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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Updates from IBM, Christensen Associates, The Vossloh Group and Professional Transportation


• IBM signed a five-year information technology professional services agreement with Amtrak. Terms weren’t disclosed. Under the pact, IBM will provide a range of data center services, including mainframe, mid-range server, security services, asset management, and help desk and desktop support services for 10,000 workstations nationwide. The company also will support the infrastructure for Amtrak's reservation system, as well as the national passenger railroad’s entire computing infrastructure from U.S. delivery centers.

• The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has enlisted Christensen Associates to update the agency’s report on the state of rail-industry competition. Christensen developed the original report (“A Study of Competition in the U.S. Freight Railroad Industry and Analysis of Proposals that Might Enhance Competition”), which was issued in November 2008. In addition to incorporating more recent economic data, the update will include “some technical corrections to the report,” STB said. The report, which will cost the STB $125,000, is scheduled to be delivered in fall 2009.

• The Vossloh Group recorded “slight growth” during the first-half 2009, generating sales of $842.5 million, a 1.4 percent increase compared with sales recorded during the same 2008 period. “The fact that growth generally did not meet our expectations was due to spending reluctance on the part of privately financed customers, and more unfavorable currency translation effects from sales in U.S. dollars and related currencies,” Vossloh CEO Werner Andree said in a prepared statement. “This has prompted us to ratchet down our sales expectations for all of 2009.” For fiscal-year 2010, the company forecasts sales and earnings growth “based on its bulging order books” and the “megacontract” for the delivery of rail fastening systems to be installed in China’s high-speed lines — presuming commodity prices and currency issues “are not to Vossloh’s disadvantage,” and that North American market demand “resurges” during 2009’s second half, the company said.

• Professional Transportation Inc. (PTI) announced plans to expand after being awarded a new crew transportation services contract by Union Pacific Railroad’s Livonia Service Unit. PTI will expand its Louisiana/East Texas market presence by opening eight new branch locations, and adding 25 crew vans and 60 new staff members. “As PTI ends its first year as a UP business partner, it is rewarding that Union Pacific management has taken note of our service commitment and acknowledged our efforts,” said PTI Vice President Steve McClellan in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/31/2009