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New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is weighing time-of-day pricing for its subway service, offering lower fares (classified as “discounts”) for late-night and weekend use. MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder is advancing the idea, citing its successful implementation in other cities, including London.

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A new computerized, scannable fare card would allow MTA New York City Transit to charge passengers different prices depending on the time ofday, Walder said. “We might imagine that we offer discounts at later times, or we offer weekend discounts,” the chairman said in a newspaper interview.“Time-of-day pricing might be very attractive.”

Though the subway is lagging behind even many U.S. rail transit properties on this matter, time-of-day pricing is in place on numerous toll roads, bridges, and tunnels in the New York metropolitan area, and MTA regional railroads traditionally have offered varying fares for peak or off-peak travel. But the city’s subway, which first began running in 1904, historically has charged a flat fee regardless of time of day or of distance traveled.

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Denver’s Regional Transportation District has moved to rescind a planned cutback of bus and light rail service originally scheduled to take effect in January, as part of a cost-cutting move. RTD’s Board of Directors had directed staff to come up with service reductions to help balance the agency's budget.

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But RTD has since discovered it would receive an unanticipated $23 million in sales-tax proceeds during the next two years because of a change in state law relating to tax collections. Colorado legislators passed a measure earlier this year that eliminated a 3.3% "vendor's allowance" that businesses had been able to deduct from their tax obligation for the timely remittance of sales and use taxes.

--> Denver’s Regional Transportation District has moved to rescind a planned cutback of bus and light rail service originally scheduled to take effect in January, as part of a cost-cutting move. RTD’s Board of Directors had directed staff to come up w ...

A new short line railroad operator, the New Jersey Seashore Lines, began existence this week as rail right-of-way once owned by the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) was cleared of underbrush in preparation for upgrading.

The 13 miles of right-of-way, owned by the Clayton Sand Co., will be rehabilitated to allow access to the company’s sand mine in Woodmansie, located in the state’s Pine Barrens region. Clayton Sand has contracted with New Jersey Seashore Lines to operate service on the route between Woodmansie and Lakehurst, where ex-CNJ right-of-way is owned by New Jersey Transit Corp.

All grade crossings along the stretch will be upgraded, with funding provided by the state’s Department of Transportation, one source told Railway Age.

The development follows a decision by the Surface Transportation Board Sept. 25 which, in part, noted, “Anthony Macrie (Macrie), a noncarrier individual, filed a verified notice of exemption pursuant to 49 CFR1180.2(d)(2) to continue in control of Cape May Seashore Lines, Inc. (CMSL), an existing Class III carrier, and its corporate affiliate New Jersey Seashore Lines, Inc. (NJSL), upon the latter becoming a common carrier.”

“NJSL concurrently filed a verified notice of exemption ... to operate line of rail ... owned by a shipper, Clayton Companies, Inc. (Clayton) [Editor's note: SIC], but Clayton is not an applicant here,” the decision read. “According to the parties’ filings, after Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) abandoned the line, Clayton acquired it from Conrail in 1985 for use as a private industry track. Clayton has now engaged NJSL to operate the line for 10 years ...  NJSL states that it will hold itself out to provide common carrier rail freight service over the line during the 10-year period.”

--> A new short line railroad operator, the New Jersey Seashore Lines, began existence this week as rail right-of-way once owned by the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) was cleared of underbrush in preparation for upgrading. ...

Princeton, N.J.-based ALK Technologies, Inc. has announced the availability of PC*MILER|Rail 16, its latest software update for rail routing, mileage, and mapping. The company says its close working relationship with all major railroads has resulted in the most accurate digital representation of the current North American rail network.

Version 16 contains enhanced features such as extensive data update of rail freight stations, railroads, interline routing, and track ownership rights, as well as the CN and CP post-merger systems.

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PC*MILER|Rail, when used together with PC*MILER, can be used to analyze intermodal alternatives to truck-only moves, according to ALKTechnologies’ Mark Hornung, senior vice president, Operations. “Using the new PC*MILER Intermodal Analysis template, shippers and logistics providers can now find nearby ramps, compare truck and rail-intermodal mileage, as well as estimate savings in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” Hornung says.

ALK Technologies notes all Class I railroads have adopted PC*MILER|Rail for their mileage calculations, as have most rail car lessors and large rail shippers. 

--> Princeton, N.J.-based ALK Technologies, Inc. has announced the availability of PC*MILER|Rail 16, its latest software update for rail routing, mileage, and mapping. The company says its close working relationship with all major railroads has resulted i ...

Canadian National Wednesday said it has placed orders for 70 new high-horsepower locomotives from both GE Transportation and Electro-MotiveDiesel, Inc. (EMD). CN will acquire 35 ES44DC locomotives (top) from Erie, cn-es44dc.jpgPa.-based GE Transportation, beginning in the fourth quarter of next year, and 35 SD70M-2s from LaGrange, Ill.-based EMD beginning in January 2011.

The GE locomotives produce 4,400 horsepower; the EMD units generate 4,350 horsepower. 

All the new units are part of CN’s multiyear locomotive-renewal program aimed at continuously increasing fuel efficiency, improving service reliability for its customers, and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

cnsd70m-2.jpgCN says the new locomotives are 15-20% more fuel-efficient than the ones they will replace and will comply fully with the latest regulatory requirements for reduced locomotive exhaust emissions.

The new locomotives also will be equipped with distributed power (DP) capability. DP enables remote control of a locomotive or locomotives throughout a train from the lead control locomotive.

CN said DP provides faster, smoother trainstarts, improved braking and lower pulling forces at the head-end of a train.This enables CN to run fewer and more efficient trains and to take advantage ofthe productivity gains from its extended siding program. With more optimum matching of motive power to train weight, DP locomotives also allow CN to reduce fuel consumption and reduce emissions.  --> Canadian National Wednesday said it has placed orders for 70 new high-horsepower locomotives from both GE Transportation and Electro-MotiveDiesel, Inc. (EMD). CN will acquire 35 ES44DC locomotives (top) from Erie, ...

Lower volumes contributed to a drop in CN's third-quarter 2009 earnings. Net income declined to C$461 million, or C$0.97 per diluted share, from year-earlier net income of C$552 million, or C$1.16 per diluted share, “largely as a result of lower freight volumes stemming from depressed North American and global economies,” CN reported. Operating revenues declined 18% to C$1.845 million; carloads declined 15%; and revenue ton-miles declined 11%. Operating expenses declined 18% to C$1.156 million, reflecting lower year-over-year fuel prices and cost-containment measures in response to lower traffic. Operating income declined 18% to C$689 million, while the operating ratio was essentially flat at 62.7%.

cn.jpgHowever, CN's nine-month 2009 free cash flow increased to C$657 million from the C$483 million generated during the comparable period of 2008.

Net income for the third quarter of 2009 and third quarter of 2008 included deferred income tax recoveries of C$15 million, or C$0.03 per diluted share, and C$41 million, or C$0.09 per diluted share, respectively. The recoveries in both years resulted from the resolution of various income tax matters and adjustments related to tax filings of prior years. Excluding these items, adjusted third-quarter 2009 net income was C$446 million, or C$0.94 per diluted share, compared with year-earlier adjusted net income of C$511 million, or C$1.07 per diluted share, a reduction of 12% in diluted earnings per share.

The year-over-year increase in the U.S. dollar relative to the Canadian dollar affected the conversion of CN's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses, increasing third-quarter 2009 net income by approximately C$15 million, or C$0.03 per diluted share.

E. Hunter Harrison, president and chief executive officer, said: “The third quarter of 2009 was another challenging one for CN, with significant weakness across markets affecting our freight volumes. Revenue ton-miles for the quarter declined 11%, but that was a sequential improvement over the 14% RTM reduction in the second quarter of this year. The CN team continued to focus on cost containment and productivity improvements during 3Q-2009. And the team delivered. We kept the operating ratio essentially flat at 62.7% and made solid operational gains: System train speeds improved again, rising 11% year-over-year, while the average dwell time for freight cars in our classification yards across the railroad declined by 9% from a year earlier. Equally important, our accident rate improved by 8% over the same period of 2008. It appears that several of our markets may have hit bottom. Our productivity gains during 2009 position us well for the eventual recovery in traffic.”

CN said its reduction in third-quarter 2009 revenues largely resulted from significantly lower freight volumes in almost all markets as a result of prevailing economic conditions in the North American and global economies; and the impact of a lower fuel surcharge due to year-over-year decreases in applicable fuel prices, as well as lower freight volumes. Partly offsetting these factors were the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and freight rate increases.

All CN commodity groups saw revenue declines: metals and minerals, 32%; automotive, 25%; forest products, 24%; intermodal, 20%; petroleum and chemicals, 11%; coal, 9%; and grain and fertilizers, 9%.

Rail freight revenue per revenue ton-mile decreased by 9% in the third quarter, largely due to the impact of a lower fuel surcharge and an increase in the average length of haul. These factors were partly offset by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar and freight rate increases.

CN's 18% decline in operating expenses was primarily due to lower fuel costs, reduced expenses for purchased services and material, and lower casualty and other expenses. These factors were partially offset by the negative translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses.

“Looking ahead, CN’s prospects for the long-term are favorable as a long freight recession appears to be nearing an end,” said Dahlman Rose Director-Equity Research and Railway Age Contributing Editor Jason Seidl. “The company noted that it sees signs of improvement in the environment and that business volumes have likely reached bottom. Specifically, CN cites sequential improvements in steel production, iron ore and chemicals.  The company should emerge from the recession with a much firmer grip on operating costs and ample capacity to meet a potential turnaround in freight volumes.  We believe that CN is well positioned to readily accommodate a 15-20% surge in traffic from current levels without having to significantly increase operating expenses. CN continues to be a way for investors to own a ‘best in class’ company that continues to generate strong free cash flow in a difficult operating environment.”
 

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The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $20.9 million to states, territories and Native American tribes to improve the nation's response to transportation incidents involving hazardous materials. The grants will help train first responders to react to incidents involving hazardous materials and to meet the safety challenges posed by new chemicals and alternative energy products such as ethanol.

"This program strengthens local emergency response capabilities and serves a vital role in a comprehensive hazmat safety program," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "Although prevention is our first priority, preparing communities to respond effectively to incidents that do occur is essential to protecting the safety of all Americans."

The grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are funded by user fees paid by shippers and carriers of certain hazardous materials.

Since 1993, more than 2.4 million emergency responders and others have received training assistance nationwide using Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grants. Assistance was also given to approximately 1,700 local emergency planning committees each year in preparing and exercising hazardous materials emergency response plans, and in conducting commodity flow studies that identify transportation hazards. Effective in 2008, transportation legislation more than doubled the funding of the HMEP grants program.

All 50 states, one territory, and seven North American tribes received HMEP grant funding this year.

More information on the HMEP grants program can be found at: http://hazmat.dot.gov/training/state/hmep/hmep.htm .

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The SunRail commuter train that would serve Central Florida likely will get a third shot at approval from the Legislature in December, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

sunrail.jpgGov. Charlie Crist joined Senate President Jeff Atwater, R- North Palm Beach, in calling for a special session in Tallahassee Dec. 7-11 to approve SunRail and prop up the Tri-Rail commuter train in South Florida. SunRail has been defeated twice in the Senate, most recently in April during the regular session. Proponents are hopeful of victory this time.

"This is our best chance. We've got to get it," said Sen. Lee Constantine, R- Altamonte Springs, who has led local delegation efforts for the $1.2 billion project.

Triggering the optimism is the repeated warnings of federal officials - voiced again Oct. 19 - that Florida's application for nearly $2.6 billion in stimulus money to build a high-speed train between Orlando and Tampa is contingent on getting SunRail up and running and improving Tri-Rail's finances.

Atwater and two other state senators personally got the word during a visit to Washington, where they met with federal transit officials and Florida Sens. George LeMieux and Bill Nelson.

"Shame on us if we don't take advantage of this historic opportunity," LeMieux said. "The federal government is ready to invest billions of dollars, but they need a firm and long-term commitment from our state. Building commuter and high-speed rail lines will create thousands of jobs; it will stimulate our economy; and it will mean transformative change for our metropolitan areas."

Atwater called for the special session after the meeting. He was joined by state Sens. Al Lawson of Tallahassee - leader of the Democratic caucus - and J.D. Alexander, R- Lake Wales.

Crist said during an impromptu news conference in Tallahassee that he would back a special session. A formal announcement of the session, however, is still pending. Timing is critical because the Obama administration intends to announce this winter which states will get high-speed rail money. Federal officials are sifting through 45 requests from 24 states seeking a total of $50 billion. The fund holds only $8 billion.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, one of SunRail's leading supporters, predicted success if the session is held.

"I don't think we would have a special session if we didn't have the votes," said Dyer of the train that would run for 61.5 miles and link DeLand in Volusia County with downtown Orlando and Poinciana in Osceola County.

It takes 21 votes to pass the 40-member Senate; last session SunRail garnered only 16.

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BNSF Railway Chairman, President, and CEO Matt Rose, delivering the keynote address at Railway Age’s 16th Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads Conference in Washington, D.C., said that carefully targeted investments in the national freight rail infrastructure will be absolutely needed if high ...

Kansas City Southern de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. said that David W. Eaton will replace Gloria M. Ballesteros as leader of the sales and marketing department effective Nov. 1, 2009. Ballesteros has decided to transition her position with the company to an active consultancy role, so that she can spend more time with her family. She will remain in her current position until the end of the year, and will assist Eaton in his transition.

In addition to leading the sales and marketing and service design functions, Ballesteros has led customer service, network services and served as a superintendent for the Southern Region. Prior to joining the company, she was the Association of American Railroads rules coordinator for ALSTOM. She holds an industrial engineering degree from Technological Institute of Monterrey.

Eaton has moved from vice president corporate affairs and right-of-way protection to vice president sales and marketing. He will now focus his efforts on the KCSM sales and marketing department; however, he will also provide transitional leadership for the company's corporate affairs and right-of-way protection department, which handles the company's federal, state and local relations program, as well as other right of way protection responsibilities.

After serving as a consultant on the team transitioning TFM to KCSM, Eaton became a full-time KCSM employee in 2005. Prior to that, he was a partner in Monterrey Business Consultants and ran a NAFTA legal think tank at the Technological Institute of Monterrey. A dual citizen of the U.S. and Mexico, he holds a Masters degree in commercial law from Technological Institute of Monterrey, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona and a Bachelor's degree in business administration and political science from Northern Arizona University. He is a member of the board of directors of the American Chamber of Commerce-Monterrey Division and chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce International Trade Committee.

Current assistant vice president for right-of-way protection Edgar Guillaumin will lead the corporate affairs and right-of-way protection department during this period of transition.

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