The derailment of two separate oil trains roughly two months apart near Guernsey, Sask., each spilling more than 300,000 gallons of crude onto the ground and one igniting into a smoldering inferno, plus the resulting 30-day mandatory speed limit on such trains imposed by Transport Canada (20 mph in urban areas, 25 mph elsewhere), have raised questions about not only the cause of those derailments, but also about the durability of the tank cars, and the volatility of the crude they were carrying. It should also raise questions, and awareness, about the transport of Canadian crude on the U.S. rail system.
Canada’s railroads, and by extension the Canadian economy, are suffering from the blockades that First Nations peoples have been imposing since early February in protest of planned natural gas pipelines. The effect on the Canadian economy runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars per day, according to calculations by railroad economist and Railway Age Contributing Editor Jim Blaze (see below). Canadian Pacific President and CEO Keith Creel has called upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to honor First Nations leadership’s request to engage in a dialogue.
Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV) recently toured Magnetech Industrial Services, Inc. in Huntington, W.V., where she learned about its operations and impact on West Virginia railroads.
Navis, a part of Cargotec Corporation, has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Biarri Rail, a global provider of planning and scheduling optimization software for freight railroads. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of February 2020.
Norfolk Southern is closing its historic, 137-year-old Locomotive Shop in Roanoke, Va., transferring all locomotive work to its Juniata Shops in Altoona, Pa. NS predecessor railroad Norfolk & Western began operating the locomotive shop, then Roanoke Machine Works, in 1883. The railroad is also closing its associated Roanoke Distribution Center, which supports the shop as well as other mechanical department facilities across its system.
The Midwest Association of Rail Shippers (MARS) elected its 2020 slate of officers.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ended Feb. 15, 2020, and, for this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 479,137 carloads and intermodal units, down 8.6% compared with the same week last year.
Bentley Systems Inc. recently announced its call for nominations for the Year in Infrastructure 2020 Awards program. The awards, which are judged by independent juries of industry experts, recognize infrastructure projects for digital innovations that improve project delivery and/or asset performance. The deadline for nominations is May 1, 2020.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a final rule—49 CFR Part 271 [Docket No. FRA–2009–0038, Notice No. 7] RIN 2130–AC11—launching the Risk Reduction Program (RRP) “to support an increasing standard of safety for the nation’s freight railroads.” The final rule is effective April 20, 2020.
Cowen and Company revealed its rail-earnings takeaways, which saw the rails tout pricing despite weak volumes in 4Q. However, Cowen said it believes “that the effects of the Coronavirus on supply chains are not fully appreciated, with contacts telling us that Asian ports are at 40-50% operational capacity—railroad most at risk is Union Pacific. CN’s network is nearly shut down because of pipeline protesters and could lag the group near-term. We continue to favor Kansas City Southern among the rails.”