Job creation, economic development, and environmental improvements rated equally high among participants Wednesday of “Putting America Back on the Fast Track: The Case for High-Speed Rail,” a webinar sponsored by Siemens Mobility and presented by Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
Noting the participant input, Railway Age Editor William C. Vantuono, moderator of the session, said 74% of those responding to a question on the highest HSR priority listed “all of the above” as their answer. Among the remainder, 8% cited job creation as HSR’s highest priority; 11% selected economic development; and 7% environmental benefit.
Consensus was evident on several other HSR factors as well among the three panelists: Buddy Dyer, mayor of Orlando, Fla., and a leading proponent of Florida’s Orlando-Tampa HSR project; Amtrak Assistant Vice President of Policy and Development Drew Galloway; and Parsons Brinckerhoff Assistant Vice President of Planning and Special Projects Peter Sklannik, Jr.
Among other points, the three noted the value of integrating HSR with other regional/commuter rail and light rail alternatives, along with other modes.
Amtrak’s Galloway noted such successful implementation on the Northeast Corridor, while Mayor Dyer pointed to the support of and concurrent development in HSR and regional rail (SunRail) in the Orlando metropolitan area.
PB’s Sklannik stressed the “feeder/distributor network” a mix of rail modes could offer to deliver “a true multimodal effect”—and a maximizing of investment flow that could “help reinvigorate local economies.” That assertion in effect countered HSR critics who assert that the mode will have little beneficial economic impact.
Each of the three panelists also advanced specific points of his own. For PB’s Sklannik, public/private partnerships are likely a critical formula for most, if not all, U.S. high speed rail development to come. For Orlando Mayor Dyer, HSR funds must be specified and quantified in any renewal by Congress of a Surface Transportation Act—HSR has been omitted from previous measures.
Amtrak’s Galloway, responding to a question from Railway Age's Vantuono (pictured at right), stressed that “higher-speed rail” (HrSR) must be a part of the U.S. mix to adjust not only to fiscal realities but to varying market sizes and city-pair distances, pointing to ongoing work on Union Pacific’s route linking Chicago and St. Louis which will see 110 mph HrSR service.
Siemens has made available the webinar for viewing, which is accessible by scrolling to the top of this page, or the top of Railway Age’s home page, and pushing the “Register Now” button of the Siemens webcast alert there. Alternately, click here to access the webinar presentation.
CP gave this estimate Tuesday as it announced that the section of its main line east of Medicine Hat, Alta., which has been out since June 18, has now reopened. The southern line between Lethbridge, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask., was reopened earlier.
“During the 11-day outage CP utilized both secondary network routes and detour routes on other railways to minimize impacts todomestic and international supply chains,” said the railroad. “With the resumption of normal traffic routing CP will work closely with its customers and supply chain partners to reschedule and expedite shipments that may have been delayed by the temporary outage.”
Bombardier Transportation Wednesday presented the ceremonial keys to the chief executive officer of London Gatwick Airport, signifying completion of the upgrade project for the inter-terminal transit system, which will commence passenger services Thursday. Bombardier’s upgrade work included the supply of its INNOVIA APM 100 automated people mover system, including six APM vehicles and all of the electrical and mechanical equipment for the 1.2-kilometer (0-75-mile) dual-lane system.
Bombardier’s Pittsburgh facility designed and supplied the new driverless vehicles, automatic train control, communications and power distribution system, and station platform doors, as well as project management, systems engineering and integration, and test and commissioning.
The INNOVIA APM 100 vehicles have replaced the Airport’s original fleet and will operate on the existing elevated guideway that connects the North and South terminals. Bombardier also supplied the previous inter-terminal transit system in 1987.
Serge Van Themsche, vice president, EMEA, of Bombardier Transportation Systems Division, said, “We are delighted to present our Gatwick Airport customer with the keys to their new transit system. Our proven INNOVIA APM 100 systems consistently surpass availability levels of 99% in airports all over the world. We are confident that this new inter-terminal transit system will fully satisfy the demanding requirements of Gatwick Airport and we look forward to supporting the Airport to sustain and enhance world class operations throughout the life of the renewed system.”
Bombardier says it has supplied its INNOVIA automated people mover technology to all three of London’s international airports: Gatwick, Heathrow, and Stansted.
Washington, D.C.’s City Council Tuesday unanimously passed legislation that would revamp restrictions on overhead wires, enacted to preserve urban vistas, that have hindered restoration of streetcar service infederal historic areas.
The “emergency legislation” would allow construction plans to proceed for a streetcar line along Benning Road and H Street, in the city’s Northeast quadrant, and include overhead catenary. The legislation also creates a “public process” for determining whether overhead wires are acceptable on other parts of the planned system.
The bill did reinstate s a ban at the local level on the wires in historic neighborhoods, including Georgetown, and tourist areas, following intense pressure by some environmental and historic groups. The chairwoman of the National Capital Planning Commission has requested the Federal Transit Administration to withhold federal funds for the streetcar system until “I am able to communicate with you regarding a successful resolution of the issues” surrounding the 19th-century laws banning overhead wire.
The move is considered an interim measure until a permanent revision can be considered, possibly within two weeks. The current interm measure requires the mayor to periodically review whether segments powered by wires could be converted to battery or other alternative power, and report to the council.
Streetcar advocates (both local and national) say that while battery-powered options should be considered, and the technology is improving, total reliance on such an option would drive up capital costs and, possibly, squash any momentum to re-establishing streetcars anywhere in the city.
The vote “brings local control and accountability to the District as it continues the development of the streetcar transportation system to better connect neighborhoods and support local economic development," said Councilman Tom Wells, part of the Committee on Public Works & Transportation, in a statement.
Efforts proceed to assure continued service on Huron Central Railway along Lake Huron’s northern shores, but some sticking points remain, according to Bill Therriault, chair of the multi-modal steering committee for the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Therriault told a City Council that a critical component of the plan to save the rail line owned by Canadian Pacific, and leased to Huron Central, was government funding from city, provincial, and federal sources. Ontario and the federal government have pledged C$30 million of the C$33 million (US$31 million) deemed necessary, mostly for capital infrastructure upgrades. The line links Sault Ste. Marie with Sudbury, Ontario, over roughly 190 miles of right-of-way.
The short line has continued to operate under an interim agreement signed on June 17, which provided C$16 million to cover operating costs, but that agreement terminates August 14. If a subsequent agreement has not been reached by that deadline, Huron Central has said, it will abandon the line. CP has said it will not continue to maintain it unless another operator can be found.
Huron Central is a subsidiary of Greenwich, Conn.-based Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.
Kansas City Southern’s Board of Directors has elected Michael R. Haverty (left), current chairman and chief executive officer of the Class I railroad, to executive chairman, effective Aug. 1. As well, David L. Starling, current KCS president and chief operating officer, will become president and CEO, also effective August 1.
KCS said Haverty will continue to concentrate on the strategic direction of the company and oversee long-term business decisions. Starling will report to Haverty and focus on execution of the company’s long-range plan, with responsibility for oversight and management of all facets of the company’s operations, as well as those of its subsidiaries and affiliates.
“When Dave Starling assumed the position of president and director general of PCRC (Panama Canal Railway Company, a KCS affiliate) in June 1999, he began a reporting relationship to me as co-chairman of PCRC,” said Haverty. “In July 2007, we engaged him as executive representative of KCS, in addition to his position at PCRC, so that he could work with ocean carrierscalling on the Port of Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico, as well as the Port of Balboa in Panama. This gave Dave exposure to our intermodal network in Mexico.”
Haverty added, “Dave came to Kansas City in July 2008 as president and chief operating officer of KCS with the thought in mind that he could succeed me as CEO. After two years, we are ready. David is a great team leader, and I truly believe we have the best management team, both north and south of the border, that we have had in the 15 years I have been associated with KCS.”
Starling’ career, which began in 1971, includes stints with the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad (the Frisco) and successor Burlington Northern, Mi-Jack Products, and American President Lines.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to become CEO of KCS at a time that many positive things are happening with the company,” said Starling in a statement. “The past two years have been challenging, but also fulfilling as we weathered a deeprecession and are coming out of it even stronger. The Kansas City Southern Railway Company and Kansas City Southern de Mexico are working closer together than ever and our cross-border business now accounts for a quarter of KCS’ total revenue.”
A final rule published Monday by the Federal Railroad Administration gives states with the worst grade crossing safety records one year from Aug. 27 to complete five-year action plans that address the problem.
The states—Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia,Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas—are the 10 with the highest number grade crossing accidents/incidents on average during 2006, 2007, and 2008.
“States can reasonably develop such plans within one year from the date this regulation goes into effect,” states the rule. “A five-year period is appropriate because many of the remedial actions that may be included in these plans (e.g., closures and grade separations) may take up to five years to implement. In addition, any identified State that has already developed an action plan in conjunction with a recommendation from DOT’s Office of Inspector General must ensure compliance with this final rule and must resubmit the plan as required.”
Melbourne, Australia-based Aconex said Tuesday it has been selected by Denver’s Regional Tranportation District to provide online support services for RTD’s $6 billion FasTracks transit expansion program. Aconex will be used to facilitate the information and records management needs for design, construction, testing, and startup of the FasTracks project.
Aconex will provide RTD and its project partners with a single, web-based point of contact, communication, and collaboration forrecords management for the FasTracks project, allowing stakeholders to access information from any location at any time in a secure, real-time environment. The Aconex platform offers quick implementation and will minimize RTD’s in-house resource requirements for implementation, maintenance, training, and end-user support, the company said.
The FasTracks program includes 122 miles of regional rail and light rail and the redevelopment of Denver Union Station, among other infrastructure additions.
“The Aconex online collaboration platform eliminates the tremendous inefficiencies that have always sat at the heart of large-scale construction projects,” said Aconex Vice President Dexter Bachelder. “With Aconex, agencies like RTD Denver can build out new public infrastructure in the most efficient, transparent way possible, saving taxpayer dollars while shortening total construction time.”
“Our constant goal in the implementation of the FasTracks program is to maximize the value of every dollar spent,” said Lisa Alvarado, RTD-FasTracks document control manager. “An online collaboration platform should save the program significant time and resources, helping us to reach our milestones faster and more efficiently, hopefully providing better risk management and the highest levels of build quality and program transparency.”
Portec Rail Products, Inc. said late Monday that, as a result of a court order June 24, the company and L.B. Foster Co. “are no longer prohibited by the Court from completing the tender offer and merger.
“Portec and L.B. Foster intend to continue to pursue the completion of the tender offer and related merger, which remain subject to certain closing conditions, including the tender of 65% of the outstanding shares of Portec common stock and regulatory approval,” Portec said.
The decision by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pa., supersedes its issuing a preliminary injunction on April 21, enjoining the completion of the tender offer by L.B. Foster Co. for all of the outstanding shares of Portec common stock and the related merger of Portec into L.B. Foster.
The economic downturn brought a great deal of hardship to carriers across the supply chain. Many shippers took the opportunity to re-bid their trucking contracts out of cycle, placing even more pressure on companies in the trucking sector.