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LaBarge ScadaNET Network Selected For Precedent-Setting Highway-Rail Safety Program

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Montana Rail Link and I&M Rail Link Launch New Highway-Rail Safety Program

  21 January, 2000
 Montana 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 economical."

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 and Texas.

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.

Source:
La Barge, Inc.


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