M a r c h 2 01 8
w w w. r a i lwaya g e .c o m
AILWAY GE S e r v i n g t h e r a i lway i n d u s t r y s i n c e 1 8 5 6
From excepted track to exceptional short line
Railway REGIONAL OF THE YEAR Indiana Rail Road
Crosstie Choices Expand railwayage.com
August 2017 // Railway Age 1
AUGUST2018 MARCH 2017
Short Line of the Year
Regional of the Year
30 38 42
Exceptional Lake State Railway
INRD builds new business
M/W Focus: Crossties Wood, concrete and much more
Passenger Rail TTC’s Vaughan extension opens
Tech Focus: Geospatial Mapping for high-speed rail
DEPARTMENTS 4 6 8 46 46 46 47 49 50 51
Industry Indicators Industry Outlook Market People 100 Years Ago Meetings Products Advertising Index Professional Directory Classified
NEWS/COLUMNS 2 10 18 20 52
From the Editor Update Watching Washington Perspective Financial Edge
On the Cover: Michigan’s Lake State Railway is a short line success. Photo: Lake State Railway /Kevin Burkholder
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March 2018 // Railway Age 1
FROM THE EDITOR
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Enlightened Leadership in DC
o, I’m not referring to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or the Halls of Congress or the Capitol Building. I’m referring to 1200 New Jersey Avenue Southeast, headquarters of the United States Department of Transportation. While U.S. President Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports—a move that, if enacted, will do grotesque things to the domestic railcar and component market (p. 52)—and Russian President Vladimir Putin—who was, is and always will be in his cold, calculating heart just another KGB thug who pines for the good old days of the Cold War—showed video simulations of nuclear warheads propelled by “invincible” intercontinental ballistic missles raining destruction and death on a place that looks a lot like the area of Florida where Mara Lago is located, two experienced, highly respected railroaders stood in the same room at the USDOT. One of them had months before taken the oath as Administrator of PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration). The other had just been released from virtual political prison by the Senate Minority Leader and was being sworn in as Federal Railroad Administrator. You know them both. The former is Howard “Skip” Elliot, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. freight rail industry. Skip served during the past decade as Group Vice President of Public Safety, Health,
Environment and Security for CSX Transportation. The latter is Ron Batory, a 47-year career railroader who most recently served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Conrail. He took the oath as FRA Administrator on Feb. 28 (p. 10). In a place where what you know and how qualified you are for a particular job isn’t nearly as important as who you know and how big your wallet is, the fact that not one, but two highly qualified railroaders who have spent their careers doing something they love are running federal agencies with direct jurisdiction over railroads is, in my mind, a blessing. For those of you, myself included, who have been cringing at the goings-on in Washington D.C. and who have been hoping for at least something to go right, Skip’s and Ron’s appointments are proofpositive that enlightened leadership is not an impossible dream. I’ll leave you with a quote from our new Federal Railroad Administrator: “I’ve always sought constructive change. You cannot fear failure. If you do, it becomes a lock on a door that keeps you from entering the unknown side of creative innovation.” Both these men have their work cut out for them. And both of them know that nothing worth doing comes easy.
WILLIAM C. VANTUONO Editor-in-Chief
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Industry Indicators Economic Resurgence Only Trickling Down to Rail Freight Monthly carload data continued to trend lower as total traffic was weaker compared to January 2017. While individual commodity gainers and decliners were evenly split for the month, the high-volume categories were either down substantially (coal, grain, motor vehicles), or turned in essentially flat or modest gains (chemicals, sand and gravel). Despite a resurgent American economy coupled with spiraling diesel gas prices and tight trucking capacity, intermodal shipments could only post a narrow increase following the end-of-year retail season. Trailers continued to roll on double-digit improvement that was more than triple the increase of containers alone.
Railroad employment, Class I linehaul carriers, JAN. 2018 (% change from JAN. 2017)
Total employees: 144,329 % change from JAN. 2017: -2.76
Transportation (train and engine) 59,684 (2.83%)
TRAFFIC ORIGINATED CARLOADS
FIVE WEEKS ENDING FEB. 3, 2018
MAJOR U.S. RAILROADS by Commodity
Grain Farm Products ex. Grain Grain Mill Products Food products Chemicals Petroleum & Petroleum Products Coal Primary Forest Products Lumber and Wood Products Pulp and Paper Products Metallic Ores Coke Primary Metal Products Iron and Steel Scrap Motor Vehicles and Parts Crushed Stone, Sand, and Gravel Nonmetallic Minerals Stone, Clay & Glass Products Waste & Nonferrous Scrap All Other Carloads
112,083 4,692 44,432 28,053 154,382 53,508 404,887 5,632 15,782 28,436 20,514 20,718 43,021 17,118 74,309 95,616 144,141 31,051 16,178 29,519
199,277 4,204 46,482 29,591 153,562 50,312 429,970 5,738 14,615 28,116 19,814 21,118 44,849 17,832 82,681 92,118 143,761 30,680 18,479 29,712
-5.0% 11.6% -4.4% -5.2% 0.5% 6.4% -5.8% -1.8% 8.0% 1.1% 3.5% -1.9% -4.1% -4.0% -10.1% 3.8% 0.3% 1.2% -12.5% 6.7%
Total U.S. CarLoadS
Executives, Officials, and Staff Assistants 7,830 (-13.73%)
Professional and Administrative 12,538 (-4.94%)
COMBINED U.S./CANADA RR
Maintenance-of-Way and Structures 32,132 (-5.98%) Maintenance of Equipment and Stores 26,564 (-5.24%) Transportation (other than train & engine) 5,581 (-5.58%) Source: Surface Transportation Board
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? In the Wall Street-spurred rush to run lean and mean, are railroads taking their collective eye off of the operational ball? A spate of incidents at CSX has put Precision Scheduled Railroading in the spotlight—the latest a head-on collision involving Amtrak’s Silver Star and a tied-down CSX freight that killed two Amtrak crewmen—and questions are being asked about the effect industry-wide on safety of continued job-cutting. Only Transportation (Train & Engine) showed a year-on-year gain in January employment.
4 Railway Age // March 2018
FIVE WEEKS ENDING FEB. 3, 2018
MAJOR U.S. RAILROADS by Commodity Trailers Containers TOTAL UNITS
117,974 1,192,167 1,310,141
106,996 1,158,962 1,265,958
10.3% 2.9% 3.5%
4,506 314,996 319,502
4,859 299,486 304,345
-7.3% 5.2% 5.0%
CANADIAN RAILROADS Trailers Containers TOTAL UNITS
COMBINED U.S./CANADA RR Trailers Containers
TOTAL COMBINED UNITS
Source: Monthly Railroad Traffic, Association of American Railroads
TOTAL U.S. AND CANADIAN CARLOADS, JAN. 2018 VS. 2017
1,593,098 JAN. 2018
1,645,183 JAN. 2017
Short Line And Regional Traffic Index CARLOADS
ORIGINATED JAN. ’18
ORIGINATED JAN. ’17
45,417 22,523 24,816 10,932 25,371 5,889 8,282 2,471 15,650 8,360 1,536 1,973 16,417 36,263 8,753 82,615
42,236 20,688 18,851 10.440 26,281 5,671 7,381 2,849 13,756 7,813 1,797 1,828 16,005 52,091 8,595 77,610
7.5% 8.9% 31.6% 4.7% -3.5% 3.8% 12.2% -13.3% 13.8% 7.0% -14.5% 7.9% 2.6% -30.4% 1.8% 6.4%
Chemicals Coal Crushed Stone / Sand / Gravel Food and Kindred Products Grain Grain Mill Products Lumber and Wood Products Metallic Ores Metals and Products Motor Vehicles and Equipment Nonmetallic Minerals Petroleum Products Pulp, Paper and Allied Products Trailers / Containers Waste and Scrap Materials All Other Carloads
Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved.
average weekly U.S. Rail Carloads: all commodities (not seasonally adjusted)
ARE YOU A RAILROAD OR SUPPLIER SEARCHING FOR JOB CANDIDATES?
280,000 270,000 260,000
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Data are average weekly originations for each month, are not seasonally adjusted, do not include intermodal, and do not include the U.S. operations of CN and CP. Source: AAR
Visit http://bit.ly/railjobs To place a job posting, contact: Jeanine Acquart 212-620-7211 firstname.lastname@example.org March 2018 // Railway Age 5 RA_JobBoard_1/3Vertical.indd 1
8/17/17 10:59 AM
Industry Outlook STB Modifies Ex Parte Rules
Metra to Buy Amtrak Locomotives Chicago’s commuter rail agency is bargain-hunting as it looks to buy used locomotives to help bolster its fleet of commuter motive power. Metra directors in February authorized negotiations to purchase as many as 21 locomotives at a cost of $1.3 million each that were most recently used by Amtrak in California and on other West Coast lines. Metra is also seeking proposals from manufacturers for new locomotives, for delivery in late 2020. The agency in a 2017 Request for Proposals specified a base order of 10 units “plus as many more as possible.” Metra Chairman Norm Carlson was quoted in local reports as saying the price for the power “is wonderful. With a relatively small investment, we can reduce operating costs and emissions.” The F59 locomotives deployed by Amtrak were built by General Motors in 1998 and rehabbed in the past five years. They are also 10-25% more fuel efficient than Metra’s older power. The Amtrak locomotives, Metra noted, would not replace the Chicago-based fleet but would supplement it and reduce delays. Typically, 10 to 12 units are out of service for overhaul, while five are in for installation of 6 Railway Age // March 2018
Positive Train Control equipment. While the Board will decide on financing later this year, Metra has set aside about $15 million from cumulative fare increases that could be applied to the purchases, which would total about $27 million. Other options also include borrowing money or using federal grants. The new, cleaner-running power will begin to replace older diesels serving Chicago Union Station. One of seven mostly commuter lines to operate the F59PH, Amtrak rosters an active fleet of approximately 36 locomotives across its services; 15 of those are owned by California operator Caltrans. Built by then-GM subsidiary ElectroMotive Division, the four-axle units are rated at 3,200 hp with a listed top speed of 11 0 mph. The model was originally designed for Amtrak’s California intercity services, with full production beginning in 1994. It differs from the earlier F59PH first constructed for Toronto’s GO Transit commuter lines with the addition of a streamlined cab, and was the first locomotive to meet California’s emissions standards. Metra operates three F59PH locos on its Milwaukee District and Heritage Corridor.
THE STB has updated its long-standing rules on ex parte communications. The modified regulations will permit ex parte communications, subject to disclosure requirements, in informal rulemaking proceedings, and also clarify when and how interested persons may communicate informally with the Board regarding pending proceedings other than rulemakings. In advance of adopting these final rules, the Board issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Sept. 28, 2017, and asked for public comment. The Board’s final rule addresses comments and suggestions received in response to the NPRM and discusses clarifications and modifications adopted in the final rule. Among other things, the final rule: • Permits ex parte communications without restrictions, such as disclosure and timing requirements, in informal rulemaking proceedings up until the Board issues an NPRM. • Allows for ex parte communications with Board Members in informal rulemaking proceedings after the issuance of an NPRM and up until 20 days before the deadline for reply comments, subject to disclosure requirements. • Clarifies that ex parte prohibitions in on-the-record proceedings and informal rulemaking proceedings remain in effect until the proceeding is no longer subject to administrative reconsideration or judicial review. • Establishes that, when disclosure is required, the Board will post meeting summaries within five days of submission of a summary (rather than seven days as proposed in the NPRM). The final rule will apply to proceedings initiated as of April 4, 2018. The Board, however, said that it “may continue to waive the existing prohibition on ex parte communications in pending informal rulemaking proceedings on a case-by-case basis, as it has recently done.” railwayage.com
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Market GE, Ukraine in $1B locomotive deal GE Transportation has signed a $1 billion framework agreement with Ukrainian Railways for supply of 30 TE33A Evolution Series freight locomotives, additional locomotive kits over 10 years, rehabilitation of locomotives in the railway’s legacy fleet, and long-term maintenance services. The agreement, the largest ever for GE in the Ukraine, “marks a major milestone in the country’s efforts to modernize its transportation infrastructure and strengthen its position as a key European rail hub and trade corridor,” GE said. The TE33A, delivering up to 4,562 hp, is derived from GE’s successful Evolution Series locomotive technology.
WORLDWIDE Spanish rolling stock manufacturer Talgo signed new orders worth $700 million in 2017, the highest figure since 2011 as the company’s order backlog reached $2.8 billion. Talgo reported a net turnover of $384.4 million in 2017, which compared with $579.8 million in 2016. The manufacturer says this decline is the result of the natural execution of its primary manufacturing projects, in particular the transition from the completion of the Saudi Arabian Mecca-Medina project to the Renfe Avril high-speed project, which is currently in its
initial design and engineering phase, with manufacturing expected to begin in 2018. The turnover result was offset by improvements in the company’s operating margins, which stood at 23% of adjusted EBITDA of $87.6 million in 2017. Adjusted net profit reached $42.8 million while strong cash flow of $188 million helped to reduce the company’s debt to $30 million.
NORTH AMERICA Central Maine & Quebec Railway is one of the first Class II or III railroads in the U.S. or Canada to tap into the secondary locomotive market for used GE Transportation AC44CWs. CMQ has long-term-leased a pair of CIT Financial-owned GE Transportation AC4400CWs. Formerly CEFX 1002 and 1006, the units have been completely overhauled with many components replaced or rebuilt by the CAD Railway Industries shops in Lachine, Quebec. Plans call for the two high-horsepower locomotives to enter service on the trans-border carrier in March 2018. Biarri Rail, a Victoria, Australia-based global provider of planning and scheduling
8 Railway Age // March 2018
software for freight railroads, has landed a major North American contract with Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) for Boss MP Loco, its cloud-based locomotive master planning software. The company has a U.S. office in Chicago. Montreal’s futuristic, for-profit passenger railway system, Réseau express métropolitain (REM), moved from concept to concrete Feb. 8 with the award of C$6.3 billion of construction contracts by its owner-operator, Caisse de dépot et placement, Quebec’s public pension fund. Track, catenary and station construction work goes to Groupe NouvLR, consisting of SNC Lavalin, Dragados Canada, Groupe Aecon, Pomerleau, and EBC. Trainsets and automated operating systems will be provided by Alstom Transport Canada and SNC Lavalin. The winning consortia have two months to align their proposals in preparation for groundbreaking in April of this year. The complete system is scheduled to be ready for testing by the end of 2020, with revenue service planned to get under way starting in the summer of 2022. railwayage.com
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batory sworn in at FRA
eonald L. Batory officially became the 14th United States Federal Railroad Administrator on February 28, 2018. In the presence of his family, and numerous colleagues he has known throughout his 47-year career as a railroader, Batory was sworn in by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
In remarks following his swearing in, Batory described his railroad career as “my living dream.” “Rail safety is first and foremost,” he said. “Its practice is non-compromising and nonnegotiable. Safety is embedded into our lives. It is the keystone of the railroad industry. Railroading is not unsafe, as you know, yet you can never assume. One mistake can be your last. Reducing and eliminating risk is paramount toward enhancing safety.” Batory referred to a new public awareness safety campaign launched by the FRA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Safety reaches beyond railroad rights-of-way. Increasing public awareness is necessary, so people will make better decisions around crossings and tracks,” he said. “Throughout my tenure at the FRA, increasing public awareness on rail safety will be a consistent priority of 10 Railway Age // March 2018
mine—not unlike that of my career in the private sector.” Batory went on to talk about how “safety and creative innovation” can be coupled by “transformative technologies” such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. “Economic growth can be propelled by fact-based, data-driven analysis and decision-making,” he said. “Without facts, it’s just another opinion.” “Imagine safety instilled in a culture of zero tolerance, combined with the use of developing technology,” Batory said. “This combination of culture and applied sciences can be the key ingredient toward developing safe, smart, sustainable infrastructure. How much one builds or spends on infrastructure is not nearly as important as to how wisely we exercise those actions.” “I’ve always sought constructive change,” Batory concluded. “You cannot fear failure. If you do, it becomes a lock on a door that keeps you from entering the unknown side of creative innovation.” As Administrator, Batory is responsible for managing the agency’s regulatory oversight of more than 800 railroads, including enforcement of safety laws and regulations. “He will provide leadership and direction for FRA-administered financial assistance
programs and national freight and passenger rail policy, as well as research and development activities that support improved railroad safety, efficiency and reliability,” FRA said. Batory’s assuming the role of the nation’s chief railroad safety officer occurred about eight months after he was nominated. He was confirmed on Feb. 13, after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) finally removed a hold on a Batory confirmation vote—a hold put in place this past summer in an attempt to force the DOT to release federal funds for Amtrak’s Gateway rail tunnel project under the Hudson River.
I’ve always sought constructive change. you cannot fear failure .” railwayage.com
Update Railcar Demand “Relatively Stable”: Peter Toja weakening environment of grain, motor vehicles and petroleum coming into 2018,” Toja said. “We now look for 2.9% growth in commodity haulings this year and an expansion of 2.6%% in 2019. From 2020 through 2022, commodity haulings will advance 2.0-2.5% per year.” In 2017, intermodal developments advanced 3.9%, as container traffic grew 3.5% and truck intermodal volume jumped a healthy 7.6%. “This year, we expect intermodal haulings to increase 4.5% as our economy and foreign trade strengthen, followed by another 4.5%
expansion next year,” Toja pointed out. “From 2020 through 2022, we look for an average annual growth rate of between 4.0% and 4.3% per year.” “Strength in covered hoppers, intermodal equipment, tank cars and mill gondolas will offset weaknesses in coal cars and boxcars,” said Toja. “Accordingly, we are raising our 2018 overall railcar deliveries estimate from 46,250 cars to 49,750 cars. We are also increasing our 2019 deliveries from 49,500 cars to 51,000 cars next year. Longer term, we anticipate steady annual growth to 59,500 cars in 2022.”
William C. Vantuono
Despite a significant slowing in commodity traffic during the second half of last year, demand for freightrailcars was relatively stable in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the most recent freight car market report from Economic Planning Associates. After 8,671 railcars were ordered in the third quarter of 2017, orders for 8,501 railcars were placed in the fourth quarter. “However, deliveries accelerated in the fourth quarter, and with about 1,000 cars dropped from the backlogs, carbuilders are entering 2018 with only 4.3 quarters of assemblies at current production rates,” noted EPA principal Peter Toja. “Nonetheless, we anticipate an expansion in demand for a number of railcars this year and next that will bolster backlogs once again, especially as the economic environment strengthens and regulatory restrictions ease,” Toja noted. After a strong first half, railroad commodity traffic slowed significantly in the second half of last year. While commodity movements were up 6.4% through July, total-year haulings were up only 2.9 %. “Disappointing second-half rail movements were reported for grain, grain mill products, nonmetallic minerals, and light vehicles,” Toja noted. “At the same time, after a robust first half, coal traffic moderated in the second half. Nonetheless, the 2017 gain in loadings was a pleasant experience, compared to the declines registered in 2015 and 2016” “We anticipate that continued strength in coal, aggregates, metallic minerals and primary metal products will offset the
March 2018 // Railway Age 11
Update BNSF Yard Project Headed to California Supreme Court
The California Supreme Court will hear an appeal in the case of BNSF Railway’s proposed $500 million Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) rail yard, an intermodal project decades in the making. The SCIG will create a railhead for container traffic in Wilmington, just four miles from the Port of Los Angeles, rather than boxes having to be drayed 24 miles on local roads and the 710 freeway to downtown rail facilities. BNSF has said SCIG will allow 1.5 million more containers to move by more efficient and environmentally preferred rail through the Alameda Corridor
12 Railway Age // March 2018
each year, significantly reducing truck traffic congestion in Southern California, while also creating jobs. But the city of Long Beach, air pollution regulators, environmentalists and neighbors objected, contending in lawsuits filed in 2013 that the 185-acre yard would actually make air quality worse. They want further work done on the environmental reports needed for approval, which the city of Los Angeles granted in 2013. Long Beach and other parties that sued to stop the yard want to take their case to the state Supreme Court, which in the past has
taken a close look at California’s strict environmental laws. The facility is expected to host 5,500 trucks and eight trains a day in round-theclock operations. The project seemed to grind to a halt in 2016, when a Superior Court judge ordered Los Angeles to set aside its environmental analysis and proposed 50-year lease. But a California appellate court in January overruled that decision and gave both sides a partial victory. The three-judge panel found the environmental reporting required under the California Environmental Quality Act was met by BNSF, except for how air pollution concentrations were determined. That could force the railroad to revise its analysis, but freed BNSF of expensive pollution offset requirements. Both the port and BNSF said they were pleased with the latest ruling, without offering further comment. Opponents are taking issue with claims by the port and BNSF that SCIG would take trucks off the 710 freeway, a route they currently travel to the railroad’s intermodal yard in Hobart. They argue that a second yard would actually add more dieselpowered, polluting trucks on the freeway. They want the Supreme Court to reconsider the appeals court decision, as well as how traffic and noise are assessed.
Update Buffalo Light Rail Pact to WSP The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority board has authorized the award of a $4.8 million contract to WSP USA for environmental review and engineering design services on the first phase of the seven-mile extension of the Buffalo light rail network to Amherst. Following the completion on an analysis of transit options for the Amherst corridor in 2017, a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) was selected for an extension of the existing 6.4-mile Buffalo Metro Rail line from its current northern terminus at University of Buffalo South Campus to University North Campus. The extension would follow an underground alignment from University station to a portal near Eggert Road, continuing at-grade along Niagara Falls Boulevard to Maple Road and Sweet Home Road before reaching University North Campus. The extension is expected to reduce travel time between the north and south campuses
of the University of Buffalo to around 17 minutes. Phase 2 would extend the line to a terminus near Interstate Highway 990 at Audubon Parkway. In January 2017, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved the allocation of $5 million
in state funding through the Buffalo Billion II program to complete the environmental review for the Amherst extension, which is expected to boost Buffalo Metro Rail ridership from 20,000 passengers per day to more than 40,000 per day by 2035.
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March 2018 // Railway Age 13
Update NJ Transit OKs New Light Rail Route
NJ Transit has chosen a route for the expansion of its light rail network that will enable the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system to finally live up to its name. In a unanimous vote, the agency’s board of directors approved the proposed alignment of the HBLR for the first time into Bergen County. Since opening in 2000, operations have been limited to Hudson County.
RTandS-TRACK-AD-Full-page-horizontal-02-26-18-A.indd 14 Railway Age // March 2018
Original cost estimates were $800 million to $900 million. No details were provided on a source of funding. The vote approves selection of the “Locally Preferred Alternative” required to complete the federal environmental review process. It also authorizes the submission of the new route to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Board of Trustees for
inclusion in their Long-Range Regional Transportation Plan. The action also enables NJT to begin design and engineering activities when the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision from the Federal Transit Administration is completed. The agency gave no timeline for that. The selected route consists of a 10-mile two-track extension from its current terminus at Tonnelle Avenue in Jersey City north to the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, generally along CSX Transportation’s Northern Branch running track. Plans include construction of seven stations, in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and three in Englewood, along with parking for more than 2,700 vehicles. Service is proposed to operate from 5-10 a.m., on six-minute headways during the peak period and 15-minute headways offpeak. NJT estimates average weekday daily ridership of 12,370 passengers by 2030.
Update First LRV Delivered for Oklahoma City Streetcar The first LRV for the Oklahoma City Streetcar project arrived in the city on February 13 after completing a 1,200-mile truck journey from Brookville, Pa. Brookville Equipment Corporation is supplying seven bi-directional Liberty LRVs, which are equipped with batteries for offcatenary operation. Each three-section vehicle will accommodate 104 passengers. The $131 million network is due to open in December and will comprise two loop lines. Line 1 will be a 50-mile north-south loop connecting Bricktown and the business district with Automobile Alley and St. Anthony Hospital Campus. Line 2 will form a two-mile east-west loop linking Bricktown with Chesapeake Energy Arena and Cox Convention Center. Herzog Transit Services will operate the network under a six-year contract.
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Caltrain PTC Job to Wabtec
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Caltrain is trading long-delayed CBOSS (Communications Based Overlay Signal System) for a different version of PTC on its commuter rail corridor between San Francisco and San Jose. The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board of Directors was expected to award a contract to Wabtec Railway Electronics, Inc. at its March 1 meeting to complete a federally mandated safety upgrade to install positive train control (PTC) on the corridor’s signal system. Caltrain said PTC implementation “will enable the corridor to operate with enhanced safety features that will monitor train movements and reduce the possibility of safety risks caused by human error.” Caltrain originally awarded a contract to Parsons Transportation Group to complete work on CBOSS in 2011, but the commuter rail agency terminated the contract, citing “non-performance in 2017 after many months of delay and repeated failure by the contractor to correct performance issues.” In addition to contract termination, Caltrain said it will be taking all actions necessary, including litigation, “to secure the benefit of the contract with Parsons and access to the Performance Bond to pay for costs associated with procuring a new system integrator and completing the CBOSS project.” The transportation authority has spent more than $200 million of a budgeted $240 million on CBOSS for the 52-mile corridor. After ending the Parsons contract, Caltrain said it has worked to ensure progress toward PTC implementation while strategies for replacing the original contractor were evaluated. The company deemed Wabtec’s PTC technology as the sole technically and financially viable strategy for Caltrain following an evaluation. If the new contract with Wabtec is approved as recommended, Caltrain said the contract value would not exceed $49.5 million, an amount that would be covered by the $59 million available to complete the project. Caltrain said it expects that additional funding will be necessary to deliver the project. The agency added it is currently working to identify further needs and potential funding strategies. The contract also specifies that PTC installation will be complete on all equipment used for Caltrain service by the end of this year in compliance with federal deadlines. Additional steps will need to be taken to ensure that PTC is completely functional throughout the corridor, Caltrain said. The contract anticipates that Caltrain and Wabtec will work with the Federal Railroad Administration to identify and carry out such steps as quickly as possible. railwayage.com
CSS Expands Railcar Storage Short line Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad (CSS) is offering expanded capacity for railcar storage. The carrier, a unit of Anacostia Holdings and headquartered in Michigan City, Ind., said railroad customers needing to store empty or loaded freight cars can take advantage of new railcar storage opportunities, part of the railroad’s ongoing, increased service offerings. The initiative is the result of new investments in track capacity and will help third-party, off-line customers that require short- and long-term storage of railcars. For on-line customers, CSS continues to offer a separate, existing storage program. The new program, in effect since January, leverages the South Shore’s connectivity across the spectrum of Chicago-area railroads, which includes interchange with six Class I carriers and several regional and switching railroads. “The need for railcar storage capacity located close to Chicago fluctuates based on ebbs and flows of storage space in the industry,” said CSS President Todd Bjornstad. “We are offering this because we believe South Shore’s easy access to multiple Chicago railroads gives third-party customers a chance to take advantage of our strategic location.” Under the program, CSS offers interchange service daily except Saturday. The railroad offers short- or long-term rates— daily, weekly, monthly or annually—based on how long cars might sit in storage. Customers require temporary car storage for a variety of reasons, Bjornstad explained. “In some cases, car leasing companies have equipment coming off lease for which new lessees have not been secured. Or, some customer-owned fleets might require off-site storage during a plant’s scheduled maintenance outage.”
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Riding the Brand at FRA
iding the brand”—a code of conduct exemplifying unbendable trustworthiness, integrity and commitment—is an expression as old as the Wild West, yet as contemporary as Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory. Nowhere is this code more needed than at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), lacking permanent leadership since January 2015 and suffering discord and an organizational brain-drain even longer. Retired and financially secure, Batory, 68, should be believed that he possesses no agenda beyond the statutory mandate for his job. Uniquely, he is a product of a labor union upbringing and management training. His father, Lou, was an officer of a Transportation Communications Union predecessor. Ron chose management, advancing to president of two major switching railroads—Belt Railway of Chicago and Conrail Shared Assets. While Chief Operating Officer of the latter—the eighth largest U.S. freight railroad, which provides open-access switching for CSX and Norfolk Southern in Northern New Jersey, Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia, and Detroit—Batory earned a remarkable accolade from former United Transportation Union President Paul Thompson: “Railroad presidents like Batory could put labor unions out of business.” Expect Batory’s ability to operate commendably at the intersection of labor and management to be fruitful in unpuzzling a surfeit of safety issues habitually
43% THE NUMBER OF RAIL WORKERS
testing positive for drugs is up
18 Railway Age // March 2018
muddled by the general media, rarely understood by the general public, and too often taken hostage by lawmakers for political gain. Consider fatigue, which is not always as it seems. A majority of fatigue-related accidents occur on scheduled intercity passenger and commuter railroads, where train and engine (T&E) crews enjoy a betterquality work/life cycle than their freight counterparts. And on all railroads, even where napping is permitted, there lurks undiagnosed sleep apnea—a condition causing unintended sleep episodes and loss of situational awareness. The FRA’s former Associate Administrator for Safety, Grady Cothen, says, “There are no metrics thus far identified as reliable to predict train accidents … Regulators and railroads focus on conditions and behaviors that give rise to [those outcomes].” This leads us to the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) process, created in 1996 by former FRA Administrator Jolene Molitoris. RSAC gathers stakeholders, including labor and management, to collaborate on solutions to real and perceived safety problems. In recent years, the voluntary RSAC process has withered for lack of positive FRA leadership, even though it has a history of “scrubbing the disaggregated data to get it right,” Cothen says. To restore the RSAC’s effectiveness requires open-minded leadership at the FRA. Batory was once quoted, “Employee opinions and expertise matter; the boss doesn’t always know best.” With opioid addiction a national epidemic, and the number of rail workers testing positive for drug use up 43%, a transparent RSAC process can develop costeffective and nimble strategies, including a labor-trusted standardized license decertification and appeals procedure where railroads now have discretion. The RSAC process also can advance technology where Positive Train Control (PTC) is not required, such as T&E crew use of carrier-provided GPS-linked electronic tablets displaying real-time track conditions, special instructions and audible warnings of upcoming speed limit changes. Another role for RSAC is why and how to
presidents like batory could put labor unions out of business.” implement—in place of prescriptive regulation—performance-based safety standards where the FRA establishes a desired safety outcome and carriers innovate to reach the goal. A labor-management collaborative effort to ensure the two complement each other is preferable to a third-party mandate such as in legislation (S. 1451) introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). Other issues confronting Batory include calibrating safety audits among eight FRA regions; adherence to the 1996 Small Business Regulatory Fairness Enforcement Act requiring regulations affecting regional and short line railroads be scaled to their smaller size; CSX’s scrapping of industrywide voluntary safety practices, such as prohibitions on boarding and dismounting moving trains, and allowing crews to take fatigue-abating naps; and a rising number of trespasser fatalities in the face of thin leadership at, and reduced funding of, Operation Lifesaver. Then there is the congressional PTC mandate timetable, needing no further explanation here, whose superintending will consume Batory’s waking hours worse than dysentery. Welcome aboard, Mr. Administrator.
FRANK N. WILNER Contributing Editor railwayage.com
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Autonomous Trucks: An Elephant in the Economy
lon Musk, owner and promoter of Tesla electric vehicles, recently displayed his prototype batteryelectric semi-tractor with a 500-mile range and self-driving electronics. Musk proudly said this will put doublestack container trains out of business. Line haul on Interstate highways is a relatively easy application of autonomous trucking. Variables are fewer than in urban driving— or at least it may appear so. Consider a double-stack train with 100 well cars carrying 200 containers. A rule of thumb in highway planning is that one lane can handle about 1,500 vehicles per hour, mostly automobiles. Semi-trucks, 80,000 pounds, about 60 feet long, might be 600 to 800 trucks per hour per lane. Two trainloads’ worth would fill one lane, excluding automobiles. One trainload worth would fill one existing lane and compete with automobile traffic. Thus, wear and tear on existing lanes would be multiplied. A shift in costs would occur from privately owned tax-paying railroads to the public sector. Maintenance costs of existing Interstates would be multiplied, and construction of additional lanes would be necessary. The trucking industry pays about 67% of the costs of maintaining roads. The public pays the rest. Tests under the auspices of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) demonstrated clearly that truck weight and frequency has a direct impact on highway maintenance costs. This impact would be multiplied by the addition of hundreds, indeed thousands, of autonomous trucks as advocated by Elon Musk and others with similar interests. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) as well as many ownerdriver associations can be expected to strongly oppose self-driving trucks for obvious reasons. As well, truck drivers have described many problems. A driver can spot a potential hazard such as a disabled vehicle on the shoulder with people around it; see snow or ice ahead and make adjustments to speed; report and perhaps aid in an accident ahead (an autonomous truck would not know of
20 Railway Age // March 2018
such an event until it got there, where it would become part of the problem); and see flagmen, state troopers or maintenance workers ahead, and slow down accordingly. An autonomous truck would not “see” them until very close—maybe too close. Musk says convoys of trucks could reduce the space needed on highways—it would be like a short freight train, with a self-driving truck in the lead with followers linked electronically. This may be possible, but again, freight trains operate on dedicated rights-of way. The frequency and results of collisions of such trucks and convoys of them must be quantified and evaluated. The results could be deadly. Maintenance costs resulting from a greatly increased frequency of heavy trucks can be extrapolated from existing AASHTO data. Construction of new lanes must be estimated on a route-specific basis, since terrain and the need for bridges or tunnels varies widely. Autonomous vehicles will need a navigation system based on GPS or some other electronic system, perhaps cell phone towers. What would happen if such a system fails suddenly? Could it be hacked? When such a system fails—and it will happen— the vehicles should stop safely. Then what? With hundreds or even thousands of trucks stalled in many locations, how would this be handled safely? Enterprising hackers may find they can hijack trucks using the navigation system. They might gain control of a truck and divert it to parts unknown. They could replace it with an electronic “ghost truck” that would continue to the hacker’s destination, meanwhile indicating to an owner that their truck is progressing as intended. Electrically powered trucks, whether driven or autonomous, will not consume diesel fuel, resulting in a large reduction in motor fuel tax revenue. Thus, a different source of motor vehicle derived revenue will be needed to maintain and construct roads. Within a few years, more impacts will be noted. Older bridges will become fatigued from frequent impacts of heavy trucks. For public roadways where inspection and maintenance is often influenced by local budget restrictions, major failures can be
wear and tear on existing highway lanes would be multiplied.” expected, and they may occur suddenly and unexpectedly, since there may be no recordkeeping of how many heavy trucks pass over a given bridge in a given time. It is reasonable to assume that, rather than simple resurfacing, complete reconstruction of roadway substructure will be more frequent, at a potentially huge expense. Politicians, typically slow to respond to issues other than a “clear and present danger,” will be surprised by the need for greatly increased funding—and find that unacceptable. Long-term effects will include relocating some industries in response to significant changes in transportation costs. Some of this may be good and some not so good for local communities. Costs and benefits will shift. Some sunk investments will be made less valuable, perhaps worthless. Retired Transportation Economist Bill Vigrass holds a B.A. in Economics, an M.B.A. in Transportation Economics and a Master’s in City and Regional Studies. He was a member of the Transportation Research Board. Vigrass retired from consulting work on Puerto Rico’s Tren Urbano project in 2004 and worked part time at Hill International until 2013.
J. William Vigrass Transportation Economist Hill International (ret.)
Weâ€™re current, are you? FRA Regulations FRA News:
Mechanical Department Regulations A combined reprint of the Federal Regulations that apply specifically to the Mechanical Department. Spiral bound. Part Title 210 Railroad Noise Emission Compliance Regulations 215 Freight Car Safety Standards Updated 4-3-17. 216 Emergency Order Procedures: Railroad Track, Locomotive and Equipment Updated 4-3-17. 217 Railroad Operating Rules Updated 4-3-17. 218 Railroad Operating Practices - Blue Flag Rule Updated 4-3-17. 221 Rear End Marking Device-passenger, commuter/freight trains
Safety Glazing Standards Updated 4-3-17. Railroad Accidents/Incidents Updated 4-3-17. Locomotive Safety Standards Updated 4-3-17. Safety Appliance Standards Updated 4-3-17. Brake System Safety Standards Updated 4-3-17.
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short line of the year
ailway Age’s 2018 Short Line of the Year is SaginawMich.-based Lake State Railway (LSRC), a privately held, 290-mile Class III with 90 employees. In 2013, LSRC was facing a major challenge. The original territory, purchased from the Detroit & Mackinac in 1992, had dwindled to a very low traffic density. That year saw a 27% drop from 2012, capping a long trend of diminishing carloads and customer closings. The Huron and Mackinaw Subdivisions, consisting of 210 main line miles, was worn out, with more than 100 miles of the former classified 22 Railway Age // March 2018
lake state railway
as excepted track. A recent inspection had found more than 1,000 broken sections of 85-pound rail and poor tie conditions. Many of the customers were shifting away from rail, convinced the end was near. It seemed the former D&M lines would meet a similar fate as hundreds of miles of Rail Trails in the state of Michigan. Dramatic improvement was needed to justify continued operations, with only 3,500 annual carloads of traffic. Here’s how LSRC describes it dramatic turnaround: LSRC’s goal was rebuilding aging infrastructure and revitalizing 200 miles of
marginal branch lines in Northern Michigan, the former Detroit & Mackinac, to earn back rail business with a significant modal shift as well as locate new customers. In late 2013, a strategic growth plan was initiated, along with a five-year capital plan. The first order of business was to reenergize customer relationships and work toward earning back lost business. Thankfully, most of the recent traffic loss was still moving, just by truck instead of rail. LSRC managed to recover the lost traffic and grow additional lanes with existing customers. The second step was to identify transload customers and aggressively pursue railwayage.com
Lake State Railway
SHORT LIne of the year
How this northern Michigan Class III evolved from excepted track to exceptional entrepreneur. By William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
conversion to rail. Five new transload customers have been located on the northern lines in the past four years. More than $500 million of industrial development projects are under way, generating hundreds of jobs and thousands of new railcar loads. Customer service has improved by increasing frequency to meet demand. Service to Grayling had dwindled to â€œas needed,â€? sometimes just once a week. Grayling now has a local on duty five days per week, soon to go to two shifts in late 2018. Service south of Grayling is now up to five days per week as well. To improve car supply for customers railwayage.com
to remain competitive, LSRC invested in 190 aggregate cars to support its largest customer in Alpena and replace a fleet of rusted-out former coal cars, some of which were built in the 1950s. LSRC also invested in a fleet of mill gondolas, helping one customer decide to cancel long-term trucking contracts and shift the majority of its business to rail. A lease of 60-foot Plate F 286K boxcars allowed LSRC to gain new business out of an OSB mill in Grayling. The capital program has seen an investment of $10 million, including more than 20 miles of new or relay rail installation, approximately five miles of new industrial
tracks under construction, and elimination of all broken rail sections. Current projects under way will represent nearly a 50% increase annualized by the end of 2018; projections are to double 2017 volume by 2020. The Train & Engine Service headcount is up 20% in 2018 to handle the new volume. The growth strategy implemented on the former Detroit & Mackinac lines of the Lake State Railway has paid off for the company, its employees and the customers in the territory it serves. The future is now bright for two subdivisions that were on the verge of becoming uneconomical to operate. March 2018 // Railway Age 23
REGIONAL OF THE YEAR
REGIONAL OF THE YEAR
Indiana Rail Road An entrepreneurial spirit combined with a diversification strategy enabled INRD to respond to shifting market conditions.
he word “complacency” has never been in the vocabulary of the Indiana Rail Road, Railway Age’s 2018 Regional of the Year. Entrepreneurialism and planning ahead have 24 Railway Age // March 2018
been hallmarks since Founder Thomas G. Hoback purchased a rail line slated for abandonment in 1986 and turned it into one of the industry’s great success stories. But success doesn’t come with a guarantee that it will last indefinitely. To be
truly successful requires acknowledging that, sooner or later, something is going to change that one had best be prepared for. That’s exactly what happened a few years ago when coal, the industry’s long-standing profit center, took a sharp nosedive. Prior railwayage.com
Indiana Rail Road
By William C. Vantuono, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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regional of the year to 2016, coal accounted for 65% of INRD volume. Early that year, two major customers—Indianapolis Power & Light’s Harding Street generating plant and Duke Energy’s Wabash River generating plant—completed conversions to natural gas. As well, SG Solutions closed an adjacent coal gasification plant. The revenue loss for INRD amounted to a staggering 25%. “Our business base was heavily weighted in coal, so the loss of this traffic was magnified from what the Class I’s were experiencing,” says President and CEO Pete Mills. “However, it did not come as a surprise to us. We knew about two years out that these closures were going to occur, so, with a high level of urgency, planning got under way immediately to seek new business to replace the coal traffic we were going to lose. So we started beating the bushes. It was a rallying cry for us.” Ultimately, a large part of the solution came from thinking inside the box—specifically, building an intermodal business from the ground up.
In 2013, INRD partnered with CN to construct a modern, user-friendly intermodal hub at INRD’s Senate Avenue Terminal in Indianapolis. INRD and CN established an all-rail service for trans-Pacific import and export freight moving to Indiana via the Canadian West Coast ports of Prince Rupert, B.C., and Vancouver. Cargo moves in 20- and 40-foot ocean containers in double-stack configuration. INRD operates the service jointly with CN. This service features a fast and reliable 22-day average transit time for cargo moving from key Asian ports such as Shanghai and Busan, South Korea, to Indianapolis; fast and efficient routing around Chicago, and personalized service at Senate Avenue Terminal. There’s a designed-in time advantage to this service, which Mills describes as “a niche product served by CN.” INRD has experienced a 30% year-overyear volume growth since its first intermodal train operated on July 23, 2013. Since then, thousands of truck trips, which
previously used Interstate 65 from Chicagoarea intermodal ramps to reach Indianapolis, have been diverted to rail. In 2017, INRD handled 30,000 containers. “We’re still finding market opportunities,” says Mills. “Our 2018 plan calls for 10% growth in international traffic. There are multiple steps in the supply chain, and we continue to identify new customers. It’s all part of a long-term diversification strategy.” “Our financial performance is back to where we were before we lost that portion of our coal business,” says Mills. “However, we still love coal; it’s now 50% of our traffic, so we still have exposure. Peabody Energy’s Bear Run and Sunrise Energy’s Oaktown mine are still very competitive. Both are key origination sites, and volumes have been holding up.” Industrial development is another important part of INRD’s growth strategy. The railroad operates rail-to-truck transload facilities in Indianapolis and Odon, Ind. In July 2016, Indianapolis-based
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regional of the year Venture Logistics opened a 406,000-squarefoot rail-served warehouse. It’s equipped with 15 indoor railcar spots. Interestingly, this facility is literally down the street from the Indianapolis Power & Light generating station that now burns natural gas. Three new industrial development sites will be coming coming on line in 2018, Mills reports. Cost control has also been part of INRD’s business equation, though not at the expense of employees. “We’ve reduced headcount 20% to 25% entirely through attrition,” sates Mills. “This company has never furloughed an employee since it was founded more than 30 years ago.” Mills describes railroading as “an outdoors team sport, and we have a great team. I give a lot of credit to our people. They’re a hardworking bunch that really gets it. Safety, service and productivity are their hallmarks. Our team is a great group of railroaders. Everyone has done their best to build solid customer relationships.” INRD has invested more than $220
Transloading: In the shadow of the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium, a local oil re-refiner pulls used motor oil from an INRD-delivered tank car.
million of private capital since 1986, transforming a broken-down railroad into a state-of-the-art, heavy-haul transportation system. In 2017, the Indiana Rail Road hauled the equivalent of more than 700,000
truckloads of freight. 2018 marks the second time INRD has been selected as Railway Age’s Regional of the Year. The Class II was so-honored for the first time in 2012.
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m/w: Crossties Stacks of cherry crossties air-dry at a lumber yard.
How the crosstie market
By Mischa Wanek-Libman, Engineering Editor
he crosstie market is hitting a steady stride as demand is expected to match the slight increase seen in forecasted railroad capital programs in 2018. Potential challenges are hovering over the generally optimistic tone suppliers struck during our interview process. For wood crossties, possible issues with low inventories and potential raw material strains could have an impact on the year, while the remaining crosstie supply segments are eyeing what effect the new tax structure could have on their business. RTA The Railway Tie Association (RTA) econometric model is forecasting a system-wide
30 Railway Age // March 2018
demand increase of 3% for 2018. The forecast is in line with overall expected growth in capital expenditures and should return tie demand close to 2014-2015 levels. Jim Gauntt, RTA Executive Director, says the supply side of the industry heads into 2018 with less inventory than it did at the end of 2016, when the RTA Inventory-toSales Ratio (ISR) stood at 0.88. “ISR fell precipitously from a peak of 0.99 in March 2017 to 0.78 at year-end. While 0.78 is close to the five-year average, with some of the market forces in play, and heading into what has turned out to be a wet winter so far, if demand continues to increase to meet that 3% year-over-year growth rate, inventories are not currently sufficient throughout the system to meet
that demand on an air-dry basis. Issues that have arisen, such as increased oak and ash saw log exports to China and an increase in reported crane mat demand could exacerbate the situation,” explained Gauntt. Additionally, the new tax rate passed in December 2017, as well as the extension of the short line tax credit retroactive through 2017, could have an impact on demand. “It is anticipated that railroads in general will be beneficiaries of reduced tax rates. However, not only does traffic need to increase for maintenance to increase accordingly, but also we have to wait to see where any increase in income will be applied. Dividend increases and stock buybacks, wage and job growth, plus other capital needs are also factors railwayage.com
Railway Tie Association
A bump in demand is expected, as suppliers try to insulate themselves from potential challenges.
on track for the long haul
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m/w: Crossties Rocla 101L (heavy-haul ties) equipped with Vossloh W 30 fastening systems being installed on a commuter/transit line in Texas.
that are in play. It’s important to see U.S. GDP growth accelerate and drive freight movement and then, if all the stars align, we could see accelerating growth in tie demand, beyond the forecast, later in the year,” said Gauntt. Regarding the 45G short line tax credit,
Gauntt believes short lines may have taken a conservative approach to their capital spending last year, based on the demand RTA saw in 2017. If this turns out to be the case, Gauntt says the increased 2017 tax benefit accrued by the tax credit extension could be a net positive for 2018 tie demand.
Another positive, not related to demand, for the timber crosstie segment revealed itself in February when the Environmental Protection Agency eased restrictions on the use of creosote/borate, copper naphthenate and copper naphthenate treated ties for boiler fuel. “RTA and others have worked very hard toward this and it’s gratifying to get a ‘win’ for the industry,” said Gauntt. “The lack of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) rule inclusion of these three types of ties has not seemed to have an impact in their increasing use by railroads over the last several years. This may be because other end-of-life disposition options remain in place and that railroads expected the wood preserving industry and RTA to be successful in achieving NHSM classification for these types of ties. Nevertheless, the legitimacy this conveys to these types of treated ties is a very positive outcome for all parties. With this action, use of these materials in track applications no longer have end-of-life
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m/w: Crossties disposition questions related to their use as a valuable fuel. Railroads have consistently chosen the best products for the intended use and we believe that process remains alive and well.” Wood Bill Behan, President of Gross & Janes, Co., says he is confident about sales in 2018. While he explains the first quarter of 2018 is shaping up similar to the fourth quarter of 2017, he expects the market to strengthen in each quarter moving forward. He does mention a few factors that could impact how the year shapes up such as the effect of adverse weather conditions on raw material supply. He notes that sawmills are starting the year with less material on-hand than they desire. “I anticipate a late-year bump as a result of two influences. One, treated crosstie inventories are back to normalized Inventory-to-Sales ratios. Two, the new tax law will enable Class I railroads to re-invest in track infrastructure,” said Behan.
34 Railway Age // March 2018
Cautious optimism is the term John Giallonardo, Vice President Class I sales for Koppers Inc., used to describe his feelings about 2018. He cites reduced capital spending in 2017 and an adjustment of inventories as challenges in 2017, but notes increased capital programs are encouraging signs. He explains that increased tie demand will put more pressure on an already strained raw material market. “Poor winter weather, log exports and increased demand for alternative products are some of the factors impacting tie availability,” said Giallonardo. “Most of the surplus inventory from the past year has been depleted.” Tim Carey, Product Manager, Industrial Products with Lonza’s Wood Protection Division, believes a return to growth in the rail industry will come through the strengthening of rail transportation products. He is also hopeful the short line tax credit extension will lead to a noticeable improvement in business this year and early next year and is optimistic that anticipated new
tax laws will benefit the rail industry. George Caric, Vice President Marketing for Stella-Jones Corp., believes business from the company’s Class I customers will be steady in the upcoming year. He attributes this to record capital spending several years ago bolstering networks, which remain in solid shape. “With current traffic levels we are not seeing demand for our preplating service, which has been a good indication of construction of new siding extensions and terminal construction,” said Caric. “Current inventories will carry them through the year, however there are issues such as weather, log exports and demand for other hardwood products that could affect crosstie production throughout the year.” Concrete Per Steve Burgess, President, CXT, Inc. and Vice President Concrete Products, L.B. Foster, during the past year the overall concrete tie market has been relatively stable but looking ahead into market conditions in
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m/w: Crossties 2018 and beyond he sees expanded opportunities for growth as railroads plan for new capital projects. “This year, we expect a bit of a turn around with spending expected to increase in the range of 3-5%. That scenario will likely have a positive impact on concrete tie sales since most consumption by the heavy haul railroads is for new construction. So, we look forward to the opportunity ahead for our products with the Class I railroads,” said Burgess. “Selective port and other industrial project work continues. We have seen an uptick in bidding in our industrial markets, another sign of potential increased construction activity. “In addition, we are seeing strong demand from the transit side of our business especially in our key West Coast and Southwest markets. Project work has been solid and we look forward to even better performance in 2018 based on several awards for business that we received last year. This segment will continue to grow as design build projects move ahead.”
Rocla Concrete Tie, Inc., part of the Vossloh North America group of companies, is optimistic about 2018. The company said that in addition to interesting developments in freight transport, transit rail has been an area where it has seen a steady uptick in volume. Rocla cites the many transit projects that have been in the pipeline for months (if not years) now have the needed capital funding and are in various stages of installation. Rocla noted that its concrete crossties have been used for more than 30 years on various transit and commuter railroads, including the Northeast Corridor where the company operates a production facility in close proximity to many networks along this route. Rocla said this manufacturing facility is one of six in North America, five throughout the United States and one in central Mexico. Composite William Jordan, Vice President Commercial Development at Axion Structural
Innovations, thinks composite tie purchasing will continue its conservatively paced increase this year. “Our Class I growth is fueled by more special track work installations, and it has been increasing over the past few years. explained Jordan. “In general, composite tie purchasing increases with overall tie buying and we expect that relationship to continue over the next few years.” Tie treatment Kevin L. Kirkland, President and CEO of Nisus Corporation says the company continues to see double-digit growth in the use of Cellutreat Liquid Borate DOT used in a 2-step dual-treatment to dip ties prior to air drying. The result is an improved, stronger product. “This dramatically reduces stack burn (incipient decay) and by eliminating decay, which can cause 20% to 60% strength loss during air drying, railroads are sending a significantly stronger tie to the treatment cylinder,” said Kirkland.
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TREATED • Eliminates incipient decay during air seasoning. • Reduces stack burn. • Helps prevent corrosion and spike kill. • Reduces checking and protects heartwood. • Data shows 2-step borate dual-treated ties are stronger and they last longer than single treatment ties.*
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The penetration of borates into the wood is indicated by the red coloring of added curcumin curcumin. *Strength: Adam M. Taylor, Barbara Jordan, and Jeffrey D. Lloyd. 2013. Pretreatment Decay, Strength Loss and their Prevention in Railroad Ties. Proceedings of the annual meeting of the International Research Group on Wood Protection. IRG/WP 13-30610 Longevity: The Amburgey Tie Test as reported in CrossTies, March/April, 2010.
Class 1 Focus: passenger railCN
Subway to the Suburbs
he Toronto Transit Commission’s 5.3-mile Vaughan extension represents the first rapid transit operation outside the city of Toronto, into the northwestern suburb of Vaughan. The Vaughan extension is actually the fourth one of the original, 4.35-mile Yonge Street Subway, Canada’s first, opened in 1954. The second extension was the University Avenue subway, about two miles long, Union Station to St. George Station, dating from 1963. The third was the Spadina Subway extension, extending about six 38 Railway Age // March 2018
miles from St. George to Wilson Station. In 1996, this was pushed 1.2 miles further north, to Sheppard Avenue (at Downsview Station, since renamed Sheppard West). The Vaughan extension proceeds in a northwesterly direction from Sheppard Avenue West and Dufferin Street to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, at Jane Street and Highway 7. It is entirely underground in bored tunnel with cut-and-cover stations. The project was initiated not by the TTC, but by the cities of Vaughan and Toronto. The most important station is at York University.
The next station up the line is Finch West, where the subway will interface with Metrolinx’s Finch West LRT, due to open in 2022. An LRT station was roughed in as part of the subway project; the line will terminate at Finch West for the time being. As a matter of interest, the LRT will be railway standard gauge (4 feet, 8-1/2 inches or 1,435 mm); the subway is “Toronto Gauge,” 4 feet 10-7/8 inches (1,495 mm). Highway 407 station is something of a first, as it is planned as a catchment for motorists on this east-west toll road, although feeder buses are also provided, as railwayage.com
Toronto Transit Commission
The TTC’s Vaughan subway extension finally opened in December, almost a decade after construction began
By John Thompson. Canadian Contributing Editor
is the case at other stations. In common with other TTC subway lines, the floating slab track construction technique was used. The rails are fastened to individual, continuous concrete slabs with insulating rubber pads beneath the rails to reduce noise and vibration. The slabs are separated from the tunnel invert by additional pads. The TTC’s standard rail, 115 pounds per yard, is used for main lines. The Vaughan extension is the first part of the TTC subway to feature CBTC (communications-based train control) and driverassisted ATC (automatic train control), between the Sheppard West and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre stations. The technology, Alstom’s Urbalis 400, is movingblock, which allows closer train spacing railwayage.com
and shorter headways. It will gradually be extended to the rest of the system. Construction began in February 2008, 18 months later than originally planned. Problems plagued the Vaughan extension project throughout much of its nineyear construction period. The death of a worker at the York University station site caused a lengthy work shutdown while the accident was investigated. Harsh winter weather caused further delays. Contractors had difficulty hiring skilled workers, due to the booming construction situation in the Greater Toronto Area. Other challenges included frequently changing station design plans. Individual architects designed each station. In January 2016, the TTC announced that it needed C$400 million to cover contractors’ claims. Some of these were considered to lack merit, would be contested by the Commission, and settled through litigation. Bechtel Canada was subsequently hired to provide project management. The Vaughan extension was ultimately, as noted earlier, opened more than one year behind schedule, and far over budget. The original cost estimate of C$2.6 billion had escalated to an estimated C$3.18 billion. The cost is being shared among the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto and the City of Vaughan (in which the northern portion of the line is located). Patronage of the Vaughan extension, especially north of York University station, is unlikely to reach significant levels until, and unless, significant development occurs near stations such as Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and Finch West. High-density development is unlikely at the other stations, due to the areas in which they are located. In short, it may be some time before ridership levels reach the extension’s full potential. The new stations offer commuter parking, and bus routes have been realigned to serve them. The Downsview station is adjacent to a station on GO Transit’s Barrie rail line, while Finch West will benefit from the Finch West LRT when it opens in 2022. A station was roughed in for the LRT there, which will be the line’s eastern terminus. SCARBOROUGH EXTENSION Following the opening of the Vaughan extension, only one further heavy rail
subway has been approved in Toronto. This would be the Scarborough subway extension, extending northeastward from the existing Kennedy Station (eastern terminus of the Bloor-Danforth Subway, Line Two), to a new station at the Scarborough City Centre, about four miles distant. Due to budgetary restrictions, the line is planned to have just the single station. It would run almost, if not entirely, underground. The current estimated cost is C$3.35 billion, but this is expected to rise significantly as further design work is finished. Toronto City Council has declined to issue a revised cost figure until January 2019. The subway would replace the existing 4.35-mile Scarborough Rapid Transit, featuring the rarely used ITCS (Intermediate Capacity Transit System) technology developed in the 1980s. It features 40-foot cars with linear induction motors; a similar system is in place in Detroit, Vancouver and several other cities. The RT is past its economical lifespan, having been opened in the mid-1980s, and the TTC is expending considerable effort to keep it operating reliably until the subway opens; this is not expected to occur until about 2031. The Scarborough Subway could in theory be built on the surface of the existing RT route, which enters Kennedy Station on the surface at right angles to the existing subway tunnel. However, this would be extremely complicated; the subway tunnel would have to be built in a huge arc, avoiding several major buildings, coming to the surface south of Lawrence East Station. All of the stations, a short tunnel, and about half a mile of elevated structure would need to be rebuilt to accommodate heavier and longer subway trains. This proposal was considered at various times but never progressed further. Replacing the RT with a conventional LRT operation was actually considered and approved, but was subsequently cancelled by the pro-subway regime of the late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, with the approval of various local and provincial politicians. It now appears, despite continuing LRTsubway controversy, that the Scarborough Subway will be built, unless the cost expands beyond the ability of the city of Toronto to pay for it. March 2018 // Railway Age 39
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High-Speed Mapping for HighSpeed Rail
42 Railway Age // March 2018
GEOSPATIAL How Jacobs/Zephyr UAS mapped 42 miles of California HSR with Bentley Software. By Steve Cockerell, Industry Marketing Director, Rail, Bentley Systems
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were used to provide aerial mapping of the rail corridor. railwayage.com
Photo: Jacobs/Zephyr UAS
he California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is planning the first dedicated high-speed rail system in the U.S. When completed, it will enable passengers to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours, at speeds greater than 200 mph. Two segments of high-speed right-ofway that need to be built for this project cover 42 miles in Southern California—12 miles between Burbank and Los Angeles and 30 miles between Los Angeles and Anaheim. CHSRA knew that the environmental and infrastructure impacts of this project would be considerable, with consequences for rights-of-way, waterways, traffic, overhead structures and other infrastructure along the corridor. The Authority engaged Jacobs/Zephyr UAS to develop preliminary engineering design plans to support an environmental assessment of the potential impact of this $3 billion project. “Ours is a project for the 21st century employing 21st century technology, so we want to make sure that we do everything better, faster, and more economically,” says CHSRA Southern California Director Michelle Boehm. “We needed to obtain detailed mapping of our corridor quickly.” Given the project’s tight schedule, the need to collect data in live corridors and the constant survey interruptions due to traffic, creating the plans was not an easy task. Yet, the team developed a way to safely and efficiently survey the corridors, and deliver an accurate and complete assessment to support the environmental assessment, by using technology developed by Bentley Systems.
in densely populated regions along an active railroad corridor that carries up to 100 trains per day. The design team had hoped to use aerial mapping collected several years earlier, but this data was incomplete and lacked satisfactory resolution. As a result, Jacobs/Zephyr UAS needed to find a way to capture data that would keep survey crews safe, minimize interruptions due to train traffic, and avoid the hassles of obtaining permits to access the railroad right-of-way. To overcome these challenges, the engineering team decided to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to obtain aerial mapping of the rail corridor. UAVs could fly at lower altitudes than manned aircraft and would require only 82 ground control points (GCPs) for all 42 miles of mapping. Equally important, the data collected would provide an extremely rich color ortho aerial illustration at one-inch per pixel resolution supporting one-foot contours and actual observed accuracy of better than two inches for digital terrain models (DTMs).
Capturing Point Clouds One of the major challenges the Jacobs/ Zephyr UAS team faced was obtaining accurate, up-to-date aerial mapping of both segments because they both lie March 2018 // Railway Age 43
The project team worked with native point cloud data in MicroStation, for maximum efficiency.
vehicles—a 56% reduction in delivery time, an 87% reduction in costs and a four-times increase in aerial imaging quality. Finally, UAV mapping produces data known as “point cloud files,” which the project team imported into Bentley software to rapidly create 3D models.
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Photo: Jacobs/Zephyr UAS
This approach allowed the survey team to determine right-of-way impacts with improved accuracy while reducing the time, cost and environmental footprint of the project. The project was completed within eight weeks, as opposed to 18 weeks using traditional aerial mapping with manned
Software-Driven Engineering Once the mapping data was collected from the UAVs and processed, Jacobs/ Zephyr UAS prepared base maps for the track plan and profiles using Bentley’s MicroStation and Power Rail Track tools. Using the point cloud files, the project team combined cloud capabilities with the powerful POD (Plain Old Documentation) format within MicroStation to immediately check the aerial data produced from the UAVs. MicroStation’s functionality enabled the team to interactively work with native point cloud data referenced directly into its DGN CAD file format and run Power Rail Track alignments interactively, resulting in significant efficiencies. For example, Jacobs/Zephyr UAS eliminated several conversion steps using embedded Bentley capabilities, which took one week off the design process. In addition, the organization utilized ProjectWise to facilitate secure, efficient file sharing, distribution and version control
GEOSPATIAL across a geographically distributed team and set of stakeholders. This was essential, as Jacobs/Zephyr USA had to engage geographically distributed teams to meet the aggressive deadline. With ProjectWise, everyone worked together seamlessly, sharing files and ensuring version control effortlessly and around the clock. One Step Closer To HSR The combination of MicroStation, Power Rail Track and ProjectWise were essential to the success of this project, all of which helped Jacobs/Zephyr UAS establish a workflow that expedited project delivery and improved quality. When coupled with the innovative UAV technology data collection process, these technologies delivered major benefits for Jacobs/Zephyr UAS, most notably, accurate preliminary engineering plans that were developed faster and at a much lower cost. In addition, the results have been positive. CHSRA has been appreciative of the innovative and expeditious manner in which Jacobs/Zephyr UAS
produced the plans. The company is now recognized as a leader in the integration of UAVs with infrastructure design.
Founded in 1984, Bentley Systems is a software development company that supports the professional needs of those responsible for creating and managing the world’s infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, airports, skyscrapers, industrial and power plants as well as utility networks. Bentley delivers solutions for the entire lifecycle of the infrastructure asset, tailored to the needs of the various professions—the engineers, architects, planners, contractors, fabricators, Information Technology managers, operators and maintenance engineers—who will work on and work with that asset over its lifetime. Comprised of integrated applications and services built on an open platform, each solution is designed to ensure that information flows between workflow processes and team members to enable interoperability and collaboration.
About the author: Steve Cockerell joined Bentley Systems in 2002 through the company’s acquisition of Infrasoft, and has since worked as part of a team delivering knowledge and expertise to its users in the transportation industry, speaking at international conferences in the U.K., U.S., Middle East, China, Japan and Australia. More recently, he has focused on rail and transit, helping to establish Bentley as a leading supplier of software and services to the global rail infrastructure community.
Keeping Technology in Motion
March 2018 // Railway Age 45
People / 100 years / Events CATHERINE RINALDI Metro-North Railroad
High profile: The New York Metropolitan Transportation Au-
thority (MTA) appointed Catherine Rinaldi as the sixth President of MTA Metro-North Railroad, the first woman to serve in that capacity at the country’s second-busiest commuter railroad. A Yale graduate, Rinaldi had served as Metro-North Acting President since July 2017, and previously was the regional/commuter railroad’s Executive Vice President, beginning in 2015. She served as MTA General Counsel from 2003-07 before taking on that role at the Long Island Rail Road. In 2011, she became MTA Chief of Staff, a position she held until 2015. “Cathy is the best person to continue to push forward the progress that Metro-North has made in renewing the railroad and enhancing the confidence of its customers,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. “She has an uncanny ability to break problems down into their component parts to quickly find a practical solution.”
NTB and STV Inc. have each appointed a rail transportation industry veteran to a key executive position. Joseph Pizzurro, P.E., has been named HNTB’s Transit and Rail Practice Leader, a newly created position for the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area. Based in the firm’s Empire State Building office, Pizzurro’s role includes managing and growing HNTB’s transit and rail operations in the region. A senior vice president at HNTB with more than 22 years of industry experience, Pizzurro most recently served as sales officer for HNTB’s Northeast Division. Ted Lachus, P.E., a manager with more than 35 years of experience overseeing major road, highway and rail projects throughout Illinois, has joined STV as a vice president in the firm’s Transportation & Infrastructure Division. He will head the firm’s Chicago office. Lachus will focus on STV’s continued
expansion in the Midwest region and manage the planning, study and design of major transportation projects. Prior to joining STV, Lachus oversaw major transportation projects in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin for a local consultancy firm. WSP USA (formerly WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff) has named Agnes Otto Area Manager responsible for transportation and infrastructure operations in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Oklahoma. Responsible for strategic business growth across the four states plus Western Missouri and the Kansas City metropolitan area, she focuses on establishing and maintaining strong client relationships, expanding the firm’s presence in all markets and managing project performance. Previously, Otto served as WSP’s director of integrated solutions, leading the firm’s efforts across a range of disciplines including planning and technology.
100 years ago in railway age gazette APRIL 1918 To the Editor: “[T]he many railroad men who are coming over here [Europe]…have found our chief wants to be tobacco, woolen socks, and soap and tooth paste. A knit cap is just the thing for taking the chill out of a shrapnel helmet, which is as pleasant as a cake of ice in the winter. The soap is the least important of the list, for usually there isn’t time to wash often.”
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46 Railway Age // March 2018
Products Siemens Offers Operations Platform
Improve Visibility with Avante Avante International Technology has developed a series of patented and patent-pending systems for rail visibility and safety, which are cost-effective in implementation without interfering with daily operations of trains. Avante’s SwitchPoint Monitoring System provides supplementary and independent monitoring of switch point positions to central command and oncoming trains within three to six miles. The quantitative switch point closure data with built-in redundant contactless sensors (absolute closure or measurable gap sensing) is transmitted wirelessly in realtime to central command and designed to broadcast to oncoming trains with a special
display and alerting console. These sensors solve both the wrong switch-position problem and the improper closing or malfunctioning switch point problem. The system is designed to be mounted and installed onto each switch point within 30 minutes without drilling or other disruption to normal train operations for any extended period of time. The Rail Visibility System solution is designed to provide real-time imaging visibility of rail crossings and curved rail sections, to provide advanced visibility to engineers. Digital imaging video cameras are installed and broadcast real-time images of crossing areas to oncoming trains.
nexpected disruptions during operations, for example due to track closures or train delays, require an immediate adjustment of timetables and appropriate information for passengers. Controlguide OCS from Siemens is the new platform for integrated operative and dispatching control systems. Using Controlguide OCS, Siemens reduces, for instance, the adjustment time of several minutes as featured by conventional systems to only a few seconds. Because of its scalability and modularity, this platform is highly flexible. The functions to be implemented can be individually adjusted or retrofitted at a later stage in line with customers’ requirements. Different types of interlocking systems and train control systems can be monitored and controlled by Controlguide OCS. These functions can be centralized for even more effective operations management for individual lines.
Development and Operation of New York’s IRT and BMT by Alfred E. Fazio, P.E. How would early 20th-Century experts such as William Parsons, Frank Sprague, Fred Lavis and Bion Arnold handled some of today’s challenges facing light rail operation? Read along as Fazio uncovers this premise by exploring the various issues and tactics used when the NYCTA
Simmons-Boardman Books, Inc. 1809 Capitol Ave., Omaha, NE 68102
assumed control of the BMT and IRT lines. Concludes with a series of historical case studies concerning Hudson-Bergen Light Rail’s Bayonne Flyer and “three roads,” BART operations, and the Washington METRO’s capacity challenges. Paperback. 136 pages. Full color.
Include $11.99/U.S.A. $21.20/Canada S&H. S&H charges based on ground delivery for a single copy in US/Canada. Contact us for S&H on orders for multiple copies. Company invoicing available in US/Canada. All other countries, pre-payment is required and appropriate S&H will be added. US funds only. Allow 15 days for delivery. Nebraska residents add appropriate sales tax.
March 2018 // Railway Age 47
Products System Enclosure Options from Pentair Pentair is offering the Schroff Interscale platform, a new concept for building embedded systems that offers design flexibility and affordable customization for industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Based on small form factor-boards (e.g. ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX, Pico ITX), single-board computers (e.g. Embedded NUC™, Raspberry Pi and Arduino) or a proprietary board, customers can configure a customized case with the modular Schroff Interscale platform. Various electronic components, such as cooling, cutouts, labeling and accessories complete the design. The Schroff Interscale platform is flexible and can be adapted for standard or nonstandardized boards. This case platform is based on a parametric model, and can easily be adapted to various heights, widths and depths, depending on the application. The innovative interlocking design of Schroff Interscale cases provides integrated EMC protection of 20 dB at 2 GHz without requiring additional EMC seals. The design
ensures a protection class up to IP 30. Depending on the model, the cases consist of either two to four parts that are easily fastened by the use of only two or four screws. The cases can be assembled and taken apart quickly and easily, which reduces integration time. Based on the board type selected, specific interfaces are preconfigured into the case cutouts. These and custom cutouts specified by the customer are a part of the overall Interscale concept. Electrical components can be integrated, such as a power supply or PCI-/PCIe card installation options and hard-drive mounts. Various cooling options are available, and Schroff Interscale cases can be equipped with perforations and optional fan kits that allow for a variably controlled air stream. Heat is dissipated alternately through conduction cooling using integrated heat sinks and/or flexible heat conductors (FHCs). With the additional installation of the FHC, developed by Pentair, made from aluminum and available in various geometries,
conduction cooling performance can be further improved so that a wide spectrum of application needs can be met. A wide range of powder coating and printing options are available for individualizing the configured system, including logos and photo-realistic images.
Introducing the Sargas Railroad AEI Reader
Finally, there is a low price RF tag reader that can read AEI identification tags on railroad vehicles It is now economical to automatically identify railcars at: • Wayside detect detectors • Scales • Remote control switches • Loading and unloading equipment • Entry doors • Individual tracks For more information go to:
1098 Venetia Road • Eighty-Four, PA 15330 Tel. 888.872.4612 or 724.942.1473 email@example.com
48 Railway Age // March 2018
Ad Index Company
URL/Email Address Page #
Birmingham Rail & Locomotive
danella rental systems
Freight Car America Parts
herzog rail road services inc
interstate diesel service inc
l b foster company
railway educational bureau
road & rail services
stella jones corp
town & country crossing
vossloh wells fargo wholesale mrktg
The Advertisers Index is an editorial feature maintained for the convenience of readers. It is not part of the advertiser contract and Railway Age assumes no responsibility for the correctness.
March 2018 // Railway Age 49
EDNA A. RICE, EXECUTIVE RECRUITER, INC
NOTICE OF REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS FOR RAIL STUDIES FOR
EDNA A. RICE, President
(713) 667-0406 FAX (713) 667-1651 Web address: www.ednarice. com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Feasibility-level revenue and operating cost forecast, and/or (2) Draft plan for regulatory, permitting, and construction, and/or (3) Feasibility-level engineering, alignment, and construction cost estimate
6750 West Loop South Suite 735 Bellaire, Texas 77401-4111
strAteGic PLANNiNG: • Commuter rail tranSitionS • fra ComplianCe programS • operationS auditing
Kansas City Office (913) 661-2424 oPerAtioNs trAiNiNG & coNsULtiNG: www.tcsrailservices.com • engineer training & CertifiCation other services: • exCellent HiStory witH fra, ntSB • Staffing • interim management • meCHaniCal & part 238(Qmp)
Deadline April 5, 2018 3:00 p.m. Mountain Time The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, Utah (the “Coalition”) provides notice that it has issued a Request for Qualifications (“RFQ”) requesting Statements of Qualifications (“SOQ”) from professional individuals and consulting firms to assist the Coalition in preparing three feasibility-level studies or drafts for a proposed rail to connect the Uinta Basin in Utah to the national rail network in Colorado. The RFQ can be accessed on the Coalition website at www.scic-utah.org Also a copy of the RFQ can be requested by contacting Mr. Eric Johnson at eric@ bcjlaw.net or by phone at (801) 520-5333. The Coalition reserves the right to reject any and all SOQs.
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50 Railway Age // March 2018
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1/9/18 12:20 PM
Steel Tariffs and Increasing Railcar Prices
resident Trump has accepted the recommendations from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that steel and aluminum tariffs be implemented to prevent the dumping of foreign products at a discount. These cheaply sold products undercut the pricing of domestic (and other legitimately imported) steel and aluminum products. Tariffs weaken markets, such as the market for finished steel and the appetite for scrap steel—a major base commodity for some finished steel. Tariffs drive prices down, and in the worst outcome can cause domestic steel mills to go out of business and jobs to be lost. Mainly, the tariffs are meant to target China, but the Department of Commerce memo announcing the findings (https://www.commerce. gov/news/press-releases/2018/02/secretary-ross-releases-steel-and-aluminum232-reports-coordination) recommended that 12 countries have top-tier (56%) tariffs on steel imports, and five countries have top-tier tariffs (23.6%) on aluminum imports. This is about protecting American jobs and industry, and about keeping the U.S. steel industry profitable and fiscally sound. These are important and relevant decisions to be made and addressed properly. The imposition of tariffs raises many relevant questions such as: • Is there additional U.S. capacity to replace the loss of tariff-impacted imported steel and aluminum? • Will the impacted countries slap tariffs on other (non-steel) U.S. exports and industries?
twelve countries have
top-tier tariffs on steel imports
52 Railway Age // March 2018
• Will prices rise if the tariffs are implemented? • What will happen to capacity and price if the infrastructure bill creates additional steel and aluminum demand? • How many jobs stand to be added if the domestic steel and aluminum markets expand? These questions (especially those regarding price) concern parties that lease, own, manufacture and operate railcars and locomotives. Virtually all railcars and much of their componentry are manufactured from steel. Any impact on steel pricing (positive or negative) is going to have an impact on railcar and locomotive prices. The railcar manufacturing business is in the tail end (hopefully) of a four-year cyclical downturn. The imposition of tariffs could cause an increase in the price of steel when builders and their customers are hoping for a surge in new car orders. I asked Bob Pickel, Senior Vice President at National Steel Car, a railcar manufacturer based in Canada, what will happen if the tariffs are implemented. He told me, “Our expectation would be that prices will increase if the tariffs are put in place. The price impact will be driven by how much global steel is shipped by countries against which the tariff is being implemented. One potential offset might be that auto demand may decrease, and that might have a chance to hold [railcar] prices in check.” One driver for steel and new railcar prices would be scrap steel prices in a post-tariff world. The Commerce Department notes that they would like to see the steel industry running at 80% capacity vs. today’s 73%. Industry sources told me that the last time capacity operated near those levels was right before the 2008 Great Recession. Current (February 2018) scrap prices are roughly $290 per ton for Chicago #1 Heavy Melt. In 2008, that price was between $550 and $600 per ton, almost twice today’s prices. That means an older railcar scrapping today for $8,000 would have fetched more than $13,000 ten years ago. Sources also indicate that getting to $500 per ton for scrap steel might be an extreme scenario, but that a move from today’s prices to $425 per scrap ton could increase
price increases are passed directly on to railcar purchaserS.” new car prices by as much as $3,000, as steel and scrap steel surcharges are priced into the cost of the steel and the componentry in those railcars. If the increase in the cost of materials and surcharges is combined with an increase in demand, the market could find that the price of new cars has rebounded, and prices will quickly begin to revert to levels not seen since 2014-2015. Price increases due to increasing raw material or scrap surcharge prices are a direct pass-through to the customer purchasing the railcars. How will customers respond when the increases begin? One could expect that they will demand an already beleaguered manufacturing group to reduce their prices as steel costs increase. Any additional decreases would come out of the manufacturer’s margins—especially once price increases begin to set in. It creates a poor dynamic in the market. For those buyers looking to buy new railcars, insult to injury may really begin when demand for new railcars increases and prices rise as a result of steel price and margin increases. Ouch, and ouch again. Got questions? Set them free at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAVID NAHASS President Railroad Financial Corp. railwayage.com
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