Freight Rail News Briefs

Rail trespassers to face sticky thicket

Using a relatively simple method to fight a potentially deadly problem, Union Pacific will plant hundreds of prickly rose bushes and barberries along its North Line in Chicago to prevent trespassers from crossing its tracks.

Racing against Mother Nature's wintry wrath and a year-end deadline to spend federal funds, Union Pacific crews will dig holes in Highland Park and Lake Forest for 300 bushes that will be put along stretches of track near the municipalities' high schools.

The $6,500 in plantings are thanks to a federally funded pilot program that the Illinois Commerce Commission hopes will create an effective and aesthetically pleasing solution to a deadly problem: trains hitting pedestrians crossing the tracks.

While it appears to be a simple task, implementing it was no easy matter. Officials spent months consulting with botanists and railroad officials to pick the right shrub and the best places to plant them.

Ultimately, officials chose barberries and the white, pink and purple flowering rugosa rose bushes for their hardiness, height and most importantly, dense thorny branches that should be a menace to trespassers.

(The Chicago Tribune)

KCS buys control of Mexican railroad

Kansas City Southern (KCS) has agreed to buy a controlling stake in Mexico's busiest railroad in a deal worth at least $550 million, ending a bitter legal dispute with Mexican company TMM.

TMM said on Dec. 14 it was selling its 41 percent stake in railroad group TFM to KCS for $200 million in cash, 18 million shares and a $47 million two-year promissory note.

A similar deal was first reached in 2003, but TMM backed out, sparking a legal battle between the companies.

The amended acquisition pact for TFM would help increase rail competition and give shippers moving goods between the United States and Mexico an alternative to trucks, the companies said.

(From Reuters)

Railroads to mirror 2005 U.S. manufacturing output

The performance of the nation's railroad industry will follow U.S. manufacturing output higher in 2005, with the capacity and efficiency of the rail system still issues, according to Fitch Ratings.

The railroads will most likely return excess cash next year to shareholders, as they have in the past, rather than reduce debt load.

The report said coal volumes, which account for 21 percent of the revenue at the major Class 1 railroads Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern, would remain robust. That's because electric utilities' demand for coal will stay strong while prices for natural gas remain elevated.

(CBS MarketWatch)

Louisville seeks better rail yard security

Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson is calling on the federal government to tighten requirements for railroad facilities where especially hazardous chemicals are parked or stored.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation officials, the mayor also joined police and firefighters across the nation in opposing efforts to eliminate placards that identify hazardous materials inside railroad cars.

And Abramson said cars that contain toxic chemicals should not be allowed to park indefinitely in rail yards and spurs near industrial areas.

His comments were among those from dozens of individuals, groups and businesses that the Transportation Department recently made public in response to several potential changes in railroad security regulations.

But the government has so far declined to release written comments from the railroad industry.

Rail security has been a point of contention for years among some Louisville residents who live near rail yards, but increasingly since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The mayor wrote that the community's greatest risk from toxic chemicals is from "routine handling, transfer and storage of these materials" and not international terrorists.

(From the Louisville Courier-Journal.)

CN, UP routing agreement avoids Chicago congestion

Canadian National Railway and Union Pacific Railroad have reached an agreement to streamline their exchange of rail traffic at major gateways to reduce rail congestion in Chicago.

The two large railways said November 23 they will use three of each other's yards to direct rail traffic flows through the most efficient interchange locations, to improve transit times and save costs.

Rather than going through Chicago, the continent's largest rail hub, the two railways will exchange some of their traffic in Superior, Wis., Salem, Ill., and in Memphis, Tenn.

CN and Canadian Pacific Railway have also announced recent track and asset sharing agreements.

The new CN-UP routing protocol will be implemented over a three-month period.

(The Canadian Press)



© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen