The Florida Coalition for Safe Highways asked Gov. Charlie Crist Monday to veto a bill that it said would make highways less safe as well as “subsidize the trucking industry and require local and state governments to spend approximately $150.7 million annually to compensate the infrastructure damage that would result from heavier trucks.”
Passed in the final hours of the 2010 legislative session, House Bill 1271 went to the governor’s desk late on Friday. The coalition said “lobbyists for powerful trucking companies” inserted language increasing the legal load from 80,000 to 88,000 pounds.
The coalition said that based on a 2000 U.S. Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, the additional 8,000 pounds world make trucks "more difficult to control and more likely to be involved in a serious accident."
Veto of the bill was also urged by Steve Casey, executive director at the Florida Sheriffs Association; Fraser Howe, PE, chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) committee, which published a 2008 Report Card on Florida's Infrastructure; and Tom Guilmet, the executive director of the Florida Safety Council.
Amtrak said Thursday that officials from Virginia Railway Express have asked it to continue operating VRE trains beyond June 28, when Amtrak’s contract was to expire. VRE acknowledged the request, while also alluding that Amtrak was obstructing the transition of operations.
Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said Amtrak wants to help VRE and ensure VRE passengers are not negatively impacted by the “inability” of contractor Keolis Rail Services America to start operations. However, he said, if Keolis is unable to meet its contractual obligations, then VRE should re-bid the contract.
Keolis Rail Services America last October was chosen to VRE to assume operations. But VRE Chairman Paul Milde reportedly said VRE has asked Amtrak for breathing room because Amtrak is interfering with the transition. He also said VRE has asked members of Congress to intervene in the matter, claiming Amtrak was hindering the transition process.
For its part, “We are prepared to take over service on the 28th,” said Gregg Baxter, Keolis Rail Services America general manager.
Keolis Rail Services America is part of the Keolis Group, based in Paris.
CSX Corp. on Thursday announced the appointment of William Clement to succeed Jim Hertwig as president of CSX Intermodal when Hertwig retires at the end of June.
CSX said that Clement, currently assistant vice president ofsales and marketing for CSX Intermodal, “has made significant contributions in a wide variety of operational, analytical, and commercial roles within the intermodal business over the past 20 years.”
“Bill Clement brings the right combination of experience, customer relationships, and strong leadership abilities to this job,” said Clarence Gooden, CSX executive vice president of sales and marketing and chief commercial officer. “Our intermodal service offering is ideally positioned to meet our customers’ evolving supply chain requirements while addressing the environmental concerns of our customers and nation.”
The board of directors of Canadian Pacific Railway on Thursday approved a C$70 million (US$66 million) increase in capital spending in 2010. CP now plans to invest between C$750 million and C$800 million (US$710 million and US$757 million) on capital improvement programs this year.
The board also declared an increase in CP’s next quarterly dividend to C$0.27 per share from C$0.2475 per share, payable on July 26, 2010, to holders of record at the close of business on June 25, 2010.
“The improving economy, our strong balance sheet and solid earnings and free cash flows have enabled us to expand our capital programs totake advantage of growth and productivity opportunities,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kathryn McQuade. “CP’s strong franchise showed resilience through the recession and this dividend increase continues our trend of dividend growth aligned with earnings growth.”
Union Pacific and GATX Corp. recently completed an ethanol rail safety conference, instructing about 85 attendees representing more than 30 ethanol shippers. UP and GATX educated customers on the railroad’s safety and security measures. Key areas of focus included non-accident release reduction, emergency response techniques, and safe loading and unloading procedures.
“Safety is one of our core values and hosting this conference gave us the opportunity to teach ethanol shippershow they can embrace the same safety focus that supports our commitment to provide safe, efficient and reliable service to our customers,” said Paul Hammes, Union Pacific vice president and general manager-Agricultural Products. “Union Pacific is proud to be part of an industry that safely delivers more than 99.99% of hazmat shipments to their destination without a release caused by a train accident.”
GATX provided a tank car for the hands-on training session that demonstrated safe practices for transferring ethanol to tank cars.
The conference also featured a panel discussion with industry safety experts, including representatives from Union Pacific, the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition, and the Federal Railroad Administration.
A.W. (Bill) Johnston, who retired as vice president of operations and maintenance for the Association of American Railroads in 1988 and served before that as a Baltimore & Ohio operating officer, died May 16 in Pawleys Island, S.C. He was 85.
Johnston was known industry-wide for representing the railroad industry on the Presidential Emergency Board appointed to handle the explosive "fireman off" issue in the 1960s. He also served on a PEB investigating a shopcraft dispute, and he was a consultant to the Federal Railroad Administration on the Triad Missile Defense System (rail, sea, and air).
Intermodal traffic on U.S.railroads reached its highest level since late 2008, and carload freight traffic also rose, in the week ended May 15, 2010, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. Eighteen of the 19 commodity groups listed by AAR posted gains.
U.S. carload freight rose 16.6% from the comparable week in 2009, still down 11.9% from the comparable 2008 period. Intermodal traffic gained 15.2% from last year but still trailed 2008 by 6.7%. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 16.8% while trailer volume rose 6.9%.
AAR noted that among the 18 carload commodity groups showing increases from last year, 14 experienced significant percentage gains, led by a 140.9% increase in loadings of metallic ores. Loadings of metals were up 82.9%, coke jumped 49%, and waste and scrap rose 31.1%.
Canadian carload traffic rose 36.4% from the comparable period in 2009, and intermodal notched a 20.3% increase. Mexico’s two major railroads reported carload freight increased 14.8%, while intermodal rose 18.9%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 19 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 9.3% from last year, while intermodal rose 10.7%.
Robert Pattison, a former vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff and also a former president of the Long Island Rail Road, died May 12 at age 88.
Pattison’s railroad career spanned four decades and included positions in freight and passenger rail operation, administration, and engineering, as well as overseeing the LIRR from 1976 to 1978. At PB, he was the technical director of railway engineering operations, both domestic and international, responsible for technical review for all the firm's rail projects. This review included rehabilitation of railroads, new coal haul railroads, studies of freight rates, sale of railroads and railroad operations, design of rail facilities, structural projects, and several high speed rail projects.
Pattison also served as general manager of the Penn Central-Conrail Railroad from 1972 to 1976, responsible for the operations of the metropolitan region, which included the commuter operation between Grand Central Terminal in New York City and various points in New York State and Connecticut. He began his railroad career with the New York Central Railroad in 1947; from 1961 to 1972 he served as assistant general manager in charge of complete regional railroad operations.
A founding member of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, Pattison was involved with U.S. HSR efforts initiated by Penn Central’s Metroliner service on the Northeast Corridor.
Pattison earned a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Illinois. His professional affiliations included the American Railway Engineering Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, High Speed Rail/Maglev Association, the MOLES, National Defense Transportation Association, Newcomen Society, New England Railroad Club, New York Railroad Club, Railway Tie Association, Roadmasters and Maintenance-of-Way Association of America, and the Society of American Military Engineers.
In an apparent about-face, New York City’s Department of Transportation, long known for being averse to light rail and streetcar options and opportunities, seeks to choose a consultant this summer to studyrestoration of a streetcar route in the Red Hook waterfront area of Brooklyn. Red Hook, an old manufacturing and shipping district now enjoying a resurgence, is sparsely served by buses, but is generally acknowledged to be “underserved” by rail transit; the nearest subway stop on the F line is more than a mile away.
NYCDOT’s study could also look at extending the proposed one-mile route another half-mile east, directly to New York City Transit’s massive transit hub at Borough Hall in Brooklyn. NYCDOT will fund the study through a $300,000 federal grant appropriated in 2005.
The route has been advocated by the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association, a citizens group, for at least a decade; BHRA’s president, Bob Diamond, has promoted the idea for an even longer period. Diamond says the streetcar project would cost up to $15 million. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), who supports the effort, says she has sought $10 million in additional federal funding for the project.