May 22, 2015:
REFURBISHED MBTA GREEN LINE TROLLEYS RETURNING TO SERVICE:
The first MBTA Green Line refurbished trolley car was returned to service this week. T personnel are completing test runs on the next refurbished car to return to service in the coming days.
These are the first of 86 that are being refurbished. All 86 trolley cars will be delivered by the end of next year.
“This is a great first step in our ongoing efforts to improve service on the country’s oldest light rail line,” says Interim MBTA GM Frank DePaola.
“In the coming months, Green Line customers will see more and more refurbished trolley cars, providing reliable and safe service to thousands of riders. This rehabilitation work is preserving the integrity of the vehicle structure, roof, and exterior, all of which experienced water damage and corrosion over the last two-and-half decades. Each car’s renewed condition and enhanced appearance will improve the Green Line experience for tens of thousands of daily customers.”
The comprehensive rehabilitation work on the trolley cars includes:
The $104 million MBTA Green Line trolley car rehabilitation project work is being performed by Alstom from upstate New York.
(MBTA - posted 5/22)
- Replacement- upgrade design HVAC, Motor Alternator/Low Voltage Power Supply, Auxiliary Lighting, Cab Equipment, Door Open Indicators
- Replacement- in-kind Flooring, Seats, Insulation
- Overhauled Structure, Roof, Exterior, Door System, Brake Equipment, Trucks, Propulsion, Pantograph
THE LAST LEHIGH & NEW ENGLAND DIESEL LOCOMOTIVE SAVED:
The Lehigh & New England Railroad Preservation Society has purchased the last remaining Lehigh & New England diesel locomotive,
. The locomotive is currently located at a grain elevator in Emporia, Indiana. The group is soliciting donations to pay for its movement to the Allentown & Auburn Railroad in Topton, Pa. It is expected to cost $60,000 to move the 611. The group has established a
Paypal account to accept donations.
When the 611 arrives in Topton, it will be fully restored into Lehigh & New England livery. It is in operating condition. For more information on the preservation of the 611, visit https://www.facebook.com/lne611
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION TAKES FOLLOW-UP ACTION TO CONTROL TRAIN SPEEDS ON NORTHEAST CORRIDOR:
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued an Emergency Order that will assist in controlling passenger train speeds at certain locations on the Northeast Corridor (NEC). Today’s order is the latest in a series of actions the FRA has taken in the wake of last week’s derailment of Amtrak Train #188.
FRA also announced today its intention to take additional actions in the coming days to address potential speed issues on all other passenger corridors.
Last Saturday, FRA instructed Amtrak to immediately take several actions to improve safety along the NEC. As stated in that weekend announcement, today’s Emergency Order formalizes those instructions.
“Although we do not yet know what caused the derailment of Amtrak Train #188, the information we do have underscores the need to continue to do all we can to further promote safety along the Northeast Corridor,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s action will help prevent similar incidents from occurring on the NEC until Amtrak completes its installation of Positive Train Control later this year.”
The Emergency Order requires Amtrak to take a series of steps to improve safety along the Northeast Corridor, including implementing Automatic Train Control (ATC) code changes and modifications, adopting other safety procedures at several curve locations with significant speed reductions, and submitting an action plan to FRA outlining additional steps.
FRA will take additional steps in the coming days and weeks to ensure other corridors are addressing potential over-speed issues as well.
“The Northeast Corridor is the busiest rail corridor in the country, and the steps we have ordered Amtrak to take will immediately improve safety on this busy corridor,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “But in the days and weeks to come, we will also do more – while FRA will continue to push Amtrak and other commuter lines to achieve full implementation of Positive Train Control, we will also work with them in the short term to immediately address potential over-speed issues.”
The Emergency Order requires Amtrak to immediately implement a code change to its ATC system near the Frankford Junction curve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The change must enforce the passenger train speed limit of 50 mph, or lower, for northbound trains approaching the curve. Amtrak implemented this change prior to the restart of service on Monday.
In addition, Amtrak must survey the NEC to identify each main track curve where there is a reduction of more than 20 mph from the maximum authorized approach speed to that curve for passenger trains, and provide a list of each location to the FRA.
Following Amtrak’s identification of the curves referenced above, Amtrak must develop and submit an action plan to FRA that accomplishes each of the following:
Amtrak must submit the action plan to the FRA within 20 days of the date of the Emergency Order.
In addition, Amtrak must begin to install additional wayside signage alerting engineers and conductors of the maximum authorized passenger train speed throughout its Northeast Corridor system no later than 30 days after the date of the order.
(FRA - posted 5/21)
Identify appropriate modifications to Amtrak’s existing ATC system or other signal systems (or alternative operational changes) to enable warning and enforcement of applicable passenger train speeds at identified curves.
- Target dates for implementing each identified modification to Amtrak’s existing ATC system or other signal systems (or alternative operational changes) to enable warning and enforcement of passenger train speeds at the identified curves.
NTSB ISSUES UPDATE ON ITS INVESTIGATION INTO THE AMTRAK DERAILMENT IN PHILADELPHIA:
As part of its ongoing investigation into the May 12, 2015, derailment of Amtrak Train 188 in Philadelphia, the NTSB today provides the following update.
NTSB investigators have completed most of their on-scene documentation work at the accident site and at the Amtrak facilities in Delaware. Additional 3D laser scanning of the train cars will be completed in the coming weeks.
An examination of the signals systems has revealed no anomalies or malfunctions.
The NTSB has possession of the Amtrak engineer’s cell phone. Additionally, under its enforcement authority, the Federal Railroad Administration subpoenaed and obtained the engineer’s cell phone records and has shared that data with NTSB forensic experts. Although the records appear to indicate that calls were made, text messages sent, and data used on the day of the accident, investigators have not yet made a determination if there was any phone activity during the time the train was being operated.
In order to make that assessment, investigators have started the process of correlating the time stamps in the engineer’s cell phone records with multiple data sources including the locomotive event recorder, the locomotive outward facing video, recorded radio communications, and surveillance video.
The processes involved in correlating time stamps for all these devices are detailed and lengthy. Because of variations in time stamps for each data source, each one must be correlated to the same time zone so that a factual timeline of events can be developed that will allow investigators to understand if any phone activity has any relevance to the accident.
Investigators interviewed the engineer of the SEPTA train that had stopped after being struck by an object that had shattered the windshield of the locomotive. The SEPTA engineer said that the Amtrak engineer announced on the radio, “hot track rail two,” to let him know that the Amtrak train was about to pass the stopped SEPTA train. He saw Amtrak 188 pass on track 2 and did not notice anything unusual.
Interviews with passengers and emergency responders will continue over the coming weeks. Investigative specialists in crashworthiness and survival factors are interviewing passengers that survived the accident in order to understand the circumstances of the evacuation as well as how injuries correlated with train car and seating positions.
Amtrak has provided the NTSB with the engineer’s training and employment records. He had been operating trains in the Washington-Boston Northeast Corridor for about three years. He had been specifically assigned the Washington-New York segment of the corridor for several weeks.
A dedicated webpage for this accident investigation has been created where all related materials to it can be accessed:
(NTSB, Howard Bender - posted 5/20)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 16, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 16, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 549,199 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending May 16, 2015 were 269,092 carloads, down 10 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 280,107 containers and trailers, up 4.9 percent compared to 2014.
One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. It was motor vehicles and parts, up 1 percent to 19,021 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 16.5 percent to 22,655 carloads; coal, down 15.3 percent to 93,664 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 10.6 percent to 34,086 carloads.
For the first 19 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,312,651 carloads, down 2.2 percent from the same point last year; and 4,959,620 intermodal units, up 1.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 19 weeks of 2015 was 10,272,271 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.3 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending May 16, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 365,068 carloads, down 9.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 355,252 intermodal units, up 5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 720,320 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 19 weeks of 2015 was 13,401,930 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 79,268 carloads for the week, down 8.3 percent, and 64,098 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 19 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,627,089 carloads, containers and trailers, up 4.9 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,708 carloads for the week, up 2.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,047 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 19 weeks of 2015 was 502,570 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.9 percent from the same point last year. Crude Oil Carload Update:
The AAR also reported U.S. Class I railroads originated 113,089 carloads of crude oil in the first quarter of 2015, down 17,982 carloads or 13.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014
(AAR - posted 5/20)
WATCO PURCHASES TWO SHORTLINE RAILROADS FROM IOWA PACIFIC:
(WATCO - posted 5/19)
VIA RAIL RELEASES ITS 2014 ANNUAL REPORT:
As highlighted in VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) annual report, 2014 saw Canada’s national passenger rail service succeed in increasing its revenues and in effectively containing its operating deficit, while introducing innovative new products, enhanced levels of service and additional trains on key routes. VIA Rail released its annual report to the public earlier today, after it was tabled in the House of Commons.
”While challenges abound, VIA Rail’s overall 2014 performance confirms that the travelling public is buying into the solid value proposition train travel represents,” stated President and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “Starting in the second half of the year, we saw a welcome trend of increasing revenues”. Total revenues for 2014 increased 3.7% to $280.3 million.
In keeping with its enviable position as a ‘green’ alternative for environmentally aware travellers, VIA Rail has also reinforced its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) - now reflected in a new, more comprehensive CSR Report incorporated into the 2014 Annual Report.
2014 service milestones
VIA Rail is pursuing a renewed vision that entails leveraging its strengths as the safest, most efficient and most environmentally responsible mode of intercity transport in Canada, as well as its potential as an engine of economic growth for the communities it serves, particularly the densely populated Québec City - Windsor corridor.
(VIA Rail Canada - posted 5/19)
One more train in each direction was added to the Ottawa-Toronto service, Friday through Monday, bringing the total to 48 departures per week in each direction.
The refurbishment of VIA Rail’s LRC Business Class cars was completed.
The new Economy Class service features healthy food and beverage choices and a selection of Canadian wines.
Seat assignment was made available in Economy Class on all Corridor trains.
- New products for youth market were introduced: the ‘Discover Canada’ card, the 20/20 Discount card and the Semester Pass.
- Iconic Ocean service linking Montréal and Halifax celebrated its 110th Anniversary.
- Significant new intermodal agreements were entered into with AccesRail, China’s Hainan Airlines and the Canadian Automobile Association.
AMTRAK ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE HONORS U.S. MILITARY VETERANS:
Amtrak's Beech Grove, Indiana shop has decorated a second locomotive to honor the U.S. military veterans. This unit is ASC-64 electric locomotive No. 642. It arrived in Washington, D.C. today, via Amtrak's Capitol Limited.
AMTRAK TO RESTORE SERVICE BETWEEN PHILADELPHIA AND NEW YORK CITY:
Amtrak will resume full Northeast Corridor operations, effective Monday morning, May 18.
“The safety of our passengers and crew remains our number one priority. Our infrastructure repairs have been made with the utmost care and emphasis on infrastructure integrity including complete compliance with Federal Railroad Administration directives,” said Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman. “Amtrak staff and crew have been working around the clock to repair the infrastructure necessary to restore service for all the passengers who travel along the Northeast Corridor.”
Effective with departures from Philadelphia at 5:53 a.m. (Train 110) and New York City at 5:30 a.m. (Train 111), all Amtrak Acela Express, Northeast Regional and other services resume. Travel in this portion of the corridor had been suspended since Tuesday evening, May 12.
- posted 5/17)
STB APPROVES NORFOLK SOUTHERN PURCHASE OF D&H ROUTES:
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board this afternoon approved Norfolk Southern's $217 million purchase of 282.55 miles of track owned by Canadian Pacific Railway’s Delaware & Hudson .This includes the D&H from Sunbury, Pa. (milepost 752) to Schnectady, N.Y. (milepost 484.85), and 15.4 miles, of the Voorheesville Running Track between Voorheesville Junction (milepost A 10.9) and Delanson, N.Y.
Norfolk Southern will retain trackage rights over approximately 17.45 miles of track, between milepost Schenectady, N.Y. (milepost 484.85) , andin the vicinity of Mechanicville, N.Y., (milepost CPF 467), including the right to use tracks within D&H’s Mohawk Yard
- posted 5/15)
NEW YORK TO PHILLY AMTRAK SERVICE TO RESUME THIS TUESDAY:
Amtrak plans to resume full service between New York and Philadelphia on Tuesday. Amtrak crews are working 24 hours to rebuild the derailment damaged Northeast Corridor Line through
Frankford Junction, in Philadelphia, Pa.
- posted 5/15)
40,000 LIRR PASSENGERS FACE DELAYS THIS WEEKEND DUE TO THE DEMOLITION OF THE ELLISON AVENUE BRIDGE:
An estimated 40,000 Long Island Rail Road customers face significant delays over the weekend of Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17 when the Railroad suspends train service between Hicksville and Mineola during demolition of the Ellison Ave. Bridge in Westbury. Hockey fans planning to take the train to Madison Square Garden for the New York Rangers’ Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay at 1 p.m. on Saturday will need to plan their travels with this service disruption in mind.
The 48-hour service outage affects all LIRR branches but will primarily affect the Ronkonkoma and Port Jefferson Branches where customers are facing 40-60 minutes of extra travel time because their regular route to and from New York City takes them right through the demolition zone in Westbury. However, all Long Island Rail Road branches will be affected with revised departure and arrival times for weekend trains. Special weekend timetables will be in effect on all branches.
As an alternative, LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski urged Ronkonkoma and Port Jefferson Branch customers to use other LIRR branches if possible, including the Babylon, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Montauk, Port Washington, Oyster Bay or West Hempstead Branches, during the two day construction period. Those branches will experience minor only scheduled adjustments.
“We regret the inconvenience, but for obvious safety reasons, demolition of the bridge requires a complete suspension of train service between Hicksville and Mineola,” Nowakowski said. “We are working hard to minimize the impact by providing bus service and re-routing trains. Everyone should consult the special May 16-17 weekend branch timetables to pinpoint the departure and arrival times of their trains and allow for plenty of extra travel time.”
The LIRR is replacing the obsolete bridge as part of a $17.5 million project to improve safety for railroad customers as well as the thousands of motorists and pedestrians who use the 74-year-old span each day. The project includes replacement of the bridge, a new roadway, sidewalks, curbs, fencing and paving and is being financed by the MTA Capital Program. The new bridge is scheduled to open by April 2016 and all construction activities, including site restoration, will be completed by June 2016.
Local elected officials and community leaders have lobbied for years for the bridge’s replacement, citing the ever-worsening condition of the roadway.
State Senator Jack M. Martins, long a proponent of a new bridge, said: “After decades of waiting, the Westbury/Carle Place community is one step closer to having a new, state of the art bridge. While this project, like any major construction project, will cause some temporary inconvenience, it will be far outweighed by the long-term community benefits in terms of safety, economic development, and job creation. I thank the Long Island Rail Road for continuing to move forward and for working with Westbury Mayor Peter I, Cavallaro and I to ensure this vital project is completed.”
Mayor Cavallaro said: “The Village and surrounding residents are happy that the bridge work is underway. This weekend is a crucial one for the project, as the bulk of the bridge will be taken away. We appreciate the continuing efforts of Senator Martins and his staff in monitoring this project, and we are very happy with the way that LIRR and its contractor, Posillico, have conducted the project so far. We continue to work with them, and all involved parties, to minimize any local impacts and to make sure that the project proceeds according to plan and can be completed in a timely manner.”
- posted 5/15)
AMTRAK 188 DERAILMENT UPDATE:
This morning a cadaver dog located another body at the site of the Amtrak 188 derailment in Frankford Junction, Pa. This brings to a total of eight fatalities from Tuesday night's derailment. With all the crew and passengers accounted for, Amtrak began to clear the wreckage. The locomotive and passenger cars are being moved to Amtrak's Bear Delaware facility for event reconstruction. Amtrak is planning for limited passenger service between New York and Philadelphia this Monday, with full service expected for Tuesday. On Friday
New Jersey Transit will resume Atlantic City service to Philadelphia 30th Street Station.
The portion of the Northeast Corridor through Frankford Junction did not have Postitive Train Control. At a news conference Amtrak President Joe Boardman noted that this segment, along with the rest of the Northeast Corridor, will have this safety equipment by late this year.
- posted 5/14)
ALAN SHAW NAMED NORFOLK SOUTHERN EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER:
Alan H. Shaw has been named executive vice president and chief marketing officer by the board of directors of Norfolk Southern Corp., Chairman and CEO Wick Moorman said today.
The appointment is effective May 16, 2015, with an office in Norfolk, and Shaw will report to NS President James A. Squires. He succeeds Donald W. Seale, who retired after 39 years in management positions in NS’ marketing division.
“Norfolk Southern’s ongoing goal is to provide reliable rail services and market access that support our shippers and receivers as leaders in their business sectors,” Moorman said. “Alan has the experience and market perspective to ensure that our valued customer partnerships grow even stronger.”
“I have the highest confidence in Alan and the entire Marketing Division to continue finding effective ways for customers to take advantage of the best that rail has to offer,” said Squires. “Clean, safe, dependable rail transportation is what moves the economy, and Alan has the long-term perspective to build on those advantages.”
Reporting to Shaw will be NS’ merchandise, intermodal, and coal marketing organizations; the teams that manage shipping options such as short line connections and the transload network; real estate services; and the corporation’s industrial development services for companies that want to locate and expand rail-served businesses.
Shaw joined NS in 1994 and has held positions in the finance and marketing departments. He served as group vice president coal marketing and group vice president chemicals before being named vice president intermodal operations, his current position, in 2013. He holds degrees from Virginia Tech and is a graduate of the General Management Program at Harvard Business School.
( Norfolk Southern
- posted 5/14)
DEADLY AMTRAK DERAILMENT AT FRANKFORD JUNCTION:
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on May 12 Amtrak's Washington to New York train No. 188 derailed at Frankford Junction, located in Philadelphia, Pa. The train, powered by ACS-64 601, had seven Amfleet cars in tow. On board were 238 passengers and five crew members. The entire train had derailed, with the ACS-64 cascading into the Frankford Junction freight yard, One of the Amfleet cars literally disintegrated. The result were six fatalities and hundreds of injuries. One of the severely injured had died at a local hospital. The National Transportation Safety Board immediately began an investigation. It was determined that the train's speed was 106 miles per hours, almost twice as fast as the speed restriction of 50 miles per hours through Frankford Junction. Due to the ongoing investigation and cleanup of the debris, Amtrak has halted service between Philadelphia and New York. SEPTA has halted service between Philadelphia and Trenton and NJ Transit between Philadelphia and Cherry Hill.
(Howard Bender - posted 5/13)
AMTRAK STATEMENT ON NORTH PHILADELPHIA DERAILMENT:
We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries to Amtrak passengers and employees as a result of the Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailment north of Philadelphia on Tuesday evening.
As always, our first concern is taking care of our customers and employees. We have established a Family Assistance Center in Philadelphia to work closely with the family of passengers and crew on the train. Family members are encouraged to call the Amtrak Incident Hotline (800-523-9101) with questions about individuals on the train. For our employees, the Amtrak Employee Assistance Program is staffed with trained counselors to support our employees and co-workers.
We are supporting fully with the NTSB and other agencies as part of the ongoing incident investigation. Due to the investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to comment or speculate about any information that is being investigated.
Amtrak continues to offer modified service between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston. There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton.
At this time, Amtrak’s schedule for Thursday, May 14, has not been yet determined. However, we anticipate that service along the Northeast Corridor, particularly between New York and Philadelphia, will continue to be affected due to the investigation scene.
(Amtrak - posted 5/13)
MBTA CAPEFLYER RESUMES SERVICE:
Building on its successful two years of operations, the CapeFLYER is excited to announce that trains will again be running from Boston to Cape Cod starting on Memorial Day weekend. Specifically, service will begin on Friday, May 22nd and operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout until Labor Day.
Additionally, the Cape FLYER has developed two new operational improvements that will significantly enhance the customer's experience and open a new market for potential riders. First, the CapeFLYER will operate on a faster Friday night schedule. Rather than piggy-back on to an existing commuter rail run, the CapeFLYER will be its own dedicated train on Friday nights leaving South Station at 5:50 PM, allowing more time for passengers to catch the train and making limited stops to Hyannis arriving at 8:15 PM. Second, all CapeFLYER trains will stop in Brockton this year. This will provide an improved connection to a large city of almost 100,000 people located just off Route 24.
"The focus of the CapeFLYER remains excellent customer service to provide an enjoyable trip to Cape Cod and the Islands that does not require another car crossing the Bourne or Sagamore Bridges. With a faster trip time on Friday nights and an improved connection to Brockton, we are confident that the train will be an even more attractive option for visitors this summer," stated Tom Cahir, Cape Cod RTA Administrator.
"As the CapeFLYER returns to service for its third summer and expands its service to Brockton, we congratulate the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority for their work to offer additional transit, educational and recreational activities for Massachusetts families," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.
In addition to a convenient trip to Cape Cod, the CapeFLYER works closely with the ferry operators to provide convenient connections to and from Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Cape Cod RTA buses are available at Buzzards Bay and Hyannis to bring passengers to the Cape communities. Finally, the CapeFLYER will again operate a café car that sells excellent food and drinks, including beer and wine, provided by Blonde on the Run Catering.
The CapeFLYER is a unique partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. For additional information, including a complete schedule, fares and information about connections, please visit:
(MBTA - posted 5/13)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 9, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 9, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 551,034 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending May 9, 2015 were 273,433 carloads, down 7.9 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 277,601 containers and trailers, up 3.8 percent compared to 2014.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They include: motor vehicles and parts, up 8.9 percent to 18,997 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, up 6.1 percent to 15,464 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 3.6 percent to 9,220 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: coal, down 16.1 percent to 93,691 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 12.1 percent to 23,572 carloads; and grain, down 11.2 percent to 17,959 carloads.
For the first 18 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,043,559 carloads, down 1.8 percent from the same point last year; and 4,679,513 intermodal units, up 1.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 18 weeks of 2015 was 9,723,072 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.1 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending May 9, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 368,931 carloads, down 7.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 350,845 intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 719,776 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 18 weeks of 2015 was 12,681,610 carloads and intermodal units, up 1 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 79,478 carloads for the week, down 8.2 percent, and 62,748 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 18 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,483,723 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,020 carloads for the week, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,496 intermodal units, down 9.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 18 weeks of 2015 was 474,815 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.8 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 5/13)
NJT BEGINS SUMMER RAIL SERVICE TO MONMOUTH PARK:
NJ TRANSIT summer rail service to Monmouth Park Racetrack will begin this Saturday, May 9, and operate through September 27, 2015 on weekends and holidays when the track is open for live racing. Friday rail service begins June 5 and continues through September 4.
NJ TRANSIT is offering a Monmouth Park package which can save customers $5.50. Simply purchase an NJ TRANSIT round-trip package to Monmouth Park from any NJ TRANSIT rail station, and receive transportation and Grandstand Admission plus an official track program for $1. Packages are also available for children, senior citizens and customers with disabilities. Tickets are valid on regularly scheduled North Jersey Coast Line trains on Fridays, weekends and holidays when the racetrack is open.
(MTA - posted 5/11)
MTA'S TRANSPORTATION REVENUE BOND CREDIT RATE AA+:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that bonds issued through its Transportation Revenue Bond (TRB) credit have been rated AA+ by the Kroll Bond Rating Agency in its inaugural assessment. AA+ is among the rating agency’s highest possible measures of debt creditworthiness, and it is an indication that MTA bonds have been “determined to have minimal risk of loss due to credit-related events,” and that MTA bonds “are deemed very high quality.”
The rating applies to the MTA’s Transportation Revenue Bonds, which are backed by a diverse pledge of revenues, including fares, tolls, and government subsidies and dedicated taxes.
In making its determination, Kroll exhaustively evaluated the MTA’s finances, levels of customer demand, management history, debt issuance structures, transparency in financial disclosure, history of commitment from the New York State Legislature, and measures of the MTA’s importance to the continued functioning of the Western Hemisphere’s largest economy.
“MTA provides a critical transportation network for over 15 million people in the greater New York Metropolitan area, which is essential to the economic and social fabric of the area,” the rating agency noted in its guidance to bond buyers. “MTA has a well-defined governance and management structure, which includes specific policies governing the budget process, multi-year financial and capital planning and debt management.” The rating report continued: “MTA management has a strong track record of balancing its operating budget over changing economic cycles and unforeseen events as well as managing complex capital programs designed to improve and expand the system.”
On key credit strengths, Kroll noted that “…it views the monthly deposits of revenues with the Trustee, prior to the payment of operating expenses to be a strong security feature of the TRB Resolution”. Kroll’s high rating of MTA’s Transportation Revenue Bonds reflects its recognition of the significance of non-operating revenues in the pledge and, hence, gives more weight to the gross pledge of revenues that provides tremendous coverage to bondholders.
In response to the receipt of the rating, MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert E. Foran said: “Much of the public discourse surrounding the MTA finances focuses on the total volume of debt outstanding, but Kroll’s rating is based on a deeper look into the soundness of the MTA’s underlying financial fundamentals, both now and in the foreseeable future. The sterling rating is recognition of the bottom line fact that the MTA has, and can be expected to have, the resources available to repay its bondholders while continuing to operate its $1 trillion network of trains, buses, bridges and tunnels in service of the New York region.”
The MTA’s Transportation Revenue Bond credit is rated “AA-” by S&P, “A2” by Moody’s and “A” by Fitch.
The MTA also issues bonds under three other credits: Dedicated Tax Fund Bonds that are backed by taxes collected by the State of New York and dedicated to the MTA, and Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Bonds (through senior and subordinate liens) that are backed by tolls collected at MTA Bridges and Tunnels’ nine water crossings. MTA’s portfolio of outstanding bonds has a weighted average cost of 3.91% and is predominantly in fixed-rate mode.
(MTA - posted 5/11)
GOVERNMENT OF QUEVEC PARTICIPATES IN THE INAUGURATION OF CSX INTERMODAL TERMINAL:
The Quebec Minister for Transport and the Implementation of the Maritime Strategy, Jean D'Amour and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy and Minister responsible for the Montérégie region, Pierre Moreau, participated in the inauguration of the new CSX in intermodal terminal, in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec
"The completion of CSX Intermodal, will enable our companies to benefit from an additional development tool to promote exports to the United States. With five tracks and a total capacity of 110 000 containers, this is a concrete example of intermodal principle that we wish to put forward in the deployment of the Maritime Strategy. For the region of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, this terminal is a base for the creation of new businesses and new jobs here in Quebec. "Said Minister Jean D'Amour.
Between 2013 and 2014, CSX constructed the intermodal terminal at the Perron Industrial Park in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.
The total cost of the work amounted to C$110 million. The Ministry of Transport Assistance Program provided C$6million in funds, as part of the reduction or avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions. The MTQ has also invested $ 6.6 million for the redevelopment of intersections of Highway 530, at the height of Gerard-Cadieux boulevards and maples and the way Larocque, allowing for better highway access to the new intermodal terminal.
(Office of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy and Minister responsible for the Montérégie region
- posted 5/11)
GOVERNOR BAKER ANNOUNCES NEW APPOINTMENTS TO MASS DOT BOARD:
Today, Governor Charlie Baker announced five new appointments to the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The board, which includes Secretary Stephanie Pollack, currently oversees all MassDOT operations including the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Highway, Mass Transit, Aeronautics, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), Office of Planning and Programming and the Office of Performance Management and Innovation.
"These experts bring tested experience and knowledge in their respective fields and represent the fresh start needed to lead the Commonwealth's transportation initiatives," said Governor Baker. "From the Registry to our highways, this group is tasked with enormous responsibility. The MBTA panel uncovered monumental challenges in the aftermath of this harsh winter, and I look forward to this new board expanding and working alongside our proposed Fiscal Management and Control Board as we strive to do better than the status quo with our transit systems which left riders stranded and tax dollars squandered."
After a harsh winter that impaired the MBTA and disrupted public transportation for commuters, Governor Baker appointed a special panel of transportation leaders to take a deep dive into the structural problems with the T and deliver recommendations for short and long term plans to improve our transit system.
The panel recommended appointing a new Mass DOT board, expanding it to include 11 members, and establishing a Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB) along with a Chief Administrator to oversee operations and finances through 2018, create capital plans, introduce reporting and audit requirements and lift procurement restrictions for the MBTA. In late April, Governor Baker filed An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable MBTA, acting on many of the recommendations made by the special panel. Following the panel's findings, the Governor also requested and received the resignation for all Mass DOT board members, excluding Pollack.
The Mass DOT board is comprised of seven members who are all appointed by the Governor with one designated as the chair. Each member is required to fulfill a specific criteria with expertise in transportation, finance and engineering. The Secretary of Transportation also serves on the board. The Mass DOT board serves as the governing authority for both the Mass DOT and the MBTA and oversees the following: Highway, Mass Transit, Aeronautics, RMV, the Office of Planning and Programming and the Office of Performance Management and Innovation.
(MBTA- posted 5/08)
LOCAL RAILROAD CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY
This May the Black River & Western Railroad (BRW) will celebrate its 50th anniversary of operating tourist passenger trains in Hunterdon County, NJ. On May 16, a train for railroad employees and invited guests will commemorate BRW’s innaugaral run from Flemington, which occurred on May 16, 1965. BRW’s Guest of Honor, New Jersey’s Honorable Assistant Secretary of State, Carol Cronheim, will be present to crack a bottle of champagne on the drive wheels of steam locomotive #60 to kick off another 50 years of steam railroading in Hunterdon County.
On Sunday, May 17, public excursions will operate between Flemington and Ringoes. Passengers on these special trips will pay BRW’s original 1965 prices and receive souvenir tickets, reproduced from the original 1965 tickets. Seating on May 17 is by reservation only, and all trains are sold out.
The BRW was conceived by a group of friends with an interest in steam railroading in Chester, NJ in the early 1960’s. The group acquired a collection of historic railroad equipment and moved it to Flemington, NJ. A lease with the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) permitted the newly formed BRW to operate passenger trains over the Flemington Branch on weekends, while PRR freight service continued during the week. The BRW grew and eventually purchased the line, thus becoming a common-carrier railroad. Now, the BRW continues to operate family-oriented tourist passenger trains over the line between Flemington and Ringoes, including numerous family-oriented special events throughout the year. Freight trains serve local businesses in Three Bridges, Flemington, and Ringoes, NJ.
Passenger services on the BRW are managed by the Black River Railroad Historical Trust, Inc (BRRHT), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation dedicated to preserving local railroad history and providing opportunities for the public to learn about the railroads’ role in our local communities. Current restoration projects undertaken by the BRRHT include restoration of CNJ Coach #1009, rehabilitation of BRW’s Alexauken Division, and improvements to BRW’s Ringoes Station. Popular events operated by the BRRHT include the Easter Bunny Express, Readin’ Railroad Story Time, The Great Train Robbery, Pumpkin Trains, the North Pole Express, and the Candy Cane Limited.
For more information about the BRW or BRRHT visit
(BR&W - posted 5/07)
RIDE THE STEWARTSTOWN RAILROAD THIS COMING WEEKEND:
The Stewartstown Railroad will be offering CABOOSE RIDES on Saturday, May 9 in celebration of National Train day. Rides will also be offered on Sunday, May 10, in observation of Mother’s day. Passengers will board at the station and take a 1 mile round-trip excursion aboard a vintage PRR Caboose pulled behind Stewartstown Locomotive #9, “The Mighty-Mo.” Spend some quality time with your mother, grandmother, or friends and family while enjoying the peaceful country feeling of Southern York County. Each trip is around 35 minutes in length.
Saturday, May 9: 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, and 3:30 PM.
Sunday, May 10: 1PM, 2PM, 3PM, 4PM
For our wonderful mothers and grandmothers, on Sunday, May 10, a complimentary rose will be provided while supplies last.
You may sit or stand wherever you would like inside the caboose, however seating is first-come first-serve (especially in the Copula). We apologize, but the caboose is not handicap accessible at this time.
To purchase tickets ahead of time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 717-746-8123. Tickets may also be purchased at the Station at the ticket window.
(Michael Ruane - posted 5/06)
$10 for adults
$9 for seniors
$8 for children (12 and under, please)
$4 for moms and grandmothers
NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S 911... HONORS FIRST RESPONDERS:
Norfolk Southern has painted
in a special paint scheme to honor the Nation's First Responders. Locomotive 9-1-1 honors our country's hard working and dedicated first responders.
AAR REPORTS TRAFFIC FOR APRIL AND FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 2, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for April 2015 and the first four months of 2015.
Carload traffic in April totaled 1,403,044 carloads, down 5.3 percent or 78,712 carloads from April 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,383,314 containers and trailers in April 2015, up 5.1 percent or 67,153 units from the same month last year. For April 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,786,358, down 0.4 percent or 11,559 carloads and intermodal units from April 2014.
In April 2015, just five of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with April 2014. This included metallic ores, up 43.3 percent or 9,838 carloads; grain mill products, up 2.3 percent or 1,124 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 0.8 percent or 733 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in April 2015 from April 2014 included coal, down 11.1 percent or 63,306 carloads; primary metal products, down 16.9 percent or 9,256 carloads; and grain, down 3.7 percent or 3,910 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were down 1.7 percent or 15,406 carloads in April 2015 from April 2014 and when both coal and grain are excluded, U.S. carloads were down 1.4 percent or 11,496 carloads last month.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first four months of 2015 was 4,770,126 carloads, down 1.4 percent or 68,367 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 4,401,912 units, up 1.6 percent or 69,588 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first four months of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 9,172,038 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.01 percent or 1,221 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.
"The federal government recently announced that its initial estimate of first quarter GDP growth was just 0.2 percent. Based on rail traffic in April, we aren't seeing a surge in economic activity to start the second quarter," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "Railroad coal traffic is suffering from reduced electricity generation from coal and lower coal exports, while rail volumes for a number of other commodities are down due to general economic weakness. We hope that turns around. Intermodal, on the other hand, is doing very well, as large intermodal-related investments and service improvements are paying off with record volumes."
Week Ending May 2, 2015:
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending May 2, 2015 was 565,787 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 283,091 carloads, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 282,696 containers and trailers, up 5.7 percent compared to 2014.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: miscellaneous carloads, up 7.9 percent to 9,055 carloads; farm products and food, up 2.6 percent to 17,060; and chemicals, up 2.1 percent to 32,011. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: grain, down 12.6 percent to 18,437 carloads; coal, down 9.6 percent to 101,495 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 6.6 percent to 35,312 carloads.
North American rail volume for the week ending May 2, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 378,592 carloads, down 5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 355,835 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 734,427 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2015 was 11,961,834 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 80,262 carloads for the week, down 6 percent, and 63,460 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 17 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,341,497 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 6 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 15,239 carloads for the week, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,679 intermodal units, up 3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 17 weeks of 2015 was 448,299 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.2 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 5/06)
AMTRAK TRAIN DAYS KICK-OFF CELEBRATION
AT CHICAGO UNION STATION ON MAY 9 :
On Saturday, May 9, 2015, Amtrak and partners will officially kick-off Amtrak Train Days at Chicago Union Station. This is the first of many Amtrak Train Days celebrations taking place in dozens of locations across the county this spring, summer and fall. The free event will be held at Union Station (225 South Canal Street) from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The kick-off event will feature the Amtrak Exhibit Train, a self-guided, interactive tour to learn about Amtrak’s history, its operations and the future of America’s Railroad®.
Other Chicago event highlights include:
Amtrak Train Days 2015 Sweepstakes is running from May 9 –November 30. One Grand Prize winner will win a trip for four people courtesy of Amtrak Vacations, one Chuggington Prize Pack, a $500 Nook Gift Card and a Walthers Model Train Set. Winners will be chosen on December 1, 2015.
(Amtrak - posted 5/05)
Train Excursion trips will only be available on May 9 at 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available online at
VIP Train Tour, “Hard Hat” Tour and Joseph Szabo Control Center Tours will be available on May 8, 9 and 10. Reservations are required and can be made in the station or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. For schedules and more information about the tours, please visit Amtrak Train Days/Chicago.
The Amtrak Experience, a new unique interactive mobile exhibit, will allow attendees to see, hear and feel the benefits of train travel.
Family-friendly activities such as Chuggington Kids Depot will feature train-themed kids’ activities based on the popular children’s animated television series, Chuggington, on Disney Junior and a special appearance by the Chuggington Live cast on May 9.
Communities from across the nation are invited to join in the celebration of passenger train travel by hosting their own Amtrak Train Day events during 2015. To register an event, find additional tour stops or for more information about Amtrak Train Days, visit AmtrakTrainDays.com.
NJ TRANSIT TO EXPAND ONE-SEAT RIDE SERVICE ON NORTH JERSEY COAST LINE
Just in time for summer, NJ TRANSIT will offer new weekday one-seat ride service on the North Jersey Coast Line (NJCL) to the Jersey shore. Six trains will operate from Bay Head to New York and New York to Bay Head with no need to transfer at Long Branch starting May 18th.
““NJ TRANSIT is committed to supporting the residents, communities, and businesses along the Coast Line,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox. “The addition of new weekday service from New York to Bay Head is vital to not only residents of the Jersey Shore who commute, but also provides more options for those who vacation at the Shore.”
“Our customers have always given us detailed feedback on what they would like to see implement in terms of new service, and we are thrilled to make it happen,” Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim said. “This expanded one-seat service on the North Jersey Coast Line would not be possible without the support of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA). NJTPA was instrumental in securing the funding necessary to provide a seamless commute into New York City possible for hundreds of NJCL customers.”
The announcement follows the November 25, 2014 endorsement of the new service by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), in which part of the authorized $910,000 allocation through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) will fund this service.
Changes to the existing morning and evening rush hour service are as follows:
Morning Weekday Rush-Hour One Seat service:
Newly-numbered trains 3312, the 5:06 a.m. Bay Head departure, 3318, the 5:45 a.m. Bay Head departure and 3326, the 6:54 a.m. Bay Head departure will operate directly into New York Penn Station from Bay Head.
(NJ Transit - posted 5/04)
Evening Weekday Rush-Hour One Seat service:
Newly-numbered trains 3361, the 4:36 p.m. New York departure, 3363, the 5:06 p.m. New York departure and 3373, the 6:03 p.m. New York departure will operate directly to Bay Head from New York Penn Station.
MINISTER RAITT AND U.S. SECRETARY FOXX ANNOUNCE NEXT GENERATION OF STRONGER, SAFER RAIL TANK CARS:
Today the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, was joined by U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, to unveil a new class of rail tank car for flammable liquids. This newer, stronger tank car will be used for the transportation of flammable liquids, such as crude oil and ethanol. The new standard is the result of collaboration on both sides of the border, with a joint goal of strengthening the safety of the two countries' inter-connected rail networks.
The new TC-117 standard includes enhanced safety features that represent a considerable improvement over previous tank car standards. The new tank car regulations will be applied first to cars carrying crude oil by all railway companies in Canada and the United States. This will translate into better protection for communities in both countries. The new TC-117 tank car will be jacketed and constructed with thicker steel, thermal protection, a full head shield, top fitting protection and a new bottom outlet valve.
Transport Canada has taken a holistic, integrated approach to safeguarding the public during the transportation of dangerous goods by rail. This regulation builds on previous regulatory actions including enhancements to train operations, track inspections, train speeds, sharing of information with municipalities, emergency response assistance plans and classification.
The tank car regulations formalize the commitment made by the Minister on April 23, 2014, to phase-out the DOT-111 tank cars. The regulations establish the prescriptive and performance requirements to retrofit a tank car, as well as the retrofit schedule for DOT-111 and CPC 1232 tank cars used to transport flammable liquids.
This approach removes the least crash resistant tank cars from crude oil carriage first, focusing industry's efforts on the highest risk areas.
(Transport Canada - posted 5/01)
DETAILS ON NEW TANK CAR REGULATIONS:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a final rule for the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail. The final rule, developed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in coordination with Canada, focuses on safety improvements that are designed to prevent accidents, mitigate consequences in the event of an accident, and support emergency response.
Canada’s Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, joined Secretary Foxx to announce Canada’s new tank car standards, which align with the U.S. standard.
“Safety has been our top priority at every step in the process for finalizing this rule, which is a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Our close collaboration with Canada on new tank car standards is recognition that the trains moving unprecedented amounts of crude by rail are not U.S. or Canadian tank cars – they are part of a North American fleet and a shared safety challenge.”
“This stronger, safer, more robust tank car will protect communities on both sides of our shared border,” said Minister Raitt. “Through strong collaboration we have developed a harmonized solution for North America’s tank car fleet. I am hopeful that this kind of cooperation will be a model for future Canada-U.S. partnership on transportation issues.”
Other federal agencies are also working to make transporting flammable liquids safer. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE), in coordination with the White House, are pursuing strategies to improve safety. DOE recently developed an initiative designed to research and characterize tight and conventional crude oils based on key chemical and physical properties, and to identify properties that may contribute to increased likelihood and/or severity of combustion events that can arise during handling and transport.
This final rule represents the latest, and most significant to date, in a series of
nearly 30 actions that DOT has initiated
over the last nineteen months, including additional emergency orders, safety advisories and other actions.
Additional information about the rule:
(Unless stated otherwise, the rule applies to “high-hazard flammable trains” (HHFTs)—a continuous block of 20 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid or 35 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid dispersed through a train.).
Unveils a new, enhanced tank car standard and an aggressive, risk-based retrofitting schedule for older tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol;
Requires a new braking standard for certain trains that will offer a superior level of safety by potentially reducing the severity of an accident, and the “pile-up effect”;
Designates new operational protocols for trains transporting large volumes of flammable liquids, such as routing requirements, speed restrictions, and information for local government agencies;
Provides new sampling and testing requirements to improve classification of energy products placed into transport.
The actions taken today address several recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board, including: requiring enhanced safety features for tank cars carrying ethanol and crude oil and an aggressive schedule to replace or retrofit existing tank cars; requiring thermal protection and high-capacity pressure relieve valves for tank cars in flammable liquid service, expanding hazardous materials route planning and selection requirements for trains transporting flammable liquids; inspecting shippers to ensure crude oil is properly classified and requiring shippers to sufficiently test and document both physical and chemical characteristics of hazardous materials; and providing a vehicle for reporting the number of cars retrofitted.
(USDOT - posted 5/01)
Enhanced Standards for New and Existing Tank Cars for use in an HHFT—New tank cars constructed after October 1, 2015, are required to meet the new DOT Specification 117 design or performance criteria. The prescribed car has a 9/16 inch tank shell, 11 gauge jacket, 1/2 inch full-height head shield, thermal protection, and improved pressure relief valves and bottom outlet valves. Existing tank cars must be retrofitted with the same key components based on a prescriptive, risk-based retrofit schedule (see table). As a result of the aggressive, risk-based approach, the final rule will require replacing the entire fleet of DOT-111 tank cars for Packing Group I, which covers most crude shipped by rail, within three years and all non-jacketed CPC-1232s, in the same service, within approximately five years.
Enhanced Braking to Mitigate Damage in Derailments—The rule requires HHFTs to have in place a functioning two-way end-of-train (EOT) device or a distributed power (DP) braking system. Trains meeting the definition of a “high-hazard flammable unit train,” or HHFUT (a single train with 70 or more tank cars loaded with Class 3 flammable liquids), with at least one tank car with Packing Group I materials, must be operated with an electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) braking system by January 1, 2021. All other HHFUTs must have ECP braking systems installed after 2023. This important, service-proven technology has been operated successfully for years in certain services in the United States, Australia, and elsewhere.
Reduced Operating Speeds—The rule restricts all HHFTs to 50 mph in all areas and HHFTs containing any tank cars not meeting the enhanced tank car standards required by this rule are restricted to operating at a 40 mph speed restriction in high-threat urban areas. The 40 mph restriction for HHFTs without new or retrofitted tank cars is also currently required under FRA’s Emergency Order No. 30.
Rail Routing – More Robust Risk Assessment—Railroads operating HHFTs must perform a routing analysis that considers, at a minimum, 27 safety and security factors, including “track type, class, and maintenance schedule” and “track grade and curvature,” and select a route based on its findings. These planning requirements are prescribed in 49 CFR §172.820.
Rail Routing – Improves Information Sharing—Ensures that railroads provide State and/or regional fusion centers, and State, local and tribal officials with a railroad point of contact for information related to the routing of hazardous materials through their jurisdictions. This replaces the proposed requirement for railroads to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) or other appropriate state-designated entities about the operation of these trains through their States.
More Accurate Classification of Unrefined Petroleum-Based Products—Offerors must develop and carry out sampling and testing programs for all unrefined petroleum-based products, such as crude oil, to address the criteria and frequency of sampling to improve and ensure accuracy. Offerors must certify that hazardous materials subject to the program are packaged in accordance with the test results, document the testing and sampling program outcomes, and make that information available to DOT personnel upon request.
BLET URGES FRA TO REQUIRE ADDITIONAL BUFFER CARS ON CRUDE OIL TRAINS:
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen is urging the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the nation’s Class 1 rail carriers to take action to address a serious shortcoming in current railroad operating regulations that endangers the lives of train crew members who work on crude oil trains.
Specifically, the BLET is asking the FRA to take regulatory action to mandate an increased number of buffer cars between the lead locomotive and trailing tank cars that contain oil. Current regulations require five buffer cars on a mixed freight train if the first car contains oil, but through a loophole in the regulations, only one buffer car is required on unit oil trains that could contain over 100 oil tankers. In derailments, locomotives can be a primary ignition source for spilled oil.
“Since engine and train crews occupy the cab of that potential ignition source, there should be as much distance away from the fuel source as possible,” wrote BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce in a letter to FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg on April 28, 2015. “Five cars may be insufficient, but one car is obviously not enough.
“The recent series of unit oil train derailments makes it plain for all to see that [the current] rule bears no relationship whatsoever to safe operations,” Pierce continued. “A change in the rule would require minor, easily accommodated operational changes and not the need for some expensive technology.”
Not only would the extra buffer cars make for a safer work environment, Pierce wrote, it would also allow train crew members to help ensure public safety in the event of future oil train derailments.
“The Casselton, North Dakota wreck and the more recent CSX accident at Mount Carbon, West Virginia could have been much worse were it not for a two-person crew taking swift action to separate the locomotive consist from the train containing more explosive crude oil,” Pierce wrote.
Considering the predicted likelihood of future derailments, Pierce said now is the time to take proactive measures to prevent possible tragedies.
“With the U.S. Department of Transportation projecting ten crude oil or ethanol related derailments a year for the next two decades costing $4 billion annually, and 2015 on target to exceed that number, BLET respectfully requests that FRA take appropriate proactive measures to ensure that train crews have a chance to escape the aftermath of such derailments with their health and lives intact,” Pierce wrote.
In addition to urging the FRA to act, the BLET is also requesting that the nation’s Class 1 railroads “take immediate voluntary action to address this serious weakness in the current regulations by adding additional buffer cars to all unit oil trains.”
The action by BLET is in tandem with a call by its Teamsters Rail Conference partners Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division
(BMWED) to reduce the frequency of oil train derailments by increasing track maintenance. According to BMWED National President Freddie N.
Simpson: “The wear and tear on the track structure, coupled with the volatility of the commodities being transported, requires additional track maintenance to stay ahead of the rate of track degradation.” The BLET and BMWED are member Divisions of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
(BLET - posted 5/01)
PORT AUTHORITY AUTHORIZES $40 MILLION TO BEGIN PLANNING PROCESS FOR REPLACEMENT OF AIRTRAIN NEWARK
Planning work to replace the aging AirTrain Newark system moved forward today with a $40 million planning commitment from the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners to study construction of a new system with enhanced capacity, better service and increased reliability.
AirTrain Newark is an integral part of Newark Liberty International Airport's landside transportation infrastructure, providing connectivity for passengers and airport employees traveling on-airport as well as to and from the airport on the regional rail transportation network. AirTrain Newark opened in 1996, first by serving the terminals, parking garages and rental facilities on the airport. Expansion in 2001 with the opening of the Newark Airport Rail Link station connected the AirTrain with NJ Transit and Amtrak trains running along the Northeast Corridor tracks, providing travelers with easy access to major urban centers including New York and Philadelphia.
Ridership has skyrocketed on AirTrain Newark over the past two decades, totaling nearly 2.2 million passengers in 2014. Each day, approximately 25,000 riders use the system, with more than two-thirds riding on-airport and the remainder traveling from the AirLink station via connections on the Northeast Corridor.
Age and maintenance issues, however, have required more work on the system in recent years, leading to more temporary closures for maintenance and repair, as the system approaches the end of its useful design life. The original AirTrain system was developed under a long-term design-build-operate-maintain agreement with Bombardier.
“AirTrain Newark is an important resource for passengers and workers at Newark Liberty, but like much of our regional transportation infrastructure it is showing its age," said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. "Today’s action will begin the process of updating the AirTrain system as part of the ongoing modernization and improvement of Newark Liberty."
"Our AirTrain systems are vital to the efficient movement of passengers and employees to and from our airports,” said Port Authority Vice Chair Scott Rechler. "We will continue to make the necessary investments to modernize our existing infrastructure and to increase access to the region's airports."
Today’s action authorizes the agency to award an expert professional technical services contract for approximately $30 million to support the planning initiative. The action also authorizes preparation of a federal application to seek recovery of the $40 million planning cost through airport Passenger Facility Charges. Based on the results of the planning studies, which will include a review of funding, financing and project delivery alternatives, the full cost of the replacement project will be taken into account in upcoming reviews of the Port Authority’s 10-year Capital Plan.
Approximately 90 direct jobs both on- and off-site are anticipated by today’s award, with direct payroll wages of $8.3 million. Overall, taking direct and indirect jobs into consideration, this award is projected to create $60.6 million in economic activity over the life of the planning process.
(PANYNJ - posted 5/01)
BEN FRANKLIN BRIDGE TRACK REHAB UPDATE:
The two-year, $103 million Ben Franklin Bridge Track Rehabilitation project is proceeding on-time and on-budget, with electrical, signaling and communication upgrades continuing on the south track of the bridge and in the tunnels in Philadelphia and Camden.
The current PATCO schedule had been expected to change in the spring, but will now remain in effect through early July. The extension allows all south track work taking place on weekdays to be completed now instead of a later date as originally planned.
“We regret that the current schedule is challenging for our riders. Finishing this work now rather than coming back to it later will reduce the number of schedule changes,” said John Rink, PATCO General Manager.
PATCO will introduce a new schedule in early July when work resumes on the north track on the bridge. This upcoming schedule will be similar to the one in place during the second continuous outage in August and September 2014. Normal service will remain in place Monday through Thursday mornings, and a trackwork schedule will operate between Thursday mid-day and Sunday night. The improved operational flexibility and capacity available on the north track allow the service gaps to be reduced from 26 minutes to 15 minutes, which will allow PATCO to operate additional trains
(PATCO, Alex Mayes - posted 4/30)
METROLINX OPENS THE NEW "YORK GO CONCOURSE" IN TORONTO UNION STATION:
Metrolinx is opening the brand new York GO Transit Concourse in Union Station to the public on April 27, 2015.
As part of the ongoing revitalization of Union Station, Metrolinx has worked together with the City of Toronto to build the York Concourse and ultimately improve access to and from the downtown core. The new, much larger facility provides 50 per cent more space than the current concourse and facilitates faster access between the concourse and GO Transit train platforms, as well as prepares for the growth that will come with Regional Express Rail.
Opening to the public on Monday, April 27, 2015, the new, spacious 62,000-square-foot concourse provides almost twice the space of the existing Bay Concourse to help get customers to where they are going faster and easier. Some of the features include:
(Metrolinx, Alex Mayes - posted 4/30)
New staircases and elevators
New customer service counter
New ticket vending machines to provide more self-service options
More departure boards so customers can get the travel information you need
- The new York East Teamway — a covered walkway running north/south along the west side of the concourse under Front Street connecting to the new PATH tunnel.
EAST VALLEY RAIL TERMINAL NEW TERMINAL:
East Valley Industrial Park, LLC received first round funding for the East Valley Rail Terminal (EVR) located just east of Williston, ND on Highway 1804. Contracts have been let for mainline turnout installation and site construction, beginning this summer. Initial operations are scheduled for December 2015.
Once online, EVR, will be the most efficient inbound oil field service supply terminal in the Williston Basin. At full build out, the terminal will be able to handle three inbound and three outbound trains per day, in unit train or manifest service. Storage will be constructed to handle up to 240,000 tons of frac sand and other proppants. The terminal will accommodate the shipping, receiving, storage and distribution of additional products such as: NGL’s, Drill & Line Pipe, Cement, Chemicals, Fuel, Oil and Agricultural products.
Dave Thomson, CEO, indicates “EVR is timed to allow proppant and sand shippers to improve railcar utilization and offset the announced rail tariff adjustments taking effect January 2016. By utilizing EVR, service companies, suppliers and producers will realize significant savings, $100,000 and up per well completion.” To achieve savings of this magnitude required reworking existing proppant supply chain, transportation and wellhead delivery processes. “This is a very aggressive solution,” says Thomson. “The industry needs these savings now and into the future. We are focused on creating long term value for our energy customers.”
The state of North Dakota released information on April 29, 2015 that indicates 80 of the 86 active drill rigs in the state were drilling within 60 miles of the EVR terminal. “We are in the sweet spot of the Williston Basin. Two plus years of planning and coordinating has led to an exciting time for this project and the region. With over 230 acres for service companies and producers to realign operations and reduce costs, we’re at the right place with the right solution at the right time,” says Jason Everett, COO.
East Valley Industrial Park, LLC is a privately held company headquartered in Williston, ND.
(East Valley Industrial Park, LLC - posted 4/30)
AAR WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 25, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 557,306 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending April 25, 2015 were 278,294 carloads, down 7.9 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,012 containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent compared to 2014.
One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. It was: motor vehicles and parts, up 1 percent to 18,894 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: coal, down 13.3 percent to 98,405 carloads; grain, down 8.6 percent to 19,909 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 7.7 percent to 23,473 carloads.
For the first 16 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,487,035 carloads, down 1.2 percent from the same point last year; and 4,119,216 intermodal units, up 1.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2015 was 8,606,251 carloads and intermodal units, which remains flat compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 25, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 376,406 carloads, down 6.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 351,858 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 728,264 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 16 weeks of 2015 was 11,227,407 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.3 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 81,611 carloads for the week, down 6.3 percent, and 62,456 intermodal units, up 3.9 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 16 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,197,775 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 6.5 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,501 carloads for the week, up 15.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,390 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 16 weeks of 2015 was 423,381 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 4/30)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS FIRST QUARTER 2015 RESULTS:
Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported financial results for first-quarter 2015. Net income for the quarter was $310 million, 16 percent lower compared with $368 million during the same period of 2014. Diluted earnings per share were $1.00 compared with $1.17 per diluted share earned in the first quarter last year.
“Our first quarter results reflected continued weakness in our coal markets along with a slowdown in network velocity in part caused by severe winter weather which impacted both our expenses and our volumes,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “Looking ahead, while the market uncertainties remain, the resources that we are deploying are driving improved network performance, and we expect our service levels will be significantly higher in the second half.”
(Norfolk Southern - posted 4/29)
Railway operating revenues were $2.6 billion, 5 percent lower compared with first-quarter 2014, due to lower fuel surcharge revenue in each of NS’ three commodity groups, lower coal volumes and lower average revenue per unit related to the mix of business. Total volume increased 2 percent, or about 40,000 units, reflecting gains in intermodal and merchandise traffic.
- General merchandise revenues were $1.5 billion, 2 percent lower than the same period last year. Volume grew by 3 percent, led by increases in chemicals and automotive shipments. The five general merchandise commodity groups reported mixed revenue results on a year-over-year basis:
Chemicals: $432 million, down 2 percent; Agriculture: $374 million, up 4 percent; Metals/Construction: $310 million, down 6 percent; and Automotive: $219 million, down 4 percent
Paper/Forest: $185 million, down 3 percent
Intermodal revenues were $592 million, 1 percent lower compared with first-quarter 2014. Growth in international and domestic business pushed traffic volume up 5 percent in the quarter compared with the same period of 2014.
Coal revenues were $455 million, 16 percent lower compared with the first quarter of 2014. A weak global export market and fewer shipments of coal to utilities combined to decrease volume by 7 percent.
Railway operating expenses declined 3 percent to $2.0 billion, primarily due to lower fuel costs, compared with the same period of 2014.
Income from railway operations was $606 million, 9 percent lower compared with first-quarter 2014.
The operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, was 76.4 percent, compared with 75.2 percent in the same quarter in 2014.
MARYLAND MTA SERVICE CHANGES DUE TO LAST NIGHT'S RIOTS AND ONGOING POLICE ACTIVITY IN BALTIMORE:
Due to police activity, the Maryland Transit Administration has announced several services changes for its travel modes.
Metro Subway is operating to Johns Hopkins Station but is bypassing the Mondawmin, Penn-North and Upton Market stations.
Local Bus is operating with several diversions in the city and the Mondawmin Station is closed.
Light Rail is operating as regularly scheduled as is MTA Mobility services, MARC Train and MTA Commuter Bus.
(Maryland MTA - posted 4/28)
READING & NORTHERN RAILROAD HIRES V.P. TRANSPORTATION & SAFETY:
Reading and Northern Railroad announces the appointment of Thomas Cook as Vice President Transportation & Safety.
Cook joins Reading and Northern from CSX Transportation where he retired in January 2015 after a 30 year career with CSX and Conrail. He was Assistant Superintendent at Curtis Bay Piers, MD since December of 2010 where he led daily operations through a period of rapid growth. Prior to that he held various positions in operations with CSX and sales and operations with Conrail.
His operations and leadership background is distinguished by a passion for safety and developing managers and employees. Cook was awarded CSX's Chairman's Award of Excellence in 2008 for his success in developing a culture of safety and mentoring new managers while a Trainmaster in Indianapolis.
Cook graduated from Gettysburg College in 1984 and has a B.A. in Business Administration.
(Reading & Northern Railroad, - posted 4/28)
READING & NORTHERN NAMED 2015 REGIONAL RAILROAD OF THE YEAR:
Railway Age magazine has named Reading & Northern Railroad its 2015 Regional Railroad of the Year. Reading & Northern is the first railroad to ever win this honor three times having been so honored in 2002 and 2011.
"Adaptability and flexibility have served Reading & Northern well through three decades, as 'The Road of Anthracite' not only adjusts to new markets and traffic flows but anticipates them, indeed seeking out those shifts and changes," says Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono.
“Reading & Northern continues to stand out among its peers,” adds Railway Age Managing Editor Douglas John Bowen. “It’s taken home our Railway Age Regional Railroad award three times now for good reason: Not only does it keep going and growing, but it keeps adapting and innovating, in good economic times and bad. Its corporate culture insists on doing better, on not being willing to just settle. “We also find an attitude, an eagerness, that’s uncommon beyond just the rail industry – an eagerness to see a larger picture that rail fits into,” Bowen continues. “’Holistic’ is an overused word, but Reading & Northern tries to advance its role as service provider not only to secure a profit, but to truly benefit its customers, its employees, and the very region it serves. Lots of companies say that’s their goal. R&N continues to show the railroad means it.”
Andy Muller, Jr., CEO and owner of the Reading and Northern said, “On behalf of the employees of the Reading & Northern, I want to thank Railway Age for recognizing us for our hard work, dedication to our customers and communities and our commitment to remaining true to our entrepreneurial foundations. We all work hard to do the best job we can and it is gratifying to be recognized for our efforts.”
(Reading & Northern Railroad, - posted 4/28)
RIDERSHIP RISES AGAIN ON MTA'S RAILROADS IN 2014:
The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad both welcomed rising numbers of customers in 2014, new Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) ridership figures show, making them respectively the busiest and second-busiest passenger railroads in the country.
Both railroads saw their strongest growth during non-rush hours, on non-Manhattan commutes and for non-work trips, as customers increasingly rely on the railroads for transportation outside of traditional Manhattan commutes. This increased non-peak ridership, which mirrors trends seen on the MTA New York City Subway, occurs as more jobs in the region are created outside the Manhattan core and in industries without traditional 9-to-5 workdays, such as healthcare, hospitality and arts and entertainment.
Through the 2015-2019 Capital Program, both railroads hope to continue pursuing major projects to expand capacity and improve connections, which will spur economic growth, reduce traffic congestion and make the region more sustainable.
The LIRR reported a year-end total of 85.86 million passengers in 2014, a 3% increase over the prior year. It is the third highest ridership since 1949 and highest since the modern record in 2008.
Metro-North carried 84.66 million passengers in 2014, a 1.5% increase over the prior year and the highest ridership in Metro-North’s history. Metro-North ridership has grown 77% over the past 30 years.
“In another era, young people would buy a car with their first paycheck. Now, with access to the nation’s most vibrant public transit system, more of them are buying train passes and MetroCards. Across our region, New Yorkers are developing a mindset that riding the railroad isn’t just about going to work anymore. It’s becoming more and more integrated into the fabric of daily life,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “That’s why we’re pleased to be continuing projects in our Capital Program that will improve rail travel in the years to come, including East Side Access for the LIRR, Penn Station Access for Metro-North, and the LIRR’s Ronkonkoma Branch Double Track Project.”
On Metro-North, trips that do not involve Grand Central or Harlem-125th Street have increased 273% since 1984 and non-commutation ridership to Manhattan has increased by 133%, while commutes to Manhattan have increased by 31%.
Traditional commutes to Manhattan now constitute less than half of total Metro-North rail ridership. They account for 49% of trips taken in 2014, compared with 67% in 1984. Bronx residents commuting to Westchester County, and Westchester residents commuting to Connecticut, so-called reverse commuters, as well as Connecticut residents commuting from the east end of the New Haven Line to major employment centers in Connecticut, are some of the fastest growing types of travel on Metro-North.
On the Long Island Rail Road, which does not have the same track capacity to support reverse-direction commutes to suburban destinations, non?commutation ridership has nevertheless increased by 66% since 1984; while commutes to Manhattan have essentially held steady, notching a slight 30-year decline of 7% while growing 2.6% in 2014. In total, LIRR ridership has grown 14% since 1984. Traditional commutes now constitute 57% of all LIRR travel, compared to 71% in 1984.
The ridership increases mirror increases in the frequency of trains. Metro-North ridership has been building in part because of 66 weekly trains the railroad added in October 2012, and another 187 weekly trains added in October 2013. Half-hourly weekend service was added to the eastern New Haven Line in November 2014.
The LIRR recently restored weekend and holiday service on the West Hempstead Branch, and has restored several trains that had been eliminated in 2010, including two evening rush?hour trains on the Babylon Branch, two summer?only trains to/from Long Beach, and extension of seasonal weekend service on the Montauk Branch. In total, the LIRR operated 5,000 more trains in 2014 than in 2013.
Increasing use of the railroads for large-scale sports events has also contributed to the non-commutation ridership growth. Metro-North’s Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station opened in May 2009; Barclays Center, home of the New York Nets and the future home to the New York Islanders, opened adjacent to the LIRR’s Atlantic Terminal in September 2012. Both railroads began providing trips to Jets and Giants games in 2009 with the opening of NJ Transit’s train station at the Meadowlands.
The high ridership in 2014 took place in spite of harsh winter storms that reduced travel volumes on both railroads in January and February of 2014.
(MTA - posted 4/27)
SEPTA TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS ON CAPITAL BUDGET PROPOSAL:
SEPTA riders and other local residents are invited to ask questions and submit comments about the Authority's proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Capital Budget and 12-Year Capital Program during public hearings on Tuesday, April 28. Sessions will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Board Room at SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street, Philadelphia.
SEPTA is moving forward with initiatives to renew critical infrastructure, replace aging portions of its fleet and expand capacity for growing ridership under its. The capital budget funds projects such as bridge and track replacement, reconstruction of stations and other facilities, and the purchase of new vehicles.
The $534.54 million FY 2016 proposal advances SEPTA's "Rebuilding for the Future" initiative. The Authority embarked on this plan following the November 2013 passage of Act 89, which provides capital funds for transportation improvements throughout Pennsylvania.
With Act 89 funding in place, SEPTA is embarking on a number of projects to catch up on its $5 billion State of Good Repair backlog. "Rebuilding for the Future" provides the Authority with a road-map to tackle this work, along with initiatives that will expand capacity to address ridership growth and improve accessibility for customers.
The following are some of the major programs included in SEPTA's proposed FY 2016 Capital Budget:
To view the full capital budget proposal,
(SEPTA - posted 4/27)
- Bridge Program: Work at critical spans along the Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line, such as the replacement of the Crum Creek Viaduct and upgrades to the Darby Creek, Cobbs Creek and Ridley Creek Viaducts - all of which date back to the late 1800s. Rehabilitation work on a number of stone arch bridges throughout the Regional Rail system will also advance.
- Regional Rail Parking and Station Improvements: SEPTA will strategically expand parking to meet increasing demand on Regional Rail, which has experienced ridership growth of more than 50 percent over the last 15 years. A record 36.7 million passenger trips were made last year. Work for FY 2016 includes parking expansion at Lansdale and North Wales Stations. Station Improvements are also planned at a number of locations, such as Levittown, Secane and Exton.
- Signals and Substations: SEPTA is moving forward with efforts to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) on Regional Rail by Dec. 31, 2015, as mandated by the federal government. In addition, SEPTA will move ahead with overhauls to 1930s-era power substations.
- Transit System: Station work focusing on accessibility improvements will advance at 40th Street and the Arrott Transportation Center. The Center City Concourse overhaul will enter the first of its five planned phases, initially focused on escalator and elevator improvements. Trolley infrastructure renewal will continue, including another "blitz" this summer for upgrades to the Center City Trolley Tunnel.
- New Rail Vehicles: To expand capacity for growing Regional Rail ridership, SEPTA will add new bi-level rail coaches and upgrade and expand its locomotive fleet. The locomotives currently in SEPTA's fleet are beyond their useful lives; plans call for 13 new units.
- New Hybrid Buses: SEPTA plans to continue its bus replacement program with the purchase of 525 new diesel-electric hybrids between 2016-2020. The Authority will also move ahead with procurement for new Customized Community Transportation (CCT) vehicles.
- Infrastructure Safety Renewal Program: Work will continue throughout the system to repair and replace track, signals and communication systems, improve grade crossings and enhance maintenance and support systems.
CANADA'S MINISTER RAITT LAUNCHES RAIL SAFETY WEEK WITH NEW FUNDING FOR RAILWAY CROSSING IMPROVEMENTS:
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Canada's Minister of Transport, today launched Rail Safety Week and announced new funding for railway crossing improvements. This year, Transport Canada will provide more than $9.7 million for improvements at over 600 railway crossings across the country through its Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP).
Under the GCIP, eligible railway crossings are upgraded based on factors such as traffic volume and accident history. Improvements may include installing flashing lights and bells, installing gate barriers, linking crossing signals to traffic signals, upgrading light bulbs to brighter LED lights, or adding new circuits or timing devices. Transport Canada finances up to 50 per cent of the total eligible costs of grade crossing improvements (to a maximum of $550,000 per project), with the balance provided by the railways and/or road authorities.
Transport Canada also provides funding through its Grade Crossing Closure Program (GCCP) to encourage the closure of certain grade crossings that are under federal jurisdiction. The program provides a $20,000 grant for a public grade crossing and a $5,000 grant for a private grade crossing in exchange for the beneficiary (generally a road authority or private property owner) relinquishing their rights to the crossing and closing it. In 2014-2015, Transport Canada approved $165,000 in GCCP funding to close nine crossings in the interest of public safety.
Also in support of safety at railway crossings, Minister Raitt announced in December 2014, new Grade Crossings Regulations to help prevent accidents and improve railway safety. In particular, the Regulations improve safety by:
Transport Canada takes the safety of the Canadian railway system seriously and is committed to ensuring that appropriate levels of safety are maintained. As such, on April 23, 2015, the Minister issued an Emergency Directive requiring companies to slow their trains to a maximum of 64 kilometres per hour (40 miles per hour) when travelling in highly urbanized areas, and increase inspections and risk assessments along key routes used for the transportation of dangerous goods, including crude oil and ethanol.
(Transport Canada - posted 4/27)
Providing consistent grade crossing safety standards across Canada;
Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of railway companies and road authorities;
- Promoting collaboration between these parties.
AMTRAK TO OPEN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
CENTER IN ATLANTA METRO AREA:
Amtrak announced today that it is opening an Information Technology (IT) Service Delivery Center in metro Atlanta later this summer. The new center, at Concourse Office Park in Sandy Springs, Ga., will support Amtrak IT operations nationwide.
Amtrak projects as many as 200 jobs may be created in the Atlanta metro area during the next two to five years as a result of its new IT Service Delivery Center. Amtrak currently employs nearly 50 people in Georgia and spent more than $78 million on goods and services in the state during the most recent fiscal year. Key information about Amtrak’s presence in Georgia can be found online at
. Amtrak’s Crescent service travels twice daily between New York City and New Orleans, and serves Atlanta’s Peachtree Station.
“We are excited to come to Georgia. The opening of this service delivery center strengthens our IT operations and allows us to deliver service more effectively and efficiently for our business and customers,” said Jason Molfetas, Amtrak Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President. “Our employees must continue to have the best technology capabilities that provide quick access to information, link to critical processes and connect with customers in a rapidly evolving marketplace.”
“The Atlanta metropolitan area provides America’s Railroad® a strong market to acquire and retain talent and is a component of the IT transformation at Amtrak,” said Dave Hudson, Chief Business Strategy Officer of IT and SVP of Technology Strategy. In addition to the Sandy Springs facility, Amtrak IT operations are also based in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Del.
(Amtrak - posted 4/24)
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION APPROVES $1 BILLION LOAN TO MTA TO IMPROVE LIRR & METRO-NORTH SIGNAL SYSTEM SAFETY:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Federal Railroad Administration has approved a loan of $967.1 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the improvement of the safety of the signal systems used by the MTA's two commuter railroads, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. The loan, which is the largest and lowest-cost financing for the MTA, will finance the installment of positive train control, a technology designed to remove the potential for human error that can lead to train-involved accidents.
"This loan is a dramatic investment in the MTA - one that will make trains safer for all riders on Metro-North and the LIRR," Governor Cuomo said. "With this infusion of funding, crews will be getting to work on individual cars and along hundreds of miles of track to install state of the art technology that can save lives. This loan could not have been possible without the hard work and support of DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg, and I thank them on behalf of all MTA commuter rail customers for helping us make this important advancement possible."
MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said, "We are delighted to have been able to work with the Federal Railroad Administration to make this historic, and extremely important award possible. The most important thing we do each day is strive to ensure the safety of our passengers, our employees, and the public at large. This award will help us enhance that effort in a very significant way."
Positive train control is a technology that allows computerized systems to automatically control certain aspects of train movement. It is intended to prevent train-to-train collisions, trains accidentally traveling into areas where track workers are working, or derailments caused by excessive train speed or the movement of a train through an improperly aligned switch. The technology can address situations like the Spuyten Duyvil derailment in the Bronx, where a train was going faster than its maximum allowable speed. Congress mandated the installation of positive train control in 2008 for all commuter railroads in the U.S.
Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road are in the process of implementing the technology, which includes the installation of on-board components for 1,455 rail cars and transponders alongside 588 route miles of track. In November 2013, the MTA awarded a contract to a joint venture of Bombardier Transportation and Siemens Rail Automation to act as a systems integrator that will provide the design, furnish equipment and ensure that the system functions as intended. LIRR and Metro-North forces and some third party contracts will support installations of wayside, office, communications and on-board equipment. Installation of positive train control on Metro-North territory in the State of Connecticut will be funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The loan is the largest to have been made through the Federal Railroad Administration's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program and remains subject to MTA Board Approval on April 29 and final closing in May. The MTA will issue its Transportation Revenue Bond directly to the Federal Railroad Administration and will repay the obligation over 22½ years at a fixed interest rate of 2.38%. MTA's Transportation Revenue Bonds are rated "AA-" from Standard & Poor's, "A2" from Moody's, and "A" from Fitch.
Congressman Charlie B. Rangel said, "Nothing is more important than ensuring the wellbeing of New Yorkers. I applaud Governor Cuomo's commitment to improving safety measures on Metro-North and LIRR, so that all commuters in our great State can ride knowing they are in secure hands."
Congressman Eliot Engel said, "MTA services are an indispensable part of my constituents' everyday lives. Thousands of commuters rely on the MTA daily to travel to work, home or school. They expect – and should receive – a safe train ride. Implementing positive train control is a critical step making this expectation a reality. The tragedies that occurred at Spuyten Duyvil in 2013 and in Westchester earlier this year may have been avoided if this life-saving technology had been in place. While we cannot assuage the pain and grief that these accidents have caused, we can make every effort to create a better railroad moving forward. I applaud the DOT and the Federal Railroad Administration for recognizing the need for this technology in the MTA system, and am very pleased that all rail travelers can experience a safer ride."
Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, "I'm pleased that MTA's application to install positive train control technology has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. Securing this funding would help ensure that disastrous events like the December 2013 Metro North accident never happen again. Over the last year, I have worked tirelessly to highlight the need for additional resources to help commuter railroads install PTC, and I will continue to work with federal and state officials to ensure that MTA gets the resources it needs to keep its riders safe."
Congressman Gregory Meeks said, I'd like to thank Governor Cuomo for prioritizing the modernization and improvement of the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad's 1500 railcars and hundreds of miles of track along our country's busiest commuter rail system. This unprecedented investment of nearly $1 billion in the LIRR and Metro will improve safety for riders public, transit workers for decades to come."
Congressman Joe Crowley said, "I'm pleased the federal government is making this important investment so we can ensure the safety of New Yorkers on our commuter railroads. The MTA's planned improvements will go a long way toward averting catastrophic incidents such as the ones we've seen over the past few years."
Congressman Steve Israel said, "This federal loan is a vital step to improving railway safety. I applaud the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation on their hard work to secure this loan, and I will continue to fight for federal resources for critical New York infrastructure."
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said, "I fought to pass my legislation to make positive train control installations "priority projects" for RRIF loans because investing in PTC on our commuter rail lines is the single most important thing we can do to prevent accidents and save lives. This is a critical investment in our transportation infrastructure that prioritizes the safety of thousands of my neighbors in the Hudson Valley."
Congressman Grace Meng said, "Thanks to the Federal Railroad Administration for approving this large, low-interest loan to upgrade commuter rail signal systems. The LIRR is vital to the commutes of many of my constituents and upgrading the signal system to improve safety measures is a high priority. I am pleased that this project will move forward through FRA's financing."
Congresswoman Kathleen Rice said, "There's no doubt that positive train control will make riders and workers safer and enhance the security of the commuter railroad systems that so many New Yorkers rely on every day. We need to fully implement this technology, and this major federal funding advance will allow the LIRR and Metro-North to get to work right away."
Congressman Lee Zeldin said, "As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, I applaud this crucial step to upgrade the MTA's infrastructure to ensure safety. Last month, I voted for the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act (HR 749), which included reforms to improve the slow and cumbersome process for RRIF loans, ensuring more potential borrowers have access to this critical financing for improving train safety. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo and other New York State officials to complete this important safety upgrade."
(MTA - posted 4/24)
LIRR SERVICE TO BELMONT PARK RESUMES WED. APRIL 29:
Thoroughbred racing returns to Belmont Park next Wednesday, April 29 as the racetrack’s spring meet gets underway and MTA Long Island Rail Road and the New York Racing Association (NYRA) again join together to provides daily train service for racing fans.
The LIRR has issued its Belmont Park Spring Meet Timetable
with train service info through May 17. Copies are available at stations and at
NYRA will break from the gate with seven stakes races during the first week of the season. Post time is
This year, the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes – the oldest and longest race of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown - will be held on Saturday, June 6. The LIRR will provide extra service that day and unveil station and service improvements that will help better accommodate the larger Stakes day crowd, including faster departures from the racetrack at the end of the day.
Leading up to the Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park will also be the place to watch the first two legs of the Triple Crown as it hosts a Kentucky Derby simulcast on Saturday, May 2 and a Preakness Stakes simulcast on Saturday, May 16.
(MTA - posted 4/23)
STEAMTOWN NHS RENEWS PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT WITH LACKAWANNA & WYOMING VALLEY RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY:
The National Park Service and the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society renewed a five year partnership agreement at the society's April meeting. The agreement allows the historical society to raise funds, on behalf of the National Park Service, for the restoration of the Boston and Maine #3713, a historic Pacific-type steam locomotive located at Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton. The National Park Service will perform much of the actual restoration work, and provide technical assistance to the historical society in order to develop a work strategy for the locomotive's restoration.
"The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society has been a long-standing partner of Steamtown National Historic Site and we are very happy that they have agreed to continue the challenge of raising the funds necessary to restore this historic steam locomotive to operating condition. We look forward to working with them on the completion of this project," said Steamtown Superintendent Debbie Conway.
The historical society hosts meetings at The Iron Skillet Restaurant, 98 Grove Street, Dupont, PA. For more information, including society meeting schedules, visit
More information about Steamtown NHS is available at
(NPS - posted 4/23)
STEAMTOWN NHS ANNOUNCES MAY EXCURSIONS:
Steamtown National Historic Site plans several special May excursions, beginning on National Train Day, Saturday, May 9 with an excursion to Carbondale. The trip will carry guests along a portion of the former Delaware and Hudson Railroad mainline through the Lackawanna Valley. At Carbondale, visitors to the town can enjoy a self-guided "town tour" of the Valley's "Pioneer City." The trip will depart Steamtown at 10:00 a.m. and return at 4:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $24.00 for adults 16 to 61, $22.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $17.00 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket, and all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Phone 570-340-5204 daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for reservations.
Mother's Day follows on May 10, with a special Ballroom Brunch at the historic Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel, and a roundtrip train ride to Moscow. Seatings for the Ballroom Brunch begin at 11:00 a.m., with the train departing the hotel at 1:30 p.m., returning at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $49.95 for adults, $29.95 for children 12 and younger.Information and reservations are available ONLY at the Radisson Lackawanna Station. Phone 570-558-3919.
Honor our servicemen and women at Scranton's Armed Forces Day Parade on Saturday, May 16. Steamtown NHS and Tobyhanna Army Depot have collaborated to offer this special excursion from Tobyhanna to Scranton and return. The trip departs Tobyhanna Station, located near PA Route 23 at Church and Goodwin Streets, for Scranton at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 3:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $34.00 for adults 16 to 61, $29.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $22.00 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket, and all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets for this special journey are sold ONLY through One Stop Shop at Tobyhanna Army Depot. Phone 570-615-8851 for information and reservations.
Start your Memorial Day weekend celebration with a train excursion to Jessup on Saturday, May 23. World War II reenactors will join passengers aboard the trip. At Jessup, guests can enjoy the Jessup Hose Co. #2 Firemen's Picnic or take a brief tour of this Mid Valley borough. The trip will depart Steamtown at 12:00 p.m. and return at 4:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $24.00 for adults 16 to 61, $22.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $17.00 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket. Reservations may be made by phoning (570) 340-5204 daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Lastly, on May 30, travel with us on a 26-mile roundtrip to the borough of Moscow on the western edge of the Pocono Mountains. There, you can tour the restored passenger and freight stations, as well as purchase light snacks or refreshments from members of the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society. Their efforts and donations support the restoration of Steamtown's Boston and Maine #3713 steam locomotive. The trip will depart Steamtown at 12:30 p.m. and return at 3:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $24.00 for adults 16 to 61, $22.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $17.00 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket.Reservations may be made by phoning (570) 340-5204 daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The entrance fee to the grounds at Steamtown is $7.00 per adult, daily, ages 16 and older. Excursion fares include the entrance fee, and children ages 15 and younger, accompanied by an adult, are admitted to the Park at no cost. All walking tours offered by the Steamtown NHS staff, including museum access and the park movie, "Steel and Steam," are included in the Entrance Fee. Train reservations must be prepaid, and tickets are non-refundable unless an excursion is cancelled by Park Management. We accept all major credit and debit cards.
The popular "Scranton Limited" short train rides will continue to operate on Wednesdays through Saturdays during May and June at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. On Sundays we offer the "Nay Aug Limited" short train rides that transports visitors to the Nay Aug Tunnel on the same timetable. Tickets to ride either train cost $5.00 per person, all ages 6 and older. Ranger-led walking tours are also available daily.
Located in downtown Scranton, Pa., Steamtown NHS is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. From I-81 follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). General park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5200 during regular business hours, or by visiting the Park website anytime at
(NPS - posted 4/23)
ALLENTOWN & AUBURN PHOTO FREIGHT CANCELLED:
The Allentown & Auburn freight scheduled to operate on May 2 has been cancelled due to the lack of ticket sales. The railroad plans to reschedule the train for this Fall
UNION PEARSON EXPRESS TO LAUNCH JUNE 6:
Union Pearson Express (UP Express) will go into service June 6, giving people a fast, reliable option for travelling between Toronto Pearson International Airport and the city's downtown core.
Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement today while taking part in the inaugural ride on the dedicated express train. The service will launch in time to serve visitors to the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
The government is investing more than $130 billion over 10 years in public infrastructure, the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario's history.
UP Express is one of $16 billion worth of projects underway to modernize transit infrastructure in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
Through Moving Ontario Forward, the government is investing an additional $31.5 billion over 10 years to build transit, transportation and other priority infrastructure inside and outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, supporting over 20,000 jobs per year on average in construction and related industries.
On April 16 the government announced it is able to enhance funding for Moving Ontario Forward because it is acting on recommendations from Ed Clark's review of government assets. This will unlock $4 billion, every dollar of which would be set aside for transit and transportation infrastructure.
With the launch of UP Express, Toronto will join the ranks of global cities with a seamless airport-to-downtown connection -- enhancing the region's competitive advantage, reducing gridlock and promoting tourism. The trip between Canada's two busiest transportation hubs will take just 25 minutes, and trains will depart every 15 minutes.
(Metrolinx, Bryce Lee - posted 4/22)
FASTER SCHEDULE FOR AMTRAK'S VERMONTER:
Amtrak has released the new faster schedule for the Vermonter, although its implementation is still in the future as 5 slow orders remain in Massachusetts. Trains will run about half an hour earlier leaving Vermont, southbound until Springfield MA and 15 minutes earlier north of Springfield. South of Springfield on the northeast corridor, the Vermonter keeps its existing timeslot.
While the new schedule is planned to be in place before summer, the new times haven't been loaded into the computer so anybody making reservations into the future may have their travel times updated.
The schedule is likely to be adjusted a little after 6 months as real world experience shows variance from Amtrak's expectations. It may speed up a little in the future as further work is done in Massachusetts and is scheduled to get much faster (by another 15-30 minutes or so) in 2016 as work in Connecticut is completed.
(Vermont Rail Action Network- posted 4/22)
AAR FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 18, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 556,432 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending April 18, 2015 were 276,416 carloads, down 4.9 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 280,016 containers and trailers, up 8.1 percent compared to 2014. This is the second highest week on record for intermodal units and the first time container and trailer traffic exceeded carloads for a one-week period.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: motor vehicles and parts, up 7.2 percent to 18,008 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 6.3 percent to 8,019 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.9 percent to 31,296 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: grain, down 15.8 percent to 18,166 carloads; coal, down 12.6 percent to 99,482 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1.3 percent to 15,068 carloads.
For the first 15 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,208,741 carloads, down 0.7 percent from the same point last year; and 3,840,204 intermodal units, up 1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 15 weeks of 2015 was 8,048,945 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 18, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 374,892 carloads, down 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 353,319 intermodal units, up 8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 728,211 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2015 was 10,499,143 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 81,793 carloads for the week, down 0.1 percent, and 62,356 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 15 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,053,708 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 7.2 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,683 carloads for the week, up 11.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,947 intermodal units, up 23.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2015 was 396,490 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.0 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 4/22)
NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY RIDERSHIP SURGES 2.6% IN ONE YEAR:
Subway ridership in New York City grew 2.6% to 1.751 billion customers in 2014, the highest annual ridership in more than 65 years, according to new figures from Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Transit. Some 5.6 million customers rode the subway on an average weekday and 6 million customers on an average weekend. Weekday ridership rose by more than 132,000 last year, and by more than 500,000 over the last five years. At its busiest, the subway system carried more than 6 million customers on 29 weekdays in the last four months of 2014 – a level not seen since the post-World War II boom.
This growth was seen across the city in all boroughs and all lines, with the highest percentage increase in neighborhoods seeing rapid residential development and population increases, such as Bushwick in Brooklyn and Long Island City in Queens. While ridership grew in every part of the day and every day of the week, weekday growth was strongest outside of the traditional morning and evening rush hours.
As subway ridership surges along with New York City’s population, the increased number of customers creates challenges for the MTA to operate the subway system while minimizing delays, crowding and inconvenience. The subway system has traditionally performed maintenance work during off-peak hours, which are now experiencing record ridership.
“The renaissance of the New York City subway is a miracle for those who remember the decrepit system of the 1970s and the 1980s, but moving more than 6 million customers a day means even minor disruptions now can create major delays,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “We are aggressively working to combat delays and improve maintenance, but the ultimate solution requires investing in infrastructure upgrades such as Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signaling systems to accommodate every one of our growing number of customers.”
Brooklyn had the largest borough-wide average weekday percentage ridership increase (2.7% or more than 31,000 riders per weekday), followed by 2.5% growth in Manhattan, 2.1% in the Bronx and 1.9% in Queens.
In Brooklyn, every station on the L line saw a ridership increase last year, with ridership increasing 4.7%, or more than 5,600 customers, on an average weekday. The L Subway Line is the MTA’s only line with CBTC signaling, which has enabled the MTA to add dozens of trains per week to handle the ridership spike in recent years. The Bedford Av station in Williamsburg saw 27,224 average weekday customers, more than any other station on the L Subway Line in Brooklyn, but the largest weekday percentage increases occurred farther east on the line in Bushwick at Bushwick Av-Aberdeen St (11.5%), Wilson Av (9.9%) and Jefferson St (9.3%).
The M Subway Line in Brooklyn serves some of the same areas and also saw rapid growth, with average weekday ridership up 6.2% at stations between Marcy and Metropolitan Avs. stations from Queens through Brooklyn have seen average weekday ridership grow 31% since 2009, after the M Subway Line was rerouted to serve Midtown Manhattan in 2010.
New residential development is driving ridership growth in Long Island City, Queens. Weekday ridership grew by 12%, or 1,500 customers per day, at the Vernon-Jackson Av 7 Subway Line station, and by 9.7%, or nearly 2,000 customers, at the Court Sq E,G,M, and 7 Subway Lines station. Ridership at the Vernon-Jackson Av station has more than doubled since 2000. The MTA is installing CBTC on the 7 line, which will allow more trains to run closer together, carrying more customers while also providing countdown clock information.
In the Bronx, the 2 and 5 Subway lines grew by 3.7%, or nearly 4,800 customers per day. In Manhattan, the Lenox Avenue 2 and 3 Subway lines through Harlem saw 3.7% growth, or more than 2,100 customers per day.
(MTA - posted 4/21)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S 21ST CENTURY STEAM EXCURSIONS:
A reposting of this season's 21st Century Steam Excursions over Norfolk Southern. Steam locomotives 611, 4501, and 765 will power these trains, as follows:
(NS - posted 4/21)
Weekend of June 6 will travel between: Manassas – Riverton Junction, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
Weekend of June 13 will travel between: Lynchburg – Petersburg, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
June 27 will travel between: Bristol, Va. – Bulls Gap, Tenn. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
June 28 will travel between: Bristol – Radford, Va. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
Weekend of July 4 / Roanoke – Lynchburg and Walton, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
Weekend of July 18 will travel between: Fort Wayne – Lafayette, Ind. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of July 25 will travel between: Youngstown – Ashtabula, Ohio behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Aug. 1 will travel between: Buffalo – Corning, N.Y. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Aug. 8 will travel between: Allentown – Pittston, Pa. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Aug. 15 will travel between: Scranton, Pa. – Binghamton, N.Y. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Sept. 12 will travel between: Jersey – Cleveland, Tenn. behind SOU 4501 - FWRHS. .
Weekend of Sept. 12 /
Trips celebrate 100th anniversary of the Nicholson Bridge, between Scranton – Nicholson, Pa. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Oct. 3 will travel between: Macon – Tennille, Ga. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
Weekend of Oct. 10 will travel between: Atlanta – Toccoa, Ga. behind SOU 4501 -
STOURBRIDGE LINE EXCURSIONS SET TO RESUME:
Passenger excursion trains are set to resume over the dormant Stourbridge Line, between Honesdale and Hawley, Pa. The inaugural runs are scheduled for May 9th and 10th and tickets have just gone on sale yesterday and are limited quantity. Departures are on Sat May 9th at 9am, 12 Noon, and 3pm and the same on Sunday May 10th. For additional information, visit http://www.thestourbridgeline.net/.
(Jeff Hiller - posted 4/20)
NEW AMTRAK PERE MARQUETTE TRAIN SCHEDULE :
A new schedule for the Amtrak Pere Marquette will make it more convenient for passengers to attend sports, music and theatre events in Chicago and result in eight to 10 jobs being based in Grand Rapids, Mich.,effective May 4. The new schedule (attached) also improves connections with other Amtrak trains.
The current schedule allows a six-hour day in Chicago and was crafted for Chicago-based crew cycles. Last year’s opening of the Vernon J. Ehlers Station allowed for the creation of a crew base in downtown Grand Rapids and a nine-hour day for passengers to work or play in Chicago.
Amtrak employed 237 Michigan residents last year, with total wages of $19.5 million. Goods and services purchased in Michigan by Amtrak totaled $17.3 million in 2014.
All Amtrak service in Michigan is operated under a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
(Amtrak - posted 4/20)
NJ TRANSIT SET TO BEGIN PUBLIC HEARINGS ON FARE AND SERVICE PROPOSAL
Throughout the past five years, NJ TRANSIT held the line on fare increases while maintaining high quality services and implementing new customer amenities including MyTix, Departurevision, and MyBus Now.
However, costs such as contract services – Access Link, the organization’s paratransit service, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and private carriers – and healthcare and benefits, general liability insurance, workers’ compensation and pensions have steadily risen. As a result, NJ TRANSIT has been left with a significant budget gap.
Although NJ TRANSIT has identified more than $40 million in reductions in overtime, fuel savings, energy and vehicle parts efficiencies, the agency still faces an approximate $60 million budget gap for the 2016 fiscal year. To close the gap, fare and service adjustments are being proposed.
NJ TRANSIT will hold nine scheduled public hearings and one information session beginning Saturday, May 16, 2015 to allow the public the opportunity to learn more about the proposed fare increases and service changes and offer comments before the plan is considered by the Board of Directors on July 8, 2015.
The proposed service and fare changes would take effect in September 2015 and on October 1, 2015, respectively. The proposed fare adjustment would be an average of 9 percent for the majority of NJ TRANSIT customers.
(NJ Transit - posted 4/20)
CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS FIRST QUARTER RESULTS:
Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: "CN turned in a solid first-quarter performance thanks to strong freight demand and continued productivity improvements, helped in part by easier winter conditions compared with last year's polar vortex.
"CN is pleased to affirm its outlook for double-digit EPS growth in 2015 versus last year's adjusted diluted EPS of C$3.76, despite weaker than expected energy markets and a mixed economy. (1)
"As always we remain committed to growing our business faster than the overall economy and doing so at low incremental cost. We are equally committed to running a safe railway and are increasing our 2015 capital envelope by C$100 million to C$2.7 billion to sustain additional rail infrastructure safety investments." (2)
Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. The fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar affects the conversion of the Company's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses. On a constant currency basis, CN's net income for the first quarter of 2015 would have been lower by C$56 million, or C$0.07 per diluted share. (1)
First-quarter 2015 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses
Revenues for the first quarter of 2015 increased by 15 per cent to C$3,098 million. Revenues increased for grain and fertilizers (24 per cent), forest products (23 per cent), automotive (23 per cent), metals and minerals (22 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (13 per cent), and intermodal (11 per cent). Coal revenues declined by 13 per cent.
The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; higher volumes of Canadian grain and potash; strong overseas intermodal demand; higher shipments of lumber and panels to U.S. markets; higher volumes of frac sand; and freight rate increases. These factors were partly offset by decreased shipments of coal due to weaker global demand. Overall, revenues were favorably affected by improved operating conditions due to a more normal winter when compared with the same period of 2014, which enhanced the Company's ability to serve its customers.
Carloadings for the quarter rose by nine per cent to 1,353 thousand.
Revenue ton-miles, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by seven per cent over the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per revenue ton-mile, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, increased by eight per cent over the year-earlier period, driven by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar and freight rate increases, partly offset by a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate.
Operating expenses for the quarter increased by nine per cent to C$2,035 million, mainly as a result of the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses, increased casualty and other expense, higher labor and fringe benefits expense, as well as increased purchased services and material expense, partly offset by lower fuel costs. Overall, expenses were favorably affected by improved operating conditions due to a more normal winter when compared with the same period of 2014.
(CN - posted 4/20)
NEW FEDERAL REGULATIONS CONCERNING MOVEMENT OF CRUDE OIL AND ETHANOL BY RAIL:
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced with its agencies, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a package of targeted actions that will address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The volume of crude oil being shipped by rail has increased exponentially in recent years, and the number of significant accidents involving trains carrying ethanol or crude oil is unprecedented.
“The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”
These actions represent the latest in a series of more than two dozen that DOT has initiated over the last nineteen months to address the significant threat to public safety that accidents involving trains carrying highly flammable liquids can represent. Today’s announcement includes one Emergency Order, two Safety Advisories, and notices to industry intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids.
“These are important, common-sense steps that will protect railroad employees and residents of communities along rail lines. Taking the opportunity to review safety steps and to refresh information before moving forward is a standard safety practice in many industries and we expect the shipping and carrier industries to do the same,” said Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.
“Our first priority is to prevent these accidents from ever happening,” stated Acting PHMSA Administrator Tim Butters. “But when accidents do occur, first responders need to have the right information quickly, so we are reminding carriers and shippers of their responsibility to have the required information readily available and up to date.”
The actions taken today coincide with actions being taken by other government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).
(FRA - posted 4/17)
1) Preliminary investigation of one recent derailment indicates that a mechanical defect involving a broken tank car wheel may have caused or contributed to the incident. The Federal Railroad Administration is therefore recommending that only the highest skilled inspectors conduct brake and mechanical inspections of trains transporting large quantities of flammable liquids, and that industry decrease the threshold for wayside detectors that measure wheel impacts, to ensure the wheel integrity of tank cars in those trains.
2) Recent accidents revealed that certain critical information about the train and its cargo needs to be immediately available for use by emergency responders or federal investigators who arrive on scene shortly after an incident. To address the information gap, DOT is taking several actions to remind both the oil industry and the rail industry of their obligation to provide these critical details
3) DOT has determined that public safety compels issuance of an Emergency Order to require that trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas adhere to a maximum authorized operating speed limit of 40 miles per hour in High Threat Urban Areas. Under the EO, an affected train is one that contains: 1) 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block, or 35 or more loaded tank cars, of Class 3 flammable liquid; and, 2) at least one DOT Specification 111 (DOT-111) tank car (including those built in accordance with Association of American Railroads (AAR) Casualty Prevention Circular 1232 (CPC-1232)) loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid.
RAILROAD UNIONS ADVANCING TWO PERSON CREW LEGISLATION TO PROTECT SAFETY:
Continuing a cooperative effort to promote safety in the railroad industry, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers International Association (SMART) have jointly announced that legislation requiring at least two crew members on all freight trains in the U.S. has been introduced in the 114th Congress.
The Safe Freight Act (H.R. 1763), introduced by Congressman Don Young
(R-Alaska) on April 13, would require two crew members — one certified locomotive engineer and one certified conductor — on all freight trains.
The newly-introduced legislation mirrors H.R. 3040, which had more than 80 co-sponsors last year prior to conclusion of the 113th Congress. H.R. 1763 has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
H.R. 1763 would require that “no freight train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight may be operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least 2 individuals, one of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a locomotive engineer pursuant to section 20135, and the other of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a conductor pursuant to section 20163.”
The joint effort reflects heightened concerns over crew size arising from the July 6, 2013 derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) oil train in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people and destroyed the center of the town. The MM&A train was crewed by a single person. Since that time, there has also been movement by major freight railroads to seek collective bargaining agreements to allow for widespread use of one-person train operations.
“The BLET continues to oppose and condemn single-person freight operations as adverse to worker and public safety,” BLET National President Dennis R.
Pierce said. “All parties involved must understand that as things stand today, there are only two ways to end one-person train operations: federal laws or regulations that outlaw this dangerous practice, or collectively bargained contract language that requires two crew members on every train.
We will continue to work to protect contractual language to defend two-person crews, and it also is our goal to protect the safety of railroad workers and the general public by advocating for passage of H.R.
SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich said, “The SMART Transportation Division has always espoused that the safest rail operation is a two-person crew operation. With several major train derailments having occurred in the last few months, most notably the oil train derailment and explosion near Charleston, W.Va., in February, our lawmakers and the general public must understand that multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities. I would like to thank Cong. Don Young (R-Alaska) for his leadership on this critical rail safety issue. No one would permit an airliner to fly with just one pilot, even though it can fly itself.
Trains, which cannot operate themselves, should be no different.”
(BLET - posted 4/17)
CN LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS IN CANADA RATIFY NEW LABOR AGREEMENT:
CN announced today that locomotive engineers in Canada represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union have ratified a new collective agreement with the company.
The three-year agreement retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, provides wage increases and benefit improvements to approximately 1,800 locomotive engineers.
Jim Vena, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "We are pleased with the TCRC members' ratification of this new labour agreement, which was bargained by the parties in February 2015 without the threat of labour disruption. With this ratification, CN has concluded its current round of collective bargaining in Canada and remains focused on delivering solid service to our customers and acting as a true backbone of the economy."
(CN - posted 4/17)
CLASS J 611 HOMECOMING TO KICK OFF NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S 21ST CENTURY STEAM EXCURSIONS:
The 611 is going home again, coming back from its second restoration to headline Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam excursions in 2015.
Sixty-five years after the Class J 611 was built at Norfolk & Western Railway’s shops in Roanoke and placed into service for the first time May 29, 1950, the locomotive is scheduled to return under steam May 30, fulfilling the dreams of its Virginia Museum of Transportation owners and rail enthusiasts worldwide.
nched plans for 21st Century Steam in 2010, and President Jim Squires will be aboard a J-powered train from Spencer, N.C., where the 611 has been undergoing restoration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum since June 2014.
Neither progress of rail industry dieselization nor ravages of time spent lying dormant on display for decades could defeat the 611, which survived the scrap heap of other steam locomotives and two retirements to take its place among a trio of iconic engines that will power 21st Century Steam this year. The others are Southern Railway 4501 and Nickel Plate Road 765.
VMT is a new sponsor with Norfolk Southern, joining the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society to operate excursion trips between June 6 and Oct. 11. Tickets and schedule details will be available on the websites of trip sponsors.
Here is the schedule. All excursions are round trips.
Southern Railway’s 4501 was the pioneer locomotive in Norfolk Southern’s initial steam excursion program that operated from 1964 to 1994. The 4501 returned to excursion service in 2014 after being rebuilt at TVRM’s Chattanooga shops. Nickel Plate Road 765 was built in 1944 by Lima Locomotive Works at Lima, Ohio, and has been used in excursion service since 1979.
But it is the powerful sleek N&W Class J 611 with its bullet nose and tall-as-a-man driving wheels on a 4-8-4 configuration that many associate with the halcyon days of steam railroading. Its initial restoration in 1982 after two decades of retirement was occasion for a movie, “Going Home,” produced by Norfolk Southern. “The J being alive of course is the greatest joy that we true rail fans have had in many many years,” an appreciative fan says in the movie. The resurrection kept the J chugging in excursion service until 1994, when Norfolk Southern concluded its steam program, and 611 was retired a second time and put on display again at VMT.
Norfolk Southern’s 2010 announcement of plans to operate 21st Century Steam prompted hope that the 611 might ride the rails yet again. In 2013, VMT launched a study and then a capital campaign, “Fire Up 611!” to fund restoration of the locomotive. Norfolk Southern donated $1.5 million from proceeds of sale of a Mark Rothko abstract expressionist painting. The 611 was towed to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in May 2014 for display among a group of historic locomotives, and the restoration began there in June.
(NS - posted 4/16)
Weekend of June 6 will travel between: Manassas – Riverton Junction, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
Weekend of June 13 will travel between: Lynchburg – Petersburg, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
June 27 will travel between: Bristol, Va. – Bulls Gap, Tenn. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
June 28 will travel between: Bristol – Radford, Va. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
Weekend of July 4 / Roanoke – Lynchburg and Walton, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
Weekend of July 18 will travel between: Fort Wayne – Lafayette, Ind. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of July 25 will travel between: Youngstown – Ashtabula, Ohio behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Aug. 1 will travel between: Buffalo – Corning, N.Y. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Aug. 8 will travel between: Allentown – Pittston, Pa. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Aug. 15 will travel between: Scranton, Pa. – Binghamton, N.Y. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Sept. 12 will travel between: Jersey – Cleveland, Tenn. behind SOU 4501 - FWRHS. .
Weekend of Sept. 12 /
Trips celebrate 100th anniversary of the Nicholson Bridge, between Scranton – Nicholson, Pa. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
Weekend of Oct. 3 will travel between: Macon – Tennille, Ga. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
Weekend of Oct. 10 will travel between: Atlanta – Toccoa, Ga. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
CN ANNOUNCES MULTI-YEAR C$500 MILLION CAPITAL PROGRAM TO UPGRADE WESTERN CANADA FEEDER RAIL LINES:
CN announced today a multi-year program to invest approximately C$500 million in infrastructure improvements to its Western Canada feeder rail lines in Alberta , Manitoba , and Saskatchewan that are handling rising volumes of industrial products, natural resources, and energy-related commodities.
In 2015, CN will allocate approximately C$100 million for work on northern Alberta branch lines, investing in infrastructure upgrades and safety improvements, including heavier rail, crushed rock ballast and new ties, to ensure the network can efficiently accommodate future freight volume growth in the Peace River region.
Claude Mongeau , president and chief executive officer, said: "CN is building for the future with large capital investments in long-term safety and capacity improvements to ensure it continues to play its role as a true backbone of the economy.
"CN sees significant long-term potential in its customer base located on its Western Canada feeder network. We want to provide our customers with the capacity for continued efficient freight transportation services that increase their competitiveness in North American and global markets, as well as ensure our rail infrastructure is as safe as possible."
CN continues to see rising freight volumes in Western Canada , which have increased by more than 50 per cent in the past five years. Given this growth, CN has also invested significantly in its Edmonton - Winnipeg main line corridor, installing sections of double track, extending sidings to accommodate longer more efficient trains, and improving major classification yards.
CN's major investments in Western Canada are designed to increase the capacity and safety of its rail infrastructure and to allow the company to continue to grow at low incremental cost in support of Canada's trade.
Mongeau concluded: "CN believes that commercial principles and a stable regulatory environment are essential to support rail infrastructure investment and maintain Canada's safe, efficient and well-functioning rail transportation marketplace in the future."
(CN - posted 4/16)
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTATION AWARDS EIGHT SAFETY GRANTS:
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded eight grants totaling more than $21.2 million that invest in highway-rail grade crossing safety, Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation, and passenger rail. FRA awarded the grants as part of a Notice of Funding Availability it issued in July 2014 to distribute new FY14 Omnibus funding as well as unobligated funds from the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
“These projects are examples of the positive work we could do if we had predictable, dedicated funding for rail,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The GROW AMERICA Act is a blueprint for continued economic growth that will help us further strengthen rail’s safety record, close the nation’s infrastructure deficit, and modernize the nation’s freight and passenger rail network.”
The eight grants were awarded in states across the country and feature a wide array of projects:
Grade Crossing Safety
Positive Train Control
California Department of Transportation: Pacific Surfliner Chesterfield Drive Crossing Improvements – $2,236,550
Illinois Department of Transportation: Springfield, Ill. Ash Street Underpass –$2,000,000
Passenger Rail Planning
Transportation Technology Center, Inc.: PTC Implementation Project Interoperable
Train Control Messaging Security – $432,000
Amtrak: Wireless Communication and Key Management Implementation – $2,640,000
ARINC Inc.: Implementation of PTC Shared Network and User Support – $4,992,799
- Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Metro North Hudson Line PTC – $3,000,000
“Enhancing grade crossing safety, investing in the deployment of PTC, and funding planning efforts are investments that will make our rail network safer, more reliable, and efficient,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “Continuous investment in rail infrastructure will enable us to meet the growing demand for rail and to keep people living along rail lines safe.”
The GROW AMERICA Act is a long-term transportation bill the Department sent to Congress, which provides funding growth and certainty so that state and local governments can continue to improve our infrastructure. It invests $478 billion over six years to make critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century
(USDOT - posted 4/16)
California Department of Transportation: Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan – $2,982,050
Illinois Department of Transportation: Chicago Union Station Terminal Planning Study – $3,000,000
CONGRESSMAN PAYNE INTRODUCES THE TANK CAR SAFETY AND SECURITY ACT OF 2015:
Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) today introduced the Tank Car Safety and Security Act of 2015, legislation to strengthen the safety standards for DOT-111 tank cars that transport flammable liquids.
“The safety of New Jersey families is my top priority, which is why I have introduced the Tank Car Safety and Security Act,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “Transporting flammable liquids and other hazardous materials always carries risks, but it’s critical that shipments of these materials are as safe as possible in order to mitigate these risks and protect our communities.”
“As we saw from the recent unfortunate incident in West Virginia, the consequences of a derailed tank car carrying hazardous materials can be devastating, threatening water supplies and endangering the lives of many,” added Congressman Payne, Jr. “There is a clear need to ensure the safe transport of flammable liquids, and the Tank Car Safety and Security Act aims to do just that.”
On February 16, a train hauling crude oil derailed in West Virginia, shutting down water treatment plants and burning down a house. Tank car derailments have been an ongoing problem throughout the United States, including in New Jersey. In 2013, there were 116 crude-oil tank car incidents, according to the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
The Tank Car Safety and Security Act of 2015 requires the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to revise federal standards for DOT-111 tank cars used to move flammable liquids. The legislation requires all cars to include an outer steel jacket as well as thermal protection, full-height head shields, and high-flow capacity pressure relief valves. Tank cars built after October 2011 must be updated to include high-flow capacity pressure relief valves and design modifications to prevent bottom outlets from opening in the event of an accident.
Additionally, the legislation requires the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to submit to Congress a plan to phase out older-model DOT-111 tank cars that are not retrofitted to meet the new safety standards. Finally, the Act directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator to issue a set of procedures to ensure that every rail car containing crude oil will not be left unattended when transferred from one carrier to the next.
(Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr - posted 4/15)
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 11, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 11, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 557,812 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending April 11, 2015 were 287,349 carloads, down 2.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 270,463 containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent compared to 2014.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 13.9 percent to 23,741 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, up 5.5 percent to 15,317 carloads; and chemicals, up 2 percent to 31,342 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: coal, down 8.2 percent to 105,691 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, down 3.9 percent to 35,794 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 3.6 percent to 17,814 carloads.
For the first 14 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,932,325 carloads, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year; and 3,560,188 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2015 was 7,492,513 carloads and intermodal units, which was flat compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 11, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 384,937 carloads, down 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 342,504 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 727,441 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2015 was 9,770,932 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 80,782 carloads for the week, up 2.4 percent, and 61,964 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 14 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,909,559 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 7.6 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,806 carloads for the week, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,077 intermodal units, up 1.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2015 was 368,860 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 4/15)
CSX CORPORATION ANNOUNCES FIRST-QUARTER EARNINGS:
CSX Corporation (CSX) today announced first-quarter 2015 net earnings of $442 million, an 11 percent increase from $398 million in the same period last year. The company also generated earnings per share of $0.45, a 13 percent increase from $0.40 per share in the first quarter of 2014.
Revenue in the quarter was $3.0 billion, driven by growth across many of CSX's markets and an improved pricing environment, partially offset by the impact of low natural gas prices, lower fuel recoveries and the strong U.S. dollar. At the same time, the benefit of lower fuel prices and cost-saving initiatives more than offset higher inflation and volume-related costs in the quarter. As a result, operating income increased by 14 percent to $843 million and the operating ratio improved 330 basis points to 72.2 percent.
"In this dynamic economic and business environment, CSX's core earnings remain strong and we are continuing our drive to provide excellent service for our customers and value for our shareholders," said Michael J. Ward, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our commitment and confidence in CSX's future is underscored by the positive shareholder actions we're taking today."
The CSX Board of Directors has approved an increase in the quarterly dividend and a new share repurchase program. The 13 percent increase in the dividend, to $0.18 per share, is payable on June 15, 2015 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 29, 2015. This is the 13th increase in 10 years, representing a 26 percent compound annual growth rate during that time. The new, $2 billion share repurchase program is expected to be completed over the next 24 months. This follows the successful completion of CSX's previous repurchase plan, during which the company bought back $1 billion worth of shares. Since 2006, CSX has repurchased nearly $9 billion in shares.
(CSX - posted - 4/14)
ELECTRIC CITY TROLLEY MUSEUM ACQUIRES BRILL WORK CARS:
SEPTA is selling two 1920s era trolley work-cars to the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton for $1.00. The two trolley cars were manufactured by J.G. Brill. One of the trolley cars is the W-56, featuring a crane.for overhead wire repairs. Lackawanna County had sent a letter to SEPTA in April 2014 expressing an interest in the two trolley cars. However, since the trolley cars predated the SEPTA formation in 1964, the transit agency had to get permission from the trolley's previous owner, the City of Philadelphia, to allow for their sale.
(Scott Snell - posted 4/14)
NEW CONNECTIONS AVAILABLE TO AMTRAK NETWORK FROM SCRANTON & NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA :
Residents of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and White Haven, Pa. can now connect to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and the national passenger rail network via convenient and affordable Thruway Bus service to/from Philadelphia 30th Street Station, provided by Martz Trailways.
Daily bus trips between northeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia provide convenient connections to/from Northeast Regional and Acela Express trains serving Washington, Boston, Virginia cities and intermediate points. Connections can also be made to the Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian (Harrisburg, Lancaster, Pittsburgh) as well as Crescent (Atlanta, New Orleans), Silver Star (Orlando, Tampa, Miami) and Capitol Limited (Cleveland, Chicago) trains.
Amtrak Thruway connections enable passengers to utilize other carriers to connect with Amtrak trains from cities without Amtrak rail stations. All buses and Northeast Corridor trains are equipped with on-board wifi and electrical outlets.
Passengers can book bus and train tickets together at Amtrak.com or via the Amtrak mobile apps available for iPhone, Android and Windows devices. (Amtrak - posted - 4/14)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN EXPECTS TO REPORT EARNINGS OF $1.00 PER SHARE, 15% BELOW 2014:
Norfolk Southern Corporation’s first quarter 2015 diluted earnings per share are expected to be $1.00 per share, 15% below the same quarter 2014. The reduction in earnings is primarily due to lower than expected revenues, although certain expense items also affected the comparison. Revenue decreases reflect reductions in fuel surcharge revenue in each of NS’ three commodity groups, continued reductions in coal volumes, and a lower average revenue per unit related to the mix of business. Lower overall expenses were aided by declining fuel expense but hurt by weather and service recovery costs.
First quarter revenues are expected to be approximately $2.6 billion, a 5% decrease compared with the same period last year. Coal shipments continue to experience downward pressure, weighted by a significant decline in export coal volume. Merchandise saw growth in volumes, though revenues declined due to unfavorable revenue per unit brought on by reduced fuel revenues and changes in the mix of traffic. Within the intermodal category, increased volumes and core pricing gains roughly offset the impact of lower average revenue per unit due to fuel revenue reductions.
First quarter expenses will be approximately $2.0 billion, a decrease of 3% versus 2014. This improvement was led by significantly reduced fuel expenses. Remaining costs were adversely affected by weather and service-recovery costs, and also by increased hiring and training costs, and a labor agreement signing bonus. The benefits of the increased hiring have begun and will be even more apparent in future quarters as the new employees complete training and enter regular service.
Following the weather related challenges of the first quarter, volumes are expected to rebound in the second quarter, with the exception of coal, which will continue to be pressured given current market dynamics. In the current energy environment, revenues for the year are expected to be less than revenues for 2014, and the Company continues to focus on improving core pricing as service levels improve.
The Company’s continuing actions to restore service levels should result in gradual improvement during the second quarter and a return to normalized levels during the third and fourth quarters of the year. Second quarter expenses will continue to reflect service recovery costs, currently estimated at $25 million, which is commensurate with the second quarter of 2014. As new employees and additional locomotives are deployed and new infrastructure projects become fully operational during the second quarter, the Company will be well-positioned to capitalize on market opportunities and unwind excess service-related costs.
“Our goal remains the same: to operate an efficient, high velocity railroad, which enables us to offer the best possible customer service and retain and grow our business at rates that provide a superior return for our owners,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “I am confident in our ability to reach high performance levels this year. With operations showing sustained improvements, and with better weather and enhanced infrastructure and personnel, we look forward to stronger results in the second quarter and the second half of the year(NS - posted - 4/13)
AMTRAK LOWERS SLEEPING CAR FARES TO FLORIDA :
Amtrak will offer passengers a lower-cost option for travel in our popular sleeping cars on one of our routes between New York and Miami. This offer will be available for travel between July 1 until the end of January 2016 on the Amtrak Silver Star (Trains 91 & 92), which operates daily between New York City and Orlando/Miami, via Washington, D.C., Columbia, S.C., and Tampa, Fla.
Traditionally, Amtrak has bundled the cost of dining car meals into its charge for the sleeping car. Under this pilot program, these costs will be un-bundled to allow passengers to travel at a lower cost between the northeast, mid-Atlantic and Florida.
All food service will be provided in a Café/Lounge car instead of a dining car. Passengers can purchase a selection of hot and cold sandwiches, snacks and other items in the Café.
Passengers will continue to have the option of choosing traditional dining car service aboard the Amtrak Silver Meteor (Trains 97 & 98), which duplicates much of the Silver Star route. Dining car meals aboard the Silver Meteor are included in the sleeping car charge.
Passengers with sleeping car accommodations on all Amtrak trains with sleeping car services, including the Star and Meteor, are provided complimentary morning coffee, chilled water and juices, meals delivered to their rooms upon request, turn-down service for their bedrooms and roomettes, private restrooms and access to shower facilities. At stations with ClubAcela®, sleeping car passengers also have same-day lounge access and pre-boarding privileges.
“Customers have been clear they want more options,” said Mark Murphy, Amtrak Senior Vice President and General Manager responsible for the long-distance trains nationally. “From this summer through early next year, passengers will be able to opt for different service levels between our two daily trains to Orlando and Miami.”“We are excited to be able to offer our customers real choice and value,” Murphy added. “And now this route allows you to choose between two services - sleeping cars with a traditional dining car and sleeping cars where you can choose your own meal options.”
Savings from typical sleeping car upgrade (“accommodation”) charges during this trial on the Silver Star schedule are between 25 and 28 percent for bedrooms and roomettes, including popular stops such as Orlando, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale. For example, the charge is about $140 lower for a bedroom and $65 lower for a roomette than previously between New York City and Miami.
Since the upgrade charge is based on the size of the sleeping compartment, rather than the number of occupants, cost savings for passengers traveling alone can be significant.
Over the next few months, Amtrak will closely watch customer reaction and market (Anmtraj - posted - 4/13)
SEPTA BREAKS GROUND ON 69TH STREET WEST TERMINAL IMPROVEMENTS:
SEPTA officially kicked off the West Terminal Improvements Project at 69th Street Transportation Center with a groundbreaking ceremony today. SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey was joined by elected officials and community leaders for the event.
"Almost 35,000 people use 69th Street Transportation Center every day," said Casey. "The improvements we are making at the West Terminal will ensure that those customers will have a restored and modernized place where they can catch our buses and trolleys."
69th Street Transportation Center is a 105-year old, multi-modal facility, serving passengers on SEPTA's Market-Frankford Line, Norristown High Speed Line, trolley Routes 101 and 102 and 18 bus routes. Renovations at West Terminal include:
The $19.6 million 69th Street Transportation Center West Terminal Improvements Project is part of SEPTA's
"Rebuilding for the Future"
capital program. The work is funded through the Federal Transit Administration Bus and Bus Facility Livability Grant Program and Pennsylvania Act 89.
"SEPTA's 69th Street Transportation Center is a transit gateway for travel to and around Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Chester counties," said Casey. "Without federal and state support, we would not have been able to complete this necessary work. I applaud our elected officials for recognizing the need for investing in our transportation infrastructure and awarding SEPTA the funding needed for this vital reconstruction project that will that improve mobility and strengthen our community."
Portions of the West Terminal project are underway. The entire West Terminal will be closed beginning June 15, to allow for the remainder of the project to be completed. The new West Terminal is scheduled to be completed in November 2015. During construction, shuttle buses will be used for Trolley Routes 101 and 102 and the boarding locations for those buses, as well as Routes 104, 107, 109, 110, 111, 112, 120, 123 and 126 will be relocated to a temporary loop. (SEPTA - posted 4/13)
-Reconstructing pedestrian ramps to terminal platforms, the North and Center Platforms and canopies and Center Platform waiting area
-Partially reconstructing the South Platform
-Enhancing safety and security efforts by installing cameras
-Furthering SEPTA's commitment to sustainability by incorporating design features including green roofs to reduce storm water drainage, energy efficient LED lighting and architectural elements in the passenger waiting area that will allow for increased natural light and reduced energy use.
USDOT CELEBRATES INTRODUCTION OF NEW RAIL CARS TO ENHANCE SAFETY, RELIABILITY ON THE D.C. METRORAIL SYSTEM:
U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez and Federal Transit Acting Administrator Therese McMillan were in Arlington, Va., today for the launch of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) new state-of-the-art 7000-series rail cars for the Metrorail system. The new cars will belong to a fleet of more than 500 new rail cars, which are designed to provide a safer, more comfortable ride for millions of passengers and expand the Metrorail system’s capacity overall.
“Safety is our number one priority, and WMATA’s 7000-series rail cars are specifically designed to move hundreds of thousands of daily riders as safely as possible as they travel to work, school, doctor’s appointments and other destinations,” said Deputy Secretary Mendez.
The rail cars will replace all 300 of the Metrorail 1000-series cars that have been in service for nearly 40 years, fulfilling a key safety recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the fatal Metrorail collision at Fort Totten Station in June 2009, which involved some of those cars. The WMATA accident, along with other incidents elsewhere in the United States spurred the Obama Administration to seek and ultimately secure new federal safety oversight authority.
The new 7000-series rail cars will eventually be deployed throughout Metrorail’s entire fleet, including the new Silver Line as it ultimately expands to serve Dulles International Airport. Secretary Foxx traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska last year, and visited the Kawasaki plant where the new rail cars were built.
“The time has arrived to retire the oldest, 1000-series rail cars in the Metrorail fleet and replace them with a new generation of safer vehicles,” said FTA Acting Administrator McMillan.
At today’s event, Deputy Secretary Mendez and Acting Administrator McMillan were joined by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and other state and local officials.
Investments like the 7000-series rail cars are vital to meet the transportation needs of the nation and to support local economic development. Under the Administration’s
GROW AMERICA Act
, a comprehensive multi-year program to fund infrastructure improvements, $115 billion is identified for investment in transit systems. The proposal significantly increases transit spending, which will enable the expansion of new projects that improve connectivity to jobs, educational and other opportunities.
FTA has provided over $80 million in funding to date, specifically to help fund the replacement of the 1000-series rail cars. In addition, FTA has also contributed over $54 million for 64 new rail cars through the Capital Investment Grant Program (New Starts), as part of a $900 million construction grant agreement with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for Phase 1 of the Metrorail Silver Line extension project. (USDOT - posted 4/13)
BECHTEL SELECTED TO DELIVER SPADINA SUBWAY EXTENSION IN TORONTO:
Bechtel has been awarded a contract to work with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to deliver the Spadina subway extension in Toronto , Canada. Bechtel will provide program management services as part of an integrated delivery team with the TTC. "We recognize the importance of the Spadina subway extension to Toronto and are fully committed to playing our part in the safe completion of this project by December 31, 2017 ," said George Morschauser , Rail Operations Manager, Bechtel. "We look forward to working with the Toronto Transit Commission to deliver a quality, operational subway."
The Spadina subway extension will extend the existing subway line across Toronto city's boundary to the rapidly growing York region. The 8.6 kilometer extension will include six new stations and commuter parking.
"We've been working in Canada since 1942 and are delighted to continue contributing to the country's infrastructure," said Walker Kimball , General Manager - Infrastructure, Bechtel. Bechtel has completed more than 800 studies and projects in Canada . The company's current projects in Canada include the Keeyask Generating Station in Northern Manitoba , the Kitimat aluminum smelter in British Columbia and our continued participation in the oil sands of Northern Alberta .
A global leader in rail, Bechtel has successfully delivered more than 6,200 miles of railways and completed 35 metropolitan rapid transit systems. The company has worked on some of the largest and most complex railway projects in the world including the Channel Tunnel, San Francisco BART extension, the fixed-deadline delivery of the London Underground Jubilee Line Extension, and the delivery of the Athens Metro in time for the 2004 Olympics in Greece . Bechtel is currently part of the integrated management team delivering Crossrail in the UK—the largest infrastructure project in Europe—and is also designing and constructing lines 1 and 2 of the Riyadh Metro, Saudi Arabia .
- posted 4/13)
STB APPROVES LOUISVILLE & INDIANA UPGRADE:
Anacostia Rail Holdings (ARH) and CSX today announced that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has approved a joint proposal by ARH's subsidiary, Louisville & Indiana Railroad (L&I), and CSX to upgrade a key freight corridor between Indianapolis, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky.
"These upgrades will benefit L&I and CSX customers in the Midwest and across the companies' networks by improving operational efficiency, allowing more direct transit across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, and reducing congestion in those states," said Oscar Munoz, president and chief operating officer, CSX. "The privately funded upgrades, which will include the installation of new rail, upgrades to the rail bed structure and bridge improvements, will enhance service and capacity on this rail line."
CSX's total investment of approximately $100 million will not only benefit L&I's local customers, but will connect the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville to enhanced rail access, and provide more efficient rail service for freight shipments through the region.
"This project enhances critical rail infrastructure that connects local customers to America's freight transportation network, supporting local manufacturing, economic development, jobs and competitiveness," said Peter Gilbertson, chairman and chief executive officer, Anacostia Rail Holdings.
CSX and L&I appreciate the diligent review of this project by the Surface Transportation Board.
(CSX - posted - 4/10)
FIFTH ANNUAL PROJECT 113 SLIDE SHOW:
Fifth Annual Project 113 Slide Show will
be held Saturday, April 25, 2015
Doors will open at 8:00 AM for coffee and doughnuts. The presenters will begin at 9:00 AM.
The show will be presented at the campus grounds of the Minersville Junior-Senior High School. The show will be in the auditorium and lunch will be in the cafeteria.
There will be vendors on site, also raffles and door prizes
The master of ceremonies for this event will be Mr. Al Barnes.
The presenters will be:
Lunch will be provided by Christy Joy Catering Service.
The cost is $30.00 per person. Seating is limited, tickets will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. Checks can be made payable to Project 113 and sent to Project 113, 113 East Sunbury Street, Minersville, PA 17954. For information phone: 570-544-8300 or email: email@example.com.
Directions to Show
Coming from Rt. 81, exit at Minersville exit, take Pa 901 east. In town of Minersville turn left on 5th Street, follow approximately 1 mile, turn left at high school entrance, follow road to school.
Coming from the south: When entering Minersville, turn left on Sunbury Street which is also Pa 901. Make a right on 5th Street and follow above instructions.
(posted - 4/10)
9:00-9:45---Dale Woodland, My Norfolk Southern Heritage Locomotive Hunt
10:00-10:45---Mike Smith, Canadian Pacific Steam
11:00-11:45---Allen Keller, Railroads of the Great Northwest Around Seattle
12:45-1:00---Joe Fusco, Restoration Progress of CNJ 113
1:00-1:45---Dave Augsburger, Railroading in the Lehigh Gorge
2:00-2:45---Kermit Geary Jr., Eastern Railroading
3:00-3:45---Craig Werley, Kantner Collection
NEW PHOTOGRAPH EXHIBIT TRACKS PROGRESS OF MTA CAPITAL PROJECTS:
MTA Arts & Design has installed “Breaking Ground,” a photography exhibit by Patrick J. Cashin that focuses on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s major infrastructure projects. The yearlong exhibit near the fare control area at the 4and 5 Subway Line's Bowling Green station, which is the latest in Art & Design’s large-scale photography exhibits, offers a glimpse of the future of New York City public transportation and a behind-the-scenes look at MTA’s major capital projects.
Cashin, a former Newsweek lab technician/photographer, has been visually documenting the MTA’s projects, milestones and other news-making events for 15 years. His role within the MTA gives him a unique view and access to the transit authority’s mega-projects, workforce and advanced equipment that few see in person. Selections of his photography are available for public view and media use on the
MTA’s Flickr account.
, but the exhibit at Bowling Green is the first time that his photography has been displayed in large format in a public space.
The photographs featured at Bowling Green were taken deep beneath New York City. They show the herculean efforts underway to build the important transportation infrastructure that is vital to the city’s growth. Cashin’s trained eye captures the massive earth-moving equipment and MTA crews responsible for carving out subway tunnels and railroad tubes in the city’s bedrock. Among the MTA capital projects highlighted in the photographs are the Second Avenue Subway, the 7 Subway Line extension to Manhattan’s west side and the East Side Access project, which will link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal.
“There has been an amazing amount of excavation and construction work going on, out of sight, as MTA builds a 21st-century transit system for New York, and we wanted to share some of Patrick J. Cashin’s photographs with the public,” said Sandra Bloodworth, the Director of Arts & Design. “His vivid photos in our Lightbox Program take you directly to the site so you can experience firsthand this remarkable work.”
Cashin’s photographic subjects resemble the set of a futuristic movie, with their images of tunnels and massive equipment that most people associate with the scale of epic movies. The seven large-scale images include the tunnel boring machine used to drill into the bedrock for East Side Access and visually shift from earth to concrete as subway tunnels take shape. The most recent photograph, taken in February 2015, shows the massive curved space underneath Second Avenue that has become the 96 St Q subway line station as it awaits finishing touches.
“You can feel history being made when you’re behind the lens deep beneath the street, surrounded by massive equipment and workers,” Cashin said. “It’s a great subject for a photographer, as I get to create a record of something that will become part of the life of the city for generations to come.”
The exhibit was made possible with the generous support of Kodak Alaris and Duggal Visual Solutions. MTA Arts & Design’s Lightbox Program exhibits photography at four locations within the transit system: B, D, F and M Subway Lines at 42 St-Bryant Park; 4, 5, 6, 7, and S Subway Lines at Grand Central-42 St.; B, D, N, Q, R, 2, 3,4, and 5 Subway Lines at Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr; and 4 and 5 Subway Lines at Bowling Green. New artworks are installed annually at each location.
(MTA - posted 4/10)
NJ TRANSIT CALLS FOR CONGRESS TO PASS LONG-TERM TRANSPORTATION FUNDING
At NJ TRANSIT’s Market Street Bus Garage in Paterson, NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim today joined with federal and local officials, along with business and labor leaders, to call upon Congress to pass a long-term funding bill for transportation projects as part of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) nationwide “Stand Up for Transportation Day.”
The current federal transportation bill is set to expire on May 31, 2015. Advocates have urged Congress to enact a new multi-year authorization bill that provides dedicated monies for the Highway Trust Fund. The Fund would be used to seed not only the current federal transit program but would also account for expansion to cover additional transit and highway infrastructure needs. Without a long-term federal transportation funding bill, as well as funding at all levels of government, projects across New Jersey, including projects like the $17.5 million refurbishing of the Market Street Bus Garage, face an uncertain future.
“There are very real and damaging consequences if Congress fails to pass a long-term, federal transportation bill,” said Executive Director Hakim. “This facility, while fully funded, represents the type of initiative that would be susceptible to delay or cancellation should a long term funding agreement not be reached. Projects of this nature are a lifeline for communities and any delay in the work could have negative impacts in service to the surrounding area.”
The Market Street Garage consists of two buildings: the old trolley barn, constructed in 1903, which serves as the bus storage area and also includes the fuel lanes, bus washer, and transportation offices; and the bus maintenance bay, constructed in 1945, containing the maintenance offices, boiler plant, and bus repair and inspection areas. The total area of the facility is 102,400 sq. ft. It serves as the home base of a total of 135 NJ TRANSIT and Suburban buses serving 17 bus lines in Passaic, Morris and Bergen counties. It is staffed by 75 maintenance employees, and 280 transportation employees.
The Market Street Garage project, which includes accessibility improvements and replacement or rehabilitation of the building’s mechanical, electrical, structural, communications and security systems, is fully funded by the NJ Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). NJ TRANSIT has completed the design phase of the project and the construction is expected to be advertised for bid in the summer of 2015.
Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), with support from national and local partners from transportation organizations, business and community-oriented interests, Stand Up for Transportation Day is uniting over 300 participating organizations in communities across the country to focus on the urgency of the passage of a long-term, federal transportation bill.
(NJT - posted 4/10)
VIA RAIL RESUMES TRAIN SERVICE BETWEEN TORONTO AND WINNIPEG:
VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) announces that as of April 10, passenger rail service between Toronto and Winnipeg will resume. “As the summer approaches and with one more departure each way - starting May 1st and until mid-October - this news is very welcomed by our passengers, the travel industry and our employees” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail.
VIA Rail is communicating with passengers who have reservations for April 11 and 14 departing from Toronto and April 10 departing from Vancouver. Passengers with later bookings in April and May on the Canadian will receive confirmation that the service has resumed between Winnipeg and Toronto. Delays may occur and VIA Rail will keep its passengers informed of any en route schedule changes.
(VIA Rail Canada - posted 4/09)
The next westbound departure out of Toronto (Train #1) will be on Saturday, April 11 at 10 p.m. The train will arrive in Winnipeg on Monday, April 13 and in Vancouver on Wednesday, April 15.
Passengers booked on the eastbound Canadian departing Vancouver (Train #2) on Friday, April 10 will arrive in Winnipeg on Sunday, April 12 and in Toronto on Tuesday, April 14.
AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 4, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 4, 2015.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 549,021 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending April 4, 2015 were 277,894 carloads, down 6.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 271,127 containers and trailers, up 3.8 percent compared to 2014.
Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 5.7 percent to 20,868 carloads; and forest products, up 2.3 percent to 11,215 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: coal, down 11.7 percent to 102,298 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 6.2 percent to 21,836 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 5.2 percent to 34,648 carloads.
For the first 13 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,644,976 carloads, down 0.2 percent from the same point last year; and 3,289,725 intermodal units, up 0.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 13 weeks of 2015 was 6,934,701 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 4, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 370,042 carloads, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 340,265 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 710,307 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2015 was 9,043,491 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 77,920 carloads for the week, up 1.2 percent, and 61,736 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 13 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,766,813 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 7.9 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 14,228 carloads for the week, down 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 7,402 intermodal units, down 25.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 13 weeks of 2015 was 341,977 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR- posted 4/09)
AMTRAK ANNOUNCES AMTRAK TRAIN DAYS
TOUR AND EXHIBIT TRAIN LOCATIONS:
Amtrak is partnering with NOOK by Barnes & Noble, Chuggington and others at select Amtrak Train Days (ATD) events taking place across the country this spring, summer and fall. These celebrations are occurring in more than twenty locations with the official kick-off event at Chicago Union Station on May 9, 2015.
ATD events will feature various components of the Amtrak experience at each location (a dedicated tour of the Amtrak Exhibit Train in select markets, interactive displays, excursion trains and tours). ATD tour and Amtrak Exhibit Train stops through June include:
The Amtrak and NOOK by Barnes & Noble partnership will create an enhanced travel experience by leveraging expert booksellers to curate a collection of free eBooks and e-magazines for Amtrak passengers – perfect for enjoying a comfortable train ride. Passengers will be thrilled to access bestselling titles from top publishers that have been customized to appeal to every reading preference, including classics, romances, mysteries, thrillers, children’s and business titles. To get ready for the Amtrak and NOOK promotion, you can install the free NOOK reading app today on your Android or iOS device by visiting www.NOOKapp.com.
Chuggington, the sponsor of The Chuggington Kids Depot and Chuggington Live (at our Chicago kick-off event) joins Amtrak with train-themed kids’ activities based on the popular
children’s animated television series, Chuggington, on Disney Junior. Other partners include Operation Lifesaver, Amtrak Vacations and local and state partner affiliates.
This year, Amtrak is expanding its community program from multiple events on a single
day to individual events over the course of the spring, summer and fall. Amtrak Train Days will focus on reaching current and new audiences across America to reinforce the importance, benefits and value of passenger train travel.
Communities from across the nation are invited to join in the celebration of passenger train travel by hosting their own ATD events during 2015. To register an event, find additional tour stops or for more information about ATD, visit AmtrakTrainDays.com.
Amtrak Train Days 2015 Sweepstakes is running from May 9 –November 30. One Grand Prize winner will win a trip for four people courtesy of Amtrak Vacations, one Chuggington Prize Pack and a Walthers Model Train Set. Winners will be chosen on December 1, 2015.
(Amtrak - posted 4/08)
Railroad Days 2015 in Fullerton, Calif., May 2-3
Toledo Train Day, May 2
Official Amtrak Train Days Kick-Off at Chicago Union Station, May 9
Amtrak Train Days at Salem, Ore., Riverfront Park, May 16
Amtrak Train Days at California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, June 6 -7
Amtrak Train Days at Dunsmuir, Calif., Railroad Days, June 13
Amtrak Train Days at Galesburg, Ill., Railroad Festival, June 27- 28
US DOT SECRETARY FOXX ANNOUNCES $500 MILLION IN SEVENTH ROUND OF TIGER FUNDING:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that $500 million will be made available for transportation projects across the country under a seventh round of the highly successful U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program.
TIGER 2015 discretionary grants will fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a region, or metropolitan area.
The TIGER 2015 grant program will continue to make transformative surface transportation investments by providing significant and measurable improvements over existing conditions. The grant program will focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for disconnected both urban and rural, while emphasizing improved connection to employment, education, services and other opportunities, workforce development, or community revitalization.
For information on the 2015 TIGER summit, please click
(US DOT - posted 4/06)
AAR REPORTS TRAFFIC FOR MARCH AND FOR WEEK ENDING MARCH 28, 2015:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for March 2015 and first three months of 2015.
Carload traffic in March totaled 1,117,029 carloads, down 3.4 percent or 39,793 carloads from March 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,084,136 containers and trailers in March 2015, up 5.7 percent or 58,161 units from the same month last year. For March 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,201,165, up 0.8 percent or 18,368 carloads and intermodal units over March 2014. The weekly average of 550,291 carloads and intermodal units was the most for March since 2007, prior to the start of the last recession, and 21.5 percent higher than the weekly average in March 2009.
In March 2015, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with March 2014. This included grain, up 10.9 percent or 8,896 carloads; metallic ores, up 19.1 percent or 3,377 carloads; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 1.8 percent or 1,481 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in March 2015 from March 2014 included coal, down 6.9 percent or 31,205 carloads; primary metal products, down 16.2 percent or 6,756 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 7 percent or 4,170 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were down 1.2 percent or 8,588 carloads in March 2015 from March 2014 and when both coal and grain are excluded, U.S. carloads were down 2.8 percent or 17,484 carloads last month.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first three months of 2015 was 3,367,082 carloads, up 0.3 percent or 10,345 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 3,018,598 units, up 0.1 percent or 2,435 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first quarter of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 6,385,680 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent or 12,780 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.
"Like other key economic indicators, rail traffic is presenting a mixed message," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "Rail intermodal traffic rebounded well in March, but many carload commodities did not. Coal is facing a number headwinds. There are risks going forward, to be sure, but for now we see no reason to think that the economy won't continue its recent pattern of relatively modest growth."
Week Ending March 28, 2015
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending March 28, 2015 was 563,280 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 284,935 carloads, down 5.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,345 containers and trailers, up 5 percent compared to 2014.
Two of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR each week posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, grain, up 3.5 percent to 22,776 carloads; and farm products, up 2.3 percent to 17,454 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases for this one week compared with the same week in 2014 were led by metallic ores and metals, down 12.6 percent to 21,195 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 10.9 percent to 13,788 carloads; and coal, down 9.1 percent to 106,484 carloads.
North American rail volume for the week ending March 28, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 384,692 carloads, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 352,189 intermodal units, up 6.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 736,881 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 12 weeks of 2015 was 8,333,184 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with 2014.
Canadian railroads reported 82,074 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 63,365 intermodal units, up 13.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 12 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,627,157 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,683 carloads for the week, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,479 intermodal units, up 9.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 12 weeks of 2015 was 320,347 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 4/06)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN LAUNCHES $53 MILLION ENERGY INNOVATION PROJECT AT JUNIATA LOCOMOTIVE SHOP:
Norfolk Southern (NSC) today launched a $53-million energy conversion project at its Juniata Locomotive Shop that will substantially reduce carbon emissions and water usage at the 70-acre facility.
Norfolk Southern will replace the shop's coal boilers with natural gas heaters and install a 1.2-megawatt capacity combined heat and power generator that will produce enough electricity to sustain the entire 16-building complex. When completed in late 2017, Norfolk Southern expects the improvements to save about $4 million in electricity costs, reduce water usage by 49.4 million gallons from steam-water recovery, and eliminate more than 29,000 tons of carbon emissions in Pennsylvania on an annual basis. The project goes beyond equipment changes to include adding insulation, energy-efficient windows at key locations, high-speed roll-up doors on locomotive bays, and replacing roofing to ensure the full sustainability benefits of the investment are realized.
The project follows a comprehensive review of work demands and energy consumption at Juniata, the largest locomotive repair shop in North America and headquarters for Norfolk Southern's locomotive rebuild program. The facility has about 1,050 employees who specialize in heavy repairs and engine overhauls.
"This project showcases Norfolk Southern's commitment to sustainability and innovation," said CEO Wick Moorman. "The Juniata Locomotive Shop has a 125-year legacy of leading the rail industry in locomotive technology, and with our energy conversion project, this shop and its employees will remain an industry frontrunner in the 21st century."
"I applaud Norfolk Southern's commitment to innovation and growth for the rail industry in Blair County and across the country," said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "The Juniata Locomotive Shop has been operating for over 100 years in Central Pennsylvania, and this latest investment helps solidify its continued role in growing this nation through our railroads."
State Sen. Jon Eichelberger; state Rep. John McGinnis; Jim Frank, district director for Congressman Bill Shuster; and Blair Wimbush, NS vice president real estate and corporate sustainability officer, also participated in the project launch
The Juniata Locomotive Shop has provided good-paying job opportunities for the citizens of Blair County and surrounding counties for generations," said Dennis Davin, acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. "This significant investment by Norfolk Southern in energy efficiency will help ensure that this facility remains competitive."
"This is an important announcement by Norfolk Southern in many respects," said state Sen. John Eichelberger. "They are again demonstrating their long-term commitment to the Juniata shops, which is a vital part of our region's economy, and by converting to cleaner-burning natural gas, they are helping our Commonwealth's burgeoning drilling industry."
( Norfolk Southern
- posted 3/27)
KEOLIS ANNOUNCES FULL RESTORATION OF MBTA BOSTON AREA COMMUTER RAIL SERVICE ON MARCH 30:
Keolis Commuter Service today announced that regular weekday service for MBTA Commuter Rail would be fully restored on Monday, March 30, with the number of seats available to passengers returning to pre-storm levels.
The commuter rail system has been operating on a limited schedule for the past month after a series of record-setting winter storms dropped more than 100 inches of snow on the Boston area, causing damage to the railroad infrastructure and to the locomotive fleet.
"On behalf of the entire Keolis team, I want to thank our passengers and this community for bearing with us as we have worked day and night over the past month to restore the commuter rail service," said Keolis Commuter Services General Manager Gerald C. Francis. "We know the service interruptions have caused hardships for our passengers and we want this community to know that we are doing everything in our power to regain their trust by providing a service that is safe and reliable, and to communicate better when issues arise that impact schedules."
In the wake of the storms, 23 of the 65 locomotives needed to run regular weekday service were disabled when their traction motors were damaged by snow and ice. In just three weeks, a total of 67 traction motors failed. By comparison, about 20 traction motors would be expected to fail during an entire "normal" winter.
Weekend schedules have remained at full service throughout the recovery.
- posted 3/26)