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Renovations Begin at Philadelphia’s 69th Street West Terminal

April 17th, 2015

Elected officials and community leaders attended a recent groundbreaking ceremony held by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to mark the beginning of renovations to the West Terminal at 69th Street Transportation Center in Philadelphia. The 105-year old multi-modal facility serves SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Rail Line, Norristown High Speed Rail Line, 2 trolley routes and 18 bus routes.

“Almost 35,000 people use 69th Street Transportation Center every day,” SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey said at the event. “The improvements we are making at the West Terminal will ensure that those customers will have a restored and modernized place where they can catch our buses and trolleys.”

Renovations at the West Terminal include reconstructing pedestrian ramps to the North platform, the Center Platform and waiting area, and canopies and terminal platforms. The South Platform will be reconstructed and security cameras will be installed throughout the terminal. The renovations will include environmental design features such as green roofs to reduce storm water drainage, LED lighting, and elements featuring natural light and reduced energy use in the passenger waiting area.

Work is already underway on the project, with the entire West Terminal to close on June 15 while the remainder of the project is completed. Renovations are scheduled to be completed in November 2015.

“SEPTA’s 69th Street Transportation Center is a transit gateway for travel to and around Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Chester counties,” stated Casey. “Without federal and state support, we would not have been able to complete this necessary work.”

“I applaud our elected officials for recognizing the need for investing in our transportation infrastructure and awarding SEPTA the funding needed for this vital reconstruction project that will that improve mobility and strengthen our community,” added Casey.

The $19.6 million 69th Street Transportation Center West Terminal Improvements Project is funded through the Federal Transit Administration Bus and Bus Facility Livability Grant Program and Pennsylvania Act 89.

AAR Notes Effectiveness of Freight Rail Safety Advancements

April 17th, 2015

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has noted that the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) latest safety statistics released this month confirmed that 2014 was the safest year on record for United States freight train operations.

“The freight rail industry is working all out to prevent any train incident, large or small,” said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the AAR. “It is an ongoing 24/7 commitment and our goal remains zero accidents. Freight railroads are always looking to further advance safety and will continue to move forward with safety-focused initiatives and cutting-edge research and development.”

The FRA freight rail safety data, which is based on million square train miles, has shown that the train accident rate has dropped to a new low of 45 percent since 2000, with the rate of 2014 train accidents down 7 percent compared with 2013.

Other highlights in the safety data include a decrease of 54 percent in the track-caused accident rate since 2000 and a drop of 12 percent in this rate when compared to 2013. The 2014 equipment-caused accident rate is 44 percent lower compared to 2000 and 6 percent lower compared to the rate of equipment-caused accidents in 2013. Since 2000, the rate for human factor-caused accidents has declined 44 percent, and a decline of 4 percent was seen in comparison to the 2013 rate.

Hamberger pointed out that $575 billion has been spent since 1980 on maintaining and modernizing the 140,000-mile rail system, and plans for 2015 include spending $29 billion in upgrading rail infrastructure and equipment.

“The FRA statistics show that while freight railroads moved more products in 2014 than any time since 2007, the focus on safe train operations remained front and center through technological improvements, company-wide safety programs and ongoing record spending back into rail operations,” stated Hamberger.

New Streetcar Line Debuts in Dallas

April 17th, 2015
Dallas electric streetcar begins service. Photo: courtesy of DART.

Dallas electric streetcar begins service. Photo: courtesy of DART.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has started service on a new 1.6 mile electric streetcar line that runs from the Dallas Union Station to the city’s Oak Cliff area. The line is the first phase of a streetcar system project overseen by DART, targeting commuters in mixed-use districts adjacent to downtown Dallas and helps connect them to transportation choices in the city center.

“Our track record with DART Light Rail and the Trinity Railway Express gave the city of Dallas confidence that we also could successfully design, build, operate and maintain the Dallas Streetcar,” stated Gary Thomas, DART president and executive director.

The second phase of the project will extend the streetcar route to the Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District and is expected to be completed by early 2016. Planning is currently underway for the third segment, which will extend the line to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and Omni Dallas Hotel.

The City of Dallas, DART, North Central Texas Council of Governments, Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) partnered in the streetcar project. The project received $26 million in funding from federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.

“Dallas is taking another notable step forward in its efforts to build an efficient, reliable and connected transportation network that helps grow the region’s economy and connects hard-working families to jobs and opportunity,” FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan stated. “We’re calling on Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill that will make more projects like the Dallas Streetcar a reality.”

Baggs Promoted to CSX Treasurer

April 16th, 2015

David Baggs will assume the position of CSX vice president and treasurer in addition to his current role as investor relations officer, effective July 1 , on the retirement of vice president-tax and treasurer David Boor. Currently serving as vice president-capital markets and investor relations, Baggs, in his new role, will continue to report to Fredrik Eliasson, executive vice president and CEO.

Boor has worked for CSX for 28 years, serving as vice president-tax and treasurer since 2005. He has managed many of the company’s major financial transactions, and has overseen CSX activities in capital structure, capital and debt markets, and financial investments. Boor has also managed CSX taxes, including compliance and planning.

“We have been fortunate to have David Boor’s deep reservoir of knowledge and experience in the critical management of our capital and debt markets,” said Eliasson. “We are equally fortunate to have David Baggs step into this role and continue to make significant contributions to value creation for CSX shareholders. We look forward to continuing the strategic leadership of this important function.”

Baggs joined CSX in 1985 and has worked in leadership positions in economic analysis, business planning and corporate strategy. He helped to design CSX’s financial strategy that balances capital investments in transportation infrastructure with competitive shareholder returns. The company’s investor relations program has been recognized by Institutional Investor magazine for the past five years as among the best in the air freight and surface transportation sector.

Baggs earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management and a master’s degree in business administration from The College of William and Mary. He is a member of the National Investor Relations Institute, the Association for Financial Professionals, the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross (North Florida) and serves on the finance advisory board of the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

DEIS Published for Seattle Light Rail Extension

April 16th, 2015

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for  Seattle area’s Sound Transit Link light rail extension project to the Kent/Des Moines and to Federal Way has been published

The DEIS includes four alternatives with various station and alignment options. It details how the project might affect transportation, economic development, properties in the study area and environmental resources. It also includes ridership potential and conceptual cost comparisons.

The project extends light rail service 7.6 miles south of the future Angle Lake Station in the City of SeaTac, paralleling Interstate 5 and State Route 99. The Federal Way extension will be built only when funding is available.

Public comments on the DEIS may be submitted on-line, through e-mail (FWLE@soundtransit.org) or by mailing comments to Federal Way Link Extension, Draft EIS Comments, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98104. The public comment period will run from April 10 through May 26.

The Sound Transit Board is expected to identify a preferred alternative for the extension by summer 2015. A Final Environmental Impact Statement is planned for release in mid-2016, with the Board selecting the project to be built later that year. Final design will begin in 2017 and construction in 2019. Service to Kent/Des Moines is expected to start in 2023.

Chicago’s Metra Continues Track Projects

April 16th, 2015

Chicago area’s Metra will be replacing ties and switches on the Milwaukee District Lines from spring through fall of this year.

Approximately 5,000 ties on the inbound track of the Milwaukee District North Line between Libertyville and North Glenview are expected to be replaced by May 1. From May through mid-June, work will take place on all three tracks along a five-mile stretch from Canal Street to Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood to replace approximately 10,000 ties.

“Tracks, ties and switches are the foundation of the railroad,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “These maintenance projects are key components of our ability to provide our customers with safe and reliable service. In addition to keeping our railroad safe, replacing worn ties has the added benefit of providing our riders with a smoother, more comfortable ride.”

Other projects on Metra include switch and rail crossover replacements on the Milwaukee District North and West lines over the spring and summer months. Seven rail crossings will also be replaced along the Milwaukee District West Line. The Mayfair and Grayland stations will be rehabbed and Metra will be resurfacing the platforms as well as renewing fencing and railings at the Deerfield Station on the Milwaukee District North Line.

Central California Traction Acquires Two Brookville Tier-4 Cogeneration Locomotives

April 15th, 2015

One of CCT's new Tier 4 locomotive from Brookville. Photo: courtesy of Brookville.

Pennsylvania-based Brookville Equipment Corporation shipped two EPA Tier-4 BL12CG CoGenerationTM low-emissions switchers to Central California Traction (CCT) to be used for freight haulage on the two short line rail corridors of Stockton Public Belt Railroad Network and the Central Valley Branch. This is the second CoGeneration order completion for CCT, which purchased a BL21CG 2100hp three-engine gen-set locomotive in 2012.

“Brookville’s Tier-4 CoGeneration locomotives minimize environmental impact without sacrificing the power and performance associated with single-engine packages,” said Chris Rhoades, Brookville director of sales. “These locomotives are a modern solution that will meet the needs of what has been one of the most well-operated short line railroads in the United States since 1905.”

The 132-ton BL12CG locomotives have twin Cummins 600hp six-cylinder engines, which meet the EPA Tier-4 emissions standards, and are mated to independent three-phase Marathon alternators. The BL12CGs feature a 26L locomotive air brake system, automatic engine start and stop to reduce idling times, and D78 traction motors mounted on each axle of the rebuilt two-axle trucks.

The locomotives also have control systems with instant diagnostics to improve fuel efficiency, a wide cab design with a sideways-stationed operator control stand, and a heavy-duty FRA-crashworthy welded frame.

“CCT has had great results with CCT 2101, the Tier-3 three-engine BL21CG locomotive, seeing a 53 percent reduction in fuel use, and CCT has had great customer support by all the team at Brookville with our current engine and the building of these two locomotives,” said CCT General Manager Dave Buccolo. “Brookville has provided CCT with world class service and cutting edge technology to allow CCT to save more fuel and eliminate downtime.”

GE Completes First Production Test of New Evolution Series Tier 4 Engine

April 15th, 2015

GE Transportation completed the first production test of the GE Evolution Series Tier 4 engine, which has met the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 4 locomotive emissions standards that took effect on January 1, 2015. GE Transportation was able to meet Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions reductions by at least 70 percent from Tier 3 emission standards.

The test was the first performed at the company’s newly built test cell in Grove City, Pa. The engine will now be sent to one of GE’s locomotive assembly facilities to be installed into a GE Evolution Series Tier 4 locomotive.

“We are committed to delivering Evolution Series Tier 4 locomotives to our customers,” said Tina Donikowski, VP of GE Locomotives, Marine, and Stationary & Drill. “We’ve already manufactured 27 engines and the completion of this test is a major step forward in our Tier 4 journey.”

The Grove City facility, one of the world’s largest locomotive diesel engine manufacturing sites, builds new and remanufactured diesel engines for locomotives as well as for marine and stationary power applications. The new test cell, built specifically for the Tier 4 engine, is equipped to improve the technology and tooling that test for performance and Tier 4 emissions levels.

“Through the efforts of the GE team in Grove City, we’ll be able to validate the test cell and the production process and make improvements to our overall plan,” stated Donikowski.

Over the past four years, GE has invested $130 million in the facilities in Grove City to support remanufacturing and the Tier 4 engine, with $20 million invested in the improvement of the machines, testing and equipment for the Tier 4 line. The Grove City facility has more than 1,200 employees.

Alstom Joint Venture to Provide 30 Trams for Shanghai

April 15th, 2015

Shanghai Alstom Transport Co. (SATCO), a joint venture of Alstom and Shanghai Rail Traffic Equipment Development Co., Ltd. (SRTED), has won a contract to deliver 30 Citadis trams, worth an approximate €72 million, to Shanghai Songjiang Tramway Investment and Operation Co. Ltd.

The 30 Citadis trams will run on the two first tramway lines of Songjiang, one of the suburban districts of Shanghai, and cover a total distance of 31 kilometers and include 42 stations. The lines have an expected operating date of 2017 and are expected to transport 173,000 persons per day. In total, the city of Shanghai plans to build 800 km of network on six tramway lines by 2020.

“Alstom and its partner are pleased to have been selected by Shanghai district for the supply of Citadis trams which will contribute to enhance the city transport services and energize urban life, while contributing to the protection of the environment,” said Fang Ling, managing director of Alstom Transport China. “Alstom will contribute to this ambitious tramway development plan with its worldwide experience and expertise in tram technology.”

SATCO will manufacture the Citadis trams and Alstom will supply the traction systems, bogies and the Train Control and Monitoring System (TCMS).

Trinity Industries Expands Railcar Leasing Facility

April 14th, 2015

Trinity Industries Leasing Company (TILC), a subsidiary of Trinity Industries, Inc., has renewed its railcar leasing warehouse facility through April 2018 and increased its capacity from $475 million to $1 billion.

“We are pleased to announce the up-sizing of this facility and extension for an additional three years,” said James E. Perry, Trinity’s senior vice president and CFO. “The successful renewal demonstrates Trinity’s consistent ability to access the capital markets.”

“The increase in the warehouse capacity will support the growth of our leasing platform and our strong ability to originate new railcar leases,” added Perry. “Our railcar leasing warehouse is an important element of the Company’s liquidity and overall financial flexibility.”

Based in Dallas, Trinity Industries, Inc. is a diversified company that owns businesses providing products and services to several market sectors, including the transportation industry.