` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
May 2, 2016:

BLET AND UTU REJECTED TENTATIVE CONTRACTS WITH NJ TRANSIT: Both the UTU Local 60, representing conductors, and the BLET, representing locomotive engineers, have rejected a tentative agreement with NJ Transit concerning a new contract. The new contract would have granted a 21% retroactive salary increase, while requiring employees to contribute up to $160 per month for health insurance coverage. According to NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder "The two unions representing the conductors and engineers have the right, under the Federal Railway Labor Act, to request the resumption of negotiations. In the event the two unions make that request, NJ Transit will meet with them. Under the earlier agreements, there is an additional 60 day cooling off period in effect now, through the end of June, that precludes strikes or lockouts." Snyder had mentioned that both ratification votes failed by narrow margins. She also stated "Although NJ Transit is disappointed in these two rejections, it is heartened that all 14 other unions ratified their contracts by significant majorities. These 14 contracts have been finally approved by the Board of NJ Transit and are now final and in effect." (NJ.com, Randy Kotuby - posted 5/02)

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR BAKER REVIEWS PROGRESS OF MBTA INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS: Governor Charlie Baker today visited a Keolis work site in Ashland to review the progress on infrastructure upgrades the MBTA is making as part of a larger effort the MBTA, its Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) and leadership are making to improve service, access, accountability and reliability for riders and taxpayers. In Ashland and along the Framingham-Worcester Commuter Rail Line, the MBTA is replacing over 26,000 rail ties between March and early June, to allow more efficient travel and lift speed restrictions due to heat that have been in place since the MBTA obtained the line in 2012. To date, over 10,000 of the 26,000 ties along the line have been installed and put the project three weeks ahead of schedule. "Riders and taxpayers deserve and depend on a cost-effective and world-class transit system that can get them to work, school or wherever they need to be in a safe and timely way," said Governor Baker. "Since last winter, the MBTA and its new leadership have undertaken a renewed focus on the important work of reducing costs and investing in infrastructure improvements to the core system that will ultimately mean more reliable public transit for commuters." The MBTA has invested over $600 million this fiscal year for State of Good Repair deferred maintenance, including an $83 million winter resiliency program, system-wide station improvements, and track, signal, and power system upgrades and the MBTA's Fiscal Year 2016 capital investment plan calls for over $1.05 billion in long-term infrastructure, vehicle and station upgrades, including 325 new busses to replace the MBTA fleet. Additionally, a $104 million effort to refurbish 86 Green Line trolley cars is underway and the MBTA has hired a new Chief Procurement Officer to ensure timely and cost-effective investments. "Access to reliable transportation plays a crucial role in the lives of people throughout the Commonwealth, and while we still have much work to do, the Baker-Polito Administration, MassDOT and the MBTA remain dedicated to the goal of improving the transit system for riders," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. As part of the winter resiliency work, nearly 70,000 linear feet of brand new third rail between JFK/UMass Station and Quincy on the Red Line and more than 36,000 linear feet of heater element infrastructure that includes conduit, wiring, and junction boxes have been installed to support the Red Line's third rail heating systems. Along the Orange Line, more than 200,000 linear feet of new wiring for third rail heating and 5,321 linear feet of snow fencing have been installed. "We continue to invest capital dollars to improve services for our riders, including the refurbishing of Green Line trolley cars and winter resiliency work to reduce weather impacts on the Red and Orange lines," said MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola. "This work is essential to preserving the integrity of our vehicles and service." In June 2015, Governor Charlie Baker appointed a Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) to help oversee the system's operations and finances and increased the MBTA's direct aid in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget by 50% to $187 million, a historic level continued into Fiscal Year 2017. The FMCB, MassDOT and MBTA have since increased the MBTA's capital spend capacity to a record $799 million in Fiscal Year 2015 and made progress in reducing the Fiscal Year 2017 budget deficit from $242 million to $80 million; increasing own-source revenue by $10 million; reducing employee overtime hours and costs by over 50% with new leave and attendance policies; reducing dropped bus trips by 40% and energy costs by $12.5 million. The MBTA is the fifth-largest transit agency in the U.S., serving over 1 million passengers a day. (MBTA- posted 4/29)

FRA ANNOUNCES $25 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR RAIL INFRASCTURE SAFETY UPGRADE: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that it is accepting applications from local governments, states and railroads for $25 million in competitive grants to increase rail safety.  Applicants can request funds for safety improvements to railroad infrastructure, including railroad crossings, track, tunnels, bridges, yards and other areas.  The funding is made available from the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act that funds DOT. “As the country’s population increases, rail will play a larger role in transporting more people and more freight.  To do that safely, we must invest in our rail infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “These funds will help address some of the improvements that are essential for safe, reliable, and efficient railroad operations, and I encourage applications that achieve the maximum benefits possible with this limited funding.” FRA will accept applications until 5 PM EDT on June 14, 2016.  “To safely move tons of freight and millions of passengers each day in this country, we need to continually invest in safety. These dollars will help get us closer to that goal,” FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg said. “We hope to receive applications that can make these limited funds go as far as possible.” The Railroad Safety Infrastructure Improvements Grant program can fund safety improvements to railroad infrastructure, but the focus of a project must be safety improvements.  This includes the acquisition, improvement, or rehabilitation of intermodal facilities; improvements to track, bridges, and tunnels; upgrades to railroad crossings; and the separation of railroad crossings and roads. FRA requested a total of $2.3 billion for rail infrastructure safety upgrades as part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal. This includes $520 million for competitive local rail facilities and safety project grants and $1.8 billion for competitive rail infrastructure and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance grants. More details about this funding opportunity will be available on April 29 at www.grants.gov (FRA - posted 4/28)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 23, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Apr. 23, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 491,946 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Apr. 23 were 230,599 carloads, down 17.1 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 261,347 containers and trailers, down 6.3 percent compared to 2015. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 23.3 percent to 9,515 carloads; chemicals, up 1.6 percent to 30,858 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 1.3 percent to 19,138 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 40.1 percent to 58,837 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 24.9 percent to 11,348 carloads; and grain, down 7.9 percent to 18,340 carloads. For the first 16 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,844,016 carloads, down 14.3 percent from the same point last year; and 4,109,691 intermodal units, down 0.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2016 was 7,953,707 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Apr. 23, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 315,373 carloads, down 16.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 333,142 intermodal units, down 5.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 648,515 carloads and intermodal units, down 11 percent. North American rail volume for the first 16 weeks of 2016 was 10,433,247 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.1 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 68,351 carloads for the week, down 16.3 percent, and 60,979 intermodal units, down 2.3 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 16 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,056,046 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,423 carloads for the week, down 0.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,816 intermodal units, down 0.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 16 weeks of 2016 was 423,494 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.6 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 4/27)

FAREWELL TO AEM-7 FANTRIP: Since 1980, the iconic AEM-7 electric locomotives have distinguished themselves carrying passengers between Washington, Philadelphia, New York, New Haven, Boston, Harrisburg and everywhere in between. Together with the introduction and growth of Acela Express, they have built on the legacies of the Pennsylvania and New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroads as the Northeast Corridor has expanded into the 21st century as a first-class passenger railroad. Now, after 37 years and over 220 million miles of service, they are being replaced by the new, advanced next-generation Siemens Cities Sprinter locomotives. It is time to give a proper sendoff to true workhorses of America's Passenger Railroad. On Saturday, June 18, 2016, Amtrak will salute these remarkable machines with a special Farewell to the AEM-7 Excursion. Be sure to join us and be part of a celebration of railroad history. The Trip: The special train will depart from Washington - Union Station, DC at 9:10 am, and operate north on the Northeast Corridor passing through Baltimore, Wilmington, and other intermediate cities to Philadelphia. (There will be no intermediate passenger station stops. An en route photo opportunity** is planned.) In Philadelphia, the train will be turned on the wye trackage near the Philadelphia Zoo, including the "New York & Pittsburgh Subway" and other connecting trackage in the Philadelphia terminal area not normally used by passenger trains. Passengers will then have the opportunity to detrain for a brief walking tour** of the shop facility that was so integral to the successful service of the AEM-7s and other electric locomotives dating back to the days of the legendary Pennsylvania Railroad. There will be photo opportunities with a variety of equipment during the stopover. At 3:45 pm, passengers will re-board the excursion train for the return trip south to Washington, DC. Arrival is scheduled for 5:40 pm. Boarding Instructions: Arrive at least 45 minutes prior to departure to fill out waivers. Liquor is not allowed onboard. The Special Train: The train is planned to consist of two AEM-7 locomotives, seven Amfleet-I coaches and two Amfleet-I food service cars. Besides the included box lunches, snack items will be available for purchase onboard. Tickets: Ticket price is $155 per adult, half-fare for children. Employee passes and other discount tickets are not valid on this train. Tickets are expected to go on sale on May 2, 2016. Ticket includes round-trip transportation on the excursion train from/to Washington; box lunch and souvenir lapel pin; **photo opportunities ; **walking tour of Wilmington Shop. ** Due to the unique access to railroad property not normally open to the public, participants must complete and sign this Entry on Property Release of Claim Form , and must wear proper footwear: e.g., no open-toed shoes, high heels, sandals, flip-flops, etc. Release form must be printed, signed and presented at train side. How to Book this Trip From the 'Buy Tickets' tab:
  • 1.Select One-Way.
  • 2.Enter Washington, DC - Union Station (WAS) in the From box.
  • 3.Enter AEM-7 Excursion Train, DC (AEM) in the To box.
  • 4.Select June 18, 2016 as the Depart date.
  • 5.Select the number of Adult or Child passengers. Maximum of 8.
Passengers with disabilities should call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) to book this trip. (Amtrak - posted 4/27)

LIRR WEEKEND SERVICE TO GREENPORT & NORTH FORK RESUMES SATURDAY, APRIL 30: The Long Island Rail Road’s weekend service to Greenport and Long Island’s North Fork resumes Saturday, April 30 with trains running on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through November 27. Surrounded by Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound, this part of the East End offers an easy-going, rural feel first noticed from the window of your LIRR double-decker train as it moves through a picturesque landscape that is the heart of Suffolk County’s wine country. There are more than 35 vineyards in this part of Long Island and the train trip takes you so close to the grapes that you actually transverse the Castello de Borghese Vineyard and its rural railroad crossing in the hamlet of Cutchogue. The Village of Greenport offers a delightful blend of small shops and waterfront restaurants and nearby Shelter Island is just a quick ferry ride away. Aquebogue, Jamesport, Laurel, Mattituck, New Suffolk, Peconic, Southold, East Marion and Orient are among the region’s other popular destinations. And at the tip of the fork are Orient Point County Park and Orient Beach State Park, both with fine beaches.
  • Traveling Eastbound from Penn Station on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays To get an early start, take the 9:12 a.m. from Penn Station to Ronkonkoma where a LIRR double decker train waits to transport you further east, stopping at Medford, Yaphank, Riverhead, Mattituck, Southold and arriving in Greenport in time for lunch at 12:02 p.m. A second train departs Penn Station at 2:12 p.m. taking the same route with your connecting train arriving in Greenport at 5:02 p.m.
  • Westbound from Greenport to Penn Station Trains leave Greenport at 1:11 p.m. and 6:11 p.m. making all stops to Ronkonkoma where customers can connect to a train continuing west to Jamaica and Penn Station.
  • For More Information View a Greenport timetable at http://web.mta.info/lirr/Timetable/Station2/RonkonkomaKO4.pdf or contact the LIRR’s Customer Service Center by calling 511, the New York State Travel Information Line, and say: Long Island Rail Road. If you are deaf or hearing impaired, use your preferred relay service provider for the free 711 relay to reach the LIRR at 511.
( MTA - posted 4/26)

CN CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF TRANSFORMATION CHANGE AT 2016 ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDES: Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN said today the company has made huge strides since its 1995 initial public share offering (IPO), transforming itself into a North American railway and true backbone of the economy. "CN's journey since its IPO is the story of a remarkable and uniquely successful business transformation," Mongeau told the company's annual meeting of shareholders here. Once an industry laggard based largely in Canada, CN today is the clear North American rail industry leader. Following five successful acquisitions, the company now efficiently spans eight Canadian provinces and 16 U.S. states, transporting more than C$250 billion worth of goods annually over a 20,000-route-mile network that reaches all three coasts on the continent. Mongeau said core financial measures attest to CN's superior record of efficiency, profitability and shareholder value-creation since the IPO:
  • The railway's operating ratio – a key measure of efficiency – in 2015 improved to a record 58.2 per cent from 89.4 per cent in 1994, the year before privatization, and has consistently been the best in the industry since 1998.
  • CN has generated almost 20 per cent average annual growth in adjusted diluted earnings per share since becoming a publicly-traded company.
  • From an initial value of C$2 billion in 1995, CN's market capitalization has increased several fold to stand at C$63 billion currently. Close to C$70 billion of capital gains and dividend distributions have been generated since the IPO for the benefit of loyal investors who rely on CN for the effective stewardship of their stock ownership.
The privatization of CN 20 years ago was a pivotal policy decision by the Canadian government that gave impetus to a wave of broadly positive change and fundamental innovation. CN's uniquely successful business transformation unlocked significant and lasting value for all stakeholders involved, and it serves to underscore the importance of a vibrant commercial policy framework staying in place for the North American rail industry. "We are extremely proud of our transformational journey," Mongeau said. "Today we touch just about every sector of the economy, serving thousands of valued customers with high quality and reliable service at world-class freight rates. With the right policy framework in place, we will continue to fulfill the extraordinary promise of CN's business transformation with significant investments in our business and bold customer service innovation." (CN- posted 4/26)

FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES OPENING OF DENVER'S "TRAIN TO THE PLANE" COMMUTER RAIL LINE: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers today joined top Colorado officials to open the University of Colorado A Line commuter rail service from downtown Denver to Denver International Airport. The rail line is among the nation’s first transit projects built by a public-private partnership and represents an important milestone in an ambitious transit expansion plan for the eight-county metropolitan area. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and other officials were also on hand at the opening of the airport’s new station. “Denver-area residents decided more than a decade ago that a comprehensive transit system was important for their growing city, and this new rail extension to the airport will open the door to even greater opportunities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We commend them for their foresight, which will bring the Denver area the economic development and accessibility that come with a modern transit system.” The 2004 voter-approved FasTracks transit plan for Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), one of the largest in the nation, is a $7 billion, multi-year program to build 122 miles of new commuter and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, and enhanced bus service, with many of the rail projects expected to be completed this year. The University of Colorado A Line connects Denver Union Station, which underwent a DOT-supported historic renovation in 2014, to the airport 23 miles away. A trip that would take motorists or city bus riders close to an hour has been halved with the new train service. “The Federal Transit Administration is proud to help Denver develop new travel options, continuing our agency’s support of the A Line commuter rail extension,” said FTA Acting Administrator Flowers. “The line creates a fast and efficient connection for residents of downtown Denver, South Denver and Aurora, as well as a strong foundation for strategic development along the corridor.” The University of Colorado A Line is part of the $2 billion Eagle Public-Private Partnership (P3) project, which includes the A Line, the under-construction Gold Line commuter rail project, a commuter rail maintenance facility, and electric-multi-unit vehicles. FTA is providing approximately $1 billion through its Capital Investment Grant Program, or 50 percent, toward the Eagle P3 set of projects. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation also provided approximately $62 million in other funds. The remaining cost was covered by state and local sources, including the private contribution. Under the P3 arrangement, the private team agreed to fund a share of the project, assuming much of the risks, allowing RTD to minimize public costs for construction. In addition to a safety review by the Federal Railroad Administration, FTA reviewed and approved a safety checklist covering platforms, surrounding roads, and pedestrian improvements prior to the A Line opening. (FRA- posted 4/22)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS STRONG FIRST QUARTER RESULTS: Norfolk Southern Corporation(NSC) today reported financial results for first-quarter 2016. Net income for the quarter was $387 million, 25 percent higher compared with $310 million during the same period of 2015. Diluted earnings per share were $1.29, up 29 percent compared with $1.00 diluted earnings per share in the first quarter last year. “Our strong first-quarter results demonstrate the significant progress we are making in line with our strategic plan,” said Chairman, President, and CEO James A. Squires. “Since I became CEO in June, our team has been committed to streamlining operations, reducing expenses and maintaining superior customer service levels. Our focus on strengthening Norfolk Southern is yielding results, and the company is now on track to achieve productivity savings of about $200 million and an operating ratio below 70 in 2016. We are confident the continued execution of our strategic plan will deliver superior shareholder value by best positioning Norfolk Southern to succeed while ensuring the company is prepared to capture revenue and volume growth opportunities in 2016 and beyond.” As previously announced, Norfolk Southern is implementing a strategic plan to reduce costs, drive profitability, and enhance value for all Norfolk Southern shareholders.  Through this plan, the company expects to achieve annual productivity savings of more than $650 million by 2020 and an operating ratio below 65 percent by 2020. FIRST-QUARTER SUMMARY
  •     Railway operating revenues were $2.4 billion, 6 percent lower compared with the first quarter of 2015. Volume declined 2 percent, the result of lower coal volumes. Average revenue per unit decreased 3 percent as the effects of higher rates were more than offset by a $114 million, or 70 percent, decline in fuel surcharge revenues.  
  •      Merchandise revenues were $1.5 billion, 2 percent higher than the same period last year. Led by an 18 percent increase in automotive traffic, volume grew in all business groups except chemicals, which was impacted by fewer crude oil shipments due to low oil prices.  The five merchandise commodity groups reported the following year-over-year revenue results: Chemicals: $419 million, down 3 percent; Agriculture: $386 million, up 3 percent;   Metals/Construction: $300 million, down 3 percent; Automotive: $254 million, up 16 percent; and Paper/Forest: $190 million, up 3 percent
  •      Intermodal revenues were $522 million, down 12 percent compared with first quarter 2015. Volume was even for the quarter as growth in international volumes was offset by lower domestic volumes due to the restructuring of the company’s Triple Crown Services subsidiary.
  •        Coal revenues were $349 million, 23 percent lower compared with first quarter of 2015. Mild winter temperatures, low natural gas prices, and a weak global export market combined to decrease volume by 23 percent year-over-year.
  •          Railway operating expenses decreased $264 million, or 13 percent, to $1.7 billion compared with same period of 2015, due to lower fuel costs and targeted expense reduction initiatives.
  •          Income from railway operations was $723 million, 19 percent higher compared with the same period in 2015.
  •        The operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 70.1 percent, a first-quarter record, and an 8 percent improvement compared with first-quarter 2015.
(Norfolk Southern - posted 4/21)

TRAILS AND RAILS PROGRAM ADDS ROUTE FROM NEW YORK CITY TO WASHINGTON, DC: The National Park Service (NPS), in partnership with Amtrak, has added the New York to Washington, D.C. Saturday morning route as part of its Trails and Rails program. NPS volunteers will assist passengers with information about national parks and monuments on Saturday mornings aboard Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 153, leaving New York Penn Station at 8:05 A.M. and aboard Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 152, leaving Washington Union Station at 8:10 A.M. Afternoon service can vary but the program is typically offered on select mid-afternoon trains. Volunteers will help passengers “Find Your Park” among the more than 80 NPS sites and even more state and local parks along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Volunteers will serve as NPS ‘concierges,’ ready to let passengers know what parks they can visit along the route. The Trails and Rails Guides can also assist passengers as they connect to public transportation, provide alternate routes and schedules. Any passenger with a tablet or smartphone may take this information with them. Service between New York and Washington began on Saturday, April 9. Joshua Laird, commissioner of National Parks of New York Harbor, noted that 50 million people live along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. “In this Centennial year of the National Park Service,” he said, “Trails and Rails will help connect passengers with the parks which are all around them, including the ten national park sites in New York Harbor. Trails and Rails is a smart program that reaches park audiences in unconventional ways. Amtrak is a great, green way to visit your national parks in New York City, in the nation’s capital or anywhere in between.” “Amtrak is proud to partner with the National Park Service and congratulates the agency on its centennial,” said Mike DeCataldo, Amtrak Senior Vice President and General Manager of Northeast Corridor Operations. “America’s Railroad is pleased to help connect the citizens of our great country with some of our finest treasures – our national parks. The free service these dedicated National Park Service volunteers are providing to our customers is an example of the kind of experience that makes Amtrak the smarter way to travel.” Since 2000, Amtrak and the NPS have partnered through the Trails and Rails program. In 2016, the program covered 25 segments on 17 routes nationwide. The Northeast Regional route from Washington, D.C. to New York City has been staffed by volunteers since 2012. The Adirondack routes in northern New York are some of the older Trails and Rails routes in the Northeast. In 2015, 741 volunteers contacted approximately half a million passengers. The program is still training new volunteers. If you wish to become a Trails and Rails guide along the route from New York to Washington, D.C., email TrailsandRails.npnh@gmail.com (Amtrak - posted 4/21)

AMTRAK NATIONAL TIMETABLE... FAREWELL!: For several years we have simultaneously produced the Amtrak System Timetable in printed form and as an electronic downloadable document housed on Amtrak.com. The decision has been made to discontinue production of the printed Amtrak System Timetable effective immediately. The final printed timetable is the January 2016 Winter/Spring version recently printed. The reasons for this decision are:
  • Usage and demand for the printed document have steadily declined over the past five years.
  • Surveys have revealed that few customers want or use the printed System Timetable and expressed a preference to access information on line.
  • Schedules, policies and programs are ever changing and it’s impossible to keep the printed document accurate and up-to-date.
  • Reducing print is financially responsible
  • Reducing print is environmentally responsible
  • All Amtrak timetables, including the System Timetable are housed within and may be accessed on Amtrak.com
  • At this time many of the smaller individual route and corridor wallet cards and panels will continue to be printed.
(Bill Chaplik, John Kilbride, Amtrak - posted 4/20)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO REDUCE OPERATIONS IN KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE: Norfolk Southern Corp. announced today that it will reduce train operations at its Knoxville, Tenn., rail yard, effective May 1. The action is in response to lower traffic volumes and is consistent with the company’s ongoing implementation of its strategic plan to enhance operating efficiencies, reduce costs, drive profitability, and support long-term growth. NS remains on track to achieve its previously announced annual expense savings of more than $650 million and an operating ratio below 65 percent by 2020. NS plans to idle switching operations at the rail yard, where freight cars from inbound trains are sorted by destination and assembled into outbound trains. As part of the change in operations, train traffic will decrease at the yard, reducing the need for personnel and infrastructure associated with train operations and maintenance activities. The Knoxville terminal will continue to serve as a hub for through-train operations and provide safe, reliable service to local customers, and NS has developed an operating plan to minimize any customer impact. Knoxville will continue to serve as headquarters for the company’s Central Division, which includes 1,100 track miles primarily in Tennessee and Kentucky. Although approximately 135 positions will be impacted by the reduction of operations at the yard, nearly 300 employees in Knoxville will continue to support division operations and manage yard traffic. NS will assist impacted employees by offering them opportunities to fill job vacancies as they become available across the system. NS currently employs more than 1,570 people across Tennessee with nearly 850 miles of track across the state, intermodal terminals in Memphis, and a major rail classification yard and locomotive shop in Chattanooga. Today’s announcement is part of other recent initiatives in NS’ five-year strategic plan to implement cost control initiatives and network improvements, including:
  • Consolidating two operating divisions in West Virginia and Virginia, idling a major Lake Erie coal terminal, and discontinuing operations on some coal routes in Central Appalachia, all in response to changes in the coal business;
  •   Restructuring the company’s Triple Crown Services subsidiary;
  • Realigning operating regions from three to two;
  •   Consolidating corporate office locations.
(Norfolk Southern - posted 4/20)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 16, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Apr. 16, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 499,779 carloads and intermodal units, down 10.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Apr. 16 were 240,462 carloads, down 12.9 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 259,317 containers and trailers, down 7.4 percent compared to 2015. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 22.8 percent to 9,823 carloads; grain, up 14.3 percent to 20,784 carloads; and chemicals, up 3.4 percent to 32,355 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 36.5 percent to 63,090 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 27.7 percent to 10,887 carloads; and forest products, down 7.5 percent to 9,963 carloads. For the first 15 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,613,417 carloads, down 14.1 percent from the same point last year; and 3,848,344 intermodal units, up 0.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 15 weeks of 2016 was 7,461,761 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Apr. 16, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 327,138 carloads, down 12.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 329,899 intermodal units, down 6.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 657,037 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2016 was 9,784,732 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.8 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 70,820 carloads for the week, down 13.7 percent, and 59,305 intermodal units, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 15 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,926,716 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,856 carloads for the week, down 5.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,277 intermodal units, up 0.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2016 was 396,255 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.6 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 4/20)

SUSTAINABLE TRACK INFRASTRUCTURE COMES TO THE STATEN ISLAND RAILWAY: As Earth Day approaches and as part of recommendations from a blue-ribbon commission tasked with reducing the impact of public transit on the environment, MTA New York City Transit has installed approximately 6,500 sustainable composite ties in a major Staten Island Railway (SIR) track renewal project to repair significant damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. The St. George SIR terminal is undergoing a major track and switch reconstruction project as the railway continues to recover from Sandy-related damage. Prior to the storm in October 2012, a terminal rehabilitation project had been planned to repair and update signals, switches and track. Sandy made the project critical when storm surge flooded SIR tracks and the entire St. George yard complex with corrosive saltwater, highlighting areas where flood protection or protective infrastructure needed to be installed. The saltwater significantly damaged all 12 tracks, multiple switches, equipment and cables, as well as facilities and the train control tower. “With careful planning and foresight, we took this opportunity to not only make critical Sandy-related repairs but to do it better using environmentally friendly materials,” said Doug Connett, Vice President and Chief Officer for Staten Island Railway. “Switching out thousands of wooden rail ties to composite ties is a boon to the environment and our bottom line.” NYC Transit started the St. George renewal project in September 2014, with plans to integrate resiliency measures while replacing outdated or damaged equipment and making repairs. Those resiliency measures include raising signal equipment to 72 inches above the tracks, raising platforms for battery and generator enclosures and installing a new third rail system. Repairs at St. George include the replacement of 12,000 linear feet of track and installation of a total of approximately 7,500 high-density plastic rail ties. The ties, which are made of 100 percent recycled materials, were manufactured by Axion International. Traditional railroad ties are made of wood and need to be replaced when they splinter, rot or disintegrate over time due to exposure to severe weather. Plastic composite ties, however, can withstand weather elements and insect or fungus infestation. In particular, composite ties such as the Axion ties being installed by NYC Transit will not absorb moisture or leach toxic chemicals into the environment during a major flooding event similar to Sandy’s record storm surge. The change in track tie materials from traditional wood to high-density plastic stems from a recommendation made by the MTA’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Sustainability, which released a report in 2009 on ways to operate a greener transit system throughout the New York area. The commission’s final report made nearly 100 recommendations to reduce the MTA’s carbon footprint while generating savings and economic growth, one of which included a recommendation that the MTA expand procurement of sustainable railroad ties across all rail agencies. The $105 million St. George Terminal project is taking place with no service interruptions to customers and is 55% complete with composite tie installation to be completed by June 1. A video on the project is available on the MTA YouTube channel. (MTA - posted 4/19)

AMTRAK AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE PARTNER TO OFFER UNIQUE SUMMER ADVENTURES : Just in time for families making summer travel plans, Amtrak is partnering with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service to expand the popular Trails & Rails program and help Americans connect with one of our nation’s true treasures – the national park system. With convenient connections to more than 260 national park lands, monuments and historic sites, America’s Railroad® is the smarter way to see America’s natural beauty. Amtrak connects customers to some of the most famous national parks in the country including Glacier, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and more. “A train ride does more than just transport people from point A to point B; it affords customers time to reconnect,” said Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman. “Whether that’s a card game, a meal together in the dining or café car, or a quiet moment enjoying the beautiful scenery out the window, Amtrak is the smarter way for America’s families to travel to our national parks, giving them a chance to spend time together in a way they might not in a car or on an airplane.” As part of the National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary celebration, Amtrak is offering a 75 percent discount to fourth-graders, with the purchase of one adult ticket, to promote family travel to national parks through August 31. The discount is part of the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative implemented by President Barack Obama to help young people connect to the outdoors (some restrictions apply; more information here). “From the earliest days of the National Park Service, railways have helped Americans discover the natural, historical and cultural wonders of our national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Amtrak’s new offer for families with Every Kid in a Park pass-holding fourth graders will help a new generation discover everything that a national park adventure can be.” The Every Kid in a Park initiative is part of an overall strategy to connect young people to the outdoors. The program allows fourth graders nationwide to go to www.everykidinapark.gov and obtain a pass for free entry for them and their families to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide. Current third graders can get their fourth-grade passes starting September 1, 2016. More Northeast Corridor customers can now take advantage of the Trails and Rails program, recently expanded between New York and Washington, where volunteers walk the train providing information on national parks and other points of interest along the route. Most long distance trains, including the Empire Builder, California Zephyr and Southwest Chief, already feature volunteer guides who are well-versed on the natural and cultural heritage sites passing by the windows of the train. Amtrak Vacations also offers more than 50 national park packages across the United States and Canada – Amtrak’s top-selling vacations – which include hotel accommodations, sightseeing excursions, activities, dining and more. Passengers can visit Amtrak.com . to plan their trip, check out Amtrak’s generous baggage policy, and expanded pets program, as well as information on other deals and discounts. (Amtrak - posted 4/18)

SEPTA STATES "TRACKS ARE FOR TRAINS, NOT PHOTO SHOOTS": There's something about the rails that draws photographers and videographers - professional and amateur - looking for that beautiful backdrop. "When it comes to train tracks, there is no picture-perfect setting," said Scott Sauer, SEPTA's Assistant General Manager of System Safety. "In fact, if you take photos or shoot video on the tracks, that picture or film might be the last footage you take. Tracks are for trains. They are not photo or movie studios." With the better weather upon us, residents are taking out their cameras and smartphones to capture the colorful spring scenery. SEPTA is warning all photographers to stay away from train tracks. "The place for selfies, family, engagement, wedding and school photos might be a studio or a park, but not the rail right-of-way," said Sauer, who is also a board member for Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national organization dedicated to rail safety. "No one should ever assume that there is a time when tracks are completely clear of train traffic. A train can come on any track at any time in any direction." According to a recent study by Priceonomics, railroad tracks are the world's third most deadly place to take selfies. "The majority of train-related incidents are preventable," said Sauer. "By entering the track area for photo and video sessions, people are putting themselves in imminent and unnecessary danger. The picture is not worth the risk." Entering the track area for any reason is both dangerous and illegal - it's trespassing. Engineers are not expecting trespassers to be in the train's right-of-way. Sauer adds that, even if an engineer sees a trespasser on tracks, the train cannot come to an immediate stop. "You can't slam on the brakes and expect a vehicle that large to stop instantaneously," said Sauer. "And trains can't swerve around a person or object in its path." SEPTA also warns photographers and videographers that taking photos and video on platforms can also be dangerous. "Tripods can be tripping hazards to passengers entering and exiting trains," said Sauer. "Lights on cameras and flashes can also be a distraction to or momentarily blind engineers." SEPTA welcomes photographers and videographers who safely take photos or video of the Authority's vehicles and stations. For information on SEPTA's film and video policy and shooting photos and video, contact SEPTA Media Relations at 215-580-7842 or click here. (SEPTA - posted 4/18)

LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD OPENS NEW ELLISON AVENUE BRIDGE TO THE PUBLIC: Long Island Rail Road President Patrick A. Nowakowski was joined today by State Senator Jack M. Martins, State Assemblyman Michael Montesano, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano, Nassau County Legislator Laura Schaefer and Village of Westbury Mayor Peter I. Cavallaro for the opening of the new Ellison Ave. Bridge in Westbury, a $17.5 million project delivered by the LIRR right on schedule. At a ribbon cutting ceremony, Nowakowski said: “We want to thank Sen. Martins, Assemblyman Montesano, County Executive Mangano, Legislator Schaefer, Mayor Cavallaro and the residents of this community for their cooperation as we planned and executed this project and their patience during this year-long process. The MTA and Long Island Rail Road are proud to deliver a new bridge, one that you can be confident will provide safe and convenient passage for pedestrians and motor vehicles for many decades to come.” State Senator Jack M. Martins said: "Today the community says goodbye and good riddance to the old Ellison Avenue Bridge, rated the worst bridge on Long Island, and cuts the ribbon on a new, state of the art bridge that will service the area for generations. Congratulations to the MTA LIRR for completing this project on time and on budget, the Village of Westbury for their tireless advocacy, and most importantly the community for their patience and persistence. The light at the end of the tunnel is finally here.” Assemblyman Michael Montesano said: "The new and improved Ellison Avenue Bridge was long awaited by residents of the Westbury community. As a central route in Nassau County, it was critical to tackle this undertaking, and I am extremely appreciative of the hard work and commitment that has gone into this project.” Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said: “Replacement of the Ellison Avenue Bridge has helped improve our local quality of life for Westbury residents while increasing public safety for pedestrians and drivers alike. Nassau County is pleased to have assisted in this project and I thank Senator Martins and the LIRR for ensuring its completion.” Nassau County Legislator Laura Schaefer said: “I am extremely pleased to see that the Ellison Avenue bridge is reopening. I want to thank Mayor Cavallaro and the Village of Westbury for seeing this project through with the LIRR as the bridge has needed this reconstruction for some time now and is a very important thoroughfare for so many residents of the Village of Westbury and beyond. “ Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro said: “The condition of the Ellison Avenue Bridge has been a major concern for the greater Westbury community for several decades, and the replacement of the bridge was long overdue. The residents of the Village and surrounding communities are happy, relieved and grateful that this project has finally been completed, on time and on budget I am deeply appreciative to Senator Jack Martins for working hard to make sure that the LIRR finally undertook this important infrastructure improvement. I want to thank LIRR President Nowakowski and his staff for the open, transparent and efficient manner in which they conducted the project.” The LIRR’s Ellison Ave. Bridge Replacement Project got underway in March 2015 when the Railroad closed and later demolished the old bridge. It promised a new span over the LIRR’s busy Main Line would be open to the public by April 2016 and that the work would proceed with as little impact on train service and the community as possible. The weekend demolition last May and installation of a major portion of the new bridge in October by the contractor Posillico Civil Inc. of Farmingdale L.I., still makes for good viewing on You Tube and illustrates the advantages of the design-build process championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. With the bridge back in service, Posillico still has two months of remaining work, including fencing, anti-graffiti proofing, grading & landscaping and utility connections. The road will remain open during the performance of this work, but will require occasional sidewalk or shoulder closures and lane shifts. The original Ellison Ave. Bridge was a pedestrian overpass built by the Long Island Rail Road in 1896, then rebuilt as a two-lane roadway with sidewalks in 1941. In recent years, the structure and roadway had deteriorated significantly and the steel plates that covered the holes made for a bumpy ride. The project, funded by the MTA Capital Program, is also important because 40 percent of the Railroad’s daily ridership passes along the Main Line Corridor. Another innovative aspect of the project was that it was carried out under a unique Project-Labor Agreement negotiated by the LIRR and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk designed to reduce labor costs while ensuring that jobs go to local construction workers. (MTA- posted 4/15)

TEAMSTERS: SAFETY CULTURE AT AMTRAK MUST BE CHANGED: The following is a statement from Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and Freddie Simpson, President of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) of the Teamsters Rail Conference on the recent collision between an Amtrak train and maintenance of way equipment which resulted in the deaths of two workers outside of Philadelphia. "We fully support our brothers and sisters at the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division who are calling on Amtrak for a complete overhaul of their safety culture and performance. As Teamsters, we are saddened that two union brothers lost their lives in the collision—a collision which may have been prevented had Amtrak not neglected calls from the BMWED and other rail unions for proper training, enforcement of safety protocols, and a safety culture based upon collaboration and not intimidation," Hoffa said. "All across America there is a vital need to improve and rebuild our transportation infrastructure. The members of the BMWED play a critical role in the work which must be performed to improve our nation's tracks, bridges and related railroad infrastructure. Work on rail lines carrying passenger trains and freight cargo is some of the most dangerous and demanding work in the nation and we urge Amtrak to heed our call to work with BMWED and strengthen safety training and procedures so that fatalities such as this can be prevented," Simpson said. (BMWED, Randy Kotuby- posted 4/15)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCES $20.5 MILLION TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO TRANSIT IN COMMUNITIES AROUND THE COUNTRY: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced that $20.5 million in competitive grant funds is available to support planning efforts that improve access to public transit in communities across the country. The grant funds are provided through FTA’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning Pilot Program. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) appears in today’s Federal Register . “Public transit plays a critical role in connecting Americans to jobs, education and opportunity,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “When we plan housing, jobs and services centered around transit lines, we build a strong foundation for the economic development that our growing nation needs – and reduce pollution, congestion and carbon emissions at the same time.” The TOD Planning Pilot Program provides grants for comprehensive planning in communities that are developing or implementing major new public transportation projects. Last year, FTA awarded $19.5 million to 21 projects in 17 metropolitan areas around the country. The grants supported comprehensive planning efforts such as conducting an economic analysis for communities along a planned light rail extension in Durham, North Carolina; developing updated zoning codes, an infrastructure assessment and affordable housing plans for areas along a planned streetcar route in Sacramento, California; and developing land-use plans along a corridor where a bus rapid transit system is planned in Lansing, Michigan. “This funding opportunity will help communities plan development that creates jobs, encourages transit use, and gives residents convenient access to work, school, medical care, housing and other vital services,” said FTA Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers. “Transit-oriented development helps ensure that the benefits of new transit lines extend throughout a community.” FTA’s TOD Pilot Program helps advance President Obama’s vision for a 21st century, clean transportation system. In this year’s budget, the President laid out this plan, which calls for increasing Federal investments in surface transportation by 50% while reforming the investments we already make to help reduce carbon pollution, cut oil consumption, and create new jobs. These investments would make transportation easier for American families, reduce carbon pollution, and strengthen our economy. And they would be fully paid for by a combination of a new $10 per barrel fee on oil, which would be paid for by oil companies and pro-growth business tax reform. FTA’s TOD Pilot Program was established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and amended by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The program helps localities plan improved access to transit, jobs, education and services, and helps revitalize communities by attracting new opportunities, jobs, and housing. In addition, the program encourages inclusive communities and seeks planning solutions to reduce residential and commercial displacement that can result from gentrification. It seeks to connect people to opportunities through multimodal access to transit stations and to enhance connectivity of disadvantaged populations to essential services. To be eligible for the Pilot Program, the planning work must be associated with a transit project for which the local community intends to seek funding through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program or that recently received funding through the CIG Program. The CIG Program is FTA’s primary grant program for funding major transit capital investments, including heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and core capacity projects. (USDOT - posted 4/14)

FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION UPDATES CONGRESS ON WMATA METRORAIL SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) reported to Congress that it has conducted more than 100 inspections and directed millions in Federal funds to support safety priorities in its first six months of temporary safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system. FTA Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers testified before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform panel; below are excerpts from her written testimony. “In a short time, FTA has provided more thorough safety oversight over WMATA than it has ever received,” Flowers stated. “We all want Metrorail safety to improve and we want change now.” In October 2015, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx instructed FTA to assume direct and temporary safety oversight of WMATA Metrorail from the ineffective Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC). This role continues only until Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia set up a new State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA) – something the three jurisdictions have been discussing since April 2010. “We are now in April of 2016, and very little action has taken place to move towards a fully functioning SSOA. It is long past time for Virginia, Maryland, and DC to create a new safety oversight body for WMATA Metrorail,” Flowers said. Flowers explained that WMATA is responsible for the safe operation of the Metrorail system, including the performance of daily inspections and preventative maintenance. The current and temporary role of FTA is to verify WMATA’s progress on implementing Corrective Action Plans and remedial actions, and to ensure that WMATA is effectively carrying out its own critical maintenance, operations, and safety training programs, until the three jurisdictions set up a new SSOA. In the six month period from October 2015 to April 2016, the FTA WMATA Safety Oversight Office has conducted 107 inspections that cover track, the Rail Operations Control Center, vehicle and systems maintenance, automatic train control, and traction power. During these inspections, FTA identified 229 defects requiring WMATA to implement 66 remedial actions. FTA is currently in the midst of a three-part safety blitz [external link] focused on red signal overruns, track integrity and rail vehicle securement. A final report of this safety blitz is expected to be made public in early summer 2016. FTA is also leading WMATA accident investigations as warranted and working to close out more than 100 open accident investigation reports it assumed from the TOC. FTA is exercising its authority to direct WMATA’s use of Federal funds to prioritize safety projects and purposes, particularly in support of the corrective actions arising from the FTA Safety Management Inspection conducted in the spring of 2015, safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and state of good repair infrastructure improvements. For example, FTA is requiring that WMATA hold in reserve $20 million in FY 2016 Federal funds for urgent safety issues that may arise, rather than expending those funds on two non-safety related projects as WMATA originally requested. Furthermore, Flowers said that until Virginia, Maryland and DC create a new State Safety Oversight Agency, FTA is the best and most appropriate agency to provide temporary Federal safety oversight of WMATA Metrorail. “We have the knowledge, expertise and enforcement powers to do the job. Our current safety rulemaking framework provides us with the authority to take action that will protect the safety of transit riders and workers in our Nation’s Capital and elsewhere in the country,” she stressed. “With WMATA, FTA is fulfilling the short-term need while at the same time requiring the development of an effective State Safety Oversight Agency.” The U.S. Congress first granted FTA the authority to oversee the safety of public transportation with the passage of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) in 2012. Previous to this, Congress authorized transit safety oversight at the state level beginning with the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991, pursuant to the NTSB’s recommendation in a report entitled Safety Study: Oversight of Rail Rapid Transit Safety. In 2015, Congress strengthened FTA safety oversight with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST), by providing explicit authority for FTA to assume the role of a non-functioning State Safety Oversight Agency, on a temporary and expedient basis, and clarifying FTA’s ability to withhold FTA financial assistance or direct the use of federal funding for safety purposes. A copy of the full written testimony can be found here . (FTA - posted 4/13)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIN TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 9, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Apr. 9, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 479,059 carloads and intermodal units, down 14.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Apr. 9 were 229,704 carloads, down 20 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 249,355 containers and trailers, down 7.8 percent compared to 2015. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 20.7 percent to 9,274 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 0.9 percent to 17,986 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 44.9 percent to 58,166 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 22.3 percent to 11,910 carloads; and grain, down 20.5 percent to 18,871 carloads. For the first 14 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,372,955 carloads, down 14.2 percent from the same point last year; and 3,589,027 intermodal units, up 0.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2016 was 6,961,982 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Apr. 9, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 315,661 carloads, down 18 percent compared with the same week last year, and 317,414 intermodal units, down 7.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 633,075 carloads and intermodal units, down 13 percent. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2016 was 9,127,695 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.6 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 70,683 carloads for the week, down 13.1 percent, and 56,907 intermodal units, down 8.1 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 14 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,796,591 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,274 carloads for the week, down 8.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,152 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2016 was 369,122 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year. . (AAR - posted 4/13)

CSX ANNOUNCES FIRST QUARTER 2016 NET EARNINGS: CSX Corporation (Nasdaq: CSX) today announced first quarter 2016 net earnings of $356 million, or $0.37 per share, down from $442 million, or $0.45 per share, in the same period of last year.  “As we managed through the impact of the continued coal decline and other market forces during the first quarter, CSX took aggressive actions to improve efficiency, reduce costs and streamline resources across the network to further reshape the company,” said Michael J. Ward, chairman and chief executive officer.  Revenue for the quarter declined 14 percent, reflecting lower fuel recovery, a 5 percent volume decline and a $95 million year-over-year decline in other revenue related to payments received in 2015 from customers that did not meet their minimum volume commitments. These impacts more than offset pricing gains across nearly all markets from an improving service product and volume growth in automotive, intermodal, minerals and waste and equipment.  Expenses decreased 12 percent, driven by efficiency gains of $133 million and lower volume-related costs of $64 million as CSX reduced its cost structure in the face of the challenging market environment. In addition, the reduction in the price of fuel decreased fuel expense by $78 million for the quarter.  Including the impact of these cost savings and the decline in other revenue, operating income decreased $139 million to $704 million. At the same time, the operating ratio increased 90 basis points year-over-year to 73.1 percent. “While CSX delivered strong efficiency gains in the first quarter, we continue to expect full-year earnings per share to decline in 2016 as a result of ongoing coal headwinds combined with other market fundamentals,” said Ward. “At the same time, CSX remains focused on meeting and exceeding customer expectations while driving further efficiency savings to maximize shareholder value and achieve a mid-60s operating ratio longer term.” (CSX - posted 4/12)

CANADIAN PACIFIC TERMINATES EFFORTS TO MERGE WITH NORFOLK SOUTHERN: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. today announced that it has terminated efforts to merge with Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS), including the withdrawal of a resolution asking NS shareholders to vote in favour of good-faith negotiations between the two companies. No further financial offers or overtures to meet with the NS board of directors are planned at this time. CP proposed the creation of a true end-to-end railroad that would enhance competition, ease freight congestion now and into the future, improve service to shippers, better support the economy and generate significant shareholder value for both companies. "We have long recognized that consolidation is necessary for the North American rail industry to meet the demands of a growing economy, but with no clear path to a friendly merger at this time, we will turn all of our focus and energy to serving our customers and creating long term value for CP shareholders," said CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison. CP has a proven approach – precision railroading – that delivers superior results for customers, employees, communities and shareholders. CP will continue to focus on providing the best service, controlling costs, optimizing assets, operating safely and developing the best team of railroaders in the industry. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 4/11)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN COMMENTS ON CANADIAN PACIFIC'S WITHDRAWL OF ITS PROPOSAL TO ACQUIRE THE COMPANY AND RELATED SHAREHOLDER RESOLUTION: Norfolk Southern today issued the following statement regarding Canadian Pacific’s withdrawal of its unsolicited acquisition proposal and its related shareholder resolution:  Norfolk Southern’s board and management team are committed to enhancing value for shareholders.  Since the company’s new management team was appointed, Norfolk Southern has been focused on implementing a strategic plan to streamline operations, reduce expenses and maintain superior customer service levels.  The Norfolk Southern team has made significant progress and is on track to achieve annual productivity savings of more than $650 million and an operating ratio below 65 percent by 2020.  We are confident the continued execution of our plan will deliver superior value to all of the company’s stakeholders by best positioning Norfolk Southern to succeed. We thank our shareholders for their input and support throughout this process and our employees for their hard work and dedication to strengthening Norfolk Southern as a critical component of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. (NS- posted 4/11)

SEPTA REPORTS ON POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL IMPLEMENTATION: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has given SEPTA written authorization to commence Provisional Revenue Service Operations for our Positive Train Control (PTC) system. As reported in previous updates, our plan is to launch the PTC program on the Warminster Regional Rail Line. Now with FRA approval, we will implement PTC Revenue Service Operations on this Line on Monday, April 18, 2016, beginning with the first scheduled train. SEPTA has a strong commitment to safety and the introduction of the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) as a PTC compliant system on our Regional Rail network is an important milestone in our on-going efforts on behalf of our customers, employees, and neighbors. We are the first commuter railroad operation in the country to implement ACSES and an important part of our PTC rollout program will be continuing to work cooperatively with Amtrak regarding the operations of our trains, under ACSES, on their PTC equipped lines. Getting to this point has taken an extensive and intensive period of testing to ensure that every aspect of the system meets the guidelines established by the FRA and our own reliability requirements for this critical safety system. To fully prepare for the April 18th service day, we will operate shuttle buses in place of Warminster Line service on Sunday, April 17, 2016 in order to conduct one last round of checks and testing of the PTC system and our Rail equipment (SEPTA - posted 4/11)

READING AND NORTHERN WINS MAJOR AWARD: The American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association awarded the industry’s highest award for marketing achievement. This is the third time Reading & Northern has won this prestigious award in the last six years. Dennis Shaffer, Vice President Business Development, accepted the award today at a ceremony in Washington D.C. The Association recognized Reading & Northern for its rapid response and development of a railroad-operated warehouse in Old Forge, PA. The need for this new warehouse facility came suddenly in April, 2015 when a valued customer notified Reading & Northern that it needed a new warehouse to handle and store their wood pulp. The critical part of the request is that this new warehouse needed to be available within a month. In a little over a month Reading & Northern was able to find a long unused building along our railroad in Old Forge, PA, negotiate a lease, modify and rehabilitate the building, acquire the necessary handling equipment, train our employees, and rehabilitate a long unused rail siding that was buried under several feet of dirt. Simultaneously, Reading & Northern moved to acquire and rehabilitate, in our Port Clinton car shop, additional boxcars to handle this wood pulp from Old Forge to final destination. This new facility was up and running by May 2015 and has seen continual business growth ever since. In addition to the ASLRRA Marketing Award, Reading and Northern was also recognized in 2015 when we were named Regional Railroad of the Year by Railway Age Magazine. This was the third time we won this prestigious award and we are the only railroad ever to have achieved this recognition three times. Reading and Northern’s superior marketing and business development efforts have paid dividends in business growth. 2015 was a record breaking year for Reading and Northern. Freight carloads were up 19% and revenue up 30% compared to 2014, which was also a record year. Reading Northern’s passenger operation, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, also broke all previous ridership record in 2015 as over 100,000 visitors rode our trains. This was a smashing 38% increase in ridership over the previous record year. Reading & Northern Railroad, with its corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, is a privately held railroad company serving over 60 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has expanded its operations over the last 20+ years and has grown into one of the premier railroads in Pennsylvania. Reading and Northern operates both freight services and steam and diesel powered excursion passenger services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, owns over 1,000 freight cars, and employs over 200 dedicated employees. (R&N - posted 4/11)

U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OPPOSES CANADIAN PACIFIC'S PETITION TO ESTABLISH VOTING TRUST: On April 9th the Department of Justice filed a reply in opposition to Canadian Pacific Railway Limited’s (“CPRL”) petition for a declaratory order regarding use of a voting trust pending the Surface Transportation Board’s (“STB”) review of a potential merger between Canadian Pacific Railway Company (“CP”) and Norfolk Southern Railway Company (“NS”). The reply states that the proposed voting trust would fail to preserve the independence of the merging railroads during the pendency of the transaction’s regulatory review and would risk harm to current and future competition. It urges the STB to reject the proposed voting trust structure or, in the alternative, to deny the request for a declaratory order. “Canadian Pacific’s voting trust proposal would compromise Norfolk Southern’s independence and effectively combine the two railroads prior to completion of the STB’s review,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “That makes no sense. We urge the STB to preserve its ability to review the impact of the proposal on competition and consumers before Canadian Pacific starts scrambling the eggs.” On March 2, 2016, CPRL, the holding company that owns CP, petitioned the STB for a declaratory order approving a proposed voting trust structure pending the STB’s review of a merger between CP and NS. Under the proposed voting trust structure, CPRL would acquire NS, CP’s stock would be placed in trust, and CP’s current CEO would become CEO of NS. As explained in the filing, this proposed voting trust structure fails under each prong of the STB’s regulatory requirements. The proposal fails to preserve the independence of NS and CP. In addition, both CP and NS will have the economic incentives and the ability to align their business strategies before a review of the transaction. Finally, the proposal would also make it difficult, if not impossible, to effectuate a successful divestiture if the STB were to reject the merger applications. The STB is an independent agency. The Administrative Procedure Act provides the STB discretion to issue declaratory orders to terminate a controversy or remove uncertainty. (US Department of Justice - posted 4/10)

NJ TRANSIT BOARD SELECTS WILLIAM “BILL” CROSBIE AS AGENCY’S NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR : In a unanimous vote, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors appointed William (“Bill”) Crosbie as the new Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT during a special meeting today. The appointment is effective on or about April 25, 2016. Mr. Crosbie succeeds Dennis J. Martin, who has served as the agency’s interim Executive Director since December, 2015. Mr. Martin will resume his previous position as VP/GM of NJ TRANSIT’s Bus Operations Division. “I would like to thank Governor Christie and the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors for this tremendous opportunity to serve the more than 900,000 people who utilize the New Jersey Transit system each year,” said incoming Executive Director Crosbie. “I am anxious to roll up my sleeves and stand shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of NJ TRANSIT to address the service, safety, equipment and facility needs of our customers and our infrastructure.” Prior to Executive Director Crosbie’s appointment, he served as President & CEO as well as Regional Director for North America for SYSTRA USA, an international transportation engineering consulting firm. During his tenure, he was responsible for leading day-to-day operations as well as the strategic development of the firm. In addition to serving as Vice President of Railroad Programs for the Parsons Corporation, Executive Director Crosbie spent more than seven years as the Chief Operating Officer of Amtrak where he directed the transportation, engineering (infrastructure), mechanical (rolling stock), police and security, environmental, health, and safety functions. “Bill Crosbie brings a depth of background in operations, transportation, engineering, finance, and security to New Jersey Transit that is perfectly suited to address the needs facing the agency at this important time,” said Acting Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Richard T. Hammer. Executive Director Crosbie is a transportation security expert and Professional Engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the transportation field. He is a regular guest lecturer at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School on intelligence analysis, cyber security, and infrastructure protection. He has served on numerous Boards including the Boards of Directors for Washington Union Station Redevelopment Corporation and Chicago Union Station. Executive Director Crosbie holds a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and an Honors Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. (NJ Transit - posted 4/10)

SEPTA RELEASES PROPOSED FY 2016 CAPITAL BUDGET & 12 YEAR PROGRAM: SEPTA will continue to advance initiatives to renew critical infrastructure, replace aging portions of its fleet and expand capacity for growing ridership under its proposed Fiscal Year 2017 Capital Budget and 12-Year Capital Program. The capital budget funds projects such as bridge and track replacement, reconstruction of stations and other facilities, and the purchase of new vehicles. Following public hearings, the Capital Budget plan will go to the SEPTA Board for approval. The $548.63 million FY 2017 proposal advances SEPTA's "Rebuilding for the Future" initiative. The Authority embarked on this plan following the November 2013 passage of Act 89, which provides capital funds for transportation improvements throughout Pennsylvania. In the coming year, SEPTA will move ahead with projects such as its bridge program, including the Crum Creek Viaduct replacement - an initiative to renew a critical span along the Media/Elwyn Line that dates back to the late 1800s. Other major initiatives include:
  • Communications, Signal Systems and Technology Improvements
  • Safety and Security Improvements
  • SEPTA Key - fare modernization project
  • Stations, Loops and Parking Improvements
  • Substations and Power Improvements
  • Track and Right-of-Way Improvements
  • Vehicle Acquisitions and Overhauls
The full budget proposal, including program and project details, can be viewed or downloaded on SEPTA's website at http://septa.org/strategic-plan/reports/2017-capital-budget-proposal.pdf . SEPTA riders and other local residents are invited to ask questions and submit comments about the Capital Budget during public hearings on Monday, May 2. Sessions will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Board Room at SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street, Philadelphia. An independent hearing examiner will review testimony and submit a recommendation prior to the SEPTA Board's (SEPTA - posted 4/10)

FRA RELEASES REVISED PROPOSAL TO REBUILD B&P TUNNEL AFTER RECEIVING INPUT FROM BALTIMORE COMMUNITY: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today presented a revised proposal to replace the Civil War-era Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel based on feedback provided to the FRA by Baltimore residents during three public hearings in February. In December 2015, the FRA presented three options for replacing the tunnel in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Based on feedback during three recent meetings in February and 19 public hearings, open houses, project and community association meetings during the last two years, two options have fallen (Alternative 3A and Alternative 3C) from consideration, and FRA will make several significant changes to Alternative 3B in the Final EIS. “Rebuilding the B&P Tunnel is a significant undertaking, and it is our responsibility to incorporate input from everyone it will serve and affect,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I encourage everyone to stay involved and provide feedback during the two open forums.” FRA will host two more public hearings to gather additional feedback from residents and stakeholders today, Wednesday, April 6, from 5-8 p.m. at the Frederick Douglass High School Cafeteria, and on Saturday, April 16 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Carver Vocational-Technical High School Cafeteria. FRA’s proposed changes include: not placing the vent plant where a community garden is located and instead seeking community input for a location along North Avenue; reducing the number of parcels of land and historic properties impacted; decreasing relocations; improving the West Baltimore MARC station to be larger and ADA compliant; and shifting the new tunnel closer to the existing tracks;. The proposed tunnel would be an average of 115 feet deep underground in comparison to the average 20 feet of the current B&P Tunnel. The deeper tunnel would nearly eliminate any noticeable vibrations from passing trains. “The changes that the FRA is proposing based on the feedback provided by citizens in Baltimore will reduce the impact to the communities and make the project stronger and better,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “The FRA remains committed to listening to and working with residents in Baltimore as the project moves forward, and we hope everyone will stay engaged.” One hundred and forty Amtrak and MARC trains travel daily through the tunnel that is part of the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail corridor. While Amtrak owns the tunnel, FRA is leading the EIS process in cooperation with Maryland’s Department of Transportation. The federal government has invested $60 million for the preliminary design and environmental review of the project. The state of Maryland estimates 7,000 jobs a year over seven years will be created or supported and more than 50 percent of those jobs will be in construction. (FRA - posted 4/10)

DEVELOPER SELECTED BY MBTA FOR NORTH QUINCY PARKING LOT MIXED USE PROJECT: The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board voted unanimously Monday to approve lease rights to the firms Bozzuto Development and Atlantic Development so the firms may design and build a mixed use project on MBTA land at the North Quincy Red Line Station. The winning bid for the project from Bozzuto and Atlantic was one of three bids under consideration. In addition to creating a large, transit-oriented development that will spur economic growth for the city of Quincy, the project also generates own-source revenue for the MBTA. Bozzuto/Atlantic's offer will pay the MBTA approximately $230 million over the course of a 99-year lease. The project will generate significant new tax revenue for the city of Quincy - estimated at $1.5 million - and a $5.7 million contribution to the city's affordable housing fund. The property is approximately 295,000 square feet, and includes 852 surface parking spaces. It is bordered on the east by Hancock Street, and on the south by West Squantum Street. As part of the project, the developer will build a new parking garage which replaces the 852 surface spaces that will be owned by the T. During the construction phase, parking accommodations will be made when work impacts the current parking area off Hancock Street. An invitation to bid for the property was released on July 1, 2015. It is anticipated that the permitting and design process will take approximately one to two years, with construction possible in 2018. The MBTA has additional parking lot space on Newport Avenue, and will work with the developer to limit parking-related impacts during construction. Bozzuto is a privately held residential real estate company and Atlantic is a firm based in Hingham which has been involved in many non-MBTA projects previously (MBTA - posted 4/10)

TRIBUTE TO CONRAIL IN SOUTH AMERICA: In honor of the 40th Anniversary date of the foundation of Conrail, the Chosica locomotive shop of Peru’s Ferrocarril Central Andino (FCCA) has painted former Conrail C39-8 No. 1031 in a “Tribute” paint scheme. In addition to wearing FCCA’s Conrail-inspired logo, the locomotive has been painted in Conrail colors and named the James A. Hagen, in honor of Conrail’s former Chairman.  FCCA chairman Dr. Juan Olaechea commented, “The Conrail story has had an impact as far away as Cerro de Pasco, on the far side of the Andes. Conrail’s transformation from a State railway into an efficient, competitive private sector enterprise is a path that Peru has followed, and continues to resonate around the world. It is therefore both appropriate and important that we honor that legacy.” Henry Posner III, chairman of FCCA shareholder Railroad Development Corporation, added, “While the Conrail story is well-known, less known is the important role of Jim Hagen in the very beginning of the rail privatization movement. In 1991, Conrail’s willingness to serve in a supporting role in Argentina was critical to lending credibility to a concept that at the time seemed both audacious and risky. That model has since been replicated in many forms worldwide.” Dr. Olaechea concluded, “Jim Hagen showed us the importance of railroads as an industry of the future and their importance for national development, at a time when many people thought that it was an industry of the past.” Later this year, FCCA will be honored to host a visit by Jim Hagen to Peru, at which time the locomotive will be dedicated in a more formal way.  About FCCA Throughout its 535 kilometers (332 mi) of tracks, the Central Railroad is not only legendary as the “Highest and Hardest” for its breathtaking scenery, but also for being the highest railway in the Americas and the second highest in the world, linking the Pacific port of Callao and the capital city of Lima with Huancayo and Cerro de Pasco.  Since its builders conquered the Andes in the 1890s with manual labor, the railway stands as one of the most noteworthy feats of engineering, including 69 tunnels, 58 bridges and 6 zigzags. (RDC -posted 4/01)

READING & NORTHERN ANNOUNCES RDC EXCURSIONS: From May through September the Reading and Northern Railroad will operate RDC Excursions. For the first time in a generation, RDC trips will originate in Pottsville. Included in the ticket price enjoy food service in our refreshment car on board the only RDCs that have windows that open and shut. The commuter-like schedule will get you from Schuylkill County to Jim Thorpe in less than 2 and a half hours.  While in Jim Thorpe, enjoy many of the shops, restaurants, and attractions. Pottsville to Jim Thorpe with stops at Schuylkill Haven and Tamaqua: May 8, May 28, June 18, July 10, August 13, August 28.  Also available are Schuylkill County trips that head to North Reading, then take a tour at the Reading and Northern Railroad Corporate Headquarters in Port Clinton.  The headquarters tour will last nearly one hour.  See a functioning car shop, engine shop, headquarter building, and dispatching center on the tour. Pottsville to North Reading with stops at Schuylkill Haven and tour at Port Clinton Headquarters: June 11, July 30, September 10.  Call 610-562-2102 for pricing, scheduling, and purchasing tickets. (R&N -posted 4/01)

GOVERNOR CUOMO AND LEGISLATORS AGREEN TO FUNDING $27 BILLION FOR MTA: “The landmark financial commitment agreed to today by Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Heastie is a monumental win for the people of New York. This $27 billion agreement marks the largest investment ever made in the MTA. It is an important victory not only for New York City and its suburbs but for all the communities across New York State. The plan will enable the MTA to maintain critical infrastructure while renewing, enhancing and expanding our system to meet the ridership and growth demands of the future and improving the current experience for the millions who critically rely on our system each day. The Governor has once again assured a year-to-year increase in state operating assistance for the transit system and brought us a significant increase in support for the MTA, including a commitment to the second phase of the extension of Second Avenue Subway to East Harlem, and billions of dollars for the essential work of keeping the transit system safe and reliable. Our thanks also go to Senate Majority Leader Flanagan, Speaker Heastie and their members, who recognize that healthy public transit connectivity is the very backbone of our regional economy. The MTA has been hard at work preparing projects supported by the new Capital Program and will now submit a revised plan to our Board as well as to the State's Capital Program Review Board.” (MTA -posted 4/01)

AMTRAK ADVANCING WI-FI TECHNOLOGY: Amtrak is expanding availability of its cellular-based Wi-Fi service, AmtrakConnectSM, as well as advancing new wireless technology on board trains that will lead to overall improvements in Wi-Fi reliability and performance across Amtrak's national network. AmtrakConnectSM is now offered as the latest onboard amenity available to customers on several eastern long-distance trains including the Cardinal (New York – Washington, D.C. – Cincinnati – Indianapolis – Chicago), Crescent (New York – Atlanta – New Orleans), Lake Shore Limited (New York/Boston – Albany – Chicago) and Silver Service (New York – Washington, D.C. – Charleston – Savannah – Jacksonville – Orlando – Tampa/Miami). Amtrak is advancing its Wi-Fi technology and is now offering free Wi-Fi on eastern Long-Distance trains. With this latest service rollout, more than 90 percent of Amtrak's customers have access to free onboard Wi-Fi, allowing them to stay connected and entertained throughout their journeys. "Expanding our Wi-Fi network to eastern long-distance trains provides customers with a much-anticipated and expected amenity," said Lenetta McCampbell, senior director of passenger experience at Amtrak. "Now, more than 28 million customers have access to free onboard Wi-Fi. Our commitment to expand and enhance the customer experience through connectivity is another reason why Amtrak is the smarter way to travel." To ensure that Amtrak's wireless infrastructure and supporting systems represent the very best-in-class in terms of capacity, performance and operational reliability, Amtrak is embarking on a multi-year program aimed at overhauling its current Wi-Fi service. The first phase will focus on replacement of its original onboard equipment— in service since 2010—with the latest next-generation Wi-Fi solution. The implementation of this advanced solution will allow Amtrak to incorporate higher-speed backhaul technologies, such as trackside Wi-Fi and satellite. In addition, it will lay the foundation for future applications that will further enhance the customer experience including onboard entertainment and real-time journey information. The second phase will focus on further construction of Amtrak's groundbreaking private trackside wireless network, a high-speed fiber network that, when implemented over the next two to four years, could stretch from Washington, D.C. to Boston.  The network promises to deliver significantly better performance than the limited cellular-based solution in use today. "Our next-generation onboard technology solution, in combination with our trackside network, will enable us to provide our customers with a better, faster and even more reliable Internet experience while also enabling Amtrak to remain competitive in the aggressive travel marketplace," McCampbell said. In October, Amtrak launched Wi-Fi on Auto Train, an east coast long-distance train that travels between Lorton, Va. and Sanford, Fla. To see a full list of wireless-enabled train routes and stations across the Amtrak national network, please visit: https://www.amtrak.com/journey-with-wi-fi-train-station . Free Wi-Fi is just one of the many perks of traveling with Amtrak. In addition, customers can enjoy a generous baggage policy, an improved Amtrak Guest Rewards program and an expanded pets program. (Amtrak, Alex Mayes, Randy Kotuby -posted 3/31)

LIRR ANNOUNCES START OF $23.9 MILLION MODERNIZATION OF WANTAGH STATION: MTA Long Island Rail Road today announced that the planned $23.9 million rehabilitation of the LIRR’s Wantagh Station is getting underway with Long Island-based Fortunato Sons Contracting, Inc., as the primary contractor on a project expected to create 100 construction jobs. The infrastructure investment at Wantagh, financed by the MTA Capital Program, will include a new concrete platform, segmented canopy, platform waiting room, escalator, elevator, lighting, communications system and signage as well as a distinctive public art project. It’s all part of the first significant upgrade of the facility since it was built nearly 50 years ago. The addition of an elevator will make the station ADA accessible for the first time. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced an initiative to speed up station enhancement projects by changing MTA contracting procedures to enable one private sector company to build to its own designs. Although the design of the Wantagh station modernization was already completed prior to this new initiative, the LIRR is closely monitoring this “design-build” approach, which is being undertaken at other LIRR projects as well as 31 New York City Transit subway stations, in order to adopt best practices for its future capital projects. The LIRR currently expects it will take two years to complete the project, which must be carried out in stages so as not to impact train service. But in keeping with the Governor’s initiative, the LIRR will also work with the contractor to identify ways to speed the timeline for the project. During construction, when one end of the station platform or the other is closed, customers will have to follow detour signs to the active portion of the station. In addition, a limited number of parking spaces will be temporarily affected along the station plaza. The LIRR will be alerting customers to these changes in advance by posting signs, making public address announcements and issuing customer service alerts via email or text message. MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said: “This station rehabilitation project is part of the MTA’s ongoing commitment to Long Island and will benefit thousands of customers who depend each day on the LIRR. Governor Cuomo has made clear that New York State needs to support projects like this, which create construction jobs and help the local economy.” LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said: “Wantagh Station is going to look spectacular when this project is complete. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s commitment to the MTA, the LIRR continues its modernization efforts across Long Island with the Wantagh Station Rehabilitation Project. The Babylon branch is our busiest line and we are investing in these improvements to better serve our customers.” The Wantagh Station project also features a permanent public art project under the MTA Arts & Design Program. MTA Arts & Design selected artist Marc Dennis’ proposal for a colored art glass scenes depicting an idyllic day at nearby Jones Beach decorating waiting room windows. Colorful and realistic paintings of birds, beachgoers, sunsets, seashells and fish will be translated into glass for the completed artwork. In addition, mosaic panels at stairways will highlight ocean waves and the shoreline. Fortunato Sons Contracting, a fourth generation family enterprise, is no stranger to the Long Island Rail Road having completed two other LIRR projects in recent years, the Massapequa Station platform rehabilitation and the construction of the LIRR’s new train wash facility in Babylon. (MTA -posted 3/31)

STEAM IS COMING BACK TO STEAMTOWN: Steamtown National Historic Site will host an entrance fee-free week to celebrate National Park Week from Saturday, April 16 through Sunday, April 24. This year is the National Park Service's centennial, and we invite your family to "Find Your Park." All indoor and outdoor exhibit areas and park museum facilities including guided tours and the park movie, "Steel and Steam," are included in the entrance fee-free week. We'll begin our seasonal train rides with a dedication ceremony on Sunday, April 17, returning our 1929 Baldwin Locomotive Works 0-6-0 steam locomotive to service. While the park will open at 9:00 a.m., the festivities will begin at 11:00 a.m., and will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, free commemorative baseball-type cards of the locomotive's history and statistics, and a special photo exhibit in our Technology Museum that documents the locomotive's restoration. "Scranton Limited" short train rides within the Steamtown NHS yards will be powered by the newly-restored locomotive that day, and will operate continuously between 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Cost of the "Scranton Limited" rides are $5.00 per person, all ages 6 and older, and will include a special commemorative ticket issued for that day. The "Scranton Limited" will operate as follows for the remainder of April, at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.; the "Nay Aug Gorge Limited" will operate on Sundays following the same schedule:
  • April 20 – "Scranton Limited" operating with diesel power
  • April 21 – "Scranton Limited" operating with diesel power
  • April 22 – "Scranton Limited" operating with steam power (BLW #26)
  • April 23 – "Scranton Limited" operating with steam power (BLW #26)
  • April 24 – "Nay Aug Gorge Limited" operating with steam power (BLW #26)
  • April 28 – "Scranton Limited" operating with diesel power
  • April 29 – "Scranton Limited" operating with steam power (BLW #26)
  • April 30 – "Scranton Limited" operating with steam power (BLW #26)
  • May 1 – "Nay Aug Gorge Limited" operating with steam power (BLW #26)
Except during the entrance fee-free week, the daily entrance fee to the grounds at Steamtown is $7.00 per adult, all ages 16 and older. Children ages 15 and younger, accompanied by an adult, are admitted to the park at no cost.Included in the entrance fee are all walking tours offered by the Steamtown NHS staff, including museum access and the park movie, "Steel and Steam." Train ride fares are extra cost. Located in downtown Scranton, Pa., Steamtown NHS is open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. through March 19; summer hours, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. resume on Sunday, March 20. From I-81 follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). General park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5200 during regular business hours, or by visiting the park website anytime at www.nps.gov/stea (NPS -posted 3/30)

WORK IS PART OF OVER $90 MILLION INVESTMENT TO UPGRADE AMTRAK’S THIRD BUSIEST STATION : Amtrak plans to continue work this spring to restore the facade of Philadelphia 30th Street Station to its former glory. This project is one of several upgrades at the transportation hub completed or now underway to improve the passenger experience, tend to the long-term infrastructure needs of the nearly 100 year-old building and improve pedestrian mobility in and around the facility. These upgrades represent more than $90 million in total capital investment. “30th Street Station is an iconic fixture in Philadelphia,” said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak vice president of Northeast Corridor infrastructure and investment development. “As stewards of this national historic landmark we are committed to ensuring that the Station maintains its status as a first-class facility for passengers and becomes further integrated into the vital University City neighborhood.” In late-March, passengers should expect to see additional scaffolding erected around the southwest corner of the building stretching to the northeast corner. This scaffolding will be the support work for Phase I of the facade restoration project that is scheduled to begin in April and completed in October. Already in place is a temporary sidewalk canopy system to keep pedestrians safe and provide a weather-proof area under which to access the station. Some entrances to the building will be temporarily closed and services relocated throughout the construction period, with appropriate signage indicating alternate points of access. Additionally, Amtrak is planning to repair and restore the station’s portico doors, many of which are original to the 1930s construction of the station. The combined projects are estimated to cost $60 million upon completion. There will be no disruption or alteration to train service as a result of the construction (Amtrak -posted 3/30)

BNSF RAILWAY LAUNCHES VIDEO SERIES "MAKING CONNECTIONS": BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) today launched the first video in a new series called “Making Connections,” which takes viewers behind the scenes with railroad employees as they provide the safe transportation of people and products across the Pacific Northwest. Filmed across Washington and Oregon, the new series showcases the everyday lives of BNSF employees – both on and off the job. In this series, you will see how BNSF employees address slope stabilization in Puget Sound, offer training and education to local first responders, and keep BNSF infrastructure in top condition to help ensure the safe transportation of a broad range of materials and finished products we depend on every day. The series will also show why BNSF employees volunteer their time in their local communities to improve the quality of life and why they are committed to the work they do. Our employees know the Pacific Northwest is a special place and this series will highlight why they are proud to call it home. “Communities across the Pacific Northwest depend on freight rail to deliver the goods we all use, but often they don’t see the intricate work that our people undertake every day to safely and efficiently make that happen,” said Andrew Johnsen, assistant vice president, Community Affairs. “This new series will allow viewers to better understand why our people are so committed to Pacific Northwest, our complex operations, and the unique 24/7 culture of BNSF that helps keep the PNW on the move.” The first video features Roger Hsieh, BNSF’s Agricultural Ombudsman for the Pacific Northwest. Hsieh’s role is to interact directly with agricultural producers in the Pacific Northwest and work with them to ensure their needs are effectively served by BNSF. In this segment, he explains why freight rail is not only important to American farmers and ranchers, but to the millions of consumers who benefit from the safe, efficient transportation of agricultural products. How to Watch: The videos will be available at BNSFNorthwest.com and through BNSF’s social media channels, including YouTube.com/BNSFrailway Facebook.com/BNSFrailway , Twitter.com/BNSFrailway, and Instagram.com/BNSFrailway. BNSF plans to release new videos in the series every few months throughout 2016. For those interested in receiving periodic updates on future videos and BNSF news, sign up for our newsletter at BNSFNorthwest.com. (BNSF -posted 3/30)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES CONTRACT AWARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANT FOR LIRR EXPANSION PROJECT: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the hiring of a consulting firm to assist in the environmental review and formal community engagement process for the LIRR Main Line Expansion Project, which calls for adding a third track along a critical 9.8-mile section of LIRR’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville Stations. The addition of the third track will increase capacity while allowing trains to pass disabled equipment and avoid track and signal problems, thus greatly improving service reliability along this heavily traveled corridor. It will also allow for reverse-peak service and greater intra-Island travel, and support planned service growth in future years as the LIRR begins service to Grand Central Terminal. The contract is being awarded by the Long Island Rail Road to a joint venture of Gannett Fleming and AECOM - firms that have vast experience in conducting in-depth and accelerated reviews. The joint venture was selected by the LIRR to conduct public outreach, environmental review and preliminary engineering. The contract is valued at $6.95 million. "This is an important step forward in this project, which is so critical to the future of Long Island residents and the region's economy," Governor Cuomo said. "Earlier this year, I promised that we would engage with the community at an unprecedented level and use the environmental review process to mitigate adverse impacts on the local communities in every way possible. This project will not only improve commutes but also reduce traffic congestion and strengthen the environment by getting more Long Islanders out of their cars." The contract announced today calls for the development of initial conceptual engineering designs within the existing right-of-way between Floral Park and Hicksville where a third track will be constructed and can be extended to cover preparation of design-build contracts and additional support during the project’s construction. The review will also identify community benefits from the project and ways to mitigate adverse impacts during construction. Governor Cuomo has already announced that construction of the third track right-of-way will not require any acquisition of residential properties. The LIRR Main Line Expansion project will greatly benefit the local communities by modifying all seven street-level railroad crossings in the project's corridor. The project team will work with local communities to determine the best possible outcome for each crossing. The seven crossings are:
  • Covert Avenue in New Hyde Park
  • S. 12th Street in New Hyde Park
  • New Hyde Park Road in New Hyde Park
  • Main Street in Mineola
  • Willis Avenue in Mineola
  • School Street in Westbury
  • Urban Avenue in New Cassel
Modifying these crossings will increase safety for motorists, pedestrians and rail commuters; eliminate traffic congestion on local streets from crossing gates, and sharply reduce noise from bells and train horns. The environmental review process will also include an extensive public outreach program that will far exceed statutory requirements. This effort will encompass public meetings, a project office within the affected corridor and frequent meetings and other communications with local elected officials and community stakeholders. Outreach is being modeled on the highly successful process used on the New NY Bridge project, in which the environmental review was expedited to happen concurrently with the project team conducting more than 100 community meetings. The LIRR and the Gannett Fleming/AECOM team will hold public hearings, accept formal public comment, and issue an environmental impact statement about the project (MTA -posted 3/29)

CP FILES DEFINITIVE PROXY STATEMENT REGARDING SHAREHOLDER PROPOSAL FOR NS ANNUAL MEETING, WELCOMES OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH NS BOARD: Canadian Pacific (CP) (CP) today filed its definitive proxy statement for its Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS) shareholder resolution asking their board of directors to engage in good faith discussions with CP regarding a business combination. CP also filed a letter that will be sent to all NS shareholders about the opportunity to create significant value for NS shareholders. In filing its own definitive proxy statement on March 28, NS stated: "[The] Shareholder Proposal from Canadian Pacific is Unnecessary Because Norfolk Southern Would Have Discussions with CP if it Obtains a Declaratory Order and States a Willingness to Meaningfully Increase its Offer." "CP has consistently stated that we are open to discussing all terms of a potential deal, including price, but we can't negotiate with ourselves," said CP CEO, E. Hunter Harrison. "Given we have also asked the Surface Transportation Board for a declaratory order on the voting trust model we were pleased to hear that Norfolk Southern may now be willing to engage in direct face-to-face discussions." CP's proposed business combination with NS would create a true end-to-end transcontinental railroad that would enhance competition, benefit the public and drive economic growth. CP has demonstrated from the beginning that it is flexible on price, having improved its offer twice already, and shown flexibility on the structure of a potential combination, offering a voting trust structure as the quickest way for NS shareholders to receive consideration for their shares. CP has consistently said, however, that the voting trust is not a condition of its offer. NS shareholders have been telling CP from the beginning that their own board should, at the very least, talk to CP about a potential combination. CP's shareholder resolution to NS asks shareholders to formally vote in favour of what they have been saying to CP anecdotally for months; it is a vote for a discussion between the two companies, not on the proposal itself. The shareholder resolution will be voted on at the NS annual meeting May 12 in Williamsburg, Virginia. "The NS board has refused to meet with us in the past, which ultimately led to our shareholder resolution," said Harrison. "While we remain open to meeting with them anytime and anywhere, we are putting the question to the shareholders of NS so they can finally be heard. We continue to see tremendous opportunity and enormous potential in the proposed business combination." CP strongly believes that a combined railroad would offer unparalleled customer service and competitive rates that will support the success of the shippers and industries it serves, create far more shareholder value than NS' strategic plan and satisfy the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and other regulators. (CP -posted 3/29)

SEPTA RELEASES PROPOSED FISCAL YEAR 2017 OPERATING BUDGET PUBLIC HEARINGS THROUGHOUT REGION APRIL 25-29: SEPTA has released its proposed Fiscal Year 2017 Operating Budget and Fiscal Years 2018-2021 Financial Projections. The Authority will hold a series of public hearings on the spending plan throughout the five-county service region April 25-29. SEPTA's proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2016, the 12-month period from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, is $1.4 billion, an increase of approximately 3 percent over Fiscal Year 2016. The operating budget provides funding for the everyday costs of running the transit system, such as labor, fuel and power. The proposed Fiscal Year 2017 Operating Budget maintains current SEPTA service levels, with no increase in fares for riders. The budget reflects SEPTA's ongoing efforts to control costs. Fuel consumption, for example, has been reduced, thanks in large part to the Authority's effort to replace aging buses with more fuel efficient diesel-electric hybrids. SEPTA expects fuel consumption to decrease by 2.2 million gallons annually. In addition, costs for injuries and damages are also expected to go down, due in large part to the increased role of video evidence from surveillance cameras. To engage the public in the budget process, SEPTA holds two hearings in each of the five counties in which it operates. Public comments are considered before the budget proposal goes to the SEPTA Board for a vote at its monthly meeting in May. Below is the public hearing schedule:
  • Bucks County-Monday, April 25: Bucks County Free Library, Pearl Buck Room; 150 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA. Hearings at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Philadelphia-Tuesday, April 26: SEPTA Headquarters, Board Room-Mezzanine Level; 1234 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA. Sessions at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Delaware County-Wednesday, April 27: Delaware County Courthouse, County Council Meeting Room-First Floor; 201 West Front Street, Media, PA. Hearings at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Montgomery County-Thursday, April 28: Montgomery County Human Services Center, Community Room-Main Floor; 1430 Dekalb Pike, Norristown, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Chester County-Friday, April 29: West Chester Borough Hall, Council Chambers; 401 East Gay Street, West Chester, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
To view the full budget proposal, please visit the Reports page . For the public hearing notice and form to submit comments, visit the Public Hearing page . (SEPTA -posted 3/28)

GATEWAY PROGRAM PARTNERS MOVE CRITICAL REGIONAL TRANSIT AND RAIL PROJECT FORWARD : The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Amtrak, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, together with NJ TRANSIT, and with the support of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) announced a series of concrete steps to move the Gateway Program forward.
  • - The Gateway Program’s Hudson Tunnel Project to construct a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River will receive $70 million in funding for critical preliminary engineering work, with $35 million in federal funding coming from Amtrak and $35 million from the Port Authority, subject to the consideration and approval of each party’s Boards, in order to expedite and accelerate environmental review and permitting for the Hudson Tunnel Project.
  • - U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the department will commit the necessary resources and take steps to accelerate federal environmental reviews and permitting for the Hudson Tunnel Project. Inclusion of the project on the President’s Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard is expected and will help ensure swift and thorough completion of the environmental process. NJ TRANSIT already has issued a formal notice-to-proceed for consulting services funded by Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT to help support the process
  • - The Port Authority, Amtrak, the U.S. Department of Transportation and NJ TRANSIT have agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding setting forth an interim framework for coordination among the parties to advance the Program, including establishment of an executive committee to coordinate activities and specific working groups focusing on environmental permitting, construction and preliminary engineering, funding and financing, rail operations, and governance matters.
  • - The local agencies also announced their intent to apply for competitive federal grants in the coming months – including those recently authorized by the FAST Act in December 2015 - to advance the Gateway Program. Representatives expect to pursue funding in the coming months from the U.S. Department of Transportation from grant programs such as TIGER, FASTLANE and New Starts. These grants would help fund Gateway’s projects including the Hudson Tunnel Project, Portal Bridge replacement project in New Jersey, and the completion of the Hudson Yards tunnel right-of-way preservation project in Manhattan, which has already received $235 million in federal funds. A $16 million TIGER grant has previously been awarded to NJ TRANSIT to help replace the century-old Portal Bridge which long has been a chokepoint for travel along the Northeast Corridor. NJ TRANSIT will solicit contract proposals for early construction work in the second quarter of 2016.
  • - The project participants announced today that the Port Authority, Amtrak, and USDOT are taking steps towards finalizing the structure and form of a development corporation to oversee the entire Program. The parties are structuring the new entity to maximize flexibility and eligibility for the full spectrum of federal funding and financing programs, as well as potential public-private partnership structures in order to accomplish the various aspects of the Gateway Program.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on authorizing $35 million for preliminary engineering for the Hudson Tunnel Project at its March 24 meeting. Amtrak has also pledged $35 million for the preliminary engineering work which will support the environmental and planning efforts for the tunnel project. The new tunnel will allow for the closure and rehabilitation of the existing 106-year old tunnel that was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. The new two-track, trans-Hudson rail tunnel will provide a vital backup to the current century-old tunnel. This financial commitment will help build momentum and expedite review and permitting for the rehabilitation of the existing tunnel and creation of the new tunnel. The Hudson Tunnel Project is a major priority of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Amtrak, the Port Authority, and NJ TRANSIT. The 50/50 contribution from Amtrak and the Port Authority for preliminary engineering is consistent with the overall framework announced in November. Following calls to action by Secretary Foxx, Governors Christie and Cuomo and Senators Booker and Schumer, the non-federal agencies have been pursuing a 50/50 framework between federal and local funding. A development corporation will be responsible for developing a specific funding and financing plan for the Program. The Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners is also expected to be briefed on steps being taken towards the formation of a development corporation that will oversee and manage the Gateway Program. Consistent with the framework outlined in the November 12, 2015 press release issued by Governors Christie and Cuomo, and Senators Booker and Schumer, the corporation’s board would consist of representatives from Amtrak, Commissioners of the Port Authority as representatives of the States of New York and New Jersey, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Gateway Program will deliver a set of rail infrastructure projects between Newark, NJ and New York City. Major projects include the construction of the Hudson Tunnel Project including the rehabilitation of the existing rail tunnel, replacement of the Portal and Sawtooth bridges in New Jersey, the Hudson Yards tunnel right-of-way preservation project, and expansion of New York Penn Station, Newark Penn Station, and Secaucus Junction. The Program will improve resiliency and – when completed – is expected to significantly increase capacity for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT along the busy Northeast Corridor line. New York and New Jersey representatives also are expected to utilize federal low-interest loan opportunities as another way to meet their share of the Program’s cost. Later this year, preliminary filings are expected to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s credit programs, which will allow for accelerated funding decisions on various projects in the Gateway Program. (PANYNJ -posted 3/25)

AMTRAK RECOGNIZED AS A TOP EMPLOYER : Amtrak received recognition for workplace excellence by earning a spot in Forbes magazine’s America’s Best Employers 2016. More than 20,000 Amtrak employees nationwide give customers a safe and reliable travel experience that delivers on a shared vision of moving America where it wants to go. America’s Railroad® is on the list for the second year in a row and is among 500 employers across 25 industries where the workers feel right at home at the office and like their jobs enough to tell others. Listed under the transportation & logistics category, Amtrak was chosen based on Forbes’ independent survey of 30,000 workers throughout the U.S. to see which companies were the best. “Amtrak is a remarkable story because of the people who continuously make the railroad the smarter way to travel,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said. “We want employees to find a safe workplace, be challenged, and rewarded with competitive pay and benefits in a performance-oriented culture.” The nation’s intercity rail provider operates more than 300 trains each day and reaches more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces. Employees enable a national network of long-distance, corridor and high-speed rail, connecting communities, regions and various modes of transportation all across the country. This recognition as a top employer highlights a work environment where everyone adds value and contributes to the business of delivering the company’s mission and strategic goals to provide rail service with superior safety, customer service and financial excellence.Amtrak welcomes applicants to jobs.Amtrak.com jobs.Amtrak.com to join a diverse workforce of professionals in a variety of career fields throughout the United States. We seek qualified, and dedicated professionals to join #TeamAmtrak (Amtrak -posted 3/24)

30,000 RAILROAD TIES TO BE REPLACED ON FRAMINGHAM-WORCESTER LINE : Work is set to start on the Framingham-Worcester Line this month, with a goal of replacing 25,000-30,000 railroad ties while work to end the line’s heat-related speed restrictions wraps up. Keolis Commuter Services, which operates and maintains MBTA Commuter Rail, will be performing and overseeing much of this work, which is expected to have minimal impact on passengers. Most of the work will be performed mid-day to avoid peak commutes. Some speed restrictions will take place around the construction. “Commuter rail’s performance on the Framingham-Worcester Line has improved dramatically thanks to the work we and the MBTA have already completed,” said Keolis General Manager Gerald C. Francis. “This next round of track work will help move trains more efficiently and finally end the speed restrictions riders have dealt with for many years.” The track on the Framingham-Worcester Line was built and maintained by previous railroads using different design and maintenance standards than the MBTA. When the MBTA took control of the rail line in 2012, there were insufficient records available about the original installation of the rail, which helps engineers verify that the rail will respond to heat variations between winter and summer season. To compensate for these unknowns, over the past two years the MBTA has either replaced rail or de-stressed sections of rail to ensure the safety of the Worcester Line. That work is ongoing this spring between Worcester and Framingham, and between Newtonville and Wellesley Farms. When complete, the commuter line will be free of speed restrictions. At the same time, crews will start replacing 25,000-30,000 railroad ties between Newtonville and Southborough. Tie replacement will continue into the fall. In addition, the construction of the new Boston Landing Station will be taking place near the New Balance headquarters in Allston. None of these projects are expected to impact peak service on the line, though off-peak service could be slowed by speed restrictions near construction zones. (Keolis Commuter Services -posted 3/23)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 19, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Mar. 19, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 483,463 carloads and intermodal units, down 14 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Mar. 19 were 235,390 carloads, down 17.2 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 248,073 containers and trailers, down 10.7 percent compared to 2015. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 20.4 percent to 9,837 carloads; chemicals, up 4.9 percent to 31,343 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 2.7 percent to 19,273 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 38.7 percent to 64,754 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 26.8 percent to 10,644 carloads; and grain, down 10.6 percent to 21,494 carloads. For the first 11 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,672,765 carloads, down 13.3 percent from the same point last year; and 2,847,908 intermodal units, up 3.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 11 weeks of 2016 was 5,520,673 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 5.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Mar. 19, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 324,512 carloads, down 14.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 312,043 intermodal units, down 9.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 636,555 carloads and intermodal units, down 12.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 11 weeks of 2016 was 7,235,289 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.8 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 72,655 carloads for the week, down 7.3 percent, and 53,982 intermodal units, down 7.4 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 11 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,418,183 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,467 carloads for the week, up 5.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,988 intermodal units, up 1.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 11 weeks of 2016 was 296,433 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.1 percent from the same point last year. (AAR -posted 3/23)

CN CONTINUES TO ROLL OUT SAFETY INNOVATION PROGRAM AS PART OF ITS BROADER AGENDA TO ENHANCE THE SAFETY OF OPERATIONS: CN announced today the launch of the third year of its Safety Innovation Program. The Program is part of CN's broader safety agenda that is focused on enhancing the safety of operations and making the company the safest railway in North America. Jim Vena, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "For the third year in a row, we're stepping up our efforts to leverage new technology to bolster our Safety Management System that is designed to minimize risk and continually reduce accidents and injuries. Our general approach is to develop more lines of defence against accidents. Our 2016 Program, which supplements our on-going investments in track infrastructure maintenance and safety culture, brings the total applied to the Safety Innovation Program to C$67 million since 2014." The 2016 portion will involve spending C$28 million on a series of initiatives, including:
  • The installation of new Wayside Inspection Systems at additional locations specifically identified as a result of CN's corridor risk assessment program;
  • The acquisition of additional hi-rail trucks that measure track geometric parameters such as rail gauge and cross level, and
  • Predictive analytics and data management initiatives to assess mechanical trends and identify opportunities for pre-emptive maintenance work, as well as give engineering forces a better understanding of track health so that they can prioritize maintenance and capital programs.
A major step in upgrading CN's detection technology was the completion in 2015 of a new Track Evaluation System car that was upgraded with the latest technology for assessing track geometry, identifying missing and broken track components through optical imaging, as well as objectively evaluating tie condition. CN also employs outside contractors who conduct ultrasonic technology inspections to detect internal rail defects that are not visible. CN has the densest network of wayside detection technology in North America and has increased the number of wayside inspection detectors on its network by more than 30 per cent in the past decade, and increased the number of wheel impact load detectors by 60 per cent over the same period. CN has also doubled the frequency of ultrasonic flaw detection over the last 10 years. Vena said: "The application of new technologies to detect and prevent mechanical and engineering flaws is a key part of our safety mindset. This approach and rigorous safety processes and the continued strengthening of our safety culture are integral to our unwavering commitment to safety." (CN, Randy Kotuby -posted 3/22)

SPECIAL TRAIN RIDE AND BANQUET AT THE ALLENTOWN & AUBURN R.R. The Railroad Historians of the Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh Valley Chapter NRHS will host their annual banquet at the Allentown & Auburn Railroad, in Kutztown, Pa., on Saturday April 16. Ride of the Allentown & Auburn Railroad, departing Kutztown at 12 noon. Runbys and tour of the Topton shop. Meal at 3:30 p.m. at the historic Kutztown station. All welcome, no membership required. Fare: $40.00. Tickets: Send check payable to Lehigh Valley Chapter NRHS, c/o James Danner, 840 Point Phillip Rd., Bath Pa. 18014. Info: phone (610) 704-7738. posted 3/22)

METRO-NORTH MAKES EAST OF HUDSON SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS AND EXPANDS QUIET CAR PROGRAM: Metro-North’s East of Hudson schedules will be changing on April 3, 2016 to improve on-time performance during peak travel periods, support critical track and infrastructure work and address customer requests. Certain morning and evening rush hour trains on the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson Lines will be adjusted by between 1 and 4 minutes. These minor adjustments will decrease train dwell time at stations, relieve congestion, increase train speed, help prevent the cascading impact of minor delays and improve on-time performance. “After conducting a comprehensive point-by-point analysis of performance on East of Hudson lines, we made changes to existing schedules.” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “Refining the schedule allows us to continue to improve upon train reliability, giving our customers service that they can count on.” The new schedule change also means a quieter ride for more Metro-North customers. “The response to our quiet car program has been incredibly positive,” said Giulietti. “We listened to our customers and expanded the ‘Quiet CALM-mute’ program.” Starting on April 4, two Quiet Cars® will be available on every weekday train, both rush hour and non-rush hour service. On all weekday inbound trains, the last two cars will be designated Quiet Cars®, and on all weekday outbound trains, the first two cars will be designated Quiet Cars.® Quiet Car is the registered service mark of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) and is being used by permission. A summary of the planned weekday schedule changes follows: Harlem Line: Eight morning rush hour trains will be adjusted by 2–4 minutes. All four evening rush hour Wassaic through trains will have intermediate times adjusted by 1–2 minutes. Wassaic arrival times remain the same. Hudson Line:
  • The 5:35 a.m. train from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central Terminal will depart 2 minutes earlier at 5:33 a.m.
  • Arrival time of the 4:54 p.m. train from Grand Central Terminal to Croton-Harmon will be adjusted 1-2 minutes later from Morris Heights to Croton-Harmon.
Metro-North responded to travel needs of our customers and added service. Due to the high volume of customers traveling to the Manitou and Breakneck Ridge stations in good weather to hike, three additional round trips will make these stops on weekends. New Haven Line:
  • Twelve morning peak hour trains will be adjusted by 1-4 minutes.
  • Five evening peak trains will be adjusted by 1-3 minutes.
To accommodate needed repairs to the Devon movable bridge and catenary wire work, the temporary station at Devon Transfer will be reactivated through October 2016. All Waterbury Branch customers who usually transfer to main line trains at Bridgeport will instead get off at the Devon Transfer; travel time on the Waterbury branch will not be impacted. This bridge and track work being coordinated by Metro-North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation will help ensure the on-going reliability of the New Haven Line. (MTA -posted 3/21)

SAVINGS 101: STUDENTS SAVE 15 PERCENT ON AMTRAK : Students ages 17-25 can now enjoy 15 percent off the lowest available value fares all year long with the launch of the Amtrak student discount, effective immediately. To take advantage of the discount, students must book travel three days in advance, exclusively on www.Amtrak.com , and present valid photo identification on board the train. With spring and summer right around the corner, the discount offers students affordable fares, convenient service and the chance to travel to more than 500 destinations across Amtrak’s national network. Wherever students choose to go – whether it’s visiting a college campus, following a favorite team to the next away game, planning a weekend getaway, or visiting friends and family – Amtrak allows students to skip the hassles of the road and enjoy the journey. Parents will enjoy that Amtrak offers a safe and affordable way for students to travel back and forth to school. Students can also take advantage of comfortable, spacious seating, outlets at every seat and free AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi on many routes to browse, post and stay connected. Plus, Amtrak’s generous baggage policy allows students to bring two bags and two carry-ons for free. Fares are subject to availability. Others restrictions may apply. (Amtrak -posted 3/21)

AN EVEN CLASSIER AMTRAK CRESCENT SERVICE: The Crescent (Trains 19 & 20) has long been known as one of the most historic routes on the national Amtrak network. Now, with an available upgrade to Business class, it is an even more comfortable way to travel from New York to New Orleans, via Washington; Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala., and Hattiesburg, Miss., effective April 1. For a surcharge of $75 per person or less, passengers can enjoy bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards® points and the following amenities:
  • Spacious seats in a car reserved for Business class
  • Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages
  • Complimentary access to major newspapers via AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi as cellular data service permits along the route
  • Access to Philadelphia’s Club Acela at 30th Street Station for $20 a person
Operating daily, the Crescent gives travelers a unique window to the beauty and heritage of the American South. You can tour Monticello or enjoy a wine tasting in the charming Virginia college town of Charlottesville. Or enjoy a stroll through the vibrant shopping and dining scene of Atlanta. As you travel further south, you'll reach New Orleans, where you never run out of things to do. From jazz clubs to Cajun restaurants to Mississippi riverboat rides, the city was built to entertain. Connections to other Amtrak trains can also be made in New Orleans. In addition to Business class, Sleeping car upgrades are also available on the Crescent, as well as Coach class seating that offers more room than almost any other transportation mode. (Amtrak -posted 3/17)

MTA TO REBUILD CRUCIAL AGING SECTIONS OF M LINE IN BROOKLYN AND QUEENS: MTA New York City Transit is preparing to rebuild two crucial sections of the M Subway line in Brooklyn and Queens in order to ensure that two decades-old deteriorating overpasses remain safe for travel. The vital construction will occur at two sections: a metal bridge between the Fresh Pond Rd and Middle Village-Metropolitan Av stations will require a two-month shutdown. The work will begin in summer 2017 in order to cause the least possible disruption for students at nearby Christ the King Regional High School. The second section of construction will occur at the century-old concrete viaduct that carries the M Subway line between the Myrtle Av and Central Av stations. That section will be shut down for 10 months beginning in summer 2017. “These temporary closures are vital to the long term viability of the M Subway line in Brooklyn and Queens,” said NYC Transit President Veronique 'Ronnie' Hakim. “Both of these structures have deteriorated to the point that there is simply no other option than complete replacement, and undergoing this step will ensure a safe, more reliable experience for customers for decades to come. We will work closely with the affected communities, their elected officials and other representatives to minimize the disruption and address their concerns, and we will do our utmost to complete this work as quickly as possible.” In order to ensure that the M Subway line and supporting infrastructure remain safe - the MTA's top priority - this work cannot be postponed because the structures have already severely deteriorated. The construction calls for rebuilding both sections using new material that will last longer than the original material, which is considered subpar by today's building standards. The work will also include replacing steel girders, track beds and the platforms that carry the tracks. Because both structures are being completely replaced, the work requires the entire shutdown of the line during the construction. "The 103 year-old Bushwick viaduct was not built to last forever. It remains safe for subway riders today but severe deterioration of the concrete deck and other components require that it be replaced,” Hakim said. Contingency Plans for Customers The MTA will offer robust shuttle bus service and subway service changes to customers affected by the closures.
  • Phase 1: In the first phase of work during summer 2017, there will be no M Subway service between Myrtle Av and Middle Village-Metropolitan Av for two months (nearby Christ the King Regional High School will not be in session during this time). Two new shuttle bus routes will serve closed stations along the line, while a third shuttle bus route will operate between the Flushing Av J and M Subway station and the Middle Village-Metropolitan Av M Subway station with an intermediate stop at the Jefferson St L Subway station.
  • Phase 2: When the metal bridge has been replaced, the second phase of work will commence for eight more months until spring 2018. During this phase, an M Subway shuttle will run between Middle Village-Metropolitan Av and Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs, where customers can transfer to the L Subway train. The Knickerbocker Av and Central Av stations on the M Subway line will remain closed during this period, and will be served by a shuttle bus between Myrtle Av and Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs. Those stations are also within a 10-minute walk of alternate subway stations on the L Subway and J and Z Subway lines.
During the shutdown, M Subway trains to and from Manhattan will be rerouted along the J and Z Subway tracks from Marcy Av to Broadway Junction, though peak hour frequency will be reduced by 25 percent. To accommodate displaced M Subway customers, J and Z Subway trains will make all stops between Marcy Av and Broadway Junction, while L Subway trains will operate at peak frequency for extended durations each day. (MTA -posted 3/17)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT NAMES NEW HEAD OF SUBWAYS: Wynton Habersham, the Acting Senior Vice President of the Department of Subways, has been appointed to fill the role permanently. The Senior Vice President of Subways is responsible for planning, directing and controlling the subway and its safe operation. Habersham, a 33-year veteran of NYC Transit, filled the vacancy after Joseph Leader retired in December 2015. Previously, Habersham was Vice President and Chief Officer for Service Delivery. His diverse background in NYC Transit includes a stint as the Vice President of the Maintenance of Way division, which saw a significant decrease in fires and employee accidents during his tenure, and work in subway operations and capital programs. The son of a retired Transit subway conductor, Habersham began his career at Transit in the signals division. “Wynton knows this system inside and out, and his expertise and guidance helped get us through a major snowstorm in January 2016, when we shut down outdoor portions of the system for a snowstorm for the first time,” said NYC Transit President Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “He effectively managed the partial shutdown and the quick resumption of service, which helped protect our fleet and equipment, but most important, our employees and customers. He knows the system and as a native son of the Bronx, Wynton understands the needs of our customers.” Habersham’s appointment comes as NYC Transit prepares for the opening of the Second Avenue Subway in December 2016 and sweeping changes to upgrade a century-old subway system that is experiencing record ridership. These improvements include hundreds of new subway cars, the replacement of antiquated signal equipment with Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC), and new technology such as underground cell phone service and Wi-Fi connectivity. All of these improvements are being implemented against a backlog of repairs and fortification projects necessitated by Superstorm Sandy-related damage. “The challenge before me is looking at ways we can do better,” Habersham said. “Our record ridership shows we are doing things right, but it is also putting a strain on our resources. We must find ways to make improvements, whether it’s getting information on service changes out faster and in more ways that are accessible to our increasingly tech-savvy customers, or accelerating our fleet maintenance schedule to ensure the equipment is keeping up with this increase in wear-and-tear. I am excited to take on this challenge.” “This is the job of a lifetime and my initial goals are the ones that I will carry with me during my entire tenure -- to meet or exceed the demands and expectations of the nearly six million customers who ride the subway each day,” Habersham added. “Our most important asset to achieve these goals is our employees, and you can’t put a value on who they are or what they do. Despite the age of the system, they go out every day and make this work. More than any other time, more is expected of us and we are all excited about meeting these new challenges.” Habersham’s appointment is effective immediately, marking the first African-American to lead the subway division. (MTA -posted 3/17)

OMINTRAX LOGISTICS SERVICES LLC CHARTS PATH FOR GROWTH IN 2016: OmniTRAX Logistics Services, LLC (OLS), the transloading, terminal and logistics affiliate of OmniTRAX, Inc. is rapidly expanding its service territory throughout the US in 2016. OmniTRAX, Inc., one of the largest privately held rail and transportation service companies in North America and an affiliate of The Broe Group, is promoting the unit’s growth with the launch of a new website at www.myshippingmadeeasy.com . OLS, which provides a full range of transportation and handling services, built the website to accentuate the company’s “We Make Shipping Easy” slogan. OLS currently operates transload and terminal facilities on OmniTRAX-affiliated railroads located in Windsor, CO.; Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK; Brownsville, TX and Peru, IL. Additionally, OLS operates a transload facility in Buffalo, NY on the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad. Through these existing facilities, OLS handles a diverse range of commodities, including industrial products, steel, building products, frac sand, chemicals and plastics. To meet growing customer demand in these and other commodities, OLS is planning to expand its operating locations in 2016 to the Chicago Region, the Central Valley of California and the Southeast. Each of these new locations will be served by an OmniTRAX-affiliated railroad. “We’re seeing strong demand for turn-key transloading and logistics services across the network of OmniTRAX–affiliated railroads. Our customers recognize the value of an integrated supply chain solution, one that combines rail, transloading and terminal services, storage solutions where necessary, and first-mile/last-mile trucking options. The professionals at OLS, in partnership with OmniTRAX–affiliated railroads, provide just that solution,” said Tim Eklund, Vice President – Transload and Logistics, OmniTRAX and President of OLS. “While we are focusing on key regions for expansion, we will look to establish a transload terminal facility wherever we can help our customers grow. We invite any industry wanting to create more efficiency and cost-savings in their supply chain to learn more about OmniTRAX Logistics Services.” The key features of the new OLS website include an overview of the company, a listing of locations, detailed information of each service offering and a comprehensive catalog of the products handled, which include dry and liquid bulk, metal products, consumer products, building products and project cargo. “The OLS website is designed to provide shippers and our logistics partners with a central repository for information on end-to-end supply chain solutions. Because our audience is very busy, we made the site very user friendly by having intuitive links to services and easy access to our customer service team,” said Eklund. ) OmniTRAX, Inc -posted 3/17)

LAST REMAINING LEHIGH & NEW ENGLAND DIESEL LOCOMOTIVE HEADED BACK TO PA: Today was the culmination of a lot of hard work by many people operating as a team to save and return the Lehigh & New England S2 611 to Pennsylvania. Thanks to Will Haines, who supplied these photos, we are able to bring her home. If you live along CSX or NS main line from Anderson, IN to Cleveland, then on to Topton, PA via NS, keep an eye out for her and send photos of it in transit for possible use in a photo display showing her travels. Donations are still being accepted for the restoration and repainting of her to its original paint scheme. Please make payable to Lehigh Valley Chapter, NRHS and send checks or money orders to : Lehigh Valley Chapter, NRHS c/o Kermit Geary JR 1266 Riverview Drive Walnutport, PA 18088 (posted 3/16)

ALL WASHINGTON METRORAIL SERVICE WILL BE SUSPENDED WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, FOR EMERGENCY INSPECTIONS: Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld, with support from the Authority's Board of Directors, today announced the full closure of the Metrorail system on Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections of the system's third-rail power cables following an early morning tunnel fire yesterday. The inspections of approximately 600 "jumper cables" will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system. At the conclusion of the inspection process, there may be a need for additional rail service outages. Any further service impacts will be announced to the public as soon as they are known. "While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately," Wiedefeld said. "When I say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions, and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause." The Metrorail system will close at its normal time tonight (midnight) and remain closed until 5 a.m. Thursday. All six Metrorail lines and all 91 stations will be closed on Wednesday. The unprecedented action follows an early morning electrical fire involving a cable in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station yesterday. There were no injuries; however, service was disrupted along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines throughout the day. “The investigation into yesterday’s cable fire at McPherson Square is ongoing," Wiedefeld said. “As a preliminary matter, the conditions appear disturbingly similar to those in the L’Enfant incident of a year ago, and our focus is squarely on mitigating any risk of a fire elsewhere on the system.” Metrobus and MetroAccess service will continue to operate on a regular schedule. Limited, supplemental Metrobus service will be provided between Pentagon and Downtown DC (Franklin Square). Parking will be free in all Metro-owned lots and garages for customers who wish to take bus or carpool. Alternate service options throughout the region will be extremely limited, and severe crowding is expected on buses. (NS -posted 3/16)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN IMPACTED BY SOUTHERN FLOODING: Due to the severe flood conditions that Western carriers are experiencing, rail traffic moving through the New Orleans, LA gateway will likely incur delays. Where possible, impacted traffic will be re-routed over alternative gateways.  Additionally, some customers may be impacted by embargos issued by Western carriers, which restrict traffic to certain locations. Norfolk Southern continues to closely monitor and adjust operations to minimize traffic delays. (NS -posted 3/16)

FREIGHT RAIL INDUSTRY CHALLENGERS NEED FOR RULE MANDATING TWO PERSON CREW: "Safety is this industry's number one concern, but there is simply no safety case to be made for a regulation that requires two-person crews, especially where Positive Train Control is fully operational," said Edward R. Hamberger, AAR president and CEO. "Worldwide, trains safely operate with one person in the cab, including here in the United States with passenger and commuter trains and some short line freight railroads. Major European railway systems running many mixed freight and passenger trains per day have safely implemented single-person train crews. "Coming from an administration that champions smart, data-driven regulations, it is inexplicable how this proposal was approved by the President's Office of Management and Budget," said Hamberger. "Even the FRA concedes they have no 'reliable or conclusive statistical data' to suggest that two-person crews are safer. I encourage the FRA to reexamine the facts and exercise sound regulatory judgment before finalizing a rule that lacks empirical support." Hamberger pointed out Class 1 freight railroads remain committed to two people in the cab for trains operating on mainline track that is not equipped with Positive Train Control (PTC). PTC will be in operation for 60,000 out of the nation's 140,000-mile freight rail system. "Notwithstanding an extensive body of evidence showing that two-person crews are no safer than one-person crews, the nation's Class 1 freight railroads currently operate with two-person crews, and have committed to continuing that practice for trains without PTC systems in place," Hamberger stated. "PTC is designed to provide continuous monitoring of train operations to protect against human error in controlling train speeds and movements. This is exactly the kind of safety redundancy through technology for which the FRA has long advocated." Hamberger also noted with irony that the proposed rule comes from the Department of Transportation (DOT) at the same time as that agency is enthusiastically promoting autonomous vehicle technology, which would facilitate platoons of un-manned trucks on our nation's highways. The same DOT is determining concrete guidelines for driverless cars, but offers absolutely no guidance to the railroads to move to one-person crews. "The freight rail industry is spending billions to automate operations inside freight locomotives. Instead of piling on additional, duplicative regulatory costs that offer no incremental safety benefit , the government should focus on creating an environment that fuels innovation and technological advancement in furtherance of safety," concluded Hamberger. (AAR -posted 3/16)

?AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 12, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Mar. 12, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 489,177 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Mar. 12 were 243,275 carloads, down 12.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 245,902 containers and trailers, down 10.3 percent compared to 2015. Please note, intermodal volumes last year at this time were higher than usual, reflecting the resolution of a labor dispute at West Coast ports. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 19.7 percent to 9,448 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 15.7 percent to 20,104 carloads; and chemicals, up 4.7 percent to 31,529 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 34.1 percent to 71,221 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.1 percent to 11,067 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 7.1 percent to 19,285 carloads. For the first 10 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,437,375 carloads, down 12.9 percent from the same point last year; and 2,599,835 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 10 weeks of 2016 was 5,037,210 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 4.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Mar. 12, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 328,864 carloads, down 12.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 312,304 intermodal units, down 9.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 641,168 carloads and intermodal units, down 10.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 10 weeks of 2016 was 6,598,734 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.0 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 70,526 carloads for the week, down 11.3 percent, and 56,346 intermodal units, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 10 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,291,546 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4.0 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,063 carloads for the week, down 6.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,056 intermodal units, down 13.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 10 weeks of 2016 was 269,978 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.8 percent from the same point last year. (AAR -posted 3/16)

CANADA'S RAILWAY CELEBRATE THE INDUCTION OF SAINT-LAMBERT, QUEBEC INTO THE CANADIAN RAILWAY HALL OF FAME: Railway Association of Canada (RAC) member-company CN yesterday formally acknowledged the induction of Saint-Lambert, Que. into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame (CRHF), and announced that it will be donating a public plaque to recognize the city's achievement. The announcement was made last night alongside mayor Alain Dépatie at a council meeting at Saint-Lambert City Hall. Michael Bourque, RAC President and CEO, and Gilles B. Legault, Senior Counsel for CN, were in attendance. According to a statement by Sean Finn, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer of CN: "Saint-Lambert was built by a railway and its entrance into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame is well-deserved. We're proud to make a donation that will forever remind us of this community's long-standing importance to Canada's railway history." The public plaque will be unveiled in late June. Saint-Lambert was first established and grew around the presence of the railway more than 150 years ago. Beginning with the Champlain and Saint Lawrence Railroad, the Grand Trunk Railway and the CN Victoria Bridge in the mid-nineteenth century, Saint-Lambert has evolved from a rural community into a busy suburb through which dozens of trains travel each day carrying goods and passengers. "The railway has played and continues to play a key role in the development of Saint-Lambert," said Mr. Dépatie. "It will remain part of our community". Saint-Lambert was a 2013-2014 inductee into the CRHF, which recognizes the people, technology and municipalities that have advanced Canada's railway industry. It was inducted in the Communities subcategory, which honours municipalities deemed to have historical significance to Canada's railway system. (Canadian Railway Hall of Fame -posted 3/15)

AMTRAK SOUTHWEST CHIEF NEAR DODGE CITY, KAN. : Just after midnight CT today, Amtrak Southwest Chief, Train 4, operating from Los Angeles to Chicago, derailed eight cars approximately 20 miles west of Dodge City, Kan., on track owned and maintained by BNSF. There were 131 passengers and 14 crew members on board the train that had two locomotives and nine cars. Local emergency responders provided on-site response and transported 32 passengers to hospitals in Garden City and Dodge City. Of those transported, 29 passengers were discharged this morning. All other passengers were transported to the 4-H Recreation Center in Cimarron, Kan., and will be provided alternate transportation to their final destination. The Red Cross and other relief agencies are on-site providing assistance to those passengers. Amtrak is cooperating with the NTSB who is investigating the cause of the incident. Persons who were aboard this train at the time of the incident and friends and family of those aboard this train have a special number to call for information: 800-523-9101. Amtrak Southwest Chief Trains 3 and 4, will detour from Newton, Kan., to Albuquerque, N.M., for trains originating March 13. Alternate transportation is being arranged for missed stops. (Amtrak -posted 3/14)

TRAIN SERVICE TO CAPE COD BEGINS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: Building on its successful three years of operations, the CapeFLYER is excited to announce that trains will run again from Boston to Cape Cod starting on Memorial Day weekend. Service will begin on Friday, May 27th and operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season until Labor Day. During the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the CapeFLYER will provide free service for Service Members and Veterans in partnership with the 12th Annual Troops in the Spotlight event led by Cape Cod Cares for the Troops. "We are very excited to kick-off our fourth year of the CapeFLYER conveniently bringing people to enjoy Cape Cod while reducing congestion on the bridges and local roads," said Cape Cod Regional Transit Administrator Thomas S. Cahir. "We are even more excited to have the opportunity to work with Cape Cod Cares for the Troops to honor and recognize our active and Veteran Service Members who have done so much for our nation." Troops in the Spotlight is a twenty-four hour event to celebrate our Service Members and Veterans; there are various activities and opportunities to support our troops. It begins on Sunday at 11:30AM and concludes on Monday at 11:30AM. For tickets, Service Members and Veterans are encouraged to visit www.capeflyer.com and click on the event link. "We're looking forward to the continued success of this service, which offers affordable and convenient transportation to and from the Cape," said MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola. "As an alternative to the automobile, the CapeFLYER also helps to ease congestion on our roadways and improve air quality." For the season, the CapeFLYER will operate as its own dedicated train on Friday nights leaving South Station at 5:50 PM and making stops in Braintree, Brockton, Middleboro, Wareham, Buzzards Bay and Hyannis. Trains also operate on Saturdays and Sundays and holiday Mondays until Labor Day weekend. The complete schedule is available at www.capeflyer.com . In addition to a convenient trip to Cape Cod, the CapeFLYER works closely with the ferry operators to provide convenient connections to and from Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Cape Cod RTA buses are available at Buzzards Bay and Hyannis to bring passengers to their Cape destination. Finally, the CapeFLYER will again operate a café car that sells excellent food and drinks, including beer and wine, provided by Blonde on the Run Catering. The CapeFLYER is a unique partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. For additional information, including a complete schedule, fares and information about connections, please visit: www.capeflyer.com (MBTA -posted 3/14)

NO NJ TRANSIT STRIKE: The New York Daily News has reports that NJ Transit and the coalition of unions brokered a tentative deal on Friday to call off a devastating strike that would have crippled transportation for thousands of commuters. Union officials emerged from talks at the Hilton Hotel in Newark on Friday evening to announce the tentative agreement on a new contract for the 4,200 union-represented rail workers who were set to walk off the job on Sunday. (NY Daily News -posted 3/11)

B&O RAILROAD MUSEUM RECEIVES MAJOR GRANT FROM FRANCE-MERRICK FOUNDATION FOR THE YORK LOCOMOTIVE: Officials at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland announced today that The France-Merrick Foundation has granted $100,000.00 to support the acquisition and interpretation of the “York” locomotive recently acquired at auction and returned to Baltimore by the B&O Railroad Museum. A portion of The France-Merrick Foundation’s grant making mission is focused on making Baltimore a vibrant and active City with a strong interest in historic preservation, arts and culture.  The funding provided through this major grant will assist the Museum by supporting the costs related to the locomotive’s purchase and transportation “home” to Baltimore. The project to conserve the locomotive and install the “York” in the Museum’s exhibition on the dawn of railroading in America is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $200,000.00. Courtney B. Wilson, Executive Director of the B&O Railroad Museum remarked “…this major grant from our loyal supporters at the France-Merrick Foundation is an enormous milestone which will enable us to begin to transform our exhibit into an unbroken continuum of important early American railroad technology which can be found nowhere else.” Wilson also commented “There are features of rudimentary steam engine technology on the 1831 “York” that influenced steam locomotive design until after World War II…its importance cannot be underestimated” The “York” (1831) is one of three operable replica historic locomotives built at the B&O Railroad’s Mount Clare Shops in Baltimore, Maryland (the site of the B&O Railroad Museum) in 1926-27 for the B&O’s centenary celebration. Since 1935 the “York” locomotive has been in the possession of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The B&O Railroad museum was able to acquire this historic locomotive at auction in October, 2015 and repatriate it to the Museum’s world-class collection. The other two replicas, which have been in the B&O Railroad Museum’s collection since 1927 are Peter Cooper’s “Tom Thumb” (1830) and “Lafayette” (1837). The France-Merrick Foundation; Founded in 1998 from the merger of the Jacob and Annita France Foundation (1959) and the Robert G. and Anne M. Merrick Foundation (1962) The France-Merrick Foundation’s giving reflects the interests of its founders. The Foundation strives to improve the quality of life in the Greater Baltimore region by focusing its giving in five priority areas: civic & culture, community development, education, health & human welfare, and historic preservation & conservation. (The B&O Railroad Museum -posted 3/11)

POSSIBLE NJ TRANSIT STRIKE: There is a possibility of an NJ TRANSIT rail stoppage resulting from a rail union job action beginning March 13. This would result in a complete suspension of rail service. Please visit njtransit.com/railstoppage for more information. (NJ Transit -posted 3/11)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN STATEMENT CONCERNING POSSIBLE NJ TRANSIT STRIKE: In the event of a New Jersey Transit strike, potentially effective at 12:01 a.m., March 13, 2016, some customers in New Jersey should expect delayed service or no service in the event Norfolk Southern cannot access certain track. Norfolk Southern’s Operations Service Support (OSS) and Marketing teams are contacting customers who are likely to be impacted. In the event of a strike, OSS will work with customers on a daily basis to minimize the impact of service interruption. (NS -posted 3/11)

CTA CHOOSES MANUFACTURER FOR NEWEST-GENERATION RAIL CARS: The Chicago Transit Board awarded a contract for the newest generation of CTA rail cars—the 7000-series—continuing the unprecedented modernization of the CTA under Mayor Rahm Emanuel while fostering economic development and job creation in Chicago. The new 7000-series rail cars—the largest rail car order in CTA history—will be built by CSR Sifang America JV, which as part of its winning bid has pledged to build a brand-new rail car assembly facility in Chicago – the first of its kind in 35 years. The facility is expected to generate 170 jobs, and represents an investment of $40 million. “With this agreement, CTA riders will get state-of-the-art rail cars and Chicago returns to our roots as the place where the next generation of rail cars are built, providing good jobs for our residents. That is a classic win-win for Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This historic agreement was the result of strong collaboration between the City, our federal partners, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and Jobs to Move America, and I cannot thank them enough for their partnership in making it possible. Working together we will continue to bring more 21st century manufacturing jobs to Chicago while also building a modern CTA to help power our 21st century economy.” “Providing modern trains and buses is a critical part of having a world-class transit system,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “This rail car purchase—the largest in CTA history—will give CTA one of the newest fleets in the United States and provide our customers with state-of-the-art trains providing comfortable, reliable rides.” In July 2014, Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Federation of Labor announced a partnership to encourage the creation of U.S. manufacturing jobs, by working with CTA to include a “U.S. Employment” provision in the bids for the new 7000-series cars. The bid solicitation asked bidders to provide the number and type of new jobs they planned to create related to the production of the new rail cars, as well as an outline of their job recruitment and workforce training plans. CSR submitted the lowest bid of $1.309 billion for 846 railcars. CTA will purchase a base order of 400 cars first, with options to purchase the remainder in coming years. Prototype models are expected to be complete in 2019; following testing, the cars will go into service in 2020. The cars will be assembled in a new facility CSR plans to build in Chicago. CSR is one of the world’s largest rail-car manufacturers, and since 1962 has built more than 30,000 rail cars for more than 20 countries in Asia, South America and the Middle East. In the United States, CSR is building rail cars for Boston’s transit system. “It has been over 30 years since the last rail car rolled off the Pullman assembly line on Chicago’s Southside,” said Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez. “Today’s announcement is the culmination of nearly two years of collaboration with Mayor Emanuel to bring rail car manufacturing back to Chicago where it belongs. We commend the CTA for including the U.S. Employment Plan in this bid process, leading the way to high road manufacturing jobs, and thank Mayor Emanuel for his ongoing commitment to build a world class transit system." “Chicago is a shining model for the rest of the nation, providing a blueprint for leveraging the billions of public transit dollars spent each year to bring back manufacturing, encourage investments in workforce training, and jobs for U.S. workers. We look forward to partnering with CSR to deliver a high road program that prioritizes the creation of career paths for Chicago’s low income and communities of color,” said Jobs to Move America National Policy Director Linda Nguyen Perez. The new rails cars will feature of mix of forward-facing and aisle-facing seats, a seating configuration designed to ensure customer comfort while maximizing passenger flow and capacity. The design was based on studies CTA conducted to solicit feedback from CTA riders on preferences related to seating and design— the first time the CTA has sought rider input on seating layout. The cars’ design will resemble the 5000-series, the CTA’s newest rail cars, with stainless steel bodies, LED lighting and signage, and AC power propulsion for a smoother, quieter ride. The cars will replace the oldest cars on the CTA system, some of which are more than 30 years old. Once delivery of the new rail cars is complete, the CTA will have its youngest rail fleet in decades—reducing the average age of CTA rail cars from 26 years in 2011 to 13 years when the 7000-series are delivered. The new rail cars are projected to save the CTA about $7M annually in reduced maintenance costs and reduced use of power. (Chicago CTA -posted 3/10)

CP FILES PRELIMINARY PROXY STATEMENT WITH SEC FOR NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNUAL MEETING: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) (CP) today filed a preliminary proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which outlines the shareholder resolution to be considered at the upcoming Annual Meeting of Norfolk Southern (NS) shareholders requesting that the NS board of directors promptly engage in good faith discussions with CP regarding a business combination. CP has proposed a merger with NS that would create an integrated transcontinental railroad with the scale and reach to deliver unsurpassed levels of safety and service to the customers and communities of both companies. "This is an opportunity for NS shareholders – who have been telling us since the beginning that they are in favour of the proposed business combination – to speak up and be heard by NS' board of directors," said CP CEO, E. Hunter Harrison . "We are not asking NS shareholders to vote on the business proposal itself, but to vote in favour of the shareholder resolution calling for NS to engage in good faith discussions with CP regarding a potential combination." The shareholder resolution provides a means for NS shareholders to demonstrate, in a coordinated and clear manner, their support for NS to engage in a meaningful dialogue with CP regarding a possible business combination between the two companies. In its preliminary proxy statement, filed with the SEC on February 29, 2016 , NS expressed, for the first time publicly and only after CP submitted notice of its intent to propose the shareholder resolution, a conditional willingness to engage with CP, stating that "in the event that [CP] addresses [Norfolk Southern's] concerns by receiving a declaratory order from the STB validating its proposed voting trust structure and indicates a willingness to meaningfully increase the value represented by its proposal, Norfolk Southern would be willing to enter into good faith discussions with [CP] regarding the potential combination of the two companies." To date, NS has refused to meet with CP to discuss the merits of a potential transaction. "CP is seeking a declaratory order from the Surface Transportation Board and we have consistently indicated that we are open to discussing the terms of our previous offers," Harrison said. "With a vote 'for' the shareholder resolution, we hope to get NS to the table to discuss all the elements of the proposed business combination in an open and constructive manner." CP is making no recommendation concerning any other matter to be brought before NS' Annual Meeting, for which a date has yet to be set. Whether or not an NS shareholder plans to attend the Annual Meeting, CP urges all NS shareholders to vote "FOR" the proposed resolution described in the proxy statement by signing, dating and returning the GREEN proxy card at the appropriate time. The preliminary proxy statement is available at: www.cpconsolidation.com/how-to-vote.. (CP -posted 3/09)

MTA HAS THE LOWEST NUMBER OF SERIOUS CRIMES AMONG TOP 12 U.S. TRANSIT AGENCIES IN 2015: The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is working hard to keep public transportation safe for its transit riders. And, it’s paying off. With interagency collaboration at the federal, state and local levels, MTA Police reported an 11 percent reduction in serious crimes this past year on transit – including Local Bus, Light Rail, Metro Subway, MARC Train, Mobility and Commuter Bus. “We are proud to have the fewest serious crimes of any of the top 12 transit agencies in America,” said MTA Administrator and CEO Paul Comfort. “The numbers show that the MTA is now a very safe transit system to ride.” “The low crime rate on the MTA’s transit system is due to the efforts of the dedicated men and women of the MTA Police Force,” said Colonel John E. Gavrilis, MTA Chief of Police. “Their hard work and partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the region have led to no homicides, shootings or rapes on our system since before last year. Combined with the use of advanced technology and regular training of our officers, we continue to send the message that crime will not be tolerated on our system.” Over the last year, the MTA had the lowest number of Part I crimes of the top 12 transit agencies in the nation. The MTA also had one of the lowest Part 1 crimes per riders of the top 12 transit agencies in the country with one crime for every 400,000 riders. Part I crimes are serious offenses that can occur with regularity and are likely to be reported to police. They can include aggravated assault, arson, burglary (breaking and entering), criminal homicide, rape, larceny theft and robbery. In 2015, the MTA was able to clear 70 percent of the robbery cases that occurred on MTA systems. (Maryland MTA -posted 3/09)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 5, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Mar. 5, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 512,202 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Mar. 5 were 247,016 carloads, down 8 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 265,186 containers and trailers, up 4.5 percent compared to 2015. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 38.8 percent to 9,917 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 12.3 percent to 33,197 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 11.9 percent to 18,892 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 29.6 percent to 71,669 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 24.1 percent to 10,769 carloads; and farm products excluding grain, and food, down 4 percent to 16,799 carloads. For the first 9 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,194,100 carloads, down 12.9 percent from the same point last year; and 2,353,933 intermodal units, up 7.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 9 weeks of 2016 was 4,548,033 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Mar. 5, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 334,415 carloads, down 7.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 334,008 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 668,423 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 9 weeks of 2016 was 5,957,566 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.2 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 71,273 carloads for the week, down 6.6 percent, and 58,074 intermodal units, down 0.7 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 9 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,164,674 carloads, containers and trailers, down 3.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,126 carloads for the week, up 1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,748 intermodal units, down 2.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 9 weeks of 2016 was 244,859 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year. (AAR -posted 3/09)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES ZERO RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY ACQUISITIONS NEEDED FOR LONG ISLAND THIRD TRACK PROJECT: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his proposal to significantly expand the Long Island Rail Road by adding a third track along the Main Line will not require any residential property acquisitions. Initially, the LIRR anticipated acquiring portions of up to 20 residential properties to construct the expansion, but at the Governor’s direction the preliminary plan has been revised to ensure that the addition of a third track occurs entirely within the existing right of way, eliminating the need to acquire any residential properties. Working with local mayors and the LIRR, Governor Cuomo has also committed to reviewing all seven street-level train crossings, commonly called “grade crossings,” along the LIRR Expansion project corridor. The Governor’s administration will work with the communities to eliminate the street level crossings in consultation with the communities to find the right approach to each of the seven crossings. “This plan is a transformative project for Long Island,” said Governor Cuomo. “My administration is fully committed to mitigating the project’s impact on surrounding communities and improving safety overall. The project will move forward on the existing right of way – so that zero homes must be acquired – and we will work hand-in-hand with local communities to ensure safe, redesigned grade crossings. I’m proud to see this project moving forward, and I thank our local partners for their support.” The Governor made these announcements at a meeting of the Long Island Association earlier today. Video of the Governor’s remarks is available here. Governor Cuomo has made it a priority to move this new expansion plan forward in a way that mitigates impact on the surrounding properties. Unlike previous plans proposed a decade ago, this new effort dramatically minimizes the impact on communities along the project corridor. The Governor’s proposal is a smarter, more stream-lined proposal that reduces the proposed corridor from 11.5 in old plans to 9.8 miles in today’s plan. When the Governor first announced the proposal, the LIRR anticipated that 20 residential property acquisitions would be required to construct the expansion – which was a significant reduction from prior LIRR expansion proposals that would have impacted hundreds of homes. With today’s announcement, residential property acquisitions will no longer be required as part of the track installation. Currently, the LIRR is limited by track capacity. At peak times, the LIRR is forced to run trains in one direction between Floral Park and Hicksville, making it impossible for reverse commuters and intra-island travelers. In essence, millions of people are limited by a system of transportation designed and virtually unchanged from 50 years ago. In order to modernize the system, improve commutes for customers, and reduce congestion on Long Island’s roads, the Governor has proposed expanding the LIRR’s capacity between Floral Park and Hicksville. The project will allow the LIRR to increase service, reduce congestion and train delays caused whenever there is an incident along this busy stretch of tracks and will enable the LIRR to run “reverse-peak” trains to allow people to take the LIRR to jobs on Long Island during traditional business hours. “Governor Cuomo has responded to one of the major economic priorities of Long Island by committing to fund the LIRR Expansion Project,” said Kevin Law, Co-Chair of the Coalition and President & CEO of the Long Island Association. “The Coalition applauds his commitment and looks forward to helping advance public discussion of its implementation.” “The LIRR Expansion Project is vital to the region’s economic future, as documented by the Long Island Index, a project of the Rauch Foundation,” said Dave Kapell, Co-Chair of the Coalition, former Mayor of Greenport, and a consultant to the Rauch Foundation. “We look forward to public consideration of how this Project can best enhance the future of Long Island while mitigating local impacts to the maximum extent practicable.” (MTA -posted 3/08)

THE ELECTRIFICATION OF THE LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD, 1905-1955: The Railroad Museum of Long Island is proud to present its 10th annual Educational slideshow and discussion by Long Island Rail Road Historian Ed Koehler. He will present his views and data on the progressive electrification of the Long Island Rail Road. This talk will focus on the work done by the railroad under the ownership of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.   The Forum will be held Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 1:00 PM in the Riverhead Public Library, “Stage Room,” 330 Court Street, (across from the Suffolk County Historical Society), Riverhead, NY. Ample municipal parking is available in the courthouse parking area, Osborne and Court Streets – across from the Library and the Riverhead LIRR Station.   Mark your calendar now and plan to attend this fascinating retrospective of railroading history on Long Island. Admission is FREE and open to the public.   Visit us on the web at www.rmli.org.. Please direct questions to Don Fisher at 631-765-2757 or via e-mail at dfisher@rmli.us -posted 3/08)

THE LA POCATIČRE TRAIN STATION RE-OPENS ITS DOORS : Thanks to a new partnership, VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) and the municipality of Ste-Anne-De-La-Pocatičre, Québec, are pleased to announce that the waiting room of the La Pocatičre train station is now open to the public. As part of a program to revitalize underused train stations throughout Canada, VIA Rail offered to make its heritage station available to the municipality for use by the community and as a waiting room for its passengers. Negotiations are underway and further improvements will be considered, including renovations and other possible community or regional services that could eventually be housed in the station. “We are very pleased that the city has been so open to the idea of restoring this historic building,” said the President and CEO of VIA Rail, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “From now on, our customers in this region can enjoy a warm and comfortable waiting room, while residents will be able to use it for other community activities. We hope that this collaboration will serve as a model and inspire other Canadian communities with under-used stations,” he said. The Mayor of Ste-Anne de la Pocatičre, Mr. Rosaire Ouellet, also voiced his support. “This station has occupied an important place in the lives and hearts of the people here and throughout Kamouraska for more than one hundred years. We greatly appreciate how VIA Rail representatives have been sensitive to our needs in all our discussions. We hope to speak more about other interesting aspects of this project in the coming weeks,” he said. The Ocean train, which runs between Montreal and Halifax, stops three times per week in each direction at Ste-Anne de La Pocatičre. The station is equipped with a timed door-opening system synchronized with the train schedule. The doors will open one hour before train arrivals and close an hour after departures, allowing passengers to wait for their train in peace and quiet. (VIA Rail Canada -posted 3/07)

FIRST PHASE OF ICONIC WTC TRANSPORTATION HUB TO OPENED ON MARCH 3 : The World Trade Center Transportation Hub Oculus – the iconic centerpiece of the sprawling transit facility – opened on March 3, providing an enhanced commuter experience for PATH riders traveling to and from Wall Street and other New York City destinations, as well as those who live in and visit the downtown area. This spring, the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners is planning an opening ceremony as the Oculus becomes fully operational, including the eastern linkages to the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Fulton Street Transit Center and the 11 New York City subway lines that the MTA facility serves. The March 3 opening provides the 100,000 riders that use the PATH facility daily with below-ground, climate-controlled access to a new entrance at the corner of Liberty and Church streets, a few blocks from Wall Street. In subsequent weeks, the eastern entrance to the Oculus will open, providing PATH riders with direct access to Church Street and to the Fulton Street Transit Center. In late spring, the new access from the Oculus to the corner of Vesey and Church streets will open. The transportation hub and Oculus – designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava – will serve as a 21st century, state-of-the-art transit center and represents the most integrated network of underground pedestrian connections to mass transit lines in New York City. “The World Trade Center PATH Hub was a challenging project for the agency in terms of timetable and costs, but the men and women of the Port Authority and the contractors who worked on this nationally important infrastructure project should be rightly proud of their efforts,’’ said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. “We trust the Oculus will serve a vital transportation need for the region, while becoming an important landmark for the metropolitan area and nation in the decades to come.” “Lower Manhattan soon will have an architecturally visionary 21st century rail station, combined with world-class retail shops, that will be a focal point for downtown commerce,’’ said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. “The board of commissioners salutes those whose years of toil finally brought this project to fruition. They have created an iconic structure for generations of New Yorkers, commuters and visitors.” Details on the spring ceremony will be provided in the coming weeks as progress continues toward completion of the Oculus and its full complement of access points. The existing World Trade Center PATH Station entrance on Vesey Street will remain open until the public can use all three new access points into the Hub. Access guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will remain at the existing PATH entrance on Vesey Street until all Oculus passageways are open. The Hub also will provide below-ground access for PATH commuters heading to jobs in One World Trade Center, 3 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center and a future 2 World Trade Center. Ultimately, the Hub will provide street-level access to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. (PANYNJ -posted 3/04)

MTA BEGINS PROCUREMENTS TO EXTEND SECOND AVENUE SUWAY TO EAST HARLEM: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has begun procuring key services necessary for Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway, which will extend the subway project to East Harlem in Manhattan. MTA Capital Construction is placing advertisements for Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the first three contracts, which include design, environmental and community outreach services. Phase 2 will stretch north and west from Second Avenue and E. 96th Street to Lexington Avenue and E. 125th St., and includes three new stations at 106th Street, 116th Street and 125th and Lexington Avenue. “Our goal is to fast-track Phase 2 to every extent possible, and if these efforts to speed up the project timetable are successful, the MTA will amend our Capital Program and seek additional funds to begin heavy construction sooner,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “With the opening of first phase of the Second Avenue Subway planned for the end of this year, we are taking steps to ensure a seamless transition to the next phase of work ahead.” Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway project is expected to open this December with three new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets and an expanded station at 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue, currently used by the F train. Once service begins, the Q Train will operate on the Second Avenue line. “These design and environmental consulting contracts will enable us to take the next steps toward construction of the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway,” said MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu. “The community outreach contract will help ensure that community members are kept informed and their feedback is taken into account every step of the way.” The largest of the contracts is for an engineering and design consultant. It includes the update of the preliminary engineering design to reflect current design and operational criteria of MTA New York City Transit. The winning bidder also will provide technical information to support the supplemental environmental review process, prepare the final design of the construction contracts and provide technical services to support construction. The winning bidder for the environmental consulting contract will provide environmental engineering, scientific, technical and analytical services to complete the necessary environmental documentation required for this phase of the project from extended preliminary engineering through construction. The final RFP includes community outreach services for Phase 2. The consultant for this contract will assist in the development, implementation and management of a community relations and outreach program and provide staff for a Community Information Center. Additionally, the consultant will be responsible for providing graphics support, developing content and delivering flyers, newsletters and other notices, and assist in addressing community concerns raised by community members and businesses and soliciting their input. The review process for all three RFPs will be accelerated with contracts expected to be awarded this summer. (MTA -posted 3/04)

NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES ALTERNATIVE SERVICE PLAN FOR POSSIBLE RAIL STOPPAGE: NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations faces the prospect of a systemwide shutdown should the membership of its rail union opt to participate in a work stoppage. This would result in the complete suspension of NJ TRANSIT rail service, affecting more than 160,000 customers who ride the system on a typical weekday. In the event of such a stoppage, NJ TRANSIT has developed a contingency plan that would accommodate up to about 38 percent, or about 40,000 seats, of the existing New York-bound customer base. This contingency plan includes adding capacity to existing New York commuter bus routes in close proximity to rail stations, contracting with private carriers to operate bus service from key regional park-ride locations during weekday peak periods, increasing capacity on its three light rail systems, and maximizing use of the available capacity on PATH and ferry service. “A rail stoppage would have a severe impact on travel in the entire region, as capacity constraints on both our public transportation system and our road network limit our ability to accommodate every displaced rail customer,” said NJ TRANSIT Interim Executive Director Dennis Martin. “NJ TRANSIT will operate a plan that the overall system and region can safely handle to accommodate as many customers as possible who absolutely must travel into and out of New York, bearing in mind that bus service cannot replicate the railroad.” In developing its contingency plan, NJ TRANSIT focused available resources on the largest segment of its rail customer base—the New York-bound customer. Approximately 105,000 customers make up the total rail-based interstate market, including customers who transfer from NJ TRANSIT rail to PATH trains at Hoboken Terminal and Newark Penn Station. Through a combination of added capacity to existing New York bus routes, operation of a regional park/ride service, and private carriers adding capacity where possible to their own bus routes that parallel rail corridors, NJ TRANSIT estimates that it can carry approximately 40,000 New York customers. “If a rail stoppage occurs, NJ TRANSIT customers as well as people who normally drive to work should understand that this will not be a normal commute for anyone—particularly with the potential for more than 10,000 additional cars on the road per peak hour,” said Martin. “As part of our contingency planning, we have reached out to a broad range of employers and business organizations in New Jersey and New York to alert them to the potential stoppage, and we have strongly encouraged them to allow their employees to telecommute if possible.” (NJ Transit, Randy Kotuby -posted 3/03)

MTA ANNOUNCES PRELIMINARY PREPARATIONS FOR POTENTIAL NJ TRANSIT WORK STOPPAGE: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that a potential NJ TRANSIT work stoppage starting on or after Sunday, March 13, could mean some transportation changes for New Yorkers. Customers should stay informed throughout the duration of any event by signing up for service alerts at MyMTAAlerts.com, monitoring Service Status on MTA.info, or following the MTA’s social media feeds listed at web.mta.info/social. Because NJ TRANSIT operates the trains that serve Metro-North Railroad’s Port Jervis Line and Pascack Valley Line in Orange and Rockland Counties, N.Y., those lines would not operate during a work stoppage. Metro-North has arranged service options for its customers that could begin 24 hours after a strike is announced. Click here for details.. MTA New York City Transit will evaluate road conditions on a daily basis and to avoid traffic congestion could reroute express buses that normally travel through New Jersey between Staten Island and Manhattan. The following routes could instead travel through Brooklyn in the mornings and evenings: X17J, X21, X22, X22A, X30. Also the X31 could be rerouted through Brooklyn in the evenings only. New York City Transit also will add additional station personnel at subway stations near PATH train stations and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, including 14 St-6 Av, 34 St-Herald Sq, 42 St-Times Square, 42 St-8 Av and World Trade Center. The MTA advises customers to expect longer lines at MetroCard vending machines and urges customers to purchase MetroCards in advance. As a precaution, MTA Bridges and Tunnels is preparing staff and equipment to handle additional traffic if it should materialize at any of the MTA’s nine crossings. (MTA Metro North -posted 3/03)

AMTRAK ACS-64 TESTS ON SEPTA: Last summer SEPTA had placed an order with Siemens for 13 ACS-64 electric locomotives, which will be similar to Amtrak’s version.  SEPTA is getting a sneak preview; on February 29 newly delivered Amtrak motor #664 was sent from Amtrak’s Race Street Engine Facility (just east of 30th St Station) to SEPTA’s Wayne Electric Car Shop.  The route from Race Street via Zoo Tower took the light motor thru Suburban and Jefferson (former Market East) stations and on to the former Reading main line up to Wayne Jct.  After two days on static display for crew familiarzation, the motor will begin test runs over SEPTA lines, pulling SEPTA equipment.  SEPTA’s ACS-64 locomotives are due for delivery in early 2018. (Andy Kirk -posted 3/02)

JAMES R. HERTWIG, PRESIDENT FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY WILL BE THE FEATURED SPEAKER AT THE LAKE SHORE ANNUAL BANQUET: Lake Shore Railway Historical Society, North East, Pennsylvania, is proud to announce that James R. Hertwig, President of Florida East Coast Railway(FECR), will be the Guest of Honor/Featured Speaker at its 2016 Annual Banquet to be held Saturday, April 16, 2016, at 5:00pm. “Jim Hertwig is a leader in the transportation industry who has shown his diverse capabilities,” said Ray Grabowski, Jr., president of Lake Shore Railway Historical Society, “He is a hometown Erie-area guy who continues to use his exceptional talents during very interesting times in the industry.” Mr. Hertwig will share his experience in the industry including his work with GE on the recent FECR locomotive purchase. As reported by Trains Magazine, Florida East Coast Railway recently purchased 24 General Electric ES44C4 locomotives and is currently working with General Electric to hybridize them to also operate on liquefied compressed natural gas fuel. Reservation forms for the Event are available at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, PA, at the Tri State Rail Federal Credit Union in Erie, PA, and online at http://lakeshorerailway.com . The event, which includes a buffet dinner, is $25 per person and is open to all—you do not need to be a Lake Shore Railway Historical Society member to attend. The event will occur at St. James Place, Erie, PA, just a few blocks from the Erie PA General Electric Locomotive Assembly Plant. All reservations must be received by Lake Shore Railway Museum by Tuesday, April 7, 2016. (Purple Line Transit Partners, Randy Kotuby -posted 3/02)

PURPLE LINE TRANSIT PARTNERS NAMED PREFERRED BIDDER BY MDDOT FOR PUPLE LINE PROJECT: Purple Line Transit Partners, a consortium comprised of majority equity holder Meridiam, Fluor Enterprises, Inc. and Star America has been selected by the Maryland Department of Transportation ("MDOT") as Preferred Bidder for the Purple Line Light Rail Transit Public-Private Partnership ("PPP") Project. Meridiam, a leading global investor and asset manager specializing in public and community infrastructure, will be a 70% equity provider, with Fluor Enterprises, Inc. and Star America each providing 15% of the equity. Fluor Construction, Lane, and Traylor Brothers have formed a construction joint venture to build the Project.  Fluor, Alternate Concepts, Inc., and CAF USA have formed an operations and maintenance joint venture with CAF USA providing the light rail vehicles for the Project. Commercial Close is anticipated in Q1 2016 with financial close scheduled for Q2 2016. "Our team is excited about being part of such a transformative project that will bring strong tangible benefits, such as tremendous increased fluidity to the community and the metropolitan region at large," said Jane Garvey, Chairman, Meridiam North America.  Backed by US pension funds and insurance companies, Meridiam North America draws on deep US transportation and PPP experience and has closed 6 projects since 2009, including the Port of Miami Tunnel in Florida and the Long-Beach Courthouse Project in California. The $2 billion Purple Line Project, tendered by the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Transit Administration requires the Concessionaire to finance, develop, design, construct, equip and supply light rail vehicles for, and operate and maintain a 16.2 mile light rail transit line that extends from Bethesda to New Carrollton, and extends east-west inside the Capital Beltway within the Maryland suburbs north of Washington, DC. The Project connects five major activity centers in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties: Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma/Langley Park, College Park and New Carrollton. The new transit line will provide direct connections to four branches of the Washington Metropolitan Metrorail system, as well as connections to three Regional Commuter rail lines plus Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. There will be 21 permanent stations servicing residents and commuters in the areas.  The Project runs partially through dedicated right of way and partially on embedded track on roadways with vehicular traffic as is common for urban light rail projects (Purple Line Transit Partners, Randy Kotuby -posted 3/02)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR FEBRUARY AND WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 27, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for February 2016. Carload traffic in February totaled 979,042 carloads, down 10.1 percent or 110,132 from February 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,049,126 containers and trailers in February 2016, up 12.9 percent or 119,778 units from the same month last year. Please note, in February 2015, intermodal volumes were severely affected by a labor dispute at West Coast ports. For February 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,028,168, up 0.5 percent or 9,646 carloads and intermodal units from February 2015. In February 2016, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with February 2015. These included: motor vehicles and parts, up 19.4 percent or 12,573 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 30.6 percent or 5,345 carloads; and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 15.6 percent or 1,781 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in February 2016 from February 2015 included: coal, down 27.3 percent or 112,620 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.8 percent or 11,720 carloads; and metallic ores, down 25.3 percent or 4,944 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were up 0.4 percent or 2,488 carloads from February 2015. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first two months of 2016 was 1,947,084 carloads, down 13.5 percent or 302,879 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 2,088,747 units, up 8 percent or 154,301 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2015. For the first two months of 2016, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 4,035,831 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.6 percent or 148,578 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year. "The economy is still giving off a lot of mixed signals, and rail traffic is too. Coal carloads remain very troubling, intermodal is doing well, and the other rail traffic categories are somewhere in between," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "After Saudi announcements on energy pricing late last week it is painfully evident that it will take a while for the shakeout in that sector to play itself out. Until that happens, and until it becomes clear that the disruptions abroad aren't spreading into the domestic economy, rail traffic will remain in an uncertain environment." Week Ending February 27, 2016 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 27, 2016 was 521,300 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 27 were 248,281 carloads, down 7.1 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 273,019 containers and trailers, up 13 percent compared to 2015. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 28.3 percent to 9,323 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 11.7 percent to 19,792 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 6.8 percent to 30,261 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 were coal, down 25.2 percent to 74,552 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.9 percent to 11,168 carloads; and forest products, down 1.1 percent to 10,794 carloads. For the first 8 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,947,084 carloads, down 13.5 percent from the same point last year; and 2,088,747 intermodal units, up 8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 8 weeks of 2016 was 4,035,831 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 27, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 336,230 carloads, down 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 345,873 intermodal units, up 11.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 682,103 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 8 weeks of 2016 was 5,289,143 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.3 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 70,782 carloads for the week, down 8.2 percent, and 61,320 intermodal units, up 8.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 8 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,035,327 carloads, containers and trailers, down 3.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,167 carloads for the week, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,534 intermodal units, up 1.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 8 weeks of 2016 was 217,985 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR -posted 3/02)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN COMBINES RAILWAY OPERATING REGIONS: Norfolk Southern today announced it is consolidating its three operating regions into two, effective March 15. The decision to further streamline railroad operations is part of the company’s ongoing execution of its five-year strategic plan, announced in December 2015, to enhance operating efficiencies, reduce costs, drive profitability, and accelerate growth. As previously announced, NS is targeting annual expense savings of $650 million by 2020. “We are committed to aggressively controlling costs while delivering the high levels of superior service that our customers value,” said Mike Wheeler, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Consolidating our operating regions will generate productivity savings, not only through right-sizing, but also by leveraging advancements in train dispatch technologies that support more fluid and efficient movement of freight across the network. As we continue to execute on our five-year strategic plan, we are confident that these steps will make Norfolk Southern a faster, lower-cost, and more profitable railroad.” Earlier this year, Norfolk Southern streamlined division operations by combining the former Virginia and Pocahontas divisions into a larger Pocahontas Division. This became effective Feb. 1, and followed other key strategic initiatives including the reduction from three corporate office locations to two, restructuring of the Triple Crown Services subsidiary, integration of the D&H South Line to increase options for shippers, and idling of certain parts of the ‘West Virginia Secondary’ line. Norfolk Southern’s network spans 22 states in the eastern U.S. The railroad presently manages train operations across 10 operating divisions that are part of three larger operating regions – the Eastern, Western, and Northern regions. Under the new structure, effective March 15, Norfolk Southern’s network will be divided into Northern and Southern regions only. The Northern Region will include the Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Dearborn, Lake, and Illinois divisions. Greg Comstock, a 41-year veteran of Norfolk Southern operations, will be the region’s general manager. The region’s chief engineers will be Eddie Otey, maintenance of way and structures, and Mick Ireton, communications and signals. The Southern Region will include the Piedmont, Alabama, Georgia, Central, and Pocahontas divisions. Todd Reynolds, a 22-year veteran of Norfolk Southern operations, will be the region’s general manager. The region’s chief engineers will be Lucious Bobbitt, maintenance of way and structures, and Randall Smith, communications and signals. Each of the two consolidated regions will support approximately 1,000 daily crew starts for long-haul train operations, connecting customers and communities to global markets with freight rail that moves consumer goods, automobiles, coal, grain, and products essential to U.S. households, businesses, and industries. (Norfolk Southern -posted 3/01)

SEPTA TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETING KING OF PRUSSIA RAIL PROJECT: SEPTA has scheduled three public meetings on the King of Prussia Rail Project. Each meeting will include an open house and an information session that will offer participants an opportunity to review the Project's Recommended Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) route for extending rail service to destinations in King of Prussia and Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County via SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL). Sessions will be held on the following dates:
  • Monday, March 7, 4-8 p.m. (Presentation: 6 p.m.) Radisson Hotel Valley Forge, Grand Ballroom 235 1160 First Avenue, King of Prussia, PA
  • Wednesday, March 9, 4-8 p.m. (Presentation: 6 p.m.) Norristown Municipal Building 235 E. Airy Street, Norristown, PA
  • Tuesday, March 15, 2-8 p.m. (Presentations: 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.) Doubletree Hotel Valley Forge, Jefferson Ballroom 301 W. DeKalb Pike, King of Prussia, PA
Representatives from SEPTA and the King of Prussia Rail consultant team will provide an overview of recent project activities, including the selection of the recommended LPA, which was chosen from five possible routes. The LPA travels along a portion of the PECO and the Pennsylvania Turnpike right-of-way, behind the King of Prussia Mall to 1st Avenue, terminating at North Gulph Road adjacent to the Valley Forge Convention Center and Casino. The LPA would have five stops and a park-and-ride lot for commuters at Henderson Road. A map of the LPA is available here. here . "The extension of the Norristown High Speed Line into King of Prussia would be an asset for this area's growing travel, business and shopping needs and it is important for the public to come to the meetings and provide their feedback on the project," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "While the LPA is the recommended routing for the extension, the final decision has not been determined. We invite the public to come to learn about the LPA, including how the recommendation was made, and offer their comments on this project and all proposed routes." The NHSL currently provides service between SEPTA's 69th Street and Norristown Transportation Centers, serving the Main Line area in Delaware and Montgomery counties, and connecting to Center City Philadelphia. The extension would provide passengers with a direct, one-seat ride from 69th Street and Norristown to various destinations in the King of Prussia/Valley Forge area. "The King of Prussia rail extension will be a catalyst for continued growth in Montgomery County," said Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh. "It will provide a convenient option for both employees and employers in our largest employment center, while at the same time linking University City, Center City and King of Prussia in a seamless public transit system that will enhance accessibility to Valley Forge and King of Prussia." Launched in fall 2012, the King of Prussia Rail Project includes the preparation of an Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), SEPTA has been meeting with officials, area stakeholders and the public in order to identify the LPA. The Draft EIS is scheduled for public circulation in December 2016. Future activities include the preparation of a Final EIS and issuance of a Record of Decision, followed by preliminary design, final design and construction. For more information on the study, click here . or follow on Twitter (SEPTA -posted 3/01)

MBTA REPORTS PROGRESS IN CUTTING EXPENSES: The MBTA expects to cut its projected fiscal 2017 operating deficit by 43 percent, the direct result of continued reductions in overtime spending and other costs, and increases in revenue such as real estate and advertising. T officials will detail the authority's improving fiscal status during a meeting of its Fiscal Management and Control Board. The T previously announced it would be $75 million under budget by the close of the 2016 fiscal year. The operating budget recast for FY17 projects a deficit of $138 million, which is 43 percent lower than the $242 million originally forecast. That amounts to $104 million in savings. The revised estimate can be attributed to approximately 75 percent in lowered expenses and 25 percent in improved revenues. "We're getting our cost growth under control," said MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve. Savings in operating expenses will be used to pay for much-needed infrastructure improvements:
  • $26.5 million for more Winter Resiliency Work
  • New third rail for the Red Line
  • New heaters for the switches and third rail on the Orange Line
  • $3.5 million for track upgrades along the Worcester/Framingham Commuter Rail Line
  • $70 million for major signal improvements on the Green, Red and Orange Lines
Such upgrading of aging and outdated infrastructure is critical. Some switches on the Green Line, for example, date back to 1915. Up to 30 percent of subway service delays are directly related to problems with aging signal systems. "Every dollar that we can free up in operating expense is invested back into the system, helping us improve the level of service reliability," said MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola. DePaola said the $26 million Winter Resiliency II project will finish work that began prior to this winter season. Built into the FY17 budget projections are significant new expenses caused by shifting 550 employees from The T's debt-funded capital budget to the operating budget ($52 million), and scheduled union wage increases for employees ($12.5 million), as well as higher debt service payments ($13 million), pension and other non-wage operating expenses. (MassDOT -posted 2/26)

FRA LAUNCHES WEBSITE FOR STATES AND MUNICIPALITIES TO REQUEST BRIDGE INSPECTION REPORTS: The Federal Railroad Administration today launched a new tool on its website that allows states and municipalities to request inspection reports for rail bridges in their communities. The tool is being launched following the passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and is one of the first provisions FRA has implemented. FRA also announced today that it has requested additional resources as part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget to double its bridge specialist staff and create a national bridge inventory database and website. “Communities across the country will now have access to information on the condition of railroad bridges in their area,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These inspection reports will provide greater transparency between railroads and local leaders, which is an important cornerstone in our comprehensive safety efforts.” A state or a political subdivision of a state, such as a city, county, town or municipality, can now use FRA’s website to request information from inspection reports for local bridges via https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0922. Once FRA receives the request, the railroad that owns the bridge will have 30 days to respond to the request. FRA plans to provide a copy of the report to the requester within 45 days of the original request. According to the FAST Act, the following information about the bridge will be included in the report: the date of the last inspection; length of bridge; location of bridge; type of bridge (superstructure); type of structure (substructure); features crossed by the bridge; railroad contact information; and a general statement on the condition of the bridge. “The Federal Railroad Administration has repeatedly urged railroads to be more responsive and more transparent with state and local leaders concerned about the condition of their local railroad bridges. State and local officials will now be able to get more information from railroads on the infrastructure in their communities,” FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg said. “Providing inspection reports to local leaders is a great first step, but more can—and must—be done. We hope Congress will provide the resources to double our bridge safety staff and create a national database.” The FAST Act addressed the issue after months of Administrator Feinberg repeatedly urging railroads to be more transparent and respond to communities when they have questions and concerns about the condition of rail bridges. Last September, the Administrator sent a letter to all railroads saying, “When a local leader or elected official asks a railroad about the safety status of a railroad bridge, they deserve a timely and transparent response. I urge you to engage more directly with local leaders and provide timely information to assure the community that the bridges in their communities are safe and structurally sound.” While addressing, the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee in November 2015, Administrator Feinberg again told railroads that, “When FRA is asked about bridge safety, it’s frequently because, again, the public or a member of Congress become concerned and has tried to get answers from a railroad, and they have been ignored or put off.” (FRA - posted 2/26)

CP RECEIVES OVERWHELMING SUPPORT FROM SHIPPERS FOR PROPOSED CP-NS COMBINATION: Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP) (NYSE: CP) has received over 80 letters of support from a broad cross section of customers for CP's proposal to acquire Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS); 62 of these letters have been posted to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) website. . That brings the number of letters from shippers in support of the proposed CP-NS combination to more than three for every one shipper letter in opposition. CP believes that its proposed combination with NS will introduce alternative options for re-routing traffic around areas of congestion, create new opportunities to generate the most efficient route for rail shipments, allow CP-NS to provide end-to-end service to customers and improve overall service for shippers of all sizes across North America. These letters of support demonstrate that shippers with business in both the United States and Canada agree that the proposed combination would be beneficial. "CP is committed to providing the best service at the best price," said Keith Creel, CP's President and COO. "Change is necessary to support continued economic growth, and continued growth in the U.S. economy is dependent on North American rail service meeting current and future demand. Without the ability to add infrastructure or build more track, options to increase capacity are becoming limited."  The proposed transaction offers the best opportunity to improve efficiency of the existing network and create much needed incremental capacity without adding infrastructure, all while improving service for shippers. A combined CP-NS railroad would enhance competition and better support the success of the shippers and industries it serves, and satisfy the STB and Canadian regulators. Earlier this month, CP submitted a resolution to NS shareholders to ask their board of directors to meet with CP. CP is also seeking a declaratory order from the STB as a means to better understand the STB's views on the proposed voting trust model ahead of any formal application. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 2/25)

FINAL WESTERN MARYLAND 734 TRIPS ANNOUNCED: Trips have just been announced. Come to Cumberland, Maryland to Celebrate the 100th Birthday of 734.   Join us for the 100th birthday of Western Maryland’s Mountain Thunder, engine number 734.     There will be one photo freight running on the days April 2ND and April 9Th. These two trips will be the last two trips before 734 goes back into the shop for its 1472 rebuild.     The run-by spots include some that have not been used in many years.     The tickets are $180 without lunch and $200 with lunch. There are also 10 cab ride spots available at $25 a person per ride.     The trips will include light breakfast foods and coffee on the way to your first run-by spot. Lunch will include a ham sub, turkey sub, or an Italian sub and a beverage. There is also pasta, dessert, and a salad included.     The train consist will be a mixed freight. The train staff will be dressed in 1950s period clothing. The train will run from Cumberland to Frostburg and back. Train departs Cumberland , MD at 8AM and will return approximately 5 PM. Shop tour of 1309 will follow.     You can reserve your spot on Mountain Thunder’s birthday train by calling 717-643-1104 after 4 pm EST, or emailing wmsrphoto@wmsr.com Payment is check, or money order made out to Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. 15233 Camden Dr. Greencastle, Pa 17225. All sales go through the Trip coordinator, Joe Goodrich. The tickets will probably go fast, so order now!     No Refunds After March 20Th   ( posted 2/25)

SEPTA POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL UPDATE : With the final phases of testing and preparations almost done, there are still 2 tasks remaining before we can officially launch Positive Train Control (PTC) on SEPTA Regional Rail:\
  • FRA testing and approval of the SEPTA PTC system
  • Software revision upload on Regional Rail cars
In addition to reviewing our Safety and Implementation Plans, the FRA must also conduct an on-site test of our PTC system and that is scheduled to take place next week. Once completed, we will request concurrence from the FRA to conduct a Revenue Service Demonstration (RSD) and begin operating this groundbreaking safety system on the Warminster Regional Rail Line. Starting Tuesday, February 23rd, SEPTA staff will be out at Warminster Line Stations to talk about the launch of our PTC program. Please take a moment to stop and talk with them - they'll be clearly identified by their yellow safety vests. While we wait for the testing to take place, work will continue over the next two weekends (02-20/21 & 02-27/28) to upload the software revisions on the 110 Regional Rail cars that will be used for the RSD. Based on the tasks mentioned above, the earliest date we anticipate being able to launch PTC on the Warminster Line would be Monday, February 29th but that is contingent on successfully passing the testing program and the FRA declaring us ready to operate our PTC system. With Amtrak's launch of their Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES), we have identified Wilmington/Newark and Trenton Lines as high priorities for our PTC rollout. While we want to bring all our routes, on-line as soon as possible, we will not expand our deployment program beyond the Warminster Line until we're comfortable with operating PTC in our own territory. It's taken a tremendous investment of time and energy by SEPTA staff, from many parts of the organization, working in concert with the project contractors to design and build our PTC system. The end result is the greatest customer service initiative we can offer - safety for our Regional Rail riders and the employees operating our system - and that makes it all worthwhile. We want to thank the FRA for cooperating with our efforts to bring this important safety technology to the SEPTA Regional Rail system. (SEPTA - posted 2/24)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 20, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 20, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 497,210 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 20 were 244,747 carloads, down 5.7 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 252,463 containers and trailers, up 18.2 percent compared to 2015. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included motor vehicles and parts, up 30.7 percent to 19,620 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 22.5 percent to 8,376 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 6.4 percent to 30,349 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 22.1 percent to 10,262 carloads; coal, down 20.2 percent to 76,571 carloads; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 5.7 percent to 15,622 carloads. For the first 7 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,698,803 carloads, down 14.3 percent from the same point last year; and 1,815,728 intermodal units, up 7.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 7 weeks of 2016 was 3,514,531 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 4.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 20, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 329,933 carloads, down 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 320,471 intermodal units, up 16.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 650,404 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 7 weeks of 2016 was 4,607,040 carloads and intermodal units, down 4 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 68,708 carloads for the week, down 1.2 percent, and 57,221 intermodal units, up 13.3 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 7 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 903,225 carloads, containers and trailers, down 3.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,478 carloads for the week, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,787 intermodal units, down 6.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 7 weeks of 2016 was 189,284 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.0 percent from the same point last year.
  • Crude Oil Carload Update:
For all of 2015, 410,249 carloads were originated in the U.S., down 82,897 carloads or 16.8 percent from 2014. In 2015, crude oil accounted for 1.4 percent of total U.S. originations compared to 2014, when it was 1.6 percent. The AAR also reported U.S. Class I railroads originated 84,925 carloads of crude oil in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 16,242 carloads or 16.1 percent from the third quarter of 2015 and down 46,146 carloads or 35.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. (AAR - posted 2/24)

WASHBURN SWITCH BUSINESS PARK RECEIVES CSX SELECT SITE DESIGNATION: CSX announced today that the Washburn Switch Business Park in Cleveland County, North Carolina has been designated a CSX Select Site. Select Sites are development-ready properties along the CSX network where standard land use considerations and comprehensive due diligence items have been previously addressed. These properties are well positioned to meet manufacturers’ needs, significantly reducing the time required to construct facilities and ultimately bring products to market. “The fast-growing metropolitan areas of Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina, as well as Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, are all within a 60-mile radius of this site,” said Carl Warren, director of ports and industrial development at CSX. “The Washburn Switch Business Park offers one of the best available rail-served industrial sites in this region.” CSX introduced the Select Site program in 2012 to better serve new and existing customers on its network. CSX partners with The Austin Company, a nationally-known site selection consulting firm, to screen candidate sites and assist communities with the application and certification process. “Over the last four years, Cleveland County and the City of Shelby have taken the right steps to position this property to be ready for rail-served development,” said Jonathan Gemmen, senior location consultant for The Austin Company. “From purchasing the property, to designing and permitting utility extensions, to conducting the necessary environmental studies, these proactive steps send a welcoming message to prospective companies.” In early 2017, North Carolina Department of Transportation plans to open the first leg of the U.S. Highway 74 Bypass around the north side of Shelby. “With an interchange at Washburn Switch Road, the Bypass will provide interstate-quality access just a few hundred yards south of this site,” said Eddie Holbrook of the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners. “With several other industrial facilities in the neighborhood, we’ve known that this community should continue to see growth in the manufacturing sector,” said Kristin Reese, executive director of the Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership (CCEDP), the community’s industry recruitment arm. The Select Site designation was publicly announced today following CCEDP’s board meeting in Shelby, North Carolina. The Washburn Switch Business Park is the third site in North Carolina to be designated a CSX Select Site. To receive CSX Select Site designation, the location must meet a rigorous list of criteria, including infrastructure and utility availability, environmental reviews, appropriate zoning and entitlement, rail serviceability, proximity to highways or interstates, and other attributes. Once certified, the sites are featured on www.csxselectsites.com. , a web portal that includes additional information, promotional materials and direct marketing to site selection professionals. To learn more about CSX Select Sites, visit www.csxselectsites.com. (CSX - posted 2/23)

CSX JOINS NASDAQ 100 INDEX: This morning as of market open, CSX (Nasdaq: CSX) became a component of the Nasdaq-100 Index® (Nasdaq:NDX), the world’s preeminent large-cap growth index. The Nasdaq-100 Index is composed of the 100 largest non-financial stocks listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization. “We are pleased to join the influential and successful group of companies that make up the Nasdaq-100 Index,” said Frank Lonegro, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “Inclusion on the Nasdaq-100 Index reflects CSX’s strong track record of delivering shareholder value despite challenging business conditions.” CSX currently has a market capitalization of approximately $25 billion. Launched in 1985, the Nasdaq-100 Index now represents more than $5 trillion in market capitalization and includes industry-leading companies in a variety of sectors from science and technology to retail and transportation.  (CSX - posted 2/22)

METRO-NORTH HAS BEST MECHANICAL PERFORMANCE IN ITS HISTORY: MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that it had achieved the best mechanical performance in the history of its rail cars, leading customers to experience more reliable trains and better on-time performance. In 2015, Metro-North rail cars averaged a distance of 199,838 miles before breaking down and causing a delay. That’s enough miles to circle the earth eight times! It’s the highest “mean distance between failures” performance since Metro-North first started tracking the figure in 1989. 2015’s number obliterates last year’s by more than 50,000 miles, or two times around the earth, and it was 8% above Metro-North’s projected goal of 185,000 miles. The reasons for the improving reliability are the use of improved car maintenance strategies and strong performance of a renewed rail car fleet. Joint investments made through the MTA’s Capital Program and the Connecticut Department of Transportation have brought a new fleet of rail cars, known as the M8s, to Metro-North’s busiest line, the New Haven Line. The M8s have replaced nearly all of the older M2, M4 and M6 rail cars, which dated to the 1970s and 1980s. The first of the M8 cars – there are 405 of them in total – went into service in 2011, and the last were put into service by the end of June 2015. The M8s exceeded their mileage goal for the year by 2.4%. Enhanced performance features of the M8 cars include sealed, alternating current motors that are less vulnerable to weather and simplified, more reliable single-leaf doors. “Now that the M8 cars have gone through the initial ‘break-in’ period, we have a chance to evaluate their design and performance in real-world conditions,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We are very pleased that the M8 cars are exceeding their performance expectations. This is a testament to the years of work that went into designing and building these cars. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s also a testament to the strong partnership between the States of New York and Connecticut that led to the crucial capital investment needed to get these cars into service.” “The M8 cars have proved to be one of the best and most important investments we’ve made in recent years and I am not surprised at how well they’ve been performing,” said CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “They have been extremely well received by our customers who clearly appreciate their reliability and state-of-the-art amenities. I applaud Metro-North for their efforts to improve service for the tens of thousands of commuters who use rely on the New Haven Line every day.” To keep its M8 fleet running smoothly, inspections and maintenance of all cars is scheduled at 92 day, 1 year and 5 year intervals. The maintenance becomes increasingly comprehensive as the vehicles age. Metro-North has implemented a Reliability Centered Maintenance strategy that has maintained exceptional service on the cars used on the Hudson and Harlem Lines. Between 2004 and 2007, replaced the M1 fleet with M7 train cars. “Although it’s been more than ten years, the M7s are operating as though they’re brand new,” said Michael Yaeger, Metro-North’s Chief Mechanical Officer. Reliability Centered Maintenance has effectively maximized the M7 fleet’s availability. The fleet is subject to regulatory safety inspection compliance, five separate maintenance checks throughout the calendar year, and planned Higher System-Level Maintenance when trains require more major repairs, such as the removal, rebuilding and replacement of motors, air compressors and brake components. And good performance numbers have led to better numbers elsewhere on Metro-North. The strong fleet availability has meant there were train seats for 99.6% of all Metro-North customers in 2015. A good fleet and less need for repairs contributed to Metro-North’s system-wide on-time performance. On-time performance in 2015 totaled 93.5%, up two percentage points from 91.5% in 2014. Substantive enhancements and improvements to Metro-North service come at a time when ridership numbers are the highest in Metro-North’s history, more than 86 million customers in 2015. (MTA - posted 2/22)

LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD HAS BEST MECHANICAL PERFORMANCE IN ITS HISTORY: MTA Long Island Rail Road today announced that in 2015 its rail cars achieved their best mechanical reliability since record-keeping began in 1981. The achievement marked the railroad’s 16th consecutive year of improvement for rail car reliability. Last year, LIRR rail cars traveled an average of 208,383 miles between breaking down and causing a delay. That’s enough to circle the earth more than eight times! The number bests last year’s by more than 2,000 miles, and it was 18% above railroad’s goal of 176,000 miles. “There are many factors that can cause a train delay, from track conditions to problems at grade crossings to congestion from other trains,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “I am pleased to report that the LIRR is doing a better job than ever before in neutralizing the category of potential train delays that we have the most control over: problems with the trains themselves. Our all-time high performance in terms of rail car mechanical reliability is a testament to the hard work that our employees perform every day to keep our rail cars inspected and maintained in top condition, even as the fleet ages.” Today’s mean distance between failures has risen from 50,000 in 2005, and from 150,000 in 2010. The LIRR credits the improvements to its successful adherence to its Reliability Centered Maintenance strategy, known inside the railroad as RCM. The strategy, which was put into place in 2009, has led to dramatic improvements in train car reliability in recent years. Under this maintenance approach, all rail cars are slated for specific types of inspections and maintenance based on the intervals of time that have elapsed since each car’s last maintenance procedures. The strategy uses manufacturer data and real-world observations to govern schedules for replacement of rail car components, ensuring that all components are replaced before they are likely to fail. “We’re constantly monitoring failures and conducting trend analyses on components and subcomponents and adjusting replacement intervals,” said Craig Daly, LIRR’s Acting Chief Mechanical Officer. “Our replacement intervals are continuously evolving in a dynamic way in response to our updated observations.” Reliability Centered Maintenance is made a reality by the LIRR’s force of 2,100 employees in its Maintenance of Equipment Department, who maintain the railroad’s fleet of 1,185 passenger rail cars and locomotives while always bearing in mind customer safety, and their own safety. In addition to daily safety inspections, tests, and cleaning that take place at 15 yards throughout the railroad, the heaviest maintenance work is undertaken at two shops, Hillside Facility in Hollis, Queens, where the focus is on the railroad’s electric fleet, and Sheridan Shop in Richmond Hill, Queens, which focuses attention on diesel trains. Specific maintenance tasks are performed for each car based on regular time intervals that can be as short as 92 days. Employees might replace air brakes, couplers, wheel assemblies, which are known as “trucks,” doors, heating/ventilation/air conditioning equipment, third rail electrical pickup equipment, communications equipment, and the many more components that must work together for a train car to operate. But the interval that counts most is not measured in days, but in hours. “Our goal each day is to make sure that the railroad has the number of cars available for service to meet that day’s train schedule requirements,” Daly said. “Just in terms of the electric fleet alone, we need 862 cars in service for each morning rush hour, and 866 for each evening rush hour. I’m glad to say that we met or exceeded that requirement each calendar day in 2015.” Car interiors go through regular daily cleaning, and undergo “extraordinary” cleaning regiments every 60 to 90 days, depending on the car type. Three types of rail car equipment all set new records for mean distance between failures in 2015. The M7 self-propelled electric coaches traveled an average of 488,470 miles between failures; the C3 diesel-hauled bi-level coaches traveled 120,652 miles, and the diesel-electric locomotives traveled 25,139 miles. These improvements to the LIRR’s fleet reliability come at a time when ridership on the railroad is reaching highs not seen in nearly 70 years. The LIRR carried 87.6 million customers in 2015, the highest amount since 1949. (MTA - posted 2/22)

DC STREETCAR TO BEGIN PASSENGER SERVICE ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27: After more than a decade of planning, construction and testing, Mayor Muriel Bowser and District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Leif A. Dormsjo announced today that the DC Streetcar will open for full passenger service on Saturday, February 27 at 10 am, following a brief ceremony. “I'm proud to announce that Streetcar is ready for passenger service,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “I want to thank the residents of the H Street and Benning Road communities for their patience during the construction and testing of the system. As a way of saying 'thank you,' fares will be free on the system for an initial period of time.” The opening ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 27 on 13th Street, NE between H Street, NE and Wylie Street, NE (intersection of 13th/H). Members of the public are invited to attend the ceremony. Following the ceremony, the DC Streetcar standard hours of operation will be:
  • Monday-Thursday: 6 am – 12 am
  • Friday: 6 am – 2 am
  • Saturday: 8 am – 2 am
  • Holidays: 8 am – 10 pm
  • No Sunday service
Early in the Bowser Administration, DDOT contracted with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the streetcar program. The review found that while the system had numerous issues, there were “no fatal flaws,” and the streetcar system could move forward once the issues were addressed. Leif Dormsjo, the Director of DDOT, assembled a team of consultants and managers to fix the outstanding issues and get Streetcar up and running. “Mayor Bowser charged my team with taking a failed Streetcar program and making it work for District residents. After years of overspending, mismanagement and lack of direction, we made it happen,” said Dormsjo. H Street/ Benning Road Line is the first segment of the DC Streetcar system. The Mayor has committed to expanding the line current line east and west. For more information on the full DC Streetcar system, visit the DC Streetcar website at www.dcstreetcar.com. (Bernie Wagenblast, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser - posted 2/19)

MTA ADVANCES WORK ON SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY SERVICE: MTA New York City Transit is proposing to hold a public hearing on restoring the W Subway Line in Queens and Manhattan this fall, in order to allow the Q Subway Line to begin serving the Second Avenue Subway between 63rd and 96th streets when it opens later this year. The Second Avenue Subway’s first phase will serve the existing F Subway Line station at Lexington Av/63 St as well as three new stations at 72 St, 86 St and 96 St., integrating them as one system into the existing subway network – an unprecedented accomplishment in the MTA’s modern existence. MTA Capital Construction will also award final contract modifications on work for the first phase in line with the established budget for the project. Both measures will be presented to the MTA Board for approval at public meetings next week. “With every day’s work on the Second Avenue Subway, the MTA gets closer to fulfilling a promise first made to New Yorkers in 1929,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Opening the Second Avenue Subway will provide new options for our customers and relieve congestion on Lexington Avenue 4, 5, and 6 Subway Line trains.” MTA Capital Construction continues to reach important construction milestones along Second Avenue. The 96 St Station has been fully energized with a permanent power supply, after successfully switching over from temporary construction power. In addition, the project’s final track crossover was completed north of the 72 St Station, allowing trains to switch tracks when necessary. Adding the W Subway Line to the system will provide more choices to Queens and Manhattan customers who use the Broadway N, Q, and R Subway Lines, as well as allow New York City Transit to prepare for a seamless transition and connection of service between those lines and the Second Avenue Subway. New York City Transit is proposing to hold a public hearing on this service proposal in spring, in order to implement it by fall. The proposed service changes would return the W Subway Line to Astoria, where it will operate local service into Manhattan and terminate at Whitehall St. The line would effectively replace Q Subway service in Queens. The Q Subway Line will temporarily terminate at 57 St/7 Av, but will continue to 96 St upon completion of the Second Avenue Subway. In addition, N Subway trains will operate express in Manhattan from 34 St-Herald Sq to Canal St, a change from its current local service in Manhattan. R Subway service would remain unchanged. More details of the proposed service changes are listed below:
  • N Subway Line: Service in Queens and Brooklyn remains the same, but trains operate express in Manhattan on weekdays during peak hours, midday and evenings.
  • Q Subway Line: Northern terminus temporarily changed to 57 St/7 Ave until the Second Avenue Subway opens. At that point, trains will operate from 96 St in Manhattan to Coney Island-Stillwell Av in Brooklyn, stopping at: 86 St, 72 St, Lexington Av/63 St, 57 St/7 Av and all express stops on the Broadway Line in Manhattan. During late nights, the Q will run local between Brooklyn and Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. Service in Brooklyn remains the same.
  • R Subway Line: No service changes.
  • W Subway Line: Restoration of weekday service, making all local stops from Astoria-Ditmars Blvd to Whitehall St via the Broadway Line. No service on weekends or late night.
The proposed service changes will provide a cross-platform transfer to the F Subway Line at Lexington Av/63 St, giving customers an easy transfer to and from the Second Avenue Subway that will help alleviate current overcrowding conditions on the Lexington Avenue Line. The changes, including the restoration of the W Subway Line, maintain service frequency and loading guidelines for customers in Astoria and avoid significant deviations from current service that might confuse customers on those affected lines. Customers on the Broadway Line will also benefit from an increase in choices for express and local service in Manhattan. If the changes are approved, they will be implemented in fall 2016. The new terminus for the Q Subway Line would be implemented after the Second Avenue Subway opens, with the extension of Q Subway service to 96 St. The cost for these service changes is approximately $13.7 million annually, which has been incorporated into NYC Transit’s approved budget. W Subwayservice was previously eliminated as part of service cuts implemented by the MTA in 2010 as a result of a global economic downturn that led to significant decreases in funding across all MTA agencies. (MTA - posted 2/19)

AMTRAK BOSTON AREA SIGNAL SYSTEM FAILURE IMPACT MBTA SERVICE: Due to a major Amtrak communication signal system failure, many MBTA Commuter Rail trains are unable to access or depart South Station until further notice. Passengers on the Stoughton and Providence lines will depart from South Station. Passengers on all other lines are advised NOT to come to South Station, but to utilize alternative departure points that have been established for each line as listed. Passengers can expect significant delays throughout the evening commute, with some regularly scheduled weekday trains cancelled. Commuter rail passengers may make free transfers to mass transit trains as they did earlier today. Keolis and the MBTA will continue to provide updates on the Amtrak failure and the impact on service via T-Alerts, on Twitter @MBTA_CR and at 617-222-3200. Passengers are advised to consult MBTA.com for updates for additional information and before beginning the February 19 morning commute. The MBTA and Keolis have placed staff at several key T stations to help guide passengers and call-in help centers will also have additional staff to assist customers. Amtrak officials advise passengers to look for updates concerning the commute tomorrow. (MBTA - posted 2/18)

CELL PHONE CHARGING KIOSK PROGRAM EXPANDS TO FOUR MAJOR NJ TRANSIT HUBS: Accommodating customer requests to stay connected, NJ TRANSIT has expanded its pilot program where customers can charge their cell phones for free at two additional major NJ TRANSIT hubs. Charging kiosks are now in place at Hoboken Terminal and Penn Station New York with the capability of charging dozens of cellphones. As part of the pilot, NJ TRANSIT is interested in evaluating customer response to see if the program should be expanded even further in the future. “The response to the charging kiosk pilot program, which was started in the fall of 2015, has been overwhelmingly positive, with more and more customers telling us how much they enjoy this amenity,’’ said NJ TRANSIT interim Executive Director Dennis J. Martin. “We live in an electronic world and staying connected is critical in our customers’ everyday life.’’ NJ TRANSIT continues to work with goCharge, a leading provider of mobile device charging stations to conferences, events, universities, hospitals, stadium arenas and more. Customers only need their cell phones as goCharge provides a variety of cell phone charging cords, enough to work with virtually every cell phone currently on the market. (NJT - posted 2/18)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEBUARY 13, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 13, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 505,148 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 13 were 244,334 carloads, down 15.4 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 260,814 containers and trailers, up 10.4 percent compared to 2015. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 27.4 percent to 9,406 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 12.6 percent to 18,711 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 32.5 percent to 75,249 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 23.4 percent to 11,303 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 15.4 percent to 19,196 carloads. For the first 6 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,454,056 carloads, down 15.6 percent from the same point last year; and 1,563,265 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 6 weeks of 2016 was 3,017,321 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 5.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 13, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 331,188 carloads, down 13.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 333,169 intermodal units, up 8.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 664,357 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 6 weeks of 2016 was 3,956,636 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.3 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 70,900 carloads for the week, down 7.9 percent, and 60,702 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 6 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 777,296 carloads, containers and trailers, down 5.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,954 carloads for the week, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,653 intermodal units, up 11.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 6 weeks of 2016 was 162,019 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 2/18)

MBTA GM DEPAOLA ON THE ORANGE LINE INCIDENT: "Following last night's incident involving two Orange Line trains, the MBTA is immediately incorporating a more thorough exterior check of body panel hardware as part of regular maintenance work on Orange Line cars.Bolts and rivets of body panels will now be examined every 12 thousand miles, which is approximately every 8 or 9 weeks, when Orange Line cars are taken into a garage for scheduled comprehensive maintenance. This maintenance already includes checks of the safety system, evacuation equipment, propulsion system, brake system, suspension system, communication system, doors, wheels, lights, seating, and other interior compartment items. It is believed that last night a body panel fell off the side of an Orange Line car and onto tracks near State Street Station because the panel's fastening fixtures had deteriorated. Just after 8:30 pm, Orange Line Train 1317 was traveling southbound on approach to State Street Station when a 12 inch by 12 foot body panel near the bottom edge of one of its cars fell onto the tracks. The train ran over this panel, causing the train to become disabled as it entered State Street Station. It is believed the body panel struck a wall and then the third rail, causing an arcing event, which led to a residual smoke situation. All passengers disembarked in an orderly manner, and the train was taken out of service. At the time, MBTA officials were not aware that a piece of metal falling onto the tracks was the cause of this situation. Meanwhile, a second train, Train 1217, was approximately six minutes behind Train 1317. As Train 1217 traveled toward State Street Station, it also struck the piece of body panel that was still on the tracks. The impact caused an arcing event leading to another smoke situation. Train 1217 became disabled and was not yet properly berthed at the platform area at State Street Station when smoke was seen by passengers. Several emergency alarms were pulled by passengers onboard who became rightfully concerned. Because Train 1217 was not fully to the platform, the doors were automatically in the lock position, causing some concerned passengers to disembark by using doors at the end of some of the train cars and by kicking out windows and crawling out of the train. Each of the trains involved in the incident last night had a six car set. It is not known how many passengers were onboard each train. There were no reports of injuries. Out of an abundance of caution, the body panels on the entire Orange Line fleet were checked immediately after the incident. As a result of the inspection, crews further secured 13 panels on 120 cars. The Orange Line fleet resumed regular service for today's morning commute. Last September, the administration broke ground in Springfield for a $95 million railcar manufacturing facility to construct new subway cars. The facility is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017 and a contract has already been signed by the MBTA to replace all cars in the Orange Line fleet. The first new Orange Line cars are expected to be delivered in December 2018. Four new cars are scheduled for delivery each month until December 2022 at which time the fleet will have been replaced and the number of cars in the fleet will have been expanded to a total of 152. The average lifetime miles for an Orange Line car in service now is 1.6 million miles. The MBTA has also signed a contract to replace cars on the Red Line and the Green Line. Red Line production delivery starts November 2019 and ends June 2022 and Green Line Type 9 car production delivery will start March 2018 and end August 2018. A full investigation has begun into all aspects of the incident last night involving Train 1317 and Train 1217. The MBTA's operations group, the vehicle engineering group, and the engineering and mechanical group will look at issues including the actions of MBTA personnel, communication with passengers, repair and maintenance protocols, and condition of track and other capital assets. . (MBTA - posted 2/17)

FRA AWARDS $1.1 MILLION IN INCREASE SAFETY AT RAIL CROSSINGS ALONG SIX MILE ROUTE IN BATON ROUGE: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today awarded a $1.1 million grant to the State of Louisiana to increase safety at railroad crossings along six miles of Kansas City Southern tracks from North Street to Louise Street in Baton Rouge. The project is one of nine rail projects in eight states selected to receive nearly $10 million to upgrade and increase the safety of railroad crossings along energy routes under the Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program. FRA received 34 eligible applications requesting five times the $10 million available for the program, or $50.8 million.“These grants will reduce accidents and fatalities at railroad crossings and help modernize our nation’s rail system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Through a combination of these grants, education and enforcement, we can – and will – achieve our goal of preventing accidents and deaths at railroad crossings.”Of the 15 crossings along the route, six will be closed and nine will be upgraded to have lights, gates, and other road improvements. Since 2000, there have been 11 accidents that have resulted in four injuries along this corridor in Baton Rouge. An average of eight trains travel along this route each day. In 2014, Louisiana ranked in the top five states for fatalities at railroad crossings with 13 fatalities.“Families in this neighborhood travel across these tracks every day taking their children to school and going to work. But these crossings do not have all the safety measures that families and this community deserve with so many trains transporting crude oil and other energy products. Today’s investment will go a long way to keep families safe and move us closer to achieving the goal of reducing fatalities at railroad crossings,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.Last year, FRA launched a new, comprehensive campaign to reverse the recent uptick in railroad crossing fatalities. The campaign includes partnering with Google and other tech companies to use FRA data that pinpoints the country’s 200,000 railroad crossings to add visual and audio alerts to map applications. FRA has also worked with local law enforcement to increase enforcement around railroad crossings. Collisions between trains and vehicles at railroad crossings are the second-leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities. In 2014, 267 individuals died in these collisions. - See more at: https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/federal-railroad-administration-awards-louisiana-11-million-increase-safety-rail#sthash.QDiybsAI.dpuf (USDOT - posted 2/17)

CANADIAN PACIFIC TO SEEK DECLATORY ORDER FROM U.S. SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD: Canadian Pacific (CP) (CP) today announced it will seek a declaratory order from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) confirming the viability of the voting trust structure that CP has suggested as part of its proposed merger with Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS). CP urges NS, consistent with its duties to its shareholders, to assist constructively in this effort, but intends to proceed regardless of NS's cooperation. "While we remain fully confident in our comprehensive regulatory plan, shareholders of both CP and NS have recommended that we seek this declaratory order as a means to better understand the STB's views on the proposed voting trust model ahead of any formal application," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "We still think this action is unnecessary, however, we believe listening to the shareholders – the owners of our respective companies – is important." Voting trusts have been used in hundreds of transactions involving regulated industries, including 144 transactions overseen by the STB since deregulation of the rail industry in 1980. Trusts, besides protecting against unlawful control violations, are a key means of reducing the risk that the regulatory approval process will either interfere with the marketplace's assessment of a merger or be used as a tool by management to fend off would be acquirers. While the declaratory order presents a hypothetical proposed trust – outside the established STB procedure for seeking formal trust approval - CP is hopeful that the STB will be able to offer clear guidance that will satisfy shareholders' concerns before their voices are heard on CP's pending resolution. Earlier this month, CP submitted a resolution to NS shareholders to ask their board of directors to meet with CP to discuss the clear benefits of a business combination that would create a true end-to-end transcontinental railroad that would enhance competition, benefit the public and drive economic growth. "NS has cited supposed regulatory uncertainty regarding the voting trust model as a reason not to talk to CP, and NS proposed that we seek a declaratory order. We are skeptical that the STB will give a definitive ruling, especially when NS will not even sit down with us, but we are willing to go the extra mile if that is what it takes to get NS to the table," said Mr. Harrison.Canadian Pacific (CP) (CP) today announced it will seek a declaratory order from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) confirming the viability of the voting trust structure that CP has suggested as part of its proposed merger with Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS). CP urges NS, consistent with its duties to its shareholders, to assist constructively in this effort, but intends to proceed regardless of NS's cooperation. "While we remain fully confident in our comprehensive regulatory plan, shareholders of both CP and NS have recommended that we seek this declaratory order as a means to better understand the STB's views on the proposed voting trust model ahead of any formal application," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "We still think this action is unnecessary, however, we believe listening to the shareholders – the owners of our respective companies – is important." Voting trusts have been used in hundreds of transactions involving regulated industries, including 144 transactions overseen by the STB since deregulation of the rail industry in 1980. Trusts, besides protecting against unlawful control violations, are a key means of reducing the risk that the regulatory approval process will either interfere with the marketplace's assessment of a merger or be used as a tool by management to fend off would be acquirers. While the declaratory order presents a hypothetical proposed trust – outside the established STB procedure for seeking formal trust approval - CP is hopeful that the STB will be able to offer clear guidance that will satisfy shareholders' concerns before their voices are heard on CP's pending resolution. Earlier this month, CP submitted a resolution to NS shareholders to ask their board of directors to meet with CP to discuss the clear benefits of a business combination that would create a true end-to-end transcontinental railroad that would enhance competition, benefit the public and drive economic growth. "NS has cited supposed regulatory uncertainty regarding the voting trust model as a reason not to talk to CP, and NS proposed that we seek a declaratory order. We are skeptical that the STB will give a definitive ruling, especially when NS will not even sit down with us, but we are willing to go the extra mile if that is what it takes to get NS to the table," said Mr. Harrison. CP strongly believes that a combined railroad would offer unparalleled customer service and competitive rates that will support the success of the shippers and industries it serves, and satisfy the STB and Canadian regulators. For more information on CP's proposal to NS, visit CPconsolidation.com . (CP - posted 2/12)

CSX TO STREAMLINE MECHANICAL OPERATIONS AT 16 LOCATIONS: As part of CSX’s (CSX) ongoing commitment to driving network improvement and resource efficiency to match demand, the company is streamlining operations at 16 lower-volume mechanical facilities. Operations will be reduced at car shops in Montgomery, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; Baldwin, Florida; Evansville and Indianapolis, Indiana; New Orleans, Louisiana; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wilmington, North Carolina; Kenmore, New York; Ashtabula, Ohio; Erie and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Florence, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Huntington, West Virginia. The streamlining is designed to better coordinate shop activities across the CSX network while maintaining inspection and maintenance performance levels. These changes will impact approximately 116 CSX mechanical employees, some of whom will be given opportunities to fill positions in other higher-demand areas of the network. CSX human resources personnel are working directly with affected employees to identify possible opportunities and assist in the transition. Train operations through the affected areas will continue as normal, and CSX will continue to deliver the high level of safety and service that customers and communities expect. ( CSX - posted 2/12)

CP LAUNCHES CPconsolidation.com, DETAILING PROPOSED BUSINESS COMBINATION WITH NORFOLK SOUTHERN: Canadian Pacific (CP) (CP) today launched a new website highlighting the benefits of its pro-customer, end-to-end, competition-enhancing business combination proposal with Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS). To learn more about CP's proposal and get more details on the next steps, visit: CPconsolidation.com. . (CP - posted 2/12)

CN PLANS C$2.9 BILLION IN 2016 CAPITAL INVESTMENTS: CN announced today the details of its 2016 plan to invest approximately C$2.9 billion in rail infrastructure and equipment to raise network efficiency, support long-term growth and further strengthen safety. Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: "CN is investing for the long term and we are again planning a significant capital program in 2016 to support a safe and fluid railway network, and to raise the bar on efficiency and customer service. Despite the current uncertain economic environment, it is a good time to harden our infrastructure because we can do the work faster and at a better price." CN plans to spend approximately C$1.5 billion on track infrastructure to maintain a highly efficient and safe network. This work will include the replacement of rail, ties, and other track materials, bridge improvements, and targeted branch line upgrades. CN will invest C$600 million in rolling stock equipment, allowing the company to tap available growth opportunities and to improve the quality of its car fleet. To handle future traffic volumes and further improve fuel efficiency, CN also expects to take delivery of 90 new high-horsepower locomotives. The company plans to invest C$400 million this year in a range of other key initiatives to drive productivity and to improve service for its customers. CN will also spend C$400 million on the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) technology on portions of its U.S. rail network. CN plans to install all the required technology hardware on approximately 3,500 route-miles of its network by the end of 2018, with full PTC system operability achieved by the end of 2020, as required by U.S. federal government safety legislation. Mongeau concluded: "The strength of CN's balance sheet enables us to sustain significant capital investments throughout business cycles. Rail is critical to the North American economy, and our investments will allow the company to build on its long- term competitive advantage (CN - posted 2/09)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 6, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 6, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 504,510 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 6 were 241,680 carloads, down 11.7 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 262,830 containers and trailers, up 10.5 percent compared to 2015. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included motor vehicles and parts, up 24.6 percent to 19,216 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 20.4 percent to 8,904 carloads; and grain, up 5 percent to 22,257 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 30.3 percent to 73,298 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 16.8 percent to 11,980 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 8.7 percent to 18,737 carloads. For the first 5 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,209,722 carloads, down 15.7 percent from the same point last year; and 1,302,451 intermodal units, up 4.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 5 weeks of 2016 was 2,512,173 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 6.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 6, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 327,122 carloads, down 10 percent compared with the same week last year, and 334,377 intermodal units, up 10 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 661,499 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 5 weeks of 2016 was 3,292,279 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.7 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 70,220 carloads for the week, down 7.3 percent, and 61,758 intermodal units, up 10 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 5 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 645,694 carloads, containers and trailers, down 5.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,222 carloads for the week, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,789 intermodal units, down 2.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 5 weeks of 2016 was 134,412 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.7 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 2/09)

MTA TO NEW YORKERS: INVEST IN THE PLANET, INVEST IN THE MTA: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it will offer its first-ever “Green Bonds” to the public in a two-day order period starting next Wednesday, February 17. The bonds are certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international not-for-profit organization that supports financing for projects around the world that help reduce the impacts of climate change. The bonds’ proceeds of $500 million will pay for continuing work on infrastructure renewal and upgrade projects on New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad that were begun during the MTA’s 2010-2014 Capital Program. “Eight and a half million people travel on MTA trains and buses every day,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “By leaving their cars at home and embracing mass transit, New Yorkers play a dramatic role in reducing carbon emissions. These bonds recognize the ways in which mass transit and commuters work together to keep carbon out of the atmosphere, and that makes them the perfect choice for people who want to invest in the renewal and modernization of the greatest transportation system in the world, while at the same time helping New York to be greener, and healthier.” The MTA tomorrow will launch a targeted marketing campaign aimed to encourage New Yorkers to consider purchasing the bonds. Ads will appear online on the websites of media outlets that cover the New York region and over the air on New York-area radio stations. “Supporting public transportation is a powerful action that you can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the radio ad says. “You have an opportunity to not only sustain the transportation network that is essential to the New York metro region, but also to help combat climate change and reduce our region’s carbon footprint.” Green Bonds, also known as Climate Bonds, were popularized in 2010 as a method for raising capital for climate-friendly projects across the globe. In 2015, $41.8 billion in Green Bonds were issued, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) an international nongovernmental, nonprofit organization dedicated to stimulating investment in projects and assets emphasizing environmental sustainability. MTA’s Transportation Revenue Green Bonds, Series 2016A (Climate Bond Certified) is the first bond issuance to be certified in the U.S. under CBI’s Low Carbon Transport Standard. “This bond is a statement of international leadership by the MTA,” said Sean Kidney, CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative. “Significant investment in low carbon mass transport is needed in existing and emerging urban conurbations. This MTA bond issuance is a milestone in the inclusion of rail transport in the burgeoning green bond market.” To be certified as a Climate Bond, a bond offering needs to meet rigorous criteria relating to reporting and transparency and the green characteristics of the underlying assets. Eligible projects funded with the bonds need to be clearly identified; internal processes and controls to ensure tracking of proceeds have to be set up; and reporting regarding assets involved is required. The bond needs to be verified by an independent external verifier approved by the CBI Board. Lastly, the issuer of a green bond has to commit to ongoing annual reporting of the assets funded with the green bond proceeds. This is to satisfy investors that the projects remain in service as initially described. The process is supervised by the Climate Bond Standards Board with representatives from INCR /CERES, CalSTRS, California State Treasurer, CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF), Investor Group on Climate Change and The Natural Resources Defense Council. The bonds are being issued under the MTA’s Transportation Revenue Bond credit, which is backed by MTA’s operating revenues and State subsidies dedicated to the MTA. A unique strength of the credit is that investors benefit from a “gross pledge” of all pledged revenues to fund debt service requirements before being available to pay for operations. The credit is rated AA+/AA-/A1/A by Kroll, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch respectively. The bonds’ financial characteristics are typical for bonds backed by the Transportation Revenue Bond credit. It will pay interest at a fixed rate, with interest payments made every May 15 and November 15. The interest rate and final maturity date will be set in the coming week. Interest on the bonds is exempt from Federal, New York State and New York City personal income taxes. The bonds are being offered by Ramirez & Co., a member of MTA’s existing approved pool of book running senior managers and a New York State certified minority-owned business. Drexel Hamilton, LLC., a New York State certified service disabled veteran owned business, and Stern Brothers & Co., a New York State certified women-owned business, are serving as special co-senior managers. The MTA syndicate of Board-approved managers will also serve on the transaction. (MTA - posted 2/09)

CP FILES SHAREHOLDER PROPOSAL FOR NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNUAL MEETING: Canadian Pacific (CP) (CP) today notified Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS) of its intent to submit a resolution to NS' shareholders to ask their board of directors to engage in good faith discussions with CP regarding a business combination transaction involving CP and NS that would create a true end-to-end transcontinental railroad that would enhance competition, benefit the public and drive economic growth. NS shareholders have been telling CP from the beginning that their own board should, at the very least, talk to CP about a potential combination. CP's shareholder resolution to NS asks shareholders to formally vote in favour of what they have been saying to CP anecdotally for months. Further, while some NS shareholders have asked CP to nominate an alternative slate of directors for the NS board to help initiate a transaction, we believe this shareholder resolution is the clearest, fairest approach to a process that will result in an outcome beneficial to all stakeholders. "We are not asking NS shareholders to vote on the existing proposal; we are simply asking them to vote in favour of having their board talk to us," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "We continue to believe in the potential to create a transcontinental railroad with NS and believe this is a fair and measured approach to getting a deal done." The shareholder resolution will be voted on at the NS annual meeting later this year. NS' prior annual meeting was held on May 14, 2015. CP's proposal to NS, which includes a sizable premium in cash and stock offered to NS shareholders, would result in a company with the potential for faster earnings growth than either CP or NS could achieve on their own, all while delivering enhanced service to customers and maintaining a strong investment grade credit rating. "Shareholders and analysts will be watching NS closely throughout 2016 and if they continue to underperform, the pressure to work with CP will only grow," said Harrison. "Our model performs in good times and bad, consistently driving shareholder value during the peaks and the valleys – surely that kind of performance is what shareholders would expect their board to deliver and they can only deliver it by working with us." CP strongly believes that a combined railroad would offer unparalleled customer service and competitive rates that will support the success of the shippers and industries it serves, and satisfy the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and Canadian regulators. In direct discussions with NS, CP could also be able to work with NS on the optimal means to obtain regulatory approvals for the transaction. (CP- posted 2/09)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT'SS FIRST HACKATHIN SEEKS DATA-CENTRIC BUS FANS TO TRANSFORM STATEN ISLAND TRANSIT NETWORK: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is looking for bus enthusiasts with a knack for coding to take on the challenge of transforming Staten Island’s transit infrastructure. MTA New York City Transit is hosting its first bus hackathon, a one-day event in March to gather ideas and proposals for improving Staten Island’s transit network by applying technology to ridership and performance data that will be released to the public for the first time. The hackathon is a partnership with the TransitCenter and New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation. “The hackathon is an invitation for feedback from our tech-savvy customers as well as an opportunity for New York City Transit to further use innovation and technology to provide our customers with better service,” said Darryl Irick, Senior Vice President, Department of Buses and President of MTA Bus Company. The data sets that will be provided include ridership data for express bus routes and comprehensive archival performance data for express and local bus routes. The hackathon challenges data-minded transit fans with the task of finding solutions for faster, more reliable transit for Staten Island. The hackathon complements public workshops being held by NYC Transit for its ongoing study of bus services and customer needs on Staten Island, including a workshop scheduled for tonight, February 9, at Staten Island Technical High School where Transit representatives will gather input from residents. MTA previously held hackathons in conjunction with its annual App Quests, which challenged developers with creating transit-oriented apps to improve customer experience through use of the MTA’s extensive open-source data library. The hackathon is sponsored by the TransitCenter, a nonprofit that advocates for improving public transportation for communities and businesses. Additional support will be provided by Google and CartoDB, with representatives from both organizations available onsite for technical assistance at the event. The one-day-only competition on Saturday, March 5, will be held at the Rudin Center at 295 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. It is open to the public but requires registration to the Rudin Center via the following link by Saturday, February 20, 2016: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Zk9nidxbWtiqwxJRMBZe5UNtXN7Qnz3X73Cf-xubnNU/viewform?c=0&w=1. Judge and prize information will be announced closer to the event, which will be attended by Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. (MTA- posted 2/09)

MTA ANNOUNCES PLAN TO ENGAGE WITH COMMUNITY ON L TRAIN TUNNEL RECONSTRUCTION WORK: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has developed a plan to engage in detailed community consultation on how to proceed with necessary repairs for the Canarsie Tubes, which carry the L Subway train under the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan. MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and MTA New York City Transit President Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim announced the new plan after meeting with a delegation of elected officials led by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, representing neighborhoods in both boroughs that will be affected by the construction project. Senator Martin Malavé Dilan, Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, and City Council Member Stephen Levin also attended the meeting, where Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Senator Daniel Squadron were also represented. “The Canarsie Tubes were heavily damaged during Superstorm Sandy when they were flooded with 7 million gallons of saltwater, which has eaten away at the metal and concrete materials that make up the tubes’ infrastructure,” Chairman Prendergast said. “We need to bring the Canarsie Tubes to a state of good repair, and we need to work closely with the community and its elected officials to determine the best way to proceed with this work and provide travel alternatives while it occurs.” “I am thrilled that the MTA has agreed to work with the elected officials and the community to make the L Subway train repairs and upgrades as undisruptive as possible,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “The MTA has been awarded nearly $5 billion in federal Sandy aid and has prioritized repairs to the flood-damaged 100-year-old Canarsie Tubes. Upgrades to the Bedford Avenue and 1st Avenue stations – two old stations that are inadequate to handle the huge surge in ridership in recent years – are great news for the L Subway train. Our meeting with Chairman Prendergast was productive, and I am very pleased that the MTA has agreed to host community engagement meetings in the near future so that all my constituents who will be affected by the work can be sure that their concerns are heard.” The MTA will seek to use as much federal Sandy relief funding as possible to perform this work. Congresswoman Maloney was instrumental in obtaining these relief funds and ensuring they can be allocated for rebuilding the Canarsie Tubes. Cost estimates and construction timelines for the project will be developed as planning and design work commences, and no timeline has been established for work to begin on the Canarsie Tube itself. The MTA has committed to meet regularly with residents, businesses and others affected by the Canarsie Tube work, as well as to consult with elected officials representing the affected areas, before making any decisions about the construction process and service alternatives. Discussions at the meeting made clear that further study of these topics is necessary before any final decisions are made, and that the MTA will take community concerns into account. MTA New York City Transit is weighing the operational and engineering impacts of different proposals for rebuilding the Canarsie Tubes. This agreement on a framework for community consultation ensures that the MTA will be able to consider those technical issues within the larger context of the concerns expressed by residents, businesses, community boards, merchant groups and civic associations. “By soliciting input from the affected communities as this process moves forward, we will develop a stronger and more responsive plan for how to accomplish this vital work while respecting the concerns of those who rely on the L Subway train,” President Hakim said. “We share the goal of frequent and reliable L Subway service between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and we will work closely with those who will be most affected by this work.” “As news of a potential long term closure of the L Subway Line spread, riders and businesses rightfully feared the worst. The meeting with New York City Transit and the MTA represents the beginning of a dialogue with the L Subway Line community. I appreciate the MTA’s commitment to working with our offices and recognizing the value of the community’s input before finalizing plans to repair the Canarsie Tube,” said Senator Dilan. “The impact these repairs will have on the community is detrimental to thousands of riders and hundreds of businesses. However, our number one priority is to ensure everyone’s safety,” said Assemblyman Lentol. “By engaging the community in the planning and a dialogue about the need for the repairs and finding ways we can mitigate some of the difficulties we will face, together we are taking the necessary steps towards an inclusive and transparent process. As many of my colleagues in the legislature know well, some of the finest solutions to problems come from our constituents.” “The MTA, led by Chairman Prendergast, had a very productive meeting with elected officials from Brooklyn on the situation with the L Subway train. The meeting provided clarity for us on the significant damage to the line from Sandy as well as potential courses of actions. While a timeline and an exact course of action are not yet clear, we are confident that the affected communities will have good and productive dialogue with the MTA moving forward,” said Council Member Levin. "Brooklynites who live and work along the path of the L Subway train, from Canarsie to Williamsburg, need to be part of a constructive conversation with the MTA on the impending Canarsie Tube repairs," Borough President Adams said. "The impact of the rehabilitation work will be significant on riders, and they deserve nothing less than a comprehensive mitigation strategy, as well as a transparent dialogue while that strategy is developed. The MTA's commitment to community engagement is an important component of the eventual solution to this civic challenge, and I will be working hand-in-hand with residents and business owners to ensure we reach the right destination." “From full line reviews, to the R Subway and G Subway train closures, we've found that when community engagement happens, so do results,” said Senator Squadron. “It’s important to have an open conversation, with all stakeholders at the table, on all options available. That’s how we can understand what needs to happen to keep the L Subway train on track, and how to mitigate impacts. I thank the MTA for agreeing to this kind of engagement – I’ll continue to work with the community and colleagues on a plan that works for riders.” The L Subway train carries 225,000 customers through the Canarsie Tubes on an average weekday, and is the main transit route for large sections of the Williamsburg and Bushwick neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Since 1990, ridership at L Subway train stations has more than doubled, and ridership at the Bedford Ave station in Brooklyn has more than quadrupled. The Canarsie Tubes suffered extensive damage to tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls throughout a 7,100-foot-long flooded section of both tubes. Bench walls throughout those sections must be rehabilitated to protect the structural integrity of the tubes. During this rehabilitation process, the MTA will also make significant improvements to stations and tunnel segments closest to the under-river section. New stairs and elevators will be installed at the Bedford Av station in Brooklyn and the 1 Av station in Manhattan, and three new electric substations will be installed, providing more power to operate additional trains during rush hours. MTA New York City Transit has taken several steps to ensure the Canarsie Tubes remain reliable until permanent repairs can be performed. The agency is inspecting the tunnels’ duct banks more frequently, and has installed redundant power cables to ensure the pumping system will operate without interruption. The Canarsie Tubes are one of eight under-river tunnels that flooded during Superstorm Sandy, all of which required extensive rehabilitation and repair. Some of that work has been accomplished during night and weekend closures, while the R Subway train’s Montague Tubes under the East River were closed for more than a year for a complete renovation. (MTA- posted 2/08)

MARC AWARDS CONTRACT TO BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION TO OVERHAUL BI-LEVEL RAILCARS: In an effort to improve safety, increase reliability and provide passengers with a more comfortable ride, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Transit Administration has awarded a $36.8 million contract to Bombardier Transportation to overhaul 63 MARC III bi-level commuter rail cars.   “MTA's MARC train plays a vital role in connecting people from all parts of Maryland to jobs in our nation's capital every weekday, and our popular weekend Penn Line service between Baltimore and Washington continues to grow," said MTA Administrator and CEO Paul Comfort. "MTA is committed to providing safe, efficient and reliable transit with world-class customer service. Overhauling our MARC III cars is a cost-effective way to improve the safety and reliability of our fleet so we can deliver on those goals to the thousands of commuters, businesses and tourists that depend on MARC Train service every day."    MARC operates along three commuter rail lines in Maryland: Penn, Camden and Brunswick. The Penn Line operates along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor from Perryville to Union Station in Washington, D.C.; the Camden Line from Baltimore’s Camden Station to Union Station; and the Brunswick Line from Martinsburg, W.Va., to Union Station. Both the Camden and Brunswick lines operate along CSX freight lines. Average weekday ridership on all three MARC lines is roughly 37,500 riders. MARC also operates weekend trains on the Penn Line between Martin State Airport and Union Station transporting about 5,500 riders. The MARC III bi-level commuter rail cars have been in service nearly 17 years.   “Our relationship with the MTA illustrates how a full-service provider can support the wide ranging needs of a vibrant transit system,” said Raymond Bachant, president, Americas Division, Bombardier Transportation. “We can deliver new rolling stock, provide fleet maintenance and operations, and refurbish existing equipment to help transit systems get the most value out of their capital investments while providing high levels of safety and comfort for their passengers.”   (MTA- posted 2/05)

FIFTEENTH NEW TTC STREETCAR ENTERS SERVICE: The Toronto Transit Commisssion’s newest low-floor streetcar, car number 4416, entered service on the 510 Spadina route in time for this afternoon’s rush hour. There are now a total of 15 new streetcars in service on the 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront routes. All of the new accessible streetcars are equipped with PRESTO machines and ticket validators to allow customers to pay their fare. The machines will also allow customers without a smart card to purchase a single-ride Proof-of-Payment (POP) ticket using coins or tokens. The new streetcars are fully accessible for customers using mobility devices, and are more comfortable to ride, featuring a higher passenger capacity and air conditioning. All TTC streetcar routes are POP, allowing customers with a transfer or valid TTC pass to board at any door. The TTC’s low-floor streetcar project is jointly funded by the Government of Canada Federal Gas Tax Fund, the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto. (TTC- posted 2/05)

FRA GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO REBUILD BWI RAIL STATION, INCREASE SERVICE AND RELIABILITY: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the new Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) rail station.  The project includes adding a fourth track to nine miles of the Northeast Corridor surrounding BWI and reconfiguring the platforms to allow boarding from all four tracks. “The current rail station and infrastructure at BWI was built more than 30 years ago and does not support today’s needs or the region’s expected growth,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “The completion of the environmental review for this project brings BWI one step closer to a safer rail station, reduced rail congestion, and increased reliability.” Beyond Traffic, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s draft framework for the future, projects a population growth of 70 million more Americans over the next 30 years.  The Northeast megaregion, which includes the area of Baltimore, among others, is projected to add an additional 18.4 million people during this time, a 35.2 percent growth from 2010. FRA completed the environmental assessment and preliminary engineering, which will allow final design and then construction to begin.  Funding for final design and construction has not yet been identified.  Both Amtrak and Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) trains provide passenger rail service at the station, which has seen increased ridership by daily commuters and airline passengers.  The station is Amtrak’s thirteenth busiest station in the country. Currently, there are only three tracks between the Grove Interlocking to the south near Odenton, Md. and the Winans Interlocking to the north near Halethorpe, Md.  The addition of a fourth track would increase rail capacity and reliability. “A new BWI rail station will allow both airline and rail passengers to get to their destinations safely, reliably and efficiently,” said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “Today’s announcement is a significant step toward achieving that goal.” In Fiscal Year 2010, FRA awarded a $9.4 million High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grant funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to the Maryland Department of Transportation to fund the environmental analysis and conduct preliminary engineering work. (FRA- posted 2/04)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN FACILITATED $4.2 BILLION IN INDUSTRIAL INVESTMENT ALONG RAIL LINES IN 2015: Norfolk Southern assisted 93 industries in locating or expanding their businesses along its rail lines in 2015. The 61 new and 32 expanded industries represent an investment of $4.2 billion by NS customers and are expected to create 6,200 new jobs in the railroad's territory, generating more than 85,000 carloads of new rail traffic annually. “While the energy sector has been severely impacted by the drop in commodity prices, this sector -- including alternative energy production -- still accounted for nearly 20 percent of the projects that started operations this year,” said Jason Reiner, assistant vice president industrial development. “However, the largest impact to our communities was the strong showing in manufacturing, accounting for $3.7 billion in new investment and 5,600 new jobs. Renewed growth in the automotive industry was the largest contributor to this success. We expect to see continued growth in manufacturing in 2016 as projects currently in development begin full operation.” Norfolk Southern works with state and local economic development authorities on projects involving site location and development of infrastructure to connect customers to its rail system and provides free and confidential plant location services, including industrial park planning, site layout, track design, and supply chain analysis. During the past 10 years, NS’ Industrial Development Department has participated in the location or expansion of 989 facilities representing an investment of nearly $60 billion and creating more than 42,000 new customer jobs in the territory served by the railroad. (Norfolk Southern, Randy Kotuby - posted 2/04)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR JANUARY AND WEEK ENDING JANUARY 30, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. traffic, as well as volumes for January 2016. Carload traffic in January totaled 968,042 carloads, down 16.6 percent or 192,747 from January 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,039,621 containers and trailers in January 2016, up 3.4 percent or 34,523 units from the same month last year. For January 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,007,663 down 7.3 percent or 158,224 carloads and intermodal units from January 2015. In January 2016, four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2015. This included: miscellaneous carloads, up 45.2 percent or 7,409 carloads; chemicals, up 2.1 percent or 2,615 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 3.9 percent or 2,435 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in January 2016 from January 2015 included: coal, down 33.3 percent or 150,658 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 19.4 percent or 12,037 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel, and sand, down 10.3 percent or 8,475 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were down 5.9 percent or 42,089 carloads from January 2015. “Intermodal was solid in January, but carload volumes weren’t what railroads were hoping for,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “By all accounts, rail service right now is excellent, but volume just isn’t there. At some point, the problems currently plaguing the energy and manufacturing sectors — low oil prices, a strong dollar, uncertainties in emerging ?markets — will sort themselves out. When that happens, railroads will be positioned to provide safe, reliable service.” Week Ending January 30, 2016 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 30, 2016 was 512,746 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.5 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week, there were 248,961 carloads, down 16.6 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,785 containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared to 2015. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 45.9 percent to 10,019 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 5.8 percent to 18,556 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.8 percent to 31,981 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 33.8 percent to 77,416 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 24.9 percent to 11,626 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 19.1 percent to 19,826 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 30, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 335,717 carloads, down 15 percent compared with the same week last year, and 336,908 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 672,625 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 4 weeks of 2016 was 2,630,780 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.8 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 69,901 carloads for the week, down 12.4 percent, and 61,982 intermodal units, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 4 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 513,716 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,855 carloads for the week, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,141 intermodal units, down 3.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 4 weeks of 2016 was 109,401 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.3 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 2/04)

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