July 25, 2015:
The next Hot News update will be posted on July 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
"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:
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
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)
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
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:
30th Street 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
University City 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
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)
-Airport Line - Eastwick Station
-Media/Elwyn Line - Media and Primos Stations
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:
(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.
(NJ Transit - posted 7/15)
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.
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.
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
(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)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 4, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 4, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 506,284 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending July 4, 2015 were 251,269 carloads, down 7.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 255,015 containers and trailers, up 12.3 percent compared to 2014.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 6.2 percent to 8,287 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 5.4 percent to 33,876 carloads; and farm products, up 3.7 percent to 15,219 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: coal, down 18.5 percent to 82,924 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 10.6 percent to 23,893 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 8.5 percent to 13,684 carloads.
For the first 26 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,181,837 carloads, down 3.9 percent from the same point last year; and 6,860,044 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 26 weeks of 2015 was 14,041,881 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.8 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending July 4, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 339,947 carloads, down 6.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 325,156 intermodal units, up 10 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 665,103 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 26 weeks of 2015 was 18,332,492 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.1 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 73,489 carloads for the week, down 5.1 percent, and 59,804 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 26 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,592,844 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,189 carloads for the week, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,337 intermodal units, down 8.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 26 weeks of 2015 was 697,767 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.5 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 7/08)
CSX CORPORATION DECLARES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND:
Earlier today, the Board of Directors of CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) approved a $0.18 per share quarterly dividend on the company's common stock. The dividend is payable on September 15, 2015, to shareholders of record at the close of business on August 31, 2015.
(CSX - posted 7/08)
EXPORAIL TO LAUNCH EXHIBITION ON RAIL SAFETY IN APRIL 2016:
Railway safety is everyone's business. Two years after the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic, Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum, in collaboration with Operation Lifesaver, is preparing a permanent exhibition on rail safety whose concept is being unveiled today. This family-oriented exhibition will offer visitors three distinct experiences exploring critical aspects of safety around railway tracks and encouraging conversations about developments in safety measures since the time of the first Canadian railway. You may recall that the project received a generous donation from CN last fall in order to begin research and develop the concept.
The Executive Director of Exporail, Marie-Claude Reid, explains that the three components of the exhibition set up at different locations around the Exporail site will be sure to generate considerable interest. An immersive experience will be created to confront visitors with realistic scenarios designed to encourage safe behaviour around railway tracks. An interactive circuit will also help make small children aware of railway safety by stimulating their motor skills, imagination and senses. Finally, a display in the entrance hall will underscore the evolution of safety measures, regulations and innovations developed by the railway industry in response to challenges faced by society and businesses in their efforts to ensure everyone's safety.
The Chair of Operation Lifesaver, Stephen Covey, reminds us of the importance of always being vigilant around railway tracks: "There are too many injuries and deaths every year. In 2014, nearly 300 collisions and incidents occurred at level crossings or during intrusions onto private railway property. Our mission is to educate the population about dangers around railways and to play a role in reducing the risks."
"Railway safety is a responsibility that must be shared by everyone," emphasizes the Honorary Chair of the project's fundraising campaign, Michael Bourque, President and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada. "I would like to thank CN for supporting the project and for having launched the initiative. I now invite our partners in the railway industry to join in backing the project by participating in the fundraising campaign for the exhibition. We are all working together to promote the common goal of rail safety."
Everyone is invited to attend the exhibition when it opens during Rail Safety Week in April 2016.
( Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum:
- posted 7/08)
STEAM WILL SOON RETURN TO STEAMTOWN:
Steamtown National Historic Site putting the final touches on the Baldwin 0-6-0 26 steam locomotive, which has undergone a complete rebuilding and restoration over the past four years.
When the 86-year-old restored locomotive makes its public debut sometime next month, Steamtown will again have an operating steam locomotive. Steamtown has not had an operating steam locomotive since 2012.
(Tony Reznak, Jr. - posted 7/07)
STATE OF MAINE SEEKS PROPOSALS FOR COMPANIES TO OPERATE THE ROCKLAND BRANCH:
The state is seeking proposals from companies to operate the railroad line that runs from Brunswick to Rockland.
The proposals are to include bids on possible year-round passenger service from Rockland to Brunswick to connect to the Amtrak trains.
For the past two years, the state has been discussing whether to seek new competitive proposals to operate trains on the 58-mile route.
Maine Eastern Railroad has run the line since 2003. Its contract with the state was set to expire in October 2013, but the company and state reached an agreement to have Maine Eastern Railroad continue its operations
(Bangor Daily News. - posted 7/07)
AMTRAK FEASIBILITY STUDY OF ADDITIONAL SERVICE BETWEEN ST. PAUL AND CHICAGO SHOWS PROMISE :
A study about the feasibility of an additional daily passenger train between Minneapolis, St. Paul or St. Cloud to Chicago is now available. The study was conducted by Amtrak on behalf of the Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation (MnDOT and WisDOT) and La Crosse County, Wisc.
The study concluded that the route between St. Paul and Chicago is the most feasible for initial service with potential extensions to Minneapolis and St. Cloud. It recommends an environmental review of the project, which would have a robust public involvement component and provide eligibility for federal funding. MnDOT, WisDOT and LaCrosse County are determining how to fund this step. The study is at:
The purpose of the second daily train is to provide improved eastbound reliability and increased train frequency. The study includes an assessment of schedules, ridership, revenue, infrastructure investments, operating costs, and equipment needs associated with adding a second daily train between Minnesota and Chicago. The study assumes the second round trip train would use the same route as the current Empire Builder service between Chicago and St. Paul with the addition of a Milwaukee Airport Rail Station stop.
Annual ridership on the additional daily train, with a morning departure from Chicago and a mid-day departure from St. Paul, is estimated at about 155,000 passengers. This is an increase over the current Empire Builder ridership of approximately 104,000 between St. Paul and Chicago, with departures from St. Paul in the morning and Chicago in the afternoon. The top speed for passenger trains in this corridor is 79 mph. There are anticipated capital investment costs for infrastructure capacity improvements, with a planning level cost estimate of approximately $95 million for the Chicago to St. Paul scenario. The St. Cloud and Minneapolis scenarios had higher infrastructure costs. If new equipment is used, there would be an additional $46.4 million cost.
The study estimates annual state operating support (the difference between ticket revenue and operating and capital equipment costs) for the Chicago to St. Paul initial service would be approximately $6.6 million. The cost share among the funding parties for the service would be determined at a later date. Current federal regulations limit Amtrak participation to covering the first 15 percent of the operating cost. Estimates are in 2014 dollars.
(Amtrak - posted 7/06)
STEPHEN TOBIAS STEPS DOWN FROM CANADIAN PACIFIC'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) (CP) announced that, for personal reasons, Stephen Tobias has resigned from the Board of Directors of Canadian Pacific Railway Limited and Canadian Pacific Railway Company, effective June 29, 2015 . Mr. Tobias joined the board in May, 2012.
As Interim Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tobias helped steer CP's board and management transformation from May 17, 2012 until the appointment of E. Hunter Harrison on June 28, 2012 . Mr. Tobias was also Chair of the Safety, Operations and Environment Committee from June, 2012 until May, 2015 and served on CP's Management Resources and Compensation, and Corporate Governance and Nominating Committees.
"Steve's vast railroad knowledge, experience and integrity have been invaluable to the board over the last three years," said Gary Colter , Chairman of the Board. "The board wishes to thank him for his significant contribution to CP's success and wishes him well in his future endeavours."
At this time the Board does not intend to fill the vacancy created by Mr. Tobias' departure
(CP - posted 7/03)
UPDATE ON CSX MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE TRAIN DERAILMENT:
Officials earlier today lifted the evacuation for community members and businesses affected by Wednesday night’s derailment of a tank car and fire in Maryville, Tenn. CSX’s Community Outreach Center, located at 3737 East Lamar Alexander Parkway, will remain open through the weekend to meet the needs of residents and businesses in the area. CSX personnel are available to address costs as a result of the derailment, to answer any health and safety questions, and to distribute bottled water. Affected community members should bring photo identification, proof of address, and receipts for costs incurred. The Community Outreach Center is open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday, and will remain open until all needs are met.
At the derailment site, CSX is working with federal and state environmental officials to plan removal of soils affected by Thursday’s tank car fire and the release of some portion of the rail car’s approximately 24,000 gallons of acrylonitrile, a flammable liquid used in the manufacture of plastics and in other industrial uses. The car derailed in a train that was en route from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Waycross, Ga. It was one of 57 cars on the train, which was pulled by two locomotives. The affected soils will be removed and replaced, and affected soils disposed of in an approved waste site. Air, water and soil sampling continues in coordination with federal, state and local officials.
Operations today also are focused on removing the two rail cars that remain at the site. The derailed car burned throughout the day yesterday and eventually most of the contents were consumed by the fire. Acrylonitrile in a second car, damaged by the fire, will be transferred to another rail car or tank. None of the material in the second car was released. The investigation into the derailment continues in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration
(CSX - posted 7/03)
METRO-NORTH RAILROAD AND CONNECTITCUT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCE DEVON BRIDGE SPAN IS IN CLOSED POSITION:
MTA Metro-North Railroad and the Connecticut Department of Transportation announced that the northern span of the Devon Bridge, connecting Stratford and Milford, Connecticut, has been put into the closed position. Over the coming days, crews will inspect the bridge and make necessary repairs to allow train traffic to resume on all available tracks.
The Devon Movable Bridge was built in 1904 and carries New Haven Line, Waterbury Branch, Amtrak and Shore Line East trains over the Housatonic River between Stratford and Milford, Connecticut, and has two drawbridge spans that open vertically to allow marine traffic to pass underneath. Earlier, the northern span had been unable to close following a scheduled test at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, July 1. Throughout the holiday weekend, trains traveling eastbound and westbound will continue to use the southern span of the bridge, which carries Metro-North’s Tracks 2 and 4.
Over the coming days, workers will continue to inspect the structure and the rails that run on it, and make any necessary repairs to allow a return of train service to all available tracks. The cause of the initial bridge failure remains under investigation.
(MTA - posted 7/03)
CATENARY POLE REPLACEMENT ON THE NJT GLADSTONE BRANCH:
Beginning Monday, July 6 and continuing weekdays through Friday, August 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., buses will replace midday Gladstone Branch trains between Gladstone and Summit stations to allow for the replacement of 163 wooden catenary (overhead wire) poles with steel poles in concrete foundations in this location. Customers are advised to build in extra travel time.
Normal rail service will continue to operate between Summit and Hoboken stations during these hours.
The replacement of wooden catenary poles, which were installed about 30 years ago, with steel structures, will improve the durability and reliability of the rail line’s overhead electrical wire system, especially during inclement weather and high winds – which in turn will improve the customer experience.
(NJ Transit - posted 7/02)
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:
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 7/02)
Amtrak Train Days at Grand Rapids, Mich., July 25
Amtrak Train Days at the New York State Fair at Syracuse, 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
DELAYS ON THE NEW HAVEN LINE DUE TO DEVON BRIDGE PROBLEMS:
MTA Metro-North Railroad and the Connecticut Department of Transportation are advising New Haven Line customers traveling through the area of Stratford to anticipate rush hour delays until further notice because of train congestion resulting from mechanical problems with the Devon Movable Bridge.
The bridge, built in 1904, carries New Haven Line, Waterbury Branch, Amtrak and Shore Line East trains over the Housatonic River between Stratford and Milford, Connecticut. The bridge has two drawbridge spans that open vertically to allow marine traffic to pass underneath. The southern span of the bridge, which carries Metro-North’s Tracks 2 and 4, is in the closed position and carrying train traffic at reduced speeds.
The northern span, which carries Metro-North’s Tracks 1 and 3, opened for a scheduled test opening and closing at approximately 1 a.m. on Wednesday, July 1, and was unable to close and is now in the vertical position. As the span was closing it damaged the bridge abutment piers. The span remains in the open position as of Wednesday morning. Personnel from Metro-North Railroad and the Connecticut Department of Transportation are at the bridge to assess the nature of the damage and identify what repairs need to be done to firmly close and lock the span to allow train service to resume.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation has issued an emergency declaration that will enable contractors and Metro-North personnel to expedite repairs to the bridge. While the work is underway, all trains will use the southern span of the bridge.
Train customers at Milford and the temporary Devon Transfer station will notice temporary metal pedestrian bridge plates have been erected to allow customers to walk from the westbound platforms to the middle track.
Metro-North anticipates train congestion during rush hours due to the use of only two tracks.
(MTA- posted 7/01)
AAR REPORTS TRAFFIC FOR JUNE AND FOR WEEK ENDING JUNE 27, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for June 2015 and the first six months of 2015.
Carload traffic in June totaled 1,087,066 carloads, down 7.7 percent or 91,016 carloads from June 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,117,149 containers and trailers in June 2015, up 3.7 percent or 39,797 units from the same month last year. For June 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,204,215, down 2.3 percent or 51,219 carloads and intermodal units from June 2014.
In June 2015, six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with June 2014. This included motor vehicles and parts, up 4.7 percent or 3,379 carloads; grain, up 3 percent or 2,208 carloads; and coke, up 7.1 percent or 1,089 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in June 2015 from June 2014 included coal, down 17.4 percent or 76,752 carloads; primary metal products, down 13.9 percent or 6,160 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 7.3 percent or 4,373 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were down 1.9 percent or 14,264 carloads in June 2015 from June 2014.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first six months of 2015 was 6,930,568 carloads, down 3.8 percent or 271,831 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 6,605,029 units, up 2.3 percent or 149,442 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first six months of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 13,535,597 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.9 percent or 122,389 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.
"Recent declines in rail carload traffic, especially coal, shouldn't detract from the tremendous improvements we've been seeing in intermodal," said AAR Senior Vice President Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "The growth in rail intermodal is one of America's best transportation-related success stories. June 2015 was the highest-volume rail intermodal month in history for U.S. railroads, and 2015 will almost certainly set another annual record, breaking the record set last year."
(AAR - posted 7/01)
CSX INDEPENDENCE DAY OPERATIONS:
CSX Transportation operations will continue on a normal schedule this Independence Day holiday with the exception of engineering work on a key Southeast coal route.
As a reminder, the Fourth of July weekend coincides with CSX's annual Maintenance Jamboree, when we take advantage of the lighter holiday volume to complete engineering projects in a condensed timeline. Service curtailment in areas affected by the Jamboree began on Saturday, June 27, and normal train operations are expected to resume on July 8.
(CSX - posted 7/01)
CP AND ALL VISION PARTNER DEVELOP OUTDOOR ADVERTISING INFRASTURE:
Canadian Pacific and All Vision LLC (All Vision) are pleased to announce an agreement to enter into a multi-year venture to develop strategic outdoor advertising infrastructure along CP's right of way.
Van Horne Outdoor (VHO) represents the next step in CP's real estate ventures.
"This fits well with CP's strategic approach to our real estate assets as All Vision is well positioned to assist us in unlocking value in the outdoor advertising space," said Mark Wallace , CP's Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and Chairman of VHO. "All Vision is an expert in this field and we look forward to this multi-year partnership to optimize CP's assets."
The VHO joint venture will leverage All Vision's expertise in outdoor advertising to develop new outdoor infrastructure that will generate long-term revenue and shareholder value. The agreement will focus on constructing digital advertising infrastructure and the management of CP's licenses for over 700 existing sign boards located on the railway's right of way.
"It is a privilege and honour to work with Canadian Pacific on this progressive opportunity to create significant and sustainable long term value for both companies," said Greg Smith , CEO of All Vision LLC. "This partnership represents a further step forward in solidifying our position as the leader in the management and development of outdoor advertising assets across North America ."
CP has nearly 14,000 miles of track and right of way spanning the continent
(CP - posted 6/30)
2016 NATIONAL RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY CONVENTION:
The National Railway Historical Society 2016 Convention will be held in Denver, Colo., from July 19th to 24th. Proposed events include the Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad, the Old Pueblo Depot, the Georgetown Loop Railroad, the Colorado Railroad Museum, the Forney Museum and the Leadville Railroad. Details to come.
The host hotel will be the Holiday Inn in the Stapleton area of suburban Denver. The hotel has given us a nightly rate of $110.00 for single or double occupancy. It will also offer NRHS attendees a partial discount of meals in its restaurants.
(NRHS - posted 6/29)
U.S. SENTATE COMMITTEE APPROVES WICKER BOOKER RAILROAD REFORMS:
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today, on a voice vote, approved the bipartisan “Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act,” sponsored by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), with seven amendments. The measure improves rail safety, reauthorizes Amtrak services, and improves existing passenger rail infrastructure. It also leverages private sector investment, empowers states, and cuts red tape to make critical infrastructure dollars go further.
“Senator Wicker and Sen. Booker worked hard to build a bipartisan consensus on the way forward for safer and more reliable passenger rail service following the tragic derailment of Amtrak 188,” said Commerce Committee chairman Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). “First and foremost, this legislation enhances safe travel by helping implement Positive Train Control technology, grade crossing improvements, requiring inward facing cameras to monitor crews on passenger trains, and other safety measures. The committee’s vote puts passenger rail service on a more sustainable course by focusing resources on the most critical infrastructure improvements, streamlining burdensome processes to accelerate project delivery, and demanding more accountability in Amtrak’s accounting structure and investment decisions.”
The legislation authorizes Amtrak for the next four years at an average $1.65 billion a year. Additionally, $570 million in grant funding is authorized every year, highlighted by a grant program that consolidates previous separate, siloed authorizations into a streamlined, competitive program. These competitive grants would go toward programs related to capital improvements, alleviating rail congestion, improving grade crossings, implementing Positive Train Control, and other safety and infrastructure projects.
Highlights of S. 1626, as amended and approved by the committee:
A Sustainable Course for Passenger Rail
Positive Train Control – Advances deployment of Positive Train Control technology by authorizing grants and prioritizing loan applications to support its implementation.
Inward Facing Cameras – Building on voluntary efforts by Amtrak, the bill requires all passenger railroads to install inward-facing cameras to more effectively monitor train crews and to improve accident investigations.
Grade crossings – Requires grade crossing action plans to facilitate and improve state grade crossing safety efforts through engineering, education, and enforcement.
Speed limit enforcement – Requires speed limit action plans to require all passenger railroads to evaluate high-risk track segments and address automatic train control modifications, crew communication, and other speed enforcement issues. This measure is complemented by other requirements for signage and alerters.
Close call reporting – Encourages the use of confidential close call reporting system programs to identify hazards before they lead to accidents.
Focusing resources on safety – Consolidates existing grant programs to focus resources on the most critical safety and infrastructure improvements.
- Indexing the liability cap to inflation – Adjusts passenger rail liability cap for inflation from its 1997 level, from $200 to $295 million, adjusts it every ten years for inflation, and applies the revised cap to the Amtrak accident on May 12, 2015.
Improving the Northeast Corridor
Leveraging competition – Requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to solicit and facilitate competition from carriers other than Amtrak to improve service and reduce subsidy costs.
TRAIN Act – Includes provisions offered Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in the TRAIN Act (S. 769) to streamline the permitting process for rail improvements to cut red tape on critical infrastructure projects.
Reliable business metrics – Requires Amtrak to develop methodologies for determining what routes and services it should provide.
Fiscally sustainable routes – Establishes a working group for the restoration of passenger rail service east of New Orleans and creates a competitive grant program for fiscally-sustainable routes, potentially including the restoration of service abandoned after Hurricane Katrina.
Sharing the rails with freight
Separating Amtrak’s business accounts – Reforms Amtrak by requiring the separation of business line accounts, facilitating greater re-investment in Amtrak infrastructure, including the Northeast Corridor.
Greater role for states – Gives states greater say in infrastructure planning and improvements on the Northeast Corridor and with state-supported routes.
Private sector investment opportunities – Includes provisions from Sen. Booker’s Railroad Infrastructure Financing Improvement Act (S. 797) to make the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program faster and more flexible. With changes from Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill), the bill would better leverage private sector investment, including through public-private partnerships, while simultaneously protecting taxpayer interests. The reforms have the potential to accelerate major projects such as new Hudson River tunnels or improving rail service and stations in and around Chicago and other areas served by rail. In addition, S. 1626 solicits private sector proposals to enhance economic development of rail stations and increase commercial opportunities for railroad right-of-way.
(US Senate - posted 6/26)
Crude-by-rail – Strengthens crude-by-rail safety standards by requiring thermal blankets under tank car jackets to reduce the risk of rupture in a collision or derailment, closing a potential loophole in DOT regulations. The reforms also improve emergency response by requiring real-time information on the locations and contents of trains carrying hazardous materials.
Study and Testing of ECP Brake Technology – While installation of new electronically-controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes moves forward, the bill requires real-world testing by the National Academies and a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on pilot program testing. The provision requires DOT to consider the results of this testing and study.
MTA SIGNS CONTRACT TO EMPROVE POLICE RADIO SYSTEM:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today announced it had approved a 20-year, $70.7 million contract to the Harris Corporation of Rochester for the design, construction and maintenance of an enhanced radio system for the MTA Police Department.
Funding for this security-sensitive initiative is coming from the MTA’s 2010-2014 Capital Program.
“We are delighted to be able to move forward with this much-needed enhancement to our police radio system,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “We’re equally pleased that the award of this contract, like so many other contracts awarded through the MTA Capital Program, will mean jobs for upstate New York. Over the course of more than 30 years, state-supported MTA capital plans have kept the MTA system, which is essential to the downstate region’s economy and daily life, running safely and reliably. Those same capital expenditures, like our upcoming 2015-19 capital plan, also fueled economic activity all across the state, employing thousands of workers providing goods and services to the MTA. In fact, our proposed plan will support some 400,000 jobs statewide.”
“Harris is proud to be selected as the communications partner for the MTA Police Department Radio System as it serves more than 14 million New York and Connecticut commuters on the move every day,” said Dana Mehnert, Harris Group President. “Our several thousand Rochester, New York-based employees, inclusive of our world-class engineering and manufacturing capabilities, are dedicated to secure, critical communications solutions that clearly demonstrate Harris’ continuing commitment to the region and to supporting the MTA Police in their mission.”
“As we continue to meet the transportation needs of our state, I am happy to see that the MTA is utilizing a New York vendor from Upstate to improve their police communication devices,” said Senator Joe Robach, 56th District, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “This $70 million contract will not only meet the needs of the MTA and provide them with state-of-the-art equipment, it will also help to create and retain jobs for Harris Communications, a longstanding company in the Rochester community.”
“As one Rochester’s largest employers, Harris Corporation is an integral part of our local economy and this announcement is yet another exciting step forward in their growth and development,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle. “Harris’ strong record of developing and operating critical communications systems for first responders around the globe uniquely positions them to meet the current and long-term needs of the MTA Police Department. I thank the MTA for the confidence they have placed in Harris and it’s over 2,000 employees who call Rochester home.”
“Harris is a world-wide leader in public safety communications and nobody is better prepared to deliver a state-of-the-art system to the MTA than the company’s highly-skilled workers right here in Rochester,” said Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport). “This is great news for our local economy, which will grow as a result of the $70 million investment, and for the people of New York City, who will benefit from a safer and more secure transit system. I thank Harris and the MTA Police Department for working together to launch this exciting new partnership.”
“I am pleased Harris Corporation has been awarded the opportunity to provide enhanced communications equipment to the MTA and the customers that they serve,” said Assemblymember Harry Bronson. “Harris has a reputation for providing high quality communication technologies for the world, and the awarding of this contract is proof of their commitment to innovation. Additionally, this contract will also mean the continuation of outstanding growth for the company, its employees and the Rochester region.”
“The Harris Corporation has a proven record of providing technology-based solutions for both government entities and the private sector,” said Assemblyman David Gantt, Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “I am pleased that the MTA has chosen a proven corporation from upstate New York to complete these critical upgrades to its communication infrastructure”
The MTA Police Department is the law enforcement agency for the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and the Staten Island Railway, which together serve nearly 170 million passengers annually. The MTAPD’s jurisdiction extends across 14 counties in two states, covering approximately 5,000 square miles.
As part of its daily operations, MTA PD police officers require the use of a two-way radio system as the primary method of receiving dispatch orders, reporting information back to headquarters, and to call for emergency aid and assistance. Through this contract, the existing MTA police radio system will be upgraded and enhanced to modern specifications, improving communications throughout the MTA PD’s entire service territory.
The project involves strategic partnerships with local and state agencies, and includes the installation of modernized equipment at 69 sites throughout 14 counties.
(MTA - posted 6/26)
THREE CAR CELEBRATION AT THE ROCKHILL TROLLEY MUSEUM:
Saturday, August 22, 2015, from 11:00am to 4:15pm, the Rockill Trolley Museum, located in Rockhill, Pa, will hold a dedication of three special trolley cars. They are Johnstown Traction Company 311, fresh from its restoration, Philadelphia PCC car 2743 looking great in its car body restoration and new paint work, and San Diego LRV car 1019, in its official welcoming to Pennsylvania - the first LRV preserved and operated at a museum in the Eastern United States.
For additional details visit
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 20, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 20, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 550,839 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending June 20, 2015 were 273,932 carloads, down 6.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,907 containers and trailers, up 1.6 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 15.7 percent to 8,946 carloads; grain, up 3.4 percent to 18,271; and motor vehicles and parts, up 1.9 percent to 18,682 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: coal, down 13.7 percent to 95,095 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 8.1 percent to 25,181 carloads; and forest products, down 7.3 percent to 11,119 carloads.
For the first 24 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,658,163, down 3.6 percent from the same point last year; and 6,329,465 intermodal units, up 2.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 24 weeks of 2015 was 12,987,628 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.8 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending June 20, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 368,270 carloads, down 6.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 351,477 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 719,747 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 24 weeks of 2015 was 16,950,429 carloads and intermodal units, which remains flat compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 77,147 carloads for the week, down 11.3 percent, and 62,761 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 24 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,319,154 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.6 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,191 carloads for the week, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,809 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 24 weeks of 2015 was 643,647 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.7 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 6/25)
CSX TRACKWORK JAMBOREE:
CSX's main line in portions of three Southeastern states will be shut down June 29 - July 6 for the company's annual maintenance Jamboree. The project on this key coal route will compress required maintenance that would usually take up to 18 weeks into eight days.
Traffic between Shelby, Ky., and Spartanburg, S.C., and between Bostic, N.C., and Monroe, N.C., will experience 24-48 hours of increased transit time during the Jamboree. Re-routes have been established, and local service coordination is being handled by the Sales & Marketing, Customer Service and local transportation teams.
Service curtailment will begin on Saturday, June 27, as production teams move into place. Normal train operations are expected to resume late on July 8. Workers plan to install 55,400 cross ties and 217,325 linear feet of rail, surface 104 miles of track, and restore and perform maintenance on several bridges and road crossings.
(CSX - posted 6/24)
BLET CONDUCTING STRIKE AUTHORIZATION VOTE AT NJ TRANSIT:
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce announced today that the organization is polling members to authorize a strike in the event one becomes necessary to attain the Organization's bargaining goals at New Jersey Transit (NJT). Strike ballots were mailed to over 400 locomotive engineers on June 22.
The BLET has been bargaining with NJT for a new contract for locomotive engineers since April 12, 2011. The dispute has been in NMB-sponsored mediation since June 11, 2014.
The BLET has been bargaining in concert with all the other Unions that comprise the New Jersey Transit Rail Labor Coalition. The Coalition represents 100 percent of the overall rail union membership on NJT. It was formed in early 2015 after three years of individual bargaining by each union with the commuter rail agency proved unsuccessful.
Authorization does not mean a strike will occur.
"We seek a voluntary settlement and not a strike. That having been said, we must strive for the best but prepare for the worst," BLET NJT General Chairman David C. Decker Jr. said.
The National Mediation Board released the BLET from mediation with NJ Transit and the BLET formally declined the NMB's proffer of arbitration on June 12. By law, the NMB must first proffer binding arbitration to the Unions and NJT before it can release the parties from mediation. Once proffered, if either side notifies the NMB that they decline binding arbitration, that starts a 30-day cooling off period that must pass before the Unions or the railroad would have any rights to exercise self-help.
During that time, or even after that first opportunity for self-help has started, NJT, the Governor of any State where NJT operates or the Unions could request President Obama to appoint a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), or the President could appoint one himself, which would reinstate the status quo and reinstate the service. The process could include two consecutive Presidential Emergency Boards. The first PEB would most likely be appointed within 30 days of either side's declination of the proffer of arbitration, thus postponing either party's rights to exercise self help.
Should the entire process run the full 270-day course without the parties reaching an agreement, either side could resort to self-help, at which time only an act of the U.S. Congress could end the strike or lockout.
BLET members working for NJT will receive a mailing from the BLET National Division within the next few days with voting instructions. The deadline for receipt of ballots is at 12:00 Noon EDT on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.
Members who are eligible and have not received a strike authorization packet by Monday, June 29, 2015, should call the National Division at
(216) 241-2630, extension 222. When connected with the extension, please leave the following information:
your name, address and phone number;
the division to which you belong;
the date you were promoted to locomotive engineer; your date of birth; and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
However, e-mail requests for ballots will not be accepted because personal information is required to verify eligibility before a ballot can be issued.
National President Pierce urged all NJT members to vote in the strike authorization process. "Now is the time to participate and stand up for yourselves as well as stand behind our negotiating team and send a strong, unified message to NJ Transit," President Pierce said.
(BLET press release - posted 6/24)
METRO-NORTH PARTNERS WITH CAR RENTAL AND CAR SHARING SERVICES:
To improve station access and regional mobility, MTA Metro-North Railroad is extending its popular partnership with Enterprise Rent-a-Car and adding services provided by Zipcar at outlying stations.
For the last seven years, savvy travelers have used Metro-North then picked up a rental car at many stations and the program has grown continuously. Now Zipcar, an hourly car sharing service, also will be available at select station parking lots.
These two partnerships provide an important tool for extending and completing trips of Metro-North customers. Enterprise and Zipcar can also participate in Metro-North-sponsored events and programs such as Metro-North “Getaway” packages.
“We expect that these agreements will enhance regional economic development by boosting tourism and improve customer satisfaction with the railroad experience,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “The availability of cars at outlying stations also will expand the number of partners that can participate in the railroad’s popular Getaway packages while reinforcing Metro-North’s role as a primary method of transportation.”
MTA’s Real Estate department issued a Request for Proposals for either or both car rental and car sharing services in 2014. The only proposal for daily car rental services was received from Enterprise Rent-a-Car and the only proposal to provide an hourly car sharing service was received from Zipcar. Both deals include base rent and modest revenue sharing. The agreements will be recommended for approval by the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which meets Wednesday.
Enterprise will continue its daily rental program under the new agreement, which also will allow for the addition of more stations based on demand. Customers typically reserve vehicles via Enterprise’s website, which is linked to Metro-North’s website. Enterprise then provides pick-up service to customers at stations and transportation to nearby Enterprise locations, where rental vehicles are obtained. At the conclusion of the rental period, customers may leave vehicles in the station parking lots in unoccupied parking spaces at the station of origin and deposit the keys in a secure Enterprise lock box located at the station. Enterprise will retrieve the vehicles within 24 hours.
Zipcars will be parked at dedicated spaces at Metro-North commuter parking facilities. These spaces will have signage for customers’ ease of identification and to prevent other cars from parking in such spaces when a Zipcar is in use. Zipcar and Metro-North will roll out car sharing services in phases with Zipcar choosing from stations in New York State where Metro-North owns or controls parking facilities.
Customers typically subscribe to Zipcar’s services via a membership program giving them the ability to reserve any Zipcar. Metro-North customers will reserve vehicles via Zipcar’s website (a link to which will placed on three of Metro-North’s web pages.) The Zipcar will be returned to the dedicated space at the same parking lot where it was picked up. Metro-North has confirmed that commuter parking will not be adversely impacted by this program. Zipcar previously had a small presence at Metro-North stations as a pilot car-sharing project that began in 2003.
(MTA - posted 6/23)
MTA MARKS CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF BROOKLYN'S FIRST COMPLETE SUBWAY LINE:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today celebrated yet another milestone of New York City’s iconic subway commemorating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first subway of the now defunct Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT). Absorbed by the New York City Transit system three-quarters of a century ago, the BMT lives on in the memories of seniors and MTA New York City Transit’s drive to improve the customer experience and increase capacity with the avid embrace of new technology.
On June 22, 1915, on a seasonally cool but fair Tuesday, The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, or BRT, (which would become the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation, or BMT), opened its first subway with much pomp and circumstance with Manhattan to Coney Island service. Its first train crossed the East River to Downtown Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge and then headed out to Coney Island using the new Fourth Avenue Subway and Sea Beach Lines. The inaugural ride from Chambers Street to Coney Island took 48 minutes, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It was New York City’s second subway company and, in its time, one of the most innovative transit networks in the world.
The BMT’s centennial was relived today at the New York Transit Museum where MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco took part in the festivities. In addition, nostalgia trains will be put into service as part of the centennial celebration this weekend on June 27 and 28, when customers can ride the vintage subway cars between noon and 4 p.m. with just the swipe of a MetroCard. The Brighton Beach Q Subway Line station will serve as the terminus for these nostalgia rides and as the site of other special centennial-related children’s activities.
“The BMT was the standard setter in several areas including propulsion, braking, car coupling and door control. The IND system owes much to the BMT as does the rest of our current New York City subway operation,” New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said. “The BMT was an innovator in the design of its rolling stock with the introduction of several experimental subway trains that featured open gangways, articulation and stainless steel construction. Today, we celebrate the originality, innovation and creativity of the BMT. The company’s illustrious past remains a vital part of New York City Transit.”
“Today, few people could tell you what the BMT is, but they know they can ride the M Subway Line train from growing Brooklyn neighborhoods to Manhattan tech jobs, and they know the L Subway Line train is the backbone of the boom in Williamsburg, Bushwick, and beyond,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “But the BMT network has never been more important to the growth and life of New York. That’s why we need to advocate for the funds to support our capital program with state and federal legislators, so that 100 years from now, New Yorkers will be here celebrating the BMT’s 200th anniversary.”
The work was not over in 1915. Additional lines were constructed, lines were connected and the BMT made more of Manhattan and Brooklyn and Queens reachable by subway. The BRT became the BMT in 1923, and in 1940 became a division in the unified transit system. Today, the BMT Division operates the former BMT lines as the B,J,L,M,N,Q,R, Z, and Franklin Shuttle lines. BMT subway lines were an integral tool in the development of New York City and they remain an essential part of today’s transportation network.
The Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) system was the City’s first subway, but when service on the BMT opened, car dimensions were far more generous than the IRT’s in both length and width. Where the IRT cars were 51 feet in length and nine feet wide, the BMT’s “Standard” car was 67-feet long and a foot wider.
The Standards featured comfortable transverse seats, a large expanse of windows and six doors set into three doorways. The end vestibules of the IRT cars were eliminated on the Standards in favor of more seating. In the mid-1920s, the D-Types or Triplexes were placed into service. These units were of a three compartment design built over four wheel trucks. The articulated feature lowered the unit’s weight increasing efficiency and lowering maintenance costs. The cars, which were considered state-of-the-art in 1925 operated into the mid-1960s.
The BMT brought several new ideas to subway car design and functionality. An innovator in the design of its rolling stock, the BMT ordered and operated several experimental lightweight trains.
The depression-era Green Hornet car took a bold, new approach to subway car design. This innovative aluminum-bodied train introduced dynamic braking and closing door chimes.
The Green Hornet was followed by the Little Zephyr. Built by the Budd Company, it was the first stainless steel subway train to operate in New York City. It was the forerunner to the R11 and the far more successful fleet of R32s that are still operating today.
Vintage BMT subway cars include:
For more information on the BMT centennial celebration, please visit
(MTA - posted 6/22)
BRT/BMT Standards (1914-1969): Modeled after Boston Elevated Railway cars, the Standards measure 67 feet long and 10 feet wide and contain 78 seats with an additional 14 drop-down auxiliary seats. The standing capacity of 182 people helped address the chronic overcrowding of the early subway years. The Standards introduced destination roll signs, larger windows, and brighter lighting. They were designed more along the lines of a suburban railroad car, with a maximum of seating philosophy, and even included drop seats for off-peak use.
BMT D-Type Triplex (1925-1965): A three-car articulated unit that allowed passengers to walk from one car to another through an enclosed passageway. Each Triplex is 137 feet long and seats 160 passengers, the equivalent of 2 Standard cars in size and capacity. At a time when many elevated lines operated with wooden cars, the Triplex represented the height of transit modernity with soundproofing, illuminated signs displaying route destinations and continued the design philosophy of maximum seating.
IND R1-9s “City-Car” (1930-1977): These cars were ordered for the Independent Subway System (IND) and were known by their contract numbers. R1 through R9 cars feature rattan seats, paddle ceiling fans, incandescent light bulbs, and roll signs for passenger information – all pre-WWII subway staples. They set the standard for more, wider and faster opening doors and a reduction in seating capacity to better accommodate rush hour crowds. R1-9 cars were retired from service in 1977.
R-11 Prototype “The Million Dollar Train” (1949-1976): One of 10 prototype cars delivered to the NY Board of Transportation in 1949, meant to run on the Second Avenue subway line. They were made from stainless steel and had round porthole windows; high-tech air purification systems that use ultraviolet lamps to kill germs; and illuminated route maps on the wall. At a cost of $100,000 a car, a 10-car train (which was never ordered) would have cost $1 million, giving the train its “Million Dollar” nickname. The R11 cars were put into regular service and spent the majority of their service life on former BMT lines.
BAKER-POLITO ADMINISTRATION PLEDGES FUNDING TO ALLOW FOR FULL REDEVELOPMENT OF UNION STATION:
Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito committed the remaining funds necessary to reach the total goal required to complete the redevelopment of Union Station in Springfield. Lt. Governor Polito joined Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Congressman Richard E. Neal, and MassDOT officials for today's announcement.
The $12 million commitment is a combined sum from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation that brings the total amount of federal, state and local funding to $88.5 million, the amount needed to achieve the complete station redevelopment project.
"With access to the east-west and north-south interstate highways, and corresponding rail corridors, the city of Springfield is strategically situated at the transportation crossroads of New England," said Governor Baker. "The funding we are pledging today will allow for the redevelopment of Union Station to capitalize on those connections, and rebuild the station into a regional transit hub that provides more options in a modernized building with space for new economic activity and growth."
When complete, the revitalized Union Station will have 66,000 square feet of leasable commercial space, a 26-bay open-air bus terminal, a new six-level parking garage, a completely renovated terminal building, a reactivated passenger tunnel and a new ADA-compliant rail boarding platform. The redeveloped Union Station is expected to support approximately 200 permanent jobs.
"Springfield plays a key role in the regional economy, and by providing this funding support, we are sending a strong signal that we value this city's importance to the region, and can see its future potential," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "In addition to serving as a transit hub, Union Station also holds the promise of sparking a revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood."
The Springfield Redevelopment Authority is the owner and designated developer of Union Station, and has been leading efforts to advocate for resources to advance this project since 2010. Initial construction efforts began in early 2014, and this $12 million commitment will ensure that an economically viable infrastructure project, that has the potential to fuel economic development, will be fully operational in 2016.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated, "I would like to thank Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito for this significant grant that will allow for the full redevelopment of Springfield Union Station. With substantial money secured by Congressman Richard E. Neal this grant will allow for a full build of the planned two phase redevelopment. When completed the region will have a modern Intermodal transportation center and Springfield will have long time vacant building completely redeveloped."
"Nearly 38 years ago to the day, I stood in the grand concourse of Union Station and talked about its place in our city's history, but how it could also become a significant part of Springfield's future. Roughly four decades later, after a considerable amount of time and effort, that vision has become a reality. With today's final funding announcement, we are one step closer to the completion of a new $90 million intermodal transportation center that has the potential of transforming the city's north blocks. I look forward to the historic re-opening of this iconic structure in the fall of next year," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
"I'm excited that we can help push this project over the last funding hurdle so that Union Station can begin a new era as a transit hub for Springfield and the region, and that can also lead to new partnerships that will result in the development of transit-oriented development, new economic activity, and more transportation choices for region," said MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack.
"The redevelopment of Union Station transforms a once dormant, blighted property into a vibrant mixed-use multimodal regional transit hub, creating new opportunities and supporting existing development efforts in the city. The $2.4 million in MassWorks funds leverage MassDOT's available federal funding, and will ensure the completion of this regionally significant project," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.
Of the $12 million, $9.6 million has been allocated by MassDOT from Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality federal funding, the remaining $2.4 million, which represents a required match to leverage the federal funds, has been allocated by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program. Construction is expected to reach full build out and be complete by the fall of 2016.
(MBTA - posted 6/22)
LOUISVILLE & INDIANA RAILROAD AND CSX CLOSE ON JOINT INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADE PROJECT BETWEEN INDIANAPOLIS AND LOUISVILLE
Louisville & Indiana Railroad (L&I), a subsidiary of Anacostia Rail Holdings, and CSX today announced the completion of an agreement that grants CSX a permanent easement to operate over the L&I's 106-mile rail corridor between Indianapolis and Louisville.
In addition to CSX's $10 million easement purchase, the two companies finalized an operating agreement that provides for an additional $90 million in infrastructure upgrades over the next several years to improve the track structure and right of way along this key freight route. The joint project, which closed on June 17, 2015, was approved by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board in April.
"CSX's investment of approximately $100 million will provide enhanced rail access for the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville, increase capacity and efficiency along this corridor and improve connectivity to CSX's broader network," said Oscar Munoz, president and chief operating officer, CSX Corporation. "These critical infrastructure improvements include the installation of new rail, upgrades to the rail bed structure and bridge improvements to enhance safety and service for customers in the Midwest and provide more efficient rail service throughout the region."
Over the next several months, 20 miles of new rail will be installed along the southern portion of the line. In recognition of the potential impact on local communities during and after construction, representatives from both railroads in May began a series of joint meetings with community leaders to provide project status updates and to address concerns related to public safety, anticipated increases in freight volume and construction plans.
"Since 2011, both L&I and CSX have coordinated with state and local officials to discuss the upgrade of the line to support manufacturers, farmers, marine ports and other contributors to the area's economic growth," said John Goldman, president, Louisville & Indiana Railroad. "As we undertake the first phase of construction, we will continue to collaborate with local officials to plan and execute construction activities to minimize disruptions to communities along the corridor."
(CSX - posted 6/19)
UNION PACIFIC LAUNCHES SOCIAL MEDIA-BASED HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR PHOTO SAFETY CAMPAIGN:
Union Pacific Railroad today launched a new social media campaign urging photographers and high school seniors to refrain from taking photographs on or near train tracks. Through startling videos, the campaign compares the dangers of snapping photos on the tracks to posing for senior pictures on a busy highway. Neither are safe locations. The campaign launched exclusively on social media channels Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), more than 500 people in the United States were killed in 2014 while walking or standing on railroad property, which is trespassing according to federal law.
"Union Pacific launched this campaign to combat the alarming and growing trend of photographers staging high school senior photo shoots on train tracks," said Bob Turner, Union Pacific senior vice president – Corporate Relations. "Union Pacific trains operate in more than 7,300 U.S. communities, and this campaign encourages photographers and high school seniors to embrace the safety benefits of shooting senior photos a safe distance from train tracks."
Union Pacific invites photographers and the class of 2016 to spread their creativity by sharing the Senior Photo Safety videos available at
with the hashtag #TracksAreForTrains. Photographers and the class of 2016 can share their senior photos taken in creative locations using the hashtag #SafeSeniorPhoto
(UP - posted 6/19)
MASSDOT COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF FRAMINGHAM SECONDARY RAIL LINE:
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced it had completed the acquisition of the Framingham Secondary Rail Line, a 21-mile segment of rail that connects Framingham and Mansfield. The line was purchased from CSX Corporation for $23 million.
Purchase of the Framingham Secondary is a strategic investment that links the Framingham/Worcester, Needham, Franklin, and the Attleboro/Northeast Corridor commuter rail lines together. The Framingham Secondary Line is also a major rail corridor for the shipment of freight between several key points in eastern Massachusetts, including Readville, Milford, Franklin, Fall River, and New Bedford, as well as Worcester. The line is also used for passenger service to and from Patriots home games at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. For the purposes of planning for long-term infrastructure needs, purchase of the line provides added rail capacity that allows for passenger service to travel on alternative routes in cases where capital projects may disrupt normal service.
"After careful consideration of the agreement to purchase the Framingham Secondary Rail Line from CSX, MassDOT concluded that acquiring this rail asset supports our goals of increasing use of freight rail, which takes trucks off our highways and reduces greenhouse gases by consolidating the movement of freight," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "Additionally, purchase of the line establishes the interconnectivity of four of our major commuter rail lines, which allows us to plan for future rail upgrades in a way that will minimize disruptions by creating options for trains to continue providing passenger service by bypassing sections of rail on any of the four lines that would be under construction."
Purchase of the line will also guarantee that game-day passenger service to Gillette Stadium for Patriots games will continue. The rail line's current condition is only slightly above standards required for passenger service. MassDOT's ownership of the line, coupled with infrastructure upgrades, will allow for the continuation of the successful game-day service. During the 2014-2015 season, 17,128 riders took the train to Foxborough; 6,015 more riders came from Providence, through Mansfield along the southerly end of the Framingham Secondary.
"Beyond the short-term value of supporting the shipment of freight, in the long term, the line has the potential to support future economic development," said MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator Astrid Glynn. "The communities to the southwest of Boston are experiencing strong regional growth. Should that trend continue, we would look to engage the surrounding communities in a conversation about the potential for a pilot program of additional passenger rail service."
Prior to enhanced service, the line would require significant upgrades to track, signals, and switches, to accommodate regular passenger trains. With preliminary upgrades set to begin next spring, any pilot of service would not begin before calendar year 2017.
(MBTA - posted 6/18)
CSX RECOGNIZED FOR EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE FOR AUTOMOTIVE CUSTOMERS:
CSX and its wholly-owned subsidiary Total Service Distribution, Inc. (TDSI) have been recognized by the Association of American Railroads with its industry awards for the highest-quality automotive ramp service performance in the United States.
The AAR awards, given each year to one origin and one destination facility in the industry, recognized CSX's Strawberry Yard in Louisville, Kentucky as the top origin for finished vehicle staging and loading and CSX's facility at Palm Center, Florida as the top destination for light vehicle unloading in 2014. The recognition is the result of quality review audits that examine the policy, procedures and conditions at the facilities, emphasizing safe operations and the handling of vehicles to prevent damage.
"The recognition of these facilities is indicative of the level of quality we deliver throughout our network of world-class vehicle distribution centers," said Clarence Gooden, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, CSX. "Our core strategy for our automotive customers focuses on delivering safe, high-quality service every day, and we appreciate the recognition of the hard work of our automotive network employees."
CSX was also the only railroad named to the Hyundai GLOVIS President's Club for elite service, the third consecutive year CSX has been recognized. The award from GLOVIS, a third-party logistics service provider, recognizes companies that performed at the highest level when measured against key metrics including transit performance, damage-free shipment handling and deliveries and customer service, which includes railcar availability, ease of doing business, claims processing, special requests, general satisfaction and responsiveness to customer needs.
CSX continues to serve a growing automotive market, with both North American Light Vehicle production and sales expected to increase year-over-year in 2015. CSX has invested in locomotives and multi-level auto racks to continue delivering high levels of service for its customers.
(CSX - posted 6/18)
MTA ENTERS PARTNERSHIP TO PURSUE RAIL CROSSING SAFETY:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Operation Lifesaver, Inc., today formed a partnership to promote safety at Metro-North and LIRR railroad crossings and announced that their first initiative was an advertising campaign at the movies, on television, in newspapers, online and on outdoor signs to begin appearing tomorrow. The MTA also launched a new safety-focused section of its website, web.mta.info/safety, and social media hashtag #MTASafety.
The two organizations officially forged their partnership when a Memorandum of Understanding outlining resource sharing arrangements was signed by MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and Operation Lifesaver President and CEO Joyce Rose. The ad campaign being launched today allows the two organizations to benefit from Operation Lifesaver’s expertise in public safety messages and education and the MTA’s advertising style already familiar to New Yorkers through the “Courtesy Counts” ad campaign.
Operation Lifesaver is a national organization devoted to reducing injuries and collisions at railroad crossings along with pedestrian rail trespass incidents. Over the past 40+ years, the organization has developed education programs and public awareness campaigns that have helped reduce collisions in the U.S. from 12,000 per year to approximately 2,000 per year. It has 80 volunteers in New York State who provide free safety presentations to any group.
“The best way to prevent needless tragedies at railroad crossings is to observe the so-called Three E’s of crossing safety: education, engineering and enforcement,” Prendergast said. “The MTA Police and local jurisdictions throughout our region have done tremendous work stepping up enforcement, and our railroads are in continuous discussions with DOTs and our partner communities to improve engineering. Today, we enter a new phase of our successful partnership built around education. By joining forces in this way, the MTA will have direct access to Operation Lifesaver’s best-in-class educational programs and materials.”
“We are committed to reducing collisions, deaths and injuries at grade crossings and near railroad tracks, and look forward to working closely with MTA in these efforts,” Rose said. “Our new partnership with MTA is a great opportunity for both organizations to build on past safety efforts and create initiatives that will reverse the recent increase in rail crossing collisions and deaths. Together, we can help empower the people of New York to keep themselves safe.” The advertising campaign being launched today includes five outdoor sign advertisements and three videos that share consistent visual elements to promote the safety message. The ads use tag lines such as “Isn’t Your Life Worth the Wait?,” “Don’t Shortcut Your Life,” and “Wait for the Gate.”
(MTA - posted 6/17)
CANADIAN NATIONAL AND THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS:
CN today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Port of New Orleans that will see the parties develop greater supply chain efficiencies aimed at drawing more container traffic over the port to North American markets.
JJ Ruest, CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, said: "We and our Port of New Orleans gateway partners have a mutual interest in ensuring a more competitive rail movement of containerized goods through the gateway and into the Midwest and mid-continent."
Gary LaGrange, president and chief executive officer of the Port of New Orleans, said: "We are pleased to build upon our long-standing relationship with CN. This MOU reflects a genuine interest in mutually developing better service that will help us capture greater market share and optimize throughput, with the ultimate goal of providing the best service possible to our customers."
The Port of New Orleans has an intermodal rail terminal adjacent to its Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal providing on-dock access for all rail shipments. The new Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal is now under construction. The US$25-million project, when completed in the first quarter of 2016, will result in a modern, efficient intermodal container transfer terminal located within the container yard, offering on-dock access and improving CN's link to the terminal and helping grow its container volumes.
The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPBR), a switching railroad with the primary mission of serving the Port of New Orleans and local industries, also signed the CN-Port of New Orleans MOU.
Jeff Davis, general manager and chief executive officer of the NOPBR, said: "The New Orleans Public Belt is excited about the efficiency gains that the new intermodal yard will provide. New Orleans is a natural intermodal gateway and we look forward to growing business with CN."
CN's Port of New Orleans MOU follows the recent signing of a similar agreement with the Alabama State Port Authority, which owns the public terminals at the Port of Mobile, and reflects the railway's continued focus on developing highly efficient Gulf of Mexico gateways for international trade.
Ruest concluded: "The expanded Panama Canal is expected to offer greater freight traffic opportunities to the ports of New Orleans and Mobile. Our plan to implement level-of-service agreements at these two ports and raise their involvement in rail transportation should help them take advantage of rising container trade with Asia and South America."
(CN - posted 6/17)
AAR REPORTSD WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 13, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 13, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 554,461 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending June 13, 2015 were 271,098 carloads, down 8.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 283,363 containers and trailers, up 4.9 percent compared to 2014. This marks the highest week on record for intermodal units.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 10.4 percent to 9,020 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 7.8 percent to 18,750; and chemicals, up 1 percent to 30,070 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: coal, down 18.3 percent to 89,694 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.6 percent to 14,130 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 7.5 percent to 25,038 carloads.
For the first 23 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,384,231 carloads, down 3.4 percent from the same point last year; and 6,052,558 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 23 weeks of 2015 was 12,436,789 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending June 13, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 361,533 carloads, down 9.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 357,942 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 719,475 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 23 weeks of 2015 was 16,230,682 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 73,655 carloads for the week, down 16.9 percent, and 63,612 intermodal units, up 7.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 23 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,179,246 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,780 carloads for the week, up 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,967 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 23 weeks of 2015 was 614,647 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.7 percent from the same point last year.
( AAR - posted 6/17)
CHANGES TO MBTA LATE NIGHT SERVICE:
As first announced in April, changes are coming to MBTA Late Night Service on Friday and Saturday nights. After closely monitoring ridership levels for the year-long Late Night Service pilot program, the MBTA is implementing a schedule that continues to offer service when demand is greatest.
The following Late Night Service changes take effect on Saturday night/Sunday morning, June 27/28:
The MBTA will continue to review and modify Late Night Service to meet customer needs in a cost effective way while considering future alternative service delivery options.
The Late Night Service changes were made following a comprehensive review and public comment process in February and March of this year involving nearly 1,700 participants.
For more information on the changes to late night service, please visit
MBTA Late Night
(MBTA - posted 6/16)
Last subway trains will depart downtown stations at approximately 2:00AM on Friday and Saturday nights; this is also the latest time to make connections between subway lines.
The five least productive Late Night bus routes will be eliminated: 15, 22, 71, 73, 77.
- Frequency on all other bus routes and rail lines will be reduced.
HEAVY RAINS AND MAJOR BRIDGE WASHOUT IMPACT NS OPERATIONS IN THE MIDWEST:
Heavy rains on the Lake Division of Norfolk Southern have resulted in a bridge collapse near Huntington, IN closing the mainline between Ft Wayne, IN and Peru, IN. NS personnel are on site and resources are being dedicated to repair the bridge and re-open the mainline as soon as possible. (NS - posted 6/16)
SEPTA LAUNCHES MODERNIZATION PROJECT ON TROLLEYS ROUTE 101/102"
SEPTA will begin a modernization project on its Route 101/102 (Media/Sharon Hill) trolley lines on Monday, June 15, 2015. Buses will be used in place of trolleys for the entire routes of both lines from June 15 through September 6.
At 69th Street Transportation Center, all buses for Route 101/102 service will arrive and depart from the South Terminal, located at the front of 69th Street Transportation Center along Market Street. Some weekday Route 101 trips to and from Media Station will begin and end at Woodland Avenue Trolley Station. Customers who ride the Route 101 should plan to add 15-to-20 minutes of additional travel time to their trips. Customers who ride the Route 102 should plan to add 10-to-15 minutes to their trips. During the bus substitution, many current Route 101 and 102 trolley stops will be relocated to accommodate buses.
"With the closure and fast-tracked rebuilding of the West Terminal at 69th Street Transportation Center, the Routes 101 and 102 trolleys are not able to board passengers at their regular loading area and are being replaced with buses for the summer," said SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel."We are taking advantage of the trolley substitution to complete many projects that would otherwise result in on-going major service interruptions over a longer period of time. The work we are doing on the Media and Sharon Hill lines will allow us to better serve our Delaware County customers."
The Media-Sharon Hill Line is comprised of three parts: the trunk from 69th Street Transportation Center to Drexel Hill Junction (Shadeland Avenue) used by both Route 101 and 102; stops from Huey Avenue to Media used by Route 101; and stops from Garrettford to Sharon Hill used by Route 102. During the 12-week summer trolley shutdown, 16 SEPTA in-house and third party contractor groups will work on a variety of projects on all three portions of the line. The work schedule will typically be Monday-Saturday, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Work taking place includes:
On the Route 101, superstructure replacement and substructure repairs will be made to the Whiskey Run Bridge (between Springfield Mall and Paper Mill Road Stations).
In Collingdale, Clifton Heights and Aldan, SEPTA will replace Route 102 rails and concrete roadway and repave the parking lanes on both sides of the street along Woodlawn Avenue and Springfield Road between North Street and West Madison Avenue. SEPTA will also install rubber rail boots around the new rails to lessen vibration and noise. The last time the trolley track and roadway was replaced in this area was 1983. The work will be completed in 10 phases over the 12-week period, with rolling street closures along the construction zones. During the project, the work zone area will be completely closed to through traffic, with the exception of emergency vehicles and construction vehicles. Residents within the construction zones will not be able to access their driveways; however, the rolling street closures are designed to minimize the number of days any driveways are blocked.
SEPTA will also use the shutdown to begin the early action phase of installing a new state-of-the-art Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) system. "The CBTC system utilizes radio communications between the vehicles and the signal system to improve safety," said Knueppel. "CBTC automatically prevents collisions between trolleys by enforcing safe stopping distances. The system also prevents trolleys from exceeding established speed limits." The CBTC system is scheduled to be completed by summer 2018 and will also include upgraded track crossovers for improved reliability and operational flexibility. The early action phase will begin with the replacement of certain track crossovers at Drexel Hill Junction.
Total costs for the Routes 101/102 Trolley Modernization Project is $100.60 million. The work is part of SEPTA's "Rebuilding for the Future" capital program and funded through Pennsylvania Act 89. This is one of many improvements projects SEPTA is currently undertaking or has planned for Delaware County. Other Delaware County projects include improvements to Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line Stations, bridges and substations; Media/Elwyn Line catenary wire replacement; restoration of Regional Rail service to Wawa; and the 69th Street Transportation Center West Terminal reconstruction.
(SEPTA - posted 6/15)
Grade crossing renewals, track replacement and surfacing and replacement of wood bridge ties/timbers and walkway;
General bridge structure repairs and maintenance;
Replacement of overhead trolley wire;
Vegetation clearing and tree trimming;
Installation of new trolley wire support structures in select locations;
Repairing or replacement of retaining walls at Drexeline and Springfield Mall Stations;
Replacement of drainage pipe and repairing drainage trench at Springfield Mall Station;
Grade crossing warning device improvements at seven locations: MacDade Boulevard, Andrews Avenue, Bartram Avenue, Chestnut Street, Walnut Street, Broad Street and Spruce Street.
CN REACHES AGREEMENT CONCERNING PORT OF MOBILE INTERMODAL TRAFFFIC:
CN today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA), which owns the public terminals at the Port of Mobile, intended to drive increased supply chain efficiency and a greater share of transportation markets in North America.
JJ Ruest, CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, said: "We believe the agreement -– similar to ones CN has signed with all of Canada's major ports and intermodal terminals -- will extend the geographic reach of the Port of Mobile so that we all can take advantage of potential new container rail traffic following completion of the Panama Canal expansion project in 2016."
A key signatory to CN's MOU for the Port of Mobile gateway is APM Terminals Mobile, LLC. APM Terminals operates a 95-acre, deep-sea container terminal at the Port of Mobile. The state-of-the-art container terminal is adjacent to the intermodal rail facility now under construction. The ASPA is building the US$32-million rail terminal that will permit the direct and fluid transfer of containers between vessel and rail car in the spring of 2016.
James K. Lyons, chief executive officer of the ASPA, said: "The completion of an adjacent rail container transfer facility at our port in the spring of 2016 will improve our ability to handle container traffic. Our future level-of-service agreement with our port partners will create a range of competitive key performance indicators through a system that encourages collaboration and accountability, for the benefit of our mutual customers."
Ruest concluded: "With increased canal capacity and the new rail facility at the Port of Mobile, CN sees a 'third-coast' opportunity for increased volumes of container traffic entering North America via the Gulf of Mexico. We're looking forward to working with our partners in Mobile to make their supply chains more competitive and grow our business with them."
(CN - posted 6/15)
LAKE PLACID AREA TRACKAGE TO BE RIPPED UP:
As part of a plan by the State of New York,
the former New York Central Railroad's Lake Placid Branch will be torn up from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake, N.Y. The currently railroad line will be converted into a multi-use recreational trail. Currently, the
operates passenger trains over the line, from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake. This summer might be the last opportunity to ride over this trackage. The State of New York issued a press release, as follows:
Adirondack residents and visitors will have access to unique recreational opportunities under the proposed Amendment to the 1996 Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan (Draft 2015 UMP). The 2015 UMP Amendment will maximize recreation and economic benefits along the 119-mile Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor (Corridor), Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald announced today.
“The proposal will reinvigorate the economies of neighboring communities by implementing a comprehensive approach to recreational use of the Corridor including establishing a multi-use recreation trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and other compatible uses and a renewed commitment to rail from Remsen to Tupper Lake,” said Commissioner Martens. “The State will also develop snowmobile connections to various locations along the entire length of the Corridor to establish a regional snowmobiling opportunity.”
Transportation Commissioner McDonald said, “We are pleased to partner with DEC on this exciting project. Extending the existing excursion railroad through the heart of the Adirondacks to Tupper Lake will provide train passengers an opportunity to view parts of the Adirondacks very few have seen. Visitors will be able to take advantage of convenient amenities along the way, as well as the many trails, campsites and waterways connected to the Corridor. This will be an exceptional experience for the public and an economic boost for the train service and the Tri-Lakes communities – particularly Tupper Lake.”
The new preferred alternative proposes:
Under the proposal, DOT will also seek to provide a long-term lease for operation of the train service, allowing the train service to make long-term financial investment in the Corridor.
The Draft 2015 UMP Amendment seeks to provide additional access to the community of Beaver River by siting and creating a snowmobile trail outside of the Corridor connecting the community to the regional snowmobile trail system. The Draft 2015 UMP Amendment also serves as a Draft Supplement Environmental Impact Statement.
Hut to hut cross-country skiing opportunities between Beaver River and the Horseshoe Lake Station and train stops in Beaver River, Lake Lila and other interior destinations are also proposed to provide unique outdoor recreational opportunities. DEC will work with the train service to ensure proper controls for those accessing interior lands and waters to prevent overuse and ensure protection of the natural resources.
The Draft 2015 UMP Amendment/DEIS will be posted on DEC’s website on June 12 at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62816.html. Copies of the UMP amendment will also be available on CD June 12 at the following locations: DEC’s headquarters in Albany, NY (5th floor); DEC’s Region 5 office in Ray Brook NY; DEC’s Region 6 office in Utica; town offices for the towns of Webb, Tupper Lake, Santa Clara, Harrietstown, and North Elba; and the village offices for the villages of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid.
A public hearing will be held on Wednesday, July 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Tupper Lake Middle-High School at 25 Chaney Avenue in Tupper Lake. The meetings will provide an opportunity for people to learn more about the proposed management actions in draft Corridor UMP amendment and comment on the proposals. The meeting facilities are wheelchair accessible. Please call 518-897-1248 at least two weeks in advance of the meeting if you have specific accommodation requests.
DEC and DOT will accept written public comments until close of business July 27. Written comments may be mailed to either John Schmid, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY, 12233-4254 or Dawn Klemm, NYSDOT Region 2, Utica State Office Building, 207 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501, or e-mailed to email@example.com.
(Alex Mayes, Scott Snell - posted 6/12)
Removing the rail infrastructure within the Corridor between the Village of Tupper Lake and the Village of Lake Placid and establishing a multiple-use recreational trail;
Maintaining the existing rail infrastructure and enhancing train service between the Village of Remsen and the Big Moose Station;
Rehabilitating the rail infrastructure between the Big Moose Station and the Village of Tupper Lake to allow passenger train service to be restored for a contiguous 85 miles;
Developing a community connector snowmobile system both within and outside of the Corridor which will attract additional snowmobilers to the Adirondacks and Adirondack communities.
M-1 RAIL ANNOUNCES NEW STREETCARS:
M-1 RAIL announced today that it has entered into a contract with Brookville Equipment Corporation for the design, build, testing and safety certification of six individual streetcars to run along Woodward Avenue.
“Selection of Brookville provides M-1 RAIL with a company that has experience constructing streetcars that best meet this project’s technological requirements and timeline, ” said Paul Childs, chief operating officer for M-1 RAIL. “We are pleased to reach agreement with Brookville, a streetcar manufacturer that specializes in the advanced off-wire technology that will make our system a leader in this technology.”
The company’s strong performance in providing streetcars for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), a system with similar streetcar technology, was a key factor in this selection. The Woodward route will be the nation’s leading system employing off-wire technology, with 60 percent of the line operating on battery power provided by 750-volt rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
“Brookville has had success building streetcars with similar operating systems and specifications to what we have planned for M-1 RAIL, so we know exactly what we’re getting,” said Childs. “Other streetcar projects utilize overhead wiring for everything from vehicle propulsion to the infrastructure of their maintenance and repair sites. M-1 RAIL will minimize its impact on the aesthetics of Detroit’s iconic Woodward Avenue, and the Penske Technical Center will not have the labyrinth of wires overhead that typify the maintenance and repair sites of other systems,” he said. The off-wire technology also enhances safety and enables more efficient maintenance and repair due to safe, but simpler, procedures for technicians.
Brookville Equipment Corporation, headquartered in Brookville, PA, is a century old manufacturer that also is the only maker of streetcars to design and manufacture exclusively in the United States.
M-1 RAIL will purchase six vehicles, spare parts and support services from Brookville at a total cost of $32 million. The three-piece, articulated cars are expected to be 66 feet long and be able to carry 125 passengers on average. They will travel up to the maximum speed on Woodward flowing with traffic— 35 M.P.H. — and stop for traffic lights. Walk-up fares are expected to be $1.50, although passes and other fare options will be available. Delivery of the six streetcars will begin in the fourth quarter of 2016.
M-1 RAIL’s streetcars will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), allowing for station-level access for pedestrians as well as persons who use mobility assist devices such as wheelchairs. Vertical bicycle racks will be included in the design to accommodate Detroit’s burgeoning bicycle community. The vehicles also will feature Wi-Fi access for passengers, and HVAC.
(M-1 Rail, Alex Mayes
- posted 6/12)
FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY ADOPTS NEW LOCOMOTIVE TECHNOLOGY:
Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) has installed Trip Optimizer technology in its 24 new GE ES44C4 locomotives. Trip Optimizer is designed to help railroads manage fuel expense while maintaining predictable transit timesTrip Optimizer is part of RailConnect™ 360, a connected suite of software solutions that provides data-driven insights. It leverages big data to learn a train's characteristics and then builds an optimal operating plan over a given terrain for the train. Trip Optimizer functions much like an aircraft's autopilot by automatically controlling the train's throttle and dynamic brakes when active, while allowing the operator to return to manual control at any time.
"We are very pleased with the performance of Trip Optimizer," said Fran Chinnici, Senior Vice President of Mechanical, Engineering and Purchasing. "One of the key factors in our decision to purchase the new GE locomotives was the advanced engine technology platform and the potential to lower fuel consumption. Our use of Trip Optimizer is another proactive step taken by FECR to achieve sustainable fuel savings and emissions reduction."
Other benefits of the technology include reduced wear and tear on rolling stock and tracks and improved consistency in train handling and transit times. Today, approximately 97 percent of all FECR through trains use Trip Optimizer, one of the highest utilization rates in the industry.
"GE is impressed by the rapid adoption of Trip Optimizer by FECR's engineers, who lead the industry in miles-in-auto-control per equipped locomotive. FECR has a firm commitment to innovation and advanced technologies, and we look forward to working with them on additional features that we have in development," said Dave Eldredge, GE's Trip Optimizer product manager.
"Trip Optimizer is an excellent platform that allows us to continue to build automation into our equipment and processes," said Mr. Chinnici.
(Florida East Coast Railway
- posted 6/11)
REPRESENTATIVE DENT LEADS EFFORT TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR INWARD-FACING CAMERA DEVICES ON AMTRAK TRAINS:
In the wake of the recent rail tragedy involving Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15) took action to make sure that investigators would have a powerful tool at their disposal to help them determine cause of future accidents.
Last evening, as the House of Representatives debated H.R. 2577, the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, Representative Dent introduced an amendment to increase Amtrak funding to cover the cost of installing inward-facing cameras in the engine cabs of all Amtrak trains.
“In the wake of the tragic accident in Philadelphia, I felt it was important to increase funding for Amtrak to make needed safety investments, particularly the installation of inward-facing cameras,” said Dent. “The type of information received from these cameras will be an important tool for accident investigators. They could provide vital information regarding whether or not human error was the cause of a derailment and inform what preventative measures will need to be taken in the future. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues for my amendment and I will continue to work to make certain that Amtrak has the support it needs to ensure all of its passengers are safe,” Dent concluded.
Dent’s action enjoyed strong support from Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-7), who voiced his approval of inward-facing cameras during the debate.
“The tragic Amtrak accident took the lives of 8 individuals and injured over 200 – including injuring two of my constituents with whom I had been meeting earlier in the day in Washington,” Representative Lance said. “Inward-facing cameras are an appropriate step in modernizing train safety transportation. The National Transportation Safety Board has been advocating for this simple and relatively inexpensive reform for years and I thank Congressman Dent for taking the lead on this reform in Congress. We should equip Amtrak trains with this important piece of safety equipment,” Lance concluded.
Representative Dent’s amendment provides for a $9 million increase in Amtrak’s capital grants funding to allow the installation of the inward-facing camera equipment.
These cameras were a topic of discussion during this week’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the Amtrak accident, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been advocating for this reform for years.
(Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15)
- posted 6/10)
FREIGHT RAILROADS PROGRESS WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PTC:
Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger said today that America's freight rail industry is making progress on positive train control (PTC) each and every day and remains steadfast in its commitment to ensure all is being done to safely reach the goal of nationwide interoperability.
While continuing to maintain it’s absolutely impossible to meet the Congressionally mandated 2015 deadline for a fully functioning PTC system given the sheer size and scope of the order, Hamberger said freight railroads have a team of 10,000 employees, manufacturers, software designers and safety experts devoted full time to developing, installing and testing the safe creation of PTC.
“Freight railroads have been moving forward with PTC for years and remain 100 percent committed to ensuring this complex ‘system of systems’ gets safely installed and thoroughly vetted and tested. Our railroads have 62,000 miles to equip with PTC and getting that safely completed is a top priority.”
Hamberger allowed that the AAR, in its most recent PTC progress report to the Federal Railroad Administration, said the following would be completed by the end of 2015:
“Reaching deadlines is important, but even more important is that when PTC is turned on it is fully operational and enhancing safety,” said Hamberger, who noted freight railroads have already invested about $5.7 billion in private capital into PTC and expect to spend billions more by the time it is fully implemented.
Hamberger said the freight rail industry was transparent early on when it clearly warned policy makers the arbitrary deadline of 2015 was unachievable, something that has been echoed by former and current FRA officials, as well as others on Capitol Hill.
“Freight railroads have indicated for some time they require until 2018 to deploy all the necessary equipment and outfit the locomotive fleet, followed by up to two years of testing and validation that the nationwide system is properly working in all regions.”
The safety of freight rail operations is the industry’s top priority, and the statistics underscore the point: 2014 was the safest year on record for freight rail. Given enough time to ensure that the complicated safety network is working effectively, PTC will make a safe method of transportation even safer.
- posted 6/10)
More than 11,000 railroad route miles equipped with PTC
About 9,000 locomotives will be PTC ready
76 percent of the 34,000 required wayside units will be installed
67 percent of base station radios will be in place
32,446 of 95,971 railroad employees will be PTC trained
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 6, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 6, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 550,037 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending June 6, 2015 were 268,722 carloads, down 8.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,315 containers and trailers, up 4.3 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 8 percent to 8,843 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 6.2 percent to 19,484; and grain, up 2.6 percent to 18,046 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: coal, down 18.6 percent to 88,346; metallic ores and metals, down 10.5 percent to 24,737 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 4.2 percent to 37,911 carloads.
For the first 22 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,113,133 carloads, down 3.2 percent from the same point last year; and 5,769,195 intermodal units, up 2.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 22 weeks of 2015 was 11,882,328 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending June 6, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 359,988 carloads, down 8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 355,553 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 715,541 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 22 weeks of 2015 was 15,511,207 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 74,718 carloads for the week, down 9.4 percent, and 63,268 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 22 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,041,979 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,548 carloads for the week, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,970 intermodal units, down 4.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 22 weeks of 2015 was 586,900 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.7 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 6/10)
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS ACTIONS TO PREVENT PASSENGER TRAINS FROM SPEEDING:
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a safety advisory recommending actions that passenger railroads take to prevent trains from speeding. The advisory is the latest in a series of steps FRA has taken to keep passenger railroads safe for the traveling public.
“Today the FRA is taking a smart and targeted approach to addressing a major issue involved in recent passenger rail accidents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Safety is our top priority at the Department, and today’s advisory is but one step we are taking to raise the bar on safety for passenger rail.”
The FRA recommends that passenger railroads immediately take the following actions to control passenger train speeds:
“The FRA fully expects passenger railroads to take immediate action and implement these recommendations,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “We will continue to take action in the coming weeks to prevent human error from causing accidents and to keep passengers safe on the nation’s railroads.”
- posted 6/09)
Identify locations where there is a reduction of more than 20 mph from the approach speed to a curve or bridge and the maximum authorized operating speed for passenger trains at that curve or bridge.
Modify Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems (if in use) to ensure compliance with speed limits.
If the railroad does not use ATC, ensure that all passenger train movements through the identified locations be made with a second qualified crew member in the cab of the controlling locomotive, or with constant communication between the locomotive engineer and an additional qualified and designated crewmember in the body of the train.
Install additional wayside signage alerting engineers and conductors of the maximum authorized passenger train speed throughout the passenger railroad’s system, with particular emphasis on additional signage at the identified locations.
METRO-NORTH AND LIRR IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL SAFETY ADVISORY:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that as a result of work completed in March 2014 in response to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Emergency Order 29, MTA Long Island Rail Road and MTA Metro-North Railroad are already in compliance with the recommendations made today to all U.S. passenger railroads by the Federal Railroad Administration in its Safety Advisory 2015-03.
“Safety is the MTA’s top priority,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “We acted quickly and decisively in to shore up a potential safety hazard as soon as it was identified by the Federal Railroad Administration.”
The safety advisory issued today recommends that all United States passenger railroads “identify locations where there is a reduction of more than 20 mph from the approach speed to a curve or bridge and the maximum authorized operating speed for passenger trains at that curve or bridge,” and “modify Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems (if in use) to ensure compliance with speed limits.”
Under the enhancements to signal systems, a train that was traveling too quickly into a curve where a speed reduction of 20 miles per hour or more is required would automatically slow itself to the required speed in the event that the train’s engineer failed to do so.
The federal agency’s recommendation mirrors a requirement it issued in December 2013 to Metro-North Railroad, which the MTA also applied to the Long Island Rail Road. As a result, the LIRR completed modifications to its signal system by March 2014 to create automatic civil speed enforcement at seven locations: Hicksville on the Ronkonkoma Branch; Hicksville on the Port Jefferson Branch; Syosset; three separate locations between Hicksville and Huntington on the Port Jefferson Branch; and the Hall Interlocking east of Jamaica. And Metro-North did the same at curves at Bridgeport, Port Chester, Spuyten Duyvil, White Plains and Yonkers, as well as five moveable bridges.
shows Metro-North’s signals engineers at work modifying the signal system to allow trains to automatically be slowed in the event that a train’s engineer fails to do so leading into a curve.
- posted 6/09)
FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY INVESTS IN MOBILE TECHNOLOGY TO GAIN EFFICIENCY, ENHANCE RELIABILITY:
Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) today announced the deployment of GE Transportation's (GE) RailConnect™ mCrew, a mobile software solution allowing train crews to receive switching instructions and report car movement activity as the work is performed in near real-time. Using this technology, FECR will improve asset utilization, enhance operations productivity and better serve customers by providing more timely status updates on their shipments."We are very pleased with the capabilities of mCrew. The constant flow of real-time data enables us to make more informed decisions and ensure that we provide the consistent, reliable service our customers need to manage their supply chains," said Will Costantini, Vice President and Chief Transportation Officer.
Data transmitted from RailConnect mCrew flows seamlessly into FECR's Transportation Management System, and can be accessed by customers through FECR Connect, the railroad's online portal. Costantini noted, "The portal and FECR's customer service have been enhanced by the timely information provided by this system."
"mCrew is part of RailConnect 360, a connected suite of software solutions that provides data-driven insights. The new and improved User Experience truly puts the power of technology directly in the hands of train crews, capturing vital information when and where the work occurs," said Kirk Knauff, GE's Solutions General Manager.
( Florida East Coast Railway
- posted 6/09)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN NAMES ITS LARGEST FREIGHT TRAIN CLASSIFICATION YARD IN HONOR OF WICK MOORMAN:
Norfolk Southern Corporation is naming its largest freight train classification yard after Charles W. “Wick” Moorman for his leadership in support of freight railroads and their investors, customers, and employees.
“Moorman Yard” is now the official name of Norfolk Southern’s Bellevue, Ohio, yard. Moorman retired June 1, 2015, as chief executive officer and has assumed duties as executive chairman of the corporation’s board of directors.
In making the announcement, NS President and CEO Jim Squires said, “Wick’s incredible talent has been to bring the entire Thoroughbred team forward in the same direction -- always forward, always with enthusiasm and the right intent, always with the sense that we can do great things. Shareholders, employees, business partners – all are better for it.
“This is timely and well-deserved recognition for a railroader who thinks big, who thinks long-term, and who does the right things in the right ways,” Squires said.
Moorman Yard is the largest rail yard on the NS system after the recent completion of $160 million in improvements that doubled its size. It is one of NS’ 11 primary classification yards, where freight cars are collected and sorted for their final destinations.
Moorman Yard is midway between Chicago and New York. Five NS main lines converge there, making it a perfect location for distributing some 3,200 carloads of freight moving daily. On a broader scale, Moorman Yard’s centralized position on NS’ Northern Region promotes fluid movement of long-distance freight across the entire rail network.
Bellevue has been a railroading community since the late 19th century, when NS’ Nickel Plate Road predecessor began operations there. The current Bellevue Yard was opened in 1966 by NS’ Norfolk and Western Railway predecessor. Today, 100 to 110 trains pass through daily, while 20 to 30 originate in the area and a like number terminate there. Most of the trains carry automobiles and parts, agricultural products, and consumer products.
Moorman joined NS predecessor Southern Railway in 1970 as a co-op student. He was named chairman, president and CEO in 2006. Moorman is recognized as a champion of public-private partnerships to create rail infrastructure that benefits America long-term, as an advocate of balanced regulation to best serve the interests of railroads and their customers, and as a leader in reducing the railroad’s environmental footprint.
- posted 6/08)
MASS. GOVERNOR BAKER ANNOUNCES $82.7 MILLION MBTA WINTER RESILIENCY PLAN:
Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack and Interim MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola announced an $82.7 million MBTA Winter Resiliency Plan for investments this summer and over the next five years in snow removal equipment, infrastructure upgrades and operations during harsh weather to improve service reliability. Governor Baker also stressed the need for legislative action on
An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable MBTA
to secure long term improvements at the T.
“In the event of another harsh winter, it is critical we are prepared. We also hope the legislature will act before the end of this session to deliver the reforms necessary to address the underlying financial and management challenges at the MBTA,” said Governor Baker. “These investments and contingency plans are important for day-to-day operations and emergency service. But, without the flexibility and dedicated oversight of a Fiscal Management and Control Board and the reforms we outlined, the T will continue to fail its stress tests for commuters and taxpayers who deserve a reliable world class transit system.”
“Fixing the T will require significant reforms and we must focus more directly on the MBTA’s governance, budgeting and contracting and procurement methods,” said Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack. “As we continue to work with the legislature to achieve the flexibility that is necessary, this dedicated resiliency plan is a first step towards short-term upgrades to improve response and recovery efforts.”
The new resiliency plan was developed based on recommendations by an American Public Transportation Association (APTA) peer review of the MBTA’s winter operations in April, while a
special panel appointed by the Governor
reviewed and made recommendations to fix the MBTA’s deeper structural, financial and operational problems.
“We learned last winter that in addition to structural reforms, the MBTA needs meaningful improvements to its snow resiliency efforts, including upgrades to infrastructure, operations and equipment,” said Interim MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola. “As we continue to work with the administration and our peer agencies to improve service reliability, we look forward to implementing these plans that are essential to reducing the amount and length of service disruptions during severe weather.”
The $82.7 million MBTA Winter Resiliency Plan will be funded through $62 million in federal formula funds for capital investments, $10 million in non-federal, MBTA capital funds, and $11.7 million in operating funds. The plan will be presented to the MassDOT Board for approval next week and focus on the following priorities to more effectively mitigate the frequency, length and magnitude of system disruptions to public transit during severe weather.
Third rail replacements and heater upgrades on vulnerable outdoor sections of the Red and Orange Lines.
Snow fence installation along the Red and Orange Lines to mitigate snow drift accumulation.
Repairs to vehicle maintenance facilities and structures to further maximize recovery efforts.
Emergency power generators to supplement existing subway and facility power as needed.
Track access improvements for larger snow removal and track work equipment on the Red Line..
New and rehabilitated specialized snow removal equipment to increase removal capacity and reduce use of passenger vehicles.
For passenger vehicles, vehicle-borne anti-icing equipment, modifications to air and propulsion system resiliency and an increased stock of traction motors to improve availability.
The right of way improvements on the Orange and Red Lines will be scheduled to occur this summer and fall and the MBTA will notify customers of any service impacts required to enable the upgrades as these projects are implemented.
In April, Governor Baker filed legislation based on the special panel’s recommendations to establish a Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB) and Chief Administrator to oversee the MBTA’s operations and finances, create capital plans and expand the MassDOT Board. An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable MBTA also introduces reporting and audit requirements and lifts procurement restrictions on the MBTA.
- posted 6/05)
Additional snow removal contract services, as needed, to remove snow and ice at stations, facilities and other critical operations areas.
Training and staffing of a Field Inspection Team to be deployed during weather events to monitor staff and contractor field activities clearing snow and returning tracks to an operational status.
Adoption of incident management software in coordination with the MassDOT Highway Division to track deployment of snow removal operations across the system.
Formal establishment of an as needed inmate snow removal assistance program with the Department of Corrections to augment and streamline the services provided this winter.
Further coordination of interagency planning with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, state agencies and local municipalities to identify efficiencies and synergies in snow removal.
Similar resiliency enhancements to the commuter rail network.
Revisions to the MBTA’s severe winter weather operations protocols and customer notification practices to ensure more information, customer safety and the protection of equipment and facilities..
NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM DIRECTOR TO RETIRE:
The New York Transit Museum announced today that its longtime director, Gabrielle Shubert will retire in September.
“This has been a dream job,” said Ms. Shubert. “We have never run out of topics to explore, revealing different aspects of New York City’s evolution through the lens of its mass transit systems. It’s the life blood of the city—New York would never have become the world’s center of commerce, culture and education without public transportation. These systems are complex and fascinating. To give visitors just a glimpse into how mass transit works has been a wonderful journey for me.”
The Transit Museum opened in 1976, the year of the U.S. Bicentennial, as the New York City Transit Exhibit. The original displays were organized by transit employees, wishing to demonstrate that the New York City subway is one of the country’s great engineering achievements. The Exhibit opened in the old Court Street subway station in downtown Brooklyn on July 4, intending to remain open only until Labor Day. It proved so popular that it’s been closed only once since then -- for a two-year renovation between 2001 and 2003.
The Old Court Street station has an interesting history. The station initially served local trains along the Fulton Line followed by a shuttle service between Hoyt-Schermerhorn and Court Street for about 10 years (1936 to 1946) before the station was closed. The Court Street station was used for film shoots and storage until the NYC Transit Exhibit opened in 1976.
When Ms. Shubert took over in 1991, the station had just narrowly escaped another attempt on its life. New York City Transit was in a cyclical phase of budgetary constraint and had proposed closing the Museum as a cost saving measure. The Museum staff mobilized everyone they knew to attend the public comment session at the MTA Board meeting. After a passionate outcry of support, the MTA Board agreed to allow the Museum to remain open, but required it to become financially self-sufficient. Ms. Shubert, then a manager in the MTA’s Art and Design program, was appointed the new director.
Starting out with a budget of $367,000 and a staff of three, the Museum began a methodical course of expansion and rebuilding. When most museums were cutting back hours, the Transit Museum added Sunday hours to generate additional admission revenue. The Transit Museum organized a non-profit affiliate to help it raise funds, and worked with the MTA to establish an outpost for its retail store in Grand Central, just before the Terminal was renovated. This has now become the NY Transit Museum Gallery Annex & Store at Grand Central, welcoming almost 500,000 visitors per year with three exhibitions and a lively mix of subway-centric products in its trendy store.
“Gabrielle’s leadership has been integral over the past twenty-four years to the growth of the museum, and its continued ability to reach new audiences through innovative programming,” said Paul J. Fleuranges, Vice President, Corporate Communications, NYC Transit. “We wish her the best on her future endeavors. She will be missed.”
The Transit Museum’s subway station home in downtown Brooklyn has become a popular destination for New York City families and urban enthusiasts (to say nothing of an extremely loyal group of train buffs who eagerly await the Museum’s annual Nostalgia rides on the vintage cars in the collection), as well as tourists who increasingly find their way to the Transit Museum, despite the lure of NYC icons like the Statue of Liberty, the Met and MOMA. The Transit Museum now serves nearly 20,000 school children each year in group visits that sell out quickly. Where previously, groups received a volunteer-led tour, they now are guided by the Museum’s enthusiastic educators and have a hands-on learning experience as part of every visit.
The Transit Museum serves a diverse audience and offers a variety of programs for youth and adults with disabilities, including a program that teaches young adults with special needs to travel independently on the subway, and an after school program for children on the autism spectrum, many of whom have a deep interest in the city’s mass transit systems. Tours for seniors evoke memories of commuting on rattan-seated trains that have evolved into today’s sleek, stainless steel models, and a free writing workshop for seniors uses vintage subway cars to conjure bygone eras.
Young urbanists flock to the Museum’s After Hours series for lively discussions of arcane transportation minutiae such as how data is used in transportation planning, how historic transportation structures are preserved, and how the Montague Tube was rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy. The Transit Museum is one of New York’s best bargains, charging only $7 for adults and $5 for children and seniors. Many programs are free with admission.
As Ms. Shubert’s last project, the Museum will open an exhibition in September showing how employees of the MTA’s operating agencies plan for, respond to and restore service after citywide crises. The show will focus on 9/11, the Northeast Blackout of 2003, Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, revealing how every aspect of the transit agency’s operations are involved in “bringing back the city,” from pump operators to bus operators, signal maintainers to map makers, fleet managers to tunnel supervisors—all “first responders” who get the City moving again after a disaster.
“We’ve met the MTA’s mandate to become self-supporting,” Shubert said. “The Museum gets generous in-kind support from the MTA and has developed very strong earned and donated revenue streams on its own. Where other history museums have struggled, the Transit Museum has quietly built a very stable foundation of support. It will continue to thrive in the years ahead—mining its rich collections and exploring more topics relating to urban development and sustainability.”
The Transit Museum is located in downtown Brooklyn at the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street and is open Tues. – Fri. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sat- Sun. 11a.m- 5p.m.
- posted 6/05)
FEC ADDS INTERMODAL SERVICE TO CENTRAL FLORIDA:
Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) announced that it is expanding its intermodal rail service into Central Florida to include next-day service to Fort Pierce on weekends. Previously, FECR provided next-day service to Fort Pierce six days each week.
Beginning June 6, shipments that arrive at the FECR rail facility in Jacksonville before 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays will be available in Fort Pierce at 11:00 a.m. on Sundays. This additional day of service will allow retail customers to begin replenishment at store locations prior to Monday. Additionally, motor carriers can take advantage of intermodal rail on weekends to meet their appointment times cost-effectively.
“We are pleased to offer more options for customers to reach destinations in Central Florida,” said Will Costantini, Vice President and Chief Transportation Officer. “FECR recognizes the time sensitivity of many of our shipments, and we are committed to providing the reliability, flexibility and connectivity that companies need to manage their supply chains.”
(Florida East Coast Railway
- posted 6/05)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN DEDICATES LOCOMOTIVE HONORING NATION'S FIRST RESPONDERS:
Norfolk Southern in a ceremony at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station unveiled its latest commemorative locomotive, a vibrant SD60E honoring emergency first responders. The locomotive – with insignia recognizing police, fire, and emergency services – will enter general revenue service on Norfolk Southern’s 22-state network.
“The relationships we have with first responders across our network are vital components of operating a safe transportation system,” said Jim Squires, NS president and CEO. “We hope everyone who sees this locomotive will think about the dedication, the expertise, and the sacrifices first responders make to serve our communities. We at Norfolk Southern are grateful for their support, bravery, and partnership.”
The red, white, and gold locomotive – its paint scheme designed by NS’ Visual Communications team and painted at the company’s Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pa. – features the Maltese Cross of fire services, the Emergency Medical Services’ “Star of Life,” and the Police shield. It also features the logo for Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response (TRANSCAER), a national outreach organization dedicated to providing education and resources to help raise the level of emergency preparedness for the unlikely event of a rail incident. The locomotive sports “9-1-1,” the phone number to request emergency assistance, as well as the Norfolk Southern OAR shield.
OAR – Operation Awareness & Response – is an NS program to educate the public about the economic importance of the safe movement of hazardous materials by rail to connect emergency first responders in Norfolk Southern communities with information and training resources.
Norfolk Southern is a nationally recognized leader in providing training and educational resources to first responders. NS earned TRANSCAER’s 2014 National Achievement Award, the 15th time TRANSCAER has recognized Norfolk Southern for its efforts to help communities prepare for and respond to hazmat transportation incidents.
“Incidents involving trains and hazardous materials are rare,” Squires said. “This is a safe mode of transportation. To make it even safer, communities and Norfolk Southern work together to raise the level of emergency preparedness, which is why we continuously facilitate training, dialogue, and partnerships with emergency response leaders across our network.”
Norfolk Southern conducted or participated in 98 TRANSCAER community outreach events in 17 states during 2014. These included classroom and hands-on training, tabletop simulations, and full-scale exercises, which provided training for 5,442 emergency first responders. NS assisted in the development of the AskRail app that allows first responders to use their mobile phones to look up commodity and response information on shipments, and NS continued its commitment to providing high-level training at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center in Pueblo, Co.
- posted 6/04)
NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES THE RETURN OF MUSIC IN MOTION CONCERT SERIES
Music in Motion is a community-based initiative that allows local musicians to perform in NJ TRANSIT station facilities. These performing artists are offering their talents while customers get a glimpse of the region’s up-and-coming talent as they traverse major stations and terminals.
Performances are held every Thursday and Friday from June 4th through August 28th between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Hoboken Terminal Waiting Room, Secaucus Junction Rotunda or Penn Station New York 7th Avenue Concourse.
Entertaining customers this summer are: Alex English, Bill Stone, Robert Quinn (Garden State Sax Quartet), Susyn Timko, The Foxfires, Rachel Menconi, Melanie Marie, Nathan Riehl (Sun Thief), Tim Gysin and Chris Brown.
Those who would like to audition for the upcoming 2015-2016 Music in Motion season, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- posted 6/04)
MTA FARE INCREASE JUNE 25TH:
As required by the
Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013
* (known as the gas tax bill), the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) announced that transit fares will increase on June 25. The legislatively mandated increase will occur prior to the July 1, 2015, deadline for implementing the new fares adjusted for inflation, as required by the General Assembly.
The fare increase was mandated by the passage of the 2013 law and requires MTA to adjust fares for core services, which includes Local Bus, Light Rail, Metro Subway and Mobility/Paratransit, every two years and for Commuter Bus and MARC Train every five years. As outlined in the law, the increase in core service fares (single-trip full fare) is based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) during the past two years, rounded to the nearest dime. Fares for Commuter Bus and MARC Train will increase by the rise in the CPI during the last five years, rounded to the nearest dollar.
The current $1.60 base fare (single-trip full fare) for Local Bus, Light Rail and Metro Subway services will increase by 10 cents to $1.70. Other bus fares will increase including: school tickets by 10 cents and Mobility/Paratransit fares by five cents. MARC Train fares will increase by $1.00 while Commuter Bus fares will increase from 25 cents to $1.25 depending on the distance people travel. The new multi-use fares (Day, Weekly and Monthly Passes) also will increase using the new base fare for the calculation.
For a complete list of fare changes, please visit
- posted 6/03)
AAR REPORTS TRAFFIC FOR MAY AND FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 30, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for May 2015 and the first five months of 2015.
Carload traffic in May totaled 1,074,285 carloads, down 9.4 percent or 111,539 carloads from May 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,085,968 containers and trailers in May 2015, up 3.8 percent or 40,057 units from the same month last year. This is the first month on record that container and trailer traffic exceeded carloads. For May 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,160,253, down 3.2 percent or 71,482 carloads and intermodal units from May 2014.
In May 2015, five of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with May 2014. This included motor vehicles and parts, up 4.5 percent or 3,207 carloads; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 3.8 percent or 519 carloads; and grain mill products, up 1.3 percent or 480 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in May 2015 from May 2014 included coal, down 17.4 percent or 77,992 carloads; primary metal products, down 17.9 percent or 8,058 carloads; and grain, down 6.2 percent or 5,027 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were down 4.5 percent or 33,547 carloads in May 2015 from May 2014 and when both coal and grain are excluded, U.S. carloads were down 4.3 percent or 28,520 carloads last month.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first five months of 2015 was 5,844,411 carloads, down 3 percent or 179,906 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 5,487,880 units, up 2 percent or 109,645 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first five months of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 11,332,291 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.6 percent or 70,261 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.
"Mixed signals is a good term to use to describe the economy nowadays, and it applies to rail traffic too. Intermodal is on its way to another record-breaking year, but carload traffic is not doing well," said AAR Senior Vice President Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "The degree to which coal carloads have fallen has been a surprise, and the relative weakness in other carload categories is a sign that the economy is probably not yet in bounce-back mode after a dismal first quarter."
Week Ending May 30, 2015:
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending May 30, 2015 was 505,543 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 258,373 carloads, down 10.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 247,170 containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent compared to 2014.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: miscellaneous carloads, up 6.1 percent to 7,610 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 5.3 percent to 17,140; and farm products and food, up 4.2 percent to 16,108. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: coal, down 21.8 percent to 88,025 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 12.9 percent to 24,020 carloads; and forest products, down 8.1 percent to 10,858 carloads.
North American rail volume for the week ending May 30, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 350,395 carloads, down 11.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 322,970 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 673,365 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 21 weeks of 2015 was 14,795,666 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.4 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 75,173 carloads for the week, down 15.2 percent, and 63,598 intermodal units, up 6.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 21 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,903,993 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.8 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,849 carloads for the week, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,202 intermodal units, up 13.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 21 weeks of 2015 was 559,382 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.9 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 6/03)
AMTRAK: COMMITTED TO SAFETY, IMPLEMENTATION OF POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL BY END OF 2015 :
“Safety must continue to be our highest priority,” Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman told the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in his submitted testimony today.
In his written testimony, Boardman noted that the safety systems along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) are the best in the country. Prior to last month’s train derailment at Frankford Junction, Amtrak’s last fatal passenger accident on the NEC from a derailment or collision occurred 28 years ago, and since then, Amtrak trains have safely carried millions of passengers. “In no other place is a comparable volume of traffic moved with such a solid record. In addition to a thorough training, oversight and coaching system for our crews, we have a layered signal system that provides trains with multiple levels of protection,” said Boardman.
He explained that Amtrak’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system is in service from New Haven, Conn. to Boston, and at points between Washington, D.C. and New York where trains exceed 125mph. PTC has been installed on the rest of the Amtrak owned and operated NEC, and is scheduled to be operational by the Federal deadline of December 31, 2015. (Amtrak
- posted 6/02)
MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT PRESIDENT CARMEN BIANCO TO RETIRE:
Carmen Bianco, President of Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Transit, announced today he plans to retire later this year from his position running the largest mass transit system in North America. In his time as President, Bianco transformed the agency’s organizational culture to align management strategies, enhance safety and improve customer service to advance the subways, buses, paratransit and Staten Island Railway in New York City.
Bianco and his team guided the agency through significant snowstorms, Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, which took a critical toll on significant areas of the 110-year-old infrastructure. Despite more than $4 billion in Sandy-related damage, 80 percent of subway service was restored within five days. As New York City Transit works to deliver consistent service to daily ridership that has steadily expanded to more than 8.2 million people, Bianco’s leadership team is planning service for the future by evaluating ways to deliver higher-capacity, more environmentally friendly and technologically advanced trains and buses and improved levels of customer service.
“There is no more challenging job in the American transportation industry than keeping New York City moving every day and positioning it well to serve our customers for decades to come,” Bianco said. “It has been a privilege to lead our 48,000 employees who work so hard around the clock. I owe each of them a debt of gratitude, and it’s been an honor to have served New York City Transit.” Bianco, 63, became Acting President of New York City Transit in April 2013 and was permanently appointed to the position in September 2013 following a nationwide search. He had previously served since March 2010 as Senior Vice President of the Department of Subways.
“Carmen Bianco is a one-of-a-kind leader as well as a trusted friend, and while I understand why he is ready to retire now, we will all miss his detailed experience, his thoughtful perspective and his constant drive to make transit better for both our customers and our employees,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Through initiatives like establishing the FASTRACK program for subway maintenance and aggressively bringing new technology into the system, Carmen made the organizational culture of New York City Transit reflect the priorities that our customers expect. He will be missed.”
Bianco was the seventh person to serve as New York City Transit President since the position was created in 1980. He previously served as head of New York City Transit’s Department of System Safety from 1991 to 1995. Bianco has also held senior safety positions at Amtrak and NJ Transit.
Bianco has submitted a letter of resignation effective in August 2015, to allow the MTA to conduct a nationwide search for his replacement and ensure a seamless transition
- posted 6/02)
MTA BEGINS TRAINING STAFF TO OPERATE TRAINS TO NEW 7 LINE EXTENSION:
MTA New York City Transit has started training tower operators, train dispatchers and train operators how to safely route and operate trains to and from the new 34 St-Hudson Yards station, one of the last steps as the MTA prepares to open the newly constructed 7 Subway Line Extension later this summer. Video of an early training run is available for download at
Two-day training courses for tower operators and dispatchers began May 26 and will continue through June 4. Tower operators are responsible manipulating signals and switches to safely route trains, and dispatchers oversee train crews as well as the movement and even spacing of trains along a route.
MTA New York City Transit began training train operators May 28 and will continue during the morning and afternoon shifts for several weeks to come. In all, 12 tower operators, 8 dispatchers, and as many as 672 train operators will be trained on the 7 Subway Line Extension by the end of June.
“Providing this training for our subway personnel is one of the last steps toward opening the 7 Subway LineLine Extension for revenue service,” said MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “The 7 Subway Line Extension will open up the far West Side to mass transit for the first time, and the new station and additional tail tracks for train storage will also improve service for customers using the line in Queens and Manhattan.”
“We are in the final 50-yard sprint of this project,” said MTA Capital Construction Company President Michael Horodniceanu. “We expect to announce an opening date in the next several weeks.
Work to open the 7 Subway Line Extension for revenue service continues to progress well. Integrated testing of communications systems and the mobile radio system has been completed, and testing of other communications systems and the fire alarm system is progressing according to schedule.
Work is also continuing at the station’s secondary entrance on Eleventh Avenue between 34th and 35th streets, which is approximately 45% complete. Waterproofing and preparation for caisson work is ongoing at the shaft area. This entrance is not required for the 7 Subway Line Extension to begin revenue service, but will serve thousands of projected customers in coming years as the Hudson Yards area continues to develop
- posted 6/01)
CN INVESTS C$20 MILLION IN EXPANSION OF COLD SUPPLY CHAIN REEFER CAPACITY:
CN announced today a C$20-million investment in the expansion of its cold supply chain capacity to help producers and distributors of chilled or frozen foods grow their businesses in North American and overseas markets.
JJ Ruest, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, said: "CN was the first railway to introduce highway-to-rail conversion of reefer service in transborder markets. Our high-quality cold supply chain service has been embraced by the marketplace. We are now adding capacity to grow and help Canada's food processing industry gain and maintain access to new domestic and international markets."
To accommodate growth, CN is acquiring 200 more domestic, 53-foot temperature-controlled containers, which will add to the current fleet of containers circulating inside North America.
CN is also acquiring 32 electrical generators to move 40-foot international marine reefers to and from CN-served ports on CN intermodal trains. The power packs provide economies of scale by connecting up to 17 international marine reefers at a time.
CN, in collaboration with other railroads, offers cold supply chain rail services between Canada-United States-Mexico, as well as between Canada and overseas markets.
Barry Sutton, vice-president, international sales, for Maple Leaf Foods, said: "Food safety is always a top priority for us. We follow world-leading food safety practices to ensure our consumers can enjoy our products with confidence. CN shares our food safety vision. Through collaboration, CN has created a robust supply chain backed by high food safety standards. CN's transportation leadership and expertise give us peace of mind knowing that our products will make it to our customers nationally and internationally, safely and on time."
CN has harnessed innovative technologies to ensure that food security and integrity is maintained. Robust remote monitoring of interior container temperatures, a dedicated reefer desk team and superior exception management services are key elements of its operational and service excellence for the cold supply chain.
Allan Walker, director, Canada and export customer service and logistics for McCain Foods (Canada), said: "McCain Foods is pleased with the CN announcement. Adding more capacity addresses a critical supply chain need and helps meet our goals in providing quality products to our customers in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner."
Ruest said: "CN's cold supply chain service offers the food industry a quality and cost-effective alternative to highway trucks and gives producers pursuing overseas opportunity a great tool to expand market share. CN is growing with its customers, aiming to help them compete more effectively in their own markets."
- posted 6/01)
PATCO INTRODUCED FIRST "NEXT-GENERATION" CARS TO THE PUBLIC:
Elected and appointed officials from Pennsylvania and New Jersey joined the general public on the first run of PATCO‘s refurbished "Next-Generation" cars. Bernie Wagenblast has a report.
Listen to story
- posted 5/29)
FIRST REFURBISHED PATCO TRAIN CARS RE-ENTER SERVICE:
U.S. Representatives Bob Brady (D., First District of Pennsylvania) and Donald Norcross (D., First District of New Jersey) and New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D., Third Legislative District) joined officials from the Delaware River Port Authority and PATCO today to “turn the key” on the first six cars to re-enter service on PATCO’s High-Speed Line after extensive rehabilitation of the cars’ interiors and operating systems. All 120 of the cars in PATCO’s fleet will be upgraded over the course of the $194 million refurbishment.
“With the rehabilitation of PATCO’s train cars, as well as the installation of new tracks across the Ben Franklin Bridge, PATCO is showing its commitment to providing safe, efficient train service to the people of Pennsylvania and South Jersey,” said Ryan N. Boyer, chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority, PATCO’s parent agency.
The cars are being rehabilitated by Alstom Transport of Hornell, New York. The improvements include the cars’ interiors (flip-up seating for wheelchairs and bicycles; new seats and slip-resistant floors; new lighting; new windows and HVAC systems) and exteriors and operating systems, including new braking systems that conserve energy by returning the power generated in braking to the cars’ power systems.
In addition, there have been significant upgrades to communications and security systems. The new public address system has external speakers so announcements made on a train can be heard on platforms. Also, train operators can access the public address system from their hand-held radios, so they can make announcements from wherever they are, including off the train if necessary. There will also be better messaging for passengers in stations, including real-time “next-train” information via the new video infotainment and advertising system.
“These new PATCO trains look great — but it’s really about delivering the safest commute possible,” said Congressman Norcross. “As we see PATCO’s silver cars pass by each day, we may take for granted all that goes into making these trains safe and secure. PATCO has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to safety, using life-saving Automatic Train Control (ATC) technology since the line debuted in 1969. These refurbished cars will use that technology and improve on it by incorporating fully tested, cutting-edge communications, braking and emergency systems to ensure the safest ride possible.”
The six refurbished cars will be joined by six more this summer; after that, four a month will go to Alstom for refurbishing, according to John Rink, PATCO’s general manager. “Now that Alstom has resolved the issues we encountered before we could approve the prototype cars, we’re moving into production mode,” Rink said. “We anticipate having the entire fleet refurbished within the next 18 months.”
John Hanson, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority emphasized that the car rehabilitation project is just part of PATCO’s renewed commitment to the stewardship of the transportation assets entrusted to the DRPA. “We are working every day to provide safe and efficient service through the 21st century and beyond,” he said.
Combined, PATCO cars log about 4.3 million miles annually, running 24/7 on the 14.2-mile route between Lindenwold, NJ and Center City Philadelphia.
(PATCO, Bernie Wagenblast
- posted 5/29)
OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE PORT OF SAGUENAY RAIL LINK AND INTERMODAL YARD:
The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, on behalf of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, was joined today by Mr. Serge Simard, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier for the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region and Member for Dubuc, on behalf of the Honourable Robert Poëti, Quebec Minister of Transport, Mr. Jean Tremblay, Mayor of the City of Saguenay, and Mr. Richard Létourneau, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saguenay Port Authority to mark the official opening of the rail link connecting the Grande-Anse terrminal in the Port of Saguenay to the Roberval-Saguenay rail line and of the intermodal rail yard at the Port of Saguenay.
The 12-kilometre rail link and the intermodal rail yard at the Port of Saguenay will facilitate the transfer of goods from the railway network to ships docking at the Grand-Anse marine terminal. Traffic will be bidirectional.The new rail link will provide shippers with additional transportation options, increase the efficiency and capacity of port operations, and facilitate interprovincial and international trade.
The Grande-Anse terminal in the Port of Saguenay benefits from its deep?water location, its industrial development potential, and its geographic location near urban services in the heart of a region that has direct access to the regions of Northern Quebec and has a number of heavy industries, particularly in the aluminum manufacturing and forestry sectors.
(Government of Quebec
- posted 5/29)
OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE PORT OF SAGUENAY RAIL LINK AND INTERMODAL YARD:
The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, on behalf of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, was joined today by Mr. Serge Simard, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier for the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region and Member for Dubuc, on behalf of the Honourable Robert Poëti, Quebec Minister of Transport, Mr. Jean Tremblay, Mayor of the City of Saguenay, and Mr. Richard Létourneau, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saguenay Port Authority to mark the official opening of the rail link connecting the Grande-Anse terrminal in the Port of Saguenay to the Roberval-Saguenay rail line and of the intermodal rail yard at the Port of Saguenay.
The 12-kilometre rail link and the intermodal rail yard at the Port of Saguenay will facilitate the transfer of goods from the railway network to ships docking at the Grand-Anse marine terminal. Traffic will be bidirectional.The new rail link will provide shippers with additional transportation options, increase the efficiency and capacity of port operations, and facilitate interprovincial and international trade.
The Grande-Anse terminal in the Port of Saguenay benefits from its deep?water location, its industrial development potential, and its geographic location near urban services in the heart of a region that has direct access to the regions of Northern Quebec and has a number of heavy industries, particularly in the aluminum manufacturing and forestry sectors.
(Government of Quebec
- posted 5/29)
FRA ISSUES $6.8 MILLION LOAN TO THE ARKANSAS & MISSOURI RAILROAD:
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a $6.8 million Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan to the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad (A&M). A&M will use the loan to refinance the purchase of three locomotives that improves the company’s operations, enhances safety, and reduces carbon emissions.
“Expanding financing opportunities for railroads will create jobs, grow the economy, and improve the quality of our rail infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The GROW AMERICA Act will strengthen the RRIF program by reducing the cost of obtaining a loan and making the program more accessible.”
The RRIF program provides direct federal loans and loan guarantees to finance the acquisition and development of railroad and intermodal facilities and equipment, including positive train control (PTC). The FRA gives priority to projects that provide public benefits, including benefits to public safety, the environment, and economic development. As part of the President’s Build America Investment Initiative, the U.S. Department of Transportation has established the Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) to encourage the use of innovative financing tools such as RRIF.
FRA also issued an $11 million RRIF loan to A&M in 2003 to purchase and rehabilitate track, which significantly improved the safety and efficiency of their operations.
“RRIF is a vital tool for railroads,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “FRA has significantly decreased the time it takes to process RRIF loans and we look forward to closing additional loans later this year.”
To date, FRA has issued 35 RRIF loans totaling nearly $2.7 billion.
(FRA - posted 5/28)
MTA CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION INVITES PUBLIC TO OPERATE A SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY TRAIN... SORT OF:
MTA Capital Construction has invited the public to stop by the Community Information Center and experience the facility’s newest feature – a subway simulator that will give visitors the experience of operating a train through the three new stations of the Second Avenue Subway. Click online at
to see the simulator in action!
The simulated journey starts on the tail tracks north of the new 96th Street station and enables the virtual operator to guide the train through the tunnels, stopping at the 96th, 86th and 72nd Street stations. Virtual operators with the best times in making the complete journey will be able to post their initials on the leader board, but beware, breaking the rules and erratic driving add time to the score.
Passing a red light, speeding, overshooting the platform and enabling the wrong doors to open are among the actions that will add time to the score. Stopping or accelerating abruptly will cause the passenger mood indicator to drop, which also can add time to the score, while a positive passenger mood will subtract time.
The three new stations in the simulation were created using renderings as well as the actual materials being used in their construction, so the texture of floor and wall tiles and other materials are replicated in the virtual stations as closely as possible to how they will look when completed.
“Since it opened in July 2013, nearly 11,000 people from Second Avenue, other parts of the city and country and from around the globe have visited the center and experienced our three exhibits,” said MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu. “They have learned about the history of the Second Avenue Subway, how it was built and what it will look like when it’s completed in a little more than a year-and-a-half from now. With the simulator unveiled today, visitors will experience what it’s like to operate a Q Subway Line train down the Second Avenue line.”
Located at 1628 Second Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets, the center serves as a one-stop shop where Second Avenue residents, businesses, stakeholders and the general public can learn more about the project. Community Liaisons are available to answer questions and address concerns. A first-of-its-kind facility, the CIC offers rotating exhibits and programming about the construction of the Second Avenue Subway. (MTA - post 5/28)
TRACK RENEWAL PROJECT SCHEDULED ALONG SEPTA'S RT. 15 TROLLEY LINE:
SEPTA will conduct a track renewal project on a portion of its Route 15 trolley line from June 14-September 19, 2015. The track in this area was installed in the 1950s.
The project will take place on Girard Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets and from just east of Frankford Avenue to Susquehanna Avenue. Track replacement is necessary because the street structure supporting the tracks has deteriorated due to weather, traffic and the age of the road surface. SEPTA will excavate and replace approximately 9,800 track feet and repave the track area. The new track will result in reduced sound, as the continuous welded rail will eliminate rail joints; reduced vibration because the new rail is incased in an insulated rubber boot; and a smoother ride due to the new and improved track components.
Buses will replace trolleys along the entire Route 15 from June 14-September 5, 2015. Trolleys will return between Frankford and Delaware Avenues and 63rd Street and Girard Avenue on September 6. Shuttle buses currently in use between Richmond Street and Allegheny Avenue and Front Street and Girard Avenue due to PennDOT construction will continue to operate in place of trolleys.
The project will progress in moving three-block sections. Work will take place first along the section of Girard Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets and then move to the area just east of Frankford Avenue to Susquehanna Avenue. Normal construction hours will be Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Weekend work may be required to maintain the project schedule.
Girard Avenue will remain open during the track renewal project; work will be kept within the trolley and travel lanes. All side streets in the construction areas will be closed to thru traffic, but local traffic will be permitted up to construction sites. Parking will not be permitted in the area or adjacent to the tracks being reconstructed, however, exceptions will be made for those with special needs. Walking access for businesses will be arranged. (SEPTA - posted 5/28)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 23, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 23, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 554,477 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending May 23, 2015 were 273,387 carloads, down 9.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,090 containers and trailers, up 4.3 percent compared to 2014.
Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They were: miscellaneous products, up 10.4 percent to 8,495 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 3.3 percent to 18,674 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 1.5 percent to 14,783 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 17.3 percent to 24,199; coal, down 16.5 percent to 93,796 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 8.8 percent to 35,622 carloads.
For the first 19 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,586,038 carloads, down 2.6 percent from the same point last year; and 5,240,710 intermodal units, up 2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 20 weeks of 2015 was 10,826,748 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.4 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending May 23, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,991 carloads, down 8.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 353,380 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 720,371 carloads and intermodal units, down 3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 20 weeks of 2015 was 14,122,301 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.6 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 77,033 carloads for the week, down 10.5 percent, and 61,100 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 20 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,765,222 carloads, containers and trailers, up 4.4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,571 carloads for the week, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,190 intermodal units, down 2.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 20 weeks of 2015 was 530,331 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.7 percent from the same point last year. (FRA - posted 5/27)
SEPTA TO PURCHASE ACS-64 LOCOMOTIVES:
SEPTA plans to spend approximately $154 million for 13 new Siemens ACS-64 "Cities Sprinter" electric locomotives for use in Regional Rail Service. The contract would allow for an option to purchase five additional locomotives. These units would replace eight aging AEM-7 and ALP44 electric locomotives, currently in service on the Lansdale-Doylestown, Paoli-Thorndale, Trenton, and Wilmington-Newark lines. In addition, the new locomotives would allow SEPTA to add capacity to other lines.
The SEPTA board is expected to approve the purchase on Thursday, with the locomotives to be delivered in 2018. (Philly.com via Howard Bender - posted 5/27)
AMTRAK TO BEGIN INSTALLATION OF INWARD-FACING CAMERAS IN LOCOMOTIVES :
Taking an additional measure to improve safety, Amtrak will install inward-facing video cameras in the fleet of ACS-64 locomotives in service on the Northeast Corridor by the end of 2015, and all subsequently delivered locomotives will have the equipment installed before they go into service.
These systems will be another tool for Amtrak and industry regulators to monitor locomotive and engineer performance.
“Inward-facing video cameras will help improve safety and serve as a valuable investigative tool,” said Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman. “We have tested these cameras and will begin installation as an additional measure to enhance safety.”
Installation will first occur in the 70 ACS-64 locomotives that will power all Northeast Regional and long-distance trains between Washington, New York and Boston, as well as Keystone Service between New York, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa. Amtrak is developing a plan for installation of inward-facing cameras in the rest of its locomotive fleet, including Acela Express power cars and diesel locomotives.
Amtrak has outward-facing cameras on locomotives, along with advanced systems that monitor locomotive and engineer actions.
(Amtrak - posted 5/26)
REFURBISHED MBTA GREEN LINE TROLLEYS RETURNING TO SERVICE:
The first MBTA Green Line refurbished trolley car was returned to service this week. T personnel are completing test runs on the next refurbished car to return to service in the coming days.
These are the first of 86 that are being refurbished. All 86 trolley cars will be delivered by the end of next year.
“This is a great first step in our ongoing efforts to improve service on the country’s oldest light rail line,” says Interim MBTA GM Frank DePaola.
“In the coming months, Green Line customers will see more and more refurbished trolley cars, providing reliable and safe service to thousands of riders. This rehabilitation work is preserving the integrity of the vehicle structure, roof, and exterior, all of which experienced water damage and corrosion over the last two-and-half decades. Each car’s renewed condition and enhanced appearance will improve the Green Line experience for tens of thousands of daily customers.”
The comprehensive rehabilitation work on the trolley cars includes:
The $104 million MBTA Green Line trolley car rehabilitation project work is being performed by Alstom from upstate New York.
(MBTA - posted 5/22)
- Replacement- upgrade design HVAC, Motor Alternator/Low Voltage Power Supply, Auxiliary Lighting, Cab Equipment, Door Open Indicators
- Replacement- in-kind Flooring, Seats, Insulation
- Overhauled Structure, Roof, Exterior, Door System, Brake Equipment, Trucks, Propulsion, Pantograph
THE LAST LEHIGH & NEW ENGLAND DIESEL LOCOMOTIVE SAVED:
The Lehigh & New England Railroad Preservation Society has purchased the last remaining Lehigh & New England diesel locomotive,
. The locomotive is currently located at a grain elevator in Emporia, Indiana. The group is soliciting donations to pay for its movement to the Allentown & Auburn Railroad in Topton, Pa. It is expected to cost $60,000 to move the 611. The group has established a
Paypal account to accept donations.
When the 611 arrives in Topton, it will be fully restored into Lehigh & New England livery. It is in operating condition. For more information on the preservation of the 611, visit https://www.facebook.com/lne611
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION TAKES FOLLOW-UP ACTION TO CONTROL TRAIN SPEEDS ON NORTHEAST CORRIDOR:
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued an Emergency Order that will assist in controlling passenger train speeds at certain locations on the Northeast Corridor (NEC). Today’s order is the latest in a series of actions the FRA has taken in the wake of last week’s derailment of Amtrak Train #188.
FRA also announced today its intention to take additional actions in the coming days to address potential speed issues on all other passenger corridors.
Last Saturday, FRA instructed Amtrak to immediately take several actions to improve safety along the NEC. As stated in that weekend announcement, today’s Emergency Order formalizes those instructions.
“Although we do not yet know what caused the derailment of Amtrak Train #188, the information we do have underscores the need to continue to do all we can to further promote safety along the Northeast Corridor,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s action will help prevent similar incidents from occurring on the NEC until Amtrak completes its installation of Positive Train Control later this year.”
The Emergency Order requires Amtrak to take a series of steps to improve safety along the Northeast Corridor, including implementing Automatic Train Control (ATC) code changes and modifications, adopting other safety procedures at several curve locations with significant speed reductions, and submitting an action plan to FRA outlining additional steps.
FRA will take additional steps in the coming days and weeks to ensure other corridors are addressing potential over-speed issues as well.
“The Northeast Corridor is the busiest rail corridor in the country, and the steps we have ordered Amtrak to take will immediately improve safety on this busy corridor,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “But in the days and weeks to come, we will also do more – while FRA will continue to push Amtrak and other commuter lines to achieve full implementation of Positive Train Control, we will also work with them in the short term to immediately address potential over-speed issues.”
The Emergency Order requires Amtrak to immediately implement a code change to its ATC system near the Frankford Junction curve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The change must enforce the passenger train speed limit of 50 mph, or lower, for northbound trains approaching the curve. Amtrak implemented this change prior to the restart of service on Monday.
In addition, Amtrak must survey the NEC to identify each main track curve where there is a reduction of more than 20 mph from the maximum authorized approach speed to that curve for passenger trains, and provide a list of each location to the FRA.
Following Amtrak’s identification of the curves referenced above, Amtrak must develop and submit an action plan to FRA that accomplishes each of the following:
Amtrak must submit the action plan to the FRA within 20 days of the date of the Emergency Order.
In addition, Amtrak must begin to install additional wayside signage alerting engineers and conductors of the maximum authorized passenger train speed throughout its Northeast Corridor system no later than 30 days after the date of the order.
(FRA - posted 5/21)
Identify appropriate modifications to Amtrak’s existing ATC system or other signal systems (or alternative operational changes) to enable warning and enforcement of applicable passenger train speeds at identified curves.
- Target dates for implementing each identified modification to Amtrak’s existing ATC system or other signal systems (or alternative operational changes) to enable warning and enforcement of passenger train speeds at the identified curves.
NTSB ISSUES UPDATE ON ITS INVESTIGATION INTO THE AMTRAK DERAILMENT IN PHILADELPHIA:
As part of its ongoing investigation into the May 12, 2015, derailment of Amtrak Train 188 in Philadelphia, the NTSB today provides the following update.
NTSB investigators have completed most of their on-scene documentation work at the accident site and at the Amtrak facilities in Delaware. Additional 3D laser scanning of the train cars will be completed in the coming weeks.
An examination of the signals systems has revealed no anomalies or malfunctions.
The NTSB has possession of the Amtrak engineer’s cell phone. Additionally, under its enforcement authority, the Federal Railroad Administration subpoenaed and obtained the engineer’s cell phone records and has shared that data with NTSB forensic experts. Although the records appear to indicate that calls were made, text messages sent, and data used on the day of the accident, investigators have not yet made a determination if there was any phone activity during the time the train was being operated.
In order to make that assessment, investigators have started the process of correlating the time stamps in the engineer’s cell phone records with multiple data sources including the locomotive event recorder, the locomotive outward facing video, recorded radio communications, and surveillance video.
The processes involved in correlating time stamps for all these devices are detailed and lengthy. Because of variations in time stamps for each data source, each one must be correlated to the same time zone so that a factual timeline of events can be developed that will allow investigators to understand if any phone activity has any relevance to the accident.
Investigators interviewed the engineer of the SEPTA train that had stopped after being struck by an object that had shattered the windshield of the locomotive. The SEPTA engineer said that the Amtrak engineer announced on the radio, “hot track rail two,” to let him know that the Amtrak train was about to pass the stopped SEPTA train. He saw Amtrak 188 pass on track 2 and did not notice anything unusual.
Interviews with passengers and emergency responders will continue over the coming weeks. Investigative specialists in crashworthiness and survival factors are interviewing passengers that survived the accident in order to understand the circumstances of the evacuation as well as how injuries correlated with train car and seating positions.
Amtrak has provided the NTSB with the engineer’s training and employment records. He had been operating trains in the Washington-Boston Northeast Corridor for about three years. He had been specifically assigned the Washington-New York segment of the corridor for several weeks.
A dedicated webpage for this accident investigation has been created where all related materials to it can be accessed:
(NTSB, Howard Bender - posted 5/20)