Ontario's provincial government has committed C$600 million (US$568 million) toward Ottawa's C$2.1 billion (US$2.0 billion) transit expansion project, most likely involving light rail transit. The C$2.1 billion is part of a C$6.6 billion transit plan meant to expand the Canadian capital’s transit reach through the next 25 years, including more expansive rail options to and from downtown.
"This is the single largest transit infrastructure investment Ontario has made in Ottawa's history," Premier Dalton McGuinty said at a news conference Friday. "It will help get people out of their cars and into clean, efficient public transit. I am confident that the city will be prudent as they decide what is best for Ottawa."
Ontario’s participation had been considered problematic, as it balked over a plan to build a rail line from Tunney's Pasture to Blair Road, including a 3.2-kilometer (2-mile) tunnel under downtown, and extend Transitway bus service into more suburbs. Ottawa now will seek federal funds to match those of the provincial government.
For their part, federal officials have announced funding for a feasibility study of commuter rail service running from Ottawa to Pontiac and Renfrew. Member of Parliament Lawrence Cannon, who represents Pontiac and also serves as federal Foreign Affairs minister, said the federal portion of the C$272,000 study will be C$136,000.
Ansaldo STS USA says it has been awarded an $11.9 million subcontract agreement with Mass Electric Construction Co. as a part of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) “Rehabilitation of Red Line MetroRail System—Dupont Circle to Silver Spring” project.
Ansaldo STS USA is responsible for upgrading the Automatic Train Control system, which includes replacing switches and signals and upgrading eight interlockings from mechanical relays to Microlok®II solid state controls. Ansaldo STS USA is also responsible for replacing the Emergency Trip Stations, Public Address system, and Closed Circuit TVs at stations with related communications design.
"This project complements our May 2009 contract award at WMATA’s Silver Spring location in that this work connects the two sections and employs similar technology,” said Mark Cirucci, vice president customer operations for Ansaldo STS USA. “We are proud to support WMATA’s commitment to quality systems and the safety of their passengers, employees, and community.”
The Association of American Railroads reported that total freight traffic remained down from 2008 levels for the week ending Dec. 12, 2009, though on the intermodal side there was a slight increase in container volume.
U.S. railroads originated 261,933 carloads during the latest week, down 10.2% from the corresponding week last year and down 18.5% from the same week in 2007.
Intermodal traffic added up to 204,950 trailers and containers, down 3% from a year ago and 14.3% from 2007. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume rose 3.6% and trailer volume dropped 24.5%. Compared with the same week in 2007, container volume fell 7.7% and trailer volume dropped 35.2%.
Twelve of the 19 carload commodity groups were down compared with the same week last year, but there were increases in grain mill products (16.1%), chemicals (14.8 %), metallic ores (14.7%) , motor vehicles and equipment (11.2%), grain (8.1%), waste and scrap metal (6 %), and nonmetallic minerals (2.2%). Declines ranged from 0.7% for farm products excluding grain to 24.9% for crushed stone, sand, and gravel.
Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Dec. 12 was estimated at 29.3 billion ton-miles, down 9.8% from the same week last year and 13.3% from 2007.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 66,894 cars for the week, up 1.9% from last year, and 38,441 trailers or containers, down 7.4%. Mexico’s two major railroads reported originated volume of 12,583 cars, up 2% from the same week last year, and 6,768 trailers or containers, up 13.6%.
Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen on Thursday ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the BNSF Railway that gives them wage increases totaling 11% over the five-year life of the contract.
More than 3,500 engineers voted, with 75% favoring the agreement. It will take effect Jan. 1, 2010, and runs through Dec. 31, 2014.
The contract settles wage and work rule matters, with health and welfare issues to be addressed in industry-wide negotiations.
In addition to pay increases, BLET engineers will also receive an increased 401(k) contribution from the railroad. Those with 25 or more years of service will receive an extra week of vacation for a total of six weeks.
BLET National Vice President Steve Speagle, who helped negotiate the contract, said "the high percentage of those who voted in favor showed that the engineers recognize the value of the agreement in this economic climate."
RailComm has successfully commissioned a Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) system for the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s diesel multiple-unit (DMU) rail service in Austin, Tex. The Track Warrant Control portion of the system was launched just 32 days from the signed Notice to Proceed.
The railroad employment index reached its lowest point this year in November as total Class I employment declined to 147,047, down 1.29% from October and off 9.77% from November 2008.
The employment index, based on 1967 as 100, fell to 24.1. (Employment in November 1967 was 593,568.) The previous low this year was 24.5, in both October and November. The index in January 2009 was 26.2.
Comparisons with November 2008 showed declines in all six job categories: executives, officials, and staff assistants, -10.34%; professional and administrative, -1.58%; maintenance of way and structures, -6.34%; maintenance of equipment and stores, -7.42%; transportation (other than train and engine), -1.99%; and transportation (train and engine), -15.0%.
The last category, which supplies operating train crews, is particularly important since it is the single biggest group (numbering 56,447 in November) and had the largest percentage drop.
Bombardier Transportation and its joint-venture partners in China have won a contract to supply Shanghai Rail Transit Line 12 Development Co. Ltd. with 246 Bombardier MOVIA metro cars (41 six-car trains). Bombardier's share of the $291 million contract is around $138 million.
The contract was awarded to Changchun Bombardier Railway Vehicles Company, Ltd. (CBRC), together with a consortium for the propulsion system consisting of Bombardier Transportation Sweden and Changzhou Railcar Propulsion Engineering R&D Center (CPC).
The cars will be assembled in China at CBRC production facilities in Changchun. Propulsion equipment will be manufactured at the production site of Bombardier CPC Propulsion System Co. Ltd. in Changzhou and Bombardier production facilities in Vasteras, Sweden. Deliveries are scheduled to begin 28 months following contract award, with completion in 2014.
GE South African Technologies (GESAT), GE Transportation's entity in South Africa, said Friday it has been awarded a contract to supply 100 locomotives Transnet Freight Rail, South Africa's state-owned rail freight logistics utility, whose parent is Transnet Ltd.
GE said 10 of the locomotives will be manufactured in GE Transportation’s Erie, Pa., and Grove City, Pa., facilities. The remaining 90 will be manufactured locally at Transnet Rail Engineering’s site in South Africa with kits provided by GE Transportation.
“We are pleased that GE is helping drive South Africa towards a lead manufacturing economy by localizing the production of locomotives in South Africa. We look forward to sharing some of our global success with Transnet and thus jointly expanding our regional footprint,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, presidentand CEO of GE Transportation.
“GE’s extensive knowledge in localizing locomotive assembly can be witnessed in some of the world’s leading developing economies such as China, Brazil, and Kazakhstan," Simonelli said. "Each of our global manufacturing sites has been specifically customized in line with customer and country requirements and capabilities. We worked closely with Transnet Rail Engineering to develop a comprehensive localization plan that complements local strengths and transfers world-class skills and technology where applicable.”
GE said its model C30ACi, the first AC diesel electric locomotive to be introduced to sub-Saharan Africa, will have an engine that delivers 3,300 Gross HorsePower (GHP) using an electronic fuel-injection system that automatically supplies the exact amount of fuel needed for optimal engine efficiency. The locomotives will also feature GE’s AC propulsion technology and dynamic braking.
Addition of the new locomotives, which will be used to haul freight and coal, will decrease life-cycle costs, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce emissions, GE said.
Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger Thursday issued a statement commenting on the Senate Commerce Committee markup of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Bill.
Said Hamberger, "We appreciate the efforts of the Senate Commerce Committee, under the leadership of Chairman [Jay] Rockefellerand Senator [Kay Bailey] Hutchison and senior Committee members of both parties, to work with all freight stakeholders over the last several months in developing this legislation.”
Rockefeller (D. W.Va.) in years past has criticized the freight rail industry; Hutchison (R-Tex.) is ranking member of the committee.
"This bill would be the most significant rewrite of the railroad industry's regulatory system in the last three decades. Under the bill, Class I railroads would be required to open their privately owned and maintained rail networks and would face vastly expanded government involvement in railroad operations,” Hamberger said.
"We continue to have concerns about certain provisions in the bill, particularly the nature and scope of the antitrust provision that may be added at a later date, and we will remain engaged with the Commerce Committee, Congress, and the Administration, to craft final legislation that ensures railroads can continue to make the investments that sustain a healthy national rail network," he said.