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Reading & Northern Receives $10 Million Grant for New Bridge

August 21st, 2014

The Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad (Reading & Northern) has been awarded a $10 million State Capital budget grant for the construction of a new railroad bridge over the Lehigh River in Carbon County, Pa. The project is estimated to cost more than $14 million, with the railroad contributing the balance.

The new bridge, which will be located near Nesquehoning, will provide Reading & Northern a north/south route, connecting the Philadelphia region to New England and eastern Canada.

According to Andrew Muller, Jr., owner and CEO of Reading & Northern, the new bridge will allow the fastest and most economical route into the Marcellus Shale territory in northeast Pennsylvania. It will also allow unit trains of double-stack intermodal containers to flow in and out of the Port of Philadelphia to points in the northeastern United States and Canada.

“I have been working for almost two decades to bring this bridge and resulting new route to fruition,” remarked Muller. “This bridge will enable us to better serve our customers and it will bring economic development and jobs to northeastern Pennsylvania. We are proud to work with PennDOT and our elected officials in bringing this important project to fruition.”

Reading & Northern will offer the use of this route to Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific railroads. Both railroads currently use part of the Reading & Northern’s mainline track.

Mitsui Rail Names Penovich President, Gerber VP Sales & Marketing

August 21st, 2014

 Mitsui Rail Capital, LLC (MRC) has announced the appointments of Daniel Penovich as president and Chris Gerber as vice president of sales and marketing. Both MRC executives have extensive experience in the railroad and railroad leasing business.

Penovich began his employment at MRC in 2010, serving as vice president of sales and marketing. He contributed to the company’s revenue growth, sales effectiveness and improved asset utilization.

Gerber joined MRC in 2012 with 30 years of rail industry experience. He served as director of sales and marketing, helping MRC improve its asset portfolio and implement its new leasing strategy.

MRC is a railcar leasing company based in Chicago. The company also provides fleet management and maintenance services to the North American transport market. MRC is wholly owned by Tokyo-based Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Watco Names Williams VP Marketing – Gulf Region

August 21st, 2014

Watco Companies has appointed Ryan Williams as vice president marketing – Gulf Region, replacing Amy Parady, who has accepted the position of vice president of business development and corporate liaison for Watco Supply Chain Services.

Williams will be responsible for the performance of the Gulf and Southeast Regional marketing teams as it relates to growth and expansion of existing relationships. He will work with the teams associated with the following railroads: Alabama Southern, Alabama Warrior, Autauga Southern, Austin Western, Birmingham Terminal, Baton Rouge Southern, Louisiana Southern, Mississippi Southern, Pecos Valley, San Antonio Central, Timber Rock and Vicksburg Southern.

In addition, Williams will work with Watco corporate commercial and operating teams in customer support.

Prior to his new position, Williams was marketing manager for the AWRR, SAC, and TIBR Railroads in the Gulf Region. He also served as assistant general manager for the South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad and worked on management teams with BNSF in Lincoln, Neb., and Kansas City, Mo.

Williams attended Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Williams is currently based in Austin, Texas, but will be relocating to the Gulf Region corporate offices in Houston.

Parady will report to Eric Wolfe and be the main contact as Transportation and Supply Chain Services interface to provide customer service across the spectrum of the supply chain.

Funding Approved for 39 Pennsylvania Rail Freight Projects

August 20th, 2014

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has announced that the State Transportation Commission has approved $35.9 million in funding from two Pennsylvania Department of Transportation-managed programs for 39 rail freight improvement projects.

“Transportation is a proven economic driver and these investments will help these companies maintain and create more jobs,’’ said Governor Corbett, who believes the projects will sustain nearly 34,000 jobs across Pennsylvania. “Ensuring that these facilities and assets are ready to meet consumer demands is vital to keeping our state competitive.”

“We have continued investments in Pennsylvania’s rail network because it helps keep our transportation assets strong as a whole,” continued Governor Corbett. “Since January 2011 we’ve invested over $167 million in rail and Act 89 will help us continue those efforts.”

Thirteen of the improvements will be funded through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program, a capital budget grant program. Twenty six of the rail freight projects will be funded through the Rail Freight Assistance Program, underwritten through the new Multimodal Fund created by Act 89, which was signed by Governor Corbett in November to clear the way for significant investments in all transportation modes.

STB to Hold Public Hearing on Rail Service Problems

August 20th, 2014

The Surface Transportation Board will hold a public field hearing on September 4, 2014, for interested parties to report on service problems in the U.S. rail network. The hearing will include rail industry executives who will explain their efforts to address these problems and a discussion will be held on additional options to improve rail service.

The STB held a hearing on April 10 of this year, following which Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) and BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) were required to provide their respective plans and supporting data regarding the movement of fertilizer and grain. Both CP and BNSF are directed to appear at the upcoming hearing.

Impacted shippers, Class I railroads, and other affected carriers are invited to appear at the hearing, which will be open for public observation.

Further information on the hearing and instructions for persons or parties wishing to speak at the hearing are available on the STB web site. Persons wishing to speak at the hearing should file with the STB a notice of intent to participate no later than August 25, 2014.

The STB has monitored the rail industry’s performance since service problems began last year, and has taken a number of actions to address those problems. The STB’s Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance (OPAGAC) has been working with rail carriers to address and correct service issues as they arise.

DART Light Rail Begins Service to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport

August 20th, 2014
Opening of DFW Airport station on DART Orange line. Photo: courtesy of DART.

Opening of DFW Airport station on DART Orange line. Photo: courtesy of DART.

At a recent  Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW Airport) dedication luncheon, DART and the  DFW Airport celebrated the opening of the five-mile Orange Line Light Rail segment offering service to the DFW Airport Station. With the new station, DFW Airport is now the third-largest American airport with a direct rail connection to the city center.

The new line links newly renovated Terminal A and Belt Line Station with service to Irving-Las Colinas, Dallas Market Center and downtown Dallas. The station was built by DFW Airport as part of its Terminal Renewal and Improvement Program, and DART constructed the rail line extension.

“Connecting DFW Airport by light rail makes Dallas a more competitive, more attractive destination for business and travelers,” said Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan, who attended the luncheon. “It’s part of a sustained partnership over decades that’s bringing billions in investment, more jobs, and a better quality of life to North Texas. Congress should pass the President’s GROW AMERICA Act so that we can bring long-term support to more projects like this one in communities across the country.”

According to Gary Thomas, DART president and executive director, sharing construction duties with the airport allowed DART to open the station four months earlier than scheduled. “We could not have achieved this rail opening early and under budget without the incredible partnership with DFW Airport,” said Thomas. “Construction of the station and the Orange Line extension has been a true collaboration.”

“This is a momentous day for our customers and for DFW Airport, because passenger rail is a critical component to DFW’s status as a top-tier international gateway,” stated DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue. “With the DART Orange Line connecting DFW to downtown Dallas, DFW is now on a par with global hub airports that have integrated rail, which is a major selling point for customers and conventions.”

Former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison delivered the keynote address at the luncheon, which was also attended by U.S. representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson and Pete Sessions. “I can’t tell you how many times I had the Secretary of Transportation say, ‘Wow. We don’t have another system in America that always comes in on time and under budget,’” remarked Hutchinson. “We’re up there with New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia because we have a good record.”

TSB Issues Lac-Mégantic Accident Report; Urges New Safety Steps

August 19th, 2014

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada concluded that 18 factors played a role in last summer’s deadly Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

In a report released this week, the TSB outlined the findings of its investigation into the accident in which 47 people were killed, and called for additional physical defenses to prevent runaway trains and more thorough safety management systems to ensure railroads effectively manage safety.

The TSB found MMA had a weak safety culture that did not have a functioning safety management system to manage risks. The TSB also learned that Transport Canada did not audit MMA often and thoroughly enough to ensure it was effectively managing the risks in its operations. The board also found problems with training, employee monitoring, and maintenance practices at MMA; with industry rules for the securement of unattended trains; and with the tank cars used to carry volatile petroleum crude oil. 

“Accidents never come down to a single individual, a single action or a single factor. You have to look at the whole context,” said Wendy Tadros, chair of the TSB. “In our investigation, we found 18 factors played a role in this accident.”

In addition to three previous steps, the TSB issued two new recommendations to ensure unattended trains will always be secured, and Canada’s railways will have safety management systems that work to manage safety.  “This is about governments, railways and shippers doing everything in their power to ensure there is never another Lac-Mégantic,” she added.

Koppers Completes $494 Million Osmose Deal

August 19th, 2014

Koppers Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Koppers Holdings Inc., has completed the acquisition of the wood preservation and railroad services businesses of Osmose Holdings, Inc. The aggregate cash purchase price for the acquisition was $494.1 million, including $27.3 million of cash in foreign countries and the value of an anticipated tax election expected to provide savings of approximately $7 million annually over the next 15 years.

“Acquiring the two Osmose businesses is an important step in our long-term growth strategy for Koppers,” said Walt Turner, Koppers president and CEO. ”The businesses fit well within our core competencies, expand both our chemicals offering and our existing railroad and utilities products and services platform, and provide additional growth opportunities as we gain leading market positions in strategic end-markets around the world.”

“The synergies from the acquisition are expected to be at least $12 million, and we anticipate that the annual run rate will be realizable by the end of 2015,” continued Turner. “I am pleased with the opportunities that we have identified throughout the integration process, and I look forward to achieving the benefits that we will provide to our shareholders from the acquisition.”

The railroad services business is now known as Koppers Railroad Structures. It will provide railroad infrastructure services, including bridge inspection, engineering, maintenance and repair, and construction services for the Class I and shortline railroads in North America. The business had approximately $40 million of revenue in 2013.

The wood preservation business is now known as Koppers Performance Chemicals. The company will be developing, manufacturing, and marketing wood preservation chemicals and wood treatment technologies. The business has operations and sales in North America, South America, Europe, and Australasia. The wood preservation business reported revenue of approximately $350 million in 2013.

Through June 30, 2014, revenues for the acquired businesses were up by 6% over the first six months of 2013. Koppers expects the acquisition to add more than $400 million of sales at EBITDA margins that are expected to be above the company’s 2015 target level of 12%.

Koppers is financing the purchase through new and existing bank debt. Barclays Capital Inc. acted as financial advisor to Koppers in the transaction, and K&L Gates LLP acted as legal counsel to the company.


Cleveland’s RTA to Dedicate New Station

August 19th, 2014

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 28, 2014, to dedicate the new Cedar-University Rapid Station. The Federal Transit Administration’s Acting Administrator Therese W. McMillan is expected to attend the ceremony, along with many local officials.

The Cedar-University Rapid Station, located within Rockefeller and Amber Parks, is one of the highest transfer points in the RTA network.  It was originally built in 1956 and is nearing the end of an $18.5 million reconstruction project to provide full ADA compliance.

The station remained open during reconstruction, which features a “green” roof, enhanced pedestrian pathways and an enclosed area.

Jenkins Named CSXT VP Market Strategy E-Business

August 19th, 2014

CSX has named Ed Jenkins vice president market strategy e-business for CSX Transportation, effective August 15. He will continue to report to Clarence W. Gooden, executive vice president and chief commercial officer.

Jenkins has fostered the development of the team responsible for service innovations that support each of the railroad’s key markets.

“Ed has led remarkable innovations in e-business tools and customer analytics that have helped propel CSX’s service insights and service culture and, in these areas, has set industry standards,” said Gooden. “His work has helped CSX gain genuine and constant customer engagement and insight. As a result, the company is much more skilled in anticipating and addressing the needs and expectations of current and future customers. These skills will be essential as our service grows in volume and complexity, and I am very pleased to have Ed and his team in place to help take us forward.”

Jenkins earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in management in transportation, finance and marketing from Northwestern University.