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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Updates from Parsons Transportation/Granite, Bombardier, RailComm, e-VERIFILE.COM, GATX and Sherwin-Williams


• A Parsons Transportation Group Inc.-led joint venture has obtained a $1.28 billion design/build contract from the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) for a 20-mile light-rail extension in Houston. The Houston Rapid Transit Joint Venture (HRT) team includes Granite Construction Co., Kiewit Texas Construction L.P., and Stacy and Witbeck Inc. HRT will be responsible for expanding the existing light-rail system in four new corridors. The project includes 32 stations, storage and inspection facilities, and a major renovation to an existing operations center. Three of the corridors will be located in and adjacent to downtown Houston, and the other will be in the city's Galleria area.

• The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) issued a staff report recommending that Bombardier Transportation be awarded a $1.2 billion contract to provide 204 low-floor light-rail vehicles (LRVs) for the commission's streetcar fleet. Delivery would begin in 2011. In February, the TTC received bids from Bombardier and Siemens Canada Ltd. to replace streetcars built in the 1970s and 1980s with the LRVs. The commission will review and vote on the staff recommendation at a meeting to be held today. The contract is expected to include an option for the TTC to purchase an additional 400 LRVs.

• RailComm Inc. is launching a Web-based crew call system, which enables transportation personnel to more easily comply with the Federal Railroad Administration's new hours of service law, according to the company. The Web-based management system can stand alone or interface with RailComm's Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) mainline train-control system, providing automatic crew information updates in the DOC® train sheet.

• e-VERIFILE.COM Inc. announced that Iowa Pacific Railroad and Pinsly Railroad Co. have signed up for the e-RAILSAFE SHORTLINE service. Iowa Pacific will use the online service across its system, which includes the Arizona Eastern Railway, Permian Basin Railways, San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, New Mexico Railroad, West Texas & Lubbock Railway and Chicago Terminal Railroad. Pinsly Railroad will use the service for its Arkansas Midland, Florida Central, Florida Midland, Florida Northern and Pioneer Valley railroads. The service is designed to help regionals and short lines manage workplace safety and security via a Web-based platform. The roads can facilitate personnel screening, compliance awareness and workplace credentialing for their employees and contractors.

• GATX Corp. reported first-quarter net income of $27.6 million or 56 cents per diluted share, compared with $51.8 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, in first-quarter 2008. Rail segment profit totaled $43.1 million. GATX Rail's utilization rate for its 112,000-car fleet declined to 96.5 percent from 97.9 percent at 2008's end. The decline "reflects both end-of-lease returns and the return of approximately 620 cars related to customer bankruptcies," GATX said. The utilization rate of the company's European tank-car fleet decreased to 96.5 percent vs. 97.1 percent at 2008's end.

• Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings has developed Anti-Graffiti Clear Coat, a single-component, low VOC coating designed to protect rail cars, transit stations, bridges, overpasses, concrete fences, commercial buildings and schools from spray paint and permanent marker graffiti. The fast-drying costing can be applied with a brush, roller or airless spray.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/27/2009