U.S. carload freight traffic rose 14.7% during the week ended May 8, 2010, compared with the comparable week in 2009, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday, marking the 11th consecutive week of traffic increases. The rate was still 13.9% below the comparable week in 2008. U.S. intermodal traffic also rose, up 14.0% from last year but down 9.2% from 2008.
Total volume was estimated at 32.2 billion ton-miles, up 16.2% from last year but down 8.8% from 2008.
Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups were up from last year, led by a 99.7% jump in metals and a 70.2% increase in metallic ores. Loadings of motor vehicles and equipment were up 50.%; waste and scrap was up 31.6%; and lumber and wood products gained 23.4%. Only grain mill products declined, down 4.8%.
Canadian carload freight traffic rose 38% from last year, while intermodal advanced 9.9% from 2009. Mexican carload freight was up 37.9% from the same week last year, while intermodal rose a similar 36%.
Genesee & Wyoming (GWI) railroads racked up April volume of 72,023 carloads, an increase of 9,979 carloads, or 16.1%, compared with April 2009.
GWI said metals traffic grew by 3,557 carloads primarily due to increased steel shipments in the New York/Ohio/Pennsylvania and Southern regions.
Traffic in GWI's "Other" commodity group grew 2,595 carloads primarily due to increased overhead shipments in the NewYork/Ohio/Pennsylvania Region. Coal, coke & ores traffic was up 1,584 carloads. All other traffic increased by a net 2,243 carloads.
GWI owns and operates 62 short line and regional railroads in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands, with approximately 6,000 miles of owned and leased track and approximately 3,400 additional miles under track access arrangements.
The Toronto Transit Commission has exercised options to buy 186 subway cars—31 six-car trainsets—valued at approximately C$390 million (US$378 million) from Bombardier Transportation. The cars are scheduled to be delivered between 2012 and 2013.
The options are part of the “Toronto Rocket” contract signed in December 2006. A base order of 234 cars is under construction.
The heavily-traveled TTC subway system, which carried a record 471 million riders in 2009, is undergoing a major expansion. The C$2.6 billion extension of the Yonge-University Spadina from Downview to Vaughan, a 3.8-mile, six-station route, is expected to carry 80,000 riders daily when completed in 2015.
The Cincinnati City Council, in a 6-2 vote Wednesday, approved a $64 million bond measure to generate local funds for a $128 million streetcar project, following the recommendation made Monday by a finance committee to approve the plan.
Concerns over debt financing were allayed, to some degree, by a new arrangement to cover the debt with money from tax increment financing, proceeds from the sale of the Blue Ash airport, and use of city capital.
The streetcar route currently is planned to run from the Great American Ball Park north through the city to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, including a stop at the University of Cincinnati.
Those opposed to the project, defeated last year in a vote to reject the streetcar project, still hope to block the plan. Some speculate that former Mayor Tom Luken, an opponent, will mount a petition campaign to once again put the streetcar issue on the ballot this November.
A final public hearing takes place Thursday night on a proposed one-cent sales tax referendum before Hillsborough County (Fla.) commissioners decide whether to advance plans for light rail transit in Tampa. The sales tax, if approved by voters in November, would be used to fund LRT construction.
At issue is not just the referendum itself, butwhich of two routes initially to be funded. "For the moment, yes, we're looking at the red line, [University of South Florida] to Bruce B. Downs/Downtown, and then the portion of the blue line would take you into Westshore and just connect to the outside of [Tampa International Airport] by one mile," said David Armijo, a spokesman for Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART).
“I think the ridership numbers are what's going to drive it,” said Ray Chiaramonte, a member of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, who noted LRT access to and from the airport could aid ridership numbers.
HART is waiting on the results of a study to determine how to proceed. “Which is the best project that we can advance or do we link the two projects together,” said Armijo. “That's still under consideration.”
Supporters of the LRT proposal include Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and the Tampa Bay Partnership, a non-profit business advocacy group. Opponents include perennial anti-rail forces who, among other things, have routinely targeted the existing 2.3-mile, 12-station TECO streetcar line in downtown Tampa, serving the city’s waterfront, calling rail transit a “misuse” of transportation dollars.
Canadian National said Wednesday it has pioneered a modal shift protocol that will create new carbon offset project opportunities for British Columbia's transportation sector.
CN President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau said Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT), a Crown corporation and leading provider of offsets in British Columbia, has agreed to recognize the protocol for modal shift offset projects in the province. Theprotocal allows companies to generate carbon offsets by shifting freightshipments to rail from truck, following detailed, specific set of instructions on how to carry out an offset project.
Shippers that demonstrate lower emissions from using a modal shift and meet the British Columbia Emission Offsets Regulation can use the resulting offsets to generate revenue through the sale of the offsets to PCT. Emission reductions may also help reduce carbon taxes and/or help companies meet their emissions reduction goals.
Said Mongeau, “Freight transportation is an important part of the North American economy and a major producer of greenhouse gases (GHG). The modal shift protocol is a powerful tool for shippers seeking ways of reducing GHG emissions, and will simultaneously help to reduce heavy truck activity on highways. We hope other jurisdictions across North America will also adopt this innovative modal shift protocol as they develop new measures to combat climate change.”
According to the 2007 British Columbia Provincial Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, transportation accounts for 37% of provincial GHG emissions, the largest share by sector.
Railinc Corp. announced Wednesday that it has launched a Railinc TrainFaxTM website that now delivers current rail equipment information in a single report designed for equipment owners, lessees, investors, insurers, inspectors, and other professionals conducting asset-related research. A sample TrainFax report is available on the product website at www.railinc.com/trainfax.
“Railinc’s new TrainFax website greatly improves access to information about rail equipment by consolidating data into a standardized report,” said Rob Drew, Railinc product manager. “It scans more than two million rail equipment records and hundreds of thousands of health alerts each time it generates a report, saving researchers both time and money. TrainFax users can be confident that they have current and accurate data to inform their equipment ownership decisions.”
A complete Railinc TrainFax report includes equipment ownership information, inspection reports, maintenance alerts, transportation restrictions, and equipment characteristics such as weight, dimensions, features, and specifications. Reports are available for all rail equipment types, including locomotives.