` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
OCTOBER 29, 2014:

VIA RAIL GOES INTERNATIONAL: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) goes international by establishing a partnership with the passenger rail carrier alliance company AccesRail. This partnership will extend VIA Rail's distribution reach to over 120,000 travel agencies around the world through AccesRail's airline connectivity to Global Distribution Systems, which enable the integration of rail services into travel agents' booking systems. AccesRail offers an easy way for passenger rail carriers to sell tickets through IATA certified travel agents, by using their established airline booking systems. The integration of rail suppliers in the Global Distribution Systems will improve VIA Rail's international sales by encouraging inter-modal transport. This partnership is aligned with VIA Rail's inter-modal strategy, initiated in 2010, for which it won the 2013 AirRail Concept of the Year at the Global AirRail Awards ceremony in Frankfurt. VIA Rail's inter-modal strategy makes transport more efficient by increasing interconnectivity with other passenger carriers and multiplying travel options for customers. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 10/29)

AMTRAK ESTABLISHES BLUE RIBBON PANEL TO ADDRESS CHICAGO RAIL GRIDLOCK: Amtrak is establishing a blue ribbon panel of rail and transportation leaders to identify infrastructure and operational improvements to address the rail traffic gridlock in Chicago. The unprecedented level of rail congestion is causing major delays for Amtrak passengers and freight shipments which are damaging to the U.S. economy. Panel members on the Chicago Gateway Initiative include Jack Quinn, former U.S. Congressman and past chairman of the U.S. House Railroads Subcommittee, Linda Morgan, former chair of the Surface Transportation Board and Tom Carper, Amtrak board member and past chairman. The freight railroads which operate in Chicago and other stakeholders will be invited to participate in panel activities and are key to implementing recommended solutions. Because Chicago is the hub of the U.S. rail network, and the key gateway between East and West rail traffic, gridlock in the Chicago area is causing major delays throughout the United States. The congestion problem is caused by a combination of rising demand on the East Coast for more intermodal freight and crude oil shipments which originate west of Chicago, underinvestment in critical rail infrastructure that produces public benefits and short term capital projects that create additional temporary bottlenecks. The panel is charged with identifying and evaluating infrastructure investments and operational actions that will optimize Amtrak on-time performance and improve freight rail service. Its objectives are to minimize disruptions and delays, and accelerate the construction of infrastructure projects. A final report on recommendations is expected by the end of May 2015. “The rail gridlock in Chicago is causing unacceptable delays for Amtrak passengers while reducing revenues and driving up operating costs for Amtrak,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. Chicago is Amtrak’s most important hub and many of its trains that operate to and from the city are suffering from poor on-time performance, dispatching issues and high levels of freight train interference. For example, delays of four hours or more for Amtrak trains operating between Chicago and Cleveland have become a near daily occurrence. These and other major delays have ripple effects across the Amtrak national system. If Amtrak trains, which have statutory dispatching priority over freight trains, cannot be moved efficiently through the nation’s principal rail hub, then freight shipments will continue to be slowed by gridlock as well. The CREATE program has been a concerted effort by freight railroads, Amtrak and other stakeholders to address rail congestion issues in Chicago and it has achieved several successes. The Chicago Gateway Initiative will build on the CREATE program by re-energizing the conversation, stimulating new discussion about next steps for securing funding to implement CREATE projects, and seeking to improve cooperative efforts among the railroads. “Alleviating Chicago rail congestion will be of great benefit to Amtrak passengers and the fluidity of the national freight transportation network,” said Boardman. “We need solutions and predictable dedicated funding to make the needed infrastructure investments. Let’s get started.” (Amtrak - posted 10/28)

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP AND REVENUES CONTINUE STRONG GROWTH IN FY 2014: Amtrak posted record ticket revenues for its Fiscal Year 2014 ending Sept. 30, and achieved an increase in ridership over the prior fiscal year, reflecting strong continued demand for passenger rail. However, meeting future growth in passenger demand requires investing in the infrastructure that supports intercity passenger rail and resolving unacceptable congestion delays caused by freight railroads that own the tracks. For Fiscal Year 2014, ticket revenues reached $2.189 billion, up 4.0 percent from the prior year. Ridership was more than 30.9 million, an increase of 0.2 percent over adjusted FY 2013 numbers. The slower growth in ridership than in recent years is due, in part, to a harsh winter season and on-time performance issues associated with freight train delays and infrastructure in need of replacement. With ridership of 11.6 million, the Northeast Corridor (NEC) had its highest ridership year ever in FY 2014, up 3.3 percent from the prior year. However, ridership on long-distance routes and state-supported services declined by 4.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. The Acela Express and the Northeast Regional services each set a new ridership record. In particular, Acela showed strong popularity, with 28 days where the number of trips topped 14,000 as compared to just five such days in the previous year. Eight other routes also set ridership records, including Adirondack, Auto Train, Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto, Blue Water, Capitol Limited, Empire Service, Piedmont, and Washington-Lynchburg. “Amtrak is clearly selling a product that is very much in demand,” said Amtrak Board Chairman Tony Coscia. “Achieving strong ridership and revenue despite the challenges with aging infrastructure and freight rail congestion demonstrates Amtrak’s commitment to improving its financial and operating performance, and is a credit to Amtrak’s management and staff. It is now time to leverage Amtrak’s successes in increasing ridership and improving performance by making much-needed investments in our nation’s passenger rail system.” “As more and more people choose Amtrak for their travel needs, investments must be made in the tracks, tunnels, bridges and other infrastructure used by intercity passenger trains particularly on the Northeast Corridor and in Chicago,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “Otherwise, we face a future with increased infrastructure-related service disruptions and delays that will hurt local and regional economies and drive passengers away.” Boardman explained that nowhere is the connection between passenger rail and economic growth stronger than in the NEC, but its infrastructure continues to age and suffers from a chronic case of long-term underfunding. He said a new federal policy and funding arrangement is needed to create a significant and reliable multi-year capital investment program to reverse the decay of NEC infrastructure and support other intercity passenger rail projects across the nation. Further, many long-distance and state-supported trains operate over tracks owned and dispatched by freight railroads that could benefit from infrastructure upgrades to improve the fluidity of the rail system. Not only are delays to passenger trains on these tracks increasing, but so, too, is the magnitude of those delays. On many of these routes, passenger rail has experienced a significant decline in on-time performance, lower ridership and revenue, and increased operating costs. “The freight railroads simply have to do a better job in moving Amtrak trains over their tracks,” Boardman stressed. “Amtrak is prepared to take all necessary steps with the freights to enforce our statutory, regulatory and contractual rights to meet the expectation of our passengers for improved on-time performance.” Amtrak is working with the freight railroads to address the congestion situation and is also pursuing remedies through the federal Surface Transportation Board. In addition, Amtrak is open to supporting public funding to supplement freight railroad track capacity, but only after the operational and maintenance improvements under their own control have been exhausted and prove to be insufficient. (Amtrak - posted 10/27)

LIRR PORT WASHINGTON BRANCH IMPROVEMENTS: The Long Island Committee of the MTA Board today approved an initial $24.9 million contract for the extension of a pocket track east of the Long Island Rail Road’s Great Neck Station and the replacement of the 115-year- old Colonial Road Bridge, a three-year project and key component of the LIRR’s East Side Access Readiness Plan. The contract now goes to the full MTA Board which is scheduled to take up the matter at its meeting on Wednesday. The project is scheduled for completion in 2017 with the pocket track to cost an estimated $25.2 million and the new bridge $19.9 million for a total estimated cost of $45.1 million. The balance of the budget represents the cost of work that will be done by LIRR employees in the construction of the pocket track including utility relocation and power, signal, and switch installation. The LIRR is asking the MTA Board to award the contract to Railroad Construction Company, Inc. of Paterson, N.J., following a competitive process in which six firms submitted bids in response to a request for proposals issued in January. LIRR officials said Railroad Construction Company, a firm that has served rail industry since 1926, offered the best technical plan and the lowest price. “These infrastructure improvements will enable the LIRR to provide safe and reliable service on the Port Washington Branch for many years to come and give us the operational flexibility to provide better train service, especially when the East Side Access project is complete,” said LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski. The new pocket track will extend an existing storage track to accommodate an additional 12 car train. Once complete, it will enable the LIRR to increase the number of trains it can turn at Great Neck, provide better rush hour service as well as seat availability from Great Neck and stations west of Great Neck. The Colonial Road Bridge, built in 1897, crosses over the LIRR track a half mile east of Great Neck Station in the Village of Thomaston. Maintenance of the bridge is the sole responsibility of the LIRR, whose engineering staff determined the structure is at the end of its useful life. The new bridge will meet New York State Department of Transportation standards, which means wider travel vehicular travel lanes and improved pedestrian sidewalk. The project will also involve the construction of a new drainage system at track level that will eliminate a flooding problem that often hampers train service and include a retaining wall and landscaping which together will act as a sound barrier between the LIRR Right of Way and the local neighborhood. East Side Access, scheduled for completion in 2022, will enable Long Islanders to ride the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal and the East Side of Manhattan for the first time, saving customers who work on the East Side as much as 20 minutes commuting time in each direction. The Great Neck Pocket Track and new Colonial Road Bridge is part of the East Side Access Readiness Plan, five major infrastructure improvements the LIRR is planning in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk in support of future train service at Grand Central. The other projects are: Jamaica Capacity Improvements ($301 million), Mid-Suffolk Train Storage Yard ($76.6 million) Massapequa Pocket Track ($19.6 million) and Port Washington Yard Track Extension ($12.1 million.) (MTA - posted 10/27)

MTA HIRE FIRST CHIEF SAFETY OFFICER: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it has named David L. Mayer as the agency’s new Chief Safety Officer. The new position was created to reinforce safety as the top priority for all MTA agencies as they continue to improve work practices and invest in new technology and equipment. “Having someone to oversee and lead safety initiatives throughout the system can only enhance and improve our efforts,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “David’s experience with the National Transportation Safety Board, and exceptional work on safety projects in all modes of transportation, makes him the best person for the job.” Mayer will begin at the MTA on December 1.. He will report directly to the Chairman and CEO. He will work closely with Metro-North Railroad Chief Safety Officer Anne Kirsch, Long Island Rail Road Chief Safety Officer Loretta Ebbighausen, New York City Transit VP System Safety Cheryl Kennedy, VP Safety Programs and Initiatives at MTA Bridges and Tunnels James Foley, and MTA Capital Construction VP of Safety Peter Kohner. They will continue to monitor the condition of crews and equipment at their respective agencies, reporting to their agency’s president. “I’m excited to join a transportation network that is focused on promoting a safety culture while constantly looking for ways to improve its practices. I look forward to the challenge of proactively serving a population of over 15 million people,” said Mayer. Mayer began his career at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 1991 in the Office of Research and Engineering. In 2001, he was named Assistant Managing Director and then promoted to Managing Director in 2009, the highest career-level position at the agency. During that time, Mayer personally reviewed and led more than 50 major investigations including the 2009 Metrorail train collision in Washington D.C. and the 2010 airplane crash near Aleknagik, Alaska, that killed Senator Ted Stevens along with four others. In addition to his strategic and technical expertise, Mayer also has extensive experience in employee relations, leading the NTSB’s labor relations activities. He was trained in experimental psychology as a human factors specialist and holds a doctorate from Rice University. He received a Bachelor degree with honors in Psychology from Centenary College. He also holds a private pilot’s license. (MTA - posted 10/27)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT CELEBRATES 110 YEARS OF SUBWAYS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is celebrating the 110th anniversary of the New York City subway system with two days of opportunities for the public to take the train as generations of customers have done in the past. The first subway line, which connected City Hall with Harlem, opened on Oct. 27, 1904. That four-track line ran under Park Avenue South to Grand Central, across 42nd Street to Times Square, and up Broadway to 145th Street. “The subway system has come a long way since that fall day in 1904,” said New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “More than 100 years ago, you could only take the subway for that one stretch in Manhattan. Now we can get from the top of the Bronx to the beaches of Far Rockaway with just one swipe of a MetroCard. It’s remarkable how the system has evolved over the years, and we’re excited to show customers what the future will bring with the opening of Fulton Center and the 7 Line extension to the far west side on the horizon.” To give customers a trip to the past, NYCT will run two vintage trains express along the Broadway 123 Line between 96 St and Times Sq-42 St. One train will consist of four Low-Voltage subway cars that were in service until the late 1960s. Those cars feature rattan seats, ceiling fans and drop-sash windows. The other train, known as the “Train of Many Colors,” is made up of R33 and R36-type subway cars that were in service between the 1960s and 2001. An example of such cars, which were known as SMEE for their braking system, is the so-called “redbird” cars that many New Yorkers are familiar with. This particular “Train of Many Colors” has SMEE cars of various versions and appearances, including four painted the MTA silver mist and blue; one green coupled with a redbird; a pair of fire-engine red cars, and the last two redbirds removed from service. On Sunday, between noon and 5 p.m.:
  • The Low-Voltage train leaves Times Sq-42 St at noon; 1 p.m.; 2 p.m.; 3 p.m.; 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. It leaves 96 St at 12:30 p.m.; 1:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m.; 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
  • The “Train of Many Colors” leaves 96 St at noon; 1 p.m.; 2 p.m.; 3 p.m.; 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. It departs Times Square-42 St at 12:30 p.m.; 1:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m.; 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
On Monday, October 27, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.:
  • The Low-Voltage train leaves Times Sq-42 St on the hour. It departs 96 St at half past the hour.
Customers do not have to pay extra fare to take a ride on one of these Nostalgia Trains. For more information on the trains or to see more of them on display, visit the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights. (MTA - posted 10/24)

CANADIAN PACIFIC HOLIDAY TRAIN 2014: The Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train program is returning to the rails for a 16th year to raise money, food, and awareness for food banks and hunger issues across Canada and the United States. Since its launch in 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised close to C$9.5 million and 3.3 million pounds of food for North American food banks. "The Holiday Train is all about the community coming together over the holiday season and helping each other out with donations to local charities," says E. Hunter Harrison, CEO CP. "CP continues to be grateful that our train of lights and top musical talent are welcomed with open arms and that this has become a holiday tradition in our communities." Leaving the Montreal, Quebec, area on November 26 and 27 respectively, our U.S. and Canadian trains will make the three week journey reaching over 150 communities. The U.S. Holiday Train will travel across the U.S. Northeast and Midwest before its final show December 17 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, while the Canadian train will travel west and wrap up its journey December 18 in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. A number of musicians will be joining the Holiday Train journey this year, including the pop rock band Odds and Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo fame) on the Canadian tour and, up-and-comer country star Kira Isabella along with a cappella sensations Home Free in the U.S. Communities are encouraged to check the schedule online to see which performers will make a stop in their town. The full CP Holiday Train schedule is now available on www.cpr.ca. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/24)

DERAILMENT AT SELKIRK YARD DELAYS FREIGHT TRAFFIC: On October 23, CSX experienced a derailment inside the limits of its Selkirk Yard near Albany. The derailment has been safely cleared; however, traffic scheduled to move through the Selkirk area may experience delays for up to 48 hours. (CSX - posted 10/24)

ONE OF THE NATION'S LARGEST RAIL CHOKEPOINTS ELIMINATED: Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo today joined Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Senator Dick Durbin and other federal, state and local officials for the dedication of the Englewood Flyover project. The $133 million Flyover, which received $126 million from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program, will eliminate one of the nation’s largest rail chokepoints. As a result, close to 80 Metra trains per weekday will now travel above the Norfolk Southern mainline avoiding roughly 60 freight and Amtrak trains that use the mainline. The flyover will provide some relief for rail congestion in Chicago, but much work remains to be done to eliminate the issue completely. In addition to the intercity passenger benefits, the Englewood Flyover will also reduce freight and commuter delays which will in turn keep more people and freight off Chicagoland’s congested highways. This congestion impacts all modes of transportation, forcing more trucks on to highways, limiting access to airports and reducing the capacity of railroads – limiting the regions effectiveness as a transportation hub. “The Englewood Flyover will improve safety, efficiency and reliability of the rail traffic passing through Chicago,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “When Congress provides predictable, dedicated funding for rail investments through the GROW AMERICA Act, we will be able to better address the long-term rail congestion issues that plague Chicago and the nation’s rail network.” About one-third of all rail traffic in the United States travels through the Chicago region and the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, a partnership between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, freight railroads, Metra and Amtrak, seeks to remove and reduce train congestion throughout Chicagoland. The Englewood Flyover project is one of 70 projects that make up the CREATE program. About a third of the projects within the program are completed and today funding only exists for half of the overall program. “Improving the fluidity of rail congestion in Chicago is critical to ensuring economic growth and developing a passenger rail network that will efficiently connect the 40 largest markets in the Midwest,” said Szabo. “The GROW AMERICA Act will provide the necessary resources to enhance rail service across the country.” The Englewood Flyover is a grade separation project south of Chicago’s Union Station that ease congestion one of the most delay-prone intersections in the entire Amtrak system. It separates Rock Island District Metra commuter trains from Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains traveling on the Norfolk Southern (NS) corridor and will relieve Metra riders of more than 7,500 annual passenger hours of delay. The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) mission is to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient rail transportation of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future. The GROW AMERICA Act supports this mission with predictable, dedicated investments that enhance safety and modernize our rail infrastructure to meet growing market demand. The Act will invest $19 billion over four years to improve rail safety and invest in a higher performing rail system. States and local communities need the certainty of predictable, dedicated funding to make transportation investments to improve our infrastructure and support our economic growth. The Act also builds on current investments to vastly improve the system in areas ranging from Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation to enhancing flexibility in financing programs that will better enable the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. (FRA - posted 10/23)

IT'S OFFICIAL: 'SEPTA KEY' IS FUTURE OF FARE PAYMENT: The speculation can end: SEPTA has unlocked the mystery surrounding a name for what has been generically referred to as the New Payment Technology initiative. The Authority today unveiled "SEPTA Key" as the official moniker for its fare modernization program. The announcement coincides with the launch of an updated section of the Authority's website regarding SEPTA Key at http://www.septa.org/key. SEPTA will begin transitioning to the new fare system in 2015. SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey said SEPTA Key was selected as the program name because of the transformative nature of the initiative. "SEPTA Key will play a fundamental role in moving the region forward," Casey said. "It will be the key to your commute, play and everywhere in between." SEPTA Key ushers in the overhaul of the Authority's outdated fare payment and collection system. Current fare instruments such as tokens, paper tickets and magnetic stripe passes will be replaced by contactless payment devices. SEPTA is currently testing the new technology and related equipment, including card readers, new fare gates and fare kiosks. Riders will notice additional equipment installations at transit stations to prepare for the start of pilot testing, which will begin in December and continue for several months. The timing of the SEPTA Key public launch will be dependent on successful results from these field tests. "This project will reach every SEPTA rider," Casey said. "It is important that we do everything possible to ensure its readiness before the launch." When the program is implemented, riders will be able to use a SEPTA Key branded card that can be purchased at station kiosks, SEPTA Sales Offices, from local retailers and online. Tokens - for many, the symbol of SEPTA's decades old fare system - will continue to be used during the initial SEPTA Key roll-out. SEPTA will give advanced public notice before tokens are phased out. SEPTA will conduct a wide-ranging public outreach effort before and throughout SEPTA Key implementation. The SEPTA Key website will also give customers tutorials on how to use the system, along with news, updates and other details on the program. (SEPTA - posted 10/23)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Oct. 18, 2014 with 297,130 total carloads, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 272,554 units, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 569,684 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,015 carloads, up 17.4 percent, and nonmetallic minerals with 39,308 carloads, up 12.5 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 were led by chemicals with 28,843 carloads, down 4.6 percent. For the first 42 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,218,003 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 10,900,493 units, up 5.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 42 weeks of 2014 was 23,118,496 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 85,771 carloads for the week, up 4.6 percent, and 55,587 intermodal units, down 4 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 42 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,365,718 carloads, up 1.5 percent from the same point last year, and 2,406,134 intermodal units, up 6.5 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 16,939 carloads for the week, up 14.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,174 intermodal units, up 0.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 42 weeks of 2014 was 663,760 carloads, up 3.3 percent from the same point last year, and 447,587 intermodal units, up 4.9 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 42 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,247,481 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,754,214 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent compared with last year. . (AAR - posted 10/23)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern reported third-quarter net income of $559 million, 16 percent higher than $482 million for the same period of 2013. Diluted earnings per share were $1.79, up 17 percent compared with $1.53 per diluted share in the same period last year. "Norfolk Southern reported another record-setting quarter during which we achieved our best third-quarter results in revenues, operating income, net income, earnings per share, and operating ratio," said CEO Wick Moorman. "Higher traffic volumes along with continued gains in productivity drove these excellent results. We remain focused on ensuring we can support continued demand for freight rail transportation by hiring additional employees, investing in new equipment, and completing capacity projects in order to provide our customers with the freight rail service they expect today and in the future." Third-Quarter Results Set Quarterly Records
  • Railway operating revenues increased 7 percent to $3.0 billion.
  • Income from railway operations improved 18 percent to $998 million.
  • Net income increased 16 percent to $559 million.
  • Diluted earnings per share rose 17 percent to $1.79.
  • The railway operating ratio improved 4 percent to 67.0 percent.
Third-quarter railway operating revenues climbed 7 percent compared with the same period of 2013 to top $3.0 billion for a second consecutive quarter as growth in the merchandise and intermodal markets offset a weaker coal market. Third-Quarter Revenue by Commodity Group
  • Intermodal: $667 million, up 10 percent
  • Coal: $626 million, down 2 percent
  • Chemicals: $488 million, up 14 percent
  • Metals/Construction: $414 million, up 11 percent
  • Agriculture: $364 million, up 5 percent
  • Automotive: $254 million, up 12 percent
  • Paper/Forest: $210 million, up 3 percent
General merchandise revenues reached $1.7 billion, a 10 percent increase compared with the third quarter of 2013, driven by volume gains in all markets, with particular strength in chemicals, automotive, metals and construction, and agriculture. Intermodal revenues increased to $667 million, 10 percent higher compared with third-quarter 2013. Volume rose 10 percent, fueled by robust growth in both international and domestic markets. Coal revenues declined 2 percent to $626 million in the third quarter compared with the same period of 2013. A weak global export market and mild weather and lower natural gas prices in the utility market combined to decrease volume by 2 percent. Railway operating expenses were $2.0 billion, 3 percent higher compared with third-quarter 2013, largely due to costs associated with higher business volumes. Income from railway operations was $998 million, 18 percent higher compared with third-quarter 2013. The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, was 67.0 percent, a 4 percent improvement compared with 69.9 percent during the same period of 2013. (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/22)

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS: CN today reported its financial and operating results for the third quarter and nine-month period ended Sept. 30, 2014. Third-quarter and nine-month 2014 financial highlights
  • Net income was C$853 million, or C$1.04 per diluted share, compared with net income of C$705 million, or C$0.84 per diluted share, for the year-earlier quarter. The Q3-2013 results included a C$19-million (C$0.02 per diluted share) income tax expense resulting from the enactment of higher provincial corporate income tax rates.
  • Excluding the above Q3-2013 income tax expense, Q3-2014 diluted EPS of C$1.04 increased 21 per cent over last year's adjusted diluted EPS of C$0.86. (1
  • ) Operating income for the third quarter of 2014 increased 19 per cent to C$1,286 million.
  • Third-quarter 2014 revenues and carloadings set all-time quarterly records, with revenues rising 16 per cent to C$3,118 million and carloadings increasing 11 per cent to 1,475 thousand. Revenue ton-miles grew by 13 per cent.
  • CN's operating ratio for Q3-2014 improved by one point to 58.8 per cent from 59.8 per cent for the year-earlier quarter.
  •   Free cash flow for the first nine months of 2014 was C$2,045 million, up from C$1,307 million for the comparable period of 2013.
Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: "CN delivered outstanding third-quarter financial results while improving customer service levels and maintaining industry-leading operating efficiencies. Solid execution by our team of railroaders enabled us to accommodate the significantly higher freight volume generated by a record Canadian grain crop, strong energy markets, and new business, particularly in intermodal and automotive. "The results underscore CN's commitment to investing ahead of the curve in resources and rail infrastructure and playing our role as a true backbone of the economy." 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. As such, the Company's results are affected by exchange-rate fluctuations. On a constant currency basis that excludes the impact of fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, CN's third-quarter 2014 net income would have been lower by C$22 million, or C$0.03 per diluted share. (1) Third-quarter 2014 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses Revenues for the third quarter of 2014 increased by 16 per cent to an all-time quarterly high of C$3,118 million. Revenues increased for grain and fertilizers (29 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (21 per cent), metals and minerals (17 per cent), automotive (17 per cent), intermodal (14 per cent), and forest products (eight per cent). Coal revenues declined by three per cent.   The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to higher freight volumes due to a record Canadian grain crop, strong energy markets, particularly crude oil and frac sand, new intermodal business including temporary diversions from U.S. west coast ports, as well as new automotive business; the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; and freight rate increases. Carloadings for the third quarter rose 11 per cent to 1,475 thousand, an all-time record quarterly performance. Revenue ton-miles, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by 13 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 two 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 an increase in the average length of haul. Operating expenses for the quarter increased by 14 per cent to C$1,832 million. The increase was mainly attributable to increased purchased services and material expense, increased labor and fringe benefits expense, the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses and higher fuel costs. (CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/22)

NEW LOCOMOTIVES HERALD NEW ERA FOR KEYSTONE SERVICE: Passengers on Monday’s Train 605 from Philadelphia to Harrisburg were aboard the first Keystone Service train in revenue operation to be powered by the modern and reliable Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) electric locomotive. Use of the high-tech locomotives is the latest step forward in the long-standing partnership between Amtrak and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which share the revenue as well as operating and equipment maintenance costs of the Keystone Service. Amtrak is acquiring 70 of the state-of-the-art locomotives that will operate on the electrified Northeast and Keystone Corridors. More than a dozen ACS-64 units are now in service with the remainder to be delivered through the end of 2015. The new locomotives replace older equipment that have seen between 25 and 35 years of service, and accumulated an average of more than 3.5 million miles each. “The Keystone Service provides transportation that is competitive with driving, and these locomotives will further improve customer service,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch. “Our new transportation plan will allow us to keep improving the service and the stations so the experience on and off the train is a great one.” “We commend and thank Amtrak for acquiring and using this new equipment for the Keystone Service. The passage of our new transportation plan, Act 89, stabilized our ability to fund passenger rail service and allows us to continue and accelerate our investment in intercity rail,” he added. Ridership on the Keystone Service has grown to more than one million riders annually, up 60 percent since more than $145 million worth of infrastructure improvements were made under the Keystone Corridor Improvement Program in 2006. The upgrades have enabled faster speeds and more frequent departures between Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia and New York. “The Keystone Service is an important link connecting Central and Eastern Pennsylvania with the rest of the Northeast Corridor,” explained Jay Commer, Amtrak General Manager of State-Supported Services. “We value our partnership and the new locomotives will help drive continued ridership, revenue and regional economic growth along the Keystone Corridor.” The new locomotives are designed for improved reliability and easier maintenance which leads to increased availability for service. A state-of-the-art microprocessor system performs self-diagnosis of technical issues, takes self-corrective action and notifies the locomotive engineer. In addition, there are redundant systems to ensure power is maintained to the passenger cars to keep heating and cooling systems working, the lights on and the doors operational. The locomotives also meet the latest federal rail safety regulations, including crash energy management components. Among the benefits of the ACS-64 is the ability to feed energy back into the power system for use by other trains through a process known as regenerative braking. When the entire ACS-64 fleet is deployed, this feature is estimated to save 3 billion kilowatt hours of energy. The locomotives are being built by Siemens and assembled at its facility in Sacramento, Calif., with parts from more than 60 suppliers representing more than 50 cities and 20 states. (Amtrak - posted 10/21)

SAVAGE WINS CONTRACT FOR CSX LOCOMOTIVE MOBILE FUELING SERVICES: Savage today announced an agreement with CSX to provide locomotive fueling services at 30 sites across the CSX network in the eastern United States. CSX is a premier rail transportation supplier, with 21,000 route miles of track in 23 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. “We’re pleased that CSX selected us to handle their locomotive fueling services, building on our strong partnership and demonstrating confidence in our commitment to operational excellence and safety,” said Kirk Aubry, Savage president and chief operating officer. “Our goal is to deliver innovative solutions to our customers’ unique supply chain challenges. Our people, processes and technology will ensure that CSX locomotives keep moving and arriving at their destinations on schedule.” Prior to the new agreement, Savage had been providing locomotive fueling services at four CSX sites. Savage also provides transloading services—moving products between railcars and trucks—at 31 terminals across the company’s network. (Savage - posted 10/21)

GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES MBTA'S RECOMMENDED COMPANY TO BUILD NEW SUBWAY CARS IN MASSACHUSETTS: Governor Deval Patrick today announced that the MBTA will present to the Board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) the recommended company to manufacture and deliver 284 new subway cars for the Red and Orange Lines, replacing decades-old vehicles. Joined by MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey and MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, as well as state and local officials, Governor Patrick announced that the recommended company, CNR MA, will build a 150,000 square foot facility in Springfield to assemble the vehicles, creating over 250 new manufacturing and construction jobs in the region. The contract is pending approval by the MassDOT Board of Directors, which is schedule to meet on Wednesday to vote on the recommendation. The contract with CNR MA will include the purchase of 152 new Orange Line Vehicles and 132 new Red Line vehicles to replace the 44-year old Red Line cars and 32-year old Orange Line cars. The contract also includes the option to purchase an additional 58 Red Line cars. The new cars will provide improved reliability, accessibility and energy efficiency. New car features include increased capacity and additional seating, wider and electrically operated doors, four accessible areas per car, LED lighting, modern HVAC systems and advanced passenger information and announcement systems. “This is a critical investment in the future of public transportation in Greater Boston and in the economic wellbeing of Western Massachusetts," said Governor Patrick. "It will open up opportunities for the residents of the Pioneer Valley by creating quality construction and manufacturing jobs that will propel growth in the region for years to come." The design process will take approximately three years for the Orange Line cars and an additional 15 months for the Red Line. Pilot cars for the Orange Line are to be delivered in early 2018 and the Red Line pilot cars will be delivered about a year later. Delivery of production cars will occur at a rate of approximately four cars per month between winter 2018 and winter 2021 for the Orange Line and between fall 2019 and spring 2021 for the Red Line. CNR MA intends to build a new manufacturing facility for final assembly of the Red and Orange Line Vehicles at 655 Page Boulevard in Springfield. This facility will serve as CNR MA’s US Headquarters. CNR MA plans to build a facility that includes over 150,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space. The facility will also include a dynamic test track, which will enable testing prior to shipment of the vehicles to the MBTA. CNR MA plans to invest $60 million of its own resources into the facility. CNR MA estimates the new facility will create more than 150 new manufacturing jobs and 100 new construction jobs. Construction of the new plant is expected to begin in the fall of 2015. “The awarding of this contract is the culmination of years of work and development by teams at MassDOT and the MBTA,” said Secretary Davey. “By making this important investment, and ensuring that it provide for new jobs and increase economic opportunity in Massachusetts, we are making a commitment to the future of sustainable, accessible public transit that is more reliable, more frequent and better serves the needs of our Commonwealth.” The new Orange Line cars will replace the entire current fleet that has an average of 1.5 million miles on them. On a typical weekday, the Orange Line fleet carries over 200,000 people. The order will also increase the fleet size, allowing for increased passenger capacity and decreased passenger wait times by reducing headways from six minutes to four during rush hour. The Red Line order will replace the current fleet of “No. 1” cars and the additional contract option would allow for replacement of the 27-year old “No. 2” cars. The “No. 1” cars have an average of 2.3 million miles and the “No. 2” cars an average of 1.4 million miles; these cars currently run on the Red Line which serves an average of 272,000 customers on a typical weekday. “Today marks an important step in improving the daily commutes of hundreds of thousands of our MBTA customers,” said GM Scott. “By replacing the aging fleets of Red and Orange Line cars, we will be able to reduce travel and wait times, increase capacity and improve accessibility, security and the overall experience for our customers.” Both the new Red and Orange Line cars will allow for an average of 15 additional passengers per car; and accessibility upgrades such as wider doors will allow for ADA access even when one door is non-functioning. Other upgrades include bridge plates and advanced customer information systems such as automatic station announcements on state-of-the-art public address systems and LED information signs. The new cars are also being designed with sustainable features such as environmentally-friendly HVAC systems, LED lighting and regenerative braking. New safety and security features are also being built in such as video surveillance systems with “live look in” capability, higher windscreens on doors and even “black box” style event recorders. The total project budget is approximately $1.3 billion, and includes the funds necessary to expand and improve the MBTA’s rail car maintenance and storage facilities in Medford and Boston. Made possible by the passage of the Transportation Finance Law last year, the Orange and Red Line car procurement project is funded entirely by State Transportation Bond Funds. The Request for Proposals was released a year ago, and six companies submitted proposals. Of the six proposals, four of them met the minimum requirements and were rated on criteria ranging from technical and manufacturing experience, past performance, quality assurance, and price. CNR MA submitted the lowest bid at $556.6 million. This MBTA project builds on previous unprecedented investments made by the Patrick Administration in the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure. MBTA investments include three new T stations opened along the Fairmount Line in Roxbury and Dorchester, work now underway to bring the Green Line Extension to Union Square and Washington Street in Somerville and the completion of the first new Orange Line T station in 25 years at the Assembly Row development in Somerville. Overall, MBTA “state-of-good-repair” investments are approaching nearly $600 million per year while introducing customer-focused improvements such as subway countdown clocks, smartphone apps for tracking the arrival of buses and trains, mobile ticketing for commuter rail and improved accessibility with new elevators and escalators. (MBTA - posted 10/21)

CP CONFIRMS TERMINATION OF EXPLORATORY TALKS WITH CSX: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced today that exploratory conversations held with CSX Corp. about a possible business combination have ended. No further talks are planned. CP proposed an integrated coast-to-coast combination that would improve customer service, promote competition, alleviate congestion in North America – specifically the key Chicago gateway – and generate significant shareholder value. Such a business combination would offer creative alternatives for shippers, greater fluidity, increased capacity and improved efficiency industry-wide. While regulatory concerns appear to be a major deterrent for many railroads considering combinations, CP believes that given the right structure between the right players, and having thoughtful considerations and remedies to address shipper concerns, regulatory approvals are achievable. The North American rail industry is confronted today with the challenges of moving more freight than ever and the prospect of moving even more as oil production, crop yields and consumer demand grow alongside the economy. CP is convinced that the significant problems that beset the industry now will only worsen over time if solutions aren't put in place immediately. A pro-competition, customer-friendly, safety-focused railway combination is one such solution that could not be ignored on its merits by regulators. CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison will discuss the topic of railroad mergers and acquisitions and the need for a comprehensive North American transportation policy with the financial community, media and any other interested parties, in a conference call beginning at: 1:00 pm Eastern time, Tuesday Oct. 21. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/20)

FLORIDA EAST COAST AND PORTMIAMI'S SUNSHINE GATEWAY SERVICE: Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) and PortMiami, through a strategic alliance, are offering the Sunshine Gateway service, which includes on-dock intermodal rail capabilities.  This seamless ship to rail transfer allows the port to handle additional volumes and ensures that shipments move more quickly and efficiently with the potential to reach 70 percent of the United States population in four days or less.  "Our goal has always been to facilitate the process of cargo shipments for fast and efficient delivery to our customers," said Juan M. Kuryla, PortMiami Director.  "Through our partnership with FECR, we are expanding access for shipments coming into and out of the port to reach their final destinations seamlessly and with greater reliability." Another proactive step has been the PortMiami -50 ft. deep dredge project enabling the port to handle larger TEU vessels.  Kuryla stated, "Our investments in infrastructure and collaboration with innovative providers like FECR, ensure that we are well positioned for the Panama Canal expansion." President and CEO James R. Hertwig noted, "In today's global marketplace, shippers often need solutions that go beyond the United States borders and involve multiple modes to move goods from the point of origin to the final destination.  In order to meet the needs of supply chain managers, it is important for various modes of transportation to work together seamlessly.  We are pleased with the positive impact we have seen as a result of our partnership with PortMiami and look forward to continuing to provide effective solutions for shippers." In January 2015, FECR and PortMiami will hold an event celebrating this new service (FEC, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/20)

GOV. PATRICK ANNOUNCES FAIRMOUNT LINE SERVICE UPGRADES : Governor Deval Patrick today joined MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey, MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott and state and local officials to announce a package of service upgrades to the MBTA's Fairmount Commuter Rail Line to improve the Line’s reliability, frequency and to increase access to public transit options for area residents. Governor Patrick announced four improvements being made to the Line, including the implementation of hourly weekend service along the Fairmount line starting this fall, the permanent continuation of the successful pilot fare program introduced last year to align fares on the Line with fares on the MBTA’s rapid transit lines, the MBTA’s issuing of a Request for Proposals (RFP) in December to acquire 30 Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs), the majority of which will be used on the Fairmount line to improve trip frequency and reliability and that construction of Blue Hill Avenue station will resume, with 100 percent design expected in spring 2015. "We invest in infrastructure to revitalize urban neighborhoods and bolster growth and opportunity across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Patrick. “With this project we are paving the way for future opportunities that will advance economic development in Boston and help build a brighter future for Massachusetts." The implementation of hourly Saturday and Sunday service will mark the first time weekend service has been offered on the Line. Service will begin November 29, in time for the holiday shopping season. Fares along the line will cost $2.10 one way, with the exception of Readville, making trips in and out of South Station on the Commuter Rail as affordable as a subway ride. “The addition of regular weekend service on the Fairmount Line is great news, improving access to public transportation for area residents,” said Congressman Michael Capuano. “The state’s commitment to purchasing DMUs and using most of them on the Fairmount Line will increase the frequency of service as well as reduce the environmental impact of the trains.” “MassDOT and the MBTA have worked closely with the Fairmount Line community to find the best ways to improve reliability, frequency and affordability,” said Richard A. Davey, MassDOT Secretary and CEO. “Today’s announcement delivers on those goals and will lead to broadened opportunity and increased economic growth along the Fairmount Line.” The procurement for the first 30 Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) will allow for greater train frequency without the expense or time of changing infrastructure. DMUs are self-propelled rail cars that operate along commuter rail tracks and can run either as single cars, or in consists of two and three cars. The MBTA will procure an initial DMU fleet of 30 cars at an estimated cost of $240 million. The RFP is scheduled for release in December 2014, with pilot car delivery in 2018, and complete delivery in 2020. DMUs are planned to operate first on the Fairmount Line. “The introduction of DMUs on the Fairmount line will reduce travel times and offer more options for travelling in and out of downtown Boston ,” said MBTA General Manager, Dr. Beverly Scott. “Combined with the now permanent reduced fare structure and weekend service, transportation options for residents living in the urban core are growing and improving all around.” "The MBTA's Fairmount Commuter Rail Line provides access to people in Dorchester and all connected neighborhoods, ensuring reliable transportation to employment opportunities and Boston's shopping centers and restaurants," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "Because of the hard work and dedication of Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey, and Dr. Scott, strong partnerships are unlocking a neighborhood’s full potential and envisioning the future of mobility in Boston." "The Blue Hill Avenue Station will connect our community with downtown and to the rest of the city, increasing greater access to jobs, services and opportunities," said Senator Linda Dorcena Forry. "I want to thank the community for their hard work throughout this process. This project will allow Mattapan residents to compete for quality jobs. I want to also thank Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey, General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott and my colleagues in government for their collaborative efforts to make this station a reality.” Construction of Blue Hill Avenue Station, close to Mattapan Square, will address a major gap along the Fairmont corridor. This station will provide intermodal links to four bus routes and is only a quarter-mile from Mattapan Square, a major retail hub and also the terminus of the Mattapan High Speed Line offering connections to Milton, Dorchester and the Red Line. The MBTA has worked closely with neighbors and abutters toward a design that will feature a center-island platform between the Fairmount Line tracks. The total project budget is expected to be $25.2 million, funded by an Intergovernmental Service Agreement as an obligation from the Central Artery Project. The project is expected to reach 100 percent design in May 2015 and go out to bid in September 2015. Construction is expected to begin in November 2015 and take approximately two years, with the station opening expected in December 2017. (MassDOT - posted 10/17)

WILLIAM J. RONAN, MTA'S FIRST CHAIRMAN DIES AT 101: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is saddened by the death of William J. Ronan, the MTA’s first chairman, who died Wednesday at the age of 101. Ronan was appointed chairman of the agency – then known as the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority – in 1965 by New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. A well-known advocate of public transportation, Ronan was key to the expansion of transit options in the New York metropolitan area during his tenure at the MTA and his later work as head of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. “Bill Ronan was a legend in the field of public transportation and an inspiration for everyone who understands that mass transit is the engine that powers New York,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “His vision of how an integrated transportation system can improve the region, and his skill in turning that vision into reality, have made life better for millions of our customers every day. We at the MTA send our deepest condolences to his family, and remember his service fondly.” Ronan was born in Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 8, 1912, and attended schools in upstate New York, including Syracuse University, where he graduated in 1934. He received a doctorate from New York University in international law and diplomacy. He later became a professor and dean at NYU, where he established what is now NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He met Rockefeller two years before the latter became governor of New York, and became his private secretary in 1958. Under the Rockefeller administration, Ronan helped set up the Tri-State Regional Transportation Commission, which was created as a transportation group to serve the commuting needs of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In 1965, Ronan had been the governor’s representative at negotiations to purchase the Long Island Rail Road from the Pennsylvania Railroad. Ronan served as the head of the MTA from March 1968 to April 1974, when he became chairman of the Port Authority. The MCTA became the MTA in 1967 after the governor gained voter approval on a bond issue and legislative support to form the agency. The MTA assumed control of public transport agencies and eventually took over privately run commuter lines as well. During Ronan’s tenure, the MTA created the Metro-North Railroad by acquiring separate commuter lines. With Ronan at the helm of the agency, the MTA embarked on a number of ambitious improvement and capital projects, such as new subway lines in Queens and the Second Avenue Subway. In one farsighted move, the agency built a two-level rail tunnel under the East River at 63rd Street – one level now carries an expansion of the F subway line, and the other is being used for the East Side Access project to bring LIRR trains into Grand Central Terminal. The elevated transit lines that ran along Manhattan’s East Side began closing in the 1930s, with the Third Avenue elevated line closing in 1955. Yet with the city’s economy booming after World War II and the elimination of the elevated lines, increased commercial and residential development in the area led to a need for more transit options. “You can’t go on building office buildings, apartment buildings, without planning for adequate transit,” Ronan said in proposing the Second Avenue Subway. When the Second Avenue elevated line shuttered in 1942, a subway replacement had been promised, and Ronan declared that it was time to start construction in 1972. He presided over its groundbreaking at 103rd Street and Second Avenue on Oct. 27, 1972. The project was halted five years later due to New York City’s fiscal crises, but resumed in 2007. Nearly 40 years later and thanks to Ronan’s forward thinking, his dream of a Second Avenue Subway is becoming reality. The MTA estimates the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway will open for service by the end of 2016. (MTA - posted 10/17)

ENGLEWOOD FLYOVER NOW IN SERVICE: During the weekend of October 10 and 11, the $142-million Englewood Flyover, which carried Metra’s Rock Island District tracks above NS’ former CR Chicago Line tracks, was placed in service.  Located at 63rd St, in South Chicago, Englewood had been one of the most delay prone diamond crossings in the Chicago terminal area due to 78 Rock Island District commuter trains competing for space with nearly 100 NS and 14 Amtrak trains.  Now the commuter trains can run at a maximum speed of 79 MPH above the freights and Amtrak’s.  NS is removing the diamonds. . (Andy Kirk - posted 10/16)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Oct. 11, 2014 with 298,376 total carloads, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 273,436 units, up 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 571,812 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,333 carloads, up 19.5 percent, and nonmetallic minerals with 38,860 carloads, up 12.2 percent. For the first 41 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,920,873 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 10,627,448 units, up 5.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 41 weeks of 2014 was 22,548,321 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 89,822 carloads for the week, up 5.2 percent, and 60,183 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 41 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,279,947 carloads, up 1.4 percent from the same point last year, and 2,350,547 intermodal units, up 6.7 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 19,745 carloads for the week, up 38.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 14,238 intermodal units, up 30.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 41 weeks of 2014 was 646,821 carloads, up 3.0 percent from the same point last year, and 435,413 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 41 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 15,847,641 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,413,408 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.7 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 10/16)

CSX CELEBRATES FUTURE OF INTERMODAL TRANSPORTATION AT CENTRAL FLORIDA ILC GRAND OPENING: CSX. along with federal, state and local officials, today celebrated the grand opening of the new Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center (ILC) in Winter Haven. The facility, which began operations earlier this year, provides a centralized hub for transportation, logistics and distribution serving Orlando, Tampa and other regional Florida markets. "The Central Florida ILC is the result of strategic collaboration between the City of Winter Haven, numerous state and local partners and CSX to create jobs and further strengthen Florida's transportation system," said Michael Ward, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at CSX. "CSX is proud to invest in this important development in our home state that will help to drive Florida's economy and position the state for continued growth in the future."  More than 200 people attended today's event including U.S. Congressmen Daniel Webster and Tom Rooney and officials from the City of Winter Haven, Polk County Board of County Commissioners, the Florida Legislature, and others. "The Central Florida ILC is a game changer for Winter Haven not only because of the opening of the state-of-the-art terminal, but because of the economic development potential this project represents," said Winter Haven Mayor Nathaniel Birdsong.  "Winter Haven is now a partner in the freight distribution industry, and is in the position to serve as an inland port for the global entry of goods and merchandise in Florida.  We are proud to be the home of such an extensive project, which sets the stage for tremendous growth in the Polk County region." The 318-acre intermodal terminal has capacity to process up to 300,000 containers a year and is designed for scalable expansion as freight volumes continue to grow. The terminal incorporates advanced environmentally-friendly technology including three high-powered electric cranes, solar panels and high mast exterior lighting to maximize energy efficiency. "The value of Florida's transportation system is in the seamless connectivity between its many modes," said Clarence Gooden, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at CSX. "This terminal is a model for how Florida's transportation modes work together collectively for the good of customers and the communities we serve." The terminal is surrounded by 930 acres that are being developed in phases to build up to 7.9 million square feet of warehouse distribution centers and light industrial facilities. In July, Winter Haven Industrial Investors LLC purchased more than 500 acres of the adjoining property for phase one of this development, which is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the area and support the freight transportation needs of customers throughout the region. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/16)

SEPTA AWARDED $86.8 MILLION FTA GRANT TO STRENGTHEN SYSTEM AGAINST STORMS: SEPTA has received an $86.8 million federal grant for seven projects designed to improve the transit system's resilience to severe weather events. The resources come from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Emergency Relief Program, which was funded in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. These improvements will allow SEPTA to harden core elements of its infrastructure to protect against weather-related impacts. The Authority's needs were documented by the SEPTA Infrastructure Resilience Program, and the federal grant supporting the projects is the result of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. "SEPTA would like to thank the Southeastern Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation for their work to highlight the critical needs that will be addressed with this funding," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "This advocacy from our local elected officials was key in gaining the FTA's support." Casey added: "Through the Emergency Relief Program, the FTA is helping SEPTA take proactive measures to limit damage from severe weather events. This will help keep SEPTA - and the Philadelphia region - moving amid the challenging conditions major storms leave in their wake." Funded projects include: - Railroad Embankment and Slope Stabilization Project: $18.7 million to stabilize and harden soil and rock slopes along a series of vulnerable 19th century railroad cuts in Montgomery and Delaware Counties. Rail service through these cuts serving the Warminster, West Trenton, and Lansdale/Doylestown and Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Lines carry 48,870 weekday riders - or more than 16 million annual trips, which represents nearly half of SEPTA's entire Regional Rail ridership.
  • - Sharon Hill Line Flood Mitigation Project: $3.8 million to construct a pumped drainage system that will provide relief from flooding on the Route 102 Sharon Hill Trolley Line in Delaware County. A frequently flooded underpass along the line forces SEPTA to rely on a bus substitution program to detour service around the high-water area more than a dozen times each year. Bus substitution is employed at a significant cost and disruption to passengers.
  • - Railroad Signal Power Reinforcement Project: $32 million to reinforce signal power across the Regional Rail system. Non-insulated cable and aging power distribution systems have proven highly vulnerable to extreme weather. During extreme weather events, downed branches and trees often breach non-insulated cable, interfering with the distribution of signal power and causing significant delays that ripple throughout the entire Regional Rail network.
  • - Ancillary Control Center Project: $9 million to construct a back-up control center facility at a strategic location in the City of Philadelphia to allow for remote dispatching of transit service in the event of an emergency.
  • - Subway Pump Room Emergency Power Project: $3.7 million to install an integrated series of emergency power systems for pump rooms throughout SEPTA's subway tunnels in the City of Philadelphia. Pumps are active all-day, every day, pumping out groundwater from the subway tunnels. An integrated emergency power network will help to protect passengers and infrastructure from the risk of flooding that could result from widespread power outages.
  • - Jenkintown Area Flood Mitigation Project: $15 million to study and implement improvements to the hydrologic conditions at Jenkintown, a key hub in SEPTA's Regional Rail network in Montgomery County. During heavy rain events, the convergence of three contributory areas (the Tacony Creek, Baeder Run and Tookany Creek) often overrun SEPTA's railroad right of way, disrupting service. The study will identify opportunities to better manage water flow from extreme weather.
  • - Manayunk/Norristown Line Shoreline Stabilization Project: $4.5 million to stabilize 2.45 miles of railroad right of way adjacent to the Schuylkill River in Montgomery County. The Manayunk/Norristown Line is one of SEPTA's most flood-prone assets and was the focus of a comprehensive FTA-funded vulnerability and risk assessment undertaken in 2012. The Schuylkill River has experienced more than half of its highest crests in recorded history at Norristown since 2003..
(SEPTA - posted 10/15)

CN CELEBRATES OFFICIAL OPENING OF STATE-OF-THE-ART EMPLOYEE TRAINING FACILITY IN HOMEWOOD, ILL: CN today officially opened its new employee training center in suburban Chicago. The 55,000-square-foot facility will host up to 250 CN students from across the United States every week, with hands-on training for all key railway jobs. Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "The opening of this state-of-the-art training center is a cornerstone in CN's workforce renewal, which this year will see the hiring of more than 3,500 employees across our North American network. "Our training campus in Homewood, adjacent to CN's Woodcrest mechanical shop, will enhance our railroader training programs, help us instill a strong safety culture amongst our new hires, and reinforce it across all current employees who are learning new skills or upgrading existing ones. "The new U.S. training center is located in our busy Chicago Terminal and at the center of CN's U.S. operations. The Chicago area is the largest freight hub in North America and suburban Homewood is home to CN's U.S. headquarters." The new center will offer courses for jobs ranging from conductor to car mechanic, and from track supervisor to signal maintainer. Employees will receive hands-on training in learning laboratories with equipment such as locomotive simulators and dispatcher stations. Outdoor labs with dedicated rolling stock and other equipment for field training will also be a key focus. CN has invested $25 million in the Homewood training campus and it is the second of two modern employee training centers to open on CN's network this year. Last month CN marked the completion of its new training center in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where up to 350 students from across Canada will train every week. (CN - posted 10/14)

CSX ANNOUNCES RECORD THIRD-QUARTER RESULTS: CSX Corporation today announced record third quarter net earnings of $509 million, or $0.51 per share, up from net earnings of $455 million, or $0.45 per share, in the same period last year. This performance was supported by volume increases of 7 percent, with broad-based growth across nearly all markets CSX serves.  "As the economy continues to expand, the company's record third-quarter results are built on the foundation of CSX's network reach, sustainable growth opportunities, and the efforts of our 31,000 employees," said Michael J. Ward, president, chairman and chief executive officer. "At the same time, we are focused on the execution of our core strategy.  That means enhancing our ability to grow faster than the economy, price above inflation, make strategic investments and produce ever more efficient operations to continue delivering superior shareholder value." Revenue of $3.2 billion, an 8 percent increase over the same period last year, is evidence of CSX's ability to leverage the continued economic momentum that is driving strength across nearly all markets CSX serves, coupled with secular growth trends in the intermodal and energy markets.  With the high level of demand and operations that remained stable, the company produced operating income of $976 million and an operating ratio of 69.7 percent.  On the strength of this performance, CSX expects to sustain double-digit earnings growth and margin expansion in 2015, and continues to target a mid-60s operating ratio longer term. (CSX - posted 10/14)

NJ TRANSIT SERVICE FOR FAR HILLS STEEPLECHASE ON SATURDAY NJ TRANSIT is offering extra rail service between Hoboken and Far Hills to carry thousands of spectators to and from the 94nd annual Far Hills Steeplechase at Moorland Farms on Saturday, October 18. NJ TRANSIT’s Far Hills Station on the Gladstone Branch of the Morris & Essex Lines is located directly across the street from Moorland Farms. Customers are advised that beverages will not be permitted on any train to and from Far Hills on October 18. Due to the anticipated high ridership and crowding expected along the Morris & Essex Lines on October 18, customers are also strongly encouraged to purchase roundtrip tickets in advance to avoid lines. Customers purchasing one-way, return trip tickets from Far Hills Station will pay $20 for travel between Far Hills to any NJ TRANSIT Rail station destination on October 18 only. To accommodate the additional trains, regular Saturday rail service will be adjusted and buses will replace trains for some trips. Detailed schedule information is available at njtransit.com. Customers are advised of the following:
  • Shuttle buses will replace all trains between Gladstone, Peapack and Far Hills stations from approximately 9 a.m. until approximately 7:30 p.m. Shuttle buses will operate in a continuous loop serving all three stations.
  • Buses will replace certain Gladstone Branch trains inbound from Gladstone and outbound from Summit. Substitute bus service will be provided. Visit njtransit.com for bus departure times and boarding locations.
Service to the Races:
  • NJ TRANSIT will operate 8 additional trains from Hoboken to Far Hills, with departures at 8:31 a.m., 8:54 a.m., 9:08 a.m., 9:35 a.m., 10:05 a.m., 10:35 a.m., 11:20 a.m., and 12:30 p.m.
  • Customers traveling from New York should transfer to Gladstone Branch trains at Summit Station.
Service from the Races: Trains will depart Far Hills Station every 20-45 minutes between 3:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. All post-event trains will make all local stops to Hoboken. Customers traveling to New York must change trains at Summit Station. (Midtown Direct service between Dover and New York will operate on a regular Saturday schedule.) NJ TRANSIT is offering extra rail service between Hoboken and Far Hills to carry thousands of spectators to and from the 94nd annual Far Hills Steeplechase at Moorland Farms on Saturday, October 18. NJ TRANSIT’s Far Hills Station on the Gladstone Branch of the Morris & Essex Lines is located directly across the street from Moorland Farms. Customers are advised that beverages will not be permitted on any train to and from Far Hills on October 18. Due to the anticipated high ridership and crowding expected along the Morris & Essex Lines on October 18, customers are also strongly encouraged to purchase roundtrip tickets in advance to avoid lines. Customers purchasing one-way, return trip tickets from Far Hills Station will pay $20 for travel between Far Hills to any NJ TRANSIT Rail station destination on October 18 only. To accommodate the additional trains, regular Saturday rail service will be adjusted and buses will replace trains for some trips. Detailed schedule information is available at njtransit.com. Customers are advised of the following:
  • Shuttle buses will replace all trains between Gladstone, Peapack and Far Hills stations from approximately 9 a.m. until approximately 7:30 p.m. Shuttle buses will operate in a continuous loop serving all three stations.
  • Buses will replace certain Gladstone Branch trains inbound from Gladstone and outbound from Summit. Substitute bus service will be provided. Visit njtransit.com for bus departure times and boarding locations.
Service to the Races:
  • NJ TRANSIT will operate 8 additional trains from Hoboken to Far Hills, with departures at 8:31 a.m., 8:54 a.m., 9:08 a.m., 9:35 a.m., 10:05 a.m., 10:35 a.m., 11:20 a.m., and 12:30 p.m.
  • Customers traveling from New York should transfer to Gladstone Branch trains at Summit Station.
Service from the Races:
  • Trains will depart Far Hills Station every 20-45 minutes between 3:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. All post-event trains will make all local stops to Hoboken. Customers traveling to New York must change trains at Summit Station. (Midtown Direct service between Dover and New York will operate on a regular Saturday schedule.)
(NJ Transit - posted 10/14)

CANADIAN PACIFIC SEEKING MERGER WITH CSX: "Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has approached CSX Corp about a combination that would unite two of North America’s largest railroad operators, said people briefed on the matter, as the boom in North American energy reshapes the railroad industry. CSX rebuffed the overture, made in the past week, the people said, and it isn’t clear whether CP will persist." (Wall Street Journal- posted 10/13)

NJ TRANSIT BOARD NAMES GARDNER C. TABON AS CHIEF, OFFICE OF SYSTEM SAFETY : NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors has appointed Gardner C. Tabon as the Chief of the recently established Office of System Safety, as part of an initiative to reinvigorate NJ TRANSIT’s corporate-wide safety culture. In May, NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim established the Office of System Safety to monitor, review and evaluate safety measures, programs and incidents across the system, as well as overall safety statistics and the development of safety programs pertaining to NJ TRANSIT’s operations and facilities. “Through the Office of System Safety, NJ TRANSIT aims to achieve the highest practicable level of safety for all transit modes,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox. “Under Gardner’s leadership and reporting directly to the Executive Director, this office will be the guiding force to ensuring corporate-wide system safety for our State’s public transportation network.” “As a career professional with nearly 25 years in the transportation industry, Gardner’s broad experience in rail, bus and light rail system safety will serve NJ TRANSIT and our customers well,” said Executive Director Hakim. “His depth of knowledge pertaining to safety will be an asset to the agency as we focus on improving and emphasizing common safety principles and practices across our network.” Mr. Tabon’s focus throughout his career has been the development, implementation, management and maintenance of corporate and regional safety, security and emergency preparedness-related policies and programs. Prior to joining NJ TRANSIT, Mr. Tabon served for six years as the Chief of Safety and Security for Valley Metro in Phoenix, Arizona, where he established and managed the System Safety Program Plan. Previously, he served for five years as the System Safety Officer at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, where he established policies and procedures that enabled the operating departments to function safely and efficiently. Mr. Tabon is a Certified Safety Specialist with the World Safety Organization and holds numerous professional memberships, including the American Society of Safety Engineers, the American Railways Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, ASIS International, and the National Fire Protection Association Rail Transportation Systems. (NJ Transit - posted 10/10)

GREENBRIER URGES THE NEED FOR SAFER TANK CARS, NOW: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. continued its call for prompt regulatory action to require safer tank cars, in response to recent freight train derailments involving flammable liquids. "Recent derailments, including the derailment in Saskatchewan on Tuesday, and the findings of the Quebec coroner related to the tragic death of 47 people in the Lac-Megantic accident underscore the urgency of taking concrete actions to improve tank car design for both newly-built tank cars and for tank cars currently in service," William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO of Greenbrier said. "The fact that the accident in Saskatchewan resulted in a fire and the evacuation of local homes, even though the derailed cars in the train were not carrying crude oil, also demonstrates why enhanced safety standards should apply to all tank cars containing flammable liquids - not just those carrying crude oil and ethanol. Ultimately the rail industry should transition all hazardous materials to a more robust tank car—regardless of the flash point at which these materials ignite."  "As recent derailment events have illustrated, the urgency of upgrading the safety of the North American tank car fleet is obvious. Suggestions that industry requires six, seven or even up to 10 years to fully enhance the puncture resistance of tank cars are simply wrong.  The rail supply industry can move faster than that and we will.  Greenbrier and others are already making necessary investments to address this need," Furman added. Greenbrier supports PHMSA's proposed "Option 2" design for new tank cars in flammable service built after October 1, 2015. Greenbrier was the first to announce plans to design a tank car with these specifications, which Greenbrier calls the "Tank Car of the Future," and plans to double its production capacity for new tank cars over the next 12 months to meet surging demand.  In addition, through GBW Railcar Services, LLC, a newly-launched 50/50 railcar repair joint venture with Watco Companies, LLC for retrofitting and repairing railcars, Greenbrier supports PHMSA's effort to retrofit the existing fleet of tank cars currently used in the transport of all flammable commodities.  GBW agrees with PHMSA that every packing group classification—PG I, II and III—within the Class 3 flammables category must be transported in a retrofitted tank car by 2020, an aggressive but achievable timeline. In recent comments filed with the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Greenbrier has also recommended the agency close a loophole that presents an unacceptable public safety risk by permitting the transportation of Class 3 flammable liquids in blocks of 19 or fewer legacy tank cars that PHMSA otherwise deems unsafe. Greenbrier has suggested that PHMSA focus on the commodities being transported in determining the car type to be utilized and not on the number of tank cars in a train set. "U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has stated his commitment to finalize new regulations related to flammable liquids transported by tank cars as soon as possible.  Transportation Canada has taken the lead by adopting new tank car standards earlier this year and moving forward to establish an even higher standard soon.  A similarly prompt decision in the U.S. will provide industry with the regulatory certainty it needs to continue investments already underway to produce more robust tank cars.  We urge the Secretary and Acting PHMSA Administrator Butters to act no later than the end of 2014 and then move quickly to harmonize the U.S. standards with new Canadian rules to create a unified North American tank car standard," Furman concluded. Greenbrier's Tank Car of the Future is designed for safer transportation of crude, ethanol and other flammables in North America as well as use with other hazardous materials traffic. The car has advanced safety features which include a 9/16"-thick steel tank shell, more robust top and bottom outlet protection and jacketed shells with thermal protection. These new design features combine to inhibit discharge of contents during a derailment, to reduce penetration of the tank shell and to slow "pool fires" that can result when hazardous contents of a tank car escape in a breach and are ignited. The new design will also be equal in capacity volume to the legacy DOT-111 tank car with a loading volume of 30,000 gallons. Conditional Probability of Release (CPR) measures the likelihood of tank car spills in the event of a derailment at different speeds and by different car types.  With the Tank Car of the Future design, at a derailment speed of 50 mph, CPR performance improves by up to 8 TIMES versus the majority of tank cars now operating in hazardous service in the North American fleet.  Also when measured by CPR, the Tank Car of the Future is twice as safe as the current state-of-the-art tank car for transporting hazardous materials—a fully jacketed and insulated CPC-1232. GBW will deliver on retrofit designs for the legacy DOT-111 tank cars that include optimally-sized pressure relief valves, head shields, top fittings protection, thermal protection and shell jackets with thicker metal for tank car exteriors.  Appropriate retrofit choices permit extended service for DOT-111 tank cars in flammable liquids service and for other hazardous materials transport as these cars are placed in lower risk service over time.  GBW also offers retrofit alternatives for the most recently built CPC-1232 tank cars, with features including enhancements to the bottom outlet valve and pressure relief valves that will reduce the likelihood of tank cars releasing contents in derailments.  Combined, these retrofits meaningfully improve the safety performance of all tank car types in continued service. . (Greenbrier - posted 10/10)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Oct. 4, 2014 with 299,674 total carloads, up 7.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,682 units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 576,356 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week last year. All 10 of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,037 carloads, up 26.9 percent; forest products with 11,622 carloads, up 10.9 percent; and coal with 107,884 carloads, up 8.9 percent. For the first 40 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,622,497 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 10,354,012 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 40 weeks of 2014 was 21,976,509 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 87,873 carloads for the week, up 0.4 percent, and 57,996 intermodal units, down 2.6 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 40 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,190,125 carloads, up 1.3 percent from the same point last year, and 2,290,364 intermodal units, up 6.8 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 17,955 carloads for the week, up 22.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,663 intermodal units, up 10.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 40 weeks of 2014 was 627,076 carloads, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year, and 421,175 intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads for the first 40 weeks of 2014 totaled 15,439,698 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,065,551 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.7 percent compared with last year (AAR - posted 10/09)

MBTA TO RESTORE WEEKEND SERVICE ON THREE COMMUTER RAIL LINES: MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey announced the restoration of weekend Commuter Rail service on three lines beginning this winter. The Kingston/Plymouth and Greenbush lines will see the return of Saturday and Sunday service and the Needham Line will resume Saturday service after a two year absence on December 27th. “Our customers have consistently asked for more transportation options, not fewer,” said MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey. “Today, we are happy to announce that three Commuter Rail lines will once again offer service on the weekends, opening up more transportation options and opportunity for the communities they serve.” Today’s announcement signals a return to the services previously provided to these three lines: Saturday and Sunday service to the Kingston/Plymouth and Greenbush lines and Saturday service to the Needham line. The schedules serving the area will mirror those previously offered. “Increased access and availability of public transit can only mean greater opportunity for those we serve,” said MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott. “While we often must make difficult decisions in balancing the system we want and the system we can afford, I’m pleased that today we can once again provide weekend service to these communities.” Facing a deficit for the FY13 budget, weekend service on these three lines was eliminated in 2012. MassDOT and the MBTA heard from many Commuter Rail customers, and their representatives in the legislature, requesting reinstatement of service to these areas. The restoration of service on these lines was made possible by the inclusion of funding in the FY15 state budget. “I am delighted that weekend service will be restored for the Kingston/Plymouth line,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “Local residents rely on public transportation to get in and out of Boston and tourists use the commuter rail to visit attractions on the South Shore. The discontinuation of weekend service negatively impacted our communities and it is critical that this service be permanently restored and better marketed to increase ridership levels.” The restored weekend Commuter Rail schedules will serve to once again connect communities on the South Shore to South Station by providing sustainable transportation options that will reduce both traffic congestion and pollution at an affordable price. “I want to commend my colleagues in joining with me to help reestablish the weekend MBTA commuter rail service to Needham and the surrounding communities,” said Senator Mike Rush (Norfolk & Suffolk District). “The restoring of commuter rail service on Saturday to the Needham Line will undoubtedly assist those in need of transportation to and from the city of Boston.” “I’m pleased to see the MBTA address the needs of South Shore commuters. This is something we have been arguing for a while now and something I have supported in both the budget and transportation bond bill. Many constituents have contacted me about the lack of commuter rail on the weekend. This is a great option for people who need or want to commute into the city on the weekend. While we may have missed the activity of the summer months, I hope ridership over time will support this decision,” said Senator Robert Hedlund. “The restoration of Saturday Commuter Rail service was a major priority for us this legislative session. With winter on the way, I am glad my constituents will have an easier time getting in and out of Boston,” said Senator Richard Ross. "Greenbush commuter rail riders in my district and across the coastal South Shore will be pleased to, once again, use rail service to and from Boston on weekends," said Rep. Garrett Bradley. "Many thanks to Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey and General Manager Scott for their support. Special thanks to my South Shore colleagues and legislators for their advocacy and hard work on behalf of our communities, resulting in the important restoration of weekend rail service." "Restoring weekend commuter rail service on both lines that run in our community was a significant priority this legislative session" said Representative James Murphy. "A lot of people work on the weekends, and use the MBTA to get to events around the South Shore and in Boston. It is critical that our residents and business owners have continued weekend commuter rail service." "Restoration of the Needham Commuter Rail Service on Saturday is vital to the needs of commuters from Needham, Dover and Medfield to work, shop and hopefully have fun in Boston as well as the many reverse commuters who work and shop and have fun in the communities along the route and in Needham,” said Representative Denise Garlick. “A hallmark of Needham is accessibility to Boston which is a great city. Needham's citizens and the many people who come here need and deserve safe, reliable, cost effective public transportation now and as we look to future needs." “I am excited to have worked with my colleagues in the South Shore delegation to bring about this restoration of weekend service,” said Representative Vinny deMacedo. “However, this is only a trial program and we want to make sure that our constituents utilize it to its full potential so that it becomes self-sustaining. I feel it is important to our region to have access to seven day a week train service.” "Although I am disappointed that weekend Commuter Rail service on the Kingston/Plymouth line has been interrupted for so long, I am happy that my colleagues and I were able to successfully advocate for weekend service to be restored for our constituents and the businesses who rely on it." said Rep. Tom Calter. “Getting the train engines running again on weekends will provide a real economic engine for our region and provide a much needed service for South Shore families and visitors. We welcome this news and thank our partners at the MBTA and the MassDOT for hearing our residents’ concerns and restoring this valued transportation service,” said Rep. Josh Cutler. ‘Weekend rail service to the South Shore will increase access to employment opportunities for our weekend commuters, grant day access to shopping, beaches, and historical sites, and promote economic activity for businesses from Boston through the South Shore,” said Representative James Cantwell. “Restoration of weekend service for Greenbush and the Kingston/Plymouth lines is a positive reflection of the hard work of a bi-partisan coalition of South Shore legislators, DOT officials, community leaders, and business representatives, who have all worked hard toward this announcement. We still have a great deal of hard work to do in the near future to ensure success of this service, however. I look forward to on-going working sessions with all interested parties to make sure that we have a quality transportation product with a revised schedule that meets the needs of consumers. I specifically want to thank Senate President Therese Murray and State Rep. Josh Cutler for being leaders in the Senate and the House respectively to make this important step possible today, as well as Ed Perry of WATD radio in Marshfield for his generous offer of $50,000 of free advertising to make sustained commuter service a possibility for the South Shore.” (Massachusetts Department of Transportation - posted 10/08)

AMTRAK 2014 AUTUMN EXPRESS: Due to popular demand, the Autumn Express is back. Come along for a historic train ride, departing from and returning to Philadelphia 30th Street Station on Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9, 2014. Travel through small towns, historic tunnels, see key landmarks and experience rare mileage along a route that hasn't seen regular passenger service in decades. $129 per Adult. Many Benefits. See fall scenery on a rare trip beginning with the Philadelphia Highline above and across the Penn Coach Yards and mainline. Travel along the Schuykill River and through the countryside that only freight trains travel now. You'll pass through the Flat Rock Tunnel, constructed in 1836 - 1840 (one of the oldest in the country) and the Black Rock Tunnel, constructed in 1838, the third oldest tunnel still in use in this country. After a brief stop in Harrisburg, PA, the Autumn Express will take you back to Philadelphia via Hershey and Reading, PA, while travelling through scenic Montgomery, Chester, Berks, Lebanon and Dauphin Counties.
  • The train departs Philadelphia at 9:45 am and returns at 6:00 pm.
  • Tickets are $129 for adults and include a boxed lunch (turkey sandwich, chips, water and cookie) and souvenir tote bag.
  • Children 2 - 12 ride for half price and receive a boxed lunch and tote bag.
  • Wi-Fi will be available.
  • Seating is limited for this unique opportunity
Amtrak will commence the sale of tickets on October 8 at www.amtrak.com From the 'Buy Tickets' tab:
  • Select One-Way.
  • Enter Philadelphia, PA (PHL) in the From box.
  • Enter Autumn Express Train, PA (AXP) in the To box.
  • Select November 8 or 9, 2014 as the Depart date.
  • Select the number passengers. Maximum of 8.
(Amtrak - posted 10/07)

ONTARIO NORTHLAND PRESIDENT RESIGNS: Effective this past Monday Ontario Northland President Paul Goulet resigned. In an email to employees he stated “The period since the government’s divestment announcement in 2012 has been challenging and difficult for all of us. We have also had to face the reality that our provincial subsidy was climbing to more than $100 million per year with no signs of levelling off. This is not sustainable in a time of fiscal restraint across government. Staying on as president during this period was important to me because I believe that we have a strong case for restructuring and transformation. To be able to work on an implementation plan for restructuring Ontario Northland has been the work of a lifetime. Many people including the commission, the management and employees of Ontario Northland, the ministry and regional stakeholders have spent enormous amounts of time and intellectual capital investing in this critically important decision to retain and restructure the agency." ONR Chief Operating Officer Corina Moore has been appointed as acting president until a permanent appointment is made. (Bryce Lee - posted 10/07)

MONTREAL SUBWAY IMPROVEMENTS Between 2015 and 2020, the Société de transport de Montreal (STM) will invest $ 582.5 million in the replacement of fixed equipment in the metro as part of Phase IV of the Reno-Systems program. At its last meeting, the Board also approved a settlement of borrowing $ 570 million in this regard. Montreal, 1 October 2014 - Between 2015 and 2020, the Société de transport de Montreal (STM) will invest $ 582.5 million in the replacement of fixed equipment in the metro as part of Phase IV of the Reno-Systems program. At its last meeting, the Board also approved a settlement of borrowing $ 570 million in this regard. "The subway system has a host of fixed equipment that are critical to its operations and are an impressive heritage. The Reno-Systems program aims to replace, preventive and planned manner, of such equipment at the end of life in order to maintain their reliability and security, "said Chairman of the Board of Directors of the STM, Philippe Schnobb . The work conducted under Phase IV of the program are divided into the following categories:
  • ENERGY: Replace equipment used to supply, conversion and distribution of electricity to the subway, such as district stations, post recovery, etc., as well as acquiring sites for future projects;
  • ACCESIBILITY: Make it universally accessible certain subway stations, incorporating such lifts. Thus, 17 stations (including Bonaventure) will be equipped with elevators at the end of Phase IV of Reno-Systems program;
  • VENTILATION: Upgrade the ventilation system of the tunnel to generate and control the air flow in tunnels and underground stations (eg. Construction or repair jobs and ventilation shafts, etc.) acquire sites for future projects. Replace wells for natural ventilation as well as posts exhaustion tunnel;
  • COMMUNICATIONS: Replace and add systems and infrastructure needed to control operating processes and operational communication, such as video surveillance, radio, telephony support, etc.
  • FACILITIES : Replace track equipment such as rail supports, guide bars, etc.
  • TRAIN CONTROL: Replace train control equipment.
Funding for this program is subject to approval by the City Council of Montreal, the Montreal Agglomeration and CMM. Work is eligible for a grant from the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec. A funding application will be filed once the approvals obtained. (STM - posted 10/06)

MTA ISSUES UPDATE TO POPULAR NIGHT MAP FOR SUBWAY SERVICE: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has released the fourth and latest version of MTA New York City Transit’s night map, a popular guide for customers who use the subway system between midnight and 6 a.m. The night map outlines scheduled overnight service, which is different from regular daytime service, and includes airport bus lines that are in service between midnight and 6 a.m. During weeknights, some lines do not run, while others are truncated or changed to serve local stops. A shuttle train also operates only at nights to serve Lefferts Boulevard in Queens. “Our system is the only major subway system in the world that operates 24 hours a day, but the map that most customers are familiar with doesn’t show how our service operates during a crucial part of the day,” said NYCT President Carmen Bianco. “To the 250,000 customers who use our subways during the late and overnight hours to get to work, to get home or to enjoy this city that never sleeps – this map is for you.” The most notable change in this update is the early reopening of the Montague Subway Line Tubes, where N trains run overnight between Manhattan and Brooklyn, rather than over the Manhattan Bridge as it did from August 2013 to September 2014 so Fix&Fortify-related repairs from Sandy damage could be made inside the storm-ravaged tunnels. The night maps, which MTA first distributed in 2012, have become collector’s items thanks to its design and its reverse side featuring artwork commissioned by MTA Arts & Design. Its design conveys a visual calm and quietness befitting a service guide for New York’s quieter hours, with muted colors that set it apart from its daytime counterpart. The artwork on the reverse side reflects the map’s night theme. For the first time, the MTA has featured poetry from its popular Poetry in Motion program to accompany artwork by William Low, a poster-size reproduction of his work, A Day in Parkchester. This version of the night map offers a sneak preview of upcoming Poetry in Motion placards, specifically “Awaking in New York,” a poem by Maya Angelou, who once lived in Harlem and was a member of the Harlem Writers Guild. “We selected this poem by Maya Angelou with our partners from the Poetry Society of America because we loved that it captured the spirit of the city awakening to a new day,” said Amy Hausmann, deputy director of MTA Arts & Design. “To celebrate the legacy of Dr. Angelou, this poem will be featured as part of our Poetry in Motion program and will be seen in subways and buses soon.” A Day in Parkchester by Low, who was raised in the Bronx, shows two familiar scenes of his childhood neighborhood: sunrise and moonrise. The moonrise piece, with a deepening blue sky and shades of yellow to depict lit buildings, was chosen for the night map. Both pieces, which consist of 40 colorful faceted-glass panels fabricated into 11 feet-high windows, can be viewed at two stairwells leading to the Parkchester 6 Subway Line station. "It is an honor to have this image from A Day in Parkchester accompany Maya Angelou’s poem,” said Low. “The poem and this scene feel like a memory -- I am reminded of my childhood in the Bronx, sitting by the front window of my father’s Chinese hand laundry, watching the trains rumble out of my station." Previously the maps were printed in small runs and available at specific locations. Owing to their growing popularity, 100,000 of the latest version are now available at stations throughout the subway system and Staten Island Railway in the largest distribution of the night maps so far. (MTA - posted 10/06)

FIRST RESPONDERS COMPLETE CRUDE-BY-RAIL SAFETY TRAINING AT STATE-OF-THE-ART FACILITY IN COLORADO: CSX recently hosted crude-by-rail incident response training for 40 first responders representing 30 communities around the CSX network at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Colorado. The firefighters and police officers from Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia completed three days of training with hazardous materials specialists and instructors from CSX and the Association of American Railroads. The training focused on preparation for and emergency response to railroad incidents involving crude oil, and included an overview of the history of crude oil extraction, chemical and physical properties of different types of crude oil currently being transported, incident site and damage assessment, and tank car design and construction. Participants also practiced specialized response techniques and incident command scenarios during mock derailments. Capt. Kathleen Thompson, a 19-year veteran with the Grand Rapids (MI) Fire Department, said, “I believe I will make my department and the city I serve safer by attending this program. Not only did we hear some pretty extensive lectures on the science of crude oil and case histories on incidents, but more importantly we participated in multiple hands-on, crude oil live-fire scenarios. And I now have met and made connections with experts I can rely on if I ever have the need.” Commander Tim Henderson of the Nashville Fire Department Special Operations Division said, “The training we have received at SERTC over the past few years and our continued relationship with CSX hazmat professionals have been a tremendous benefit to our personnel. The training regarding crude oil movements by rail is a great experience and the information we received from CSX employees is exceptional.” “As a rural county, our ability to fund training of this caliber is nonexistent, so we are very appreciative of CSX for the opportunity to participate in this training,” said Deputy Fire Coordinator Daniel Imfeld of the Chautauqua County, New York HAZMAT Team. “This training will not only help us in the event of a crude oil incident but gives us the fundamentals to respond to many hazardous materials situations.” The event marked the latest step in CSX’s ongoing commitment to provide a variety of training opportunities for first responders across its network. CSX’s training reaches more than 7,000 first responders each year through hands-on sessions like those operated at SERTC, classroom training at local fire stations, exercises and table-top drills, web-based and self-study training courses. The hands-on and classroom safety training helps strengthen CSX’s partnership with first responders and provide a higher level of emergency readiness. Earlier this year the CSX Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Program visited many of these communities to train more than 1,300 local first responders in partnership with the Firefighters Education and Training Foundation. The Safety Train will make several stops in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest this fall. “This training demonstrates CSX’s commitment to helping the first responders throughout our network prepare both in the classroom and in the field for potential rail-related incidents,” said Skip Elliott, vice president, public health, safety and environment, CSX. “In addition to our CSX Operation Respond mobile application launched recently, the SERTC training brings the right information to the right people to help protect the communities we serve.” (CSX - posted 10/03)

NEW ENGINEERING REPORT DETAILS NEEDED WORK TO FIX AMTRAK N.Y. TUNNELS: A new engineering report details damage to the Amtrak-owned Hudson River and East River tunnels following Superstorm Sandy and recommends a phased process to take individual tubes out of service for extended periods to perform the work required to maintain reliability of train movements in and out of New York City. The report underscores the urgency to advance the Gateway Program which includes building new, two-track tunnel capacity under the Hudson River that can help alleviate service impacts to the region as the needed work on the tunnels is underway. “Public awareness of the critical needs of the tunnels is important to build regional understanding of what must be done to provide current and future train service levels into New York,” said Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia. “The Northeast region needs to make the Gateway Program a priority and we must get about the business of moving it forward as fast as we can.” Superstorm Sandy created a storm surge that resulted in sea water inundating both tubes of the Hudson River tunnel and two of the four tubes of the East River tunnel. The report found no evidence that the tunnel linings themselves are unsound, but it did find that chlorides and sulfates caused, and are continuing to cause, significant damage to key tunnel components such as the bench walls and track systems as well as the signal, electrical and mechanical systems. The tunnels are safe for passenger train operations. Amtrak has a robust tunnel inspection program, conducts regular maintenance work and will be performing interim work as needed. However, a permanent fix is required soon so that the tunnels remain available for long-term use by the traveling public. Amtrak engineers are working with expert consultants on designs to rehabilitate the two damaged tubes of the East River tunnel and will coordinate with other agencies to minimize impacts to train service and other projects. The rehabilitation work for both damaged tubes of the Hudson River tunnel cannot reasonably begin until after the new Gateway tunnel is built and operating. This will allow rail traffic to shift to the new tunnel and avoid major service impacts. Amtrak is advancing the Gateway Program and seeking to begin as soon as possible the environmental review process. Through the design process and additional planning work, Amtrak will develop a schedule for performing the work recommended by this report. Amtrak will ensure the safety of all passengers and balance efforts to minimize service impacts while also advancing as soon as possible the permanent fix needed for the long-term reliability of the tunnels for train service to Penn Station, New York. (Amtrak - posted 10/02)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR SEPTEMBER AND FOR THE WEEK: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for September 2014, with both carload and intermodal volume increasing compared with September 2013. U.S. Class I railroads originated 1,190,431 carloads in September 2014, up 2.7 percent, or 30,837 carloads, over September 2013. September marked the seventh straight month of year-over-year carload increases, something that hasn’t happened since early 2011. Intermodal traffic in September totaled 1,073,042 containers and trailers, up 4.5 percent, or 45,803 units, over September 2013. The second, third, and fourth weeks of September 2014 were the three highest-volume intermodal weeks in history for U.S. railroads. Fifteen of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in September. Commodities with carload increases in September 2014 over September 2013 were led by petroleum and petroleum products, up 14,375 carloads, or 28.1 percent. Carloads of crushed stone, gravel, and sand were up 11,423, or 12.6 percent, and carloads of primary metal products were up 2,931, or 7 percent. Carloads of grain rose 2,751, or 4.1 percent. Year- over-year U.S. grain carloads have risen for 12 months in a row. Commodities with carload declines in September 2014 from September 2013 were led by coal, down 8,109 carloads, or 1.7 percent. Excluding coal, U.S. rail carloads were up 38,946 carloads, or 5.6 percent, in September 2014 over September 2013. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. rail carloads were up 36,195, or 5.8 percent, in September 2014. “As has generally been the case in recent months, U.S. freight rail traffic in September was consistent with an economy that’s growing at a steady pace. We think that will probably continue for the foreseeable future,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. AAR today also reported increased rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 27, 2014. U.S. railroads originated 301,863 carloads last week, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 275,071 units, up 2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 576,934 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, led by petroleum and petroleum products, with 16,759 carloads, up 24.9 percent. Commodities that posted a decrease were led by motor vehicles and parts, with 17,235, down 8 percent. For the first 39 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,322,823 carloads, up 3.5 percent from the same point last year, and 10,077,330 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 39 weeks of 2014 was 21,400,153 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 86,881 carloads for the week, down 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 62,532 intermodal units, up 7.5 percent compared with 2013. For the first 39 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,102,252 carloads, up 1.3 percent from the same point last year, and 2,232,368 intermodal units, up 7.1 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,680 carloads for the week, up 3.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,372 intermodal units, up 0.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 39 weeks of 2014 is 609,121 carloads, up 1.7 percent from the same point last year, and 408,512 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent. Combined North American rail volume for the first 39 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 15,034,196 carloads, up 3 percent compared with the same point last year, and 12,718,210 trailers and containers, up 5.8 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 10/02)

AMTRAK HOOSIER STATE TRAINS NOW OFFER FREE WI-FI, REFRESHMENTS AND BUSINESS CLASS SEATING: Amtrak is improving service for Hoosier State passengers who travel between Indianapolis and Chicago with the addition of complimentary on-board Wi-Fi, light food and beverages and Business Class seating, Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman announced at a series of events on the route in Indiana today. The addition of the amenities is effective immediately. Amtrak is demonstrating its capabilities while it continues to operate this service under an Indiana Department of Transportation contract extension through Jan. 31, 2015. “Amtrak is Indiana’s best long-term choice for safe, reliable intercity passenger rail service that connects its people, communities and businesses to the Amtrak national network,” Boardman said. “Amtrak brings proven expertise in delivering passenger rail service, railroad operations, safety and security, equipment maintenance and repair.” Boardman’s comments came at Indianapolis Union Station before he boarded a special “whistle-stop” train to tour the route with state and local officials. Also attending were some of the 775 Amtrak employees who are Indiana residents and work aboard trains, at stations or maintain and overhaul rail equipment in Beech Grove, Ind. The four-days-weekly Hoosier State (Trains 850 & 851) -- together with the three-days-weekly Amtrak Cardinal (Trains 50 & 51) -- provides daily service between Indianapolis and Chicago and enables passengers to reach the national Amtrak network. AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi service capitalizes on multiple cellular providers to provide the best mobile experience possible, taking advantage of 4G technologies where available “We are continually looking to improve customer satisfaction, and this service is yet one more way to do so, while also delivering the speeds and connectivity required to maintain a competitive position among transportation providers,” Boardman added. AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi service capitalizes on multiple cellular providers to provide the best mobile experience possible, taking advantage of 4G technologies where available. “We are continually looking to improve customer satisfaction, and this service is yet one more way to do so, while also delivering the speeds and connectivity required to maintain a competitive position among transportation providers,” Boardman added. AmtrakConnect is provided at no cost to passengers. In order to ensure the best Wi-Fi experience for all passengers, there will be restrictions on high-volume data- activities, such as streaming video and music, and large file downloads. Amtrak also completed the addition of Wi-Fi service to other state-sponsored routes in the Amtrak Chicago Hub last December. Nationwide, approximately 85 percent of Amtrak passengers Enjoy the Journey® with free AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi. Business Class seating, available for a small surcharge, offers wider seats in a two-and-one configuration, with leg rests and foot rests, in a separate portion of the train adjacent to the refreshment area. (Amtrak - posted 10/01)

BOMBARDIER WINS NEW OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE CONTRACT IN NEW JERSEY: Rail technology leader Bombardier Transportation announced today that it signed a new contract with New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT) at the end of September to provide operations and maintenance services for NJ TRANSIT's River Line Light Rail system. The contract is valued at approximately $296 million US ($331 million CAD, 235 million euro) and covers a period of 15 years. The agreement includes an option for an additional five years. Through its wholly-owned subsidiary Southern New Jersey Rail Group, Bombardier has been operating and maintaining the River Line Light Rail system since its opening in March 2004. Bombardier's scope of work under the new contract, effective March 14, 2015, will include train operations, dispatching, vehicle maintenance as well as maintenance for all right of way, facilities and signalling infrastructure. "We are pleased to continue our partnership with NJ TRANSIT in providing reliable, safe, efficient and customer-friendly service to River Line Light Rail passengers," said Raymond Bachant, President, Americas Division, Bombardier Transportation. "The application of our World Class Operations and Maintenance Program, created through the integration of best practices drawn from Bombardier's services and manufacturing sites around the world, has brought measurable benefits to River Line Light Rail in the areas of fleet reliability, fleet availability, and asset maintenance. Through the continued implementation and expansion of this program, we look forward to achieving increasingly positive results." (Bombardier - posted 10/01)

GOV. PATRICK ANNOUNCES NEW COMMUTER RAIL STATION IN ALLSTON : Governor Deval Patrick today joined MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and state and local officials to announce that the I-90/Massachusetts Turnpike Allston Interchange Improvements project will include a new Commuter Rail stop, with pedestrian and bike access, that will allow for increased development and growth opportunities in the area. "We invest in infrastructure to revitalize urban neighborhoods and bolster growth and opportunity across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Patrick. “With this project we are paving the way for future opportunities that will advance economic development in Allston and help build a brighter future for Massachusetts." MassDOT has reached an arrangement with Harvard University that will allow for the straightening of I-90, and construction of a new Commuter Rail station, currently known as West Station, on the Worcester Line. Harvard is the current owner of Beacon Park Yard, where the MBTA plans to develop to use part of the yard for a new MBTA Commuter Rail layover and maintenance facility, a key requirement for future expanded commuter rail service into and out of South Station. “Harvard is pleased to be part of a partnership that includes the Commonwealth, City of Boston, CSXT and the general public, in helping accommodate this visionary project that will serve the region for decades to come,” said Katie Lapp, Executive Vice President of Harvard University. The I-90 Massachusetts Turnpike Allston Toll Plaza sits immediately north of Beacon Park Yard, and south of Cambridge Street. The Patrick Administration’s plan to implement All Electronic Tolling (AET) on the Turnpike has made it possible to drastically reconfigure the highway alignment in this area by relocating I-90 into a much straighter alignment south of its current location. The relocation of the Turnpike will replace a nearly half mile long structurally-deficient viaduct , which consists of 29 bridge structures built in the mid-1960’s, and will straighten the highway’s alignment through the Allston-Brighton toll area, reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions while opening up approximately 50 acres of developable land with an additional 35 acres of air rights development expected over the new highway and rail infrastructure. The project will also bring reliable, long-term relief to commuters who travel the Pike. Beacon Park Yard is a 22-acre site bordered by the existing Mass Pike, the Worcester Commuter Rail Line and the I-90 Allston Toll Plaza. This site was formerly a CSX freight and intermodal rail terminal which is now owned by Harvard University. The ability to undertake this project was made possible in large part by CSX’s decision to relocate much of its freight traffic out of the InnerCore to the Worcester area, allowing this site to be available for development. Governor Patrick announced that design and permitting would begin immediately to rebuild and straighten I-90 in October 2013. “The I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement project is a true testament to the power that thinking about transportation holistically can have,” said Secretary Davey. “The development of this project has been a fully collaborative effort, engaging teams from across MassDOT to make the best use of this promising site.” MassDOT has engaged a 49-member task force comprising neighborhood representatives, transportation advocates, institutional stakeholders and the cities of Boston and Cambridge to garner input on the interchange project. Much of the dialogue has centered on the incredible growth and development opportunity presented by the project and the need for the project to have true multi-modal transportation options, including highway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian access for the surrounding neighborhoods. "I'm pleased to support Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey, and our partners in higher education in their commitment to multi-modal transportation at this key site in Allston,” said Mayor Walsh. “This opportunity is much more than a highway project; it's about unlocking the full potential of this neighborhood, enhancing our connection with the Charles River, and envisioning the future of mobility in Boston. This promises to be an excellent opportunity for our entire region, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to see this come to fruition." "I'm thrilled that the Patrick Administration has found a way to move forward on this critical public transit improvement," said Senator Will Brownsberger. “I am excited about this project and thrilled Harvard University will be a strong partner in its development,” said Representative Michael Moran. “This investment will provide good and reliable transportation to the Allston-Brighton community.” MassDOT will initiate the detailed environmental review of the Interchange Project and West Station alternatives with the release of an Environmental Notification Form in early November which will be followed by the expected submission of Environmental Assessment next year and the design/build contract procurement process following in 2016. The full contract for the project is expected to be awarded in 2017. Preliminary conceptual designs indicate that the interstate will be routed south of its current alignment, through the existing northern portion of the rail yard. The submission of Environmental Assessment is expected next year with the design/build contract procurement process following in 2016. The full contract for the project is expected to be awarded in 2017. Preliminary conceptual designs indicate that the interstate will be routed south of its current alignment, through the existing northern portion of the rail yard. (MassDOT - posted 9/30)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES UP TO THREE BRIDGES TO BE REPLACED OVER METRO-NORTH NEW HAVEN LINE: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Metro-North Railroad and the City of Mount Vernon have agreed to work together to replace up to three priority bridges that carry vehicular traffic over Metro-North’s New Haven Line tracks in downtown Mount Vernon. The bridges are located at Tenth Avenue, Sixth Avenue and North 14th Avenue. “Our administration has made it a top priority to rebuild our infrastructure, and by replacing these century-old bridges, we are taking an important step toward preserving and improving a vital part of our transportation system and providing peace of mind to the motorists who depend on it,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am proud that the State is joining with our local and federal partners to move these important projects forward.” The design and replacement project is estimated to cost $10 million with the bulk of the funding ($7 million) to be provided by the MTA Capital Program. Another $1.3 million has been secured by New York State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow. The City of Mount Vernon anticipates receiving $1.8 million in federal funds obtained by Congressman Elliot Engel’s Office. Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti said, “We are pleased to be working together with the City of Mount Vernon to facilitate the renewal of these century-old structures that run over our tracks. We thank local, state and federal representatives for understanding the importance of funding these projects.” Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest D. Davis said, “We are proud to be partnering with Metro-North Railroad, our State and Federal colleagues for an initiative to rebuild up to three overhead bridges located in the City of Mount Vernon. We realize we are inextricably intertwined with our collaborating agencies, and it is with that in mind that we worked together to fund the replacement of these bridges. Bridges located at Sixth Avenue and Tenth Avenue are slated to be demolished and rebuilt. With the expertise of Metro-North and a $10 million budget, we are very optimistic the third bridge at Fourteenth Avenue will also be rebuilt. Replacement of these bridges at this time helps to connect structurally safe support systems to the ongoing efforts the City is making toward future redevelopment.” Congressman Engel said, “I am pleased that the MTA, state and federal governments were able to come together to fund this important transportation initiative. Investing in our infrastructure will create numerous jobs within the district in addition to improving our aging transportation system. Projects like this are an excellent investment in our community and it is my hope that upon completion of the design and cost estimates, we will be able to replace all three bridges on 10th Avenue, 6th Avenue, and North 14th Avenue.” Assemblyman Pretlow said, “I am pleased to be part of a cooperative effort involving the City and Congressman Engel to help the people of Mount Vernon and those who drive over these aging structures on a daily basis. Residents will certainly appreciate a safer road that gets them to work or school or the supermarket.” Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson said, “I am grateful that we were able to bring the state and federal officials together to make this happen. Hopefully, this will be just one step to upgrading Mt. Vernon's aging infrastructure. We have more to do.” Once funding is secured, Metro-North will solicit contractors for the design and construction work necessary for the project. Upon completing the design and finalizing cost estimates, the parties will determine whether three or two bridges will be replaced based on the available funding. Replacement of the Tenth Avenue and Sixth Avenue bridges would begin first. The 106-foot-long Tenth Avenue Bridge, which was built in 1898, is currently closed to traffic. The Sixth Avenue Bridge, built in 1894, which connects at Wilson Place, has a span of 65 feet and carries one lane of traffic in each direction. It was closed for two months in the summer of 2011 while Metro-North repaired it at a cost of $213,000. The North 14th Avenue Bridge, also built in 1894, spans 94 feet in length and also carries one lane of traffic in each direction. It was closed for two months in the summer of 2012 while Metro-North repaired it at a cost of $350,000. In Mount Vernon, the four Metro-North tracks are below street level in a “cut” that is spanned by 11 closely spaced bridges. Under agreements inherited from predecessor railroads, these bridges are the responsibility of Metro-North to maintain with the City also sharing responsibility for certain bridges. The bridges include the station pedestrian overpass, which was replaced in 2000, and the Park Avenue Bridge, which Metro-North rebuilt three years ago at a cost of $10.5 million. (MTA - posted 9/30)

NORTHERN FRAC PROPPANTS II, LLC, THE LATEST FRAC-SAND PRODUCER TO OPEN NEW PLANT ON CN'S WISCONSIN RAIL NETWORK: CN and Northern Frac Proppants II, LLC, today celebrated the opening of Northern's new state-of-the-art frac- sand production plant at Alma Center, Wis. CN now serves 13 frac-sand mines with more than 10 million tons of annual production capacity. Northern's production facility, located on CN's rehabilitated Whitehall Subdivision, will have an annual production capacity of one million tons of high-grade sands. CN plans to complete a multi-year, US$36-million upgrade of the Whitehall Subdivision between Whitehall and Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., by December of this year as part of its plan to better serve the frac-sand market. In 2012, CN spent US$35 million to restore a 40-mile segment of the Barron subdivision between Ladysmith and Almena, Wis., for frac-sand producers. CN is seeing a substantial increase in frac sand production on its Wisconsin network because of the region's reserves of high-quality and in-demand sands. These industrial sands are used by the oil and gas industry in the hydraulic fracturing process to hold shale fractures open to let natural gas and oil flow out. Jeff Alston, president and chief executive officer of Houston-based Northern Frac Proppants II, LLC, said: "We are excited to work with CN on expanding our frac-sand markets. CN's network is a plus, giving us efficient access to the Bakken, Marcellus and Canadian oil and gas shale plays. Our new facility at Alma Center, which contains all activity to one site to eliminate over-the-road trucking, will be able to accommodate both manifest and unit train service options. I'm also pleased to say the new plant will create 35 new local jobs." Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "CN is well positioned to help its frac-sand customers compete in their end markets, with rail access to the largest North American frac-sand consumption regions, including Western Canada, Texas and Marcellus shales. "We offer our frac-sand customers merchandise and unit train services to reach markets efficiently in both Canada and the U.S. As part of supply chain collaboration focus to expedite transit times, CN recently launched unit train frac-sand service between Wisconsin production facilities and distribution centres in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia. We are also investing C$45 million over a multi-year time frame to upgrade our rail lines in northern Alberta to handle frac-sand hopper cars of up to 286,000 pounds gross weight and continue to improve siding and yard capacity along our Whitehall and Barron Subs in Wisconsin. "Our unique frac-sand franchise and end-to-end service focus are paying off and should help us generate C$300 million of frac-sand revenues in 2014 – a full year ahead of CN's 2015 C$300 million target – on roughly 82,000 carloads of product. This would represent a strong increase over 2013 revenues of C$200 million on 55,000 carloads of frac sand." CN will continue to ramp up its frac sand business to meet growing demand in North America – aggregate consumption is expected to reach 78 million tons by 2016, representing a 22 per cent compounded annual growth rate between 2013 and 2016. (CN - posted 9/29)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ACHIEVES LEADERSHIP IN CARBON DISCLOSURE WITH BEST EVER SCORE: – Norfolk Southern Corp. earned recognition recently from environmental nonprofit CDP as a marketplace leader in carbon disclosure, reflecting the railroad’s broad integration of sustainable business practices into daily operations. For the first time, Norfolk Southern was named to the CDP’s 2014 S&P 500 Climate Disclosure Leadership Index. CDP cited the depth and quality of climate-change data the railroad disclosed to investors and to the marketplace through CDP, the world’s only global environmental disclosure system. Norfolk Southern’s carbon disclosure score was 98, based on a scale of 100, the company’s best-ever score in seven years of participating in the voluntary CDP survey and a 9 percent improvement over its 2013 score. “Norfolk Southern strives for performance-based results to demonstrate leadership in corporate environmental responsibility, and we are happy to announce this latest example of our commitment,” said Blair Wimbush, vice president real estate and corporate sustainability officer. “We choose to disclose the railroad’s carbon performance through CDP to be transparent and accountable to investors, customers, and communities in how we manage and attempt to mitigate environmental impacts of our operations. We are working hard to get even better.” Companies had to score at least 97 to make the leadership index. Norfolk Southern scored in the top 10 percent of Standard & Poor 500 Index companies that disclosed information about their greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related risks and opportunities. CDP disclosure scores are provided to investors and other decision makers through various channels, including Bloomberg terminals, to help them assess corporate preparedness for changing market demands and emissions regulations.  In addition to disclosure scores, the CDP awards performance grades to measure a company’s efforts to mitigate and reduce its carbon footprint. Norfolk Southern’s 2014 performance grade is B, based on a scale of A to E, matching its 2013 grade.  In its 2014 CDP disclosure, Norfolk Southern describes strategic investments in technologies, operations programs, and network improvements aimed at reducing the railroad’s carbon footprint while expanding freight capacity and providing fuel- and cost-efficient customer service. The company also reports it has achieved nearly 79 percent of a five-year goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 10 percent per revenue ton-mile, with one year remaining. To learn more, view the railroad’s CDP filing and 2014 sustainability report .(NS - posted 9/29)

TEST SERVICE WILL COMMENCE THIS MONDAY ON THE NEW DC STREETCAR LINE: The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) today announced the start of DC Streetcar’s Pre-Revenue Operations phase—a crucial milestone for DC Streetcar as it continues prepping the system to be certified safe to carry passengers. System Integration Testing (SIT) and Operator Training is wrapping up now, and Pre-Revenue Operations is anticipated to begin on Monday, September 29th. Pre-Revenue Operations is actual service simulated along the corridor without passengers. During this phase, all streetcar vehicles will run at their projected hours with projected headways (about every ten minutes). Proposed hours of operations for the streetcars are:
  • Monday-Thursday: 6:00 a.m. – midnight
  • Friday: 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
  • Saturday: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
  • Sundays and Holidays: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
The H/Benning line will be the first segment of the new DC Streetcar system to offer passenger service . Regular service on this line expected to commence later this year. About the H/Benning Line, it is a 2.4-mile segment that will serve residents, businesses, commuters and visitors between Union Station on the west and the Anacostia River on the east. Ultimately, the H/Benning line segment will be just one piece of the overall One City Line that will traverse the city east to west from beyond the Anacostia to the Georgetown waterfront. When passenger service begins, Benning Road and Oklahoma Avenue will serve as the eastern turnaround point. A Car Barn Training Center (CBTC) has been proposed near this location at Benning Road and 26th Street NE. The CBTC will handle storage and light maintenance of the vehicles, and will also feature an educational/training component for local high school and community college students. The western turnaround is on top of the Hopscotch Bridge, where passengers can disembark and follow a pedestrian path into Union Station. A future phase for DC Streetcar will pick up at Union Station and travel to the Georgetown Waterfront, primarily along K Street. ( posted 9/25)

METROLINX RAIL PURCHASE MEANS BETTER SERVICE FOR RIDERS: Ontario is taking the next step towards two-way, all-day Regional Express Rail service along the Kitchener line, with the purchase of a 53-kilometre section of CN's Guelph subdivision rail line used primarily for GO Transit service between Kitchener and Georgetown. The line runs from west of Main Street in Georgetown to Park Street in Kitchener. Metrolinx has also purchased property in Kitchener for the future site of a train-layover facility. Regional Express Rail service will mean faster, more frequent trains, operating in both directions throughout the day, in the evenings and on weekends. By increasing Metrolinx's ownership along the Kitchener rail corridor, GO Transit will be able to improve service, control operations and make infrastructure upgrades needed to support service expansion, including morning inbound trains to Kitchener and evening outbound trains back to Toronto. Building public transit and creating jobs are part of the government's economic plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate. Quick Facts:
  • GO Regional Express Rail would provide faster, more frequent service on GO corridors, in both directions, all day long.
  • With this purchase, Metrolinx now owns 80 per cent of the rail corridor over which GO Transit operates, up from 67 per cent.
  • GO Transit will be doubling train service between Kitchener and Toronto in 2016.
  • On a typical weekday, GO runs almost 250 train trips and over 2,500 bus trips that carry about 250,000 passengers.
  • GO Transit carries approximately 66 million passengers per year..
(Metrolinx, Bryce Lee - posted 9/24)

CN SELLS GEORGETOWN-KITCHENER, ONTARIO RAIL LINE TO METROLINX: CN today announced the purchase by Metrolinx of a segment of CN rail line principally used by GO Transit commuter trains in the Georgetown-Kitchener, Ont., area west of Toronto for C$76 million. Metrolinx is the Province of Ontario's regional transportation agency for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). GO Transit, a division of Metrolinx, is Ontario's inter-regional public transit system linking Toronto and the surrounding regions of the GTHA. Metrolinx is acquiring the segment of CN's Guelph Subdivision from a point west of Main Street in Georgetown to a location near Park Street in Kitchener. CN will retain freight operating rights over the line segment sold to Metrolinx (CN, Randy Kotuby, Bryce Lee - posted 9/24)

MIDDLETOWN & HUMMELSTOWN RR MIXED TRAIN: Coming up on Saturday October 4th, the M&H Railroad  has scheduled a special train - a "mixed freight". This train will consist of a mixture of freight cars, a caboose, and two passenger coaches tacked on the tail. This train will be pulled by the M&H's Western Maryland Alco S6 locomotive. The trip departs at 3:30pm, and will provide photo run-by opportunities. Passengers will be able to get off the train if they wish and take photos/videos of the train, then re-board. There is no set time duration for the trip.  It shouldn't exceed 2 hours, though. The concessions car will be included for those wanting snacks or drinks. Freight trains with passenger coaches on the tail were common in the 1930s on the M&H, but have not operated since 1939.  The fare is $30. Please reserve your seats by calling 717-944-4435, extension 104. Details are available at mhrailroad.com.   A minimum number of seats need to be sold to keep this on the schedule, so if you're looking for something unique why not give this trip a try?  ( posted 9/24)

MTA PROPOSES 2015-2015 CAPITAL PROGRAM: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today published its proposed 2015-2019 Capital Program, which details its plan to ensure safe and reliable service for a growing region by investing in the subway, bus, commuter railroad, bridge and tunnel network. The proposed $32 billion Capital Program is designed to renew, enhance and expand the MTA network, which moves 8.7 million customers every day and makes the $1.4 trillion regional economy possible. It includes vital investments to protect the safety and reliability of transit service, improve service quality and the customer experience, and expand the MTA network with new lines and connections. The MTA has invested more than $100 billion into its Capital Program since 1982, rebuilding a network that had fallen into disrepair and becoming the engine for New York’s resurgence. These improvements have led to record ridership and spurred growth throughout the region, while also increasing expectations that the MTA can continue to improve and expand. “The MTA Capital Program is our single most important effort to ensure we can keep the New York metropolitan region moving, so people can get where they need to go, businesses can thrive and the quality of life here can continue to improve,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “The MTA network is a $1 trillion asset, and it needs constant investment so it can serve everyone who relies on it now and can grow to serve more people in the future.” The largest element of the 2015-2019 Capital Program is safety and reliability projects worth $22.2 billion to renew the MTA’s transportation network. This includes buying new subway cars, Staten Island Railway cars, commuter railroad cars and buses; improving tracks, signals, power supplies, stations and support structures; renewing and enhancing the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels; and installing Positive Train Control on commuter railroads and Communications-Based Train Control on subways for safer and more reliable service. The Capital Program also proposes investing $4.3 billion in new technology, communications systems and railroad infrastructure to enhance the MTA and benefit customers throughout the region. The Capital Program also includes $5.5 billion to expand the MTA network through major investments. This includes $1.5 billion to begin the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway from 96th Street to 125th Street, $2.8 billion to complete funding for the East Side Access project that will bring the Long Island Rail Road into Grand Central Terminal, and $743 million to begin the Penn Access project to bring Metro-North New Haven Line service into Penn Station and build four new stations in the Bronx. The 2015-2019 Capital Program is scheduled to be presented to the MTA Board for approval at its September 24 meeting. The portions of the Capital Program that cover New York City Transit, the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and the MTA Bus Company, including the network expansion projects, total $29 billion and must be submitted to the state Capital Program Review Board by October 1. The remaining $3.1 billion of the Capital Program funds MTA Bridges and Tunnels projects and does not require approval by the Capital Program Review Board. The MTA has identified $16.9 billion worth of funding sources for the proposed 2015-2019 Capital Program, including more than $6 billion in federal funding, $6 billion in bonding and $3 billion in funding from MTA sources. The MTA will work with its funding partners and other stakeholders to develop proposals to bridge the $15.2 billion funding gap. The 2015-2019 Capital Program can be downloaded from this link: http://web.mta.info/capital/pdf/Board_2015-2019_Capital_Program.pdf (MTA - posted 9/23)

TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY FOXX ANNOUNCES NEARLY $3.6 BILLION TO MAKE TRANSIT SYSTEMS MORE RESILIENT IN NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, AND BEYOND: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that 40 projects have been competitively selected to receive a share of $3.59 billion in federal disaster relief funds to help public transportation systems in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to become more resilient, in order to withstand the impact of future natural disasters. Approximately 90 percent of the funds will be invested in resilience projects primarily in New York and New Jersey, where transit systems sustained the worst of the storm damage, with the remainder going towards projects in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. A list of all funded resilience projects is available at http://www.fta.dot.gov/15138_16147.html . “We've made great progress rebuilding critical transit connections since Hurricane Sandy, and we want to make sure no one pays for these repairs twice,” said Secretary Foxx. “While no one can predict the future with certainty, we believe these investments will help to harden transit facilities against future storms that Mother Nature dishes out, supporting President Obama’s call to address climate change now and reducing the risk of service disruptions and future damage to some of the nation’s busiest rail and bus services.” Secretary Foxx made today’s announcement at Peter Minuit Plaza, between the South Ferry transit station and the Staten Island Ferry landing. He was joined by White House Counselor John Podesta, U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley, U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks, U.S. Congressman Grace Meng, U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. System-wide resilience projects that will benefit future South Ferry subway riders include sealing street-level vents and manholes and protecting underground pump rooms, circuit breaker houses and other underground facilities that deliver power to the South Ferry subway station and other facilities. Grant funds also will enable the purchase of two new Staten Island ferries capable of withstanding adverse storm and climate change conditions. “Over the last two years, the Federal Transit Administration has delivered on its promises to provide emergency relief funds as quickly and responsibly as possible, to help transit agencies in the Northeast recover from the worst transit-related disaster in U.S. history,” said Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “As we have said since the day Hurricane Sandy made landfall nearly two years ago, we share an obligation not only to fully restore transportation systems that millions of riders depend on from New England to New York to D.C., but also to ensure that we can do an even better job of protecting these vulnerable assets in the face of future natural disasters.” In general, the projects selected for resilience funding were required to demonstrate that they would reduce the risk of damage to public transportation assets inflicted by future natural disasters. Emphasis was placed on a project’s ability to protect the most essential and vulnerable infrastructure, as well as effective collaboration and coordination among local and regional governments. The project evaluation process was rigorous, involving specialists from the FTA, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FTA received 61 proposals seeking a total of $6.6 billion. Examples of resilience projects receiving funds include:
  • The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will receive approximately $1.6 billion to make flood protections at multiple street-level openings throughout the subway system, rail yards, substations, critical support facilities and underground equipment; tunnel portals used by the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak; and Rockaway Line stations; upgrade an emergency management communication system; flood proof communications and signal rooms at key subway stations; upgrade water pumping capacity; and flood proof four bus depots.
  • New Jersey Transit will receive approximately $1.3 billion to reduce the risk of flooding to Hoboken rail yard and the city by filling a deteriorated inlet inside the rail yard; construct a rail storage and re-inspection facility located outside the floodplain that could be used to safely store vehicles in an emergency; and replace the aged and deteriorated Raritan River Drawbridge damaged by Hurricane Sandy with a new bridge that is less vulnerable to storm surge and flooding.
  • The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will receive approximately $86.7 million to build an alternate system control center to ensure continuity of operations in case a major storm knocks out the system’s central control facility; stabilize the slopes of several commuter railroad embankments to reduce the risk of rockfall or landslides after severe rainfall; and improve flood protection to protect commuter rail lines.
  • The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will receive approximately $35 million to raise a retaining wall and install watertight barriers at MBTA’s Green Line Fenway Portal to reduce flooding; and repair and improve a deteriorated seawall.
The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 provided $10.9 billion for FTA’s Emergency Relief Program for recovery, relief, and resiliency efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. That total was subsequently cut by almost $545 million due to sequestration. FTA is allocating the remaining $10.4 billion in multiple tiers for response, recovery, and rebuilding; for locally prioritized resiliency projects; and for competitively selected resiliency work. To date, FTA has allocated nearly $9.3 billion of the total funds appropriated—roughly $5.7 billion for initial and ongoing recovery work and $3.6 billion for the larger resilience projects announced today. (FTA - posted 9/22)

$68 MILLION IN DISASTER RELIEF AND RESILIENCY GRANTS FOR SEPTA: Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02), a Senior Member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced today that SEPTA projects in the Philadelphia area have been awarded $68,019,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA). "These projects will enhance SEPTA's service and infrastructure in Philadelphia and throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, marking improved service and safety for the millions of riders who utilize SEPTA rails each week," Congressman Fattah said. "SEPTA's transit arteries allow our community to travel to and from work, home, and school, and it is integral that we maintain and continue to upgrade our rail infrastructure, especially as we respond to increased severe weather. I actively supported their grant application and am pleased the FTA has again recognized SEPTA with these competitive funding awards." SEPTA will receive $32,026,000 for the Railroad Signal Power Reinforcement Project that will replace non-insulated power cables along its railways. They will receive an additional $18,739,000 for the Railroad Embankment and Slope Stabilization Project; the funding will go to stabilize several commuter railroad embankments in the region. All of the grants are part of the Federal Transit Administration Emergency Relief Program & Disaster Relief Appropriations. The federal program helps public transportation system pay for protecting, repairing, or replacing equipment or facilities that may have suffered from damage as a result of emergency or natural disasters. Additional grant projects that will impact the Second Congressional District include:
  • SEPTA Ancillary Control Center Project - $9,003,000
  • SEPTA Manayunk/Norristown Line Shoreline Stabilization Project - $4,502,000
  • SEPTA Subway Pump Room Emergency Power Project - $3,749,000
"SEPTA would like to thank the Southeastern Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation for their work to highlight the critical needs that will be addressed with this funding," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "This advocacy from our local elected officials was key in gaining the FTA's support." (SEPTA, Randy Kotuby - posted 9/22)

ALL WEEKEND MEDIA/ELWYN LINE TRAINS TO BE REPLACED BY SHUTTLE BUS SERVICE FOR NEXT TEN WEEKS: Beginning Saturday, September 20, 2014 and continuing each weekend through Sunday, November 23, 2014, shuttle buses will replace train service between the University City and Elwyn Stations on SEPTA's Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line as work begins to replace bridge timbers and make structural improvements to the Cobbs Creek and Darby Creek Viaducts. Shuttle bus operators will accept tokens, cash ($2.25, exact fare required), passes and rail tickets. Buses will be clearly identified with "Rail Shuttle" signage and will not stop for passengers at any location other than the Regional Rail Station or the designated Rail Shuttle boarding location. Express and local shuttle bus service will be available. For intermediate travel, customers should transfer to an express or local shuttle bus at Swarthmore Station. Customers should expect up to 42 minutes of additional travel time added onto their trips and are advised to look for shuttle bus boarding location and alternate travel option signage at stations. Beginning this fall, SEPTA will be making major capital improvements along the Media/Elwyn Line. During the first phase of work, SEPTA in-house forces and third-party contractors will be replacing bridge timbers and making structural improvements to the Cobbs Creek and Darby Creek Viaducts in addition to track and power improvements. While most work will be performed during weekend outages between September 20, 2014 and November 23, 2014, passengers may see crews working during the week. Nearly 11,000 riders use the Media/Elwyn Line each weekday and on an average weekend, approximately 5,000 trips begin or end along the line. The fall work is one of the first phases of SEPTA's "Rebuilding for the Future" infrastructure, investment, and revitalization program that tackles a $5 billion backlog of projects including bridge replacements, substation overhauls and station improvements. This project is one of the first construction projects utilizing funding from ACT 89. SEPTA and third-party contractor forces will also work on various track and power improvement projects across the entire line as part of the Rebuilding for the Future Program. Over the course of the next ten weekends, staff will be on hand to answer questions and direct riders. (SEPTA - posted 9/19)

NJ TRANSIT TO RECEIVE $1.276 BILLION IN RESILIENCY FUNDING: Continuing the Administration’s focus on rebuilding Sandy-impacted critical infrastructure in a stronger, more resilient manner, Governor Christie today announced NJ TRANSIT will receive $1.276 billion in federal monies to fund five projects designed to harden NJ TRANSIT’s infrastructure. The federal funding was awarded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of a highly competitive regional competition that included 13 states vying for $3 billion in total available funding. The five projects, described below, enhance energy resilience and harden key NJ TRANSIT assets. “I am pleased that New Jersey was so successful in securing these funds through the competitive grant process,” said Governor Christie. “These projects will meaningfully contribute to the resiliency and preparedness of our transportation system and create a significant number of jobs in our region.” “These projects are absolutely critical to hardening our region’s transportation infrastructure against future extreme weather events while keeping our customers and economy on the move for decades to come,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “Receiving this money confirms that we are on the right track by placing an emphasis on resiliency and preparedness. This funding will build a strong foundation in strengthening our transit system.”
  • NJ TRANSITGRID: Originally announced by Governor Christie and United States Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in August 2013, NJ TRANSITGRID will serve as a first-of-its-kind electrical microgrid capable of supplying highly-reliable power during storms or other times when the centralized power grid is compromised. NJ TRANSITGRID will incorporate renewable energy, distributed generation, and other technologies to provide resilient power to key NJ TRANSIT stations, maintenance facilities, bus garages, and other buildings. Through a microgrid design, NJ TRANSITGRID will also provide resilient electric traction power to allow NJ TRANSIT trains on critical corridors, including portions of the Northeast Corridor, to continue to operate even when the traditional grid fails. The award also includes the resilient hardening and raising of key substations, including AMTRAK’s Substations 41 and 42, which serve critical functions and will better allow the region’s transit network to withstand, and recover from, extreme weather events. As part of the grant, NJ TRANSIT will purchase electric, non-revenue vehicles to maximize energy storage. The design of NJ TRANSITGRID resulted through a unique “technology transfer” partnership led by the New Jersey Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, NJ TRANSIT, and the U.S. Department of Energy. USDOE’s Sandia National Laboratories was charged with the conceptual design of the microgrid and that effort was also supported by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and other public and private stakeholders, including the Environmental Defense Fund. NJ TRANSITGRID represents an important cornerstone of Governor Christie’s continuing commitment to ensure that energy resilience is addressed statewide and that critical public assets have access to resilient energy technologies. In February 2014, Governor Christie announced the creation of a $200 million New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank to fund projects that would ensure a highly reliable power supply to critical public facilities such as water and wastewater treatment plants, hospitals, shelters, emergency response networks in the event the larger electrical grid fails.
  • RARITAN RIVER DRAWBRIDGE REPLACEMENT: The North Jersey Coast Line’s Raritan River Drawbridge sustained structural damage during Superstorm Sandy and service was suspended for three weeks while the structure was repositioned and the tracks reset to support train operations. The grant will allow NJ TRANSIT to replace this one-hundred-year-old drawbridge with a far more resilient structure, thus enhancing the reliability of the North Jersey Coast Line.
  • HOBOKEN LONG SLIP FLOOD PROJECTION: During Sandy, Long Slip — a 2,000- ft. east-west penetration of the Hudson River into Hoboken Rail Yard— acted as a conduit for surge waters and contributed to the inundation of both Hoboken Terminal and its adjacent rail yard. The subsequent damage caused a suspension of commuter rail, bus and light rail service as well as incapacitating the historic Terminal. The project will fill the Long Slip to an elevation above the Federal Emergency Management Agency base flood elevation. The project also includes construction on the filled area of six new tracks serving three high-level, ADA-accessible boarding platforms. The elevated position of these tracks and platforms will permit the rapid recovery of commuter rail services to and from Hoboken Yard—and its associated Hudson Bergen Light Rail (HBLR), Port Authority Trans- Hudson (PATH), and ferry services—even while the main Yard infrastructure and equipment is taken out of service for an impending storm, or being restored following a storm event, allowing NJ TRANSIT to operate longer and recover more quickly from storm events. NJ TRANSIT coordinated with the design team responsible for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s winning Rebuild by Design proposal to support flood mitigation opportunities in Jersey City, Hoboken, and Weehawken. The filling of Long Slip Canal contributes to the continuity of the Rebuild by Design team’s strategy of coastal defense (“resist”) along the waterfront to maximize the benefit of both flood protection efforts.
  • DELCO LEAD TRAIN SAFE HAVEN STORAGE AND SERVICE RESTORATION PROJECT: NJ TRANSIT will build a new Delco Lead and Service and Inspection Facility. This project is focused on protecting equipment against functional damage resulting from wind or flooding, and facilitating the rapid resumption of service after storms have passed. A key objective in this effort is the development of permanent safe haven storage for rail rolling stock. The Delco Lead Train Safe Haven Storage Service Restoration project (“Delco Lead”) accomplishes this objective. The Delco Lead, which is strategically located along the Northeast Corridor (NEC), will provide resilient storage for 312 rail cars. The Service and Inspection Facility (S&I), which is included as part of the project, will facilitate the rapid return to service following a storm event. NJ TRANSIT is also, expanding County Yard, which is adjacent to the Delco Lead, to provide additional resilient storage for 132 rail cars. The two projects combined will have a resilient storage capacity of 444 rail cars in New Brunswick and North Brunswick.
  • TRAIN CONTROLS – WAYSIDE SIGNALS, POWER, & COMMUNICATION RESILIENCY PROJECT: The Train Controls infrastructure resiliency project aims to continue commuter and light rail line resiliency efforts for certain assets that while not damaged by Superstorm Sandy, remain vulnerable to storm events, including critical life-safety signal and communications systems. Four of NJ TRANSIT’s ten commuter rail lines and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line have been identified as having vulnerability to future storms; they lie in coastal and inland floodplains where storms would overtop the trackbed and potentially flood and damage critical signal, power and communications systems used to control train speed, switches and track choice, and following distances for safe operations. The four rail lines targeted for hardening of these assets are the Main Line, the Bergen/Pascack lines and the Morris and Essex Lines in Kearny near its connection with the Northeast Corridor and the Meadows Maintenance Complex maintenance facility.
(NJ Transit - 9/18)

FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY ADDS SEVICE IN CAROLINAS: Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) is expanding its services to include intermodal rail transportation between Charlotte, North Carolina and a number of locations in South Florida. The company's Piedmont Express service is available five days a week, utilizing FECR's assets. This seamless two-day service allows customers to select from a variety of pickup and delivery options, including door-to-door, ramp-to-door, and ramp-to-ramp. This service provides FECR customers with another option to get their freight to the growing South Florida market, efficiently and effectively. With the addition of the Piedmont Express routes, customers can now grow their business to South Florida in a cost effective manner. "We are pleased to offer our reliable intermodal service to customers moving freight between the Carolinas and South Florida," said James R. Hertwig, President and CEO. "On average, for every four southbound shipments arriving in South Florida, there is only one northbound shipment. This imbalance can be challenging; however, FECR's Piedmont Express in FECR's containers provides a cost-effective option for customers in the Carolinas." (FEC - 9/18)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 13, 2014 with 300,388 total carloads, up 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,052 units, up 5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 579,440 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Six of 10 of the carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,902 carloads, up 29.9 percent; nonmetallic minerals with 40,935 carloads, up 9.7 percent; and metallic ores and metals with 28,394 carloads, up 6.3 percent. The week’s intermodal volume, with 279,052 units, was a record high for the railroad industry. For the first 37 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,718,782 carloads, up 3.5 percent compared with the same point last year, and 9,522,482 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 37 weeks of 2014 was 20,241,264 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 81,934 carloads for the week, down 4.7 percent, and 62,278 intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 37 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,929,918 carloads, up 1.4 percent from the same point last year, and 2,108,966 intermodal units, up 7.1 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 16,654 carloads for the week, up 10.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,289 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 37 weeks of 2014 was 579,982 carloads, up 1.7 percent from the same point last year, and 385,629 intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 37 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 14,228,682 carloads, up 3 percent compared with the same point last year, and 12,017,077 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.8 percent compared with last year. (AAR - 9/18)

NRHS REVEALS DETAILS OF PROPOSED NEW BUSINESS MODEL: In June, a special committee was charged by the NRHS Board of Directors to create a new business model that would a) stabilize the society’s financial situation and b) transform NRHS into a modern society with a vital purpose. After working through the summer, the final results of the New Business Model Committee can now be publicly viewed and downloaded by visiting https://admin.nrhs.com/public
  • - New Business Model Proposal
  • - Mission/Vision Statement
  • - Proposed Bylaws
  • - Draft Budget
  • - Operations Manager Job Description.
“Our proposed new business model addresses the issues that threaten NRHS: the need to replace an outdated membership model, the lack of a shared purpose among our members, and poor communications between the national organization and its chapters,” explains Steve Barry, global NRHS director and a member of the new business model committee. “As editor of Railfan & Railroad magazine since 1997, I’ve seen how technology has completely changed the way rail enthusiasts socialize and share interests. This new model is long overdue and will give NRHS a clear purpose and a focus that looks ahead for the first time in decades.” The new model is subject to the National NRHS Board of Directors’ approval at its September 20 meeting. If approved, a transition plan would immediately be used and members will be notified of the next steps; for example, the new bylaws would need to be approved by the membership. If rejected, the society will continue through the current financial crisis. Below are highlights of the proposed changes:
  • Clear focus: For the first time in 80 years, NRHS would become a donor-based organization that takes the lead on educating and raising public awareness of rail preservation, as well as create funding sources and be a resource for historical societies, museums and tourist railroads. NRHS will focus entirely on connecting people who love railroad history with organizations that need funding for preservation-related projects and educational programs.
  • Chapter model retired: Chapters are invited to become affiliate groups that partner with NRHS and receive benefits and greater visibility. Affiliation costs will be a flat rate, not based on the number of members. Affiliates will operate independently and partnerships will be renewed periodically. Individuals can join the national NRHS or an affiliate group – they would no longer need to choose both.
  • Successful programs will continue: The society’s annual Railway Heritage Grant program would continue giving to preservation projects. Since 1991 the program has awarded $650,000 to organizations across the U.S. The equally successful RailCamp program will continue to host high school students on the west and east coasts. Finally, the Most At-Risk list will continue to spotlight rail landmarks before they’re lost forever.
  • Conventions: The 2015 Convention program will continue as planned with no alterations. Conventions are designed for members to gather and experience a unique railroad operation, learn about rail operations and history, and share rail heritage with the public.
  • Publications: The NRHS News will continue in a digital format, while the quarterly NRHS Bulletin will be available to supporters who make annual donations or by separate subscription (to members and non-members) at $29 per year.
  • Who needs this: Current NRHS members and donors, active and armchair preservationists, younger railfans, rail organizations, educational institutions, historians of all ages, and anyone with a dream to see their favorite railroad landmark saved.
  • Who developed it: The new business model committee includes experts in business management, railroading, marketing and finance:.
  • - Steve Barry, editor of Railfan & Railroad magazine, who’s been active in NRHS for over 30 years and has extensive experience in publishing, the rail industry and accounting.
  • - Bob Ernst, global director, Telegraph editor, and national secretary of NRHS, with over 30 years of expertise in business management and operations.
  • - Gary Reinbolt, a not-for-profit management and fundraising consultant with 20 years of experience in revenue generation and nonprofit restructuring.
  • - Jeff Smith, an information technology and marketing consultant who also serves as editor of the NRHS Bulletin and has been active in helping NRHS fit into the national preservation landscape.
  • - Wesley Weis, president and CEO of the Morristown & Erie Railway, one of four investors who purchased the bankrupt M&E in 1981 and revitalized the company. .
“The argument has been made from two different railroad CEOs at recent NRHS convention banquets that there’s a real need for more cooperation and cohesion in the rail preservation community,” said Barry. “NRHS could be the organization that serves as the unifying group – if it can get its act together. Getting its act together does not mean maintaining the status quo. This new model is something that not only rail preservation can get behind, but moves toward a plan that the professional railroad world can also endorse.” (NRHS - 9/17)

GREENBRIER ANNOUNCES ORDERS FOR 15,000 RAILCARS: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. announced today that it received new orders in its fourth quarter ended August 31, 2014 and through the date of this release for 15,000 railcar units valued at $1.37 billion. Orders announced today comprise a broad range of railcar types including tank cars, small cube covered hopper cars for sand and cement service, medium cube covered hopper cars for grain service, automotive carrying cars, and a recent award for 3,100 double-stack intermodal units.  In addition, Greenbrier received a recent deck cargo barge order which brings total marine backlog to $112 million and extends Greenbrier's marine backlog to 2016. (The orders announced today include orders received in June 2014 for 2,700 railcar units valued at approximately $320 million, which Greenbrier previously disclosed on July 2, 2014.) Since September 1, 2013 through the date of this release, Greenbrier has received orders for almost 39,000 railcars in North America and Europe valued at $3.72 billion.  The average sales price of $95,000 reflects the diversity of railcar types ordered.  (Greenbrier, Randy Kotuby - 9/17)

CSX LAUNCHES INDUSTRY'S FIRST ON-DEMAND MOBILE APPLICATION TO ENHANCE RAILROAD INCIDENT RESPONSE: As part of its ongoing focus on community emergency preparedness and training, CSX is introducing a new mobile information system which will enhance first responders' ability to access train and cargo information in real time via their mobile devices. The new program, CSX Operation Respond, will provide firefighters, police officers and other emergency responders with easy mobile access to critical information that supports safe and accurate response to emergencies, helping to protect both communities and responders themselves. The new program is a collaborative product of the Operation Respond Institute, an industry leader in providing real-time rail information, and CSX's public safety and technology teams. "CSX Operation Respond, the first program of its kind among Class I railroads, is an important new component of our continuing efforts to advance the company's first priority: the safety of communities, employees and customers' freight," said Skip Elliott, vice president, public safety, health and environment. "The CSX team is consistently focused on working with partners like the Operation Respond Institute to provide timely access to critical information, and this tool was developed in response to feedback from our partners across our network." CSX Operation Respond allows first responders to securely access information about hazardous materials being transported by any individual CSX train using their wireless devices, laptops or desktop computers. In addition to a graphically displayed train list that allows emergency responders to quickly locate and identify the contents of rail cars carrying hazardous materials, CSX Operation Respond provides emergency responders with a portfolio of other useful information designed to assist when responding to a rail-related transportation emergency. The availability of CSX Operation Respond builds on CSX's longstanding commitment to communicate with, collaborate with and train first responder organizations, including local fire, police and emergency services units. The company also leverages the power of technology for timely information-sharing through its SecureNOW program, which gives key federal, state and local security partner agencies access to near real-time information about CSX trains. In addition, in 2014 CSX has already trained more than 1,300 first responders from more than 250 agencies through its Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Program , which focuses on providing specialized hands-on training for rail-related hazardous materials incidents. The Safety Train builds on a comprehensive CSX first responder training program that includes hands-on sessions at the company's hazmat training center in Atlanta, Ga. and the Association of American Railroads emergency response training center in Pueblo, Colo. CSX also provides classroom training at local fire stations, conducts exercises and table-top drills, and offers web-based and self-study courses. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - 9/16)

METRO-NORTH WINS AWARD FOR ENERGY CONSERVATION AT GRAND CENTRAL: MTA Metro-North Railroad is being recognized today for its comprehensive upgrade and replacement of utility systems with energy-saving components throughout Grand Central Terminal, a century-old national landmark building. Metro-North, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has replaced or upgraded chillers, cooling towers, fans, compressors, air handlers, and an extensive steam distribution system. The most complex component entailed the cooling system replacement. This required transporting equipment by rail out of and into, the underbelly of GCT, and placement of four cooling towers on the roof. The towers were swung by crane from 42nd street over the iconic statue of Mercury and a priceless Tiffany clock. The $23.4 million Grand Central Terminal energy project was selected as an award winner for the 2014 BuildSmart NY Awards, which were created by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to recognize a commitment to investment and innovation in technology that New York State needs. The energy cost saving of the project, estimated at $3.3 million and5.5 million kilowatts of electricity annually, will be used to repay Metro-North’s partner, the New York State Power Authority over 11 years. “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s four-year energy efficiency project is going to reap benefits for Grand Central for decades to come,” said MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast. “We are saving energy and reducing carbon emissions on both electric and steam usage with new, efficient, low-maintenance equipment throughout the Terminal. All this utility infrastructure - light fixtures, pumps, chillers, cooling towers, compressors, air handlers, smart meters, thousands of feet of high-pressure steam pipes, and the like - was installed at no upfront cost to Metro-North.” The award was presented Tuesday at a ceremony during the 1st annual “BuildSmart NY Innovators Summit” in Albany (MTA- 9/16)

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