Rail Link, Inc. (MRL), I&M Rail Link (IMRL) and LaBarge, Inc. have jointly
announced the launch of a new highway-rail safety program that will help the
railroads remotely monitor active highway-rail grade crossing signals and
reduce potential field problems over 2,200 miles of track.
The program calls for the installation of the ScadaNET Network(TM), an
innovative rail crossing monitoring system from LaBarge that utilizes wireless
communication from more than 500 crossing signals in six states to the railroads.
"Public safety has always been our top priority," says Steve Griffin,
manager, signals and communications for both railroads. "Whenever we have
a crossing malfunction, we want to receive information as soon as possible
and one of the best ways we have found is using the ScadaNET Network(TM)."
The ScadaNET Network(TM) will provide the railroads with prompt crossing
alarm and equipment status information, including the early warning of potential
equipment malfunctions. Important status information will be delivered from
remote CellularRTU(TM) field units at each grade crossing simultaneously
to select railroad officials and maintenance personnel using a variety of
means including the Internet, e-mail, pagers and facsimile in addition to
the direct data link to the railroads.
Some of the potential problems the system can detect include commercial
power failures, gates that are down when there are no trains, low battery
charges, and crossing signal malfunctions.
"The cost and functional advantages of the ScadaNET Network(TM) really
benefit users like MRL and IMRL," says Tom Hilleary, vice president - business
development for LaBarge's Network Technologies Group. "These progressive
railroads have operations that are geographically wide-spread and the system
allows their signal engineering organization and field maintenance staff
to confirm status of a distant crossing over the Internet. Travel times
are cut significantly, maintenance efficiency increases, and response times
to field problems are substantially reduced through the prompt notification
that the system provides."
MRL and IMRL began testing the ScadaNET Network(TM) units in 1999 at various
highway-rail grade crossings throughout the two railroad systems. Sixty
units have been installed; approximately 25 to 30 units are expected to
be installed annually on each line.
"The units are performing very well and we are pleased with the system,"
says Griffin. "Installation was easy and the monthly operating cost is very
MRL and IMRL are replacing current equipment that records events at highway-rail
crossings and transmits the information over phone wires, costing the railroad
approximately $50 per month per crossing. The ScadaNET Network(TM) operates
through the cellular telephone network's control channel. There are no monthly
telephone fees or cellular access charges. Alarm notifications are accomplished
for less than the cost of a public telephone call.
Additionally, the system operates 24 hours a day and employs multiple
layers of security to fully protect data from unauthorized access.
Montana Rail Link and I&M Rail Link are two of three railroads operating
within the Washington Group of Companies.
Montana Rail Link, Inc. ( http://www.montanarail.com
) serves more than 100 stations in Montana, Idaho and Washington on 937
miles of track. It was originally part of the transcontinental railroad
completed by the Northern Pacific in 1883. The main line is a major corridor
for rail traffic between the Central and Southern states and the Pacific
Northwest and Canada. It is headquartered in Missoula, Mont. Equipment includes
172 locomotives and 2,264 railcars.
In May, 1999, MRL received the E.H. Harriman Memorial Awards Institute
gold medal designating its performance in 1998 as the safest shortline railroad
in the country. In addition, it has received a certificate of commendation
for two or more years of continuous improvement to its safety record.
Established in 1997, I&M Rail Link ( http://www.imrail.com
) is a regional railroad serving customers directly in the states of Iowa,
Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Connections with all Class
I carriers are conveniently made through gateways at Chicago, Minneapolis
and Kansas City for both carload and intermodal service. The majority of
carloads handled consist of grain, grain products, chemicals, iron and steel
scrap, and coal. Headquartered in Davenport, Iowa, IMRL employees 750 people.
The ScadaNET Network(TM) is a product of LaBarge, Inc.( www.labarge.com
) which provides customers in diverse industrial markets with sophisticated
electronic products and services through three business activities: contract
electronics design and manufacturing services, wireless data communications
products and network services, and turnkey engineering and construction
services for the wireless telecommunications industry. Headquartered in
St. Louis, LaBarge has operations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma
Statements contained in this release relating to LaBarge, Inc. which are
not historical facts are forward-looking statements within the meaning of
the federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements involve risks and
uncertainties. Future events and LaBarge, Inc.'s actual results could differ
materially from those contemplated by those forward-looking statements.
Important factors which could cause LaBarge's actual results to differ materially
from those projected in, or inferred by, forward-looking statements are
(but are not necessarily limited to) the following: the impact of increasing
competition or deterioration of economic conditions in LaBarge's markets;
cutbacks in defense spending by the U.S. Government; lack of acceptance
by the market for the BusCall product; lack of acceptance by the market
for the products of LaBarge's Network Technologies Group; unexpected increases
in the cost of raw materials, labor and other resources necessary to operate
the LaBarge's business; the availability, amount, type and cost of financing
for LaBarge and any changes to that financing.
La Barge, Inc.