Blue Anchor, N.J.-based ProTran1 LLC is co-host to “the Atoms Family,” a team of teens and pre-teens honored as New Jersey State Champions that will compete in an international robotics competition in Atlanta. The group, also co-sponsored by the Georgia Institute of Technology, has adopted train safety as its theme.
The robotics competition has four parts: the “Robot Score,” where a robot performs a variety of tasks for points on a timed basis; robot design; teamwork; and a “research presentation.” The competion’s research topic, “Smart Move,” mandates a “presentation of a real-life transport problem and the team’s potential solution.”
The Atoms Family members, in researching the topic, discovered that an estimated 18,000 train-to-automobile-related accidents occur annually in the U.S. Seeking to mitigate that problem, the team created the Train Stopper 3000, a wireless device using sensor pads on the tracks. They warn conductors via radio frequency about potential hazards on train tracks, sending an advisory alarm when an object, such as an automobile, is on railroad tracks for more than 20 seconds.
Upon learning that a comparable device hadn't been patented on the market, to their best knowledge, the team sought a provisional patent that might give their invention a platform for another company to develop and help save lives.
The Atoms Family will be competing against teams from 40 other countries. Prior to the competition, however, the team will be presenting its new technology and program to Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., and to both Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, as well as the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
Members of the team (pictured, left to right) include Jacob Bartek, Peter
Bartek, Jon Rodriguez, Lauren Shultz, Luke Smith and Sam Colabella; the
team is coached by Christine Shultz (lower center in photo), while
Peter Bartek Sr. and Chris Colabella served as adult mentors for the
Though still trailing 2008 levels, U.S. freight carload traffic during the week ended Feb. 6 rose 1.4% compared with the same week in 2009, the Association of American Railroads reported. That still left traffic down 14.7% from the comparable week in 2008.
U.S. intermodal traffic showed similar relative strength, up 5.1% from the same week a year ago but still down 10.7% from the comparable 2008 period.
Fourteen of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were up in comparison with the same week last year, led by a 50.8% rise in metals and products movements. Other increases included nonmetallic minerals, up 40.1%; farm products other than grain, up 32%; coke, up 25.7%; and motor vehicles and equipment, up 19.9%. Notable declines include crushed stone, sand, and gravel, down 12.7%, and pulp, paper, and allied products, down 10.3%.
Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Feb. 6 was an estimated 29.2 billion ton-miles, up 2.5% from 2009 levels but down 11.8% from 2008 figures.
Canadian railroads reported traffic volume up 9.3% from last year, with intermodal up 2.4 %. Mexico’s two major railroads reported carload traffic was up 11.4 % compared with 2008, while intermodal notched a 19.5% gain
Combined North American rail volume for the first 5 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 3.2% from the comparable 2009 period, while intermodal also rose, 3.8%, compared with the same period.
Construction of a rail freight spur in Riverhead, N.Y., could begin this March, indicative of a slow but steady revival in rail freight activity on Long Island, often associated only with heavy passenger rail activity courtesy of the Long Island Rail Road.
Riverhead's town board has awarded a $3.49 million contract to Railroad Construction Co., of Paterson, N.J., to activate a rail spur off LIRR’s Ronkonkoma Branch, once used by Northrop Grumman Corp. The project is being paid largely through federal stimulus funding.
Freight service will be provided by New York & Atlantic Railway, which provides freight service on LIRR’s rail network. New York & Atlantic is owned by Anacostia & Pacific Co., Inc., based in Chicago.
Harsco Corp. Friday said its Harsco Rail unit has been awarded a new $6 million order from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for production of Utility Track Vehicle (UTV) prime movers.
Deliveries will begin next January and continue into the second quarter of 2011. The all-purpose UTVs will be used to power work trains for a broad range of railway maintenance-of-way requirements, including snow removal, repair and replacement of rail, and the supply of power for hydraulic and pneumatic tools.
The units will be built at Harsco Rail's modern railway track maintenance engineering and production facilities in Columbia, S.C.
The first of the four double-ended PCC streetcars operated by San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) has left the city for rehabiliation work by Brookville Equipment Co. at the company’s facility, located in Brookville, Pa.
Car No. 1008 is the third of 16 PCCs covered by a MUNI contract with the company. But the four double-end cars to be rehabilitated are considered especially useful because of their large capacity, and because their ability to operate from either end makes them essential for initial operation of the long-planned E-Embarcadero line between Mission Bay and Fisherman's Wharf, which lacks a turning facility for single-end cars at its south end.
Brookville is scheduled to complete upgrading all 16 cars by the end of 2011.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) late
Wednesday reported U.S. carloads for the month of January were down 0.7% at
1,056,684 carloads, compared with the same month last year, and down 17.7%
compared with 2008.
January’s intermodal traffic was up 2.5% to
803,275 units compared with January 2009, but still down 11.2% compared with
the same month in 2008.
Time Indicators report, available at www.aar.org, comprises monthly rail
traffic data framed with other key economic indicators to show how freight rail
is tied to the broader U.S. economy.
Thirteen of the 19 commodity categories tracked
by AAR saw year-over-year gains from January 2009, with nonmetallic minerals
seeing the highest gain, up 65.9%. The motor vehicles and parts category
also saw a significant monthly boost, up 65.7% compared with January last year.
However all commodity categories, with the exception of grain mill
products, were down in January when compared with the same month in 2008.
For the first time, AAR also is providing
seasonally adjusted U.S. rail traffic in the Rail Time Indicators report, using January 1988- December 2009
as the basis for the seasonal adjustment. Seasonally adjusted carloads in
January were up 2.6 percent from December 2009, and were the highest of any
month in the past 11 months.
BNSF Thursday said its shareholders had voted overwhelmingly in favor of the company's acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Preliminary results show that approximately 70% of BNSF issued and outstanding shares not owned by Berkshire or its affiliates were voted in favor of the transaction, solidly above the 66-2/3% required.
“Tomorrow begins the first century of ownership of BNSF by Berkshire Hathaway. I’m looking forward to every day of it as our railroad does its part to ensure the future prosperity of the country,” said Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.
Added BNSFChairman, President, and CEO Matt Rose, “We are at an important milestone in our 160-year history. . . . This is a vote of confidence in BNSF and the future of freight rail, and it demonstrates how well our business model is aligned with our new parent company. By providing cost-effective and energy-efficient transportation that also benefits the environment, we are moving the goods that are crucial to consumers and our economy as our nation powers its way out of the recession.”
Chicago Transit Authority’s Board of Directors Wednesday approved issuing up to $550 million in revenue bonds to complete its planned purchase of 406 cars from Bombardier Transportation, with an option to acquire an additional 300 cars if funds become available.
The new cars, ordered in part to replace the existing fleetthat in some cases dates back to 1969, will be equipped with security camerason board, officials said, as well as electronic maps and destination signs. Seatsalso will be both stain- and bacteria-resistant.
CTA has been testing 10 prototype train cars on the system since last year.Officials system since last year. Transit officials want to continue evaluatingthe equipment, spanning all four seasond, before finalizing the order. A decisionis expected by the fall.
More than three-fourths of the Hawaii House of
Representatives has signed a pro-rail letter addressed to Gov. Linda Lingle,
urging her to review and accept a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the
proposed $5.5 billion Honolulu urban rail transit project.
The FEIS has yet to be released by the Federal Transit
Administration, but supporters note the project is the only one in the state
that is “shovel ready,” and fear any delay could jeopardize federal funding.
For her part, Gov. Lingle has questioned the cost of the
project, and has also questioned the preference for an elevated urban transit
system, as have critics of the plan, including pro-rail forces arguing that
light rail transit would be a more desirable and cost-efficient option.
Still struggling to launch its first rail service after
months of delays, Austin, Tex., nonetheless is also weighing a commitment to
light rail transit or streetcar services, including the building of a rail
bridge over Lady Bird Lake.
City Transportation Director Robert Spillar said the bridge
could be built farther east or west, and not necessarily over the lake. Austin and
its consulting engineers are settling on a preferred route and are scheduled to
unveil it Feb. 25 to the City Council. Spillar says the upcoming map will not
specify a route across Lady Bird Lake, instead leaving as possibilities
existing bridges at Congress Avenue or South First Street or a new bridge.