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World rail freight news round-up

29 Apr 2019

OmniTRAX's Stockton Terminal & Eastern Railroad in California has begun using a Tier 4 compliant 1 050 hp Knoxville Locomotive Works SE10B T4L locomotive with an MTU 2000 V12 engine. It was purchased with the assistance of a grant from the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Central District, which incentivises the replacement of older locomotives with more energy-efficient types.

Aurizon has launched the ‘Don’t put your life on the line’ public safety campaign to reduce trespassing by highlighting that near-misses can have a 'traumatic and lasting' impact on train drivers. The campaign is particularly targeted at anti-coal protesters, with the Australian operator saying on-track protests are now one of its primary safety concerns. 'We don’t want our drivers bearing the emotional burden for something that could have been prevented, and potentially being so traumatised they can’t return to work or drive a train again', said CEO Andrew Harding.

UTLC ERA signed co-operation agreements with two EU partners during the TransRussia 2019 logistics exhibition on April 16. It is to work with ŽSSK Cargo to facilitate container shipments between China and Slovakia and vice versa, and the two companies intend to conduct a detailed analysis of the potential customer base and its needs. An agreement with Lithuania's LG covers the development of containerised postal traffic from China to the Vilnius intermodal terminal.

PKP Cargo has announced that it will set up a subsidiary to manage its terminals. PKP Cargo Terminale is to have its headquarters at the Medyka-Żurawica logistics centre near the Ukrainian border.

On April 23 Canadian Pacific Railway announced first-quarter revenues of C$1·77bn and diluted earnings per share of C$3·09, or C$2·79 on an adjusted diluted EPS basis. ‘This past winter was one of the most challenging in my railroading career’, said President & CEO Keith Creel. ‘I applaud our employees for their resiliency in overcoming loss and pushing through extraordinary conditions and challenges throughout February and March. Our commitment to precision scheduled railroading enabled a strong recovery, and gives us a solid foundation moving forward.’

The UK’s Rail Freight Group has welcomed the National Infrastructure Commission’s Freight Study final report. This concludes that it will be possible to decarbonise rail freight by 2050, but that the industry cannot be expected to deliver this without government intervention. ‘With battery and hydrogen technologies in their infancy on the rail network, and the extent of electrification still limited, the industry cannot be expected to deliver the necessary investment without the backing of government’, said RFG Director General Maggie Simpson.

Norfolk Southern reported Q1 net income of $677m on April 24, up 23% year-on-year as a result of a 16% increase in income from rail operations and an increase in other income. Diluted earnings per share were up 30% to a Q1 record $2·51. 'We set company records for many financial measures in the first quarter, while improving our service product for our customers', said Chairman, President & CEO James A Squires. 'We are intensely focused on the execution of the initiatives in our strategic plan that will drive shareholder value.'

Regular transport of liquefied gas from Kazakhstan to China via Dostyk is to begin in May, after an initial train ran this month. The potential traffic is estimated at up to 1 million tonnes per year. KTZ’s freight business and China Railway Corp’s Urumqi region have reached an agreement on handling the traffic, which is classified as high-risk cargo and uses specialised tank wagons from China.

On April 18 Union Pacific reported Q1 net income of $1·4bn, or $1·93 per diluted share, up from $1·3bn and $1·68 per in Q1 2018. Wagonloads were down 2% year-on-year, with volume increases in industrial and premium more than offset by declines in energy and agricultural products. 'We delivered record first quarter financial results driven by improved operating performance, while dealing with significant weather challenges', said Chairman, President & CEO Lance Fritz. 'Unified Plan 2020 created a more resilient and robust network, allowing us to quickly return to normal operations.'