` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
January 30, 2015:

AMTRAK HOOSIER STATE TRAIN CONTINUES TO OPERATE: Amtrak will continue to operate the Hoosier State train between Indianapolis and Chicago under an Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) contract extension through April 1, 2015. A previous extension expires on Jan. 31. The 60-day service agreement allows extra time to complete long-term contract negotiations for Amtrak to continue operating the Hoosier State with portions of the service being provided by INDOT contractors. INDOT is negotiating renewal of the service on behalf of the state, Beech Grove, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Rensselaer, Tippecanoe County and West Lafayette. The four-days-weekly Hoosier State (Trains 850 & 851) -- together with the three-days-weekly Amtrak Cardinal (Trains 50 & 51) -- provides daily service between Indianapolis and Chicago and enables passengers to reach the national Amtrak network. Tickets are available at Amtrak.com, 800-USA-RAIL and other sales channels, including Amtrak mobile apps. Adult fares range from $24 to $48 each way and are subject to discounts and Amtrak Guest Rewards points. (Amtrak - posted 1/30)

FINAL PHASE OF 104 ST. AND 88 ST. A LINE STATION RENEWALS COMPLETED: : Beginning at 5:00 a.m., Monday, February 2, A Subway Line customers will once again have access to the Manhattan-bound sides of the 104 St and 88 St stations along the Liberty Avenue Line in Queens. The five-month station renewal project is part of a major $39 million capital project that will see the complete renewal of five stations along the Liberty Avenue A Subway Line. On May 12, 2014, the Queens-bound sides of the 104 St and 88 St stations were the first two platforms to close for renewal work. This work was successfully completed on September 29, and work began on the Manhattan-bound platforms on October 13, 2014. During the closures, customers were able to take advantage of free shuttle bus service to nearby open stations. “For these stations, originally opened in the early 1900’s, these improvements will create significantly better conditions for our customers,” said NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding while we carried out this important work.” Improvements at both the 104 St and 88 St stations include repairs to staircases, mezzanine floors, doors, windows, and interior and exterior walls. Each station was painted and canopies, windscreen panels and railings were replaced. In addition, structural steel repairs were made to the girders supporting the subway platforms at both stations, as well as ADA improvements which consisted of repairs to the tactile warning strips at the platform’s edge. Aside from the component improvements, customers will also benefit from new lighting in the mezzanine and artwork to be installed at the completion of construction. MTA Arts & Design commissioned five artists to create durable, vibrant metal artwork for installation in the platform windscreens at the five Liberty Line stations. At 104 St, “On the Right Track” by artist Beatrice Coron features 24 cut stainless steel panels with hand-soldering. Representing a giant deck of 24 playing cards, each image reveals an upbeat mood that passengers may choose to adopt for the day. Haresh Lalvani created “MORPHING88,” consisting of 24 stainless steel sculptural panels. Inspired by the geography of the distance and angles of the streets located adjacent to the 88 St station, each panel is unique with patterns generated through the use of an algorithm and a mathematical formula. Following the successful completion of the 104 St and 88 St stations, the next station scheduled for renewal along the Liberty Line is Rockaway Blvd. In keeping with our goal to inconvenience customers as little as possible, the Far Rockaway/Lefferts Blvd-bound platform of the Rockaway Blvd station is slated to close for approximately 14 weeks, between February 2015 and May 2015 for renewal work. During this period, Far Rockaway/Lefferts Blvd-bound A Subway Line service will skip Rockaway Blvd. Service notices will be posted in all stations along the Liberty Avenue line prior to the commencement of work and announcements will be made on trains. The construction contracts were awarded in December 2013 as a joint venture to Forte Construction Corp and Emis Construction Group. (MTA - posted 1/30)

MID-SUFFOLK TRAIN YARD INFO CENTER OPENS AT THE RONKONKOMA STATION: MTA Long Island Rail Road today opened the Mid-Suffolk Train Yard Information Center at Ronkonkoma Station so customers and community residents can learn about the LIRR’s proposal for enlarging its train yard in Ronkonkoma. The expanded train yard is key to improving Main Line service by providing more peak-hour trains, better cleaning and maintenance for train cars, and direct service to Grand Central Terminal as part of the East Side Access project. The project, currently budgeted at $76 million, would expand the existing train yard, located east of Ronkonkoma Station, to adjacent property already owned by the LIRR. The expansion would on property south of the yard and further away from the local residential neighborhood. “Enlarging the electric train yard in Ronkonkoma will give us the space we need to deliver the Main Line service improvements promised by East Side Access,” said LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski. “We hope customer and community residents attend the Open House to learn about the project.” The Mid-Suffolk Yard plan, which would nearly double the LIRR’s track storage area, has the support of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone as well as a union coalition representing thousands of local construction workers, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said: “The Long Island Rail Road has been a great partner with Suffolk County in advancing our economic development plan “Connect Long Island” in which the goal is to reverse the decades-long trend of young people leaving our region. We can’t create a prosperous future without being able to attract the high-knowledge, high-skilled workers necessary to build an information economy. In order to attract them we need to create walkable downtown communities with strong public transit links. The LIRR has been investing in our downtowns and the expansion of the Mid-Suffolk Yard will create even greater opportunities for transit choices for Suffolk County residents and Long Islanders as a whole.” Richard O’Kane, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk said: “The Mid-Suffolk Yard Expansion Project is extremely important because we have a work force that’s close to 60,000 members. It’s an opportunity to go to work for good paying jobs and eliminate some of the brain drain that occurred on Long Island.” The Mid-Suffolk Yard Expansion project is covered by a Project Labor Agreement announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2013 between the LIRR and local private-sector unions that was designed to reduce the Railroad’s labor costs on seven major construction projects by nearly 11%, saving an estimated $6.5 million over the next five years while protecting local trade union jobs. The existing train yard is a 12-track facility that is fully utilized. The expansion plan would almost double the number of storage tracks to 23 and relocate a number of LIRR departments to a new building further away from local residents. The new facility would enable the Railroad to improve interior car cleaning and servicing and carry out mandatory Federal Railway Administration inspections. All Part of the LIRR’s East Side Access Readiness Plan As the $10.8 billion East Side Access project moves toward a projected 2022 completion, the LIRR is working simultaneously on six related-capital projects that comprise the East Side Access Readiness Plan. Those projects include the Mid-Suffolk Yard, new pocket tracks at Massapequa and Great Neck, a track extension at Port Washington and a new platform and train yard at Jamaica Station. All of these projects are integral to the LIRR’s plan for more frequent service to both Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. But Long Island Rail Road customers will not have to wait until the completion of East Side Access to see start seeing benefits. Once the Mid-Suffolk Yard is completed in 2018, the LIRR will be able to add peak hour trains to the heavily traveled Ronkonkoma Branch. That means more trains, more seats and more reliable service.” The Mid-Suffolk Yard Information Center; located opposite the ticket office at Ronkonkoma Station, is part of the LIRR’s effort to reach out to customers and the community. LIRR will be completing an environmental assessment as part of New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) evaluating the environmental impact of the Mid-Suffolk Yard project. LIRR anticipates completing the environmental assessment by May 2015, coordinating the review with the Town of Islip, the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York State and the Federal Aviation Administration. Key areas to be evaluated include visual impacts, noise and vibration within the proposed Mid-Suffolk Yard site, traffic into and out of the yard site and any construction impacts. That will be followed by a public comment period, anticipated for June, followed by an environmental determination in July. The Information Center Open House affords local residents and other interested parties an opportunity to review the plans and have their questions about the project answered by LIRR officials. Ronkonkoma Information Center Open Thursday & Friday The Mid-Suffolk Yard Information Center at Ronkonkoma Station will be open today Thursday, January 29 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and tomorrow, Friday, January 30 from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., staffed by LIRR representatives ready to discuss the project in detail. Interested members of the public who cannot make it to the Information Center at Ronkonkoma Station can find details about the Mid-Suffolk Yard project at the MTA LIRR website www.mta.info/lirr. . (MTA - posted 1/29)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 24: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 24, 2015. Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week was 548,055 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Jan. 24, 2015 were 294,738 carloads, up 5 percent compared with the same week in 2014 while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 253,317 containers and trailers, up 3 percent compared to 2014. Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by Coal with 115,369 carloads, up 3.8 percent; and Nonmetallic Minerals with 34,246 carloads, up 22.2 percent. The lone commodity group that posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2014 was the "Other" category of miscellaneous carloads, down slightly at 0.4 percent. For the first three weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 862,274 carloads, up 4.1 percent from the same point last year, and 755,157 intermodal units, up 0.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first three weeks of 2015 was 1,617,431 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 24, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 391,407 carloads, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 324,436 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 715,843 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first three weeks of 2015 was 2,106,174 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.9 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 79,867 carloads for the week, up 8.7 percent, and 59,673 intermodal units, up 19.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first three weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 408,457 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.2 percent Mexican railroads reported 16,802 carloads for the week, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,446 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first three weeks of 2015 was 80,286 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 1/29)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO CLOSE ROANOKE OFFICE BUILDING, RELOCATE EMPLOYEES: Norfolk Southern today announced that it will close its Roanoke office building at 110 Franklin Road SE later this year and relocate the functions currently housed there to Atlanta or Norfolk. Approximately 500 people currently work in the building in marketing, accounting, information technology, and other departments. Affected employees will have the option of relocating with their positions. The action is being taken to foster departmental synergies and to make better use of the company’s real estate assets and support the company’s goal of streamlining its management workforce. Norfolk Southern is in the final process of evaluating which positions will be relocated to its corporate headquarters in Norfolk, Va., or its operational headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. Some regionally oriented positions will remain in Roanoke but will move to other work locations in the area. “This will not involve any involuntary force reductions, and we will provide substantial relocation packages for those who choose to relocate,” said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern president. “Norfolk Southern has been a proud corporate citizen of Roanoke for more than 130 years, and that will not change. While our profile may be reduced, Roanoke will remain a key location in our network, and we will remain engaged in the community.” Roanoke will remain the headquarters for Norfolk Southern’s Virginia Division, and the company will continue operating a local switching yard and locomotive and car maintenance facilities at Shaffer’s Crossing, and a locomotive overhaul and rebuilding facility in its East End Shops. In total, about 1,700 people currently work for Norfolk Southern in Roanoke. The Roanoke office building was built in 1992 and consists of more than 203,000 square feet of office space. Disposition of the building will be determined at a later time. (Norfolk Southern - posted 1/27)

NJ TRANSIT TO RESUME FULL SERVICE ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28 : NJ TRANSIT will operate full weekday service on its bus, rail, light rail and Access Link services on Wednesday, January 28. NJ TRANSIT crews have successfully completed mandatory rail inspections and continue to mobilize bus, rail and light rail employees to ensure full weekday service on Wednesday. NJ TRANSIT’s Access Link call center has also reopened and is taking paratransit reservations for tomorrow, with trips beginning at 9 a.m. Cross-honoring of NJ TRANSIT tickets and passes on the Corporation’s bus, rail and light rail services and private bus carriers in New Jersey began on Monday, January 26 and will continue through and including Wednesday, January 28. (NJ Transit - posted 1/27)

NEW YORK'S MTA AND THE PATH WILL SHUTDOWN AT 11PM TONIGHT New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this afternoon announced a travel ban on all state and local roads in thirteen downstate counties effective at 11 p.m. tonight. All MTA and Port Authority public transit systems will also be suspended beginning at 11 pm. until further notice. The Governor urged commuters and motorists to get home well in advance of the 11 p.m. closures as winter storm Juno intensifies throughout the evening and travel conditions worsen. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the greater New York City metropolitan area effective today and through Tuesday night. The National Weather Service forecasts snow accumulation of at least 1 ½ to 2 feet combined with wind gusts of up to 70 MPH on Eastern parts of Long Island. (NY Governor Andrew Cuomo - posted 1/26)

NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES FULL SUSPENSION OF SERVICE: NJ TRANSIT today announced that, due to the severe winter weather impacting the region, it will implement a gradual system-wide shutdown today as follows.
  • Access Link: Service suspended effective 2 p.m. today until further notice
  • Bus, Rail, Light Rail: Final trips will depart their points of origin at 8 p.m. tonight with full service suspension by 10 p.m. All last trips on the rail system will make all local stops.
NJ TRANSIT will work hard to restore service as quickly as possible. Bus, light rail and Access Link service will resume when conditions permit. Rail service will also resume when conditions permit and when mandatory federal inspections can be completed. “NJ TRANSIT’s top priority is the safety of our customers, employees and the citizens of the Garden State”, said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “This prudent and necessary action will enable NJ TRANSIT to resume service as soon as it is safely able to do so.” Motorists and pedestrians are advised that some non-revenue commuter rail and light rail trains will operate during the service suspension to keep tracks, switches and overhead catenary wires clear of building snow and ice conditions. NJ TRANSIT cross-honoring of tickets and passes on bus, rail, light rail and private bus carrier services remains in effect through Wednesday, January 28. Based on the duration and severity of the storm, this timeframe could be extended if necessary. (NJ Transit - posted 1/26)

MBTA CANCELS ALL SERVICE ON TUESDAY DUE TO WINTER STORM JUNO: With public safety of paramount importance, all modes of MBTA service will be suspended all day and night on Tuesday, January 27, 2015. Light snow will eventually turn into heavy snow tonight with strong wind gusts likely. Heavy snow and wind gusts are expected throughout the day Tuesday, January 27, 2015. The MBTA has put its winter plan into action in preparation for the storm (MBTA - posted 1/26)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL YEAR 2014 RESULTS: Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported financial results for fourth-quarter and full-year 2014. Net income for the quarter was $511 million, or $1.64 per diluted share, compared with $513 million, or $1.64 per diluted share, earned in fourth-quarter 2013. For the year, net income increased to a record $2.0 billion, 5 percent higher compared with $1.9 billion for 2013. Diluted earnings per share for 2014 were a record $6.39, up 6 percent compared with $6.04 per diluted share for 2013 “Norfolk Southern delivered another solid quarter of financial performance, capping a record-setting year during which our company achieved its best results for revenues, operating income, net income, earnings per share, and operating ratio,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “For 2015, we plan to invest $2.4 billion in capital investments to maintain the safety and quality of our rail network, enhance service, improve operational efficiency, and support growth opportunities.” FOURTH-QUARTER SUMMARY
  • Operating revenues were $2.9 billion, about even compared with fourth-quarter 2013, with gains in merchandise and intermodal revenues offsetting weaker coal revenues. Total volume was up 4 percent, or about 66,000 units, due to gains in intermodal and merchandise traffic.
  • General merchandise revenues were $1.7 billion, 3 percent higher than the same period last year. Volume grew by 5 percent, led by increases in shipments of chemicals and metals and construction. The five commodity groups reported mixed revenue results on a year-over-year basis:
  • Chemicals: $477 million, up 11 percent
  • Agriculture: $387 million, down 2 percent
  • Metals/Construction: $366 million, up 5 percent
  • Automotive: $253 million, even
  • Paper/Forest: $195 million, down 3 percent
  • Intermodal revenues increased to $649 million, 5 percent higher compared with fourth-quarter 2013. Growth in international and domestic business pushed traffic volume up 6 percent in the quarter compared with the same period of 2013.
  • Coal revenues were $543 million, 15 percent lower compared with the fourth quarter of 2013. A weak global export market and fewer shipments of coal to utilities combined to decrease volume by 6 percent.
  • Railway operating expenses were $2.0 billion, down 1 percent compared with the same period of 2013.
  • Income from railway operations was $891 million, a fourth-quarter record and 1 percent higher compared with fourth-quarter 2013.
  • The operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, improved 1 percent to 69.0 percent, compared with the same quarter in 2013.
  • Railway operating revenues reached a record $11.6 billion, 3 percent higher compared with 2013, driven by a 5 percent increase in traffic volume.
  • General merchandise revenues rose 6 percent to $6.7 billion, and traffic volume increased 5 percent compared with the prior year.
  • Intermodal revenues increased to $2.6 billion, up 7 percent compared with 2013. Traffic volume was 8 percent higher for 2014 compared with 2013
  • . Coal revenues were $2.4 billion, down 6 percent, due to a 5 percent decline in traffic volume compared with 2013.
  • Railway operating expenses were $8 billion, up 1 percent compared with 2013.
  • Income from railway operations was a record $3.6 billion, 10 percent higher compared with 2013.
  • The operating ratio for the year was a record 69.2 percent, a 3 percent improvement compared with 71.0 percent in 2013.
(Norfolk Southern - posted 1/26)

SEPTA ANNOUNCES SUBURBAN STATION TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP WITH VERIZON: Three new state-of-the-art video schedule boards are among the improvements at Suburban Station under agreement with Verizon that is delivering customer service upgrades and generating new advertising revenue for SEPTA. "SEPTA is proud to announce this innovative partnership with Verizon," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "The experience for our riders will be greatly improved with amenities Verizon is bringing to Suburban Station. In addition, the advertising revenue this deal generates will go directly toward SEPTA's operating costs, helping our bottom-line."The SEPTA-Verizon Technology Partnership for Suburban Station is the result of a long-term contract between Verizon and Titan, which sells advertising at SEPTA stations, on vehicles and other Authority properties. Video boards - Clarity Matrix LCD Video Wall Systems made by Planar Systems, Inc. - have been installed at the west and northeast concourses, and at the ticket booth. The screens provide riders with information about train schedules, travel updates and weather reports. Planar is widely recognized as the leading manufacturer of video walls designed for these types of public displays, which utilize multiple cutting-edge, ultra-narrow LCDs to deliver high-definition images. The partnership with Verizon is consistent with SEPTA's mandate to seek alternative sources to help pay for operating expenses. In passing recent legislation for transportation funding in Pennsylvania, state lawmakers have called on SEPTA and other transit agencies to bolster advertising and other non-fare revenues. In response, SEPTA has worked closely with Titan, the leading transit advertising agency in the country, on a groundbreaking campaign to bring in additional advertising dollars. "This is a fantastic opportunity for both SEPTA and Verizon," said Jon Roche, Titan's General Manager Vice President for the Philadelphia Region. "This partnership with SEPTA will give exceptional and indelible branding for Verizon in the heart of Center City Philadelphia." Today's announcement about the partnership also coincides with the 11:00 a.m. grand opening of a new Verizon store in Suburban Station - A Wireless - a premium wireless retailer and exclusive Verizon agent. The store offers Philadelphia-area commuters and visitors the option to explore the latest wireless and broadband technology. It will also be a nice addition to the broad array of shops already in the station that make for a great customer shopping experience for those traveling through the concourse. "We are in the business of providing innovative solutions that keep people connected. This newest store will serve heavily traveled Suburban Station, making it convenient for consumers and SEPTA commuters looking for cutting-edge wireless technology to enhance their lifestyles," said Mike Willsey,Director of Agent Retail Location for Verizon Wireless. (SEPTA - posted 1/23)

CANADIAN PACIFIC ANNOUNCES FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL YEAR RESULTSl Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) (CP) today announced the lowest quarterly operating ratio in the company's history and record net income for both the fourth quarter and the full year 2014. Revenues in the fourth quarter climbed 10 percent to an all-time high $1.76 billion . Net income rose to a record $451 million , or $2.63 per diluted share. Adjusted earnings in the fourth-quarter jumped to $460 million , or $2.68 per share, from $338 million , or $1.91 per share, in the fourth quarter 2013. "I am proud of the team at CP, which continues to build momentum as we exited the year with double-digit revenue growth and a sub-60 operating ratio, proving again our ability to control costs while growing the top line," said E. Hunter Harrison , CP's Chief Executive Officer. "In just two short years, CP has transformed from an industry laggard into a railway leader, and achieved its ambitious 2016 targets two full years ahead of schedule." FULL-YEAR 2014 HIGHLIGHTS
  • Revenue climbed 8 percent to an all-time high $6.62 billion
  • Operating ratio fell to a record 64.7 percent, a 520-basis-point drop on an adjusted basis
  • Reported EPS rose 71 percent to a record $8.46
  • Adjusted EPS climbed 32 percent to $8.50
"CP's remarkable transformation has allowed it to exceed its operational and financial goals for 2014, positioning the company to be nimble in the near-term and successful in the long run," Harrison said. "CP fully recognizes the impact of short-term volatility in commodity prices, but given the diversity of its business and proven ability to control costs, we're confident in our ability to execute on our plan going forward." "We are just getting started," Harrison said. 2015 FULL-YEAR GUIDANCE
  • Operating ratio below 62 percent
  • Revenue growth of 7-8 percent
  • Adjusted EPS increase of more than 25 percent vs. 2014 adjusted EPS of $8.50
  • No assumption on share buybacks beyond current NCIB program expiring March 16, 2015
  • Canadian dollar to U.S. dollar exchange rate of C$1.20
  • Tax rate of 27.5 per cent
  • Defined benefit pension expense of approximately $45 million vs. 2014 pension income of $43 million
  • Capital expenditures of approximately $1.5 billion
  • Average On Highway Diesel price of $2.70
  • Average WTI price of $46
  • 140,000 crude carloads
(CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/22)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 17, 2015. Total cumulative U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week was 551,856 carloads and intermodal units, a slight decline of 1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Jan. 17, 2015 were 290,963 up 0.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014 while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 260,893 containers and trailers, down 2.4 percent compared to week two of 2014. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by Grain with 25,062 carloads, up 18.2 percent; and Chemicals with 30,947 carloads, up 4.6 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014, Nonmetallic Minerals at 31,124 carloads, down 4.4 percent; and Metallic Ores and Metals with 24,656 carloads, down 3.3 percent. For the first two weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 567,536 carloads, up 3.7 percent from the same point last year, and 501,840 intermodal units, down 0.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first two weeks of 2015 was 1,069,376 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent from last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 17, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 386,764 carloads, up 1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 330,972 intermodal units, a decrease of 0.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 717,736 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first two weeks of 2015 was 1,390,331 carloads and intermodal units, up 3 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 79,206 carloads for the week, up 2.9 percent, and 58,844 intermodal units, up 7.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first two weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 268,917 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.8 percent Mexican railroads reported 16,595 carloads for the week, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,235 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first two weeks of 2015 was 52,038 carloads, up 0.7 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 1/22)

MTA BOARD APPROVES LIMITED FARE AND TOLL INCREASES: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today approved increasing fares and tolls by 4% over the next two years, fulfilling a promise to keep fare and toll increases as low as possible. The new fares and tolls will take effect March 22, and will ensure the MTA can continue providing quality service even as ridership continues to climb. “The MTA has been able to limit these fare and toll increases to the equivalent of 2% a year thanks to our continued aggressive cost-cutting, while still adding service and improving service quality for our growing number of customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Our Financial Plan assumes modest biennial fare and toll increases, and the Board has chosen options with lower increases for our most frequent customers.” The MTA has cut $1.1 billion from its annual spending, with more cuts planned every year to bring annual savings to $1.6 billion by 2018. The Board approved increasing the base fare for the subway and bus by 25 cents to $2.75, while also more than doubling the bonus amount added to MetroCard purchases of at least one round-trip. The combination of the increased fare and the increased bonus creates an effective fare increase of 4.1%, or 10 cents, for the Bonus MetroCard, which is used for 43% of trips. The 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 29% of trips, will increase 4% to $116.50. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 21% of trips, will increase 3.3% to $31. The remaining 7% of trips are made using non-bonus MetroCards, cash on buses or Single Ride Tickets, which are largely purchased near major tourist destinations.? (MTA - posted 1/22)

AIRTRAIN TO LAGUARDIA AIRPORT: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed the constructed of an AirTrain transit line to service New York's LaGuardia Airport. LaGuardia Airport is New York’s primary domestic air gateway, serving nearly 27 million passengers annually. For years travelers, businesses, and airport employees have called for improved accessibility to LaGuardia. In addition to modernizing airport facilities, the State will also improve access by creating an Air-Train to LaGuardia that directly connects to the subway and Long Island Rail Road at Mets-Willets Point Station. The AirTrain will be constructed by the Port Authority and the MTA at an estimated cost of $450 million (Alex Mayes - posted 1/21)

TSB RELEASES REPORT ON TASCHEREAU YARD DERAILMENT: The Transportation Safety Board of Canada today released its investigation report (R13D0077) . into the derailment of a Canadian National Railway (CN) freight train in Taschereau Yard, Montréal, Quebec. On 6 November 2013, at approximately 05:05 Eastern Standard Time, a CN freight train derailed 10 empty cars while travelling through a tight curve at Taschereau Yard in Montréal, Quebec. The derailed cars and the track were damaged. There were no injuries. The investigation determined that, as the train began to accelerate from a stop, the empty cars occupying the curve were pulled over the lower (inside) rail and derailed. The first car to derail, the 29th car, was an empty, long car equipped with end-of-car cushioning devices. These cars are susceptible to high lateral/vertical (L/V) forces, especially in curves. With a block of empty cars marshalled ahead of a block of loaded cars, the empty cars experienced a significantly higher L/V force than the loaded cars. In the weeks following the derailment, CN issued instructions aimed at minimizing in-train forces in the curve of track CX01. Yard and train personnel must ensure that the train brakes are fully released before initiating a movement and must limit the force applied to the train by the locomotive consist. CN will continue to ensure compliance with these instructions by reviewing locomotive event recorder downloads (TSB - posted 1/21)

CANADIAN PACIFIC ANNOUNCES THE APPOINTMENT OF TIMOTHY E. MARSH AS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT SALES AND MARKETING: Canadian Pacific today announced that Timothy (Tim) E. Marsh has been appointed Senior Vice-President Sales and Marketing effective Feb. 1, 2015. Marsh joins CP from COSCO where he had been Executive Vice-President North America Trade Division. His career at COSCO began in 2002 when he was appointed General Manager National Sales. Marsh brings to CP 25 years of sales and marketing experience in the international shipping industry. "Finding the right person to lead CP's sales and marketing team is integral as we look to position ourselves for long-term growth," said Keith Creel, CP's President and Chief Operating Officer. "Our team has built a strong foundation for the future, and with Tim leading the charge, we expect to provide innovative service to our customers, uncover new opportunities, diversify the business and achieve our goals." As Senior Vice-President Sales and Marketing, Marsh will lead a large, world-class sales and marketing organization. Marsh will be responsible for enhancing existing revenues, winning new business, prioritizing and improving the quality of the book of business, diversifying the revenue base by creating new products and services, identifying opportunities – and developing strategies – for new, aligned lines of business. "I am thrilled at the opportunity to join a Canadian icon such as CP, which is in the midst of a remarkable transformation," said Marsh. "CP's focus on the customer, service and its own people makes it a company that attracts the best talent, and I am humbled to join such an ambitious and capable team." Marsh holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Le Moyne University in Syracuse, New York and an M.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Phoenix. ( Canadian Pacific - posted 1/21)

REBUILDING EFFORTS TOP METRO-NORTH'S AGENDA IN 2015: The major safety initiatives and aggressive track improvements that defined 2014 for MTA Metro-North Railroad will continue in 2015, Railroad President Joseph Giulietti announced Tuesday. The railroad also expects continued improvements as the last of the 405 M-8 cars are placed into service on the New Haven Line this spring. “Numerous safety initiatives, both implemented and underway, and our ongoing, aggressive track maintenance program are paying off as reliability increases, slowly but surely,” Giulietti told the Metro-North Committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board. “It is critical that we bring our infrastructure to a state of good repair and that we continue to focus each and every employee on the importance of safety as our core value.” The railroad achieved record ridership in 2014 carrying a projected 84.7 million customers, higher than the previous record of 83.6 million set in 2008, and a 1.4% increase over 2013. Giulietti also announced on-time performance goals for 2015 of 93% for trains operating in the AM and PM peaks and 92% for off-peak trains. The slightly lower goal for off-peak and weekends acknowledges that this is when most track work is performed. In 2014, Metro-North achieved an overall on-time performance of 91.5%. Metro-North also set a goal for equipment reliability, known as mean distance between failure, of 185,000 miles, an increase from the 2014 goal of 160,000 miles. Achievements in improved safety include the installation of alerters on the entire fleet to ensure that train engineers remain responsive, the launch a pilot program to identify key employees who may have sleep apnea, and the award of a contract for the purchase of inward- and outward-facing cameras onboard all trains in the fleet. Customer complaints in 2014 dropped 30 percent overall through December and complaints about late and cancelled trains dropped 60 percent. Here are some highlights of Metro-North’s track program in 2014: Railroad workers replaced 42,500 crossties on all three lines, re-surfaced 83 miles of track across all lines resulting in upgrades to 20 miles of right of way, including drainage improvements. Two dozen new switches (where tracks move from one track to another) were installed on the main lines, at Grand Central Terminal and in yards to improve operational flexibility. Three highway grade crossings were renewed at Chippawalla Road and Pleasant Ridge Road on the Harlem Line and at Manitou Road on the Hudson Line. Workers replaced 7,000 feet of continuous welded rail on six curves on the Hudson Line and 4,700 feet of rail on three curves on the New Haven Line. Steel repairs were made to four under grade bridges and timber bridge decks were replaced on nine bridges east and west of the Hudson River. New timber ties, continuous welded rail, new miter rails and presence detectors were installed at the WALK Bridge, in Norwalk, Conn., and new timber ties were installed at the DEVON Bridge in Milford, Conn., and at the Harlem River Lift Bridge, that connects Manhattan and the Bronx. In 2015, Metro-North Maintenance of Way forces will continue to clean or replace “foul ballast” throughout the territory. Ballast refers to the small stones that stabilize the track structure that sometimes gets contaminated and become less effective. Metro-North also will create a new gang that focuses solely on drainage improvements, as standing water is damaging to good track. Another specialty track gang will be created to replace ties in areas that are difficult in which to work, such as interlockings and adjacent to station platforms. Also on tap is the installation of eight miles of continuous welded rail, replacement of eight grade crossings in Connecticut and installation of fiberglass brackets and channels to support new aluminum third rail that will be installed in targeted locations. “The progress that has been made is due to the hard work and dedication of the workers of Metro-North and I am proud of them,” added Giulietti, who took the helm less than a year ago, on February 10, 2014. (MTA - posted 1/20)

ROCKY MOUNTAINEER ANNOUNCES A MAJOR CONTRACT AGREEMENT WITH CANARAIL TO REFURBISH EQUIPMENT: Rocky Mountaineer and CANARAIL announced today a contract agreement to revitalize the luxury tourist rail company's GoldLeaf fleet consisting of sixteen (16) bi-level domed cars. Once this strategic project is completed, new and returning travelers will experience an even more luxurious journey through the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies. Acting as the prime contractor, CANARAIL will be responsible for the delivery of the entire program and will direct the operations from its Montreal based office. "This is the largest capital investment in Rocky Mountaineer's 25 year history. Considerable research and planning has gone into this project, with the singular goal of delighting our guests with the changes to our most luxurious class of rail cars, said Gord Miller, Vice President of Rail Operations and Asset Development, Rocky Mountaineer. We evaluated many prospective partners and selected CANARAIL because of its expertise in the sector and track record of innovation". Based on the success of the pilot project completed in 2013 and the extremely positive feedback from travelers, an agreement was made to refurbish the entire fleet. Most of the work will be accomplished in the Gaspé region in Quebec. The work will consist of full engineering and design work of various components (interior design, lighting, plumbing, installation of state of the art seating, electrical work and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems). The work is expected to be completed in 2018. "We are thrilled to be working with Rocky Mountaineer on this project, said Miguel Valero, president & CEO, CANARAIL. Historically, our team began working with Rocky Mountaineer as an engineering service provider. We have now become a trusted and reliable partner to assist Rocky Mountaineer in reaching this significant milestone. We are very happy to solidify our partnership as we are both international companies, headquartered in Canada, sharing a commitment to quality and customer focus.'' . (Rocky Mountaineer - posted 1/20)

SHUTTLE BUSING SCHEDULED ALONG SEPTA'S MANAYUNK/NORRISTOWN REGIONAL RAIL LINE: Due to a track and signal improvement project along SEPTA's Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail Line, shuttle buses will replace rail service between Elm Street and Conshohocken Stations on Saturdays and Sundays, January 17, 18, 24, 25 and February 14, 15, 21 and 22. Passengers traveling inbound to Center City will board Shuttle buses at Elm Street, Main Street and Norristown Transportation Center approximately 18 minutes before their regularly scheduled train times. After leaving Norristown Transportation Center, shuttle buses will travel to Conshohocken Station where passengers will board trains to complete their inbound trips to Center City. All trains will depart from Conshohocken Station approximately five-eight minutes earlier than the current scheduled time with the exception of train 2573 which will depart 24 minutes earlier than regularly scheduled. All trains will arrive at Center City Stations at regularly scheduled times. For inbound passengers requiring an accessible station, shuttle bus service will be extended to Spring Mill Station. Trains traveling outbound towards Norristown will depart from Center City Stations at regularly scheduled times and operate as far as Conshohocken Station. Trains will arrive at Conshohocken Station approximately 14 minutes later than regularly scheduled train times. Passengers traveling to Norristown will board shuttle buses at Conshohocken Station to complete their outbound trips. After departing from Conshohocken Station, shuttle buses will travel to Norristown Transportation Center, Main Street and Elm Street Stations. Outbound passengers traveling to Norristown requiring an accessible station should make the conductor aware of their final stop. If the station is beyond Spring Mill Station, the conductor will advise the passenger of the shuttle bus operation to complete their outbound trips to Elm Street Station. All passengers should add approximately 30 minutes onto their travel time. In the event of inclement weather, alternate dates have been scheduled for March 21, 22, 28 and 29. (SEPTA - posted 1/19)

NS ALTER CONCERNING SEPTA TRACXWORK SEPTA (Commuter Railroad) will be performing track work on four consecutive weekends beginning Saturday, January 17, 2015 that will delay all Norfolk Southern intermodal trains into and out of the Morrisville, PA facility. The track curfew imposed by SEPTA on Norfolk Southern trains begins at 02:00 Saturday mornings and ends at 20:00 Sunday mornings (earlier than previously announced). Norfolk Southern operates on less than two miles of SEPTA line to access the Morrisville, PA facility. (NS - posted 1/19)

GOV. MALLOY, BOND COMMISSION APPROVE DESIGN OF RAIL STATIONS ON HARTFORD AND NEW HAVEN LINES : Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that $5.75 million approved this morning by the State Bond Commission will be used to advance design plans and address environmental issues for new railroad stations on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Line (NHHS) and the New Haven Line. The funding will be combined with another $4 million in previously approved funding. Now branded as the “Hartford Line,” the new NHHS line stations will be in Enfield, West Hartford, Newington and North Haven. Also included are enhancements to existing stations in Windsor Locks and Windsor, and a location study for a future Hamden station. On the New Haven Line, new stations will be added in Orange and Bridgeport (to be known as Barnum Station, a second station in the Park City), plus enhancements to the existing Merritt Seven Station on the Danbury Branch of the New Haven Line. “Creating a commuter rail line along the I-91 corridor is part of our transformative transportation vision for Connecticut,” Governor Malloy said. “This bond authorization will give this important project needed momentum. Completing environmental work and design is what will propel the projects toward reality. This $365 million project will improve the quality of intercity service along the corridor and enhance regional rail connections.” In partnership with the Malloy administration, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is expanding passenger service along the 62-mile corridor between New Haven and Springfield. CTDOT anticipates much transit-oriented development in the corridor as a result of the more robust service. CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said that Connecticut will add 22 trains per day to the 12 trains that Amtrak currently operates and added, “This project will make rail travel far more attractive and competitive in the corridor (CTDOT - posted 1/16)

NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES SYSTEMWIDE EXPANSION OF ‘QUIET COMMUTE’ PROGRAM : Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox and NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim today announced that effective January 20 the agency’s Quiet Commute program will be expanding systemwide to the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, on trains departing/arriving Hoboken Terminal, Newark Penn Station, New York Penn Station, Atlantic City Station and Bay Head shuttle trains departing or arriving at Long Branch Station. "Since NJ TRANSIT introduced ‘Quiet Cars’ in 2010, it has been popular with customers who want to relax or work in a quiet atmosphere," said Commissioner Fox. "It has been successful and something the public wants, which is why we’re expanding the program across our system." “We heard from our customers that they want to enjoy the benefits of Quiet Commute cars on more of our trains,” said Executive Director Hakim. “This expansion demonstrates to our customers that their feedback will continue to be the driving force behind NJ TRANSIT’s ongoing efforts to improve their overall experience on our system.” Quiet Commute cars are intended to provide a subdued environment for customers who wish to refrain from using cell phones and are willing to disable the sound feature on pagers, games, computers and other electronic devices. Conversations should be conducted in subdued voices, and headphones should be used at a volume that cannot be heard by other passengers. NJ TRANSIT will continue to closely monitor and evaluate the Quiet Commute program, with feedback received from customers and employees guiding any possible changes. (NJT - posted 1/15)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR FIRST FULL WEEK OF 2015: Today, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 10, 2015. Total cumulative U.S. weekly rail traffic for the first full week of 2015 was 517,520 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads were at 276,573 up 7.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014 while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 240,947 containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent compared the same week in 2014. Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by Coal, up 108,449 carloads or 4.2 percent; Nonmetallic Minerals, up 30,742 or 22 percent; Chemicals, up 30,425 carloads or 7 per cent; and Metallic Ores and Metals, up 23,699 or 17.6 percent. Of the two commodity groups that posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2014, Farm Products (excluding grain and food) was down 16,322 carloads or 1.7 percent. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 10, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,454 carloads, up 8.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 306,852 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 673,306 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.4 percent. Canadian railroads reported 74,742 carloads for the week, up 11.5 percent, and 56,125 intermodal units, up 16.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first full week of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 130,867 carloads and intermodal units, up 13.4 percent from the same point last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,139 carloads for the week, up 4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,780 intermodal units, slightly up 0.5 percent. Total traffic on Mexican railroads for the week ending Jan. 10, 2015 was 24,919 carloads and containers and trailers, up 2.6 percent compared with the same week last year. (AAR - posted 1/15)

CANADIAN NATIONAL'S CHICAGO INVESTMENTS: Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN, said today CN's substantial investments in its U.S. Midwest operations, particularly the former Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (EJ&E), are keeping its network fluid, helping the railroad accommodate increased demand for its freight services, and freeing up rail capacity inside Chicago for other railroads. Mongeau, speaking to the Midwest Association of Rail Shippers, said CN's substantial presence in the U.S. Midwest is the product of a series of rail acquisitions and investments that have extended its network reach south, north and west of Chicago, as well as around the city. In the past five years, CN has invested well over one billion dollars in its Midwest operations. CN today has 5,400 employees in the Midwest, roughly 1,400 of whom live and work in the Chicago region. With roughly 25 per cent of its freight traffic touching the city, CN's Chicago focus is on network efficiencies, close collaboration with other freight and passenger carriers, and delivering solid customer service. Mongeau said the acquisition of the EJ&E in 2009 "has transformed our operations in North America's business rail hub. The EJ&E solution allows us to seamlessly connect our five rail lines entering Chicago and to avoid congested inner city rail corridors. This is a clear gain for CN, but it also frees up capacity for other carriers on the Belt Railway of Chicago and Indiana Harbor Belt - a benefit for the entire greater Chicago rail network." Mongeau said the "J" is helping CN accommodate rising traffic, which has been growing strongly across all business units for the past five years in both Canada and the United States. "Almost 30 per cent of CN's revenue ton-miles are in the United States, so the U.S. is clearly an important market for CN," said Mongeau. "Transborder U.S.-Canada traffic is also a major market for CN - our northbound traffic has grown faster than southbound freight over the past five years. As such, we play an important role in moving U.S. exports to both Canada and offshore destinations." Mongeau concluded: "Our business agenda is shaped by what CN stands for, by what we do best, and by the way we see our role as a true backbone of the economy. At the core of our agenda is CN's commitment to Operational and Service Excellence whose purpose is to help our customers compete better in their end markets." (CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/14)

CSX'S FOURTH QUARTER RESULTS: CSX Corporation today announced record fourth-quarter 2014 net earnings of $491 million, a 15 percent increase from $426 million for the same period last year. The company also generated record fourth-quarter earnings per share of $0.49, up 17 percent from $0.42 per share in 2013. "CSX is capturing broad-based market strength, completing strategic infrastructure projects and adding resources to further improve service performance and leverage growth opportunities," said Michael J. Ward, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Building on a foundation of strong safety and customer service, we expect to continue growing our intermodal and merchandise businesses faster than the economy, pricing above inflation, and driving efficient asset utilization." Fourth-quarter revenue increased 5 percent to $3.2 billion, with strength across merchandise, intermodal and coal. The timely addition of operating resources enhanced service through the fall peak shipping season and supported volume growth. As a result, operating income increased 11 percent to $901 million, and the operating ratio improved 140 basis points to 71.8 percent. For the full-year, CSX produced new all-time records for revenue of $12.7 billion, operating income of $3.6 billion, net earnings of $1.9 billion and earnings per share of $1.92. At the same time, the operating ratio remained relatively stable at 71.5 percent. Looking to 2015, CSX expects continued strong growth across its diverse business mix and is poised for sustainable business expansion. The company continues to expect to generate double-digit growth in earnings per share and margin expansion in 2015, progressing toward a mid-60s operating ratio longer term. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/14)

U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY FOXX NAMES SARA FEINBERG ACTING ADMINISTRATOR OF FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today that Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Sarah Feinberg will serve as Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). She succeeds Joseph C. Szabo who was appointed and confirmed as the agency’s twelfth Administrator is 2009. Szabo stepped down as the agency’s head last Friday. “Sarah has been my partner and served as my closest advisor during her tenure as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation. With her ability to bring clarity, focus and direction to complex challenges, she has become a proven leader within our agency,” said Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Sarah has the right mix of experience and skills to adeptly lead the FRA as it continues its important work to ensure the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods.” Feinberg becomes the second woman to lead the agency since its founding in 1966. Since 2013 Feinberg has served as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), managing the agency’s ten modal departments, and spearheading the agency’s legislative, policy, and communications efforts. Feinberg provided strategic advice and counsel to the Secretary regarding operational and legislative initiatives across all modes of transportation, as well as leading the department’s efforts on its $302 billion surface transportation reauthorization plan, sent to the U.S. Congress last year. During her time as Chief of Staff, Feinberg worked closely with Secretary Foxx and each agency in the Department to ensure that they are continuously raising the bar on safety. As Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Feinberg will work to strengthen the culture of safety across the railroad industry. The FRA is the Nation’s chief safety regulator for the passenger and freight rail industries. The agency has a $1.6 billion budget and employs nearly 900 people in Washington, D.C. and eight regional offices across the country. It establishes and enforces safety rules for the rail industry as well as manages a $20 billion rail investment portfolio. (USDOT - posted 1/13)

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION UNVEILS DESIGN PLANS FOR RECONSTRUCTION OF ELIZABETH STATION: Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox and NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim today announced the unveiling of the preliminary design plans for a $55 million restoration of Elizabeth Station. The project includes construction of a new station building, new elevators and stairs, vendor space and reconstruction of the passenger platforms. The project will be funded through state and federal sources.   “This project is a prime example of Governor Christie’s commitment to invest in our public transportation system,” said Commissioner Fox. “Working with our partners at Amtrak, which owns the Northeast Corridor, this station will be primed to promote economic development in a city that continues to work hard at improving the quality of life for its residents.”   “The reconstruction of Elizabeth Station will provide a state-of-the-art facility for the residents and riders that also reflects the character of the historic business district” stated Executive Director Hakim. “We recognize the importance of this facility to passengers on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines and are committed to providing a safe and modern facility.”   The design of the station includes a two-story station building with a street-level ticket office, waiting room and vendor space. New, extended high-level train platforms will accommodate longer, 12-car trains and the platforms will feature covered, heated and air conditioned waiting areas. The station will include upgraded passenger information and security systems. Additional elevators, renovations to existing elevators and additional stairways will enhance platform access. The westbound plaza entrance will be highlighted by a marquee façade, new stairs, and new vendor space. NJ TRANSIT and the City of Elizabeth will collaborate to incorporate art into the design of the station.   NJ TRANSIT has coordinated the design package with Amtrak to accommodate Amtrak’s future plans to add a fifth track to the Northeast Corridor, which affects station platform placement and final design approval. Upon final Amtrak approval, NJ TRANSIT will procure a design-build contractor to construct the project, with an expected completion date in 2018.   Elizabeth Station serves NJ TRANSIT's Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Rail Lines as well as local bus service, including 9 NJ TRANSIT bus lines.  The Elizabeth Station serves an average of 7,526 weekday passenger trips (FY2014), with 113 daily trains utilizing the station.   (NJ Transit - posted 1/13)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN EVP AND CMO DON SEALE TO RETIRE: Donald W. Seale, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Norfolk Southern Corp. , has announced his plan to retire effective March 1, 2015, Chairman and CEO Wick Moorman said today. “Don’s central role in building Norfolk Southern’s culture of continuous improvement in customer focus began at the corporation’s creation, and we will continue to benefit from it well into the future,” Moorman said. “His leadership has helped position railroads not only as engines of economic growth but as true partners with the people and industries we serve.” NS’ board of directors will name Seale’s successor at a later time. Seale joined NS in 1976 as a management trainee. He served in numerous sales and marketing capacities relating to the railroad’s service to its merchandise and coal customers before being named senior vice president marketing services in 2003, executive vice president sales and marketing in 2004, and executive vice president and chief marketing officer in 2006. Seale’s tenure as leader of NS’ marketing division saw expansion in demand for quality rail service. The corporation recorded its first $10 billion railway operating revenues year and annual revenues increased by approximately $4 billion during that time. He championed new, more time-sensitive service offerings for producers, manufacturers, shippers, and receivers of coal, automobiles, chemicals, agriculture and consumer products, metals and construction materials, paper, clay, forest products, and intermodal trailers and containers. In the last three years, Seale’s team has been a leader in developing and marketing rail services to new and expanding businesses in the energy sector. He has also been a strong and tireless advocate of industrial development to spur new industries and jobs across the states Norfolk Southern serves culminating in $5.7 billion in new investments and over 4400 associated jobs in 2014 alone. (NS - posted 1/15)

SEPTA TO HOLD OPEN HOUSE ON 2016 CAPITAL BUDGET AND 12 YEAR PROGRAM: SEPTA is beginning to seek public input on its new capital budget and program, starting with an open house on Wednesday, January 14. The Open House on the Development of the Fiscal Year 2016 Capital Budget and 12-Year Capital Program will include two sessions, from noon to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Wednesday, January 14. Both sessions will be held in the SEPTA Board Room on the mezzanine level at SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street. Anyone interested is invited to attend, including riders and residents, elected officials, and representatives of citizens groups and public agencies. SEPTA officials will provide those in attendance with a progress update on work related to the "Rebuilding for the Future" Capital Program. SEPTA embarked on this plan following the November 2013 passage of Act 89, the state's new comprehensive solution for transportation capital funding. SEPTA is embarking on a number of projects to catch up on its $5 billion backlog of critical capital projects, such as bridge replacements, power substation overhauls and new vehicle purchases. For more information on Rebuilding for the Future, click here. Public comments on the development of the 2016 Capital Budget and 12-Year Capital Program can be given during the open house, or submitted in writing. Written comments should be sent to SEPTA's Capital Budget and Grant Development Department, 1234 Market Street, 9th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107, or submitted online by clicking here. SEPTA will hold hearings on the capital budget and program plan in April, after the proposal is drafted. (SEPTA - posted 1/12)

AMTRAK AND PARTNERS HOST OPEN HOUSE ON PHILADELPHIA 30TH STREET STATION DISTRICT PLAN : Amtrak and its partners in the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan will host an open house this month to introduce the project to the public and solicit community input. The event is an opportunity for interested parties to learn about the project, meet the team, ask questions and contribute to the process. The open house will be held on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 on the main concourse at 30th Street Station from 4-7 p.m. There will be no formal presentation, but members of the project team will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about the project goals, study area and process. The public is also invited to learn about the project by visiting the recently-launched website, www.PhillyDistrict30.com. Here visitors can get the latest project information, sign up to receive project updates via e-mail, review news coverage and more. The Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan is a joint planning effort focused on creating a single integrated vision for the area surrounding 30th Street Station. The goals of the plan center on concepts of community, connectivity and identity. The effort is led by Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University and SEPTA with support from a Coordinating Committee that includes a wide range of public and private agencies, area stakeholders and other interested parties. (Amtrak - posted 1/12)

AMTRAK LAKE SHORE DELAYS: Passengers traveling aboard the Lake Shore Limited may experience significant delays due to heavy freight congestion along the routes. Over recent weeks, both east and westbound trains have typically encountered delays of more than three hours. Amtrak will continue to work with NS Railway, CSX and other carriers to restore dependable service along this routes. (Amtrak - posted 1/09)

NJ TRANSIT EXPANSION OF ‘QUIET COMMUTE’ TO ATLANTIC CITY RAIL LINE: NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim announced the expansion of the agency’s Quiet Commute program to trains on the Atlantic City Rail Line, operating between Philadelphia and Atlantic City. The program goes into effect January 20 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays. “We heard from our Atlantic City Rail Line customers that they want to enjoy the benefits of Quiet Commute cars on trains, and we are taking action based directly on their recommendations,” said Executive Director Hakim. “We want our customers to know that their feedback will continue to be the driving force behind NJ TRANSIT’s ongoing efforts to improve their overall experience on our system.” The designated Quiet Commute car will be the first car on northbound trains traveling towards Philadelphia, and the last car on southbound trains traveling towards Atlantic City, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Quiet Commute cars are intended to provide a subdued environment for customers who wish to refrain from using cell phones and are willing to disable the sound feature on pagers, games, computers and other electronic devices. Conversations should be conducted in subdued voices, and headphones should be used at a volume that cannot be heard by other passengers. NJ TRANSIT will closely monitor and evaluate the Quiet Commute program on the Atlantic City Rail Line, with feedback received from customers and employees guiding any possible changes. NJ TRANSIT first launched the peak period Quiet Commute program in September 2010 as a pilot on its busiest trains—“3900-series” Northeast Corridor express trains—to test the feasibility of offering the amenity on its rail system. After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers, NJ TRANSIT expanded the program in January 2011 to include all peak-period, peak-direction trains that begin or end their trips at New York Penn Station or Newark Penn Station. In June 2011, NJ TRANSIT completed a systemwide rollout to peak-period trains with the expansion of Quiet Commute to include all rail lines that serve Hoboken Terminal. The program was expanded last May to include all off-peak trains serving Hoboken Terminal. (NJ Transit - posted 1/08)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED FREIGHT RAIL TRAFFIC FOR 2014: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased freight rail traffic for all of 2014, December and the week. Total combined traffic for 2014* on U.S. railroads was 28,673,776 carloads, containers, and trailers, up 1,233,184 units or 4.5 percent over 2013 and the highest annual total since 2007. U.S rail carloads were 15,176,835 in 2014, up 3.9 percent or 567,554 carloads over 2013 and the highest total carloads since 2008. U.S. rail intermodal volume totaled a record 13,496,941 containers and trailers in 2014, up 5.2 per cent or 665,630 units over the previous record set in 2013. In 2014, 18 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked annually by AAR saw increases on U.S. railroads compared with 2013. Categories with gains included: grain, up 125,954 carloads or 13.5 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 122,567 carloads or 11.6 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, up 90,185 carloads or 12.7 percent; and coal, up 55,554 carloads or 1 percent. "2014 was a challenging year for America's freight railroads as they responded to traffic surges and shifts in traffic patterns," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics, John T. Gray. "This will be another busy year as the economy continues to grow and the nation's railroads work to be responsive, flexible and efficient for their customers." (AAR - posted 1/08)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN FACILITATES $5.7 BILLION IN INDUSTRIAL INVESTMENT ALONG RAIL LINES IN 2014: Norfolk Southern assisted 94 industries in locating or expanding their businesses along its rail lines in 2014. The 72 new and 22 expanded industries represent an investment of $5.7 billion by Norfolk Southern customers and are expected to create more than 4,420 new jobs in the railroad's territory, generating more than 205,000 carloads of new rail traffic annually. Norfolk Southern assisted state and local government and economic development officials throughout 18 states in helping customers identify ideal locations for the projects. “The energy sector continued to be a major driver of industrial development projects in 2014, and we began to see the return of more traditional industrial projects such as steel mills, auto assembly plants, tire manufacturers, and food processing facilities,” said Jason Reiner, assistant vice president industrial development. “We expect continued development in the energy sector, as well as growing activity in manufacturing, in 2015. We will continue to work closely with the communities we serve to ensure that high quality industrial sites are identified and ready to be presented to prospective industrial clients. We have the experience and resources available to support our communities in their efforts to compete for new manufacturing and distribution projects.” Norfolk Southern works with state and local economic development authorities on projects involving site location and development of infrastructure to connect customers to its rail system and provides free and confidential plant location services, including industrial park planning, site layout, track design, and supply chain analysis. During the past 10 years, Norfolk Southern's Industrial Development Department has participated in the location or expansion of 1,017 facilities, representing an investment of $57 billion and creating more than 44,000 customer jobs in the territory served by the railroad. (Norfolk Southern Corporation - posted 1/07)

M&E REPORTS 13 PERCENT FREIGHT INCREASE IN 2014 : The year 2014 marked the second consecutive year of freight traffic increases for the Morristown & Erie Railway. “This was an extremely successful year for the Morristown & Erie,” said Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Chuck Jensen. “The addition of significant infrastructure improvements will position the railroad for continued success in 2015.” The Morristown & Erie Railway ended 2014 with a 13% increase in freight rail traffic over 2013. This increase is part of a larger overall trend that has resulted in a 59% overall increase in M&E freight traffic between 2010 and 2014. The railroad is projecting similar traffic increases in 2015, partly due to several capital improvement projects designed to harness additional business opportunities. The Kenvil Team Track was expanded between July and October of 2014, adding an additional track and three additional railcar spots to the facility. The expansion project was performed jointly by the Morristown & Erie Railway and the Morris County Department of Transportation, and it will expand the capacity and marketability of freight rail in Morris County. Marketing efforts are already underway to bring additional freight customers to this facility, which is currently being used by a local lumber distributor to transload from railcars to trucks. In the summer of 2014, the M&E began construction on the new Troy Hills Bulk Transload Facility. The location’s 13 railcar spots and easy access off Route 10 in Whippany will facilitate the expansion of M&E freight rail services while reducing truck traffic on northern New Jersey’s congested highways. The Troy Hills facility is projected to open in 2015. “We are very much looking forward to our 120th year of continuous service in 2015,” Jensen said. “We will continue to provide reliable and quality freight rail service while expanding our outreach and business opportunities.” (M&E- posted 1/07)

NEW AMTRAK NORTHEAST CORRIDOR WEBSITE HIGHLIGHTS CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS : A new Amtrak website. aims to raise awareness about Northeast Corridor (NEC) infrastructure needs, and build support for capital investment in projects crucial to support economic growth in the region and meet a growing demand for passenger rail service. The NEC is a critical transportation artery serving the Northeast’s cities and connecting the entire region with approximately 260 million passenger rail trips occurring every year on Amtrak and eight commuter railroads that operate over the line. Significant capital investment in the aging NEC infrastructure is necessary to deliver capacity and reliability to meet current and projected future demand for passenger rail service and reverse decades of under-investment. The new website includes project information and updates, maps, graphics, and other resources about several NEC infrastructure projects now under construction or in the planning stage. Some of the highlighted projects include the Gateway Program to expand rail capacity into New York City and replacing the Portal Bridge in New Jersey and the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel in Maryland. There also is information on station planning and development efforts, providing next-generation high-speed rail service and other key NEC infrastructure projects and initiatives being advanced by Amtrak and its federal, state, and local partners. "It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the Northeast Corridor to both the regional and national economies. Millions of people and businesses depend on a reliable and functioning NEC and greater federal capital investment is vital to ensuring it stays that way," said Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief NEC Business Development Stephen Gardner. "If greater investments in the NEC aren't made soon we risk a future with increased infrastructure-related service disruptions and delays. This new website will help us tell this important story.” Amtrak’s Northeast Regional and Acela services operating between Washington and Boston each set new ridership records in FY 2014 with 11.6 million passenger trips combined – a 3.3 percent increase over the prior year. Demand for Acela was particularly strong, with 28 days in which the number of Acela trips topped 14,000. There were just five such days the year before. (Amtrak - posted 1/06)

GENESEE & WYOMING COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF PINSLY ARKANSAS RAILROADS: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Pinsly Railroad Company’s Arkansas Division (“Pinsly Arkansas”) for approximately $40 million in cash, subject to adjustment for final working capital. Pinsly Arkansas includes (i) the Arkansas Midland Railroad (AKMD), which is comprised of seven non-contiguous branch lines, (ii) the Prescott & Northwestern Railroad (PNW), (iii) the Warren & Saline River Railroad (WSR), and (iv) the two Arkansas transload operations of Pinsly’s Railroad Distribution Services subsidiary. The railroads operate over 137 miles of owned and leased track serving the Hot Springs and Little Rock areas, as well as the southwestern and southeastern portions of the state, and currently haul approximately 35,000 carloads per year. (G&W - posted 1/05)

MAJOR FEDERAL FUNDING COMMITMENT FOR GREEN LINE EXTENSION: Governor Deval Patrick was joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today as he announced a $996 million federal grant agreement to extend the MBTA Green Line light rail service from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford. The Green Line Extension (GLX) will provide faster and more efficient travel downtown Boston and will serve some of the region’s most densely populated communities. Secretary Foxx and Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan participated in a ceremony to commit the funds with Governor Patrick, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Michael Capuano, MassDOT Acting Secretary Frank DePaola, MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott and other federal, state and local officials. “Today’s funding commitment brings the GLX another step closer to reality," said Governor Patrick. "With the extension, residents of Somerville, Cambridge and Medford will have more options for how they get to work, school and play and, in turn, experience sustainable, smart growth in the local economies. I thank USDOT, the Obama Administration and our Congressional delegation for their commitment to this project." "Bringing light rail to Somerville and Medford will connect residents to work, education and other opportunities while making it easier than ever to access downtown Boston," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We are proud to support projects like this-and recognize the need to do more. We are committed to working with Congress to find bipartisan solutions that will help the Boston region and communities across the U.S. continue to invest in and enhance their transportation systems in the years ahead." The U.S. Department of Transportation will contribute approximately $996 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Capital Investment Grant Program (New Starts) funding over the course of the $2.3 billion project with funds from the Commonwealth covering the remainder. "This bright green light of funding for the Green Line Extension means we can move forward on a critical infrastructure project that will have a major positive impact on Greater Boston. The Green Line Extension will provide fast and efficient service for commuters and day trippers alike,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “With new stations that will link Medford, Somerville and Cambridge to downtown Boston, this extension will improve local and regional mobility, reduce traffic and air pollution and support transit oriented development." The project will be constructed in four overlapping phases from 2013 to 2020. Phase I work began in January 2013 to widen two rail bridges that will carry the new Green Line tracks. Construction on the new Lechmere, East Somerville and Union Square stations will begin this spring. Once completed, trains will operate every five to six minutes in the peak period, providing fast and efficient service to Boston, and resulting in an estimated 37,900 transit trips per day. “The commitment that federal government has demonstrated to bringing the Green Line Extension to life shows the impact that this project will have on improving transportation in the Greater Boston area,” said MassDOT Acting Secretary & CEO Frank DePaola. “Not only will GLX increase access to affordable, sustainable rapid transit but it will reduce traffic congestion and emissions as well.” The project will include construction of six new stations, purchase of 24 new light rail vehicles, construction of a new vehicle maintenance facility, construction of a community bicycle and pedestrian path, and relocation of some existing commuter rail track. “The investment being made in the Green Line Extension by both the federal government and the Commonwealth will pay dividends down the line, not only in expanding access to transit, but in increasing development opportunities in Cambridge, Medford and Somerville through the GLX MassWIN program,” said MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott. The MassWIN (Massachusetts Workforce Initiative Now) program is an effort to build sustainable communities through local participation and collaborative partnerships in transportation projects focused on workforce investment, education achievement, business development and city improvement. The goals of the program are to train residents to meet the hiring requirements for local transportation and construction jobs; place trained community members in transportation and construction career paths; grow the local workforce and economic base; and support sustainable communities by expanding the local workforce, businesses and neighborhoods. “If you want more economic opportunity for everybody, of all socioeconomic levels, there is a clear answer: Build more quality public transportation. Gov. Patrick, former Secretary Davey, Secretary DePaola and Dr. Scott know this, as do President Obama, Administrator McMillan and our partners in Washington, which is why they are making this historic investment to bring the Green Line Extension to fruition,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Expanding public transportation decreases transportation costs for families, lowers unemployment and increases earnings. It puts more money into the economy and creates a resilient, sustainable economy. The Green Line Extension is the backbone for a stronger Somerville, region, Commonwealth, and nation.” Added Senator Patricia Jehlen, “this is a really big deal.” The 4.7-mile light rail extension will extend existing MBTA Green Line service from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. The project will serve some of the region’s most densely populated areas not currently served by rail transit—where 26 percent of residents do not own or have access to cars. “This federal grant agreement represents a giant step toward attaining environmental justice for thousands of Somerville, Cambridge, and Medford residents,” said State Representative Timothy Toomey, Jr. “The amount of work that advocates, residents, and the GLX project team have put into achieving this milestone has been remarkable, and we should be proud of this substantial investment in our public transit system.” (MASS DOT - posted 1/05)

CUSTOMERS INVEST MORE THAN $3.5 BILLION IN CSX NETWORK IN 2014: In 2014, CSX and its customers worked together on 107 projects to build or expand facilities on CSX's network and short line partners. CSX customers invested more than $3.5 billion in these projects, which are expected to generate nearly 5,800 new jobs in local communities and approximately 161,000 annual carloads of new business for CSX.    "In 2014, the bulk of customer investments along our network involved expanding and improving infrastructure for the energy sector. Low natural gas prices are also fueling more downstream projects in the chemicals and fertilizer arena, as well as other manufacturing industries," said Clark Robertson, assistant vice president - regional development.  "We've seen investments from both domestic and multinational companies along our rail network, in part due to the CSX network's ability to reach nearly two-thirds of American consumers. We see strong indicators that this robust activity will continue into 2015."  Over the past decade, CSX customers invested more than $30 billion in rail-served facilities, creating more than 36,000 jobs across the company's 23-state network.  "State and local economic development agencies also play a pivotal role in supporting economic opportunities for new manufacturing facilities," Robertson said. "We appreciate their assistance in helping our customers access our 21,000 mile rail network and the benefits that freight rail provides, including improving their environmental footprint and helping to reduce wear and tear on public roads."  To further expand opportunities for customers to develop on the company's network, the CSX Select Site program certifies properties expressly intended for manufacturing uses. These properties meet rigorous permitting and certification criteria to ease the development process and promote efficient timelines for customers. More information on the CSX Select Site program is available at www.csxselectsite.com. CSX also recently launched a new online platform to support industrial development across its network, www.csxindustrialdevelopment.com. . The site allows potential and current customers to search by specific facility needs, and connects customers with CSX's Select Site program and proprietary Site Design services.  (CSX - posted 1/05)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: Today, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 27, 2014, with 252,100 total carloads, up 9.2 percent compared with the same week in 2013. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 181,238 units, up 5.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 433,338 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, led by motor vehicles and parts with 11,738 carloads, up 41.6 percent; nonmetallic minerals with 24,182 carloads, up 26.3 percent; and coal with 102,804 carloads, up 9.9 percent. The lone commodity group that posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2013 was forest products with 9,598 carloads, down 2.5 percent. For the full 52 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 15,176,484 carloads, up 3.9 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,496,822 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the 52 weeks of 2014 was 28,673,306 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 70,870 carloads for the week, up 18.7 percent, and 43,646 intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the 52 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,196,771 carloads, up 2.6 percent from the same point last year, and 2,970,039 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 11,955 carloads for the week, up 23.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 7,534 intermodal units, up 30.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the 52 weeks of 2014 was 817,788 carloads, up 3.3 percent from the same point last year, and 553,938 intermodal units, up 6 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the 52 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 20,191,043 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 17,020,799 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 12/31)

AMTRAK CRESCENT TRAIN TEMPORARILY CANCELLED BETWEEN ATLANTA AND NEW ORLEANS: On the dates listed below, Crescent Trains 19 and 20, which normally operate between New York and New Orleans, will not operate between Atlanta and New Orleans, due to track work being performed by Norfolk Southern Railway. Alternate transportation will not be provided between Atlanta and New Orleans. Monday through Thursday
  • January 5 through January 8
  • January 12 through January 15
  • January 19 through January 22
  • January 26 through January 29
  • February 2 through February 5
  • February 9 through February 12
  • Southbound Train 19: New York to Atlanta Only On the dates shown above, Train 19 will terminate in Atlanta. Service will not be provided between Atlanta, Anniston, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Meridian, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Picayune, Slidell and New Orleans. Northbound Train 20: Atlanta to New York Only
  • On the dates shown above, Train 2 will originate in Atlanta. Service will not be provided at New Orleans, Slidell, Picayune, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Meridian, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston and Atlanta. Friday, Saturday and Sunday Service Operates Normally
  • On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during this period, Trains 19 and 20 will serve all stations along the route, but may encounter delays due to speed restrictions and freight train interference.
(Amtrak - posted 12/30)

CASS SCENIC RAILROAD TRANSFER TO THE STATE RAILROAD AUTHORITY: The West Virginia's Division of Natural Resources had announced in October that it would transfer responsibility for Cass Scenic Railroad's operations to the West Virginia's State Railroad Authority. Already, the authority owns the railroad tracks and rights-of-way that both the West Virginia Central Railroad and South Branch Valley Railroad operate over. The transfer of the Cass Scenic Railroad to the State Railraod Authority is expected to be consumated on January 1, 2015. It is expected that the Cass's rail fare will increase, but within reason. The Division of Natural Resources will continue to operate Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, including lodging in former lumber company houses. The park has 100,000 annual visitors. The division says visitors to the park and to Cass Scenic Railroad will see no change in the operation of either the park or the railroad. Plans are to eventually operate tourist trains between Cass and Elkins. (The Charleston Gazette, Alex Mayes - posted 12/29)

VIA RAIL CANADA SETS FOOR IN CHINA: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) has signed a partnership with Hainan Airlines, the first to be concluded with a company based in China. As well, for the first time, this partnership will allow an airline company to sell VIA Rail tickets. Hainan Airlines’ ticket offices and other travel agencies will be able to combine air and rail segments and issue a single electronic ticket with boarding passes for both the flight and train segments. Hainan Airlines passengers from China who are planning train travel in Canada will benefit from the convenience of booking all legs of their journey at once. And vice-versa for VIA Rail passengers who plan to travel to Toronto before flying on to China! “We are excited about our first partnership with a Chinese airline and our very first partnership of this kind, offering a combined air-rail ticket,”declared Martin R. Landry, Chief Commercial Officer at VIA Rail. “China is the biggest-spending travel market in the world, and Chinese tourism to Canada has been growing over the past few years. Canadians continue to show great interest in visiting China as well, so this collaboration is very exciting.” According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, visits from China increased 21% in 2010, 22.4% in 2011 and 15.5% in 2012. “We are pleased to have a partnership with VIA Rail Canada. Based on our concept of “Care More”, this cooperation will facilitate our passengers’ trips to Canada for both flight and train segments,” said Jack Li, General Manager of International Marketing Division at Hainan Airlines. Hainan Airlines flies more than 600 different routes, with domestic and international flights to some 90 destinations throughout China and elsewhere in Asia, as well as in Europe, America, Oceania and Africa. In Canada, the company offers 10 flights weekly to and from Toronto. Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth-largest air carrier, flew 23.3 million passengers to their destinations in 2012. Hainan Airlines was recognized with a 5-star airline rating for the quality of their product and services by Skytrax in 2013. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 12/26)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: Today, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 20, 2014, with 307,598 total carloads, up 6 percent compared with the same week in 2013. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 272,961 units, up 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 580,559 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, led by grain with 25,290 carloads, up 19.9 percent; and, nonmetallic minerals with 34,616 carloads, up 18.6 percent. Commodities that posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2013 were led by farm products, excluding grain and food, with 16,342 carloads, down 8.5 percent For the first 51 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,924,384 carloads, up 3.8 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,315,584 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 51 weeks of 2014 was 28,239,968 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 85,744 carloads for the week, up 15.6 percent, and 61,340 intermodal units, up 21.2 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 51 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,125,901 carloads, up 2.3 percent from the same point last year, and 2,926,393 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 16,028 carloads for the week, up 2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,950 intermodal units, up 15 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 51 weeks of 2014 was 805,833 carloads, up 3 percent from the same point last year, and 546,404 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 51 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 19,856,118 carloads, up 3.5 percent compared with the same point last year, and 16,788,381 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 12/24)

AMTRAK PROMOTES RAIL SAFETY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS: In preparation for the Amtrak Vermonter service that is being rerouted through the Knowledge Corridor starting Dec. 29, Amtrak has been actively reaching out to local authorities and meeting with community groups and schools in an effort to raise public visibility on rail safety awareness. The Vermonter will travel on a new route through western Massachusetts, providing passenger rail service to Greenfield, Northampton and eventually Holyoke, Mass. “This reroute brings Amtrak service to new communities and with it the opportunity to inform, educate and change behavior about rail safety,” said Michael Logue, Amtrak Chief Safety Officer. “Our goal is to make sure everyone realizes that when you SEE TRACKS, THINK TRAIN. If you are on or near the tracks outside of an approved grade-crossing or station, you are likely in a trespassing situation and may even be breaking the law.” Amtrak has a team of three community resource officers assigned to raising rail safety awareness in the Knowledge Corridor. The teams have met with local police departments, community groups and schools and will continue to spread the safety message well into the new year. The team has given more than 100 presentations to 50 schools in the area, warning them to stay away from the tracks and right-of-way, while making sure they understand the meaning of railroad crossing signs and the stopping distances of trains. Train speed is set by Pan Am Southern Railway which owns and maintains the tracks. “As a former locomotive engineer, there is nothing more chilling than seeing trespassers on or around the tracks or watching a vehicle trying to beat a train across the tracks at a highway rail grade crossing knowing the train may not be able to stop in enough time to avoid a collision,” Logue stressed. Community resource officers have also worked with various schools to send rail safety messages to the parents of students using district wide letters, automated phone calls and text messages, posts on district websites and school webpages, as well as including information in school newsletters. The team is working with local driver’s education classes to include a rail safety component as part of their training curriculum. The Amtrak Police Department has also been conducting positive enforcement grade crossing awareness events, where officers pass out literature at rail grade crossings educating motorists to approach with care, prepare to stop, look both ways and listen, and not to enter a crossing unless you can get completely through. Outreach efforts utilize material and rail safety information provided by Operation Lifesaver, a national non-profit organization dedicated to reducing railroad-related deaths and injuries. The restoration of train service to the Knowledge Corridor is a project of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Passengers may book travel for this service via Amtrak.com, mobile apps or by calling 800-USA-RAIL. (Amtrak - posted 12/23)

RAILROADER OF THE YEAR: E. Hunter Harrison, Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Pacific (CP), has been named 2015 Railroader of the Year by railroad industry trade journal Railway Age. "Hunter Harrison, regarded as one of the best all-time operating executives in railroading, came out of retirement to lead a remarkable turnaround at CP, which up to that point had been lagging well behind its six North American Class I contemporaries in performance," said Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono. "Under his highly disciplined, focused leadership, CP has produced record revenues and earnings, a record-low operating ratio, and the stock price has more than tripled. The railroad, with aggressive long-term growth prospects, has become one of Wall Street's most favored investments in the rail sector." "I am honored and humbled by the award as it is a reflection of the remarkable team at CP and the transformation we have undergone," said Mr. Harrison. "The railroaders of CP are the reason for our success and, while our focus on growth and cost control continues, it's important to pause and recognize that this award is as much theirs as it is mine." Hunter Harrison is Railway Age's 52nd Railroader of the Year and the second CP recipient (preceded by Robert J. Ritchie in 2004). This is the second time he has been so-honored; the first time was in 2002, when he was chief operating officer of the then-recently combined Canadian National/Illinois Central system. Harrison joins rail industry icons Stuart T. Saunders, L. Stanley Crane and David R. Goode as a two-time recipient. He will be honored on March 17, 2015, at Chicago's Union League Club. Railway Age will tell the story of Hunter Harrison and the organization he leads at Canadian Pacific with a cover story in the magazine's January 2015 issue, which will also be available online at www.railwayage.com . with video highlights, and in the magazine's January 2015 digital edition. Modern Railroads magazine founded the Railroader of the Year award, one of the most prestigious in the railroad industry, in 1964 as the "Man of the Year." Railway Age acquired Modern Railroads in 1991 and has presented the award annually since then. (Railway Age, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/22)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN BECOMES MEMBER OF THE CAMPBELL INSTITUTE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH, AND SAFETY LEADERSHIP: In recognition of its environmental, health, and safety (EHS) leadership, Norfolk Southern has been accepted for membership in the Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council. The Campbell Institute recognizes world-class performers in EHS management. Members include some of America’s best-known companies, such as APM Terminals, Chevron, Cummins, Dow, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Georgia-Pacific, United Parcel Service, United Technologies, U.S. Steel, and Whirlpool. “We are proud to welcome Norfolk Southern to the Campbell Institute,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president & CEO of the National Safety Council. “For two centuries, Norfolk Southern has played a role in building and supplying our country. At the Campbell Institute, they continue the thoroughbred tradition of continuous improvement by joining with other world-class companies to share experience, knowledge, and best practices related to environmental, health, and safety excellence.” Mark Manion, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NS, noted that, “Membership offers an invaluable opportunity to share best practices, benchmark, and access EHS research. On behalf of everyone at Norfolk Southern, we are honored by, and grateful for, the institute’s consideration.” Some of the elements that characterize NS’ EHS approach include:
  • 124 employee-led local Safety and Service committees
  • annual Safety & Service Expo and Awards celebration
  • leadership for Operation Lifesaver and TRANSCAER
  • training for local community emergency responders
  • environmental audits and solid regulatory compliance
  • partnerships with safety leaders such as DuPont and Aubrey Daniels International.
  • fuel efficiency and fuel-saving technology
  • rail service corridors that create jobs while reducing environmental impact
  • “Trees and Trains” program
  • conservation easement to protect forest land
  • annual Railroad Sustainability Symposium
“Where the Campbell Institute and EHS are concerned, we want to learn more, do more, and share more than ever before,” Manion said. “When your company has been around 180 years, as has ours, you understand that continuous improvement is the only way to go.” The Campbell Institute is based on the premise that EHS is at the core of business vitality. The National Safety Council is the nation’s leading organization working through research, education, and advocacy to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes, in communities, and on the roads. (NS - posted 12/19)

CN REACHES TENATIVE LABOR AGREEMENT WITH TEAMSTERS UNION REPRESENTING LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS AND CONDUCTORS ON NORTHERN QUEBEC INTERNAL SHORTLINE: CN announced today that it has negotiated a tentative labour agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union that represents locomotive engineers and conductors working on the company's Northern Quebec Internal Short line. The four-year agreement would provide wage increases and benefit improvements to 93 employees. Details of the agreement are being withheld pending ratification by the affected TCRC members. The union is expected to announce the results of the ratification vote by the end of February 2015. (CN - posted 12/19)

SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY STATION SHELL AT 86TH STREET COMPLETE: Construction of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) largest expansion of the transit system in decades, the Second Avenue Subway, has reached another critical milestone with the on-time completion of the 86th Street Station cavern. Work began in August of 2011 and was completed earlier this week. This project, valued at $332 million, included extensive excavation for the bedrock cavern that will house the station as well as the shafts and adits for the entrances and cross passageways. In addition, installation of the cavern's massive concrete structural lining was part of the effort. Utility work was also required for this assignment. Two buildings within the 1,000-foot-long footprint of the work area had to be underpinned in order to support the structures throughout construction activities. "We have now completed 76% of the work needed to build Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway. This project will benefit residents of the Upper East Side in so many ways,” said Michael Horodniceanu, President, MTA Capital Construction. Although the heavy civil portion of the station is now complete, work continues on the HVAC, elevator and escalator installations, and other architectural finishes that will be required to complete the station structure and the ancillary structures. The $4.45 billion project to build Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway will feature new stations at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street and a station renovation with a new 3rd Avenue entrance at 63rd Street. Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway will serve more than 200,000 people per day, reducing overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue Line and restoring a transit link to a neighborhood that lost the Second Avenue Elevated in 1940. When Phase I is complete, it will decrease crowding on the adjacent Lexington Avenue Line by as much as 13%, or 23,500 fewer riders on an average weekday. It will also reduce travel times by up to 10 minutes or more (up to 27%) for those on the far east side or those traveling from the east side to west midtown. (MTA - posted 12/18)

NEW CAF BAGGAGE CARS EN ROUTE TO AMTRAK: The Amtrak program to modernize its long-distance train equipment will advance to a key milestone today (Dec. 17), when 18 new baggage cars depart the CAF USA Elmira, N.Y. facility and travel to Amtrak’s Hialeah maintenance facility for final inspections before acceptance.Two locomotives and eighteen baggage cars will depart the CAF USA Elmira, N.Y., facility on Wednesday, traveling to Albany, N.Y., at about 8:30 p.m. that evening.  From there, the special train will travel through New York to Philadelphia, arriving around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18.  In Philadelphia, two additional baggage cars that have been testing on the Northeast Corridor will be added to the consist.  Around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, 20 of the new baggage cars will depart Philadelphia following about 2 hours behind Silver Service Train 97 through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.  The special train is expected to arrive in Hialeah, Fla., around 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 19.   After arriving in Hialeah, the baggage cars will go through a final round of inspections before being accepted.  The baggage cars are expected to enter revenue service in early 2015 and subject to be used on any of Amtrak’s 15 long-distance routes.  The baggage cars are part of a larger order for 130 single-level long-distance passenger cars, including diner, sleeper and bag-dorm cars.  All four car types will modernize the Amtrak fleet, improve reliability and maintenance, upgrade passenger amenities, travel at speeds up to 125 mph and replace units built as far back as the 1940 and 1950s.   (Amtrak Blog via Andy Kirk - posted 12/17)

CMQ COMPLETES $10M INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND RECEIVES GREEN LIGHT FROM TRANSPORT CANADA: Following months of work, a multitude of inspections, and an additional $10M investment, Central Maine & Quebec Railway got the go-ahead it had been looking for from Transport Canada. On December 5, CMQ received the official revocation of a series of notices and orders, confirming immediate threats no longer exist on CMQ railway. The notices and orders were transferred to CMQ following its purchase of bankrupt Montreal Maine & Atlantic. CMQ has spent the last four months installing more than 32,000 new crossties, 110,000 linear feet of rail, and 25,000 tons of ballast, upgrading bridges, culverts, and crossings, completing surfacing work, and removing more than 300 in-track rail defects from its main tracks and sidings. The Sherbrooke subdivision is the 125 mile backbone of CMQ's Quebec rail line and stretches from Lac-Mégantic to Brookport just east of Farnham.  "We had to make this investment. The line was covered in snow last February and March when we were finally able to begin our diligence, but we made a commitment to Lac-Mégantic Mayor Laroche and citizens, as well as many regulators, that we would address the years of neglect," said CMQ President and CEO John Giles. Giles further commented, "It was an extremely tough undertaking. We had industry peers questioning the amount of work that we signed up for with such a short construction season. I knew we were in good hands with Ron Marshall, General Manager of Engineering, leading this project with his team."  Ron Marshall is the 30 year industry veteran handpicked by Giles to lead CMQ's engineering team. When asked about the scope of project, Marshall commented, "This is one of the most challenging construction seasons I've ever been involved in. But I knew from my experience working with this team at RailAmerica that I would have the support I needed. This investment demonstrates our team's commitment to operating the railway in a safe and responsible fashion." CMQ considers Phase I of its transformation now largely completed. "Not to say we don't have a lot more track and infrastructure work to do next spring, but we have already started Phase II, which focuses on growth, customers, and interline partners," added Giles. CMQ continues to strengthen its sales and marketing team, with a new commercial associate joining the company early in January. We have a lot to do telling the story of the new CMQ Railway and reconnecting with our existing and new shippers. Our sales and marketing associate will focus on Quebec and Vermont," concluded Giles.   (CMQ via Randy Kotuby - posted 12/17)

CSX CREATES OPPORTUNITIES FOR INCREASED CROSS-BORDER TRADE WITH NEW INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN MONTREAL: CSX announced the opening of a new intermodal terminal in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield near Montreal, Quebec. The facility expands CSX's intermodal network capacity and offers Canadian customers domestic and international service that connects with the railroad's 21,000 mile network in the United States. "CSX continues to invest in our intermodal business as a key growth driver and we look for long-term opportunities, such as increased north-south trade access outlined by the North American Free Trade Agreement," says Clarence Gooden, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at CSX. "Opening a terminal near Montreal creates an opportunity to build relationships with new customers on our network, expand access to new markets, and improve the efficiency of the North American supply chain." The $100 million terminal, which spans 89 acres, includes cutting-edge equipment to capitalize on the efficiency and environmental benefits of intermodal rail transportation, such as three state-of-the-art rubber-tire gantry cranes – the first of their kind at an Eastern Canadian intermodal facility. Construction also incorporated environmentally sustainable innovations in the areas of noise abatement and protection of downstream waterways. With capacity for 100,000 loads, the Valleyfield terminal is an important addition to the railroad's unique intermodal network, which offers both point-to-point corridor service and a hub-and-spoke model that allows it to reach into small- and medium-sized markets, to capitalize on the growing demand for intermodal transport. Trains serving the new terminal will also connect through the Northwest Ohio intermodal hub, offering efficient access to markets across the United States and Canada. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/16)

PASSENGER COMMUNICATION IMPROVEMENT PROJECT COMPLETED AT WASHINGTON UNION STATION Amtrak, in partnership with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), has completed a project to expand and improve the public address and electronic passenger information display systems (PIDS) at Washington Union Station. The $2.2 million project was primarily funded under the MTA-Amtrak Joint Benefit Program. For the public address system, more than 290 speakers and 44 LED signs were installed on the station platforms used by Amtrak, MARC and VRE trains. The PIDS are ADA-compliant, installed in the station and on the platforms, and communicate real-time train status, boarding and station announcements, and safety and security messages in both audible and visual formats. Other passenger benefit improvements in recent years at Washington Union Station include installation of the train information board in the Main Hall which was jointly funded by Amtrak and MTA. Also, Amtrak installed ADA-compliant audio inductive loop technology at designated ticket counters and at the customer service desk to enhance the travel experience for passengers with hearing loss and to improve communication with Amtrak customer service representatives. Washington Union Station is a bustling retail and multi-modal facility that serves more than 32 million visitors annually, and station partners continue to focus on improving the passenger experience. The Washington Union Station Master Plan sets forth a new vision to revitalize the historic station through a multi-phased approach, to gain increased passenger and Amtrak rail capacity, add new station amenities and transit-oriented mixed-use development above the tracks. While work continues to advance the plan, early action items focus on improving the rail passenger waiting areas and expanding the existing concourse to improve pedestrian traffic flow. (Amtrak - posted 12/16)

NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF RESTORATION OF HISTORIC RED BANK STATION: NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna and other officials today marked the completion of a three-year, $2.5 million project to stabilize and restore the historic Red Bank Station. Built in 1876, Red Bank Station was added to the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places in 1976. The project was aimed at stabilizing the facility and restoring its original aesthetics. “Red Bank Station is a very important facility in NJ TRANSIT’s transportation network but is more than just a rail station to NJ TRANSIT,” stated Executive Director Hakim. “It is an integral part of the fabric of the Red Bank community. It was important for us to return this historic site to its original condition so it may continue to be a landmark for generations to come. Together with Red Bank, we at NJ TRANSIT look forward to welcoming both loyal and new customers at this restored and inviting station.” The overall goal of this project was to sufficiently protect this landmark station from the natural elements while keeping true to the historic identity of the station and the community it serves. As part of the project, efforts were undertaken to repair roof soffits, strengthen the wood framing of the structure, replace the shingles with historically accurate slate roof, repoint the brick foundation wall and the brick chimney, recreate a brick “crown" atop the chimney and install new windows and roof dormers. The restoration also included the reconstruction of the “Yankee” gutters, installation of new downspouts and replacement of historic windows, shutters and gingerbread trim – all with historically correct material. The exterior paint of the station matches its original 1876 color scheme. “The residents of Red Bank and its visitors are grateful to NJ TRANSIT for the extraordinary renovation and restoration of the Red Bank Train Station,” stated Mayor Menna. “It has been a focus of the community for generations and our essential link to the rest of the state and beyond. The restoration is important because it identified NJ TRANSIT's commitment to our shared historical legacy and preserves it for future generations. It also now is a focus for the rejuvenation of the Train Station district as an anchor in the midst of new transit based and exciting housing opportunities for new generations of Red Bankers. It recommits our town to a strong commercial and transit based future as we move forward with new complimentary projects.” Red Bank Station is located in Red Bank, New Jersey and serves NJ TRANSIT's North Jersey Coast Rail Line as well as local bus service. The Red Bank Station averages 1187 weekday passenger boardings (FY2014), with 67 daily trains (34 in-bound, 33 out-bound) utilizing the station. Additionally, Red Bank station serves nearly 700 weekday bus customers traveling to and from destinations including Freehold, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Oceanport, Colts Neck, Rumson and Highlands. (NJ Transit - posted 12/16)

AMTRAK VERMONTER SERVICE TO THE KNOWLEDGE CORRIDOR STARTS DECEMBER 29: Amtrak announced today that Amtrak Vermonter service to the Knowledge Corridor will start on December 29, 2014, with stops in Greenfield and Northampton, Mass. Tickets are now available for purchase. The Vermonter will also add a stop in Holyoke, Mass., later in 2015 when station work is complete. The added stops due to the reroute will replace service provided to the Amherst station, which will end on December 28. The restoration of train service to the Knowledge Corridor has been a goal of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Governor Patrick’s Administration, who have been leading the effort to improve the Pan Am Southern tracks and shorten trip times within the Commonwealth. Funding for the project was provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In preparation for the new service, Amtrak has been working with local authorities to raise rail safety awareness by meeting with community groups and schools. A variety of rail safety education tools are available from Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety education organization. The Vermonter operates daily between Washington and St. Albans, Vt., with service to Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Conn., Springfield, Mass. and Essex Junction, Vt., and other intermediate stops. In Fiscal Year 2014, ridership on this route increased 6.6 percent, providing service to more than 89,000 passengers.Passengers may book travel via Amtrak.com, mobile apps, or by calling 800-USA-RAIL for any station along the route between Washington and St. Albans, Vt., using the attached(Amtrak - posted 12/14)

FINAL CSX OYSTER EXPRESS TRAIN DELIVERED TO CHESAPEAKE BAY: A unique, year-long partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and CSX recently came to a close with delivery of the 22nd and final freight train filled with fossilized oyster shells from Florida to the Chesapeake Bay. Over the past 12 months, CSX has transported about 100,000 tons of the fossilized shell to help rebuild habitat in two Maryland oyster sanctuaries. Trains carrying the shells were delivered to CSX's Curtis Bay ore pier once every 10 to 14 days, where the shells were transferred to barges for the trip to the sanctuaries on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Once in place, the shells provide a habitat where young oysters can thrive. Viable oyster reefs and the ecosystem they support provide natural filtering capabilities to help improve the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, filtering silt, sediment and nitrates from the water.  "Using the best available science, DNR  and our many partners are working together to restore oyster habitats in Maryland," said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. "We are already seeing remarkable results in Harris Creek. Once degraded reefs are now teeming with life as a direct result of our collaborative efforts, and we couldn't be more excited about the progress." With the help of partners, the State has planted more than a billion oysters in the Harris Creek Sanctuary since 2011. Since restoration efforts began, areas with less than one oyster per square meter now have upwards of 25 oysters per square meter.   "The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's partnership with CSX has provided an amazing opportunity to help accelerate oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and chief executive officer, NFWF. "Connecting CSX's transportation services with the great work of the State of Maryland and its partners, including the Oyster Recovery Partnership, is a great example of how public and private interests can work together to take a significant step toward a healthy Bay ecosystem." "Oysters have been central to the Maryland way of life for centuries, and restoring the Chesapeake Bay's oyster beds is critical for this region's environment and the economy," said Michael Ward, president, chairman and chief executive officer of CSX. "CSX is proud to be a part of this unique public-private partnership in helping to restore one of our nation's greatest natural assets." With a lack of natural, affordable shell available to support restoration of the two sanctuaries, DNR and its partners found the quality and quantity of the next best thing - fossilized shell - for purchase from Gulf Coast Aggregates near Carrabelle, Florida. To address the challenge and expense of moving the large volume of material, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation negotiated an agreement with CSX to transport the shell at cost. Maryland purchased the materials at a cost of approximately $6.3 million. CSX provided an in-kind investment valued at approximately $2.4 million in the form of reduced-cost transportation. The Maryland Environmental Service is coordinating the effort on behalf of the state. Production of young oysters and their placement on the new reefs will be conducted by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. The sanctuaries were chosen for the initial large-scale restoration project because of their water quality, salinity levels, shape, location, and protected sanctuary status all point to a high likelihood of success. More than 150,000 cubic yards of granite from a Maryland quarry also will be used as substrate in the sanctuaries. Scientists believe the project ultimately can serve as a blueprint to expand large-scale oyster restoration efforts to other Bay tributaries. Maryland and its partners continue to make progress under all 10 points of the Governor's Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, adopted in 2010. In 2013, Governor O'Malley announced another oyster restoration landmark, as the state and its partners produced and planted 1.25 billion oysters that year. The University of Maryland Horn Point Hatchery was responsible for the record - the first time any oyster hatchery in the country has passed the 1-billion mark for Eastern oyster spat production. (CSX - posted 12/14)

MTA SEEKS FEDERAL FUNDS TO INCREASE CAPACITY IN THE CANARSIE L SUBWAY LINE: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is seeking federal funding toward approximately $300 million in infrastructure improvements for the Canarsie L Subway Line, which runs from Manhattan to the Canarsie section of Brooklyn through neighborhoods that have seen the largest increases in population in New York City. More than 300,000 customers use the Canarsie L Subway Line on an average weekday, an increase of 98% since 1998. Average weekday entries at the Bedford Av station, the busiest station on the line, have increased by 250%. The line has experienced a 27% increase in ridership since New York City Transit installed Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC) in 2007, a new signal system that increased NYCT’s ability to run more trains each hour. Proposed infrastructure improvements include adding three power substations to allow for two additional trains per hour, a 10% increase in service, which could carry 2,200 additional customers per hour. Other elements include installing elevators at the 1 Av and Bedford Av stations to make them fully compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and adding new street-level entrances at both stations to make it easier for customers to enter or exit the stations and alleviate platform crowding that can delay trains. “More than 49,000 customers use the 1 Av and Bedford Av stations on an average weekday, and the stations experience overcrowding during peak periods. The area around the Bedford Av station has been rezoned to allow for almost 10,000 new residential units, and ridership is expected to continue to rise,” said New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have to increase capacity on the Canarsie Line and improve customer flow at stations to meet this increasing demand, and securing federal funding for a project of this magnitude will go a long way toward achieving that goal.” At Bedford Av, plans call for two new 7-foot-wide street stairs on the east side of Bedford Avenue. This would be a 138% increase over current street stair capacity at the station, which currently consists of two 5-foot-wide street stairs. Platform stair capacity at Bedford Av would increase by 38%, with two 7-foot, 6-inch stairs replacing an existing single 12-foot-wide stair). At the 1 Av station, new fare control areas at Avenue A would double capacity – a 100% increase – up to the street from each platform. The Avenue A entrances would serve 60% of the station’s ridership, thus eliminating a 500-foot walk (from First Avenue to Avenue A) for 31,000 weekday customers entering or exiting the station. To advance the improvements, the MTA will be requesting funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s new Core Capacity grant program. Work on the Canarsie improvements is expected to take several years, with construction on the new station entrance at 1 Av to start first. Work on the infrastructure improvements will be coordinated with planned repairs to the Canarsie Tube, which was flooded during Superstorm Sandy. Those repairs include work on tracks, signals, tunnel lighting, cables, pump facilities, duct banks and other equipment required for reliable service through the tube. A schedule for Sandy-related repairs to the tunnel, which connects Manhattan and Brooklyn under the East River, will be determined at a later time. Partial funding for the Canarsie improvements has been included in the MTA’s proposed 2015-2019 Capital Program. Fifty million dollars for the development of the project was previously included in the 2010-2014 Capital Program. The MTA’s request for Core Capacity funds is limited to power and vertical circulation improvements that will increase capacity on the L Subway line. The application for federal funds is expected to take several years, and additional reviews will be needed from the Federal Transit Administration before a funding recommendation can be made. The L Subway line first opened as a segment on June 30, 1924, on a track vestige from a former steam-powered railway built in the 1860s. Its final segment opened on May 30, 1931, and the entire two-track line spans 10.3 route miles between Eighth Avenue in Manhattan and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn. (MTA - posted 12/12)

PATH’S WORLD TRADE CENTER AND EXCHANGE PLACE STATIONS WILL REOPEN ON WEEKENDS STARTING DECEMBER 20 AND 21, AS INITIAL PHASE OF TUNNEL WORK ENDS FOR POST-SANDY REMEDIATION AND POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL INITIATIVE: PATH weekend service on the Newark-to-World Trade Center line will resume with the reopening of the World Trade Center and Exchange Place stations starting the weekend of December 20-21, following nearly a year’s worth of intensive clean-up and upgraded signal work in two tunnels below the Hudson River. Since February, approximately 280,000 square feet of metal tunnel surfaces and equipment were power washed of salt residue left by Superstorm Sandy floodwaters and corroded metal replaced – the entire area along the line impacted by salt. Additionally, significant progress occurred toward installing new computerized signals for increased operational safety with the placement of thousands of feet of new cables. “We sincerely thank our customers for their patience and understanding during these weekend service outages and are happy to have the service back for the holidays,’’ said PATH Director and General Manager Stephen Kingsberry. “These repairs and upgrades, while tremendously inconvenient for our riders, are absolutely vital to ensuring a state-of-good repair, undoing the corrosive damage from Sandy and making critical safety upgrades to the PATH system.” Kingsberry also praised the dedication and sacrifice of PATH employees and consultants, who put in long hours since last winter helping to rebuild the rail system that serves both New Jersey and New York. Billybey Ferry Company LLC, which operated an alternate ferry service during the World Trade Center-to-Newark line outages, will continue the weekend service after the stations reopen and assess ridership later in 2015 to determine if the service is sustainable. BillyBey’s current ferry fare of $2.50 was subsidized by PATH and expected Federal Transit Administration Sandy recovery grants, and the company will set a new fare. Billybey operates under the NY Waterway banner and further information on schedules and pricing is available via the website, www.nywaterway.com. Sandy’s floodwaters left behind an insidious salt residue that rusts metal cables, equipment and the shell of the tunnel itself. The corrosive salt required a painstaking, labor-intensive cleaning process, beyond what occurred in the initial aftermath of the storm to return train service as quickly as possible. The Port Authority – like other mass-transit systems around the nation – also is working to meet a federal mandate to install a Positive Train Control (PTC) system to help reduce human or mechanical errors and provide added safety on the rails. PTC is an enhanced signal technology that automatically applies a train’s brakes if an accident appears likely, potentially saving injuries and lives. Floodwaters in Sandy’s aftermath destroyed much of the substantial prior work PATH had completed on the PTC system, requiring replacement of those components and significantly setting back the agency’s schedule and budget. The Federal Transit Administration helped the Port Authority recoup those financial losses. The PTC improvements are part of an overall $580 million, comprehensive signals modernization program that ultimately will improve service for PATH riders by allowing trains to run more frequently while maintaining or improving safety. The 2014 weekend closures allowed PATH to continue with the installation of cable, fiber, compressed air lines and conduit material for signal and communications equipment, which will help meet the PTC requirements. The work also included installation of communication antennas and signal junction boxes. Since Sandy, infrastructure improvements have been vast, with a myriad of utilities in the tunnel replaced, including power and communications equipment, rail, third rail and track. Nearly two miles of corroded rail fasteners were replaced to better secure the track bed. Nevertheless, work remains and is expected to be done during additional outages on weekends in the second half of 2015 on both the Journal Square-33rd Street via Hoboken line, along with completion of remaining work on the Newark-to-World Trade Center line. Following a cable fire earlier this year that created outages, the Journal Square-33rd Street via Hoboken line work will assess the condition of stonework that comprises electrical cable ducts alongside the tracks. Dates and details of these outages will be provided to the public once planning work in finalized. One line will remain operational at all times on the weekends and alternative service options are under consideration to reduce the inconvenience to riders. (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - posted 12/11)

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