American Railroads

News each weekday of American railroads. Our focus is on freight rail, but Amtrak and commuter rail are also essential ingredients. Nothing published on holidays.

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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bombardier completes its ‘Traxx’ line;

launches maintenance line

Bombardier Transportation unveiled its first diesel-electric locomotive in its TRAXX family of products. Its called the P 160 DE version. The builder said at the Innotrans conference the locomotive design has 25 customers worldwide

In 2005 the Lower Saxony local passenger transport company, LVNG, ordered 11 P160 DE locomotives. They will be delivered in late 2007 and go into service to pull Bombardier double-deck coaches.

The leasing company CB Rail also has ordered ten Traxx DE Locomotives – the F 140 version. There are now orders placed both for passenger and freight train operation.

The engines feature identical crash-proof locomotive bodies and machine compartment dimensions, brakes, trucks, traction motors, three-phase AC traction, push-pull bars, engineer’s cabs and control desks as well as communication, diagnosis and train protection systems.

The Traxx DE, which weighs 82 tons and produces 2.2 MW power, shares up to 75 per cent of common parts with the electric locomotives of the same platform.

Bombardier designed the engines for freight and passenger service, and is equipped for the interoperable European train protection system, ETCS.

Elsewhere, Bombardier launched “ORBITA” yesterday. The company is heralding it as “The future of maintenance.” The aim is to help operators increase fleet utilization, improve reliability and availability, reduce in-service failures, and ultimately improve the passengers’ overall journey experience.

André Navarri, President of Bombardier Transportation, launched the product at the Innotrans conference in Berlin on Wednesday.

He said the plan is to redefine predictive maintenance in the rail sector.

“We brought in experts from the aerospace industry with specific relevant experience to help us to implement a leading edge approach to predicting maintenance requirements.”

Another rail intermodal record is set

For the third time this year, the weekly record for rail intermodal traffic has been broken on U.S. railroads, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported yesterday.

Intermodal volume of 257,526 trailer or containers during the week ended September 16 broke a record set just two weeks earlier when railroads moved 253,168 trailers and containers. This year’s volume was 5.2 percent higher than in the comparable week last year. Container volume rose 9.1 percent for the week while trailers volume declined by 6.5 percent.

Carload freight totaled 345,676 cars, down 1.2 percent from last year, with loadings up 2.1 percent in the West but off 5.2 percent in the East. The comparison week from last year was the busiest single week in all of 2005.

Total volume was estimated at 34.8 billion ton-miles, up 0.3 percent from 2005.

Among individual carload commodities, coal loadings were up 5.0 percent from last year while metallic ores gained 11.4 percent and metals rose 6.1 percent.

On the downside, primary forest produced were down 16.9 percent, lumber was off 16.7 percent and motor vehicles and equipment fell 15.3 percent. In all, 12 of 19 commodity groups were down from last year.

Cumulative volume for the first 37 weeks of 2006 totaled 12,452,763 carloads, up 1.3 percent from 2005; 8,688,771 trailers or containers, up 6.4 percent; and total volume of an estimated 1.24 trillion ton-miles, up 2.6 percent from last year.

On Canadian railroads, during the week ended September 16 carload traffic totaled 77,382 cars, down 1.7 percent from last year while intermodal volume of 47,841 trailers or containers was up 2.6 percent from last year.

Cumulative originations for the first 37 weeks of 2006 on the Canadian railroads totaled 2,754,706 carloads, down 1.1 percent from last year, and 1,664,466 trailers and containers, up 5.8 percent from last year.

Combined cumulative volume for the first 37 weeks of 2006 on 13 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 15,207,469 carloads, up 0.9 percent from last year and 10,353,237 trailers and containers, up 6.3 percent from last year.

The AAR also said that during the week ended September 16 Mexican railroad Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM) reported total carload volume of 12,037 cars, up 4.5 percent from last year. KCSM reported total intermodal volume of 4,339 trailers or containers, up 21.9 percent from the 37th week of 2005.

For the first 37 weeks of 2006, KCSM reported total cumulative volume of 418,713 cars, down 4.2 percent from last year, and 146,075 trailers or containers, down 4.2 percent.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for 87 percent of U.S. carload freight and 96 percent of rail intermodal volume. When the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads are included, the figures increase to 96 percent and 100 percent. The Canadian railroads reporting to the AAR account for 91 percent of Canadian rail traffic. Railroads provide more than 40 percent of U.S. intercity freight transportation, more than any other mode, and rail traffic figures are regarded as an important economic indicator.

The AAR is online at

East Side Tunnel

The tunnel protrudes

from under Benefit Street,

its western portal

gaping like a mouth

without a tongue.

Where once two parallel, curved

and splendidly banked tracks lay,

now only a slim strand remains,

and rests in peace under snow.

Three red eyes

in a vertical row

once guarded the way

of westward manifests;

these stare eastward

toward trains

that never come.

In recent days,

the middle retina

has gone black,

like a dark stage Klieg

after a final performance.

Twin lights


eastward movements

blinked their last

ten years or more ago.

The rails are rusty streaks

beneath the snow;

Spikes rest in gaping holes

in half-rotted ties.

Rails are broken.

No one cares.

The switch,

leading to the small

post office yard,

and the motor that once

turned the points to and fro

at the signalman’s command,

is buried under tons

of nature’s beauty.

Brown and black weeds,

from last summer’s blooms,

stand hardened, frozen, cold, dead

between the ties

and beside the track,

tops timidly protruding

above frozen water.

Once, it was a ballasted, manicured,

well-maintained branch line

for people to ride atop.

It ran away from Track Four

at the city’s Union Station,

blushing scenic scenery:

thorned, greened bushes

held red, pink, white roses.

Once, a track walker,

who spoke with a broken dialect,

would daily eyeball these rails

and fishplates.

One mile down the stem,

the eastern portal

gawked at the Seekonk River

where yellow jacks, snake eyes,

redboards, home signals

and distant aspects

urged safe passage

for road hog

and yard goat alike.

The ops at S.S. K-315,

Warren or Bristol

would hand the C&E

the green flimsies,

and everyone took his turn

to take the hole

or go in the hole;

The varnish got the highball first.

Once, overhead wires

powered juice jacks;

later, steam was king.

Once, the pride of the fleet

would glide through here,

laden with summer visitors

going to Vanity Fair,

India Point, Bristol

or places in between.

A hurricane fixed all that.

In another era,

orange freight hogs

grunted here, engineers

swearing at them to pull

the tonnage over the hill.

Each stack of rust

pushed or pulled a grimy red buggy,

hauling the tonnage

that turned the wheels

of Rhode Island industry.

The markers of fallen flags

once graced this bore:




and, in later years, PC.

Even CR, AMT and P&W have rolled away.

The concrete face

is expressionless, emotionless.

It feels nothing. Only those

who played inside her

when young cared,

and they, too, are gone.

Leo King

From time-to-time, AR publishes literary rail-related content. – Ed.


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