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.”
U.S. freight carload traffic registered yet another decline during the week ended November 7, down 12.2% compared with comparable Week 44 of a year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported. Traffic also was down 19.6% from the comparable week in 2007. But U.S. intermodal traffic, though slipping 12.2% from a year ago, “showed incremental improvement from Week 43,” AAR noted.
Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week was 31 billion ton-miles, down 11.5% from 2008 and 14.7% from 2007. Four of 19 carload freight commodity groups gained ground, including grain (up 10%), nonmetallic minerals (up 2.8%), grain mill products (up 2.4%), and waste and scrap metal (up 1.6%).
Canadian railroads reported carload traffic fell 3.6% from the comparable week in 2008, while intermodal plunged 10% from a year ago. Mexico’s two major railroads reported carload traffic down 10.1% from the same week last year, with intermodal slipping a more modest 2.5%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 44 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was down 18.1% from last year, while intermodal fell 16% from 2008 levels.
Global Railway Industries has reported total revenue of C$16.9 million (US$16.1 million) for this year's third quarter, compared to C$15.1 million in the third quarter of 2008. Terry McManaman, chairman, president, and CEO of London, Ontario-based Global, said the lift came from passenger rail sources.
"Global's rail product and service offering to passenger rail and transit operators was the catalyst to our overall revenue growth in Q3, rising 12%," said McManaman. "Global subsidiary Bach-Simpson, whose customers are mostly commuter- and passenger-rail related, has generated a year-to-date sales increase of 59% and continues to forecast strong growth throughout the remainder of the year. Approximately 40% of Global's total revenues are generated from passenger rail and transit operators."
Continued weakness in the freight segment kept Global from posting an operating profit, though McManaman did say: "On a positive note, some of the freight railroads are starting to see some signs that several market groups are stabilizing, and if that is the case we expect a pent-up demand for our products for 2010 as rail work and maintenance programs resume to more normalized levels."
The company reported a third-quarter net loss of C$532,000 (US$507,000) compared to C$542,000 of net income in the third quarter of 2008. For the first nine months of 2009, a net loss of C$3 million (US$2.86 million) compared to C$1.3 million of net income for the same period in 2008.
"Due to the economic recession in 2008 and 2009 year-to-date, railroads continue to store about 20% of their locomotive and railcar fleets and maintain tight control over operating and capital expenditures to address reduced freight revenues and operating income," said McManaman. "The railroads' reduced spending has materially impacted Global's financial results in 2009 due to reduced locomotive and railcar maintenance and component sales being substantially lower than in prior years."
He said he expects the company will return to profitability in 2010.
"Despite lower demand for track & signal and railgear products, Global subsidiary G&B Specialties' sales and gross margins met management's expectations in the third quarter of 2009," said McManaman. "In 2009, G&B has been able to maintain the same level of sales compared to 2008, aided by new international sales, new customer penetration in local markets, and a higher average U.S. dollar."
McManaman continued, "Diminishing sales volumes in the locomotive and component markets, combined with the learning curve impact on the VIA Rail Canada ("VIA") project's margins, continue to negatively impact Global's largest subsidiary, CAD Railway Industries ("CADRI"), operating results and Global's overall financial results during the third quarter of 2009."
Fausto Levy, president of CADRI, said that "to date CADRI has delivered five remanufactured locomotives to VIA. CADRI's gross profit margins for the units in production under the C$101.5 million [US$97 million] VIA project have improved during Q3 versus Q2 and are expected to continue to improve as production line improvements are implemented. During the third quarter, we successfully negotiated a revised delivery schedule for the VIA locomotives which took into consideration prototyping and learning curve delays. Under the revised delivery schedule CADRI will deliver 8 locomotives to VIA in 2009."
Levy said CADRI "continues to experience decreased sales for locomotive maintenance and component parts. Management expects this trend to extend into early 2010 as railroads continue to store substantial numbers of locomotives and railcars."
Olin Corp. has purchased hundreds of Lat-Lon's solar tracking units, with built-in camera capability, to bolster security for its tank car fleet. Designed to provide "much more information than can be collected with traditional sensors," Lat-Lon says the pictures can show “the position of valves, hatches, brakes, condition of asset, weather, intruders, or damage," providing "increased security and safety by allowing the customer to act on a visual picture."
Clayton, Mo.-based Olin Corp. produces chlorine and caustic soda, sodium hydrosulfite, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen, potassium hydroxide, and bleach products, which are shipped by rail.
The camera captures pictures based on an event such as an impact or hatch opening, which matters to Olin executives such as Principal Software Engineer Don Loftis. “When an alarm is generated, the first thing I would like to do is go see the car. Now with the camera on Lat-Lon’s STU, that’s exactly what I can do,” Loftis says.
Images can be taken during the day as well as night. The camera has infrared capability and can capture a photo in complete darkness without intruders knowing that a picture was taken. The unit is powered by the sun and has a backup battery that provides the required power through the night. A patented Lat-Lon power system extends the life of batteries so that they do not need to be replaced as often.
The Charleston, Blue Creek & Sanderson Railway Co. (CB&SR) has asked the Surface Transportation Board for authority to lease and operate two Norfolk Southern lines totaling 30.6 miles in West Virginia. The lines run approximately from Charleston to Morris Fork and from Falling Rock to Blue Creek.
NS will retain operating rights for access to a potential future interchange with the Elk River Railroad.
CB&SR said its projected revenue would qualify it as a Class III carrier. The earliest the transaction may be consummated is Nov. 27, according to the STB.
RailAmerica, Inc. has reported third-quarter 2009 earnings from continuing operations of $3.5 million compared to $2.0 million for the third quarter of 2008. Third-quarter 2009 net income, which includes discontinued operations, was $3.5 million, compared to $2.9 million for the third quarter of 2008.
The company reported a third-quarter 2009 operating ratio of 76.7% vs. 81.5% last year.
John Giles, RailAmerica’s President and Chief Executive Officer, commented: "In the third quarter, we posted solid financia lresults generating adjusted EBITDA of $37.6 million, down 4% compared to the record third quarter of 2008 and up 7% compared to the second quarter of 2009. With the completion of the initial public offering in October, we have a strong balance sheet with approximately $130 million of cash and are well positioned to make strategic investments that will complement the opportunities we have to grow organically through freight and non-freight revenue growth and further productivity gains."
RailAmerica, Inc. operates of 40 railroads with approximately 7,500 miles of track in 27 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.
The Association of American Railroads reported that freight rail carloadings were down 15.3% in October compared with the same month last year. But "while U.S. rail intermodal traffic remained down 11.2% in October compared with the same month last year, there continued to be incremental month-to-month gains--up 4% from September 2009," said the AAR.
The association said coal traffic was down by 92,764 carloads, a factor in October's drop that "likely was the result of a cooler-than-normal summer that has led to larger-than-normal utility coal stockpiles." However, grain was up 1% as a weaker U.S. dollar lifted grain exports. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that grain deliveries by rail to ports surged in October.)
"October's intermodal numbers, along with the recently-announced increase in GDP for the third quarter, indicate that we are seeing some hope for improvement in the nation's economic situation," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray. "While it is still too early to say we are on the road to recovery, railroads continue to take freight cars out of storage with over 11,000 cars back in service in October."