Latest News Continued

In an apparent about-face, New York City’s Department of Transportation, long known for being averse to light rail and streetcar options and opportunities, seeks to choose a consultant this summer to studyrestoration of a streetcar route in the Red Hook waterfront area of Brooklyn. Red Hook, an old manufacturing and shipping district now enjoying a resurgence, is sparsely served by buses, but is generally acknowledged to be “underserved” by  rail transit; the nearest subway stop on the F line is more than a mile away.

NYCDOT’s study could also look at extending the proposed one-mile route another half-mile east, directly to New York City Transit’s massive transit hub at Borough Hall in Brooklyn. NYCDOT will fund the study through a $300,000 federal grant appropriated in 2005.

The route has been advocated by the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association, a citizens group, for at least a decade; BHRA’s president, Bob Diamond, has promoted the idea for an even longer period. Diamond says the streetcar project would cost up to $15 million. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), who supports the effort, says she has sought $10 million in additional federal funding for the project.

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Railway industry suppliers continue to test and deploy new systems, even in the face of the "Great Recession," according to a new survey conducted by the Railway Supply Institute (RSI) this spring.

"While Positive Train Control (PTC) garners most of the headlines, innovations in information technology, energy conservation, and refinements in equipment are steadily making rail operations more efficient and effective," RSI Executive Director Tom Simpson said. "We see progress in electronically-controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes, computerized camera inspection systems, fuel efficiency technologies, and better materials, coatings, monitoring devices, and improved valves and fittings for tank cars transporting hazardous and toxic materials."

Twenty-eight suppliers responded to the e-mail survey, identifying themselves as locomotive, freight car, or passenger car builders, component suppliers, or as working in communications and signaling or maintenance-of-way (some have multi-discipline research and development efforts). The survey sought details on research and development budgets and supplier interaction with their railroad customers.

Nearly half of the respondents said that more than half of their research and development is driven directly by their customers' requests. Ten of the respondents are "big spenders" on R&D, laying out more than $1 million a year on new technologies. Five spend more than $5 million annually. Despite the recession and downturn in operations, only two respondents have reduced their research and development spending over the past five years, and 11 are increasing their investments.

"These results are extremely positive," said Bob Pokorski, Director of Engineering for Miner Enterprises and 2010 RSI chairman. "This survey was done in February and even then, in a down economy, with the downturn in car orders, rail suppliers are still optimistic about their future. It points to a healthy rail supply industry."

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Union Pacific’s employee records show Willie Sandoval to be a boilermaker in a locomotive shop in Fort Worth, Texas. UP Chairman, President and CEO Jim Young knows Sandoval to be also “a teacher, coach and mentor who consistently demonstrates outstanding safety practices and a willingness to share his knowledge with others.”

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America's railroads honored the industry's safety achievements and celebrated railroads with the best employee safety records at the annual E.H. Harriman Awards. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), 2009 was the safest year ever for railroads, with significant milestones achieved across the board in reduced train accidents, employee casualties and grade crossing collisions.

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U.S TransportationSecretary Ray LaHood announced proposed new rules May 17 that he said wouldprohibit the use of cell phones or other   electronic device by railroad operating employees  "if it interferes with thatemployee's or another employee's performance of safety-related duties."

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Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman had good news for his shareholders, at least for the short-term, at their annual meeting in Williamsburg, Va., last week.

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The Canadian UrbanTransit Association recognizes Bombardier's achievement for 60-day streetcardemonstration project in Vancouver, Canada. At the CUTA 2010 Annual Conferenceheld in Ottawa, Canada, Bombardier Transportation received an award for theOlympic Line in the category "Exceptional Performance and OutstandingAchievement" under CUTA's National Transit Corporate Recognition Award Program.

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Cattron Group International™, a lglobal manufacturer of remote control products and professional services for the industrial, mining, commercial mobile and railroad markets, has contracted with TTechTrain SA de CV to represent the company in Mexico. They will handle all brands for the Industrial and Rail markets. Andres Duncan and Susana Duncan, along with their colleagues, have a combined experience of 86 years providing service to the railroad industry in the Americas.


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Global Railway Industries Ltd. reports that net earnings for this year’s first quarter improved to $89,000 compared to a $1.5 million net loss in the first quarter of 2009. Total revenue increased 27.3% to $18.7 million. Earnings per share improved to $0.01 compared to a loss of $0.10 in the 2009 quarter.

“Management is pleased to report Global's return to profitability during the first quarter of 2010, and the reduction of its bank debt by $1.5 million,” said Terry McManaman, chairman, president, and CEO of Global. “Global's first-quarter earnings were in line with management's expectations and can be attributed to improved profitability of the VIA Rail Canada business, as well as operational efficiencies, cost cutting initiatives, and scale economies.”

Fausto Levy, president of CAD Railway Industries Ltd., commented, “The VIA project learning curve is now essentially behind us and CADRI is showing positive margins on the locomotives currently in production. Another positive signal for CADRI is that the railroad industry may have reached the bottom in the downward cycle of railcar loadings. We believe some railroads will return stored locomotives and railcars back into revenue service by the end of the current year which could further benefit CADRI's locomotive and railcar maintenance business.”

Levy said that as of at March 31, 2010, CADRI had successfully delivered a total of 12 locomotives to VIA in accordance with the agreed delivery schedule, including four delivered during the first quarter of 2010. “Additionally, CADRI continues to bid on contracts forthe overhaul of diesel engines for mid-size to large-size organizations,” said Levy.“Management believes that CADRI is well positioned to win additional contracts during 2010 as well as bolster its locomotive and components businesses.”

“Bach-Simpson Corporation (“Bach”) increased first-quarter 2010 sales by over 15% compared to the same prior year period, although gross margin was softened by the impact of a strengthening Canadian dollar, which approached parity with the U.S. dollar, and by the temporary delay of new, higher margin development projects,” said McManaman. “Bach's backlog as at March 31, 2010 was more than $8.5 million, still robust, although down from $9.7 million at December 31, 2009.”

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Keolis Rail Services America is nearly done hiring about 45 train engineers and conductors to operate Virginia Railway Express trains, which the company will take over from Amtrak beginning June 28. At least eight of those hired reportedly come from New Jersey Transit Corp., which has put some of its operating personnel on furlough due to budget cuts.

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Overall, Keolis has hired 15 of the needed 18 train engineers, and 15 of the 27 needed train conductors, said Steve Townsend, Keolis America executive vice president. “I think probably in the next week, week and a half, we’ll have filled most of the positions, if not all,” Townsend said.

Townsend said Keolis has a five-year contract to run VRE trains, with two five-year renewal options. All Keolis engineers and conductors will complete the required training in the VRE service area and in Union Station, Washington, D.C., by June 28.

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