Central Valley Intermodal Options

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of Jim Blaze’s review of market challenges surrounding rail intermodal. It continues the examination of issues highlighted by Gil Lamphere in an April 2022 article.


Solution in Search of a Problem

FROM THE EDITOR, RAILWAY AGE FEBRUARY 2023 ISSUE: There are a few observations my predecessor, Luther Miller, used to make when he came across language or statements that he deemed served little purpose: “Making the obvious less obscure.” “The Pope is a Catholic.” “A solution in search of a problem.” “Add that to your treasure trove of useless information.” I think he’d probably say the same thing about most of the statements the United States Department of Justice made in two filings about the pending merger of the Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern.

Pictured (left to right): Tom Lambert, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, Tex. (Metro); Zandra Ford, HNTB; Diane Pena, WAGO; Bill Prevo, WAGO.
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People News: Houston Metro, HNTB, WAGO

Tom Lambert, President and CEO of Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston, Tex., Metro), will retire at the end of the year. Also, HNTB appoints Zandra Ford as Director of Rail Operations for the Capital Region; and WAGO, an electrical interconnection and automation product supplier, tabs Diane Pena as Electrical Contractor and Wholesale Sales Manager and Bill Prevo as Regional Sales Manager for southeastern Michigan.

Alstom's Coradia iLint hydrogen-powered train will carry passengers on Quebec's Réseau Charlevoix rail network this summer.

Transit Briefs: Alstom, VTA, PRT, MaineDOT

Alstom’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train will demonstrate green traction in Quebec. Also, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) wins first place in the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) 2023 AdWheel Awards for communications and marketing; Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) is offering bulk transit passes in pilot program; and the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) proposes $3 million for a pilot project for passenger rail service between Rockland and Brunswick.

Previous Partnership Program grants from the FRA have funded rehabilitation-type projects such as the Kalamazoo to Dearborn rail corridor in Michigan and the Piedmont Corridor in North Carolina.

FRA Boosts Funding, Extends Deadline for Partnership Program NOFO

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Feb. 3 issued an extension and supplemental funding notice for the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (Partnership Program) for projects not located on the Northeast Corridor. The total funding now available has nearly doubled.

Matt Elkott

Cowen: Who Will Win the Locomotive Race?

Cowen and Company examines whether Caterpillar, Inc. could explore strategic alternatives for its transportation business, or at least the rail piece. An enterprise value-to-revenue multiple of 2.5x-2.75x may not be unreasonable, putting the transportation business value at approximately $12 billion.


The Red Line Just Turned 30. Here’s Why It Matters.

The B (Red) Line has always been the busiest line in our transit network. On an average weekday, the B Line has about 75,000 boardings. Together with the D (Purple) Line, which shares some of the same track, the B Line has seen more than 400 million boardings over the past decade. The B Line is one of many subways around the world that are ubiquitous. Nobody bats an eye.

To provide new revenue to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is eying a payroll tax increase on businesses in New York City and its surrounding counties that are served by MTA’s subways, commuter railroads and buses.

Transit Briefs: NYMTA, Tri-Rail, WMATA

New York Gov. Kathy Hochel addresses the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “fiscal cliff” in her state budget proposal; MTA signs a program management and design services contract to support capital program infrastructure work. Also, south Florida’s Tri-Rail commuter railroad homes in on a 2023 start date for downtown Miami service; and Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority mourns the loss of employee Robert Cunningham, who intervened on behalf of a customer at Potomac Avenue rapid transit station and was a victim of gun violence.

AAR to T&I: ‘Railroads Bullish on 2023 and Beyond‘

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, now under Republican Control in the 118th Congress, held its first hearing on Feb. 1, “State of American Infrastructure and Supply Chain Challenges,” hearing testimony from Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Ian Jefferies, American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear, Hamilton Construction Vice President Jeff Firth (testifying on behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Port of Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther, and Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO President Greg Regan.

The Georgia Ports Authority will construct seven additional refrigerated container racks at Garden City Terminal in Savannah, for a new total of more than 3,500 plugs. (Georgia Ports Authority / Stephen Morton)

Intermodal Briefs: GPA, VIP

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Board approves construction of seven additional refrigerated container racks at the Port of Savannah to expand capacity. Also, Virginia Inland Port (VIP) is the first of the Port of Virginia’s six general cargo terminals to receive 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.

(Photograph Courtesy of CP via Twitter)

CP Delivers Grain-Haul Record, Community Support

Canadian Pacific (CP) on Feb. 2 reported moving 2.29 million metric tons (MMT) of Canadian grain and grain products in January 2023, setting a new record for the month, despite rain delays in Vancouver. Also, the Class I railroad has chosen BC Children’s Hospital Foundation as the primary charity partner of its 2023 Women’s Open golf tournament.

From Left to Right: ASLRRA Chairwoman Judy Petry; RTA CFO Kevin Bueso; and INRD Director, Safety and Training Austin Milton.
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People News: ASLRRA, RTA, INRD

American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) Chairwoman Judy Petry retires from Farmrail. Also, Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) welcomes Kevin Bueso as new Chief Financial Officer (CFO); and Indiana Rail Road (INRD) promotes Austin Milton to Director, Safety and Training.

ASLRRA now offers an Advocacy section of its website with separate pages for important freight rail issues.

ASLRRA Promotes Advocacy Online

As part of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s (ASLRRA) mission to advocate on behalf of its members with regulators and legislators, it has unveiled advocacy pages on its website, covering the small-road position on a number of key topics.

North Dakota, Wisconsin Develop State Rail Plans

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) has published an updated and, for the first time, combined State Freight and Rail Plan (SFRP). Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) draft Wisconsin Rail 2050 is now available for review and comment.