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Rail Roundup: STB member sworn in; Wabtec acquires Indian company

Karen J. Hedlund takes Surface Transportation Board seat

Surface Transportation Board swears in new member

Karen J. Hedlund has been sworn in as the fifth and latest member of the Surface Transportation Board.

The U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination on Dec. 15, and the board swore Hedlund in on Monday. She replaced Ann Begeman, whose term expired in December 2020 although she stayed on the board in holdover status through 2021. 

Hedlund served as chief counsel and deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration from 2010 to 2014, and she served as chief counsel of the Federal Highway Administration from 2009 to 2010. Since her tenure at FRA, she has advised governmental authorities and private investors on the development of passenger rail and transportation-oriented development projects, STB said. 

As a legal adviser to government agencies, private lenders and investors, she has counseled parties on infrastructure projects, including rail, transit, highway, airport, water and energy facilities. 

Wabtec acquires Indian friction products manufacturer

Wabtec (NYSE: WAB) has acquired MASU, a New Delhi, India-headquartered friction products manufacturer for the automotive and rail industry.

The acquisition, which is worth $34 million and subject to customary closing conditions, will expand Wabtec’s installed base and accelerate growth across its barake product portfolio, the company said Tuesday.

“MASU is a strategic acquisition for Wabtec that complements our product portfolio and builds upon our leadership position in the railway friction market,” said Lilian Leroux, president of Wabtec’s transit business. “It aligns with our growth strategy to provide operators with innovative, scalable products that increase productivity, utilization and capacity. We have now state-of-the-art friction manufacturing capabilities on every continent and will better serve operators and car builders around the world, reducing operating costs while improving performance.”

Said Sujatha Narayan, senior vice president and regional leader for Wabtec in India, “We have a strong brakes portfolio in India supplying brake systems on Indian Railways’ locomotives and LHB coaches, as well as metros. This acquisition will strengthen Wabtec’s position as a ‘Made in India’ manufacturer, provide an attractive offering for customers and open new opportunities for regional and international expansion.”

Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern submit safety integration plan

Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) and Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) have submitted a plan to the STB describing how the two Class I railroads will combine their operations post-merger.

The plan, dated Dec. 28, is available here.

According to CP and KCS, the plan was developed in accordance with the regulations of the Federal Railroad Administration and it describes how CP and KCS will combine their operations safely for the first three years following their proposed merger. 

The plan addresses “corporate culture, training, operating practices (including operating rules, alcohol/drug, qualification and certification of locomotive engineers, and hours of service laws); motive power and equipment; signal and train control; track safety standards and bridge structures; hazardous materials; dispatching operations; highway-rail grade crossing systems; personnel staffing; capital investment; and information systems compatibility,” attorneys representing CP and KCS said in the filing. “Each section of the SIP will also include the requisite discussion of integration issues.”

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.