` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine







Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
October 19, 2017:


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 here. 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. at - 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. (AAR - 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 (MBTA - 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. (OmniTRAX Canada - 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. (Amtrak - 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. (Amtrak - 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: http://web.mta.info/mnr/html/yankees/yankee_service.htm. 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 (MTA - 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. (MTA - 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 www.kingofprussiarail.com. 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 (www.kingofprussiarail.com. ), 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. (SEPTA - 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. (Quebec-Gatineau Railway - 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. (MTA - 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. (NJ Transit - posted 10/12)

OMNI MATRIALS SWITCHES TO RAIL AND CSS: V 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.” (CSS - 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 www.capetrain.com. 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. (AAR - 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. (Canadian Pacific - 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 http://www.stonycreekranchresort.com. 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:
  • 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.
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. (MTA - posted 10/10)

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:
  • 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.
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 www.keolisnorthamerica.com. (Keolis - posted 10/09)

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. (Cummins Inc. - 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:
  • 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.
“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. (CSX - posted 10/06)

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. (Brightline - 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:
  • 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
"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)

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. ( CSX - 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. (NS - 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:
  • 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.
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 NEC.Amtrak.com/ReadytoBuild . (Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/04)

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 . here (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:
  • 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.
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)

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. (Norfolk Southern - 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. (CN - 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:
  • 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
(MBTA - posted 10/02)

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:
  • MAJOR INCIDENTS 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).
  • CAPACITY PROVIDED 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.
  • SUBWAY CAR 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.
  • STATION ENVIRONMENT 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.
  • LEGACY INDICATORS 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.
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)

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 www.septa.org Signage posted at stations will direct passengers to shuttle bus boarding locations.
  • Airport: 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.
  • Lansdale/Doylestown: 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.
  • Warminster: 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.
  • West Trenton: 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.
Passengers can visit www.septa.org to view changes to their train lines. Riders can also contact SEPTA Customer Service representatives at (215) 580-7800. (SEPTA - posted 9/28)

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. (Brightline - 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. (AAR - 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.” (Norfolk Southern - 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 found here. (Amtrak - 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 www.oli.org . (Amtrak - 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: www.mysafetypledge.com . 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. (CN,Randy Kotuby - 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. (MBTA - 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.” ( CSX - 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. (Norfolk Southern - 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.
  • 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.
(NJ Transit - posted 9/21)

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. (Amtrak - 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. (AAR - 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." (CN - posted 9/19)

BUSING TO REPLACE WEEKEND AND MIDDAY TRAINS ON PASCACK VALLEY LINE TO ALLOW FOR REPAIR WORK: Due to grade crossing repairs and signal and track maintenance work, NJ TRANSIT is replacing trains on the Pascack Valley Line with buses on weekends and during midday hours on weekdays beginning on Sunday, September 17 and continuing through Saturday, October 28. During this time, Pascack Valley Line tickets and passes will be cross-honored on the Main/Bergen County Lines trains. At Secaucus Junction, Coach USA buses – which are replacing Pascack Valley Line trains – will arrive and depart from Platforms 9 and 10. Bus times may vary from train times at some station stops. Customers should visit the NJ TRANSIT website for specific schedule times. While busing is in effect, all Metro-North customers from Spring Valley, Nanuet and Pearl River may use their monthly/weekly commutation passes for travel on Metro-North’s Hudson Line between Tarrytown and Grand Central Terminal. (NJ Transit - posted 9/18)

ALTON REGIONAL MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION CENTER HAS 10 DAILY AMTRAK TRAINS: Amtrak customers today were welcomed by representatives of the railroad, City of Alton, Madison County, state and federal officials to the gleaming new Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center, an Amtrak station with modern amenities, Madison County Transit (MCT) connections and ample parking. The new station was developed by the Illinois Department of Transportation (Illinois DOT) in conjunction with Alton and MCT. It includes a clock tower and large expanses of glass to allow natural light to flood the interior, free Wi-Fi access and bicycle facilities, replacing a depot opened by the Chicago and Alton Railroad in 1928. The River Bend Region’s rich railroad history is recognized with an exhibit in the new station at 1 Golf Road, Alton, Ill., 62002, part of the redevelopment of a former city golf course. The Multimodal Transportation Center was built using $7.4 million in federal funding awarded to Illinois DOT, augmented by $13.85 million awarded to the city and MCT through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. Nearly 60,000 Amtrak customers used the old College Avenue station in the last year, a number likely to increase due to the local, state and federal investments. “We are confident this development will be like the major stations we opened with the Illinois DOT in Champaign in 1999 and in Normal in 2012: it will spark area redevelopment while providing a vital transportation link,” said Mike Franke, Amtrak Senior Director–State Contracts. “This project shows what happens when a great city teams up with a great state transportation department and progressive providers such as MCT and Amtrak.” “This landmark facility will expand regional transit options and provide opportunities for transit-oriented development adjacent to the new station,” said Mayor Brant Walker. “We are extremely thankful to our project partners, the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois DOT, MCT and Amtrak for their tireless efforts to make this project a reality.” “This beautiful new transportation center is one more step in a statewide effort to enhance the passenger rail experience along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor,” said Illinois DOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “Travelers in Alton will enjoy a reliable, convenient options to get to where they want to go, while the region benefits from a new station that will help to create economic opportunity for years to come.” ““The opening of the new Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center is an important step forward in a statewide effort to improve the passenger rail experience along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor,” said Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “This beautiful new station will not only provide travelers in Alton and throughout the region with increased transportation options, it will also help spur economic development in and around the station. “I was proud to work with my state and local partners in securing a nearly $14 million TIGER grant back in 2011 for this project and even prouder to see the result of those efforts here today.” The Alton station is a popular place for St. Louis-area passengers to begin and end their trips, whether they are from the Illinois portion of the metro area or from the suburbs on the north side of St. Louis. At approximately 9,000 square feet—more than ten times larger than the former Amtrak station on College Avenue that was vacated on Wednesday—the transportation center includes a baggage room, waiting room, electronic information signs and vending machines. Customers who had planned travel from the old depot were notified earlier this month of the station and schedule change that results in a two-minute difference in the timetables of the eight Amtrak Lincoln Service trains daily between St. Louis and Chicago, which are sponsored by Illinois DOT as part of the Amtrak MidwestSM network, and the daily Amtrak Texas Eagle between Chicago and San Antonio, with through service to El Paso, Tucson and Los Angeles (Amtrak - posted 9/15)

STEAM CHAMPION AND FOUNDER OF AGE OF STEAM ROUNDHOUSE DIES: Jerry Joe Jacobson has died. After a long illness and surrounded by members of  his family, Jerry passed away peacefully on September 13, 2017. He was 74.     Visionary, businessman, anesthetist, philanthropist, entrepreneur, family man,  railroad tycoon and friend to many. Of the many words used to describe Jerry Joe  Jacobson  perhaps  his  most  favorite  was  “paratrooper”;  more  specifically,  Sergeant Jacobson, parachute rigger, Company B, 407 PIR, 82nd Airborne Division,  US Army. He continued his military service with the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually  rising to the rank of Captain.    Born in Jacksonville, Illinois, and spending his youth in the shadow of northern  Indiana’s sprawling steel mills, Jerry’s character was forged by his tough-as-nails  father, yet tempered by his loving mother. The family moved to Ohio where Jerry  enjoyed high school activities of playing drums and wrestling, but most of all he  loved watching the last steam locomotives still operating on the Baltimore &  Ohio’s Akron Division main line near his home in Cuyahoga Falls. Jerry vowed that  one day he would own his own steamer, realizing that in order to run his own  locomotive he would have to own his own railroad.    Jerry studied at Kent State University for two years and then went on to receive  his degree in anesthesia from a teaching hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, right  in the middle of a Pennsylvania-Dutch country. Spending available weekends at  the steam-powered Strasburg tourist railroad, he came to appreciate the simple,  quiet life of the surrounding Amish community. Jerry moved back to Ohio and  began his anesthesia career in maternity suites and operating rooms at local  hospitals.    During the early 1980s Jerry became involved with the operation of two Ohio  short lines, and dreams of owning his own railroad came true when in 1988 he  purchased  a  little-used  branch  of  the  Norfolk  &  Western.  Running  90  miles  between Brewster, Ohio, and Zanesville, this former W&LE/Nickel Plate line was  renamed the Ohio Central (OC). One of the first things Jerry did was to acquire  from Steamtown its ex-Canadian National 4-6-0 #1551 in trade for his Jackson  Iron & Steel 0-6-0 #3 (formerly Baldwin Locomotive Works plant switcher No.26,  recently  rebuilt  and  again  operating  at  Steamtown).  Jerry  rebuilt  the  4-6-0,  acquired open-window passenger coaches, and began operating daily-exceptSunday steam-powered tourist trains on his new railroad line…that just happened  to pass through the largest Amish community in the United States. It was a  natural fit—people came from miles around to shop and visit the quaint Amish  community of Sugarcreek, and, while in town these same tourists would ride OC  passenger trains. There was the occasional freight train, but on some days the  line’s  sole  income  was  derived  from  the  tickets  sold  to  eager  steam  train  passengers.    Little-by-little  freight  traffic  increased  as  Jerry  acquired,  rehabilitated  and  operated more and more down-on-their-luck railroads until he had amassed the  ten lines that comprised the greater Ohio Central Railroad System. Stretching  from Columbus to the Ohio River with satellite rail lines in Youngstown and  Pittsburgh, the OCRS had grown to 550 miles with more than 200 employees.  Instead of abandoning rights of way or giving-in to non-revenue producing bike  trails, Jerry had revived 10 faltering railroads that now paid taxes and purchased  millions of dollars’ worth of fuel, supplies and services. Offering fresh competition  to the monopolizing trucking industry, Jerry’s railroads caused shipping costs to  fall and businesses to relocate beside his railroad tracks. His railroads created jobs  whose  employee’s  paychecks  stimulated  local  economies,  and  whose  payroll  taxes supported on-line communities. As an added bonus, upon an employee’s  10th anniversary with the OCRS Jerry took them on his annual trek to Fort Bragg to  celebrate the 82nd’s All-America Week.    Jerry eventually acquired ten steam locomotives and two-dozen passenger cars,  and  for  nearly  twenty  years  OC’s  summertime  tourist  trains  and  day-long  excursions were pulled by steam locomotives to the delight of millions of people,  both aboard the trains and those watching from trackside. But OC’s main focus  was hauling freight, and the little railroad prospered beyond all expectations by  hauling plastic pellets, aggregates, grain, paper, chemicals, pipe, bricks, steel and  unit coal trains.    In 2008 Jerry reached retirement age and sold his railroad empire to the Genesee  &  Wyoming.  He  pursued  other  interests,  including  the  establishment  of  an  investment business and the Jerry & Laura Jacobson Foundation, Inc., a charitable  institution. Along with devoted wife, Laura, the Jacobsons funded the $10 million  construction of a new student dormitory at Fork Union Military Academy in  Virginia where their two sons attended high school. Back home in Ohio, Jerry built  a functioning steam locomotive repair facility right out of the 1930s, including an  18-stall roundhouse, 115-foot turntable, back shop, wood water tank, huge store  house and depot/office, etc., to restore and exhibit his collection that had grown  to 19 steamers, 28 diesels, two-dozen passenger cars and other historic railroad  items. The Age of Steam Roundhouse is the world’s largest, privately funded,  railroad  historical  project,  and  the  roundhouse  is  one  of  the  largest timberframed structures in the world.    Jerry  Joe  Jacobson’s  childhood  dream  had  come  true.  Everyone  who  loves  trains—and many who only know trains as an occasional annoyance at grade  crossings as they wait for a slow-moving freight to pass—also enjoy the many  benefits, public and private, created by Jerry Joe Jacobson’s dream.  (Age of Steam Roundhouse - posted 9/14)

AMTRAK LAUNCHES MARKETING CAMPAIGN INVITING TRAVELERS TO BREAK THE TRAVEL QUO: Traveling these days can be complicated with all the rules, restrictions, additional fees, and shrinking leg room – but it doesn’t have to be. Amtrak revealed today an exciting new campaign, dubbed “Break the Travel Quo,” that goes head-to-head against some of the most prevalent pain points of modern day travel and reminds consumers that riding with Amtrak is a far easier, more comfortable and convenient way to travel. “Break the Travel Quo” takes a lighthearted approach to push against the realities of air and car travel that have become par for the course, juxtaposing commonplace scenarios against the comfort and convenience of Amtrak. Not only does Amtrak boast one of the most generous baggage policies in the travel industry – allowing passengers to bring up to four pieces of luggage for free – but the rail company also offers free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times (no “airplane mode”), the ability to travel with small pets on many trains, large spacious seats with ample leg room, and no middle seat. “We’re excited about this campaign because it showcases what we know our customers love about rail travel: comfort, convenience and a premium experience,” said President and co-CEO Richard Anderson. Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states, and carries more than 30 million customers annually. The integrated multi-platform campaign includes digital, radio and outdoor advertising, in addition to public relations and social media. The new campaign was created in coordination with Amtrak’s advertising agency, FCB New York. For additional information on “Break the Travel Quo” visit www.BreaktheTravelQuo.com. (Traveling these days can be complicated with all the rules, restrictions, additional fees, and shrinking leg room – but it doesn’t have to be. Amtrak revealed today an exciting new campaign, dubbed “Break the Travel Quo,” that goes head-to-head against some of the most prevalent pain points of modern day travel and reminds consumers that riding with Amtrak is a far easier, more comfortable and convenient way to travel. “Break the Travel Quo” takes a lighthearted approach to push against the realities of air and car travel that have become par for the course, juxtaposing commonplace scenarios against the comfort and convenience of Amtrak. Not only does Amtrak boast one of the most generous baggage policies in the travel industry – allowing passengers to bring up to four pieces of luggage for free – but the rail company also offers free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times (no “airplane mode”), the ability to travel with small pets on many trains, large spacious seats with ample leg room, and no middle seat. “We’re excited about this campaign because it showcases what we know our customers love about rail travel: comfort, convenience and a premium experience,” said President and co-CEO Richard Anderson. Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states, and carries more than 30 million customers annually. The integrated multi-platform campaign includes digital, radio and outdoor advertising, in addition to public relations and social media. The new campaign was created in coordination with Amtrak’s advertising agency, FCB New York. For additional information on “Break the Travel Quo” visit www.BreaktheTravelQuo.com (Amtrak - posted 9/14)

GREENBRIER BUILDS 50,000 COVERAGE HOPPER CAR: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. today announced that it has completed production on its 50,000th covered hopper railcar. This milestone follows Greenbrier's announcement in February of the production of its 100,000th intermodal double stack railcar. These achievements demonstrate Greenbrier's leadership in innovative engineering and manufacturing excellence within North America's competitive freight railcar markets. These landmark events also exemplify Greenbrier's transformation in recent years from a limited builder of specialized railcars to a broad-based manufacturer of virtually all railcar types. Greenbrier built its first covered hopper railcar over 11 years ago. Today, Greenbrier builds a full line of small, medium and large covered hopper railcars with freight carrying capacities from 3,250 cubic feet up to 6,580 cubic feet. Covered hoppers are the largest single railcar type in service, comprising more than one-third of the North America fleet. Covered hoppers are integral to North American freight movement, carrying a wide variety of dry bulk including grain and agricultural products, plastics and chemicals, and nonmetallic minerals, including sand and cement. From the beginning Greenbrier has listened to its customers, building the best railcar for their needs. This has allowed Greenbrier to make meaningful advancements in covered hopper technology that enhance rail transportation for a broad range of commodities. Most recently, Greenbrier has developed two new medium covered hopper railcar designs. One of the new cover hoppers is designed to transport lighter weight agricultural products. It features a carrying capacity of 5,446 cubic feet with a length of 56 feet and a light weight of 59,500 pounds that is lighter than existing railcars. Greenbrier's new covered hopper design for transporting heavy agricultural products is 54 feet long, two feet shorter than its closet competition, with a carrying capacity of 5,100 cubic feet and a light weight of 58,700 pounds. This covered hopper improves freight mobility through more efficient railroad operations. An additional enhancement to Greenbrier's covered hopper railcars includes an updated roofline that improves loading and unloading access for increased transloading efficiency. "Our latest covered hopper railcars are best in class. Both feature a recent patent-pending design for reduced weight," said Mark Rittenbaum, Executive Vice President, Commercial and Leasing. "We are focused on increasing cubic capacity and reducing length and weight in all Greenbrier covered hopper designs. Greenbrier prioritizes innovation and design so that we always meet the needs of our customers and capitalize on modernization opportunities to achieve market growth." "Greenbrier strives to diversify our product offerings and access new markets. We are relentless about improving the performance of our railcars to meet the needs of our customers," commented William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO. "This is our second landmark achievement in 2017, following our 100,000th intermodal double stack unit produced at Gunderson earlier this year. This latest milestone highlights Greenbrier's leadership in the railcar industry. It also solidifies our position as a global manufacturer, with headquarters in the United States, and major manufacturing operations on three continents. I am grateful for all our employees and customers who will always be essential to Greenbrier's growth and success." (Greenbrier, Randy Kotuby - posted 9/13)

NJ TRANSIT PARTNERS WITH ARI TO HELP SLASH MAINTENANCE BUDGET: Like most public transportation agencies, NJ TRANSIT's motto for its fleet of nearly 1,000 work vehicles needed to support its rail and bus operations was "purchase, power through, then purge." These vehicles, which range from sedans to high rail knuckle boom trucks, were driven for many years – often well past the optimum or even recommended replacement schedule – and then finally removed from service once they were found to be beyond repair. On average, a NJ TRANSIT light-duty truck remained in service for at least 11 years, accruing at least 120,000 miles, with many exceeding 150,000 miles. Often times, these trucks had to have rusty beds restored, and some had entire engines or transmissions replaced by onsite maintenance garages. In 2014, the fleet reached a point with more than 100 vehicles – a tenth of its fleet – needing to be replaced, but the budget only allowed for 45 new vehicle purchases through its strict purchase-only model for acquisition. Jeff McNulla, NJ TRANSIT's manager of support services and fleet administration, together with the agency's fleet management partner, ARI, realized there was a better strategy that would save the agency money in a time of decreased state funding. In January 2015, NJ TRANSIT did something for the first time; the agency leased 101 vehicles to replace some of its oldest units still on the job. The financial benefit became especially clear when comparing the maintenance costs of FY2016 and FY2017. In FY2016, NJ TRANSIT spent approximately $5.85 million to maintain its fleet vehicles. That amount dropped to $5.27 million just a year later – a savings of approximately $580,000 or 10 percent. "Many of our trucks were showing their age. Several needed engine replacements as well as new transmissions and several body parts had rusted, resulting in maintenance expenses that escalated into a substantial deficit," McNulla said. "Our newer leased vehicles are not only less expensive to maintain, they are more fuel efficient." NJ TRANSIT adopted a hybrid purchase/lease model which created the extra capital it needed to fund more vehicles in a single year, while also purchasing specialty vehicles that were crucial to the fleet. With the savings the agency and ARI uncovered, along with the influx of some additional federal funding, McNulla expects to be able to replace another 259 vehicles, each with more than 100,000 miles, in the current fiscal year. "This next wave of new vehicles will dramatically reduce our maintenance expenses even further," McNulla said. And since the agency was able to replace so many vehicles, ARI also helped NJ TRANSIT find a better way to sell off the older vehicles coming out of service. In the past, NJ TRANSIT relied solely on state auctions to dispose of these vehicles. "There are multiple ways to sell vehicles, and in this case the state auction wasn't the best way," said ARI's Director of North American Supply Chain and Vehicle Remarketing, Partha Ghosh. "With such a limited audience of potential buyers, they were only getting $3,000 per vehicle." ARI took over the remarketing process, presenting the vehicles to a wider audience through both online and live auctions. As a result, returns on vehicles have doubled, with some bringing in as much as $7,500. In total, the agency generated an additional $219,000 between May 2015 and May 2016 by selling its vehicles to a wider audience. By taking a fresh look at how NJ TRANSIT replaced and resold its non-revenue producing fleet of vehicles, ARI has helped the agency produce a significant savings to its bottom line, allowing it to be well on-track to update the fleet in its entirety. (Randy Kotuby - posted 9/13)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 9, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 486,474 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending September 9 were 247,930 carloads, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 238,544 containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent compared to 2016. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They were coal, up 5,322 carloads, to 92,488; metallic ores and metals, up 1,944 carloads, to 21,549; and chemicals, up 952 carloads, to 29,024. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 5,146 carloads, to 17,445; petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,518 carloads, to 7,930; and nonmetallic minerals, down 1,894 carloads, to 33,506. For the first 36 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,310,027 carloads, up 4.4 percent from the same point last year; and 9,590,652 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 36 weeks of 2017 was 18,900,679 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.9 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending September 9, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 343,559 carloads, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 312,397 intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 655,956 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 36 weeks of 2017 was 25,045,039 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.2 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 79,197 carloads for the week, up 10.2 percent, and 62,938 intermodal units, up 11.7 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 36 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,166,593 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,432 carloads for the week, up 10.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,915 intermodal units, down 8.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 36 weeks of 2017 was 977,767 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 9/13)

WASHINGTON DC METRO SHOWING SIGNS OF GETTING "BACK TO GOOD": Washington DC Metro customers are experiencing fewer train offloads, better on-time performance, and fewer unscheduled delays as a result of new railcars, improved maintenance programs, and schedule enhancements – positive trends that show Metro is delivering on its commitment to move the system "back to good." Following the conclusion of the SafeTrack emergency maintenance program in June, Metro customers have seen improvements in Metrorail service reliability. In August, 89 percent of trips (13.6 million trips) arrived on time based on actual customer "tap in/tap out" travel time data. Metro credits the accelerated delivery of popular 7000-series railcars—combined with the retirement of all 1000- and 4000-series railcars months ahead of schedule, fewer track delays, improved railcar maintenance and recent schedule adjustments—with helping to keep customers on time. "Our customers will determine when we are ultimately back to good, but I am confident we are on the way," said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. "I am very proud of the thousands of Metro employees who are working day and night to improve safety and service for our customers." Metro's railcar "Get Well" program -- an intensive maintenance program to address issues with the system's "legacy" fleets -- along with unprecedented infrastructure rebuilding under SafeTrack and an aggressive new preventive maintenance plan for infrastructure, have all contributed to reductions in delays. In addition, Metro is testing new methods to address the issue of water infiltration a historically troublesome stretch of the Red Line. During the first seven months of this year, compared to the same period last year:
  • Railcar reliability is up more than 50 percent
  • Offloads are down 40 percent
  • Fire and smoke incidents are down 20 percent
  • Arcing incidents are down 11 percent
Metro also reported significant improvement in on-board passenger comfort and a steep decline in "hot cars," with HVAC systems performing nearly 60 percent better in July 2017 compared to July 2016. On Metrobus, new schedules and the increased use of technology are keeping buses on time more of the time, with 80 percent of customer trips on schedule in July. Metro continues to receive 100 new buses each year to replace the oldest, least reliable buses in the fleet with cleaner, more fuel-efficient models that travel thousands more miles between breakdowns. For customers with disabilities, MetroAccess is currently taking delivery of 207 new paratransit vans, allowing older vehicles to be retired while also expanding the fleet by 50 vehicles (7 percent). Metro last week announced a pilot program to provide more travel options for MetroAccess customers and reduce overall program expense to Metro by enabling customers in Maryland to use selected private taxi services instead of MetroAccess. Metro customers report their satisfaction and overall experience is at the highest rate in two and a half years, with 72 percent of respondents noting that Metro rail and bus service is "getting better." Meanwhile, rail ridership, which had been declining due to emergency maintenance and a variety of other external factors, finally appears to be stabilizing. Metro is also reporting improvements in safety and security. Major crime on Metro is down 20 percent in the first seven months of 2017, as Metro Transit Police have become more visible with new uniforms, stepped up fare enforcement, and deployed thousands of new digital cameras throughout the system help to quickly solve crimes. To improve customers' experience and enhance safety, Metro is advancing several projects:
  • Wi-Fi service is expanding to 30 underground stations by the end of the year.
  • Cell phone service is now available in tunnel segments on parts of the Red Line and Orange, Blue and Silver lines between Metro Center and Stadium-Armory. Additional tunnel segments are being wired now.
  • Stations are cleaner and brighter as a result of initiatives to upgrade lighting and more frequent cleaning.
Metro's turnaround has been driven by the largest-ever annual capital investment in the system. The record $1.16 billion in capital spent last fiscal year, including $700 million in federal grant reimbursements, led to improved track infrastructure, railcar reliability and escalator performance. Each month, another 20 new 7000-series railcars arrive, with 50 of the new 7000-series trains (400 railcars) now in service. As a result of Metro's aggressive efforts to replace and rehabilitate escalators to like new condition, the average effective age of a Metro escalator is now 10.5 years, the lowest it has been in decades. Last week, Metro completed the installation of the system's two newest escalators at U Street Station. The project was completed weeks ahead of schedule. Overall, Metro, the largest operator of escalators in the Western Hemisphere, has replaced 80 escalators since 2011 and rehabilitated 153 more to "like new" condition with all new components. Nearly one year into the Back2Good program, Metro's finances are showing signs of stability. Over the past year, Metro has:
  • Slashed more than $100 million in spending and ended Fiscal Year 2017 with a balanced budget
  • Eliminated nearly 700 positions
  • Changed management health care contributions to reduce expense
  • Reduced employee absenteeism more than 10 percent
  • Cut non-personnel costs
  • Disposed of excess assets
The financial market is reacting positively to changes at Metro, which has issued debt twice this year at more favorable interest rates than anticipated; including the refinancing of $250 million of outstanding long-term debt that saved the region $36.3 million in debt service costs. "Metro is clearly on a path to improving service for customers, and we are committed to continuing the progress," Wiedefeld said. (Metro - posted 9/12)

FRA CLEARS HURDLE FOR IMPROVING FREIGHT AND PASSENGER RAIL BETWEEN D.C. AND RICHMOND, VA: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced the completion of the Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the 123-mile section of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor from Washington, D.C., to south of Richmond, VA. This action moves the project one step closer to the construction phase of the Southeast Corridor, which will improve freight and rail traffic south of the nation’s capital. The Preferred Alternative in the DEIS prepared by the FRA with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (Virginia DRPT) will:
  • Reduce passenger and freight congestion and improve on-time performance
  • Accommodate planned and funded Virginia Rail Express (VRE) growth of four new round-trip trains
  • Accommodate forecasted CSX freight growth through 2045 (doubling from approximately 21 trains in 2015 to 42 in 2045)
  • Increase maximum train speeds from 69 mph to 79 mph between D.C. and Fredericksburg and to 90 mph between Fredericksburg and Richmond
  • Add nine new round-trip trains from D.C. to Richmond, with four continuing east to Hampton Roads and four south to Raleigh.
“Moving people and goods as quickly and as safely as possible is an important cornerstone of the Federal Rail Administration’s mission,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Heath Hall. “As this project moves forward, it’s critical that we receive feedback from potential passengers and the public at large.” FRA and Virginia DRPT will accept public comments on the DEIS for 60 days beginning on September 8, 2017. Based on public comments on the DEIS and the Preferred Alternative, DRPT and FRA will prepare a Final EIS (FEIS), which will list environmental commitments to mitigate unavoidable impacts. The total cost of the project is approximately $5 billion, which is estimated in 2025 dollars to reflect the first year of service; however, no funding commitments have been made for construction. Publication of the DEIS is a milestone in the NEPA review process. It initiates a comprehensive public comment period before the FRA issues a FEIS and Record of Decision. (FRA - posted 9/11)

PATRIOT RAIL MERGER ADDS PORT SERVICES: Patriot Rail Company LLC (PRC), a leading operator of short line and regional freight railroads and rail related services, today announced the combination with Diversified Port Holdings LLC (DPH) to create an expanded portfolio of businesses. PRC owns and operates 12 short line railroads and five rail related service companies with over 600 total rail miles across the United States. The Patriot service companies provide a wide array of services that include railcar repair, tankcar cleaning, product recovery, load adjusts/transfers, transloading, track construction, track maintenance, switching, track cleaning, logistics, flood response, etc. DPH, through its principal subsidiaries Seaonus and Portus, operates an integrated maritime port logistics business within a rapidly growing region of the United States. The Seaonus/Portus companies operate eight breakbulk, bulk, and heavy lift terminals and two container, Roll-on/Roll-off and Lift–on/Lift-off terminals located along the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic Coast with locations in Jacksonville, Cape Canaveral, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Sunny Point, North Carolina. Seaonus and Portus provide stevedoring and terminal services including on and off-port storage facilities to drive increased utilization of the maritime terminal infrastructure. Logistics services, intermodal connectivity, and use of on and off-port storage facilities combine to maximize cargo throughput. Patriot CEO John Fenton was recently appointed as CEO of the unified company and said "In our day-to-day service delivery we noted customers increasingly seeking bundled port and rail solutions. In the past DPH and Patriot have partnered in providing these solutions to our customers. The combining of the businesses will enable us to further enhance service delivery for our customers and offer more value-add transportation solutions." Mr. Fenton also added "The combination of DPH with the Patriot portfolio provides an exceptional opportunity for us to provide a coordinated and seamless suite of customized transportation and logistics solutions to rail and port customers. We are thrilled to add DPH to the Patriot team, and we look forward to the new and improved services options we will present to the marketplace." ( Patriot Rail Company LLC (PRC), a leading operator of short line and regional freight railroads and rail related services, today announced the combination with Diversified Port Holdings LLC (DPH) to create an expanded portfolio of businesses. PRC owns and operates 12 short line railroads and five rail related service companies with over 600 total rail miles across the United States. The Patriot service companies provide a wide array of services that include railcar repair, tankcar cleaning, product recovery, load adjusts/transfers, transloading, track construction, track maintenance, switching, track cleaning, logistics, flood response, etc. DPH, through its principal subsidiaries Seaonus and Portus, operates an integrated maritime port logistics business within a rapidly growing region of the United States. The Seaonus/Portus companies operate eight breakbulk, bulk, and heavy lift terminals and two container, Roll-on/Roll-off and Lift–on/Lift-off terminals located along the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic Coast with locations in Jacksonville, Cape Canaveral, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Sunny Point, North Carolina. Seaonus and Portus provide stevedoring and terminal services including on and off-port storage facilities to drive increased utilization of the maritime terminal infrastructure. Logistics services, intermodal connectivity, and use of on and off-port storage facilities combine to maximize cargo throughput. Patriot CEO John Fenton was recently appointed as CEO of the unified company and said "In our day-to-day service delivery we noted customers increasingly seeking bundled port and rail solutions. In the past DPH and Patriot have partnered in providing these solutions to our customers. The combining of the businesses will enable us to further enhance service delivery for our customers and offer more value-add transportation solutions." Mr. Fenton also added "The combination of DPH with the Patriot portfolio provides an exceptional opportunity for us to provide a coordinated and seamless suite of customized transportation and logistics solutions to rail and port customers. We are thrilled to add DPH to the Patriot team, and we look forward to the new and improved services options we will present to the marketplace." (Patriot Rail, Randy Kotuby- posted 9/11)

ENHANCED 53RD STREET R SUBWAY STATION OPENS IN SUNSET PARK: MTA New York City Transit today opened the new 53 Street R Station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn ahead of schedule. Completed in less than six months, the new station is the first of 33 to undergo extensive, accelerated renovations to create new and improved design standards for subway stations and undertake extensive renovations across the city. The 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. The new 53 Street station includes countdown clocks at each of its five entrances, enhanced LED lighting, WiFi connectivity, new digital displays throughout the station, USB ports, and an upgraded security system. In the fare control area, glass barriers have replaced metal bars, enhancing sightlines and allowing more light to enter the station. A pair of the station’s entrances feature new canopies. Other upgrades include wayfinding floor tiles for the visually-impaired, new handrails, stair treads, wall tiles, granite flooring, and light rail fixtures. The 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 and 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. "We got the job done quickly and efficiently. Our teams have worked day and night to complete work on this extensively renovated station in just a little over five months,” said Ronnie Hakim, Managing Director, MTA. “As a result customers who use the station will now have a wide array of new tools to manage their commutes, including digital screens, countdown clocks located before the turnstiles and on the platforms, USB ports, and Wi-Fi connectivity. And this is just the beginning – we look forward to opening additional enhanced stations at locations across the city."” The station also includes a new mosaic art installation from Mickalene Thomas, an internationally renowned Brooklyn artist. The collage-like design juxtaposes textile patterns with the imagery of plants found in New York, bringing the beauty of nature and domestic interiors into the station. A repeating geometric pattern of emanating concentric rings carries throughout the piece like a photo flash or solar flare. The mosaic was commissioned by MTA Arts & Design. The project was awarded on November 30, 2016 along with two other stations, Prospect Avenue Station and Bay Ridge Avenue Station, as part of a fast tracked design build project. In order to accelerate the project, The 53 Street Station was closed on March 27, 2017, giving the contractor the ability to complete the work in the shortest possible time frame. (MTA - posted 9/08)

HURRUCANE IRMA - NS STORM PREPARATION: Norfolk Southern is currently preparing for Hurricane Irma based on projections that show the storm will impact the Southeast Coastal areas. Traffic in route to the areas will be held at various yards throughout the Norfolk Southern system in an effort to alleviate congestion in the affected regions. Additionally, NS has issued embargoes for these locations. Norfolk Southern continues to monitor the storm closely and is taking precautions to protect employees, track, and shipments. In preparation NS Engineering is staging resources, including ballast trains, equipment, and generators, and will be prepared to commence storm recovery efforts once it is safe to do so. Norfolk Southern will be working with customers in these areas to identify switching needs and service curtailment. Customers with questions regarding local service should contact their Operations and Service Support, Unit Train, Automotive, or Intermodal representative. Ongoing updates will be provided as this storm system progresses over the weekend. (NS - posted 9/08)

CSX BEGINS OPERATIONS AS PITTSBURGH INTERMODAL RAIL TERMINAL: This week CSX began operations at its new Pittsburgh intermodal rail terminal, located in McKees Rocks, Penn. This facility provides shippers a new transportation option to move freight to and from western Pennsylvania, while enhancing their competitive advantages through greater connectivity to this major consumption market. “CSX is committed to serving the growing needs of our current intermodal customers and others who can benefit from the speed and efficiency of intermodal service,” said Fredrik Eliasson, CSX executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. “Our newest facility in Pittsburgh will connect southwestern Pennsylvania to markets across the country and around the world, while improving supply chain flows and reducing transportation costs.” The Pittsburgh intermodal terminal is the last key component of CSX’s National Gateway Initiative, an $850 million public-private partnership designed to create a highly efficient network of double-stack rail and intermodal terminals, connecting East Coast markets to consumers, manufacturers and businesses in the Midwest. Through the National Gateway Initiative, more than 95% of CSX’s intermodal network is now double-stack cleared, maximizing the potential efficiency of the service.
  • New Freight Connections The Pittsburgh facility occupies a 70-acre site that once served as the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie rail yard in Stowe Township and McKees Rocks Borough. Leveraging the strength of its hub-and-spoke intermodal network, CSX will connect Pittsburgh to more than 40 markets across North America, while offering truck-competitive services to maximize shipping options for its customers.
  • Shippers’ Advantages Transportation comprises an average 66 percent of a shipper’s total logistics cost. Optimizing the use of intermodal freight by rail on moves over 500 miles can result in cost savings of 15 percent or more. In addition, as the most fuel-efficient mode of freight transportation on land, shipping freight by rail enables significant emissions reductions while driving economic prosperity. Intermodal plays to the strengths of each mode of transportation, capitalizing on the efficiency of rail to complete the long-haul portion of a move, while trucks complete the first and last mile portions. Intermodal rail moves millions of truckloads of products that consumers and businesses use every day, including goods such as electronics, car parts, household appliances, groceries, clothing, toys and furniture. CSX intermodal terminals have proven track records of driving economic growth in regions where they are located. Since the site of the facility was announced in October 2013, the project has received broad-based support from local, county, state and federal level officials; economic development associations; community organizations and other stakeholders.
(CSX - posted 9/07)

HURRICANE IRMA - NS STORM PREPARATIONS: Norfolk Southern is currently preparing for Hurricane Irma based on projections that show the storm will impact the Southeast Coastal areas. Traffic in route to the areas will held at various yards throughout the Norfolk Southern system in an effort to alleviate congestion in the affected regions. Additionally, NS is issuing embargoes for the these locations. Norfolk Southern continues to monitor the storm closely and is taking precautions to protect employees, track, and shipments. In preparation NS Engineering is staging resources, including ballast trains, equipment, and generators, and will be prepared to commence storm recovery efforts once it is safe to do so. Norfolk Southern will be working with customers in these areas to identify switching needs and service curtailment. (CSX (NS - posted 9/07)

HURRICANE IRMA - AMTRAK SUSPENDS FLORIDA SERVICE: Amtrak will temporarily suspend services in Florida due to severe weather impacting the southeast region.
  • The Silver Star Train 92 and Silver Meteor Train 98 (Miami - New York City) are cancelled for Sept. 9 - 11.
  • The Silver Star Train 91 (New York City - Miami) will operate from New York City to Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Sept. 7. The Silver Meteor Train 97 (New York City - Miami) will operate from New York City to Jacksonville, Fla. Trains 91 and 97 are cancelled for Sept. 8 - 10.
  • The Auto Train 53 (Lorton, Va. - Sanford, Fla.) is cancelled for Friday, Sept.8, and Saturday, Sept. 9. The Auto Train 52 (Sanford, Fla. - Lorton, Va.) is cancelled on Sept. 9-11.
No alternate transportation will be provided. Amtrak regrets any inconvenience. This information is correct as of the above time and date. Information is subject to change as conditions warrant. Anyone can subscribe to automated email or text message notifications if Amtrak trains are behind schedule at specific stations. Notifications can be given for up to six trains and stations by either text or email and delivered when you choose - on a single day, every day, or just certain days of the week. Create a subscription at Amtrak.com/delayalerts. Passengers with travel plans also can confirm their train's status, change their plans or review refund information using a range of tools – including Amtrak.com, smartphone apps or by calling 800-USA-RAIL. Service Alerts, Passenger Notices and other announcements are posted at Amtrak.com/alerts To be notified of service disruptions on the Northeast Corridor (including Acela Express, Northeast Regional and other corridor services), follow @AmtrakNEC on Twitter. (Amtrak - posted 9/07)

CSX ACTIVATES HURRICANE OPERATIONAL PLAN FOR IRMA: CSX operations is continuing to monitor the path of Hurricane Irma and has made extensive preparations for the effects of the storm. The extent of the potential impact this system will have on CSX operations is not known at this time. Several regional operating departments are making tactical plan changes and curtailments to proactively minimize the impact of possible delays. At this time, please be advised that any shipment scheduled into the greater Miami, Fla. area today through the weekend will experience delays. Additionally, intermodal traffic destined to FEC locations will be temporarily discontinued starting at 1700 hours today until further notice. The Hurricane Action Plan includes, but is not limited to, the following precautions and actions:
  • Storm path monitoring has been initiated for locations in the storm’s projected path to determine any potential impacts and actions needed.
  • Precautions are being made to ensure equipment in the storm’s projected path and the surrounding areas is protected.
  • Engineering is actively preparing potentially impacted areas prior to the storm making landfall in the United States, including staging compressors, generators, ballast and work equipment.
  • The CSX Customer Service Center will remain open throughout the duration of the storm to answer calls and advise affected customers regarding potential re-routes and track re-openings that may become necessary.
During this process, the company’s priorities are the safety of employees, infrastructure and meeting the needs of customers. As necessary, more updates will be provided as impacts from the path and intensity of Hurricane Irma become known. (CSX - posted 9/07)

AMTRAK SERVICE TO ROANOKE TO COMMENCE SOON: The Amtrak Northeast Regional will serve the city of Roanoke, Va. (RNK), beginning Oct. 31. Tickets are now available to purchase for travel to and from the city in the Roanoke Valley nestled in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The train will stop in downtown Roanoke at a newly-constructed passenger platform with a canopy located at 55 Norfolk Ave., SW. Public parking facilities are available adjacent to the Roanoke station stop. The Northeast Regional will extend from Lynchburg and provide a same-seat trip to and from Roanoke. The train will stop in Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Culpepper, Manassas, Burke Centre, Alexandria, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and other cities along the Northeast Corridor. Customers will experience a comfortable and enjoyable way to travel on a national network serving more 500 destinations, and benefits such as no middle seat, and the ability to move about the train. The Northeast Regional features Coach and Business Class offering outlets for mobile devices, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The Café Car offers sandwiches, salads, snacks and hot and cold beverages, including a variety of wine, beer and soda. Amtrak has the friendliest baggage allowance in the travel industry. Customers can bring two bags and two carry-ons, collectively weighing up to 150 pounds, for free. Amtrak welcomes cats and dogs weighing 20 pounds or less for only $25. Make sure to bring the appropriate carrier. Some restrictions apply. Ticketing and reservations can be done on Amtrak.com, Amtrak mobile apps, or by calling 800-USA-Rail. Boarding documents can be self-printed, or customers using a smartphone or mobile device can present the eTicket to the conductor by opening a document in their email. Amtrak, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and the city of Roanoke partnered to bring intercity passenger rail service back to the city for the first time in four decades. (Amtrak - posted 9/07)

TRACK RENEWAL PROJECT SCHEDULED FOR PART OF SEPTA'S WEST PHILADELPHIA TROLLEY TRACKS: SEPTA will conduct a track renewal project on its trolley tracks located on Spruce Street between 38th and 40th Streets from September 18-October 1, 2017. This portion of track is SEPTA's trolley diversion route for Routes 11, 13, 34 and 36 and used when street closures and emergencies prevent trolleys from using their regular routing. The construction is not anticipated to affect service on Routes 11, 13, 34 and 36. Most of the track in this area was last replaced in the 1950s. The street structure supporting the tracks has deteriorated due to weather, traffic and the age of the road surface. SEPTA will excavate and replace approximately 1,100 track feet and repave the track area. The new track will result in reduced sound and vibration because the new rail is incased in an insulated rubber boot. The new and improved track components will make for a smoother and quieter ride. During the project, Spruce Street through lanes between 38th and 40th Streets will be closed to vehicular traffic, with the exception of emergency vehicles and trash pick-up. Parking will not be permitted in the area or adjacent to the tracks being reconstructed, however, exceptions will be made for those with special needs. Walking access for businesses will be arranged. Normal construction hours will be Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Weekend work may be required to maintain the project schedule (SEPTA - posted 9/07)

AMTRAK OVERHAULING INTERIOR OF MIDWEST AND NORTHEAST CORRIDOR TRAINS: Amtrak is investing in an extensive overhaul of its train interiors on more than a dozen popular services operating in the Northeast and Midwest aimed at introducing a more modern, more comfortable experience for customers. Beginning this month, Amtrak coach cars will begin to undergo a series of major improvements including brand new seat cushions throughout; new carpeting; new LED lighting; new flooring; upgraded wainscoting and bulkhead; new curtains in Business Class cars; and redesigned galleys in the café cars. The total investment is valued at more than $16 million. “Amtrak is committed to offering a premium customer experience and these modernized interior features are a marked improvement in the overall ambience on board,” said Wick Moorman, Amtrak Co-CEO. “The upgrades offer customers what they told us they want more of during their travels – a more comfortable, refreshed look and feel.” The overhaul will take place on equipment known as Amfleet I, which includes more than 450 Amtrak coach cars across the national network. Amfleet I equipment forms the backbone of many of our state corridor services, which have been the fastest growing segment of Amtrak’s business. The refresh will take approximately nine months to complete and customers can expect a progression of upgrades during that time, with the approximate delivery schedule: •Fall 2017: Installation of Business Class carpets and cushions, Coach Class carpets and cushions, LED lighting, upgraded restrooms. •Winter 2017: Continued installation of carpets, cushions, and LED lighting. First installations of Business Class curtains, refreshed wainscoting and bulkhead, and refreshed café cars. •Spring & Summer 2018: Final installations of all items. Amtrak schedules will not change due to the refresh. For a full list of train services that will be refreshed, please visit Amtrak.com/refresh (Amtrak - posted 9/07)

AMTRAK TO OPERATE SPECIAL FALL FOLIAGE EXCURSION TRAIN: The Amtrak Autumn Express excursion is back by popular demand for another year, operating Saturday, Oct. 14, and Sunday, Oct.15, from New York Penn Station for a trip through the Hudson River Valley. Passengers can join this historic train ride, view stunning scenery and experience rare mileage along a route that hasn’t seen regular passenger service in decades. This year’s Autumn Express will travel along one of the best rail journeys on the East Coast as it travels up and down the scenic Hudson River Valley. The excursion train will depart New York Penn Station, passing underneath the Hudson River and stopping in Newark, New Jersey to accept passengers and making a transition from electric to diesel power. After Newark, it will change directions and head toward Jersey City for a quick glimpse of the New York Harbor before heading north. It will arrive on the west bank of the Hudson River just below Haverstraw, where passenger trains have not run in decades. The train will pass such landmarks as Bear Mountain Bridge, Storm King Mountain, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Newburgh, and the Poughkeepsie Bridge. It will head inland, passing through Kingston and smaller communities like Catskill, Athens, and Ravena. After reversing direction again before crossing Hudson on the Alfred H. Smith Memorial Bridge at Castleton. Once over the bridge, it will descend down onto the Amtrak Hudson line for a scenic 112-mile run down the east shore of the Hudson River on the classic ex-NYC Water Level Route. Highlights include Hudson, Rhinecliff, Pollepel Island (Bannerman’s Castle), Break Neck Tunnel, and Peekskill. Finally, the Autumn Express will cross the Spuyten Duyvil moveable bridge and follow the Amtrak Empire Connection the final 12 miles to New York Penn Station. Tickets can be purchased starting Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 10.a.m. on Amtrak.com or by calling 800-USA-RAIL. Seating is limited. Tickets are $169 for adults. Children 2-12 ride for half price with each adult ticket. Customers also receive a boxed lunch, souvenir tote and complimentary lapel pin with the purchase of their ticket. Please note the Autumn Express train will also make a stop to receive passengers at Newark Penn Station but will not make this stop on the return trip. Passengers who wish to board in Newark will need to make return travel arrangements from New York Penn Station to Newark. (Amtrak - posted 9/07)

CSX REPORTS IMPROVED PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTING PRECISION SCHEDULED RAILROADING: CSX President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison today said, “CSX has made very good progress in the last 60 days in transitioning its operating model to Precision Scheduled Railroading, and I’m confident that many of the challenges we and our customers have recently faced are behind us. The CSX team of dedicated railroaders has worked tirelessly over the last few months to implement our new operating model and moved as quickly as possible to address customer issues when they arose.” “The railroad is now returning to a normal operating rhythm, and our performance metrics are improving,” Harrison added. “Fluidity in our terminals largely has been restored and we are appropriately resourced to continue making progress. Car dwell has improved from week to week for the last five weeks, and system-wide velocity is increasing. I am confident that as CSX continues to implement the Precision Scheduled Railroading model, it will provide profound and lasting benefits to customers, employees and shareholders.” This improvement and the company’s views will be described in greater detail by Frank Lonegro, CSX’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, at the Cowen and Company’s 10th Annual Global Transportation conference in Boston, Mass. As previously announced, Lonegro’s presentation, which will be webcast, is scheduled for today, Wednesday, September 6, at 8:35 a.m. Lonegro will outline certain operating and financial information, including (i) that the Company continues to expect free cash flow before dividends (excluding restructuring charges) of around $1.5 billion and record efficiency gains for 2017; (ii) that in light of various operating challenges in July and August 2017, the Company is refining its 2017 full-year guidance from an operating ratio in the mid-60s to an operating ratio around the high end of the mid-60s and earnings per share growth from around 25 percent to a range of 20-25 percent, in each case after excluding restructuring charges and (iii) that the Company has completed approximately $1.3 billion of its $1.5 billion authorized share repurchase program. (CSX - posted 9/06)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR AUGUST AND THE WEEKN ENDING SEPTEMBER 2, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 2, 2017, as well as volumes for August 2017, which was the best month in history for intermodal traffic. U.S. railroads originated 1,343,405 carloads in August 2017, decreased 0.3 percent, or 4,571 carloads, from August 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,401,081 containers and trailers in August 2017, up 5.6 percent, or 73,790 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in August 2017 were 2,744,486, up 2.6 percent, or 69,219 carloads and intermodal units, from August 2016. In August 2017, seven of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with August 2016. These included: coal, up 25,926 carloads or 5.8 percent; crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 14,506 carloads or 12.1 percent; and metallic ores, up 4,550 carloads or 16.1 percent. Commodities that saw declines in August 2017 from August 2016 included: grain, down 24,565 carloads or 20.4 percent; motor vehicles & parts, down 10,321 carloads or 11.2 percent; and petroleum & petroleum products, down 8,362 carloads or 15.8 percent. "Rail traffic in August was a mixed bag, with gains in coal and sand, among other commodities, offset by declines in grain, autos, and crude oil," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "These results reflect the fact that different rail customer segments are always facing different market dynamics, including, during the last week of August, Hurricane Harvey." Regarding Hurricane Harvey, Gray said, "Unfortunately, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes are a fact of life, and railroads have long experience dealing with them and their aftermath. Railroads know that the quicker they can safely restore service, the quicker affected communities can obtain food, water, and other necessities; that supplies needed for rebuilding can be brought in; that debris can be removed; and that rail customers can return their operations to normal. In this regard, for railroads there is no alternative to long hours of very hard work in very difficult conditions, and that's what railroads have been putting in." Excluding coal, carloads were down 30,497 carloads, or 3.4 percent, in August 2017 from August 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 5,932 carloads, or 0.8 percent. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first eight months of 2017 was 9,062,097 carloads, up 4.5 percent, or 393,428 carloads, from the same period last year; and 9,352,108 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent, or 309,302 containers and trailers, from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 35 weeks of 2017 was 18,414,205 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4 percent compared to last year. Week Ending September 2, 2017 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 534,140 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending September 2 were 257,077 carloads, down 5.9 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 277,063 containers and trailers, up 4.2 percent compared to 2016. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They were coal, up 4,017 carloads, to 94,510; nonmetallic minerals, up 941 carloads, to 36,696; and metallic ores and metals, up 878 carloads, to 23,028. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included chemicals, down 6,756 carloads, to 24,993; grain, down 6,249 carloads, to 18,206; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 3,146 carloads, to 7,640. North American rail volume for the week ending September 2, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 355,608 carloads, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 358,874 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 714,482 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 35 weeks of 2017 was 24,389,083 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.3 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 82,422 carloads for the week, up 9.5 percent, and 69,939 intermodal units, up 10 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 35 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,024,458 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,109 carloads for the week, up 14.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,872 intermodal units, down 0.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 35 weeks of 2017 was 950,420 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 9/06)

SEACOR AND GENESEE & WYOMING FORM JOINT VENTURE TO OWN AND OPERATE RAIL FERRY SERVICE, CG RAILWAY BETWEEN U.S. AND MEXICO: SEACOR Holdings Inc. (SEACOR) and Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) today announced the formation of a 50/50 joint venture to own and operate CG Railway, LLC (CGR), a subsidiary of SEACOR recently acquired through its acquisition of International Shipholding Corporation. Terms of the joint venture were not disclosed. CGR operates a freight railroad providing four-day rail ferry service between the ports of Mobile, Alabama, and Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. The rail ferry presents a faster and more cost-effective alternative to the traditional land route between the southeast U.S. and southeast Mexico. The joint venture plans to immediately invest in the existing rail ferry vessels to enhance service reliability. Established in 2001, Amtrak to operate special excursion train; Tickets on sale Sept. 12 currently transports approximately 10,000 annual carloads of commodities such as chemicals & plastics, fructose & refined sugar, steel and pulp & paper. The CGR business is comprised of:
  • a U.S. Class III freight railroad that connects in Mobile with G&W’s Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway (AGR), BNSF (via AGR), Canadian National (CN), CSX, Kansas City Southern (via CN) and Norfolk Southern and connects in Coatzacoalcos with Ferrosur, the railroad serving central and southern Mexico;
  • two 585’ roll-on/roll-off rail ferries, each with the capacity to transport approximately 115 railcars per voyage;
  • Long-term agreements to operate purpose-built rail ferry terminals in the ports of Mobile and Coatzacoalcos;
  • a 10,000-square-foot, food-grade, truck-to-rail transload facility and a railcar repair shop both located in Mobile.
“We are committed to improve the rail ferry’s on-time performance by leveraging SEACOR’s expertise in marine operations,” says CGR Senior Vice President Kevin Wild. “Combining reliable service with the cost efficiency of short sea shipping and the 50% shorter transit time versus land routes, we create a compelling alternative for customers moving goods between the eastern U.S. and Canada to and from central and southern Mexico.” “CGR creates a natural extension of our rail services to reach the rapidly growing market in central and southern Mexico,” says G&W Chief Commercial Officer Michael Miller. “We look forward to working with Ferrosur and Ferromex to expand the current customer base. Since G&W’s short line railroads maintain close commercial relationships with customers and connecting Class I railroads across the southeastern U.S., we also look forward to offering a more direct option for these shippers and others east of the Mississippi to reach central and southern Mexico.” (Genesee & Wyoming Inc., SEACOR Holdings Inc. - posted 9/05)

AMTRAK COMPLETES ACCELERATED RENEWAL WORK AT NEW YORK PENN STATION: Amtrak engineering forces have completed the summer infrastructure renewal work at New York Penn Station, allowing for regularly scheduled operations to resume Tuesday, Sept. 5. “This accelerated work was an enormous undertaking. We did it on time, on budget, and most importantly, safely,” said Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman. “We thank passengers for their patience and flexibility, and our commuter partners, local governments and the states for their collaboration this summer. This summer’s work and support from our partners will result in greater reliability in the future. I also want to specifically thank all of the Amtrak employees who were involved in this massive project. Without their skill, dedication and hard work, none of what we do would be possible.” This summer’s work focused on “A Interlocking,” the critical sorting mechanism routing incoming and outgoing trains that enter and exit Penn Station from the Hudson River tunnel and the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) West Side Yard to the various station tracks and platforms. The work in A interlocking included total track and switch replacement that will improve the reliability of train service through this area in Penn Station. In total, approximately 360 dedicated Amtrak employees worked around-the-clock to install 897 track ties, 1,100 ft. of rails (or six football fields worth of track), 1000 tons of ballast, 7 turnouts (switches), 4 complex diamond crossings, and 176 yards of concrete. “As we mark the conclusion of this intense two-month work period, we must remind everyone that much more work remains and that rebuilding our infrastructure is a continuous process. We have more work planned throughout the fall, winter and into next year to improve other areas of track within New York Penn Station. Most of this work will be handled during our normal weekend maintenance periods and should not have major impacts to service levels,” said Moorman. “Now we need continued investment from the federal government, our railroad partners, and the states to help us make the necessary improvements to infrastructure at Penn Station and all along the entire Northeast Corridor.” This renewal work 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 Acela Lounge in Amtrak’s concourses are underway. New Acela trainsets that will provide more frequency and smoother rides will enter service starting in 2021. Passengers will see refreshed Northeast Regional coaches with new seats, carpet, improved lighting and other enhancements later this fall and in 2018, pulled by our new electric locomotive fleet. The much anticipated construction of the Moynihan Train Hall is now underway and key projects of the Gateway Program to preserve and expand rail capacity into New York City are ready to begin construction. Regularly scheduled services including all previously announced modified routes at New York Penn Station as well as Empire Service trains, which will be returning to Penn Station for all arrivals and departures, will resume Tuesday, Sept. 5, with the exception of the Crescent, which will resume regular operations between New York and New Orleans Saturday, Sept. 2 (Amtrak - posted 9/04)

AMTRAK PREPARES DIESEL FLEET FOR POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL: Amtrak plans to equip approximately 310 locomotives to operate using positive train control (PTC) technology and comply with that federal requirement by Dec. 31, 2018. PTC can manage train movements to prevent train-to-train collisions, excessive speed and certain other human-caused incidents such as misaligned track switches. This equipment will be installed on Amtrak-owned diesel locomotives that primarily operate on national Amtrak network and state-sponsored routes in the east and midwest. When used in conjunction with a railroad’s PTC infrastructure, these systems can increase in safety and reliability. “PTC is a set of highly advanced technologies designed to enhance rail transportation safety by automatically stopping a train before certain types of incidents occur,” said George Hartman, Senior Manager of Positive Train Control at Amtrak. “We are dedicated to ensuring our locomotives are enabled with this important safety technology.” Amtrak is a leader in the deployment and use of positive train control. In December 2015, Amtrak activated PTC on our busiest route, between New York and Washington, D.C., completing installation on most Amtrak-owned infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor. PTC has been installed between Boston and New Haven since 2000 and since 2002 along the 97 miles of track we own in Michigan and Indiana. In early 2016, Amtrak activated PTC on our 104-mile Harrisburg Line. Installation and maintenance of PTC is the responsibility of the railroad that controls the track. Amtrak has signed an agreement with Rockwell Collins to implement the company’s ARINC RailwayNet? service, a hosted network, messaging and application platform, designed to meet the PTC requirements mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, as amended. This service will allow the Amtrak fleet to interface with the PTC systems of other railroads when using their tracks for our trains. Under the agreement, Rockwell Collins will initialize the Amtrak fleet to run on 19 different railroads, including commuter and freight routes that host Amtrak services. (Amtrak - posted 9/04)

METRO-NORTH TO COMMENCE COMPREHENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE PORT JERVIS LINE: MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that to ensure the on-going reliability and safety of the Port Jervis Line, crews will make infrastructure improvements between Port Jervis and Harriman starting on September 11 and continuing until the late fall. During this period, Metro-North crews will make extensive improvements to the Port Jervis Line. This work includes performing structural repairs at the Moodna and Woodbury Viaducts, as well as removing the defunct overhead bridge at Day Road in Campbell Hall so that the town can establish formal culs-de-sac on either end. Crews will undertake an important rock slope remediation project, inspecting and reinforcing the rock slopes adjacent to the tracks between Port Jervis and Harriman to ensure that they’re free of any loose rocks and brush that could fall on to the tracks and cause delays. Elsewhere along the Line, crews will install ties, weld tracks and paint stations. As a result of these improvements, substitute busing will be in effect for weekday, off-peak trains between Port Jervis and Harriman beginning on September 11 and continuing for several weeks. (MTA - posted 9/04)

PATH RETURNING TO NORMAL WEEKDAY SCHEDULE AND SERVICE STARTING TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, WITH COMPLETION OF AMTRAK NEW YORK PENN STATION SUMMER WORK: Cross-honoring of NJT riders affected by the Penn Station project will end Saturday, September 2 at 3 a.m. PATH service will return to normal weekday operations starting next Tuesday, September 5, with the resumption of Midtown Direct service for NJ Transit riders to New York Penn Station on the Morris & Essex line. PATH will no longer be cross-honoring affected NJT passengers who have been using PATH’s Hoboken, 33rd Street and World Trade Center stations since the Penn Station work began July 10. The cross-honoring arrangement in place during the infrastructure renewal project will end officially at 3 a.m. Saturday, September 2. PATH had been adding four trains per hour from Hoboken to 33rd Street during peak morning and evening travel periods, as well as additional staff and police personnel, to accommodate an average weekday increase of about 23,600 riders. (PANYNJ- posted 9/04)

MBTA NEWBURYPORT/ROCKPORT COMMUTER RAIL LINE WEEKEND SERVICE TO RESUME SEPT. 2: The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services (KCS) announced that weekend service on the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line will resume September 2. This train route that services the Northshore was temporarily shut down on weekends for the installation of positive train control (PTC), which impacted passengers from Salem to Newburyport/Rockport and finished five weeks ahead of schedule. MBTA and KCS officials took advantage of the service suspension by performing a long list of maintenance, safety and infrastructure repair projects, including new track and grade crossings and other upgrades. With the PTC installation finishing ahead of schedule, rail between Rockport and Gloucester was not replaced due to the shortened time period. This rail replacement project impacts a four-mile stretch of track in a smaller and more isolated section compared to the PTC work that took place from Newburyport/Rockport to Salem. Holding this project for this separate time period allows service along these lines to resume ahead of schedule, returning commuter rail service to thousands of daily passengers. Commuter rail officials estimate that the combined ridership between Rockport and Gloucester on these eight off-peak trains is approximately 80 - 90 passengers each day. Starting Monday, August 28, off-peak passengers traveling between Rockport and Gloucester will be bussed to and from these two stations for a five-week period. Off-peak passengers traveling to or from stops on the Rockport Line between Boston’s North Station and West Gloucester may experience minimal delays along this route. LED signs at stations and other commuter rail communications will keep passengers up to date should delays occur. (MBTA - posted 8/31)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 26, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending August 26, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 551,776 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending August 26 were 272,153 carloads, up 1 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,623 containers and trailers, up 3.6 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 4,756 carloads, to 96,317; metallic ores and metals, up 2,467 carloads, to 23,941; and nonmetallic minerals, up 2,444 carloads, to 39,999. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included motor vehicles and parts, down 3,237 carloads, to 16,156; grain, down 1,845 carloads, to 19,881; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,532 carloads, to 14,926. For the first 34 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,805,020 carloads, up 4.9 percent from the same point last year; and 9,075,045 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 34 weeks of 2017 was 17,880,065 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending August 26, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 371,895 carloads, up 4.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 363,257 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 735,152 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 34 weeks of 2017 was 23,674,601 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 82,484 carloads for the week, up 15.2 percent, and 71,079 intermodal units, up 10.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 34 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,872,097 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,258 carloads for the week, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,555 intermodal units, up 10.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 34 weeks of 2017 was 922,439 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.3 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/30)

FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY RECEIVES ENVIRONMENTAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) has received the 2017 Environmental Achievement Award from the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board (EPB) for pioneering the use of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) as a locomotive fuel. “LNG is a cleaner and more efficient fuel source that reduces greenhouse gases and lowers our overall carbon footprint,” explains Fran Chinnici, Senior Vice President Engineering, Mechanical and Purchasing. “We have markedly reduced the CO2, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide from the environment of the communities we serve along the Atlantic Coast from Jacksonville to Miami,” he continued. Due to the availability, reduced cost and environmental advantages, the transportation industry is interested in natural gas. Many trucking and transport companies are already using natural gas as a fuel. FEC will be the first North American railroad to convert its entire mainline locomotive fleet to operate primarily on natural gas. “FEC worked in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration to help advance the use of cleaner natural gas for the entire railroad industry,” says Chinnici. “The natural gas is carried in a safe, portable liquid form called LNG (liquefied natural gas), such as being used by marine vessels and highway transportation.” FEC purchased 24 new GE ES44C4 locomotives for conversion to LNG in November 2014. These locomotives are LNG-diesel ‘dual-fuel’ capable, 4400 HP Tier 3 emissions compliant and will replace FEC’s entire mainline thru-haul fleet operating from Jacksonville to Miami by end of 2017. These new GE locomotives provide technology for added efficiency benefits such as Smart HPT, which optimizes locomotive utilization, and Automatic Start/Stop for to shut down engines not being used to further reduce locomotive fuel consumption. “We are very honored to receive this recognition and embrace the continued support of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board, which has been instrumental with improvements for our environment and community,” said Jim Hertwig, President and CEO. "Florida East Coast Railway has always been in the forefront of technology innovation in the rail industry. As a result of our LNG initiative, our freight customers can now select a cleaner way to move their products to market and gain the benefits of a more sustainable cleaner environment.” The award will be presented during the 2017 EPB and UNF Environmental Symposium, which will be held at the Adam Herbert University Center on the campus of UNF September 15, 2017. (FEC - posted 8/29)

SIEMENS CHARGER LOCOMOTIVES UNVEILED WITH AMTRAK MIDWEST LOGO: New locomotives are now serving Amtrak customers in Illinois and Wisconsin, with the U.S.-built, Midwest-powered, Amtrak-maintained units slated to operate on state-sponsored services in the region. These Siemens Charger locomotives will please customers with enhanced smoothness, speed capability and safety features – along with reduced exhaust emissions. They carry the new Amtrak MidwestSM logo to promote the five-state network of connecting trains with a robust reservations system, eTicketing and mobile apps; AmtrakConnectSM cellular-based Wi-Fi; and the Amtrak Guest Rewards® program. After deliveries are completed, these 33 locomotives will be deployed from Chicago on trains that served more than 2.6 million Amtrak customers in the last year: Lincoln Service, Illini/Saluki and Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg to and from Downstate Illinois; Hiawatha Service in Illinois and Wisconsin; Wolverine Service/Blue Water/Pere Marquette to and from Michigan; and Missouri River Runner between Kansas City and St. Louis. The first Amtrak Midwest locomotive was unveiled at a news conference today at Chicago Union Station. “Our individual Amtrak Midwest routes are made even stronger by being part of a network of connecting trains, stations, and reservation systems, which are a product of our state partners working together under the Amtrak umbrella,” said Michael Franke, Amtrak Senior Director – State Contracts. “These locomotives will power the Amtrak Midwest brand, bringing even better service to our customers.” “We are proud to have led the effort to bring these attractive, modern locomotives to Illinois and our other state partners,” said Randy Blankenhorn, Illinois Transportation Secretary. “Passenger rail customers will benefit the most by enjoying a ride that’s more reliable and more comfortable as they travel between our state’s great communities, institutions and attractions.” “We look forward to the improved efficiency and reliability that the Siemens Charger locomotives bring to intercity passenger rail services across the Midwest,” said David Simon, Director of the Bureau of Transit, Local Roads, Railroads, and Harbors at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. “This procurement with partnering Midwest states has shown we can work together for a common goal,” said Tim Hoeffner, Director, Michigan Department of Transportation Office of Rail. “In the coming weeks, Michigan will begin the replacement of older engines with brand new, high-tech locomotives operating on all of our passenger rail corridors, which will complement our 110-mph service.” “Missouri is proud to be a partner welcoming safer, cleaner, faster and better locomotives to the Amtrak Midwest fleet,” said Michelle Teel, Multimodal Operations Director for the Missouri Department of Transportation. “Missouri River Runner passengers will benefit from improved performance when the locomotives go into operation soon between St. Louis and Kansas City.” Manufactured by Siemens at its 1,000-person rail manufacturing hub in Sacramento, Calif., the new fleet offers numerous advantages, such as lower maintenance costs, reduced fuel consumption and quieter operation. “We’re building these locomotives in California, for the U.S., bringing the latest technologies to life for riders,” said Armin Kick, Siemens Mobility Vice President for Locomotives. “These are among the nation’s cleanest locomotives and we’re proud to have not only worked closely with Amtrak and the state DOTs to bring these to the Midwest, but also our robust chain of suppliers from across the country.” Powered by a Midwest-made 4,400 horsepower Cummins QSK95 diesel engine, the locomotives will be able to operate at speeds up to 125 mph, with faster acceleration and braking for better on-time reliability. They meet the latest safety regulations and feature better traction for improved performance. They also are the first higher-speed passenger locomotives to meet the highest federal environmental standards, meaning a 90 percent reduction in emissions and a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 16% compared to the previous locomotives. Purchased through $216.5 million in federal funds, the locomotives are just one part of a larger effort to improve passenger rail service in Illinois and the Midwest. (Amtrak - posted 8/28)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCES $900 MILLION FOR MARYLAND PURPLE LINE PROJECT: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced a $900 million federal grant agreement for the Maryland Purple Line Light Rail Project. The light rail line will make travel across Montgomery and Prince George’s counties faster and more reliable for thousands of Maryland residents, improving access to major business and activity centers in the state’s most populated counties. “The Purple Line is a great example of what can be achieved when federal, state and private partners work together,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “Combining U.S. Department of Transportation resources with private funds, this project is well on its way to transforming public transit in urban Maryland.” Secretary Chao made the announcement during a ceremony today to commit the funds with Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD), representatives from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Maryland Transit Administration and other local officials. “The Maryland Purple Line project is an excellent example of leveraging a transit project through a public-private partnership,” continued Secretary Chao. “P3s hold great potential for revitalizing our infrastructure and demonstrate how communities’ projects can benefit through access to additional funding resources which can accelerate project delivery and provide greater innovation.” The 16.2-mile Maryland Purple Line will connect major activity centers in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma-Langley Park, College Park, and New Carrollton to three Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rail lines, all three Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail lines and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor line. Although the project will provide direct connections with Metrorail and MARC, it will remain physically and operationally separate. When completed, the line will make suburb-to-suburb cross-county travel easier and faster. “We applaud Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the State of Maryland for their vision and support to build a safe, efficient and connected transportation network that will give nearly two million residents a new convenient and reliable alternative to traffic congestion in the Washington region,” said FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. “The Maryland Purple Line will create a fast and efficient connection for its residents as well as a strong foundation for strategic development along the corridor.” The project includes the construction of 21 stations, two vehicle and maintenance storage yards with shop facilities and the procurement of 25 articulated light-rail vehicles. In addition to the $900 million Full Funding Grant Agreement from FTA’s Capital Investment Grants Program, USDOT announced in June 2016, a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan of $874.6 million to Purple Line Transit Partners, LLC, for construction of the Maryland Purple Line. Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials signed the $5.6 billion P3 contract in March 2016 with the Purple Line Transit Partners to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the 16.2-mile light rail system. MDOT will be the owner of the project and its selected private partner, Purple Line Transit Partners, will implement the project on a design-build-finance-operate-maintain basis. (USDOT - posted 8/28)

CHICAGO SOUTH SHORE ADDS 100 COVERED STEEL COIL CARS FOR ARCELORMITTAL: Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad this week added 100 covered steel coil cars to support the shipping needs of ArcelorMittal, South Shore’s largest customer, located in Burns Harbor, Indiana. The 100-ton capacity cars are being leased from CIT Rail. Noting coil cars are in tight supply, South Shore turned to the railcar market to obtain this specialized equipment. Greg Dougherty, CSS director of sales and marketing, added, “South Shore and ArcelorMittal share a business partnership that has been going strong for more than a decade. Adding equipment to support our biggest customer was the right and timely decision.” (Anacostia Pacific - posted 8/28)

NJ TRANSIT PREPARES FOR FULL RESTORATION OF PSNY SERVICE SEPTEMBER 5: NJ TRANSIT plans to restore full service at Penn Station New York (PSNY) on Tuesday, September 5th following confirmation by Amtrak today that Phase One of their track renewal project has concluded. As a result, all Morris & Essex Lines (M&E) Midtown Direct trains will resume service to and from PSNY and will no longer be diverted to Hoboken. North Jersey Coast Line trains also will resume operating into Hoboken Terminal. “I want to thank our customers for their patience and flexibility during the summer months,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “While many had to adjust their personal schedules, we tried to provide them with enough options and support to make the transition as smooth as possible. We also monitored travel patterns throughout the summer and made service adjustments as needed.” New NJ TRANSIT weekday rail schedules will take effect Tuesday, September 5th, following a two-month modified service plan that enabled Amtrak to complete a series of major infrastructure projects aimed at improving reliability and safety at PSNY. With the anticipated resumption of full service at PSNY, NJ TRANSIT’s alternate travel options, discounted fares and cross-honoring will conclude. Morning peak-period express buses from Morristown, Madison, Summit, Maplewood, South Orange and Newark Broad Street to the Port Authority Bus Terminal will no longer operate. Cross-honoring with private bus carriers, PATH and NY Waterway will end on Saturday, September 2nd at 3 a.m. NY Waterway’s new ferry service between Hoboken and West 39th Street in NY which was operated at the request of NJ TRANSIT, will continue to operate after full service is restored at PSNY and be available to the general public. It is important to note this ferry service will no longer cross-honor NJ TRANSIT rail tickets and passes after September 1st. All NJ TRANSIT rail customers are strongly advised to check the new schedules for specific departure times and station stops. “I also want to thank our transportation partners – particularly PATH and New York Waterway, communities, elected officials and countless NJ TRANSIT employees who helped to make the service plan work as smoothly as it did,” added Executive Director Santoro. To assist customers during the summer schedule, NJ TRANSIT installed new LED pilot screens at Hoboken Terminal that display every station served by trains at Hoboken in alphabetical order, along with the time of the next scheduled train to each station and the track number assigned to that train when it is available. This sign will remain in place, bringing long-term benefits for all Hoboken customers. Following feedback, NJ TRANSIT will look to procure a permanent sign that is weather-resistant. As a reminder, all fare discounts, substitute and enhanced bus services, as well as cross-honoring on bus, rail, light rail, PATH and NY Waterway ferry services in effect during the modified schedule between July 10 and September 1 is expected to end at 3:00 a.m. Saturday, September 2nd. Additionally, new weekday rail schedules are expected to take effect Tuesday, September 5th. (NJ Transit - posted 8/24)

AMTRAK WINTER PARK EXPRESS 2018 TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE: Coming off a highly successful inaugural season, tickets for the Amtrak Winter Park Express passenger train service from Denver Union Station to the slopes of Winter Park Resort are on sale now at Amtrak.com/WinterParkExpress . The 2018 season will also feature some additions to the service, including three “First Friday” round-trips, a reduced fare of $29 each way on some departures. The 2018 Amtrak Winter Park Express schedule begins on Friday, Jan. 5, and the train will run each Saturday and Sunday through March 25. The service will also include round-trips on two more “First Fridays,” Feb. 2 and March 2, to satisfy requests from the Denver business community for more opportunities for corporate groups. Customers can choose up to 27 round-trips, an increase from 2017, with 500+ riders on each train enjoying a comfortable and scenic ride on an historic route through the Moffat Tunnel, avoiding aggravating stop-and-go ski traffic on I-70 and U.S. 40. Also added in the coming season is a reduced ticket price, enabling guests to experience the fun and convenience multiple times a season. Adult tickets now start as low $29 each way on select departures and are on sale now. Children ages 2-12 can still ride for half-fare with each ticketed adult. Amtrak and Winter Park Resort have also made it easier than ever before to book group travel by calling 800-USA-1GRP and having an entire train/ski package – including lodging – crafted by resort representatives and Amtrak. The Amtrak Winter Park Express trains will again depart Denver Union Station at 7:00 a.m. and arrive at the resort at approximately 9:00 a.m., leaving Winter Park at 4:30 p.m.to return to Denver at 6:40 p.m. All times Mountain. The station is served by the Denver’s Regional Transportation District’s commuter trains to Denver International Airport, light rail, local or intercity buses and Lyft, the new national partner of Amtrak, which is offering a discount for new users’ first four rides and rideshare requests directly from Amtrak mobile apps. The expanded Winter Park Express service is one of several improvements at Winter Park Resort for the 2017-18 season designed to increase convenience for guests, including a new retail location and major renovation of the resort’s primary rental shop, various snowmaking and grooming improvements, and a new traverse enabling easier access to the Mary Jane side of the resort from Winter Park. The full suite of 2017-18 Winter Park passes are on sale now for the lowest prices of the season, but prices will be going up soon. Passes are also available at Christy Sports Powder Daze beginning this weekend. Questions about the resort and its many features can be answered directly by Winter Park Resort by calling 888-923-7275. The seasonal Amtrak Winter Park Express continues to share this route with the daily Amtrak California Zephyr service, which stops in nearby Fraser, Colo., and operates during this period over its full schedule between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay, via Denver. (Amtrak - posted 8/24)

RTA CELEBRATE COMPLETION OF THE NEW BROOKPARK STATION: The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) celebrated the completion of the newly renovated Brookpark Station on the Red Line with a ribbon cutting today. The $16.5 million project began in 2015 and involved a complex new structure, including a new tunnel under the existing RTA and freight railroad tracks that connects the east and west entrances. “The station is now modern, accessible, convenient, safe and first class,” said RTA CEO and General Manager, Joe Calabrese, who was joined by RTA Board President George Dixon; Cleveland City Councilman Martin Keane; Brook Park Mayor and former RTA Board member Thomas Coyne; and Federal Transit Administration's Nichole Neal. “Our customers love that this station is big, it’s bright, and has an open feel, they love the use of glass and bright lights, and they truly appreciate the amenities. “No doubt that the changes we made here make it easier for our 6 million Red Line rail customers to get where they need to go,” Calabrese said. RTA serves more than 750,000 customers each year at Brookpark, and it is RTA’s busiest station for daily commuters. “It’s also busy for special events, because of the convenient location and quick access to Downtown,” Calabrese said. "It has become one of our customers' favorite places to park and board the Red Line to head Downtown to see the Indians, Cavs and the Browns, or to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The ride on the Red Line has definitely become part of the fun of attending an event Downtown.” In fact, 200 trains each day arrive and depart from the station, and draw more customers from around the region than any other rail station. Customers come not just from Cuyahoga County, but from Lorain and Medina counties, as well. “We made sure that this station has ample parking to serve all those customers,” he said. As part of the renovation, RTA is currently resurfacing the west lot, and crews renovated the east lot prior to construction. In total, the Brookpark Station provides 1,300 parking spaces. The Brookpark Station is the second last West Side stop on the Red Line, just before the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Station. It is located on the border of the City of Cleveland and the City of Brook Park. (RTA - posted 8/24)

RTA CELEBRATE COMPLETION OF THE NEW BROOKPARK STATION: The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) celebrated the completion of the newly renovated Brookpark Station on the Red Line with a ribbon cutting today. The $16.5 million project began in 2015 and involved a complex new structure, including a new tunnel under the existing RTA and freight railroad tracks that connects the east and west entrances. “The station is now modern, accessible, convenient, safe and first class,” said RTA CEO and General Manager, Joe Calabrese, who was joined by RTA Board President George Dixon; Cleveland City Councilman Martin Keane; Brook Park Mayor and former RTA Board member Thomas Coyne; and Federal Transit Administration's Nichole Neal. “Our customers love that this station is big, it’s bright, and has an open feel, they love the use of glass and bright lights, and they truly appreciate the amenities. “No doubt that the changes we made here make it easier for our 6 million Red Line rail customers to get where they need to go,” Calabrese said. RTA serves more than 750,000 customers each year at Brookpark, and it is RTA’s busiest station for daily commuters. “It’s also busy for special events, because of the convenient location and quick access to Downtown,” Calabrese said. "It has become one of our customers' favorite places to park and board the Red Line to head Downtown to see the Indians, Cavs and the Browns, or to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The ride on the Red Line has definitely become part of the fun of attending an event Downtown.” In fact, 200 trains each day arrive and depart from the station, and draw more customers from around the region than any other rail station. Customers come not just from Cuyahoga County, but from Lorain and Medina counties, as well. “We made sure that this station has ample parking to serve all those customers,” he said. As part of the renovation, RTA is currently resurfacing the west lot, and crews renovated the east lot prior to construction. In total, the Brookpark Station provides 1,300 parking spaces. The Brookpark Station is the second last West Side stop on the Red Line, just before the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Station. It is located on the border of the City of Cleveland and the City of Brook Park. (RTA - posted 8/24)

AMTRAK LAUNCHES NEW THRUWAY BUS CONNECTIONS FROM NEW YORK CITY AND PHILADELPHIA: Amtrak now provides expanded Thruway bus service between New York City and Philadelphia to destinations throughout the Lehigh Valley and southern Pennsylvania. Customers now have more convenient and affordable travel options from more than a dozen new locations including Kutztown, Allentown, Quakertown, Bethlehem and to Philadelphia 30th Street Station. Bieber Tourways, an intercity motor coach operator based in Pennsylvania, provides transportation throughout Pennsylvania and to New York City. Amtrak Thruway services make coordinated connections with trains and enable passengers to use other carriers to connect with the Amtrak national network from cities without rail stations. Customers can purchase tickets using Amtrak eTicketing, at a staffed station or at a Quik-TrakSM kiosk. Passengers can also book online on Amtrak.com, use one of its mobile apps, or call-800-USA-RAIL. TEXT (Amtrak - posted 8/24)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 19, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending August 19, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 554,021 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending August 19 were 271,675 carloads, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 282,346 containers and trailers, up 8.2 percent compared to 2016. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included coal, up 8,391 carloads, to 97,873; nonmetallic minerals, up 3,220 carloads, to 40,109; and metallic ores and metals, up 2,173 carloads, to 23,580. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 7,031 carloads, to 17,913; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,346 carloads, to 16,626; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,575 carloads, to 9,357. For the first 33 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,531,930 carloads, up 5 percent from the same point last year; and 8,795,422 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 33 weeks of 2017 was 17,327,352 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending August 19, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 365,373 carloads, up 2.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 366,508 intermodal units, up 9.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 731,881 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 33 weeks of 2017 was 22,938,512 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 78,029 carloads for the week, up 10.3 percent, and 71,726 intermodal units, up 14.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 33 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,718,534 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,669 carloads for the week, down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,436 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 33 weeks of 2017 was 892,626 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, remaining essentially flat compared to the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/23)

KNOXVILLE LOCOMOTIVE WORKS TIER 4 COMPLIANT LOCOMOTIVES: Knoxville Locomotive Works (KLW), an original equipment manufacturer of switcher and road-switcher locomotives, was recently awarded EPA Tier 4 emissions certifications for its SE Series four and six axle locomotive designs. The Tier 4 certifications include the switch duty cycle for KLW models rated at 2000, 2200 and 2300 bhp and the line haul duty cycle for KLW models rated at 2400 through 3200 bhp. KLW is the only freight locomotive manufacturer to have achieved Tier 4 switch and line haul certifications in this broad range of horsepower classifications with single engine prime movers. "KLW's strategy was to assimilate a team of industry experts and supplier resources capable of advancing to the stringent requirements of Tier 4 locomotive air quality standards. These locomotives use DEF at a rate of less than 2.5% per gallon of diesel fuel while delivering significantly improved fuel savings and tractive effort versus their conventional locomotive counterparts," said Knoxville Locomotive Works' Chairman Pete Claussen (KLW - posted 8/23)

CSX REVISES SERVICE METRICS TO BETTER REFLECT PERFORMANCE: CSX has revised the way it calculates three key service metrics – Train Velocity, Terminal Dwell and Cars Online – to more accurately reflect the company’s operational performance. “CSX is transitioning to Precision Scheduled Railroading, which focuses heavily on service to customers and asset utilization,” said E. Hunter Harrison, CSX president and chief executive officer. “These revised service metrics give us a more accurate understanding of how we are performing and where there are additional opportunities for improvement. That clarity is essential to achieving our highest potential performance, which will benefit our customers, our employees and our shareholders.” CSX’s revised metrics, which are available on the company’s website, are defined as follows:
  • Train velocity – CSX’s new definition has been revised to include a train’s end-to-end time, and accordingly, speed. The previous definition only counted time on line of road, and excluded intermediate dwell time for crew changes, freight car pick-up or set-off, or other work events at an intermediate yard. The updated definition includes intermediate dwell, reflecting the true speed of a train from origin to destination, and will help identify all opportunities to move trains faster and more reliably from origin to destination. The inclusion of additional time in train velocity has the effect of reducing speed when compared to the prior methodology.
  • Terminal dwell – CSX’s new definition has been expanded to include all car dwell time encountered on an end-to-end trip. The previous definition excluded the amount of time a car spent at a terminal during an intermediate work event if it arrived and departed on the same train. The updated definition includes intermediate car dwell for terminal work events when a car arrives and departs on the same train. This change more accurately reflects all time that a car dwells, and will help identify opportunities to improve asset utilization. The inclusion of these additional dwell events has the effect of reducing terminal dwell when compared to the prior methodology, as intermediate dwell on the same train is often less than dwell events on cars that change trains, which reduces overall average dwell time.
  • Cars online – CSX’s new definition measures the number of active freight rail cars on rail lines operated by CSX. The previous definition included all cars that were last reported on a line operated by CSX, which counted several categories of inactive freight rail cars, including cars that are being repaired, are in storage, have been sold, or are private cars dwelling at a customer location for more than one day. The exclusion of these inactive car categories enables focus on movement and utilization of active cars on the system. As inactive cars become active again, they will be included in the active cars online count. The exclusion of inactive cars has the effect of reducing the number of cars online when compared to the prior methodology.
To assist users in analyzing the company’s historic performance, CSX has restated 2016 and 2017 train velocity and terminal dwell performance data using the new definitions and is making that data along with 2017 cars online data available on its website, www.csx.com/servicemetrics Please note that CSX’s new metrics differ from data reported by other U.S. railroads, and are not directly comparable. “These new measures better reflect end-to-end railroad performance,” said Harrison. “We remain committed to meeting our customers’ business requirements throughout the transition to Precision Scheduled Railroading and into the future.” CSX will continue its required reporting of EP 724 data to the Surface Transportation Board in the prescribed methodology on a weekly basis. (CSX - posted 8/22)

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:
  • 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.
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)

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.”
  • 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.
(MTA - 4/04)



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