The St. Paul, Minn., City Council Wednesday approved the proposed $914 million, 11-mile Central Corridor light rail line linking downtown St. Paul with Minneapolis and the existing Hiawatha Line LRT. The approval makes it more likely that the project will remain on schedule and also receive federal funding.
President Obama late Wednesday, March 18, nominated Joe Szabo to head the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Szabo is the Illinois state legislative director of the United Transportation Union (UTU).
Szabo is a fifth-generation railroader. He hired out with the Illinois Central (now part of CN) in 1976, where he worked as a yard switchman, road trainman, and commuter passenger conductor. In 1987, he went to Chicago Metra when IC sold its rail commuter division. In 1984, Szabo was elected secretary/treasurer of UTU Local 1290, progressing to delegate and legislative representative. In 1992, he was elected vice chairperson of the Illinois State Legislative Board, and in 1996 elected state legislative director. He also has been serving as a vice president of the Illinois AFL-CIO.
If confirmed, Szabo, age 51, will go to the FRA from a labor union that has unresolved bargaining issues with the railroads. UTU International President Mike Futhey said on Feb. 9: "Our lobbying power before a labor-friendly, Democrat-controlled Congress and White House may be our most effective tool to assure employees are treated equitably at the bargaining table."
Futhey said the railroads "have renewed their push to eliminate the craft of conductor and operate trains with one-person crews" and have also balked at union requests on on entry-pay levels.
Ontario is providing a C$12.8 million (US$10 million) grant to support a five-year investment by Thales Rail Signalling Solutions worth C$85 million (US$67 million) to improve the province’s rail transit signaling technology. Thales will use the provincial grant to invest in “green” researchand development programs to create signals allowing for tighter equipment headways and reduced energy consumption, thereby increasing passenger capacity.
The provincial grant comes from Ontario’s C$1.15 billion Next Generation of Jobs Fund, a partnership with businesses designed to advance the provincial economy. Thales is working on the Urban Rail Signalling and Control market, estimated to be worth US$6 billion.
“The grant by the Ontario government means almost C$100million more being invested in our economy in one fell swoop,” said Ontario Minister of Economic Development Michael Bryant in a statement. “The world is looking for the next generation of green technology and products. We want to ensure Ontario is a leader in greenhouse gas reductions, energy efficiency, and the green economy.”
Paris-based Thales Rail Signalling Solutions Inc. is a subsidiary of Thales Group, with a divisional center located in Toronto.
U.S. Class I railroads employed 159,511 workers in mid-January 2009, 2.11% fewer than in mid-January 2008, the Surface Transportation Board reported in new statistics posted Wednesday.
The biggest decline was in the transportation (train and engine) category, where employment was down 6.95% to 63,187. The number of professional and administrative workers declined 0.35% to 13,753.
But the numbers improved in the four other categories, led by an 8.44% increase in transportation (other than train and engine) employment to 7,312. The number of maintenance of way and structures employees increased 1.47% to 34,449; maintenance of equipment and stores employment rose 0.86% to 30,689; and the number of executives, officials, and staff assistants was up 0.03% to 10,121.
Atlanta-based United Parcel Service, Inc. has recognized Kansas City Southern Railway Co. with an award for providing consistent, reliable service and achieving a perfect peak season for 2008. In the fourth quarter, KCSR ran trains for UPS without a service failure."Service performance of this caliber is only possible with the cooperation and commitment of the entire KCSR team," said Scott Arvidson, KCSR executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a statement. "This peak-season performance demonstrates KCSR's ability to provide consistent and reliable service across its network. On behalf of the entire KCSR team, I'd like to thank UPS for their business and this recognition."
Utah Transit Authority says its will begin installing a state-of-the-art bridge foundation made of 40-foot Geofoam blocks March 19, as part of its West Valley Light Rail line construction project. An inaugural ceremony will mark use of the Geofoam blocks on the first of four bridges that are included in the project.
UTA says the Geofoam blocks fit together “like Lincoln logs”; the material, a lightweight fill and ground stabilizer, will be placed under the concrete portion of the bridge(s) and light rail track.
The authority says the use of Geofoam, a product of Denver-based ACH Foam Technologies, instead of other fill material “could save up to three years of construction time waiting for the material to settle. This saves the costs involved in extending the project timeline.”
The West Valley line, one of UTA’s several LRT extension projects will extend light rail service from the existing Sandy/Salt Lake TRAX line, adding five miles and four new station stops at an estimated cost of about $290 million. The extension is expected to draw 9,000 additional riders by 2025.
On St. Patrick’s Day, when many people are sporting the color green, CSX touted “green” by unveiling its first low-emission, fuel-efficient switcher locomotives deployed in Illinois.
Pasadena, Calif.-based Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., has been awarded design framework contracts by Crossrail Ltd. (CRL) for tunnels, shafts, and stations associated with a new rail line that will be built across London at an estimated cost of 15.5 billion pounds sterling ($21.7 billion).
Jacobs' work will include the detailed design, and management of the design, for CRL during the construction phase. Within the tunnel, shaft, and station categories, Jacobs will have the further opportunity to compete for packages of design.
Scheduled to open in 2017, Crossrail will operate over a route extending from Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport in the West through the capital to Essex and Kent in the East. Its high-frequency mainline-size trains will each have a capacity of 1,500 passengers.
The Surface Transportation Board on March 17 announced that Vice Chairman Francis P. Mulvey has been named Acting Chairman of the agency by President Obama, succeeding former Chairman Charles D. Nottingham. Nottingham plans to continue serving as a member of the board through the end of his term, which expires Dec. 31, 2010.
Nottingham plans to continue serving as a member of the board through the end of his term, which expires Dec. 31, 2010.
The announcement follows the Board's receipt of an official order signed by the President March 12 and delivered to STB.
Mulvey was sworn in as the eighth Member of the STB on June 2, 2004. He was nominated to the Board by President George W. Bush on November
17, 2003, for a four-year term expiring on December 31, 2007. Bush
nominated Mulvey to a second term ending December 31, 2012.
At the time of his appointment to
the STB, Mulvey was Staff Director for Railroad
Subcommittee and Staff Director for Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
for the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure. He was responsible for all railroad
legislative matters for the Ranking Democratic Member of the Committee
and served as advisor to the Ranking Member on overall transportation
Mulvey's other positions held include Deputy Assistant
Inspector General for Rail, Transit, and Special Programs, U.S. Dept.
of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General; Assistant Director
for Social Security and Pension Issues, U.S. General Accounting Office;
Assistant Director for Competition, Economic, and Regulatory Analyses
in the Transportation Issues Area, U.S. General Accounting Office;
Director of Economic Research for the NY State Legislative Commission
on Solid Waste Management; Programs Manager, National Academy of
Sciences, Transportation Research Board; and Vice President for
Research, American Bus Association. He
has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at the R.H. Smith School of
Business and Public Administration, Univ. of Maryland. He has also
taught economics and statistics at Northeastern University, Wheaton
College, and Bowling Green State University. Mulvey holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Washington State
University (1974); a B.S. in Economics from New York University (1966);
and an M.A. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley