The Association of American Railroads (AAR) late
Wednesday reported U.S. carloads for the month of January were down 0.7% at
1,056,684 carloads, compared with the same month last year, and down 17.7%
compared with 2008.
January’s intermodal traffic was up 2.5% to
803,275 units compared with January 2009, but still down 11.2% compared with
the same month in 2008.
Time Indicators report, available at www.aar.org, comprises monthly rail
traffic data framed with other key economic indicators to show how freight rail
is tied to the broader U.S. economy.
Thirteen of the 19 commodity categories tracked
by AAR saw year-over-year gains from January 2009, with nonmetallic minerals
seeing the highest gain, up 65.9%. The motor vehicles and parts category
also saw a significant monthly boost, up 65.7% compared with January last year.
However all commodity categories, with the exception of grain mill
products, were down in January when compared with the same month in 2008.
For the first time, AAR also is providing
seasonally adjusted U.S. rail traffic in the Rail Time Indicators report, using January 1988- December 2009
as the basis for the seasonal adjustment. Seasonally adjusted carloads in
January were up 2.6 percent from December 2009, and were the highest of any
month in the past 11 months.
BNSF Thursday said its shareholders had voted overwhelmingly in favor of the company's acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Preliminary results show that approximately 70% of BNSF issued and outstanding shares not owned by Berkshire or its affiliates were voted in favor of the transaction, solidly above the 66-2/3% required.
“Tomorrow begins the first century of ownership of BNSF by Berkshire Hathaway. I’m looking forward to every day of it as our railroad does its part to ensure the future prosperity of the country,” said Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.
Added BNSFChairman, President, and CEO Matt Rose, “We are at an important milestone in our 160-year history. . . . This is a vote of confidence in BNSF and the future of freight rail, and it demonstrates how well our business model is aligned with our new parent company. By providing cost-effective and energy-efficient transportation that also benefits the environment, we are moving the goods that are crucial to consumers and our economy as our nation powers its way out of the recession.”
Chicago Transit Authority’s Board of Directors Wednesday approved issuing up to $550 million in revenue bonds to complete its planned purchase of 406 cars from Bombardier Transportation, with an option to acquire an additional 300 cars if funds become available.
The new cars, ordered in part to replace the existing fleetthat in some cases dates back to 1969, will be equipped with security camerason board, officials said, as well as electronic maps and destination signs. Seatsalso will be both stain- and bacteria-resistant.
CTA has been testing 10 prototype train cars on the system since last year.Officials system since last year. Transit officials want to continue evaluatingthe equipment, spanning all four seasond, before finalizing the order. A decisionis expected by the fall.
More than three-fourths of the Hawaii House of
Representatives has signed a pro-rail letter addressed to Gov. Linda Lingle,
urging her to review and accept a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the
proposed $5.5 billion Honolulu urban rail transit project.
The FEIS has yet to be released by the Federal Transit
Administration, but supporters note the project is the only one in the state
that is “shovel ready,” and fear any delay could jeopardize federal funding.
For her part, Gov. Lingle has questioned the cost of the
project, and has also questioned the preference for an elevated urban transit
system, as have critics of the plan, including pro-rail forces arguing that
light rail transit would be a more desirable and cost-efficient option.
Still struggling to launch its first rail service after
months of delays, Austin, Tex., nonetheless is also weighing a commitment to
light rail transit or streetcar services, including the building of a rail
bridge over Lady Bird Lake.
City Transportation Director Robert Spillar said the bridge
could be built farther east or west, and not necessarily over the lake. Austin and
its consulting engineers are settling on a preferred route and are scheduled to
unveil it Feb. 25 to the City Council. Spillar says the upcoming map will not
specify a route across Lady Bird Lake, instead leaving as possibilities
existing bridges at Congress Avenue or South First Street or a new bridge.
The Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association has announced the the availability of five undergraduate scholarships for tuition assistance in 2010. “This year, we are offering a $5,000 REMSA President's Scholarship Award and four individual scholarships at $2,000 each,” the organization notes.
The REMSA undergraduate scholarship program is open to REMSA member companies only. Information and applications are sent to the REMSA representative of each member company, usually at the beginning of eachcalendar year. Representatives are responsible for disseminating REMSA scholarship program information to employees, and students are invited to call REMSA directly, (703) 341-8514, to request scholarship information.
To be eligible for consideration, an applicant must: be a full-time employee or the spouse, son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of a current full-time employee of a a REMSA member; be enrolled and in attendance at the time of application as a full-time college student at an accredited two-year college offering an associate's degree or an accredited college or university offering a bachelor's degree; and demonstrate successful completion of the previous year of study and a willingness to continue.
San Francsico officials, including representatives from the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency (SFMTA), Wednesday marked the start of construction of the Central Subway, Phase II of the city’s Third Street Light Rail Project.
The 1.7-mile, $1.6 billion extension of the existing LRT line, tunneling under Chinatown, “represents adramatic investment in San Francisco´s transportation future," said Mayor Gavin Newsom. "Tens of thousands of residents and visitors will use this environmentally friendly subway to get to work, school, and to see their families and friends.""It is incredibly gratifying to see construction begin on the Central Subway," said SFMTA Executive Director/CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. "We appreciate the tremendous amount of support from federal, state, and local officials and the incredible efforts of so many community partners who are helping to make this project a reality."
The extension is slated to open for service in 2018.
The Department of Energy on Tuesday withdrew 116 water applications it had filed with the Nevada State Engineer for building a rail line to haul nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, Nev., signaling the end of an effort by the government to establish the line to serve the proposed waste site.
“This is the first card in hopefully a domino of cards that is ready to fall,” said Nevada Senior Deputy Attorney General Marta Adams.
The letter from DOE Federal Project Director Ned B. Larson to State Engineer Tracy Taylor said the department does not intend to pursue the Caliente rail line water applications “in light of recent developments.” The statement appears to reflect the Obama Administration's plan to zero out funding for the project and Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s announcement that the department would withdraw the license application within 30 days. A review of the license application by nuclear regulators has been suspended temporarily.
DOE filed the Caliente rail line water requests on Jan. 20, 2009, the day President Obama took office. Nevada filed its protests on April 1. Yucca Mountain was the only site being considered for a national nuclear waste repository.
More than 500,000 rail riders on Virgin Train’s West Coast Main Line in Britain have logged onto the new high speed wireless internet service, with the number of monthly users increasing, to over 90,000, according to communication provider Nomad Digital.
In addition, Nomad Digital says, “Hotspot” service, provided by Nomad Digital and partner T-Mobile, which allows Virgin rail travelers Internet access, email, and other applications, will be upgraded soon to enable simultaneous use of multiple data channels, thus increasing the available bandwidth to passengers.
Customers who subscribe to the T-Mobile Broadband "pay monthly’ service can access the Internet at no extra cost. First Class passengers receive complimentary access, while other passengers can purchase Hotspot passes online from their Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
Nomad Digital Chairman Nigel Wallbridge said, “We are delighted with the popularity of this service which replicates the success we have had in providing the world’s first-ever rail broadband Wi-Fi on the London to Brighton route, on all Heathrow Express trains, and on public transport systems in the U.S., continental Europe, and the Middle East. The introduction of bandwidth aggregation will allow us to give an even better service to passengers.’’
Graham Leech, executive director, Commercial, for Virgin Trains, said, “The Hotspot service allows Virgin Trains passengers to make even better use of their time when traveling.”
Bombardier Transportation said Wednesday it will supply 18 additional doubledeck coaches to Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) AG. The order isworth approximately 24 million euros ($33 million). DB AG is exercising an option from a 2003 framework agreement, “comprising the delivery of 298 double-deck coaches as well as an option for a further 300 double-deck coaches,” Bombardier said.
The additional cars will be used by DB Regio in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and in Baden-Württemberg; the cars are expected toenter into service beginning in December.
DB Regio NRW GmbH will receive 13 double-deck coaches with high-floor entrances. These coaches include air conditioning systems, convenient luggage racks, and wider entrance areas.
DB Regio AG in Baden-Württemberg will receive five double-deck intermediate coaches with low-floor entrances. These coaches willbe in use on the Stuttgart-Karlsruhe and Stuttgart-Singen routes, and have multipurpose compartments with space for wheelchairs, children’s strollers, and bulky luggage. The coaches for Baden-Württemberg will also be equipped with electronic displays for information and entertainment as well as exterior loudspeakers.
Bombardier says all coaches will feature LED lighting, which save energy, while indirect lighting will ensure a pleasant ambience for passengers. Bombardier will produce the cars at its plant in Gorlitz, Germany.