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Roadway worker protection—preventing casualties or injuries caused by moving trains to maintenance-of-way and bridge workers and signal maintainers operating within their limits of authority—is among the primary requirements of Positive Train Control. Roadway worker limits of authorit ...

The deadline is fast approaching for nominations advocating the stellar short line and regional railroads of 2010; Railway Age is accepting nominations for its annual Short Line/Regional Railroad of the Year competition through Friday, March 5, 2010.

Industry observers, be they suppliers or rail operators themselves, are invited to nominate the short line and/or regional railroad in North America they believe deserves recognition for outstanding performance. Short lines and regionals can nominate themselves. The 2010 winners will be awarded specially designed plaques at the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association Annual Convention inOrlando, Fla., at ASLRRA’s gala dinner Tuesday, May 4.

Articles describing their achievements will appear in Railway Age’s April 2010 issue, which will be distributed at the show. Railway Age will work with the winners to publicize the awards in online and national media, as well as any in-house websites available.

Submit your entries to: Douglas John Bowen, Managing Editor, Railway Age, 345 Hudson Street, 12th Floor, New York, N.Y., 10014. E-mail: dbowen@sbpub.com. Fax:(212) 633-1863. Entries should contain the name, position, and contact information of the nominator and an approximately 500-word description of the achievement(s) of the nominated railroad. (Longer and short descriptions are admissible; 500 words is only a guideline.) Entry forms are may be obtained from Bowen by fax or e-mail. 

--> The deadline is fast approaching for nominations advocating the stellar short line and regional railroads of 2010; Railway Age is accepting nominations for its annual Short Line/Regional Railroad of the Year competition through Friday, March 5, 2010. ...

Lexington, Mass.-based RailRunner, N.A., Inc., Friday announced it has received an investment of $13.4 million through a private placement. U.S. Boston Capital Corp. acted as the placement agent, the company said.

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RailRunner, a developer of rail products and services providing low-cost intermodal transportation options for underserved markets, markets its Terminal Anywhere™ system that enables shippers to maximize the economics of rail-to-truck intermodalism, while linking directly into the international containerized shipping network.

“Our strengthening relationships with rail partners, ocean carriers, and shippers seeking innovative solutions that shift as much freight transport as possible from highways to rail has created significant interest worldwide in the RailRunner system,” said Charles Foskett, RailRunner CEO. “This additional capital will enable RailRunner to capitalize on this significant market opportunity and meet the significant demand for our products and services.”

--> Lexington, Mass.-based RailRunner, N.A., Inc., Friday announced it has received an investment of $13.4 million through a private placement. U.S. Boston Capital Corp. acted as the placement agent, the company said. ...

Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm has been chosen to complete the Yard Automation System at Transnet's Kimberley Yard in South Africa. The automation system will be comprised of RailComm’s DOC® (Domain Operations Controller) server-based central control system and 11 associated outdoor-rated control panels.

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Per Transnet requirements, the system operator is in charge of selecting the appropriate control mode based on desired operatingconditions. Additionally, the system at Kimberley will utilize RailComm RADiANT™data radios to communicate between the office system, the control panels, and a network of power switches. The power switches are controlled by the RailComm Universal Switch Controller, providing customers the ability to utilize any power switch machine on the market.

The RailComm Yard Automation System is designed to increase yard safety and measurably improve yard dwell times and yard throughput.

The DOC® software-based control system is an advanced command, control, communications, and information (C3i) server-based platform that supports a wide variety of integrated solutions for indication, control,access, and distribution of critical operational data.

 

--> Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm has been chosen to complete the Yard Automation System at Transnet's Kimberley Yard in South Africa. The automation system will be comprised of RailComm’s DOC® (Domain Operations Controller) server-based central control ...

Support for a healthy national rail network is vital to sustaining more than a million jobs and powering U.S economic recovery, according to numerous freight rail representatives, their passenger rail counterparts, local business leaders, elected officials, and others (including representatives from Railway Age) who canvassed Capitol Hill Thursday as part of industry’s annual “Railroad Day on Capitol Hill” event.

Washington policymakers were reminded that freight railroads generate nearly $265 billion in total annual economic activity and that every freight rail job supports an additional 4.5 jobs elsewhere in the economy.
 
aar_logo.jpg“Sometimes when new federal polices are formulated, the true impacts on American businesses and consumers are not fully taken into account,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Who better to tell members of Congress of these impacts and importance of freight rail, than the employees, businesses, and local elected officials that work hard every day to deliver on freight rail’s vital role in the nation’s economic recovery.” 

“The federal government encouraged the creation of short line railroads to preserve freight service, and in doing so has facilitated the industry’s growth to 552 short line railroads that support tens of thousands of jobs,” said Richard F. Timmons, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.  “Federal policies like the short line tax credit will enable companies to make over $330 million in track upgrades each year, and support thousands of new jobs in the rail industry.”aslrra_logo_1.jpg

“Supporting funding for rail is a good investment in America’s future,” said Anne Canby, president of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and founding member of OneRail, a coalition advocating for policies for passenger and freight rail. “Improving the nation’s rail infrastructure will create vital jobs, de-congest chokepoints, put more freight and passengers on fuel-efficient trains, and reduce our nation's greenhouse gas emissions.” OneRail brings together freight and passenger rail, transit, environmental, and labor groups. In this vein, Canby urged Congress to continue to make rail-related projects eligible for federal funding, such as infrastructure programs in the jobs bill currently moving through the Senate.
 
“Our community would not be what it is today without the railroads that connect our local manufacturing plants to global markets,” said Mayor Drew Ferguson of West Point, Ga., one of the 23 representatives of Go21 attending Railroad Day. “Access to railroads was a significant factor in Kia’s decision to locate in West Point.” Go21 comprises more than 1,200 state and local policy and business leaders from across the nation who support freight rail as a solution to problems related to highway congestion and the environment.
 
Industry representatives urged members of Congress to support the Investment Tax Credit, epitomized by bipartisan House bill H.R. 1806. The bill calls  fo ra 25% investment tax credit for targeted spending on locomotives, railroad track, intermodal facilities, and other infrastructure projects that expand rail capacity. The bill outlines that any business that makes these investments wouldbe eligible for the tax credit—not just railroads.

Also sought by the rail industry is the Short Line Tax Credit, advancing through both the Senate and the House as  S. 461 and H.R. 1132, respectively. This bill would extend the Section 45G tax credit, which supports over $330 million in infrastructure improvements made each year by short lines, contractors, suppliers, and rail customers. The credit expired on Dec. 31, 2009. 

--> Support for a healthy national rail network is vital to sustaining more than a million jobs and powering U.S economic recovery, according to numerous freight rail representatives, their passenger rail counterparts, local business leaders, elected officials, ...

Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was down slightly during the week ended Feb. 20, in comparison with the corresponding week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads. AAR cited “a sharp drop in coal loadings” as a primaryfactor.

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U.S. railroads originated 273,999 carloads, down 1.6% compared with the same week in 2009, and down 15.3% from 2008.  But intermodal traffic gained sharply in comparison with last year, up 19%, though it still fell 11.1% below the comparable week in 2008. AAR cautioned, though, that the corresponding 2009 week was affected by the Chinese New Year, which has a significant impact on container volume.

West was best for U.S. Class I railroads, where carloads gained 2.2% over 2009, trailing 2008 levels by 10.8%. In the East, carloads fell 7.1% from a year ago, and were 21.5% behind the 2008 period.

Twelve of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were up in comparison with the same week last year. Double-digit increases werereported in loadings of metals (44.6%), motor vehicles and equipment (30.5%), grain (21.9%), metallic ores (17.6%), grain mill products (14.4%), and chemicals (13.7%). Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Feb. 20 was estimated at 29.8 billion ton-miles.

Canadian carloadings were up 9.6% from last year, while intermodal gained 12.5% over 2009 levels. Mexico’s two major railroads reported carload traffic rose 25.3% from the same week last year, while intermodal gained 12.7%.

Combined North American rail volume for the first seven weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 2,442,733 carloads, up 1.8% from last year, and 1,745,653 intermodal trailers and containers, up 5.1% from 2009.

--> Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was down slightly during the week ended Feb. 20, in comparison with the corresponding week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads. AAR cited “a sharp drop in coal loadings” ...

Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica, Inc. Thursday reported a fourth-quarter earnings loss of $12.5 million, or 24 cents per share, compared with the company’s earnings of $6.0 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, for the comparable quarter of 2008. Total net loss, which includes discontinued operations of the company’s Ottawa Valley Railway (OVR), was $6.9 million, compared to net income of $8.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2008.

The results still beat the estimates of Morgan Stanley analysts William Green and John Godyn, who observed that the company’s “operating income of $22.8 million (adding back $6.3 million in non-cash IPO charges and $2.3 million of OVR discontinued operations) exceeded our forecast of $21.4 million.” But, they cautioned, “the combination of RA's OVR sale (and plans to report discontinued operations income), stale consensus estimates, and presence of other below-the-line adjustments in 4Q09 creates downside risk vs. consensus (though frankly we're not sure how consensus will treat all of these adjustments yet).”

Dahlman Rose & Co. Director Equity Research and Railway Age Contributing Editor Jason Seidl believes that RailAmerica’s long term growth prospects “remain favorable as industry volumes continue to recover and the company makes forward steps towards external growth opportunities in a fertile short line acquisition market. [However], in order to build investor confidence, RailAmerica, with its highly capable management team, must prove sound and timely execution by delivering solid results in its existing businesses. While the company has set a 70% operating ratio target for the next few years, we believe that leaves many questions unanswered regarding 2010 and 2011.  Hence, it is a question of when the company will be able to reach its aggressive goal. As such, we remain on the sidelines pending further operational improvements, more definitive outlook, and/or a more compelling entry point.”  

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In a statement, RailAmerica President and Chief Executive Officer John Giles said, "In the fourth quarter we posted solid financial results as we increased Adjusted EBITDA 1% to $33.5 million in a challenging economic environment. Excluding the $6.3 million IPO-related charge our operating income was up 7% for the quarter to $20.5 million. This was a result of our continued focus on running safe railroads and driving operating efficiencies. With the completion of the IPO and the OVR transaction, we have strengthened our balance sheet and are well positioned to pursue external growth opportunities. We will apply the same discipline to strategic investments that we have used over the past three years to improve the company's operational and financial performance."

Giles continued, "Although still evolving, we are encouraged by the recent growth in carloads and have positioned RailAmerica for strong performance as volumes improve. This year, we plan to maintain a sharp focus on our three strategic priorities: delivering organic growth and efficiency gains, strengthening our balance sheet, and capitalizing on external growth opportunities." 

--> Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica, Inc. Thursday reported a fourth-quarter earnings loss of $12.5 million, or 24 cents per share, compared with the company’s earnings of $6.0 million ...

Chicago Transit Authority labor leaders have reacted strongly to CTA management demands for “givebacks,” and have filed work-rule complaints while promising to follow up with lawsuits if necessary.

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The move by the Amalgamated Transit Union, representing CTA bus and rail employees, ended any hope of quickly resolving any service cut issues that affect numerous bus routes, seven of eight rail lines, and more than 1,000 transit employees who lost their jobs and benefits earlier this month. CTA faces a projected $95.6 million budget deficit.

The union filings seeking arbitration on 10 alleged work-rule violations by the CTA will be followed by state and federal lawsuits this week, said Joseph Pass, an attorney for the bus drivers and bus mechanics union, Local 241 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. If the class-action lawsuits are successful, the CTA would be on the hook to pay "millions of dollars" to CTA employees who were required to undergo training without pay, Pass said. The CTA's actions violate the federal Fair Labor Standards Act,he said.

CTA says the charges are unfounded. Employees sign a workbook if they are available to work overtime, CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said. "In other words, employees basically volunteer," she said.

 

--> Chicago Transit Authority labor leaders have reacted strongly to CTA management demands for “givebacks,” and have filed work-rule complaints while promising to follow up with lawsuits if necessary. ...

Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman says the National Railroad Passenger Corp. will require similar liability protection that Florida has offered Class I railroad CSX Corp. if Amtrak is to continue serving central Florida while SunRail regional rail service is established.

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In a letter mailed Monday to the Florida Department of Transportation, Boardman said he was terminating a previous agreement Amtrak had with the state to share tracks with SunRail. In an interview Tuesday ,Boardman voiced concerns over liability if Amtrak and SunRail were involved in an accident. Boardman wants the state to shield Amtrak from some potential lawsuits and claims. "Amtrak can't take the business risk," he said.

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The proposed $1.2 billion regional rail service would include six central Florida counties, with Orlando serving as the hub city. Florida has continued to work with CSX in advancing the regional rail service, which has survived several attacks from opponents within the state legislature. Under the proposal, CSX would sell roughly 61 miles of right-of-way to the state, retaining trackage rights for freight rail operations.

FDOT officials see Boardman's statements a negotiating ploy. So does Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who said Amtrak is "nudging" the state to come to some sort of an agreement. "It's a reminder that this has to be dealt with," said Mica, who has been critical of Amtrak in the past but does believe Amtrak truly might need an improved liability agreement. 

--> Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman says the National Railroad Passenger Corp. will require similar liability protection that Florida has offered Class I railroad CSX Corp. if Amtrak is to continue serving central Florida while SunRail regional rail serv ...

Austin, Tex.’s Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority has set March 1 as a target date to begin test runs of its oft-delayed 32-mile Austin-to-Leander rail line and diesel multiple-unit (DMU) equipment built by Stadler.

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CapMetro said it expects to begin revenue service later in the month. In anticipation, the agency has worked to alert area residents to the impending train traffic, including safety presentations at all school campuses within two miles of the route.

FRA representatives will be on hand to observe and inspect the rail operations, CapMetro spokesman Adam Shaivitz said.

 

--> Austin, Tex.’s Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority has set March 1 as a target date to begin test runs of its oft-delayed 32-mile Austin-to-Leander rail line and diesel multiple-unit (DMU) equipment built by Stadler. ...
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