Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc. says it has been honored with the 2009 Minnesota Governor's International Trade Award. Hamel, Minn.-based Loram was one of seven companies recognized for developing and continuing to grow a significant part of their business in foreign markets, for increasing or maintaining jobs in Minnesota that support international sales, and for developing novel approaches for competing globally.
A luncheon honoring the award winners was held last Friday at the IDS Center in Minneapolis. Loram representatives in attendance included: President and CEO Phil Homan; Director of Business Development Tom Smith; Chief Engineer in OEM Services Ken Range; Manager of International Operations Andrew Hense; Manager of Production Rail Grinding Luke Olson; International Contract Manager Jeanne Fondell; International Services Coordinator Kaizen Yang; Chief Engineer in OEM Services Roger Luedke, and also Andrew Tompkins, Geoff Michel, and Richard Kopka.
"Minnesota companies sold a record $17.3 billion in manufactured exports last year," said Tony Lorusso, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. Loram's international sales grew from 24% of revenue in 2006 to 31% of revenue in 2008. Loram has customers in more than 30 countries.
U.S. Class I railroad employment declined 6.27%, to 154,263, in the year ended in mid-April 2009, according to the Surface Transportation Board. The biggest job losses continued to be among train operating crews.
In the category of transportation (train and engine), employment dropped 14.22% to 58,806. There was a 5.57% increase, to 6,992, in the transportation (other than train and engine) group, and a seasonal increase in maintenance-of-way employment, which edged up 0.23% to 35,377.
All other job categories showed declines: executives, officials, and staff assistants, down 0.32% to 10,041; professional and administrative, down 1.79% to 13,432; and maintenance of equipment and stores, down 2.43% to 29,615.
Ansaldo STS USA Friday announced it has been awarded a $13 million subcontract agreement with Pittsburgh-based Wellington Power Corp. for the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s North Shore Connector project, an extension of the city’s LRT system 1.2 miles, which includes a tunnel underneath the Allegheny River.
The contract involves the design and implementation of a system interlocking and wayside signal system for the new relay rooms at Allegheny Station and North Side Station, and modifications in the existing Gateway Station relay room and the Wood Street Station interlocking relay room.
Ansaldo STS USA said it also will deliver a communications subsystem that includes fiber optic transmission, variable message signage, digital video surveillance, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). It will design modifications for the existing Authority Operations Control Center (OCC) to support the added facilities and equipment.
“We are proud to partner with Wellington Power on this local effort,” said Dr. Alan E. Calegari, president and CEO of Ansaldo STS USA. “We have been involved in the initial development and operation of the OCC contract, and the Stage I and II contracts, and we will continue to support Allegheny County Transit Authority’s commitment to safety for their passengers, employees, and community.”
The $13 billion in federal stimulus money over a five-year period to advance U.S. high speed rail should be focused on one project to best demonstrate HSR’s value, according to BNSF CEO Matthew K. Rose, addressing the Austin (Tex.) Economic Club Thursday.
Detroit’s Department of Transportation and private-sector interests in the Motor City have reached agreement on a $125 million, 3.4-mile lightrail line planned for Woodward Avenue, known at M1 Rail.
The plan adopted will advance curb-side passenger access, a marked difference from DDOT’s proposed $371 million “Detroit Transit Options forGrowth,” which envisioned light rail occupying the center of the street. ButM1 Rail CEO Matt Cullen emphasized, “This is in no way competition,” while citing the accord between the parties.
M1-Rail acquired state legislative approvals and stateoperational funding mechanisms last January, as legislators were informed ofthe $125 million in financial support from private industry supporters andother backers. That support includes roughly $30 million in private donations and station sponsorships, $9 million from Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority, and $35 million from the Kresge Foundation.
Denver-based Xcel Energy, a U.S alternate energy company, wants to install solar panels along St. Paul’s planned Central Corridor light rail line to demonstrate solar energy’s usefulness to both the rail mode and the surrounding community,
Xcel CEO Richard Kelly made the company’s concept public while addressing an annual shareholders meeting Wednesday in St. Paul’s Brooklyn Center. "You'll see it; we'll be bringing it up here pretty soon," Kelly said.
For the Central Corridor, Xcel's concept is to mount solar panels on catenary poles along a portion of the University Avenue route, which would serve as charging stations for plug-in electric hybrid vehicles parked onthe street, according to David Sparby, president of Xcel's Northern States Power Co. Sparby said the concept could be applied to other existing and planned LRT systems in North America.
Xcel’s current role as a solar energy provider is limited to Colorado, and the company has more experience in providing wind-powered energy, including within Minnesota.
The 11-mile Central Corridor light rail line will link downtown St. Paul with downtown Minneapolis, joining the existing Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis near Downtown East/Metrodome Station.
New York MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger Thursday said Long Island Rail Road President Helena E. Williams will serve as MTA’s interim executive director and chief executive officer, pending MTA board approval at its regularly scheduled meeting May 27. After that, Williams' appointment will remain in effect until a new chairman and CEO is nominated by Gov. David Paterson and confirmed by the state Senate.
During the interim period, Williams will retain her title and responsibilities as president of the LIRR, the largest U.S. regional (“commuter”) railroad in terms of ridership.
"This is a time of transition at the MTA, but it is critical that we continue to serve our customers without missing a beat,"said Hemmerdinger in a statement. "Helena Williams is doing a terrific job at the Long Island Rail Road and will be an excellent steward for the entire transit system until a new chairman and CEO is appointed."
Said Williams, "I am honored to be asked to step in temporarily--pending approval of the MTA Board-- to serve in this position while continuing my duties as president of the LIRR. As we all know, the subway, bus, bridge, tunnel, and commuter rail systems are the lifeblood of our city and of the entire New York metropolitan region. I've spent much of my career at the MTA, so this will be an exciting challenge."
The Surface Transportation Board has scheduled a public hearing for July 8 at its headquarters in Washington, D. C., "to examine the impact, effectiveness, and future of rail banking" under the National Trails System Act. (www.stb.dot.gov)
"In brief, the Trails Act and the board's implementing regulations give interested parties the opportunity to negotiate voluntary agreements to use for recreational trails railroad rights-of-way that otherwise would be abandoned," the STB said in a notice served Thursday. "The trail sponsor must agree to assume responsibility for managing the trail, for paying property taxes on the right-of-way, and for any liability inconnection with trail use. In turn, the rail carrier may salvage its track and discontinue service on the line. If the parties reach a Trails Act agreement, the right-of-way can be used as a trail until (if ever) a rail carrier decides to restore service on the line."
Since the program began 25 years ago, the STB says it has issued "numerous" decisions authorizing interim rail use and has also authorized nine rail-banked lines for the restoration of rail service.
The hearing now scheduled on the program's future arises out of "an increasing number of questions brought to the board informally."
Formally, the board has pending a proposal involving R. J. Corman Railroad Co./Pennsylvania Lines Inc. in Clearfield County ,Pa., to construct and operate over 10 miles of a previously abandoned right-of-way and reactivate a 9.3-mile portion of a connecting rail-banked line. STB has been informally asked "who would be responsible for bearing the cost of rebuilding a railroad bridge removed during interim trail use if active rail service should ever be restored."
This is one of the questions STB will tackle as it seeks to determine how successful rail-banking has been for both carriers and trail users.
Union Pacific and Progress Rail Services Thursday announced their intent to launch initial operation of an ultra clean diesel SD40-2 locomotive equipped for intermediate line haul service. The customer evaluation unit, equipped with state-of-the-art after-treatment, will begin operating between San Antonio and Fort Worth, Tex., late this month.
The companies said the Progress Rail PR30C-LoNOx locomotive has been re-powered with a single 3,005 horsepower, low-emission, Caterpillarclean-diesel engine. It meets EPA’s Tier 2 standards and is retrofitted with an advanced emission control technology. That technology routes the exhaust through a diesel oxidation catalystprior to entering the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) chamber, where oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions are reduced by more than 90% from the original 1970s vintage engine.
“We are excited about the prospects of bringing more environmentally friendly locomotives into service while still meeting ouroperational needs,” said Bob Grimaila, Union Pacific senior assistant vice president, Safety and Environment. “We know there are challenges ahead as we evaluate performance under demanding rail operations, but we remain committed to support this project and commend our partners, Caterpillar and Progress Rail Services, for their collaborative efforts in developing this promising technology.”
Progress Rail Services CEO Billy Ainsworth said, “The use of after treatment to reach these levels of emissions is new territory for the rail industry and we are pleased to be the first with SCR for large mobile engine applications.”
He continued, “By leveraging the expertise of Caterpillar, an established leader in clean diesel technology, we are confident we can bring this cutting-edge technology to the railroad industry just as we have been providing it in other applications. Additional prototypes, all powered by Caterpillar model 3516, 3005 horsepower diesel engines, will be retrofitted and tested with this system, making them among the cleanest locomotives in America. The durability and performance of the unit will be closely monitored and evaluated over a six-month period to ensure safe and dependable operations.”
Calgary, the province of Alberta, and the Canadian federal government have agreed to supply C$270 million (US$235 million) to advance nine transit projects, including creating four-car light rail platforms and add a station on Calgary’s new west leg of its LRT system. Each of the three players will contribute C$90 million during the next two years.
Besides station platforms, other items to be funded include installation of electronic fare collection, transit signal priority projects, closed circuit television security, an advanced passenger information system, and LRT traction power upgrades. Improvements to existing Bus Rapid Transit park-and-ride lots also are in the plan.
Calgary’s west LRT station construction is expected to start in 2010. The city was the second North American municipality to launch modern LRT service, debuting May 25, 1981, following the three-year lead of Edmonton, Alberta, and beating San Diego’s launch of LRT service by two months. Today Calary Transit’s 28-mile C-Train system averages 297,500 rides per weekday, the second-highest in North America behind only Monterrey, Mexico.