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Watco Launches New International Division

September 27th, 2016

Watco Supply Chain Services, LLC has announced the launch of Watco Supply Chain Services International, LLC, which will be led by Annie Yan. The new division is a registered non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) and an indirect air carrier (IAC).

Yan, who has 20 years of experience in international shipping, joined Watco to lead the new segment.

“We are pleased to have Annie and team join forces with the Watco team,” stated Eric Wolfe, president of Watco Supply Chain Services International. “We see ever-growing demand for these international services, particularly in and out of the Houston market.”

The new division, which will complement Watco’s core Port and Terminal service offerings, will specialize in oversized/overweight project cargo, break bulk, air/ocean charters, specialized containers, LCL and FCL.

“Annie and her team began moving air and containerized shipments immediately and we look forward to see forward growth propelled via the strategic alignment with other Watco assets,” added Wolfe.

Watco Supply Chain Services, LLC is a subsidiary of Watco Companies.

LA Metro to Enhance Transit Security

September 27th, 2016

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors has approved a nearly $82 million contract to almost double the amount of contract security officers on its bus and rail system. The contract, part of a strategy to deter crime and disorder on the transit system, was awarded to RMI International, Inc., effective October 1, 2016, through September 30, 2017.

“In the last 26 years, Metro has added 105 miles of rail, more than 100 rail stations and numerous transit centers,” said John Fasana, Metro Board chair. “This action to enhance security is a critical step in ensuring our passengers have a safe and secure experience.”

Metro’s security staffing plan is comprised of Metro security officers, private sector security officers and state certified law enforcement professionals.

“Safety and security of our customers and our employees is Metro’s number one priority,” stated Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “This is part of our overall strategic plan to maximize our visibility and resources across our system.”

The new security proposal will add more staff to key hubs, rail stations and parking facilities in addition to safeguarding critical infrastructure. In some cases, the staff will patrol 24/7.The high-visibility presence is augmented by video surveillance.

Metro Chief Systems, Security and Law Enforcement Officer Alex Wiggins said, “Our security officers serve as the eyes and ears for law enforcement, patrol key areas, and notify law enforcement when required. Security officers complement the vital role of law enforcement, but do not replace it and this action follows through with the CEO’s directive to enhance security through new enforcement presence system wide.”

Wiggins noted that additional security is necessary to support ridership growth, provide additional resources to first responders, and improve rider retention and perception of safety by riders and employees.

Railcare Awards Siemens Contract for Seven Locomotives

September 27th, 2016

Rail freight operator Railcare has awarded Siemens a contract to supply seven Vectron locomotives. The contract also calls for Siemens to supply service and maintenance of the locomotives for eight years.

The new locomotives will be used to haul freight in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in unaccompanied combined transport (UCT).

All locomotives will be equipped with a diesel power module which allows the locomotive to operate for short stretches without overhead power lines, such as on sidings or while shunting in yards. With the diesel power module, Railcare does not have to operate supplementary shunting locomotives. The 6.4-MW locomotive has a top speed of 160 kilometers an hour.

Railcare is a wholly owned subsidiary of Coop, the Swiss retailer and wholesaler, and transports freight in Switzerland with its own trains and trucks.

Metra Trains Meet On-Time Goal

September 26th, 2016

Metra, the operator of the Northeast Illinois commuter rail system, has reported an on-time performance rate of 95.7 percent for the month of August, compared to the month’s five-year average of 95 percent. Metra’s goal is to operate at least 95 percent of its trains on time.

“We’ve worked hard to minimize delays due to construction activity, but we know that some construction work has impacted our on-time performance this summer,” said Don Orseno, Metra executive director and CEO. “While repairs to our tracks and ties will always be necessary to maintain our system, we continue to find ways to minimize the impact of this work on our customers.”

Metra follows the rest of the U.S. commuter railroad industry in considering a train to have operated on time if it reaches its final destination within five minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival.

This August, Metra recorded 780 of 18,245 trains were late by six minutes or more, with the most common cause being track construction. Human error, mechanical issues and freight interference were other major causes of Metra train delays in August 2016.

Bombardier Delivers First Vehicle to Delhi Metro

September 26th, 2016
Bombardier celebrates delivery of first car to Delhi Metro. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.

Bombardier celebrates delivery of first car to Delhi Metro. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.

In a ceremony held at InnoTrans 2016 in Berlin, Bombardier Transportation celebrated the delivery of the first metro car to Delhi Metro from an order placed last year. The ceremony was attended by Benoît Cattin-Martel, president of Bombardier Transportation’s Asia Pacific region, who presented a commemorative metro car key to HS Anand, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd’s (DMRC) director of rolling stock.

Delhi Metro ordered an additional 162 BOMBARDIER MOVIA metro cars in 2015. The new trains will increase the number of DMRC’s existing fleet of BOMBARDIER MOVIA metros from 614 to 776 and make it one of the largest Bombardier metro fleets in the world.

“These new cars are being procured by Delhi Metro for services on its presently operational red, blue and yellow lines,” said Anand. “These cars will be put into service in a phased manner after the mandatory tests and trials. The addition of these cars will go a long way in providing safe and comfortable travel to our valued commuters”

The MOVIA metro vehicles are a six-car configuration, accommodating up to 1,740 passengers. Once configured into eight-car sets, the trains will carry as many as 2,400 passengers, providing a capacity increase on two of Delhi’s main metro lines that serve more than 50 percent of Delhi Metro’s average current ridership of approximately three million passengers a day.

Bombardier is Delhi Metro’s largest supplier of signaling systems and one of its largest suppliers of rolling stock with more than $1.2 billion worth of orders placed since 2007. Bombardier has delivered, or is in the process of delivering, signaling solutions for more than 120 track kilometers for Delhi Metro’s Lines 5 and 6 with extensions and Line 7.

Bombardier Transportation operates a railway vehicle manufacturing site and bogie assembly hall in Savli near Vadodara, Gujarat, and a propulsion systems manufacturing facility at Maneja. It also has a Rail Control Solutions Center for project delivery and product engineering, and an Information Services India hub near Gurgaon, Delhi NCR and an Engineering Center in Hyderabad.

“The high degree of localization executed in the project at Bombardier’s Savli and Maneja sites fulfils the requirements of the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign and Delhi Metro’s indigenous procurement plan that encourages local manufacturing,” stated Cattin-Martel.

“Our energy efficient trains have helped the city of Delhi improve mobility and manage pollution levels as well as provided effective public transport during the 2010 Commonwealth Games,” added Cattin-Martel. “Our vehicles have also contributed to Delhi Metro receiving UN carbon credits, a world’s first for a metro project.”

Photo: Benoit Cattin Martel and Harsh Dhingra from Bombardier Transportation present commemorative Metro key to HS Anand, DMRC director of rolling stock. 

NY Governor Announces Improvements to Two LIRR Stations

September 26th, 2016

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that improvements will be made to the Hicksville and Jamaica Stations on the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) 40-mile line between Jamaica and Ronkonkoma.

Work has begun on a $121 million project to rebuild, reimagine and modernize the Hicksville station, the busiest station on Long Island. LIRR has also awarded a $64.9 million contract to create a new platform and tracks at the Jamaica station, the LIRR’s central hub and main transfer point. The projects are funded by the Governor’s $27 Billion MTA Capital Program.

“Revamping these two heavily trafficked transportation hubs will provide better, faster and more reliable train service for Long Island Rail Road riders,” said Governor Cuomo. “Time and time again, transportation investment has a ripple effect of progress and economic growth on the surrounding community.”

“These projects are part of this administration’s aggressive and comprehensive plan to revamp the state’s infrastructure and are two more reasons why New York is Built to Lead,” added Cuomo.

Work started this month on the modernization of the LIRR’s 55 year old Hicksville station and the preparation of an adjacent site where the railroad will build a new connection to an existing siding west of the station.

Upgrades to the station include: Wi-Fi and USB charging stations; enhanced interior waiting room; new platforms with glass-enclosed, heated waiting rooms; improved lighting; a translucent canopy roof; improved stairways, escalators, plaza elevators; and a video security system, audio and digital communications systems and better signage. The station will also feature laminated art glass installations by New York-based artist Roy Nicholson. The station work is expected to be completed by the spring of 2018.

At the direction of Governor Cuomo, the construction timeframe was reduced to 22 months, 13 months sooner than originally planned. The Hicksville project is supported by the MTA Capital Program.

“The modernization and expansion of the Long Island Rail Road is critical to the economic growth of our region and thus we commend Governor Cuomo’s historic investments in infrastructure projects like the Third Track and Double Track, as well as the reconstruction of a brand new LIRR station at one of our busiest hubs in Hicksville,” remarked Kevin S. Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association.

Jamaica Station’s new platform will have glass-enclosed, heated waiting areas and Wi-Fi and USB charging stations. It will also feature brightly colored art glass installations by New York-based artist James Little on the station’s westerly bridge, and on the stairs leading from the platform to the AirTrain mezzanine.

The Jamaica Station infrastructure was built in 1913. The new platform and tracks will allow the LIRR to more easily re-route trains, take tracks out of service and support supplemental train service to and from Atlantic Terminal.

“More tracks and platforms mean fewer delays. This award for Phase I of the project, which is funded by the Capital Plan, is great news,” stated MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “It will help speed up what LIRR customers have come to call ‘the Jamaica Crawl,’ introduce new services such as Wi-Fi and USB charging stations, and build on our ongoing commitment to renew, enhance and expand every aspect of the MTA.”

The project is one element of the Jamaica Capacity Improvements Project that began in 2010 and is being carried out in two phases with a projected investment of $442 million by the end of 2019. Funding for Phase I of the project comes from a combination of the MTA’s 2010-2014 capital plan and the 2015-2019 plan.

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said, “We continue to invest in the upkeep and rehabilitation of critical transportation and infrastructure, guaranteeing a more efficient commute for thousands of New Yorkers. The Hicksville and Jamaica station hubs are two of the busiest locations in the state, and these updates will not only enable us to provide more frequent train service, but dramatically improve the travel experience for our riders, overall. I look forward to the progress of this project, and thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to this issue.”

The investment in the stations are among a number of projects to improve LIRR service on the central spine of the railroad, which lies between Jamaica and Ronkonkoma.

Sound Transit Link Light Rail Service to Angle Lake Begins Tomorrow

September 23rd, 2016

Seattle Area’s Sound Transit Link Light rail service to Angle Lake opens September 24, 2016, with a dedication ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and a City of SeaTac community celebration at 11 a.m.

The Angle Lake Station includes a 1,050-stall garage, 70-space surface lot, van pool parking and passenger drop-off/pickup area. Passengers boarding at Angle Lake can take a four-minute trip to the airport, a 41-minute trip to downtown’s Westlake Station and a 48-minute trip to the University of Washington Station at Husky Stadium.

“Saturday will be a day of celebration for the entire region as we continue to expand Link light rail. This station is the latest addition to a light rail network that is transforming commutes and communities,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “People love light rail, and the Angle Lake Station will be an amazing asset to get South county commuters out of gridlock.”

The dedication ceremony, which is being sponsored by Alaska Airlines, will include remarks by elected officials and project partners, a ribbon-cutting on the station platform and an inaugural train ride to Sea-Tac Airport. The City of SeaTac Community celebration will include entertainment, refreshments and other activities.

By 2018, Angle Lake Station will serve 5,400 each weekday.

BART Finishes Track Repair Ahead of Schedule

September 23rd, 2016

San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has completed a track construction and repair project between Daly City and Balboa Park stations two weeks ahead of schedule. The project was initially slated to cover seven weekends of repair work. All weekend service has now been restored.

Weekend shutdowns allowed workers to replace worn rail near Balboa Park, as well as reconstruct a crossover. This crossover is being finished during regular maintenance hours and will likely go into regular service in early October. Crews also installed sound dampers through the area. These will reduce vibration from the trains running overhead, which will help quiet screeching rails.

If crews had not been able to work for the five weekends, the repairs would have taken more than four months, and some of the work would not have been possible.

The project included replacing more than 4,000 feet of rail and 930 old wooden ties; installing 2,800 dampers; reconfiguring power systems; rebuilding a local portion of the train control system; laying 1,600 feet of cable; and removing five dead or dying trees,  which threatened to obstruct the right-of-way.

BART has budgeted $71.5 million for core system reinvestment. Much of its infrastructure, such as rails, power transmission cabling, substations, tunnels, and track circuitry, has deteriorated to the point of needing replacement. BART has placed Bond Measure RR on November’s presidential ballot. If voters approve, Bond Measure RR would be dedicated to helping pay for the cost of capital improvements such as rail replacement.

United Wagon to Open U.S. Subsidiary

September 23rd, 2016

Seeking to expand its exports, United Wagon Company (UWC), a Russia-based manufacturer of freight cars, is opening a U.S. subsidiary, Uniwagon North America Corp., in New Jersey. UWC’s shareholding in the new company is 100 percent.

Uniwagon North America Corp. is intended to facilitate the entry of UWC’s products to the North American market. UWC expects to have the subsidiary registered and to begin operations before the end of September.

“With our expertise and world-class manufacturing facilities, we expect successful export performance,” stated Maxim Kuzemchenko, UWC’s deputy chief executive officer, business development. “The approach we take is to make the most of our powerful engineering and design solutions, global access to components made under a wide range of standards, as well as flexible and highly efficient production processes. Apart from the U.S., we are seeking to expand our exports to Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.”

Earlier, UWC reported its entry into contracts with Wabtec Corporation, a supplier of products for rail industries, and Cardwell Westinghouse, a Wabtec company. The parties agreed on supplying heavy railcar castings (side frames and bolsters) to the United States for the purposes of manufacturing Barber S2HD (America’s most common bogie with an axle load of 30 tf), and high-tensile railcar springs.

FTA Signs Off on METRO Blue Line Extension’s EIS

September 22nd, 2016

The Metropolitan Council, the provider of services for the Minneapolis–Saint Paul (Twin Cities) region, has announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has signed off on the METRO Blue Line Extension Light Rail Transit Project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“The completion of the federal environmental review is an important milestone for the Blue Line Extension LRT Project,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck.

The next step is for the Metropolitan Council to vote on the adequacy of the Final EIS, which it will do on September 28, after which the state environmental review process for the project will be concluded. The Council will then ask the FTA to authorize the project’s entry into the engineering phase.

“The project will be poised then to advance the design over the next year and request federal funding in spring 2017,” Duininck added.

The METRO Blue Line Extension will travel approximately 13 miles from downtown Min­neapolis through north Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park. It will feature 11 new stations and will connect with the METRO Green Line and the Northstar commuter rail line.