` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine







Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
Febraury 5, 2016:


MARC AWARDS CONTRACT TO BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION TO OVERHAUL BI-LEVEL RAILCARS: In an effort to improve safety, increase reliability and provide passengers with a more comfortable ride, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Transit Administration has awarded a $36.8 million contract to Bombardier Transportation to overhaul 63 MARC III bi-level commuter rail cars.   “MTA's MARC train plays a vital role in connecting people from all parts of Maryland to jobs in our nation's capital every weekday, and our popular weekend Penn Line service between Baltimore and Washington continues to grow," said MTA Administrator and CEO Paul Comfort. "MTA is committed to providing safe, efficient and reliable transit with world-class customer service. Overhauling our MARC III cars is a cost-effective way to improve the safety and reliability of our fleet so we can deliver on those goals to the thousands of commuters, businesses and tourists that depend on MARC Train service every day."    MARC operates along three commuter rail lines in Maryland: Penn, Camden and Brunswick. The Penn Line operates along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor from Perryville to Union Station in Washington, D.C.; the Camden Line from Baltimore’s Camden Station to Union Station; and the Brunswick Line from Martinsburg, W.Va., to Union Station. Both the Camden and Brunswick lines operate along CSX freight lines. Average weekday ridership on all three MARC lines is roughly 37,500 riders. MARC also operates weekend trains on the Penn Line between Martin State Airport and Union Station transporting about 5,500 riders. The MARC III bi-level commuter rail cars have been in service nearly 17 years.   “Our relationship with the MTA illustrates how a full-service provider can support the wide ranging needs of a vibrant transit system,” said Raymond Bachant, president, Americas Division, Bombardier Transportation. “We can deliver new rolling stock, provide fleet maintenance and operations, and refurbish existing equipment to help transit systems get the most value out of their capital investments while providing high levels of safety and comfort for their passengers.”   (MTA- posted 2/05)

FIFTEENTH NEW TTC STREETCAR ENTERS SERVICE: The Toronto Transit Commisssion’s newest low-floor streetcar, car number 4416, entered service on the 510 Spadina route in time for this afternoon’s rush hour. There are now a total of 15 new streetcars in service on the 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront routes. All of the new accessible streetcars are equipped with PRESTO machines and ticket validators to allow customers to pay their fare. The machines will also allow customers without a smart card to purchase a single-ride Proof-of-Payment (POP) ticket using coins or tokens. The new streetcars are fully accessible for customers using mobility devices, and are more comfortable to ride, featuring a higher passenger capacity and air conditioning. All TTC streetcar routes are POP, allowing customers with a transfer or valid TTC pass to board at any door. The TTC’s low-floor streetcar project is jointly funded by the Government of Canada Federal Gas Tax Fund, the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto. (TTC- posted 2/05)

FRA GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO REBUILD BWI RAIL STATION, INCREASE SERVICE AND RELIABILITY: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the new Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) rail station.  The project includes adding a fourth track to nine miles of the Northeast Corridor surrounding BWI and reconfiguring the platforms to allow boarding from all four tracks. “The current rail station and infrastructure at BWI was built more than 30 years ago and does not support today’s needs or the region’s expected growth,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “The completion of the environmental review for this project brings BWI one step closer to a safer rail station, reduced rail congestion, and increased reliability.” Beyond Traffic, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s draft framework for the future, projects a population growth of 70 million more Americans over the next 30 years.  The Northeast megaregion, which includes the area of Baltimore, among others, is projected to add an additional 18.4 million people during this time, a 35.2 percent growth from 2010. FRA completed the environmental assessment and preliminary engineering, which will allow final design and then construction to begin.  Funding for final design and construction has not yet been identified.  Both Amtrak and Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) trains provide passenger rail service at the station, which has seen increased ridership by daily commuters and airline passengers.  The station is Amtrak’s thirteenth busiest station in the country. Currently, there are only three tracks between the Grove Interlocking to the south near Odenton, Md. and the Winans Interlocking to the north near Halethorpe, Md.  The addition of a fourth track would increase rail capacity and reliability. “A new BWI rail station will allow both airline and rail passengers to get to their destinations safely, reliably and efficiently,” said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “Today’s announcement is a significant step toward achieving that goal.” In Fiscal Year 2010, FRA awarded a $9.4 million High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grant funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to the Maryland Department of Transportation to fund the environmental analysis and conduct preliminary engineering work. (FRA- posted 2/04)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN FACILITATED $4.2 BILLION IN INDUSTRIAL INVESTMENT ALONG RAIL LINES IN 2015: Norfolk Southern assisted 93 industries in locating or expanding their businesses along its rail lines in 2015. The 61 new and 32 expanded industries represent an investment of $4.2 billion by NS customers and are expected to create 6,200 new jobs in the railroad's territory, generating more than 85,000 carloads of new rail traffic annually. “While the energy sector has been severely impacted by the drop in commodity prices, this sector -- including alternative energy production -- still accounted for nearly 20 percent of the projects that started operations this year,” said Jason Reiner, assistant vice president industrial development. “However, the largest impact to our communities was the strong showing in manufacturing, accounting for $3.7 billion in new investment and 5,600 new jobs. Renewed growth in the automotive industry was the largest contributor to this success. We expect to see continued growth in manufacturing in 2016 as projects currently in development begin full operation.” Norfolk Southern works with state and local economic development authorities on projects involving site location and development of infrastructure to connect customers to its rail system and provides free and confidential plant location services, including industrial park planning, site layout, track design, and supply chain analysis. During the past 10 years, NS’ Industrial Development Department has participated in the location or expansion of 989 facilities representing an investment of nearly $60 billion and creating more than 42,000 new customer jobs in the territory served by the railroad. (Norfolk Southern, Randy Kotuby - posted 2/04)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR JANUARY AND WEEK ENDING JANUARY 30, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. traffic, as well as volumes for January 2016. Carload traffic in January totaled 968,042 carloads, down 16.6 percent or 192,747 from January 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,039,621 containers and trailers in January 2016, up 3.4 percent or 34,523 units from the same month last year. For January 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,007,663 down 7.3 percent or 158,224 carloads and intermodal units from January 2015. In January 2016, four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2015. This included: miscellaneous carloads, up 45.2 percent or 7,409 carloads; chemicals, up 2.1 percent or 2,615 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 3.9 percent or 2,435 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in January 2016 from January 2015 included: coal, down 33.3 percent or 150,658 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 19.4 percent or 12,037 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel, and sand, down 10.3 percent or 8,475 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were down 5.9 percent or 42,089 carloads from January 2015. “Intermodal was solid in January, but carload volumes weren’t what railroads were hoping for,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “By all accounts, rail service right now is excellent, but volume just isn’t there. At some point, the problems currently plaguing the energy and manufacturing sectors — low oil prices, a strong dollar, uncertainties in emerging ?markets — will sort themselves out. When that happens, railroads will be positioned to provide safe, reliable service.” Week Ending January 30, 2016 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 30, 2016 was 512,746 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.5 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week, there were 248,961 carloads, down 16.6 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,785 containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared to 2015. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 45.9 percent to 10,019 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 5.8 percent to 18,556 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.8 percent to 31,981 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 33.8 percent to 77,416 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 24.9 percent to 11,626 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 19.1 percent to 19,826 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 30, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 335,717 carloads, down 15 percent compared with the same week last year, and 336,908 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 672,625 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 4 weeks of 2016 was 2,630,780 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.8 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 69,901 carloads for the week, down 12.4 percent, and 61,982 intermodal units, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 4 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 513,716 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,855 carloads for the week, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,141 intermodal units, down 3.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 4 weeks of 2016 was 109,401 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.3 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 2/04)

POSSIBLE NJ TRANSIT STRIKE NEXT MONTH: NJ.com has reported that NJ Transit's 17 railroad union are expected to strike NJ Transit during the weekend of March 12. If this occurs, the strike could last through the Monday morning rush hour on March 14. At that point, the Obama Administration would likely order the strikers back to work. NJ Transit's railroad unions have been without new contracts for the past several years. NJ Transit and the unions are currently in a 60 day cooling off periond, after a second Presidential Emergency Board issued a report on January 11. The board had sided with the unions concerning new contracts. (NJ.com - posted 2/03)

AMTRAK EXPANDS PETS PROGRAM ACROSS THE COUNTRY : Amtrak announced today it has extended and expanded its pets program, allowing customers to continue traveling with their small pets on many eastern corridor trains. Amtrak has also added this service for trips up to 7 hours in length to most long distance trains beginning Tuesday, Feb. 16, and is starting a weekend-only pilot program on Acela Express starting, Saturday, Feb. 20. As a result of the overwhelming success of its pilot test, Amtrak has made its program permanent on eastern and select mid-western corridor trains and expanded the program to its long distance trains throughout the nation (with the exception of the Auto Train). More than 2,700 pets have traveled with their human companions along the Northeast Corridor since the pilot launched in October 2015. Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. were the top departure cities. “We are excited to bring this service to more of our passengers throughout the country who want to travel with these cherished family members,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “We listened to our passengers and delivered on this program, which will also help increase ridership and revenue.” “Expanding the Pets on Trains nationwide is a win for Amtrak and for millions of American pet owners who can now depend on their rail service for their travel needs,” said Rep. Jeff Denham of California. “I look forward to seeing the program's success across the country.” The Acela Express pilot program, which is initially scheduled through June 12, 2016, will be regularly reviewed for possible improvements or continuation beyond that date. Amtrak continues to welcome service animals on board at no charge. For more information about Amtrak’s Pet policy. , visit Amtrak.com. (Amtrak - posted 2/03)

NTSB OPENS THE ACCIDENT DOCKET ON THE PHILADELPHIA AMTRAK DERAILMENT: The National Transportation Safety Board opened Monday the accident docket and publicly released more than 2,000 pages of information as part of the NTSB’s ongoing investigation of the May 12, 2015, Amtrak passenger train derailment in Philadelphia. Amtrak passenger train #188 derailed, after entering a curve at 106 mph where the speed is restricted to 50 mph. Of the 250 passengers and eight Amtrak employees who were on board, eight passengers were killed and more than 200 others were transported to area hospitals. Included in the docket are documents containing interview transcripts, letters, factual reports, photographs and other investigative material. The public docket contains only factual information collected by NTSB investigators, and does not provide analysis, findings, recommendations or probable cause determinations. No conclusions about how or why an accident occurred should be drawn from the docket. The docket opening marks a transition in the investigative process where the majority of facts needed for the investigation have been gathered and the NTSB can move ahead with analysis of those facts. Opening the docket affords those with a need and desire for its contents the opportunity review what factual information has been gathered about the accident. Any analysis, findings, recommendations, or probable cause determinations related to the accident will be issued by the Board at a later date. The docket material is available at: "http://go.usa.gov/cEecP". . Additional material may be added to the docket as it becomes available. (NTSB- posted 2/02)

LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD AND METRO-NORTH RAILROAD REPORT BIG RIDERSHIP INCREASES: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that ridership increased significantly on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad in 2015, giving a significant boost to the economic health of the regions they serve. Metro-North reported all-time record ridership of 86.1 million customers, an increase of 1.6% over 2014, while the Long Island Rail Road remained the busiest regional railroad in the nation, carrying 87.6 million customers, a 2.1% increase over the prior year and the railroad’s highest total since 1949. The LIRR’s total breaks the modern record set in 2008, when the railroad carried 87.4 million customers. Metro-North’s total ridership growth means that it has more than doubled the ridership the railroad carried when it was founded, in 1983. “When ridership set records back in 2008, many said it was because of high gasoline prices, and that certainly is one factor,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “But gas prices have sunk to low levels and the trend is continuing. We are seeing the confluence a strengthening regional economy, healthier downtowns around the region, a new generation of millennials who values public transportation, and greater productivity on board our trains through the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and laptops. Customers are also responding to improvements we have made, including more frequent trains, improving on-time performance, a fleet of modern new electric cars, expanding availability of real-time information, and more channels for customer communication.” LIRR and Metro-North ridership is positioned for even further growth in the years ahead because of investments included in the MTA’s 2015-19 Capital Program, funded through a record contribution from the State of New York made by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The program will fund the construction of four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx and the expansion of Metro-North’s New Haven Line to Penn Station, a major expansion of the LIRR’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville, enabling significant reverse commuting to Long Island for the first time, and the construction of new LIRR stations in Queens, in Elmhurst and Sunnyside. The LIRR’s growth was fueled in equal parts by commuters, who increased 2.1% to 50.4 million customers, an increase of 1.04 million riders, and non-commuters, who increased 2.0% to 37.3 million customers in 2015, an increase of 734,000 riders. “We’re pleased by the growth, but we’re more pleased be able to provide the best service we can provide and to be a valuable, useful service to more people,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “Looking toward the future, we’re pleased that we’re poised to increase our value to the region further, and grow ridership accordingly, through increased reverse-peak service that would result years down the road from the Main Line Expansion program that Governor Cuomo announced this month.” Continuing previous trends, Metro-North’s non-commutation ridership increased faster than its commuters. In 2015, Metro-North non-commutation increased 2.3%, while commutation increased 1.0%. Metro-North broke ridership records on all three of its main lines east of the Hudson River; the prior records had been set in 2008 on the Harlem Line and last year on the New Haven Line and Hudson Line. “We spent 2015 working hard to improve Metro-North’s safety record, to restore confidence in Metro-North’s safety culture, and to rebuild our tracks,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We’re delighted to see the increase in ridership because we think it indicates that our attention to safety and improved reliability are encouraging more customers to ride the train.” Ridership west of the Hudson River increased at a faster rate than east of it. On the Port Jervis Line and New York State portion of the Pascack Valley Line, Metro-North expects 2015 ridership will have increased 4.9% over last year, to a combined total of 1.8 million customers. The volume of customers carried on the two lines is just 300,000 shy of the all-time record set in 2008. The Port Jervis Line and Pascack Valley Line are operated by NJ TRANSIT under contract to Metro-North. Ridership on the three connecting services operated under contract to Metro-North also increased, by 3.8%, to 556,000. Ridership on the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry rose 7.1%, while ridership on the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry declined by 3.8%. Ridership on the Hudson Rail Link, a bus service in the Bronx that connects to the Spuyten Duyvil and Riverdale Stations, rose 4.2%. The ferries are operated by New York Waterway. The Hudson Rail Link bus is operated by Atlantic Hudson, Inc. New Haven Line service is operated in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Transportation. (MTA - posted 2/02)

FITCHBURG COMMUTER RAIL LINE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT UPDATE: MASSDOT and the MBTA joined with the Baker Administration, Federal, State, and Local Public officials and our neighbors in South Acton on Saturday, January 30, to celebrate the recent opening of the New South Acton Commuter Rail Station. The event included remarks from elected officials and community leaders about the station's impact on the area's transportation and development infrastructure, and was followed by a reception hosted by Senator Jamie Eldridge at the South Acton Congregational Church, located at 35 School St., Acton, for the general public and project stakeholders. "The MBTA's opening of the new South Acton Commuter Rail Station, a project years in the making, is an important improvement in service for commuters and an important step in economic development for the region," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-3), who commended all the stakeholders who helped make the project possible. "As many residents have expressed, this station is an integral part of the transportation artery that links people from this region to jobs, commerce and recreation along the northern-Massachusetts corridor and in the city of Boston. The new station is also a result of partnership between local, state and federal government, funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, legislation I supported that made greatly needed investments in our national infrastructure." "I am very excited to be celebrating the grand opening of the South Acton Commuter Rail Station," said Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg). "Now that the station is open, it can begin to have a positive impact on the area's economy." The new South Acton Station includes new full-train length, accessible high-level platforms, new enclosed overhead walkways over the tracks, elevators, a second passenger drop-off area on Maple Street, new canopies, passenger shelters, benches, windscreens, signage, train approach warning system, variable message signs, and platform lighting. The station will be equipped with closed circuit television (CCTV) video surveillance cameras, and police emergency call boxes. "I have been a big advocate for the redesign of the South Action train station, which will ultimately make the site more accessible for individuals with disabilities and comfortable for all users," said Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). "This is a terrific example of how the Department of Transportation listened to and worked with the community," said Rep. Cory Atkins (D-Concord). South Acton is the most heavily patronized station on the Fitchburg Line. The design and construction of the new station has been closely coordinated with the Town of Acton through the town's South Acton Train Station Advisory Committee (SATSAC). (MBTA - posted 2/02)

AAR RELEASES FIRST-EVER 'STATE OF THE INDUSTRY REPORT' TO EDUCATE PUBLIC ON KEY RAIL TRENDS AND ISSUES : The Association of American Railroads (AAR) released today its first "State of the Industry Report" focusing on the key challenges, accomplishments and innovations within the freight railroad industry. This initial, five-chapter edition details the industry's investments in new technology and innovation that are enhancing safety across the nation's rail network. The reports are designed to inform lawmakers, the business community and the public about the freight railroad industry's top priorities. This edition features the input of experts such as John Tunna, Director of the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Office of Research & Development, and Tony Sultana, a Principal Investigator at the Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI). "Our industry maintains its leadership position through innovations designed to improve the performance of our employees, our equipment and even the rail itself," said AAR President and CEO, Edward R. Hamberger. "This new report outlines how the railroad industry provides innovative, on-the-ground technologies and community programs that safeguard our customers' cargo, the communities we serve and our employees." Today's report focuses on items such as safety investment, the role of "big data" in diagnosing and solving problems, the continued commitment by the rail industry to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) technology as quickly and effectively as possible, emerging technologies such as drones and community-based training and outreach. Through input from experts like Tunna and Sultana, as well as the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC), RailInc. and AskRail, AAR shows how the industry is continuing to address safety in an industry where the train accident rate has fallen 45 percent since 2000 and 80 percent since 1980. "The exciting thing right now is that technology is moving into the transportation field at a rapid rate," Tunna said in the report. The report showcases new safety advancements that the industry is taking. For instance, technologists are developing a sophisticated ultrasonic detection system that allows a better view into steel rail to locate track defects before they can cause problems. The industry is also investigating the use of unmanned aerial vehicles – or drones – for inspection of track, bridge and other freight rail infrastructure, as well as monitoring air quality. Hamberger says the ultimate takeaway from AAR's first State of the Industry Report is clear: an increased emphasis on rail network investments – $25 billion annually over the last five years on average – collaboration with customers and government and the development of new technologies combine to improve safety. "The sweeping reduction in freight rail accidents and injuries over the last several decades is the result of stepped-up employee training as well as a dedicated team of safety experts who conduct rigorous research, examine problems in new ways, apply technological advances and novel changes to processes that ultimately make a safe system of transportation even safer," said Hamberger. "We are proud of the industry's efforts, including those highlighted in this report, and look forward to promoting more developments in the future." The AAR will issue multiple such reports each year, including two more in 2016, with each individual report focusing on a particular theme. AAR invites interested parties to learn more about the State of the Industry Report and see how the industry's continued investments provide freight rail customers the transport service they richly deserve by visiting "State of the Industry Report" . (AAR - posted 2/01)

SEPTA CELEBRATES NEW WEST TERMINAL AT 69TH STREET TRANSPORTATION CENTER: SEPTA officially opened the new West Terminal at 69th Street Transportation Center at a ribbon cutting ceremony today. SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel was joined by elected officials and community leaders for the event. "For more than 100 years, 69th Street Transportation Center has been an important transit hub for thousands of people traveling to and from Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Chester counties," Knueppel said. "The construction of the Market-Frankford Line in 1907 was instrumental in the economic growth of Upper Darby and the surrounding community. Now, 109 years later, we believe the new state-of-the-art West Terminal and other projects in the works will serve as similar catalysts for this region, attracting new commercial ventures and visitors to Upper Darby." 69th Street Transportation Center is a multi-modal facility, serving passengers on SEPTA's Market-Frankford Line, Norristown High Speed Line, Trolley Routes 101 and 102 and 18 bus routes. Renovations at West Terminal include:
  • Reconstructing pedestrian ramps to terminal platforms, the North and Center Platforms and canopies and Center Platform waiting area
  • Partially reconstructing the South Platform
  • Replacing track and road surface
  • Enhancing safety and security efforts by installing cameras
  • Furthering SEPTA's commitment to sustainability by incorporating design features, including a green wall and green roofs to reduce storm water drainage; energy efficient LED lighting; and architectural elements in the passenger waiting area that will allow for increased natural light and reduced energy use.
The $19.6 million 69th Street Transportation Center West Terminal Improvements Project was part of SEPTA's Rebuilding for the Future capital program. The work was funded through the Federal Transit Administration Bus and Bus Facility Livability Grant Program and Pennsylvania Act 89. "SEPTA has made a great investment in Upper Darby with the West Terminal project," said Upper Darby Township Mayor Thomas Micozzie. "The new, modern, safe and easily accessible facility is great for our residents who rely on SEPTA and can draw even more passengers to the Upper Darby area." (SEPTA- posted 1/29)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 23, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 23, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 490,324 carloads and intermodal units, down 10.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Jan. 23 were 237,190 carloads, down 19.5 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 253,134 containers and trailers, down 0.1 percent compared to 2015. One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. It was miscellaneous carloads, up 15.3 percent to 9,018 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 35.8 percent to 74,128 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 19 percent to 12,409 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 16.2 percent to 19,418 carloads. For the first 3 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 719,081 carloads, down 16.6 percent from the same point last year; and 775,836 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 3 weeks of 2016 was 1,494,917 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 23, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 323,156 carloads, down 17.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 324,000 intermodal units, down 0.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 647,156 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 3 weeks of 2016 was 1,958,155 carloads and intermodal units, down 7 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 68,677 carloads for the week, down 14.1 percent, and 59,388 intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 3 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 381,833 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,289 carloads for the week, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,478 intermodal units, up 2.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 3 weeks of 2016 was 81,405 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 1/28)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL YEAR 2015 RESULTS: Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) today reported fourth-quarter and 2015 financial results. Fourth-quarter net income was $361 million, or $1.20 per diluted share, compared with $511 million, or $1.64 per diluted share, in fourth-quarter 2014. For 2015, net income was $1.6 billion, or $5.10 per diluted share, compared with $2.0 billion, or $6.39 per diluted share, in 2014. Results included expenses related to restructuring the company’s Triple Crown Services subsidiary and closing its Roanoke, Va., office, which together reduced fourth-quarter net income by $31 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, and lowered 2015 net income by $58 million, or $0.19 per diluted share. In a separate press release issued today, Norfolk Southern provided additional detail regarding its strategic plan to streamline operations and drive profitability and growth. The plan includes cost reductions across the organization and improved operational efficiencies. As a result of this plan, the Company expects to achieve annual productivity savings of more than $650 million by 2020, with approximately $130 million to be realized in 2016. Through the initiatives announced today, Norfolk Southern is confident in its ability to achieve an operating ratio below 65 percent by 2020. “We are implementing a plan to reduce costs and enhance profitable growth,” said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern’s chairman, president and CEO. “This plan will enable us to achieve significant annual expense savings beginning in 2016 without compromising the company’s ability to capitalize on volume and revenue growth opportunities. We are making progress despite a challenging operating environment, including successfully restoring our rail service to previous high levels, realigning resources, and completing strategic capacity investments to improve efficiency and productivity. “Through these actions, we are positioning Norfolk Southern for improved performance and value creation in 2016 and beyond. We are confident in our ability to deliver superior shareholder value through our strategic plan, which is built on exceptional customer service, growth through pricing and new business, cost reduction and control, and increasing returns on capital. Our fourth-quarter results reflect current challenges in domestic and global markets.” FOURTH-QUARTER SUMMARY
  • Railway operating revenues declined 12 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2014, to $2.5 billion. Traffic volume declined 6 percent, a result of lower coal volumes and the effects of low commodity prices. Average revenue per unit decreased 6 percent as the effects of higher rates were more than offset by a $226 million, or 73 percent, decline in fuel surcharge revenues.  
  •   General merchandise revenues were $1.5 billion, 9 percent lower than the same period last year. Volume declined 4 percent, as a 9 percent gain in automotive traffic was more than offset by decreases in the other four commodity groups.   Intermodal revenues declined to $563 million, 13 percent below fourth-quarter 2014. The Triple Crown restructuring and fewer domestic shipments combined to reduce traffic volume by 5 percent.
  • Coal revenues were $433 million, 20 percent lower compared with fourth quarter of 2014. A weak global export market, record high temperatures in the East, and low natural gas prices combined to decrease volume by 18 percent.
  •   Railway operating expenses decreased $103 million, or 5 percent, to $1.9 billion compared with same period of 2014, notwithstanding $49 million of expenses related to the Triple Crown restructuring and Roanoke office closure.
  • Income from railway operations was $642 million, 28 percent lower compared with fourth-quarter 2014.
  • The operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 74.5 percent, compared with 69 percent during the same quarter in 2014. Triple Crown restructuring and Roanoke office closure expenses added 2.0 percentage points to the operating ratio.
2015 SUMMARY
  •   Railway operating revenues were $10.5 billion, 10 percent lower compared with 2014, reflecting an $852 million, or 64 percent, reduction in fuel surcharge revenues. Traffic volume was down 3 percent, driven by a sharp decline in coal.
  •   General merchandise revenues declined 6 percent to $6.3 billion, while traffic volume was about even compared with the prior year.
  • Intermodal revenues totaled $2.4 billion, 6 percent lower compared with 2014. Traffic volume was up slightly for 2015.
  • Coal revenues were $1.8 billion, down 23 percent, due to a 16 percent decline in traffic volume compared with 2014.
  •   Railway operating expenses of $7.6 billion declined $422 million, or 5 percent, compared with 2014, despite $93 million of additional expenses related to the Triple Crown restructuring and Roanoke office closure.
  •   Income from railway operations was $2.9 billion, 19 percent lower compared with 2014.
  •   The operating ratio for the year was 72.6 percent compared with 69.2 percent the prior year. The Triple Crown restructuring and Roanoke office closure costs added 0.9 percentage points to the operating ratio.
For 2016, Norfolk Southern plans to invest $2.1 billion to maintain the safety of its rail network, enhance service, improve operational efficiency, and support growth opportunities. (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/27)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNOUNCES FURTHER DETAILS OF ITS STRATEGIC PLAN TO REDUCE COSTS, DRIVE PROFITABILITY, AND ACCELERATE GROWTH: Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) (“the Company”) (“Norfolk Southern”) today announced further details of its strategic plan designed to streamline operations and drive profitability and growth. The Company’s projected expense reduction and disciplined cost control initiatives are in the categories of compensation and benefits, purchased services and rents, materials, and fuel. The Company expects to achieve annual productivity savings of more than $650 million per year by 2020, growing from an initial $130 million in 2016. With this plan, Norfolk Southern expects to improve consistency, reliability, and availability, resulting in a faster, lower cost, and more profitable railroad. The Company has already begun implementing the plan and expects associated net benefits to begin appearing in Norfolk Southern’s financial results beginning in the first half of 2016. The strategic plan, which was announced on Dec. 4, 2015, is the result of a six-month, comprehensive evaluation of the Company’s business model, including customer service, network performance efficiency measures, and revenue growth. The evaluation was led by Norfolk Southern’s Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires with the assistance of the Board of Directors and management team. As a result of these measures, the Company expects to achieve an operating ratio below 70 in 2016 with additional improvements driving OR to less than 65 by 2020, with double digit annual EPS growth, increased ROE and higher return of capital. Squires said, “Our new leadership team has already taken significant steps to improve financial and operational performance. Specifically, we are focused on delivering high levels of superior service to build a more profitable franchise based on price and volume growth, implementing efficiency measures, and increasing returns, while simultaneously maintaining our commitment to returning substantial capital to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. “While Norfolk Southern’s fourth-quarter results do not yet reflect the initiatives under way, we believe we have the right strategic plan to streamline operations, accelerate growth, and enhance value for shareholders. The plan leverages our core competencies in customer service and reliability, while also improving network efficiency and consolidating operations. Importantly, through disciplined cost control, we believe we can achieve the productivity savings outlined in this plan, and even more.” The plan is a balance of revenue growth through pricing and volume, and resource optimization through a variety of expense reduction and cost control initiatives, including:         Compensation and Benefits. Service and efficiency improvements, consolidation, and network rationalization will enable Norfolk Southern to reduce headcount in 2016 and beyond, building on initiatives begun in 2015 to right-size the workforce. This improved productivity is expected to result in $420 million in annual expense savings by 2020. Norfolk Southern expects to:
  •    Reduce headcount by 2,000 employees by 2020.
  •    Decrease overtime by 50 percent from 2015 levels.
  •   Reduce employee levels in areas affected by lower coal traffic and by the rightsizing of the Company’s coal infrastructure. 
  •    Consolidate operating regions from three to two.
  •    Halt or reduce operations in several hump or secondary yards in 2016, reducing manpower needs and locomotive fleet requirements and consolidating traffic on fewer, larger trains.
  •    Dispose of or downgrade 1,500 miles of secondary lines by 2020, including 1,000 miles in 2016, as traffic is rerouted onto higher-density lines and some parts of the system are more economically operated in collaboration with short-line rail carriers. .
         Purchased Services and Rents. Projected efficiency improvements and network rationalization should enable Norfolk Southern to realize annual savings of $70 million by 2020 by reducing the size of the car fleet and associated costs and reducing payments to third parties. Norfolk Southern expects to:
  •    Reduce equipment rental and lease costs, along with maintenance expenses for that equipment.
  •   Reduce the use of third-party switching terminals by leveraging the recently completed expansion of Moorman Yard in Bellevue, Ohio.
  •   Reduce trackage and haulage payments. .
      Materials. Projected efficiency improvements should enable Norfolk Southern to reduce expenses by $80 million per year by 2020. Norfolk Southern expects to:
  •    Decrease locomotive maintenance expenses by reducing active fleet size by 300 units in 2016 and another 100 units by 2020 through improved velocity, line, yard, and local-switching-network rationalizations.
  • Reduce overhaul and maintenance expenses and improve locomotive reliability by replacing older, less-reliable units.
  •    Conserve capital while enhancing the efficiency and reliability of the locomotive fleet by continuing the company’s innovative 6-axle rebuild strategy, which includes DC to AC conversions..
     Fuel. Projected fuel efficiency initiatives should allow Norfolk Southern to reduce fuel consumption by $80 million per year by 2020 through. Norfolk Southern expects to:
  • Maximize fuel efficiency through implementation of energy management technology. 
  •   Reduce fuel consumption as a result of fewer units in the fleet, removal of the oldest, least efficient units, and higher system velocity..
(NS - posted 1/27)

MTA APPROVES FINAL MAJOR CONTRACT FOR EAST SIDE ACCESS MANHATTAN CAVERNS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today approved the final major contract for the East Side Access project, which will build and finish four platforms and eight tracks for the new Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) terminal some 100 feet below Grand Central Terminal. Under another contract awarded last month, a tunnel approach will be built and a bridge rebuilt in Sunnyside, Queens. The total value of both contracts is nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars. “These are a significant milestones for East Side Access and will turn raw underground caverns into the modern station that LIRR customers will use when they head directly to and from the East Side of Manhattan,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “And the Sunnyside contract will make it possible for trains to reach Grand Central Terminal. East Side Access will save Long Island and Queens customers up to 40 minutes a day in travel time, demonstrating why transit expansion is a key element of our 2015-19 Capital Program.” The Manhattan contract will transform two enormous 1,143-foot-long caverns carved out of solid rock into a terminal station, with more than 12 miles of track work from Queens to Manhattan, including eight tracks and four platforms in the station; elevators, escalators and staircases to carry customers to and from the underground station; and all architectural finishes through the caverns. “With the award of these contracts, the eventual completion of East Side Access is starting to come into view,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction, which is building the project. “This is the next chapter in the long history of Grand Central Terminal and the growth and development of New York City.” The MTA selected the Tutor Perini Corporation for the 3˝-year caverns project at a contract value of $663 million. During the year-long procurement process, 34 firms requested the RFP documents and seven submitted separate technical and cost proposals. The selection committee unanimously selected low cost proposer Tutor Perini from among three firms that submitted best and final offers. The contract award was approved on Monday by the Long Island and Finance Committees of the MTA Board and by the full MTA Board today. The contract to make upgrades to railroad infrastructure in Sunnyside, Queens, was also awarded to Tutor Perini Corp., in December, and is valued at up to $79 million. The upgrades will enable LIRR trains to access Grand Central Terminal. The work the contractors will perform in Sunnyside includes excavation and construction of an approach structure that will allow the LIRR’s existing tracks to connect to one of the four rail tunnels that have been built below Sunnyside Yard. This will complete the physical connection that will run from the tunnels under Grand Central all the way to daylight in Sunnyside, Queens. Approaches to the other tunnels will be built separately through other contracts. Workers will also replace of one of the five bridges that carry tracks over 48th Street. Additional work that will be performed under this contract includes switch installation; retaining wall construction; installation of electrical utilities; demolition of an electrical substation; and installation of overhead wire support structures. The contract is structured to take 19 months and is valued at $53.3 million. If the MTA deems that the work is going well, the contract allows the authority to exercise options valued at approximately $26.5 million that would expand the scope of work to be undertaken and extend the duration of the contract to a total of 30 months. Construction activities for this contract are planned to be underway in late February. The award of these contracts closely follows the completion of two other major contracts, one for a subsurface ventilation structure at 55th Street in Manhattan and one for major civil infrastructure work in Harold Interlocking in Queens. This past November, the project made its first leap forward into the public realm when the contract to fit-out the future LIRR concourse broke through to the Lower Level Dining Concourse in Grand Central Terminal, where escalators and a stairway will be installed to connect to the new concourse. The East Side Access project will increase the LIRR’s capacity into Manhattan, and dramatically shorten travel time for Long Island and eastern Queens commuters traveling to the east side of Manhattan. It is projected to reduce crowding at Penn Station and nearby subway stations and provide easier access from East Midtown to JFK International Airport via the AirTrain at LIRR’s Jamaica station. The completion of the East Side Access project will also free up LIRR tracks in Penn Station, allowing trains from the MTA Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line access to Penn Station through Queens. The Penn Station Access project will construct four new stations in the East Bronx, significantly cutting travel times to and from Manhattan. Some public benefits of the East Side Access project already have been realized. Sixteen months ago, the MTA opened 50th Street Commons, a comfortable pocket park between Park and Madison Avenues in Manhattan. A year before, the MTA opened a new entrance to Grand Central inside 245 Park Avenue that faces 47th Street between Park and Lexington avenues. The entrance is now the most direct way to access Grand Central’s platforms from points east of Lexington Avenue and north of 47th Street. East Side Access is scheduled to be completed in December 2022. (MTA - posted 1/27)

MTA BANS HOVERBOARDS FROM TRAINS, BUSES, AND STATIONS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that possession of hoverboards aboard trains or buses or at stations of the New York City Subway, New York City Buses, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, Staten Island Railway or Access-A-Ride is prohibited. The MTA is promoting the ban through a new MTA advertising campaign using the now-famous “bubble people,” with the headline: Hoverboards Not Allowed. The MTA’s safety rules have long prohibited the use of personal wheeled vehicles, such as skateboards, skates or scooters, in train stations. The rules of conduct also prohibit customers from possessing hazardous or flammable materials into the public transportation network, and the lithium-ion batteries used to power hoverboards pose the risk of fire. Hoverboards are regulated by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. The Administration recently issued an alert “under certain conditions, lithium batteries can pose a heat, fire, and explosion risk,” and found that 80% of hoverboards in a study did not have proper certification of battery testing. “The safety of our customers and employees is always our top concern,” said MTA Chief Safety Officer David Mayer. “For obvious reasons, it is not safe to use hoverboards, skateboards or other personal wheeled vehicles on station platforms. We’re equally concerned about the safety risk of bringing devices that pose fire hazards into the confined spaces inside trains and buses.” The prohibition on hoverboards will be enforced by the MTA Police Department on Metro-North, the LIRR, and Staten Island Railway, and by the New York City Police Department on New York City’s subways and buses. Hoverboards have been banned by Amtrak, American regional railroads including Chicago’s Metra and Los Angeles’ Metrolink, and most U.S. airlines. (MTA - posted 1/27)

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS FOURTH QUARTER 2015 RESULTS: Claude Mongeau , president and chief executive officer, said: "CN generated strong fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 results despite the weak volume environment. Our solid performance is testament to the strength of CN's franchise and diversified portfolio of businesses. I am particularly proud that CN's team of railroaders quickly recalibrated resources to respond to weaker volumes, while protecting customer service." 2016 outlook, increased dividend (2) Mongeau said: "Although the economic environment remains challenging, CN will continue to leverage its franchise strength and industry-leading efficiency. For 2016, the Company expects to deliver mid-single digit EPS growth over adjusted diluted 2015 EPS of C$4.44 . (1) CN will continue to invest in the safety and efficiency of its network, with a 2016 capital investment program of approximately C$2.9 billion , including the negative impact of foreign exchange and increased spending for Positive Train Control technology. "Given CN's strong balance sheet and solid financial prospects, I am pleased to announce that the Company's Board of Directors today approved a 20 per cent increase in CN's 2016 quarterly common-share dividend. CN has increased its dividend per share by 17 per cent per year on average since its privatization in 1995 and continues to move towards a target payout ratio of 35 per cent."
  • Fourth-quarter 2015 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses: Revenues for the quarter decreased by one per cent to C$3,166 million . Revenues increased for automotive (13 per cent), forest products (12 per cent), intermodal (five per cent), and grain and fertilizers (one per cent). Revenues declined for metals and minerals (21 per cent), coal (16 per cent), and petroleum and chemicals (four per cent). The decrease in total revenues was mainly attributable to reduced shipments of energy-related commodities due to a reduction in oil and gas activities, lower volumes of semi-finished steel products and short-haul iron ore, decreased shipments of coal due to weaker North American and global demand, and lower U.S. grain exports via the Gulf of Mexico ; as well as a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate. These factors were partly offset by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues, freight rate increases, and solid overseas intermodal demand. Carloadings for the quarter declined eight per cent to 1,325 thousand Revenue ton-miles (RTMs), measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, declined by five per cent, while rail freight revenue per RTM, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, increased by five per cent. Operating expenses for the quarter decreased by seven per cent to C$1,812 million . The decrease was primarily due to lower fuel expense, lower accident-related costs and cost-management efforts, partly offset by the negative translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses. Full-year 2015 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses Revenues for 2015 increased four per cent to C$12,611 million . Revenues increased for automotive (16 per cent), forest products (13 per cent), intermodal (five per cent), grain and fertilizers (four per cent), and petroleum and chemicals (four per cent). Revenues declined for coal (17 per cent) and metals and minerals (three per cent). The rise in total revenues was mainly attributable to the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; freight rate increases; and solid overseas intermodal demand, higher volumes of finished vehicle traffic, and increased shipments of lumber and panels to U.S. markets. These factors were partly offset by a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate; and decreased shipments of energy-related commodities including crude oil, frac sand and drilling pipe, lower volumes of semi-finished steel products and short-haul iron ore, reduced shipments of coal due to weaker North American and global demand, as well as lower U.S. grain exports via the Gulf of Mexico . Carloadings declined two per cent to 5,485 thousand. RTMs decreased by three per cent. Rail freight revenue per RTM increased eight per cent over 2014, driven by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar and freight rate increases, partly offset by a significant increase in the average length of haul, particularly in the second half of the year, and a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate. Operating expenses for 2015 decreased by two per cent to C$7,345 million . The decrease was mainly due to lower fuel expense and cost-management efforts, partly offset by the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses. The operating ratio was 58.2 per cent in 2015, an improvement of 3.7 points over the 2014 operating ratio of 61.9 per cent.
  • 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 net income for the three months and year ended Dec. 31, 2015 , would have been lower by C$87 million ( C$0.11 per diluted share) and C$314 million ( C$0.39 per diluted share), respectively.
(CN - posted 1/26)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNOUNCES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: Norfolk Southern Corporation today announced the regular quarterly dividend of 59 cents per share on its common stock, payable on March 10 to stockholders of record on Feb. 5. Since its inception in 1982, Norfolk Southern has paid dividends on its common stock for 134 consecutive quarters. (NS - posted 1/26)

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS FOURTH QUARTER 2015 RESULTS: Claude Mongeau , president and chief executive officer, said: "CN generated strong fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 results despite the weak volume environment. Our solid performance is testament to the strength of CN's franchise and diversified portfolio of businesses. I am particularly proud that CN's team of railroaders quickly recalibrated resources to respond to weaker volumes, while protecting customer service." 2016 outlook, increased dividend (2) Mongeau said: "Although the economic environment remains challenging, CN will continue to leverage its franchise strength and industry-leading efficiency. For 2016, the Company expects to deliver mid-single digit EPS growth over adjusted diluted 2015 EPS of C$4.44 . (1) CN will continue to invest in the safety and efficiency of its network, with a 2016 capital investment program of approximately C$2.9 billion , including the negative impact of foreign exchange and increased spending for Positive Train Control technology. "Given CN's strong balance sheet and solid financial prospects, I am pleased to announce that the Company's Board of Directors today approved a 20 per cent increase in CN's 2016 quarterly common-share dividend. CN has increased its dividend per share by 17 per cent per year on average since its privatization in 1995 and continues to move towards a target payout ratio of 35 per cent."
  • Fourth-quarter 2015 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses: Revenues for the quarter decreased by one per cent to C$3,166 million . Revenues increased for automotive (13 per cent), forest products (12 per cent), intermodal (five per cent), and grain and fertilizers (one per cent). Revenues declined for metals and minerals (21 per cent), coal (16 per cent), and petroleum and chemicals (four per cent). The decrease in total revenues was mainly attributable to reduced shipments of energy-related commodities due to a reduction in oil and gas activities, lower volumes of semi-finished steel products and short-haul iron ore, decreased shipments of coal due to weaker North American and global demand, and lower U.S. grain exports via the Gulf of Mexico ; as well as a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate. These factors were partly offset by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues, freight rate increases, and solid overseas intermodal demand. Carloadings for the quarter declined eight per cent to 1,325 thousand Revenue ton-miles (RTMs), measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, declined by five per cent, while rail freight revenue per RTM, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, increased by five per cent. Operating expenses for the quarter decreased by seven per cent to C$1,812 million . The decrease was primarily due to lower fuel expense, lower accident-related costs and cost-management efforts, partly offset by the negative translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses. Full-year 2015 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses Revenues for 2015 increased four per cent to C$12,611 million . Revenues increased for automotive (16 per cent), forest products (13 per cent), intermodal (five per cent), grain and fertilizers (four per cent), and petroleum and chemicals (four per cent). Revenues declined for coal (17 per cent) and metals and minerals (three per cent). The rise in total revenues was mainly attributable to the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; freight rate increases; and solid overseas intermodal demand, higher volumes of finished vehicle traffic, and increased shipments of lumber and panels to U.S. markets. These factors were partly offset by a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate; and decreased shipments of energy-related commodities including crude oil, frac sand and drilling pipe, lower volumes of semi-finished steel products and short-haul iron ore, reduced shipments of coal due to weaker North American and global demand, as well as lower U.S. grain exports via the Gulf of Mexico . Carloadings declined two per cent to 5,485 thousand. RTMs decreased by three per cent. Rail freight revenue per RTM increased eight per cent over 2014, driven by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar and freight rate increases, partly offset by a significant increase in the average length of haul, particularly in the second half of the year, and a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate. Operating expenses for 2015 decreased by two per cent to C$7,345 million . The decrease was mainly due to lower fuel expense and cost-management efforts, partly offset by the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses. The operating ratio was 58.2 per cent in 2015, an improvement of 3.7 points over the 2014 operating ratio of 61.9 per cent.
  • 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 net income for the three months and year ended Dec. 31, 2015 , would have been lower by C$87 million ( C$0.11 per diluted share) and C$314 million ( C$0.39 per diluted share), respectively.
(CN - posted 1/26)

VIA RAIL PARTNERS WITH WOUNDED WARRIERS CANADA TO SUPPORT INJURED VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES: Wounded Warriors Canada is proud to announce a national partnership with VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail). VIA Rail will provide complimentary train travel to ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans and their families who are attending the mental health programs and services provided by Wounded Warriors Canada. VIA Rail is also partnering with Wounded Warriors Canada on their 2016 Battlefield Bike Ride – The Italian Campaign. VIA Rail is donating a cross-Canada trip for two, from Halifax to Vancouver, to the top fundraising participant. All funds raised from the Wounded Warriors Canada Battlefield Bike ride support the charities investment in mental health programming. Scott Maxwell, Executive Director of Wounded Warriors Canada, commented, " VIA Rail has an historic association with our armed forces members. For our team at Wounded Warriors Canada, the life-changing programs we are able to deliver exist as a result of these outstanding national partnerships. We are extremely grateful for VIA Rail's commitment to helping us directly support our ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans and their families in their time of need." "Since 2010, more than 140,000 military personnel, veterans and family members have travelled on VIA Rail trains under the auspices of an earlier-announced discount program," declared Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail. "Today's announcement is yet one more sign of the long and deep relationship between passenger rail and the men and women of Canada's armed forces." The train, which goes as far back as our collective memory – more significantly during the First and Second World Wars – has been used to transport military personnel to our coasts, where general cargo ships were waiting to take them to battlefields in foreign lands. Trains were also used to convey numerous soldiers to their homes, once they had reached Canadian soil after sustaining injuries on the battlefield. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 1/26)

AMTRAK AND SOUTHERN RAIL COMMISSION TO HOST AN INSPECTION TRAIN ACROSS GULF COAST Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) are conducting a tour to examine new ideas for intercity passenger rail by operating an Inspection Train from New Orleans to Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 18, and Friday, Feb. 19. The Inspection Train, hosted by Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman, will carry elected officials, industry representatives, community leaders and federal stakeholders. The goal of the invitation-only trip is to examine the existing CSX railroad infrastructure and to better understand rail’s economic, cultural and mobility opportunities. It will provide an unparalleled perspective on reintroducing intercity passenger rail along the Gulf Coast. The special train will be at each of these stations for 10 minutes before departing at the times below (all times local). Details can be found on the SRC website . Feb. 18:
  • Louisiana: New Orleans, 8:45 a.m.
  • Mississippi: Bay St. Louis, 10:20 a.m.; Gulfport, 11:00 a.m.; Biloxi, 11:31 a.m.; Pascagoula, 12:16 p.m.
  • Alabama: Mobile, 1:25 p.m.; Atmore, 2:41 p.m.
Feb. 19:
  • Florida: Pensacola, 8:00 a.m.; Crestview, 9:20 a.m.; Chipley, 11:00 a.m.; Tallahassee, 2:47 p.m.; Madison, 4:24 p.m.; Lake City, 5:35 p.m.; arriving Jacksonville at 7:15 p.m.
The SRC recently released a study by Amtrak detailing the range of feasible service options accompanied by an analysis of ridership levels, projected revenues, and associated costs for passenger trains between New Orleans and Orlando. The models in this new study present the range of service options that will support regional economic resilience and projected population growth. Better connections and financial performance has been projected in these models – with higher ridership and lower costs – than Amtrak services previously considered or operated in the region. The study can be found here . “We want to work with community leaders and CSX.” said Boardman. “Additional regional economic development can come from shared infrastructure investments on a timeline to better connect the region to the rest of the country and more than 500 other Amtrak destinations.” Connecting the cities and towns along the Gulf Coast with passenger rail is one of the top priority projects for the Southern Rail Commission. “The Southern Rail Commission is committed to working with local and federal partners, and Amtrak to make this service a reality in the near future,” said SRC Chairman Greg White. “We are continuing to align the necessary support for the project.” (Amtrak - posted 1/25)

FRA EXTENDS COMMENT PERIOD FOR NEC FUTURE The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that it will extend the formal comment period for the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Draft EIS) until February 15, 2016. The public comment period for the Tier 1 Draft EIS began on November 13, 2015. The comment period was originally scheduled to close on January 30, 2016. FRA has since decided to extend the comment period to allow for additional comments. The Tier 1 Draft EIS, which can be reviewed at www.necfuture.com , broadly assesses impacts of an investment program to improve passenger rail service on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Washington, D.C., and Boston. It evaluates three action alternatives for the NEC in comparison with a “no action” alternative, and considers impacts to transportation, the economy, the built environment and natural resources. The FRA held 11 public hearings throughout the Northeast region in December 2015 and January 2016 to solicit comments on the Tier 1 Draft EIS. The materials presented at these hearings are also available at www.necfuture.com. The FRA will review all comments received to help inform the decision on a Preferred Alternative for NEC FUTURE. Interested parties are encouraged to comment online at www.necfuture.com, via email at comment@necfuture.com Email links icon, or by mail to NEC FUTURE, U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration, One Bowling Green, Suite 429, New York, N.Y. 10004. - See more at: https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/fra-extends-comment-period-nec-future#sthash.OpaOQ7Lg.dpuf (USDOT - posted 1/25)

AMTRAK CONTINUES MODIFIED SERVICE DUE TO WINTER STORM JONAS: Amtrak will continue operating with a modified schedule in mid-Atlantic region this weekend, due to a winter storm. Passengers holding reservations are strongly encouraged to keep a close eye on conditions and make any necessary changes in advance of their scheduled departure using Amtrak.com or our mobile apps to check their train status. Acela Express, Northeast Regional and other services between Washington, D.C. and Boston, and Keystone Service between Harrisburg, Pa., and New York, will be operating on Saturday and Sunday, but on a modified schedule. However, there will be no Amtrak service south of Washington, D.C., this weekend to locations in Virginia and the Southeast. Passengers who have reservations on affected services are being contacted and accommodated on other trains with similar departure times or offered alternate travel dates. Several Amtrak national services to and from the East Coast are canceled or truncated, including:
  • • Auto Train (Lorton, Va. – Sanford, Fla.), Trains 52 & 53, will not operate Jan. 23 and 24
  • • Capitol Limited (Washington, D.C. – Chicago), Train 30, will operate between Chicago and Pittsburgh only on Jan. 23 and Train 29 will operate between Chicago and Pittsburgh only on Jan. 24
  • • Cardinal (New York – Chicago), Trains 50 & 51, will provide daily service between Chicago and Indianapolis on Jan. 23 and Jan 24 with Hoosier State, Trains 850 & 851, only on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24
  • • Carolinian (Charlotte, N.C. – New York), Trains 79 & 80, will operate between Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, with another section of Train 79 operating between New York and Washington on Jan. 23
  • • Crescent (New York – New Orleans), Trains 19 & 20 will not operate Jan. 23. Train 19 will not operate on Jan. 24. Train 20 operate will operate only between New Orleans and Atlanta on Jan. 24
  • • Palmetto (New York – Savannah, Ga.), Train 89 will not operate on Jan 23 and 24. Train 90 will operate between Washington, D.C., and New York only on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24
  • • Silver Meteor (New York – Miami), Trains 97 & 98, will not operate Jan. 23 and Jan. 24
  • • Silver Star (New York – Miami), Trains 91 & 92, will only operate between Miami and Jacksonville on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24.
Passengers should allow extra time to get to the station and be extremely careful with possible slippery conditions in stations, on platforms and in the doorways of trains. Changes to these schedules or announcements about other service changes will be made as far in advance as possible and posted on Amtrak.com. The top priority at Amtrak is the safety of our passengers, employees and the traveling public. Amtrak engineering, operations and mechanical crews are actively monitoring the latest forecasts to ensure safe and efficient operation of the railroad, with preparations such as personnel and equipment positioning to quickly respond to potential problems and to resolve issues. (Amtrak - posted 1/23)

STEAM LOCOMOTIVE NO. 2102 WILL RETURN TO SERVICE: The Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad has begun work on restoring no. 2102. The RBMN T-1 with a 4-8-4 wheel arrangement originally was constructed in Reading, PA in 1945, and has seen a very rich history to this point. The next two years will become pivotal in the locomotive's much anticipated return to service. The tender was split from the locomotive on January 7 followed by work commencing on January 9. The front end is out and work has started in the cab. The cab along with all jacketing, piping, superheater units, tubes and flues will be removed. The locomotive will be dissembled far enough to perform complete ultrasonic testing and inspection. Once that is complete, the goal is to perform the FRA Form 4 “1472” inspection. Andy Muller, Jr., owner and CEO of the rail company anticipates the T-1 to be operational by mid-2017. According to Matt Fisher, General Manager of the railroad's passenger division, "the total amount of ridership in 2015 hit 100,000 people. This is approximately 30 percent higher than our previous year's ridership. The amount of ticket sales and interest in riding trains is phenomenal. Impressive ridership numbers along with the amount of teamwork and determination by employees of the railroad has made it a perfect time to begin working on 2102." The steam locomotive is housed at the Port Clinton shops less than 20 miles north of Reading on the former Reading Company mainline. Port Clinton is also the headquarters of the RBMN railroad. "The opportunities are endless to use no. 2102 in special excursion service on both the RBMN and related tourist railroad Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway," said Fisher. RBMN owns more than 300 miles of railroad along with operational steam locomotive no. 425, two RDCs numbered 9166 and 9168, and over 35 diesel locomotives. The railroad employs over 200 people in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania. More information and official news updates about this project can be found at www.rbmnrr.com and www.lgsry.com (R&N - posted 1/22)

SEPTA TO SUSPEND REGIONAL RAIL, BUS, TROLLEY AND NHSL SERVICE AT 4:00 A.M., SATURDAY JANUARY 23: SEPTA will suspend service on all Regional Rail Lines, bus and trolley routes and the Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) beginning at 4 a.m. on Saturday, January 23, 2016 due to forecasted blizzard conditions caused by Winter Storm Jonas. SEPTA is planning to operate its Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines during the storm. "Our number one priority is the safety of our passengers and our employees," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "We have been monitoring the storm all week, and as forecasts are now calling for blizzard conditions moving into our region late Friday evening and early Saturday morning, we believe it is necessary to suspend service on our buses, Regional Rail, trolleys and Norristown High Speed Line. Zero visibility and high winds will make it too dangerous for our customers and our employees to be on the roads and rails. It could also be difficult for our crews to rescue stranded passengers and make emergency repairs if needed." SEPTA will keep its Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines in operation to help those that need to travel, specifically emergency service and hospital personnel. "If you do not have to be out during the storm, please avoid any travel," said Knueppel. SEPTA's Customized Community Transportation (CCT) is planning for limited service on Saturday, January 23, and Sunday, January 24, and will only provide eligible customer trips for dialysis. Customers should anticipate delays due accumulated snow and icy conditions on streets and sidewalks. Additional service reductions or a suspension in service may become necessary should conditions deteriorate. Impassable streets and/or sidewalks not cleared of accumulated snow and ice may prevent safe boarding and transport. Customers should contact the Control Center at (215) 580-7720 to cancel trips if they don't plan to ride or to inquire about the status of any pending "Same Day" trips. Customers should call CCT Customer Service at (215) 580-7145 for all other inquiries. SEPTA will deploy crews to clear stations and parking lots and prepare vehicles for a restoration of service at 4 a.m. on Sunday, January 24. "We will restore service where possible," said Knueppel. "However, customers should anticipate bus detours and rail cancellations due to road conditions and possible overhead wire problems caused by downed trees." Customers should visit www.septa.org , the @SEPTA Twitter and local media outlets for information on when service will resume. (SEPTA - posted 1/22)

CN SUBMITS APPLICATION TO THE CANADIAN TRANSPORTATION AGENCY FOR ITS PROPOSED MILTON LOGISTICS HUB: CN announced today that it has submitted an application to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) for approval of its proposed logistics hub to be built in Milton, Ont. The CTA application outlines the infrastructure required for the C$250 million project and the expected economic benefits of the proposed logistics hub:
  • With CN's intermodal traffic growing solidly since 2005, the terminal creates more inland freight capacity to better connect domestic and global supply chains linking the West and East coasts in Canada.
  • Half of CN's intermodal rail traffic touches the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), and the Milton Logistics Hub will help CN meet the critical transportation infrastructure needs of a growing region.
  • The tracks to be built on CN property adjacent to CN's existing mainline will accommodate the terminal's rail traffic and the 1.7-kilometre private access road to be constructed on CN property will handle terminal truck traffic and avoid truck queuing on public roads.
Letters of support for the project signed by leaders of chambers of commerce, ports, businesses across Canada, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations are included in the CTA application. The application for the construction of certain rail lines for the logistics hub is required under the Canada Transportation Act. The application follows CN's filing of a comprehensive environmental impact statement with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. CN is committed to a full federal review of the project and to active consultation with the community and Aboriginal peoples. The CTA application can be viewed on CN's Milton project Web site . (CN - posted 1/22)

GOVERNOR WOLF ANNOUNCES PLANS TO IMPROVE HARRISBURG TRANSPORTATION CENTER: Governor Tom Wolf today announced plans for improvements to the Harrisburg Transportation Center and surrounding areas. The governor was joined by PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards and Mayor Eric Papenfuse. "Enhancing Pennsylvania's transportation infrastructure is essential to the region's economy and the Harrisburg Transportation Center is a vital hub that serves our Keystone Corridor passenger rail service, as well as intercity bus and local transit," Governor Wolf said. "The center serves more than 1.6 million riders per year, including many people working for the commonwealth. State government calls Harrisburg home and we want to partner with the city where possible to improve the quality of life for its residents and businesses." PennDOT envisions an initial investment of $15 million in federal and state dollars to bring the Transportation Center to a state of good repair. Long range, the project envisions $50 million to $60 million in federal and state dollars for station and other transportation and land use improvements. These are intended to attract private sector investment to improve the areas around the station. "We want to partner with Amtrak, the city of Harrisburg, and its redevelopment authority to invest in this center and help create a magnet for redevelopment in the surrounding area," Secretary Richards said. "This is a huge step on the road to that goal." "We see this critical investment as the next step in the City's ongoing revitalization," Mayor Papenfuse said. The Harrisburg Transportation Center, the former Pennsylvania Railroad Station, is the western terminal point for all but two of the 28 Amtrak trains that serve the station each day. The service attracts more than 1.6 million riders a year and intercity and local buses also connect at the center. Michael Baker Corp. and a subcontractor, BASE Architecture Planning and Engineering, Inc., will begin by conducting research and outreach as a first step to a Transit Oriented Development plan. (State of Pa., Randy Kotuby - posted 1/21)

WILL BRAKE FOR BATTERIES: SEPTA, CONSTELLATION AND VIRIDITY ENERGY ANNOUNCE 8.75 MEGAWATT ENERGY STORAGE PROJECT: A battery storage network, which captures and reuses the energy created by braking subway cars, will help Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authoirty (SEPTA) reduce operating costs, ensure energy resiliency, and support the stability of the energy grid. Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, will fund, own, and operate the 8.75 megawatt battery storage network, deployed at seven SEPTA substations. The network is designed to used stored energy to power trains as they accelerate from stations and can provide emergency generation for trains in the event of a power outage. An expansion of SEPTA's 1.8 MW battery storage pilot program completed in 2014, the new network brings the agency's total battery storage capacity to more than 10 MW. "SEPTA's Sustainability Program is all about finding and deploying cutting-edge innovations to reduce costs in addition to improving environmental performance. This project is right in that sustainability sweet spot, and we are pleased to partner with Constellation and Viridity in bringing it to market right here in the Philadelphia region, an emerging hub for innovative energy projects," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. The project, which is among the first commmercially deployed battery storage systems in a transit operation, requires no upfront capital investment from SEPTA and will be financed through a 20-year battery services agreement with Constellation. "As a competitive energy supplier, we aim to provide our customers with the best long-term economic and business solutions for how their energy is produced and supplied," said Gary Fromer, senior vice president of distributed energy at Constellation. "This battery storage network, along with $26 million in guaranteed savings from efficiency improvements Constellation is implementing for SEPTA, will help SEPTA deliver on its budget and energy resiliency goals." The stored energy will help to balance electric load on the PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization that manages the movement of wholesale electricity in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Viridity Energy will provide energy market services for the project, bidding the batteries into the PJM market as frequency regulation resources to help match generation with demand and maintain the desired electrical frequency on the grid. "Our ground-breaking regenerative braking pilot at SEPTA proved that energy storage can be used by transit systems to create substantial cost savings, generate revenue, and contribute to sustainability goals," said Viridity Energy CEO Mack Treece. "By expanding the pilot to a full deployment, SEPTA will demonstrate to rail transit systems throughout the world that energy storage can be a core part of their overall energy and sustainability strategy when paired with the right technologies and market expertise." ABB will provide engineering, procurement, construction and operations services to Constellation for the project. Saft will provide the lithium ion battery technology. Construction activities are scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2016 with estimated commercial operation in late 2016. (SEPTA - posted 1/21)

CANADIAN PACIFIC ANNOUNCES THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (TSX: CP) today announced fourth-quarter reported diluted earnings per share of C$2.08 and adjusted diluted earnings per share of $2.72, the highest ever for the period. For the full year, reported diluted earnings per share were $8.40 while adjusted diluted earnings per share climbed to a record $10.10, a 19-percent improvement over 2014's adjusted EPS of $8.50. CP's commitment to operational efficiency produced a fourth-quarter adjusted and reported operating ratio of 59.8 percent, matching the record-setting performance of a year ago. For 2015, CP posted a best-ever full-year adjusted and reported operating ratio of 61 and 60 percent, beating the previous record, set in 2014, by 370 and 470 basis points, respectively. "Thanks to our committed, hard-working employees across the network we have produced a record low operating ratio along with record earnings per share," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "Despite challenging economic conditions and lower commodity prices, we continue to focus on what we can control – lowering costs, creating efficiencies and improving service." (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/21)

CP-NS COMBINATION WILL EASE CONGESTION IN KEY CHICAGO RAIL HUB, CP ARGUES IN WHITE PAPER: Canadian Pacific (CP) (CP) today released a white paper showing how CP's proposed combination with Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS) will alleviate congestion in the key rail hub of Chicago . The full text of the white paper, The Opportunity to Alleviate Congestion in Chicago , is below. A PDF version can be downloaded at: http://www.cpr.ca/en/investors The Opportunity to Alleviate Congestion in Chicago The status quo is not an option for North American rail Canadian Pacific (CP) has proposed a transformational merger with Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS) that would enhance competition and create new markets and options for customers across North America . This transaction would also alleviate congestion in the key rail hub of Chicago , where gridlock in the winter of 2013-14 hobbled the industry for months and threatened to hinder the U.S. economic recovery. A CP-NS combined network would have a meaningful, lasting impact on Chicago congestion for the clear benefit of customers, competitors and the broader economy. A CP-NS combination would reduce congestion and create capacity in Chicago by:
  • Providing options to shift traffic to alternative routings, which would also serve to relieve pressure across the network.
  • Making operational improvements to a switching carrier and moving processing interchanges within Chicago to underutilized hubs outside the city.
  • Identifying a number of other opportunities for operational improvements in train and routing management.
Chicago is a Capacity-Constrained Major Railway Hub: Chicago is the most critical freight hub within North America's rail system where the threat of gridlock is constant and rooted in the status quo. In 2014, roughly 25 percent of all rail freight traffic traveled through Chicago 1 where six major Class I freight railroads connect. According to the recently released Amtrak Chicago Gateway Blue Ribbon Panel Report, Chicago is also "the most important hub in Amtrak's national network."2 Additionally, more than 700 weekday Metra commuter rail trains operate in the Chicago area.3 Today, this hub is a chokepoint for rail freight and passenger traffic as capacity in the region is constrained. On a good day, it takes a train on average "30 hours to get through Chicago – about the same amount of time it takes the same train to travel from Chicago to the East Coast."4 But, in this constrained environment, surges in freight volumes, severe weather and other adverse events can quickly lead to significant disruption and that disruption can impact the national economy. We learned this lesson in the winter of 2013-2014 when a bumper grain crop and prolonged, extreme weather conditions collided to create gridlock that impacted the entire North American rail system for several months. With freight volumes expected to double by 20255, this is a problem that must be addressed now. Otherwise, "the next Chicago rail crisis is inevitable."6 The Amtrak Blue Ribbon Panel issued a call to action with a stark warning: "If aggressive action is not taken now to address what may well be our country's most significant transportation bottleneck, the adverse national, regional and local impacts on passenger and freight rail transportation, and on the economy, will be enormous."7 No Easy Fix: There is neither an easy nor inexpensive fix. With so many stakeholders, it is difficult to gain alignment and reach consensus on improvement initiatives, especially since most solutions are costly, complicated and impact different stakeholders in different ways. Despite best efforts to address congestion in Chicago , programs such as the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE), have fallen far short. Among other problems, CREATE lacks funding.8 Even fully funded, CREATE on its own cannot do enough to avert future gridlock. Much more must be done. CP is Focused on Improving Chicago: In 2014, approximately 22 percent of all CP's traffic traveled through Chicago , and roughly 47 percent of all of CP's interchange traffic interchanged in the city. Even when things are functioning smoothly in Chicago , it serves as a chokepoint. Shippers have complained that it takes 48 hours for a train to get from LA to Chicago and then another 30 hours to travel across the city.9 The time to get through Chicago translates into higher inventory and equipment costs for the entire supply chain, and additional delays due to surge volumes or inclement weather can substantially increase these negative impacts and costs. Consequently, when problems arise in Chicago , as they did in 2013-14, customers across the network pay a higher price. The importance of a fluid Chicago to the North American rail industry as a whole, means it is critical to be proactive in finding solutions before the next significant gridlock situation occurs. As delays occur, customers typically will request additional cars to make up for the slower cycle times.10 However, adding more cars is often the wrong thing to do. It is like adding cars to a highway during rush hour: It exacerbates the congestion and prolongs the disruption. A CP-NS combination provides both the flexibility to avoid Chicago and the ability to improve operations in Chicago , which will be of enormous benefit to CP and NS customers. A more efficient Chicago lowers costs, improves service, and in turn, enables our customers to be more productive and more competitive. Positive Impact of Transaction Encompasses More Than CP-NS A CP-NS combination would also have a much broader impact by opening up capacity for other carriers and improving operational efficiency within Chicago . Furthermore, even if some carriers continue to insist on a Chicago interchange, notwithstanding the alternative locations that a CP-NS combination makes possible, the option to shift traffic to these alternative routings temporarily provides a critical safety valve that can relieve pressure across the network. As a result, the national rail network would be more robust and resilient. Claims that a CP-NS combination would have a minimal impact on Chicago or even exacerbate the problem are unfounded. While CP does not yet have access to relevant NS data to evaluate the full magnitude of the impact a merger could have on Chicago , preliminary analysis shows that it is substantial and positive. In the North American rail industry, there is complete agreement on the need to reduce, not add to, the more than 13.5 million rail cars that pass through Chicago annually. A CP-NS combination would be a positive step forward in reducing this traffic and alleviating congestion in Chicago . However, the impact on Chicago of a CP-NS combination is not just about current NS and CP traffic in isolation. Both railways interchange with other railways in the city and a combined network allows both run-through and bypass options for this other traffic, thereby removing processing and duplicate interchanges within the city. Direct routes from eastern Canada and the northeast U.S. to Kansas City or St. Louis and intermediate interchanges open up new scenarios and reduce dependency on Chicago . Thus, we are confident that once we are able to review NS data, we will be able to identify even more opportunities to unlock additional capacity in Chicago . Bypass Congested Chicago Yards on the Belt Railway of Chicago (BRC) and Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB) Railway BRC and IHB act as the middle men in Chicago for rail freight. The interchange between Class I's of a substantial amount of Chicago traffic is handled by these two railroads, which operate on capacity-constrained routes and yards. A combined CP-NS entity will be the majority owner of the IHB, which would put it in a position to make much needed improvements in the operational efficiency of this switching carrier while ensuring that IHB switches all carriers on a neutral and non-discriminatory basis. Further, rather than stopping in BRC and IHB yards for processing, a combined CP-NS will be able to build trains elsewhere and bypass yards in Chicago for interchange with other Class I railroads at underutilized hubs outside of Chicago . This reduces congestion and creates much needed capacity for all carriers on the BRC and IHB. Specific Opportunities to Alleviate Congestion in Chicago CP has identified the following opportunities in the combined network that would help reduce congestion in Chicago and expects to identify additional opportunities once it obtains access to NS data:
  • Manifest Trains A "manifest" train is made up of cars, or blocks of cars, with multiple origins and/or destinations. Manifest trains require a considerable amount of switching as cars from multiple origins must be assembled together in blocks by destination, and those blocks must then be joined with other cars or blocks of cars headed in the same direction to form a train. Today, much of the blocking of CP's manifest traffic is performed at CP's Bensenville Yard in Chicago and interchanged over the BRC. With a CP-NS combination, CP could capitalize on blocking activities performed at NS' Yard in Elkhart, IN. Current CP traffic could be added to manifest trains that could then run straight through or bypass Chicago entirely. Blocking for westbound traffic that CP currently interchanges with other western carriers could similarly shift to Elkhart and run through or avoid Chicago . For example, CP could block traffic from eastern Canada and northeast U.S. into Elkhart , adding to manifest trains that operate into Union Pacific's (UP) yards at North Platte, NE , Proviso, IL and Pine Bluff, AR.
  • Automotive Trains CP serves automotive plants in Ontario and must interchange much of this traffic in Chicago . Loaded automotive racks (rail cars used to move automobiles), from the plants headed west are interchanged in Chicago with either the UP or Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). When an automotive customer requests empty automotive racks, CP gets the majority of those racks from other carriers in Chicago . A CP-NS combination would provide the option to interchange loaded traffic at St. Louis , Kansas City , and at intermediate interchanges south of Chicago . In addition, it would allow for sourcing of empty automobile racks from locations other than Chicago , enabling more efficient and reliable handling and routing of this equipment, while reducing congestion in Chicago .
  • Intermodal Trains CP has two intermodal train departures per day from one terminal in Chicago involving 10 destination terminals. NS has upwards of 18 departures per day out of four Chicago intermodal terminals connecting to 34 destination terminals in the south and east. A CP-NS combination provides options to consolidate or to use more efficient routings for at least some of this traffic. For example, westbound CP intermodal traffic that CP today terminates on the west side of Chicago could move via Buffalo into NS' 47th Street intermodal terminal, eliminating the cross town move through Chicago .
  • Quad Cities11 CP currently must route eastbound Quad Cities' traffic through Chicago . By utilizing NS connections in western Illinois extending into Iowa , a combined CP-NS may be able to route that traffic more efficiently and bypass Chicago without a circuitous backhaul to Kansas City .
  • Kansas City and Detroit CP traffic that originates in eastern Canada and northeastern U.S. that is currently routed via Chicago could be routed more efficiently through Detroit to Kansas City for interchange with other carriers. The traffic would bypass Chicago and save approximately 73 route miles.12 Westbound CP traffic received at Kansas City could be handled similarly.
  • St. Louis Eastbound manifest grain and occasional potash trains that originate in the northern plain states or in western Canada could avoid an intermediate handling on the BRC by moving directly to Elkhart and then down into St. Louis where they could be interchanged with the UP or with the river barges.
  • Buffalo CP believes that Buffalo is an underutilized gateway to the northeast that could be used to route manifest, intermodal and unit trains that are currently routed through Chicago . This could include Croxton, NJ and Elizabeth Marine Terminal, NJ intermodal traffic as well as traffic from western Canada . CP traffic that now is routed over Lake Erie could be routed over the shorter route south of the lakes and eliminate two border crossings.
Proposed Transaction will Positively Address Congestion Issues in Chicago A combined CP-NS network will reduce congestion in Chicago and free up capacity for other railways. By diverting hand-offs between railways to underutilized hubs outside the city and reducing processing in yards within the city, there is a real opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to address the congestion in Chicago while significantly improving service for diverted traffic. The result is a stronger and more resilient rail network better able to avoid and recover from future service disruptions. The status quo is not an option for Chicago . (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/20)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 16, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 16, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 506,433 carloads and intermodal units, down 8.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Jan. 16 were 242,670 carloads, down 16.6 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,763 containers and trailers, up 1.1 percent compared to 2015. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 21.4 percent to 8,437 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 2.8 percent to 16,751 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.2 percent to 31,687 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 32.6 percent to 75,308 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 24.2 percent to 18,690 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 18.5 percent to 12,852 carloads. For the first 2 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 481,891 carloads, down 15.1 percent from the same point last year; and 522,702 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 2 weeks of 2016 was 1,004,593 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 16, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 328,028 carloads, down 15.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 332,652 intermodal units, up 0.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 660,680 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 2 weeks of 2016 was 1,310,999 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.7 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 68,470 carloads for the week, down 13.6 percent, and 58,209 intermodal units, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 2 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 253,768 carloads, containers and trailers, down 5.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,888 carloads for the week, up 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,680 intermodal units, down 3.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 2 weeks of 2016 was 52,638 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.8 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 1/20)

METRO-NORTH RAILROAD IMPLEMENTS CONFIDENTIAL CLOSE CALL REPORTING SYSTEM: MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced the extended implementation of Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), an industry-leading initiative designed to encourage workers to report any potential safety hazard or breach of procedures that they may observe by providing them with a convenient, non-confrontational and anonymous method to do so. The Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) is a partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in conjunction with participating railroad carriers and labor organizations. C3RS was first rolled out in 2015 to approximately 1,500 transportation department employees, represented by the Association of Commuter Rail Employees (ACRE), including conductors, engineers and rail traffic controllers. Today, Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti, labor organizations representing 4,000 employees, and FRA Deputy Regional Administrator Les Fiorenzo have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) describing the core principles and values to successfully implement the program to its mechanical and engineering workers. Metro-North is the first commuter railroad to implement the system with all of its operations workforce throughout the entire network. “I am proud to put my signature on a document that provides the opportunity to continue the initiatives we have already put in place to enhance railroad safety,” said Giulietti. “This program confirms how much we depend on our employees to detect potential risks to our operations. They are the eyes and ears of Metro-North and we appreciate their contribution to making the system run safely and efficiently.” C3RS is an FRA-funded program that provides a voluntary, non-punitive approach for employees to report certain incidents and close call events that pose the risk of more serious consequences. A third party (NASA) will receive the details of the incident via an online form and de-identify the information before presenting it to a Peer Review Team (PRT) consisting of local representatives from the FRA, Metro-North and labor unions representing 4,000 mechanical and engineering employees. Those unions are: The American Railway Supervisors Association/ Transportation Communications Union/International Association of Machinists (ARASA/TCU/IAM and ARASA/TCU/IAM 5041), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW System Council Number 7, IBEW Local 1573), National Conference of Firemen & Oilers (NCFO), International Association of Sheet, Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-SM), Association of Commuter Rail Employees (ACRE Signalman Division Local 166, ACRE Power Directors Local 37), Transportation Workers Union (TWU Local 2055, TWU Local 2001), and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT Local 808). “Every day, nearly 300,000 people count on Metro-North to transport them safely to their jobs in the morning and home to their families every night. Starting a Confidential Close Call Reporting System for its mechanical and engineering Departments is another important step toward improving Metro-North’s safety culture, preventing accidents before they happen and increasing worker safety,” said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. Other railroads currently using C3RS include Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and Strasburg Rail Road. Reporting results from each railroad provide the chance to see industrywide trends in close call incidents and use the information to prevent similar or more serious incidents from recurring. While the reporting of close call events will not be used as a substitute for any existing Metro-North safety programs or reporting procedures, it will serve as an additional tool for improving safety. The information about close call incidents enables the railroad to identify factors that contribute to accidents or injuries and to correct these problems before they result in harm. It will increase productivity and cost savings by reducing claims and litigation as well as time lost from injuries. The program will also help to decrease damage to railroad property and the environment. For more information about C3RS, visit http://c3rs.arc.nasa.gov (MTA - posted 1/19)

CP ASKS U.S DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO REVIEW RECENT MEETINGS OF SOME CLASS I RAILROADS TO OPPOSE CP AQUISITION OF NS: : Canadian Pacific (CP) (CP) said today that it has submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking it to review recent actions by a number of major U.S. railroads who have stated publicly that they are organizing a collective campaign to block significant mergers in the railroad industry, including CP's proposed offer for Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS). According to statements reported in the press, some of these railroads are concerned about the damage that increased competition from a CP-NS combination would have on "shareholder value" and on their own profitability. CP believes it is unfortunate that the company must take the very serious step of writing to the Department of Justice but ultimately concluded the unprecedented action of major competitors organizing to block a new entrant from enhancing competition to the U.S. merited the attention of the antitrust authorities. CP has confidence in the Surface Transportation Board and its regulatory process to analyze CP's proposal impartially once an application is filed, and is disappointed that others appear not to share such confidence and have resorted to collective action to ensure no merger occurs. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/19)

AN EVEN CLASSIER AMTRAK CARDINAL SERVICE : The Cardinal (Trains 50 & 51) has long been known as one of the most scenic routes on the national Amtrak network. Now, with an available upgrade to Business class, it is an even more comfortable way to travel from New York to Chicago, via Washington; White Sulphur Springs, Va.; Cincinnati and Indianapolis, effective Jan. 19 and 20. For a surcharge of $51 per person or less, passengers can enjoy bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards® points and the following amenities:
  • Spacious leather seats in a car reserved for Business class
  • Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages
  • Complimentary AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi as cellular data service permits along the route
  • Complimentary access to the Metropolitan Lounge at Chicago Union Station
  • Access to Philadelphia’s Club Acela at 30th Street Station for $20 a person
Operating three days weekly, the Cardinal offers unforgettable views of the Southeast's stunning natural beauty. Passengers will see gently rolling horse country, the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and the wild white-water rivers of West Virginia as they can only be seen by train. Heading westward, the train rolls along the banks of the mighty Ohio River — from the quaint towns of Ashland and Maysville to the river city of Cincinnati. From there, the journey continues to the skylines of Indianapolis and Chicago. In addition to Business class, Sleeping car upgrades are also available on the Cardinal, as well as Coach class seating that offers more room than almost any other transportation mode. (Amtrak - posted 1/18)

CSX TO CONSOLIDATE OPERATING DIVISIONS: As CSX continues to match its network resources to business demand and drive additional efficiency, the company announced today that it is consolidating its operations administration from 10 divisions  to 9 divisions and closing administrative offices at Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington Division administrative responsibilities will be reassigned to five adjoining divisions: Atlanta, Baltimore, Florence, Great Lakes and Louisville.  CSX will continue to run trains over the territory, and its yards and other facilities in the Huntington region – including the Huntington locomotive shop – will continue operations. The company remains committed to the Huntington community, which has played a vital role in railroading and American commerce since its namesake Collis P. Huntington completed the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1873. The 121 management and union employees who currently report to the Huntington Division offices will remain employed in the area supporting the transition of administrative responsibilities over the next several months. At the conclusion of the transition period, the timing of which may vary by role, many employees will be given an opportunity to fill positions in other areas of the network.  Primarily serving customers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, the Huntington territory encompasses the Central Appalachian coal fields, which have been significantly affected by low natural gas prices and regulatory actions. Over the past four years alone, CSX’s coal revenues have declined $1.4 billion. Today’s announcement is part of CSX’s focus on reducing structural costs and aligning resources with demand in its coal fields, and follows the reduction of train operations at Erwin, Tennessee and the closing of mechanical shops at Corbin, Kentucky. CSX remains firmly committed to providing safe, reliable rail service to customers throughout the region. CSX maintains more than 2,000 miles of track in West Virginia and handled more than 1.7 million carloads of freight in the state in 2014.  (CSX - posted 1/18)

CSX PROPOSES INTERMODAL TERMINAL FOR JOHNSTON COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: CSX announced plans to develop a major freight rail infrastructure project in Johnston County that will spur economic development in the region and help position eastern North Carolina as a major transportation logistics hub. The proposed intermodal rail terminal, the Carolina Connector, or CCX, will be a state-of-the-art facility that will create distinct competitive advantages for North Carolina businesses and ports while serving the metro-Raleigh area – one of the South’s largest and fastest growing markets. “We are excited about developing infrastructure within North Carolina that makes the state’s ports more competitive, lowers transportation costs for business, and promotes reliance on freight rail, the most fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly form of land transportation,” said Louis Renjel, CSX vice president, strategic infrastructure initiatives. “CSX has committed to working closely with Johnston County officials and community members to build an environmentally responsible terminal that benefits the local economy and surrounding area.” Once operational, the terminal will serve as an intermodal transportation hub in the South, transferring a broad range of goods – from food to furniture to appliances – between trucks and trains. Intermodal transportation combines the fuel efficiency and cost-effectiveness of rail and the door-to-door flexibility of trucks, thereby reducing transportation costs for businesses in the region while alleviating congestion on North Carolina roads and highways. The terminal is expected to spur economic development in eastern North Carolina by enhancing transportation infrastructure, creating jobs and encouraging industrial growth. The terminal is forecast to produce more than $329 million in public benefits for the state over 30 years. The construction of the terminal is estimated to create 250 to 300 short-term construction jobs. Over time, up to 1,500 long-term jobs will be created statewide as a result of this development. “This terminal will support existing industry in Johnston County, as well as attract additional manufacturing, distribution and industrial businesses to the area,” said Chris Johnson, director of Johnston County Economic Development. “Johnston County is committed to working with CSX and the local community to ensure all parties benefit from this project and that the unique character and spirit of our county and community are protected and enhanced.” Total estimated project costs for CCX are $272 million. CSX is committed to investing $150 million – the majority of funds needed to complete the project. The execution of the project is contingent on securing $100 million in infrastructure investment funds that have been proposed in the state of North Carolina’s Strategic Transportation Investment (STI) process. The balance of the funding will come from other infrastructure and investment programs that are currently in place. CSX has constructed similar terminals in North Baltimore, Ohio and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. These terminals have served as a catalyst for local economic development as businesses including warehouses and distribution centers have chosen to locate new facilities in those communities. CSX officials began reaching out to landowners in Johnston County to secure options on property east of Selma and close to Interstate 95 where the proposed facility would be constructed. (CSX - posted 1/15)

MORE PASSENGERS ON VIA RAIL’S OCEAN TRAIN DURING THE HOLIDAYS: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) welcomed 8,000 Holiday travellers on the Ocean train, operating between Montreal and Halifax, during the period of December 16, 2015 to January 5, 2016. The total volume of passengers travelling from one destination to another within the Maritimes during this period increased by 9.5%, and those travelling from the Maritimes to other parts of Canada increased by 1.5%. “The Holidays boast the highest ridership of the year on our trains,” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail, “Our investment in the addition of six additional departures of the Ocean over the Holidays is a tangible demonstration of our desire to provide greater opportunities to our Eastern Canadian customers to celebrate with their loved ones. This investment of over $500,000 did not yield the expected increase in passenger traffic. Extra capacity of over 840 seats was added, but only 262 of them were filled. Regardless, we intend to continue working with our customers and key stakeholders throughout the year to find ways to make VIA Rail more relevant and increase ridership in this region.” Nationally, VIA Rail saw its highest passenger revenue in over four years, with an increase of 10.3% since 2012, and the busiest day, December 23, 2015, had VIA Rail trains transporting 16,377 passengers to their destinations. In the Québec City-Windsor corridor, over 237,000 passengers travelled on the 1,118 trains serving communities in and between Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, London, Sarnia and Niagara Falls. The Montréal-Toronto line was the most popular route: 32,527 travelled between these two points over the period. Meanwhile, the Canadian, which connects Toronto to Vancouver, saw over 5,100 passengers onboard. VIA Rail trains safely transported all passengers to their destinations without any major disruptions. Thanks to its world-class on board Wi-Fi service offered throughout the Québec City – Windsor corridor as well as on the eastern long-haul train, the Ocean, VIA Rail allows its passengers to stay connected and online throughout their journey. During the Holidays, over 176,000 devices connected to VIA Rail’s Wi-Fi system and transmitted over 17,000 GB of information through the web. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 1/15)

MAJOR STATION RENOVATIONS COMMENCE AT 9 N STATIONS: Beginning Monday, January 18, MTA New York City Transit will begin performing major renovations to nine stations along the Sea Beach Major Station Renovations Commence at 9 N Line Stations from 8 Av in Sunset Park to 86 St in Bensonhurst. The stations are: 8 Av, Fort Hamilton Pkwy, New Utrecht Av, 18 Av, 20 Av, Bay Pkwy, Kings Hwy, Avenue U and 86 St. For these stations, originally opened in 1915, renovations will include improved platforms and overpasses, new stairways and handrails, repairs to canopies and columns, painting and the rehabilitation of historic head house station entrances and fare control areas, enhanced safety features, and upgraded communication systems which will create better travel conditions for our customers. Work will also take place between stations with repairs to retaining walls along the right of way. The $395.7 million contract to renovate the N Line stations was funded under the 2010-2014 Capital Program. While the contract for these nine stations pre-dates Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s recently announced plan for rapid redesign and renewal of an additional 30 subway stations, the MTA will work with the contractors involved to push for greater efficiency in the renovation process. “Once these renovations are complete, customers will be greeted by modern amenities including new lighting, Help Point Intercoms, and station artwork that will greatly improve their trips along the Sea Beach Line,” said Wynton Habersham, Acting Senior Vice President of the Department of Subways. “We appreciate our customers’ patience while we complete this important project, and regret the inconvenience this work may cause. In order to ensure that our customers are well-informed of these station closures and alternative travel options, notices will be posted in stations and on trains, and announcements will be made on all N Line trains.” Two stations will be made Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible under this renewal. Two ADA-compliant ramps will be added to the 8 Av station, and four elevators will be installed at the New Utrecht Av station to bring riders from street level to connect to N Line and D Subway trains. In order to perform this renewal work at these subway stations, access to the tracks is necessary. Therefore, the work will be completed in two phases. The Manhattan-bound platforms at all nine stations will be the first to close for rehabilitation starting January 18, and continuing for 14 months. Once the Manhattan-bound work is complete, the work on the Coney Island-bound side will begin with a similar service plan that involves back riding with customers using temporary platforms at the 8 Av and Bay Pkwy stations. In addition to back riding, customers may also choose to ride the D Subway or F Subway train to Manhattan. To access the Fort Hamilton Pkwy, New Utrecht Av, 18th Av, 20 Av, Kings Hwy, Avenue U, and 86 St stations while platforms are under construction, customers will need to back ride using temporary platforms at the 8 Av and Bay Pkwy stations.The two contractors working on this project are John P. Picone, Inc. which will rehabilitate the six stations between 8 Av and Bay Pkwy, and Skanska USA, responsible for the rehabilitation of Kings Hwy, Avenue U and 86 St. The entire project is expected to take approximately four years to complete. Preliminary preparation work began in April 2015 on various elements of the project, including renovation work on archways, construction of temporary platforms at 8 Av and Bay Pkwy, pruning trees from along the tracks and the renovation of unstaffed control areas. Service notices will also be posted on the MTA website, www.mta.info. Brochures explaining the station closures and outlining alternative service will be given to customers at subway stations before January 18. (MTA - posted 1/14)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 9, 2016: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 9, 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 498,160 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Jan. 9 were 239,221 carloads, down 13.5 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 258,939 containers and trailers, up 7.5 percent compared to 2015. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 23 percent to 8,552 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 10.6 percent to 13,276 carloads; and chemicals, up 6.2 percent to 32,302 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 30.7 percent to 75,112 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 18.1 percent to 19,419 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.1 percent to 13,096 carloads. For the first week of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 239,221 carloads, down 13.5 percent from the same point last year; and 258,939 intermodal units, up 7.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first week of 2016 was 498,160 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.7 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 9, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 323,005 carloads, down 11.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 327,314 intermodal units, up 6.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 650,319 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.3 percent. Canadian railroads reported 68,493 carloads for the week, down 8.3 percent, and 58,596 intermodal units, up 4.5 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first week of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 127,089 carloads, containers and trailers, down 2.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,291 carloads for the week, up 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,779 intermodal units, up 4.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first week of 2016 was 25,070 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 4.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 1/13)

ADVANCED-TECHNOLOGY TRAINS POWER SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS AT AMTRAK: Amtrak continues its commitment and progress to ever more sustainable operations by focusing on fuel and energy conservation as well as other initiatives. America’s Railroad® has incorporated sustainability practices throughout its operation of more than 300 trains that travel each day to more than 500 destinations. New advanced-technology electric locomotives are now in service along the Northeast Corridor. The locomotives will save the cost of about 3 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the coming decades. The locomotives are designed for easier maintenance and will maximize energy efficiency by using a regenerative braking system that will feed energy back into the power grid. “At Amtrak, our mission is inherently focused on sustainability. We’re proud of our work to provide reliable, energy-efficient transportation, draw more customers to rail, and ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of the traveling public,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “We are committed to being a good steward of our resources and having a positive impact in the communities we serve.” Digital access to select newspapers is available to business and first-class passengers on Northeast Corridor and eastern route trains. Digital access contribute less per passenger mile to greenhouse gas emissions and can save more than 103,740 paper copies annually. According to a 2015 report by the national Transportation Research Board, passenger rail is generally three to four times more efficient, using less energy and producing less greenhouse gas emissions than automobile or air travel for equivalent door-to-door trips. Amtrak recently signed the International Union of Railways (UIC) Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge. In signing the pledge, Amtrak committed to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, stimulate modal shift to rail in national and international markets, actively communicate climate-friendly initiatives, and publicly report data on energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Amtrak is a member of the Carbon Disclosure Project, which reports on sustainability initiatives specific to climate change. Amtrak received a score of 99B on its most recent submission to the CDP. The 99 out of 100 reflects Amtrak’s commitment to comprehensive and transparent reporting of greenhouse gas data and climate-related risks and opportunities. The B represents the performance band and measures the company’s positive actions to promote climate change mitigation, adaptation and transparency. The most recent score represents an increase from 96B in 2014. The 2014 Amtrak Sustainability Report offers a comprehensive accounting of its program. (Amtrak - posted 1/13)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN COMBINES VIRGINIA AND POCAHONTAS DIVISIONS: Norfolk Southern Corporation is consolidating its Virginia and Pocahontas divisions to form the new Pocahontas Division, with headquarters in Roanoke, Va., effective Feb. 1. The consolidation is part of the company’s ongoing drive to enhance operating efficiencies and support long-term growth. This announcement follows other recent strategic initiatives, including the reduction from three corporate office locations to two, restructuring of the Triple Crown Services subsidiary, and integration of the D&H South Line to increase options for shippers. In a related move, Norfolk Southern is changing traffic patterns and idling parts of its “West Virginia Secondary,” a 253-mile line between Columbus, Ohio, and central West Virginia that has experienced steady declines in business in recent years. This follows the idling of a 33-mile mainline between Elmore and Princeton, W.Va., in September 2015. The new Pocahontas Division will comprise 2,581 route miles, mainly in Virginia and West Virginia, extending from the Port of Virginia to Portsmouth, Ohio, and from Bristol, Va., to Hagerstown, Md. “Creation of the new Pocahontas Division supports the railroad’s strategic plan to deliver cost-efficient and superior service while building a stronger enterprise,” said Mike Wheeler, senior vice president operations. “Consolidating the two divisions enables us to streamline operations and focus resources on high-return growth opportunities.” Combining the divisions will improve service by placing most of the company’s coal routes under the operating authority of a single division. Additionally, the move further consolidates operational control over the company’s Heartland Corridor, a double-stack intermodal route through Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. Roanoke, which will serve as headquarters of the new Pocahontas Division, currently is headquarters of the Virginia Division. The new division will be led by Superintendent Charles M. “Mike” Irvin, a 33-year employee with wide experience managing several different divisions for the railroad. In Roanoke, Norfolk Southern currently operates a local switching yard, locomotive and rail car maintenance and overhaul facilities, and a material yard that supports track maintenance gangs systemwide. The consolidation will affect management and office staff positions now based in Bluefield, W.Va., currently the Pocahontas Division headquarters. Those employees will have an opportunity to relocate to Roanoke or apply for other positions at the company. With the consolidation, Norfolk Southern will operate 10 divisions across its network. The company will continue to operate its rail yard in Bluefield. Trains moving Appalachian coal comprise most of the business handled there, and yard traffic has declined as coal volumes moved by the railroad have dropped over the past five years. Currently, about 130 people work in operations departments at the yard, including in transportation, engineering, and mechanical. “Coal mined from the Appalachian Basin has long served as a vital, low-cost source of energy to power America, and Norfolk Southern remains committed to providing top-notch service to our valuable coal customers,” Wheeler said. “At the same time, the railroad is nimble and adapts to changing market conditions. Our strategic plan positions us to meet the needs of current customers while creating efficiencies and focusing resources on infrastructure and markets that support continued growth.” For example, Wheeler noted that the Heartland Corridor, opened in 2010 as part of a public-private partnership among Norfolk Southern, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and the federal government, created the shortest, most efficient, and environmentally friendly route to transport intermodal freight between the Port of Virginia and Midwest consumer markets. This year, Norfolk Southern trains will begin serving the new Heartland Intermodal Gateway in Prichard, W.Va., the state’s first intermodal facility, which was developed through the corridor partnership. “The Heartland Corridor opens global trade markets for West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio businesses, creates opportunities for jobs and economic expansion, and supports the railroad’s efforts to shift freight from highway to rail,” Wheeler said. “The Heartland Corridor is a vital part of the U.S. transportation network. As we help communities and businesses compete in the global marketplace, we are building a stronger future for Norfolk Southern and our shareholders.” In Virginia and West Virginia, Norfolk Southern in 2014 employed 5,690 people and funded a payroll of $450 million, invested $235 million in track and facilities, and spent $278 million in purchases and payments with suppliers and local businesses. (Norfolk Southern - posted 1/12)

READING & NORTHERN SMASHES ALL RECORDS IN 2015: Reading and Northern Railroad announced today that it achieved record-breaking carload volumes and revenue for 2015. In 2015 the railroad handled 28,940 carloads which surpassed the previous record achieved last year by over 4500 carloads! This 19 percent growth in carloadings helped the railroad to record-breaking revenues, which exceeded past revenue levels by over 30 percent as freight revenues were supplemented by revenue from new transloading and warehouse businesses started by the railroad. Reading & Northern handles a diverse mixture of commodities including wood pulp, paper, metals, food products, plastics, forest products and chemicals and minerals. Reading & Northern also serves the North American anthracite coal market which leads it to be known as “The Road of Anthracite.” In 2015 the railroad did well in all commodity areas except business related to the Marcellus Shale. Like other railroads in the region, Reading & Northern saw its Marcellus Shale business fall by two-thirds. However, unlike other regional railroads which saw their overall traffic decline, Reading & Northern was able to achieve spectacular growth due to its emphasis on customer service and its entrepreneurial focus. “Our record breaking volumes for 2015 prove that our decision to offer our customers guaranteed service windows does grow the business. And in 2016 we are taking this commitment one step further by improving our already excellent service by hiring more crews and running more trains faster.” said Andy Muller, Jr., CEO and owner of the Reading and Northern. “Obviously we could not have achieved this growth without the hard work of the 200 plus men and women in the Reading & Northern family” said Wayne Michel, President of Reading & Northern. Michel noted that the railroad has increased employment almost 8 percent in 2015 and is hiring more employees at this time. Michel also stressed that much of the railroad’s growth was due to taking entrepreneurial risks to develop more traffic, “In 2015 Reading & Northern got into the warehouse business in order to serve customer demand. This follows our recent successful move into the transload business to better serve our customers. In addition, some of our customers needed to store their railroad cars as a result of market shifts. Reading & Northern forces reopened long unused railroad tracks and was able to handle thousands of storage cars.” In recognition of the railroad’s focus on customers and entrepreneurial initiatives Reading & Northern was named Regional Railroad of the Year in 2015 by Railway Age magazine. Reading & Northern’s sister company, Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, also had a record year as over 100,000 visitors rode on one of its many steam or diesel-powered excursion trains. (Reading & Northern Railroad - posted 1/12)

CSX CORPORATION ANNOUNCES FOURTH-QUARTER AND FULL YEAR EARNINGS RESULTS: CSX Corporation(CSX) today announced fourth quarter net earnings of $466 million, a 5 percent decline from $491 million in the same period of 2014, or $0.48 per share, down 2 percent from $0.49 in the prior year.  Fourth quarter revenue declined 13 percent as pricing gains were more than offset by the impact of lower fuel recovery, a 6 percent volume decline and continued transition in the company’s business mix. Expenses also decreased 13 percent, primarily reflecting reduced fuel prices, lower volume-related costs and efficiency gains. As a result, operating income declined 12 percent to $791 million, while the operating ratio improved 20 basis points to 71.6 percent. For the full year 2015, CSX generated $11.8 billion in revenue as growth in intermodal, automotive and minerals markets partially offset continued significant declines in coal.  In this environment, the company delivered earnings per share of $2.00, up 4 percent from 2014, on net earnings of $2.0 billion. Improving service, resource alignment and efficiency gains helped generate operating income of nearly $3.6 billion and the company’s first sub-70 full-year operating ratio at 69.7 percent.  “CSX delivered solid results in 2015 by balancing strong service with compelling cost control and efficiency gains despite a market challenged by low commodity prices and global impacts of the strong U.S. dollar.” said Michael J. Ward, chairman and chief executive officer.  “With negative global and industrial market trends projected for 2016, full-year earnings per share are expected to be down compared to 2015.  CSX will continue to be rigorous about efficiency, resources and service quality in order to maximize shareholder value and achieve a mid-60s operating ratio longer term.”   (CSX - posted 1/12)

2016 SCHEDULE OF NORFOLK & WESTERN CLASS J 611 ANNOUNCED: The Virginia Museum of Transportation (VMT) and the North Carolina Transportation Museum (NCTM) are pleased to announce that the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam passenger locomotive will return to the mainline in 2016 with an exciting schedule of public excursions and special appearances.The sleek and powerful Class J steam passenger locomotives, designed and built in Roanoke, Va., by the Norfolk & Western Railway, widely were hailed as the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world. Today, the 611 is the only Class J still in existence and is owned by the VMT. It was restored at the NCTM in 2014-2015 through a worldwide fundraising effort by the VMT. "A ride behind the 611 is a bucket list dream come true for everyone who remembers the golden age of steam, or who has been lucky enough to learn her story," said Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., VMT executive director. "611 is the star of the Museum's collection and a traveling ambassador for the remarkable rail heritage of Norfolk Southern." The 611 will move from Roanoke to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in February in preparation for maintenance and its annual Federal Railway Administration inspection. Following that work, spring will see a total of four weekends of public excursions behind 611 on the Norfolk Southern system. A variety of seating options, including coach, first class, and dome cars is planned for each excursion. In addition, special appearances by 611 are being planned for Roanoke, Manassas and Danville, Va., and Spencer, N.C. The first two trips will be hosted by the North Carolina Transportation Museum. On Saturday, April 9, 611 will run from Spencer, N.C. to Lynchburg, Va., and return. On Sunday, April 10, it will travel from Spencer, N.C., to Asheville, N.C., and back via the famous "Loops." Following the NCTM excursions, the remaining three excursion weekends will be hosted by the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Fire Up 611 Campaign donor benefits apply for the three weekends of excursions hosted by the VMT, for donations postmarked by Wednesday, January 13, 2016. On April 23 and 24, full-day trips will depart Greensboro, N.C., to Roanoke, Va., and return to Greensboro. 611 will return to Roanoke to lead half-day excursions on May 7 and 8. Morning excursions will run from Roanoke to Lynchburg and back via the Blue Ridge grade. Afternoon trips will run from Roanoke to Walton and return via the Christiansburg grade. The morning and afternoon trips are separate excursions. On June 4 and 5, 611 will pull a total of three trips from Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., and return: One roundtrip on the morning of Saturday June 4 and two roundtrips on Sunday, June 5, as part of the 22nd Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival.
  • April 9, 2016 - The Virginian, Spencer, N.C., to Lynchburg, Va.
  • April 10, 2016 - The Blue Ridge Special, Spencer, N.C., to Asheville, N.C.
  • April 23, 2016 - The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.
  • April 24, 2016 - The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.
  • May 7, 2016 - The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.
  • May 7, 2016 - The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.
  • May 8, 2016 - The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.
  • May 8, 2016 - The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.
  • June 4, 2016 - The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs once)
  • June 5, 2016 - The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs twice)
For safety reasons, there will be no open vestibules or open vestibule windows, or photo run-bys. The public is encouraged to take pictures of 611 for personal use when the locomotive is stopped in publicly accessible locations and when it is in operation. All passengers and spectators must stay off and away from the tracks, respect Norfolk Southern and other private property, and adhere to all instructions from NS and other security personnel. Look for an announcement soon for ticket prices, sale dates and the exciting, new train consist, which includes first class and dome seating towards the front of the train. Follow this link for event information and to sign up for email notifications 611'S SPECIAL APPEARANCES In addition to opportunities to ride and watch 611 roll by on excursions, the public is invited to take advantage of a number of special opportunities to get up close to 611 under steam, take photos, and meet the crew. "We are very excited to offer this experience that people haven't had before, to get really close to 611," said Jim Stump, Forward 611 committee chair for the VMT. "We will be taking 611 to new destinations and giving communities an exciting opportunity to celebrate their history and rail heritage. It is amazing to experience this engine fired up."
  • Over the weekend of May 14, 2016 - visitors to the Virginia Museum of Transportation will get to view 611 fired up, and meet the crew.
  • June 4, 2016 - After the morning excursion, 611 will make a guest appearance at the Manassas, Va., Heritage Railway Festival.
  • June, 2016 - 611 will be on display at the VMT.
  • July, 2016 - 611 will be featured at the North Carolina Transportation Museum for special events.
  • Early August, 2016 - 611 will return to the VMT.
  • Early September, 2016 - 611 again will return to the NCTM for special events and maintenance.
  • Sept. 24-25, 2016 - 611 will travel to Danville, Va., to be featured during Danville Rail Heritage Days.
  • 611 will return to Roanoke after the NCTM events conclude in the fall.
The events at the NCTM and the City of Danville involve only the locomotive and its crew. No excursions to Danville or to Spencer (NCTM) are offered. \ Follow this link for event information and to sign up for email notifications (Fireup 611, Alex Mayes, Scott Snell - posted 1/11)

LIRR ANNOUNCES THE PASSING OF CHARLES W. HOPPE, RAILROAD'S 34TH PRESIDENT: MTA Long Island Rail Road marks the passing on Dec. 22 of Charles W. Hoppe, who served as the LIRR’s 34th President, from April 2, 1990, to August 31, 1994. A memorial mass will be held at St Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington Va. on Friday, January 15, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library. Under Hoppe, the railroad became infused with a renewed sense of energy and direction. “Hoppe initiated strategic rethinking in a number of areas, from developing new growth opportunities, to rethinking the role of freight, to identifying improved types of cars and locomotives, right down to the language used to run the railroad on a day-to-day basis,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, who in 1994 succeeded Hoppe as President of the LIRR. “The results of his efforts were both far-reaching and long term. He left the region with a railroad that was in far better shape than it had been.” The short-term results spoke for themselves. The LIRR’s on-time performance increased four percentage points, to 93% as of 1994, from 89% in 1989, and ridership increased. Measures of train car reliability improved during his tenure. At the same time, the railroad gained a restored confidence from federal funding partners and embarked on a major rehabilitation of Harold Interlocking, the crucial complex of switches in Sunnyside, Queens, where the LIRR’s tracks merge with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, and it undertook significant upgrades to its portion of Penn Station. The work at Penn included improvements to the LIRR’s passenger concourse on the lower level, modernizing the signal system in partnership with Amtrak and creating Penn Station Central Control, which directs the safe movements of more than 1,000 trains per day. “Virtually every metric that we measure on a month-to-month basis improved under Chuck Hoppe,” Chairman Prendergast said. “But the most tangible of his improvements was the complete transformation of Penn Station. Chuck led the railroad through the difficult process of overcoming decades of neglect to modernize the appearance and functionality of the station. Those improvements helped start a ridership increase that has continued through to the present day, so much so that Penn Station is ready to be updated again.” The LIRR also began working to stimulate freight traffic under Hoppe, a line of business that had been fairly dormant, but has proven popular under the auspices of an outside company, the New York & Atlantic Railway. Internally, Hoppe oversaw a reorganization of the management of the railroad that resulted in a reduction of overall headcount by 10% and the creation of individual Branch Line Managers responsible for each branch, a system that is still in use and was carried over through the MTA to New York City Transit. “The Long Island has a lot of complexities to it, and probably is the most complex railroad in North America,” he said shortly after being appointed as president. “One of my goals is to get people thinking positively about the LIRR. It is a good railroad that can be better.” With his belief that the railroad could build on its existing strengths, Hoppe launched customer service and market development initiatives, including an effort to encourage off-peak ridership that has been followed by a 52% increase in off-peak ridership. In a similar vein, he also initiated a Network Strategy Study, a blueprint for the railroad’s growth to the present day. That study evaluated many options for replacing the railroad’s diesel fleet, eventually deciding on the combination of diesel and dual mode locomotives and today’s two-level coaches with the more comfortable 2 x 2 seating arrangement. “A direct ride between Penn Station and destinations further east, such as Port Jefferson, Speonk, and now even Montauk, without the need to transfer between trains, was a direct outgrowth of the Network Strategy Study that Hoppe led,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “We’re now in the early phases of updating the Network Strategy Study to guide the railroad in its post-East Side Access future.” Hoppe, who was 80 at the time of his passing, insisted on high standards, and perhaps most emblematic of that was his belief that even the words used by staff were an important influence and reflection on the railroad’s culture. With that in mind, he mandated that all railroad officials refer to its users as “customers” as opposed to “riders” or “passengers” in order to emphasize the railroad’s responsibilities and duties to those it serves. That practice continues to this day at the LIRR and has become standard practice throughout the MTA family of agencies. “He had a big heart and loved to ‘meet-and-greet’ with customers, both on the train and at Penn Station, and ask them how we could improve service,” said John Bennett, who was LIRR Vice President of Infrastructure under Hoppe. Originally from Rocky River, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, Hoppe had a quarter century of experience in domestic and international railroad management and consulting at the time he was selected to lead the LIRR by MTA Chairman Robert R. Kiley. His work included time with the Cleveland Union Terminal Company, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, U.S. Army, Norfolk Southern Railway, and 14 years with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc., where prior to joining the LIRR he directed a major investment strategy study for CityRail, a commuter railroad in Sydney, Australia. Hoppe earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue University in 1957 and an MBA from Harvard in 1961. In the mid-1970s, Hoppe worked for the United States Railway Association, developing a plan to reorganize various bankrupt northeast railroads into what became Conrail, the predecessor, among other things, to MTA Metro-North Railroad. (MTA - posted 1/11)

CSX NAMES NEW SALES & MARKETING LEADERS: CSX today appointed key leaders in the Sales and Marketing organization as the company continues to focus on enhancing customer relationships and encouraging profitable growth. Dean M. Piacente has been named vice president-intermodal; Clark Robertson, vice president-chemicals; and Tim McNulty, vice president-agriculture; all reporting to Fredrik J. Eliasson, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. Bill Clement, who previously headed intermodal, has left the company and is pursuing other interests. “We thank Bill Clement for his tremendous service that included helping the company build the premier intermodal network in the East,” Eliasson said. “Dean Piacente, Clark Robertson, and Tim McNulty are proven sales and marketing leaders who will continue to work effectively across our company and with customers to develop new relationships, expand our service offerings, and maximize growth opportunities.” Piacente, who joined CSX in 1987, assumes the intermodal leadership role from his position as vice president-chemicals. In that role, he led significant revenue and new customer growth in the chemicals market and leveraged opportunities in the transition of the global energy markets. In addition, he has served in other senior sales and marketing capacities and as vice president-finance. “Dean’s record of growth, revenue generation, and customer relationships makes him the ideal choice to lead intermodal, which is a significant growth driver for CSX as we work with our trucking partners to convert to rail-based solutions more of the approximately 9 million highway loads in the East that travel 550 miles or more,” Eliasson said.  Robertson, who joined CSX in 2010, moves to vice president-chemicals from his prior role as assistant vice president-regional development. Robertson oversaw significant business growth from new customers locating on CSX’s network and existing customers expanding their operations. He also led development and implementation of the Select Site certification program, which provides prospective customers with online listings of certified development-ready properties on or near CSX’s rail network. McNulty, who joined CSX in 1985, is promoted to vice president-agriculture, which will now include the company’s phosphate and fertilizer market, in addition to shipments of grain and ethanol. McNulty has been instrumental in the development of CSX’s ethanol unit train network and has an established record of building strong teams, supporting customer needs and enhancing growth and efficiency. (CSX, - posted 1/11)

SEPTA POLICE LAUNCH BODY CAMERA PROGRAM: SEPTA Transit Police officers have been equipped with body cameras, tools designed to strengthen relationships with the public, and provide valuable evidence for investigations. "We've done this because we believe it gives the SEPTA Transit Police Department more credibility with the community. They'll have more trust in us, and feel there are additional checks and balances," said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III. "These cameras will also greatly aide with our investigative efforts by providing audio and visual evidence of officers' interactions with the public and response to calls." The department-wide launch of the program started Jan. 1, 2016. This followed a pilot test that began in July 2014, with 15 officers field-testing cameras from several different manufacturers. The success of the pilot program prompted SEPTA to pursue adding cameras for all officers. The SEPTA Board approved the purchase of Digital Ally First VU body-worn cameras and related accessories during its regular monthly meeting in July 2015. The overall program, including equipment costs and training, is approximately $400,000. SEPTA has also adopted a policy for use of the body cameras. It provides guidance on when officers are required to activate the cameras, which in large part includes instances in which they are interacting with the public and responding to calls from police radio. The officer will provide verbal notice of the recording to the individuals involved. Officers will not record during breaks, while writing reports and performing administrative duties, or while having general conversations that are not related to an active incident. The policy also sets rules for the downloading and preservation of video. This initiative enhances SEPTA's overall video coverage of the transit system, which currently includes over 18,000 surveillance cameras at stations and on trains, buses and trolleys. "These technologies have played a big role in efforts to make SEPTA safer, and to help our customers feel more secure while they're riding," Nestel said. "It also serves as warning to those who might be thinking about misbehaving - if you commit a crime on SEPTA, we're most likely going to have it on video, and we're going to catch you." (SEPTA - posted 1/11)

NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY STATION RENOVATIONS: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the eighth signature proposal of his 2016 agenda: modernize and fundamentally transform the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, dramatically improving the travel experience for millions of New Yorkers and visitors to the metropolitan region. The Governor’s proposal includes a new approach to rapidly redesign and renew 30 existing subway stations across the system. It also includes a number of technology initiatives to bring the system into the 21st century, including expanding Wi-Fi hotspots, accelerating mobile payments and ticketing to replace the MetroCard, and providing USB ports on subway trains, buses and in stations to allow customers to charge their mobile devices. The Governor detailed this proposal at an event earlier today at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, where he was joined by MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast. “The MTA is absolutely vital to the daily functioning of New York City, but for too long it has failed to meet the region’s growing size and strength,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is about doing more than just repair and maintain – this is thinking bigger and better and building the 21st century transit system New Yorkers deserve. We are modernizing the MTA like never before and improving it for years to come.” “The MTA is committed to meeting Governor Cuomo’s challenge head-on, eliminating every possible inefficiency to deliver these improvements faster, better and at a lower cost,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said. “We’ll accomplish this by incorporating the Governor’s suggestions to use alternative delivery methods such as design-build, leveraging private-sector expertise through public-private partnerships, and streamlining our procurement processes to ensure the entire MTA is focused on delivering improvements to the people who rely on us every day.” "Once again Gov. Cuomo is stepping up on behalf of transit riders and transit workers," Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen said. "These projects will greatly improve the commutes for scores of riders and we're proud to be doing our part." More than six million people ride the New York City subway on its busiest days, and the Governor’s proposal is designed to bring rapid improvements to their daily experience while enhancing a system that is more than a century old. The Governor’s proposal introduces new customer-friendly initiatives and accelerates existing projects to bring meaningful improvements to the transit system that New York relies on. Transformative approach to station redevelopments The MTA will revamp the design guidelines for subway stations to improve their look and feel, then put them in place at 30 stations across the entire system which will be completely renewed. These cleaner, brighter stations will be easier to navigate, with better and more intuitive wayfinding, as well as a modernized look and feel. A list of those 30 stations is available here. The MTA will use design-build procurement to deliver the projects more quickly, at a lower cost and with better quality, as a single contractor will be held accountable for cost, schedule and performance. Stations will be closed to give contractors unfettered access with a singular focus – get in, get done and get out. Similar improvements will come to the Richmond Valley station on the Staten Island Railway, and the entirely new Arthur Kill station opening later this year will also feature many of these elements. These new processes and innovations will inform future improvements to stations on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad as well. Work on the majority of these 30 stations will be completed by 2018, and all will be finished by 2020, with timeframe for redevelopments from start to finish being reduced by more than 50 percent. On average, station redevelopments are expected to take between six and 12 months. Comparatively, under the previous piecemeal approach, station redevelopments relying on night and weekend closures could take two to three years or more to be completed. Embracing the digital future The Governor’s proposal also embraces innovation and accelerates the deployment of modern technology throughout the MTA system.
  • Wi-Fi and cellphone service: More than 140 underground subway stations already have cellphone, data and Wi-Fi service, and the deployment of this enormously popular amenity will now be accelerated. All 277 underground subway stations will have Wi-Fi service by the end of 2016, and cellphone service will be available in all of them early in the following year.
  • Mobile payment and ticketing methods: The Governor’s proposal also accelerates the process of bringing mobile payment methods to subways and buses, allowing riders to pay their fares by waving a cellphone, a bank card or another payment device over contactless readers. This will modernize the payment process, so customers can board buses and pass through turnstiles more quickly, as well as manage the value in their accounts online instead of on physical cards that can be lost or damaged. Subways and buses will start using contactless payment methods in 2018. The MTA will begin offering mobile ticketing on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad within six months and fully introduce it by the end of the year, giving railroad customers the same ability to buy tickets on their mobile devices. Railroad customers who also ride subways and buses will be able to pay their fares using a single app and a single transit account starting the following year.
  • Countdown clocks and real-time data: Other technological improvements included in the Governor’s proposal will install more countdown clocks and deliver real-time arrival data on all subway lines. Countdown clocks have proven popular on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and L subway lines as well as the 42nd Street shuttle, and the MTA will begin installing them this year on the 7 line as well as the lettered subway lines. The MTA will also accelerate delivering real-time arrival data for all 469 subway stations, which will be available on the MTA’s SubwayTime app and will be streamed as an open data feed for any developer to use.
  • Additional Technology Initiatives: The Governor’s proposal will also improve the customer experience aboard subway cars and buses with digital information screens, Wi-Fi hotspots and USB charging ports for mobile devices. Charging ports will be installed on 200 subway cars this year and 400 next year, while all new buses delivered starting later this year will have Wi-Fi hotspots. By 2018, some 1,500 buses will have Wi-Fi hotspots and USB charging ports, bringing a new level of connectivity and convenience to customers. A pilot program to install digital information screens on 200 buses will also launch this year, displaying information about upcoming stops and service alerts. The MTA this year will more than double the number of On The Go Travel Stations, the interactive digital touchscreen kiosks that provide real-time service information, maps, travel planning and elevator and escalator status within subway stations. There are 169 On The Go Travel Stations in 31 subway stations today, and another 190 will be added in more than 20 additional stations by the end of 2016. The MTA is also deploying Help Points, instant communication devices which provide direct lines to emergency assistance as well as service information, and are topped with a distinctive blue beacon light. Help Points are already installed in 250 subway stations and will be added to at least 130 more stations this year, with all 469 stations featuring them by 2017. To ensure a safe environment for MTA customers, deter inappropriate behavior and help prosecute criminals, more surveillance cameras are coming to the MTA’s fleet. All new buses will be delivered with cameras installed, and existing buses will continue being retrofitted. By the end of this Capital Program, 85 percent of the bus fleet will have surveillance cameras installed. The MTA will also test installing surveillance cameras in subway cars for the first time later this year.
Continuing to build and improve The initiatives announced today build on the state’s significant efforts to transform the MTA and its infrastructure, such as the Governor’s recent proposals to transform Penn Station and the Farley Post Office building into one, interconnected world-class transportation hub, and to move forward with a long-overdue extension of the LIRR. Additionally, the state is contributing $8.3 billion to help fund the MTA’s $26.1 Capital Program, which when combined with existing efforts will add more than 3,100 buses and 1,400 subway cars to the system, add four new Metro-North stations in underserved areas of the Bronx, begin construction on extending the Second Avenue Subway to East Harlem, and continue building the East Side Access project so the LIRR will be able to bring travelers into Grand Central Terminal. (MTA - posted 1/08)

NEW YORK GOVERNOR CUOMO'S PROPOSAL TO TRANFORM PENN STATION AND FARLEY POST OFFICE BUILDING INTO A WORLD CLASS TRANSPORTATION HUB: New York Governor Cuomo unveiled the sixth signature proposal of his 2016 agenda: transform Penn Station and the historic James A. Farley Post Office into a world-class transportation hub. The project, known as the Empire Station Complex, will feature significant passenger improvements, including first-class amenities, natural light, increased train capacity and decreased congestion, and improved signage to dramatically enhance the travel experience. The project – which is anticipated to cost $3 billion – will be expedited by a public-private partnership in order to break ground this year and complete substantial construction within the next three years. The original Penn Station first opened in 1910, and its underground areas have remained in continual use since then. In its current form, the station is designed to accommodate 200,000 daily passengers. In practice, it is the busiest train station in North America, serving more than 650,000 passengers every day, and is plagued by widespread pedestrian congestion and outdated facilities. The Governor’s proposal will address these current shortcomings and transform the facility into a modern, iconic gateway to New York that is capable of meeting the demands of increased ridership in the 21st century. “Penn Station is the heart of New York’s economy and transportation network, but it has been outdated, overcrowded, and unworthy of the Empire State for far too long,” said Governor Cuomo. “We want to build Penn Station to be better than it ever was, and that is exactly what we are going to do. This proposal will fundamentally transform Penn Station for the 21st century, and we are excited to move forward with the project in the days to come.”
  • Penn Station Redevelopment: The existing Penn Station facility, which lies beneath Madison Square Garden and between 7th and 8th Avenues, will be dramatically renovated. The project will widen existing corridors, reconfiguring ticketing and waiting areas, improve connectivity between the lower levels and street level, bring natural light into the facility, improve signage, simplify navigation and reduce congestion, and expand and upgrade the retail offerings and passenger amenities on all levels of the station. The new station will include Wi-Fi, modernized train information displays and streamlined ticketing. Several design alternatives will be considered, including major exterior renovations involving 33rd street, 7th avenue, 8th avenue, and/or Madison Square Garden Theater. Renderings of all of these options are available in the Governor’s presentation here.
  • Farley Post Office Redevelopment: As part of the Governor’s proposal, the Farley Post Office, which sits across 8th Avenue from Penn Station, will be redeveloped into a state-of-the-art train hall for Amtrak, the new train hall, with services for passengers of the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and the new Air Train to LaGuardia Airport. The train hall will be connected to Penn Station via an underground pedestrian concourse, and increase the station’s size by 50 percent. At 210,000 square feet, the train hall will be roughly equivalent in size to the main room at Grand Central Terminal. The new facility will offer more concourse and circulation space, include retail space and modern amenities such as Wi-Fi and digital ticketing, and feature 30 new escalators, elevators and stairs to speed passenger flow. The Governor’s proposal also calls for an iconic yet energy-efficient architectural design. A rendering from the inside of the proposed train hall is available here.
  • Public-Private Partnership: The simultaneous redevelopments will be advanced by a public-private partnership on an unprecedented scale, resulting in one holistic and interconnected world-class station. Solicitations to developers will be issued by the state (which owns the Farley Post Office) and Amtrak (which owns Penn Station) this week. Responses are due in 90 days.
The construction cost is expected to be in excess of $3 billion, including $2 billion to redevelop Farley and Penn into a world-class transportation hub and at least $1 billion for ancillary retail and commercial developments between 7th and 9th avenues. $325 million of this will come from government sources, including USDOT, Port Authority and Amtrak. Nearly all of the work will be funded by private investment, in exchange for an interest in the long-term revenue stream generated by the retail and commercial rents. (NY Governor Andrew Cuomo - posted 1/07)

CSX CUSTOMERS INVEST MORE THAN $2.2 BILLION IN 2015: In 2015, CSX (Nasdaq:CSX) worked with its customers to locate 107 new plants or expanded facilities on the company’s rail network or its connecting short line partners. These new projects comprise $2.2 billion in customer investments and are expected to generate approximately 1,500 new jobs in areas served by CSX.  “Strong customer investment activity in 2015 was driven by downstream energy projects spurred by low oil and gas prices, as well as a significant number of industrial and agricultural projects, which highlights the strength of CSX’s diverse business mix,” said Clark Robertson, assistant vice president, regional development.  “In addition to our own efforts to generate new business, our network touches some of the most competitive economic development areas in the United States, and we are grateful for the pivotal role that state and local economic development agencies play in aggressively competing for new industry. We appreciate and applaud their work to create new opportunities for their citizens.” Once these facilities are fully operational, they are projected to generate more than 143,000 new annual carloads of business for CSX. In addition to these projects that will be built over the next several years, in 2015 more than 75 customer facilities located on CSX began operations. Since 2000, CSX customers have invested more than $42 billion in rail-served facilities, creating more than 62,000 jobs across the company’s 23-state network. To support rail-oriented industrial development, CSX’s Select Site program pre-certifies properties that are suitable for manufacturing use. These sites meet rigorous criteria to increase development probability and reduce time and costs for CSX customers. Customers considering a new or expanded location can learn more about CSX Select Sites at http://www.csxselectsite.com or at www.csxindustrialdevelopment.com. CSX provides service via an extensive network that connects customers to nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population throughout the major East Coast and Midwestern metropolitan centers, and serves more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports. CSX can move a ton of freight nearly 450 miles on a single gallon of fuel and one train can carry the load of 280 trucks, reducing carbon emissions and wear and tear on public roads. (CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/07)

AAR REPORTS FREIGHT RAIL TRAFFIC FOR 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for December 2015 and all of 2015. Carload traffic in December totaled 1,219,443 carloads, down 15.6 percent or 225,477 carloads from December 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,179,907 containers and trailers in December 2015, down 0.7 percent or 8,502 units from the same month last year. For December 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,399,350, down 8.9 percent or 233,979 carloads and intermodal units from December 2014. In December 2015, four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with December 2014. This included: miscellaneous carloads, up 46.6 percent or 8,572 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 5.2 percent or 3,975 carloads; chemicals, up 0.7 percent or 963 carloads; and waste and scrap, up 3.3 percent or 510 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in December 2015 from December 2014 included: coal, down 27.9 percent or 81,625 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.5 percent or 16,240 carloads; and metallic ores, down 39.1 percent or 17,087 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were down 7.7 percent or 67,647 carloads in December 2015 from December 2014. Total U.S. carload traffic for 2015 was 14,266,204 carloads, down 6.1 percent or 911,823 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 13,710,646 units, up 1.6 percent or 213,432 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 27,976,850 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.5 percent or 698,391 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year. "Weaknesses in energy and manufacturing, as well as, world economic softening, had a negative impact on both carload and intermodal traffic in 2015," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Railroads can't do much about the macroeconomic environment, but what they have done and are doing is making sure they operate safely and efficiently to maximize their customers' opportunities to grow their own business. The nation's railroads are well positioned to serve their customers in 2016." Week Ending January 2, 2016 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 2, 2016 was 395,663 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.3 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 207,743 carloads, down 20.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 187,920 containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent compared to 2014. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 16.9 percent to 6,271 carloads; and chemicals, up 3 percent to 29,307 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included coal, down 35.3 percent to 67,002 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 24.7 percent to 18,367 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.3 percent to 12,213 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 2, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 280,388 carloads, down 19.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 236,558 intermodal units, down 0.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 516,946 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.8 percent. North American rail volume for 2015 was 36,440,659 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.2 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 61,856 carloads for the week, down 18.8 percent, and 42,516 intermodal units, down 6 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,064,950 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.7 percent. Mexican railroads reported 10,789 carloads for the week, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 6,122 intermodal units, down 12.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for 2015 was 1,398,859 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.1 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 1/05)

WEST DETROIT PASSENGER TRAIN BYPASS: Michigan Department of Transportation crews last week completed construction and testing of a new passenger-only rail line that allows Amtrak's Detroit Wolverine service to bypass the busy West Detroit Junction. The $15.8 million West Detroit track project was designed to create a safer, faster and more reliable route for passenger train service around Detroit. The project was funded in part by a $7.9 million FRA grant. (Progressive Rail - posted 1/04)

CLEVELAND'S RTA DEDICTATES NEW LEE-VAN AKEN STATION ON THE BLUE LINE: Officials from Shaker Heights and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) officially opened the new $5.4 million Lee-Van Aken Station – just steps away from City Hall and the Library. It is one of the busiest stations on the Blue Line. About 80 percent of the work was paid with federal funds. The station stayed open for much of the 18-month construction period. It began opening in phases in early October. The station is a key link in a plan to encourage enhanced vibrancy of the area through the historical connection to transit. The plan builds off of the existing strengths of the area, including the Municipal anchors, retail at the nearby Shaker Town Center, and new residential construction. “This project demonstrates what can happen when RTA partners with municipalities, civic organizations and private entities, all working together toward a common goal,” said Valarie J. McCall, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) chair, RTA board member and Chief of Government and International Affairs for the City of Cleveland. “In 2008, RTA and the City of Shaker Heights agreed on an innovative Shaker Heights Lee-Van Aken Tranist-Oriented Development Plan. Today, we are seeing the results,” McCall said. Joe Calabrese RTA CEO and General Manager said, “This new station and the redevelopment of this entire neighborhood speak to the success of transit-oriented development and what it means to a region. Public transit is connecting the dots once again and spurring economic development that would not be realized otherwise,” he said. The design was inspired by the quality of design in nearby buildings. The composition of the waiting pavilions, united by a trellis arch structure, creates a streetwall on the west side of Lee Road. The landmark Triumphal Arches celebrate events and people of Shaker Heights. (RTA - posted 1/04)

450,000 PEOPLE CELEBRATE WITH CP HOLIDAY TRAIN: RAISE MORE THAN 1.4 MILLION FOR FOOD BANKS: The 17th year of the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train program saw tremendous crowds, generous donations and big smiles as it etched its way across Canada and the northern U.S. With results continuing to roll in, the 2015 edition of the Holiday Train is on track to raise more than $1.4 million and more than 300,000 pounds of food for food banks and food shelves. Since its start in 1999, the CP Holiday Train has now helped to raise more than C$12 million and 3.9 million pounds of food for local food banks. The Holiday Train program shines a light on the important role food banks play in a healthy community. This year saw record crowds in many communities and estimated overall attendance of 450,000 people over the 23 days. "The Holiday Train is all about neighbours helping neighbours, and this year saw remarkable support for this important cause," said E. Hunter Harrison, CP's Chief Executive Officer. "Each year, we are humbled by the good work local food banks do in helping those in need in their communities. We are proud that we can help them deliver on that mission." Again this year, people attending Holiday Train events were encouraged to think about healthy options when donating food. Heart health education and awareness is a tenet of CP's community investment program, CP Has Heart, which focuses on improving the heart health of men, women and children in communities across North America. "Every year, CP's train of lights provides a platform to speak about the needs of North American food banks. This year they helped drive the message home not only about ongoing needs, but the ability for individuals to raise levels of health in their community by reaching in their cupboards for healthy donations," said Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director, Food Banks Canada Crowds at Holiday Train events were entertained by a number of musicians, including Wes Mack, Kira Isabella, Doc Walker, Kelly Prescott, Jim Cuddy, Devin Cuddy, and Chic Gamine. "We are so honoured to once again be part of a magical program that brings communities together to raise money for local food banks," said Chris Thorsteinson of Doc Walker. "You don't realize how much towns use food banks and how important it is to support them around this time of year until you travel across the country learning about the need." The Holiday Train's social media following, which now boasts more than 150,000 followers, was once again lively with thousands of event attendees sharing photos of how they captured the spirit. One particular photographer, Neil Zeller, caught the attention of an international audience with his photo of the train appearing to float in the sky as it crossed the Lethbridge High Level Bridge in the fog, with many commenting that it must be Santa's sleigh. To continue to support the Holiday Train and receive updates for next year's program, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @CPHolidaytrain #CPHolidayTrain. For additional information, photos, route map and downloadable pictures of the two trains, visit "All aboard: CP Holiday Train" To wrap up 2015, CP is pleased to announce the release of a behind-the-scenes documentary, chronicling what is required to run the program each year. Watch www.cpr.ca/holiday-train online and follow our social media channels for details on when and where the documentary will air. (CP - posted 12/31)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 26, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 26, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 391,107 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Dec. 26 were 206,903 carloads, down 17.9 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 184,204 containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent compared to 2014. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 17.8 percent to 6,273 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 12.8 percent to 13,229 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included coal, down 31.6 percent to 70,350 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 26.2 percent to 10,537 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 26.1 percent to 17,001 carloads. For the first 51 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,058,461 carloads, down 5.8 percent from the same point last year; and 13,522,726 intermodal units, up 1.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 51 weeks of 2015 was 27,581,187 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Dec. 26, 2015, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 281,217 carloads, down 16.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 234,893 intermodal units, up 0.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 516,110 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 51 weeks of 2015 was 35,923,713 carloads and intermodal units, down 2 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 61,354 carloads for the week, down 13.4 percent, and 42,647 intermodal units, down 2.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 51 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,960,578 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 12,960 carloads for the week, down 12 percent compared with the same week last year, and 8,042 intermodal units, down 12.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 51 weeks of 2015 was 1,381,948 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 12/30)

CP DISAPPOINTED WITH NORFOLK SOUTHERN RESPONSE, WILL REVIEW STATEGIC ALTERNATIVES: Canadian Pacific is disappointed that Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS) has rejected without engaging in a dialogue CP's enhanced offer of Dec. 16 to create a truly transcontinental railroad to better serve customers and the economy. CP remains confident that a CP-NS combination would secure regulatory approval as a seamless coast-to-coast single-haul service benefits shippers, the industry and the public, and would generate tremendous shareholder value.  It is apparent that neither the executive leadership at NS nor its board of directors are willing to sit down in an open and constructive dialogue about this transformational opportunity and that the interests of the NS board are not aligned with the best interests of NS shareholders. Therefore CP will review its strategic alternatives. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/28)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 19, 2015: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 525,555 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Dec. 19 were 262,070 carloads, down 14.9 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,485 containers and trailers, down 3.5 percent compared to 2014. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 38.3 percent to 10,718 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 12.9 percent to 19,773 carloads; and chemicals, up 6.1 percent to 31,187 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included coal, down 29.9 percent to 85,021 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 25.3 percent to 20,647 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.7 percent to 13,137 carloads. For the first 50 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,851,558 carloads, down 5.6 percent from the same point last year; and 13,338,522 intermodal units, up 1.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 50 weeks of 2015 was 27,190,080 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Dec. 19, 2015, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 353,391 carloads, down 13.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 330,120 intermodal units, down 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 683,511 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 50 weeks of 2015 was 35,407,603 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.9 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 74,224 carloads for the week, down 13.6 percent, and 57,502 intermodal units, down 6.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 50 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,856,577 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,097 carloads for the week, up 10.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,133 intermodal units, down 14.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 50 weeks of 2015 was 1,360,946 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 12/24)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOARD OF DIRECTORS UNANIMOUSLY REJECTS PUBLICLY DISCLOSED, REVISED PROPOSAL FROM CANADIAN PACIFIC: Norfolk Southern Corporation (“the Company”) today announced that its board of directors has unanimously rejected Canadian Pacific’s Dec. 16, 2015, publicly disclosed, revised proposal to acquire the Company for $32.86 in cash, a fixed exchange ratio of 0.451 shares in a new company that would own Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern, and 0.451 of a Contingent Value Right. The following is the text of the letter that was sent on Dec. 23, 2015, to Canadian Pacific’s Chief Executive Officer, E. Hunter Harrison, and its Chairman of the Board, Andrew F. Reardon. In a letter to Mr. E. Hunter Harrison, CP    Chief Executive Officer; and to Mr. Andrew F. Reardon, CP Chairman of the Board.... " The board of directors of Norfolk Southern has carefully reviewed your latest revised proposal, which you publicly disclosed on December 16, but have not otherwise communicated to us. That review was conducted with the assistance of our independent financial, legal and regulatory advisors. In its review, the board noted that the only change from your prior proposal was to include a Contingent Value Right (“CVR”). The board of Norfolk Southern has unanimously determined that your latest revised proposal is grossly inadequate, creates substantial regulatory risks and uncertainties that are highly unlikely to be overcome, and is not in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders. This would be the case even if the CVR had a value at the high end of the range suggested in your publicly filed presentation. In fact, our financial advisors believe that the CVR would trade at a significant discount. In addition, you have not addressed the significant regulatory issues that we have previously identified. We do not believe that your voting trust structure would be approved. As you know, our view reflects careful analysis by our regulatory experts and is fully supported by two former Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) Commissioners. You have a path to seek a declaratory order from the STB as to whether the voting trust structure that you proposed could work. The STB has clear, statutorily-established authority to issue declaratory orders to remove uncertainty, and there is precedent for it in the voting trust context. No involvement by Norfolk Southern is required for you to seek a declaratory order regarding the legality of putting Canadian Pacific into a voting trust under your proposed structure. Your decision not to seek an order shows a lack of confidence in your proposed structure. You continue to publicly declare that we are not “engaging” or “meeting” with you. There is no basis to meet until you both make a compelling offer and address the regulatory issues, which you have the ability to do by seeking a declaratory order. We also note your repeated public statements that you are not willing to increase your offer regardless of whether we were to meet. The Norfolk Southern board of directors is focused on protecting the interests of our shareholders. It would be inconsistent with the duties of the board to pursue a risky and uncertain offer that substantially undervalues the Company. Accordingly, the board of directors has unanimously rejected your latest revised proposal." This letter was signed by Jim Squires (NS Chairman, President, and CEO) and Steven Leer (NS Lead Director) (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/23)

NJ TRANSIT BOARD NAMES INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors appointed Dennis J. Martin as Interim Executive Director during a special meeting today. The appointment takes effect on Monday, December 28th. Mr. Martin will serve as interim Executive Director upon the departure of Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim this week. Mr. Martin is an experienced transit professional with more than 30 years of industry experience, specifically with NJ TRANSIT, and has served as Vice President and General Manager of NJ TRANSIT Bus Operations, General Manager, NJ TRANSIT Mercer, Inc. and General Manager, NJ TRANSIT Morris, Inc. since the fall of 2014. Mr. Martin served as Acting VP/GM of NJ TRANSIT Bus Operations from June of 2014 prior to his permanent appointment. Mr. Martin has strong technical and business qualifications with an impressive track record of hands-on experience in transportation, customer service, call center management, operations planning, scheduling, supervision, terminal operations, revenue security, project management, and emergency response. From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Martin served as Director of Terminal Operations for NJ TRANSIT Bus Operations, where he directed bus operations within the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the nation’s busiest transportation terminal, and was accountable for bus operations, on-time performance, lease agreements, ticket sales and revenue collection and security. During his tenure as Director of Terminal Operations, Mr. Martin led the evacuation coordination out of New York City during the August 2003 regional blackout and established temporary operations at the Meadowlands Sports Complex and directed on-street boarding of customers during the Port Authority Bus Terminal shutdown. As Senior Director of NJ TRANSIT Customer Resources from 2003 to 2011, Mr. Martin directed the development and implementation of corporate-wide customer service strategies including customer relationship management, provision of transit information, training, reward and recognition programs, data collection, issue identification, analysis and reporting. Mr. Martin also was instrumental in crafting and implementing a detailed plan to overhaul the Port Authority Bus Terminal staging for NJ TRANSIT bus operations, to provide a safe and more efficient traveling experience for NJT customers. This required multiple agency coordination as well as managing relationships with the Port Authority, private bus carriers within the facility and creating a tactical plan for effective and comprehensive communications to NJ TRANSIT customers. Mr. Martin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Rutgers University (NJ Transit - posted 12/23)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO CLOSED ASHTABULA COAL PIER: Norfolk Southern announced today it will consolidate operations of its coal docks located on Lake Erie in Northern Ohio. This change will streamline operations for customers while improving network efficiency and reducing operating costs for Norfolk Southern. NS plans to idle its Ashtabula, Ohio, Coal Pier and shift operations to the railroad’s Sandusky, Ohio, Dock. Ashtabula will continue to operate until all coal inventories have been transloaded, which is expected to be completed by May 2016. The facility will remain idled until and if market conditions warrant reopening. “Norfolk Southern is committed to providing shippers with an efficient transportation network, and we are actively addressing the industry-wide decline in coal volumes by streamlining operations and positioning our railroad for long-term success,” said David Lawson, NS vice president coal marketing. The consolidation will help Norfolk Southern achieve efficiencies by reducing capital investment requirements and employee headcount.  A total of 21 positions will be affected as part of the transition. These employees can apply for other positions at the company. Earlier this month 13 employees at Ashtabula were furloughed due to coal market conditions. Six employees will continue to oversee security and environmental systems at Ashtabula. Norfolk Southern has owned and operated the Ashtabula coal pier since 1999.  The facility primarily serves the thermal coal market, transloading coal from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to Canada and U.S. destinations by ship. CSX also has rights to use the Ashtabula dock. “Coal has been – and continues to be – a significant part of Norfolk Southern’s heritage of service and success,” said Mike Wheeler, NS senior vice president operations. “Our customers depend on us to provide a high-performing, 21st Century transportation option that is safe, efficient, and reliable. Norfolk Southern is adapting to evolving market conditions by realizing efficiencies and optimizing our infrastructure to support long-term growth.” Ohio is a strategic part of Norfolk Southern’s 22-state rail network. NS operates 2,200 miles of track and employs more than 3,700 people in the state, providing connections to domestic and international markets for Ohio-based manufacturers and businesses.  In 2014, NS doubled the size of its Bellevue, Ohio, yard in a $160 million expansion project, creating the largest rail classification yard in the eastern U.S. (Norfolk Southern - posted 12/22)

BOSTON'S NORTH STATION HEAD HOUSE TO BE DEMOLISHED: Due to construction about to begin on the site of the former Boston Garden, the existing MBTA head house will be closed on Jan 2. Commuters should be aware that covered ADA accessible walkways will be put in place for MBTA customers until the developer's project is completed in December 2018. The head house closure and demolition is needed to allow for construction of a direct connection between the Orange and Green Line Stations and the east lobby of North Station Commuter Rail. Once built, it will have long-lasting benefits for T customers, who will never again have to walk outside in extreme weather, nor cross the street to get from one station to another (as is now the case). The developers have coordinated with T personnel to ensure safe and convenient pedestrian flow between North Station and the Green and Orange Line stations. In the interim, pedestrians will be asked to use the other entrances/exits at the Orange/Green Line Station and cross Causeway Street at the designated crosswalks. Signs will be posted and as work zones change, the signage will change accordingly. Pedestrian travel paths will remain the same for the majority of the project, except for some minor adjustments that will occur throughout the course of the project. The changes will be announced well in advance and appropriate sinage will be put in place. Entrances to North Station Commuter Rail station and waiting area will remain open throughout the duration of the project. Extra MBTA Customer Service personnel will be on duty for the first month or more of the head house closure to help any customers who may need assistance. When finished, there will be a covered, underground connection from the commuter rail to the subway and a new entrance to North Station via Causeway Street. The overall development project includes 210,000 square feet of retail, 700,000 square feet of office space, 440 residential units and a 260-room hotel. Construction is being performed by John Moriarty & Associates (JMA). (MBTA - posted 12/22)

CP REITERTATES CALL FOR CONSISTENT, EFFICIENT SERVICE SOLUTION FOR CHICAGO" Canadian Pacific today reiterated that a coast-to-coast railway combination would not only alleviate congestion in the key Chicago hub but would enhance fluidity and create new opportunities for competitors to provide improved service to their own customers, many of whom will receive no rail service at all during the upcoming holiday period. CP recognizes that the North American economy does not take vacations and many shippers require 24/7 service 365 days a year through Chicago, and thanks to CP's dedicated and hardworking railroaders, CP can provide that service. But Chicago is where six of North America's largest railways converge, making it the busiest and most important freight hub on the continent. Local communities and businesses from Illinois to British Columbia to the Gulf of Mexico depend on the efficiency of Chicago's rail system and any lengthy disruption will impact jobs. CP also notes that the most vocal opponents to a CP/Norfolk Southern Corp. merger that would improve shipper optionality through and around Chicago will halt service for up to two full days during the Christmas period. Union Pacific Corp. will halt service through Chicago from 7:00 a.m. local time Dec. 24 to 7:00 a.m. Dec. 26. CSX Corp. will shut down from 3:00 p.m. Dec. 24 until 7:00 a.m. on Dec. 26 and Norfolk Southern will close from 2:00 p.m. Dec. 24 to 11:00 p.m. on Dec. 25. "We have a responsibility to our customers not to forget that gridlock in Chicago crippled the industry in the winter of 2014 and threatened to cripple the economy," said Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Operating Officer. "We need to work together as an industry to keep Chicago fluid and the economy growing, and innovation is the key." Beginning mid-December, the winter of 2013-2014 saw the third heaviest snowfall on record in Chicago, which coincided with the third coldest temperatures in the city's history. The combination of snow and cold wreaked havoc on Chicago's already congested rail facilities, forcing some railroads to suspend interchange operations for as long as two days well into January and backing up freight deliveries for months. A full shut down of service through Chicago by a number of railroads would prevent an agile response to sudden shifts in weather conditions and customer demand, and would further compound the impact of the severe winter weather that Chicago is known for. "Our economy runs year round and shippers must be able to get their goods to market in a timely fashion, regardless of the date or the amount of snow on the ground," Creel said. "Optionality, agility, efficiency and service are at the heart of our proposal and we urge all stakeholders to examine the benefits of a CP-NS combination." CP strongly believes that the combined railroad would offer unparalleled customer service and competitive rates that will support the success of the shippers and industries it serves, and satisfy the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and Canadian regulators. In addition to improving fluidity through Chicago, the combined company would provide other innovations, including a new approach to terminal access that would change the status quo in U.S. rail transportation. In the event the new company failed to provide adequate service or competitive rates, it would allow another carrier to operate from a point of connection over the combined company's tracks and into its terminals, providing an unprecedented alternative to the affected shipper. The new company would also give shippers the choice of where they can connect with another railroad along its network, bringing an end to the practice of "bottleneck pricing" in the U.S. while further enhancing competition. (CP - posted 12/21)

MULTIPLE CRITICAL PROJECTS ON 7 LINE MOVE AHEAD AS MAJOR 2016 WORK SCHEDULED: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has scheduled critical work in 2016 on the Flushing 7 Subway Line that will require weekend service shutdowns between Manhattan and Queens. The necessary work in 2016 requires fewer shutdowns than in previous years as reconstruction progresses and improvement projects near completion. Most of the track panel replacement work scheduled for 2016 will be on the three-track segment of the line, which will not require full suspensions of service since the presence of three-tracks allows trains to safely bypass work zones. This means fewer significant disruptions while track panel replacement continues. MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) has been making capital improvements on the 7 Subway Line over the past several years to increase the line’s capacity and reliability as ridership demand rises. Nearly every element of the line is being improved, from tracks through the replacement of entire panels of elevated tracks, to signals through the implementation of an updated communications-based train control system (CBTC), to the reconstruction and fortification of the storm-damaged Steinway Tunnel that links Queens and Manhattan. The extensive nature of the work on the Flushing Line necessitates service shutdowns to allow crews to access and work on equipment that is critical to safe train operation. The subway system’s around-the-clock operation and record ridership, particularly on the 7 Subway Line, make it challenging to restrict work to times of low ridership. NYCT is aware of the inconvenience caused by such disruptions and therefore makes every effort to schedule work around major community events such as Lunar New Year celebrations. The 2016 schedule takes into account the 2016 Lunar New Year celebration in early February and the Mets’ home game schedule when there is extra demand for service. “The growth of the Flushing Line matters greatly to the growth of Queens, and these projects are critical to the future of the line,” said James L. Ferrara, Interim President of New York City Transit. “Replacing old tracks means a smoother, faster ride for customers, and installing a modern signal system means less crowded and more reliable commutes. Improvements to any part of our infrastructure allows us to better serve all of our customers. This work may be a short-term inconvenience now, but every repair or improvement we make is a step toward a better Flushing Line and a more reliable subway system for all.” The major projects on the Flushing Line include the implementation of CBTC, a modern signaling system that is scheduled for completion in 2017. This multi-year $774 million capital improvement project replaces the existing 50- to 90-year-old signal system and allows for trains to run more reliably and frequently, thereby increasing line capacity and preventing problems associated with old equipment. In 2015, crews continued to install new wayside equipment including signal equipment, antennas, radio units, transponders, fiber-optic distribution panels and cable, telephone cable, and cable distribution boxes. Software was tested and installed for use at the 1st Avenue Interlocking; maintainer panels and cable servers were installed; new signal equipment along the track right-of-way was tested, and additional signal locations were prepared for future equipment installation. Workers also installed new electrical conduits, performed circuit breaker repairs, and removed old cables and signal equipment. In 2016, contractors will continue installing and testing CBTC equipment throughout the line. Much of the work in 2016 will involve the testing of installed equipment to prepare for the system’s 2017 launch. Once completed, the new system will interface with subway cars to allow for countdown clocks, increased operational flexibility and reliability, system safety improvements and increased capacity to run more trains per hour. NYCT also is replacing segments of tracks on elevated portions of the 7 Subway Line that are reaching the end of their useful lifespan. In 2015, NYCT replaced tracks east of 33 St-Rawson St and at certain points between Queensboro Plaza and Flushing-Main St, primarily working on three-track segments of the elevated line. In 2016, NYCT will continue this work between 46 St-Bliss St and 52 St, and outside Flushing-Main St. Such work is part of the recurring maintenance of the subway system as NYCT periodically checks every mile of track on every line and replaces tracks nearing the end of their useful lives. A major project affecting the Flushing Line that is scheduled for completion in 2016 is the reconstruction and fortification of the Steinway Tunnel, which was flooded by Superstorm Sandy’s record surge in October 2012. In 2015, crews continued to rebuild the tunnel’s deteriorated duct bank and bench walls, waterproofed the structure against future storms, replaced discharge lines with higher capacity pipes, raised drains and elevated pump rooms, replaced tracks and related infrastructure and other saltwater-damaged components, and built new supports for an emergency power generator. In 2016, crews are scheduled to complete the reconstruction of the duct bank, which will house new power and communications equipment for the 7 Subway Line. The completion of the Steinway Tunnel repairs will significantly reduce the need for future non-CBTC related service suspensions between Manhattan and Queens. The 121-year-old tunnel, however, is one of the oldest portions of the subway system and its narrow width cannot accommodate both trains and work crews, so any work in the tunnel necessitates service suspensions. The 2016 schedule included below represents scheduled weekend service shutdowns of the 7 Subway Line between Queensboro Plaza and Times Sq-42 St in both directions. Shuttle service between Times Sq-42 St and 34 St-Hudson Yards will be provided. During these disruptions, customers should be aware of alternatives that may involve service diversions, station bypasses, back-riding or longer wait times. Free shuttle buses will make all stops at Queensboro Plaza, Court Sq, Hunters Point Av, and Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av. NYCT also will operate regular E and G Subway service, and increase N and Q Subway service between Queens and Manhattan on certain weekends. This schedule is subject to change due to inclement weather, which prevents crews from working safely on exposed, elevated segments of the Flushing Line. In winter 2014-2015, snowy and icy conditions resulted in work cancellations, delaying construction progress and forcing the rescheduling of work weekends to later dates as availability allowed. As a result of unusually harsh weather conditions in early 2015, two weekends of service suspensions between Queens and Manhattan were added to the 2015 schedule, and a third has been added to the 2016 schedule. (MTA - posted 12/18)

SEPTA TROLLEYS 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 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:
  • Trolley #2336, operated on Route 15
  • Trolley #9052, operated on Route 10
  • Trolley #9030, operated on the Route 11
  • Trolley #9080, operated on the Route 36
For suburban riders, a decorated trolley on Routes 101 and 102 (Media/Sharon Hill Line) and car on the NHSL are also in service this season. If you're on Santa's nice list this year, you just might catch a "SEPTA Seasonal Special" on your ride. (SEPTA - posted 12/18)

OMINTRAX CANADA ACCEPTS LETTER OF INTENT FROM NORTHERN FIRST NATIONS: OmniTRAX Canada has announced it has accepted a letter of intent from a group of Northern Manitoba First Nations for the purchase of its Manitoba assets. This triggers a 45-day due diligence period in which both parties will work together to ensure that a purchase becomes a reality. With the line now in a stable position, OmniTRAX has the confidence to work with regional First Nations to change ownership in a way that will not only enhance self-reliance but also ensure the growth needed for the assets to be a success well into the future. “Having visited many communities along the rail line, it became clear to me that the rail line served as a utility for these remote communities and that for the line and the assets to truly succeed, First Nation participation in ownership and management was essential,” said Merv Tweed, President OmniTRAX Canada. This transaction will add to the already substantial economic development of the participating Northern Manitoban First Nations as well as maintain vital interconnectivity for all of the communities currently being serviced along the line. It adds a further boost to the enhancement of the railway and port as a major transportation infrastructure for the Northern region of Canada, enabling increased regional, continental and global trade opportunities. OmniTRAX Canada has agreed to work with the Northern Manitoba First Nations for a number of years ensuring a smooth transition and detailed knowledge transfer. The Federal and Provincial Government will be approached to participate in the process to support the purchaser and ensure the success of this historic transaction. Further specifics of the group and the transaction will follow in the New Year. (OmniTRAX - posted 12/18)

CN TO PURCHASE ITS COMMON SHARES UNDER A SPECIFIC SHARE REPURCHASE PROGRAM: CN (CNI) announced today that it will repurchase common shares under a specific share repurchase program (Program). The purchase will form part of the Normal Course Issuer Bid for up to 33 million shares (Bid) announced on Oct. 27, 2015 . CN will enter into an agreement (Agreement) with a third party to repurchase common shares through daily purchases that will take place from Dec. 29, 2015 , or upon the completion of the previous agreement to Feb. 29, 2016 , subject to a maximum of 4,356,000 common shares. Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement, and subject to the terms of an issuer bid exemption order issued by the Ontario Securities Commission (Order), the third party will purchase CN's common shares on the open market for its own account in accordance with the rules applicable to the Bid, for the purpose of ultimately fulfilling its delivery obligations to CN under the Agreement. The price that CN will pay for any common shares purchased by it from the third party under the Agreement will be negotiated by CN and the third party and will be at a discount to the prevailing market price of CN's common shares on the TSX at the time of the purchase. Information regarding the number of common shares purchased and aggregate purchase price will be available on the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR) at www.sedar.com following completion of the Program. Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement and the Order, all purchases made by the third party or its agents on the TSX or any alternative trading markets pursuant to the Program will be made independently of CN and will be made in accordance with the TSX rules applicable to the Bid, subject to limited exceptions as provided in the Order. In addition, CN and any non-independent purchasing agent acting on behalf of CN are prohibited from purchasing any common shares during the term of the Program. CN will acquire common shares from the third party pursuant to the Agreement as part of the Bid and such common shares will be cancelled upon purchase by CN. (CN - posted 12/18)

FLYING LIKE AN EAGLE: NEW ROUTE BETWEEN FORT WORTH AND DALLAS TO IMPROVE AMTRAK RELIABILITY: Amtrak has successfully concluded negotiations and changed the route of the Texas Eagle train between Fort Worth and Dallas. There are no missed stops or public schedule changes at this time for the daily service of Trains 21 & 22 between Chicago and San Antonio via St. Louis; Little Rock, Ark.; Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin, Texas. “This change puts Amtrak Texas Eagle passengers on a better route shared with Trinity Rail Express (TRE) commuter trains and avoids the freight train operations that were challenging our trains every day on the previous routing,” said Mark Murphy, Amtrak Senior Vice President and General Manager of the business line that includes the Eagle. “This route simplifies our movements through the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center and will improve reliability for more than 100,000 Amtrak passengers who use our Fort Worth gateway every year.” Mike Chandler, Amtrak Deputy General Manager responsible for the Texas Eagle, attended an event in Fort Worth to thank the team that worked through the complicated talks involving TRE, its parent agencies in Fort Worth and Dallas, Union Pacific and other carriers. Murphy and Chandler credited constant support for this improvement from TEMPO, the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization, and Texas Rail Advocates. (Amtrak - posted 12/17)

CANADIAN PACIFIC PROVIDES DETAILS OF CVR INSTRUMENT IN REVISED OFFER FOR NORFOLK SOUTHERN: Canadian Pacific today presented a revised, enhanced offer for Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS) that will give NS Shareholders the opportunity to receive for each share of NS US$32.86 in cash, 0.451 shares of stock in the combined CP-NS company, and 0.451 of a contingent value right, which will have a maximum value of US$25. CP is committed to this transaction, which would create a true coast-to-coast railway that enhances competition and generates significant shareholder value. To that end, CP has added contingent value rights (CVR) to the offer, which increase the overall value of the offer and also protect the value to NS shareholders going forward. A CVR is a highly liquid instrument that gives holders the ability to convert to cash at their discretion. This particular CVR protects the holder's value in the event that the value of the stock in a combined CP-NS is below US$175 a share at the date of payment. Each CVR would entitle the holder to receive a cash payment from CP equal to the difference between the CP-NS share price during the relevant measurement period and US$175 per share (with no payment in the event CP-NS share price is above US$175), up to a maximum value of US$25 a share. Under the CP proposal, the measurement period would begin on or about April 20, 2017 and would end on or about October 20, 2017 with shareholders receiving their cash payment on or about October 25, 2017. In the event of a full CVR payout, the total cash payment would represent an additional US$3.4 billion and CP is confident it would maintain an investment grade rating. (CP, Randy Kotuby- posted 12/16)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN COMMENTS ON LATEST PUBLICLY DISCLOSED, REVISED PROPOSAL FROM CANADIAN PACIFIC: Norfolk Southern Corporation ("the Company") today confirmed that the Company's board of directors will carefully consider the publicly disclosed, revised proposal from Canadian Pacific with the assistance of its financial, legal and regulatory advisors.    Norfolk Southern noted that the latest revised proposal provides for a Contingent Value Right ("CVR"). Other than the addition of a CVR, the latest revised proposal did not change any of the terms of the prior, reduced proposal dated December 7, 2015 that was previously unanimously rejected by the Norfolk Southern board, and did not address the substantial regulatory risks and uncertainties inherent in the proposed combination. As Norfolk Southern previously stated, if Canadian Pacific is confident that its proposed voting trust structure works, Canadian Pacific can seek a declaratory order to that effect from the STB now. The STB has clear, statutorily-established authority to issue declaratory orders to remove uncertainty, and there is precedent for it doing so in the voting trust context. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are acting as financial advisors to Norfolk Southern Corporation and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Hunton & Williams LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP are acting as legal advisors. (NS, Randy Kotuby- posted 12/16)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 12, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 12, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 544,975 carloads and intermodal units, down 8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Dec. 12 were 270,953 carloads, down 13.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 274,022 containers and trailers, down 2.3 percent compared to 2014. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 39.5 percent to 10,764 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 1.8 percent to 19,502 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included metallic ores and metals, down 27.2 percent to 20,935 carloads; coal, down 22.3 percent to 92,934 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 21.5 percent to 13,417 carloads. For the first 49 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,589,488 carloads, down 5.4 percent from the same point last year; and 13,075,037 intermodal units, up 1.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 49 weeks of 2015 was 26,664,525 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Dec. 12, 2015, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 360,775 carloads, down 11.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 341,402 intermodal units, down 2.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 702,177 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 49 weeks of 2015 was 34,724,092 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.8 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 73,531 carloads for the week, down 10.2 percent, and 57,493 intermodal units, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 49 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,724,851 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,291 carloads for the week, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,887 intermodal units, down 2.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 49 weeks of 2015 was 1,334,716 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 12/16)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN COMMENTS ON CANADIAN PACIFIC'S PRESS RELEASE: Norfolk Southern Corporation today commented on Canadian Pacific's response to the white paper prepared by former Surface Transportation Board ("STB") commissioners Francis Mulvey and Charles Nottingham. The Company noted that Canadian Pacific's response is flatly wrong on the facts and the law, including its statement that the former STB commissioners did not consider the specific voting trust structure proposed by Canadian Pacific. In fact, former STB commissioners Mulvey and Nottingham did consider that structure in their December 7, 2015 white paper. They opined that, "[n]o matter how CP executives are put in charge of NS management before the merger is approved, the STB likely would not be fooled into thinking that CP and NS are operating independently." The former STB commissioners also said they believe that any voting trust, however structured, is highly unlikely to be approved by the STB. If Canadian Pacific is confident that its proposed voting trust structure would satisfy the twin legal tests -- avoiding premature control and furthering the public interest -- Canadian Pacific can seek a declaratory order to that effect from the STB. As previously announced on December 14, 2015, Norfolk Southern rejected a revised, reduced proposal from Canadian Pacific to acquire the Company for $ 32.86 in cash and a fixed exchange ratio of 0.451 shares in a new company that would own Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern. After thorough consideration, Norfolk Southern's board unanimously concluded that the proposal continued to be grossly inadequate, creates substantial regulatory risks and uncertainties that are highly unlikely to be overcome, and is not in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are acting as financial advisors to Norfolk Southern Corporation and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Hunton & Williams LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP are acting as legal advisors. (NS - posted 12/15)

MBTA ACTS ON GREEN LINE EXTENSION CONTRACTS : Following a joint meeting of the MassDOT Board of Directors and the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB), MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola notified several firms working on the Green Line Extension project that the MBTA is acting to end their current contracts. The FMCB is also planning to restructure the MBTA's GLX project management team and is taking other actions, which will include appointing a new interim project manager. The moves follow a meeting yesterday at which the boards met to consider options for the project. Both boards had been earlier briefed on a Look Back review that identified flaws in the implementation of the construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) project delivery method. That review also found that unrealistic schedule demands drove decision-making and costs. The FMCB directed T General Manager DePaola to notify the MBTA's CM/GC (White-Skanska-Kiewit), the MBTA's Project Manager/Construction Manager (HDR/Gilbane), the MBTA's Independent Cost Estimator (Stanton Constructability Services), and the MBTA's final designer (AECOM/HNTB) of the decision. The decision marks the start of a transitional period, during which no new construction work will be awarded. During this time, however, much of the construction work that is already under contract and in progress will continue. As previously disclosed, the GLX project, as currently designed, will significantly exceed previous budget estimates. The FMCB believes that if the GLX project is to be built, the MBTA must (1) reduce the cost of the remainder of the project by aggressively adjusting its design, (2) accurately determine a budget, (3) determine the best means to procure and deliver the design and construction of the project, and (4) ensure sufficient funding by engaging multiple funding sources. "Today's actions are necessary steps to resolving the future of the GLX project," said FMCB Chairman Joseph Aiello. "The Look Back report has brought clarity to two important factors in this decision: first, the construction manager/general contractor project delivery method was not successfully implemented; and second, that we need a complete reassessment of the project's design, scope, and cost," said T General Manager DePaola. The current CM/GC project delivery method has proven to be impracticable to complete a redesigned and affordable GLX project. The current CM/GC contract and the statute that created this project delivery system combine to render the current process unworkable. Accordingly, the FMCB needed to recommend the full break from CM/GC and the associated contracts for this project. The FMCB has also directed that it must approve all GLX contracts and actions, regardless of value, over the next 90 days, as the MBTA moves forward with cost reduction, accurate budgeting and reprocurement efforts. The MassDOT board and FMCB will continue their consideration of options for the Green Line extension at a joint meeting scheduled for next Monday, December 14 at 1 p.m. (MBTA - posted 12/14)

METRO-NORTH HIRES NEW CHIEF SAFETY OFFICER: MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that it has named Justin R. Vonashek as the agency’s new Vice President of System Safety. The position will oversee all efforts to ensure the safety of its customers and employees as the Railroad continues to improve work practices and invest in new technology and equipment. Vonashek (pronounced VON-uh-shek) will report to Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti and work closely with MTA Chief Safety Officer David Mayer and MTA Sr. Advisor, Corporate Safety Initiatives Anne Kirsch. “Metro-North is committed to safety in all of our operations, and we are pleased to bring Justin on board to lead those efforts,” said Giulietti. “We look forward to the experience and insight he brings from having worked in major cities such as Boston and Chicago.” Before joining Metro-North, Vonashek was the Chief Safety, Security, Emergency Preparedness and Regulatory Compliance Officer at MBTA Commuter Rail in Boston. Aside from developing and monitoring safety goals for the organization, he was also responsible for ensuring compliance with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory requirements. Vonashek began his career at Metra in Chicago, in 2005, as a Transportation Specialist where he was responsible for over 200 train and engine service employees to ensure the safe and efficient operation of trains. He received various promotions while at Metra, eventually serving as Director of Regulatory Compliance from September 2011 until February 2014. “I look forward to collaborating with Metro-North’s team of men and women who have the institutional knowledge to drive change when it comes to safe and efficient operations,” said Vonashek. “It will be exciting to help advance the next generation of safety technology that Metro-North has already begun.” The Chicago native holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology and is currently working on a Master of Science Degree in Transportation Management. In 2013, he was named a Top 40 Under 40 award recipient by Mass Transit Magazine. Vonashek will begin at Metro-North on January 4, 2016. (MTA - posted 12/14)

PORT AUTHORITY BOARD ADVANCES EFFORTS TO BUILD CRITICAL TRANS-HUDSON PASSENGER RAIL TUNNEL PROJECT: The Port Authority Board of Commissioners agreed to partner with the federal government in the development of the vital Gateway Tunnel Project by creating a development corporation to oversee construction of the massive passenger rail project and meet the future needs of hundreds of thousands of riders. The agency's Board accepted the challenge from Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) to help oversee construction of a new trans-Hudson rail link to improve passenger rail service between New Jersey and New York, as well as along the Northeast Corridor. The Board authorized the Executive Director to consult with the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) and report to the board as soon as possible any additional steps, including any further study necessary to establish a development corporation that will oversee construction and execution of the tunnel project. The corporation will have board representation from New York and New Jersey through the Port Authority, and the federal government will be represented by the USDOT and Amtrak. A Port Authority designee will act as chair of the corporation, and the corporation will closely coordinate with key regional agencies, including NJ Transit. The Board's action also called for agency staff to work closely with the federal government to identify federal grants and maximize financing options, including the use of low-interest loans under federal programs, as well as finding ways in cooperation with NJ Transit to expedite needed environmental and other necessary approvals for the project. The existing Amtrak trans-Hudson tunnels are more than 100 years old and are in need of significant rehabilitation after they were inundated with seawater during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. With approximately 200,000 riders using the tunnels daily as part of the roughly 750,000 passengers on the Northeast Corridor, the tunnels are vital to the region's economy. If they were taken out of service for even one day, it is estimated that the cost to the nation would be $100 million in transportation-related impacts and productivity losses. "The Port Authority has been called on many times in its nearly 100-year history to develop and build great projects," said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. "Once again, we are asked to take a leading role in one of this generation's most important transportation project and we accept this responsibility. We will work closely with our federal partners to move this project expeditiously forward and will use the unparalleled expertise of our staff to see that it gets done." "It's absolutely essential for the region that we move forward as quickly as possible in constructing a new rail link between the New York and New Jersey," said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. "With the federal government's commitment to pay for half of the effort, we are taking a big step forward in bringing this critical project to reality. With today's action, we have started down the road of creating the entity to receive federal grant funds and develop a plan to match this funding for the construction of a new tunnel." The Gateway Tunnel Project was jumpstarted last month by Governors Cuomo, Christie, U.S. Senators Schumer, and Booker when they reached agreement under which the federal government agreed to fund 50 percent of the project cost. The states of New York and New Jersey would provide the remainder of the funding. Today's Board action makes no funding commitment on behalf of the Port Authority and the agency's exact role in the construction, operation and maintenance of the project have yet to be determined. Commissioners Richard Bagger and Michael Fascitelli will oversee this effort as a working group of the Board to provide day-to-day guidance to the Executive Director and Port Authority staff in pursuing the Board's mandate. (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - posted 12/11)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT COMPLETES COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF AC SUBWAY LINES: MTA New York City Transit has completed a full, end-to-end review of the A and C Subway Lines, the fourth such comprehensive study joining previous reviews of the F, L, and G subway lines. New York City Transit (NYCT) examined all elements of the lines’ operations in order to improve service reliability, regularity, and customer convenience. Some of the recommendations in the review have already been implemented, and NYCT will continue to implement many of the recommendations over the course of 2016. Combined, the A and C subway serve 800,000 customers a day and the A subway lines connects with every other subway line in the system except the G subway line. The local C train serves stations from 168 St. in Washington Heights to Euclid Av in the East New York section of Brooklyn. A subway line service begins at 207 St in Inwood and ends at three terminals in southeast Queens: Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd, Far Rockaway-Mott Av, and Rockaway Park-Beach 116 St. The longest line in the New York City subway system, the A subway line stretches more than 32 miles between 207 St and Mott Av. “The A and C corridor is unique in that the A subway line splits three ways at its eastern end in Queens. It is also exceptionally long and merges several times with other lines. The combination of these traits along with increasing ridership has affected reliability,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “I am pleased that this line review has identified a number of opportunities to improve the customer experience on the A and C subway lines, with actions to improve service management and reliability, station access and conditions, and customer communications.” Findings and Recommendations - While A and C subway ridership has grown in recent years, average customer loads and service frequencies are within NYCT loading guidelines during both peak and off-peak hours with three exceptions:
  • Weekday crowding on the Manhattan-bound A subway line at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts in the later part of the morning peak between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
  • Long scheduled headways on the C subway line on early Sunday mornings
  • Long scheduled headways on the Far Rockaway A subway line in the early midday on weekdays
To address this, NYCT adjusted the timing of peak A subway service this week to meet increased ridership demand in the late morning peak and to even out customer loads on both the A subway and the C subway. By the end of 2016, timetables will be adjusted to decrease headways in Far Rockaway, and C subway service will be increased early Sunday mornings. In order to improve reliability on both lines in the coming weeks, NYCT will facilitate on-time terminal dispatching through new internal communications tools. Platform controllers will also be deployed to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts in the morning peak to minimize dwell times. By mid-2016, additional crews will be added to the A Subway Line, when feasible, further improving reliability by increasing the amount of time at terminals crews will have to make their return trips and ensuring that crews will be available for on-time train departures. Timetables will also be adjusted to better reflect actual running times in the morning peak and on weekends to provide more even A subway train spacing. The review also noted the opening of the South Channel Bridge south of the Broad Channel station in Jamaica Bay is a major cause of delays and major gaps in service on the A subway, as well as on Rockaway Park S subway trains. While there are currently short periods of time during the morning and evening rush hours during which the Bridge is not opened for maritime traffic, NYCT will work with the U.S. Coast Guard to expand these moratorium periods to cover more of the rush hours to reduce delays. Long-term plans call for improved communications infrastructure on the A and C subway lines. The review recommends prioritizing these planned communications upgrades, pending capital funding, with real-time information in upper Manhattan, new dedicated announcers in Downtown Brooklyn, and expanded information about the three A subway terminals in Queens with a focus on connections to JFK Airport. The line review uncovered opportunities to make entering and leaving stations more convenient at some A and C subway stations. NYCT will improve station access by reconfiguring entry and exit turnstile layouts, widening stairways, and opening new or currently closed entries and stairways, based on capacity needs, potential time savings, and the availability of capital funds. If funding is identified, NYCT will look to reopen closed entrances at the Franklin Av, 168 St, and 50 St (southbound) stations, where existing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance makes such work relatively cost-effective. Some other improvements to increase customer convenience, reduce travel times, and improve waiting conditions include the relocation of the stopping positions for C subwaytrains with signs on C subway platforms to better communicate where the trains stop to customers. Platform benches will also be added or relocated to enhance customer comfort. Planned capital improvements include upgrades to signals, train-tracking infrastructure, and the replacement of subway cars that are among the oldest in the system. The older cars that run on the A and C subway (R32’s built in 1964 on the C subway and R46’s built in 1976 on the A subway lack features found on newer cars but are nevertheless still in a state of good repair, and the review noted car problems are not a major cause of delays on either line. As part of the line review’s recommendations, NYCT has already swapped approximately half of the C subway train fleet for the newer R160’s. Upon delivery of R179 cars that are currently on order, the entire C SUBWAY fleet and a small portion of the A subway fleet will be replaced with the new cars. The remaining A subway R46 fleet will be replaced with the upcoming car order of R211’s included in the current proposed 2015-2019 capital program. (MTA - posted 12/11)

CN PLEDGES $5 MILLION TO ASSIST SYRIAN REFUGEES RESETTLING IN CANADA: CN today, accompanied by the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a $5 million donation to assist communities with the resettlement of Syrian refugees across Canada . "The humanitarian need is great and time is short to help welcome refugees arriving on our doorstep," said Luc Jobin , executive vice president and chief financial officer of CN. " Canada's business community has always been ready to aid those in need. We encourage other Canadian businesses to join CN in support of refugees looking for a better life." Minister McCallum said, "This is not a government project; this is a national project. Across the country, Canadians have been saying we need to do more to help Syrian refugees. Today I'd like to commend CN for its generosity in leading the way among Canada's business community. I look forward to seeing others rise to the occasion." Halifax Mayor Mike Savage , co-chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Task Force on Syrian Refugee Resettlement, said, "CN's support during this humanitarian crisis is a very welcome contribution to help address immediate and short-term needs of the thousands of refugees Canada will welcome in the coming weeks and months. We look forward to working with all orders of government on lasting solutions to the housing affordability crunch so that communities and newcomers are set up for success long-term." Robert Pace , chairman of the board of directors of CN, said, "CN is very active in helping to build stronger communities. I'm proud that CN is assisting Syrian refugees with their transition to a better life, filled with the same hopes for their families and children that all Canadians share." In the coming days, CN will join with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and other Canadian business leaders to direct funds to assist with housing and other needs of Syrian refugees. (CN - posted 12/11)

AMTRAK PRESIDENT AND CEO JOSEPH BOARDMAN PLANS TO RETIRE: Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman informed the railroad's board and employees yesterday that he will step down from his post in September 2016. By the time he retires, Boardman will have served as Amtrak's top executive for nearly eight years. During his tenure, the national intercity passenger railroad achieved record ridership and revenue, improved operating cost recovery, procured new equipment, enhanced and expanded service, and advanced critical infrastructure projects, Amtrak officials said in a press release. "When I look back at this time I see so many accomplishments and so many changes we made to make America’s Railroad a stronger, safer and a more important part of our nation's transportation system,” said Boardman in a letter to employees.  Boardman also said that he announced his retirement now so that the board members would have enough time to determine the qualities they want in the railroad's next leader. In addition, Boardman said he still has things that he wants to accomplish before he retires. Still on his to-do list are Amtrak's future order for next-generation high-speed trainsets; receipt and operation of all new ACS-64 electric locomotives that Amtrak has ordered; and the advancement of positive train control (PTC) on Amtrak-owned track in areas outside the Northeast Corridor. "There is no greater contribution that my generation of railroaders can make to the safety of our industry than full implementation of PTC," Boardman wrote. Boardman also said that he will work closely with the board in the selection of a new CEO. "I am confident that the time I have given the board they can achieve the goal of selecting a good leader for this company and provide a level of transition that a company like Amtrak deserves," Boardman's letter stated. Boardman, 66, was appointed president and CEO on Nov. 26, 2008. Prior to his appointment, he served as an Amtrak board member and administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).  Prior to joining the FRA, Boardman was commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation. He also is former chairman of the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Standing Committee on Rail Transportation. Boardman is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. (Howard Bender - posted 12/10)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT RECORDS HIGHEST MODERN ONE-DAY SUBWAY RIDERSHIP: Preliminary data shows the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reached a new modern record when 6,217,621 customers entered the MTA New York City Transit subway system on Thursday, October 29, 2015. The subway system carried 50,000 more customers that day than at its previous record peak, just one year earlier. “The relentless growth in subway ridership shows how this century-old network is critical to New York’s future,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Our challenge is to maintain and improve the subways even as growing ridership puts more demands on the system. We are doing it thanks to the MTA Capital Program, which will allow us to bring meaningful improvements to our customers, such as real time arrival information on the lettered subway lines, cleaner and brighter stations with new technology like Help Points, modern signal systems, and almost 1,000 new subway cars.” The new modern ridership record was set on the last Thursday in October, traditionally one of the system’s busiest days. The previous record of 6,167,165 was set Thursday, October 30, 2014. The new record day was one of five days in October when ridership exceeded the prior year’s record, and was one of 15 weekdays with ridership above 6 million. Daily subway ridership records have been kept since 1985, but the new record is believed to be the highest since the late 1940s. October 2015’s average weekday subway ridership of 5.974 million was the highest of any month in over 45 years, and was 1.4% higher than October 2014. Approximately 80,000 more customers rode the subway on an average October 2015 weekday than just a year earlier – enough to fill more than 50 fully-loaded subway trains. Ridership surged on the weekends as well, with the average weekend ridership higher than any October in over 45 years. On Saturday, October 31, 2015, the day of the Village Halloween Parade and a Mets World Series game, 3,730,881 customers rode the subway – making it the fifth-busiest Saturday on recent record. Ridership continues to spike in Northern Brooklyn, where portions of the A, C, G, J, L, M, and Z subway lines have added a weekday average of 14,733 customers since September 2014. The system has seen substantial growth south of Chambers St in Lower Manhattan, with more than new 12,357 daily customers added in the last year as new commercial and office continues to open in the area. Between 2010 and 2014, the subway system has added 440,638 daily customers, roughly the equivalent of the entire population of mid-sized cities like Miami, Fla. or Raleigh, N.C. More customers have led to additional crowding on some lines, creating conditions in which trains are more likely to be delayed, and delayed trains in turn affect more customers than in the past. As ridership continues to soar, performing necessary maintenance and improvement work while providing good service has become a growing challenge. Work that is typically done overnight and on weekends now affects more riders as ridership grows during these off-peak hours. The MTA has introduced short-term measures to improve train service this year, including Platform Controllers at strategic locations to help move customers on and off trains quickly, “step aside” boxes to encourage letting customers off the train before boarding, and staging more maintenance crews in locations to respond to problems quickly. In the longer term, the MTA is adding subway capacity by installing communications-based train control (CBTC), a modern signaling system that allows trains to operate more closely together. CBTC is in operation on the L subway line and is being installed on the 7 subway line, while the next MTA Capital Program will expand CBTC work on the Queens Blvd E, F, M, R and 8 Av A, C, E, and F lines in Manhattan and the F subway line in Brooklyn. When the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway is completed next year, it will serve more than 200,000 customers each day and decrease crowding on the adjacent 4, 5, and 6 subway lines lines by as much as 13%, or 23,500 fewer customers on an average weekday. (MTA - posted 12/10)



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