Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen on Thursday ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the BNSF Railway that gives them wage increases totaling 11% over the five-year life of the contract.
More than 3,500 engineers voted, with 75% favoring the agreement. It will take effect Jan. 1, 2010, and runs through Dec. 31, 2014.
The contract settles wage and work rule matters, with health and welfare issues to be addressed in industry-wide negotiations.
In addition to pay increases, BLET engineers will also receive an increased 401(k) contribution from the railroad. Those with 25 or more years of service will receive an extra week of vacation for a total of six weeks.
BLET National Vice President Steve Speagle, who helped negotiate the contract, said "the high percentage of those who voted in favor showed that the engineers recognize the value of the agreement in this economic climate."
RailComm has successfully commissioned a Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) system for the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s diesel multiple-unit (DMU) rail service in Austin, Tex. The Track Warrant Control portion of the system was launched just 32 days from the signed Notice to Proceed.
The railroad employment index reached its lowest point this year in November as total Class I employment declined to 147,047, down 1.29% from October and off 9.77% from November 2008.
The employment index, based on 1967 as 100, fell to 24.1. (Employment in November 1967 was 593,568.) The previous low this year was 24.5, in both October and November. The index in January 2009 was 26.2.
Comparisons with November 2008 showed declines in all six job categories: executives, officials, and staff assistants, -10.34%; professional and administrative, -1.58%; maintenance of way and structures, -6.34%; maintenance of equipment and stores, -7.42%; transportation (other than train and engine), -1.99%; and transportation (train and engine), -15.0%.
The last category, which supplies operating train crews, is particularly important since it is the single biggest group (numbering 56,447 in November) and had the largest percentage drop.
Bombardier Transportation and its joint-venture partners in China have won a contract to supply Shanghai Rail Transit Line 12 Development Co. Ltd. with 246 Bombardier MOVIA metro cars (41 six-car trains). Bombardier's share of the $291 million contract is around $138 million.
The contract was awarded to Changchun Bombardier Railway Vehicles Company, Ltd. (CBRC), together with a consortium for the propulsion system consisting of Bombardier Transportation Sweden and Changzhou Railcar Propulsion Engineering R&D Center (CPC).
The cars will be assembled in China at CBRC production facilities in Changchun. Propulsion equipment will be manufactured at the production site of Bombardier CPC Propulsion System Co. Ltd. in Changzhou and Bombardier production facilities in Vasteras, Sweden. Deliveries are scheduled to begin 28 months following contract award, with completion in 2014.
GE South African Technologies (GESAT), GE Transportation's entity in South Africa, said Friday it has been awarded a contract to supply 100 locomotives Transnet Freight Rail, South Africa's state-owned rail freight logistics utility, whose parent is Transnet Ltd.
GE said 10 of the locomotives will be manufactured in GE Transportation’s Erie, Pa., and Grove City, Pa., facilities. The remaining 90 will be manufactured locally at Transnet Rail Engineering’s site in South Africa with kits provided by GE Transportation.
“We are pleased that GE is helping drive South Africa towards a lead manufacturing economy by localizing the production of locomotives in South Africa. We look forward to sharing some of our global success with Transnet and thus jointly expanding our regional footprint,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, presidentand CEO of GE Transportation.
“GE’s extensive knowledge in localizing locomotive assembly can be witnessed in some of the world’s leading developing economies such as China, Brazil, and Kazakhstan," Simonelli said. "Each of our global manufacturing sites has been specifically customized in line with customer and country requirements and capabilities. We worked closely with Transnet Rail Engineering to develop a comprehensive localization plan that complements local strengths and transfers world-class skills and technology where applicable.”
GE said its model C30ACi, the first AC diesel electric locomotive to be introduced to sub-Saharan Africa, will have an engine that delivers 3,300 Gross HorsePower (GHP) using an electronic fuel-injection system that automatically supplies the exact amount of fuel needed for optimal engine efficiency. The locomotives will also feature GE’s AC propulsion technology and dynamic braking.
Addition of the new locomotives, which will be used to haul freight and coal, will decrease life-cycle costs, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce emissions, GE said.
Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger Thursday issued a statement commenting on the Senate Commerce Committee markup of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Bill.
Said Hamberger, "We appreciate the efforts of the Senate Commerce Committee, under the leadership of Chairman [Jay] Rockefellerand Senator [Kay Bailey] Hutchison and senior Committee members of both parties, to work with all freight stakeholders over the last several months in developing this legislation.”
Rockefeller (D. W.Va.) in years past has criticized the freight rail industry; Hutchison (R-Tex.) is ranking member of the committee.
"This bill would be the most significant rewrite of the railroad industry's regulatory system in the last three decades. Under the bill, Class I railroads would be required to open their privately owned and maintained rail networks and would face vastly expanded government involvement in railroad operations,” Hamberger said.
"We continue to have concerns about certain provisions in the bill, particularly the nature and scope of the antitrust provision that may be added at a later date, and we will remain engaged with the Commerce Committee, Congress, and the Administration, to craft final legislation that ensures railroads can continue to make the investments that sustain a healthy national rail network," he said.
Michigan State Rep. Bert Johnson reportedly was to introduce legislation Thursday that would establish a regional public transit authority for metropolitan Detroit, as the Motor City continues to play catch-up in terms of public transportation.
Johnson, who represents Detroit, said he wants the legislation introduced before the Legislature leaves for the year at the end of the week, saying that federal transportation funding will be lost to elsewhere if action isn't taken soon. Johnson seeks to advance the legislation despite concerns voiced by Detroit Mayor David Bing.
Bills that would set up the authority to govern a system of improved and new bus and rail service throughout Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties, and in the city of Detroit, already have been presented to the state legislature. A state-sanctioned legal authority is needed to qualify for federal transportation dollars to finance implementation of any regional system.
But so far, approval for creating an authority has proved elusive. The three counties were able to reach an accord on the bulk of the proposed legislation, but Detroit has objected because the 65-35 city-suburbs percentage split of federal transit funding set up in the 1980s would be replaced in the new legislation by tradition state and federal formulas.
"The city is right to be concerned for that. That's a very valid point," Johnson acknowledged, but he said an imperfect process is preferable to further delays. "These are imperfect ideas we hope to make more perfect" through negotiations during work group and committee meetings, he said.
Trucking giant Schneider National announced Wednesday that its Intermodal division has completed a three-year conversion of its trailer/container mix to an all-container fleet.
"Current economic realities require that shippers scrutinize every aspect of their supply chain in search of energy efficiencies and cost savings,” said Schneider’s Bill Matheson, president, Intermodal Services. “Our 53-foot container-focused service makes it even easier for customers to leverage Schneider Intermodal’s trucklike service and the environmental benefits that come with shipping by rail."
He said the multimillion-dollar conversion included more than 12,000 units.
“The benefits of moving freight via intermodal containers are so significant that there’s no doubt containers will become the intermodal standard in the very near future,” Matheson said. “Shippers want to stack containers and move more freight–in an energy-efficient manner–at one time. They also want a simplified process for trailer/container management, both for their shipping department and the truck drivers moving their freight. Our new containerization approach delivers on both fronts.”
Sound Transit will open its Tukwila to Sea-Tac International Airport light rail extension Saturday at 10 a.m. The agency is counting on the addition for direct access to the airport and to bolster ridership on the existing 13.9 mile system. Airport access from the LRT system has been offered by a free bus shuttle.
Sea Tac/Airport Station connects to the airport garage via a pedestrian walkway. Airport passengers will follow a separated guideway through the garage to the main terminal. Luggage carts will be available at the station.
Sound Transit says the airport employs roughly 15,000 directly and indirectly, and expects many to tap LRT for their trips to and from work.