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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Updates from Timken, FreightCar America, Pacer, Ensco, Exide Technologies, Southwest Signal Engineering, SYSTRA USA and Quintiq


• The Timken Co. has developed the capability to produce hot-rolled seamless mechanical steel tubing up to a maximum outside diameter of 13 inches - the only North American manufacturer with the capability to produce the tubing in that size range, the company said. Timken previously sourced steel tubing that size overseas and held an inventory. The tubing is used to produce various parts, such as pulleys, gears, bearings and cylinders.

• FreightCar America Inc. reported four-quarter revenue totaling $271.9 million and net income of $8.3 million. Rail-car deliveries totaled 3,624 units. For the full year, the car builder reported sales totaling $746.4 million, down 9 percent vs. 2007 and net income of $4.6 million, a significant decrease compared with 2007's $26.5 million. Earnings were impacted by costs associated with shutting down the Johnstown, Pa., manufacturing facility, according to a prepared statement. FreightCar America delivered 10,349 rail cars in 2008, up slightly from 2007's 10,282 units.

• Pacer International Inc. reported fourth-quarter revenue of $503.7 million compared with $540.2 million in fourth-quarter 2007. The company also reported a net loss of $65.1 million vs. income of $20.6 million in 2007's last quarter. Intermodal segment income from operations decreased $27.3 million from fourth-quarter 2007's total as volume declined 12.1 percent. Logistics segment income from operations decreased $87.9 million, ending up a loss of $87.3 million.

• Ensco Inc., in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Research and Development, has worked to develop the Joint Bar Inspection System, aimed at decreasing the number of derailments caused by broken joint bars. Designed to locate and identify hairline cracks in joint bars at speeds up to 65 mph, the system can be installed on a hi-rail vehicle or track inspection car. The system captures high-resolution images of the joint bars and uses advanced processing algorithms on the images to detect cracks, ENSCO says.

• Exide Technologies announced plans to spend about $7 million to expand production of motive power lead-acid batteries at its Kansas City, Kan., plant. The facility produces batteries for various motive power applications, including railroad diesel engines, forklift trucks, and material-handling and mining equipment. To be completed in the second half, the multi-phased expansion calls for installing a new tubular plate manufacturing line, and upgrading and modernizing plant facilities.

• On March 1, Southwest Signal Engineering Co. will change its name to XORAIL (pronounced as "zorail"), according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's latest newsletter.

• SYSTRA USA named Diego Diaz president and chief executive officer. He most recently worked for Bombardier Transportation, serving in management positions for the Light Rail and Services divisions and a stint as Bombardier's director of marketing and business development.

• Swedish freight-rail company Green Cargo will implement Quintiq's Advanced Planning & Scheduling technology to integrate the operations of its 433 locomotives, 750 shunters and 950 drivers. Rail information technology specialist Ab Ovo will implement the technology. The application is designed to take into account all rules and restrictions, including drivers' route knowledge and certification, track access and unit compatibility, labor regulations and driver salary components.  

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/17/2009