TTC Management to Begin Transition to Ensco on April 1Written by Richard Clinnick, Associate Editor, International Railway Journal
The Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) has rejected Ensco’s offer to keep the Strategic Research Initiatives (SRI) program at the Pueblo, Colo., facility.
Ensco has confirmed it will begin the transition of management of Transportation Technology Center (TTC) on April 1, with full operation commencing on Oct. 1. The move was announced in March 2021.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) had managed the Pueblo site since 1982, predominantly through its wholly owned subsidiary TTCI. The site is owned by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and consists of more than 50 miles of test tracks and specialized laboratories for testing locomotives, vehicles, track components, and communications and signaling devices.
During a webinar on Feb. 23, Ron Lang, Ensco Director, Track Inspection Services, said that the contract is initially for five years, with three five-year extensions available. He said that all services that have been provided at the TTC will continue to be offered by Ensco “plus some new and expanded services.”
Lang said Ensco was currently recruiting staff to work at TTC from Oct. 1, including locomotive engineers and maintenance and operations staff.
He said that Ensco will introduce its own software modeling programs, replacing those in use, which are the intellectual property of TTCI.
Lang said that Ensco has “developed partnerships with key organizations” for the site, with Sharman & Associates providing experience in rolling stock, operations and vehicle design. Atkins will provide train control and communications, and Ambipar will operate the hazmat response school located at the site. Ensco has also partnered with the Center for Surface Transportation and Academic Research (C-STTAR) consortium, a group of eight universities and academic research centers from across the United States, to provide the consortium with an opportunity or location to conduct field research and testing.
The SRI Program
AAR’s Strategic Research Initiatives (SRI) program is being conducted at the TTC by TTCI.
Lang told webinar attendees that Ensco has made an offer to TTCI to stay on the site to continue the SRI program, with competitive rates. “We believe the best place for the SRI program is at the TTC,” he said.
However, TTCI President and CEO Kari Gonzales told IRJ on Feb. 24 that it had rejected Ensco’s proposal. “With all due respect to what Ensco’s understanding of what is commercially reasonable in this market and for this program, TTCI concluded that the terms it was offered to continue to run the AAR SRI program at the TTC under the new and distinctly different contract were unacceptable,” Gonzales said.
TCCI announced plans for a new Pueblo facility on April 26, 2021, and Gonzales confirmed that PuebloPlex will open in fall 2022 as planned. This will be a dedicated engineering and laboratory facility and involves forming a new partnership with the Public Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO). The site will feature a high tonnage loop for accelerated service testing and curve negotiation loops as well as additional track infrastructure necessary to support AAR certification testing. A new Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) will also be in operation at the new facility, and this will serve as TCCI’s hazmat response training facility.
“Relocating TTCI’s operations to PuebloPlex allows us to continue to serve the industry and conduct research in an environment that protects the confidentiality and integrity of our research and our rail customers’ interests,” Gonzales said. “The success of the SRI program is built upon TTCI’s experts and our relationships with industry stakeholders. Our team is excited to keep our industry moving forward throughout this transition and when our new facilities open in fall 2022.”