The Association of American Railroads reports that in the week ended Nov. 21, freight traffic on U.S. railroads rose to its highes tlevel so far this year.
The Class I carriers originated 287,087 carloads of freight, down 6.8% from the same week in 2008 and down 0.7% from the same week in 2007. Volume increased 2.1% from the previous week this year. The comparison weeks from both 2007 and 2008 included the Thanksgiving holiday.
Intermodal traffic totaled 213,382 trailers and containers, down 3.1% from a year ago but up 11.5% from 2007. It was up 2.6% from the previous week this year.
While 13 of the 19 carload commodity groups were down from last year, there were increases in nonmetallic minerals (26.5%), grain (8.1%), chemicals (8.1%), waste and scrap metal (6.5 %), grain mill products (6.4%), and food and kindred products (0.4%). Declines in commodity groups ranged from 0.3% for petroleum products to 22.1% for crushed stone, sand, and gravel.
Total U.S. volume for the week ending Nov. 21 was estimated at 32.1 billion ton-miles, down 6.1% from the corresponding week last year but up 4.9% from 2007.
Canadian railroads reported volume of 72,120 cars for the week, down 4.5% from last year, and 43,085 trailers or containers, down 7.3%. Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 11,992 cars, up 1.3% from last year, and 6,410 trailers or containers, up 9.7%.
Canadian Pacific is working with Natural Resources Canada in what is described as "an industry-leading biodiesel fuel pilot project," part of the National Renewable Diesel Demonstration Initiative. The test marks the first use biodiesel fuel in Canadian cold-weather rail service. The fuel is made from vegetable oils and animal fat.
"As part of a five-month test cycle, CP will operate four GE AC4400 diesel locomotives with FDL-16 engines in captive service between Calgary and Edmonton," said the railroad.
General Electric and Calgary-based fuel supplier 4Refuels are cooperating with CP during this testing phase, which began in early November and will run through the end of March.
"Canadian Pacific will undertake routine detailed mechanical examinations of the locomotives in the pilot project. The information gathered will be used to determine if a biodiesel mixture of 5% (B5) has any significant adverse effects on a locomotive or its associated systems in cold-climate operation. Impact to reliability, potential changes to the overhaul ormaintenance work scope, and reviews of specific components on the locomotives will also be monitored," CP said.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) reports that U.S. truck tonnage in October was down just 5.2% from October 2008, "the best year-to-year showing" since November 2008.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the improvement shows that the economic recovery is "still trying to gain balance. The trucking industry should not be alarmed by the small decreases in September and October. The economy is behaving as expected, with starts and stops,” he said, adding that despite "ups and downs" in coming months, the trend will be moderate improvement.
ATA calculates truck tonnage each month based on reports by its member companies.
Their success in sizing operations to demand helped Class I railroads maintain a relatively high return on investment (ROI) during the 12 months ended Sept. 30.
During a period that contained many of the worst months of the recession, the industry earned an average return of 8.42% on its net investment, compared with 9.88% in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2008, according to the Surface Transportation Board.
BNSF Railway earned an ROI of 9.27% during the latest 12-month period vs. 10.66% a year earlier. Union Pacific's respective returns were 7.88% and 9.62%.
In the East, Norfolk Southern experienced one of the biggest swings in ROI, dropping to 9.48% from 14.42%. CSX Transportation posted a return of 8.15% this year vs. 8.55% in the same period last year.
Kansas City Southern earned an ROI of 0.38% this year, down from 8.70%. Soo Line's return declined to 9.79% from 15.84%. CN/GrandTrunk's ROI dropped to 6.05% from 10.97%.
Industry-wide, total railway operating revenues in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2009, dropped sharply to $49.9 billion from the $58.4 billion reported a year earlier. Net railway operating income, on which ROI is based, dropped to $5.7 billion from $7.2 billion.
Dallas-based DRI Corp. said Tuesday its Swedish-based subsidiary, Mobitec AB, through its Mobitec Brazil Ltda. business unit, won an order from Bombardier Transportation for electronic information display systems (EIDS) to be used in the modernization of the Sao Paulo, Brazil, regional rail system.
Last June a consortium led by Bombardier was awarded a $193 million contract to modernize 156 electric multiple-unit (EMU) passenger rail cars (26 six-car trains) by Companhia do Metropolitano de Sao Paulo (CMSP), the state-owned transit operator that runs the Sao Paulo metro system. The Bombardier consortium includes two Brazilian partners: Temoinsa and Tejofran.
DRI Chairman, President, and CEO David L. Turney said, “Bombardier has ordered Mobitec Brazil's EIDS products for approximately 50 light rail cars in Sao Paulo. This order is strategically relevant because it marks our official entrance into the Brazilian rail market. Delivery of the order has commenced and is expected to conclude in first quarter [of] 2010.”
Turney added, “We foresee good demand for rail cars in Brazil, particularly as the region invests in transit infrastructure inpreparation for the upcoming FIFA World Cup™ in 2014 and the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in 2016."
Reacting to a failure to reach agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, Canadian National has announced it will unilaterally increase wage rates and apply a change to the mileage caps for the company's locomotive engineers the union represents in Canada on CN. CN said its response comes after its collective bargaining with TCRC ended Nov. 20 without a settlement. The contract changes are to take effect beginning early Saturday morning, November 28. TCRC's current labor agreement with CN expired Dec. 31, 2008.
CN says it had informed the union last weekend of its intention to increase the engineers' wages by 1.5% and implement only one work rule change. At present, TCRC-represented conductors have a 4,300-mileage cap limitation, and TCRC-represented engineers have a 3,800-mile cap. With the work rule change, both groups of employees working in the locomotive cab will be working under one consistent rule, and the engineers will see an overall increase in their compensation. On average, CN says, its locomotive engineers presently work between 15 and 17 days per month.
CN says it has made several different offers to resolve these collective agreements, but claims all have been rejected by the TCRC. “CN also offered to refer the matters in dispute to binding arbitration, but the TCRC rejected this option as well,” the Class I railroad said in a statement. Under terms of the Canada Labour Code, the TCRC and CN are entitled to engage in a strike or lockout upon 72 hours' notice to the other party.
Germany's Rhein Main Services (RMS) has selected Cubic technology for the country's first large-scale electronic ticketing system. The system will serve a region with a population of more that five million where an estimated 650 million journeys are taken annually on public transport.
RMV ordered the system on behalf of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV). The RMV and its partners operate trains serving 600 stations, along with 3,300 buses.
The work will be performed through Cubic Deutschland, part of the transportation segment of San Diego-based Cubic Corp. a global provider of fare collection systems and ticketing services.
Steve Shewmaker, president of Cubic Transportation Systems worldwide, said: "While this contract is our largest in Germany, we also have contracts with RMV and other German cities to extend the use of mobile phones for electronic ticketing. We expect to merge these efforts in the future and provide Germany with some of the most modern and efficient electronic ticketing in the world."