` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
August 28, 2015:

CSX PREPARES FOR TROPICAL STORM ERIKA: CSX Transportation is taking precautions to protect employees, rail traffic and infrastructure as Tropical Storm Erika is currently forecast by multiple weather agencies to move toward Florida, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the southeast Atlantic coastline of the U.S.  The storm is not expected to have a significant impact on CSX operations at this time, but its path and intensity are being closely monitored.  (CSX - posted 8/28)

AMTRAK GUEST REWARDS PROGRAM IMPROVEMENTS TO DEBUT IN JANUARY 2016 : Amtrak passengers will have more options to earn and redeem points under an extensively improved, simplified Amtrak Guest Rewards program that launches in January 2016. “This program takes Amtrak Guest Rewards to the next level with improved earnings potential and expanded, simplified redemptions," said Matt Hardison, Amtrak’s executive vice president of marketing and sales. “We are confident this program combines what passengers want most – the ability to grow points earnings rapidly with the freedom to use those points in the way that best fits their individual travel needs.” Improvements in the updated Amtrak Guest Rewards program include:
  • No more blackout dates and Acela® time-of-day travel restrictions;
  • Bonus points for Acela® and Business class travel;
  • Points that never expire with any qualifying account activity within 36 months;
  • A simplified redemption structure for free Amtrak travel based on ticket price instead of zones or routes—as low as 800 points per trip;
  • Redemption opportunities for multi-ride tickets and monthly passes;
  • Ability to book, modify, and cancel reward tickets themselves via Amtrak self-service channels;
  • A “cash-plus-points” option that provides more flexibility.
Amtrak Guest Rewards has also launched a helpful points estimator tool, which shows customers exactly how many points they will earn for their travel or how many points they will need to redeem for an Amtrak trip. (Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/28)

CANADA'S RAILWAY LAUNCH FRENCH VERSION OF THEIR POPULAR ASKRAILTM APP: Canada's railways unveiled a French version of their AskRailTM app today, now providing emergency responders with real-time information about a train's railcar contents in both official languages. Through AskRail's mobile interface, developed by the Association of American Railroads and its members, including CN and CP, emergency responders across North America are able to see the contents of a railcar through a simple search, view railway emergency contact information, and reference resources to support incident response. "We know that access to this information can help emergency responders at the outset of an incident to make informed decisions about how to respond to a rail emergency," said Michael Bourque, President and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada. "Providing this application in both official languages is just one more way that Canada's railways are working with communities across the country on emergency response training and preparation." Since the English version of the app was launched back in May, emergency responders ? the only parties eligible to use the mobile application ? have signed up to use AskRail in 255 Canadian municipalities. In total, more than 1,700 emergency responders are using the app across North America. Canada's railways must have comprehensive Emergency Response Plans in place for all dangerous goods, to ensure an immediate and comprehensive response in the event of an incident. AskRail would supplement railway procedures to promptly provide first responders with information about the materials carried on the affected train (information that is carried in the locomotive cab) in the event of an emergency. Emergency responders wishing to access English or French versions of the AskRail app should contact CN at askrail@cn.ca or CP at community_connect@cpr.ca, depending on which railway is operating in their community. More information about the AskRail app is available at www.askrail.us (AAR - posted 8/28)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCE DOUBLE TRACK MILESTONE TOWARD RONKONKOMA BRANCH SERVICE: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that MTA Long Island Rail Road has reached an important milestone to improve service on the busy Ronkonkoma Branch. Workers began installing the first sections of rail on the $388 million Double Track Project, which will build a second track over an 18-mile stretch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma stations. "Today, we take action to help alleviate congestion on one of the Long Island Rail Road's busiest lines and improve the commute for the tens of thousands of Long Islanders who depend on it,” Governor Cuomo said. “After decades of talk, I'm proud to see the Double Track project become a reality." “The Double Track Project is the key to improving service reliability and on-time performance on one of the LIRR’s busiest branches by allowing us to increase service during off-peak and weekend periods. The MTA is investing billions of dollars in this and other LIRR infrastructure improvements and using an innovative design-build process that gets the job done faster. This commitment is sure to pay dividends by making Long Island more competitive and more convenient long into the future,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. Ridership on the LIRR’s Ronkonkoma Branch is over 48,000 each weekday and has doubled over the last 25 years, growing in popularity since the line was electrified in 1988. With just one track along most of the 18-mile route between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the LIRR can operate a limited number of trains and lacks operational flexibility in the event of a disruption. If one train becomes disabled, all other trains (east and west) have no way around the problem. Construction of an uninterrupted second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma has been part of the LIRR’s vision for decades. With design of the full project moving ahead, the first phase of construction got underway last year with workers clearing the path for four miles of new track between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip. The budget for the project design and this first section of track is $138 million, funded in the MTA’s 2010-2014 Capital Program. Phase 2 of the Double Track Project will extend the second track another 12.6 miles to Farmingdale, a goal the LIRR hopes to reach by 2019. The second phase’s $250 million cost is included in the MTA’s proposed 2015 – 2019 Capital Program. “The four-mile stretch between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip is the first leg of the Double Track Project that will ultimately bring half-hourly, off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch, improve service reliability and support economic growth by constructing a second track 18 miles to Farmingdale. When complete, east and westbound trains will operate simultaneously between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. This will mean better reverse peak service to help spur the growth of employment centers on Long Island,” said LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski. Nowakowski was joined this morning by local elected officials, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and State Sens. Phil Boyle and Thomas Croci, and Long Island business and labor leaders for the ceremonial placement of the first section of rail near the Pond Road railroad crossing in Ronkonkoma. Funding for the second phase of the Double Track Project is included in the MTA’s proposed 2015 - 2019 Capital Program. “I applaud Governor Cuomo and the Long Island Rail Road’s extensive and proactive efforts to add a second a track on the Ronkonkoma line. Not only will service be enhanced and more convenient for our residents, but this project is an important step toward realizing the county’s Innovation Zone vision, which will connect our world-class assets and downtowns together – such MacArthur Airport and the Ronkonkoma Hub – through transit-oriented development in order to build a better quality of life for our residents. In order to attract the best and brightest professionals, we must create an innovation economy and a world-class transportation hub. Double Track is an important step to achieve this goal,” Suffolk County Executive Bellone said. “Anytime we can increase reliability, productivity and efficiency for our commuting public it is a step in the right direction. Kudos to the MTA and LIRR for taking this innovative and economically savvy step to increase rail service in this, the busiest hub of the LIRR,” Senator Phil Boyle said. “This is a momentous occasion for Long Islanders and I am particularly appreciative the LIRR decided to hold this event at the Pond Road crossing because the community, Town of Islip and myself have been especially supportive of the LIRR elevating this crossing and we are pleased to hear that LIRR is considering this project as they begin an overall evaluation of all of their grade crossings. This project, as well as the Double Track Project, serves the interests of our residents well and we thank the LIRR for their support and hard work,” Senator Thomas Croci said. “Today, as the first section of the second, long-awaited track is laid down, we celebrate a great milestone for the Ronkonkoma Branch of the Long Island Rail Road,” said Assemblyman Michael Montesano. “This additional track has been desperately needed for many years in order to enhance service for all travelers, from Ronkonkoma to Farmingdale. I have proudly supported the Double Track Project since its early introduction and am thrilled to see it through its fruition.” Assemblyman Joseph Saladino said, "For the commuters of Long Island all upgrades and investments in our transportation system are extremely important. I appreciate the fact that the governor has recognized this and continues to help us push for the investments in our trains, railway stations and roads that will enhance the essential services Long Islanders deserve." Kevin Law, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Long Island Association, said, “The Long Island Association strongly supports the LIRR’s Double Track Project and applauds Governor Cuomo’s efforts to ensure that the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program is sufficiently funded to see the Double Track effort through to conclusion. Completing Double Track is crucial to the economic future of our region. Not only can we look forward to service improvements, but the second track is also key to the future development along the branch, including the construction of a new train station near Republic Airport in Farmingdale to serve the busy Route 110 business corridor and to spur interest in future transit oriented development there.” On any given day, between 50 and 75 construction workers are laboring on the Double Track Project. By the time the job is done, the LIRR estimates Double Track will have injected close to $100 million into the Long Island economy and created as many as 1,000 new jobs. Double Track is one of seven major LIRR construction projects subject to an innovative Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The unions pitched in by signing an agreement that will result in an estimated direct labor savings of over $6 million or about 11% of the total labor cost of these capital projects. In addition to reducing costs, the pact provides opportunities for minorities and women to enter the trade union apprentice program and includes non-discrimination provisions in union hiring hall and job placement practices. The LIRR selected the international design and engineering firms STV and AECOM to help plan and carry out the Double Track Project. AECOM and New York based-STV are leaders in the rail transportation industry. The contractors who have been preparing the new right of way for track installation and new retaining walls are Queens-based Skanska USA Civil, a leading civil engineering and infrastructure contractor, which teamed with Farmingdale-based Posillico, Inc. Posillico has served Long Island and the tri-state area since 1946 (MTA - posted 8/27)

765 TRIPS TO TUNKANNOCK VIADUCT HAVE BEEN CANCELLED: Trains Magazine's website Trains.com reports that the Nickel Plate 765 excurions between Scranton and Tunkhannock Viaduct, scheduled for September 12 and 13, have been cancelled. Trains.com noted that the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Chapter NRHS issued a statement calling out host railroad Canadian Pacific for imposing "insurmountable insurance obstacles" on the group and the trips. Trains.com noted that "The cancellation is because the closing date for the purchase of this line by NS got pushed back a few months. The L&WV Chapter had anticipated that these trains would run as part of Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam Program," Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society Operations Manager Rich Melvin says. "However, since the closing date for the sale of this line from CP to NS got moved back several months, the deal was not closed in time to do this. The chapter will be issuing refunds to all ticket holders." (Trains.com - posted 8/26)

SINGER MEGHAN LINSEY WILL BE THE CELEBRITY GUEST ON THE CSX SANTA TRAIN: Rising pop star and "The Voice" Season 8 runner-up Meghan Linsey will be the celebrity guest on the Santa Train when it makes its 73rd journey to bring gifts to Appalachian families on Saturday, Nov. 21.  She will accompany Santa and event sponsors CSX,  Dignity U Wear, Food City and the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce on the 110-mile trek. Fans can use the hashtag #santatrain15 to engage in the Santa Train conversation on social media. "I'm honored to be the celebrity guest on this year's Santa Train," Linsey said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to give back and be a part of something that has become a holiday tradition for many families, and I am looking forward to being a part of it."  2015 has been a big year for Linsey, who released her EP titled "Believer" in July. The six-song EP highlights her crossover from country music to pop and debuted at No. 6 on the iTunes pop chart.  "We are so glad to have Meghan Linsey join us on this year's Santa Train," said Tori Kaplan, assistant vice president, corporate social responsibility for CSX. "We are thankful for the support we receive each year from our celebrity guests. It's humbling to see artists add to the holiday cheer the Santa Train brings to the region." Prior to her appearance on "The Voice," Linsey was half of the country duo Steel Magnolia, which dominated top charts in 2009. Linsey has had three Top 5 songs on the iTunes all-genre chart, including "Change My Mind," which she performed as an original song on "The Voice" finale.  The Santa Train makes 14 stops in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee and delivers toys, food and winter clothing to hundreds of children and families along the way. (CSX - posted 8/26)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 22, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Aug. 22, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 567,943 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Aug. 22, 2015 were 288,971 carloads, down 3.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,972 containers and trailers, up 5 percent compared to 2014. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 16.4 percent to 10,204 carloads; farm products, up 7.1 percent to 16,670 carloads and motor vehicles and parts, up 4.8 percent to 18,077 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 15.1 percent to 22,970 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.1 percent to 14,420 carloads; and coal, down 6.4 percent to 107,273 carloads and. For the first 33 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,172,144 carloads, down 4.3 percent from the same point last year; and 8,766,756 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 33 weeks of 2015 was 17,938,900 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Aug. 22, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 380,676 carloads, down 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 354,498 intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 735,174 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 33 weeks of 2015 was 23,391,005 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 75,307 carloads for the week, down 4.7 percent, and 63,884 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 33 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,558,182 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,398 carloads for the week, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year, 11,642 intermodal units, down 0.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 33 weeks of 2015 was 893,923 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/26)

NJ TRANSIT TO RECEIVE NEXT AWARD OF FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF FUNDING: The Christie Administration announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will award NJ TRANSIT $71,419,023 in Sandy recovery funds to support important repair and resiliency projects. “With this funding, we will be making critical investments to protect against future weather events and ensure a more resilient commuter rail system for our residents,” said Governor Christie. This latest award of FTA funds will be used to support important recovery and resilience projects currently underway, including the elevation of key substations in Hoboken, Kearny, and Bay Head to reduce the impact of future storms and flooding. These substations provide electric power for the trains and other critical facilities, including Hoboken terminal. To date, the FTA has allocated NJ TRANSIT a total of $1.724 billion of Public Transportation Emergency Relief Funds in response to Superstorm Sandy. The FTA funds allocated to date have supported critical recovery and resilience projects including:
  • · Raritan River Drawbridge Replacement
  • · Hoboken Long Slip Flood Projection
  • · Train Storage And Service Restoration Project
  • · Train Control & Communication Resiliency Project
“The investments we are making in our Sandy recovery and restoration projects will pay dividends to our riders far into the future,” New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox said. NJ TRANSIT Executive Director, Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim said, “Each of these projects helps ensure the resiliency of our operations, equipment, and assets.” (NJ Transit - posted 8/25)

MTA ANNOUNCES RECEIPT OF $20.8 MILLION FEDERAL GRANT TO MAKE METRO-NORTH RAILROAD'S HUDSON LINE RESILIENT AGAINST FUTURE STORM SURGES: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and MTA Metro-North Railroad announced that Metro-North has received a federal grant of $20.8 million to harden Metro-North’s Hudson Line against future storm surge flooding events of the type experienced during Superstorm Sandy. The grant will be used to design and build 92 elevated steel equipment platforms along 30 miles of track from the South Bronx to Croton-Harmon, in Westchester County, as well as provide for the design and construction of perimeter protection, waterproofing, hardening of substations and train yard buildings, and installation of video and electronic monitoring of Metro-North facilities and infrastructure. The grant will be matched by $6.9 million in MTA funds. More than 50 percent of the Hudson Line right-of-way was completely submerged during Superstorm Sandy, and power, communications and signal systems that were flooded by salt water were significantly damaged. The storm surge damaged or destroyed fiber optic cables, signal system components such as circuit boards, racks, and relays, and communication infrastructure such as radio base stations. Metro-North intends to place its communications, power and signal electrical components on raised steel platforms in an effort to prevent damage from corrosive salt water in the event of another storm surge along the Hudson Line in the next 50 years. The equipment to be raised includes third rail switches, cases for snow melters, signal power transformers and communications systems pedestals. “Our trains cannot run without live signals, third rail power, and communications systems,” said Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti. “We are extremely grateful for this critical systems grant, which will significantly reduce the likelihood that Metro-North could again experience the magnitude of damage to our electrical infrastructure that we faced after Sandy. This grant will enable us to protect our equipment from future storms.” The grant was awarded through a competitive application process by the Federal Transit Administration through Section 5324 of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, enacted by Congress in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Members of New York’s Congressional Delegation offered these comments. “Superstorm Sandy walloped our tracks, electrical systems, rail equipment and more and this federal funding will help make our transit system more resilient without leaving local commuters on the hook for these expenses,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer. “This massive federal investment means that Hudson River line riders can rest assured that their rail system will be stronger and more resilient in the event of a future storm.” “This critical federal funding will help provide much needed resources to facilitate upgrades on the Hudson Line,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Superstorm Sandy devastated our communities and these funds will help rebuild our transportation infrastructure even stronger and more resilient so that the New Yorkers who rely on Metro North to get to work every day can have the peace of mind knowing we are better prepared for when the next storm hits.” “I lead the fight to secure $60 billion in federal funds to recover from Sandy, and I’m pleased that this grant will help Metro-North’s Hudson Line withstand severe weather events in the future,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey. “Upgrading and protecting our transportation infrastructure will enhance overall safety and improve recovery times. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue working with local officials to ensure New York’s resiliency needs are met.” “Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call for the entire Lower Hudson Valley that more needs to be done to strengthen our transportation infrastructure against the threat of powerful storms,” said Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The Metro-North Hudson Line runs the entire western border of my district, and thousands of my constituents, from Hastings to Yonkers to Spuyten Duyvil, utilize that line every day to travel to and from work. The economic success of the entire region relies on our ability to ensure a highly functional and efficient transportation network. Our railways are an incredibly important facet of that. This $20 million federal grant is critical for Metro North to protect the Hudson Line from storm surges and flooding, and I am pleased that the FTA has acted to address this important need.” (MTA - posted 8/25)

COMPLETION OF $2.1 MILLION PROJECT TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF METRO-NORTH RAILROAD: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the New York Power Authority has finished $2.1 million in energy efficiency upgrades at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Metro-North Railroad North White Plains Train Yard. This energy saving project, completed under the Governor's BuildSmart NY program, will save New York State more than $328,000 in energy costs and remove approximately 1,280 tons of greenhouse gases annually. "These upgrades will make this facility greener, more energy efficient, and will reduce its energy bill, saving the MTA and ultimately riders and taxpayers money," said Governor Cuomo. "It is vital that we all take steps to help sustain the planet and through initiatives like BuildSmart NY, this administration will continue to support commonsense projects that save taxpayer dollars and make sense for the environment." The project, which began last fall, instituted a number of comprehensive energy-saving and efficiency improvements at four major buildings throughout the train yard. These improvements included the replacement of several air-handling systems, a new boiler, electric smart meters and a building energy monitoring and management system. This system will give the MTA a greater ability to track and curtail its energy use, as well as reduce operation and maintenance costs at the facility. The New York Power Authority oversaw the project from an initial energy audit through its completion and provided upfront financing. The energy savings resulting from the project will offset the MTA's payments back to the New York Power Authority. New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said, “MTA is one of the Power Authority’s most valued partners, teaming with us on numerous projects over the years to help reduce the state’s carbon footprint while also curbing energy costs. Hundreds of projects just like this one in North White Plains are happening all over the state as part of NYPA’s effort to carry out the Governor’s BuildSmart NY initiative.” MTA Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti said, “We are delighted that the New York Power Authority is committed to helping us reduce our energy use and operating costs. Everyone knows that taking the train is the environmentally friendly way to travel, and we are always striving to make that more true than ever.” The New York Power Authority is actively partnering with MTA to improve energy efficiency and is currently moving forward with other efforts across multiple MTA facilities. Those energy-efficiency upgrades, when completed, will save more than 50,000 megawatt hours of electricity and nearly 103,000 gallons of fuel a year and eliminate almost 31,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. (One megawatt hour is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by about 330 homes during an hour.) Over the years, the New York Power Authority and MTA have partnered to complete 140 energy efficiency and clean energy projects, which have saved 138,000 megawatt hours of electricity, nearly 123,000 gallons of fuel a year and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 90,000 tons annually. Launched in 2012, BuildSmart NY calls for an increase in energy efficiency in state government buildings by 20 percent by 2020. The initiative will save millions of dollars for taxpayers and create thousands of jobs while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To date, New Yorkers have saved tens of millions of dollars in utility costs under Build Smart NY. (MTA - posted 8/24)

SEPTA WEST TRENTON PASSENGER SERVICE TO SEPARATE FROM CSX FREIGHT OPERATIONS: Due to the activation of a new signal system and the physical separation of CSX freight and SEPTA passenger operations, shuttle buses will replace all train service on Monday, August 24, 2015 between Woodbourne and West Trenton Stations on the Authority's West Trenton Regional Rail Line. The West Trenton Separation Project clears the way for SEPTA to fully implement Positive Train Control (PTC), the next generation of signal safety equipment that works to further reduce the chance of human error along the line. Separation of the six-mile section of track shared by SEPTA and CSX Transportation between the Authority's Woodbourne and West Trenton stations will also help to alleviate rush hour train congestion in this area. Both SEPTA and CSX have experienced sustained growth along this section of track. SEPTA West Trenton ridership has increased by more than 60 percent over the last decade. CSX Transportation operates some 25 trains through the area daily, moving goods throughout the Greater Philadelphia region linking into the freight company's national north-south network. Passengers can visit www.septa.org for PTC project updates. Passengers traveling inbound to Center City will board shuttle buses at West Trenton and Yardley Stations before transferring to trains at Woodbourne Station to complete their commutes. Trains traveling outbound towards West Trenton will travel as far as Woodbourne Station where passengers will need to transfer to shuttle buses to complete their trips. All shuttle bus and train departure/arrival times will differ from regularly scheduled times and some trains will terminate at Neshaminy Falls Station. Due to the supplemental schedule, customers should anticipate some delays and add additional time onto their commutes as necessary. (SEPTA - posted 8/24)

EXTRA TRAINS, ADDITIONAL SEATS ON AMTRAK FOR VISIT OF POPE FRANCIS TO UNITED STATES Amtrak is taking steps to prepare for an influx of rail passengers on the Northeast Corridor during Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September and will operate extra trains with added capacity to meet the anticipated demand. With papal events scheduled in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is uniquely suited to carry passengers to and from the various locations. With more than a million people expected to attend an outdoor Mass and other events associated with the World Meeting of Families on September 26 and 27, the attached schedule includes additional frequencies and special stops for that weekend. As Philadelphia 30th Street Station is expected to be a focal point for regional transportation, passengers should expect large crowds and some non-typical station procedures. While plans are subject to change, outlined below is a summary of Amtrak’s preparations for the Pope’s visit.
  • Operations: With some minor exceptions, operations in and around New York and Washington will be normal, although passengers should expect large crowds during the Pope’s scheduled events. Amtrak service will operate on a normal weekday schedule Monday, September 21 through Friday, September 25, with extra coaches added to some trains to accommodate additional demand. Starting Friday, September 25 through Monday, September 28, reservations will be required on all Acela Express, Northeast Regional and Keystone Service trains. As outlined in the attached timetable, Amtrak will operate Philadelphia-centric “Event Extra” service on Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27, in some cases utilizing equipment from our commuter partners. To better ensure efficient train movements for all users of the NEC, Amtrak will suspend maintenance activities, pre-position rescue equipment to quickly respond to any disabled trains, and continuously share real-time dispatching information with our regional transit agency partners.
  • 30th Street Station: To ensure public safety and aid in crowd control, some special procedures will be implemented at Philadelphia 30th Street Station during the weekend of the papal visit. In addition to Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains, SEPTA service to/from Levittown, Marcus Hook, Wilmington, Croydon and Cornwells Heights, will operate from the lower-level/main concourse. Specific boarding procedures and recommended points of entry will be announced at a later date. Additional station personnel and ambassadors will be on hand to assist, but passengers should expect long lines and crowded conditions. Taxi service and rental cars will not be available to/from 30th Street Station Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27. Station restrooms will be closed to the public but facilities will be available outside. Food court eateries will be open and accessible from the Market Street entrance.
Tickets for all Amtrak trains are available now at Amtrak.com. Passengers are advised to book as early as possible to ensure availability. Additional announcements with more detailed information will be made in the weeks to come and posted to our custom web page, amtrak.com/papalvisit , which will be updated regularly (Amtrak - posted 8/21)

NEW YORK NEW JERSEY RAIL'S NEW LOCOMOTIVES: New York New Jersey Rail, LLC (NYNJR), a short-line railroad wholly-owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has recently received three new diesel-electric freight switching locomotives from Knoxville Locomotive Works (KLW). Unit design, engineering and production originated from KLW’s manufacturing facilities in Knoxville, Tennessee. The contract, valued at $5.25 million, marks the first collaboration between the Port Authority and KLW. The KLW SE Series eco-friendly-ultra low emitting switchers are operating at NYNJR terminals in Jersey City, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York as well as positioning railcars for cross harbor freight operations. The locomotives will not only reduce existing emissions levels by more than 90%, they will also help NYNJR save 60%+ in fuel costs while significantly reducing engine noise levels. “For Knoxville Locomotive Works, this venture underscores our long-term commitment to deliver advanced technology locomotive power to the North American and International Rail markets,” said Pete Claussen, chairman of KLW. “It is gratifying we can do this with a localized Tennessee work force and with a predominance of U.S. manufactured assemblies and components.” The locomotives are equipped with state-of-the-art drive train systems patented by KLW and MTU. Each single engine 1050HP diesel-electric unit is designed to reduce locomotive emissions and to mitigate fuel waste. These benefits are achieved without compromising reliability performance or power degradation through the deployment of enhanced electronic control systems and improved tractive effort capabilities. “Our customers have consistently told us that two of the most significant challenges they currently face are increasingly stringent emissions standards and increasing fuel costs,” said Scott Woodruff, director of industrial sales, MTU America Inc. “Knoxville Locomotive Works has been on the leading edge of designing the best locomotive solutions to meet those challenges, and MTU is committed to helping locomotive builders like KLW deliver the cleanest, most efficient new products to their customers.” (Knoxville Locomotive Works - posted 8/21)

AMTRAK VERMONTER SERVICE TO HOLYOKE TO BEGIN ON AUGUST 27TH: Amtrak announced today that Vermonter service to the Knowledge Corridor will expand to include a stop in Holyoke, Mass. starting on August 27, 2015. Tickets are now available for purchase at Amtrak.com and all other booking channels. Service to Northampton and Greenfield began in December 2014. The restoration of passenger rail service to the Knowledge Corridor has been a goal of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which has been leading the effort to improve the infrastructure and shorten trip times within the Commonwealth. Funding for the project was provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 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. (Amtrak - posted 8/19)

SEPTA GENERAL MANAGER JOSEPH M CASEY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey, who has led the Authority since 2008, today announced his retirement. After a total of 34 years of distinguished service in a number of roles, Mr. Casey will retire as general manager on September 30, 2015. "It has been a privilege to lead this organization, and I thank the SEPTA Board for the opportunity," Mr. Casey said. "I also want to thank my staff for their efforts over the years, as well as the entire SEPTA organization for their dedication to serve the citizens of this region." Mr. Casey began his career in transportation at Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) before joining SEPTA in 1982. Prior to being appointed General Manager, Mr. Casey served for six years as the Authority's Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer and held senior management positions in Internal Audit and Finance. During his tenure as SEPTA Senior Budget Director and Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Casey was successful in establishing balanced operating budgets, streamlining expenses and reducing costs, and containing overall budget growth even in the face of skyrocketing healthcare and fuel costs. "Joe has led SEPTA through challenging times, while consistently improving SEPTA's performance, customer service and overall public perception," said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. "Pat" Deon. "His leadership and expertise have been keys to moving SEPTA forward." After being named General Manager, Mr. Casey created a dedicated Customer Service and Advocacy Division and focused SEPTA on the "Four Cs" - Cleanliness, Convenience, Courtesy and Communication. As a regional business, SEPTA has taken a leadership role adopting a comprehensive Sustainability program focusing on initiatives ranging from building an eco-fleet, developing alternative energy generation and storage, to station and facility recycling. In recognition of these efforts, the Authority is the proud recipient of the 2012 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Outstanding Public Transportation System Award and the 2012 APTA Gold Sustainability Recognition. Thanks in large part to Mr. Casey's key role as a tireless advocate for finding a dedicated, long-term funding source to address SEPTA's critical infrastructure improvements, Act 89, which provides new resources for transportation in Pennsylvania, went into effect in January 2014. "During my time as General Manager, I committed our organization to improve the customer experience - and I can say with confidence that these efforts will only grow stronger moving forward," Casey said. "With dedicated funding for capital improvements, resulting from state Act 89, we will have resources to further enhance the riding experience for our customers, improve reliability and preserve the transit system for future generations." A lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Mr. Casey is a Certified Public Accountant, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting from Drexel University and attended Widener University for advanced business courses. (SEPTA - posted 8/19)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 15, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Aug. 15, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 564,502 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Aug. 19, 2015 were 288,059 carloads, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,443 containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent compared to 2014. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 16.8 percent to 9,949 carloads; grain, up 9.6 percent to 19,708 carloads and motor vehicles and parts, up 3.2 percent to 17,940 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 15.4 percent to 23,787 carloads; coal, down 10.4 percent to 106,339 carloads and petroleum and petroleum products, down 10.3 percent to 14,034 carloads. For the first 32 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,883,173 carloads, down 4.3 percent from the same point last year; and 8,487,784 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 32 weeks of 2015 was 17,370,957 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Aug. 15, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 378,436 carloads, down 5.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 352,114 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 730,550 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 32 weeks of 2015 was 22,655,831 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 73,297 carloads for the week, down 10.2 percent, and 64,361 intermodal units, up 3.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 32 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,418,991 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,080 carloads for the week, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week last year, 11,310 intermodal units, down 3.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 32 weeks of 2015 was 865,883 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/19)

MBTA, KEOLIS ANNOUNCE SERVICE IMPROVEMENT PLAN: Fiscal and Management Control Board announced it has endorsed the MBTA's plan to improve service for tens of thousands of Commuter Rail passengers over the course of the next five months. Under an agreement between the MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services, the areas of focus include on-time performance (OTP), staffing, operations, equipment maintenance, customer service, fare collection, and winter weather resiliency plans. Following last year's unprecedented winter, the five-month agreement instills a sense of urgency into the strategy for service improvements to be made in the short term. "We can, and will do better," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "I'm pleased that Keolis has agreed in writing to work harder to achieve our shared goal of providing the level of service Commuter Rail customers expect and deserve." Following the significant service disruptions in February and March of this year, a lessons-learned analysis identified areas for improvements to make the Commuter Rail system more reliable and resilient. By incorporating the findings of that analysis into this five-month agreement, the MBTA and Keolis have agreed to measure improvements in service against an overall adjusted OTP goal of 92 percent, with no individual line below 90 percent. A working group will develop targets for peak period trains. The OTP goals and provisions of the Service Improvement Plan supplement but do not supersede the Keolis contract. Additional provisions of the agreement include:
  • Committing to ensuring that 65 locomotives are available for service each weekday
  • Providing the necessary coach seating capacity required under the contract
  • The development of a plan to enhance fare collection
  • A complete review of the system schedule to develop revisions that meet customer demand and optimize on-time performance
  • Periodic trainings and workforce development programs for Commuter Rail staff
  • And a new Life Cycle Maintenance Plan for early detection of future maintenance needs.
"Through this agreement, we are committing to the MBTA and our customers that we will further improve our service," said Keolis General Manager Gerald C. Francis. "More importantly, this agreement serves as a road map for how we are going to deliver this improved service and rebuild the confidence and trust of our passengers by delivering on this commitment."   (MBTA - posted 8/18)

16th ANNUAL RIVERHEAD RAILROAD FESTIVAL: Riverhead, New York, August 14, 2015. The Board of Trustees of the Railroad Museum of Long Island (RMLI) is pleased to announce our sixteenth annual Riverhead Railroad Festival, “Celebrating our 25th Anniversary”. It will be held on the Museum grounds at 416 Griffing Avenue, Riverhead, NY, across from Riverhead’s LIRR Station from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday, August 29th and Sunday, August 30th, 2015.   Features this year includes the LIRR GP-38 Simulator, where you can simulate operation of a train from Riverhead to Greenport; Visit Railroad Related Vendors; Visit the Historic LIONEL Toy Train Layout; See our many operating toy train layouts in “G,” “O,” “HO,” “N,” and “Z” scales; Listen to Traditional Railroad Music by “Sampawams Creek,” 12 noon to 3 PM each day; Tour through our historic LIRR M-1 cars, the P-72 passenger car, and our 1963 Caboose; See our Historic 1932 Double Decker railcar and locomotives; Ride the 1964 ~ 1965 “LIRR Pavilion World’s Fair Train; Visit railroad preservation groups; View working machines of the “Long Island Antique Power Association”; and Visit the Museum Gift Shop. There will also be refreshments available from “Maple Tree Gourmet Caterers”.   ONCE EACH DAY at 11:20 am, Ride the LIRR “Scoot” and visit our Museum in Greenport then return to Riverhead by 2:00 PM. . LIRR “Scoot” tickets are purchased separately onboard the train from the LIRR Conductor (There is no surcharge for purchasing tickets onboard at Riverhead or Greenport).   Admission to the Riverhead Railroad Festival allows you to visit both sites on the same day of ticket purchase.       For additional information, contact the Riverhead Railroad Festival event coordinator, Mr. Donald Fisher at e-mail or the Riverhead Museum Site at 631-727-7920.     (RMLI - posted 8/17)

GOVERNOR WOLF RELEASES OIL TRAIN SAFETY REPORT Governor Tom Wolf today released a report written by Dr. Allan Zarembski focused on the safety of Pennsylvanians and protecting people from the potential of Bakken crude oil train derailments. In the report, Assessment of Crude by Rail Safety Issues in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Dr. Zarembski presents 27 recommendations. “Every week, roughly sixty to seventy trains carrying crude oil travel through Pennsylvania destined for Philadelphia or another East Coast refinery, and I have expressed grave concern regarding the transportation of this oil and have taken several steps to prevent potential oil train derailments,” said Governor Wolf. “Protecting Pennsylvanians is my top priority and Dr. Zarembski’s report is important in helping my administration take the necessary steps. I will also continue to work with CSX and Norfolk Southern, both of which have demonstrated concern for rail safety and an interest in working with my administration. I would also like to thank Dr. Zarembski for his hard work in writing this report and for producing numerous recommendations that will help my administration prepare.” Dr. Zarembski, who was hired by the governor in late-April and started in mid-May, is an internationally recognized expert in the area of railway track and structures, vehicle-track dynamics, failure and risk analysis, safety, railway operations, and maintenance. In May, Governor Wolf sent a letter to oil train companies, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway, urging them to adopt improved safety initiatives for all trains with crude-by-rail cars operating in Pennsylvania and to fully and expeditiously comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announced Final Rule. In February, Governor Wolf sent a letter to President Obama urging expedited federal regulatory action in several areas to better ensure oil train safety. And in his first full week in office, the governor conducted an emergency table-top planning exercise to model the state’s response in the event of a crude oil train derailment in an urban area. Governor Wolf has personally met with executives from Norfolk Southern and CSX Corporation to discuss safety measures that could lower the risk of derailments. Governor Wolf has also directed the Pennsylvania Office of the Fire Commissioner to examine how an oil train fire could be extinguished to protect public safety, and the Wolf Administration has undertaken a review of the frequency and the procedures associated with rail infrastructure inspections by federal and state inspectors. Assessment of Crude by Rail (CBR) Safety Issues in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Executive Summary: As the volume of Crude By Rail (CBR) shipments have increased over the past several years, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has become increasingly concerned about the risks of a CBR incident occurring on a rail line that goes through populated areas within the state. This is particularly important for the Commonwealth since large volumes of CBR are shipped through the state by two major Class 1 railroads, Norfolk Southern (NS) and CSX Transportation (CSX). While the recent actions taken by the railroad industry and the Department of Transportation have been of great value, there is still concern about the level of risk present on these rail lines. Because of the concern about the level of risk present on these rail lines, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania asked the University of Delaware to look at the current level of risk and advise as to how to reduce the risk of a CBR incident in the Commonwealth. This report presents the results of this assessment. This assessment addresses three major areas of CBR safety in the Commonwealth:
  • Derailment Risk
  • Tank Car Breach/Rupture Risk
  • Regulatory Oversight
This assessment also addresses the effect of proposed new Department of Transportation and industry standards for tank car design and train operations and operating systems to include speed reduction, use of Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) Brakes and Positive Train Control (PTC). For a catastrophic CBR event to take place, several elements are necessary:
  • First a derailment must occur, usually unrelated to the CBR equipment itself
  • Second a breach or rupture of the tank car shell must occur and a release of the crude take place.
  • Third, conditions must be present and the volatility of the commodity must be such as to ignite or explode after the rupture of the tank car.
In the area of Derailment Risk, this assessment looked at the distribution of derailments by major categories (Track, Operations/Human Factors, Equipment, Signals, etc.) and subcategories (e.g. broken rail, wide gauge, etc.) both in the state of Pennsylvania and Nationwide. For those derailment categories that are high risk, i.e. with a significant number of annual occurrences or significant potential for occurrence of major tank car failure, the University of Delaware team identified opportunities for improvement in inspection and/or maintenance practices, based on state of the art industry practice as well as specific practices of railroads operating CBR trains in the State of Pennsylvania. In the area of Tank Car Breach/Rupture Risk, the assessment examined the proposed improvements to the tank car such as:
  • Improved head shields
  • Increased tank shell thickness/external jacket
  • Valve Protection (top and bottom valves)
  • Reduction in train speed
In the area of Regulatory Oversight, the assessment reviewed the current safety oversight capabilities and resources of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission as well as those of other neighboring states and identified opportunities for improvement of safety and Emergence Response. The report noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has primary responsibility for rail safety and inspection under a 1970 federal law which preempted rail safety regulation. Recommendations A total of 27 recommendations are presented in this report; divided into primary (18) and secondary (9) categories. Primary categories are those expected to have direct safety results and which can be implemented by the railroads directly working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or by the Commonwealth itself. Secondary categories include activities which are more difficult to implement or which may require action by a party other than the railroad or Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Primary Recommendations Railroad
  • 1. It is recommended that the routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania be tested at a rate such that the service defect rate is maintained at 0.04 to 0.06 service failures/mile/year. In all cases, rail on these routes should be tested no less than three times a year.
  • 2. It is recommended that the routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania be tested by a railroad owned Track Geometry Car at a minimum of four times a year.
  • 3. It is recommended that the routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania be tested by a vision based joint bar inspection system at least once per year, this test to be in lieu of one of the required on-foot inspections, as permitted by FRA.
  • 4. It is recommended that NS and CSX adopt the BNSF Railway voluntary speed reduction to 35 mph for crude oil trains through cities with a population greater than 100,000 people
  • 5. It is recommended that the railroad have sufficient Wheel Impact Load Detector (WILD) units in place to monitor all loaded oil train cars along their entire route within Pennsylvania, such that any track location on an oil train route within the state should have a WILD unit no more than 200 miles preceding (in the loaded direction) that location .
  • a. If a WILD measurement exceeds 120 Kips, the train should be safely stopped, the wheel inspected, and then if condition of the wheel allows, the train proceed at a reduced speed of 30 mph until the alerting car can set out at an appropriate location until repairs are made. b. If the WILD measurement is greater than 90 Kips, the car should be flagged and the identified wheels replaced as soon as possible but no later than 1500 miles of additional travel. 6. It is recommended that the railroads have sufficient Hot Bearing Detector (HBD) units in place as to monitor all loaded oil train cars along their entire route within Pennsylvania, with a maximum spacing of 25 miles between Hot Box detectors. 7. It is recommended that the railroad have at least one Acoustic Bearing Detector unit in place to monitor all loaded oil trains along their entire route within Pennsylvania.
  • 8. It is recommended that those yards and sidings that handle a significant number of CBR cars be inspected by the Railroad inspectors at a level of track tighter than the assigned FRA track class. Thus Yards that are FRA Class 1 should be inspected at a FRA Class 2 level to provide railroads with early warning of potential track conditions that can cause problems.
  • 9. It is recommended that oil trains in Pennsylvania, not equipped with Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) Brakes, use two way end of train devices (TWEOT) or Distributed Power (DP) to improve braking performance.
  • 10. It is recommended that CSX and NS complete their initial route analysis of High-hazard flammable train (HHFT) routes in Pennsylvania as quickly as possible, taking into account proximity to populated areas and safety considerations as outlined by DOT.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • 11. It is recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania designate appropriate state and local officials to work with CSX and NS to provide all needed information and to assist in the route analysis.
  • 12. It is recommended that Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) inspectors, in co-ordination with FRA inspectors, focus on inspection of major CBR routes, to include track, equipment, hazmat, and operating practices. In particular, track inspectors should prioritize main line turnouts and yards and sidings that see a significant number of crude oil cars, to include both major railroads and the refineries themselves.
  • 13. It is recommended that the Pennsylvania PUC and their track inspectors which are part of the PUC’s Transportation Division coordinate with the Federal Railroad Administration and try to schedule the FRA’s T-18 Gage Restraint Measurement System (GRMS) test vehicle to inspect all routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania at least once a year. This test should include both GRMS and conventional track geometry measurements.
  • 14. It is recommended that Pennsylvania PUC fill their existing track inspector vacancy with a qualified inspector with railroad experience. Given the fact that most major refineries are in the eastern part of the state, where SEPTA and Amtrak are located as well, it may be necessary to add a third inspector to the eastern part of the state, pending filling of the existing eastern vacancy.
  • 15. It is recommended that PEMA continue to actively work with both railroads to roll out information sharing technology tools and make these tools available to all emergency responders on CBR routes (PEMA is actively working in this area). 16. It is recommended that PEMA coordinate full scale emergency response exercise involving emergency responders from communities along the key oil train routes.
  • 17. It is recommended that PEMA work with and insure that all communities along the CBR routes have appropriate emergency response plans.
  • 18. It is recommended that PEMA work with NS and CSX to obtain an inventory of emergency response resources along routes over which Crude Oil Trains operate to include locations for the staging of emergency response equipment (PEMA is actively working in this area).
Secondary Recommendations Railroad
  • 19. It is recommended that conventional track geometry car tests on routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania be supplemented by Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement (ATGM) and/or Vehicle/Track Interaction (VTI) measurement systems.
  • 20. It is recommended that NS and CSX verify that they have sufficient Hot Wheel Detectors on the Oil Train Routes to allow for the identification of overheated wheels on terrain where this can be a cause of wheel failure.
  • 21. It is recommended that the railroad have at least one Truck Defect Detector or equivalent in place to monitor all loaded oil train cars along their entire route within Pennsylvania.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • 22. It is recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania encourage both NS and CSX to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) on Oil Train routes in the Commonwealth as expeditiously as possible, in accordance with government mandated schedules.
  • 23. It is recommended that State of Pennsylvania Track inspectors focus attention on the condition of turnouts on major CBR routes in the state.
  • 24. It is recommended that Pennsylvania state inspectors include yards and sidings that handle a significant number of CBR cars as part of their inspection program. All such inspections to be coordinated with the FRA inspection program.
  • 25. It is recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lend its support to a set of national Minimum Characteristic Standards for all Crude by Rail (CBR) with defined target characteristics.
  • 26. It is recommended that Pennsylvania PUC coordinate with FRA and NS and CSX Bridge Departments to insure that the railroads are maintaining a Bridge Safety Management Program in accordance with 49 CFR 237.
  • 27. It is recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lend its support to increasing the tank car thermal protection standard to 800 minutes for a pool fire.
(State of Pa, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/17)

MTA MARYLAND PLANS TO REPLACE ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE FLEET: The MTA is moving to make the purchase now because Amtrak plans to stop maintaining MARC's electric fleet. The national railroad, which has maintained MARC's electric locomotives since 1983, notified the agency last fall that it would discontinue that work next summer. Amtrak has been maintaining these electric locomotives. However, it has stated to the MTA that it no longer plans to retain spare parts for these locomotives, since Amtrak has removed HHP-8s from service and plans to rid itself of remaining AEM-7s. The MTA has requested permission from the Maryland Board of Public Works to join in with the State of Illinois contract to purchase diesel locomotives from Siemen Corporation. Amtrak told the Maryland agency it cannot keep spare parts for MARC's aging (John Krattinger, Alex Mayes - posted 8/14)

CANADIAN PACIFIC READY FOR UPCOMING CROP-YEAR: Canadian Pacific is well positioned to provide best-in-class service to western Canadian grain shippers during the 2015-2016 crop-year. CP's service offering to grain customers is driven by efficiency and creating velocity in the rail portion of the complex grain supply chain. CP's Dedicated Train Program (DTP), which was introduced last-crop year, provides customers with greater clarity and control of car supply to manage their supply chain. CP anticipates adding more trains to the program this crop year as it responds to greater demand to move grain and grain products from western Canada. In the 2014-2015 crop year, CP moved a record 276,154 carloads (27,849,434 MT) of Canadian grain and grain products from western Canadian origins, up from the previous record crop year of 2013-2014. "CP is moving record amounts of grain from western Canada and approximately 70 percent of our grain operation is served by the DTP. The customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," said John Brooks, CP's Vice-President Sales and Marketing, Bulk. "The DTP is based on the fact that the unit train shippers know their business the best - allowing them to determine origin, destination and to manage the velocity of their supply chain." CP continues to invest in its network to improve efficiency, create velocity and provide the best service possible to customers. In 2015, CP will spend 21 percent of its revenue on capital expenditures, more than any other Class 1 railroad. Canadian rail rates remain among the lowest in the world, having risen just 6 percent since 2000 even as commodity prices have soared by 166 percent. For less than unit train customers, CP's Open Distribution is segmented to better fulfill the shipping needs to these end-markets. Customers who do not qualify for the DTP, or choose not to sign up for the program, can order cars in the Open Distribution program. Open Distribution allows shippers to input orders for four weeks, and as orders are filled, new orders can be placed. "We continue to offer valuable and efficient service to our less than unit train customers via Open Distribution," said Brooks. "This service is informed by on-going and collaborative discussions with shippers and coordination through the Canadian Grain Commission for producer car loaders. We are constantly working to recognize and meet the differing needs of all the customers we serve." These collaborative programs give flexible options to our customers both large and small. "CP's Dedicated Train Program has created efficiencies for Viterra while allowing greater flexibility of train placement to ensure the right grain is moving to export position," said Kyle Jeworski, Viterra's Chief Executive Officer. "The program is a positive step forward in the movement of Canadian grains, and we look forward to continuing to work with CP to support our overall focus on driving supply chain excellence for our farmers and destination customers." CP has stressed and will continue to stress that the complex Canadian grain supply chain must operate on a 24/7 basis to support balanced pipelines, reduce congestion and drive velocity (CP- posted 8/14)

EMERY RAIL HERITAGE TRUST AWARDS: The first grants from the newly created EMERY RAIL HERITAGE TRUST, established by the late John H. Emery, have been announced. John was a long time Chicago resident, and was an avid rail enthusiast who loved to ride trains around the world, and wanted to help preserve rail equipment and infrastructure that will allow future generations to share his experiences during what he considered the “Golden Age” of railroads, from 1920 – 1960. Twenty five applications were received requesting in excess of $800,000; eleven matching grants were awarded totalling $162,500. Grants were approved for the following organizations/projects:
  • Bay Area Electric Railroad Association, $15,000 for repair and maintenance of their former Sacramento Northern railroad infrastructure.
  • Engine 557 Restoration Company, $10,000 for restoration of Alaska Railroad steam locomotive 557.
  • Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation, $10,000 for upgrades and restoration to four of their passenger cars.
  • Mid Continent Railway Museum, $10,000 toward a new boiler for Chicago & North Western locomotive 1385.
  • New England Electric Railway Historical Society, $20,000 for restoration of three North Shore Line cars including the only remaining dining car, number 415. John was a big North Shore Line enthusiast and rode it regularly.
  • New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Historical Society, $25,000 to help with completion of work to restore Santa Fe locomotive 2926.
  • North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation, $38,400 for restoration of former New Haven railroad Pullman PINE TREE, STATE, a six double-bedroom sleeper buffet lounge car to meet AMTRAK operational standards. John frequently rode on this car during High Iron Travel excursions and occasionally accompanied the car when it was being moved from point to point for excursions.
  • Washington DC NRHS Chapter, $4,000 for interior upgrades to their Pullman car DOVER HARBOR.
  • Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, $10,000 for upgrades to former Southern Railway Pullman built heavyweight Dining Car 3158.
  • The Northwest Railway Museum, $10,000 for restoration of former Northern Pacific locomotive 924
  • White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation (Nevada Northern), $10,000 for upgrades and maintenance of their passenger cars. In addition to these matching grants, each of the three advisory committee members are allowed to make $1,000 donations to any charity of their choosing under the terms of the Trust. The members chose to give an additional $1,000 to the North Carolina Transportation Museum and the Washington DC NRHS Chapter for the projects identified above, and $500 to both the New York Museum of Transportation and the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum for track work projects.
. (Emery Rail Heritage Trust - posted 8/13)

SENATOR SCHUMER PROPOSES PLANS FOR NEW GATEWAY TUNNEL: Standing at the Middletown Train Station, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today discussed his new framework to fund and build a new cross-Hudson tunnel, as part of Amtrak’s Gateway program. The new cross-Hudson tunnel would create the opening to realize the long-sought one-seat ride to Penn Station for long-suffering Orange and Rockland train commuters. This comprehensive proposal, which would build two new tunnel tubes under the Hudson River, would also allow for the construction of the Secaucus Loop. Schumer said the construction of this loop, combined with the increased capacity provided by the new cross-Hudson tunnels could provide a “one-seat ride” for commuters in Orange and Rockland Counties. This comes on the heels of a speech Schumer made in New York City where he called for the establishment of a Gateway Development Corporation, a collaborative partnership that would bring together stakeholders like the States of New York and New Jersey, Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), NJ Transit and the Port Authority, in an effort to get the Gateway Project moving forward, beginning with the construction of two new Hudson River tunnel tubes. Schumer said that the creation of this development corporation is the first step in making the Gateway project a reality, which will replace two existing tunnels under the Hudson River and ultimately double cross-Hudson train capacity to New York City. Schumer explained that, in addition to building the new tunnels under the Hudson River, the larger Amtrak Gateway proposal also includes a project that is a long-dreamed-about transportation goal for the Hudson Valley—the so-called “one-seat ride.” Schumer explained that the Gateway proposal includes a number of projects beyond just the Hudson River tunnels, one of which is the construction of the “Secaucus Loop,” which is needed to connect West-of-the-Hudson commuters using the Main/Bergen line directly to the tunnels that proceed into New York City without having to transfer in New Jersey. Schumer said this project is desperately needed, as it could be transformative for Lower Hudson Valley commuters, create good-paying construction jobs and spur economic development for the entire region for years to come. Specifically, Schumer said that, in order to make this project a reality, stakeholders including Amtrak, the federal government, the States of NY and NJ, the MTA, NJ Transit, and the Port Authority will need to work together and create the Gateway Development Corporation. Schumer said having this development corporation would bring all of these entities under one umbrella to more efficiently access and leverage the kinds of federal and state resources needed to achieve progress on this project. “We are fast approaching a regional transportation Armageddon – the busiest rail lines in the country will soon be stranded without a way into New York City, which could be devastating not only for commerce, but our commuters. That is why we should create a new Gateway Development Corporation in which all the players – from New York and New Jersey and from Amtrak and the federal government – can get together, plan and design this must-build project and pull down every available source of public and private funding to make it possible. Funding the Gateway project would not only ensure we can build the tunnels necessary to keeping New York State, and our nation’s economic center, functioning, but it would also pave the way to creating the one-seat ride Orange and Rockland County commuters have been begging for year after year,” said Schumer. “Providing a way for our West-of-the-Hudson commuters to get to New York City without having to transfer trains has the potential to completely revolutionize commuting and spur an incredible level of economic development. That is why I am fighting to make sure we are taking critical steps now that we will need later on to make this project a reality.” Schumer was joined by Lynn Cione, President of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. Schumer said that the Gateway Tunnel Project is desperately needed, not only for the purpose of transporting millions more workers, tourists and shoppers into and out of New York City each day, but also because the two tunnels that currently carry rail traffic under the Hudson River and into Manhattan will soon become inoperable. Schumer said that because these tunnels were flooded during Superstorm Sandy, they are deteriorating faster than most initially anticipated. In addition, these tunnels are old, built between 1904 and 1908, and are merely a few years away from being considered structurally unsound. For these reasons, Schumer said, the Gateway project has been in the works for many years. While this plan incorporates several important upgrades needed to improve the Northeast Corridor in the New York-New Jersey area, one of the high-priority aspects of the Gateway program includes building two new tunnels under the Hudson to replace these outdated ones. Schumer explained that doing this would provide the opening necessary to fully realize the goal of creating a one-seat ride for Orange and Rockland residents. Schumer said implementing the long-awaited one-seat ride for the West-of-the-Hudson residents who commute to New York Penn Station would be transformative for the Lower Hudson Valley region. This would be accomplished by first increasing tunnel capacity into New York City via the construction of two new tunnels, and then constructing the “Secaucus Loop,” which would connect the Main/Bergen lines that run from Orange and Rockland Counties directly to the rail lines that bring passengers under the Hudson River and into New York’s Penn Station each day. However, this cannot happen without creating a path forward for the Gateway project to get underway. Doing this would pave the way for the long-awaited one-seat ride for residents West-of-the-Hudson, who would no longer have to transfer and change trains in Secaucus as a result of this loop. Schumer said this would not only revolutionize commuting for West-of-the-Hudson residents, but it would create good-paying jobs during the construction phase of the tunnels and loop, and spur increased economic development for both the New York City and Hudson Valley areas. Therefore, following a speech in New York City, Schumer visited the Hudson Valley to further discuss his new framework to fund and build Amtrak’s Gateway cross-Hudson tunnel and what it would mean for Orange and Rockland residents who commute to New York City. While only preliminary estimates exist, the cost of the two new tunnel tubes is estimated at between $10-$14 billon and the boarder Gateway plan, which includes the estimated $800 million Secaucus Loop, is estimated to cost $20-25 billion. Schumer said that because Amtrak cannot access federal mass transit funding and the Port Authority and regional transit agencies cannot access federal railroad dollars, the best way to ensure Gateway can be completed is to allow each entity a seat at the table and to organize under a non-profit that can add up several pieces of financing, with an eye toward getting the maximum amount possible from the federal government. Finding ways to piece together the massive financing puzzle needed to make this project a reality will be the first step, Schumer said, in making the Gateway project a reality. Schumer said this will provide a path forward on the transformative Gateway project that will replace these two existing tunnels under the Hudson River and create the Secaucus Loop for Orange and Rockland County commuters, ultimately doubling cross-Hudson train capacity to New York City and spurring economic development opportunities for years to come. (U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer - posted 8/12)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 8, 2015: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 562,884 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Aug. 8, 2015 were 288,460 carloads, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 274,424 containers and trailers, up 3.1 percent compared to 2014. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 14.2 percent to 9,117 carloads; farm products, up 8.4 percent to 16,854 carloads; and grain, up 1.5 percent to 21,587 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 17.7 percent to 13,826 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 10 percent to 23,387 carloads; and coal, down 7.1 percent to 105,965 carloads. For the first 31 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,595,439 carloads, down 4.2 percent from the same point last year; and 8,211,341 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 31 weeks of 2015 was 16,806,780 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1 percent compared with this point last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Aug. 8, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 377,908 carloads, down 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 346,905 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 724,813 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 31 weeks of 2015 was 21,925,606 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 72,599 carloads for the week, down 11.7 percent, and 60,616 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 31 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,281,333 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.4 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,849 carloads for the week, up 5.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,865 intermodal units, up 4.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 31 weeks of 2015 was 837,493 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent from the same point last year. Crude Oil Carload Update The AAR also reported U.S. Class I railroads originated 111,068 carloads of crude oil in the second quarter of 2015, down 2,021 carloads or 1.8 percent from the first quarter of 2015 and down 21,189 carloads or 16 percent from the third quarter of 2014, which is the peak quarter for rail crude oil originations. (AAR - - posted 8/12)

B&O RAILROAD MUSEUM ANNOUNCES THE RESTORATION OF TWO HISTORIC LOCOMOTIVES: The B&O Railroad Museum is proud to announce the completion of two locomotive restoration projects:
  • No. 600 “J.C. Davis:” one of America’s rarest steam engines and the last steam engine to be restored that was damaged in the catastrophic 2003 roundhouse roof collapse.
  • No. 6944:  General Motors Electro-Motive Division (GM-EMD) GP30, the only class of locomotives delivered to the B&O Railroad in the sunburst paint scheme. 
Both locomotives will be unveiled and commemorated by the museum’s executive director, Courtney Wilson and chief curator, David Shackelford on the morning of Friday, September 4th. To honor the efforts of the Museum’s restoration team, public programs on both engines will take place throughout the day.
  • The No. 600 was designed by John C. Davis, the B&O’s Master of Machinery, and built at the historic Mount Clare shops (now the site of the Museum); this powerful locomotive type with 2 leading wheels, 6 driving wheels and no trailing wheels (2-6-0) was known as a "Mogul." The derivation of the name is unknown but is thought to represent a powerful leader.  Originally engines like this were designed for freight service; however Davis also decided to use the versatile locomotives for passenger service. The B&O displayed the No. 600 as a “state-of-the-art” steam locomotive in Philadelphia during the Centenary Exhibition in 1876. It won first prize for its attractive design and color scheme.  The No. 600 served until it was retired in 1893 when it became part of the historic collection of the railroad. It was renamed J.C. Davis, for its designer in 1927 for the railroad’s 100th anniversary celebration known as the Fair of the Iron Horse. It has been meticulously restored to its original appearance by the restoration staff of the B&O Railroad Museum and it is the only B&O Mogul locomotive in existence. The No. 600 was one of the twenty-two locomotives and railcars that were severely damaged by the roundhouse roof collapse during the President’s Day blizzard of 2003. Its restoration was complex due to the extreme level of damage it sustained and its completion is a testament to all who contributed and worked hard to rebuild the roundhouse and save the historic collection housed within.
  • The No. 6944 was one of 77 engines built for the B&O Railroad by General Motors Electro-Motive Division in La Grange, Illinois between 1961-1963. This 4-axle roadswitcher is more commonly known as a “General Purpose” or GP locomotive. The B&O No. 6944 is a second generation GP 30 locomotive developed to out power its competitors made by General Electric and the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). The exterior shell was designed by the GM Automotive Styling Center in Troy, Michigan to have a modern, appealing and cutting edge design. Less than 1,000 units were made and the B&O boasted 77 of them on their motive power roster. The locomotives in this class were the only class of locomotives delivered to the B&O in a unique sunburst paint scheme. When the B&O ceased to exist in 1987, it was renumbered as CSXT No. 4253. On January, 22, 1996, CSX retired the locomotive and donated it to the B&O Railroad Museum. The restoration returns the 6944 to its original appearance. It will return to service as one of the historic diesel engines pulling the museum’s passenger train.
(Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum - posted 8/11)

JAMES L. FERRARA NAMED INTERIM PRESIDENT OF MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast has named James L. Ferrara as Interim President of MTA New York City Transit (NYCT), the agency which operates subway, bus and paratransit service in the city of New York. Ferrara, the President of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, will serve in this position after NYCT President Carmen Bianco retires August 21 and will continue as Interim President until a new permanent President is named. The MTA is engaged in an international search to fill that position and is evaluating internal and external candidates. “Running MTA New York City Transit is one of the most complicated and critical jobs in the entire MTA, and Jim’s excellent judgment and strong managerial skills make me confident the agency will be in good hands while we find Transit’s next permanent President,” Prendergast said. Ferrara began his service to the MTA as a Bridges and Tunnels Officer in 1977 and was named President of Bridges and Tunnels in 2010. He has named Bridges and Tunnels Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Donald Spero to serve as Acting Bridges and Tunnels President during this time. “I am honored to be asked to assume this challenging role, and I thank the Chairman for entrusting me with it,” Ferrara said. “This temporary shift will require continued good work and support from my colleagues at Bridges and Tunnels as well as NYCT, and I thank them in advance for their help advancing the work of the entire MTA.” (MTA - posted 8/11)

GENESEE & WYOMING TO ACQUIRE CLAREMONT CONCORD RAILROAD: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. has reached an asset purchase agreement with Claremont Concord Railroad to acquire its rail line in Claremont, N.H., and lease to operate over a state-owned line in West Lebanon, N.H., according to a report in the Valley News. G&W subsidiary New England Central Railroad last week notified the Surface Transportation Board of the transaction, the newspaper reported. A G&W spokesman confirmed to the newspaper that the company was acquiring Claremont Concord, but declined to comment further. (Progressive Railroading - posted 8/10)

MAKING WAY FOR A NEW AMTRAK STATION IN SCHENECTADY, N.Y.: The Metroplex Board approved a number of resolutions that will help pave the way for construction of a new $14 million train station in downtown Schenectady. The Board approved selling a small piece of land in a parking lot it owns next to the current station to allow for construction of the new station. The Board also approved a license agreement to allow access to the Metroplex-owned parking area during construction and an agreement that allows construction of a new walkway from the new station to State Street through the parking lot. The last station-related item is approval for Metroplex to enter into a betterment agreement with the State to make improvements to the parking lot that surrounds the station. As part of the new station project, the main parking lot surrounding the station will be rebuilt. The area in front of the Wall Street building, next to Erie Boulevard, is not covered by this lot improvement being done for the Amtrak project, so Metroplex approved spending $48,000 to improve this section of the lot. Metroplex will own and operate the entire lot. Gillen said, “We are pleased to be working closely with NYS DOT and Amtrak to bring this new station to downtown Schenectady.” The Board also approved $50,000 to paint the rail bridge at Erie Boulevard and Union Street. Metroplex is currently rebuilding Union Street, and so it made sense to improve the rail crossing while other upgrades were underway.The last item approved by the Board was $189,000 for upgrades to the Metroplex-owned parking garage, including a back-up generator as well as upgrades to the main entrance to the parking facility. (Progressive Railroading - posted 8/10)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT TRASH CAN FREE STATIONS PILOT YIELDS POSITIVE RESULTS: Results of the ongoing MTA New York City Transit pilot removing trash cans from a total of 39 subway stations show a significant decrease in the amount of trash bags collected from these stations. The results show a 66% reduction in the number of bags collected at Phase 1 and Phase 2 stations, and a 36% reduction in the number of bags collected at Phase 3 stations. The three phases of the pilot were effectively evaluated and the results support the pilot’s originally stated goal to improve the customer experience in stations by minimizing the number of trash bags to be stored and collected, decreasing exposed trash bags and controlling the rodent population. “This pilot appears counterintuitive but when we placed notices at the pilot stations indicating that the cans had been removed and asked the customers for their cooperation, it looks like they listened,” New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said. “Given these results, we’ll continue the pilot and monitor and collect additional data at stations.” The pilot stations have seen a reduction in trash volumes, rodent activity, as well as several other benefits. While the number of track fires at the pilot stations have remained neutral, the rate of track fires at the pilot stations is currently lower than the rate at stations with trash cans. Litter, measured by the percentage of stations with no or light litter in the morning and daytime, increased initially, but rebounded and improved later during the pilot and is currently on par with stations that have trash cans. Stations with cans with no or light litter stand at 85% while stations in the pilot without cans are hovering above 80%. “The reduction in trash in these stations reduced the number of bags to be stored and, consequently, improved the customer experience by reducing the potential bags visible to customers as well as the potential food available to rodents,” said Senior Vice President of Subways Joseph Leader. “Additionally, the significant reduction in trash reduced the need for trash pickups in the pilot stations, which freed up personnel for deployment to other stations.” The initial phase of the pilot began in two stations in October, 2011. Phase 2 added eight stations in September, 2012 and Phase 3 added 29 along the JMZ lines in July, 2014. Baseline conditions were established at each station, and station cleanliness and trash collection was monitored regularly. The decision to remove the trash cans was made in an effort to encourage customers to take with them any disposables that they carry into the system. Trash collection and removal remains a tremendous undertaking. Each day, about 40 tons of trash is removed from the system, collected from more than 3,500 trash receptacles, and approximately 50% gets recycled. Eleven refuse collection trains cover 359 out of the system’s 468 stations with the remainder visited by refuse collection trucks. The refuse collection trains compete with passenger trains for space along the tracks and their overnight movements can be hampered by system maintenance which may require the closing of line segments. New York City Transit will continue to report results of the current pilot program in a timely manner. (MTA - posted 8/07)

COMPETING PRIORITIES LED TO 2014 COLLISION BETWEEN TWO CN TRAINS IN MONTREAL, QUEBEC: Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) issued its investigation report (R14D0011) into a collision between two Canadian National (CN) trains in Montreal, Quebec. There were no injuries; however, both trains sustained damages and approximately 4000 litres of diesel fuel was spilled. On 23 February 2014, a Canadian National yard assignment train was travelling with 25 loaded cars on the freight track of the Montreal Subdivision. At about midnight, the train went through a stop signal and collided with the side of another CN train travelling on the north (adjacent) track in the opposite direction. The investigation determined that, as the yard assignment train was approaching the junction between the freight track and the north track, the rail traffic controller (RTC) initiated a radio communication with the crew requiring them to copy instructions. During the following minutes, the crew prioritized the task of copying the RTC's instructions over the operation of the train and the observation of the track and applicable signals. Consequently, the stop signal was not identified resulting in the collision. The locomotives of the yard assignment train were controlled using a remote control locomotive system called a "Beltpack." An examination into CN's Beltpack practices revealed that CN does not limit the train tonnage, length, or territory characteristics for Beltpack operations. Furthermore, even though the Montreal Subdivision presents some unique characteristics and challenges, CN has not conducted a specific risk assessment for Beltpack operations on this subdivision. The investigation concluded that, if a thorough analysis of risks is not carried out for the operation of Beltpack trains on main track, the vulnerabilities involved in this type of operation will not be identified, and appropriate mitigation measures will not be implemented to protect the public. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada - posted 8/06)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR JULY AND WEEK ENDING AUGUST 1, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for July 2015 and the first seven months of 2015. Carload traffic in July totaled 1,376,411 carloads, down 6.5 percent or 95,295 carloads from July 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,331,888 containers and trailers in July 2015, up 3.5 percent or 45,538 units from the same month last year. For July 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,708,299, down 1.8 percent or 49,757 carloads and intermodal units from July 2014. In July 2015, six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with July 2014. This included: grain, up 6.2 percent or 5,921 carloads; crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 1 percent or 1,227 carloads; and coke, up 6.1 percent or 1,176 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in July 2015 from July 2014 included: coal, down 12.5 percent or 69,519 carloads, petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.6 percent or 10,691 carloads; and primary metal products, down 13 percent or 7,167 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were down 2.8 percent or 25,776 carloads in July 2015 from July 2014. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first seven months of 2015 was 8,306,979 carloads, down 4.2 percent or 367,126 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 7,936,917 units, up 2.5 percent or 194,980 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first seven months of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 16,243,896 carloads and intermodal units, down 1 percent or 172,146 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year. "Railroads are overexposed, relative to the economy in general, to the energy sector. Put another way, changes in the energy sector are having a bigger effect on rail traffic than they are on the economy as a whole," said AAR Senior Vice President Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "For that reason, we don't think declines in overall rail carloads in recent months are necessarily reflective of fundamental weakness in the broader economy." Week Ending August 1, 2015 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending August 1, 2015 was 559,125 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 289,657 carloads, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,468 containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent compared to 2014. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 14.5 percent to 9,285 carloads; grain, up 10.4 percent to 21,402; and motor vehicles and parts, up 4.4 percent to 18,544. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.4 percent to 13,847 carloads; coal, down 11.8 percent to 102,999 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 6.9 percent to 25,964 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending August 1, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 383,764 carloads, down 4.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 340,943 intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 724,707 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 30 weeks of 2015 was 21,200,793 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.4 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 76,831 carloads for the week, down 5.2 percent, and 60,582 intermodal units, down 0.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 30 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,148,118 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,276 carloads for the week, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,893 intermodal units, down 6.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 30 weeks of 2015 was 808,779 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. . (AAR - posted 8/06)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN EVP AND CIO DEB BUTLER TO RETIRE: Deborah H. Butler, executive vice president planning and chief information officer of Norfolk Southern Corp., has announced her intention to retire effective Oct. 1, 2015, President and CEO Jim Squires said today. "Envisioning the railroad of tomorrow is one thing, actually making it happen is quite another," said Squires. "Deb's enduring contribution to Norfolk Southern is all around us in the systems and technology that literally make the railroad run, that support efficient customer service, and that provide flexibility to take advantage of growth opportunities." Butler joined Norfolk Southern in 1978 as a customer account auditor. She served in positions of increasing responsibility in operations before being named assistant vice president transportation customer services in 2000 and vice president customer service in 2002. Butler was named EVP planning and chief information officer in 2007. She has served as chairman of the board of Thoroughbred Technology and Telecommunications LLC, an NS subsidiary, and as a board member of TTX Company Inc., which provides railcars and related freight car management services to the rail industry. On the technology side, Butler's tenure at NS saw implementation of a new optimized dispatching system to improve network velocity, and significant progress toward installation of Positive Train Control systems to monitor and control trains in order to prevent certain types of accidents. On the planning side, her tenure included the successful negotiation to purchase 282 miles of Delaware and Hudson Railway Co. lines to support rail service and the economy in the Northeast.   Through service as chair of NS' Environmental Policy Council, Butler has been a key advocate of the corporation's commitment to sustainable business through improvements in locomotive fuel efficiency and emissions, energy use, land and water conservation, waste management, and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. Butler also is recognized for her work in mentoring the next generation of railroaders. She helped found WiNS (Women in Norfolk Southern), the railroad's first official employee resource group. WiNS, a networking and educational resource for NS men and women in all positions and locations, recently reached its 10th year. (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/05)

PORT AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES PROMOTION OF RAILROAD VETERAN AS NEW DIRECTOR OF PATH RAIL SYSTEM The Port Authority announced that Michael Marino - a seasoned railroad veteran with more than 40 years experience in the industry - was named the agency's new Director of Rail Transit (PATH). Mr. Marino previously served as PATH's Deputy Director since 2014, and acting Director since earlier this year. Mr. Marino - who joined the Port Authority in 2011 following a more than 30-year career with Amtrak and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) - will oversee all core functions of PATH, including rail operations, safety, security, asset management, customer service, and administration, as well as the department's Capital Program. He takes control at a time when PATH is investing significant capital to upgrade its aging signals, stations and other rail infrastructure to accommodate increasing ridership, while continuing to focus on rail safety as PATH's top priority. In the days and weeks following Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, Mr. Marino also was instrumental in PATH's recovery efforts after the system's tunnels and infrastructure were severely flooded by storm water, and has played a critical role in the ongoing rebuilding and resiliency efforts since then. "Maintaining safety for our passengers and rail system employees, while improving trans-Hudson commuting is a major priority, and I believe Mike's deep rail industry experience and leadership will be invaluable as we continue to invest in system and safety enhancements across PATH," said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. "Mike played a key role in getting PATH back in service after the rail system was devastated by Sandy, and I am confident will provide the leadership and experience PATH needs as it continues a unprecedented period of investment, while maintaining service for more than 75 million passengers who use the system each year." Before joining the Port Authority, Mr. Marino served as the Director of Force Account Construction for the MTA, overseeing the extension of the Long Island Rail Road. In 2006, he joined AECOM as Vice President of Rail Transit, Northeast Region, leading projects such as the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel Project and the Moynihan Station Development Project. In his prior career at Amtrak, Mr. Marino was Superintendant of Terminal Service, and responsible during his time at Amtrak for key elements of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project. Prior to his railroad service, Mr. Marino was a member of the United States Navy from 1968 to 1972 and served in the Naval reserves from 1972 to 1976. He spent time in various commands around the world most prominently on the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy serving one North Atlantic tour and two Mediterranean cruises during the Middle East conflicts of that period. (PANYNJ - posted 8/05)

AMTRAK OFFERING WALK-UP BIKE SERVICE FOR TRAVEL TO RICHMOND: Amtrak and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will offer walk-up bike service at select stations for passengers traveling on the Northeast Regional from Philadelphia to Richmond, Va. Tickets for this special service are now available for travel from Sept. 15 to 30; the walk-up bike feature is being offered in conjunction with the 2015 UCI Road World Championships. The enhanced service provides passengers with a way to travel to Virginia’s capital city with their bikes and without the hassles of driving and parking for the championships by allowing bikes to be handed to an Amtrak crew member and hung on a rack in the baggage cars. The service is being offered on travel from Philadelphia, Baltimore/Penn Station, Wilmington, Del., Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Va., to Richmond’s Staples Mill Road and Main Street Stations. There is a $25 bike handling fee. Staffed stations that currently have boxed bike service will continue to offer this service. Standard bike policy and charges apply on trains where applicable. Passengers must reserve their bikes by selecting “add bike” when they book their train travel. Reservations for the walk-up bike service can be made by visiting http://www.amtrak.com/UCIBikes. Reserve early as space is limited. “We have facilitated this special walk-up bike service specifically for passengers who wish to attend the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Director of DRPT. “Passengers and their bikes can disembark at both Amtrak stations in Richmond and have convenient access to all the events related to races.” “Amtrak is excited to work with the Commonwealth to offer this new bike service, providing easy and convenient transportation to the UCI World Championship,” said Jay McArthur, Amtrak Senior Manager for state corridor services. America’s Railroad® is a convenient way for families and leisure travelers to visit Richmond and other areas of Virginia to take advantage of cultural activities and events without worrying about vehicle traffic or hassles. (Amtrak- posted 8/04)

NEW HOOSIER STATE TRAIN OFFERS WI-FI, FOOD SERVICE, DOME-CAR SEATING: The Indiana Department of Transportation announces it has signed long-term passenger rail agreements with Amtrak, Iowa Pacific Holdings and on-line communities for the Hoosier State train, which operates four days per week between Chicago and Indianapolis. The Hoosier State train transitioned to the new service, commencing on August 2.
  • New amenities on board: State and local governments are contracting with the private sector to improve the service and provide new amenities, making it competitive with driving or taking the bus. Iowa Pacific will offer fresh food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages, for purchase on board. Passengers can stay productive or enjoy the journey with limited free Wi-Fi service in all passenger cars. The Hoosier State’s Wi-Fi network uses available bandwidth from cellular carriers along the tracks. One of the three Iowa Pacific passenger cars will be a unique dome lounge, which will soon house business-class seating with hot meals and drinks included. For a limited time, Hoosier State coach passengers may enjoy the dome lounge and its curved glass windows that extend overhead at no additional charge. Seats are available on a first come, first served basis, and each table generally seats four passengers. In addition, the contracts allow flexibility for possible future improvements in schedule, frequency or connecting bus service.
  • Purchase tickets: The four-days-weekly Hoosier State (Trains 850 & 851) combines with the three-days-weekly Amtrak Cardinal (Trains 50 & 51) to provide daily service between Indianapolis and Chicago. Tickets are available at amtrak.com , 800-USA-RAIL and other sales channels, including Amtrak mobile apps. Hoosier State adult coach fares range from $24 to $48 each way and are subject to discounts and two rewards programs, the Rail Baron Club and Amtrak Guest Rewards. Amtrak eTickets, paper tickets and reservations will continue to be issued, and existing tickets will be honored with no changes in fares, schedules or procedures.
  • New contracts: Under the new contracts, Amtrak will serve as the operator for the Hoosier State, work with host railroads, provide train and engine crews, and manage reservations and ticketing. Trains will continue to be operated by experienced and well-trained Amtrak crews responsible for safe operations. Each month, INDOT will pay Amtrak for its expenses not covered by ticket revenue or Amtrak will provide the state with any excess revenue. Iowa Pacific is the state’s contractor to provide the train equipment, train maintenance, food service and marketing. Iowa Pacific is one of the world’s premier providers of passenger and excursion trains with services in Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Texas, and other states. INDOT will receive 25 percent of Iowa Pacific’s operating profits for the Hoosier State. Initially INDOT anticipates paying a total of $254,527 per month and the communities of Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer, Tippecanoe County and West Lafayette would pay a combined $21,194 per month. The contracts continue through June 30, 2017, and INDOT may prolong the service with Iowa Pacific for up to four additional years. The contracts require Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings to comply with all Amtrak and Federal Railroad Administration requirements. INDOT has designated a staff member to manage contract compliance, and will retain a mechanical expert for routine inspections of the Hoosier State locomotives and railcars.
(Indiana Department of Transportation - posted 8/03)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN WHISTLE STOP SAFETY TRAIN VISITS OHIO: Norfolk Southern’s Whistle-Stop Safety Train continues its journey this week, traveling through Ohio Aug. 4-6 to deliver a life-saving message to motorists and pedestrians about staying safe around railroad tracks. The safety train, a partnership between Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver, a national rail safety public education organization, will stop in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Bellevue, Cleveland, and Alliance. The train last week traveled through South Carolina and North Carolina. “Ohio had a 21 percent increase in the number of grade crossing collisions in 2014, which underscores why this train and its message are so important for Ohioans to hear,” said Cayela Wimberly, grade crossing safety director at Norfolk Southern. “We will be talking this week to motorists, parents, school officials, photographers, rail fans, public safety officers, and others about a common sense safety message – when you see tracks, think train.” Last year, 267 people died in the U.S. in highway-rail grade crossing incidents, an increase of 16 percent compared with 2013, and deaths due to trespassing on train tracks jumped 22 percent to 526 people, according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics. Ohio had the eighth highest number of grade crossing collisions in the nation last year with 86, compared with 71 the year before. Four people died in grade crossing collisions in Ohio in 2014. Trespassing on railroad property in Ohio accounted for 13 people killed in 2014, a 38 percent drop compared with 21 fatalities in 2013. “We will remain vigilant and promote safety until that number is zero,” Wimberly said. “Trespassing on railroad property is not only illegal, it puts your life at risk. It’s not worth it.” The safety train will be pulled by NS’ newest commemorative locomotive, the NS 9-1-1, which honors first responders across Norfolk Southern’s 22-state network. The train includes two restored Pullman passenger rail cars with television monitors showing a live video feed from a camera mounted on the lead locomotive. Passengers see firsthand what engineers see from the locomotive cab. The train also includes the Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car, which showcases the benefits of rail freight transportation. “This Ohio Whistle-Stop tour is about building partnerships in our communities with people who can become safety advocates,” said Gena Shelton, state coordinator for Operation Lifesaver Ohio. “Have a conversation with your neighbors, your friends, your children about why you should obey traffic signals at grade crossings and stay away from railroad property. It could save a life.” Attendees of the Whistle-Stop tour are hearing from Ohio native Mark Kalina Jr., a double-amputee due to a train-pedestrian incident in Columbus in 2012. “People in every state need to hear this message, and I’m grateful I can be an advocate for safety here in my home state,” Kalina said. “Your safety, your life, and the lives of others are not worth risking just to save a few minutes by taking a shortcut across railroad tracks or trying to beat a train at a grade crossing.” Invited guests on the train include county and municipal leaders, state and local transportation officials, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, school transportation directors, trucking officials, news media, and others who have a vested interest in public safety. The Whistle-Stop Safety Train Schedule is:
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4: Cincinnati-Dayton-Columbus
  • Wednesday, Aug. 5: Columbus-Bellevue
  • Thursday, Aug. 6: Bellevue-Cleveland-Alliance
(NS- posted 8/03)

AMTRAK ANNOUNCES AMTRAK TRAIN DAYS TOUR AND EXHIBIT TRAIN LOCATIONS THROUGH 2015: More than 36,000 people have attended Amtrak Train Days celebrations since the official kick-off event in Chicago in May. Events continue across the country this summer at more than a dozen locations through the end of the year. Amtrak Train Days tour and Amtrak Exhibit Train stops through 2015 include:
  • Amtrak Train Days at Grand Rapids, Mich., July 25
  • Amtrak Train Days at Whitefish, Mont., August 15-16
  • Amtrak Train Days at the New York State Fair, August 27-30
  • Amtrak Train Days at Philadelphia Amtrak Station, September 19
  • Amtrak Train Days at Denver Union Station, October 3
  • Amtrak Train Days at Grand Junction, Colo., October 10
  • Amtrak Train Days at South Carolina Pecan Festival, November 7
These free events feature various components of the Amtrak experience at each location, a dedicated tour of the Amtrak Exhibit Train in select markets, interactive displays, family–friendly activities from Chuggington and other offerings from partners such as NOOK by Barnes and Noble and Operation Lifesaver. (Amtrak - posted 7/31)

MTA LIRR RELEASES DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT OF MID-SUFFOLK YARD/RONKONKOMA YARD EXPANSION PROJECT: MTA Long Island Rail Road made public a study that assesses the potential environmental impact of its proposed Mid-Suffolk Yard / Ronkonkoma Yard Expansion Project, which would enlarge the LIRR’s existing Ronkonkoma electric train yard just east of Ronkonkoma Station on land already owned by the MTA. The document explains the site-selection process undertaken by the LIRR and offers the Railroad’s evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of the project. The 37-acre project site, located along Railroad Avenue in the Town of Islip, is part of the approximately 100-acre Ronkonkoma Transportation Complex, which includes the Ronkonkoma train station, Main Line tracks, extensive parking facilities, the existing Ronkonkoma Yard, a materials storage area, sound walls and related facilities. The larger train yard is needed to support the increase in AM Peak and PM Peak ridership that is anticipated will be traveling to both Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal when the MTA LIRR’s East Side Access project is up and running in 2022. The Railroad is planning to expand its electric train fleet with new M-9 rail cars to meet that demand.
  • Proposed Action: The proposed action would enlarge the existing Ronkonkoma Yard with a new lead track and eleven additional tracks for the storage and servicing of LIRR commuter trains of up to twelve cars in length. An additional four-car track dedicated to repair work be built adjacent to a new two-car Emergency Shed. Also, a new employee facility would replace an existing facility.
  • LIRR Public Outreach Continues: The Long Island Rail Road began the public outreach process in November 2014 including mailings to nearby homes, newspaper notices and a two-day public open house on January 29 and January 30, 2014 at Ronkonkoma Station. The LIRR also conducted briefings about its plans for key stakeholders such as community groups and local elected officials and established a website http://www.mta.info/lirr/midsuffolkyard/index.htm.
(MTA - posted 7/31)

STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE ON AMTRAK SERVICE FAILURES: On July 24 Governor Chris Christie released the following statement on Amtrak’s service failures this week that impacted hundreds of thousands of New Jersey commuters and actions he is taking to demand accountability: “NJ Transit commuters were victimized by nearly an entire week of extreme delays and cancellations for one reason only: Amtrak’s indifference to New Jersey commuters and its abject neglect of the infrastructure that New Jersey and our entire region relies upon. We have tried again and again to work cooperatively with Amtrak to resolve these issues, but in the face of this repeated and unacceptable failure, I am calling on the Obama Administration and Congress to step up to their responsibility to the people of New Jersey and to the largest and most important regional infrastructure system in the nation. “I have also asked the New Jersey Attorney General to review the matter to see what recourse New Jersey has to ensure the $100 million we pay Amtrak every year for use of this critical infrastructure is being used properly. I urge Senators Booker and Menendez to join me in holding Amtrak accountable for doing their job and demanding a plan of action to immediately and fully fix these issues.” (NJ.gov - posted 7/25)

STEWARTSTOWN RAILROAD AND THE MA & PA TO OFFER COMBO TICKETS: The Stewartstown Railroad and the Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village are joining forces on Sunday, August 9th 2015, to celebrate the heritage of short line railroads in southeastern York County.   For this special Short Line Sunday event, they will offer a reduced price combination ticket to visit and ride the trains at both railroads. The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad, affectionately known as the Ma & Pa, began life as the narrow gauge Peach Bottom Railroad that connected York to Delta in the mid-1870s.  The Stewartstown Railroad, often called "the farmer's railroad" was constructed from New Freedom to Stewartstown in 1885.  Before automobiles and paved roads, railroads like these were essential lifelines in rural areas.  They were built with the enthusiastic backing of local people who bought railroad stock and often donated right of way to satisfy their longing for reliable transportation and access to broader markets for their agricultural products. Today, the Stewartstown Railroad and the Ma & Pa Heritage Village are preserving the history of these short line railroads for a new generation. The 130-year-old Stewartstown Railroad operates under its original corporate charter and its original line is intact.  The historic station at Stewartstown is open to visitors and excursion trains are run over a portion of the line as volunteers work to rehabilitate additional track.  At Muddy Creek Forks, the Ma & Pa Heritage Village is a museum that depicts the role of the railroad in life a century ago.  Motorcar excursion trains run a 5.4 mile round trip through the scenic Muddy Creek Valley on the original Ma & Pa main line, and costumed docents welcome visitors to the A. M. Grove General Store, Muddy Creek Forks Roller Mills, grain elevator, and exhibits about the railroad and village. “We’re very excited to be able to work with the Ma &Pa on this” said Dave Williamson, President of the Stewartstown Railroad. “York County has a rich railroad heritage, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”  According to Ma and Pa President Craig Sansonetti, “We look forward to being a part of this special event. The Ma & Pa and Stewartstown have been serving the people of southern York County for more than a hundred years, and a day like this gives them a good opportunity to ride our lines once again.” Short Line Sunday combination tickets will sell for just $10 at the railroad stations in Stewartstown and Muddy Creek Forks and are good for train rides at both sites.  Trains will depart from Stewartstown at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30.  Trains will depart from Muddy Creek Forks at 1:15, 2:15, 3:15, and 4:15.  Travel time between the two sites is approximately 20 minutes. (Michael Ruane - posted 7/25)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN DECLARE QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: Norfolk Southern Corporation today announced the regular quarterly dividend of 59 cents per share on its common stock, payable on Sept. 10 to stockholders of record on Aug. 7. Since its inception in 1982, Norfolk Southern has paid dividends on its common stock for 132 consecutive quarters. ( Norfolk Southern - posted 7/24)

SEPTA RECORDS RECORD REGIONAL RIDERSHIP: SEPTA has marked its 16th consecutive year of operating with a balanced budget, according to year-end data from Fiscal Year 2015, which was the 12-month period from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. SEPTA also achieved record ridership on Regional Rail in FY 2015. To balance the budget, SEPTA carefully managed expenses throughout the year, including continuing aggressive efforts to combat fraudulent lawsuits. Other initiatives, such as a wayside storage program that utilizes regenerative braking on rail cars, are helping control energy costs. SEPTA achieved record high Regional Rail ridership in FY 2015 with 37.4 million trips - an increase of more than 2 percent compared to FY 2014. Overall, the Authority's ridership of 330 million trips was approximately the same as the previous year, and is the fifth highest total within the last 25 years. Regional Rail ridership is a significant part of the upward trend on all SEPTA modes of travel in recent years. System-wide, total annual trips are up by approximately 40 million since 2006; Regional Rail ridership has increased by more than 50 percent over the last 17 years, from 24.8 million in 1998 to last year's 37.4 million. "SEPTA is thrilled to continue to welcome new riders to the system," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "We look forward to delivering further enhancements for our customers with long-needed capital improvements that are now underway." SEPTA's "Rebuilding for the Future" program is tackling the Authority's $5 billion backlog of state of good repair projects, including work on core infrastructure such as power substations, bridges, track, maintenance facilities and passenger stations. SEPTA embarked on this capital program following the November 2013 passage of Act 89, Pennsylvania's long-term, statewide transportation funding solution. (SEPTA - posted 7/24)

CSX, CAPITAL TREES AND THE CITY OF RICHMOND PARTER TO CREATE THE LOW LINE: CSX, Capital Trees, and the City of Richmond have signed agreements to begin the creation of the Low Line, a 5.5 acre environmental and beautification project along Dock Street adjacent to the Virginia Capital Trail, on the historic James River and Kanawha Canal. CSX, which owns the rail trestle that runs along the planned beautification area into downtown Richmond, is donating $100,000 to support the project. "Rarely does an opportunity to do something so transformative present itself," said Jeanette McKittrick, chairman of Capital Trees' board of trustees. "The Low Line is the uncommon event where the necessary elements of timing, circumstance, will, and ability come together to recast a place of great historic, environmental, cultural and economic interest. It is Capital Trees' vision to help Richmond live up to its stunningly beautiful natural gifts, to work harder to protect the James River, and to work harder, think harder, about landscapes and streetscapes. We're very grateful that CSX and the City of Richmond have the vision to see the importance of this project and have joined in as true collaborators."  Mayor Dwight C. Jones expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, "I am pleased that this partnership will enhance the beauty of the City's riverfront as well as the Virginia Capital Trail.  Creative partnerships among the City, corporate partners like CSX, and volunteer non-profits like Capital Trees are taking the Richmond resurgence to the next level."  Project plans for the Low Line include enhancing the area between the Capital Trail and CSX's rail trestles along the James River and Kanawha Canal, removing invasive weeds and creating an attractive landscape with primarily native trees, shrubs and perennials, along with storm water mitigation amenities, educational signage and space for interpretive public art.  The Low Line takes creative inspiration from the High Line, an elevated unused CSX railway viaduct running through Manhattan that was transformed into a beautiful urban garden. The Low Line concept is the creation of Capital Trees, which is responsible for the project's design, funding and execution. Site preparation is underway and partial completion is expected prior to the UCI World Championships in September. In addition to the CSX and City of Richmond donations, the project has attracted significant support from The Cabell Foundation, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the Roller-Bottimore Foundation, the Rock Foundation, the Garden Club of Virginia, and individual donors. "CSX aims to be a positive influence on the communities where we live and work, especially in the areas of environmental sustainability and preservation," said Bryan Rhode, regional vice president - state government affairs in Virginia. "Richmond is a key part of our company's history and our business today - including the nexus of three transportation networks, important rail and transfer facilities, and critical access to the Port of Virginia - so we're proud to be able to support the exciting Low Line initiative." (CSX - posted 7/23)

MTA FINANCIAL PLAN GENERATES NEW CAPITAL PROGRAM FUNDING: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that its July 2015 Financial Plan will generate up to $2.4 billion worth of new funding for the 2015-19 Capital Program, thanks to unanticipated revenues, greater cost savings and more efficient operations. This self-funded investment allows the MTA to reduce the $14 billion funding gap in the $32 billion Capital Program, which outlines the next five years’ worth of vital investments to renew, enhance and expand the MTA network. The new Financial Plan released today also devotes financial resources to new service investments and customer service enhancements, which will improve the experience of subway, bus and railroad customers at a time of surging ridership. “The MTA has cut more than $1.3 billion from our ongoing expenses this year, and we are on track to bring our annual savings to almost $1.8 billion by 2019,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Our fiscal discipline makes real improvements possible for our more than 8.5 million daily customers, and allows us to invest in the future of the MTA network through our Capital Program.” The Financial Plan assumes $125 million in new annual contributions to pay-as-you-go capital, as well as an additional $75 million one-time contribution in 2015, for a total of $700 million over the 2015-19 plan period. Over the expected eight-year expenditure period, these funds would generate $1.1 billion in pay-as-you-go Capital Program funding, or would provide $2.4 billion in new capital funding if also used to pay debt service. “The additional funding we have announced today is a significant self-funded contribution to our extensive capital needs, but it still falls well short of what is necessary to keep our network in a state of good repair, much less to improve its operations and expand its reach,” Prendergast said. “We hope our careful budgeting and innovative planning show our commitment to our Capital Program as we work with our city, state and federal funding partners to fully fund those needs.” Major drivers of the positive change from the 2015-18 February Financial Plan include $401 million in new real estate transaction tax receipts, $348 million in reduced pension expenses, $331 million in energy savings, $212 million in increased fare and toll revenues, and $172 million from better-than-expected financial performance in 2014. Those favorable re-estimates were partially offset by higher costs including $227 million for new operation and maintenance investments and $124 million for information technology. The new Financial Plan includes funding for service investments and enhancements over the five-year plan period, including $28 million for additional subway and bus service to better serve a growing ridership; $62 million for more Select Bus Service routes in New York City; $79 million for more operations and maintenance staff to reduce subway delays; $2 million for additional Staten Island Railway service; and $4 million for new investments in customer service and communication on Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road. Those service investments total $20 million in 2015, and rise to total of $183 million over the 2015-19 period in the Financial Plan. They are in addition to $129 million in annually recurring service investments that have been added since 2012, which have brought additional bus, subway and railroad service throughout the MTA service area. The new Financial Plan holds the line on future fare and toll increases to approximately the rate of inflation through the end of the Plan period in 2019. It assumes fare and toll increases of 4% in 2017 and in 2019, consistent with the 4% increase which took effect earlier in 2015. No additional fare or toll increases are contemplated in the Financial Plan, which remains balanced through 2017 with manageable deficits anticipated in the years to follow. (MTA - posted 7/22)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 18, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 18, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 551,181 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending July 18, 2015 were 277,331 carloads, down 7.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 273,850 containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent compared to 2014. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 6.3 percent to 9,337 carloads; farm products, up 1.4 percent to 16,052 carloads; and chemicals, up 1.1 percent to 30,057 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.2 percent to 13,335 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 11.7 percent to 24,698 carloads; and coal, down 11.6 percent to 99,975 carloads. For the first 28 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,730,662 carloads, down 4.1 percent from the same point last year; and 7,396,497 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 28 weeks of 2015 was 15,127,159 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.9 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending July 18, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 370,609 carloads, down 7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 347,284 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 717,893 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 28 weeks of 2015 was 19,749,092 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.3 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 76,320 carloads for the week, down 7.8 percent, and 62,638 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 28 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,869,830 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,958 carloads for the week, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,796 intermodal units, down 7.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 28 weeks of 2015 was 752,103 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent from the same point last year. . (AAR - posted 7/22)

CANADIAN PACIFIC SECOND QUARTER RESULTS: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP.TO) (CP) issued the following statement in response to questions from investors and to address inaccurate speculation concerning the recent board resignations and the health of CEO E. Hunter Harrison: On July 3, 2015, CP director Stephen Tobias notified CP Board Chairman Gary Colter that he was prepared to resign from the board at a date of the board's choosing. In consultation with Krystyna Hoeg, the Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee, Mr. Colter caused the company to issue a press release stating that Mr. Tobias had resigned from the board as of June 29, 2015. The company has subsequently corrected this error. Mr. Colter caused this press release to be issued without consulting with the board and without seeking board action to accept Mr. Tobias' offer to resign. Because Mr. Tobias was a continuing director of the company through June 30, a majority of CP's directors were U.S. citizens, and thus CP is no longer eligible for the SEC's Foreign Private Issuer Exemption and will become a U.S. Issuer beginning in 2016. The CP board is committed to the highest standards of corporate governance, and strives to be exemplary in this respect. Consistent with this philosophy, Mr. Colter and Ms. Hoeg offered to resign in light of how this issue was handled. The board unanimously accepted their resignations. Concerning Mr. Harrison's health, Mr. Harrison recently had stents implanted in order to improve circulation and reduce cramping in his legs. In addition, Mr. Harrison is recovering from a mild bout of pneumonia which has restricted his travel. His full recovery is expected in the coming weeks. He remains actively engaged in the company's business, but elected not to travel to Calgary to participate in this morning's earnings call. (Canadian Pacific - posted 7/21)

CANADIAN PACIFIC CLARIFIES CHANGES TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) today announced the highest-ever net income for the second quarter and the lowest operating ratio for the period in the company's history. Net income rose to a record quarterly high of $390 million, or $2.36 per diluted share, an improvement of 12 percent. Adjusted earnings per share gained 16 percent to $2.45. Revenues were little changed at $1.65 billion. "CP remains disciplined during this period of economic uncertainty in identifying opportunities to control costs and improve efficiency to offset near-term headwinds," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "CP's achievement on the bottom line came even as a sluggish North American recovery and stubborn global economic softness weighed on commodity prices, forcing producers to reduce output and cut shipments." SECOND-QUARTER 2015 HIGHLIGHTS
  • Operating income climbed 10 percent to $646 million
  • OR fell to a second-quarter record 60.9 percent, a 420-basis-point improvement
  • Adjusted earnings per share advanced 16 percent to $2.45
"Even in the face of this economic slowdown, CP's commitment to providing the best service at the lowest cost will continue to serve us well moving forward," Harrison said. "The positive CP story is based on a business model that allows for flexibility - we are nimble, efficient, and able to respond to the ever-changing economic climate." UPDATED FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS FOR 2015 The company expects revenue growth to be 2-3 percent, operating ratio to be below 62 percent, and 2015 annual adjusted diluted EPS of $10.00 to $10.40. Key assumptions for the updated full year 2015 financial expectations include:
  • Canadian to U.S. dollar average exchange rate of $1.25
  • An effective income tax rate (excluding discrete items) of 27.5 percent
  • Defined benefit pension expense of approximately $35 million, compared with 2014 pension income of $52 million
  • Capital expenditures of approximately $1.5 billion
  • Average On Highway Diesel ("OHD") price of U.S. $2.80-$2.90
  • Current share repurchase plan expected to be completed by calendar year-end
Further, CP will no longer be exempt from the regular SEC reporting requirements in 2016 because a majority of its board was comprised of U.S. citizens or residents as of June 30, 2015 (the relevant date for determining foreign private issuer status for U.S. SEC reporting purposes in 2016). This follows a determination that the resignation of Stephen Tobias from the board occurred on July 3, 2015. (CP - posted 7/21)

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR BAKER APPOINTS 5 MEMBER MBTA FISCAL MANAGEMENT & CONTROL BOARD: Governor Charlie Baker today appointed the five-member Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB) and designated Joe Aiello as Chair immediately after signing into law the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. A key reform recommended by the Governor's MBTA Special Panel following unprecedented winter weather that crippled service at the MBTA, the FMCB is set to begin working immediately, holding its first meeting on Tuesday, July 21st. "Fixing the MBTA will be a complex task, but moving forward with a Fiscal Management and Control Board dedicated solely to the T's operations and finances is an important step toward delivering accountability for taxpayers and riders," said Governor Baker. "I want to thank the legislature for putting this board in place with other measures that will allow us to begin fixing the T. I especially want to thank the five talented individuals who have agreed to serve in this crucial capacity, and who bring decades of combined experience and different but complementary perspectives as they get to work fixing the status quo at the MBTA, and begin the process of delivering a world-class public transit system that the people of Massachusetts can be proud of, and deserve." "By signing this bill into law we now have two crucial tools to begin fixing the MBTA, a dedicated group focused solely on the T and new tools that will allow the MBTA to operate more reliable services, repair critical infrastructure and explore more efficient ways to serve our riders," said MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack. "Board members will be meeting on Tuesday, along with the expanded MassDOT Board, for briefings that will help them quickly begin their work to get the MBTA back on track." Governor Baker appointed in February a Special Panel to carry out an extensive analysis of the underlying functions of the MBTA's governance, finances and capital planning which became apparent throughout historic snowfall and persistent freezing temperatures earlier this year. Among the panel's recommendations were the call for a FMCB to assume control of the MBTA, a reconstituted Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors, lifting of efficiency restrictions at the MBTA, and a separation of the MBTA's capital and operating budgets among a number of recommendations. By statute, the MBTA FMCB will consist of five members, one with experience in transportation finance, one with experience in mass transit operations and three members of the MassDOT Board. Lisa Calise, Steve Poftak and Monica Tibbits-Nutt will also be serving roles on the MassDOT Board. The Chair is appointed by the Secretary of Transportation. (MBTA - posted 7/20)

MTA MOVES FORWARD WITH QUEENS BLVD. LINE SIGNAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today gave preliminary approval to two contracts totaling $205.8 million to Siemens Industry Inc. and Thales Transport & Security for the installation of a Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signaling system on the Queens Boulevard Line, one of New York City Transit’s busiest subway lines. The signaling system, which is currently in operation on the Canarsie L Subway Line and being installed on the Flushing 7 Subway Line, enables the MTA to address overcrowding and record subway ridership by operating subway trains more closely together, adding passenger capacity to the century-old subway system. CBTC allows NYC Transit to operate more trains per hour, thereby increasing passenger capacity; provide improved and more reliable service; and make more efficient use of its track and car fleet. The system is more flexible than the current block signals system because CBTC continuously updates train positions, distances and travel speeds, allowing for faster and more efficient operations. Continuous updates allow the subway system to recover quickly from delays and restore consistent wait times at subway stations. The installation of CBTC will keep the signaling system in a state of good repair and will also enhance safety for customers and employees alike. With CBTC, NYC Transit can program a work zone so trains cannot exceed a set speed, making the work zone much safer for workers on the tracks. The signals system also can provide real-time travel information that can be shared with customers on public address systems and electronic screens such as countdown clocks or data-driven mobile apps. CBTC will be installed on local and express tracks serving the E, F, M, and R Subway lines from north of the Kew Gardens/Union Tpke E and F Subway station to north of the 47-50 Sts/Rockefeller Ctr station on the FM Lines and south of the 50 St C and E station. It is the first phase in a project that will ultimately update the signaling system for the entire Queens Boulevard Line. QBL West Phase 1 represents a change from MTA’s other CBTC projects, which have been installed on single subway lines such as the L and 7 Subway Line . QBL West Phase 1 encompasses four subway lines with multiple train overlays. “The communications-based train control signaling system is a vital part of our plan to address issues of overcrowding, record ridership and service delays,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “CBTC represents the MTA’s efforts to bring advanced technology to a century-old subway system that, in some parts, has not been updated in decades. On the L Subway Line where CBTC has been installed for several years now, we have seen improved service and we have been able to increase capacity significantly. Once we’re done installing 7 Subway Line. CBTC on the Line, those customers will also benefit from similarly improved and increased service, and the Queens Boulevard project is a continuation of our efforts to make those improvements system-wide.” Design work on QBL West Phase 1 is estimated to begin later in 2015, with major installation work estimated to start in mid-2017. Once complete, NYC Transit will be able to run more frequent subway service with fewer delays, which will be a major benefit to E, F, M and R Subway line customers who commute to some of Queens’ most populated neighborhoods, major commercial destinations, and areas in Central Queens that are undergoing significant residential and commercial development. On the 7 Subway Line, ridership has increased by 27 percent since CBTC was installed in 2007; capacity also is expected to increase on the 7 Subway Line once CBTC becomes operational in 2017. The Transit Committee of the MTA Board approved the 67-month contracts to Siemens Industry Inc. and Thales Transport & Security Inc., currently the only two MTA-qualified vendors for CBTC projects. The Siemens contract is for approximately $156.2 million; the Thales contract is for $49.6 million. It also approved a separate $1.2 million contract for Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. to develop and test CBTC software and systems with the goal of qualifying an additional supplier for future CBTC projects. This process widens the pool of vendors to compete for such projects and increases the potential for cost savings for the MTA. These contracts are scheduled to be considered by the full MTA Board on Wednesday. They will be fully funded by the MTA, with portions funded by the 2010-2014 Capital Program and other existing programs. Integral portions such as car and wayside equipment installation are scheduled to be funded in the 2015-2019 Capital Program. (MTA- posted 7/20)

CANADIAN NATIONAL'S SECOND QUARTER RESULTS: Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: "I'm proud of our very solid second-quarter results, driven by the team's swift action to recalibrate resources and double-down on efficiency, while continuing to improve customer service. "CN is pleased to reaffirm its outlook for double-digit adjusted EPS growth in 2015 versus last year's adjusted diluted EPS of C$3.76 despite volume growth that remains constrained by weakness in several markets, as well as challenging year-over-year comparables. (2) "We're focused on our long-term agenda and investing C$2.7 billion in CN's capital program this year to support it, with an emphasis on the integrity and safety of the network." Foreign currency impact on results Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. The fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar affects the conversion of the Company's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses. On a constant currency basis, CN's net income for the second quarter of 2015 would have been lower by C$64 million, or C$0.08 per diluted share. (1) Second-quarter 2015 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses Revenues for the second quarter of 2015 were flat at C$3,125 million. Revenues increased for automotive (17 per cent), forest products (eight per cent), petroleum and chemicals (four per cent), and intermodal (two per cent). Revenues declined for metals and minerals (five per cent), grain and fertilizers (seven per cent), and coal (26 per cent).The revenue performance was mainly attributable to the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; freight rate increases; and strong overseas intermodal demand and higher volumes of finished vehicle traffic. These factors were almost entirely offset by a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate; lower volumes of Canadian grain versus the prior year's record crop; decreased shipments of coal due to weaker global demand; reduced shipments of energy-related commodities, including crude oil, frac sand, and drilling pipe; as well as lower volumes of semi-finished steel products and iron ore. Carloadings for the quarter declined by three per cent to 1,414 thousand. Revenue ton-miles, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, declined by seven per cent over the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per revenue ton-mile, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, increased by seven per cent over the year-earlier period, driven by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar and freight rate increases, partly offset by a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate and an increase in the average length of haul. Operating expenses for the quarter decreased by five per cent to C$1,763 million, mainly due to lower fuel costs and lower labor and fringe benefits expense, partly offset by the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses as well as increased purchased services and material expense. (CN- posted 7/20)

SPECIAL ONE-DAY REGIONAL RAIL PASSES REQUIRED FOR SEPT. 26 AND 27, DURING PAPAL VISIT: One-day passes for Regional Rail travel during the Papal Visit will go on sale next Monday, July 20 at 9 a.m., SEPTA announced. The passes will be sold online through a new e-commerce website that will launch when the pass sales begin. SEPTA is limiting the number of passes that will be sold, and requiring pre-purchase of the passes, to keep crowd numbers consistent with the capacity that will be available on Regional Rail trains. During the Papal Visit on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, SEPTA will double capacity by modifying Regional Rail operations, in an effort to accommodate travel demand. A total of just 18 outlying Regional Rail stations will be in operation. All other stations will be closed during the weekend. This will allow SEPTA to run express-type inbound-only service in the morning to the events, and outbound-only service afterwards. The Airport Line, however, will operate modified inbound and outbound service throughout the weekend. More information about Airport Line service will be announced in the coming weeks. All riders using Regional Rail on Sept. 26 and 27 - including regular SEPTA customers and visitors - will be required to pre-purchase a special one-day Papal Visit Pass. No other fare instruments, such as TrailPasses, will be accepted. Papal Visit Pass purchases are non-refundable. SEPTA has made some minor adjustments to the Regional Rail Papal Visit operations plan first announced in June. The Levittown Station has been added on the Trenton Line, and the Pennbrook Station has replaced the Lansdale Station on the Lansdale/Doylestown Line. Event drop-off locations in Center City have also been added. SEPTA will operate to/from Jefferson, 30th Street and University City Stations during the two-day Papal Visit. Riders will then have to walk to the events. Afterwards, riders must board at the same Center City Station where they were dropped off for return service to their outlying station. Below are the Regional Rail lines and outlying stations that will be in operation, listed by their Center City drop-off/boarding station: Jefferson Station
  • -Norristown/Manayunk Line - Norristown Transportation Center
  • -Lansdale/Doylestown Line - Pennbrook and Fort Washington Stations
  • -Warminster Line - Warminster Station
  • -West Trenton Line - Woodbourne Station
  • -Fox Chase Line - Fox Chase Station
  • -Airport Line - Terminal A/B, Terminal C/D
30th Street Station
  • -Paoli/Thorndale Line - Paoli and Radnor Stations
  • -Chesnut Hill West Line - Chestnut Hill West Station
  • -Trenton Line - Levittown and Croydon/Cornwells Heights Stations
  • -Wilmington/Newark Line Wilmington and Marcus Hook Stations
University City Station
  • -Airport Line - Eastwick Station
  • -Media/Elwyn Line - Media and Primos Stations
A limited number of One Day Regional Rail Passes will be available for sale for each station starting at 9 a.m. Monday, July 20. Each One Day Pass will cost $10, and will be valid for one passenger. Standard shipping fees apply. Up to 10 passes can be purchased in one transaction through the e-commerce site. Those planning to travel on Saturday and Sunday will need to purchase passes for both days. All passengers travelling on Regional Rail during these days will have to purchase a Papal Pass, including seniors and children over the age of 5. Customers with a valid PA Disability Transit ID Card or Medicare Card can purchase reduced fare passes through the e-commerce site for $5; they will then be required to show their valid ID along with the Papal Pass at the time of boarding. Reduced fare pass sales will be limited to a single purchase. Service will operate from the outlying stations to Center City from 5:30 a.m. to noon both days. To help alleviate congestion and enhance safety, SEPTA will have two travel slots, the first from 5:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m., the second 8:30 a.m.-noon at each station except Cornwells Heights and Croydon. Cornwells Heights will be open during the early slot from 5:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m., and Croydon from 8:30 a.m.-noon. When customers purchase the One Day Regional Rail Passes, they must select their outlying station and time slot. The name of the station will be printed on the back of the pass. It will be valid only for travel from the specified outlying station during the selected time slot, and for travel from Center City back to that station after the Papal Visit events. All riders using Regional Rail on Sept. 26 and 27 will be required to pre-purchase these passes. No other fares, passes or cash, will be accepted. Pass purchases are non-refundable. A link to the e-commerce site for One Day Regional Rail Passes will be posted on this website when passes go on sale Monday, July 20. The same site will be used for the sales of a special three-day Papal Visit transit pass, which will go on sale starting Monday, July 27. The special three-day Papal Visit transit pass will be valid for travel on all SEPTA subways, buses and trolleys from Saturday, Sept. 26 through Monday, Sept. 28. Customers can also use tokens, transfers and weekly and monthly passes on subways, buses and trolleys. SEPTA is urging customers planning to use rail service for Papal Visit travel to arrange to be dropped off at or near their station. Parking will be limited at SEPTA stations and surrounding locations, and spots are expected to fill up quickly both days. SEPTA will continued to provide Papal Visit travel information and updates as additional information is available. (SEPTA - posted 7/17)

STEAM IN THE CATSKILLS 2015 The Catskill Mountain Railroad is proud to host the Viscose #6 Steam Engine on August 8th and 9th, 2015. #6 will be pulling our trains in Mt. Tremper on Saturday and Sunday. The New York Central Railroad dieselized the Catskill Mountain Branch in 1949, this will be the first time a steam locomotive has operated on the line since then! Special pricing applies. To reserve tickets, visit: cmrrevents.com . (Dan Howard - posted 7/16)

SEPTA TROLLEY TUNNEL TO CLOSE FOR TROLLEY TUNNEL BLITZ: Due to power, track and station improvement projects, SEPTA Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 will not operate in the Center City tunnel from 10 p.m. on Friday, July 31 through 4 a.m. on Monday, August 17. Trolley service will begin and end at 40th and Market Streets; trolleys will use their alternate diversion service routing to connect to SEPTA's Market-Frankford Line at 40th and Market Streets. Trolley passengers can board the Market-Frankford Line at 40th Street Station for travel to and from Center City, as the repair work will not affect that service. This is the third consecutive summer SEPTA has held the Trolley Tunnel Blitz. During this year's 16-day tunnel closure, SEPTA's in-house Engineering, Maintenance & Construction Division crews will build on last year's accomplishments and work around-the-clock on key maintenance and construction tasks to improve safety and service reliability. "The Center City tunnel is a five-mile, single loop track operation that is used 24-hours a day, making it difficult for our crews to get productive work windows. Without the 16-day closure, we'd have months of nighttime and weekend shutdowns to complete all of the projects," said SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel."The Trolley Tunnel Blitz allows us to maximize productivity during improvements projects while minimizing the period of inconvenience to passengers and communities we serve, especially because we hold the Blitz when our ridership is at its lowest." Members of SEPTA's Track Department will replace almost 7,500 feet (more than one mile) of track on the westbound side of the tunnel between 22nd Street Station and the 40th Street Portal. Other work that will be completed during the trolley closure includes: replacing eastbound protection board (a part of the system attaching overhead wire to the tunnel ceiling); making numerous station repairs and improvements, including renewed stairs and platforms at 13th and 19th Street Stations; continuing replacement of florescent lighting with high-efficiency LED lighting at all stations; installing additional LED lighting within the track area around the 13th Street Station curve; repairing and clearing track drains throughout the tunnel, reducing standing water; performing maintenance tasks including graffiti removal, tile repair, painting, drain clearing and heavy cleaning at all stations; and testing emergency generators and lighting throughout the tunnel. SEPTA's Trolley Tunnel Blitz is part of the Authority's "Rebuilding for the Future" . capital program and funded through Pennsylvania Act 89. (SEPTA - posted 7/16)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 11, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 11, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 534,097 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending July 11, 2015 were 271,494 carloads, down 6.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 262,603 containers and trailers, up 2.4 percent compared to 2014. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: grain, up 8.1 percent to 18,500 carloads; farm products, up 2.7 percent to 16,967 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 0.5 percent to 8,235 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.9 percent to 12,882 carloads; coal, down 10.5 percent to 95,318 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 8.3 percent to 36,760 carloads. For the first 27 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,453,331 carloads, down 4 percent from the same point last year; and 7,122,647 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 27 weeks of 2015 was 14,575,978 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.9 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending July 11, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,004 carloads, down 6.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 335,703 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 698,707 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 27 weeks of 2015 was 19,031,199 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.2 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 75,213 carloads for the week, down 9.1 percent, and 62,815 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 27 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,730,872 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,297 carloads for the week, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,285 intermodal units, down 0.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 27 weeks of 2015 was 724,349 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 7/16)

NJ TRANSIT ADOPTS FISCAL YEAR 2016 OPERATING AND CAPITAL BUDGETS: The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today adopted a Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) operating budget and capital program that supports continued investments in infrastructure and equipment to maintain the system in a state of good repair and enhance the overall customer experience. The board also adopted a fare and service plan which includes an average 9% increase in fares, with no customer paying more than 9.4% after rounding, and modest changes for rail and bus service. “NJ TRANSIT is moving forward with a balanced budget that reflects a laser-like look at individual business lines in order to maximize efficiencies and maintain a safe transportation system,” NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, said. “As transit professionals, we owed our customers and stakeholders a good-faith effort to present them a solid plan that had the least impact on our riders. After much hard work, I am confident we delivered on that.” The Board adopted a $2.116 billion operating budget and a $2.099 billion capital program for the fiscal year that started July 1, 2015. Nearly half of the revenue in the FY 2016 operating budget comes from fares ($1.005 billion), supported by a comparable amount from state and federal program reimbursements ($961.8 million) with the balance from a combination of commercial revenues ($115.2 million) and state operating assistance ($33.2 million). The capital program funds continued state-of-good-repair investments in transit stations and infrastructure supports an ongoing fleet modernization program and advances service reliability, safety and technology initiatives.
  • Operating Budget The FY 2016 operating budget reflects an increase of state funding along with a stable level of federal and other reimbursements, which will enable NJ TRANSIT to meet the agency’s projected expenses this fiscal year. Approximately 59 percent of the operating budget is dedicated to labor and fringe benefits costs. Other significant expenses include contracted transportation services, fuel and power and materials, which together comprise approximately 27 percent of the operating budget. This year’s operating budget reflects a $76.7 million (8.3 percent) growth in passenger revenue, based on the fare adjustment and ridership trends. Overall passenger revenue and commercial revenue represents approximately 53 percent of the total FY 2016 operating program.
  • Capital Program The FY 2016 capital program continues to prioritize investment in infrastructure to maintain an overall state of good repair, enhance safety and reliability, and improve the overall customer experience on the system. The program continues to invest in upgrades to the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the agency’s most utilized rail line. The NEC is allocated $61 million in FY 2016 as part of NJ TRANSIT’s ten-year, $1 billion Northeast Corridor investment program. Highlights of the program include $82 million in rail station improvements: $27 million for Summit Station improvements, $14 million for Elizabeth Station enhancements, $6 million for Perth Amboy Station improvements and high-level platform construction, $4 million for Newark Penn Station upgrades, $4 million to reconstruct Lyndhurst Station to make it accessible to persons with disabilities and $2 million for New Brunswick Station improvements. The program also supports continued investment in rolling stock renewal, with $87 million invested in rail rolling stock improvements and $40 million toward the purchase of new buses. In addition, the program is undertaking approximately $913 million in major capital projects that will help advance NJ TRANSIT’s resiliency to extreme weather events. NJ TRANSITGRID, which will serve as an electrical micro-grid capable of supplying highly reliable power when the centralized power grid is compromised, is being funded through this effort as well as other projects including Delco Lead Train Safe Haven Storage and Service Restoration, Hoboken Long Slip Fill and Rail Enhancement, Train Controls Resiliency, and Raritan River Drawbridge Replacement. Funding is also provided for technology and security upgrades, local programs, and rail, bus and light rail infrastructure improvements. Approximately 42 percent of the capital budget comes from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Sandy Resiliency funds, with the balance coming from federal and other sources including 22% from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).
  • Fare and Service Adjustments Throughout the past five years, NJ TRANSIT held the line on fare increases while maintaining high quality services and implementing new customer amenities including MyTix, Departurevision, and MyBus Now. However, costs such as contract services – Access Link, the organization’s paratransit service, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and private carriers – and workers’ compensation, general liability insurance, healthcare and benefits, and pensions have steadily risen. As a result, NJ TRANSIT was left with a significant budget gap. Although NJ TRANSIT identified more than $40 million in reductions in overtime, fuel savings, energy and vehicle parts efficiencies, the agency still faced an approximate $56 million budget gap for the 2016 fiscal year. To close the gap, fare and service adjustments were proposed and now approved. The fare adjustment will go into effect on October 1st.
(NJ Transit - posted 7/15)

CSX CORPORATION ANNOUNCES ALL-TIME RECORD QUARTERLY FINANCIAL RESULTS: CSX Corporation announced financial results for the second quarter of 2015, including net earnings of $553 million, or an all-time record $0.56 per share, an increase from $529 million, or $0.53 per share, in the second quarter of 2014. Revenue declined 6 percent, as pricing gains were more than offset by the impact of lower fuel recovery, a 1 percent volume decline and changing business mix. At the same time, continued low fuel prices and savings from efficiency initiatives reduced expenses by 9 percent. As a result, CSX delivered record operating income of more than $1 billion for the quarter and a record-low operating ratio of 66.8 percent.  "While we saw challenges in a number of markets, CSX employees delivered an even safer, more reliable and more differentiated service product this quarter," said Michael J. Ward, chairman and chief executive officer. "We expect the momentum in network performance we saw in the second quarter to accelerate, continuing to create value for our customers and shareholders."  CSX expects to deliver mid-to-high single digit earnings per share growth for 2015, although the upper end of that range has become more challenging given the current energy environment.  With low natural gas prices and high inventory levels continuing to reduce utility coal demand, CSX now expects domestic coal volume to decline by approximately 10 percent for 2015 and the outlook for export coal volume remains approximately 30 million tons for the year. The company also expects meaningful margin expansion as it progresses towards a full-year operating ratio in the mid-60s longer term. (CSX - posted 7/14)

CMQ DISMAYED BY UNAUTHORIZED INSPECTION OF ITS TRACKS NEAR LAC-MEGANTIC, QUEBEC: Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQ) was dismayed to learn through the media of an unauthorized "inspection" of its tracks yesterday near Lac-Mégantic, Que. With the exception of Transport Canada, CMQ has not authorized any third-party to inspect any portion of its railway. Walking near or around railway property is not only illegal, it is extremely dangerous. Trespassers pose a serious risk to themselves and to the safety of railway operations. "We had train crews working in that very area yesterday; a live, active main track. That raises questions about the actual concern for safety and competence of the so-called rail 'expert' involved in this trespassing incident," said Ryan Ratledge, CMQ's Chief Operating Officer. CMQ celebrated its first anniversary of operations in Quebec on June 30, 2015. Over the last twelve months, the company has invested more than $20 million in track safety and other infrastructure enhancements. CMQ has further demonstrated its commitment to safety by volunteering to be the first Railway Association of Canada (RAC) member to undergo an RAC-led safety culture assessment. Through this process, all CMQ staff – management, supervisors and tradespeople – have been surveyed using a new safety culture assessment tool developed in consultation with Transport Canada's Railway Research Advisory Board. CMQ is also developing a plan to foster and maintain a positive safety culture. CMQ continues to work closely with Lac-Mégantic Mayor Collette Roy-Laroche and her leadership team, and is committed to maintaining an open and transparent relationship with the municipality. "We've pointed out before that the decay and neglect that took place on the railway occurred over several decades," said Ratledge. "The team that I work with has already made tremendous progress in transforming this railway and its culture into something we and the communities that we serve can all be proud of. But, we have a lot more work ahead of us." (Central Maine & Quebec Railway - posted 7/14)

LIRR'S RENOVATED SMITHTOWN STATION BUILDING OPENED MONDAY: The Long Island Rail Road’s newly renovated Smithtown Station building opened to the public on Monday, July 13, the latest construction project completed under the LIRR’s State of Good Repair program to modernize station facilities around the system. Crews from the Building and Bridges Division of the LIRR’s Engineering Department have been gutting station interiors and upgrading waiting rooms and restrooms to ensure a more pleasant experience for customers. Perhaps, B&B’s most talked about achievement was the rehabilitation of the LIRR’s Belmont Station in time for the most recent Belmont Stakes. But at the same time, B&B workers have been quietly upgrading infrastructure at many stations. “Belmont was a big one,” said LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski said: “Having dedicated staffers who are skilled masons, carpenters, plumbers and electricians enables the Railroad to handle many small and mid-size renovations projects faster and less expensively than it would if we went with outside contractors. Our B&B crews take pride in their work and are brightening up the system all the time.” Late last month, two rehabilitated restrooms were open at Ronkonkoma Station with all new fixtures and tile work. Other station projects completed over the last year include platform rehabilitation and restroom renovations at Great Neck Station, new restrooms at Babylon, Lynbrook and Long Beach and platform improvements at Sayville and Murray Hill. Floral Park has new staircases and Little Neck Station a newly refurbished pedestrian overpass. At Oakdale Station, the brick façade renovations are B&B’s handiwork. At Smithtown Station, located at Redwood Avenue and Scott Lane, work began earlier this year with the interior demolition of a station structure that dates to 1937. The new floor plan called for the elimination of the old ticket office to make way for the construction of two full size restrooms. The new flooring features radiant heat and the waiting room has been finished off with oak wainscoting, crown molding, oversized casing and oversized base as well as all new doors and windows. The exterior siding in the front of the building was replaced and a damaged mural on the north side restored. A sequence of photographs showing the progress of the renovation work at Smithtown Station can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mtaphotos/sets/72157655300543528. (MTA - posted 7/13)

MAINE GOVERNOR SIGNS TRANSPORTATION BOND BILL: Governor Paul R. LePage signed into law LD 1415, An Act To Authorize Two General Fund Bond Issues To Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities, which authorizes an $85 million bond package for transportation projects that will improve infrastructure, promote economic development and create jobs in the State of Maine. The Governor signed the bond bill on Wednesday, July 1, and voters will consider approving the measure in November. “This critical investment of $85 million into Maine’s transportation system will assure thousands of contractors and construction workers with long-term job security and continuing paychecks, and in turn will strengthen Maine’s infrastructure and economy,” said Governor LePage. The bond ensures safe travel for residents and tourists alike. Investments include $17 million to construct, reconstruct or rehabilitate high-priority highways; $46 million for bridge replacements and rehabilitation; and $17 million for ports, harbors, marine transportation, aviation, transit and freight and passenger rail. “This bond is critical for the State to deliver on its current Work Plan commitments, which keep our transportation system strong,” said Governor LePage. Furthermore, this bond package strengthens improvements to the International Marine Terminal in Portland to support the new transatlantic shipping line (Eimskip) recently established in Maine’s largest city. This international connection benefits core Maine industries like fishing, agriculture, and forest products. “The citizens of Maine have always recognized the importance of a solid, well-built well maintained transportation infrastructure,” said Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt. “I am confident when asked in November, the voters will continue to allow us to strengthen Maine’s economy and build a transportation system that will benefit generations to come,” concluded Commissioner Bernhardt. (Maine Governor Paul R. LePage - posted 7/09)

[ Home Page I Subscribe! I Photo Gallery I Interlocking I Railpace Store I Magazine Info I Contributions I Contact Us ]

Questions regarding this page can be directed to the
Webmaster, Paul Tupaczewski, at paultup@comcast.net.

Copyright 2000-2014, 2015 Railpace Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.