UPDATED DECEMBER 17, 2013:
UPDATE ON SOME OF THE FORMER CPL SIGNALS IN MARYLAND:
An update on some of the former B&O CPL signals in Maryland... as
In Baltimore CPL signals are still in use on the
- posted 12/17)
CSX Baltimore Terminal Subdivision at HB and Bailey's Wye. Also CPL signals are still in use on the
CSX Locust Point Branch at Leadenhall Street
Most of the replacements are up.
In Cecil County, on the
CSX Philadelphia Subdivision, CPL signals are still in use at both West Aiken and East Aiken.
. Most of the replacements are up.
CSX Philadelphia Subdivision, CPL signals are still in use at Leslie, Eder, West Singerly, East Singerly. No replacements so far. However, they are all scheduled to be replaced.
AMTRAK ADDS MORE WOLVERINE SERVICE TRAINS FOR HOLIDAY TRAVEL TO AND FROM MICHIGAN:
Due to strong demand, Amtrak is adding additional Wolverine Service trains between Michigan and Chicago to provide expanded December and January holiday travel options. Passengers should book their tickets now for best availability and pricing.
Amtrak will offer an additional eastbound and an additional westbound Wolverine Service train between Chicago and Ann Arbor on December 22, 26, 27, 29 & 31 and on January 1& 3. Ordinarily, Amtrak provides three daily round-trips from Chicago through Ann Arbor, with continuing service to and from Detroit-area stations.
The extra Wolverines (Trains 356 & 359) will operate in addition to regular Wolverines (Trains 350-355). Please see the attached schedules, which include the Blue Water (Trains 364 & 365), that share the Wolverine route between Battle Creek and Chicago.
The extra trains were added with the encouragement of the Michigan Department of Transportation and permission of Norfolk Southern and CN railroads.
- posted 12/17)
STRASBURG RAILROAD RECEIVES STATE GRANT:
The State of Pennsylvania has awarded the Strasburg Railroad with a $1.1 million grant to improve freight capacity. Extra capacity will be added to the railroad's East Strasburg yard to handle additional freight traffic. In addition, improvements will be made to the railroad's 4.5 mile long mainline to handle heavy freight cars. Over the past year freight traffic has boomed on the Strasburg Railroad, and is expected to increase in the future. Recently, Norfolk Southern closed the trestle at the nearby Dillerville Yard in Lancaster. The trestle had handled Approximately 500 freight cars of corn products and fertilizer, annually, for unloading. All this freight traffic will be shifted to the Strasburg Railroad for unloading.
- posted 12/16)
STEWARTSTOWN RAILROAD OPEN HOUSE:
The Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad will host open house events from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays on Dec. 15, 22, and 29, at the station museum at 21 W. Pennsylvania Ave. (Route 851) in Stewartstown, PA.
The open house events are free. Weather permitting, the railroad will offer motorcar rides during the open houses. Motorcar tickets are $6.
For more information, visit
- posted 12/13)
FRA LAUNCHES OPERATION DEEP DIVE: INSPECTORS TO CONDUCT 60 DAY COMPREHENSIVE SAFETY ASSESMENT OF METRO-NORTH:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced the launch of a 60-day comprehensive safety assessment of Metro-North Commuter Railroad in response to the December 1st crash. Operation Deep Dive, beginning December 16, 2013, will exhaustively review Metro-North’s compliance with federal regulations, its procedures and practices, and its safety culture.
“Safety is our top priority, and this in-depth investigation will help ensure that Metro-North is doing everything possible to improve its safety record,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Together with our other recent efforts, Operation Deep Dive will give travelers the peace of mind they deserve when traveling throughout the railroad’s region.”
On Monday, December 16, U.S. Department of Transportation technical and human factors experts will begin a comprehensive review and assessment of safety-critical procedures and processes at Metro-North. The rail safety team will look at:
“Encouraging a safety stand-down with employees and issuing an Emergency Order and Safety Advisory after the recent Metro-North accident were all necessary first steps to immediately secure and improve safety, and we commend Governor Cuomo and MTA in taking those steps,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “Operation Deep Dive allows FRA to further identify sources of risk and drive continuous safety improvement. This approach will help restore public confidence in Metro-North and is evidence of FRA’s safety program that has helped reduce train accidents nation-wide by 43 percent over the last decade.”
After Operation Deep Dive is complete, FRA will issue a report with findings and recommendations. FRA will further evaluate Metro-North’s compliance with the Emergency Order, its effectiveness in fulfilling the recommendations in the Safety Advisory, and then consider if additional actions are necessary to strengthen safety at Metro-North.
On December 11, FRA issued an industry-wide Safety Advisory to help ensure all railroads adhere to federal regulations and applicable railroad rules regarding maximum authorized train speed limits. For a description of FRA’s increased oversight and enforcement of Metro-North’s rail lines since May 2013, see our
Safety Action Plan
- posted 12/12)
Track, signal and rolling stock maintenance, inspection and repair practices;
Protection for employees working on rail infrastructure, locomotives and rail cars;
Communication between mechanical and transportation departments at maintenance facilities;
Operation control center procedures and rail traffic controller training;
Compliance with federal Hours of Service regulations, including fatigue management programs;
Evaluating results of operational data to measure efficiency of employees’ execution and comprehension of all applicable federal regulations;
Locomotive engineer oversight;
Engineer and conductor certification;
Operating crew medical requirements.
AAR REPORTS MIXED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 7, 2013 with 279,213 total U.S. carloads, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 262,765 units, up 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 541,978 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including petroleum and petroleum products with 14,831 carloads, up 18.6 percent; and grain with 20,560 carloads, up 10.4 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included coal with 104,994 carloads, down 13.3 percent.
For the first 49 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,808,713 carloads, down 0.6 percent from the same point last year, and 12,135,679 intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 49 weeks of 2013 was 25,944,392 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.7 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 76,505 carloads for the week, down 4.0 percent, and 54,485 intermodal units, up 5.0 percent compared with the same week in 2012. For the first 49 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,876,649 carloads, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year, and 2,648,046 intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 15,280 carloads for the week, down 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,387 intermodal units, down 7.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 49 weeks of 2013 was 746,975 carloads, up 6.3 percent from the same point last year, and 493,504 intermodal units, down 0.6 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the 49 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 18,432,337 carloads, up 0.3 percent compared with the same point last year, and 15,277,229 intermodal trailers and containers, up 4.3 percent compared with last year.
- posted 12/12)
CANARAIL SIGNS A $3.7 MILLION DEAL IN AFGHANISTAN:
CANARAIL's President and CEO, Mr. Miguel Valero, is proud to announce, along with its Kabul-based partner Appleton Consulting Inc., the signing of a contract with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to carry out a 300 km railway feasibility study in Northern Afghanistan. Funding for this project comes from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Building on the conclusions and recommendations of ADB's Railway Development Study and with the objective to extend the now operational Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif Railway, the Government contemplates the construction of a railway heading west from Mazar-e-Sharif through Sheberghan and Andkhoy to Acqina to link with Turkmenistan, and of another railway heading northeast from Mazar-e-Sharif to the border with Tajikistan.
If proved feasible, the extension of the existing railway in both east and west directions will foster cross border and regional trade, increase rail usage, ensure the viability of the initial railway investment, and introduce competition in rail operations.
"Afghanistan has a vast potential for developing the mineral extraction sector, which may be an engine of self-sustaining economic growth in the near future. The decision to award this study to CANARAIL is another demonstration that we stand as a strong and reliable source of expertise for railway matters all over the world. We are very proud to become Afghanistan and Asian Development Bank's partner in identifying long term solutions for rail transportation in Afghanistan and in the region and to act as a platform for economic growth." said Mr. Valero who is just coming back from Kabul where he finalized the contract negotiations.
CANARAIL possesses a unique expertise in rail transport, with a strong focus on heavy haul and mining sectors. Its experts have participated in major projects on an international scale over the last 20 years, contributing to the completion of some of the most important railway projects worldwide.
Despite its vast international experience and track record in the provision of rail services, this is CANARAIL's first significant gain in Afghanistan and in the region. This success was made possible by its partnership with Appleton Consulting Inc. (ACI), a Canadian firm specialized in programme management for Afghanistan-based projects.
- posted 12/11)
CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS WITH AMTRAK:
As Amtrak connects families and friends for the holidays, America’s Railroad® is also celebrating the season by offering a variety of Amtrak-related gifts at the Amtrak Store, providing a chance to send customized rail-themed video eCards, and will have a model train circling the National Christmas Tree.
For holiday gift-giving, Amtrak offers a wide variety of merchandise including Travel Certificates, apparel, toys, collectibles, posters and calendars at the
online Amtrak Store.
New for the 2013 holiday season is a limited-edition ornament that is the first in a series featuring long-distance trains. The ornament depicts a red cardinal overlooking the Cardinal train as it passes through snowcapped mountains. Also offered are eCertificates for last minute gifts.
Amtrak offers another way to help family and friends connect this holiday season with Amtrak Holiday Connections, a video eCard. Visitors can upload photos to place themselves aboard an Amtrak model train and create a custom video of their journey. The video can be shared along with a special holiday message with family and friends.
As part of the national tradition of the National Christmas Tree, Amtrak worked with the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, and the National Christmas Tree Railroad, to have an Amtrak model train circle the evergreen located at President’s Park just south of the White House through Jan. 1, 2014.
The Amtrak model train is a G scale (1:22.5) and includes two GE Genesis P42 diesel locomotives and four single-level Amfleet passenger cars plus a café car. The model represents Amtrak’s Midwest Corridor service, as well as the Northeast Regional service south of Washington, D.C., where the trains operate using this type of equipment.
(Amtrak - posted 12/10)
MTA ANNOUNCES IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENTS TO ADDRESS CRITICAL METRO-NORTH LOCATIONS:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that MTA Metro-North Railroad is making immediate improvements to reinforce safety at critical curves and movable bridges along the railroad's right-of-way. These improvements were directed Friday by Governor Andrew Cuomo in a letter to the MTA and by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in its Emergency Order.
“Metro-North is taking important steps to improve safety for its customers and employees, and I expect the railroad will continue searching for ways to improve its operations and fully restore its commuters' confidence,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast.
These improvements were made as part of an agreement reached between Metro-North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT).
Signal crews have installed new protections at the Spuyten Duyvil curve, the site of last week's fatal derailment, which will warn train engineers of the approaching speed reduction and will automatically apply the train's emergency brakes if speed is not lowered to the 30 mph maximum in the curve. (Photos of this work are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/sets/72157638485865565
). The signal improvement at Spuyten Duyvil was done simultaneously and in coordination with work to restore track, power and signal systems there after the derailment. Those protections will be operating on all trains by Monday morning.
By Tuesday morning, all Metro-North trains will enhance communication between train engineers and conductors to ensure trains are operated at safe speeds at four other critical curves as well as at five movable bridges. Conductors will stand with engineers at each train's control cab through the critical curves to verbally confirm that speed limits are adhered to. Where the train layout prohibits the conductor from reaching the engineer in a locomotive, they will communicate by radio. They will also communicate by radio at the five movable bridges.
Metro-North engineers are developing new signal protections to automatically enforce speed restrictions at the other four critical curves by March, and at the five movable bridges by September. The four critical curves are at Yonkers on the Hudson Line, White Plains on the Harlem Line, and Port Chester and Bridgeport on the New Haven Line. All five movable bridges are on the New Haven Line.
Metro-North has also surveyed its tracks and will reduce the maximum authorized speed at 26 locations in order to eliminate all locations where the speed limit drops by more than 20 mph. Signs will be posted along the right-of-way to alert engineers of reductions in maximum authorized speed at the four curves by December 16.
In addition, Metro-North has committed to enhance its monitoring of compliance with speed restrictions. This monitoring is accomplished by reviewing the event data recorders from randomly selected trains, by sending supervisors to ride trains and observe speeds, and by operating radar gun enforcement at locations throughout the Metro-North network.
“These actions, combined with investments in the infrastructure and a hightened focus on safety with all employees, are critical to ensure the confidence and trust of all of the stakeholders in the Metro-North rail system. It is our expectation that Metro-North will continue to make safety and reliability their primary focus and demonstrate this through regular and transparent actions and communications,” said ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker.
Two-thirds of Metro-North's operating fleet is equipped with alerter devices in the engineer's position to ensure engineers remain attentive, and the remaining one-third is equipped with dead man's controls. Within the next year, all equipment without alerters will be either retrofitted to include them or replaced with new equipment that includes alerters.
At the FRA's direction, Metro-North has also committed to implementing a confidential close call reporting system, a measure which will allow employees to anonymously report safety concerns without fear of reprisal in order to identify potential problems before they can cause an accident or injury.
Additionally, Metro-North has conducted safety stand-downs for 4,500 employees in over 200 sessions at more than 80 locations. These sessions emphasized to all employees that safety is the most important factor in railroad operations and that all employees must operate and communicate effectively with safety as the ultimate goal. These safety stand-downs will be conducted every quarter in the future.
(MTA - posted 12/09)
UPDATE ON FORMER CLP SIGNALS AT EAST AND WEST AIKEN:
As of December 7 former B&O CPL signals were still in use on CSX's Philadelphia Division at both
East and West Aiken. However, most of their replacements are up. The days of the CPL signals are numbered.
(Stephen Panopoulos - posted 12/09)
CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES SUPER PASS NOW AVAILABLE TO SPEED TRAVEL THROUGHOUT SUPER BOWL WEEK
In conjunction with the Christie Administration’s ongoing preparations to welcome and safely transport hundreds of thousands of visitors across the Garden State for Super Bowl XLVIII, NJ TRANSIT today announced the launch of a commemorative, unlimited ride SUPER PASS that will speed travel for customers utilizing the agency’s transit system throughout Super Bowl Week.
“The Garden State is ready to welcome the world to Super Bowl XLVIII,” said Governor Chris Christie. “Our Administration’s SUPER PASS will further speed their travels and offer the flexibility to utilize the entire NJ TRANSIT system throughout Super Bowl Week.”
The SUPER PASS is now available to the general public via online orders only at njtransit.com/superbowl
through January 20, 2014. The 4 1/8 x 5 1/2 inch SUPER PASS will be printed on card-type stock with lanyard capability for convenient use.
"This is the first ‘Mass Transit Super Bowl, and we’re thrilled to be able to partner with Governor Christie and NJ TRANSIT to offer this convenient, cost-effective pass to efficiently and safely transport hundreds of thousands of visitors to events in New Jersey and across the region during Super Bowl week and for the game itself,” said Al Kelly, Jr., CEO of the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee.
Super Bowl XLVIII will be played at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014. More than 400,000 guests are projected to visit the New York/New Jersey metropolitan region in conjunction with this mega-event, infusing an estimated $550 million into the region’s economy. NJ TRANSIT has been designated by the NFL and the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee as the lead transportation agency for this important event.
“Our SUPER PASS will provide significant savings for those travelling to and from Newark Liberty Airport as well as for customers planning to attend Super Bowl events, such as Media Day at Newark’s Prudential Center, the NFL’s Super Bowl Boulevard in Manhattan or any other of the myriad of events planned near NJ TRANSIT’s service areas,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman James Simpson.
To support the anticipated spike in ridership between critical venues, NJ TRANSIT is currently finalizing service plans that will provide robust and convenient service on Super Bowl Sunday and throughout Super Bowl Week. These plans will be unveiled and further communicated in the coming weeks.
The agency is also recruiting and training and will deploy more than 800 NJ TRANSIT Employee Ambassadors across the system during Super Bowl week. The agency also is completing critical infrastructure improvements in Secaucus which will support Super Bowl-related transportation operations as well as events well after Super Bowl XLVIII. Rail platform extensions will permit the use of longer, higher-capacity trains to and from MetLife Stadium. A new bus service area will also triple bus capacity, which will further enhance Meadowlands-area bus operations
(NJT - posted 12/09)
ANOTHER STATE-OF-THE-ART FRAC SAND PRODUCER LOCATES ON CN'S WISCONSIN NETWORK:
CN announced today it will start serving a new state-of-the art frac sand producer on its Wisconsin rail network in December 2013.
The production facility of Source Energy Services (SES), formerly Canadian Sand and Proppants, in Weyerhaeuser, Wis., is located on CN's rehabilitated Barron Subdivision and will have an annual production capacity of 1.2 million tons of high-grade sands, rising to 2 million tons by the third quarter of 2014. In 2012, CN spent US$35 million to restore a 40-mile segment of the subdivision between Ladysmith and Poskin, Wis., to better serve the frac sand market.
CN has 11 frac sand facilities on its network in Wisconsin, which is seeing a substantial increase in frac sand production because of its reserves of high-quality and in-demand sands. These industrial sands are used by the oil and gas industry in the hydraulic fracturing process to hold shale fractures open to let natural gas and oil flow out.
Brad Thomson, president and chief executive officer of Calgary, Alta.-based SES, said: "SES is excited to partner with CN on this project, which will advance our goal of becoming a major player in the frac sand industry. In conjunction with the opening of the production facility in Wisconsin, SES will also bring on-line the largest frac sand terminal in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Wembley, Alta., on CN's network near Grande Prairie. With a loop track and on-site storage capacity of 40,000 metric tonnes of sand, this will be SES's ninth and largest terminal on a network that spans North America, from Ft. Nelson, B.C., to Three Rivers, Tex.
"Working with CN will position us strongly in the frac sand marketplace with timely rail access to Western Canadian shales and other basins throughout the United States and Canada."
Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "CN's network is uniquely positioned to provide Wisconsin frac sand producers efficient access to key North American shale deposits.
"In addition to our investment on the Barron Sub in 2012, CN accelerated work this year on the US$33 million-rehabilitation of 74 miles of track between Wisconsin Rapids and Blair, Wis. This will increase car-loading capacity and train velocity for the growing frac sand supply chains.
"Over the past five years, CN's frac sand market has grown by nearly 300 per cent, rising to more than 50,000 carloads in 2013. Our end-to-end service focus has supported that growth, and we expect to achieve C$300 million in frac sand revenue by 2015."
(CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/09)
THREE MORE WORTHY CAUSES TO BENEFIT FROM NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S ART SALE:
CN announced today it will start serving a new state-of-the art frac sand producer on its Wisconsin rail The sale by Norfolk Southern of a work of art at an auction last month will benefit three more charitable causes in addition to the previously announced donation to the Fire Up 611! campaign, the Norfolk Southern Foundation announced.
"Each one of these organizations plays an important role in enriching a community where Norfolk Southern has a major presence," said Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman. "These donations will be transformative for each of them, and we feel fortunate to be able to share the sale's proceeds with them."
On Nov. 14, Norfolk Southern sold an untitled 1959 Mark Rothko painting through an auction in New York City. The company announced at that time that it would direct $1.5 million of the proceeds to the Virginia Museum of Transportation's campaign to restore the Class J 611 steam locomotive to service.
(NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/09)
A $500,000 donation to ACCESS College Foundation will allow the Norfolk organization to expand programming and provide those "last dollar" scholarships to students in Hampton Roads, many of whom are first generation college students. ACCESS College Foundation provides a path to attend and complete college for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity
Feeding America Southwest Virginia will receive $252,000 to purchase a new roof, allowing the Roanoke, Va., food bank to replace a roof that has far exceeded its useful life. The organization feeds Southwest Virginia's hungry through a network of partners and engages the region in the fight to end hunger.
The Harrison Museum of African American Culture in Roanoke will receive $25,000 that will enable the museum to purchase exhibits and displays. The Harrison Museum of African American Cultures, Inc. (HMAAC) is a cultural and educational institution committed to advocating, showcasing, preserving and celebrating the art and history of African Americans for Roanoke Valley citizens and visitors.
FRA ISSUES EMERGENCY ORDER TO METRO-NORTH RAILROAD ON SPEED RESTRICTIONS AND LOCOMOTIVE CREW STAFFING:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued an Emergency Order (EO 29) to Metro-NorthCommuter Railroad (MNCW) to take specific, immediate steps to ensure its train crews do not exceed speed limitations. The EO requires Metro-North to modify its existing signal system to ensure speed limits are obeyed and to provide two qualified railroad employees to operate trains where major speed restrictions are in place until the signal system is updated.
“Safety is our highest priority, and we must do everything we can to learn from this tragic crash and help prevent future derailments,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “While we assist the National Transportation Safety Board in carrying out its investigation, this Emergency Order will help ensure that other Metro-North trains travel at appropriate, safe speeds.”
EO 29 requires Metro-North to provide the FRA with a list of main track locations where there is a reduction of more than 20 mph in the maximum authorized passenger train speed by December 10, 2013. Further, Metro-North is ordered to identify appropriate modifications to its existing automatic train control system or other signal systems to enable adequate advance warning of and adherence to such speed restrictions. These modifications will help prevent another over-the-speed-limit event if a locomotive engineer fails to take actions to appropriately slow or stop a passenger train.
In the meantime, Metro-North is ordered to operate trains with two qualified train crew members in the controlling locomotive cab or passenger car control compartment at the locations where speed limits change by 20 mph or more until the signal work at these locations is complete. Additionally, the railroad must submit to the FRA for approval an Action Plan that ensures the safety of its operations for passengers and employees by December 31. The plan must contain target dates and milestones for implementing necessary signal system modifications.
“Last year was the safest on record for our nation’s rail industry,” said FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “Even with a 43percent decline in train accidents nation-wide over the past decade, we must remain steadfast and vigilant to ensure passengers and employees are safe. The public deserves better and our mission is to drive continuous safety improvement.”
The EO is a mandatory directive to the railroad, and failure to comply with its requirements will result in enforcement actions against the railroad or individuals who violate it. Today’s EO follows a letter issued by the FRA earlier this week calling on Metro-North to launch a safety stand-down with all employees and to fully implement the confidential close call reporting system, which has helped improve rail safety on other lines.
The Federal Railroad Administration had already increased its oversight and enforcement of Metro-North’s rail lines following the May 2013 crash, including additional inspections of its lines and audits of Metro-North’s operations and compliance with federal regulations. FRA is also planning to conduct an extensive investigation of the carrier’s safety compliance with all regulated railroad safety disciplines.
(John Krattinger, Bernie Wagenblast - posted 12/07)
MARC PENN LINE WEEKEND SERVICE BEGINS TOMORROW:
Starting on December 7, 2013, weekend service will start on the Penn Line. Complete schedules are available below. The fares will be the same as weekday service ($7 Baltimore-Washington, $6 BWI-Washington, $5, Odenton-Washington) and weekly and monthly passes will be honored.
There will be 9 round trips on Saturday and 6 on Sunday.
There will be 9 round trips on Saturday and 6 on Sunday.
(MTA, Alex Mayes - posted 12/06)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN HOLIDAY OPERATIONS:
Norfolk Southern plans to begin curtailing most operations for the Christmas Holiday beginning at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, December 24, with resumption of normal operations by 7:00 AM Thursday, December 26. Local train operations (pickup and delivery) during this period will be based on prearranged customer requirements.
In observance of the New Year Holiday, Norfolk Southern will again curtail operations beginning at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, December 31, with resumption of normal operations by 7:00 AM Thursday, January 2. Local train operations (pickup and delivery) during this period will be based on prearranged customer requirements.
For both holiday periods, interline gateways will remain open for traffic delivered from connecting carriers. Critical road operations, such as passenger service, and intermodal & unit train operations where customer operations are continuing through the period, will continue.
(NS - posted 12/06)
UPDATE ON SOME OF THE FORMER B&O CPL SIGNALS IN MARYLAND:
On CSX's Philadelphia Subdivision, as of November 30, CPL signals were still standing and in use at West and East Aiken. However, most of the replacement signals are up at these two locations. Also, CPL signals are still standng and in use at Leslie, Eder, and East SIngerly.
No replacement signalsare evident at this time.
As of December 5 new signals are in operation at Belcamp, Stepney, Aberdeen, Osbourne:
CPL signals have been taken down at these locations.
(Alex Koehler, Stephen Panopoulos posted 12/05)
INCREASED FREIGHT TRAFFIC FOR NOVEMBER:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for November 2013 over November 2012. Intermodal traffic in November totaled 1,007,549 containers and trailers, up 7.8 percent (73,004 units) compared with November 2012. The weekly average of 251,887 intermodal containers and trailers per week in November 2013 was the highest weekly average for any November in history. Carloads originated in November 2013 totaled 1,145,353, up 1.3 percent (14,931 carloads) compared with the same month last year.
Eleven of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in November over the same month last year. Commodities with the biggest carload increases last month included grain, up 20.6 percent or 15,685 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, up 20.0 percent or 9,691 carloads; and motor vehicle and parts, up 10.8 percent or 6,826 carloads.
Commodity categories with carload declines last month included coal, down 4.3 percent or 20,057 carloads from November 2012, and metallic ores, down 10.1 percent or 2,982 carloads.
Excluding coal, U.S. carloads were up 5.3 percent, or 34,988 carloads, in November 2013 compared with November 2012. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads were up 3.3 percent, or 19,303 carloads, in November.
“U.S. rail traffic in November 2013 saw a big decline in coal carloads that was more than offset by gains in carloads of grain and petroleum products,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Carload traffic continues to be consistent with an economy that’s growing at a moderate pace. Meanwhile, rail intermodal volume was extremely strong in November, demonstrating the tremendous value that intermodal has become for rail customers.”
AAR today also reported decreased rail traffic for the week ending November 30, 2013, which included Thanksgiving this year but was a non-holiday week in 2012. U.S. railroads originated 255,628 carloads last week, down 16.3 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 207,888 units, down 13.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 30 was 463,516 carloads and intermodal units, down 15.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Even with the Thanksgiving holiday this year, two of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2012: petroleum and petroleum products, up 7.2 percent; and grain, up 5.2 percent.
For the first 48 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,529,500 carloads, down 0.5 percent (66,806 carloads) from the same point last year, and 11,872,914 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent (493,534 units) from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 48 weeks of 2013 was 25,402,414 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.7 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 79,716 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 55,627 intermodal units, up 11.8 percent, compared with the same week in 2012. For the first 48 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,800,144 carloads, up 2.4 percent from the same point last year, and 2,593,561 intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 15,718 carloads for the week, up 4.0 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,012 intermodal units, down 6.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 48 weeks of 2013 is 731,695 carloads, up 6.5 percent from the same point last year, and 483,117 intermodal units, down 0.4 percent.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 48 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 18,061,339 carloads, up 0.4 percent, compared with the same point last year, and 14,949,592 trailers and containers, up 4.2 percent, compared with last year.
(AAR - posted 12/05)
MTA METRO-NORTH RAILROAD ANNOUNCES FULL HUDSON LINE SERVICE THURSDAY:
Crews from Metro-North Railroad have completed the reconstruction of a second Hudson Line track in the area of Sunday’s derailment, allowing resumption of full service Thursday morning.
The work, including new ties, ballast, running rails, third rails and signal system, was completed in mid-afternoon and it was inspected by the Sperry Rail Car, which uses ultrasonic technology.
“I want to thank our customers for their patience during the railroad’s recovery from this most tragic accident,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut. “And I want to thank the dedicated men and women of Metro-North who worked long and hard to achieve this reconstruction.”
A full AM peak service will be provided on the Hudson Line Thursday. The three trains that did not run on Wednesday morning will be restored to the schedule.
Reconstruction of Track 4, the most seriously damaged, will continue for the remainder of the week.
Ridership on the Hudson Line was about 25% below the normal AM peak on Wednesday, possibly as some customers diverted to the Harlem Line. The railroad expects customers to return on Thursday.
(MTA - posted 12/04)
MORE DETAILS RELEASES ON LAST SUNDAY'S DEADLY TRAIN WRECK:
NTSB investigators believe that engineer William Rockefeller, who was at the
controls of the illfated Metro-North Railroad train in the Bronx last Sunday, may have dozed off for a few moments. The train was travelling at 82 MPH as the train entered a 30 MPH curve. As the train began to jolt, the engineer then awoke. By the time he began to apply the brakes the train was derailing. The derailment resulted in four deaths and numerous injuries.
(Alex Mayes - posted 12/03)
SIEMENS AND CUMMINS TEAM UP TO PROVIDED EPA TIER 4 COMPLIENT LOCOMOTIVES:
Today, Siemens Rail Systems and Cummins announced a partnership that will bring one of the most modern and efficient passenger rail, diesel electric locomotives in the world to the U.S. marketplace. Cummins QSK95 diesel engines will be used in Siemens' diesel electric locomotives in the U.S., resulting in one of the most energy-efficient, lightweight, smart, diesel electric locomotives available today in North America.
Leveraging Siemens proven rail technology, these locomotives will be designed and built specifically for today's new train passenger, providing a smoother, more reliable and more energy-efficient riding experience. The state-of-the-art locomotives will also deploy a new engine aftertreatment system that will deliver a cleaner ride with better air quality and reduced emission rates. Importantly, these smarter, lighter trains are being developed with passenger and crew safety top-of-mind.
"Today's announcement acknowledges a new type of diesel-electric offering, one that is built with the passenger in mind," explained Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rail Systems in the U.S. "Our goal is to provide high ride-quality with smooth, safe and efficient performance -- for both the locomotive engineers and the passengers-- with cost savings for the operators and maintainers," he continued.
"Our engines are the perfect answer for today's diesel electric needs: they're more efficient, lighter and cleaner than engines of this output in the past," said Ed Pence, Vice President and General Manager - Cummins High-Horsepower Engine Business. "We believe that our high-speed QSK95 engines will not just bring cleaner operation, but will achieve higher performance and lower operating costs than any system utilizing traditional medium speed powered locomotives," Pence further explained.
The diesel-electric locomotive is uniquely designed, based on Siemens' global rail expertise with input from U.S. passenger rail operators. This new rail equipment can help operators achieve cost savings, while improving reliability and efficiency for its passenger rail service. The lighter weight of these locomotives ensures the ability to safely operate the locomotives at speeds of up to 125 mph more efficiently, requiring less maintenance.
To further boost American manufacturing through investment in rail, the locomotives will be built and assembled at Siemens' solar-powered transportation manufacturing facility in Sacramento, California. Siemens has also established a robust and diverse base of U.S. rail suppliers representing all sizes of business across the country that can be leveraged as part of the development of future passenger rail locomotives.
Cummins diesel QSK95 engines will be made in Seymour, Indiana. The 95-liter prime mover is the most powerful high-speed 16-cylinder diesel to be installed in a locomotive generating more than 4000-hp (2983 kW). The first QSK95-powered freight locomotive, with Siemens AC traction equipment and traction control, will begin commercial service operation in a field test with the Indiana Rail Road Company (INRD) in mid-2014 as the first heavy-hauler repower QSK95 installation and is ready to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 ultra-low emissions regulations.
Siemens is already a leading provider of diesel electric locomotives. In the U.S., Siemens has been successfully transferring technology and building America's next era of high-performance, energy -efficient transportation solutions for decades, most recently building electric locomotives for Amtrak's heavily-traveled Northeast and Keystone Corridors - with components sourced from 60 suppliers in 23 states across the country.
(Siemens - posted 12/03)
GOV. PATRICK ANNOUNCES LATE NIGHT T SERVICE:
Governor Deval Patrick announced today that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will launch late-night bus, subway and light rail service beginning next spring.
“A vibrant economy demands a public transit system that caters to the residents, students and tourists it serves,” said Governor Patrick. “Extending service on weekend evenings will allow the public to enjoy the many attractions and restaurants the region has to offer and give workers a more cost-effective option for getting home late at night.”
The one-year pilot program is in response to feedback received from members of the public and the business community encouraging the MBTA to offer late-night service as a way to boost the region’s economy and provide affordable transportation options to employees working late evening shifts.
Beginning next year, service on all subway lines, light rail and the 15 key bus routes will run until 2:30 am on Friday and Saturdays. Service will not be extended on the commuter rail or ferry.
“Our customers are clamoring for more service and this is one thing we can do to help meet that demand,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “My hope is that this will be a popular option for enough customers that we can institute it permanently in the future. This is another example of the Governor’s commitment to growing our economy.”
"Late-night service is an idea whose time has come,” said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. “As Boston continues to grow and develop into an even more vibrant city, we are pleased to announce this pilot program that will help us address Boston's evolving transportation needs."
Late-night service will be subsidized by financial sponsorships from The Boston Globe and other business groups to be named in the coming weeks. Service is expected to cost an estimated $20 million annually (not accounting for offsetting fares or sponsorships). During the pilot program, fares will remain at the same level as those during regular service. In the future, it may be possible to adjust fare prices during the later hours.
As the first Platinum Sponsor of the service, the Globe will contribute $500,000 in cash and in-kind contributions.
(MBTA - posted 12/03)
METRO-NORTH DERAILMENT UPDATE<
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating yesterday's deadly Metro-North derailment in the Bronx, N.Y.
NTSB Board Member Earl Weener said 2 Metro North event recorders from derailed train were read out at NTSB lab
Preliminary info from event recorders shows train was traveling at approx 82 mph as it entered the 30 mph curve.There were 9 station stops prior to the derailment. We are not aware of any prior issues with the brakes.
The NTSB does not know the initiating event for the throttle going to idle or the brake pressure dropping to 0 psi.
Approximately five seconds before the engine came to a stop, pressure in the brake pipe dropped from 120 psi to 0 - which resulted in max braking
Approximately 6 seconds before the rear engine came to a stop, the throttle went to idle.
The engineer's cell phone has been recovered and as part of our routine process, we will obtain the data from the forensic examination
The NTSB will interview the engineer today and that, and other 3 crew interviews, will continue over the next few days
The rail cars and locomotive will be moved to a secure location for a more detailed examination over the next few days
NTSB has released all tracks back to Metro North
(NTSB - posted 12/02)
METRO-NORTH DERAILMENT WILL DELAY CSX FREIGHT SERVICE:
The tragic derailment of a Metro North commuter train yesterday in the Bronx, N.Y., will affect certain freight shipments on the Hudson Line, east of the Hudson River. Metro North has informed CSX that it will be at least through Wednesday before freight shipments can be accepted over that line.
CSX is reviewing contingencies and discussing alternate plans with customers. Freight shipments on the Hudson Line could be delayed 24-48 hours. Shipments on the River Line, west of the Hudson River, are not affected.
(CSX - posted 12/02)
NEW AMTRAK STATION IN NORFOLK, VIRGINIA:
Today Amtrak opened a new station in Norfolk, Virginia. At a ribbon cutting ceremony, Norfolk Myor Paul D. Fraim stated
“With modern, comfortable amenities, the new train station will greatly improve the passenger experience while serving as an identifiable landmark for those arriving to and departing from Norfolk.”
( posted 12/02)
METRO-NORTH DERAILMENT ON THE HUDSON LINE:
At 7:20 am this morning a Metro North Hudson Line train derailed 100 feet north of the Spuyten Duyvil station. All seven passenger cars and dual mode 225 derailed. CNN reports that four people have died, while 40 others were injured.. All Metro North and Amtrak Empire route trains have been annulled. More details as they become available.
ADDITIONAL CN SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS:
CN has announced a special program to acquire additional monitoring equipment to enhance its strong technological base for early detection of defects.
Jim Vena, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "We're stepping up our inspection and detection capabilities. We've had a major push in recent years to increase the number and quality of track, wheel and bearings inspections that help prevent accidents. This has positioned us well in the rail industry. With this program, we intend to go further when it comes to safe rail operations."
At a cost of C$10 million, the program will include the acquisition/installation of:
CN has more wayside detection technology than any other railway in North America and has increased that capability by 30 per cent over the past five years. CN has also increased the frequency of its ultrasonic rail flaw inspection by 70 per cent over the past five years.
Vena said: "The application of new detection equipment and modern safety technologies will improve the coverage of our network. The technology we're deploying will keep us ahead of the industry in this field and strengthen our solid safety performance even further. Advanced technology, rigorous safety process and the continued strengthening of our safety culture are the key foundations of our unwavering commitment to safety.
"Our safety focus is producing solid results. CN's main-track accidents declined by more than 50 per cent between 2002 and 2012, a year in which CN recorded the fewest such accidents in its history. That's a good performance but we know we can, and have to do better still."
- posted 11/29)
Thirty new Wayside Equipment System units that detect hot bearings, hot wheels and dragging equipment;
A new track geometry test car to monitor the position, curvature and alignment of track;
An optical track inspection system that uses imaging to identify defects;
More than 30 new brittle bar detectors that identify and flag derailed equipment to train crews,
Controlled signaling on certain key rail sidings in our most heavily used corridors to alert crews and dispatchers to broken rail incidents.
WILLARD RESIDENTS ALLOWED TO RETURN HOME:
Fire Chief Joe Reiderman today lifted the evacuation and allowed most residents to return to their homes following a derailment late Tuesday night. Most residents were given the all-clear at 3:00 p.m. after significant progress in clearing the CSX Transportation derailment, which spilled approximately 13,000 gallons of styrene monomer, a flammable product used in the production of plastics and rubber.
"On this Thanksgiving Day, when we remember our blessings, it gives me great pleasure to tell our neighbors that it's safe to return to their homes," Chief Reiderman said. "I want to thank our community for its support and patience in this difficult process."
Rusty Orben, director-public affairs for CSX, echoed Chief Reiderman's praise. "All of us at CSX thank this community and its first responders for their incredible patience and cooperation this week. CSX pledges to continue to remain on site, helping people re-enter their homes safely."
A small number of homes closest to the derailment and product spill will remain off limits as the cleanup continues, Chief Reiderman said. Those families will continue to be housed at area hotels and their lodging, meals and other needs taken care of by CSX as they have been since the derailment. CSX also offered residents air monitoring in their homes if they had any concerns. Monitoring in the area has consistently showed the air to be safe, despite a minor odor. However, precautions are being taken with the homes closest to the immediate derailment site.
At the Willard High School, which has also served as the Community Outreach Center, CSX provided a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings from 1-4 p.m. City and CSX representatives were available there to help residents get back to their homes and to answer any questions.
Meanwhile, overnight operations resulted in the re-railing of the four derailed rail cars, which will open up the area for additional cleanup being done in coordination with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The rail cars derailed during switching operations, and a CSX investigation is under way to determine the cause.
Clean-up work will continue for the next several days, and the Community Outreach Center will remain open at least through the weekend.(CSX
- posted 11/28)
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 23, 2013, with 296,581 total carloads, up 17.4 percent compared with the same week last year, which was Thanksgiving week in 2012. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 267,759 trailers and containers, up 37.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 564,340 carloads and intermodal units, up 26.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
All 10 of the carload commodity groups tracked by AAR on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, led by motor vehicles and parts with 18,075 carloads, up 42.2 percent and nonmetallic minerals and products with 34,048 carloads, up 40.3 percent.
For the first 47 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,273,872 carloads, down 0.1 percent from the same point last year, and 11,665,026 intermodal units, up 4.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 47 weeks of 2013 was 24,938,898 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.1 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 81,723 carloads for the week, up 5.6 percent, and 54,540 intermodal units, up 7.9 percent compared with the same week in 2012. For the first 47 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,720,428 carloads, up 2.4 percent from the same point last year, and 2,537,934 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 14,894 carloads for the week, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,143 intermodal units, down 13.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 47 weeks of 2013 was 715,977 carloads, up 6.5 percent from the same point last year, and 473,105 intermodal units, down 0.2 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the 47 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 17,710,277 carloads, up 0.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 14,676,065 intermodal trailers and containers, up 4.5 percent compared with last year.
- posted 11/27)
MONTREAL'S NEW METRO CARS:
A consortium composed of Bombardier Transportation and Alstom Transport, together with the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), unveiled Montreal's new metro cars. The first nine-car train was presented to the Government of Quebec, the City of Montreal and other high-profile guests at a celebration of this important moment at Bombardier's La Pocatière plant.
The consortium is completing trials on the prototype train at the La Pocatière plant and expects to ship the cars to Montreal in early 2014, where it will begin qualification testing, with the STM, at metro facilities.
The event gave guests the opportunity to tour one of the metro cars with the 600 employees looking on proudly. On behalf of the Bombardier-Alstom consortium, Raymond Bachant, President, Bombardier Transportation, North America, emphasized the calibre of the partnership that has made the project a success. “Bombardier and Alstom would like to salute the professionalism, expertise and excellent collaboration provided by our partner, the Société de transport de Montréal,” he said. “These advanced new metro cars will provide STM passengers with the reliable, comfortable and rapid service that a major city like Montreal deserves.”
"When the metro was inaugurated over 40 years ago, the City of Montreal in a way entered the modern era. With today's new metro cars, we are clearly in the 21st century. Montrealers will be the primary beneficiaries of a more comfortable and powerful metro, one that makes travel more enjoyable and promotes increased ridership. The metro is vital to Montreal's development. The new cars will soon be an added asset for the city, even as we await the system's extension eastward.", stated Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre,
According to STM Chairman Michel Labrecque, "This has to be one of the most beautiful trains in the word! We're anxious to get it to Montreal, so we can start the testing process, which will take place over a period of approximately eight months. These cars will certainly be in service for 50 years. They will enable us to not only increase the reliability and quality of services offered to passengers, but also boost ridership in the metro, which currently stands at 900,000 trips per day."
After the ceremony, some guests headed toward the new test track at the La Pocatière plant, where Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre took the train's controls for a run at standard operating speed, commenting on the power and gentle ride of the new cars.
The STM has ordered 468 of the new-generation cars, with deliveries expected to continue until 2018. They include a series of features that will offer passengers greater comfort, a greater sense of safety, better access, and optimal performance. These features include:
More than 150 Canadian suppliers, some of whom are long-standing Quebec companies, are participating in the project, whose Canadian content exceeds 60%.
( Bombardier Transportation, Alex Mayes
- posted 11/26)
Panoramic windows and indirect lighting, for greater visual comfort
Communicating passageways throughout the nine-car train
Doors that are 27% larger, to ensure passenger flow
Optimized air suspension to deliver a more cushioned ride
8% more passenger capacity
State-of-the-art information and safety systems
AMTRAK'S CRESCENT DERAILS IN SOUTH CAROLINA.
Train 20, the Amtrak Crescent, operating from New Orleans to New York, derailed at about 12 midnight ET this morning, near Spartanburg, S.C. There were no serious injuries reported by the 207 passengers or 11 train crew members, when seven of the nine cars on the train lost contact with the track. All of the cars remained upright, as did the two locomotives.
Heat, lighting and other systems were quickly reestablished aboard the train, with meals and other refreshments provided to the passengers. Amtrak chartered buses to carry the passengers to their destinations.
Train 20, which left New Orleans on Sunday morning and was due in New York City this afternoon, is annulled at the location. Passengers at Train 20’s scheduled stops between Spartanburg and New York are being provided alternate transportation on other Amtrak trains or chartered buses.
The cause of the incident will be investigated by Amtrak and Norfolk Southern, which owns, controls, maintains and dispatches this portion of the Crescent’s route, and the Federal Railroad Administration.
(Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/25)
FRA CELEBRATES OPENING OF A NEW RAILROAD BRIDGE:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo today participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new railroad bridge that will eliminate the last chokepoint along the line between Jefferson City and St. Louis. The $28 million project received $22.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program and was the largest ARRA project in the state of Missouri. Administrator Szabo joined Missouri Department of Transportation Director Dave Nichols, officials from Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad and other dignitaries at the event.
“Railroads play a key role in our ability to move both people and goods, a need that will only increase in the coming decades,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The Obama Administration is committed to working with transportation leaders like Governor Nixon and Senator McCaskill, to make sure the nation’s rail system is efficient, reliable and supportive of economic growth.”
The new Union Pacific Railroad bridge spanning the Osage River will reduce delays for more than 600 passengers traveling on Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner and the 60 freight trains that currently operate over the 283-mile Kansas City to St. Louis Corridor each day. On the old bridge, passenger and freight trains would often have to wait until a train coming from the opposite direction cleared.
With the addition of the new 1,200-foot structure, located just east of Jefferson City in Osage County, the rail corridor between St. Louis and Jefferson City now consists entirely of two mainline tracks that will allow Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains to pass through the area unimpeded. As a result, the region’s four Missouri River Runner trains will see faster, more reliable service.
“This new railroad bridge is yet another strategic investment in our rail infrastructure that will allow for higher performing passenger rail – while also laying a foundation to invest in faster, more frequent, and even more reliable service,” said Administrator Szabo. “It also advances the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative – a vision Missouri shares with eight other states to connect the Midwest’s 40 largest cities with high-performance passenger rail.”
(FRA, Alex Mayes - posted 11/25)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN SUPPORTS RESTORATION OF HISTORIC LOCOMOTIVE THROUGH SALE OF ROTHKO PAINTING:
In a fortunate intersection of the worlds of fine art and railroading, Norfolk Southern has sold a well-known abstract expressionist painting and will use a portion of the proceeds to help fund the restoration and long-term maintenance of another American treasure, the Class J No. 611 steam passenger locomotive.
NS Chairman and CEO Wick Moorman said NS sold its untitled 1959 Mark Rothko painting through an auction in New York City on Nov. 14 and will direct $1.5 million of the proceeds to "Fire Up 611!," the capital campaign to rehab the famous Norfolk & Western Railway streamliner and return it to passenger excursion service.
"No. 611 is an American classic, a reflection of a time and a people who put the country on their backs and carried it into to the modern age of railroading," Moorman said. "611 is not an NS, N&W, Virginia, or Roanoke locomotive. It belongs to everyone and every generation. In that spirit, and on behalf of NS employees everywhere, I announce our strong support for bringing back a true national marvel."
"People from 15 countries have contributed their time and resources to bring back the 'Queen of Steam,'" said Bev Fitzpatrick, executive director of 611's owner, the Virginia Museum of Transportation (VMT) in Roanoke, Va. "NS' generous and timely support gives us the best opportunity to reach the $5 million needed to put this icon back on the rails and keep her moving for decades."
611 rolled out of N&W's Roanoke shops in 1950 and with sister Class A and Y6 locomotives constituted the "Magnificent Three" that pulled passenger and heavy freight trains during the last two decades of steam railroading in the U.S. Class J locomotives such as 611 could pull 15 cars at 110 mph, and their builders once promoted the advanced engineering by showing how several men, with nothing more than a rope, could pull one on the track. 611 was retired in 1959, restored for excursion service in 1984, and retired again in 1994. Since then, 611 has been on display at VMT.
The 611 plan contemplates making it available for service in NS' 21st Century Steam program in 2014. In this program, several vintage steam locomotives from NS' past give people throughout the railroad system opportunities to ride behind the marvelous, powerful locomotives of old, while learning how today's railroads create jobs, support the economy, save fuel, protect the environment, and keep America competitive.
"With railroads as the backbone of the country's transportation system – today as during 611's time – we all can look forward to the brightest days of America's future," said NS President Jim Squires. "611 represents not just past glory but infinite possibilities for the future."
Rothko (1903-1970) was a Latvian emigre who became one of the U.S.' most famous post-World War II artists. He resisted having his works labeled, but art critics said he wanted people to have spiritual experiences when viewing them.
NS' signed Rothko painting was created in 1959. The "oil on paper laid down on canvas" image measures 29-1/2 by 21-1/2 inches and features amorphous forms that float on top of each other, "…wonderfully capable of moving the viewer to extreme states of feeling…" according to Sotheby's, the auction house.
NS bought the painting in 1996. It was part of the railroad's collection of public area visual art and historical artifacts safeguarded throughout the history of the corporation, including train models, tools, clocks, safety and service awards, and maps. Some pieces – including the Rothko -- have been loaned to museums in the U.S. and abroad for exhibitions.
(NS, Randy Kotuby, Alex Mayes - posted 11/22)
FLORIDA EAST COAST ANNOUCNES ANNUAL TOYS FOR TOTS TRAIN:
The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) is pleased to announce its sponsorship of the 2013 Toys for Tots Christmas Train operating between Jacksonville and Miami on Saturday, December 14, 2013.
FEC's Christmas Train offers its employees, their families, customers, and suppliers an opportunity to contribute to the Toys for Tots program in the communities along the east coast of Florida. This has become a favored tradition of FEC employees in support of the communities where they live.
In coordination with Toys for Tots, a contribution of toys will be delivered to representatives in eight Florida cities by Santa who will be on-board on the Christmas Train. Representatives of the United States Marine Corps will be on hand at each stop to receive the donated toys and distribute them to needy children in the local communities.
The Christmas Train will stop at the railroad crossings at the locations listed below.
(Florida East Coast Railway posted 11/22)
Jacksonville: Mussels Acres Road-West at 7:10 AM
St. Augustine: San Sebastian View Crossing-East at 8:10 AM
New Smyrna Beach: Canal St.-East at 10:05 AM
City Point (Cocoa): Beau Geste Crossing-East at 11:40 AM
Fort Pierce: Orange Avenue Crossing-West at 1:25 PM
West Palm Beach: 36th Street Crossing-East at 2:55 PM
Ft. Lauderdale SW 17th Street Crossing-West at 4:20 PM
North Miami: NE 87th Street Crossing-West at 5:10 PM
SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY REACHES MAJOR MILESTONES:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced today that the Second Avenue Subway project, the largest expansion of the New York City subway network in generations, has reached major new milestones in its on-time, on-budget progress to serve customers on Manhattan’s East Side by the end of 2016. All blasting operations for Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway Project are complete and heavy construction to excavate and create the 96th St station reached substantial completion November 5.
The final blast, which completed excavation for a future escalator entrance located on the north side of 86th Street and 2nd Avenue, took place at 5:21pm on Monday, November 18, 2013.
“This is a significant milestone, and one which I am sure will be welcomed by all of our Second Avenue community neighbors,” said Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction. “We are committed to continuing the progress on this project, which will be an enormous benefit to the entire community.”
The contractor Skanska/Traylor Joint Venture will continue to install waterproofing and steel reinforcement to complete the concreting of the underground cavern, entrances, and ancillaries for the future 86th Street Station. The follow-on finishes contract, which will complete the mezzanine and platforms, station entrances, ancillary buildings, and the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems for the station was awarded to Schiavone/Picone Joint Venture on June 12, 2013.
The controlled blasting operations began with the first blast at 96th St. on November 4, 2009, and were employed in the construction of all of the cavern excavations for underground structures for the subway stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets. The 63rd St. Station is being reconstructed to connect the Second Avenue Subway into the existing Lexington Av-63 St Station. Work at that site involved excavation, muck removal, and reconstruction of the structural elements within the existing station, for future extension of the Q Line.
In addition, the Site and Heavy Civil work for the 96th Street Station of the Second Avenue Subway was completed November 5. The contract, valued at $365,724,479, was awarded in May 2009 to a joint venture of E.E. Cruz and Company and Tully Construction Company Joint Venture. This is the third contract out of ten to be completed for Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway project.
This heavy civil/structural work involved utility relocation, demolition of existing buildings, underpinning, slurry wall construction, station excavation, and concrete placement of the station invert slab of the main station, entrances, and ancillary facilities. Due to geological conditions, the cut and cover excavation method was used, followed by the transport and disposal of approximately 400,000 tons of soil and 40,000 tons of rock/concrete debris which was equivalent to 22,000 trucks of material taken to various disposal facilities in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The utility work associated with this contract included relocation of approximately 82,000 linear feet of Con Edison primary and secondary electric cables, approximately 4,500 linear feet of Verizon fiber optic cables, extensive relocation of low and high pressure Con Ed gas mains, and relocation and/or protection of existing New York City water and sewer mains.
“The completion of this contract was a monumental accomplishment,” Horodniceanu said. “It could not have been done without the hard work and dedication of a very motivated team.”
The $4.45 billion project to extend the Q Line along Second Avenue is the largest expansion of the subway system in generations. The subway line, with new stations at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street, is expected to open for service in December 2016.
(MTA- posted 11/22)
THE CENTENNIAL HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOW AT GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL:
Toshiba Corporation flipped the switch on the new
Centennial Holiday Light Show
in Grand Central Terminal's Main Concourse today. The colorful animated display can be seen on the monumental windows above the Terminal's west balcony through December 26, 2013.
In partnership with MTA Metro-North Railroad and Grand Central, Toshiba has created a state-of-the-art light show that transforms the 118 separate window panes into individual "pixels" of light. The show will evolve throughout the season with a Thanksgiving version running through November 28, followed by a winter holiday-themed show through December 26. Both shows will feature thematically relevant colorful, shape-shifting designs.
(Business Wire, Gary Kazin - posted 11/21)
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
Toshiba Corporation flipped the switch on the new
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 16, 2013 with 295,563 total U.S. carloads, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 266,643 units, up 7.0 percent compared with the same week last year, and up for the 20th straight week in a row. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 562,206 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including grain with 24,104 carloads, up 23.5 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products with 15,123 carloads, up 21.6 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included coal with 113,334 carloads, down 5.0 percent.
For the first 46 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,977,291 carloads, down 0.5 percent from the same point last year, and 11,397,267 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 46 weeks of 2013 was 24,374,558 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 82,153 carloads for the week, up 4.4 percent, and 56,608 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week in 2012. For the first 46 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,638,705 carloads, up 2.3 percent from the same point last year, and 2,483,394 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 15,680 carloads for the week, up 3.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,135 intermodal units, down 11.0 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 46 weeks of 2013 was 701,083 carloads, up 6.6 percent from the same point last year, and 463,962 intermodal units, up 0.1 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the 46 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 17,317,079 carloads, up 0.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 14,344,623 intermodal trailers and containers, up 4.0 percent compared with last year.
(AAR - posted 11/21)
FREIGHT RAIL INDUSTRY URGES RETROFIT OR PHASE OUT OF 92,000 TANK CARS MOVING FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to press for improved federal tank car regulations by requiring all tank cars used to transport flammable liquids to be retrofitted or phased out, and new cars built to more stringent standards. AAR said in comments filed with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that the safety upgrades it is recommending will substantially decrease the likelihood of a release if a tank car is involved in an accident.
The AAR estimates that roughly 92,000 tank cars are currently moving flammable liquids, with approximately 78,000 of those requiring retrofit or phase out based on its proposal. Another 14,000 newer tank cars that today comply with the latest industry safety standards will also require certain retrofit modifications under AAR’s proposal. The tank cars affected by the AAR’s recommended safety enhancements include those used to transport crude oil and ethanol.
“We believe it’s time for a thorough review of the U.S. tank car fleet that moves flammable liquids, particularly considering the recent increase in crude oil traffic,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Our goal is to ensure that what we move, and how we move it, is done as safely as possible.”
The AAR is recommending that PHMSA consider the following when determining what federal safety standard improvements should be required for tank cars moving flammable liquids:
“Freight railroads understand the rail supply marketplace is seeing an increased demand for tank cars needed to move more flammable liquids, such as crude and ethanol,” Hamberger said. “We believe our suggested approach to improving tank car safety allows railroads to continue to serve their customers, while taking rail tank car safety to the next level. We look forward to working with PHMSA, rail customers and the rail supply community as this rulemaking process moves ahead.”
(AAR - posted 11/20)
increase federal tank car design standards for new cars to include an outer steel jacket around the tank car and thermal protection, full-height head shields and high-flow capacity pressure relief valves;
require additional safety upgrades to those tank cars built since October 2011, when the rail industry instituted its latest design standards that today exceed federal requirements, including installation of high-flow-capacity relief valves and design modifications to prevent bottom outlets from opening in the case of an accident;
aggressively phase out older-model tank cars used to move flammable liquids that are not retrofitted to meet new federal requirements.
eliminate the current option for rail shippers to classify a flammable liquid with a flash point between 100 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit as a combustible liquid.
KINGSPORT SANTA TRAIN WILL OPERATE THIS SATURDAY OVER THE FORMER CLINCHFIELD RAILROAD:
The 71st annual Kingsport Chamber of Commerce Santa Train will operate this Saturday, November 21; from Shelby, Kentucky to Kingsport, Tennessee via CSX's former Clinchfield Railroad. The train will traverse 110 miles through Appalachia, making numerous stops en route. The train will feature CSX passenger equipment, from front-to-read, as follows:
This year's train schedule will be as follows:
The Kentucky (CSXT No. 363): A power car, the 363 was built about 1950 by Pullman-Standard as a dining car. A CSXT predecessor, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, acquired the car and rebuilt it as an electrical power car about 1980. Recently outfitted with new diesel generators and control equipment, the car contains four office car-quality staterooms and a small lounge.
The Youngstown (CSXT No. 11):. Built in 1954 by Pullman for the Erie Railroad as a five double-bedroom/10 roomette sleeper, this crew car was named the Spirit of Youngstown. Its original assignment was along a route from Youngstown, Ohio, to Chicago and back the next day. A similar sleeper car called the Pride of Youngstown was delivered at the same time. Names for the two sleepers were selected after a week-long contest held by the Youngstown Chamber of Commerce. The Youngstown was conveyed to Conrail on April 1, 1976, numbered CR 11.
The Waycross: Built by Pullman in 1926 as a private car and owned by W.R. Kenan, president of Florida East Coast Railway, it was purchased by the C&O in 1943 and later included in the track geometry train for road inspections. After the creation of CSX, it was renamed Washington and used for events in Washington’s Union Terminal. In 2008, CSX refurbished the car to three one-bedroom suites and it was then named Waycross.
The New York (CSXT No. 10): Originally a 1925 Pullman-built parlor observation car with drawing room created for service on New York Central’s Empire State Express, this dining car was renamed the Hudson River and served the Empire State Express in the early 1930s. The large rear platform was constructed to accommodate President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wheelchair. It was renamed Kalamazoo River in 1942 and served the Twilight Limited, then renamed Victoria Park in 1947 and used in special service. In 1952, it was converted to track inspection car No. 30 and renumbered 76 by Penn Central in 1976. The car was part of the funeral train for slain presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. Changed to No. 10 by Conrail in 1977, the New York is now part of CSXT’s fleet.
The Greenbrier (CSXT No. 319): The company built this car as a coach for the Illinois Central Railroad about 1915-1920. Around 1971, a private party acquired it and used it as a roadside cafe. CSXT predecessor Seaboard Coast Line acquired the car about 1985. The car was completely rebuilt at CSXT’s Waycross Shops and is now a dining car with table seating for 24 and lounge seating for 12.
The Tennessee (CSXT No. 325): Built in 1957 by Pullman as a 52-seat coach and originally named Southerner, the car was used in excursion services prior to being acquired by CSX in March 2008. The interior was remodeled by Waycross Coach Shop and the West Jacksonville Shop to simulate a previously owned L&N car (No. 3001), and it now is used as a cafe/lounge/dining car.
The Ohio (CSXT No. 994500):
Built by Budd in 1948 as a diner/theater car with seating for 52, the Ohio was the dining section of a twin-unit diner set that coupled with a lunch counter/kitchen/crew car for the (built, but never operated) “Chessie” daylight streamliner planned to operate between Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati. CSX purchased the car in 2008 and Waycross Coach Shop refurbished this diner, which CSX renamed and numbered.
The Michigan (CSXT No. 12): Built as a parlor car for the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1951 by Budd, it was transferred to Penn Central in 1968. In 1980, it was converted to a meeting room/boardroom car. It is now a dining car.
The Illinois (CSXT No. 350): This former CSXT 350 was built by St. Louis Car in 1953. During its lifetime, it has served as an Operation Lifesaver car, Chessie Steam Special car, dormitory car for the West Virginia Railroad Maintenance Authority and as a U.S. Army Ambulance Unit Car.
The West Virginia (CSXT No. 310): This is Santa’s car. Built as an Army hospital car in 1953 by the St. Louis Car Co., the 310 has a small lounge, two roomette-style sleeping rooms and a large, open room. For all but two days a year, the West Virginia serves as a conference/reception car. The weekend before Thanksgiving, the West Virginia is transformed into Santa’s “sleigh.”
Shelby: 6:30 a.m. train departure
Marrowbone: 6:45 a.m. train arrival; 7 a.m. train departure
Elkhorn City: 7:25 a.m. train arrival; 7:45 a.m. train departure
Toms Bottom: 8:05 a.m. train arrival; 8:15 a.m. train departure
Haysi: 8:27 a.m. train arrival; 8:42 a.m. train departure
Clinchco: 9 a.m. train arrival; 9:15 a.m. train departure
Fremont: 9:28 a.m. train arrival; 9:53 a.m. train departure
Dante: 10:28 a.m. train arrival; 10:48 a.m. train departure
St. Paul: 11:08 a.m. train arrival; 11:28 a.m. train departure
Dungannon: 12:13 p.m. train arrival; 12:33 p.m. train departure
Fort Blackmore: 12:53 p.m. train arrival; 1:08 p.m. train departure
Kermit: 1:48 p.m. train arrival; 2:18 p.m. train departure
Waycross: 2:30 p.m. train arrival,; 2:45 p.m. train departure
(Kingsport Times News - posted 11/18)
Kingsport: 3:08 p.m. train arrival
GOVERNOR, BPW APPROVE PURPLE LINE P3
Governor Martin O’Malley and members of the Board of Public Works (BPW) have approved the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) plan to deliver the Purple Line through a Public Private Partnership (P3). Board members also approved the MTA’s proposed competitive solicitation method for selecting a private concessionaire to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the east-west light rail line.
The BPW’s approval of a P3 delivery method for this project means that a single private partner will be responsible for designing, constructing, operating and maintaining the project, as well as providing up to $900 million in private financing. The innovative project delivery method differs from a typical project in which the state separately bids for the design and construction of the transit line and then operates the system, such as Light Rail in Baltimore. This P3 approach is known as a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM). Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown led the Administration’s efforts to successfully pass legislation this past session that establishes a framework for P3 solicitations.
“The Department of Transportation presented a solid plan to bring private sector funding, innovation and best practices to this regionally important transit line,” said Governor O’Malley. “Thanks to the leadership of Lt. Governor Brown and today’s unanimous vote by my fellow board members, we are sending a clear signal to private industry leaders throughout the world that Maryland is open for business and welcomes their ideas and ingenuity as we build a 21st century transportation network to support and grow our economy.”
“Building the Purple Line is critical to strengthening Maryland's infrastructure, creating jobs and expanding our economy,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “I'm proud that our efforts to establish a new process for public-private partnerships have allowed the Purple Line to move forward. This project will create 2,600 well paying jobs, improve transportation in the Washington, D.C. region and help attract new residents and businesses to Prince George's and Montgomery counties.”
The Purple Line is a 16-mile light rail line that runs east-west inside the Capital Beltway between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County with direct connections to Metrorail’s Orange Line, Green Line and two branches of the Red Line, and to MARC’s Brunswick, Camden and Penn Lines. A total of 21 stations are planned. The total project cost is $2.2 billion, with the private sector expected to invest between $500 and $900 million. A combination of federal, state and local monies also will be used to fund the project. Thanks to the passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, Governor O’Malley added $711 million in state funds for design and construction of the Purple Line to MTA’s six-year capital budget (FY 2014 – FY 2019).
“The size and scope of the Purple Line make it well suited to this innovative delivery method,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, Jr. “I can assure you that the Department of Transportation will continue to play a very prominent role in the construction, operation and maintenance of this key rail line, and we will remain engaged with local communities to ensure that all state goals, responsibilities and commitments are fulfilled. After all, our name will be on the train.”
The private partnership will manage a team of primarily local workers and contractors to ensure successful delivery of the project, bringing creativity and efficiency. By having the contractor who builds it also responsible for long-term operations and maintenance, the contractor has greater incentive to manage risks and design a project that is well operated and maintained over the long term.
In return for operating, maintaining, refurbishing / replacing equipment and financing a portion of construction for the Purple Line, the MTA will pay the contractor annual availability payments throughout the 30- to 40-year contract period. Deductions will be made from the payments if the contractor does not meet pre-determined performance targets, such as on-time performance, vehicle cleanliness and customer service. The MTA will continue to set fares and collect the fare revenue.
The Purple Line solicitation includes provisions to realize economic benefits for Marylanders, including goals for participation in construction, operations and maintenance by Disadvantaged Businesses Enterprises; encouragement to purchase equipment manufactured in the United States; agreements to assure labor peace; and encouragement to provide wages and benefits that compare with existing operations in Maryland.
With the vote by BPW members to approve the competitive solicitation process for selecting a private partner, MTA will be able to issue a Request for Qualifications in the next few weeks, select the short list of qualified proposers by the end of 2013 and announce a preferred partner by fall 2014. Following selection of a preferred partner, MTA will recommend the final agreement to the BPW in late 2014 / early 2015. Construction could begin in spring 2015. More information on the project and competitive solicitation process can be found at
(Maryland Transit Administration
- posted 11/18)
PATRICK ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES FALL RIVER AND NEW BEDFORD RAIL IMPROVEMENTS:
The Patrick Administration has announced the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is beginning construction to rehabilitate the Fall River and New Bedford railroad lines, a necessary step toward providing South Coast Rail service.
Thousands of rail ties and spikes will be installed along 33 miles of right-of-way leading to Fall River and New Bedford beginning this fall and continuing until winter weather freezes the rail bed. Work will resume in spring 2014.
“South Coast residents deserve the benefits of a reliable and convenient connection to Boston and points in between,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “This work is another step in a methodical, comprehensive process that will move South Coast Rail forward.”
“These track improvements are critical in building the foundation necessary to bring long-awaited passenger train service to the South Coast,” said Secretary Davey. “South Coast Rail represents economic opportunity and smart growth for the cities of New Bedford, Fall River, and Taunton.”
“The upgrades strengthen the track to provide safer operations for current freight service while getting the corridor ready for the complete rehabilitation required to provide higher speed passenger service,” said South Coast Rail Project Manager Jean Fox.
A total of approximately 42,000 rail ties and thousands of spikes will be installed along the 14 miles of track leading to Fall River and 19 miles of track leading to New Bedford. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased the rail lines from CSX Transportation in order to provide access for future South Coast Rail service.
Other investments and milestones supporting South Coast Rail to date include:
Visit the South Coast Rail website to learn more about the project:
(Massachusetts Department of Transportation
- posted 11/15)
Rebuilding of three New Bedford rail bridges, funded by a $20 million federal TIGER grant.
Announcement by Governor Deval Patrick in September that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the South Coast Rail project, and MassDOT adopted the Corps’ document as the state-required Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), with the Stoughton rail alternative as the preferred route.
South Coast Rail Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan technical assistance grants and other investments provided to assist the 31 corridor communities in preparing for passenger rail through sustainable development and appropriate land use.
HALF-HOURLY WEEKERND SERVICE ON THE PORT WASHINGTON BRANCH:
MTA Long Island Rail Road President Helena E. Williams today was joined by officials representing the North Shore to encourage Port Washington Branch customers to take advantage of the restoration of half-hourly weekend service between Port Washington and Penn Station starting Saturday, November 16.
To meet demand for more frequent weekend service on the busy Port Washington branch, the LIRR is adding 32 trains to the Saturday and Sunday schedules for a branch that serves the North Shore of Nassau County with stations at Great Neck, Manhasset, Plandome and Port Washington and the northern Queens stations: Flushing-Main St., Murray Hill, Broadway, Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston.
“The MTA is committed to improving train service whenever possible and one of our priorities in Queens and on Nassau County’s North Shore has been to find a way to increase LIRR Port Washington Branch service to a level that meets customer demand,” said MTA Chairman & CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “With the restoration last year of off-peak half-hourly service on weekdays and, beginning tomorrow, 30 minutes on the weekend, we are meeting that goal.”
LIRR President Williams said: “These trains are being added to the schedule just in time for the holiday season, so it will be much more convenient to travel into the city for shopping, sightseeing and entertainment. When we increase frequency of service, our ridership goes up. We know Port Washington customers have been asking for this. We have heard them and we are responding with this restoration of more weekend service.”
The additional weekend trains will bring the Port Washington Branch back to the level of service it enjoyed before September 2010, when half-hourly service during off-peak hours and on weekends was reduced to hourly service as part of a larger MTA initiative to close a $900 million budget gap. The restoration of 30 minute service during off-peak hours on weekdays was accomplished in 2012.
Williams outlined the Port Washington Branch improvements at a press conference at the LIRR’s Port Washington Station along with State Senator Jack Martins and Nassau County Legislator Wayne H. Wink, Jr.
State Senator Jack M. Martins said: “The Port Washington community was disproportionately affected by the MTA’s service cuts three years ago. Weekday half hour service was restored last year. I am glad to see that the Long Island Rail Road continues to listen and has now restored half hour service on the weekends.”
North Hempstead Town Supervisor-Elect Judi Bosworth said: “It is important for the LIRR to make public transportation more convenient and accessible for our residents. Restoring half-hourly train service from Port Washington gives our residents more options, enhancing our quality of life here in North Hempstead. In addition, more trains should also attract more riders, reducing the number of cars on our roads, which helps our environment – a win-win for all of us.”
For additional information passengers can pick up a copy of the latest Port Washington Branch timetables at their station or any LIRR terminal or accessing the timetable on the LIRR’s website at
Passengers can also get assistance from LIRR's Customer Service Center by calling 511, the New York State Travel Information Line, and say: Long Island Rail Road.
- posted 11/15)
PROJECT 113 PRESENTS DOUBLE-HEADED SANTA STEAM TRAIN RIDES:
Santa Claus steam train rides will be held on Saturday, November 30 at Minersville, Pa. They will be sponsored by Project 113 in conjunction with the Reading and Northern Railroad. Both Reading and Northern 425 and Jersey Central 113 will be under steam. Price for adults is $12.00 and children $9.00. With each paying adult fare, one child’s ticket will be complementary. Trains will depart at 11.00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm and seating is limited. Reservations for advanced sale tickets are strongly suggested. Only a limited
number of tickets will be sold on the day of the event. Further information may be obtained by contacting the Minersville station at 570-544-8300, Santa will be on the train. There will be seven or eight cars on the train, and the rides are one hour and 10 minutes each. To order a ticket, send a SASE for $12.00 for adults (as above) with the time of the trip that you want to ride to: Mr. Bob Kimmel, Project 113 (make check payable to Project 113), 113 E. Sunbury Street, Minersville, Pa. 17954. Tickets may also be purchased by calling Project 113 at 570-544-8300. Advanced ticket purchases recommended. Tickets sold on a first come first serve basis. Seating not assigned. Remaining tickets will be sold the day of the trips at the railroad .
(Project 113, Sheila Dorr, Alex Mayes - posted 11/14)
METRO-NORTH COMPLETES MAJOR TRACK IMPROVEMENTS IN THE BRONX AND WILL RELEASE NEW SCHEDULES THIS SUNDAY:
MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that it will complete a major track improvement project in the Bronx this weekend that will improve reliability with all four tracks in the area back in service for the first time since the intensive upgrade began July 1.
In addition to the return of all four tracks to service in a six-mile stretch from Woodlawn to Melrose, track speed will be increased by 15 miles per hour to 75 mile per hours on three of the four tracks in the area for the first time in five years.
Since the summer, railroad forces have:
“This intensive focus on track improvements is critical to the safe and reliable operation of the railroad,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut. “The complete rebuilding of this section of track is a major milestone in our ongoing effort to improve track conditions systemwide.”
“I want to thank our customers for their patience during the past six months as we expedited this extraordinary and essential track work,” Permut said. “We recognize the impact it has had on the railroad’s ability to provide reliable, on-time service. Metro-North’s goal is always to minimize delays even though track capacity was reduced by up to 50% during the recent work. With the completion of this major project, customers should notice improvements in the service.”
This weekend, workers will be removing bridgeplates at Fordham, Botanical Garden, Williams Bridge and Woodlawn stations, which have been in use when the inbound and outbound local tracks were out of service for work and which cause slow loading and unloading at these stations. (To reach trains stopped on the inside or express tracks, bridgeplates span the track next to the platform and allow access to the trains.)
New timetables that go into effect on Sunday, November 17, reflect this progress, including shorter running times for trains to and from New Haven on both weekdays and weekends.
On the Harlem Line, there are minor adjustments to some weekday trains but no changes to weekend service.
There are no changes to the Hudson Line schedule.
Busing continues weekdays and weekends for Melrose and Tremont stations while right-of-way improvements continue for an additional two miles from Melrose south to the Harlem River Lift Bridge. Additional track work also is underway elsewhere on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines. This extended work last through the end of the year, with minimal impact to service expected.
On the Danbury Branch, a new signal system will provide a better, safer, more reliable operation and enables schedule improvements to weekday reverse peak and off peak service with the addition of three new shuttle trains making round trips between Danbury and South Norwalk.
The addition of six trains a day by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, a 27% increase, is the largest increase in Danbury Branch service since Metro-North’s inception in 1983.
Customers are advised to pick up a new timetable, available at outlying stations and in Grand Central Terminal or view one at mta.info
(MTA - posted 11/14)
Removed 5,381 concrete tie
Installed 6,610 new wood ties
Installed 2,350 tons of new stone ballas
Trenched 6,350 feet of the right-of-way shoulder or between tracks to improve
Installed new rail on various curves
Welded rail joints and installed new insulated joints
Excavated and removed 4,702 cubic yards of mud created by poor drainage along the tracks
Removed a significant amount of debris, garbage and graffiti on railroad property
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased weekly rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 9, 2013 with 297,581 total U.S. carloads, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 265,259 units, up 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and up for the 19th straight week in a row. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 562,840 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including petroleum and petroleum products with 14,400 carloads, up 25.0 percent; grain with 23,744 carloads, up 21.3 percent; and motor vehicles and parts with 19,341, up 20.5 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included coal with 114,084 carloads, down 0.6 percent.
For the first 45 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,681,728 carloads, down 0.5 percent from the same point last year, and 11,130,624 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 45 weeks of 2013 was 23,812,352 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 85,187 carloads for the week, up 11.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 56,266 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent compared with 2012. For the first 45 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,556,552 carloads, up 2.3 percent from the same point last year, and 2,426,786 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 15,432 carloads for the week, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,513 intermodal units, down 7.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 45 weeks of 2013 was 685,403 carloads, up 6.7 percent from the same point last year, and 453,827 intermodal units, up 0.3 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the 45 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,923,683 carloads, up 0.3 percent compared with the same point last year, and 14,011,237 intermodal trailers and containers, up 4.0 percent compared with last year.
(AAR- posted 11/14)
PM 1225 BACK IN SERVICE:
Steam Railroading Institute
is excited to
announce the return of the historic Pere Marquette 1225 Locomotive to the
rails in time for the Holiday Season. This Famous Steam engines image and
sounds were used to create the train which appears in the Warner Brothers
Christmas classic, The Polar Express. The 1225 has been undergoing her 15
year federally mandated rebuild since the end of 2009. This rebuild, paid for
by donations from all over the world, has taken 4 years and
The Pere Marquette 1225 is a 4-8-2 Berkshire locomotive built by the Lima
Corporation for the Pere Marquette Railroad in 1941. She stands 16 feet tall
and is 101 feet long with a combined engine and tender, and weighs 400
tons. The 2-4-8 classification refers to the wheel arrangement of the
locomotive. It has a two wheel pony truck up front to guide the 8 larger
wheels into curves and a 4-wheel trailing truck to support the weight of the
boilers massive fire box. This grand locomotive produces 3000 horsepower
and has pulled as many as 60 freight cars between Michigan factories and
northern Indiana steel mills to support the war effort.
This massive locomotive holds 22 tons of coal and 22,000 gallons of water,
using one ton of coal for every 12 miles it travels. This is one reason steam
locomotives began to be replaced in the 1940’s with the more economical
diesel engines. The 1225 was retired in 1951 and was saved from the scrap
heap by Michigan State University who was seeking a static display piece as
a tribute to the steam-era.
In 1969 engineering students from MSU set out to restore the locomotive to
operating condition. It seems the young men collected and operated model
trains. Football players from the university chided the engineering students
and challenged them to forgo their models to restore the massive locomotive
sitting idle on campus. The challenge was accepted and the restoration
process began. It was a much more daunting task than was first imagined.
The students formed the non-profit, Michigan State Trust for Railway
Preservation (MSTRP), to continue the task of restoration. Eventually the
locomotive was moved to the former Ann Arbor Railroad’s Steam shop in
Owosso Michigan. The 1225’s restoration was completed in 1988, making it
the largest operating steam locomotive in Michigan.
Now the Pere Marquette 1225 resides at the Steam Railroading Institute in
Owosso Michigan. As part of the MSTRP, an entire steam-era museum has
been built around this historic locomotive. Personalized tours ($5), provided
by our knowledgeable volunteers, help visitors learn about the history of
steam power as well as the story behind the many fine examples of vintage
rolling stock on site. Train enthusiasts can ride the 7 1/2 inch gage train, or
purchase memorabilia from the gift shop as well as take advantage of the
many excursions offered by the Steam Railroading Institute, including Fall
Color Tours and a holiday excursion which features the 1225 recreating her
role in the Polar Express movie. The North Pole Express, which takes
Passengers to the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas transports riders to a
late 1940’s Christmas Village, offering live entertainment, music, food,
games, shopping, elves, reindeer, horse drawn wagon rides and of course an
appearance by Santa who will give away the first present of Christmas (just
like in the movie). Anyone interested in knowing more about the 1225 or the
Steam Railroading Institute, its museum, excursions or programs can call
989-725-9464 between 10am and 4pm Wednesday through Sunday, or visit
for more information.
( posted 11/13)
CSX AND GE TRANSPORTATION TO PILOT LIQUEFIELD NATURAL GAS LOCOMOTIVES:
CSX Corporation and GE Transportation, a division of GE,
today announced an agreement to explore emissions-cutting and efficiency breakthroughs in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) technology for locomotives beginning with a pilot program in 2014.
"LNG technology has the potential to offer one of the most significant developments in railroading since the transition from steam to diesel in the 1950s," said Oscar Munoz, executive vice president and chief operating officer, CSX Corporation. "That change took many years to complete and began with a lot of unknowns, and this one is no different. But aggressively exploring this technology is consistent with CSX's focus on tomorrow, its longstanding commitment to efficient and environmentally friendly transportation, and its role in helping to promote U.S. energy independence. GE Transportation has the know-how to provide the right LNG solution for our locomotive fleet and help us better understand the feasibility of LNG technology from a safety, operations and economic perspective."
Natural gas-fueled locomotives can travel longer distances without refueling stops, as well as provide environmental and economic benefits. Adoption of natural gas-fueled locomotives will make freight rail an even more attractive transportation solution and furthers the industry's ability to absorb traffic from the nation's highways in an environmentally efficient way.
"Locomotives are at an inflection point in balancing engine performance with efficiency and adherence to emissions standards," said Russell Stokes, chief executive officer, GE Transportation. "As we enter a new era of energy sources and what's possible for rail transport, we are excited to partner with CSX and lead the LNG transformation for the industry."
GE has been testing low-pressure natural gas technology since spring of 2013, and is working closely with CSX and other Class 1 partners. Field tests are expected to begin in 2014. GE's NextFuel™ kits allow railroads to use natural gas as a fuel source, reducing emissions and potentially reducing fuel costs while not compromising performance. An Evolution Series locomotive equipped with the NextFuel Natural Gas Retrofit Kit meets US EPA Tier 3 emission standards.
CSX will be working over the next few months to develop a test plan and secure regulatory concurrence. For CSX, GE Transportation will deploy its new NextFuel™ Natural Gas Retrofit Kits that enable existing Evolution Series locomotives to operate with dual fuel capabilities. CSX and GE will also work on the continued development of LNG technology for other classes of locomotives to promote gains across a larger portion of the CSX locomotive fleet, and will work closely with key stakeholders and agencies across government to ensure safety, realize environmental and other benefits, and advance LNG deployment.
(CSX, Randy Kotuby, Alex Mayes - posted 11/13)
SOME FORMER B&0 CPL SIGNALS STILL IN USE IN MARYLAND:
An update on some of the former B&O CPL signals in Maryland.
As of Nov. 9, 2013:
CSX Capital Subdivision:
Greenbelt and Cherry Lane: CPL signals are still in use. No replacements are evident.
Savage: Two double mast CPL signals still in use. Replacements are up.
CSX Philly Subdivision -
CPL's still in use. Replacements are standing.
CSX Baltimore Terminal Subdivision
Last signal bridge in Baltimore City with B&O CPL's still standing at Ridgely street and in use. Replacement signals are up.
CSX Bailey's wye near stadiums - CPL signals are still in use. New signal bridge toward west end, new signals on north end.
CSX Locust Point Branch -
Leadenhall Street -
New signals are up. CPL signals are still in use.
Two dwarf signals in use at Holibird Ave (near Canton RR). No replacements are in place. (Uncertain if these are Canton's or CSX.)
The days are numbered for many of these classic signals!
(Alex Koehler, Stephen Panopoulos
- posted 11/13)
East/ West Aiken
MTA RELEASES 2014-2017 FINANCIAL PLAN:
Passengers riding Amtrak trains between Chicago and Milwaukee or St. Louis will have an Cost-Containment Cuts Projected Fare and Toll Increases by Almost Half; Budget Growth Held to Less Than 2%; MTA Invests in Future as Financial Risks Remain
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today released its Final Proposed 2014 Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan. The plan includes the addition of new cost reduction measures and recognizes favorable operating results and tax revenue re-estimates that have taken place since the preliminary budget was released in July. The MTA expects that the combination of increased cost cutting, lower expenses and higher operating revenues will allow the agency to reduce by almost half the previously projected fare and toll increases scheduled for 2015 and 2017.
Increasing Success in MTA Cost Savings Initiatives:
The plan released today limits the growth of expenses in 2014 to 1.96%, in line with the rate of inflation. The MTA’s improved cost containment will allow the MTA to increase savings goals by $200 million per year by 2017 from initiatives such as further administrative consolidations, workers compensation efficiencies, energy efficiencies and additional efficiencies in procurement and inventory control. Many MTA expenses have been on long-term growth trajectories well in excess of the rate of inflation. They include employee health and welfare costs, pensions, paratransit operations, and debt service. In this plan, the MTA continues to restrain the growth of these costs.
“We try to keep costs down in order to minimize the financial burden on our customers, and as this financial plan shows, we are succeeding in that effort,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Our customers want value, which is quality and quantity of service, and that service has to be reliable and safe. Through this financial plan, that’s what we work to provide.”
Fare Increases Reduced by Almost Half::
As a result of improved MTA cost cutting and increased tax and operational revenue, the MTA anticipates that the previously announced 2015 and 2017 fare and toll increases would be designed to yield an increase of 4%. This amount is almost half of the 7.5% yields that had been previously projected.
Funding Included for Service Increases, Increased Support for the Capital Program and Under-Funded Pension and Health Care Liabilities:
The plan provides $18 million in funding for service investments proposed last July, $11.5 million in increased service to meet loading and headway guidelines, and $11 million in additional customer enhancements. Service improvements include:
The plan increases the annual “pay-as-you-go” funding for the MTA Capital Program by an additional $40 million a year on top of the $80 million increase included in the July Plan, for a total of $370 million a year beginning in 2015. This will serve as a “down payment” for the 2015-2019 Capital Program, potentially providing as much as $6.5 billion of funding.
Prudent additional investments are being made to pay down unfunded pension and health and welfare liabilities. The plan captures the $80 million investment that was made this year to reduce the LIRR’s unfunded pension liability, and makes additional investments beginning this year to further reduce the MTA’s unfunded pension liabilities. Because every dollar invested in the unfunded pension obligation results in a 7% return every year, these investments will result in annual recurring savings that grow to over $22 million by the end of the four year plan period, with increased savings thereafter.
The plan also increases the contributions to fund “Other Post-Employment Benefits” (OPEB), primarily healthcare costs for current and future retirees. The MTA has an unfunded liability of $17.8 billion, and the New York State Comptroller has strongly encouraged governments and authorities to recognize these expenses and to set aside funds in trust to meet this obligation. Based upon the projected contributions during the Plan Period, the amount held in the MTA’s OPEB Trust and OPEB Reserve accounts is expected to exceed $1.1 billion by 2017.
The finances of the MTA are highly dependent on the health of the regional economy; despite an improved outlook, economic significant risks remain. The plan also assumes that labor agreements that are currently open will be settled with three years of net-zero wage growth. The failure to achieve this desired settlement would increase costs by approximately $300 million per year going forward. To achieve net zero, wage increases may be granted if they are offset by savings from work rules or other non-wage concessions. The State’s largest unions last year agreed to contracts that include three years of zero wage increases as well as contributions towards health care benefits.
The plan also assumes that State budget actions will reflect full remittance to the MTA of all funds collected on its behalf. While the State has been successful in the face of challenges to the Payroll Mobility Tax, which benefits the MTA, any modifications to this tax could adversely affect this vital MTA revenue stream.
Using information presented today, the MTA Board will vote in December on whether to adopt the Final 2014 Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan.
- posted 11/13)
Extending the M subway line from Myrtle Avenue to Delancey Street -Essex Street on Weekend
Extending Bx24 to Hutchinson Metro Center from Westchester Square
Adding Q77 service on Sundays
Restoring Q31 on Weekends
Restructuring Staten Island express bus service to add a new “super express” service via the Lincoln Tunnel to Midtown
Restoring half-hourly LIRR weekend service on the Port Washington Branch and creating half-hourly weekend service to Ronkonkoma during high-volume weekend travel periods, which began in September
Expanding LIRR service to Greenport through Thanksgiving weekend
“GREAT DOME” CAR ON AMTRAK HIAWATHA SERVICE AND LINCOLN SERVICE TRAINS FOR THANKSGIVING WEEK:
Passengers riding Amtrak trains between Chicago and Milwaukee or St. Louis will have an opportunity this Thanksgiving Week to view the change of seasons when the historic “Great Dome” rail car is part of selected Amtrak Hiawatha Service and Lincoln Service trains from Nov. 25 to
With its partners at the state transportation departments in Illinois and Wisconsin, Amtrak is providing additional opportunities to ride in the special railcar due to the public response to previously announced trips this month to and from Quincy, Ill.
The car features an upper level with windows on all sides to provide passengers with panoramic views of the changing colors of the trees, farmers in their fields and the picturesque communities along the routes in the Amtrak Chicago Hub Service.
The railcar is planned to operate on these trains and these dates:
Nov. 25 & 27: Hiawatha Service Trains 329, 332, 333, 336, 337, 340 & 341< li>
Nov. 26 & 28: Hiawatha Service Trains 330, 331, 334, 335, 338, 339& 342 < li>
Nov. 29 and 30: Lincoln Service Trains 303 & 306 < li>
Dec. 1: Hiawatha Service Trains 331, 334, 335, 338, 339 & 342
While there is no additional charge for riding the Amtrak trains during this period and seating in the Great Dome car is unreserved, the Thanksgiving season is the busiest for Amtrak travel and trains often sell-out. Reservations are required for the Lincoln Service trains. (Amtrak
- posted 11/13)
NORTH CAROLINA DOT LAUNCHES NEW RAIL WEBSITE:
Traveling by train in North Carolina? Today, the N.C. Department of Transportation launched
, a new website that makes it easier than ever to experience North Carolina by rail.
“This website helps us better accommodate the growing number of people choosing to travel by train in North Carolina, and make their experience better and more convenient than ever before,” said Rail Division Director Paul Worley.
The new site offers a navigable one stop shop for buying train tickets, checking the status of a train or locating a station. The site also features the latest news about the Rail Division, information about projects to improve rail service, and details about safety initiatives.
The site launch comes at a time when more people than ever are taking the train. North Carolina's state-supported Piedmont and Carolinian trains continue to be among the most rapidly growing in the Amtrak system, setting new ridership and revenue records in Federal Fiscal Year 2013. To keep up with increasing demand, the NCDOT Rail Division is currently investing $520 million through the Piedmont Improvement Program to expand and improve the state-owned rail corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte for freight and passenger trains and add two additional daily round trips of the Piedmont Service.
(NCDOT - posted 11/12)
ALL ABOARD! NATIONAL WWII MUSEUM OPENS NEW TRAIN EXHIBIT:
This Veterans Day,
The National WWII Museum
debuts its latest immersive exhibit that unfolds on a stationary train modeled after the iconic Pullman sleeper cars of the 1940s, allowing guests to experience the sights, sounds and emotions of going off to war.
The Train Car Experience is housed in the Museum's Louisiana Memorial Pavilion and re-creates the wartime departures of America's service men and women, who embarked on journeys that would change their lives. For most, it was an unforgettable moment of goodbye.
"The train took our fighting forces away from their loved ones and sent them to war," said Dr. Gordon H. "Nick" Mueller, President and CEO of The National WWII Museum. "Situated near the Museum's entrance, this new exhibit will give our guests a feel for these poignant leave-takings that occurred in every corner of the country. It is the perfect start to a visit with The National WWII Museum."
In the five-minute experience, up to 26 guests enter the train platform while videos show vintage photographs, historic headlines and archival film footage depicting the Axis' rise to power and their threat to democracy. Upon boarding the train, guests hear the sound of the train roaring to life as video stretched across train windows simulates a train pulling out of the station. The view transforms into landscapes from all corners of the nation. Big Band and other 1940s music plays, and visitors watch a vintage scrapbook that opens to reveal the colorful personal stories of service men and women.
During the war, America's trains were the primary means of moving service men and women across the country – taking them to basic training, advanced training and finally to deployment. Trains also carried them back for leave time. Between December 1941 and June of 1945, American railroads provided 44 million rides to service men and women – totaling nearly three trips for each of the 16 million people in uniform.
"I'd just made 18 years old and I'd never been further than 20 miles from New Orleans when I found myself on a train going all the way to San Francisco. My mother, girlfriend and sisters saw me off. I was more excited than scared at that point," said WWII veteran and Museum volunteer Forrest Villarubia. A Marine who served in the Pacific, Villarubia also returned home on a train. "The picture I have in my head is coming over the Mississippi River Bridge. I went outside to look at the city, and was overwhelmed that I had made it back to New Orleans. To be honest, I did not expect to come home."
The National WWII Museum Train Car Experience was made possible through a gift from The Bobby and Lori Kent Savoie family in honor of Lori's father, Leroy Wayne "Pete" Kent, a World War II veteran. Pete Kent joined the Navy in 1943, two weeks after graduating high school. He was selected to participate in the V-12 program at Rice University, part of a national effort to supplement the force of commissioned officers in the US Navy during World War II.
"Like so many World War II Veterans, Pete Kent was a simple, honest and decent man. On this special day we gather to honor and thank him for his service to our country," said Bobby Savoie, a former member of the Museum's Board of Trustees. "It is the hope of our families that this Train Car Experience will allow current and future generations to understand, in some small way, how it felt for these young men and women to leave everything they knew and loved to go off to a foreign land and face the hell of war, in the hope that no future generations will ever again face such a choice."
The National WWII Museum is proud to partner with Union Pacific Railroad for the Grand Opening of The Train Car Experience. This great American company played an essential role during World War II as rail systems transported members of all branches of service, military equipment and other supplies essential to the war effort.
(Randy Kotuby - posted 11/11)
NEW JERSEY OPERATION TOY TRAIN 2013:
The Morristown & Erie Railway takes great pride in announcing that for the fifth straight year, it will partner with the Military Transport Association, the Volunteer Railroaders Association, NJ Transit Rail Operations, the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway, the Middletown & New Jersey Railroad, Norfolk Southern Corporation, and the United States Marine Corps for
Operation Toy Train 2013
This year’s train will operate December 7th on the NYS&W Southern Division, December 8th on the M&NJ Hudson Secondary and Walden Branch, and December 14th on the M&E High Bridge and Dover & Rockaway Branches. A special new addition this year will have the train on display for the entire day on December 15th at Kuiken Brothers Company of Succasunna, NJ, along the M&E Chester Branch.
Operation Toy Train 2012 collected over 16,000 toys for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program, which distributes the toys to less fortunate children in local communities during the holiday season
( posted 11/08)
NTSB FINDS PARADE FLOAT ACCIDENT THAT KILLED FOUR VETERANS CAUSED BY LACK OF ADVANCE SAFETY PLANNING:
A fatal accident in which a freight train struck a parade float in Texas last November was caused by the failure of both the city and the parade organizer to address the risks associated with routing a parade through an active grade crossing, the National Transportation Safety Board said today.
"This terrible collision between a fast-moving freight train and a slow-rolling parade float of veterans and their loved ones should never have occurred," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "Parade and event organizers must identify and manage hazards in advance to ensure a safe outcome for participants and spectators."
At about 4:35 p.m. CT on November 15, 2012, a truck-tractor flatbed trailer combination unit being used as a parade float as part of a procession honoring wounded veterans approached a section of the parade route that traversed an active highway-railroad grade crossing in Midland, Texas. The float, which carried 12 veterans and their spouses and was escorted by two law enforcement vehicles, entered the grade crossing after the grade-crossing warning system had activated. The float continued across the railroad tracks at an estimated speed of 5 mph.
At about the same time, an 84-car Union Pacific freight train approached the crossing from the west at a speed of 62 mph. As the front of the float crossed the tracks, the train engineer sounded the horn and placed the train into emergency braking. Seconds later, the train reached the crossing and struck the right rear section of the float.
As a result of the collision, four float passengers were killed and 11 passengers and a sheriff's deputy were injured. The two train crewmembers, the float driver, and nine other passengers were uninjured.
For 34 minutes prior to the accident, the float had traveled along the parade route with a continuous police escort, which allowed the float to proceed through red traffic signal lights at four intersections without stopping. This created what investigators called an "expectancy of safety and right of way," which the NTSB said contributed to the cause of the accident, because it led the driver to conclude that police were controlling all intersections and associated traffic hazards.
The float driver told investigators that he did not see the flashing lights of the grade-crossing warning system or detect the presence of the train until the float was on the tracks because he was looking at his side-view mirror to monitor the well-being of his float passengers as he negotiated a dip in the roadway on approach to the grade crossing.
The NTSB concluded that the noise generated by the parade, combined with the float driver's expectation of safety, likely reduced his ability to hear or properly interpret the grade crossing system warning bells and lights, as well as the train horn.
The NTSB determined that the grade crossing system provided the required 20 seconds of advance warning through warning bells, lights and gates. However, the NTSB cited as another contributing factor to the collision, the lack of visual traffic signal cues to indicate to the police officers escorting the float that an approaching train had preempted the normal highway traffic signal sequence at the intersection adjacent to the grade crossing, which would have provided as much as 10 additional seconds to warn law enforcement officers and the float driver of the approaching train.
The investigation revealed that the parade organizer, Show of Support, failed to obtain a parade permit and the city of Midland failed to enforce its ordinance by allowing the parade to take place anyway, which investigators characterized as indicative of the "lax and informal manner" by which the parade was organized, approved and executed.
Had the parade organizer and the city of Midland created and followed a safety plan that included a requirement that railroads be notified of any parade route that crossed the tracks, the railroad may have arranged to halt train traffic, restrict train speeds, or provide a flagman, any one of which would likely have prevented the accident.
As part of the investigation, the NTSB also looked at three other parade accidents occurring this year in Bangor, Maine; Edmond, Okla.; and Damascus, Va.; and determined that many communities and organizations across the U.S. don't conduct risk assessments and implement safety plans. The NTSB is calling for the development of guidelines that state and local officials can use as a resource for the safe planning and operation of parades and other special events. The NTSB is also encouraging jurisdictions across the U.S. to require written safety plans as part of the approval process for a parade or special event.
As a result of the investigation, the NTSB made a total of six recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the city of Midland, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Towns and Townships, the United States Conference of Mayors, the International City/County Management Association, the International City/County Management Association, the International Festivals and Events Association, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties.
A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause, findings, and a complete list of the safety recommendations, is available at http://go.usa.gov/WBTR. The full report will be available on the website in several weeks.
(AAR - posted 11/08)
AAR REPORTS OCTOBER AND WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC GAINS, 3Q CRUDE OIL UP YEAR OVER YEAR:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for October 2013. Intermodal traffic in October totaled 1,317,601 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent (84,120 units) compared with October 2012. The weekly average of 263,520 intermodal units in October 2013 was the highest weekly average for any month in history. Carloads originated in October totaled 1,443,609, up 1.5 percent or 21,059 carloads compared with the same month last year. This represents the highest year-over-year percentage total carload increase in the last 22 months, although rail traffic in late October 2012 was impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Fifteen of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in October 2013 compared with October 2012. Commodities with the largest monthly carload increases included grain, up 9,450 carloads or 9.3 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, up 8,426 carloads or 14.2 percent, and crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 7,664 carloads or 7.2 percent. Commodity categories with carload declines last month included coal, down 30,428 carloads or 5.4 percent compared with October 2012, and farm products excluding grain, down 3,738 carloads, or 46.2 percent.
Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads in October 2013 were up 5.6 percent, or 42,037 carloads.
“There’s been some concern lately that the recovery may be running out of steam. Rail traffic data for October doesn’t seem to support that,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “A number of economically sensitive commodities, like lumber, autos, and chemicals, saw higher traffic volumes in October. The sharp increase in grain carloadings is a welcome change and points to the cooperative relationship railroads have established with their partners in the agricultural community.”
AAR today also reported that U.S. Class I railroads originated 93,312 carloads of crude oil in the third quarter of 2013 (3Q), up 44.3 percent over the 64,658 carloads originated in 3Q 2012, but down 14.1 percent from the 108,605 carloads originated in the second quarter of 2013.
AAR today also reported increased rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 2, 2013. U.S. railroads originated 292,398 carloads last week, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 264,264 units, up 17.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. rail traffic last week was 556,662 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Rail traffic in the comparable week of 2012 was affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including nonmetallic minerals and products, up 18.6 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 15.9 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 12.6 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic compared with the same week last year included farm and food products, excluding grain, down 3.3 percent; and coal, down 1.2 percent.
For the first 44 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,384,147 carloads, down 0.7 percent from the same point last year, and 10,865,365 intermodal units, up 4.0 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 44 weeks of 2013 was 23,249,512 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 83,000 carloads for the week, up 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 54,867 intermodal units, up 8.3 percent compared with the same week in 2012. For the first 44 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,471,365 carloads, up 2.1 percent, and 2,370,520 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent from the same period last year.
Mexican railroads reported 14,281 carloads for the week, down 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 8,928 intermodal units, down 15.0 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 44 weeks of 2013 is 669,971 carloads, up 6.8 percent from the same point last year, and 444,314 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 44 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,525,483 carloads, up 0.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,680,199 trailers and containers, up 3.9 percent compared with last year.
- posted 11/07)
AMTRAK NAMES GERALD SOKOL, JR.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER :
Amtrak has named Gerald Sokol, Jr., as the company’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). He will report directly to Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman effective Dec. 3.
As CFO, Sokol will be responsible for corporate finance, business forecasting and development of growth strategies to help secure the long-term viability of America’s Railroad®.
“Jerry’s talent and experiences are valuable assets that will further improve the Amtrak financial performance with the goal of strengthening our bottom line,” said Boardman.
“Over the past several months I have had the opportunity to look at the strength of the Amtrak brand, the growth in Amtrak's various lines of business, the talented management team, and Mr. Boardman's strategic plan, and found myself drawn to this opportunity,” stated Sokol. “Amtrak is comprised of dedicated employees with many strategic opportunities before them which, when executed successfully, will enhance our national rail system for the benefit of the American people,” he added.
Since mid-2011, Sokol served as President and CEO of Vertis Corporation, a $1.2 billion revenue direct mail and newspaper insert printing company, and he was Vertis’ Chief Financial Officer during 2010. His prior work experience encompassed several leadership roles at AOL including: Executive Vice President AOL Access Finance, Operations and Strategy (2004-2009); Executive Vice President, AOL International Finance and Operations (2002-2004); and Senior Vice President AOL International Finance and Operations (1999-2002).
He also spent three years (1997-1999) at NTN Communications, Inc., as CFO, then as President and CEO as well as Acting Chairman of the Board. He also spent several years at Tele-Communications, Inc. (1987-1996), at the time the nation’s largest cable TV company, in various positions including his final position as Vice President, Finance and Treasurer Boardman emphasized that Amtrak has made significant progress in its financial performance in recent years with record ticket revenues, covering 88 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues, cutting its debt by 60 percent and improving its credit ratings. Sokol is expected to assist in further advancing these and other financial metrics such as reducing costs, increasing revenues and efficiency, and improving the railroad’s operating ratio (Amtrak
- posted 11/06)
AMTRAK SAYS BOOK EARLY FOR THANKSGIVING TRAVEL :
Amtrak is encouraging Thanksgiving travelers to plan ahead and book their tickets early for best availability and pricing.
The holiday is the busiest travel week of the year, and to accommodate the expected surge of riders, America’s Railroad® will operate every available passenger rail car in its fleet and is scheduling extra trains and adding capacity on routes in the Northeast, Midwest and the West Coast.
In addition, special Thanksgiving Holiday Timetables are now available online for the
These expanded versions of the timetables for the first time offer day-by-day schedules to make it easier for passengers to find trains for a specific day of travel. This year is also the first Thanksgiving for the new Norfolk, Va., service.
The busiest travel days are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. Other than Thanksgiving Day, morning trains typically have more available seats than those in the afternoon and evening.
Amtrak carried a record 737,537 passengers during the 2012 Thanksgiving travel period, up 1.9 percent over the previous year and the prior record set in 2011. (Amtrak
- posted 11/04)
SEPTA'S BRIDGEPORT VIADUCT REOPENS AFTER FOUR MONTH REPAIR PROJECT:
Full train service between 69th Street Transportation Center and Norristown Transportation Center (NTC) on SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) resumes on Monday, November 11, 2013. This follows a four-month repair project that closed SEPTA's Bridgeport Viaduct - the 3,175 foot- single track bridge that carries the NHSL over the Schuylkill River between Bridgeport Station and NTC. During the project, shuttle buses replaced train service between NTC and Bridgeport.
The Viaduct closure allowed crews to complete a bridge timber and tie replacement project and perform minor structural repairs to the 102-year old bridge. Work included the replacement of all track ties, bridge timbers, track level walkway and railing system; waterproofing; and some structural repairs, including structural steel repairs to the NHSL station at NTC.
"The bridge ties that sit directly upon the steel structure and hold the rail in place were rotting and failing," said Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA's Deputy General Manager. "Without full timber replacement,, we would have had no choice but to permanently close the bridge. The completion of the project allows us to resume the safe operation of our trains across the Viaduct."
The $7.6 million project was completed by Railworks Track Systems of Sewell, NJ. "We approached this project with an aggressive schedule in order to have as little inconvenience to our passengers as possible," said Knueppel. "Our team worked 12-to-14 hour days to make sure we met our November goal."
"The well-being of our customers and employees is our top priority," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "We appreciate the patience of our riders during this fourth month closure as we worked make the Viaduct safe for travel. We also thank the Bridgeport community for their understanding during the construction period."
While the bridge timber and tie replacement allows SEPTA to maintain safe train operations between Bridgeport and NTC, an extensive rehabilitation program for the Bridgeport Viaduct structure is needed in order to bring the bridge into a state of good repair and to extend its service life by 40 years. This project includes cleaning and painting the entire Viaduct to protect against additional corrosion and making substantial structural repairs. A significant loss of capital funding over the last three years has forced SEPTA to defer major construction to the Viaduct despite designs for timber deck replacement and structural rehabilitation programs having been complete since 2011. The estimated cost of the structural repairs, painting and timber replacement is $30 million.
SEPTA had previously repaired the Viaduct twice before. In 1985, the bridge timbers, rail and power delivery system were completely replaced and the steel was painted and repaired. In 2009, the bridge piers were reinforced against scour
- posted 11/04)
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported increased weekly rail traffic for the week ending October 26, 2013 with total U.S. weekly carloads of 297,455 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 261,231 units, up 3.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and up for the 17th straight week in a row. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 558,686 combined carloads and intermodal units, up 3.4 percent compared with the same week last year.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, including grain, with 25,101 carloads, up 29.6 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products with 14,152 carloads, up 20.1 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included farm and food products, excluding grain, with 17,759 carloads, down 3.9 percent.
For the first 43 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,091,749 carloads, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year, and 10,601,101 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2013 was 22,692,850 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.3 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 77,404 carloads for the week, down 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 52,881 intermodal units, down 3.5 percent compared with 2012. For the first 43 weeks of 2013, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,388,365 carloads, up 2.0 percent from the same point last year, and 2,315,653 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 15,491 carloads for the week, up 6.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,867 intermodal units, down 2.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 43 weeks of 2013 was 655,690 carloads, up 7.0 percent from the same point last year, and 435,386 intermodal units, up 0.9 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the 43 weeks of 2013 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,135,804 carloads, up 0.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,352,140 trailers and containers, up 3.7 percent compared with last year
- posted 11/01)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN DEDICATES EXPANDED LANCASTER, PA. RAIL YARD IN HONOR OF FORMER NS VICE PRESIDENT AND STATE SENATOR H. CRAIG LEWIS:
In a private ceremony today attended by Norfolk Southern (NSC) CEO Wick Moorman, Lt. Governor Jim Cawley, State Senator Tommy Tomlinson, Drexel University President John Fry, and numerous government and business officials, family and friends, NS renamed its Dillerville Yard here in honor of H. Craig Lewis. After serving as state senator for the 6th District in Bucks County for five terms (1975-1994), Lewis joined NS as vice president corporate affairs in 1997, retiring from the railroad in 2009. He died unexpectedly earlier this year.
"Because of his experience and respect from both sides of the aisle in Harrisburg, Craig was a key part of our integration of Conrail's assets in Pennsylvania in the late 1990s," said Moorman. "He later led our passenger and transit policy team and managed many complex projects, including the sale of Conrail's Boonton Line to New Jersey Transit and the NS phase of the Lancaster Northwest Gateway Project. Craig brought energy, creativity, and humor to every initiative and was able to bring diverse perspectives together in a collaborative manner. Dedicating our yard in Lancaster in honor of Craig is a fitting tribute."
"As a state senator, Craig Lewis dedicated himself to community service and economic development," said Cawley. "That is why Norfolk Southern could not have selected a more appropriate project to dedicate to his memory."
"Craig was a fine man who honorably served his district and constituents," said Tomlinson. "I am proud to have followed his legacy in the Senate and to have called him my friend."
"Craig was a dear friend and a trusted colleague. He quickly grasped the strategic importance of the Northwest Gateway Project for the City of Lancaster, Franklin & Marshall College, and Lancaster General Health," said Fry. "He became our partner in addressing the many technical and logistical hurdles involved with making this project a reality. I am very pleased that Norfolk Southern has chosen to honor Craig for his service to their company and to this community by naming this rail facility the H. Craig Lewis Yard."
The expansion of Lewis Yard began in early 2009 following several years of studies and design and will be completed next month. The yard expansion is part of the Lancaster Northwest Gateway Project, a $75 million plan to remediate and redevelop approximately 75 acres of urban brownfields to enhance economic development opportunities in the City of Lancaster by connecting the city street grid system, creating urban green spaces, and providing campus development sites for Franklin & Marshall College and Lancaster General Health on land formerly owned by Armstrong World Industries and NS. The final segment of the Gateway Project will begin in the spring of 2014 when the railroad transfers ownership of approximately 28 acres of its yard east of Dillerville Road to Franklin & Marshall and Lancaster General. This work is expected to take 12 months to complete.
(Norfolk Southern Corporation
- posted 10/31)
CSX AND UNIONS REACH LANDMARK AGREEMENT AT HUNTINGTON SHOP:
CSX Transportation Inc. has signed a landmark agreement with four labor unions that sets new standards of quality and productivity at the company's Huntington (W.Va.) Locomotive Shop.
The agreement covers a variety of work, including locomotive rebuilds. The unions signing the agreement are the Transportation Communications Union's Carmen Division, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.
"This is an innovative contract by CSX and its union-represented employees at the Huntington facility," said Ken Mason, CSX vice president-labor relations. "This is a true win-win agreement that provides the right incentives for improved worker flexibility and the ability to drive significant improvements in quality, production and efficiency."
Jeff Doerr, president and directing general chairman of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District 19, also praised the agreement.
"This historic agreement proves that by working efficiently, railroad unions can compete with outside contractors even at higher rates of pay with superior benefits," Doerr said.
Under the agreement signed October 23, members of all four unions may perform all assigned work without regard to craft or union affiliation. Covered employees will received a $500 signing bonus, a $1 hourly efficiency differential, and guaranteed employment for the duration of the four-year agreement.
In addition, the current ratio of members of each union currently working at the Huntington Locomotive Shop will be preserved, Mason said.
(CSX, Randy Kotuby, Alex Mayes
- posted 10/31)
MAINE EASTERN RAILROAD ANNOUNCES 2014 PASSENGER TRAIN SCHEDULE:
The Maine Eastern Railroad released its 2014 passenger schedule, ticket prices, and a
summary of services today.
The lengthened 2014 operating season will feature the round-trip excursion service from
Brunswick to Rockland that the Maine Eastern has operated for ten years. However, the
2014 season also features a new connection with Amtrak’s popular Downeaster in
Brunswick, a new station stop in Newcastle, and a completely new short scenic ride
based in Wiscasset. Ticket prices have been reduced to their lowest point in the past ten
website has been completely rebuilt to
reflect these service changes and to better serve passengers.
Tickets for the 2014 season will be available online or by phone on January 1, 2014.
The Maine Eastern Railroad will also be operating a series of special excursions during
the off season. The Toys ‘n’ Turkeys Train, organized by Maine Eastern employees as a
charity drive, will be collecting toys, food, and other donations at stations along the line
on Saturday, November 16th. The Rockland Kiwanis Club’s Jingle Bell Express will
operate out of Rockland Station on December 6th & 7th, and Tri-County Literacy’s Candy
Cane Train will operate out of Bath Station on December 13th & 14th.
(Maine Eastern, Randy Kotuby
- posted 10/31)
MTA LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD UNVEILS RESTORED QUEENS VILLAGE STATION:
MTA Long Island Rail Road President Helena E. Williams and Assemblywoman Barbara Clark today unveiled the newly renovated and enhanced
Queens Village LIRR Station.
As a part of the project, workers have installed two new heavy duty elevators, one each serving the eastbound and westbound platforms. The new elevators are aesthetically integrated into the historic station building and platforms.
Workers have also repainted the entire station building and added new signage and a new fire alarm system. The platform waiting room has been rehabilitated, and numerous improvements have been made throughout the complex, including replacement of platform railings, a new shelter shed, replacement of platform lighting, bird abatement devices, drainage and erosion control, and security cameras.
“This project is part of the LIRR’s overall strategy to improve access to our stations in Southeast Queens,” Williams said. “The two new elevators will make it much easier for customers to reach the platform level for service East and West, especially those customers with mobility challenges.
“I’d like to thank Assemblywoman Clark for her advocacy and support of this project,” Williams added. “Her office was involved every step of the way and we are grateful for her involvement. The improvements we’ve been able to achieve here are a direct result of New York State’s ongoing commitment to support the MTA Capital Program. Our infrastructure needs continual reinvestment to stay in a state of good repair, and our customers here can attest to how much of an improvement they’ll experience throughout this renewed station.”
Assemblywoman Clark said: “I wish to express my gratitude to Ms. Williams and her administration for finding the means to bring a project that has been the fruit of discussions I have pursued throughout several changes in railroad administration to fruition. I believe that this upgrade will create another mass-transit option for not only those who benefit from the recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also for any individual that may have issues negotiating train platform stairs. This project will expand the vitality of the Queens Village business corridor and benefits of quality service that the LIRR provides to the 1,583 daily commuters that use this station.”
Though Queens Village has been a stop on the LIRR since 1881, the current station building was opened in 1924 in conjunction with a project that elevated this section of track above street level. The current renovations and enhancements were completed for $8.5 million.
The LIRR is also moving forward on a plan to install new elevators at the LIRR’s Flushing station. In addition, the LIRR installed a new elevator at the Rosedale Station in 2008.
- posted 10/29)
GOV. PATRICK ANNOUNCES PERMANENT SEASONAL SERVICE FOR CAPE FLYER
Governor Deval Patrick today announced that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will support annual seasonal rail service to the Cape via Cape Flyer and a $36 million investment in Cape Cod Community College for a new science building on campus. Both investments will bring growth and opportunity to the region by creating reliable summer rail service for residents and tourists alike, and better preparing students for success in the 21st century global economy. Governor Patrick made the announcements while speaking to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce at the Resort and Conference at Hyannis.
“Growth requires investment, and investments in our community college campuses and our transportation needs will help catalyze growth on the Cape and beyond,” said Governor Patrick. “If we want to expand opportunity in our Commonwealth, this is what government must do and do well.”
Following the success of the 2013 Cape Flyer weekend rail service from Boston to Hyannis, MassDOT, working with the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) will support permanent weekend service from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. In addition, MassDOT will launch a study to review the feasibility of year-round weekend service on the rail line. MassDOT will also add a Wareham stop on the line, which will be open when service resumes Memorial Day weekend. This year, ridership on the Cape Flyer through Columbus Day weekend was 16,586. Fare revenue from the line totaled more than $290,000.
"The CapeFLYER provides an excellent opportunity for people to have a convenient and relaxing ‘car-free’ trip to enjoy the beaches, restaurants, shopping and recreational opportunities that the Cape and Islands have to offer during the summer," said Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Administrator Thomas S. Cahir. "We look forward to working with the Patrick Administration and our partners to continue to provide new mobility options while reducing congestion."
- posted 10/29)
AMTRAK: STOP TAKING NEC FOR GRANTED:
The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is a national transportation asset and is aging, failure prone and lacks redundant systems to keep it operating in the event of failure, Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman told a Congressional committee today.
“We must stop taking this vital infrastructure for granted and start investing in the future of the region and the nation,” he said. “We have an infrastructure that, while safe, is vulnerable to service disruptions at virtually any time and place.”
Boardman explained that the process of aging and decaying infrastructure is gradually eroding the serviceability of the railroad as underfunding takes its toll. Lost riders and revenues are the clearest manifestation of the problem when a failure occurs.
He emphasized that funding on the required scale will have to come from a strong coalition that involves the federal government, states, other rail users of the NEC, local government and the private sector where it makes sense.
A copy of his written testimony is attached and can be
- posted 10/25)
NEEDHAM SECONDARY BRANCH RAIL TRAIL:
Newton Mayor Setti D. Warren and MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey signed a 99-year lease agreement that will clear the way for the conversion of an abandoned railroad into a multi-use path in the Upper Falls village.
The route will follow a one-mile stretch of abandoned railroad that was formerly the Needham Secondary Branch Line. The path will start at the Charles River and extend northeasterly, running parallel to Needham Street.
“This project is all about working collaboratively, thinking creatively, and finding new ways to meet the growing demand for more transportation choices,” said Secretary Davey. “Through Mayor Warren’s leadership, this blighted property will be put to active use, which will promote healthy and sustainable living.”
In the years since the line was abandoned, the land has become overgrown and has not served an active transportation purpose. Today, by signing the lease, the city of Newton is able to bring its contractor, Iron Horse Preservation Society, on board to begin the work.
"It is with great enthusiasm that we partner with the MBTA, the non-profit, Iron Horse, and the Community of Upper Falls in order to re-purpose this mile of abandoned rail line and construct a pedestrian pathway; removing a barrier and instead creating a linkage between our commercial district and residential area that will improve the quality of life for residents and employees alike,” said Mayor Warren.
The city of Newton’s contractor, Iron Horse Preservation Society, will dispose of the ties and remove the rail, which will be sold for scrap; the proceeds will go toward the installation of a rolled stone path. The entire process to convert the abandoned rail line will be done at zero cost to the city of Newton and the MBTA.
The work, which is weather dependent, will begin immediately and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
- posted 10/25)
MBTA RECEIVES FIRST HSP-46 LOCOMOTIVE:
On October 23, the MBTA received, at its Somerville, MA engine terminal, its first HSP-46 locomotive from MPI. Numbered #2001, it is the first of 40 units. The initial order for 20 had been approved by the “T’s” board of directors on July 14, 2010.
(Joe Pesaturo, MBTA
- posted 10/25)
AMTRAK EXHIBIT TRAIN TO ROLL INTO HAMLET:
Powered by a specially-painted
locomotive celebrating veterans and showcasing the past,
present and future of America’s Railroad®, the Amtrak
Exhibit Train will be open for free tours during the 31st
annual Seaboard Festival in Hamlet, N.C., on Saturday, Oct. 26.
The train will be stationed at the Hamlet Depot, 2 Main St., and open for tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can view attractions such as workable signals, virtual sleeping accommodation, a locomotive control stand and horns. On display will be photos, uniforms, vintage advertising and memorabilia from the beginning of Amtrak in 1971 to today’s modern sleeping cars and high-speed rail service. The train consists of two locomotives, three renovated baggage cars and one bistro car, all with historic paint schemes.
Exclusive Amtrak collectibles will be available for purchase including Amtrak: An American Story, an illustrated company history written by employees with chapter introductions composed by past and present Amtrak leaders. In addition, a documentary DVD explores the history of Amtrak and its importance to the nation's transportation network.
The locomotive with the Exhibit Train honors those who have served in America’s Armed Forces. Amtrak painted the locomotive red, white and blue with a specially designed “America’s Railroad Salutes Our Veterans” logo and 50 stars. It is a symbol of an Amtrak commitment of 25 percent of new hires to be veterans by 2015.
The Seaboard Festival honors Hamlet's history as a “Hub of the Seaboard.” More than 200 vendors will sell food, handmade crafts, gifts, and train themed merchandise on Main Street. Craftsmen will present live demonstrations. Dancers and other entertainers will perform live .throughout the day. Visitors will be invited to compete in the Conductor's Call Contest and the 5K run. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 visitors attend the festival each year. All proceeds from the Seaboard Festival will be donated to local charities.
The Hamlet Depot, which is served by the Silver Star, is the only Victorian Queen Anne style station in North Carolina. It was built in 1900 for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad as both a passenger station and division headquarters. The station has received the Historic Preservation Society of North Carolina’s 2005 Carraway Award for outstanding preservation work by public agencies. The station has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992.
- posted 10/25)
AMTRAK PREVIEWS NEW LONG DISTANCE PASSENGER CARS:
Production of the first units of new Amtrak long distance passenger rail cars is nearing completion and they are expected to begin field testing this winter. The cars are being built by CAF USA at its facility in Elmira, N.Y., which hired more than 400 employees to perform the manufacturing and final assembly work.
The $298.1 million order for 130 single-level long distance passenger rail cars includes 25 sleepers, 25 diners, 25 baggage/dormitory and 55 baggage cars. More than 120 suppliers in 25 states and 93 cities are providing parts for the new rail cars.
"Amtrak long distance service connects America and so, too, does this equipment order in the form of jobs and economic opportunity in communities across the country," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "Amtrak is a major driver in the rebirth of an American rail manufacturing and supplier base that is strengthening our national economic health."
"The long distance routes represent the most attractive business improvement opportunity for Amtrak and the new equipment will help us achieve cost reductions, more efficiency, revenue growth and better service," said Amtrak Board Member Tom Carper.
"We are proud to have CAF-built equipment operate on Amtrak's national network and eager to have passengers experience the improved amenities provided on modern equipment," said CAF CEO Andres Arizkorreta.
"This contract to build 130 new rail cars for Amtrak is having a significant positive impact on our region's economy by creating hundreds of much needed manufacturing jobs," said Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli.
The new long distance cars will replace and supplement the existing fleet and allow cars built in the 1940s and 1950s to be retired. The sleeper, diner and baggage/dormitory cars will likely operate on eastern routes such as Lake Shore Limited, Cardinal, Crescent, and Silver Service with the baggage cars used nationwide. The first units are expected to enter revenue service during the summer of 2014. All 130 cars are expected to be delivered by the end of 2015.
Passengers will experience many improvements including: modern interiors with better layouts; better lighting and more efficient air conditioning and heating systems; additional outlets to power personal electronic devices; improved accessibility for passengers with disabilities; and bicycle racks in the baggage cars.
Long distance trains provide national connectivity and mobility, feed riders onto the rapidly growing state-supported corridor services and deliver about half a million passengers to the Northeast Corridor each year. In FY 2013, all long distance routes combined had the best year in 20 years with 4.8 million passengers.
In addition, about 42 percent of identified passengers with disabilities who used Amtrak in FY 2013 rode on a long distance train. Amtrak long distance trains serve 40 percent of America's rural population and are the only remaining scheduled intercity transportation in many places as intercity bus and airline services abandon smaller communities.
(Amtrak, Randy Kotuby
- posted 10/24)
“GREAT DOME” CAR ON AMTRAK ILLINOIS ZEPHYR
Passengers riding Amtrak Illinois Zephyr trains between Chicago and Quincy will have a unique opportunity this fall to view the change of seasons when the historic “Great Dome” rail car is part of Trains 380 and 383 from Nov. 5 to Nov. 22.
With its partner at the Illinois Department of Transportation (Illinois DOT), Amtrak worked to bring its only Dome Car back to the Prairie State. The car features an upper level with windows on all sides to provide passengers with panoramic views of the changing colors of the trees, farmers in their fields and the picturesque communities along the route, including LaGrange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg and Macomb.
There is no additional charge for riding the Illinois Zephyr during this period and seating in the Great Dome car is unreserved. The Illinois Zephyr is one of the first state-sponsored trains in the Amtrak network, with continuous operation in partnership with Illinois DOT since 1971, the first year of Amtrak service.
Together with its counterpart, the Carl Sandburg (Trains 381 & 382) and other Amtrak services, ridership on the Chicago-Galesburg-Quincy corridor was strong again in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2013, with more than 261,000 passengers.
- posted 10/24)
FOR HISTORIC NORFOLK SOUTHERN LOCOMOTIVE, IT'S A MIDNIGHT DEPARTURE... BY AIR AND TRUCK:
What can shut down two lanes of Peachtree Street on a bustling Friday night in Midtown? It’s the Best Friend of Charleston, historic icon of Norfolk Southern Railway, hoisted high above the street as the locomotive departs the lobby of NS’ David R. Goode Building here for its new showcase at Charleston, S.C.
The Best Friend, 1928 replica of the first locomotive built in America for regular service on a railroad, has resided in the lobby facing Atlanta’s most famous street since 2007, on loan from the city of Charleston. NS traces its beginning to the Christmas Day 1830 inaugural run of the Best Friend on the company’s earliest predecessor railroad company.
Now, Charleston has renovated a building in the city’s historic district to display the locomotive not too far from where the original first run occurred almost 183 years ago. Getting the Best Friend out of the NS building lobby in the wee hours of Saturday, Oct. 26, for its welcome back to Charleston will be no small feat.
Glass plates measuring 14 feet tall by eight feet wide will be removed to make a narrow gateway for the train consist, including the locomotive, tender and two passenger coaches. They will leave the building slowly and gingerly on a specially engineered turntable lubricated with liquid soap and powered by human muscle. Once just outside the building, a crane will hoist them one at a time high into the air over a plaza and onto flatbed trucks awaiting on Peachtree Street for their delivery to Charleston.
Rail fans will see irony in the Best Friend making its final journey by truck. Transportation enthusiasts will view it as evidence of the close partnership between rail and truck typical of today’s intermodal freight commerce.
The Best Friend replica did ride the rails for many years following its construction celebrating the 100th anniversary of the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company. Millions of people viewed it and thousands rode in its open coaches during short excursions in cities and towns throughout the railroad’s operating territory. NS donated the train to Charleston in 1993.
For Norfolk Southern’s 175th anniversary in 2005, the Best Friend made notable appearances at the New York Stock Exchange and just outside the company’s headquarters building at Norfolk.
The Best Friend is a miniature of modern motive power. Today’s locomotives are 50 times heavier, more than five times longer, and more than 600 times more powerful than the Best Friend and are the most environmentally responsible mode of freight transportation.
(Norfolk Southern Corporation
- posted 10/24)
STEWARTSTOWN RAILROAD OFFERS FREE TRAIN RIDES FOR VETERANS:
In honor of Veterans Day, the Stewartstown Railroad will be offering free railcar rides on Sunday, November 10th, 2013. These rides will start at the historic Stewartstown Station, and travel up a portion of the track, through scenic fields, over streams, and winding through gorgeous hills and gorgeous woodlands. At the same time, the Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad will have historical displays regarding the role the railroad played during two world wars.
“Our veterans sacrificed their time and efforts in protecting our country and way of life” said Dave Williamson, President of the Railroad. “We’d love to let them see some of the scenic wonder of the country they fought to defend.”
The rides are free to veterans of United States military service. Veterans will need to show a valid Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID (Form 1173). The Rides will be taking place between 1:00 PM and 4:PM Sunday, November 10th, and take between thirty and forty minutes.
( Stewartstown Railroad, Michael Ruane
- posted 10/24)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS:
Norfolk Southern reported third-quarter net income of $482 million,
20 percent higher than $402 million for the same period of 2012. Diluted earnings per share were $1.53, up 23 percent compared with $1.24 per diluted share in the
third quarter last year.
“Norfolk Southern delivered strong results, led by growth in our chemicals, metals/construction, intermodal, and automotive businesses, combined with ongoing productivity improvements,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “Even in the face of continuing weakness in the coal markets, our focus on service efficiency and velocity allowed us to provide superior performance for our customers and excellent results for our shareholders.”
Railway operating revenues were $2.8 billion, 5 percent higher compared with third-quarter 2012, with shipment volumes increasing 4 percent.
For the third quarter, general merchandise revenues were $1.6 billion,11 percent higher compared with the third quarter of 2012, primarily as a result of a 6 percent growth in shipments.
Coal revenues were $641 million, 9 percent lower compared with the third quarter last year, due to lower average revenue per unit and a 2 percent decline in volumes.
Intermodal revenues were $605 million, a 7 percent increase compared with third-quarter 2012. Volumes increased 5 percent due to continued domestic and international growth.
Railway operating expenses for the third quarter totaled $2.0 billion, 1 percent higher compared with the same period of 2012.
Income from railway operations for the third quarter was $849 million, 16 percent higher compared with the same period last year.
The railway operating ratio for the third quarter improved 3 percentage points to 69.9 percent compared with 72.9 percent in the same quarter last year.
(Norfolk Southern Corporation
- posted 10/23)
MTA LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD CELEBRATE JAMAICA STATION'S 100TH BIRTHDAY:
MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and MTA Long Island Rail Road President Helena E. Williams today marked the 100th anniversary of Jamaica Station, rededicating the historic transportation hub and transfer point for 10 of the LIRR’s 11 branches that is used by 150,000 commuters every day.
The important role of Jamaica Station, memorialized in railroad lexicon by the catch phrase “Change at Jamaica” has made commuting between Long Island and New York City possible for generations of Long Island Rail Road customers. The station opened for business in 1913 as was part of newly elevated right-of-way in Jamaica that did away with street level grade crossings for the first time.
“We celebrate the 100th anniversary of Jamaica Station assured that it will continue to play a strategic role in the future of mass transit in our region,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “The MTA’s commitment to downtown Jamaica has never wavered. A decade ago, we completed a major rehabilitation of Jamaica Station in conjunction with the construction of the Air Train Terminal by the Port Authority. As the Long Island Rail Road looks to the future, Jamaica Station will remain its nerve center and our Jamaica Capacity Improvements Project will mean more than $300 million in infrastructure upgrades to keep the LIRR running smoothly.”
LIRR President Helena Williams noted the LIRR’s longtime partnership with the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation in ongoing efforts to maintain and improve downtown Jamaica’s vibrant commercial center. The restoration of the LIRR’s century old headquarters building, located at Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard, is part of the Railroad’s commitment to the local community.
“We are proud to be a part of Greater Jamaica,” said Williams. “Our headquarters and Jamaica Station has been an anchor in this neighborhood for 100 years, bringing tens of thousands of travelers to Jamaica annually. We hope, with this restoration, to be here at least another 100 years.”
Joining Williams at the ceremony were Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, MTA Board Members Mitchell H. Pally representing Suffolk County and John J. Molloy representing Nassau County, Mark Epstein, chair of LIRR Commuter Council, representatives of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, as well as local public officials and community leaders. The event included a performance by the Oyster Bay High School wind ensemble of “Change at Jamaica,” a 10-minute instrumental piece by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Paul Moravec of Adelphi University.
“I congratulate all who were involved with Jamaica Station’s first century, during which the LIRR’s ‘transit nerve center’ demonstrated the overwhelming need for every day travelers to have adequate, modern transportation to and from Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the AirTrain to JFK Airport,” said U.S. Representative Gregory W. Meeks. “As we celebrate Jamaica Station's first 100 years and to look forward to even bigger and better things during its second century, more than 350,000 daily commuters can look forward to enjoying the comforts and amenities of renovated facilities and headquarter, numerous track improvements, and the opening of the East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal in a few short years.”
“For 100 years, Jamaica Station has been a key part of our area’s transportation network,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “It has an efficient design that makes it easy for the more than 200,000 passengers who use it each day to ‘change at Jamaica’ and get to their destinations quickly. And the multi-million dollar renovation project completed this year has made the station even more passenger-friendly and has helped restore it to its original glory. By helping to make mass transit a viable way to get around our region, Jamaica Station has contributed mightily to our economic growth and quality-of-life. Here’s to another 100 years of excellent service!”
Also featured at the festivities were the MTA Police Honor and Color Guard, while the Lionel Train Corporation introduced its new “Jamaica” O-Gauge model train, designed especially for the centennial.
Experts on the history of the Long Island Rail Road were also present. Richard Gorddard, president of the Twin Forks Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, Stephen Quigley, president of the society’s Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter, and noted LIRR historian David D. Morrison, the author of the book, “Jamaica Station,” presented a special commemorative plaque to the LIRR President Williams.
Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation said: “The Long Island Rail Road and Jamaica Station have been key to all of our efforts to support and enable transit-oriented development to serve those who work, live in and visit Greater Jamaica. The LIRR and the MTA have been essential partners in those efforts, and we look forward to the next 100 years of progress.”
Jamaica Station was designed by architect Kenneth M. Murchison and built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, then the parent company of the Long Island Rail Road. It opened for business in 1913. The entire Jamaica complex was constructed by LIRR employees under the direction of railroad’s Chief Engineer John Savage. That same year, the LIRR moved into a new corporate office adjacent to the newly elevated station, platforms and tracks. The five-story brick building including the station waiting area, also designed by Murchison, was situated at the corner of Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard, a dirt road intersection in an area still dotted with farms.
Murchison designed the LIRR’s ticket office and waiting area on Sutphin Boulevard as the public entrance to the building, gilding it with an ornate canopy that received special attention during the restoration. He placed the corporate entrance on Archer Avenue with “Long Island R.R. Co.” in bronze letters across the top.
Among the best known landmarks in the borough of Queens, the building is home to the oldest railroad in the U.S. still operating under its original name. Each weekday, the LIRR operates 732 trains with approximately 300,000 customers traveling through Jamaica twice a day. AirTrain JFK service draws an additional 11,500 customers per day who arrive by train, subway, bus and taxi.
For much of the last year, LIRR headquarters was veiled in scaffolding and steel grey safety netting as the LIRR Engineering Department employees and a private contractor, Alps Mechanical Inc., labored on building elements that had seriously deteriorated over the years. The restoration effort was carried out in an effort to be consistent with the historic character of the building under the direction of the LIRR’s Department of Program Management.
As part of the restoration, LIRR employees refurbished the Jamaica ticket office and customer waiting area, restored its original terrazzo floors, cleaned the ceiling, installed brighter lighting and gave interior walls a fresh coat of paint. There is also a new seating area for ticketed customers, new electronic train arrival/departure screens and a new rack for timetables. Ticket machines have been moved to a more visible and convenient location.
But the bulk of the restoration effort was devoted to the badly deteriorated building exterior where workers resurrected the appearance of the terracotta covering the first two floors by chemically stripping the paint, installing new terracotta where necessary and re-glazing every block. Above that, much of building’s upper story brickwork was carefully repointed and the extensive deterioration found on the roof was addressed with a new watertight roofing system.
Refurbished as well were the building’s distinctive metal cornice, soffit and fascia, its decorative cast-iron window surrounds and that familiar entry canopy. Badly tarnished bronze doors have stainless steel replacements and the bronze lettering that bears its Railroad’s name once again gleams from its perch high above Archer Avenue. Finally, new energy efficient windows and louvers were installed. The repainting of varied surfaces was an opportunity for the Railroad to bring back the building’s original color scheme, known as Pennsylvania Railroad Red and Blue. The total restoration effort of $8.5 million was funded through the MTA’s Capital Program.
In coming years, the MTA and LIRR are planning more than $300 million in infrastructure improvements as part of the first phase of the Jamaica Capacity Improvements Project. Phase 1 encompasses design and construction in support of East Side Access, the new path to Manhattan that will bring LIRR customers to Grand Central Terminal and East Midtown for the first time. The work includes the construction of a new platform specifically dedicated to scoot service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn, the removal and installation of switches, realignment of track, reconfiguration of the Johnson Avenue Train Yard, construction of a freight train bypass track and modification to the existing signal system.
The headquarters of the Long Island Rail Road as well as Jamaica Station is recognized as part of Historic Jamaica and a featured stop on the Historic Jamaica Walking Tour and Guide published by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation
- posted 10/23)
GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES MAJOR TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS
Governor Deval Patrick today announced four historic transportation infrastructure investments that will stimulate economic growth and opportunity for commuters, residents and businesses throughout greater Boston, enhance accessibility and ease traffic and congestion. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will launch a $1.3 billion program to replace and increase the capacity of the Red Line and Orange Line trains, the Massachusetts Turnpike will be fitted with all electronic, open road tolling, design and permitting will begin immediately to rebuild and straighten the route of the I-90/Massachusetts Turnpike in Allston and the Clayton Street Bridge in Dorchester will be replaced over Veterans Day weekend.
The projects announced will bring reliable, long-term relief to commuters who travel the Massachusetts Turnpike and rely on the Red and Orange lines to get to work and school. Governor Patrick made the announcement at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce government affairs forum where he addressed generational responsibility and the importance of expanding economic opportunity for people throughout Massachusetts by investing in education, innovation and infrastructure.
“Growth requires investment, and these projects will catalyze growth in greater Boston,” said Governor Patrick. “If we want to expand opportunity in our Commonwealth, this is what government must do and do well.”
The MBTA on Tuesday issued Requests for Proposals for the $1.3 billion procurement to replace the 44-year old Red Line cars and 32-year old Orange Line cars. The project will deliver at least 226 vehicles; 152 Orange Line cars, replacing the entire fleet of 120, and 74 Red Line cars with an option to increase the fleet to 132. The new cars will provide improved reliability, accessibility and energy efficiency. New car features include increased capacity and additional seating, wider and electrically operated doors, four accessible areas per car, LED lighting, modern HVAC systems and advanced passenger information and announcement systems. The MBTA expects to award a contract for the cars by winter 2014-15, with the condition that the final assembly of the cars will take place in Massachusetts, providing further investment in the Commonwealth. Following required extensive pilot train testing, Orange Line car delivery is scheduled to begin in winter 2018-19 and Red Line car delivery in fall 2019.
Construction will begin in 2014 to install all electronic, open road tolling to significantly ease congestion and traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Electronic tolling will begin in a testing phase on the Tobin Bridge beginning in January and will go live in the spring.
The I-90 Turnpike straightening project will replace a nearly half mile long structurally-deficient viaduct including 29 bridge structures built in the mid-1960’s. The viaduct project will straighten existing turns on both sides of the existing Allston-Brighton toll area, reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions while opening up to 60 acres for future development in the Beacon Park Yards area. MassDOT’s Highway Division will coordinate this multi-phase project with federal, state and city representatives and conduct public outreach with business, educational and other area institutions in the area. The current schedule calls for construction to begin in fall 2016 with completion in 2020. The preliminary estimated cost of the project is $260 million.
The Governor also announced that the Clayton Street Bridge in Dorchester will be replaced over Veterans Day weekend as part of the Patrick Administration’s push to use accelerated construction techniques to deliver projects. The bridge is located in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston and carries the Ashmont-Alewife Red Line over Clayton Street at the intersection of Clayton Street and Dickens Street. The bridge was first constructed in 1911 and is a three-span steel superstructure supported on steel bents and concrete abutments.
“The Governor has a proven track record over seven years of making strategic decisions about targeting investment where it has the greatest positive impact on our transportation customers, and the Turnpike improvements and new T cars are historic additions to that record,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey.
“The nearly 50-year old Turnpike viaduct in Allston carries more than 100,000 vehicles daily and no longer meets today’s needs,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola. “This project will allow us to straighten the roadway, replace and reduce the length of the viaduct, and to better support and maintain the future all electronic tolling format at the interchange.”
“Our customers on the Orange and Red Lines have been waiting literally for years to see these long-discussed investments become a reality,” said MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott. “New cars will provide reliable service while increasing seating capacity and accessibility for all riders.”
The I-90 and MBTA projects build on previous unprecedented investments by the Patrick Administration in the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure. Road and bridge investments across the Commonwealth nearly tripled in the past seven years, from $515 million in FY2007 to $1.4 billion in FY2013. Governor Patrick’s historic $3 billion Accelerated Bridge Program has reduced the number of structurally deficient bridges by 19 percent since its beginning in 2008, while creating thousands of construction jobs. Over the course of the eight year program, more than 200 bridges will be replaced or repaired.
MBTA investments include three new T stations opened along the Fairmount Line in Roxbury and Dorchester, work now underway to bring the Green Line Extension to Union Square and Washington Street in Somerville, and construction of the first new Orange Line T station in 25 years at the Assembly Row development in Somerville. Overall, MBTA “state-of-good-repair” investments are approaching nearly $600 million per year while introducing customer-focused improvements such as subway countdown clocks, smartphone apps for tracking the arrival of buses and trains, mobile ticketing for commuter rail and improved accessibility with new elevators and escalators.
- posted 10/22)