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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.”

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board Re-Elects Officers

October 20th, 2014
Dart Board Chair Robert Strauss

Robert W. Strauss

The Board of Directors of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) held elections for several board officer positions, re-electing Robert W. Strauss as chair for the coming year.

Strauss was appointed to the DART board by the Dallas city council in 2006. He is a partner at the Dallas-based law firm of Strasburger & Price, LLP. He earned a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from New York University, a law degree from Brooklyn Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College, City University of New York.

Faye Moses Wilkins Vice-Chair DART Board

Faye Moses Wilkins

Faye Moses Wilkins was re-elected as vice chair. A Plano and Farmers Branch representative, Wilkins was appointed to the board in 1999. She is president of The Wilkins Group, Inc., a telecommunications and systems integration firm headquartered in the Richardson Telecom Corridor.

Richard Carrizales Secretary  DART board

Richard Carrizales

Richard Carrizales, an attorney in private practice, was re-elected as secretary to the board. He has been a Dallas representative since 2010.

Gary Slagel

Gary Slagel

Gary Slagel was re-elected as assistant secretary. Slagel, who represents Richardson, Addison, Highland Park and University Park, is president and chief executive officer of CapitalSoft, Inc., a software development firm.

Trains Continue Replacing Buses on Philadelphia Area’s SEPTA Weekend Overnight Service

October 20th, 2014

The Philadelphia area Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is extending weekend overnight subway service indefinitely, due to overwhelming popularity of the pilot hours on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines.

The pilot hours, which launched earlier this year on June 15, aimed to accommodate and evaluate rider demand for late night weekend service. On average, 15,000 riders boarded trains between midnight and 5:00 a.m. during these hours, representing a significant increase in the baseline average of 9,000 travelers who previously used the weekend Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines Nite Owl service operated with buses.

Overnight passenger gains were strongest on the Market-Frankford Line, with an average of 10,000 riders each weekend. An average of 5,000 riders boarded trains on the Broad Street Line during weekend pilot hours.

During holiday weekends, ridership gains peaked more than 100 percent on select days. Over the July 4, weekend, 24,430 riders traveled on both lines during the overnight hours. Ridership peaked again over Labor Day weekend, with 17, 192 passengers choosing overnight subway travel.

Passenger safety was also evaluated during the pilot, and safety issues were minimal with a proactive increase in SEPTA Police presence on overnight trains.

SEPTA said the positive ridership trends are encouraging, but this service is more costly than the bus service previously offered so they are examining areas to reduce costs without compromising safety.

“Late night customers have proven, by riding in record numbers each weekend that this is service they want,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. “SEPTA is proud to be part of Philadelphia’s late night renaissance. That’s why even with the increased costs we have decided to continue overnight service.”

UP Scores Highest Among Railroads on CDP’s S&P 500

October 20th, 2014

Union Pacific Railroad (UP) has been named in the top 10 percent of this year’s CDP S&P 500 Climate Disclosure Leadership Index, achieving its best performance on the CDP and scoring the highest among railroads with a carbon disclosure score of 99 out of a possible 100.

The Index lists companies on the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index that disclose information on their greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related risks and opportunities.

“Engaging stakeholders, including customers and employees, through our carbon disclosure, we reaffirm Union Pacific’s resolve to continue innovating for environmental progress,” said Bob Grimaila, vice president of safety, security and environment. “Ultimately, this supports our commitment to providing the nation with safe, efficient and sustainable freight solutions.”

UP’s carbon disclosure score is a 1-point improvement over last year, with the company maintaining its B rating, on an A to E scale, in CDP’s performance band. Along with listing technology, training and operational innovations to increase fuel efficiency, the railroad also shared its approaches to responsible water management, completing the CDP’s water questionnaire for the first time.