The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has awarded a $1.2 million contract to ProTran1 LLC to provide more than 1,800 safety awareness devices for transit workers. The contract runs through June 30, 2010.
Blue Anchor, N.J.-based ProTran1 produces automatic warning devices for both trackworkers and train operators. The company says its product line has been installed and pilot-tested by numerous agencies, including MTA New York City Transit, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Massachusetts BayTransportation Authority, and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.
Tucson, Ariz. Wednesday became the second U.S. city awardinga contract to United Streetcar LLC, a subsidiary of Clackamas, Ore.-based Oregon Iron Works, Inc.
Tucson’s $26 million order, for seven streetcars, follows an earlier order by Portland, Ore., for six streetcars, which itself followed United Streetcar’s production of a prototype car now being tested in Portland.
Carsbuilt by United Streetcar are similar in design to those of Plzen, Czech Republic-based Skoda Transportation a.s., under a technology transfer agreement signed by the two companies in 2006.
Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo Wednesday announced the award of $15 million to nine states for emergency repairs to damaged railroad infrastructure resulting from natural disasters. The funding, from FRA’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Repair Program (RRRP), will go to state Departments of Transportation to reimburse short line and regional railroads for the cost of repairs.
“Freight railroads are critical to local economies and we are committed to helping them restore rail service after a major disruption,” said Szabo. “This funding will help the carriers defray repair costs and keep the trains running.”
RRRP funds can cover up to 80% of the total cost of a selected project, with the remainder to be provided from non-federal sources. Grants may be used to repair bridges, signals, and other infrastructure.
FRA listed the grant recipients, and amounts, as follows:
AlaskaDepartment of Transportation and Public Facilities
Flood repair for the Alaska Railroad: $637,440
Flood repair for the Alaska Railroad: $945,680
ArkansasState Highway and Transportation Department
Emergency repairs to Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad: $737,292
IllinoisDepartment of Transportation
Flood control on the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad: $569,700
KansasDepartment of Transportation
Repair of flood damage to the Gorilla Subdivision on the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad: $405,702
Indiana Department of Transportation
Flood damage repair on the Indiana Southern Railroad: $1,244,217
Iowa Department of Transportation
Flood damage restoration to rebuild a bridge and repair signals on the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway: $6,965,163
Flood damage restoration for the Keokuk Junction RailwayYard: $459,200
Replacement of the Waterloo Bridge over the Cedar River forthe Iowa Northern Railway: $2,174,880
Missouri Department of Transportation
Flood damage repair on Missouri & Northern ArkansasRailroad: $353,600
North Carolina Department of Transportation
Repair of washouts and debris removal on the CarolinaCoastal Railway: $11,101
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Repair of flood damage and washouts on the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad: $354,006
FRA is authorized to make $20 million available for grants to repair and rehabilitate railroad infrastructure damaged in areas declared by the President as a major disaster. FRA intends to issue another solicitation for the remaining $5 million in funds through a Notice of Funding Availability to be published in the Federal Register that will be available on a competitive basis.
Union Pacific Chairman, President, and CEO Jim Young urged Congress Wednesday to be very careful about changing the Staggers Rail Act of 1980.
Since enactment of Staggers, Young said, inflation-adjusted rail rates have dropped by more than half, railroads have reduced accident rates by 70%, rail market share has steadily increased, and the industry has poured $440 billion back into track, equipment, and facilities improvements.
Young, who is also chairman of the Association of American Railroads, made these points in a speech at the annual meeting of the North American Rail Shippers Association in Chicago.
Aware that some big rail customers in his audience were supporting legislation now in Congress that would dilute Staggers regulatory reforms, Young said the Staggers system had succeeded in its goal of protecting "the rights of shippers from excessive rail market power while at the same time providing railroads with new ability to react to changes in the marketplace."
"The result has been an unqualified success," asserted Young.
He contended that the antitrust legislation now in Congress "would subject railroads to conflicting regulatory schemes, creating inefficiencies that would cause operating costs to increase. Eventually these cost increases would reach each of our customers, causing their costs to increase as well."
As for the high speed passenger rail systems contemplated by the Obama Administration, Young said "there are many good things" they could accomplish, "including reduction of greenhouse gases and fuel consumption as well as highway and air congestion."
But he had a caveat. “If all we do is superimpose high speed rail on existing freight networks, it will consume freight capacity needed for freight customes today and limit our ability to expand for the customer's growth in the future."
The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority has learned that its plan to make drastic service cuts to meet a funding shortfall would violate terms under which the Federal Transit Administration granted the agency $256 million toward the cost of adouble tracking project completed in 2006.
That came to light May 22 asSFRTA's board met to consider--and, as it turned out, approve--the plan to slash the number of daily trains and eliminate weekend service. To keep Tri-Rail running full strength and avoid federal penalties, SFRTA Chairman Josephus Eggelletion asked the state for $10 million in stop-gap funding until the legislature can reconsider its recent turndown of the agency's funding request.
When traffic returns to the railroads in a post-recession economy, it may not come from the old familiar places, suggests CP Rail Chief Executive Fred Green.
Talking with reporters following the company's annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, on May 22, Green said changes in public policy as well as in the financial markets may require a re-examination of long-term investments in railroad infrastructure.
As examples, he mentioned the possibility that the volume of container imports (a greatpre-recession source of revenue for intermodal carriers) may find new shipping lanes. He also said that shifting mandates in how energy is provided could affect such proposals as that to build a new coal-hauling line into the Powder River Basin coalfields (an option that CP acquired with its purchase ofthe Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern, which had won regulatory authority for sucha buildout but not the necessary financing).
If changes occur, said Green,"I wouldn't predict that there will be a net negative to the company, but jus ta net difference to the company ... it's something we have to keep oureyes wide open for." For instance, he said, a change in trade patterns between North America and China "could cause a completely different set of logistical needs: We'll still be involved, but in a different lane, a different corridor."
Metrolinx, the authority charged with overseeing public transport in the greater Toronto metropolitan area, announced Tuesday its intention to study the electrification of the entire GO Transit rail system. GO Transit currently employs diesel locomotives throughout its system.
An external advisory committee made up of community representatives, including riders andindependent technical experts, will be formed to aid in the study effort. “This committee's advice will be important as we move forward in designing the study to guide us in converting GO Transit's urban rail network from diesel toelectric," said Rob Prichard, Metrolinx president and CEO.
Among the issues expected to be addressed criteria to determine the staging of electrification of GO's rail lines; performance improvements for riders; power supply and distribution; capacity issues at Toronto’s Union Station, the hub of GO Transit operations; rail corridor ownership; urban planning benefits; vehicle technology options and availability; physical constraints; property impacts; and the impacts on GO capital and operating costs.
The study could commence this summer and be completed by winter 2010.
Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc. says it has been honored with the 2009 Minnesota Governor's International Trade Award. Hamel, Minn.-based Loram was one of seven companies recognized for developing and continuing to grow a significant part of their business in foreign markets, for increasing or maintaining jobs in Minnesota that support international sales, and for developing novel approaches for competing globally.
A luncheon honoring the award winners was held last Friday at the IDS Center in Minneapolis. Loram representatives in attendance included: President and CEO Phil Homan; Director of Business Development Tom Smith; Chief Engineer in OEM Services Ken Range; Manager of International Operations Andrew Hense; Manager of Production Rail Grinding Luke Olson; International Contract Manager Jeanne Fondell; International Services Coordinator Kaizen Yang; Chief Engineer in OEM Services Roger Luedke, and also Andrew Tompkins, Geoff Michel, and Richard Kopka.
"Minnesota companies sold a record $17.3 billion in manufactured exports last year," said Tony Lorusso, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. Loram's international sales grew from 24% of revenue in 2006 to 31% of revenue in 2008. Loram has customers in more than 30 countries.
U.S. Class I railroad employment declined 6.27%, to 154,263, in the year ended in mid-April 2009, according to the Surface Transportation Board. The biggest job losses continued to be among train operating crews.
In the category of transportation (train and engine), employment dropped 14.22% to 58,806. There was a 5.57% increase, to 6,992, in the transportation (other than train and engine) group, and a seasonal increase in maintenance-of-way employment, which edged up 0.23% to 35,377.
All other job categories showed declines: executives, officials, and staff assistants, down 0.32% to 10,041; professional and administrative, down 1.79% to 13,432; and maintenance of equipment and stores, down 2.43% to 29,615.