Argus Awards Austin Western Railroad, Capitol Aggregates and Capital Metro Transit Authority Prestigious Win-Win Prize

May 27, 2010

WASHINGTON, May 27 /PRNewswire/ — Argus Rail Business, a specialist business publication covering the freight rail industry published by Argus Media, has named the Austin Western Railroad, Capitol Aggregates and Capital Metro Transit Authority as the first-place winners of its prestigious Win-Win award.

For the first time, Argus is presenting additional awards to two more strong partnerships. The second-place award will go to PSL North America and CSX while the third-place award will go to BNSF Railway, the Montana Grain Growers Association, and the Montana Farm Bureau Federation.

The awards were announced at today’s annual meeting of the North American Rail Shippers Association in Washington, DC.

Launched in 1998, the annual award is given to railroads, shippers and organizations that develop innovative partnerships leading to improved service, efficiency and other mutually beneficial service advancements.

This year’s first-place award recognizes how the three organizations cooperated on a system to operate both freight and passenger railroad operations over the same track while developing a profitable new aggregate shipping service.

“Watco Companies Inc and the Austin Western Railroad are honored to share this award with Capital Metro Transit Authority of Austin, Texas, and our largest customer, Capitol Aggregates,” said Allan Roach, Watco’s senior vice president of business development.

“This award underscores the importance of working together to find solutions that benefit the two parties involved, as well as the community,” said Joel Galassini, the vice president of sales and marketing for Capitol Aggregates.

“We greatly appreciate the recognition of a truly win-win arrangement with Capital Metro, the Austin Western Railroad and Capitol Aggregates,” said Doug Allen, Capital Metro’s interim president and chief executive officer. “This demonstrates our commitment to add value to the region.”

A subsidiary of Watco Companies, Austin Western Railroad (AWRR), leased an unprofitable 155-mile rail line in Austin, Texas, along which owner Capital Metro Transit Authority (CMTA) was planning to launch passenger rail service.

AWRR promised to make the line profitable within two years. Capitol Aggregates (Cap Ag) was the line’s largest customer and wanted to increase shipments while at the same time reducing its reliance on trucks for delivery.

AWRR and Cap Ag worked together to design a new $6mn unit train unloading site along the line that would handle approximately 15,000 carloads annually. That reduces Cap Ag’s reliance on highways by 60,000 trucks/year while delivering aggregates in half the time.

Meanwhile, CMTA was preparing to launch passenger rail service during the day along the same line the freight would use. The shortline worked with CMTA and its customers to institute a new scheduling model to coordinate freight and commuter rail service within specified windows.

Commuter service began this year, operating primarily during a 12-hour daytime window. That limited freight shipments to the other 12 hours per day. Operating passenger and freight railroads over the same lines is a growing trend, spurred by recent federal stimulus funds for traditional and high-speed passenger transit projects.

Despite fewer hours for freight movements, AWRR has profitably moved all its traffic during the limited window. Cap Ag’s shipments on rail have grown and are expected to provide approximately 40,000 carload shipments/year during the next four years.

Argus’ second-place award goes to PSL North America and CSX for the development of rail service at a new pipe manufacturing facility located just outside Bay St Louis, Mississippi.

PSL North America opened a large diameter pipe manufacturing facility for the onshore natural gas industry and determined that rail was the best transportation option to distribute the pipe. The plant’s first major contract was as a supplier for a 450-mile pipeline into Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. CSX worked with PSL on identifying sites along the pipeline route with adequate storage space. CSX also provides larger railcars, enabling PSL to maximize production by making longer pipe lengths. CSX has also held workshops at PSL to train employees in safe railcar loading practices and efficient rail load designs.

Argus’ third-place award goes to BNSF Railway, the Montana Grain Growers Association (MGGA), and the Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) for an arbitration agreement they jointly established to resolve rate and service disputes.

BNSF, the MGGA and the MFBF established an agreement that gives farmers legal standing in rail rate disputes and sets up a formal system to mediate and arbitrate rail freight rates. They also set up weekly meetings to discuss a variety of issues including rates, service and equipment availability. The first formal mediation of grain rates between BNSF and grain growers took place in December 2009 and resulted in a significant rate reduction for a number of customers. The case was filed, prepared and completed in two weeks, which was a goal of the program.

“We are delighted to recognize these companies for their excellent co-operation and achievements over the past year. They are worthy recipients of the Argus Win-Win award,” Argus chairman and chief executive Adrian Binks said.

About Argus Media

Argus is a leading provider of price assessments, business intelligence and market data on the global crude and products, natural gas, coal, electricity, emissions and transportation industries. It is headquartered in London and has offices in Houston, Washington, New York, Portland, Johannesburg, Dubai, Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing, Sydney, Moscow, Astana, Kiev, Santiago and other key centres of the energy industry. Argus was founded in 1970 and is a closely held UK-registered company. Learn more at www.argusmedia.com.

For further information contact Tammy Tiedt in Houston at +1 713 968 0000, or email marketing@argusmedia.com.

SOURCE Argus Media

Source: newswire

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