Union Pacific has unveiled its new AutoFlex™ convertible multi-level car for transporting vehicles. UP said it holds 15 patents related to the design and process in developing the car, designed by UP’s engineering group and built by UP forces at the railroad’s DeSoto, Mo., car shop.
UP said the 90-foot-long car can be adjusted to bi-level or tri-level vehicle transport while using the same rack structure.
UP claimed these benefits for AutoFlex™ customers:
* “Easier convertibility and more flexibility resulting from the ability to quickly and efficiently adjust the rail car to transport large or small vehicles.
* “Enhanced loading and unloading safety resulting from convenient access provided by an improved panel end-door structure.
* “Increased service quality thanks to a proven durable door edge system, improved tie-down chock systems, and upgraded in-transit damage protection.
* “Superior security by removing exterior ladder access to the railcar roof and upper decks. The ladder is accessible only when the end doors are open.”
“Improving safety and efficiency create greater value for our customers,” said Julie Krehbiel, Union Pacific vice president and general manager - Automotive. “With the AutoFlex™ convertible multi-level, we can more easily adjust to changes in consumer purchasing trends and keep our customers’ products moving. This is a newly engineered railcar, not a converted bi-level car, and our engineering group did an outstanding job in developing this new railcar.”
“Results of our preliminary tests have been very promising in terms of vibration, stability and overall ride quality,” said Barry Kanuch, Union Pacific chief mechanical officer. “We are excited about the car’s performance so far.”
UP spokesman Tom Lange said current plans call for constructing 100 AutoFlex™ cars per year for the foreseeable future. UP will build the cars itself in DeSoto.
The Greenbrier Companies announced Wednesday that it has received orders totaling is approximately $130 million for new and refurbished railcars.
Included are orders for 1,000 new double-stack intermodal platforms and more than 700 new covered hopper cars. Greenbrier will also re-engineer and modify approximately 1,100 existing double-stack platforms to 53 feet from smaller dimensions.
The new orders and refurbishment work will be carried out at the company’s Gunderson and Greenbrier Rail Services facilities in 2010 and 2011. “The orders are from five separate customers, and are subject to final documentation, but are considered to be firm commitments,” said Greenbrier. “The customers represent major railroad and leasing companies in North America.”
Greenbrier announced that it will increase its workforce by 260 workers at its Gunderson facility in Portland, Ore., bringing total employment to more than 900. These additions will be carried out both by calling back workers furloughed during the industry downturn and by new hires. The company said it will divert approximately 175 workers from its ocean-going marine barge construction at Gunderson to new railcar production as a result of current softness in the marine market.
Greenbrier said the new and refurbished railcars will support a growing need for 53-foot double-stack well capacity in North America, despite a continued surplus of 40-foot and 48-foot equipment. “Double-stack freight cars transport various sizes of containers stacked two high,” noted the builder. “The majority of such railcars are constructed to haul 40-foot international ocean-going containers. The recent strong growth in 53-foot domestic containerization allows railroad shippers to compete effectively with longer and heavier trucks on the nation’s highways. Greenbrier is adjusting its production to fulfill this growing demand.”
Watco Transportation Services Inc. (WTS), the Pittsburg, Kan.-based operator of 22 short lines railroads in the U.S., has joined the Association of American Railroads with a full membership. Watco roads operate more than 3,700 track miles in 18 states. Watco will have access to all association services and will be eligible to serve on AAR committees and the AAR Board.
“The addition of WTS broadens our membership and strengthens our ability to represent our industry effectively before the decision makers that shape policy and law affecting railroads,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger.
The AAR announcement noted that in March 2008 WTS’s South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad was named the Railway Age Regional Railroad of the Year. Railroads operated by WTS also include the Alabama Southern, Alabama Warrior Railway, Arkansas Southern, Austin Western, Baton Rouge, Boise Valley, Eastern Idaho, Grand Elk, Great Northwest, Kansas & Oklahoma, Kaw River, Louisiana Southern, Mission Mountain, Mississippi Southern, Pacific Sun, Palouse River and Coulee City, Pennsylvania Southwestern, Stillwater Central, Timber Rock, Vicksburg Southern, and Yellowstone Valley Railroads.
WTS is owned by Watco Companies, Inc. (WCI), which also owns Watco Mechanical Services division, operating 14 railcar repair shops, four locomotive shops, and 19 mobile mechanical shops. The Watco Transload and Intermodal Services division manages 12 transload facilities, seven warehouses, and one intermodal location.
The Surface Transportation Board announced that it has scheduled an oral argument for Sept. 28 in Arizona Electric Power Cooperative’s challenge of BNSF Union Pacific coal transportation rates from New Mexico and the northern part of the Powder River Basin, in Wyoming and Montana, to AEPCO’s generating station near Cochise, Ariz.
The oral argument will be held in hearing room at STB headquarters in Washington, D.C.
A live video broadcast of the argument will be available via the STB’s Website at www.stb.dot.gov, under “Information Center”/”Website”/”Live video” on the home page.
Noting that 53% of the nation’s rail capacity has been removed since 1960, Szabo recommended that freight and passenger interests work closely together and utilize such tools as computer modeling to develop “appropriate capacity” and “ensure mutual cooperation.”
The U.S. Class I railroad workforce grew to 153,046 in July, up 1.76% from July 2009 and 1% from June 2010. But those figures do not reflect the extent of railroad traffic growth, which on a revenue ton-mile basis was up 6.4% in this year’s first six months.
For that, analysts must examine the train operating crew numbers. This is the biggest single employment category, and its numbers rose to 60,4348 in July, up 6.4% from July 2009 and up 1.35% from June 2010.
The biggest year-over-year employment decline in July was in the category of executives, officials, and staff assistants, where the July number, 9,024, was down 3.82% from June, though up 0.49% from June 2010. Maintenance of equipment and stores declined to 28,039 in July, down 1.23% from July 2009 and also down 0.07% from June 2010.
Professional and administrative employment was 13,999 in July, up 1.14% from July 2009 and up 4.61% from June 2010.
Maintenance-of-way employment, 34,998, was off 1.22% from July 2009 and up 0.3% from June 2010.
The Class I employment index, which is based on same-month1967 as 100, shows that employment still trails pre-recession 2008. Theindex was 24.6 in July, compared with 24.1 in July 2009 and 26.4 in July 2008.
Bombardier Transportation said Friday it has received anorder from Norwegian financial services group DnB NOR (DnB NOR) for the delivery of six Bombardier FLEXITY Classic trams intended for service on a historic tram route in Stockholm, Sweden. The trams will be leased by Stockholm County Transit Authority (SL). The order is valued at about $27 million.
The new equipment will be used on the inner city tram line called Spårväg City, a historic route that will resume commercial service after several years of heritage tram traffic. Delivery of the FLEXITY Classictrams is scheduled between March and July 2011.
Bombardier says it also has been able to facilitate the immediate lease of six trams in order to enable commercial operation to start as soon as Monday, August 23. This deal is the result of Bombardier and SL’s close cooperation with two public transit authorities, Sweden's Norrköpings Spårvägar (NSAB) and Germany's Stadtwerke Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main (VGF), together with DnB NOR’s financial services. Until the new trams are delivered, Bombardier and DnB NOR have reached agreements with NSAB and VGF for the rental of three used trams from each operator.
Klas Wåhlberg, president of Bombardier Transportation Sweden, said in a statement, “Having grown and developed alongside SL for over a century, I am pleased that we were able to realize this unconventional tram lease solutionenabling SL to commence operation of the renewed Spårväg City line nearly one year ahead of scheduled delivery of the new trams. I am grateful to the traffic operators of Norrköpings and Frankfurt and to our financial partner DnB NOR for making this unique arrangement possible.
“We are proud to be able to deliver six more vehicles to Stockholm, as this order confirms that SL is satisifed with the quality and service provided by Bombardier and underscores our capability as a provider of light rail solutions,” Wåhlberg added.