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British-based Nomad Digital has signed a £1.5 million ($2.3 billion) contract with Swiss train manufacturer Stadler Bussnang AG to equip 50 new FLIRT trains with its high speed broadband communications system for Norwegian State Railways (NSB).

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Nomad said it already provides NSB (Norges Statsbaner) with services on its existing trains, including passenger Internet access and onboard entertainment.  Numerous innovative applications will beincluded on the new fleet of Stadler FLIRT electric trains, Nomad said. NSB will use Nomad’s system to monitor energy usage, while Stadler will use the system to monitor on-train systems to support on-going maintenance.

Nomad’ssystem provides a seamless broadband connection of up to 5MB per second, allowing a moving train to switch between a number of different Norwegian mobile operators. NSB passengers are able to access a portal page for real time journey and key destination information. The portal also offers a sophisticated passenger information system, access to the Internet, and entertainment such as films, games, and music.

Nomad Executive Chairman Nigel Wallbridge said: “This deal with Stadler and NSB represents another breakthrough for Nomad Digital. We are delighted to be an integral part of anew build train. NSB is a train operator that has a clear policy of using IP data connections to the train for many purposes.  Not only do we offer a range of sophisticated passenger service options but NSB also makes savings on energy usage, maintenance turnaround times, and downtime.”

Kjell-Arthur Abrahamsen, NSB project manager, said “NSB haveevaluated a wide range of suppliers in the market before we concluded that the Nomad was the best overall. In particular, we emphasize Nomad’s expertise to deliver forward-looking solutions based on standardized components.”

--> British-based Nomad Digital has signed a £1.5 million ($2.3 billion) contract with Swiss train manufacturer Stadler Bussnang AG to equip 50 new FLIRT trains with its high speed broadband communications system for Norwegian State Railways (NSB). ...
The Association of American Railroads reported Thursday that freight volume on U.S. railroads continues to show signs of recovery, with both carload and intermodal traffic registering gains from last year during the week ended March 6. ...
RailAmerica, Inc., reported that its total freight carloads for the month ended February 28, 2010 were 66,409, up 1.4% from 65,488 in February 2009. These results exclude the discontinued Ottawa Valley Railway operation. ...

Oscar Munoz, CSX Corp. chief financial officer, told a J.P. Morgan conference in New York Tuesday that the railroad is moving toward “double-digit” earnings growth this year, a forecast based on a combination of traffic growth and price increases of at least 4% to 5%.

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Munoz said traffic was up 3% in this year's first nine weeks. Intermodal, which accounts for 34% of CSX business, was up 12%, and general merchandise, which accounts for 37% of the total, was up 7%. While coal, which brings in 24%, was down 17% year-to-date, Munoz said he expected coal to end up well in the plus column by year’s end, driven partly by China’s rising metallurgical coal needs.

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Deborah H. Butler. Norfolk Southern’s executive vice president of planning and chief information officer, told the conference that freight volume on NS was up 6% year-to-date. General merchandise is up 14% and intermodal volume is up 8%, though coal volume remains down 8%. Her presentation dealt mainly with capacity growth plans involving several high-volume corridors NS is developing in partnerships with federal and state governments; altogether, she said, NS will devote more than one-fourth of a $1.4 billion capital spending program to growth projects.

Munoz examined the trends behind the growth now forecast and described how the railroad will respond.

Gross Domestic Product is expected to grow 3.0% this year, with industrial production rising 4.3%. Last year, GDP fell 3.4% and industrial production was down 9.7%.

A more efficient railroad is in place to move the returning traffic, said Munoz, which means that “as volume builds, resources will return less than 1-for-1.”

These are the idle resources now available to CSX:

* Train & Engine employees furloughed now add up to1,529, 14% of the total.

* Locomotives in storage total 407, 10% of the fleet.

* Freight cars stored—15,864—represent 20% of the total.

 

 

--> Oscar Munoz, CSX Corp. chief financial officer, told a J.P. Morgan conference in New York Tuesday that the railroad is moving toward “double-digit” earnings growth this year, a forecast based on a combination of traffic growth and price ...

The Association of American Railroads said Wednesday that carload traffic for 14 of the 19 major commodity groups was higher last month than in February 2009. Excluding coal carloads, which were down 9.9%, U.S. carloads in February 2010 were up 7.2% over February 2009.

Intermodal traffic was up 10.1% in February compared with the same month last year, though down 10.6% from the same month in 2008.

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“Rail traffic trends over the past few months, especially when you take out coal, are consistent with a slowly recovering economy,” said John Gray, AAR’s senior vice president of Policy and Economics. “Other economic indicators taken as a whole seem to be saying the same thing. Is a sustained recovery a sure thing? No, not yet, but prospects are certainly much brighter now than they were four or five months ago.”

Gray said the last week of February was the highest-volume week for U.S. rail carloads since December 2008, at least partly due to “catchup” traffic following record snowstorms earlier in the month.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, rail carloads in February fell 0.1% compared with January 2010, while seasonally adjusted U.S. intermodal traffic was down 3.6% in February compared to the prior month.

“Adjusting for seasonal issues that cause peaks or valleys in traffic—such as end-of-year holidays and the fall grain harvest—allows us to see more clearly the strength or weakness of the underlying demand for rail traffic,” Gray noted. “Over the past six months, the upward trend in seasonally adjusted rail traffic indicates an increase in underlying demand.”

--> The Association of American Railroads said Wednesday that carload traffic for 14 of the 19 major commodity groups was higher last month than in February 2009. Excluding coal carloads, which were down 9.9%, U.S. carloads in February 2010 were up ...

Railway Age magazine Wednesday named Greenville & Western Railway Co. LLC the 2010 Short Line Railroad of the Year, and the Northern Plains Railroad its 2010 Regional Railroad of the Year. The awards will be presented at the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday evening, May 4.

“This year’s two winners not only excelled despite economic turmoil; they found ways to take advantage of it and to prosper,” says Railway Age Publisher Robert P. DeMarco. “The award winners both had a vision and a plan, and not only reassured existing customers on their lines but actively courted new ones with strong marketing efforts. Combined with the cooperation and coordination with their respective Class I partners, the winners cultivated customer relationships, invested in infrastructure and property assets, and kept tabs on the growing market for ‘green’ growth, which the U.S. railroad industry is ideally positioned to leverage.”

Greenville, S.C.-based Greenville & Western Railway runs 12.74 miles through Anderson County; the company acquired the route from CSX in 2006, inheriting online traffic of fewer than 100 carloads annually. Intensive work on right-of-way, and a strategic purchase of 38.3 acres to encourage storage facilities for oil and ethanol products, helped propel the short line’s volume to 1,872 revenue carloads in 2009—an increase of 130% over a two-year period.

Besides being recognized by Railway Age, GRLW this year also is being honored by CSX Transportation at the Class I railroad’s 2010 Short Line Workshop for notching the largest percentage of growth, on a line-haul basis, between 2008 and 2009.

Fordville, N.D.-based Northern Plains Railroad, the 2010 Regional Railroad of the Year, began operations in 1997, currently leasing 388 miles of track in North Dakota and Minnesota from Canadian Pacific Railway. NPR is a key player in moving the region’s agricultural products, particularly grain, to market, positioning the railroad for potential ethanol market opportunities. But NPR’s “green” growth already includes wind energy component traffic, a joint business arrangement with Union Pacific Railroad. NPR interfaces with Canadian Pacific and with BNSF.

Mother Nature in 2009 didn’t reward NPR for its environmental efforts, however; extensive flooding during the spring of 2009 caused by the Red River forced the railroad to suspend service for 26 days and took a toll on revenue and customer service. Despite that, the regional railroad ended the year nearly equaling its carload traffic record, and the railroad anticipates resetting its record books this year.

Both Greenville & Western Railway, the Short Line Railroad of the Year, and the Northern Plains Railroad, the Regional Railroad of the Year, will be featured in Railway Age’s April 2010 issue.

--> Railway Age magazine Wednesday named Greenville & Western Railway Co. LLC the 2010 Short Line Railroad of the Year, and the Northern Plains Railroad its 2010 Regional Railroad of the Year. The awards will be presented at the American Short L ...

STV, Inc. announced Wednesday that Joseph F. North has joined the company as avice president and project manager for operations, safety and security in thefirm's Transportation and Infrastructure Division. North reports to ChristopherJ. Holliday, P.E., senior vice president and national leader of STV's systemsand security practices; he is based in the company’s Newark, N.J., office.

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Northwill head up several projects, including STV's work on a proposed rail route insouthern New Jersey being advanced by the Delaware River Port Authority and thestrategic guidance for the Triangle Transit Authority's compliance with FederalRailroad Administration regulations. North also will work to increase themarket presence of STV's security services.

A 34-year veteran of public transportation, with both public- and private-sectorexperience in the operations and maintenance of light rail, regional rail, busoperations, and paratransit systems, North most recently served as New JerseyTransit’s general manager of operations for Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit,Newark Light Rail, and the RiverLINE. North also has worked at the Bi-StateDevelopment Agency in St. Louis and Metropolitan Transportation Authority NewYork City Transit, and was a principal of a major management consulting firmfor seven years.

--> STV, Inc. announced Wednesday that Joseph F. North has joined the company as avice president and project manager for operations, safety and security in thefirm's Transportation and Infrastructure Division. North reports to ChristopherJ. Holliday, P.E., senior ...
--> New Jersey Transit’s RiverLINE diesel light railway system, operated by Bombardier Transportation, today marked five years (1,890 days) without a single lost-time injury. The RiverLINE, which on March 15 marks six years of revenue service, “continues to exceed contractual ontime performa ...

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had a “little bit of political advice” for the airline industry Tuesday.

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“Don’t be against high speed rail,” LaHood said. “It’s coming to America. This is the President’s vision, this is the Vice President’s vision, this is America’s vision. We’re going to get into the high speed rail business.’’

“People want alternatives,’’ he said. “People are still going to fly, but we need alternatives. So get with the program.”

LaHood (pictured at left) made these comments in a Q&A session as he addressed the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual forecasting conference in Washington, D.C. The first questioner wanted to know why the administration was giving $8 billion to high speed rail.

--> Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had a “little bit of political advice” for the airline industry Tuesday. ...

Exactly one year ago, on March 9, 2009, the stock market hit its lowest point of the recession, and it was an abyss. Many blue chips had lost half or more of their value in the most severe bear market in 80 years.

On the anniversary of that day, stocks on the average have come back more than 65% in price. How have the railroads fared?

Far better than the average, for the most part.

A year ago today, Norfolk Southern shares bottomed at $26.69. They rose to $54.00 in mid-afternoon trading today, up 102.39% in a year.

CSX shares went from $20.00 a year ago to around $50.00 today, up 147.5%.

The price of a Union Pacific share bounded from $33.28 to $71.22,a 114% increase.

Kansas City Southern took the worst battering during the bear market, dropping to $12.15, and recovered most spectacularly, rising 195% to reach $36.16 on March 9, 2010.

In Canada, CN shares went from $29.57 to $56.29, up 90.3%; CP increased from $25.14 to $54.20, up 117.6%.

 

--> Exactly one year ago, on March 9, 2009, the stock market hit its lowest point of the recession, and it was an abyss. Many blue chips had lost half or more of their value in the most severe bear market in 80 years.On the anni ...
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