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AAR Reports Increased Weekly Carload and Intermodal Traffic

October 23rd, 2014

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported a 4.6 percent increase in total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending October 11, 2014, when compared to the same week in 2013, with 571,812 carloads and intermodal units reported.

U.S. carloads, with a reported total of 298,376 for the week, increased 4.3 percent compared to the same week last year. U.S. intermodal volume increased 4.8 percent for the week, with a total of 273,436 units reported.

Eight 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 19.5 percent, with 16,333 carloads, followed by nonmetallic minerals with a 12.2 percent increase and a total of 38,860 carloads.

U.S. railroads reported a 4.5 percent increase in total combined traffic for the first 41 weeks of 2014 when compared to the same period in 2013, with a total volume of 22,548,321 carloads and intermodal units. U.S. carloads increased 3.6 percent, with a reported total of 11,920,873 carloads. U.S. intermodal volume, with a total of 10,627,448units, increased 5.5 percent.

Canadian railroads reported an increase of 5.2 percent in carloads and an increase of 3.3 percent in intermodal units for the week ending October 11, 2014, when compared to the same week in 2013. Weekly 2014 totals were 89,822 carloads and 60,183 intermodal units.

For the first 41 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,279,947 carloads, up 1.4 percent from the same point last year, and 2,350,547 intermodal units, up 6.7 percent from last year.

For the week ending October 11, 2014, Mexican railroads reported 19,745 carloads, a 38.3 percent increase in carloads when compared to the same week last year. Intermodal units saw a 30.8 percent increase, with 14,238 units reported.

For the first 41 weeks of 2014, cumulative volume on Mexican railroads increased 3.0 percent when compared to the same time period in 2013, with a reported 646,821 carloads. Intermodal units increased 5.1 percent, with 435,413 units reported.

On the 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail volume for the first 41 weeks of 2014 was 15,847,641 carloads, an increase of 3.1 percent compared with the same time period last year. Intermodal trailers and containers totaled 13,413,408, up 5.7 percent.

FRA Approves Caltrain’s PTC Installation

October 23rd, 2014

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has granted approval to Caltrain, the commuter rail line serving San Francisco and the San Francisco Peninsula, to proceed with the installation and testing of its Positive Train Control (PTC) technology.

The approval allows Caltrain to meet the federal mandate for PTC installation by the end of 2015. Caltrain will be the first passenger rail system in the country to adopt this specific technology, which will meet the needs of a commuter rail corridor that shares tracks with freight and intercity service providers.

“We set a goal of creating a train control solution that would not only provide substantially greater safety improvements but would improve the efficiency and performance of the Caltrain corridor,” said Chuck Harvey, deputy CEO for engineering, construction and operations. “But as a corridor that is also used by freight and other rail service providers, we needed a system that would work with others that are likely to be in use on this corridor one day.”

“We’re thrilled to be leading the way with this new technology, which we hope will prove useful for other rail corridors throughout the country facing similar operating environments,” added Harvey.

Caltrain started PTC installation work along the rail corridor last year. Installation and testing of the software and the wayside technology that will interact with onboard software will begin once fiber optics installation is complete. System testing is expected to be completed by October 2015.

The advanced signal system, including PTC technology, is part of Caltrain’s Modernization Program. The program includes electrifying the Caltrain system and purchasing new electric multiple units.

TSA Administrator Pistole to Retire

October 23rd, 2014

Transportation Security Administrator John S. Pistole has announced his retirement from public service, effective Dec. 31, 2014. Pistole has worked for more than 31 years in the federal government, including four and a half years at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and 26 years at the FBI.

President Barack Obama nominated Pistole for the TSA Administrator position in May 2010. He received unanimous confirmation by the United States Senate, assuming his new role in June 2010. Prior to joining the FBI in 1983, Pistole practiced law for two years.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have served as TSA Administrator,” said Pistole. “No words can convey my deep gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the thousands of men and women committed to protecting the American public.”

“I could not be more proud of all that our employees have accomplished together, particularly what they have done to help enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of transportation security while improving the passenger screening experience,” Pistole added.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson thanked Pistole for his four and a half years of service as TSA Administrator and 31 years of service to the nation. Johnson said, “John Pistole has been integral in leading TSA’s transformation to a risk-based, intelligence-driven counterterrorism agency dedicated to protecting our transportation systems.”

“Because of his efforts over the past four and a half years, our country’s transportation systems are more safe and secure,” continued Secretary Johnson. “I am grateful for John’s contributions to DHS, TSA and our country. I congratulate John on his career as a selfless public servant and wish him and his family the very best as he leaves TSA. I also thank John for his friendship, counsel, and devotion to duty.”

Pistole is expected to be named to a position in academia in the near future.

FRA Publishes First Multi-State Rail Plan

October 22nd, 2014

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published its first multi-state plan for a passenger rail network that will support rail planning in six southwestern states over the next 35 years. The study examines connections to emerging rail markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. It will be used as a model for future regional planning efforts.

“Our nation’s transportation systems must be interconnected and efficient across regions to meet current and future demand,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This study represents a major step forward, and will become a guide post for mobility and intermodal connections throughout the Southwest.”

The Southwest study was developed with regional stakeholders and state agencies, including state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, transit agencies, Amtrak, freight railroads, and private rail developers.

The study considered existing travel conditions and future demand in order to illustrate how connections to local transit, aviation, highways, and other modes can be integrated for travelers on a regional basis in a cost-effective manner.

“Planning is the fundamental bedrock to being ready to compete for federal funding as it becomes available,” said Joseph C. Szabo, Federal Railroad Administrator. “The Southwest study provides a new regional model for other states and regions to follow as they prepare for future passenger and freight rail development.”

The regional plan will be used to develop safe, reliable, efficient, and interconnected multimodal travel options and envisions a rail network that supports environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The Southwest region’s longstanding interest in creating a higher-performing rail network helped bring together the study.

Chicago Transit Authority Solicits Bids for Rail Cars

October 22nd, 2014

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool have announced that the CTA is soliciting bids for 7000-series rail cars. The estimated total cost for the rail cars is $2 billion with an initial base order of 400 rail cars and the ability to purchase as many as 846 cars.

“Today we move closer to two important goals: offering Chicagoans a better commute on modern trains and creating potentially hundreds of new, good-paying jobs that contribute to economic growth and prosperity,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This process will increase competition among bidders and produce a high-quality product that helps us continue to build a world-class transit system.”

The bid solicitation is the first in CTA history to include a provision that asks bidders to provide the number and type of new jobs created in their production of the new rail cars and to outline their job recruitment and workforce training plans. Plans for job creation will be a factor in the bid evaluation. The information on the creation of new jobs in the provision is part of an agreement reached by the Mayor, CTA and the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) in July 2014.

“We commend Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Transit Authority for leading the way to good U.S. manufacturing jobs by including tools for jobs disclosure and evaluation as part of this new solicitation for bids,” said CFL President Jorge Ramirez. “Using the language from the U.S. Employment Plan ensures we are working to not only improve Chicago’s transit system, but to help our tax dollars go further and create good jobs in the region and across the country.”

The CTA is seeking the new bids in an effort to encourage a wider range of bids from rail-car manufacturers after a 2013 Request for Proposals generated only two bid submissions.

In addition to the new job-creation provision and increasing the base order from 100 cars to 400 cars, the new bid solicitation removes a previous requirement that the 7000-series be compatible with current CTA cars. Other changes from the 2013 bid solicitation include the addition of two exterior cameras on each rail car and nine interior cameras, including two interior cameras in the operating cab, and the consideration of alternative technologies or configurations for car systems like doors, brakes and HVAC.

The new 7000-series rail cars, financed through federal and local funds, are expected to be in service as early as 2018.

AECOM Acquires URS

October 22nd, 2014

AECOM, an infrastructure and support services firm, has completed its acquisition of URS Corporation following approval of the merger agreement by URS’ stockholders and the stock issuance proposal by AECOM’s stockholders. URS is a provider of engineering, construction, and technical services.

The acquisition will diversify and broaden AECOM’s market presence with URS’ strong sector expertise in end markets such as oil and gas, and power and government services. URS also adds to AECOM’s construction capabilities.

“Today is an exciting and historic day – for our industry, for AECOM and URS, and for our nearly 100,000 people around the world who are serving our clients in over 150 countries,” said AECOM CEO Michael S. Burke. “Beyond the compelling benefits that this transaction creates for our combined clients, stockholders and employees, the combination of AECOM and URS dramatically accelerates our strategy of creating an integrated delivery platform with superior capabilities to design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets around the world.”

Each share of URS common stock will be exchanged in the merger for per-share consideration of either US$53.991 in cash or 1.8879 shares of AECOM common stock, at the election of the holder, and only non-electing holders will receive a combination of cash and stock as provided for in the merger agreement.

“During the past three months, as we have advanced our integration planning efforts, my belief that AECOM and URS had highly complementary operations and cultures has been solidly confirmed,” Burke added. “Our leaders have collaborated to develop a comprehensive integration plan that will leverage our greater scale across our global platform. We are confident that we will achieve our target of US$250 million in annual cost synergies.”

Siemens to Design/Build Amtrak Static Frequency Converter

October 22nd, 2014

Amtrak has awarded Siemens a contract to supply a new Sitras SFC plus static frequency converter to upgrade its facility in northern New Jersey. The order includes the building, delivery, installation and commissioning of two 30-megawatt converter units.

Siemens will also be responsible for the integration of the multilevel traction converter into the existing Amtrak 25-Hertz traction power supply network, enabling parallel operation with the existing converters. The Metuchen static frequency converter is expected to be completed in 2017.

“Siemens is currently the only supplier of multilevel direct converters,” said Elmar Zeiler, head of Siemens Rail Electrification Business. “They can be universally used in both central and decentralized traction power supply networks and are already successfully operating internationally.”

The Sitras SFC plus static frequency converter, which essentially consists of only one converter that directly couples the two networks, is a multilevel direct converter that supplies single-phase traction power networks from three-phase networks. The three-phase AC voltage is directly converted into a single-phase AC voltage with different frequency. No traction transformer is needed to feed the overhead contact line.

The Metuchen static frequency converter upgrading project is part of Amtrak’s New Jersey High Speed Rail Improvement Program (HSRIP) between Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J.

Siemens’ static frequency converters have been successfully in use worldwide since 1994, including the 180-megawatt station operating for Amtrak in the Philadelphia area.

CP Ends Exploratory Talks With CSX

October 21st, 2014

Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) has announced that exploratory conversations on a possible business combination with CSX Corp. have ended and no further talks are planned. CP will not comment further if conversations with CSX or any other party resume in the future unless required to do so by law.

CP proposed the integrated coast-to-coast combination believing it would alleviate congestion in North America – specifically in the Chicago gateway – while offering alternatives for shippers along with greater fluidity, increased capacity and improved efficiency industry-wide.

The railway is convinced that the challenges of moving more freight than ever and the prospect of moving even more as oil production, crop yields and consumer demand grows will only worsen if solutions, such as a pro-competition, safety-focused railway combination, are not put into place immediately.

In considering combinations, many railroads are deterred by regulatory concerns. CP believes that regulatory approvals are achievable if given the right structure between the right players while addressing shipper concerns.

CP’s CEO E. Hunter Harrison will hold a conference call and web cast today beginning at 1 pm Eastern time to discuss the topic of railroad mergers and acquisitions and the need for a comprehensive North American transportation policy.

NuDevco Purchases New Mexico Site for Crude Oil Terminal

October 21st, 2014

NuDevco Midstream Development, LLC (NMD) has announced the purchase of land in Eunice, N.M., where it plans to develop a crude oil terminal to service the western Permian Basin. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The acquired land includes rail spurs and truck siting, with the site currently being constructed to accommodate additional rail space and tank storage. NMD continues to purchase assets in the crude oil value chain, including rail cars, crude oil trucks, stabilizer tower units and storage tanks.

NMD, whose primary strategy is to purchase and develop midstream natural gas and crude oil logistics assets, is owned by NuDevco Partners, LLC (NuDevco), a sponsor of Marlin Midstream Partners, LP (Marlin). NuDevco is wholly owned by W. Keith Maxwell III, chairman and CEO of NMD and Marlin.

“We are pleased to announce the addition of these new assets in New Mexico, targeting the western Permian Basin’s increasing demand for crude oil storage and transportation services,” said Maxwell. “We plan on developing these new land assets over the next year as potential dropdown opportunities to Marlin.”

MassDOT Secretary & CEO Davey Resigns

October 21st, 2014
Richard A. Davey MassDOT

Richard A. Davey

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has announced that Richard A. Davey, Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) secretary and CEO, has resigned his position, effective November 1. Highway Administrator Frank DePaola has been appointed MassDOT acting secretary and CEO for the remainder of the Governor’s term.

“Rich Davey has been a key member of my team and one of the finest transportation leaders the Commonwealth has ever had,” said Governor Patrick. “He has been instrumental in our work to provide every region of this state with a safer, more efficient transportation system, a growing economy and a better quality of life. I thank him for his service and wish him every good thing in the future.”

As Secretary, Davey was responsible for continuing implementation of Transportation Reform, merging agencies and using technology to improve customer service. He freed up funds for infrastructure projects and used the Accelerated Bridge Program and innovative technologies to replace bridges in days instead of a year. Davey also launched the Go Time real-time traffic system, MBTA countdown clocks and All-Electronic Tolling on the Tobin Bridge.

The Secretary attended over 100 public meetings and rode the MBTA system an estimated 2,000 times over four years. He met regularly with transportation advocates and stakeholders and encouraged his staff to do the same.

Prior to his appointment as MassDOT secretary and CEO in September 2011, Davey served as the general manager of the MBTA and was the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Company, the Commonwealth’s former commuter rail provider.

“It has been the greatest joy and honor of my career serving as Transportation Secretary over the last three years,” said Davey. “I am deeply appreciative of the Governor for giving me the opportunity to serve and for being so supportive of our work.”

“Thanks to the Governor’s leadership, we’ve stood up to the challenges of hurricanes, tornados, blizzards and a terrorist bombing,” continued Davey. “Together, we’ve shaped a new, reformed department focused on safety, customer service, our employees, fiscal responsibility and innovation. And, we’ve renewed the public’s confidence in transportation by investing wisely in projects and initiatives all across the state – projects and initiatives that are creating jobs, improving the quality of life for our fellow citizens and ultimately leaving the Commonwealth better off than when we found it.”

Frank DePaola MassDOT

Frank DePaola

DePaola is a civil engineer who has led the MassDOT Highway Division since April 2011. He served as assistant general manager for design and construction at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) prior to his appointment. DePaola is a former employee of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Boston Water and Sewer Commission and Harvard University. He has experience in both government and infrastructure.

He earned an MS in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University and a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

“I have the utmost confidence in Frank and am glad he has agreed to step up and fill this critical post,” said Governor Patrick. “Frank is a level-headed leader and creative problem solver who has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to safe transportation for the people of Massachusetts.”

“I thank the Governor for his trust in me and for giving me the opportunity to serve in this capacity,” DePaola said. “We will continue to ensure our entire transportation network best serves the people who rely on it as we have done throughout the Administration.”