Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman

The next Hot News update will be posted on April 21.

FRA TO ISSUE PROPOSED RULE ON MINIMUM TRAIN CREW SIZE: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced its intention to issue a proposed rule requiring two-person train crews on crude oil trains and establishing minimum crew size standards for most main line freight and passenger rail operations. The FRA also intends to advance a rulemaking on train securement and recommends a rulemaking on the movement of hazardous materials. “Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to taking the necessary steps to assure the safety of those who work for railroads and shippers, and the residents and communities along shipping routes,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The proposed rulemaking on crew size is the latest effort in our comprehensive strategy to ensure crude oil is transported as safely as possible.” The announcement follows the deliberations of three Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) Working Groups on Appropriate Train Crew Size, Securement, and Hazardous Materials Issues. All three Working Groups were created at DOT’s request last summer in response to the Lac-Mégantic derailment. The emergency meeting was held to evaluate and consider wide-ranging proposals to further enhance railroad safety including the safe shipment of crude oil by rail. Two of the Working Groups produced recommendations that were adopted by the full RSAC for consideration in future rulemakings. In light of the working group's failure to reach consensus on crew size, the FRA took action today to move forward with a rulemaking. “We believe that safety is enhanced with the use of a multiple person crew—safety dictates that you never allow a single point of failure,” FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said. “Ensuring that trains are adequately staffed for the type of service operated is a critically important to ensure safety redundancy. We commend the RSAC’s efforts and will use the valuable input received to formulate a proposed rule that protects the public and recognizes the nuance of railroad operations.” While existing FRA regulations do not mandate minimum crew staffing requirements, current industry practice is to have two person crews for over-the-road operations. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) will most likely require a minimum of two person crews for most mainline train operations including those trains carrying crude oil. It is also expected to include appropriate exceptions. FRA plans to issue an additional NPRM based on the consensus recommendations of the Securement Working Group and approved by the full RSAC that would prohibit certain unattended freight trains or standing freight cars on main track or sidings and require railroads to adopt and implement procedures to verify securement of trains and unattended equipment for emergency responders. It would also require locomotive cabs to be locked and reversers to be removed and secured. Railroads would also be required to obtain advance approval from FRA for locations or circumstances where unattended cars or equipment may be left. The full RSAC also approved four recommendations of the Hazardous Materials Issues Working Group relating to identification, classification, operational control and handling of certain shipments. The four recommendations, directed to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), include amending or revising the definitions of “residue” and “key train,” and clarifying its regulatory jurisdiction over the loading, unloading and storage of hazmat before and during transportation. PHMSA continues to advance a rulemaking addressing the integrity of DOT Specification 111 tanker cars and the safe shipment by rail of flammable materials such as crude oil. (Bernie Wagenblast, FRA- 4/10)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 5, 2014 with 296,039 total U.S. carloads, up 5.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 261,084 units, up 12.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 557,123 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 19,741 carloads, up 16.8 percent, and petroleum and petroleum products with 14,779 carloads, up 11 percent. The commodity showing a decrease compared with the same week last year was forest products with 10,948 carloads, down 0.7 percent. For the first 14 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,898,778 carloads, up 1.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 3,464,083 intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2014 was 7,362,861 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.7 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 76,662 carloads for the week, down 6.5 percent, and 58,425 intermodal units, up 12.4 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 14 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,013,893 carloads, down 6.9 percent from the same point last year, and 728,355 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,755 carloads for the week, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,802 intermodal units, up 3.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2014 was 211,189 carloads, up 2 percent from the same point last year, and 132,783 intermodal units, up 1 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 5,123,860 carloads, down 0.5 percent compared with the same point last year, and 4,325,221 intermodal trailers and containers, up 4 percent compared with last year. (AAR- 4/10)

STREAMLINERS SPEICAL CHARTERED TRIPS ADDED TO STREAMLINERS AT SPENCER EVENT OFFERINGS: In association with the N.C. Transportation Museum’s Streamliners at Spencer railroading festival May 29 – June 1, the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation is offering an exclusive roundtrip excursion from Norfolk Southern’s Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility (CRIF) to the museum. Thousands are expected to descend on museum grounds during the four-day Streamliner festival, but only 120 passengers will have the unique opportunity to ride aboard the private varnish Streamliner Special trips. These chartered trips will be offered May 30 and May 31, presenting a rare opportunity to travel aboard one of four beautifully restored private business class cars through North Carolina’s Piedmont Region to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. The Streamliner Special excursions are made possible through the generous support of Norfolk Southern Corporation, by allowing use of their rail lines and access to the newly-opened Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility, located between the runways at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Railroad enthusiast Bennett Levin, owner and operator of the Juniata Terminal Company, is generously providing the train set. This unique excursion departs the Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility at 1 p.m. for both trips and returns at 7 p.m.  During the trip, passengers will be attended to by gracious stewards offering first-class white glove service, with heavy hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine. A special souvenir gift tote will be included with a commemorative route guide. Tickets for this rare experience are $1,000 per person, with proceeds benefitting the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation. Funds raised will help restore and preserve historic rail equipment and facilities, as well as operate the regular on-site train ride, which is, for many visitors, their first experience riding a train. A portion of each ticket is considered a tax-deductible contribution. “It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime event, to travel from the intermodal yard on some very fine business cars, pulled by Norfolk Southern’s streamliners, and see what life was like on the railroad 60 to 80 years ago,” said event organizer Roy Johnson. Johnson is the immediate past president for the NCTMF board of directors and serves as the architect for the airport. The trip will include a 3-hour layover at the N.C. Transportation Museum during the Streamliners at Spencer rail festival.  The event will feature classic locomotives of the 1930s – 50s, photo opportunities for rail fans, cab tours of attending locomotives and special operations.  With more than 20 confirmed locomotives representing at least a dozen historic railroads, it is expected to be the largest gathering of these locomotives since their heyday. Powering the Streamliner Special will be one of Levin’s Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives. These 1950s-era streamliners represent two-thirds of the original Conrail Office Car Special locomotive fleet. The train set will include four business class or parlor cars, including the notable Pennsylvania Railroad No. 120 business car. Built in 1928, this historic car has carried a number of well-known passengers, including President John F. Kennedy and his family, the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor, and Prince Charles and his wife. In a more somber moment, the car was used to transport the body of Robert F. Kennedy to its burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The Warrior Ridge No. 1157, originally built in 1953 for Southern Pacific’s “Sunset Limited,” was rebuilt in 2002 at the Juniata Terminal Company’s shops and converted into a parlor-lounge-buffet car. The car is named after a small town in central Pennsylvania, located 206 miles west of Philadelphia along the original route of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Greenwich Harbor was built in 1952 as a first class parlor car for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s “Senator” train between Boston and Washington, D.C. The car, now owned and restored by Railway Entertainment Services, features a dining area with table seating as well as section with traditional passenger seating. The Greenwich Estate car also features both a dining and passenger section, and is also owned and operated by Railway Entertainment Services. For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.nctrans.org or contact Misty Stach at 704-636-2889, ext. 228 or misty.stach@nctrans.org. (NC Transportation Museum - - 4/09)

LANDSLIDE COVERS NS MAINLINE THROUGH PITTSBURGH: At 02:30a this morning, Norfolk Southern discovered debris and trees obstructing the main line west of Pittsburgh, Pa. Reports later confirmed an active 300 ft. landslide covering a portion of our double-stack route on the western banks of the Ohio River. This directly impacts service between Chicago and the Northeast. Since early this morning, maintenance-of-way crews and heavy equipment have been working to clear one main track and stabilize the other. The plan was to open the track at approximately 1:00 p.m. this afternoon. Once open, trains will move through the worksite at restricted speed. Based on this plan for opening, NS anticipates a 10-hour delay on serveral intermodal trains. (NS - 4/08)

VIA RAIL ENHANCES BUSINESS CLASS: Business class travelers on VIA Rail’s Corridor routes can now experience many of the upgrades recently made to its Business class service - refurbished lounges, a more spacious environment on-board, a greener and more comfortable trip, new meals and more personalized service. The improvements to Business class, have been rolling out over the past few months. October 2014 will see the completion of all 26 new Business class cars. Highlights of VIA Rail’s new Business class experience include: Priority welcome. The VIP treatment begins even before the ticket is purchased. VIA Rail has created priority ticketing and check-in lines for Business class and top-tier members of its loyalty program, VIA Préférence. Relaxing lounges. As part of rail station upgrades, all seven Québec City-Windsor corridor Business lounges – in Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, London, Dorval, Québec City and Kingston – have been completely refurbished. The new lounges provide a private, comfortable retreat with beverages, magazines and newspapers. Work stations and free Wi-Fi are also provided. In Montréal, Toronto and Ottawa, Business class lounges have a full business center with PC and Apple computers and a color laser printer. Business class travelers in Toronto also have access to a separate area for meetings on the go. VIP treatment on-board. Business class travelers have priority boarding. From the moment they board, travelers will notice the personalized service such as hot towels, soft drinks and snacks, and a full bar service (included) which starts at 11 a.m. VIA Préférence Premier members (top level members), will receive additional recognition such as priority meal orders.
  • Delicious Meals. There’s nothing like being served hot bread with a good meal – that’s just one of the little perks passengers will experience in the new Business class. Starting with breakfast, travelers will enjoy a full meal complemented by a large mug of fresh coffee. During both lunch and dinner, passengers can choose from a selection of gourmet cold or warm meals and savor a glass of wine. All beverages are included in Business class.
  • Plugged in. Business travelers can stay connected on-board VIA Rail. Complimentary Wi-Fi access is available on all trains in the Québec City-Windsor corridor, enabling passengers to stay productive while travelling. In addition, every seat has its own electrical outlet. Seats that have your back. VIA Rail researched the top ergonomic seating manufacturers to redesign its seating, with a focus on safety and comfort. The new seats, still as accommodating as the previous seats, have a slim-line, sports-car feel with strong lumbar support engineered specifically for long trips. The firmer seats support back muscles so travelers arrive feeling more rested.
  • Roomy cars, with personal space. In Business class, the new seat design opens the sight lines to the windows, making the cars brighter and more spacious. The renovated cars offer passengers more space and additional leg-room, thanks to the new two-by-one seat configuration, which has one less seat per row. This new layout provides generous buffering between passengers. Under-chair mechanisms have been removed so travelers can now stretch their legs under the seat in front of them, and armrests can be raised for further comfort. New individual side trays, which include a drink-holder, ensure a comfortable distance between passengers. These separated seats provide even greater privacy.
  • Going green. The new Business class cars are more efficient and more environmentally friendly. VIA Rail replaced heavy mechanical equipment and installed more efficient lighting and climate control systems and energy use is now monitored to maximize efficiency. VIA Rail is committed to making travel by train the most environmentally sustainable option for Canadians, and international travelers.
(VIA Rail Canada - 4/08)

AMTRAK RECRUITING AND HIRING VETERANS: Amtrak is actively recruiting the thousands of veterans who are returning to civilian life and inviting them to bring their leadership, strong work ethic and high-tech skills to America’s Railroad®, said President and CEO Joe Boardman, a Vietnam veteran. “Their ability to adapt to a dynamic environment, dedication and focus to safety and experience gained while on military duty is valued by Amtrak and directly contributes to meeting our company goals,” said Boardman following a tour of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. In 2013, Amtrak launched a veterans hiring initiative with the goal that 25 percent of all new hires be veterans by 2015. To meet this goal, Amtrak plans to participate in nearly 100 military hiring events and is partnering with recruiting groups that focus on veteran hiring, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring our Heroes, the Wounded Warrior Project, RecruitMilitary and Army PaYS. Since the program began, more than 19 percent of all new Amtrak hires have been veterans. “With more veterans joining our ranks, our passengers can count on Amtrak to serve them with pride and a sense of service that honors all who have come before us,” Boardman said. Amtrak is a military friendly employer and has a long history of providing career opportunities to veterans and active military members. A team of dedicated recruiting professionals will work with returning veterans to understand their military skills, experience and training to find Amtrak career opportunities that best align with their capabilities. (Amtrak - 4/07)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNOUNCES 2014 SCHEDULE OF 21ST CENTURY STEAM EXCURSIONS: A new season of “21st Century Steam” train excursions has launched, with Norfolk Southern Corporation and partners Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society scheduling 18 excursions in seven states from April through July. Tickets for the trains listed below are available through the websites of TVRM (www.tvrail.com). and FWRHS (www.fortwaynerailroad.org). Some trains are Norfolk Southern employee specials as noted on the schedule and are not available to the general public. All excursions are round trip. Here is the schedule through July 13. Date/Train Name/Other info Origin – Turn Point/Destination Locomotive Operator
  • April 5 Radford Rambler - Bristol – Radford, Va. - SOU 630 - TVRM
  • April 6  Lonesome Pine Limited - Bristol – Bulls Gap, TN - SOU 630 - TVRM
  • April 12, 13, & 19 The Tri-County Mountaineer - Grundy, Va. – Devon, W.Va. - SOU 630 - TVRM
  • May 3 & 4 The Commodore Vanderbilt - Norfolk Southern Employee Special Elkhart, Ind. – Bryan, Ohio - NKP 765 - FWRHS
  • May 10 & 11 The Nickel Plate Limited - Norfolk Southern Employee Special Chicago, Ill. – Argos, Ind. - NKP 765 - FWRHS
  • May 17 & 18 The New Royal Palm - Cincinnati, Ohio – Danville, Ky. - SOU 630 - TVRM
  • May 31 &  June 1 Lexington Limited - Lexington, Ky. – Oneida, Tenn. - SOU 630 - TVRM
  • June 7 Steam Anniversary Special - Chattanooga, Tenn. – Oneida, Tenn. - SOU 630 - TVRM
  • July 5 & 6 The Mercury Express - Norfolk Southern Employee Special Detroit, Mich. – Toledo, Ohio - NKP 765 - FWRHS
  • July 12 & 13 Detroit Arrow - Tickets available April 16 Detroit, Mich. – Fort Wayne, Ind. - NKP 765 - FWRHS
Southern Railway No. 630 was built in 1904 by American Locomotive Company at Richmond, Va., and has been a mainstay of 21st Century Steam excursions after having been rebuilt in TVRM’s Chattanooga shops. Nickel Plate Road No. 765 was built in 1944 by Lima Locomotive Works at Lima, Ohio, and is familiar to many railroaders, having been in excursion service on and off since 1979. On June 7, TVRM will operate the Steam Anniversary Special in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 train from Stearns, Ky., to Chattanooga that led to Southern Railway’s launch of a steam excursion program the same year. The June 6, 1964, train was powered by Southern Railway Locomotive 4501, which now is being rebuilt at TVRM’s Chattanooga shops. Southern’s excursion program operated from 1964 to 1994. In 2010, Norfolk Southern and TVRM announced plans to launch “21st Century Steam” to highlight milestones in rail history and provide opportunities for audiences to learn about today’s safe and service-oriented freight railroads. The inaugural excursions took place during Labor Day weekend 2011, powered by the 630. (NS, Rick Glosser - 4/04)

BRONX BOMBER FANS, HOP ON MTA NYC TRANSIT'S NOSTALGIA TRAIN TO THE YANKEES OPENER ON MONDAY: Yankee fans riding the subway to Opening Day on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles can head up to Yankee Stadium riding aboard MTA New York City Transit’s special “Nostalgia Train.” First pitch is at 1:05 pm. The four-car “Nostalgia Special” (photo attached below) will depart from Grand Central on the 4 Subway Line, uptown express platform at 11:00 a.m. and run non-stop to 161 St-Yankee Stadium. The cars on the train will be the 1917 vintage Lo-V (low voltage) cars, which were removed from regular passenger service in 1969. (MTA - 4/04)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR MARCH, INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for March 2014, with both carload and intermodal volume increasing compared with March 2013. Intermodal traffic in March totaled 1,025,907 containers and trailers, up 9.9 percent (92,661 units) compared with March 2013, and the 52nd-consecutive year-over-year monthly increase for intermodal volume. The weekly average of 256,477 intermodal units on U.S. railroads in March 2014 was easily the highest for any March in history and was the fourth highest for any month in history. Meanwhile, U.S. carload originations totaled 1,156,697 in March 2014, up 3.5 percent (38,628 carloads) over March 2013. Eleven of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in March. Commodities with the biggest carload increases included grain, up 14,272 carloads or 21.2 percent; coal, up 9,649 carloads or 2.2 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 4,454 carloads or 5.6 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 4,524 carloads or 8.2 percent. Commodity categories with carload declines last month included iron and steel scrap, down 2,602 carloads or 13.7 percent; metallic ores, down 1,345 carloads or 7.1 percent; and steel and other primary metal products, down 874 carloads or 2.1 percent. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 14,707 carloads, or 2.9 percent, in March 2014 over the same month last year. “U.S. rail traffic rebounded strongly in March 2014 following a sub-par February. Grain led the way, as railroads are working hard to move the biggest grain harvest in history,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “In addition, coal carloads rose in March, something that’s happened just one other time in the past two years. March also demonstrated that we have every reason to be optimistic that 2014 will break 2013’s intermodal volume record.” AAR today also reported increased rail traffic for the week ending March 29, 2014. U.S. railroads originated 301,317 carloads last week, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 265,188 units, up 13.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 566,505 carloads and intermodal units, up 10 percent compared with the same week last year. Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain, with 22,070 carloads, up 44.2 percent; nonmetallic minerals and products, with 35,240 carloads, up 11.2 percent; and, motor vehicles and parts, with 18,727 carloads, up 10.6 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic were led by metallic ores and metals, with 24,195 carloads, down 13.7 percent. For the first 13 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,602,739 carloads, up 0.9 percent from the same point last year, and 3,202,999 intermodal units, up 3.8 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 13 weeks of 2014 was 6,805,738 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.3 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 81,233 carloads for the week, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 55,945 intermodal units, up 18.9 percent compared with 2013. For the first 13 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 937,231 carloads, down 7 percent from the same point last year, and 669,930 intermodal units, up 1.5 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,958 carloads for the week, up 9.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,927 intermodal units, up 21.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 13 weeks of 2014 is 195,434 carloads, up 2 percent from the same point last year, and 122,981 intermodal units, up 0.8 percent. Combined North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 4,735,404 carloads, down 0.7 percent compared with the same point last year, and 3,995,910 trailers and containers, up 3.3 percent compared with last year. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - 4/02)

STATE-OF-THE-ART TERMINAL BEGINS OPERATIONS IN WINTER PARK: Evansville Western Railway, an affiliate of CSX, today announced the start of operations at the state-of-the-art intermodal terminal located just off State Road 60.  Known as the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center (ILC), this facility serves as a centralized hub for transportation, logistics and distribution serving Orlando, Tampa and South Florida. The 318-acre intermodal terminal is surrounded by 930 acres that is planned for development of up to 7.9 million square feet of warehouse distribution centers, light industrial and office facilities. The terminal features five 3,000-foot loading tracks and two 10,000-foot arrival and departure tracks. It's estimated the terminal will process up to 300,000 containers a year. "The Central Florida ILC will add yet another transportation and logistics capability in a state that's already known for excellent ports, great highways, and extensive railroad connectivity," said Clarence Gooden, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at CSX. "The terminal will provide an anchor for economic development in the region and position Florida for future growth while reducing congestion on the highways." While Evansville Western Railway owns the facility, the terminal is operated by CSX Intermodal Terminals, Inc. with rail service provided by CSX Transportation (CSXT). Containerized freight previously handled at CSX's intermodal terminal in Orlando is immediately being shifted to Winter Haven.  CSX will serve the region's intermodal market from the new Central Florida ILC and close its Orlando intermodal terminal.  CSXT's Taft yard in Orlando will continue to serve other rail freight needs. The terminal incorporates cutting-edge technology that is efficient, innovative and environmentally friendly. Several of its green technology initiatives include:
  • three high-powered electric cranes  that minimize noise and emissions;
  • solar panels on each building  which provide alternative and renewable energy sources;
  • high mast exterior lighting using LED (light emitting diodes) to reduce energy consumption and light pollution;
  • silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for its administration buildings.
"This is one of the most technologically advanced facilities of its kind in the country," said Tony Reck, Chairman and CEO of Evansville Western Railway. "The ripple effect of this terminal's operations will be felt statewide and beyond – ultimately setting the stage for future growth in the region. Without the tremendous support and visionary leadership of Winter Haven and state officials, none of this would have been possible." (CSX, Randy Kotuby - 4/02)

J 611 STEAM LOCOMOTIVE TO APPEAR AT STREAMLINERS AT SPENCER: The 20th locomotive appearing at the N.C. Transportation Museum’s upcoming Streamliners at Spencer will add some serious steam to the event.  The Class J 611 passenger steam locomotive, owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation, will arrive at the N.C. Transportation Museum May 29, the Preview Day for the four day rail festival.  The only steam-powered Streamliner engine scheduled to appear, the Class J 611, known as The Spirit of Roanoke, is an iconic locomotive that will be a huge hit with rail fans. The Virginia Museum of Transportation and the N.C. Transportation Museum announced last week that the 611 will travel to Spencer for upcoming restoration. Today’s announcement confirms that the 611 will be a centerpiece of photography at this already massive rail festival.  Recent fundraising successes have allowed for the 611 to make the move to Spencer in time to appear during the Streamliners at Spencer event.  Virginia Museum of Transportation Executive Director Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr. said, “We’re going at full steam. Based on our success to date and projection for the campaign’s final stages, we decided we could send her to Spencer for restoration sooner rather than later.” The 20th locomotive announced for Streamliners at Spencer is also a benchmark for the event.  Like the Norfolk Southern Heritage Unit event two years ago, this means the Bob Julian Roundhouse will have the maximum number of locomotives surrounding the turntable for group shots.  With 37 stalls and two lead tracks, the Bob Julian Roundhouse is the largest operational building of its type still in existence in North America, and as such, is the only place such a gathering of locomotives can happen for this rail fan photography event. More locomotives, however, are still in negotiation to attend Streamliners at Spencer. With a full roundhouse, engines will be rotated if necessary.  The full list of locomotives can be found on the museum’s event blog, “Streamliners Scoop,” available at www.nctrans.org All through the 4-day Streamliners at Spencer rail festival, visitors will enjoy special operations for all locomotives on site, daytime locomotive portraits, night photo shoots, display trains and more.  A special Preview Day, featuring the last of the engines to arrive, special train movements, site preparations and more will be held May 29.  Tickets for the Preview Day are $40 per person in advance.  Tickets will be $45 on the day of the event. A Streamliners Celebration at the Station the evening of May 29 at the nearby Salisbury station will feature live music, guest speakers and a BBQ and chicken dinner for $20/person.    Regular daytime admission to Streamliners at Spencer for activities running May 30 through June 1 will be $30 for adults and $20 for children per day if purchased in advance.  The price increases to $35 for adults and $25 for children per day if purchased on the day of the event.  Nighttime photo shoots Thursday through Saturday will be $25 per person, per night. Combo tickets and group discounts will be available, along with discounts for N.C. Transportation Museum members, Norfolk Southern employees and Amtrak employees.  More information about the day-to-day operations and ticket prices is available online at www.nctrans.org .  The participation of all resident and visiting locomotives is subject to timely transportation and mechanical availability.  Tickets for Streamliners at Spencer are available online at www.nctrans.org or by calling (704) 636-2889 ext. 237 or ext. 257. Tickets for a special Night Photo Session, being conducted as a test for Streamliners at Spencer and featuring the museum’s own historic rail equipment, happens April 5.  Tickets for the Night Photo Session will be $10 per person and are available only on the day of the event from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ( N.C. Transportation Museum. Alex Mayes - 4/01)

LINCOLN FUNERAL TRAIN LOCOMOTRIVE BOUND FOR EXPO 2014: The train was built by one man – David Kloke, owner of Kloke Construction and Kloke Locomotive – as his “hobby.” And it was built “from scratch” over a 10-year span, beginning in 1999. It is America’s newest operating steam locomotive. The Leviathan #63 will be on display and ready to roll when the Steam Railroading Institute welcomes it to the Train Expo 2014, June 20-22 here in Owosso. But most relevant for The Leviathan #63 is its strong historic aspect. It is designed to replicate the steam locomotive that pulled Lincoln's funeral train 149 years ago. On April 21, 1865, President Lincoln’s body was transported by train over 12 days, traveling about 1,600 miles through more than 160 communities, carrying the martyred President back home to Springfield, Illinois. Formal funerals were held in 12 major cities, and many more memorial services were organized in communities along the train’s route. The SRI will showcase its own Owosso-based steam locomotive at the Train Expo, the Pere Marquette #1225, whose sound and image were used as the models for the Polar Express movie. The event celebrates the Pere Marquette 1225’s refurbishing by inviting several other steam locomotives and dozens of exhibits to Owosso. Some of the largest operating steam locomotives in North America will be showcased, pulling excursions to and from the event. Many of these coal-burning steel giants weigh over 600,000 pounds each, measure 100 feet long, and can run at speeds of up to 80 mph. In addition to trains, the event will include vintage World War II aircraft, including B-17 and B-25 bombers, a C-47/DC-3 transport, and a P-51 Mustang fighter brought by the Commemorative Air force Red Tail Squadron and more! These planes will be on display as well as offering rides for a fee. There will also be a display of vintage automobiles both privately owned and from regional car clubs like that of the Michigan Plates Model A Club and from the Gilmore Car Museum of Battle Creek Michigan. Tickets and more information are available at http://michigansteamtrain.com . To purchase tickets call (989)399-7589 or click http://michigansteamtrain.com/expo-landing/ http://michigansteamtrain.com/expo-landing/ (Steam Railroading Institute - 4/01)

METRO-NORTH RAILROAD TO YANKEE STADIUM IS FAST, CONVENIENT, AND RELIABLE: The New York Yankees return to the Bronx on Monday, April 7, with their 2014 home opener against the Baltimore Orioles. Metro-North is coming back too, with “Yankee Clipper” service on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines, and shuttle service every 20 minutes before, during and after the game from Grand Central Terminal and Harlem-125th Street. Without the need to battle game-day traffic or pay expensive parking fees, Metro-North Railroad improves your game-day experience by giving you a stress-free ride right to the stadium, right when you want it. And making it even better, kids aged 5 to 11 ride for just $1 to any game, while commuters who hold monthly or weekly tickets to Grand Central or Harlem-125th Street can use those tickets to reach the stadium at no additional charge. While Metro-North serves the Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station 365 days a year with local Bronx service on the Hudson Line, the railroad offers extra service on all three of its east of Hudson lines for game days. All weekend and weeknight games are served by special Yankee Clipper, trains that offer direct service to the stadium from as far away as Poughkeepsie, Southeast, and New Haven. Schedules are tailored to provide service before, during and after the game, from well before the first pitch to well after the last out. For weekday afternoon games, including the home opener, the railroad offers extra service on the Hudson Line. Fans from the New Haven and Harlem Lines can use regularly scheduled trains and transfer at Harlem-125th Street for the short shuttle ride to the stadium. In addition, Metro-North operates shuttle trains to Grand Central and Harlem-125th Street before, during and after all games. The shuttle trains ensure service every 20 minutes on average, beginning two hours before the game starts and ending two hours after it concludes. Alcoholic beverages may be consumed on the train, but open containers are not allowed on station platforms at Yankees-E.153rd Street and must be discarded. Many Trains To and From Every Game Fans have lots of train choices for each game. For details about game-day schedules, pick up a special Yankees-153rd Street Station Game Day timetable available online and at Grand Central Terminal and outlying stations. Or visit www.mta.info/mnr and get train times using our interactive schedules page. Schedules for game day trains are also available on the Metro-North Train Time ™ app for iPhone and Android, via web through the Metro-North Train Time page at www.mta.info/mnr , or by sending a text message to CooCoo (266266). Here is a summary:
  • Hudson Line Metro-North will provide direct service to and from all home games from all stations both north and south of Croton-Harmon via regularly scheduled trains. To all weekend and weekday afternoon games, Metro-North offers a Yankee Clipper special from select stations that are timed to let fans get to the stadium 60 or 75 minutesbefore the first pitch. From all games, Metro-North offers a Yankee Clipper special to select stations that is timed to depart 20-45 minutes after the last out. (After weekday 1 p.m. games, the Clipper departs at 4:18 p.m., whether the game is over or not.)
  • ?Harlem Line & New Haven Line Metro-North will provide special Yankee Clipper direct trains to and from all weeknight and weekend games. These trains are timed to arrive at the stadium between 45 minutesand two hours before the first pitch, and depart 20-45 minutes after the last out. As an alternative, or to reach weekday afternoon games, fans can take regularl scheduled trains and change at Harlem-125th Street for a short shuttle train ride to the stadium.
  • Grand Central Terminal & Harlem-125th Street Metro-North will provide frequent shuttle service to, from and during all games.
A One-Ticket Ride for All Trips All trips to or from the stadium on any line can be made with just one ticket, whether you ride a direct train or change trains at Harlem-125th Street. Be sure to keep your ticket with you as you’ll be asked for it by ticket collectors at the Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station. Fans should buy round-trip or one-way tickets to Yankees–E. 153rd St. before boarding for the best price. Tickets from all Hudson Line stations (except Grand Central Terminal and Harlem-125th Street) are the less expensive “intermediate” tickets that are valid at all times. All tickets from Harlem Line and New Haven Line stations are off-peak, except for trips returning from weekday afternoon games. For customers starting their trips at Grand Central, trips to weeknight games are peak, and others are off-peak. Mets Fan? Mets fans from the Hudson Valley and Connecticut, the best way to get to Citi Field is on Metro-North! From Grand Central, catch the Queens-bound 7 Subway Line subway right to the Mets-Willets Point station, a short walk from Citi Field. You can ride either the 7 Subway Line local train or the diamond-express. All 7 Subway Line trains stop at Mets-Willets Point. (MTA- 3/31)

FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES NEW PASSENGER TRAIN DOOR RULES: The Federal Railroad Administration today announced a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) intended to improve the integrity of passenger train exterior side door safety systems. The proposed rule would create new safety standards that would help decrease accidents and improve the safe operation and use of passenger train exterior side doors. Some of the proposed requirements include: equipping new passenger cars that have powered side doors with an obstruction detection system and a bypass feature that allows a train engineer to manually override the door safety system; connecting new passenger cars that have either manual or powered exterior side doors to a door summary circuit that informs the controlling cab of the status of the doors to prohibit the train from developing tractive power if any of the exterior side doors are open; and safety briefings for train crews to identify crewmember responsibilities as they relate to the safe operation of the exterior side doors. The proposed rule is based on recommendations developed by the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s General Passenger Safety Task Force, and includes new requirements for both powered and manual exterior side doors and door safety systems on passenger trains. (USDOT - 3/28)

CANADIAN PACIFIC EXPRESSES EXTREME DISAPPOINTMENT WITH CANADIAN GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION: Canadian Pacific today expressed its extreme disappointment with the legislation tabled yesterday afternoon in Ottawa by the Government of Canada. "CP believes that the government has unfortunately chosen to introduce legislation which will do nothing to increase supply chain capacity in the grain handling system, will not move more grain to markets more quickly, and has the potential to cause great damage to the Canadian rail transportation system that is unquestionably the best in the world," said CP Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison. "Targeting the railways when our dedicated men and women are working 24/7 to recover from some of the harshest winter operating conditions ever seen, is not only ineffective but grossly unfair.  " CP also believes that the expansion of regulated interswitching could seriously impact Canada's competitiveness as it effectively transfers traffic that normally would move over Canadian railways and ports, to U.S. railroads and ports, potentially resulting in job losses, reduced investment and the dampening of the Canadian economy.  Interswitching will also lead to double handling of grain shipments which will slow down the grain supply chain negatively impacting transit times. The supply chain challenges with moving this exceptional crop need to be recognized. At close to 80 million metric tonnes (MMT), this crop is 27% above the previous 2008/2009 record and 37% above the 5-year average. While the production increase is dramatic, the scope of the supply chain challenge has been exacerbated by the fact that the increase is almost entirely for export, meaning there is more than 20 MMT additional volume to be moved over and above the 33 to 34 MMT exported in a typical year. This record grain crop is far beyond the overall grain supply chain's capacity in a single year and as a result will be moved over the remainder of this year and into next. "Canada's grain handling system is just not built to handle this record amount of grain," said Harrison. "While it is easy to blame the railways for 'dropping the ball', it ignores the facts." Rail is only one element of the supply chain and this year's challenges relate to all elements including farm storage, country elevator capacity, rail capacity, terminal capacity, overall port capacity and winter weather related challenges within the North American rail network. To date, even with some of the harshest operating conditions we have ever seen, CP continues to move record amounts of grain. Obviously, this performance is dependent on all of the players in the supply chain performing in a way that maximizes all available capacity including full 24/7 operations, something CP is still not seeing in the supply chain on a consistent basis. "We are very concerned about the speed and lack of consultation by the government in making such significant changes to the rail transportation system that could result in unintended consequences for all stakeholders," added Harrison. "We need to move away from reactionary legislative interventions that target unfairly one participant and potentially damage the Canadian economy.  Instead we should all focus on commercial solutions to maximize overall capacity in the grain supply chain. This is especially important if these larger crops become the new normal as has been suggested. If this is true, a system grounded in commercial principles, not regulation, is required to address the capacity constraints and the significant investments required, including replacing Canada's aging grain hopper fleet." (CP, Randy Kotuby - 3/28)

AMTRAK EMPIRE BUILDER TO OPERATE ON MODIFIED SCHEDULE WEST OF ST. PAUL: Amtrak Empire Builder trains will operate on a modified schedule, starting April 15, with most of the change affecting passengers between St. Paul, Minn., and Portland, Ore., or Seattle. As described on the attached Passenger Service Notice, the eastbound Empire Builder trains leaving Seattle (Train 8) and Portland (Train 28) will originate three hours earlier than they do today. The trains are combined leaving Chicago and St. Paul (Train 7/27) and are separated at Spokane, with about 90 minutes added to the current westbound schedules between St. Paul and Seattle or Portland. Schedules between St. Paul and Chicago are largely unchanged. “We are working closely with BNSF Railway Co., which owns the tracks and controls the dispatching of the Empire Builder trains between St. Paul and the West Coast, in order to publish a schedule that accounts for the freight train congestion and the condition of the BNSF-owned infrastructure,” said Jim Brzezinski, the Route Director for the Empire Builder. “We will assess the ability of BNSF to dispatch the Empire Builder with better reliability on this schedule, with further schedule changes possible in June.” Amtrak routinely notifies customers with existing reservations who are affected by schedule modifications such as this one. (Amtrak - 3/27)

BAKER-MASCARO DESIGN BUILD TEAM ON AWARD WINNING CSX PROJECT: The CSX J&L Tunnel Modification project in Pittsburgh, Pa., has been honored with several professional industry awards. The J&L Tunnel Modification Project is a part of CSX Transportation, Inc.’s National Gateway Clearance Improvement Program, a public-private partnership to improve freight transportation efficiencies. The focus was on raising the clearances in the J&L Tunnel to permit the movement of double stack container trains. The work was completed while the rail line remained open and was led by the design-build team of Michael Baker Jr., Inc. (an engineering unit of Michael Baker International, LLC), and Mascaro Construction Company, LP. The distinctive industry honors include: Engineering Society of Western Pennsylvania–Project of the Year; Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers: Beaver County Chapter–Project of the Year; American Council of Engineering Companies/PA Diamond Award–Category C Structural Systems; and, Master Builders Association of Western Pennsylvania–Project of the Year, Design/Build Category. Baker Project Manager James H. Swadley, P.E. said, “This was a highly complex project that faced many challenges. CSX and the Baker-Mascaro team applied unique and innovative engineering and construction solutions to address these challenges while also meeting the project completion deadline. The entire team deserves recognition and we are extremely proud these fine professional engineering and construction industry organizations have honored this project.” The J&L Tunnel Modification Project received the awards based on complexity, innovation, broad and regional economic impact, schedule and budget, unique contractual conditions, benefits to society, and positive effects on safety, health and the environment for project team members and the general public. ( Michael Baker International, LLC - posted 3/27)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 22, 2014 with 291,525 total U.S. carloads, up 4.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 260,713 units, up 10.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 552,238 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 19,754 carloads, up 16 percent, and petroleum and petroleum products with 14,811 carloads, up 10.3 percent. The commodity showing a decrease compared with the same week last year was chemicals with 30,422 carloads, down 0.2 percent. For the first 12 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,301,422 carloads, up 0.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 2,937,811 intermodal units, up 3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 12 weeks of 2014 was 6,239,233 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 77,484 carloads for the week, down 2.2 percent, and 54,576 intermodal units, up 8 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 12 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 855,998 carloads, down 7.7 percent from the same point last year, and 613,985 intermodal units, up 0.2 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,963 carloads for the week, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 8,379 intermodal units, up 6.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 12 weeks of 2014 was 179,476 carloads, up 1.4 percent from the same point last year, and 113,054 intermodal units, down 0.7 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 12 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 4,336,896 carloads, down 1.3 percent compared with the same point last year, and 3,664,850 intermodal trailers and containers, up 2.4 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 3/27)

CSX URGES STB TO REJECT FLAWED SWITCHING SCHEME: CSX Transportation opposes a proposal before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) that would create unpredictable traffic flows, reduce high levels of customer service achieved over the past few years, and diminish the company's incentive to keep investing at record levels in critically needed transportation infrastructure. "Our work is focused on achieving high levels of service reliability and predictability, which are critical elements in meeting our customers' needs," said Cressie Brown, CSX's vice president-service design, in prepared testimony before the STB. A proposal from the National Industrial Transportation League (NIT League) "would undermine much of what we have accomplished in the areas of reliability, efficiency and customer service." Brown pointed to information and data gleaned from CSX's Customer Advisory Councils and periodic surveys in which customers acknowledged improvements, but said they needed even more reliability to grow their own businesses. New or expanded businesses create job growth and economic development, and rail transportation's fuel efficiency offers significant environmental benefits. "It is a virtuous cycle of pleasing customers, earning more business, and generating investments in additional resources and new infrastructure," Brown said. "The NIT League proposal turns back the clock on these gains achieved over the past decade." The NIT League proposal would force railroads, in certain circumstances, to open up their privately built, owned and maintained networks to competitors, creating artificial competition and transferring revenues from the railroads to the handful of customers who recommended the proposal. Brown said the proposal would create uncertainty among railroads over where to deploy resources such as locomotives and train crews, congest interchanges between railroads, and force freight back to the already stressed highways. "I am very concerned that the NIT League proposal will force cars to locations where we do not have the resources or infrastructure to handle them," Brown said. "Predictable traffic flows and effective planning are essential to our ability to provide a reliable service product. And shipment visibility is critical to resource and capacity planning." Brown offered examples of how traffic flows could change under the NIT League proposal with one adding 300 miles and three days to an overall movement and another routing more freight trains through an already congested city and potentially affecting passenger and commuter train service. "It is not in the broader public interest to experiment with a forced switching scheme, which would ultimately create less reliable and less cost effective service for our customers," Brown concluded, noting that the U.S. freight railroad industry already provides the most cost-effective service in the world, giving U.S. companies a competitive advantage. "We urge the Board to reject this sweeping regulatory restructuring and to maintain the balanced environment that is a pillar of our world-class freight rail system." (CSX, Randy Kotuby - 3/26)

CAF USA TO EXPAND ELMIRA HEIGHTS MANUFACTURING FACILITY: CAF USA has announced plans to expand its Elmira Heights, N.Y. manufacturing facility. CAF USA, employing approximately 600, is assembling new Amtrak long distance passenger cars, along with LRT cars for Houston and streetcars for Cincinnati and Kansas City. (Alex Mayes (Alex Mayes - 3/25)

METRO-NORTH SIGNAL UPGRADE COMPLETE AT CURVES AND BRIDGES: MTA Metro-North Railroad has completed permanent changes to its signal system to ensure automatic speed enforcement at five critical curves and five moveable bridges in New York and Connecticut, more than five months ahead of schedule. Today the railroad announced that with the completion of work at the Devon Bridge in Stratford, CT, last Thursday all the signal modifications ordered by the Federal Railroad Administration in December are now complete, well before the September 1, 2014 FRA deadline. “The complete implementation of the requirements of the FRA’s Emergency Order 29, issued on December 8, 2013, brings us another step closer to a safer railroad, which is our number one goal,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti, who started on February 10 of this year. “We will continue to take all necessary steps to restore Metro-North to greatness.” Signal engineers first designed modifications to the circuitry at each location by calculating where and when speed limits should be reduced. Then signal maintainers had to reconfigure wiring along the tracks that sends the signal to the train to control its speed. Extensive testing was then performed to confirm that the changes were working as designed. The signal display observed by train engineers in their cabs now will automatically indicate reduced allowable speeds on the approaches to these 10 locations. If the engineer does not reduce the train's speed accordingly, the train will automatically come to a stop. Metro-North Signal forces began work on changes to the Automatic Train Control system at Spuyten Duyvil just days after the fatal derailment and completed the modifications there on the same day the FRA order was issued. Signal system modifications for the remaining four curves at Yonkers, White Plains, Bridgeport and Port Chester were all completed by February 8, ahead of the FRA March 1, target. Work then shifted to the five moveable bridges on the New Haven Line at Cos Cob, South Norwalk, Westport, Bridgeport and Milford in Connecticut. The “Peck” Bridge in Bridgeport was completed first on January 18, 2014 and the fifth and final bridge at Devon was completed March 20, 2014. The project was completed using Metro-North’s own Signal Design and Construction forces. (MTA - 3/24)

CSX TOLEDO TERMINAL EMPLOYEES HONORED WITH DUAL COMMENDATIONS: CSX Toledo Terminal employees at Stanley Yard, Walbridge Yard and the Toledo Docks were recently honored by the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate for Stanley Yard's centennial birthday and the team's impressive safety record. State Senator Randy Gardner and State Representative Tim Brown presented the dual commendations. "It is an honor to salute the employees of Stanley Yard as they celebrate their centennial year. CSX has played an important role in our local economy for decades and we look forward to many more successes in the future," said Rep. Brown. Combined, the Toledo Terminal handles about 3,000 carloads of freight each day, forming an integral part of the regional economy's backbone. Stanley Yard handles mostly mixed freight, Walbridge Yard moves predominantly auto freight, and the Toledo Docks handle vessel and rail transfers of coal and iron ore. "A strong and vibrant CSX helps maintain and build jobs in our region and state," Senator Gardner added. Stanley Yard's commitment to safety, customers, and community service has been recognized across the region. Stanley Yard's employees celebrated the centennial combined with their two-year, injury-free milestone last year. A strong community presence in Northern Wood County, Stanley Yard employees participate in the annual MS Society Bike to the Bay fundraiser, leading the way in team fundraising for the last two years. In addition, employees were among the first to respond in the aftermath of tragic 2010 tornado that hit Lake Township. CSX volunteers donated time and resources toward the clean-up and rebuilding efforts in the weeks and months following the disaster. "We have a great team at the Toledo Terminal, in both safety and service," said Rob Burkett, terminal superintendent. "They are upholding the strong rail tradition in this part of the country on behalf of CSX, our customers, and our communities." Built by the Toledo & Ohio Central railroad, Stanley Yard changed hands several times over the years with railroad mergers, from New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail and finally CSX, which acquired it as part of its share of the Conrail acquisition in the late 1990s. (CSX - 3/24)

CN DELIVERS OVER 4000 HOPPER CARS TO WESTERN CANADIAN GRAIN ELEVATORS FOR THIRD WEEK IN A ROW AFTER HARSH WINTER CONDITIONS EASE: CN said today it spotted 4,456 hopper cars for loading at country grain elevators in Western Canada during the grain-crop Week 33 just ended. This marked the third week in a row that CN has delivered more than 4,000 grain cars to Prairie elevators, averaging 4,366 cars per week, or 23 per cent greater than CN's average winter car-spotting performance. Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "We began ramping up our grain loadings as soon as we got a meaningful break from this harsh winter's extreme cold temperatures. We are pleased to see our network regaining fluidity. That enables our team of dedicated railroaders to move more grain to address the backlog of traffic resulting from the 100-year crop harvested last fall." Mongeau said tackling the significant backlog will require solid end-to-end collaboration among all grain supply chain stakeholders. With rail volumes quickly increasing, however, CN is concerned that grain elevator terminals on Canada's West Coast could soon hit capacity, limiting total export volumes before the Great Lakes shipping lane re-opens and a strong export grain program can start at the Port of Thunder Bay, Ont. "The Great Lakes have been frozen over by this winter's polar vortex to a degree not seen in several decades," said Mongeau. "We need urgent support from the Canadian Coast Guard to open navigation channels if we are to meet the federal government's Order in Council requiring CN to move 500,000 tonnes, or close to 5,500 cars of grain per week." Mongeau added: "Railways are not the only ones facing a significant challenge in moving this 100-year grain crop. It is becoming clear that other supply chain participants - grain elevator companies, shipping lines and ports -- are also straining to handle the harvest given a full 50 per cent increase in the amount of grain to move to export markets. "As I have said before, blaming railways alone - or even worse, threatening to punish them with re-regulation for an outsized crop and winter conditions beyond their control - will not help to move any more grain, now or over the longer term. "Canada urgently needs to move away from unproductive finger-pointing. We need to encourage supply chain collaboration and promote sound commercial solutions to address the challenge of moving so much grain. As a key part of the solution, CN is prepared to do its part if it is welcomed as a core member of Canada's grain team." (CN, Randy Kotuby - 3/24)

TRAIN MONITORING SYSTEMS PLANNED FOR METRO-NORTH RAILROAD AND THE LIRR: Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road plan to install monitoring equipment designed to detect defective or overheated wheels and loads of freight trains that operate on publicly owned tracks and convey that information in real time to the railroads’ control centers. “This specialized equipment will improve safety and reduce wear and tear on our tracks,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, parent agency of the two railroads. “They are intended to identify faults before they cause problems.” The equipment, known as a Train Fault Detector System, consists of three components, a wheel impact detector that recognizes flat spots and other wheel defects, a “hot box” detector that assures that all the roller bearings around the axles are rolling properly and not overheating, and a tag reader that identifies individual freight cars. Because of the complexity of implementing such a system, the railroads on Monday will ask the MTA Board to approve a type of procurement called a Request for Proposal rather than a simple low-bid contract, where price is the sole determining factor. The railroads are seeking a vendor to design, manufacture, deliver and integrate these components to provide real time reporting to the railroads’ control centers. Metro-North intends to install the instrumentation just east of Green’s Farms Station on the New Haven Line and just south of Scarborough on the Hudson Line. Freight enters the Hudson Line from the south at Highbridge Yard in the Bronx and from the north at Poughkeepsie. Freight enters the New Haven line from the south at New Rochelle and from the north at New Haven. The Harlem Line does not carry any freight. The LIRR’s system will be installed on the Main Line west of Bellerose Station. Freight trains, including New York and Atlantic Railroad and CSX, enter LIRR tracks at Long Island City and Fresh Pond in Queens and at Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. These installations are in addition to fault detection improvements on CSX property that were agreed to by CSX last August following a freight derailment at Spuyten Duyvil last summer. On the track that joins the Hudson Line, just southeast of Selkirk, CSX is installing a wheel impact detector that will measure the weight on each wheel and detect wheel defects, such as flat spots, on every wheel on every car of every train. The system automatically will send a report to Metro-North’s Operations Control Center including any overweight cars or uneven load. In the Bronx, just north of the Harlem River Yard on the Oak Point line, CSX is installing a “weigh in motion” system that will measure and transmit information so that Metro-North can audit compliance with weight limits. The new installations are in addition to Metro-North’s existing wheel impact detector in the Park Avenue Tunnel and the hot box detector just south of Poughkeepsie, both in place for years. (MTA - 3/21)

TWO MORE LOCOMOTIVES CONFIRMED FOR STREAMLINERS AT SPENCER: The N.C. Transportation Museum and the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation are pleased to announce the attendance of two additional locomotives at this year’s “Streamliners at Spencer” event on May 29 – June 1. Baltimore & Ohio painted F7(A) No. 722 and Chesapeake & Ohio painted F3(A) No. 8016, operated by West Virginia’s Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad, will bring the total attendance to 19 locomotives. Chesapeake & Ohio F3(A) No. 8016 began her life in rural Appalachia as Clinchfield Railroad No. 800 built in December 1948. CRR No. 800 operated in freight service through the iconic Breaks Interstate Park and Clinchfield system in its earliest years. In the Family Lines System era, CRR No. 800 was assigned to business train service and passenger excursion service across the newly formed Family Lines System. The locomotive was assigned to CSX’s business executive train in the 1980’s where it was repainted and renumbered to CSXT No. 116. The locomotive was retired in the early 1990’s in which the C&O Historical Society received ownership of the locomotive. Repainted into Chesapeake & Ohio’s passenger scheme and renumbered to No. 8016, the locomotive has been on lease to the Potomac Eagle since 1994. Built in 1952 for the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad as BLE No. 722A, Potomac Eagle’s Baltimore & Ohio painted F7(A) spent much of its career in B&LE freight service throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio. No. 722A spent much of its final years along the railroad’s Kaylor Branch in Pennsylvania before retired to Larry’s Truck & Electric years later. The Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad acquired the locomotive in 2001 where it was repainted into Potomac Eagle’s vibrant blue and grey paint scheme and assigned to the railroad’s tourist train service, a job it still holds today. The locomotive was repainted into Baltimore & Ohio’s passenger paint scheme in the summer of 2010. The Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad is a tourist railroad in northeastern West Virginia that operates through the Potomac Highlands between Green Springs, W.Va. and Petersburg, W.Va. on the state-owned South Branch Valley Railroad. During the 4 day rail festival, visitors will enjoy special operations for all locomotives on site, daytime locomotive portraits, nighttime photo shoots, the display trains and more. The full list of locomotives can be found on the museum’s event blog, “Streamliners Scoop,” available at www.nctrans.org A special Preview Day, featuring the last of the engines to arrive, special train movements, site preparations and more will be held May 29. Tickets for the Preview Day are $40 per person in advance. Tickets will be $45 on the day of the event. Those who purchase their tickets by midnight, March 31, will receive a special bonus—a signed poster of Andy Fletcher’s renderings of the event’s attending locomotives. Posters can be picked up on the day of the event. A special Streamliners Celebration at the Station will be held the night of May 29 at the nearby Salisbury station, featuring live music, guest speakers and a BBQ and chicken dinner for $20/person. Regular daytime admission to Streamliners at Spencer for activities running May 30 through June 1 will be $30 for adults and $20 for children per day if purchased in advance. The price increases to $35 for adults and $25 for children per day if purchased on the day of the event. Nighttime photo shoots Thursday through Saturday will be $25 per person, per night. Combo tickets and group discounts will be available, along with discounts for N.C. Transportation Museum members, Norfolk Southern employees and Amtrak employees. More information about the day-to-day operations and ticket prices are available online at www.nctrans.org. The participation of all resident and visiting locomotives is subject to timely transportation and mechanical availability. Tickets are available online at www.nctrans.org or by calling (704) 636-2889 ext. 237 or ext. 257. (The N.C. Transportation Museum - 3/20)

JOIN AMTRAK IN CELEBRATION OF WHY TRAINS MATTER: Amtrak invites America to celebrate the many benefits trains bring to the nation at the seventh annual Nation Train Day on May 10, 2014. Trains are an integral part of daily American life and connect communities, provide jobs and economic development, support local businesses and attract funds for infrastructure improvement. From big cities to small towns, coast to coast and border to border, trains matter. In addition to events in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles, Amtrak is supporting events in many local markets across the country served by America's Railroad®. Event offerings will vary to include train equipment displays, family-friendly activities and local dignitaries.  "Trains have long been important to the growth and prosperity of our nation and today Amtrak supports our national economy and connectivity by moving America where it wants to go," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "Amtrak is America's Railroad. Trains came first, long before the interstate and the airport," said Mayor Todd Barton of Crawfordsville, Ind. "From a presidential candidate campaigning across the country to a young scholar leaving home for school, trains take us where we need to go. They are important and should be celebrated." Boardman added that rail travel is a vital transportation alternative that is cost-efficient, environmentally friendly and in high public demand.  In addition, intercity passenger trains matter because they connect rural communities with major metropolitan areas and afford passengers more than 500 destinations – an option that has become increasingly important as airline and bus companies reduce service to significant regions of America. Details on National Train Day events and information on how to host a National Train Day event are available at NationalTrainDay.com (Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - 3/20)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 15, 2014 with 289,375 total U.S. carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 255,991 units, up 11.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 545,366 carloads and intermodal units, up 7 percent compared with the same week last year. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, led by grain with 21,045 carloads, up 21 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year were led by motor vehicles and parts with 17,936 carloads, down 8 percent. For the first 11 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,009,897 carloads, even compared with the same point last year, and 2,677,098 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 11 weeks of 2014 was 5,686,995 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.1 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 73,218 carloads for the week, down 8 percent, and 52,296 intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 11 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 778,514 carloads, down 8.2 percent from the same point last year, and 559,409 intermodal units, down 0.5 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,910 carloads for the week, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,070 intermodal units, down 1.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 11 weeks of 2014 was 163,513 carloads, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year, and 104,675 intermodal units, down 1.3 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first eight weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 3,951,924 carloads, down 1.7 percent compared with the same point last year, and 3,341,182 intermodal trailers and containers, up 1.7 percent compared with last year (AAR - 3/20)

MTA MOVES FORWARD WITH VIDEO CAMERAS ON TRAINS: MTA Metro-North Railroad, on behalf of itself and MTA Long Island Rail Road, intends to move forward on a plan to install outward- and inward-facing video and audio recorders on its trains, following up on a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board. “The MTA is committed to safe operations at all its agencies,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, MTA Chairman and CEO. “We will be systematically implementing recommendations put forward by the NTSB and other regulators to ensure the best practices are adhered to throughout the MTA family.” Prospective vendors will be asked to design, manufacture, and deliver an on-board video recording system. The base order would cover the newest cars in the railroads’ fleets, Metro-North’s M-8s, both railroads’ M-7s and cab cars, as well as all locomotives. This includes 843 rail car cabs for Metro-North and 926 cars for LIRR. Because of the complexity of implementing such a system, the railroads on Monday will ask the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, their parent agency, to approve a type of procurement called a Request for Proposal rather than a simple low-bid contract, where price is the sole determining factor. The vendors will be evaluated on the basis of technical capability, past performance, organizational resources, experience of team members and cost. No cost estimate is yet available. If the board approves the use of the RFP process, the two railroads’ project managers and teams will develop the technical specifications, the scope of work and the contract documents. Metro-North’s Procurement Department will then advertise the project. Metro-North committed to install cameras on trains in its 100-day Action Plan issued after Joseph Giulietti became Metro-North’s new President on February 10, 2014. The primary purpose of the cameras is to aid in post-accident/incident investigations. Another function is to deter behaviors that could affect safe train operations. On February 18, 2014, the NTSB issued recommendation R-14-08 calling on Metro-North to install inward- and outward-facing video and audio recorders as a result of its investigation into a fatal derailment at Spuyten Duyvil on December 1, 2013. Meanwhile, both railroads are working together to procure and install Positive Train Control as quickly as possible, both railroads have made immediate improvements to signaling and speed controls after the Dec. 1 derailment, and both railroads are responsive to the all-agency safety changes announced by Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. (MTA - 3/19)

AMTRAK FY 2015 BUDGET REQUEST SEEKS CHANGE IN FEDERAL PASSENGER RAIL INVESTMENT : In its FY 2015 budget request to Congress, Amtrak is seeking a change in federal passenger rail investment and warns that continuation of current funding levels leave Northeast Corridor infrastructure vulnerable to a bigger, costlier and far more damaging failure than anything yet seen. “Infrastructure deterioration and changes in business patterns have reached a point where something has to change,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman. “If America wants a modern intercity passenger rail system, the problems of policy and funding must be addressed.” “Increased ridership, enhanced operating performance and stronger financial management are part of an improving Amtrak. It is time to consider a new paradigm for federal financial support,” said Tony Coscia, Amtrak board chairman. “The reality is that status quo federal funding levels put the Northeast Corridor infrastructure at increased risk of major failure with serious economic consequences for the nation.” “The nation cannot afford to let a railroad that carries half of Amtrak’s trains and 80 percent of the nation’s rail commuters fall apart,” Boardman stressed, noting the NEC is vital to the mobility, connectivity and economy of the entire Northeast region. Boardman explained a new federal policy and funding arrangement should create a significant and reliable multi-year capital investment program to reverse the decay of NEC infrastructure and support other intercity passenger rail projects. A strong federal commitment will allow Amtrak to plan and implement major multi-year projects such as replacing century-old NEC bridges and tunnels, and make critical capacity improvements such as the Gateway Program between New Jersey and New York. Boardman said that NEC revenues exceed operating costs by more than $300 million a year and are today used to cover some costs of state-supported and long-distance trains. To provide additional funding for NEC improvements, Congress should fully fund the operating and capital needs of the long-distance routes so the NEC revenues can be reinvested in the NEC. By dedicating NEC revenue to meet NEC needs, it could be leveraged to pay for debt service on loans to address the most urgent NEC infrastructure issues. It also could be used to finance other funding solutions such as public-private partnerships, grants of assistance, and state and commuter rail agreements. Boardman said long-distance trains have been a core federal responsibility since 1971, and Congress should fulfill its obligation by funding their full cost. Long-distance trains form the backbone of the Amtrak national system, connect small towns to major cities, support local economic development, deliver passengers to state-supported corridor trains and conduct interstate trade and commerce. They are vital to the communities and people they serve, and increasingly important as airlines and bus companies abandon significant regions of America. “It is clear that Americans want a national system of intercity passenger rail, and will continue to use it in greater numbers if we can provide it,” said Boardman. “Our work over the past decade proves this, but to maintain and improve that system will require both an increase in the overall capital levels and a real federal commitment to deliver the needed financing.” For FY 2015, Amtrak is requesting $1.62 billion in federal capital and operating support, an increase of approximately 16 percent from FY 2014 federal appropriations. The NEC Infrastructure Advisory Commission report details the growing risk to critical NEC infrastructure. A copy of the Amtrak FY 2015 budget request is attached. (Amtrak - 3/18)

AMTRAK AUTO TRAIN ADDS MORE COACH SEATS : In response to growing demand, Amtrak Auto Train is expanding capacity by offering more coach seats in time for spring and summer travel. Auto Train offers both coach and sleeper accommodations. Expanding capacity now means up to 60 additional coach seats are available for travel daily on Train 53 from Virginia and Train 52 from Florida. “The Auto Train is the most enjoyable way to travel between the Northeast and Florida while passengers relax and enjoy the scenery,” said Amtrak Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Matt Hardison. “This service continues to grow in popularity and Amtrak is responding with more seats.” To make a reservation, call 877-SKIP-I-95, go online at Amtrak.com or visit a staffed station. Auto Train is a unique service that allows passengers to travel with their personal vehicles including cars, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, and even small boats or jet-skis. It is the only such service in the U.S. and eliminates nearly 900 miles of driving for travelers between the Northeast and all points in Florida. Auto Train is the longest passenger train in the world with two locomotives and 40-plus passenger rail cars and vehicle carriers. Auto Train passengers can also purchase an upgrade to Priority Vehicle Offloading and their vehicle will be one of the first 20 offloaded from the train. Vehicle counts can total 200-300 per train, and this service helps passengers get to their destination sooner. Auto Train departs daily from both Lorton, Va. (near Washington, D.C.), and Sanford, Fla. (near Orlando), with up to 600 passengers. Amtrak passengers travel in wide, comfortable seats, and their vehicles likewise enjoy the journey in enclosed vehicle carriers. (Amtrak - 3/17)

FRA RELEASES RESULTS OF METRO NORTH SAFETY REVIEW: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced its findings and recommendations from an intensive 60-day comprehensive safety assessment of Metro-North Commuter Railroad. The assessment, known as Operation Deep Dive, found that Metro-North’s management emphasizes on-time performance to the detriment of safe operations and adequate maintenance of its infrastructure, resulting in a deficient safety culture, increased risk and reduced safety on the Metro-North system. The report requires Metro-North to submit plans to FRA within 60-days on how it will improve the effectiveness of its Safety Department and training programs. “Safety is our top priority, and this in-depth assessment should serve as a wake-up call to Metro-North as they work to make their operations safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Efficiency and on-time performance are important, but they cannot come before the safety of every passenger on board or those communities along the system.” The report instructs Metro-North to take the following actions to mitigate risk and to begin a turnaround of the railroad’s safety culture:
  • Effective immediately, Metro-North’s senior leadership must put safety front and center, and communicate and implement that priority throughout its organization.
  • Within 60 days, Metro-North shall submit to FRA a plan to improve its Safety Department’s mission and effectiveness, including providing appropriate in-person monitoring of field activities and personnel.
  • Within 60 days, Metro-North shall submit to FRA a plan to improve its employee training, ensuring that it develops and implements an effective training program for all operating departments.
The assessment directs Metro-North to address twenty-five (25) specific recommendations covering eight (8) safety critical concerns identified by FRA. These include:
  • Track safety standards
  • Railroad operating rules
  • Certification requirements for locomotive engineers and conductors
  • Safety training for roadway workers and employees who maintain rolling stock
  • Train control systems
  • Operations Control Center
  • Fatigue management for maintenance-of-way employees
“Safety is and must always be a railroad’s number one priority,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “It is essential that Metro-North ensure a safety culture that clearly prioritizes safety first – the traveling public deserves no less.” FRA announced Operation Deep Dive on December 16, 2013 following a train crash near Spuyten Duyvil Station that killed four people and injured nearly 70 others. The tragic accident is one of four notable accidents that occurred on the railroad in 2013. (FRA - 3/14)

GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES MBTA LATE NIGHT SERVICE START DATE : Governor Deval Patrick today joined Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey and MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, alongside business leaders and residents, to announce the start date for the MBTA Late Night Pilot Program. Beginning the night of Friday, March 28, 2014, the MBTA will run service 90 minutes longer on all subway and Key Bus Routes on Friday and Saturday nights. This expanded service will allow Boston to continue to compete among other world class cities that offer late night public transportation and make Boston an even more desirable place to live, work and play. “Late night T service is the result of listening to our citizens and trying to respond to their needs,” said Governor Patrick. “World class cities offer late night public transit, to support the workforce and a vibrant nightlife, and Boston is a world class city.” Late night service will operate as it does during the day, serving customers at the same stations and stops. All new trips will be scheduled and will appear on Google, phone apps and the MBTA website. The last Red, Orange, Blue and Green Line trains will depart downtown stations at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and approximately 1:00 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights. Extended late night service will operate approximately every 15-20 minutes in most cases, with more frequent service in the core of the system. Individual schedules for each station and route can vary, and customers are strongly encouraged to look at schedules before traveling. Regular rapid transit and bus fares will be charged on late night services. "My administration is committed to creating the kind of safe and vibrant late-night culture that's expected of a world-class city," said Mayor Walsh. "Transportation is a critical element to making that vision a reality. I applaud Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey and Dr. Scott for their work to bring back late night service for the visitors and residents of Boston." Late night service will also allow Boston employers to be better suited for recruiting in the technology sector in places like the Innovation District or Kendall Square, with the hope to attract and maintain top talent looking to not only build their careers, but enjoy the social lives they’ve built here as well. Likewise, service industry workers, the backbone of Greater Boston’s social economy who were previously unable to utilize the MBTA for their commute, will now be able to get home more affordably and, in turn, better improve their own lives and the lives of their families. And, as the top destination for academia in the country, Boston and its neighbors will keep attracting young people and young professionals to the many cultural and nighttime attractions the city provides, with a safer, less expensive way to get home. “We’ve heard our customers’ message loud and clear – they want more service, not less,” said Secretary Davey. “This pilot program is just one way we’re responding to that call and we’re so excited to see how the extended service improves the quality of life and economic vibrancy of the region.” To help cover the cost of the additional service, the MBTA has launched a sponsorship program and has partnered with leading businesses from the Greater Boston area. The Boston Globe, Boston Red Sox, Dunkin’ Donuts, Suffolk Construction and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association have signed on as the first sponsors of the late night service pilot program. The Future Boston Alliance (FBA) is launching a grassroots crowd-funding effort to support service as well. FBA will seed the effort with $5,000 and has set a goal of raising an additional $20,000 from residents and riders of the system through crowdsourcing efforts. For more information or to contribute visit: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/boston-and-late-nite-t-service-lets-do-it . In total, sponsors are contributing over $1.5 million in support to help cover the estimated $16 million cost of late night service. “Our customers are always asking for more service, and I am happy that we are able to bring extended weekend hours to them beginning on March 28,” said MBTA GM Scott. “From students to entrepreneurs to service employees, late night service will allow a wide cross-section of our vibrant population to better travel home from both work and play.” Real-time information for buses will also be available for the extended late night service. (MBTA - 3/13)

AAR REPORTS CRUDE OIL TRAFFIC UP FOR 2013, WEEK 10 TRAFFIC REMAINS MIXED: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported that U.S. Class I railroads originated 108,590 carloads of crude oil in the fourth quarter of 2013, bringing total Class I crude oil originations for the year to 407,642 carloads. This is a 74 percent increase over the 233,819 carloads originated in 2012. In 2013, crude oil accounted for 1.4 percent of total U.S. Class I originations. AAR also reported mixed U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 8, 2014 with 274,480 total U.S. carloads, down 1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 244,015 units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 518,495 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, such as petroleum and petroleum products with 14,779 carloads, up 11.3 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year such as motor vehicles and parts with 16,980 carloads, down 6.7 percent. For the first 10 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,270,522 carloads, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year, and 2,421,107 intermodal units, up 1.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 10 weeks of 2014 was 5,141,629 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.5 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 70,009 carloads for the week, down 11 percent, and 51,461 intermodal units, down 2.4 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 10 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 705,296 carloads, down 8.2 percent from the same point last year, and 507,113 intermodal units, down 1 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,162 carloads for the week, down 1.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,745 intermodal units, down 3.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 10 weeks of 2014 was 147,603 carloads, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year, and 95,605 intermodal units, up 1.2 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 10 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 3,573,421 carloads, down 1.9 percent compared with the same point last year, and 3,023,825 intermodal trailers and containers, up 0.9 percent compared with last year. (AAR - 3/13)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN UNVEILS NEW LOCOMOTIVE IN CELEBRATION OF GORAIL'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY: GoRail and Norfolk Southern announced the unveiling of its one-of-a-kind GoRail locomotive today to commemorate the 10th anniversary of GoRail, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of moving more freight by rail. Founded in 2004, GoRail mobilizes support for policies that would lead to more freight moving by rail and opposition to policies that would limit the freight railroads' ability to meet growing freight demand. The GoRail locomotive will enter into regular freight service on Norfolk Southern's system. "We are honored that Norfolk Southern has commissioned this special GoRail locomotive and are excited for its debut," said GoRail President Russell McGurk. "We believe it will help GoRail spread awareness about the many public benefits of rail, including more jobs, improved safety, less pollution and less energy consumption. When the public understands that America's privately owned freight railroads invest billions of dollars each year in the nation's rail network, so taxpayers don't have to, they are eager to get behind pro-rail policies." The SD60E model features a paint scheme combining the infinity lines of the Norfolk Southern livery with the tracks of the GoRail logo. The lines end in an arrow to depict movement, and the GoRail colors carry through the modified speed lines to show the unity of GoRail and Norfolk Southern, creating the look of land as seen from above and signifying freight movement. The GoRail locomotive joins Norfolk Southern's 30th anniversary fleet of 20 non-traditional locomotives painted in the schemes of key predecessor railroad companies and the veterans' locomotive painted to honor those who have served in the military and reserves. The GoRail locomotive was painted in Altoona, involving 14 Norfolk Southern employees using 60 gallons of primer and paint over a 40-hour period. "Our industry has a great story to tell, and GoRail does an excellent job of educating the public about the benefits and strengths of the American freight rail system and the continuing high levels of freight rail investment to drive safety, service and growth," said Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman. "We are pleased to help promote GoRail and their pro-rail mission." The unveiling of the GoRail locomotive (No. 6963) will take place at a reception on Wednesday, March 12 at Union Station in Washington, D.C., the evening preceding Railroad Day on Capitol Hill. Photos will then be posted to the GoRail and Norfolk Southern social media accounts. GoRail is a national non-profit grassroots organization founded in 2004 with the support of the nation's freight railroads and rail supply companies. GoRail unites rail stakeholders with community leaders and the public to support rail solutions for tomorrow's transportation challenges. (Randy Kotuby, NS - 3/12)

METRO-NORTH RESTORES SOME NEW HAVEN AND HARLEM LINE SERVICE FROM GRAND CENTRAL: MTA Metro-North Railroad is restoring some New Haven and Harlem line service from Grand Central Terminal after an explosion and building collapse next to Metro-North’s tracks running above Park Avenue in New York City. Customers who use the Hudson Line should take the B, D, and 4 or subway lines to 161 St and walk to Metro-North's Yankees - East 153rd Street station. Metro-North structural engineers have verified the integrity of the Park Avenue elevated structure. Two of the four tracks on the structure – the two farthest from the explosion site – have been restored to service after being cleared of debris, inspected for track and third rail integrity and approved for operations by Metro-North and the New York City Fire Department. As more tracks are restored, the level of train service will increase. Train speeds may also be reduced to protect nearby railroad workers and to limit vibrations at the explosion site. New Haven Line and Harlem Line customers should expect crowding and delays due to track limitations, with some local and express trains combined. The track configuration does not allow Hudson Line service to operate to and from Grand Central until more tracks are restored to service. Customers are urged to delay travel until later if possible. MTA New York City subway will cross-honor Metro-North tickets. Subway and Metro-North employees will assist customers to walk west from the B, D, and subway station at 161 St. to the Metro-North’s Yankees - East 153rd Street station for service to points north. Metro-North's Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines will cross-honor Hudson Line tickets. (Randy Kotuby, NS - 3/12)

SIGNIFICANT FEDERAL FUNDING RECOMMENDATION ANNOUNCED FOR RED LINE AND PURPLE LINE LIGHT RAIL PROJECTS: Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, Jr., announced that President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget includes a request to provide $900 million each for Maryland’s Red Line and Purple Line light rail projects through Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts Program, with $100 million for each project in Fiscal Year 2015. The recommendation is an important initial step to keep the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) on track to finalize a public-private partnership (P3) agreement for the Purple Line and to allow MTA to advertise construction contracts for the Red Line. “Today was a tremendous step for Maryland,” said Secretary Smith. “We thank the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration for their commitment to Maryland and for their confidence in us to deliver these two state-of-the-art light rail projects.” FTA’s New Starts program provides federal financial support for construction of major capital transit projects across the nation such as light rail lines and bus rapid transit projects. The Red Line and the Purple Line are two of only five new projects recommended for Full Funding Grant Agreements in this year’s budget. The final agreement will: define the cost and schedule for these transit projects, commit to a maximum level of federal financial assistance and establish the conditions under which MTA will manage the project. Last fall, the Purple Line was approved as a P3 by the Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW), and MTA is now working with four private sector teams who will submit proposals through a competitive process. In late 2014 or early 2015, MTA will select a preferred partner and recommend the final agreement to the BPW for its review and approval. MTA is currently advancing the Red Line through the design and right-of-way acquisition phase. By early 2015, MTA plans to advertise environmental improvement projects and utility relocation work associated with the Red Line.
  • About the Red Line: The Red Line is a 14.1-mile east-west corridor from Woodlawn to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus with 19 stations. It will serve areas in western Baltimore County/City and downtown Baltimore, including: Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, downtown Baltimore, Harbor East, Fell’s Point, Canton and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus in eastern Baltimore City and will connect with the existing Light Rail, Metro and MARC Train. The total project cost is $2.644 billion to be funded with a combination of federal, state and local monies. Thanks to the enactment of state law, the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, Governor O’Malley added $689 million in state funds for design and construction of the Red Line in MTA’s six-year capital budget as part of Maryland’s Consolidated Transportation Program for Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2019. Estimated ridership by 2035 is expected to be 54,000 passengers per day and construction is estimated to create 4,200 regional jobs during the six-year construction period.
  • About the Purple Line: The Purple Line is a 16-mile light rail line that runs east-west inside the Capital Beltway between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County with 21 stations planned that will provide direct connections to Metrorail’s Orange Line, Green Line and two branches of the Red Line, and the MARC Brunswick, Camden and Penn Lines. The total project cost is $2.371 billion, with the private sector expected to invest between $500 and $900 million. A combination of federal, state and local monies also will be used to fund the project. Thanks to the enactment of state law, the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, Governor O’Malley added $711 million in state funds for design and construction of the Purple Line in MTA’s six-year capital budget as part of Maryland’s Consolidated Transportation Program for Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2019. Estimated ridership by 2040 is expected to be more than 74,000 and construction is estimated to create 6,300 regional jobs during the five-year construction period.
(Maryland DOT - 3/11)

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP FORGED WITH PEMA AND CSX: The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) announced today that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CSX Transportation, a company that will allow PEMA to share operational information regarding the movement of hazardous materials in Pennsylvania. CSX Transportation, based in Jacksonville, Fla, is one of the nations' leading transportation suppliers. The company provides rail-based transportation services. As part of the three-year agreement, PEMA staff will be granted access to the CSX Transportation computer network that tracks rail movement. Authorized PEMA staff will be trained by CSX Transportation personnel on how to operate the system. "This agreement will further enhance our commitment to protecting public safety," said PEMA Director Glenn Cannon. "With direct access to the company's information, it greatly increases the ability of Pennsylvania Emergency Management to prepare for and respond to rail incidents." This agreement, along with other efforts such as the Hazardous Material Emergency Preparedness Grant Program and grant funding for specialized firefighting training, helps local communities increase their level of emergency preparedness. A copy of the MOU can be found under the Forms and Documents section of the PEMA homepage at www.pema.state.pa.us. (The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Randy Kotuby - 3/11)

GOV. PATRICK CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING OF YAWKEY STATION : Deval Patrick today celebrated the grand opening of the new Yawkey Commuter Rail Station and the start of enhanced Commuter Rail service on the Framingham/ Worcester Line. The Yawkey Commuter Rail station, which serves Fenway Park and the Longwood Medical area, is now fully accessible, allows for increased service along the Worcester/Framingham line and will expand economic opportunities for each city and town along the line. The Governor was joined by MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Timothy Murray and Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino. “The opening of Yawkey Station is the culmination of many years of cooperation and partnership to increase access to accessible, convenient and efficient public transportation between Worcester and Fenway,” said Governor Patrick. “This project shows that our growth strategy is real, not rhetorical. We must use public investment – of time, money and ideas – to stimulate growth and build opportunity for our residents. During construction, the tracks at Yawkey Commuter Rail Station were realigned to allow for double-track capacity, serving as the catalyst for expanded Framingham/Worcester Line service. This increases commuter options from Worcester to Boston, connecting the Commonwealth’s two largest cities, as well as along the entire length of the Framingham/Worcester Line. “By increasing service from Boston to Worcester, MassDOT continues to encourage economic growth in and around the region,” said Secretary Davey. “The Framingham/Worcester Line serves 13,000 customers daily and continues to demonstrate consistent growth, and MassDOT is confident that with this expansion, we will see that number climb.” With the new schedule, inbound departures from Worcester to Boston increase from 17 to 20 trains per day. Outbound departures from Boston to Worcester will also increase, from 16 to 20 trains per day. The service will also offer three new off-peak trains, including a new departure at 11:10 p.m. for those leaving the area later in the evening. Additionally, there will be an increase from two to three trains leaving Boston, scheduled to arrive in Worcester before 8:30 a.m. Likewise, there will be an increase in service during peak times, with a new train departing from South Station at 6:40 p.m., stopping at Yawkey and then ending in Worcester. An additional new outbound train will depart South Station at 9:25 p.m. before stopping at Yawkey. The 9:25 p.m. train will shorten the previous nearly two hour evening gap to one hour. “The renovated Yawkey Way Commuter Rail Station and the expanded Worcester/Framingham rail schedule will have a profound impact on many of our fans who use public transportation,” said Lucchino. “With 40 stops per day under the new schedule - more than twice as many as before – visitors from the Metrowest area will have greater flexibility getting to and from Fenway Park for games, events and visits to this vibrant neighborhood.” "Smart transportation investments have proven effective time and again in generating private sector job creation," said Murray. "Strengthening the transportation network between New England's two largest cities, Boston and Worcester, through commuter rail expansion will build on that legacy." Yawkey Commuter Rail station now has two fully accessible, full-length train platforms, four new elevators and an accessibility ramp. The main entrance is now on the new Yawkey Way Extension, which provides vehicular and pedestrian access off of Brookline Avenue through an area that had been used for Red Sox parking. In addition, new access to Maitland Street and Beacon Street was created, as well as a bike share station and new waiting areas with canopies and windscreens. The new Yawkey Station will provide more convenient, safer and more comfortable access to thousands of people living, working or visiting the Fenway neighborhood. “I am proud to say that Yawkey Commuter Rail station is now fully accessible to all wishing to use its services,” said GM Scott. “This is another important step in making the entire MBTA system fully ADA compliant.” The Framingham/Worcester Line was finalized with public participation from over 500 customer responses that were received in response to MBTA inquiries surrounding the expanded schedule. The Patrick Administration worked closely with members of the Legislature to make sure that the needs of our constituents were heard while crafting this improved schedule. "The new Yawkey Station is an important transportation enhancement for serving the Longwood Medical area and the Fenway neighborhood - both economic engines for our State," said Senator Will Brownsberger. "Today marks an important step in the continued revitalization of downtown Worcester,” said Representative Dan Donahue. “This increase in train service from Union Station is a long time coming for the city of Worcester. The city is poised to take off with housing and economic development projects throughout the city, and the added train service only amplifies what is already happening in Worcester." “To invest in public transit is to invest in the city’s economic future," said Boston City Councilor At Large Ayanna Pressley. "By improving our public transportation system, we are not only increasing access to economic opportunities, but also connecting communities and improving the quality of life for residents. I commend the Governor for his vision and leadership on this and thank the Mayor of Boston (past & present), as well as the many community partners, activists and development organizations who have worked tirelessly to see Yawkey Commuter Rail Station to fruition." Former Lieutenant Governor Murray, along with members of the Legislature from cities and towns along the Framingham/Worcester Line arrived to Monday’s event on the new 512 train that departs Worcester’s historic Union Station at 7:35 a.m. They were greeted at Yawkey Station just before 9:00 a.m. by Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey and the other guests. (MBTA - 3/10)

AMTRAK HIGHLIGHTS 2014 INFRASTRUCTURE WORK : During 2014, Amtrak plans to move forward on key improvement projects, including continued installation of positive train control safety technology, the start of major construction to upgrade Northeast Corridor high-speed rail and expansion of station accessibility for passengers with disabilities. “With limited federal capital funding we are doing the work that needs to be done to keep the railroad operating and taking action where we can to achieve safety, operational and passenger travel improvements,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman. “However, to truly realize the mobility and economic benefits offered by passenger rail, there must be dedicated federal funding to support a multi-year planning and construction program.”
  • POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL: In 2014, Amtrak is continuing its aggressive program to install PTC on an additional 1,200 track-miles beyond the approximately 530 track-miles where it is already in operation on some Amtrak-owned sections of the Northeast Corridor and all of its Michigan Line. Amtrak is also taking action to obtain needed radio spectrum to transmit data critical to make PTC operational in the new areas. PTC safety technology can control train movements to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed and certain human-caused incidents such as misaligned track switches. Amtrak is on target to meet a 2015 federal deadline.
  • NORTHEAST CORRIDOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL: In 2014, Amtrak is beginning major construction activities on a 23-mile section of the Northeast Corridor between Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., to increase top train speeds to 160 mph from 135 mph and improve reliability along this heavily used section. The project will upgrade track and various elements of the electrical and signal systems to support the higher speeds and reconfigure track switches at Penn Station New York to mitigate congestion issues.
  • ADA STATION ACCESSIBILITY: In 2014, Amtrak will advance its Accessible Stations Development Program with continuation of existing construction work at eight stations in three states and new construction activities at 21 stations in eight additional states. In addition, necessary ADA-related design work will be completed for 61 stations in 20 states.
  • GATEWAY PROGRAM, BRIDGES AND TUNNELS: Amtrak will also move forward in 2014 on other infrastructure projects including: various planning elements of the Gateway Program to expand track, tunnel and station capacity between Newark, N.J., and Penn Station New York; ongoing construction of a concrete casement through the Hudson Yards commercial development project to preserve a possible pathway for a future Hudson River Tunnel into Manhattan; and design work for replacing major Northeast Corridor and century-old assets such as the Susquehanna River Bridge (Md.), the Pelham Bay Bridge (N.Y.), the Connecticut River Bridge (Conn.) and the B&P Tunnel (Md.).
  • OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE WORK: By the end of its 2014 maintenance program, Amtrak expects to install or replace nearly 165,000 cross ties, 23 miles of rail, and several dozen track switches, turnouts and interlockings. The railroad is also upgrading numerous sections of its electrical and signal systems along the Northeast and Keystone Corridors, and performing various maintenance projects on property it owns in Chicago, New Orleans and elsewhere in the country. In addition, Amtrak forces will perform significant work as part of state-led projects to upgrade tracks and signal systems between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, Mich.; Poughkeepsie and Albany, N.Y.; and New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass.
(Amtrak - 3/10)

765 TO ATTEND TRAIN EXPO 2014: The Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan is welcoming the return of steam locomotive no. 765 for Train Expo 2014, a special summer event featuring trains, vintage aircraft, and automobiles. Owosso is home to restored Pere Marquette steam locomotive no. 1225. Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 will operate excursions during the event. The 765 last operated at the Steam Railroading Institute in 2011 during a fall-color excursion with no. 1225. No. 765 will operate one half-day excursion each day to Alma, pulling the 8AM departure on Friday and Sunday and the 2PM. departure on Saturday. These 4 hour trips will include photo runbys. Additionally, the 765 will be appearing in several night photo sessions during the event. Additional visiting steam locomotives will include Gramling Locomotive Works’ 0-4-0Ts Flagg Coal No. 26, and Lehigh Valley Coal No. 126, Little River Railroad 0-4-0T No. 1 and 4-6-2 No. 110, which will pull one-hour trains rides. No. 1225 and no. 765 will each pull half-day excursions from the expo. In addition to trains, the event will include vintage World War II aircraft, including B-17 and B-25 bombers, a C-47/DC-3 transport, and a P-51 Mustang fighter. There will also be a display of vintage automobiles. Tickets and more information are available at michigansteamtrain.com. (Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society - 3/07)

AMTRAK LAUNCHES NEW ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS: With ridership at a record 31.6 million in fiscal year 2013, Amtrak is highlighting the choice and benefits consumers have for travel with two new advertising campaigns promoting the National system and Northeast Regional Service. “The new campaigns offer us the opportunity to feature the benefits and amenities of long-distance trains and the convenience of our Northeast Regional Service,” said Amtrak Chief of Marketing and Advertising Programs John Lee. “From the heart of one big city to another or to destinations in hundreds of local communities across the country, Amtrak takes you where you want to go.” The new Amtrak National advertising campaign showcases the amenities offered by long-distance trains that contribute to a unique and comfortable alternative to automobile road trips. With headlines such as “A better journey starts with a better ride,” “The art of travel redefined,” “Show the road who is boss” and “Take a whole new view of travel,” the new campaign promotes the advantages of rail travel vis-à-vis an automobile, such as private sleeper service, panoramic windows, and wide seats with extra headroom and legroom. The sign-off for these ads, “Making 500 destinations a far better ride,” speaks to the breadth and connectivity of the Amtrak network. The National campaign includes radio, print, digital, mobile and out of home media elements. In fiscal year 2013, Amtrak long-distance routes combined had the best year in 20 years with 4.8 million passengers The new Northeast Regional advertising campaign promotes the action-oriented cities along the route and symbolically showcases the train arriving in the middle of the action. The ads visually depict the Amtrak train getting you to the action at a variety of events and attractions including an art gallery, music concert, theatre performance, shopping mall, restaurant, and sports arena/basketball game. They feature headlines highlighting a benefit of train travel such as a train at a basketball game with the headline “The only driving here should be to the basket,” and another ad with the train at a concert has the headline “Roll in ready to rock out.” The Northeast Regional campaign is featured in print, digital and mobile media. Northeast Regional Service set a new ridership record with more than eight million riders in fiscal year 2013. Northeast Corridor passengers will experience more reliable and efficient service over the next two years as Amtrak puts in service 70 new advanced technology locomotives. By promoting the benefits of intercity rail travel, both of these campaigns provide brand support for all Amtrak services nationwide and are also readily adaptable to promote a specific region’s markets and services. Draftfcb New York worked in conjunction with Amtrak to develop the campaigns. (Amtrak - 3/06)

AAR REPORTS MIXED TRAFFIC FOR FEBRUARY, INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed U.S. rail traffic for the month of February 2014, with carload volume decreasing and intermodal volume increasing compared with February 2013. Intermodal traffic in February totaled 993,807 containers and trailers, up 1.1 percent (10,729 units) compared with February 2013, which represents the 51st-consecutive year-over-year monthly increase for intermodal volume. U.S. carload originations totaled 1,100,858 in February 2014, down 1.1% (12,061 carloads) from February 2013. Nine of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in February over the same month last year. Commodities with the biggest carload increases last month included grain, up 12.3 percent or 8,696 carloads, and grain mill products, up 10.1 percent or 3,645 carloads. Commodity categories with carload declines last month included coal, down 3.5 percent or 15,571 carloads from February 2013, and primary metal products, down 7.2 percent or 3,092 carloads. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 5,186 carloads or 0.9 percent in February 2014 over the same month last year. “It would be nice to be able to separate out the effects of the harsh winter on rail traffic, but we can’t do that. We can probably expect improvements in the rail numbers in the months ahead, assuming that the weather and the economy cooperate,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “In the meantime, crude oil has become a significant part of the railroad business. Railroads know how important it is to move crude oil safely, and they are committed to continually searching for ways to make this happen.” AAR today also reported increased rail traffic for the week ending March 1, 2014. U.S. railroads originated 287,294 carloads last week, up 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 257,710 units, up 3.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 545,004 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including: grain, with 19,746 carloads, up 14.3 percent, and nonmetallic minerals and products, with 31,793 carloads, up 11.5 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic were led by metallic ores and metals, with 23,863 carloads, down 5.2 percent. For the first nine weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,446,042 carloads, down 0.3 percent from the same point last year, and 2,177,092 intermodal units, up 1.2 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first nine weeks of 2014 was 4,623,134 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.4 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 71,203 carloads for the week, down 11.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 54,344 intermodal units, up 3 percent compared with 2013. For the first nine weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 635,287 carloads, down 7.9 percent from the same point last year, and 455,652 intermodal units, down 0.8 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 14,726 carloads for the week, down 2.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,455 intermodal units, down 11.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first nine weeks of 2014 is 132,441 carloads, up 1.5 percent from the same point last year, and 85,860 intermodal units, down 1 percent. Combined North American rail volume for the first nine weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 3,213,770 carloads, down 1.8 percent compared with the same point last year, and 2,178,604 trailers and containers, up 0.8 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 3/06)

STREAMLINERS AT SPENCER UPDATE: The 17th locomotive has joined the N.C. Transportation Museum's upcoming Streamliners at Spencer event, May 29 - June 1. The event, featuring these classic cab units gathered around the Bob Julian Roundhouse, will also feature additional exhibits for attendees, including the N.C. DOT display train and the Amtrak Exhibit Train. The Iowa Pacific #515 is the latest locomotive to join the Streamliners at Spencer roster. The 61-year-old engine has enjoyed a long history on the rails, pulling passengers and freight through both the cold winters of Chicago and the desert heat of Arizona. These days the engine wears the colors of Iowa Pacific, inspired by the paint scheme of the Illinois Central Railroad. (N.C. Transportation Museum, Scott Snell - posted 3/06)

MBTA GREEN LINE EXTENSION GETS NOT FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA: President Obama in his budget released yesterday recommended federal funding to support the Green Line Extension (GLX), marking a significant milestone for a project that will bring thousands of new jobs to the region and create new economic opportunity. The President’s proposal includes $100 million in Federal Fiscal Year 2015 and paves the way for agreement with the federal government for greater support over the next several years. “I thank President Obama and his Administration for recognizing the critical importance of completing the Green Line Extension,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “This historic commitment of federal New Starts Program funds, when matched with state contributions, will fulfill a promise made during construction of the Central Artery Project and complete the long-awaited extension of rail service to Somerville and Medford. With the first phase of construction already underway, we are already clearly seeing the economic opportunity and jobs created through this project. This wise federal and state investment will unlock the potential economic growth along the new Green Line corridor and leave a legacy of greater mobility for residents and smart environmental benefits in one of the Commonwealth’s most densely-populated areas.” Earlier this year, the Patrick Administration requested that the federal government fund 50 percent of the $1.428 billion project. The Green Line Extension project is an initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).This important project will extend existing MBTA Green Line service from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. “We have been working closely with the Obama Administration on the Green Line Extension and this is an important step forward in securing the federal funding necessary for construction,” stated Congressman Mike Capuano, a member of the House Transportation Committee. “The environmental and economic benefits of extending the Green Line are tremendous and residents are overwhelmingly supportive of it. Today’s news brings us closer to the day when commuters can enjoy expanded transit service.” The GLX project will greatly improve public transit service in some of the most densely-populated municipalities of the Commonwealth. Among its many benefits, the Green Line Extension project will provide new and better opportunities for residents and visitors to travel within their communities and within the region, address longstanding transportation inequities. It will also result in fewer automobiles on local roads and help combat greenhouse gas emissions and other components of air pollution. “The Green Line Extension offers Somerville and the region both economic justice and environmental justice, connecting residents with jobs that pay a livable wage and health care while reducing the number of cars on the road and pollution in the air we all breathe, as well shifting us to a more sustainable mode of transit,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Somerville owes thanks to President Obama and Congressman Michael Capuano for committing in this budget to economic and environmental justice for our residents and to smart, long-term infrastructure investments that will build the 21st century transportation system we need to have a 21st century economy. This commitment needs local, state and federal government working together toward a common goal, and we are fortunate to have our partners in Washington fighting to make the Green Line Extension a reality, along with Gov. Patrick, Sec. Davey, the MassDOT Board of Directors and all our state partners. Our 20-year comprehensive SomerVision plan sets goals of creating 30,000 new jobs and 6,000 new homes in Somerville, all while creating walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented neighborhoods that reduce our reliance our cars and boost our economy, both in our city and across the region. The Green Line Extension is crucial to reaching those goals and investing in it today means billions of dollars pumping through the Massachusetts economy in the years to come.” MassDOT has already begun work on the project with early action bridge and roadway upgrades currently underway in Somerville and Medford. Major utility relocation and site preparation work is scheduled to begin later this year with full construction commencing in the spring of 2015. (Massachusetts Department of Transportation - 3/05)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN DECORATES LOCOMOTIVE FOR GORAIL: Norfolk Southern is commemorating the 10th anniversary of "GoRail". with a specially decorated locomotives. The railroad has lettered SD60E 6963 with GoRail markings on the each side of the carbody. GoRail was organized 10 years ago to promote the public benefits of shipping more freight by rail. (NS - 3/04)

AMTRAK: NEW WINTER PARK, FLA., STATION A GREAT COMMUNITY INVESTMENT: Today, Amtrak joined the City of Winter Park, Florida Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, and community leaders for the grand opening of the new Winter Park Train Station. Amtrak issued the following statement: “We are proud Winter Park is an Amtrak-served community and look forward to having our Silver Meteor and Silver Star trains stop at this great new station. “A well-planned passenger rail train station like this is one of the best investments a community can make as it seeks to expand its appeal as a place for tourism and business investment and also cultivate civic pride. “The new station, with both Amtrak and SunRail commuter rail service, will provide a long-term viable solution for needed mobility and will bring many economic benefits to the community for years to come. “Amtrak service at Winter Park provides connectivity for travelers south to Miami and north to New York and dozens of exciting destinations in between. Last year, more than 30,000 passengers traveled to and from Winter Park, an increase of 40 percent since fiscal year 2002.” . (Amtrak - 3/03)

RARITAN VALLEY LINE TRAINS TO PENN STATION NEW YORK: Today NJ Transit commenced through Raritan Valley Line service to and from Penn Station New York. Five daily round trip trains operate from Raritan to New York. These trains arrive in New York between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on weekdays; and depart between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Due to the lack of capacity, NJ Transit will not offer rush hour through service. However, it is considering through service during weekday evenings. Also, no weekend through service is offered due to weekend maintenance of the North River Tunnels. NJ Transit is utilizing its fleet of dual model ALP45DP diesel-electric/electric locomotives for the new service. (Bernie Wagenblast - 3/03)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES INSPECTION BLITZ TO PROTECT NEW YORKERS FROM POTENTIANL ACCIDENTS INVOLVING VOLATILE CRUDE OIL: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that state officials have launched a series of inspections to safeguard New York’s residents, communities, waterways and lands from potential serious incidents involving the shipment of volatile crude oil by rail throughout the state. Working with federal authorities throughout this week, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) participated in a series of inspections at the Port of Albany and its adjacent rail yard, as well as inspections in Albany and Buffalo along rail tracks and in rail cars. In addition, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is conducting inspections today at the Port of Albany. “We are taking action to safeguard our communities from the potential risk of crude oil shipments by launching more aggressive and enhanced enforcement of rail safety,” said Governor Cuomo. “This inspection blitz has resulted in immediate improvements to some of the State’s busiest rail sites. In addition to performing these and other inspections with our federal partners, my administration will continue to urge Washington to enact improved rail and port safety practices that are both mandatory and enforceable.” NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said, “I want to thank the Federal Railroad Administration for partnering with us to develop this important initiative. Under the direction of Governor Cuomo, we are responding to the increased shipment of crude oil by rail with a rigorous, coordinated enforcement effort along our rail lines. The safety of New Yorkers and our communities is our top priority.” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, "DEC is committed to protecting public health and the environment in the communities near rail and water transport operations and oil storage facilities. Inspections are critical tools to ensure facilities comply with stringent safety regulations. Governor Cuomo is a leading advocate in calling for improved safety of crude oil transport and DEC will continue to work with state, federal and local partners to protect communities and New York's air, land and waters." These inspections stem from the growing concern regarding the volatility of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and its significantly increased shipment by rail throughout New York State. Just last month, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order directing several State agencies to do a top-to-bottom review of safety procedures and emergency response preparedness related to shipments of rail, ship and barge shipments of crude oil following several severe accidents, including the deaths of dozens of people, the evacuation of thousands and devastation of entire communities. This review is due by April 30. Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order also directed agencies to work with federal partners to enhance preparedness and oversight. The federal government has nearly exclusive regulatory authority over railroad transportation. The first round of inspection efforts concludes just one week after Cuomo Administration officials traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with federal transportation authorities to express their concerns about the safety of New York State communities due to the increased transport of Bakken crude oil throughout the state. On Friday, Feb. 21, state environment and transportation officials met with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), FRA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, resulting in an agreement to coordinate and increase federal and state efforts to inspect rail and port facilities to safeguard the surrounding communities and the environment from oil spills. This inspection initiative will continue in the weeks and months to come and will also serve to help inform the state’s ongoing review, as directed in Governor Cuomo’s executive order. As part of the inspection effort, federal and state officials engaged in multiple inspections throughout the week:
  • Kenwood Rail Yard (Albany) and Frontier Rail Yard (Buffalo): On Feb. 27, inspectors from the NYSDOT spearheaded an inspection blitz at two major rail yards with officials from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The inspectors did a mechanical inspection of brakes and other safety equipment, including tanker cars that carry crude oil, as well as the rails, ties and other equipment. They also performed a hazardous materials inspection to ensure that equipment is in line with regulations, including valves, valve closures, and placards and decals that describe the cargo being shipped. They also checked dates for the last tank inspection and pressure test. The inspections on this date took place at the Kenwood Rail Yard in Albany (owned by Canadian Pacific Railroad) and the Frontier Rail Yard in Buffalo (owned by CSX). These two rail yards are two of the most heavily utilized rail locations in New York State for the transport of crude oil. The Kenwood rail yard, adjacent to the Port of Albany, serves as the critical transfer site of crude oil from rail cars to ships and barges. The findings of that examination are considered typical for the type of inspection, and were either addressed immediately or are in the process of being remedied. At the Kenwood Yard in Albany, the NYSDOT-FRA team inspected 120 T-111 type tank cars, and found three defective wheels and 3 defective brake shoes. Those defects must be addressed before the cars can leave the yard. The team also inspected two miles of track and 31 switches, and found 36 defects, including loose rail joints, fasteners and a broken joint bar. All of these defects were immediately repaired by railroad personnel. The team at the Frontier Rail Yard in Buffalo inspected 198 T-111 type tank cars, three locomotives and one yard switcher. Two of the tank cars had wheel defects, and a few others were found with brake shoe defects. The team also inspected four miles of track and 13 switches. Seven defects were found, including a broken rail that may require that section of rail to be taken out of service. The railroad has 30 days to remediate the track defects. In addition, the FRA has issued a violation to Green Plains Renewable Energy of Nebraska for two non-compliant tank cars. Inspectors found the two tank cars, which were carrying ethanol, did not have their bottom outlet nozzle caps secured. The violations could result in a civil penalty. Green Plains is the shipping company, and not the rail carrier.
  • Kenwood Rail Yard – Albany: On Feb. 25, DOT participated in inspections at the Kenwood Rail Yard adjacent to the Port of Albany with the FRA, Canadian transportation officials (Transport Canada) and CP Rail to inspect rail wheels. The inspection focused on wheel defects that have been identified on tanker cars currently in use for crude oil transport. The observed defects are characterized by excessive ware of the steel wheel surfaces on these tanker cars, which is an issue of concern in both the U.S. and in Canada. The inspections uncovered “shell type” wheel defects, a condition observed on a number of steel wheel sets which have recently been removed from tank cars in the Kenwood yard. This condition is characterized by the degradation and loss of the hardened steel wheel surface, resulting in flat areas which can cause a pounding effect on the rails. Although these wheel conditions are not known to have contributed to any derailment incidents to date, federal, state and Canadian officials are examining the specific cause of these shell defects out of an abundance of caution for potential collateral defects.
  • Port of Albany: Today, DEC initiated a thorough, multi-week inspection process of Global Partners’ major oil storage facility at the Port of Albany. Today’s reconnaissance inspection included visual observations of storage tanks and their associated pipelines. The inspection process will focus on all aspects of the facility to ensure it will be able to contain oil discharges and prevent them from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines. Inspectors will evaluate the condition and integrity of storage containers as well as secondary containment measures such as liners, ditches, sumps or ponds to prevent spills from impacting groundwater or surface waters. DEC will also examine the ability of spill response organizations to begin recovery efforts immediately after receiving notification.
  • Other NYS-led Safety Efforts: In addition to this analysis, Governor Cuomo last month directed several state agencies to petition the federal government to take immediate actions to protect the State’s communities and natural resources from these potential disasters. These needed changes include the expedited adoption of permanent federal regulations based upon a comprehensive reassessment of the safety of rail, barge and ship transportation of crude oil, the implementation of stronger tank car safety and design standards, and upgraded measures to prevent and respond to crude oil spills on our rivers. Since that time, and at the urging of Cuomo Administration officials, federal authorities have reached an agreement with railroad operators to increase inspections, improve safety with lower speeds and new technology to find the safest routes, expedite rail safety standards and improve emergency preparedness and response along the rail lines. Also, earlier this week, the USDOT issued an emergency order requiring all shippers moving Bakken crude oil to test their product to ensure it is properly classified before transit.
(New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo) - 2/28)

CANADIAN NATIONAL SELLS DEUX-MONTAGNES RAIL LINE TO AMT: CN today closed the sale of a rail line principally used by Agence métropolitaine de transports (AMT) commuter trains between Deux-Montagnes and Montreal's Central Station to AMT for C$97 million. AMT, a government agency that reports to the Quebec Transport Minister, oversees public transport services in the Greater Montreal area. AMT is acquiring CN's entire Deux-Montagnes Subdivision, which runs from St-Eustache to the entrance of Montreal's Central Station, including the Mount Royal tunnel, a rail corridor of 21 miles in total. CN will retain freight operating rights over a portion of the line sold to AMT where freight customers are located. (CN - 2/28)

AMTRAK COMES HOME TO DENVER UNION STATION : Amtrak service has resumed at the historic Denver Union Station at 1701 Wynkoop St., starting with the scheduled 7:10 p.m. departure tonight of the eastbound California Zephyr to Chicago. The first westbound California Zephyr to use the landmark station is scheduled tomorrow morning at 8:05 a.m. to the San Francisco Bay. Amtrak had been serving Denver passengers at a temporary location on 21st St. since 2011. This made way for the redevelopment of the historic building and construction of a new commuter rail station and underground bus concourse. Renovation inside Union Station is not yet finished, so Amtrak passengers will access the waiting room, ticketing and baggage office by following signs to the track-side of the building. From there, passengers will follow signs to the newly constructed passenger platform, under the large white canopy, where they will load and unload from Amtrak trains. Access to the new Amtrak facility will be from the front of the building when construction is completed in July. “We are looking forward to bringing the California Zephyr back to its historic home and for the entire project to be complete,” said Jim Brzezinski, Amtrak Route Director for the train. “Amtrak passengers will see just a hint of what’s in store at this magnificent building and we hope they return when we celebrate the grand re-opening later this year.” Denver passengers also use Amtrak Thruway Buses to connect with the Amtrak Southwest Chief at Raton, N.M. That service is marked with signs and will operate across from Union Station on Wynkoop St. until the underground bus concourse is finished. “Construction will still be very active in and around the historic building so passengers are urged to leave themselves enough time to navigate the construction congestion,” said Union Station Project Manager Jerry Nery of Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD). Amtrak operates two trains daily through Denver – the westbound California Zephyr (Train 5) and the eastbound California Zephyr (Train 6). The trains run between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay city of Emeryville, via Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City and Reno., Crossing the Rocky and Sierra mountain ranges, Amtrak passengers Enjoy the journey® on bi-level Superliner railcars with wide, reclining coach seats, sleeping cars, a Sightseer Lounge Car with wrap-around windows, dining and café car services. As always, Amtrak has special provisions aboard the trains and at stations for passengers with disabilities. There are no changes to Amtrak schedules associated with the resumption of service at Denver Union Station. Amtrak served more than 108,000 Denver passengers last year. Although there will be no passenger parking at the new location, there are numerous long and short- term parking lots and garages around Union Station. For more information, visit the DowntownDenver.com. website or see the attached fact sheet for directions. The return of Amtrak service to the station and the establishment of commuter rail by RTD are key elements of the creation of a bustling mixed-use, transit-oriented hub in and around a building with a bright future and a glorious past. According to the Amtrak-sponsored GreatAmericanStations.com . website, Union Station was built in 1881 at a cost of $525,000 and was partially rebuilt after a fire in 1894 destroyed the central section. A larger Beaux-Arts style central waiting room made of Colorado granite was built in 1914 as rail traffic continued to increase. The plaster arches that line the walls of the room have 2,300 carved Columbine flowers. The Union Station Neighborhood Co. was selected as the master development team to lead this significant redevelopment and preservation effort. This station will ultimately become the connection point for Amtrak, light and commuter rail, local, regional and intercity buses and other public and private transportation modes. (Amtrak - 2/28)

MTA TO OPEN EXPANDED YAWKEY STATION IN MARCH: The MBTA plans to open the rebuilt Yawkey commuter rail station in Boston next month, clearing the way for the transit agency to boost service across the entire Framingham-Worcester line, officials announced Wednesday (MBTA - 2/27)

AAR REPORTS INCREASES WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 22, 2014 with 281,678 total U.S. carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 253,358 units, up 6.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 535,036 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 22,076 carloads, up 29.7 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included coal with 109,295 carloads, down 3.9 percent. For the first eight weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,158,748 carloads, down 0.5 percent from the same point last year, and 1,919,382 intermodal units, up 0.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first eight weeks of 2014 was 4,078,130 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 70,152 carloads for the week, down 9.8 percent, and 53,162 intermodal units, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first eight weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 564,084 carloads, down 7.4 percent from the same point last year, and 401,308 intermodal units, down 1.4 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 16,003 carloads for the week, down 2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,818 intermodal units, down 1.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first eight weeks of 2014 was 117,715 carloads, up 2 percent from the same point last year, and 76,405 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first eight weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 2,840,547carloads, down 1.9 percent compared with the same point last year, and 2,397,095 intermodal trailers and containers, up 0.5 percent compared with last year. (AAR - 2/27)

AMTRAK DEBUTS FIRST-EVER #AMTRAKLIVE TRAIN : More than 30 digital leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs will participate in #AmtrakLIVE, an inspiring train journey on the Texas Eagle from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, March 5 – 7, 2014. “AmtrakLIVE will have amazing scenery, engaging collaboration and the opportunity to explore and be inspired – it’s all part of the Amtrak long-distance experience,” said Amtrak Director of Social Media Julia Quinn. “Amtrak provides customers a one-of-a-kind experience, making train travel the perfect choice for like-minded communities to explore the country together. AmtrakLIVE is all about creativity.” The #AmtrakLIVE onboard participants will be a diverse mix of adventurous thought leaders including: BJ Mendelson, author and viral marketer; Benni Leigh, Head of Lifestyle at Makers Studio; and Sarah Austin of Pop17. The selected social media influencers will collaborate and share the scenic views of the Southwest from a reserved observation car on the Texas Eagle. Participants will provide updates from the #AmtrakLIVE adventure on Twitter and Instagram via #AmtrakLIVE. Fans and followers can also interact with the travelers by using the special hashtag. The program builds off of the company’s recent viral #AmtrakResidency campaign for writers and its history of providing group travel experiences for people ranging from extreme skiers to adventurous families. Additional details on the #AmtrakResidency program will be provided in a formal announcement later this week. The Texas Eagle is one of 15 long-distance trains and part of a national network that provides service to small towns and big cities across America. In addition to providing mobility and connectivity, Amtrak provides economic opportunities, helping communities across America to grow and prosper. For more information on Amtrak and the #AmtrakLIVE experience, visit blog.amtrak.com . (Amtrak - 2/26)

AMTRAK EXHIBIT TRAIN CROSS-COUNTRY TOUR ON TRACK FOR 2014 : For the third consecutive year, Amtrak is showcasing its past, present and future in a traveling Exhibit Train that will make various stops to communities around the country. The Exhibit Train allows visitors to take a self-guided tour to catch a glimpse of more than four decades of history of America’s Railroad® providing mobility and connectivity to the nation. The first stop of the 2014 tour will be at the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, Ariz. on March 1 and 2 to complement their 30th anniversary celebration. Since the train’s inception in 2011, new displays have been added such as workable signals, interactive virtual sleeping accommodation tours and trivia with returning favorite displays including the locomotive stand and horns. In addition, it features photos, uniforms, vintage advertising and memorabilia from Amtrak’s beginning in 1971 to today’s modern-sleeping cars and high-speed rail service. Exclusive Amtrak merchandise will also be available for purchase. The Exhibit Train includes two locomotives, three renovated baggage cars and one bistro car, all with historic paint schemes. For most stops, the Amtrak Veterans’ Locomotive will lead the train. Introduced in 2013 and featuring a patriotic paint scheme, it is a tribute to our servicemen and women and supports the company’s goal that 25 percent of new hires will be from the military by 2015.
  • March 1-2 Arizona Railway Museum Chandler, Ariz.
  • March 22 Santa Fe Railyard Sante Fe, N.M.
  • April 12-13 Amtrak Station, Topeka, KS Topeka, Kan.
  • April 26-27 Amtrak Station, Lincoln, NE Lincoln, Neb.
  • May 3 Los Angeles Union Station, 75th Anniversary Celebration Los Angeles, Calif.
  • May 9-10 National Train Day/Station Dedication, Amtrak Station Longview, Texas
  • May 17-18 Cheyenne Depot Museum Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • May 30-June 1 North Carolina Transportation Museum Spencer, N.C.
  • June 12-14 National Railroad Historical Society Meeting Springdale, Ark.
  • July 19-20 Delaware State Fair Harrington, Del.
  • August 1-3 Rockland Lobster Fest Rockland, Maine
  • August 23-24 Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Essex, Conn.
  • September 13 Glory Days, Amtrak Station, White River Junction White River Junction, Vt.
  • September 27-28 Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Cumberland, Md.
  • October 4 100th Anniversary, Memphis Central Station Memphis, Tenn.
  • October 18-19 Virginia Transportation Museum Roanoke, Va.
  • November 1-2 Kansas City Union Station Kansas City, Mo. .
(Amtrak - 2/25)

CSX J&L TUNNEL PROJECT EARNS TWO ENGINEERING AWARDS: CSX Corporation today announced that its J&L Tunnel Modification Project in Pittsburgh has won the Project of the Year Award from the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP) and the Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania (ACEC/PA). These awards recognize the J&L Tunnel Project's safe completion, sustainability, cost-effectiveness and community benefits. Completed in late 2013, the J&L Tunnel Project increased the vertical clearance of a 130-year-old tunnel running through Pittsburgh's SouthSide Works, a mixed-use residential and commercial development. CSX worked closely with public officials, local businesses and residents to minimize noise and disruption during construction. Upon completion of the tunnel work, CSX restored trees and plantings, and invested in landscaping improvements which left the overlying Tunnel Park a more usable recreational space.  "The J&L Tunnel Project is a great example of CSX's commitment to invest in infrastructure that supports American businesses and growth while respecting the communities in which we operate," said Randy Cheetham, regional vice president, CSX Transportation. "We have a long history in the Pittsburgh community, and are proud to invest here to keep the Pittsburgh region moving for many years to come." The J&L Tunnel Project is part of CSX's National Gateway, a public-private partnership to create a double-stack freight rail corridor between Mid-Atlantic seaports and the Midwest.  Through the National Gateway, CSX continues to invest in infrastructure projects that support expected increases in intermodal freight rail traffic. In Pittsburgh, CSX recently unveiled a $50 million proposal to redevelop the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (P&LE) Railroad Yard in McKees Rocks and Stowe Township into a new intermodal rail facility. In Washington, D.C., CSX is working closely with local and federal authorities to evaluate alternatives for the more than 100-year-old Virginia Avenue Tunnel, a major chokepoint on the nation's rail network. The J&L Tunnel was constructed in the 1880s as part of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad line to allow trains beneath the former J&L Steel Company's Pittsburgh Works Southside facility. Today, the tunnel is an important component of CSX's freight rail infrastructure and a critical transportation link for the Pittsburgh regional economy. The ESWP Project of the Year Award aims to advance the professions of engineering, architecture and applied sciences through its activities and commitment to public service, recognizing four exemplary projects across the state each year. The J&L Tunnel Project earned the award in the Commercial category for its safety, cost-effectiveness, and ability to deliver long-term economic benefits to the local community. The Diamond Awards for Engineering Excellence from the ACEC/PA celebrates the achievements of member firms who have demonstrated innovation, a commitment to sustainable practices, economic value and superior client service (Randy Kotuby, CSX- 2/25)

PENNSYLVANIA RAIL FREIGHT GRANTS: Governor Tom Corbett announced today that 33 rail freight improvement projects that will help sustain more than 43,000 jobs across Pennsylvania were approved today for funding from three PennDOT-managed programs. "Pennsylvania has more operating railroads than any other state, and investing in our rail freight network keeps these invaluable assets in prime position to generate economic growth and jobs,'' Corbett said. "Improving rail networks not only spurs our economy, it also increases safety by helping to ease traffic on our highways." The State Transportation Commission (STC) voted to approve $33.4 million for 15 projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and 14 projects through the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP). RTAP is a capital budget grant program funded with bonds and RFAP is underwritten through the new Multi-Modal Fund, created by Act 89. In November, Corbett signed Act 89, a far-reaching transportation program that clears the way for significant investments in all transportation modes. Also, the STC approved $1.3 million for four projects from Marcellus Shale impact fees designated for distribution through PennDOT's Bureau of Rail Freight, Ports and Waterways. For more information, visit www.dot.state.pa.us .
  • RTAP Projects: Allegheny County Allegheny Valley Railroad Co. -- $1.2 million to construct 4,500 feet of track for a new interchange siding with the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway at Bruceton, Pa.
  • Berks County: Redevelopment Authority of Berks County -- $952,839 to rehabilitate and expand rail resources to accommodate a new rail-shipment customer.
  • Blair, Centre, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland counties: SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority -- $1.8 million to rehabilitate nine bridges on five short-line rail systems to support 315,000-pound cars.
  • Bucks County: Bucks County Railroad Preservation & Restoration Corp. -- $1.8 million to replace rail.
  • Clinton County: South Avis Realty -- $2.5 million to reconstruct the existing rail yard and construct additional track.
  • Crawford County: Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County -- $4 million to construct a 7,000-foot unit train loop track and a 400-foot industrial track siding for a new tenant in the Keystone Regional Industrial Park.
  • Dauphin County Mittal Steel USA Railways Steelton & Highspire -- $1.9 million to rehabilitate 14,242 feet of track, including 27 turnouts.
  • Lackawanna County: Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Rail Authority -- $674,800 to purchase and install 8,000 ties and 7,715 linear feet of rail.
  • Luzerne County: Medley Investments -- $940,310 to relocate CPR's mainline switch, construct 1,050-foot new siding, install a concrete pad for loading and unloading and establish a stone/gravel storage area.
  • Mercer County: Hodge Foundry, Inc. -- $524,514 to construct a new 460-foot rail siding on the CN/Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad Co. mainline.
  • McKean County: Casella Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc. -- nearly $7 million to construct a rail siding transfer station along the Buffalo & Pittsburgh line.
  • Montgomery County: Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad -- $539,000 to install 6,000 cross ties and surface 16,000 feet of track.
  • Warren County Allegheny Eastern Railroad Inc. -- $2.3 million to re-establish and upgrade tracks in the Warren yard.
  • Wyoming County: Procter and Gamble Paper Products Co. -- $250,600 to construct track, replace cross ties, replace timber, install ballast and improve the line's surface.
  • Westmoreland County: Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation -- $1.1 million for the first of three phases for a project replacing 2.4 miles of worn rail with rail that will eliminate joints.
RFAP Projects:
  • Allegheny County: Leetsdale Industrial Corp. -- $700,000 for the last phase of track rehabilitation in the industrial park, including turnout replacement, welding, upgrading rail and rail alignment. The Techs Industries, Inc. -- $229,320 to replace crossties, improve drainage and remove and replace ballast.
  • Berks, Chester, Lehigh and Montgomery counties: East Penn Railroad LLC -- $493,640 to replace ties, rails, ballast and renew rail crossing.
  • Chester County: Mittal Steel USA Railways, Inc. -- $230,790 to rebuild 1,598 feet of track and replace two turnouts. Arcelor Plate, LLC -- $197,610 to rehabilitate more than 1,500 feet of track and one turnout.
  • Crawford and Venango counties: Oil Creek Titusville Lines, Inc. -- $127,194 to install 1,500 new cross ties, and restore proper profile and depth of roadbed.
  • Lancaster County: Columbia and Reading Railway Co. LLC -- $732,200 to add five new tracks, five new turnouts, realign 390 feet of mainline track, add four new turnouts and 1,350 feet of new track.
  • Luzerne County Hazleton Shaft Corp. -- $250,000 to construct a new rail spur for access to new anthracite coal thermal drying facility.
  • Montgomery County: Pennsylvania Northeast Railroad -- $507,150 to install 2,000 new cross ties and replace and repair two grade crossings.
  • Mifflin County Standard Steel, LLC -- $700,000 to remove and replace 2,600 feet of track and several turnouts.
  • Northumberland County: North Shore Railroad -- $250,000 for the first of two phases consisting of constructing 1,500 feet of new track in the yard.
  • Philadelphia James J. Anderson Construction Co. Inc. -- $476,000 to rehabilitate 5,618-foot loop track, including grade crossing and replace cross ties and miscellaneous rail, and to raise line and surface rail.
  • Schuylkill County: Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad -- $700,000 to rehabilitate track in the Buck Mountain tunnel, including replacing 2,478 ties.
  • Westmoreland County: Three Rivers Marine and Rail Terminal LP -- $277,088 to rehabilitate grade crossing and connection to Wheeling & Lake Erie railroad and rehabilitate track on Koppers lead mainline.
Marcellus Shale
  • Allegheny County: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, McKees Rocks Railroad Co. -- $350,000 to install new turnouts, construct new track and rehabilitate existing track including crosstie replacement.
  • Bradford and Wyoming counties: Lehigh Railway LLC -- $367,500 for various rail improvements and replacing the deck on Wyalusing Bridge.
  • Beaver County: Youngstown & Southeastern railroad Inc. -- $339,500 to rehabilitate track from the Pennsylvania border to Darlington, Pa. and rebuild siding at NOV Tuboscope.
  • Mercer County Yourga Trucking, Inc. -- $250,000 to install a new asphalt turnout, 700 feet of embedded track and a bumping post for the end of the track.
(Randy Kotuby, State of PA. - 2/25)

STREAMLINERS IN SPENCER : The N.C. Transportation Museum and the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation are adding two locomotives to list of attending this year’s Streamliners at Spencer event.   The four-day festival, May 29 – June 1, will celebrate classic streamliner locomotives of the 1930s through 1950s, gathering the engines around the historic Bob Julian Roundhouse at the N.C. Transportation Museum. With the addition of the Wabash E8 No. 1009 and the Pan Am Railways No. 1, the total number of engines attending “Streamliners at Spencer” is now 16.  Additional units will be announced in the coming weeks. The Wabash E8 No. 1009 is notable as the 10,000 unit produced by General Motors Electro-Motive Division. This locomotive pulled Wabash passenger trains, such as the Banner Blue, the Wabash Cannonball and the Blue Bird. When the Wabash Railroad came under Norfolk & Western control in 1964, No. 1009 was sent to the transportation museum in Roanoke, Va. The unit underwent a complete cosmetic restoration in the last year at Norfolk Southern’s shop in Chattanooga, Tenn. The restoration will allow the unit to appear Streamliners at Spencer event. Pan Am Railways FP9 No. 1 was built in 1954 by Electro Motive Division for Canadian National as No. 6505. The unit was placed in passenger service and became part of VIA Rail Canada, Canada’s equivalent of Amtrak, in 1978.  Upgrading their fleet in the early 1990s, VIA sold the engine to New Hampshire's Conway Scenic Railway for use on the tourist railroad. In 2010, the engine was part of a trade between Conway Scenic Railway and Pan Am Railways that saw the engine move to its new home in Waterville, Maine.  After application of the Pan Am Railways blue paint scheme it became “PAR 1”. Both units will appear throughout the four day, rail fan event.  Streamliners at Spencer will include special operations, daytime locomotive portraits, nighttime photo shoots, the Amtrak exhibit train, special appearances by railroad industry figures and railroad artist Andy Fletcher.  The full list of locomotives can be found on the museum’s event blog, “Streamliners Scoop,” available at www.nctrans.org A special Preview Day, featuring the last of the engines to arrive, special movements, site preparations and more will be held May 29.  Tickets for the Preview Day are $40 per person in advance.  Tickets will be $45 on the day of the event. A special Streamliners “Celebration at the Station” will be held the night of May 29 at the nearby Salisbury station, featuring live music, guest speakers and a BBQ and chicken dinner for $20/person.    Regular daytime admission to Streamliners at Spencer for activities running May 30 through June 1 will be $30 for adults and $20 for children per day if purchased in advance.  The price increases to $35 for adults and $25 for children per day if purchased on the day of the event.  Nighttime photo shoots Thursday through Saturday will be $25 per person, per night. Combo tickets and group discounts will be available, along with discounts for N.C. Transportation Museum members and Norfolk Southern employees.  More information about the day-to-day operations and ticket prices are available online at www.nctrans.org.  The participation of all resident and visiting locomotives is subject to timely transportation and mechanical availability.  Tickets are available online at www.nctrans.org or by calling (704) 636-2889 ext. 237 or ext. 257. (The N.C. Transportation Museum - 2/24)

NJ TRANSIT BOARD SELECTS VERONIQUE (RONNIE) HAKIM AS AGENCY'S NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR : In a unanimous vote, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors appointed Veronique (“Ronnie”) Hakim as the new Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT during a special meeting today. The appointment is effective starting Saturday, March 1, 2014. “I would like to thank Governor Christie and the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors for the opportunity to continue serving the citizens of New Jersey” said Executive Director Hakim. “A robust and efficient public transportation network is vital to the economic growth of the Garden State, and our customers deserve a system that meets and exceeds their expectations. I look forward to working with the hard-working men and women of NJ TRANSIT to achieve these goals in the months and years to come.” Prior to Executive Director Hakim’s appointment, she led the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) for nearly four years. During her tenure, Executive Director Hakim successfully spearheaded effective cost-cutting initiatives at NJTA while simultaneously maintaining the agency’s high performance levels. These savings and efficiencies include reducing $10 million from the NJTA's operating budget, continuing funding of the agency's ambitious $7 billion Capital Program at a lower cost of capital, and bringing a higher level of transparency and accountability to the agency. “As a professional with 27 years of experience in the transportation industry, Ronnie’s proven commitment to public service and her results-driven focus will serve the agency, our customers, and the taxpayers of New Jersey well,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman James Simpson. Previously, Executive Director Hakim also served in leadership roles throughout a 23-year career with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City. She first served as Special Counsel at MTA New York City Transit and later as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Capital Construction at MTA Capital Construction. In that position, she provided senior management with policy and legal advice on numerous large-scale projects, including the Second Avenue Subway, the LIRR East Side Access Project, and the No. 7 Subway Extension Project. Executive Director Hakim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Rochester and a Juris Doctor from the Pace University School of Law. (NJ Transit - 2/24)

MTA ANNOUNCES NEW INITIATIVES TO ENSURE PASSENGER AND WORKER SAFETY: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today anounced a series of initiatives to improve safety throughout its operations by strengthening reporting responsibilities, emphasizing management oversight and installing Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast announced he is creating the position of Chief Safety Officer, a new senior management post reporting directly to the Chairman and CEO, to ensure safety is a top priority throughout all MTA operations. The MTA will also create a new Safety Committee on its board to provide focused oversight of safety issues. In addition, each MTA agency will ensure its top safety official reports directly to the agency’s president, to reinforce that safety is a prime concern for every agency’s management. At Metro-North Railroad, where safety and security now report to the same position, the responsibilities will be separated and a new position of Chief Safety Officer will be created. “The safety of our customers and employees is unquestionably the top priority for the MTA, and these steps will make sure this emphasis on safety is built into the operations of every MTA agency,” Prendergast said. “The events of the last year have made clear to everyone in the MTA how important it is to create a culture where all employees act to eliminate risks, and changing our executive structure will ensure safety remains a dedicated agency value.” Agency presidents discussed their safety programs at today’s meetings of MTA Board committees, detailing how they monitor the condition of crews and equipment, search for potential problems and fix those that they discover. Key among the presidents’ efforts is emphasizing and improving the safety culture within their agencies, so all operations have safety as their primary objective. All MTA agencies have re-examined their safety-related operations over the last year. Prendergast, who has spent 10 years of his career in safety positions, convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of outside experts to study MTA safety practices in September. In addition, Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road announced they have installed automatic speed controls at 10 critical curves and one moveable bridge since the Dec. 1, 2013 Metro-North derailment at a curve in Spuyten Duyvil. These controls work with existing signal systems installed in every train cab to enforce speed limits at those locations. “The MTA has a long tradition of safe and reliable operations, which is why our customers and our employees are rightly upset with the failures we’ve seen in the last year,” Prendergast said. “We are making these and many other improvements so our customers and employees can be confident on the MTA network. Safety is a mindset, not a checklist, and these improvements are important actions to ensure the MTA earns the trust of our customers and employees again.” (MTA - 2/24)

FREIGHT RAILROADS JOIN U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY FOXX IN ANNOUNCING INDUSTRY CRUDE BY RAIL SAFETY INITIATIVE: The nation’s major freight railroads today joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in announcing a rail operations safety initiative that will institute new voluntary operating practices for moving crude oil by rail. The announcement follows consultations between railroads represented by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), including the leadership of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The announcement today covers steps related to crude by rail operations. Additional issues relating to the safe transport of crude oil, such as tank car standards and proper shipper classification of crude oil, are being addressed separately. “We share the Administration’s vision for making a safe rail network even safer, and have worked together to swiftly pinpoint new operating practices that enhance the safety of moving crude oil by rail,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Safety is a shared responsibility among all energy-supply-chain stakeholders. We will continue to work with our safety partners – including regulators, our employees, our customers and the communities through which we operate – to find even more ways to reinforce public confidence in the rail industry’s ability to safely meet the increased demand to move crude oil.” Under the industry’s voluntary efforts, railroads will take the following steps:
  • Increased Track Inspections – Effective March 25, railroads will perform at least one additional internal-rail inspection each year above those required by new FRA regulations on main line routes over which trains moving 20 or more carloads of crude oil travel. Railroads will also conduct at least two high-tech track geometry inspections each year on main line routes over which trains with 20 or more loaded cars of crude oil are moving. Current federal regulations do not require comprehensive track geometry inspections.
  • Braking Systems – No later than April 1, railroads will equip all trains with 20 or more carloads of crude oil with either distributed power or two-way telemetry end-of-train devices. These technologies allow train crews to apply emergency brakes from both ends of the train in order to stop the train faster.
  • Use of Rail Traffic Routing Technology – No later than July 1, railroads will begin using the Rail Corridor Risk Management System (RCRMS) to aid in the determination of the safest and most secure rail routes for trains with 20 or more cars of crude oil. RCRMS is a sophisticated analytical tool, developed in coordination with the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), PHMSA and FRA. Railroads currently use RCRMS in the routing of security sensitive materials. This tool takes into account 27 risk factors – including volume of commodity, trip length, population density along the route, local emergency response capability, track quality and signal systems – to assess the safety and security of rail routes.
  • Lower Speeds – No later than July 1, railroads will operate trains with 20 or more tank cars carrying crude oil that include at least one older DOT-111 car no faster than 40 miles-per-hour in the federally designated 46 high-threat-urban areas (HTUA) as established by DHS regulations. In the meantime, railroads will continue to operate trains with 20 or more carloads of hazardous materials, including crude oil, at the industry self-imposed speed limit of 50 miles per hour.
  • Community Relations - Railroads will continue to work with communities through which crude oil trains move to address location-specific concerns that communities may have.
  • Increased Trackside Safety Technology – No later than July 1, railroads will begin installing additional wayside wheel bearing detectors if they are not already in place every 40 miles along tracks with trains carrying 20 or more crude oil cars, as other safety factors allow.
  • Increased Emergency Response Training and Tuition Assistance – Railroads have committed by July 1 to provide $5 million to develop specialized crude by rail training and tuition assistance program for local first responders. One part of the curriculum will be designed to be provided to local emergency responders in the field, as well as comprehensive training will designed to be conducted at the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) facility in Pueblo, Colo. The funding will provide program development as well as tuition assistance for an estimated 1500 first responders in 2014.
  • Emergency Response Capability Planning – Railroads will by July 1 develop an inventory of emergency response resources for responding to the release of large amounts of crude oil along routes over which trains with 20 or more cars of crude oil operate. This inventory will include locations for the staging of emergency response equipment and, where appropriate, contacts for the notification of communities. When the inventory is completed, railroads will provide DOT with information on the deployment of the resources and make the information available upon request to appropriate emergency responders.
Railroads will continue to work with the Administration and rail customers to address other key shared safety responsibilities, including federal tank car standards and the proper shipper classification and labeling of oil moving by rail. PHMSA is currently reviewing public comments on increasing federal tank car standards. (AAR - 2/21)

AAR REPORTS DECREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported decreased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 15, 2014 with 270,632 total U.S. carloads, down 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 236,625 units down 5.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 507,257 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 14,234 carloads, up 7.9 percent; and grain with 19,137 carloads, up 2.5 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included nonmetallic minerals and products with 26,660 carloads, down 10.6 percent. For the first seven weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,877,070 carloads, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year, and 1,666,024 intermodal units, up 0.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2014 was 3,543,094 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.4 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 71,456 carloads for the week, down 9.5 percent, and 55,317 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first seven weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 493,932 carloads, down 7.0 percent from the same point last year, and 348,146 intermodal units, down 2.1 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,571 carloads for the week, down 1.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,249 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first seven weeks of 2014 was 101,712 carloads, up 2.6 percent from the same point last year, and 65,587 intermodal units, up 0.9 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first four weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 2,472,714 carloads, down 2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 2,079,757 intermodal trailers and containers, down 0.2 percent compared with last year. (AAR - 2/20)

CN CAPITAL 2014 CAPITAL PROGRAM: CN announced today a 2014 plan to invest approximately C$2.1 billion to continue to raise network safety and efficiency, improve service and grow the business. Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: "CN is committed to making continued improvements in its safety performance - infrastructure investments are critical to this, as well as to driving improvements in customer service and taking advantage of freight opportunities to grow the business at low incremental cost. "Investments in our network and distribution capability, the acquisition of new locomotives and equipment and the enhancement of information systems and technology will help support our agenda of operational and service excellence. They will help us achieve our goal of becoming a true supply chain enabler and help our customers compete better in their markets. They will also position us to take advantage of business opportunities in intermodal, energy and other resource and manufacturing markets." CN is targeting to spend more than C$1.2 billion in 2014 on track infrastructure and to improve the safety, productivity and fluidity of the network. This investment will include the replacement of rail, ties and other track materials, bridge improvements, as well as various branch-line upgrades. This envelope will also include funds for strategic initiatives and additional improvements to track infrastructure in western and eastern Canada as well as in the United States. In 2013, CN invested approximately C$100 million in the Edmonton-Winnipeg corridor to increase rail capacity and to support the movement of strong volumes of grain and other commodities. CN's equipment capital expenditures in 2014 are targeted to reach approximately C$300 million, allowing the company to tap growth opportunities and improve the quality of the fleet. To accommodate increased traffic and improve operational efficiency, CN in 2013 took delivery of 44 new and 37 second-hand high-horsepower locomotives. In 2014, CN will acquire an additional 45 new high-horsepower locomotives. By the end of 2014, CN will have acquired 763 high-horsepower locomotives over a 10-year period - these units will represent more than one-half of CN's high-horsepower mainline fleet. Of these acquisitions, 114 units will have alternate-current electrical (AC) traction systems. AC traction motors are more robust than direct-current ones in extreme winter conditions and improve locomotive fleet reliability. CN also expects to spend approximately C$600 million in 2014 on facilities to grow the business, including transloading terminals, distribution centers and the completion of its Calgary Logistics Park project. This envelope also includes capital for information technology to improve service and operating efficiency, and for other projects to increase the productivity of operations. Across all of the envelopes are capital projects that will have a major impact on safety. In addition to capital expenditures to ensure the integrity of CN's rail infrastructure, the company is allocating funds to enhance its system-wide flaw detection capabilities. CN will also complete the construction in 2014 of two state-of-the-art training facilities - one in Winnipeg, the other in suburban Chicago - that will help strengthen CN's safety culture and prepare a new generation of safety-conscious railroaders. In 2013, CN's capital investment program totalled approximately C$2.0 billion. (CN, Randy Kotuby - 2/19)

SEPTA CELEBRATES ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY: On this day in 1964, a newly-created state Authority held its first ever meeting. The group, called SEPTA, was charged with the planning, development, and coordination of a regional transportation system for Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties. Its original function was to coordinate subsidies to the private companies who were struggling to provide safe, consistent, and reliable passenger service to the residents of the Delaware Valley. The Authority initially provided several ambitious grants to private operators to support and expand public transportation options in the region, but the safety and reliability of their services continued to rapidly decline as they neglected to invest in maintenance of even their existing vehicles and routes. By the late 1960's, with the potential for lucrative profits disappearing, private corporations began publically expressing their interest in dropping public transportation. In response, local & state officials stepped in to create a permanent government body to take over these essential operations. Beginning with the absorption of the Philadelphia Transit Company (PTC) in September 1968, SEPTA then began assuming full operation and control of all modes of public transportation in the region including an extensive regional railroad operation nearly abandoned by the bankrupt Penn Central & Reading Companies. Today, SEPTA has evolved to become the nation's sixth-largest public transportation system in terms of ridership, and is one of only two public transportation systems in the United States that operates bus, subway, trolley, trolley bus, and commuter rail under one umbrella serving nearly 340 million riders each year. To recognize this important milestone in the region's history, SEPTA will host a series of physical & digital (A.K.A. "multi-modal") events to celebrate the central role that public transportation continues to provide in the Delaware Valley. The growing list of anniversary events and programs include:
  • A vehicle advertising campaign that will feature the SEPTA logos used during the past 50 years
  • Encouraging riders to share their "first ride on SEPTA stories" through the iSEPTAPhilly campaign
  • Hosting "Throwback Thursdays" on the SEPTA Newsroom page (www.septa.org/media/short), featuring SEPTA retirees, and classic stories about the agency's development & past.
  • Encouraging rides aboard SEPTA's vintage PCC trollies along Route 15 and at the Transit Museum at 1234 Market Street. Riders can also hop aboard the historically-wrapped Red Arrow trolley car on Route 101.
  • Marking the anniversary at other regional events including AMTRAK's National Train Day
  • The establishment of a "history collection center" at the Transit Museum Store at 1234 Market Street for the public to donate photos, patches, and other memorabilia. These items will serve as the centerpiece of an anniversary open house to display SEPTA related memorabilia.
Central to all of these programs is the establishment of the history collection center. "While our region is the seat of the nation's history", said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "Our residents have been without a formal place to remember and preserve their transit memories. This is something that many people have been asking me about for a long time, and now with this anniversary, we're finally able to be able to begin building and enriching it with the help of our riders, friends, and neighbors". "We look forward to celebrating this milestone with the region" added SEPTA Director of Media Relations Jerri Williams, who also asked "the public & press to keep an ear out for forthcoming announcements regarding additional celebrations and festivities as the year moves forward. This anniversary is one for the history books". (SEPTA - 2/18)

RAIL TANK CAR INDUSTRY CALL FOR ADDITIONAL SAFETY MEASURES: The Railway Supply Institute Committee on Tank Cars (RSICTC) has called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to consider several new safety measures for tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol.  In a letter to DOT Secretary Anthony R. Foxx, RSICTC proposed additional safety requirements on newly manufactured railway tank cars, a prohibition on placing additional legacy tank cars into crude oil and ethanol service and prioritization of the modification of existing legacy crude oil and ethanol tank cars.  The call comes after three years of waiting for the government to issue new rules that would create an industry standard and help mitigate product loss after train derailments. "The discovery of new sources of crude oil in North America is one of the most important developments for our economy in the last few decades," said Thomas D. Simpson, President of RSI. "Addressing a 4000 percent increase in delivery of those resources by rail and protecting the public requires actions by railroads, shippers, tank car manufacturers and the federal government.  Today we clearly laid out how tank cars can be made safer as quickly as possible.  Now it's up to the federal government to complete its rulemaking and issue new standards for the manufacture and modification of tank cars meant to carry crude oil or ethanol." In 2011, manufacturers began voluntarily building tank cars to a new standard (CPC-1232) jointly developed with the railroads and petitioned DOT to issue a new regulatory standard.  Despite DOT's inaction on this petition, today's announcement would expand this safety standard and proposes seven guiding principles to move crude oil and ethanol tank car safety forward, including:
  • Additional Safety Technology. The RSICTC proposed expanding the CPC-1232 standard by requiring a metal jacket, full height head shield and top fittings protection with added thermal protection for the manufacture of all new crude oil and ethanol tank cars.  These additions will make the cars more resistant to punctures and heat in case of a derailment.   
  • Limits on Legacy Cars.  The industry also called for a prohibition on adding additional legacy (i.e. non-CPC-1232 compliant) tank cars to the existing crude oil or ethanol fleets until DOT issues standards to modify legacy tank cars.  
  • Modify Crude Oil & Ethanol Cars First.  RSI's tank car committee has estimated that it will take 10 years to modify existing legacy tank cars because DOT regulations require other work as well.  If DOT allows the modification of crude oil and ethanol tank cars first, the time frame for addressing the highest risks could be shortened significantly.
"These guiding principles will accelerate tank car safety," continued Simpson.  "Adding new technology, prohibiting additional unmodified tank cars from entering into crude oil and ethanol service, and modifying crude oil and ethanol tank cars first will move safety forward.  Additionally, the DOT needs to issue revised tank car standards.  These standards should consider the work already done by engineers in the industry to improve tank car safety.  The absence of a science-based, government-mandated standard is chilling investment, hindering job creation and slowing down the rollout of new, stronger, cars that can potentially save lives and limit damage after train accidents occur." (The Railway Supply Institute Committee, Randy Kotuby - 2/18)

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