Union Pacific announced that it has increased its 2010 capital expenditure program by $100 million in growth capital to a total of $2.6 billion. The railroad said the additional $100 million will be used primarily to buy new intermodal equipment “and support our intermodal strategy.” The action was taken at a board meeting in Omaha May 6.
“UP's domestic intermodal business grew 8% last year during one of the worst recessions in decades, as our record service performance attracted new business to our railroad,” said Jim Young, Union Pacific chairman and chief executive officer.
UP’s board of directors also voted to increase the quarterly dividend on the company’s common shares by 22% to 33 cents per share, payable July 1, 2010, to stockholders of record on May 28, 2010.
“With business volumes continuing to grow, we feel very positive about the long-term fundamentals of our business as well as UP's strategy to make the most of these opportunities,” said Young. “As a result, we are generating solid free cash flows and have confidence going forward that we are taking the right steps to capitalize on our growth opportunities and reward our shareholders.”
UP also said it plans to resume share repurchases on an opportunistic basis under its existing program, which authorizes purchases of up to 32.6 million shares by March 31, 2011.
The States for Passenger Rail Coalition has sent Congress a request for 2011 funding that includes a $2.5 billion appropriation for grants under the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, the same level sought for 2010, plus $1 billion for “next generation” intercity passenger rail equipment development.
“The states are ready to step up to the plate in partnership with the federal government to create a better intercity passenger rail program than ever before,” said the coalition, an alliance of state departments of transportation that was established in 2000.
Noting that the states’ focus is on “safety, economic development, energy security, and conservation and environmental quality,” coalition members also asked the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development for $100 million for the positive train control program; $55 million for the Swift High-Speed Rail Grade Crossing Elimination Program; and $45 million for the Rail Line Relocation program.
The coalition said it supports Amtrak’s separate request for$2.2 billion to address “a broad array of daunting challenges [including] meeting ADA requirements, operating over an ever-aging infrastructure, and assisting the states in development of a national intercity passenger rail system.”
Bombardier Transportation capped a busy corporate news week Friday by announcing a contract to implement European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 technology in Poland. The company says the deal with Polish State Railway (Polskie Linie Kolejowe, or PKP) is the first installation of ERTMS Level 2 technology in Poland, and is valued at $17 million.
Bombardier will oversee the supply, installation, testing, and commissioning of its INTERFLOR 450 ERTMS Level 2 onboard and wayside signaling system to be installed on the section of the E30 main line between Legnica, Wegliniec, and Bielawa Dolna. The project is part of the modernization program of the pan-European transport corridors which will ensure interoperability on railway lines in Poland.
The system will be developed and delivered by Bombardier Transportation Rail Control Solutions sites in Sweden and Poland, and is scheduled to go into operation in April 2012.
Anders Lindberg, president, Bombardier Transportation Rail Control Solutions, said, “As pioneers of ERTMS technology, we are extremely pleased to win this significant order which strengthens Bombardier’s market lead in ERTMS and brings ETCS Level 2 technology to Poland, extending the network across Europe.”
RailPros, Inc. says it has opened an office in downtown SanDiego “to better serve our San Diego-area clients.” The office is located at401 B Street, Suite 310, San Diego, CA 92101; telephone: (619) 795-0325. RailPros already has office locations in Los Angeles and its company headquarters in Irvine, Calif.
The San Diego office is headed by Mike Ruth and Joe Aroyo,who both are managing projects for the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego’s CenterCity Development Corp. (CCDC), and North County Transit District (NCTD), all within San Diego County.
The company also noted Joe Zerzan has joined RailPros as asenior signal manager; Zerzan is based in Los Angeles, where he is the leadtechnical adviser for the Metrolink Positive Train Control project.
U.S. carload freight traffic rose 14.7% during the week ended May 8, 2010, compared with the comparable week in 2009, the Association of American Railroads reported Thursday, marking the 11th consecutive week of traffic increases. The rate was still 13.9% below the comparable week in 2008. U.S. intermodal traffic also rose, up 14.0% from last year but down 9.2% from 2008.
Total volume was estimated at 32.2 billion ton-miles, up 16.2% from last year but down 8.8% from 2008.
Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups were up from last year, led by a 99.7% jump in metals and a 70.2% increase in metallic ores. Loadings of motor vehicles and equipment were up 50.%; waste and scrap was up 31.6%; and lumber and wood products gained 23.4%. Only grain mill products declined, down 4.8%.
Canadian carload freight traffic rose 38% from last year, while intermodal advanced 9.9% from 2009. Mexican carload freight was up 37.9% from the same week last year, while intermodal rose a similar 36%.
Genesee & Wyoming (GWI) railroads racked up April volume of 72,023 carloads, an increase of 9,979 carloads, or 16.1%, compared with April 2009.
GWI said metals traffic grew by 3,557 carloads primarily due to increased steel shipments in the New York/Ohio/Pennsylvania and Southern regions.
Traffic in GWI's "Other" commodity group grew 2,595 carloads primarily due to increased overhead shipments in the NewYork/Ohio/Pennsylvania Region. Coal, coke & ores traffic was up 1,584 carloads. All other traffic increased by a net 2,243 carloads.
GWI owns and operates 62 short line and regional railroads in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands, with approximately 6,000 miles of owned and leased track and approximately 3,400 additional miles under track access arrangements.
The Toronto Transit Commission has exercised options to buy 186 subway cars—31 six-car trainsets—valued at approximately C$390 million (US$378 million) from Bombardier Transportation. The cars are scheduled to be delivered between 2012 and 2013.
The options are part of the “Toronto Rocket” contract signed in December 2006. A base order of 234 cars is under construction.
The heavily-traveled TTC subway system, which carried a record 471 million riders in 2009, is undergoing a major expansion. The C$2.6 billion extension of the Yonge-University Spadina from Downview to Vaughan, a 3.8-mile, six-station route, is expected to carry 80,000 riders daily when completed in 2015.
The Cincinnati City Council, in a 6-2 vote Wednesday, approved a $64 million bond measure to generate local funds for a $128 million streetcar project, following the recommendation made Monday by a finance committee to approve the plan.
Concerns over debt financing were allayed, to some degree, by a new arrangement to cover the debt with money from tax increment financing, proceeds from the sale of the Blue Ash airport, and use of city capital.
The streetcar route currently is planned to run from the Great American Ball Park north through the city to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, including a stop at the University of Cincinnati.
Those opposed to the project, defeated last year in a vote to reject the streetcar project, still hope to block the plan. Some speculate that former Mayor Tom Luken, an opponent, will mount a petition campaign to once again put the streetcar issue on the ballot this November.
A final public hearing takes place Thursday night on a proposed one-cent sales tax referendum before Hillsborough County (Fla.) commissioners decide whether to advance plans for light rail transit in Tampa. The sales tax, if approved by voters in November, would be used to fund LRT construction.
At issue is not just the referendum itself, butwhich of two routes initially to be funded. "For the moment, yes, we're looking at the red line, [University of South Florida] to Bruce B. Downs/Downtown, and then the portion of the blue line would take you into Westshore and just connect to the outside of [Tampa International Airport] by one mile," said David Armijo, a spokesman for Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART).
“I think the ridership numbers are what's going to drive it,” said Ray Chiaramonte, a member of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, who noted LRT access to and from the airport could aid ridership numbers.
HART is waiting on the results of a study to determine how to proceed. “Which is the best project that we can advance or do we link the two projects together,” said Armijo. “That's still under consideration.”
Supporters of the LRT proposal include Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and the Tampa Bay Partnership, a non-profit business advocacy group. Opponents include perennial anti-rail forces who, among other things, have routinely targeted the existing 2.3-mile, 12-station TECO streetcar line in downtown Tampa, serving the city’s waterfront, calling rail transit a “misuse” of transportation dollars.