UPDATED JULY 30, 2014:
PURPLE LINE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS RELEASED:
The Maryland Department of Transportation/Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT/MTA) announced the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Purple Line, a light rail line to be constructed in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. MDOT/MTA is seeking to select a private-sector team known as a Concessionaire to design, build, construct, finance, operate and maintain the Purple Line during a 35-year contract term. Four teams, short-listed by MDOT/MTA in January, are eligible to submit proposals due on January 9, 2015.
“This is a significant milestone towards construction of the Purple Line, which will help us grow our economy, create jobs for Maryland’s workers, and strengthen communities in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties,” said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown. “Building the Purple Line as a public-private partnership will allow us to continue our commitment to fiscally responsible budgeting while using the knowledge and skills of the private sector to expand our transportation infrastructure.”
The Purple Line is a 16-mile light rail line will run east-west inside the Capital Beltway between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County with 21 stations planned that will provide direct connections to Metrorail’s Orange Line, Green Line and two branches of the Red Line, and the MARC Brunswick, Camden and Penn Lines. Estimated ridership by 2040 is expected to be more than 74,000 riders a day.
“The Greater Washington Board of Trade applauds the O’Malley-Brown Administration for continuing to advance the Purple Line,” said Jim Dinegar, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. “The Purple Line is one of the Board of Trade’s top transportation priorities as it will link important development centers inside the Beltway and provide a great commuting option that will attract new businesses and employees.”
The total project cost is $2.37 billion, with the private sector expected to invest between $500 million and $900 million. A combination of federal, state and local monies also will be used to fund the project. The Federal Transit Administration has recommended the project for a Full Funding Grant Agreement, providing $100 million in Fiscal Year 2015 and requesting $900 million for the project through its New Starts Program. Thanks to the passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, Governor Martin O’Malley added funding necessary for the state’s planned investment in the Purple Line of $350 million to $750 million. MDOT/MTA is currently working with Montgomery and Prince George’s counties on a combined local contribution of $220 million.
“The Purple Line will provide an essential east-west link as we strive toward the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s goal of doubling transit ridership,” said Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, Jr. “Advancing the Purple Line as a public-private partnership has resulted from a thorough evaluation and ensures that the taxpayers of Maryland receive the best value for their investment while maintaining our commitment to environmental stewardship, economic empowerment and community involvement.”
- posted 7/30)
FORMER ERIE RR STATION IN SALAMANCA, N.Y. DESTROYED BY FIRE:
The former Erie Railroad station in Salamanca, New York was destroyed by a fire on Tuesday morning. The building has been vacant since the late 1970s. The cause of the fire, deemed to be suspicious, is under investigation.
Salamanca Fire Chief Nicholas Bocharski stated “We’ve ruled out everything but human hand.”
(Alexander D. Mitchell IV
- posted 7/29)
MTA LIRR ANNOUNCES $3.4M IN SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS:
MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and Long Island Rail Road President Patrick Nowakowski today proposed a package of LIRR service investments including the restoration of weekend service on the West Hempstead Branch and the addition of two cars to six rush hour trains that are at or near capacity.
Some of the service improvements, including restoration of the West Hempstead weekend service, will be implemented as soon as this fall while others will occur in 2015. The $3.4 million package of improvements includes upgrades on Huntington, Port Washington, Babylon, Hempstead, Oyster Bay and Montauk branches as well service to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Barclays Center.
“Long Islanders rely on the LIRR, and adding service for our customers is an important part of our commitment to serve them,” Prendergast said. “More trains, more cars and more service mean fewer cars on the road and more options for everyone on Long Island.”
LIRR President Nowakowski said: "These investments will help address community and customer requests to strategically add service where it is needed most. We are especially pleased to be able to restore weekend West Hempstead branch service."
The proposals, which are contained in the MTA Preliminary 2015 Budget presented to the MTA Board today, come in response to continuing LIRR ridership growth as the region works its way back from the economic impact of the Great Recession. LIRR ridership has been above the prior year in eight of the last nine months, and in June, the LIRR, the nation’s busiest commuter rail road, carried more customers than it has in any month in almost six years. The trends have been favorable in both the commutation and non-commutation categories.
Other Proposed Service Improvements:
Weekend Service on the West Hempstead Branch <
Starting on Saturday, November 22, weekend service returns to the West Hempstead Branch for the first time in four years with trains running, as they had in the past, every two hours between West Hempstead and Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn with connecting service at Valley Stream and Jamaica. Service was cut in 2010 as part of an MTA austerity plan in the face of a large budget gap.
- posted 7/29)
Montauk Branch: There will be 10 weeks of extra weekend service on the Montauk Branch to response to demand from customers who continue to extend leisure and tourist travel on the South Fork beyond the traditional summer season. So, beginning in October, the LIRR weekend service to the Hamptons and Montauk will feature one extra eastbound train and one extra westbound train through the Thanksgiving Weekend. Then in 2015, the extra trains will be added to the schedule in May.
Beginning in September 2015, the LIRR will make extra summer weekend service between Babylon and Patchogue the norm in recognition that the village’s booming entertainment and restaurant activity has made it into a popular year-round weekend destination.
?Oyster Bay Branch:
Beginning in September 2015, the LIRR will add two trains to the weekend schedule on the Oyster Bay Branch, one in the morning and one at night to service city-bound customers.
Adding Cars to 6 Crowded Rush Hour Trains:
Beginning in November, the LIRR will add two cars to the following peak period trains to address crowding issues. These trains currently run between 91% and 99% of capacity every day. Train lengths will be increased on the following trains:
The 7:36 AM train from Hempstead to Atlantic Terminal Brooklyn will go from six to eight cars.
The 7:58 AM train from Bethpage to Penn Station will go from 10 to 12 cars.
Babylon Branch: The 8:03 AM train from Babylon to Penn Station will go from 10 to 12 cars.
The 8:35 AM train from Babylon to Penn Station will go from 10 to 12 cars
The 5:46 PM train from Penn Station to Huntington will go from 10 to 12 cars.
Port Washington Branch:
The 7:01 PM train from Penn Station to Port Washington will go from 10 to 12 cars.
Service to Atlantic Terminal & Barclays Center:
The railroad currently provides evening service to Atlantic Terminal specifically for events at the Barclays Center to meet the expanding schedule of New York’s fastest growing entertainment venue. The July financial plan now will reflect the additional cost of providing the added service to Barclays events 250 days a year.
CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES BEGIN TODAY ON DETROIT'S M-1 RAIL STREETCAR LINE:
Construction crews took to Woodward Avenue (M-1) in Detroit today to start construction activities on the city's new 3.3 mile modern streetcar line. M-1 RAIL is the first public streetcar line in the United States being supported by a public-private partnership comprised of foundations, corporations, and local, county, state and federal governments.
Construction activities began just after midnight when construction workers, led by the project's Construction Manager/General Contractor Stacy and Witbeck, Inc., began positioning traffic detour signage and erecting pedestrian fencing around the work zone.
As crews began work this morning, Roger Penske, M-1 RAIL Chairman of the Board, and Matt Cullen, M-1 RAIL President & CEO, visited the construction site with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan for a briefing on the first day of construction activities.
"The road to bring a modern streetcar line to Detroit began more than 7 years ago and today we've reached a major milestone," said Penske. "The people who live and work in this city have tenacious spirits. It's that passion and love for this place that gets projects like this moving. We are now on the path to revolutionize the way we move throughout the Woodward corridor and beyond," he said.
"Today we start building the foundation for the future of transportation in Detroit and in our region," said Cullen. He also spoke about strategies the M-1 RAIL team developed with its construction manager to minimize disruption to businesses, residents and visitors along the construction corridor.
Upon completion in late 2016, the M-1 RAIL Streetcar will travel north and south along Woodward Avenue for 3.3-miles between Larned Street and W. Grand Blvd. The streetcar will service 20 stations (16 curbside and 4 median running) at 12 locations. The modern streetcar will serve Detroit's largest job centers and most visited destinations including the city's business, educational, medical, cultural and entertainment hubs. It will ignite new economic development and job creation and will provide a foundation for improved and expanded public transit throughout the region. Projections indicate the streetcar will promote 10,000 new housing units and more than $3 billion in economic development along the M-1 RAIL route and neighboring side streets over the next decade. M-1 RAIL is the non-profit organization leading the design, construction and future operation of a 3.3-mile (6.6 miles round-trip) modern streetcar along Woodward Avenue between Larned Street and West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan. An unprecedented public-private partnership and model for regional collaboration, the M-1 RAIL Streetcar project is the first major transit project led and funded by private businesses and philanthropic organizations, in partnership with local, state and federal governments. Visit
for more information.
- posted 7/28)
MTA'S PROPOSED 2015 BUDGET AND FOUR YEAR FINANCIAL PLAN:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today released its Proposed 2015 Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan, which includes budget projections through 2018. The plan assumes an average $260 million annual increase to labor costs as a result of recent labor settlements, but the plan proposes to pay for those costs without increasing the previously announced 2015 and 2017 fare and toll increase proposals, which in February were reduced by nearly half to the rate of inflation.
The plan reallocates resources to pay for the increased labor costs as well as for a series of investments in new service, improved service quality and enhanced safety for customers and employees. The plan also contains sufficient pay-as-you-go capital funding to provide $5.4 billion in funding capacity for the 2015-2019 Capital Program. It benefits from $635 million worth of favorable underlying budget trends, including lower re-estimates of costs for fuel and electricity, debt service and pensions and higher than anticipated savings from Access-A-Ride operations, and higher-than-anticipated fare and toll revenue.
The MTA plans to invest $20 million per year in new subway, bus and commuter railroad service, as well as an additional $125 million over the four-year plan period for new operational and maintenance needs. These initiatives are detailed in separate news releases from MTA New York City Transit, the MTA Long Island Rail Road and MTA Metro-North Railroad. The budget also makes major investments in customer, employee and public safety which total $363 million over the four-year plan period. These investments are also detailed in a separate news release from the MTA.
The plan makes several long-term trade-offs to ensure revenues meet ongoing obligations. Over the four-year period, supplemental contributions to an LIRR pension plan totaling $110 million will be eliminated, though all actuarially-required contributions will continue. Also, $254 million will be withdrawn, and additional contributions totaling $533 million will be suspended for four years, from a discretionary fund for future retiree health benefits which has no mandatory funding level. The plan also reduces pay-as-you funding for the MTA Capital Program by $80 million per year, which is equivalent to a $1.5 billion reduction in Capital Program funding capacity.
The favorable budget trends and the management actions noted above allow the MTA to project a year-end cash balance of $162 million in 2014, which would be rolled forward to help balance the 2015 budget. A previous $255 million deficit projected for 2017 has been eliminated, and the 2018 projected deficit is reduced to $262 million. Fare and toll increase assumptions remain unchanged at 4% revenue increases in 2015 and 2017, which is broadly equivalent to the rate of inflation.
The MTA’s annually recurring savings, from a series of management actions that began in 2010, continue to play an important role in the MTA budget’s stability. The MTA expects to save $1.3 billion in 2015, a figure that rises to more than $1.5 billion in 2017. The savings expectations have increased with each consecutive annual budget since they were first introduced.
- posted 7/28)
NEW WIFI SYSTEM FOR MBTA COMMUTER RAIL:
Under a new license agreement signed by MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott, a state-of-the-art WiFi system will be installed throughout the MBTA’s sprawling network of fourteen Commuter Rail lines.
At absolutely no cost to the MBTA or its customers, inMOTION Wireless, Inc. will build a $5.6 million system that will expand and improve both the availability and quality of the existing WiFi service. The new WiFi service will also be provided on MBTA Commuter Boats and South, North, and Back Bay Stations.
“This is a very exciting time for our Commuter Rail system,” said General Manager Scott. “While the introduction of new locomotives and new coaches will continue to improve on-time performance rates, customer service initiatives like WiFi and eTicketing make the overall commuting experience an even better one.”
Under a 22-year license agreement, inMOTION will install, operate, and maintain a neutral, private, and dedicated WiFi network on all MBTA passenger coaches and ferries. MBTA customers will have free access to the internet, as well as a live television feed. Premium WiFi service, which allows customers to stream data and video, will be available for a fee of $15 per month. The MBTA will receive 7.5% of net revenue received from the WiFi program.
Nearly 140,000 passenger trips are made each weekday on the MBTA’s Commuter Rail network. Installation work will begin this fall, and the full system will be in place within eighteen months.
(Massachusetts Department of Transportation
- posted 7/28)
SEPTA BOARD APPROVES FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC BUSINESS PLAN:
The SEPTA Board approved a Five Year Strategic Business Plan for Fiscal Years 2015-2019. The plan is designed to serve as a blueprint for capital improvements, customer service enhancements, ridership growth and other initiatives.
With last November's passage of Act 89, the state's new comprehensive solution for transportation funding, SEPTA is embarking on a number of projects to catch up on its $5 billion backlog of critical capital projects, such as bridge replacements, power substation overhauls and new vehicle purchases.
The five-year plan has been shaped to articulate the Authority's vision for the future, focusing on the central themes of innovation, integration and renewal.
With innovation, SEPTA looks to shape business models that are adaptable to ever-changing technological and societal circumstances; integration aims to connect the region's mobility options; and renewal focuses on accelerating core infrastructure development. Corporate objectives such as safety, state of good repair and sustainability are prominent within each area.
"The financial support we're receiving thanks to Act 89 enables us to think critically about our vision for the future and address current needs," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "At the same time, we have to remain effective and efficient as we deliver service to our customers. This five-year plan provides guidance to help ensure we live within our means and properly manage our financial resources and assets, while also looking to ensure safety, expand ridership and rebuild SEPTA for the future."
The SEPTA Board's approval of the plan follows public meetings on the proposal and a public comment period earlier this year.
Five Year Strategic Business Plan
is available in the
section of SEPTA's Website.
(SEPTA - posted 7/25)
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 19, 2014 with 299,256 total carloads, up 7.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 267,675 units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 566,931 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.7 percent compared with the same week last year.
Nine of 10 of the carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including motor vehicles and parts with 15,882 carloads, up 46 percent; grain with 20,505 carloads, up 27.4 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products with 16,725 carloads, up 25.3 percent. The commodity that posted a decrease was coal with 113,120 carloads, down 0.4 percent.
For the first 29 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,308,888 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 7,393,468 intermodal units, up 6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 29 weeks of 2014 was 15,702,356 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 82,637 carloads for the week, up 11 percent, and 59,477 intermodal units, up 6.1 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 29 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,276,926 carloads, up 1 percent from the same point last year, and 1,623,187 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 16,252 carloads for the week, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,423 intermodal units, down 0.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 29 weeks of 2014 was 451,079 carloads, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year, and 291,525 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 29 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 11,036,893 carloads, up 3 percent compared with the same point last year, and 9,308,180 intermodal trailers and containers, up 6 percent compared with last year.
(AAR - posted 7/25)
NS REPORTS SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS:
"Norfolk Southern delivered excellent financial performance during the second quarter, reporting the highest railway operating revenues in its history," said CEO Wick Moorman. "We see continued strength across most of our business segments and are optimistic that overall economic conditions will drive growth. Our focus remains unchanged. We are committed to running the safest railroad, providing superior service, increasing efficiency, and driving superior returns to our shareholders."
Second-quarter railway operating revenues increased to a record $3.0 billion, 9 percent higher compared with the same period of 2013, driven by an 8 percent increase in volume.
General merchandise revenues increased 8 percent to a record $1.7 billion compared with the second quarter of 2013. Shipments of metals and construction, chemicals, and agricultural products fueled a 7 percent increase in traffic volume.
Coal revenues increased 7 percent to $672 million in the second quarter compared with the same period of 2013, with volume up 3 percent, the result of increased demand for utility coal from stockpile replenishment in response to a severe winter and higher natural gas prices, which offset lower export volume.
Intermodal revenues increased 11 percent to a record $650 million compared with the second-quarter 2013. Volume increased 11 percent, the result of continued domestic growth coupled with new international business.
Railway operating expenses were $2.0 billion, 3 percent higher compared with second-quarter 2013, principally due to costs associated with higher business volumes.
Income from railway operations for the second quarter was a record $1.0 billion, 22 percent higher compared with the same period of 2013.
The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, was a record 66.5 percent, a 5 percent improvement compared with the same period of 2013.
(NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 7/24)
GREENBRIER RESPONDS TO USDOT PROPOSED RULE ON SAFETY OF MOVING FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS BY RAIL:
The Greenbrier Companies, Inc.today responded to the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) proposed rulemaking on the safe movement of flammable liquids by rail, including crude oil and ethanol. While Greenbrier is examining the details of the proposed rulemaking and will provide full comments at a later date, Jack Isselmann, Vice President External Affairs and Communications today made the following statement:
"Greenbrier is pleased that Secretary Foxx recognizes the urgency of completing this rulemaking and we commend his stated intention to issue a rule in the next 60 days. A final rule will provide the clarity the industry needs to make investments that ensure that crude oil and other flammable commodities are classified properly and transported in tank cars that are safer at any speed.
We are also gratified that two of the three alternate new design standards proposed by the Department call for a 9/16-inch thick steel shell, a safety feature that Greenbrier has consistently championed with our next generation 'Tank Car of the Future' design. This design can better withstand the additional demands associated with operating unit trains like the high-hazard flammable trains identified today by the Department.
A two-year timetable for phasing out the use of older DOT-111 cars in the most hazardous flammable service is aggressive, but can be achieved through a combination of increased new tank car production and appropriate retrofit packages for tank cars that meet a more robust safety standard. Greenbrier is prepared to meet the need for tank car retrofits with our newly-launched joint venture for railcar repair and retrofitting, GBW Railcar Services.
We look forward to continuing to share our views with the Department during the comment period to ensure that the final rule meaningfully enhances public safety while protecting the competitiveness of America's rail network and the many jobs that depend on it."
(Greenbrier, Randy Kotuby - posted 7/24)
MASSDOT BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPROVES PURCHASE OF BERKSHIRE RAIL LINE FROM THE HOUSATONIC RAILROAD COMPANY:
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors has authorized MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey to execute an agreement to purchase the Berkshire Line from the Housatonic Railroad Company, a major step toward delivering passenger rail service between New York City and the Berkshires.
The agreement includes $12.13 million to acquire the line and an estimated $35 million for initial track improvements, funded by the 2014 Transportation Bond Bill approved by the legislature. The Berkshire Line extends approximately 37 miles from the Connecticut border in Sheffield through Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lee, and Lenox to Pittsfield, where it joins the CSXT Railroad main line.
“Studies have shown that a Berkshire County rail connection to New York City would be a winner, with more than one million rides annually,” said Secretary Davey. “This purchase and the initial upgrades in the line represent historic steps toward improved access to the Berkshires for tourists and residents alike.”
The initial track improvements will permit the operation of passenger trains but serve freight trains until the Connecticut portion of the project is completed. A final round of track improvements will be required along with improvements on the Connecticut portion of the line prior to the start of passenger rail service. The Transportation Bond Bill included $113 million for the purchase and Massachusetts portion of the track improvements.
A date for the beginning of passenger service is dependent upon completion of the upgrades in both states.
(Massachusetts Department of Transportation -
LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD STRIKE AVERTED:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, and United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon, representing a coalition of eight Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) labor unions, today announced an agreement to settle a four-year-old contract dispute between the MTA and the unions. The agreement provides the 17 percent wage increase recommended by the Presidential Emergency Board, and includes the first-ever healthcare contributions from the 5,400 workers that make up the eight unions while protecting commuters and the MTA’s long-term financial stability.
“The Long Island Rail Road is a critical artery in connecting the downstate region, and the men and women who keep it running play a vital role in the lives of our commuters and in the communities that the LIRR serves,” Governor Cuomo said. “Resolving this contract dispute is the right thing to do, and the agreement we have reached today is fair to all parties. It recognizes the many contributions of the LIRR’s hardworking employees, while also maintaining the fiscal integrity of the MTA. I thank everyone involved in these negotiations, especially UTU Chairman Anthony Simon and MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast, whose collective dedication to the needs of LIRR commuters made this agreement possible.”
“The agreement we reached today with the assistance of Governor Cuomo is just what he advocated – a fair and reasonable contract that will enable the nation’s busiest commuter railroad to continue to serve the people of Long Island,” MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast said. “Both sides have compromised to reach an agreement that gives our employees the raises they deserve while also providing for the MTA’s long-term financial stability. I want to express my thanks to all the LIRR employees who continued to provide safe and reliable service through these discussions, and to our customers who can now be assured of uninterrupted service.”
“Today’s agreement provides a fair and equitable contract for our existing and future employees and we couldn’t have gotten it done without the Governor’s help,” United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon said. “Our workers move hundreds of thousands of commuters a day and their services are integral to the New York economy. On behalf of 5,400 hardworking union members involved in these negotiations, I thank the Governor for his efforts, and the MTA for coming to a compromise.”
Under the terms of the agreement, based on the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board, existing LIRR employees will receive 17 percent raises over a term of 6-1/2 years. To ensure the long-term affordability of these wage increases, all employees will for the first time contribute to their health insurance costs, and new employees will have different wage progressions and pension plan contributions.
The contract will have no impact on MTA fares and will be accommodated within revisions to the MTA financial plan.
The tentative agreement is subject to approval by the eight Long Island Rail Road unions’ executive boards and ratification by their membership, and subsequent approval by the MTA Board.
(MTA, Randy Kotuby
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 12, 2014 with 290,607 total carloads, up 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 256,256 units, up 3.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 546,863 carloads and intermodal units, up 4 percent compared with the same week last year.
Nine of 10 of the carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including motor vehicles and parts with 16,615 carloads, up 64.7 percent; petroleum and petroleum products with 15,331 carloads, up 16.2 percent; and nonmetallic minerals and products with 40,193 carloads, up 14.2 percent. The commodity that posted a decrease was coal with 106,494 carloads, down 5.3 percent.
For the first 28 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,009,632 carloads, up 3.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 7,125,793 intermodal units, up 6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 28 weeks of 2014 was 15,135,425 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 82,720 carloads for the week, up 10.1 percent, and 59,611 intermodal units, up 9.5 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 28 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,194,289 carloads, up 0.6 percent from the same point last year, and 1,563,710 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 17,022 carloads for the week, up 10.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,304 intermodal units, up 9.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 28 weeks of 2014 was 434,827 carloads, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year, and 280,102 intermodal units, up 3.5 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 28 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 10,638,748 carloads, up 2.8 percent compared with the same point last year, and 8,969,605 intermodal trailers and containers, up 6 percent compared with last year.
SEPTA TROLLEY TUNNEL TO CLOSE FOR TROLLEY TUNNEL BLITZ:
Due to overhead wire, track and station improvement projects, SEPTA's Philadelphia Pa. Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 will not operate in the Center City tunnel from 10 p.m. on Friday, August 1 through 4 a.m. on Monday, August 18. Trolley service will begin and end at 40th and Market Streets. Trolley passengers can use the Market-Frankford Line for travel to and from Center City, as the repair work will not affect that service.
During the closure, SEPTA's in-house Engineering, Maintenance & Construction Division crews will work around-the-clock on key maintenance and construction tasks to improve safety and service reliability.
Members of SEPTA's Track Department will work inside the tunnel, as well as outside at the 40th Street Portal. Crews will weld together long rail strings and install more than 14,000 feet of new rail on the eastbound track of the tunnel from the Portal to 22nd Street Station. At the Portal crews will also replace two concrete-embedded track switches. This work will include demolishing existing concrete surface track and steel, constructing new track switches and pouring the new concrete surface.
SEPTA's Power Department will replace nearly 24,000 feet of worn overhead contact wire (the wire that provides electricity to move trolleys) throughout the tunnel and almost 5,000 feet of wire support assemblies and protection board (the system that attaches the overhead wire to the tunnel ceiling) on the westbound side of the tunnel between 19th and 30th Street Stations.
"This 'blitz' concept is used in the transportation industry because it allows organizations to maximize productivity during improvements projects while minimizing the period of inconvenience to passengers and communities we serve. This is especially true when there is a single track operation, like our trolley tunnel," said SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel. "Because the Center City tunnel is used 24 hours a day and is a five-mile, single track operation, it is difficult for our crews to get productive work windows. Without this blitz and 17-day closure, we'd have months of nighttime and weekend shutdowns to complete all of the projects."
Other work that will be completed during the trolley closure includes:
Major construction elements for the project were funded by Act 89, a landmark bill which was approved by the Pennsylvania legislature and signed by Governor Corbett last fall to provide a dedicated, long-term funding solution for transportation infrastructure in Pennsylvania.
Replacing worn track components and cleaning the track drains and stormwater system throughout the tunnel.
Completing maintenance work on the tunnel's signal system and on key components near 34th and Ludlow, where the Route 10 separates from Routes 11, 13, 34 and 36.
Testing back-up and emergency lighting cables.
Making numerous station repairs and improvements such as on stairs, lighting and platforms.
Performing maintenance tasks, including graffiti removal, painting and heavy cleaning at all stations throughout the tunnel.
BROOKHAVEN RAIL TERMINAL WARNS A LIRR STRIKE WILL BE ADDITIONAL LONG HAUL TRUCKS TO AREA ROADS:
A Long Island Rail Road strike will put 20,000 tons of goods and products and 800 long haul trucks back on Long Island roadways over the course of a month according to executives at the Brookhaven Rail Terminal (BRT).
Jim Newell, President of Brookhaven Rail, stated, "Based on the strategic role the rail terminal has played over the last 12 months to reduce regional truck traffic, air emissions and roadway wear and tear, our calculations show that Long Island needs to be prepared to see a return of at least 185 truck trips if the strike lasts a week. That calculates to tons of engine emissions from heavy truck traffic and the obvious additional congestion on a road network that will be way past the breaking point."
Newell said, "We are issuing an advisory to local and state transportation officials so that they can factor these numbers into their crisis management planning because the BRT has become a quiet but essential transportation asset in moving commerce onto Long Island over the last year. A strike will clearly shut down that role and exacerbate a terrible situation as 150,000 daily commuters queue up on the Long Island Expressway."
Currently the Brookhaven Rail Terminal daily unloads items ranging from construction material to biofuels and has created jobs for 55 transportation professionals. It welcomes approximately 50 rail cars a week, some from as far away as Washington State as part of the transportation system that keeps Long Island's commerce moving forward.
Brookhaven Rail Terminal was formed by local, established Long Island business professionals in conjunction with Brookhaven Rail LLC. BRT is the first multi-modal rail freight facility on Long Island to provide rail based shipping, warehousing and Logistic Services to this critical U.S. market. BRT is located at the geographic nexus of Long Island in Yaphank, New York - immediately adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and the Long Island Expressway (Interstate I-495), which provide direct rail and road access.
With Brookhaven Rail Terminal, Long Island companies and agribusiness now have increased access to world markets through BRT's connection to the national rail network. The ability to use BRT to ship and store commodities in refrigerated, climate-controlled and dry warehousing translates to lower costs, more flexible local service and a greatly expanded market reach. In addition, BRT's rail transportation shipping and warehousing services are keeping transportation costs competitive while significantly protecting Long Island's environment.
Newell concluded, "The environmental cost of a LIRR strike will be particularly dramatic as one rail freight car can carry the equivalent of four truckloads and railroads consume almost one-third less fuel than trucks per ton-mile moved. In addition one train can remove more than 280 trucks (the equivalent of 1,100 cars) from the L.I.E."
(Brookhaven Terminal, Randy Kotuby
FLORIDA EAST COAST UNVEILS NEW PORT EVERGLADES INTERMODAL TERMINAL:
Florida East Coast Railway, LLC (FEC) unveiled its state-of-the-art Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) adjacent to Port Everglades with a grand opening ceremony featuring an exclusive firsthand view of South Florida's new global gateway.
“We are excited to open this state of the art facility to serve our customers and the community,” FEC President and Chief Executive Officer James Hertwig said during today’s event, which was attended by more than 200 community and business leaders statewide.
“This ICTF is a shining example of a successful public-private partnership between the FEC, Broward County and the state of Florida,” said Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief. “This rail facility that we are welcoming today is an important link to our future.”
Port Everglades Chief Executive & Port Director Steve Cernak credited Broward’s Commission for having the foresight to plan for the facility 17 years ago. “The ICTF ensures that Port Everglades remains competitive with other U.S. East Coast gateways, and, most importantly, it will give our port a cost and time-to-market advantage over many of these gateways, thereby putting more and more South Florida residents to work as a result of the additional business opportunities it will generate,” he said.
The state-of-the-art 43-acre facility increases FEC’s available intermodal capacity from 100,000 to 450,000 lifts a year and the unique, near-dock intermodal facility will improve the transfer of both domestic and international containers between ships and rail. Currently, these containers must be drayed off-port to rail terminals such as the current 12-acre Andrews Avenue rail yard in Fort Lauderdale or to Hialeah rail yard in Miami-Dade County.
“The new ICTF is a huge win for the port,” said Florida Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Richard Biter. The State of Florida contributed $18 million in grants to the $72 million project and awarded a $30 million state infrastructure bank loan to the FEC. “The project will enhance the ports competitiveness and will provide savings on a per container basis by shifting cargo from truck to rail. The department is proud to work with everyone involved to make today a reality.”
The FEC ICTF will allow FEC to build 9,000-foot unit trains within the facility without blocking any city streets and will allow cargo to move through Port Everglades to/from Atlanta and Charlotte in two days, and Nashville and Memphis in three days. FEC’s connections to Class 1 railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern allow for rail service to 70 percent of the U.S. population within four days.
Additionally, having empty 53-foot domestic containers and trailers adjacent to the port provides more opportunities to trans-load import cargo from ocean containers to domestic containers for inland rail transport. This results in more domestic containers moving north as loads instead of empties, increasing the efficiency of our intermodal network.
The ICTF is expected to reduce congestion on interstate highways and local roadways because loading and offloading cargo will take place at the port as opposed to offsite facilities. As a result, air emissions will be reduced by diverting an estimated 180,000 trucks from the roads by the year 2029.
(FEC, Alex Mayes
CSX ANNOUNCES SECOND QUARTER RESULTS:
CSX Corporation today announced second-quarter net earnings of $529 million, or $0.53 per share, up from $521 million, or $0.51 per share in the same quarter of 2013.
For the quarter, revenue increased 7 percent to an all-time record $3.2 billion on volume growth of 8 percent, with strength across CSX's major markets. The higher revenues helped deliver record operating income of nearly $1 billion and an operating ratio of 69.3 percent.
"To propel service and capture growth opportunities, CSX is adding front-line personnel and making targeted investments in infrastructure and freight cars to efficiently grow our business and create competitive advantages for our customers," said Michael J. Ward, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "With the broad-based economic momentum we are seeing, the core earning strength of this company is improving and driving value for shareholders."
In addition to the positive economic environment, secular growth trends in the intermodal and oil and gas markets are contributing to CSX's expectation for modest full-year earnings growth in 2014. As it capitalizes on these growth opportunities and continues to invest in its service product, the company remains confident in its ability to sustain double-digit earnings growth and margin expansion for its shareholders beginning in 2015. The company also expects to sustain a mid-60s operating ratio longer-term.
These expectations are the foundation for the increase in this year's capital investment of approximately $100 million. The increase further enhances key infrastructure and adds freight cars to help drive long-term growth.
B&O RAILROAD MUSEUM ROUNDHOUSE REPAIRS TO BEGIN:
B&O Railroad Museum officials announced today that the decorative architectural woodwork
elements on the clerestory and lantern of the Museum’s National Historic Landmark Roundhouse
are in need of repair due to exposure to the elements. Scaffolding will be erected in the first weeks
of August 2014 and the work is scheduled to be completed in approximately 120 days. The
Museum will remain open on its regular schedule during the repairs and the visitor experience
should not be affected by the work.
The noted architectural firm Schamu, Machowski +Patterson (SM+P), noted that a series of harsh winters with extensive freezing and thawing along with hot summer sun, wind and rain have created significant deterioration of the wooden architectural elements that rise 125 feet above the ground. A regular inspection of the Roundhouse roof last year showed weather damage to the cornices, pilasters, window sills and painted surfaces. SM+P, who designed the building’s restoration work following the February 2003 collapse of the Roundhouse roof, will supervise the project. The massive slate roof and all of its structural elements remain in excellent condition.
Museum Director Courtney B. Wilson said “While these repairs are costly to the Museum they are essential to complete now so that the long term preservation of the National Historic Landmark building is assured. The Roundhouse, often called “The Cathedral of American Railroading,” is revered internationally and is the centerpiece of the B&O Railroad Museum along with its world-class collections.”
Through an extensive bidding and qualifying process the Museum selected Yerkes Construction Company to complete the project. Director Wilson noted that Yerkes has extensive experience in historic preservation projects and has demonstrated consistent quality and sensitivity in their work. All of the work consists of replacing damaged existing elements and will insure that the building remains faithful to its historic design and architecture.
( B&O Railroad Museum
MUSEUM VOLUNTEER KILLED AT A RAILROAD MUSEUM:
On Satuday, July 12, a volunteer employee at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, Wisconsin, was stepping off of a locomotive, at which time she slipped. The volunteer, identified as Linda L. Rowe, age 66 of North Freedom, fell beneath the train as it began to roll. She received fatal injuries as a result of the accident and was pronounced dead at the scene by the Sauk County Coroner. The accident remains under investigation by the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office.
(Sauk County Sheriff’s Office
NJ TRANSIT ADOPTS FISCAL YEAR 2015 OPERATING, CAPITAL BUDGETS
The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today approved a Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015) operating budget that holds fares stable for the fifth consecutive fiscal year, as well as a capital program that supports continued investments in infrastructure and equipment to maintain the system in a state of good repair and enhance the overall customer experience.
“NJ TRANSIT is moving forward with a balanced, fiscally-sound budget that holds the line on fares for a fifth consecutive year and continues to deliver the same level of service to our customers,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “We will continue to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible to best respond to the needs of the customers who rely on our service day in and day out.”
The Board approved a $2.019 billion operating budget and a $1.203 billion capital program for the fiscal year that started July 1, 2014.
Nearly half of the revenue in the FY 2015 operating budget comes from fares ($928.6 million), supported by a comparable amount from state and federal program reimbursements ($936.1 million) with the balance from a combination of commercial revenues ($113.7 million) and state operating assistance ($40.3 million).
The capital program funds continued state-of-good-repair investments in transit stations and infrastructure, supports an ongoing fleet modernization program and advances service reliability, safety and technology initiatives.
The FY 2015 operating budget reflects a stable level of state, federal and other reimbursements, which will enable NJ TRANSIT to hold fares stable this fiscal year.
Approximately 58 percent of the operating budget is dedicated to labor and fringe benefits costs. Other significant expenses include contracted transportation services, fuel and power, and materials, which together comprise approximately 28 percent of the operating budget.
This year’s operating budget reflects an $8 million (one percent) growth in passenger revenue, based on employment projections and ridership trends. Overall passenger revenue and commercial revenue represents approximately 52 percent of the total FY 2015 operating program.
The FY 2015 capital program continues to prioritize investment in infrastructure to maintain an overall state of good repair, enhance reliability and safety, and improve the overall customer experience on the system.
The program continues to invest in upgrades to the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the agency’s most utilized rail line. The NEC is allocated $76 million in FY 2015 as part of NJ TRANSIT’s ten-year, $1 billion Northeast Corridor investment program that includes funding for the new North Brunswick Station, the Mid-Line Loop—a new flyover track to improve Corridor operations and increase operational efficiencies—and upgrades to County Yard.
Highlights of the program include $46 million in rail station improvements, including $9 million for Elizabeth Station reconstruction, $5 million for Newark Penn Station improvements, and $12 million for projects to make Perth Amboy and Lyndhurst stations accessible to customers with disabilities.
The program also supports continued investment in rolling stock renewal, with $104 million invested in rail rolling stock improvements and $44 million toward the purchase of new buses.
Funding is also provided for technology and security upgrades, and rail, bus and light rail infrastructure improvements.
Approximately 40 percent of the capital budget comes from the Transportation Trust Fund, with the balance coming from federal and other sources.
BLUE RIDGE SOUTHERN RAILROAD AGREES TO PURCHASE ASHEVILLE, N.C. LINES:
Blue Ridge Southern Railroad (BLU), a subsidiary of Watco Transportation Services (WTS) has reached a definitive agreement with the Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC) to purchase three branch lines in North Carolina that feed into its terminal in Asheville. The lines are the T-Line, which runs west of Asheville; the W-Line, which runs south of Asheville; and the TR-Line which branches off the W-Line south of Asheville. BLU plans to file the appropriate paperwork with the Surface Transportation Board (STB), and could begin operations on July 26, 2014.
The BLU will operate 91.8 miles of track and will initially operate with 10 locomotives, seven SD40’s and three GP39’s.
“The Watco team is excited to go to work with our great partners the Norfolk Southern to deliver quality service to our Customers,” said CEO Rick Webb.
“We see this cluster of rail lines around Asheville as a growth opportunity for Watco,” said Stefan Loeb, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Watco. “We will have a marketing officer located in the community and will be looking to work with local communities to market the region.
“We pride ourselves in having a Customer First! focus on our short line railroads,” Loeb continued. “This means listening to the Customer, understanding their transportation needs, and then working together to deliver that service.”
BLU will immediately begin the hiring process to ensure uninterrupted service to the rail Customers. A series of meetings were held today and are scheduled to continue for WTS and BLU leaders to brief current NS employees on the transaction and explain the process for them to apply to become members of the BLU Team. The general manager and marketing officer will be named in the weeks ahead.
CSX COMPLETES $25 MILLION SAFETY AND MAINTENANCE JAMBOREE:
Over the Fourth of July holiday last week, more than 525 CSX employees were hard at work on the railroad, safely replacing about 68,000 railroad ties and 200,000 feet of rail, and completing nearly 120 miles of surfacing work.
These accomplishments were part of the 2014 CSX “Maintenance Jamboree,” an annual blitz that accomplishes about a year's worth of rail, crosstie, signal and bridge work into one week to reduce impact on customers and communities. In addition to CSX’s regularly scheduled maintenance and infrastructure work, during the Jamboree CSX crews undertook additional engineering projects that promote train safety, reliability and service, and benefit customers across CSX’s network. They also support community safety by helping to maintain smooth crossings where roads and highways meet the tracks at grade level.
“The annual Maintenance Jamboree is one more example of CSX’s commitment to investing in both the safety and reliability of our network to better serve our customers and the communities in which we operate,” said Oscar Munoz, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “This program depends on the dedication and hard work of our engineering teams, who work tirelessly through the holiday period to ensure our network can move customers’ freight efficiently and continue to connect American businesses to the global economy.”
The $25 million worth of work, which ran from June 30 to July 7, focused on CSX tracks and bridges across Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. Track work was concentrated on key routes between Shelby, Ky. and Greenwood, S.C. and from Bostic to Monroe, N.C. In addition to the track and tie work, CSX crews also converted several open deck bridges to more modern concrete ballast decks.
CSX has celebrated a Maintenance Jamboree since 1999, when a machine operator coined the term "Jamboree" to describe the mass gathering of maintenance-of-way crews and equipment in one area.
(CSX, Randy Kotuby
ALL ABOARD FLORIDA MOVES FULL STEAM AHEAD WITH
UNVEILING OF FORT LAUDERDALE STATION:
On July 8 Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief and Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler joined All Aboard Florida executives to reveal designs for All Aboard Florida's new Fort Lauderdale station, which was planned and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) in association with Zyscovich Architects. The downtown Fort Lauderdale station unveiling is the latest in a series of recent milestones and announcements made by All Aboard Florida as the project continues to move forward.
The Fort Lauderdale station will be located on 4.8 acres of land adjacent to the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) corridor on NW 2nd Avenue, between Broward Boulevard and NW 4th Street. Located at the northern end of downtown Fort Lauderdale, the nearly 60,000 square foot station and platform will stimulate a currently underutilized area, driving new visitors into downtown and the surrounding cultural, economic and shopping destinations.
Providing a new gateway into the city and all of Broward County, the Fort Lauderdale station will include a modern, multi-story lobby spanning an elevated passenger lounge area for travelers, and parking facilities. The station, located between NW 2nd street and Broward Boulevard, was chosen as it provides convenient connections to the Sun Trolley, Broward County Transit system, future Wave Streetcar and planned Tri-Rail station.
Each of All Aboard Florida's three planned stations in South Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach) will serve as both gateways to their respective cities, and as key portals and iconic destinations with ready access to places to shop, eat and connect. As part of the urban infrastructure of each area, the stations are expected to generate significant economic impact to the State. Economists estimate that All Aboard Florida will add more than $6 billion to Florida's economy over the next eight years, including $333 million in economic impact for Broward County through 2021. Nearly 800 jobs will be created in Broward County through the construction of the station and the rail line.
( All Aboard Florida
NJ TRANSIT TO EXPAND CAPACITY ON HUDSON-BERGEN AND NEWARK LIGHT RAIL LINES
Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and Newark Light Rail customers will enjoy a more comfortable ride in the future thanks to today’s approval by the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors to expand 35 light rail vehicles in the agency’s fleet. The innovative, expanded vehicles—which offer 50 percent more seating capacity than standard light rail vehicles—will be placed into revenue service starting in late 2015.
“We’ve heard from customers through surveys conducted as part of NJ TRANSIT’s Scorecard initiative that crowding on trains—particularly on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system—is one of their top concerns,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “Thanks to a successful public-private partnership, we will be able to offer 50 percent more seating capacity on our busiest trains at a fraction of the cost, enhancing the overall customer experience on both the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and Newark Light Rail systems.”
At today’s regularly scheduled meeting, the Board authorized an additional $54 million under NJ TRANSIT’s contract with Twenty-First Century Rail Corporation of Jersey City to extend 25 Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and ten Newark Light Rail vehicles, including spare parts.
In July 2013, NJ TRANSIT unveiled a prototype of the expanded light rail vehicle and launched a pilot program to test the vehicle by rotating it in service along the three segments of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system.
Since the launch of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail in 2000, ridership on the line has grown steadily. In the past eight years alone, passenger trips have doubled to more than 45,000 per day. To address the need for increased capacity, NJ TRANSIT partnered with Kinkisharyo International, LLC, the original vehicle manufacturer of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail’s existing fleet, and Twenty-First Century Rail Corporation to find an innovative, cost-effective solution that would not significantly impact the system’s infrastructure or require a costly investment in new rail cars.
Kinkisharyo came up with a design for an expanded vehicle that adds two additional sections to the existing light rail vehicle, increasing the number of sections from three to five. The additional sections increase the car length by 37 feet and expand seating capacity from 68 to 102 seats, as well as provide additional standing room.
Development of the five-section prototype drew upon existing resources and spare Hudson-Bergen Light Rail equipment, resulting in no additional cost to New Jersey taxpayers.
Retrofitting existing vehicles in the fleet with the vehicle extender represents a significant cost savings over the purchase of entirely new standard light rail vehicles. At approximately $1.55 million per car, the cost for converting vehicles is about one-third the cost of purchasing new vehicles at about $4.6 million per each. Further, more than 80 percent of the project costs are federally funded under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
(NJ Transit -
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 5, 2014 with 270,731 total carloads, up 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 227,097 units, up 10.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 497,828 carloads and intermodal units, up 9.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
All 10 of the carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including motor vehicles and parts with 14,608 carloads, up 53.7 percent; grain with 18,121 carloads, up 21.7 percent; and metallic ores and metals with 26,749 carloads, up 14.5 percent.
For the first 27 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,719,025 carloads, up 3.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 6,869,537 intermodal units, up 6.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 27 weeks of 2014 was 14,588,562 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 77,193 carloads for the week, up 12.4 percent, and 57,349 intermodal units, up 12.9 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 27 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,111,569 carloads, up 0.3 percent from the same point last year, and 1,504,099 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 15,338 carloads for the week, down 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,823 intermodal units, up 12 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 27 weeks of 2014 was 417,805 carloads, up 1.6 percent from the same point last year, and 268,798 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 27 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 10,248,399 carloads, up 2.7 percent compared with the same point last year, and 8,642,434 intermodal trailers and containers, up 6 percent compared with last year.
THREE ADDITIONAL AMTRAK CAF CARS RELEASED:
On July 8, at approximately 11:00 am, a special train consisting of P42 #79 pulling Diner #68000 Albany, Sleeper #62500 Portage River and unnamed Baggage-Dorm #69000 (with AmCafe #48154 and GP38H-3 #520 trailing the new cars) left the CAF plant in Elmira, headed towards Binghamton and Albany-Rensselaer.
The May 12 release of Baggage #61000 (See Pg. 9, July RAILPACE) had been the first Amtrak car to be seen leaving the CAF facility. With the three aforementioned cars having been outshopped, there is now a car representing each of the four groups comprising the 130-car order on Amtrak property. As with the #61000, it is anticipated that the three newer cars will undergo extensive testing prior to being place into revenue service.
(Andy Kirk -
MTA CHAIRMAN TO MEET WITH CONGRESS ABOUT LOOMING LIRR STRIKE:
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast today sent a letter to the leaders of Congress asking whether they intend to intervene in the ongoing labor dispute at the MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). Eight unions representing 5,400 LIRR employees have threatened to walk off the job as early as Sunday, July 20, and only Congress has the authority to prevent those unions from paralyzing the nation's largest regional economy.
Prendergast said the unions’ leadership has been unwilling to work constructively with the MTA to resolve the dispute because they believe Congress will intervene. While the MTA has made three increasingly lucrative contract offers to the unions, the unions have insisted they will strike unless the MTA meets all of their demands.
Prendergast sent the letter to Congressional leadership as well as the New York delegation after another unsuccessful negotiation session with union representatives concluded this afternoon. Prendergast will travel to Washington, D.C., tomorrow to discuss the MTA’s position with members of Congress and seek clarification of the role Congress intends to play.
CN DONATES LOCOMOTIVE TO EXPORAIL:
Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum, is pleased to announce the arrival of CN SW1200RS 7300. Exporail thanks its loyal partner, CN, for this generous donation that will fill several needs. This fully functional yard engine will be used to move rolling stock to prepare new exhibitions, present railroad demonstrations and pull the passenger train that offers visitors a fun ride on Sunday afternoons.
Since its opening, the Museum has acquired a number of historic pieces of equipment from CN for its collection of national interest. CN regularly supports the Museum's efforts to preserve, enhance and promote Canada's railway heritage.
Exporail's Executive Director, Marie-Claude Reid, is delighted with CN's latest contribution as it provides a reliable replacement for its old CN 30 locomotive, which finally ended its career after 30 years of loyal service to the Museum.
Reid is also very pleased that CN has confirmed it is providing substantial financial support for a planned railway safety-themed exhibition being set up in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver. The exhibition will cover a wide range of crucial safety issues, such as vigilance near railway tracks, technological innovation, and changes in safety practices and regulations.
Stephen Covey, CN's Chief Security Officer and Police Chief, said: "Operation Lifesaver is proud to join forces with Exporail to promote railway safety. This exhibition, which will been seen by many children and their parents, will give them the tools and knowledge they need to make prudent and smart decisions when they are near a railway track or other railway facility." Located on the South Shore of Montreal, Exporail hosts the largest railway collection in Canada with more than 160 vehicles, 10,000 artefacts, 200 archive groups and more than 1,000 scale models.
C&O 1309 WILL SOON DEPART THE B&O R.R. MUSEUM:
Soon Chesapeake & Ohio articulated steam locomotive 1309 will move from the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Md. to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad in Cumberland, Md.
On Wednesday Chesapeake & Ohio #1309 will be lifted onto flat cars for the move to Cumberland, MD. This Locomotive is special for several reasons. C&O 1309 was the last steam locomotive built by Baldwin Locomotive Works for a domestic railroad. Once restored, it will be the largest articulated steam locomotive in regular operation in the United States. Plans are to operate the locomotive every weekend from May - December. Articulated explains the front wheels movement around curves. This locomotive was build for tight turns and steep grades and is perfect for use on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. The WMSR would like to thank CSX for the donation of the move across their lines and the use of a flatcar, TTX for the donation of the use of 1 specialized heavy duty flat car, B&O Museum, and Hulcher for their help in planning and executing this magnificent undertaking!
AMTRAK SEEKING NEW HIGH-SPEED TRAINSETS :
With demand for high-speed rail service at record levels, Amtrak is moving to acquire new trainsets to supplement and eventually replace its aging Acela Express equipment currently operating on the heavily-traveled Northeast Corridor (NEC).
In a Request for Proposals (RFP), Amtrak is seeking up to 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets capable of meeting or exceeding current Acela trip-times on the existing NEC infrastructure. The new equipment is intended to have 40 percent more seats per train than current trainsets.
“The Northeast Corridor needs more high-speed rail capacity to help move the American economy forward,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “More and more people are choosing Amtrak for travel between Washington, New York and Boston. New equipment means more seats and more frequent departures to help meet that growing demand.”
Amtrak’s Acela Express service is as popular as ever. Ridership is up 7 percent over last year and trains are often sold out, especially during peak periods. On 25 occasions so far in FY 2014, the number of daily trips on Acela topped 14,000. That’s compared to five times in FY 2013 and is an indication of the value placed on the convenience and comfort of high-speed rail.
Current manufacturers of high-speed rail equipment, defined as manufacturers with equipment in commercial operation at speeds of at least 160 mph, will be eligible to submit bids. (Amtrak -
AAR REPORTS INCREASED TRAFFIC FOR JUNE AND FOR THE WEEK:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for June 2014, with both carload and intermodal volume increasing compared with June 2013. U.S. Class I railroads originated 1,177,655 carloads in June 2014, up 3.6 percent (41,310 carloads) over June 2013. Year-over-year monthly carload growth averaged 4.9 percent from March 2014 through June 2014, the highest average for any four-month period since December 2010 through March 2011. Total carloads averaged 294,414 in June, the highest weekly average for June since 2008.
Intermodal traffic in June totaled 1,077,385 containers and trailers, up 6.7 percent (67,967 units) over June 2013. The weekly average in June was 269,346 units, the highest for any month in history. In the second quarter of 2014, intermodal traffic grew 8 percent (253,921 units). The peak for intermodal traffic is generally in the fall, so look for more records to be set in the months ahead. Through the first six months of 2014, containers accounted for 88.4 percent of intermodal volume, a higher percentage than ever before.
Seventeen of the 20 commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw year-over-year carload increases in June, the same as May. Commodities with the biggest carload increases in June 2014 over June 2013 included crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 12,217 carloads, or 14.1 percent; grain, up 10,394 carloads, or 16.5 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, up 4,736 carloads, or 8.6 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 4,214 carloads, or 6.2 percent; and, primary metal products, up 2,753 carloads, or 6.6 percent.
“All in all, June was another good month for rail traffic,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “The fact that most categories of rail traffic were up in June, and that intermodal set a new volume record, supports the view that the economy is rebounding at a decent pace. Railroads will continue to do their part in ensuring this continues.”
AAR today also reported increased rail traffic for the week ending June 28, 2014. U.S. railroads originated 298,457 carloads last week, up 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year, while intermodal volume for the week totaled 264,766 units, up 6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 563,223 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
All 10 of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products, with 15,894 carloads, up 18.5 percent; grain, with 18,003 carloads, up 12.9 percent; and, nonmetallic minerals and products, with 38,684 carloads, up 10.7 percent.
For the first 26 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,448,294 carloads, up 3.2 percent from the same point last year, and 6,642,440 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent from last year. Total U.S. traffic for the first 26 weeks of 2014 was 14,090,734 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 83,442 carloads for the week, up 11 percent compared with the same week last year, and 58,786 intermodal units, up 9.1 percent compared with 2013. For the first 26 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,034,376 carloads, down 0.1 percent from the same point last year, and 1,446,750 intermodal units, up 6.1 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 16,287 carloads for the week, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,405 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 26 weeks of 2014 is 402,467 carloads, up 1.7 percent from the same point last year, and 257,975 intermodal units, up 2.9 percent.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 26 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 9,885,137 carloads, up 2.4 percent compared with the same point last year, and 8,347,165 trailers and containers, up 5.9 percent compared with last year.
(AAR - posted 7/03)
MTA WELCOMES INVOLVEMENT OF NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD IN ONGOING LIRR LABOR DISPUTE:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it intends to participate in talks with LIRR unions next Tuesday that have been scheduled by the National Mediation Board.
“We are eager to get back to the bargaining table through the National Mediation Board on Tuesday,” said Anita Miller, MTA Director of Labor Relations. “We are hoping the unions will come prepared to engage in substantive negotiations on our latest fair and generous proposal, which meets the demands of current LIRR employees by offering 17% raises, including $22,000 in average back pay.”
The unions could cause an LIRR labor stoppage as early as Sunday, July 20, under rules established by Presidential Emergency Board 245.
KEOLIS COMMUTER SERVICES BEGINS NEW ERA OF
MBTA COMMUTER RAIL SERVICE IN GREATER BOSTON:
At the stroke of midnight, Keolis Commuter Services officially began
operating the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's 14 commuter rail lines with a
pledge to increase on-time performance and improve safety, cleanliness and customer service.
In January 2014, Keolis Commuter Services, part of Keolis North America, won a highly
competitive bid for the $2.6 billion, eight-year contract to operate and maintain MBTA's
commuter rail service, which is the fifth busiest in the nation, serving 127,000 passengers daily.
"This is a momentous day for Keolis, our passengers and the communities we will serve,” said
Eric Asselin, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Keolis North America. "From
customer service to on-time performance, we pride ourselves in how we are always ‘thinking
like a passenger’ in everything we do. With the commitment of our employees and the input of
our passengers, we are dedicated to making one of the nation’s preeminent commuter rail
services even better.”
Keolis officials said passengers will begin to see changes designed to improve their travel
experience almost immediately, among them the launch of a staffed customer service center
that will be open seven days a week to provide assistance to customers. Passengers will also be
encouraged to share suggestions or concerns via a dedicated customer service Twitter account
@MBTA_CR and on Facebook.
Other improvements will include freshly cleaned trains and stations, new signage, and repairs to
damaged seats. New pocket timetables, featuring larger, easier-to-read system maps, are
distributing today at the major stations.
Keolis will also be introducing the first official MBTA Commuter Rail app which is designed to
make it easier for passengers to plan their journey. The first version of the app was released
today and is free and available for download for both Apple and Android devices. An enhanced
version will be released this fall, providing real-time information about commuter rail travel
times, a place to register lost or found items in trains and stations and other features designed
to enhance the passenger experience.
MTA METRO-NORTH RAILROAD DEDICATES RESTORED MAIN ENTRY VESTIBULE AT GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL TO JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS:
MTA Metro-North Railroad, the steward of Grand Central Terminal, today dedicated the Terminal’s fully restored, main entry vestibule at 89 East 42nd Street and Park Avenue (Pershing Square), in honor of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the former First Lady and iconic New Yorker who led the historic campaign to save Grand Central from destruction in the 1970s. The newly renovated and renamed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer opens to the public at 1:30 p.m. today.
Mrs. Onassis’ efforts with the Municipal Art Society (MAS) and other luminaries in New York City, including then-Congressman Ed Koch and MAS leaders Fred Papert and Kent Barwick, helped fight construction of a major office tower atop Grand Central Terminal during a lawsuit that was appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. It ruled in favor of preservation in a celebrated 1978 decision that marked the first time the Supreme Court ruled on historic preservation and led to the ongoing protection of other landmarks across the nation.
The major features of the historic restoration of the main entry vestibule include repair and cleaning of vintage glass lighting fixtures; fully renovated, cleaned and polished marble walls and floors, including removal and restoration of the inscription lettering over the doors leading into Vanderbilt Hall; extensive door refurbishments; a new, safety-enhanced, non-slip, entry mat banded with a brass border; energy-efficient lighting atop the cornices to help enhance illumination levels; and repainting of the walls and ceiling.
New features of the foyer include a plaque honoring Mrs. Onassis’ work to save the Terminal; the name rendered in bronze letters on the wall and painted along the arch leading to 42nd Street; and two display vitrines rotating digital imagery that recount Mrs. Onassis’ life and the 101-year history of the Terminal, including its preservation and renovation. The unique plaque, mounted on the foyer’s west wall, is 43” high and 18” wide, made of bronze with an artist-created bronze relief of Mrs. Onassis and a narrative describing her role in saving the Terminal. The historic restoration of the main entry vestibule at 89 East 42nd Street and its dedication as the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Foyer was performed for approximately $465,000.
“Grand Central Terminal, as we know it today as one of the world’s premier transportation hubs and one of New York’s top destinations in its own right, is the product of the men and women who built it. It is also the product of those who overcame great obstacles to preserve it for future generations,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “The rededication of the Terminal’s main entry vestibule to her is a fitting tribute to the woman who led those efforts, saving Grand Central during one of its most difficult hours.”
“The dedication of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer is a significant moment for Grand Central and for Metro-North,” said MTA Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti. “Mrs. Onassis is one of America’s most cherished historical figures, and she is considered by many a renowned savior of Grand Central. This landmark building, universally acclaimed as one of the world’s great public spaces, is still here today because of her leadership. Today, Grand Central Terminal recognizes Mrs. Onassis’ achievements.”
Renovation plans were initially conceived during Grand Central’s 2013 Centennial celebrations, when Metro-North was developing a “legacy project” that would make a permanent improvement to the space and recognize the crucial role Mrs. Onassis played in helping the Terminal reach its Centennial.
The plans for the foyer were reviewed by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, who served as Honorary Chair of the Centennial Committee and spoke at the Centennial celebration.
Randall J. Fleischer, Vice President of Grand Central Terminal and Corporate Development, said, “The main entry foyer is now a place that tells the story of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, along with the history of Grand Central. Peter Stangl, former MTA Chairman and first President of Metro-North, who served as Centennial Committee Chairman, helped inspire the foyer concept, and the employees of Metro-North renovated and enhanced the space to honor Mrs. Onassis and the Terminal.”
On the occasion of her death in 1994, Mrs. Onassis was remembered at a memorial in Grand Central Terminal, a tribute to her contributions to keep the place an iconic part of New York City.
Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913 on the site of the Grand Central Depot, which had been conceived by “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt family led the N.Y. Central Railroad in building the current Grand Central Terminal.
NEW WAREHAM CAPEFLYER STOP OPENS:
On June 26 General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott was joined by legislative leaders and local officials to celebrate the opening of the Wareham Village Station on the CapeFLYER line. Service to the Wareham Village Station will start today at the new stop, located off of Main Street in Wareham. Service will provide Wareham residents the opportunity to board the CapeFLYER and avoid sitting in traffic, while also allowing for thousands of customers to visit Wareham.
“I’m thrilled to see CapeFLYER expanding its service; meeting the growing demand for quick, stress-free, affordable transportation to the Cape,” said MBTA General Manager, Dr. Beverly Scott. “The MBTA and MassDOT know the value in transportation investment and Wareham Village Station is another example of our commitment to improve and expand service throughout the Commonwealth.”
In October of 2013, Governor Deval Patrick announced plans for a stop in Wareham to be added to the CapeFLYER route, and just eight months later the Wareham Village Station is ready for service. With design work beginning in January of 2014, the Wareham Village Station is now an intercity rail station that meets Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB) commuter rail requirements allowing for level boarding at all coaches.
“The Cape Flyer is an easy and enjoyable way to travel, and the opening of Wareham station makes it even easier for people from the South Coast get to the Cape and relax without having to stress about traffic” said Representative William Straus.
In its inaugural season, the CapeFLYER carried over 16,500 riders and generated $290,756 in fare revenue, while reducing traffic and emissions for thousands of tourists heading to one of the country’s most beloved tourist destinations.
“I am excited to see the CapeFLYER rail service begin to make stops in Wareham to expand tourism opportunities in Southeastern Massachusetts,” said State Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). “This service has already proved to be very positive for the region with its stops in Middleboro/Lakeville and Buzzards Bay and I look forward to the continued growth it promises our regional economy and to show off more of our beaches, shops and restaurants in the Wareham area.”
"The CapeFlyer has proven to be a tremendous option to bring people to Cape Cod to enjoy all that we have to offer while reducing congestion. We look forward to bringing more people to Wareham and giving people in Wareham a new option to get to Cape Cod without having to travel over the roadway bridges," said Cape Cod RTA Adminstrator Thomas Cahir.
The CapeFLYER is a unique partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. The MBTA’s innovative “mTicket” mobile app can be used to purchase tickets for CapeFLYER right from your smartphone. A roundtrip ticket from the new Wareham Village station to Hyannis is only $8 and from Boston’s South Station to Wareham Village is $35 roundtrip.
(Massachusetts Department of Transportation -
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 21, 2014 with 291,142 total carloads, up 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year. This was the highest week in history for total U.S. intermodal volume, topping the previous record set last week, reaching 272,553 units, up 7.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 563,695 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 17,677 carloads, up 15 percent; and forest products with 11,998 carloads, up 12.2 percent.
For the first 25 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,149,837 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 6,377,674 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 25 weeks of 2014 was 13,527,511 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 86,918 carloads for the week, up 13 percent, and 59,760 intermodal units, up 8.4 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 25 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,950,934 carloads, down 0.5 percent from the same point last year, and 1,387,964 intermodal units, up 6 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 16,765 carloads for the week, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,662 intermodal units, down 3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 25 weeks of 2014 was 386,180 carloads, up 2 percent from the same point last year, and 247,570 intermodal units, up 3 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 25 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 9,486,951 carloads, up 2.3 percent compared with the same point last year, and 8,013,208 intermodal trailers and containers, up 5.8 percent compared with last year
- posted 6/26)
METRO ANNOUNCES SILVER LINE OPENING DATE:
Washington Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles today announced the opening date for Silver Line service.
“We have set the opening date for the Silver Line as Saturday, July 26,” said Sarles. “The five new Silver Line stations will open to customers at noon, and the first Silver Line train will depart Wiehle-Reston East, bound for Largo Town Center, at that time.”
The announcement of an opening date follows two weeks of progress by the Airports Authority and their contractor to resolve open work items. Sarles noted that there are still remaining items — such as obtaining Certificates of Occupancy — that are expected to be resolved prior to the opening date.
Silver Line trains will operate between Reston and Largo at the same frequency as most other lines. During rush hours, trains will run every 6 minutes; at off-peak times, trains will run every 12 to 20 minutes. Five new stations will be added to the system: McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East.
To finalize employee familiarization and confirm schedules, Metro plans to conduct a week of “simulated service,” starting Sunday, July 20. During the service simulation, Silver Line trains will run on the system without carrying passengers to or from the five new stations. However, the “simulation” trains will carry passengers between East Falls Church and Largo Town Center.
As a result of Silver Line service, riders at stations from East Falls Church to Court House will see trains arrive more frequently at all times, and riders from Rosslyn to Stadium-Armory will notice more frequent service outside rush hours. On the Blue Line, trains will operate every 12 minutes at all times of the day, and during rush hours, trains at Vienna, Dunn Loring and West Falls Church, will arrive and depart every 6 minutes.
Riders can check fares and travel times, get station information and learn more about the project by visiting
Metro took control of the first phase of the Silver Line less than a month ago, on May 27. The milestone, known as the "Operational Readiness Date" (ORD), marked the point where care and control of the line was formally transferred from the Airports Authority to Metro
(WMATA, Alex Mayes
- posted 6/25)
TRAIN TRAVEL HOLDINGS ANNOUNCES PASSENGER RAIL SERVICES DIVISION:
Train Travel Holdings Inc. (OTCQB: TTHX), an acquirer and operator of passenger railroads, is pleased to announce the formation of a dedicated Passenger Rail Services Division, designed to provide support services and operational solutions to the fast growing commuter, regional transport and light rail market within the railroad industry. Passenger rail in North America is in the midst of a boom with no signs of slowing down as our country's population growth continues to surge. Passenger rail has shown more than double the growth of that in domestic aviation over the past 16 years, and market researchers expect this growth to continue. (DOT Aviation Data) TTHX believes that the market conditions and current privatization and outsourcing trends have created an unprecedented opportunity for an experienced railroad company. Train Travel Holdings Inc. has moved to take a strong position in this industry by entering a bid for the management of the highly publicized Hoosier State Intercity Passenger (HSIP) Rail system. Train Travel Holdings Inc. is currently one of the few finalists in this process. The Company is also working with municipal authorities in Ontario, Canada about operating and managing a key rail corridor there. The reauthorization of PRIIA in 2014 has given rail carriers that own infrastructure over which Amtrak operates intercity passenger service authorization to petition to be considered as a passenger rail service provider over the route, in lieu of Amtrak, for a period not to exceed 5 years. This new rule along with the desires of states which fund passenger rail routes within their states, will combine to open up a whole new opportunity for railroad companies like TTHX to participate in a variety of passenger rail operations and management well into the future. Commuter rail agencies have grown to over 400 across North America, each with the need to find rail service providers like TTHX. Additionally Amtrak has been charged with locating more companies in areas where they operate that can provide outsourced services.
Additionally, state and local governments, as well as the contractors who serve them in the commuter movement industry, are also seeking operators who can efficiently offer customer service level functions such as ticketing, customer assistance, concessions and food/beverage services, public transport vehicle operations and dispatch, etc. Train Travel Holdings Inc. is prepared to assume these functions as opportunities arise.
The strong growth of the passenger rail industry is fueled, largely, by economic considerations, as public transportation enables a commuter to save over $10,000 annually. (American Public Transportation Association) Gasoline prices are not expected to come down, and the cost of operating private vehicles can be prohibitive, so these savings are crucial to middle class households. These facts, combined with the projected growth in the U.S. population to 550 Million citizens by 2050, make passenger rail a growing and viable option for communities all over North America.
A second factor, and one that is gaining public support, is the lowered environmental impact of railroads versus private vehicle travel. A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household's carbon emissions by 10%, or up to 30% if he or she eliminates a second car. When compared to other household actions that limit CO2, taking public transportation can be 10 times more effective in reducing this harmful greenhouse gas.
"The railroad companies I have either founded or helped to grow over the past few decades have been very profitable, largely due the ability of Leadership to accurately identify railroad industry trends and take an early position, or exit point, that profited the company and its shareholders," said Laurence Coe, Chairman of Train Travel Holdings Inc. "I am pleased to be a part of just such a company at this time."
The objective of Train Travel Holdings Inc.'s Passenger Rail Services Division is to bring innovation, reduced costs, and streamlined management to each of our operations. State and federal governments are relying more on the private sector for the delivery and maintenance of the ailing elements of their infrastructure, as well as the innovation to increase ridership and passenger rail utilization. This is providing an opportunity for TTHX to expand further into the North American industry.
( Train Travel Holdings
- posted 6/24)
FIRST CRUDE OIL UNIT TRAIN DEPART'S POWDER RIVER BASIN'S BLACK THUNDER TERMINAL:
Meritage Midstream Services II, LLC (“Meritage Midstream”) announced today that the first crude oil unit train loaded at its Black Thunder Terminal departed the Wyoming terminal on Friday, June 20, via the Union Pacific railway. The Black Thunder Terminal, LLC is a joint venture between Meritage Midstream and Arch Coal (ACI). Served by both the Union Pacific and BNSF railways, the terminal is strategically located at the Black Thunder mining complex in Campbell County, Wyoming, in the heart of the Powder River Basin’s drilling activity.
The 99-car train is carrying 70,000 barrels of crude oil to a refinery on the East Coast for the terminal’s anchor shipper, Black Thunder Marketing, LLC. All of the train’s tank cars are new and meet the stringent safety standards adopted earlier this year by the American Association of Railroads.
The Black Thunder Terminal provides outbound rail-to-market optionality for crude oil production from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
Phase I truck-to-train transload service has been fully operational at Black Thunder since the beginning of March. Current transload capacity is 10,000 barrels per day. Landing and loading space is available. Construction of Phase II high-speed loading facilities is expected to begin later this year. The Phase II facility will include up to four 100,000-barrel storage tanks and a 15-car rack system capable of loading 15 to 18 cars per hour. Target total loading time is 15 hours. High-speed loading service is expected to be available in 2015. The terminal’s location at the Black Thunder mining complex provides ample room for additional expansion to meet customer needs.
(Meritage Midstream Services
- posted 6/23)
VIA RAIL SERVICE TO CHURCHILL SUSPENDED:
VIA Rail Canada was forced to suspend passenger train service between Gillam and Churchill, Manitoba on account of track conditions. Omnitrax, owner of the former Canadian National line to Churchill, attributes the unsafe track to severe permafrost. Both VIA Rail and Churchill town officials are waiting for Omnitrax to repair the railroad line. Churchill's short tourist season is dependent upon the passenger train.
(Bryce Lee - posted 6/23)
MASSDOT BOARD APPROVES SOUTH COAST RAIL PROJECT MANAGEMENT CONTRACT:
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors today awarded a $210 million contract for the South Coast Rail Project, officially moving the much-anticipated project from planning into construction.
“South Coast Rail will be a game changer for the region, providing a reliable public transit option for residents and businesses of the South Coast,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “This historic project will help create new economic opportunity in communities along the rail corridor, opening up the area for the kind of growth we are seeing elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth.”
The 10-year contract for Program and Construction Management with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB)/HNTB Corporation awards $12 million in first year funding to begin program management, early design development, and environmental permitting, with additional awards in succeeding years up to the contract limit of $210 million.
“We have already taken numerous steps to advance South Coast Rail, and this management contract moves us decisively from planning to design and construction,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “Public transit isn’t just about moving people from Point A to B. It’s about giving people access to employment opportunities, recreation and an improved quality of life. The South Coast Rail will help open those doors for the communities in that region.”
“From creating new jobs to supporting innovation and industry, the South Coast Rail project will provide a critical infrastructure link that will drive economic development in the region,” said Congressman Joseph Kennedy III. “As we work towards strengthening our local economies and tackling still stubborn unemployment rates, it is critical that we take the necessary steps to move this project forward. I’d like to thank Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey, MassDOT and the tremendous leaders on the ground in Fall River, Taunton and New Bedford who have tirelessly championed this important project.”
"The sooner construction on South Coast Rail gets underway, the sooner we will start to see the great, many benefits to our community," said Congressman Bill Keating. "With South Coast Rail comes job creation, expanded commerce and countless other economic opportunities, not to mention a state of the art transportation system for an area of the state that needs and deserves it. I wholeheartedly commend our state delegation for moving this critical infrastructure project forward."
“The MBTA request of $210 million to fund construction management of the South Coast Rail is just one more milestone in the marathon to complete this critical and important economic link to our region. Having worked tirelessly on this issue for many years, I’m excited to finally see real progress toward construction”, said Senator Mark Montigny. “Commuter rail service between Boston and the South Coast will continue to be my number one priority until the first train arrives.”
“The advancement to the design and construction phase of the South Coast Rail project is incredibly heartening to me and my colleagues, who have worked for years to make South Coast Rail a reality,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues. “Linking the South Coast to Boston means enhancements in job opportunities, economic development, and quality of life for so many residents. I am proud of the progress made so far, and I thank MassDOT and the Patrick administration for their hard work and dedication to this much-needed project.”
“The award of this contract signifies a new beginning for the South Coast Rail Project and is the next most logical step for those of us here on the Commonwealth’s South Coast who have worked to see the project come to fruition,” said Representative Patricia A. Haddad. “This will allow us, South of Boston, to increase access as other areas of the state now does and in doing so increase our region’s economic development opportunities.”
“This project will be a transformative development for New Bedford and Fall River, creating jobs and opportunities for those of us living in the South Coast, and improving the economy for all of Massachusetts,” said Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral. “Today’s contract represents an important step forward for South Coast Rail.”
“I thank the Governor for continuing his commitment to South Coast Rail by releasing this critical next phase of funding” said Representative Carole Fiola. “We have all worked long and hard to bring this economic engine to the South Coast and look forward to the day we too have commuter rail access to and from Boston.”
"There are few actions more important to the South Coast than the advancement of rail connection to Boston,” said Representative Paul Schmid. “I applaud this critical next step."
South Coast Rail will provide commuter service from New Bedford and Fall River to Boston South Station using the Northeast Corridor, Stoughton Commuter Rail Line, New Bedford Main Line and Fall River Secondary Line. The proposed service would be an electrified commuter rail system extending from Canton Junction to New Bedford and Fall River. The New Bedford to Boston route is 55 miles with a travel time of 77 minutes. The Fall River to Boston route is 52.7 miles and travel time of 75 minutes.
The project with a current estimated total budget of $2.3 billion will reconstruct 44 rail crossings and 34 bridges, in addition to four bridges and five crossings already in design as part of separate projects. New stations will be constructed in Stoughton, North Easton, Raynham Park, Taunton, Taunton Depot, Freetown, and Fall River. Current stations receiving new platforms include Canton Center, Easton Village, Kings Highway, Battleship Cove and Whale’s Tooth in New Bedford. All stations will be fully accessible.
The $12 million first year contract work will include program management, data collection including environmental site assessments, partial preliminary design, continuing of the environmental permitting process, and public outreach.
Wednesday’s South Coast Rail Program Management contract approval builds on numerous prior investments supporting the project, including:
The South Coast Rail project in restoring passenger rail transportation from South Station in Boston to the South Coast of Massachusetts will stimulate nearly half a billion dollars in economic development annually and deliver regional equity to the South Coast region. The cities of Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford are the only cities within 50 miles of Boston that are not served by commuter rail. South Coast Rail will provide a new, convenient travel option while creating jobs and improving the economy in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Visit the South Coast Rail website to learn more about the project:
(MASS DOT- posted 6/23)
Installation of approximately 42,000 rail ties and spikes beginning in 2013 along 33 miles of right-of-way leading to Fall River and New Bedford.
The Commonwealth’s purchase of 30 miles of track, Taunton to Fall River and New Bedford, from CSX Transportation.
Rebuilding of three New Bedford rail bridges funded by a $20 million federal TIGER grant.
South Coast Rail Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan strategic investments assisting 31 Corridor communities in preparing for passenger rail through sustainable development and appropriate land use.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN OPERATION LIFESAVER SAFETY TRAIN PROMOTES PUBLIC SAFETY IN DELAWARE AND PENNSYLVANIA:
Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver are bringing their Whistle-Stop safety train tour to Delaware and eastern and central Pennsylvania to stress the importance of public safety around railroad tracks.
The Keystone Whistle-Stop Safety Train starts in Delaware on Monday, June 23, and by Thursday, June 26, the train will have transited through communities such as Harrington, Dover, Newark, Pottstown, Reading, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Lewistown, Altoona, and Latrobe.
Since January 2011, Delaware has experienced 17 train vs. vehicle incidents at highway-rail grade crossings, and one pedestrian has been struck.
Over the same period, Pennsylvania has experienced 185 train vs. vehicle incidents. Between January and March 2014 alone, 21 incidents have occurred, compared with 9 during the same period in 2013. During this decade in Pennsylvania, 108 people have died while trespassing on railroad property and another 102 were injured.
“There is no more important time than now for public safety officials and entire communities to learn how people can stay safe and alive around railroad tracks and other property,” said Cayela Wimberly, NS’ grade crossing safety director.
“We need a strong partnership between the railroad companies and the communities to keep the public safe near railroad tracks, bridges, yards, and grade crossings,” added Thomas Algatt, state coordinator for Operation Lifesaver in Pennsylvania. “We need parents, educators, neighbors, railfans, and friends to spread the word – stay away from tracks, stay away from trains, stay safe, and stay alive. And we’re going to talk on the Keystone Whistle-Stop Safety Train about how you can have that conversation with the people you care about.”
The train includes two NS locomotives with the Operation Lifesaver logo displayed on their flanks, two vintage passenger cars, the NS Exhibit Car, and the NS Research and Test car. Passengers will include railroaders, Operation Lifesaver representatives, public safety advocates, and news media, all of who will observe via live video the train crew’s point-of-view as the train moves on the track and approaches grade crossings.
It’s the third such trip this year for Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver on the NS network. A fourth trip is scheduled in Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri later this summer.
(NS - posted 6/20)
MTA PROPOSES GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL FOOD HALL OPERATED BY ONE OF WORLD'S TOP RESTAURATEURS:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board next week will consider a proposal for a 16,000-square-foot food hall, restaurant and take-out venue in Grand Central Terminal to be operated by Claus Meyer, the world-renowned restaurateur who, with a young Rene Redzepi as headchef and partner, created Noma, in Copenhagen, ranked “Best Restaurant in the World” in annual surveys by Restaurant magazine in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
The most prominent component of the venture would be a market-style array of casual food pavilions in the western half of Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall, the Terminal’s majestic former main waiting room, at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. All structures associated with the pavilions would be temporary, movable installations so as to avoid impacting the nationally landmarked space.
There would also be a Nordic brasserie sit-down restaurant for up to 100 people in an adjoining rear interior space that is presently closed to the public, and an interconnecting to-go counter in Grand Central’s Shuttle Passage, currently occupied by Hot & Crusty bakery. Details about the food pavilions, restaurant, and to-go counter, including their names, interior design and menu offerings, will be released ahead of their opening, projected for early 2016.
“We are delighted to be able to consider welcoming a world-class restaurant that would enliven spaces that are currently either closed to the public or used only for special events,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “The historic renovations of Grand Central completed in 1998 have enabled us to improve the retail environment and increase the revenue we derive from the Terminal’s incomparable real estate, with each passing year.”
The value of the real estate in Grand Central has soared four-fold since the iconic building’s major renovations were completed 17 years ago as the MTA has activated previously unused retail space. In the past few years, well-known tenants have moved in, including the Apple Store, Shake Shack, Café Grumpy and Jacques Torres Chocolate.
Decades ago, Vanderbilt Hall was used by passengers waiting for long-distance trains. In recent years it has been used solely for special events and the annual Holiday Gift Fair. Metro-North Railroad and the MTA’s Real Estate Department have sought ways to provide a continuous and engaging customer experience in the space.
“We recognized that Vanderbilt Hall is an extraordinary space, but is underutilized and not living up to its full potential,” said Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti. “This phenomenal array of eateries will change that by drawing people into the space year-round and in so doing will make Grand Central even more grand.”
Metro-North held a design charette in October 2011 that was attended by New York City preservation, design and civic leaders who aimed to identify a lasting legacy that could result from Grand Central Terminal’s Centennial celebrations in 2013. It was at this event that the idea to reactivate Vanderbilt Hall germinated.
Following the charette, the MTA offered the Vanderbilt Hall space for lease through an open, competitive request-for-proposals process that was announced in May 2012. In response, 12 operators offered 15 proposals for the space. In presenting his proposal, Meyer is working in concert with a group of investors represented by Hugo Uys, who orchestrated the deal, and is supported by Heyer Performance Inc., a restaurant development firm. A committee of MTA personnel reviewing all proposals determined that the proposal from Meyer’s consortium offered the greatest potential to attract activity to the Terminal.
“With a wide range of price points and customer experiences, Meyer’s team has proposed a diverse and imaginative concept,” said Jeffrey Rosen, MTA Director of Real Estate. “The venture as proposed will complement Grand Central’s existing offerings and further enhance Grand Central’s position as one of the world’s premier public spaces.”
The Meyer group’s proposal also offered the highest bid. The MTA will receive nearly $1.8 million in rent for the space in the first year. The compensation escalates each year with pre-determined rent increases and collection of a percentage of the businesses sales. Minimum rent will rise to $2.06 million in the second year and $2.82 million after 10 years. It would rise to $3.27 million after 15 years if both parties agree after 10 years to exercise an optional five-year contract renewal.
Meyer is a world-renowned restaurateur and cookbook author. Besides co-founding Noma, which holds two Michelin stars, he has published 14 cookbooks in his native Denmark and hosted the series “Meyer’s Kitchen” and “New Scandinavian Cooking” on Danish television from 1991 to 1998. Among his other business ventures, Meyer owns several restaurants, bakeries and catering, fruit and chocolate supply companies, an orchard, a vinegar factory, a salmon smoker, a coffee roastery and runs a cooking school. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen.
Meyer is the founder and main sponsor of the Melting Pot Foundation that runs food schools in Danish prisons and in 2013 opened a gourmet Restaurant Gustu, in the poorest capital of South America, La Paz Bolivia and, soon will be running 13 canteens, in primary schools in El Alto. Gustu and the canteens function as an educational institution overseen by the foundation. Meyer is a prominent advocate of the farm-to-table movement, which seeks to foster local agriculture and encourage sustainable food production.
Grand Central Terminal is home to 100 shops and restaurants. The new venture would be the Terminal’s second largest food-related enterprise, after the Oyster Bar, which fills 25,000 square feet.
The eastern half of Vanderbilt Hall will continue to be used for special events, including the popular annual Holiday Fair.
The proposed venture goes before the MTA Board’s Metro-North and Finance Committees on Monday, June 23. The MTA Board meeting in full will give it final consideration on Wednesday, June 25.
(MTA - posted 6/20)
GREENBRIER ANNOUNCES NEW RAILCAR AWARDS INCLUDING FIRST FOR TANK CAR OF THE FUTURE:
The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. announced its first awards from multiple customers for construction of 3,500 units of its new Tank Car of the Future. These awards, along with other awards for 4,200 railcars across a full range of railcar types, bring aggregate awards to 7,700 railcars valued at more than $960 million since Greenbrier's press release dated May 21, 2014. In addition, the Company disclosed there is strong interest from multiple customers in the retrofit of pre-2011 built tank cars currently operating in flammable commodity service. Greenbrier expects that GBW Railcar Services, its recently announced repair, refurbishment and maintenance joint venture with Watco Companies, will benefit from substantial maintenance and retrofit awards when the joint venture begins operation later this year.
William Furman, Greenbrier Chairman and CEO, said, "We are inspired by the commitment to safety demonstrated by our railroad, leasing company and shipper clients. Long-awaited regulatory action in Washington, D.C. will soon reinforce America's longstanding priority to protect the public and preserve the natural environment. Current tank car rulemaking must take caution not to squelch or impede the economic miracle associated with the energy renaissance in North America. Development of unconventional energy, including oil and gas from shale formations, has been responsible for up to a 1.5% increase in GDP. This has led to the creation of more than 1.5 million jobs, with steady employment gains. Millions of additional jobs are predicted in the foreseeable future as production of downstream energy products such as plastics and chemicals gains strength throughout America in virtually all states. Meanwhile, manufacturing in America will continue to benefit from lower production costs driven by declining energy prices."
Greenbrier's Tank Car of the Future is designed for safer transportation of crude, ethanol and other flammables in North America as well as use for other hazardous traffic. The car has advanced safety features which include thicker steel, more robust top and bottom outlet protection and jacketed shells with ceramic insulation. These new design features combine to inhibit discharge of contents during a derailment, to reduce penetration of the tank shell and to slow "pool fires" that can result when hazardous contents of a tank car escape in a breach and are ignited. Fire that does not spread as rapidly allows more time for emergency responders to limit the potential damage to communities and the environment that can result after a tank car derailment. The new design will also be equal in capacity volume to the legacy DOT-111 tank car with a loading volume of 30,000 gallons.
Conditional Probability of Release (CPR) measures the likelihood of tank car spills in the event of a derailment at different speeds and by different car types. With the Tank Car of the Future design, at a derailment speed of 50 mph, CPR improves to just over 5% from 45% in bare DOT-111 legacy tank cars. This improves CPR by more than 8 times from the least-protected tank car to the most-protected tank car, the Tank Car of the Future. Also when measured by CPR, the Tank Car of the Future is twice as safe as the current state-of-the-art tank car for transporting hazardous materials—a fully jacketed and insulated CPC-1232.
"Domestic oil and natural gas production is a bridge to a cleaner energy future and a practical way for America to pursue the long-term environmental benefits of clean fuels. Transportation of oil by rail and barge must be maintained by policy makers as an effective alternative to pipelines if we are to realize the full benefits of our domestic energy windfall," Furman added. "Rail is more fuel efficient and safer than any mode of transport except marine. It takes less than one-third the fuel to transport commodities by rail than it does by truck and reduces hydrocarbons by nearly the same amount. Rail is safe, delivering 99.9% of its cargo without incident. But, as oil transport by rail has grown, tank car design has not remained current. Crude by rail must continue to play a dominant role in the movement of energy products. This is why Greenbrier and many of its energy, shipper, railroad and leasing company customers are in the vanguard of tank car safety. Greenbrier is investing over $30 million to prepare for the retrofits and new car construction which are imminent."
(Greenbrier, Randy Kotuby - posted 6/19)
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 14, 2014 with 295,132 total carloads, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year. This was the highest week in history for total U.S. intermodal volume, reaching 270,243 units, up 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 565,375 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.1 percent compared with the same week last year.
Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 20,078 carloads, up 22.3 percent; petroleum and petroleum products with 16,130 carloads, up 13.2 percent; and metallic ores and metals with 27,010 carloads, up 8.4 percent.
For the first 24 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,858,695 carloads, up 3.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 6,105,121 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 24 weeks of 2014 was 12,963,816 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 88,502 carloads for the week, up 12.3 percent, and 59,201 intermodal units, up 8.3 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 24 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,864,016 carloads, down 1.1 percent from the same point last year, and 1,328,204 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 16,920 carloads for the week, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,537 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 24 weeks of 2014 was 369,415 carloads, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year, and 236,908 intermodal units, up 3.2 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 24 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 9,092,126 carloads, up 2.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 7,670,233 intermodal trailers and containers, up 5.8 percent compared with last year.
(AAR - posted 6/19)
NRHS ANNOUNCES RECIPIENTS OF RAILWAY HERITAGE GRANTS:
Continuing its role as the leading advocate for U. S.rail preservation, the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) has announced 12 recipients of its annual National Railway Heritage Grants program. Spanning eleven states, the recipients include historical societies, museums, and an NRHS chapter. Projects range from the restoration of rare locomotives, passenger cars, and trolleys to the preservation and care of historic rail images and artifact collections. Through these varied projects, NRHS funding will leverage hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours and in-kind matching donations—all in support of railroad preservation.
Since 1991 the society has provided nearly $650,000 to rail preservation efforts, awarding matching grants for projects that preserve, research, educate, or publish railway history. Nearly 100 grants have been awarded to NRHS chapters, while more than 150 have gone to other organizations – many of them for projects endorsed and supported by NRHS chapters. Funding is provided by additional gifts to the society.
This year’s grants total $46,000 and were given to the following:
(NRHS - posted 6/18)
$5,000 to the Alaska Community Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska (www.alaskarails.com), for the restoration of Alaska Railroad steam locomotive No. 557, a 2-8-0 built in 1944. The grant will fund the purchase of boiler stay bolts, a vital step in the locomotive’s restoration to operating condition.
$700 to the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, Arizona (www.azrymuseum.org), to fund the purchase and construction of storage shelves for donated artifacts and collections.
$2,500 to the Brunswick Heritage Museum in Brunswick, Maryland (www.brunswickmuseum.org), to preserve, catalog and protect the museum’s vast photographic collection depicting life in a company railroad town. With images that span the 1870s to presentday, the collection serves as a priceless resource for historians and the public.
$5,000 to the Chehalis Centralia Railroad and Museum in Chehalis, Washington (www.steamtrainride.com), to complete the rebuild and reconditioning of steam engine No. 15, a 2-8-2 Mikado built in 1916 for the Puget Sound & Cascade Railway. Restored by the museum in 1989, the engine needs an overhaul to ensure an additional 15 years of operations.
$5,000 to the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society in Clifton Forge, Virginia (www.cohs.org), to restore a rare wooden-sided box car at the society’s museum. Built in 1929, car No. 940157 was converted to Maintenance-of-Way use in the 1950s and is possibly the last surviving example of wooden MofW rail equipment.
$5,000 to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois (www.irm.org), to inspect and repairthe motors of the museum's Electroliner, one of two revolutionary streamlined electric trains that debuted on the North Shore Line in 1941. The train has been restored externally to its as-built design; once repairs are completed, the train will operate on the museum's five-mile route.
$4,500 to the Klamath Rails to Trails Group in Klamath Falls, Oregon (www.ocestatetrail.com), to restore the exterior of a 1941 Weyerhaeuser Snow Dozer Plow to its original condition. Once restored, the snow plow will be permanently attached to the railway along the Oregon California & Eastern State Line Trail, conveying the trail’s OC&E heritage and the railroad’s economic significance to the region.
$2,400 to the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Association in Mount Pleasant, Iowa (www.oldthreshers.com), to replace the rock platform of its former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy depot with historic brick. The organization operates one of the last remaining electric railways in the state of Iowa.
$5,000 to the Minnesota Streetcar Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota (www.trolleyride.org), to help build the museum's first library/archive room, part of an addition to the existing George K. Isaacs car barn. The library/archive will house the museum's extensive collection of Minnesota streetcar photos, company records, maps, drawings, small artifacts and books.
$2,400 to the Missouri Pacific Historical Society in Kirkwood, Missouri (www.mopac.org), to purchase archival storage materials to preserve and catalog its collection that dates to the 1950s. The MPHS Archives contains documents, photos, maps, books, slides, and more from MP predecessor railroads.
$3,500 to the Monterey, Tennessee NRHS Chapter to help restore an original 1950s crew car that served the eastern route of the Tennessee Central Railroad. The Monterey Chapter has teamed up with the Monterey Depot Historical Society to restore the car, one of a few still in existence, and move it inside the depot museum.
$5,000 to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad in Cumberland, Maryland (www.wmsr.com), to repair and coat the roof of Pullman private car No. 204, built in 1917 as the “Winchester.” The car is being restored to operation and its appearance will reflect its time on the Western Maryland Railway between 1943 and 1964.
FIRST OF AMTRAK'S NEW LONG DISTANCE CARS UNDERGOING TESTING:
The Amtrak program to modernize its long-distance train equipment has advanced to a key milestone as the first of four new passenger car types is in field testing.
“It is clear that Americans want a national system of intercity passenger rail and Amtrak is moving ahead to build new equipment to meet customer demand,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.
The first car type now in field testing is a baggage car and will be used on all 15 long-distance routes across the Amtrak national system. The updated design provides for improved reliability and maintenance, and better baggage loading/unloading procedures. Also, the new built-in luggage racks can secure unboxed bicycles to support the growing demand by passengers to bring their bikes onboard an expanding number of routes.
The field testing program has several elements, including compatibility tests to ensure the baggage car couples cleanly with, and can operate through a curve without interference with, numerous types of Amtrak cars and locomotives. In addition, there are tests for speed, stability, braking, noise, interaction of the wheel sets with the rail as well as actual baggage handling.
Field testing will continue through October with the baggage car traveling on the Northeast Corridor and on routes to Chicago, New Orleans and Miami. The expectation is that new baggage cars will begin entering revenue service by the end of 2014.
The baggage cars are part of a larger order for 130 single-level long-distance passenger cars, including diner, sleeper and bag-dorm cars being built by CAF USA of Elmira, N.Y. All four car types will modernize the Amtrak fleet, improve reliability and maintenance, upgrade passenger amenities, travel at speeds up to 125 mph and replace units built as far back as the 1940s and 1950s. The diner, sleeper and bag-dorm cars will be used on eastern long-distance
routes with the first units of each expected to begin field testing this summer.
Long-distance trains form the backbone of the Amtrak national system, connect small towns to major cities, support local economic development, deliver passengers to state-supported corridor trains and conduct interstate trade and commerce. Their principal mission is connectivity, and it is an increasingly important one to communities that have been losing their bus and air connections at a steady pace over the last decade.
Since 1998, Amtrak long-distance ridership has grown by roughly 20 percent, without the introduction of any new services, frequencies, or equipment. In FY 2013, long-distance ridership reached its highest point in twenty years with 4.8 million passengers. In addition, long-distance trains are, on average, as full on the peak leg of their trips as are the premium Acela Express services on the Northeast Corridor.
(Amtrak - posted 6/17)
NEARLY 5,800 RIDE SEPTA SUBWAYS DURING FIRST NIGHT OF OVERNIGHT PILOT:
On Sunday, June 15, SEPTA launched a pilot of weekend overnight service on the Broad Street and Market Frankford Lines. A total of 5,792 riders were counted as they entered the system between midnight and 5:00 a.m. on the first night of subway service. This represents a 35 percent increase over the average of 4,301 riders who used Nite Owl bus service for travel on Sunday mornings.
SEPTA staff reported "a lot of young people" choosing the subway with high ridership counts observed at the 40th, 2nd, Spring Garden, and Girard Stations on the Market-Frankford Line. Ridership on both lines peaked between midnight and 2:00 a.m., with numbers of riders declining more than half after those hours. According to Chief Thomas Nestel who joined patrol for the entire overnight period, no crime was reported or observed by SEPTA Police or operational staff on the subway system.
Pilot trains operated every 20 minutes from 12:01 a.m. until 5:00 a.m., with arrival times staggered at the City Hall/15th Street Stations by 10 minutes to accommodate transfers. Some minor delays were reported, mostly due to passengers who were unfamiliar with boarding procedures at non cashier stations. "Signs are posted in each station informing passengers of Nite Owl boarding locations," said Assistant General Manager for Operations, Ronald Hopkins. "We expect that our riders will quickly become familiar with the overnight boarding pattern as the pilot program continues."
Aimed at accommodating the demand for subway service among late night riders on Fridays and Saturdays, the weekend overnight service pilot will continue through Labor Day, replacing the existing bus service that operates during that time. SEPTA staff will evaluate ridership, staffing costs, overall security and other factors collected during the pilot to determine if subway operation will continue past that date. "Based on these initial reports - SEPTA is pleased that pilot operation of weekend service on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines appears to be a popular option for late night travel," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "We hope that the pilot continues to be convenient not only for existing passengers, but new riders attracted by additional hours of subway operation."
(SEPTA - posted 6/17)
ESTABLISHING AN EMERGENCY BOARD TO INVESTIGATE DISPUTES BETWEEN THE SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY AND CERTAIN OF ITS EMPLOYEES REPRESENTED BY CERTAIN LABOR ORGANIZATIONS:
Disputes exist between the Southeastern Pennsylvania
Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and certain of its employees
represented by certain labor organizations. The labor
organizations involved in these disputes are designated on the
attached list, which is made part of this order.
The disputes heretofore have not been adjusted under
the provisions of the Railway Labor Act, as amended,
45 U.S.C. 151-188 (RLA).
A party empowered by the RLA has requested that the
President establish an emergency board pursuant to section 9A of
the RLA (45 U.S.C. 159a).
Section 9A(c) of the RLA provides that the President, upon
such request, shall appoint an emergency board to investigate and
report on the disputes.
NOW, THEREFORE, by the authority vested in me as President
by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including
section 9A of the RLA, it is hereby ordered as follows:
( Whitehouse.gov - posted 6/16)
Section 1. Establishment of Emergency Board (Board). There
is established, effective 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on
June 15, 2014, a Board of three members to be appointed by the
President to investigate and report on these disputes. No member
shall be pecuniarily or otherwise interested in any organization
of railroad employees or any carrier. The Board shall perform
its functions subject to the availability of funds.
Sec. 2. Report. The Board shall report to the President
with respect to the disputes within 30 days of its creation.
Sec. 3. Maintaining Conditions. As provided by section
9A(c) of the RLA, for 120 days from the date of the creation of
the Board, no change in the conditions out of which the disputes
arose shall be made by the parties to the controversy, except by
agreement of the parties.
Sec. 4. Records Maintenance. The records and files of the
Board are records of the Office of the President and upon the
Board's termination shall be maintained in the physical custody
of the National Mediation Board.
CSX APPLAUDES RELEASE OF FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR VIRGINIA AVENUE TUNNEL RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT:
- CSX applauds the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) for advancing the reconstruction of CSX's Virginia Avenue Tunnel in a way that responds to community concerns in the project's design and construction plan. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued today by FHWA and DDOT identifies the preferred alternative for construction, "Alternative 3 - Two New Tunnels." Specific details of the alternative are available via a FHWA/DDOT fact sheet at www.virginiaavenuetunnel.com.
CSX is proposing to spend hundreds of millions of company dollars to reconstruct this 110-year old tunnel, to move people and goods more efficiently for the benefit of commuters and businesses in the District and throughout the region. The release of the FEIS is a critical step forward to modernize the country's aging infrastructure in a way that promotes the safety and well-being of local neighbors.
"The preferred alternative is the direct result of years of community input during the environmental review process. It addresses community concerns and prioritizes neighborhood safety and security during construction. Under this plan, construction is expected to take approximately 30 to 42 months and trains will run in an enclosed tunnel in front of residences," said Louis Renjel, vice president, strategic infrastructure initiatives. "Today's announcement means CSX and the Virginia Avenue community can focus our ongoing discussions on a single potential construction plan, discuss the potential impacts of that plan, and share information about the many things CSX would do to minimize those impacts."
CSX's efforts to minimize the impact of construction would include actions that would be naturally a part of the construction plan; additional actions CSX would take during construction to minimize impacts; and actions CSX would take after construction to help enhance the Virginia Avenue neighborhood.
"CSX has a strong track record of working in a way that respects our neighbors. We look forward to continuing to talk with the Virginia Avenue community and public officials as we fulfill our commitments: to make safety our top priority during and after construction; to minimize the impacts of construction on local residents and businesses; and to collaborate with the community on enhancements that help make a great neighborhood even better," said Renjel.
Under the preferred alternative construction plan, CSX would be required to take certain actions to reduce the impact from construction, including:
CSX would also make enhancements to the new streetscape to complement the other development in the neighborhood. That effort would include reconstructing Virginia Avenue and other affected areas, including Virginia Avenue Park and the Marine Corps Recreation Facility, to a standard higher than before construction. In addition, the FEIS requires significant actions and investments by CSX, including:
Limiting construction hours;
Controlling dust at the construction site to maintain air quality;
Reducing construction noise and vibration by creating physical barriers, choosing less noisy construction techniques, and doing noise and vibration monitoring;
Working with District Department of Transportation to monitor and maintain traffic flow around the construction site as necessary to reduce impact;
Providing compensation to the residents who are impacted the most - the residents directly next to the project - and to Virginia Avenue Tunnel neighborhood organizations, to minimize construction impacts as the residents and organizations choose.
The FEIS is available for review for 30 days before an official decision is released, and can be downloaded from
. A public meeting will also be held on July 1, 2014, at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 Eye Street SW, Washington, DC 20024. The meeting will include a presentation on the details about construction and will include a brief time to ask questions of the project team.
(CSX- posted 6/13)
Improving access to Garfield Park for wheelchair-dependent individuals;
Building a continuous bike path between 2nd and 9th Streets connecting Garfield Park and Virginia Avenue Park;
Straightening the alignment of Virginia Avenue SE within the 400 block to be consistent with the original L'Enfant Plan;
Improving the traffic lane configuration between 5th/6th and 8th Streets to provide safer and calmer traffic conditions; and
Installing landscaping and improved street lighting, traffic signals and crosswalks.
AAR REPORTS INCREASED WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 7, 2014 with 292,924 total carloads, up 5.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,823 units, up 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 562,747 carloads and intermodal units, up 6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 17,568 carloads, up 15.5 percent; nonmetallic minerals and products with 39,577 carloads, up 12.2 percent; and motor vehicles and parts with 18,343 carloads, up 8.9 percent.
For the first 23 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,563,563 carloads, up 3.2 percent compared with the same point last year, and 5,834,878 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 23 weeks of 2014 was 12,398,441 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year.
Canadian railroads reported 82,450 carloads for the week, up 6 percent, and 59,796 intermodal units, up 11.4 percent compared with the same week in 2013. For the first 23 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,775,514 carloads, down 1.7 percent from the same point last year, and 1,269,003 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent from last year.
Mexican railroads reported 16,030 carloads for the week, down 3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,878 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 23 weeks of 2014 was 352,495 carloads, up 1.7 percent from the same point last year, and 226,371 intermodal units, up 3.1 percent from last year.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 23 weeks of 2014 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 8,691,572 carloads, up 2.1 percent compared with the same point last year, and 7,330,252 intermodal trailers and containers, up 5.7 percent compared with last year.
(AAR - posted 6/12)
EMPIRE SERVICE RAILS TO RECOVERY PROGRAM PROVIDES ACCESS TO LIFE-SAVING MEDICAL CARE:
Amtrak, in partnership with New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Voices of Hope, has launched “Empire Service Rails to Recovery,” a new program providing discounted rail fare for passengers and families traveling for treatment of life-threatening medical conditions.
Qualifying passengers can receive a Buy One – Get One Free discount on state-supported Amtrak Empire Service trains operating in New York State. To qualify, passengers should visit the Voices of Hope website and register with one of 22 participating member agencies. Once registered, the customer is directed to Amtrak.com to book travel and receive the discount.
“Amtrak is proud to partner with NYSDOT and Voices of Hope to launch this important program,” said Amtrak Government Affairs Officer Bill Hollister. “As members of this community, we are pleased to provide a valuable service to the traveling public, especially families already carrying the heavy burden of debilitating illnesses.”
“We are excited to work together with Amtrak and NYSDOT on the Empire Service Rails to Recovery Program that will benefit so many of our Capital Region Voices of Hope families touched by life-altering conditions,” said Sandra V. Nardoci, Chair and Co-Founder of Voices of Hope. “This program will greatly assist our families both financially and emotionally and we look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, “NYSDOT is pleased to join with Amtrak and Voices of Hope to help families in need travel to receive urgently needed medical care. By discounting train fares for these important trips, we ensure that families have an affordable travel option that relieves the burden of traveling by car during a stressful time.” (Amtrak - posted 6/12)
WHIPPANY RAILWAY MUSEUM ACQUIRES FORMER DL&W MU CLUB CAR:
The Whippany Railway Museum (WRyM), located in Whippany, N.J., has acquired former Delaware Lackawanna & Western (DL&W) MU Club Car No. 2454 (ex-Erie Lackawanna / NJ Transit No. 3454) from the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey (URHS). This was one four original DL&W MU subscription / club cars (Nos. 481 - 484) built new for the Lackawanna by Barney & Smith in 1912 as steel body, open platform subscription cars. In 1930 the car was converted to MU service when the DL&W electrified the Morris & Essex Line.. The 3454 led the very
last NJ Transit 1930's-era electric MU train from Hoboken to Dover, NJ on August 24, 1984. The Whippany Railway Museum plans to restore this notable car. It will be moved to its new home at Whippany, NJ will take place later in the year. The upcoming August issue of Railpace will have more details on the 3454.
STUDY TO IMPROVE BALTIMORE AND POTOMAC TUNNEL ALONG BUSY NORTHEAST CORRIDOR IN BALTIMORE ENTERS NEW PHASE:
Working to improve rail service, reliability and address a longstanding bottleneck along Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor (NEC), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Amtrak are advancing an engineering and environmental study to examine various improvements to the 141-year-old Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel in Baltimore, Maryland.
“We're taking the first step toward upgrading rail traffic through this Civil War era tunnel, which will improve passenger rail service along the entire East Coast,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Working together to enhance transit service and reliability will increase ridership and create a sustainable, more competitive future for Maryland. I want to thank U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, Congressman Elijah Cummings and Maryland’s entire Congressional Delegation for their hard work and support for federal funding to advance this much-needed study.”
“We are committed to building a modern transportation network that supports our growing economy here in Maryland, but our progress wouldn't be possible without the support we've received from our Federal partners," said Lt. Governor Brown. "We look forward to working with the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, local officials and citizens to advance this critical study. Upgrading this section of rail line will enhance service for our MARC passengers, create jobs and break the bottleneck along the busy Northeast Corridor.”
The two-track tunnel, which opened in 1873, is located between the West Baltimore MARC Station and Baltimore Penn Station and is used by Amtrak, Maryland’s MARC Commuter Rail trains and Norfolk Southern Railway freight trains. The existing track geometry and outdated tunnel design significantly impedes rail movement along the busy NEC, creating a low-speed bottleneck impacting approximately 85 Amtrak trains, 57 MARC commuter trains and one to two freight trains each day. The $60 million federally-funded study, which began last fall, is moving into a new phase with expanded public outreach and opportunities for residents and commuters to learn more about the project’s purpose and need.
“This is good news for Baltimore and the entire Northeast Corridor,” said Senator Mikulski. “Replacing the B&P Tunnel is on the must-do list for Baltimore’s aging infrastructure. The B&P Tunnel is critical to keeping Maryland’s economy rolling, carrying all passenger and freight rail traffic on the Northeast Corridor through Baltimore. Years of operation have left it deteriorating to the point of being operationally outdated. This is an important step in the right direction for safety and the modernization of our railroad.” Northeast Corridor. The time has come to move forward on improvements to the B&P Tunnel, part of our critical transportation infrastructure that supports local jobs and businesses, benefits our local communities, and keeps regional and national commerce moving,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “MARC, Amtrak and our freight lines are a part of Maryland’s economic backbone. Sustained federal investments and partnership with Maryland are essential to increase and maintain safety and continuity of service."
“Replacement of the B&P Tunnel is essential to improving rail transportation on the Northeast Corridor and is a necessary precursor to the introduction of high speed rail service into Baltimore,” Congressman Cummings said. “Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement will take us one step closer to identifying the best plan to modernize Baltimore’s rail tunnel infrastructure.”
“The B & P Tunnel is as much a critical link to the Northeast rail corridor today as it was in 1873 when it was built,” said Joseph C. Szabo, Federal Railroad Administrator. “The study being undertaken today is the first step in replacing this aging infrastructure with a new tunnel that meets the increased demand for capacity and enhances the efficiency of rail operations on one of the busiest rail corridors in the world. A key component of the study will be to assess input from the people of Baltimore, and we look forward to that feedback.”
Continuous and active public involvement is important to the study process and will help to answer questions and identify community needs and concerns. An upcoming open house will kick off the public outreach process, which includes a
, informational fliers, advertising and presentations to communities and organizations. The first open house will be held on Thursday, June 19, 2014, at the Coppin State University Talon Center, 2nd Floor Atrium (2500 West North Avenue, Baltimore, Md., 21216). The community is invited to attend the fully accessible open house anytime between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to meet the project team, learn about the project, ask questions and provide feedback. Additional meetings will be scheduled throughout the study process and publicized on the project website:
“Public outreach and input will be key to the success of this study,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, Jr. “We look forward to meeting with residents, commuters and interested citizens to explain the purpose and need of this study and listen to their feedback.”
The study, which will be complete in mid 2017, will include development and evaluation of various alternatives based on the need to enhance rail safety and to improve capacity, reliability and travel time for commuter, freight and intercity passenger rail service on the NEC. Alternatives will include the No Action Alternative, as well as a full array of Build Alternatives such as rehabilitation of the existing tunnel and a new tunnel on new alignment.
“The B&P tunnel is a crucial link on the Northeast Corridor making Amtrak and MARC service possible through the City of Baltimore,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “As owners and stewards of this vital piece of infrastructure, we know that a new or rehabilitated tunnel is what we need to maintain and ultimately improve reliability, speed and safety for all trains – Amtrak, MARC and others – that use it. This study is an important step forward toward realizing that goal, and will help to expand economic development opportunities for the greater Baltimore region.”
The study also involves development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which examines various alternatives while considering environmental and community impacts. The project also will be subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 and other applicable environmental laws and regulations. FRA is leading development of the EIS in close coordination with MDOT and other stakeholders. Interested parties are encouraged to comment online at the B&P Tunnel Project’s website, via email at info@BPTunnel.com or in person at the June 19 open house.
(Amtrak - posted 6/11)
NATIONAL RAILROAD MUSEUM RECEIVES STATE TOURISM GRANT TO PROMOTE NEW DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER LOCOMOTIVE EXHIBIT:
The National Railroad Museum, located in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has received a $27,880.00 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to expand marketing efforts for the grand return of the only A4 Class locomotive in the country, the Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The locomotive made international news when the National Railroad Museum loaned the piece to the National Railway Museum of York, England for "The Great Gathering" of A4 Class locomotives in 2013. As part of the loan agreement, the train underwent a cosmetic restoration. Goals for promotional efforts include increasing visits to the museum from August to October by 8 percent, and an increase in Brown County hotel occupancy by 1 percent. Grant funds go toward radio, TV, online advertising as well as public relations efforts.
"The international renown of the Eisenhower has afforded the National Railroad Museum and our community as a whole an opportunity to highlight our unique history and offerings," said Jacqueline Frank, executive director of the National Railroad Museum. "Without the JEM grant funds, we would not be able to spread our message about the new exhibit so far and effectively. Visitors from throughout the Midwest and beyond have the opportunity to enjoy something that has importance to so many throughout the world."
"Train aficionados will be so excited to have the country's only A4 Class locomotive back in Green Bay, Wisconsin," said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. "This is a phenomenal opportunity to experience the rich culture Green Bay has to offer. We're thrilled to support this outstanding organization with this grant, which will bring more visitors to create a positive economic impact in the community."
To celebrate the return of the Dwight D. Eisenhower locomotive, a British train renamed for President Eisenhower after World War II, the new exhibit will include an opening event on August 2 with a ceremony and exhibit tours, tea on a train, historical reenactments, science and technology activity and children's activities, such as mini boot camp, games from the WWII era, and holiday cards to veterans.
The new exhibit will feature an interactive exploration of the aerodynamic and mechanical technology used to develop this world-famous locomotive. Learners of all ages will have the opportunity to explore and learn significant historic, social and technological themes.
(National Railroad Museum - posted 6/11)
NEW, EXPRESS, ONE-SEAT SUMMER SHORE RAIL SERVICE LAUNCHES JUNE 28:
In conjunction with the Christie Administration’s continued commitment to the recovery and continued revitalization of the Jersey Shore, NJ TRANSIT today announced the launch of new, weekend rail service from New York Penn Station and northern New Jersey cities to shore communities along the North Jersey Coast Line.
The new shore service will begin on June 28, utilizing NJ TRANSIT’s new, dual-powered locomotives to provide a one-seat ride.
“NJ TRANSIT looks forward to placing our new dual-powered locomotives into service on the North Jersey Coast Line, which will entice more visitors, provide greater customer convenience and make the trip down the shore faster and easier than ever before,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim.
Starting June 28 and continuing through September 1, four new, roundtrip express trains will be launched on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between New York Penn Station and Bay Head. Two of these new roundtrips will be geared to beach travelers, with the additional two roundtrips providing service during the early morning and late night timeframes.
The new express service will serve New York Penn Station, Secaucus Junction, Newark Penn Station, Elizabeth, Rahway, Aberdeen-Matawan, Red Bank, Long Branch, Asbury Park, and then all station stops to Bay Head, without having to change trains in Long Branch. A travel time savings of approximately 25 minutes is expected from the normal travel time between New York and stations such as Belmar, Manasquan and Point Pleasant.
Seating will be limited aboard the new express service, with customers strongly encouraged to purchase round trip tickets or beach packages (a savings of $6.50 off the cost of rail service and beach admission) prior to the start of their trip. NJ TRANSIT tickets and beach packages are available at ticket windows and ticket vending machines. Customers can also purchase NJ TRANSIT tickets using MyTix mobile ticketing.
Express trains will supplement NJ TRANSIT’s regular hourly rail shuttle service between Long Branch and Bay Head, and will operate using the statewide transportation agency’s new ALP-45 dual-powered locomotives. These specialized trains will operate in electric mode between New York and Long Branch and will switch to diesel operation for travel between Long Branch and Bay Head – allowing for the one-seat ride.
The announcement follows the May 15, 2014 endorsement of the new service by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), which authorized a $270,000 allocation through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) to fund the new service.
Detailed schedules will be available June 17 on
- posted 6/10)
AC&W TO HOST PRIVATE RAIL CARS AT THIS YEAR'S U.S. GOLF OPEN:
The 2014 U.S. Golf Open will be held in Pinehurst, North Carolina, from June 12 trough 15. Local railroad
Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway will be parking restored private passenger cars near the restort. These cars will include the circa 1930s era Pinehurst No. 2 and the 1918 built "Roamer." The signifance of the "Roamer" is that it hosted such dignitaries as the King of England and Dwight D. Eisenhower in its heyday.
(Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway
- posted 6/10)
NEW PASSENGER INFORMATION DISPLAYS ARE THE LATEST IMPROVEMENTS AT BALTIMORE PENN STATION:
Amtrak, in partnership with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), has deployed new, electronic, ADA-compliant passenger information displays (PIDs) at Baltimore Penn Station.
The signs communicate real-time train status, general boarding announcements and security messages in both audible and visual formats. More than 30 PIDs were installed on the platforms for tracks four through seven as well as the concourse of the historic station. The $1.8 million project, which began in July 2013 and was completed this May, was co-funded by Amtrak and the MTA through the Joint Benefits Agreement between the two agencies.
“This project is another example of the wide-ranging benefits available to passengers as a result of our partnership with the MTA,” said James Hengst, Amtrak Program Director, Passenger Experience. “Improvements such as this are especially beneficial to our deaf customers and customers with hearing or vision loss, though all passengers will benefit from improved communications through the new system.”
“We are pleased to continue partnering with Amtrak on projects that benefit both Amtrak’s customers and our MARC Train passengers,” said MTA Administrator and CEO Robert Smith. “These new displays highlight the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s ongoing efforts to improve and enhance riders’ experience, which will help us meet the Governor’s goal of doubling transit ridership by 2020.”
This is the second and final phase of a project to upgrade the train information and visual messaging functionality at the station. Phase 1 was completed in 2012 when Baltimore Penn Station was one of three Maryland stations selected to pilot Amtrak’s standardized ADA-compliant PIDs system.
$9.5 million worth of improvements have been completed at Baltimore Penn Station in the last four years delivering new restrooms, improved platform lighting, plaza enhancements and other safety and security measures. An additional $4 million worth of projects are underway or in design.
(Amtrak, Maryland MTA
- posted 6/10)
AMTRAK AIMS TO BUILD TRACKSIDE Wi-Fi NETWORK
WITH BROADBAND-SPEEDS ON THE NEC :
Amtrak is exploring options to upgrade its on-board Wi-Fi service in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), with a particular interest in constructing a dedicated, wireless trackside network that provides a high-capacity, broadband-speed Internet connection between Washington and Boston.
A wireless trackside network would provide passengers a true broadband experience, close existing coverage gaps along the NEC, and allow Amtrak to drop current restrictions on streaming media and large file downloads.
“We know that our customers want a consistently reliable and fast on-board Wi-Fi experience – something we cannot guarantee today on our busiest trains when hundreds of customers want to go online at the same time – and we want to make that possible,” said Amtrak Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Matt Hardison.
Amtrak is now soliciting
for a proof-of-concept project. The goal is to increase available bandwidth per train from 10Mbps today to a minimum of 25 Mbps (and scalable to even faster speeds as technology advances) to meet growing customer data usage demands. Results of the test project will be used to determine whether it is technically and financially feasible to construct such a network along the entire 457-mile NEC.
This effort to explore a new wireless solution for the NEC represents Amtrak’s ongoing commitment to using technology to improve the passenger experience and increase satisfaction
- posted 6/09)
METRO-NORTH AND CONNECTICUT OFFICIALS MEET TO DEVELOP MULTI-PRONGED ACTION PLAN ON "WALK" BRIDGE:
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti today met with Governor Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut and Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker to develop a multi-pronged approach with short- and long-term strategies to addressing infrastucture needs of the “Walk” Bridge. The bridge is a 118-year-old span that crosses the Norwalk River in downtown Norwalk, Connecticut, that swings open by rotating about a central pivot to allow marine traffic to pass underneath.
Teams from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) and Metro-North will conduct an operation review of procedures at the bridge to minimize future risk of failure; the teams will work together and are expected to report their findings and recommendations by mid-July.
Over the long term, both parties will push for Federal funding to allow for the replacement of the bridge.
“Every time this 118-year-old bridge fails to close properly, our customers suffer the consequences of decades of delay and neglect,” said MTA Chairman Prendergast. “We are working closely with our partners in Connecticut to support their efforts to make temporary repairs to keep this bridge operating while they pursue federal funding to replace it with a modern bridge.”
“There is no doubt that we are now seeing the effects of decades of neglect when it comes to investing in our infrastructure,” said Governor Malloy. “In the short term, every procedure, protocol and engineering solution must get the immediate attention of the most qualified team of experts to ensure reliable service for Connecticut commuters. But the long-term aim is to find and fund a replacement, and I’m glad today to have the public support from the MTA on our application for Federal funding.”
“Second only to safety, customer service and reliability are our top focus as we work to provide and improve daily train service,” said Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti. “We have heard the frustrations of our Connecticut customers, and the State’s highest elected leaders. Today we pledge to work together cooperatively to minimize any disruptions that may come from our operations of this bridge.”
The Walk Bridge is owned by the State of Connecticut. Under contract to Connecticut, Metro-North forces maintain the bridge and open and close it as required by the needs of marine traffic.
- posted 6/09)
FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAYS'S NEW INTERMODAL TERMINAL'S GRAND OPENING NEXT MONTH:
Florida East Coast Railway, LLC (FEC) will open its new state-of-the-art Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) adjacent to Port Everglades, with a grand opening ceremony on July 14, 2014.
The 43-acre facility increases FEC's available intermodal capacity from 100,000 to 450,000 lifts a year and the unique, near-dock facility will improve the transfer of both domestic and international containers between ships and rail. Currently such containers must be drayed off-port to rail terminals such as Andrews Avenue rail yard in Fort Lauderdale or to Hialeah rail yard in Miami-Dade County.
Additionally, having empty 53-foot domestic containers and trailers adjacent to the port provides more opportunities to trans-load import cargo from ocean containers to domestic containers for inland rail transport. This results in more domestic containers moving north as loads instead of empties, increasing the efficiency of our intermodal network.
The new ICTF will facilitate faster delivery times and create less congested roadways by eliminating a high volume of trucks from our state highways.
(FEC, Randy Kotuby
- posted 6/06)