WRR – 02-11-2011

WEEKLY RAIL REVIEW

FOR THE WEEK ENDING FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2011

THE WEEK’S TOP RAIL AND TRANSIT NEWS (in chronological order):

(MON) New Jersey’s U.S. Senators Lautenberg and Menendez joined Amtrak President Joseph Boardman in announcing the “Trans-Hudson Gateway Tunnel Project.”  The project attempts to resurrect the effort to build two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York.  A separate effort to construct the tunnels was shut down last year by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who said that he did not want the state to be liable for that project’s cost overruns.  The new project, which includes a connection to the Pennsylvania Station-Moynihan Station complex that the earlier effort bypassed, is estimated to cost $13.5 billion, which will be sought from various government bodies, and possibly also from private investors. (ffd: AASHTO, Crain’s Business, U.S. Senate)

(MON) BNSF announced a $3.5 billion capital program for 2011.  BNSF says that spending will include $2 billion for “BNSF core network and related assets,” $450 million to acquire 227 locomotives, and approximately $350 million for freight car and other equipment acquisitions.  BNSF said that they will also need to spend $300 million for Positive Train Control (PTC)-related projects. (ffd: BNSF RR)

(TUE) Norfolk Southern suffered an on-duty employee fatality.  Stanley Watts, Age 43 with five years’ service, was killed while switching cars in Kankakee, IL.  Media reports indicate that Mr. Watts may have been crushed between a car he was riding and another car.  The accident is the first on-duty employee fatality on U.S. railroads in 2011. (ffd: wire services)

(TUE) Following up President Obama’s call in his recent State of the Union address, Vice President Biden announced a national plan to develop a U.S. high-speed passenger rail network.  Mr. Biden said that the goal of the plan will be to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.  He added that the proposal “would place high-speed rail on equal footing with other surface transportation programs and revitalize America’s domestic rail manufacturing industry by dedicating $53 billion over six years to…the network.” (ffd: AASHTO, wire services)

(TUE) Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) introduced a bill to modify slightly the requirements of the federal Railway Safety Improvement Act of 2008 related to Positive Train Control.  The bill would change the requirement that PTC be installed on Class I rail lines over which Toxic-By-Inhalation commodities are routed as of the Year 2015 instead of as of the Year 2008.  The change would save PTC from having to be installed on approximately 10,000 Class I route miles. (ffd: AAR, wire services)

(TUE) The American Public Transportation Association announced what they called “the 10 best [U.S.] cities for public transportation.”  Leading the list was Portland, OR, followed by Salt Lake City, UT, and New York, NY.  APTA said that the rankings were based on per capita spending on public transportation, the number of safety incidents per million trips, and the number of trips taken per capita. (ffd: APTA, U.S. News and World Report)

(WED) The Republican-lead House Appropriations Committee proposed spending cuts totaling $74 billion to the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget.  The proposed cuts include lowering Amtrak funding to $1.413 billion, representing $142 million less than the 2010 level at which Amtrak had been spending, and also eliminate all high-speed rail grants to states.  The proposals, announced by the committee’s chair, Hal Rogers (R-KY), must still be considered by the full committee and the full Congress. (ffd: AASHTO, NARP)

(WED) Canadian National announced a C$1.7 billion capital program for 2011.  A CN spokesman said that the program “includes replacement of rail, ties and other track materials and bridge improvements, as well as rail line improvements on the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway that CN acquired in 2009.” (ffd: CN RR)

(THU) The Surface Transportation Board said that it would “open a rulemaking proceeding” to determine whether Positive Train Control should be separately reported in the R-1 summary report that the STB requires each Class I railroad to annually prepare and submit.  The STB said that the proceeding respond to a request by Union Pacific “to segregate such data to make it separately identifiable.” (ffd: STB)

(THU) MapQuest, the personal mapping website, announced a new rail transit option.  The new option features a pedestrian mode that incorporates public rail transportation routings for Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.  A MapQuest spokesman added that the option “provides departure and arrival information, helpful hints to alert train passengers, and station search information [for the] designated cities.” (ffd: RT&S)

STATS – CLASS 1 RAIL TRAFFIC:

(THU) The Association of American Railroads reported that, for the week ending February 5, 2011 and ranked with the comparable week last year:

- U.S. carload rail traffic totaled 267,682 units, unchanged

- U.S. intermodal rail traffic totaled 198,249 units, down 1.5 percent

- Canadian carload rail traffic totaled 67,536, down 2.6 percent

- Canadian intermodal rail traffic totaled 44,322 units, up 1.7 percent

- Mexican carload rail traffic totaled 13,248 units, up 18.9 percent

- Mexican intermodal rail traffic totaled 7,581 units, up 46.2 percent

In announcing these results, the AAR noted the impact of severe winter storms in the Midwest and parts of the Northeast.

For the period January 1 through February 5, 2011:

-U.S. carload rail traffic totaled 1,409,975 units, up 6.4 percent

-U.S. intermodal rail traffic totaled 1,061,348 units, up 5.7 percent

-Canadian carload rail traffic totaled 345,678 units, down 1.8 percent

-Canadian intermodal rail traffic totaled 222,918 units, up 2.4 percent

-Mexican carload rail traffic totaled 71,704 units, up 9.1 percent

-Mexican intermodal rail traffic totaled 34,803 units, up 11.6 percent

NOTE: Canadian counts include traffic from the U.S. operations of the two Canadian-based Class I railroads, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway.

EXPANSIONS, CONTRACTIONS AND ALIKE:

(WED) Fulton County Railroad agreed to grant local trackage rights to the Elkhart & Western Railroad between Argos and Rochester, IN, totaling approximately 12 miles.  The purpose of the transaction is to allow the Elkhart & Western to provide continued rail service to Fulton County customers and to allow direct interchange of Fulton County customers’ traffic with Norfolk Southern at Argos. (ffd: STB)

(WED) The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor announced that it had accepted the bid of Norfolk Southern to provide rail switching services to the port’s customers. (ffd: Norfolk Southern RR)

(THU) California Northern Railroad agreed to grant overhead trackage rights to Union Pacific between Tracy and Lyoth, CA, totaling approximately two miles.  The purpose of the trackage rights is to enable UP to move trains between its Oakland, CA Subdivision and its Tracy Industrial Lead. (ffd: STB)

(THU) The City of Temple, TX filed to acquire, from Georgetown Railroad, approximately six miles of line between Belton and Smith, TX.  In its filing, the city said that there had been no traffic on the line for many years. (ffd: STB)

(FRI) The Surface Transportation Board granted Arkansas Midland Railroad’s earlier filing to provide emergency rail service on three miles of line in and near Gurdon, AR now owned by Caddo Valley Railroad.  In the filing, the Arkansas Midland noted that the Caddo Valley “has ceased operations, has no serviceable locomotives, and is not in a financial position to obtain a locomotive or to resume service.” (ffd: STB)

(FRI) The Tri City & Olympia Railroad, doing business as Mare Island Rail Services, announced that it has entered into an agreement to provide rail service to Mare Island, CA.  Service was earlier provided by the San Francisco Bay Railroad, which withdrew as rail service provider last year in a dispute over access. (ffd: Vallejo Times Herald, RT&S)

APPOINTMENTS, ACHIEVEMENTS AND MILESTONES:

(WED) New Jersey Transit announced the formal appointment of Kevin O’Connor as its vice president and general manager of rail operations.  Mr. O’Connor has been the acting VP and GM since July, 2010.  He joined NJT in 2002. (ffd: NJ Transit)

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WRR – 02-04-2011

WEEKLY RAIL REVIEW

FOR THE WEEK ENDING FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2011

THE WEEK’S TOP RAIL AND TRANSIT NEWS (in chronological order):

(SUN) Amtrak debuted the first of what will eventually be four locomotives repainted in an earlier or “heritage” Amtrak paint scheme.  The locomotive, Amtrak No. 145, was debuted on the point of Amtrak’s eastbound “Capitol Limited” train.  The four locomotives are being repainted in connection with the celebration of Amtrak’s 40th anniversary. (ffd: Railroad Magazine)

(MON) The U.S. Department of Transportation filed a statement with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board related to hearings the STB will hold February 24 on continued regulatory exemptions for selected rail traffic, including for intermodal.  The statement, filed by USDOT General Counsel Robert Rivkin, did not directly endorse continued exemption, but did strongly endorse intermodal rail service, noting that USDOT “believes that railroads will need to play an even larger role in the future than they have in the past” and have shown that intermodal offers “significant public benefits.” (ffd: Journal of Commerce)

(MON) South Florida commuter rail operator Tri-Rail said that it would temporarily close its Miami Airport station to facilitate construction of a new station serving the airport.  A Tri-Rail spokesman said that passengers will be able to get to connect with the airport via a shuttle bus to and from its Hialeah station. (ffd: Trains)

(TUE) A severe snow and ice storm caused downed power lines and related electrical transmission problems in the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX area.  As a result, Dallas Area Rapid Transit had to suspend service on its light rail system for what it said was the first time in its history.  Service problems continued on the system into the following day due to rolling electrical blackouts. (ffd: Trains)

(TUE) The Florida Department of Transportation budgeted $118 million to restore passenger rail service on the Florida East Coast Railway’s line between Jacksonville and Miami.  $118 million represents one-half of the estimated cost to restore service, which has not seen scheduled passenger trains since the 1960s.  Florida DOT’s budget must still be approved by the state legislature and is conditional on Amtrak or the federal government providing the other half of the cost. (ffd: Florida Today)

(TUE) FedEx Freight, the FedEx business unit for less-than-truckload shipments, was reported to have decided to routinely use intermodal rail, something it had done in the past but not on a sustained basis.  The report, in Logistics Management Magazine, quoted Norfolk Southern Chief Marketing Officer Don Seale as saying, “FedEx will systematically use intermodal rail service for the first time in its nearly 40-year history when it rolls out its revamped less-than-truckload operation.”  Also mentioned was that NS would be one of the intermodal rail providers for FedEx Freight. (ffd: Logistics Management, UTU)

(WED) A major winter storm, dubbed the “Great Ground Hog Day Blizzard,” notably impacted rail operations in the Midwest.  This was especially the case in the Chicago area, where nearly two feet of snow fell.  The severity of the storm forced Chicago commuter rail operator Metra to cancel service on several of its lines, Amtrak to cancel several trains originating or terminating in Chicago, and Union Pacific to temporarily close its intermodal terminals there, among other disruptions.  Resumption of rail service began the next day and  was near normal by the end of the week. (ffd: Chicago Tribune, Trains)

(WED) Norfolk Southern made a $60,000 grant to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania through its Norfolk Southern Foundation.  The grant will be used to improve and make electronically accessible the museum’s library and archival collections. (ffd: NS RR, Trains)

(THU) The Federal Transit Administration endorsed a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Central Corridor Light Rail Project.  The project will link downtown Minneapolis with St. Paul Union Depot in downtown St. Paul.  Construction of the 11-mile line began in 2010 and is expected to be complete and operational by 2014. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

(THU) New Orleans announced plans to expand its light rail system.  Two extensions are planned: the first, funded by a $45 million federal grant, will run from the French Quarter east down Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue; the second, funded by $79 million in revenue from a city sales tax bond, will run down Elysian Fields Avenue. (ffd: Trains)

(FRI) Metro North announced that it would substitute bus service on its Waterbury Line in order to free up commuter rail cars for its New Haven Line.  It also said that it would operate reduced service on that line through March 4.  The changes result from about 40 percent of cars regularly assigned to the New Haven Line being out of service due to problems related to the recent severe winter weather. (ffd: New Canaan Advertiser, New York Times)

(FRI) Canadian Pacific announced that it had reached tentative agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) on a new contract.  The union had threatened a work stoppage on or about February 8 if a new contract was not settled on.  Both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific have now settled with the CAW. (ffd: CPR RR)

(FRI) Two Class I railroads announced that they would buy back amounts of their stock to enhance its value.  Canadian National announced that it would repurchase up to 16.5 million shares.  Also, Union Pacific announced that it would repurchase up to 40 million shares, the latter in a program to run through March, 2014. (ffd: CN RR, UP RR)

(FRI) The forecasting firm Economic Planning Associates estimated that rail car deliveries would reach approximately 27,000 units in 2011.  The firm said that this would include a number of covered hoppers and intermodal platforms, as well as gondolas and coal cars. (ffd: EPA Inc., Progressive Railroading)

(FRI) House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) announced his committee would hold a series of field hearings to hear comment related to the new surface transportation legislation the committee is preparing.  The previous multi-year surface transportation law, known as SAFETEA-LU and which a new bill would supersede, expired in September, 2009 and has been temporarily extended six times.  Mr. Mica said that the first hearing would be held February 14 in Beckley, WV. (ffd: AASHTO)

(FRI) The Surface Transportation Board announced that it would postpone its hearing on the state of rail competition until June 22.  The hearing was originally scheduled for May 3.  In announcing the rescheduling, the STB said that the delay would give interested parties more time to prepare their testimony. (ffd: STB)

STATS – CLASS 1 RAIL TRAFFIC:

(THU) The Association of American Railroads reported that, for the week ending January 29, 2011 and ranked with the comparable week last year:

- U.S. carload rail traffic totaled 291,147 units, up 4.7 percent

- U.S. intermodal rail traffic totaled 222,742 units, up 9.2 percent

- Canadian carload rail traffic totaled 71,382 units, up 3.6 percent

- Canadian intermodal rail traffic totaled 45,694 units, up 6.6 percent

- Mexican carload rail traffic totaled 15,148 units, up 13.1 percent

- Mexican intermodal rail traffic totaled 7,172 units, up 10.3 percent

For the period January 1 through 29, 2011:

-U.S. carload rail traffic totaled 1,142,293 units, up 8.0 percent

-U.S. intermodal rail traffic totaled 863,099 units, up 7.4 percent

-Canadian carload rail traffic totaled 278,142 units, down 1.6 percent

-Canadian intermodal rail traffic totaled 178,596 units, up 2.6 percent

-Mexican carload rail traffic totaled 58,456 units, up 7.1 percent

-Mexican intermodal rail traffic totaled 27,222 units, up 4.7 percent

NOTE: Canadian counts include traffic from the U.S. operations of the two Canadian-based Class I railroads, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway.

EXPANSIONS, CONTRACTIONS AND ALIKE:

(MON) The Hudson-Bergen light rail system opened an additional mile of line beyond its previous southern end at 22nd Street in Bayonne, NJ.  The new section extends the line to a new station at 8th Street in Bayonne. (ffd: Newark Star-Ledger)

(WED) GNP Railway filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.  GNP operates the short line between Snohomish and Woodinville, WA. (ffd: Seattle times)

(FRI) Carolina Coastal Railway filed to lease, from Norfolk Southern, and operate approximately eight miles of NS’s SB Line between Kings Creek and Blacksburg, SC. (ffd: STB)

(FRI) Delta Southern filed to abandon approximately 24 miles of line between McGehee and Lake Village, AR. (ffd: STB)

APPOINTMENTS, ACHIEVEMENTS AND MILESTONES:

(MON) Chicago commuter rail operator Metra named Alexander Clifford its new chief and executive director.  Mr. Clifford, who was most recently the executive officer for high-speed rail at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority, succeeds longtime Metra head Phil Pagano, who committed suicide last year by stepping in front of a Metra train. (ffd: Chicago Tribune)

(MON) Iowa Interstate appointed Jerome Lipka its executive vice president and chief financial officer.  Mr. Lipka has been with IAIS since 2008. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

(FRI) U.S. Steel appointed Malisa Sommers its managing director of transportation.  She will also be the president of USS’s transportation subsidiary, Transtar, which operates eight railroads serving USS plants and facilities. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

(FRI) Union Pacific appointed Brian McGavock the general superintendent of its Harriman Dispatching Center in Omaha, NE.  Mr. McGavock succeeds Mark Payne, who is retiring after 32 years of UP service.  UP also named Tom Lischer the general superintendent of its Houston Service Unit, the position previously held by Mr. McGavock. (ffd: UP RR)

CORRECTIONS:

Please note the following concerning items in last week’s edition:

Re “Signal and switching problems on the line between New York and Albany resulting in Amtrak canceling its Empire Service trains between those cities.”  This was reported in another rail industry publication, however, a CSX employee who reads WRR reports that, “Amtrak was having severe brake problems on its Amfleet I equipment causing air leaks, thus brakes coming on.  It had something to do with an air gasket that wasn’t suited to temps as low as they were that day.”

Re “BNSF…no longer required by U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) rules to publicly report detailed financial data.”  This was incorrect.  WRR Reader Larry Kaufman reports that, “BNSF no longer files data with the STB, but it continues to file financial data with the SEC because it still has debt in public hands.”  BNSF does not file an annual report to stockholders with financial statements, because there is no stock available to be bought or sold.

Re CSX fourth quarter results: I had reported that CSX had 4th Qtr., 2010 revenues “of $2.186 billion versus $2.320 billion [in the 4th Qtr., 2009]…an increase of 21 percent.”  In fact, it is the reverse: fourth quarter revenues were $2.320 billion versus $2.186 billion earlier – which indeed is an increase of 21 percent.

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WRR – 01-28-2011

WEEKLY RAIL REVIEW

FOR THE WEEK ENDING FRIDAY, JANUARY 28, 2011

THE WEEK’S TOP RAIL AND TRANSIT NEWS (in chronological order):

(MON) Canadian National reported that it had reached tentative agreement on a new contract with the Canadian Autoworkers Union, averting a strike that had been set by the union for January 25.  The CAW represents approximately 4,300 CN employees, including certain mechanical personnel, clerical and intermodal workers.  CN said that the new contract would grant its CAW-represented employees wage and benefit increases. (ffd: CN RR, Trains)

(MON) Extreme cold weather, including temperatures down to or below single digits, impacted some rail operations in the Northeastern states, especially passenger trains.  On Monday, signal and switching problems on the line between New York and Albany resulted in Amtrak canceling its Empire Service trains between those cities, with passengers rerouted via buses.  In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad reported that 63 percent of its Monday trains were delayed.  Numerous Long Island Railroad, Metro North, and New Jersey Transit trains were also delayed or canceled. (ffd: Trains, Washington Post)

(MON) Iowa Governor Terry Branstad suggested that he would be the next Republican governor to return federal high-speed rail funding.  “I don’t think we should be in the business of subsidizing passenger train service,” Mr. Branstad said earlier.  Iowa had received $230 million in federal funding to launch a new Amtrak service between Chicago, the Quad Cities, and Iowa City.  If effected, Mr. Branstad would be the third Republican governor to return federal high-speed rail funding, joining Ohio Governor John Kasich and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, both of whom killed new passenger rail projects in their respective states after taking office.  Both governors sought to divert the funding to highway projects, but in both cases, the U.S. Department of Transportation rescinded the funding and allocated it to other states. (ffd: Des Moines Register, Trains)

(MON) The Association of America Railroads noted that approximately 67,000 rail workers, or approximately 30 percent of the rail industry workforce, would be eligible for railroad retirement in the next five years.  AAR now features a section on their website called “Faces Of Freight Rail,” which promotes railroading as a career.  In a related story, and reflective of the continuing economic recovery, the Surface Transportation Board reported that the number of train and engine employees on Class I (i.e., the seven largest) railroads was 62,067 in December, 2010 versus 56,833 in December, 2009, an increase of 9.21 percent. (ffd: AAR, STB)

(TUE) In his State Of The Union address to Congress, President Obama stressed the need for infrastructure improvements, including high-speed rail.  The president set as a goal to “within 25 years….give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car.”  He noted that “China is building faster trains…We have to do better…America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad.”  The Washington public policy advocacy firm of Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell noted that Mr. Obama referred to “rail” eight times in his speech, the most mentions in a State Of The Union address in the last thirty years. (ffd: Bloomberg News, CC&H, NARP)

(TUE) New Jersey Transit officials told the U.S. Department of Transportation that they should not have to return the $271 million in federal funding already spent on the new Hudson River rail tunnel project, which New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shut down earlier this year citing state budget constraints.  In papers filed with the Federal Transit Administration, the agency said that the project was canceled due to circumstances beyond its control.  New Jersey has projected an $11 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year, the third highest state deficit on a per capita basis, behind first place Nevada and second place Illinois. (ffd: Asbury Park Press, New York Times)

(TUE) Railinc, the Association of American Railroads subsidiary that manages industry systems and data, noted that its new Damaged and Defective Car Tracking System was now fully operational.  The new web-based system replaces the defect card process for tagging and returning damaged and defective rail cars for repair, which Railinc said had been the process for doing this for approximately the last 125 years. (ffd: Railinc, Trains)

(WED) A winter storm that dumped a foot or more of snow as it worked its way up the Eastern Seaboard from Virginia to New England impacted passenger train operations in the region.  On Thursday, Washington, DC commuter rail operator MARC canceled service on its Brunswick and Camden lines, and Metro North canceled service on New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury Branches.  Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad also had delayed or had to cancel numerous trains.  Passenger train service in the region was largely back to normal by Friday. (ffd: NARP, Trains, Washington Post)

(THU) Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) reintroduced his bill to reauthorize the Surface Transportation Board, which aims to expand the STB and its regulatory scope.  Although the bill was passed by his committee in the last Congress, it did not reach the Senate floor for debate and voting, and died at the end of the congressional session.  Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) also reintroduced his bill to put railroads under the same anti-trust laws as other industries, a bill that was withdrawn in the last Congress.  In a related story, the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee signed a letter opposing rail re-regulation.  “Any policy change made by the [STB] which restricts the railroads’ ability to invest, grow their networks and meet the nation’s freight transportation demands will be opposed by the committee,” stated its chair, Rep. John Mica (R-FL). (ffd: Congressional Quarterly, Journal of Commerce)

(THU) The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a special session in New York City on high-speed rail and the Northeast Corridor.  During the hearing, the committee’s chair, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), said that “this 437-mile stretch of incredibly valuable real estate” is an example of the government wasting federal assets.  He said that only by pulling in private investment could truly high-speed rail service be realized.  Among those testifying at the hearing was Amtrak President Joseph Boardman, who countered that, “It is critical for the Northeast Corridor to remain a public asset…Amtrak was created by Congress precisely because the privately-owned railroads could no longer sustain the vital public service of intercity rail.”  The hearing was held in the old main waiting room of Grand Central Terminal, which hosts Metro North commuter trains, but technically is not part of the Northeast Corridor rail line. (ffd: AASHTO, Journal of Commerce)

(THU) The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials released a report noting that the states are moving forward with passenger rail.  The AASHTO report said that 29 states and the District of Columbia received grants for high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and that the Federal Railroad Administration had given authorization to proceed on nearly $4.3 billion in projects in these states within the first year. (ffd: AASHTO)

(THU) The Chicago Transit Authority, which has had to reduce transit service over the last year attendant with decreases in supporting state funding, nevertheless reported that its subway and elevated train ridership increased 4 percent to 210.8 million trips in 2010.  The CTA’s total bus, subway and elevated ridership decreased slightly, by 0.8 percent.  CTA noted that, in the last ten years, its subway and elevated ridership has increased by 19.6 percent and its total transit ridership has increased by 7.8 percent. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

(FRI) Amtrak announced that it would relocate out of Denver Union Station effective February 1 to allow for completion of a $484 million project to rebuild the station complex into a multimodal transportation facility.  Amtrak said that it will relocate its Denver stop to a site west of Coors Field in the downtown area.  Amtrak said that it would relocate back to Union Station upon completion of the rebuilding project in 2014. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

(FRI) Philadelphia commuter rail and transit operator SEPTA announced that it would borrow $427 million for capital projects.  These projects include $175 million to replace its present token-based system with an electronic farecard system, and $252 million to pay for 120 new self-propelled commuter rail cars and a necessary rebuilding of its 110-year-old Wayne Junction commuter rail car maintenance facility.  The $427 million is the largest debt burden the agency has ever taken on, but SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey said that the debt would not require an increase in fares. (ffd: Philadelphia Inquirer)

STATS – CLASS 1 RAIL TRAFFIC:

(THU) The Association of American Railroads reported that, for the week ending January 22, 2011 and ranked with the comparable week last year:

- U.S. carload rail traffic totaled 282,837 units, up 1.5 percent

- U.S. intermodal rail traffic totaled 213,206 units, up 6.2 percent

- Canadian carload rail traffic totaled 65,842 units, down 10.1 percent

- Canadian intermodal rail traffic totaled 45,659 units, up 3.2 percent

- Mexican carload rail traffic totaled 14,872 units, up 1.7 percent

- Mexican intermodal rail traffic totaled 6,460 units, down 2.6 percent

For the period January 1 through 22, 2011:

-U.S. carload rail traffic totaled 851,146 units, up 9.2 percents

-U.S. intermodal rail traffic totaled 640,357 units, up 6.8 percent

-Canadian carload rail traffic totaled 206,760 units, down 3.3 percent

-Canadian intermodal rail traffic totaled 132,902 units, up 1.3 percent

-Mexican carload rail traffic totaled 42,795 units, up 3.9 percent

-Mexican intermodal rail traffic totaled 19,469 units, down 0.1 percent

NOTE: Canadian counts include traffic from the U.S. operations of the two Canadian-based Class I railroads, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway.

STATS – FOURTH QUARTER 2010 AND FULL YEAR 2010 RESULTS:

(MON) For the Fourth Quarter 2010 and compared with the Fourth Quarter 2009, CSX reported:

-Revenues of $2.186 billion versus $2.320 billion earlier, an increase of 21 percent

-Operating income of $846 billion versus $579 million earlier, an increase of 46 percent

-Net income of $430 million versus $303 million earlier, an increase of 42 percent

- Operating ratio of 70.0 percent versus 75.0 percent earlier, an improvement of 5 percentage points

For the Full Year 2010 and compared with the Full Year 2009, CSX reported:

- Revenues of $10.636 billion versus $9.041 billion earlier, an increase of 18 percent

- Operating income of $3.071 billion versus $2.270 billion earlier, an increase of 35 percent

- Net income of $1.563 billion versus $1.143 billion earlier, an increase of 37 percent

- Operating ratio of 71.1 percent versus 74.9 percent earlier, an improvement of 3.8 percentage points

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(TUE) For the Fourth Quarter 2010 and compared with the Fourth Quarter 2009, Canadian National reported:

- Revenues of C$2.117 billion versus C$1.882 billion earlier, an increase of 12.5 percent

- Operating income of C$774 million versus C$653 million earlier, an increase of 18.5 percent

- Net income of C$503 million versus C$582 million earlier, a decrease of 13.6 percent (NOTE: This reflects the effects of a line sale and a deferred income tax recovery)

- Operating ratio of 63.4 percent versus 65.3 percent earlier, an improvement of 1.9 percentage points

For the Full Year 2010 and compared with the Full Year 2009, Canadian National reported:

- Revenues of C$8.297 billion versus C$7.367 billion earlier, an increase of 12.6 percent

- Operating income of C$3.024 billion versus C$2.406 billion earlier, an increase of 25.7 percent

- Net income of C$2.104 billion versus C$1.854 billion earlier, an increase of 13.5 percent

- Operating ratio of 63.6 percent versus 67.3 percent earlier, an improvement of 3.7 percentage points

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(TUE) For the Fourth Quarter 2010 and compared with the Fourth Quarter 2009, Norfolk Southern reported:

- Revenues of $2.392 billion versus $2.106 billion earlier, an increase of 13.6 percent

- Operating income of $642 billion versus $549 million earlier, an increase of 16.9 percent

- Net income of $402 million versus $307 million earlier, an increase of 30.9 percent

- Operating ratio of 73.2 percent versus 74.2 percent earlier, an improvement of 1 percentage point

For the Full Year 2010 and compared with the Full Year 2009, Norfolk Southern reported:

- Revenues of $9.516 billion versus $7.969 billion earlier, an increase of 19.4 percent

- Operating income of $2.676 billion versus $1.962 billion earlier, an increase of 36.4 percent

- Net income of $1.496 billion versus $1.034 billion earlier, an increase of 44.7 percent

- Operating ratio of 71.9 percent versus 76.9 percent earlier, an improvement of 5 percentage points

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(WED) For the Fourth Quarter 2010 and compared with the Fourth Quarter 2009, Canadian Pacific reported:

- Revenues of C$1.294 billion versus C$1.143 billion earlier, an increase of 13.2 percent

- Operating income of C$297 million versus C$167 million earlier, an increase of 77.8 percent

- Net income of C$186 million versus C$146 million earlier, an increase of 27.4 percent

- Operating ratio of 77.0 percent versus 80.6 percent earlier, an improvement of 3.6 percentage points

For the Full Year 2010 and compared with the Full Year 2009, Canadian Pacific reported:

- Revenues of C$4.981 billion versus C$4.402 billion earlier, an increase of 13.2 percent

- Operating income of C$1.116 billion versus C$830 million earlier, an increase of 34.4 percent

- Net income of C$651 million versus C$550 million earlier, an increase of 18.4 percent

- Operating ratio of 77.6 percent versus 81.7 percent earlier, an improvement of 4.1 percentage points

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(THU) For the Fourth Quarter 2010 and compared with the Fourth Quarter 2009, Kansas City Southern reported:

- Revenues of $479 million versus $407 million earlier, an increase of 17.7 percent

- Operating income of $135 million versus $92 million earlier, an increase of 46.8 percent

- Net income of $52 million versus $32 million earlier, an increase of 62.5 percent

- Operating ratio of 71.8 percent versus 77.3 percent earlier, an improvement of 5.5 percentage points

For the Full Year 2010 and compared with the Full Year 2009, Kansas City Southern reported:

- Revenues of $1.815 billion versus $1.480 billion earlier, an increase of 22.6 percent

- Operating income of $487 million versus $267 million earlier, an increase of 82.4 percent

- Net income of $169 million versus $56 million earlier, an increase of 201.7 percent

- Operating ratio of 73.2 percent versus 82.0 percent earlier, an improvement of 8.8 percentage  points

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NOTE: As it is now privately held – by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway firm – BNSF is no longer required by U.S. Security & Exchange Commission rules to publicly report detailed financial data.

EXPANSIONS, CONTRACTIONS AND ALIKE:

(MON) BNSF announced plans to build a multi-function rail terminal in Trenton, ND.  The new terminal, designated the Trenton Railport, will serve the Bakken Formation oil fields, also known as the Bakken Shale.  BNSF said that inbound traffic to the terminal will include piping and frac sand, and outbound traffic may include unit trains of crude oil. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

(TUE) The Cleveland Commercial Railroad said that it will reopen an industrial track serving several industries in Cleveland and Bedford, OH that had been overgrown with trees and vegetation, and largely forgotten about.  “We would go by on our line and not even have any idea it was there,” said a railroad spokesman.  The Ohio Rail Development Corporation said the previous week that it would contribute grants and loans to assist in the rehabilitation of the line. (ffd: Cleveland Plain Dealer, Trains)

APPOINTMENTS, ACHIEVEMENTS AND MILESTONES:

(MON) Florida East Coast Railway appointed Joel Haka its executive vice president and chief operating officer.  Mr. Baka’s career has focused in maritime operations, where he was earlier senior vice president of P&O Nedlloyd. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

(MON) Railway Age named Norfolk Southern CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman its Railroader Of The Year.  The magazine said that Mr. Moorman was recognized for reasons that include having provided “…the leadership that enabled Norfolk Southern to make great strides in areas that are critical to the future of the rail industry.” (ffd: Railway Age)

CORRECTIONS:

In the last edition, which was for the week ending January 21, I referred to new head of the House Railroad Subcommittee, but did not fully identify him.  He is Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA).

Also in the last edition, I referred to “Western Kentucky [having] filed to abandon all five of its remaining lines.”  This did not mean to refer to the state, but rather to the Western Kentucky Railway.

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WRR – 01-21-2011

WEEKLY RAIL REVIEW

FOR THE WEEK ENDING FRIDAY, JANUARY 21, 2011

THE WEEK’S TOP RAIL AND TRANSIT NEWS (in chronological order):

(TUE) U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said that he was confident a multi-year bill to reauthorize the nation’s surface transportation programs can be passed by Congress and signed into law by the August summer recess.  He and the Obama Administration have proposed a six-year reauthorization to the existing surface transportation law, which expired on September 30, 2009 and has been operating on a series of short-term extensions since then. (ffd: DC Velocity, Trains)

(TUE) Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the start renovations to St. Paul, MN’s historic Union Depot, which will become a regional transportation center.  Additional to the return of Amtrak passenger trains, the center will host local and intercity bus service, and a connection to the city’s Central Corridor light rail line currently under construction.  The project’s cost is estimated at $243 million and is expected to be complete by late 2012. (ffd: NARP, Trains)

(TUE) Amtrak announced that it will operate a commemorative passenger train to mark its 40th anniversary.  The train will consist of two renovated locomotives, three baggage cars, and a food service car.  The baggage cars will be turned into museum cars that will display exhibits of historic advertising, uniforms, photographs and other items.  Amtrak said that it would also mark the anniversary by repainting four locomotives in historical paint schemes. (ffd: Trains)

(WED) Union Pacific announced the results of a contest held to determine one of the routings of its seasonal steam-powered excursion train.  The winning route will see the train operating from Kansas City through St. Louis and on to Little Rock.  A UP spokesman said that the date of the excursion on that route would be announced sometime in the coming weeks. (ffd: UP RR)

(THU) On the occasion of announcing Union Pacific’s quarterly and annual financial results, UP CEO James Young said that he and other U.S. rail industry leaders would meet the last full week of January at the White House with Austan Goolsbee, chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.  Mr. Young said that meeting follows Mr. Obama’s executive order for a review of new or pending regulations that may harm U.S. job growth.  Mr. Young added that he and other rail industry officials “are looking forward to the discussion [about] the impact of regulation on our industry.” (ffd: Journal of Commerce)

(THU) The new head of the House Railroad Subcommittee announced his intention to hold hearings on the nation’s high-speed passenger rail program to gain information from the Federal Railroad Administration on the criteria they used in selecting projects.  Mr. Shuster commented that he felt that FRA had been unresponsive to requests for information on how the applications for high-speed rail grant money were evaluated, and promised “aggressive” oversight of the program. (ffd: NARP)

(THU) The Federal Railroad Administration released guidance documents designed to help state and local governments reduce grade crossing and trespasser incidents, and to improve pedestrian safety near train stations.  Required by the federal Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the documents offer strategies on expanded community outreach, additional law enforcement action and warning device installations. (ffd: FRA, Progressive Railroading)

(FRI) The National Association of Railroad Passengers reported that a House Republican Study Committee report proposes Amtrak’s entire annual federal grant of $1.56 billion for elimination and further suggests completely doing away with the high-speed passenger rail program.  NARP said that Democrats had not yet responded to the proposal, “but given their control of the Senate, and White House support of many of the programs that face elimination – Amtrak and high-speed rail included – the proposals look to be in no danger of being enacted.” (ffd: NARP)

STATS – CLASS 1 RAIL TRAFFIC:

(THU) For the week ending January 15, 2011 and ranked with the comparable week last year, U.S. carload rail traffic totaled 282,987 units, up 7.5 percent.  Notable traffic increases included metallic ores up 119.2 percent and metals and metal products up 17.9 percent; notable traffic decreases included waste and nonferrous scrap down 20.2 percent and primary forest products down 15.2 percent.  Also for the week, U.S. intermodal rail traffic was up 5.8 percent, Canadian carload rail traffic was down 4.4 percent, Canadian intermodal rail traffic was down 2.8 percent, Mexican carload rail traffic was up 11.2 percent, and Mexican intermodal rail traffic was down 0.4 percent.

For the period January 1 through January 15, 2011 and ranked with the comparable period last year, U.S. carload rail traffic was up 13.5 percent, U.S. intermodal rail traffic was up 7.2 percent, Canadian carload rail traffic was up 0.3 percent, Canadian intermodal rail traffic was up 0.3 percent, Mexican carload rail traffic was up 5.1 percent, and Mexican intermodal rail traffic was up 1.1 percent.

(NOTE: Canadian counts include traffic from the U.S. operations of the two Canadian-based Class I railroads, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway.)

STATS – FOURTH QUARTER 2010 AND FULL YEAR 2010 RESULTS:

(THU) Union Pacific became the first Class I railroad to announce quarterly and annual results, for a year its CEO said was “the most profitable in the railroad’s nearly 150-year history.”

For the Fourth Quarter 2010 and compared with the Fourth Quarter 2009, UP reported:

- Revenues of $4.410 billion versus $3.754 billion earlier, an increase of 17 percent

- Operating income of $1.313 billion versus $999 million earlier, an increase of 31 percent

- Net income of $775 million versus $549 million earlier, an increase of 41 percent

- Operating ratio of 70.2 percent versus 73.4 percent earlier, an improvement of 3.2 points

For the Full Year 2010 and compared with the Full Year 2009, UP reported:

- Revenues of $16.965 billion versus $14.143 billion earlier, an increase of 20 percent

- Operating income of $4.981 billion versus $3.379 billion earlier, an increase of 47 percent

- Net income of $2.780 billion versus $1.890 billion earlier, an increase of 47 percent

- Operating income of 70.6 percent versus 76.1 percent earlier, an improvement of 5.5 points

EXPANSIONS, CONTRACTIONS AND ALIKE:

(WED) The California Transportation Commission gave final approval for Santa Cruz County to purchase Union Pacific’s 32-mile Santa Cruz Branch.  The purchase will consist of $14.2 million paid to Union Pacific plus $650,000 in related acquisition costs.  Funds for the purchase were made possible by Proposition 116, a transportation funding program passed by California voters in 1999. (ffd: Santa Cruz Sentinel, Trains)

(WED) The Surface Transportation Board granted CSX’s earlier filing to abandon approximately three miles of its Southern Region-Florence Division-Hamlet Subdivision, a line located in Chesterfield and Darlington Counties, SC. (ffd: STB)

(THU) Western Kentucky filed to abandon all five of its remaining lines, totaling approximately 43 miles, in Wester, Union, Caldwell, and Crittenden Counties, KY. (ffd: STB)

APPOINTMENTS, ACHIEVEMENTS AND MILESTONES:

(FRI) Richard Sarles was appointed general manager and CEO of Washington, DC’s Metro bus and subway system.  Mr. Sarles had been serving as its interim general manager, following the resignation several months back of John Catoe, and was earlier with head of new Jersey Transit. (ffd: WTOP News)

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WRR – 01-14-2011

WEEKLY RAIL REVIEW

FOR THE WEEK ENDING FRIDAY, JANUARY 14, 2011

THE WEEK’S TOP RAIL AND TRANSIT NEWS (in chronological order):

(MON) The Federal Railroad Administration released model legislative proposals for use in developing state legislation to improve safety at grade crossings without active warning systems.  The proposals are especially intended to help states address obstructions that restrict a driver’s view of an oncoming train.  The FRA said that 29 states currently do not have laws or regulations covering such obstructions. (ffd: FRA)

(MON) Canadian National debuted what it said was the first environmentally-friendly container chassis in North America.  A CN spokesman said that the new chassis, known as EcoRide, was designed with features that may allow fuel use reductions of between eight and ten percent. (ffd: CN RR)

(TUE) America 2050, a national transportation initiative group, released a report identifying the regional corridors that could attract the most ridership as a result of improved passenger rail services.  In order of greatest potential demand, the corridors are New York-Washington; Chicago-Milwaukee; Los Angeles-San Diego; Tampa-Miami via Orlando; Atlanta-Birmingham; Portland-Seattle; and Denver, CO-Pueblo, NM. (ffd: NARP)

(TUE) A winter snowstorm worked its way up the U.S. East Coast, intensifying as it moved northward.  The snow caused BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern to warn customers in the southeastern and northeastern states that their shipments could be delayed from 24 to 48 hours.  When the storm reached New York and New England on Wednesday, Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road curtailed some train services and Amtrak canceled trains on its Northeast Corridor Line between New York and Boston, and between New Haven and Springfield.  Amtrak restored service on these lines on Thursday. (ffd: Trains, wire services)

(TUE) The Surface Transportation Board announced that it would hold a public hearing in Washington, DC on May 3 on the current state of rail competition.  The STB said that the hearing would serve as a public forum to discuss rail access and competition, and identify any measures it should consider to modify its competitive access rules and policies. (ffd: Railway Age, STB)

(WED) Texas’s Sunset Advisory Commission, which advises the state of possible bureaucratic redundancies, has recommended to the state legislature that the Texas Railroad Commission’s name be changed to the Texas Oil & Gas Commission.  The advisory commission said that this change will recognize that the Railroad Commission no longer has anything to do with railroads but instead regulates the oil and gas industries in Texas. (ffd: San Antonio Express-News)

(THU) In an interview, new House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) said that he hopes to advance several initiatives that would help shift more truck traffic to rail.  “My goal would be to get more trucks off of the highway, and more cars off of the highway,” said Mr. Mica.  He also said that he hoped to use the federal Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program to fund more rail projects with its $34 billion in still-unused loan authority, and that he would also like to privatize Amtrak’s AutoTrain so that this service that hauls passengers with their automobiles could be greatly expanded and perhaps broadened to include commercial trucks. (ffd: Journal of Commerce)

(THU) Canadian Pacific announced that it would undertake capital projects this year totaling up to C$1.05 billion.  Among these projects will be C$680 million for basic track infrastructure renewal and $80 million to improve its information systems. (ffd: CP RR)

(THU) The Pittsburgh Port Authority approved a 15 percent cut in Pittsburgh area transit service to address a projected operating deficit.  The 15 percent cut was a substitute for an earlier planned 35 percent cut that was helped by $45 million in emergency funding arranged by outgoing Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.  A PAT spokesman said that the cut will result in the elimination of 29 transit routes and the lessening of weekday service on 47 others. (ffd: RT&S)

(FRI) The Canadian Auto Workers union has approved strike actions against the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific.  The CAW set a strike date of January 25 for CN and February 8 for CPR, if a new contract with each railroad cannot be agreed upon.  The strikes would impact only these railroads’ Canadian operations, although there would likely be some ripple effect on their U.S. operations.  A CPR spokesman said they had 1,200 management employees standing by to protect service should their railroad be struck. (ffd: Wall Street Journal)

(FRI) Amtrak, Union Pacific, and the Illinois Department of Transportation announced agreement on the framework for operating passenger trains up to 110mph on the line between Chicago and St. Louis.  When completed as a result of $1.1 billion in mainly federally funded improvements, the fastest passenger train trip between the two cities will be 4 hours, 10 minutes – about a 30 percent reduction in the current fastest train time and faster than an automobile traveling non-stop at the legal speed limit.  The agreement contain fewer potential penalties for UP than draft guidelines for such agreements issued by the Federal Railroad Administration eight months ago, guidelines that were eventually rescinded by the FRA. (ffd: State Journal-Register, NARP)

(FRI) Miami, FL commuter rail operator Tri-Rail said that it would begin installing a new automated fare system called the Easy Card.  The system will allow passengers to load value onto ATM-type cards.  Miami transit operator Miami-Dade Transit began using the Easy Card in 2009. (ffd: Sun-Sentinel)

(FRI) Washington, DC’s Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced that it would accelerate capital improvement projects on its Metrorail subway system.  A WMATA spokesman said that scheduled track projects would now be completed by round-the-clock work, with some service shutdowns during weekends.  WMATA is spending $5 billion over the next six years on subway system safety and repair needs. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

(FRI) The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced that their 2010 volume increased 16 percent over 2009, totaling 7.8 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs).  Exports through the ports rose 10.3 percent to 1.84 million TEUs, surpassing the ports’ previous export record of 1.78 million TEUs set in 2008.  Imports increased 12.8 percent to just slightly less than 4 million TEUs.  The ports are the U.S.’s busiest intermodal port gateway. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

STATS – CLASS 1 RAIL TRAFFIC:

(THU) For the first week of 2011 and comparing with the first week of 2010, U.S. carload rail traffic totaled 285,108 units, up 20.1 percent.  Notable traffic increases included metallic ores up 55.7 percent and crushed stone, sand and gravel up 54.3 percent; notable traffic decreases include waste and nonferrous scrap down 9.5 percent and nonmetallic minerals down 8.9 percent.  Also for the week, U.S. intermodal rail traffic was up 8.6 percent, Canadian carload rail traffic was up 5.4 percent, Canadian intermodal rail traffic was up 3.4 percent, Mexican carload rail traffic was down 1.1 percent, and Mexican intermodal rail traffic was up 2.9 percent.

(NOTE: Canadian counts include traffic from the U.S. operations of the two Canadian-based Class I railroads, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway.)

EXPANSIONS, CONTRACTIONS AND ALIKE:

(WED) BNSF filed to abandon approximately 18 miles of line between Bisbee, ND and Rolla, ND. (ffd: STB)

(FRI) The State of Maine took ownership of 233 miles of lines that had been posted for abandonment by the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway last year.  Maine paid $19.1 million for the lines, which was gained from several public funding sources.  The state is now considering new operators for the lines. (ffd: Journal-Tribune, Trains)

APPOINTMENTS, ACHIEVEMENTS AND MILESTONES:

(MON) Kansas City Southern appointed Michael Schuler as general director of sales operations.  Mr. Schuler heads a new group formed to support KCS sales teams in the U.S. and Mexico. (ffd: KCS Railway)

Austin, TX’s Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority appointed Melvin Clark its vice-president of rail operations.  Mr. Clark was most recently with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. (ffd: Progressive Railroading)

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