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Alstom Awarded €40 Million Contract to Update Italian Tram Line

July 17th, 2014

Alstom has won a €40 million contract from the Italian construction company Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti (CMC) of Ravenna to supply sub-systems for modernizing the Milan-Desio-Seregno suburban tram. The contract includes the design, supply and installation of tracks, electrical traction sub-stations and the signaling and telecommunications system on the 14.3 km-long line.

The tram line will be equipped with Alstom’s Hesop (harmonic and energy saving optimizer), a reversible sub-station that enables unused braking energy produced by the trams to be re-injected into the electricity distribution network. Hesop allows for the recovery of around 99% of braking energy. Alstom will also supply the signaling system, which will be completed by an automatic train supervision (ATS) system.

Alstom will use its AppitrackTM technology to minimize the extent of work on site.

The project will be managed by the Alstom Guidonia site, which specializes in designing and producing railway infrastructure systems.

The tram is expected to be in service by the end of 2016.

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NS Releases Corporate Sustainability Report

July 17th, 2014

Norfolk Southern Corporation has released its seventh annual “Connections” sustainability report, which details the railroad’s environmental, economic, and social impacts in 2013.

“From our earliest beginnings, our commitment always has been to deliver customers’ freight safely, efficiently, and economically, and in doing so to provide fair returns to our shareholders and a desirable workplace for employees,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “Today we understand that everything we do must respect the planet. We understand that environmental sustainability is smart business.”

Among the environmental achievements that Norfolk Southern reached in 2013 was the completion of 79 percent of a 2010 five-year goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent per revenue ton-mile of freight. The company also saved an estimated 10 million gallons of locomotive diesel fuel and avoided around 110,500 metric tons of GHG emissions through LEADER train-handling technology.

Other environmental achievements included the completion of 65 percent of a five-year, $5.6 million partnership begun in 2011 with GreenTrees® to reforest 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Delta, and the collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to support the largest longleaf pine reforestation effort in Virginia.

Achievements in economic impacts included opening regional intermodal facilities at Charlotte, N.C., and Greencastle, Pa., and partnering with the South Carolina Ports Authority to make intermodal service available to a new inland port in Greer, S.C. The company also helped locate 67 new industries and expand 25 existing businesses.

In social performance, Norfolk Southern accomplished a more than 5 percent reduction in serious workplace injuries, hired more than 1,000 employees and distributed charitable donations of $12.8 million through combined Norfolk Southern Foundation and corporate giving. Grants were given to food banks, homeless shelters, free medical clinics, and environmental, cultural arts and educational organizations.

Blair Wimbush, vice president real estate and corporate sustainability officer, said, “Norfolk Southern strives for excellence in environmental stewardship and our uncompromising commitment to sustainability is supported and leveraged by employees across our network. We are working hard to integrate sustainability into all aspects of operations, building on successes achieved over the past seven years.”


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Alstom Transport to Open Tramway Manufacturing Line in Brazil

July 16th, 2014
Alstom Plant in Taubaté, Brazil. Photo: courtesy of Alstom.

Alstom Plant in Taubaté, Brazil. Photo: courtesy of Alstom.

Alstom Transport  has announced that it will be opening a manufacturing assembly line for trams at its hydro manufacturing site in Taubaté, Brazil. The manufacturing plant, which will supply the growing Brazilian and Latin American markets, will cover an area of 16,000m² and cost around 15 million euros. The plant is expected to begin operations in early 2015.

“The tramway is gaining momentum as one of the solutions for urban mobility issues in Brazilian and Latin America cities,” said Michel Boccaccio, senior vice president of Alstom Transport in Latin America. “This is why Alstom has decided to invest in a tram line in Taubaté, which will serve Brazilian projects as well as export projects in Latin America.”

The first order expected to be produced on the manufacturing line are the trams for the 2013 contract with the VLT Carioca consortium for the city of Rio de Janeiro. Alstom is supplying a catenary-free tramway system, which includes 32 Citadis trams. The company will produce the first Citadis in Europe and the remaining ones in Taubaté.

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Keolis Names Dubourdieu Director of Quality & Environmental Services for MBTA

July 16th, 2014

Keolis Commuter Services has named Franck Dubourdieu director of quality and environmental services for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail contract, overseeing quality assurance, regulation compliance, and performance management and introducing LEAN management in the organization’s activities.

“Franck’s vast technical and commercial experience operating large and complex passenger rail systems brings tremendous value to our Boston operations and he will be an important asset to our team here,” said Gerald Francis, deputy general manager of Keolis Commuter Services.

Dubourdieu brings more than 20 years of passenger railroad operations experience to Keolis. Most recently, he was employed by Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF), where he served as director for the Transilien Commuter Rail Lines and regional director for the South East Paris Region, implementing quality assurance programs in the operational and commercial departments. In addition, he  managed projects aimed at improving operational performance, including train planning, dispatching and run cuts and oversaw infrastructure projects for both rail lines and stations.

He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Institut Commercial de Nancy in Nancy, France.

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National Freight Advisory Committee Submits Recommendations for Improving Freight System

July 16th, 2014

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has received a report from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Freight Advisory Committee  (NFAC) that contains recommendations for improving the Nation’s freight transportation system. The 81 recommendations, now under review by the DOT, will be used in developing the Department’s National Freight Strategic Plan.

The NFAC report highlights the need for increased transportation investment and support of the research and planning such projects would require.

“Our nation’s economic competitiveness depends on a transportation network that can move freight safely and efficiently, especially as we are expected to move double the current amount by 2050,” said Secretary Foxx. “I appreciate the work of the advisory committee – their suggestions will help inform the Department’s work improving our country’s future freight system.”

The report includes recommendations on improving rail freight safety and security, funding needs and challenges, streamlining processes and improving collection of data and research. Suggestions were also made for exploring ways to improve collaboration for multijurisdictional freight planning, developing freight safety goals and addressing workforce development needs in the development of the National Freight Strategic Plan.

The NFAC provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation on matters related to U.S. freight transportation, including legislative recommendations, implementing requirements of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, establishing the National Freight Network and developing then National Freight Strategic Plan. The committee also provides recommendations on developing strategies to help states implement State Freight Advisory Committees and State Freight Plans as well as help developing measures of conditions, performance, investment, data and planning tools in freight transportation.

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Union Pacific Invests $6.1 Million in Wisconsin Rail Line

July 15th, 2014

Union Pacific Railroad has reported that it will be investing $6.1 million in the rail line between Milwaukee and near Sheboygan, Wis. The project includes replacing 26 miles of rail and 7 switches as well as renewing surfaces at 62 road crossings.

“Union Pacific helps businesses connect with consumers, suppliers and markets across the nation and around the world,” said Donna Kush, Union Pacific vice president public affairs, northern region. “In addition to helping move our customers’ goods safely and efficiently, our investments support communities by reducing traffic congestion, facilitating industrial development and promoting economic expansion.”

The project is funded entirely by Union Pacific. Work on the rail line began on June 10 and is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of September.

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G&W Rail Volumes Up 7 Percent in June

July 15th, 2014

Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) reported increased traffic volumes for June and the second quarter of 2014.

The short line operator’s June traffic volume increased by 11,970 carloads, or 7.7 percent, compared to June 2013. Total 2014 monthly traffic was 167,727 carloads. Excluding traffic recorded for the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad (RCP&E) that began operations on June 1, G&W’s traffic for June increased 4.7 percent, or 7,262 carloads.

Metallic ores traffic was up by 28.2 percent for June 2014 compared to 2013, primarily due to increased iron ore shipments in G&W’s Australia Region. Excluding traffic from RCP&E, North American traffic for June increased by 6.5 percent, or 8,763 carloads, due to increased minerals & stone, coal and agricultural products traffic.

North American carloadings for June 2014 included a 30.3-percent jump in minerals and stone, a 29.7-percent increase in agricultural products, and a 28.8-percent increase in food or kindred products. Commodities that showed decreases for the month compared to last year included autos and auto parts, down by 6.7 percent, and intermodal which decreased 63.2 percent.

G&W’s traffic in the second quarter of 2014 totaled 509,631 carloads. This was an increase of 6 percent compared to the 2013 second quarter. Excluding traffic recorded for the RCP&E, G&W’s traffic for the second quarter totaled 504,923 carloads, an increase of 5 percent compared with the second quarter of last year.

North American traffic in the second quarter of 2014 was up by 7.1 percent, or 29,679 carloads compared to the same time period in 2013. Agricultural products reported a 24.7-percent increase for the quarter, and minerals and stone volumes jumped by 14.2 percent. G&W’s “other” commodity group traffic increased 7,286 carloads, or 41.2 percent, primarily due to overhead Class I railroad shipments.

G&W owns and operates short line and regional railroads in the U.S., Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium.

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Operation Lifesaver Names Strang, Martino, Carlson to Board of Directors

July 15th, 2014

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) has announced that Jo Strang, Michael J. Martino and C. Doniele Carlson are now members of the nonprofit’s board of directors.

“These three professionals bring expertise in safety, regulatory issues and public outreach to their work on our board,” said Joyce Rose, OLI president and CEO. “We look forward to their active participation and contributions to our mission of saving lives around tracks and trains.”

Jo Strang of ASLRRA

Jo Strang of ASLRRA

Jo Strang, vice president of regulatory affairs for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), will be representing the short line railroad community on the OLI board. She served as an associate administrator for safety at the Federal Railroad Administration.

Michael Martino of AAR

Michael J. Martino of AAR

Michael J. Martino is the senior director of operations with the Association of American Railroads (AAR). He is replacing the AAR seat on the board previously held by Patti Reilly, AAR senior vice president of communications. Martino joined AAR in 2004 after serving as assistant vice president of system safety at Amtrak.

Doniele Carlson of KCS

C. Doniele Carlson of KCS

C. Doniele Carlson, assistant vice president corporate communications and community affairs for Kansas City Southern  (KCS), is succeeding Trenton Anderson, general director of safety for KCS. Carlson is a fourth generation railroader with nearly 20 years of public relations experience.

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AAR Reports 9.9 Percent Increase in U.S. Weekly Rail Traffic

July 14th, 2014

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported a 9.9 percent increase in total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending July 5, 2014, when compared to the same week in 2013, with 497,828 carloads and intermodal units reported.

U.S. carloads, with a reported total of 270,731 for the week, increased 9.4 percent compared to the same week last year. Total U.S. intermodal volume was 227,097 units, an increase of 10.5 percent for the week.

All 10 of the carload commodity groups that are tracked by AAR posted increases compared with the same week in 2013. Motor vehicles and parts showed the highest increase, up 53.7 percent, with 14,608 carloads. Grain increased 21.7 percent with a total of 18,121 carloads and metallic ores and metals increased 14.5 percent with 26,749 carloads.

U.S. railroads reported a 4.6 percent increase in total combined traffic for the first 27 weeks of 2014 when compared to the same period in 2013, with a total volume of 14,588,562 carloads and intermodal units. U.S. carloads, with a reported total of 7,719,025, increased 3.4 percent. U.S. intermodal volume, with a total of 6,869,537 units, increased 6.1 percent.

Canadian railroads reported an increase of 12.4 percent in carloads and an increase of 12.9 percent in intermodal units for the week ending July 5, 2014, when compared to the same week in 2013. Weekly 2014 totals were 77,193 carloads and 57,349 intermodal units.

For the first 27 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported a cumulative volume of 2,111,569 carloads, an increase of 0.3 percent when compared to the same time period last year. An increase of 6.3 percent was reported for intermodal units, with a total of 1,504,099 units.

Mexican railroads reported a 2.2 percent decrease in carloads for the week ending July 5, 2014, compared to the same week in 2013, with 15,338 carloads reported. Intermodal units saw a 12 percent increase, with 10,823 units reported.

For the first 27 weeks of 2014, cumulative carload volume on Mexican railroads increased 1.6 percent when compared to the same time period in 2013, with a reported 417,805 carloads. Intermodal units increased 3.3 percent, with 268,798 units reported.

On the 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail carload volume for the first 27 weeks of 2014 was 10,248,399 carloads, an increase of 2.7 percent compared with the same time period last year. Intermodal trailers and containers totaled 8,642,434 units, up six percent. 

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NJ TRANSIT Adopts Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget and Capital Program

July 14th, 2014

The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors has approved a Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015) operating budget of $2.019 billion that holds fares stable for the fifth consecutive fiscal year. It also approved a $1.203 billion capital program for the fiscal year that started July 1, 2014.

The capital program funds continued state-of-good-repair investments in transit stations and infrastructure, supports an ongoing fleet modernization program and advances service reliability, safety and technology initiatives.

“NJ TRANSIT is moving forward with a balanced, fiscally-sound budget that holds the line on fares for a fifth consecutive year and continues to deliver the same level of service to our customers,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. ”We will continue to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible to best respond to the needs of the customers who rely on our service day in and day out.”

The capital program continues to invest in upgrades to the Northeast Corridor (NEC), allocating $76 million in FY 2015 as part of NJ TRANSIT’s 10-year, $1 billion NEC investment program, which includes funding for the new North Brunswick Station, the Mid-Line Loop, and upgrades to County Yard.

Program highlights include $46 million in rail station improvements, including $9 million for Elizabeth Station reconstruction, $5 million for Newark Penn Station improvements, and $12 million for projects to make Perth Amboy and Lyndhurst stations accessible to customers with disabilities.

The program will also invest $104 million in rail rolling stock improvements and $44 million toward the purchase of new buses.

Nearly half of the revenue in the FY 2015 operating budget comes from fares ($928.6 million), supported by a comparable amount from state and federal program reimbursements ($936.1 million) with the balance from a combination of commercial revenues ($113.7 million) and state operating assistance ($40.3 million).

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