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Koppers To Acquire Canadian Crosstie Treating Business

January 8th, 2014

Koppers Inc., a global producer of carbon compounds and treated wood products, and a subsidiary of Koppers Holdings Inc., has signed an asset purchase agreement to acquire Tolko Industries Ltd.  (Tolko). Tolko is a crosstie treating business and related manufacturing facility located in Ashcroft, B.C., Canada. The acquisition is expected to close within 30 days.

“The acquisition of Tolko’s Ashcroft crosstie treating business strengthens our presence in the Canadian railroad industry as well as the northwest region of the United States,” remarked Walt Turner, president and CEO of Koppers. “This transaction fits well with our strategic growth plan for our railroad products and services business in North America as we continue to build on our commitment of providing quality products and services to the railroad industry.”

Koppers operates facilities in the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and China.

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Laurello-Bambarger, CFO of Delta Railroad Construction, Wins Professional Honor

January 8th, 2014

The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), a networking group for women in business with over 600,000 members, has named Linda Laurello-Bambarger as a 2013/2014 VIP Professional Woman of the Year for leadership in business.

As CFO of Delta Railroad Construction, Laurello-Bambarger uses her accounting, contracts management and project management experience to manage the financial aspects of the Ohio-based company.

“I am responsible for the oversight of the financial status of the company,” stated Laurello-Bambarger. “This position is a step in the right direction for me. My dream job would be to become the CEO of a company at some point in my life.”

Laurello-Bambarger has a bachelor’s degree in business management from John Carroll University and is currently pursuing her MBA with a concentration in finance from Northeastern University.

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Kelley Named VP of Supply at Union Pacific

January 8th, 2014

Union Pacific Railroad has announced that D. Lynn Kelley, the current vice president of Continuous Improvement, will now head the company’s supply organization. Her new position as vice president of Supply and Continuous Improvement will include responsibility for purchasing, strategic sourcing, and industrial engineering activities.

Kelley joined Union Pacific in 2011, after serving as vice president of Operational Excellence at Textron. She is a former professor at the Madonna University School of Business and was also chief operating officer of Doctor’s Hospital in Detroit, Mich.

Union Pacific also announced the appointment of Joseph O’Connor as the vice president of Labor Relations. O’Connor, vice president of Purchasing since 2003, joined Union Pacific in 1987 as a capital planning analyst, and held several positions in Finance and Network Design and Integration. His new position carries the responsibility for negotiating labor agreements and also for managing the day-to-day relationship with the company’s represented employees. O’Connor will succeed William (Rick) Turner, vice president of Labor Relations, who is retiring in March.

Jack Koraleski, Union Pacific president and CEO, remarked on the new executive appointments. “Lynn and Joe have proven themselves as effective leaders at Union Pacific and I am pleased that they have agreed to take on these important roles for our company. Both of these functions are a key part of our ongoing commitment to creating value for our customers and great financial returns for our shareholders.”

“We all wish Rick Turner the best of luck in retirement,” continued Koraleski. “In his 32 years of service to the railroad, Rick has served our company well in a series of key assignments including vice president of Premium Operations and vice president of the National Customer Service Center.”

The new positions become effective February 1.

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ARI Sells Stake in India Railcar Builder

January 8th, 2014

American Railcar Industries, Inc. has sold its stake in Amtek Railcar Private Industries to an investment firm. The move was contained in a Jan. 6, 2014,  filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the SEC filing, ARI said it sold on Dec. 27, 2013 its interest in Amtek Railcar Industries to Cresta Fund Ltd., a private investment company in Mauritius. The purchase price for ARI’s interest in the company was $2.3 million.

Amtek Railcar, a joint venture formed by subsidiaries of ARI, produces railcars and railcar components in India, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amtek Auto Limited. As a result of the sale ARI no longer participates in Amtek Railcar.

 

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G&W to Purchase West End of CP’s Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Line

January 5th, 2014

Canadian Pacific (CP) has announced an agreement to sell the west end of its Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DM&E) line to Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W). The purchase price for the west end line is approximately USD $210 million, subject to adjustments which will include the purchase of inventory, equipment and vehicles. The sale is expected to close by mid-2014.

The west end consists of approximately 660 miles of rail line between Tracy, Minn. and Rapid City, S.D.; north of Rapid City to Colony, Wyo.; south of Rapid City to Dakota Junction, Neb. Connecting branch lines and trackage from Dakota Junction to Crawford, Neb., which is leased to the Nebraska Northwestern Railroad (NNW), are also included in the purchase.

The sale is expected to net CP an after-tax write down of approximately USD$240 million, subject to closing adjustments, and will be recorded in the company’s 2013 fourth quarter financial statements. Following the sale of the west end, Canadian Pacific will continue to own and operate approximately 1,900 miles of former DM&E track that it acquired in 2008.

CP Chief Executive Officer, E. Hunter Harrison, stated, “There is a strong long-term franchise here and we are pleased to have found a partner in Genesee & Wyoming, which will maintain a high standard of customer service. South Dakota remains an important economic driver in the Midwest and CP looks forward to working with G&W.”

Upon closing of the sale, the west end line will form the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad. The rail will be able to interchange with CP, Union Pacific, BNSF and the NNW. Most of the 180 employees G&W plans to hire for the new company will come from those currently working on the west end rail. The purchase is expected to generate approximately $65 million in annual revenue for G&W.

“We are excited to be working with CP to expand G&W’s rail operations into South Dakota, as well as into Wyoming, Minnesota and Nebraska,” said G&W’s Chief Executive Officer Jack Hellmann. “Given G&W’s commitment to safety, service and long-term infrastructure investment, we believe this transaction will significantly benefit our customers, the employees we plan to hire, the communities that we serve, and our connecting Class I rail partners.”

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Banner Year for 2013 FEC Christmas Train Fundraiser

January 2nd, 2014

The 2013 Toys for Tots Christmas Train, sponsored by Florida East Coast Railway (FEC), delivered more than 2,250 toys to each of eight locations along Florida’s East Coast. The donations by FEC employees, customers, vendors and suppliers for the 2013 yearly fundraiser totaled more than $275,000 and exceeded 2012 donations by more than 139 percent, the company said.

Jim Hertwig, CEO of FEC, said, “We are extremely proud and want to thank everyone who made this event possible. It is because of this compassionate giving that many children in the communities we serve welcomed Christmas morning with a gift from Santa.”

The 2013 Toys for Tots Christmas Train took place on December 14, when toys were distributed to representatives of the United States Marine Corps for local Toys for Tots programs. This trip marked the fourth year for the FEC Christmas Train fundraiser.

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Transit Line Buys ECOTRAX® Rail Ties from AXION

January 2nd, 2014

AXION International Holdings, Inc., a developer of recycled plastic and plastic composite products, has announced a purchase order of $925,000 for its ECOTRAX® composite rail ties by a major South Central region domestic transit line.

Cory Burdick, AXION’s ECOTRAX® sales manager, remarked on the purchase order. “We continue to demonstrate that ECOTRAX® delivers great value to our customers and the rail industry. Rail operators are actively seeking alternatives to address the increasingly expensive maintenance and replacement issues associated with wooden ties and ECOTRAX® provides them with a solution on a global scale.”

The ECOTRAX® composite rail ties, made from 100% recycled plastics, will be used by the transit line for annual spot replacement of rotted wooden ties to support two install projects. The second phase purchase order is expected to be finalized the first week of January.

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NRC Takes Stand in Contractor Case at STB

January 1st, 2014

The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) has moved to intervene in the Surface Transportation Board’s proceeding last month that defined a railroad contractor as a rail carrier.

NRC said it supports a petition for reconsideration filed by Rail-Term Corp. and joins with the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association in requesting the STB open the case for public comment on issues raised by the finding and specifically by the dissent of Vice Chairman Begeman.

NRC is a national trade association representing contractors, vendors and suppliers to the freight railroad and transit industries. It has more than 350 member companies.

“NRC’s members are generally not considered to be rail carriers within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 10102(5),” NRC President Chuck Baker said in comments filed Dec. 27 with the agency. “The board’s decision raises new uncertainty as to when companies that provide services or products to rail carriers may be “imputed” to be rail carriers for purposes of regulation by the board under the Interstate Commerce Act and the application of other federal law which applies to entities subject to the jurisdiction of the board under the ICA.”

In a decision issued Nov. 19 in Finance Docket 35582, the STB ruled on a referral question from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking whether Rail-Term, a contractor that provides dispatching services for short lines, fits its statutory requirements to be considered a rail carrier. The agency found that by performing an essential rail function on behalf of several short lines, 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 this railroad industry vendor and potentially many other railroad industry suppliers to coverage under the Railroad Retirement Act (RRA) and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA), a result clearly not intended by Congress. “The November decision is not only contrary to the plain language of the statute…it also reverses without legal justification a long line of STB and Interstate Commerce Commission precedent on the term ‘rail carrier’ and draws conclusions without any basis in the record,” Rail-Term told the STB.

Rail-Term describes itself as a small privately held Michigan corporation and a subsidiary of Canadian corporation Rail-Term Inc. Rail-Term Inc., and subsidiaries Rail-Term and Centre Rail-Control Inc., are engaged in a variety of activities that support the railroad industry in both the U.S. and Canada. Rail-Term and its sister corporation in Canada, Centre Rail-Control Inc., provide dispatching software and dispatching services for short line and regional freight railroads and for VIA RAIL CANADA, Canada’s national passenger railroad. Rail-Term develops computer-based dispatching software and provides dispatching services for several American short line railroads from an office in Rutland, VT. In effect, Rail-Term’s rail carrier clients have contracted with Rail-Term to provide the dispatching functions that they could otherwise perform “in house.”

Rail-Term said it currently employs 7 people in its U.S. office and, along with its corporate parent and Canadian sibling, employs about 100 people overall. Rail-Term provides dispatching services in the United States for the Aberdeen Carolina and Western Railway Inc., Carolina Coastal Railway, St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad (a Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary), Royal Gorge Express, LC, Washington and Idaho Railway, and short line holding company, Omni-Trax, Inc., and its subsidiary railroads.

“The NRC and its members have an interest in ensuring that the board not extend its jurisdiction to entities that are not true common carriers and by doing so extend the application of other federal laws applicable to rail carriers to entities that are not actual rail carriers as that term has been commonly understood and applied,” Baker told the STB.

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Retired Wabtec Executive Belchick Passes Away

December 30th, 2013

Funeral services were held this week in Wilmerding, Pa., for George J. Belchick, who passed away on Dec. 26. He was 71.

Belchick was well-known and well-liked in the railway industry and was a fixture at rail trade shows. He was a retired marketing director with over 41 years of service at Wabtec Corp. in Wilmerding. He is survived by his wife, Gloria; four children and grandchildren.

The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the American Diabetes Association, 100 West Station Square Dr., Landmarks Building, Suite 1900, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219.

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KKR To Invest C$250 Million in Rail Energy Logistics Firm

December 30th, 2013

Global investment firm KKR is making a major investment in crude oil rail logistics. KKR and Torq Energy Logistics, Ltd. (Torq), have entered into a definitive agreement in which KKR has committed to a C$250 million investment in Torq’s capital program and acquisition strategy.

An affiliate of Torq Transloading Inc., Torq is a private company that provides transloading services for crude oil rail transport in Western Canada. The company operates six transloading terminals in partnership with several railway operators.

“We are honored and excited to be partnering with KKR,” stated Jarrett Zielinski, president and CEO of Torq. “The shared vision between us in conjunction with the reputational and capital backing of KKR is expected to provide a long runway for growth. Today is an extremely active and exciting time to be in the energy logistics space. New technologies continue to unlock oil and gas reserves previously deemed uneconomic. The unexpected increase in energy production is reshaping the landscape of how we move energy from wellhead to market. Torq has been compelled to rethink conventional means and innovate new modes of energy transportation and storage infrastructure so as to provide premium economics for its customers and facilitate continued exploration and production.”

Subject to standard closing conditions and regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in January 2014. Three members of KKR’s Energy & Infrastructure business, Raj Agrawal, Brandon Freiman, and Frank Spelman, will join the board of directors of Torq when the deal is completed.

The director of KKR and the senior member of the firm’s energy and infrastructure team, Brandon Freiman, remarked, “We believe that continued growth in the Canadian energy sector is dependent on new infrastructure solutions to bring production to market. The team at Torq has taken a creative, entrepreneurial approach to providing safe, reliable, and flexible logistics solutions to Canadian producers, and we look forward to partnering with them to support their continued growth.”

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