` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
March 27, 2015:

The next Hot News update will be posted on April 6.

NORFOLK SOUTHERN LAUNCHES $53 MILLION ENERGY INNOVATION PROJECT AT JUNIATA LOCOMOTIVE SHOP: Norfolk Southern (NSC) today launched a $53-million energy conversion project at its Juniata Locomotive Shop that will substantially reduce carbon emissions and water usage at the 70-acre facility. Norfolk Southern will replace the shop's coal boilers with natural gas heaters and install a 1.2-megawatt capacity combined heat and power generator that will produce enough electricity to sustain the entire 16-building complex. When completed in late 2017, Norfolk Southern expects the improvements to save about $4 million in electricity costs, reduce water usage by 49.4 million gallons from steam-water recovery, and eliminate more than 29,000 tons of carbon emissions in Pennsylvania on an annual basis. The project goes beyond equipment changes to include adding insulation, energy-efficient windows at key locations, high-speed roll-up doors on locomotive bays, and replacing roofing to ensure the full sustainability benefits of the investment are realized. The project follows a comprehensive review of work demands and energy consumption at Juniata, the largest locomotive repair shop in North America and headquarters for Norfolk Southern's locomotive rebuild program. The facility has about 1,050 employees who specialize in heavy repairs and engine overhauls. "This project showcases Norfolk Southern's commitment to sustainability and innovation," said CEO Wick Moorman. "The Juniata Locomotive Shop has a 125-year legacy of leading the rail industry in locomotive technology, and with our energy conversion project, this shop and its employees will remain an industry frontrunner in the 21st century." "I applaud Norfolk Southern's commitment to innovation and growth for the rail industry in Blair County and across the country," said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "The Juniata Locomotive Shop has been operating for over 100 years in Central Pennsylvania, and this latest investment helps solidify its continued role in growing this nation through our railroads." State Sen. Jon Eichelberger; state Rep. John McGinnis; Jim Frank, district director for Congressman Bill Shuster; and Blair Wimbush, NS vice president real estate and corporate sustainability officer, also participated in the project launch The Juniata Locomotive Shop has provided good-paying job opportunities for the citizens of Blair County and surrounding counties for generations," said Dennis Davin, acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. "This significant investment by Norfolk Southern in energy efficiency will help ensure that this facility remains competitive." "This is an important announcement by Norfolk Southern in many respects," said state Sen. John Eichelberger. "They are again demonstrating their long-term commitment to the Juniata shops, which is a vital part of our region's economy, and by converting to cleaner-burning natural gas, they are helping our Commonwealth's burgeoning drilling industry." ( Norfolk Southern - posted 3/27)

KEOLIS ANNOUNCES FULL RESTORATION OF MBTA BOSTON AREA COMMUTER RAIL SERVICE ON MARCH 30: Keolis Commuter Service today announced that regular weekday service for MBTA Commuter Rail would be fully restored on Monday, March 30, with the number of seats available to passengers returning to pre-storm levels. The commuter rail system has been operating on a limited schedule for the past month after a series of record-setting winter storms dropped more than 100 inches of snow on the Boston area, causing damage to the railroad infrastructure and to the locomotive fleet. "On behalf of the entire Keolis team, I want to thank our passengers and this community for bearing with us as we have worked day and night over the past month to restore the commuter rail service," said Keolis Commuter Services General Manager Gerald C. Francis. "We know the service interruptions have caused hardships for our passengers and we want this community to know that we are doing everything in our power to regain their trust by providing a service that is safe and reliable, and to communicate better when issues arise that impact schedules." In the wake of the storms, 23 of the 65 locomotives needed to run regular weekday service were disabled when their traction motors were damaged by snow and ice. In just three weeks, a total of 67 traction motors failed. By comparison, about 20 traction motors would be expected to fail during an entire "normal" winter. Weekend schedules have remained at full service throughout the recovery. (Keolis - posted 3/26)

SEPTA WILL NOT APPEAL RECENT RULING REGARDING CONTROVERSIAL ADS: A federal court judge presiding over a dispute between SEPTA and a group seeking to purchase advertising space on SEPTA vehicles has ruled that SEPTA must accept the ads, even if they contain messages that may be disparaging to riders and SEPTA employees. After careful consideration, SEPTA has decided not to appeal this ruling. Our policy was revised in October 2014 to allow the Authority to reject these types of ads without violating the First Amendment. However, this policy change was made after the American Freedom Defense Initiative's (AFDI) initial request to purchase advertising space and is not applicable in the matter. Consequently, AFDI has executed a contact with SEPTA's advertising management agency, Titan, to purchase advertising space on the side panel of 84 SEPTA buses. The ads will contain what some may view as anti-Muslim messages. These vehicles will be placed in normal inventory rotation throughout the SEPTA service area. The ads will begin appearing on vehicles during the first week of April for a four-week period. "We understand that our decision to not file an appeal will be disappointing to those who will be forced to view the disparaging ads," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "We are aware that the presence of the ads could anger the public, but caution that attempts to vandalize the ads or deface SEPTA vehicles will not be tolerated." Abby Stamelman Hocky, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia said, "Ads like these violate our values, even if the judge ruled they do not violate the law. We applaud SEPTA for its efforts to restrict the placement of the controversial ads." The Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia has chosen SEPTA as a co-recipient of its annual "Dare to Understand" award, to be presented April 29, at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. SEPTA regrets any discomfort that may be caused from viewing these controversial messages during the weeks they will be displayed. (SEPTA - posted 3/26)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S 2014 ANNUAL REPORT: Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC) today posted its 2014 Annual Report online, . highlighting record-setting net income, revenues, operating income, earnings per share, and operating ratio. The annual report, titled, "Behind Every Train," includes a letter from CEO Wick Moorman that focuses on the people, equipment, and infrastructure supporting the company's financial and operational achievements. "2014 was an outstanding year for Norfolk Southern," Moorman said. "Our performance during the year demonstrated the increasing demand for our services, the growing value of freight rail transportation in the marketplace, and Norfolk Southern's progress in enhancing service to meet the needs of customers and create long-term value for shareholders." Moorman said, "As business began to rise dramatically following the difficult winter, we invested significant resources to align our people, equipment, and rail capacity with the volumes we were experiencing on the network." The company hired 1,344 train and engine employees during 2014 and placed into service 169 locomotives. "We also initiated several infrastructure projects in the Chicago and upper Midwest areas to add capacity and operating flexibility," Moorman said. "We remain committed to our proven strategy of operating an efficient, high-velocity railroad, which enables us to offer the best possible customer service and retain and grow business at rates that provide a superior return for our shareholders," Moorman said. To request a copy of the 2014 Annual Report, call 800-531-6757, email annualreport@nscorp.com, or write to Norfolk Southern Corp., Corporate Communications Department, Three Commercial Place, Norfolk, Va. 23510-9217. (NS - posted 3/25)

SEPTA UNVEILS 15TH STREET STATION RENOVATION PROJECT RENDERINGS: Members of SEPTA's Design Team are scheduled to greet morning commuters at 15th Street Station on Wednesday, March 25th , with handouts and displays revealing brand-new renderings of the upcoming 15th Street Station Accessibility Project. Three project information boards will remain posted at the station for passengers to examine. Utilizing funding received through Pennsylvania's new transportation funding law, ACT 89, SEPTA plans to begin a total renovation of the 15th Street Station in late 2016. "Once completed, the station will be more user-friendly, accessible to all users, safer, easier to maintain, and in compliance with all applicable codes," said SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeffery D. Knueppel. The capital project, budgeted at $20 Million Dollars will:
  • Provide full access for riders with disabilities through new elevators and ramps to all levels of the station complex. New and wider ramped corridors connecting the station to the Broad Street Line will also be constructed.
    • Improved passenger flow will be achieved with new and reconfigured fare lines, outfitted with new technology for the SEPTA Key Program in addition to new stairs and railings. Renovations will also provide more open area on the 15th Street Mezzanine and on the station platforms.
      • Update Station Interiors and Systems including new architectural finishes, new signage, an Art-In-Transit installation, new lighting, additional public address systems, closed-circuit TV improvements and other passenger amenities.
      SEPTA will continue to engage the public throughout the design process to provide information about the project and to hear feedback. These efforts will include information booths set up at the station and a future public meeting. Passengers, Neighbors, and others interested in learning more about upcoming public events or with any questions, concerns or comments regarding this project should contact SEPTA City Hall Renovations c/o Patricia Miller Evans, Government and Public Affairs at pmillerevans@septa.org or by phone at 215-580-3609. Visual project renderings are attached to this release. Additional information about this project and SEPTA's system-wide "Rebuilding for the Future" program is available at www.septa.org/rebuilding.. (SEPTA - posted 3/25)

      AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 21, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Mar. 21, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 562,472 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Mar. 21, 2015 were 284,618 carloads, down 2.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 277,854 containers and trailers, up 6.7 percent compared to 2014. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 21.9 percent to 24,087 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 3.1 percent to 18,765 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 1.4 percent to 34,230 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: metallic ores and metals, down 11 percent to 21,049 carloads; coal, down 6.7 percent to 105,987 carloads; and forest products, down 5.7 percent to 10,628 carloads. For the first 11 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,082,147 carloads, up 0.9 percent from the same point last year; and 2,740,253 intermodal units, down 0.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 11 weeks of 2015 was 5,822,400 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Mar. 21, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 378,342 carloads, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 344,995 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 723,337 carloads and intermodal units, up 2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 11 weeks of 2015 was 7,596,303 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 78,145 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 58,405 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 11 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,481,718 carloads, intermodal containers and trailers, up 8.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,579 carloads for the week, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 8,736 intermodal units, down 6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 11 weeks of 2015 was 292,185 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/25)

      FIRST AMTRAK CAF BAGGAGE CAR ENTERS REVENUE SERVICE: Amtrak's new CAF baggage cars have entered revenue service. The first CAF baggage car in revenue service was the 61012, placed as the next to last car (Heritage baggage car 1710 was trailing) on March 23's Miami to New York "Silver Meteor" (train 98). With a number of new baggage cars being staged at various crew bases for training/familiarization, additional CAF will likely soon enter service. (Andy Kirk - posted 3/24)

      ALL ABOARD FLORIDA'S MIAMICENTRAL: All Aboard Florida has hired The Vailon Group to implement the company’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program in Miami-Dade County. The Miami-based consulting firm, well known for its advocacy on behalf of small businesses, will work with Suffolk Construction, the passenger-rail company’s general contractor that is building its MiamiCentral train station, to ensure that local subcontractors and area workers are included in the project’s construction. When completed in 2017, the nation’s first privately funded, express passenger-rail system will connect Miami to Orlando with intermediate stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The 235-mile rail-and-infrastructure project is expected to create 10,000 jobs along the rail corridor. MiamiCentral is estimated to generate 457 jobs during construction, and 408 positions when the station is fully operational. The county will realize $1.3 billion in economic benefits during the station’s construction-and- implementation phase. “The Vailon Group has a proven track record of advocacy supporting local workers and businesses,” said All Aboard Florida Executive Vice President of Development and Construction Scott Sanders. “Our partnership with The Vailon Group will focus on opening up more opportunities and making them more accessible for residents and small-business owners in our community.” Marsha E. Jackman, the county’s head of Business Development for more than a decade, launched The Vailon Group in 2007 to help businesses in South Florida diversify and expand their reach into local communities. The firm’s clients include the city of Miami; Port of Miami Tunnel Project; Wexford Science, developer of University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park; Resorts World Miami and Sun Life Stadium. “All Aboard Florida is creating an innovative and transformational rail-infrastructure system and is committed to creating jobs in those areas surrounding the project, including Overtown, the city of Miami, and Miami-Dade County,” said Jackman, president of The Vailon Group.” “What is exciting and already apparent is the company’s level of commitment to hiring locally, and to reaching out to and forging long-lasting relationships with small and local businesses. Our firm’s role will be to assist the company achieve these goals and to synergize the community through this engagement.” MiamiCentral will be the flagship train station in the All Aboard Florida rail network. The mixed-use residential, office and commercial complex will encompass nearly 3 million square feet comprised of a nine-acre multi-modal hub in downtown Miami just east of Miami-Dade County Hall, and a two-acre site in Historic Overtown. The hub will connect residents, office workers, visitors and All Aboard Florida passengers with Miami’s public transit systems and proposed Tri-Rail Downtown Miami Link. The Overtown structure will include parking to support the transportation center. The new passenger-rail trains will arrive and depart MiamiCentral on elevated tracks 50 feet off the ground. A pedestrian-friendly concourse of specialty shops and eateries will be at street level below the train platform. This innovative design will allows through-streets to remain open to traffic. (Florida East Coast Industries - posted 3/24)

      NEWARK PENN STATION TURNS 80: Today, Newark Penn Station, the gateway for New Jersey rail travel throughout the region, turned 80 years old and NJ TRANSIT hosted a huge community celebration in its honor. NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim and NJ TRANSIT representatives were joined by elected officials, customers and community members for the festivities. “Newark Penn Station has played a vital role in New Jersey’s public transportation and mass transit system since its doors first opened,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox. “It is as important to our state’s commuters today as it was eighty years ago. We will continue to invest in public transportation and ensure that Newark Penn Station remains a prominent part of the tri-states’ transportation network for another eighty years.” “This is a welcomed opportunity to celebrate all that rail service has meant to this busy travel corridor which serves as the gateway into the City of Newark and its vibrant business district,” said Executive Director Hakim. “Newark Penn Station represents a rich history of transportation innovation over the last 80 years building upon its roots as an intermodal hub and evolving to embrace the advent of modern technology in order to best serve the needs of our customers.” In addition to a speaking program, events in the Main Waiting Room featured two, 30-45 minute tours of the station, and music provided by the Newark Arts High School Jazz Ensemble as well as participants in the NJ TRANSIT Music in Motion program. Also, customers were treated to giveaways and sweepstakes from our partners including NJPAC, Ironbound IBID, the Newark Museum and the Greater Newark Convention and Visitor Bureau. As a special feature, the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center provided two historic buses on display outside of the station on Plaza West opposite the Hilton Hotel for viewing. Opened in 1935, Newark Penn Station is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The station was originally designed and still operates as an intermodal facility serving pedestrian, taxi, bus and private vehicle traffic generated by the more than 50,000 transit customers who use the station each day. The first section of NPS opened on March 23, 1935. The first regularly scheduled train to use the station — a New York to Philadelphia express train — did not pick up passengers until the following morning; the bus lanes and taxi area also opened March 24, 1935. The final phase of the station opened in 1937 when projects to extend the Newark City Subway (now Newark Light Rail) and Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (now PATH) to NPS were completed, greatly increasing transportation options for regional commuters. (NJ Transit - posted 3/23)

      CN CONTINUES MAJOR REHABILITATION WORK ON QUEBEC BRIDGE: CN today announced its annual major work program for the Quebec Bridge. The cost of the work to be undertaken in 2015 is estimated at C$7 million , bringing the total investment in the bridge since 2013 to C$17 million . CN plans to invest up to C$95 million over 10 years to ensure the safety and long-term viability of the Quebec Bridge. The work is part of the major work program that CN and the Ministère des transports du Québec (MTQ) agreed upon in 2013 following a thorough inspection of the entire bridge by engineering firm Roche. The agreement reflects the dual purpose of the bridge and takes into account the fact that the bridge will mainly be used for road traffic. In addition to providing for major investments, the agreement also outlines up-to-date road surface design and management best practices. The MTQ has indicated it intends to replace the entire roadway deck over the next few years. The new deck, which is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, will feature improvements mandated under the agreement, including an improved drainage system allowing de-icing salt-contaminated water to drain off to prevent wear and extend the life of the bridge. MTQ's investments are in addition to those made under the major rehabilitation program in partnership with CN. Claude Mongeau , president and chief executive officer of CN, said: "CN has been investing heavily in the Quebec Bridge for over a century to extend its life even though it has been used less and less for rail traffic. The major rehabilitation program, which covers the 2015 program announced today, confirms CN's ongoing commitment to preserve a strategic piece of infrastructure for Quebec City ." ( CN - posted 3/23)

      IMPROVEMENTS FOR MBTA COMMUTER RAIL AND THE GREEN LINE MBTA interim General Manager Frank DePaola announced that Commuter Rail CharlieCards for monthly pass holders are now available.General Manager DePaola says CharlieCards with monthly passes printed on them are available for Corporate Pass Program participants and customers who make monthly pass purchases on the MBTA website. The CharlieCard monthly passes replace paper tickets, which are not as durable as the plastic smartcards. Commuter Rail passes purchased by vending machines or at sales offices will continue to be delivered in ticket form. The MBTA in January began testing of the CharlieCards printed with a monthly commuter rail pass. General Manager DePaola said the pilot program received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers. The CharlieCard commuter rail passes are used as 'flash passes' on board commuter rail trains and then used like any other CharlieCard for bus and subway service. Commuter rail customers are encouraged to visit MBTA Commuter Rail Fares and Passes online to purchase an April commuter rail pass. It was also announced today that the refurbished Green Line trolleys have started to make their way back to Boston, following significant work at the Alstom plant in New York. "This is a great first step toward improving service on the Green Line," said General Manager DePaola. "As these cars are re-introduced to the fleet, customers will notice gradual improvements in capacity and reliability."The Green Line Type 7 fleet includes 86 Light Rail Vehicles which entered service in 1986 and 1987 and are nearing the end of their intended design life. Each car's systems require significant work to restore them from a deteriorated condition or complete replacement to ensure the vehicles can continue to provide safe and reliable operation. The $104.4 million project includes preserving the integrity of the vehicle structure, roof, and exterior and improving the reliability of the fleet. Systems are being replaced or upgraded while others are being overhauled. Some of the improvements include a replacement in the upgraded design HVAC, auxiliary lighting, flooring, seating, and insulation. The overhaul work addresses the structure, roof, exterior skin, door system, brake equipment, trucks, and propulsion. All refurbished cars are inspected, cleaned and subjected to extensive testing prior to being returned to service. The first car will enter passenger service in early April. The current refurbishment schedule calls for approximately half of the 86 trolleys to be returned to service by next winter, and the other half by the end of 2016. (MBTA - posted 3/23)

      CSX CONTRIBUTES GRANT TO ENHANCE VIRGINIA HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRAINING FACILITY: As CSX continues its commitment to first responder preparation, the company today presented a $25,000 grant to the Hazardous Materials/CBRNE Training Facility in York County, Va., to enhance training for Virginia’s fire fighters and other responders. Grant funds will be used to purchase equipment to expand and improve the existing training facility’s rail related hazardous materials capabilities including enhancing current and future railcar props; installing lighting and electrical connections to facilitate night training; expanding the classrooms to accommodate larger groups; and sustaining the facility with continued maintenance. “An emergency response team’s ability is significantly strengthened when there is an opportunity to train in real life scenarios and work in situations relevant to today’s emergency response community,” said Chris Sadler, Assistant Chief, York County Department of Fire and Life Safety. “With this grant, the training facility can continue to provide state-of-the-art emergency response training for the Commonwealth's emergency responders.” The Hazardous Materials/CBRNE Training Facility provides hands-on training opportunities for first responders on how to handle hazardous materials, particularly in the area of rail hazardous materials incident response. Its operations are supported by a partnership between the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Association of Hazardous Materials Response Specialists, and York County Department of Fire and Life Safety. CSX previously donated to the facility in 2011. “CSX and first responders share a critical responsibility to protect Virginia’s communities,” said Romano De Simone, Director Hazardous Materials. “Safety is our first priority, and we work to create educational, hands-on opportunities that help our responding partners be well prepared to make the best, fact-based decisions in the event of a railroad incident.” The grant is part of CSX’s expanded safety training outreach to first responders and emergency personnel, which also includes the CSX Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Program that has trained more than 2,000 first responders from more than 350 organizations in 18 cities to date. CSX also launched the industry’s first mobile application to share information about train and cargo information with first responders in the event of an incident. First responders interested in accessing the mobile application should contact 1-877-TELL-CSX. (CSX, Alex Mayes, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/20)

      NEWARK PENN STATION'S 80TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: NJ Transit will be hosting Newark Penn Station's 80th Anniversary Celebration on Monday, March 23, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. From 9:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center – Historical Bus Display, in front of Newark Penn Station, on Raymond Plaza West. Buses on display will include:
      • M720 is a GMC TDM-5108 40-foot suburban bus built in 1958
      • L627 is a General Motors PD 4104 35-foot cruiser bus built in 1957
      Several musical performances are scheduled including:
      • 10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. - Brian Miguel
      • 11:20 – 11:50 a.m. Rachel Menconi
      • 12:00 p.m. – 12:20 p.m. - Susyn Timko
      • Newark Arts High School Jazz Ensemble: Performances will be 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
      At 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. tours will be hosted. Each tour will be 35-35 minutes long. Attendees are to meet at the the Information Booth. These tours will include:
      • Recap the History of the Station and Pennsylvania Railroad
      • Highlight Architectural Design Features (lower the 800lb. Globe to see the detailed metalwork)
      • Tour of the Concourses
      • Bus and Light Rail Connections
      • Platform E Rehabilitation and Future CP&P Projects
      • Q&A
      A speaking program will be held at 1:30 p.m. and the conclusion of festivities is at 3:00 p.m. (NJ Transit - posted 3/19)

      NJT GLADSTONE BRANCH WEEKEND SUBSTITUTE BUS SERVICE: Beginning Sunday, March 22 and continuing through fall, NJ TRANSIT will perform work on the power supply system between Gladstone and Summit stations as well as other work on the Gladstone Branch. During this time, substitute bus service will be provided by Lakeland Bus Company between Gladstone and Summit on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays except as noted below:
      • Friday, July 3 (Independence Day observed): An enhanced weekend schedule will be in effect and rail service will operate on the Gladstone Branch.
      • Saturday October 17 (Far Hills’ Steeplechase): A special schedule will be in effect with both train and bus service.
      • Traveling to locations on the Gladstone Branch: Upon arrival at Summit, customers continuing to stations along the Gladstone Branch will transfer to ADA-accessible buses located on the Railroad Avenue side of the station (exit near the ticket office and restroom). Passengers should show their train ticket and/or seat check to the bus operator when boarding.
      • Traveling from locations on the Gladstone Branch: Passengers will be bused to Summit. Two ADA-accessible buses will operate—one serving Murray Hill and New Providence stations and a second making all other stops. When boarding, passengers should show their rail ticket to the bus operator. For bus boarding times, please visit www.njtransit.com or review the revised Morris & Essex Line timetable (dated November 9, 2014 and revised March 22, 2015), which will be available on trains, atstations and at Customer Service office on or about March 12.
      IMPORTANT: Revised timetables will take effect March 22. Please carefully review bus departure times and boarding locations in the new timetable. View schedule HERE. (NJ Transit - posted 3/19)

      NS EXPANDS ITS RAILROAD UNIVERSITY OPERATIONS TRAINING CENTER TO BETTER EQUIP GRADUATES FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE: Norfolk Southern Corporation today held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion of its “Railroad University” and redoubled its commitment to superior transportation services for its present and future rail customers. “This facility is all about investing in our people,” CEO Wick Moorman said. “The better we equip and train our conductors, engineers, and other craft and supervisory employees to do their jobs safely and efficiently, the more opportunity we have to achieve and surpass the level of service our customers expect and that we commit to provide.” Moorman, President Jim Squires, Executive Vice President Administration Cindy Earhart, and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Manion were among the first to tour a newly constructed building on the center’s campus at McDonough, Ga., just south of Atlanta. The two-story expansion effectively doubles the training center’s classroom space, from 27,000 to 50,000 square feet. Today, even as some of the training center’s 21 staff members hosted tours in the new building, others provided instruction for close to 400 employees next door. The number of students could grow to 900 in the near future as the new building is occupied. Employees in the new space will receive enhanced technology-enabled interactive instruction, including use of tablets, touch screens, and simulation training. “After their classroom and practical experiences at the training center, employees go on assignment with the tools and perspective to make immediate contributions to the success of a 21st century railroad and the customers and communities that depend on us,” said Dominik Browne, manager of the facility. When it opened in December 1974, the center was the rail industry’s first dedicated facility for training and educating employees and quickly was dubbed “RRU” or “Railroad University.” Over the last 40 years, the career path for Norfolk Southern conductors, engineers, track and signal workers, and others has gone through McDonough and on to field locations throughout the company’s 22-state rail network. Prior expansions at McDonough included classroom space for supervisory and management courses in addition to technical training. Outside, 4 miles of track and a four-track rail yard complete with rolling stock give students opportunity to take their classroom instruction into a real operating environment. (Norfolk Southern - posted 3/18)

      AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 14, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Mar. 14, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 553,031 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Mar. 14, 2015 were 278,856 carloads, down 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 274,175 containers and trailers, up 7 percent compared to 2014. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 7.8 percent to 22,771 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 16.7 percent to7,979 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: petroleum and petroleum producers, down 11.1 percent to 12,724 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 7.8 percent to 20,592 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 6.4 percent to 31,724 carloads. For the first 10 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,797,529 carloads, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year; and 2,462,399 intermodal units, down 1.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 10 weeks of 2015 was 5,259,928 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Mar. 14, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 374,693 carloads, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 344,030 intermodal units, up 8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 718,723 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 10 weeks of 2015 was 6,872,966 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 79,425 carloads for the week, up 8.3 percent, and 58,541 intermodal units, up 12.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 10 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,345,168 carloads, intermodal containers and trailers, up 9.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,362 carloads for the week, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,314 intermodal units, up 12.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 10 weeks of 2015 was 267,870 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.8 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/18)

      CN TO BUILD NEW INTERMODAL AND LOGISTICS HUB IN MILTON, ONT., WEST OF TORONTO: CN announced today a plan to build a C$250-million intermodal and logistics hub adjacent to its main line in the Town of Milton, Ont. , located approximately 30 miles west of Toronto . Milton has ready access to major highways reaching key industrial and commercial areas in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "CN's advanced intermodal and logistics facility in Milton will help us efficiently handle growing intermodal traffic. The new hub will benefit our customers and the regional economy by improving central Canada's access to the key transborder market as well as the Pacific and Atlantic coast trade gateways we serve, generating new supply chain efficiencies in the GTHA, and creating well-paying local jobs." CN's intermodal business -- principally containerized international and domestic cargo moving in cooperation with trucks and ocean-going ships -- is one of the company's fastest growing business segments and its largest single business unit with 2014 revenues of more than C$2.7 billion . The new Milton facility will complement Brampton Intermodal Terminal (BIT), CN's existing Toronto -area intermodal terminal in Brampton, Ont. BIT, which is nearing capacity, but will continue to operate for the long term.
      • CN believes the new intermodal and logistics hub will generate specific supply chain benefits in the GTHA by: Facilitating logistics development in Milton and the Regional Municipality of Halton, the facility is expected to attract more warehousing distribution centres (DCs) and associated employment -- new DCs have opened near Milton in recent years owing to land availability and good access to the highway system;
      • Supplying additional intermodal capacity and container availability for exporters located in the southwest area of the GTHA,
      • Creating more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in Milton and Halton Region.
      CN will submit a complete project description of the planned Milton hub to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for review. Mongeau said: "CN is committed to a comprehensive engagement process with the community at every step of this project in Milton ." (CN - posted 3/17)

      GREENBRIER ANNOUNCES ORDERS FOR 10,100 RAILCARS VALUSED AT $1.09 BILLION: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. announced today that it received new orders in its second quarter ended February 28, 2015 for 10,100 railcar units valued at $1.09 billion. Orders for the quarter include double stack intermodal cars, covered hopper cars primarily for grain transportation, refrigerated and insulated boxcars, gondolas and tank cars, both for transportation of crude oil and other commodity types. (These orders include 3,500 units valued at approximately $400 million received in December 2014 which Greenbrier previously disclosed on January 7, 2015.) William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO said, "Our strategy to diversify our product offerings, invest in efficient, flexible and lower cost facilities, and to drive more volume through our lease syndication and asset management business continues to pay off. Since the beginning of our fiscal year on September 1, 2014, we have received orders for 24,200 new railcar units valued at $2.33 billion, across multiple railcar types. Deliveries will extend beyond calendar 2016, with nearly 80% of these orders for railcars that serve non-energy related markets. Recent orders include a significant multi-year order, a testament to the positive outlook and strong industry fundamentals for the foreseeable future.""We anticipate the regulatory picture for tank cars transporting hazardous materials will be clarified with final US and Canadian government actions to occur no later than mid-May," Furman said. "We expect Greenbrier's Tank Car of the Future will be adopted as the new standard and an additional wave of new tank car orders and tank car retrofits will occur, regardless of oil prices." Furman concluded, "Our business is well-balanced, and our strong order book provides us good visibility through calendar 2016 and beyond. We remain committed to operational excellence in each of our businesses and enhancing the long-term trajectory of key metrics, including financial goals of at least 20% aggregate gross margin and 25% ROIC by the second half of fiscal 2016. We will continue to take a balanced approach to reinvesting in high rate of return projects in our core businesses, seeking acquisitions within our core competencies, and returning capital to shareholders." (Greenbrier - posted 3/17)

      ALLENTOWN & AUBURN RAILROAD TO OFFER EASTER TRAIN RIDES: The Allentown & Auburn Railroad will be operating Easter Train rides over the former Reading Railroad Kutztown Branch. On Saturday, March 28th; Sunday, March 29th; and Saturday, April 4th trains will be departing Kutztown, Pa. The station is located at 232-298 Railraod Street. On Saturdays, trains will operate every hour on the hour starting at 10:00 a.m. On Sunday, the first train is at 11:00 a.m. The last trip will be at 4:00 PM each day. Fare is Adults – $10, Child (age 3-11) $5, Child (under 3) free. Cash and Credit Cards accepted. For more information please, phone (570) 778-7531. Visit the railroad's website at http://allentownandauburnrr.com. (Kermit Geary Jr. - posted 3/16)

      LEAHY HAILS U.S.-CANADA PRE-CLEARANCE AGREEMENT THAT BRINGS CLOSER THE GOAL OF RESTORING VERMONT TO MONTREAL PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) says years of work on the goal of restoring passenger rail service between Vermont and Montreal took a major step forward Monday as the United States and Canada signed a long-awaited agreement designed to improve cross border travel and security between the two countries. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney signed a new pre-clearance agreement in Washington that was negotiated under the Beyond the Border Action Plan approved earlier by President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Pre-clearance facilities allow travelers to pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspections prior to traveling, permitting them to quickly move along to their destinations upon arrival in the United States. A new agreement has been needed before discussions and work on creating a pre-clearance facility at Montreal’s Central Station -- and re-establishing train service between Vermont and Montreal -- could happen. The agreement is also a positive step for improving the travel experience on the air service between Burlington International Airport and Toronto City Airport. Leahy, who has long pushed for a pre-clearance agreement, a prerequisite for restoring The Montrealer train service, said: “Vermonters and Quebeckers have a long, special and enduring relationship. Many families, like our own, have relatives and friends on both sides of our border. Marcelle was born in Newport, to parents who emigrated from Quebec. Vermont and Canada also are close partners in trade, commerce and tourism and as joint stewards of our shared communities. Both nations are striving to ensure that our border is secure. This agreement has long been a goal, and a dream, for Vermonters who have fond memories of rail trips to Montreal to enjoy all that its vibrant cultural capital has to offer. This is also a win for visitors from Canada’s largest cities who are eager to visit Vermont to ski, shop and dine. I commend Secretary Johnson and Minister Blaney for their commitment to forging this agreement that will greatly benefit the economies of our state and nation.” Leahy has worked with the Department of Homeland Security and many other partners over several years to restart passenger rail service between Vermont and Montreal. He has also sought to ease, expand and improve air service between Burlington International Airport and Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport. The United States currently stations CBP Officers in select locations in Canada to inspect passengers and cargo bound for the United States before they leave Canada. These operations relieve congestion at U.S. airports, improve commerce, save money, and provide national security benefits. Leahy is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which shares jurisdiction over CBP, and he serves on the Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee -- which oversees the Senate’s work on the annual DHS budget bill – and he is the most senior member of the Appropriations Committee overall. Amtrak’s Montrealer line used to run service between Washington, D.C., and Montreal, Quebec, serving nine Vermont stations along the way. That cross-border service ended in 1995, when St. Albans became the terminus for the new Vermonter train. Leahy has long worked to restore this service, and Governor Peter Shumlin has made it one of his administration’s top priorities. A key to restoring Amtrak service between Vermont and Montreal is the creation of a preclearance facility in Montreal’s Central Station. This would eliminate the need for the train to stop at the U.S. border to allow CBP officers to inspect passengers, a process that currently takes about an hour on the Amtrak’s Adirondack Line in New York. Today, air travelers from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport to Burlington International Airport must deplane and pass through customs at a separate facility before re-boarding the plane to be transported to the airport terminal. Leahy continues to work with CBP on proposals to establish preclearance operations at these Canadian travel hubs. (US Senator Patrick Leahy press release - posted 3/16)

      UNITED STATES AND CANADA SIGN PRECLEARANCE AGREEMENT: Consistent with the initiatives outlined in the 2011 Beyond the Border Action Plan, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney today signed the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada. This new agreement reaffirms the United States and Canada’s commitment to enhancing security while facilitating lawful travel and trade, and supersedes the existing U.S.-Canada Air Preclearance agreement signed in 2001. “After years of hard work and negotiations, today we have one of the most significant, visible, and anticipated products of the Beyond the Border initiative – a major achievement that will produce significant benefits for the United States and Canada,” said Secretary Johnson. “This agreement will help facilitate the legitimate trade and travel that keeps our economy thriving as we maintain utmost vigilance to the security of our borders. We remain committed to our deep partnership with Canada, a true ally, neighbor and friend of the United States.” “Our Government’s top priority remains creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians,” said Minister Blaney. “This historic new agreement builds on decades of successful preclearance operations in Canadian airports. It will enhance the security at our border and create jobs and growth in Canada by improving the flow of legitimate goods and people between our two countries.” This Preclearance agreement – allowing for the immigration, customs and agriculture inspections required for entry into either country to occur on foreign soil – will reduce congestion and delays at the border and increase efficiency and predictability in cross-border travel, tourism and transportation. The new agreement provides officials of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) with the requisite authorities and tools to conduct their border security, facilitation, and inspection processes in the other country. This agreement will:
      • Allow for the consideration of requests for new preclearance locations across all modes;
      • Enable exploration of co-location at small and remote ports, if desired;
      • Provide updates to the Air Preclearance Agreement to better reflect the post 9/11 operating environment, including policies and tools utilized at domestic ports of entry;
      • Enable Canada to request that the United States regularize existing U.S. immigration pre-inspection sites – for example at cruise, rail and ferry terminals in British Columbia;
      • Enhance authorities for preclearance officers including the ability to carry firearms, defensive tools, and restraint devices to the same extent that Host Party officers are permitted to carry in the relevant operating environments;
      • Address officer privileges and immunities through a shared jurisdictional framework in which the sending country may generally exercise primary criminal jurisdiction for acts committed by its officers in the performance of official duties in the Host country;
      • Retain the civil and administrative prosecutorial jurisdictions for preclearance officers provided for in the current Air Preclearance Agreement.
      Given the groundbreaking nature of the agreement, the United States and Canada must enact legislation for it to be implemented. The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act was introduced in the last Congress, and we are hopeful of its reintroduction in this Congress. Currently, the 2001 U.S.-Canada Air Transport Preclearance Agreement continues to apply. Preclearance is the process by which CBP Officers stationed abroad screen and make admissibility decisions about passengers and their accompanying goods or baggage heading to the United States before they leave a foreign port. CBP officers do, however, retain the authority to inspect passengers and their accompanying goods or baggage after arriving in the United States. CBP officers currently conduct preclearance operations at eight Canadian airports: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. This agreement achieves a key component of the Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan. On February 4, 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper released the Beyond the Border Declaration, articulating a shared vision in which our countries work together to address threats at the earliest point possible while facilitating the legitimate movement of people, goods and services across our shared border. The Action Plan outlines the specific steps our countries intend to take to achieve the security and economic competitiveness goals outlined in the Beyond the Border Declaration. (DHS, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/16)

      RECORD 10.8 BILLION TRIPS TAKEN ON U.S. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN 2014: Americans took 10.8 billion trips on public transportation in 2014, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 58 years, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). “In 2014, people took a record 10.8 billion trips on public transportation -- the highest annual ridership number in 58 years,” said Phillip Washington, APTA Chair and CEO & General Manager of the Regional Transportation District in Denver. “Some public transit systems experienced all-time record high ridership last year. This record ridership didn’t just happen in large cities. It also happened in small and medium size communities.” Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide were located in the following cities: Albany, NY; Boston, MA; Canton, OH; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Indianapolis, IN; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Olympia, WA; Orlando, FL; St. Petersburg, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Spokane, WA; Tampa, FL; and Wenatchee, WA. Noting that public transit ridership increased even when gas prices declined by 42.9 cents in the fourth quarter, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “Despite the steep decline in gas prices at the end of last year, public transit ridership increased. This shows that once people start riding public transit, they discover that there are additional benefits besides saving money.” “People are changing their travel behavior and want more travel options,” said Melaniphy. “In the past people had a binary choice. You either took public transit, most likely a bus, or you drove a car. Now there are multiple options with subways, light rail, streetcars, commuter trains, buses, ferries, cars and shared use vehicles.” Another reason behind the ridership increases is the economic recovery in certain areas. For example, Atlanta (GA), San Francisco (CA), Minneapolis (MN), Seattle (WA), and Champaign-Urbana (IL) were some cities that saw increased ridership in part because of an improved job market. “Since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, public transportation ridership increases are seen in areas where the local economy is growing,” said Melaniphy. “Expanded and improved public transit services also played a role in attracting more riders,” said Melaniphy. “For example, the transit agencies in Albany (NY), Denver (CO), Indianapolis (IN), Riverside (CA), and Salt Lake City (UT) saw increased ridership due to greater service.” From 1995-2014 public transit ridership increased by 39 percent, almost double the population growth, which was up 21 percent. The estimated growth of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was 25 percent. (It is estimated because the December VMT has not yet been posted by the Federal Highway Administration.) Pointing out that the current federal surface transportation bill expires on May 31, Melaniphy said, “The record ridership in 2014 is a clear message to Congress that the citizens of this country want expanded public transit services. Congress needs to work together now to pass a long-term, well-funded surface transportation bill that invests in our country’s public transit infrastructure. This is critical not only to the millions of Americans who use public transportation, but is also crucial for our country’s economic competitiveness.” 2014 Ridership Breakdown: Light rail (modern light rail, streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased 3.6 percent in 2014 with 16 out of 28 public transit systems reporting increases. Light rail in Minneapolis, MN showed a significant increases of 57.4 percent due to the opening of the METRO Green Line in Minneapolis. Light rail ridership in Oceanside, CA increased by 36.0 percent due to the system being shut down for several months in 2013. Four light rail systems saw double digit increases in 2014 in the following cities: Houston, TX (17.9%); San Diego, CA (15.3%); Denver, CO (12.0%); and Seattle, WA-Sound Transit (11.7%). Light rail ridership in the following cities also saw increases in 2014: San Francisco, CA (7.2%); Salt Lake City, UT (6.0%); Hampton, VA (5.4%); New Orleans, LA (5.3%); San Jose, CA (4.4%); Newark, NJ (3.4%); Dallas, TX (3.2%); and Charlotte, NC (3.1%). Heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) ridership increased by 3.3 percent across the country as 8 out of 15 public transit systems reported increases. Heavy rail systems with increases in ridership for 2014 were in the following cities: San Francisco, CA (6.1%); Boston, MA (4.9%); Chicago, IL (4.1%); New York, NY-MTA NYC Transit (4.0%); New York, NY-MTA Staten Island Railway (3.5%); Atlanta, GA (2.3%); and Miami, FL (2.1%). Nationally, commuter rail ridership increased by 2.9 percent in 2014 as 22 out of 28 public transit systems reported increases. Four commuter rail systems saw double digit increases in 2014 in the following cities: Salt Lake City, UT (16.2%); Stockton, CA (15.7%); Seattle, WA-Sound Transit (10.4%); and San Carlos, CA (10.1%). Ridership in the following cities also saw increases in 2014: Lewisville, TX (9.3%); Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX (6.9%); Newark, NJ (5.4%); Anchorage, AK (5.4%); Portland, OR (4.7%); Nashville, TN (4.4%); Boston, MA (3.5%); Oceanside, CA (3.5%); Oakland, CA (2.5%); and Baltimore, MD (2.2%). Bus ridership decreased nationally by 1.1 percent. However, in small and medium size population groups, bus ridership saw percentage increases of 2.0 and 0.5 respectively. The following cities showed the highest large bus ridership increases in 2014: Baltimore, MD (6.8%); Portland, OR (5.3%); Oakland, CA (4.2%); San Francisco, CA (3.9%); Columbus, OH (3.0%); Atlanta, GA (2.8%); San Diego, CA (2.4%); and Seattle, WA-King County DOT (2.0%). Demand response (paratransit) ridership increased in 2014 by 0.2 percent. Trolleybus ridership declined by 2.8 percent in 2014. (APTA - posted 3/13)

      FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION ISSUES DIRECTIVE TO REPLACE UNAPPROVED TANK CAR VALVES: The Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a Railworthiness Directive requiring railroad tank car owners to replace unapproved valves currently installed in some tank cars. The valves in question are UNNR ball valves manufactured and sold by McKenzie Valve & Machining LLC (McKenzie). Recent FRA investigations revealed that the valves were not approved for use on railroad tank cars. Additionally, the 3 inch ball valve, when not properly configured, is leading to tank cars leaking small quantities of hazardous materials. The problem was first discovered when multiple FRA investigations identified several railroad tank cars leaking small quantities of hazardous materials. One instance occurred during the week of January 11th and involved a train of 100 tank cars loaded with crude oil being transported by BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) from Tioga, North Dakota, to a refinery in Anacortes, Washington. BNSF discovered 14 tank cars leaking crude oil on the route. The FRA then inspected seven of the identified leaking tank cars that BNSF removed from the train in Vancouver, WA. The FRA inspector observed each of the tank car’s top fittings and found product leaking from the liquid line ball valves and around each valve’s closure plug. Further tests conducted by the FRA found that certain closure plugs installed on the 3” valves caused mechanical damage and led to the destruction of the valves’ seal integrity. In addition, testing found that when a 3" closure plug was applied and tightened in the 3" McKenzie valve, the plug contacted and damaged the ball. Further testing revealed that the application of downward force on the valve ball applied by the 3" plug resulted in the over-compression, damage, and misalignment of the inboard seal, causing the valve to leak. While additional tests conducted by FRA concluded that McKenzie 1” and 2” ball valves do not appear to present the same safety concerns as the 3” valves, they are not approved for use on railroad tank cars and must also be replaced. To date, FRA is not aware of any non-accident releases or other releases from railroad tank cars involving the 1" or 2" McKenzie valves. Federal regulations require all valves applied to tank cars must be of an approved design by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Tank Car Committee. FRA’s investigations demonstrate clear inconsistencies between the type of valve design that AAR approved versus the design of the valve actually being used, which raises questions about the approval process and a manufacturer’s adherence to an approved design type. The FRA will immediately begin working with AAR to commence a full audit of the Association’s process for approving tank car valves and other components in order to prevent incidents like this from occurring again. “Ensuring the safe transport of hazardous materials is a top priority for the Department of Transportation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I expect this audit to force a stricter adherence to the structures in place to keep our railways safe.” The Directive requires all tank car owners to remove, within 60 days, any 3” McKenzie UNNR ball valves in tank cars used to transport any hazardous material described in 49 CFR 172.101. Further, the Directive requires all tank car owners to remove the 1” and 2” valves within 90 days. The Directive requires tank car owners to replace the valves with valves approved for use on railroad tank cars. Since 2009, McKenzie sold approximately 11,200 of the 3” valves to a variety of tank car owners and tank car facilities. FRA estimates that approximately 6,000 DOT Specification 111 railroad tank cars are equipped with the unapproved 3" McKenzie UNNR valves. In addition, McKenzie indicates that it has sold more than 37,000 1" and 2" valves to a variety of tank car owners and tank car facilities. The removal and replacement of these valves are not expected to significantly disrupt freight rail traffic. Although the precise amount of hazardous materials released due to the use of these unapproved valves cannot be quantified, FRA investigations and subsequent testing have determined that only small amounts of hazardous materials could have escaped through the unapproved valves. “Any type of hazardous materials release, no matter how small, is completely unacceptable,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “The removal of these valves from service will help to reduce the number of non-accident hazardous materials releases.” After tank car owners have remove the unapproved valves on each affected tank car, and replaced and tested new components, they may once again use the tank cars to transport hazardous materials. Alternatively, if upon an adequate showing demonstrating the safety of the 1” and 2” valves, McKenzie obtains approval for the use of those valves on tank cars, cars equipped with these 1” or 2” McKenzie valves may be returned to hazardous materials service. (FRA - posted 3/13)

      VIA RAIL TRAIN SERVICE BETWEEN TORONTO AND WINNIPEG SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) is continuing suspension of its service between Toronto and Winnipeg due to unfavorable operating conditions for passenger trains. The service was interrupted due to a CN freight train derailed in Northern Ontario on March 7th. Trains # 1 and # 2 will continue to operate between Vancouver (departures on Tuesdays and Fridays) and Winnipeg (departures on Mondays and Thursdays). VIA Rail continues to work closely with CN in order to assess the operational impacts of new train procedures implemented on Tuesday afternoon, following the resumption of their freight train services. These procedures do not allow VIA Rail to maintain the integrity of its schedule and would result in significantly longer trip times. Affected customers have been informed of the train cancellation by email and by phone. VIA Rail will not be providing alternate transportation to affected passengers. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 3/12)

      KEOLIS TO REINSTATE 42 MBTA COMMUTER RAIL TRAINS TRIPS ON MARCH 16, AHEAD OF SCHEDULE: Keolis Commuter Service today announced that it will restore service on an additional 42 MBTA Commuter Rail trains on March 16, a major milestone in its plan to restore full service by March 30. This marks the largest number of commuter trains restored to service since the recovery schedule was put in place after winter storms impacted the commuter rail fleet. Keolis has now returned 82% of the normal train fleet back into service, enabling the restoration of these routes a week ahead of schedule. On Monday, about 75 percent of regular weekday schedule will be restored, up from about 64 percent the previous week. The next round of service restoration, scheduled for March 23, will be announced next week. Company officials said they anticipate meeting the March 30 deadline of bringing service back to 100%. "We told passengers that we were committed to adding trains back into the schedule as quickly as possible and we meant it," said Keolis Commuter Services General Manager Gerald C. Francis. "These routes were selected based on where we knew we could provide quality service on a consistent basis in order to have the greatest impact on the overall commuter rail schedule. We also took into account input from passengers about where there was the greatest need." (Keolis Commuter Service - posted 3/12)

      AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAR. 7, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Mar. 7, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 522,383 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Mar. 7, 2015 were 268,620 carloads, down 2.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 253,762 containers and trailers, up 4 percent compared to 2014. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 11.5 percent to 20,840 carloads; farm products, up 10.1 percent to17,496 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.7 percent, to 30,483 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: coal, down 6.5 percent to 101,837 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 4.1 percent to 14,187 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 2.7 percent to 29,549 carloads. For the first nine weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,518,673 carloads, up 1.8 percent from the same point last year; and 2,188,224 intermodal units, down 2.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first nine weeks of 2015 was 4,706,897 carloads and intermodal units, with no percentage increase compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Mar.7, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 360,912 carloads, up 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 323,067 intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 683,979 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first nine weeks of 2015 was 6,154,243 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 76,315 carloads for the week, up 9.2 percent, and 58,622 intermodal units, up 14.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first nine weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,207,152 carloads, intermodal containers and trailers, up 9.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,977 carloads for the week, up 10.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,683 intermodal units, up 19.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first nine weeks of 2015 was 240,194 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 3/12)

      AMTRAK HONORS FORMER FEDERAL RAIL ADMINISTRATOR, CURRENT CMAP SENIOR FELLOW : Amtrak today dedicated its Chicago railroad operations center as the Joseph C. Szabo Chicago Control Center, in recognition of Szabo’s contributions to the advancement of intercity passenger rail travel and railroad safety in the United States. Operating nearly four million switches and signals every year, the Szabo Chicago Control Center keeps Amtrak intercity and Metra commuter trains moving through Chicago’s busiest rail station, along with Amtrak lines in Michigan, Indiana and Louisiana. The control center dispatches 580 trains and 120,000 passengers daily. Under the leadership of Chairman Anthony Coscia and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman, the Amtrak Board of Directors chose to honor Szabo, who joined the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) as senior fellow in January 2015 after serving for six years as President Barack Obama’s first appointee to head the Federal Rail Administration (FRA). As FRA Administrator, Szabo also served on the Amtrak Board as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s delegate. The resolution adopted by the Amtrak Board cites Szabo’s longtime support for the national intercity passenger rail system. Boardman prized the "essential counsel, direction and perspective" that Szabo provided to the Amtrak board and staff. “In recognition of Joe’s contributions -- past and those yet to come -- to Amtrak, to the railroad industry, and to the Chicago metro area, we could think of no more appropriate place to honor him than our Chicago Control Center,” said Boardman, who attended the ceremony with Amtrak Board Member Tom Carper and Szabo’s family, friends and colleagues. “Under Mr. Szabo’s leadership at the FRA, rail transportation has never been safer in the United States, culminating with two straight years of record-breaking safety performance with significant reductions in all types of accidents," said the resolution, which was unanimously passed by the Amtrak Board. "This is a great honor for Joe Szabo, and CMAP is proud to have him on our team, supporting collaborative planning across the metropolitan Chicago region," said CMAP chairman Gerald Bennett, mayor of Palos Hills. "Our agency benefits from Joe's knowledge of issues at the local, state, and federal levels, including his experience as a former mayor, head of FRA, and leader of organized labor." A fifth-generation railroad professional, Szabo was the first FRA Administrator to come from the ranks of rail workers. In addition to having worked as a conductor and switchman, Szabo represented rail workers in Illinois as State Director of the United Transportation Union for nearly 13 years. He has served as mayor of Riverdale, Ill., a member of the South Suburban Mayors Transportation Committee, and vice chairman of the Chicago Area Transportation Study’s Executive Committee. “I am deeply touched by the Amtrak Board’s recognition. Chicago is my home and where I began my railroad career. Having worked with and represented the railroad workforce in Illinois, it is very special to be associated with the facility that dispatches train operations in and out of Union Station – it’s where the work gets done,” said Szabo. “As an economic driver, rail’s impact is unsurpassed for getting residents to and from their jobs, getting goods to market, and getting the most out of public infrastructure. At CMAP, I look forward to continuing my efforts in support of rail transportation, including the need for new strategic investments.” (Amtrak - posted 3/11)

      CN ON PACE TO DELIVER ANOTHER BANNER YEAR FOR WESTERN CANADIAN GRAIN: Seven months into the current 2014-15 crop year, CN continues its record-setting pace of Western Canadian grain shipments. As of the last week of February 2015, CN has moved on average approximately 4,700 grain hoppers weekly in Western Canada – a full 21 per cent more than during the same period of the record 100-year crop year of 2013-14. Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: "We are proud of CN's grain-hauling achievements, setting new records basically every month over the last year. Our commitment to deliver service to Canadian grain growers is solid, and the result is a meaningful contribution to keep the end-to-end grain supply chain in sync in Western Canada. "Contrary to claims recently made by the new Ag Transport Coalition that CN is somehow failing to meet demand, we know we're responding very efficiently to all the demand from our customers. The facts are clear, when we compare our shipments with all valid car orders, our wait-list stands at less than 2,000 orders, just a few days' worth of car supply. And we would have the hopper car capacity to handle more grain right now if the waterfront terminal capacity was more fluid on the West Coast." (1) Last week marked one year since the first Government of Canada Order-in-Council (OIC) that imposed minimum grain-hauling requirements on major railways. In the 12-month period since then, CN's cumulative tonnage of Western grain has exceeded its mandated volumes by close to 2.5 million metric tonnes, or 10 per cent. CN has consistently said that minimum mandates were unnecessary for it to move record grain volumes. Indeed, CN has delivered as promised on its pledge of strong performance to Ottawa last winter, and believes the OIC should not be renewed when it expires on March 28, 2015. CN today also announced the third round of its innovative Commercial Fleet Integration Program (CFIP). CFIP is for shippers who want to supply privately owned or leased covered hopper rail cars for integration into CN's Western Canadian grain car fleet. These shippers benefit from year-round supply from that fleet when shipping grain to commercial destinations in the United States and Canada. CN is prepared to integrate up to 1,200 private cars in this latest round, for which the bidding deadline is May 8, 2015. Mongeau said: "The new CFIP continues CN's efforts to increase capacity for moving Western grain. It offers interested shippers, who are willing to bid to integrate cars into our fleet, with priority in our car order confirmation and service planning processes. It's a step forward for the grain logistics system and makes good business sense." (CN - posted 3/11)

      STEWARTSTOWN RAILROAD WILL COMMENCE SCHEDULED PASSENGER TRAIN RIDES THIS SPRING: The "Mighty Mo", the Stewartstown Railroad’s circa 1943 historic gasoline-powered locomotive, recently made it’s first trip since 2004 down the main line. Track crews have been working hard for the last year and a half to reopen the first mile of track up to Class 1 standards. For the first time in a decade, the Stewartstown Railroad plans to offer train rides with the "Mighty Mo" and a passenger coach, starting this spring. It has posted an operating schedule for this year on its website, stewartstownrailroadcompany.com. The full-size train rides will be offered starting on Mother's Day weekend. Rides are planned for holidays, including the Fourth of July, the fall foliage, Halloween and Christmas (Mike Ruane - posted 3/10)

      CN WELCOMES MAHER TERMINAL'S EXPANSION PLAN FOR PRINCE RUBERT, BC CONTAINER PORT: Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN, today welcomed news that Maher Terminals Holding Corp. will expand the capacity of the Port of Prince Rupert's Fairview Container Terminal to more than 1.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually, from the current annual container-handling capacity of approximately 850,000 TEUs. "This investment in terminal expansion to accommodate future growth in overseas container traffic is good news for CN's customers and the Pacific Gateway we serve," Mongeau said. "Fairview Container Terminal, opened in 2007, has become a major gateway success for trade between Asia, Canada and the U.S. Midwest. This success is testament to the supply chain collaboration and innovation focus of CN, Maher and the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Together we understand what it takes to foster continual improvements in port-terminal-rail efficiencies that help our customers compete more effectively in their end markets. This is a virtuous cycle, setting the stage for future growth, one container at a time. "CN is proud of its role in Prince Rupert's success. We will continue to invest in rail capacity improvements along our route from northern British Columbia to key markets such as Chicago and Memphis. Our investment in the Kaien long rail siding just outside of Fairview terminal is helping us to accommodate growth in container volumes with greater efficiency. We will also expand our intermodal network and terminal capacity to continue playing our role as true backbone of the economy." In seven years of operations, traffic through Prince Rupert's Fairview Container Terminal has grown at the fastest pace of any container terminal in North America. In 2014, volume increased 15 per cent over year-earlier volumes, while Fairview continued to post excellent terminal dwell times for containers. The Fairview Container Terminal expansion project will start in April 2015 and is expected to be finished by mid-2017. Prince Rupert is the closest major North American port to Asia with direct on-dock access to CN's rail network. Containers are rapidly transferred between vessel and rail, enhancing Prince Rupert's total transit time advantage. The port is also North America's deepest natural harbor and can efficiently handle the world's largest container vessels. Maher Terminals is an affiliate of Maher Terminals LLC of Elizabeth, N.J. (CN - posted 3/10)

      AMTRAK'S CAROLINIAN SLAMS INTO A TRACTOR TRAILER: At approximately 12:15 p.m. Monday, the northbound Amtrak Carolinian Train 80 was involved in a collision with a tractor trailer at the intersection of U.S. 301 and N.C. 903 in Halifax County. Train 80’s locomotive and baggage car were derailed as a result of the collision. At this time minor injuries have been reported. "NCDOT is continuing to assist Amtrak with the train accident in Halifax County. I've briefed Governor McCrory and we remain in constant communication as we work to address this situation," Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said. "We are relieved that there are no fatalities reported at this time, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured. Safety is always our top priority, and we continue to urge everyone to use extreme caution and stay alert when crossing our railroad tracks." At this time U.S. 301, N.C. 903 and N.C. 125 are closed in all directions at this location. Amtrak is investigating the incident along with local authorities. NCDOT is providing support as needed. The northbound Carolinian was traveling from Charlotte to New York City at the time of the collision. The crossing involved in this incident is equipped with gates and railroad-preempted traffic signals at the intersection of U.S. 301 and N.C. 903. (North Carolina DOT, Bill Chaplik - posted 3/09)

      HOOSIER STATE PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE TO END APRIL 1: The Indiana Department of Transportation today announced that the Hoosier State passenger rail line, which operates four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago, will have its last day of service on Wednesday, April 1. The announcement follows a Federal Railroad Administration decision requiring the state of Indiana to serve as a railroad, even though it owns no track or trains. “Passenger rail providers and the host railroads are already required to comply with FRA rules,” said INDOT Commissioner Karl Browning. “Requiring a redundant layer of bureaucracy would not create improvements in passenger rail service or safety, it would only increase taxpayer costs.” Proposed long-term service INDOT has been working for a year to improve the Hoosier State service, and had been making progress in negotiating long-term agreements with two experienced passenger rail providers. “INDOT thanks our partners Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings as we worked together to preserve the Hoosier State service,” Browning said. Under the proposed service, Amtrak would have served as the primary operator, working with host railroads, providing train and engine crews, and managing reservation and ticketing. This would have taken advantage of the priority access and pricing that Amtrak enjoys with the host railroads. Iowa Pacific would have provided the train equipment, train maintenance, on-board services and marketing. The proposed service was modeled in part after Amtrak’s successful Piedmont service, which operates between Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. The North Carolina Department of Transportation owns the equipment for the Piedmont service. NCDOT contracts with Amtrak for operations and private contractors to improve and grow passenger rail. NCDOT contested a similar FRA determination in 2008 when it attempted to place the same impediments on the Piedmont service. INDOT was unsuccessful in convincing the FRA to formally reconsider its decision. Copies of INDOT’s correspondence with FRA and letter of intent with Iowa Pacific are available at www.in.gov/indot/3200.htm. (Indiana DOT - posted 3/06)

      AMTRAK STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT AND CEO JOSEPH BOARDMAN: The following statement is issued today by Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman regarding an announcement made this afternoon by the Indiana Department of Transportation: “Daily Amtrak service to Indianapolis does not have to end in April. Amtrak has offered to continue to operate the train on a month-to-month basis. “Amtrak is ready, willing and able to continue to provide safe and reliable service using one of the proven models we’ve used in other states. “We have shown how the quality of the passenger experience can be improved by demonstrating modern Wi-Fi and business class seating. We have the expertise in working with the host railroads and have repeatedly offered to be the state’s and the communities’ partner in advancing plans to improve the travel time and the reliability of the service. “Experience has proven that losing the foundation that daily service to central Indiana now provides will make it much more difficult and expensive to create a true intercity passenger corridor in the future. Amtrak made it clear in a recent meeting in Washington with Lafayette-area officials that ways to improve this service are within the state’s reach, with Amtrak as a proven partner.” (Amtrak - posted 3/06)

      AMTRAK CAF BAGGAGE CAR UPDATE: Beginning on Feb. 25, Silver Meteor #98 began deadheading some of the baggage cars that had been under inspection at the Hialeah Maintenance Facility since Dec.  Movements to date have been as follows:
      • 98-25   61006 behind the power (set off at WAS) and 61005-61004 on rear for NY (61004 went back to Miami on 97-27)
      • 98-02   61003-61004 behind the power (set off at WAS) and 61000-61001 on rear for NY (61000-61001 went back to MIA on 97-04)
      • 98-02   61003 behind the power (set off at WAS) and 61002 on rear for NY
      • 98-03   61007-61005 behind the power (set off at WAS) and 61004 for NY and 61009 for Jacksonville
      • 98-04   61011-61010-61018-61024 behind the power (set off at WAS)
      • On Mar. 4, Regional #85 took 61007 to Richmond and Palmetto #89 took 61003 to Savannah
      • On Mar. 5 Capitol Limited #29 took 61011 to Chicago
      All of the aforementioned movements were for the purpose of setting up the cars at the named locations for training purposes.  To date, none of the new baggage cars have been placed in service. (Andy Kirk - posted 3/06)

      HOUSE PASSES AMTRAK REFORM BILL: On Thursday the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan bill that improves the Nation’s passenger rail system and reforms Amtrak by reducing costs, creating greater accountability and transparency, leveraging private sector resources, and accelerating rail project delivery. The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, or PRRIA (H.R. 749), was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA); T&I Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR); Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA); and Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Capuano (D-MA). “PRRIA brings significant and needed reforms to Amtrak. This bill will result in cutting waste, strengthening our infrastructure, and providing better, more cost-effective passenger rail service for our Nation’s transportation system,” Shuster said. “In every region of the country, passenger rail investments boost local economies and create thousands of family-wage construction, engineering, and manufacturing jobs. This bill isn’t perfect, but it was a bipartisan effort that ultimately provides critical investments and system wide improvements to increase capacity and make our railways safer. I’m glad that we were able to pass this legislation in a bipartisan way,” said DeFazio. “The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act will vastly improve commuter and passenger rail systems across the country, helping save American families time and money in transportation costs. It represents a step forward in making Amtrak more efficient and accountable. The bill’s widespread bipartisan support demonstrates the practicality of these reforms,” Denham said. “This bipartisan legislation will improve passenger rail service which is an important component of an effective transportation network. Increasing investment in rail service not only leads to a better customer experience, it also creates economic benefits and employment opportunities,” Capuano said. Passenger rail presents one of the best transportation alternatives for relieving congestion on some of the Nation’s most crowded highways and in our busy airspace. However, important reforms are necessary to improve Amtrak – the country’s intercity passenger rail provider – and our passenger rail transportation system. PRRIA includes the following provisions: Reforms Amtrak to Increase Transparency, Reduce Costs, and Operate More Like a Business
      • Authorizes Amtrak at recently appropriated funding levels
      • Eliminates Amtrak’s losses in food and beverage service
      • Mandates Amtrak carry out a business case analysis for all major procurements
      • Eliminates Amtrak’s opaque accounting and requires transparent bookkeeping
      Leverages Resources and Encourages Non-Federal Participation
      • Creates station development opportunities for the private sector
      • Opens new revenue streams through right-of-way development
      • Unlocks an underutilized federal railroad loan program
      • Assists with advancing large infrastructure projects through partnerships with states
      Streamlines Environmental Reviews and Accelerates Project Delivery
      • Sets deadlines to reasonably limit review times
      • Requires reviews to occur concurrently rather than consecutively
      • Improves coordination among federal, state, and local agencies involved in the reviews
      Targets Investments Where There is the Greatest Potential for Success
      • Keeps Northeast Corridor profits on the Northeast Corridor, while maintaining long-distance and state-supported passenger rail service
      • Improves management of the Northeast Corridor
      • Incentivizes increased Northeast Corridor investments
      Empowers States to Have a Greater Role in Managing Routes
      • Ensures states are equal partners, giving them a greater say in decision making to ensure passengers get the best service
      • Strengthens transparency to give states and Congress greater insight into Amtrak’s accounting to identify areas for improvement
      • Requires Amtrak to evaluate long-distance routes, improve services, and lower costs
      (Transporthouse.gov- posted 3/05)

      AAR REPORTS TRAFFIC FOR FEBRUARY AND FOR WEEK ENDING FEB. 28, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for February 2015 and first two months of 2015. Carload traffic in February totaled 1,089,211 carloads, down 1.1 percent or 11,726 carloads from February 2014. U.S. railroads originated 929,395 containers and trailers in February 2015, down 6.5 percent or 64,384 units from the same month last year. For February 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,018,606, down 76,110 units or 3.6 percent from February 2014. In February 2015, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with February 2014. This included grain, up 8,651 carloads, or 10.9 percent over last year; crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 4,640 carloads, or 6.5 percent; metallic ores, up 3,515 carloads, or 21.9 percent; and chemicals, up 2,436 carloads, or 2 percent. Commodities that saw declines in February 2015 from February 2014 included coal, down 21,075 carloads, or 4.9 percent; iron and steel scrap, down 3,943 carloads, or 23.1 percent; and primary metal products, down 2,926 carloads, or 7.3 percent. Excluding coal, carloads were up 9,349 carloads or 1.4 percent in February 2015 over February 2014 and when coal and grain were excluded, U.S. carloads were up 698 carloads or 0.1 percent in February 2015. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first eight weeks of 2015 was 2,250,053 carloads, up 50,138 carloads or 2.3 percent, while intermodal containers and trailers were at 1,934,462 units, down 55,726 containers and trailers or 2.8 percent when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first two months of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 4,184,515 carloads and intermodal units, down 5,588 or 0.1 percent from the same point last year. "The problems at West Coast ports clearly had an impact on rail traffic in February. Bad weather in the East and Midwest didn't help," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "It's not possible to quantify the impact of these factors precisely. However, economic fundamentals remain mostly positive, so railroads are expecting significant traffic improvements in March."
      • Week Ending Feb. 28, 2015: Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending February 28, 2015 was 508,658 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.7 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 267,060 carloads, down 7 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 241,598 containers and trailers, down 6.3 percent compared to 2014. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR each week posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by petroleum and petroleum products, up 6.5 percent to 14,098 carloads; grain, up 3.8 percent to 20,537 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 2 percent to 17,713 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 were led by metallic ores and metals, down 13.2 percent to 20,716 carloads; coal, down 12.4 percent to 99,521 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 10.9 percent to 28,336 carloads for the one week. North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 28, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 360,582 carloads, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 309,091 intermodal units, down 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 669,673 carloads and intermodal units, down 4 percent. North American rail volume for the first eight weeks of 2015 was 5,470,264 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 77,111 carloads for the week, up 8.9 percent, and 56,430 intermodal units, up 4 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first eight weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,072,215 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,411 carloads for the week, down 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,063 intermodal units, up 2.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first eight weeks of 2015 was 213,534 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent from the same point last year.
      • Crude Oil Carload Update: The AAR also reported U.S. Class I railroads originated 131,071 carloads of crude oil in the fourth quarter of 2014, down 1,186 carloads or 0.9 percent from the third quarter of 2014. For all of 2014, U.S. originated carloads totaled a preliminary 493,126 carloads, up 85,365 carloads or 20.9 percent over the 407,761 carloads originated in 2013. In 2014, crude oil accounted for 1.6 percent of total carloads for Class I railroads.
      (AAR - posted 3/05)

      ADDITIONAL MARC CAMDEN LINE SERVICE BETWEEN BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON TO LAUNCH MONDAY MARCH 9: The Camden Line MARC Train expansion will provide improved transportation connectivity between the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), at a time when both institutions, through University of Maryland: MPowering the State alliance, are working to promote expanded teaching and research projects involving faculty and students at the two campuses. Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Administrator Robert L. Smith will join University of Maryland, Baltimore President Jay Perman and representatives from the University of Maryland, College Park and Baltimore campuses, customers and state and local officials on Monday at a ceremony to celebrate the expansion of the Camden Line MARC Train service between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. UMCP Vice President Carlo Colella, College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows, Senator Jim Rosepepe (Chair, College Park City University Partnership) will board the first new train in College Park and join UMB leaders in Baltimore. The additional service will start this Monday, March 9, and is in response to customer requests to handle increased ridership. The new Camden Line MARC Train service consists of:
      • An additional morning eastbound train, which will depart Washington Union Station at 7:40 a.m. and College Park at 7:50 a.m.
      • An earlier afternoon eastbound train, which will depart Washington Union Station at 3:30 p.m. and will operate between Washington, D.C. and Dorsey Station.
      • An additional evening westbound train, which will depart at Dorsey Station at 4:45 p.m.
      • The 5:53pm departure from Union Station will add a stop at College Park at 6:04 p.m. This closes what is currently an hour and thirty minute gap in service to College Park.
      (Maryland MTA - posted 3/04)

      SOUTHERN 4501 WILL MAKES IT 2015 DEBUT THIS WEEKEND: Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's Southern Railway 2-8-2 4501 will make its 2015 debut in revenue service this weekend. The 4501 will see service on the Missionary Ridge Local on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning March 7. Tickets will be available at the Grand Junction Depot:. Fare is $17 for adults and $11 for Children ages 3-12. Departures are at 10:40, 12:05, 1:15, 2:25 and 3:35. Be sure to come for a visit this weekend to see 4501's 2015 debut! For additional information visit the museum's website at http://tvrail.com. (Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum - posted 3/03)

      CN AND TEAMSTERS CANADA RAIL CONFERENCE, REPRESENTING RAIL TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS, REACH A COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT: Today, the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, congratulated Canadian National Railway (CN) and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference on renewing their collective agreement. The agreement was reached with assistance from the Labour Program's Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The FMCS provides dispute resolution and dispute prevention assistance to trade unions and employers under the jurisdiction of the Canada Labour Code (Employment and Social Development Canada - posted 3/03)

      NORFOLK SOUTHERN NAMES JIM SQUIRES CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Norfolk Southern Corporation today announced that James A. Squires will succeed Charles W. “Wick” Moorman as chief executive officer. The action by the company’s board of directors is part of its planned succession process and will be effective June 1, 2015. Squires will continue in his current capacity as president and with all major divisions reporting to him, while Moorman will continue as executive chairman of the board of directors. Moorman and Squires will work closely together to ensure a seamless transition of leadership responsibilities. “Jim has the right experience and vision to advance Norfolk Southern’s traditions of safety and service,” said Steven F. Leer, NS’ lead independent director. “NS is well-positioned to continue leading and innovating, and the board of directors is confident in the ability of the entire Thoroughbred team to deliver for our customers, shareholders, and communities.” “Building on our record results in 2014, we are entering a great new time of performance and possibilities,” Moorman said. “Thanks to the dedication of Norfolk Southern people, the support of our customers and business partners, and the outstanding leadership team in place at Norfolk Southern – led by Jim Squires – I am confident that the company is poised for continued growth, success, and shareholder value creation.”    “Leading NS is an incredible honor,” Squires said. “I join our 30,000 employees in pledging that we will do everything possible to exceed the expectations of our shareholders and the people and businesses who depend on us. We welcome that opportunity, and we will meet that challenge.” Squires, 53, joined Norfolk Southern in 1992 and served in several law positions before being named vice president law in 2003, senior vice president law in 2004, senior vice president financial planning in 2006, executive vice president finance in 2007, executive vice president administration in 2012, and president in 2013. Virginia Business magazine recognized Squires with its CFO Award for Publicly Traded Companies in Virginia in 2011. Appointed by then Governor Tim Kaine, Squires also served as chairman of Virginia's Transportation Accountability Commission. A native of Hollis, N.H., Squires is a graduate of Amherst College, where he received a bachelor of arts in Ancient Greek in 1983. After graduation, he spent a year as Amherst-Doshisha Fellow at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. He then served in the U.S. Army from 1985 to 1989. In 1992, he received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where he has served as a member of the Visiting Committee. Moorman has championed public-private partnerships to create rail infrastructure that benefits America long-term, led NS’ efforts to improve its environmental footprint and sustainable business model through “conservation capitalism,” and was among the earliest freight railroaders to seek more cooperation with the long-distance passenger and commuter railroads that use freight tracks. He is an advocate of balanced regulation to best serve the interests of railroads and their customers. Said Leer, “On behalf of the entire board of Norfolk Southern, I thank Wick for his innumerable contributions as CEO. Wick raises the bar for an entire industry. His gift is to see where railroads need to go, find workable ways to get there, and generate the optimism that makes everyone want to get on the train. We will continue to benefit from that with Wick as board chair.” A native of Hattiesburg, Miss., Moorman, 63, joined NS predecessor Southern Railway in 1970 as a coop student. He was named chairman, president and CEO in 2006, succeeding David R. Goode. In 2011, Railway Age magazine named Moorman “Railroader of the Year.” (NS - posted 3/02)

      FTA AWARDS EMERGENCY RELIEF FUNDING FOR NJ TRANSIT The Christie Administration announced today that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded NJ TRANSIT $147,086,000 through the Federal Transit Administration’s Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program for repair, recovery and resiliency projects associated with Superstorm Sandy. The funding will be used to continue to advance work on the Morris & Essex and North Jersey Coast lines’ signal and communications systems; repair of traction power and distribution systems that support the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system; and, other long-term recovery efforts. In addition, the funding will allow NJ TRANSIT to advance resilience projects, including the installation of water-tight doors and barriers at the Meadows Maintenance Complex and the installation of more resilient signal systems at Hoboken Yard. “The award of this funding is an example of how we are working effectively with the federal government to qualify for and receive New Jersey’s share of repair, recovery and resiliency funding,” said Governor Christie. “We now have an additional $147 million to invest in projects that will not only help us finish the repair and recovery work, but also advance the critical resiliency program that will better position us against future events,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox. “This award means we can start putting another $147 million to work on projects that will allow us to maintain service longer during an event, or, if necessary, restore service sooner,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “These are projects that reaffirm our commitment and have a real value to our customers.” NJ TRANSIT was previously awarded approximately $144 million in Public Transportation Emergency Relief Funds May, 2013 and an additional approximately $66 million in June, 2014 (NJ Transit - posted 3/02)

      RESTORED SOUTHERN RAILWAY SD40-2: A new addition to Norfolk Southern’s “heritage fleet”. Southern Railway SD40-2 3180. was built in April of 1971 and served for Southern and Norfolk Southern until being retired in 2008. It was recently saved from the back lot and rebuilt into operating condition at NS’s Juniata Shop in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and repainted into its original Southern colors at NS’s paint shop at Debutts Yard in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 3170 will go back into revenue service, primarily assigned to yard and local service along the Piedmont Division. (NS, Rick Glosser - posted 2/26)

      FRA RAMPS UP CAMPAIGN TO ENHANCE SAFETY AT NATION'S GRADE CROSSINGS: The next phase of FRA’s efforts to improve safety at grade crossings will aim to employ smarter uses of technology, increase public awareness of grade crossing safety, including distracted driving, improve signage, work closer in partnership with states and local safety agencies, and call for new funding for greater safety at grade crossings. “Recent accidents in New York and California are important reminders of our shared challenge to both educate the public about grade crossing safety, and to enforce appropriate behavior around railroad operations,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Grade crossing and trespassing accidents are serious challenges to maintaining public safety. Every three hours of every day, someone is hit by a train in the United States and we must do all we can to heighten public awareness, strengthen enforcement efforts and pioneer new technologies to better secure public safety.” There are 250,711 grade crossings in the United States; about 51% of those are public-at-grade crossings. Only half of all public grade crossings have automatic-warning systems and only a third have flashing lights and gates. Approximately 15% of all grade crossings are grade separated – the safest of all crossings - meaning railroad traffic is completely separated from vehicle and pedestrian traffic. States and localities have traditionally played the most significant role in determining the type of warning system present at grade crossings, with most system decisions determined by traffic levels. Upgrades to existing grade crossings are also the responsibility of states and local communities. Under federal law and regulations, railroads are responsible for inspecting, testing, and maintaining highway-rail grade crossings. The FRA issues and enforces regulations on crossing safety, issues guidance on best practices and conducts research on ways to improve crossings safety. Additionally, the federal government provides more than $287.9 million annually to states to help improve and enhance safety at public grade crossings. “The reality is that while the overall number of deaths and injuries from grade crossing incidents has come down significantly over the last two decades, this remains a serious problem. We can and should be doing everything we possibly can to keep drivers, pedestrians, and train crews and passengers safe at grade crossings,” said Sarah Feinberg, Acting Administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration. “In addition to this renewed outreach to law enforcement, FRA will take a fresh look at our grade crossing programs and activities.” (FRA - posted 2/26)

      AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEB. 21, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 21, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 473,161 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 21, 2015 were 259,544 carloads, down 7.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 213,617 containers and trailers, down 15.7 percent compared to 2014. Grain was the lone commodity group to post an increase compared with the same week in 2014, up 4 percent to 22,877 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: motor vehicles and parts, down 12.2 percent to 14,980 carloads, coal, down 12 percent to 96,096 carloads and metallic ores and metals, down 9.2 percent to 20,235 carloads. For the first seven weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,982,993 carloads, up 3.7 percent from the same point last year, and 1,692,864 intermodal units, down 2.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2015 was 3,675,857 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent from last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 21, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 344,519 carloads, down 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 275,361 intermodal units, down 13.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 619,880 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first seven weeks of 2015 was 4,800,591 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 69,278 carloads for the week, down 1.2 percent, and 50,580 intermodal units, down 4.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first seven weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 938,674 carloads, containers and trailers, up 9.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,697 carloads for the week, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,164 intermodal units, down 1.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first seven weeks of 2015 was 186,060 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.8 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 2/26)

      MASSDOT BOARD NAMES DEPAOLA INTERIM MBTA GM: The MassDOT Board of Directors voted unanimously to make Frank DePaola, currently serving as Highway Administrator and MassDOT's Chief Operating Officer, Interim General Manager of the MBTA. MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack also announced today that Thomas Tinlin, MassDOT's Chief of Highway Operations and Maintenance, will serve as Acting Highway Administrator. Both appointments are effective Wednesday, March 4, 2015. "I am pleased to announce that the Board of Directors has unanimously agreed to appoint Frank DePaola Interim General Manager as we undergo a period of transition with the MBTA," said Secretary Pollack. "With the depth and breadth of Frank's experience as an engineer, a manager, and a problem-solver, I have full confidence that he has the skill sets and capabilities to serve as Interim General Manager. I also want to thank Dr. Scott for her years of service and for her strong commitment to public transportation. We wish her the very best of luck in her next endeavor." Starting in the field of engineering nearly 38 years ago, DePaola's career track includes experience in several disciplines within the field. One of those disciplines started in May 2009, when DePaola was named MBTA Assistant General Manager for Design and Construction. In that role, he directed and managed construction projects for the T, had oversight of the capital spending, and worked to ensure projects were completed in a timely and cost-effective manner. DePaola served in that capacity until April 2011, when he was named MassDOT's Highway Administrator, responsible for the operations, maintenance, and capital investments on the State Highway System. In November 2014, DePaola was named Acting Secretary of MassDOT until Jan. 13, 2015, when Governor Baker named Stephanie Pollack MassDOT Secretary and CEO. "I want to thank the Board of Directors for their trust in my abilities, and I am excited to take on this critical role at the MBTA," DePaola said. "I also look forward to assisting with the Special Panel's search to get to the root cause of the issues our transit system faces. Once the issues are diagnosed, I look forward to helping implement a strategy to restore our system to full strength, and restoring our customers' faith in our ability to provide safe, reliable, efficient transit service." "I cannot think of a better, more qualified person to take the reins immediately, and provide the necessary leadership to move our transit system in the right direction," said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. "I can leave this job I've loved, knowing that MBTA customers as well as employees are in very capable hands and I look forward to working with Frank during the transition process." Under the agency's enabling statute, the MassDOT Board of Directors is allowed to appoint a General Manager through unanimous written consent by the members of the Board. That consent was obtained late last night. The position of Highway Administrator is appointed by - and is a direct report to - the Secretary and CEO. Secretary Pollack also announced Tinlin's appointment as Acting Highway Administrator during DePaola's service as General Manager. Tinlin served as Boston's Commissioner of Transportation for over a decade before joining MassDOT in December 2013. Serving as Chief of Highway Operations and Maintenance, Tinlin's responsibilities include managing the Highway Division's day-to-day operations, scheduling a complex sequence of construction and maintenance activities to minimize impacts to the driving public. Most recently, Tinlin was the leader in coordinating the Highway Division's response to record-breaking snowfall, and providing resources to assist MEMA, the MBTA, and cities and towns with storm recovery efforts. Tinlin was also MassDOT's lead on the South Boston Waterfront Study, which brought together the city of Boston, Massport, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, A Better City, as well as neighborhood residents, businesses, and industry leaders to develop a plan to meet the existing and future transportation needs of the waterfront area. Following the 18-month study period, Tinlin now serves as the group's chair seeking to implement the plan. "I want to thank Secretary Pollack for her confidence in me and my priority of focusing on the daily operations of the Highway Division, always with the goal of having the safest, most efficient highway network possible," Tinlin said. "Additionally, I am eager to continue our progress in advancing our organization ever closer toward one, unified Department of Transportation." (Mass DOT - posted 2/25)

      KEOLIS/MBTA COMMUTER RAIL RECOVERY UPDATE: Keolis, the operator of MBTA commuter rail, announced several milestones, including the completion of snow and ice removal from all platforms and critical rail switches system-wide, as well as the addition of supplemental trains, double-decker and standard passenger cars to increase capacity and combat overcrowding.
      • Snow Removal: Over the weekend, 700 tons of snow were melted with the assistance of a snowmelter on loan from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and more than 180 truckloads of snow were removed from key maintenance facilities, while 184 railway switches were cleaned of snow and ice. Keolis employees have removed 10.6 million cubic feet of snow from station platforms since January 27th and 594 million cubic feet from tracks and track infrastructure. Service Schedule and Winter Weather Update: MBTA Commuter Rail continues to operate on a limited-service schedule (www.mbta.com/winter). as it begins repairs on its locomotive fleet and passengers should continue to plan accordingly for delays and cancelations. Keolis will remain vigilant with snow again in the forecast for Tuesday night into Wednesday, but commuter rail customers are advised to be aware of possible delays and cancelations under an already-reduced schedule.
      • Additional Trains and Capacity: Keolis has begun adding extra trains to service commuter rail lines experiencing overcrowding on trains and platforms due to the reduced schedule. These trains will be used sporadically system-wide as extra trains become available and announced via station platform signs and T-Alerts. The recovery plan intends to return three locomotives to service every week on the path to restoring regular weekday service.
      Keolis recognizes the extremely hard work of its employees as the recovery process continues, many of whom have been working around the clock since January 27th to keep and/or return trains in service, clear tracks and switches and get the system back to full service as soon as possible for our customers. (Keolis - posted 2/25)

      MTA LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD EARNS TSA's GOLD STANDARD AWARD, THE FEDERAL AGENCY'S HIGHEST SECURITY RATING: The federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that MTA Long Island Rail Road is a winner of its Gold Standard Award for 2014, the agency’s highest security rating and one granted to only five transit agencies after a nationwide competition. The LIRR was previously awarded this distinction back in 2010. The ratings are part of TSA's 2014 Baseline Assessments for Security Enhancement program, which involves a voluntary review of various security measures, ranging from security plans and training to public outreach efforts and background check programs. “This achievement is significant and shows the LIRR is committed to maintaining a strong security posture,” said Ronald J. Masciana, Special Advisor/Director Surface Division of the Transportation Security Administration, a division of the Department of Homeland Security. LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said: “The LIRR is proud to accept this honor from the TSA. Safety and security are always our top priority and this achievement owes much to the work of LIRR Chief of Security Robert Murphy, Chief Safety Officer Loretta Ebbighausen and their respective teams working in close conjunction with MTA Office of Security and the MTA Police.” The assessments are conducted by Transportation Security Inspectors with emphasis on the 100 largest systems based on passenger volume, which collectively account for over 80 percent of all users of public transit focusing on multiple categories including agency security plans, security training, drills, and exercise programs, public outreach efforts and background checks. In addition to the LIRR, the other awardees for 2014 were the Virginia Railway Express in Northern Virginia, the Washington Metro in Washington D.C. and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and Pinellas Suncoast Transit, both in Florida. (MTA - posted 2/25)

      GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES FINAL DESIGN FOR REVITALIZED HICKSVILLE STATION: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the final design for a new Long Island Rail Road station in Hicksville. The project is a $120 million investment meant to revitalize the region’s busiest transit hub and kick-start residential and commercial development in the hamlet's downtown. Renderings of the project can be viewed here. “By renovating the Hicksville station, we’re moving ahead with much-needed upgrades at one of the LIRR’s busiest outlets and breathing new economic life into the community,” Governor Cuomo said. “This rehabilitation is designed to fundamentally improve riders’ experiences at Hicksville while also setting the stage for expanded service through the East Side Access project, and I am pleased to see it moving forward.” At a community meeting last week, LIRR officials showed local residents and civic leaders the architectural renderings of a project that promises to transform the deteriorating train station, built in 1961, into a bright and modern commuter-friendly facility. Hicksville Station is the LIRR’s busiest line station with 22,000 customer trips per weekday. Both Ronkonkoma Branch trains and Port Jefferson Branch trains pass through Hicksville every day as do selected Montauk Branch trains. The station is also served by major NICE commuter bus routes running north and south on Route 106 and Route 107. The station rehabilitation is forecast to cost $68.7 million. The MTA will invest another $52.3 million for a less visible but equally important part of the project - the construction of the Hicksville North Track Siding, an additional track along the existing railroad right-of way that will support the LIRR’s plans for faster and more frequent service when its East Side Access Project is completed in 2022. East Side Access will carry LIRR riders into Grand Central Terminal on the East Side of Manhattan for the first time. Senator Jack M. Martins said: “This is a tremendous investment that will benefit both the Hicksville community and Long Island as a whole. The Hicksville station is a transit hub that serves millions of riders each year. Overhauling and upgrading the infrastructure at Long Island’s busiest train station will improve service, create jobs, and enhance the quality of life for commuters. I’m pleased to see this important project moving forward.” Assemblyman Michael Montesano said: “I am thrilled that the Long Island Rail Road station in Hicksville will finally receive the renovations that it has desperately needed for many years. This comprehensive project will greatly enhance services for all travelers – daily commuters and visitors alike. From its new modern design to its state-of-the-art technology, the station will be transformed into a more safe and efficient stop on the LIRR line. I thank the MTA and the LIRR for working together on this project and look forward to all the benefits its completion will bring to our community.” MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said: “The LIRR’s Hicksville revitalization project is a prime example of how the MTA uses its Capital Plan to benefit the people and the communities that it services. In the short term, construction means jobs. Long term, Hicksville will have a station to be proud of, improved train service and the prospect of new development that could offer property tax relief for current homeowners.” LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski noted that the agency will work closely with the Town of Oyster Bay to accommodate weekend work that is necessary to carry out the construction. Construction is not expected to impact weekday service. The Long Island Rail Road reached Hicksville on March 1, 1837 and the current station, now more than 50 years old, is plagued by poor drainage and cracked concrete as well as elevators and escalators that are nearing the end of their useful lives.
      • Hicksville Station Project Overview: $68.7 Million The LIRR’s plan calls for construction completion in 2019 with a design that will almost completely recast the station with new platforms, new fully – heated, glass-enclosed platform waiting rooms, new lighting, new translucent canopy roof, new stairways, elevators and escalators, a new video security system, audio and digital communications systems and new signage. It also includes a new street-level plaza and entrance to the waiting room/ticket office. MTA Arts & Design plans to enhance the station with an artist designed ceramic mosaic murals and laminated art glass.
      • Hicksville North Track Siding Project: $52.3 Million This project includes the installation of over three thousand feet of new track, power and signal work. This effort will connect Track 1 at Hicksville to an existing track siding situated about one-half mile west of the station platform. The connection will enable the LIRR to add three trains to the AM and PM Peak service between Hicksville and Manhattan when Grand Central Terminal opens to the LIRR with the completion of the East Side Access project in 2022. It will also improve the Railroad's ability to reroute trains in the event of maintenance, construction or service disruptions.
      • Finally, the LIRR will modernize the signal system at Divide Tower, located just east of Hicksville Station. Divide controls all train movement on the Huntington/Port Jefferson and the Ronkonkoma Branches east of Hicksville
      The design for the Hicksville Station revitalization was done by AECOM, a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environment, energy, water and government. (MTA - posted 2/24)

      RAIL FRACTURES AND UNDETECTED RAIL DEFECTS LED TO OCTOBER 2013 DERAILMENT AND FIRE INVOLVING A CN TRAIN IN GAINFORD, ALBERTA: In its investigation report (R13E0142) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that numerous rail fractures led to the October 2013 derailment and fire involving a Canadian National (CN) train in Gainford, Alberta. On 19 October 2013, a CN freight train, travelling from Edmonton, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia, derailed 13 cars, including 4 DOT 111 tank cars containing petroleum crude oil and 9 DOT 112 tank cars containing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the siding at Gainford, Alberta. Two LPG tank cars were breached during the derailment and caught fire, and a third LPG car released product from its safety valve which ignited. About 600 feet of track was destroyed and a house located directly north of the derailment site was damaged by the fire. A total of 106 homes in the vicinity of the occurrence were evacuated. There were no injuries. The investigation determined that the train derailed when one or more rail breaks occurred in the high rail as the train travelled through the curve in the Gainford siding. Numerous defects were found along the length of the high rail in the curve. A rail flaw detection test through the area 2 months earlier had not identified these defects. In March 2013, the low rail had been replaced with a new rail that reduced the curve's superelevation. In this situation, more stress was placed on the high rail, increasing the risk of rail defect development and failure. One of the DOT 112 tank cars carrying LPG was punctured in the underside by the coupler from another car. This caused it to release its load and explode. DOT 112 tank cars have increased protection on each end to withstand impacts and are equipped with double shelf couplers designed to keep derailed tank cars together during derailments. However, tank cars that come apart during a derailment and jackknife across the track are vulnerable to impacts from following cars. None of the DOT 111 tank cars, which were built to the CPC-1232 standard, released petroleum crude oil, as the cars derailed in a line on their sides and did not suffer secondary impacts. Following the occurrence, CN conducted walking inspections and rail flaw detection re-testing on all 25 mph sidings. Speed was reduced to 15 mph in these sidings until they were retested. Rail grinding within these sidings was also programmed to remove rail surface defects. (TSB, Randy Kotuby - posted 2/24)

      CSX WEST VIRGINIA OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT UPDATE: The Unified Command for the West Virginia Train Derailment Response continues to make progress restoring the environment and repairing the rail transportation system Monday. Environmental experts working with the Unified Command continue to monitor the air and water samples to ensure the safety of the community and response teams. Air monitoring techniques include mobile and stationary testing, which provides real-time results and samples that are sent to a lab to be further checked against Environmental Protection Agency-approved threshold levels. The ongoing monitoring tests for compounds found in crude oil, any associated products from the fire, and a spectrum of organic compounds that could impact air quality. The Unified Command has performed more than 20,000 tests in the community with no detections of crude oil component in the air. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is working with the Unified Command, the EPA, the National Guard’s Civil Support Team and CSX to collect water samples for testing. More than 100 samples have been collected near the banks of Armstrong Creek, around the containment zone, near West Virginia American Water’s intake points and at the water plant itself. The testing is being conducted by American Water and a lab contracted by the EPA and there is no reported impact on drinking water or public safety. “As recovery efforts progress we will continue with the robust air and water monitoring program,” said Dennis Matlock, Federal On-Scene Coordinator. “The Unified Command is committed to ensuring the safety of the community and response teams throughout the restoration process.” Officials from the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have teams of inspectors on site and are conducting a full-scale investigation into the cause of the derailment. Response teams continue pumping operations to remove oil from the derailed tank cars, reporting approximately 166,000 gallons of oil recovered directly from tank cars as of Monday morning. In addition approximately 36,000 gallons of oily-water mixture have been recovered from containment trenches dug along the river embankment near the derailment site as of Monday morning. The product and oily-water mixture is being transferred to CSX’s nearby Handley Yard. Response teams are following all federal oil-transfer guidelines to ensure safe operations. At the derailment site, teams continue safely removing empty rail cars. As of Monday afternoon, four rail cars still need to be placed on flatcars for removal. All other rail cars have been positioned for removal. Once complete, response teams will remove impacted soil and lay a new rail bed in order to rebuild the CSX railroad tracks. ( CSX - posted 2/23)

      PRELIMINARY NTSB REPORT CONCERNING DEADLY METRO-NORTH GRADE CROSSING INCIDENT: On February 3, 2015, at 6:26 pm eastern standard time, northbound Metro-North Railroad passenger train no. 659 struck a 2011 Mercedes Benz ML350 sports utility vehicle (SUV) at the Commerce Street highway rail grade crossing, DOT ID 529902V, at milepost 26.6 on the Metro-North Railroad Harlem line in Valhalla, New York. An estimated 650 passengers were aboard the train at the time of the accident of which an estimated 20 passengers were in the lead car. The driver of the SUV and five passengers on the train were killed. This highway-rail grade crossing was comprised of gates and warning lights that activate to warn motorists of an oncoming train. Train no. 659 consisted of eight electrically powered M-7 railcars. The collision resulted in a fire which consumed the SUV and lead railcar, MN 4333. The SUV was stopped on the railroad tracks in the highway-rail grade crossing and was positioned in an easterly direction when the railroad crossing gates moved to the closed position. Witnesses reported the driver of the SUV as being stopped in the crossing prior to the gates lowering. When the gate lowered it struck the rear portion of the SUV after which the driver exited the SUV, looked at the back of the SUV, then got back in the SUV, drove forward (east), and was struck by the train. The track speed in the area of the accident was 60 mph. Based on the NTSB’s preliminary review of the train’s event recorder data, the train was travelling at 58 mph prior to emergency braking and the horn was operated in accordance with operating rules on the approach to the crossing. The recorder indicated that the engineer activated the emergency brakes about 300 feet before the collision after observing what he characterized as, “a vehicle partially fouling the crossing”. Event recorder data indicated that in the 4 seconds after initiation of emergency braking the train slowed to 49 mph at which time it impacted the SUV. The train and the SUV continued northbound resulting in the damage of the electrified third rail on the west side of the track. The third rail detached, pierced the SUV, and then entered the railcar in two locations from the underside at the aft end of the left side passenger doorway. The train and SUV came to rest about 650 feet from the point of collision. An estimated 480 feet of third rail was damaged. Twelve sections of the third rail, each 39 feet long, were found inside the first passenger railcar. The NTSB will conduct a metallurgical examination of some of the third rail. Samples from the interior of the lead train car will also be examined by NTSB investigators for compliance with fire protection standards. The weather at the time of the accident was reported to be 20?F and with light wind, clear skies, and good visibility. Damage was estimated by the Metro-North Railroad at $3.7 million. The parties to the investigation include the Federal Railroad Administration, Metro-North Railroad, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, the Town of Mount Pleasant, and the New York Public Transportation Safety Board. (NTSB, Alex Mayes - posted 2/23)

      MONTREAL'S AMT COMMUTER RAIL AGENCY WILL CONTINUE TO ROLL DESPITE POSSIBLE LOCKOUT BETWEEN CN AND UNIFOR: The Metropolitan Transportation Agency (AMT) has received in the last hour insurance CN and Unifor union of maintaining the maintenance service its Deux-Montagnes line by union employees affiliated Unifor despite possible lockout with CN on Monday. So she tells her clients that the service will be maintained throughout its commuter train system. "The commuter train is an important service to thousands of citizens of the greater metropolitan area of ??Montreal. The AMT is confident that the parties will honor their commitment to our customers. They will be able to travel in comfort on the lines Two Mountains and Mascouche, news that pleased us, "said Nicolas Girard, CEO of AMT. "We will follow the situation closely and assure our customers that we will make necessary, the contingency plan mentioned in the last days." The AMT is committed to informing its customers of any development affecting the commuter train service on the Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche through notices to customers, releases, on its website (amt.qc.ca ) and information relegated to its Twitter accounts (amt_info,amt_DM,amt_MA). Importance of the maintenance of rolling stock for commuter train service CN employees affiliated with Unifor are responsible for the maintenance and inspection of trains and maintenance of the power system of the Deux-Montagnes line. The rolling stock and power supply system of the Deux-Montagnes line should be inspected daily to ensure the commuter train service. ( AMT via Google Translate - posted 2/23)

      HISTORIC WEST VIRGINIA LOCOMOTIVE WILL RETURN HOME: The North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation has reached an agreement to sell Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 No. 4, a 1926 Baldwin-built steam locomotive with deep West Virginia roots, to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad for restoration and operation in the Mountain State. The locomotive will be moved this spring to the shop in Cass, W.Va., at the Cass Scenic Railroad, now operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley, for the completion of boiler work and other repairs. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley hopes to complete the restoration in time for the locomotive’s 90th birthday in 2016. When completed, the locomotive will appear as it did in the early 1960s when it gained fame as one of the last steam locomotives in regular service in the United States. Because it was a saturated steam locomotive, it often showed signs of leakage on its smokebox front, thus earning it the nickname “Old Slobberface.” The Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pa., built the locomotive for use in Mexico, but instead it was sold to the Buffalo Creek & Gauley in Clay County, W.Va. It became one of the most photographed steam locomotives in the Eastern U.S., making its last run in 1965. The locomotive was sold to the Pennsylvania-based Quakertown & Eastern excursion operation in 1967, the Southwest Virginia Scenic Railroad in Hiltons, Va., in 1972, and the non-profit support organization for the North Carolina Transportation Museum in 1978. It was restored in 1986 and lettered and numbered as a replica of Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 604, which had been based at Spencer. The locomotive pulled the museum’s 3-mile on-site train ride for years. It last operated in November 2001 and was partially restored in the 2000s before other priorities at the museum resulted in the restoration being stopped. The locomotive was the first piece of rolling stock that a group of Southern Railway retirees restored at Spencer in 1986, a move that is regarded as the turning point for the North Carolina museum that today is the home to the largest preserved roundhouse in the nation, hosts major events such as 2014’s Streamliners at Spencer festival, and is serving as the site for the restoration of Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611. Proceeds from the sale will be used to upgrade the museum’s permanent rolling stock. “We appreciate the role that No. 4 played in the development of the North Carolina Transportation Museum,” said Steve Mersch, president of the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation. “We owe a debt of gratitude to this powerful locomotive, and we want to see it run again in its authentic garb and in its home state. It deserves the chance to run once more on a line-haul railroad. Returning it to West Virginia, where it can be restored and operated makes this a real homecoming.” "We are looking forward to returning this historic West Virginia steam locomotive to service not far from where she once operated. We are truly thankful to the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation for entrusting us to carry on the legacy of the Buffalo Creek and Gauley No. 4 steam locomotive,” said Durbin & Greenbrier Valley President John Smith. “We know it’s been the dream of many who have contributed to the preservation of this engine over the years to see it under a full head of steam and on the tracks again. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is proud to be a part of making this happen." (NC Transportation Museum - posted 2/21)

      U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY FOXX ANNOUNCES RULE TO INCREASE STATE SAFETY OVERSIGHT OF RAIL TRANSIT SYSTEMS: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today at Washington’s Union Station a proposed rule to increase oversight responsibilities of State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) by replacing the existing outdated regulatory framework with one designed to better evaluate the effectiveness of a rail transit agency’s system safety program. The Secretary’s visit was the last stop on his four-day, five state GROW AMERICA Express bus tour highlighting the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure and to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill. Reflecting new statutory safety authority established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the proposed rule issued by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) would give states more resources to increase oversight over rail transit systems. The proposed rule would require adoption and enforcement of federal and state safety laws, and require SSOAs to be financially and legally independent of the rail transit systems they oversee. In addition, FTA would enhance its authority to review and approve each State Safety Oversight (SSO) program, including triennial audits, review of annual status reports, and certification of SSOAs. If states are not meeting the statutory criteria, FTA may withhold federal funds until an SSO program is certified. Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted for sixty days after its publication in the Federal Register. “We must improve, modernize and transform rail transit safety oversight to provide the increased level of safety expected by the millions of passengers who use rail transit every day,” said Secretary Foxx. “Rail transit is a safe travel option, but we have an obligation and opportunity to make it even safer.” “FTA appreciates the continued cooperation and engagement of our state and rail transit industry partners as we take this major step forward toward a new safety regulatory framework,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “We drafted the proposed rule to ensure it allows for the flexibility and scalability needed to provide effective safety benefits for passengers and employees of transit agencies of all sizes and operating environments.” On February 2, the Obama Administration announced a plan to address the infrastructure deficit with a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal, building on the GROW AMERICA Act, which the Administration first released last year. The plan makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century. The need for these investments is clear. Earlier this month, U.S. DOT released a landmark study, “Beyond Traffic” . that looked at the trends and choices facing American transportation over the next three decades. These included a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system that’s facing more frequent extreme weather events. A key takeaway of the study was that we need to keep investing in transportation for the sake of future generations, and the proposals included in GROW AMERICA would allow us to do just that. The proposed SSO rule reflects the flexible, scalable principles of Safety Management Systems that focus on organization-wide safety policy, proactive hazard identification and risk informed decision-making as part of risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion (safety training and communications). Also this week, FTA announced that it will publish a final interim safety certification training program designed to enhance the technical competencies and capabilities of individuals responsible for direct safety oversight of rail transit systems at agency, state and federal levels; and of individuals who conduct safety audits of these systems. The interim training program becomes effective ninety days from its publication in the Federal Register. FTA plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish the permanent provisions later this year. (USDOT - posted 2/20)

      GOVERNMENT OF CANADA INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN RAIL SAFETY AND ACCOUNTABILITY: The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today introduced legislation in the House of Commons that will enhance railway safety and make the rail industry and crude oil shippers more accountable to Canadians. The new Safe and Accountable Rail Act proposes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act and Railway Safety Act. Changes include a new liability and compensation regime for federally regulated railways, including minimum insurance requirements; a compensation fund financed by levies on crude oil shippers; increased information-sharing provisions; and stronger oversight powers for the Minister and Transport Canada inspectors. The new liability and compensation regime will be consistent with those the Government has introduced for other modes of transport, such as marine tankers and oil pipelines. It is based on the "polluter pays" principle and makes railways and shippers responsible for the cost of accidents, protecting taxpayers and communities by ensuring that adequate resources are available for compensation if an accident were to occur. Proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act will broaden the powers of the Minister and inspectors to order railway companies and others to take specified measures or stop any activity deemed necessary for safe railway operations. The proposed amendments will also create new regulation-making powers requiring railway companies to share information with municipalities. These changes are part of the Government's commitment to strengthen oversight and increase collaboration between communities and the rail industry, addressing issues raised in the Transportation Safety Board's final report on the Lac-Mégantic derailment as well as concerns of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The Minister also announced the new Railway Safety Management System (SMS) Regulations, 2015. SMS Regulations require companies to develop and implement a formal framework that integrates safety into their day-to-day operations. The new regulations will help address recommendations made in the November 2013 Auditor General's report, and will reflect over 10 years of lessons learned in providing oversight of railway safety management systems. The new SMS Regulations will be published in Canada Gazette, Part II on February 25, 2015, and will come into effect on April 1, 2015. (Transport Canada - posted 2/20)

      AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEB. 14 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 14, 2015. Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week was 525,224 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 14, 2015 were 288,959 carloads, up 6.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 236,265 containers and trailers, down 0.1 percent compared to 2014. All 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by grain, up 21.5 percent to 23,262 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 17.9 percent to 31,428 carloads; and chemicals, up 9.3 percent to 31,878 carloads. For the first six weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,723,449 carloads, up 5.7 percent from the same point last year, and 1,479,247 intermodal units, which was flat compared to last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first six weeks of 2015 was 3,202,696 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.0 percent from last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 14, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 381,404 carloads, up 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 307,410 intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 688,814 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first six weeks of 2015 was 4,180,711 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 76,871 carloads for the week, up 7.8 percent, and 60,512 intermodal units, up 9.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first six weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 818,816 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,574 carloads for the week, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,633 intermodal units, up 8.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first six weeks of 2015 was 159,199 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 2/19)

      CSX OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT UPDATE: The Coast Guard, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, CSX, the West Virginia Departments of Environmental Protection and Military Affairs & Public Safety, including the National Guard, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and local agencies established a unified command in response to the West Virginia Train Derailment near Mount Carbon on the Kanawha River, Monday. “The top priorities for response personnel remain the safety of the community and responders, and mitigating the impact to the environment,” said Capt. Lee Boone, Federal On Scene Coordinator for the West Virginia Train Derailment. Response crews are continuing to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River as well as a creek near the tracks. The response crews were able to deploy about 500 feet of containment boom as a precautionary measure to limit potential impact on the environment. The use of additional boom material is being evaluated. On-scene assessments have determined that 27 cars derailed and 19 were involved in fires. Response teams have removed the rail cars that were not involved in the derailment. Response teams are beginning to remove derailed cars that have not been involved in the fires. Several small fires continue to burn at the derailment site. When safe to do so, CSX will begin transferring oil from the damaged cars to other tanks for removal from the site. No rail cars entered the Kanawha River in this incident. The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars (107 tank cars and two buffer cars). It was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Virginia. All of the tank cars were the CPC 1232 models. One person was treated for possible respiratory problems and released, but no other injuries have been reported. The cause of the derailment is under investigation. A community outreach center has been established by CSX to address community needs as a result of the train derailment. The outreach center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Glass-In Riverside Room at the Glen Ferris Inn on U.S. Route 60 in Glen Ferris. Local residents can call 877-835-5279 for additional information or assistance. (CSX - posted 2/18)

      CSX AWARDS TRAIN MUSEUM $10,000 FOR SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS: Representatives from CSX awarded the Robert W. Willaford Train Museum, located in Plant City, Florida, with $10,000 for safety improvements to update a sidewalk that currently lines up with a railroad track. They presented the check to City Commissioner Mike Sparkman and Robert Willaford and his wife, Felice. Also in attendance were volunteers and board members of the museum. In addition to the sidewalk work, the funds will go to promote railroad safety around the historic depot. (CSX - posted 2/18)

      WATCO TO PURCHASE MULTIPLE TERMINALS FROM KINDER MORGAN: Watco Companies, LLC (Watco), has reached a definitive agreement with Kinder Morgan Terminals (KMT) to purchase 31 Terminal operations in the U.S. that span from Stockton, California, to Brooklyn, New York. Watco Terminal and Port Services will be operating the 31 locations including 14 traditional rail to truck transload and switching facilities, 13 operations on inland waterways servicing bulk and break--?bulk customers to and from barge, truck, and rail, 3 sites providing deepwater stevedoring with material handling activities and 1 inland river tank farm. Consideration for the terminals is provided through an equity interest exchange with closing occurring in multiple phases beginning in the first quarter of 2015. “The Watco Team is excited to expand our outstanding relationship with KMT and to position operations in a manner that best benefits our mutual Customers,” said Watco President Rick Baden. “This is an expansion of Watco services that will bring several great connections between terminals, ports, and railroads. We think this has strong growth opportunities for each of these locations, their customers, and the communities they serve.” “We see this portfolio of transload, rail switching, and terminal facilities as a tremendous growth opportunity for Watco,” said Watco Chief Operating Officer Dan Smith. “We have restructured our operations and marketing efforts, in anticipation of the transaction, to immediately begin work on expanding our service offerings to the Customer base of these facilities and see many opportunities to grow with our Customers at these locations.” Watco has begun working with the locations and will transition Team Members to ensure uninterrupted service to the Customers. A series of meetings have been held and are scheduled to continue for Watco and KMT leaders to brief current Team Members on the transaction and explain the process for them to transition to the Watco Team.(WATCO - posted 2/18)

      CN NOT PREPARED TO ACCEPT UNIFOR DEMAND FOR CASH PAYMENTS TO UNION'S POLITICAL AND COMMUNITY ACTION FUND: CN said today the Unifor union in Canada continues to reject a fair company offer to reach a new collective agreement in line with settlements it has negotiated with three other unions. A key stumbling block is Unifor's demand that CN contribute cash to the union's political and community action fund – as a matter of principle, CN is not prepared to allow such a union agenda to take precedence over the interests of its employees. Unifor represents approximately 4,800 CN employees in mechanical, intermodal, clerical and other areas of the company's business. CN's competitive settlement offer to Unifor on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015 , called for a three-year agreement, with three per cent wage increases in each year and benefit improvements fully in line with what the company negotiated recently with the United Steelworkers (3,000 maintenance-of-way employees), Teamsters Canada locomotive engineers (1,800 employees), and the Teamsters Canada-Rail Canada Traffic Controllers (180 employees). Unifor, in rejecting CN's settlement offer, has also refused to set aside its demand that CN make cash contributions to a union fund for political and community action. Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "This is an issue of principle for us. CN is prepared to co-invest in charitable causes, but we are not prepared to support such a union agenda. "We are offering several alternatives, including binding arbitration, to keep the process moving forward toward resolution. We will continue to use our best efforts to reach an agreement with Unifor. "However, the company has now decided to modify some terms of the Unifor collective agreements, as permitted by the Canada Labour Code at this stage of the bargaining process, starting as of Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 . The targeted changes will help advance the Company's objectives of improving customer service and increasing efficiency. " Simultaneously, CN will increase Unifor members' wages by two per cent, which is greater than the current inflation rate of 1.5 per cent. While CN has signed agreements with higher wage patterns, those were reached before the economy started softening and reflected the value to CN of deals reached amicably, without the threat of disruption or potential strike action. The company believes a negotiated deal remains the best solution and continues to be committed to bargain in good faith for a renewal of the collective agreements as soon as possible. (CN - posted 2/18)

      UPDATE ON CSX OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT: CSX teams continue to work with first responders, local officials, the State of West Virginia, and the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Railroad Administration on the assessment and preliminary recovery from a derailment that occurred near Mount Carbon, West Virginia, on Monday, February 16. Overnight, CSX personnel and agencies continued their assessment of the derailment scene to verify the number of rail cars involved and the extent of the potential environmental impact. CSX estimates that approximately 25 tank cars derailed and 20 cars were involved in subsequent fires; the fires around the rail cars will be allowed to burn out. When safe to do so, CSX and its experts will begin transferring oil from the damaged cars to other tanks and those tanks subsequently removed from the site. Initial assessments have confirmed that several of the cars appear to be ruptured or leaking from valves. No rail cars entered the Kanawha River in this incident. CSX teams continue working to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the Kanawha River as well as a creek near the company’s tracks. The company also is in contact with public officials and investigative agencies to address their needs. Approximately 100-125 residents of homes near the derailment site remain evacuated at this time. CSX is working with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to address residents’ needs, taking into account winter storm conditions. The company opened a Community Outreach Center Tuesday, February 17, at 8 a.m.; the center will remain open until every day 8 p.m. EST or later if needed. CSX has secured a number of hotel rooms for displaced residents and is assisting them in relocating from evacuation centers to the hotels. Information about the available hotels and other services is available by calling 1-877-TellCSX (1-877-835-5279). The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars (107 tank cars and two buffer cars). It was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. All of the oil cars were the CPC 1232 models. One person was treated for possible respiratory problems and released, but no other injuries were reported. The cause of the derailment is under investigation. . (CSX - posted 2/17)

      CSX OPENS COMMUNITY OUTREACH CENTER FOR WEST VIRGINIA DERAILMENT: CSX has established a community outreach center to address community needs as a result of the train derailment in Mount Carbon, West Virginia. The center which will respond to affected residents and businesses is located in the Glass-in Riverside Room at the Glen Ferris Inn, US Route 60, Glen Ferris, WV 25090. CSX representatives will be on hand to handle all issues related to inconveniences caused by the evacuation. The center will be open starting Tuesday, February 17 from 8:00 am ET through 8:00 pm ET until further notice and hours will be extended as needed. CSX has secured a number of hotel rooms for displaced residents and those addresses are available by calling 1-877-TellCSX (835-5279). The immediate concern is to provide residents who have been evacuated from their homes with safe and warm housing for their families. Once the work week commences, any business loss matters will be addressed as quickly as possible when the breadth of the impact can be assessed. CSX continues to coordinate with first responders and investigative agencies to assess the needs of the community. (CSX - posted 2/17)

      CSX OIL TRAIN DERAILS IN WEST VIRGINIA: CSX teams are working with first responders on the derailment this afternoon of an oil train near Mount Carbon, West Virginia. At least one rail car appears to have ruptured and caught fire. The derailment has resulted in the precautionary evacuation of nearby communities, and precautionary suspension of operations at the Cedar Grove and Montgomery water treatment plants. CSX is working with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to address residents’ needs, taking into account winter storm conditions. These efforts include shelters for residents who have been evacuated. CSX teams also are working with first responders to address the fire, to determine how many rail cars derailed, and to deploy environmental protective measures and monitoring on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River. The company also is working with public officials and investigative agencies to address their needs. The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars and was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. One person was being treated for potential inhalation, but no other injuries were reported. (CSX - posted 2/16)

      CANADIAN PACIFIC STRIKE OVER, AS BOTH PARTIES AGREE TO BINDING ARBITRATION: Canadian Pacific and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) today agreed to enter into binding arbitration, putting an end to the work stoppage by CP's locomotive engineers and conductors. "This decision ensures both sides will get back to the table, and gets us back to moving Canada's economy forward," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "While we would have preferred a negotiated settlement, this is the right thing to do at this time." An arbitrator will be appointed by the federal government. No further details are being released at this time. On February 14, CP announced a tentative four-year agreement with its Unifor employees. Details of the tentative agreement are being withheld pending ratification by the Unifor membership. (Canadian Pacific, Bryce Lee - posted 2/16)

      CN REACHES TENTATIVE LABOR AGREEMENT WITH TEAMSTERS UNION REPRESENTING LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS IN CANADA: CN announced that it has negotiated a tentative labour agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union that represents approximately 1,800 of the company's locomotive engineers in Canada. Details of the tentative settlement are being withheld pending ratification by TCRC members. The union expects to announce the results of the ratification vote by mid-April 2015. (CN - posted 2/16)

      MBTA TO SUSPEND SERVICE THIS SUNDAY: Due to the impending blizzard conditions, all MBTA services will be suspended Sunday, February 15th. There will be no Subway, Trolley, Commuter Rail, Bus, or Ferry service the entire day. (MBTA - posted 2/13)

      CSX PREPARES FOR POSSIBLE CANADIAN STRIKE: CSX is preparing for possible impacts to its Canadian operations as a result of unresolved negotiations between the CP and CN railroads and the TCRC (Teamsters) and Unifor unions, which represent several transportation and mechanical operating crafts. CP Canadian rail workers could go on strike if a deal is not reached by 12:01 a.m. on February 15, 2015. A strike could result in halted or delayed shipments to and from Canada. CSX expects traffic would be most impacted in Buffalo and Detroit, where CSX interchanges with CP. At this point, normal CN operations are expected to continue. CSX is intensely focused on continuing to serve customers' needs and is closely monitoring the situation while preparing contingency plans that would be activated in the event of a strike. (CSX - posted 2/13)

      MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR ISSUES STATEMENT REGQRDING MBTA GENERAL MANAGER RESIGNATION: Today, Baker-Polito Administration spokesman Tim Buckley issued the following statement regarding Doctor Beverly Scott’s resignation as MBTA General Manager: “The Governor and Lt. Governor were surprised to learn of Dr. Scott's resignation this afternoon. They thank her for her contribution to the Commonwealth and are grateful for her offer of assistance as the MTBA transitions to a new General Manager. The Governor looks forward to meeting with MTBA officials tomorrow, working with them to assess the issues that have plagued the agency in recent weeks and developing operational and maintenance plans moving forward.” . (Massachusetts Governor Baker's Press Office - posted 2/12)

      STRIKE ACTION AGAINST CP COULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON COMMUTER TRAIN SERVICES IN THE MONTREAL AREA: Possible strike action against Canadian Pacific (CP) could have an impact on commuter train services in the Montréal area. Indeed, users of the Candiac, Vaudreuil-Hudson and Saint-Jérôme lines may be forced to find another mode of transportation as early as Sunday February 15. "We apologize for the inconveniences that a strike could cause," states Doug Finnson, president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC). "Our members will not be operating these trains during the time of a strike." The Teamsters, Canada Industrial Relation Board and Canadian Pacific agreed that there are no essential services that need to be supplied in the event of a legal strike or lock-out including operating commuter and grain trains. Consequently, CP management personnel could be called to provide service on the three lines should strike action be taken. Until then, meetings are scheduled between the rail carrier and the Teamsters. The union still hopes to obtain a negotiated settlement in the coming hours. The bargaining process continues to stall on the issues of installing surveillance cameras (event recorders) aboard locomotives as well as fatigue management. (Teamsters Canada - posted 2/12)

      CSX NAMES MIKE PENDERGRASS AND JERMAINE SWAFFORD TO TOP OPERATIONS LEADERSHIP POSITIONS: CSX today announced the appointment of two railroad veterans to key leadership positions in support of newly-named Executive Vice President-Operations Cindy Sanborn: Mike Pendergrass is promoted to vice president-transportation; and Jermaine Swafford is promoted to vice president regional transportation-southern region. "Mike and Jermaine personify the CSX operations team's commitment to efficiency, great customer service, and a team mentality," said Cindy Sanborn, executive vice president-operations. "Both Mike and Jermaine are proven leaders who are well-prepared to help CSX capitalize on the many opportunities we see before us as we return to industry-leading operations, and I look forward to working with them to further serve our customers." During his 30-year career in the railroad industry, including 26 years with CSX, Mike Pendergrass has served in increasingly critical leadership roles, holding positions within the special projects and labor relations organizations before being named vice president regional transportation-southern region in 2005. Pendergrass has overseen the evolution of CSX operations during some of the strongest growth years the company has experienced and helped integrate major strategic infrastructure projects seamlessly into the network. In his new role, Pendergrass will direct the daily operation of CSX's more than 1,200 trains that serve nearly two-thirds of the country's population. Jermaine Swafford has risen through the operations ranks since he joined CSX in 1998, from assistant trainmaster, trainmaster, assistant terminal manager, terminal manager and assistant division manager in various locations before assuming the role of division manager in Florence and, most recently, in Atlanta. Under Swafford's leadership, the Atlanta Division has significantly improved operating metrics and progressed to first in the company's annual Service Excellence Pinnacle Award, which recognizes customer-centric behavior and key operating metrics. As vice president transportation-southern region, Swafford will bring the same level of focus and execution to integrated operations across the southern portion of CSX's network. He will also work closely with Bob Frulla, vice president transportation-northern region to accomplish the team's goals. "CSX's customers are seeing growth in nearly all of the markets we serve, and the CSX operations team is committed to delivering service excellence to support that growth," Sanborn said. "I am confident that Mike, Jermaine, and the entire CSX operations team will continue the positive momentum of the past few months while achieving the productivity targets we have set for ourselves." (CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 2/12)

      AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEB. 7, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 7, 2015. Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week was 511,563 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 7, 2015 were 273,648 carloads, up 4.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014 while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 237,915 containers and trailers, down 3.3 percent compared to 2014. Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by grain, up 15.9 percent to 21,179 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 8.7 percent to 30,259 carloads; and forest products, up 7.3 percent to 11,422 carloads. The two commodity groups that posted decreases for the week ending Feb. 7, 2015 were farm products, down 2.9 percent to 16,290 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 0.1 percent to 15,429 carloads. For the first five weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,434,490 carloads, up 5.4 percent from the same point last year, and 1,242,982 intermodal units, which was flat compared to last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first five weeks of 2015 was 2,677,472 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.9 percent from last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 7, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,589 carloads, up 5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 303,894 intermodal units, down 0.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 667,483 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first five weeks of 2015 was 3,491,897 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 75,456 carloads for the week, up 7.3 percent, and 56,229 intermodal units, up 11 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first five weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 681,433 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent Mexican railroads reported 14,485 carloads for the week, down 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,750 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first five weeks of 2015 was 132,992 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.3 percent from the same point last year. (MBTA - posted 2/12)

      OSCAR MUNOZ NAMED PRESIDENT, CSX CORPORATION: CSX Corporation today announced that its Board of Directors unanimously elected Oscar Munoz as president, CSX Corporation, overseeing operations, sales and marketing, human resources, service design and information technology. Munoz assumes this new role effective immediately and also remains chief operating officer. "Oscar has served CSX with distinction as both chief operating officer and chief financial officer, and I am proud to welcome him to this new role," said Michael J. Ward, chairman and chief executive officer. "Oscar's insights and experience in his critical CSX roles over the past 12 years, combined with his extensive executive experience at major multinationals before joining our company, position CSX to capitalize on a dynamic global market and growing demand for freight rail services, today and into the future." Before joining CSX in 2003, Munoz served as chief financial officer and vice president of AT&T Consumer Services. He also has held key executive positions with other major corporations including The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, Inc. "It is a privilege to take on this role at a time when CSX is becoming stronger than ever," said Munoz. "Together with our 31,000 talented employees and this experienced leadership team, CSX is intensifying the execution of its core strategy to capitalize on the many growth opportunities before us and create sustainable value for our customers, our shareholders and the communities we serve." CSX also today announced the promotion of Vice President and Chief Transportation Officer Cindy Sanborn to the position of executive vice president-operations, reporting to Munoz, effective immediately. Over more than 25 years with CSX, Sanborn has risen through the operating department to a number of senior leadership roles, including vice president of Northern Region operations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Conrail, the Belt Railway of Chicago and the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. "Cindy is uniquely qualified to lead CSX's operations in this complex environment, with an unparalleled breadth and depth of experience and strong relationships across our industry," Munoz said. "She has helped transform our team with her focus on customers and operational efficiency as well as key contributions to diversity recruiting and employee development."With respected leaders moving into new roles at the highest levels, I am confident in CSX's ability to continue gaining momentum to deliver on its commitments to shareholders, customers and our employees," said Michael Ward. "We look forward to this new era of leadership at CSX." (CSX - posted 2/11)

      TOM E. DAILEY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES GRANTS: On February 7 the Board of Directors of the Tom E. Dailey Foundation is pleased to announce the approval of the following 11 grant awards totaling $40,300 at its February 7, 2015 quarterly board meeting. Since its creation in 2013, the Tom E. Dailey Foundation has awarded grants totaling $345,300.
      • National Capital Trolley Museum - Silver Spring, MD $2,500 This grant will partially fund renovation of Capital Traction Company 522, a street car built in 1898 for use in the nation’s capital. The undercarriage of the car is not original and interferes with the support of the car body. The museum has located an original undercarriage for replacement. Since 1965, this organization has operated in Montgomery County, Maryland, including a collection of 17 street cars, thousands of photographs and documents, and hundreds of trolley ephemera. In fiscal year 2013, the museum hosted 12,611 visitors.
      • Center of Science and Industry (COSI) - Columbus, OH $10,000 The grant will support COSI Academy scholarships, COSI’s newly-opened planetarium and a historical movie program. COSI Academy is a career exploration program for high school students considering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. The new COSI Planetarium, with state-of-the-art digital projection technology, will enable visitors to experience this dynamic learning tool to explore space. The COSI historical movie program presentation of the film “Jerusalem” will take viewers on a tour of one of the world’s oldest cities with its rich history and tapestry of cultures.
      • Western New York Railway Historical Society - Orchard Park, NY $2,000 The grant will partially fund an upgrade to the security system at the Williamsville Depot. The depot has suffered two break-ins and broken windows. The society was formed in 1980 to preserve the Buffalo area’s rich rail history. They have 40 pieces of rolling stock, five of which are leased to an excursion service. Their museum, the Heritage Discover Center, is on-site along with two passenger depots. They have 450 member volunteers that serve the Williamsville community of 122,000.
      • Rufus Porter Museum, Inc. - Bridgton, ME $1,800 This grant award will fully fund the creation of a model of the Broadway Elevated Railroad based on Rufus Porter's design and drawing, which was published in Scientific American, a publication he started and edited. The Broadway Elevated Railroad model will become part of their permanent collection and be on display in the Rufus Porter invention gallery to immerse visitors in how creative thought shapes their future. The Rufus Porter Museum was founded in 2005 to preserve the works of Rufus Porter (1792-1884), an itinerant artist, inventor, and writer.
      • Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Inc. - Chama, NM $5,000 One of this New Mexico-based organization’s primary missions is to preserve and restore the most unique examples of Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RG) narrow gauge historic rolling stock, some dating back as early as 1880. This project is the restoration of Tourist Sleeper Car 0252/470—emblematic of the D&RG in its prime operating years. Underway since 2009 (and estimated to be completed by 2018), this restoration project will see Car 470 restored to its original use upon leaving the Pullman factory in Detroit in 1889. The group has restored several notable examples of rolling stock on the D&RG, and their restoration and preservation efforts have been nationally recognized. In 2012, they received the Preserve America Stewards award by First Lady Michelle Obama.
      • Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, Inc. - North Freedom, WI $1,000 This Wisconsin-based group is restoring the East Jordan & Southern No. 2 passenger car originally built in 1864 for the Grand Trunk Railway. The museum obtained the car in 1963 when the EJ&S ceased operations. The restoration will proceed in two phases: first, the exterior will be restored to provide a weather-tight structure, then interior repairing and refinishing. The group operates a museum to preserve and interpret the railroad legacy for the educational benefit of the public and a 4-mile demonstration railroad during the summer.
      • Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum - Wallace, ID $2,500 Funding will assist with replacement of the depot’s cedar roof. This 30-years-old group owns the Northern Pacific depot/museum. The depot was built in 1901 and served as a passenger and freight depot for nearly 100 years. In 1976 it was the first building in downtown historic Wallace, Idaho, to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1984 the depot was relocated to make way for the Interstate 90 Coeur d’Alene spur. The structure was refurbished and reopened in 1986 as the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum. The depot is now in the heart of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District. It is in need of a new roof, and the group is fortunate enough to have the original plans, which call for #1 cedar shingles. In September 2016, the group will host the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association national convention.
      • Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad - Peninsula, OH $7,500 Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is restoring their Saint Lucie Sound luxury observation car built in 1946, with the overall restoration cost is projected to be $242,000. CVSR was founded in 1972 by a group of concerned citizens who felt that passenger rail should be preserved and enjoyed along the historic Valley Line between Cleveland and Akron. CVSR exists today to provide an alternative way for the public to engage in Cuyahoga Valley National Park—Ohio’s only national park. Trains travel 26 miles from Independence, passing through the 33,000 acre national park to Akron and back. On average, 180,000 passengers travel the route annually.
      • Douglas County Museum Foundation - Roseburg, OR $1,500 This well-established organization (Museum, 45 years; Foundation, 32 years) is restoring Oregon & California (O&C) Railcar #3001, which is believed to be the only remaining O&C railcar in existence. The restoration of the railcar and the O&C rail station (a separate project) will help the museum preserve this one-of-a-kind artifact and in doing so help the museum tell the impactful story of the Oregon & California Railroad through the exhibit space, historic train themed film showings, and other thematically focused events..The total cost for the project is $195,000 of which DCMF has already raised $145,000 . While the museum’s primary focus is on the local community and area school children, it serves about 10,000 visitors per year of which 35% are out of area.
      • Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation - Youngstown, OH $1,500 Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation, a 21-year-old organization, is undertaking the restoration of Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. 0-4-0 No. 58, a 23” gauge steam locomotive built by the H. K. Porter Co. in 1937 for use at the Jones & Laughlin Pittsburgh Works. The locomotive is unique because of its heavy design with a high pressure boiler for extremely high traction in order to haul the tonnage of ingots and molds. The grant will assist with fabrication of the previously removed cab section back to its original design along with the saddle type water tank. In addition to restoring the locomotive, the project includes 300 feet of running track so that when the locomotive is fired, its use in the historically important Youngstown steel industry can be demonstrated regularly to the community and visitors.
      • Venice Historic Preservation League, Inc. - Venice, FL $5,000 Venice Historic Preservation League is taking the lead to bring a circus train car to the historic Venice train depot by acquiring, refurbishing and displaying on existing rail a car representing the living quarters of circus performers during the time that the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus wintered in Venice. An exhibit area will provide displays about the relationship between the circus and the railroad, both locally and nationally. Exhibits will also educate the public about the many interdependencies between the circus and local community.
      (Tom E. Dailey Foundation - posted 2/10)

      AMTRAK TRAIN DAYS TO CELEBRATE REASONS TO RIDE: In 2015, America’s Railroad® is launching Amtrak Train Days (ATD) to celebrate with local communities why trains matter and reasons to ride. Due to the past success of the “National Train Day”, Amtrak is expanding its community program from multiple events on a single day to individual events over the course of spring, summer and fall. Amtrak Train Days will demonstrate why “Trains Matter” by sharing with the local communities we serve the ‘reasons to ride’ the train. ATD will focus on reaching current and new audiences across America to reinforce the importance, benefits and value of passenger train travel. ATD will officially kick off on May 9, 2015 at Chicago Union Station and then will travel across the country during the summer and fall. ATD celebrations will feature a combination of outreach tools, including a dedicated tour of the Amtrak Exhibit Train in select markets, interactive displays of the Amtrak experience at events sponsored by community organizations, Amtrak employee guest speakers, media and event promotions, and an ATD toolkit to support local community activities. Communities from across the nation are invited to join in the celebration of passenger train travel by hosting their own ATD events during 2015. For more information visit AmtrakTrainDays.com . (Amtrak - posted 2/09)

      CN CONTINUES RECORD-SETTING GRAIN MOVEMENTS: Claude Mongeau , president and chief executive officer of CN, with the grain supply chain in Western Canada . By the end of January 2015 -- half-way through the 2014-15 Western Canada grain crop year -- CN had transported 18 per cent more loaded grain covered hoppers in Western Canada than during the comparable period of the 2013-14 crop year. During the 2013-14 crop year, CN helped Canada to dispose of its largest-ever crop -- at 77 million tonnes -- and set an all-time record for grain exports at 42 million tonnes. CN's strong performance in 2014-15 is helping Canada's grain supply chain to be on track for another banner year. The cumulative grain tonnage moved by CN since March 2014 , when the federal government instituted minimum grain volumes for the major railways, has exceeded the company's mandated volumes by two million metric tonnes. Mongeau said: "CN is working closely with its grain customers to make sure all end market segments? receive proper service, and we are current in all the corridors we serve for grain destined to overseas and North American markets. "CN is proud of its performance and the role it's playing in helping Canadian grain growers efficiently reach world markets with exceptional volumes of grain for a second straight year." (CN - posted 2/09)

      U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCES $120 MILLION LOAN FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO CHICAGO BLUE LINE: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the closing of a $120 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for major improvements to the Blue Line of CTA’s “L” rail service, which will upgrade tracks and stations between the downtown Loop and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Secretary Foxx participated in a ceremony in Chicago with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Every Chicagoan knows how important it is to be able to take a convenient, reliable trip on the L to and from O’Hare,” said Secretary Foxx. “By upgrading the Blue Line, this project will improve access to 21st century transportation for the entire region. Going forward, we want to bring these opportunities to other parts of the country, working with Congress to develop a long-term funding solution for transit, roads, bridges and other crucial infrastructure.” Significant upgrades to the track, power supply, and signal system along the 19-mile stretch of the Blue Line between the Loop and O’Hare Airport stations will reduce and eliminate “slow zones,” resulting in faster, more reliable service. The over 80,000 riders who use the Grand-O’Hare branch daily will also see improvements to stations along the line to enhance accessibility and comfort, from brighter lights and cleaner tunnels to new elevators and artwork. “The Blue Line is critical to the city of Chicago and the TIFIA loan reduces financing costs to ensure the CTA can complete this project and have a more robust capital plan going forward,” said Sylvia Garcia, DOT Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs. In addition to the $120 million TIFIA loan, the four-year, $408.7 million Blue Line renovation (known as “Your New Blue”) will be supported by $16 million in DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds awarded to CTA in 2012, with the remainder coming from state, local, and other sources. The project represents the largest upgrade of the Blue Line since it was extended to O’Hare in 1984. “For residents and visitors alike, the L is a lifeline to jobs, attractions, events, and all that Chicago has to offer,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “With this project, CTA, the City of Chicago, and the State of Illinois continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve.” The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Each dollar of federal funding can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment. Since its launch, the TIFIA program has helped 49 projects turn more than $21 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation assistance into more than $76 billion in infrastructure investment across America. As part of the President’s Build America program, the Department has revamped the TIFIA website with a cleaner design, helpful tools, and interactive map that make it easier than ever to learn about how TIFIA helps projects get built using innovative financing. The new site is located at http://www.dot.gov/tifia . The Obama Administration has proposed the GROW AMERICA Act to expand financing options under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which leverages Federal dollars by facilitating private participation in transportation projects and encouraging innovative financing mechanisms that help advance projects more quickly. The Act will provide $6 billion over 6 years, which will result in $60 billion of direct loans. In addition, the Act increases the accessibility of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program by reducing the cost of obtaining a loan for short line railroads and increases the availability of Private Activity Bonds by raising the existing $15 billion cap to $19 billion. (USDOT - posted 2/06)

      MTA AWARDS CONTRACT TO BUILD LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD'S FUTURE TERMINAL UNDER GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it has awarded a contract to GCT Constructors, JV, a joint venture consisting of Schiavone Construction Co. and John P. Picone Inc., to build the future Long Island Rail Road concourse at Grand Central Terminal. The $404.8 million dollar contract, which with options could increase to a total of $428.9 million, was awarded after a competitive request for proposal process that drew nine other firms. Funding for this Contract will come from a Federal Grant through the Federal Transit Administration and MTA local funds. Under the contract, workers will build the architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical facilities, escalators and elevators, that will comprise the future LIRR 375,000 square-foot passenger train concourse and related ventilation plants at 44th and 50th Streets. Work in the concourse includes building 17 deep escalators at 45th, 46th, 47th and 48th Streets and installing elevators connecting the LIRR passenger concourse to the train station caverns 140 feet below Park Avenue. The work also includes installation of emergency egress stairs and the associated architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical finishes and equipment. The contract includes major civil work to create passenger connections from the new LIRR Concourse up to Grand Central’s Lower Level Dining Concourse, Grand Central’s Biltmore Room on the Upper Level, the 47th Street Cross Passageway, and the 45th Street cross passageway. For the first time since construction activities began, work at the landmark station will be proceeding in view of the public. “Up to this point, East Side Access work at Grand Central Terminal has been largely unseen by the public. This contract finally brings the construction from 140 feet below-ground up to the dining concourse at GCT and in other places where the public will finally start to see what’s been going on right underneath their feet,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President, MTA Capital Construction. The contract also requires mechanical and electrical fit-out of ventilation buildings at 44th and 50th Streets, including installation of eight large fans as well as associated system equipment. The ventilation building structures have been built as part of prior contracts. “This world class project will be an economic game-changer for New York City and Long Island. There is no other transit infrastructure project in the United States that is as complex as East Side Access or carries as much economic promise for the region it will serve,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. The East Side Access project will bring trains from all 11 branches of the Long Island Rail Road into a new terminal being built beneath Grand Central Terminal. The new connection will increase the LIRR’s capacity into Manhattan, and dramatically shorten travel time for Long Island and eastern Queens commuters traveling to the east side of Manhattan. It will also provide easier access to JFK airport from Grand Central Terminal by bringing customers to Jamaica Station, where they can transfer to the AirTrain (MTA - posted 2/05)

      AAR REPORTS INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR FIRST MONTH OF 2015 AND FOR WEEK ENDING JANUARY 31, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for January 2015, with both carload and intermodal volume increasing compared with January 2014. For the first month of 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,165,909 units, up 70,522 or 3.4 percent over January 2014. The average of 541,477 combined units per week in January 2015 was the second highest for a January on record, behind only January 2006. U.S. freight railroads originated 1,160,842 carloads in January 2015, up 5.6 percent or 61,864 carloads over January 2014. Total carloads averaged 290,211 per week in January 2015, the most for January since 2008. For intermodal containers and trailers, U.S. railroads originated 1,005,067 units in January 2015, up 8,658 units or 0.9 percent over January 2014, and an average of 251,267 units per week, which is the highest weekly average for January in rail industry history. In January 2015, 18 of the 20 carload commodity categories the AAR tracks saw carload gains compared with January 2014. Commodities with the biggest carload increases were coal, which was up by 19,078 carloads, or 4.4 percent over last year; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 14,922 carloads, or 22.1 percent; grain, up 8,955 carloads, or 10.4 percent; chemicals, up 4,673 carloads, or 4 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 3,981 carloads or 6.9 percent. Excluding coal, carloads were up 42,786 carloads, or 6.4 percent in January 2015 over January 2014. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. rail carloads were up 33,831 carloads, or 5.8 percent in January 2015. "January was a good start to the year for U.S. railroads, helped by the fact that the winter so far this year hasn't been nearly as bad as it was last year," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "The AAR recently estimated that U.S. railroads spent a record $27 billion on capital spending and maintenance expenses in 2014, and we're projecting $29 billion in 2015. This massive spending is making it possible for railroads to move their customers' freight more efficiently and reliably and steadily recover from 2014's service issues." Week Ending Jan. 31, 2015 and North American Traffic Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending January 31, 2015 was 548,476 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.9 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 298,568 carloads, up 10.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 249,910 containers and trailers, up 1.1 percent compared to 2014. Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, led by nonmetallic minerals, up 18.4 percent to 31,725 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, up 17 percent to 15,503 carloads; and grain, up 15.7 percent to 24,225 carloads. The lone commodity group to post a decrease compared with the same week in 2014 was the category of miscellaneous carloads, down 10.7 per cent to 6,870 carloads for the one week. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 31, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 393,756 carloads, up 10.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 322,135 intermodal units, up 6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 715,891 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first four weeks of 2015 was 2,822,065 carloads and intermodal units, up 5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 79,791 carloads for the week, up 13 percent, and 61,500 intermodal units, up 32.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first four weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 549,748 carloads, containers and trailers, up 12.7 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,397 carloads for the week, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,725 intermodal units, up 3.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first four weeks of 2015 was 106,408 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 2/05)

      GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES METRO-NORTH RAILROAD WILL RESUME SERVICE ON HARLEM LINE FOR AM COMMUTE: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced tonight that Metro-North will resume train service on the Harlem Line tomorrow morning for the first time since Tuesday night’s collision between a passenger train and a SUV near Valhalla Station. Metro-North customers should expect delays as trains will have to slow down as they pass through the work zone at the site of the accident. The first train to operate over the crossing will be the 4:26 a.m. departure from Southeast, which is due into Grand Central at 5:30 a.m. Governor Cuomo said: “The MTA is working non-stop through the night to rebuild the damaged section of track and restore service in time for the morning commute. I want to thank everyone for their tireless efforts in the wake of this devastating accident. My thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of the victims of Tuesday night's tragedy during this painful time.” The accident had forced Metro-North to suspend service between Pleasantville and North White Plains relying on buses to successfully bridge the gap for thousands of customers while investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted the initial on-site component of their investigation. Late this afternoon, the NTSB gave Metro-North permission to clear the wreckage from the crash site and workers using a high-rail crane removed the damaged automobile at about 5:30 PM. A locomotive was then attached to the south end of the disabled M-7 train and the eight-car train was towed to the Metro-North yard in North White Plains. Workers from Metro-North’s Power, Track and Signal Departments then began the task of rebuilding some 500 feet of electrified third rail. Workers also had to repair damaged circuits, inspect the running rail and test signals damaged in the accident and subsequent fire. Commerce Street will remain closed to vehicular traffic until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation, which is expected to occur mid-afternoon Thursday. (MTA - posted 2/05)

      NEW ENGLAND RAILROAD SCENE SLIDE SHOW: The New York Society of Model Engineers, Inc. presents The New England Railroad Scene  A Slide Show & Discussion by Rail Historian Victor Zolinsky. He began his photographic collection in the late 1940's and early 50's in the areas around Keene, NH, Boston & Springfield, Mass., taking special interest in the Boston and Maine. He later expanded his interests to include the New York Central and the New Haven, during the 50's & 60's, and "hired on" to the New Haven Railroad in 1956 as a tower man working his way up to the position of trainmaster at Grand Central Terminal, in New York. Along with his photographs he will be discussing the operations of these lines that he has gained through his years of first hand experience. .
      • When FRIDAY February 6, 2015 At 8:00 pm  (Doors Open 7:30 pm)
      • Where RUTHERFORD AMBULANCE CORPS MEETING ROOM, 44 AMES AVENUE, RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY 07070.  One Block from the Rutherford Train Station Parking in Municipal Lot Across Street
      For additional information visit the website http://www.modelengineers.org. (New York Society of Model Engineers - posted 2/04)

      NATIONAL TRAIN DAY BECOMES AMTRAK TRAIN DAYS: For the past seven years, over 300 communities in all 50 states have celebrated their love of trains on National Train Day. This year, Amtrak is expanding the celebration to better support all communities and evolve it into a traveling, community-centric experience under the new name of Amtrak Train Days. Amtrak Train Days is kicking off at Chicago Union Station on May 9th, and then we hit the rails, traveling to over 20 locations across the country May through October. While the touring event can’t stop in every community, Amtrak invites local stations, state partners, rail industry colleagues and communities to join in the celebration of train travel by hosting their own Amtrak Train Days events, whether on May 9, as part of the kick-off, or during a local event that your community chooses on another date. (Amtrak - posted 2/04)

      HARLEM LINE COLLISION UPDATE: MTA Chairman & CEO Thomas Prendergast and Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti are working today in collaboration with the National Transportation Safety Board on its investigation regarding last evening’s collision between a passenger train and SUV near Valhalla Station. MTA Metro-North Railroad is accompanying the NTSB with its initial on-site investigation of the incident. MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said: “The entire MTA family’s thoughts are with the relatives and loved ones of the victims of last night’s tragedy. We are tremendously saddened by this tragic accident, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them. We also thank the first responders who assisted with safely removing the passengers from the trains and transporting those who were injured to area hospitals. And we extend our gratitude to the American Red Cross, local hospitals and communities who have provided care and assistance during this difficult time, and Town of Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi for making Town Hall available.” Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti said: “We want Metro-North’s customers to know that they can remain confident that their safety, and the safety of our employees, is always the first priority in everything we do. We will work closely with the NTSB and local officials to determine the exact cause of this tragedy, and work to ensure such incidents are not repeated.” For people who had loved ones who may have been affected by the accident, Metro-North has established a family assistance center at the Office of the Westchester County Medical Examiner, 10 Dana Road, Valhalla. Information also is available at 1-800-METRO-INFO (800-638-7646). MTA PD have also set up a hotline at (718) 361-2402 for passengers and family members affected by the accident to report missing persons, file claims, inquire about missing property, etc. Metro-North train service will remain suspended between Pleasantville and North White Plains until further notice due to this incident. Limited bus/train service for Upper Harlem Line customers is available on the website at www.mta.info. As the NTSB announced this morning, the train will remain until the NTSB completes the on-site investigation and the train will then be removed. At that time Metro-North will make repairs and regular service through this area will resume (MTA - posted 2/04)

      MONTREAL ADOPTS NEW GUIDELINES FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS NEAR RAILWAY OPERATIONS: The City of Montreal has become the first major urban area in Canada to adopt the Guidelines for New Development in Proximity to Railway Operations into its long-term development plan. The guidelines – developed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Railway Association of Canada (RAC) as part of their joint Proximity Initiative – address railway-community issues concerning noise, vibration, and safety. "We're very pleased to see the proximity guidelines included in Montreal's long-term vision," said Sean Finn, FCM-RAC Proximity Initiative Co-Chair. "Ultimately, this will provide for safer, more livable conditions for Montrealers moving forward." The Montreal Agglomeration Council – which represents the City of Montreal and 15 independent cities on the island of Montreal – approved Montreal's Development Plan on Jan. 29. The plan will steer the city's development and land use planning over the next 10 years, and identifies requirements – such as setback distances and vibration thresholds – which must be met if sensitive land uses are proposed adjacent to a main railway line or yard. Developers must also fulfill the guidelines' requirements when completing a viability assessment to ensure safety. "Montreal is a built up environment with many neighbourhoods in transition," said Proximity Initiative Co-Chair and mayor of Marwayne, Alta., Jenelle Saskiw. "In this case, the guidelines concerning redevelopment, infill and conversions are particularly relevant." The Province of Quebec and the Montreal Metropolitan Community will review the updated plan before the cities of the agglomeration update their respective urban plans. In September, the City of Montreal won the first-ever Merrill Henderson Award for its proactive approach to identifying and planning for new residential developments in proximity to railway operations. "We appreciate the commitment of (Lachine mayor and past FCM president) Claude Dauphin and (Montreal Executive Committee Member responsible for Urban Planning) Russell Copeman," said Proximity Initiative Project Manager, Cynthia Lulham. "The final outcome reflects their continued support." ( Railway Association of Canada - posted 2/04)

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