CSXT lines and on some of the more than 230 short lines and regional railroads that connect to CSXT.
The projects are situated in 18 states and across markets that include energy, consumer goods and manufacturing, said FredrikEliasson, vice president-emerging markets.
"These projects collectively represent more than $3.2 billion in customer investments in new and expanded businesses on our network," Eliasson said. "These outstanding results are a vote of confidence in CSX as a vital link in economic recovery and one of the most environmentally friendly transportation modes."
In addition, said CSXT, 73 customers who had committed to new or increased rail traffic in 2008 and prior years began moving goods and commodities that at full production will result in more than $210 million in revenue.
The Association of American Railroads says U.S. rail freight traffic remains down in comparison with last year, though Canadianand Mexican railroads are reporting strong gains.
For the week ending Jan. 16, U.S. rail carriers originated 264,030 carloads of traffic, down 0.8% from the same week in 2009 and down 18.5% from the comparable week in 2008.
U.S. intermodal traffic added up to 201,728 trailers andcontainers, up 1.3% from a year ago, but down 12.6% from 2008.
Twelve of the 19 carload commodity groups were up from the same week last year, with eight posting double-digit gains. Increases ranged from 0.3% for coke to 83.2% for motor vehicles and equipment. Declines ranged from 14.5% for coal to 1.3% for the category "all other carloads."
Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Jan. 16 was estimated at 28.7 billion ton-miles, comparable with the same week last year and down 15.6% from 2008.
Canadian railroads reported 73,394 carloads for the latest week, up 24.1% from last year, and 44,268 trailers or containers, up 5.7%. Mexican railroads originated 13,210 carloads, up 21% from the same week last year, and 6,938 trailers or containers, up 41.7%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first two weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 666,886 carloads, down 0.8% from last year, and 498,477 trailers and containers, up 0.3%.