As Washington, D.C. struggles to plant its first new streetcar line within the district’s northeast quadrant, planners are considering a new 1.8-mile streetcar route along 14th Street, Northwest, tying the proposal to both a redeveloped Washington Metro bus garage and economic development.
The proposed route would traverse several middle-income communities, including Petworth, 16th Street Heights, Brightwood Park, and Crestwood. The century-old Metro bus garage, which D.C. government planners consider “potentially historic,” spans two blocks between 14th Street and Iowa Avenue.
A solicitation for a contractor to lead a study of the corridor closed June 10. The winner will be announced by the end of July. The contractor will be asked to develop t a vision and strategy for the 14th Street route that enlivens retail, creates greener public spaces, and redevelops key “opportunity sites,” such as the bus garage.
The proposed 14th Street route currently is not included in the district’s long-range streetcar plan, which envisions eight lines totaling 37 route miles.
Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Monday CSX will be expanding its Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) system located at the Class I railroad’s Boyles Yard in Birmingham, Ala.
RailComm will provide modifications to the existing DOC® Server to add graphical control for additional switch and gate locations. RailComm’s 2.4 GHz RADiANT™ data radios will provide a wireless communications network to link the office with the field locations.
Transportation experts say the budget-squeezed British government could reap as much as 1.5 billion pounds ($2.23 billion) from the planned sale of HS1 Ltd, which has a 30-year concession to run state-owned 110-kilometer (62-mile) High Speed 1 line which links central London to the Channel Tunnel.
The line also serves Stratford in east London and Ebbsfleet and Ashford in Kent.
Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond announced the sale on Monday. The line is currently operated by the government-owned London and Continental Railways.
“The money generated by this sale will make an early significant contribution to the crucial task of reducing the publicsector debt,” Hammond said. “But the sale will also bring benefits to passengers as the successful private bidder will be incentivised to attract new operators serving new routes.”
The government said Channel tunnel operator Groupe Eurotunnel SA is working on a bid with Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners, its biggest shareholder, and with Infracapital, the infrastructure arm of Prudential unit M&G, another big shareholder.
Other sources said potential bidders could include funds such as 3i Infrastructure Plc; Deutsche Bank’s RREEF unit; Morgan Stanley Infrastructure; and Borealis Infrastructure, a unit of Canadian pension plan Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
France’s SNCF and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn may also be interested.
“The Government does not have to run everything directly,” said Hammond, the new Conservative government’s transport chief. “We need totake prompt action where private enterprise can provide both a better deal anda superior service to the public.”
While U.S. Class I railroad employment continues its slow recovery from the depths of the economic downturn last year, the numbers remain significantly below pre-recession levels, a study of Surface Transportation Board reports for the last three years reveals.
The latest report, released by the STB Thursday, shows that total Class I employment in May 2010, 149,067, was down by 1.04% from May 2009 but off 10.13% from May 2008’s total of 165,269.
Operating crew employment has been hardest hit. May 2010’s figure of 58,764 was up 14.9% from last May but down 14.5% from May 2008’s 68,739.
Maintenance of way and structures, an activity that a well-kept and safe railroad finds hard to cut, fared far better. The May 2010 number, 34,443, was up 0.22% from April 2010 and down only 1.5% from May 2008’s 35,689.
Maintenance of equipment and stores employment, 28,139 in May this year, was down 4.80% from April and off 7.4% from May 2008.
Employment in the transportation (other than train and engine) group, 6,494 in May 2010, was down 0.86% from April and off 1.6% from May 2008.
The Association of American Railroads Friday announced its release of the 2010 edition of the Freight Commodity Statistics publication, which presents comprehensive 2009 data for Class I railroad traffic by commodity.
More than 450 commodities ranging from motor vehicles to watermelons are outlined in the report, broken down into U.S., East, and Western regional carloads and tonnage originated, terminated, and carried. AAR’s Freight Commodity Statistics report is available for purchase in bothprint and online versions. To order copies of the book, visit the AAR Website at pubs.aar.org/pubstores/ and click on the online catalog link under AAR.
Phoenix-area regional transit planners expect to recommend a 2.5-mile streetcar line, and not a light rail extension, to serve Tempe, Ariz.Along Mill and Southern avenues.
If accepted by the Tempe City Council, Tempe would become the second Arizona city, after Tucson, to pursue a modern streetcar operation.
The city has considered both an extension of Valley Metro’s light rail line, and also Bus Rapid Transit, but funding for both options is not in place due in part to lower sales tax revenue caused by recession, according to Valley Metro Rail Project Development Director Wulf Grote. Financial constraints are affecting the streetcar option as well, but so far has delayed plans for completion by only one year (from 2015 to 2016).
Supporters hope to tap regional tax revenue and federal funds from the Small Starts program overseen by the Federal Transit Administration, Grote said. Small Starts could provide $75 million, or about 46%, of the $162 million estimated initial cost of the project.
Operating costs for the line are estimated at $3.1 million per year. But planners believe the benefit to the city’s economy would be about 1.3 times the cost, Grote said.
Union Pacific has made Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s 2010 list of the of the 50 top-performing stocks, with a five-year return of 127.9%. UP is ranked No. 44. During the same period— March 31, 2005 to March 31, 2010—the S&P 500 Index returned 10%.
“While we are proud of our performance over the past five years, which includes one of the biggest downturns the U.S. economy has ever seen, we know the importance of remaining focused on safety, service, and efficiency,” said UP Chairman and CEO Jim Young (pictured at left). “We continue to introduce valuable products and services for our customers. These and other long-term capital investments support our growth strategy and help Union Pacific reward shareholders.”
The Association of American Railroads reports that for the week ended June 12, intermodal traffic on U.S. railroads totaled 223,075 trailers and containers, up 17.7% from last year and down only 2.3% from pre-recession 2008.
U.S. carriers originated 288,973 carloads in the latest week, up 10.5% from the comparable week in 2009 but still down still down 10.3% from the same week in 2008.
Sixteen of 19 carload commodity groups were up from last year, led by an 88.9% jump in metals. Strong increases were also seen inmetallic ores, 57%; coke, 49.2%; motor vehicles and equipment, 36.5%; and waste and scrap materials, 32.4%. Groups posting decreases included pulp, paper and allied products, down 7.5%; farm products, down 5.1%; and grain mill products, down 0.7%.
Canadian railroads reported 73,703 carloads for the week, up 28%, and intermodal volume of 51,334 trailers or containers, up 31.5%. Mexican railroads reported volume of 15,108 cars, up 22.9% from the same week last year, and 6,655 trailers or containers, up 39.5%.
Total North American rail volume for the first 23 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads came to 8,463,154 carloads, up 10.2% from last year, and 5,940,938 trailers and containers, up 12%.
Austin, Tex.’s Capitol Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors Thursday unanimously named Linda S. Watson as its new CEO. Watson was one of two finalists, given the nod over Deborah Wathen Finn, president of The Wathen Group, a New York-based consultancy.
Watson currently heads the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority in Orlando, Fla. She and the Cap Metro board still must agree on contract specifics.
Cap Metro hired the firm Gilbert Tweed last January to conduct a national search for CEO; Gilbert Tweed received 110 applications.
After repeated delays, Cap Metro last March launched its initial 32-mile commuter rail line, using six Stadler-Bussnag diesel-multiple unit (DMU) trains.