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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Updates from FreightCar America, Hollysys Automation Technologies, Trimble/China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group, Environmental Packaging Technologies and Nomad Digital


• On Friday, FreightCar America Inc. reported third-quarter net income of $1.1 million on revenue of $55.1 million — declines of 89 percent and 76.8 percent, respectively, compared with the same 2008 period. The company didn’t receive any orders for new rail cars during the quarter, compared with 2,329 in third-quarter 2008. Deliveries totaled 695 units compared with 3,082 during third-quarter 2008. The backlog at quarter’s end was 777 units compared with 4,401 at the end of the same 2008 period. “The decline in order activity in the quarter illustrates that the market for new rail cars remains very challenging,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Ragot in a prepared statement. “… With little visibility to a recovery in the new car market, the preservation of cash and our strong balance sheet continues to be a high priority for us.” Given the “difficult” 2010 outlook, the company plans to take “immediate steps to further reduce costs,” Ragout added. “These actions include additional headcount and salary reductions, and limits on outside services.”

• Hollysys Automation Technologies Ltd. signed a contract with Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Corp. to provide subway signaling systems and engineering works for the Beijing Subway network’s 19.4-mile, 11-stop Changping Line. Under the terms of the $48 million pact, Hollysys will provide engineering, procurement and construction services for the signaling systems, including system design, procurement, manufacturing, inspection, testing, commissioning, personnel training. Phase I of the line is scheduled to be completed in 2010; Phase II, in 2012.

• Trimble and the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co. Ltd. (CREEC) announced they’ve signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture based in Chengdu, China. Trimble provides commercial positioning, communications and software technologies; CREEC is a rail design and construction firm. The arrangement is pending regulatory approval from the Chinese government.

• Environmental Packaging Technologies Ltd. recently passed both the rail impact and rail simulation tests administered by the Transportation Technology Center Inc. — the “first time in the history of the Association of American Railroads” that the organization has awarded a flexitank packaging company a “passing score for safety,” according to a statement issued by Environmental Packaging Technologies. The company provides bulk packaging solutions for the transport and storage of non-hazardous, flowable products.

• Virgin Trains recently launched high-speed wireless Internet service (WiFi) for passengers on 125 mph Super Voyager trains between Birmingham and Scotland, and the London Euston and North Wales/Chester lines. The WiFi “HotSpot” service is provided by T-Mobile and Nomad Digital.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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