Monday, November 30, 2009

Global Rail Freight News Update

More Rail Car Orders in Australia and Ukraine,US Report Demonstrates Better Fuel Efficiency, Indian Freight Timetable
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – UKRAINE – US – INDIA – CANADA - UK After our hopeful report of last week demonstrating an increase in rolling stock orders comes news that Aussie Locomotive maker United Group Rail (UGL) have orders to design and build ten locomotives and three hundred wagons for Swiss owned Xstrata Coal demonstrating their confidence in the market. Simultaneously the good news that the Kryukovsky Railcar Plant (KVSZ) in Ukraine,has now resumed a full five day per week schedule. The management report orders for a minimum of 400 rail freight cars per month as opposed to the average of less than 200 per month it has managed so far this year.

The US Federal Railroad Administration report, issued earlier this month, demonstrates the development of cleaner locomotives, more efficient cargo solutions and information technology implementation and its effect on fuel, and consequently, emission, efficiency over the long term. The study indicates that fuel use is down over 20% overall for each freight mile travelled due to less empty running and the improvements in equipment from the early 1990's to 2006.

In further US news the often snow bound trans Siskiyous line between Montague and Weed, closed by owners Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad when they failed to push through freight rate increases last year, may open again if a local plan is successful. Together with town authorities in Ashland there is a bid to buy or lease the freight only line by the newly created Siskiyou Regional Railroad Authority, which will apply for $20 million from Oregon and Californian State funds.

Indian Railways, who have faced a barrage of complaints from freight customers, particularly container carriers, have agreed to produce a freight timetable, similar to that available for passenger services, which will, for a fee, grant assured delivery times to customers. IR say they will ensure trains average 100 kilometres per hour or more and stick to advised transit schedules. The first stage will apply specifically to container trains and is the first step in what IR are calling their “Premier” rail freight service for shipping goods across the subcontinent more efficiently.

Saturday saw talks between Canadian National Rail and Union representatives collapse and the staff down tools for the foreseeable future. The strike will only affect freight traffic as management will step in to protect passenger services. The engineers are represented by the Teamsters Union which is objecting to contractual changes CN apparently wish to impose regarding distances covered by the crews and wages. The staff affected have been without contracts all this year after failure to agree terms initially. Currently guards on CN must not exceed around 1000 kilometres a month more than the 6000 which is the engineers maximum. The company wishes the two groups to both be limited by the higher mileage.

In the UK the enquiry into the proposed St Albans multi modal freight terminal continues today in the bid to determine whether or not the project goes ahead. The Council and developers are currently locking horns over the necessity for the facilities and if they need to be in the area, or could in fact be anywhere more suitable in the Eastern Region. There are also concerns that trains will exceed the provisionally planned dimensions. A full report will follow when the matter is decided.

Photo – Courtesy of GUBSKA Transport Services, Ukraine