U.S. Class I railroads employed 57,198 transportation (train and engine) workers in mid-October, an increase of 1.07% from September, though still 15.27% below October 2008 numbers. The month-to-month increase in train crew workers was one of the few bright spot in new employment figures released Wednesday by the Surface Transportation Board.
Only one other employment group showed a month-to-month increase: professional and administrative numbers, totaling 13,614, were up 0.63% from September and 1.37% from October 2008.
Total Class I employment in October--149,020--was down 0.27% from September and 9.15% from October 2008.
Other employment categories posted the following declines compared with September 2009 and October 2009, respectively: executives, officials, and staff assistants (9,101), down 1.01% and 9.84%; maintenance of way and structures (34,622), down 1.36% and 3.96%; maintenance of equipment and stores (28,121), down 0.72% and 7.22%; transportation other than train and engine (6,364), down 2.32% and 4.06%.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday he's "hopefully optimistic" state legislators will support the latest effort to establish SunRail passenger rail service. Crist has maintained support for the proposal despite its repeated defeats in the state legislature, the latest occurring in late spring.
Crist is seeking a special legislative session to reconside rthe rail proposal, which would connect Orlando to Osceola County and West Volusia. Under the plan, the state would recommit to buying CSX right-of-way, a major sticking point for SunRail opponents in the past. The legislature has questioned CSX's negotiating stance requiring Florida to assume liability for all commuter-train-related mishaps, a stance CSX routinely has advanced as at least a starting point in negotiations with other states.
Crist acknowledged the still-extant obstacles to getting SunRail approved. “We need 21 votes, obviously, in the [state] senate to make that happen," he said.
InteRRIS™, the Integrated Railway Remote Information Service safety program launched by the railroad industry in 1997 to implement cutting edge technology, in order to gather data on equipment performance in order to reduce derailments, last week notched subscriber number one million, according to the Association of American Railroads.
"The point of this vast technology system is to improve safety on the 140,000 mile rail network by monitoring the health of rail equipment real-time and detecting problems before an accident or derailment occurs, " said Edward Hamberger, AAR president and CEO (pictured at left). "The system is doing its job; broken wheel derailments are down 10% and bearing related accidents have declined by 25%. We believe the continued expansion of data systems like InteRRIS™ will pay added dividends in terms of enhanced safety and efficiency in the movements of goods across our nation."
InteRRIS™ was developed by the Transportation Center Inc. (TTCI) as a data warehouse for automatically acquiring, storing, and analyzing vehicle performance information. Data is culled from more than 170 wayside detectors located throughout the nationwide system. The system alerts the industry and subscribers (railroads, private car owners, railcar fleet managers) with customizable information about how a vehicle is operating, including car history, wheel performance, truck performance, and hunting data.
As a key support of the Advanced Technology Safety Initiative, InteRRIS™ provides a snapshot of a railcar's strength and fitness and alerts customers to potential problems before they occur,resulting in a more predictive approach to railroad maintenance resolving issues before they become problems or accidents.
Railinc Corp. Tuesday said it has been named a winner at the 2009 NCTA 21 Awards in the category of “Industry Driven Technology Company.” The awards, bestowed annually by the North Carolina Technology Association, honor technology companies and individuals across 21 categories in the Tar Heel State for innovation and excellence.
“Railinc is honored to be recognized among such well-known and respected leaders in the technology industry,” said Allen West, CEO and president. “This award acknowledges the important work that our people do for the freight rail industry, and shows why Railinc is one of the best places to work in North Carolina.”
One day after GE Transportation announced an agreement to provide 300 locomotive assemblies for China HXN5 Mainline locomotives produced by CSR Qishuyan with Evolution® Series diesel engines, the two parties announced “formation of a joint venture company with CSR Qishuyan Locomotive Co., Ltd., a unit of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd., to develop, build, and service GE’s Evolution® Series locomotive diesel engines” in China itself.
The announcement Tuesday, as per the previous one made Monday, was timed to emphasize "GE's Clean Technology Week in China"activities.
The joint venture is scheduled to launch operations at theend of 2011, including the assembly, testing and overhaul of engine components such aspower assemblies and turbochargers in China. During the second phase, starting in 2013, engines as well as components will be assembled, tested, and overhauled.
“This new joint venture directly aligns with GE’s strategicdirection to design, manufacture and service product within the region or country in which they are used,” said Tim Schweikert, president of GE Transportation China. “GE will continue to supply key engine components for the final engine assembly such as turbocharger and fuel injection kits. Providing these key components also helps sustain approximately 120 U.S. manufacturing jobs.”
Erie, Pa.-based GE Transportation, a unit of General Electric Co., says its Chinese joint venture partner has provided more than half of the more than 12,000 diesel locomotives currently in service in the world's most populous nation.
Also Tuesday, GE and China’s Ministry of Railways announcedthat they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly advance high speedrail opportunities in the United States.
Lexington, Mass.-based RailRunner N.A. Inc. has announced the availability of its Model ReeferProTM 100 chassis for temperature-controlled ISO containers, developed specifically for shippers of produce, frozen or refrigerated foods, pharmaceuticals, and other products requiring temperature-controlled transportation.
ReeferPro allows ports, inland terminals, and shippers to no longer rely solely on their own power plugs, hazardous fueling capacities, or other sources of energy for supplying electric power to containers while parked, during road movements or on rail, simplifying both the supply chain and backhaul opportunities, the company says.
The bi-modal ReeferPro 100 chassis provides an air-cushion suspension on rail, especially suitable for sensitive and fragile cargo, up to six-day uninterrupted power supply, and continuous monitoring of fuel supply and GPS location. For modem-equipped containers, ReeferPro can also monitor cargo temperature, humidity, and air circulation. ReeferPro 100 enables a shipper to load a refrigerated container at a farm or food processor and, without requiring any cranes or other expensive lifting equipment, to seamlessly ship by rail and/or road, providing “door-to-door,” same-box, temperature-controlled service, the company says.
“ReeferPro 100 fills an important and unique market need,” said company Chjef Operating Officer Wolfgang Graaff. “Its high security, air-cushioned ride characteristics can serve both domestic and international customers, protecting against product damage and theft.”
Alstom SA has been awarded a 190 million euro ($282 million) contract to supply 74 Citadis light rail vehicles to Casa Transports, the public transport opeator in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city, for the city’s new LRT system. Alstom will build, operate, and maintain the cars.
The contract, stretches over 15 years. Alstom’s Citadis cars, in married pairs, will be similar in configuration to the trainsets it has under construction for use in Rabat, the nation’s capital. The Casablanca cars will begin entering service in December 2012, Alstom says.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released ridership figures showing that all three of its rail operating agencies lost ground in this year's first eight months.
Metro-North Railroad posted the biggest loss, with ridership during the January-August period declining 6.84% to 51.5377 million. The Long Island Rail Road fared a little better, counting 55.486 million riders, a 5.2% decline.
New York City Transit's subways carried 1.042 billion riders, a drop of 3.1%.
While Metro-North had the worst performance in ridership, it was at the top of the class financially.
MTA measures financial performance in two ways. The operating ratio states the percentage of operating costs covered by fares. The farebox recovery ratio states the percentage of fully allocated costs covered by fares.
Metro-North had an operating ratio of 54.1%, followed by NYC Transit with 50%, and LIRR with 43.7%.
The farebox recovery ratios were: Metro-North, 39.2%; NYCTransit, 34.8%; and LIRR, 28.9%.