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Bombardier Signs Contract with Deutsche Bahn for 29 Commuter Trains

March 21st, 2014

Bombardier Transportation has signed a contract with Deutsche Bahn for 29 TALENT 2 multiple unit trains to be used for the S-Bahn Mitteldeutschland commuter rail service in central Germany. The contract between the Deutsche Bahn DB Regio and Bombardier is valued at approximately US$203 million.

“This investment is contributing to our continued modernisation of rolling stock for the benefit of our customers,” said Dr Rüdiger Grube, CEO of Deutsche Bahn. “We are preparing the company for the future while improving our competitive position.”

The order marks the 13th call-off from a 2007 framework agreement with a worth of more than US$1.4 billion. It is part of the expansion of the S-Bahn Mitteldeutschland commuter rail network. The 19 three-car and 10 five-car trains will begin operation in fall 2016.

The TALENT 2 electric multiple unit (EMU) platform has a modular design with a high degree of standardization that allows for flexible train configuration. The train sets can be equipped with different technical modules.

“Our successful TALENT 2 trains fulfill Deutsche Bahn’s requirements perfectly in energy and cost efficiency, environmental friendliness and passenger comfort,” stated Dr Lutz Bertling, president and COO of Bombardier Transportation. “We offer our customer an optimal, market-oriented service.”

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AXION Announces Entry into Asian Market

March 20th, 2014

AXION International Holdings, Inc., supplier of recycled plastic and plastic composite technologies used to produce ECOTRAX® rail ties/sleepers and STRUXURE® building products, has announced their entry into the Asian market with approval to start in-track testing for its ECOTRAX® Rail Ties.

“We are so excited to be announcing a new geography for our ECOTRAX® 100% Recycled Rail Ties,” said  Manager of ECOTRAX® Rail Division, Cory Burdick. “We have now received approval for in-track testing with one of the most advanced and busiest transit lines in the world.”

ECOTRAX® rail ties/sleepers are currently sold to multiple domestic and international transit and freight railroads, including a domestic Class I contract and a trial with a second Class I. ECOTRAX® composite rail ties are made from AXION’s patented, 100%-recycled plastic formulation and meet and exceed all American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association specifications.

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UP Announces Leadership Changes in Operations Department

March 20th, 2014

Union Pacific has announced the following changes to its operations department.

  • Ed Weber is now vice president of the network planning and operations team, succeeding Cameron Scott who is now executive vice president of operations. Weber will be responsible for operations planning for UP’s transportation and operating plans. In his 34 years with UP, Weber has held various positions, including most recently serving as vice president of the finance department’s planning and analysis team. Weber earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming.
  • Paul Borseth has been named vice president of intermodal operations. He succeeds Kate Betsworth, who is now vice president of the National Customer Service Center. Prior to this appointment, Borseth was assistant vice president of intermodal marketing. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • David Connell is now vice president of engineering with Joe Santamaria. In his 32 years with UP, Connell held various leadership positions in the operating department, including his most recent as regional vice president of transportation for the northern region. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from North Carolina State.
  • Greg Garrison succeeds Connell as regional vice president of transportation for the northern region. Garrison has been with UP for 28 years in a number of positions, including assistant vice president of operations for the southern region. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arkansas.
  • Brian McGavock succeeds Garrison as assistant vice president of operations for the southern region. Most recently, he was assistant vice president of locomotive distribution and network operations at the Harriman Dispatching Center. McGavock holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Eastern Illinois University.
  • Tom Lischer succeeds McGavock as assistant vice president of locomotive distribution and network operations at the Harriman Dispatching Center. During his 18 years with the company, he has held positions in UP’s three operations regions and at the Harriman Dispatching Center. He is the former general superintendent of transportation services for the Houston Service Unit. Lischer earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • Jack Huddleston succeeds Lischer as general superintendent of transportation services for the Houston Service Unit. Huddleston was recently the superintendent of transportation services for the Roseville Service Unit. Huddleston holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
  • James Rawlinson is now general superintendent of transportation services for the Roseville Service Unit, succeeding Huddleston. In his 34 years with UP, Rawlinson has held several leadership positions, including his most recent position as director of transportation services for the Roseville Service Unit.
  • David Giandinoto has been appointed assistant vice president of operations for the northern region. During his 20 years with UP, he has held various positions in marketing and sales and operating, including serving as general superintendent of the Chicago Service Unit. Most recently, Giandinoto was general manager of Union Pacific Distribution Services. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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Bolyard Appointed GM, EIRR

March 20th, 2014

Garrett Bolyard has been promoted to general manager for Watco Companies‘ Eastern Idaho Railroad (EIRR). Bolyard will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the railroad and for coordinating efforts between all railroad departments.

Bolyard joined Watco Transportation Services as director of property management for the west region in July of 2008. His most recent position was assistant general manager for the EIRR.

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UP Invests Nearly $4.5 Million on Infrastructure Improvements

March 20th, 2014

Union Pacific Railroad is investing approximately $4.5 million in the rail line between Omaha, Neb., and near Missouri Valley, Iowa.

The project is one of nearly 1,500 projects Union Pacific plans to complete this year. Union Pacific is funding the entire project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of May.

The improvement will replace 31,700 concrete railroad ties and install 16,670 tons of rock ballast. Surfaces at 29 road crossings will be renewed as well.

Donna Kush, Union Pacific vice president public affairs, northern region, remarked on the improvements, saying, “Union Pacific helps businesses connect with consumers, suppliers and markets across the nation and around the world. 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.”

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NS Cites Breakthrough Year in 2013 Annual Report

March 20th, 2014

Norfolk Southern

Norfolk Southern has posted its 2013 Annual Report online, with CEO Wick Moorman describing it as a breakthrough year to stockholders.

“I am confident in the future of Norfolk Southern and the rail industry and in our ability to help move the nation’s economy forward,” said Moorman, “We set new precedents for railway operating revenues and income from railway operations and achieved new landmarks for net income, earnings per share, and operating ratio.”

Railway operating revenues were reported at $11.24 million for 2013 compared to $11.04 million  for 2012. Income from 2013 railway operations were $3.25 million compared to 2012 income of $3.12 million.

Moorman said the company is “revitalizing our existing network not only to change with the times but to lead with innovation and determination.” He credited the people of Norfolk Southern, saying, “Their talents, ingenuity, and hard work brought us to new heights today and will take us even further in the years ahead.”

The annual report is available online at the Norfolk Southern website.

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Congressman Duncan Tours UNITRAC’s Manufacturing Facility

March 20th, 2014

Duncan Tours UNITRAC

On March 17, United States Congressman John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN-02) toured UNITRAC Railroad Material, Inc.’s Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters and manufacturing facility with representatives of the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC). They visited the facility’s trackwork manufacturing operations and trackwork panel assembly yard.

UNITRAC highlighted their production and manufacturing operations and capabilities during the tour. Congressman Duncan, a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, which helps to oversee the economic and safety regulation of railroads, praised the company that has been family owned for four generations.

“I have toured every kind of business [that] you can think of in this area, and that’s a wide variety, and I can tell you I don’t believe I can find another business that has grown eight hundred percent in the last thirty years,” said Duncan.

Glenn V. Healey, owner of Healey Railroad Corporation and Raymond Lambert, president of UNITRAC state that the company has gone through tremendous growth in the past 10 years; crediting first and foremost, “the hardworking people of the company.”

“We have the experience and we’ve got a good team…we still operate as a family business and do not forget where we came from,” remarked Lambert. “We decided that we wanted to be the best, and the team works in that fashion…our growth represents that. It’s a matter of quality and delivery” which he says their customers count on.

“I think most people in the railroad industry don’t toot their horn nearly enough,” said Duncan. He continued, “the economy is better, our environment is better when we are doing as much as we can with the railroad industry.”

UNITRAC has opened a new 5-acre facility in Granite City, Ill., and has also made recent investments in manufacturing capabilities in the Knoxville facility. The company will be celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this year.

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Amtrak FY 2015 Budget Seeks Increase in Federal Passenger Rail Investment

March 19th, 2014

Amtrak is requesting $1.62 billion in federal capital and operating support for its FY 2015 budget, an increase of approximately 16 percent over last year’s federal appropriations, warning that continuation of current funding levels increases the risk of failure to the Northeast Corridor (NEC) infrastructure.

Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said, “Infrastructure deterioration and changes in business patterns have reached a point where something has to change. If America wants a modern intercity passenger rail system, the problems of policy and funding must be addressed.”

Boardman noted that the NEC is vital to the mobility, connectivity and economy of the entire Northeast region. “The nation cannot afford to let a railroad that carries half of Amtrak’s trains and 80 percent of the nation’s rail commuters fall apart,” Boardman stated.

Boardman said that a new federal policy and funding arrangement should create a multi-year capital investment program that would reverse the decay of NEC infrastructure and support other intercity passenger rail projects. It would also allow Amtrak to plan and implement projects such as replacing century-old NEC bridges and tunnels.

According to Boardman, NEC revenues exceed operating costs by more than $300 million a year and are used to cover some costs of state-supported and long-distance trains. To provide additional funding for NEC improvements, Congress should fully fund the operating and capital needs of the long-distance routes, allowing the NEC revenues to be reinvested in the NEC.

Long-distance trains have been a core federal responsibility since 1971, and Congress should fulfill its obligation by funding their full cost, according to Boardman. “It is clear that Americans want a national system of intercity passenger rail, and will continue to use it in greater numbers if we can provide it. Our work over the past decade proves this, but to maintain and improve that system will require both an increase in the overall capital levels and a real federal commitment to deliver the needed financing,” he said.

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Moore Named GM of Pacific Sun Railroad

March 19th, 2014

Watco Companies has named James Moore general manager for the Pacific Sun Railroad (PSRR). Monroe will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the California-based railroad as well as coordinating efforts between railroad departments and achieving performance goals.

Before joining Watco, Moore was employed at NKC Railnet as operations manager from 1996 to 2002 and worked for Holland as operations manager from 2003 to 2009. He served in the U.S. Army from 2011 to 2013.

 
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NRC Slams STB Finding in Contractor Definition Case

March 19th, 2014

The Surface Transportation Board’s ruling in the Rail-Term contractor case is “replete with material error” and ignores the facts presented in the case, according to the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association.

NRC, a trade group representing contractors and suppliers to the freight and passenger railroad industries, filed comments in accordance with the STB’s decision, issued Feb. 12, allowing public comment on its Nov. 19, 2013 decision finding railroad contractor Rail-Term Corp. to be a rail carrier. Rail-Term, which provides dispatching services for short lines, and various other rail organizations including NRC, appealed last year’s ruling. The agency found that by performing an essential rail function on behalf of railroads, Rail-Term had become a rail carrier under its jurisdiction.

In its petition for reconsideration filed with the STB, Rail-Term said the practical effect of the STB’s ruling is to subject it as a railroad industry vendor and potentially many others to coverage under the Railroad Retirement Act (RRA) and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA), a result clearly not intended by Congress.

Prior to the board’s Rail-Term ruling, for more than the past 100 years, under STB and judicial precedents, a company was considered to be a rail carrier under the Interstate Commerce Act, as amended, 49 U.S.C. § 10102(5), and other federal statutes only if it both held itself out to the public to provide rail transportation service and had the physical ability to do so. “This case should have been simple,” NRC President Chuck Baker wrote. “The board found that Rail-Term Corp. did not hold itself out to provide common carrier rail transportation for hire and did not possess tracks, equipment or any ability to do so. Thus, under the plain language of Section 10102(5) and settled precedent, Rail-Term is clearly not a rail carrier.”

The STB found that it could “impute” a holding out by Rail-Term as a common carrier because the function that Rail-Term contracted to perform for railroads, dispatching, was an “integral” or “required” part of those railroads’ common carrier service, NRC added. The majority did not address the language of Section 10102(5) or the second necessary element for rail carrier status, that Rail-Term must also have the physical ability to provide transportation service.

Baker pointed out that NRC is not filing comments simply because it believes the board committed material legal error. “The problem with the Rail-Term decision is that it has created legal uncertainty where there had been none as to when a company can be considered a rail carrier under the ICA and other federal laws that use the ICA’s definition.”

The STB found that Rail-Term was a rail carrier based on the idea that its rail carrier customers could not move freight without the contracted dispatching services. “But, that can be said of other products, functions and services that rail carriers routinely purchase from independent vendors and contractors,” NRC pointed out. For example, NRC members provide track and signal construction and maintenance services to rail carriers. “A rail carrier cannot move trains over defective track. A rail carrier cannot move trains in some circumstances if the signal system is not functioning. A rail carrier cannot move trains if a railroad bridge is out. A rail carrier cannot move trains if its locomotives have not been serviced. A rail carrier cannot provide transportation service unless it has serviceable freight cars,” Baker said.

If dispatching is such an essential railroad function, the group wondered whether that label would also extend to subcomponents such as computer software, dispatching components and communications systems. “Is a firm that provides IT support for dispatching software a rail carrier? Such software and support are just as “essential” as the dispatcher who sits at a dispatching console. Are communications companies such as Verizon and AT&T rail carriers because their communications service is “essential” and “embraced” in the transportation services provided by their rail carrier customers? As these examples show, it is simply not logical to argue that a function is embraced in the transportation services held out to the shipping public just because it is necessary to rail transportation,” Baker argued.

Modern railroads contract out for a variety of goods and services so that they may focus on executing their core business missions. NRC said it is not aware of anything in the Interstate Commerce Act that gives the STB jurisdiction over the contracting-out practices of rail carriers. In response to the board’s concern about the possibility that a rail carrier might contract out all functions, thus leaving a “shell company,” NRC said that such is not the case here and that extreme hypothetical does not relate to this record.

When Congress has wanted federal law to cover contractors, which do not themselves provide rail transportation, it has written the law specifically to achieve that intention, as it did by including such contractors who are also affiliates of a rail carrier in the carrier affiliate definition in the Railroad Retirement Act. NRC “respectfully submits that the board does not have the authority to rewrite the definition of rail carrier in the ICA to expand the coverage of other federal laws when those laws as written do not apply to Rail-Term,” it added.

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