Under the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, Railway Age and Railway Track & Structures are pleased to present a complimentary virtual version of our popular Light Rail Conference, featuring some of industry’s top practitioners and technology suppliers—innovators all.
Author: William C. Vantuono
The Association of American Railroads now has 37 mostly painful weeks of traffic data. The decline, driven by a sputtering global economy suffering from the impacts of COVID-19, the worst health crisis since the 1918 H1N1 pandemic, saw total traffic (carload and intermodal) fall 10.5% in North America—11.2% in the U.S., 8.1% in Canada (where the coronavirus appears to be under much better control than its neighbor to the south), and 9.6% in Mexico.
Union Pacific was listed on the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 15, 1870, one year and four months after the Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, to complete the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. To mark the 150th anniversary of its NYSE listing as UNP, UP officials virtually rang the Closing Bell at 4:00 p.m. EDT on Sept. 15, 2020.
For the first time in the nearly 200-year-old history of North American railroading, a woman has been named chief executive of a Class I railroad. On Jan. 1, 2021, BNSF Executive Vice President Operations Kathryn M. “Katie” Farmer will succeed Carl R. Ice as President and Chief Executive Officer. She will also assume leadership of BNSF’s Board of Directors. Ice will retire at the end of 2020 and remain on the company’s board.
Three aspiring young railroaders are among the recipients of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society’s inaugural scholarships, which are named in honor of the R&LHS members who generously made these scholarships possible. The awardees are graduate and undergraduate university students studying aspects of railroad history and operations.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Federal Railroad Administration, has awarded Greenville, S.C.-based VisioStack, Inc. Phase I and II SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grants for two projects tasked with improving traffic and pedestrian safety at highway-rail grade crossings. Both projects will help identify crossings that pose a risk to traffic and prioritize planned improvements.
COWEN AND CO. GLOBAL TRANSPORTATION & SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY CONFERENCE TAKEAWAYS: “Railroads are focused on adding back traffic at high incremental margins, though rail network congestion persists,” Cowen and Co. analysts Jason Seidl (Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor), Matt Elkott and Adam Kramer reported following presentations by several major carriers. “Freight fundamentals across all modes are strong, with retail and CPG (consumer packaged goods) restocking of inventories a major driver of the current spike in demand. Many customers are choosing to renegotiate TL (truckload) contracts early as spot rates just eclipsed 2018 peak levels and are likely headed higher.”
Three industry professionals with nearly 140 years of combined experience have joined forces at Railroad OP Services LLC, a new company whose purpose is assisting railroads with audits, rulebook updates and training to improve overall safety culture and public image, and limit financial exposure. Joe Meade and Bruce Parkin, along with company founder JD. Riley, describe themselves as “knowledgeable subject matter experts” who can provide on-site services to determine vulnerabilities, teach safety practices and prepare for Federal Railroad Administration inspections and audits.
Marybeth Luczak has returned to the Simmons-Boardman Rail Group as Executive Editor of Railway Age, effective Sept. 10, 2020.
The September 2020 issue of Railway Age is now available digitally. It includes feature stories on machine vision, top-of-rail friction management and digitalizing the Interline Settlement System, as well as a Product and Innovations Showcase spotlighting the rail supply community.