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Short Line Safety Institute Advances

January 26th, 2015

The Short Line Safety Institute has added safety experts in the early stages of the new initiative.

American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association Chairman Ed McKechnie said that five industry safety experts have been retained as assessors for a pilot project as the first step toward the longer-term goal of developing a comprehensive industry-wide safety culture assessment program that will serve as the core of the Safety Institute.

The Safety Institute is an outgrowth of an ASLRRA proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation in January 2014 as a step toward improving the safety culture for short lines transporting crude oil shipments by rail and, later, for all short line and regional railroads.

The team of assessors includes Wayne Hamm with more than 36 years of rail safety and operating experience, Pat Black with more than 30 years of rail safety and operating experience, Annie Richardson with more than 20 years of safety assessment and related experience, Shannon Adamson with more than 14 years of rail and assessment experience, and Sam Cotton with 17 years of rail safety and operating experience.

The teams will be tasked with visiting six railroads that transport crude oil to assess, among other things, the company leadership’s commitment to safety, organization practices on continuous learning concerning safety, whether safety is prioritized over competing demands, whether there is a safety conscious work environment, and whether training and resources are available to support safety.

“Safety is our most important focus and the pilot project and institute will lead the way in creating a commitment to a strong safety culture and behavioral change from the top down based on the assessments done by this group of dedicated professionals. We look forward to the results of their work,” McKechnie said.

ASLRRA is a non-profit trade association based in Washington that represents the interests of nearly 1000 short line and regional railroads and suppliers.

Parsons Brinckerhoff Names Hedlund Director of P3s

January 26th, 2015
Karen Hedlund

Karen Hedlund

Parsons Brinckerhoff has appointed former deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Karen J. Hedlund as director of public-private partnerships (P3s). She will be responsible for facilitating financing and development of transportation projects through P3s by working with governmental transportation agencies and private companies. She will be based in the Parsons Brinckerhoff’s New York headquarters.

“Karen is well known as one of the nation’s most skilled experts in public-private partnerships,” said John D. Porcari, Parsons Brinckerhoff senior vice president and national director of strategic consulting. “Her expertise will be extremely valuable to clients who are looking to find innovative ways to finance and build transportation infrastructure with the help of the private sector. In addition, Karen’s nationwide experience in every aspect of passenger and freight rail issues is invaluable.”

Appointed as deputy administrator of the FRA in November 2011, Hedlund lead the administration’s $12 billion high-speed rail grant program and advised on FRA-funded multi-state equipment purchases and on California High Speed Rail and Amtrak next-generation trainset procurements. She also oversaw the FRA’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Infrastructure Finance (RRIF) program, including review of loan requests to finance new passenger rail systems as well as implementation of positive train control systems for Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.

Prior to her position at the FRA, Hedlund served as chief counsel of the Federal Highway Administration from 2009-2010. She directed a legal staff in the implementation of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to all 50 states.

Hedlund led the legal advisory team on P3 projects such as the Silver Line extension of the Washington, D.C., Metrorail system; the Port of Miami Tunnel; the T-REX light rail in Denver; the Triangle Expressway in North Carolina; and the Hudson-Bergen light rail in New Jersey.

Before joining the federal government, she was a partner of the law firms Nossaman, LLP; Skadden Arps; and Mayer Brown. She served on the board of Moynihan Station Development Corporation in New York City, which will redevelop the James A. Farley Post Office Building into a new rail station for Amtrak. She also was a member of the board of the Union Station Development Corporation in Washington, D.C., and was a member of the Credit Council of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Hedlund earned degree in law from Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

Parsons Brinckerhoff is an engineering professional services consulting firm.

Watco Names Loeb EVP & CMO

January 26th, 2015

Watco Companies has named Stefan Loeb executive vice president and chief marketing officer, responsible for the growth initiatives of Watco Transportation Services’ (WTS) North American railroads and contract Switching locations as well as Watco Terminal and Port Services’ (WTPS) facilities.

“Stefan has been a valuable asset to our marketing and business development teams,” said Rick Baden, Watco president and interim chief financial officer. “He has a proven record of developing, implementing, and executing growth strategies and consistently improving the performance of the teams he has managed.”

Loeb joined Watco in 2010 as vice president of business development, leading and assisting with several acquisitions, including the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, Birmingham Terminal Railway, Ann Arbor Railroad, Blue Ridge Southern Railroad and the Autauga Northern Railroad. Most recently, he served as senior vice president marketing and strategic development for WTS.

From 2008 to 2010, he was employed by Bank of America as vice president client manager, and from 2001 to 2008, he was employed by LaSalle Bank. Loeb earned a bachelor’s degree in Business and Finance from Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

Investment to Enhance Toronto’s Transit Services

January 26th, 2015

Toronto Mayor John Tory and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Chair Josh Colle have announced that a $95 million investment to enhance transit services will be introduced to the TTC Board on February 2.

“We need to get Toronto moving and investing in transit is an essential part of that,” said Mayor Tory. “The package we are announcing will not only make a difference in commute times and crowding on the transit system, it also provides financial relief for Toronto families.”

The funding will be used to increase rush hour service on all transit routes, including streetcars and subway Lines 1 and 2. Streetcars will feature proof-of-payment and all-door boarding on all routes, and improvements will be made on route management to reduce short-turns, bunching and gapping of streetcar services. Additional resources will also be made available to focus on subway reliability around signals, track and communications systems.

“Making transit more affordable for families and delivering the services that riders need is at the heart of this proposed budget,” said TTC Chair Josh Colle. “If approved, this significant investment in the TTC will have a noticeable impact for TTC riders across the city, with expanded routes, and more frequent and reliable service.”

Mayor Tory has asked the City to increase the TTC’s subsidy to nearly $479 million to help balance the TTC budget. This is an increase of approximately $38 million over the 2014 subsidy. There will also be a 10-cent proportionate fare increase effective March 1 that will apply to all TTC fares except for cash fares. This will add an additional $43 million in revenue to pay for new services to meet an estimated ridership of 545 million in 2015.

“This is an investment in families and a much needed jumpstart towards easing congestion,” said City of Toronto Budget Chair Gary Crawford. “I’m confident the City’s $479 million subsidy, coupled with the $43 million in revenue from the fare increase, is the balanced approach everyone can appreciate.”

Financial details of the new services will be in the budget report.

RailComm Equips Pennsylvania’s SEPTA with Heater Control System

January 23rd, 2015

RailComm has completed the installation of a remote switch and third rail heater control system for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

The switch and third rail heaters are controlled through RailComm’s DOC® System, with communications handled with a combination of RADiANT® serial radios, cellular modems, and a fiber network along SEPTA lines. Authorized users are able to control the operation of all remotely equipped switch and third rail heaters through the DOC’s graphical user interface (GUI). Users are also able to monitor the operation of the element with the GUI. When heating elements present a failed condition, the system alarms the dispatcher so action can be taken before it affects train movement.

With the remote controlled heating units, SEPTA is able to to run their heaters only when absolutely necessary, helping to alleviate energy cost and reduce time railroad employees must spend along the track.

BNSF Details 2015 Capital Investments

January 23rd, 2015

BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) has detailed some of the major capital projects the company plans to complete in its three operating regions during 2015.

“Building on the 2014 capacity increases, we will continue investing in our railroad to make us ever more capable of getting agriculture, energy supplies and a wide range of consumer and industrial products where they want to go,” said Carl Ice, BNSF president and chief executive officer.

In BNSF’s North Region which includes Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin, the company will invest approximately $1.5 billion for engineering maintenance and line expansion projects. Approximately $700 million is planned for projects to expand the rail lines and Positive Train Control (PTC) in that region. BNSF’s North Region has experienced the most rapid growth in recent years.

Expansion projects include:

  • installation of double track on the Glasgow subdivision between Minot, N.D., and Snowden, Mont.;
  • extension of siding on the Dickinson subdivision between Mandan, N.D., and Glendive, Mont., and expansion of the terminal at the Dickinson yard;
  • converting the entire Devils Lake subdivision in N.D., located between Minot and Grand Forks, to centralized train control;
  • complete implementation of centralized train control on the Hillsboro subdivision, located in eastern North Dakota and upgrading connection track between the Hillsboro subdivision and the Devils Lake subdivision.

In BNSF’s South Region, which includes Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, the railroad plans to spend approximately $800 million for engineering maintenance and line expansion projects. The company plans to use $175 million for line expansion initiatives and continued implementation of PTC. The South Region includes BNSF’s high-speed transcontinental route with more than 2,000 miles of double track.

Expansion projects include:

  • connecting two sidings on the Mojave subdivision in California, which runs from Bakersfield to Mojave;
  • constructing double track on the Panhandle subdivision in Oklahoma, located between Wellington and Avard;
  • constructing double track on the Clovis subdivision in New Mexico, located between Belen and Clovis.

In the Central Region, which includes Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Wyoming, BNSF will invest approximately $650 million for engineering maintenance and line expansion projects. Approximately $260 million is planned for line expansion projects and continued implementation of PTC. The central Region is primarily used for the movement of coal.

Expansion projects include:

  • constructing two new sidings on the northern and southern ends of the Hannibal subdivision in western Illinois;
  • constructing two double track segments on the Ravenna subdivision, located in Nebraska;
  • extending sidings at six locations on the Brush subdivision, located east of Denver, Colo.

“At BNSF, we believe strongly in working with our customers to help them supply the world with food, energy and products that grow and build our economy,” added Ice. “These unprecedented capital investments demonstrate to our customers how deeply committed we are to building a prosperous future for all of us.”

The investments are part of BNSF’s 2015 capital plan of $6 billion, which was announced in November 2014 and is the company’s largest planned capital expenditure in its history.

UNITRAC Names Pietrandrea President

January 23rd, 2015

Healey Railroad Corporation has appointed Phil Pietrandrea president of its wholly owned subsidiary UNITRAC Railroad Materials, Inc. Prior to his new position, Pietrandrea served as senior vice president of sales and marketing for UNITRAC.

Healey Railroad Executive Vice President Art Healey said, “Phil has demonstrated the capacity to consistently expand his horizons and we look forward to him contributing to the growth of UNITRAC at the highest level. We see significant opportunities associated with our manufacturing business line and Phil’s long tenure in the industry will be important in helping capitalize on those.”

Pietrandrea began his railroad career 33 years ago for the Aliquippa and Southern Railroad where he worked as a track laborer. He has been in the supply side of the business since 1984. He attended Duquesne University where he earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree.

UNITRAC Railroad Materials, Inc. is a supplier of railroad products and trackwork solutions for the rail industry. The company is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn.

ASLRRA Annual Exhibit Nearing Sellout

January 22nd, 2015

Only a few booth spaces remain for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association Annual Convention in Orlando.

More than 225 booths have already been reserved for ASLRRA Connections 2015, which will be held March 28-31 at the Hilton Orlando. The actual open exhibition days are March 29-30.

Booth space at the short line event has been a hot ticket for nearly a decade as more railroad suppliers have taken advantage of the prime, once-a-year marketing opportunity to reach the growing short line and regional railroad industry. For more information or to reserve your space, please contact ASLRRA’s exhibit managers Kathy Rogers at krogers@railresource.com or Kathy Keeney at kkeeney@railresource.com. They can also provide information on prime advertising space that is still available in the Official Convention Program.

Koppers Inc. Purchases Creosote Business

January 22nd, 2015

Koppers Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Koppers Holdings Inc., has acquired the creosote distribution business and inventory of KMG Chemicals, Inc. (KMG) for $12.5 million plus an estimated $3 million for the fair market value of inventory. The acquisition includes the transfer of leased railcars and storage tanks from KMG to Koppers, as well as various customer agreements.

Tom Loadman, vice president of Railroad and Utility Products and Services, said, “This acquisition reaffirms our corporate commitment to serve the North American railroad industry in all aspects of crosstie supply from procurement to processing and distribution to preservative supply.”

Leroy Ball, president and CEO of Koppers, said, “While we expect this acquisition to be additive to our Carbon Materials and Chemicals business segment, the driver for this acquisition was to help ensure consistent supply for this important component of the railroad crosstie treating process.”

“An anticipated additional benefit of the acquisition is the strategic location of leased tank space which provides an attractive option for importing coal tar to supplement a coal tar-short market in North America,” added Ball. “The added flexibility to handle imported raw material will help to mitigate the risk associated with future supply from an uncertain domestic steel industry.”

Operating results from the acquired creosote distribution business will be included in Koppers Carbon Materials and Chemicals business segment. Raptor Partners LLC acted as financial advisor and K&L Gates LLP acted as legal counsel to Koppers Inc. in the transaction.

Koppers is a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based producer of carbon compounds, chemicals, and treated wood products and services for several markets including the rail industry.

Baulsir Named TEX Rail VP

January 22nd, 2015
Vice President Bob Baulsir

Bob Baulsir

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) has appointed Bob Baulsir vice president of TEX rail and procurement. He joined The T as TEX rail project manager in 2014.

“Bob Baulsir’s arrival as TEX Rail project manager has given us an experienced full time staff member devoted to the daily management of the construction project that will build on the recent significant progress The T has made toward achieving the 2018 start up for TEX Rail,” said Paul Ballard, president and CEO of The T.

Baulsir has more than 30 years of experience overseeing large transit projects, including rail development, construction, rail facilities and bus rapid transit. He also has managed transit system procurement, operations and maintenance facilities, safety and security. He has worked in public agencies in New York and Ohio, including the Metro Regional Transit Authority in Akron, and he was a consultant for McDonald Transit.

Last year, Baulsir retired as general manager of administration for the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and of the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in business management from the University of Phoenix with course work at the State University of New York and has training in transit related areas, including safety and security.

Ballard added that Rob Harmon, The T’s chief financial officer, who has been officer in charge of TEX Rail, will continue to have an instrumental role in TEX Rail’s completion

The T provides public transportation to the Tarrant County and the North Central Texas region, with nearly 10 million annual passenger trips on buses, vanpools and the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) commuter rail, which it jointly owns with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). It is developing a second commuter rail, TEX Rail, from downtown Fort Worth across Tarrant County to Grapevine and into DFW Airport with initial service to start in 2018.