Posts Tagged ‘Henry Posner III’

Posner Pushing Pop Up Rail Passenger Service

October 4, 2021

Rail entrepreneur Henry Posner is seeking to provide battery-powered multiple unit cars that could provide rail passenger service without the need for extensive capital investment.

Posner has called the concept Pop Up Metro and said its purpose is to lease passenger equipment to operators looking to provide service to smaller communities.

One likely user of the service would be a transit agency seeking to provide service to less-populated areas for less cost.

He said the Pop Up Metro business model includes “the train, the platform, the temporal separation operating rules, and various other elements of support that will make it easier to get people from maybe to yes in terms of there being a demonstration operation.”

says Posner.

Posner said the equipment would ideal to provide service on a lightly-used branch line or short line railroad where passenger trains could run during the day while freight service is provided at night.

The co-founder of Pittsburgh-based Railroad Development Corporation, which owns Iowa Interstate Railroad along with operations in England, France, Germany, Belgium, and Peru, Posner recently demonstrated the equipment at the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Pennsylvania using two remanufactured Vivarail 230 multiple unit power cars Great Britain.

One of RDC’s companies, RDC Deutschland, earlier this year signed contracts to operate five routes in north Germany that will use new Stadler battery-electric trainsets that are similar to those used in the Pennsylvania demonstration.

The equipment to be used in the Pop Up Metro plan can be transported by truck, making it easy to transfer from one route to another.

Posner said a Maine developer is interested in the concept as are the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit.

 “We think this fulfills an important role in the transit sector,” Posner said.

Pittsburgh-based Firm Wins Contract to Operate Battery-Powered German Passenger Trains

February 21, 2021

A Pittsburgh company has landed a contract to operate battery-powered passenger trains in Germany.

Railroad Development Corporation, which is headed by Henry Posner III, will operate the multiple-unit regional trains that will operate on five routes in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

The equipment will be operated by RDC subsidiary RDC Deutschland, whose “RDC Autozug Sylt” business unit is already based in the north of Germany.

That business carries cars and freight to the rail-connected island of Sylt, plus long-distance overnight services from Sylt and Hamburg to Salzburg, Austria.

RDC expects to begin service in December 2023. The battery-powered trains will replace existing diesel-powered multiple units.

The contract is one of three offered by German officials to operate a fleet of 55 new two-car battery EMUs being built by Stadler, which will also maintain the fleet.

The government is paying for the $725 million contract agreed in 2019 and will lease the trains to the selected contractor-operators.

Posner told Trains magazine that RDC’s intercity passenger operations in Europe have been growing in recent years.

“The idea of bidding for this tender made sense because it is in our core territory of Schleswig-Holstein, and was another opportunity to demonstrate to the market the breadth of capabilities that we have built in our German organization,” Posner said.

The battery-electric MU concept is new and the Stadler fleet will be one of the first to provide widespread service in Europe.

Batteries enable trains to operate away from overhead power lines. Some routes RDC will operate lack electrification except at some of the main stations.

Trains will therefore need to make round trips of around 90 miles on battery power before being recharged.

RDC, which is the majority owner of U.S. regional railroad Iowa Interstate, also has operations in Peru, France, England, and Belgium.

EBT Eyes Reviving Branch Line Dormant Since 1940s

October 28, 2020

A branch line of the East Broad Top Railroad that has been out of service since the 1940s may be rebuilt and host excursion trains the EBT Foundation said.

The branch would provide ridge top vistas and increase the number of destinations available to visitors riding EBT trains.

The 2.5-mile branch is known as the Coles Valley Branch but also has been called the Midvalley Branch and Joller Branch

The EBT ceased public excursions in 2011 and in February of this year was acquired by the EBT Foundation.

EBT officials have said work is underway to rehabilitate four miles of the 32-mile mainline between Rockhill Furnace and Colgate Grove.

The more scenic sections of the railroad, though, lie to the south of there. The foundation owns the southernmost 27 miles of the EBT.

Eventually, the EBT is working to reopen the railroad to the Robertsdale/Woodvale area.

EBT Foundation chairman Henry Polsner III discussed reviving the Coles Valley Branch during a recent reunion of the Friends of the East Broad Top.

Posner said during his remarks that offering multiple rides and destinations would provide more opportunities for tourism investment including attracting visitors who will stay for multiple days in the region.

“We want to appeal to as broad a range of people as possible, to give people a reason to stay and boost the local economy,” he said.

The 1,300-member, nonprofit Friends group recently awarded a $86,000 grant to the EBT Foundation to pay for restoration of carpenter’s shop at the Rockhill Furnace shops complex.

The foundation is still working on a master plan of options without timelines, all of which are dependent upon receiving adequate funding.

The Coles Valley branch diverged from the mainline between the Wrays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels just south of a horseshoe-shaped curve.

EBT officials have said Sideling Hill Tunnel will be easier to rehabilitate than Wrays Hill Tunnel.

Preliminary engineering inspections of all bridges and tunnels on the EBT concluded that the largest span, the 275-foot-long Pogue Bridge located three miles south of Rockhill Furnace, is in much better condition than expected.

East Broad Top Railroad Sold to Foundation

February 14, 2020

Looking toward the shops in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, in August 1962. You can see freight and passenger cars, EBT M-1 gas-electric car, two steamers (I believe 12 and 14), and Johnstown Traction 311. (Photograph courtesy of Robert Farkas collection)

The East Broad Top Railroad has been sold to a non-profit group whose backers include Charles “Wick” Moorman, Bennett Levin and Henry Posner III.

The sale was announced on Friday by the EBT Foundation, which will own 27 miles of the EBT from the south end of the concrete-arch bridge over the Aughwick River below Mount Union to the road crossing in Wood Township.

The foundation said it also acquired the narrow-gauge railroad’s shops, rolling stock, and equipment from the Kovalchick family.

In a news release, the parties noted that the EBT is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Although events will be held this year, regular operations are not expected to get underway until 2021.

“This is the best possible outcome for the railroad, which has been in my family for two generations,” says Joseph Kovalchick, whose father, Nick Kovalchick, purchased the EBT after its coal mines closed in 1956.

The Kovalchick family will continue to own coal-company property that had been jointly owned with the railroad.

Kovalchick said in a statement that his father never intended to scrap the railroad after buying it.

“But it is clear that a for-profit business model is not sustainable. Our faith in the new model is reflected in both the sale and the Kovalchick family’s ongoing role on the board of the new non-profit,” he said.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Brad Esposito, a 20-year veteran of the Buffalo & Pittsburgh led the effort to purchase the EBT.

He was joined by EBT enthusiasts David Brightbill, Lawrence Biemiller, and Stephen Lane.

Esposito will become the general manager of the railroad.

He said the EBT Foundation is committed to preserving and operating the EBT as a steam railroad that will provide education about the role of railroads in local and national history as well as help to promote local and regional tourism and economic growth.

The EBT closed in 2011 and work needs to be done to rehabilitate its tracks, locomotives and passenger cars.

This work will also include installation of a fire-suppression system in the shops and roundhouse, and stabilization of structures in the Rockhill Furnace complex.

The foundation plans to work with the volunteer group Friends of the East Broad Top, which has sought to preserve the property since 1983.

It will also work with the Rockhill Trolley Museum, a volunteer organization that since 1960 has operated over the former EBT’s Shade Gap Branch.

Also involved in advising the foundation are Linn Moedinger, former president of the Strasburg Rail Road, and Rod Case, a partner at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman who leads its railway practice.

The Allegheny Ridge Corporation, which manages the region’s state-designated Heritage Area, was also listed in a news release as a supporter of the foundation.

The EBT was built between 1872 to 1874 to haul coal to a new iron furnace in the center of the state. At one time it also interchanged coal with the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The 33-mile EBT survived the collapse of the local iron industry at the turn of the 20th century and was purchased in 1956 by the Kovalchick Salvage Company of Indiana, Pennsylvania.

The railroad has a gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches and is the the only original narrow-gauge railroad surviving east of the Rocky Mountains.

Its shops complex dates to the 1880s and was expanded between 1905 and 1907.

Housed in the roundhouse in Rockhill Furnace are six narrow-gauge steam locomotives built for the EBT by Philadelphia’s Baldwin Locomotive Works between 1911 and 1920.

The roundhouse also contains an M-1 gas-electric car built in 1927 with plans and parts from Philadelphia’s J.G. Brill Companyand Westinghouse Electric.

The EBT passenger car fleet is believed to date to the 1890s.

Track remains in place over nearly the entire 33-mile main line between Robertsdale and the former PRR connection in Mount Union.

Norfolk Southern now operates the former PRR mainline between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

The railroad’s new website is eastbroadtop.com

Posner Testing Rail Transit Concept

March 8, 2018

A Pittsburgh-based railroad investor wants to bring surplus English subway cars to the United States for possible use as low-cost public transit on low-density freight routes.

Henry Posner III, who heads Railroad Development Corporation, acquired 150 former London Underground D78-series surface cars and plans to convert them to diesel or battery power.

Posner told Trains magazine that he plans to start a demonstrate project on the East Coast in what he called a “pop-up” rail transit option.

He envisions it serving smaller urban areas, cities, or areas of cities cannot afford or have not considered rail transit.

To make such service work it would need to operate at times of day when freight trains were not using the rails.

Some cities have expressed interest in the concept, but none have committed to it yet, Posner said.

Posner believes his concept will “change that perception of cost” of rail transit because trains can be tried out on a route for far less than the cost of a consultant’s study of proposed rail service.

Although his concept may not be a long-term solution in every trial, he said the service can help rail transit service get started. If the market is there, the route might grow into more conventional rail transit service.

Posner to Speak at Erie Banquet in April

March 24, 2017

Railroad executive Henry Posner III will speak at the Lake Shore Railway Historical Society banquet on April 8 in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Posner is the chairman of Railroad Development Corporation, which is based in Pittsburgh and serves as the parent company of the Iowa Interstate Railroad as well as a portfolio of international railway operations.

The banquet will be held at St. James Place, 2622 Buffalo Road, and begins at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person. There will be a buffet-style dinner.

For ticket information, visit lakeshorerailway.com.

RDC Increases stake in Eurorail

January 16, 2015

Pittsburgh-based Railroad Development Corp. has increased its Eurorail holdings to 25 percent.

A rail-based logistics company headquartered in Belgium, Eurorail teamed up with RDC in 2012 in a 50-50 investment in freight rail feeder operator RégioRail, which controls four feeder rail operations in France.

“Europe is a challenging and fragmented market but with numerous niches representing opportunity for rail freight,” said RDC Chairman Henry Posner III in a news release. “This investment represents an additional commitment to the European market based on our confidence in our partners.”

In addition to RégioRail, Railroad Development’s portfolio currently includes rail freight operations in Peru and Colombia, European intercity passenger operator Hamburg-Köln-Express and U.K. passenger rolling stock producer Vivarail. The company also owns U.S. regional railroad Iowa Interstate.