Archive for the ‘More News’ Category
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported a 1.1-percent increase (10,729 units) in U.S. intermodal traffic for February 2014 when compared to February 2013. Total containers and trailers were reported at 993,807 units. This is the 51st-consecutive year-over-year monthly increase for intermodal volume. February 2014 U.S. carload originations totaled 1,100,858, a decrease of 1.1 percent or 12,061 carloads when compared to February 2013.
Nine commodities showed gains in the number of carloads shipped in February 2014 when compared to February 2013. Grain reported the largest increase at 12.3 percent or 8,696 carloads. Grain mill products were up 10.1 percent or 3,645 carloads. Coal showed the largest decrease in the commodity group, down by 3.5 percent or 15,571 carloads from February 2013 while primary metal products decreased 7.2 percent or 3,092 carloads. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 0.9 percent or 5,186 carloads in February 2014 when compared to February 2013.
AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray commented on the February numbers, saying, “It would be nice to be able to separate out the effects of the harsh winter on rail traffic, but we can’t do that. We can probably expect improvements in the rail numbers in the months ahead, assuming that the weather and the economy cooperate.” “In the meantime,” continued Gray, “crude oil has become a significant part of the railroad business. Railroads know how important it is to move crude oil safely, and they are committed to continually searching for ways to make this happen.”
AAR also reported rail traffic for the week ending March 1, 2014. U.S. railroads originated 287,294 carloads, an increase of 1.4 percent compared to the same week in 2013. Intermodal volume was up 3.4 percent over the same week in 2013, with the weekly total at 257,710 units. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 545,004 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week in 2013.
Increases were reported for four commodities compared with the same week in 2013. The largest increase was in grain, up 14.3 percent with 19,746 carloads. Nonmetallic minerals and products were up 11.5 percent with 31,793 carloads reported. Metallic ores and metals showed the largest decrease with 23,863 carloads for the week, down 5.2 percent.
The first nine weeks of 2014 showed a decrease of 0.3 percent for U.S. railroads cumulative volume (2,446,042 carloads) when compared to the same time period in 2013. Intermodal units were reported at 2,177,092, an increase of 1.2 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic was 4,623,134 carloads and intermodal units for the first nine weeks of 2014, an increase of 0.4 percent compared to same time last year.
Canadian railroads reported a decrease of 11.8 percent for carloads when compared to the same week in 2013. Carloads for the week totaled 71,203. Intermodal units for the week were 54,344, an increase of 3 percent compared with 2013.
For the first nine weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads saw a decrease of 7.9 percent compared to the same nine weeks in 2013, with a reported cumulative volume of 635,287 carloads. Intermodal units saw a 0.8 percent decrease, with 455,652 intermodal units reported.
Mexican railroads reported 14,726 carloads for the week, a decrease of 2.6 percent when compared to 2013. Intermodal units were reported at 9,455, a decrease of 11.9 percent compared to the same week in 2013.
For the first nine weeks of 2014, Mexican railroads cumulative volume was 132,441 carloads, up 1.5 percent from 2013, and 85,860 intermodal units, down 1 percent.
For the first nine weeks of 2014, combined North American rail volume on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 3,213,770 carloads, a decrease of 1.8 percent compared with the same period in 2013, and 2,178,604 trailers and containers, an increase of 0.8 percent compared with last year.
Watco Companies has appointed Larry McCloud as the new general manager for the Grand Elk Railroad (GDLK). McCloud will be responsible for daily operations, where he will focus on improving safety, productivity and efficiency.
McCloud has 39 years of experience in the railway industry. Prior to joining Watco, he was vice president of operations for Industrial Railway since 1997. McCloud served as president of the Tuscola Saginaw Bay Railroad from 1991 to 1997. He was also vice president at RailAmerica from 1986 to 1991. Earlier in his career, he held a variety of positions at C&O Railway, including brakeman, conductor, fireman, engineer, yardmaster, and trainmaster.
Short line pioneer Marjorie “Maggie” Pinsly Silver has passed away. A memorial service is planned for March 12 in New York City.
She retired from the Pinsly Railroad Co. in 1997, following a more than 40-year career at the company her late father Samuel Pinsly started in 1938. She worked for the railroad company since 1965 and upon her father’s death in 1977, she succeeded him as president. In 2000, she became chairman of the board and her son, John P. Levine, became president.
Based in Westfield, Mass., the company owns and operates seven short line railroads: Pioneer Valley Railroad, Florida Central, Florida Midland and Florida Northern Railroads, the Arkansas Midland Railroad, The Prescott and Northwestern Railroad Company and the Warren & Saline River Railroad Company. The company also operates Railroad Distribution Services, a wholly owned subsidiary that functions as a full-service warehouse, reload, and distribution center.
In 1978, Silver joined the board of the then-called American Short Line Railroad Association and was the first elected vice president of the Eastern Region in 1989. At the end of her term, she was named director emeritus, and remained active in the association’s and the board’s activities in her retirement.
She left her mark as an accomplished owner of short lines, as a leader on the short line association’s board and as a mentor for hundreds of women just starting out their careers in the railroad industry.
She is survived by her husband, Robert “Bob” Glenn Smith, her children John Levine of Northampton, Mass., Anne Levine of Newton, Mass., Marc Levine of Fairfield, Conn. and Dr. James Levine of Granby, Mass. She was the stepmother of Leslie Smith of Ridgefield, Conn., and Lindsey Smith Hill of Newport, R.I., and grandmother of Natalie Levine, Samuel Kooris, Lily Levine, Sara Jackson, Jeremy Levine, Evan Smith, Stephen Paolini, and Maya Levine. A memorial service will be held at Frank E. Campbell-The Funeral Chapel, 1076 Madison Ave (81 St.) New York City on March 12 at 3:30 p.m.
Keolis North America, a subsidiary of Keolis SA, has been awarded a $2.6 billion contract to manage, operate and maintain the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail service for eight years. Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company is the current operator of the MBTA commuter rail line. Keolis North America will take over the operation on July 1, 2014.
Dr. Beverly A. Scott, MBTA general manager, stated, “The MBTA is looking forward to this partnership as we launch an exciting new era in Commuter Rail service. The new Commuter Rail contract will lead to an enhanced customer experience, more effective management and greater operator accountability.”
Dr. Scott remarked that customer benefits will be realized in a number of key areas including on-time performance, vehicle reliability, cleanliness, fare collection and communications.
The MBTA contract, the single largest public transportation contract in the country, includes the option for two additional two-year extensions. The total contract value would rise to $4.2 billion over 12 years if the extensions are granted.
“We are extremely proud to be selected to manage the MBTA, one of the premier commuter rail systems in the country,” said Steve Townsend, Keolis North America president.
“We pride ourselves in how we are ‘thinking like a passenger’ in operating a commuter rail system, improving customer service, on-time performance, and value for both the passenger and the system owner,” continued Townsend. ”We’ve demonstrated success in these areas with the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) contract and all of our U.S. and Canadian transportation system accounts, and we look forward to bringing this high level of service to MBTA starting this summer.”
RailTerm has announced several changes in their organization. The company believes the changes will enhance safety, allow company growth and deliver quality service to its customers.
François Prénovost, RailTerm executive vice president, remarked on the management changes at the company. “Firstly, we welcome Maxime Picard to the RailTerm team. Maxime brings with him significant practical and academic knowledge and we look forward to having Maxime lead our signal maintenance activities.”
“In addition,” continued Prénovost, “we are very fortunate to have such highly qualified and dedicated employees and I am certain that our customers will benefit from these management changes.”
Aaron Branston, vice president engineering and maintenance, will now handle all track, signal and right-of-way maintenance activities which have merged under the Engineering and Maintenance business unit. This will allow for common safety objectives and consistency in practices and execution in the department. The engineering and maintenance unit is also responsible for structures maintenance and inspection.
Jason Fries, vice president systems, will now focus on the expansion of systems and software project groups.
Robert Pershick, director of operations, Eastern Ontario, will be responsible for safety compliance, project work, track maintenance, internal technical training, and all other track related activities in the Ontario region. Pershick with report directly to Branston.
Phil Lemenchick, general manager, Eastern Ontario, will remain responsible for coordinating daily activities and for flag protection assignments.
Maxime Picard, manager, safety and signal maintenance, a recent employee with RailTerm, will oversee all of the company’s signal maintenance activities including those on VIA Rail Canada territory, AMT territory, Capital Railway territory and Nylene Canada territory. He will also be responsible for safety compliance, tracking and reporting for the signal maintenance group. Picard will report directly to Branston.
Ryan Lemenchick, manager, safety and maintenance planning, will be responsible for safety of operations and regulatory compliance on all territories. His duties will also include planning maintenance programs and resources, budgeting and scheduling. Lemenchick will report directly to Branston.
Kirk Raycraft, manager track & signals, Southwestern Ontario, will remain responsible for managing track and signal activities on the Chatham Subdivision and Windsor Terminal. Kirk reports directly to Branston.
Paul Rodrigue, manager track & signals, Quebec, will continue with the responsibility of track and signal activities on AMT territory that is maintained by RailTerm. Rodrigue will report directly to Branston.
Kevin Garson, manager, systems construction, will be responsible for the management of the systems construction group, which delivers signaling, electrical and communications projects. He will report to Fries.
Providence and Worcester Railroad Company (P&W), a short line based in Worcester, Mass., has installed a solar photo-voltaic (PV) system in its rail yard and adjoining properties thanks to financing from Key Equipment Finance, an equipment finance company and an affiliate of KeyCorp.
Doug Beebe, vice president, energy finance, for Key Equipment Finance said, “Providence and Worcester Railroad is a green-minded business that recognizes the cost-saving benefits of solar energy. They are leasing the solar array to offset a portion of their increasingly high energy costs at their railroad yard.”
P&W is earning income from selling Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) that are generated for each 1,000 kilowatt-hours of produced energy. Local utilities must purchase the SRECs in order to meet the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard.
“Energy savings is an important strategy for Providence and Worcester Railroad as we invest in our business and prepare for our next 40 years,” said P&W CFO Dan Noreck. “Key Equipment Finance enabled us to quickly implement total solar financing for the entire cost of the solar array, allowing us to use those dollars for the infrastructure improvements that are so critical to our business.”
The solar array, which was developed and installed by Solect Energy Development, will generate an estimated annual 190kW of electricity that should yield significant savings in the next 20 years. When the solar lease ends, P&W will exercise the buyout for the PV system, which has an expected 25- to 30-year life.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has described as the centerpiece of President Obama’s FY 2015 DOT budget his four-year $302 billion plan to improve the operation and condition of the nation’s surface transportation systems.
The proposed budget would be paid for with $150 billion from transition revenue generated from business tax reforms, along with current revenues from the gas tax.
The proposal has earmarked $10 billion for a new multimodal freight grant program for projects that improve the efficiency in transporting goods. The program includes incentives for shippers, truck and rail industry representatives and associated labor organizations to coordinate with state and local freight infrastructure investments. The DOT will also continue to offer incentives to Metropolitan Planning Organizations in serving regional needs.
A new Center within DOT to improve inter-agency coordination on project review in order to expedite review timelines is included in the budget proposal.
Focus is also placed on the “Fix-it-First” approach to transportation systems which consists of the following: encouraging government and industry partners to improve and make optimal use of system capacity; implementing sound asset management principles; achieving and maintaining a state of good repair of existing transportation systems.
For the first year, $5 billion of a proposed four-year $19 billion rail reauthorization is requested to invest in rail safety, passenger, and rail investment programs. This is an increase of $3.4 billion above FY 2014 enacted levels. It also proposes $4.8 billion to establish a National High-Performance Rail System (NHPRS) to support current operations and to improve the rail system for the future.
A request for $35 million for safety-related research and development activities and a request for $185 million to support the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) portfolio of rail safety and development program are also included in the President’s budget proposal.
In addition to providing $10 billion over four years to strengthen the country’s freight system, the FY2015 budget proposal includes $40 million over two years to support multimodal prevention and response efforts that will improve the safe transportation of energy products. This funding is a direct outcome of DOT’s efforts on the transportation of crude oil from the Bakken region and will be managed by the Office of the Secretary for increased inspections, investigations and research.
Federated Railways, Inc., an affiliate of Federated Capital Corporation, has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Rail Logistics, LC, including its “Cold Train” Express Intermodal Service.
The new subsidiary, which will be called “Federated Cold Train, LLC.”, will conduct business as Cold Train. The company will keep its headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas, and Steve Lawson, President and CEO, will remain along with the current management team and staff.
Louis P. Ferris, president of Federated Capital Corp., commented on the acquisition. “The addition of Cold Train to our portfolio of service and asset-based companies will allow Federated Capital Corporation to add the fast growing ‘domestic intermodal’ sector to its freight rail transportation portfolio,” said Ferris. “This is important as many shippers and receivers are looking for door-to-door intermodal logistics solutions that decrease cost, increase efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint. Federated Capital plans to add a minimum of 1,000 containers to the Cold Train fleet over the next 5 years, bringing the fleet to 1,400 containers.”
Federated Capital Corp.’s holdings consist of a variety of service, leasing, and railroad assets including the Great Lakes Central Railroad, Inc. (GLCR), a 400-mile regional railroad operating in Michigan, and Federated Railcar, Inc., owner of a fleet of refurbished passenger cars.
The “Cold Train” Express Intermodal Service was launched by Rail Logistics in partnership with BNSF Railway from the Washington Port of Quincy Intermodal Terminal in 2010. A Cold Train service was recently established from Portland, Ore.
Cold Train expanded its Washington-State based refrigerated container fleet to over 400 Hyundai 53′ containers last year. The company delivers refrigerated cargo from Washington and Oregon to 20 states and runs a regular express service from Washington and Oregon to Toronto, Ontario.
“We are excited about becoming part of the Federated group of companies,” said Cold Train President Steve Lawson, “and with Federated’s resources behind Cold Train, we will have the capital necessary to keep pace with the continued increasing demand as we move towards our goal of becoming the largest asset-based temperature controlled domestic pure intermodal carrier.”
Lawson also stated, “With fuel prices continuing to remain high and long haul trucks becoming increasingly regulated and in tighter supply, shippers and receivers are finding that Cold Train provides a reliable, cost-effective and fast transportation option, while also adding much needed capacity.”
The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. has reported that 5,600 railcars valued at approximately $460 million have been ordered in its second fiscal quarter, which ended Feb. 28, 2014. The orders include 1,100 units valued at approximately $130 million received in December 2013. Greenbrier has received orders for nearly 8,200 railcars in North America and Europe valued at over $690 million since Sept. 1, 2013, the beginning of the company’s fiscal year.
Orders for the second fiscal quarter included 1,200 intermodal platforms. For that same time period, other orders were received for small cube covered hoppers and tank cars used in the energy sector, automotive-related products, medium and large cube covered hopper cars for the grain and plastic pellet markets, boxcars for paper and forest products markets, and gondola cars for metal and scrap.
Greenbrier expects that the current downward trends in railroad train velocity should result in stronger demand in the future for certain railcars.
“Our business is benefitting from broad-based demand for all of our car types, including increased demand for intermodal platforms as intermodal loadings accelerate and rail velocity slows due to system congestion,” said William A. Furman, chairman and CEO of Greenbrier. “An important aspect of the new tank car operating safety standards is the requirement for reduced railway speeds for most trains carrying crude oil. Slower train speed means velocity across the entire network will likely be affected. As velocity on the rails slows, we believe there will be an increase in demand for certain railcar types carried in unit trains, such as grain and intermodal.”
As a result of the energy renaissance in the U.S., crude by rail shipments have climbed from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to more than 400,000 carloads in 2013, according to Furman. “While 99.97 percent of these shipments arrive without incident, our common goal should be zero rail incidents. We are pleased that the AAR and DOT have taken steps to make rail transport safer for both our communities and environment with new operating standards.”
“We recently announced our new tank car design which includes a thicker hull, high-flow pressure relief valves, head shields, top fittings protection, and thermal protection. These characteristics of our “tank car of the future” align with the recent request for proposal issued by the BNSF Railway Company to build up to 5,000 tank cars with enhanced safety performance requirements,” stated Furman. “Additionally we are offering retrofit alternatives for the legacy tank car fleet, including the most recently built CPC-1232 tank cars, with features that will reduce the likelihood of tank cars releasing contents in derailments.”
AMT, a government agency that oversees public transport services in the Greater Montreal area, is acquiring CN’s entire Deux-Montagnes Subdivision. The line, a rail corridor of 21 miles, runs from St-Eustache to the entrance of Montreal’s Central Station and includes the Mount Royal tunnel. More than 7.5 million customers per year travel on the Deux-Montagnes line.
The purchase of the corridor is part of the Government of Québec’s strategy to ensure that 95 percent of trips in collective transport are electrically powered by 2030.
Nicolas Girard, the CEO of AMT, stated, “This is great news for public transport in the region, particularly because the purchase of rail corridor Deux-Montagnes will reduce operating costs by eliminating the annual rent. The AMT will finally have the full autonomy and be able to develop future projects as it sees fit.”
“In reality, this acquisition will allow us to make annual savings of approximately $5.2 million, increase our flexibility in this line and provide better service to our customers,” said Girard.
CN will retain freight operating rights over a portion of the line where freight customers are located.