Wabtec Corporation has reported record results for the 2014 third quarter, including earnings per diluted share (EPS) of 93 cents, an increase of 22 percent over the 2013 third quarter.
Sales in the third quarter reached a record $797 million, a 26 percent jump over the same quarter last year, with about half of the growth due to acquisitions. Income from operations reached a record $136 million, or 17.1 percent of sales.
Total, multi-year backlog increased to a record $2.18 billion, mainly due to acquisitions and to new contracts for locomotive overhauls, freight car components and signaling projects.
Wabtec President and CEO Raymond T. Betler said, “During the quarter we acquired Dia-Frag, a friction products manufacturer, and C2CE, which provides signal design and engineering services. The companies fit our growth criteria and integration efforts are well underway.”
Wabtec reported third quarter cash flow from operations at $93 million, or 12 percent of sales, exceeding its net income of $90 million. The company repurchased 124,600 shares of company stock for $10 million during the 2014 third quarter. At September 30, 2014, the company had cash of $213 million and debt of $522 million.
Wabtec increased its 2014 guidance for earnings per diluted share to $3.58-$3.62, with revenues expected to be up about 18 percent for the year. The increase was based on the company’s year-to-date results and outlook for the rest of the year.
“The company continued to perform well in the quarter and we are optimistic about our future opportunities as we execute our growth strategies and internal improvement initiatives,” said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec’s executive chairman. “As always, we expect to benefit from our diverse business model, the power of our Wabtec Performance System, and global investment in transportation and infrastructure.”
Wabtec Corporation manufactures products for locomotives, freight cars and passenger transit vehicles for original equipment and aftermarket usage. The company also builds new locomotives up to 4,000 horsepower and provides aftermarket services.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn joined federal, state and local officials to celebrate the opening of the $142 million Englewood flyover, a major railroad bridge that has eliminated a significant source of train delays on the south side of Chicago. The flyover bridge replaced a crossing between the Metra Rock Island tracks and a set of Norfolk Southern tracks at 63rd and State Street.
The flyover bridge allows the 78 weekday Rock Island Line trains to travel over the freight tracks used by approximately 60 freight and Amtrak trains, eliminating conflicts between trains and reducing emissions and noise from idling trains in the neighborhood.
“We have been looking forward to this day for a long time. It’s impossible to overstate the positive impact this project will have on Norfolk Southern’s service, along with Amtrak’s and Metra’s,” said Norfolk Southern’s Chairman and CEO Wick Moorman. “Not only will this project eliminate many hours in freight and passenger train delays daily, but it frees up additional capacity for all of us to continue to grow our business.”
“Metra could not be any happier to have this bridge completed,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “Our riders are already enjoying the benefits of passing through this area without experiencing any delays due to conflicts with freight or Amtrak trains.”
The flyover is an accomplishment of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program, a partnership between U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, and the nation’s freight railroads.
“Fourteen daily Amtrak trains to and from Chicago have faced delays at this location that are felt in Michigan, Indiana and all the way to the East Coast,” remarked Tom Carper, Amtrak board member and past chairman. “Delays drive up cost and hold-down ridership, so CREATE projects such as this one are truly of national importance and big wins for Amtrak passengers, Metra commuters and the freight railroads, too.”
The flyover was funded with $126 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act High-Speed Rail funds, $4.9 million in other federal money, $8.2 million from the State of Illinois and $3 million from the railroad industry, including Metra.
“Chicago has been the rail hub of our nation for more than a century, yet for too long this area was plagued with freight congestion and bottlenecks that hurt productivity and rippled across the system,” said Senator Dick Durbin. “I’m proud to have played a role securing the funding needed to unsnarl the bottleneck and make the Englewood flyover a reality.”
The Englewood flyover is the first project planned under the CREATE program to reduce conflicts between passenger and freight trains in the Englewood area and prepare the corridor to accommodate high speed rail service. With the flyover in service, two other planned CREATE projects can move forward without creating further bottlenecks at the busy Englewood interlocker.
The two planned CREATE projects are the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project, which will divert trains on Metra’s Southwest Service to the Rock Island District at a point south of Englewood, and the Grand Crossing Project, which will divert six daily Amtrak trains to Norfolk Southern tracks east of Englewood.
The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), operators of the Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) Light Rail, recently previewed the first “Type 5” MAX light rail vehicle (LRV) at Ruby Junction rail yard in Gresham, Ore. TriMet is purchasing 18 Type 5 trains as part of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, the MAX Orange line, which has a planned opening of September 2015.
Neil McFarlane, TriMet general manager, commented that riders will notice some improvements compared to the earlier generation of Type 4 trains. “We made changes to these new trains that will make it more comfortable for our riders, including adding more seats, more capacity, more leg room and improved boarding for riders who use mobility devices,” said McFarlane. “These changes were prompted by feedback from our riders who helped make these vehicles better to ride.”
The first Type 5 vehicle arrived in September and the second was delivered last week. These two vehicles will go through testing that includes a 4,000-mile “burn-in” testing period and safety certification before going into service. The other 16 vehicles will go through a 1,000-mile “burn-in” testing period and safety certification. All trains are scheduled to arrive by April 2015.
The 7.3-mile Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project will extend from downtown Portland to South Waterfront, SE Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County. It is the region’s sixth MAX construction project.
L.B. Foster Company has agreed to acquire FWO, the railroad tuning unit of Balfour Beatty Rail GmbH. FWO is a German business that provides track lubrication and switch roller equipment for international railway applications.
“FWO railway products will complement and expand L.B. Foster’s existing line of friction management and track products,” said Robert Bauer, L.B. Foster president and chief executive officer. “This acquisition will undoubtedly enhance L.B. Foster’s rail activities in Europe.”
“The FWO ESA Electronic Track Lubricating system and associated specialist knowledge of wheel/rail interaction is an ideal fit with L.B. Foster’s existing solution portfolio, marketing expertise and R&D competencies,” said Peter Jones, managing director, L.B. Foster Rail Technologies (UK) Ltd.
FWO currently employs a team based in Bochum (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany) and has established sales in Europe and South America.
“I am delighted that the key employees in this business have decided to join the L.B. Foster team and help strengthen our position in the European market,” said Jones.
Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., L.B. Foster manufactures and distributes transportation and construction materials to the transportation, construction, utility, energy, recreation and agriculture markets, including friction management solutions for the rail industry.
Harsco Corporation has named Peter F. Minan chief financial officer, effective November 11, 2014.
Minan joins Harsco following a 30-year career with KPMG, where he worked as national managing partner, U.S. Audit Practice and as partner in charge, Washington/Baltimore Audit Practice. He was named a partner at the firm in 1993, and he also served as global lead partner for several multinational Fortune 500 industrial and consumer audit clients. Most recently, he was the vice president of enterprise risk management and internal audit at Computer Sciences Corporation.
“I could not be more pleased to have Pete join us as our new CFO,” said Nick Grasberger, Harsco president and chief executive officer. “We conducted a thorough and deliberate search for this position and our persistence paid off. I believe Pete’s financial acumen, coupled with his positive leadership style, will make him a great fit for our organization. Pete fills the final role in our executive leadership team, and all of us are aligned around the strategies we have previously communicated.”
Minan earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce and is a Certified Public Accountant.
“I look forward to working with my new colleagues to execute Harsco’s strategy and deliver on the commitments we’ve made to our customers and shareholders,” Minan said.
Based in Camp Hill, Pa., Harsco is a worldwide industrial services company, providing engineered products and services to industries such as steel and metals production, railways and energy.
Ridership on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Subway system broke the previous single-day ridership record five times in the month of September. Ridership on Tuesday, September 23, was the highest ever since 1985 when ridership was first recorded, with 6,106,694 customers riding the subway.
Four other days last month recorded more than 6 million customers. The month also saw the highest ridership ever for a September in more than 60 years, with a total of 149 million customers. The five record-breaking dates in September 2014 were September 23, with a total of 6,106,694 riders; September 18, with a total of 6,094,684 riders; September 19, with a total of 6,073,580 riders; September 17, with a total of 6,051,863 riders; and September 10, with a total of 6,012,270 riders.
“New Yorkers and visitors alike continue to vote with their feet, recognizing that riding the subway is the most efficient way to get around town,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “This is a phenomenal achievement for a system that carried 3.6 million daily customers just 20 years ago. As ridership increases, the MTA Capital Program is vital to fund new subway cars, higher-capacity signal systems and improved stations to meet our customers’ growing needs and rising expectations.”
The previous ridership record of 5,987,595 was recorded on Thursday, October 24, 2013. The People’s Climate March generated 2,953,948 customers on Sunday, September 21, 2014. This was the highest Sunday ridership since daily records began in 1985 and likely the highest since the late 1940s.
“The trend towards increasing ridership is not expected to slow down,” said Carmen Bianco, MTA New York City Transit president. “Improved transit services, combined with a growing population and an improved economy, have resulted in the strongest subway ridership growth occurring among discretionary riders and during off-peak times.”
“This presents new challenges for maintaining and improving a system that operates around the clock, while introducing important innovations for our customers such as countdown clocks, Help Point intercoms and a new fare payment system,” added Bianco.
Steady growth has been seen in subway ridership in recent years, approaching levels last seen during the World War II era when the network included more elevated lines and many customers were counted twice as they transferred between different systems. Also, far fewer New Yorkers owned cars at that time.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has chosen CNR MA of China as the recommended company to manufacture and deliver 248 new subway cars for the Orange and Red Lines, with an option to purchase an additional 58 Red Line cars.
MBTA will present their choice to the Board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and the Board will vote on approving the recommendation.
Governor Patrick, who was joined at the announcement by MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey, MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, and other officials, said that, if approved, CNR MA will build a 150,000 square foot facility in Springfield to assemble the vehicles, creating over 250 new manufacturing and construction jobs in the region.
“This is a critical investment in the future of public transportation in Greater Boston and in the economic wellbeing of Western Massachusetts,” said Governor Patrick. “It will open up opportunities for the residents of the Pioneer Valley by creating quality construction and manufacturing jobs that will propel growth in the region for years to come.”
CNR MA intends for the new manufacturing facility to serve as the company’s U.S. Headquarters and plans to include a test track, which will enable testing prior to shipment of the vehicles to the MBTA. CNR MA plans to invest $60 million of its own resources into the facility, with construction of the plant expected to begin in fall of 2015.
“The awarding of this contract is the culmination of years of work and development by teams at MassDOT and the MBTA,” said Davey. “By making this important investment, and ensuring that it provide for new jobs and increase economic opportunity in Massachusetts, we are making a commitment to the future of sustainable, accessible public transit that is more reliable, more frequent and better serves the needs of our Commonwealth.”
The new cars intended for the Orange Line will replace the entire current fleet that has an average of 1.5 million miles and will also increase the fleet size. The new cars for the Red Line will replace the current fleet of “No. 1” cars that have an average of 2.3 million miles, and the additional contract option would allow for replacement of the 27-year old “No. 2” cars that have an average of 1.4 million miles.
“Today marks an important step in improving the daily commutes of hundreds of thousands of our MBTA customers,” said Scott. “By replacing the aging fleets of Red and Orange Line cars, we will be able to reduce travel and wait times, increase capacity and improve accessibility, security and the overall experience for our customers.”
The new cars will allow for an average of 15 additional passengers per car and feature accessibility upgrades, bridge plates and advanced customer information systems. They are also being designed with sustainable features such as environmentally friendly HVAC systems, LED lighting and regenerative braking. New safety and security features will include video surveillance systems with “live look in” capability, higher windscreens on doors and “black box” style event recorders.
The total project budget is approximately $1.3 billion, and includes funds necessary to expand and improve the MBTA’s rail car maintenance and storage facilities in Medford and Boston. The Orange and Red Line car procurement project is funded entirely by State Transportation Bond Funds, which were made possible by the passage of last year’s Transportation Finance Law.
The design process will take approximately three years for the Orange Line cars and an additional 15 months for the Red Line. Pilot cars for the Orange Line are to be delivered in early 2018, and the Red Line pilot cars will be delivered about a year later. Delivery of production cars will occur at a rate of approximately four cars per month between winter 2018 and winter 2021 for the Orange Line and between fall 2019 and spring 2021 for the Red Line.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported a 2.9 percent increase in total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending October 18, 2014, when compared to the same week in 2013, with 569,684 carloads and intermodal units reported.
U.S. carloads, with a reported total of 297,130 for the week, increased 2.7 percent compared to the same week last year. U.S. intermodal volume increased 3 percent for the week, with a total of 272,554 units reported.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups that are tracked by AAR posted increases compared with the same week in 2013. Petroleum and petroleum products had the highest increase at 17.4 percent, with 16,015 carloads, followed by nonmetallic minerals with a 12.5 percent increase and a total of 39,308 carloads.
U.S. railroads reported a 4.4 percent increase in total combined traffic for the first 42 weeks of 2014 when compared to the same period in 2013, with a total volume of 23,118,496 carloads and intermodal units. U.S. carloads increased 3.6 percent, with a reported total of 12,218,003 carloads. U.S. intermodal volume, with a total of 10,900,493 units, increased 5.4 percent.
Canadian railroads reported an increase of 4.6 percent in carloads and a decrease of 4 percent in intermodal units for the week ending October 18, 2014, when compared to the same week in 2013. Weekly 2014 totals were 85,771 carloads and 55,587 intermodal units.
For the first 42 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,365,718 carloads, up 1.5 percent from the same point last year, and 2,406,134 intermodal units, up 6.5 percent from last year.
For the week ending October 18, 2014, Mexican railroads reported 16,939 carloads, a 14.2 percent increase in carloads when compared to the same week last year. Intermodal units saw a 0.4 percent increase, with 12,174 units reported.
For the first 42 weeks of 2014, cumulative volume on Mexican railroads increased 3.3 percent when compared to the same time period in 2013, with a reported 663,760 carloads. Intermodal units increased 4.9 percent, with 447,587 units reported.
On the 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail volume for the first 42 weeks of 2014 was 16,247,481 carloads, an increase of 3.1 percent compared with the same time period last year. Intermodal trailers and containers totaled 13,754,214, up 5.6 percent.
CP says it is well-prepared to accommodate expected increases in traffic volumes and peaks that may occur this fall.
“Looking forward over the fall period in the United States, CP does not anticipate a sharp seasonal peak in grain/agricultural products, industrial products, fertilizer, intermodal, merchandise or ethanol, but does expect growth in these commodities for the full year consistent with current trends. A slowly strengthening U.S. economy is expected to translate into stronger consumer spending, higher automobile sales and increased industrial products demand, and CP is expecting increased volumes (consistent with current trends) from its merchandise and intermodal customers. We do anticipate strong grain carloadings in the latter part of the year subject to continued demand,” CP said.
In a detailed report mandated by the Surface Transportation Board, Robert A. Johnson, CP’s senior vice president of operations, said the carrier is better-positioned to respond to unexpected surges in temporary volumes caused by challenges related to other carriers, non-rail components in the supply chain, and weather. “And, we continue to be actively engaged with our customers and our rail interchange partners in an effort to minimize or avoid such challenges,” he added.
CP outlined measures the railroad has taken to improve capacity and velocity on its network. CP estimates that its total network capital investment in 2014 will be between $1.2 and $1.3 billion (U.S. dollars), nearly 20 percent of its revenues. Going forward, the railroad said it expects to spend $1.3 to $1.5 billion (about $1.4-$1.6 billion CAD) annually.
Over the next two years, CP plans to invest more than $650 million in the Upper Plains States as well as Illinois, including approximately $400 million specifically directed to infrastructure expansion and improvements. To increase capacity and system velocity, CP plans to invest in new sidings, siding extensions, and in further implementing Centralized Traffic Control (CTC).
Earlier this year, CP completed a multimillion dollar project at St. Paul, Minn., which enables the carrier to re-route westbound traffic and take pressure off its railroad as well as BNSF Railway at this important terminal. “We are currently working with BNSF to do the same with respect to our eastbound traffic at St. Paul,” Johnson told the STB.
CP said that since new management took the helm in July 2012, system-wide employee and contractor headcount has been reduced by 4,615 positions. Of that number, 981 positions were located in the United States. These reductions have consisted of both planned reductions and reductions through attrition. None of the planned U.S. headcount reductions involved train and engine employees.
CP noted that is has recently experienced a higher-than-normal attrition rate in train and engine employees in the Upper Midwest, in particular in North Dakota. As a result, CP developed a plan to hire and train additional train and engine personnel as well as other transportation service employees.
Of the total of 599 planned new hires, 422 are specifically train and engine employees. Of its 476 year-to-date new hires, CP said that 355 are train and engine employees based in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. This will offset the 337 U.S. train and engine employees who have left CP in 2014. CP is holding training classes for new conductors at terminals throughout the Upper Midwest. To meet the challenge of the competitive labor market in North Dakota, CP is offering incentives to attract and retain employees, including signing bonuses and housing with the first six months free of charge for new hires.
In the area of system delays, CP said there were 2,308 trains held for four hours or longer on its U.S. network, including the Delaware & Hudson, so far in 2014. That’s up from 75 in 2013.
“To put the 2,308 train held total in context, CP has had 46,184 train starts year to date (through October 21) in the U.S. In our opinion, the spike in trains held beginning in January reflects the difficulty of getting into the BRC, congestion on parts of our railroad, congestion on the network as a whole, higher than normal attrition of train and engine employees, and increased demand for rail service, all of which was compounded by trackwork. The data also show a significant improvement in trains held beginning in October. We expect this reduction to hold as we continue our hiring program and as we reduce congestion by working with BNSF at Minneapolis/St. Paul, and with the other Class l’s and the Belt Railway of Chicago at Chicago,” according to CP.
On the equipment side, CP said it has adequate locomotive power to meet the fall peak and is able to obtain additional locomotives if needed. “We have recalled from lease 35 six-axle road locomotives, and have the ability to recall an additional 60 locomotives. These locomotives may be used in both Canada and the U.S. as needed,” Johnson said. “We have also overhauled and put back into yard service approximately 11 GP-20 units in the U.S. With these additions, locomotive power is sufficient to meet forecasted demand in the short term. Over the medium term (next 4 years) we have plans to retrofit or bring online an additional 240 locomotives systemwide.”
CP said it believes its existing car fleet is sufficient to meet current demand. In some lines of business, crude oil for example, it anticipates customers will supply additional rolling stock. “We also continue to be an active participant in TTX, which allows us to supplement our fleet if necessary. Over the medium to longer term we will acquire new equipment in a manner aligned with overall demand,” CP said.
CP interchanges with every Class I railroad at Chicago (except Kansas City Southern) and normally the interchange occurs at the Belt Railway of Chicago (BRC) and the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad (IHB). CP’s operations personnel have a conference call every day with each Class I railroad regarding interchange at the Chicago Terminal. On these calls specific train counts are discussed, problems are raised, and solutions worked.
“Importantly, CP has agreed to be bound by the alert levels established for Chicago, including the actions and countermeasures based on those alert levels,” Johnson said. “CP left the Chicago Transportation Coordination Office (CTCO) because that office was not effective. CTCO’s metrics were inadequate, and the action items and countermeasures to congestion problems were discretionary, not mandatory. CP remained involved in rail coordination at Chicago, however.”
The metrics, responses, and countermeasures for the Chicago alert levels have been reworked with senior transportation officers of the Class l’s. “We believe there is now a commitment to meaningful metrics, action items that will have a positive impact, and binding countermeasures. CP no longer has an employee sitting at the CTCO Office, and based on the foregoing does not believe it needs one,” Johnson said.
CP said its prepares for winter every year and has developed an appropriate action plan, including operational changes in extreme weather (such as shortening train length; deadheading crews on locomotives rather than by taxi transport on icy roads); maintaining sufficient equipment (switch heaters, snow plows), and reallocating its human resources (deployment of engineering personnel around the clock when appropriate) to meet the challenges.
“Winter creates challenges, but the critical issue this winter will be the same as last in our view- fluidity and production at Chicago, and in particular, at BRC. CP’s system relies on interchange with the other Class I railroads at Chicago. If inventories at BRC are high, it triggers an Alert Level response that we send fewer trains to the BRC. These trains must be switched elsewhere. Some trains are held out of the terminal. Other trains are broken up and re-made for out-of-route direct interchange with other carriers.”
All of this results in train crews and locomotives not being where they should be and that delay has a negative effect on dwell and system velocity. CP believes that approximately 30 percent of its system velocity in the U.S. is dependent on fluidity at Chicago, and in part on St. Paul.
Given the importance of fluidity at Chicago, CP urged the STB to consider requiring both BRC and IHB to report data to the board on appropriate metrics in a manner similar to the Class l’s. “To understand the health of the Chicago Terminal, the board should understand the health of IHB and BRC as well as the Class l’s. Helpful operating metrics for BRC should include the following: number of cars arrived per day, number of cars humped per day, number of cars re-humped per day, number of cars pulled per day, number of cars departed each day, terminal dwell, departure yard dwell,” Johnson said.
“We believe that BRC is not producing to its potential and that with its current infrastructure it can safely and efficiently process more cars than at present. To do so, it is imperative that every Class I pull its cars on time every day,” CP added.
Since the new crop year on July 31, CP has moved 16 percent more bulk grain than last year. Recently though, as harvest has hit full swing, “we have seen delays with cars dwelling at Eastern mills and on connecting carriers for multiple days. Whether it’s cycles on connecting carriers or efficient unloading at receivers, car supply at origin is dependent on a fluid and efficient end-to-end supply chain,” CP said.
CP noted that grain demand for rail service can be “erratic and unpredictable. Grain follows price.” As a result, it has seen significant market shifts in grain over the years with numerous market drivers impacting the desire to ship to specific markets. In light of this, CP monitors grain markets closely in an effort to anticipate such market shifts but notes that there are reasonable limits on its ability to prepare for and accommodate such market shifts.
CP has worked directly with grain customers to develop a new service offering which, it believes, delivers better reliability, transparency and accountability. The new service provides trainload customers with unit train ownership, improving control and visibility to car supply. “Our customers have indicated strong support for this model, and the early results have been very encouraging. Cycle times for our dedicated train product have exceeded estimates by over 15 percent despite supply chain challenges,” according to CP.
In its bid to improve customer communication, as this harvest has begun CP’s sales team has been in close contact with each of less than trainload grain elevators and shippers to make sure that their rail service needs are not overlooked. CP said it also utilizes a number of other tools to facilitate direct communication with customers and provide up-to-date shipment and network information. These tools include:
• Availability of shipment based information, carload and intermodal tools, as well as bulletins and messages on its website;
• The ability to reach CP representatives at its Network Service Center anytime via a toll-free telephone number, email, or online messaging;
• Direct access to appropriate operational contacts closest to their location and/or shipment concern to discuss local service needs or specific requests;
• Cooperation between Operations and Network Service Center to provide visibility to network incidents, service recovery and order/shipment updates;
• Review of urgent shipments on a daily basis;
• Communication back to the customer on revised shipment plans; and
• Monitoring of urgent shipments until arrival at final destination locations.
The Canaveral Port Authority is seeking government clearance to build and operate about 11 miles of new rail line to Port Canaveral in Brevard County, Florida. The proposed Port Canaveral Rail Extension would also use approximately 17 miles of existing rail line at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to connect with a main line of the Florida East Coast Railway.
According to CPA, the main purpose of the proposed rail extension is to provide it with the capability to transport primarily bulk, break bulk and containerized goods to and from Port Canaveral by rail. The port currently has no on-dock or near-dock freight rail service, and the only access to rail service is by truck.
The proposed PCRE would provide the port with direct access to freight rail service. The new rail line would begin near the port’s North Cargo Area, extend west across the Banana River, enter Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island south of Kars Park, and then turn north through KSC grounds to connect with KSC’s existing rail line. The new rail line would consist of a single track constructed of continuous welded rail and concrete ties. Other major elements of the proposed project would include a right-of-way of up to 100 feet in width and crossings of local roads and utility corridors.
CPA would operate its trains on both the new rail line and on KSC’s existing rail line to the FEC connection. Initially, the trains would move approximately 170 roundtrip hopper and box cars per week. Within 2.5 years after the proposed rail operations begin, CPA estimates that an additional 50 roundtrip double-stacked container cars could also move on the proposed PCRE. CPA estimates that it would operate approximately three to four trains per week with the trains moving at approximately 10 mph.
The Surface Transportation Board has found that the construction and operation of the proposed PCRE has the potential to result in significant environmental impacts. As a result, the board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) has determined that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is appropriate.
In a notice of intent issued Oct. 27, the STB informed stakeholders—including members of the public, tribes, federal, state, and local agencies, environmental groups, and potential shippers—interested in or potentially affected by the proposed project of the decision to prepare an EIS and to issue a draft scope of study for the EIS for review and comment. The OEA has scheduled two public scoping meetings:
November 18; 5:00-8:00 PM; John Henry Jones Gymnatorium, Titusville Campus of Eastern Florida State College, Titusville, Fla.; and
November 19; 5:00-8:00 PM; Convention Center, Radisson Resort at the Port, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Interested parties are invited to submit written comments on the draft scope of study, potential alternative routes for the proposed rail line, and other environmental issues and concerns by Dec. 19, 2014. OEA will issue a final scope of study after the close of the scoping comment period and prepare a draft EIS for the project.
OEA has invited several agencies to participate in this EIS process as cooperating agencies on the basis of their expertise or jurisdiction by law. These agencies include but may not be limited to: NASA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. OEA is also initiating government-to-government consultation with potentially affected tribes, including but not limited to: Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, and Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.
Scoping comments should be submitted to: Dave Navecky, Surface Transportation Board, 395 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20423-0001, Attention: Environmental Filing, Docket No. FD 35852. Scoping comments may also be submitted electronically on the board’s website.