November 17, 2017:
NORFOLK SOUTHERN THANKSGIVING PLANS:
Norfolk Southern will operate a normal road train schedule for the upcoming 2017 Thanksgiving holiday. Local and Yard trains will operate as governed by volumes and customer needs.
(NS - posted 11/16)
CANADIAN PACIFIC'S HOLIDAY TRAIN:
?With its biggest ever lineup of Canadian talent, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train is set to close out Canada 150 with its 19th annual tour.
The CP Holiday Train program launched in 1999 and has since raised more than C$13 million and four million pounds of food for communities along CP's routes in Canada and the United States.
Beginning in Montreal, Quebec, on November 25 and 26, 2017 respectively, two trains will make the festive journey, travelling through both the U.S. and Canada to bring holiday cheer to 171 communities along CP's network. Each event is completely free, with CP encouraging every attendee to open their cupboards or wallets to ease hunger needs in their community. Local food banks will be accepting donations at each stop to ensure those less fortunate can access adequate food this holiday season and year-round.
"The Holiday Train program is all about local food banks and food shelves and the critical role they play in our communities," said Keith Creel, CP's President and Chief Executive Officer. "People come for the beautifully-lit train and stay for the incredible show – all in the name of community. The holiday season is the best time of the year, and we look forward to bringing together thousands of Canadians and Americans this season for this incredibly important cause and a great time."
CP is also encouraging fans of the train to donate heart-healthy food, as everyone should have access to healthy, nutritious food, regardless of circumstances. This supports the mission of CP Has Heart, a program dedicated to improving the heart health of men, women and children in North America. To date, this program has raised C$12 million for cardiac care and research.
The 2017 edition of the Holiday Train also concludes CP's Canada 150 celebrations and the Canadian train will feature the Spirit of Tomorrow car, which was part of the Canada 150 Train this past summer.
"I am delighted that Canadian Pacific will be bringing joy and holiday cheer to communities across the country with a special Canada 150 edition of their Holiday Train. What a wonderful way to bid farewell to this remarkable year, as we look to the future with hope and optimism," said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.
In line with the Canada 150 celebrations, the CP Holiday Train boasts its most stacked lineup of all-Canadian artists on tour in the program's history, including multiple Canadian Country Music Award and Juno Award winners.
Musical guests Colin James and Emma-Lee will kick off the Canadian leg in Montreal, QC on November 26, performing through to Calgary, AB. Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Band will take over in Calgary and continue the journey to Port Moody, B.C. The U.S. leg will feature Jim Cuddy, Devin Cuddy and Kelly Prescott from the kickoff in Montreal on November 25, through the northeastern U.S. to Windsor, ON. Terri Clark and Dallas Smith will then hop on board with Kelly Prescott to complete the trip from Chicago, IL to Brooks, AB. Jonathan Roy will give a Francophone performance at all stops in Quebec.
First-time CP Holiday Train stops this year include: St. Constant, QC; Chatham, ON; Neepawa, MB; Yorkton, SK; Bawlf, AB; Okotoks, AB; Oconomowoc, WI; Kasson, MN; and Mahnomen, MN. A full schedule is available at www.cpr.ca/holiday-train.
People visiting the Holiday Train are encouraged to take photos and enter CP's Capture the Spirit photo contest. Participants could win a trip aboard the 2018 CP Holiday Train as well as a $1,000 donation to their local food bank. Further details about the contest will be available closer to the start of the program on the Holiday Train Facebook page at
To help make this year the best yet for local food banks and food shelves, the Holiday Train asks fans to follow the train on social media, invite their friends and family and spread the message about the importance of heart-healthy donations by using #HealthyDonations. Supporters can follow the Holiday Train on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CPHolidayTrain. As part of Canada 150, CP and the Canada 150 Federal Secretariat are also partnering to promote the Holiday Train and the conclusion of the sesquicentennial celebrations. Use #Canada150 and #CPHolidayTrain as you track the progress of the Canadian train.
(CP - posted 11/16)
AMTRAK SETS RIDERSHIP, REVENUE AND EARNING RECORDS:
Amtrak posted record ridership, revenue and earnings for its Fiscal Year, which ended Sept. 30, 2017:
In ridership, Amtrak achieved year-over-year increases from FY 2016 for all of its service lines:
- Ridership: 31.7 million passenger trips – increased 1.5 percent over FY 2016
- Total Revenue: $3.2 billion – increased 1.1 percent over FY 2016
- Operating Earnings: ($194 million) – improved 15.7 percent over FY 2016
Amtrak also achieved a new record for cost recovery, covering 94.7 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues.
“We provided a vital transportation service to more customers and created strong value for the federal investment,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “And we’re going to do even better. Over the next several years, we’re aiming to cover total operating costs from ticket and other revenues by strengthening our services and continuing to drive efficiency. To do this, we are making investments in tracks and stations, on our trains, and in the delivery of customer service so that we can serve more customers with a better experience.”
“Amtrak had a record-breaking year in 2017. To our customers and partners, we thank you for your business. To our employees, we commend you on your dedication and service,” said Amtrak Co-CEO Wick Moorman. “More and more people are choosing rail travel and for good reason. Amtrak offers a more comfortable and convenient travel experience with great amenities such as free Wi-Fi on most trains, plenty of leg room, and no middle seat.”
Other Amtrak highlights in FY 2017 include:
- Northeast Corridor (NEC): 12 million riders – increased 1 percent and was the NEC’s highest ridership year ever
- State Supported Services: 15 million riders – increased 2.1 percent
- Long-Distance Routes: 4.6 million riders – increased 0.9 percent
(Amtrak - posted 11/16)
- Completed more than $420 million of state of good repair and renewal infrastructure work, including significant track replacement, numerous projects in the New York area, and a new maintenance facility in Seattle.
- Began a major Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station, which accelerated important construction work. Amtrak installed 897 track ties, 1,100 feet of rails (or six football fields of track), 1,000 tons of ballast, 7 turnouts (switches), 4 complex diamond crossings, and 176 yards of concrete.
- In coordination with our state partners in Illinois, Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington, deployed state-purchased Charger diesel locomotives on certain routes, enhancing customer comfort, safety, reliability, and emissions levels.
- Designated a Master Developer for Chicago Union Station for a six-year, $1 billion redevelopment of the station and adjacent property. Amtrak is also continuing a multi-year repair program of the Great Hall atrium in the station.
- Streamlined Amtrak’s senior management structure for increased organizational effectiveness, better alignment with the account structure created in the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act), and greater transparency to customers and stakeholders.
- Continued with our deleveraging of the Amtrak balance sheet, decreasing total debt from $3.3 billion at Sept. 30, 2007 to $1.2 billion at Sept. 30, 2017, a reduction of 64 percent over the 10 year period.
- Launched a new Winter Park Express in Colorado, serving more than 18,000 customers.
- Invested in customer-facing enhancements such as new Amfleet I car interiors and improved Wi-Fi service on our Acela Express
- Continued to be an industry leader in efficient sales distribution with more than four-fifths of Amtrak’s customers using Amtrak’s self-service channels for their reservations and ticketing.
- Increased membership in the Amtrak Guest Rewards program by 19 percent.
- Launched a national partnership with Lyft. Eighty percent of Amtrak customers who have used Lyft indicate it makes their Amtrak trip easier. Amtrak will explore opportunities with additional travel partners in 2018 to provide additional connectivity to and from Amtrak trains.
- Completed “Project unITy,” a corporate-wide effort to integrate, simplify and centralize technology and data services to better meet customer expectations and foster easier communication among Amtrak’s national workforce.
SEPTA LAUNCHES NEW VERSION OF OFFICIAL MOBILE APP:
SEPTA has launched a new version of its Official App for Apple and Android devices, enhancing travel tools for customers and creating a more personal experience from their mobile devices.
"The new app was built with customer comments and feedback in mind," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "It offers greater ease to check schedules and find service information."
Among the features is a refreshed version of TrainView, which provides visual location updates for Regional Rail trains approximately every 30 seconds - allowing the Official SEPTA App to deliver the most current information about scheduled service and in-service delays. This new version of TrainView is also available on SEPTA's website, www.septa.org.
TrainView automatically formats to any device, so riders can view it from a computer at work, a mobile device, or tablet without having to adjust the size. It allows customers to track the progress of any train on an interactive map. These features will soon be available for buses with TransitView, which is in final testing. Like TrainView, customers will be able to access TransitView through the Official SEPTA App and at www.septa.org.
The new Official SEPTA App is now available as a free download in both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Customers looking for the App should search for "Official SEPTA App" and look for the SEPTA logo. Some of the other features included in the updated App include:
Simple, easy to understand navigation to get you directly to your preferred mode of travel.
For more information about the Official SEPTA App, including instructions on
how to download it and update existing downloads to the latest version, please visit
(SEPTA - posted 11/16)
"Favorite" your commute or frequent trip to see when your next bus, trolley or train arrives.
Get real-time travel information with the Next to Arrive feature and check for alerts or advisories right from the same screen.
Easier to navigate Alerts page with service advisories, detours, and now weather information all within the same place.
Improved layout for selecting and viewing schedules and the duration of your trip.
Tap on "More" to find the best Fare product and to connect with SEPTA via Customer Service phone numbers, our comment form, Live Chat, and social media.
METRO-NORTH DANBURY BRANCH DOCKYARD PROJECT:
Metro-North Railroad advises passengers that from Friday evening, November 17, through Sunday, November 19, Connecticut Department of Transportation crews will be working on the Danbury Branch Dockyard project, which will improve operations along the New Haven Line.
The Danbury Branch Dockyard Project, which will electrify the southern portion of the Danbury Branch, supports operations on the New Haven Line by providing a midline yard location where trains can layover, ensuring more reliable service. In addition to electrification, the work also includes the addition of two new track sidings, track replacement, signal work, new catenary systems and structures.
Metro-North crews will take advantage of the outage to weld track and cut brush along the branch.
(MTA - posted 11/15)
WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 11, 2017:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 11, 2017.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 547,480 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending November 11 were 263,265 carloads, down 3.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 284,215 containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent compared to 2016.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 1,450 carloads, to 38,318; chemicals, up 1,058 carloads, to 30,662; and metallic ores and metals, up 892 carloads, to 22,673. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 6,740 carloads, to 85,378; grain, down 3,973 carloads, to 22,845; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 865 carloads, to 10,284.
For the first 45 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,702,354 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year; and 12,133,011 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 45 weeks of 2017 was 23,835,365 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending November 11, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 361,402 carloads, down 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 365,749 intermodal units, up 7.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 727,151 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 45 weeks of 2017 was 31,627,694 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.8 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 81,073 carloads for the week, up 0.2 percent, and 69,896 intermodal units, up 16.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 45 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,556,429 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,064 carloads for the week, up 14.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,638 intermodal units, up 10.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 45 weeks of 2017 was 1,235,900 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 11/15)
METRO-NORTH COMPLETES COMPREHENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS TO PORT JERVIS LINE:
Metro-North today announced that the railroad completed comprehensive infrastructure improvement projects to the Port Jervis Line, between Port Jervis and Harriman, which got underway on September 11.
With the projects complete, buses will no longer need to substitute for weekday, off-peak trains between Port Jervis and Harriman. Friday, November 17 is the last day that buses will substitute for trains, and regular train service on the Port Jervis Line resumes on Monday, November 20.
Metro-North crews made extensive upgrades to the Port Jervis Line. Crews made structural repairs are at the Moodna and Woodbury Viaducts, and after successfully removing the defunct overheard bridge at Day Road in Campbell Hall, the town can establish formal cul-de-sacs on either end. Crews also finished an important rock slope remediation project, inspecting and reinforcing the rock slopes adjacent to the tracks between Port Jervis and Harriman to made sure that they were free of any loose rocks and brush that could fall on to the tracks and cause delays.
Metro-North crews took advantage of the service outage between Port Jervis and Harriman to install 12,639 wooden ties, 4,571 feet of welded rail, three new switches, surface 7.6 miles of track and complete 19 field welds.
(MTA - posted 11/14)
AMTRAK TRACK WORK AT PSNY TO IMPACT NJ TRANSIT IN 2018:
Upcoming Amtrak track work at Penn Station New York (PSNY) will impact select NJ TRANSIT peak period train service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and North Jersey Coast Line (NJCL) with scheduled service adjustments to begin on January 8, 2018 through May 28, 2018.
The work will mainly affect a total of five trains per day which includes two in the a.m. peak and three in the p.m. peak periods. Of these five trains, one NJCL train in both the a.m. and p.m. will be diverted to Hoboken; one NEC train in both the a.m. and p.m. will terminate/originate at Newark Penn Station and another NJCL train in the p.m. will be cancelled. Other trains may have adjustments made to the timetable or station stops, and customers are advised to check the service timetables carefully.
“While this impact is far less than what we experienced this past summer, we encourage our Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line customers to do their homework and adjust their commuting plans if needed,” said Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “I want to thank our customers in advance as we continue to support Amtrak’s efforts to renew critical infrastructure at Penn Station New York and avoid a repeat of the derailments we saw this past spring.”
The affected trains are as follows:
- NJCL train 3216, the 6:11 a.m. eastbound Long Branch departure, will now depart at 6:23 a.m. and will be diverted to Hoboken renumbered as 2604
- NEC train 3122, the 7:06 a.m. eastbound departure from New Brunswick will terminate at Newark Penn Station renumbered as 5822.
(Randy Kotuby - posted 11/14)
- NJCL train 3267, the 5:25 p.m. departure from PSNY, will originate from Hoboken at 5:22 p.m. renumbered as 2609
- NEC train 3171, the 5:43 p.m. departure from PSNY, will originate at Newark Penn Station at 6:03 p.m. renumbered as 5869
- NJCL train 3441, the 6:51 p.m. departure from PSNY, will be cancelled
CN UTILIZES FST BIOMETRICS IN MOTION INDENTIFICATION FOR ACCESS CONTROL:
FST Biometrics announced today that it has successfully deployed the In Motion Identification (IMID) solution, integrated with Automatic Systems' SmartLane turnstiles, at CN's Montreal headquarters.
FST's contactless system is installed at all perimeter access points of the company's headquarters, as well as at the entrance of the corporate child daycare center.
Leading Canadian integrator Infynia Security directed the implementation and integration process at CN's headquarters, installing FST's award-winning IMID software and Automatic Systems' cutting-edge SmartLane turnstiles to provide access to its 3,000 employees, contractors and in specific cases, for visitors entering the company's headquarters in Montreal. Once users are registered, FST's IMID Access identifies each of them almost instantaneously, allowing users to enter and exit the facility without waiting, swiping a card, punching a code or presenting any documentation.
Automatic Systems' SmartLane optical turnstiles are being utilized together with IMID as the physical access component of the complete access control solution. Automatic Systems' turnstile solution helps prevent tailgating and ensures that foot traffic moves at an efficient pace.
"The accurate, frictionless and convenient nature of our in-motion identification solution were an excellent fit to meet CN's identification and secure access needs," said Arie Melamed, CMO of FST Biometrics. "We are pleased that a global transportation leader has implemented our system at the headquarters of its operations. We look forward to developing this relationship further in the future. We thank Infynia Security and Automatic Systems for collaborating on this complete secure access solution."
FST's IMID solutions have been implemented in a variety of venues including large innovative office buildings, residential complexes, pharmaceutical companies and high-security trade and production facilities.
(Randy Kotuby - posted 11/14)
MBTA SECURES LONG-TERM FUNDING FOR CRITICAL SAFETY INITIATIVE:
The MBTA has secured $382 million in federal loans through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) programs to support a critical safety initiative. Proceeds will be used exclusively on the MBTA’s Positive Train Control (PTC) project. TIFIA and RRIF are federal credit programs that support infrastructure projects of national significance and the development of railroad infrastructure, respectively. This marks the first-ever combined commitment under the two programs.
Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008, mandating the implementation of PTC technology on all passenger railroads. PTC systems are safety systems designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and movement of trains through track switches that may have been left in the incorrect position. PTC systems are comprised of an on-board apparatus for the locomotive controlling each applicable train, wayside devices (such as Wayside Interface Units), a centralized dispatch system in a back office, and a communication system that links all components.
"Securing long-term funding for the PTC project at a low interest rate puts us one step closer to our goal of achieving fiscal sustainability," said MBTA Acting CFO and Treasurer Paul Brandley. The MBTA issued the first-ever tax-exempt Sustainability Bonds in October to support other projects in its Capital Investment Program.
The MBTA Commuter Rail system averages 124,000 weekday passenger trips. It is the fifth busiest commuter rail system in the United States.
(MBTA - posted 11/13)
AMTRAK CONTINUES NEXT PHASE OF NEW YORK PENN STATION INFRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL WORK:
Amtrak is announcing a series of track renewal projects in New York Penn Station as part of the Infrastructure Renewal program. While the bulk of the renewal work for 2018 will occur on weekends, there will be a series of continuous single-track closures within the Station from January 5, 2018 through May 28, 2018, which will require minor modifications to Amtrak and commuter train weekday operations at New York Penn Station. Amtrak is working with NJ TRANSIT and Long Island Rail Road on an overall service plan that minimizes the impact to all New York Penn Station customers to the greatest extent possible.
“After a successful summer, it is essential that we continue to upgrade the infrastructure so that we can continue to improve the reliability of service for all the customers that use New York Penn Station,” said Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman.
The following schedule changes will take place during the infrastructure renewal work:
The projects will occur in the area of Track 15, which requires a section of concrete demolition and replacement (similar to the work on Track 10 during the summer of 2017), and Track 18, which requires localized concrete demolition with complex steel hardware replacement and rail renewal within Penn Station New York. In addition to this work, Amtrak will renew and replace three turnouts in “C” Interlocking, which is at the east end of the station and directs Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains to routes heading east and to Sunnyside Yard.
While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required. During the summer of 2017, Amtrak kicked off its Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station, which is one element of Amtrak’s plan to modernize stations, infrastructure, and equipment on the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak’s Penn Station concourse operations improvement study has begun and improvement projects for the restrooms, waiting areas, and ClubAcela Lounge in Amtrak’s concourses are underway.
Amtrak’s reservation systems are currently being updated to reflect these
schedule changes and any passenger already booked on a train that has been cancelled or
altered will be contacted and accommodated on other scheduled services. Additional information and updates
will be posted on Amtrak.com.
(Amtrak - posted 11/13)
- Amtrak is cancelling Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington, D.C. (WAS) to New York Penn Station (NYP) and 127 from NYP to WAS
- Northbound Keystone Train 640 will terminate at Newark Penn Station
- Southbound Keystone Train 643 will originate at Newark Penn Station
- Southbound Train 173 will stop at Newark Airport
- Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 will all have earlier departure times.
- Train 170 will also depart WAS early, stop at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resume its schedule from Trenton
- Long Island Rail Road and NJ TRANSIT are also expected to announce service schedule adjustments
SIEMENS OPENS NEW LOCOMOTIVE SERVICE HUB IN NEW CASTLE, DE:
Siemens is opening a new Locomotive Service facility in New Castle, Delaware that will operate as the company’s digital service, supply chain, and technical field training hub in the region. The 44,000 square-foot New Castle facility will combine Siemens’ global digital analytics know-how with its extensive industry knowledge to move rail further into the digital age. Using the latest in digital and predictive technology, the New Castle team will train service technicians and remotely maintain Siemens locomotives for customers across the U.S. including Amtrak, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Brightline, and the Illinois Department of Transportation, among others.
Members of Siemens’ Digital Rail Services team located in New Castle will remotely collect and analyze over 800 data points from each locomotive daily. The data includes information on equipment health, operational metrics and environmental data made available by automatic, continuous streaming from the locomotive. The data, pulled in real-time, can help diagnose fleet issues and develop predictive maintenance capabilities so issues can be identified issues before they become a problem.
The Siemens team is already putting its data capabilities to use by working with Amtrak to monitor and analyze data from 70 Siemens-built ACS-64 locomotives running along the Northeast Corridor. On-board information is sent automatically to Siemens “Smart Cockpit” software that helps analyze and flag any items that require closer attention, like if a locomotive is exceeding certain temperature levels. The Siemens team reviews flagged items and recommends actions that are relayed directly to the local technical advisors and Amtrak maintenance experts at the depots along the corridor. Data already collected has led to Siemens and Amtrak to design and implement software updates that improved the ACS-64’s performance, helping Amtrak achieve about 33 percent fewer delays in 2016 compared to 2015.
“When Americans have access to reliable train travel, they tend to take advantage of it. Siemens' new center – right here in New Castle, Delaware - will help make rail service more reliable by using cutting edge technology to service and build new locomotives at a faster pace and higher volume,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, a supporter and near daily traveler of rail service. “Our nation’s railways are critical elements to our country’s infrastructure system, which helps us to compete and win in the global economy.”
The team will also use virtual reality technology for maintenance training on different locomotive equipment running worldwide. Using virtual reality goggles and handheld controls, the service technician can virtually stand inside a locomotive and use the handheld controls to work on switches, components and panels. This training will prepare them both mentally and physically for work on actual locomotives at customer locations across the U.S.
“This is a key investment for Siemens in our largest market in the world,” Siemens USA CEO Judy Marks said. “Trains were the preeminent invention of the first industrial revolution, but today they exemplify a fourth in which software is converging with advanced manufacturing. Siemens’ locomotives now come out of our U.S. manufacturing plants born digital; they’re computers on steel wheels that constantly collect data. Now, in New Castle, our technicians and engineers will make this data actionable for our customers. That’s major value added for railroads striving for even higher levels of safety and reliability.”
In addition to remote data services, the new facility will include a supply chain distribution center to quickly deliver locomotive parts for locomotive customers. The hub will rely on Siemens robust supply chain from partners across the U.S and will rely on 16 full-time positions based at the New Castle hub to work with the company’s nearly 70 existing service employees at customer sites.
(Siemens - posted 11/10)
FIRSTENERGY FOUNDATION DONATES $50,000 TO THE CUYAHOGA VALLEY SCENIC RAILROAD'S CAPITAL PROGRAM:
The FirstEnergy Foundation has donated $50,000 to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) to support the organization's first comprehensive capital campaign since it was founded in 1972. The funds will be used to help modernize CVSR's fleet of locomotives and passenger cars.
The CVSR is one of the longest and most scenic tourist railway excursions in the nation, running from Rockside Road in Independence, Ohio, through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to Ridge Street in downtown Akron. In the last 10 years, ridership has increased 70 percent, with a record-high 216,063 passengers in 2016.
"The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic railroad has become a cultural institution in northeast Ohio, drawing people from far and wide for programs designed to build wonderful family memories, such as summer valley excursions or trips on the Polar Express during the holiday season," said Dee Lowery, president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. "The fact that this is the railroad's first comprehensive capital campaign in its 45 years of operation is a testament to the organization's viability, and we're pleased to support it."
The FirstEnergy Foundation is funded solely by FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) and provides support to non-profit, tax-exempt health and human services agencies; educational organizations; cultural and arts programs and institutions; and civic groups in areas served by FirstEnergy's 10 electric operating companies and in areas where the company conducts business.
(FirstEnergy Foundation- posted 11/09)
LONG ISLAND RR NORTH FORK TRAIN SERVICE ENHANCEMENTS START MONDAY:
A significant boost to train service on Long Island’s North Fork starts with new timetables that go into effect on Monday, November 13. A new westbound train will depart from Greenport at 9:43 a.m. making all local stops to Ronkonkoma, giving North Fork customers an early afternoon arrival in New York City, at 12:33 p.m. at Penn Station or Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn.
The desire to have an early afternoon arrival in New York City had been one of the top requests made by a coalition of local elected officials and community members who have been working with the LIRR to enhance East End train service. The group was led by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and included County Executive Steve Bellone, Senator Ken LaValle, Assemblyman Anthony H. Palumbo and many others. Officials from the Long Island Rail Road had met with the delegation to discuss the possibility of the service improvements.
“We have had a productive working relationship with the East End delegation and we are pleased to be able to respond to their requests with service enhancements that will make our train service more useful to more people,” said Patrick Nowakowski, President of the LIRR. “After months of dialog, we are now able to respond with real results to long-sought goals.”
Another new westbound train will now depart Yaphank at 6:00 p.m., serving Medford and Ronkonkoma, and offering the possibility of a future connection at Ronkonkoma as the Double Track and Main Line Expansion projects allow the LIRR to increase train service in the future.
Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., said: “This is an important first step in providing increased public transit to the East End. I thank the LIRR for the cooperative effort with East End officials to achieve these service enhancements. I look forward to the planned improvements for South Fork commuters in the near future that will establish increased commuter service between Speonk and Montauk.”
Senator Ken LaValle said: “I want to thank both the MTA/Long Island Rail Road and the members of the East End Task Force for the tremendous work that they have done as they meet the challenges of improving transportation. The groups have met numerous times to work to resolve the tremendous logistical issues to improve service across both the North and South Forks. These new schedules being implemented, together with those planned for the future, will result in easier, more convenient trips for the public.”
Assemblyman Anthony H. Palumbo said: “We are thrilled to see the implementation of the new North Fork schedule with the increased weekday departures from Greenport--as well as the ‘Fisherman’s Train’ for early morning riders heading east. We have been working with LIRR President Nowakowski, LIRR Planning and our local governments for years to find a solution that could help meet the long-term needs of the growing North Fork and the tourist influx during our summer and fall seasons. This new service is an excellent step in the right direction to not only help ease tourist traffic, but it is now a permanent commuter service that full-time residents can rely upon for daily use.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said: “This expanded service is a welcome addition for East End commuters. Transportation enhancements strengthen our communities and I applaud the Long Island Rail Road for making this smart adjustment to this branch schedule in order to meet the demands of Suffolk County’s East End.”
In order to allow for these new trains, there are several other changes to schedules between Ronkonkoma and Greenport. The existing daytime roundtrip to and from Greenport is moved two hours later. It will arrive at Greenport at 2:06 p.m. and depart at 2:43 p.m. Previously, it had arrived at 12:08 p.m. and departed at 12:58 p.m. This later midday eastbound train provides commuters with a new early option for departing from work in the late morning if/when needed, with a connecting train departing Penn Station at 11:14 a.m. (The previous eastbound departure from Penn Station was 9:11 a.m.)
The “Jury Train,” which had previously operated from Deer Park at 7:54 a.m. to Riverhead at 8:55 a.m. but had attracted only light ridership, is repurposed to allow for the additional Greenport service. It is still possible to travel to Riverhead in time for Jury Duty on newly scheduled Train 202, which arrives at Riverhead 8:14 a.m. The train originates at Ronkonkoma at 7:30 a.m. and stops at Medford and Yaphank in route to Riverhead. The post-Jury Duty return departs Riverhead at 3:21 p.m. en route to Ronkonkoma for a connecting train to Penn Station.
Rush hour service on the North Fork is not changing.
(MTA LIRR - posted 11/09)
PORT AUTHORITY RELEASES PROPOSED 2018 OPERATING AND CAPITAL BUDGETS FOR PUBLIC REVIEW AND COMMENT:
The Port Authority today released for public review and comment the agency’s proposed 2018 $3.2 billion Operating Budget for ongoing operations, maintenance and security at all agency facilities. The proposed $3.2 billion Operating Budget represents an increase of $61 million or 1.9 percent versus the 2017 budget, in line with the rate of inflation.
The Port Authority projects these expenses will be more than offset by increased revenues of $127 million or 2.5 percent versus the 2017 budget. This revenue increase is driven primarily from higher revenues from aviation facilities, as well as higher rental income at the World Trade Center and at port facilities. The Port Authority is projecting a surplus of revenues after operating expenses and debt service of $1.5 billion, an increase of $12 million or 0.8 percent over the 2017 budget, that together with bond proceeds and other sources will be available to support its significant Capital Budget.
The agency also posted for review a proposed 2018 $3.4 billion Capital Budget that includes significant state-of-good-repair work at its tunnels, bridges, airports and PATH system, while investing in major projects to replace aging facilities with modern, state-of-the-art infrastructure and provide for future growth. The 2018 Capital Budget aligns with the 10-year, 2017-2026 Capital Plan adopted by the Board of Commissioners in February and invests in critical regional transportation projects such as: the redevelopment of LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports; advancement of the LaGuardia AirTrain and John F. Kennedy International Airport Vision planning; and planning activities for the new Port Authority Bus Terminal and extension of the PATH system to Newark Liberty rail link station. In addition, the 2018 Capital Budget includes spending for the completion of the Goethals Bridge replacement and Bayonne Bridge projects; the “Restoring the George” rehabilitation of the George Washington Bridge; implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) system across PATH by the end of 2018; the construction of the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility at Greenville Yards at the Port Jersey Marine Terminal; and support of the planning phase of the Gateway Passenger Rail Tunnel projects.
“This budget funds our operations and our key capital project priorities while maintaining fiscal discipline,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “This proposed budget sets out a fiscally responsible plan that enables the Port Authority to maintain and operate a safe and secure transportation network while we make the critically imperative investments to upgrade and replace facilities that are far below global standards. The budget also significantly increases spending on security at all of our facilities, as well as on improving cyber security – both obviously necessary for the world we operate in today.”
Highlights of the proposed 2018 Operating Budget include:
The proposed 2018 Operating Budget also includes funding for a number of initiatives and projects that align with key priorities across the Port Authority’s businesses, including:
- $726 million to ensure safety and security at Port Authority facilities, a $20 million increase over the 2017 budgeted amount – the largest single increase in the proposed 2018 budget. The budget includes the addition of new counterterrorism police posts at the airports, the addition of new PAPD supervisory officer positions, and the commencement of two PAPD police classes in 2018, totaling an estimated 270 new police officers.
- $1.6 billion to operate and maintain the agency’s infrastructure operations, reflecting a $17 million increase in operating costs across all facilities over the 2017 budget, and an $11 million increase in maintenance costs driven by additional facilities coming into operation in 2018 at the World Trade Center (facilities that will drive increased revenues in 2018 and future years.)
- $392 million for ongoing management services, a decrease of $9 million from 2017, as an offset to increases elsewhere.
- $396 million for payments to local municipalities and other landlords in return for the use of facilities or property, a $12 million increase over 2017 levels, resulting primarily from the increased occupancy and construction completion at the World Trade Center leading to higher payments-in-lieu-of-tax to New York City (offset by increased revenues in 2018 and future years from these facilities.)
Highlights of the proposed 2018 Capital Budget:
- Continued enhancement of security (covering both security at Port Authority facilities and cyber-security) and preparedness;
- Creating a customer service focus in the operations at all Port Authority facilities;
- Increasing investment in sustainability and environmental protection initiatives, and;
- Improving the Port Authority’s use of technology across the board – both to serve our customers better and to improve the efficiency of Port Authority operations.
(The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - posted 11/08)
- $1.1 billion to redevelop the region’s airports and ready them for the future. At LaGuardia Airport, construction continues on the entirely new, redeveloped airport. Planning and design for the LaGuardia AirTrain continues. At Newark Liberty International Airport, investment continues for the redevelopment of Terminal A into the new state-of-the-art Terminal One. Planning and design for the extension of PATH to Newark Liberty rail link station continues. At JFK International Airport, planning continues to advance the Vision Plan of Governor Cuomo’s Airport Advisory Panel for the redevelopment of the airport, encompassing new and interconnected terminals, relocated state-of-the-art cargo facilities and a new roadway configuration for reduced congestion.
- $55 million for further planning and design activities for a new Port Authority Bus Terminal. Procurement is currently under way to select an environmental and architectural and engineering consultant so that environmental review activities can begin in 2018.
- $432 million for upgrades to Trans-Hudson crossings, including: further advancement of the Bayonne Bridge National Clearance Program construction; continued construction on the Goethals Bridge replacement; and the commencement of components of the George Washington Bridge suspender rope replacement program.
- $71 million for PATH’s Signal System Replacement Program, and the continuation of PATH station and equipment modernization programs. By the end of 2018, Positive Train Control (PTC) will be fully operational, in compliance with a federal mandate requiring PTC by the end of next year.
- $55 million for the ExpressRail intermodal container transfer facilities at Port Jersey.
- $17 million to support continued planning activities for the Gateway Program, consistent with the Port Authority’s commitment to pay debt service on $2.7 billion under its 10-year Capital Plan as part of the bi-state region’s commitment to this critical project.
WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 4, 2017:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 4, 2017.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 538,739 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending November 4 were 266,652 carloads, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 272,087 containers and trailers, up 0.01 percent compared to 2016.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included metallic ores and metals, up 4,176 carloads, to 22,716; nonmetallic minerals, up 2,411 carloads, to 38,980; and chemicals, up 1,797 carloads, to 31,552. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 6,003 carloads, to 86,843; grain, down 5,376 carloads, to 23,281; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,216 carloads, to 9,665.
For the first 44 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,439,089 carloads, up 3.3 percent from the same point last year; and 11,848,796 intermodal units, up 3.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 44 weeks of 2017 was 23,287,885 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending November 4, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,969 carloads, down 1.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 354,947 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 718,916 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 44 weeks of 2017 was 30,900,543 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 81,942 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 71,119 intermodal units, up 23.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 44 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,405,460 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.1 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,375 carloads for the week, down 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,741 intermodal units, down 4.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 44 weeks of 2017 was 1,207,198 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 11/08)
PROPOSED METRO-NORTH BEACON RAIL TRAIL:
Metro-North and Hudson River Valley Greenway Invite Community to Public Meetings About Proposed Beacon Line Rail Trail in Putnam and Dutchess Counties
MTA Metro-North Railroad and the Hudson River Valley Greenway invite local leaders, trail groups, interested organizations, and members of the public to attend one of two important public information meetings on November 13 and 14 to seek input on the creation of the Beacon Line Rail Trail, a vital segment of the new Empire State Trail, Trail, a 750-mile bike and walking pathway from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo that is being built under the leadership of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and will be completed in 2020.
The meeting dates and locations are:
The anticipated trail will revitalize a little-used rail line that runs east-west across Dutchess and Putnam Counties, N.Y. The line, known as the Beacon Line or the Maybrook Branch, connects with Metro-North’s Hudson Line at Beacon, and runs parallel with the Harlem Line north of Southeast.
Although owned by Metro-North Railroad, the line is not currently used for passenger train service.
The Beacon Line Rail Trail will be a shared-use bicycling and pedestrian path running along a 23 mile portion of the Metro-North Railroad Beacon Line Corridor from Brewster, New York to Hopewell Junction, New York, connecting with the Dutchess Rail Trail.
One existing track along this portion of the rail line will remain intact for possible future use, and the line segment from Hopewell Junction to Beacon is not included in the proposed trail.
The proposed trail will typically be 12 feet wide and surfaced with asphalt. Appropriate treatments will be installed at all road crossings to provide safe trail use. Metro-North Railroad will oversee design and construction of the project, which is slated to start in the spring of 2019.
At the public information gathering, representatives of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Metro-North Railroad will: • Host a workshop to answer questions and receive comments from the community. • Discuss the project’s goals, opportunities, and schedule. • Provide a detailed description of the Beacon Line Rail Trail’s proposed 23-mile route. • Release a draft Beacon Line Rail Trail Concept Plan for public review and comment.
Construction of the Beacon Line Rail Trail will be funded by New York State, through funds administered by the Hudson River Valley Greenway as part of the larger Empire State Trail initiative.
“The Hudson Line Rail Trail will give bikers and hikers another way to explore the region’s scenic beauty and enjoy an outdoor adventure,” said Catherine Rinaldi, Acting President of Metro-North Railroad. “Metro-North is proud to play a part in the construction of the Empire State Trail, which will support New York’s tourism and economic growth.”
The Hudson River Valley Greenway is a unique state-sponsored program established by the Greenway Act of 1991. More than 84% of municipalities within the Greenway area have designated themselves as “Greenway Communities.” The program is designed to encourage projects and initiatives related to the intersecting goals of natural and cultural resource protection, regional planning, economic development, public access, and heritage and environmental education. It provides technical assistance and catalytic grant funding for planning, water and land trails, and other projects that reinforce these goals. In keeping with the New York tradition of home rule, the Greenway program has no regulatory authority and participation by municipalities in Greenway programs and projects is entirely voluntary.
As part of the promise to invest and build infrastructure to support New York’s economy, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is creating the Empire State Trail, which when completed in 2020 will create a 750-mile trail bike and walking pathway from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo. Once completed the Empire State Trail will be the largest multi-use trail in the nation. More information on the Empire State Trail is available here.
All those interested in the Empire State Trail and the Beacon Line Rail Trail are encouraged to attend.
For more information about the proposed Beacon Line Rail Trail, please visit: .
For more information about the Hudson River Valley Greenway please visit:
(MTA - posted 11/07)
Monday, November 13, 2017 6 – 8 p.m. Pawling High School Auditorium 30 Wagner Drive, Pawling, NY
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 6 – 8 p.m. Putnam County TOPS Building Auditorium 112 Old Route 6, Carmel, NY
CLINCHFIELD F3 RESTORED INTO ITS ORIGINAL LIVERY:
CSX's Huntington, West Virginia locomotive has repainted former
Clinchfield Railroad F3A 800
back into its original grey and yellow livery, complete with
Clinchfield lettering. The 800 was one of four F-units rostered by the Clinchfield before being absored into the Family Lines system. During the late 1980s the four units
were in use on the RoadRailer train between Detroit and Atlanta. During the early 1990s the 800 saw service pulling the American Orient Express.
The unit was eventually donated to the C&O Historical Society and saw service on the Potomac Eagle excursion train. Thanks to the
Southern Appalachian Railway Museum, the CSX Huntington shops, and CSX's corporate office in Jacksonville, the 800 was repainted into the Clinchfield livery.
The 800 will see service on the upcoming CSX Santa Train on November 18. Also, the Southern Appalachian Railway Museum's ex Seaboard Coast Line SD45 3632 has been lettered for
the Clinchfield and will see service on the Santa Train.(posted 11/06)
METRO GM PROPOSES NO FARE INCRESAES OR SERVICE CUTS FOR RIDERS:
Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld proposed a combined operating and capital budget of just over $3.1 billion for FY2019 (begins July 1, 2018) that requires an increase of $165 million over last year's level of jurisdictional funding support. While protecting customers from fare hikes and service cuts, the plan calls for continued strict management cost controls and increased funding for safety and reliability capital improvements.
"This proposal builds on our success in investing capital to deliver projects that improve safety and reliability, which is critical to winning back riders," said Wiedefeld. "This budget also doubles down on management cost controls to ensure we have squeezed the value out of every dollar that we spend delivering service to the region."
The General Manager's proposed capital budget for FY19 is $1.279 billion, which funds the delivery of the remaining 7000-series cars to replace older, less reliable trains; new buses and paratransit vehicles; and address the backlog of track and structure, rail power, and radio and wireless systems, as well as fund the new preventive maintenance program that supports improved safety and rail service for customers. This proposed budget assumes federal formula and PRIIA dollars continue at historic levels and requires a jurisdictional capital contribution of $787 million, which is $136 million higher than last year's required contribution.
(Washington Metro - posted 11/03)
Funding Current Levels of Bus & Rail Service:
The proposed FY19 operating budget of $1.837 billion is less than 1 percent ($12 million) higher than the current budget of $1.825 billion. However, offsetting projected fare revenue losses and expense drivers that are beyond management's control - including legacy pension and health care costs, mandated paratransit services, and inflation - requires additional management cuts, further reductions in overtime, outsourcing, and increases in parking and advertising revenue.
In keeping with the General Manager's efforts to limit jurisdictional operating subsidy growth to 3 percent called for in the Keeping Metro Safe, Reliable and Affordable (KMSRA) funding plan released last spring, the net result for the FY19 budget is a requested $29 million increase in local operating subsidy -- significantly lower than the $134 million (16 percent) required last year to support the current operating budget.
"There is virtually nothing more we can do of significance to further trim costs without impacting service, which we don't want to do," said Wiedefeld. "So as a region we must act now on initiatives like those outlined in our funding plan, to control future operating cost growth. To that end, the Authority will initiate a study to overhaul its bus network, which consists of service routes that have remained virtually unchanged for decades, similar to efforts underway in Houston, Seattle, and Philadelphia. Beginning later this year, the study will examine travel patterns, customer demand, technology opportunities, first/last mile private carriers, and how to more cost effectively deliver regional versus local bus service to riders.
Additional Expenses Not Funded:
Not funded in the operating budget, however, are service increases such as a proposed extension of all Red Line trains to Shady Grove (eliminating the Grosvenor turn back), additional staffing for Silver Line phase 2 service, and new bus service. The proposal also includes no wage increases for the workforce, which may later be imposed by an Arbitration panel reviewing the collective bargaining agreement for Metro's largest union.
Capital Funding and Federal Grants Expiring:
While there has been much positive discussion among Metro's funders, no action has been taken to implement the capital funding recommendations in the KMSRA plan. Therefore, the six-year capital program from FY19-24 does not assume dedicated funding for a $1.5 billion average annual capital program needed over the next decade, nor does it assume continuation of the PRIIA funding beyond its current authorization, as recommended in the Plan. Therefore, jurisdictional contributions to fund Metro are projected to grow significantly in future years to keep the system safe and reliable.
AMTRAK SCHEDULES EXTRA TRAINS AND ADDTIONAL ON BOARD CAPACITY FOR THANKSGIVING TRAVEL:
In anticipation of the busiest travel week of the year, Amtrak is accommodating the surge of holiday travelers with extra trains and capacity on several routes in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. Amtrak will also operate every available passenger railcar. Tickets sell out quickly, so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book tickets early.
On the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak Acela Express (Boston – Washington, D.C.) and Northeast Regional (Boston – Washington, D.C./Newport News, Virginia) will operate full and extended schedules with additional frequencies and added capacity during Thanksgiving week. Standard Amtrak booking and ticketing procedures apply. Additional Northeast Corridor trains, including the Keystone (New York – Harrisburg) will require reservations in advance of travel.
In the Midwest, extra trains will operate between Chicago and downstate Illinois and Michigan. At Chicago Union Station, Sleeping car and Business Class customers, as well as top-tier Amtrak Guest Rewards members, can experience the Metropolitan Lounge and pre-board their trains. Coach customers can purchase Legacy Club passes to access similar amenities. Visit Amtrak.com to learn more about available station lounges across the country.
On the West Coast, additional capacity will be added to Capitol Corridor (Auburn-San Jose), San Joaquins (Oakland/Sacramento – Bakersfield), and Pacific Surfliner (San Diego-San Luis Obispo) routes. During the holiday period, Pacific Surfliner service will also require reservations between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26.
“With free Wi-Fi on most trains, plenty of leg room and no middle seat, Thanksgiving week is a great opportunity to highlight our commitment to providing the best possible travel experience,” said Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman. “Amtrak employees are gearing up for the holidays to provide the superior service our customers deserve.”
Last year, Amtrak carried more than 750,000 customers throughout its national network during the Thanksgiving travel period. Similar customer counts are anticipated this year.
(Amtrak - posted 11/02)
MBTA READY FOR WINTER: MORE THANK $101 MILLION IN RESILIENCY
INVESTMENTS MADE SINCE 2015:
The MBTA has announced that more than $101 million dollars has been invested in capital improvement projects in an effort to continue steps taken to make the transit system more resilient in severe weather. The T is also encouraging customers now to prepare for their winter commutes by staying connected: sign up for T-Alerts, follow @MBTA and @MBTA_CR on Twitter, use the Transit app or the MBTA Commuter Rail app, and visit the MBTA website to learn about service information.
"In advance of this winter, we’re doubling down on our efforts to highlight the key resources that allow us to get the most accurate information about service out to our customers so they can make informed decisions," said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. "While we've proactively made investments in equipment and infrastructure to make the MBTA more resilient, we also want to strengthen the channels of communication we have so our riders know what to expect and can plan ahead."
"Building on the experience and investments over the past three years, the MBTA has made major progress in our infrastructure," said Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville. "In the weeks to come, we'll continue our multi-faceted approach to snow preparations, from trimming trees along the Green Line corridors, to installing new rail, expanding snow clearing and snow removal contracts, performing upgrades to vehicles, and adding additional backup power equipment."
Since the winter of 2015, the MBTA has upgraded track and signal infrastructure, invested in snow-fighting equipment, and stocked up on replacement parts for vehicles, making more than $101 million in investments in winter resiliency. Last winter, the Boston area saw forty-two inches of snow with the MBTA’s Storm Desk activated seven times and the MBTA’s Emergency Operations Center activated five times. There were no shutdowns or closures in MBTA service with snow-fighting equipment deployed and staffing levels of the Storm Desk increased as needed. Working closely with the MBTA, the Keolis Incident Command Center and Situation Room were activated during these storms as well.
Specifically, on commuter rail, Keolis and the MBTA have focused over the past two years on improving switch function by adding propane heaters and covers to existing infrastructure on the network. This improvement helps to reduce the risk of switch failure due to ice and snow build up.
Throughout the winter months, the MBTA and Keolis, the MBTA’s commuter rail operating partner, closely monitor weather forecasts to assess expected and real-time conditions related to scheduled service and operations. Passengers should stay up-to-date when winter weather is expected through all available means.
(MBTA - posted 11/02)
ENHANCED PROSECT AVE R SUBWAY STATION OPENS IN BROOKLYN:
MTA New York City Transit today opened the enhanced Prospect Av r station in Brooklyn, the third station to re-open after extensive, accelerated renovations as part of the Enhanced Station Initiative. The new Prospect Av r station features countdown clocks at each of its three entrances, modern LED lighting, Wi-Fi connectivity, new digital displays, USB ports, and an upgraded security system. In the fare control area, glass barriers have replaced metal bars, enhancing sightlines and allowing more natural light to enter the station. New canopies have been deployed at two of the station’s three entrances. Other upgrades include wayfinding floor tiles for the visually-impaired, new handrails, stair treads, wall tiles, and granite flooring.
The 102-year-old Prospect Av station was closed on June 5, 2017, and, just five months later, the station has opened to the public. This follows other improvements along this line, including the enhancement of the 53 St r station and Bay Ridge Av r station, as well as the amendment of the MTA Capital Plan to include funding for four accessibility projects at 59 St, 77 St, 86 St and Bay Ridge-95 St.
“With the opening of this station, we continue to quickly and efficiently deliver subway customers new tools to manage their commute, including countdown clocks, Wi-Fi connectivity and USB ports, as well as an enhanced station with better lighting, improved signage and new art,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. “We look forward to building on the momentum and feedback received from these Brooklyn stations and bringing this innovation to more stations.”
The Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI) program builds upon a larger campaign aimed at improving the New York City Transit system. The MTA is undertaking component and renewal work at more than 170 other stations. This station was completed under a design-build contract, which designates a single team to be responsible for the design and construction of an entire project. Design-build ensures seamless coordination between all contractors on a project so that work is completed in the shortest possible time frame.
The Prospect Av r station also features new artwork, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design, by Monika Bravo, a Colombian-born, Brooklyn-based artist. The composition layers pixelated satellite images presented in mosaic tesserae, historical maps and photos of the nearby waterfront, and forms drawn from modern abstraction. Data and material are woven together to create a new code that connects technology, process, and illusion.
The station, which serves as a central transit point for four Brooklyn neighborhoods, was opened free-to-the-public for three hours on Thursday, November 2, 2017 so that all local residents could be the first to experience their new, enhanced station.
(MTA - posted 11/02)
THREE ANACOSTIA RAILROADS HELP EMERGENCY RESPONDERS COPE WITH HAZARDOUS MATERIAL, LIFE THREATENING ACCIDENTS:
Thanks to three Anacostia railroads, more than 260 Indiana and Minnesota fire department and emergency response personnel in September and October received personalized training on railroad safety and emergency response techniques.
Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad, Louisville & Indiana Railroad, and Northern Lines Railway conducted the training sessions in Michigan City, Franklin, and Columbus, Indiana and St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Tom Leopold, Anacostia’s chief safety and compliance officer, said, “The purpose of the training is to help emergency responders understand rail safety, tank car design, hazards and the support the railroad will provide in emergency situations.”
The training and special equipment were arranged with support from CSX, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Indiana Harbor Belt, and The Firefighters Education and Training Foundation.
The four-to-six-hour training sessions offered participants a balance between classroom education and hands-on learning, according to Leopold. He said, “Participants even had the opportunity to board locomotives and practice leak abatement on a tank car.”
Leopold said, “We try to tailor programs to meet the needs of local emergency responders and work to build trust and understanding so that, in the event of an incident, the best possible outcome can be achieved.”
Anacostia’s railroads have conducted 16 multi-day tank car safety training sessions since they began the training in 2007.
(Anacostia & Pacific - posted 11/02)
SEPTA TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS, INFO SESSIONS ON KING OF PRUSSIA RAIL
SEPTA has scheduled three public hearings on the King of Prussia Rail Project (KOP Rail), to be held November 13 and 15, 2017. Each session will include an open house and presentation that will offer participants an opportunity to meet with the KOP Rail team; view a presentation on the plan for extending rail service to destinations in King of Prussia and Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County via SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL); and submit comments, either privately or during the public hearing, on the recently published Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) and the Project's recommended Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) route.
Sessions will be held on the following dates:
SEPTA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released the Draft EIS on October 13. The Draft EIS, which is available at
, identifies alternatives and analyzes the effects the proposed project would have on the natural, cultural and socioeconomic environments.
During the public hearings, attendees are welcome to publicly or privately comment on the content of the Draft EIS. Individuals will be allotted two minutes to speak and those representing a group will be allotted three minutes. Sign-up sheets will be available at the public hearing registration tables. Please note there will be no responses to questions or comments from the project team during the public hearing.
(SEPTA - posted 11/01)
Monday, November 13
1-4 p.m. (Public comment session: 2-4 p.m.) DoubleTree Hotel, Jefferson Ballroom
301 West DeKalb Pike, King of Prussia, PA 19406
Monday, November 13
5-8 p.m. (Public comment session: 6-8 p.m.) DoubleTree Hotel, Jefferson Ballroom
301 West DeKalb Pike, King of Prussia, PA 19406
Wednesday, November 15
5-8 p.m. (Public comment session: 6-8 p.m.) Norristown Municipal Building
235 E. Airy Street, Norristown, PA 19401
AAR REPORTS OCTOBER 2017 AS STRONGEST MONTH FOR INTERMODAL IN HISTORY:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 28, 2017, as well as volumes for October 2017, which was the best month for intermodal rail traffic in history.
U.S. railroads originated 1,065,777 carloads in October 2017, down 0.1 percent, or 1,220 carloads, from October 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,144,157 containers and trailers in October 2017, up 6.4 percent, or 68,328 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in October 2017 were 2,209,934, up 3.1 percent, or 67,108 carloads and intermodal units from October 2016.
In October 2017, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with October 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 15,873 carloads or 16.5 percent; chemicals, up 7,390 carloads or 6.4 percent; and metallic ores, up 4,076 carloads or 20.6 percent. Commodities that saw declines in October 2017 from October 2016 included: coal, down 17,764 carloads or 4.9 percent; grain, down 12,528 carloads or 11.8 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 5,190 carloads or 7 percent.
"Year-over-year U.S. rail carloads in October were held back by declines in carloads of grain and coal," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "However, carloads of these commodities tend to rise or fall for reasons that have little to do with the state of the economy. Excluding them, carloads were up 4.8% in October, their best monthly gain in almost three years. As such, rail carloads, as well as record intermodal volume in October, support the view that the economy is doing somewhat better now than it has been in the past two years."
Excluding coal, carloads were up 16,544 carloads, or 2.3 percent, in October 2017 from October 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 29,072 carloads, or 4.8 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 10 months of 2017 was 11,172,437 carloads, up 3.4 percent, or 368,102 carloads, from the same period last year; and 11,576,709 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent, or 417,112 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 22,749,146 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to last year.
Week Ending October 28, 2017
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 546,582 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 28 were 263,064 carloads, down 3.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 283,518 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared to 2016.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,661 carloads, to 40,659; metallic ores and metals, up 3,360 carloads, to 23,244; and chemicals, up 482 carloads, to 30,028. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 9,850 carloads, to 83,597; grain, down 2,626 carloads, to 22,589; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,362 carloads, to 16,509.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 28, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 362,922 carloads, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 367,703 intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 730,625 carloads and intermodal units, up percent. North American rail volume for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 30,181,627 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 82,640 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 70,452 intermodal units, up 15.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 43 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,252,399 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.1 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,218 carloads for the week, up 5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,733 intermodal units, up 14.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 1,180,082 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.1 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 11/01)
AMTRAK NORTHEAST REGIONAL NOW SERVES ROANOKE:
Amtrak launches Northeast Regional daily service today to and from Roanoke (RNK), an area in a valley nestled in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Amtrak, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and the city of Roanoke partnered to bring passenger rail service back to the Star City for the first time in almost four decades. This is the fourth expansion of Amtrak service in the Commonwealth since 2009 following new or additional service to Lynchburg, Richmond, and Norfolk. The Northeast Regional extends from Lynchburg and provides a same-seat trip to and from Roanoke. The train will make stops in Charlottesville, Culpepper, Manassas, Burke Centre, Alexandria, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and other cities along the Northeast.
“The extension to Roanoke marks a milestone in the growth of Amtrak and passenger rail in Virginia,” Amtrak Co-CEO Wick Moorman said. “Rail service is a vital alternative in Virginia’s overall transportation solution. We look forward to continuing our partnership with DRPT and other cities to further expand rail service in the Commonwealth.”
The Northeast Regional stops in downtown Roanoke at an accessible, high-level concrete platform with a canopy located at 55 Norfolk Ave., SW.
Customers will experience a comfortable and enjoyable way to travel on a national network serving more than 500 destinations, and benefits such as a free and generous baggage policy, free Wi-Fi, no middle seat and an easy, streamlined boarding process.
(Amtrak - posted 10/31)
EXTRA AMTRAK TRAINS SCHEDULED IN NORTHEAST FOR THANKSGIVING TRAVEL:
In anticipation of the busiest travel week of the year, Amtrak is prepared to accommodate the surge of holiday travelers with additional trains and added capacity – operating every available passenger railcar. Tickets sell out quickly, so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book tickets early.
In response to customer demand, Amtrak Acela Express (Boston – Washington, D.C.) and Northeast Regional (Boston – Washington, D.C./Virginia) services will operate extended schedules with additional frequencies and added capacity during the week of Thanksgiving. Regular Amtrak booking procedures apply.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, some customers may get to travel in newly-refreshed train cars as Amtrak is investing in a nearly $17 million refresh of its train interiors. Several services, including the Northeast Regional, are undergoing a series of phased improvements including new seat cushions, carpeting, curtains and refreshed restrooms to provide a more modern, comfortable experience onboard.
Last year, Amtrak carried 760,755 customers throughout its national network during the Thanksgiving travel period. Similar customer counts are anticipated this year.
(Amtrak - posted 10/30)
PLATFORM EXPANSION PAVES WAY FOR EXTENDED CARS TO OPERATE ON HUDSON-BERGEN LIGHT RAIL DURING PEAK PERIODS :
With the platform expansion at Exchange Place in Jersey City now complete, NJ TRANSIT is ready to operate the longer “extended’’ cars on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) trains during the busy peak periods.
The platforms at Exchange Place are now 190 feet in length, an increase of 25 feet from the previous length.
“NJ TRANSIT is pleased to be enhancing our customers’ experience and improving our HBLR line,’’ said Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “ This platform extension will allow customers to fully benefit from the additional seating that is available on the extended cars.’’
Work began in Spring 2017 and finished in September, and cost approximately $2.7 million.
The extended cars contain 102 seats, providing a 50-percent increase in seating capacity from the 68 seats in a traditional light rail vehicle. The extended cars also allow for additional customer standing room.
Currently, the HBLR utilizes seven extended cars on its system, with 18 more being rolled out in the coming months. The Exchange Place Station was the only station on the system that needed to lengthen platforms to fit the extended cars. As more extended cars are delivered, they will be used during morning and afternoon peak periods, improving the service, comfort and quality for the 50,000-55,000 average weekday riders.
NJ TRANSIT began using the extended car as a prototype in 2013 with great success. The roll out of extended vehicles was completed on Newark Light Rail in September 2017 and is now being introduced during the peak periods on the HBLR. Previously, HBLR ran the extended cars as a one-vehicle train on the Hoboken-to-Tonnelle Avenue route and during high travel periods on weekends.
“Due to physical constraints with the north and south intersections, the platforms at Exchange Place were not able accommodate these extended cars until now,’’ Santoro said. “I thank our customers for their patience during the construction of the platform extension. The platform expansion and extended light rail cars will enable our customers to enjoy a more spacious and better transit experience.”
The HBLR serves 24 light rail stations including Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City and North Bergen. The system provides a vital link between waterfront destinations, NJ TRANSIT rail and bus routes, PATH trains and trans-Hudson ferry services.
(NJT - posted 10/30)
CN AND NORFOLK SOUTHERN JOINT INTERLINE SERVICE REDUCING TRANCONTINENTAL TRANSIT TIMES BY UP TO 48 HOURS:
CN and Norfolk Southern Corporation today announced that a new joint interline service initiative is reducing transit times by one to two days for carload traffic between Western Canada and NS destinations in the Eastern United States.
This seamless interline service, established in August, allows freight to bypass traditional interchange points in Chicago, in favor of using the most efficient existing CN and NS routes. The service has reduced transit times by up to 48 hours, providing customers more efficient delivery to final destinations.
CN and NS are interchanging two eastbound and two westbound manifest trains daily through greater Chicago, connecting CN’s network in Western Canada and NS’ network in the Eastern United States as part of the new service. Traffic is interchanging at NS’ major rail yard in Elkhart, Ind., avoiding extra handlings in the Chicago terminal.
Jim Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and chief executive officer, said: “Together, CN and NS have re-engineered our Chicago connections to provide shippers with a new superior-service shipping option. Customers on both railways are seeing faster and more reliable service, benefitting their supply chains.”
Luc Jobin, CN president and chief executive officer, said: “Through collaboration, CN and NS are bringing more efficiencies to the supply chain as we deliver higher and more reliable levels of service to our customers.”
CN and NS continue to explore adding additional traffic to the new interline service
(CN - posted 10/29)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS THIRD QUARTER RESULTS:
Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported third-quarter financial results.
Third-quarter net income was $506 million, up 10 percent year-over-year, driven by an 11 percent increase in income from railway operations – yielding a record quarterly operating ratio of 65.9 percent. Diluted earnings per share were $1.75, up 13 percent year-over-year.
"Norfolk Southern continues to deliver strong financial results through execution of our strategic plan. We are unwavering in our commitment to improve productivity as demonstrated by seven consecutive quarters of year-over-year improvement in our operating ratio," said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO. "Our balanced approach focuses on increasing efficiency and delivering a strong customer service product, giving us the ability to achieve our goals and deliver sustainable shareholder value."
For the first nine months of 2017, net income was $1.4 billion, up 15 percent compared with the same period of 2016. Record diluted earnings per share of $4.93 were 17 percent higher. The strong results reflected 11 percent growth in income from railway operations and a record nine-month operating ratio of 67.4 percent.
(NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/25)
- Railway operating revenues of $2.7 billion increased 6 percent compared with third-quarter 2016, as overall volumes were 4 percent higher, reflecting growth within our major commodity categories of coal and intermodal.
- Railway operating expenses increased $55 million, or 3 percent, compared with third-quarter 2016, to $1.8 billion as targeted expense reductions and gains from the disposition of operating property helped offset volume and inflation-related expenses and higher incentive compensation.
- Income from railway operations was $911 million, up 11 percent year-over-year, and the operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 65.9 percent, an all-time quarterly record.
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 21, 2017:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 21, 2017.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 559,989 carloads and intermodal units, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 21 were 268,943 carloads, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 291,046 containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent compared to 2016 and the most for any week in history.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,839 carloads, to 41,227; metallic ores and metals, up 2,940 carloads, to 22,059; and chemicals, up 2,097 carloads, to 30,818. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 3,814 carloads, to 86,311; grain, down 2,422 carloads, to 24,018; and motor vehicles and parts, down 1,582 carloads, to 16,920.
For the first 42 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,909,100 carloads, up 3.6 percent from the same point last year; and 11,293,191 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 42 weeks of 2017 was 22,202,291 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 21, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 368,095 carloads, up 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 374,525 intermodal units, up 7.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 742,620 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 42 weeks of 2017 was 29,450,729 carloads and intermodal units, up 5 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 82,913 carloads for the week, up 5.9 percent, and 70,492 intermodal units, up 15.4 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 42 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,099,307 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.2 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,239 carloads for the week, up 8.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,987 intermodal units, up 13.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 42 weeks of 2017 was 1,149,131 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.9 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 10/25)
MBTA GREEN LINE EXTENSON PROJECT:
The MBTA Green Line Extension (GLX) Project Team has received certifications from two of the three shortlisted GLX Design Build (DB) teams that their upcoming responses to the Final Request for Proposals (RFP) will include price proposals that meet or are below the established Affordability Limit of $1.319 billion. These certifications come as part of the Final RFP and allow the Project to continue into its next phase.
"Certification of two of the short-listed Design-Build teams is a significant achievement toward extending the Green Line into Somerville and Medford," said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. "Certification of the project's affordability ensures the project proposals are competitive, and that it can be built out with the established budget, and brings the vision of Green Line service one major step forward for our customers."
In addition to the Affordability Limit, the Final RFP also included a base scope of work and "Additive Options" only to be included in the project scope should teams affirm that the Options can be completed within both the Project schedule and the Affordability Limit. If a DB team believes that Additive Options can be included, the firm will propose those Additive Options in the following order as prioritized by the MBTA:
While these certifications have been received by the GLX Project Team, actual pricing and the inclusion of any Additive Options will be known at the time of the public pricing opening, which is currently scheduled for Friday, November 17.
The GLX Project will also now include a GLX Community Working Group comprised of community representatives, staff from GLX Project Management Team (PMT), and representatives of the DB team in order to provide a collaborative forum for information exchange between the GLX PMT and external stakeholders. Through period meetings, the GLX PMT will advise participating stakeholders about upcoming community impacts associated with construction activities and allow participating stakeholders to provide their feedback prior to upcoming work, helping the MBTA to plan neighborhood and community meetings and to share local topics of interest, concerns, and cooperation. Community members will include representatives from the City of Somerville, the City of Cambridge, the City of Medford, and one community member to be elected by community peers.
Learn more about the
Green Line Extension Project.
- posted 10/24)
- 1.Platform canopies.
- 2.Additional elevators at select stations.
- 3.Public art.
- 4.Additional community connection to the community path on Chester Street in Somerville.
- 5.Extension of the community path between East Somerville and Lechmere Stations.
- 6.Enhanced Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Somerville.
MTA ANNOUNCES START OF SEASONAL FIGHT AGAINST SLIPPERY LEAF AGAINST SLIPPLERY LEAF SLIME:
Autumn may be a time of natural beauty for our region, as green foliage gives way to hues of yellow, orange and red. But for the region’s railroads, colorful leaves signal a return to heightened concern over the impact that fallen leaves have on railroad safety and operations.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced the official start of leaf-fighting season, with crews from the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and the Staten Island Railway operating work trains that spray water jets to clear tracks of slimy leaf debris. Windy wet weather predicted for tonight may nevertheless blow leaves onto the rails, creating isolated locations with slippery conditions.
A specialized Metro-North work train sprays water at high pressure, and specially equipped highway/rail trucks use rail scrubbers to remove crushed leaf residue from the tracks. On-board Metro-North diesel passenger trains, "sanders" automatically drop sand onto the tracks to help improve traction and reduce wheel slippage. On the LIRR, a specialized train then applies a traction gel onto the freshly cleared rails that allows train wheels to maintain traction, even in the presence of crushed leaf slime.
For video of the LIRR’s leaf-fighting train performing a demonstration:
For still photos:
During autumn when falling leaves land on the running rails of MTA tracks, they can be run over by trains, compacted by the weight and crushed into a gelatinous, slime-like substance that reduces the normal amount of adhesion train wheels have on the rails. This creates a condition known as “slip slide,” which prevents trains from stopping normally when engineers apply the brakes. To ensure safety, the railroads institute slower speeds for trains passing through an area where an engineer has reported slip-slide conditions, which can cause train delays.
“Anyone who has ever driven a car and tried to brake on a patch of ice knows something of what it feels like for a train engineer who applies the brakes to a train on a patch of rails coated in liquefied leaf residue,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “As autumn begins we turn our attention to fighting leaves that have fallen on our tracks, but throughout the year we work to combat vegetation along the rails.”
The first step to reducing these delays for the LIRR, Metro-North and the Staten Island Railway is to trim or remove trees and vegetation alongside the tracks, either through railroad personnel or by hiring outside trained and licensed vegetation management contractors. About two thirds of the leaf matter that interferes with railroad operations on Long Island comes from invasive species such as ailianthus trees, black locust trees, Norway maples, and bamboo. In the region served by Metro-North, the majority of the leaves come from oak, sugar maple and birch trees, and sumac.
The Long Island Rail Road alone plans to engage contractors to trim back vegetation along 80 miles of track in 2018 and 94 miles in 2019. Bushes and trees on LIRR property are subject to removal, and tree branches extending onto railroad property may be pruned as well.
But despite those continuous annual efforts, of course it’s impossible to completely prevent leaves from falling onto the tracks. So each fall, the LIRR, Metro-North and Staten Island Railway use the specialized trains to spray jets of water to push leaves from the rails, and either scrub the tracks clean, as on Metro-North, or, as on Long Island, apply a mixture known as sandite, a traction gel that has the consistency of pancake batter and provides improved traction.
The MTA has programmed its newest commuter railroad cars – the M7’s and M8’s – to allow their braking systems to better adjust to slip-slide conditions, and train crews and dispatchers communicate continuously to identify slip-slide problem areas where trains need to slow, and where the specialized leaf-fighting trains may need to travel next.
- posted 10/22)
TOYS-FOR-TOTS RIDES THE RAILS FROM GEORGETOWN TO LEWES FOR THE LAST TIME:
The Lewes Public Library will again play host to a unique experience in support of local Toys-For-Tots* event. On Saturday, November 4, between 11:00 am and 12:30 pm, children attending the Library's special Saturday Story Time at 10:30 am will be treated afterwards to hands-on, show and tell event provided by the North American Rail Car Operators Association's (NARCOA) railroad motor cars. Ms. Lea Rosell, the library's Assistant Director of Youth Services, says, "The children truly enjoyed the holiday spirit of giving gifts to others and also seeing the motor cars arrive during last year's event."
Motorcars will travel the rails from Georgetown (post office-8:30 am) to Lewes (library-11:00 am), roughly along route of US 9 with the intent of gathering toys. Each participant donates at least one unwrapped toy for a boy or girl as part of their entrance fee; plus all remaining funds collected in excess of expenses are also contributed. Similar contributions from the public are also accepted at either in or in route.
Unfortunately, 2017 will be that last year for this event, because the rail trackage in Lewes will be removed. Mr. Dan Herholdt, Delaware Coast Line RR's (DCL) President, says: "We hope to make this final event a grand success and also commemorate the end of a long-term relationship between Lewis and our railroad. This final run will be known as the Michael D. Herholdt, Sr. memorial Toys-For-Tots run after my father who saved the line from abandonment in the 1980s. It is my hope that the people in Lewis and Georgetown will attend this event and support the areas disadvantaged children and also serve the community as a means to celebrate the end of an era."
Motorcars are antique vehicles used by the railroads from the early 1900s thru 1980s to provide transportation for their maintenance crews. Since the motorcar's usefulness was eclipsed by pick-up trucks fitted with RR wheel outriggers, these vehicles became surplus to the RR and scrapped. Subsequently enthusiasts have purchased and restored them for historical preservation. NARCOA members operate on the rails under the permission and supervision of the host RR. "Boomer John" Schmidt, NARCOA member and organizer of event, says, "This weekend, NARCOA will conduct two separate excursions: one Saturday (11/4/17) on the DCL (Georgetown-Lewes) and one Sunday (11/5/17) on the Wilmington & Western RR (Hockessin Greenbank)."
Mr. Ted Bennicoff, Sussex County Toys-For-Tots coordinator says, "I was there last year and was overwhelmed by the community's support, also I am saddened that 2017 will be the last year it will occur. We in the Toys-for-Tots campaign encourage all Holiday spirited people in both Lewes and Georgetown to team with us, NARCOA and the DCL make this last event a memorable event."
Come - Join Us - Bring an unwrapped toy contribution for a boy or girl and come see and touch the motorcars. (NOTE: Checks are also accepted)
- posted 10/22)
UNION PACIFIC UNVEILS COMMERATIVE LOCOMOTIVE HONORING U.S. ARMED FORCES:
Union Pacific paid tribute to the United States armed forces by unveiling
P No. 1943 The Spirit Locomotive
Uat San Antonio's Sunset Station today. Only the 16th commemorative locomotive presented in Union Pacific's 155-year history, UP No. 1943's arrival was welcomed by a group of veterans to kick off its Salute to the Military Tour, a series of community displays across Union Pacific's network
Military Salute Military Tour schedule available
UP No.1943 spotlights Union Pacific's relationship with thousands of veterans who helped build America after defending the United States - a tradition dating back to the company's founding. Created in collaboration with Union Pacific veterans, the locomotive name is connected to a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress funded by war bond contributions from Union Pacific employees in 1943. The plane was christened The Spirit of the Union Pacific and assigned to the 571st Bomber Squadron. The Spirit of the Union Pacific was shot down on its fifth mission during a raid on enemy installations in Munster, Germany.
"Union Pacific is proud to honor veterans and the men and women bravely serving our country with a special locomotive representing every armed forces branch reflected in its symbolic design," said Scott Moore, senior vice president – Corporate Relations. "Beginning today, UP No. 1943 The Spirit's mission is to salute them as it leads trains carrying America's goods across our network every day."
The Spirit's front is symbolic of Air Force Silver, and the blue stripe is a reflection of the former Strategic Air Command's "nose sash." The lettering inside the sash is the original hand-drawn font used on the B-17. It is followed by the Coast Guard's "Racing Stripe" and the Navy's Battleship Gray, which frames Union Pacific's traditional American flag. The military camouflage is a nod to the Army and Marines.
As the train passes by, the final message on the tail is dedicated to U.S. prisoners of war and those missing in action, featuring the POW/MIA symbol and its motto, "You Are Not Forgotten."
More than 20 percent of Union Pacific's employees have military experience, with some actively serving in the National Guard or Reserves. The company was recognized in the Best Companies for Veterans top 10 list, compiled by monster.com and military.com, for the second year in a row last year.
- posted 10/18)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 14, 2017:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 14, 2017.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 548,264 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 14 were 264,161 carloads, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 284,103 containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared to 2016.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 4,974 carloads, to 40,007; metallic ores and metals, up 3,454 carloads, to 22,306; and chemicals, up 1,805 carloads, to 30,961. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 5,369 carloads, to 21,930; petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,533 carloads, to 8,959; and coal, down 1,419 carloads, to 86,292.
For the first 41 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,640,157 carloads, up 3.7 percent from the same point last year; and 11,002,145 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 41 weeks of 2017 was 21,642,302 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 14, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 360,315 carloads, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 368,404 intermodal units, up 8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 728,719 carloads and intermodal units, up 4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 41 weeks of 2017 was 28,708,109 carloads and intermodal units, up 5 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 79,939 carloads for the week, down 1.9 percent, and 71,535 intermodal units, up 22 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 41 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,945,902 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.2 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,215 carloads for the week, up 5.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,766 intermodal units, down 4.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 41 weeks of 2017 was 1,119,905 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 10/18)
PTC WORK ON THE NEEDHAM LINE ALMOST COMPLETED:
With construction crews making good progress, the MBTA announced today that the installation of federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) infrastructure along the Needham Commuter Rail Line will finish on Saturday, October 21, about one month earlier than scheduled. Regular Saturday Needham Line train schedules will resume on October 28.
PTC is a federally mandated safety control system that automatically reduces train speeds when needed, reducing train collisions and preventing human error. In order to meet the federal deadline set to accomplish PTC installation, the entire MBTA Commuter Rail Line needs to be closed on specific weekends for crews to work as efficiently as possible.
MBTA Commuter Rail Lines with PTC planned bulk installation work already completed are the Newburyport/Rockport and Lowell Lines.
PTC work continues on weekends on the Haverhill Commuter Rail Line, having begun on Saturday, September 23, and scheduled through Saturday, December 2
- posted 10/18)
OMNITRAX RESPONDS TO THE LATEST GOVERNMENT OF CANADA ACTION REGARDING THE HUDSON BAY RAILWAY:
OmniTRAX Canada provided the following response to recent actions taken by Transport Canada with respect to the ongoing negotiations regarding the repair and future ownership of the Hudson Bay Railway (HBR):
Merv Tweed, President of OmniTRAX Canada, said, "Culminating in the threat of legal action from Transport Canada today, it has become clear to us that the federal government has no intention of constructively solving this problem for Churchill. It appears from their collective indecisiveness, dysfunction and lack of leadership on this critical issue that both Canada and the Province of Manitoba are content to leave Churchill as a remote, fly-in community for the first time in over 100 years."
"While this conflicts with Canada's stated position on reconciliation with First Nations and with Arctic sovereignty – Churchill is Canada's only deep-water Arctic port – and its commitment to its more isolated northern communities, our experience since the 200-year flood event on May 25 does not suggest there is an appropriate sense of urgency by any governments to rebuild the railroad or transfer the ownership to the First Nations who seek to own it."
"In mid-May of this year, seeing the snow pack and threatened storm, HBR contacted everyone along the railway and advised that we were concerned about a catastrophic flood that could compromise the railroad. When the flood came, we immediately informed our regulator of the damage and requested that they come view this damage first hand. Transport Canada declined to personally inspect the damage. We hired a world leading engineering firm, AECOM, to begin the difficult work of assessing the damage and putting together a repair plan. We informed our stakeholders, the government and the public that we would not be in a position financially to repair or continue to operate the line, and began the process of transitioning the HBR to a First Nations consortium."
"The transfer of the HBR, as well as the repair, requires government resources. The federal government said it would help and it has not helped. In fact, it has stood in the way of both the transfer and the repair. We are distraught over today's statement, not because of our commercial interests - our commercial interests were washed away with the flood - but because of what it means to our employees, our stakeholders and our communities along the HBR."
"This neglectful approach to Churchill has a long history: Since OmniTRAX purchased the HBR and the Port of Churchill in 1997, we have seen a steady and systematic removal of government funding to support those assets. At that time, in addition to supporting the transport of passengers, goods and supplies to Churchill and other northern communities, the HBR was used to transport grain from western producers out to global markets through the Port of Churchill. The value and commercial viability of the HBR have been undermined by a continuum of federal government actions over recent years, including the termination of the Canadian Wheat Board's Single Desk in 2012, the abandonment of the Churchill Gateway Development Corporation (CGDC) in 2013, the subsequent privatization of the Wheat Board and the termination of grain shipping support programs."
"The result of these measures has been the collapse of commercial activity along the line to the point of non-viability, as producers and shippers shifted the movement of grain westward. The Port has been closed to grain shipments since 2016. This is complicated by the fact that we have invested over $100M in this enterprise without any return since our purchase in 1997."
"It is our view that, as a result of the federal government's actions (or inactions) recently and over the past ten years, the HBR is not commercially viable and should be regarded as a public utility. We recognize this position has frustrated many, but it has become the inconvenient truth for Churchill."
"We do, however, believe a solution is achievable, as do many of the local stakeholders. In early August, we entered into an agreement with Grand Chief Dumas and a new coalition of First Nations buyers. This coalition has the capability to operate the line and ensure it can offer a sustainable link to Churchill and points north. This agreement now hinges on the federal government and its willingness to provide the requisite approvals and financial support."
"While we remain of the view that the best outcome for all concerned is a negotiated sale to the First Nations coalition, based on Transport Canada's actions today, we are now contemplating steps to bring this protracted matter to a close," concluded Mr. Tweed.
- posted 10/17)
RAFAEL SANTANA NAMED CEO OF GE TRANSPORTATION:
GE announced that Rafael Santana, president and CEO of GE Latin America, has been named president and CEO of GE Transportation, effective November 1, 2017.
With over 17 years of GE experience, Santana has held leadership positions in GE Oil & Gas, Power and Transportation before becoming the President & CEO of GE in Latin America. In his current role, he worked closely with the regional business leaders to make Latin America one of GE’s largest and fastest-growing regions. Prior to joining GE, Santana held leadership roles at ExxonMobil and British American Tobacco.
John Flannery, chairman and CEO of GE, said, “Rafael has deep roots in GE Transportation, having spent eight years in a variety of commercial and product management roles, as well as leading the Transportation team in Latin America. His experience helping teams navigate through this tough market, combined with his deep global, operational, services and industrial experience make him the perfect fit for this role. I look forward to working with him closely.”
Rafael Santana will succeed Jamie Miller, who will become chief financial officer of GE on November 1, 2017.
(GE - posted 10/17)
AMTRAK NAMES TIM GRIFFIN CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER:
J. Timothy “Tim” Griffin joins Amtrak today as executive vice president and chief marketing officer, responsible for Marketing, Passenger Experience, Northeast Corridor Business Development, State Supported Services Business Development, Long Distance Services Business Development, and Product Support and Management.
“Tim brings a deep level of transportation marketing expertise to Amtrak,” said Richard Anderson, Amtrak President and Co-CEO. “Throughout his career, he has repeatedly shown that he knows how to build strong corporate brands that accelerate a company’s growth. At Amtrak, we are looking for Tim to help us identify and win new customers, while continuing to maintain our loyal base of current customers. We are delighted to have him join the company.”
With more than 40 years of marketing experience in transportation and travel-related industries, Griffin’s areas of expertise include revenue maximization, strategic planning and budget control. He most recently managed a private investment company, consulting in the travel, transportation and distribution industries.
For nearly three decades, Griffin held marketing positions at Continental and Northwest Airlines, rising to executive vice president of Marketing at Northwest Airlines in 1999. In that role, he was responsible for $10 billion in passenger revenue production. Griffin also directed Client Services at Brierley and Partners, providing loyalty marketing for Hilton, Neiman Marcus and United Airlines. He began his transportation career in 1977 with American Airlines, where he led post-deregulation route and pricing strategies.
Griffin will report directly to President and Co-CEO Richard Anderson.
- posted 10/16)
RARITAN RIVER BRIDGE REPLACEMENT CLEARS ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW:
A replacement for the aging Raritan River Drawbridge has cleared the federal environmental assessment process. The milestone marks a significant development in NJ TRANSIT’s effort to make its infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather following the devastating impacts of Superstorm Sandy.
On October 13, 2017, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for NJ TRANSIT’s Raritan River Bridge Replacement project (River Draw) as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The FONSI was issued after it was determined the project has no significant effect on the environment. Final Design will start this month and is scheduled to be at 100-percent design by the end of 2018.
The Raritan River Bridge Replacement project will replace the existing swing bridge that carries NJ TRANSIT's North Jersey Coast Line (NJCL) trains over the Raritan River between Perth Amboy and South Amboy. Built in 1907, River Draw is the sole rail link for 17 of the 20 stations on the NJCL to the major job centers of Newark, Jersey City, and Manhattan. It carries almost 10,000 daily NJ TRANSIT customers and moves two million tons of freight annually via Conrail.
(NJT- posted 10/16)
STATE OF MASSACHUSETT'S CELEBRATES UPCOMING SPRINGFIELD RAIL CAR FACTORY COMPLETION:
The Massachusett's Baker-Polito Administration today joined local elected officials, transportation leaders, and CRRC MA leaders for a tour of the Springfield rail car manufacturing facility. The tour comes in acknowledgement of CRRC’s permanent Certificate of Facility Occupancy, marking a major milestone towards the completion of the $95 million, 204,000-square-foot plant that will manufacture the MBTA’s brand new Orange and Red Line subway cars.
"We are excited to celebrate this major project milestone and the continued impact this factory will have on economic growth in Springfield and the reliability of the MBTA," said Governor Charlie Baker. "From new employment opportunities in Western Massachusetts to service improvements for the riders who depend on the MBTA and transit systems around the nation to get to work and school, this partnership will deliver many benefits to the Commonwealth’s residents."
"When fully operational, this facility will spur the Western Massachusetts regional economy, while delivering new Red and Orange Line cars for the MBTA and its riders," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. "We are all excited for the opportunities to come as the CRRC factory is completed to benefit the Commonwealth, local residents, commuters, and other transit agencies."
"The upcoming opening of this state-of-the-art facility represents major investments in the future of public transportation in Greater Boston that our customers deserve," said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. "These new cars will replace Orange Line and Red Line vehicles, which in some cases are more than 30 years old, helping further our continued goal of providing a first-class transit system that meets the needs of our customers."
Construction of the facility began in March 2016 with completion scheduled for winter 2018. A 2,240-foot test track as well as a staging and storing area adjacent to the Springfield manufacturing facility were also included in the construction.
Over one hundred construction jobs were created in restoring the historic Westinghouse building and in building the new facility. Approximately 150 technology, engineering, and assembly employees are to be hired to staff the new facility in support of the Orange and Red Line Project with a determined focus on hiring from the greater Springfield region.
A world leader in rail car manufacturing, CRRC was awarded a $566 million contract in 2014 to design and manufacture new Orange and Red Line vehicles. The contract initially included the purchase of 152 new Orange Line vehicles and 132 new Red Line vehicles. An additional 120 Red Line vehicles were ordered in December 2016 in order to have the entire Red Line fleet completely replaced. Full rail car production at the new plant is expected to begin in April 2018 with the first production cars completed in January 2019.
(MBYS - posted 10/16)
NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES TRAVEL OPTIONS FOR FAR HILLS STEEPLECHASE EVENT:
NJ TRANSIT is offering special service between Hoboken and Far Hills to carry thousands of spectators to and from the 97th annual Far Hills Steeplechase at Moorland Farms on Saturday, October 21. NJ TRANSIT’s Far Hills Station on the Gladstone Branch of the Morris & Essex Lines is located directly across the street from Moorland Farms.
Due to ongoing work on the Gladstone line, private carrier busing has been replacing rail service on Saturdays, Sundays and most holidays since mid-March. However, some rail service will operate for race day only. After Far Hills has been cleared of the race patrons, bus service will again replace rail service so that work on the line may resume.
(NJT - posted 10/16)
AMTRAK ANNOUNCES WORK TO REFERESH AND MODERNIZE NEW YORK PENN STATION RESTROOMS:
Amtrak today announced that restrooms on the Amtrak concourse at New York Penn Station are receiving a refresh. Work on the women’s restroom will begin starting Monday, October 16. Following completion of the women’s restroom, the refresh of the men’s restroom will begin. The restroom project is the first of several improvements Amtrak is planning for the station, and is expected to be completed by Spring 2018.
Amtrak has temporary restroom facilities located between West 31st and West 33rd Streets on the former taxiway that will also open on Monday, October 16. The temporary restrooms include sinks, indoor heating, and units fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Amtrak Police Department will monitor the temporary restrooms. Amtrak passengers can access the temporary restrooms via the escalators and elevator on the Amtrak rotunda. Directional signs will be available at the station.
“Amtrak is working to provide the best possible customer experience at New York Penn Station by enhancing our current amenities,” said Mike DeCataldo, Vice President, Transportation, at Amtrak. “The restroom upgrades reflect Amtrak’s commitment to provide our passengers with a high level of customer service and align perfectly with our efforts to upgrade our stations, across the country.”
The updated restrooms will include durable terrazzo floors, contemporary wall tiling, updated fixtures and energy efficient lighting. New solid surface sinks will incorporate automatic soap dispensers, faucets and hand dryers.
The restroom refresh comes on the heels of the recently completed Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station, and advances Amtrak’s plan to modernize stations, infrastructure, and trains on the Northeast Corridor. Additional Penn Station initiatives include the Concourse Management Strategy study currently underway with Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit and design of the refresh program for Amtrak’s ticketed waiting room and ClubAcela lounge.
- posted 10/13)
RIDE METRO-NORTH AND THE 'NOSTALGIA SPECIAL' TO CATCH THE YANKEES BATTLE FOR THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP:
Do the New York Yankees have a shot at winning their 28th World Series title? Find out when the Bronx Bombers battle the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium for the American League Championship on October 16 at 8 p.m. Customers should check the New York Yankees website to confirm the game start time on October 17, and the start time for a possible third game on October 18.
Metro-North schedules for the American League Championship Series game trains are here:
Schedules for game trains are also available on the Metro-North Train Time app for iPhone and Android.
Riding Metro-North Railroad is a fast, convenient way to catch the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. Customers can take Metro-North’s special “Yankee Clipper” direct service to the Stadium on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines, as well as continuous shuttle service before, during and after the game from Grand Central Terminal and Harlem-125th Street.
Departing from Grand Central Terminal, customers can also make the trip to Yankee Stadium the old-fashioned way, on the “Nostalgia Special,” a vintage IRT subway train that first hit the rails a few years before the original stadium first opened its doors. The “Nostalgia Train” leaves Grand Central Terminal’s northbound express track one hour before game time.
While Metro-North serves the Yankees-E. 153rd Street station 365 days a year with local Bronx service on the Hudson Line, the railroad offers extra service on all three of its east of Hudson lines for game days. The ALCS games are served by special Yankee Clipper trains that offer direct service to the stadium from as far away as Poughkeepsie, Southeast, and New Haven.
The “Nostalgia Special’s” rattan seats, ceiling fans and drop sash windows reflect back to an earlier age of subway travel. The train, originally operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) system, began service in 1917, serving customers for more than five decades before they were retired in the 1960s. Rolled out for the occasional special service assignment, the train serves as a splendid illustration of just how far rapid transit car design and technology has advanced over the past 100 years.
After leaving Grand Central, the four-car “Nostalgia Special” runs non-stop to 161st Street-Yankee Stadium, making the trip in about 30 minutes.
Additional service will be provided for the capacity crowds of more than 52,000 fans expected to attend the game. As a reminder, fans can always take the B SubwayD Subway or 4 Subway train to 161 St-Yankee Stadium (B Subway during rush hours only). After all games, trains are queued along the center track of the Jerome and Concourse Lines and then called into 161 St-Yankee Stadium and filled one by one until the last Manhattan-bound customers are on their way.
Metro-North Railroad Game Day Service Details
Avoid the crush of game day traffic and expensive parking fees and enjoy an easy one-ticket ride on Metro-North to Yankees-E. 153rd Street station, which is less than a 10-minute walk from the station.
From all ALCS games, Metro-North’s special game trains are timed to depart 20-45 minutes after the last out. All Metro-North trips to or from the stadium on any line can be made with just one ticket, whether you ride a direct train or change trains at Harlem-125th Street. Metro-North encourages customers to purchase tickets using MTA eTix, the Railroad’s mobile ticketing app which allows customers to buy tickets on their mobile device -- anytime, anywhere.
Be sure to keep your ticket with you as ticket collectors will be posted at the Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station mezzanine level.
You must purchase a peak ticket if part of your trip is during peak travel time (between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.). However, if you are traveling on the Harlem or New Haven lines and transferring at Harlem-125th Street or Grand Central Terminal during peak hours, you can purchase an off-peak ticket between your boarding station and Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station.
Monthly and weekly East of Hudson ticket holders on the Harlem and New Haven lines, as well West of Hudson ticket holders on the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines, may travel between Grand Central Terminal and Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station at no extra charge. These tickets are also good for travel between the outlying station and Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station at no extra charge
- posted 10/13)
MTA ANNOUNCES ENHANCED BAY RIDGE AVENUE R SUBWAY STATION OPENS AND ADDITIONAL
BAY RIDGE STATIONS TO BE MADE ADA ACCESSIBLE:
MTA New York City Transit today opened the enhanced Bay Ridge Ave R Subway in Brooklyn, and further announced that the MTA’s Capital Plan now includes $40 million for ADA-accessibility projects at the 77 St and Bay Ridge-95 St stations on the R Subway line. The Capital Plan, which was amended this summer, now includes funding for four accessibility projects in Bay Ridge at 59th Street, 77th Street, 86th Street and Bay Ridge-95th Street.
The enhanced Bay Ridge station opening today features countdown clocks at each of its three entrances, enhanced LED lighting, WiFi connectivity, new digital displays throughout the station, USB ports, and an upgraded security system in the 102-year-old station. In the fare control area, glass barriers have replaced metal bars, enhancing sightlines and allowing more light to enter the station. One of the station’s entrances features a new canopy. Other upgrades include wayfinding floor tiles for the visually-impaired, new handrails, stair treads, wall tiles, and granite flooring. Pictures of the new Bay Ridge R Subway station can be found here, and pictures of the old Bay Ridge R Subway station can be seen here.
Completed in less than six months, the Bay Ridge station opening comes just a month after the re-opening of the 53 St station on the R Subway line, making it the second of 33 stations to undergo extensive, accelerated renovations to create new and improved design standards for subway stations and undertake extensive renovations across the city. The Bay Ridge station was first opened on September 13, 1915.
As part of the MTA's recent Capital Plan amendment passed this summer, the Authority will now make the 77 St R Subway and Bay Ridge-95 St R Subway stations ADA-accessible. The Capital Plan amendment includes $40 million in new funding for these projects. The Capital Plan also includes funding to make the 86 St R Subway and 59 St stations ADA-accessible. In all, the 2015-2019 Capital Plan includes over $125 million for accessibility on the R Subway line. The first contract for these accessibility projects will be awarded later this year by the MTA.
“This station opening is a huge benefit for Bay Ridge, delivering subway customers new tools to manage their commute, including countdown clocks, Wi-Fi connectivity and USB ports, as well as an enhanced station with better lighting, improved signage and new art,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. “We are also proud to announce that our newly amended Capital Plan now includes new funding for four fully accessible, ADA-compliant stations in Bay Ridge - which will deliver a level of accessibility to this neighborhood that has never existed before."?
The Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI) program builds upon a larger campaign aimed at improving the New York City Transit system. The MTA is undertaking component and renewal work at more than 170 other stations. This station was completed under a design-build contract which designates a single team to be responsible for the design and construction of an entire project. Design-build ensures seamless coordination between all contractors on a project so that work is completed in the shortest possible time frame. The MTA is utilizing design-build for all 33 stations that are a part of this initiative.
The station also includes new mosaic artwork, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design. Artist Katy Fischer has created abstract shapes that convey an expansive sense of time. Strata references local history using imagined artifacts inspired by objects that could have been unearthed during the Bay Ridge Avenue’s station’s excavation in the early 20th century. The hand-glazed ceramic forms evoke items such as bone fish hooks used by the Lenape, Delft pottery shards of early Dutch settlers, and Colonial era tools and shoe buckles. Tiffany vases and railroad spikes mark the transition from farmland to residential community with the arrival of the subway. To aid in wayfinding, the contrasting background colors refer to the cyclical rhythms of the daily commute.
- posted 10/13)
FTA RELEASES DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR SEPTA
KOP RAIL PROJECT:
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement review (Draft EIS) for SEPTA's King of Prussia Rail Project (KOP Rail) is now available online. The Draft EIS can be accessed at
KOP Rail is SEPTA's proposed extension of the existing Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) into King of Prussia, providing a "one-seat" ride to King of Prussia from either the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby, or the Norristown Transportation Center.
The Draft EIS identifies alternatives and analyzes the effects the proposed project would have on the natural, cultural and socioeconomic environments. This federal process requires that SEPTA evaluate a range of options or alternatives that would address the project needs and goals, and determining which, if any, of the alternatives best balances potential impacts on the area environment and community with its anticipated benefits.
"SEPTA is pleased to have reached this critical milestone in the process and appreciates the FTA's guidance," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "We are committed to continuing to be good partners in the community as we work to enhance transportation options that make the entire region more livable and competitive."
The proposed NHSL extension will provide a more frequent, more reliable transit option between Center City and Norristown, including to the King of Prussia Mall and adjacent employment centers. Improved transit service will increase regional mobility, provide an alternative to auto travel in the area to help reduce congestion, and support development of multimodal transportation options.
In an effort to minimize impacts to the community, SEPTA is exploring two design options within the recommended Locally Preferred Alternative. Through a series of community meetings and backyard visits to provide project information and better understand community concerns, SEPTA modified its proposed plans. As a result, additional design options are being explored, including a PA Turnpike North/Southside Option crossing over U.S. 202. This design option provides separation between KOP Rail structures and neighborhoods to the north and south.
The Draft EIS, which can be found on the King of Prussia Rail website
), presents the findings of the analysis to the public and stakeholders for their review. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the document online and at public hearings and information sessions before a decision is made.
Hearings will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in King of Prussia (301 W Dekalb Pike) on Monday, November 13, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and at the Norristown Municipal Building on Wednesday, November 15 at 6 p.m. A series of public information sessions will also be held in Upper Darby, King of Prussia and Philadelphia. The schedule for the information sessions will be posted on the KOP Rail website. Online comments can be submitted at www.kingofprussiarail.com/comment.html.
SEPTA will review all comments submitted on the Draft EIS at the close of the comment period. SEPTA anticipates work will on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) will begin once all comments are reviewed.
The Final EIS will include further refinement of the preferred alternative; responses to comments; commitments to mitigate any adverse impacts of the project; evidence of compliance with relevant environmental statutes, executive orders and regulations; and a description of the changes that have been made to the project since the DRAFT EIS was published. The Final EIS is expected to be issued in 2019.
Information and updates on KOP Rail is available online at www.kingofprussiarail.com and on Twitter at @KOPRail. For more information about SEPTA, visit www.septa.org.
- posted 10/13)
RAILROAD STATEMENT ON THE MILLE-ILES RIVER DERAILMENT:
On October 12, 2017, Quebec-Gatineau Railway (QGRY) freight train was operating between Boisbriand and Trois-Rivières. The train consisted of three locomotives pulling 99 cars.
At around 9 pm, 7 empty cars, which had transported cement powder, derailed. The incident occurred on a railway bridge near the Sophie-Masson bridge, which spans the Mille-Îles River between Laval and Terrebonne. Four of the seven cars were found on the banks of the river. There were no injuries and no evacuation was necessary. The cars contained no hazardous materials.
Local and government authorities were dispatched to the scene. Operations to put the cars back on track and clean the scene are currently underway. Derailed cars should be removed within the next 36 hours. The railway will remain closed to rail traffic for a minimum of 48 hours, which period will be extended or reduced depending on the time required to repair the bridge, which was damaged during the incident. Affected customers have been notified, and the railroad will work with them to minimize disruption.
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident.
The safety of employees and communities is the number one priority of the Quebec-Gatineau Railway. We are working with local authorities and cities to ensure a timely return to order, and we appreciate the outstanding professionalism and efforts of the first responders.
- posted 10/13)
INTEGRAL EAST SIDE ACCESS WORK AT HAROLD INTERLOCKING THIS FALL:
This weekend, the Long Island Rail Road will perform testing of a new signal system on existing, live tracks at Harold Interlocking in Queens – a pivotal step in the progress toward East Side Access, a project that will allow thousands of commuters to shorten their trips to and from Manhattan with a travel option to Grand Central Terminal at Park Avenue, instead of Penn Station, on the west side.
This work is scheduled to coincide with other train schedule changes due to concrete tie work on the Babylon Branch, and therefore, reduce overall train service impacts.
The signal testing will continue on Nov. 4-5 and Nov. 11-12.
- posted 10/13)
NJ TRANSIT DEPLOYS AQUATRACK UNITS FOR LEAF CLEANING
NJ TRANSIT is once again waging its annual battle against Mother Nature and fallen leaves on the rails. NJ TRANSIT is deploying its two AquaTrack machines throughout the fall season.
The AquaTrack equipment is a high-pressure power-washing system which removes leaves and oily residue from the tracks in an effort to prevent train delays caused by “slippery rail” conditions.
Last year, NJ TRANSIT unveiled its second AquaTrack unit which allows the cleaning process to maintain a larger coverage area in helping to prevent delays.
“While there is no way to completely eliminate the effect Mother Nature has on the railroad, the AquaTrack units have had great success in managing leaf-related slippage on our rails,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steve Santoro. “By utilizing these two highly specialized pieces of equipment, we can keep the rails free and clear of fallen leaves, increasing safety and keeping trains running on time.”
Fallen leaves left on rail tracks can cause a condition known as “slippery rail” – a challenge facing all railroads in the Northeast and other parts of the world where deciduous trees are prevalent. The decaying leaves create an oily residue that coats the rails and causes poor traction. The decreased train speeds, in turn, create delays.
The AquaTrack system has been in use by NJ TRANSIT since October 2003. It consists of two 250-horsepower diesel-engine units mounted on a flat car with an operator control cab. Two pressure-pump units dispense water up to 20,000 pounds-per-square-inch directly to the top of the rail. The process uses 17 gallons of water per minute.
The original AquaTrack operated primarily on the M&E and Montclair-Boonton lines, which face particular challenges including the hilly areas around Glen Ridge and Summit stations, washing the rails twice a day Monday through Friday—once overnight and again during midday hours. On weekends, the Pascack Valley and Main/Bergen County lines are usually covered. The addition of a second unit last year added cleaning on the Raritan Valley and North Jersey Coast Lines.
- posted 10/12)
OMNI MATRIALS SWITCHES TO RAIL AND CSS:
The big silos at Chicago’s Illinois International Port District are now served by CSS, thanks to a new rail service inaugurated by Omni Materials this year.
Omni recently executed a long-term agreement with a producer in Superior, Wisconsin for lime kiln dust—a product used for base stabilization in road construction and other industrial applications.
“We determined that transporting this product over that distance could be more economical via rail,” says Ward Blakefield, vice president, Omni Materials.
Following the successful completion of negotiations with line-haul carrier Union Pacific—and CSS for delivery to the Illinois Port terminal—Omni leased pressure differential covered hopper cars to start rail service earlier this year.
Supply chain integrity is critical for specific lime kiln dust products, each of which have different chemical properties appropriate to different applications.
“We are comfortable that our rail service partners can support this requirement,” Blakefield says. “Since we’ve switched to rail, it’s lived up to our expectations.”
Upon delivery by CSS to the Illinois Port facility, Omni crews transfer products to silos specifically prepared for each individual grade of lime kiln dust.
Omni currently is moving 40,000 tons of products annually from the Superior location. Its success with rail has encouraged Blakefield to look at rail as an option while the company looks to other, more distant product sources.
Omni sees its business growing in the 200-mile radius served with truck delivery from the Illinois Port terminal.
“As we grow,” Blakefield says, “we need to find sources that are even further from the terminal, making rail the attractive mode for moving from our suppliers to the Chicago area.”
Illinois International Port District Director Clayton Harris III is glad to have additional volumes moving to the port’s silos, and for the role CSS has played in making this growth possible.
“In my first year at the Port,” says Harris, “we’ve engaged with CSS in bringing this business to our Port. Some of the negotiations have been tough, but CSS has proven itself to be a fair and ethical partner.”
- posted 10/12)
CAPE COD CENTRAL'S CHRISTMAS TOWN TRAIN:
Thousands of tickets were sold during the first week of sales for the Cape Cod Central Railroad's Train to Christmas Town. Some trips close to Christmas are nearly sold out, and bookings continue at an exceptional pace.
"Our guests recognize that Cape Cod Central Railroad puts on a fantastic show and train ride for families, and many are excited about this year's theme," said Kaylene Jablecki, Event Manger. "And people will enjoy Main Street in Buzzards Bay which has undergone a transformation over the past few years." The on-board theatrical event is based on the children's book, Train to Christmas Town, which follows the story of a young girl named Janice and her friends. This year's event features new content and more development of the characters than past event.
Train to Christmas Town includes many of the popular features from previous years, including cocoa and cookies, a reading of the book, a visit from Santa with a gift for each child, and Christmas carols on the way back. And, the train ride features an engaging cast of storybook characters including Wabash the squirrel, Zephyr the cat, and Bumblebee the bear, all going to Christmas Town on the train.
The festive atmosphere at the station and on the train includes original holiday music from the Grammy-nominated band "Trout Fishing in America." The book was written by Peggy Ellis, a lifelong educator, and was illustrated by Jeffrey Lee, who is best known as the graphic artist behind the 1980's arcade game Q*bert.
The Train to Christmas Town train ride and performance is also available at five other locations in the US and UK. Tickets are available online at
or by phone at (888) 797-7245.
(Cape Cod Railroad, Randy Kotuby
- posted 10/11)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 7, 2017:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 7, 2017.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 554,826 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 7 were 269,336 carloads, up 2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 285,490 containers and trailers, up 10.8 percent compared to 2016.
Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 5,064 carloads, to 40,402; chemicals, up 3,006 carloads, to 31,190; and metallic ores and metals, up 1,680 carloads, to 21,299. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 were coal, down 2,681 carloads, to 87,521; grain, down 2,111 carloads, to 24,741; and motor vehicles and parts, down 1,747 carloads, to 17,194.
For the first 40 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,375,996 carloads, up 3.7 percent from the same point last year; and 10,718,042 intermodal units, up 3.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 40 weeks of 2017 was 21,094,038 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 7, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 367,435 carloads, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 371,039 intermodal units, up 11.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 738,474 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 40 weeks of 2017 was 27,979,390 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 82,819 carloads for the week, up 2.7 percent, and 71,937 intermodal units, up 16.5 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 40 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,794,428 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.3 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,280 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,612 intermodal units, up 3.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 40 weeks of 2017 was 1,090,924 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 10/11)
CP EXTENDS REACH INTO THE OHIO VALLEY, EXPANDS SALES AND MARKETING
PRESCENT IN ASIA:
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced a new partnership with Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) and Bluegrass Farms of Ohio that will open up the Ohio Valley to CP customers and further extend CP's reach into key North American markets.
CP has an exclusive agreement with Bluegrass Farms of Ohio to use its 90-acre intermodal facility in Jeffersonville, Ohio located strategically on the I-71 corridor with the ability to serve the Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton markets. The farm consortium will continue to own the facility, and will operate it on behalf of CP. CP has also come to an agreement with G&W, which services the site through its Indiana & Ohio (IORY) line.
"Through strategic partnerships and innovative thinking, we are expanding our reach and increasing optionality for our customers," said Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer. "This service allows our international intermodal customers to come through the Port of Vancouver and access markets deep in the Ohio Valley. The unique site also creates better round trip economics for our customers by enabling the empty containers to be re-loaded with agriculture products and shipped back overseas."
The site offers CP and G&W a ready-made intermodal facility on the IORY line that is able to accommodate intermodal and bulk shipments, along with the ability to provide transloading services of bulk agricultural products into containers. The secure site also features extensive container and trailer storage and the ability to grow with current and future customers.
"Our partnership with Canadian Pacific is an excellent example of how short line railroads can extend the reach of the Class 1 network," said Jack Hellmann, G&W Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "This intermodal terminal not only offers a new rail option to and from the Ohio Valley, but was purpose built to provide backhaul opportunities that will enable customers to reduce overall transportation costs and enhance their competitive advantage."
"We are excited to be working closely with CP and have always believed that this is the perfect site to not only reach into the Ohio Valley with imports, but to deliver high-quality, sustainable agricultural products back on the export side," said Dave Martin, President of Bluegrass Farms of Ohio.
The new service is another in a suite of options that CP has created to better meet the needs of the marketplace and leverages its innovative live-lift operation at Portal, North Dakota and its best-in-class daily service between Vancouver and Chicago.
CP is also expanding its sales and marketing presence in Asia, with key positions being added in China and Singapore.
"We are putting more dots on the map, expanding our reach and working with current and potential customers to sustainably grow our business and theirs," Creel said.
- posted 10/10)
SARATOGA & NORTH CREEK RAILWAY'S TRAIN TO CHRISTMAS TOWN:
Saratoga & North Creek Railway introduces The Train to Christmas Town departing from Stony Creek, NY for 2017. The on-board theatrical event is based on the children's book, The Train to Christmas Town, which follows the story of a young girl named Janice and her adventures with an engaging cast of storybook characters on her trip to Christmas Town. A new partnership with The Stony Creek Ranch Resort offers fun winter activities on-site, food, beverage and lodging with exclusive packages available to train passengers
"We are very excited to be able to immerse guests into a brand new holiday experience. I believe, that with our combined efforts, we have a product that passengers and guests will find to be both unique and fun." - Justin Gonyo, General Manager of Saratoga & North Creek Railway.
The enchanting story comes to life when the train departs Stony Creek Ranch for a one-hour roundtrip journey to "Christmas Town" during which Santa's elves will serve delicious hot chocolate and cookies. Sing along to original holiday music on-board from the Grammy-nominated band "Trout Fishing in America" and listen to The Train to Christmas Town read aloud on the train. Each girl and boy on board will receive a visit from Santa himself with a special holiday gift.
The Stony Creek Ranch Resort, embedded in the beautiful snow-covered Adirondacks near Lake George, is the region's premiere Christmas dude ranch. Each room and cabin has its own Christmas tree and is decorated in the holiday spirit. Guests can board hay wagon rides around the property and meet Blitzen, the on-site reindeer. They can also visit the petting zoo to hug bunnies, miniature goats and mini-pigs. Adults and kids will love the Christmas lights, arts and crafts activities, the assorted booths and delicious food in Jingle Bell Junction. Every resort guest is guaranteed a seat on the Train to Christmas Town, plus much, much more. For room reservations call the resort at 518-696-2444 or visit
The Train to Christmas Town begins November 17th and runs through December 28th. Families can now look forward to more flexibility in planning their holiday trip with added departures and more Diamond Class and First class seating available than ever before. Exact dates, fares and excursion times are available by visiting www.sncrr.com/train-to-christmas-town or by calling 877-726-7245. Ticket prices range from $49 to $89 depending on class of service and date of travel. Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride.
(Saratoga & North Creek Railway
- posted 10/10)
NYC TRANSIT'S ENHANCED STATION INITIATIVE EXPANDS TO ASTORIA LINE STATION:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced today that New York City Transit's Enhanced Station Initiative will expand to the 30th Av and 36th Av N SubwayW Subway stations with work beginning on Monday, October 23rd. The Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI) improves the reliability, capacity and customer experience inside the subway system. These two stations will be temporarily closed during the project in order to complete the repairs and enhancements as quickly as possible.
The top-to-bottom renovations include structural repairs, rehabilitated entrances, improvements and repairs to mezzanines and platforms, waterproofing, paint and refurbishments of existing railings and stairs. The station enhancements planned for the stations also include:
During these temporary station closures, customers are encouraged to use nearby M SubwayN SubwayR SubwayW Subway stations or the Q102 bus route, which runs parallel to the Astoria Line between 39 Av and 30 Av and provides transfers to Queens Plaza E SubwayM SubwayR Subway and Queensboro Plaza N SubwayW Subway7 Subway. During the closures, MTA NYC Transit will increase weekday rush hour and weekend service on the Q102 to accommodate additional customers.
During the closures in both directions of the 30 Av and 36 Av stations, customers can travel to Broadway, Astoria Blvd or 39 Av for N SubwayW Subway service or to Steinway St or 36 St for M SubwayR Subway service. Customers can also take the Q18 to Northern Blvd M SubwayR Subway ; Q100 and Q69 to 21 St-Queensbridge F Subway , Queens Plaza E SubwayM SubwayR Subway and Queensboro Plaza N SubwayW Subway7 Subway ; or Q66, which connects 7 SubwayE SubwayF SubwayM SubwayN SubwayR SubwayW Subway to the subway lines along its route.
“The Enhanced Station Initiative embraces new techniques and innovations that simplify the work and shorten construction time while bringing real improvements to the transit experience,” said MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim. “We’ve received great feedback from the customers who use the redesigned ESI station in Brooklyn at 53 St, and we look forward to opening more of these modernized subway stations and bringing more amenities to more stations across our system.”
The first of the 33 ESI stations, 53 St on the R Subway line in Brooklyn, opened earlier in 2017 with top-to-bottom renovations and modern customer amenities.
The MTA is using design-build contracts for work at all ESI stations, giving private construction firms with best-in-class techniques and expertise the opportunity to complete the projects without multiple firms competing for access to the work space or overlapping schedules. A single team is responsible for both the design and construction to ensure seamless coordination. The contractor also assumes the risk for cost overruns and maintains time schedules.
The MTA Board awarded the $150 million contract to Skanska with AECOM in April 2017 for work at four Astoria Line stations. The 30th Av and 36th Av stations are scheduled to be completed in Spring 2018. The Broadway and 39 Av stations will then close for renovations later in 2018. These four stations originally opened for service in July 1917.
While the Astoria stations will be closed in both directions to speed the construction timeline, work at these elevated stations will be limited by aboveground construction regulations such as shorter work hours, partial street closures, and confined work zones. The renovations will also require 14 weekend bypasses per track during which trains will operate express in one direction between 39 Av and 30 Av. Customers will be advised to back ride to their destinations during these weekend bypasses, which will be announced ahead of time.
- posted 10/10)
- Improved signage for easier navigation, including digital, real-time train arrival information at subway entrances;
- Glass and wire mesh platform windscreens to protect riders from the elements;
- At 30 Av, a new staircase for exiting from the Astoria-bound platform to the street-level intersection of 30th Avenue and Newtown Avenue;
- New security cameras and railings for improved safety;
- New glass barriers and LED lighting throughout for increased light and transparency; and
- New artwork, and durable granite flooring in the station mezzanine.
KEOLIS DEBUTS NEW PUBLIC TRANSPORT TECHNOLOGIES AT APTA EXPO 2017:
Keolis, a global operator of public transportation systems, will be demonstrating multiple new innovations in transit technology during the upcoming American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Conference and Expo, which takes place October 9-11 at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Media and conference attendees are invited to take a test ride on the Keolis autonomous shuttle, the very first driverless public transportation vehicle to operate on a city street in North America.
The demonstration will show how the 15-passenger shuttle safely and conveniently transports multiple passengers on public streets while navigating around the typical vehicle and pedestrian traffic in an urban environment.
The demonstration will take place in Hall B, just a few hundred feet away from the Keolis Booth (location at #3119) where other technologies will be on display including:
For more than a century, Keolis has been a global leader in using innovative technology
and new mobility solutions to manage passenger transportation systems throughout the world,
transporting three billion passengers a year via trains, buses, shuttles and taxis, while providing
fleet management and maintenance, logistics and routing services. Learn more about how Keolis and our 60,000 employees
are always "Thinking Like A Passenger" at
- posted 10/09)
- Digitizing Commuter Rail: See how Keolis is introducing new applications and innovative technologies to digitize Boston's commuter rail system. Ric Salvatici, Vice President of Digital Solutions for Keolis Commuter Services, will be on hand demonstrating how Keolis is using video analytics, IoT technology, data and mobile platforms to bring operational efficiencies and data-driven decisions to advance commuter rail operations.
- Virtual Technology as Safety Tool: Keolis Transit America is using immersive virtual reality (VR) simulation technology to train its drivers in Las Vegas and in other markets on how to operate public buses more safely and efficiently in changing route conditions. Visitors to the Keolis booth will be able to participate in a live VR demonstration of this system.
- Droning on the Railroad: Pascal Baran, Chief Engineering Officer for Keolis Commuter Services, will demonstrate how Keolis is using drone technology to manage Boston's commuter rail system to reduce the impact of slippery rail conditions, improve predictive maintenance and provide faster response times when repairs are needed on the network.
CUMMINS QSK95 IN ACTIVE LOCOMOTIVE SERVICE ACROSS THE U.S.:
Cummins Inc. announced that its QSK95 engine is in active service installed in Siemens(R) Charger locomotives in California, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.
As displayed at APTA Expo (Booth 1933), the QSK95 uses integrated Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) aftertreatment to meet Tier 4 emissions. Combined with Cummins latest-generation Modular Common Rail fuel system (MCR) and turbocharging, it delivers 4400 hp (3281 kW), the highest output of any 16-cylinder high-speed diesel. It enables locomotives to reach top speeds of over 125 mph (201 kmh).
"Versus medium-speed engines, the QSK95 delivers unmatched fuel efficiency and responsiveness with ultra-low emissions and reduced noise, all in a smaller footprint. It supports a 16 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the non-Tier 4 locomotives that the Charger will replace. The emissions improvement is around 90 percent," said Melina Kennedy, Executive Director of Cummins Rail Business.
The Charger locomotives, built by Siemens in Sacramento, California, are the first high-speed passenger locomotives to receive Tier 4 emissions certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They are Buy America compliant, using a diverse base of U.S. suppliers including Cummins.
The lighter-weight design enables improved efficiency as well as less maintenance for both the locomotive and the railway infrastructure. Cummins high-speed QSK95 engine is 30-50 percent lighter and smaller than an equivalent traditional medium-speed engine. The locomotive has a fuel capacity of 2,200 gallons and is three times more efficient per passenger than comparable two-person car travel.
Locomotives are currently operating from hubs in Oakland and Chicago. Brightline's passenger rail service, connecting to South Florida and later on to Orlando, will operate from West Palm Beach. In 2018, there will be a further hub in Baltimore. The locomotives are being supported by close collaboration from Siemens and the local Cummins distributors to ensure high levels of equipment uptime.
"To date, we have delivered 70 out of the 80 engines initially ordered. Based on the positive feedback so far, we expect demand to continue as more projects come on-line," added Kennedy.
- posted 10/09)
CSX SERVICE CONTINUES TO STRENGTHEN:
CSX reported another week of improving performance as it adopts the tenets of Precision Scheduled Railroading.
CSX President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison said, “CSX’s performance shows improved transit time, train speed, car-handling efficiency and terminal fluidity as we continue implementing the principles of scheduled railroading and the previous transitional issues are resolved.”
Highlights of the most-recent company report include:
“We continue to drive forward in our effort to become the best railroad in North America, and the benefits of Precision Scheduled Railroading are becoming more apparent to our customers and our partners every day,” Harrison said.
- posted 10/06)
- Since mid-July, system-wide train velocity on CSX’s 21,000-mile network has increased by approximately 16 percent, and is now higher than the 2016 full-year average.
- Transit times for scheduled merchandise trains have returned to a normal range, and are lower than transit levels at the outset of CSX’s Precision Scheduled Railroad implementation in first quarter 2017.
- Average terminal dwell – the number of hours cars spend in terminals between their origins and destinations – has steadily improved over the last two months and is currently 11.2 hours, declining more than 15% since the summer. Dwell is now lower than 2016 full-year average.
- CSX’s hump terminals continue to operate fluidly, within planned parameters and with capacity available to handle additional freight requirements.
FIFTH TRAINSET DELIVERED AS BRIGHTLINE NAMED OFFICIAL TRAIN SERVICE OF MIAMI HEAT:
Traveling to a Miami HEAT game from Broward and Palm Beach Counties will be a slam dunk when Brightline launches service later this year. Today Brightline, the new and only privately funded express inter-city passenger rail service in the United States, welcomed its fifth trainset, BrightRed, from Siemens USA in Sacramento. Coinciding with BrightRed's arrival, Brightline was named the official Train Service of the Miami HEAT and AmericanAirlines Arena. Through an innovative partnership, Marketing and Sales teams from Brightline and the HEAT are collaborating to create promotions and packages maximizing the in-person NBA experience for South Florida fans.
"There is nothing like seeing the world's best basketball players live paired with the exciting energy, sights and sounds of AmericanAirlines Arena," said Brightline CEO Dave Howard. "It is exciting to partner with one the NBA's most respected franchises. Traveling to and from HEAT games and events at the AmericanAirlines Arena will be much easier and more convenient for our guests than sitting in traffic trying to get to the game on time."
HEAT fans from the tri-county area will be able to use the new Brightline train service, boarding at the downtown West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale stations and disembarking at MiamiCentral, a short stroll to the AmericanAirlines Arena. Business outings to Miami HEAT games for Broward and Palm Beach County companies is even easier as well and additional Brightline package details will be shared as the service gets closer to launch.
Once onboard one of the five Brightline trains, fans can enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi in each train car, have a refreshing drink and arrive in plenty of time for tip-off. After the game, it is back on the train and seamlessly returning to downtown Fort Lauderdale within 30 minutes or West Palm Beach in an hour.
"Our partnership with Brightline will offer HEAT fans and AmericanAirlines Arena guests a new opportunity to get in and out of downtown Miami comfortably and in style," said Kim Stone, Executive Vice President of the Miami HEAT and General Manager of AmericanAirlines Arena. "With more people living, working and playing in downtown Miami, collaborating with Brightline to address the transportation needs of our guests is a huge step in the right direction."
BrightRed was built by employees at Siemens' 1,000-person, 60-acre rail manufacturing hub and is 100 percent Buy America compliant. Train components were manufactured by 40 different U.S. suppliers from more than 20 states. Having arrived at Workshop b, Brightline's 12-acre railroad operations facility in West Palm Beach, BrightRed will soon begin testing.
Each Brightline train is built as an integrated trainset, comprised of two diesel-electric locomotives and four high quality stainless-steel coaches. These clean diesel-electric locomotives will meet the highest emissions standards set by the federal government. The integration improves ride quality and makes for a quiet experience, while the bright yellow locomotive on each end offers high reliability and redundancy.
Brightline is committed to leading private investment toward transportation infrastructure benefiting the public. Brightline will provide a much-needed, hospitality-driven alternative to South Florida's congested roadways. Each train abounds with innovations and comfortable features including automatic level boarding, wide aisles exceeding ADA compliance, multiple power outlets for devices and free robust Wi-Fi, powered by multiple antennas in every car. The company is anticipating an official launch in 2017.
- posted 10/05)
FREIGHT RAILROAD REACH AGREEMENT WITH SIX UNIONS:
National Railway Labor Conference announced the nation's major freight railroads and a coalition of six unions have reached tentative agreement on new contracts covering wages, benefits and other issues. The agreements, covering 85,000 employees, are the first in the current round of bargaining, which began in 2015, and are subject to membership ratification.
The pacts with the following unions cover almost 60 percent of the 145,000 employees in this bargaining round:
"These agreements demonstrate the strength of the collective bargaining process when the parties are committed to doing the hard work of building voluntary consensus," said A. Kenneth Gradia, Chairman of the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC), the railroads' bargaining representative. "We are confident that these agreements will serve as the foundation for the successful resolution of the bargaining round."
Mr. Gradia thanked Linda Puchala, a Member of the National Mediation Board, and Eva Durham, a mediator with the Board, for their invaluable help.
The NCCC represents more than 30 railroads, including BNSF, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, in national bargaining with the rail unions.
For additional information, visit
(National Railway Labor Conference
- posted 10/05)
- American Train Dispatchers Association
- Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
- Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
- International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Forgers and Helpers
- National Conference of Firemen and Oilers
- International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers - Transportation Division including Yardmasters
CSX MONITORS TROPICAL STORM NATE:
CSX is taking precautions to protect employees, rail traffic and infrastructure as multiple weather agencies forecast a risk of Tropical Storm Nate making landfall as a hurricane on the U.S. Gulf Coast over the weekend. In anticipation of the storm system making landfall as a hurricane, the City of New Orleans is implementing safety measures to protect the city which may impact the ability to move rail traffic through the New Orleans gateway. Customers with shipments scheduled into the area through the weekend will experience delays.
At this time it is not known the level of impact the storm will have on CSX operations, but its path and intensity are being closely monitored as steps are taken to prepare for any potential landfall on the network. Updates will be provided as further storm developments become known.
- posted 10/05)
NS WATCHES TROPICAL STORM NATE:
With recent heavy rains and the anticipated impact from Tropical Storm Nate, the City of New Orleans has activated plans to prepare for flooding. Norfolk Southern is taking precautions by repositioning rail equipment away from the low lying areas. Traffic en route to New Orleans will be held at various yards throughout the Norfolk Southern system in an effort to alleviate congestion. Additionally, NS is issuing embargoes for traffic destined to the New Orleans area. Norfolk Southern continues to monitor the storm closely and efforts are underway to protect employees, track, and shipments.
- posted 10/05)
AMTRAK "READY TO BUILD" CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTS CRITICAL NEED FOR INTRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT:
Amtrak unveiled the "Ready To Build" campaign today, which includes a series of short films showcasing
five critical investments
that are vital to the realization of a renewed, modern passenger rail system.
The campaign emphasizes needed investments at our major stations, including in Chicago Union Station, as well as in infrastructure along the busy Northeast Corridor (NEC), where the majority of Amtrak-owned assets are located. The NEC carries 260 million intercity and commuter customers each year and growing. However, demand for passenger rail service continues to outpace investment, resulting in a backlog of more than $38 billion of deferred capital investments that risks future service expansion and reliability.
"The NEC is a central artery for the greater Northeast, which generates 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product and is one of the country's principle economic engines," said Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman. "These major projects are critical to keeping people, the economy and the nation moving forward."
Amtrak and its state and federal partners have started the planning and regulatory reviews required for these complex, multi-year projects. Once funding is identified and obtained, Amtrak and its partners are ready to finalize design and begin construction for the following critical investments:
Amtrak is the majority owner of the NEC infrastructure and its connecting corridors, the NEC is a shared trans¬portation asset that runs through eight states and the District of Columbia. It is used by Amtrak, eight commuter rail partners and multiple freight operators that together run nearly 2,200 daily trains.
To view the "Ready To Build" materials, visit
(Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/04)
- Hudson Tunnel Project (New York – New Jersey): Construction of a new Hudson River rail tunnel serving New York Penn Station will provide greater operational flexibility and infrastructure resiliency, following damage from Superstorm Sandy.
- Portal North Bridge Project (New Jersey): Replacement of the century-old Portal Bridge with a new high-level, fixed-span bridge will result in faster trip times and greater reliability as well as eliminate the need to open for maritime traffic.
- Major Stations Development (Northeast and Chicago): Leveraging public-private partnerships and underutilized land and air rights to transform 50+-year-old facilities into vibrant commercial transportation hubs.
- Susquehanna River Bridge Project (Maryland): Replacement of existing two-track bridge with two new high-level bridges with a total of four tracks, allowing for increased speeds and eliminating the need to open for maritime traffic.
- Baltimore & Potomac (B&P) Tunnel Project (Maryland): Replacement of the Civil War-era, 30 mph bottleneck with a four-tube tunnel that allows for more reliable and more frequent service.
AAR REPORTS RAIL TRAFFIC FOR SEPTEMBER AND THE WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2017:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 30, 2017, as well as volumes for September 2017.
U.S. railroads originated 1,044,563 carloads in September 2017, down 2.3 percent, or -24,106 carloads, from September 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,080,444 containers and trailers in September 2017, up 3.8 percent, or 39,482 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in September 2017 were 2,125,007, up 0.7 percent, or 15,376 carloads and intermodal units from September 2016.
In September 2017, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with September 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 8,845 carloads or 9.3 percent; primary metal products, up 3,877 carloads or 11.8 percent; and metallic ores, up 3,163 carloads or 13.6 percent. Commodities that saw declines in September 2017 from September 2016 included: grain, down 16,329 carloads or 16.7 percent; petroleum & petroleum products, down 7,267 carloads or 17.0 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 7,203 carloads or 9.8 percent.
“As our economy and population grow, consumer spending will grow too, and intermodal will continue to be the best way to get many goods to consumers,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “The last two weeks of September were the top two intermodal weeks in history for U.S. and Canadian railroads. We’re confident that the tremendous efforts railroads have been expending in recent years to improve service and enhance capacity will translate into continued intermodal gains.”
Excluding coal, carloads were down 21,257 carloads, or 3.0 percent, in September 2017 from September 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 4,928 carloads, or 0.8 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first nine months of 2017 was 10,106,660 carloads, up 3.8 percent, or 369,322 carloads, from the same period last year; and 10,432,552 intermodal units, up 3.5 percent, or 348,784 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 39 weeks of 2017 was 20,539,212 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to last year.
Week Ending September 30, 2017
For a second straight week, the U.S. set a new weekly record for intermodal rail traffic. Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 559,555 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending September 30 were 272,662 carloads, down 1.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 286,893 containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared to 2016.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 4,739 carloads, to 40,970; metallic ores and metals, up 1,387 carloads, to 23,956; and forest products, up 556 carloads, to 11,054. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 3,993 carloads, to 23,630; coal, down 3,781 carloads, to 88,150; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2,297 carloads, to 17,461.
North American rail volume for the week ending September 30, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 375,608 carloads, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 373,067 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 748,675 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 39 weeks of 2017 was 27,240,916 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.0 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 86,485 carloads for the week, up 2.2 percent, and 73,121 intermodal units, up 16.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016 making this the third consecutive record setting week for intermodal rail traffic in Canada.. For the first 39 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,639,672 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,461 carloads for the week, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,053 intermodal units, down 1.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 39 weeks of 2017 was 1,062,032 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 10/04)
GREENBRIER ANNOUNCES ORDERS FOR 3,900 RAILCARS:
The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. today announced new orders during its fourth quarter ended August 31, 2017 totaling 2,500 railcar units valued at $200 million. Subsequent to quarter end, orders for another 1,400 units were received, valued at $120 million. This signals a strong start to Greenbrier's fiscal 2018 and brings total orders received since May 31, 2017 to 3,900 units. Greenbrier also reported it expects to exceed previously announced diluted EPS guidance of $3.45 to $3.65 for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2017 (excluding expected moderate non-cash impairment charges related to Greenbrier's interest in GBW Railcar Services). Orders announced today comprise a broad range of railcar types including double-stack intermodal units, covered hoppers for carrying a variety of products, automotive-carrying railcars, and tank cars.
William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO said, "Order activity in the fourth quarter and early fiscal 2018 demonstrates the benefit of focusing on core North American business while we continue to gain traction internationally. More than 25% of orders announced today originated from markets outside North America. Greenbrier's strategy remains to sustain our foundational North American business while we simultaneously expand our international presence. This strategy is helping to significantly grow Greenbrier's global market opportunity, bringing greater balance through the peaks and valleys of the economic cycle."
Furman continued, "In fiscal 2017, Greenbrier received orders for over 16,500 railcars in North America, Europe and Brazil valued at $1.5 billion. The number and value of railcars ordered in fiscal 2017 was more than double fiscal 2016. This strong order activity contributed to our already diverse and high-quality backlog, providing visibility for fiscal 2018 and beyond. Our backlog, combined with the order activity in the first month of the fiscal year, gives us continued confidence in current operating expectations. While markets remain competitive, we expect EPS growth in fiscal 2018 to be driven by higher revenue and deliveries from domestic and foreign markets, broadening product lines, access to new global customers, and creative transactions like our recent multi-year agreement with Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance."
Greenbrier expects to announce fiscal 2017 earnings and provide additional fiscal 2018 guidance on Friday, October 27. Certain orders in this release are subject to customary documentation and completion of terms.
(Greenbrier, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/04)
MTA OFFERS YANKEE FANS A BLAST FROM THE PAST ON BOARD THE NOSTALGIA SPECIAL:
Fans choosing the smart way to travel to the Yankees wildcard playoff game tonight against the Minnesota Twins will get the chance to travel back in time by riding a vintage IRT train that first hit the rails a few years before the original stadium first opened its doors.
The “Nostalgia Special’s” rattan seats, ceiling fans and drop sash windows reflect back to an earlier age of subway travel. The train, originally operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) system, began service in 1917, serving customers for more than five decades before they were retired in the 1960s. Rolled out for the occasional special service assignment, the train serves as a splendid illustration of just how far rapid transit car design and technology has advanced over the past 100 years.
Game time tonight is 8:08pm. The four-car “Nostalgia Special” 4 Subway train is scheduled to leave 42nd Street-Grand Central at 7pm running non-stop to 161st Street-Yankee Stadium, arriving about 30 minutes after leaving Grand Central.
Additional service will be provided for the capacity crowds of more than 52,000 fans expected to attend the game. As a reminder, fans can always take the B SubwayD Subway or 4 Subway train to 161 St-Yankee Stadium (B Subway during rush hours only). After all games, trains are queued along the center track of the Jerome and Concourse Lines and then called into 161 St-Yankee Stadium and filled one by one until the last Manhattan-bound customers are on their way.
Yankee Stadium is also served by the SBS Bx 6, and the Bx6 and Bx13 local buses. The Bx1, Bx2, and BxM4 stop at 161st Street and the Grand Concourse, a short three-block walk to the stadium.
Metro-North Railroad will offer plenty of direct, fast and convenient "Train to the Game" service on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines as well as frequent shuttle service from Grand Central Terminal/Harlem-125th Street Stations. Post-game direct trains are timed to depart 20- to 45-minutes after the last out.
Customers who can’t make it aboard this vintage train, but still crave a bit of nostalgia can visit the New York Transit Museum, one of the city's leading cultural institutions and
the largest museum in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history. For more information on the museum, click .
(MTA- posted 10/03)
FIRST REFURBISHED SUBWAY CARS IN SERVICE ON THE E LINE:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that the first cars refurbished and reconfigured as part of Chairman Joseph Lhota’s Subway Action Plan are now in service on the e line. The R-160 cars are part of a 100-car pilot designed to increase the capacity and enhance the performance reliability of the subway car fleet. Each of the trainsets had the “master controllers” – which are responsible for the braking and acceleration of the trains – replaced. The master controllers were identified as one of the leading causes of failures on the R-160’s. Additionally, seats were removed at the ends of each of the cars to increase capacity and reduce the time it takes for passengers to get on and off the trains. The seat removal is expected to increase the capacity of each train by between 80 and 100 passengers.
“Providing a safe and reliable ride is what our customers demand and what the MTA is determined to deliver through our Subway Action Plan. We do not have time to waste when it comes to improving the customer experience and service for our riders,” said Joseph Lhota, MTA Chairman. “This pilot goes directly to the heart of that goal by attacking a significant cause of failures on these cars and making a fast, targeted improvement. We also know that getting more passengers onto trains, in a more efficient manner, is absolutely essential – which is why we’re piloting the removal of select number of seats.
The refurbished and reconfigured e trains also include:
The NYC Subway Action Plan is designed to stabilize and improve the subway system and lay the foundation for modernizing the New York City Subway. NYC Transit continues to move forward with plans to test a pilot program on other select lines, including the Times Square s shuttle and the l line, to remove seats to allow greater standing. Additionally, on lines where platforms are long enough to accommodate more cars, such as the Eighth Avenue c line, cars will be added to train sets to increase capacity.
(MTA- posted 10/03)
- Improved stanchions and hand rails to enhance customer comfort and safety.
- Display LCD screens in all cars to provide customers with better information.
- LED lighting to improve lighting and reduce energy consumption.
- Interior and exterior wrapping of the cars for customers to identify Pilot Trains, as well as car exterior indicators to identify the cars that have the modified seating arrangement.
STEAM RETURNS TO THE ALLENTOWN & AUBURN RAILROAD:
This coming weekend and the following weekend the Allentown & Auburn Railroad, located in Kutztown, Pa, will be running a steam locomotive. This is something that the railroad does once a year.
This year the A&A will be using Jeddo Coal Company #85, which belongs to Gramling Locomotive Works. It is the nation's most recently restored steam engine. The Gramling family has been restoring steam engines for several years and star in a series called "Have Steam Engine, Will Travel" on select PBS stations (you can find it on Youtube as well). The series chronicles the family's travels as they travel the country with their steamers. The bring their engines to different locations on modified flat bed trailers. It is a very unique sight, seeing a steam engine heading down the highway, and a fascinating process to watch when they unload.
The Gramlings will be arriving in Kutztown between 10 am and 12 pm on this Wednesday, October 4. The unloading site will be adjacent to the Kuztown Train Station (232 Railroad Street, Kutztown PA 19530)
We are the second stop on #85's inaugural tour. This is also the closest that this engine has been to it's original home in Hazleton PA for more than half a lifetime. For more information visit
http://allentownandauburnrr.com/events/ or http:www.facebook.com/allentownandauburnrailroad or phone (570) 778-7531.
(Lindsay B/Allentown & Auburn Railroad- posted 10/03)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN NAMES EHLERS CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER:
Norfolk Southern Corporation today announced that its board of directors has appointed Fredric M. Ehlers as chief information officer, effective immediately.
In this new role, Ehlers, a 32-year railroad veteran, will continue serving as vice president information technology, a position he has held since 2013. Ehlers, based in Atlanta, also will continue reporting to Cynthia C. Earhart, executive vice president finance and chief financial officer, who previously served as CIO.
“Fred has a strong track record of leadership, performance, and strategic thinking,” said Earhart. “He has been at the forefront of ongoing efforts to expand and enhance the company’s technology and digital capabilities, ranging from computer-based systems that optimize train operations to e-commerce tools that streamline customer interactions. Fred’s background and experience will be invaluable in his role as CIO as we continue to advance our use of technology to boost operating efficiencies, lower costs, and improve corporate performance.”
Ehlers joined Norfolk Southern in 1985 as a management trainee. He served in a number of transportation positions before being named assistant vice president in the executive office of the chairman in 2004. Since then, Ehlers has moved into positions of increasing responsibility, serving as vice president customer service and vice president network and service management before being named vice president information technology. Ehlers earned an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and an MBA from Queens College, Charlotte, N.C.
- posted 10/03)
CN POLICE SERVICES ENCOURAGES PARENTS AND TEACHERS TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF RAIL SAFETY:
As part of its ongoing commitment to rail safety, CN is encouraging parents and teachers to get involved in raising awareness with school-aged children about the importance of rail safety. This fall, CN police officers will be giving presentations in schools and community organizations, educating kids and parents about rail safety.
"Just as you would talk to your kids about crossing the street at the corner and waiting for a green light, we are inviting adults to take time this school year to talk to young people about being safe around railway tracks," said Stephen Covey, chief of police and chief security officer at CN. "Good habits start early and a short conversation can prevent a life from being cut short."
For information about how to talk to your children or their class about rail safety, please contact CN's Public Inquiry Line by calling 1-888-888-5909. A team member will provide you advice and educational material. CN Police community service officers are available to give presentations to school groups or at community events.
"Rail Safety is a shared responsibility and by working with parents and teachers, we can help keep our children safe and avoid preventable tragedies," Covey said.
- posted 10/03)
MBTA FY17 REPORT:
The MBTA continued to make significant progress in improving its fiscal health during FY17. Through active management of headcount, tightening of internal controls around the purchase of materials and services spending, taking advantage of lower interest rates, and other cost control initiatives, the Agency achieved the lowest core operating growth rate in 15 years—which resulted in a substantial reduction in the Agency's structural deficit compared to FY16.
"The new financial discipline our team has instilled within the organization has resulted in better management of costs and a reduction in the T’s structural deficit, which are major achievements," said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. "I want to commend the team for strengthening our fiscal foundation, which has the potential to create additional capacity for new outward-facing investments to our system that will directly affect our riders."
Successfully controlling core operating costs and reducing its debt service enabled the MBTA to reduce its structural deficit by 65 percent from an FY16 actual structural deficit of $86 million down to an actual FY17 structural deficit of $30 million. Driven by a Fiscal and Management Control Board-approved fare increase and one-time real estate transactions, total revenues increased $63 million in FY17. Core operating expenses for FY17 were $6 million less than FY16, reflecting lower fuel and energy costs and reduced materials and services expenses made possible through cost controls including: targeted contract management and renegotiation for services, utilities, and office and maintenance supplies.
"The results of this past fiscal year show major progress in controlling costs and reducing the structural deficit," said MBTA CFO and Chief Administrator Michael Abramo. "While we fully recognize we have more to do, it’s important to document this milestone as we take another significant step forward in improving the T’s financial footing and, ultimately, getting us closer to improving our business operations and enhancing the delivery of service."
Among the FY17 highlights:
(MBTA - posted 10/02)
- FY17 structural deficit was $30 million compared to budget of $80 million and $56 million below FY16 ?No significant service cuts
Key drivers: $23 million from cost control initiatives, $63 million of revenue expansion, and $15 million of lower debt service
- FY17 structural deficit 65 percent favorable to FY16 structural deficit of $86 million ?Compared with FY16, the MBTA reduced core operating expenses by 0.4 percent in FY17. Represented the lowest rate of MBTA core operating expense growth in more than 15 years
- Fare recovery ratio (percent of system operating expense covered by riders) increased from 41 percent in FY16 to 43 percent in FY17 ?Implemented Phase II and Phase III of Finance Plan in FY17
?Reduced debt burden and created capacity for future capital investment
- Authority completed its first competitive bond sale in twenty years ($218 million in Senior Sales Tax Bonds and $119 million in Assessment Bonds). Realized $160 million in future savings due to refinancing
- Active management of headcount: 717 separated employees and 323 new hires resulted in $35 million of net salary reduction in FY17 ?Reduction of approximately 300 heads due to Voluntary Retirement Incentive (i.e., employees already eligible to retire) and Voluntary Separation Plans)
- New Local 589 labor contract on December 19, 2016, saves $219 million over ten years ?Work rule modernization including overtime rules, bi-weekly pay, new hire wage rates, and annual wage increases
- Unit work contracted out to private companies including money room, warehouse, bus diversions, customer service agents, and janitorial services
- FY17 non- wage expenses lower than FY16 by $13.3 million ?Material and services decreased $19.8 million from FY16
FRA RELEASES GEORGIA-TENNESEE HIGH SPEED RAIL RECORD OF DECISION:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today released a Tier I combined Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision (FEIS/ROD) for the High-Speed Ground Transportation (HSGT) project that will ultimately connect Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The FEIS/ROD marks the completion of the Tier I environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and documents FRA’s identification of a preferred corridor.
“This project will benefit both Atlanta and Chattanooga with more efficient transportation, while also providing rail access to the rural communities in the region,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “This has been a long time in the making and represents a response to numerous transportation needs along the I-75 corridor.”
The HSGT project would run approximately 120 miles along Interstate 75 and provide a competitive and more reliable transportation choice for people traveling between Atlanta and Chattanooga. The chosen corridor includes eight rail stations and is estimated to take 88 minutes of travel time from the first to last station along the corridor. The route would begin on the east side of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA) at the proposed HJAIA/Southern Crescent Station and end at a proposed downtown Chattanooga station.
“This combined FEIS and ROD is a product of nine years’ work from FRA and its state partners,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Heath Hall. “The administration is working diligently to remove barriers, which slow down the environmental process so that people can get to work rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.”
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) studied the corridor as part of Georgia’s 1997 Intercity Rail Plan, which recommended further study – specifically with an emphasis on high-speed rail service. During the scoping process of the study, GDOT and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) identified 15 unique corridors between Atlanta and Chattanooga. GDOT and TDOT then subjected those corridors to a screening process and ultimately narrowed down three corridors for the FEIS.
The FEIS/ROD provides information on train technology, maximum operating speeds and station location options. However, decisions on these issues, as well as the exact alignment within the preferred corridor, will be part of a Tier II NEPA study, if additional funding is secured.
For more information on the HSGT project, visit FRA’s
Atlanta – Chattanooga High-Speed Ground Transportation Page.
(FRA- posted 9/29)
MTA LAUNCHES NEW CUSTOMER-FOCUSED SUBWAY PERFORMANCE DASHBOARD PROVIDING METROCS SURPASSING GLOBAL STANDARDS FOR TRANSIT SYSTEMS:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today launched a new online dashboard providing customer-focused, detailed performance metrics across the subway system as part of New York City Transit’s Subway Action Plan to improve service and make communication more clear and transparent for the millions of customers who travel on the subways daily.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota announced the creation of a new subway performance metrics dashboard for the riding public in July 2017, when he unveiled the multi-phase Subway Action Plan to stabilize the century-old subway system. The new performance dashboard provides more data than ever in a dynamic, user-friendly interface that shows analytical information such as customer wait times, subway car performance, station environment standards, from a computer at any time.
In developing the new metrics dashboard in-house, New York City Transit reviewed global standards for publicly reported performance data and opted to surpass those standards in the interest of increased transparency. While many transit systems around the world continue to report performance based on antiquated metrics that apply to freight and commuter railroads such as terminal on-time performance, New York City Transit’s new performance dashboard provides data that paints a clearer picture of the customer’s commuting experience down to the subway line or the class of cars used on a subway line. Other transit systems, such as Transport for London, publicly report data such as journey times based on computer models. NYC Transit uses data culled from actual MetroCard entries and actual operations data to provide meaningful analyses of travel times and customer experiences.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said: “We have been working hard to implement our new Subway Action Plan by increasing maintenance and adding crews to respond quickly to emergencies that can severely affect service. We have been able to respond to those problems quicker than ever, sometimes restoring service in half the time or less than we could have done just a few years ago, and even though the plan has only been in effect for two months we are already seeing results. With this new subway performance dashboard, we are continuing to hold ourselves accountable to the promises we made in July by letting our customers see for themselves when and where those improvements are happening. These new standards that we are reporting go above and beyond what other transit systems in the world tell their customers. Our new performance metrics show how serious we are about regaining our subway customers’ trust and how determined we are to make improvements that will stick around for years, not just for a month or two.”
Metrics such as train capacity, customer wait time, train travel time and station environment altogether show the entirety of the customers’ experience from their home subway station, on the platform, traveling on the train, all the way to their final destination. Information on the new performance metrics are outlined below:
Andrew Albert, New York City Transit Riders Council chairman and MTA Board member, said: “The new subway performance dashboard is another step in the right direction toward improving communication with subway customers. The new announcements at subway stations and in trains by the conductors have helped enormously with providing real-time service information to customers, and these new performance metrics help fill in the blanks when it comes to looking at subway service as a whole. I look forward to seeing even more transparency and improvements for customers as New York City Transit moves forward on other parts of the Subway Action Plan.”
Alex Barron, head of Metro Benchmarking and Associate Director at the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College, said: “The MTA’s new metrics are a significant step forward improving the way they measure and monitor subway service from the customer point of view. They are in line with the best measures in use across the globe, and the MTA should be commended for finding ways to use new technology and data sources to better measure the customer experience. Based on our experience working with the global Community of Metros (CoMET), we believe that these metrics should be adopted.”
Tabitha Decker, NYC Program Director of TransitCenter, said: “By adopting the ‘Additional Platform Time’ and ‘Additional Train Time’ performance metrics as part of its new dashboard, the MTA has set a new global standard for measuring subway reliability and transparently reporting its performance. This new dashboard provides a strong foundation for improved performance-based management and public accountability.”
(MTA- posted 9/28)
This new metric shows the number of incidents each month that delay 50 or more trains, impacting the largest number of customers. Data is displayed by clicking on one or more subway lines, with the total number of incidents reflected by month in one chart and a breakdown of these incidents by cause in a separate bar graph below. Causes are broken down by six categories: track (fires, rail conditions, switch troubles, etc.), signals (equipment or transmissions problems), customer activity resulting in police/medical response (sick customers, crimes or other police investigations), stations & structures (issues with infrastructure such as debris on the right of way, loss of power outside the subway car), car equipment (defective or mechanical subway car issues, including air conditioning failures), and other (power outage, weather, flooding, conditions outside of the system such as bridge openings or nearby unstable buildings).
Also displayed by subway line, this new service delivered metric shows the percentage of trains that are able to provide service to the estimated peak number of customers during the morning and evening rush hours. Factors that can decrease scheduled service include trains being rerouted onto alternate lines or delays that push trains scheduled for rush-hour service to operate past those hours.
CUSTOMER WAIT TIME
Provided by subway line, this new performance indicator measures the time that a customer waits for a train compared to the amount of time that a customer should wait according to a train schedule. This new metric, called Additional Platform Time, was pioneered by Transport for London using computer models to account for the customer’s experience. New York City Transit’s data comes from train arrival data from countdown clocks and ridership based on actual MetroCard entries, therefore reflecting decisions made by real customers that choose one line over another at stations served by multiple subway lines or situations such as crowding that could prevent a customer from boarding a train that the person would normally take. This metric provides a better idea of the performance of a subway line from a customer’s prospective, since it reflects the amount of time a customer waits for a train to arrive at the station.
TRAIN TRAVEL TIME
A train’s travel time is measured as the average amount of time a customer’s journey is lengthened compared to the train’s travel time as scheduled. This new performance indicator is based on actual customer data from MetroCard entries and train arrival information in stations from real-time train tracking technology.
The mechanical performance of subway cars is measured by the mean distance between failures (MDBF), in miles. Failures are categorized as such when a car-related problem causes a service delay over 5 minutes. Issues include doors failing to close properly, brake issues or failure of indication lights that alert train crews to potential safety issues. Numbers are reported as a 12-month average. While New York City Transit has regularly reported MDBF numbers, for the first time the performance dashboard dissects the data by subway car class and subway line as well as providing data for the subway fleet as a whole. Other transit systems only report mean distance between service failure (MDBSF) when a problem results in the train being taken out of service.
Subway stations are inspected regularly to ensure that the physical appearance, equipment and public information of the stations meet NYC Transit standards. These standards focus on station cleanliness, ensure that fare card machines and turnstiles work properly, and that service information such as maps and service changes are posted and updated. This metric also includes data on the system’s elevators and escalators, which are electronically monitored around the clock. Elevators and escalators that are managed by outside parties, such as private building developers, are inspected by NYC Transit every 8 hours.
To ensure continued transparency, NYC Transit is reporting data for legacy indicators such as wait assessment and terminal on-time performance on the new performance dashboard. Wait assessment is measured as the time between arriving trains compared to scheduled service, and does not account for extra service or distinguish between minor service gaps and major service delays. Terminal on-time performance refers to the percentage of trains that meet their scheduled arrival times at their terminals within five minutes of those arrival times, although few subway customers travel entire subway lines from end to end. While these measures are not considered relevant indicators of customer experience, NYC Transit is continuing to collect this data for historical comparisons and continuity.
SEPTA IMPROVEMENT PROJECT TO UPGRADE REGIONAL RAILROAD:
Beginning, October 1, SEPTA in-house forces will perform work as part of an infrastructure improvement project that will focus on upgrades to the overhead wire and tracks between Fern Rock Transportation Center and Glenside Regional Rail Station. The work will take place over three consecutive Sundays, October 1, 8 and 15.
During construction, adjustments to train schedules will be in effect on the Lansdale/Doylestown, Warminster and West Trenton Regional Rail Lines. Customers should refer to supplemental timetables for specific service information. Schedules are available for download at
Signage posted at stations will direct passengers to shuttle bus boarding locations.
Passengers can visit
to view changes to their train lines. Riders can also contact SEPTA Customer Service representatives at (215) 580-7800.
(SEPTA - posted 9/28)
Trains between Airport Terminals and Fern Rock Transportation Center will operate at regularly scheduled times.
Customers traveling to Glenside and Warminster Stations from the airport should transfer to shuttle buses at Fern Rock Transportation Center to complete their northbound trips. At Fern Rock Transportation Center, customers should transfer from trains to the Glenside shuttle bus for local service to Melrose Park, Elkins Park, Jenkintown-Wyncote and Glenside stations. At Fern Rock Transportation Center, customers should transfer to a Warminster shuttle bus for express service to Jenkintown-Wyncote and local service to Warminster.
Inbound customers traveling from Glenside, Jenkintown-Wyncote, Elkins Park and Melrose Park stations toward Airport terminals should take a Glenside shuttle bus for service to Fern Rock Transportation Center. At Fern Rock, customers should transfer from shuttle buses to Airport Line trains.
Customers traveling inbound toward Center City will board trains 30 minutes earlier than regularly scheduled. At Glenside, customers should transfer from trains to shuttle buses for service to Fern Rock Transportation Center. After departing from Glenside Station, the shuttle buses will stop at Jenkintown-Wyncote, Elkins Park and Melrose Park stations before arriving at Fern Rock Transportation Center where customers will transfer to trains for continued service into Center City.
Customers traveling outbound towards Doylestown will take regularly scheduled trains to Fern Rock Transportation Center where they will transfer to Glenside shuttle buses. After departing from Fern Rock, Glenside buses will make stops at Melrose Park, Elkins Park, Jenkintown-Wyncote and Glenside Stations. At Glenside Station, customers should transfer to trains for continued service toward Lansdale/Doylestown.
As an alternate, inbound customers can take Broad Street Line trains at Fern Rock Transportation Center to Center City, or, outbound customers may take the Broad Street Line from Center City to Fern Rock Transportation Center.
Shuttle buses will replace all train service between Warminster and Fern Rock Transportation Center. Buses will make all stops between Warminster and Jenkintown-Wyncote stations before expressing to Fern Rock Transportation Center where customers can transfer to trains to complete their inbound trips into Center City.
For continued service to Airport terminals, customers should transfer to regularly scheduled Airport Line trains at Fern Rock Transportation Center.
There will be no Warminster Regional Rail Line service at Elkins Park, or Melrose Park stations. As an alternate, customers can take Glenside shuttle buses for service to these stations and Center City.
Customers traveling outbound towards Warminster should transfer from trains to shuttle buses at Fern Rock Transportation Center. After departing from Fern Rock, buses will operate express service to Jenkintown-Wyncote and Glenside stations before operating local service to Warminster. Customers can also take Broad Street Line trains to Fern Rock Transportation Center.
Trains traveling inbound towards Center City will depart later than regularly scheduled and travel as far as Noble Station where customers will transfer from trains to shuttle buses. After departing from Noble Station, buses will make stops at Jenkintown-Wyncote and Fern Rock Transportation Center. At Fern Rock, customers will transfer to trains to complete their inbound trips into Center City.
Customers traveling outbound to West Trenton will take trains to Fern Rock Transportation Center where they will transfer to shuttle buses for service to Jenkintown-Wyncote and Noble Stations. At Noble Station, outbound customers should transfer to trains for continued service toward West Trenton.
JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR OF SARANAC-LAKE PLACID RAIL LINE:
Last year the state finalized a plan to replace the 34 miles of railroad between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid
with a trail for biking, snowmobiling and other recreation, and to rehabilitate 45 miles of track to let trains proceed
as far north as Tupper Lake. ARPS sued over the plan last year, but the state proceeded making plans for the trail and
did not permit ASR to operate trains on the Tri-Lakes tracks this year. It also did not permit Rail Explorers to operate
rail car rides out of Saranac Lake, as that company had for two years.
New York Supreme Court Justice Robert Main Jr. has ruled in favor of Adirondack Railway Preservation Society lawsuit
against the New York State's plan to replace the railroad with a multi-use trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.
The Justice found that New York’s decision to remove the tracks was arbitrary and capricious.
This was argued by ARPS, which does business as the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.
The judge found that removing railroad infrastructure to construct a trail would
effectively remove Segment 2 from Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor designation; therefore,
such a use could not be allowed in a unit management plan for the travel corridor.
(Adirondack Daily Enterprise via Richard Palmer
- posted 9/27)
FIFTH BRIGHTLINE TRAINSET TRAVELING CROSS COUNTRY TO SOUTH FLORIDA:
Brightline, the new privately funded express inter-city passenger rail service in Florida, will soon take delivery of its fifth trainset, BrightRed, from Siemens USA in Sacramento. Fabrication of the trainset was recently completed, and it is now on its way to South Florida traveling 3,052 miles via rail across eight states. The transcontinental journey is a milestone as it marks delivery of the final trainset for Brightline's Phase 1 service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The train was built by employees at Siemens' 1,000-person, 60-acre rail manufacturing hub and is 100 percent Buy America compliant. Train components were manufactured by 40 different U.S. suppliers from more than 20 states. Upon arrival at Workshop b, Brightline's 12-acre railroad operations facility in West Palm Beach, BrightRed will soon begin the testing and commissioning processAdirondack Daily Enterprise via Richard Palmer
"The voyage of BrightRed across the U.S. is an exciting milestone as we gear up to launch service later this year," said Brightline CEO Dave Howard. "The five trainsets represent thousands of hours of dedication from the Brightline teammates who designed and oversaw the assembly to the 1,000 people who built them in California and the 40 suppliers throughout the country that manufactured components."
Brightline's trains are built as integrated trainsets, comprised of two diesel-electric locomotives and four high quality stainless-steel coaches. These clean diesel-electric locomotives will meet the highest emissions standards set by the federal government. The integration improves ride quality and makes for a quiet experience, while the bright yellow locomotive on each end offers high reliability and redundancy.
"It is an exciting honor for Siemens to build trainsets with such historical significance, serving the first privately-funded rail system in over 100 years," said Siemens Rolling Stock President Michael Cahill. "I salute the Brightline team for their innovative and courageous approach and I am proud of the team of highly skilled employees in Sacramento and the suppliers across the nation for their significant contributions to this great American manufacturing success story."
Brightline's trains abound with innovations and comfortable features, from automatic level boarding platforms and aisles that exceed ADA compliance standards to comfortable leather seats with multiple outlets for devices and complimentary robust Wi-Fi, powered by multiple antennas on every car. The interiors were designed by David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, one of the world's leading architecture and design firms.
Brightline is committed to leading private investment toward transportation infrastructure benefiting the public. Brightline will provide a much-needed, hospitality-driven alternative to South Florida's congested roadways. The company is anticipating an official launch of its service later this year.
- posted 9/27)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDNG SEPTEMBER 23, 2017:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 23, 2017, which set a new record for intermodal traffic in both the U.S. and Canada.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 548,204 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending September 23 were 263,200 carloads, down 2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 285,004 containers and trailers, up 5.1 percent compared to 2016.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,166 carloads, to 40,718; metallic ores and metals, up 2,528 carloads, to 25,392; and chemicals, up 487 carloads, to 30,669. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 5,517 carloads, to 19,612; coal, down 3,120 carloads, to 84,389; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,189 carloads, to 9,188.
For the first 38 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,833,998 carloads, up 4 percent from the same point last year; and 10,145,659 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 38 weeks of 2017 was 19,979,657 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending September 23, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 360,341 carloads, down 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 370,902 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 731,243 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 38 weeks of 2017 was 26,492,241 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 81,470 carloads for the week, up 1.2 percent, and 73,056 intermodal units, up 18.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 38 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,480,066 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,671 carloads for the week, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,842 intermodal units, down 2.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 38 weeks of 2017 was 1,032,518 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 9/27)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN APPOINTMENTS:
Norfolk Southern Corporation today announced that its board of directors has elected William A. Galanko and John M. Scheib to new positions of responsibility, effective Oct. 1.
The board named Galanko executive vice president law and administration, and Scheib senior vice president law and corporate relations. In his new position, Scheib will have responsibility for law, government relations, and corporate communications, and will report to Galanko. As executive vice president law and administration, Galanko will have responsibility for human resources and labor relations, in addition to the areas reporting to Scheib.
CEO James A. Squires noted, “These appointments are components of an ongoing plan to ensure that Norfolk Southern is well-represented in all facets of our business, bringing value to our shareholders, superior service to our customers, and strong relationships with all of our partners.”
Galanko joined NS in 1990 as a tax attorney. He was named vice president taxation in 1999, vice president financial planning in 2005, vice president law in 2006, and senior vice president law and corporate communications in 2016. Galanko holds an undergraduate degree from West Virginia University and law degrees from the College of William and Mary and Georgetown University.
Scheib joined NS in 2005 as general attorney and held positions of increasing responsibility in the NS law department, culminating in vice president law in 2016. Prior to joining NS, Scheib served as chief of staff and counsel to the chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and as counsel to the railroad subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Scheib holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Villanova University. In 2015, he completed the General Management Program at Harvard Business School.
“Today’s announcement underscores the depth and breadth of skill in Norfolk Southern’s team,” Squires said. ”Shareholders, customers, and communities will continue to benefit from Bill’s and John’s efforts, and I look forward to working with them in their new roles.”
- posted 9/26)
AMTRAK CHICAGO UNION STATION GREAT HALL WORK UNDERWAY:
In about a year, customers of Amtrak, Metra and other users of Chicago Union Station will enjoy a Great Hall painted in its original colors, made brighter by a restored and protected skylight with improved lighting in a $22 million project.
The work, now underway and self-funded by Amtrak, is designed by architect Goettsch Partners (GP) and contractor Berglund Construction to minimize disruption to the flow of people through the station, which is the fourth busiest in the national Amtrak network. The construction team devised a creative solution to maintain access to the Great Hall by using a suspended working deck and swing stages, in lieu of much scaffolding, to allow customers to move freely below.
A crane erected on Clinton Street is being used to move materials through the building and above the Great Hall. The painting and plaster repairs have been divided into phases, to further provide full customer access to the Great Hall during the repairs.
The Great Hall at Chicago Union Station, completed in 1925, was designed by Daniel Burnham and successor firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. The centerpiece of the Great Hall is a 219-foot-long skylight that soars 115 feet above the floor. Over the decades, it has deteriorated due to water damage and flaws within the original design.
Working with Amtrak, a team from GP, Klein & Hoffman and Environmental Systems Design completed an extensive investigation of the space within the Great Hall to determine the extent of repairs needed while respecting the historic nature of the building. The investigation concluded the original barrel-vaulted skylight was not designed to adequately keep water out and no longer met current codes, so an extensive upgrade was necessary.
In order to maintain the historic appearance of the skylight from within the Great Hall and to overcome the complications of the existing drainage system, the team will construct a modern energy-efficient, skylight above the historic skylight. The new skylight will protect the historic skylight with a new drainage design and maintenance system.
When finished, natural light into the Great Hall is expected to increase by about 50 percent by replacing the 2,052 pieces of glass in frames that had been made bigger over the years in a failed effort to prevent leaks in the historic skylight. The panes will be transparent, rather than the wire-embedded glass that was used previously. The new skylight will have 858 panes of clear, high-efficiency glass, five feet above the historic skylight.
Once the skylight and roof work has been completed, ensuring that the Great Hall will remain dry, the historic skylight – along with water-damaged plaster and stone – will be restored. The finishes will include the return of the historic paint colors to the walls and ceiling.
While the work is performed, customers will notice less light in the Great Hall because of the suspended deck and scaffolding erected in the areas around the room, including the balconies, grand staircases and the passage between the Great Hall and the Station Concourse.
As Berglund goes forward, it will work with the ACE Mentor Affiliate of Chicago, which has a 14-year partnership with Chicago public high schools and a special focus on recruiting minority and female students. These groups are significantly under-represented in the construction and design industry and in professional occupations overall.
The plan, approved by local and state historic preservation agencies, is to complete the project by late 2018. A video describing the project can be found here
and a gallery of images from the design and early construction phases can be
- posted 9/25)
AMTRAK, OPERATION LIFESAVER AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES PARTNER FOR OPERATION CLEAR TRACK:
Amtrak and Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) kicked off U.S. Rail Safety Week today and announced a new collaborative rail safety effort designed to save lives by alerting the public to the dangers of being inattentive at rail grade crossings and along the railroad right-of-way.
As part of the week-long observance, Amtrak Police and OLI will mobilize Operation Clear Track, the largest simultaneous railroad safety law enforcement operation ever attempted in the United States, involving more than 200 police or sheriff’s departments across the lower 48 states.
The one-day operation will take place during three hours on Tuesday, Sept. 26, starting at 10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. CT, 8 a.m. MT, and 7 a.m. PT. During the operation, local, state, federal and railroad law enforcement officials will be stationed at each state’s high incident grade crossings based on preliminary data from the Federal Railroad Administration. Once on-site, officers will enforce their grade crossing laws and issue warnings and citations to violators. Law enforcement personnel will also distribute more than 240,000 railroad safety cards to motorists and pedestrians at those crossings.
“It’s critical that citizens in every corner of the country fully understand the dangers and consequences of trespassing on railroad property,” Amtrak Police Chief Neil Trugman said. “By mobilizing our forces, we hope to raise awareness, save lives and prevent injuries along the railroad rights-of-way from coast to coast.”
According to OLI, a national rail safety education nonprofit organization, each year approximately 2,000 people are killed or injured in grade crossing and trespassing incidents nationwide. Every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train.
“We are proud to partner with our local law enforcement agencies to raise public awareness about using caution near train tracks, and never using the tracks as a shortcut,” Operation Lifesaver President and CEO Bonnie Murphy said. “While crossing collisions have dropped 83 percent since the first Operation Lifesaver program was started 45 years ago, this unprecedented enforcement and education event will further our mission to eliminate these preventable tragedies.”
Operation Clear Track is one of several events scheduled during U.S. Rail Safety Week now through Sept. 30. For more information on railroad safety visit
- posted 9/25)
CN ENCOURAGES PUBLICS TO BE SAFE AROUND RAILROADS FOR THE FIRST NATIONAL RAIL SAFETY WEEK IN THE U.S.:
As part of its year-round effort to save lives, CN is pleased to participate in the first U.S. National Rail Safety Week, a week long series of events aimed at raising awareness and promoting safe behaviour around railroads.
Last year, in the United States, 2,025 rail grade crossing collisions resulted in 798 personal injuries and were responsible for 265 fatalities. During that same period, 994 trespassing incidents occurred resulting in 483 pedestrians being injured and 511 killed while trespassing on the railroad property rights-of-way.
"Too many people die while trespassing on railway property and those fatalities are entirely preventable," said Stephen Covey, Chief of police and Chief Security officer at CN. "These tragedies can be avoided by staying off railway tracks and by simply obeying crossing signals."
During Rail Safety Week, CN Police Service (CNPS) will be out in communities raising awareness of the potentially devastating consequences of trespassing on railway tracks and disregarding railway safety signs and devices at level crossings.
CN Police officers will have custom virtual reality viewers to demonstrate 360° rail safety videos to the public. Visitors to CN's Rail Safety Pledge website can view the videos on a desktop, laptop or mobile device, and visitors with access to any Google Cardboard viewer can experience this immersive virtual reality environment.
CN is encouraging the public to take the Rail Safety Pledge online which they can easily share with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
The Rail Safety Pledge asks people to share rail safety tips in their community, talk about rail safety at their local schools, or report unsafe behaviour around trains or railway property.
"Rail safety is everyone's responsibility," said Covey. "By looking out for each other and working together, we can help keep our communities safe and prevent fatalities and injuries on or near railway property. Together we can save lives and help bring crossing and trespassing accidents down to zero."
Get rail safety tips, take the Rail Safety Pledge, and live the 360° rail safety experience on your computer or mobile device at:
CN has been promoting railway safety for more than 25 years through its All Aboard for Safety community education program. Every year, CN employees make hundreds of All Aboard for Safety presentations and talk to more than 300,000 children and adults at schools and community events in Canada and the United States about the importance of safety and the dangers of walking or playing on or near railway tracks.
- posted 9/25)
CP MARKS FIRST U.S. RAIL SAFETY WEEK WITH A PLEA TO THE PUBLIC:
BE SAFE AROUND THE TRACKS:
Canadian Pacific will be reaching out to the public during this first national U.S. Rail Safety Week with a simple, critically important message: Please be safe around the railroad tracks. Trains can't stop quickly, so it's up to motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists to follow the law and keep themselves safe.
"Over the past year, far too many Americans took unnecessary risks around the tracks, and tragically, many paid with their lives," said Ken Marchant, Chief of Canadian Pacific Police Service. "These incidents are tragic but preventable. We must all work together to save lives by reminding our friends and family not to take such unnecessary risks."
Federal Railroad Administration statistics show more than 2,000 grade-crossing collisions occurred last year, resulting in 145 fatalities. Additionally, 980 incidents between trains and trespassers claimed 491 lives. On average, a person is struck by a train every 3 hours. Since trains can't stop quickly, the law has been clearly established: It's up to motorists to yield right-of-way at crossings, and it's up to pedestrians not to trespass on railroad lines.
CP this week will participate in enforcement and public awareness events in New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota. Outreach efforts include presentations to students, speaking to patrons of businesses close to tracks, enforcement efforts at grade crossings, and media events. CP will be working in collaboration with Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national organization with chapters across the country focused on education and outreach on this important issue.
"Operation Lifesaver proudly stands with CP and the entire railroad industry in sharing a message of safety during U.S. Rail Safety Week," said Operation Lifesaver President and CEO Bonnie Murphy. "Together, we work toward eliminating tragic incidents on the tracks."
(CP, Randy Kotuby
- posted 9/25)
MBTA WOLLASTON STATION IMPROVEMENT PROJECT MOVES FORWARD:
The MBTA is moving forward with the Wollaston Station Improvements Project with the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board earlier this summer having approved the beginning of new construction at this Red Line station.
Major accessibility improvements, state-of-the-art safety features, and additional parking are some of the improvements to be made during the project renovating Wollaston Station. Currently the only non ADA-accessible station on the Red Line, Wollaston will be transformed into a modern, fully accessible facility, making the entirety of the Red Line 100-percent accessible. New features and upgrades to the station include brand new elevators, additional customer paths, upgraded stairways, new bathrooms, and additional lighting. New electrical, fire protection, security, flooding mitigation, and site utility upgrades will also occur to support the accessible improvements. The estimated construction value of the Wollaston Station Improvements is $33 million.
The MBTA has already committed $911 million to Red Line South Side projects, including 252 new Red Line cars that will begin full revenue service in November 2019. The renovations at Wollaston Station are a major part of a series of signal, rail, and other infrastructure upgrades along the Red Line.
With customers’ safety a top priority and to complete the project on time, Wollaston Station will temporarily close for approximately twenty months beginning in late December 2017 with an anticipated re-opening in August 2019. Red Line trains will bypass Wollaston Station during the closure with dedicated bus service between Wollaston and North Quincy Stations. Previous MBTA successes in renovation construction with station shutdowns include Government Center, Orient Heights, and Science Park Stations.
In addition, to support the most efficient completion of the project, beginning in mid-November 2017, weeknight Red Line service along the Braintree Branch after 9 p.m. will be replaced with shuttle buses. It is also anticipated that, beginning in January 2018, Saturday and Sunday Red Line service between North Quincy and Braintree Stations will also be replaced with shuttle buses during eighteen weekends over the course of approximately twenty-four months.
Demolition work at the Quincy Center Station Garage, which was closed in July 2012 due to structural concerns, is also scheduled to begin in early 2018. As part of the work at Quincy Center Station, the existing elevator will be completely replaced and an accessible entrance at Burgin Parkway will be added. Construction of the project will occur through December 2018 for a construction value of $13 million. The station will remain open and fully functional during construction.
Additional Red Line South Side upgrades are also planned at the Braintree and Quincy Adams parking garages. Renovations to the garages at these stations will bring the facilities to a state of good repair with an anticipated useful life of forty years, improve accessibility, and provide for more efficient and improved parking layout. Included are structural repairs, replaced drainage systems, upgraded fire alarm, CCTV, electrical, and emergency power systems, and full replacement of lighting systems. Accessibility upgrades include two new elevators at Braintree Garage as well as improvements to both garages in wayfinding signage and better traffic circulation for accessibility vehicles, wheelchair access, and pedestrian movement. Construction of both garages is anticipated to begin in early 2018 with an estimated construction contract value of $90 million. Both garages will remain in service during the construction period.
- posted 9/22)
CSX RAPIDLY RESTORES SERVICE FOLLOWING HURRICANE IRMA:
CSX rapidly restored service throughout the areas affected by Hurricane Irma and continues to show improvement on key service metrics as the railroad advances its implementation of Precision Scheduled Railroading.
CSX President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison today said, “I’m extraordinarily proud of our team of dedicated railroaders, who worked tirelessly to prepare for and respond to the impacts of Hurricane Irma. Thanks to the dedication of these individuals, CSX was able to quickly and safely restore service to its customers, while continuing to make progress in the transition to our new operating model.”
Following Hurricane Irma, which struck Florida on Sunday, Sept. 10, with devastating winds and flooding, CSX re-established rail service in most of the southeast U.S. within hours, into and out of northern Florida within 24 hours, and throughout the vast majority of the state within one week. Restoring service required clearing nearly 8,000 fallen trees from obstructed tracks and deploying hundreds of generators to operate railroad signals and crossings in response to widespread commercial power outages. Prior to the storm, CSX evacuated more than 1,500 rail cars from the State of Florida, and held nearly 200 trains and thousands of cars to avoid damage from the hurricane.
Despite the impacts of Irma, key service metrics show that CSX’s operational performance continues to improve. Terminal dwell times have decreased for seven consecutive weeks, while train velocity has steadily increased over the last four weeks, excluding localized hurricane impacts.
“We’re back on our feet and committed to fully implementing our new operating model,” Harrison said. “We remain confident that Precision Scheduled Railroading will provide lasting benefits to our customers, our employees and our shareholders.”
In addition to restoring rail operations, CSX also has been active in helping communities and individuals recover from the impacts of Hurricane Irma through charitable contributions and in-kind donations to local, state and national relief agencies. Among them, CSX has contributed $100,000 and up to $50,000 in in-kind transportation services to Feeding Florida, to provide food and supplies to residents of the state affected by the recent storm. CSX also has worked with the State of Florida to expedite critical shipments of propane, animal feed and other commodities essential for residents of the peninsula.
“CSX is committed to the wellbeing of the communities in which we operate,” said Harrison. “We are honored to partner with Feeding Florida to support Irma relief efforts throughout the state.”
- posted 9/21)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN FOUNDATION SUPPORTS HURRICANE IRMA RECOVERY EFFORTS:
The Norfolk Southern Foundation is donating $100,000 and will match certain Norfolk Southern employee gifts as part of efforts to help people recover from Hurricane Irma.
The Foundation, Norfolk Southern’s charitable giving arm, will give $50,000 to the American Red Cross and $25,000 each to the Feeding Tampa Bay and Feeding South Florida food banks. The Foundation will match employee donations for relief efforts made to the American Red Cross and Feeding America food banks, including members Feeding Tampa Bay and Feeding South Florida.
About 200 Norfolk Southern employees live and work in Florida. Norfolk Southern is making interest-free loans of up to $10,000 to employees in Florida and elsewhere who sustained damage to their primary residences or loss of household property caused by severe storms and flooding associated with Irma.
The Norfolk Southern Foundation earlier this month donated $50,000 each to the American Red Cross and Houston Food Bank to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts.
- posted 9/21)
NJ TRANSIT IMPLEMENTS NEW RAIL SAFETY UPGRADES IN PAST YEAR:
NJ TRANSIT has implemented a variety of rail safety upgrades over the past year and is looking at additional enhancements for the future, as part of its commitment to safety.
Rail Operations is currently in the process of replacing all stub end tracks at Hoboken Terminal with new sliding friction bumper blocks as well as advancing a speed control system for trains entering Hoboken Terminal. Other initiatives this past year include enhanced sleep apnea screening and testing, adding additional personnel to the front of trains entering certain stations and reducing speed limits.
“As we approach the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident at Hoboken Terminal, and while the cause has not been identified, NJ TRANSIT continues taking immediate actions to better protect our customers, our employees and the public,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steve Santoro. “The steps we’ve taken so far are moving us in the right direction and we continually raise the bar higher each and every day. Safety is a demand that I will not compromise or negotiate on.”
NJ TRANSIT hired an outside contractor to conduct a detailed inspection of all of the bumper blocks in Hoboken Terminal, and to provide a recommendation for the type of bumper block to replace the damage block on Track 5.
As a result, a decision was made to replace all of the bumper blocks with sliding friction bumper blocks at Hoboken Terminal, the Atlantic City Rail Terminal and the Meadowlands Rail Station – all stub end stations.
In addition, NJ TRANSIT is also advancing the speed control system for trains approaching the end of the platform at Hoboken Terminal.
Over the course of the past year, NJ TRANSIT has implemented the following safety initiatives.
- posted 9/21)
- In October 2016, NJ TRANSIT implemented an interim measure where any safety sensitive rail employee who exhibits any indication of potential fatigue symptoms is immediately removed from service until they obtain the appropriate documentation attesting to the satisfactory results or the condition is not present. This initiative was formalized as policy in April 2017.
- To date, 350 of 370 engineers and nearly a third of more than a thousand conductors have been screened for sleep apnea. By the end of September, all locomotive engineers will be screened for sleep apnea.
- NJ TRANSIT has advanced the installation of forward and inward facing cameras on trains. To date, nearly 84% of trains now have forward facing cameras and more than 73% of the rail fleet has inward facing cameras, which are focused on the engineer’s actions. NJ TRANSIT expects to have both cameras in the entire fleet by year’s end.
- Rail Operations implemented a new initiative which requires the conductor to ride in the front cab of trains, along with the engineer, when entering terminals in Hoboken, Penn Station New York, Atlantic City, Princeton, Gladstone and the Meadowlands station.
- Speed limits entering Hoboken, Atlantic City, Princeton and the Meadowlands Rail Station have been reduced from 10 mph to 5 mph as a proactive measure.
- Rail Operations has increased the penalty for cell phone infractions, now up to a 90 day suspension for a first time violation.
- The Office of System Safety (OSS) continues to hire and backfill key safety positions including a Deputy Chief Safety Officer, Industrial Hygienist, Environmental Safety Specialist and Safety Education Program Specialist.
- OSS conducted 16 safety blitzes at key grade crossings and stations to educate and reinforce rail safety to customers and the public.
- This past year, the New Jersey Transit Police Department worked with a number of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and emergency responders, providing emergency response training for 750 first responders, and rail safety training for an additional 550 first responders.
DUNKIN DONUTS/AMTRAK PARTERNSHIP EXPANDED TO NORTHEAST DIRECT SERVICE:
Partnership Launched Earlier this Year with Original Blend and Dunkin’ Decaf® Hot Coffees on Acela Express Trains on the Northeast Corridor
Dunkin’ Donuts and Amtrak today announced the expansion of their partnership to now offer Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend and Dunkin’ Decaf hot coffee on board Amtrak Northeast Regional trains. The newest phase of this partnership follows the successful April launch of Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee on board Amtrak Acela Express high-speed trains throughout the Northeast Corridor.
With the expanded partnership, Dunkin’ Donuts’ signature hot coffee will be available to nearly 12 million customers who ride Northeast Regional and Acela Express services each year. Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee will be served all day in First Class and Café cars, and will be brewed using the same equipment featured in Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants to ensure the same high quality and great taste enjoyed by millions of Dunkin’ guests each and every day.
“After a successful Acela Express launch, we’re excited to expand our partnership with Amtrak and serve those traveling to more than 50 stops between Richmond, VA and Boston, MA,” said Brian Gilbert, Dunkin’ Donuts Senior Director, New Business Development. “Whether guests are traveling for business or leisure in the Northeast, they’ll have Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee to keep them energized throughout the trip.”
“We are excited to provide even more of our customers with an elevated coffee experience,” said Thomas J. Hall, Amtrak Vice President Passenger Experience. “Our expanded partnership offers customers more of what they told us they want on board – variety, value and higher quality options. As two brands who share a commitment to providing a distinctive and premium customer experience, Amtrak and Dunkin’ Donuts are a great partnership.”
Northeast Regional is one of Amtrak’s most popular services on the nation’s busiest rail corridor, offering hourly service to New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond and Lynchburg, VA, and other intermediate cities. Northeast Regional customers can skip the hassle of I-95 traffic and enjoy the benefits and comforts of train travel including more legroom and spacious seats. Amtrak’s Northeast Regional service has led significant growth in revenue and market share in the Northeast, increasing from 6.8 million customers in Fiscal Year 2007 to 8.4 million customers in Fiscal Year 2016.
- posted 9/20)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEKN ENDING SEPTEMBER 16, 2017:
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 530,774 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending September 16 were 260,771 carloads, down 3.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 270,003 containers and trailers, up 0.9 percent compared to 2016.
One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. It was metallic ores and metals, up 3,292 carloads, to 24,696. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,552 carloads, to 9,083; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,063 carloads, to 16,605; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,943 carloads, to 14,625.
For the first 37 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,570,798 carloads, up 4.1 percent from the same point last year; and 9,860,655 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 37 weeks of 2017 was 19,431,453 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending September 16, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 362,507 carloads, up 0.002 percent compared with the same week last year, and 353,452 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 715,959 carloads and intermodal units, up 2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 37 weeks of 2017 was 25,760,998 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 86,678 carloads for the week, up 11.9 percent, and 72,269 intermodal units, up 17.5 percent compared with the same week in 2016 and the most for any week in history for Canadian railroads. For the first 37 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,325,540 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,058 carloads for the week, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,180 intermodal units, up 7.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 37 weeks of 2017 was 1,004,005 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.7 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 9/20)
SOUTHWEST GULF RAILROAD BEGINS CONSTRUCTION ON THE MEDINA LINE:
Southwest Gulf Railroad Company (SGRR) has officially broken ground on The Medina Line, a common carrier railroad located approximately 30 miles west of San Antonio. Expected to be complete in 2019, the 9-mile line will help customers leverage SGRR's unique access to the Union Pacific (UP) and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) railroads as well as U.S. Route 90 to serve growing markets in Texas and beyond.
"The Medina Line represents a timely opportunity for employers to enhance their supply and distribution capabilities to better serve the growing economy," said Erik Remmert, Vice President of SGRR. "We're marketing a low-cost, convenient connection to the regional, national and global marketplace."
The existing limestone quarry at the northern end of the line operated by SGRR parent Vulcan Materials Company will serve as The Medina Line's initial, anchor customer.
"Medina County is strategically positioned to tap into the underlying strength of the Texas economy and the rebuilding of our nation's infrastructure," said Jeff Lott, Southwest Division President at Vulcan Materials Company. "With the continuing recovery creating demand for construction materials in Texas and the Gulf Coast, The Medina Line will better connect the Vulcan Medina Quarry and other customers to serve the market while creating local jobs and economic opportunity here in Medina County."
"For Medina County, this is just the start of an economic engine that will generate new jobs, new tax revenues and spur economic growth for Texas," said Remmert. "Interest from prospective customers and employers is strong, and that's exciting to see."
Incorporated in 2003, SGRR is a subsidiary of Vulcan Materials Company, the nation's largest producer of construction aggregates and a major producer of other construction materials. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board in 2008 granted SGRR the authority to build and operate The Medina Line.
(Southwest Gulf Railroad Company
- posted 9/19)
NEW RAY-MONT LOGISTICS TRANSLOAD FACILITY WELCOMES ITS FIRST UNIT TRAIN IN PRINCE RUPERT:
CN and Ray-Mont Logistics are proud to announce that the first unit train bringing agricultural products to Ray-Mont's new transload facility has arrived in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
The first unit train transported canola meal pellets from Western Canada on CN's line. The new facility, which officially opened for business on August 31, is currently the only unit train stuffing facility on Canada's west coast, helping crops transported by CN from Western and Central Canada as well as the American Midwest reach international markets.
"We recognize the importance of making Canadian grain competitive on the global market," said Doug MacDonald, CN vice president of bulk. "As such we are pleased to play a role in innovative supply chain partnerships such as this one that will benefit the grain industry."
The 10-acre facility includes a 100-car rail loop corridor, a grain dumper pit, as well as a state-of-the-art conveyance system and will transload grain and processed grain products from CN hoppers to ocean liner containers for export. The facility handles agricultural products transported from the US and Canada in order to meet the increasing demand for containerized grain in international markets.
Located on Ridley Island, adjacent to the newly expanded Port of Prince Rupert Fairview Container Terminal and connected to CN's extensive network, Ray-Mont Logistics offers a supply chain solution that will change the containerized agricultural product market in Western Canada and offer unparalleled opportunity for agricultural commodity exporters.
"Efficient logistics and innovative transloading go hand in hand and are future-oriented," said Charles Raymond, president and chief executive officer of Ray-Mont Logistics International. "With top class partners like CN, this project will allow our customers, with current and emerging markets, to grow their exports exponentially - and we are proud to be an active participant."
- posted 9/19)
We are working around the clock to both repair the damage caused by the second incident and to ensure that we have no other track problems in this busiest and most important terminal. The immediate steps we’ve taken to fix the issues we’ve identified so far include:
For more than 40 years Amtrak has worked alongside commuter rail lines on the Northeast Corridor. It is a proven partnership and we are dedicated to providing the levels of service necessary so that people can rely on rail travel. We are committed to providing a consistently reliable transportation service for everyone – and to provide a better experience for the customers of Amtrak and our commuter partners.
(Amtrak - 4/06)
- Upon discovering this misaligned rail, we immediately surveyed all other sites at the station that could possibly have the same condition, and we can confirm that none were found.
- We have changed our specs to eliminate the possibility of a mismatched condition.
- We have launched joint inspections with the Federal Railroad Administration to ensure that all aspects of our infrastructure at New York Penn Station are in good order. We will share the full results of these inspections with both NJ Transit and Long Island Railroad so that they understand what we’ve found.
- We are assembling a team that will be dedicated to address any maintenance deficiencies at the station and will reprioritize our work and support of various other projects to ensure, first and foremost, the basic condition of the terminal.
- I am leading a comprehensive review of our maintenance practices and Engineering department, including bringing in independent experts, to ensure we have the right processes and organization to maintain and improve our infrastructure.
AAR REPORTS RAIL TRAFFIC FOR MARCH AND WEEK ENDING APRIL 1, 2017:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 1, 2017, as well as volumes for March 2017.
U.S. railroads originated 1,283,489 carloads in March 2017, up 7.3 percent, or 87,183 carloads, over March 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,298,173 containers and trailers in March 2017, up 3.8 percent, or 47,180 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in March 2017 were 2,581,662, up 5.5 percent or 134,363 carloads and intermodal units over March 2016.
In March 2017, 13 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with March 2016. These included: coal, up 19 percent or 63,846 carloads; crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 12.5 percent or 13,154 carloads; and grain, up 10.6 percent or 11,336 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in March 2017 from March 2016 included: motor vehicles and parts, down 5.3 percent or 4,999 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 8.1 percent or 4,382 carloads; and chemicals, down 1.3 percent or 2,113 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were up 2.7 percent, or 23,337 carloads, in March 2017 over March 2016.
"Railroading is not for the faint of heart, as markets are continually changing and railroads have to adapt to changing circumstances," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Despite recent increases, in absolute terms rail coal volumes are much lower than they were even a few years ago, and rail crude oil volumes are roughly half what they were a couple of years ago. On the other hand, this was the best March ever for carloads of crushed stone, sand, and gravel, and it was the best March for grain since 2008."
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first three months of 2017 was 3,324,102 carloads, up 5.7 percent, or 180,665 carloads, from the same period last year; and 3,387,680 intermodal units, up 1.4 percent, or 47,977 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 13 weeks of 2017 was 6,711,782 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to last year.
"This was the best first quarter ever for U.S. railroad intermodal volume," said Gray. "Roughly half of intermodal is international trade, but it's not just intermodal that's associated with international trade. At least 42% of the carloads and intermodal units our nation's railroads carry, and more than 35% of rail revenue, are directly associated with international trade. Approximately 50,000 rail jobs, worth over $5.5 billion in annual wages and benefits, depend directly on international trade."
Week Ending April 1, 2017
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 527,665 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending April 1 were 259,720 carloads, up 9.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 267,945 containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared to 2016.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included coal, up 26.8 percent to 78,665 carloads; metallic ores and metals, up 14.6 percent to 24,379 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 13 percent to 38,251 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 5.8 percent to 10,050 carloads; chemicals, down 5.6 percent to 32,210 carloads; and forest products, down 4.7 percent to 10,469 carloads.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 1, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 357,657 carloads, up 9.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 341,863 intermodal units, up 6.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 699,520 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2017 was 8,873,298 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 81,027 carloads for the week, up 11.3 percent, and 63,670 intermodal units, up 14.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 13 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,818,965 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.9 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,910 carloads for the week, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,248 intermodal units, up 0.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 13 weeks of 2017 was 342,551 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - 4/06)
MTA BOARD APPROVES SUBWAY AND BUS INITIATIVES FOR FASTER
REPAIRS, BETTER STATIONS, BETTER SERVICE:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board on Monday voted on measures to improve service for millions of New Yorkers who use subways and buses, including a contract to shorten the 2019 Canarsie Tunnel closure by 3 months starting in April 2019; begin the next phase of the 2nd Avenue Subway; and to enhance train stations in Queens as part of a large-scale plan to overhaul more than 30 stations in the system in the 2015-19 Capital Program.
“Today’s votes will bring convenience and better service to the millions of New Yorkers who use our system every day,” said Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “Improvements include modernized train stations in Astoria and a shorter closure of the Canarsie Tunnel, which will lessen the impact on L Subway train riders as we undertake these necessary Sandy storm repairs.”
(MTA - 4/04)
3-Month Shorter Closure for Canarsie Tunnel:
The Board voted to award an expedited contract to accelerate the rehabilitation of the Canarsie Tunnel, which carries L train riders under the East River, by three months. The contract calls for improvements to two stations and a new substation that will add power to allow more trains to run on the L Subway Line once the tunnel reopens. The work to be completed in 15 months, three months shorter than the previously estimated 18 months.
The joint venture selected to do the $492 million project is Judlau Contracting and TC Electric. Judlau successfully completed similar work on the Montague Tunnel in 2013 following Superstorm Sandy ahead of schedule. Penalties for any delays call for fines of $410,000 a day.
The MTA and NYC DOT have engaged in an aggressive community engagement process through town halls and community workshops meeting with residents, businesses, community boards, merchant groups and civic associations in Brooklyn and Manhattan communities along the L Subway Line. The meetings have been successful forums providing information on the Canarsie Tunnel repairs and to solicit community feedback on possible alternate travel options during the planned closure.
Extending the 2nd Avenue Subway to East Harlem:
The Board also voted to award a contract for outreach services for the next phase of the 2nd Avenue Subway project, which advances north to 125th Street and will feature new stations at 106th and 116th Streets.
The $7.3 million contract, awarded through a competitive procurement process to East Harlem Community Collaborators JV (a joint venture formed by Spectrum Personal Communications and Sam Schwartz Engineering DPC), will lead to the opening of a staffed Community Information Center (CIC) for the project at 69 E. 125th Street this spring. The CIC was previously located on Second Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets.
Spectrum is a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and is a 50-percent partner of East Harlem Community Collaborators. In addition, the joint venture has three DBE subcontractors, including Crystal McKenzie Inc. (CMI), Metropolitan Public Strategies (MPS) and Dakota Print and Premium LLC d/b/a Fuse Printing.
Under the supervision of MTA Capital Construction Public Affairs, the new outreach staff, including Spanish speakers, will develop events and activities for the public; conduct tours, educational events and community meetings; assist in the preparation of presentations for Community Boards and elected officials; and help advise the public about the project schedule and any associated disruptions to services and access. A similar Center and operations were used to great success for Phase 1 of the 2nd Avenue Subway.
On New Year’s Day 2017, Governor Cuomo celebrated the successful on-time launch of Phase 1 of Second Avenue Subway by opening three new stations on Second Avenue at 96th, 86th and 72nd Streets, and an expanded 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue station.
Phase 2 preliminary design and engineering work, as well as environmental studies, have already commenced. Once completed, a project schedule and budget will be established.
Since launching on January 1st, Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway has reduced weekday ridership in four key stations, 68th Street, 77th Street, 86th Street and 96th Street by an average of 27 percent on weekdays and as much as 46 percent during peak morning rush hours of 8 to 9 a.m., as compared to the same period last year, and has reduced travel time for many Upper East Side customers by 10 minutes or more.
Newly Enhanced Subway Stations in Queens:
The Board voted to award a $150 million contract for the second set of stations in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ongoing Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI) to create new and dramatically improved subway stations throughout New York. The stations, which are all elevated, are located on the Astoria Line (N & W) in Queens, including the Broadway, 30th Avenue, 36th Avenue, and 39th Avenue stations. They will be renovated using a single-contractor, design-build method to cut construction time and save money.
The station enhancements include:
• Enhanced lighting throughout;
• Improved signage for easier navigation, including digital, real-time service updates at subway entrances, before customers even enter the station;
• Inclusion of amenities, such as countdown clocks, granite floors on the mezzanine level, and new art, as well as security cameras;
• Renovations will also consider the architectural legacy of each station, and remain sensitive to historical elements as the stations undergo redesign;
• As part of the process, the MTA evaluated proposals considering full and partial station closures in order to ensure that renovations are completed as quickly as possible.
Last week, work began on the first group of stations in this initiative, along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn. The stations will be closed in both directions for renovations using a single-contractor design-build method to cut construction time and save money.
High-resolution renderings of the station renovations are available here.
New, Higher-Capacity Buses:
The Board voted to use the Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the federally funded procurement of up to 53 low-floor, 60-foot articulated buses to replace aging 40-foot buses that have reached the end of their 12-year life cycles. These buses represent an expansion of articulated bus operation in New York City and in some cases, an increase in service in order to meet peak-service demand and ease crowding.
Converting a route to articulated bus operation also has an immediate impact on operating costs. Four 40-foot buses are replaced with three 60-foot articulated buses, resulting in a reduction in operator-related costs, fewer miles being driven, and a need for fewer buses to meet peak-service requirements.
The buses will be outfitted with new features consistent with other new buses recently announced by Governor Cuomo, including improved driver visibility, pedestrian turn warning, Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, automatic passenger counters and digital information screens.