February 27, 2015:
RESTORED SOUTHERN RAILWAY SD40-2:
A new addition to Norfolk Southern’s “heritage fleet”. Southern Railway SD40-2 3180.
was built in April of 1971 and served for Southern and Norfolk Southern until being retired in 2008. It was recently saved from the back lot and rebuilt into operating condition at NS’s Juniata Shop in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and repainted into its original Southern colors at NS’s paint shop at Debutts Yard in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 3170 will go back into revenue service, primarily assigned to yard and local service along the Piedmont Division.
(NS, Rick Glosser - posted 2/26)
FRA RAMPS UP CAMPAIGN TO ENHANCE SAFETY AT NATION'S GRADE CROSSINGS:
The next phase of FRA’s efforts to improve safety at grade crossings will aim to employ smarter uses of technology, increase public awareness of grade crossing safety, including distracted driving, improve signage, work closer in partnership with states and local safety agencies, and call for new funding for greater safety at grade crossings.
“Recent accidents in New York and California are important reminders of our shared challenge to both educate the public about grade crossing safety, and to enforce appropriate behavior around railroad operations,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Grade crossing and trespassing accidents are serious challenges to maintaining public safety. Every three hours of every day, someone is hit by a train in the United States and we must do all we can to heighten public awareness, strengthen enforcement efforts and pioneer new technologies to better secure public safety.”
There are 250,711 grade crossings in the United States; about 51% of those are public-at-grade crossings. Only half of all public grade crossings have automatic-warning systems and only a third have flashing lights and gates. Approximately 15% of all grade crossings are grade separated – the safest of all crossings - meaning railroad traffic is completely separated from vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
States and localities have traditionally played the most significant role in determining the type of warning system present at grade crossings, with most system decisions determined by traffic levels. Upgrades to existing grade crossings are also the responsibility of states and local communities. Under federal law and regulations, railroads are responsible for inspecting, testing, and maintaining highway-rail grade crossings. The FRA issues and enforces regulations on crossing safety, issues guidance on best practices and conducts research on ways to improve crossings safety.
Additionally, the federal government provides more than $287.9 million annually to states to help improve and enhance safety at public grade crossings.
“The reality is that while the overall number of deaths and injuries from grade crossing incidents has come down significantly over the last two decades, this remains a serious problem. We can and should be doing everything we possibly can to keep drivers, pedestrians, and train crews and passengers safe at grade crossings,” said Sarah Feinberg, Acting Administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration. “In addition to this renewed outreach to law enforcement, FRA will take a fresh look at our grade crossing programs and activities.”
(FRA - posted 2/26)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEB. 21, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 21, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 473,161 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 21, 2015 were 259,544 carloads, down 7.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 213,617 containers and trailers, down 15.7 percent compared to 2014.
Grain was the lone commodity group to post an increase compared with the same week in 2014, up 4 percent to 22,877 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: motor vehicles and parts, down 12.2 percent to 14,980 carloads, coal, down 12 percent to 96,096 carloads and metallic ores and metals, down 9.2 percent to 20,235 carloads.
For the first seven weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,982,993 carloads, up 3.7 percent from the same point last year, and 1,692,864 intermodal units, down 2.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2015 was 3,675,857 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 21, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 344,519 carloads, down 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 275,361 intermodal units, down 13.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 619,880 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first seven weeks of 2015 was 4,800,591 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 69,278 carloads for the week, down 1.2 percent, and 50,580 intermodal units, down 4.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first seven weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 938,674 carloads, containers and trailers, up 9.1 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,697 carloads for the week, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,164 intermodal units, down 1.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first seven weeks of 2015 was 186,060 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.8 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 2/26)
MASSDOT BOARD NAMES DEPAOLA INTERIM MBTA GM:
The MassDOT Board of Directors voted unanimously to make Frank DePaola, currently serving as Highway Administrator and MassDOT's Chief Operating Officer, Interim General Manager of the MBTA. MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack also announced today that Thomas Tinlin, MassDOT's Chief of Highway Operations and Maintenance, will serve as Acting Highway Administrator. Both appointments are effective Wednesday, March 4, 2015.
"I am pleased to announce that the Board of Directors has unanimously agreed to appoint Frank DePaola Interim General Manager as we undergo a period of transition with the MBTA," said Secretary Pollack. "With the depth and breadth of Frank's experience as an engineer, a manager, and a problem-solver, I have full confidence that he has the skill sets and capabilities to serve as Interim General Manager. I also want to thank Dr. Scott for her years of service and for her strong commitment to public transportation. We wish her the very best of luck in her next endeavor."
Starting in the field of engineering nearly 38 years ago, DePaola's career track includes experience in several disciplines within the field. One of those disciplines started in May 2009, when DePaola was named MBTA Assistant General Manager for Design and Construction. In that role, he directed and managed construction projects for the T, had oversight of the capital spending, and worked to ensure projects were completed in a timely and cost-effective manner.
DePaola served in that capacity until April 2011, when he was named MassDOT's Highway Administrator, responsible for the operations, maintenance, and capital investments on the State Highway System. In November 2014, DePaola was named Acting Secretary of MassDOT until Jan. 13, 2015, when Governor Baker named Stephanie Pollack MassDOT Secretary and CEO.
"I want to thank the Board of Directors for their trust in my abilities, and I am excited to take on this critical role at the MBTA," DePaola said. "I also look forward to assisting with the Special Panel's search to get to the root cause of the issues our transit system faces. Once the issues are diagnosed, I look forward to helping implement a strategy to restore our system to full strength, and restoring our customers' faith in our ability to provide safe, reliable, efficient transit service."
"I cannot think of a better, more qualified person to take the reins immediately, and provide the necessary leadership to move our transit system in the right direction," said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. "I can leave this job I've loved, knowing that MBTA customers as well as employees are in very capable hands and I look forward to working with Frank during the transition process."
Under the agency's enabling statute, the MassDOT Board of Directors is allowed to appoint a General Manager through unanimous written consent by the members of the Board. That consent was obtained late last night. The position of Highway Administrator is appointed by - and is a direct report to - the Secretary and CEO.
Secretary Pollack also announced Tinlin's appointment as Acting Highway Administrator during DePaola's service as General Manager. Tinlin served as Boston's Commissioner of Transportation for over a decade before joining MassDOT in December 2013. Serving as Chief of Highway Operations and Maintenance, Tinlin's responsibilities include managing the Highway Division's day-to-day operations, scheduling a complex sequence of construction and maintenance activities to minimize impacts to the driving public. Most recently, Tinlin was the leader in coordinating the Highway Division's response to record-breaking snowfall, and providing resources to assist MEMA, the MBTA, and cities and towns with storm recovery efforts.
Tinlin was also MassDOT's lead on the South Boston Waterfront Study, which brought together the city of Boston, Massport, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, A Better City, as well as neighborhood residents, businesses, and industry leaders to develop a plan to meet the existing and future transportation needs of the waterfront area. Following the 18-month study period, Tinlin now serves as the group's chair seeking to implement the plan.
"I want to thank Secretary Pollack for her confidence in me and my priority of focusing on the daily operations of the Highway Division, always with the goal of having the safest, most efficient highway network possible," Tinlin said. "Additionally, I am eager to continue our progress in advancing our organization ever closer toward one, unified Department of Transportation."
- posted 2/25)
KEOLIS/MBTA COMMUTER RAIL RECOVERY UPDATE:
Keolis, the operator of MBTA commuter rail, announced several milestones, including the completion of snow and ice removal from all platforms and critical rail switches system-wide, as well as the addition of supplemental trains, double-decker and standard passenger cars to increase capacity and combat overcrowding.
Keolis recognizes the extremely hard work of its employees as the recovery process continues, many of whom have been working around the clock since January 27th to keep and/or return trains in service, clear tracks and switches and get the system back to full service as soon as possible for our customers.
- posted 2/25)
Snow Removal: Over the weekend, 700 tons of snow were melted with the assistance of a snowmelter on loan from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and more than 180 truckloads of snow were removed from key maintenance facilities, while 184 railway switches were cleaned of snow and ice. Keolis employees have removed 10.6 million cubic feet of snow from station platforms since January 27th and 594 million cubic feet from tracks and track infrastructure.
Service Schedule and Winter Weather Update: MBTA Commuter Rail continues to operate on a limited-service schedule
as it begins repairs on its locomotive fleet and passengers should continue to plan accordingly for delays and cancelations. Keolis will remain vigilant with snow again in the forecast for Tuesday night into Wednesday, but commuter rail customers are advised to be aware of possible delays and cancelations under an already-reduced schedule.
Additional Trains and Capacity: Keolis has begun adding extra trains to service commuter rail lines experiencing overcrowding on trains and platforms due to the reduced schedule. These trains will be used sporadically system-wide as extra trains become available and announced via station platform signs and T-Alerts. The recovery plan intends to return three locomotives to service every week on the path to restoring regular weekday service.
MTA LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD EARNS TSA's GOLD STANDARD AWARD, THE FEDERAL AGENCY'S HIGHEST SECURITY RATING:
The federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that MTA Long Island Rail Road is a winner of its Gold Standard Award for 2014, the agency’s highest security rating and one granted to only five transit agencies after a nationwide competition.
The LIRR was previously awarded this distinction back in 2010. The ratings are part of TSA's 2014 Baseline Assessments for Security Enhancement program, which involves a voluntary review of various security measures, ranging from security plans and training to public outreach efforts and background check programs.
“This achievement is significant and shows the LIRR is committed to maintaining a strong security posture,” said Ronald J. Masciana, Special Advisor/Director Surface Division of the Transportation Security Administration, a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said: “The LIRR is proud to accept this honor from the TSA. Safety and security are always our top priority and this achievement owes much to the work of LIRR Chief of Security Robert Murphy, Chief Safety Officer Loretta Ebbighausen and their respective teams working in close conjunction with MTA Office of Security and the MTA Police.”
The assessments are conducted by Transportation Security Inspectors with emphasis on the 100 largest systems based on passenger volume, which collectively account for over 80 percent of all users of public transit focusing on multiple categories including agency security plans, security training, drills, and exercise programs, public outreach efforts and background checks.
In addition to the LIRR, the other awardees for 2014 were the Virginia Railway Express in Northern Virginia, the Washington Metro in Washington D.C. and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and Pinellas Suncoast Transit, both in Florida.
- posted 2/25)
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES FINAL DESIGN FOR REVITALIZED HICKSVILLE STATION:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the final design for a new Long Island Rail Road station in Hicksville. The project is a $120 million investment meant to revitalize the region’s busiest transit hub and kick-start residential and commercial development in the hamlet's downtown. Renderings of the project can be viewed here.
“By renovating the Hicksville station, we’re moving ahead with much-needed upgrades at one of the LIRR’s busiest outlets and breathing new economic life into the community,” Governor Cuomo said. “This rehabilitation is designed to fundamentally improve riders’ experiences at Hicksville while also setting the stage for expanded service through the East Side Access project, and I am pleased to see it moving forward.”
At a community meeting last week, LIRR officials showed local residents and civic leaders the architectural renderings of a project that promises to transform the deteriorating train station, built in 1961, into a bright and modern commuter-friendly facility.
Hicksville Station is the LIRR’s busiest line station with 22,000 customer trips per weekday. Both Ronkonkoma Branch trains and Port Jefferson Branch trains pass through Hicksville every day as do selected Montauk Branch trains. The station is also served by major NICE commuter bus routes running north and south on Route 106 and Route 107.
The station rehabilitation is forecast to cost $68.7 million. The MTA will invest another $52.3 million for a less visible but equally important part of the project - the construction of the Hicksville North Track Siding, an additional track along the existing railroad right-of way that will support the LIRR’s plans for faster and more frequent service when its East Side Access Project is completed in 2022. East Side Access will carry LIRR riders into Grand Central Terminal on the East Side of Manhattan for the first time.
Senator Jack M. Martins said: “This is a tremendous investment that will benefit both the Hicksville community and Long Island as a whole. The Hicksville station is a transit hub that serves millions of riders each year. Overhauling and upgrading the infrastructure at Long Island’s busiest train station will improve service, create jobs, and enhance the quality of life for commuters. I’m pleased to see this important project moving forward.”
Assemblyman Michael Montesano said: “I am thrilled that the Long Island Rail Road station in Hicksville will finally receive the renovations that it has desperately needed for many years. This comprehensive project will greatly enhance services for all travelers – daily commuters and visitors alike. From its new modern design to its state-of-the-art technology, the station will be transformed into a more safe and efficient stop on the LIRR line. I thank the MTA and the LIRR for working together on this project and look forward to all the benefits its completion will bring to our community.”
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said: “The LIRR’s Hicksville revitalization project is a prime example of how the MTA uses its Capital Plan to benefit the people and the communities that it services. In the short term, construction means jobs. Long term, Hicksville will have a station to be proud of, improved train service and the prospect of new development that could offer property tax relief for current homeowners.”
LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski noted that the agency will work closely with the Town of Oyster Bay to accommodate weekend work that is necessary to carry out the construction. Construction is not expected to impact weekday service.
The Long Island Rail Road reached Hicksville on March 1, 1837 and the current station, now more than 50 years old, is plagued by poor drainage and cracked concrete as well as elevators and escalators that are nearing the end of their useful lives.
The design for the Hicksville Station revitalization was done by AECOM, a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environment, energy, water and government.
- posted 2/24)
Hicksville Station Project Overview: $68.7 Million
The LIRR’s plan calls for construction completion in 2019 with a design that will almost completely recast the station with new platforms, new fully – heated, glass-enclosed platform waiting rooms, new lighting, new translucent canopy roof, new stairways, elevators and escalators, a new video security system, audio and digital communications systems and new signage. It also includes a new street-level plaza and entrance to the waiting room/ticket office. MTA Arts & Design plans to enhance the station with an artist designed ceramic mosaic murals and laminated art glass.
Hicksville North Track Siding Project: $52.3 Million
This project includes the installation of over three thousand feet of new track, power and signal work. This effort will connect Track 1 at Hicksville to an existing track siding situated about one-half mile west of the station platform. The connection will enable the LIRR to add three trains to the AM and PM Peak service between Hicksville and Manhattan when Grand Central Terminal opens to the LIRR with the completion of the East Side Access project in 2022. It will also improve the Railroad's ability to reroute trains in the event of maintenance, construction or service disruptions.
Finally, the LIRR will modernize the signal system at Divide Tower, located just east of Hicksville Station. Divide controls all train movement on the Huntington/Port Jefferson and the Ronkonkoma Branches east of Hicksville
RAIL FRACTURES AND UNDETECTED RAIL DEFECTS LED TO OCTOBER 2013 DERAILMENT AND FIRE INVOLVING A CN TRAIN IN GAINFORD, ALBERTA:
In its investigation report (R13E0142) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that numerous rail fractures led to the October 2013 derailment and fire involving a Canadian National (CN) train in Gainford, Alberta.
On 19 October 2013, a CN freight train, travelling from Edmonton, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia, derailed 13 cars, including 4 DOT 111 tank cars containing petroleum crude oil and 9 DOT 112 tank cars containing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the siding at Gainford, Alberta. Two LPG tank cars were breached during the derailment and caught fire, and a third LPG car released product from its safety valve which ignited. About 600 feet of track was destroyed and a house located directly north of the derailment site was damaged by the fire. A total of 106 homes in the vicinity of the occurrence were evacuated. There were no injuries.
The investigation determined that the train derailed when one or more rail breaks occurred in the high rail as the train travelled through the curve in the Gainford siding. Numerous defects were found along the length of the high rail in the curve. A rail flaw detection test through the area 2 months earlier had not identified these defects. In March 2013, the low rail had been replaced with a new rail that reduced the curve's superelevation. In this situation, more stress was placed on the high rail, increasing the risk of rail defect development and failure.
One of the DOT 112 tank cars carrying LPG was punctured in the underside by the coupler from another car. This caused it to release its load and explode. DOT 112 tank cars have increased protection on each end to withstand impacts and are equipped with double shelf couplers designed to keep derailed tank cars together during derailments. However, tank cars that come apart during a derailment and jackknife across the track are vulnerable to impacts from following cars. None of the DOT 111 tank cars, which were built to the CPC-1232 standard, released petroleum crude oil, as the cars derailed in a line on their sides and did not suffer secondary impacts.
Following the occurrence, CN conducted walking inspections and rail flaw detection re-testing on all 25 mph sidings. Speed was reduced to 15 mph in these sidings until they were retested. Rail grinding within these sidings was also programmed to remove rail surface defects.
(TSB, Randy Kotuby
- posted 2/24)
CSX WEST VIRGINIA OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT UPDATE:
The Unified Command for the West Virginia Train Derailment Response continues to make progress restoring the environment and repairing the rail transportation system Monday.
Environmental experts working with the Unified Command continue to monitor the air and water samples to ensure the safety of the community and response teams. Air monitoring techniques include mobile and stationary testing, which provides real-time results and samples that are sent to a lab to be further checked against Environmental Protection Agency-approved threshold levels. The ongoing monitoring tests for compounds found in crude oil, any associated products from the fire, and a spectrum of organic compounds that could impact air quality. The Unified Command has performed more than 20,000 tests in the community with no detections of crude oil component in the air.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is working with the Unified Command, the EPA, the National Guard’s Civil Support Team and CSX to collect water samples for testing. More than 100 samples have been collected near the banks of Armstrong Creek, around the containment zone, near West Virginia American Water’s intake points and at the water plant itself. The testing is being conducted by American Water and a lab contracted by the EPA and there is no reported impact on drinking water or public safety.
“As recovery efforts progress we will continue with the robust air and water monitoring program,” said Dennis Matlock, Federal On-Scene Coordinator. “The Unified Command is committed to ensuring the safety of the community and response teams throughout the restoration process.”
Officials from the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have teams of inspectors on site and are conducting a full-scale investigation into the cause of the derailment.
Response teams continue pumping operations to remove oil from the derailed tank cars, reporting approximately 166,000 gallons of oil recovered directly from tank cars as of Monday morning. In addition approximately 36,000 gallons of oily-water mixture have been recovered from containment trenches dug along the river embankment near the derailment site as of Monday morning. The product and oily-water mixture is being transferred to CSX’s nearby Handley Yard. Response teams are following all federal oil-transfer guidelines to ensure safe operations.
At the derailment site, teams continue safely removing empty rail cars. As of Monday afternoon, four rail cars still need to be placed on flatcars for removal. All other rail cars have been positioned for removal. Once complete, response teams will remove impacted soil and lay a new rail bed in order to rebuild the CSX railroad tracks.
- posted 2/23)
PRELIMINARY NTSB REPORT CONCERNING DEADLY METRO-NORTH GRADE CROSSING INCIDENT:
On February 3, 2015, at 6:26 pm eastern standard time, northbound Metro-North Railroad passenger train no. 659 struck a 2011 Mercedes Benz ML350 sports utility vehicle (SUV) at the Commerce Street highway rail grade crossing, DOT ID 529902V, at milepost 26.6 on the Metro-North Railroad Harlem line in Valhalla, New York. An estimated 650 passengers were aboard the train at the time of the accident of which an estimated 20 passengers were in the lead car. The driver of the SUV and five passengers on the train were killed. This highway-rail grade crossing was comprised of gates and warning lights that activate to warn motorists of an oncoming train. Train no. 659 consisted of eight electrically powered M-7 railcars. The collision resulted in a fire which consumed the SUV and lead railcar, MN 4333.
The SUV was stopped on the railroad tracks in the highway-rail grade crossing and was positioned in an easterly direction when the railroad crossing gates moved to the closed position. Witnesses reported the driver of the SUV as being stopped in the crossing prior to the gates lowering. When the gate lowered it struck the rear portion of the SUV after which the driver exited the SUV, looked at the back of the SUV, then got back in the SUV, drove forward (east), and was struck by the train.
The track speed in the area of the accident was 60 mph. Based on the NTSB’s preliminary review of the train’s event recorder data, the train was travelling at 58 mph prior to emergency braking and the horn was operated in accordance with operating rules on the approach to the crossing. The recorder indicated that the engineer activated the emergency brakes about 300 feet before the collision after observing what he characterized as, “a vehicle partially fouling the crossing”. Event recorder data indicated that in the 4 seconds after initiation of emergency braking the train slowed to 49 mph at which time it impacted the SUV.
The train and the SUV continued northbound resulting in the damage of the electrified third rail on the west side of the track. The third rail detached, pierced the SUV, and then entered the railcar in two locations from the underside at the aft end of the left side passenger doorway. The train and SUV came to rest about 650 feet from the point of collision. An estimated 480 feet of third rail was damaged. Twelve sections of the third rail, each 39 feet long, were found inside the first passenger railcar.
The NTSB will conduct a metallurgical examination of some of the third rail. Samples from the interior of the lead train car will also be examined by NTSB investigators for compliance with fire protection standards.
The weather at the time of the accident was reported to be 20?F and with light wind, clear skies, and good visibility. Damage was estimated by the Metro-North Railroad at $3.7 million.
The parties to the investigation include the Federal Railroad Administration, Metro-North Railroad, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, the Town of Mount Pleasant, and the New York Public Transportation Safety Board.
(NTSB, Alex Mayes
- posted 2/23)
MONTREAL'S AMT COMMUTER RAIL AGENCY WILL CONTINUE TO ROLL DESPITE POSSIBLE LOCKOUT BETWEEN CN AND UNIFOR:
The Metropolitan Transportation Agency (AMT) has received in the last hour insurance CN and Unifor union of maintaining the maintenance service its Deux-Montagnes line by union employees affiliated Unifor despite possible lockout with CN on Monday. So she tells her clients that the service will be maintained throughout its commuter train system.
"The commuter train is an important service to thousands of citizens of the greater metropolitan area of ??Montreal. The AMT is confident that the parties will honor their commitment to our customers. They will be able to travel in comfort on the lines Two Mountains and Mascouche, news that pleased us, "said Nicolas Girard, CEO of AMT. "We will follow the situation closely and assure our customers that we will make necessary, the contingency plan mentioned in the last days."
The AMT is committed to informing its customers of any development affecting the commuter train service on the Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche through notices to customers, releases, on its website (amt.qc.ca ) and information relegated to its Twitter accounts (amt_info,amt_DM,amt_MA).
Importance of the maintenance of rolling stock for commuter train service
CN employees affiliated with Unifor are responsible for the maintenance and inspection of trains and maintenance of the power system of the Deux-Montagnes line. The rolling stock and power supply system of the Deux-Montagnes line should be inspected daily to ensure the commuter train service.
( AMT via Google Translate
- posted 2/23)
HISTORIC WEST VIRGINIA LOCOMOTIVE WILL RETURN HOME:
The North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation has reached an agreement to sell Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 No. 4, a 1926 Baldwin-built steam locomotive with deep West Virginia roots, to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad for restoration and operation in the Mountain State.
The locomotive will be moved this spring to the shop in Cass, W.Va., at the Cass Scenic Railroad, now operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley, for the completion of boiler work and other repairs. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley hopes to complete the restoration in time for the locomotive’s 90th birthday in 2016. When completed, the locomotive will appear as it did in the early 1960s when it gained fame as one of the last steam locomotives in regular service in the United States. Because it was a saturated steam locomotive, it often showed signs of leakage on its smokebox front, thus earning it the nickname “Old Slobberface.”
The Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pa., built the locomotive for use in Mexico, but instead it was sold to the Buffalo Creek & Gauley in Clay County, W.Va. It became one of the most photographed steam locomotives in the Eastern U.S., making its last run in 1965. The locomotive was sold to the Pennsylvania-based Quakertown & Eastern excursion operation in 1967, the Southwest Virginia Scenic Railroad in Hiltons, Va., in 1972, and the non-profit support organization for the North Carolina Transportation Museum in 1978. It was restored in 1986 and lettered and numbered as a replica of Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 604, which had been based at Spencer. The locomotive pulled the museum’s 3-mile on-site train ride for years. It last operated in November 2001 and was partially restored in the 2000s before other priorities at the museum resulted in the restoration being stopped.
The locomotive was the first piece of rolling stock that a group of Southern Railway retirees restored at Spencer in 1986, a move that is regarded as the turning point for the North Carolina museum that today is the home to the largest preserved roundhouse in the nation, hosts major events such as 2014’s Streamliners at Spencer festival, and is serving as the site for the restoration of Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611. Proceeds from the sale will be used to upgrade the museum’s permanent rolling stock.
“We appreciate the role that No. 4 played in the development of the North Carolina Transportation Museum,” said Steve Mersch, president of the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation. “We owe a debt of gratitude to this powerful locomotive, and we want to see it run again in its authentic garb and in its home state. It deserves the chance to run once more on a line-haul railroad. Returning it to West Virginia, where it can be restored and operated makes this a real homecoming.”
"We are looking forward to returning this historic West Virginia steam locomotive to service not far from where she once operated. We are truly thankful to the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation for entrusting us to carry on the legacy of the Buffalo Creek and Gauley No. 4 steam locomotive,” said Durbin & Greenbrier Valley President John Smith. “We know it’s been the dream of many who have contributed to the preservation of this engine over the years to see it under a full head of steam and on the tracks again. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is proud to be a part of making this happen."
(NC Transportation Museum
- posted 2/21)
U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY FOXX ANNOUNCES RULE TO INCREASE STATE SAFETY OVERSIGHT OF RAIL TRANSIT SYSTEMS:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today at Washington’s Union Station a proposed rule to increase oversight responsibilities of State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) by replacing the existing outdated regulatory framework with one designed to better evaluate the effectiveness of a rail transit agency’s system safety program. The Secretary’s visit was the last stop on his four-day, five state GROW AMERICA Express bus tour highlighting the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure and to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill.
Reflecting new statutory safety authority established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the proposed rule issued by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) would give states more resources to increase oversight over rail transit systems. The proposed rule would require adoption and enforcement of federal and state safety laws, and require SSOAs to be financially and legally independent of the rail transit systems they oversee.
In addition, FTA would enhance its authority to review and approve each State Safety Oversight (SSO) program, including triennial audits, review of annual status reports, and certification of SSOAs. If states are not meeting the statutory criteria, FTA may withhold federal funds until an SSO program is certified. Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted for sixty days after its publication in the Federal Register.
“We must improve, modernize and transform rail transit safety oversight to provide the increased level of safety expected by the millions of passengers who use rail transit every day,” said Secretary Foxx. “Rail transit is a safe travel option, but we have an obligation and opportunity to make it even safer.”
“FTA appreciates the continued cooperation and engagement of our state and rail transit industry partners as we take this major step forward toward a new safety regulatory framework,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “We drafted the proposed rule to ensure it allows for the flexibility and scalability needed to provide effective safety benefits for passengers and employees of transit agencies of all sizes and operating environments.”
On February 2, the Obama Administration announced a plan to address the infrastructure deficit with a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal, building on the GROW AMERICA Act, which the Administration first released last year. The plan makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century.
The need for these investments is clear. Earlier this month, U.S. DOT released a landmark study,
“Beyond Traffic” .
that looked at the trends and choices facing American transportation over the next three decades. These included a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system that’s facing more frequent extreme weather events. A key takeaway of the study was that we need to keep investing in transportation for the sake of future generations, and the proposals included in GROW AMERICA would allow us to do just that.
The proposed SSO rule reflects the flexible, scalable principles of Safety Management Systems that focus on organization-wide safety policy, proactive hazard identification and risk informed decision-making as part of risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion (safety training and communications).
Also this week, FTA announced that it will publish a final interim safety certification training program designed to enhance the technical competencies and capabilities of individuals responsible for direct safety oversight of rail transit systems at agency, state and federal levels; and of individuals who conduct safety audits of these systems. The interim training program becomes effective ninety days from its publication in the Federal Register. FTA plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish the permanent provisions later this year.
- posted 2/20)
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN RAIL SAFETY AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today introduced legislation in the House of Commons that will enhance railway safety and make the rail industry and crude oil shippers more accountable to Canadians.
The new Safe and Accountable Rail Act proposes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act and Railway Safety Act. Changes include a new liability and compensation regime for federally regulated railways, including minimum insurance requirements; a compensation fund financed by levies on crude oil shippers; increased information-sharing provisions; and stronger oversight powers for the Minister and Transport Canada inspectors.
The new liability and compensation regime will be consistent with those the Government has introduced for other modes of transport, such as marine tankers and oil pipelines. It is based on the "polluter pays" principle and makes railways and shippers responsible for the cost of accidents, protecting taxpayers and communities by ensuring that adequate resources are available for compensation if an accident were to occur.
Proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act will broaden the powers of the Minister and inspectors to order railway companies and others to take specified measures or stop any activity deemed necessary for safe railway operations. The proposed amendments will also create new regulation-making powers requiring railway companies to share information with municipalities. These changes are part of the Government's commitment to strengthen oversight and increase collaboration between communities and the rail industry, addressing issues raised in the Transportation Safety Board's final report on the Lac-Mégantic derailment as well as concerns of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The Minister also announced the new Railway Safety Management System (SMS) Regulations, 2015. SMS Regulations require companies to develop and implement a formal framework that integrates safety into their day-to-day operations. The new regulations will help address recommendations made in the November 2013 Auditor General's report, and will reflect over 10 years of lessons learned in providing oversight of railway safety management systems. The new SMS Regulations will be published in Canada Gazette, Part II on February 25, 2015, and will come into effect on April 1, 2015.
- posted 2/20)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEB. 14 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 14, 2015.
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week was 525,224 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 14, 2015 were 288,959 carloads, up 6.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 236,265 containers and trailers, down 0.1 percent compared to 2014.
All 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by grain, up 21.5 percent to 23,262 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 17.9 percent to 31,428 carloads; and chemicals, up 9.3 percent to 31,878 carloads.
For the first six weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,723,449 carloads, up 5.7 percent from the same point last year, and 1,479,247 intermodal units, which was flat compared to last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first six weeks of 2015 was 3,202,696 carloads and intermodal units, up
3.0 percent from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 14, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 381,404 carloads, up 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 307,410 intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 688,814 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first six weeks of 2015 was 4,180,711 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 76,871 carloads for the week, up 7.8 percent, and 60,512 intermodal units, up 9.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first six weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 818,816 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.1 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,574 carloads for the week, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,633 intermodal units, up 8.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first six weeks of 2015 was 159,199 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 2/19)
CSX OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT UPDATE:
The Coast Guard, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, CSX, the West Virginia Departments of Environmental Protection and Military Affairs & Public Safety, including the National Guard, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and local agencies established a unified command in response to the West Virginia Train Derailment near Mount Carbon on the Kanawha River, Monday.
“The top priorities for response personnel remain the safety of the community and responders, and mitigating the impact to the environment,” said Capt. Lee Boone, Federal On Scene Coordinator for the West Virginia Train Derailment.
Response crews are continuing to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River as well as a creek near the tracks. The response crews were able to deploy about 500 feet of containment boom as a precautionary measure to limit potential impact on the environment. The use of additional boom material is being evaluated.
On-scene assessments have determined that 27 cars derailed and 19 were involved in fires. Response teams have removed the rail cars that were not involved in the derailment. Response teams are beginning to remove derailed cars that have not been involved in the fires. Several small fires continue to burn at the derailment site. When safe to do so, CSX will begin transferring oil from the damaged cars to other tanks for removal from the site.
No rail cars entered the Kanawha River in this incident.
The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars (107 tank cars and two buffer cars). It was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Virginia. All of the tank cars were the CPC 1232 models.
One person was treated for possible respiratory problems and released, but no other injuries have been reported. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.
A community outreach center has been established by CSX to address community needs as a result of the train derailment. The outreach center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Glass-In Riverside Room at the Glen Ferris Inn on U.S. Route 60 in Glen Ferris. Local residents can call 877-835-5279 for additional information or assistance.
- posted 2/18)
CSX AWARDS TRAIN MUSEUM $10,000 FOR SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS:
Representatives from CSX awarded the Robert W. Willaford Train Museum, located in Plant City, Florida, with $10,000 for safety improvements to update a sidewalk that currently lines up with a railroad track. They presented the check to City Commissioner Mike Sparkman and Robert Willaford and his wife, Felice. Also in attendance were volunteers and board members of the museum. In addition to the sidewalk work, the funds will go to promote railroad safety around the historic depot.
- posted 2/18)
- posted 2/18)
CN NOT PREPARED TO ACCEPT UNIFOR DEMAND FOR CASH PAYMENTS TO UNION'S POLITICAL AND COMMUNITY ACTION FUND:
CN said today the Unifor union in Canada continues to reject a fair company offer to reach a new collective agreement in line with settlements it has negotiated with three other unions. A key stumbling block is Unifor's demand that CN contribute cash to the union's political and community action fund – as a matter of principle, CN is not prepared to allow such a union agenda to take precedence over the interests of its employees.
Unifor represents approximately 4,800 CN employees in mechanical, intermodal, clerical and other areas of the company's business.
CN's competitive settlement offer to Unifor on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015 , called for a three-year agreement, with three per cent wage increases in each year and benefit improvements fully in line with what the company negotiated recently with the United Steelworkers (3,000 maintenance-of-way employees), Teamsters Canada locomotive engineers (1,800 employees), and the Teamsters Canada-Rail Canada Traffic Controllers (180 employees).
Unifor, in rejecting CN's settlement offer, has also refused to set aside its demand that CN make cash contributions to a union fund for political and community action.
Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "This is an issue of principle for us. CN is prepared to co-invest in charitable causes, but we are not prepared to support such a union agenda.
"We are offering several alternatives, including binding arbitration, to keep the process moving forward toward resolution. We will continue to use our best efforts to reach an agreement with Unifor.
"However, the company has now decided to modify some terms of the Unifor collective agreements, as permitted by the Canada Labour Code at this stage of the bargaining process, starting as of Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 . The targeted changes will help advance the Company's objectives of improving customer service and increasing efficiency. "
Simultaneously, CN will increase Unifor members' wages by two per cent, which is greater than the current inflation rate of 1.5 per cent. While CN has signed agreements with higher wage patterns, those were reached before the economy started softening and reflected the value to CN of deals reached amicably, without the threat of disruption or potential strike action.
The company believes a negotiated deal remains the best solution and continues to be committed to bargain in good faith for a renewal of the collective agreements as soon as possible.
- posted 2/18)
UPDATE ON CSX OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT:
CSX teams continue to work with first responders, local officials, the State of West Virginia, and the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Railroad Administration on the assessment and preliminary recovery from a derailment that occurred near Mount Carbon, West Virginia, on Monday, February 16. Overnight, CSX personnel and agencies continued their assessment of the derailment scene to verify the number of rail cars involved and the extent of the potential environmental impact. CSX estimates that approximately 25 tank cars derailed and 20 cars were involved in subsequent fires; the fires around the rail cars will be allowed to burn out. When safe to do so, CSX and its experts will begin transferring oil from the damaged cars to other tanks and those tanks subsequently removed from the site. Initial assessments have confirmed that several of the cars appear to be ruptured or leaking from valves.
No rail cars entered the Kanawha River in this incident.
CSX teams continue working to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the Kanawha River as well as a creek near the company’s tracks. The company also is in contact with public officials and investigative agencies to address their needs.
Approximately 100-125 residents of homes near the derailment site remain evacuated at this time. CSX is working with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to address residents’ needs, taking into account winter storm conditions. The company opened a Community Outreach Center Tuesday, February 17, at 8 a.m.; the center will remain open until every day 8 p.m. EST or later if needed. CSX has secured a number of hotel rooms for displaced residents and is assisting them in relocating from evacuation centers to the hotels. Information about the available hotels and other services is available by calling 1-877-TellCSX (1-877-835-5279).
The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars (107 tank cars and two buffer cars). It was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. All of the oil cars were the CPC 1232 models.
One person was treated for possible respiratory problems and released, but no other injuries were reported. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.
- posted 2/17)
CSX OPENS COMMUNITY OUTREACH CENTER FOR WEST VIRGINIA DERAILMENT:
CSX has established a community outreach center to address community needs as a result of the train derailment in Mount Carbon, West Virginia. The center which will respond to affected residents and businesses is located in the Glass-in Riverside Room at the Glen Ferris Inn, US Route 60, Glen Ferris, WV 25090. CSX representatives will be on hand to handle all issues related to inconveniences caused by the evacuation.
The center will be open starting Tuesday, February 17 from 8:00 am ET through 8:00 pm ET until further notice and hours will be extended as needed. CSX has secured a number of hotel rooms for displaced residents and those addresses are available by calling 1-877-TellCSX (835-5279). The immediate concern is to provide residents who have been evacuated from their homes with safe and warm housing for their families. Once the work week commences, any business loss matters will be addressed as quickly as possible when the breadth of the impact can be assessed.
CSX continues to coordinate with first responders and investigative agencies to assess the needs of the community.
- posted 2/17)
CSX OIL TRAIN DERAILS IN WEST VIRGINIA:
CSX teams are working with first responders on the derailment this afternoon of an oil train near Mount Carbon, West Virginia. At least one rail car appears to have ruptured and caught fire. The derailment has resulted in the precautionary evacuation of nearby communities, and precautionary suspension of operations at the Cedar Grove and Montgomery water treatment plants.
CSX is working with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to address residents’ needs, taking into account winter storm conditions. These efforts include shelters for residents who have been evacuated. CSX teams also are working with first responders to address the fire, to determine how many rail cars derailed, and to deploy environmental protective measures and monitoring on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River. The company also is working with public officials and investigative agencies to address their needs.
The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars and was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. One person was being treated for potential inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.
- posted 2/16)
CANADIAN PACIFIC STRIKE OVER, AS BOTH PARTIES AGREE TO BINDING ARBITRATION:
Canadian Pacific and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) today agreed to enter into binding arbitration, putting an end to the work stoppage by CP's locomotive engineers and conductors.
"This decision ensures both sides will get back to the table, and gets us back to moving Canada's economy forward," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "While we would have preferred a negotiated settlement, this is the right thing to do at this time."
An arbitrator will be appointed by the federal government. No further details are being released at this time.
On February 14, CP announced a tentative four-year agreement with its Unifor employees. Details of the tentative agreement are being withheld pending ratification by the Unifor membership.
(Canadian Pacific, Bryce Lee
- posted 2/16)
CN REACHES TENTATIVE LABOR AGREEMENT WITH TEAMSTERS UNION REPRESENTING LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS IN CANADA:
CN announced that it has negotiated a tentative labour agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union that represents approximately 1,800 of the company's locomotive engineers in Canada.
Details of the tentative settlement are being withheld pending ratification by TCRC members. The union expects to announce the results of the ratification vote by mid-April 2015.
- posted 2/16)
MBTA TO SUSPEND SERVICE THIS SUNDAY:
Due to the impending blizzard conditions, all MBTA services will be suspended Sunday, February 15th. There will be no Subway, Trolley, Commuter Rail, Bus, or Ferry service the entire day.
- posted 2/13)
CSX PREPARES FOR POSSIBLE CANADIAN STRIKE:
CSX is preparing for possible impacts to its Canadian operations as a result of unresolved negotiations between the CP and CN railroads and the TCRC (Teamsters) and Unifor unions, which represent several transportation and mechanical operating crafts.
CP Canadian rail workers could go on strike if a deal is not reached by 12:01 a.m. on February 15, 2015. A strike could result in halted or delayed shipments to and from Canada. CSX expects traffic would be most impacted in Buffalo and Detroit, where CSX interchanges with CP. At this point, normal CN operations are expected to continue.
CSX is intensely focused on continuing to serve customers' needs and is closely monitoring the situation while preparing contingency plans that would be activated in the event of a strike.
- posted 2/13)
MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR ISSUES STATEMENT REGQRDING MBTA GENERAL MANAGER RESIGNATION:
Today, Baker-Polito Administration spokesman Tim Buckley issued the following statement regarding Doctor Beverly Scott’s resignation as MBTA General Manager:
“The Governor and Lt. Governor were surprised to learn of Dr. Scott's resignation this afternoon. They thank her for her contribution to the Commonwealth and are grateful for her offer of assistance as the MTBA transitions to a new General Manager. The Governor looks forward to meeting with MTBA officials tomorrow, working with them to assess the issues that have plagued the agency in recent weeks and developing operational and maintenance plans moving forward.”
(Massachusetts Governor Baker's Press Office
- posted 2/12)
STRIKE ACTION AGAINST CP COULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON COMMUTER TRAIN SERVICES IN THE MONTREAL AREA:
Possible strike action against Canadian Pacific (CP) could have an impact on commuter train services in the Montréal area.
Indeed, users of the Candiac, Vaudreuil-Hudson and Saint-Jérôme lines may be forced to find another mode of transportation as early as Sunday February 15.
"We apologize for the inconveniences that a strike could cause," states Doug Finnson, president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC). "Our members will not be operating these trains during the time of a strike."
The Teamsters, Canada Industrial Relation Board and Canadian Pacific agreed that there are no essential services that need to be supplied in the event of a legal strike or lock-out including operating commuter and grain trains. Consequently, CP management personnel could be called to provide service on the three lines should strike action be taken.
Until then, meetings are scheduled between the rail carrier and the Teamsters. The union still hopes to obtain a negotiated settlement in the coming hours. The bargaining process continues to stall on the issues of installing surveillance cameras (event recorders) aboard locomotives as well as fatigue management.
- posted 2/12)
CSX NAMES MIKE PENDERGRASS AND JERMAINE SWAFFORD TO TOP OPERATIONS LEADERSHIP POSITIONS:
CSX today announced the appointment of two railroad veterans to key leadership positions in support of newly-named Executive Vice President-Operations Cindy Sanborn: Mike Pendergrass is promoted to vice president-transportation; and Jermaine Swafford is promoted to vice president regional transportation-southern region.
"Mike and Jermaine personify the CSX operations team's commitment to efficiency, great customer service, and a team mentality," said Cindy Sanborn, executive vice president-operations. "Both Mike and Jermaine are proven leaders who are well-prepared to help CSX capitalize on the many opportunities we see before us as we return to industry-leading operations, and I look forward to working with them to further serve our customers."
During his 30-year career in the railroad industry, including 26 years with CSX, Mike Pendergrass has served in increasingly critical leadership roles, holding positions within the special projects and labor relations organizations before being named vice president regional transportation-southern region in 2005. Pendergrass has overseen the evolution of CSX operations during some of the strongest growth years the company has experienced and helped integrate major strategic infrastructure projects seamlessly into the network. In his new role, Pendergrass will direct the daily operation of CSX's more than 1,200 trains that serve nearly two-thirds of the country's population.
Jermaine Swafford has risen through the operations ranks since he joined CSX in 1998, from assistant trainmaster, trainmaster, assistant terminal manager, terminal manager and assistant division manager in various locations before assuming the role of division manager in Florence and, most recently, in Atlanta. Under Swafford's leadership, the Atlanta Division has significantly improved operating metrics and progressed to first in the company's annual Service Excellence Pinnacle Award, which recognizes customer-centric behavior and key operating metrics. As vice president transportation-southern region, Swafford will bring the same level of focus and execution to integrated operations across the southern portion of CSX's network. He will also work closely with Bob Frulla, vice president transportation-northern region to accomplish the team's goals.
"CSX's customers are seeing growth in nearly all of the markets we serve, and the CSX operations team is committed to delivering service excellence to support that growth," Sanborn said. "I am confident that Mike, Jermaine, and the entire CSX operations team will continue the positive momentum of the past few months while achieving the productivity targets we have set for ourselves."
(CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 2/12)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEB. 7, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 7, 2015.
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week was 511,563 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 7, 2015 were 273,648 carloads, up 4.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014 while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 237,915 containers and trailers, down 3.3 percent compared to 2014.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by grain, up 15.9 percent to 21,179 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 8.7 percent to 30,259 carloads; and forest products, up 7.3 percent to 11,422 carloads. The two commodity groups that posted decreases for the week ending Feb. 7, 2015 were farm products, down 2.9 percent to 16,290 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 0.1 percent to 15,429 carloads.
For the first five weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,434,490 carloads, up 5.4 percent from the same point last year, and 1,242,982 intermodal units, which was flat compared to last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first five weeks of 2015 was 2,677,472 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.9 percent from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 7, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,589 carloads, up 5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 303,894 intermodal units, down 0.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 667,483 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first five weeks of 2015 was 3,491,897 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 75,456 carloads for the week, up 7.3 percent, and 56,229 intermodal units, up 11 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first five weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 681,433 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent
Mexican railroads reported 14,485 carloads for the week, down 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,750 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first five weeks of 2015 was 132,992 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.3 percent from the same point last year.
(MBTA - posted 2/12)
OSCAR MUNOZ NAMED PRESIDENT, CSX CORPORATION:
CSX Corporation today announced that its Board of Directors unanimously elected Oscar Munoz as president, CSX Corporation, overseeing operations, sales and marketing, human resources, service design and information technology. Munoz assumes this new role effective immediately and also remains chief operating officer.
"Oscar has served CSX with distinction as both chief operating officer and chief financial officer, and I am proud to welcome him to this new role," said Michael J. Ward, chairman and chief executive officer. "Oscar's insights and experience in his critical CSX roles over the past 12 years, combined with his extensive executive experience at major multinationals before joining our company, position CSX to capitalize on a dynamic global market and growing demand for freight rail services, today and into the future."
Before joining CSX in 2003, Munoz served as chief financial officer and vice president of AT&T Consumer Services. He also has held key executive positions with other major corporations including The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, Inc.
"It is a privilege to take on this role at a time when CSX is becoming stronger than ever," said Munoz. "Together with our 31,000 talented employees and this experienced leadership team, CSX is intensifying the execution of its core strategy to capitalize on the many growth opportunities before us and create sustainable value for our customers, our shareholders and the communities we serve."
CSX also today announced the promotion of Vice President and Chief Transportation Officer Cindy Sanborn to the position of executive vice president-operations, reporting to Munoz, effective immediately. Over more than 25 years with CSX, Sanborn has risen through the operating department to a number of senior leadership roles, including vice president of Northern Region operations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Conrail, the Belt Railway of Chicago and the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad.
"Cindy is uniquely qualified to lead CSX's operations in this complex environment, with an unparalleled breadth and depth of experience and strong relationships across our industry," Munoz said. "She has helped transform our team with her focus on customers and operational efficiency as well as key contributions to diversity recruiting and employee development."With respected leaders moving into new roles at the highest levels, I am confident in CSX's ability to continue gaining momentum to deliver on its commitments to shareholders, customers and our employees," said Michael Ward. "We look forward to this new era of leadership at CSX."
(CSX - posted 2/11)
TOM E. DAILEY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES GRANTS:
On February 7 the Board of Directors of the Tom E. Dailey Foundation is pleased to announce the approval of the following 11 grant awards totaling $40,300 at its February 7, 2015 quarterly board meeting. Since its creation in 2013, the Tom E. Dailey Foundation has awarded grants totaling $345,300.
(Tom E. Dailey Foundation - posted 2/10)
National Capital Trolley Museum - Silver Spring, MD $2,500
This grant will partially fund renovation of Capital Traction Company 522, a street car built in 1898 for use in the nation’s capital. The undercarriage of the car is not original and interferes with the support of the car body. The museum has located an original undercarriage for replacement. Since 1965, this organization has operated in Montgomery County, Maryland, including a collection of 17 street cars, thousands of photographs and documents, and hundreds of trolley ephemera. In fiscal year 2013, the museum hosted 12,611 visitors.
Center of Science and Industry (COSI) - Columbus, OH $10,000
The grant will support COSI Academy scholarships, COSI’s newly-opened planetarium and a historical movie program. COSI Academy is a career exploration program for high school students considering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. The new COSI Planetarium, with state-of-the-art digital projection technology, will enable visitors to experience this dynamic learning tool to explore space. The COSI historical movie program presentation of the film “Jerusalem” will take viewers on a tour of one of the world’s oldest cities with its rich history and tapestry of cultures.
Western New York Railway Historical Society - Orchard Park, NY $2,000
The grant will partially fund an upgrade to the security system at the Williamsville Depot. The depot has suffered two break-ins and broken windows. The society was formed in 1980 to preserve the Buffalo area’s rich rail history. They have 40 pieces of rolling stock, five of which are leased to an excursion service. Their museum, the Heritage Discover Center, is on-site along with two passenger depots. They have 450 member volunteers that serve the Williamsville community of 122,000.
Rufus Porter Museum, Inc. - Bridgton, ME $1,800
This grant award will fully fund the creation of a model of the Broadway Elevated Railroad based on Rufus Porter's design and drawing, which was published in Scientific American, a publication he started and edited. The Broadway Elevated Railroad model will become part of their permanent collection and be on display in the Rufus Porter invention gallery to immerse visitors in how creative thought shapes their future. The Rufus Porter Museum was founded in 2005 to preserve the works of Rufus Porter (1792-1884), an itinerant artist, inventor, and writer.
Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Inc. - Chama, NM $5,000
One of this New Mexico-based organization’s primary missions is to preserve and restore the most unique examples of Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RG) narrow gauge historic rolling stock, some dating back as early as 1880. This project is the restoration of Tourist Sleeper Car 0252/470—emblematic of the D&RG in its prime operating years. Underway since 2009 (and estimated to be completed by 2018), this restoration project will see Car 470 restored to its original use upon leaving the Pullman factory in Detroit in 1889. The group has restored several notable examples of rolling stock on the D&RG, and their restoration and preservation efforts have been nationally recognized. In 2012, they received the Preserve America Stewards award by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, Inc. - North Freedom, WI $1,000
This Wisconsin-based group is restoring the East Jordan & Southern No. 2 passenger car originally built in 1864 for the Grand Trunk Railway. The museum obtained the car in 1963 when the EJ&S ceased operations. The restoration will proceed in two phases: first, the exterior will be restored to provide a weather-tight structure, then interior repairing and refinishing. The group operates a museum to preserve and interpret the railroad legacy for the educational benefit of the public and a 4-mile demonstration railroad during the summer.
Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum - Wallace, ID $2,500
Funding will assist with replacement of the depot’s cedar roof. This 30-years-old group owns the Northern Pacific depot/museum. The depot was built in 1901 and served as a passenger and freight depot for nearly 100 years. In 1976 it was the first building in downtown historic Wallace, Idaho, to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1984 the depot was relocated to make way for the Interstate 90 Coeur d’Alene spur. The structure was refurbished and reopened in 1986 as the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum. The depot is now in the heart of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District. It is in need of a new roof, and the group is fortunate enough to have the original plans, which call for #1 cedar shingles. In September 2016, the group will host the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association national convention.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad - Peninsula, OH $7,500
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is restoring their Saint Lucie Sound luxury observation car built in 1946, with the overall restoration cost is projected to be $242,000. CVSR was founded in 1972 by a group of concerned citizens who felt that passenger rail should be preserved and enjoyed along the historic Valley Line between Cleveland and Akron. CVSR exists today to provide an alternative way for the public to engage in Cuyahoga Valley National Park—Ohio’s only national park. Trains travel 26 miles from Independence, passing through the 33,000 acre national park to Akron and back. On average, 180,000 passengers travel the route annually.
Douglas County Museum Foundation - Roseburg, OR $1,500
This well-established organization (Museum, 45 years; Foundation, 32 years) is restoring Oregon & California (O&C) Railcar #3001, which is believed to be the only remaining O&C railcar in existence. The restoration of the railcar and the O&C rail station (a separate project) will help the museum preserve this one-of-a-kind artifact and in doing so help the museum tell the impactful story of the Oregon & California Railroad through the exhibit space, historic train themed film showings, and other thematically focused events..The total cost for the project is $195,000 of which DCMF has already raised $145,000 . While the museum’s primary focus is on the local community and area school children, it serves about 10,000 visitors per year of which 35% are out of area.
Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation - Youngstown, OH $1,500
Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation, a 21-year-old organization, is undertaking the restoration of Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. 0-4-0 No. 58, a 23” gauge steam locomotive built by the H. K. Porter Co. in 1937 for use at the Jones & Laughlin Pittsburgh Works. The locomotive is unique because of its heavy design with a high pressure boiler for extremely high traction in order to haul the tonnage of ingots and molds. The grant will assist with fabrication of the previously removed cab section back to its original design along with the saddle type water tank. In addition to restoring the locomotive, the project includes 300 feet of running track so that when the locomotive is fired, its use in the historically important Youngstown steel industry can be demonstrated regularly to the community and visitors.
Venice Historic Preservation League, Inc. - Venice, FL $5,000
Venice Historic Preservation League is taking the lead to bring a circus train car to the historic Venice train depot by acquiring, refurbishing and displaying on existing rail a car representing the living quarters of circus performers during the time that the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus wintered in Venice. An exhibit area will provide displays about the relationship between the circus and the railroad, both locally and nationally. Exhibits will also educate the public about the many interdependencies between the circus and local community.
AMTRAK TRAIN DAYS TO CELEBRATE REASONS TO RIDE:
In 2015, America’s Railroad® is launching Amtrak Train Days (ATD) to celebrate with local communities why trains matter and reasons to ride.
Due to the past success of the “National Train Day”, Amtrak is expanding its community program from multiple events on a single day to individual events over the course of spring, summer and fall.
Amtrak Train Days will demonstrate why “Trains Matter” by sharing with the local communities we serve the ‘reasons to ride’ the train. ATD will focus on reaching current and new audiences across America to reinforce the importance, benefits and value of passenger train travel.
ATD will officially kick off on May 9, 2015 at Chicago Union Station and then will travel across the country during the summer and fall. ATD celebrations will feature a combination of outreach tools, including a dedicated tour of the Amtrak Exhibit Train in select markets, interactive displays of the Amtrak experience at events sponsored by community organizations, Amtrak employee guest speakers, media and event promotions, and an ATD toolkit to support local community activities.
Communities from across the nation are invited to join in the celebration of passenger train travel by hosting their own ATD events during 2015. For more information visit
. (Amtrak - posted 2/09)
CN CONTINUES RECORD-SETTING GRAIN MOVEMENTS:
Claude Mongeau , president and chief executive officer of CN, with the grain supply chain in Western Canada .
By the end of January 2015 -- half-way through the 2014-15 Western Canada grain crop year -- CN had transported 18 per cent more loaded grain covered hoppers in Western Canada than during the comparable period of the 2013-14 crop year.
During the 2013-14 crop year, CN helped Canada to dispose of its largest-ever crop -- at 77 million tonnes -- and set an all-time record for grain exports at 42 million tonnes. CN's strong performance in 2014-15 is helping Canada's grain supply chain to be on track for another banner year.
The cumulative grain tonnage moved by CN since March 2014 , when the federal government instituted minimum grain volumes for the major railways, has exceeded the company's mandated volumes by two million metric tonnes.
Mongeau said: "CN is working closely with its grain customers to make sure all end market segments? receive proper service, and we are current in all the corridors we serve for grain destined to overseas and North American markets.
"CN is proud of its performance and the role it's playing in helping Canadian grain growers efficiently reach world markets with exceptional volumes of grain for a second straight year."
- posted 2/09)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCES $120 MILLION LOAN FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO CHICAGO BLUE LINE:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the closing of a $120 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for major improvements to the Blue Line of CTA’s “L” rail service, which will upgrade tracks and stations between the downtown Loop and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Secretary Foxx participated in a ceremony in Chicago with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“Every Chicagoan knows how important it is to be able to take a convenient, reliable trip on the L to and from O’Hare,” said Secretary Foxx. “By upgrading the Blue Line, this project will improve access to 21st century transportation for the entire region. Going forward, we want to bring these opportunities to other parts of the country, working with Congress to develop a long-term funding solution for transit, roads, bridges and other crucial infrastructure.”
Significant upgrades to the track, power supply, and signal system along the 19-mile stretch of the Blue Line between the Loop and O’Hare Airport stations will reduce and eliminate “slow zones,” resulting in faster, more reliable service. The over 80,000 riders who use the Grand-O’Hare branch daily will also see improvements to stations along the line to enhance accessibility and comfort, from brighter lights and cleaner tunnels to new elevators and artwork.
“The Blue Line is critical to the city of Chicago and the TIFIA loan reduces financing costs to ensure the CTA can complete this project and have a more robust capital plan going forward,” said Sylvia Garcia, DOT Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs.
In addition to the $120 million TIFIA loan, the four-year, $408.7 million Blue Line renovation (known as “Your New Blue”) will be supported by $16 million in DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds awarded to CTA in 2012, with the remainder coming from state, local, and other sources. The project represents the largest upgrade of the Blue Line since it was extended to O’Hare in 1984.
“For residents and visitors alike, the L is a lifeline to jobs, attractions, events, and all that Chicago has to offer,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “With this project, CTA, the City of Chicago, and the State of Illinois continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve.”
The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Each dollar of federal funding can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment. Since its launch, the TIFIA program has helped 49 projects turn more than $21 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation assistance into more than $76 billion in infrastructure investment across America.
As part of the President’s Build America program, the Department has revamped the TIFIA website with a cleaner design, helpful tools, and interactive map that make it easier than ever to learn about how TIFIA helps projects get built using innovative financing. The new site is located at
The Obama Administration has proposed the GROW AMERICA Act to expand financing options under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which leverages Federal dollars by facilitating private participation in transportation projects and encouraging innovative financing mechanisms that help advance projects more quickly. The Act will provide $6 billion over 6 years, which will result in $60 billion of direct loans. In addition, the Act increases the accessibility of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program by reducing the cost of obtaining a loan for short line railroads and increases the availability of Private Activity Bonds by raising the existing $15 billion cap to $19 billion.
(USDOT - posted 2/06)
MTA AWARDS CONTRACT TO BUILD LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD'S FUTURE TERMINAL UNDER GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it has awarded a contract to GCT Constructors, JV, a joint venture consisting of Schiavone Construction Co. and John P. Picone Inc., to build the future Long Island Rail Road concourse at Grand Central Terminal. The $404.8 million dollar contract, which with options could increase to a total of $428.9 million, was awarded after a competitive request for proposal process that drew nine other firms.
Funding for this Contract will come from a Federal Grant through the Federal Transit Administration and MTA local funds.
Under the contract, workers will build the architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical facilities, escalators and elevators, that will comprise the future LIRR 375,000 square-foot passenger train concourse and related ventilation plants at 44th and 50th Streets.
Work in the concourse includes building 17 deep escalators at 45th, 46th, 47th and 48th Streets and installing elevators connecting the LIRR passenger concourse to the train station caverns 140 feet below Park Avenue. The work also includes installation of emergency egress stairs and the associated architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical finishes and equipment.
The contract includes major civil work to create passenger connections from the new LIRR Concourse up to Grand Central’s Lower Level Dining Concourse, Grand Central’s Biltmore Room on the Upper Level, the 47th Street Cross Passageway, and the 45th Street cross passageway. For the first time since construction activities began, work at the landmark station will be proceeding in view of the public.
“Up to this point, East Side Access work at Grand Central Terminal has been largely unseen by the public. This contract finally brings the construction from 140 feet below-ground up to the dining concourse at GCT and in other places where the public will finally start to see what’s been going on right underneath their feet,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President, MTA Capital Construction.
The contract also requires mechanical and electrical fit-out of ventilation buildings at 44th and 50th Streets, including installation of eight large fans as well as associated system equipment. The ventilation building structures have been built as part of prior contracts.
“This world class project will be an economic game-changer for New York City and Long Island. There is no other transit infrastructure project in the United States that is as complex as East Side Access or carries as much economic promise for the region it will serve,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast.
The East Side Access project will bring trains from all 11 branches of the Long Island Rail Road into a new terminal being built beneath Grand Central Terminal. The new connection will increase the LIRR’s capacity into Manhattan, and dramatically shorten travel time for Long Island and eastern Queens commuters traveling to the east side of Manhattan. It will also provide easier access to JFK airport from Grand Central Terminal by bringing customers to Jamaica Station, where they can transfer to the AirTrain
(MTA - posted 2/05)
AAR REPORTS INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR FIRST MONTH OF 2015 AND FOR WEEK ENDING JANUARY 31, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for January 2015, with both carload and intermodal volume increasing compared with January 2014.
For the first month of 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,165,909 units, up 70,522 or 3.4 percent over January 2014. The average of 541,477 combined units per week in January 2015 was the second highest for a January on record, behind only January 2006.
U.S. freight railroads originated 1,160,842 carloads in January 2015, up 5.6 percent or 61,864 carloads over January 2014. Total carloads averaged 290,211 per week in January 2015, the most for January since 2008. For intermodal containers and trailers, U.S. railroads originated 1,005,067 units in January 2015, up 8,658 units or 0.9 percent over January 2014, and an average of 251,267 units per week, which is the highest weekly average for January in rail industry history.
In January 2015, 18 of the 20 carload commodity categories the AAR tracks saw carload gains compared with January 2014. Commodities with the biggest carload increases were coal, which was up by 19,078 carloads, or 4.4 percent over last year; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 14,922 carloads, or 22.1 percent; grain, up 8,955 carloads, or 10.4 percent; chemicals, up 4,673 carloads, or 4 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 3,981 carloads or 6.9 percent.
Excluding coal, carloads were up 42,786 carloads, or 6.4 percent in January 2015 over January 2014. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. rail carloads were up 33,831 carloads, or 5.8 percent in January 2015.
"January was a good start to the year for U.S. railroads, helped by the fact that the winter so far this year hasn't been nearly as bad as it was last year," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "The AAR recently estimated that U.S. railroads spent a record $27 billion on capital spending and maintenance expenses in 2014, and we're projecting $29 billion in 2015. This massive spending is making it possible for railroads to move their customers' freight more efficiently and reliably and steadily recover from 2014's service issues."
Week Ending Jan. 31, 2015 and North American Traffic
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending January 31, 2015 was 548,476 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.9 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 298,568 carloads, up 10.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 249,910 containers and trailers, up 1.1 percent compared to 2014.
Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by nonmetallic minerals, up 18.4 percent to 31,725 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, up 17 percent to 15,503 carloads; and grain, up 15.7 percent to 24,225 carloads. The lone commodity group to post a decrease compared with the same week in 2014 was the category of miscellaneous carloads, down 10.7 per cent to 6,870 carloads for the one week.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 31, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 393,756 carloads, up 10.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 322,135 intermodal units, up 6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 715,891 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first four weeks of 2015 was 2,822,065 carloads and intermodal units, up 5 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 79,791 carloads for the week, up 13 percent, and 61,500 intermodal units, up 32.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first four weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 549,748 carloads, containers and trailers, up 12.7 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,397 carloads for the week, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,725 intermodal units, up 3.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first four weeks of 2015 was 106,408 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 2/05)
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES METRO-NORTH RAILROAD WILL RESUME SERVICE ON HARLEM LINE FOR AM COMMUTE:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced tonight that Metro-North will resume train service on the Harlem Line tomorrow morning for the first time since Tuesday night’s collision between a passenger train and a SUV near Valhalla Station.
Metro-North customers should expect delays as trains will have to slow down as they pass through the work zone at the site of the accident.
The first train to operate over the crossing will be the 4:26 a.m. departure from Southeast, which is due into Grand Central at 5:30 a.m.
Governor Cuomo said: “The MTA is working non-stop through the night to rebuild the damaged section of track and restore service in time for the morning commute. I want to thank everyone for their tireless efforts in the wake of this devastating accident. My thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of the victims of Tuesday night's tragedy during this painful time.”
The accident had forced Metro-North to suspend service between Pleasantville and North White Plains relying on buses to successfully bridge the gap for thousands of customers while investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted the initial on-site component of their investigation.
Late this afternoon, the NTSB gave Metro-North permission to clear the wreckage from the crash site and workers using a high-rail crane removed the damaged automobile at about 5:30 PM. A locomotive was then attached to the south end of the disabled M-7 train and the eight-car train was towed to the Metro-North yard in North White Plains.
Workers from Metro-North’s Power, Track and Signal Departments then began the task of rebuilding some 500 feet of electrified third rail. Workers also had to repair damaged circuits, inspect the running rail and test signals damaged in the accident and subsequent fire.
Commerce Street will remain closed to vehicular traffic until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation, which is expected to occur mid-afternoon Thursday.
(MTA - posted 2/05)
NEW ENGLAND RAILROAD SCENE SLIDE SHOW:
The New York Society of Model Engineers, Inc. presents
The New England Railroad Scene
A Slide Show & Discussion by Rail Historian
He began his photographic collection in the late 1940's and early 50's in the areas around Keene, NH, Boston & Springfield, Mass., taking special interest in the Boston and Maine. He later expanded his interests to include the New York Central and the New Haven, during the 50's & 60's, and "hired on" to the New Haven Railroad in 1956 as a tower man working his way up to the position of trainmaster at Grand Central Terminal, in New York. Along with his photographs he will be discussing the operations of these lines that he has gained through his years of first hand experience.
For additional information visit the website http://www.modelengineers.org.
(New York Society of Model Engineers - posted 2/04)
February 6, 2015
At 8:00 pm
(Doors Open 7:30 pm)
RUTHERFORD AMBULANCE CORPS MEETING ROOM,
44 AMES AVENUE,
RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY 07070.
One Block from the Rutherford Train Station
Parking in Municipal Lot Across Street
NATIONAL TRAIN DAY BECOMES AMTRAK TRAIN DAYS:
For the past seven years, over 300 communities in all 50 states have celebrated their love of trains on National Train Day. This year, Amtrak is expanding the celebration to better support all communities and evolve it into a traveling, community-centric experience under the new name of
Amtrak Train Days.
Amtrak Train Days is kicking off at Chicago Union Station on May 9th, and then we hit the rails, traveling to over 20 locations across the country May through October. While the touring event can’t stop in every community, Amtrak invites local stations, state partners, rail industry colleagues and communities to join in the celebration of train travel by hosting their own Amtrak Train Days events, whether on May 9, as part of the kick-off, or during a local event that your community chooses on another date.
(Amtrak - posted 2/04)
HARLEM LINE COLLISION UPDATE:
MTA Chairman & CEO Thomas Prendergast and Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti are working today in collaboration with the National Transportation Safety Board on its investigation regarding last evening’s collision between a passenger train and SUV near Valhalla Station. MTA Metro-North Railroad is accompanying the NTSB with its initial on-site investigation of the incident.
MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said: “The entire MTA family’s thoughts are with the relatives and loved ones of the victims of last night’s tragedy. We are tremendously saddened by this tragic accident, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them. We also thank the first responders who assisted with safely removing the passengers from the trains and transporting those who were injured to area hospitals. And we extend our gratitude to the American Red Cross, local hospitals and communities who have provided care and assistance during this difficult time, and Town of Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi for making Town Hall available.”
Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti said: “We want Metro-North’s customers to know that they can remain confident that their safety, and the safety of our employees, is always the first priority in everything we do. We will work closely with the NTSB and local officials to determine the exact cause of this tragedy, and work to ensure such incidents are not repeated.”
For people who had loved ones who may have been affected by the accident, Metro-North has established a family assistance center at the Office of the Westchester County Medical Examiner, 10 Dana Road, Valhalla. Information also is available at 1-800-METRO-INFO (800-638-7646). MTA PD have also set up a hotline at (718) 361-2402 for passengers and family members affected by the accident to report missing persons, file claims, inquire about missing property, etc.
Metro-North train service will remain suspended between Pleasantville and North White Plains until further notice due to this incident. Limited bus/train service for Upper Harlem Line customers is available on the website at
As the NTSB announced this morning, the train will remain until the NTSB completes the on-site investigation and the train will then be removed. At that time Metro-North will make repairs and regular service through this area will resume
(MTA - posted 2/04)
MONTREAL ADOPTS NEW GUIDELINES FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS NEAR RAILWAY OPERATIONS:
The City of Montreal has become the first major urban area in Canada to adopt the Guidelines for New Development in Proximity to Railway Operations into its long-term development plan. The guidelines – developed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Railway Association of Canada (RAC) as part of their joint Proximity Initiative – address railway-community issues concerning noise, vibration, and safety.
"We're very pleased to see the proximity guidelines included in Montreal's long-term vision," said Sean Finn, FCM-RAC Proximity Initiative Co-Chair. "Ultimately, this will provide for safer, more livable conditions for Montrealers moving forward."
The Montreal Agglomeration Council – which represents the City of Montreal and 15 independent cities on the island of Montreal – approved Montreal's Development Plan on Jan. 29. The plan will steer the city's development and land use planning over the next 10 years, and identifies requirements – such as setback distances and vibration thresholds – which must be met if sensitive land uses are proposed adjacent to a main railway line or yard. Developers must also fulfill the guidelines' requirements when completing a viability assessment to ensure safety.
"Montreal is a built up environment with many neighbourhoods in transition," said Proximity Initiative Co-Chair and mayor of Marwayne, Alta., Jenelle Saskiw. "In this case, the guidelines concerning redevelopment, infill and conversions are particularly relevant."
The Province of Quebec and the Montreal Metropolitan Community will review the updated plan before the cities of the agglomeration update their respective urban plans.
In September, the City of Montreal won the first-ever Merrill Henderson Award for its proactive approach to identifying and planning for new residential developments in proximity to railway operations.
"We appreciate the commitment of (Lachine mayor and past FCM president) Claude Dauphin and (Montreal Executive Committee Member responsible for Urban Planning) Russell Copeman," said Proximity Initiative Project Manager, Cynthia Lulham. "The final outcome reflects their continued support."
( Railway Association of Canada
- posted 2/04)
FATAL METRO-NORTH GRADE CROSSING INCIDENT:
At 7:08 p.m. tonight a northbound Metro-North Harlem Line commuter train struck a black Jeep Cherokee at the Commerce Avenue grade crossing in Hawthorne, N.Y., killing the driver and six passengers on board the train. According to news reports, the driver got out to look at the rear of the Jeep, then returned inside. She then drove forward, hitting the train. The collision resulted in a fire that gutted the lead emu of the train, resulting in fatal injuries to five passengers. The train departed New York at 5:44 p.m. and was destined for Brewster, on the railroad's Harlem Line. (posted 2/03)
BLET MEMBERS RATIFY CONTRACT WITH NORFOLK SOUTHERN:
Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with Norfolk Southern (NS).
Ballots were counted on January 29, 2015, and the agreement governs rates of pay and work rules for roughly 4,500 locomotive engineers. Health and welfare benefits for NS locomotive engineers will be bargained nationally starting this year.
BLET National President thanked all members of the negotiating team, including Vice President Rick Gibbons and General Chairmen D.L. Dehart, NS-Northern Lines, K.S. Peek, NS-Eastern Lines, and M.L. Wallace, NS-Southern Lines.
"These Brothers deserve thanks for their hard work and determination throughout these contract negotiations," President Pierce said. "I also thank our members for supporting the negotiating team throughout the process and for taking the time to vote; I am particularly pleased that nearly 63% of our NS members took this duty of BLET membership so seriously. This contract will help maintain the quality of life our members have earned through their professionalism, hard work and dedication to the craft."
(BLET - posted 2/03)
U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY ANTHONY FOXX UNVEILS PRESIDENT'S BOLD $94.7 BILLION INVESTMENT IN AMERICA'S INFRASTRUCTURE FUTURE:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced President Obama’s $94.7 billion Fiscal Year 2016 Budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The proposal makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century. Speaking at a town hall at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, Secretary Foxx today highlighted the President’s budget proposal, which notably includes funding to advance research and autonomous vehicles, while announcing his report “Beyond Traffic,” a look at future trends and choices that will impact America’s transportation system over the next three decades. Watch the Secretary’s Google event live on YouTube at 3:00 pm PST/6:00 pm EST by clicking
“Our budget proposal lays the foundation for a future where our transportation infrastructure meets the demands of a growing population and an economy that depends on the free flow of freight,” said Secretary Foxx. “This Administration is looking towards the horizon – the future – but to do this we need Congress’ partnership to pass a long-term reauthorization to put Americans to work rebuilding America.”
The last year has demonstrated the pitfalls of repeated short term funding extensions and is why the President’s FY 2016 budget creates additional certainty with a six-year $478 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal that would improve America’s highways, ports, and transit networks. The proposal would better ensure these systems are safe, and support the development of a high-performance rail system. The proposed budget would be paid for in part with $238 billion from transition revenues generated from pro-growth business tax reform.
Tomorrow, Secretary Foxx and FTA Acting Administrator McMillian will host a press call to amplify DOT’s priorities in the President’s budget and highlight FTA’s New Starts program.
(USDOT - posted 2/02)
Closing the Infrastructure Deficit:
In the last six years, Congress has passed 32 short-term measures that have failed to adequately address the needs of our aging infrastructure. To keep our roads and bridges in good condition, all levels of government--federal, state, and local - will need to spend at a minimum $124 billion annually; current spending is at $100 billion. For transit projects alone, there is an $86 billion backlog in maintenance needs that grows each year.
In order to tackle our infrastructure deficit and support job creation, the six-year budget includes $317 billion to rebuild America’s roads and bridges, an increase of almost 29 percent over current investment in our highway system. To help meet growing demand, the budget provides more than $143 billion to create and improve transit and passenger rail service.
The budget provides $18 billion for multi-modal freight programs to strengthen America’s global competitiveness and support the President’s “Made In America” trade agenda. In 2013, exports of goods and services reached an all-time high of $2.3 trillion, supporting 11.3 million good paying American jobs across the country. Building on the success of the 2010 National Export Initiative (NEI), the Administration has launched NEI/NEXT to help more American businesses export to more overseas markets.
To encourage private sector investment, the budget includes $1 billion annually for credit assistance for nationally or regionally significant transportation projects through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Program. The budget would also create a new Office of the Assistant Secretary for Innovative Finance to manage the Department’s credit programs and help projects develop plans to utilize innovative financing.
The FY 2016 Budget reinforces the Department’s commitment to safety, creating a new Office of Safety Oversight housed in the Office of the Secretary to improve safety efforts across all modes of transportation. The six year proposal increases funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by an average of 20% over current investment levels, providing $6 billion to address safety defects on our highways. This includes $31 million in FY 2016 for NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) to enhance our ability to monitor data, find defects sooner, and strengthen NHTSA’s ability to conduct investigations of vehicles with suspected defects.
To improve safety on our commuter systems, the budget provides $3 billion over six years to help with the implementation of Positive Train Control. In addition, $29 billion would be provided for targeted infrastructure investments for deficient roads and bridges through the Critical Immediate Safety Investments Program, including $7.35 billion for rural communities.
Promoting Innovation & Modernization:
Building on the Department’s commitment to safety on America’s roads, the budget invests $935 million over six years in the future of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), including $158 million in FY 2016 to accelerate research on vehicle automation and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology.
As cars exchange safety data on speed, direction, and relative position to surrounding vehicles and infrastructure, research estimates that V2V technology has the potential to reduce 70 to 80 percent of vehicle crashes. Such innovative technology will help American workers and goods travel faster and safer on our roads.
To modernize and improve NHTSA’s data collection tools, the budget includes $41.7 million in FY 2016 to establish data collections sites and expand the agencies analytical capacity.
In addition, the FY 2016 budget includes $956 million to continue efforts to modernize America’s air-traffic control system and help transition from a ground-based radar system to a more accurate, satellite-based system of the future, known as NextGen.
AMTRAK HOOSIER STATE TRAIN CONTINUES TO OPERATE:
Amtrak will continue to operate the Hoosier State train between Indianapolis and Chicago under an Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) contract extension through April 1, 2015. A previous extension expires on Jan. 31.
The 60-day service agreement allows extra time to complete long-term contract negotiations for Amtrak to continue operating the Hoosier State with portions of the service being provided by INDOT contractors. INDOT is negotiating renewal of the service on behalf of the state, Beech Grove, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Rensselaer, Tippecanoe County and West Lafayette.
The four-days-weekly Hoosier State (Trains 850 & 851) -- together with the three-days-weekly Amtrak Cardinal (Trains 50 & 51) -- provides daily service between Indianapolis and Chicago and enables passengers to reach the national Amtrak network.
Tickets are available at Amtrak.com, 800-USA-RAIL and other sales channels, including Amtrak mobile apps. Adult fares range from $24 to $48 each way and are subject to discounts and Amtrak Guest Rewards points.
(Amtrak - posted 1/30)
FINAL PHASE OF 104 ST. AND 88 ST. A LINE STATION RENEWALS COMPLETED:
Beginning at 5:00 a.m., Monday, February 2, A Subway Line customers will once again have access to the Manhattan-bound sides of the 104 St and 88 St stations along the Liberty Avenue Line in Queens. The five-month station renewal project is part of a major $39 million capital project that will see the complete renewal of five stations along the Liberty Avenue A Subway Line.
On May 12, 2014, the Queens-bound sides of the 104 St and 88 St stations were the first two platforms to close for renewal work. This work was successfully completed on September 29, and work began on the Manhattan-bound platforms on October 13, 2014. During the closures, customers were able to take advantage of free shuttle bus service to nearby open stations.
“For these stations, originally opened in the early 1900’s, these improvements will create significantly better conditions for our customers,” said NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding while we carried out this important work.”
Improvements at both the 104 St and 88 St stations include repairs to staircases, mezzanine floors, doors, windows, and interior and exterior walls. Each station was painted and canopies, windscreen panels and railings were replaced. In addition, structural steel repairs were made to the girders supporting the subway platforms at both stations, as well as ADA improvements which consisted of repairs to the tactile warning strips at the platform’s edge. Aside from the component improvements, customers will also benefit from new lighting in the mezzanine and artwork to be installed at the completion of construction.
MTA Arts & Design commissioned five artists to create durable, vibrant metal artwork for installation in the platform windscreens at the five Liberty Line stations. At 104 St, “On the Right Track” by artist Beatrice Coron features 24 cut stainless steel panels with hand-soldering. Representing a giant deck of 24 playing cards, each image reveals an upbeat mood that passengers may choose to adopt for the day. Haresh Lalvani created “MORPHING88,” consisting of 24 stainless steel sculptural panels. Inspired by the geography of the distance and angles of the streets located adjacent to the 88 St station, each panel is unique with patterns generated through the use of an algorithm and a mathematical formula.
Following the successful completion of the 104 St and 88 St stations, the next station scheduled for renewal along the Liberty Line is Rockaway Blvd. In keeping with our goal to inconvenience customers as little as possible, the Far Rockaway/Lefferts Blvd-bound platform of the Rockaway Blvd station is slated to close for approximately 14 weeks, between February 2015 and May 2015 for renewal work. During this period, Far Rockaway/Lefferts Blvd-bound A Subway Line service will skip Rockaway Blvd.
Service notices will be posted in all stations along the Liberty Avenue line prior to the commencement of work and announcements will be made on trains. The construction contracts were awarded in December 2013 as a joint venture to Forte Construction Corp and Emis Construction Group.
(MTA - posted 1/30)
MID-SUFFOLK TRAIN YARD INFO CENTER OPENS AT THE RONKONKOMA STATION:
MTA Long Island Rail Road today opened the Mid-Suffolk Train Yard Information Center at Ronkonkoma Station so customers and community residents can learn about the LIRR’s proposal for enlarging its train yard in Ronkonkoma.
The expanded train yard is key to improving Main Line service by providing more peak-hour trains, better cleaning and maintenance for train cars, and direct service to Grand Central Terminal as part of the East Side Access project. The project, currently budgeted at $76 million, would expand the existing train yard, located east of Ronkonkoma Station, to adjacent property already owned by the LIRR. The expansion would on property south of the yard and further away from the local residential neighborhood.
“Enlarging the electric train yard in Ronkonkoma will give us the space we need to deliver the Main Line service improvements promised by East Side Access,” said LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski. “We hope customer and community residents attend the Open House to learn about the project.”
The Mid-Suffolk Yard plan, which would nearly double the LIRR’s track storage area, has the support of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone as well as a union coalition representing thousands of local construction workers, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said: “The Long Island Rail Road has been a great partner with Suffolk County in advancing our economic development plan “Connect Long Island” in which the goal is to reverse the decades-long trend of young people leaving our region. We can’t create a prosperous future without being able to attract the high-knowledge, high-skilled workers necessary to build an information economy. In order to attract them we need to create walkable downtown communities with strong public transit links. The LIRR has been investing in our downtowns and the expansion of the Mid-Suffolk Yard will create even greater opportunities for transit choices for Suffolk County residents and Long Islanders as a whole.”
Richard O’Kane, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk said: “The Mid-Suffolk Yard Expansion Project is extremely important because we have a work force that’s close to 60,000 members. It’s an opportunity to go to work for good paying jobs and eliminate some of the brain drain that occurred on Long Island.”
The Mid-Suffolk Yard Expansion project is covered by a Project Labor Agreement announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2013 between the LIRR and local private-sector unions that was designed to reduce the Railroad’s labor costs on seven major construction projects by nearly 11%, saving an estimated $6.5 million over the next five years while protecting local trade union jobs.
The existing train yard is a 12-track facility that is fully utilized. The expansion plan would almost double the number of storage tracks to 23 and relocate a number of LIRR departments to a new building further away from local residents. The new facility would enable the Railroad to improve interior car cleaning and servicing and carry out mandatory Federal Railway Administration inspections.
All Part of the LIRR’s East Side Access Readiness Plan As the $10.8 billion East Side Access project moves toward a projected 2022 completion, the LIRR is working simultaneously on six related-capital projects that comprise the East Side Access Readiness Plan. Those projects include the Mid-Suffolk Yard, new pocket tracks at Massapequa and Great Neck, a track extension at Port Washington and a new platform and train yard at Jamaica Station.
All of these projects are integral to the LIRR’s plan for more frequent service to both Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. But Long Island Rail Road customers will not have to wait until the completion of East Side Access to see start seeing benefits. Once the Mid-Suffolk Yard is completed in 2018, the LIRR will be able to add peak hour trains to the heavily traveled Ronkonkoma Branch. That means more trains, more seats and more reliable service.”
The Mid-Suffolk Yard Information Center; located opposite the ticket office at Ronkonkoma Station, is part of the LIRR’s effort to reach out to customers and the community. LIRR will be completing an environmental assessment as part of New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) evaluating the environmental impact of the Mid-Suffolk Yard project. LIRR anticipates completing the environmental assessment by May 2015, coordinating the review with the Town of Islip, the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York State and the Federal Aviation Administration. Key areas to be evaluated include visual impacts, noise and vibration within the proposed Mid-Suffolk Yard site, traffic into and out of the yard site and any construction impacts. That will be followed by a public comment period, anticipated for June, followed by an environmental determination in July. The Information Center Open House affords local residents and other interested parties an opportunity to review the plans and have their questions about the project answered by LIRR officials.
Ronkonkoma Information Center Open Thursday & Friday
The Mid-Suffolk Yard Information Center at Ronkonkoma Station will be open today Thursday, January 29 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and tomorrow, Friday, January 30 from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., staffed by LIRR representatives ready to discuss the project in detail. Interested members of the public who cannot make it to the Information Center at Ronkonkoma Station can find details about the Mid-Suffolk Yard project at the MTA LIRR website
(MTA - posted 1/29)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 24:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 24, 2015.
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week was 548,055 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.1 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Jan. 24, 2015 were 294,738 carloads, up 5 percent compared with the same week in 2014 while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 253,317 containers and trailers, up 3 percent compared to 2014.
Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by Coal with 115,369 carloads, up 3.8 percent; and Nonmetallic Minerals with 34,246 carloads, up 22.2 percent. The lone commodity group that posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2014 was the "Other" category of miscellaneous carloads, down slightly at 0.4 percent.
For the first three weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 862,274 carloads, up 4.1 percent from the same point last year, and 755,157 intermodal units, up 0.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first three weeks of 2015 was 1,617,431 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 24, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 391,407 carloads, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 324,436 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 715,843 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first three weeks of 2015 was 2,106,174 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.9 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 79,867 carloads for the week, up 8.7 percent, and 59,673 intermodal units, up 19.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first three weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 408,457 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.2 percent
Mexican railroads reported 16,802 carloads for the week, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,446 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first three weeks of 2015 was 80,286 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 1/29)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO CLOSE ROANOKE OFFICE BUILDING, RELOCATE EMPLOYEES:
Norfolk Southern today announced that it will close its Roanoke office building at 110 Franklin Road SE later this year and relocate the functions currently housed there to Atlanta or Norfolk.
Approximately 500 people currently work in the building in marketing, accounting, information technology, and other departments. Affected employees will have the option of relocating with their positions.
The action is being taken to foster departmental synergies and to make better use of the company’s real estate assets and support the company’s goal of streamlining its management workforce. Norfolk Southern is in the final process of evaluating which positions will be relocated to its corporate headquarters in Norfolk, Va., or its operational headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. Some regionally oriented positions will remain in Roanoke but will move to other work locations in the area.
“This will not involve any involuntary force reductions, and we will provide substantial relocation packages for those who choose to relocate,” said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern president. “Norfolk Southern has been a proud corporate citizen of Roanoke for more than 130 years, and that will not change. While our profile may be reduced, Roanoke will remain a key location in our network, and we will remain engaged in the community.”
Roanoke will remain the headquarters for Norfolk Southern’s Virginia Division, and the company will continue operating a local switching yard and locomotive and car maintenance facilities at Shaffer’s Crossing, and a locomotive overhaul and rebuilding facility in its East End Shops. In total, about 1,700 people currently work for Norfolk Southern in Roanoke.
The Roanoke office building was built in 1992 and consists of more than 203,000 square feet of office space. Disposition of the building will be determined at a later time.
(Norfolk Southern - posted 1/27)
NJ TRANSIT TO RESUME FULL SERVICE ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28
NJ TRANSIT will operate full weekday service on its bus, rail, light rail and Access Link services on Wednesday, January 28. NJ TRANSIT crews have successfully completed mandatory rail inspections and continue to mobilize bus, rail and light rail employees to ensure full weekday service on Wednesday.
NJ TRANSIT’s Access Link call center has also reopened and is taking paratransit reservations for tomorrow, with trips beginning at 9 a.m.
Cross-honoring of NJ TRANSIT tickets and passes on the Corporation’s bus, rail and light rail services and private bus carriers in New Jersey began on Monday, January 26 and will continue through and including Wednesday, January 28.
(NJ Transit - posted 1/27)
NEW YORK'S MTA AND THE PATH WILL SHUTDOWN AT 11PM TONIGHT
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this afternoon announced a travel ban on all state and local roads in thirteen downstate counties effective at 11 p.m. tonight. All MTA and Port Authority public transit systems will also be suspended beginning at 11 pm. until further notice.
The Governor urged commuters and motorists to get home well in advance of the 11 p.m. closures as winter storm Juno intensifies throughout the evening and travel conditions worsen. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the greater New York City metropolitan area effective today and through Tuesday night. The National Weather Service forecasts snow accumulation of at least 1 ½ to 2 feet combined with wind gusts of up to 70 MPH on Eastern parts of Long Island.
(NY Governor Andrew Cuomo - posted 1/26)
NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES FULL SUSPENSION OF SERVICE:
NJ TRANSIT today announced that, due to the severe winter weather impacting the region, it will implement a gradual system-wide shutdown today as follows.
NJ TRANSIT will work hard to restore service as quickly as possible. Bus, light rail and Access Link service will resume when conditions permit. Rail service will also resume when conditions permit and when mandatory federal inspections can be completed.
“NJ TRANSIT’s top priority is the safety of our customers, employees and the citizens of the Garden State”, said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “This prudent and necessary action will enable NJ TRANSIT to resume service as soon as it is safely able to do so.”
Motorists and pedestrians are advised that some non-revenue commuter rail and light rail trains will operate during the service suspension to keep tracks, switches and overhead catenary wires clear of building snow and ice conditions.
NJ TRANSIT cross-honoring of tickets and passes on bus, rail, light rail and private bus carrier services remains in effect through Wednesday, January 28. Based on the duration and severity of the storm, this timeframe could be extended if necessary.
(NJ Transit - posted 1/26)
Access Link: Service suspended effective 2 p.m. today until further notice
Bus, Rail, Light Rail: Final trips will depart their points of origin at 8 p.m. tonight with full service suspension by 10 p.m. All last trips on the rail system will make all local stops.
MBTA CANCELS ALL SERVICE ON TUESDAY DUE TO WINTER STORM JUNO:
With public safety of paramount importance, all modes of MBTA service will be suspended all day and night on Tuesday, January 27, 2015. Light snow will eventually turn into heavy snow tonight with strong wind gusts likely. Heavy snow and wind gusts are expected throughout the day Tuesday, January 27, 2015. The MBTA has put its winter plan into action in preparation for the storm
(MBTA - posted 1/26)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL YEAR 2014 RESULTS:
Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported financial results for fourth-quarter and full-year 2014.
Net income for the quarter was $511 million, or $1.64 per diluted share, compared with $513 million, or $1.64 per diluted share, earned in fourth-quarter 2013. For the year, net income increased to a record $2.0 billion, 5 percent higher compared with $1.9 billion for 2013. Diluted earnings per share for 2014 were a record $6.39, up 6 percent compared with $6.04 per diluted share for 2013 “Norfolk Southern delivered another solid quarter of financial performance, capping a record-setting year during which our company achieved its best results for revenues, operating income, net income, earnings per share, and operating ratio,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “For 2015, we plan to invest $2.4 billion in capital investments to maintain the safety and quality of our rail network, enhance service, improve operational efficiency, and support growth opportunities.”
Operating revenues were $2.9 billion, about even compared with fourth-quarter 2013, with gains in merchandise and intermodal revenues offsetting weaker coal revenues. Total volume was up 4 percent, or about 66,000 units, due to gains in intermodal and merchandise traffic.
General merchandise revenues were $1.7 billion, 3 percent higher than the same period last year. Volume grew by 5 percent, led by increases in shipments of chemicals and metals and construction. The five commodity groups reported mixed revenue results on a year-over-year basis:
Chemicals: $477 million, up 11 percent
Agriculture: $387 million, down 2 percent
Metals/Construction: $366 million, up 5 percent
Automotive: $253 million, even
Paper/Forest: $195 million, down 3 percent
Intermodal revenues increased to $649 million, 5 percent higher compared with fourth-quarter 2013. Growth in international and domestic business pushed traffic volume up 6 percent in the quarter compared with the same period of 2013.
Coal revenues were $543 million, 15 percent lower compared with the fourth quarter of 2013. A weak global export market and fewer shipments of coal to utilities combined to decrease volume by 6 percent.
Railway operating expenses were $2.0 billion, down 1 percent compared with the same period of 2013.
Income from railway operations was $891 million, a fourth-quarter record and 1 percent higher compared with fourth-quarter 2013.
The operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, improved 1 percent to 69.0 percent, compared with the same quarter in 2013.
(Norfolk Southern - posted 1/26)
Railway operating revenues reached a record $11.6 billion, 3 percent higher compared with 2013, driven by a 5 percent increase in traffic volume.
General merchandise revenues rose 6 percent to $6.7 billion, and traffic volume increased 5 percent compared with the prior year.
Intermodal revenues increased to $2.6 billion, up 7 percent compared with 2013. Traffic volume was 8 percent higher for 2014 compared with 2013
Coal revenues were $2.4 billion, down 6 percent, due to a 5 percent decline in traffic volume compared with 2013.
Railway operating expenses were $8 billion, up 1 percent compared with 2013.
Income from railway operations was a record $3.6 billion, 10 percent higher compared with 2013.
The operating ratio for the year was a record 69.2 percent, a 3 percent improvement compared with 71.0 percent in 2013.
SEPTA ANNOUNCES SUBURBAN STATION TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP WITH VERIZON:
Three new state-of-the-art video schedule boards are among the improvements at Suburban Station under agreement with Verizon that is delivering customer service upgrades and generating new advertising revenue for SEPTA.
"SEPTA is proud to announce this innovative partnership with Verizon," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "The experience for our riders will be greatly improved with amenities Verizon is bringing to Suburban Station. In addition, the advertising revenue this deal generates will go directly toward SEPTA's operating costs, helping our bottom-line."The SEPTA-Verizon Technology Partnership for Suburban Station is the result of a long-term contract between Verizon and Titan, which sells advertising at SEPTA stations, on vehicles and other Authority properties.
Video boards - Clarity Matrix LCD Video Wall Systems made by Planar Systems, Inc. - have been installed at the west and northeast concourses, and at the ticket booth. The screens provide riders with information about train schedules, travel updates and weather reports. Planar is widely recognized as the leading manufacturer of video walls designed for these types of public displays, which utilize multiple cutting-edge, ultra-narrow LCDs to deliver high-definition images.
The partnership with Verizon is consistent with SEPTA's mandate to seek alternative sources to help pay for operating expenses. In passing recent legislation for transportation funding in Pennsylvania, state lawmakers have called on SEPTA and other transit agencies to bolster advertising and other non-fare revenues.
In response, SEPTA has worked closely with Titan, the leading transit advertising agency in the country, on a groundbreaking campaign to bring in additional advertising dollars.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for both SEPTA and Verizon," said Jon Roche, Titan's General Manager Vice President for the Philadelphia Region. "This partnership with SEPTA will give exceptional and indelible branding for Verizon in the heart of Center City Philadelphia."
Today's announcement about the partnership also coincides with the 11:00 a.m. grand opening of a new Verizon store in Suburban Station - A Wireless - a premium wireless retailer and exclusive Verizon agent.
The store offers Philadelphia-area commuters and visitors the option to explore the latest wireless and broadband technology. It will also be a nice addition to the broad array of shops already in the station that make for a great customer shopping experience for those traveling through the concourse.
"We are in the business of providing innovative solutions that keep people connected. This newest store will serve heavily traveled Suburban Station, making it convenient for consumers and SEPTA commuters looking for cutting-edge wireless technology to enhance their lifestyles," said Mike Willsey,Director of Agent Retail Location for Verizon Wireless.
(SEPTA - posted 1/23)
CANADIAN PACIFIC ANNOUNCES FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL YEAR RESULTSl
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) (CP) today announced the lowest quarterly operating ratio in the company's history and record net income for both the fourth quarter and the full year 2014.
Revenues in the fourth quarter climbed 10 percent to an all-time high $1.76 billion . Net income rose to a record $451 million , or $2.63 per diluted share. Adjusted earnings in the fourth-quarter jumped to $460 million , or $2.68 per share, from $338 million , or $1.91 per share, in the fourth quarter 2013.
"I am proud of the team at CP, which continues to build momentum as we exited the year with double-digit revenue growth and a sub-60 operating ratio, proving again our ability to control costs while growing the top line," said E. Hunter Harrison , CP's Chief Executive Officer. "In just two short years, CP has transformed from an industry laggard into a railway leader, and achieved its ambitious 2016 targets two full years ahead of schedule."
FULL-YEAR 2014 HIGHLIGHTS
"CP's remarkable transformation has allowed it to exceed its operational and financial goals for 2014, positioning the company to be nimble in the near-term and successful in the long run," Harrison said. "CP fully recognizes the impact of short-term volatility in commodity prices, but given the diversity of its business and proven ability to control costs, we're confident in our ability to execute on our plan going forward."
"We are just getting started," Harrison said.
2015 FULL-YEAR GUIDANCE
Revenue climbed 8 percent to an all-time high $6.62 billion
Operating ratio fell to a record 64.7 percent, a 520-basis-point drop on an adjusted basis
Reported EPS rose 71 percent to a record $8.46
- Adjusted EPS climbed 32 percent to $8.50
Operating ratio below 62 percent
Revenue growth of 7-8 percent
- Adjusted EPS increase of more than 25 percent vs. 2014 adjusted EPS of $8.50
(CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/22)
No assumption on share buybacks beyond current NCIB program expiring March 16, 2015
Canadian dollar to U.S. dollar exchange rate of C$1.20
Tax rate of 27.5 per cent
Defined benefit pension expense of approximately $45 million vs. 2014 pension income of $43 million
Capital expenditures of approximately $1.5 billion
Average On Highway Diesel price of $2.70
Average WTI price of $46
140,000 crude carloads
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 17, 2015.
Total cumulative U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week was 551,856 carloads and intermodal units, a slight decline of 1 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Jan. 17, 2015 were 290,963 up 0.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014 while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 260,893 containers and trailers, down 2.4 percent compared to week two of 2014.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by Grain with 25,062 carloads, up 18.2 percent; and Chemicals with 30,947 carloads, up 4.6 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014, Nonmetallic Minerals at 31,124 carloads, down 4.4 percent; and Metallic Ores and Metals with 24,656 carloads, down 3.3 percent.
For the first two weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 567,536 carloads, up 3.7 percent from the same point last year, and 501,840 intermodal units, down 0.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first two weeks of 2015 was 1,069,376 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 17, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 386,764 carloads, up 1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 330,972 intermodal units, a decrease of 0.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 717,736 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first two weeks of 2015 was 1,390,331 carloads and intermodal units, up 3 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 79,206 carloads for the week, up 2.9 percent, and 58,844 intermodal units, up 7.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first two weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 268,917 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.8 percent
Mexican railroads reported 16,595 carloads for the week, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,235 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first two weeks of 2015 was 52,038 carloads, up 0.7 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 1/22)
MTA BOARD APPROVES LIMITED FARE AND TOLL INCREASES:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today approved increasing fares and tolls by 4% over the next two years, fulfilling a promise to keep fare and toll increases as low as possible. The new fares and tolls will take effect March 22, and will ensure the MTA can continue providing quality service even as ridership continues to climb.
“The MTA has been able to limit these fare and toll increases to the equivalent of 2% a year thanks to our continued aggressive cost-cutting, while still adding service and improving service quality for our growing number of customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Our Financial Plan assumes modest biennial fare and toll increases, and the Board has chosen options with lower increases for our most frequent customers.”
The MTA has cut $1.1 billion from its annual spending, with more cuts planned every year to bring annual savings to $1.6 billion by 2018.
The Board approved increasing the base fare for the subway and bus by 25 cents to $2.75, while also more than doubling the bonus amount added to MetroCard purchases of at least one round-trip. The combination of the increased fare and the increased bonus creates an effective fare increase of 4.1%, or 10 cents, for the Bonus MetroCard, which is used for 43% of trips.
The 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 29% of trips, will increase 4% to $116.50. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 21% of trips, will increase 3.3% to $31. The remaining 7% of trips are made using non-bonus MetroCards, cash on buses or Single Ride Tickets, which are largely purchased near major tourist destinations.?
(MTA - posted 1/22)
AIRTRAIN TO LAGUARDIA AIRPORT:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed the constructed of an AirTrain transit line to service New York's LaGuardia Airport.
LaGuardia Airport is New York’s primary domestic air gateway, serving nearly 27 million passengers annually. For years travelers, businesses, and airport employees have called for improved accessibility to LaGuardia. In addition to modernizing airport facilities, the State will also improve access by creating an Air-Train to LaGuardia that directly connects to the subway and Long Island Rail Road at Mets-Willets Point Station. The AirTrain will be constructed by the Port Authority and the MTA at an estimated cost of $450 million
(Alex Mayes - posted 1/21)
TSB RELEASES REPORT ON TASCHEREAU YARD DERAILMENT:
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada today released its investigation report
into the derailment of a Canadian National Railway (CN) freight train in Taschereau Yard, Montréal, Quebec.
On 6 November 2013, at approximately 05:05 Eastern Standard Time, a CN freight train derailed 10 empty cars while travelling through a tight curve at Taschereau Yard in Montréal, Quebec. The derailed cars and the track were damaged. There were no injuries.
The investigation determined that, as the train began to accelerate from a stop, the empty cars occupying the curve were pulled over the lower (inside) rail and derailed. The first car to derail, the 29th car, was an empty, long car equipped with end-of-car cushioning devices. These cars are susceptible to high lateral/vertical (L/V) forces, especially in curves. With a block of empty cars marshalled ahead of a block of loaded cars, the empty cars experienced a significantly higher L/V force than the loaded cars.
In the weeks following the derailment, CN issued instructions aimed at minimizing in-train forces in the curve of track CX01. Yard and train personnel must ensure that the train brakes are fully released before initiating a movement and must limit the force applied to the train by the locomotive consist.
CN will continue to ensure compliance with these instructions by reviewing locomotive event recorder downloads
(TSB - posted 1/21)
CANADIAN PACIFIC ANNOUNCES THE APPOINTMENT OF TIMOTHY E. MARSH AS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT SALES AND MARKETING:
Canadian Pacific today announced that Timothy (Tim) E. Marsh has been appointed Senior Vice-President Sales and Marketing effective Feb. 1, 2015.
Marsh joins CP from COSCO where he had been Executive Vice-President North America Trade Division. His career at COSCO began in 2002 when he was appointed General Manager National Sales. Marsh brings to CP 25 years of sales and marketing experience in the international shipping industry.
"Finding the right person to lead CP's sales and marketing team is integral as we look to position ourselves for long-term growth," said Keith Creel, CP's President and Chief Operating Officer. "Our team has built a strong foundation for the future, and with Tim leading the charge, we expect to provide innovative service to our customers, uncover new opportunities, diversify the business and achieve our goals."
As Senior Vice-President Sales and Marketing, Marsh will lead a large, world-class sales and marketing organization. Marsh will be responsible for enhancing existing revenues, winning new business, prioritizing and improving the quality of the book of business, diversifying the revenue base by creating new products and services, identifying opportunities – and developing strategies – for new, aligned lines of business.
"I am thrilled at the opportunity to join a Canadian icon such as CP, which is in the midst of a remarkable transformation," said Marsh. "CP's focus on the customer, service and its own people makes it a company that attracts the best talent, and I am humbled to join such an ambitious and capable team."
Marsh holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Le Moyne University in Syracuse, New York and an M.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Phoenix.
( Canadian Pacific
- posted 1/21)
REBUILDING EFFORTS TOP METRO-NORTH'S AGENDA IN 2015:
The major safety initiatives and aggressive track improvements that defined 2014 for MTA Metro-North Railroad will continue in 2015, Railroad President Joseph Giulietti announced Tuesday.
The railroad also expects continued improvements as the last of the 405 M-8 cars are placed into service on the New Haven Line this spring.
“Numerous safety initiatives, both implemented and underway, and our ongoing, aggressive track maintenance program are paying off as reliability increases, slowly but surely,” Giulietti told the Metro-North Committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board. “It is critical that we bring our infrastructure to a state of good repair and that we continue to focus each and every employee on the importance of safety as our core value.”
The railroad achieved record ridership in 2014 carrying a projected 84.7 million customers, higher than the previous record of 83.6 million set in 2008, and a 1.4% increase over 2013.
Giulietti also announced on-time performance goals for 2015 of 93% for trains operating in the AM and PM peaks and 92% for off-peak trains. The slightly lower goal for off-peak and weekends acknowledges that this is when most track work is performed. In 2014, Metro-North achieved an overall on-time performance of 91.5%.
Metro-North also set a goal for equipment reliability, known as mean distance between failure, of 185,000 miles, an increase from the 2014 goal of 160,000 miles.
Achievements in improved safety include the installation of alerters on the entire fleet to ensure that train engineers remain responsive, the launch a pilot program to identify key employees who may have sleep apnea, and the award of a contract for the purchase of inward- and outward-facing cameras onboard all trains in the fleet.
Customer complaints in 2014 dropped 30 percent overall through December and complaints about late and cancelled trains dropped 60 percent.
Here are some highlights of Metro-North’s track program in 2014:
Railroad workers replaced 42,500 crossties on all three lines, re-surfaced 83 miles of track across all lines resulting in upgrades to 20 miles of right of way, including drainage improvements. Two dozen new switches (where tracks move from one track to another) were installed on the main lines, at Grand Central Terminal and in yards to improve operational flexibility.
Three highway grade crossings were renewed at Chippawalla Road and Pleasant Ridge Road on the Harlem Line and at Manitou Road on the Hudson Line. Workers replaced 7,000 feet of continuous welded rail on six curves on the Hudson Line and 4,700 feet of rail on three curves on the New Haven Line.
Steel repairs were made to four under grade bridges and timber bridge decks were replaced on nine bridges east and west of the Hudson River.
New timber ties, continuous welded rail, new miter rails and presence detectors were installed at the WALK Bridge, in Norwalk, Conn., and new timber ties were installed at the DEVON Bridge in Milford, Conn., and at the Harlem River Lift Bridge, that connects Manhattan and the Bronx.
In 2015, Metro-North Maintenance of Way forces will continue to clean or replace “foul ballast” throughout the territory. Ballast refers to the small stones that stabilize the track structure that sometimes gets contaminated and become less effective.
Metro-North also will create a new gang that focuses solely on drainage improvements, as standing water is damaging to good track.
Another specialty track gang will be created to replace ties in areas that are difficult in which to work, such as interlockings and adjacent to station platforms.
Also on tap is the installation of eight miles of continuous welded rail, replacement of eight grade crossings in Connecticut and installation of fiberglass brackets and channels to support new aluminum third rail that will be installed in targeted locations.
“The progress that has been made is due to the hard work and dedication of the workers of Metro-North and I am proud of them,” added Giulietti, who took the helm less than a year ago, on February 10, 2014.
(MTA - posted 1/20)
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER ANNOUNCES A MAJOR CONTRACT AGREEMENT WITH CANARAIL TO REFURBISH EQUIPMENT:
Rocky Mountaineer and CANARAIL announced today a contract agreement to revitalize the luxury tourist rail company's GoldLeaf fleet consisting of sixteen (16) bi-level domed cars. Once this strategic project is completed, new and returning travelers will experience an even more luxurious journey through the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies. Acting as the prime contractor, CANARAIL will be responsible for the delivery of the entire program and will direct the operations from its Montreal based office.
"This is the largest capital investment in Rocky Mountaineer's 25 year history. Considerable research and planning has gone into this project, with the singular goal of delighting our guests with the changes to our most luxurious class of rail cars, said Gord Miller, Vice President of Rail Operations and Asset Development, Rocky Mountaineer. We evaluated many prospective partners and selected CANARAIL because of its expertise in the sector and track record of innovation".
Based on the success of the pilot project completed in 2013 and the extremely positive feedback from travelers, an agreement was made to refurbish the entire fleet. Most of the work will be accomplished in the Gaspé region in Quebec. The work will consist of full engineering and design work of various components (interior design, lighting, plumbing, installation of state of the art seating, electrical work and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems). The work is expected to be completed in 2018.
"We are thrilled to be working with Rocky Mountaineer on this project, said Miguel Valero, president & CEO, CANARAIL. Historically, our team began working with Rocky Mountaineer as an engineering service provider. We have now become a trusted and reliable partner to assist Rocky Mountaineer in reaching this significant milestone. We are very happy to solidify our partnership as we are both international companies, headquartered in Canada, sharing a commitment to quality and customer focus.''
(Rocky Mountaineer - posted 1/20)
SHUTTLE BUSING SCHEDULED ALONG SEPTA'S MANAYUNK/NORRISTOWN REGIONAL RAIL LINE:
Due to a track and signal improvement project along SEPTA's Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail Line, shuttle buses will replace rail service between Elm Street and Conshohocken Stations on Saturdays and Sundays, January 17, 18, 24, 25 and February 14, 15, 21 and 22.
Passengers traveling inbound to Center City will board Shuttle buses at Elm Street, Main Street and Norristown Transportation Center approximately 18 minutes before their regularly scheduled train times. After leaving Norristown Transportation Center, shuttle buses will travel to Conshohocken Station where passengers will board trains to complete their inbound trips to Center City. All trains will depart from Conshohocken Station approximately five-eight minutes earlier than the current scheduled time with the exception of train 2573 which will depart 24 minutes earlier than regularly scheduled. All trains will arrive at Center City Stations at regularly scheduled times.
For inbound passengers requiring an accessible station, shuttle bus service will be extended to Spring Mill Station.
Trains traveling outbound towards Norristown will depart from Center City Stations at regularly scheduled times and operate as far as Conshohocken Station. Trains will arrive at Conshohocken Station approximately 14 minutes later than regularly scheduled train times. Passengers traveling to Norristown will board shuttle buses at Conshohocken Station to complete their outbound trips. After departing from Conshohocken Station, shuttle buses will travel to Norristown Transportation Center, Main Street and Elm Street Stations.
Outbound passengers traveling to Norristown requiring an accessible station should make the conductor aware of their final stop. If the station is beyond Spring Mill Station, the conductor will advise the passenger of the shuttle bus operation to complete their outbound trips to Elm Street Station.
All passengers should add approximately 30 minutes onto their travel time.
In the event of inclement weather, alternate dates have been scheduled for March 21, 22, 28 and 29.
(SEPTA - posted 1/19)
NS ALTER CONCERNING SEPTA TRACXWORK
SEPTA (Commuter Railroad) will be performing track work on four consecutive weekends beginning Saturday, January 17, 2015 that will delay all Norfolk Southern intermodal trains into and out of the Morrisville, PA facility. The track curfew imposed by SEPTA on Norfolk Southern trains begins at 02:00 Saturday mornings and ends at 20:00 Sunday mornings (earlier than previously announced). Norfolk Southern operates on less than two miles of SEPTA line to access the Morrisville, PA facility.
(NS - posted 1/19)
GOV. MALLOY, BOND COMMISSION APPROVE DESIGN OF RAIL STATIONS ON HARTFORD AND NEW HAVEN LINES
Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that $5.75 million approved this morning by the State Bond Commission will be used to advance design plans and address environmental issues for new railroad stations on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Line (NHHS) and the New Haven Line. The funding will be combined with another $4 million in previously approved funding.
Now branded as the “Hartford Line,” the new NHHS line stations will be in Enfield, West Hartford, Newington and North Haven. Also included are enhancements to existing stations in Windsor Locks and Windsor, and a location study for a future Hamden station. On the New Haven Line, new stations will be added in Orange and Bridgeport (to be known as Barnum Station, a second station in the Park City), plus enhancements to the existing Merritt Seven Station on the Danbury Branch of the New Haven Line.
“Creating a commuter rail line along the I-91 corridor is part of our transformative transportation vision for Connecticut,” Governor Malloy said. “This bond authorization will give this important project needed momentum. Completing environmental work and design is what will propel the projects toward reality. This $365 million project will improve the quality of intercity service along the corridor and enhance regional rail connections.”
In partnership with the Malloy administration, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is expanding passenger service along the 62-mile corridor between New Haven and Springfield. CTDOT anticipates much transit-oriented development in the corridor as a result of the more robust service.
CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said that Connecticut will add 22 trains per day to the 12 trains that Amtrak currently operates and added, “This project will make rail travel far more attractive and competitive in the corridor
(CTDOT - posted 1/16)
NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES SYSTEMWIDE EXPANSION OF ‘QUIET COMMUTE’ PROGRAM
Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox and NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim today announced that effective January 20 the agency’s Quiet Commute program will be expanding systemwide to the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, on trains departing/arriving Hoboken Terminal, Newark Penn Station, New York Penn Station, Atlantic City Station and Bay Head shuttle trains departing or arriving at Long Branch Station.
"Since NJ TRANSIT introduced ‘Quiet Cars’ in 2010, it has been popular with customers who want to relax or work in a quiet atmosphere," said Commissioner Fox. "It has been successful and something the public wants, which is why we’re expanding the program across our system."
“We heard from our customers that they want to enjoy the benefits of Quiet Commute cars on more of our trains,” said Executive Director Hakim. “This expansion demonstrates to our customers that their feedback will continue to be the driving force behind NJ TRANSIT’s ongoing efforts to improve their overall experience on our system.”
Quiet Commute cars are intended to provide a subdued environment for customers who wish to refrain from using cell phones and are willing to disable the sound feature on pagers, games, computers and other electronic devices. Conversations should be conducted in subdued voices, and headphones should be used at a volume that cannot be heard by other passengers.
NJ TRANSIT will continue to closely monitor and evaluate the Quiet Commute program, with feedback received from customers and employees guiding any possible changes.
(NJT - posted 1/15)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR FIRST FULL WEEK OF 2015:
Today, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 10, 2015.
Total cumulative U.S. weekly rail traffic for the first full week of 2015 was 517,520 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads were at 276,573 up 7.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014 while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 240,947 containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent compared the same week in 2014.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by Coal, up 108,449 carloads or 4.2 percent; Nonmetallic Minerals, up 30,742 or 22 percent; Chemicals, up 30,425 carloads or 7 per cent; and Metallic Ores and Metals, up 23,699 or 17.6 percent. Of the two commodity groups that posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2014, Farm Products (excluding grain and food) was down 16,322 carloads or 1.7 percent.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 10, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,454 carloads, up 8.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 306,852 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 673,306 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.4 percent.
Canadian railroads reported 74,742 carloads for the week, up 11.5 percent, and 56,125 intermodal units, up 16.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first full week of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 130,867 carloads and intermodal units, up 13.4 percent from the same point last year.
Mexican railroads reported 15,139 carloads for the week, up 4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,780 intermodal units, slightly up 0.5 percent. Total traffic on Mexican railroads for the week ending Jan. 10, 2015 was 24,919 carloads and containers and trailers, up 2.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
(AAR - posted 1/15)
CANADIAN NATIONAL'S CHICAGO INVESTMENTS:
Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN, said today CN's substantial investments in its U.S. Midwest operations, particularly the former Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (EJ&E), are keeping its network fluid, helping the railroad accommodate increased demand for its freight services, and freeing up rail capacity inside Chicago for other railroads.
Mongeau, speaking to the Midwest Association of Rail Shippers, said CN's substantial presence in the U.S. Midwest is the product of a series of rail acquisitions and investments that have extended its network reach south, north and west of Chicago, as well as around the city. In the past five years, CN has invested well over one billion dollars in its Midwest operations.
CN today has 5,400 employees in the Midwest, roughly 1,400 of whom live and work in the Chicago region. With roughly 25 per cent of its freight traffic touching the city, CN's Chicago focus is on network efficiencies, close collaboration with other freight and passenger carriers, and delivering solid customer service.
Mongeau said the acquisition of the EJ&E in 2009 "has transformed our operations in North America's business rail hub. The EJ&E solution allows us to seamlessly connect our five rail lines entering Chicago and to avoid congested inner city rail corridors. This is a clear gain for CN, but it also frees up capacity for other carriers on the Belt Railway of Chicago and Indiana Harbor Belt - a benefit for the entire greater Chicago rail network."
Mongeau said the "J" is helping CN accommodate rising traffic, which has been growing strongly across all business units for the past five years in both Canada and the United States.
"Almost 30 per cent of CN's revenue ton-miles are in the United States, so the U.S. is clearly an important market for CN," said Mongeau. "Transborder U.S.-Canada traffic is also a major market for CN - our northbound traffic has grown faster than southbound freight over the past five years. As such, we play an important role in moving U.S. exports to both Canada and offshore destinations."
Mongeau concluded: "Our business agenda is shaped by what CN stands for, by what we do best, and by the way we see our role as a true backbone of the economy. At the core of our agenda is CN's commitment to Operational and Service Excellence whose purpose is to help our customers compete better in their end markets."
(CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/14)
CSX'S FOURTH QUARTER RESULTS:
CSX Corporation today announced record fourth-quarter 2014 net earnings of $491 million, a 15 percent increase from $426 million for the same period last year. The company also generated record fourth-quarter earnings per share of $0.49, up 17 percent from $0.42 per share in 2013.
"CSX is capturing broad-based market strength, completing strategic infrastructure projects and adding resources to further improve service performance and leverage growth opportunities," said Michael J. Ward, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Building on a foundation of strong safety and customer service, we expect to continue growing our intermodal and merchandise businesses faster than the economy, pricing above inflation, and driving efficient asset utilization."
Fourth-quarter revenue increased 5 percent to $3.2 billion, with strength across merchandise, intermodal and coal. The timely addition of operating resources enhanced service through the fall peak shipping season and supported volume growth. As a result, operating income increased 11 percent to $901 million, and the operating ratio improved 140 basis points to 71.8 percent.
For the full-year, CSX produced new all-time records for revenue of $12.7 billion, operating income of $3.6 billion, net earnings of $1.9 billion and earnings per share of $1.92. At the same time, the operating ratio remained relatively stable at 71.5 percent.
Looking to 2015, CSX expects continued strong growth across its diverse business mix and is poised for sustainable business expansion. The company continues to expect to generate double-digit growth in earnings per share and margin expansion in 2015, progressing toward a mid-60s operating ratio longer term.
(CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/14)
U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY FOXX NAMES SARA FEINBERG ACTING ADMINISTRATOR OF FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today that Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Sarah Feinberg will serve as Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). She succeeds Joseph C. Szabo who was appointed and confirmed as the agency’s twelfth Administrator is 2009. Szabo stepped down as the agency’s head last Friday.
“Sarah has been my partner and served as my closest advisor during her tenure as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation. With her ability to bring clarity, focus and direction to complex challenges, she has become a proven leader within our agency,” said Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Sarah has the right mix of experience and skills to adeptly lead the FRA as it continues its important work to ensure the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods.”
Feinberg becomes the second woman to lead the agency since its founding in 1966.
Since 2013 Feinberg has served as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), managing the agency’s ten modal departments, and spearheading the agency’s legislative, policy, and communications efforts. Feinberg provided strategic advice and counsel to the Secretary regarding operational and legislative initiatives across all modes of transportation, as well as leading the department’s efforts on its $302 billion surface transportation reauthorization plan, sent to the U.S. Congress last year.
During her time as Chief of Staff, Feinberg worked closely with Secretary Foxx and each agency in the Department to ensure that they are continuously raising the bar on safety. As Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Feinberg will work to strengthen the culture of safety across the railroad industry.
The FRA is the Nation’s chief safety regulator for the passenger and freight rail industries. The agency has a $1.6 billion budget and employs nearly 900 people in Washington, D.C. and eight regional offices across the country. It establishes and enforces safety rules for the rail industry as well as manages a $20 billion rail investment portfolio.
(USDOT - posted 1/13)
CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION UNVEILS DESIGN PLANS FOR RECONSTRUCTION OF ELIZABETH STATION:
Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox and NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim today announced the unveiling of the preliminary design plans for a $55 million restoration of Elizabeth Station. The project includes construction of a new station building, new elevators and stairs, vendor space and reconstruction of the passenger platforms. The project will be funded through state and federal sources.
“This project is a prime example of Governor Christie’s commitment to invest in our public transportation system,” said Commissioner Fox. “Working with our partners at Amtrak, which owns the Northeast Corridor, this station will be primed to promote economic development in a city that continues to work hard at improving the quality of life for its residents.”
“The reconstruction of Elizabeth Station will provide a state-of-the-art facility for the residents and riders that also reflects the character of the historic business district” stated Executive Director Hakim. “We recognize the importance of this facility to passengers on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines and are committed to providing a safe and modern facility.”
The design of the station includes a two-story station building with a street-level ticket office, waiting room and vendor space. New, extended high-level train platforms will accommodate longer, 12-car trains and the platforms will feature covered, heated and air conditioned waiting areas. The station will include upgraded passenger information and security systems. Additional elevators, renovations to existing elevators and additional stairways will enhance platform access. The westbound plaza entrance will be highlighted by a marquee façade, new stairs, and new vendor space. NJ TRANSIT and the City of Elizabeth will collaborate to incorporate art into the design of the station.
NJ TRANSIT has coordinated the design package with Amtrak to accommodate Amtrak’s future plans to add a fifth track to the Northeast Corridor, which affects station platform placement and final design approval. Upon final Amtrak approval, NJ TRANSIT will procure a design-build contractor to construct the project, with an expected completion date in 2018.
Elizabeth Station serves NJ TRANSIT's Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Rail Lines as well as local bus service, including 9 NJ TRANSIT bus lines. The Elizabeth Station serves an average of 7,526 weekday passenger trips (FY2014), with 113 daily trains utilizing the station.
(NJ Transit - posted 1/13)