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AXION Envisions Strong Finish to 2013

November 13th, 2013

AXION International Holdings, Inc., a company that recycles waste plastics into structural composite for railway ties and other products, is expecting a strong finish to 2013.  AXION sales reached $3.3 millionfor the first half of 2013, with a remaining shippable backlog of $3.8 million for the balance of the year.  The company said has doubled its manufacturing capacity in its Waco, Texas,  plant and has acquired processing equipment in order to support growth. The processing equipment will also enable AXION to process its own raw material streams.

AXION is the manufacturer of ECOTRAX® rail ties and STRUXURE® building products. STRUXURE® boards and I-beams are used to build and refurbish bridges.

“To date, 2013 has been an exciting year and the fourth quarter should be the most exciting,” remarked Steve Silverman, AXION president and CEO.  “AXION has grown in so many ways including marketing, revenue, converting from operating through a contract manufacturing model to becoming a fully integrated manufacturer with quality and consistency.  Our revenues in 2013 will exceed 2012 levels. Even more exciting is our outlook for the first quarter of 2014, which includes projects in our pipeline that we anticipate closing in 2013 for delivery in 2014.”

Revenues have diversified, with one railroad customer accounting for 80 percent of sales in 2012 and now accounting for a projected 50 percent of sales in 2013. AXION shipped products to 17 new customers and 5 existing customers in the second quarter of 2013.

Silverman said the company has invested about $2 million in the vertical integration for equipment and expanded capacity and that investment will have a significant long-term impact on its ability to achieve higher margins and attractive price points in the domestic market.

Silverman explained the benefits of a second extrusion line, and the ability to purchase raw materials and process them at one facility. “With this facility now operated by us, we have the capacity to offer value-added services such as custom fabrication of our STRUXURE® construction mats and pre-plating services for our ECOTRAX® rail ties,” he said.

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Locus Unveils Rail Incident Management Software

November 12th, 2013

Locus Technologies, a provider of cloud-based environmental compliance and information management software, is now offering a railroad-specific health and safety (H&S) incident management module. The new software allows users to report and manage railroad accidents and incidents in compliance with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations.

The Incident module includes data entry forms for incidents and near misses; the ability to associate multiple injuries/illnesses to an incident; automated incident notifications; incident trends and other metric dashboards; and report-ready FRA and OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 forms.

Neno Duplan, president and CEO of Locus, remarked, “Locus’ H&S Incident module represents a single repository in the cloud, that offers railroad-specific functionality and ease of use for managing incident investigations, and analyzing key safety metrics aimed at reducing accidents and mitigating risks.”

“When it comes to incident management, company managers should be able to have an easily accessible, all-encompassing view of what’s occurring across all of their different facilities, sites, and incident locations,” he added. 


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WWII Museum Partners with UP for Veterans Day Launch of Train Exhibit

November 11th, 2013

The National WWII Museum  in New Orleans today debuted its exhibit Train Car Experience in partnership with Union Pacific Railroad. The exhibit re-creates the wartime rail departures of America’s service men and women during World War II.

Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of the museum, stated, “The train took our fighting forces away from their loved ones and sent them to war. Situated near the museum’s entrance, this new exhibit will give our guests a feel for these poignant leave-takings that occurred in every corner of the country. It is the perfect start to a visit with The National WWII Museum.”

The Train Car Experience is housed in the museum’s Louisiana Memorial Pavilion and includes a stationary train modeled after a 1940’s Pullman sleeper car. The five-minute experience starts on the train platform where videos of vintage photographs, headlines and archival film are shown. Guests can board the train where sights and sounds simulate a train pulling out of the station.

“I’d just made 18 years old and I’d never been further than 20 miles from New Orleans when I found myself on a train going all the way to San Francisco. My mother, girlfriend and sisters saw me off. I was more excited than scared at that point,” said Forrest Villarubia, a WWII veteran and museum volunteer.

A Marine who served in the Pacific, Villarubia also returned home on a train. “The picture I have in my head is coming over the Mississippi River Bridge. I went outside to look at the city, and was overwhelmed that I had made it back to New Orleans. To be honest, I did not expect to come home.”

America’s trains were the primary means of moving service men and women across the country during the war. Trains took them to basic training, advanced training and finally to deployment and carried them back for leave time. American railroads provided 44 million rides to service men and women between December 1941 and June of 1945. This totaled nearly three trips for each of the 16 million people in uniform. The Union Pacific Railroad played a key role during World War II as rail systems transported members of all branches of service, military equipment and other supplies essential to the war effort.

The National WWII Museum Train Car Experience was made possible through a gift from The Bobby and Lori Kent Savoie family in honor of Leroy Wayne “Pete” Kent, Lori’s father.  A World War II veteran, Pete Kent joined the Navy in 1943, two weeks after graduating high school.

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Genesee & Wyoming Reports October Traffic Gains

November 11th, 2013

Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) has reported a 104.2-percent increase in October traffic this year compared to the same period in 2012. October 2013 traffic was 163,829 carloads and reported traffic for October 2012 was 80,241 carloads. The primary reason for the increase was G&W’s acquisition of RailAmerica Inc. (RA). The pro forma carloads report for October 2012 was 154,118, which is 9,711 carloads, or 6.3 percent, less than total October 2013 carloads.

In January 2013, G&W began reporting consolidated traffic volumes which included carloads from RailAmerica Inc. (RA) railroads. To provide comparative context for 2013 consolidated traffic volumes, G&W is providing supplemental 2012 carload information on a pro forma basis as though the RA railroads were owned by G&W on Jan. 1, 2012.

Pro forma increases for October traffic are as follows: Metals traffic saw a 3,042-carload increase over 2012, mostly due to increased shipments in G&W’s Southern, Northeast, Canada and Ohio Valley regions. Metallic ores traffic increased 2,397 carloads primarily due to increased iron ore shipments in G&W’s Australia Region. Petroleum products were up 1,502 carloads, which was mostly due to increased shipments of crude oil in G&W’s Pacific Region.

The only downturn in October shipments for 2013 compared to pro forma 2012 was found in agricultural products traffic. They decreased 1,617 carloads primarily due to decreased shipments in G&W’s Midwest, Central and Pacific regions. This was partially offset by increased shipments in G&W’s Australia Region. All remaining traffic increased by a net 4,387 carloads.

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CBRR Delivers First Unit Train to Pacific Coast Canola Facility

November 11th, 2013

Columbia Basin Railroad (CBRR)  delivered the first unit train of canola seeds to Pacific Coast Canola (PCC),  the only canola processing plant on the West Coast. The train was loaded in Milton, N.D., and was unloaded at the PCC facility in Warden, Wash. The delivery was due to a cooperative effort by PCC, CBRR, Cenex Harvest States, BNSF Railway and the Port of Warden.

The PCC facility started receiving single railcars of the 2013 crop of canola seed in September with steadily increasing rail volumes through to November. PCC leases track that can accommodate the unloading of up to 110 car trains from CBRR and has built several long rail sidings in Warden.

CBRR President Brig Temple said, “This initial unit train of canola seed adds to the many trains that the Columbia Basin Railroad hauls to/from Washington State, and would not have been possible without the tremendous cooperation of BNSF Railway, CHS, the Port of Warden and Pacific Coast Canola.”

The PCC facility is located at the Port of Warden and is one of two canola processing plants in North America that uses expeller-press technology. The plant has a processing capacity of about 40,000,000 gallons of canola oil and 240,500 U.S. tons of canola meal per year.

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Rail, Ethanol Units Lift Results at The Andersons

November 7th, 2013

The Andersons, Inc. (NASDAQ: ANDE) reported third-quarter net income of $17.2 million, or $0.91 per diluted share, on revenues of $1.2 billion.  That’s up from the third quarter of 2012, when the company reported results of $16.9 million, or $0.90 per diluted share, on revenues of $1.1 billion. 

For the first nine months of 2013, the company earned $59.3 million, or $3.15 per diluted share, on revenues of $4.0 billion.

“We had a record third quarter, due to the exceptional results seen in our Ethanol and Rail groups,” said CEO Mike Anderson. “We also had good results in the Grain Group.”

He said the company expects the fourth quarter will be comparable to results seen in 2010 and 2011.  “The fourth quarter of 2012 results were tempered by the drought, which we are happy to say is behind us; we are instead in the midst of a record corn crop,” Anderson said.

The Rail Group achieved third-quarter operating income of $12.4 million on revenues of $48 million. In the same three-month period of 2012, the group earned $19.1 million and revenues were $60 million.  This quarter, the group recognized $2.2 million in gains on sales of railcars. Last year, the group recognized $13.5 million in gains on sales of railcars and related leases and non-recourse transactions during the third quarter. Gross profit from the leasing business increased significantly this quarter due to an increase in the average lease rate.  The group also recognized gains related to the settlement of two non-performing leases. The average utilization rate for the quarter was 86.2 percent, which is up from 84.3 percent last year.  The group’s first nine months of operating income was a record $36.6 million on $132 million of revenues.  In 2012, operating income through September was $34.3 million and revenues were $128 million. In September, the company completed the acquisition of Mile Rail, LLC, a railcar repair and cleaning facility headquartered in Kansas City, with two satellite locations in Nebraska and Indiana.

The Grain Group had operating income of $14.3 million in the third quarter of 2013 compared with $10.8 million for the same period last year.  Both space income and gross profit on sales in the third quarter were higher than the prior year.  The company’s investment in Lansing Trade Group also had strong results.  Revenues for the Grain Group were $766 million and $677 million for the third quarter of 2013 and 2012, respectively. 

The Ethanol Group achieved record operating income of $10.9 million in the third quarter on revenues of $213 million.  This compares to an operating loss of $0.9 million during the same period last year on revenues of $210 million.  This income increase was primarily the result of an increase in the company’s earnings from its investments in the ethanol production facilities, which benefited from higher ethanol margins.  These facilities also continue to benefit from significant income provided by co-products such as corn-oil, distillers dried grains, E-85, and CO2.  The group’s operating income through September was a record $24.0 million on revenues of $635 million.

The Andersons, based in Maumee, Ohio, is a diversified firm with businesses in the grain, ethanol, and plant nutrient sectors, railcar leasing, turf and cob products, and consumer retailing.

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Rail Stocks Show Strength in 3rd Quarter

November 6th, 2013

Shares of railroad industry stocks continued to show gains in the third quarter of this year, lifted by an improving economy.

All of the stocks in the Pocket List of Railroad Officials’ Market Watch Index ended the three-month period in positive territory. Among the Class I railroads, CSX, CN and Norfolk Southern were standouts, with CSX posting a 12-percent increase in the quarter, NS delivering a 7.7-percent increase and CN a 4.9-percent gain. Among railroad suppliers, FreightCar America, Trinity and Wabtec were the quarterly standouts. FCA’s shares were up 24 percent while Trinity’s and Wabtec’s shares were up 20 and 18 percent, respectively.

The share price for short line giant Genesee & Wyoming was up 10 percent for the quarter. Jack Hellmann, president and CEO of G&W commented, “The third quarter of 2013 was the third reporting period in which G&W’s consolidated results included the former RailAmerica railroads. The combined business continued to perform well with combined company adjusted operating revenues up 11 percent, corporate overhead cost synergies now fully achieved, and G&W’s adjusted diluted earnings per share up 49 percent in the third quarter.”

He noted that during the third quarter, G&W began hiring and training new crews at several of the former RailAmerica railroads to support its traffic growth, which was up 6.8 percent in the third quarter on a combined company basis.  “As we enter the fourth quarter, our business remains strong and we are actively working on new business development opportunities in both North America and Australia,” Hellmann said. “In addition, the acquisition market is active in multiple geographies and we will continue to pursue the right opportunities at the appropriate valuations.”

The Pocket List Index was up more than 5 percent for the quarter while the Dow Jones Transportation Average was up 6.9 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up only 1.45 percent. Through three quarters of the year, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,940,538 carloads, down 0.9 percent from the same point last year, and 9,547,764 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 39 weeks of 2013 was 20,488,302 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent from last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads were up 4.9 percent, or 29,116 carloads, in September. “Those who follow the rail industry know that carloads of grain and coal can rise or fall by substantial amounts for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the state of the economy,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Not so with most other rail traffic categories, however. The fact that rail carloads excluding coal and grain were up 4.9 percent in September — the biggest year-over-year monthly gain since last December — is a hopeful sign.”

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CSX’s Adkins Honored with Industry Environmental Award

November 6th, 2013

Matthew Adkins, CSX Transportation’s manager of environmental remediation, has received the Association of American Railroads’ 2013 Professional Environmental Excellence Award. The award is the highest honor for environmental professionals in the railroad industry.

Adkins is a veteran CSX employee who began his career in 1996 as an environmental specialist in Corbin, Ky. He recently led a team that successfully remediated the former Gautier Oil creosote treatment plant in Gautier, Miss., spending nine years investigating, designing, and executing a plan to restore and enhance the 24-acre coastal site. Now part of a conservation easement, the site was granted Wildlife at Work certification by the Wildlife Habitat Council.

“Matt is an exemplary steward of CSX’s environmental efforts who has successfully managed a number of complex remediation projects, demonstrating strong leadership, creativity and superior project management skills,” said Skip Elliott, vice president, public safety, health and environment. “Across projects, he consistently engages stakeholders, including local leaders and community organizations, to generate the best-possible results for everyone involved.”

In his current role at CSX, he manages environmental remediation projects for eight states. He was instrumental in the creation of the direct to locomotive (DTL) fuel vendor review protocol for CSX and he now manages the program across the company’s system. Through this program, he manages a training program for the inspection of fuel vendors, which has resulted in an increase in compliance reviews from nine inspections in 2007 to 150 inspections in 2012, at 39 facilities. Also, Adkins has played a key role in a successful design and remediation of environmental impacts soils at the Dorothy B. Johnson Elementary School in Wilmington, N.C., and with a remediation project at the East Broad Elementary School in Savannah, Ga.

Adkins was one of seven railroad industry professionals nominated for the award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding performance in environmental awareness and responsibility during the year. The six other nominees were: Edward Chapman of BNSF, Joseph Gennette of Norfolk Southern, Jim Kozey of Canadian Pacific, David Sutherland of Canadian National, Marsha Woodward of Union Pacific, and Sandra Yan of Amtrak.

Adkins is the sixth CSX employee to win the award in the last dozen years.

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IANA Delves Inside 3rd Quarter Intermodal Traffic Reports

November 6th, 2013

The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA)  has reported an increase of 4.7 percent in total intermodal traffic in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the same time period in 2012. Continuing to lead intermodal growth, domestic container volume increased for the 2013 third quarter by 9.4 percent when compared to third quarter 2012 volume. All domestic equipment experienced a 7.6-percent gain in the 2013 third quarter, including a 1.2-percent boost in intermodal trailer volume for the same period.

The increase in total intermodal traffic for the 2013 third quarter was also caused by a slight rise in international volume by 2 percent over 2012 third quarter volume. A slow but steady growth trend may be expected for the international market if jobs, consumer spending and/or the broader economy accelerate, according to IANA.

The third quarter of 2013 marked the first time that international shipments were outpaced by seasonally adjusted domestic shipments. Contributing factors to this achievement included five years of accelerated volume gains and a decade of domestic service improvement. International shipments were also affected by weak container trade volumes during the recession followed by an inconsistent rebound.

Joni Casey, president and CEO of IANA, said, “For the tenth quarter in a row, domestic container volume flexed its muscles and has outpaced international shipments driving the gains in total intermodal traffic. It is also worth noting that the trailer segment grew in all three months of the third quarter, reversing three years of decline and contributed to domestic growth.”

The Northeast United States posted an 8.3-percent gain in intermodal traffic in the third quarter of 2013 over the same period in 2012, the second-fastest regional growth rate in the country. Strong outbound container volume increased 9 percent when compared to third quarter volume in 2012.

The Southeast United States posted an increase of 11.3 percent in intermodal traffic in the third quarter of 2013 when compared to third quarter 2012 volumes. The Midwest held the largest share of regional traffic with 28 percent, according to IANA’s Market Trends data.

Improving imports and transload volumes played a large role in increasing third quarter 2013 intermodal marketing company (IMC) volume results. The volumes increased by 5.7 percent when compared to the 1.1-percent increase in the 2012 third quarter.

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Emerson Bearing Opens Rail Industry Division

November 6th, 2013

Emerson Bearing is now operating a division that supplies bearings and related products to the rail industry. The Boston-based company specializes in bearings for both the OEM and MRO  markets.

The major groups in the new division include:  bearings for drive systems such as transmission, traction drive and axle suspension; bearings for chassis, like wheelsets and brakes; and bearings for vehicle bodies which includes connectors and door systems.

Steve Katz, president of Emerson Bearing, Inc., stated, “The bearings that have been designed for the rail industry provide the reliability and safety we have come to expect (from) Emerson Bearing products. Clients like Walco Electric are already seeing the benefits of our bearings.”

Emerson Bearing also offers cylindrical roller bearings that meet F1 tolerances for extended running life and reliability. The cylindrical roller bearings are also available with current insulation that either has oxide ceramic coatings on the inner/outer rings or ceramic rolling elements.

Joe Falvey, an Emerson Bearing marketing specialist, is responsible for the new Rail and Transportation Industry Division.

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