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Sixty members of Congress have endorsed Norfolk Southern's Crescent Corridor "in recognition of the critical importance freight rail transportation offers shippers throughout the U.S.," the railroad said in a statement Tuesday.

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"Norfolk Southern's Crescent Corridor program comes at a critical time for our nation's economy, environment, and transportation infrastructure," said NS CEO Wick Moorman.  "The Crescent Corridor will stimulate job growth, economic development, and local tax revenues, while delivering substantial public benefits for communities and shippers.  We are grateful for the wide bipartisan support the Crescent Corridor is receiving on Capitol Hill."


--> Sixty members of Congress have endorsed Norfolk Southern's Crescent Corridor "in recognition of the critical importance freight rail transportation offers shippers throughout the U.S.," the railroad said in a statement Tuesday. ...

The American Public Transportation Association Tuesday said public transit users “can save on average $9,242 annually based on the January 11, 2010 national average gas price and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.” 

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APTA noted the computation factored in that “the average cost per gallon of gas was $1.79 which is nearly $1 less than the current price of gas at $2.75 per gallon. This increase in cost equates to an additional $600 in savings per year for transit commuters as compared to last year’s savings amount at this same time.” 

APTA said “The Transit Savings Report,” which it releases monthly, calculates the average annual and monthly savings for public transit users.  The report examines how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.
 
Transit riders can save on average $770 per month. The savings amount isbased on the cost of the national averages for parking and driving, as well as the January 11 national average gas price of $2.75 per gallon for self-serve regular gasoline as reported by AAA.

Taking public transportation provides a safe and affordable way for individuals and families to cut costa, APTA says. In addition, local public transit offers a travel option that has an immediate positive impact in reducing an individual’s overall carbon footprint while helping reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
 
The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $154.23, according to the 2009 Colliers International Parking Rate Study.  Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of$1,850.
 
APTA also ranked the top 20 cities with the highest transit ridership, based ontransit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass andfactoring in local gas prices for January 11, 2010 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate. 

 No.  City                  Monthly Savings                   Annual Savings  
  1    New York              $1,147                                       $13,765  

  2    Boston                  $1,030                                       $12,362  

  3    San Francisco        $1,013                                       $12,156  

  4    Chicago                   $946                                       $11,357  

  5    Seattle                    $932                                       $11,185  

  6    Philadelphia             $927                                       $11,121 

  7    Honolulu                  $887                                       $10,639  

  8    Los Angeles             $838                                        $10,052  

  9    San Diego                $824                                         $9,894  

  10  Minneapolis       $824 $ 9,884 

  11  Cleveland                $803                                          $9,639

  12  Portland                   $798                                         $9,581  

  13  Denver                     $795                                        $9,539  

  14  Baltimore                 $782                                         $9,383  

  15  Minneapolis              $752                                         $9,022  

  16  Washington, DC        $751                                         $9,015

  17  Dallas                      $730                                         $8,756  

  18  Atlanta                     $722                                        $8,658  

  19  Las Vegas                $716                                         $8,591  

  20  Pittsburgh                $680                                         $8,162  
                        



--> The American Public Transportation Association Tuesday said public transit users “can save on average $9,242 annually based on the January 11, 2010 national average gas price and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.”  ...

Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Tuesday it has been chosen to provide a major expansion of its Yard Automation System at Transnet's Ermelo Yard in South Africa. The automation system will be comprised of the existing DOC® (Domain Operations Controller) server-based central control system and 10 new associated outdoor-rated control panels.

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Per Transnetrequirements, the system operator is in charge of selecting the appropriate control mode based on desired operating conditions. Additionally, the system at Ermelo will utilize RailComm RADiANT™ data radios to communicate between the office system, the control panels, and a network of power switches. The power switches are controlled by the RailComm Universal Switch Controller, providing customers the ability to utilize any power switch machine on the market.

The RailCommYard Automation System increases yard safety and improves yard dwell times and switching productivity. The DOC® software-based control system is an advanced command, control, communications, and information (C3i) server-based platform that supports a wide variety of integrated solutions for indication, control, access, and distribution of critical operational data. 

--> Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Tuesday it has been chosen to provide a major expansion of its Yard Automation System at Transnet's Ermelo Yard in South Africa. The automation system will be comprised of the existing DOC® (Domain Operations Controller) ...

Electro-MotiveDiesel, Inc. has received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certification for emissions kits that enable overhauled diesel engines to meet the requirements of EPA rule 40 CFR Part 1033, which require reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions. 

emd-710-engine-12-jan-10.jpg“The new kits will allow locomotive operators of EMD Model 645 and 710 engines, both roots-blown and turbocharged, to comply with the mandated EPA emissions requirements when the engines are overhauled,” EMD said.

“EMD has invested extensively in engine development and proprietary technologies to meet worldwide exhaust emissions standards while increasing performance throughout the life of the engine. In fact, the new Part 1033 kits reduce lube oil consumption and maintain or improve fuel economy over EPA-defined locomotive switch and line-haul duty cycles. EMD has achieved emissions reductions by enhancing standard engine components. No new systems are necessary. No unproven retrofit technology is needed. And no new training is required to overhaul or maintain the engine.” 

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The emissions kits, now available from EMD, were developed in the same engineering facilities where new EMD locomotive engines are designed, built, and tested. “This OEM focus ensures the same performance, reliability, and durability for which EMD engines are known,” said EMD. “And since EMD holds the EPA certificatefor its engines and kits, emissions compliance and performance is covered by the OEM factory warranty.”

--> Electro-MotiveDiesel, Inc. has received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certification for emissions kits that enable overhauled diesel engines to meet the requirements of EPA rule 40 CFR Part 1033, which require reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOx) and p ...

In February, Amtrak will release a long-awaited detailed master long-range plan for replacing almost all of its aging, 1,400-plus-unit car and locomotive fleet. The plan, which will be released as part of a legislative and grant request to Congress, also includes renewal of some critical infrastructure, particularly in the Northeast Corridor, and preparations for going to higher speed rail in some corridors. 

joe-boardman.jpg“Amtrak enters 2010 with a strong sense of optimism, enthusiasm, and purpose,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman, who was recently given an “indefinite” contract extension by the Amtrak board of directors. Under a new Strategic Guidance program, “we have an aggressive plan to modernize, renew, and grow America’s passenger railroad.”

“It’s time to retire our aging fleet of cars and locomotives,” Boardman said, adding, “We’re looking at every source of funding, not just the federal government.” Amtrak’s equipment plan is expected to include “purchase of several hundred single-level and bi-level long-distance passenger railcars and more than a hundred locomotives.” Due for replacement are 412 Amfleet I, 122 Amfleet II, 122 Superliner I, 184 Superliner II, 50 Viewliner, 92 Horizon cars, as well as Heritage baggage and dining cars. Among the locomotives are 20 AEM7 d.c. electric locomotives (the remaining 29 have been rebuilt with a.c. propulsion), and the railroad’s F59PH, P42, P40, and P32DM fleets. Currently, an RFP is out for 125 single-level coaches/baggage-dorm cars/diners and 20 electric locomotives.

In late 2010, Amtrak will complete a program to upgrade the interior of all Acela Express trainsets, including leather seating, improved tray tables and ovehead luggage compartment doors, and better at-seat electrical outlets. The trainsets themselves, which have been in service for more than 10 years, eventually will be replaced with high speed equipment currently dubbed “Acela II.” These “next-generation” trainsets will be capable of speeds up to 180 mph, with infrastructure upgrades, Boardman said.

This year, Amtrak will undertake track and bridge construction projects, and safety and security enhancements funded in full, or in part, by $1.3 billion in ARRA (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) funds. Among these projects are: replacement of the 102-year old movable bridge over the Niantic River in Connecticut; modernization of transformers and other electrical equipment used to power trains between Washington, D.C. and NewYork; improvements to tracks and switches at Chicago Union Station; and construction of new maintenance buildings for passenger railcar equipment in Los Angeles and in Hialeah, Fla. Beyond the ARRA funded projects, Amtrak will spend $442 million as part of its annual FY 2010 engineering program. Among these projects  are installation of more than 112,000 concrete crossties and more than 49,000 wood crossties on the Northeast Corridor; construction of a new air ventilation shaft for the New York tunnels; and repair to several bridges in Michigan, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. In addition, Amtrak will complete the multi-year modernization of the catenary wires on the Hell Gate Line in New York, begin construction of upgrades to the Seattle maintenance facility, and improve accessibility at stations in Philadelphia, Pa., Baltimore, Md., Providence, R.I., and elsewhere.

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Longer-term, the NEC is due for $10 billion in upgrades, $6 billion of that between Washington and New York. Amtrak is looking to replace all the NEC’s aging variable-tension catenary between Washington and New Haven,Conn., with a modern constant-tension system (like that in place between New Haven and Boston). A $700 million Washington-New York replacement program is already under way. Catenary improvements, along with improvements to curves and tunnel approaches and tie replacement, is expected to decrease trip times initially by 15 minutes. Further improvements should shave another 15 minutes. Boardman said Amtrak’s goal is to increase the Acela Express’s top speed on this segment of the NEC to 150 mph from the current 135 mph.

Amtrak is committed to “an aggressive, self-imposed schedule” to install Positive Train Control (PTC) by the end of 2012, “three years ahead of a Congressional deadline for the rail industry,” on sections of right-of-way it owns. On the NEC, ACSES (Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System) rollout will be completed. In Michigan, continued rollout of ITCS (Incremental Train Control System) will enable increased train speeds of up to105 mph between Porter, Ind., and Kalamazoo, Mich. Boardman said Amtrak “is in discussions with host railroads” about participating in and possibly providing some funding for PTC on lines owned by freight railroads.

Boardman took an aggressive stance on Amtrak’s potential role in higher speed rail corridor development. “We’re  playing a major role in the developmentand expansion of intercity and high speed passenger rail,” he said. “As America’s provider of intercity passenger rail service and its only high speed rail operator, we have unmatched knowledge, experience, and expertise in the U.S. rail environment. Other potential operators are surfacing, but they have never done here what we have been doing for a long time.” Boardman added that Amtrak is partnering with 25 states in support of more than 100 projects submitted for funding from the $8 billion in ARRA intercity and high speed rail capital improvement grants. (An announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation on which projects have been selected is expected soon. DOT said “this winter” in an earlier announcement.)

Amtrak will expand corridor services in collaboration with state partners. In Virginia, a fifth Northeast Regional train will operate between Richmond and Washington, D.C. In North Carolina, a second Piedmont roundtrip between Raleigh andCharlotte will be added. In Washington State, a second Amtrak Cascades train is now operating from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., through the duration of the 2010Winter Olympics and Paralympics Games. In addition, Amtrak is finalizing a new operating contract with the Metrolink commuter rail service in Los Angeles to provide train and engine crews on all seven lines.

Amtrak will also undertake “an in-depth evaluation of the poorest performing long-distance routes to identify and implement changes where possible to improve key measures such as customer service, ridership, and financial performance.” The five routes being analyzed are the Sunset Limited,Cardinal, Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited, and California Zephyr.

--> In February, Amtrak will release a long-awaited detailed master long-range plan for replacing almost all of its aging, 1,400-plus-unit car and locomotive fleet. The plan, which will be released as part of a legislative and grant request to Congress, also incl ...

Nomad Digital has signed an agreement with China's main supplier of motors and propulsion control, Changzhou Railcar Propulsion Engineering R&D Centre (CPC). The deal allows Nomad to to market its two-way broadband connectivity for trains to the Chinese mainline rail and metro rail markets.

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Under the pact, both parties will work together exclusively to sell and deliver products and services based on Nomad technology. The selling package includes engine condition monitoring, security, and passenger services.

“We are very excited by the potential of this alliance with CPC,” said Nigel Wallbridge, Nomad’s executive chairman. “We have been very impressed not only by CPC’s proven record of success in the Chinese market, but also by their evident track record of building on relationships with foreign companies, shown by the Bombardier CPC Joint Venture, the SMA joint venture, and their recent JV with David Brown. We look forward to forging a successful future together.”

--> Nomad Digital has signed an agreement with China's main supplier of motors and propulsion control, Changzhou Railcar Propulsion Engineering R&D Centre (CPC). The deal allows Nomad to to market its two-way broadband connectivity for trains to the Chinese m ...

Pittsburgh-based Portec Rail Products announced that it has won its first order in China for its Fault Detection product group. Portec already has a growing demand in China for its Friction Management products.

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"These orders for a variety of our products reflect the success of our efforts to enter the expanding Chinese rail infrastructure system," said Portec Rail President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Jarosinski. "We have focused our efforts on participating in key industry forums and in-country trade shows and in the publication of research papers and promotion of customer visits to North America. All of these activities have resulted in significant progress towards making Portec Rail Products, Inc. a meaningful brand name in the Chinese rail system marketplace, which we hope will continue to grow in stature as our products and services become more widely used."

Jarosinski said the Chinese rail market offers significant growth potential in both heavy-haul freight and passenger service, with the recent announcement that China will be spending a record $120.6 billion on expansion this year."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

--> Pittsburgh-based Portec Rail Products announced that it has won its first order in China for its Fault Detection product group. Portec already has a growing demand in China for its Friction Management products. ...

Long Island Rail Road officials say the nation's largest regional railroad recorded its best on-time performance ever in 2009 since LIRR began keeping track in 1979. LIRR’s overall on-time mark was 95.21%.

"It's the single most-important issue to our customers," LIRR President Helena E. Williams said.

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Like many regional passenger railroads, LIRR considers its trains on time if one reaches its final destination within 5 minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival time. “I think it's pretty universal," Williams said, though passenger rail advocates nationwide continue to question the definition.

Sister MTA railroad Metro-North notched an on-time percentage of 97.84% in 2009, also a record high, according to spokeswoman Marjorie Anders. Metro-North also defines on-time using the buffer of 5 minutes, 59 seconds.

Better train maintenance, track upgrades, and aggressive removal of vegetation all helped to increase LIRR on-time arrivals,  LIRR’s Williams said. LIRR's previous record for on-time performance was 95.14%, set in 2008.

--> Long Island Rail Road officials say the nation's largest regional railroad recorded its best on-time performance ever in 2009 since LIRR began keeping track in 1979. LIRR’s overall on-time mark was 95.21%. ...

Noting that coal traffic throughout 2009 “has been a significant drag” on freight rail traffic and, consequently, on freight rail company share values, Morgan Stanley analysts William Greene, Adam Longson, and John Godyn, in a report released Friday, say that change is looming.

“In recent weeks, sequential data shows that coal stockpiles have sharply declined,” the trio wrote. “In fact, according to industry consultant Genscape, U.S. generators have recently averaged 63 days of coal supply. While still up Y/Y, this represents a marked improvement from the ~80 days of inventory levels seen as recently as 3Q09, which led a number of rails to reaffirm negative views on domestic coal prospects during their earnings calls. In contrast, should recent trends continue, 4Q09 management commentary on domestic coal trends is likely to be far more upbeat--a point which could excite investors.”

Casting an eye on the harsh winter weather enveloping much of the U.S., Morgan Stanley said, “The silver lining in recent cold weather trends is greater coal demand,” adding, “[I]nvestors are likely to focus on the weather's silver lining--increased heating demand and electricity consumption. In addition to directly reducing existing coal stockpiles, greater heating demand also puts upward pressure on natural gas prices (as we have seen recently). If it continues, this trend is likely to reverse the price-driven substitution effect (more natural gas, less coal) we witnessed in 2009 when natural gas prices crashed.”

Based in part on those developments, Morgan Stanley reiterated its “attractive view on freight—rails in particular.” Greene, Longson, and Godyn concluded, “We like freight stocks as a way to play the economic recovery, particularly stories where we see positive cyclical and secular trends such as the rails.  Easing legislative concerns are likely to refocus investors on key rail investment positives including: (1) operating leverage to recovering volumes, (2) the pricing story, and (3) continued productivity improvements.”

 

 

--> Noting that coal traffic throughout 2009 “has been a significant drag” on freight rail traffic and, consequently, on freight rail company share values, Morgan Stanley analysts William Greene, Adam Longson, and John Godyn, in a report released Frid ...

Norfolk Southern has asked the SurfaceTransportation Board for permission to cease service on its Cockeysville, Md.,branch, which it operates at night under a temporal separation agreement with Maryland Transit Administration. MTA's light rail transit trains in Baltimore ply the line by day, as part of its Hunts Valley Line service.

NS acquired operating rights over the ex-PennsylvaniaRailroad line when Conrail was partitioned between NS and CSX in 1999. The route once served trains linking Baltimore and Harrisburg, Pa.

--> Norfolk Southern has asked the SurfaceTransportation Board for permission to cease service on its Cockeysville, Md.,branch, which it operates at night under a temporal separation agreement with Maryland Transit Administration. MTA's light rail transit trains ...
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