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%.
Boise, Idaho-based MotivePower, Inc. of will supply 20 new diesel-electric locomotives to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority at a cost not to exceed $114.63 million under a contract approved Wednesday by the MassDOT board of directors.
“Delivery of the pilot locomotive will be within 29 months from notice to proceed with delivery of the production fleet to begin at month 32 with three locomotives to be delivered per month through month 38,” said MBTA’s announcement.
MBTA General Manager Richard Davey said the acquisition will have an immediate positive impact on regional rail operations. MBTA will remove the 20 oldest locomotives from service, eliminating associated mechanical failures.
The oldest of MBTA’s fleet of 80 are the 18 originally manufactured between 1978 and 1980. They were overhauled in 1989 and the locomotives were scheduled for retirement in 2005. Noting that locomotives generally have a useful life of 25 years, MBTA said that by FY2013, 68% of the locomotive fleet will be scheduled for retirement.
In addition to increasing service reliability, MBTA said the new locomotives will meet “Tier 3” emission standards as regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Advancing the delivery of this cleaner technology will reduce fuel consumption by approximately 730,000 gallons per year and will reduce the following in emissions per year: particulate matter—26 tons; hydrocarbons—38 tons; and oxides of nitrogen—by 924 tons,” said the agency. “Also, the reduction in fuel consumption will save an estimated $1.5 million annually.”
MotivePower, a Wabtec subsidiary, has informed MBTA that the contract will create or sustain 1,246 jobs.
Wabtec Corp. announced Wednesday that it has agreed to buy G&B Specialties, Inc., and Bach-Simpson Corp., from Global Railway Industries Ltd., for $5 million. The G&B Specialties purchase is expected to close by July 31, and the Bach-Simpson purchase by Oct. 31.
The two companies have combined annual revenues of about $30 million. G&B Specialties manufactures track and signaling products. Bach-Simpson builds electronic instrumentation devices for freight rail and transit systems.
"G&B and Bach-Simpson will be a good strategic fit and offer solid growth potential," said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec's president and chief executive officer. "We view G&B as complementary to our recent acquisition of Xorail, and Bach-Simpson strengthens our market position in railway electronics."
G&B is based in Berwick, Pa.; its products include electric switch components, switch machine layouts, electric locks, junction boxes, and rail gear equipment. Founded in 1979, the company employs about 100 people.
Bach-Simpson, based in London, Ont., has about 40 employees. Its products include event data recorders and speed indicators.
Kansas City Southern announced late Tuesday that restoration of cross-border service on Kansas City Southern de Mexico’s Nuevo Laredo-Monterrey Mainline will be delayed by severe damage to a key bridge caused by flood waters spawned by Hurricane Alex.
KCS said that “as water receded at the Anahuac Bridge on the KCSM line between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey in Nuevo Leon on Sunday, bridge inspections revealed significant damage to its approaches from a surge of debris. As a result of this damage, it will be a matter of a few weeks, without further complications, before service can be restored over the Anahuac Bridge.”
KCS and KCSM are working with Union Pacific and Ferrocarril Mexicano to reroute trains over the Brownsville/Matamoros and Eagle Pass crossings “as capacity permits.”
“As the water receded below the track level, we were able to determine more clearly the extent of the damage done to the Anahuac Bridge approaches by the surge of debris,” said David Starling, KCS president and chief operating officer. “I have just returned from a personal inspection of the bridge and damage done resulting from Hurricane Alex. We believe it will be a matter of a few weeks before we can make the bridge operational again if there are no further complications. We have Mexican and U.S. personnel on site and have deployed reconstruction resources with more on the way. Reopening of the KCSM Nuevo Laredo-Monterrey mainline is our highest company priority and we are deploying our resources accordingly.”
Starling noted that service in northern Mexico has been disrupted for all carriers. And highways have been severely damaged as a result of the hurricane, which made landfall on June 30.
Brazil opened the bidding process Tuesday for a 329-mile high speed rail line connecting Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo and costing an estimated $19 billion. Nov. 29 as the deadline for bids, and he winner will be announced Dec. 16.
Contenders for the design-build-operate contract include Alstom of France, Siemens of Germany, and Mitsui & Co. of Japan.
The state development bank BNDES will fund up to 60% of the total cost. Brazil's government will create a company known as ETAV to manage the project and will retain a majority share in the project.
The estimated travel time between Brazil’s two largest cities on the new trains will be just over 1.5 hours, compared to one hour by air and six hours by bus.
Montreal Transit Corp. (Société de Transport de Montréal, or STM) said Tuesday it will issue an international call for bids on its pending subway car order.
The move was seen by some as a setback to both Bombardier Transportation and Alstom, who in partnership had anticipated a contract with STM worth up to C$4 billion (US$3.9 billion) to supply 765 cars, with an option for 288 additional cars. STM said it has received expressions of interest from Beasain, Spain-based Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles SA (CAF).
Bombardier and Alstom recently lost a court bid to quash STM’s efforts to reopen bidding. The companies said it was unfair to allow CAF to bid because conditions in a new bidding procedure launched in January were “far less restrictive and demanding” than the requirements they had to meet. But STM’s Board of Directors decided Tuesday that CAF meets its conditions as a qualified bidder, based on recommendations by both inside and outside experts, including SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.
Bombardier has warned that the company and its 90 suppliers could be forced to lay off hundreds of workers at Quebec facilities if it fails to win the contract.
Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, has been named a member of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s Board of Trustees, AAR said Tuesday.
“I am honored to be included in such a distinguished group of transportation policy experts and practitioners,” said Hamberger (pictured at left). “The Mineta Transportation Institute has long been regarded as one of the premier transportation research, education, and training centers in the U.S. I look forward to working with MTI to advance sound policy that improves the efficiency of our nation’s transportation system.”
Established by Congress in 1991, the San Jose, Calif.-based Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) is a national University Transportation Center and a Department of Transportation National Center of Excellence, specializing in policy studies related to multimodal surface transportation. MTI is named after former Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, who held the position from 2001 to 2006.
Representing all major surface transportation modes, the MTI Board of Trustees includes members of Congress and other members of the transportation community. The board provides policy direction, assists with needs assessment, and connects the institute and its programs with the international transportation community.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Monday that DOT is awarding North Carolina the first installment, $20.3 million, of the $545 million that President Obama granted the state in January for high speed rail corridor development.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will use the initial founding to refurbish passenger coaches and locomotives to expand rail service across the state.
“We’re improving North Carolina’s transportation infrastructure while putting people back to work,” said Secretary LaHood (pictured at left).
Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said North Carolina “has planned well and is set to build a world-class transportation network that will link the Tar Heel State to Washington, D.C. and the Northeast through high speed rail.”
Gov. Bev Perdue commented that “North Carolina has been a leader nationally in restoring passenger rail as a viable transportation alternative and we look forward to pursuing that goal in partnership with the federal government, beginning right now with this grant.”
CSX late Monday announced second-quarter earnings of $414 million, or $1.07 per share, compared with $305 million, or 77 cents per share, in the comparable quarter of 2009. CSX said higher traffic volume and efficiency measures contributed to the earnings increase. Revenue also rose, by 22%, to $2.66 billion.
The results beat analyst consensus expectations on anticipated revenue of $2.63 billion. Dahlman Rose & Co. Director-Equity Research and Railway Age Contributing Editor Jason Seidl called the performance “a high note,” noting CSX beat “both our and street estimates of $0.99 and $0.96, respectively.” Seidl also noted “an improved operating ratio of 71.2%, which is better than our estimate of 71.6%.”
Seidl noted, “The strong top line is largely attributable to a 13% year-over-year increase in total traffic, driven primarily by robust intermodal growth (up 18%), strong auto and metals volumes (up 63% and 44%, respectively), and solid increases in chemicals, emerging markets, and fertilizers. CSX reiterated its optimism about the ongoing freight recovery, stating that, while the economy remains dynamic, the company continues to see improvement in the market and maintains its positive outlook.”