Author: William C. Vantuono

With Railway Age since 1992, William C. Vantuono has broadened and deepened the magazine's coverage of the technological revolution that is so swiftly changing the industry. He has also strengthened Railway Age’s leadership position in industry affairs with the conferences he conducts, among them Next-Generation Train Control, Light Rail, and Rail Insights. He is the author or co-author or editor of several books, among them All About Railroading; John Armstrong’s The Railroad: What It Is, What It Does; Railway Age’s Comprehensive Railroad Dictionary; and Planning, Engineering, and Operating Light Rail, With Applications in New Jersey.

CABT Report: Bigger Trucks a Bad Idea

The threats to public safety, the environment and the nation’s infrastructure created by allowing trucks larger than the current federal limits have been quantified by a new study released by the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT). “Increasing the size and weight limits of trucks on the nation’s highways would divert a potentially huge amount of goods from rail to roads, further damaging the nation’s infrastructure, causing greater environmental harm and undermining highway safety,” the study says.

FRA RD&T Aims to Assist First-Responders

FRA’s Office of Research Development & Technology (RD&T) is sponsoring a research project titled “Assessing the Safety Benefits of a Real‐Time Railroad Crossing Blockage Information System for Emergency Responders.” As part of the project, the agency has contracted Winnipeg, Manitoba-based TRAINFO to develop a model to identify the risk of first responders being exposed to active rail crossings and to quantify benefits of live rail crossing data in the overall emergency response process.

Metro-North: Forgot Your Mask? Need Hand Sanitizer? No Problem, We’ll Sell It To You

MTA Metro-North Railroad has reconfigured vending machines at 12 stations throughout its commuter rail system to allow customers to purchase PPE (personal protective equipment) KN95 masks, bottled hand sanitizer and gloves at the machines starting July 10, though “free masks and hand sanitizer are still being distributed at stations and on trains for any rider that needs them,” the agency said.

NJT: Goodbye, Ticket Punch. Hello, Scanner

The manual ticket puncher has been a railroad conductor’s stock-in-trade tool for generations. On legacy systems like New Jersey Transit, which traces its roots to fallen flags like the Pennsylvania Railroad and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, paper tickets are still in use, though they are fast being replaced with mobile phone apps. NJT has now begun a program to equip conductors with high-tech handheld mobile devices that scan and validate both paper and electronic tickets and passes.

GBX Fiscal 3Q2020: “Liquidity Target Achieved, Backlog Provides Forward Visibility” as Furman Postpones Retirement

The Greenbrier Companies, Inc., in its third fiscal quarter ended May 31, 2020, achieved its $1 billion liquidity target and generated operating cash flow in excess of $220 million, with a backlog of an estimated value of $2.7 billion. Concurrently, the company reported that Bill Furman will remain as Chairman and CEO for another two years.

Fitch Ratings for NYMTA: TRBs “A+”; BANs “F1”; Outlook “Negative”

Fitch Ratings has assigned a rating of “A+” to approximately $600 million of Transportation Revenue Bonds (TRB) Series 2020D (Mandatory Tender Bonds) and a rating of “F1” to $500 million of transportation revenue Series 2020B Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs) to be issued by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The bonds and BANs will be sold via negotiation; the sale date and principal amount are both subject to market conditions. Proceeds will finance existing approved transit and commuter projects. Fitch has affirmed at “A+” approximately $24.4 billion of outstanding TRBs. The Rating Outlook is Negative.

Defining Private Railcar Storage Best Practices

There are things the regulators don’t tell you about marshaling and storing freight cars, such as how to detect rail head wear. Most railroad executives would not know how to do this. This commentary will include a few pointers that your favorite Class I railroad salesperson won’t typically pass on as business intelligence. Bad things can and do occasionally happen in rail yards. Therefore, it is prudent risk management to consider these matters ahead of time.