December 9, 2016:
FTA RELEASES WMATA TRACTION POWER ELECTRIFICATION SYSTEM REPORT
AND ISSUES SPECIAL DIRECTIVE TO CORRECT
SYSTEMATIC SAFETY PROBLEMS:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today issued Special Directive 17-1 to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) requiring the transit agency to complete 47 actions to correct deficiencies in its traction power electrification (TPE) system, which is used to electrify Metrorail trains. The special directive is based on 22 findings from an FTA investigation report into the condition and safety performance of the Metrorail TPE system, also released today.
“The safe operation of Metrorail service is directly dependent on WMATA implementing corrective actions to reduce and eliminate electrical arcing events that have too often resulted in smoke and fire, which can endanger passenger safety,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “WMATA has already started to address these issues, and the FTA report and special directive will help WMATA prioritize what it must do to improve its traction power system to keep the trains running safely.”
The investigation report finds that while the traction power system continues to be a concern, FTA safety oversight leadership has driven WMATA to create a safer environment for both workers and passengers. In May 2016, FTA directed WMATA to complete repairs to its TPE system on segments of the Red Line where a large number of electrical arcing events resulted in smoke and fire. As a result of WMATA’s subsequent maintenance activity, the number and severity of these events has been reduced. WMATA experienced 18 electrical arcing events in these areas from March 1 to June 14 of this year, including four major events at the end of April and early May. Since June 15, there have been only eight relatively minor events.
“WMATA, like many legacy systems, is struggling to manage the safety consequences of aging traction power systems that have suffered from deferred maintenance,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “Under FTA oversight, WMATA is addressing the issue, and must provide sufficient staffing and resources to ensure lasting safety improvements are made.”
Since the FTA assumed temporary safety oversight of the Metrorail system in October 2015, WMATA has reported more than 70 safety events resulting from electrical arcing in its traction power system. Each of these events required an emergency response, and many resulted in the partial or full shutdown of a station or off-loading of a passenger train.
Given the sharp increase in the number of TPE system-related failures and events over the last year, this FTA investigation focused on four categories of safety critical concerns: (1) TPE System Roles, Responsibilities, and Resources; (2) TPE Infrastructure, (3) Testing and Inspection Programs; and (4) Capital Projects.
The FTA investigation confirmed that the safety performance of WMATA’s traction power system has deteriorated with age, deferred maintenance, and increased exposure to water and other contaminating materials. The FTA report also finds that key components of the TPE system have been compromised and are no longer performing as originally specified, and that programs to replace and upgrade critical TPE-related infrastructure have not been sufficient for the age of the system or the demand placed on it.
In addition, the FTA report finds that in response to changing budgetary and staffing conditions, WMATA eliminated preventive maintenance programs to test key traction power components to predict failures, eliminated or cut back cleaning programs in tunnels, and limited its corrosion control testing program.
Over the last year, WMATA has already taken a number of critical steps to address deficiencies within its traction power system. For example, WMATA has nearly completed a program to ensure that its power cable connector assemblies are properly constructed and installed, enhanced its visual and thermal cable inspection program, eliminated third rail expansion joints in tunnels, and reinstated its tunnel and insulator cleaning programs. WMATA is also reviewing roles and responsibilities for inspecting, testing, and maintaining system elements, and created a new department with exclusive responsibility for high voltage TPE system maintenance.
Building on this progress, and as directed by Special Directive 17-1, WMATA must develop corrective action plans to address the findings of the report and related required actions. WMATA’s proposed corrective action plans are subject to FTA approval, and the FTA will monitor the agency’s progress to implement the safety improvements.
The traction power report, along with other FTA-issued investigation reports, demonstrates how the FTA is exercising the authority and enforcement tools provided by Congress to aid WMATA in addressing systemic safety deficiencies and building a strong safety culture. It is important to note that the FTA’s reports do not amount to a finding that the Metrorail system is “unsafe.” In each investigation and report, and with each step taken, the FTA assessed the risk associated with the flaws found in the Metrorail system and determined that those risks are not so great that they place passengers and workers at substantial risk of death or injury.
(USDOT - posted 12/09)
PORT AUTHORITY BOARD ADOPTS 2017 BUDGET:
Following a month-long public comment period, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved the agency’s 2017 Budget consisting of $3.1 billion for operating expenses and $2.9 billion for capital projects including state-of-good repair work and new construction at its bridges, tunnels, terminals, airports, seaport and PATH system.
The $3.1 billion Operating Budget approved by the Board represents an increase of 1.3 percent in expenses over the prior year budget before consideration of the costs of operating and maintaining new facilities at the World Trade Center and the contractual five-year step increases in rents for certain Port Authority facilities. After consideration of these costs, the budget represents an increase of 3.1 percent.
The Capital Budget funds major ongoing investments in key transportation facilities, including the Bayonne Bridge project, the replacement of the Goethals Bridge, redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport, continued installation of Positive Train Control on the PATH system and the redevelopment of Greenville Yard to support a new ship-to-rail facility. Funds also are included to begin formal planning work for a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, the ongoing planning for a new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport, and to continue planning projects designed to upgrade the George Washington Bridge.
“This fiscally responsible budget followed a painstaking review of the agency’s resources to make sure every dollar was wisely invested in projects that will benefit the traveling public,” said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. “The budget continues our trend to return to the Port Authorities core mission of rebuilding critical aging infrastructure while keeping all of our transportation facilities in a state of good repair.”
“As stewards of the region’s major transportation facilities, this budget strikes the appropriate balance between being fiscally responsible while continuing our ongoing investment of billions of dollars in the region’s bridges, tunnels, airports, seaport and PATH,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.
Highlights of the 2017 Operating Budget:
Highlights of the 2017 Capital Budget:
- $1.549 billion to operate and maintain our facilities in an efficient and effective manner, facilitating the movement of people and goods in the region.
- $706 million to ensure safe and secure facilities for our customers through police and security resources , investing in new technology and infrastructure and employing best practices for security.
- $385 million in rents and payments in lieu of taxes for Port Authority facilities.
(Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- $887 million for investment in tunnel, bridge and terminal facilities, including the ongoing Bayonne Bridge project, the new Goethals Bridge, planning funds to begin the process of building a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, and major state-of-good repair projects at the George Washington Bridge.
- $989 million for Aviation projects, including the ongoing redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport and ongoing planning for a new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport.
- $532 million to continue the WTC rebuilding effort with the completion of the Vehicular Safety Center and Bus Parking Facility.
- $217 million for PATH projects, including the continued installation of a new signal system including Positive Train Control on the rail system.
- $153 million for Port Department projects, including the construction of a new ship-to-rail facility at Greenville Yard to enhance the movement of cargo on and off the port.
GE ACQUIRES IDERS INCORPORATED TO ACCELERATE VISION OF SELF-AWARE TRAINS:
GE) GE Transportation, the world’s leading producer of rail and transportation-related products and offerings, announced today its acquisition of Iders Incorporated, an electronic product design and manufacturing company for the rail industry.
Iders Inc., the manufacturer of GoLINC – the onboard processing, storage, networking, and communications platform that essentially turns a locomotive into a mobile data center - has been a valued partner for more than five years. GoLINC boasts an install base of over 8,500 locomotives globally, and is the platform on which GE – and others – can write applications to help a train, and the entire system, perform more effectively.
“This strategic acquisition marks another milestone for GE Transportation in creating an efficient, self-aware rail ecosystem that helps customers achieve smarter outcomes made possible by sensor data and analytics,” said Jamie Miller, GE Transportation President and CEO. “This acquisition puts GE in the driver’s seat, allowing for faster innovation and scale, digital breakthroughs and future enhancements by in-house talent.”
As part of the acquisition, customers will now have access to a more extensive portfolio of cost-competitive digital solutions. GE will also inherit ongoing product development projects that aim to improve productivity and other customer outcomes.
“We’re proud to bring Iders’ history of innovation and advanced technical expertise to GE Transportation and look forward to the next chapter. GE and Iders have developed a successful relationship over the years built on complementary strengths, and we are excited to deepen this alignment,” said Brad Brown, President of Iders Incorporated.
STEAMTOWN NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE TO OFFER ENTRANCE FREE ADMISSION FOR 10 DAYS IN 2017:
There are 10 more reasons to enjoy Steamtown National Historic Site in 2017! The park will offer free entrance admission to all on 10 days in 2017.
The 10 entrance fee-free days for 2017 will be:
“Fee-free days are a great way for folks to explore Steamtown NHS whether for first-time or repeat visitors. We hope many area residents will take advantage of these free entrance dates and explore all that Steamtown has to offer.” said Superintendent Debbie Conway.
Usually, Steamtown NHS has an entrance fee of $7 per person; children 16 and under, with adults, are admitted free. The entrance fee waiver does not cover train rides or excursions, but includes the park visitor center and museum complex, which features History, Roundhouse and Technology museums, plus our state-of-the-art digital Theater, which presents the park’s 18-minute movie, “Steel and Steam.” The entrance fee-free days also include all staff and/or volunteer led walking tours.
Last year, Steamtown National Historic Site had more than 89,592 visitors. Those visitors spent $4,754,800 in our local communities which helped to support 77 jobs.
Located in downtown Scranton, Pa., Steamtown NHS is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; our winter hours, from January 8 through April 1, are 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. From I-81 follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). General park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5204 during regular business hours, or by visiting the Park website anytime at www.nps.gov/stea.
(Steamtown National Historic Site- posted 12/07)
- January 16 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- February 20 – Presidents Day
- April 15-16 and 22-23 – National Park Week
- August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
- September 30 – National Public Lands Day
- November 11-12 – Veterans Day Weekend
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR NOVEMBER AND WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 3, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for November 2016.
Carload traffic in November totaled 1,319,008 carloads, up 0.4 percent or 5,406 carloads from November 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,319,189 containers and trailers in November 2016, up 1.9 percent or 24,329 units from the same month last year. For November 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,638,197, up 1.1 percent or 29,735 carloads and intermodal units from November 2015.
In November 2016, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with November 2015. These included: grain, up 18.6 percent or 20,209 carloads; chemicals, up 1.9 percent or 2,829 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 2.5 percent or 2,714 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in November 2016 from November 2015 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.4 percent or 9,813 carloads; coal, down 2 percent or 9,282 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 3.5 percent or 3,134 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were up 1.7 percent or 14,688 carloads in November 2016 from November 2015.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 48 weeks of 2016 was 12,123,218 carloads, down 9 percent or 1,195,299 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 12,478,621 units, down 2.5 percent or 322,386 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2015. For the first eleven months of 2016, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 24,601,839 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.8 percent or 1,517,685 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.
"There are glimmers of hope in rail traffic data in November, with carloads and intermodal totals both up over last year — something that hasn't happened for carloads in 22 months and for intermodal in nine months," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Hopefully, these results are indicators of continuing future growth for the manufacturing economy, for trade, and for rail traffic. It appears that economic fundamentals are trending toward more positive results than have been seen in the recent past."
(AAR- posted 12/07)
- Week Ending December 3, 2016:
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending December 3, 2016 53,130 carloads and intermodal units, up 2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending December 3 were 274,329 carloads, up 0.9 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,801 containers and trailers, up 3.2 percent compared to 2015.
North American rail volume for the week ending December 3, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 370,061 carloads, up 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 351,814 intermodal units, up 3.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 721,875 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 48 weeks of 2016 was 32,227,999 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.3 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 79,650 carloads for the week, up 4.9 percent, and 61,743 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 48 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,333,268 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,082 carloads for the week, down 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,270 intermodal units, up 2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 48 weeks of 2016 was 1,292,892 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.2 percent from the same point last year.
- Crude Oil Carload Update:
The AAR also reported U.S. Class I railroads originated 48,978 carloads of crude oil in the third quarter of 2016, down 7,476 carloads or 13.2 percent from the second quarter of 2016 and down 52,189 carloads or 51.6 percent from the third quarter of 2015.
FREIGHT RAIL INDUSTRY JOINS IN PUSH FOR SWIFT CONSIDERATION OF REGULATORY REFORM LEGISLATION:
The Association of American Railroads this week joined associations and chambers of commerce from across the country in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to make consideration of the "Regulatory Accountability Act" an early priority for the 115th Congress.
The letter secured 380 association signatories from 47 states and the District of Columbia, representing various sectors including agriculture, energy, manufacturing and transportation.
The letter says to Speaker Ryan, "We believe that federal regulations should be narrowly tailored, supported by strong and credible data and evidence, and impose the least burden possible, while still implementing Congressional intent." It goes on to explain, "The Regulatory Accountability Act builds on established principles of fair regulatory process and review that have been embodied in bipartisan executive orders dating to at least the Clinton administration." The full letter is available here.
Participation in the coalition effort follows recent calls from the AAR to fix America's broken regulatory system, including in an open letter to Vice President Elect Mike Pence that outlined the essentials of sound regulation.
"Regulatory improvement should be rooted in common-sense principles," said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, "and the bipartisan efforts of the Regulatory Accountability Act would be a significant first step in reform. In addressing the regulatory system, we believe policymakers should ensure that rules are based on current and complete data and sound science; regulations are enacted only if benefits outweigh costs and agencies analyze the cumulative effects of proposed regulations; and "guidance" and "emergency orders" are limited as regulatory tools."
The "Regulatory Accountability Act" would improve the transparency of regulations by requiring agencies to invest more effort earlier in the rulemaking process to gather data, evaluate alternatives and receive public input about the costs and benefits of its rules.
(AAR- posted 12/07)
MTA ARTS & DESIGN DEBUTS NEW DIGITAL ARTWORK AT FULTON CENTER:
MTA Arts & Design has installed a new digital artwork at Fulton Center by Brooklyn-based digital mixed media artist Anne Spalter as Arts & Design expands its audience by presenting new, innovative digital work to MTA customers.
Titled New York Dreaming, the new digital artwork is a meditation on the city and the constant self-realization of its physical and psychic existence. New York is a city like no other, a combination of man-made and natural formations, perpetually evolving and reinventing itself--turning from one year to the next, unfolding. Its citizens, similarly, are dreamers, driven to bring their visions to life.
Filmed and transformed high-resolution footage of iconic New York skyline imagery into psychedelic, algorithmic kaleidoscopes digitally developed using custom software, New York Dreaming will bring to commuters' daily journeys a sense of meditative wonder deriving from the sky-high perspective of the work's source footage. With a longstanding incorporation of transportation and the Modern Landscape in Spalter’s artistic process, Fulton Center is an apt backdrop for New York Dreaming.
The mesmerizing video loops air simultaneously for two minutes at the top of each hour on a large-scale 52-channel video installation in the Fulton Center (2 Subway,3 Subway, 4 Subway, 5 Subway, A Subway, C Subway, J Subway, Z Subway )station complex and in the Dey Street pedestrian tunnel that connects to the R Subway and W Subway lines, where it will be displayed during the holiday season and into the beginning of 2017.
“Anne’s kaleidoscopic digital work featuring the skyline of New York City shown in the dynamic canvas of Fulton Center complements the geometry and volume of this great public space,” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts & Design. “The juxtaposition of light, color and pattern is mesmerizing.”
The work is presented by MTA Arts & Design with technical support from Westfield Properties and ANC Sports.
(MTA - posted 12/06)
NEW DINER "ANNAPOLIS" MAKES INAUGURAL RUN ON SILVER METEOR:
New Diner “Annapolis” Makes Inaugural Run on Silver Meteor:
Viewliner Diner #68001 Annapolis was cut into the consist of Silver Meteor #98 at Miami on December 5. The new car is staffed and serving meals.
This is the first of 25 Viewliner II diners to make a revenue run. The order for the diners, part of a 130-car order, was placed with CAF USA on July 23, 2010.
(Andy Kirk - posted 12/05)
AMTRAK PETS PROGRAM EXPANDS ON THE VERMONTER:
Amtrak announced today the expansion of its pets program on the Vermonter, allowing more options for customers to travel with their pets just in time for the holidays. Small dogs and cats can now join their owners on the entire Vermonter route from Washington D.C. to St. Albans, VT, as long as the trip duration is no more than seven hours (see requirements). Previously, pets were not able to travel on the Connecticut portions of the route. Pet reservations will be accepted starting Monday, Dec. 5, for travel beginning Monday, Dec. 12.
More than 15,000 pets and their human companions have traveled around the country since the program launched on the Northeast Corridor in October 2015. Record ridership was achieved for the month of July with more than 2,000 pets and owners traveling onboard. The program has also generated more than $1 million in revenue since its inception.
“VTrans is pleased that Amtrak riders will now be allowed to bring carry on pets along the entire Vermonter route,” said VTrans Rail Director, Dan Delabruere. “Our customers were asking for this and VTrans agrees that this will make it a much more enjoyable trip for the entire family.”
Dogs and cats travel requirements include:
Amtrak continues to welcome service animals on board at no charge. For more information about Amtrak’s Pet policy, visit
(Amtrak - posted 12/05)
- Pet reservations are available for Coach Class accommodations for trips up to seven hours.
- The maximum weight of pet including the carrier is 20 pounds.
- Owners can reserve a space for their pet for $25; one pet per passenger.
- Pets must remain in a carrier at all times and carriers should remain under their seat.
- Five pet spots are allotted per train and are booked on a first-come, first-served basis.
Pets are not allowed on trips to/from Canada at this time.
FRA COMPLETES ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FOR THE NEW B&P TUNNEL:
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today finished the environmental review (final environmental impact statement, or FEIS) to replace the Civil War-era Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel. The FEIS includes review of the route (Alternative 3B) for a new tunnel and incorporates changes sought by communities and neighborhoods in Baltimore during more than two dozen meetings held over the last two years.
“Rebuilding the B&P Tunnel is a significant undertaking along the Northeast Corridor,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I am encouraged by the input provided by the communities, and that much of that input led to changes to make this project better for everyone involved. This is a great example of the value that public engagement and community involvement bring to the transportation planning process.”
In response to the input provided by communities and leaders in Baltimore, FRA relocated the ventilation plant location to West North Avenue to preserve a community garden, reduced the number of land parcels and historic properties impacted, decreased proposed relocations, and maintained the proposal to rebuild a larger and ADA-compliant West Baltimore MARC station.
The review includes proposed mitigation measures to address the impacts created by the route. These measures include establishing several grant funds to support community development and recreation facilities, providing project-related job training and hiring preferences for local workers of social and economic disadvantage, implementing construction noise and vibration mitigation plans, and establishing a grant fund for historic preservation.
The new tunnel would be about 100 feet underground, compared to the existing tunnel’s 20-foot depth. The deeper placement would nearly eliminate any noticeable vibrations from passing trains.
“This project is better because communities provided input on how a new tunnel could be built with as little impact as possible, and where there was an impact, how we can reduce it,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “The new tunnel will keep trains moving along the Northeast Corridor and create jobs in Baltimore.”
The federal government has invested $60 million for the preliminary design and environmental review for this project. The state of Maryland estimates the project could create or support 7,000 jobs a year, over seven years, with more than 50 percent of those jobs in construction.
The new route will smooth out existing curves, enabling trains to double their speeds. About 140 Amtrak and MARC passenger trains and several Norfolk Southern freight trains currently travel through the existing tunnel daily, which is part of the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail corridor. The new route will allow 388 trains to use the new tunnel daily.
In December 2015, the FRA presented three proposals for replacing the Civil War-era tunnel in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). This past April, FRA revised those options following further feedback from Baltimore residents during public hearings held in February. While Amtrak owns the B&P Tunnel, FRA leads the environmental review process in cooperation with Maryland’s Department of Transportation.
Compared to Alternative 3A and Alternative 3C, Alternative 3B (the Preferred Alternative/new route) best meets the project’s purpose and need while minimizing environmental impacts. It provides high-level platforms for a newly rebuilt West Baltimore MARC Station, involves only minor impacts to the P. Flanigan & Sons asphalt plant (a major local employer), preserves two historic buildings that would be demolished by Alternative 3C, and improves average train travel time.
To read the FEIS, visit
(FRA - posted 12/02)
FEC RAILWAY CHRISTMAS TRAIN IS COMING TO TOWN:
Santa is coming to a town near you this month. This year marks the seventh annual Christmas Train operated by Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps Toys For Tots Foundation. The train will depart Saturday, December 10 and will run along the railroad's 351-mile mainline on the east coast of Florida, from Jacksonville to Miami.
The 2016 FECR Christmas Train will make eight stops during the journey. Along the way Santa Claus will be spreading holiday cheer to all who come out to see him.
A local Toys For Tots coordinator -- a U.S. Marine Corps service member, will be present at each stop to accept the FECR Christmas Train donations, and distribute throughout the community. The FECR Christmas Train is a 501c3, so anyone who would like to make a donation to the organization can receive a tax deduction. All donations will go toward children and teens in need in the local community.
Since FECR President and CEO Jim Hertwig started the program six years ago, it has continued to see growth, donating close to 270,000 toys. "Last year alone over 1,000 children attended our event, and 16,000 toys were donated," said Jim Hertwig. "This event is, and will continue to be a favored tradition for the FECR family. We are proud to be able to once again work alongside the Toys For Tots Foundation to contribute to those in need during the holiday season," he said.
The FECR Christmas Train will stop at the eight railroad crossings listed below for approximately 30 minutes, during which strict procedures will be in place for the safety and enjoyment of everyone in attendance:
City RR Crossing Location Times (approximate)
(Florida East Coast Railway
- posted 12/01)
- Jacksonville Mussel Acres Road - West 7:10 AM
- St. Augustine San Sebastian View - East 8:10 AM
- New Smyrna Beach Canal Street - East 10:05 AM
- Cocoa Dixon Boulevard - West 11:45 AM
- Fort Pierce Orange Avenue - West 1:30 PM
- West Palm Beach 36th Street - East 3:00 PM
- Fort Lauderdale SW 17th Street - West 4:25 PM
- Miami NE 87th Street - West 5:15 PM
FREIGHT RAIL INDUSTRY IMPROVES TRAIN MANAGEMENT IN CHICAGO REGION:
Freight railroads operating in Chicago are better prepared to manage rail traffic going to, from and through the Chicago region, thanks to the Chicago Integrated Rail Operations Center (CIROC).
Opened in December 2015, the railroads that make up the Chicago Planning Group and the Chicago Transportation Coordination Office established CIROC to monitor and facilitate efficient rail operations within Chicago. CIROC, a facility that operates around-the-clock, includes direct connections to each carrier and track views that assist employees with resolving operational issues and identifying and addressing congestion issues in order to reduce train delays. The operation of the CIROC continues the ongoing railroad efforts to improve freight mobility in the region, including the completion of many railroad capital construction projects designed to reduce chokepoints and increase capacity.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the volume of imported and exported goods transported via rail in Chicago is forecast to increase nearly 150 percent between 2010 and 2040.
"Chicago is the epicenter of the nation's freight and passenger rail system with about 25 percent of all U.S. freight rail traffic going through the region," said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR). "Freight railroads have long taken steps to identify critical factors impacting rail operations in the area. Coordination between Chicago railroads is key to achieving the benefits of the extensive planning, particularly during challenging winter weather."
The establishment of CIROC improves Chicago-specific visibility, metrics and measurements that work as early warnings for potential problems. This equips railroads to better communicate on an ongoing basis, review train schedules and routing protocols and improve the ability to have the necessary equipment, materials and personnel in place to keep trains moving.
"Operational planning and plan execution are extremely important for all railroads across the nation's 140,000-mile rail network," Hamberger said. "Under the new system, rail traffic issues will be better pinpointed through the CIROC's monitoring process."
(AAR - posted 12/01)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 26, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 26, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 452,759 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending November 26 were 229,866 carloads, down 0.4 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 222,893 containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent compared to 2015.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included grain, up 20.2 percent to 22,438 carloads; metallic ores and metals, up 8.5 percent to 18,206 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 7.8 percent to 7,461 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 23.2 percent to 9,150 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 15.3 percent to 12,773 carloads; and forest products, down 8.4 percent to 8,511 carloads.
For the first 47 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,848,889 carloads, down 9.2 percent from the same point last year; and 12,199,820 intermodal units, down 2.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 47 weeks of 2016 was 24,048,709 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 6 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending November 26, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 323,439 carloads, up 1.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 294,263 intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 617,702 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 47 weeks of 2016 was 31,506,124 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.5 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 77,955 carloads for the week, up 7.5 percent, and 60,401 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 47 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,191,875 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4.2 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,618 carloads for the week, down 6.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,969 intermodal units, down 9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 47 weeks of 2016 was 1,265,540 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.2 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 11/30)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN NAMED A MILITARY FRIENDLY® EMPLOYER FOR SUPPORTING VETERANS:
Veterans in search of jobs that pay well and offer career advancement will find Norfolk Southern among 210 companies recently recognized for being military friendly.
Norfolk Southern was named to the list of 2017 Military Friendly® Employers by Victory Media, a veteran-owned publisher of G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse, STEM, and Vetrepreneur magazines. This is the 10th year that Norfolk Southern has appeared on the list, which features companies with a proven record of hiring and supporting veterans in the workplace.
“Military veterans are thriving at our company in all areas of operations and management,” said CEO Jim Squires, an Army veteran. “They are running trains, fixing track, and working in shops and in our headquarters. With their leadership skills and knowledge, veterans bring a strong work ethic and a commitment to safety and service that make us a better railroad, which in turn helps America prosper. We are proud of our veterans and their service.”
Currently, more than 3,800 employees – about 14 percent of Norfolk Southern’s workforce – are veterans, including members of the National Guard and military reserves. To help veterans and military spouses find rail industry jobs, Norfolk Southern supports the federal “Joining Forces” initiative and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program. Veterans can search a Norfolk Southern website for railroad employment using their military job titles.
Norfolk Southern’s VeteraNS employee resource group has chapters in Norfolk and Atlanta, the company’s two corporate office locations. VeteraNS members offer networking and support for veterans and their families and participate in outreach efforts that link the railroad with the military community. Norfolk Southern also operates a custom-painted Veterans Locomotive to honor people who have served in the military and reserves.
Victory Media’s Military Friendly list rates the performance of companies across six categories: recruiting and sourcing; hiring and onboarding; career opportunity and advancement; culture and commitment; military support and retention; and military employee policies and compliance.
To learn more about job opportunities at Norfolk Southern, visit
(NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/30)
MBTAgifts.com OFFERS UNIQUE OPTIONS FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPERS:
As the holidays quickly approach, the MBTA encourages shoppers to check out the unique T-themed products at the MBTA’s online store
Generating over $117,000 in revenue for the MBTA over the last four fiscal years, the online store offers customers authentic MBTA memorabilia and quirky merchandise ranging from MBTA map shower curtains to vintage token cuff links to the popular miniature Green Line trolley toy. For transit fans, the online store also includes decommissioned station and bus signage. With these wares and more, MBTAgifts.com provides something for everyone on your holiday shopping list.
(MBTA - posted 11/30)
FIRST 'PETS RIDE FREE' PROMOTION"
Riding the rails with a beloved four-legged friend will come with an extra special treat during this holiday season, in which "Pets Ride Free." Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) and Amtrak are teaming up for a first of its kind promotion in celebration of the December 6 home entertainment release of Illumination's blockbuster film, The Secret Life of Pets. The "Pets Ride Free" offer, available for trips booked December 6 through December 11, 2016 or while supplies last, allows pets to ride at no additional cost on participating Amtrak routes from December 9 through March 31, 2017.
During the first year of Amtrak's pet program, more than 15, 000 dogs and cats traveled with their owners on select Amtrak trains across the country. Information on the "Pets Ride Free" offer is available at
(Link will be available on December 6. For information on Amtrak's pet policy go to Amtrak.com/pets.) at select ticket counters and stations, and on trains, including AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi portals. In addition, a limited number The Secret Life of Pets prizes will be available to customers at select stations. The program will be supported in 40 Amtrak markets nationwide including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland, Dallas, Baltimore, Cleveland, Portland, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, Charleston and others.
In their fifth fully animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead when we leave for work or school, which has grossed more than $873 million in global ticket sales. Max, voiced by Louis C.K., is a loyal terrier living a perfectly happy existence until his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper) brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet) a big, boisterous mutt she finds at the shelter. When Max and his unruly new "roommate" slip away from their dog-walker, they find themselves lost in the urban jungle of New York City. In an attempt to stay ahead of animal control and a rebel band of abandoned pets led by an unhinged bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart), they put aside their differences to survive the epic journey back home.
The film features an all-star voice cast including Louis C.K. (TV's Louie), Eric Stonestreet (TV's Modern Family), Kevin Hart (Ride Along Series), Jenny Slate (Zootopia), Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Lake Bell (TV's Children's Hospital), Dana Carvey (Wayne's World), Hannibal Buress (Neighbors series), Bobby Moynihan (TV's "Saturday Night Live"), Steve Coogan (Minions) and Albert Brooks (Finding Dory). The film is directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me franchise, Dr. Seuss' the Lorax) and co-directed by Yarrow Cheney (Despicable Me franchise).
To travel with a small dog or cat, tickets must be purchased at least three days prior to travel and are valid for up to March 31, 2017. Only one cat or one small dog are allowed in an enclosed carrier on trips up to seven hours in length. Both pet and carrier must be a combined weight of 20 pounds. To learn more about the Amtrak pet program visit
To make a pet inclusive reservation, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit a staffed station.
(Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/29)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN APPOINTS NEW DIRECTORS;
Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. and Marcela E. Donadio have been elected directors of Norfolk Southern Corporation, effective Nov. 28, 2016, Chairman, President, and CEO James A. Squires said today.
Daniels, 67, of West Lafayette, Ind., has been president of Purdue University since 2013 and served as governor of Indiana from 2005 to 2013. Donadio, 62, of Houston, is a director and retired partner of Ernst & Young, a multinational professional services firm.
"Norfolk Southern's independent directors bring wide-ranging and practical experience to bear in enhancing the corporation's performance and seizing the business opportunities before us," Squires said. "Guidance and insight from Mitch and Marcela will prove invaluable as Norfolk Southern continues to find new operating efficiencies, reduce costs, drive profitability, and reinforce the foundation for long-term growth."
Daniels has been appointed to the Compensation Committee and the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Norfolk Southern board. As university president, he launched initiatives addressing higher education challenges in the areas of affordability and accessibility, world-changing research, transformative education, and STEM leadership. As Indiana's 49th governor, he spearheaded reforms to improve the performance of state government, led the state to its first balanced budget in eight years, and supported a record-breaking 10-year transportation and infrastructure program. Governor Daniels held leadership positions in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations and management positions at the Hudson Institute and Eli Lilly.
He serves on the boards of Cerner Corp., the Urban Institute, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Commission on Postsecondary Education. Governor Daniels served as co-chair of the National Research Council's Committee on Human Spaceflight, and is co-chair of both the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the Aspen Institute's Future of Work Initiative.
Donadio has been appointed to the Finance and Risk Management Committee and the Audit Committee of the Norfolk Southern board. Prior to her retirement, Ms. Donadio served from 2007 as Americas Oil & Gas Sector Leader, with responsibility for one of Ernst & Young's significant industry groups helping set firm strategy for oil and gas industry clients in the U.S. and throughout the Americas. Ms. Donadio joined Ernst & Young LLP in 1976 and from 1989 served as an audit partner for multiple companies in the oil and gas industry. She has audit and public accounting experience with a specialization in domestic and international operations in all segments of the energy industry.
Ms. Donadio is a director of Marathon Oil Corp., National Oilwell Varco Inc., and Theatre Under the Stars, a trustee for the Great Commission Foundation of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, a member of the Corporation Development Committee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a member of the Dean's Advisory Council for the E.J. Ourso College of Business at Louisiana State University.
(MS, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/29)
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES MILESTONE REACHED IN LIRR'S MAIN LINE EXPANSION PROJECT:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the MTA has reached a major milestone to improve transit service, safety and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Long Island commuters and residents. The LIRR Expansion Project released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement which will take the project another step toward construction. The scientific, engineering and socioeconomic study is required to identify any potential impacts of public construction projects and help ensure that they are done safely, responsibly, and with public input. The study’s findings demonstrate how the LIRR Expansion Project would improve service and reduce delays for Long Island Rail Road customers throughout the system, as well as improve safety and quality of life for local residents living in the project area in Nassau County.
"Expanding the Main Line is crucial to the future of Long Island and its residents,” Governor Cuomo said. “By increasing capacity on one of the LIRR’s busiest corridors and eliminating all street-level grade crossings, this project will result in less traffic, less congestion and a transportation network that meets the needs of current and future generations of Long Islanders. Today’s action marks an important milestone in this project’s completion and is another major step forward in our efforts to build a brighter future for Long island.”
“Governor Cuomo challenged us to undertake a project to transform the LIRR experience for both passengers and local communities, and to do so with an unprecedented level of community consultation and outreach – and that’s exactly what we’re doing now,” MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said. “We have gone to extraordinary lengths to listen to what the public wants out of this project. We will continue to study the impacts of this proposal and take input from all stakeholders, including our neighbors along the tracks and Main Line customers from across Long Island and New York City.”
The proposed project is completely different from prior proposals to expand track capacity on the LIRR’s Main Line. This project will include:
- No residential property acquisitions
- Eliminating all grade crossings within the 9.8 mile project corridor
- Building sound walls to reduce noise
- Station upgrades
- Additional parking
- Increased reliance on private construction industry expertise to minimize construction duration, impacts and cost
- Unprecedented level of public outreach to engage local officials, homeowners and other stakeholders and use their input while the project is being planned
The LIRR Expansion Project is part of a broader, ongoing effort by Governor Cuomo to transform the MTA and improve transit and transportation throughout New York State. On Long Island, projects like the Double Track Project between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the Jamaica Capacity Improvements Project, and the East Side Access Project to bring LIRR to Grand Central Terminal, will all bring better service to LIRR customers and help ease congestion on clogged local streets and highways such as the Long Island Expressway, Northern and Southern State Parkways, and Grand Central and Belt Parkways
(MTA - posted 11/28)
- About the LIRR Expansion Project:
The LIRR Expansion Project will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville, and eliminate all seven street-level train crossings, called “grade crossings,” within the project corridor.
With up to 40 percent of the LIRR’s 308,000 daily passengers going through the Main Line, which serves as the main corridor through which many branches of the LIRR travel, the proposed project will improve service for more than half a million passengers per week.
The elimination and modification of all seven train crossings within the project area will reduce road traffic and pollution from automobiles idling at crossing gates; will eliminate noise from train horns, crossing bells and honking cars; and will greatly improve safety by removing areas where vehicles and pedestrians can collide with trains. Right now, trains are required to blow their horns as they pass through grade crossings, and additional noise comes from bells that alert nearby drivers, who idle in long lines as they wait for trains to pass and honk their horns when gates open. The Department of Transportation will oversee the grade crossing component of the project.
“The grade crossing elimination options for this project were developed in close consultation with local communities and will end the noise, traffic and safety concerns that they have been living with for years,” said NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll. “It will lead to a significant improvement in quality of life for many people.”
The project will also result in significant noise reduction throughout sections of the project corridor from proposed retaining walls and sound attenuation walls along the railroad’s right-of-way. While these structures will reduce noise from existing train traffic, they will have an even greater impact after the significant service increases from the future East Side Access Project go into effect in a few years.
The project also includes major track infrastructure upgrades like new switches, signals and power equipment, as well as station upgrades like new, longer platforms to accommodate full-length trains, removing delays and safety issues associated with passengers needing to move between cars on shorter platforms. The project also proposes additional parking to address future ridership growth. These and other proposed components of the project are the result of months of direct consultation with local elected officials and community members, as well as analysis by experienced transportation engineers.
Other environmental benefits from the project, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, derive from reduced automobile trips as a result of additional and more reliable rail service.
All project benefits, as well as other detailed information like track and grade crossing changes, proposed service changes, current land use patterns and proposed construction staging, are outlined in the project’s Draft EIS available for download at the project’s website at www.aModernLI.com.
Renderings of the project are available
No Residential Property Acquisitions:
Unlike previous attempts to add a third track to the two-track Main Line, this project is designed without a single residential property being taken, as promised by Governor Cuomo soon after the proposal was announced this year. As shown by detailed figures in the Draft EIS, this will be achieved by building the third track entirely within the LIRR’s existing property lines.
Earlier this month, the MTA Board voted to use a two-step public process to identify the private construction firms that are best qualified to work on the LIRR Expansion Project and then, in the future, select one based on the best proposal to meet the project’s objectives. The initial stages of the procurement process and the environmental study are happening in parallel so that agency decision making in areas that are important to the public – like construction time, cost and impacts – are informed by ideas that emerge during the early stages of the procurement process. No contract will be awarded until after the conclusion of the environmental review process.
LATEST DATA ON POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL IMPLEMENTATION SHOW UNEVEN PROGRESS ACROSS RAILROADS:
The Federal Railroad Administration today released third quarter 2016 data submitted by railroads on their progress in implementing Positive Train Control (PTC). The data show uneven progress across the country and across railroads toward activating the life-saving technology.
Freight railroads now have PTC active on 12 percent of their tracks, up from 9 percent last quarter. Passenger railroads increased their percentage to 23 percent this quarter compared to 22 percent last quarter. The measurable progress made by passenger railroads has been predominately on the West Coast, while East Coast railroads, other than SEPTA and Amtrak, have remained relatively stagnant.
“Passenger and freight railroads must continue their progress implementing Positive Train Control and work to beat the deadlines Congress set – because PTC saves lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The Q3 2016 status update includes railroad-by-railroad quarterly data as of Sept. 30, 2016, and includes data such as track segments completed, locomotives equipped, employees trained, radio towers installed, route miles in PTC operation and other key implementation data. Some of this information is displayed in infographics below.
“In order to achieve full PTC implementation, everyone has to do their part – railroads must make implementation a priority, and Congress must make funding for commuter railroads a priority,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.
Since 2008, FRA has provided significant assistance to support railroads’ PTC implementation. Those efforts include:
Dedicating staff to work on PTC implementation, including establishing a PTC task force.
To view the interactive graphic of PTC implementation by freight and passenger railroads, visit
(FRA - posted 11/28)
- FRA has provided more than $716 million to passenger railroads, including nearly $400 million in Recovery Act funding.
- Issued a nearly $1 billion loan to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to implement PTC on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North.
- Awarded $25 million in grant funding to railroads, suppliers and state and local governments. Many awards will help railroads achieve interoperability among the different PTC systems that railroads are deploying.
- Made $199 million in grants available to commuter railroads in fiscal year 2017 to implement PTC.
- Building a PTC testbed at the Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, Colorado.
- Working directly with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to improve the approval process for PTC communication towers.
CENTRAL MAINE & QUEBEC ANNOUNCES PROMOTIONS:
Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQ) (www.cmqrailway.com) is pleased to announce the evolution of responsibilities of two of its senior leaders. After partnering with Fortress Investment Group (FIG) in 2014 and leading the transformation of the former Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway to the CMQ, John E. Giles has elected to transition from the role of president and chief executive officer and assume the duties of executive chairman, effective January 1, 2017.
Giles will continue to lead initiatives supporting CMQ's strategic positioning for growth and investment, including long-term planning, market positioning and acquisitions.
Giles and the Fortress team have selected Chief Operating Officer Ryan Ratledge to succeed Giles as president and CEO.
Ratledge, a 22-year railroad veteran, began his career on the BNSF, rising quickly through the operating ranks before joining RailAmerica in 2007. While at RailAmerica, he held a variety of positions that included: general manager of the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad; general manager of the Indiana and Ohio Railway; and vice president - Midwest Region.
Ratledge joined CMQ in 2014 where he and his team have dedicated themselves to retaining and developing existing and new business, while partnering with connecting carriers to optimize routes and improve pricing and service for CMQ customers.
Ratledge said, "It is a tremendous honor to continue what John began at CMQ. I am excited to be in this role. CMQ is a great team of talented people who provide critical services to our customers. I am extremely encouraged by our business momentum and our future prospects and look forward to leading CMQ into this next chapter of our success."
Giles said, "The promotion of Ryan as my successor is a natural progression and is well-deserved. He is a highly capable leader with a wealth of rail industry experience and will continue to propel the organization forward. I am confident that Ryan will excel in his new role and I look forward to continuing to work with him in the years ahead."
(Central Maine & Quebec Railway - posted 11/28)
READING & NORTHERN TO BUILD A READING, PA. PASSENGER TRAIN TERMINAL:
Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern has purchased a 2 ½ acre commercial site to build a complete passenger terminal complex for departures from Reading, PA. Opening in 2017
Within its ever-expanding passenger department, A major 2-million-dollar facility is being built at Bellevue avenue and Route 61, called Reading Outer Station.
Regular service from the Reading, PA area to Jim Thorpe and beyond will begin in 2017.
(RBM&N - posted 11/23)
AAR PRESIDENT AND CEO CALLS ON U.S. SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD TO HALL ALL MAJOR RULEMAKINGS UNTIL NEW ADMINISTRATION
INSTALLS FULL FIVE-MEMBER BOARD:
The head of the freight rail industry's main trade organization said the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) should defer a handful of widely panned regulatory proposals, most notably forced access, until the U.S. Senate confirms a full slate of board members appointed by President-elect Donald J. Trump. Such a pause is in line with Trump's call for a temporary moratorium on all new regulation and a full review of both proposed and existing rules, as well as the process in which rules are made.
The call for a freeze is also consistent with the same principles that led Henry Waxman and John Rockefeller, then-leaders of the House and Senate Commerce Committees, respectively, to call upon the Federal Communications Commission in 2008 to halt any complex and controversial items until the Obama Administration took office.
"The policy landscape in Washington, D.C. dramatically shifted on Election Day, and as such, the freight rail industry believes the STB should suspend its misguided quest to reregulate freight rail," said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads. "Now is not the time for midnight regulations, let alone the enactment of the unfounded proposals currently arising from the STB that will surely fail to meet the rigorous examination promised by future leaders."
Speaking at a conference in New York City, Hamberger noted that a new administration has a real chance to ensure that policies are rooted in data and recognize the market realities of today, not the past. He stressed that all government agencies – including the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) – should strive for transparent, empirically driven rules that consider the cumulative effects of regulation, and that Washington leaders can be powerful change agents in fixing a broken regulatory system.
"Our industry has made it clear that rules should protect a true free market, and that no agency can spur 'competition' through regulation," Hamberger said. "The current economic regulatory structure enables freight railroads to earn the revenues necessary to invest so we can deliver the rail service our customers expect and deserve. Baseless proposals to reregulate commodities exempt from strict oversight for more than 30 years, or mandates for privately owned companies to use their private infrastructure and equipment for the benefit of competitors are indeed drastic shifts in economic regulation and have no business advancing without a full complement of board members."
Congress reauthorized the STB in 2015 for the first time since its creation, expanding the board from three members to five. President-elect Trump will nominate three new members next year, which are subject to Senate confirmation.
"The bottom line," Hamberger said, "is that great uncertainty is looming not just over the freight rail industry, but the entire economy. Now is not the time for regulators to jam through rules and inject even more government-induced uncertainty."
(AAR - posted 11/23)
BUSES FROM MTA'S VINTAGE FLEET ROLL FROM RIVER TO RIVER FOR HOLIDAY SEASON:
Fancy a ride to the 1950s and ‘60s? A swipe of the MetroCard during the holiday season can help longtime customers remember (or newer customers see for the first time) what it felt like to ride an MTA New York City Transit bus half a century ago.
From December 5 to 21, NYC Transit rolls into the holiday spirit with its annual tradition of vintage rides by running a fleet of historic coaches from river to river along 42nd Street in Manhattan. The buses make stops on the M42 route between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, offering a variety of rides through the decades.
The fleet is comprised of buses that were in use from the late 1940s to the early 1970s, providing a time capsule for customers who may be more accustomed to the MTA’s modern fleet of low-floor, climate-controlled vehicles. The vintage fleet is available only if weather permits; they will not be in service during rainy, snowy or icy weather.
“Customers who come out for a ride on one of our vintage buses can see for themselves how far our fleet has come and see how our bus designs have evolved over time. Our buses from the 1950s, for example, were the first to have some amenities that customers may recognize, such as push type rear exit doors and fluorescent lighting, or comforts they might take for granted, such as air conditioning and air-ride suspension for smoother rides like the ones we still provide,” said Darryl Irick, President of MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President of NYC Transit Department of Buses. “Our next generation of buses builds on that legacy of improvement, with high-tech amenities such as digital screens and USB charging ports.”
The vintage bus fleet represented the forefront of surface transit design at the time of their manufacture, and the vehicles were built by two major firms that no longer produce buses: General Motors and Mack. Some highlights of the fleet include Bus No. 2969, a GM model TDH 5101 designed in 1949 that is known as the Jackie Gleason bus for its resemblance to the one driven by Gleason’s character, Ralph Kramden, in the television show “The Honeymooners.” Another vintage GM bus, No. 9098, is a model TDH 5106 that longtime New York residents may remember for its distinct two-tone green color scheme and its fiberglass seats, a change from earlier buses with cushioned seating that were prone to vandalism.
(MTA - posted 11/23)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 19, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 19, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 547,804 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending November 19 were 271,420 carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,384 containers and trailers, up 4.4 percent compared to 2015.
Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were grain, up 19.9 percent to 25,916 carloads; farm products excl. grain, and food, up 3.5 percent to 17,057 carloads; and coal, up 1.7 percent to 94,751 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 6.9 percent to 11,076 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 3.4 percent to 19,099 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2.5 percent to 18,611 carloads.
For the first 46 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,619,023 carloads, down 9.3 percent from the same point last year; and 11,976,927 intermodal units, down 2.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 46 weeks of 2016 was 23,595,950 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 6.1 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending November 19, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 368,531 carloads, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 351,168 intermodal units, up 5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 719,699 carloads and intermodal units, up 4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 46 weeks of 2016 was 30,888,422 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.6 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 81,944 carloads for the week, up 10.8 percent, and 63,086 intermodal units, up 8.4 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 46 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,053,519 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4.4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,167 carloads for the week, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,698 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 46 weeks of 2016 was 1,238,953 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.1 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 11/23)
BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION WINS CONTRACT TO FLEET OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE IN MONTREAL:
Rail technology leader Bombardier Transportation today announced that it has been awarded an eight-year contract by Montréal's Agence Métropolitaine de Transport (AMT) for the Operations and Maintenance of the AMT commuter rail fleet on all of its six lines in the greater Montréal area. The contract is valued at approximately $331 million CAD ($246 million US, 231 million euro). The agreement includes a two-year option. The new contract took effect on November 18, 2016.
"AMT's commuter rail service is one of the most important in North America and has been a growing success story for many years, and Bombardier is honoured to be a partner in its development." said Benoît Brossoit, President, Bombardier Transportation, Americas Region, "This continued confidence in the quality of our services confirms Bombardier's leadership position and highlights our strong services portfolio."
Bombardier has been providing Maintenance services for AMT since 2010. With this new contract, Bombardier's scope of work will not only cover the maintenance of AMT's entire fleet of 264 coaches and 41 locomotives, but will also extend to the Operations of AMT's commuter rail services. Over the past 12 months, Bombardier's average on-time performance for maintenance of the AMT fleet has been 99.87 percent, offering market-leading results even in harsh winter conditions.
"Agence métropolitaine de transport is happy to continue its partnership with Bombardier", said Stéphane Lapierre, Vice president Operations, at AMT. "We have a longstanding positive relationship that is based on the common objective of bringing state-of-the-art mobility solutions to the Greater Montréal area"
As a world-leading supplier of third party rail services, Bombardier offers added-value to its customers by providing integrated fleet support and solutions. Our comprehensive asset management services help deliver lower life-cycle costs for vehicle fleets, while maintaining high availability rates and on-time performance. By offering dependable and steadfast services to AMT and its entire customer base, Bombardier works at offering the quality of service and enhanced passenger experience necessary to help increase ridership and improve regional mobility.
Bombardier Transportation is the only global rail manufacturer with an important presence in Canada, with a workforce of more than 4,000 highly qualified employees. Every day, millions of Canadians in Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver rely on Bombardier urban rail vehicles and services to provide comfortable, safe and reliable public transit.
An established Bombardier customer, AMT is the second largest commuter train transit system in Canada and the sixth largest region in terms of traffic in North America, with an annual ridership of more than 19,000,000 on its commuter rail service. In addition to operating the commuter trains in the metropolitan area, AMT is the organization responsible for planning, integrating and coordinating mass transit services in the Greater Montreal area. Over the years, Bombardier has provided AMT with commuter rail cars, electric multiple units, dual-powered locomotives, as well as BOMBARDIER BiLevel and multilevel commuter rail cars.
(Bombardier - posted 11/22)
METRO-NORTH RAILROAD ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF FORDHAM STATION RENEWAL:
The MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced it has completed restoration and upgrades of the Fordham Station, including a rebuilt northbound platform with double the capacity, a new entrance leading directly to Webster Avenue at 193rd Street and new permanent artwork. These upgrades follow the complete renovation of the historic station building on Fordham Road, which was completed in 2014.
“Fordham Station is the busiest reverse-peak commutation station in the nation said Joseph Giulietti, President of Metro-North Railroad. “These renovations are making it easier, more comfortable and more pleasant for our Bronx customers who work outside the city to get to their jobs.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., said: “The Fordham Metro north station is a key transit hub in our borough, and these renovations will make for a safer and more comfortable experience for station users. I applaud the MTA’s efforts to bring about positive change for Bronx riders at the Fordham station.”
“As the Fordham Road area continues to grow as an economic hub in the Bronx we must continue to invest in the infrastructure around it. These most recent upgrades to the Fordham Road Metro-North Station will ensure that those coming to the area to shop or to work are able to do so safely and conveniently. I look forward to continuing to work with the MTA to make these important investments in our infrastructure possible,” said Senator Jeff Klein.
Both northbound and southbound platforms were restored with customer safety and comfort in mind. They’ve been painted, cleaned and updated with rehabilitated elevators, new LED lighting, canopies, benches, real-time information monitors and public address systems. Widened and enclosed staircases also reduce commuter congestion. Platform shelters have been modernized with “Push for Heat” technology.
Metro-North acquired a narrow strip of approximately 7,128 square feet of property from Fordham University so that it could expand station’s northbound platform to nearly double its width. The platform had previously been just under 10 feet wide, and it is now more than 19 feet wide, boasting an 813-person capacity, almost double the previous capacity of 461.
The larger platform, giving customers greater room on the platform to board and exit trains, will mean less crowding and better on-time performance as trains spend less time waiting for customers to board and exit the train.
A ramp that is accessible to customer with disabilities has been installed at the north end of the southbound platform, cutting travel time for pedestrians in the densely populated neighborhood to the north and west of the station.
MTA Arts and Design commissioned artist Dan Funderburgh to create a site specific installation on the north-bound platform. Entitled Eureka, the artwork is a series of four "rose windows” composed of two layers of waterjet-cut aluminum in black and gold. It depicts the diverse universe of flora seen at the nearby New York Botanical Garden and references the Gothic details found in the surrounding architecture of Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus.
Fordham station’s makeover took place alongside the renovation of neighboring Fordham Plaza, work done by the NYC Department of Transportation and NYC Department of Design and Construction. As a major transit and commercial hub, Fordham Plaza sits at the crossroads of Metro-North’s busy station, twelve local and regional bus lines, Fordham University (home to some 6,700 students), Roosevelt Educational Campus (with some 6,800 elementary and high school students) and Fordham Road, which is traveled by 80,000 pedestrians daily.
(MTA - posted 11/22)
HOP ON BOARD A VINTAGE SUBWAY TRAIN FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
MTA New York City Transit and the New York Transit Museum are putting extra magic on the rails with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s annual holiday tradition of rides to the past via its vintage fleet. These subway cars will help customers experience the most magical time of year the way that New York straphangers did long ago.
A special eight-car subway train that is typically displayed in the Transit Museum is put into service for special Sunday rides. This “Shoppers Special” takes customers between Lower Manhattan to Queens on four consecutive Sundays from Thanksgiving weekend to the week before Christmas, all for the swipe of a MetroCard.
The “Shoppers Special” consists of R1/9 subway cars, also known as City Cars, which ran on the lettered lines from the 1930s to the 1970s, serving subway lines that may be unfamiliar to current customers, such as the AA , BB, EE and H. The jazz composer Billy Strayhorn would have taken a City Car to Sugar Hill when Duke Ellington told him to “Take the A Train.” These subway cars, which were ordered for the Independent Subway System (IND), have rattan seats, ceiling fans, incandescent bulb lighting, drop-sash style windows, and roll signs. They became the model of NYC Transit’s modern subway cars, with the same dimensions as the modern R160s and the foundation for the design of the upcoming R211 cars.
“We owe a great deal to these City Cars, because they were durable work horses that remained in our fleet for 40 years. They are the foundation of every subway car we have designed since, and they continue to serve as a reminder of our past and how far we have come in design and customer comfort,” said Wynton Habersham, NYC Transit’s Senior Vice President of Subways. “Our customers love riding these vintage classics every year, and we love showing them off.”
Seven of the cars on the “Shoppers Special” are nearly identical except one: No. 1575, which appears much more modern than the rest of the consist. No. 1575 is the prototype for the subway car class that followed the R1/9, with amenities such as fluorescent lights and smaller ceiling fans. Customers can visit the train year-round at the Transit Museum, though it sometimes makes guest appearances for special occasions such as anniversaries and the holidays.
The “Shoppers Special” runs via the 6 Av Line between 2 Av and Queens Plaza beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving, on the following dates: November 27, December 4, December 11 and December 18.
Leaves 2 Av/ Leaves Queens Plaza
For more information, visit
More photos of past holiday vintage trains are available here.
(FRA - posted 11/21)
- 10:05 a.m./ 10:44 a.m.
- 11:13 a.m./ 12:14 p.m.
- 1:03 p.m./ 1:44 p.m.
- 2:33 p.m./ 3:14 p.m.
- 4:03 p.m./ 4:44 p.m.
CN RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE IN CORPORATE GOVERNANCE:
CN today announced it has received the 2016 Best Overall Corporate Governance award for publicly-listed companies from the Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC).
CN received the award this week during the GPC's fourth annual Excellence in Governance Awards ceremony in Toronto recognizing leadership in corporate governance best practices.
"CN has always recognized the importance of good governance and their governance practices are truly integrated in their business operations and are not viewed in isolation," the GPC awards panel said. "CN has consistently been at the top of the class since governance assessments started in the early 2000s."
Sean Finn, CN executive vice-president of corporate services and chief legal officer said: "CN is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen in every aspect of what we do. We strongly believe that good corporate governance is good business, and we are honoured to have been recognized for our efforts and dedication in this very important area."
The GPC represents governance professionals across Canada and is one of the country's leading advocates of good corporate governance. The awards underscore the critical role that good governance plays in sustaining the value of Canada's public companies, crown corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations.
(CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/21)
FRA PROPOSES SAFETY STANDARD UPDATES TO ALLOW FOR HIGH SPEED PASSENGER TRAINS:
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today proposed updates for the passenger train safety standards used in the United States as the country looks to add high-speed trains that can travel up to 220 miles per hour and replace its aging passenger fleet. The proposed updates represent nearly a decade of work by FRA’s passenger rail division.
“As several regions of the United States build faster passenger rail service, the trains on those tracks must keep passengers safe,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “To do that, we want to allow manufacturers to innovate and achieve all-new levels of safety. These proposed changes put us on track to do just that.”
The proposed updates would establish a new category of passenger equipment, Tier III, for trains traveling up to 220 mph. The updates would offer an alternative method for evaluating how well passengers and crews are protected in an accident, often called crashworthiness. The public, railroad industry, railroad labor, manufacturers and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide feedback and comment on the proposed rule during the next 60 days.
In addition to measuring a train’s crashworthiness based on whether it meets current prescriptive strength standards, the proposed changes would allow a train’s crashworthiness to be evaluated based on it meeting an equivalent level of safety achieved through crash energy management technology or other innovative engineering methods.
“We look forward to hearing from everyone on how this proposal can help our country build a stronger passenger rail network – one that is not only faster but allows for new technologies to make passenger trains even safer,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.
Although Tier III trains will be required to have exclusive track to operate at speeds above 125 mph, the new standards will allow Tier III trains to safely share track with current Tier I and Tier II commuter, intercity and Acela trains. Compatibility between equipment types is a key strategy to allow trains to share existing corridors to reach downtown stations.
The proposed updates can be found at
(FRA - posted 11/21)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN SAFETY TRAIN REACHES MORE THAN 1,900 FIRST RESPONDERS ON 18 CITY TOUR:
Norfolk Southern’s safety train recently completed its 2016 tour, training 1,926 first responders in 18 cities in 13 states across NS’ rail network. With rolling classrooms and hands-on activities, the safety train provided free training to firefighters, police officers, emergency management personnel, and other first responders on how to safely respond to a rail-related hazardous materials incident.
“Our safety train allowed us to expand our outreach to more first responders and emergency personnel in more communities than ever before, equipping them with education and resources to help raise their level of emergency preparedness in the unlikely event of a rail incident,” said David Schoendorfer, system manager hazardous materials. “The training also helped us build relationships with first responders across our network.”
The NS safety train’s final stop for 2016 was in Columbia, S.C., Nov. 11-13, where 73 first responders received training. The train began in April in Altoona, Pa., and along the way provided training to emergency responders in Alexandria, Va.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Buffalo, N.Y.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Chicago; Cincinnati, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Greenville, S.C.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Newark, N.J.; Norfolk, Va.; Slidell, La.; Spencer, N.C.; and Toledo, Ohio.
At each location, NS hazardous materials experts led a four-hour course that included classroom and interactive teaching. The safety train consists of a dedicated locomotive, two boxcars converted into classrooms, four types of railroad tank cars used in transporting all types of chemicals, and two specially equipped flat cars with a variety of tank-car valves and fittings. The train is part of Norfolk Southern’s “Operation Awareness and Response” program to connect emergency responders in Norfolk Southern communities with training resources and to strengthen relationships with local first responders. To get more information on training go to
Part of the training focused on
, a mobile application that provides first responders immediate access to real-time data about the type of hazardous material a rail car is carrying, helping them to make informed decisions about how to respond to a rail emergency. AskRail™ was created by the Class I railroads for use by bona-fide emergency responders and can be requested by downloading the app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store and completing the registration process.
During 2016 Norfolk Southern has trained more than 5,300 emergency responders across its operating territory through classroom seminars, hands-on sessions with rolling stock, table-top simulations, full-scale drills, and exercises at training centers operated by NS and the Association of American Railroads. NS also hosted more than 40 first responders from communities across the NS network at crude-by-rail incident response training at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Co. Since 2012, NS’ hazmat professionals have trained more than 24,500 first responders in communities along the railroad’s network.
(Norfolk Southern - posted 11/18)
AMTRAK DELIVERS STRONG FY 2016 FINANCIAL RESULTS:
Amtrak today reported exceptionally strong unaudited financial results for the fiscal year which ended on September 30, 2016 (FY 2016), including an all-time unaudited ticket revenue record of $2.14 billion, a $12 million increase over Fiscal Year 2015.
The increased ticket revenue was fueled by a record 31.3 million passengers on America’s Railroad® – nearly 400,000 more than the previous year. This is the sixth consecutive year Amtrak has carried more than 30 million customers.
The company covered 94 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues, up from 92 percent the year before – a world-class performance for a passenger carrying railroad. Unaudited total revenue was a record $3.2 billion for FY 2016. In addition, Amtrak reported an unaudited operating loss of $227 million, a reduction of $78 million over last year, and the lowest operating loss since 1973. Thanks in part to our strong performance, Amtrak was also able to make a net reduction in long-term debt of $71.4 million.
“The results demonstrate the value we deliver to our customers and the vital role Amtrak plays in our nation’s transportation system,” said Amtrak Chairman of the Board Anthony Coscia. “We are off to another strong start for the new fiscal year and will provide a great travel experience for customers who choose Amtrak in the upcoming holiday season.”
Several Amtrak services had record years in both ridership and revenue including the Northeast Regional (Boston-New York-Washington/Virginia), Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo-San Diego), Capitol Corridor (San Jose-Sacramento/Auburn), Keystone (New York-Philadelphia-Harrisburg) and Hiawatha (Milwaukee-Chicago) state-sponsored corridors, along with the California Zephyr (Chicago-Denver-San Francisco Bay).
To boost ridership, Amtrak added cars to high-demand or sold-out trains. Amtrak also improved its on-time performance of trains and customer satisfaction scores, and offered new services such as allowing pets and bikes on trains.
“More and more customers recognize Amtrak as a smarter way to travel,” said Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman. “We will continue to enhance the customer experience and strengthen our market position through investments such as next-generation high-speed rail for the Northeast Corridor, while at the same time remaining focused on running an efficient and effective company.”
In August, Amtrak announced it will be investing nearly $2.5 billion in new trainsets and infrastructure upgrades for the next generation of Acela Express. The new trainsets are expected to be operational beginning in 2021. The company is also going to make significant station improvements at Washington Union Station in Washington, D.C., and to create the Moynihan Station in New York City, along with other major station investments and developments in Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.(Amtrak - 11/17)
CSX UPDATE: CITRA, FLORIDA COLLISION:
CSX crews and contractors made significant progress overnight at the site where two trains collided Wednesday morning in Citra, Fla. All derailed freight cars and locomotives have been moved off the tracks to a temporary staging area and crews continue recovering the coal, phosphate and diesel fuel that spilled on the ground. Crews are expected to begin rebuilding the mainline tracks today. CSX’s first priority continues to be the safety of those on site, and we appreciate the community's patience while we complete this work.
At approximately 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, a CSX train transporting phosphate rock collided with a second CSX train loaded with coal near the Pine Church Road crossing in Citra. A total of 32 cars derailed. Neither train was carrying hazardous materials. CSX environmental experts estimate 7,400 gallons of fuel were released from three locomotives.
The phosphate train was traveling from Mulberry, Florida to Chicago with three locomotives and 100 loaded phosphate cars. The coal train was traveling from Pembroke, Kentucky to Tampa with three locomotives and 110 loaded cars of coal.
CSX appreciates the professional and swift response from the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Marion County Fire and Rescue.
The cause of the collision is under investigation
(CSX - posted 11/17)
CSX STATEMENT ON CITRA, FLORIDA COLLISION:
CSX representatives and Marion County authorities are on site at the collision of two trains in Citra, Fla., just north of Ocala, this morning. At approximately 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, a CSX train transporting non-hazardous phosphate rock collided with a second CSX train loaded with coal near the Pine Church Road crossing in Citra. Marion County Sheriff’s Department and CSX representatives are on scene assessing the situation and developing an action plan. The first priority is the safety of train crews and responders.
CSX is working to confirm the number of derailed rail cars. Initial reports indicate that diesel fuel has been released from one or more of the locomotives. CSX environmental experts are on scene to assess and contain any product releases. We will provide more information as it becomes available.
The phosphate train was traveling from Mulberry, Florida to Chicago with three locomotives and 100 loaded phosphate cars. The coal train was traveling from Pembroke, Kentucky to Tampa with three locomotives and 110 loaded cars of coal.
Two CSX crew members are being treated for minor injuries. The cause of the collision is currently under investigation.
(CSX - posted 11/16)
MTA METRO-NORTH RAILROAD RECIEVE UP TO 94 ADDITIONAL M8 CARS FOR THE NEW HAVEN LINE:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today approved an order for at least 60, and up to a total of 94 additional new M8 rail cars that provide train service on Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line. The cars, the first of which are expected to enter service in three years, will allow the railroad to lengthen rush hour trains, retire its last 36 older M2 cars, increase safety, and have flexibility to increase train service in the years ahead to meet ridership increases. The cars will supplement the 405 M8 cars already in use on the New Haven Line and New Canaan Branch.
The order approved today consists of a base order of 60 cars and an option for an additional 34 cars. The base order is expected to include the retrofit of 10 existing M8 cars into café cars.
The M8 cars have improved customer satisfaction levels and have achieved very high mechanical reliability, far in excess of expectations. Additionally, the new M8 are designed to be enabled with Positive Train Control from the time they enter service. Through September, the cars are averaging 460,277 miles between mechanical breakdowns, the best rate for New Haven Line cars in decades and 53% above the railroad’s goal for the cars.
“The approval of these additional railcars will improve service for commuters throughout the region on the nation’s busiest commuter rail line,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “For decades, we as a state and nation have failed to make investments in transportation a top priority – and we have witnessed the results with failing roadways and aging public transportation systems. But today we are taking a new approach. Through actions like today’s, we are showing the public that investments in infrastructure must be made to continue the level of service the public, and our economy, have come to depend on. If we want to remain competitive, giving our residents and businesses the best chance to prosper, we must continue to make desperately needed investments across our entire transportation infrastructure.”
The M8 cars are the most technologically sophisticated in Metro-North’s fleet. They have third rail shoes that can receive 700- to 750-volt direct current to power the trains between Pelham and Grand Central Terminal, and the capability to run under two types of alternating current from overhead wire, known as catenary. The New Haven Line and its New Canaan Branch use 60 cycle, 12.5 kilovolt power. The cars can also operate at the higher, 60 cycle, 25 kilovolt power, which is used on the Shore Line East route east of New Haven
Three hundred eighty of the current cars are in permanently coupled pairs; each pair’s “A” car has 110 seats and each “B” car has 101 seats plus a handicapped-accessible, airline-style vacuum toilet and space for wheelchair seating or bicycles to be stored on wall-mounted hooks.
Each row of seats is outfitted with electrical outlets, grab bars, coat hooks and overhead luggage racks. The color scheme is a vibrant red, the historical color of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, a predecessor to Metro-North. Outside, customers see prominent electronic destination signs and hear public address announcements from external speakers. Single leaf doors provide high reliability and less susceptibility to snow intrusion.
The existing M8 cars, like the rest of Metro-North’s fleet, are being upgraded to enable them to operate with enhanced Positive Train Control, a safety system designed to reduce the risk of human error contributing to derailments or collisions caused when a train travels too fast into a curve, onto tracks already occupied by another train, or through a misaligned switch. The existing cars are also being retrofitted to include security cameras in engineers’ cabs and in the customer areas of the trains. The new M8 cars will not need to be retrofitted, they will come enabled with cameras and Positive Train Control equipment when they are delivered to the railroad.
The M8 coach cars for use on the New Haven Line are funded 65% by the State of Connecticut and 35% by the MTA Capital Program. M8 café cars are funded entirely by the State of Connecticut.
Work to build the M8 cars was initiated in August 2006, when the MTA and Connecticut placed an initial base order for 300 cars with Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc. The first eight M8 cars entered service on March 1, 2011.
Since the initial order for the cars, New Haven Line ridership growth has been at or above the high end of expectations, and the railroad has responded with significant service increases every year since 2012. The M8 car fleet size has grown to meet increasing ridership and service levels. The initial contract contained two options for additional cars. The first contract, for 42 cars, and the second, for 38, were both exercised early in 2011. Then in July of that year, the MTA and Connecticut Department of Transportation agreed to amend their contract with Kawasaki to order an additional 25 M8 cars configured not as permanently coupled pairs, but as unpowered single cars, bringing the railroad to today’s total of 405 cars. Today’s announcement reflects a second amendment to the contract, and will bring the total number of M8 cars in existence to 465, or up to 499 if the option is exercised.
The M8 cars are manufactured in Lincoln, Nebraska; final testing takes place in New York and Connecticut.
(MTA - 11/16)
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES MAJOR PROGRESS IN MTA SUBWAY STATION ENHANCEMENT INITIATIVE:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced two major milestones in the initiative to create new and improved subway stations throughout the New York metropolitan area as a part of his plan to reimagine the MTA for the 21st century. The MTA will award a contract this month for the first three stations, all located on the R line in Brooklyn, and the Authority will issue a Request for Proposals this week for the second group of stations.
"New, modern subway stations across the system are an essential part of our efforts to rebuild and reimagine the MTA for the 21st Century," Governor Cuomo said. "These milestones demonstrate remarkable progress in the redesign and renovation process that will revamp these stations for current and future generations of New Yorkers.”
Contract Award for First Three Station Enhancements: This month the MTA will award a contract for the first three stations in the initiative: Prospect Avenue, 53rd Street Station and Bay Ridge Avenue, which are on the R line in Brooklyn. The station enhancements include:
Design and pre-construction surveys of existing conditions will be conducted to support the modernization of the three stations. These are the first of the stations that will be renovated using a single-contractor, design-build method to cut time and save money. The MTA board approved the $72.1 million contract at the Authority’s November meeting, awarding the work to Citnalta-Forte Joint Venture.
At the start of the projects, minor construction activities will be performed while the stations remain operational. However, in order to fast track the renovations, the stations will be temporarily closed, enabling the contractor to get in, get the work done, and get out in the shortest possible time frame. Contractors are incentivized to keep closures as short as possible. All major construction will be completed during the closures, with targeted closures of approximately 6 months at the Bay Ridge Avenue and 53rd Street stations, and Prospect Avenue station.
Work at all three stations is slated for completion within 12 months of the date of award.
The contract also includes concrete and steel repairs, new platform edges, waterproofing, upgraded electrical and communications systems, track wall and platform wall repairs, new stair finishes, and glass barriers in station mezzanines.
Request For Proposals for Second Group of Stations To Undergo Upgrades
This week MTA will issue a Request for Proposals for the second package of stations, located on the Astoria Line (N,W) in Queens, including Broadway, 30th Avenue, 36th Avenue, and 39th Avenue stations. As part of the process, the MTA will evaluate proposals considering full and partial station closures in order to ensure that renovations are completed as quickly as possible.
Among the top criteria for awarding the Request for Proposals will be how quickly the contractor can complete the entire renovation process, and their ability to shorten the amount of time that each station is closed. In addition, incentives will be offered to encourage early completion.
Thomas Prendergast, MTA Chairman and CEO, said, "Issuing the RFP for these four stations directly reflects the Governor’s mandate for us to continue to build momentum for the program. We are determined to return new and improved stations that enhance the customer experience – and this is another step in that exciting process."
Initial Announcement of Station Design Plan
Governor Cuomo unveiled the ambitious design plan for stations during a July event at the Transit Museum in Brooklyn, and the MTA issued a Request for Proposal for the first three stations in the program: Prospect Avenue Station, 53rd Street Station, and Bay Ridge Avenue Station. At the completion of the project, the station enhancements will be distributed across the five boroughs. Renderings of the station enhancements are available here.
Design Build Contracts
At the direction of the Governor, the MTA is using design-build contracts for all of the stations. Design-build contracts place construction in the hands of private construction firms with the expertise to assure successful construction that is completed within the shortest possible time frame. The contractor assumes the risk for cost overruns and maintaining time schedules. The single team is responsible for both the design and construction of an entire project in order to ensure that coordination is seamless.
In developing the standards for the reimagined stations the MTA worked with distinguished and world-renowned design consultants who possess extensive experience creating transit facilities. The lead designers, Grimshaw Architects, and Arup, program managers – both with offices in London and New York – spearheaded the stations’ initiative.(MTA - 11/16)
Enhanced lighting throughout the stations;
Improved signage for easier navigation, including digital, real-time updates on on-time performance at subway entrances, before customers even enter the station;
Inclusion of amenities, such as countdown clocks, improved cellular connectivity, Wi-Fi and new art, as well as security cameras;
Renovations will also consider the architectural legacy of each station, and remain sensitive to historical elements as the stations undergo redesign.
AMTRAK NARROWS SEARCH FOR A BALTIMORE PENN STATION MASTER DEVELOPER:
Amtrak has narrowed the field to three teams that will compete to be selected as Master Developer for commercial elements of Baltimore Penn Station and surrounding Amtrak-owned properties. Several firms responded to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and the following, in alphabetical order, are those that have been “short-listed”:
“We are inspired to see this competitive process attract some of the most capable and visionary firms in the development industry, complete with the financial backing to execute a bold transformation for Amtrak and the City of Baltimore,” said Bart Bush, Amtrak Vice President, Asset and Real Estate Development. “We look forward to working closely with the developers in the coming months, bringing us one step closer to realizing the vision of Baltimore Penn Station as a world-class transportation facility for years to come.”
Amtrak leaders worked closely with the City of Baltimore, State of Maryland, local anchor institutions and neighborhood partners to review the responses to the RFQs and to select those teams considered capable of all aspects of project delivery.
“I welcome today’s announcement that three world-class development teams will be invited to offer their visions for revitalizing Penn Station,” said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. “These teams bring the resources and expertise that will be essential to transforming Penn Station and I am excited to see their ideas and proposals as the selection process moves into the next phase.”
The scope of the Master Developer would include an implementable Master Plan, design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of non-rail assets at Baltimore Penn Station, as well as expansion opportunities and commercial development of the surrounding Amtrak owned properties. Any development solution envisioned by the selected proposer will need to align with Amtrak operational goals, and continue Amtrak’s ongoing engagement with the community to ensure successful integration with the surrounding neighborhoods.
“After working closely with my administration to reimagine how Penn Station can be a catalyst for growth in Central Baltimore, I am excited that Amtrak has reached this milestone in shortlisting three highly-qualified teams,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “I look forward to the final stage of selecting a team to transform the station and surrounding properties into a modern transit-oriented development reflective of the great renaissance Baltimore is undergoing.”
Ten months ago, Amtrak sought input from local, regional and national developers who expressed interest in the opportunity to redevelop the Amtrak-owned station and surrounding land parcels, as well as improve both passenger and employee facilities. Industry response helped to inform the process to solicit a Master Developer, with responses to an RFQ submitted in October. The next steps will be to issue a Request for Proposals to the three short-listed teams, evaluate responses, and select a preferred Master Developer in summer 2017.
This Master Development process is part of a larger corporate program to leverage the substantial Amtrak asset portfolio, focusing on innovative strategies for sustainable financial performance and infrastructure reinvestment. The selection of a short-list of qualified developer teams in Baltimore comes at a time when demand for passenger rail service continues at record levels. Baltimore Penn Station is currently the eighth busiest station in Amtrak’s national network with ridership forecasts predicted to double along the Northeast Corridor by 2040.
(Amtrak - posted 11/16)
- Brandywine Realty Trust: Brandywine Realty Trust, Pinkard Properties, Perkins Eastman, Ayers Saint Gross, ARUP, Clark Construction, Madison Marquette, Langan Engineering and Environmental Services
- Peebles-AZ Baltimore Penn: The Peebles Corporation, AZ Group, MacFarlane Partner, Consolidated Contractors Group SAL, AECOM Technical Services Inc., Morganti Group, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, Lewis Contractors, Williams Jackson Ewing (WJE), Marks Thomas
- Penn Station Partners: Beatty Development Group, Armada Hoffler Properties, Cross Street Partners, Gensler, HR&A, JLL, Mace, Network Rail Consulting, Stifel, WSP | PB
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 12, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 12, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 541,127 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending November 12 were 272,131 carloads, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 268,996 containers and trailers, down 1.4 percent compared to 2015.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included grain, up 23 percent to 26,817 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 5.4 percent to 9,566 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, up 5.2 percent to 21,806 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.4 percent to 11,146 carloads; forest products, down 5.6 percent to 9,677 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 5.4 percent to 17,227 carloads.
For the first 45 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,347,603 carloads, down 9.6 percent from the same point last year; and 11,700,543 intermodal units, down 2.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 45 weeks of 2016 was 23,048,146 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 6.3 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending November 12, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 367,832 carloads, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 339,727 intermodal units, down 1.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 707,559 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 45 weeks of 2016 was 30,168,723 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.8 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 80,975 carloads for the week, up 8.6 percent, and 60,237 intermodal units, up 1.1 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 45 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,908,489 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4.7 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 14,726 carloads for the week, down 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,494 intermodal units, down 8.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 45 weeks of 2016 was 1,212,088 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.1 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 11/16)
AMTRAK SEEKS DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS FOR KEY PROPERTY ADJACENT TO 30TH STREET STATION IN PHILADELPHIA:
Following the launch of the 30th Street Station District Plan earlier this year, Amtrak has engaged Newmark Grubb Knight Frank to issue a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the long term lease and development of property adjacent to its third busiest station.
Located at the corner of 30th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, the property includes a roughly 32,500 square foot tract of land and associated air rights. The property is zoned to allow for a wide range of institutional, commercial, office and residential uses.
“Amtrak is eager to engage the development community in this exciting opportunity,” said Rina Cutler, Senior Director for Major Station Planning. “This RFP is just the beginning of a series of projects outlined in the District Plan that together have the potential to transform the area surrounding 30th Street Station and the rest of Philadelphia.”
The District Plan is a comprehensive vision for the future of the area surrounding 30th Street Station in the year 2050 and beyond. In the near term, Amtrak and its partners are strategically advancing key projects to activate all four sides of the station and build a foundation for future growth and development.
The Plan ultimately envisions forty new acres of open space and 18 million square feet of new development, including an entirely new mixed-use neighborhood anchoring the District atop 88 acres of rail yards along the western bank of the Schuylkill River. With a proposed $2 billion investment in roads, utilities, parks, bridges, and extension of transit services, the Plan has the potential to unlock $4.5 billion in private real estate investment with robust and widespread economic benefits. An estimated $3.8 billion in City and State taxes and 40,000 new jobs would be created.
(Amtrak - posted 11/15)
SEPTA CONTINUES TO DEPLOY PTC TECHNOLOGY:
With the West Trenton Line now operating with Positive Train Control (PTC), in November, Cynwyd will be the next Regional Rail Line to launch PTC followed by the Main Line corridor - Glenside/south - scheduled for December.
Coordination efforts with Amtrak continue as we test and prepare our vehicles to operate under their PTC system on the Paoli/Thorndale, Trenton, and Wilmington/Newark Regional Rail Lines.
(SEPTA, Alex Mayes - posted 11/15)
PATRIOT RAIL SUBSIDIARY LAKESHORE RAILCAR SERVICES EXPANDS:
Patriot Rail Company LLC (Patriot Rail), a premier short line railroad and rail services company based in the U.S., announced today further expansion of its rail services portfolio.
Patriot Rail subsidiary, Lakeshore Railcar Services LLC (Lakeshore), has acquired the assets of United Transportation Group (UTG), a Midwest-based company specializing in rail tank car and tanker truck cleaning. The Lakeshore facility is a 34-acre, full-service, logistics support complex located in East Chicago, Indiana, approximately 20 miles southeast of downtown Chicago, Illinois. In addition to rail tank car and tanker truck washes, Lakeshore will offer transloading, truck/trailer mechanical repair, maintenance, hazardous materials (HM) testing, and waste water treatment services.
This most recent acquisition helps fulfill Patriot Rail's long-term strategy to provide a fully-integrated suite of rail-related services to its customers. Starting back in 2013, the company added Blue Ridge Railcar Repair Services; a railcar repair and maintenance facility based out of Keysville, Virginia to its portfolio, followed in 2014 with the acquisition of Foster Townsend Rail Logistics, a St. Louis, Missouri-based company specializing in contract railcar switching and logistics services. By the end of 2015, Patriot Rail had purchased the assets to form Global Rail Transfer Company, a nation-wide railway clean-up and transfer company also offering rail to truck transloading and track construction, repair and maintenance.
"Patriot Rail is no longer just a company made up of individual short line railroads," Patriot Rail President & CEO, John Fenton said. "We now offer a full range of services that allows us to develop customized, cost effective rail transportation plans for customers, on and off our rail lines. Providing a 'one-stop shop' for customers simplifies what can be a very complicated railroad supply chain and ultimately saves them time and money."
(Patriot Rail, Randy Kotuby, Alex Mayes - posted 11/15)
PACIFIC ETHANOL AND TOLEDO, PEORIA & WESTERN RAILWAY BEGIN UNIT TRAIN SERVICE:
Pacific Ethanol, Inc. (PEIX) and Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway (TPW), a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) (GWR), announced they have commenced unit train service from Pacific Ethanol’s plant in Pekin, Illinois.
“This unit-train solution enables us to increase our overall sales volumes by expanding our ethanol distribution to new markets on the East Coast,” stated Neil Koehler, CEO of Pacific Ethanol. “This agreement with TPW builds on our producer-marketer business plan for the Pekin plant, increasing revenue and providing reliable and efficient service to customers in new markets.”
Under the new service, the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad, a G&W-owned switching and terminal railroad that serves the Pekin plant, hauls the plant’s daily output to Creve Coeur, Illinois, where the connecting TPW has the track capacity to aggregate the railcars and assemble unit trains of as many as 96 cars. The TPW, a 200-mile short line railroad, then interchanges the unit trains with connecting Class I railroads for delivery to final destinations east of the Mississippi.
“Enabling Pacific Ethanol to originate unit trains on the TPW is the third recent example of G&W railroad’s commitment to the biofuels industry,” said Mike Webb, senior vice president for distribution services for Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Services, Inc. “This past July, we announced a project that allows an ethanol customer to receive unit trains via G&W’s Arkansas Midland Railroad, and last year at this time, our San Diego & Imperial Valley Railroad opened a Choice Terminal bulk transload facility with a biofuels company as its anchor customer.”
The ethanol market is expected to remain strong overall, with increased demand from international markets and from certain U.S. markets raising their 10-percent blend minimums.
(G&W - posted 11/14)
SEPTA KEY TRAVEL WALLET:
SEPTA is expanding the SEPTA Key Early Adopters program to include the Travel Wallet feature beginning today. The Travel Wallet enables riders to load Key cards with cash value and pay as they go on all buses, trolleys and the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines.
"The Travel Wallet is a great option for customers who currently use cash or tokens and transfers for their regular travel," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "It's also a convenient choice for those who only ride a few days a week or for occasional customers, because it eliminates the need to pre-purchase tokens or have exact change. Your SEPTA Key Card loaded with money in the Travel Wallet will always have the correct fare to pay for your ride."
SEPTA is using a soft-launch approach for the Travel Wallet to help familiarize customers with this new way of paying, and to help ensure the Authority can address any issues that customers experience before moving to a larger rollout. The Travel Wallet launch will start with 1,000 new SEPTA Key cards available for customers at the Sales Office and Fair Kiosks at SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street. Customers will be required to put a minimum of $10 on the card, with a maximum of $250. Customers who already have SEPTA Key Cards from previous Weekly and Monthly TransPass purchases can also load money onto the Travel Wallet at the SEPTA Headquarters locations. In the later phases of Travel Wallet, customers will be able to load and reload money at all SEPTA Sales Offices, at fare Kiosks located at transit stations and bus loops, online and through the SEPTA Key Customer Call Center.
During this soft-launch rollout, funds in a customer's Travel Wallet can only be used to pay for one person. It cannot be tapped multiple times to pay for more than one rider -- this is a feature that will be added in a later phase of the Key rollout. Customers can have both a current TransPass and money in a Travel Wallet on a SEPTA Key Card, but the Travel Wallet funds will not be deducted if there are still rides available on the pass.
The Travel Wallet is the latest feature to be rolled out to customers as part of the SEPTA Key Early Adopters program. SEPTA is also continuing with sales of Key cards loaded Weekly and Monthly TransPasses at sales office locations. In addition, Quick Trips -- a single ride, magnetic stripe ticket for Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line service -- launched earlier this fall. Also, this week, seniors will start receiving their new SEPTA Key photo identification cards in the mail.
SEPTA has a detailed FAQ and more information about the Travel Wallet and other aspects of the SEPTA Key,
(SEPTA - posted 11/14)
WATCO TO PURCHASE ADDITIONAL BULK TERMINALS FROM KINDER MORGAN:
Watco Companies, LLC (Watco), has reached a definitive agreement with Kinder Morgan Terminals (KMT) to purchase 20 bulk terminal operations in the United States, expanding Watco’s terminal operations footprint to 73 locations. The new locations include 14 locations on the inland waterways, 4 rail/truck terminals, and 2 deep water locations. The locations are focused on the dry and break bulk industries handling a diverse mix of commodities including fertilizer, ferro alloys, salt, coal, and various break-bulk products.
“The Watco Team is excited to continue expanding our waterways presence. We realized tremendous success through the terminals that were acquired in our previous transaction with Kinder Morgan in early 2015 and we expect continued success with these facilities as well,” said Watco’s Senior Vice President of Network Strategy Will Patterson. “We have identified many opportunities to expand our terminal operations and rail presence with these new sites and look forward to further developing operations with our Customers.”
“This group of terminals provides yet another great opportunity to grow with our Customers,” said Watco Chief Operating Officer Dan Smith. “We have continued to evolve and refocus our operations and marketing efforts. We are extremely appreciative of the opportunity to provide a high level of safe and efficient service to Customers at these locations and will work to expand business in these new markets with this abundant new base of assets.”
“We are delighted to enter into this mutually beneficial transaction with Watco. It allows us to monetize non-core assets, representing less than 2% of the segment’s earnings, on attractive terms while giving employees at those terminals an opportunity to work on assets that are core to Watco’s business,” said John Schlosser, Kinder Morgan Terminals president.
In anticipation of the terminal acquisition, a new equity investment was closed on September 30th, 2016, with SkyKnight Capital (SkyKnight). The Crowley Family, who owns and operates Crowley Maritime, are the seed investors behind SkyKnight. Watco expects that Crowley Maritime, one of the largest maritime businesses in the U.S., will be a long-term strategic partner. As part of SkyKnight’s initial investment into Watco, Tom Crowley has joined Watco’s Board of Directors. Watco and SkyKnight anticipate closing a second round of equity with additional equity partners prior to year-end to support Watco’s various Customer growth initiatives.
(WATCO - posted 11/11)
FOUR PRELIMINARY PROPOSALS RECEIVED TO MODERNIZE LIRR LEVEL OF PENN STATION:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) today announced that it has received four design proposals from qualified engineering firms for the modernization of the LIRR’s level in Penn Station as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s sweeping plans to transform Penn Station and the historic James A. Farley Post Office into a world-class transportation hub.
Working with the LIRR, the winning firm will have six months to put the finishing touches on a design-build plan that will allow a general contractor to begin work in 2017.
The MTA and the LIRR will announce the winning design firm before the end of the year.
“This marks another major step in Governor Cuomo's transformational plan to reimagine Penn Station and to change the experience for everyone using Long Island Rail Road,” said MTA Chairman & CEO Thomas F. Prendergast.
The dramatic redesign of the LIRR portions of Penn Station will significantly improve passenger experience and circulation. The plan will include nearly tripling the width of the 33rd Street Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station’s lower level from Seventh to Eighth Avenue. Other improvements will include upgraded lighting and wayfinding and digital screens to convey information and create a modern passenger experience.
The majority of the corridor improvements will be completed simultaneous to the Train Hall’s opening, with other elements completed sooner. Construction of the new LIRR corridor will cost an estimated $170 million. The transformational redesign also includes upgrading the two subway stations at Penn Station. Many of these improvements to subway stations on Seventh and Eighth Avenues are expected as early as 2018.
More than 500,000 visitors pass through Penn Station each day, most as commuters or travelers on the LIRR, New York City Subway, Amtrak, and NJ Transit.
In September, Governor Cuomo outlined his visionary public-private partnership to turn Penn Station into a world class transportation hub, opening up the LIRR complex and turning the Farley Building into a sun-drenched train hall with a balcony of retail stores as an important element in the revitalized complex. The Farley would be topped by a new transparent glass roof, but its classic Beaux-Arts exterior, very much reminiscent of the original Penn Station, would be retained.
The Governor also announced the selection of a developer-builder team including three companies, Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska AB to redevelop the Farley Building, creating a new 255,000 square foot Train Hall to house passenger facilities for the Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak. The entire project would be completed by December 2020. (MTA - posted 11/10)
CP SEEKS CHANGES TO MAXIMUM WORK HOURS FOR LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS AND CONDUCTORS:
Canadian Pacific has provided notice to the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) that it will be seeking changes by Transport Canada that would reduce by a third the maximum permissible hours that its Canadian-based running trades employees can spend at the controls of a train. This effort further highlights CP's leadership role in addressing issues of work, rest and time off.
The letter sent to the TCRC and copied to Transport Canada is available at www.workrestandtimeoff.ca/what-are-we-doing/.
CP applied the principles of fatigue science during the formulation of the proposed rules, which would see Canadian-based employees move away from the currently outdated rule that allows locomotive engineers and conductors to operate a train for up to 18 hours at their discretion. The new rules would allow unassigned train and engine employees to operate for a maximum of 12 hours before getting rest.
"We are committed to the health of our employees and our operations," said CP President and Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel. "We are requesting a one-third reduction in the maximum operating time of unassigned train and engine employees. As we are unable to get the TCRC leadership to the table to have meaningful discussions on this topic, we must find alternate ways to improve the work/life balance of our employees while enhancing safety across our network."
CP has commenced the required consultation period in which TCRC-Train & Engine (TCRC-T&E) leadership has until January 7, 2017 to comment. After they have provided comment, CP will respond and file the proposed rule change with Transport Canada. Transport Canada will then have another 60 days to review and either approve, conditionally approve, or reject the new rules. A decision is expected by the spring of 2017.
"Reducing the amount of time a running-trades employee could operate a train would be a first for a Canadian railway," Creel said. "If the TCRC really believes in improving the working conditions of its members and addressing so-called fatigue issues, then I would expect them to endorse enthusiastically what we have put on the table. This is the right thing to do."
You can learn more about CP's labour relations story at
, a new website that outlines communications CP has had with the TCRC-T&E leadership and models CP has presented. The website also dispels the many myths and outdated perceptions concerning work and time off for train crews at CP. CP encourages regulators, government officials, employees and their families to visit the site. CP will, at any time, discuss the facts around work and rest with the Transportation Safety Board, Transport Canada and the TCRC and is happy to do so in a public forum.
(CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/10)
NARP REPORTS ELECTION 2016- WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR TRANSPORTATION:
National Association of Railroad Passengers reports:
Following a contentious election, American voters have given control of congress to the Republican Party, which has taken the White House and retained control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Given the disparity between Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposals and the 2016 Republican Party Platform, there is a lot of work NARP staff will need to do to map out a strategic plan for securing passenger-friendly policy in the 115th Congress.
However, even at this early date, we are able to report on some transportation-specific developments that came out of last night’s results.
Transit On the Ballot
Regardless of your party affiliations, yesterday was a great day for transportation funding measures. The American Public Transportation Association reports that Americans approved 33 of 48 local and statewide public transit measures. All together, those 48 ballot measures represented roughly $200 billion in public investment in transit.
Some of the big winners include:
You can find a full list of transportation ballots at the
Eno Center for Transportation
- Bay Area voters approved $3.5 billion for the BART commuter rail system.
- Los Angeles County voters green passed a sales tax to help LA Metro fund its $120 billion mobility plan, which includes expansion of the rail system.
- Washington: Seattle voters approved a $54 billion transit package to fund light rail, bus rapid transit and commuter train service.
- Colorado: Pueblo County voters approved Measure 1A, part of which will fund work to continue and extend Amtrak’s Southwest Chief service.
- Virginia: Voters in Arlington and Fairfax approved $58.8 million and $120 million, respectively, in bond measures to upgrade Metro.
- Maryland: Prince George’s County voters approved bond measure that will help fund the Purple Line light-rail project.
- Georgia: Atlanta voters approved a half-penny increase for the MARTA commuter rail service.
(National Association of Railroad Passengers, Alex Mayes - posted 11/09)
President-Elect Trump’s Infrastructure Proposal:
Trump’s campaign promised a trillion infrastructure plan that will rely heavily on private funding, incentivized by an investment tax credit. Trump officials argue this would largely be revenue neutral, with tax credits offset by the additional tax revenue from the companies and workers participating in building these projects. The bad news for passenger rail and transit? This funding structure works best for projects like toll roads and airports.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has also proposed paying for a big infrastructure push by eliminating entitlement programs, such as block grants to Medicaid and food stamps.
The Trump campaign is indicating that it will move an infrastructure proposal within the first 100 days of his presidency.
AAR PRESIDENT AND CEO STATEMENT ON 2016 ELECTION RESULTS:
Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), today issued the following statement in light of the 2016 federal election results:
“A highly contested election season is behind us and leaders in Washington, D.C. will now shift their focus to policymaking. American industry, including the freight rail sector, is eager to work with a new administration and Congress, helping advance policies that will spur economic growth, support quality jobs and further cement the United States as a global leader.”
(AAR - posted 11/09)
On the Presidential:
“Congratulations to Donald Trump and his entire campaign team. As a business leader, Mr. Trump understands many of the economic challenges facing this country. As such, we hope he will move quickly on issues such as comprehensive tax reform that reduces the corporate rate, a review and reform of the broken regulatory system and an embracement of fair and open trade. These policies, as well as the steady presence of America’s privately owned freight rail network, are critical to enacting much of Mr. Trump’s agenda, including public infrastructure investment.”
On the Senate:
“Leaders of both parties in Congress, particularly the Senate Commerce Committee, have long recognized the value and impact of our private freight rail network. We look forward to continued dialogue on our most important issues - including stopping unfounded regulatory efforts at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board - and are eager to begin a new legislative session.
HUDSON TUNNEL PROJECT OPEN HOUSE:
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and NJ TRANSIT invites the public to learn more about their recommendation for the Hudson Tunnel Project at the public meeting in New Jersey tomorrow, Nov. 10, 2016. During the meeting, the public will be able to learn more about the recommendation (Preferred Alternative) and the Environmental Impact Statement for the project. The Preferred Alternative for the Hudson Tunnel Project recommends construction of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and rehabilitation of the existing tunnel.
The Preferred Alternative identifies a specific route that includes two new tracks extending from the Northeast Corridor in Secaucus, N.J., continuing in a tunnel beneath the Palisades, and beneath the Hudson River. From there, it will connect to the existing approach tracks that lead into New York’s Penn Station. The recommendation also includes the rehabilitation of the existing North River Tunnel once the new tunnel is complete.
The new tunnel would be constructed first so that upon completion trains could be diverted from the existing tunnel to allow its rehabilitation. When the rehabilitation is complete, both the existing and new tunnels would be in service, providing redundant capability and increased operational flexibility for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, November 10, at Secaucus Junction Rail Station, at 4 p.m. EST. It will be at the station's upper level long hallway.
This is an opportunity for the public and stakeholders to learn and ask questions about the project developments and the Preferred Alternative. No formal presentations will be given.
For more information, please visit
(FRA - posted 11/09)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 5, 2016
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 5, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 543,377 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending November 5 were 271,262 carloads, down 0.4 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 272,115 containers and trailers, up 1.7 percent compared to 2015.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included grain, up 22 percent to 28,655 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 3.8 percent to 36,572 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 2.9 percent to 18,403 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 16.3 percent to 10,877 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, down 10.8 percent to 8,812 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 9.7 percent to 18,575 carloads.
For the first 44 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,075,472 carloads, down 9.8 percent from the same point last year; and 11,431,547 intermodal units, down 2.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 44 weeks of 2016 was 22,507,019 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 6.4 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending November 5, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 367,974 carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 340,974 intermodal units, up 0.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 708,948 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 44 weeks of 2016 was 29,461,164 carloads and intermodal units, down 6 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 81,260 carloads for the week, up 5.7 percent, and 57,839 intermodal units, down 3.3 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 44 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,767,277 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4.9 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,452 carloads for the week, up 8.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,020 intermodal units, up 4.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 44 weeks of 2016 was 1,186,868 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.1 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 11/09)
NJ TRANSIT ELECTRONIC TICKETING SETS NEW SALES RECORDS
NJ TRANSIT’s customers are downloading their way to electronic ticketing in record setting numbers. During the month of October, the digital system known as MyTix shattered its record for most tickets and passes sold in one month, and in doing so, crossed the one million mark for the first time. In addition, November 1st set a single day sales record.
“The ease and convenience of purchasing tickets and passes right from a smartphone continues to become more popular with our customers each month, making NJ TRANSIT a national leader in this new technology” said Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “As we reach these milestones, we continue to look for new ways to add additional functionality to the MyTix program and lead from the front on this digital platform.”
During the month of October 2016, more than one million tickets and passes were purchased through the MyTix feature, surpassing the previous monthly record of more than 990-thousand set in August 2016. As a comparison, January 2016 saw monthly sales of 690-thousand tickets and passes. Year to date MyTix sales have grown 46 percent.
On November 1, 2016, MyTix set a single day sales record with more than 71-thousand tickets and passes sold, breaking the previous single day record of more than 65-thousand set on August 1, 2016.
(NJT - posted 11/09)
SEPTA, TWU LOCAL 234 ANNOUNCE TENTATIVE FIVE YEAR CONTRACT:
SEPTA and TWU Local 234 have announced a tentative five-year contract that will bring 4,700-plus employees back to work and end a six-day strike that shut down the City Transit Division. Service will be phased-back in today on the Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line subway, city buses and trolleys, with full schedules restored by the start of the service day on Tuesday.
"We believe this agreement is fair to our employees, and to the fare-paying customers and taxpayers who fund SEPTA," said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. "It provides for wage increases, pension improvements, and maintains health care coverage levels while addressing rising costs."
City Transit Division service has been shut down since the start of the TWU Local 234 strike at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1.
"We know that the strike has caused a significant hardship for thousands of our riders. We sincerely regret this disruption to transportation throughout the City of Philadelphia and the region," Deon said. "We thank riders for their patience under these extremely challenging circumstances. Negotiators on both sides worked tirelessly to get this agreement done, and we now look forward to the return of normal service."
The tentative contract agreement will now go before TWU Local 234 members for a ratification vote, and to the SEPTA Board for approval.
"SEPTA would like to thank Gov. Wolf, his appointee to the SEPTA Board, Pa. Rep. Dwight Evans, Mayor Kenney, and other elected officials who played a role in keeping SEPTA and the union at the bargaining table," Deon said. "We would also like to thank SEPTA employees for their hard work in very difficult circumstances, particularly the negotiating team that has been working around the clock to get this agreement done."
(SEPTA - posted 11/08)
CSX NAMES MICHAEL RUTHERFORD VIDE PRESIDENT-INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS:
CSX Executive Vice President and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson today announced the promotion of Michael Rutherford to Vice President-Industrial Products, effective immediately. In this role, Rutherford will lead all sales and marketing activities for the recently-expanded industrial products portfolio which includes housing and construction materials, forest products, metals, minerals, military equipment and machinery.
“Michael brings more than 17 years of cutting-edge sales and marketing experience to his new role, including 8 years in a variety of business-critical positions at CSX,” Eliasson said. “During that time, he has earned a reputation as an effective communicator and strategic thinker who drives bottom-line results by advancing our market intelligence efforts and driving customer service improvements.”
Prior to his current role, Rutherford served as Assistant Vice President-Industrial Products, after serving as director of CSX’s “Voice of the Customer” customer insights team and director of marketing in which he helped launch the UMAX interline container program. Prior to joining CSX, Rutherford served at major consumer products companies Adidas and Johnson & Johnson before being named CSX director of strategic planning in 2008. Rutherford holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Georgetown University and an MBA in International Business from SDA Bocconi University.
(CSX - posted 11/08)
SHAREHOLDERS APPROVED P&W ACQUISITION:
On October 26 shareholders of Providence and Worcester Railroad Company approved the proposed acquisition of PWRR by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (“G&W”) (NYSE:GWR) pursuant to the previously disclosed Merger Agreement, dated as of August 12, 2016 (the “Merger Agreement”) at its special meeting of shareholders.
Subject to the terms of the Merger Agreement, PWRR will merge with Pullman Acquisition Sub Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of G&W, with PWRR surviving the merger and becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of G&W. Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, at the effective time of the merger, (i) each outstanding share of the $50.00 par value preferred stock of PWRR will be deemed to be converted, along with the aggregate accrued or accumulated and unpaid dividends thereon, into 100 shares of the $0.50 par value common stock of PWRR (based on the existing conversion ratio of the preferred stock), and (ii) each outstanding share of common stock (including common stock into which the preferred stock has been deemed converted) shall be converted into and exchanged for the right to receive cash in the amount of $25.00 per share of common stock.
PWRR shareholders also approved an advisory proposal regarding the compensation that may be paid or become payable to PWRR’s named executive officers in connection with the merger.
Following the special meeting of PWRR shareholders, Robert H. Eder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of PWRR, said “We are very grateful to our shareholders for their overwhelming support of this transaction. With today’s vote, we move one step closer to completing the transaction with Genesee & Wyoming, to the benefit of our shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities we serve.”
The merger was scheduled to close on or around November 1, 2016, subject to the satisfaction of the remaining customary closing conditions.
(Reading & Northern Railroad - posted 11/08)
CP REPORTS BEST-EVER MONTH OF GRAIN MOVEMENT TO VANCOUVER:
Canadian Pacific (CP) (CP) announced that, despite a weather-delayed harvest, October was its best-ever month for Western Canadian grain movement to Vancouver and stands ready to work with its supply chain partners through the 2016/17 season to transport a bumper crop to world markets.
A record 15,865 carloads were moved to West Coast ports in October, besting the previous record of 15,449 carloads in March 2016. Total Western Canadian grain movements in the month climbed 3.9 percent over last year, just off the record set in May 2014.
(CP- posted 11/07)
READING & NORTHERN RAILROAD ON THE MOVE:
The Reading & Northern Railroad is growing and growing fast.
Despite a soft market for anthracite coal, Reading & Northern's freight traffic has grown over our recordsetting 2015 base. Our merchandise traffic (non-coal) traffic to our customers is up almost 15 percent! Our passenger excursion business, which saw a record 100,000 visitors in 2015, is also running 15 percent ahead of last year's pace.
In order to handle all of this traffic growth Reading & Northern has embarked on a significant program of capital expenditures and hiring.
In the last 60 days, Reading & Northern added six locomotives to our fleet bringing the total active locomotives to 36. We acquired four EMD MP15 locomotives at a Norfolk Southern auction. These locomotives are 1500 horsepower four axle locomotives and will be immediately used in freight service. This is the first of these type to be added to the roster. We also added two additional EMD GP39RNs. These locomotives are 2500 horsepower four axle locomotives, which brings our total of this type of locomotive to six. These locomotives will primarily be used in passenger excursion service
To handle what we anticipate will be future growth in our anthracite business Reading & Northern just closed on a deal to purchase 156 used steel open-top hopper cars. This acquisition brings our total car fleet to 1179 cars, Our fleet includes open-top and covered hoppers, flat cars, box cars and gondalas.
Our Maintenance of Way forces have been extremely busy upgrading our railroad to handle more traffic at higher speeds. In addition, our forces have recently completed major track projects at two new Reading & Northern freight customers, which we anticipate will lead to growth in excess of 1000 cars a year. This is in addition to a track project for another customer earlier in 2016. Our MOW forces have also been hard at work on our accelerated track maintenance program by installing 15,000 ties, 10,000 feet of new rail, constructing 10,000 feet of new sidings, and surfacing 89 miles of track.
In order to improve safety, expedite the movement of traffic, and handle increased train frequency, we have installed an additional 15 miles of signal system of previously un-signaled territory including a remotely controlled switch at a heavily used junction. These upgrades are only the start of an extensive upgrade to reinstall over 100 miles of a Centralized Traffic Control signal system remotely controlled from our Port Clinton dispatch center at an estimated cost of over 10 million dollars.
Last, but certainly not least, we have hired over 20 full-time freight railroad employees to assist us in handling all of our traffic. During this decade of growth Reading & Northern has doubled its
workforce. And we continue to retain our valued employees and attract new hires by offering excellent pay, starting pay after probation is minimum of $20/hour along with the best benefits offered in the industry.
Reading & Northern is proud of its commitment to its customers. No other freight railroad guarantees customers two-hour service windows. Reading & Northern has met that guarantee over 99 percent of the time in 2016. We also offer our customers additional switches on request and industry-low ancillary charges.
Our commitment to our customers is the reason for our success. And our willingness to spend money on equipment, track and people to ensure excellent service helps us make sure that we meet or exceed all of our customers' expectations.
)Reading & Northern Railroad - posted 11/07)
NEW YORK & ATLANTIC RAILWAY APPOINTS NEW PRESIDENT:
James P. Bonner, currently vice president of New York & Atlantic Railway Company (www.anacostia.com/railroads/nya), has been named president, effective November 4, 2016. At the same time, Marlon B. Taylor is promoted from assistant vice president to vice president of the NYA.
Mr. Bonner succeeds Paul M. Victor who becomes managing director at Anacostia Rail Holdings Company, NYA's parent company.
Mr. Bonner has more than 19 years of experience in the rail industry. He joined NYA as director of sales and marketing in 2013. In 2015, he was promoted to vice president. Previously, he had been general manager for Connecticut Southern Railroad in Hartford, Connecticut, a Genesee & Wyoming property. Prior to that assignment, he was assistant general manager of Otter Tail Valley Railroad, Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Mr. Bonner previously held various posts with RailAmerica, California Northern Railroad and Kyle Railroad. Mr. Bonner has a degree in business/computer science from Northwest Kansas Technical College.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to lead New York & Atlantic Railway," said Mr. Bonner. "I look forward to building on the railroad's past successes and achievements. Our mission is to continue to lead NYA to new heights in both safety and customer service."
Mr. Taylor joined NYA in April 2016 from Pacific Harbor Line, Inc. (PHL), an Anacostia affiliate. He has 17 years of rail experience. Starting as an engineer/conductor for PHL, Mr. Taylor subsequently worked as train dispatcher, trainmaster and chief dispatcher, advancing to director of operations prior to joining NYA. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from DeVry University. He also graduated from the Executive Program at UCLA's Anderson School of Management and the Railway Management Program at Michigan State University's Eli Broad College of Business.
Mr. Victor's railroad career spans 49 years, most recently as president of the NYA since 2007. He previously managed railroads in Latin America and Africa. In 1989, he directed the first major privatization of freight service in Argentina and subsequently directed the first privatization of rail commuter service in Buenos Aires. He was one of the founders of Iowa Interstate Railroad and previously directed operational planning for the Illinois Central Railroad (now CN). He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Master of Science degree from Roosevelt University.
Peter Gilbertson, president of Anacostia Rail Holdings, said, "We are gratified that James Bonner and Marlon Taylor will be taking the senior leadership roles at New York & Atlantic Railway. Their experience and safety-focused leadership will add great value. We appreciate what Paul Victor has accomplished at NYA and are pleased that he will continue to make senior-level contributions to Anacostia."
(Anacostia Pacific, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/04)
ONBOARD WI-FI NOW 6 TIMES FASTER ON ACELA EXPRESS:
Amtrak Acela Express customers can now enjoy vastly improved Wi-Fi service through AmtrakConnect, with increased bandwidth and speeds up to six times faster providing improved, more reliable onboard connectivity at no extra charge.
The newly-implemented Wi-Fi solution involves the replacement of six-year-old technology that has been in service since 2010. The upgraded technology allows Amtrak to incorporate higher-speed train-to-ground backhaul technologies, laying the foundation for further enhancements to the onboard customer experience.
“This advanced technology solution shifts our onboard Wi-Fi experience into high gear, providing our Acela Express customers with a more satisfying and productive experience throughout their journey,” said Lenetta McCampbell, Senior Director of Passenger Experience at Amtrak. “After thorough testing, we are confident this upgrade will provide a significantly improved service from the moment our customers board the train to the moment they arrive at their destination.”
This improvement represents the first phase of Amtrak’s multi-year program aimed at providing a next-generation Wi-Fi experience for our customers. With installation of the new onboard Wi-Fi solution complete on Acela Express trains, Amtrak is now working to implement the upgrades on the remainder of the Northeast Corridor fleet, including all Northeast Regional trains.
The second phase involves continued construction of Amtrak’s dedicated trackside wireless network, which could ultimately stretch from Washington, D.C. to Boston and would reduce reliance on cellular-based networks.
“Experience has shown that our customers will continue to place a significant and growing demand on high-bandwidth onboard Wi-Fi service,” McCampbell said. “These innovative solutions highlight our continued commitment to delivering the very best Wi-Fi service in terms of capacity, performance and operational reliability.”
Earlier this year, Amtrak expanded the availability of its Wi-Fi service, AmtrakConnectSM , to several eastern long-distance trains including the Cardinal, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited and Silver Service as well as the Auto Train last fall.
Currently, about 90 percent of Amtrak’s customers (or 28 million customers) have access to free onboard Wi-Fi across Amtrak’s national network. To see a full list of wireless-enabled train routes and stations across the Amtrak national network, please visit:
(Amtrak - posted 11/03)
FULL MICHIGAN AMTRAK SERVICE RESTORED:
Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) have competed this year’s construction season for Wolverine Service trains. Customers can again book travel with three complete round-trips daily, plus additional service on select days around the Thanksgiving holiday.
This continues the improvement of state-owned railroad infrastructure as part of Michigan’s Accelerated Rail Program and will result in improved reliability and a smoother ride for customers, along with an expansion of the Midwest’s first 110 mph Amtrak service.
MDOT contractors, including Amtrak, completed a busy construction season in Calhoun and Jackson counties on 41 miles of track. This included replacing 26,000 railroad ties, repairing or installing 15 track switches, realigning or modifying 29 railroad curves, repairing 23 railroad grade crossings and improving road profiles at crossings. Amtrak also continued to improve the signal system controlling rail traffic on MDOT’s rail segment east of Kalamazoo.
(Amtrak - posted 11/03)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR OCTOBER AND WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 29, 2016:
Carload traffic in October totaled 1,066,994 carloads, down 5.1 percent or 57,800 carloads from October 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,075,820 containers and trailers in October 2016, down 1.2 percent or 13,096 units from the same month last year. For October 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,142,814, down 3.2 percent or 70,896 carloads and intermodal units from October 2015.
In October 2016, four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with October 2015. These included: grain, up 6 percent or 6,014 carloads; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 9.9 percent or 1,349 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 2.2 percent or 535 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in October 2016 from October 2015 included: coal, down 7.6 percent or 29,621 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 24 percent or 12,849 carloads; and chemicals, down 3.1 percent or 3,660 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were down 3.8 percent or 28,179 carloads in October 2016 from October 2015.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2016 was 10,804,210 carloads, down 10 percent or 1,200,705 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 11,159,432 units, down 3 percent or 346,715 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2015. For the first ten months of 2016, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 21,963,642 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.6 percent or 1,547,420 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.
"Railroads continue to face a difficult macroeconomic environment that's negatively impacting their traffic volume," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Grain is doing well and autos are hanging on, but many other commodity categories that depend on a vibrant industrial sector — things like steel, petroleum products, and crushed stone — are not doing as well as railroads would like. Hopefully that changes in the months ahead."
Week Ending October 29, 2016
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending October 29, 2016 was 544,997 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 29 were 271,576 carloads, down 2.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 273,421 containers and trailers, up 1.3 percent compared to 2015.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 29, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 369,829 carloads, down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 346,268 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 716,097 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 43 weeks of 2016 was 28,752,216 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.1 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 82,037 carloads for the week, up 4.9 percent, and 60,892 intermodal units, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 43 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,628,178 carloads, containers and trailers, down 5.0 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,216 carloads for the week, up 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,955 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 43 weeks of 2016 was 1,160,396 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.2 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 11/03)
CP DISAPPOINTED BY CANADA TSB CHAIR'S STATEMENTS:
Canadian Pacific is disappointed in the Transportation Safety Board's (TSB) misguided comments on the topic of fatigue in the railway industry, which do little to enhance industry safety or improve the quality of life for conductors and engineers.
While CP welcomes the focus on safety and looks forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to improve rail safety, these discussions must be fact based. TSB Chairwoman Kathy Fox noted in an October 31 media conference that 6 percent of human-caused rail incidents may have involved fatigue – a statement not supported by facts.
"We would welcome the chance to meet with the Chairwoman and Transport Canada to provide the context and detail necessary to dispel any misconceptions that continue to distort conversations over this crucial issue, and to lend our support in implementing important change," said CP President and Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel. "It is well past time we moved the discussion of work, rest and time-off choices for locomotive engineers and conductors beyond emotional and deceptive rhetoric into the arena of fact. CP will, at any time, discuss the facts around work and rest with the TSB, Transport Canada and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) leadership and we are happy to do so in a public forum."
Contrary to claims by the TCRC and others, CP has fought hard to put the issue of predictable scheduling and better work/life balance for locomotive engineers and conductors on the negotiation table, but has been thwarted at every turn. CP continues to take a leadership position in moving employees to a new, better scheduling model, including requesting regulatory change from Transport Canada to move away from the current and outdated regulation that allows engineers and conductors, at their discretion, to work up to 18 hours within a 24 hour period.
"This is an issue of choice: choice for our engineers and conductors; choice for their union leadership; and choice for Transport Canada, who can help bring about meaningful change for the benefit of public safety and hardworking railroaders," Creel said. "It is easy for both the TSB and TCRC to highlight problems, but we remain focussed on meaningful solutions and meaningful change."
The fact is Canada's rail industry operates in a highly regulated environment in which CP must comply with the Railway Safety Act and the regulations, safety rules and the oversight of Transport Canada inspectors. Railroads must also operate within the parameters of collective labour agreements.
During labour negotiations with the TCRC, CP sought predictable work and mandatory time-off schedules for train crews. This proposal was rejected by the union, who demanded optional time-off schedules again at the individual employees' discretion, and then led employees to a strike in 2015. In 2015, 93 percent of CP's train crews worked fewer than 10 hours; the majority worked fewer than eight hours.
In 2015, forty percent of the time train crews elected not to take the maximum time off available to them between trips. There are at least 12 ways an employee can elect to take time off from work. To name a few, train crews can take 24 hours off at their home terminal after every round trip, take Earned Days Off, book personal leave and book up to 48-hours rest after specified mileages are attained. If employees are fatigued they can report themselves as unfit prior to taking a call for work.
CP is so committed to ensuring our conductors and engineers get the rest they need that the company recently went to arbitration as a result of our implementing mandatory rest after each run.
Since the beginning of this year CP has been asking the TCRC to meet on the topic of employing a better, more predictable schedule.
CP has also been a vocal proponent of on-board voice and video technology, which can help identify and address behaviours that indicate fatigue, but there are regulatory and legal barriers within the TSB Act that prohibit proactive use of the data for safety purposes. Studies have been done, but no change has been made to the regulatory framework. Both the TCRC and TSB could be instrumental in pushing this safety-enhancing technology forward.
"It is time to move beyond rhetoric and focus on solutions," Creel said. "We are optimistic the union's support of the TSB announcement is indicative of a willingness to negotiate more scheduling predictability and improving safety technology for our employees and the public. We look forward to sitting down with them at their earliest convenience. We are prepared to open discussions immediately."
- posted 11/03)
TRAIN EXCURSION OVER FORMER ERIE RAILROAD, FROM HAMBURG TO SOUTH BUFFALO:
Two rare public trips on the former Erie Railroad line from Hamburg to South Buffalo will be offered on Saturday, November 12th and Sunday, November 13th. The four hour excursions into Buffalo’s industrial and transportation past will depart the Village of Hamburg’s historic Erie Railroad Depot (4 Scott Street) at 11am.
These “rare mileage” tours will take passengers from the century old railroad depot in Hamburg to the industrial edge of Blasdell. After passing Lake Avenue and crossing the Norfolk Southern mainline “diamond,” the train will travel deep into the once sprawling railroad yards near Tifft Street in South Buffalo. The train will then reverse direction and head south to Hamburg where passengers will be treated to a scenic view of the north branch of Eighteen Mile Creek at Water Valley.
Passengers will travel in vintage railroad equipment that includes two fully restored, 1930s era passenger cars that once shuttled commuters in New York City. An open air car will be available for those who want to photograph the sights along the way. Motive power for the trip will be two historic ALCO locomotives owned by the Buffalo Southern Railroad.
This history of the railway dates back to the early 1870 when it was constructed by the Buffalo and Jamestown Railroad Company. It later was purchased by the Erie Railroad linking Buffalo to the system’s famed New York to Chicago mainline route. Through various mergers and acquisition, the line was used by the Erie Lackawanna, Penn Central and later Conrail. Currently the right-of-way is owned by Erie County and leased to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency who manages the property. Buffalo Southern Railroad, a locally owned Class III Common Carrier shortline railroad, operates the line.
Seating for these rare trips is limited. Tickets are $35 per seat and may be purchased at Artcraft Toy Trains located inside the Hamburg Railroad Depot during business hours. For information and ticket availability call 716-649-3079 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Passengers are asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure time for parking and boarding.
The trips are being conducted by the Buffalo, Cattaraugus & Jamestown Scenic Railway Company, Inc. The BC&J was founded in 2011 is chartered as a New York State 501c3 not-for-profit corporation. The BC&J’s mission is focused on developing and operating educational steam and diesel-electric passenger train excursions in the Buffalo-Jamestown corridor as a way of promoting Western New York’s industrial, transportation and agrarian heritage
( posted 11/02)
SEPTA STATEMENT ON TWU'S DECISION TO GO ON STRIKE:
In anticipation of the busiest travel period of the year, Amtrak is preparing to accommodate the expected surge of holiday travelers with additional trains and extra seats on several routes in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. Amtrak will operate every available passenger rail car in its fleet but tickets sell out quickly so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book early for best availability and pricing.
On the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak Acela Express and Northeast Regional services will operate full and extended schedules with additional frequencies and added capacity between Washington, D.C. and Boston. In response to customer demand, Amtrak will operate additional trains on both the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22 and 23, as well as the Sunday after, Nov. 27. Amtrak will also run “Holiday Extra” trains between New York and Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Nov. 27 using equipment leased from our commuter partners. Regular Amtrak booking and ticketing procedures apply.
With the friendliest baggage policy in the travel industry, free Wi-Fi for 90% of Amtrak travelers, no “middle seats” and a nationwide network serving over 500 destinations, customers throughout the country find Amtrak to be the smarter way to travel to be with family and friends for the holidays.
“In the past decade, demand for passenger rail service during the Thanksgiving holiday period has grown steadily,” said Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman. “We continue to focus on providing innovative and convenient travel options for our customers, and the Thanksgiving travel period is a great opportunity to put our best foot forward. Across our nationwide network, Amtrak employees are gearing up to provide the kind of superior service our customers deserve as they travel to connect with friends and family for the holiday.”
In the Midwest, extra trains will operate between Chicago and downstate Illinois and Michigan. At Chicago Union Station, Sleeping Car and Business Class customers as well as top tier Amtrak Guest Rewards members can enjoy the new Metropolitan Lounge and pre-board their trains. Coach customers can purchase a pass to the Legacy Club to access similar amenities and priority boarding.
On the West Coast, Amtrak is adding capacity to several services including Capitol Corridor (Auburn-San Jose) and San Joaquins (Oakland/Sacramento – Bakersfield), as well as additional seating on Pacific Surfliner (Los Angeles-San Diego), including an extra round trip between Los Angeles and San Diego that begins operating Nov. 7. During the holiday, Pacific Surfliner service will require reservations. In the Pacific Northwest, Amtrak is adding two additional round trips between Seattle and Portland on the Amtrak Cascades service.
In 2015, more than 751,000 customers traveled to and from holiday gatherings by way of America’s Railroad® and similar demand is expected this year.
(Amtrak - posted 11/02)
AMTRAK PREPARING FOR THANKSGIVING RUSH WITH EXPANDED SCHEDULES, MORE SEATS:
SEPTA negotiators have worked tirelessly for months in an effort to reach a fair contract agreement with TWU Local 234 and avoid a service disruption. Unfortunately, the union's leaders tonight elected to take the 4,700-plus members who work in the City Transit Division out on strike.
The decision by TWU President Willie Brown leaves thousands of SEPTA customers without the transit services they rely on for travel to-and-from work, school and medical appointments. In doing so, Mr. Brown walked away from a contract offer that would have provided his members pay raises, enhanced pension benefits, maintained health care coverage levels and continued job security, while also remaining fair and affordable for the taxpayers and riders who fund SEPTA.
SEPTA negotiators stand ready and willing to continue bargaining, and the Authority urges Mr. Brown and TWU leadership to return to the bargaining table to negotiate an agreement that will end a severely disruptive work stoppage.
We are hopeful that a tentative agreement will be reached beforeElection Day. If we foresee an agreement will not come to pass, SEPTA intends to seek to enjoin the strike for November 8th to ensure that the strike does not prevent any voters from getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote.(SEPTA - posted 11/01)
CSX PHILLY SUB TRAINS COLLIDE HEAD-ON:
Two CSX freight trains collided head on, along the Philadelphia Subdivision in East Feltonville, Pa. Train Q193-26 (Valleyfield. Quebec to Atlanta intermodal train) collied with train
V753-27 (Richmond, Va. to Pavonia Yard empties). Reports are that the Q193 was to hold at East Feltonville for the V753 to cross over. However, for unkown reasons the Q193 was unable to stop in time, colliding into the
V753. The V753 crew suffered minor injuries while the Q193 crew was okay. CSX AC6000CW 5000 (Diversity in Motion) was leading the Q193 while GP40-2 4402 was on the point of the V753. Both locomotives suffered damage.
The cause of the crash in under investigation.
(Randy Kotuby - posted 10/28)
MBTA FAIRMOUNT/FRANKLIN COMMUTER RAIL LINE WORK:
Construction work begins next weekend, Nov. 4-6 and the following weekend, to replace the Shore Line Bridge along the Fairmount/Franklin Commuter Rail Line, resulting in temporarily altered service for travelers.
The bridge, located in the Readville section of Hyde Park providing service to Franklin, is over the Amtrak Northeast corridor which provides service to Providence station. Bridge replacement work will take place over the weekend of November 4-6, and November 11-13.
At about 11 p.m. on Thursday, November 3, the Fairmount upper Station and the bridge will be taken out of service. The Franklin Branch will be taken out of service around 9:00 p.m. on Friday, November 4. Shuttle service will be provided from Friday night, November 4, through Sunday, November 6, with commuter rail service resuming on Monday, November 7, at 4:00 a.m.
The contractor will be working around the clock starting Thursday, November 3, at 11:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m., Monday, November 7, to demolish the existing bridge and put in place the proposed new bridge. The existing bridge will be removed Friday night into Saturday morning and the new bridge will be placed Saturday night into Sunday morning.
The following weekend, the Franklin Line will again be taken out of service around 9:00 p.m. so that the contractor can perform work on the east approach slab and bring the bridge work to completion. A bus bridge and shuttle service will be provided, with service resuming on Sunday, November 13, at 4:00 p.m.
(MBTA - posted 10/28)
NJ TRANSIT DEPLOYS SECOND AQUATRACK UNIT FOR LEAF CLEANING:
NJ TRANSIT is stepping up its annual battle against Mother Nature and fallen leaves on the rails. Based on the success of its original leaf-clearing unit, NJ TRANSIT is deploying a second AquaTrack machine throughout the fall season.
The equipment is a high-pressure power-washing system which removes leaves and oily residue from the tracks in an effort to prevent train delays caused by “slippery rail” conditions.
The second AquaTrack unit will allow the cleaning process to maintain a larger coverage area in helping to prevent delays.
“While there is no way to completely eliminate the effect Mother Nature has on the railroad, the AquaTrack unit has had great success in prior years when it comes to managing leaf-related slippage on our rails,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steve Santoro. “By utilizing these two highly specialized pieces of equipment, we can keep the rails free and clear of fallen leaves, which increases safety and keep trains running on time.”
Fallen leaves left on rail tracks can cause a condition known as “slippery rail” – a challenge facing all railroads in the Northeast and other parts of the world where deciduous trees are prevalent. The decaying leaves create an oily residue that coats the rails and causes poor traction. The decreased train speeds, in turn, create delays.
The AquaTrack system has been in use by NJ TRANSIT since October 2003. It consists of two 250-horsepower diesel-engine units mounted on a flat car with an operator control cab. Two pressure-pump units dispense water up to 20,000 pounds-per-square-inch directly to the top of the rail. The process uses 17 gallons of water per minute.
Traditionally, the original AquaTrack operated primarily on the M&E and Montclair-Boonton lines, which are particularly challenged including the hilly areas around Glen Ridge and Summit stations, washing the rails twice a day Monday through Friday—once overnight and again during midday hours. On weekends, the Pascack Valley and Main/Bergen County lines are usually covered. The addition of a second unit will add cleaning on the Raritan Valley and North Jersey Coast Lines.
In addition to AquaTrack, NJ TRANSIT also strategically spreads sand on the rails in front of peak-period trains to increase traction. NJ TRANSIT also trims trees to help stem the amount of leaves on the tracks. The leaf clearing operation runs from mid-October through mid-December.
(NJ Transit - posted 10/28)
POSSIBLE SEPTA TRANSIT STRIKE LOOMING:
The current contract between SEPTA and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234 expires at 12 midnight on Monday, Oct. 31. Negotiations are ongoing, with the goal of reaching a new agreement that will avert a disruption to City Transit Division bus, trolley, Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line services.
SEPTA, however, also wants customers to be prepared for the possibility of a work stoppage that could coincide with the start of the service day on Tuesday, Nov. 1. With that in mind, SEPTA has posted a Service Interruption Guide online at
, and staff are preparing to assist customers who would be impacted.
Some customers may be able to use Regional Rail if city transit services are disrupted - however, with Regional Rail already operating at or near capacity, options are limited. SEPTA will look at service adjustments, such as adding some trips and having Express trains make extra stops.
The biggest impact would likely be felt during the morning and evening commutes. Wherever possible, SEPTA strongly encourages businesses and individuals to adjust work hours or institute flexible schedules.
SEPTA would also like to alert customers to changes they would encounter at Center City Regional Rail stations during evening travel hours, from 2:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. At Temple, Jefferson, Suburban, 30th Street and University City stations, customers have to wait in line at the concourse level, to ensure safety and avoid overcrowding on platforms.
All prepaid fares would be collected prior to boarding, and all passes would be subject to inspection and validation by SEPTA fare collection staff. Customers without a prepaid fare will have to purchase a ticket or pass from a station sales window before they get in line for their trip home - SEPTA fare collection staff cannot accept cash.
SEPTA Ambassadors - including employees from all departments - would be dispatched to stations to provide assistance and information to customers.
Customers are urged to continue to check
Brochures with alternate service information are also now available at stations, and customer service representatives can be reached at (215) 580-7800.
(SEPTA - posted 10/27)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 22, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 22, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 544,092 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 22 were 268,551 carloads, down 5.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 275,541 containers and trailers, up 2.6 percent compared to 2015.
Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 16.5 percent to 10,852 carloads; grain, up 4.6 percent to 26,442 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 0.1 percent to 37,324 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 24.4 percent to 10,037 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 12.3 percent to 19,115 carloads; and coal, down 10.5 percent to 90,272 carloads.
For the first 42 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,532,634 carloads, down 10.2 percent from the same point last year; and 10,886,011 intermodal units, down 3.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 42 weeks of 2016 was 21,418,645 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 6.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 22, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 361,718 carloads, down 3.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 348,072 intermodal units, up 2.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 709,790 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 42 weeks of 2016 was 28,036,119 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.3 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 78,461 carloads for the week, up 5.5 percent, and 61,137 intermodal units, down 0.2 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 42 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,485,249 carloads, containers and trailers, down 5.2 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 14,706 carloads for the week, down 8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,394 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 42 weeks of 2016 was 1,132,225 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.5 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 10/27)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS THIRD QUARTER RESULTS:
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) today reported financial results for third-quarter 2016. Net income was $460 million, 2 percent higher compared with $452 million during the same period of 2015. Diluted earnings per share were $1.55, 4 percent higher compared with $1.49 per diluted share earned in the third quarter last year.
"Our continued focus on efficiency and asset utilization, balanced with our commitment to customer service, drove an operating ratio of 67.5 percent for the quarter and a record 68.7 percent for the first nine months, setting us well on the way to achieving productivity savings of about $250 million and an operating ratio below 70 percent for the year -- even in the face of economic headwinds," said Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires. "As we move forward, we are well positioned for growth opportunities longer term and confident in our ability to drive shareholder value."
(NS. Randy Kotuby - posted 10/26)
- Railway operating revenues were $2.5 billion, down 7 percent compared with third-quarter 2015, due to reduced volumes and lower fuel surcharge revenues. Overall volume declined 4 percent to 1.9 million units for the quarter.
- General merchandise revenues were $1.6 billion, 4 percent lower than the same period last year. Volume declined 4 percent, due to fewer crude oil, vehicles, pulpboard, and feed market shipments. The five merchandise commodity groups reported the following year-over-year revenue results:
- Chemicals: $408 million, down 10 percent
- Agriculture: $380 million, even
- Metals/Construction: $337 million, up 2 percent
- Automotive: $236 million, down 4 percent
- Paper/Forest: $191 million, down 6 percent
- Intermodal revenues were $575 million, 7 percent lower compared with third-quarter 2015. Volume declined one percent due to lower Triple Crown Services volume, a result of last year's restructuring. Domestic volume, excluding Triple Crown Services, and International volume were up 8 percent and one percent, respectively.
- Coal revenues were $397 million, 18 percent lower compared with the same quarter last year. Above-normal stockpiles and low natural gas prices combined to decrease volume by 15 percent.
- Railway operating expenses declined 10 percent to $1.7 billion, primarily due to targeted expense reduction initiatives, reduced fuel expenses, the absence of last year's restructuring costs, and gains from the disposition of operating property. These decreases were partially offset by higher incentive compensation expense related to improved operating results.
- Income from railway operations was $820 million, flat compared with third-quarter 2015.
- The composite service metric, which measures train performance, terminal operations, and operating plan adherence, improved 8 percent in the quarter, and 14 percent for the first nine months, compared with the same periods last year.
- The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, was 67.5 percent, a 220 basis point improvement compared with 69.7 percent in the third quarter of last year.
NJ TRANSIT TAKES STEP TOWARD PTC COMPLETION FOR 2018 DEADLINE:
NJ TRANSIT continues to advance its implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) in order to meet the 2018 deadline with the lease authorization of radio spectrum. The approval of the lease authorization today by NJ TRANSIT’s Board of Directors allows NJ TRANSIT to execute a lease agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for the last component of radio spectrum needed for NJ TRANSIT’s PTC system.
“This is another milestone in our commitment to upgrading our current safety systems to Positive Train Control by the federal deadline at the end of 2018,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steve Santoro. “We are aggressively tackling the challenges posed as PTC is being designed, developed and deployed simultaneously. Acquiring the needed radio spectrum was one of the larger hurdles which we have now crossed.”
NJ TRANSIT will lease the 218MHz radio frequency spectrum from the MTA for a period of 50-years, at a total cost not to exceed $725,000. The authorization will allow for the acquisition of the needed spectrum for the northern and eastern portions of NJ TRANSIT’s system.
The radio spectrum provides the wireless link which allows information to pass between the rail vehicles and wayside equipment, ensuring that the onboard PTC system is getting the most accurate and up to date safety data. NJ TRANSIT must have its own radio bandwidth or spectrum so transmissions do not overlap or interfere with any others in the region.
In April 2016, NJ TRANSIT’s Board of Directors authorized the purchase of radio frequency spectrum from PTC-220, LLC for the southern, central and western portions of the NJ TRANSIT system.
In addition to acquiring the needed radio frequency spectrum, NJ TRANSIT is also in the process of securing the hardware and software components of the PTC system including thousands of transponders and 124 radio “towers” along 326 route miles in addition to the radios and antenna equipment for 440 locomotives, EMUs and cab cars.
Positive Train Control is a federally mandated train control technology designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into work zone limits and train movements across switches in the wrong position. As part of that requirement, the PTC systems must maintain interoperability between commuter rail, freight and Amtrak trains and their associated wayside components.
(NJT - posted 10/26)
CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS THIRD QUARTER RESULTS:
Luc Jobin, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "With solid execution from our industry-leading operating team and a network-wide focus on providing quality service, CN delivered outstanding results in the third quarter while facing a still sluggish North American and global economy.
"Despite shifting traffic demands, including a delayed Canadian grain harvest, we remained flexible and service-focused. We also continued to reinvest in our business and infrastructure, investments that are driving ongoing safety, service and productivity improvements, while we maintained our commitment to providing the long-term value that helps CN and its customers succeed."
CN is raising its financial outlook and now expects 2016 adjusted diluted EPS to be up approximately one per cent versus last year's adjusted diluted EPS (1) of C$4.44 (2) (compared with its July 25, 2016, financial outlook calling for 2016 adjusted EPS to be in line with last year).
Foreign currency impact on results
Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. The fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar affects the conversion of the Company's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses. On a constant currency basis, (1) CN's net income for the third quarter of 2016 would have been lower by C$2 million, or unchanged per diluted share.
Third-quarter 2016 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses
Revenues for the third quarter of 2016 were C$3,014 million, a decrease of six per cent, when compared to the same period in 2015. Revenues increased for grain and fertilizers (four per cent), automotive (three per cent), and forest products (two per cent), but were more than offset by revenue declines for coal (32 per cent), metals and minerals (20 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (13 per cent), and intermodal (four per cent).
The revenue decline was mainly attributable to lower volumes of crude oil, coal, and frac sand, and lower applicable fuel surcharge rates.
Carloadings for the quarter declined by four per cent to 1,332 thousand.
Revenue ton-miles (RTMs), measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, declined by three per cent from the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per RTM, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, decreased by three per cent over the year-earlier period, mainly driven by an increase in the average length of haul and lower applicable fuel surcharge rates.
Operating expenses for the third quarter decreased by seven per cent to C$1,607 million, mainly due to lower costs resulting from decreased volumes of traffic and cost-management initiatives, and lower pension expense.
(CN, Alex Mayes, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/25)
MARYLAND GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN, CSX CEO MICHAEL WARD CONFIRM COMMITMENT TO HOWARD STREET TUNNEL PROJECT:
Governor Larry Hogan and CSX Transportation Chairman & CEO Michael Ward today met onboard a CSX rail car and rode through the 121-year old Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore. During the ride, both the governor and Chairman Ward reconfirmed their commitments to making necessary infrastructure adjustments to the tunnel to allow for double-stacked container trains to and from the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.
At a media availability following the ride, Governor Hogan announced the state’s intention to reapply for the next round of federal FASTLANE funding to assist with the completion of this project.
“Allowing for double-stacked trains to travel through the Howard Street Tunnel won’t just transform the Port of Baltimore and dramatically increase production – it will create thousands of jobs and benefit the entire state. Our administration is committed to getting it done,” said Governor Hogan. “I thank Chairman Ward and the CSX team for their partnership as we work to secure the necessary funding to accomplish this vital infrastructure project.”
Height restrictions within CSX’s Howard Street Tunnel currently prevent the shipment of double-stacked intermodal containers (two shipping containers stacked on top of each other) by rail to and from the Port of Baltimore. This puts Baltimore at a competitive disadvantage as all other major East Coast ports have double-stack rail capacity.
For years, reconstruction of the Howard Street Tunnel to accommodate double-stack intermodal trains was believed to cost between $1 billion and $3 billion and be highly disruptive to the surrounding community. By utilizing recent advances in construction technology including a technique that involves lowering the floor and notching the crown of the tunnel, CSX and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) have determined it is now possible to provide double-stack clearance in the tunnel and under the nine bridges for $425 million with minimal impact to the community. CSX and the state have committed a combined minimum of $270 million towards this effort and the state is seeking federal funds for the balance of the project cost.
“This transformational critical-infrastructure project will further position the Port and existing Maryland businesses for a bright future, as well as help attract new businesses to the State. Additionally, this project will create jobs while helping to make commutes safer and quicker and improving air quality,” said CSX Chairman & CEO Michael Ward. “CSX is very appreciative of the opportunity to partner with Governor Hogan, his administration and all of this project’s supporters to help accomplish this important objective.”
Earlier this year, MDOT applied to a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) grant program called FASTLANE for federal funding to modify the existing tunnel and associated bridge clearances. The application was denied. As Governor Hogan announced today, the state has committed to reapplying for the next round of FASTLANE funding, which is expected to be announced in the coming months.
With its supersized cranes and deep container berth, the Port of Baltimore is one of only a few East Coast ports that can accommodate the biggest ships in the world. The Port’s next goal is to allow trains carrying containers to be double stacked which would increase port business and maintain and grow jobs. It is estimated this project would create about 500 construction jobs over a five-year period. Following the project completion, it is estimated about 3,000 jobs would be created as a result of increased business through the Port because of double-stacked capabilities. The Port of Baltimore would handle approximately 80,000 additional containers annually.
Combining both the public and private marine terminals, the Port of Baltimore saw 32.4 million tons of international cargo cross its docks last year, which was valued at approximately $51.1 billion. Baltimore is ranked as the top port among all U.S. ports for handling autos and light trucks, farm and construction machinery, imported gypsum, imported sugar, and imported aluminum. Overall Baltimore is ranked ninth for the total dollar value of cargo and 13th for cargo tonnage for all U.S. ports.
Business at the Port of Baltimore generates about 13,650 direct jobs, while more than 127,000 jobs in Maryland are linked to port activities. The Port is responsible for nearly $3 billion in personal wages and salary and $310 million in state and local tax revenues.
(Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Alex Mayes - posted 10/24)
SEPTA CELEBRATES COMPLETION OF CRUM CREEK VIADUCT PROJECT:
SEPTA representatives gathered today with elected officials, community leaders and other dignitaries for a celebration marking the completion of the Crum Creek Viaduct Replacement project, made possible by state Act 89, Pennsylvania's transportation funding bill.
"The completion of the Crum Creek Viaduct Replacement Project is an important milestone for SEPTA," Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. said. "Thanks to dedicated state funding from Act 89, we were able to address a critical need and continue to advance improvements for our customers."
The Crum Creek Viaduct which dated back to 1895 was acquired by SEPTA from Conrail in 1983. Three decades later, the viaduct reached the end of its useful life and required replacement to ensure safe and efficient rail service for nearly 11,000 riders who rely on the Media/Elwyn Line each day.
"Less than three years ago, SEPTA was faced with the possibility of discontinuing Media/Elwyn Line service due to a lack of capital funding to address our critical infrastructure needs along this line," SEPTA General Manager, Jeffrey Knueppel said. "With funding made possible by Act 89, we were able to address critical infrastructure projects on this line, create and support jobs and ensure that this major transportation artery will continue to serve the Delaware County community and the region."
Act 89 was passed in November 2013 to provide a stable source of funding for transportation improvements statewide, such as infrastructure and replacement of aging vehicles. With Act 89 in place, SEPTA has launched dozens of long-needed capital improvement projects throughout the transit system and across all modes of travel.
"Without the added investment from Act 89, it was very likely that this bridge would have had to close and that would have disrupted the lives of many people in this region," said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. "One of Governor Wolf's top agenda items is creating an environment for jobs that pay and PennDOT's financial support for this project meets that goal."
Several other improvements were made along the Media/Elwyn Line with Act 89 funds, including extensive overhauls to the century old Cobbs Creek, Darby Creek and Ridley Creek Viaducts and slope stabilization construction that included rock scaling and installation of retaining walls to secure the railroad embankment at the Media Station. SEPTA forces are replacing the catenary system along the Media/Elwyn Line and modernization upgrades to the Lenni and Morton substations were also completed.
"While the viaduct was being replaced during the eleven week summer outage on the Media/Elwyn Line, SEPTA was able to perform a significant amount of critical infrastructure improvements and system maintenance, thus reducing future inconveniences to our riders," said Robert Lund, SEPTA Assistant General Manager of Engineering, Maintenance and Construction. "The cooperation and understanding of the affected communities, the public, and our riders played a key role in the success of the project."
During the commemoration ceremony, officials unveiled a plaque to commemorate the completion of the project. The sign is prominently mounted on a bridge column above the Crum Creek.
"Critical Infrastructure projects like the Crum Creek Viaduct Project, provide jobs, continue economic growth, and provide safe and efficient rail services on the Media-Elwyn Line," Pennsylvania State Senator Tom McGarrigle, whose district includes this area.
The new Crum Creek Viaduct is a 735-foot long steel and concrete structure comprised of five long spans, four piers and two abutments that replaced 17 simply supported steel spans. New bridge abutments were constructed in front of existing abutments and the new superstructure was slid into alignment halfway through the 11-week replacement project. The new bridge is designed for a 100-year lifespan.
Thomas E. Babcock, Vice Chairman and one of two Delaware County representatives on the SEPTA Board said, "Public transportation is important to the prosperity and economic growth of Delaware County. Completion of the Crum Creek Viaduct Replacement project is a result of our combined efforts to secure dedicated transportation funding."
"Pennsylvania has some of the oldest infrastructure in the country, and it's essential that we work with our local communities and transportation providers, like SEPTA, to upgrade our roads and bridges to ensure commuter safety," Pennsylvania State Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky, whose district includes this area, said. "That's why I'm thrilled to see the Crum Creek Viaduct reopen. This vital cog in the Media/Elwyn Regional Rail line is now safer than it was before and built to stand for hopefully another century serving local commuters."
Following the return of Regional Rail service in September, crews immediately began work to restore the site. Thus far, crews have reopened the Leiper-Smedley trail and public access to trails below the Crum Creek Viaduct. Working closely with Swarthmore College and Scott Arboretum, the eastern and western slopes have been graded, seeded and planted with over 5,000 trees and bushes. Crumhenge,an area located adjacent to the viaduct where unique stone slabs were located for generations, had to be removed during construction. The Crumhenge area was also laid out and re-installed. Wetland restoration work is ongoing.
(SEPTA - posted 10/21)
2016 TOYS FOR TOTS ON THE SOUTHWEST PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD:
On Saturday, November 19th 2016, railcar owners from the Northeastern United States will be riding on the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad from Mount Pleasant to Greensburg, Penn., stopping at: Cook’s Lumber in Mount Pleasant, the SWP Train Station office in Scottdale, the PA Rt 31 crossing in Tarrs, Supervalu Inc., Youngwood Railroad Museum, and Greengate Rd behind Walmart at the Railroad crossing, and then return. The trip will collect toys and cash donations for the U.S. Marines’ annual Toys for Tots campaign. This will be the first year that SWP has hosted NARCOA. Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad employees have been collecting toys to prepare for this event.
NARCOA is a national organization that restores railcars and charters railroads around the country for excursions. The railcars, also known as “speeders”, were used by the railroads for track inspection and maintenance. Most railroads now use trucks equipped with rail wheels and so the older railcars were sold off to individuals. For more information on NARCOA, visit their website.
The group will be leaving Mount Pleasant at the Savage Intermodal Terminal at 8:00 AM, arriving at Cook’s approx. 8:20 AM, Scottdale approx. 10:15 AM, Tarrs approx. 11:15 AM, Youngwood approx. 12:45 PM, Greensburg approx. 2:00 PM, and then return, stopping at the same locations for about 15 minutes each as time and daylight allow. Times are approximate based on weather conditions.
Please meet us along the tracks with your donations, safely flag us down and we will gladly stop. (Please stay off of and away from the tracks.) A new, wrapped toy for either a boy or girl will make an underprivileged child very happy this holiday season. All toys and donations collected on this trip will be used in Westmoreland County. In 2015, the group collected 2 pickup loads of toys which were desperately needed to fill requests. They also raised almost $3,000. There are many families in the area that are finding it difficult to provide toys for their children this year. Your help will make many Christmas brighter this year with your thoughtful donations. For questions, please email Event Coordinator John Gonder.
If you are unable to meet the railcar riders along the tracks, please drop off a toy (or several) at any Toys for Tots drop-box. Thank you for your kindness and generosity
(Carload Express - posted 10/20)
CSX CONTINUES RESTORATION IN THE CAROLINAS:
CSX continues recovery efforts from the extensive impact of Hurricane Matthew in North and South Carolina. Several areas remain without commercial power and continue to have flooding and downed trees. CSX engineering crews are working to restore routes into Wilmington, NC and Tarboro, NC. These routes are projected to be restored by the end of the week. As a result, more than 1,400 cars are delayed due to residual storm effects with at least 54 locations using portable generators to operate signals, crossing protection and defect detectors.
(CSX - posted 10/19)
CANADIAN PACIFIC RELEASES THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS:
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited today announced third-quarter reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.34, adjusted diluted EPS of $2.73 and an operating ratio of 57.7 percent, the lowest-ever when compared to adjusted operating ratios in previous quarters.
"Despite decreased revenues, tied to a delayed grain harvest and stiff economic headwinds, our business model continues to perform on the cost side," said E. Hunter Harrison
, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "Our commitment to efficiency, asset optimization, and operational excellence has produced yet another record-low operating ratio."
While third-quarter revenues decreased 9 percent to $1.55 billion from $1.71 billion, diluted earnings per share rose 15 percent to $2.34 from $2.04 and adjusted diluted earnings per share advanced 1 percent to $2.73 from $2.69.
"Given the delayed grain harvest, lower crude volumes and persistent economic challenges compounded by a strengthening Canadian dollar, we are now expecting mid-single-digit EPS growth this year," Harrison said. "While disappointed that we will not meet our previous forecast, I am incredibly proud that despite these challenges, CP will deliver its lowest-ever annual operating ratio. Our industry-leading operating plan and continued focus on improving service to our customers means we are well-positioned to capitalize on increasing volumes leading into 2017."
(CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/19)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 15, 2016:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 15, 2016.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 531,936 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 15 were 262,702 carloads, down 6.1 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,234 containers and trailers, down 2.2 percent compared to 2015.
Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 8.7 percent to 10,034 carloads; and grain, up 7.5 percent to 27,300 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 23.9 percent to 10,492 carloads; forest products, down 16.1 percent to 8,744 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 12.2 percent to 18,849 carloads.
For the first 41 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,264,083 carloads, down 10.3 percent from the same point last year; and 10,610,470 intermodal units, down 3.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 41 weeks of 2016 was 20,874,553 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 6.8 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 15, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 359,464 carloads, down 2.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 341,339 intermodal units, down 1.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 700,803 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 41 weeks of 2016 was 27,326,329 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.4 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 81,573 carloads for the week, up 11.9 percent, and 58,700 intermodal units, down 0.1 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 41 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,345,651 carloads, containers and trailers, down 5.4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,189 carloads for the week, down 6.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,405 intermodal units, up 2.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 41 weeks of 2016 was 1,106,125 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.5 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 10/19)
AMTRAK ADDING TRAINS FOR MIDWEST THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY TRAVEL:
In anticipation of the busiest travel week of the year, America’s Railroad® is prepared to accommodate the surge of holiday travelers with additional capacity on several routes in the Midwest. Extra trains will operate to and from downstate Illinois and Michigan and Amtrak will also operate every available passenger railcar in its fleet.
Tickets sell out quickly so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book tickets early for availability and pricing. Amtrak Lincoln Service and Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg trains are operated under a contract with the Illinois Department of Transportation and all Amtrak services in Michigan are under a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation(Amtrak - posted 10/19)
SEPTA TRANSIT STRIKE LOOMING:
On Sunday, October 16, 2016, the members of Local 234 met at the Sheet Metal Workers Union Hall to authorize the leadership of the
Union to strike if SEPTA refuses to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract that provides for pension reforms,
quality health care benefits, decent wage increases and improvements in working conditions for transportation and maintenance employees.
Passage of the strike authorization vote gives the union's bargaining team the leverage it needs to move the negotiations forward
as it gets closer to the expiration of the CTD contract on October 31, 2016 at 12:00 midnight.
The negotiations for a new contract officially began on July 13, 2016. Many issues are being discussed, including pension benefits,
health care, and non-economic reforms to improve conditions and the quality of work at SEPTA. If a strike does occur, SEPTA's heavy-rail
commuter system would not be effected.
(Union Local 234 - posted 10/18)