` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine







Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
DECEMBER 18, 2014:


SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY STATION SHELL AT 86TH STREET COMPLETE: Construction of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) largest expansion of the transit system in decades, the Second Avenue Subway, has reached another critical milestone with the on-time completion of the 86th Street Station cavern. Work began in August of 2011 and was completed earlier this week. This project, valued at $332 million, included extensive excavation for the bedrock cavern that will house the station as well as the shafts and adits for the entrances and cross passageways. In addition, installation of the cavern's massive concrete structural lining was part of the effort. Utility work was also required for this assignment. Two buildings within the 1,000-foot-long footprint of the work area had to be underpinned in order to support the structures throughout construction activities. "We have now completed 76% of the work needed to build Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway. This project will benefit residents of the Upper East Side in so many ways,” said Michael Horodniceanu, President, MTA Capital Construction. Although the heavy civil portion of the station is now complete, work continues on the HVAC, elevator and escalator installations, and other architectural finishes that will be required to complete the station structure and the ancillary structures. The $4.45 billion project to build Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway will feature new stations at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street and a station renovation with a new 3rd Avenue entrance at 63rd Street. Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway will serve more than 200,000 people per day, reducing overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue Line and restoring a transit link to a neighborhood that lost the Second Avenue Elevated in 1940. When Phase I is complete, it will decrease crowding on the adjacent Lexington Avenue Line by as much as 13%, or 23,500 fewer riders on an average weekday. It will also reduce travel times by up to 10 minutes or more (up to 27%) for those on the far east side or those traveling from the east side to west midtown. (MTA - posted 12/18)

NEW CAF BAGGAGE CARS EN ROUTE TO AMTRAK: The Amtrak program to modernize its long-distance train equipment will advance to a key milestone today (Dec. 17), when 18 new baggage cars depart the CAF USA Elmira, N.Y. facility and travel to Amtrak’s Hialeah maintenance facility for final inspections before acceptance.Two locomotives and eighteen baggage cars will depart the CAF USA Elmira, N.Y., facility on Wednesday, traveling to Albany, N.Y., at about 8:30 p.m. that evening.  From there, the special train will travel through New York to Philadelphia, arriving around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18.  In Philadelphia, two additional baggage cars that have been testing on the Northeast Corridor will be added to the consist.  Around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, 20 of the new baggage cars will depart Philadelphia following about 2 hours behind Silver Service Train 97 through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.  The special train is expected to arrive in Hialeah, Fla., around 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 19.   After arriving in Hialeah, the baggage cars will go through a final round of inspections before being accepted.  The baggage cars are expected to enter revenue service in early 2015 and subject to be used on any of Amtrak’s 15 long-distance routes.  The baggage cars are part of a larger order for 130 single-level long-distance passenger cars, including diner, sleeper and bag-dorm cars.  All four car types will modernize the Amtrak fleet, improve reliability and maintenance, upgrade passenger amenities, travel at speeds up to 125 mph and replace units built as far back as the 1940 and 1950s.   (Amtrak Blog via Andy Kirk - posted 12/17)

CMQ COMPLETES $10M INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND RECEIVES GREEN LIGHT FROM TRANSPORT CANADA: Following months of work, a multitude of inspections, and an additional $10M investment, Central Maine & Quebec Railway got the go-ahead it had been looking for from Transport Canada. On December 5, CMQ received the official revocation of a series of notices and orders, confirming immediate threats no longer exist on CMQ railway. The notices and orders were transferred to CMQ following its purchase of bankrupt Montreal Maine & Atlantic. CMQ has spent the last four months installing more than 32,000 new crossties, 110,000 linear feet of rail, and 25,000 tons of ballast, upgrading bridges, culverts, and crossings, completing surfacing work, and removing more than 300 in-track rail defects from its main tracks and sidings. The Sherbrooke subdivision is the 125 mile backbone of CMQ's Quebec rail line and stretches from Lac-Mégantic to Brookport just east of Farnham.  "We had to make this investment. The line was covered in snow last February and March when we were finally able to begin our diligence, but we made a commitment to Lac-Mégantic Mayor Laroche and citizens, as well as many regulators, that we would address the years of neglect," said CMQ President and CEO John Giles. Giles further commented, "It was an extremely tough undertaking. We had industry peers questioning the amount of work that we signed up for with such a short construction season. I knew we were in good hands with Ron Marshall, General Manager of Engineering, leading this project with his team."  Ron Marshall is the 30 year industry veteran handpicked by Giles to lead CMQ's engineering team. When asked about the scope of project, Marshall commented, "This is one of the most challenging construction seasons I've ever been involved in. But I knew from my experience working with this team at RailAmerica that I would have the support I needed. This investment demonstrates our team's commitment to operating the railway in a safe and responsible fashion." CMQ considers Phase I of its transformation now largely completed. "Not to say we don't have a lot more track and infrastructure work to do next spring, but we have already started Phase II, which focuses on growth, customers, and interline partners," added Giles. CMQ continues to strengthen its sales and marketing team, with a new commercial associate joining the company early in January. We have a lot to do telling the story of the new CMQ Railway and reconnecting with our existing and new shippers. Our sales and marketing associate will focus on Quebec and Vermont," concluded Giles.   (CMQ via Randy Kotuby - posted 12/17)

CSX CREATES OPPORTUNITIES FOR INCREASED CROSS-BORDER TRADE WITH NEW INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN MONTREAL: CSX announced the opening of a new intermodal terminal in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield near Montreal, Quebec. The facility expands CSX's intermodal network capacity and offers Canadian customers domestic and international service that connects with the railroad's 21,000 mile network in the United States. "CSX continues to invest in our intermodal business as a key growth driver and we look for long-term opportunities, such as increased north-south trade access outlined by the North American Free Trade Agreement," says Clarence Gooden, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at CSX. "Opening a terminal near Montreal creates an opportunity to build relationships with new customers on our network, expand access to new markets, and improve the efficiency of the North American supply chain." The $100 million terminal, which spans 89 acres, includes cutting-edge equipment to capitalize on the efficiency and environmental benefits of intermodal rail transportation, such as three state-of-the-art rubber-tire gantry cranes – the first of their kind at an Eastern Canadian intermodal facility. Construction also incorporated environmentally sustainable innovations in the areas of noise abatement and protection of downstream waterways. With capacity for 100,000 loads, the Valleyfield terminal is an important addition to the railroad's unique intermodal network, which offers both point-to-point corridor service and a hub-and-spoke model that allows it to reach into small- and medium-sized markets, to capitalize on the growing demand for intermodal transport. Trains serving the new terminal will also connect through the Northwest Ohio intermodal hub, offering efficient access to markets across the United States and Canada. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/16)

PASSENGER COMMUNICATION IMPROVEMENT PROJECT COMPLETED AT WASHINGTON UNION STATION Amtrak, in partnership with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), has completed a project to expand and improve the public address and electronic passenger information display systems (PIDS) at Washington Union Station. The $2.2 million project was primarily funded under the MTA-Amtrak Joint Benefit Program. For the public address system, more than 290 speakers and 44 LED signs were installed on the station platforms used by Amtrak, MARC and VRE trains. The PIDS are ADA-compliant, installed in the station and on the platforms, and communicate real-time train status, boarding and station announcements, and safety and security messages in both audible and visual formats. Other passenger benefit improvements in recent years at Washington Union Station include installation of the train information board in the Main Hall which was jointly funded by Amtrak and MTA. Also, Amtrak installed ADA-compliant audio inductive loop technology at designated ticket counters and at the customer service desk to enhance the travel experience for passengers with hearing loss and to improve communication with Amtrak customer service representatives. Washington Union Station is a bustling retail and multi-modal facility that serves more than 32 million visitors annually, and station partners continue to focus on improving the passenger experience. The Washington Union Station Master Plan sets forth a new vision to revitalize the historic station through a multi-phased approach, to gain increased passenger and Amtrak rail capacity, add new station amenities and transit-oriented mixed-use development above the tracks. While work continues to advance the plan, early action items focus on improving the rail passenger waiting areas and expanding the existing concourse to improve pedestrian traffic flow. (Amtrak - posted 12/16)

NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF RESTORATION OF HISTORIC RED BANK STATION: NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna and other officials today marked the completion of a three-year, $2.5 million project to stabilize and restore the historic Red Bank Station. Built in 1876, Red Bank Station was added to the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places in 1976. The project was aimed at stabilizing the facility and restoring its original aesthetics. “Red Bank Station is a very important facility in NJ TRANSIT’s transportation network but is more than just a rail station to NJ TRANSIT,” stated Executive Director Hakim. “It is an integral part of the fabric of the Red Bank community. It was important for us to return this historic site to its original condition so it may continue to be a landmark for generations to come. Together with Red Bank, we at NJ TRANSIT look forward to welcoming both loyal and new customers at this restored and inviting station.” The overall goal of this project was to sufficiently protect this landmark station from the natural elements while keeping true to the historic identity of the station and the community it serves. As part of the project, efforts were undertaken to repair roof soffits, strengthen the wood framing of the structure, replace the shingles with historically accurate slate roof, repoint the brick foundation wall and the brick chimney, recreate a brick “crown" atop the chimney and install new windows and roof dormers. The restoration also included the reconstruction of the “Yankee” gutters, installation of new downspouts and replacement of historic windows, shutters and gingerbread trim – all with historically correct material. The exterior paint of the station matches its original 1876 color scheme. “The residents of Red Bank and its visitors are grateful to NJ TRANSIT for the extraordinary renovation and restoration of the Red Bank Train Station,” stated Mayor Menna. “It has been a focus of the community for generations and our essential link to the rest of the state and beyond. The restoration is important because it identified NJ TRANSIT's commitment to our shared historical legacy and preserves it for future generations. It also now is a focus for the rejuvenation of the Train Station district as an anchor in the midst of new transit based and exciting housing opportunities for new generations of Red Bankers. It recommits our town to a strong commercial and transit based future as we move forward with new complimentary projects.” Red Bank Station is located in Red Bank, New Jersey and serves NJ TRANSIT's North Jersey Coast Rail Line as well as local bus service. The Red Bank Station averages 1187 weekday passenger boardings (FY2014), with 67 daily trains (34 in-bound, 33 out-bound) utilizing the station. Additionally, Red Bank station serves nearly 700 weekday bus customers traveling to and from destinations including Freehold, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Oceanport, Colts Neck, Rumson and Highlands. (NJ Transit - posted 12/16)

AMTRAK VERMONTER SERVICE TO THE KNOWLEDGE CORRIDOR STARTS DECEMBER 29: Amtrak announced today that Amtrak Vermonter service to the Knowledge Corridor will start on December 29, 2014, with stops in Greenfield and Northampton, Mass. Tickets are now available for purchase. The Vermonter will also add a stop in Holyoke, Mass., later in 2015 when station work is complete. The added stops due to the reroute will replace service provided to the Amherst station, which will end on December 28. The restoration of train service to the Knowledge Corridor has been a goal of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Governor Patrick’s Administration, who have been leading the effort to improve the Pan Am Southern tracks and shorten trip times within the Commonwealth. Funding for the project was provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In preparation for the new service, Amtrak has been working with local authorities to raise rail safety awareness by meeting with community groups and schools. A variety of rail safety education tools are available from Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety education organization. The Vermonter operates daily between Washington and St. Albans, Vt., with service to Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Conn., Springfield, Mass. and Essex Junction, Vt., and other intermediate stops. In Fiscal Year 2014, ridership on this route increased 6.6 percent, providing service to more than 89,000 passengers.Passengers may book travel via Amtrak.com, mobile apps, or by calling 800-USA-RAIL for any station along the route between Washington and St. Albans, Vt., using the attached(Amtrak - posted 12/14)

FINAL CSX OYSTER EXPRESS TRAIN DELIVERED TO CHESAPEAKE BAY: A unique, year-long partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and CSX recently came to a close with delivery of the 22nd and final freight train filled with fossilized oyster shells from Florida to the Chesapeake Bay. Over the past 12 months, CSX has transported about 100,000 tons of the fossilized shell to help rebuild habitat in two Maryland oyster sanctuaries. Trains carrying the shells were delivered to CSX's Curtis Bay ore pier once every 10 to 14 days, where the shells were transferred to barges for the trip to the sanctuaries on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Once in place, the shells provide a habitat where young oysters can thrive. Viable oyster reefs and the ecosystem they support provide natural filtering capabilities to help improve the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, filtering silt, sediment and nitrates from the water.  "Using the best available science, DNR  and our many partners are working together to restore oyster habitats in Maryland," said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. "We are already seeing remarkable results in Harris Creek. Once degraded reefs are now teeming with life as a direct result of our collaborative efforts, and we couldn't be more excited about the progress." With the help of partners, the State has planted more than a billion oysters in the Harris Creek Sanctuary since 2011. Since restoration efforts began, areas with less than one oyster per square meter now have upwards of 25 oysters per square meter.   "The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's partnership with CSX has provided an amazing opportunity to help accelerate oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and chief executive officer, NFWF. "Connecting CSX's transportation services with the great work of the State of Maryland and its partners, including the Oyster Recovery Partnership, is a great example of how public and private interests can work together to take a significant step toward a healthy Bay ecosystem." "Oysters have been central to the Maryland way of life for centuries, and restoring the Chesapeake Bay's oyster beds is critical for this region's environment and the economy," said Michael Ward, president, chairman and chief executive officer of CSX. "CSX is proud to be a part of this unique public-private partnership in helping to restore one of our nation's greatest natural assets." With a lack of natural, affordable shell available to support restoration of the two sanctuaries, DNR and its partners found the quality and quantity of the next best thing - fossilized shell - for purchase from Gulf Coast Aggregates near Carrabelle, Florida. To address the challenge and expense of moving the large volume of material, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation negotiated an agreement with CSX to transport the shell at cost. Maryland purchased the materials at a cost of approximately $6.3 million. CSX provided an in-kind investment valued at approximately $2.4 million in the form of reduced-cost transportation. The Maryland Environmental Service is coordinating the effort on behalf of the state. Production of young oysters and their placement on the new reefs will be conducted by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. The sanctuaries were chosen for the initial large-scale restoration project because of their water quality, salinity levels, shape, location, and protected sanctuary status all point to a high likelihood of success. More than 150,000 cubic yards of granite from a Maryland quarry also will be used as substrate in the sanctuaries. Scientists believe the project ultimately can serve as a blueprint to expand large-scale oyster restoration efforts to other Bay tributaries. Maryland and its partners continue to make progress under all 10 points of the Governor's Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, adopted in 2010. In 2013, Governor O'Malley announced another oyster restoration landmark, as the state and its partners produced and planted 1.25 billion oysters that year. The University of Maryland Horn Point Hatchery was responsible for the record - the first time any oyster hatchery in the country has passed the 1-billion mark for Eastern oyster spat production. (CSX - posted 12/14)

MTA SEEKS FEDERAL FUNDS TO INCREASE CAPACITY IN THE CANARSIE L SUBWAY LINE: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is seeking federal funding toward approximately $300 million in infrastructure improvements for the Canarsie L Subway Line, which runs from Manhattan to the Canarsie section of Brooklyn through neighborhoods that have seen the largest increases in population in New York City. More than 300,000 customers use the Canarsie L Subway Line on an average weekday, an increase of 98% since 1998. Average weekday entries at the Bedford Av station, the busiest station on the line, have increased by 250%. The line has experienced a 27% increase in ridership since New York City Transit installed Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC) in 2007, a new signal system that increased NYCT’s ability to run more trains each hour. Proposed infrastructure improvements include adding three power substations to allow for two additional trains per hour, a 10% increase in service, which could carry 2,200 additional customers per hour. Other elements include installing elevators at the 1 Av and Bedford Av stations to make them fully compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and adding new street-level entrances at both stations to make it easier for customers to enter or exit the stations and alleviate platform crowding that can delay trains. “More than 49,000 customers use the 1 Av and Bedford Av stations on an average weekday, and the stations experience overcrowding during peak periods. The area around the Bedford Av station has been rezoned to allow for almost 10,000 new residential units, and ridership is expected to continue to rise,” said New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have to increase capacity on the Canarsie Line and improve customer flow at stations to meet this increasing demand, and securing federal funding for a project of this magnitude will go a long way toward achieving that goal.” At Bedford Av, plans call for two new 7-foot-wide street stairs on the east side of Bedford Avenue. This would be a 138% increase over current street stair capacity at the station, which currently consists of two 5-foot-wide street stairs. Platform stair capacity at Bedford Av would increase by 38%, with two 7-foot, 6-inch stairs replacing an existing single 12-foot-wide stair). At the 1 Av station, new fare control areas at Avenue A would double capacity – a 100% increase – up to the street from each platform. The Avenue A entrances would serve 60% of the station’s ridership, thus eliminating a 500-foot walk (from First Avenue to Avenue A) for 31,000 weekday customers entering or exiting the station. To advance the improvements, the MTA will be requesting funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s new Core Capacity grant program. Work on the Canarsie improvements is expected to take several years, with construction on the new station entrance at 1 Av to start first. Work on the infrastructure improvements will be coordinated with planned repairs to the Canarsie Tube, which was flooded during Superstorm Sandy. Those repairs include work on tracks, signals, tunnel lighting, cables, pump facilities, duct banks and other equipment required for reliable service through the tube. A schedule for Sandy-related repairs to the tunnel, which connects Manhattan and Brooklyn under the East River, will be determined at a later time. Partial funding for the Canarsie improvements has been included in the MTA’s proposed 2015-2019 Capital Program. Fifty million dollars for the development of the project was previously included in the 2010-2014 Capital Program. The MTA’s request for Core Capacity funds is limited to power and vertical circulation improvements that will increase capacity on the L Subway line. The application for federal funds is expected to take several years, and additional reviews will be needed from the Federal Transit Administration before a funding recommendation can be made. The L Subway line first opened as a segment on June 30, 1924, on a track vestige from a former steam-powered railway built in the 1860s. Its final segment opened on May 30, 1931, and the entire two-track line spans 10.3 route miles between Eighth Avenue in Manhattan and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn. (MTA - posted 12/12)



PATH’S WORLD TRADE CENTER AND EXCHANGE PLACE STATIONS WILL REOPEN ON WEEKENDS STARTING DECEMBER 20 AND 21, AS INITIAL PHASE OF TUNNEL WORK ENDS FOR POST-SANDY REMEDIATION AND POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL INITIATIVE: PATH weekend service on the Newark-to-World Trade Center line will resume with the reopening of the World Trade Center and Exchange Place stations starting the weekend of December 20-21, following nearly a year’s worth of intensive clean-up and upgraded signal work in two tunnels below the Hudson River. Since February, approximately 280,000 square feet of metal tunnel surfaces and equipment were power washed of salt residue left by Superstorm Sandy floodwaters and corroded metal replaced – the entire area along the line impacted by salt. Additionally, significant progress occurred toward installing new computerized signals for increased operational safety with the placement of thousands of feet of new cables. “We sincerely thank our customers for their patience and understanding during these weekend service outages and are happy to have the service back for the holidays,’’ said PATH Director and General Manager Stephen Kingsberry. “These repairs and upgrades, while tremendously inconvenient for our riders, are absolutely vital to ensuring a state-of-good repair, undoing the corrosive damage from Sandy and making critical safety upgrades to the PATH system.” Kingsberry also praised the dedication and sacrifice of PATH employees and consultants, who put in long hours since last winter helping to rebuild the rail system that serves both New Jersey and New York. Billybey Ferry Company LLC, which operated an alternate ferry service during the World Trade Center-to-Newark line outages, will continue the weekend service after the stations reopen and assess ridership later in 2015 to determine if the service is sustainable. BillyBey’s current ferry fare of $2.50 was subsidized by PATH and expected Federal Transit Administration Sandy recovery grants, and the company will set a new fare. Billybey operates under the NY Waterway banner and further information on schedules and pricing is available via the website, www.nywaterway.com. Sandy’s floodwaters left behind an insidious salt residue that rusts metal cables, equipment and the shell of the tunnel itself. The corrosive salt required a painstaking, labor-intensive cleaning process, beyond what occurred in the initial aftermath of the storm to return train service as quickly as possible. The Port Authority – like other mass-transit systems around the nation – also is working to meet a federal mandate to install a Positive Train Control (PTC) system to help reduce human or mechanical errors and provide added safety on the rails. PTC is an enhanced signal technology that automatically applies a train’s brakes if an accident appears likely, potentially saving injuries and lives. Floodwaters in Sandy’s aftermath destroyed much of the substantial prior work PATH had completed on the PTC system, requiring replacement of those components and significantly setting back the agency’s schedule and budget. The Federal Transit Administration helped the Port Authority recoup those financial losses. The PTC improvements are part of an overall $580 million, comprehensive signals modernization program that ultimately will improve service for PATH riders by allowing trains to run more frequently while maintaining or improving safety. The 2014 weekend closures allowed PATH to continue with the installation of cable, fiber, compressed air lines and conduit material for signal and communications equipment, which will help meet the PTC requirements. The work also included installation of communication antennas and signal junction boxes. Since Sandy, infrastructure improvements have been vast, with a myriad of utilities in the tunnel replaced, including power and communications equipment, rail, third rail and track. Nearly two miles of corroded rail fasteners were replaced to better secure the track bed. Nevertheless, work remains and is expected to be done during additional outages on weekends in the second half of 2015 on both the Journal Square-33rd Street via Hoboken line, along with completion of remaining work on the Newark-to-World Trade Center line. Following a cable fire earlier this year that created outages, the Journal Square-33rd Street via Hoboken line work will assess the condition of stonework that comprises electrical cable ducts alongside the tracks. Dates and details of these outages will be provided to the public once planning work in finalized. One line will remain operational at all times on the weekends and alternative service options are under consideration to reduce the inconvenience to riders. (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - posted 12/11)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: Today, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 6, 2014, with 311,955 total carloads, up 11.7 percent compared with the same week in 2013. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 268,153 units, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 580,108 carloads and intermodal units, up 7 percent compared with the same week last year. Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 25,819 carloads, up 25.5 percent; nonmetallic minerals with 36,076 carloads, up 17 percent; and, metallic ores and metals with 28,285 carloads, up 14.8 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 included farm products, excluding grain and food, with 17,539 carloads, down 0.2 percent. For the first 49 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,304,515 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 12,762,286 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 49 weeks of 2014 was 27,066,801 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 83,467 carloads for the week, up 9 percent, and 55,992 intermodal units, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 49 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,958,263 carloads, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year, and 2,805,257 intermodal units, up 6 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,786 carloads for the week, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,593 intermodal units, up 2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 49 weeks of 2014 was 774,127 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year, and 524,897 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 49 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 19,036,905 carloads, up 3.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 16,092,440 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 12/11)

AMTRAK'S KNOWLEDGE CORRIDOR: Amtrak will reroute the Vermonter to the former B&M route, from West Springfield, Ma. to Brattleboro, Vermont effective December 29. The train will make new station stops at Northampton, Holyoke, and Greenfield, Massachusetts. The revived route will be known as Amtrak's Knowledge Corridor. Due to deteriorating track conditions in 1989 Amtrak had rerouted service, off the former B&M, and onto the former Central Vermont through Palmer and Amherst, Massachusetts. Federal stimulus money has paved the way for the rebuilding of the former B&M route. The $73 million project has included the installation of welded rail that will allow trains to travel between 70 and 75 miles per hour between stops. In addition, a new $15.1 million multi-modal station was constructed in Greenfield. (Bernie Wagenblast - posted 12/10)

SEPTA VEHICLES DRESSED IN HOLIDAY STYLE: Who says you need a sleigh to travel to a winter wonderland? Several SEPTA trolleys and a Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) train are decked out in their holiday finest - tinsel, lights, bows and bells - to put commuters in the seasonal spirit. Operators Gary Mason, Fred Garmon, Dave Musgrave and Deina McLaughlin and Denita Birton (who are also sisters) used hundreds of lights, yards of garland and tons of ornaments, all to make the season brighter for their passengers. The festive train and trolleys can be found on the following routes:
  • PCC Trolley #2325, operating on Route 15
  • Trolley #9103, operating on Route 10
  • Trolleys #9039 and #9080, operating on the Routes 11, 13, 34 or 36
  • Trolley #138 on Routes 101 and 102 (Media/Sharon Hill Line)
  • NHSL Car #101
If you're on Santa's nice list this year, you just might catch a "SEPTA Seasonal Special" on your ride. Fans of SEPTA's Facebook page. , will also be able to view photos of the decorated trolleys and NHSL car and vote for their favorite "gift-wrapped" vehicle. (SEPTA - posted 12/09)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN 2014 Christmas and New Year Holiday Operations Norfolk Southern plans to begin curtailing most operations for the Christmas Holiday beginning at 3:00 PM on Wednesday,  December 24, with resumption of normal operations on Friday, December 26.  Local train operations (pickup and delivery) and unit train operations during this period will be based on prearranged customer requirements.  Interline gateways will remain open for traffic delivered from connecting carriers.  Norfolk Southern will operate a normal road train schedule over the New Year Holiday, however local train operations (pickup and delivery) may be reduced due to customer facility closures over the holiday.  (NS, Rick Glosser - posted 12/09)

GREENBRIER ANNOUNCES ORDERS FOR 14,100 RAILCARS VALUED AT $1.24 BILLION: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. announced today that it received new orders in its first quarter ended November 30, 2014 for 14,100 railcar units valued at $1.24 billion. Orders for the quarter include small-cube covered hopper cars for sand and cement transportation, boxcars, double-stack intermodal units, automobile carrying cars, gondolas and tank cars, both for crude oil and other commodity types. The average selling price for the orders reflects the diversity of railcar types ordered. (These orders include 11,400 units valued at nearly $1 billion received in September and October 2014 which Greenbrier previously disclosed on October 30, 2014.) William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO said, "Our strategy to diversify our product mix continues to pay off, with nearly two-thirds of the orders received being non-energy related. We are well positioned to meet this broad-based demand with our efficient, flexible and lower-cost facilities. Greenbrier's business has never been better balanced than it is now." "We anticipate the regulatory picture for tank cars transporting hazardous materials will be clarified with final US and Canadian government actions in early 2015," Furman said. "This will prompt an additional wave of new tank car orders and tank car retrofits, regardless of current oil prices. Greenbrier is strategically positioned to meet this demand." Furman concluded, "The future is bright for Greenbrier. We remain committed to operational excellence in each of our businesses and enhancing the long-term trajectory of key metrics, including financial goals of at least 20% aggregate gross margin and 25% ROIC by the second half of fiscal 2016. Our robust and diverse order book moves us one step closer to achieving these goals (Greenbrier Company - posted 12/08)

GE CAPITAL, RAIL SERVICES TO DELIVER TANK CARS COMPLIANT TO 2015 SAFETY APPLIANCE STANDARDS: GE Capital, Rail Services announced today it is delivering 875 tank cars that meet the 2015 Safety Appliance Standard to customers. GE Capital is one of the first lessors to offer tank cars that comply with the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Safety Appliance Standard S-2044 that was adopted by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in February. All railcars manufactured after January 2015 will be required to meet this new standard. The new Safety Appliance Standard, which includes improvements to handholds, ladder treads, sill steps and running boards, is used by railroad personnel and shippers during operations and varies by car type. The new standard is intended to make railroad procedures such as operating hand brakes and switching operations safer for employees performing these functions. “The changes in the safety appliance standards will positively impact the industry overall,” said Joe Lattanzio, president and CEO of GE Capital, Rail Services. “Worker safety is always a top priority for all of us in the rail industry. We knew our customers would want cars with the new safety appliance standards as soon as possible.” Gerald Chalko, senior engineer for GE Capital, Rail Services, was part of the task force that the AAR and the FRA formed to establish the new Safety Appliance Standard. “These new standards have improved ergonomics that help to address worker safety concerns by providing more natural and stable positions for personnel,” said Chalko. (GE Capital, Rail Services - posted 12/08)

AMTRAK STATION IN NORFOLK OFFERS NEW PASSENGER AMENITIES : Amtrak, in partnership with the city of Norfolk, has deployed new, electronic, ADA-compliant passenger information displays (PIDS) at the train station. In addition, customer service representatives are on staff and available to assist passengers in purchasing tickets and providing other travel information. The PIDS are located in the station and on the platforms and communicate real-time train and bus status, general boarding announcements and security messages in both audible and visual formats. The Northeast Regional serves the Norfolk station and provides a same-seat trip to Petersburg, Richmond, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and cities as far north as Boston. The station is also a stop for the Thruway bus connection for service to the Amtrak station in Newport News. Amtrak, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Norfolk Southern, CSX, and the city of Norfolk worked to bring intercity passenger rail service back to the city in December 2012. In Fiscal Year 2014, the station served more than 41,000 passengers. (Amtrak - posted 12/05)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR NOVEMBER AND FIRST 11 MONTHS OF 2014: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for November 2014, with both carload and intermodal volume increasing compared with November 2013. U.S. Class I railroads originated 1,161,820 carloads in November 2014, up 1.4 percent, or 16,396 carloads, over November 2013. November was the ninth straight month of year-over-year increases in carloads. Intermodal traffic in November totaled 1,035,054 containers and trailers, up 2.7 percent, or 27,463 units, over November 2013. The weekly average volume was 258,764 for the month, the highest for any November in history. For the first 11 months of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,992,560 carloads, up 3.4 percent from the same point last year, and 12,494,133 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 11 months of 2014 was 26,486,693 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year. Eleven of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year increases in November. Commodities with the biggest carload increases were crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 12,960 carloads, or 16.8 percent; metallic ores, up 5,241 carloads, or 19.8 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, up 4,432 carloads, or 7.6 percent; and coke up 730 carloads, or 5 percent. Coal was up 12 carloads for November, or flat in percentage terms. Excluding coal, U.S. rail carloads were up 16,384 carloads, or 2.4 percent, in November 2014 over November 2013. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. rail carloads were up 19,575, or 3.2 percent, in November 2014. In November 2014, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,196,874 units, up 43,859 units, or 2 percent, over November 2013. The weekly average total volume of 549,219 units in November 2014 was the highest weekly average total for November since 2007. "It's not always easy to tell from available indicators how the economy is performing and that is true for rail traffic in November when some traffic categories showed solid growth, others not so much," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "A healthy and efficient freight rail network is vital to delivering America's changing economy. Today, railroads are moving more traffic than at any time since 2007." AAR also reported Class I railroads originated 132,257 carloads of crude oil in the third quarter of 2014, up 12,623 carloads, or 10.6 percent, over the second quarter of 2014. In the first nine months of 2014, crude oil accounted for 1.6 percent of the total Class I railroad carloads. AAR today reported increased rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 29, 2014. U.S. railroads originated 271,659 carloads last week, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 220,873 units, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year and the highest ever. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 492,532 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including nonmetallic minerals, with 27,079 carloads, up 23.1 percent; metallic ores and metals, with 24,702 carloads, up 16.3 percent; and forest products with 10,434 carloads, up 8 percent. Commodities that posted a decrease were led by grain, with 20,221 carloads, down 5.7 percent. Canadian railroads reported 78,722 carloads for the week, down 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 55,578 intermodal units, down 0.1 percent compared with 2013. For the first 48 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,874,796 carloads, up 1.8 percent from the same point last year, and 2,749,265 intermodal units, up 6.1 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 16,319 carloads for the week, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,561 intermodal units, up 16 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 48 weeks of 2014 is 758,341 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year, and 514,304 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent. Combined North American rail volume for the first 48 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 18,625,697 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 15,757,702 trailers and containers, up 5.4 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 12/04)

CSX SAFETY TRAIN REACHES MORE THAN 2,000 FIRST RESPONDERS ON 18 CITY TOUR: CSX's "Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Program" recently completed its 2014 tour, training 2,022 first responders from more than 350 public safety organizations in 18 cities. Using a rolling classroom and rail cars, the program provides firefighters, police officers, emergency management professionals and other first responders with insights on how rail cars work and how to respond to rail-related incidents. The program was offered in partnership with the Firefighters Training and Education Foundation. "The Safety Train is just one example of CSX's commitment to helping first responders prepare for potential rail-related incidents," said Skip Elliott, vice president, public safety, health and environment, CSX. "In 2014 we expanded our outreach with first responders and emergency personnel to include training specific to crude-oil movements along key routes. Interest from public-safety employees was tremendous and we are happy to have had the chance to partner with so many different agencies." The 2014 CSX Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Program tour began in Philadelphia in May and made 19 stops in cities along CSX's principal freight routes, ending with a return visit to South Kearny, N.J., November 18-20. Along the way, it has trained first responders in Eddystone, Del.; Garrett and Indianapolis, Ind.; Chicago, Ill.; Erie, Pa.; Albany, Buffalo, Kingston, New York, Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y.; Cleveland and Willard, Ohio; Nashville, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; and Charleston, W.Va.  The CSX Safety Train comprises a locomotive, four tank cars, one flat car equipped with a variety of tank-car valves and fittings, two classroom cars and a caboose. CSX hazardous-material specialists lead training sessions with specific instruction on how crude oil and other hazardous materials are shipped. The training and instruction help strengthen CSX's partnership with first responders and provide a higher level of emergency readiness. "What a huge benefit," said LeeAnn McKay of the Homewood Acres, Ill., Volunteer Fire Department, who participated in Chicago. "You can tell me, but when you show me how to put on the gasket, close the valve and stop the leak-that's what sticks."   "This is a great opportunity for first responders and the railroad for partnership," said Rob Scharnhorst, fire chief for Riverdale, Ill., who participated in training with a dozen other fire fighters from Riverdale in August.  "This particular training is extremely important to law enforcement because we don't get this at the (police) academy," said Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra, who visited the Safety Train training in Kingston, N.Y. "Now we have a better understanding of what can and can't happen."  The CSX Safety Train is just one of several programs through which CSX offers training and recognition to emergency responders and customers. CSX has reached more than 100,000 first responders over the past six years, through hands-on sessions at training centers operated by CSX and the Association of American Railroads, classroom training at local fire stations, exercises and table-top drills, web-based and self-study training courses and the Safety Train. Also in 2014, CSX hosted more than 90 first responders from 30 communities across the CSX network at crude-by-rail incident response training at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Colo.  "Safety is CSX's first priority," said Romano De Simone, CSX director-hazardous materials. "Through training opportunities like the Safety Train, we bring skill- and knowledge-based programs directly to first responders across our network and better equip first responders to make fact-based decisions that protect the public." (CSX , Randy Kotuby - posted 12/03)

ONTARIO NORTHLAND'S CHRISTMAS TRAIN: Ontario Northland's Christmas Train, our decorated freight train, will be travelling throughout the north this month. Ontario Northland has partnered with community organizations for another tour throughout the north. Please bring your family and friends out to these events expect to hear music, visit with costumed characters, see the brightly decorated train, and much more. Please celebrate the holidays with us! 2014 Schedule
  • Tuesday, Dec 2 – North Bay – The Station (100 Station Road, access via Northgate near food court) - 6 pm to 7:30 pm
  • Wednesday, Dec 3 – Temagami - Temagami Station - 6:45 pm to 7:45 pm
  • Thursday, Dec 4 – Cobalt - Cobalt Train Station - 6 pm to 7:30 pm
  • Friday, Dec 5 – Earlton – Railway Crossing on 10th Street - 5:30 pm to 7 pm
  • Friday, Dec 5 – Englehart – The Station - 7:30 pm to 9 pm
  • Monday, Dec 8 - Iroquois Falls - Ambridge Drive - Near Earl Porter Bowling Lanes - 6 pm to 7:30 pm
  • Tuesday, Dec 9 – Cochrane – The Station Inn - 6 pm to 8 pm
  • Wednesday, Dec 10 – Kapuskasing – The Welcome Centre - 6 pm to 7 pm
  • Thursday, Dec 11 - Hearst - Ontario Northland (behind the Companion Motel, Hwy 11) - 6 pm to 8 pm
  • Tuesday, Dec 16 - Moosonee – Moosonee Station - 6 pm to 8 pm
h (ONR, Alex Mayes - posted 12/03)

FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL INAUGURAL RUN OF NEW GE LOCOMOTIVES: On Friday, November 21st, Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) completed the inaugural run of its first two new GE ES44C4 locomotives.  Locomotives FEC 803 and FEC 804 provided state-of-the-art Tier 3 locomotive power to FECR Train 101; the company's most expedited through-freight train, transporting automotive, carload and intermodal freight from Jacksonville to Miami.  FECR team members worked to prepare the locomotives for the first run, ensuring smooth operations for the historic inaugural trip.  According to David Kobryn, FECR Locomotive Superintendent, "Within days of these units arriving in Jacksonville, our Mechanical Team had completed standard service procedures, equipped the units with WiTonix, and they were ready for service." The new locomotives also got positive reviews from the FECR operations team."The new locomotives are quiet and comfortable in the cab.  Overall I was impressed by the way they handled," said Donald Wolff, FECR Locomotive Engineer.  Mark Baker, FECR Conductor, similarly said, "The new GE locomotives are quieter with a comfortable ride and loud horn.  The radio on the conductor side of the cab is a definite plus and good to have for emergencies." "What a thrill it was to be able to be part of the crew for this historic event with the new GE additions to the FECR fleet," said Eric Usina, FECR Road Foreman of Engines.  "These new GE locomotives exceeded my expectations in every way on this first run." Fran Chinnici, Senior Vice President of Mechanical, Engineering and Purchasing was onboard this inaugural run with his key staff members and GE personnel.  He said, "I am extremely pleased with the initial performance of these new locomotives and look forward to the many benefits these units provide, including fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.  This exciting time for FECR was made even more special by all the FECR rail fans waving and taking pictures up and down the route."  Part of GE's Evolution Series, the ES44C4 locomotives are designed using advanced engine technology that lowers fuel consumption while also controlling NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions. The company will receive a total of 24 ES44C4 locomotives from GE Transportation before the end of the year. "As we continue to grow and expand, it is critical that we have dependable and efficient horsepower to support the transportation of intermodal, carload, auto and port business.  With these new Tier 3 locomotives, we are well positioned to handle current and future customer needs," said James R. Hertwig, FECR President and CEO.   (FEC, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/02)

AMTRAK ADDS CHICAGOAN TO BLUE RIBBON PANEL TO ADDRESS RAIL GRIDLOCK: Amtrak has added a member with deep local expertise in regional issues to the blue ribbon panel of rail and transportation leaders to identify infrastructure and operational improvements to address the rail traffic gridlock in Chicago. The unprecedented level of rail congestion is causing major delays for Amtrak passengers and freight shipments which are damaging to the U.S. economy. Howard Learner, an attorney who serves as President of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, has joined Chicago Gateway Initiative panel members Jack Quinn, former U.S. Congressman and past chairman of the U.S. House Railroads Subcommittee, Linda Morgan, former chair of the Surface Transportation Board and Tom Carper, Amtrak board member and past chairman. “The rail gridlock in Chicago is causing unacceptable delays for Amtrak passengers while reducing revenues and driving up operating costs for Amtrak,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “Howard Learner will bring an important perspective to our work and he will be a collaborative partner in this effort.” The freight railroads which operate in Chicago and other stakeholders will be invited to participate in panel activities and are key to implementing recommended solutions. Because Chicago is the hub of the U.S. rail network, and the key gateway between East and West rail traffic, gridlock in the Chicago area is causing major delays throughout the United States. The congestion problem is caused by a combination of rising demand on the East Coast for more intermodal freight and crude oil shipments which originate west of Chicago, underinvestment in  critical rail infrastructure that produces public benefits and short term capital projects that create additional temporary bottlenecks. The panel is charged with identifying and evaluating infrastructure investments and operational actions that will optimize Amtrak on-time performance and improve freight rail service. Its objectives are to minimize disruptions and delays, and accelerate the construction of infrastructure projects. A final report on recommendations is expected by the end of May 2015. Chicago is Amtrak’s most important hub and many of its trains that operate to and from the city are suffering from poor on-time performance, dispatching issues and high levels of freight train interference. For example, delays of four hours or more for Amtrak trains operating between Chicago and Cleveland have become a near daily occurrence. These and other major delays have ripple effects across the Amtrak national system. If Amtrak trains, which have statutory dispatching priority over freight trains, cannot be moved efficiently through the nation’s principal rail hub, then freight shipments will continue to be slowed by gridlock as well. The CREATE program has been a concerted effort by freight railroads, Amtrak and other stakeholders to address rail congestion issues in Chicago and it has achieved several successes. The Chicago Gateway Initiative will build on the CREATE program by re-energizing the conversation, stimulating new discussion about next steps for securing funding to implement CREATE projects, and seeking to improve cooperative efforts among the railroads. “Alleviating Chicago rail congestion will be of great benefit to Amtrak passengers and the fluidity of the national freight transportation network,” said Boardman. “We need solutions and predictable dedicated funding to make the needed infrastructure investments. Let’s get started.” (Amtrak - posted 12/02)

NEW MASCOUCHE COMMUTER RAIL LINE: Today, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (AMT) is commissioning its new line of commuter trains, the Mascouche line. Transport Minister of Quebec and Minister responsible for the Montreal region, Robert Poëti, the president of the Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM) and Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, and CEO of AMT, Nicolas Girard, were present on the docks to welcome the first customers of the train.   "The commissioning of the Mascouche line is good news for public transit! Today, citizens of Montreal and the northeastern crown, a pool of 700 000 people held a highly anticipated transit service and responds to the real need to bring the outskirts of downtown. A project unanimously called for by all elected officials and partners who have worked in some way, "Mr. Poëti. "From Montreal to Mascouche in 65 minutes is the most competitive mode of transport! These are 900 vehicles that will be removed from the roads annually, which will greatly contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. »   "I welcome the opening of the Eastern Train, a highly anticipated project that improves the quality of life for residents of Montreal East, a long dependent population of the automobile. This maiden voyage marks the realization of a priority project of the Transportation Plan and makes room for new development prospects for Eastern Montreal. The City of Montreal attaches great importance to the development of public transportation, and my administration has made it a priority. We said at the time of the budget, 2015 will be the year of public transit! "Said Mr. Coderre.   "We are extremely proud to offer this morning to the citizens of the region a modern and efficient public transport system. The Mascouche line is the biggest public transit project from the metro extension to Laval in 2007. So this is a historic moment! "Says Girard. "We encourage people to use public transport, the train offers them a safe and convenient alternative to driving in rush hour. Moreover, more than 10 000 citizens have purchased shares for free to try out the service on the new line Mascouche. These future registered customers, nearly 20% say they want to use the service five days a week, which is very encouraging. We are confident that our new service will be a success! »   (Metropolitan Transportation Agency - posted 12/01)

VIA RAIL CANADA’S THIRD QUARTER RESULTS For the second consecutive period since May, customers have continued to recognize the value of VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) services and as a result, revenues have increased. This quarter saw a 6.7% increase in revenue, while operating expenses decreased by 2.6%. During the period, VIA Rail launched new passenger-oriented campaigns. It also enhanced its value proposition to frequent travellers in the Ottawa-Toronto segment by adding one more train in each direction to its schedule as of October 31. Though the total number of passengers on the network decreased, ridership grew by 1.8% between Montréal and Toronto and by 6.2% on the Canadian during the third quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013. “In this quarter, all of us at VIA Rail have focused on delivering greater value ?to our passengers. From on-board food and beverage to simplified booking and train connections, we are dedicated to superior service that enhances the travel experience of our customers,” stated Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, VIA Rail’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “From a financial perspective, this is good news for VIA Rail. It gives its employees - from front-line staff who serve the passengers to maintenance centre as well as headquarters employees - reason to be optimistic and proud. But in order to attract more customers, we must continue to pursue all the necessary efforts. This includes discussions with our railway partners to address the issue of our congested rail infrastructure, which affects on-time performance of both freight and passenger rail companies and prevents them from optimising their respective services.” The operating loss decreased by 12.1%, which represents a reduction of $9.1 million. This decrease is mostly explained by a reduction in contributions to the various pension plans. Government funding decreased by 9.4% (or $8.6 million) compared to the third quarter in 2013, due to reduced operating loss. 2014 Third Quarter Highlights: Sales and Marketing
  • First new accessible Prestige Park car put into service on VIA Rail’s Canadian train, running between Toronto and Vancouver;
  • Milestone of 120,000 fans reached on VIA Rail’s Facebook page, an increase of 11% since the beginning of the year;
  • Introduction of two new products for the student market: a 20/20 discount card and a Semester Pass;
  • Launching of a new campaign targeting the Business class market;
  • Introduction of an unlimited travel pass for youth;
Technology
  • Creation and production, in house, of a new train safety system using GPS tracking – the first of its kind in Canada. This safety system will assist Locomotive Engineers by providing notifications of upcoming speed changes or restrictions, approaching changes in applicable rules and upcoming landmarks along the route;
  • Launching of a new version of the mobile portal page.
  • Upgrade of the complementary On Train Entertainment system and addition of video content;
Trains
  • Overhaul of the LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) cars: by the end of 2014, there will be 22 renovated Economy Class cars and 26 overhauled Business Class cars completed;
Stations
  • Launching of a renovation project at VIA Rail’s Brockville station;
  • Official opening of the overhead walkway and heated central platform at Cobourg station;
Inter-modality
  • Establishment of a partnership with the passenger rail carrier alliance company AccesRail, extending VIA Rail’s distribution reach to over 120,000 travel agencies around the world; New partnership with Hainan Airlines;
  • New partnership with Union Pearson (UP) Express, which will link Toronto Union Station with Toronto’s Pearson airport;
Operations
  • Introduction of two more trainsets within the Québec city – Windsor corridor, providing over 5,000 additional seats weekly;
Environment
  • Reduced fuel consumption by 2.8% compared to the same period in 2013.
(VIA Rail Canada - posted 11/28)

AAR REPORTS MIXED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 22, 2014 with 295,812 total carloads, down 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,373 units, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 565,185 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,037 carloads, up 11.5 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 were led by farm products, excluding grain and food, with 16,747 carloads, down 6.4 percent. For the first 47 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,720,901 carloads, up 3.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 12,273,260 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 47 weeks of 2014 was 25,994,161 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.2 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 84,389 carloads for the week, up 2.9 percent, and 57,150 intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 47 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,796,074 carloads, up 1.8 percent from the same point last year, and 2,693,687 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 16,759 carloads for the week, up 12.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,839 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 47 weeks of 2014 was 742,022 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year, and 502,743 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 47 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 18,258,997 carloads, up 3 percent compared with the same point last year, and 15,469,690 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.4 percent compared with last year. (AAR- posted 11/26)

AMTRAK DELIVERS STRONG FY 2014 FINANCIAL RESULTS : Today, Amtrak reported unaudited record revenue totaling approximately $3.2 billion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014, representing the fifth consecutive year of revenue growth, and the eighth out of the past nine years. In FY 2014, America’s Railroad® covered 93 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues, up from 89 percent the year before. In addition, Amtrak’s unaudited federally funded operating loss of approximately $227 million was the lowest level since 1973, representing a 37 percent decrease from the prior year and 52 percent lower than in FY 2007. As a result of the company’s strong operating performance, long-term debt reductions of approximately 61 percent over the past seven years to $1.3 billion, and other contributing factors, Moody’s Investor Service confirmed Amtrak’s A1/Stable debt rating on Nov. 12, 2014. “Our financial performance over the past year is the clearest indication yet that Amtrak’s investments, operating efficiencies and focus on its customers is paying off,” said Amtrak Chairman of the Board Tony Coscia. “Under the leadership of Amtrak’s Board and management, the company is transforming how it does business. We are delighted with our latest financial results and committed to making further progress in the years ahead. As we continue to make improvements in our operating and financial performance, we call upon the federal government and our stakeholders to support the capital investments necessary to keep moving Amtrak forward.” “Our efforts to operate a more financially sound railroad for our stakeholders continues to exceed expectations,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “Amtrak’s customer value proposition improves each year as seen by our continued ridership and revenue growth for the better part of the past decade.” Amtrak’s corporate restructuring has resulted in a strong emphasis on increased financial transparency, a de-leveraged balance sheet, and providing an improved product to its existing customer base while attracting new passengers. This has resulted in consistently strong ridership and revenue growth, and less reliance on federal operating grant support. Amtrak also is building the equipment, infrastructure and organization needed to ensure its strong growth continues. Over the past few years, the company has seen the expansion of state-supported services, the introduction of Wi-Fi and eTicketing technologies, the procurement of new equipment for Northeast Corridor and long-distance services, a major planning effort for the development of next-generation high-speed rail, and the installation of positive train control safety technology to more sections of track maintained by Amtrak, among other critical capital projects. These actions form the foundation that will support more and faster service, improve the reliability and safety of current and future operations, and meet the expectations of a growing number of customers choosing Amtrak for their travel needs. Boardman added that to meet future passenger demands, increased levels of federal capital investment are needed to improve, expand and replace the aging infrastructure that supports intercity passenger rail. Predictable dedicated funding from the federal government to build new tracks, tunnels, bridges and other rail infrastructure—particularly on the Northeast Corridor and in Chicago—will keep Amtrak advancing and its customer base growing. (Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/25)

TRANSPORTATION REINVENTION COMMSSION CALLS FOR MTA IMPROVEMENTS: The MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission, a group of 24 experts convened by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to address challenges facing the regional transportation network, today released a report that recommends the MTA take significant steps to re-engineer its way of doing business and make its system more resilient, while all those who benefit from the MTA’s services must contribute to reliable long-term funding to continue to drive the region’s prosperity. The report says the continued economic success of the New York region is by no means guaranteed and depends on a world-class transportation network that reliably, comfortably and seamlessly takes customers where they want to go. It says the MTA must change its practices and become more resilient in order to accommodate a growing population, changing travel patterns, rising expectations and a more volatile climate. It calls on the MTA to accelerate investments to keep the network in a state of good repair, streamline the project delivery system and work more effectively with its regional partners in order to enhance and expand the system in a more efficient and effective way. Additionally, the report challenges the MTA to implement a comprehensive program to cut costs and generate more revenue, The report also says everyone in the region who benefits directly or indirectly from MTA services must contribute to a reliable long-term funding plan, and offers several examples of funding mechanisms that have been successfully used to fund transit systems around the world. “New York will never have a world-class transit system unless the MTA reinvents itself and the public invests in it. A robust transportation network is essential to the region, but its past achievements do not make future success inevitable. Our work shows that the MTA can meet the array of challenges it faces, but doing so will require careful stewardship, creative thinking and heightened investment to ensure it can continue to be the engine that drives New York,” said Ray LaHood, co-chair of the Transportation Reinvention Commission and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation. “The subway, bus, commuter railroad and bridge and tunnel network that made New York into America’s economic center cannot be taken for granted. The MTA needs to think creatively to ensure this $1 trillion asset is maintained, improved and expanded to accommodate growth and change. Without bold action, the MTA will not be able to serve the future needs of the New York region, and the impact will be felt in the region’s economy as well as in its quality of life,” said Jane Garvey, co-chair of the Transportation Reinvention Commission and former Federal Aviation Administrator. “The Transportation Reinvention Commission is performing a valuable service to the MTA and to the entire New York region, which can only function with a strong mass transit network. We selected commission members who would bring a wide range of perspectives and concentrated expertise to the task, and this report shows that while difficulties lie ahead, none of them are insurmountable. The report confirms the importance of the MTA to the region and the nation, as well as the need for significant investments to ensure its continued importance going forward. Some of the commission’s recommendations challenge the MTA to perform better, and some challenge the entire New York region to contribute to the improvement of our transportation network. I appreciate the service the commissioners have provided with their important work,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. The MTA created the Transportation Reinvention Commission in May at the recommendation of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who urged the MTA to consult with international experts on how to prepare the transportation network for the next century. The report recommends seven key strategies for meeting future challenges:
  • 1) The MTA must reengineer its way of doing business by creating a “new MTA” that is more efficient, transparent, and accountable to the public, including a new center of excellence to optimize project delivery and engage the private sector.
  • 2) The MTA must accelerate and sustain core capital investment to bring its infrastructure into a state of good repair in order to maximize safety, reliability and resiliency.
  • 3) The MTA must create a 21st-century customer experience to provide all customers an information-rich, accessible, reliable, frequent and easy-to-use service.
  • 4) The MTA must aggressively expand the capacity of the existing system both to alleviate constraints and to meet the needs of growing ridership, which will provide greater redundancy as well as fewer disruptions.
  • 5) The MTA must make investments designed to serve existing and emerging population and employment centers not well served by the existing system, pursuing new flexible service alternatives and operating modes.
  • 6) The MTA must forge partnerships with its local, state, and federal economic development and planning partners, as well as the private sector, to drive the region’s economic growth; and must establish more collaborative working relationships with other transit agencies to better integrate regional transit.
  • 7) The MTA must have a balanced, stable and reliable long-term funding plan that includes dedicated revenues and contributions from all who benefit from MTA services, directly or indirectly. The MTA must implement a comprehensive program to cut costs, and embrace a more entrepreneurial approach to revenue generation.
A copy of the Transportation Reinvention Commission report is available at this link: http://web.mta.info/mta/news/hearings/pdf/MTA_Reinvention_Report_141125.pdf (MTA - posted 11/25)

CSX AMONG TOP 10 MOST MILITARY FRIENDLY EMPLOYERS FOR SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR: CSX was recognized as the sixth-most military-friendly employer on G.I. Jobs' 2015 Top 100 Military Friendly Employers ranking today, and the second-most military-friendly employer in the transportation industry. This is the seventh consecutive year that CSX has been among the top 10 employers on the list. "U.S. military veterans with strong backgrounds in team environments, safety practices and leadership skills excel in helping CSX serve its customers," said Michael J. Ward, CSX chairman, president and chief executive officer. "CSX is proud to support and employ the men and women who have defended and protected our nation." This recognition celebrates CSX's ongoing commitment to support the U.S. military and its veterans. More than one in five CSX employees have served in the armed forces and 27 percent of the company's new employees in 2014 have military experience. Since 2006, G.I Jobs has issued an annual ranking of businesses based on veteran recruiting practices. The publication examines more than 5,000 American businesses with more than $500 million in annual revenues. Out of these eligible members, only two percent make the annual ranking. G.I. Jobs ranks each company by weighted factors, including long-term commitments to hire veterans, specialized military recruiting programs and supportive policies for reserve member employment while off duty. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/25)

CANADIAN PACIFIC TO REPURCHASE APPROX. 1.2 MILLION SHARES OF COMMON STOCK: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced today that it intends to purchase for cancellation up to 1,210,163 of its common shares pursuant to private agreements to be entered into between CP and an arm's-length third-party seller. Purchases will be made in accordance with an issuer bid exemption order issued by the Ontario Securities Commission ("OSC") dated November 25, 2014 (the "Order"), and pursuant to the Order, may be made in several transactions prior to March 16, 2015 . The price CP will pay for its common shares purchased by way of private agreements will be at a discount to the prevailing market price of CP common shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange at the time of purchase. Purchases made by CP will be counted towards CP's normal course issuer bid announced on March 11, 2014 , as amended September 29, 2014 , for up to 12,650,862 CP common shares (the "Bid") and will not exceed, in aggregate, one third of the maximum number of common shares CP may purchase under the Bid, being 4,216,954 common shares. CP was previously granted two issuer bid exemption orders by the OSC, one on March 28, 2014 and one on June 10, 2014 permitting CP to make private agreement purchases of up to 1,756,791 of its common shares, in the aggregate, from arm's-length third-party sellers. CP purchased 1,756,791 CP common shares under such orders. The actual number of CP common shares that will be repurchased under the Bid, by way of any private agreements or otherwise, and the timing of any such purchases, will be determined by CP. There cannot be any assurances as to how many common shares will ultimately be acquired by CP under the Bid. (CP - posted 11/25)

FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY SPONSORS TOYS FOR TOTS: Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) will sponsor the 2014 Toys for Tots Christmas Train operating between Jacksonville and Miami on Saturday, December 13, 2014. FECR will be using our locomotives and containers to deliver holiday cheer to Florida east coast residents. FECR's Christmas Train offers its employees, their families, customers, and suppliers an opportunity to contribute to the Toys for Tots program in the communities along the east coast of Florida. This has become a favored tradition of FECR employees in support of the communities along Florida's east coast. "We are pleased to once again support this worthwhile effort. This is just one way we give back to the communities where we live and work," said James R. Hertwig, President and CEO. In coordination with Toys for Tots, a contribution of toys will be delivered to representatives in eight Florida cities by Santa, who will be on-board the Christmas Train. Representatives of the United States Marine Corps will be on hand at each stop to receive the donated toys and distribute them to needy children in the local communities. The Christmas Train will stop at the railroad crossings at the locations listed below. (All times are approximate)
  • Jacksonville: Mussel Acres Road-West 7:10 AM
  • St. Augustine: San Sebastian View Crossing-East 8:10 AM
  • New Smyrna Beach: Canal St.-East 10:05 AM
  • Cocoa: Rosa L. Jones Drive- West 11:45 AM
  • Fort Pierce: Orange Avenue Crossing-West 1:30 PM
  • West Palm Beach: 36th Street Crossing-East 3:00 PM
  • Ft. Lauderdale: SW 17th Street Crossing-West 4:25 PM
  • Miami: NE 87th Street Crossing-West 5:15 PM
(Florida East Coast Railway - posted 11/24)

CSX CTO HIGHLIGHTS OPERATIONAL RESILIENCE AND WINTER RESOURCE PLANNING: CSX is positioning itself to continue delivering strong financial results by balancing stabilized service levels, improving efficiency and continued growth opportunities, Chief Transportation Officer Cindy Sanborn told an industry audience today at the annual RailTrends conference in New York City. "CSX is committed to delivering Service Excellence for its customers, which reinforces our strategy of driving the company's ability to grow faster than the economy, pricing above inflation and producing ever more efficient operations," Sanborn said. "CSX is working to put the right people and resources in the right places, combined with process improvements and increased communication with our peers, to serve the broad-based growth we continue to see across nearly all markets that we serve." As customer demand continues to rise, CSX network performance remains stable, with key indicators including on-time originations and arrivals holding steady in the fourth quarter as compared to the previous two quarters. "We are working around the clock to further improve operations at a steady pace into 2015 even as we handle the traditional fall peak and record grain harvest," Sanborn said. To facilitate that improvement, CSX is adding additional locomotives, hiring new train crew employees, accelerating capacity projects and adjusting operating processes. Fluidity in Chicago remains a top priority for CSX and its peer railroads. CSX is using infrastructure improvements to help ease congestion while also improving coordination with other railroads in Chicago. These resources and process adjustments will support fluidity and growth, preserving the flexibility to drive long-term asset utilization improvements. At the same time, CSX is making additional process changes to help reduce potential winter weather impacts. Increasing preparation in conjunction with customers, deployment of additional weather preparation and response equipment, and formal contingency plans for routing, capacity and inventory management are all complete or underway. On the strength of this multi-faceted plan to improve fluidity, serve growth opportunities and drive long-term asset utilization, the company continues to expect fourth quarter earnings per share growth at a similar level as it achieved in the third quarter. CSX remains confident in its ability to deliver double digit earnings growth and margin expansion in 2015 as it progresses toward a mid-60s operating ratio over the longer term. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/21)

CANARAIL TO ACTIVELY TAKE PART IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NORTHERN QUEBEC: CANARAIL's President and CEO, Mr. Miguel Valero, welcomes today's announcement by the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Quebec and Minister responsible for the Plan Nord, Mr. Pierre Arcand, to the effect that the Société ferroviaire du Nord Québécois has mandated the company to carry out a major feasibility study. CANARAIL was selected to realize the first phase of the feasibility study of a new 310 km long railway from Sept-Îles to the Labrador Trough. CANARAIL will act as the prime contractor for this study which will cover technical, economic and financial aspects. The final report is expected at the end of 2015. For this mandate, CANARAIL will be able to rely on credible and reputable partners, and will mobilize many resources from the local Innu communities. "CANARAIL performs this kind of study everywhere in the world, but this one has a special flavor to it since it will be here, in Quebec, where our team of experts will put all of its experience into a major economic development project. Although this is not our first important contract in Quebec, we feel that it marks a major milestone in the history of our company " said Mr. Valero. CANARAIL has unique expertise in the field of rail transport, particularly in the mining and transport of heavy goods sectors. For the past twenty-five years, its team of professionals has been involved in many projects at the international level, thus contributing to the achievement of some of the most important rail links in the world. In Canada, the study and design of a rail link as part of the Mary River mining project on Baffin Island, as well as the delivery, under an EPCM (Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management) contract, of a section of 30 kilometers at the border of Quebec with Newfoundland and Labrador for the mining industry, are only two excellent examples amongst many others of CANARAIL ability to carry out studies of contemplated railway projects in the particularly rough conditions found in northern territories. "We are proud to bring our expertise as railway specialists to this unprecedented effort for the development of Quebec. CANARAIL has the necessary expertise to actively participate in the development of this vast territory rich in natural resources" concluded Mr. Valero. (CANAC - posted 11/20)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 15, 2014 with 296,655 total carloads, up 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 273,695 units, up 2.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 570,350 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, led by nonmetallic minerals with 37,297 carloads, up 9.6 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 were led by grain with 23,313 carloads, down 3.9 percent. For the first 46 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,425,089 carloads, up 3.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 12,003,887 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 46 weeks of 2014 was 25,428,976 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 82,869 carloads for the week, up 0.2 percent, and 56,282 intermodal units, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 46 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,711,685 carloads, up 1.8 percent from the same point last year, and 2,636,537 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 26,429 carloads for the week, up 68.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,198 intermodal units, up 56.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 46 weeks of 2014 was 736,233 carloads, up 4.5 percent from the same point last year, and 497,647 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 46 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 17,873,007 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 15,138,071 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 11/20)

GENESEE & WYOMING ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF SHORTLINE RAILROADS IN ARKANSAS: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) announced today that it has signed an agreement with Pinsly Railroad Company of Westfield, Mass., to acquire certain subsidiaries that constitute Pinsly’s Arkansas Division (“Pinsly Arkansas”) for $40 million in cash, subject to adjustment for final working capital. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including the expiration of the 30-day notice period required by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board for G&W to obtain authority to acquire the Pinsly Arkansas railroads. The transaction is expected to be completed in early January 2015. Headquartered in Jones Mills, Ark., Pinsly Arkansas includes (i) the Arkansas Midland Railroad (AKMD), which is comprised of seven non-contiguous branch lines; (ii) the Prescott & Northwestern Railroad (PNW); and (iii) the Warren & Saline River Railroad (WSR); as well as (iv) the two Arkansas transload operations of Pinsly’s Railroad Distribution Services subsidiary. Operations are composed of 137 miles of owned and leased track, 70 employees and 16 locomotives and serve the Hot Springs and Little Rock areas, as well as the southwestern and southeastern portions of the state. [See map link.] The railroads currently haul approximately 35,000 carloads per year and serve a diverse customer base in industries including aluminum, forest products, aggregates, energy and carton board. Pinsly Arkansas will be managed as part of G&W’s Central Region, which includes six existing short line railroads in the state of Arkansas, under the leadership of Regional Senior Vice President Dewayne Swindall. The acquisition will be funded from G&W’s revolving credit facility and is expected to be immediately accretive to G&W's earnings per share. In 2015, G&W estimates that Pinsly Arkansas will contribute approximately $5.4 million of EBITDA, including certain net cost savings. The entities being sold are subchapter S subsidiaries and as such the tax basis in the companies acquired will be stepped up to the purchase price. Jack Hellmann, president and chief executive officer of G&W, commented, "Over the past 22 years, the Pinsly team has built an impressive cluster of short line railroads in Arkansas, with a clear focus on safety and customer service. Following the acquisition, G&W will own nine short line railroads in Arkansas, and we are excited about the opportunity to support and drive further economic growth in the state." John Levine, president and CEO of Pinsly, commented, "Pinsly Railroad Company is very pleased to be transitioning ownership of its Arkansas Division to Genesee & Wyoming. G&W is a highly respected leader in our industry and our customers, employees and communities will be well positioned for continued growth and success in the coming years. I am very pleased and proud of the accomplishments of our talented and dedicated Arkansas team over the past 22 years. We look forward to working with G&W towards a successful closing and transition of the business in January 2015.” (G&W - posted 11/19)

AMTRAK BUFFALO AREA SERVICE RESTORATION BEGINS: Amtrak service through Buffalo, N.Y., will be restored starting Thursday, Nov. 20, with Trains 63 & 64, the Maple Leaf, between New York City and Toronto, Ont. Canada, via Albany-Rensselaer, Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. These trains will operate subject to delay following very heavy snowfall and resulting rail traffic congestion due to temporary railroad closures. Other Amtrak service between Albany-Rensselaer and Buffalo or Cleveland remains temporarily suspended through this Thursday afternoon. This includes Amtrak Empire Service and Lake Shore Limited trains scheduled through mid-day. Amtrak service north, east and south of Albany-Rensselaer continues to operate. Amtrak service between Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago will be maintained by Amtrak Capitol Limited trains. Amtrak thanks CSX railroad for its work to restore service (Amtrak - posted 11/19)

EXTREME LAKE EFFECT SNOW IN BUFFALO AREA HAMPERS NS OPERATIONS: Norfolk Southern operations have been impacted by extreme lake effect snow in the Buffalo, NY area.  Record setting snowfall, road conditions, and road closures have curtailed Norfolk Southern operations in and around the Buffalo area.  Customers with rail traffic destined to or originating in the Buffalo area will see a disruption of service over the next few days.  Shipments normally moving through western New York will be detoured over other routes, likely resulting in additional transit time with 24-48 hour delays. (NS - posted 11/19)

EXTREME LAKE EFFECT SNOW IN BUFFALO AREA HAMPERS NS OPERATIONS: Norfolk Southern operations have been impacted by extreme lake effect snow in the Buffalo, NY area.  Record setting snowfall, road conditions, and road closures have curtailed Norfolk Southern operations in and around the Buffalo area.  Customers with rail traffic destined to or originating in the Buffalo area will see a disruption of service over the next few days.  Shipments normally moving through western New York will be detoured over other routes, likely resulting in additional transit time with 24-48 hour delays. (NS - posted 11/19)

AMTRAK ASKS SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD TO INVESTIGATE NORFOLK SOUTHERN AND CSX RAILROADS: Amtrak is taking action to improve the on-time performance (OTP) of its trains that operate over tracks controlled by other railroads. In a complaint filed on Nov. 17, Amtrak is asking the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to investigate Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and CSX Transportation (CSXT) for causing unacceptable delays for passengers traveling between Chicago and Washington, D.C., on the Capitol Limited service. Amtrak is taking this action under Section 213 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act which mandates that the STB initiate an investigation upon the filing of a complaint by Amtrak if the on-time performance of an intercity passenger train falls below 80 percent for two consecutive quarters. In addition, under federal law, Amtrak has a statutory right to preference in the dispatching of intercity passenger trains before freight trains. Due to persistent excessive delays caused by NS and CSXT freight train interference, the OTP of the Capitol Limited at its endpoint terminals was 2.7 percent for the quarter ending Sept. 30, down from an already substandard 33.6 percent the previous quarter. The delays are continuing as Amtrak had to provide bus transportation between Toledo and Chicago for six days in October to better accommodate passengers when Capitol Limited trains had often been eight to ten hours late. Poor on-time performance creates a major disruption for Amtrak customers due to delayed trains and missed connections. It also negatively impacts Amtrak and state-supported services through decreased ridership, lost revenues and higher operating costs. Amtrak has taken additional actions to help improve the OTP of passenger trains including filing an amended complaint with the STB seeking an investigation of Canadian National Railway for causing unacceptable delays for passengers on the Illini/Saluki service in Illinois; twice testifying before the STB about the poor OTP of Amtrak trains; and establishing a Blue Ribbon Panel of rail and transportation leaders to identify infrastructure and operational improvements to address rail traffic gridlock in Chicago. The Capitol Limited operates daily between Chicago and Washington, via Harpers Ferry, W. Va., Cumberland, Md., Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, South Bend, Ind., and intermediate stops. (Amtrak - posted 11/18)

HEAVY SNOW EFFECTS CSX IN BUFFALO: Due to lake effect snow expected to total up to six feet, CSX is experiencing significant operational delays and customers in the Buffalo area should expect traffic delays up to 48 hours. (CSX - posted 11/18)

HEAVY SNOW EFFECTS CSX IN BUFFALO: Due to lake effect snow expected to total up to six feet, CSX is experiencing significant operational delays and customers in the Buffalo area should expect traffic delays up to 48 hours. (CSX - posted 11/18)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO ACQUIRE THE SOUTH END OF THE FORMER D&H RAILWAY: Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS) and the Delaware & Hudson Railway Co. (D&H), a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) today announced a proposed transaction under which NS would acquire 282.55 miles of D&H rail line between Sunbury, Pa., and Schenectady, N.Y. The $217 million sale, subject to approval by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, would benefit customers, competition, and jobs in the northeastern United States. "Acquiring this portion of the D&H provides for more efficient rail transportation system by consolidating freight operations with a single carrier," said NS CEO Wick Moorman. "Aligning the D&H track with Norfolk Southern's 22-state network allows us to connect businesses in central Pennsylvania, upstate New York and New England with domestic and international markets while enhancing the region's competitive rail and surface transportation market." The lines to be acquired connect with NS' network at Sunbury, Pa., and Binghamton, N.Y., and would give NS single-line routes from Chicago and the southeastern United States to Albany, N.Y., and NS' recently built Mechanicville, N.Y., intermodal terminal. NS also would gain an enhanced connection to its joint venture subsidiary Pan Am Southern, which services New England markets. Additionally, NS would acquire D&H's car shop in Binghamton along with other facilities along the corridor."As we have stated in recent months, we've been in the process of negotiating the final details for the potential sale of the southern portion of our D&H line," said CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison. "We are pleased to find a prospective buyer in Norfolk Southern." As part of the transaction, NS would retain and modify overhead trackage rights on the line between Schenectady, Crescent, and Mechanicville, N.Y., as well as Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The D&H would retain local access to serve customers in Schenectady and would maintain its access to shippers in Buffalo. NS intends to retain its current employees and offer employment to about 150 D&H employees currently working in this area. Any adversely affected employees will be entitled to standard labor protections. "This acquisition would preserve good-paying railroad jobs and set the stage for economic growth," said John Friedmann, NS vice president of strategic planning. "Absent this transaction and its efficiencies, we are concerned that rail service along much of New York's Southern Tier would be threatened with losing a crucial link to New England." NS has submitted an application for the transaction to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. The rail companies are proposing a schedule that would lead to approval during the second quarter of 2015. (CP, NS, Patrick Yough - posted 11/17)

OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE NEW SALEM INTERMODAL CENTER: The new Salem Intermodal Facility was officially opened today by MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll, Congressman John Tierney and other local officials. The new facility features a 700-car parking garage designed to alleviate capacity issues at the Commuter Rail system’s third busiest stop. It also features bus, bike and Zipcar facilities as well as a new pedestrian walkway to Bridge Street. The garage opened for customers on October 24th, in time for Salem’s Halloween festivities. Work will continue on the project through the winter and spring of 2015. Salem Station is the third busiest station on the Commuter Rail system with an average of 1,065 boardings per day. Station accessibility along with high commuter volume and need for increased commuter parking capacity were the major catalysts for MassDOT and the MBTA to undertake this project. The facility opened to the public on Friday October 24th to support the City of Salem Halloween festivities. Work is continuing on the structure with completion expected by the end of November. The second phase of the raised platform work started Monday October 27th and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The landscaping of the waterfront park will be completed in the spring. This project was designed to allow for future Transit Oriented Development, as the City of Salem owns a site along Bridge Street adjacent to the MBTA site that could be developed. The total cost of the project is expected to be approximately $44.5 million, through a combination of federal, state, city and MBTA funds. (Mass DOT - posted 11/17)

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS FOR AMTRAK SERVICE TO ROANOKE: Governor McAuliffe has announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia, Amtrak, Norfolk Southern and the City of Roanoke are beginning the first phase of construction for the platform that will serve intercity passenger rail service to the Star City. Amtrak service to the city will be an extension of the successful Northeast Regional train from Lynchburg and is anticipated to start in 2017. The service will provide a same-seat trip from Roanoke to Lynchburg, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and cities as far north as Boston. “Bringing passenger rail service back to Roanoke will be an enormous economic driver for the region and the entire Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I look forward to working with the parties involved to get this project completed so that Virginia families and our economy can benefit from this expanded service as soon as possible.” It has been 34 years since intercity passenger rail service has served Roanoke. “Construction is a major development in our efforts to bring Amtrak service to Roanoke,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. “This new service is an example of the significant expansion of the Commonwealth’s passenger rail service. I appreciate the commitment of Amtrak, Norfolk Southern and the City of Roanoke to make this new service a reality.” Virginia continues its ongoing commitment to congestion mitigation by offering the public alternate transportation choices to driving on congested highway corridors like I-81, Route 29, I-95, and Route 460 while expanding mobility and increasing connectivity for travel throughout the regions served by and along the Northeast Corridor. “There is high demand for passenger rail service in Virginia as demonstrated by considerable ridership growth throughout the Commonwealth,” said Jay McArthur, Amtrak Principal Officer, State Partnerships. “We have developed a strong partnership with the Commonwealth and look forward to Roanoke as another service expansion in Virginia’s successful rail program, providing passengers with a convenient and pleasant service to Washington and other Northeast Corridor destinations.” Roanoke is the latest step for Virginia to lead the way as one of the few states in the country to successfully negotiate the addition of new intercity passenger rail service in major rail corridors, balancing freight and economic development needs with additional intercity passenger rail options. “Norfolk Southern and DRPT have a track record of success in implementing passenger service in Virginia,” said James A. Hixon, Executive Vice President, Law and Corporate Relations, Norfolk Southern Corporation. “We have made investments in our network, here in Roanoke and across the state, to ensure that passenger service is done safely and efficiently.” “Given our history as a railroad town, the return of passenger rail is very exciting for the citizens of Roanoke,” said Roanoke Mayor David A. Bowers. “We are thrilled to see this initiative move forward, and anticipate the time when passenger service will once again be available to those who want to make connections, both inside and outside The Star City.” (Virginia Governor McAuliffe, Alex Mayes - posted 11/14)

NS THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY OPERATIONS: Norfolk Southern plans to operate scheduled train service and other rail operations over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Some unit train operations and local service may be reduced depending on customer operations. (NS - posted 11/14)

REPORT TRANSPORTATION SAFETY CONCERNS CONFIDENTIALLY THROUGH SECURITAS: The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is launching a campaign to raise awareness about its SECURITAS program. The Canadian public and transportation industry employees are encouraged to confidentially report unsafe transportation acts and conditions through SECURITAS. While employees are urged to use existing internal company-specific safety reporting systems, not all transportation companies have such systems and some employees may not feel comfortable using them. SECURITAS offers an additional way for people to share safety concerns in the aviation, marine, railway and pipeline industries which the employee or public believes are not being addressed or when they believe there is no other recourse (TSB, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/14)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 8, 2014 with 297,694 total carloads, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 271,113 units, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 568,807 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including and nonmetallic minerals with 38,304 carloads, up 13 percent, and petroleum and petroleum products with 16,186 carloads, up 12.4 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 were led by motor vehicles and parts with 16,868 carloads, down 12.8 percent. For the first 45 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,128,434 carloads, up 3.5 percent compared with the same point last year, and 11,730,192 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 45 weeks of 2014 was 24,858,626 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 85,893 carloads for the week, up 0.4 percent, and 54,537 intermodal units, down 3.1 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 45 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,628,816 carloads, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year, and 2,580,255 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 15,343 carloads for the week, up 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,095 intermodal units, up 14.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 45 weeks of 2014 was 709,804 carloads, up 3 percent from the same point last year, and 481,449 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 45 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 17,467,054 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 14,791,896 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent compared with last year. . (AAR - posted 11/13)

READING & NORTHERN JOINS COUNCIL FOR MEETING WITH SENATOR TOOMEY: Last week Wayne Michel and Dan Gilchrist joined with representatives of the anthracite industry to discuss issues of concern to the industry with Senator Pat Toomey in his Allentown office. The anthracite producers explained to the Senator that Russia was now positioned to profit from its illegal invasion into eastern Ukraine by flooding the American market with cheap anthracite from the coal mines in eastern Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine is a major international source for anthracite and the coal from those mines competes directly with Pennsylvania anthracite for use by steel mills and other companies in the southeastern United States. The Pennsylvania anthracite producers wanted to make sure that Russia did not profit from its expansion into the eastern Ukraine. The group also discussed the ever-increasing regulatory burdens as the Obama administration proceeds with its "War on Coal". As the railroad that serves the Pennsylvania anthracite region, Reading & Northern stands with its customers in protecting this important Pennsylvania industry. (Reading & Northern - posted 11/12)

SOUTH HEART RAIL TERMINAL ANNOUNCED: Watco Terminal and Port Services and Great Northern Project Development, L. P. (“GNPD”) announce that ground breaking has commenced for the development of the South Heart Rail Terminal, “SHRT”. SHRT is a multi--?purpose rail transload terminal and railcar maintenance shop near South Heart, North Dakota, and will serve the energy industry and its service providers in the Bakken, Three Forks, Tyler and emerging oil and gas formations. "The start of construction on the South Heart Rail Terminal is the culmination of many months of hard work by our team of dedicated professionals who are all focused upon delivering a comprehensive and multi--?use transportation facility of world--?class quality and proportions. The support for this facility has been truly tremendous, including the local citizens of Stark County, the service companies who operate in the Bakken, and BNSF Railway. We look forward to a long relationship with all of these stakeholders as we anticipate opening up the facility for business this time next year,” stated Todd Joyner, President and CEO of Great Northern Project Development. SHRT is strategically located just south of Interstate 94, twelve miles west of Dickinson, North Dakota, with easy access to Interstate 94 and US Highway 85. The Terminal will offer rail, transload, railcar maintenance services, warehousing and materials storage, and will feature loop and manifest tracks to accommodate unit trains, manifest business, and long or short term railcar storage needs. SHRT will be served with national connectivity via BNSF Railway. South Heart Rail Terminal will receive and transload dry bulk commodities such as frac sand, ceramic proppants, and cement. Tubular pipe, oil field equipment, building products and other materials will also be handled at SHRT. In addition, the Terminal will provide off--?loading and storage for aggregates, asphalt, and road materials. A full service railcar maintenance facility will be located on--?site to provide services to tank car owners and lessees. The maintenance shop will provide services to assist Customers with tank car inspections, testing, qualifications, preventive maintenance, retrofits, paint and lining. In addition, Watco Compliance Services will provide fleet management solutions, engineering and regulatory guidance to ensure ongoing safety and mechanical integrity (WATCO - posted 11/12)

GOV. PATRICK REDEDICATES SOUTH STATION AS GOVERNOR MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS SOUTH STATION TRANSPORTATION CENTER: On November 10 Governor Deval Patrick rededicated South Station as “Governor Michael S. Dukakis South Station Transportation Center” in recognition of the former Governor’s devotion to public transportation and advocacy. Today’s ceremony at the newly-named South Station included the unveiling of a plaque on the corner of Atlantic and Summer Streets and an inscription outside of the bus terminal on Atlantic Street. “Governor Dukakis has been a tireless and effective advocate for public transportation for decades,” said Governor Patrick. “On behalf of the people of the Commonwealth, I am honored to rename South Station as ‘The Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station’ to celebrate his lasting work to improve public transportation and through it the economy and quality of life in the Commonwealth.” During his time in office, Governor Dukakis was known to take the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) and received national attention for his public transit ridership, and he supported increased transportation funding to improve and extend subway and commuter rail service in order to promote economic growth and increase equitable opportunities across Commonwealth communities. A key measure within Governor Dukakis’ transportation initiatives was safety, helping to ensure that riders felt safe while riding transit. This focus resulted in the MBTA Police becoming the first department in Massachusetts and the first Transit Police Department in the country to be accredited by the National Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). “This is a fitting tribute to Governor Dukakis, who oversaw a renovation of South Station while in office and made transportation one of his top priorities,” said Congressman Michael E. Capuano. “Governor Dukakis is a vocal champion of improving and expanding public transit, recognizing its importance to our economy and quality of life. His advocacy resulted in an expanded MBTA transit map and increased transportation funding.” “Public transportation is designed to be efficient, dependable, and professional – just as Michael Dukakis was throughout his career,” said Congressman Bill Keating. “Michael was ahead of his time in his commitment to commuter rail service. He knew it wasn’t just about transportation, but about how communities grew and prospered because of this service and how Boston’s economy grew because of that link. Michael was behind most modern transportation advancements in the Commonwealth. It is only fitting that his name is officially linked to a great transportation hub.” “Safety is a core value for our entire transportation system, no matter the chosen mode,” said Acting Secretary Frank DePaola. “Governor Dukakis saw an opportunity to enhance the level of safety we adhere to throughout our transportation system to make sure that our rails, roads, and bridges are safe by bringing that level of trust back directly to our transit riders in their everyday rail experience. His work plays a large role in today’s successful subway and commuter rail ridership.” South Station opened in 1898 and underwent a complete overhaul in the 1980’s while Dukakis was in office, allowing for increased capacity and direct access to Red Line service. South Station is the busiest station within the entire MBTA system and currently serves over 25,000 riders on a typical weekday, not including Amtrak and private bus passengers. (Mass DOT - posted 11/11)

FULTON CENTER SUBWAY HUB: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today unveiled the Fulton Center, located at the crossroads of Lower Manhattan on Broadway between John and Fulton Streets. The fully digital transit and retail hub will serve as New York City’s next great public space and integrates architectural ingenuity that fuses history, art, and sustainable engineering. "The new Fulton Center complex is another example of how we are rebuilding Lower Manhattan which will spur a resurgence throughout the area," Governor Cuomo said. "This new station makes traveling easier for subway riders, and is a beautiful public space for visitors and commuters to enjoy. We now have a new cornerstone in Lower Manhattan, and I am proud to see this unique complex opened to the public." Danny Forster, architect, television host and producer, presided over the opening ceremony. He was joined by MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Prendergast, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, Community Board 1 President Catherine McVay Hughes, Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin, as well as MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, and New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “The new Fulton Center facility sends a clear message that the United States is committed to building transportation infrastructure that will move our country’s economy forward,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We’re proud to celebrate this milestone – but we must do more. We are committed to working with Congress to find bipartisan solutions that will help New York continue to revitalize its infrastructure in the years ahead.” The $1.4 billion Fulton Center project was funded with $847 million from a special Congressional appropriation granted after September 11, 2001. Known as the Lower Manhattan Recovery Grants, those funds were intended for local transit agencies to repair, replace, and enhance transportation infrastructure in Lower Manhattan. The MTA provided $130 million in local funds. The project also received $423 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the largest single award for the Federal Transit Administration’s ARRA projects. Encased in a glass and steel shell, the bright and modern facility dramatically improves the commuter experience and will accommodate up to 300,000 daily riders using the 2,3,4,5,A,C,J and Z subway lines. and lines. Construction of the Fulton Center includes restoration of the 125-year-old Corbin Building, which will provide additional public access to the facility. The Fulton Center will house nearly 66,000-square-feet of revenue generating retail and commercial space and the MTA’s largest digital media program, both of which are being managed and operated by Westfield Corp., an international developer and operator of iconic retail properties and a leader in digital sales and sponsorship. “This building stands as a testament to the strength and resilience New York showed on 9/11 and every day since. And it stands as a testament to what smart investments in infrastructure can do to improve a city, a state, and even a nation,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “It shows what we can do for our customers and our region when we invest in transit, and it shows New York is still thinking big and building big. Great cities like New York need great public spaces, and I’m proud to see this new symbol of our city’s strength open its doors.” The Fulton Center integrates five subway stations serving the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, R and Z subway lines. Connecting subway lines that were borne out of the competing IRT, BMT, and IND companies resolve a century old conflict to better reflect traveling patterns and needs that are in the interest of today’s commuters. In-station transfers that were cumbersome and difficult to navigate between the numerous subway lines have been transformed into a brightly lit concourse with sweeping sightlines. “This new transit hub will go a long way toward enhancing the travel experience of hundreds of thousands of customers. They will finally benefit from a thoughtful design that vastly improves passenger flow throughout the station, minimizes congestion and makes transferring far easier than ever before,” said New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. Our customers will also benefit from the addition of another fully ADA-compliant station to the growing network of stations in our subway system and everyone will reap the benefits from the many technological features the station offers. It’s a hub built in the 21st century for the 21st century and beyond.” A new 350-foot-long pedestrian tunnel constructed under Dey Street between Broadway and Church Street will expand intermodal transit options by offering a connection to the R subway line, built outside of fare control, and ultimately to PATH trains at the World Trade Center complex. These transit options will expand to include transfers to the E subway line when the World Trade Center Transit Hub opens, and the 1 subway line once the Cortlandt Street Station is rebuilt. In order to ensure the new complex is accessible to all of our customers, ten escalators and fifteen American with Disabilities Act (ADA) elevators have been installed. The public restroom facilities include two ADA accessible bathrooms on the concourse and the street level. Westfield will be subletting the commercial space in the facility and leasing the digital advertising. The firm will manage the retail/commercial space plus some 60,000-square-feet of public circulation areas and 63,000-square-feet of mechanical and other “back-of-house” space. This includes the majority of the non-station areas of the Fulton Center complex, most prominently, the new glass and steel Fulton Building at the southeast corner of Broadway and Fulton Street; the historic Corbin Building at the northeast corner of Broadway and John Street; the Dey Street Head House at the southwest corner of Broadway and Dey Street; and the concourse under Dey Street that will connect to the future World Trade Center PATH Station. With limited exceptions, Westfield will be responsible for, operating and maintaining the space and making required repairs throughout the lease term. The Fulton Center will be the only all-digital signage transit hub in New York City, housing the MTA’s largest state-of-the-art digital signage media program with an extensive network of over 50 screens to host advertising campaigns that will also be managed and operated by Westfield. For the first time in the MTA system, a site-specific digital arts program will be employed at the complex, which is being managed by MTA Arts and Design. A series of screens will be dedicated to MTA customer information including service advisories and train arrival information. In the case of an emergency, the MTA has the ability to override all displays to provide relevant information. The Fulton Center’s state-of-the-art customer information system also includes 16 interactive On the Go! Kiosks. The sleek, stainless steel kiosks feature large screens offering customers information about their entire trip, from planning with Trip Planner+, real-time service status, escalator & elevator status and local neighborhood maps. As added features, the screens provide news and weather information. Seven additional kiosks, managed by Westfield, will display advertisements and tenant information. The centerpiece of Fulton Center includes a 53-foot-diameter glass oculus over a grand atrium. Suspended under tension within the atrium's conical form is the "Sky Reflector-Net”, an integrated artwork by James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA), Grimshaw Architects and Arup. The artwork, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design, is composed of 112 tensioned cables, 224 high-strength rods and nearly 10,000 stainless steel components. Attached to the soaring cable-net are 952 aluminum panels optimized to distribute year-round daylight and reflect natural sunlight down into the lowest levels of the building. Fulfilling its civic purpose, the artwork combines beauty and function, reduces energy consumption and powerfully connects daily transit users with a tangible sense of daylight. The Fulton Center is in the process of qualifying for LEED certification. Fulton Center offers increased daylight and views along with reduced urban heat island effect through reflective roof surfaces. Environment-friendly features reduce potable water use by 30 percent and energy demand by 25 percent compared to a baseline building of a similar type. More than 20 percent of materials used in construction were sourced locally and made of recycled content. By minimizing energy and water use, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced and cleaner air provided for all New Yorkers. Fulton Center is equipped with the latest in electrical, HVAC and sprinkler systems, and houses four Con Edison transformers and network protectors. Construction of the Fulton Center also included the restoration of the Corbin Building. Built in 1889, the Corbin Building was originally designed by Francis Hatch Kimball, and was named for Austin Corbin, a former President of the Long Island Rail Road. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. The Fulton Center project preserved the historical landmark with $59 million in renovations including major structural underpinning, and refurbishment of the interior and façade. The Corbin Building provides an additional street level entrance to the Fulton Center on John Street. At this entrance, escalators are available to bring commuters and shoppers down to the concourse level of the facility to access the Dey Street passageway, retail shops, and the A/C mezzanine. “Integrating an historic century-old office building with a modern, state-of-the-art transit and retail hub presented significant challenges for both our design and construction teams,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction, whose organization is responsible for the MTA’s four megaprojects, including the Fulton Center. “From making sense of the former maze that confused even the most seasoned subway customers to shoring up the foundation of the Corbin Building, our project team came through in splendid fashion. The Fulton Center rivals the world’s most exquisite transportation facilities.” The project team was faced with many challenges unique to its location during project construction. The area around Fulton Center is extremely congested and there was limited availability of space to move equipment and workers around. Performing construction in such conditions required creative ways to stage work. Contractors used mini-piles to underpin the Corbin Building. The piles were installed by hand because large machines could not be used in such a confined space. The pits for the new foundation were also dug by hand with picks, shovels and buckets. The Corbin Building was rigged with motion sensors and other monitors to detect any building movement during work activities. Construction of the Fulton Center set the bar for working harmoniously in an intense urban environment. During construction of the complex, a pedestrian underpass was dug in the oldest section of the city without curtailing service to nine subway lines or interrupting electric, gas and communications utilities. Heavy equipment had to be moved into a neighborhood where traffic was already backed up by the ongoing reconstruction of the World Trade Center one block to the west. The work competed with other construction sites in the area, like a high-rise office building and a college dormitory to the south and east. Superstorm Sandy complicated matters further in 2012, rendering the entire site impassible for weeks. Fulton Center has received numerous accolades recognizing the multifaceted elements of the project, including the New York State Society of Professional Engineers Project of the Year Award in 2014; the Diamond Award in the environmental category from the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York awarded in 2014; the New York Landmarks Conservancy Lucy G. Moses Stewardship Award in 2013; and a Commendation from the 2014 Brunel Awards, which recognizes excellence in architecture and design in railway–the only project in the U.S. to receive such recognition (MTA - posted 11/19)



BROOKVILLE EQUIPMENT TO REBUILD SAN FRANCISCO TROLLEY CARS:  Brookville Equipment Corporation (BROOKVILLE) and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) agreed to terms on Thursday, September 17, for the rebuild of 16 Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars, adding a minimum of 20 years of service life to the historic vehicles in a contract valued at nearly $34.5 million. The end of life rebuild order includes 13 single-end PCC streetcars originally manufactured in 1947 and initially restored in 1993 after being purchased by SFMTA from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in 1992. Additionally, the order includes rebuilds for three SFMTA-original double-ender streetcars manufactured in 1948 and restored in 1995. “BROOKVILLE is eager and excited to continue its longtime partnership with SFMTA through the restoration of these 16 PCC streetcars and to expand our portfolio in the United States streetcar market,” said Joel McNeil, BROOKVILLE Vice President, Business Development. “Muni’s legacy in public transit is one of the richest in the world, and BROOKVILLE is proud to be a longtime and future contributor to their fleet of PCC and heritage streetcars.” The order marks the second partnership between BROOKVILLE and SFMTA, after BROOKVILLE completely restored 16 PCC streetcars, including 12 single-end PCC streetcars and four double-enders, through a progressive refurbishment program from 2004 through 2012. That order also included a seventeenth car – Streetcar No. 1, which was the United States’ and SFMTA’s first publicly-owned streetcar, originally manufactured in 1912. A public unveiling and reintroduction of the streetcar was held in 2012 in celebration of SFMTA’s centennial anniversary. Slated to begin immediately at BROOKVILLE’s main facility in Brookville, Pa., the rebuild order will include structural repairs to the carbodies, exterior refinishing, interior repairs and restoration – including refurbishment of passenger seating, stanchions and flooring. The scope of work also includes the installation of new propulsion systems, with the exception of traction motors and foot pedal assemblies – which will be rebuilt. Additionally, the truck sets will be rebuilt and upgraded to include a new BROOKVILLE-designed disc brake system. The Buy America-compliant project will be completed by 2020. At the conclusion of the project, BROOKVILLE will have made contributions to each vehicle in SFMTA’s PCC fleet since 2004. SFMTA is the seventh largest public transit system in the United States, with a ridership of over 700,000 on an average weekday and maintains a fleet of over 1,000 vehicles. World renowned for their unique liveries, which serve as moving tributes to the historical streetcar systems of the United States and abroad, the symbolic PCC cars of the F-Line carry up to 20,000 passengers per day. (BROOKVILLE EQUIPMENT CORPORATION) (MTA - posted 11/19)

MTA ON THE GO NETWORK OFFERS CUSTOMERS UP-TO-DATE INFO: The colorful screens of MTA New York City Transit’s network of On the Go Travel Station kiosks are becoming more and more evident in subway stations. The growing customer information system is one of the largest transit-based digital signage networks in the United States, and currently provides transit information to more than 1.2 million subway customers daily. The six-foot tall, stainless steel kiosks featuring 47-inch interactive screens have been installed and activated in 30 stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, with a total of 153 on tap by year end. The network is made possible through a unique public-private partnership among NYC Transit, Outfront Media (formerly CBS Outdoor Americas Inc.) and Control Group NYC. The On the Go Travel Station is an innovative electronic communications tool that provides subway customers with information about their complete trip, from planning and service status to information about nearby destinations. The kiosks place an unprecedented amount of transit information at customers’ fingertips while they are in the system. In addition to customers pulling information, NYC Transit can push granular Service Advisory messages to network screens. More than 140 screens are located in fare-control areas, mezzanines and on platforms. Each kiosk – whether hard wired to the NYC Transit network or part of a secure wireless network – is individually addressable. “The On the Go Travel Station network is one of the most ambitious in-system customer information initiatives we’ve undertaken since the introduction of our subway countdown clocks,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Having a digital platform for customers to obtain travel information, while simultaneously giving us the ability to communicate with them is a huge step forward in our efforts to provide timely information to customers at the point of transit decision making,” added Prendergast. The network’s rollout comes three years after the initial introduction of the On the Go pilot program. As part of that pilot, five kiosks were installed at three subway stations and one each at Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station. In this proof-of-concept phase, MTA NYC Transit is working with two private sector partners who covered kiosk fabrication, screen user interface design and programming costs. The partner firms will recoup their investment through the sale of digital advertising displayed on the screens. NYC Transit is covering installation and maintenance costs, and will share in advertising revenue with both Outfront Media and Control Group. “These kiosks are a beacon for customers in the system, “said NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “To see our customers interact with the machines, to use the map, check a service advisory or plan a trip shows me that this investment was well worth it, and is just what our customers want — accurate, up-to-date information and access to it. The development of the On the Go system is in line with the modernization of the subway system and just one component in our ongoing effort to offer our customers relevant and up to date information,” Bianco added. (MTA - posted 11/07)

AAR REPORTS INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR OCTOBER AND FOR THE WEEK: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for October 2014, with both carload and intermodal volume increasing compared with October 2013. U.S. Class I railroads originated 1,507,917 carloads in October 2014, up 4.4 percent, or 63,881 carloads, over October 2013. The average of 301,583 weekly carloads in October 2014 marked only the third time since 2008 that a month had a weekly carload overage of more than 300,000. Intermodal traffic in October totaled 1,381,749 containers and trailers, up 4.9 percent, or 64,071 units, over October 2013. October 2014 was the best month in history for U.S. rail intermodal traffic. The weekly average of 276,350 containers and trailers in October 2014 was the highest ever, and October was the 59th straight month of year-over-year intermodal increases. For the first 10 months of 2014, U.S. intermodal volume was a record 11,459,079 units, up 5.5 percent over 2013. Fifteen of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in October. Commodities with the biggest carload increases in October 2014 over October 2013 were coal up 21,010 carloads, or 3.9 percent; petroleum and petroleum products up 14,053 carloads, or 20.7 percent; crushed stone, sand, and gravel up 11,880 carloads, or 10.4 percent; and metallic ores up 4,161 carloads, or 11.4 percent. For the year, grain carloads are up 114,900 carloads, or 15 percent. Excluding coal, U.S. rail carloads were up 42,871 carloads, or 4.7 percent, in October 2014 over October 2013. Excluding coal and grain, U.S. rail carloads were up 43,237, or 5.4 percent, in October 2014. “America’s railroads are moving an enormous amount of freight today,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “In the first 10 months of 2014, total U.S. carload plus intermodal volume was 24.3 million units, which is over one million units more than in the first 10 months of 2013 and the highest year-to-date total since 2007.” AAR today also reported increased rail traffic for the week ending Nov. 1, 2014. U.S. railroads originated 305,389 carloads last week, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 279,819 units, up 5.9 percent compared with the same week last year and the highest ever. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 585,208 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products, with 16,447 carloads, up 20.4 percent; metallic ores and metals, with 28,303 carloads, up 20.1 percent; and grain with 23,847 carloads, up 14.5 percent. Commodities that posted a decrease were led by motor vehicles and parts, with 17,888 carloads, down 2.9 percent. For the first 44 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,830,740 carloads, up 3.6 percent from the same point last year, and 11,459,079 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 44 weeks of 2014 was 24,289,819 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 86,893 carloads for the week, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 60,312 intermodal units, up 10 percent compared with 2013. For the first 44 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,542,923 carloads, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year, and 2,525,718 intermodal units, up 6.7 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 14,247 carloads for the week, down 8.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,632 intermodal units, up 6.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 44 weeks of 2014 is 694,461 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year, and 470,354 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent. Combined North American rail volume for the first 44 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 17,068,124 carloads, up 3.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 14,455,151 trailers and containers, up 5.7 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 11/07)

FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION STRENGTHENS TRAINING REQUIREMENTS FOR RAILROAD SAFETY EMPLOYEES: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a final rule that strengthens training requirements for railroad employees and contractors who perform safety-related work. The rule, which was mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008, ensures safety-related employees are trained and qualified to comply with any relevant federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders. “Safety is our top priority and this is just the latest step in our mission to ensure the safety of railroad employees, the public and the communities these railroads pass through,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The GROW AMERICA Act will help advance safety by harnessing technology and research, as well as implementing Positive Train Control and updating federal hours of service regulations.” The rule improves training for all safety-related railroad employees, regardless of whether the person is employed by a railroad, a contractor or a subcontractor, by requiring:
  • Minimum training standards for each type of safety-related railroad employee;
  • FRA review and approval of each employer’s training program to ensure employees will be qualified to measurable standards;
  • Greater use of structured on-the-job and interactive training;
  • Methods for each employer to review and improve training programs annually with a focus on closing performance gaps;
  • A streamlined, nation-wide approach that bolsters training for operators of roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane that work across multiple jurisdictions.
“Quality training is fundamental to the execution of safety sensitive railroad duties,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “This regulation ensures the heightened professionalism of the workforce that keeps our railroads running safety and efficiently every day.” Through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), FRA is working to complete the actions mandated by RSIA, including developing a framework for the creation and implementation of performance-based programs that anticipate and reduce risk. An RSAC working group has developed recommendations for fatigue management provisions and the agency moving forward with rulemakings related to the transportation of crude oil and ethanol by rail – one focusing on the securement of equipment and the other on the appropriate crew size requirements when transporting highly flammable liquids. Additionally, FRA is preparing a final rule amending its regulations related to roadway workers and is developing other RSAC-supported actions that advance high-performing passenger rail, such as proposed rules on standards for alternative compliance with FRA’s Passenger Equipment Safety Standards. The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) mission is to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient rail transportation of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future. The GROW AMERICA Act supports this mission with predictable, dedicated investments that enhance safety and modernize our rail infrastructure to meet growing market demand. The Act also builds on current investments to vastly improve the system in areas ranging from Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation to enhancing flexibility in financing programs that will better enable the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. (FRA - posted 11/07)

CSX CONCLUDES RACKETEERING AND FRAUD LITIGATION AGAINST ASBESTOS LAWYERS: CSX Transportation today announced that it has resolved the final stages of its racketeering and fraud lawsuit against asbestos attorneys Robert N. Peirce Jr. and Louis A. Raimond, and radiologist Dr. Ray Harron. As part of the settlement, the West Virginia jury's verdict stands and CSX will be paid $7.3 million to satisfy the trial court judgment entered against the lawyers and doctor on September 25, 2013, and in resolution of disputed motions for attorney fees and costs. CSX brought civil RICO and fraud claims against the defendants on July 5, 2007, alleging that they conspired to manufacture and litigate fraudulent asbestos claims against the company. In December 2012, a jury agreed and awarded CSX approximately $429,000 in damages – an amount later tripled to $1.3 million by the trial court judge as required by the federal racketeering statute. Those damages and legal fees totaled $7.3 million. Prior to this settlement, the judgment had been on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va. That appeal is to be dismissed, leaving the jury's findings and resulting judgment undisturbed. "We sincerely thank the jury and the judges. They acknowledged that fraud in injury claims degrades the U.S. system and makes it harder for truly injured persons to be treated fairly," said Ellen M. Fitzsimmons, executive vice president, law and public affairs, CSX. "These funds will be donated to the CSX Foundation, where they will be dedicated to philanthropic efforts serving CSX's communities." The CSX Foundation supports Beyond our Rails (beyondourrails.org), a shared effort between CSX and its employees to advance safety, wellness, environmental and community-based initiatives that seek to improve the well-being of the people and places CSX serves. (CSX, Randy Kotuby posted 11/06)

FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION APPROVES CONSTRUCTION ALTERNATIVE FOR CSX'S VIRGINIA AVENUE TUNNEL PROJECT: The Federal Highway Administration has approved a preferred construction alternative for CSX’s Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, enabling CSX to complete the tunnel’s design and initiate the construction permitting process. The decision marks the completion of an extensive environmental review of the project conducted jointly with the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, which incorporates three years of input from residents, businesses and government agencies in the southeast Washington, D.C., neighborhood around the tunnel.  The Federal government approved a proposal to modernize the 110-year old tunnel which will improve the flow of freight traffic through the District of Columbia and eliminate a rail-traffic bottleneck that also impacts commuter and passenger trains in the region. The new structure will accommodate trains that can carry enough freight to remove the equivalent of 280 trucks per train from the nation’s highways.  “The Virginia Avenue Tunnel is a critical piece of our national and regional transportation infrastructure,” said Louis E. Renjel, Jr., vice president of strategic infrastructure initiatives for CSX. “Reconstructing the aging tunnel will eliminate a long-standing rail bottleneck that impacts freight and commuter rail, and it will increase the network’s capacity ahead of anticipated growth in freight-rail traffic. Through CSX’s commitment to the community, neighbors will enjoy improved streetscapes, additional green spaces, a new bike trail and other improvements as part of the project. “While this decision is the end of the Federal environmental review process, it is just the beginning of a new phase of CSX’s relationship with the community,” Renjel said. “Input from residents shaped many features of this project and we are appreciative of their involvement.  We are committed to doing this project the right way; safely, respecting our neighbors and working closely with residents and businesses to minimize impacts and to ensure that they are informed about construction plans.” CSX plans to use a new website, social media, events, briefings and other tools to maintain the flow of information to area residents and businesses. The company has an established community office in the neighborhood that is staffed during regular hours to allow visitors to learn more about the project and ask specific questions of company representatives.  CSX and its design/build contractor, Clark/Parsons, will now finalize the tunnel design and begin applying for construction permits in compliance with D.C.’s established construction-permitting process.  Following the initial permitting process, utility relocations and other preliminary efforts will begin. Major construction is expected to begin in the next several months, following receipt of the required permits.  The CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel team has voluntarily committed to hire workers and select contractors consistent with the spirit of the District of Columbia’s First Source and Certified Business Enterprise programs. In response to feedback from nearby residents, the alternative selected through this process has the shortest construction timespan (30 to 42 months) of any of the construction alternatives considered and ensures that trains will always operate in enclosed tunnels in front of nearby residences. The plan includes significant measures to reduce the construction impacts on nearby residences and businesses, including dust, noise and vibration monitoring and control plans; limited construction hours; and maintenance-of-traffic plans that ensure continued pedestrian access and vehicle mobility for all essential services throughout the process.  The Virginia Avenue Tunnel is part of CSX’s National Gateway, an initiative to improve the flow of rail traffic throughout the nation by increasing the use of double-stacked intermodal trains and creating more efficient rail routes that link Mid-Atlantic ports with Midwestern markets for domestic and imported products. It is one of several infrastructure investments CSX is making to meet the growing demand to move more freight by rail across its network. The Virginia Avenue Tunnel, one of the largest components of the National Gateway program, is receiving no Federal funds. The record of decision is available for review and downloading at www.virginiaavenuetunnel.com/a> (CSX, Alex Mayes posted 11/05)

NEW AMTRAK THRUWAY BUS SERVICE BETWEEN RICHMOND AND CHARLOTTESVILLE: Amtrak and James River Transportation have launched a new Thruway bus service that connects passengers traveling to/from Richmond to two long-distance trains at Charlottesville. From Charlottesville, the Crescent continues south to Atlanta and New Orleans and the Cardinal operates west to Cincinnati and Chicago. The Thruway bus connection serves both the Staples Mill Road and Main Street stations in Richmond and the Charlottesville station. The busses are equipped with Wi-Fi, electrical outlets and comfortable seating, including tables. Both Amtrak trains offer passengers a wide, comfortable reserved coach seat or sleeping accommodations, hot meals in the dining car and the opportunity to mingle with fellow travelers in the lounge car. Checked baggage will be offered to/from the Staples Mill Road and Charlottesville stations. (Amtrak - posted 11/05)

72ND ANNUAL SANTA TRAIN ON THE FORMER CLINCHFIELD RAILROAD: The 72nd annual Santa Train will operate over 110 miles of the former Clinchfield Railroad on Saturday, November 22. The train originates in Shelby, Kentucky, operating through Virginia, and terminates in Kingsport, Tennessee. The train makes 14 scheduled stops (Shelby, Marrowbone and Elkhorn City in Kentucky; Clinchco, Haysi, Toms Bottom, Dante, Dungannon, Fremont, Fort Blackmore, Kermit and St. Paul in Virginia; and Waycross and Kingsport in Tennessee). Crowd sizes at each stop range from a few hundred to more than a thousand people. Santa ride the rear observation car of the train, tossing clothing, food, candy, toys and gifts to thos trackside. Upon arrival in Kingsport, Santa departs the train and mounts the top ladder of a sparkling red fire engine to anchor Kingsport’s own Yuletide Parade. The Santa Train, the annual 110-mile rail ‘Christmas Parade’ from Shelby, Ky., to Kingsport, Tenn., is an Appalachian tradition that ushers in the holiday season in the region. Supported by many contributors, Santa and friends toss more than 15 tons of clothing, food, candy, toys and gifts to generations of followers. On arrival in Kingsport, Santa departs the train and mounts the top ladder of a sparkling red fire engine to anchor Kingsport’s own Yuletide Parade. The train schedule will be as follows:
  • KENTUCKY
    • Shelby: 6:30 a.m. train departure
    • Marrowbone: 6:45 a.m. train arrival; 7 a.m. train departure
    • Elkhorn City: 7:25 a.m. train arrival; 7:45 a.m. train departure.
    VIRGINIA
    • Toms Bottom: 8:05 a.m. train arrival; 8:15 a.m. train departure
    • Haysi: 8:27 a.m. train arrival; 8:42 a.m. train departure
    • Clinchco: 9 a.m. train arrival; 9:15 a.m. train departure
    • Fremont: 9:28 a.m. train arrival; 9:53 a.m. train departure
    • Dante: 10:28 a.m. train arrival; 10:48 a.m. train departure
    • St. Paul: 11:08 a.m. train arrival; 11:28 a.m. train departure
    • Dungannon: 12:13 p.m. train arrival; 12:33 p.m. train departure
    • Fort Blackmore: 12:53 p.m. train arrival; 1:08 p.m. train departure
    • Kermit: 1:48 p.m. train arrival; 2:18 p.m. train departure
    • Waycross: 2:30 p.m. train arrival; 2:45 p.m. train departure.
    TENNESSEE
    • Kingsport: 3:08 p.m. train arrival.
    For more information, visit the Santa Train website at
    http://www.teamsantatrain.org ( posted 11/04)

    TORONTO SIGNAL MODERNIZATION: Metrolinx will upgrade and modernize the entire signalling system within the Toronto Union Station Rail Corridor (USRC) starting next year – a transformational improvement that will provide long-term benefits to both transit operations and customers. Replacing the signalling system within the USRC is part of Metrolinx's overall Signalling and Train Control Improvement Program, and the next phase of an overall revitalization of the USRC that will improve service reliability, eliminate track bottlenecks, increase train speeds and reduce operating costs. Most critically, the upgrades to the more than 80-year-old signalling system will ensure GO Transit can prepare for the anticipated doubling of ridership over the next 10-20 years. On a typical weekday, approximately 200,000 GO Transit passengers travel to and from Union Station. Metrolinx's USRC Signalling System Project is valued at $365.5 million. The Government of Canada is contributing up to $92 million through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, the Province of Ontario and Metrolinx are contributing the remaining amount (Metrolinx - posted 11/03)

    FLORIDA EAST COAST ACQUIRES 24 NEW GE LOCOMOTIVES: Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) is about to take delivery of the first of 24 new Tier 3 locomotives, acquired from GE Transportation (GE).  The new locomotives will be used in thru-freight, heavy haul service on the railway's 351-mile mainline route between Jacksonville, and Miami, Florida.  The remainder of the locomotives will be placed in service by the end of 2014. The ES44C4 locomotive, part of GE's Evolution® Series, is designed to meet U.S. EPA Tier 3 emissions requirements using advanced engine technology that lowers fuel consumption and operating costs.  These locomotives provide many benefits and are vital towards controlling NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions. "GE is pleased that FEC Railway has chosen our ES44C4 locomotives for its through-haul fleet," said David Tucker, Vice President Global Sales.  "We look forward to continuing our partnership as they continue to push the envelope on advanced technologies." "These locomotives will provide the fuel-efficient power, we need to support current operations and the future growth of the railroad," said Fran Chinnici, Senior Vice President of Mechanical, Engineering and Purchasing at FECR. "It's fitting that these new GE locomotives are outfitted in the "Champion" paint scheme introduced by FECR many years ago," said James R. Hertwig, President & CEO.  "Similar to the early times of rapid expansion and growth along Florida's east coast, these locomotives will be utilized to champion FECR, providing the efficient horsepower needed to support the transportation of intermodal, carload, auto, and port business for the growing Florida economy." (FEC, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/31)

    VIA RAIL CELEBRATES THE COMPLETION OF WORK AT WINNIPEG'S UNION STATION : VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) announced the completion of Winnipeg's Union Station upgrades. During an inauguration ceremony for the newly renovated station on October 20, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail, celebrated this event alongside members of Manitoba's political community and transportation industry stakeholders. The event provided an opportunity for all to discover the new look and upgrades done in the heritage building, which was awarded BOMA BESt environmental certification in 2011. This project was made possible thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada. The over $6 million renovation project to VIA Rail’s Winnipeg Union Station took approximately 14 months and created over 70 jobs. The restoration was completed according to schedule and within budget, has given the hundred-year-old station a renewed and modern feel. Significant upgrades were made to client facilities including the ticket counter, washrooms and waiting areas. Station accessibility was improved with the installation of a new elevator between the waiting room and the passenger boarding platform, among other accessible amenities. The central rotunda, one of the station's most distinctive features, was cleaned, repaired and repainted. The restoration of the rotunda emphasizes the station's heritage status, as its new look resembles that of the original rotunda. The funding for this project tops the $3.5 million already invested in many renovation projects carried out since 2007, including a full roof replacement and repairs to heating and cooling systems. The Winnipeg Union Station is the largest station owned by VIA Rail. "Thanks to this major work, we can now offer an improved work environment to our employees, a new experience to our passengers and a promising future to Winnipeg Station. We are very pleased with the station's new look and upgrades," said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 10/30)

    AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Oct. 25, 2014 with 307,348 total carloads, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,767 units, up 6.7 percent compared with the same week last year. The week was the third highest intermodal week in history for U.S. railroads. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 586,115 carloads and intermodal units, up 5 percent compared with the same week last year. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,953 carloads, up 20 percent, and nonmetallic minerals with 39,312 carloads, up 8.9 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 were led by grain with 22,361 carloads, down 10.5 percent, though grain remains up by 15.1 percent year to date. For the first 43 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,525,351 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 11,179,260 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2014 was 23,704,611 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 90,312 carloads for the week, up 16.1 percent, and 59,272 intermodal units, up 12.1 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 43 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,456,030 carloads, up 1.8 percent from the same point last year, and 2,465,406 intermodal units, up 6.6 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 16,454 carloads for the week, up 5.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,135 intermodal units, up 8.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 43 weeks of 2014 was 680,214 carloads, up 3.3 percent from the same point last year, and 459,722 intermodal units, up 5 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 43 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,661,595 carloads, up 3.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 14,104,388 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent compared with last year. (AAR - posted 10/30)

    VIA RAIL GOES INTERNATIONAL: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) goes international by establishing a partnership with the passenger rail carrier alliance company AccesRail. This partnership will extend VIA Rail's distribution reach to over 120,000 travel agencies around the world through AccesRail's airline connectivity to Global Distribution Systems, which enable the integration of rail services into travel agents' booking systems. AccesRail offers an easy way for passenger rail carriers to sell tickets through IATA certified travel agents, by using their established airline booking systems. The integration of rail suppliers in the Global Distribution Systems will improve VIA Rail's international sales by encouraging inter-modal transport. This partnership is aligned with VIA Rail's inter-modal strategy, initiated in 2010, for which it won the 2013 AirRail Concept of the Year at the Global AirRail Awards ceremony in Frankfurt. VIA Rail's inter-modal strategy makes transport more efficient by increasing interconnectivity with other passenger carriers and multiplying travel options for customers. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 10/29)

    AMTRAK ESTABLISHES BLUE RIBBON PANEL TO ADDRESS CHICAGO RAIL GRIDLOCK: Amtrak is establishing a blue ribbon panel of rail and transportation leaders to identify infrastructure and operational improvements to address the rail traffic gridlock in Chicago. The unprecedented level of rail congestion is causing major delays for Amtrak passengers and freight shipments which are damaging to the U.S. economy. Panel members on the Chicago Gateway Initiative include Jack Quinn, former U.S. Congressman and past chairman of the U.S. House Railroads Subcommittee, Linda Morgan, former chair of the Surface Transportation Board and Tom Carper, Amtrak board member and past chairman. The freight railroads which operate in Chicago and other stakeholders will be invited to participate in panel activities and are key to implementing recommended solutions. Because Chicago is the hub of the U.S. rail network, and the key gateway between East and West rail traffic, gridlock in the Chicago area is causing major delays throughout the United States. The congestion problem is caused by a combination of rising demand on the East Coast for more intermodal freight and crude oil shipments which originate west of Chicago, underinvestment in critical rail infrastructure that produces public benefits and short term capital projects that create additional temporary bottlenecks. The panel is charged with identifying and evaluating infrastructure investments and operational actions that will optimize Amtrak on-time performance and improve freight rail service. Its objectives are to minimize disruptions and delays, and accelerate the construction of infrastructure projects. A final report on recommendations is expected by the end of May 2015. “The rail gridlock in Chicago is causing unacceptable delays for Amtrak passengers while reducing revenues and driving up operating costs for Amtrak,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. Chicago is Amtrak’s most important hub and many of its trains that operate to and from the city are suffering from poor on-time performance, dispatching issues and high levels of freight train interference. For example, delays of four hours or more for Amtrak trains operating between Chicago and Cleveland have become a near daily occurrence. These and other major delays have ripple effects across the Amtrak national system. If Amtrak trains, which have statutory dispatching priority over freight trains, cannot be moved efficiently through the nation’s principal rail hub, then freight shipments will continue to be slowed by gridlock as well. The CREATE program has been a concerted effort by freight railroads, Amtrak and other stakeholders to address rail congestion issues in Chicago and it has achieved several successes. The Chicago Gateway Initiative will build on the CREATE program by re-energizing the conversation, stimulating new discussion about next steps for securing funding to implement CREATE projects, and seeking to improve cooperative efforts among the railroads. “Alleviating Chicago rail congestion will be of great benefit to Amtrak passengers and the fluidity of the national freight transportation network,” said Boardman. “We need solutions and predictable dedicated funding to make the needed infrastructure investments. Let’s get started.” (Amtrak - posted 10/28)

    AMTRAK RIDERSHIP AND REVENUES CONTINUE STRONG GROWTH IN FY 2014: Amtrak posted record ticket revenues for its Fiscal Year 2014 ending Sept. 30, and achieved an increase in ridership over the prior fiscal year, reflecting strong continued demand for passenger rail. However, meeting future growth in passenger demand requires investing in the infrastructure that supports intercity passenger rail and resolving unacceptable congestion delays caused by freight railroads that own the tracks. For Fiscal Year 2014, ticket revenues reached $2.189 billion, up 4.0 percent from the prior year. Ridership was more than 30.9 million, an increase of 0.2 percent over adjusted FY 2013 numbers. The slower growth in ridership than in recent years is due, in part, to a harsh winter season and on-time performance issues associated with freight train delays and infrastructure in need of replacement. With ridership of 11.6 million, the Northeast Corridor (NEC) had its highest ridership year ever in FY 2014, up 3.3 percent from the prior year. However, ridership on long-distance routes and state-supported services declined by 4.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. The Acela Express and the Northeast Regional services each set a new ridership record. In particular, Acela showed strong popularity, with 28 days where the number of trips topped 14,000 as compared to just five such days in the previous year. Eight other routes also set ridership records, including Adirondack, Auto Train, Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto, Blue Water, Capitol Limited, Empire Service, Piedmont, and Washington-Lynchburg. “Amtrak is clearly selling a product that is very much in demand,” said Amtrak Board Chairman Tony Coscia. “Achieving strong ridership and revenue despite the challenges with aging infrastructure and freight rail congestion demonstrates Amtrak’s commitment to improving its financial and operating performance, and is a credit to Amtrak’s management and staff. It is now time to leverage Amtrak’s successes in increasing ridership and improving performance by making much-needed investments in our nation’s passenger rail system.” “As more and more people choose Amtrak for their travel needs, investments must be made in the tracks, tunnels, bridges and other infrastructure used by intercity passenger trains particularly on the Northeast Corridor and in Chicago,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “Otherwise, we face a future with increased infrastructure-related service disruptions and delays that will hurt local and regional economies and drive passengers away.” Boardman explained that nowhere is the connection between passenger rail and economic growth stronger than in the NEC, but its infrastructure continues to age and suffers from a chronic case of long-term underfunding. He said a new federal policy and funding arrangement is needed to create a significant and reliable multi-year capital investment program to reverse the decay of NEC infrastructure and support other intercity passenger rail projects across the nation. Further, many long-distance and state-supported trains operate over tracks owned and dispatched by freight railroads that could benefit from infrastructure upgrades to improve the fluidity of the rail system. Not only are delays to passenger trains on these tracks increasing, but so, too, is the magnitude of those delays. On many of these routes, passenger rail has experienced a significant decline in on-time performance, lower ridership and revenue, and increased operating costs. “The freight railroads simply have to do a better job in moving Amtrak trains over their tracks,” Boardman stressed. “Amtrak is prepared to take all necessary steps with the freights to enforce our statutory, regulatory and contractual rights to meet the expectation of our passengers for improved on-time performance.” Amtrak is working with the freight railroads to address the congestion situation and is also pursuing remedies through the federal Surface Transportation Board. In addition, Amtrak is open to supporting public funding to supplement freight railroad track capacity, but only after the operational and maintenance improvements under their own control have been exhausted and prove to be insufficient. (Amtrak - posted 10/27)

    LIRR PORT WASHINGTON BRANCH IMPROVEMENTS: The Long Island Committee of the MTA Board today approved an initial $24.9 million contract for the extension of a pocket track east of the Long Island Rail Road’s Great Neck Station and the replacement of the 115-year- old Colonial Road Bridge, a three-year project and key component of the LIRR’s East Side Access Readiness Plan. The contract now goes to the full MTA Board which is scheduled to take up the matter at its meeting on Wednesday. The project is scheduled for completion in 2017 with the pocket track to cost an estimated $25.2 million and the new bridge $19.9 million for a total estimated cost of $45.1 million. The balance of the budget represents the cost of work that will be done by LIRR employees in the construction of the pocket track including utility relocation and power, signal, and switch installation. The LIRR is asking the MTA Board to award the contract to Railroad Construction Company, Inc. of Paterson, N.J., following a competitive process in which six firms submitted bids in response to a request for proposals issued in January. LIRR officials said Railroad Construction Company, a firm that has served rail industry since 1926, offered the best technical plan and the lowest price. “These infrastructure improvements will enable the LIRR to provide safe and reliable service on the Port Washington Branch for many years to come and give us the operational flexibility to provide better train service, especially when the East Side Access project is complete,” said LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski. The new pocket track will extend an existing storage track to accommodate an additional 12 car train. Once complete, it will enable the LIRR to increase the number of trains it can turn at Great Neck, provide better rush hour service as well as seat availability from Great Neck and stations west of Great Neck. The Colonial Road Bridge, built in 1897, crosses over the LIRR track a half mile east of Great Neck Station in the Village of Thomaston. Maintenance of the bridge is the sole responsibility of the LIRR, whose engineering staff determined the structure is at the end of its useful life. The new bridge will meet New York State Department of Transportation standards, which means wider travel vehicular travel lanes and improved pedestrian sidewalk. The project will also involve the construction of a new drainage system at track level that will eliminate a flooding problem that often hampers train service and include a retaining wall and landscaping which together will act as a sound barrier between the LIRR Right of Way and the local neighborhood. East Side Access, scheduled for completion in 2022, will enable Long Islanders to ride the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal and the East Side of Manhattan for the first time, saving customers who work on the East Side as much as 20 minutes commuting time in each direction. The Great Neck Pocket Track and new Colonial Road Bridge is part of the East Side Access Readiness Plan, five major infrastructure improvements the LIRR is planning in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk in support of future train service at Grand Central. The other projects are: Jamaica Capacity Improvements ($301 million), Mid-Suffolk Train Storage Yard ($76.6 million) Massapequa Pocket Track ($19.6 million) and Port Washington Yard Track Extension ($12.1 million.) (MTA - posted 10/27)

    MTA HIRE FIRST CHIEF SAFETY OFFICER: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it has named David L. Mayer as the agency’s new Chief Safety Officer. The new position was created to reinforce safety as the top priority for all MTA agencies as they continue to improve work practices and invest in new technology and equipment. “Having someone to oversee and lead safety initiatives throughout the system can only enhance and improve our efforts,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “David’s experience with the National Transportation Safety Board, and exceptional work on safety projects in all modes of transportation, makes him the best person for the job.” Mayer will begin at the MTA on December 1.. He will report directly to the Chairman and CEO. He will work closely with Metro-North Railroad Chief Safety Officer Anne Kirsch, Long Island Rail Road Chief Safety Officer Loretta Ebbighausen, New York City Transit VP System Safety Cheryl Kennedy, VP Safety Programs and Initiatives at MTA Bridges and Tunnels James Foley, and MTA Capital Construction VP of Safety Peter Kohner. They will continue to monitor the condition of crews and equipment at their respective agencies, reporting to their agency’s president. “I’m excited to join a transportation network that is focused on promoting a safety culture while constantly looking for ways to improve its practices. I look forward to the challenge of proactively serving a population of over 15 million people,” said Mayer. Mayer began his career at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 1991 in the Office of Research and Engineering. In 2001, he was named Assistant Managing Director and then promoted to Managing Director in 2009, the highest career-level position at the agency. During that time, Mayer personally reviewed and led more than 50 major investigations including the 2009 Metrorail train collision in Washington D.C. and the 2010 airplane crash near Aleknagik, Alaska, that killed Senator Ted Stevens along with four others. In addition to his strategic and technical expertise, Mayer also has extensive experience in employee relations, leading the NTSB’s labor relations activities. He was trained in experimental psychology as a human factors specialist and holds a doctorate from Rice University. He received a Bachelor degree with honors in Psychology from Centenary College. He also holds a private pilot’s license. (MTA - posted 10/27)

    MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT CELEBRATES 110 YEARS OF SUBWAYS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is celebrating the 110th anniversary of the New York City subway system with two days of opportunities for the public to take the train as generations of customers have done in the past. The first subway line, which connected City Hall with Harlem, opened on Oct. 27, 1904. That four-track line ran under Park Avenue South to Grand Central, across 42nd Street to Times Square, and up Broadway to 145th Street. “The subway system has come a long way since that fall day in 1904,” said New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “More than 100 years ago, you could only take the subway for that one stretch in Manhattan. Now we can get from the top of the Bronx to the beaches of Far Rockaway with just one swipe of a MetroCard. It’s remarkable how the system has evolved over the years, and we’re excited to show customers what the future will bring with the opening of Fulton Center and the 7 Line extension to the far west side on the horizon.” To give customers a trip to the past, NYCT will run two vintage trains express along the Broadway 123 Line between 96 St and Times Sq-42 St. One train will consist of four Low-Voltage subway cars that were in service until the late 1960s. Those cars feature rattan seats, ceiling fans and drop-sash windows. The other train, known as the “Train of Many Colors,” is made up of R33 and R36-type subway cars that were in service between the 1960s and 2001. An example of such cars, which were known as SMEE for their braking system, is the so-called “redbird” cars that many New Yorkers are familiar with. This particular “Train of Many Colors” has SMEE cars of various versions and appearances, including four painted the MTA silver mist and blue; one green coupled with a redbird; a pair of fire-engine red cars, and the last two redbirds removed from service. On Sunday, between noon and 5 p.m.:
    • The Low-Voltage train leaves Times Sq-42 St at noon; 1 p.m.; 2 p.m.; 3 p.m.; 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. It leaves 96 St at 12:30 p.m.; 1:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m.; 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
    • The “Train of Many Colors” leaves 96 St at noon; 1 p.m.; 2 p.m.; 3 p.m.; 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. It departs Times Square-42 St at 12:30 p.m.; 1:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m.; 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
    On Monday, October 27, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.:
    • The Low-Voltage train leaves Times Sq-42 St on the hour. It departs 96 St at half past the hour.
    Customers do not have to pay extra fare to take a ride on one of these Nostalgia Trains. For more information on the trains or to see more of them on display, visit the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights. (MTA - posted 10/24)

    CANADIAN PACIFIC HOLIDAY TRAIN 2014: The Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train program is returning to the rails for a 16th year to raise money, food, and awareness for food banks and hunger issues across Canada and the United States. Since its launch in 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised close to C$9.5 million and 3.3 million pounds of food for North American food banks. "The Holiday Train is all about the community coming together over the holiday season and helping each other out with donations to local charities," says E. Hunter Harrison, CEO CP. "CP continues to be grateful that our train of lights and top musical talent are welcomed with open arms and that this has become a holiday tradition in our communities." Leaving the Montreal, Quebec, area on November 26 and 27 respectively, our U.S. and Canadian trains will make the three week journey reaching over 150 communities. The U.S. Holiday Train will travel across the U.S. Northeast and Midwest before its final show December 17 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, while the Canadian train will travel west and wrap up its journey December 18 in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. A number of musicians will be joining the Holiday Train journey this year, including the pop rock band Odds and Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo fame) on the Canadian tour and, up-and-comer country star Kira Isabella along with a cappella sensations Home Free in the U.S. Communities are encouraged to check the schedule online to see which performers will make a stop in their town. The full CP Holiday Train schedule is now available on www.cpr.ca. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/24)

    DERAILMENT AT SELKIRK YARD DELAYS FREIGHT TRAFFIC: On October 23, CSX experienced a derailment inside the limits of its Selkirk Yard near Albany. The derailment has been safely cleared; however, traffic scheduled to move through the Selkirk area may experience delays for up to 48 hours. (CSX - posted 10/24)

    ONE OF THE NATION'S LARGEST RAIL CHOKEPOINTS ELIMINATED: Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo today joined Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Senator Dick Durbin and other federal, state and local officials for the dedication of the Englewood Flyover project. The $133 million Flyover, which received $126 million from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program, will eliminate one of the nation’s largest rail chokepoints. As a result, close to 80 Metra trains per weekday will now travel above the Norfolk Southern mainline avoiding roughly 60 freight and Amtrak trains that use the mainline. The flyover will provide some relief for rail congestion in Chicago, but much work remains to be done to eliminate the issue completely. In addition to the intercity passenger benefits, the Englewood Flyover will also reduce freight and commuter delays which will in turn keep more people and freight off Chicagoland’s congested highways. This congestion impacts all modes of transportation, forcing more trucks on to highways, limiting access to airports and reducing the capacity of railroads – limiting the regions effectiveness as a transportation hub. “The Englewood Flyover will improve safety, efficiency and reliability of the rail traffic passing through Chicago,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “When Congress provides predictable, dedicated funding for rail investments through the GROW AMERICA Act, we will be able to better address the long-term rail congestion issues that plague Chicago and the nation’s rail network.” About one-third of all rail traffic in the United States travels through the Chicago region and the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, a partnership between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, freight railroads, Metra and Amtrak, seeks to remove and reduce train congestion throughout Chicagoland. The Englewood Flyover project is one of 70 projects that make up the CREATE program. About a third of the projects within the program are completed and today funding only exists for half of the overall program. “Improving the fluidity of rail congestion in Chicago is critical to ensuring economic growth and developing a passenger rail network that will efficiently connect the 40 largest markets in the Midwest,” said Szabo. “The GROW AMERICA Act will provide the necessary resources to enhance rail service across the country.” The Englewood Flyover is a grade separation project south of Chicago’s Union Station that ease congestion one of the most delay-prone intersections in the entire Amtrak system. It separates Rock Island District Metra commuter trains from Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains traveling on the Norfolk Southern (NS) corridor and will relieve Metra riders of more than 7,500 annual passenger hours of delay. The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) mission is to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient rail transportation of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future. The GROW AMERICA Act supports this mission with predictable, dedicated investments that enhance safety and modernize our rail infrastructure to meet growing market demand. The Act will invest $19 billion over four years to improve rail safety and invest in a higher performing rail system. States and local communities need the certainty of predictable, dedicated funding to make transportation investments to improve our infrastructure and support our economic growth. The Act also builds on current investments to vastly improve the system in areas ranging from Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation to enhancing flexibility in financing programs that will better enable the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. (FRA - posted 10/23)

    IT'S OFFICIAL: 'SEPTA KEY' IS FUTURE OF FARE PAYMENT: The speculation can end: SEPTA has unlocked the mystery surrounding a name for what has been generically referred to as the New Payment Technology initiative. The Authority today unveiled "SEPTA Key" as the official moniker for its fare modernization program. The announcement coincides with the launch of an updated section of the Authority's website regarding SEPTA Key at http://www.septa.org/key. SEPTA will begin transitioning to the new fare system in 2015. SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey said SEPTA Key was selected as the program name because of the transformative nature of the initiative. "SEPTA Key will play a fundamental role in moving the region forward," Casey said. "It will be the key to your commute, play and everywhere in between." SEPTA Key ushers in the overhaul of the Authority's outdated fare payment and collection system. Current fare instruments such as tokens, paper tickets and magnetic stripe passes will be replaced by contactless payment devices. SEPTA is currently testing the new technology and related equipment, including card readers, new fare gates and fare kiosks. Riders will notice additional equipment installations at transit stations to prepare for the start of pilot testing, which will begin in December and continue for several months. The timing of the SEPTA Key public launch will be dependent on successful results from these field tests. "This project will reach every SEPTA rider," Casey said. "It is important that we do everything possible to ensure its readiness before the launch." When the program is implemented, riders will be able to use a SEPTA Key branded card that can be purchased at station kiosks, SEPTA Sales Offices, from local retailers and online. Tokens - for many, the symbol of SEPTA's decades old fare system - will continue to be used during the initial SEPTA Key roll-out. SEPTA will give advanced public notice before tokens are phased out. SEPTA will conduct a wide-ranging public outreach effort before and throughout SEPTA Key implementation. The SEPTA Key website will also give customers tutorials on how to use the system, along with news, updates and other details on the program. (SEPTA - posted 10/23)

    AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Oct. 18, 2014 with 297,130 total carloads, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 272,554 units, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 569,684 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,015 carloads, up 17.4 percent, and nonmetallic minerals with 39,308 carloads, up 12.5 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 were led by chemicals with 28,843 carloads, down 4.6 percent. For the first 42 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,218,003 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 10,900,493 units, up 5.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 42 weeks of 2014 was 23,118,496 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year. Canadian railroads reported 85,771 carloads for the week, up 4.6 percent, and 55,587 intermodal units, down 4 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 42 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,365,718 carloads, up 1.5 percent from the same point last year, and 2,406,134 intermodal units, up 6.5 percent from last year. Mexican railroads reported 16,939 carloads for the week, up 14.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,174 intermodal units, up 0.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 42 weeks of 2014 was 663,760 carloads, up 3.3 percent from the same point last year, and 447,587 intermodal units, up 4.9 percent from last year. Combined North American rail volume for the first 42 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 16,247,481 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 13,754,214 intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent compared with last year. . (AAR - posted 10/23)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern reported third-quarter net income of $559 million, 16 percent higher than $482 million for the same period of 2013. Diluted earnings per share were $1.79, up 17 percent compared with $1.53 per diluted share in the same period last year. "Norfolk Southern reported another record-setting quarter during which we achieved our best third-quarter results in revenues, operating income, net income, earnings per share, and operating ratio," said CEO Wick Moorman. "Higher traffic volumes along with continued gains in productivity drove these excellent results. We remain focused on ensuring we can support continued demand for freight rail transportation by hiring additional employees, investing in new equipment, and completing capacity projects in order to provide our customers with the freight rail service they expect today and in the future." Third-Quarter Results Set Quarterly Records
    • Railway operating revenues increased 7 percent to $3.0 billion.
    • Income from railway operations improved 18 percent to $998 million.
    • Net income increased 16 percent to $559 million.
    • Diluted earnings per share rose 17 percent to $1.79.
    • The railway operating ratio improved 4 percent to 67.0 percent.
    Third-quarter railway operating revenues climbed 7 percent compared with the same period of 2013 to top $3.0 billion for a second consecutive quarter as growth in the merchandise and intermodal markets offset a weaker coal market. Third-Quarter Revenue by Commodity Group
    • Intermodal: $667 million, up 10 percent
    • Coal: $626 million, down 2 percent
    • Chemicals: $488 million, up 14 percent
    • Metals/Construction: $414 million, up 11 percent
    • Agriculture: $364 million, up 5 percent
    • Automotive: $254 million, up 12 percent
    • Paper/Forest: $210 million, up 3 percent
    General merchandise revenues reached $1.7 billion, a 10 percent increase compared with the third quarter of 2013, driven by volume gains in all markets, with particular strength in chemicals, automotive, metals and construction, and agriculture. Intermodal revenues increased to $667 million, 10 percent higher compared with third-quarter 2013. Volume rose 10 percent, fueled by robust growth in both international and domestic markets. Coal revenues declined 2 percent to $626 million in the third quarter compared with the same period of 2013. A weak global export market and mild weather and lower natural gas prices in the utility market combined to decrease volume by 2 percent. Railway operating expenses were $2.0 billion, 3 percent higher compared with third-quarter 2013, largely due to costs associated with higher business volumes. Income from railway operations was $998 million, 18 percent higher compared with third-quarter 2013. The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, was 67.0 percent, a 4 percent improvement compared with 69.9 percent during the same period of 2013. (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/22)

    CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS: CN today reported its financial and operating results for the third quarter and nine-month period ended Sept. 30, 2014. Third-quarter and nine-month 2014 financial highlights
    • Net income was C$853 million, or C$1.04 per diluted share, compared with net income of C$705 million, or C$0.84 per diluted share, for the year-earlier quarter. The Q3-2013 results included a C$19-million (C$0.02 per diluted share) income tax expense resulting from the enactment of higher provincial corporate income tax rates.
    • Excluding the above Q3-2013 income tax expense, Q3-2014 diluted EPS of C$1.04 increased 21 per cent over last year's adjusted diluted EPS of C$0.86. (1
    • ) Operating income for the third quarter of 2014 increased 19 per cent to C$1,286 million.
    • Third-quarter 2014 revenues and carloadings set all-time quarterly records, with revenues rising 16 per cent to C$3,118 million and carloadings increasing 11 per cent to 1,475 thousand. Revenue ton-miles grew by 13 per cent.
    • CN's operating ratio for Q3-2014 improved by one point to 58.8 per cent from 59.8 per cent for the year-earlier quarter.
    •   Free cash flow for the first nine months of 2014 was C$2,045 million, up from C$1,307 million for the comparable period of 2013.
    Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: "CN delivered outstanding third-quarter financial results while improving customer service levels and maintaining industry-leading operating efficiencies. Solid execution by our team of railroaders enabled us to accommodate the significantly higher freight volume generated by a record Canadian grain crop, strong energy markets, and new business, particularly in intermodal and automotive. "The results underscore CN's commitment to investing ahead of the curve in resources and rail infrastructure and playing our role as a true backbone of the economy." Foreign currency impact on results Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. As such, the Company's results are affected by exchange-rate fluctuations. On a constant currency basis that excludes the impact of fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, CN's third-quarter 2014 net income would have been lower by C$22 million, or C$0.03 per diluted share. (1) Third-quarter 2014 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses Revenues for the third quarter of 2014 increased by 16 per cent to an all-time quarterly high of C$3,118 million. Revenues increased for grain and fertilizers (29 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (21 per cent), metals and minerals (17 per cent), automotive (17 per cent), intermodal (14 per cent), and forest products (eight per cent). Coal revenues declined by three per cent.   The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to higher freight volumes due to a record Canadian grain crop, strong energy markets, particularly crude oil and frac sand, new intermodal business including temporary diversions from U.S. west coast ports, as well as new automotive business; the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; and freight rate increases. Carloadings for the third quarter rose 11 per cent to 1,475 thousand, an all-time record quarterly performance. Revenue ton-miles, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by 13 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 two 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 an increase in the average length of haul. Operating expenses for the quarter increased by 14 per cent to C$1,832 million. The increase was mainly attributable to increased purchased services and material expense, increased labor and fringe benefits expense, the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses and higher fuel costs. (CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/22)

    NEW LOCOMOTIVES HERALD NEW ERA FOR KEYSTONE SERVICE: Passengers on Monday’s Train 605 from Philadelphia to Harrisburg were aboard the first Keystone Service train in revenue operation to be powered by the modern and reliable Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) electric locomotive. Use of the high-tech locomotives is the latest step forward in the long-standing partnership between Amtrak and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which share the revenue as well as operating and equipment maintenance costs of the Keystone Service. Amtrak is acquiring 70 of the state-of-the-art locomotives that will operate on the electrified Northeast and Keystone Corridors. More than a dozen ACS-64 units are now in service with the remainder to be delivered through the end of 2015. The new locomotives replace older equipment that have seen between 25 and 35 years of service, and accumulated an average of more than 3.5 million miles each. “The Keystone Service provides transportation that is competitive with driving, and these locomotives will further improve customer service,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch. “Our new transportation plan will allow us to keep improving the service and the stations so the experience on and off the train is a great one.” “We commend and thank Amtrak for acquiring and using this new equipment for the Keystone Service. The passage of our new transportation plan, Act 89, stabilized our ability to fund passenger rail service and allows us to continue and accelerate our investment in intercity rail,” he added. Ridership on the Keystone Service has grown to more than one million riders annually, up 60 percent since more than $145 million worth of infrastructure improvements were made under the Keystone Corridor Improvement Program in 2006. The upgrades have enabled faster speeds and more frequent departures between Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia and New York. “The Keystone Service is an important link connecting Central and Eastern Pennsylvania with the rest of the Northeast Corridor,” explained Jay Commer, Amtrak General Manager of State-Supported Services. “We value our partnership and the new locomotives will help drive continued ridership, revenue and regional economic growth along the Keystone Corridor.” The new locomotives are designed for improved reliability and easier maintenance which leads to increased availability for service. A state-of-the-art microprocessor system performs self-diagnosis of technical issues, takes self-corrective action and notifies the locomotive engineer. In addition, there are redundant systems to ensure power is maintained to the passenger cars to keep heating and cooling systems working, the lights on and the doors operational. The locomotives also meet the latest federal rail safety regulations, including crash energy management components. Among the benefits of the ACS-64 is the ability to feed energy back into the power system for use by other trains through a process known as regenerative braking. When the entire ACS-64 fleet is deployed, this feature is estimated to save 3 billion kilowatt hours of energy. The locomotives are being built by Siemens and assembled at its facility in Sacramento, Calif., with parts from more than 60 suppliers representing more than 50 cities and 20 states. (Amtrak - posted 10/21)



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