Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

Alstom Agrees to Acquire Bombardier

February 18, 2020

Alstom has announced that it has reached a deal to acquire Bombardier Transportation in a deal worth $6.28-$6.71 billion.

In a news release French-based Alstom said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Bombardier and its largest shareholder, pension firm Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec which will become the company’s largest shareholder with 18 percent of Alstom’s capital.

Alstom said the acquisition would strengthen its presence in Quebec and that Montreal would host the headquarters of Alstom of the Americas.

Bombardier has more than $9.3 billion in long-term debt and has struggled financially due to issues related to a project to build long-overdue high-speed trainsets for the Swiss Federal Railways and the London Overground.

Alstom has a manufacturing facility in Hornell, New York, that is building the next generation Acela trainsets for Amtrak.

FTA Has Safety Grants Available

February 16, 2020

The Federal Transit Administration announced last week that $9.3 million in research funding is available for projects aimed at improving transit-rail and bus operator safety.

In a news release, the FTA said the funding includes $7.3 million for projects that demonstrate and evaluate new technologies, safer designs and practices to improve transit-rail safety.

It said $2 million is available for projects that redesign bus operator compartments to improve safety for bus operators and their passengers.

The FTA said the $7.3 million will go toward research projects that mitigate trespassing hazards on transit-rail systems and improve the operational safety of shared corridor fixed guideway systems, including grade crossing safety.

Proposals are due March 24 and eligible applicants include public transportation providers, state and local government entities, nonprofit organizations and colleges.

JobsOhio To Fund Quest for New Airline Service

February 15, 2020

An Ohio economic develop agency is earmarking $4 million to help the state’s larger airports attract more airline service.

JobsOhio said the money can be used to attract new flights to unserved or underserved markets, including, transatlantic service from Cleveland and Columbus.

Officials said the funds could also benefit the Akron-Canton Airport, which has seen a decline in service in recent years and the Youngstown-Warren Airport, which lost commercial airline service in early 2018.

Ohio airports have been lobbying the Ohio legislature without success in recent years to create a fund to help attract new air service.

They have said Cleveland and Columbus are at a disadvantage compared with Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, which have used public funding to attract service to Europe.

Pittsburgh used $4 million in public funding to lure British Airways into creating a route to London while Indianapolis landed a Delta Air Lines route to Paris with the help of $5.5 million.

Cleveland Hopkins Airport officials say they believe they have lost out on some service opportunities because they lack funding to entice a carrier to launch new service.

Federal law prohibits direct funding of air service, but airports can waive certain fees, provide revenue guarantees and use public money to help airlines pay marketing costs.

Speaking to the City Club of Cleveland, J.P. Nauseef, president and chief investment officer of JobsOhio, said buying airline service is an economic development issue.

Nauseef said he’s heard business leaders throughout the state say, “If we had better air service, we could attract more people. If we had better air service, we could bring another division here. If we had better air service, Ohio would stay on the list with Texas and Florida for business growth.”

Nauseef said details about how the air service fund will operate are still being written, but there is likely to be some local matching funds requirement, including support from the business community.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership offered an undisclosed amount of financial assistance to Wow Air, which flew for six months in 2018 between Cleveland and Reykjavik, Iceland.

That same year Icelandair also provided service on the same route.

Wow Air is now out of business and Icelandair decided not to continue its service to Cleveland into 2019.

Cleveland and Columbus were said by JobsOhio to be two of the largest air travel markets to be without non-stop airline service to Europe.

JobsOhio is a private, nonprofit economic development group that is funded primarily through revenue from liquor sales in the state.

Airlines Adding Service From Cleveland

February 15, 2020

Two airlines have announced service expansions from Cleveland.

American Airlines said that starting June 4 it will increase its capacity to New York LaGuardia Airport and Washington Reagan National Airport.

Spirit Airlines said it launched service between Cleveland and Cancun, Mexico, on Feb. 14.

The American flights, which operate under the American Eagle brand with regional jet equipment, will use larger capacity planes than the carrier is flying on those routes currently.

Service to Washington will expand from three to four flights for a capacity increase of 150 additional seats.

American Eagle’s level of service to LaGuardia will remain four flights daily, but will use larger aircraft that will add 150 additional seats per day.

On both routes American Eagle currently flies 44-seat Embraer regional jets but that will increase to 76-seat Embraer jets.

The announcement by American came about a month after United Airlines said it was ending its United Express service to LaGuardia and Reagan National airports on March 29 in favor of beefed up service from Cleveland to its hub airports at Newark Liberty International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport.

Until it closed its hub in Cleveland in 2014 United flew to 60 cities. It now flies non-stop from Cleveland to 12 destinations.

Spirit said it will fly four times a week between Cleveland and Cancun, a route now being served by Frontier Airlines.

The low fare carrier which is also known for its numerous fees also said it is increasing service from Cleveland to Florida; Las Vegas; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Those service upgrades include daily service to Tampa that will now operate all year round rather than just during the winter.

Service to Orlando will expand from two to three times daily while the number of flights to Fort Lauderdale will increase to twice daily.

Flights to Las Vegas will also double to two a day while Myrtle Beach will be served two times a day during the season when those flights operate.

Spirit recently marked its fifth anniversary of serving Cleveland. When it entered the Cleveland market it flew to just three Florida cities – Orlando, Tampa and Fort Myers – but now links Cleveland with 12 destinations.

It is the sixth largest carrier at Hopkins, trailing United, Delta, Southwest, American and Frontier.

Although Frontier is not planning any new routes from Cleveland, it said it will increase the number of seats available by 50 percent this summer to Orlando, Fort Myers and Charleston, South Carolina.

Spirit also flies from the Akron-Canton Airport to Orland year around and during the winter to Fort Myers and Tampa.

“We’re pleased with our performance at Akron-Canton. We see no problem serving both airports, and believe we offer even more options to the region by having CAK,” said Nick Bartolotta, Spirit’s director of network planning.

Spirit’s expansion is in part being driven by a larger fleet. It is buying 21 new Airbus jets this year and plans to buy another 27 aircraft in 2021 for a fleet of 200 jets.

Other cities served from Cleveland by Spirit include Atlanta, Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New Orleans.

Alstom Seeking to Acquire Bombardier Rail Assets

February 14, 2020

Alstom and Bombardier are reported to be in advanced negotiations over a merger, Bloomberg News reported.

Alstom, which is based in France, is seeking to acquire the rail business of Canadian-based Bombardier which has been seeking to sell assets in the wake of a costly expansion in its aerospace activities.

Bloomberg cited unnamed sources as saying the negotiations could result in an agreement this week but could still fall apart.

Alstom is reported willing to pay $7.6 billion for the Bombardier’s rail business. If consummated, the acquisition would make Alstom the No. 2 builder of rail equipment in the world and help it stave off competition from China’s CRRC Corporation.

Last year a bid by Alstom to merger with Germany-based Siemens AG was blocked on antitrust grounds by the European Union.

The Bloomberg report noted that if Alstom acquires Bombardier’s Berlin-based rail division that transaction will also face an antitrust inquiry because it would have a 50 percent share of the market for electric multiple units and be a leading position in Europe’s urban transport market.

McCormack to Speak in Bellevue on May 16

February 12, 2020

Another steam impresario is coming to Ohio to help raise money for the restoration of Reading Company steam locomotive No. 2100.

Doyle McCormack will speak on May 16 at the Mad River & NKP Museum in Bellevue as part of the “Legends of Steam” speaker series sponsored by the American Steam Railroad Preservation Association.

The ASRPA is restoring the Reading locomotive at a former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland that is owned by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

McCormack is best known for his work with Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449 but will also speak about his experiences with the Nickel Plate Road.

He also was involved with the American Freedom Train, which toured the country in 1975-1976.

During his talk McCormack his expected to tell some of his stories about steam locomotives and his work to preserve vintage diesels.

Tickets to the event are $99 per person. More information can be found at FireUp2100.org.

The ticket price includes admission to the museum, caboose rides and a catered dinner.

Participants will be able to inside the cab of Nickel Plate Road locomotive 757, which the museum has acquired and plans to restore.

Intermodal Fell 7.4% in 4th Quarter of 2019

February 7, 2020

Intermodal freight volumes fell 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter 2019 the Intermodal Association of North American reported this week.

Domestic containers declined 2.7 percent to 1,958,649 units compared with the fourth quarter of 2018.

International shipments fell 9.1 percent to 2,195,684\; and trailers plunged 21.4 percent to 292,513.

“We haven’t seen full-year declines like these since the 2009 recession,” said IANA President Joni Casey in a statement. “Looser trucking capacity played a role on the domestic side of intermodal, while tariffs and tough comparisons to 2018 volumes affected international.

Casey said a rebound in traffic could be hastened by a number of factors, including further resolution to trade issues, but it’s difficult to predict that timing.

The seven highest-density trade corridors, which collectively handled 67.7 percent of total volume, were down 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

Two posted double-digit losses. The Midwest-Northwest corridor fell 15.8 percent and the South Central-Southwest corridor declined 13 percent.

Volumes were down 5.7 percent in the Midwest-Southwest trade corridor, 5.7 percent in  the Northeast-Midwest, 4.7 percent in Trans-Canada, 4.4 percent in the Intra-Southeast and 3.4 percent in the Southeast-Southwest.

Full-year 2019 results show that intermodal volumes fell 4.1 percent to 18,146,095 units from 2018’s levels.

Domestic containers were down 6.1 percent to 8,798,451; international shipments, down 2.2 percent to 9,347,644; and trailers, down 15 percent to 1,227,511.

Railroads Join Battle Against Larger Trucks

February 7, 2020

The annual battle in Congress over truck size has begun with a coalition of railroads, local government, labor and other organizations leading the way.

They are seeking to defeated, once again, efforts of the trucking industry to pass legislation allowing an increase in the size and weights of trucks using federal highways.

Opponents of larger trucks noted in a letter sent to key leaders in Congress that the truck size issue has arisen in the context of legislation to reauthorize the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which expires Sept. 30.

The parties claim larger trucks will result in billions of dollars in additional bridge and pavement costs to accommodate these vehicles.

The letter said larger trucks would have “severe consequences for local roads and bridges because bigger trucks would not be limited to operating on the interstate highways.

Coalition members that signed the letter included the Association of American Railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, GoRail, the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, the Railway  Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association, the Railway Supply Institute and SMART Transportation Division.

In an unrelated development, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials has called for an emphasis on grade crossing safety as part of the reauthorization of the FAST Act.

Daniel Lipinski (D-Illinois) said during a hearing that he favors increased funding for such safety measures as grade separations and quiet zones.

Both Lipinski and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) also noted the high cost of some crossing safety improvement projects.

DeFazio said some states struggle to cover the costs of multimillion-dollar projects.

Repair Work Continues on B&LE No. 643

February 3, 2020

In an update posted to its website the Age of Steam Roundhouse said it continues to study how to move former Bessemer & Lake Erie No. 643 from its current location in Pennsylvania to Sugarcreek.

AOS said winter weather and the holidays slowed the movement of the locomotive’s running gear and boiler.

The update said staff continue to work with local and state authorities for use of highways but the use of railroad flat cars is also being evaluated.

“Labor and cost are driving factors in this decision making,” the update said.

AOS staff also have inspected the tender of the 643 and made some repairs.

This included removing from the coal bunker and stoker auger system old coal, scaled rust and other debris.

Workers painted the tender with a rust preventive primer and finish coated with gloss black.

Upper elements of the tender that were removed to lower the height for road travel have been put back into place.

The brakeman’s cabin was repaired during the removal process. Workers removed rusted rusted areas in the well area in which it sits.

The cabin was repainted and then was re-bolted to the tender deck.

The eight washout plugs in the bottom of the tender cistern were removed and the water compartment is currently having scale removed. Workings are also flushing out of loose scale and flaked rust.

The update said the tender journals looked very well maintained but were cleaned and oiled.

Eventually, the tender body will be sandblasted to grey metal and repainted with high quality industrial paint.

Railpace Sold to White River Productions

February 1, 2020

Railpace Newsmagazine has been acquired by White River Productions, which will assume production starting with the March 2020 issue.

A news released issued by White River said Tom Nemeth would remain as editor.

The announcement said the terms of the transactions were completed on Jan. 20. The sale price was not disclosed.

The last issue to be completed by Railpace Incorporated was Volume 39, No. 2, February 2020, published on January 21, 2020.

White River said the first issue to be released under its banner will retain the overall look of the magazine and readers should see few changes moving forward.

The first issue of Railpace was dated May 1982 and cost $2. The cover story was a feature on the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway.

Kevin EuDaly, president of White River Productions, said existing subscriptions will be honored by the new ownership with fulfillment being based on the number of remaining issues in the subscriptions.

White River said in its news release that the content of Railpace will change little. Although billed as presenting information about the Northeastern United States, the content of Railpace has broadened to include the Eastern U.S. and portions of the Midwest, including Ohio.

New subscriptions and dealer orders will be processed through White River Productions starting Feb. 1.

Nemeth along with Denis Connell and Bill Chaplik founded Railpace in an effort to present Northeastern U.S.-based railroad news and photography.

Connell and Chaplik are expected to remain involved with Railpace as content contributors.

EuDaly founded White River Productions in 1992. It produces HO Collector, Model Railroad News, Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette, O Scale Trains, Passenger Train Journal, Railfan & Railroad, Railroad Model Craftsman and Trains & Railroads of the Past.

EuDaly got into the publication business when it wrote and published Missouri Pacific Diesel Power.

White River also publishes 19 historical society magazines plus calendars, books, and other peripheral items.