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Georgia Governor Signs Bill for Atlanta Transit Ballot

April 29th, 2016
Governor Deal signs bill for Atlanta rail ballot. Photo: courtesy of MARTA.

Governor Deal signs bill for Atlanta rail ballot. Photo: courtesy of MARTA.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed S.B. 369, a bill allowing the City of Atlanta to hold a fall ballot referendum asking voters to support a half-penny sales tax to expand the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system. The bill, approved with bi-partisan support on the final day of this year’s Georgia General Assembly, was signed in the presence of key legislative leaders, local elected officials and MARTA Board Members and leadership.

MARTA is now working with city officials to draft a proposed list of projects that must be approved by the Atlanta City Council. If a majority of voters back the referendum, the sales tax levy would generate an estimated $2.5 billion over the next 40 years for bus and rail projects within the city limits.

“I’m thankful for all the partners who came together to help MARTA in taking a great first step forward in delivering the kind of transit improvements that people have been telling us they’ve wanted to see for a very long time,” said MARTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker.

“We’re thrilled and deeply appreciative for the support MARTA has received from both sides of the aisle on this legislation,” said MARTA Board Chairman Robert L. Ashe III. “We believe this could permit us to transform the City of Atlanta over the next generation.”

The legislation also leaves room to negotiate with Fulton County for an additional one-quarter of penny in sales tax for further expansion in that jurisdiction. While DeKalb and Clayton Counties were not included in S.B. 369, there is the potential for residents in those jurisdictions to vote on funding MARTA expansions in the future.

Trinity Industries Reports Decreased Net Income in First Quarter

April 29th, 2016

Trinity Industries, Inc. reported results for the 2016 first quarter ending March 31, with a net income of $97.2 million compared to $180.2 million in the 2015 first quarter. The company reported earnings per common diluted share of $0.64 compared to $1.13 in last year’s first quarter. Revenues for the quarter totaled $1.19 billion compared to $1.63 billion for the same quarter of 2015.

“Trinity’s first quarter financial results reflect the deterioration in demand for a number of our products,” said Trinity Chairman, CEO and President Timothy R. Wallace. “Even though our financial results declined quarter over quarter and year over year, I am pleased with our Company’s ability to make orderly transitions when market conditions shift. Our people did a good job transitioning from high production levels in the fourth quarter to much lower levels in the first quarter,” added Wallace.

In the first quarter of 2016, the Rail Group reported revenues of $846.9 billion compared to revnues of $1,144.5 million in the 2015 first quarter. Operating profit for the group in the first quarter was $157.2 million compared to last year’s operating profit of $212.7 million. The decrease in revenues and profit was primarily due to lower deliveries and changes in product mix.

The Rail Group shipped 7,145 railcars and received orders for 1,620 railcars during the first quarter. The group had a backlog of $4.72 billion as of March 31, 2016, representing 43,360 railcars, compared to a backlog of $5.40 billion as of December 31, 2015, representing 48,885 railcars. The backlog of railcar orders at end of the first quarter extends into 2020.

The Railcar Leasing and Management Services Group reported leasing and management revenues of $170.5 million for the 2016 first quarter compared to revenues of $166.1 million during the 2015 first quarter. The increase was primarily due to net fleet additions.

Revenue from sales of railcars from the lease fleet owned for one year or less was $8 million for the first quarter compared to $78.7 million in the 2015 quarter.

Railcar operating profit for this group was $74.2 million in the 2016 first quarter compared to an operating profit of $122.8 million last year. This was primarily due to a decrease in the volume of sales of railcars from the lease fleet and higher maintenance expense.

Trinity Industries anticipates 2016 full year earnings per common diluted share of between $2.00 and $2.30 compared to previously expected earnings per common diluted share of $2.00 and $2.40. The reduction in the upper end of the earnings guidance range is due to a lower expected level of sales of leased railcars than previously provided. The company’s current earnings guidance incorporates the sales of between $300 million and $400 million of leased railcars during 2016 compared to its previous guidance of approximately $500 million.

“We are continuing to reposition and streamline our operations based on current demand levels. Trinity is a much stronger company today than in previous market downturns,” concluded Wallace.

CN Net Income Increases in First Quarter 2016

April 29th, 2016

Canadian National Railway (CN) has reported that net income in the 2016 first quarter, which ended on March 31, has increased 13 percent to C$792 million compared with the 2015 first quarter net income of C$704 million. Diluted EPS increased 16 percent to C$1.00 compared to the 2015 first quarter’s C$0.86 per diluted share.

“CN delivered a very solid quarterly performance in a challenging economic environment,” said Claude Mongeau, CN president and CEO. “We successfully aligned our resources with the reduced volume level to achieve strong efficiency gains, while continuing to offer superior customer service and significantly improving our safety performance. These achievements allowed the CN team to deliver record first-quarter financial results.”

Revenues for the first quarter of 2016 were down by 4 percent to C$2,964 million, and carloadings declined by 7 percent in the quarter.

Operating expenses dropped by 14 percent to C$1,747. The first quarter operating ratio improved by 6.8 percentage points to 58.9 percent.

CN has revised its financial outlook downward for 2016 due to weaker than expected freight demand in certain markets and the strengthening of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar. CN now aims to deliver 2016 EPS in line with last year’s adjusted diluted EPS of C$4.44 compared with its January 26, 2016, financial outlook calling for mid-single digit EPS growth this year.

Sound Transit Begins East Link Light Rail Extension Construction

April 28th, 2016

Federal, state and local officials attended a recent groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction of Seattle’s Sound Transit East Link light rail extension. The 14-mile extension will have 10 stations and connect Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area and Microsoft campus. The ceremony was held near the area trains will run in a 1/3-mile-long tunnel under downtown Bellevue.

“I am deeply excited to officially kick off construction, after years of planning, of the Eastside’s light rail line,” Sound Transit Board Member and King County Council Member Claudia Balducci stated. “Soon, people who live or work in Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond will have a new, fast, reliable way to travel across Lake Washington and around our region—out of the traffic that gridlocks our freeways each and every day.”

The light rail extension will travel across Lake Washington in the current center reversible lanes of I-90, with new HOV lanes in each direction on the outer roadways. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is managing construction of the new HOV lanes and also upgrading the communications and safety systems in the I-90 tunnels.

“Part of a healthy economy is a reliable transit connection to jobs and homes. That’s what East Link is all about,” said State Representative Judy Clibborn, Chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee. “Making sure we continue to plan for the future is even more critical in coming decades as our population increases.”

Funding for the $3.7 billion project is provided in part by a $1.3 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“East Link is a great example of the important regional projects the federal government is investing in to make critical improvements to the nation’s transportation system,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The East Link extension is scheduled to open in 2023 as part of more than 30 miles of light rail extensions connecting population and employment centers in the region. By 2030, East Link is projected to carry approximately 50,000 riders each weekday with stations in Seattle, Mercer Island, South Bellevue, downtown Bellevue and the Bel-Red and Overlake areas.

“For a long time we’ve been working hard to build and expand a world class transit system in the Puget Sound region, and for the first time today, we are pulling Link’s reach across Lake Washington to the Eastside with this groundbreaking,” U.S. Senator Patty Murray said. “Voters have consistently shown they want less congestion, more accessible transit, and greener transportation by supporting new light rail investments—and I will keep working every day over in the other Washington to make sure our state is getting the resources it needs to do that.”

CN & CP Celebrate Canada’s Rail Safety Week

April 28th, 2016
CN Police officer demonstrates the new safety videos. Photo:courtesy of CNW Group/CN.

CN Police officer demonstrates the new safety videos. Photo:courtesy of CNW Group/CN.

Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) are celebrating Canada’s Rail Safety Week with programs to educate communities on the importance of safety at rail crossings.

CN has debuted virtual reality 360° videos that will educate viewers about the dangers of trespassing and disregarding railway safety devices. The videos can be viewed at CN’s Rail Safety Pledge website by using a desktop, laptop or mobile device, and visitors with any Google Cardboard viewer can experience the 360° rail safety videos. CN Police officers will have custom Google Cardboard viewers to demonstrate the videos throughout Rail Safety Week through May 1.

“Trespassing fatalities along railway tracks are entirely preventable, and tragedies at railway level crossings can be avoided by simply obeying crossing signals,” said Stephen Covey, chief of police and chief security officer at CN. “Through this initiative, CN is providing new ways of teaching kids, teens and adults to be safe near trains and railroad property and is asking them to spread the word and help save lives.”

CN is also inviting the public to take The Safety Pledge online, which they can share with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

“Rail safety is everyone’s responsibility,” continued Covey. “By looking out for each other and working together, we can help keep our communities safe and prevent fatalities and injuries on or near railroad property. Together we can save lives and help bring crossing and trespassing accidents down to zero.”

To view the safety videos or to take The Safety Pledge online visit www.mysafetypledge.com.

CP is working with its Police Service (CPPS) to conduct rail safety blitzes in communities across the CP network with participation from other police agencies and schools to educate the public about rail safety. CPPS will focus on high traffic areas where the railway sees high instances of trespassing or dangerous behavior around the railway right-of-way.

“Railway tracks are not an extension of a public pathway, nor are they a safe shortcut,” stated CP Vice President and Chief Risk Officer Laird Pitz. “While Rail Safety Week is a good reminder, rail safety requires ongoing vigilance every minute of every day. Crossing incidents can have tragic consequences for all involved, but it’s important to remember – they are preventable.”

The railroad, in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver (OLI) and other stakeholders, is also reminding motorists, cyclists and pedestrians not to illegally cross railway tracks or use railway tracks as a short cut

“For the last 35 years Operation Lifesaver has been dedicated to preventing as many crossing and trespassing incidents as possible by raising awareness of rail safety among Canadians,” said Mike Regimbal, OLI Canada national director. “The support and involvement of communities, rail operators and governments over those years has resulted in lives saved and injuries prevented, with the past year being our best on record. Yet, for all there is to celebrate, we must also remember that there is still more to be done, because every injury or death is entirely preventable.”

Bechtel Breaks Ground on Alberta LRT Line

April 28th, 2016
Churchill rendering of Edmonton LRT. Courtesy of Bechtel.

Churchill rendering of Edmonton LRT. Courtesy of Bechtel.

The engineering, construction, and project management company Bechtel has broken ground for the new Edmonton Valley Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) – Stage 1 project in Alberta, Canada.

The Edmonton Valley Line LRT will travel approximately 13 km, connecting Mill Woods to downtown Edmonton with 11 stops, an elevated station with transit center, and a transfer point to the existing Capital Line and Metro Line LRT at Churchill Square. The line is designed to meet the demands of Canada’s second fastest-growing city that is expected to increase in size by 50 percent by 2040.

Bechtel is part of the TransEd Partners consortium that is also comprised of Bombardier, EllisDon and Fengate Capital Management. TransEd Partners achieved financial close in February to finance, design, supply vehicles, build, operate, and maintain Stage 1 for the City of Edmonton.

“From the start of this project, Bechtel and TransEd Partners have enjoyed a very positive partnership with the City of Edmonton and the community,” stated Larry Melton, Bechtel’s design-build project director for TransEd Partners. “We are looking forward to delivering a safe, efficient, and sustainable transit line that will support the creation of hundreds of local jobs during peak construction and help drive economic growth for the region.”

The Stage 1 project is being delivered using a Public-Private Partnership (P3) procurement model with Bechtel as the lead partner for the design and construction of the project. The company also helped to secure financing and will assist in the provision of the operations and maintenance during the service period.

Bombardier APM Inaugurated at Munich Airport

April 27th, 2016
Munich Airport's BOMBARDIER INNOVIA APM 300. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.

Munich Airport's BOMBARDIER INNOVIA APM 300. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.

Bombardier Transportation has announced that the BOMBARDIER INNOVIA APM 300 automated people mover (APM) system, which will connect Terminal 2 at Munich Airport in Germany with the airport’s new satellite building, has been inaugurated. The INNOVIA APM 300 system will begin service on April 26, increasing passenger capacity at the airport.

Bombardier designed, built and commissioned all of the electrical and mechanical equipment, including 12 APM vehicles and will provide 9 years of operation and maintenance services for the transit system.

“Bombardier has extensive global experience in the design, build and supply, as well as operation and maintenance, of driverless transit systems,” said Germar Wacker, president, Mainline and Metros, Central and Eastern Europe region at Bombardier Transportation. “Our modern mobility solutions for passenger transfers are in successful operation at airports all over the world. The latest generation of INNOVIA APM 300 technology meets the high quality and service standards of the five-star Munich Airport and it will further optimize the transportation of passengers there reliably and efficiently.”

The INNOVIA APM 300 system is 700 meters long and is equipped with the BOMBARDIER CITYFLO 650 automatic train control technology for driverless operation. The vehicles cover the distance between the two buildings in less than one minute and, during peak times, up to 10,900 passengers can be transported per hour, per direction with the shuttle service.

NS Reports 25 Percent Increase in Net Income

April 27th, 2016

Norfolk Southern Corporation has reported $387 million net income for the first quarter of 2016, an increase of 25 percent when compared to last year’s first quarter net income of $310 million. Diluted earnings per share increased to $1.29, up by 29 percent when compared with $1.00 reported in the same quarter of last year.

“Our strong first-quarter results demonstrate the significant progress we are making in line with our strategic plan,” said Norfolk Southern Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires. “Since I became CEO in June, our team has been committed to streamlining operations, reducing expenses and maintaining superior customer service levels.”

“Our focus on strengthening Norfolk Southern is yielding results, and the company is now on track to achieve productivity savings of about $200 million and an operating ratio below 70 in 2016,” added Squires. “We are confident the continued execution of our strategic plan will deliver superior shareholder value by best positioning Norfolk Southern to succeed while ensuring the company is prepared to capture revenue and volume growth opportunities in 2016 and beyond.”

Railway operating revenues for the first quarter were $2.4 billion, a 6 percent decrease compared with the last year’s first quarter. Total volume dropped by 2 percent due to lower coal volumes.

Railway operating expenses dropped 13 percent to $1.7 billion due to a 2 percent reduction in traffic volumes, and income from railway operations was $723 million, up by 19 percent. The operating ratio reached a first quarter record of 70.1 percent, an improvement of 8 percent over the 2015 first quarter.

Merchandise revenues totaled $1.5 billion, up 2 percent compared to the same period last year. Volume increased across all business groups except chemicals, which was impacted by fewer crude oil shipments due to low oil prices. Automotive, up 16 percent, saw the largest increase.

Intermodal revenues declined by 12 percent to $522 million for the quarter. Volume was even as growth in international volumes was offset by lower domestic volumes due to the restructuring of the company’s Triple Crown Services subsidiary.

Funding Agreement Reached for Panama Metro’s Third Line

April 27th, 2016

The Republic of Panama has signed an agreement, valued at US$2.6 billion, with the Government of Japan to fund the construction of Line 3 of Panama’s Metro. In addition to funding the Metro construction, the agreement includes up to US$35 million to hire a project manager.

The new monorail system, the largest project in Panama since the expansion of the Panama Canal, will be the first to use Japanese technology in the Americas.

Line 3 of the Panama Metro will be 26.75 km long with 14 passenger stations. The line will start with a connection with Line 1 in Alborrok station, travel through the Balboa area, crossing the Canal over the superstructure of the fourth bridge. It will continue beside the Pan-American Road before heading to the Special Economic Zone Panama Pacific and through the city of Arraijan before ending in Ciudad del Futuro, where the line will have its maintenance and storage facilities.

The first phase of Project Line 3 will be built to facilitate phase two which will reach La Chorrera. The project will begin in 2017 and service is estimated to begin in the end of 2021.

“This great project, it will benefit hundreds of thousands of Panamanians that have to commute every day to the west side of Panama City, and will allow us to showcase Japanese technology to everyone in the region,” said Panama President Juan Carlos Varela.

According to the government, Japan is implementing this project as a measure to support developing countries in climate change. Japan will continue to cooperate with Panama in Project Line 3 to reduce CO2 emissions and minimize the impact of climate change.

NS Introduces New Safety Train and Website for Rail Hazmat Information

April 26th, 2016
NS Safety Train in Altoona, Pa. Photo: courtesy of NS.

NS Safety Train in Altoona, Pa. Photo: courtesy of NS.

Norfolk Southern (NS) has introduced its new educational safety train and website as parts of its Operation & Awareness Response (OAR) program to help first responders across its network respond to potential rail-related incidents.

The NS hazmat safety train features a 2,000-horsepower locomotive painted in honor of emergency responders; two boxcars converted into classrooms, each capable of holding 30 people; DOT-105, DOT-111, DOT-112, and DOT-117 tank cars; and two 89-foot flatcars designed to transport intermodal containers.

The website, JoinNSOAR.com, provides the public with information about transporting hazardous materials and the economic benefits of moving hazardous materials by rail.

“The NS hazmat safety train is like a rolling classroom, delivering hands-on training directly to emergency responders in communities along our rail lines,” said John Irwin, NS assistant vice president safety and environmental. “We are committed to moving these materials as safely and efficiently as possible, and building partnerships with emergency first responders across our network is a vital part of operating a safe rail network.”

The NS hazmat safety train will now travel to 14 states across the railroad’s network, with upcoming training sessions in Harrisburg, Pa.; Baltimore; Chicago; Alexandria, Va.; and Columbia, S.C. Information on the hazmat safety train, including its schedule and contact information, is available on the JoinNSOAR.com web site.

The kick off ceremony was attended by U.S. Representative Bill Shuster; Richard Flinn Jr., director of Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency; John O’Neill, founder, president and CEO of the Firefighters Education and Training Foundation; Roger Wynkoop, vice president of Trinity Rail Group; and Frank Reiner, president of the Chlorine Institute and a member of TRANSCAER’s governing task group.

During the ceremony, NS announced that it won its 16th National TRANSCAER Achievement Award, which recognizes exceptional achievement in support of voluntary efforts by companies to help communities prepare for and safely respond to incidents involving transport of hazardous materials.

The OAR program was launched in 2015 to cultivate and strengthen relationships with local first responders by providing classroom, web-based, and field training on hazardous materials transportation, as well as information about rail operations. Last year, NS provided training for 4,792 emergency responders, government officials, members of the media, and others in 18 states.