July 29,, 2016:
FRA ISSUES NEW RULE REQUIRING PASSENGER RAILROADS TO PROACTIVELY IDENTIFY AND REDUCE SAFETY RISK:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a new final rule which requires passenger railroads to proactively identify potential safety hazards across their operations and work to reduce and mitigate them. The rule will help prevent potential safety problems from escalating and resulting in incidents, injuries, or deaths.
“Operating a railroad safely requires more than simply not having an incident – it demands looking for problems before they cause an injury or a fatality,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This new rule is a huge step in the right direction to make passenger rail service even safer.”
The new rule, the System Safety Program (SSP), requires passenger railroads to implement, among other items, a defined and measurable safety culture; identify potential safety hazards in their operations and work to reduce or eliminate those hazards; and to document and demonstrate how they will achieve compliance with FRA regulations.
“Safety has to be a consistent priority, and that means identifying problems before they escalate and turn into an incident,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “This new rule will help passenger railroads achieve the next generation of rail safety.”
“The System Safety Program rule includes proactive hazard analysis as a standard approach to identifying and addressing significant safety issues,” said FRA’s Chief Safety Officer Robert C. Lauby. “I believe that this approach will be key for the railroad industry to reach the next level of safety.”
The next-generation, goal-oriented safety regulation aims to build on the foundational framework FRA currently has in place for safety rules by directing industry to pivot from a reactive to a more proactive approach at achieving safety. Because of the comprehensive requirements the SSP entails, FRA will provide technical assistance on ways to set, achieve, and measure safety culture and other important elements of the regulation.
“The System Safety Program rule has been a long time in the making, but it’s been worth the wait,” said FRA Passenger Rail Safety Director Dan Knote. “The Passenger Rail Division at FRA will provide guidance to all passenger railroads as they embark in this exciting and life-saving initiative.”
The rule will go into effect 60 days from the date of its publication. Within eight months of publishing the rule, all passenger railroads are required to have a meeting with employees who are directly affected by the rule to discuss their plan on the consultation process when developing a SSP.
(FRA- posted 7/29)
WEEKDAY PM FARE COLLECTION CENTER CITY REGIONAL RAIL STATIONS BEGINS MONDAY AUG 1:
Starting Monday, Aug. 1, from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., as part of SEPTA's ongoing effort to improve operational efficiency during the current rail car shortage, Regional Rail fares will be collected and validated before customers enter the platform area at Center City stations.
Customers entering Temple, Jefferson, Suburban, 30th Street and University City Stations will be able to have their passes, tickets or transit identification, such as Pennsylvania Senior Cards and Reduced Fare Cards, validated by SEPTA personnel at the top of each stairwell. Once fares are validated, customers can proceed to the platform to board trains. This will eliminate the need for customers to pay for their trip on-board trains.
Customers who do not have one of these pre-purchased fares can purchase tickets at the station ticket office before going to the stairway fare lines. Tickets cannot be purchased from the fare validation personnel or from train conductors during the evening rush hour.
"This change will better enable conductors to focus on maintaining safe and efficient train operations by eliminating the need for them to validate and collect fares," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "We expect this to help improve the efficiency of our Regional Rail operations, and make travel more convenient for our customers."
"This is also an issue of equity," Knueppel added. "Crowded conditions can make it difficult for conductors to collect and validate fares. By moving this to the stations, we help ensure fair treatment for all customers."
This temporary new fare procedure only applies to the weekday PM rush. There will be no change to fare collection and validation procedures for all other hours of the day and on weekends.
(SEPTA - posted 7/29)
GP40Ps BEING CONVERTED TO WORK TRAIN LOCOMOTIVES:
NJ Transit has begun a program to convert its former CNJ GP40P locomotives (4100-4112) from passenger to work train units. The conversion includes the removal of the CAT-powered head-end auxiliary motor (HEP) and replacement of the rear steps with recessed switcher-type steps. Although the HEP units has been removed, the locomotives retain their 480V cable feeds so that they can be used as a cab car or to have the 480V fed thru train if used as a multiple unit consist.(Andy Kirk - 7/29)
READING & NORTHERN RAILROAD CELEBRATES TAKEOVER OF RAIL SERVICE TO HUMBOLDT INDUSTRIAL PARK:
Reading & Northern Railroad (R&N) welcomed over sixty guests on a passenger train trip through the Humboldt Industrial Park on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.
Reading & Northern acquired the rights to provide rail service to Humboldt from CAN DO, the region's premier economic development organization, on January 1st, 2016. On that day RBMN took over the rail freight service from Norfolk Southern Railroad. Tuesday’s train trip was to celebrate the successful start up of Reading and Northern service in the park.
R&N welcomed representatives from the Humboldt freight customers, CAN DO, Congressman Barletta's office, and other local and regional groups. R&N's Passenger Department arranged for two ninety-minute trips through the Park complete with lunch that included salmon, corn on the cob, and roast pork and cheeseburger sliders. The passenger cars included one of the famous Open Air cars that are so popular on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad, the passenger arm of the R&N, as well as private cars owned by Andy Muller, Jr. One of the private cars, The Black Diamond, is more than 100 years old and was built by Jay Gould for his daughter, Helen in 1889.
Mr. Muller, who was the host for the day, welcomed all the visitors and repeatedly thanked the customers for their business and CAN DO for its confidence in the R&N's abilities.
Both trains left on schedule; a hallmark of R&N and LGSR service. In fact, R&N is one of the only freight railroads in the nation, if not the only one, that offers all customers a guaranteed two- hour service window.
The weather cooperated and all the guests had a wonderful time.
Reading & Northern Railroad, with its corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, is a privately held railroad company serving over 60 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has expanded its operations over the last 20+ years and has grown into one of the premier railroads in Pennsylvania. Reading and Northern operates both freight services and steam and diesel powered excursion passenger services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, owns over 1,000 freight cars, and employs over 200 dedicated employees.
(R&N - 7/28)
WATCO TO OPERATE SANDUSKY, OHIO TERMINAL:
As of July 1, 2016 Watco Transloading, LLC has established a definitive licensed agreement with Norfolk Southern Corporation (NS) to operate the newly established Norfolk Southern TBT Terminal (Thoroughbred Bulk Terminal) located in Sandusky, Ohio. The Ohio terminal is situated between Toledo and Cleveland along the banks of Lake Erie. The NS is leveraging the existing infrastructure of the former Triple Crown Services facility to allow Watco and NS to drive new incremental transload business, and further establish the Watco/NS TBT Terminal presence in the Ohio Region. The newly acquired operations at the Sandusky Terminal will add to the growing list of Watco operated TBT Terminals in the Ohio Region. Watco currently operates three other existing TBT Terminals in the greater Ohio Region: Columbus, Ohio; Euclid, Ohio; and Willis, Michigan.
Thirty fully paved railcar spots have been allocated for Watco’s use at the terminal with laydown space available for ongoing storage of customer related products. There is ample room for expansion at the site should business levels warrant the need to increase operations. Watco will begin transload operations at Sandusky in July 2016.
“We are very excited to begin operations in Sandusky, and are extremely grateful for having been given the opportunity to expand our presence in the NS TBT Network” said Watco Vice President Marketing & Sales Marc Massoglia.
Watco will be focused on transloading a number of different commodities, including but not limited to the following: chemicals, plastics, forest products, steel products, and various agricultural related products. The ongoing operations will include both origin and destination transloading, as well as the ability to provide outside storage for various break-bulk products.
“Our growing presence in the Ohio Region enables Watco the ability to expand on our existing customer relationships, as well as establish new lasting relationships with the surrounding communities,” said Watco Marketing Manager Ryan Krull.
With the commencement of operations at Sandusky, Watco will embark on its 58th terminal location within Watco’s Terminal & Port Services network.
“The team will ensure that we not only meet the needs of our customers, but that we do so in accordance with Watco’s Foundation Principles, by valuing our customers, valuing our people and safely improving each and every day,” said Vice President of Operations Clint Woods.
(WATCO - 7/28)
DOT ANNOUNCES $188 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL IMPLEMENTATION ON COMMUTER RAILROADS:
The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that it will accept applications for $199 million in competitive grant funding for Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation. The grants, which will be selected by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and awarded and administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will help commuter railroads implement PTC, which prevents accidents and saves lives.
“With more passengers depending on rail for transportation, Positive Train Control is needed more than ever,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I encourage all commuter railroads to take full advantage of this opportunity to invest in the most important rail safety technology in more than a century.”
Congress authorized the funding in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and the funding is available for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. PTC technology can prevent certain train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and trains routed to the wrong tracks because a switch was left in the wrong position.
FRA will accept applications until 5 p.m. EDT on Sept. 28, 2016. Projects eligible for grants must develop information that assists in implementing PTC systems, such as costs of installing PTC systems; back office systems; PTC interoperability; technologies that will lower costs, accelerate implementation, enhance interoperability between host and tenant operations, and improve reliability of PTC systems; and support PTC system certification. Eligible applicants include any entity that is eligible to receive grants from the FTA, such as commuter railroads, operators, and state and local governments.
“This funding will get us a bit closer to activating Positive Train Control on some of the most important railroads in the country that transport millions of passengers to their jobs each morning and to their families each night,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “We urge railroads to submit strong applications that make these dollars go as far as possible, and we remain hopeful that Congress will act on the President’s request for more funding to make PTC a reality as quickly as possible.”
In 2008, Congress mandated PTC implementation on certain railroad main lines where railroads transport poisonous-by-inhalation (PIH), or toxic-by-inhalation (TIH), hazardous materials, or any line where a railroad provides regularly scheduled passenger service. Last October, Congress extended the original deadline from December 31, 2015, to at least December 31, 2018.
The President has consistently made funding and assistance for commuter railroads to implement PTC a priority. In his FY 2017 budget request, the President requested $1.25 billion. This follows requests of $825 million in both FY 2015 and FY 2016.
Since 2008, FRA has provided significant assistance to support railroads’ PTC implementation. Those efforts include:
To view a list of when railroads predict that they will achieve full PTC implementation, visit
Railroad by Railroad Positive Train Control (PTC) Status
(USDOT - 7/28)
Offering $25 million in new FY 2016 grant funding to railroads, suppliers and state and local governments;
Providing more than $650 million in grant funds to passenger railroads, including nearly $400 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funding;
Issuing a nearly $1 billion loan to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority to implement PTC on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad;
Building a PTC testbed at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado;
Working directly with the Federal Communications Commission and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to resolve issues related to spectrum use and improve the approval process for PTC communication towers;
Dedicating staff to work on PTC implementation, including establishing a PTC task force.
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 23, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 23, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 528,070 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending July 23 were 261,748 carloads, down 8.7 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 266,322 containers and trailers, down 1.7 percent compared to 2015.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 28.3 percent to 10,916 carloads; grain, up 9.2 percent to 24,038 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.5 percent to 30,432 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 27.5 percent to 10,260 carloads; coal, down 19.4 percent to 83,677 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 13.8 percent to 14,615 carloads.
For the first 29 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,046,228 carloads, down 12.1 percent from the same point last year; and 7,452,843 intermodal units, down 2.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 29 weeks of 2016 was 14,499,071 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.6 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending July 23, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 347,840 carloads, down 9.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 337,939 intermodal units, down 1.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 685,779 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 29 weeks of 2016 was 18,987,941 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.3 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 70,111 carloads for the week, down 10.5 percent, and 61,724 intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 29 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,701,502 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.7 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,981 carloads for the week, down 8.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,893 intermodal units, down 9.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 29 weeks of 2016 was 787,368 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - 7/28)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN SECOND QUARTER RESULTS:
Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported financial results for second-quarter 2016. Net income was $405 million, compared with $433 million during the same period of 2015. Diluted earnings per share were $1.36, 4 percent lower compared with $1.41 per diluted share earned in the second quarter last year.
“Our second-quarter results reflect our unwavering focus on cost-control, steadfast commitment to customer service, and significant improvements in network performance,” said Chairman, President, and CEO James A. Squires. “We are on track to achieve productivity savings of at least $200 million for 2016, and our record first half operating ratio of 69.4 percent gives us confidence we’ll achieve a full-year operating ratio below 70 percent. Through the continued execution of our strategic plan, we remain confident in our ability to drive superior shareholder value through excellent customer service that positions us for future revenue growth, combined with network efficiency and asset utilization.”
(NS, Randy Kotuby - 7/27)
Railway operating revenues were $2.5 billion, down 10 percent compared with second-quarter 2015, due to reduced volumes and lower fuel surcharge revenues. Overall volume declined 7 percent to 1.8 million units for the quarter.
Merchandise revenues were $1.6 billion, 3 percent lower than the same period last year. Volume declined 3 percent, largely due to fewer chemicals shipments resulting from continued low oil prices. The five merchandise commodity groups reported the following year-over-year revenue results:
Chemicals: $426 million, down 6 percent
Agriculture: $383 million, up 1 percent
Metals/Construction: $334 million, down 3 percent
Automotive: $248 million, down 2 percent
Paper/Forest: $186 million, down 5 percent
Intermodal revenues were $538 million, 15 percent lower compared with second-quarter 2015. Volume declined 5 percent primarily due to the restructuring of the company’s Triple Crown Services subsidiary.
Coal revenues were $339 million, 25 percent lower compared with second-quarter 2015. High stockpiles, limited coal burn due to mild winter weather, and sustained low natural gas prices combined to decrease volume by 24 percent.
Railway operating expenses declined 11 percent to $1.7 billion, primarily due to cost reduction initiatives as well as lower fuel costs, compared with the same period of 2015.
Income from railway operations was $770 million, 5 percent lower compared with second-quarter 2015.
The composite service metric improved 13 percent in the quarter and 18 percent for the first six months of 2016, compared with the same periods last year.
The operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, was 68.6 percent, a 140 basis point improvement compared with 70.0 percent in the second quarter of last year.
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR NEW, REIMAGINED SUBWAY CARS RELEASED:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has issued a Request for Proposals for 1,025 new and redesigned subway cars. The RFP sets in motion the process to order and deliver the cars in the most cost-effective and innovative way possible. As part of the RFP process, proposers will be required to submit a U.S. Employment Plan outlining the number and description of U.S. jobs that would be created and/or retained, as well as access to available jobs in connection with certain requirements of the contract.
Last week, Governor Cuomo unveiled designs of the new subway cars which include innovative enhancements to the exteriors and interiors, wider doors, and the addition of up to 750 “Open Car End” designed-cars. The new designs will reduce wait times and increase capacity. These vital investments are part of the record $27 billion, five-year MTA Capital Program secured by Governor Cuomo to renew and expand the MTA network.
“The MTA is the one of the busiest transportation networks in the country and we’re taking the next step toward rebuilding and modernizing New York’s subway system,” Governor Cuomo said. “This action will increase capacity, reduce overcrowding, and enhance the customer experience while creating jobs and building for the future.”
“The MTA’s $27 billion, five-year capital program has the capacity to create tens of thousands of construction, manufacturing, engineering and other jobs,” said MTA Chairman and Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast. “We also recognize that applying the US Employment Plan to this new subway car RFP—supported by the capital program – is a great way to ensure that jobs are also retained by the these contractors and that they are constantly focused on achieving these goals throughout the multiple years of the contract term.”
The proposer must describe in the USEP the quality and range of U.S. employment opportunities expected to be created and retained in connection with the production, delivery, acceptance, testing, and warranty coverage requirements of the contract. The proposer must also describe the direct dollar value and the fringe benefit costs for those jobs, and the commitment the proposer will make to achieve that level of job creation/retention.
The proposer will also be required to submit a workforce impact analysis. The analysis identifies the workforce skills needed to complete the contract and the minimum requirements for each job/skill category, including the percentage of jobs by each job category and the proposer’s plans to develop skills of new hires necessary to meet the basic job qualifications. The analysis will also identify the proposer’s plans to provide career pathways, connecting training completion, on-the-job performance, and advancement through the organizational structure, and the extent to which such skills would be transferrable to other manufacturing positions after the end of production of the railcars.
John Samuelsen, Transit Workers Union Local 100 President, said “Taxpayer dollars that are used to buy equipment like subway cars should create good quality manufacturing jobs here, not overseas. Other agencies will likely follow the MTA’s lead. It is the largest transit agency in the country and often sets the standard for others.”
Madeline Janis, Executive Director, Jobs to Move America said, “By adopting the U.S. Employment Plan, the MTA has included a jobs disclosure and evaluation tool for the purchase of these trains that will improve New York's transit system, create good jobs and revive manufacturing in our communities that need it the most. We commend Governor Cuomo on his leadership and commitment to maximizing taxpayer dollars and improving the economic outcomes of our communities.”
Reimagined and Enhanced Subway Cars The MTA last week issued the RFP for the construction of 1,025 new subway cars, which will highlight that the timeline of design and production, as well as cost-effectiveness, will be central factors in awarding the contract.
The RFP will also emphasize the need to align with MTA design guidelines, which were established after a review of best practices in a number of major metropolitan areas from around the world, and identified several key elements for use in the New York system, including:
• Exterior Features: Design elements for the exterior of the new subway cars include a new blue front with large windows, LED headlights, and a blue stripe with gold accents along the sides
(MTA - 7/27 )
• Open Car End Design: The MTA anticipates that out of 1,025 new cars, up to 750 will feature an Open Car End designed. The Open Car End design replaces the door between cars with an accordion-like connector in order to create longer, open spaces, allowing for greater passenger flow movement and increasing capacity in the process. These cars have become an international standard: in London 31 percent of cars will be Open Car End by the end of the year; in Paris the figure climbs to 37 percent; and in Toronto to 56 percent.
• Wider Doors: The door width of the new cars will be expanded from the current MTA standard of 50 inches to 58 inches. Wider subway doors can reduce delays by allowing customers to enter and exit more quickly, and have become an international standard. According to a computer simulation of passenger flow conducted on behalf of the MTA, in crowded scenarios wider doors can reduce a train’s ‘dwell time’ in the station by 32 percent.
• Customer Amenities & Security: The interior of new cars will also feature a host of new amenities, including WiFi, USB chargers, full color digital customer information displays, digital advertisements, illuminated door opening alerts and security cameras to promote passenger safety.
MTA RELEASES PRELIMINARY 2017 BUDGET AND FOUR YEAR FINANCIAL PLAN:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today released its preliminary 2017 budget and four-year financial plan, continuing to raise targets for administrative and managerial cost savings across all agencies and making a number of investments to improve service quality and customer experience. The agency now expects to identify additional annual recurring savings of $50 million per year starting in 2017, pushing total annual recurring savings to nearly $2 billion by 2020.
The MTA’s 2017 budget and four-year financial plan also proposes more than $1 billion over four years for initiatives to improve customer experience, increase service and service support, increase support for the MTA Capital Program, enhance safety and security, and invest in necessary maintenance and operations.
The four-year financial plan provides $195 million from 2017 to 2020 to support capital projects that will improve the customer experience. This year alone, the MTA will equip 200 buses and 200 subway cars with Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, and digital screens. Next year, an additional 400 subway cars will have these amenities. MTA New York City Transit will also:
The MTA will also invest $36 million in new service, including new Select Bus Service routes in Queens: the Q52/Q53 and Q70. The Long Island Rail Road is restoring its weekend North Fork service to a year-round operation is adding summer trains to connect with Fire Island ferries, relieving congestion on Hamptons-bound trains. New York City Transit and the MTA Bus Company will also make up to $21 million in additional enhancements to the base level of service on subways and buses.
Investments in service support of $21 million will allow NYC Transit to enhance and expand its Lexington Avenue Line platform controller program. MTA Bridges and Tunnels will increase funding to meet increased demand on E-Z Pass New York Customer Service Center operations.
Consistent with the MTA’s long-standing practice of applying debt service savings towards capital funding, some $566 million of debt service savings from lower interest rates (both realized and projected) and from the Hudson Yards lease securitization have been found.
The MTA is proposing to invest an additional $46 million in safety and security initiatives over from 2017 to 2020 to augment existing measures designed to ensure the safety of pedestrians, customers and employees. These investments include upgrading railroad crossings, adding onboard vehicle cameras, “Help Point” intercoms, and security operations throughout the MTA.
The MTA continues to take steps to improve the reliability, efficiency and performance of its infrastructure, facilities and fleet, investing $145 million over the plan period. While these investments may not be as obvious to our customers as some of our other projects, they are essential to the operation of our system. Investments are being made that will improve the performance of certain buses, subway cars and commuter railroad cars. Additional investments are being made to structures and track, including expediting the LIRR’s West Side Yard expansion.
As a result of the cost savings found, the MTA expects to be able to limit the previously announced 2017 and 2019 fare and toll increases to no more than 4%. The increase is projected to provide the MTA with an additional $308 million in annual operating revenue, allowing for projected balanced budgets through 2019; however, a $371 million deficit is projected for 2020.
The MTA’s preliminary budget will be available for public review and comment until it is adopted by the MTA Board; the final proposed budget will be presented to the MTA Board in November and adopted by the MTA Board in December. In the fall, the MTA will present specific proposals for the 2017 all-agency fare and toll increases and will hold a series of public hearings to seek public reactions to the proposals.
(MTA - 7/27 )
- Renovate 31 subway stations throughout NYC
- Introduce Wi-Fi to all 278 underground stations by December 2016
- Introduce a new “contactless” fare payment technology to subways and buses by 2018
CN REPORTS SECOND QUARTER 2016 NET INCOME:
CN today reported its financial and operating results for the second quarter and six-month period ended June 30, 2016.
Second-quarter 2016 financial highlights
Luc Jobin, president and chief executive officer, said: "CN continued to face a very challenging volume environment in the second quarter and maintained strong discipline in realigning resources to keep them in line with reduced freight demand. Service remained solid, key operating metrics advanced, and we continued to improve our safety record. An important product of our cost-management and productivity focus was a record second-quarter operating ratio of 54.5 per cent.
"We expect the second quarter to be the volume trough for the year. For the balance of 2016, we continue to expect some markets to remain strong, including lumber and panels, automotive, and refined petroleum products, and we anticipate a bumper grain crop in Canada. At the same time, international intermodal volumes are expected to remain challenging while shipments of commodities related to oil and gas development, such as crude oil, frac sand and drilling pipe, are expected to decrease relative to last year.
"Given these expectations, we reiterate our April 25, 2016, financial outlook of aiming to deliver 2016 EPS in line with last year's adjusted diluted EPS (1) of C$4.44." (2)
Foreign currency impact on results
Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. The fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar affects the conversion of the Company's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses. On a constant currency basis, (1) CN's net income for the second quarter of 2016 would have been lower by C$23 million, or C$0.03 per diluted share.
Second-quarter 2016 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses
Revenues for the second quarter of 2016 were C$2,842 million, a decrease of nine per cent, when compared to the same period in 2015. Revenues increased for forest products (four per cent), but were more than offset by revenue declines for coal (36 per cent), metals and minerals (17 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (16 per cent), grain and fertilizers (12 per cent), intermodal (four per cent), and automotive (one per cent).
The revenue decline was mainly attributable to decreased shipments of energy-related commodities including crude oil, frac sand, drilling pipe and semi-finished steel products as a result of declining energy markets; reduced shipments of coal due to weaker North American and global demand; lower volumes of Canadian grain to North American and export markets due to lower available supply; and lower applicable fuel surcharge rates. These factors were partly offset by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; freight rate increases; as well as increased shipments of lumber and panels to U.S. markets, and increased domestic retail intermodal shipments.
Carloadings for the quarter declined by 12 per cent to 1,249 thousand.
Revenue ton-miles (RTMs), measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, declined by 11 per cent from the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per RTM, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, increased by one per cent over the year-earlier period, driven by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar and freight rate increases, partly offset by a significant increase in the average length of haul and lower applicable fuel surcharge rates.
Operating expenses for the second quarter decreased by 12 per cent to C$1,549 million, mainly due to lower costs resulting from decreased volumes of traffic, lower fuel prices, lower pension expense and cost-management initiatives, partly offset by the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses.
(CN, Randy Kotuby - 7/26)
Net income was C$858 million, compared with net income of C$886 million for second-quarter 2015. Q2-2016 diluted EPS remained flat at C$1.10. The decrease in net income was mainly due to lower operating income and other income, and higher interest expense; net of related income taxes.
Adjusted diluted EPS (1) of C$1.11 declined three per cent from year-earlier adjusted diluted EPS of C$1.15. The adjusted figures exclude the impact of deferred income tax adjustments resulting from higher provincial corporate income tax rates in both years.
Operating income declined five per cent to C$1,293 million.
Revenues decreased by nine per cent to C$2,842 million. Carloadings declined 12 per cent and revenue ton-miles declined 11 per cent.
Operating expenses declined 12 per cent to C$1,549 million.
Operating ratio of 54.5 per cent was a second-quarter record and an improvement of 1.9-points over the prior-year quarter.
Free cash flow (1) for the first six months of 2016 was C$1,169 million, compared with C$1,051 million for the year-earlier period.
PATH PLANNING JULY 27 FACEBOOK LIVE PRESENTATION ON UPCOMING SUSPENSION OF WEEKEND 33RD STREET LINE SERVICE:
PATH will be Facebook livestreaming interviews with key officials as part of an ongoing effort to provide the public with the most up-to-date information on the PATH capital plan and the suspension of weekend service on the 33rd Street line for federally mandated service and safety improvements, starting Aug. 6.
The live feed is scheduled to begin at 12 noon on Wednesday, July 27 and will run about 45 minutes. Viewers can access it through
The session is the latest in the PATH Education Series and will feature insights from PATH Director/General Manager Mike Marino and Assistant Superintendent Kevin Lejda. They will provide background on the weekend service suspension plan, outline alternative travel options for affected passengers, and discuss the installation of federally mandated communications equipment to upgrade service and safety. There also will be a Q&A period for viewers to ask questions.
Weekend service suspensions on the 33rd Street line are expected to run through mid-December. PATH has held four public meetings in New Jersey on the upcoming closures and a fifth is scheduled for Tuesday, July 26, from 6-8 p.m. at the Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 7th Avenue (at West 33rd Street) in New York.
At the center of the project is installation of Positive Train Control (PTC), an updated safety-enhanced system that the federal government has mandated be completed by the end of 2018. Allotting this weekend work time is essential to improving current and future service. In addition to safety enhancements, this work will provide PATH riders increased reliability in the future, as well as lay the groundwork for increased passenger capacity.
As part of the Port Authority’s 10-Year capital plan, PATH also will upgrade the signal system with Communication Based Train Control (CBTC), which continuously calculates and communicates a train’s exact position, speed, travel direction and safe braking distance. Trains then will be capable of running more frequently and closer together, leading to a projected increase in rush hour service on PATH lines. Additionally, the CBTC system also will allow for further enhancements such as real-time information in PATH stations.
A video explaining PATH’s PTC/CBTC system is available at
. Further updates, bus maps and details related to the service suspensions will be provided as available through the Port Authority’s website, www.panynj.gov/PATH.
(PANYNJ - 7/26)
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATOR: WE ALL MUST DO MORE TO PREVENT FATALITIES AT RAILROAD GRADE CROSSINGS:
In a statement to the railroad industry, states, tech companies and Congress, the Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg today called for greater action to prevent fatalities at the nation’s more than 200,000 railroad crossings. During the last six weeks, there have been three significant incidents, in addition to others, that have killed parents and their children when struck by a train at crossings.
“Over the last six weeks, there have been three significant, tragic railroad crossing incidents. Each took the lives of parents and young children. In San Leandro, California, a mother and her 3-year-old child were killed. In Colorado, a mother, a father and three of their four young children were killed on the way to church. And just this weekend in Arkansas, a mother, her son and two other children were killed.
“These heartbreaking events are in addition to the other 87 people killed and 236 people injured this year at railroad crossings.
“While many of these incidents are still under investigation, we know that they are almost always preventable. And yet, they still happen. Simply put: We must all do more to protect drivers and their passengers, who are frequently children. The responsibility to improve safety at railroad crossings rests on all of us – safety regulators, state and local officials, railroads, law enforcement and even private companies that conduct business in the transportation sector.
“To our state partners: We know you continue to struggle for the necessary funding to close or improve the most dangerous crossings in your state. While the federal government contributes funding to these projects each year through Federal Highways’ Section 130 Program, and in fact has contributed more this year than in years past, states should continue to leverage their funds to prioritize improving safety at the worst railroad crossings, and should apply for federal funds wherever possible.
“To our tech partners: We are grateful for your partnership and for your enthusiasm and willingness to improve safety. But we urge you to integrate our railroad crossing data into your mapping applications and other pertinent technologies as soon as possible. While the full and ultimate safety impact of integrating crossing data into applications remains unknown, we must try everything we can to address this challenge.
“To the Congress: We applaud the additional funding added to Federal Highways’ Section 130 program this year, as well as new funding for a much-needed public media campaign so more people are aware of the dangers of railroad crossings. However, more needs to be done and we encourage you to continue to work with safety regulators, state and local officials, railroads, law enforcement, and private companies.
“To railroads: Along with your continued support for advocacy and awareness campaigns, I hope you will redouble your efforts to integrate new technologies to avoid railroad crossing incidents, and take more aggressive steps to report problematic or dangerous crossings to state and local officials.
“Improving safety and saving lives at railroad crossings has been and continues to be one of the FRA’s highest priorities. We have put more focus and attention on this problem than ever before – through funding, a brighter public spotlight, new attention from FRA safety specialists, new research, new partnerships with tech companies and law enforcement and more aggressive and frequent investigations. We will continue to do all that we can to have a greater impact on this solvable challenge – and we urge our partners and friends to join us.”
(USDOT - 7/26)
L LINE'S CANARSIE TUNNEL TO CLOSE IN 2019 FOR 18 MONTHS TO UNDERGO MASSIVE RECONSTRUCTION:
MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) today announced that the massive reconstruction work needed to the Canarsie Tunnel, which carries the L train under the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan, will require a full closure of the tunnel for 18 months starting no sooner than 2019.
The decision to do the work under a full 18-month tunnel closure instead of a one-track, three-year closure, was made based on a detailed operational review, and only after significant community engagement in order to consider all adverse impacts. Serious consideration was also given to consequences of unplanned outages that would occur if one track was closed for three years.
“While the MTA always looks to avoid service disruptions, there is no question that repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel are critical and cannot be avoided or delayed. Throughout this process we have committed to engaging the community and listening to all concerns so that we can address them as we prepare for this necessary work,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said. “We are committed to working with the community just as closely as we develop ways to add service to help minimize the impacts of the closure.”
Since May, the MTA has held four large-scale, interactive community meetings in communities affected by the upcoming closure including Williamsburg, Bushwick, Canarsie and in Manhattan along the 14th Street corridor; hundreds of riders attended. The meetings were led by MTA Chairman Prendergast, NYCT President Veronique ‘Ronnie’ Hakim, Chief of Operations Planning Peter Cafiero and Senior Vice Presdient for Capital Program Management John O’Grady.
MTA officials also visited all 11 Community Boards along the L Line, which were overwhelmingly in favor of the full, shorter-duration closure. Of the comments MTA received directly through email, social media and at meetings 77 percent were in favor of the full, shorter closure.
“Approximately 80 percent of riders will have the same disruptions with either option. Throughout our extensive outreach process and review, it became clear that the 18-month closure was the best construction option and offered the least amount of pain to customers for the shortest period of time,” President Hakim said. “The 18-month option is also the most efficient way to allow MTA to do the required work. It gives us more control over the work site and allows us to offer contractor incentives to finish the work as fast as possible.”
“We think it is better to have a shorter duration of pain than a longer more unstable process – and risk unplanned closures – by leaving one track open during construction,” Hakim added.
The Canarsie Tunnel was one of nine underwater tunnels that flooded during Superstorm Sandy, all of which required major rehabilitation and repair. Some of that work was accomplished during night and weekend closures, while the R line’s Montague Tunnel under the East River was closed for 13 months and the G line tunnel under Newtown Creek was closed for two months, both for complete renovations.
The Canarsie Tunnel suffered extensive damage to tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls throughout a seven-mile long flooded section of both tubes. Bench walls throughout those sections must be replaced to protect the structural integrity of the two tubes that carry trains through the tunnel.
During this rehabilitation process, the MTA will also make significant improvements to stations and tunnel segments closest to the under-river section. New stairs and elevators will be installed at the Bedford Av station in Brooklyn and the 1 Av station in Manhattan, and three new electric substations will be installed, providing more power to operate additional trains during rush hours.
Procurement of design and construction services for the project must begin to move forward this year in order to ensure that hundreds of millions of federal dollars are not lost.
MTA is now starting the process of fully developing alternative service plans and will continue to work with the community, City and State agencies, and all stakeholders to minimize impacts of the closure with added service including additional capacity on the M, J, and G trains. MTA plans to work closely with the City and State to develop routes and determine service levels needed to accommodate projected ridership.
MTA New York City Transit continues to closely inspect the Canarsie Tunnel and takes steps daily to ensure that it remains reliable until permanent repairs can be performed. Specifically, the agency has stepped up its inspection of the tunnel walls and has installed redundant power cables to ensure the pumping system will operate without interruption, but these are temporary measures and the tunnel must undergo extensive repairs.
Prior to the closure of the Canarsie Tunnel, the agency is preparing to rebuild two crucial sections of the M line in Brooklyn and Queens in order to ensure that two decades-old deteriorating overpasses remain safe for travel.
(MTA - 7/25)
MTA LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD RESUME YEAR-ROUND WEEKEND SERVICE TO GREENPORT:
MTA Long Island Rail Road President Patrick A. Nowakowski today announced that the LIRR plans to provide weekend service to Greenport on a year-round basis.
Weekend service to Greenport, the seaside village and popular summer and fall destination on Suffolk County's North Fork, was scheduled to end after the Thanksgiving Weekend.
"This is a noteworthy improvement in our service to the East End of Long Island," Nowakowski said.
In 2010, the LIRR discontinued weekend service to Greenport during the winter months as part of system-wide cost cutting ordered by the MTA, which was facing a large budget deficit at the time. The belt tightening measures helped the MTA regain its financial footing as the region slowly recovered from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
As the Long Island economy has shown continued improvement, the LIRR has experienced a resurgence in ridership, reaching 87.6 million in 2015, a modern record. Nowakowski also noted today that ridership on the LIRR in June was up for the 17th consecutive month - fueled in part by the growth of travel to the East End of Long Island, including Greenport and to Montauk on the South Fork.
He said the LIRR has heard loud and clear the calls for better train service on the East End from local government officials as well as business and civic groups. He said the Railroad is working with government planers from Suffolk County and from the five East End towns on ideas for both short and long term service improvements.
"One improvement we can make immediately for the North Fork is to extend weekend service from Ronkonkoma to Greenport to year-round," said Nowakowski. "We have in fact included that extra service in the Railroad's July financial plan."
Nowakowski added that the LIRR was "looking forward to continuing the discussion with our East End partners and we are optimistic that we can come up with additional enhancements to improve our service "
(MTA - 7/25)
MBTA BOARD APPROVES $18.5 MILLION FOR RED LINE WINTER RESILIENCY AND INFRASTRUCTURE:
The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) today unanimously approved the awarding of a $18.5 million construction contract for the next phase of Red Line Winter Resiliency improvements announced by the Baker-Polito Administration last year, amounting to $30.4 million total for infrastructure upgrades in preparation for the upcoming winter.
"These critical investments in the resiliency of the MBTA’s core infrastructure and preparation for severe winter weather allow for upgrades that ensure more reliable service for the over one million daily riders who depend on the system each day," said Governor Charlie Baker. "The Fiscal and Management Control Board continues to make significant progress on reforming the system, delivering transparency, cost-effectiveness and accountability for both taxpayers and commuters."
The $18.5 million contract awarded to Barletta Heavy Division, Inc., will deliver a series of significant upgrades along 9.9 miles of the Red Line Braintree and Ashmont Lines, including the replacement of all third rail and heating systems, track and tie renewals, signals, track structure and conduit installations. Total winter resiliency expenses for phase two of efforts announced last year include the contract work awarded to Barletta along with MBTA staff work and costs for materials, engineering, and procurement.
"We look forward to building on the success of phase one during which miles and miles of new third rail was installed along outer portions of the Red Line," said Acting MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. "Working in tandem with Barletta, MBTA forces will continue to make the upgrades necessary to keep the subway operating no matter what Mother Nature throws at us."
The project beginning this summer through December will include the following work:
The first phase of Winter Resiliency Plan improvements completed in 2015 included new 3rd rail and Rail Heater improvements along 13.6 miles of the Red Line from the Andrew Station portal to Quincy Adams. The next phase of work starting now will complete the 3rd rail and rail heater improvements along the entire length of the Red Line South.
To accommodate the winter resiliency work this fall, buses will replace train service on the following weekends:
Braintree Branch: Sept. 10-12, Sept. 24-26, Oct. 1-3, Oct. 8-10, Oct. 15-17, Dec. 3-5,
Ashmont Branch: Oct. 22-24, Dec. 10-12, Dec 17-19
As is customary, the MBTA will keep customers informed of service changes on mbta.com, through T Alerts, and on Twitter @mbta.
The MBTA Winter Resiliency Plan announced by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2015 focused on Infrastructure, Equipment, and Operations improvements on the Red Line and Orange Line to more effectively mitigate the frequency, length and magnitude of system disruptions to public transit during severe weather.
(MBTA - 7/25)
•Replacement of all 3rd rail and associated rail heating systems along 9.9 miles of the Red Line South
•Track and tie renewal between Savin Hill and Fields Corner Stations
•Signal trough and conduit installation between North Quincy and Braintree Stations
•Track structure replacement at Quincy Center, Quincy Adams and Braintree Stations
FRA APPROVES PASSENGER RAIL BLUEPRINT TO CONNECT BOSTON AND NEW HAVEN TO MONTREAL, ADD SERVICE TO CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced a Finding of No Significant Impact on the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative (Initiative). The finding clears the way for states and the federal government to invest in future passenger rail service in New England. The Initiative proposes to restore service between Boston and New Haven through Springfield and Hartford and add new service between Boston and Montreal.
“Existing passenger rail service through New England is limited and already at capacity for a region that is growing,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With an approved blueprint in hand, New England can now move forward to connect people to key job centers and allow students to easily travel to and from New England’s numerous colleges.”
FRA awarded $942,775 to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) through FRA’s Next Generation High-Speed Rail Program to study potential service options and complete the Tier 1 Environmental Assessment, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
FRA found that no significant environmental impacts would result from adding more frequent and higher speed intercity passenger rail service, in large part due to the use of existing operating rail lines within existing rights-of-way. The proposed infrastructure improvements also would be located within existing right-of-way along areas that were in the past double or triple tracked.
“More than two million people live within three miles of a station along this corridor,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “For everyone to move safely and efficiently, the region needs a robust rail system, and this blueprint will help achieve that goal.”
MassDOT and VTrans will coordinate the Initiative with other projects, including NEC FUTURE, FRA’s ongoing comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate, and prioritize future investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The NEC runs from Washington, DC to Boston. Together, this Initiative and NEC FUTURE would provide greater connectivity to central Connecticut, Massachusetts, northern New England, and Montreal.
(FRA - 7/22)
NJT BROAD STREET EXTENSION OF NEWARK LIGHT RAIL CELEBRATES 10 YEARS:
It’s been 10 years since the NJ TRANSIT introduced the Broad Street Extension of the Newark Light Rail system, connecting two of the agency’s busiest train stations to the downtown district in the state’s largest city.
The one-mile-long Broad Street Extension, which links Newark Penn Station with Newark Broad Street, began operating on July 17, 2006. On an average weekday, the Newark Light Rail system accommodates more than 19,000 passenger trips, representing more than 12.2 million annual passenger miles.
“The opening of the Broad Street Extension was a milestone moment for public transportation options for NJ TRANSIT, and this service is thriving today,’’ said interim Executive Director Dennis Martin. “The Extension provides a faster, more convenient commuting option for the thousands who are going to downtown Newark or points beyond. We are proud to offer this convenient option that takes our customers to entertainment venues, work locations and more.’’
The Broad Street Extension allows for increased travel flexibility for customers using NJ TRANSIT’s Morris & Essex and Montclair Boonton rail lines. Those customers can simply depart at Newark Broad Street and easily transfer for service to Newark Penn Station via the Broad Street Extension. Customers may use the Extension to access an increasingly vibrant business and entertainment district and attend events at NJPAC using the NJPAC/Center Street Station.
Construction on the Broad Street Extension cost $207.7 million and was completed on time. The Federal Transit Administration provided $166 million for the project under a full-funding grant agreement.
(NJ Transit - 7/22)
ARKANSAS MIDLAND RAILROAD WILL OPERATE UNIT ETHANOL TRAINS:
Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) (GWR) announced that beginning this fall, its Arkansas Midland Railroad Company, Inc. (AKMD) subsidiary will offer the first ethanol unit train solution for the North Little Rock and surrounding gasoline-blending markets, serving the JP Energy terminal, which is the largest terminal at North Little Rock’s tank farm complex. Unit trains, which are able to handle up to 108 railcars, will be unloaded directly to JP Energy’s ethanol storage tanks on premises for onsite blending or direct outbound truck loading.
Prior to this, the local ethanol market was served only by truck deliveries and single-car rail shipments.
“AKMD is proud to bring this unique and efficient delivery solution to JP Energy and its customers,” Dewayne Swindall, president of AKMD, said. “It demonstrates the railroad’s ability to be a major transportation partner to surrounding industry and create logistics options that can lower costs for both area businesses and their customers.”
“Partnering with AKMD has enabled us to provide our customers with the most cost effective ethanol supply possible in Central Arkansas and beyond,” Cory Willis, senior vice president of terminals and distribution at JP Energy Partners, said. “By locating the unit train offload facilities directly adjacent to our terminal, we’re able to reduce unnecessary truck traffic and product transfers, further enhancing the efficiency and safety of our terminal operations.”
With the EPA’s mandate to increase the amount of biofuel mixed into the fuel supply, demand for ethanol blending is expected to increase, making a strong market for ethanol use in North Little Rock.
VIA RAIL AND UNIFOR MEMBERS RATIFY A NEW HISTORIC 4 YEAR DEAL:
VIA Rail Canada announced that members of UNIFOR, the union that represents the 1,800 of 2,500 of VIA Rail employees who work in stations, customer service centres, maintenance centres and administrative offices voted on Wednesday to ratify a 4-year labour agreement. The agreement was accepted by a strong majority of 80%.
"We are pleased to have reached this historical 4-year agreement that benefits all parties and allows us to continue to focus on the customer. It also demonstrates the commitment and optimism UNIFOR members have towards VIA Rail’s future,” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail. "The increase in revenue and ridership we’ve seen in that last two years is the direct result of the positive collaboration and dedication of our employees to superior customer service."
“Once more, we thank the local UNIFOR leadership team and its national president Jerry Dias as well as our respective negotiating teams for their hard work and commitment throughout the process. The professionalism and support that Labour Canada's mediation team demonstrated under the experienced leadership of Guy Baron, Director General, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services was of great help. This agreement allows us to move forward with our many different projects and initiatives aimed at making VIA Rail service the greener, more human and smarter way to move people in Canada," concluded Yves Desjardins-Siciliano.
(VIA Rail Canada
- posted 7/16)
SPECIAL EXCURSION OVER THROUGH MASSACHUSETTS AND CONNECTICUT P&W ANNOUNCED:
The Mass Bay RRE has announced a special excursion train, operating on Saturday, October 29, 2016, from
Worcester, Putnam, CT, Groton, Old Saybrook, Essex, CT., and Goodspeeds & return. The TWO RIVERS STEAM SPECIAL, operating over three railroads with diesel and STEAM power. Depart Worcester 8:30 AM over Providence & Worcester Norwich Branch. Additional passenger stop at Putnam, CT, continuing through Plainfield and Norwich, alongside the Thames River to Groton, then over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to Old Saybrook, turning north on the Valley Railroad. From there, Valley's 2-8-2 steam locomotive New Haven 3025 will ake our train through Essex and along the Connecticut River to the end of the operable track at Goodspeeds, CT. The 3025 will run around before returning to Old Saybrook. Change locomotives, then return thru Groton and Norwich to Worcester.
More info at at
Call us at 978-470-2066, or send email to email@example.com or by postal mail at Mass Bay RRE, Box 4245, Andover, MA 01810.
(Mass Bay RRE
- posted 7/15)
SEPTA REGIONAL RAIL SCHEDULE ENHANCEMENTS EFFECTIVE THIS MONDAY:
Starting Monday, July 18, SEPTA will adjust Regional Rail schedules to address crowding and maximize the use of leased trains already in service, as well as the addition of new cars arriving this weekend.
An additional five cars, which are being leased from the Maryland Area Commuter Service (MARC), will be put into service on SEPTA's Regional Rail system Monday, and another five are expected by mid-next week. This adds to the 18 leased passenger cars that were put into use this week, including five from Amtrak, eight from NJ Transit and the first five from MARC. When the last of the MARC vehicles arrive mid-next week, SEPTA will have 28 leased passenger rail cars in service.
The schedule changes, combined with the deployment of leased cars, will allow SEPTA to better alleviate problems for customers due to the Silverliner V fleet being taken out of service following the discovery of a structural defect. SEPTA will continue making Regional Rail schedule changes to accommodate riders during this rail-car shortage.
"This is an evolving process, and we will continue to make changes to optimize service for our customers," said General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "We are extremely grateful for the use of this additional rail equipment. MARC, Amtrak and NJ Transit have been great partners in what is a very challenging time for our customers."
The Regional Rail Interim Weekday Schedule changes effective Monday, July 18 will include enhancements on some of SEPTA's most heavily traveled lines, including the Glenside Combined, Lansdale/Doylestown, Manayunk/Norristown, Paoli/Thorndale and Warminster Lines.
Timetables for this latest schedule change will be posted online by Saturday, July 16 at http://www.septa.org/service/contingency.htm
. Customers are urged to continue checking SEPTA's website for future schedule updates, particularly before the start of the work week.
For information on alternate modes of transit, including bolstered service on the Market-Frankford, Broad Street and Norristown High Speed Lines and Route 101/102 Trolleys.
- posted 7/15)
FLORIDA EAST COAST CELEBRATES FIRST BIG SHIP VIA EXPANDED CANAL:
On Saturday July 9, Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) celebrated with its partners, the arrival of MOL Majesty, the first neo-panamax vessel to transit the expanded Panama Canal bound for PortMiami. The MOL Majesty is part of the G6 Alliance Transpacific PA2 service, originating in Asia.
Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami-Dade County Mayor, and Panama Canal Authority Administrator, Jorge Quijano, were among the distinguished guests who joined PortMiami, FECR and other partners to welcome the MOL Majesty.
“We were glad to be at the celebration in support of our partner, PortMiami. FECR has invested in infrastructure and equipment to support multi-modal shipping and global trade into and out of South Florida, and can support neo-panamax vessels such as the MOL Majesty,” said James R. Hertwig, President and CEO of Florida East Coast Railway. “We offer customers a seamless transfer of goods from ship to our on-dock rail facility that allows fast access to 70 percent of the U.S. population, reaching key Southeast markets of Atlanta and Charlotte in two days.”
FECR re-established on-dock intermodal rail service at PortMiami allowing import and export cargo to be loaded directly onto, or off of, awaiting trains, linking the port to 70% of the U.S population in 4 days or less. FECR can also facilitate the transloading of international freight into fewer domestic containers for inland moves, to markets such as Memphis, Chicago, Cincinnati and Dallas.
"A new big ship era is here and PortMiami and its partners are ready," said PortMiami Director and CEO Juan M. Kuryla. “The completion of PortMiami's deep dredge and FECR’s on-dock intermodal rail projects cannot be overstated. PortMiami is now positioned as the most reliable, convenient and efficient global hub on the North American East Coast serving the world's leading ocean carriers."
Experts expect an increase of 10 percent in shipments to be rerouted through the now expanded Panama Canal to eastern seaboard ports like PortMiami. FECR expects to grow their share of container traffic transported following the expansion and shift in trade routes.
- posted 7/14)
CSX ANNOUNCES SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS:
CSX Corporation today announced second quarter 2016 net earnings of $445 million, or $0.47 per share, down from $553 million, or $0.56 per share, in the same period of last year.
“CSX continued to drive strong customer service and network efficiency in a challenging market, which is expected to persist throughout this year,” said Michael J. Ward, chairman and chief executive officer. “In this environment, the company continues to right-size resources while making strategic investments to transform the company and capitalize on market opportunities to drive long-term value creation.”
Revenue for the quarter declined 12 percent, driven primarily by an overall 9 percent volume decline that impacted nearly all markets, including coal declines of more than 30 percent, which more than offset pricing gains from an improving service product.
Expenses improved 9 percent in the quarter, driven by efficiency gains of $96 million, lower volume-related costs of $86 million as CSX further aligned its cost structure with current and future market dynamics, and $56 million from reduced fuel prices.
Despite the strong efficiency performance in the quarter, operating income decreased 17 percent to $840 million and the operating ratio increased 210 basis points year-over-year to 68.9 percent.
Looking forward, CSX continues to expect 2016 full-year earnings per share to decline, reflecting the ongoing transition in the energy markets, along with the impact of the strong U.S. dollar and low commodity prices. As the company positions itself to serve the markets of tomorrow, CSX remains focused on maximizing shareholder value and achieving a mid-60s operating ratio longer term.
- posted 7/13)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 8, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 9, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 442,113 carloads and intermodal units, down 17.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending July 9 were 226,615 carloads, down 16.5 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 215,498 containers and trailers, down 17.9 percent compared to 2015.
Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 12.2 percent to 9,283 carloads; and grain, up 12 percent to 20,746 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 23.4 percent to 72,998 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, down 20.9 percent to 29,069 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 19 percent to 10,432 carloads and motor vehicles and parts, also down 19 percent to 12,399 carloads.
For the first 27 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,521,831 carloads, down 12.5 percent from the same point last year; and 6,928,501 intermodal units, down 2.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 27 weeks of 2016 was 13,450,332 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending July 9, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 308,693 carloads, down 15 percent compared with the same week last year, and 285,660 intermodal units, down 15.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 594,353 carloads and intermodal units, down 15 percent. North American rail volume for the first 27 weeks of 2016 was 17,627,433 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.4 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 66,806 carloads for the week, down 11.3 percent, and 58,653 intermodal units, down 6.6 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 27 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,442,792 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.8 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,272 carloads for the week, down 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,509 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 27 weeks of 2016 was 734,309 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, remaining flat from the same point last year.
- posted 7/13)
NJ TRANSIT TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL TRAIN SERVICE FOR THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP:
NJ TRANSIT is gearing up to be a critical “link to the links’’ for thousands of golf fans attending the 98th
PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ, from July 25 through July 31. Reserve ticketing will be available
for those traveling from Hoboken Terminal and Penn Station New York on Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31.
“NJ TRANSIT has been working together with the PGA to provide a transportation plan that will support
the needs of visitors attending the event,’’ said NJ TRANSIT’s interim Executive Director Dennis Martin.
“We encourage those utilizing NJ TRANSIT for their travel to the tournament on the weekend to purchase the
special reserve tickets and regularly check our website at www.njtransit.com/pga for up-to-the-minute schedule information.
We look forward to welcoming the PGA and golf enthusiasts from around the world for the event.’’
Golf enthusiasts planning to attend the Championship on Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31,
may purchase reserved round-trip tickets in advance online for a specific train departing from
Hoboken Terminal or Penn Station New York, for guaranteed seating. These tickets will be on sale until they are sold out.
The web tickets go on sale Saturday, July 23, at www.PGAChampionship.com
. Train tickets also can be purchased from ticket vending machines
and ticket windows at train stations or on your mobile device through NJ TRANSIT’s mobile app using the MyTix ticket purchasing feature.
Customers should purchase their tickets in advance of the event to ensure availability.
On Weekends, Kids Ride Free on NJ TRANSIT
PGA-goers traveling with children should note that on weekends, families riding NJ TRANSIT
can save with the Family SuperSaver Fare, which allows two children 5 -11 to travel free with each fare-paying adult.
In addition, up to three children 4 and under can ride free with each fare-paying adult at all times.
NJ TRANSIT will add additional train service from Hoboken Terminal and Penn Station New York to
accommodate expected ridership increases.
Once visitors reach Summit Station, a PGA-contracted, private bus vendor will take them to the
golf club. Customers should make note of the schedule for trains departing Summit at the end of the tournament.
Special train departure cards will be distributed to customers by NJ TRANSIT employee Ambassadors on
hand to assist them during their travels to and from the tournament. Ambassadors will be at key stations
within the system including Penn Station New York, Hoboken Terminal and Summit Station.
NJ TRANSIT Regular Customers
Our regular customers are asked to pack their patience as they travel on the NJ TRANSIT system during this
time as ridership increases may cause crowding conditions. To avoid delays, round-trip tickets should be purchased
in advance by using the MyTix feature in NJ TRANSIT’s mobile app, from ticket vending machines or at ticket windows.
To accommodate expected crowds, ongoing repair projects at the Summit Station will be cancelled during the
week of the PGA Championship. Customers are encouraged to visit www.njtransit.com/pga for more details.
- posted 7/12)
Purchase round-trip tickets in advance to avoid potentially long lines.
Purchase tickets online at www.njtransit.com/pga starting July 23.
Use the MyTix feature on NJ TRANSIT’s mobile app for a seamless experience.
Plan accordingly. PGA guests should familiarize themselves with NJ TRANSIT schedules
fares prior to starting their trip. Visit www.njtransit.com/pga
More details about the 2016 PGA Championship can be found at
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U-HAUL REUSES HISTORIC PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD WAREHOUSE IN SOUTH PHILLY:
U-Haul Moving & Storage of Riverview is located at 8 E. Oregon Ave. U-Haul took possession of the century-old industrial refrigeration building on March 30 and has been offering truck and trailer rentals, towing equipment, moving supplies and boxes, and U-Box portable moving and self-storage containers since opening in April.
"This building is a piece of history," U-Haul Company of South Philadelphia president Dominic Catalano said. "It was built in the early 1900s and was a major key in the railroad system. Now, U-Haul is reusing an iconic South Philly building to make sure less carbon emissions are being put into the air all while keeping this city's great history alive."
Contact U-Haul Moving & Storage of Riverview at (267) 758-8715 or stop by to visit general manager Kelly Turnage and her team. Hours of operation are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday; 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Reserve equipment at uhaul.com or contact Reservations at 1-800-GO-UHAUL.
When store renovations are completed in early 2017, U-Haul customers will have access to more than 1,000 indoor self-storage units at affordable rates. Climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled units will be available, and the facility will showcase state-of-the-art security features.
"This will be the best storage facility in South Philadelphia," Catalano said. "With the proximity to three major highways, we are in an area that can serve a lot of customers and communities."
Catalano added that the 330,000-square-foot store employs six local Team Members, with room for additional local hires as self-storage phases are completed.
"U-Haul will be a success at this location," Turnage said. "We are right by the waterfront and the docks. A lot of customers appreciate the old building. There are pillars everywhere. It looks like a castle. I'm excited to see everything come together."
(Randy Kotuby, U-Haul Moving & Storage
- posted 7/12)
SEPTA LEASES EQUIPMENT AND REVISES WEEKDAY SCHEDULES:
SEPTA is currently leasing Amtrak, MARC, and NJ Transit equipment due to their fleet of Silverliner V emus being out of service with truck issues. With the addition
of the leased equipment, SEPTA has revised their
- posted 7/11)
AMTRAK AND PARTNERS ANNOUNCE DESIGN TEAM FOR CHICAGO UNION STATION:
The restoration of Chicago Union Station took a significant step forward today, as Amtrak, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago area transportation leaders from Metra, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced plans to begin the next phase of planning, historic review and preliminary engineering for the historic transportation hub. The selection of the Arup team will bring international and regional experience in the design and renovation of transportation infrastructure, to the Union Station project.
Amtrak, and its partners—the City of Chicago, Metra and the RTA– are jointly funding design services for improvements to address the most immediate issues of passenger capacity, service, safety, accessibility, and mobility issues in and around the station. The work on these 13 near-term (Phase 1) improvements was identified in the 2012 City-led master plan.
Working closely with Amtrak, and its partners, Arup will advance design work in a number of areas including expanded concourses and entrances, widening of platforms, ADA compliance, pedestrian passageways and issues related to ventilation.
“Chicago Union Station is an enormous asset to Amtrak as well as the City of Chicago,” said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak Executive Vice President/Chief of Business Development. “We are excited to begin this first phase of the efforts to improve this vibrant transportation hub, in collaboration with our partners. These efforts, combined with related efforts to advance new customer amenities and spur development of Amtrak’s historic Station Headhouse and other assets, could catapult Union Station back into its role as a central anchor of the West Loop neighborhood.”
“We are making Union Station a true transit hub and economic engine by doubling down on transportation investments that create jobs and transform neighborhoods,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Union Station provides an essential link to economic, cultural and recreational opportunities for Chicago’s residents, visitors and businesses. Modernizing Union Station is one of the ways we are working together to build a 21st century infrastructure to power Chicago’s 21st century economy.”
“This work is essential to developing plans to address critical pedestrian flow and ventilation issues at Union Station, but we still have much work to do,” said Metra Chairman Martin Oberman. “We will need to work together to identify the funding to undertake this major public improvement in order to advance this work. I look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners to secure that funding so that we can transform this historic building into a modern facility.”
“I understand the importance of this work on Union Station as both RTA Chairman and as a rider,” said RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard. “I take Metra in and out of Union Station daily. It is a key transit station that serves Metra as well as CTA and now Pace Bus on Shoulder express riders. We must move this project forward both to restore this iconic building to its former glory and to assure the safety and comfort of our customers.”
“Union Station is a significant hub for commuter, passenger and freight rail not only for Chicago, but for the entire nation. I’m pleased that Amtrak is addressing its most immediate concerns like accessibility and mobility issues,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois. “In Congress, I will keep fighting on the House Appropriations Committee for transportation and infrastructure funding for the greater Chicagoland area so that it continues to be a city that Americans want to live in, work and visit.”
Arup’s team for the execution of Phase 1A is heavily experienced in the design and operation of globally acclaimed and historically significant multimodal transportation hubs, and the direction of large scale renovation and improvement projects while recognizing the need to maintain the transportation facility’s operational capacity. The team includes local, regional, and international experts with the experience to restore this Daniel Burnham-designed station to its prominence on Chicago’s list of world class architecture.
“Arup is delighted to lead the team of experts that will take Chicago Union Station into the next century,” said John Eddy, principal and project manager at Arup. “This project will reflect the station’s status as the major multimodal transit powerhouse for the city and region. We look forward to collaborating with Amtrak and the Project Partners to create an efficient, vibrant, and modern transit hub.”
The work under Phase 1A is expected to last approximately 18 months. Opportunities for public comment and involvement will be announced and advertised on
- posted 7/11)
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA ON THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE LAC-MEGANTIC TRADEDY:
On July 6 Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement on the third anniversary of the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic:
"Today, we pause in solemn remembrance of those whose lives were lost, and in support of those whose lives were irreparably changed by the tragic events that took place in Lac-Mégantic on July 6, 2013.
"In the face of unimaginable pain and loss, the people of Lac-Mégantic have shown incredible resilience and courage. A few months ago, when the community of Fort McMurray was devastated by wildfires, the community of Lac-Mégantic reached out with an immediate outpouring of support. Canadians continue to be deeply moved by the strength and selflessness of the people of Lac-Mégantic, who lent a hand to distant neighbours, even while their own efforts to rebuild continue.
"Rail safety remains a top priority for the Government of Canada, and we will continue to take steps to improve the safety of the Canadian rail system. The Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, visited Lac-Mégantic in April to hear from those most directly affected by the tragedy.
"To the people of Lac-Mégantic, please know that you have our steadfast support as you continue to recover and heal. We remember you and all that you lost, and will use this memory to strengthen our resolve to make our railroads the safest in the world, and ensure the tragic events of Lac-Mégantic never happen again."
(Prime Minister's Office
- posted 7/08)
"AMTRAK ROLLS OUT THE WELCOME MAT AT 30TH STREET:
Efforts to improve Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station reach new milestones as the city of Philadelphia prepares to host the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in July. Several new enhancements at the major transportation hub will soon greet daily passengers and the large number of convention-goers expected to converge on Philadelphia for the 4-day convention.
After being closed for renovations the last three months, the restrooms located in the retail-area of 30th Street Station and the restoration of the historic station entrance doors located on the east portico will be complete in mid-July. Both of these projects are part of a $56 million investment to upgrade Amtrak’s 3rd busiest station. The restrooms on the north side of the station have received a spruce-up and a splash of color thanks to the addition of new wall borders.
Furthermore, Amtrak has partnered with the University City District (UCD) to enhance the interior of the station. Beginning this week, thousands of visitors and customers traveling through 30th Street Station, will be greeted with “living walls” or vertical and horizontal planters placed throughout the station. The plants were installed and will be maintained by UCD’s Green City Works crew. For the station’s exterior, a separate project, utilizing patriotic red, white and blue lights will bathe the 29th Street facade beginning July 23.
“We’ve always seen 30th Street Station as more than a transportation hub; It is a destination in itself,” said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak Executive Vice President/Chief of Business Development. “These new enhancements along with the progress we’re making in the ongoing restoration project, show Amtrak’s commitment to working with the community to maintain this national historic landmark’s status as a first-class facility for customers.”
Amtrak also welcomes new vendor Milkhouse, famous for grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream, on July 15 as one of several new food options for customers. In addition, for two weeks beginning July 18 through July 29, Amtrak hosts a Taste of Philly with kiosks in the main concourse selling local favorites including Philly Pretzel Factory Soft Pretzels, TastyKakes, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews and Frank’s Soda.
Amtrak makes intercity travel to Philadelphia easy with downtown to downtown access from cities across the Northeast Corridor and beyond. 30th Street Station is minutes away from major convention venues and provides connections to SEPTA and New Jersey Transit commuter rail services and other local transportation options.
- posted 7/07)
$165 MILLION FASTLANE GRANT FOR VIRGINIA'S ATLANTIC GATEWAY PROJECT:
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia’s proposed Atlantic Gateway Project has been selected for a federal FASTLANE grant of $165 million.
Combined resources for the project, including the federal grant, private investment and public funding, total $1.4 billion to address the worst bottlenecks on the I-95 corridor in Northern Virginia, transforming travel along the entire East Coast.
The project will enhance passenger and freight rail along the corridor, improving reliability and capacity on the East Coast’s rail network, and increase bus service. The 95 Express Lanes will be extended both to the north and south, offering commuters a reliable trip from Fredericksburg to the Potomac River, and points in between. Expanded bus service will also help keep more cars off of the road and shorten commute times.
“Winning this significant federal grant will allow Virginia to move forward on a project that will transform travel conditions and stimulate economic growth across our Commonwealth,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Our administration worked with federal, state, local and private sector parties to submit a package of transportation improvements that will have far-reaching benefits for everyone who travels the Commonwealth, whether by car, bus or train.
“Transportation leaders came to the table with one clear goal: improve travel in the most heavily traveled corridor in the Southeast by investing in road and rail improvements to move people and commerce more efficiently, not only through Virginia, but also from Florida to New York. I thank the USDOT for having the vision to select the Atlantic Gateway project for the FASTLANE grant. The Atlantic Gateway will create jobs and contribute to our efforts to build a new Virginia economy, and we could not have moved forward without this important federal funding.”
The $165 million FASTLANE grant will leverage $565 million in private investments and $710 million in other transportation funds to:
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne added, “Our team has worked for two years to develop the Atlantic Gateway project for consideration under the FASTLANE grant program. Our selection is the result of support and cooperation from elected officials, local and regional leaders, chambers of commerce, the transportation industry, our private sector partners, and many others who clearly see the Atlantic Gateway project is absolutely essential to Northern Virginia and Virginia’s long-term economic competitiveness. This grant will allow the Commonwealth to transform the 95 corridor into a true multimodal corridor that better manages traffic and increases travel choices for people and goods.”
The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation are ready to work with the private industry and the state’s partners in federal, state and local governments to build improvements.
The program will move to construction in phases, and portions will start as early as 2017. Much of the upfront environmental and engineering work is complete or underway.
(Virginia Department of Transportation
- posted 7/07)
Build 14 miles of new rail track to improve reliability and capacity for freight, commuter, and passenger rail service, including phase I of the project to unlock rail congestion at Long Bridge
- Extend 95 Express Lanes for seven miles north to the Potomac River and improve access to the Pentagon
- Extend the 95 Express Lanes 10 miles south to Fredericksburg to alleviate backups at the current southern terminus
- Construct a new southbound bridge on I-95 across the Rappahannock River
- Provide dedicated on-going reinvestment in expanded bus service in the corridor to ensure that all populations have access to jobs, education and health care services
- Add new commuter parking, technology upgrades and truck parking along the corridor
- Build pavement for autonomous vehicle enhancement; this will provide the infrastructure to test and deploy driverless cars
- Acquire the S-line, an abandoned rail corridor that runs from North Carolina to the Richmond area, from CSX to provide public ownership of a corridor key for future Southeast High Speed Rail.
"TRAIN YOUR BRAIN" TO CROSS RAILROAD TRACKS CAREFULLY AND GET HOME SAFELY:
Norfolk Southern is bringing its Train Your Brain public safety campaign to Indiana to encourage motorists to be smart and safe when crossing train tracks.
Billboards, with messages such as "Your fan club is waiting" and "He looks up to you," remind Indiana residents to cross railroad tracks carefully because their loved ones depend on them to return home safely. The billboards are going up this week in Gary, Goshen, Lafayette, Muncie, New Albany, Wabash, and Warsaw, Ind.
"We're turning our focus to Indiana because of the high number of deaths and injuries in the state as a result of vehicle-train incidents," said John A. Irwin, assistant vice president safety and environmental. "These important public safety messages will resonate clearly, as Indiana ranked fourth highest in the U.S. for vehicle-train collisions in 2015, with 118 incidents resulting in 51 deaths and injuries." Nationwide, highway-rail grade crossing incidents resulted in more than 1,200 serious injuries and deaths last year.
"Train Your Brain" safety messages will be promoted through radio, print, and billboard advertisements, on gas pumps at convenience stores, and in short videos in movie theaters. To reach drivers 18-34, who statistically are among the most at-risk for highway-rail incidents, "Train Your Brain" also is sponsoring activities at the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, and Ball State University athletic events, as well as at Gary South Shore RailCats baseball games.
The campaign's mascot, "Brainy," a giant pink walking brain, will make appearances at fairs, festivals, and sporting events in these communities to share public safety tips and distribute giveaways.
Now in its 10th year, Norfolk Southern's "Train Your Brain" public safety campaign has operated in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee, reaching more than seven million people through event appearances. This is the second time the campaign has been in Indiana. The state also was targeted in 2009-2010.
Norfolk Southern also is a long-time supporter of the national railroad safety awareness organization, Operation Lifesaver, a national organization dedicated to preventing accidents on the nation's freight and passenger rail systems. The nonprofit organization's "See Tracks? Think Train" campaign promotes pedestrian and motorist safety near railroad tracks and trains.
( Norfolk Southern
- posted 7/06)
cAPEFLYER 4TH OF JULY RIDERSHIP EXCCEEDS 2,000:
The CapeFLYER is very pleased to announce that over 2,000 passengers rode the train to and from Cape Cod over the holiday weekend. It is truly exciting to watch the genuine enthusiasm being displayed by the hundreds of visitors who choose to ride our unique seasonal rail service as opposed to having to sit in traffic for hours trying to make their way to our beautiful piece of the Commonwealth. We now have several options to get around when you arrive such as local buses, ridesharing, shuttles to the ferries, Zipcar and biking that will conveniently get you to your final Cape destination. "The 4th of July really signifies the beginning of the summer and we anticipate having busy weekends and happy customers right through Labor Day" stated CCRTA Administrator Tom Cahir. "Whether for a day trip, a weekend visiting family and friends or any other reason let the train do the driving so your vacation can begin as soon as you are on-board," Cahir added.
About the CapeFLYER: The CapeFLYER operates as a dedicated train on Friday nights leaving South Station at 5:50 PM with stops in Braintree, Brockton, Middleboro, Wareham, Buzzards Bay and Hyannis. Trains also operate on Saturdays and Sundays and holiday Mondays until Labor Day weekend. The complete schedule is available at www.capeflyer.com.
In addition to a convenient trip to Cape Cod, the CapeFLYER works closely with the ferry operators to provide convenient connections to and from Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Cape Cod RTA buses are available at Buzzards Bay and Hyannis to bring passengers to the Cape communities. Finally, the CapeFLYER operates a café car that sells excellent food and drinks, including beer and wine, provided by Blonde on the Run Catering.
The CapeFLYER is a unique partnership between the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. For additional information, including a complete schedule, fares and information about connections, please visit: .
- posted 7/06)
CP RESPONDS TO STATEMENTS FROM TCRC-MWED LEADERSHIP:
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) (CP) today responded to incorrect, misleading and inflammatory claims by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference – Maintenance of Way Employees Division (TCRC-MWED) leadership.
Counter to union leadership's statements that recently announced layoffs at CP were in violation of the law, CP has in fact been working closely with Transport Canada, meeting or exceeding all requirements, as well as all applicable requirements of the union's collective agreement.
CP must adjust staffing levels according to business ebbs and flows associated with global markets and operational efficiency gains. The layoffs affect 260 current Maintenance of Way positions and 240 vacant positions.
These layoffs will not impact CP's commitment to safety – the frequency of both visual inspections and ultrasonic rail flaw detection remains unchanged. CP will continue to meet or exceed all regulatory requirements for track inspection and maintenance as set out in the Track Safety Rules.
Since the staffing level changes pose no risk to employees, the public, property or the environment, CP concluded a risk assessment was not required. Transport Canada was notified and agreed with this conclusion.
It is irresponsible of union leadership to provide misstatements to the public that subvert the facts and undermine CP's commitment to rail safety in an effort to further the union leadership's own interests.
- posted 7/06)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR JUNE AND WEEK ENDING JULY 2, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for June 2016.
Carload traffic in June totaled 1,245,025 carloads, down 7 percent or 93,687 from June 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,295,240 containers and trailers in June 2016, down 5.6 percent or 76,920 units from the same month last year. For June 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,540,265, down 6.3 percent or 170,607 carloads and intermodal units from June 2015.
In June 2016, six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with June 2015. These included: grain, up 13.8 percent or 12,982 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 17 percent or 4,569 carloads; and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 16.4 percent or 2,907 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in June 2016 from June 2015 included: coal, down 16.4 percent or 73,194 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 22.2 percent or 15,415 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel and sand, down 6.6 percent or 7,727 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were down 2.3 percent or 20,493 carloads in June 2016 from June 2015.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 26 weeks of 2016 was 6,295,216 carloads, down 12.3 percent or 886,579 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 6,713,003 units, down 2.1 percent or 147,056 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2015. For the first six months of 2016, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 13,008,219 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.4 percent or 1,033,635 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.
"Rail traffic remains relatively weak, with slightly better coal volumes in June offset by continued weakness in intermodal caused in part by an inventory overhang and global economic uncertainty," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Because current economic indicators are presenting a mixed picture, it's not clear if railroads should be pessimistic or cautiously optimistic about the near- to medium term."
Week Ending July 2, 2016
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending July 2, 2016 was 529,191 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Jul. 2 were 264,015 carloads, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 265,176 containers and trailers, up 4 percent compared to 2015. Please note: The July 4 holiday is not included in Week 26 data for 2016, but is included in Week 26 data of 2015. Therefore, Week 26 data for 2016 is somewhat overstated compared to Week 26 of 2015.
Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 30.9 percent to 10,824 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 29 percent to 18,742 carloads; and grain, up 26.4 percent to 23,248 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 were petroleum and petroleum products, down 18.2 percent to 11,186 carloads; coal, down 4.8 percent to 79,354 carloads; and forest products, down 0.3 percent to 11,019 carloads.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jul. 2, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 350,358 carloads, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 333,729 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 684,087 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 26 weeks of 2016 was 17,033,080 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.1 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 68,940 carloads for the week, down 6.3 percent, and 57,454 intermodal units, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 26 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,317,333 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.7 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,403 carloads for the week, up 12.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,099 intermodal units, up 6.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 26 weeks of 2016 was 707,528 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.1 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 7/06)
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES ACCELERATED ROLLOUT OF THE MTA eTIX MOBILE TICKETING APP:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the accelerated rollout of MTA eTix, a free MTA app that will allow Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad customers to purchase train tickets anytime, anywhere with their mobile devices. The app, which was scheduled for completion by the end of 2016, will now be available to all riders of both railroads by the end of this summer.
“Our administration remains committed to building a transit network that is responsive to the needs of travelers who rely on mass transportation, and the launch of the MTA eTix app is a major step forward in our efforts,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new app puts riders first by eliminating the ticket line and helping New Yorkers and visitors get where they need to go with more freedom and convenience than ever before. We will continue to create a 21st century transit system that embraces innovation to ensure that we are building a stronger, more competitive New York.”
“Governor Cuomo has asked us to make this app broadly available as quickly as possible, and we’ve responded with an aggressive roll out schedule that will make MTA eTix available to all LIRR and Metro-North riders before the end of August,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast. “With the launch of this new app riders can buy their tickets wherever and whenever they want, and that means more choice, and greater convenience.”
LIRR and Metro-North customers can check schedules, see service status, and purchase tickets without waiting in line. The app also offers account management tools, giving railroad customers the ability to secure refunds for unused mobile tickets, request duplicate receipts, and manage profile info such as password and linked credit card numbers. MTA eTix will first debut on the LIRR’s Port Washington Branch and Metro-North’s Hudson Line today. After introducing the app on these two rail lines,
the MTA will make e-ticketing available to all LIRR and Metro North customers by the end of 2016.
MTA eTix can be accessed as a stand-alone app or through the popular TrainTime apps and can be downloaded for free for iPhone and Android phone users.
o view the app,
To learn more about the app,
Customers who prefer paper tickets will be unaffected by the new app
- posted 7/05)
SEPTA SILVERLINER V EMU FLEET REMOVED FROM SERVICE:
SEPTA has identified a defect with its Silverliner V Regional Rail cars that has resulted in these trains being taken out of service for the immediate future. This will impact customers starting Tuesday, July 5, as SEPTA's passenger capacity for weekday travel will be reduced.
All 120 Silverliner Vs, which SEPTA received between 2010 and 2013 and comprise approximately one- third of the Regional Rail fleet, are out of service. There will be no service impact today or on Monday, July 4th, as weekend/holiday schedules are already in place, and can be maintained utilizing the rest of the Regional Rail fleet.
Starting Tuesday, SEPTA is implementing its modified Saturday schedule that was developed for weather emergencies, with added rush hour trips. Rush hour service will be at 30 minute intervals on most lines. Schedule details are being finalized, and will be posted on SEPTA's website, www.septa.org, on Monday afternoon. SEPTA will closely monitor service and continue to explore options to better accommodate passengers while repairs are made to the Silverliner V fleet.
Where possible, SEPTA also encourages Regional Rail riders to use transit modes, including buses, trolleys and subways. Details on services available to-and-from each Regional Rail station is available online at
. Customers who have purchased Weekly and Monthly TrailPasses can use them for travel on these transit modes. SEPTA is also urging customers who have purchased TrailPasses to hold onto them so they can be turned in for a credit on a future pass purchase. SEPTA is currently developing a plan for providing fare credits.
The Silverliner V structural defect was discovered early Friday morning by SEPTA railroad vehicle maintenance personnel. Follow-up inspections with the fleet showed that there was a problem with cracking in the main suspension systems. Within 24 hours, all Silverliner Vs had been taken out of service.
SEPTA will work with Hyundai Rotem, the rail car manufacturer, to resolve the problems. The suspension systems are still under warranty, and Hyundai Rotem is working cooperatively with SEPTA to locate and expedite the procurement of materials to repair or replace the failed suspension components.
SEPTA will continue to provide updates to its riders and the public throughout this process.
(SEPTA, Howard Bender
- posted 7/04)
NS TRACK OUTAGE FOR ROCK SLIDE STABLIZATION NEAR PITTSBURGH, PA:
On June 28th, Norfolk Southern train service near Pittsburgh, PA was temporarily suspended due a rock slide. Although the service interruption was temporarily mitigated, additional work is required to ensure the stability of the area.
As a result, the City of Pittsburgh has permitted Norfolk Southern to further stabilize the rock mass in an effort to prevent future rock slides. In order to complete this project, a 48-hour absolute track outage is required. Between 03:00 on July 6th until 07:00 on July 7th, NS mainline track near Pittsburgh on the Mon Valley line will close while detonations, cleanup, repair, and inspections occur.
Delays up to 24 – 48 hours resulting from this project are expected. Detours and re-routes will occur in order to minimize the impact.
- posted 7/01)
LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD TO ENHANCE SERVICE TO EAST END OF LONG ISLAND:
More people than ever want to visit the beautiful East End of Long Island during summer weekends, and the Long Island Rail Road is adding train service to meet that demand and reduce crowding on trains. The improved, all-new service begins tomorrow, Friday, July 1, and runs every Friday through September 2.
“The changes we are launching will make it easier to get to eastern Long Island’s popular getaway destinations,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “That means more customers for the region’s businesses and a stronger economy on the East End of Long Island.”
On the North Fork, the LIRR is adding cars to the trains that serve the North Fork stations en route to and from Greenport.
On the South Fork, the LIRR is adding two trains that are timed to connect with Fire Island ferries at Bay Shore, Sayville and Patchogue. With these new trains catering specifically to Fire Island-bound customers, the LIRR expects reduced crowding on existing Hamptons-bound trains.
“By creating all-new service specifically for customers heading toward Fire Island, we hope to reduce crowding on our Montauk Branch trains used by folks heading not only to Fire Island, but also to the Hamptons and Montauk,” Nowakowski said. “We’re using our limited number of trainsets more effectively to create more service.”
The two extra eastbound trains for Fire Island-bound customers will stop at Bay Shore, Sayville and Patchogue about 10 minutes prior to the existing Montauk-bound trains.
One of the new trains will depart Jamaica at 8:04 a.m., and arrive at Bay Shore at 8:48 a.m., Sayville at 8:59 a.m., and Patchogue at 9:06 a.m. Customers from New York City can catch this train via the 7:39 a.m. departure from Penn Station or the 7:41 a.m. departure from Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn.
The other train will originate at Babylon at 12:02 p.m., and arrive at Bay Shore at 12:08 p.m., Sayville at 12:19 p.m., and Patchogue at 12:26 p.m. Customers from New York City can catch this train via a new train departing from Penn Station at 10:59 a.m. This is a super-express electric train that stops at Jamaica and Babylon only. Customers from Brooklyn can also connect to this train from the existing 10:35 a.m. departure from Atlantic Terminal, which connects with that train at Jamaica.
- posted 6/30)
SEPTA UNVEILS 5TH STREET/INDEPENDENCE HALL STATION:
Just in time for July Fourth, SEPTA has renamed the station at the doorstep of Independence National Historical Park and neighboring cultural and historical attractions.
The newly minted "5th Street/Independence Hall Station" was unveiled today during a ceremony with elected officials, dignitaries and community members. The station is a main destination point on the Market-Frankford Line, serving over 3,300 riders each day. It also provides connections with bus routes 17, 33, 38, 44 and 48, the City of Philadelphia's Indego Bike Share Program and a network of pedestrian pathways leading to and through Independence National Historical Park.
"The intersection of 5th and Market Streets is the anchor for millions of visitors looking to connect with the founding of our nation," said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. "It is important that this station be clearly identifiable. We can now point to 5th Street/Independence Hall Station as the hub for travel to and from America's birthplace."
"SEPTA provides essential and affordable access to employment, education and human services throughout the region," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "And at 5th Street/Independence Hall Station, SEPTA is the gateway to America's most historic square mile."
As part of the renaming effort, SEPTA replaced station and street-level signage. The Authority is also updating system maps to reflect the new name. Rail and bus announcements also note Independence National Historical Park as vehicles approach 5th Street/Independence Hall Station.
"As trustees of the nation's most historically significant landmarks, we are responsible for preserving our legacy and keeping it vital for future generations," said Mayor Jim Kenney. "A renamed station that emphasizes its prominent location will help direct visitors and residents to these historical treasures."
"I applaud SEPTA for being such a collaborative partner and for re-naming this El station to include Independence Hall. The increased visibility will help enhance this major gateway to the Independence National Historical Park," said Independence National Historical Park Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod.
"This renaming is an important first step toward an overall revitalization of the 5th Street/Independence Hall Station," SEPTA GM Knueppel said. "We have big plans for the station."
SEPTA recently applied for a federal TIGER grant that would fund critical structural repairs at the station. The project would transform surrounding street-level pedestrian and multi-modal connections, fully upgrading the station and making it a first-class transportation hub.
"On behalf of my constituents who live and work near 5th Street/Independence Hall Station, I'm grateful to SEPTA for being responsive to the needs of stakeholders," said City Councilman Mark Squilla. "I'm looking forward to seeing SEPTA's planned improvements become a reality."
- posted 6/30)
FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION ALLOCATES FINAL $834.6 MILLION IN HURRICANE SANDY DISASTER RELIEF FUNDS:
Secretary Foxx announced the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will allocate the final $834.6 million available in Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery funding. FTA is providing maximum flexibility for impacted communities to direct repairs and has validated additional eligible damage for each recipient agency. Agencies can utilize recovery funds on any validated Sandy-related damage that meets FTA criteria, including repairs to tunnels owned by Amtrak and used by New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad. Agencies will also have the flexibility to apply some of their previously directed resilience funds for recovery projects.
“This final allocation of funding provides the Governors of New York and New Jersey, through their respective transit agencies, the flexibility to put Federal dollars to work where they are needed most to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
A Federal Register notice describes in detail this final allocation of $432 million to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), $299.8 million for the PATH system operated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and $102.8 million to the New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJT). Funds are being allocated on a proportional basis based on each agency’s revised and validated estimated unfunded need.
“These transit agencies are critical to the region’s transportation network and economic vitality and we have taken direct action to see that Federal funds are provided to make necessary repairs,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers.
FTA has determined that the need for disaster recovery funding will likely exceed the amount of FTA disaster recovery assistance available. As a result, FTA is ensuring maximum flexibility for the states to decide where relief funds are best spent and providing a voluntary option for MTA, NJT and the PANYNJ to request that some Hurricane Sandy relief funds that were previously allocated for resilience improvements be reallocated toward recovery needs.
Consistent with previous FTA Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief allocations and program policies, recovery funding can be used for eligible recovery expenses in accordance with the Emergency Relief program requirements. Eligible expenses include the recovery costs of transportation assets owned by other entities, to the extent those assets are used for public transportation purposes, and in a proportion consistent with written agreement(s) between the public transit agency and the owner of the asset.
This is the fourth and final allocation of funds under this program and brings the total of Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief funds allocated by FTA to date to nearly $10.1 billion. Of that amount, approximately $5.2 billion has been allocated for emergency response, recovery, and rebuilding projects and $4.9 billion has been allocated for resilience projects.
- posted 6/30)
SEE THE SIGHTS ON THE AMTRAK PERE MARQUETTE:
Spectacular 360-degree views, made possible by windows on all four sides and curving up into the roof, are a feature of the Amtrak Great Dome car, which will be assigned to the Amtrak Pere Marquette train on four weekends this July.
Officially known as car 10031 “Ocean View,” it is the only Dome Lounge car in the entire Amtrak fleet. It will operate eastbound on Thursday nights with round-trips through the weekend, returning west to Chicago on Monday mornings, June 30-July 4, July 7-11, 14-18 and 21-24. There is no extra charge to ride in this car, built for the Great Northern Railway in 1955.
The upper level offers panoramic views of the of one of the prettiest routes in the Midwest, from the Chicago skyline to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, carousel and beach in St. Joseph, massive pickling tanks in Bangor, famous tulip town of Holland and the bright new station in Grand Rapids. Heavy traffic, steep tolls and pricey parking are far away for Amtrak customers, with adult fares starting at $32 each way, plus add-ons for bikes or small pets.
- posted 6/29)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN SUPPORTS STORM RELIEF IN WEST VIRGINIA:
To assist in flood recovery in West Virginia, The Norfolk Southern Foundation is committing $25,000 in new funding to the American Red Cross.
The funding will support relief for families who suffered casualties and injuries, evacuations, power outages, and property damage after a destructive wave of storms hit the southern part of the state last week. More than 20 people died and thousands of homes and businesses were severely impacted during the series of weather events.
"The American Red Cross has the proven track record for delivering fast and effective help when disaster hits," said Jim Squires, NS chairman, president and CEO. "If our support can provide even the smallest measure of relief for our West Virginia employees, business partners, and neighbors, then we consider ourselves fortunate and grateful to be able to provide it."
- posted 6/29)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 25, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jun. 25, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 526,161 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Jun. 25 were 257,965 carloads, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 268,196 containers and trailers, down 2.7 percent compared to 2015.
Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 20.7 percent to 10,559 carloads; grain, up 16.5 percent to 22,182 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 2.7 percent to 19,339 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.3 percent to 11,657 carloads; coal, down 14.3 percent to 77,514 carloads; and forest products, down 7.1 percent to 10,623 carloads.
For the first 25 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,031,201 carloads, down 13 percent from the same point last year; and 6,447,827 intermodal units, down 2.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 25 weeks of 2016 was 12,479,028 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.8 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jun. 25, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 345,606 carloads, down 6.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 337,865 intermodal units, down 2.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 683,471 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 25 weeks of 2016 was 16,348,993 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.5 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 69,822 carloads for the week, down 13.2 percent, and 58,608 intermodal units, down 2.2 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 25 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,190,939 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.8 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,819 carloads for the week, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,061 intermodal units, down 4.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 25 weeks of 2016 was 679,026 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.2 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 6/29)
INCOMING CN PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER APPOINTED AS COMPANY DIRECTOR:
CN announced that its Board of Directors has approved the appointment of Luc Jobin as a company director effective June 30, 2016. Jobin will become CN president and chief executive officer on July 1, 2016.
Jobin will replace Claude Mongeau as a CN director. CN announced June 7, 2016, that Mongeau would step down as president and chief executive officer at the end of June, and he will resign as Company director on June 30, 2016.
CN's board will continue to be composed of 11 directors, 10 of whom are independent of company management.
- posted 6/28)
NJ TRANSIT INCREASING CAPACITY ON NEWARK LIGHT RAIL:
In response to customers’ calls for more capacity, NJ TRANSIT has rolled out the first expanded light rail vehicle on the Newark Light Rail system. This is the first of 10 expanded vehicles to come for the Newark Light Rail following prototype testing. With 21 vehicles in the Newark Light Rail line, nearly half (10) will be the expanded type. Customers will enjoy a more comfortable ride as the larger vehicles provide a 50 percent increase in the number of seats per car.
This is the second expanded light rail in the NJ TRANSIT system. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail has been using a prototype of the extended light rail car for almost three years with great success.
“Listening is an important tool when it comes to Customer Service, and that’s exactly what we did through our Scorecard process. The roll out of this new expanded vehicle on Newark Light Rail allows for 50 percent increase in capacity per car, which will help us to alleviate crowded conditions particularly at the platform level,’’ said NJ TRANSIT interim Executive Director Dennis Martin.
As part of a program approved by NJ TRANSIT’s Board of Directors in July 2014, a total of 35 light rail vehicles were authorized for expansion; 25 on Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and 10 on Newark Light Rail.
In July 2013, NJ TRANSIT unveiled a prototype of the expanded light rail vehicle and launched a pilot program to test the vehicle by rotating it in service along the three segments of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system.
To address the need for increased capacity, NJ TRANSIT partnered with Kinkisharyo International, LLC, the original vehicle manufacturer of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail’s existing fleet, and Twenty-First Century Rail Corporation to find an innovative, cost-effective solution that would not significantly impact the system’s infrastructure or require a costly investment in new rail cars.
Kinkisharyo came up with a design for an expanded vehicle that adds two additional sections to the existing light rail vehicle, increasing the number of sections from three to five. The additional sections increase the car length by 37 feet and expand seating capacity from 68 to 102 seats, as well as provide additional standing room.
Development of the five-section prototype drew upon existing resources and spare Hudson-Bergen Light Rail equipment, resulting in no additional cost to New Jersey taxpayers.
Retrofitting existing vehicles in the fleet with the vehicle extender represents a significant cost savings over the purchase of entirely new standard light rail vehicles. At approximately $1.55 million per car, the cost for converting vehicles is about one-third the cost of purchasing new vehicles at $4.6 million each. Further, more than 80 percent of the project costs are federally funded under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
(NJ Transit - posted 6/27)
AMTRAK OPENS NEW CHICAGO LOUNGE FOR PREMIUM CUSTOMERS:
Amtrak has more than doubled the space and added many new amenities at Chicago Union Station for customers who are traveling in Sleeping cars or in Business class, as well as Select Plus and Select Executive Amtrak Guest Rewards members, with this morning’s opening of a new “Metropolitan Lounge.”
Located behind and above one of the two grand staircases off the Great Hall, the lounge has two entrances. The primary access is located inside the station between the Great Hall and the Concourse, with a red carpet exterior entrance near the taxi stand on the west side of Canal Street. These premium customers are welcomed arriving in or departing from Chicago.
Once inside, customers are greeted by Amtrak customer service representatives who will check their baggage. After stowing their carry-on bags, they can relax, work or even take a shower. These customers will be pre-boarded from the lounge to their Amtrak trains.
Customers can enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages in the lounge. For the rail enthusiast, there is a Pennsylvania Room located in the former Pennsylvania Railroad Passenger Department space on the upper level. An elevator and staircase connect both floors of the lounge, which meets the latest Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
For travelers “living online,” AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi covers both levels of the lounge, with powered furniture in place so they can charge their devices while meeting and mingling and making preparations for their upcoming journeys. Table tops and individual work stations are also available.
With many families traveling with young children choosing Amtrak trains in Sleeping cars or Business class for their “traincations,” there is also an area in the lounge designed for children.
“Not only does this project greatly improve the Amtrak experience for these customers, it also clears the way for changes at the Concourse Level that will improve those boarding areas,” said Mark Murphy, Chicago-based Amtrak Senior Vice President & General Manager, who announced the initiation of the nearly $7 million lounge project at a news conference last fall with federal, state and local officials.
At 13,500 square-feet and with seating for 360, the new lounge replaces one opened in 1991 in the station’s Concourse and later enlarged to 6,475 square-feet and 90 seats, too few for today’s Amtrak ridership.
At an open house event last week, representatives of the project’s architect and general contractor previewed the space to the news media and other invitees, with Tom Carper, Director and Immediate Past Chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors.
“Since the last major improvements 25 years ago, Amtrak Chicago Union Station customer counts have grown by nearly 40 percent,” said Carper. “The board and Amtrak management are taking additional steps to improve the station in order to both welcome additional Amtrak and Metra customers and to further develop this landmark as a revenue source to support our core business as America’s Railroad®.”
“We are honored to assist Amtrak in the stewardship of the historic Chicago Union Station. Revitalizations and restoration projects both celebrate this iconic Chicago building and provide greater services and amenities for the growing number of Amtrak customers.” said architect Leonard Koroski, FAIA, LEED AP – Principal, Goettsch Partners.
“As a Chicago-based company, the Chicago Union Station has always been a historic icon to our employees,” said Bill Abromitis, Clune Construction CEO. “We were honored to be brought in as the general contractor for this project in the early stages to assist with the design development. It was our goal to work with the Amtrak project team to preserve the history and romance of Union Station while constructing a world-class lounge for a world-class client.”
Since 2010, Amtrak has primarily used its own funds from customer ticket revenue and federal capital grants to make nearly $60 million in investments in the station. In addition to the new Metropolitan Lounge, this work includes the Szabo Control Center, regional offices, reinstituting air conditioning in the Great Hall and surrounding spaces, restoration of the grand staircases and establishment of a service center in the Great Hall, remediation and life-safety and facade repairs (all in the Headhouse); supplemental heating, refreshing of furniture and carpeting and new door systems leading to and from the concourse and the boarding platforms (all in the Concourse).
About 125,000 Metra commuter rail and Amtrak passengers use the station daily, with Chicago’s 3.2 million annual Amtrak passengers ranking in the top four of all Amtrak stations. More than 165,000 Amtrak passengers were ticketed to originate in Chicago in Sleeping cars or Business class last year.
(Amtrak - posted 6/27)
WASHINGTON METRO GM APPOINTS NEW CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER:
Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld announced the appointment of Joseph Leader as the new Chief Operating Officer (COO) in charge of rail, bus and paratransit services, effective August 1. Leader will also provide executive management of Metro Transit Police, parking and support services. (MTA - posted 6/23)
After 30 years in transportation operations, Joe recently served as a consultant to the General Manager/CEO on rail organizational and fleet management as an associate for Bianco Associates.
“Working with Joe on restructuring Metro’s rail operations gave me an opportunity to learn his strategic approach to operational safety, day to day safety culture, and his customer service orientation, which are consistent with the way I want Metro to conduct itself moving forward,” said Paul J. Wiedefeld. “I am pleased that Joe sees us as an organization that is changing and hungry for improvement, and that he is enthusiastic about taking on this crucial role.”
Until this year, Leader served as Senior Vice President of the Department of Subways, New York City Transit, which includes 27,000 employees, 800 track miles and 469 stations. He previously served as Chief of Safety Investigations for NYC Transit. Through a strong incident command structure and a solid safety and customer service culture, Leader and his team were credited with restoring service in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. He also led a comprehensive maintenance program that accelerated track work, and improved safety and productivity.
Leader has an electrical engineering degree from Manhattan College and serves as a local volunteer firefighter.
(WMATA - posted 6/24)
GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL WILL BE VENUE FOR OVERNIGHT
FDNY/U.S. MARINE CORPS TRAINING EXCERCISE TONIGHT:
MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) will host a rescue exercise involving the United States Marines’ Chemical Biological Incident Response Force at Grand Central Terminal overnight.
Metro-North train service will not be effected by the drill, which is scheduled to begin at 11 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. tomorrow, although entrances to Grand Central from Vanderbilt Avenue may close earlier than usual. Grand Central's Biltmore Room will be closed to the public at 8 p.m. to accommodate the exercise.
Through the exercise, about 150 Marines will conduct training on how to remove chemical or biological attack victims from a train, out to the platform out of Grand Central to the street level where they can proceed with mock decontamination. Twenty-five actors and ten mannequins will serve as victims for the drill. Some drill actors may be made-up with mock injuries.
A staging area for the tactical drill will be established along Vanderbilt Avenue and 43rd Street for emergency response personnel, and the MTA Police Department will close off selected blocks for exercise staging.
(MTA - posted 6/23)
READING & NORTHERN RAILROAD PROMOTES THREE TO VICE PRESIDENT POSITIONS:
Reading and Northern Railroad announces the promotion of three veteran employees to Vice President level positions at the company.
(Reading & Northern Railroad - posted 6/23)
Erik Yoder has been named Vice President of Maintenance of Way. He replaces Justin Levan who has been promoted to Vice President Special Projects. Lieutenant Matthew Johnson has been promoted to Vice President Asset Management and Community Affairs.
In announcing these appointments Andy Muller, Jr, CEO said, “These promotions reflect the ever changing nature of our business. The fact is our railroad is growing fast. Business is up and in 2016 we have acquired the Humboldt Industrial Park and the Locust Valley Line. As we adapt to our new business and increased infrastructure we recognized that we needed to better align our resources. Since Reading & Northern always likes to look within to find capable people for our management positions, we were delighted to recognize that Erik, Justin and Matt were already in place and ready to do the jobs.”
Yoder started at the Railroad in September 2011 as a MOW Administrator. He was promoted to AVP-MOW in August 2013, transferred to AVP-Operations in October of 2014 to learn more about the railroad and then returned to AVP-MOW in May of 2015.
Prior to working at RBMN, Yoder was a 6th grade school teacher for 6 years, and a foreman for an excavation contractor for four years prior to that.
Yoder lives in Mohrsville, PA with his wife Deborah, and children; Aubree, Mindy, Wesley and Gabriel. In his spare time, he enjoys riding his bike to and from work, gardening and enjoying the great outdoors.
Johnson started at the Railroad in January 2005 as Police Consultant, was transferred to Police Officer in May 2005, promoted to Sergeant in February 2009 promoted to AVP-Asset Management/Lieutenant in February 2013, and promoted to Senior AVP of Asset Management/Lieutenant in February of 2016.
Prior to working at RBMN, Johnson was a Deputy Sheriff for a year and a half, and was a Police Officer for a little over a year prior to that.
Johnson lives in Kutztown, PA with his wife of 17 years, Deanna, and children; Adyson and Elliot. In his spare time, he enjoys golfing, working out, watching his kids grow in school/sports/theatre, and spending time with his family.
Levan started at the Railroad in January of 2004 as an Equipment Operator within our MOW department. He was promoted to AVP – Cost Control; MOW in September of 2012, and then he was promoted to VP of MOW in December of 2013.
Prior to working at RBMN, Levan was an Equipment operator for Wexcon Inc. for 3.5 years.
Levan lives in Kutztown, PA with his wife Christina, and children; Colton, Reese, and Sierra. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, riding ATVs with his son, Colton, and riding horses with his daughters, Sierra and Reese.
READING, BLUE MOUNTAIN & NORTHERN RAILROAD ACQUIRES LOCUST VALLEY LINE:
Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad acquired the 5.5 mile Locust Valley Line effective June 8, 2016.
RBMN has been operating the line since it was returned to service in 2006. By taking on ownership RBMN will be better able to pursue industrial development along this line, which has many excellent sites due to its proximity to I-81.
The line runs from Laurel Jct in Delano Township to near Mahanoy City in Mahanoy Township in Schuylkill County. RBMN acquired the line from the Locust Valley Coal Company.
CEO Andy Muller, Jr. said, “This acquisition continues our efforts to acquire and operate contiguous railroad lines in our service territory. Our efforts to require county-owned railroads in the region to privatize and sell their assets is part of our overall strategy to bring our award-winning service to more areas in our service territory. We believe through our economies of scale that we can deliver better service at lower prices to customers throughout the region. The Locust Valley purchase is part of that overall strategy.”
(Reading & Northern - posted 6/23)
NJ TRANSIT OFFERS SUMMER SERVICE OPTIONS FOR BEACH GOERS
NJ TRANSIT is making it convenient and affordable to get to summer shore destinations with express weekend rail service from Penn Station New York to shore communities along the North Jersey Coast Line, the return of weekday late-night Bay Head-Long Branch shuttles, and daily express bus service from Philadelphia to Wildwood and Cape May.
(NJ Transit, Alex Mayes - posted 6/23)
Saturday, June 25:
The #316 express bus from Philadelphia to Wildwood and Cape May resumes for the summer. This year, the #316 will conveniently originate on JFK Boulevard just outside the Amtrak 30th St. Station in Philadelphia providing access to Wildwood and Cape May from the University City section of Philadelphia. All trips will continue to serve the Greyhound Terminal in Philadelphia and then serve the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden, eliminating the need for customers to travel to the Avandale Park and Ride to transfer to the #316. Also new this year, the #316 will stop at the Gloucester Premium Outlets in Blackwood, providing access to the new and popular shopping destination. Beach goers can enjoy service to North Wildwood, Wildwood, Rio Grande and Cape May. The complete timetable is available at njtransit.com.
Sunday, June 26:
Enhanced Saturday, Sunday and holiday express rail service on the North Jersey Coast Line will operate from June 26 through September 10 and feature the agency’s dual-powered locomotives to provide a one-seat ride.
“Going ‘down the shore’ is a time honored summer tradition in New Jersey. So whether you’re traveling from North Jersey or South Jersey, New York or Philadelphia we are providing more options to get you to the fun in the sun,” said NJ TRANSIT Interim Executive Director Dennis J. Martin. “Everyone should experience New Jersey’s beautiful beaches and what better way to relax than a stress-free ride on a bus or train.”
Four round-trip weekend and holiday express trains will operate between Penn Station New York and Bay Head. This service also features hourly train service between Bay Head and Long Branch from approximately 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Two of the round-trip express trains will be geared to beach travelers, with an additional two round-trips providing service during the early morning and late night timeframes.
The express service will serve Penn Station New York, Secaucus Junction, Newark Penn Station, Elizabeth, Rahway, Aberdeen-Matawan, Red Bank, Long Branch, Asbury Park, and then all station stops to Bay Head, and no need to transfer in Long Branch. A travel time savings of approximately 25 minutes is expected from the regular travel time between New York and towns such as Belmar, Manasquan and Point Pleasant.
Seating will be limited aboard the express service. Customers are strongly encouraged to purchase round-trip tickets or discounted beach packages to Long Branch, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, Bradley Beach and Belmar (a savings of $5.00) prior to the start of their trip. NJ TRANSIT beach packages are available at all rail station ticket windows and ticket vending machines except on the Atlantic City rail line. More information on beach packages is available on njtransit.com.
Customers can also purchase NJ TRANSIT tickets using MyTix mobile ticketing. However, beach packages are not currently available on the NJ TRANSIT mobile app.
Express trains will supplement NJ TRANSIT’s regular weekend hourly rail shuttle service between Long Branch and Bay Head, and will operate using the ALP-45 dual-powered locomotives. These specialized trains operate in electric mode between New York and Long Branch and switch to diesel operation for travel between Long Branch and Bay Head – allowing for the one-seat ride.
CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES OFFICIAL REOPENING OF ICONIC TERMINAL BUILDING AT LIBERTY STATE PARK:
The Christie Administration today celebrated the official reopening of the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal at Liberty State Park following extensive repairs and renovations made necessary when Superstorm Sandy slammed the iconic building along the Hudson River in Jersey City.
“The reopening of this historic terminal, through which millions of immigrants passed as they embarked on new lives in the United States, is indeed a momentous occasion,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin during ceremonies at the terminal building.
“The efforts that went into restoring this landmark are nothing short of miraculous and are testimony to our state’s resolve to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy. Today, the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal again takes its rightful place beside the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as America’s symbols of immigration, opportunity, national growth – and freedom.”
The nearly $20 million restoration of the building marks the next-to-last component of the park’s recovery, and has easily been the most complex, involving restoration of a unique piece of architecture that is more than 120 years old.
“One of the great privileges of our work at DEP is to be able to preserve and restore buildings and sites such as this that are inextricably entwined with the ideals of America,” said Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources Richard Boornazian. “Liberty State Park and the terminal bring an important storyline in the nation’s history to life – that of the fortitude and determination of people from around the world seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Preserving this heritage is our solemn responsibility to future generations.”
“To see this building restored is truly inspiring and moving,” said Mark Texel, Director of the DEP’s Division of Parks and Forestry. “We are performing our duty to history by honoring the millions of brave immigrants, many arriving nearly penniless, who made our nation the great melting pot of the world.”
The state’s Corporate Business Tax funded $11.3 million of the work, and an insurance policy funded nearly $5 million. A National Park Service Sandy Disaster Relief grant provided $2 million and the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided $1 million. The park’s operating fund kicked in $576,000.
Sandy’s record storm surge caused extensive water, electrical and structural damage. Mechanical and electrical equipment were elevated to avert future damage. The interior of the terminal, which briefly reopened in 2014 for the annual memorial observance of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, was subsequently closed to allow for the additional interior work
Skylights, doors , roofing and the structure’s distinctive cupola were repaired or replaced as part of exterior restoration. This phase was completed in 2014.
“After Sandy hit, I didn’t know whether to cry or scream, we were so demoralized,” said Park Superintendent Rob Rodriguez. “It was like a giant washing machine went through – everything tossed about, equipment and artifacts all over the floors, and doors, windows and drywall blown out. But one day at a time, one piece of debris at a time, we’ve worked to reach this important milestone. Today, the building is fully accessible. The public can come and admire its unique Romanesque-style architecture and take a step back in time – and perhaps even walk in the footsteps of their grandparents or great-grandparents.”
From 1892 to 1954, the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal served as the largest rail hub in the New York metropolitan area. Of the 12 million to 17 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island during those years, approximately two-thirds embarked on their new lives on trains departing from the terminal. As many as 50,000 people per day used ferries and trains served by the terminal.
More than four million people per year visit Liberty State Park, which encompasses some 1,200 acres. It is the most popular destination in the state park system and, with the terminal reopening, has made a nearly full comeback from Sandy. Work still needs to be done on the interpretive center.
Liberty State Park offers a two-mile waterfront walkway known as Liberty Walk, the 9/11 Memorial and Grove of Remembrance, the Liberty Landing Marina, the Green Park playground, nature trails, wildlife habitats and other recreational amenities.
Hundreds of thousands of people use the ferries at the terminal to access Liberty Island, Ellis Island and Manhattan’s Battery Park. The park is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It was dedicated on Flag Day, June 14, 1976.
(Bernie Wagenblast, NJDEP - posted 6/22)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 18, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jun. 18, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 516,096 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Jun. 18 were 250,748 carloads, down 8.5 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 265,348 containers and trailers, down 4.2 percent compared to 2015.
Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were grain, up 24.3 percent to 22,711 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 16.8 percent to 10,454 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 0.1 percent to 18,700 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 24.8 percent to 10,627 carloads; coal, down 20.6 percent to 75,606 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 8.9 percent to 22,944 carloads.
For the first 24 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,773,236 carloads, down 13.3 percent from the same point last year; and 6,179,631 intermodal units, down 2.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 24 weeks of 2016 was 11,952,867 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 8 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jun. 18, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 334,723 carloads, down 9.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 334,037 intermodal units, down 4.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 668,760 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 24 weeks of 2016 was 15,665,522 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.6 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 67,059 carloads for the week, down 13.2 percent, and 57,744 intermodal units, down 7.9 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 24 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,062,509 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.8 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,916 carloads for the week, down 4.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,945 intermodal units, down 5.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 24 weeks of 2016 was 650,146 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.2 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 6/22)
CANADIAN PACIFIC PROVIDES SECOND QUARTER 2016 EARNINGS OUTLOOK:
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited today announced it is providing an earnings outlook for the second-quarter of 2016 due to lower-than-anticipated volumes in bulk commodities, such as grain and potash, the unexpected and devastating wildfires in northern Alberta and a strengthening Canadian dollar.?
CP now expects revenues to decline approximately 12 percent from the same quarter a year ago, adjusted diluted earnings per share of approximately $2.00 and an operating ratio of about 62 percent.
Given the transitory nature of these impacts, CP remains confident in its business model and believes actions taken in the first half of the year – coupled with an anticipated improvement in commodity volumes – provide a path for the company towards meeting its full-year guidance.
"CP will continue to focus on controlling costs in a difficult environment," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP Chief Executive Officer. "While we acknowledge the environment remains challenging, additional cost reduction opportunities and the potential for stronger volumes in the back half of the year still lead us to believe that achieving double-digit EPS growth in 2016 is a possibility."
CP will release its second-quarter financial and operating results at 8:30 a.m. eastern time (6:30 a.m. mountain time) on July 20, 2016.
(CP - posted 6/21)
SEPTA TROLLEY TUNNEL BLITZ:
Due to power, track and station improvement projects, SEPTA Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 will not operate in the Center City tunnel from 10 p.m. on Friday, July 8 through 4 a.m. on Monday, July 18. Trolley service will begin and end at 40th and Market Streets; trolleys will use their alternate diversion service routing to connect to SEPTA's Market-Frankford Line at 40th and Market Streets. Trolley passengers can board the Market-Frankford Line at 40th Street Station for travel to and from Center City, as the work efforts will not affect that service.
This is the fourth consecutive summer SEPTA has held the Trolley Tunnel Blitz. During this year's nine-day tunnel closure (the tunnel was closed for 16 days in 2015), more than 400 members of SEPTA's in-house Engineering, Maintenance & Construction Division crews will build on last year's accomplishments and work around-the-clock on key maintenance and construction tasks.
"Since the first Trolley Tunnel Blitz in 2013, our crews have replaced switches and thousands of feet of rail and overhead contact wire, and undertaken an aggressive improvement and cleaning program at the trolley stations," said SEPTA GM Jeffrey Knueppel "However, we still have work to do to bring the tunnel into a state of good repair."
An average of 700 vehicles operate through the five-mile single loop Center City tunnel everyday. Because the tunnel is used 24 hours a day, it is difficult for SEPTA crews to get productive work windows to complete necessary repairs and improvements. "The Trolley Tunnel Blitz allows SEPTA to maximize productivity during improvements projects while minimizing the period of inconvenience to passengers and communities because it is held during the summer when ridership is lower," said Knueppel.
Members of SEPTA's Power Department will remove and replace 1,500 feet of wood protection board (a part of the system attaching overhead wire to the tunnel ceiling) on the eastbound side of the tunnel between 19th Street-22nd Street Stations. SEPTA's Track Department will replace the existing track on the westbound side of the tunnel between 19th and 22nd Street Stations. This track has been in use for 30 years. The track department will also upgrade infrastructure directly outside of the 40th Street Portal.
Other work that will be completed during the tunnel closure includes:
"The projects we work on during the blitzes improve safety and service reliability throughout the trolley tunnel," said Knueppel. "We thank our customers for their continued support and understanding during these closures. We will work to make this year's blitz as productive and successful as in previous years."
SEPTA's Trolley Tunnel Blitz is part of the Authority's "Rebuilding the SEPTA System" capital program and funded through Pennsylvania Act 89.
(SEPTA- posted 6/21)
Completing signal and wire reliability work throughout the tunnel
Performing critical maintenance tasks and component replacement work at the substation
Performing maintenance tasks including graffiti removal, tile repair, painting, drain clearing and heavy cleaning at all stations
Testing emergency generators and lighting throughout the tunnel
FULTON CENTER IS FIRST SUBWAY HUB TO RECIEVE PRESTIGIOUS LEED® RATING:
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials joined representatives from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) today to unveil a plaque honoring the Fulton Center as the first New York City subway hub to receive a LEED® rating for sustainability and design.
Earlier this year, the MTA was awarded LEED® Silver certification by USGBC for the Fulton Center transit hub, located on Broadway between Fulton and Dey Streets, in Manhattan’s Financial District. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings.
“This LEED certification demonstrates New York City Transit’s commitment to the environment and to the community we serve,” said MTA New York City Transit President Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “We want to do our part toward a better environment for all, and this new state-of-the-art facility will help minimize our energy footprint.”
“The MTA and its design firm Arup, in conceptualizing a design for the Fulton Center transit hub, sought to marry the old with the new to improve facility performance and rider experience,” said MTA Capital Construction (MTACC) President Michael Horodniceanu. “Through adaptive reuse of this historic structure, daylighting (maximizing natural light), and the enhancement of the indoor environment, we have achieved a powerful sustainable design that will be used as inspiration for future station enhancement.”
The MTA’s Fulton Center, situated in the heart of Lower Manhattan and a dynamic transportation hub streamlining connections between subway lines for up to 300,000 daily passengers was designed as a demonstration of an environmentally responsible 21st century rail transit center. It achieved LEED® certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The facility achieves more than 25 percent in energy savings compared to a baseline building of similar type. Half of the energy used at the Fulton Center comes from renewable sources. Additionally, daylighting from the iconic oculus reduces electricity use, while low flow plumbing fixtures reduce water consumption by 40 percent.
“I want to thank the US Green Building Council for acknowledging all of the thought that went into the environmentally conscious design of this project,” said Fulton Center Project Executive Uday Durg. “Working to bring the customer experience into the 21st century while working within the confines of this historic building was no easy task, and I am proud of our team’s accomplishment.”
The LEED® rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. Other MTA facilities achieving LEED® status include Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot in Harlem, the Corona Maintenance Shop in Queens and Metro-North Railroad’s office building at 525 North Broadway in North White Plains.
Contractors working on the Fulton Center project under the leadership of MTACC Project Executive Uday Durg included Citnalta Construction Corp., Gramercy Group Inc., Skanska USA Civil Northeast, Inc, WDF, Inc, Plaza/Schiavone JV, and Judlau Contracting Inc. Consultants included Arup, Grimshaw, HDR, Page Ayers Cowley Architects, Parsons Brinckerhoff/LendLease JV, and Jamie Carpenter Associates
(MTA- posted 6/21)
CATSKILL MOUNTAIN RAILROAD WILL RESUME OPERATIONS:
Ulster County, New York has selected the Catskill Mountain Railroad to operate the eastern end of the county owned Ulster & Delaware rail corridor.
The Catskill Mountain Railroad had suspended operations over the trackage during the end of May. Subsequently, the county had opened the line for bid, soliciting a
railroad to operate the line. Catskill Mountain Railroad was the sole bidder. The railroad will pay the county $50,000 per year to operate the trackage, under a five
year agreement. Train service is expected to resume this fall, over six miles, from Phoenicia to Boiceville, N.Y.
(Alex Mayes - posted 6/20)
RECORD LEVELS OF PROJECTED FOR MBTA COMMUTER RAIL REVENUE:
Fare revenue on the MBTA Commuter Rail system has grown 5.8 percent in Fiscal Year 2016 to date when compared to Fiscal Year 2015.
Commuter Rail is on track for record revenue in Fiscal Year 2016, currently forecast at $215 million. The nation's sixth busiest commuter rail system has lines going as far south as Rhode Island, as far north as Newburyport, and as far west as Worcester and Fitchburg.
"We are committed to continuing to drive strong revenue growth on the Commuter Rail through enhanced fare collection efforts and use of the latest technology," said MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve.
Revenue for the month of May reached $17.8 million. Over the past 16 months, monthly Commuter Rail revenue has averaged $17.4 million.
Last year, 64 new conductors were hired to bolster fare collection efforts and reduce fare evasion. Plans to boost staffing and on-time performance were part of a service improvement agreement between the MBTA and Keolis, which was approved last year by the MBTA's Fiscal Management and Control Board.
At the April 25th meeting of the FMCB, Keolis presented a new proposal for fare collection that it said would reduce fare evasion on the system while increasing revenue by up to $24 million annually. Under the Keolis proposal, the MBTA fare collection system would be updated to make it easier to buy tickets, but more difficult to evade fares.
(MBTA- posted 6/20)
PROPOSED LOCOMOTIVE EMISSIONS REGULATIONS REDUCE AIR POLLUTANTS:
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, today announced that the Government of Canada will publish proposed Locomotive Emissions Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on June 18, 2016 to limit air pollution.
For the first time, the Government of Canada will regulate air pollutant emissions from locomotives. The proposed regulations are being developed under the Railway Safety Act and will improve health and the environment. The proposed changes would limit harmful air pollutant emissions, also known as criteria air contaminants, from locomotives operated by railway companies under federal jurisdiction through increasingly stringent emission standards and reduced idling. The emission standards set out in these proposed regulations will also align with those of the United States which will improve the efficiency of the transportation system and advance green technologies.
The Government of Canada has already taken action to reduce emissions from light- and heavy-duty vehicles. Canada has also moved forward with regulations to implement the North American Emission Control Area which will reduce emissions of key air pollutants from ships, and the adoption of more stringent nitrogen oxides emission standards for aircraft.
The proposed regulations support the Government of Canada's efforts to transition to a greener transportation sector. Canada and the U.S. are also working together on approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from locomotives under the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council.
(The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport - posted 6/17)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 11, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jun. 11, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 513,471 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Jun. 11 were 248,039 carloads, down 8.7 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 265,432 containers and trailers, down 6.3 percent compared to 2015.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 16.4 percent to 11,149 carloads; farm products excl. grain, and food, up 2 percent to 16,545 carloads; and grain, up 0.6 percent to 20,300 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 23.5 percent to 10,820 carloads; coal, down 18.3 percent to 73,279 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 9.9 percent to 22,642 carloads.
For the first 23 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,522,488 carloads, down 13.5 percent from the same point last year; and 5,914,283 intermodal units, down 2.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 23 weeks of 2016 was 11,436,771 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 8 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jun. 11, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 333,806 carloads, down 7.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 335,295 intermodal units, down 6.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 669,101 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 23 weeks of 2016 was 14,996,762 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.7 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 68,428 carloads for the week, down 7.5 percent, and 58,207 intermodal units, down 8.4 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 23 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,937,706 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.6 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,339 carloads for the week, up 3.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,656 intermodal units, up 1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 23 weeks of 2016 was 622,285 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, remaining flat from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 6/17)
BR&W PHOTOGRAPHER'S STEAM TRAIN:
The Volunteer Railroaders Association in conjunction with the Black River Railroad Historic Trust is proud to announce a special photographers Photo Freight on June 25th featuring the Black River & Western #60. The #60 is a 2-8-0 Consolidation and is New Jersey’s oldest operating steam locomotive. The train will be made up of passenger equipment, freight cars and even a caboose. At least 7 photo run-bys will be staged along the route between Three Bridges and Ringoes, which will give everyone the chance to get some great pictures.
The day will start at 2:30pm in Flemington where participants will meet to find out all the details for the day. When the last regularly scheduled train of the day arrives, it will head for Three Bridges instead of turning back for Ringoes. Due to “excepted track” we will not be able to board the train for this leg of the trip, but instead we will follow the train and be given the chance to take some very rare photos of the #60 and her train.
After a few photo run-bys the train will return to Flemington where passengers will board for a round trip to the end of in service track at Boss Road in Ringoes. Along the route the train will stop a number of times for more photo run-bys, some at locations not accessible to the public. When completed passengers will reboard the train for a non-stop run back to Flemington and then head out for dinner on their own.
As darkness arrives a Night Photo session will take place for up to 30 photographers in and around the Ringoes yard and station. A variety of scenes will be set up featuring the #60 and other equipment operating on the BRW.
Passengers can choose to ride in coach for $40, Club Car for $60 or for a select few you can ride in the Caboose for $50. The night photo session is limited to only 30 participants and can be purchased for $25. A special combination ticket is being offered in coach for $55, Caboose for $65 and Club Car class for $75, each a $10 savings.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting the VRA’s web site at
or by calling 973-238-0555 and leaving a message. Be sure to buy your tickets early as there a very limited quantity available and are sure to sell fast.
This event is being run as a fund raiser for the VRA and to help raise funds needed for the BRW to return service to the line to Lambertville. You are encouraged to visit
for more information and to donate directly to this effort.
(VRA - posted 6/17)
u.s. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCES A TIFIA LOAN OF $874.6 MILLION FOR THE MARYLAND PURPLE LINE PROJECT:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan of $874.6 million to Purple Line Transit Partners, LLC, for implementation of the Maryland Purple Line. The TIFIA loan will support the construction of the light rail line connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, MD.
“The Washington metropolitan region is one of the most congested areas in the country, and viable transportation alternatives are needed to accommodate a growing population,” said Secretary Foxx. “When completed, the Maryland Purple Line will connect residents in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, MD with improved access to jobs, education, and medical care and, overall, will help improve the quality of life.”
The Maryland Purple Line Project is a 16.2 mile, 21-station, east-west light rail line that will connect numerous communities in Maryland, from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County. The corridor is located inside the Capital Beltway near Washington, D.C., in a densely populated area with commercial, mixed use and residential development. The line will connect major activity centers in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma-Langley Park, College Park, and New Carrollton with communities along the alignment, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Red, Green and Orange Metrorail lines, all three Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail lines and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor line. Although the project will provide direct connections with WMATA, MARC and Amtrak, it will remain physically and operationally separate.
In addition to the TIFIA loan of $874.6 million, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is working with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) on a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) that would provide $900 million from FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program. In addition, MTA will use $36 million of FTA Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Grant funds for the project. FTA anticipates that the FFGA will be signed this summer.
“The Federal Transit Administration is proud to help provide a new transit option for Maryland residents in one of the most highly populated corridors in the nation,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “The Purple Line will help residents access one of the state’s largest job centers as well as its flagship state university without having to drive on heavily congested roads. Moreover, the Purple Line’s unique public-private partnership allows the state of Maryland to better leverage federal funding.”
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will be the owner of the project and its selected private partner, Purple Line Transit Partners, will implement the project on a design-build-finance-operate-maintain basis. The Purple Line project was procured as a public-private partnership under a concession agreement that was executed on April 7, 2016, and expires approximately 30 years after substantial completion, which is anticipated in March 2022.
The TIFIA program seeks to advance critical transportation infrastructure nationwide by leveraging federal, state, local, and private sector funding sources. Under the TIFIA program, the DOT provides secured direct loans, lines of credit, and loan guarantees to public and private applicants for eligible surface transportation projects. TIFIA can finance transportation projects such as highway, transit and passenger rail; certain freight and port facilities; surface transportation facilities at airports; and other transportation improvements.
The TIFIA program maximizes limited federal resources to deliver large infrastructure investments. Historically, TIFIA has supported total infrastructure investment of about four times the amount of total credit assistance it has made available. Since program inception, TIFIA has approved 62 loans totaling more than $23 billion to stimulate over $83 billion of transportation infrastructure investments throughout the United States.
The DOT recently announced new funding availability in the TIFIA program as well as changes to the program made in the most recent surface transportation funding authorization, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Further details are available here.
In July 2014, Secretary Foxx established the DOT’s Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC). BATIC is a one-stop-shop for states, municipalities, and project sponsors looking to utilize federal transportation expertise, apply for federal transportation credit programs, and explore ways to access private capital in public private partnerships. Since launching the BATIC, DOT has provided credit and financing support to projects representing billions of dollars in infrastructure investment. BATIC is helping to advance projects like the Maryland Purple Line more efficiently through the review process.
(USDOT - posted 6/16)
COMPLETION OF PHILADELPHIA 30TH STREET STATION DISTRICT PLAN HIGHLIGHTED BY ACTION ON NEAR TERM IMPROVEMENTS:
Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT and SEPTA today unveiled the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan and announced the initiation of several follow-on projects to improve the immediate station area and catalyze future development throughout the District.
The Plan is a collaborative two-year joint planning effort to produce a single, integrated long-term vision for growth and development in the area surrounding 30th Street Station.
Forty new acres of open space and 18 million square feet of new development are envisioned in the Plan, including an entirely new mixed-use neighborhood anchoring the District atop 88 acres of rail yards along the western bank of the Schuylkill River.
With a proposed $2 billion investment in roads, utilities, parks, bridges, and extension of transit services, the Plan has the potential to unlock $4.5 billion in private real estate investment, in addition to $3.5 billion for Drexel’s Schuylkill Yards project being developed by Brandywine Realty Trust. These investments will have robust and widespread economic benefits, with the potential to generate $3.8 billion in City and State taxes and 40,000 new jobs.
As outlined in the Plan, the coming months will see action on one of the most common areas of community feedback, as SEPTA starts preliminary work to support consideration of a preferred option for restoring the underground connection between 30th Street Station and its Market-Frankford Line.
“The 30th Street Station District Plan is a transformative approach,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel. “This location is well served by the Market-Frankford Line, 5 Trolley Lines, 6 Bus Routes and all Regional Rail Lines, and the District Plan is another example of how transportation can drive economic development. SEPTA is excited to partner with Amtrak and all stakeholders to accelerate a vision that re-energizes this area and continues to meet the region’s travel needs.”
“The vision for 30th Street Station District complements the recently unveiled master plan for Schuylkill Yards to be developed by Drexel and Brandywine,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Together these two developments will bring fundamental transformation to University City and become the centerpiece of America’s next great innovation district, a district characterized by its superior access to transportation.”
To pave the way for future development of the conceptual Arch Street Transportation Center, PennDOT will work with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to study possible changes to the I-76 on- and off-ramps at 30th Street.
“The department works hard to support development for all modes, including safer driving, walking, or riding bicycles and transit,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “I am encouraged by the vision that has been created for the area around the station.”
With an eye toward improving station conditions in the near-term, Amtrak will pursue funding to advance the Station Plaza concept outlined in the District Plan. Station Plaza involves the development of new public spaces on all four sides of 30th Street Station, creating a more welcoming and seamless experience for all station visitors.
Later this year, Amtrak also intends to solicit partners to develop certain property adjacent to 30th Street Station, as well as analyze and suggest station improvements including retail offerings.
“Philadelphia’s iconic 30th Street Station is poised to anchor what could be a transformative new neighborhood built around transportation and the Schuylkill River waterfront,” said Amtrak Board Chairman Tony Coscia. “The Amtrak team is committed to continuing the important and productive collaboration reflected in the creation of this single, integrated District Plan and will work hard to help realize the great opportunities it envisions.”
“This vision is an excellent collaboration between key stakeholders to create a long term civic and economic value for Philadelphia at our regional mass transportation hub and represents the next phase in the ongoing renaissance of University City,” said Jerry Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust.
Over the past two years, the project team has engaged a wide range of stakeholders from across the City of Philadelphia and its neighborhoods, soliciting feedback and synthesizing ideas collected during open houses, community events and other public meetings with the expertise of a world-class consulting team.
“Crafting meaningful consensus toward a unified vision within a multitude of stakeholder interests is hard work that requires imagination, problem-solving creativity, flexibility and perseverance,” said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Project Manager Kristopher Takács. “This journey has been a sheer delight for SOM and our world-class team of professional experts, whose leadership and collaboration have laid the foundations for a game-changing transformation.”
Additional information about the District Plan is included on the following pages. High-resolution images, renderings, a project film and the complete Plan areavailable for download from the
(Amtrak - posted 6/16)
FIRST NATION PROPOSES THE RESUMPTION OF ALGOMA CENTRAL PASSENGER SERVICE:
Canada's First Nation is proposing to resume passenger service over the former Algoma Central Railroad, between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario. The Canadian Government has discontinued the service in 2015, leading to a hardship on many of the remote towns along the railroad. The propose train would be known as ask-wa Oo-ta-ban (Bear Train).
A First Natin press release states
"The Algoma Central Railway (ACR) rail line travels through the Treaty No. 9, Robinson Superior Treaty and Robinson Huron Treaty territories, including the traditional territories of Missanabie Cree First Nation and other First Nations between Sault Ste. Marie (Batchewana First Nation) and Hearst (Constance Lake First Nation). First Nations have used these traditional territories for hunting, fishing, trapping and also as areas in which they are developing ecotourism businesses, forest management plans and other resource- based initiatives.
A First Nation led initiative to operate the passenger train is highly appropriate considering the fact that the ACR was built over 100 years ago on the land that was acquired without First Nation consent. In late 2013 the Federal Government's cancellation of the passenger train subsidy under the Remote Passenger Rail Program (RPRP) was also decided without First Nation consent. The Missanabie Cree First Nation led initiative is a way to help reverse the colonial relationship between this rail line and the First Nations through whose territory it runs. This is a way that the current Federal Government can fulfill its mandate to First Nations by ensuring that the passenger service plays its essential role as infrastructure for the regional economic development of the First Nations through whose territories it passes.
Since the founding of the Algoma Passenger Train, more than 100 years ago, Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban has been extremely important to the economic, employment, social and remote access needs of the First Nations, communities, residents, businesses and visitors of the Algoma region. The Algoma region is a distressed area for employment and economic opportunity. About $38 - $48 million in economic activity and 100's of jobs are supported, directly and indirectly, by the Algoma passenger train, according to the 2014 BDO Canada socio-economic impact study.
Approximately, 400 km of the 470 km Algoma rail line is not accessible by public road. Although there are some industrial roads into the rail corridor, they are built and maintained at the discretion of industry and cannot be relied upon for reliable, safe or long-term access. Since the discontinuation of the passenger train a number of businesses, communities and residents have been unable to access their residences, lodges and other business properties via safe, reliable public infrastructure and services. According to the BDO study, approximately 75% of properties of the private residents would be deemed "inaccessible" without the passenger train."
(Alex Mayes - posted 6/16)
AMTRAK PROGRESSES WITH NEW SECOND TRACK BETWEEN ALBANY AND SCHNECETADY:
On June 6, Amtrak’s Track Laying Machine began laying rail and ties for the second track between Albany and Schenectady. The TLM has been working from Monday thru Thursday, starting from just west of the Livingston Ave. Bridge and working its way west to CP 156 (New Hamburg), where the Schenectady controlled siding begins. Also, on Sundays, Amtrak has been using GP38-H3s to haul ballast hoppers and flat cars (loaded with concrete ties) to spot them at strategic locations along the newly laid track for installation.
(Andy Kirk - 6/15)
RECORD LEVELS PROJECTED FOR MBTA COMMUTER RAIL REVENUE:
Fare revenue on the MBTA Commuter Rail system has grown 5.8 percent in Fiscal Year 2016 to date when compared to Fiscal Year 2015.
Commuter Rail is on track for record revenue in Fiscal Year 2016, currently forecast at $215 million. The nation's sixth busiest commuter rail system has lines going as far south as Rhode Island, as far north as Newburyport, and as far west as Worcester and Fitchburg.
"We are committed to continuing to drive strong revenue growth on the Commuter Rail through enhanced fare collection efforts and use of the latest technology," said MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve.
Revenue for the month of May reached $17.8 million. Over the past 16 months, monthly Commuter Rail revenue has averaged $17.4 million.
Last year, 64 new conductors were hired to bolster fare collection efforts and reduce fare evasion. Plans to boost staffing and on-time performance were part of a service improvement agreement between the MBTA and Keolis, which was approved last year by the MBTA's Fiscal Management and Control Board.
At the April 25th meeting of the FMCB, Keolis presented a new proposal for fare collection that it said would reduce fare evasion on the system while increasing revenue by up to $24 million annually. Under the Keolis proposal, the MBTA fare collection system would be updated to make it easier to buy tickets, but more difficult to evade fares.
(MBTA - 6/15)
1906 ELECTRIFICATION OF GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL DESIGNATED AS HISTORIC MILESTONE BY INSTITUTE OF ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS ENGINEERS:
FMTA Metro-North Railroad today announced it accepted an award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for the 1906 electrification of Grand Central Terminal. The award, known as the IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing, is a bronze plaque to be mounted on a wall at Grand Central Terminal. It was presented to Joseph Giulietti, President of Metro-North, by IEEE Past President, Dr. Howard Michel, at a ceremony at the Terminal today.
IEEE Milestones are given for revolutionary, historical innovations in fields covered by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers activities, such as: electricity, electronics and information and communication. To earn the commendation, a technology must be recognized to have contributed to the development of society and industries for at least twenty-five years. The purpose of the Award is to promote public understanding of technology that has changed our world for the better. As of 2016, more than 160 IEEE Milestones have been approved and dedicated across the globe.
The bronze plaque will placed on a wall at the entrance of Track 32 and inscribed with the citation, “Grand Central Terminal Electrification, 1906 -1913.”
Grand Central Terminal, in continuous use since 1913, was the first large-scale railroad electrification project, a development that enabled it to become a major railroad terminal. The modernization transformed railroad travel from old steam engines to more efficient, clean electrical power. The design of the Terminal included several notable achievements in the field of electric traction, such as innovative designs of electric locomotives, multiple unit (MU) control of electric rolling stock and the pioneering use of underrunning third rail.
“Grand Central Terminal is rooted in a profoundly rich and important history,” said Giulietti. “Metro-North will honor the Terminal’s historic technological breakthroughs by continuing to propel the Railroad into the future. Metro-North will remain at the forefront of state-of-the-art advancements to rail safety, operating efficiency and customer communication.”
With over 420,000 IEEE members in more than 160 countries, IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. IEEE publishes a third of the world’s technical literature in electrical engineering, computer science and electronics, and is a leading developer of international standards that underpin many of today's telecommunications, information technology and power generation products and services. The Milestone Award program is administered through the IEEE History Center.
(MTA - 6/15)
AMTRAK EXHIBIT TRAIN TO VISIT CLAREMONT JUNCTION, JUNE 18:
The Amtrak® Exhibit Train, showcasing the past, present and future of America’s Railroad®, will roll into Claremont Junction for free tours, the first time the train has visited the Granite State.
The Exhibit Train is celebrating the 45th anniversary of Amtrak this weekend with a colorful timeline showing the milestones in the history of Amtrak since its operations began on May 1, 1971. Step aboard to see model trains, and interactive displays that include railroad horns, trivia questions, workable signals and an engineer’s stand.
The event is this Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Claremont Junction Station, Plains Road and Maple Avenue.
For the youngest rail fans, stop off at Chuggington Depot, featuring toy trains and coloring tables. Enjoy family-friendly activities including performances by Claremont’s Off Broad Street Players and food vendors. The City will also be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Moody Park. Meet at 8am and enjoy a guided bird walk.
Amtrak has also partnered with the National Park Service in celebration of their centennial. A special National Park Service passport stamp has been created to commemorate this milestone. It will be available at all Exhibit Train stops.
For more information about the Exhibit Train and tour dates, please visit the
All Aboard America Tour
(Amtrak - 6/14)
PATH 2016 WEEKEND SERVICE AND WORK ADVISORY - WEEKEND PATH SERVICE ON THE 33RD STREET LINE TO BE SUSPENDED STARTING IN AUGUST FOR FEDERALLY MANDATED SAFETY AND SERVICE UPGRADES
Weekend PATH service on the 33rd Street line in Manhattan will be suspended starting in early August as part of a comprehensive, federally-mandated safety initiative to install a new computerized signal system designed to improve passenger service and safety.
Service on the 33rd Street line will be suspended from approximately 12:01 a.m. on Saturdays until 5 a.m. on Mondays, a schedule that is set to continue most weekends through December 2016, with the exception of major holidays. Regular weekend service will continue on the Newark-World Trade Center (WTC) line and between Journal Square and Hoboken.
Direct service between Hoboken and WTC, normally not available on weekends, also will be introduced.
PATH riders affected by the closures may travel to the WTC station, which offers easy and accessible New York City subway service to uptown destinations. While service is suspended, shuttle buses will be provided, making stops between the WTC and 29th Street along 6th and 7th avenues. The weekend closures will impact the Christopher, 9th,14th, 23rd and 33rd street stations.
Further updates, bus maps and details will be provided as available through the Port Authority’s website,
The 33rd Street PATH line upgrade is part of a multi-phased plan to improve the system and provide riders more frequent rush hour service. Additional weekend closures on the system will be necessary next year on a schedule to be announced.
At the center of the project is installation of Positive Train Control (PTC), an updated safety-enhanced system that the federal government has mandated be completed by the end of 2018.
Allotting this work time is vital to upgrading PATH to improve current and future service. In addition to safety enhancements, this work will provide PATH riders increased reliability in the future, as well as lay the groundwork for increased passenger capacity.
As part of the Port Authority’s 10-Year Capital Plan, PATH also will upgrade the signal system with Communications Based Train Control (CBTC), which continuously calculates and communicates a train’s exact position, speed, travel direction and safe braking distance. Trains then will be capable of running more frequently and closer together, leading to a projected increase in rush-hour service on PATH lines of up to 20 percent. Additionally, the CBTC system also will allow for further enhancements such as real time information in PATH stations
(PANYNJ, Alex Mayes - 6/14)
CSX FREIGHT DERAILS INSIDE BALTIMORE TUNNEL:
At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Monday CSX Q373, a Phildelphia to Cumberland freight train, derailed 13 freight cars inside the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore, Md.
No leaking freight cars were reported leaking, nor did any haz-mat cars derail.
POSSIBLE VIA RAIL CANADA STRIKE:
On June 9, 2016, UNIFOR, the union representing more than 1 800 of the 2 500 employees who work in stations, telephone sales offices, maintenance centres and administrative offices, informed VIA Rail of its intent to exercise its strike mandate at 12:01 a.m. (ET) on June 13, 2016 should no agreement be reached by that time. In the event of a trains strike, all services across the VIA Rail network will be interrupted.
With the assistance of government’s conciliators, VIA Rail and the union are currently negotiating as part of the normal process of renewal of collective agreements which expired on December 31, 2015. We are doing our utmost to reach a settlement without service disruption before the strike deadline.
(VIA Rail Canada, Bryce Lee - posted 6/10)
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RIDE THE LIRR WINE TRAIN TO GREENPORT:
Bottle of red. Bottle of white. They can be featured on your commute tonight. MTA Long Island Rail Road is offering a menu of refreshments, including choices from North Fork wineries, for eastbound customers taking the 5:21 p.m. train from Ronkonkoma on Friday nights throughout the summer.
Bedell Cellars, Duck Walk, Jason’s Vineyard, Pindar, etc. Travelers can sit back and unwind with a variety of reasonably priced beverages from local wineries as well as Montauk Brewing Company. The rotating list of reds, whites and roses includes offerings from Bedell Cellars, Duck Walk, Jason’s Vineyard, Laurel Lake, Macari, Pelligrini, Pindar, and Raphael. Snacks are also available, including North Fork Potato Chips (in a variety of flavors) and cookies from Tates in Southampton. The average price of a glass of wine is $4 or $5. Snacks are $2.50 and $3. Soft drinks, juices and spirits are also available.
The wine train began Memorial Day weekend and will run through the Friday before Columbus Day.
(MTA- posted 6/10)
NJ TRANSIT CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF MIDTOWN DIRECT SERVICE:
Twenty years ago today, NJ TRANSIT launched the weekday MidTOWN DIRECT service on the Morris & Essex Lines. The direct connection to New York Penn Station by rail proved to be a pivotal point in the history of the agency and set the upward trend in rail ridership experienced over the past two decades.
Not only did direct service to New York Penn Station shave 20 minutes off of the commute for customers who no longer had to transfer to PATH or ferries in Hoboken, it was the invitation for tens of thousands of future customers to get on board.
“MidTOWN DIRECT service has become part of the core fabric of NJ TRANSIT’s rail operations,” said interim Executive Director Dennis J. Martin. “It’s hard to imagine that prior to just 20 years ago, this vital connection did not exist. It has served as a driver of the region’s economy, but more importantly, the quality of life improvements for our customers are priceless. The shortened commutes are measured not in dollars and cents, but rather in dinners together with families, ball games attended and school concerts making life long memories.”
In the year leading up to the debut of MidTOWN Direct, the M&E Lines carried approximately 28-thousand passenger trips on the average weekday. In FY15, that number was nearly 59-thousand, more than doubling the ridership over the 20 year span.
NJ TRANSIT broke ground for the new connection in 1993. Infrastructure improvements included more than 7,000 feet of new track, installation of high-speed switches, and construction of two ramps to support the connection tracks.
Before MidTOWN DIRECT, Morris & Essex Lines customers traveling to Midtown had no option but to transfer to PATH trains or trans-Hudson ferries at Hoboken Terminal. MidTOWN DIRECT service provides either a one-seat ride into Manhattan or a convenient transfer at Summit Station or Newark Broad Street Station to continue to Manhattan for residents of Essex, Union, Morris, Somerset and Warren counties.
(NJT - posted 6/10)
NEW GENERATOR ENSURES STATION READINESS AND RESILIENCY:
Amtrak and the Maryland Transit Administration have invested $1.2 million in a new backup generator system at Baltimore Penn Station to ensure station readiness and reliability as well as maintain continuity of critical station operations during extended utility outages.
The new generator is capable of providing emergency backup power to maintain critical station services in the event of a power failure.
The reliable supply of power is essential to Baltimore, which is the eighth busiest station in Amtrak’s national network, serving approximately three million passengers in fiscal year 2015. In addition to Amtrak passengers, the station serves commuter operations for MARC Penn Line, the city’s light rail, buses and university shuttles.
“Baltimore Penn Station is an integral part of the Northeast Corridor transportation network and these upgrades will support system reliability in the station well into the future,” said Rina Cutler, Amtrak’s senior director of Infrastructure and Investment Development. “The support systems may be invisible much of the time, but behind the scenes, the generator ensures uninterrupted service to critical utilities like the fire alarm systems and computer information display systems to provide a seamless station experience for all passengers.”
In addition, Amtrak will roll out new technological advancements this year. Baltimore Penn was selected as one of two stations in the country for a pilot upgrade of the station’s wireless network. Amtrak will provide faster, more reliable Wi-Fi in the station as well as the platform to ensure passengers stay connected while traveling.
Near-term improvements to the passenger experience as well as structural rehabilitation of Baltimore Penn Station remain a focus. Over the past five years, Amtrak, the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore and other partners invested more than $19 million in improvements to the station and its vicinity.
To plan for the station’s long-term future, Amtrak is seeking a public-private Master Developer partnership for a comprehensive redevelopment of Baltimore Penn Station and adjacent property which would transform the station into a mixed-use, transit-oriented hub for regional transportation and economic growth. Amtrak anticipates releasing a Master Development Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to the market in fall 2016.
(Amtrak - posted 6/09)
MTA POLICE DEPARTMENT OPENS PREMIER CANINE TRAINING CENTER:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today opened the MTA Police Department’s innovative Canine Training Facility in Stormville, New York, with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by MTA and MTA Police officials.
The 72-acre campus houses nine indoor-scenario training areas and multiple outdoor training fields and obstacle courses and areas with cars, buses, platforms and even a decommissioned train, classrooms, twenty-four kennels, a veterinary room with medical kennels, and administrative offices. The outdoor and indoor training grounds provide the MTA Police with an unlimited number of scenarios to teach, drill and test the dogs.
“Our top priority at the MTA is ensuring public safety,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “In our post 9/11 world, the MTAPD’s specialized Canine Unit is a crucial component of the MTA’s overall security strategy. The Canine training center will help the MTA honor its commitment to maintain the highest levels of safety and protection for customers, employees and system infrastructure.”
“Everything about this sophisticated, 17,000 square foot facility was designed to train dogs to meet the unique demands of patrolling the MTA’s railroads, stations, subways, platforms and buses, making it the only state-of-the art ‘mass transit’ specific canine training center in the nation,” said MTAPD Chief of Police, Michael Coan.
The MTA Police Department’s Canine Unit was established in 2002 to protect customers from terrorism and other criminal acts and to help reduce railroad service disruptions by expediting inspections of unattended packages. The dogs support the MTA’s security strategy in ways other tools could never do. The structure of a dog’s nose gives it a sense of smell that is 3,000 to 5,000 times stronger than the human nose, allowing them to detect explosives and follow a scent trail untraceable to humans, even breaking down specific scents. Canines can do in minutes what can take hours for humans to do when searching for explosives or other evidence in crimes.
“As North America’s largest transportation agency, the MTA has a responsibility to remain at the forefront of security initiatives,” said MTA Board Member representing Dutchess County, James Sedore. “The new training facility is a powerfully important investment in public safety.”
The MTA purchased the training center property, a former farm, in 2010 and started building the facility in 2012. Prior to 2012, the MTAPD relied on borrowing space and equipment from the New York State Police, the Port Authority Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. “Our Canine Unit team is incredibly dedicated,” said MTAPD Lt. John Kerwick. “Officers and dogs worked in the facility throughout the construction process, using improvised classroom space.”
The MTAPD has the largest mass-transit canine explosives detection force in the country, with approximately 50 dogs in service at any time. Last year, the canine teams responded to over 26,000 requests for assistance, and inspected and cleared 2,748 unattended packages.
“We have a highly elite Canine Unit,” said Lt. John Kerwick. “Dogs are put through a rigorous testing and training program, and only about one in thirty are deemed skilled enough to join the MTAPD.”
The MTA Police Department patrols the trains, stations, tracks and yards of the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Staten Island Railway.
(MTA - posted 6/08)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 4, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jun. 4, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 455,346 carloads and intermodal units, down 17.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Jun. 4 were 224,258 carloads, down 16.6 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 231,088 containers and trailers, down 17.9 percent compared to 2015.
Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were grain, up 2.3 percent to 18,628 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 0.5 percent to 9,008 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 29.1 percent to 9,706 carloads; coal, down 23 percent to 68,008 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 20.9 percent to 15,411 carloads.?
For the first 22 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,274,449 carloads, down 13.7 percent from the same point last year; and 5,648,851 intermodal units, down 2.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 22 weeks of 2016 was 10,923,300 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 8.1 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jun. 4, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 307,051 carloads, down 14.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 300,037 intermodal units, down 15.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 607,088 carloads and intermodal units, down 15.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 22 weeks of 2016 was 14,327,661 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.7 percent compared with 2015.?
Canadian railroads reported 66,457 carloads for the week, down 11.3 percent, and 57,296 intermodal units, down 9.3 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 22 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,811,071 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.6 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,336 carloads for the week, down 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,653 intermodal units, down 0.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 22 weeks of 2016 was 593,290 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.1 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 6/07)