` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine







Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
September 25, 2017:


AMTRAK CHICAGO UNION STATION GREAT HALL WORK UNDERWAY: In about a year, customers of Amtrak, Metra and other users of Chicago Union Station will enjoy a Great Hall painted in its original colors, made brighter by a restored and protected skylight with improved lighting in a $22 million project. The work, now underway and self-funded by Amtrak, is designed by architect Goettsch Partners (GP) and contractor Berglund Construction to minimize disruption to the flow of people through the station, which is the fourth busiest in the national Amtrak network. The construction team devised a creative solution to maintain access to the Great Hall by using a suspended working deck and swing stages, in lieu of much scaffolding, to allow customers to move freely below. A crane erected on Clinton Street is being used to move materials through the building and above the Great Hall. The painting and plaster repairs have been divided into phases, to further provide full customer access to the Great Hall during the repairs. The Great Hall at Chicago Union Station, completed in 1925, was designed by Daniel Burnham and successor firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. The centerpiece of the Great Hall is a 219-foot-long skylight that soars 115 feet above the floor. Over the decades, it has deteriorated due to water damage and flaws within the original design. Working with Amtrak, a team from GP, Klein & Hoffman and Environmental Systems Design completed an extensive investigation of the space within the Great Hall to determine the extent of repairs needed while respecting the historic nature of the building. The investigation concluded the original barrel-vaulted skylight was not designed to adequately keep water out and no longer met current codes, so an extensive upgrade was necessary. In order to maintain the historic appearance of the skylight from within the Great Hall and to overcome the complications of the existing drainage system, the team will construct a modern energy-efficient, skylight above the historic skylight. The new skylight will protect the historic skylight with a new drainage design and maintenance system. When finished, natural light into the Great Hall is expected to increase by about 50 percent by replacing the 2,052 pieces of glass in frames that had been made bigger over the years in a failed effort to prevent leaks in the historic skylight. The panes will be transparent, rather than the wire-embedded glass that was used previously. The new skylight will have 858 panes of clear, high-efficiency glass, five feet above the historic skylight. Once the skylight and roof work has been completed, ensuring that the Great Hall will remain dry, the historic skylight – along with water-damaged plaster and stone – will be restored. The finishes will include the return of the historic paint colors to the walls and ceiling. While the work is performed, customers will notice less light in the Great Hall because of the suspended deck and scaffolding erected in the areas around the room, including the balconies, grand staircases and the passage between the Great Hall and the Station Concourse. As Berglund goes forward, it will work with the ACE Mentor Affiliate of Chicago, which has a 14-year partnership with Chicago public high schools and a special focus on recruiting minority and female students. These groups are significantly under-represented in the construction and design industry and in professional occupations overall. The plan, approved by local and state historic preservation agencies, is to complete the project by late 2018. A video describing the project can be found here and a gallery of images from the design and early construction phases can be found here. (Amtrak - posted 9/25)

AMTRAK, OPERATION LIFESAVER AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES PARTNER FOR OPERATION CLEAR TRACK: Amtrak and Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) kicked off U.S. Rail Safety Week today and announced a new collaborative rail safety effort designed to save lives by alerting the public to the dangers of being inattentive at rail grade crossings and along the railroad right-of-way. As part of the week-long observance, Amtrak Police and OLI will mobilize Operation Clear Track, the largest simultaneous railroad safety law enforcement operation ever attempted in the United States, involving more than 200 police or sheriff’s departments across the lower 48 states. The one-day operation will take place during three hours on Tuesday, Sept. 26, starting at 10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. CT, 8 a.m. MT, and 7 a.m. PT. During the operation, local, state, federal and railroad law enforcement officials will be stationed at each state’s high incident grade crossings based on preliminary data from the Federal Railroad Administration. Once on-site, officers will enforce their grade crossing laws and issue warnings and citations to violators. Law enforcement personnel will also distribute more than 240,000 railroad safety cards to motorists and pedestrians at those crossings. “It’s critical that citizens in every corner of the country fully understand the dangers and consequences of trespassing on railroad property,” Amtrak Police Chief Neil Trugman said. “By mobilizing our forces, we hope to raise awareness, save lives and prevent injuries along the railroad rights-of-way from coast to coast.” According to OLI, a national rail safety education nonprofit organization, each year approximately 2,000 people are killed or injured in grade crossing and trespassing incidents nationwide. Every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train. “We are proud to partner with our local law enforcement agencies to raise public awareness about using caution near train tracks, and never using the tracks as a shortcut,” Operation Lifesaver President and CEO Bonnie Murphy said. “While crossing collisions have dropped 83 percent since the first Operation Lifesaver program was started 45 years ago, this unprecedented enforcement and education event will further our mission to eliminate these preventable tragedies.” Operation Clear Track is one of several events scheduled during U.S. Rail Safety Week now through Sept. 30. For more information on railroad safety visit www.oli.org . (Amtrak - posted 9/25)

CN ENCOURAGES PUBLICS TO BE SAFE AROUND RAILROADS FOR THE FIRST NATIONAL RAIL SAFETY WEEK IN THE U.S.: As part of its year-round effort to save lives, CN is pleased to participate in the first U.S. National Rail Safety Week, a week long series of events aimed at raising awareness and promoting safe behaviour around railroads. Last year, in the United States, 2,025 rail grade crossing collisions resulted in 798 personal injuries and were responsible for 265 fatalities. During that same period, 994 trespassing incidents occurred resulting in 483 pedestrians being injured and 511 killed while trespassing on the railroad property rights-of-way. "Too many people die while trespassing on railway property and those fatalities are entirely preventable," said Stephen Covey, Chief of police and Chief Security officer at CN. "These tragedies can be avoided by staying off railway tracks and by simply obeying crossing signals." During Rail Safety Week, CN Police Service (CNPS) will be out in communities raising awareness of the potentially devastating consequences of trespassing on railway tracks and disregarding railway safety signs and devices at level crossings. CN Police officers will have custom virtual reality viewers to demonstrate 360° rail safety videos to the public. Visitors to CN's Rail Safety Pledge website can view the videos on a desktop, laptop or mobile device, and visitors with access to any Google Cardboard viewer can experience this immersive virtual reality environment. CN is encouraging the public to take the Rail Safety Pledge online which they can easily share with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers. The Rail Safety Pledge asks people to share rail safety tips in their community, talk about rail safety at their local schools, or report unsafe behaviour around trains or railway property. "Rail safety is everyone's responsibility," said Covey. "By looking out for each other and working together, we can help keep our communities safe and prevent fatalities and injuries on or near railway property. Together we can save lives and help bring crossing and trespassing accidents down to zero." Get rail safety tips, take the Rail Safety Pledge, and live the 360° rail safety experience on your computer or mobile device at: www.mysafetypledge.com . CN has been promoting railway safety for more than 25 years through its All Aboard for Safety community education program. Every year, CN employees make hundreds of All Aboard for Safety presentations and talk to more than 300,000 children and adults at schools and community events in Canada and the United States about the importance of safety and the dangers of walking or playing on or near railway tracks. (CN,Randy Kotuby - posted 9/25)

CP MARKS FIRST U.S. RAIL SAFETY WEEK WITH A PLEA TO THE PUBLIC: BE SAFE AROUND THE TRACKS: Canadian Pacific will be reaching out to the public during this first national U.S. Rail Safety Week with a simple, critically important message: Please be safe around the railroad tracks. Trains can't stop quickly, so it's up to motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists to follow the law and keep themselves safe. "Over the past year, far too many Americans took unnecessary risks around the tracks, and tragically, many paid with their lives," said Ken Marchant, Chief of Canadian Pacific Police Service. "These incidents are tragic but preventable. We must all work together to save lives by reminding our friends and family not to take such unnecessary risks." Federal Railroad Administration statistics show more than 2,000 grade-crossing collisions occurred last year, resulting in 145 fatalities. Additionally, 980 incidents between trains and trespassers claimed 491 lives. On average, a person is struck by a train every 3 hours. Since trains can't stop quickly, the law has been clearly established: It's up to motorists to yield right-of-way at crossings, and it's up to pedestrians not to trespass on railroad lines. CP this week will participate in enforcement and public awareness events in New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota. Outreach efforts include presentations to students, speaking to patrons of businesses close to tracks, enforcement efforts at grade crossings, and media events. CP will be working in collaboration with Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national organization with chapters across the country focused on education and outreach on this important issue. "Operation Lifesaver proudly stands with CP and the entire railroad industry in sharing a message of safety during U.S. Rail Safety Week," said Operation Lifesaver President and CEO Bonnie Murphy. "Together, we work toward eliminating tragic incidents on the tracks." (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 9/25)

MBTA WOLLASTON STATION IMPROVEMENT PROJECT MOVES FORWARD: The MBTA is moving forward with the Wollaston Station Improvements Project with the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board earlier this summer having approved the beginning of new construction at this Red Line station. Major accessibility improvements, state-of-the-art safety features, and additional parking are some of the improvements to be made during the project renovating Wollaston Station. Currently the only non ADA-accessible station on the Red Line, Wollaston will be transformed into a modern, fully accessible facility, making the entirety of the Red Line 100-percent accessible. New features and upgrades to the station include brand new elevators, additional customer paths, upgraded stairways, new bathrooms, and additional lighting. New electrical, fire protection, security, flooding mitigation, and site utility upgrades will also occur to support the accessible improvements. The estimated construction value of the Wollaston Station Improvements is $33 million. The MBTA has already committed $911 million to Red Line South Side projects, including 252 new Red Line cars that will begin full revenue service in November 2019. The renovations at Wollaston Station are a major part of a series of signal, rail, and other infrastructure upgrades along the Red Line. With customers’ safety a top priority and to complete the project on time, Wollaston Station will temporarily close for approximately twenty months beginning in late December 2017 with an anticipated re-opening in August 2019. Red Line trains will bypass Wollaston Station during the closure with dedicated bus service between Wollaston and North Quincy Stations. Previous MBTA successes in renovation construction with station shutdowns include Government Center, Orient Heights, and Science Park Stations. In addition, to support the most efficient completion of the project, beginning in mid-November 2017, weeknight Red Line service along the Braintree Branch after 9 p.m. will be replaced with shuttle buses. It is also anticipated that, beginning in January 2018, Saturday and Sunday Red Line service between North Quincy and Braintree Stations will also be replaced with shuttle buses during eighteen weekends over the course of approximately twenty-four months. Demolition work at the Quincy Center Station Garage, which was closed in July 2012 due to structural concerns, is also scheduled to begin in early 2018. As part of the work at Quincy Center Station, the existing elevator will be completely replaced and an accessible entrance at Burgin Parkway will be added. Construction of the project will occur through December 2018 for a construction value of $13 million. The station will remain open and fully functional during construction. Additional Red Line South Side upgrades are also planned at the Braintree and Quincy Adams parking garages. Renovations to the garages at these stations will bring the facilities to a state of good repair with an anticipated useful life of forty years, improve accessibility, and provide for more efficient and improved parking layout. Included are structural repairs, replaced drainage systems, upgraded fire alarm, CCTV, electrical, and emergency power systems, and full replacement of lighting systems. Accessibility upgrades include two new elevators at Braintree Garage as well as improvements to both garages in wayfinding signage and better traffic circulation for accessibility vehicles, wheelchair access, and pedestrian movement. Construction of both garages is anticipated to begin in early 2018 with an estimated construction contract value of $90 million. Both garages will remain in service during the construction period. (MBTA - posted 9/22)

CSX RAPIDLY RESTORES SERVICE FOLLOWING HURRICANE IRMA: CSX rapidly restored service throughout the areas affected by Hurricane Irma and continues to show improvement on key service metrics as the railroad advances its implementation of Precision Scheduled Railroading. CSX President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison today said, “I’m extraordinarily proud of our team of dedicated railroaders, who worked tirelessly to prepare for and respond to the impacts of Hurricane Irma. Thanks to the dedication of these individuals, CSX was able to quickly and safely restore service to its customers, while continuing to make progress in the transition to our new operating model.” Following Hurricane Irma, which struck Florida on Sunday, Sept. 10, with devastating winds and flooding, CSX re-established rail service in most of the southeast U.S. within hours, into and out of northern Florida within 24 hours, and throughout the vast majority of the state within one week. Restoring service required clearing nearly 8,000 fallen trees from obstructed tracks and deploying hundreds of generators to operate railroad signals and crossings in response to widespread commercial power outages. Prior to the storm, CSX evacuated more than 1,500 rail cars from the State of Florida, and held nearly 200 trains and thousands of cars to avoid damage from the hurricane. Despite the impacts of Irma, key service metrics show that CSX’s operational performance continues to improve. Terminal dwell times have decreased for seven consecutive weeks, while train velocity has steadily increased over the last four weeks, excluding localized hurricane impacts. “We’re back on our feet and committed to fully implementing our new operating model,” Harrison said. “We remain confident that Precision Scheduled Railroading will provide lasting benefits to our customers, our employees and our shareholders.” In addition to restoring rail operations, CSX also has been active in helping communities and individuals recover from the impacts of Hurricane Irma through charitable contributions and in-kind donations to local, state and national relief agencies. Among them, CSX has contributed $100,000 and up to $50,000 in in-kind transportation services to Feeding Florida, to provide food and supplies to residents of the state affected by the recent storm. CSX also has worked with the State of Florida to expedite critical shipments of propane, animal feed and other commodities essential for residents of the peninsula. “CSX is committed to the wellbeing of the communities in which we operate,” said Harrison. “We are honored to partner with Feeding Florida to support Irma relief efforts throughout the state.” ( CSX - posted 9/21)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN FOUNDATION SUPPORTS HURRICANE IRMA RECOVERY EFFORTS: The Norfolk Southern Foundation is donating $100,000 and will match certain Norfolk Southern employee gifts as part of efforts to help people recover from Hurricane Irma. The Foundation, Norfolk Southern’s charitable giving arm, will give $50,000 to the American Red Cross and $25,000 each to the Feeding Tampa Bay and Feeding South Florida food banks. The Foundation will match employee donations for relief efforts made to the American Red Cross and Feeding America food banks, including members Feeding Tampa Bay and Feeding South Florida. About 200 Norfolk Southern employees live and work in Florida. Norfolk Southern is making interest-free loans of up to $10,000 to employees in Florida and elsewhere who sustained damage to their primary residences or loss of household property caused by severe storms and flooding associated with Irma. The Norfolk Southern Foundation earlier this month donated $50,000 each to the American Red Cross and Houston Food Bank to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts. (Norfolk Southern - posted 9/21)

NJ TRANSIT IMPLEMENTS NEW RAIL SAFETY UPGRADES IN PAST YEAR: NJ TRANSIT has implemented a variety of rail safety upgrades over the past year and is looking at additional enhancements for the future, as part of its commitment to safety. Rail Operations is currently in the process of replacing all stub end tracks at Hoboken Terminal with new sliding friction bumper blocks as well as advancing a speed control system for trains entering Hoboken Terminal. Other initiatives this past year include enhanced sleep apnea screening and testing, adding additional personnel to the front of trains entering certain stations and reducing speed limits. “As we approach the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident at Hoboken Terminal, and while the cause has not been identified, NJ TRANSIT continues taking immediate actions to better protect our customers, our employees and the public,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steve Santoro. “The steps we’ve taken so far are moving us in the right direction and we continually raise the bar higher each and every day. Safety is a demand that I will not compromise or negotiate on.” NJ TRANSIT hired an outside contractor to conduct a detailed inspection of all of the bumper blocks in Hoboken Terminal, and to provide a recommendation for the type of bumper block to replace the damage block on Track 5. As a result, a decision was made to replace all of the bumper blocks with sliding friction bumper blocks at Hoboken Terminal, the Atlantic City Rail Terminal and the Meadowlands Rail Station – all stub end stations. In addition, NJ TRANSIT is also advancing the speed control system for trains approaching the end of the platform at Hoboken Terminal. Over the course of the past year, NJ TRANSIT has implemented the following safety initiatives.
  • In October 2016, NJ TRANSIT implemented an interim measure where any safety sensitive rail employee who exhibits any indication of potential fatigue symptoms is immediately removed from service until they obtain the appropriate documentation attesting to the satisfactory results or the condition is not present. This initiative was formalized as policy in April 2017.
  • To date, 350 of 370 engineers and nearly a third of more than a thousand conductors have been screened for sleep apnea. By the end of September, all locomotive engineers will be screened for sleep apnea.
  • NJ TRANSIT has advanced the installation of forward and inward facing cameras on trains. To date, nearly 84% of trains now have forward facing cameras and more than 73% of the rail fleet has inward facing cameras, which are focused on the engineer’s actions. NJ TRANSIT expects to have both cameras in the entire fleet by year’s end.
  • Rail Operations implemented a new initiative which requires the conductor to ride in the front cab of trains, along with the engineer, when entering terminals in Hoboken, Penn Station New York, Atlantic City, Princeton, Gladstone and the Meadowlands station.
  • Speed limits entering Hoboken, Atlantic City, Princeton and the Meadowlands Rail Station have been reduced from 10 mph to 5 mph as a proactive measure.
  • Rail Operations has increased the penalty for cell phone infractions, now up to a 90 day suspension for a first time violation.
  • The Office of System Safety (OSS) continues to hire and backfill key safety positions including a Deputy Chief Safety Officer, Industrial Hygienist, Environmental Safety Specialist and Safety Education Program Specialist.
  • OSS conducted 16 safety blitzes at key grade crossings and stations to educate and reinforce rail safety to customers and the public.
  • This past year, the New Jersey Transit Police Department worked with a number of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and emergency responders, providing emergency response training for 750 first responders, and rail safety training for an additional 550 first responders.
(NJ Transit - posted 9/21)

DUNKIN DONUTS/AMTRAK PARTERNSHIP EXPANDED TO NORTHEAST DIRECT SERVICE: Partnership Launched Earlier this Year with Original Blend and Dunkin’ Decaf® Hot Coffees on Acela Express Trains on the Northeast Corridor Dunkin’ Donuts and Amtrak today announced the expansion of their partnership to now offer Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend and Dunkin’ Decaf hot coffee on board Amtrak Northeast Regional trains. The newest phase of this partnership follows the successful April launch of Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee on board Amtrak Acela Express high-speed trains throughout the Northeast Corridor. With the expanded partnership, Dunkin’ Donuts’ signature hot coffee will be available to nearly 12 million customers who ride Northeast Regional and Acela Express services each year. Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee will be served all day in First Class and Café cars, and will be brewed using the same equipment featured in Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants to ensure the same high quality and great taste enjoyed by millions of Dunkin’ guests each and every day. “After a successful Acela Express launch, we’re excited to expand our partnership with Amtrak and serve those traveling to more than 50 stops between Richmond, VA and Boston, MA,” said Brian Gilbert, Dunkin’ Donuts Senior Director, New Business Development. “Whether guests are traveling for business or leisure in the Northeast, they’ll have Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee to keep them energized throughout the trip.” “We are excited to provide even more of our customers with an elevated coffee experience,” said Thomas J. Hall, Amtrak Vice President Passenger Experience. “Our expanded partnership offers customers more of what they told us they want on board – variety, value and higher quality options. As two brands who share a commitment to providing a distinctive and premium customer experience, Amtrak and Dunkin’ Donuts are a great partnership.” Northeast Regional is one of Amtrak’s most popular services on the nation’s busiest rail corridor, offering hourly service to New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond and Lynchburg, VA, and other intermediate cities. Northeast Regional customers can skip the hassle of I-95 traffic and enjoy the benefits and comforts of train travel including more legroom and spacious seats. Amtrak’s Northeast Regional service has led significant growth in revenue and market share in the Northeast, increasing from 6.8 million customers in Fiscal Year 2007 to 8.4 million customers in Fiscal Year 2016. (Amtrak - posted 9/20)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEKN ENDING SEPTEMBER 16, 2017: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 530,774 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending September 16 were 260,771 carloads, down 3.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 270,003 containers and trailers, up 0.9 percent compared to 2016. One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. It was metallic ores and metals, up 3,292 carloads, to 24,696. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,552 carloads, to 9,083; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,063 carloads, to 16,605; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,943 carloads, to 14,625. For the first 37 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,570,798 carloads, up 4.1 percent from the same point last year; and 9,860,655 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 37 weeks of 2017 was 19,431,453 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.7 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending September 16, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 362,507 carloads, up 0.002 percent compared with the same week last year, and 353,452 intermodal units, up 4.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 715,959 carloads and intermodal units, up 2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 37 weeks of 2017 was 25,760,998 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 86,678 carloads for the week, up 11.9 percent, and 72,269 intermodal units, up 17.5 percent compared with the same week in 2016 and the most for any week in history for Canadian railroads. For the first 37 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,325,540 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,058 carloads for the week, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,180 intermodal units, up 7.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 37 weeks of 2017 was 1,004,005 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.7 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 9/20)

SOUTHWEST GULF RAILROAD BEGINS CONSTRUCTION ON THE MEDINA LINE: Southwest Gulf Railroad Company (SGRR) has officially broken ground on The Medina Line, a common carrier railroad located approximately 30 miles west of San Antonio. Expected to be complete in 2019, the 9-mile line will help customers leverage SGRR's unique access to the Union Pacific (UP) and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) railroads as well as U.S. Route 90 to serve growing markets in Texas and beyond. "The Medina Line represents a timely opportunity for employers to enhance their supply and distribution capabilities to better serve the growing economy," said Erik Remmert, Vice President of SGRR. "We're marketing a low-cost, convenient connection to the regional, national and global marketplace." The existing limestone quarry at the northern end of the line operated by SGRR parent Vulcan Materials Company will serve as The Medina Line's initial, anchor customer. "Medina County is strategically positioned to tap into the underlying strength of the Texas economy and the rebuilding of our nation's infrastructure," said Jeff Lott, Southwest Division President at Vulcan Materials Company. "With the continuing recovery creating demand for construction materials in Texas and the Gulf Coast, The Medina Line will better connect the Vulcan Medina Quarry and other customers to serve the market while creating local jobs and economic opportunity here in Medina County." "For Medina County, this is just the start of an economic engine that will generate new jobs, new tax revenues and spur economic growth for Texas," said Remmert. "Interest from prospective customers and employers is strong, and that's exciting to see." Incorporated in 2003, SGRR is a subsidiary of Vulcan Materials Company, the nation's largest producer of construction aggregates and a major producer of other construction materials. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board in 2008 granted SGRR the authority to build and operate The Medina Line. (Southwest Gulf Railroad Company - posted 9/19)

NEW RAY-MONT LOGISTICS TRANSLOAD FACILITY WELCOMES ITS FIRST UNIT TRAIN IN PRINCE RUPERT: CN and Ray-Mont Logistics are proud to announce that the first unit train bringing agricultural products to Ray-Mont's new transload facility has arrived in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The first unit train transported canola meal pellets from Western Canada on CN's line. The new facility, which officially opened for business on August 31, is currently the only unit train stuffing facility on Canada's west coast, helping crops transported by CN from Western and Central Canada as well as the American Midwest reach international markets. "We recognize the importance of making Canadian grain competitive on the global market," said Doug MacDonald, CN vice president of bulk. "As such we are pleased to play a role in innovative supply chain partnerships such as this one that will benefit the grain industry." The 10-acre facility includes a 100-car rail loop corridor, a grain dumper pit, as well as a state-of-the-art conveyance system and will transload grain and processed grain products from CN hoppers to ocean liner containers for export. The facility handles agricultural products transported from the US and Canada in order to meet the increasing demand for containerized grain in international markets. Located on Ridley Island, adjacent to the newly expanded Port of Prince Rupert Fairview Container Terminal and connected to CN's extensive network, Ray-Mont Logistics offers a supply chain solution that will change the containerized agricultural product market in Western Canada and offer unparalleled opportunity for agricultural commodity exporters. "Efficient logistics and innovative transloading go hand in hand and are future-oriented," said Charles Raymond, president and chief executive officer of Ray-Mont Logistics International. "With top class partners like CN, this project will allow our customers, with current and emerging markets, to grow their exports exponentially - and we are proud to be an active participant." (CN - posted 9/19)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENHANCED 53RD STREET R SUBWAY STATION OPENS IN SUNSET PARK: MTA New York City Transit today opened the new 53 Street R Station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn ahead of schedule. Completed in less than six months, the new station is the first of 33 to undergo extensive, accelerated renovations to create new and improved design standards for subway stations and undertake extensive renovations across the city. The program builds upon a larger campaign aimed at improving the New York City Transit system. The MTA is undertaking component and renewal work at more than 170 other stations. The new 53 Street station includes countdown clocks at each of its five entrances, enhanced LED lighting, WiFi connectivity, new digital displays throughout the station, USB ports, and an upgraded security system. In the fare control area, glass barriers have replaced metal bars, enhancing sightlines and allowing more light to enter the station. A pair of the station’s entrances feature new canopies. Other upgrades include wayfinding floor tiles for the visually-impaired, new handrails, stair treads, wall tiles, granite flooring, and light rail fixtures. The station was completed under a design-build contract which designates a single team to be responsible for the design and construction of an entire project. Design-build ensures seamless coordination between all contractors on a project and that work is completed in the shortest possible time frame. The MTA is utilizing design-build for all 33 stations that are a part of this initiative. "We got the job done quickly and efficiently. Our teams have worked day and night to complete work on this extensively renovated station in just a little over five months,” said Ronnie Hakim, Managing Director, MTA. “As a result customers who use the station will now have a wide array of new tools to manage their commutes, including digital screens, countdown clocks located before the turnstiles and on the platforms, USB ports, and Wi-Fi connectivity. And this is just the beginning – we look forward to opening additional enhanced stations at locations across the city."” The station also includes a new mosaic art installation from Mickalene Thomas, an internationally renowned Brooklyn artist. The collage-like design juxtaposes textile patterns with the imagery of plants found in New York, bringing the beauty of nature and domestic interiors into the station. A repeating geometric pattern of emanating concentric rings carries throughout the piece like a photo flash or solar flare. The mosaic was commissioned by MTA Arts & Design. The project was awarded on November 30, 2016 along with two other stations, Prospect Avenue Station and Bay Ridge Avenue Station, as part of a fast tracked design build project. In order to accelerate the project, The 53 Street Station was closed on March 27, 2017, giving the contractor the ability to complete the work in the shortest possible time frame. (MTA - posted 9/08)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 26, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending August 26, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 551,776 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending August 26 were 272,153 carloads, up 1 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,623 containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent compared to 2016. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included coal, up 4,756 carloads, to 96,317; metallic ores and metals, up 2,467 carloads, to 23,941; and nonmetallic minerals, up 2,444 carloads, to 39,999. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included motor vehicles and parts, down 3,237 carloads, to 16,156; grain, down 1,845 carloads, to 19,881; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,532 carloads, to 14,926. For the first 34 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,805,020 carloads, up 4.9 percent from the same point last year; and 9,075,045 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 34 weeks of 2017 was 17,880,065 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending August 26, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 371,895 carloads, up 4.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 363,257 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 735,152 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 34 weeks of 2017 was 23,674,601 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 82,484 carloads for the week, up 15.2 percent, and 71,079 intermodal units, up 10.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 34 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,872,097 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,258 carloads for the week, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,555 intermodal units, up 10.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 34 weeks of 2017 was 922,439 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.3 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/30)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PATH WEEKDAY RIDERSHIP BREAKS MONTHLY RECORD IN JULY, BUT STRONG PLANNING AND EXECUTION TURNS POTENTIAL “SUMMER OF HELL” INTO SMOOTHER RIDE FOR CUSTOMERS: Average weekday ridership throughout the PATH system in July reached nearly 298,000 passengers, a 9.2-percent increase over July 2016 -- and the highest average weekday ridership for any month since the Port Authority took over the rail line in 1962. Six percent of the weekday increase consisted of NJ Transit ticket holders cross-honored at the Hoboken, 33rd Street and World Trade Center stations as a result of Amtrak’s major Penn Station New York infrastructure work. PATH’s strategy to add trains, reduce headways between Hoboken and 33rd Street and deploy additional volunteer staff to the cross-honoring stations for customer assistance has helped ease commuting burdens for PATH customers and affected NJ Transit passengers. On-time performance has remained at a remarkable 98 percent on average since the Amtrak work began July 10. “For our customers and our employees, this could have been the ‘summer of hell,’ as many had predicted. It hasn’t been,” said Port Authority Board Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “That’s a tribute to PATH General Manager/Director Mike Marino and his highly skilled and experienced team.” “We recognize that the challenges of this summer are not over,’’ said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “But carrying the highest number of monthly passengers in its entire history, with a 98-percent on-time performance in July, represents an extraordinary performance.” O’Toole and Cotton conducted an extensive tour of PATH assets and facilities last week to learn more about the system and its people. Since July 10, a weekday average of 22,970 Midtown Direct NJ Transit riders were diverted to the Hoboken PATH station because of Amtrak’s infrastructure renewal project at New York Penn Station. The infrastructure work is scheduled to be completed September 1. Including weekend customers, PATH’s July ridership reached 7.13 million passengers, an overall rise of 8.5 percent over July 2016. Saturday ridership was up about 6 percent, with Sundays showing a 3.8-percent increase. “We anticipated that July would be an extremely busy month, so we’re not surprised by the numbers,” said PATH Director Marino. “With an emphasis on preparation and execution since the Penn Station work began, we believe we’ve provided good service to our customers. They are our top priority and we thank them for their patience and perseverance.” PATH leadership and the Port Authority’s Office of Emergency Management continue to be in regular communication with its regional transportation partners affected by the Penn Station project to review current operating plans and to develop additional contingency plans, as needed. (PANYNJ - posted 8/20)

CONSTRUCTION OF MOYNIHAN TRAIN HALL TO BEGIN SOON: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the start of major construction of the Moynihan Train Hall, a world-class transportation hub for the 21st century. The Farley Building redevelopment into the Moynihan Train Hall will create a new 255,000-square-foot Train Hall for Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passengers and increase total concourse floor space in the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex by more than 50 percent. The Farley Building will also house 700,000 square feet of new commercial, retail and dining space within the mixed-use facility and create an iconic civic space for Manhattan's West Side. "For decades, passengers were promised a world-class train hall worthy of New York - today, we are delivering on that promise and turning that dream into a reality," said Governor Cuomo. "We are transforming the Farley Post Office into a state-of-the-art transit hub to get travelers where they need to go faster and more comfortably. With better access to trains and subways, vibrant retail and business opportunities and stunning architectural design, we are bringing Penn Station into the 21st century."(SEPTA The Governor also announced the completion of the first significant milestone in the construction of the transformative Penn-Farley Complex announced by the Governor in September 2016, as workers finished demolishing the former sorting room floor slab. This accomplishment - five months ahead of schedule - will enable Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA, the developer-builder team, to begin full construction of the train hall, including the one-acre skylight. Since September 2016, significant progress has been made to prepare the James A. Farley Post Office building for this dramatic transformation. To date, Skanska has removed more than one acre of concrete and steel flooring to increase the vertical space underneath Moynihan Train Hall's future skylight. This process entailed the demolition of 6,000 tons of concrete and the removal of approximately 800 tons of steel, as well as an additional 400 tons of hazardous materials. Skanska has also made significant progress in the interior demolition of all five floors of the Farley Building. The Farley Building was designed by McKim, Mead and White as a sister to their masterpiece - the original Pennsylvania Station. Five decades after the loss of the original structure, the Moynihan Train Hall will once again provide New Yorkers a grand entrance in a McKim, Mead and White architectural marvel. The Farley Building's train hall will bear the name of one of its great champions - the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The Farley Building's Moynihan Train Hall will feature a new, spectacular 92-foot high skylight that will rest upon the building's historic and architecturally-dramatic steel trusses. All LIRR and Amtrak trains will be served by the nine platforms and 17 tracks that will be accessible from the Train Hall, serviced by eleven escalators and seven elevators. The Train Hall will provide a direct connection to the Eighth Avenue Subway and create direct access to the train station from 9th Avenue for the first time, bringing unparalleled regional transportation options within convenient reach of the booming Hudson Yards and Far West Side areas. In addition to the demolition and removal of existing materials, work has begun on many new features of the Penn-Farley Complex, including:
  • Restoration of the exterior façade on 31st Street and the interior courtyards;
  • Creation of new openings to accommodate escalators carrying passengers to platform level;
  • Shielding three of six underground train platforms for demolition and construction operations; and
  • Installation of 100 tons of new steel.
The $1.6 billion project is being funded with $550 million from the State, $420 million from Amtrak, the MTA, the Port Authority and a federal grant, and $630 million from the joint venture developers. The new Train Hall is targeted for completion by the end of 2020. The Moynihan Train Hall is part of the $2.5 billion transformation of the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex announced by Governor Cuomo in January 2016 to dramatically modernize, upgrade and redesign America's busiest transit hub into a world-class facility for the 21st century. The complex also includes a comprehensive redesign of the LIRR's existing 33rd Street concourse at Penn Station and an extensive renovation to the adjacent Seventh and Eighth Avenue subway stations. The plan will include nearly tripling the width of the 33rd Street Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station's lower level from Seventh to Eighth Avenue. Other improvements include upgraded lighting and wayfinding and digital screens to convey information and create a modern passenger experience. (Governor Andrew M. Cuomo - posted 8/18)

PHILADELPHIA SUBURAN STATON UPGRADES: Enhancing the journey for Philadelphians, commuters and visitors in one of the busiest transit hubs in the city, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Intersection are teaming up to deliver new digital services-Wi-Fi, interactive information kiosks and device charging-to customers in Suburban Station. The more than 25,000 customers who are served by Suburban Station each day now have access to free gigabit high-speed Wi-Fi, ten new interactive kiosks that offer real-time transit information, interactive wayfinding and maps, and two device charging stations that will be installed soon. In addition to the Suburban Station upgrades, Intersection will deploy nearly 300 new interactive digital displays with real-time train updates across subway and commuter rail lines. This initiative will provide riders with information to ease their commutes and advertisers with more opportunities to reach their audiences. "We are delighted that this partnership brings huge benefits to our riders at no cost to taxpayers," said SEPTA's General Manager, Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "From high-speed Wi-Fi to device charging, to interactive directions, to better access of real-time information and alerts-it's a win-win to continually think about how we can modernize our customers' experiences." "Our mission at Intersection is to ease and enrich people's journeys through their cities, and this partnership with SEPTA does exactly that at zero cost to SEPTA or its customers." added Scott Goldsmith, President, Cities and Transit, at Intersection. "Together with SEPTA and our transit partners around the country, we look forward to finding new and innovative ways to bring critical value to customers, cities and brands." (SEPTA - posted 8/18)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ENCOURAGES ECLIPSE VIEWERS TO BE CAREFUL AROUND RAILROAD TRACKS: As skygazers prepare for the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. since 1979, Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) is encouraging viewers to stay away from railroad tracks. Norfolk Southern trains run around the clock in all weather and lighting conditions and will continue to operate during the Aug. 21 eclipse. The full solar eclipse will be visible from seven states across Norfolk Southern's 22-state network, while a partial eclipse will be seen across the railroad's entire system. The full eclipse will last two minutes and 30 seconds. In that time, a freight train traveling 50 mph can cover 2.1 miles and take more than a mile to come to a complete stop. Walking on or close to railroad tracks is dangerous and illegal. Many rail cars extend up to six feet beyond the rails. "We want you to remain safe while viewing this historic event. If you are near railroad tracks and distracted by the eclipse, you are putting yourself in serious jeopardy," said Chip Feininger, Norfolk Southern's system safety coordinator. Those seeking optimal views of the eclipse should not walk on or beside railroad tracks or climb railroad trestles. Cross tracks only at designated rail crossings. In addition, motorists should not attempt to view the eclipse while driving or stopping their car near the tracks for a better view. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 977 people nationwide in 2016 were injured or lost their lives after being struck by a train while trespassing on or near railroad tracks. (Norfolk Southern - posted 8/17)

FRAMINGHAM IMPROVEMENTS: The Baker-Polito Administration as well as state and regional transit officials today celebrated the ribbon cutting of the Framingham Commuter Rail Station Parking Lot. Management of Framingham Commuter Rail Station, including the station’s parking areas, was transferred to the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) in a lease agreement with the MBTA in October 2016. The ceremony was attended by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, MassDOT CEO and Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Interim MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, Keolis Commuter Services CEO and General Manager David Scorey, MWRTA Administrator Ed Carr, Senator Kern Spilka, and Representative Chris Walsh. “The improvements to the Framingham Commuter Rail station highlight an important partnership between the Commonwealth, MBTA, and community partners like the MWRTA to better serve our passengers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is committed to improving the services, experiences, and reliability that benefit riders across the MBTA, Commuter Rail, and RTA networks.” Since the public partnership project between MWRTA and the MBTA, Framingham Commuter Rail Station has undergone extensive improvements to enhance the customer experience. A new parking lot alongside the outbound platform was built to offset the demand for additional commuter parking, resulting in exponential parking revenue growth. The north side parking lot also underwent extensive changes to become one-way and accommodate more intermodal customers with a larger bus stop location. “The services provided by the MWRTA and the MBTA are important to helping thousands of riders get to work and school each day,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “By working together to improve transportation across Massachusetts, we continue to strengthen our communities and support economic development along the Framingham/Worcester line and throughout the system.” “The MBTA’s partnership with MWRTA proves that significant progress can be made through collaborative engagements like these,” said Secretary Pollack. “Through MWRTA’s successful efforts, this parking area, along with new security features, improved bus access, and new bike lockers, furthers the commitment to creating intermodal transit access for the Framingham community.” Security improvements at Framingham Station have also resulted in a 75 percent decrease in downtown criminal activity from 2015 to 2016. The security improvements have included updated lighting at the station, the hiring of onsite security personnel, the installation of 24-hour surveillance, and MWRTA’s work with the MBTA to add new fencing to prevent illegal track trespasses. Other amenities include new accessible sidewalks and crosswalks, the installation of new bike lockers in order to advance the creation of the Intermodal Hub, updated parking lot and station platform signage, solar trash and recycling receptacles, additional advertising space, public portable restrooms, and a commuter information board. New inbound and outbound stairwells to the commuter bridge are also forthcoming. “Our partnership with MWRTA has resulted in station improvements that have lowered operating costs for the T and provided a better, safer, more accessible commuting experience for our riders,” said Interim GM Poftak. “We look forward to continuing our work with MWRTA and in pursuing future partnerships that successfully benefit our customers like this one.” Through the October 2016 lease agreement, MWRTA provides onsite management of Framingham Station’s surrounding parking lots. A designated Parking Customer Service phone line and email were also established to connect with commuters who have questions and concerns. A fulltime Intermodal Operations Manager was also hired by MWRTA to oversee day-to-day operations and maintenance of the facility. “We are thankful for the funding needed to complete Phase I of this Framingham Intermodal project. We are now using revenue generated by Phase I to begin Phase II. We are grateful to the Secretary for this opportunity,” said MWRTA Administrator Carr. These improvements have led to increased ridership at the Framingham Commuter Rail Station, located on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail Line. Since its construction in 1885, Framingham Station has been a key fixture in the state and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its design. The modern station serves MBTA Commuter Rail, MWRTA buses, and Amtrak. The Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail Line has also undergone additional infrastructure improvements, including restored double-tracking and the replacement of more than 50,000 rail ties, to increase performance reliability and reduce heat-related speed restrictions. The MBTA’s private Commuter Rail operator and partner Keolis Commuter Services helps to identify infrastructure upgrades and implements many of these enhancements throughout the network in close coordination with the MBTA. “In partnership with several local transit organizations and businesses, including Keolis, the MBTA has invested considerable resources recently in both time and money to improve service on this line,” said Keolis Commuter Services CEO and General Manager Scorey. “These investments are critical in order to achieve our shared goal of growing ridership in such a way that attracts commuters and recreational passengers alike, while also reducing congestion on our roadways.” The MWRTA was formed in 2006 by the Massachusetts Legislature to help serve the public transportation needs of the 32-town region known as the I-495/MetroWest corridor. (MBTA - posted 8/17)

AMTRAK FULL DOME IN SERVICE ON DOWNEASTER TRAINS: Ride the Downeaster* between August 19 and September 24, 2017 and experience panoramic views of the scenic villages, coastline, marshes, streams and landscapes from Amtrak’s Great Dome Car. This vintage car was built in 1955 and features an upper level with windows on all sides (including the roof). Dome Car seats are available at no extra cost when you purchase a ticket on a Downeaster Dome Car train. Access to the Dome Care is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Passengers are encouraged to rotate in and out of the Dome Car to allow all passengers the ability to enjoy this unique experience. We've even put together quick and fun day trip ideas from each Downeaster Station (see below). The Great Dome Car is available on the following Downeaster trains:
  • Monday-Friday Weekday Train #682, #683, #688, #689
  • Saturday Trains #692, #693, #696, #697
  • Sunday Trains #690, #691, #698, #699
(Downeaster - posted 8/16)

STEAMTOWN NIGHT PHOTO SESSION: Will be held on Saturday, September 2, 2017 at Steamtown National Historic Site Ticket Price $25, purchase at www.project3713.com Lighting and Staging by Steve Barry of Railfan & Railroad Magazine, Subject Matter Roundhouse/Turntable scene with GTW 6039, BLW 26 with freight at sand tower, and A-B-A DL&W F-3’s at Mattes St. Tower Be sure to: Wear sturdy walking shoes, Bring a working flashlight, Bring a tripod & cable release, Arrive promptly for orientation and wrist band Timeline
  • 7:15pm- Receive Wrist Band & Mandatory Orientation in Steamtown Theater
  • 7:30pm- Gates Locked
  • 8:00pm- Photo Session 10:00pm Maximum Attendance: 75 (divided into 3 groups of 25) **No Refunds**
(posted 8/16)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 12, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending August 12, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 548,790 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending August 12 were 268,364 carloads, up 0.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 280,426 containers and trailers, up 5.1 percent compared to 2016. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included coal, up 5,689 carloads, to 94,593; nonmetallic minerals, up 3,779 carloads, to 40,794; and chemicals, up 1,169 carloads, to 31,621. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 6,161 carloads, to 19,080; petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,807 carloads, to 8,692; and motor vehicles and parts, down 1,277 carloads, to 16,166. For the first 32 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,260,255 carloads, up 5.1 percent from the same point last year; and 8,513,076 intermodal units, up 3.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 32 weeks of 2017 was 16,773,331 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending August 12, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 359,244 carloads, up 2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 363,979 intermodal units, up 7.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 723,223 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 32 weeks of 2017 was 22,206,631 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 74,885 carloads for the week, up 8 percent, and 70,969 intermodal units, up 14.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 32 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,568,779 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,995 carloads for the week, up 4.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,584 intermodal units, up 15 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 32 weeks of 2017 was 864,521 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, essentially flat compared to the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/16)

MBTA NAMES GENERAL MANAGER/CEO: Luis Manuel Ramírez, whose three-decade business career has included successful turnarounds with divisions of some of the nation’s biggest corporations, will be the next General Manager/CEO of the MBTA, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack announced today. Ramírez, 50, who most recently has run his own strategic and turnaround business consulting firm, will succeed Interim GM Steve Poftak on September 12. “From Day One, we were looking for a candidate with a solid track record of leading large and complex organizations through transformation and change,” said Pollack. “His unique personal background, deep exposure to a range of challenges and constituencies, and proven leadership skills make Luis the right person to lead the MBTA as it continues to become the world-class transit agency our riders expect and deserve. With the support he’ll have from the strong operational and other leadership already at the T, Luis will get up to speed very quickly.” Ramírez, whose Cuban refugee father operated a crop-dusting plant and later a roofing business in Florida, worked his way through high school as a supermarket bag boy and restaurant worker and continued to work through university before beginning a corporate career marked by increasingly important posts at firms including Unisys Corporation, Siemens AG, and General Electric Corp. While at GE from 2000 to 2012, Ramírez was steadily promoted into positions with greater challenges and responsibilities. He finished his career with the company as a GE Vice President and Corporate Officer and President and CEO of GE’s Energy Industrial Solutions business, where he was responsible for 17,000 employees operating in 60 countries, delivering $3.5 billion in annual revenue. Throughout his career, Ramírez has worked with a wide range of domestic and international interests and stakeholders, including governmental entities and unionized workforces. “As we continue to invest in and reform the MBTA, it is critical to have an experienced individual with turn-around experience at the helm working to improve service for riders,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Luis has a proven skill-set that I am sure will serve him well as he joins the team working toward meaningful reforms for commuters and taxpayers. Thank you, Steve Poftak, for your work improving operations at the T and I look forward to Luis joining Secretary Pollack’s talented team.” Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville, who served on the GM/CEO search committee, said Ramírez’ skill sets and background will serve to strengthen T operations. “Even in the limited time I’ve spent with him, I can see that Luis understands and appreciates the hard work and talent of our employees who keep this system running every day,” said Gonneville. “The deep managerial experience he brings to the T will help us achieve even greater operational excellence.” Fiscal and Management Control Board Chairman Joseph Aiello noted that Ramírez’ contract is for three years, with two one-year mutual options to extend. “After going through six permanent or acting general managers since 2011, the T and its workforce will benefit from seasoned and stable leadership at the top.” Aiello noted that Ramírez has a history of staying in his various positions as long as it takes to implement necessary change and improvement. Ramirez said he is anxious to bring his extensive experience, from overseeing billion dollar portfolios to managing major technology upgrades and communicating with stakeholders, to the T. “I am excited about joining a great team at the T to build upon the progress they have already made,” he said. “Going forward, we need financial discipline, we need operational excellence, and we also need strategy. But in everything we do, the overriding objective will be to put the customer first.” MBTA Administrative Officer Michael Abramo said Ramírez’ vast executive experience “will help to further the transformation of the MBTA into a more efficient and effective organization.” Ramírez is moving to Boston with his wife Delia Garced, Vice President, Market Activation, GE Digital. She will work out of GE’s Boston headquarters. They have two children. Fluent in English, Spanish, and German, Ramírez is a member of CEO Connection, which helps mid-market CEOs and their companies succeed, and the National Association of Corporate Directors. (MBTA - posted 8/15)

WASHINGTON METRO WIRELESS: Metro and the nation's leading wireless carriers - AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless - today announced the availability of additional wireless voice and data service in the first downtown tunnel segments on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. Metro riders can now enjoy uninterrupted wireless access to text, voice and data services when traveling between Metro Center and Stadium-Armory stations. The third underground segment debuting today, Metro Center to Potomac Avenue, provides a seamless connection to the first segment launched in December 2016 between Potomac Ave and the Stadium-Armory tunnel portal. The addition of the new tunnel segments, extend underground wireless coverage to 3.7 miles of tunnels in each direction on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines. Metro and the wireless carriers previously installed wireless voice and data service in all underground Metro stations and in April introduced service on the Red Line from Glenmont Station to the Silver Spring Station tunnel portal. The activation of additional tunnel segments will be announced as collaborative work continues, with all tunnels projected to be covered by December 2020 (Washington Metro- posted 8/15)

NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER THAT WILL REFORM INFRASTURE PERMITTING PROCESS: Today, U.S. Secretary Elaine L. Chao joined President Donald J. Trump as he signed a new Executive Order that will streamline the permitting and review processes for infrastructure projects. The Executive Order, entitled, “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects,” streamlines our environmental review system and removes current roadblocks in order to ensure a faster and more efficient permitting process for America’s major infrastructure projects. “The average environmental review takes nearly five years, and infrastructure projects can be subject to at least 65 different requirements and permits,” Secretary Chao said. “This new Executive Order will slash the time it takes to get vital new infrastructure projects approved and delivered.” “At the Department of Transportation, we are already putting the Administration’s principles into action. We’ve identified more than two dozen policies and rules that will streamline project delivery and environmental permitting,” Secretary Chao continued. “We also launched our INFRA grant program to reflect the priorities outlined in the President’s infrastructure initiative, such as incorporating more funding from state, local and private partners, encouraging the use of innovative permitting authorities and bringing greater accountability into the process.” Secretary Chao added, “Together, our goal is to ensure greater impact for every dollar spent, faster project delivery, better performance and a balanced approach that reaches the entire country, urban and rural alike.” The Executive Order allows OMB, in consultation with Federal Permitting Improvement Screening Council (FPISC) agencies, to establish a Cross Agency Priority (CAP) goal for environmental reviews and permitting of infrastructure projects. OMB will develop a quarterly scorecard of agency progress in meeting the goals, and progress will be tracked on performance.gov. Additionally, the Executive Order requires major infrastructure projects to be processed as “One Federal Decision” with a comprehensive schedule and automatic elevation to senior agency officials upon missing or extending a milestone. The policy of “One Federal Decision” will make the federal government speak with one voice regarding the environmental review and permitting of a major infrastructure project. It also establishes an interagency working group to review each agency’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations and environmental permitting policies for impediments and calls for each agency to develop an action plan for removing those impediments. (USDOT- posted 8/15)

CP LAUNCHES DIRECT SERVICE FROM VANCOUVER TO DETROIT: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited today announced the launch of the most direct rail transportation service between Vancouver and Detroit, a service that extends CP's reach and increases optionality and access to key markets for shippers. Leveraging CP's newest transload facility in Vancouver and its innovative live-lift operation at Portal, North Dakota to accelerate cross-border shipments, this new service can cut transit times from the West Coast to Detroit by as much as 48 hours compared with our nearest competitors. "We've worked hard to reshape our footprint in the Vancouver area to improve efficiency and boost capacity for our customers," said John Brooks, CP Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer. "And now, with our live-lift operation in Portal, we can expedite service and truly exploit the strengths of our network to provide unparalleled service and value in the Vancouver-to-Detroit lane." CP's new service runs from Vancouver to Detroit seven days a week. "CP recognizes our customers' need to get their goods to the key markets of the U.S. as efficiently as possible," said Hardy Pearson, Senior Vice-President for the Midwest and Northeast for Hapag-Lloyd. "Simply put, shorter transit times, a more fluid border crossing and near seamless movement through Chicago means not only lower costs but better, more consistent access to the right markets." The new up-and-running Vancouver transload operation is in an optimal location, co-located at CP's carload and intermodal facility. It allows CP to utilize rail for movements between terminals and ports where others must rely on trucks, reducing traffic congestion in the Vancouver area and resulting in a lower cost, environmentally friendly, strategic advantage. CP successfully started live lift operations at the Portal border crossing in the second quarter. The new service allows CP to lift single containers off of trains for inspection by customs authorities rather than having entire intermodal railcars – which can carry up to 15 containers – held up. This eliminates delays to containers not flagged for inspection, making it easier and faster for customers to do cross-border business in a lane where CP already offers the fastest transit times between Vancouver and the Twin Cities, Chicago and beyond. To see a video of the Portal live-lift operation in action, click here. From Detroit, CP now serves both the Port of Montreal and the Port of Vancouver daily in and out of its CP-controlled terminal. The seven-day-a-week service compliments CP's terminal fluidity and capacity with over 17 acres to support our customers' growth, including our empty annex adjacent to the Detroit terminal. "We are proud to be working alongside our customers to find innovative total transportation solutions that increase efficiency, expands capacity and enhances value for all stakeholders, and this is just the beginning," Brooks said. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/14)

NO WEEKEND SERVICE ON NEEDHAM COMMUTER RAIL LINE FROM SEPT. 2 THRU NOV. 18: From September 2 through November 18, there will be no weekend Needham Line train service while Positive Train Control (PTC) is installed. Connecting MBTA services are available. PTC is a federally mandated, safety control system that prevents train-on-train collisions and human error. Over the next few months, PTC will be installed on all commuter rail lines. During installation, rail service will be suspended to ensure the safety of construction crews. To get around on the Needham Line during construction, connecting MBTA bus and subway services are available from Needham Line stations: (MBTA - posted 8/14)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNOUNCES EXPIRATION OF EARLY EXCHANGE PERIOD OF PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED EXCHANGE OFFERS: Norfolk Southern Corporation (the "Company") today announced the expiration of the early exchange period in connection with its offers (the "Exchange Offers") to certain eligible holders to exchange outstanding debt securities listed in the table below (collectively, the "Existing Notes") for cash and the Company's new Notes due 2052 (the "New Notes"), the complete terms and conditions of which are set forth in a Confidential Offering Memorandum, dated July 31, 2017 (the "Offering Memorandum"), and the related letter of transmittal. In addition, the Company also announced that it has increased the cap on the principal amount of New Notes to be issued in the Exchange Offers from $600,000,000 to $750,000,000. Except for the increase in the cap as described above, all other terms and conditions of the Exchange Offers remain unchanged. In the Exchange Offers, according to information provided by D.F. King & Co., Inc., the exchange agent for the Exchange Offers, $1,447,919,000 in aggregate principal amount of the Company's Existing Notes were validly tendered and not validly withdrawn at or prior to 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on August 11, 2017 (the "Early Exchange Date"), as more fully set forth below. (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/14)

AMTRAK ADVANCES WORK TO IMPROVE NEW YORK PENN STATION PASSENGER CONCOURSE: As part of continued efforts to improve the passenger experience at New York Penn Station, Amtrak announced the selection of AECOM, in partnership with Network Rail, to conduct an independent review of the interaction, coordination, and collaboration between the railroads’ various passenger concourses within Penn Station and provide recommendations to improve the design, functionality, communications, and coordination at this critical station. “New York Penn Station is the busiest rail hub in the country, and Amtrak is dedicated to making improvements to the railroad and the station that will improve the passenger experience,” said Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman. “We have made significant progress in renewing rail infrastructure at Penn Station and are now taking steps to improve the passenger areas. We have assembled a top-notch team of national and international experts to work with the railroads on delivering solutions that will greatly improve the passenger experience at New York Penn Station.” Amtrak is the owner of Penn Station, and per agreements with Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), and NJ TRANSIT (NJT) each individually manage their respective passenger concourses within the station. AECOM and Network Rail will review these relationships and develop recommendations on how the three railroads can work better together. Amtrak has convened a working group of Amtrak, LIRR, and NJT professionals to support the study. The AECOM-Network Rail team will review management of daily operations within the three station concourses, including during service disruptions, as well as look for opportunities to strengthen coordination between all parties to improve the passenger experience, safety, and security. Using their analysis of Penn Station as well as knowledge of national and international best practices at rail stations and airports, the consultants will develop recommendations for a unified three-railroad concourse operations center. The consultants will also provide an overall plan for improvements to Penn Station’s passenger concourses. This will include guidance on operations and maintenance partnerships as well as guidance on Amtrak’s planned redevelopment of Penn Station in partnership with the private sector. AECOM and Network Rail will start work immediately, bringing their deep experience in designing passenger concourses and facility operations, including London’s metropolitan station redevelopment and other high profile projects across the country and around the world. This effort will be guided by Amtrak in coordination with LIRR and NJT. AECOM and Network Rail will deliver their recommendations in early 2018, after which Amtrak, NJT and LIRR will determine next steps for implementation. (Amtrak - posted 8/11)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 5, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending August 5, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 554,822 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending August 5 were 273,199 carloads, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,623 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent compared to 2016. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,559 to 40,264 carloads; coal, up 3,073 to 92,517 carloads; and chemicals, up 1,993 to 32,621 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 3,279 to 20,846 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,161 to 15,609 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,112 to 9,386 carloads. For the first 31 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,991,891 carloads, up 5.3 percent from the same point last year; and 8,232,650 intermodal units, up 3.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 31 weeks of 2017 was 16,224,541 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending August 5, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,386 carloads, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 362,096 intermodal units, up 8.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 725,482 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 31 weeks of 2017 was 21,483,408 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 76,274 carloads for the week, up 8.3 percent, and 69,263 intermodal units, up 15.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 31 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,422,925 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 13,913 carloads for the week, down 5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,210 intermodal units, up 7.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 31 weeks of 2017 was 835,942 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/10)

STEAMTOWN NIGHT PHOTO SESSION: As part of Railfest 2017 at the Steamtown National Historic Site in downtown Scranton, Pa., a special night photo session will be held on Saturday night, September 2. It will feature three scenes, none of which will be "locomotives sitting in the dark" -- each scene has a structure as a backdrop or prop; it's going to be a great show. So what to expect? Grand Trunk 6039 will be prominently featured, Baldwin 26 will have a freight, and there will be A-B-A Lackawanna F-units. The event will be Saturday, September 2. Mark your calendar and watch this space for more details. For more information, contact Steamtown at (570) 340-5204 during regular business hours. (posted 8/09)

PTC WORK ON NEEDHAM LINE WILL BEIN EARLY ON SEPTEMBER 2l Due to the high level of productivity being performed by construction crews, Positive Train Control (PTC) work being done along the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line will conclude one month early on Sunday, August 27. This will be the last day for weekend shuttle bus replacement along this line with regular weekend Newburyport/Rockport Line train schedules resuming Saturday, September 2. PTC is a federally mandated safety control system that automatically reduces train speeds when needed, reducing train collisions and preventing human error. In order to meet the federal deadline set to accomplish PTC installation, the entire commuter rail line needs to be shut down for crews to work as efficiently as possible. As a result of PTC work on the Newburyport/Rockport Line being completed earlier than anticipated, weekend PTC installation will begin several weeks earlier than scheduled on the Needham Commuter Rail Line. Needham Commuter Rail Line train service will be suspended on Saturdays beginning September 2 through November 18. Shuttle bus service will not be provided during these PTC-related shutdowns on the Needham Line on Saturdays. (Note: the Needham Line does not operate on Sundays.) Customers are instead advised to connect to other MBTA services at Needham Line stations. From Needham Heights, Needham Center, and Needham Junction, the Route 59 bus service connects to Newton Highlands on the Green Line D Branch and to Watertown Square. From West Roxbury, Highland, Bellevue, and Roslindale Village, Bus Routes 35, 36, and 37 connect to and from Forest Hills on the Orange Line with Orange Line connections also at Ruggles and Back Bay. Customers who typically board at Hersey Station are encouraged to travel to Needham Junction or West Roxbury Stations instead as there are no connecting MBTA services at Hersey. PTC work also continues on weekends on the Lowell Commuter Rail Line, having begun on Saturday, August 5, and scheduled through Sunday, October 1. Shuttle buses are replacing weekend Lowell Line train service with shuttle bus schedules NBTA - posted 8/09)

CP RELEASE 2016 CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY REPORT: Canadian Pacific today released its corporate sustainability report outlining the company's commitment as a responsible operator to long-term value creation and sustainable operations. "With a network spanning 12,400 miles across North America and running through more than 1,100 communities, we have an obligation to all of our stakeholders to continue to operate in a manner that is socially and environmentally responsible," said Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer. "It is a duty we take seriously as a leader in safe, secure and efficient rail operations." Last published in 2014, the report shares progress made since that time and focuses on key topics identified jointly with stakeholders through the Railway Association of Canada and informed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The report is divided into five categories of importance: safety and security; environmental responsibility; social and economic development; financial viability and customer service; and infrastructure planning and design. "I am proud to report that CP has made great strides in many key areas, including a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2015 and our lowest-ever train accident frequency in 2016, marking our 11th consecutive year of best-in-class safety performance," said Creel. "This report is a testament to the hard work our people do at every level of the organization to make CP socially responsible and accountable to all of our stakeholders, now and into the future." 2016 sustainability highlights:
  • Safety and Security: Achieved an 11 percent decline in FRA-reportable employee injuries and a 27 percent decline in FRA-reportable train accidents
  • Environmental Responsibility: Reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 15 percent
  • Social and Economic Development: Hosted immigrant professionals through a work experience program and committed approximately $5 million to various community investment initiatives
  • Financial Viability and Customer Service: Improved network performance by lengthening our trains on average by 4 percent, reducing average dwell time by 7 percent and increasing average network speed by 10 percent
  • Infrastructure Planning and Design: Invested $1.2 billion in 2016 in our capital programs, enhancing safety, reliability and operating performance
(CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/08)

RAILFEST 2017 AT STEAMTOWN NHS: Railfest 2017 at Steamtown National Historic Site, downtown Scranton, is a celebration of railroading past, present and future that is held on the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. The event takes place on September 2 and 3, with an opening ceremony on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. presented by park Superintendent Debbie Conway. The theme for this year’s event is “Transition from Steam to Diesel.” The superintendent will also introduce the 2017 event Grand Marshal, Mr. Tom Nemeth, editor and publisher of “Railpace” magazine. Mr. Nemeth, who retired from Union Carbide as a packaging engineer, has also edited and published several books on eastern railroads. He resides at Lake Wallenpaupack. The National Park Service site works with numerous partners to present this end-of-summer event, which is a celebration of railroading that features themed displays, special shop demonstrations and, of course, train rides on both days of the event. Additional railfan-related entertainment in the Scranton area will include:
  • Railfan movies at the Circle Drive-In Theater, 1911 Scranton Carbondale Highway, Dickson City, on Thursday, August 31, beginning at 7:00 p.m. This event is sponsored by the Lackawanna Historical Society, Scranton. Information is available by phoning 570-344-3841 or lackawannahistory@gmail.com.
  • The Johnny Cash Experience featuring David Stone will perform a free concert on Friday, September 1 at the Steamtown NHS Theater from 7:30-9:00 p.m. as part of Scranton’s “First Friday” event. Mr. Stone will also perform during the two-day Railfest event at the park, accompanying park staff during live demonstrations of the "Ring of Fire” locomotive tire replacement exhibit.
  • Erie-Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society, Dunmore, will present “A Speakeasy and A Mystery with Dinner” after-hour events on Friday, September 1 and Saturday, September 2 at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel. Information available at www.eldcps.org
  • Mr. Jay Smar, a traditional American folk singer, will perform on both days of the Railfest event in the Steamtown Theater. Additional information for Mr. Smar can be found at www.jaysmar.com.
A 7,500-pound 1925 Whitcomb gasoline-powered locomotive, courtesy of the National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, will be a featured display. Onsite activities include maintenance-of-way and hand (pump) car rides, World War I presentations by Mark Nickerson, blacksmithing demonstrations, locomotive shop demonstrations with park preservation specialists, an exhibit of railroad photographs by Dennis Livesly, an art exhibit by Mark Perry and, of course, visits by “Miss Phoebe Snow.” Children’s activities include 1/8-inch scale steam train rides, O- and N-gauge model train layouts, magicians, and a "selfie" photo booth. There will be excursions to Moscow, Pa., on each event day. The trips will operate with historic diesel locomotives. The excursions will depart the Steamtown Boarding Platform at 12:30 p.m., with a planned return to the park at approximately 3:00 p.m. Excursion fares are $24 for adults 16 to 61, $22 for seniors 62 and older, and $17 for children ages 6-15, and include the park’s daily Entrance Fee. Children 5 and younger accompanied by an adult require a “no-charge” ticket. All Railfest activities and programs are included in the park’s $7 daily entrance fee for visitors age 16 and older. Fares for the “Scranton Limited” short train rides are $5 per person, all ages 6 and older, in addition to the park entrance fee. All children must be accompanied by an adult. More information is available at www.nps.gov/stea/planyourvisit/railfest.htm. Other event partners include Lackawanna County’s Electric City Trolley Museum, which will offer an expanded schedule of trolley rides along a portion of the former Laurel Line. Remember to bring along your appetite for great Italian food and treats as La Festa Italiana takes place at Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton. The County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) will provide free shuttle service between Steamtown NHS, the Scranton Iron Furnace State Park and La Festa during the park’s operating hours on both days. For more information on the Trolley Museum, phone direct (570) 963-6590; information on La Festa Italiana is available at www.lafestaitaliana.org Located in downtown Scranton, Pa., Steamtown NHS is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. From I-81 follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). General and train ride information is available by phoning (570) 340-5204 during regular business hours, or by visiting the park website anytime. (Steamtown National Historic Site - posted 8/08)

RAIL LINE IN BAY STATE SHARED BY AMTRAK AND MBTA: Amtrak and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) have reached a new agreement governing the operation, maintenance and use of the 37.9-mile Attleboro Line, between Boston and the Rhode Island state line. Amtrak will provide maintenance-of-way and dispatching services on the line through 2021. This agreement ends a dispute over applicability of the federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008, Section 212, which created the Northeast Corridor Commission and mandated the development of the Commuter and Intercity Rail Cost Allocation Policy. The Policy, which is meant to provide a consistent methodology for calculating and assessing costs for all users of the Northeast Corridor, was jointly developed by all the owners and operators of rail services from Boston to Washington, D.C. The MBTA and Amtrak have operated under the 2003 Attleboro Line Agreement, which governs the shared use of the rail line in Massachusetts. The line is part of the Northeast Corridor, the busiest railroad in North America, with approximately 2,200 Amtrak, commuter and freight trains operating on some portion of the Washington-Boston route each day. “The joint effort of Amtrak and MBTA to reach this new agreement demonstrates our shared recognition of the importance of continued investment in the rail infrastructure in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and throughout the New England region, said Tom Moritz, Amtrak Assistant Vice President of Infrastructure Access and Investment. “We look forward to working closely with MBTA in the years to come to provide services that benefit both commuter and Amtrak customers.” “The MBTA is pleased to have reached this agreement with Amtrak, signaling our collaborative efforts and mutual interests in maintaining world-class service for all rail customers through the Northeast Corridor,” said Interim MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We look forward to working cooperatively with Amtrak now and in the future.” The MBTA now assumes responsibility for directing the capital program on the Attleboro Line. MBTA and Amtrak will contribute to capital projects and operating costs in a manner consistent with PRIIA and the Cost Allocation Policy. Amtrak will allow the MBTA to use South Station’s system for dispatching of the south-end branch lines, charging for its use of these facilities based on a proportionate sharing of facility and system costs. (Amtrak - posted 8/07)

AAR WEEKLY AND MONTH OF JULY TRAFFIC SUMMARY: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 29, 2017, as well as volumes for July 2017. U.S. railroads originated 1,019,239 carloads in July 2017, down 0.6 percent, or 6,079 carloads, from July 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,058,354 containers and trailers in July 2017, up 5.6 percent, or 55,997 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in July 2017 were 2,077,593, up 2.5 percent, or 49,918 carloads and intermodal units from July 2016. In July 2017, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with July 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 15 percent or 13,458 carloads; coal, up 4 percent or 13,097 carloads; and chemicals, up 1.5 percent or 1,842 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in July 2017 from July 2016 included: grain, down 14 percent or 13,325 carloads; motor vehicles & parts, down 12.9 percent or 7,544 carloads; and petroleum & petroleum products, down 15.4 percent or 6,508 carloads. "The decline in total rail carloads in July 2017 from July 2016 was very small at 0.6 percent, but it was the first carload decline since October 2016," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "Beginning in July last year, certain categories of rail traffic — coal and grain in particular — saw a surge in rail volumes. That surge suddenly made comparisons to this year much tougher. That largely explains July's carload decline. Meanwhile, intermodal continues to do well — July's 5.6% gain is the sixth straight year-over-year monthly increase, and intermodal is on track to set a new annual record this year." Excluding coal, carloads were down 2.8 percent, or 19,176 carloads, in July 2017 from July 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 1 percent, or 5,851 carloads. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first seven months of 2017 was 7,718,692 carloads, up 5.4 percent, or 397,999 carloads, from the same period last year; and 7,951,027 intermodal units, up 3.1 percent, or 235,512 containers and trailers, from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 30 weeks of 2017 was 15,669,719 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to last year. Week Ending July 29, 2017 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 550,356 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending July 29 were 270,006 carloads, down 1.5 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 280,350 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent compared to 2016. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups that AAR follows weekly posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They were nonmetallic minerals, up 6.5 percent to 40,192 carloads; coal, up 2.4 percent to 92,430 carloads; and chemicals, up 1.7 percent to 31,556 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 16 percent to 20,725 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 14.2 percent to 8,910 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 13.9 percent to 15,008 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending July 29, 2017 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,946 carloads, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 362,580 intermodal units, up 9.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 726,526 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 30 weeks of 2017 was 20,757,326 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 77,869 carloads for the week, up 8.4 percent, and 71,202 intermodal units, up 14.9 percent compared with the same week in 2016, making this the single best week ever for Canadian intermodal rail traffic. For the first 30 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,276,788 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,071 carloads for the week, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,028 intermodal units, up 73.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 30 weeks of 2017 was 810,819 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/04)

REGULAR WEEKDAY NEWBURYPORT/ROCKPORT TRAIN SERVICE TO RESUME AUGUST 14: As the work to replace the Beverly Drawbridge is about to finish on schedule, weekday train service will resume on Monday, August 14. While regular Commuter Rail train times will be back in effect on August 14. The replacement of the Beverly Drawbridge will allow for more reliable service on the Newburyport/Rockport Line. When complete, the new swing-span bridge will be supported by the existing pivot pier. A new Electrical Room and Generator are also being constructed with the Control House being remodeled(MBTA - posted 8/04)



CSX FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILMENT: On Wednesday morning CSX Chicago to Selkirk freight Q388-31, with 178 freight cars, derailed along the former B&O at Hyndman, Pa. (between mileposts 191 and 193) At least 32 freight cars derailed. Tank cars containing liquified petroleum gas and molten sulphur caught fire containing liquified petroleum gas and at least one car containing molten sulphur. This resulted in citzens of Hyndman being evacuated. Train service was halted between Connellsville, Pa. and Cumberland, Md. During Thursday crews were removing the derailed freight cars from the scene, in order to reopen the mainline.

CHAIRMAN JOSEPH LHOTA ANNOUNCES MTA LEADERSHIP APPOINTMENTS: Chairman Joseph Lhota today announced the appointment of Patrick Foye as President and Veronique Hakim as Managing Director of the MTA. Foye and Hakim will serve in the newly-created Office of the Chairman, which will also include MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber. Foye and Hakim will be responsible for managing the agency on a day-to-day basis. ?Foye will lead key innovation and modernization initiatives, and Hakim will be responsible for the operations of the authority. Chairman Lhota recently announced a comprehensive plan to immediately stabilize and modernize the subway system. Foye and Hakim will be responsible for implementing the plan. "Pat and Ronnie are veteran transportation professionals who together with Janno form the dynamic team the MTA needs at this moment. Pat and Ronnie will assume the day-to-day leadership of the MTA and ensure that our customers are always our first priority. The plan I recently introduced is ambitious, aggressive, and requires dedicated leadership ensuring operational excellence and long-term innovation - which is exactly what the team in the Office of the Chairman will provide," said Lhota. Patrick Foye has been the Executive Director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and President of PATH since November 2011. At the Port Authority, to advance Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s infrastructure plan, Mr. Foye led public-private partnerships for the Goethals Bridge and the nation’s largest PPP for Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport. Prior to joining the Port Authority, he served as Deputy Secretary for Economic Development for Governor Cuomo. Mr. Foye was a Mergers and Acquisitions partner at Skadden Arps and managing partner of the firm’s Brussels, Budapest and Moscow offices. He was Executive Vice President of AIMCO, a real estate investment trust and a component of the S&P 500. Mr. Foye served as President and CEO of the United Way of Long Island. He also served as a Board member of the MTA from 2010 to 2012. Mr. Foye grew up in New York City and lives in Nassau County. Veronique Hakim has served as Interim Executive Director of the MTA since January 2017. In 2015 Hakim was named President of MTA New York City Transit returning to the MTA after an earlier 23-year career at the authority. She has also previously served as the Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT for a year and a half, and nearly four years as Executive Director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. (MTA - posted 8/03)

MBTA INFRASTURE IMPROVEMENTS KICK INTO HIGH GEAR: As the work to replace the Beverly Drawbridge is about to finish on schedule with weekday train service resuming on August 14, interim MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak this weekend will visit several job sites where crews continue infrastructure improvement work throughout the transit system. To accommodate this critical work, five separate bus shuttles will replace rail service for various reasons, including the replacement of a 120-year old railroad drawbridge in Beverly, the installation of federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) infrastructure along the Newburyport/Rockport and Lowell Commuter Rail Lines, necessary core infrastructure capital project work on the Orange Line, and work being performed as part of MassDOT's Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project. "The MBTA increased capital spending on system-wide upgrades and repairs last fiscal year by about 40 percent, to $702 million-and we'll spend even more this fiscal year with totals approaching $800 million," said GM Poftak. "We're fully committed to our goal of increased investments in our system's existing infrastructure by putting funds toward maintenance and repairs, resulting in better service for our customers." GM Poftak will visit the site of the Beverly Drawbridge Replacement Project, which is on schedule and nearing completion. A 28-day shutdown of all Newburyport/Rockport Line service north of Salem was required in order to replace the swing-span bridge in Beverly and conduct follow-up alignment and testing work, which will result in more reliable Newburyport/Rockport Line service. Due to this service shutdown, the MBTA began accommodating its customers on July 17 with replacement shuttle bus service to all stations with regular weekday train service resuming as planned and advertised on Monday, August 14. More information on this project can be found at www.mbta.com/getthere. GM Poftak will also visit sites of federally mandated PTC work currently taking place on weekends along the Newburyport/Rockport Line. PTC is a safety system that prevents train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, and human error. This work has replaced weekend Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail service with shuttle buses beginning July 8 through September 30 and will begin replacing all Lowell Commuter Rail Line service along the entire line beginning August 5 through October 1. More information on these projects can be found at www.mbta.com/getthere. Finally, GM Poftak will visit sites along the Orange Line, where track work will be taking place. With core infrastructure work a continued priority, necessary track maintenance will take place along the northern section of the Orange Line. As a result, the MBTA will replace Orange Line service with shuttle buses in both directions from Wellington to Oak Grove Stations on August 5 and 6. More Orange Line service information can be found on mbta.com. Additional shuttle bus replacement service is occurring on the Green Line B branch and Framingham/Worcester Line due to the MassDOT Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project. Currently underway, this project uses Accelerated Bridge Construction techniques to replace the existing concrete deck and steel beams that carry Commonwealth Avenue and the Green Line B branch over I-90 and the MBTA Commuter Rail tracks. As a result, the MBTA began accommodating its Green Line B branch customers with shuttle bus service that replaced trolleys between Blandford and Babcock Streets, beginning July 26 and continuing through August 13. More Green Line service information can be found on mbta.com. Weekend Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail Line service was also suspended from South Station to Boston Landing Station last weekend and will continue again on August 5 and 6. Framingham/Worcester Line customers will be accommodated with shuttle buses operating between Boston Landing Station and Reservoir Station on the Green Line D branch. Special shuttles will also operate to Yawkey from Boston Landing for Red Sox games on August 5 and 6. More Framingham/Worcester service information can be found on mbta.com. The MBTA is pleased to be able to provide supplemental shuttle bus service for its customers while these necessary projects take place this weekend, appreciates its customers' understanding during these service changes, and extends its gratitude to operations and planning staff for their continued successful work in these endeavors. (MBTA - posted 8/03)

ATLANTIC CITY RAIL LINE TO RESUMES SERVICE: NJ TRANSIT will restore full service on the Atlantic City Rail Line on Thursday, August 3, more than a week ahead of schedule, after a garbage container truck struck and damaged a rail bridge last week. Service between Philadelphia and Cherry Hill was suspended Friday, July 28, after the truck struck the rail bridge over River Road in Pennsauken, causing significant damage to the bridge. Original estimates anticipated a two-week service outage. “I want to thank all of our customers for their patience as well as our employees and the outside contractors who worked hard to safely complete this project well ahead of schedule,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. Substitute bus service has operated between Philadelphia and Cherry Hill during the partial service suspension. Atlantic City Rail Line tickets and passes have also been cross-honored on other NJ TRANSIT buses serving the region, as well as River Line light rail and PATCO services. NJ TRANSIT buses, River Line light rail and PATCO will continue to cross-honor Atlantic City Rail Line tickets and passes through Thursday, August 3. (NJT- posted 8/03)

READING & NORTHERN RAILROAD PARTICIPATES IN SHIPPING COAL TO UKRAINE: Reading & Northern Railroad is participating in a huge move of coal to Ukraine that was announced by Trump administration officials yesterday. Xcoal Energy & Resources made the deal to ship 700,000 tons of coal for energy production to Ukraine by the end of the year. Half of that tonnage will be made up of Pennsylvania anthracite shipped from mines served by Reading & Northern Railroad. Reading Anthracite Coal of Pottsville, PA has handled the acquisition of the 350,000 tons of anthracite. In Ukraine for the announcement Xcoal President Ernie Thrasher said, “The U.S. coal will replace Russian origin coal at existing thermal power plants, i.e., energy security and diversification.” Reading & Northern will be supplying all of the coal cars used to handle the anthracite. In order to build the 100+ car unit trains that Norfolk Southern will pick up at Reading, PA and deliver to CNX Terminal in Baltimore, MD, Reading & Northern will serve as many as six different loading points. “Reading & Northern is delighted to be partnering with Xcoal and Norfolk Southern on this wonderful opportunity. We have long been known as “The Road of Anthracite” and here is our chance to show the world how good our service is and how good Pennsylvania anthracite is. Our years of investment in coal cars and our branch line rail system pays off with our ability to turn on a dime and handle the movement of 30+ unit trains in 5 months. Credit goes to the men and women of Reading & Northern for being up to the challenge!” said Reading & Northern CEO Andrew Muller, Jr. Reading & Northern Railroad, with its corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, is a privately held railroad company serving over 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has expanded its operations over the last 20+ years and has grown into one of the premier railroads in Pennsylvania. Reading and Northern operates both freight services and steam and diesel powered excursion passenger services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. It owns almost 1,200 freight cars and employs over 200 dedicated employees. (R&N - posted 8/02)

BRING BACK 757: The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum (MR&NKP) is pleased to announce the creation of an agreement with the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (RRMPA) that would allow Nickel Plate Road Steam Locomotive #757 to return to Bellevue, Ohio. Plans are now underway to relocate the locomotive from Strasburg, PA, to the museum site in Bellevue for static display. We are very excited to be able to bring the 757 back to Bellevue. The absence of a mainline steam locomotive in our collection has been something we have wanted to correct for a long time. To have the chance to return the 757 to Bellevue is an incredible victory for our organization," said museum President Chris Beamer. The locomotive is a Berkshire type (2-8-4 wheel arrangement), the staple design that was made famous by the Nickel Plate Road (NKP). It was built by the Lima Locomotive Works in 1944 and was last operated on June 15, 1958. As steam locomotives were retired on the Nickel Plate, several were saved by the railroad as monuments to the towns along the line and donated accordingly. 757 was saved for Bellevue, Ohio, Nickel Plate's largest classification terminal. Unfortunately, at that time, Bellevue did not have a railroad museum and the city was unable to provide and fund a display site. After being stored at Bellevue for several years, the railroad donated the locomotive to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in 1966. Ten years after Bellevue lost its steam locomotive, the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum was founded. Since then, the MR&NKP has grown to encompass 50 pieces of equipment, 10 acres of property, five buildings, countless artifacts, and a rail viewing platform. The MR&NKP is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that is operated and maintained by volunteers with no government assistance. Admission to the museum, fund raising events, and donations are the museum's primary sources of income. The MR&NKP has the most extensive collection of NKP equipment and artifacts of any museum, however owning an actual NKP steam locomotive has eluded the museum since its inception. In early 2017, the MR&NKP and the RRMPA entered into negotiations to bring 757 back home. Within the past few months, the RRMPA and the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission has agreed that 757 does not have as strong a connection to Pennsylvania's railroading history as some of their other locomotives and railroad cars, which also require considerable attention. They have made the difficult decision to deaccession 757 from their collection, with the intention of transferring the locomotive to an organization that has a better connection to the locomotive's history and is willing and able to immediately restore it. The MR&NKP will begin movement preparations as funds permit and will be granted ownership of the locomotive after its removal from the RRMPA site. "The people of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania have been great to work with on this project and toward the common goal of preserving our country's railroad heritage," Beamer added. This is a rare opportunity and may not be available again. The MR&NKP estimates the relocation, restoration, and preparation of a special exhibit site will cost $250,000. The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum needs your help to bring this iconic locomotive back home to Bellevue. Please visit www.bringback757.org for more information and/or to donate. (Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum - posted 8/01)

GARBAGE TRUCK STRIKE DAMAGES NJ TRANSIT BRIDGE: A garbage truck struck the River Road bridge, on NJ Transit's Atlantic City Line, in Pennsuaken, N.J. This resulted in major damage to the bridge, forcing the railroad to suspend passenger train sergvice between Philadelphia's 30th Street and the Cherry Hill Stations. Word is that passenger service will not be reinstated for almost two weeks. In order to shuttle passengers between Philadelpia and Cherry Hill, NJ Transit is operating substitute bus sevice between the two locations. At Cherry Hill, passengers can board trains for Atlantic City. Effective immediately Atlantic City Rail Line (ACRL) service is suspended between Philadelphia’s 30th Street and Cherry Hill stations due to a bridge strike in Pennsauken. Also, PATCO is crossing honoring NJT tickets between Philadelphia and Lindenwold. NJ Transit suggests that Pennsauken passengers take River Line Light Rail service to/from Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC) and connect with PATCO for service to/from Philadelphia or Lindenwold Station. (NJ Transit - posted 7/31)

GENERAL ELECTRIC TO CLOSE ERIE LOCOMOTIVE PRODUCTION: GE Transportation plans to end most locomotive production at its century-old plant in northwestern Pennsylvania, eliminating about 575 jobs. The work is being transferred by the end of 2018 to Fort Worth, Texas. Earlier this year, GE announced it was cutting 250 positions at its Fort Worth plant, where workers aren't unionized. About 225 employees at the Fort Worth plant would be recalled, and as many as 200 other jobs would be created at GE suppliers around the country Employess at Fort Worth are not members of a union, while those in Erie are. (AP - posted 7/28)

DISNEYLAND RAILROAD RETURNS WITH STUNNING NEW VIEWS ALONG THE RIVERS OF AMERICA AT DISNEYLAND PARK: Guests visiting the Disneyland Resort this summer will enjoy the magical mix of nostalgia, nighttime entertainment and new attractions that make the Resort a guest favorite year after year. The Disneyland Railroad, an original Disneyland attraction and park icon, re-opens July 29, 2017. This fan-favorite attraction now travels a new scenic route along the north bank of the Rivers of America, where it traverses stunning new rockwork and waterfalls, providing guests with breathtaking views along both sides of the train. Guests also will enjoy this new landscape from the water as they welcome the return of the popular watercraft – Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes. Kim Irvine, art director for the Rivers of America project, envisioned what it will be like for guests: "It's hard to believe that right here, smack dab in the middle of bustling freeways and high-rises, you can enjoy a relaxing ride on an open-air train car and sail on a ship or canoe down a rolling river, surrounded by towering pine and oak trees with sightings of deer, elk, moose and beautiful waterfalls." (Disney - posted 7/28)

CP TO LAUNCH SPECIAL CANADA 150 TRAIN AND CROSS-COUNTRY BLOCK PARTY TOUR: On July 25 Canadian Pacific (CP) officially launched its CP Canada 150 train tour with a kickoff ceremony at its Calgary headquarters with federal and provincial government officials and members of the Tsuut'ina Nation, who blessed the train. The train is now heading west to Port Moody, B.C., for the first event on July 28. Over the next three weeks the train will travel across Canada bringing with it a cross-country, Canada 150 block party to 13 cities. "It is my honour and privilege to represent CP and its employees – past and present – in officially kicking off the CP Canada 150 train," said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. "I encourage all Canadians to come out and see the train, enjoy the family show and activities, and celebrate this great railroad and this great country." As it rolls across the country, the CP Canada 150 Train will reconnect generations of Canadians through shared stories and celebration, as we honour the country's past, while acknowledging the leaders of the present, and look toward a bright future. "It is my honour to be here today to mark the start of this special train at CP's Ogden Yard," said the Honourable Kent Hehr, MP for Calgary Centre. "Calgary and our province were connected to the rest of the country through a vision of a railway that had east meet west. Our last 150 years was a fulfillment of this dream of a nation united, and this train is a commitment to the thousands of youths and their dreams and passions for the next 150 in front of us." Today's kickoff ceremony was also the unveiling of the Spirit of Tomorrow railcar, which, as it moves across Canada, will be decorated with thousands of handwritten cards from children outlining their dreams for the future. "We thank CP for running this tour across Canada and look forward to celebrating Canada 150 with them," said the Honourable Joe Ceci, Alberta's Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board and MLA for Calgary-Fort. "We are proud to have CP based in Calgary and recognize their important contribution not only to this city, but to this province for more than 130 years." At each three-hour event, community members will enjoy a variety of activities including performances by 13-time Canadian Country Music Award winner and two-time Juno Award winner, Dean Brody, Aboriginal entertainer and world champion hoop dancer Dallas Arcand and our house band, the Rail Road Ramblers, featuring Kelly Prescott. Eagle and Hawk will bring their unique sound of fusing traditional Indigenous themes with roots rock to events in Edmonton and Winnipeg. To commemorate the beginning of the journey, members of the Tsuut'ina Nation performed a traditional blessing ceremony, asking for safe journey and protection while acknowledging the traditional lands our communities are on and CP's long history with Indigenous Peoples. "The Tsuut'ina Nation would like to acknowledge CP for its history of forging links across this vast country," said Ellery Starlight, Councillor, Tsuut'ina Nation. "Links that have contributed to the development of a strong and united Canada. Tsuut'ina thanks CP for their support and their desire to reflect that foundational role in this celebration. Tsuut'ina looks forward to working with CP as we move forward, together." Canadians of all ages can enjoy this family-friendly occasion while exploring images and facts pulled from CP's archives, decorating their very own conductor's hat or capturing a photo at the Empress photo station. Since the tour's announcement in May, CP has been celebrating how the railway connected the nation through their #ConnectingCanada campaign, including the viral 'Whistle' video, launch of a heritage website and storytelling with daily archival photos on social media. Many Canadians have joined the conversation about the railways role in Canada, and have shared their personal railway stories in the CP Canada 150 contest. When the contest wraps on July 31, two lucky Canadians will get to bring a guest to stay on this one-of-a-kind train for two days and two nights. Get your short story entry in today before it's too late. (CP- posted 7/27)

SEPTA MARKS 18TH CONSECUTIVE YEAR WITH BALANCED BUDGET: SEPTA has marked its 18th consecutive year with a balanced Operating Budget, according to year-end data from Fiscal Year 2017, which was the 12-month period from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. The Operating Budget provides for the everyday expenses of running the transportation system, such as labor, fuel and power. To balance the budget, SEPTA carefully managed expenses throughout the year, including continuing aggressive efforts to combat fraudulent lawsuits by utilizing its surveillance camera network. Other initiatives, such as a wayside storage program that utilizes regenerative braking on rail cars, are helping reduce energy costs. The $1.4 billion Fiscal Year 2017 Operating Budget reflected the Authority's business vision and priorities of SEPTA's Building for the Future plan, which defines five areas of strategic effort: Customer Experience, SEPTA is a Business, Employee Development, Rebuilding the System, and Safety as the Foundation. For its continued efforts to be transparent with its budget process and provide the public with a clear and detailed budget book, SEPTA was again honored with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Award. For more information about the Fiscal Year 2017 Operating Budget, please visit www.septa.org/reports. (SEPTA - posted 7/27)

MTA CHAIRMAN JOSEPH LHOTA'S UNVEILS NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY ACTION PLAN: At a press conference, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota unveiled the NYC Subway Action Plan, the MTA’s new plan to stabilize and improve the system and lay the foundation for modernizing the New York City Subway. The announcement comes fewer than 30 days after Governor Cuomo declared New York City’s subways to be in a state of emergency and directed Chairman Lhota to provide a plan for immediate action that puts customers first. The plan addresses a New York City subway system in need of solutions following years of stress by factors including: a record volume of customers, aging infrastructure and lack of capital expenditure necessary to grow the system. The initial phase of the plan will attack the key drivers of 79% of the major incidents causing delays on the system, including signals, track and power. MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said, “New Yorkers are rightfully frustrated with the current state of the subways, and their demands for better service have been heard. We are committed to earning back their trust by implementing solutions that will enhance the customer experience in the short- and long-term. The NYC Subway Action Plan marks the beginning of a new chapter for the MTA and provides an opportunity to stabilize and improve the system and lay the foundation for modernization. As we work to build a better system, customers can expect to see progress in ways both big and small.” Phase One of the NYC Subway Action Plan will start immediately and be in place and deliver improvements within one year. It will focus on a better customer experience through increased reliability and capacity, enhanced stations and safety, and clear and accurate communication. The five components of Phase One will attack the key drivers of 79% of the major incidents causing delays in the system including signals, track and power issues—which alone cause 54% of major incidents — as well as water-related damage and corrosion, track fires, car breakdowns, police activity and station issues. Phase One strategically targets additional personnel and equipment to focus on the critical components of the system that have the highest incidence of failure. The five components of Phase One are: Signal and Track Maintenance:
  • Expediting a signal repair program that will fix 1,300 signals detected to be most problematic.
  • Launching an emergency Water Management Initiative in which teams will seal leaks with chemical grouting, clean 40,000 street grates to ensure proper water diversion and eliminate debris clogging drains.
  • Cleaning the entire underground subway system to remove debris and reduce fire hazards.
  • Accelerating the repair of potential track issues across the entire underground track by dispatching 31 teams across the system to target locations with the highest rate of incidents.
  • Tripling the installation rate of a continuous welded rail and increasing track welding capacity by 30 percent; additionally installing 50,000 new friction pads to increase resilience of the rail and reduce incidents impacting service.
  • Tripling the Combined Action Teams, which are able to respond to a range of track, power and signal issues without requiring additional support, to cut response times from 45 minutes to 15 minutes.
  • The New York State Public Service Commission will announce a plan this week to improve the power signals throughout the system.
Car Reliability:
  • Expanding major overhaul capacity from 950 to 1,100 cars per year to increase reliability.
  • Maximizing 24/7 shop capacity by adding an additional full repair and maintenance shift.
  • Prioritizing the inspection and repair of doors, which cause 40 percent of car breakdowns.
  • Pre-positioning Emergency Subway Car Response teams for quicker on-location repairs.
  • Launching a seat removal pilot program on select lines, beginning with the S Subway 42nd Street Shuttle and the L Subway line to increase capacity by 25 riders per car.
  • Adding cars to trains on lines, such as the C Subway Line, where platforms are long enough.
  • Including interior upgrades as part of the regular maintenance cycle to improve the customer experience.
System Safety & Cleanliness:
  • Increasing the frequency of station cleaning by 30 percent. • Launching a program at priority stations to deep clean, repaint and repair tile, as well as facilitating timelier elevator and escalator repairs to help improve accessibility. • Calling on the NYPD to increase its presence at stations to deter illegal activities such as harassment, sexually inappropriate behavior, loitering, aggressive panhandling and littering. • Launching a littering awareness campaign to educate customers on the consequences of littering, which contributes to 700 fire-related delays every year. • More than doubling the number of stations with dedicated EMTs for medical emergencies and coordinating with FDNY EMS for best coverage of the system.
Customer Communications:
  • Overhauling digital communications assets, including the launch of a new integrated MTA app.
  • Revising communications protocols to provide clearer, more timely information to customers during incidents and better information about the work being done to the system.
  • Placing MTA Customer Representatives at high-traffic stations to provide guidance to riders in real time, rolling out clearer station signage for planned service changes and retraining staff to improve communication with customers.
  • Accelerating system-wide completion of countdown clock installations.
Critical Management Group:
  • Rebuilding the management and operations organizations resulting in faster and more effective solutions.
  • Bringing key decision makers together to monitor incidents in real time and more rapidly dispatch resources.
Phase Two of the NYC Subway Action Plan will be outlined in the coming weeks and will focus on modernizing the system including:
  • Addressing long-term, system-wide improvements, including better subway cars, the adoption of a new signal system and modern communications technology to facilitate new signaling and enable customer benefits.
  • Incorporating the most promising innovations from the MTA Genius Transit Challenge.
In addition, the MTA will be launching a public dashboard to measure categories important to our customers, including reliability, safety and customer experience. (MTA - posted 7/26)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 22, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 22, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 534,152 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending July 22 were 256,863 carloads, down 2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 277,289 containers and trailers, up 4.1 percent compared to 2016. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They were coal, up 5.3 percent to 88,304 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 2.9 percent to 38,630 carloads; and forest products, up 1.9 percent to 10,388 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 15.8 percent to 20,316 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, down 15.2 percent to 9,258 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 13.2 percent to 12,696 carloads. For the first 29 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,448,686 carloads, up 5.7 percent from the same point last year; and 7,670,677 intermodal units, up 2.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 29 weeks of 2017 was 15,119,363 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending July 22, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 348,537 carloads, up 0.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 356,487 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 705,024 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 29 weeks of 2017 was 20,030,682 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.5 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 74,663 carloads for the week, up 6.5 percent, and 67,374 intermodal units, up 9.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 29 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,127,599 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,011 carloads for the week, up 6.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,824 intermodal units, up 19.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 29 weeks of 2017 was 783,720 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - 7/26)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported second-quarter financial results. Second-quarter net income was $497 million, up 23 percent year-over-year, driven by a 15 percent increase in income from railway operations, and a record operating ratio. Diluted earnings per share were $1.71, up 26 percent year-over-year. "Norfolk Southern's strong financial results and all-time record operating ratio reflect the power of our team, successful execution of our dynamic plan, and focus on operating even more efficiently while providing high quality service to customers," said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO. "We remain committed to our core pillars of safety, service, stewardship and growth as we continue to enhance operations across the organization. We are confident in our ability to reach our goals and deliver sustainable shareholder value in the near and long terms. As a result of our achievements to date and the confidence we have in our outlook, we are increasing this year's share repurchase guidance by 25% to $1 billion." Second-quarter summary
  • Railway operating revenues of $2.6 billion increased 7 percent compared with second-quarter 2016, as overall volumes were 6 percent higher, reflecting growth within our major commodity categories of coal and intermodal.
  • Railway operating expenses increased $65 million, or 4 percent, to $1.7 billion as targeted expense reductions helped offset volume and inflation-related expenses.
  • Income from railway operations was $888 million, up 15 percent year-over-year, and the operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 66.3 percent, an all-time record.
(NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 7/26)

CANADIAN NATIONAL SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS: CN today reported its financial and operating results for the second quarter and six-month period ended June 30, 2017.
  • Second-quarter 2017 financial highlights
  • Net income increased 20 per cent to C$1,031 million, while diluted EPS increased 24 per cent to C$1.36, compared with the second quarter of 2016.
  • Adjusted net income increased 17 per cent to C$1,013 million, with adjusted diluted EPS increasing 21 per cent to C$1.34. (1)
  • Operating income increased 16 per cent to C$1,495 million.
  • Revenues increased by 17 per cent to a quarterly record of C$3,329 million. Carloadings increased 14 per cent, and revenue ton-miles increased 18 per cent.
  • Operating expenses increased 18 per cent to C$1,834 million.
  • Operating ratio of 55.1 per cent, an increase of 0.6 points over the prior-year quarter. Free cash flow (1) for second-quarter 2017 was C$811 million, up from C$585 million for the year-earlier quarter.
Luc Jobin, president and chief executive officer, said: "Once again, CN delivered solid quarterly performance with strong volume growth across most commodity groups, building on the momentum started in the fourth quarter of 2016. Our team of railroaders remained focused on balancing operational and service excellence while efficiently adjusting to the growing demand. "The North American economic outlook continues to be positive, and we remain committed to delivering on our 2017 financial outlook. However, volume comparisons in the second half of the year will be more challenging, and the strengthening of the Canadian dollar will constitute a headwind." Revenues for the second quarter of 2017 were C$3,329 million, an increase of 17 per cent, when compared to the same period in 2016. Revenues increased for metals and minerals (33 per cent), coal (33 per cent), grain and fertilizers (23 per cent), automotive (20 per cent), intermodal (17 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (12 per cent), and forest products (six per cent). The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to higher volumes across several sectors, such as Canadian grain and fertilizers, overseas intermodal traffic, frac sand, coal and petroleum coke exports, crude oil, and finished vehicles. Also contributing to increased revenues were higher applicable fuel surcharge rates, freight rate increases, and the positive translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar. Carloadings for the quarter increased by 14 per cent to 1.4 million. Revenue ton-miles (RTMs), measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by 18 per cent from the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per RTM decreased by 1 per cent over the year-earlier period, mainly driven by an increase in the average length of haul; partly offset by higher applicable fuel surcharge rates, freight rate increases, and the positive translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar. Operating expenses for the second quarter increased by 18 per cent to C$1,834 million, mainly due to higher fuel costs, increased purchased services and material costs, and higher labor and fringe benefits expense resulting from increased volumes, as well as increased casualty and other expense, and the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar. (CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 7/25)

UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD SAFETY VIDEOS RECEIVE TELLY AWARDS: The Telly Awards named Union Pacific a Bronze winner for two "Your Life is Worth the Wait". videos urging drivers to stop for trains at railroad crossings. The videos were part of Union Pacific’s 2016 rail safety campaign, which reached approximately 32 million people on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. One video follows a hurried woman weaving her car through traffic to avoid being late to a high-stakes job interview. She considers racing an approaching train across a railroad crossing to avoid being delayed. The woman slams on the brakes and recognizes stopping the car prevented a catastrophic accident. She sees her daughter’s picture and realizes her life was worth the wait. The second video features a teen racing his truck to get his date home before curfew. The young woman tells him to hurry as a train moves toward a railroad crossing they need to pass. The truck stops just seconds before the train passes. Both teens realize waiting for the train to pass saved their lives, while the young woman calls her father to let him know she will be late. Union Pacific worked with St. Louis-based Geile/Leon Marketing Communications to develop the award-winning videos. Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding content for television and cable, digital and streaming and non-broadcast distribution. Winners include companies, agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators and corporate video departments. More than 500 accomplished industry professionals judged the competition, evaluating entries to recognize distinction in creative work. Less than 10 percent of entries are chosen as winners of the Silver Telly, the highest honor. Approximately 25 percent of entries are chosen as Bronze Telly winners. (UP - posted 7/25)

METROLINX LAUNCHES SEARCH FOR REGIONAL EXPRESS RAIL OPERATOR: Ontario's Metrolinx, its assets and its services are publicly owned and will remain publicly owned. As part of our service delivery, we have successfully contracted out rail service since 1967 and our contract for that service is currently with Bombardier. At the same time, we now require new specific skills, knowledge and experience as we move towards the implementation of our transformative GO Regional Express Rail plan. As we work to quadruple the number of train trips we run each week - from 1,500 to 6,000 - we require the resources and unique expertise of an organization with experience in operating and maintaining service to passengers during a major construction and expansion program. That is why we are issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an experienced Operator to work with us to finalize our plans and accelerate the safe construction and implementation of RER. Once in place, the Operator will help make our system better for commuters by finding ways to further reduce commute times, while also ensuring we are properly building critical infrastructure that will enable GO RER. While the Operator is expected to eventually take over rail operations, our existing operations and maintenance contract with Bombardier will remain in place until the end of the contract in 2023. We are expecting no job losses as a result of this RFQ, as we are committed to placing a focus on additional training and skills enhancement for staff wherever necessary. A build of this size will also both create new jobs and link residents in the GTHA to better job opportunities that otherwise may have been out of reach. We are absolutely committed to getting the job done right. Having a team in place that will help us get there will be absolutely critical towards our goal of bringing better, faster service that will help you spend less time on the way home and more time at home. (Metrolinx - posted 7/24)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION APPOINTS TWO MEMBERS TO THE WMATA BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Today, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the appointment of two new Federal representatives, each with considerable transportation and infrastructure expertise, to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) board of directors. Both new appointees to the board will bring extensive backgrounds in U.S. transportation infrastructure, innovative financing, and federal regulatory policy. The two appointed Principal Directors with voting authority are David B. Horner and Steve McMillin, effective July 24, 2017. “During this critical time for WMATA, we are pleased that these two distinguished and experienced individuals, David Horner and Steve McMillin, have agreed to serve on behalf of the Federal government to help improve the performance and reliability of this vital transit system in the nation’s capital,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao. Mr. Horner is a partner at Hunton & Williams law firm in Washington, D.C., where he focuses on public-private partnerships and the development of transportation infrastructure in the United States. David has extensive transportation experience, including serving as the U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and Chief Counsel at the Federal Transit Administration from 2005 to 2009. He is widely recognized for his expertise in federal transportation law and has acted as counsel on multiple landmark public-private partnership projects, including the development of the FTA’s Public-Private Partnership Pilot Program that serves as a model for similar programs today. “I’m honored to be chosen by Secretary Chao to serve on WMATA’s board,” said Mr. Horner. “Having grown up in the District, I’ve been riding Metro since it opened in 1976. I look forward to working with WMATA’s executive leadership and other members of the board to institute the fundamental reforms that will deliver safe and reliable service for Metro’s riders across the region.” Steve McMillin is a partner at U.S. Policy Metrics in Washington, D.C. and brings more than 20 years of policy experience, including serving as the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 2006 to 2009. In that role, he was responsible for leading the development and execution of the federal government budget. Steve also served as the Deputy Assistant to the President, and as OMB’s Associate Director for General Government Programs, responsible for budget and management oversight of six Cabinet-level agencies. Steve is well-known for his extensive policy expertise. “Metro faces a variety of challenges as it seeks to provide safe and reliable transportation options for the residents of this area, and for visitors from around the country and around the world,” said McMillin. “I look forward to the opportunity to help drive continued improvements in the system.” The FAST Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2015, transferred the authority to appoint Federal representatives to the WMATA board from the head of the GSA to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Leaving the Board as Federal representatives are Carol Carmody, former Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and David Strickland, former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Metro Board of Directors is composed of eight voting and eight alternate directors. Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and the federal government appoint two voting and two alternate directors each. (USDOT - posted 7/24)

NY GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES HISTORIC $5.6 BILLION TRANSFORMATION OF THE LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a historic $5.6 billion transformation of the Long Island Rail Road to strengthen the region's transportation infrastructure and usher in a new era of economic growth. After 70 years of stagnation, all 100 transformative LIRR capital projects are moving forward, including the Main Line Third Track, Double Track, Jamaica Station Reconstruction, 39 renovated Long Island Rail Road stations and grade crossing eliminations -- modernizing transportation across the region to provide a state-of-the-art system for Long Island. The $5.6 billion transformation is part of New York's $100 billion infrastructure program, the largest in the nation. A central component of this plan is building a new Hudson Tunnel between New York and New Jersey and rehabilitating the existing tubes. The Gateway project will connect travelers from across the Northeast corridor and bring riders into the heart of our system. This critical project is complemented by the development of the new Penn-Farley Complex, featuring the new Moynihan Train Hall, a $1.6 billion, 255,000 square foot facility which is expected to open in 2020. The Penn-Farley Complex also includes the newly opened West End Concourse, which enables LIRR commuters to board trains without entering Penn. Additionally, the transformative East Side Access project will create the first direct LIRR service to the east side and increase capacity to and from Manhattan. "With the complete transformation of the Long Island Railroad, New York is recapturing the bold ambition that made our infrastructure the envy of the nation and building for the future. The LIRR is the backbone of the region's economy, and the strength and resiliency of Long Island requires bold, transformative investments to bolster our transportation network," Governor Cuomo said. "From the previously unthinkable Third Track and Second Track projects to state-of-the-art technology and signal upgrades, we are daring to imagine better and delivering for the people of New York once again." Long Island Rail Road-specific components include the following:
  • Main Line Third Track: The $2 billion LIRR Expansion Project will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville, and eliminate all seven street-level grade crossings within the project corridor. With 40 percent of LIRR passengers going through the Main Line, and the project corridor's critical central position in the LIRR system, delays in the project corridor have rippled across the entire LIRR and impacted thousands of commuters. At the Governor's direction and after 70 years of stagnation, the state, MTA, local officials and Long Island communities are moving forward on this $2 billion project. The transformative new plan differs significantly from past proposals. The plan takes no residential properties, eliminates seven street-level grade crossings, and widens or increases the height of seven bridges across the line to prevent bridge strikes. Additionally, five new energy-efficient parking facilities with the capacity for 3,500 vehicles are being built in coordination with the Villages of Mineola and Westbury and the Town of Oyster Bay . The facilities will include local on-site management offices. As part of the transformative third track project, the state is undertaking a comprehensive noise abatement program - replacing all tracks and building the new Third Track with advanced dampening technology. The project includes sound-reducing walls along nearly six miles of residential neighborhoods along the mainline, and features architectural treatments to complement the surrounding environments. The state will also replace power infrastructure throughout the system with seven new traction power substations to improve reliability and increase capacity enough to power three LIRR trains traveling simultaneously. In addition, to increase safety, the system will add positive train control to prevent operator error. To ensure community input throughout the entirety of the project, the state is entering into memoranda of understanding with the communities on the Main Line Third Track. The MOUs will invite input on project design, including aesthetic design of certain project elements such as sound walls, consideration for traffic and parking, utilities, drainage, pest and dust control, transit-oriented development, construction schedule and duration and community safety and quality of life.
  • Double Track: The $387.2 million, 12.6 mile double track project will enable the LIRR to provide more frequent off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch in both directions, with off-peak service going from one train every hour, to one train every 30 minutes in both directions. Ridership on the LIRR's Ronkonkoma Branch is more than 48,000 each weekday. With just one track along most of the route between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the LIRR can operate only a limited number of trains and lacks operational flexibility in the event of a disruption. The project will reduce delays associated with service disruptions by giving the railroad flexibility to go around obstacles that it cannot currently in single track territory. The double track project will be completed next summer - 16 months ahead of MTA's planned schedule.
  • Mid-Suffolk Train Storage Yard: Due to lack of east end storage, the state is building a $128 million Mid-Suffolk Storage Yard in Ronkonkoma. The Yard will provide additional space for train car maintenance, inspections and servicing for the electric fleet and thus allow the LIRR to increase service during the AM rush by almost 50 percent, adding eight westbound trains to the current AM schedule. The state is also building 11 additional tracks across 13 acres at the Mid-Suffolk Train Storage Yard, each with the capacity for a 12-car train set. To support the storage yard's operations, the state is also building a new, 28,000 square-foot LIRR Command Facility. Renderings of the yard are available here .
  • Jamaica Station Signals, Tracks and Infrastructure: The configuration of tracks at Jamaica Station has not been updated since the station opened in 1913. As part of a $375 million project, the state is reconstructing Jamaica Station, which handles nearly all LIRR trains, including higher speed switches and new signals, and a new platform to streamline operations and increase service capacity to Atlantic, Penn and Grand Central. The project includes a construction of a dedicated track to Atlantic Terminal so trains do not have to use crossovers to access Brooklyn, as the current configuration requires. This track will provide Brooklyn-bound customers a dedicated "scoot" train and the new platform will feature glass-enclosed, heated waiting areas, as well as Wi-Fi and USB charging stations allowing customers to stay connected and charge their phones while they wait for the train. The project will also lengthen five existing platforms to accommodate full-length, 12-car trains to reduce station crowding and resulting delays.
(Governor Andrew M. Cuomo - posted 7/21)

INDUSTRY DAY TO SPOTLIGHT GROWING MOMENTUM SURROUNDING PHILADELPHIA'S NEXT GENERAL NEIGHBORHOOD: Amtrak will host an Industry Day for prospective bidders and development industry representatives interested in the master development partnership opportunity to bring to life the vision of the 30th Street Station District Plan, a road map towards an exciting new neighborhood, an incredible gateway for Philadelphia, and a center for new economic growth and opportunity. This event comes in advance of the release of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). Industry Day will feature a presentation on 30th Street Station improvement initiatives, an overview of next steps in the Master Developer solicitation and highlight Amtrak’s overall approach to investment and development at its other major stations. The Plan ultimately envisions an improved 30th Street Station, 40 new acres of open space and 18 million square feet of new development, including an entirely new mixed-use neighborhood anchoring the District atop 88 acres of rail yards along the western bank of the Schuylkill River. With a proposed $2 billion investment in roads, utilities, parks, bridges, and extension of transit services, the Plan has the potential to unlock $4.5 billion in private real estate investment with robust and widespread economic benefits. An estimated $3.8 billion in City and State taxes and 40,000 new jobs would be created. Following-up on positive market indicators, Amtrak anticipates moving forward with a two-step procurement, including a RFQ, followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP) from a short-list of qualified Master Developer teams. The solicitation for the 30th Street Station master development partnership is part of a larger corporate program to leverage Amtrak’s substantial asset portfolio. Focused on innovative strategies for sustainable financial performance and infrastructure reinvestment, this program includes additional future opportunities at one or more Amtrak stations including Chicago Union Station and Baltimore Penn Station. The Industry Day will be held at the University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall, located at 3417 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA on July 28, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will include several Amtrak speakers, presentations, and networking opportunities. The event is free but registration is required. Firms interested in attending Industry Day must register by clicking here. .

GROUND BROKEN FOR NEWARK REGIONAL TRANSPORATION CENTER: On July 17, Delaware Governor John Carney, U.S. Senator Thomas Carper, U.S. Senator Christopher Coons, U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, Transportation Chief Engineer Robert McCleary, and a host of other dignitaries participated in a Department of Transportation (DelDOT) groundbreaking for the Newark Regional Transportation Center, Parking Lot and Access Road. “This project represents an important part of our efforts to support the rebirth of the former Chrysler plant property. Having a modern rail facility in Newark is another great incentive for growing companies to choose the STAR Campus,” said Governor John Carney. The Newark Regional Transportation Center is a result of numerous parties – DelDOT, Governor Carney, our congressional delegation, the University of Delaware, Amtrak, and SEPTA – listening to the needs of our residents and business communities about how we can improve mass transit along the Northeast Corridor,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan. The improved station will provide an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant high-level platform, expand parking, and provide significantly improved passenger amenities including a station building with bathrooms. This project will be built by multiple construction contracts. This first construction project will build the expanded surface parking lot, access road, and related improvements. “Breaking ground on this project has been a long time coming,” said U.S. Senator Thomas Carper, who helped secure a $10 million TIGER IV grant for the transportation center in 2012. “When it’s finished, this federal investment will make our local transportation system more efficient, while also making it safer for drivers and passengers alike. The NRTC will breathe new life into this once bustling corridor, and this tremendous step forward would’ve been impossible without the commitment from all levels of government and our private partners to work together and deliver results to the people of the First State.” “Students, researchers, and employees of regional companies will benefit from construction following today’s ground breaking,” said U.S. Senator Christopher Coons. “Rail lines are a critical piece of our state’s transportation infrastructure, so projects like this that increase capacity are very important to Delaware. Improving transportation options is critical to creating more livable communities. This project represents a strong collaborative effort that will bring tremendous benefits to our state and the region. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners as this project moves forward.” “This project is another exciting step in the journey of the STAR Campus. The Newark Regional Transportation Center will increase the number of transportation options for Delawareans and helps improve the quality of life for residents up and down our state,” said U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester. “Partners from all sectors came together to make this project possible in a way that is truly unique to Delaware. I look forward to seeing the Newark Regional Transportation Center when it is completed as a part of this thriving campus.” University of Delaware Executive Vice President Alan Brangman said, “University of Delaware’s STAR Campus is designed to link academic research and innovation with industry, today’s groundbreaking is the embodiment of that link. This station will be a magnet for future STAR tenants and economic driver for Newark and the State of Delaware. We look forward to seeing passengers disembark here en route to one of the hundreds of new jobs to be located on STAR Campus. The new station will bring benefits to the whole community, including our students.” The project is partially funded by a $10 million TIGER IV Grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Other funding sources include the TTF, federal funds, the University of Delaware, City of Newark, WILMAPCO, and New Castle County. Future construction projects will consist of a station building, platform, track modifications, and pedestrian overpass. The contractor for the parking lot and access road is Greggo and Ferrara Inc. of New Castle, Delaware. The contractor submitted a bid of $4,816,345.60, the lowest of five bids received. (Alex Mayes, Delaware Gov John Carney - posted 7/20)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 15, 2017: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 540,005 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending July 15 were 262,869 carloads, up 0.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 277,136 containers and trailers, up 7.4 percent compared to 2016. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 14.3 percent to 40,764 carloads; farm products excl. grain, and food, up 4.1 percent to 16,567 carloads; and forest products, up 3.2 percent to 10,205 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 16.8 percent to 9,337 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 12.5 percent to 12,299 carloads; and grain, down 10.9 percent to 22,802 carloads. For the first 28 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,191,823 carloads, up 6.0 percent from the same point last year; and 7,393,388 intermodal units, up 2.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 28 weeks of 2017 was 14,585,211 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending July 15, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 354,240 carloads, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 355,958 intermodal units, up 8.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 710,198 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 28 weeks of 2017 was 19,325,658 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 75,047 carloads for the week, up 10.7 percent, and 67,033 intermodal units, up 13.7 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 28 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,985,562 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,324 carloads for the week, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,789 intermodal units, up 7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 28 weeks of 2017 was 754,885 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.4 percent from the same point last year (AAR- posted 7/19)

CP REPORTS RECORD SECOND QUARTER 2017 FINANCIAL RESULTS, REVENUES GROW 13% Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (TSX: CP) (NYSE: CP) today announced record second-quarter earnings driven by strong top-line growth and continued margin improvements produced by its industry-leading operating model and its 12,000 talented railroaders. Revenues climbed 13 percent to $1.64 billion, while net income rose 46 percent to $480 million, or $3.27 per diluted share, the highest ever for the period. Adjusted earnings per share rose 35 percent to $2.77 per diluted share. "This quarter's impressive results demonstrate the power of precision railroading," said Keith Creel, CP's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Strong volumes across many of our key business segments, combined with disciplined cost control, produced record operating income and earnings for the quarter." SECOND-QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
  • Total revenues grew 13 percent to $1.64 billion
  • Operating ratio improved 330 basis points to a second-quarter record of 58.7 percent
  • Operating income increased 23 percent to $679 million, a second-quarter record
  • Adjusted income climbed 30 percent to $407 million, with adjusted diluted earnings per share increasing 35 percent to $2.77
  • Cash from operations for the first six months rose to $922 million from $730 million a year earlier, supporting a gain in free cash flow to $361 million from $173 million in the same period
"We are off to a strong start in 2017 and remain confident that our team of committed railroaders will continue to safely and efficiently deliver results for our customers and shareholders in the second half of the year and beyond," Creel said (CP - posted 7/19)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO CONSOLIDATE OPERATING DIVISIONS TO ENHANCE SERVICE AND GAIN EFFICIENCIES: As part of ongoing efforts to enhance customer service and improve operating efficiencies, Norfolk Southern plans to consolidate its Central Division headquarters operations in Knoxville into three surrounding divisions. The consolidation, effective on or about Nov. 1, will reduce the number of operating divisions on NS’ system to nine from 10. Dispatching responsibilities now handled from the Central Division, which includes track primarily in Tennessee and Kentucky, will be divided among operating divisions headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., Decatur, Ill., and Fort Wayne, Ind. The move will affect a total of about 50 employees who work at the Central Division headquarters in management, dispatching, and clerical positions. Dispatchers will have the opportunity to transfer to one of the other three divisions or apply for vacancies across the system. Administrative and clerical employees will be offered opportunities to apply for vacant positions elsewhere. Current yard and field operations on the Central Division will not be affected by the headquarters closure but will be reassigned among the other three divisions. More than 250 employees will remain in Knoxville to provide safe and reliable service to local customers and support the yard’s role as a hub for through-train operations. (NS - posted 7/18)

FEDERAL FUNDS BEGIN TO FLOW INTO MASSACHUSETTS FOR GREEN LINE EXTENSION: The federal government last week made its first payment towards the Green Line Extension project, a transportation initiative that over the years has been the source of headaches associated with delays and cost overruns. The wire transfer of $1.7 million from the Federal Transit Administration came through Friday morning and marks the first installment of federal money towards a project the state has already spent $536 million on, project manager John Dalton said. Like many of the state's biggest transportation projects -- South Coast Rail and South Station expansion, for instance -- the rail line extension has been in the discussion phase for years but has yet to truly launch. "They've communicated their support for the project verbally, they have concurred with our cost estimate and schedule estimate," Dalton told the Department of Transportation board Monday. "But this is their first financial contribution on the project, so it's a big day and a further demonstration that we are definitely moving forward with a full head of steam." The FTA last month approved the Green Line Extension's grant application request for $34.5 million in certain federal funds, and similar grant requests are expected as the extension of trolley service through Somerville and into Medford advances. Dalton also told the board Monday that the project schedule is going to be moved up slightly to maximize the work that can be done during the 2018 construction season, though the completion date will not change. Dalton said he expects to give the design-build team the go-ahead, or notice to proceed, 61 days earlier than anticipated, on Dec. 11, 2017. The project completion date is still pegged at Dec. 10, 2021, Dalton said. Transportation officials put the brakes on the expansion of trolley service into Somerville and Medford after cost estimates ballooned 50 percent in 2015 to as much as $3 billion. Last year, MassDOT okayed a $2.289 billion version of the project. Somerville and Cambridge agreed to pitch in a combined $75 million. (MBTA - posted 7/18)

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE HOLLINGSWORTH TOURS LOUISVILLE & INDIANA PROJECT: U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.) earlier this week joined R. J. Corman Railroad Services LLC representatives to tour a trackwork project on the Louisville & Indiana Railroad (L&I). The 106-mile short line has contracted R. J. Corman to perform improvements that will enable the railroad to increase rail-car weight capacity to 286,000 pounds. From 2015 through 2017, 94 miles of continuous-welded rail and more than 80,000 ties will be installed. Hollingsworth's visit was coordinated by the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC), Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association and American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. "It was a pleasure to learn more about L&I Railroad, R. J. Corman, and the services they provide in Indiana's 9th District and beyond," Hollingsworth said in a press release issued by the NRC. "Their commitment to maintaining a safe, reliable freight network has enabled southern Indiana businesses to establish themselves, thrive and grow." R. J. Corman Railroad Services President Nathan Henderson and L&I Railroad President John Goldman led the tour. Also during the visit, the rail stakeholder group discussed the 45G short-line tax credit. Since 2005, a series of one- and two-year extensions of the credit have enabled short lines and their customers to reinvest billions of dollars in infrastructure, according to the NRC. The Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act would make the tax credit permanent. The bill currently has 204 cosponsors in the House and 51 cosponsors in the Senate. (Anacostia & Pacific - posted 7/18)

AMTRAK LAUNCHES THRUWAY BUS CONNECTION IN WEST VIRGINIA: Amtrak now operates a Thruway bus service in West Virginia for customers to connect to the Cardinal. The bus connection provides convenient and affordable service to Charleston for customers in Morgantown, Fairmont, Clarksburg/Bridgeport, Weston, Sutton/Flatwoods, and Clendenin. Baron’s Bus lines, an intercity bus service that operates nationwide, provides transportation to the towns in West Virginia in vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi, electrical outlets and comfortable seating. Amtrak Thruway services make coordinated connections with trains and enable passengers to use other carriers to connect with the Amtrak national network from cities without rail stations. The Cardinal operates between New York and Chicago three days a week. The train offers customers a wide, comfortable reserved coach seat, business class or sleeping accommodations, free Wi-Fi, hot meals in the dining car and the opportunity to mingle with fellow travelers in the lounge car. (Amtrak - posted 7/18)

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION MARKS 31 BILLION RIDES: The TTC officially celebrated 31 billion rides since it was established in 1921. Long-time Metropass Discount Plan subscriber James White of Toronto was randomly selected to represent the customer who made that 31 billionth trip. The TTC estimates that the 31 billionth trip was made in June. The TTC continues to set ridership records, providing Toronto residents and visitors with a record 538 million rides in 2016. The TTC expects 2017 to be another record-breaking year. At the event today, TTC Chair Josh Colle and CEO Andy Byford presented Mr. White with a year’s worth of complimentary monthly passes. "I am pleased to celebrate this milestone in TTC's history as we surpass the 31 billion ride mark," said TTC Chair Josh Colle, "It is an exciting time for transit in Toronto with a new subway extension opening this year and the ongoing modernization of the entire TTC network." (TTC- posted 7/14)

NJ TRANSIT ADOPTS FISCAL YEAR 2018 OPERATING, CAPITAL BUDGETS: The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today adopted a Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) operating budget and 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 budget that reflects a laser-like look at individual business lines in order to maximize efficiencies and maintain a safe transportation system,” NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “As transit professionals, we owe our customers and stakeholders a solid plan that has the least impact on our riders. After much hard work, I am confident we delivered on that.” The Board adopted a $2.218 billion operating budget and a $1.367 billion capital program for Fiscal Year 2018. Almost half of the revenue in the FY 2018 operating budget comes from passenger revenue ($1.014 billion), supported by a comparable amount from state and federal program reimbursements ($947.7 million) with the balance from a combination of commercial revenues ($115.2 million) and state operating assistance ($140.9 million). The capital program calls for continued investment in the state’s transit infrastructure to maintain a continued state-of-good-repair and provide reliable transit service.
  • Operating Budget: The FY 2018 operating budget reflects an increase of state and federal reimbursements, which will enable NJ TRANSIT to meet the agency’s projected expenses this fiscal year. Approximately 61 percent of the operating budget is dedicated to labor and fringe benefits costs. Other significant expenses include materials and supplies and purchased transportation, which equal 25 percent of the operating budget. Overall passenger revenue and commercial revenue represents approximately 51 percent of the total revenue.
  • Capital Program: The FY 2018 capital program continues to prioritize investment in infrastructure to maintain an overall state of good repair, enhance safety and reliability, and improve the overall customer experience on the system. With the FY 2018 capital program, NJ TRANSIT continues its financial commitment to Positive Train Control. The program continues to invest in railroad bridge rehabilitation, track replacement, signal upgrades, repairs to overhead power lines and electric substations as well as investments into the state-of-good-repair of the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the agency’s most utilized rail line. Approximately 53 percent of the program funds the basic capital program improvements needed to maintain and improve the transit system, including $201 million in rail infrastructure needs and $109 million in rail rolling stock improvements. Other highlights of the program include $47 million in rail station improvements: $3 million for Cranford Station; $9 million for Elizabeth Station; $18 million for Perth Amboy Station; $2 million for Roselle Park Station; and $6 million for other station and terminal improvements, inspections and repairs. The program also supports continued investment in the light rail system with $168 million being invested in bus and light rail infrastructure improvements: $99 million for replacement vehicles; $11 million for the Capital Asset Replacement Programs for both the Newark Light Rail and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail systems; and $17 million for bus passenger facilities and bus support facilities/equipment. In addition, this budget allows for $86 million to be invested in system-wide improvements including: $9 million in technology improvements and $6 million for safety improvements; $33 million in system expansion improvements, including $29 million for Northern Branch Expansion and $4 million for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Route 440 Improvement. Approximately 50 percent of the capital budget comes from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), with 47 percent from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and 3 percent from other sources.
(NJ Transit - posted 7/13)

STEWARTSTOWN RAILROAD AND MA & PA TO OFFER COMBO TICKETS: The Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village and the Stewartstown Railroad are joining forces this summer to celebrate the heritage of short line railroads in southeastern York County. Starting on Sunday, July 9th, they will offer a reduced price combination ticket to visit and ride the trains at both railroads. Combination tickets purchased at either railroad will be honored at the other on any open day through Labor Day. The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad, affectionately known as the Ma & Pa, began life as the narrow gauge Peach Bottom Railroad that connected York to Delta in the mid-1870s. The Stewartstown Railroad, often called "the farmer's railroad" was constructed from New Freedom to Stewartstown in 1885. Before automobiles and paved roads, railroads like these were essential lifelines in rural areas. They were built with the enthusiastic backing of local people who bought railroad stock and often donated right of way to satisfy their longing for reliable transportation and access to broader markets for their agricultural products. Today, the Stewartstown Railroad and the Ma & Pa Heritage Village are preserving the history of these short line railroads for a new generation. The 130-year-old Stewartstown Railroad operates under its original corporate charter and its original line is intact. The historic station at Stewartstown is open to visitors and excursion trains are run over a portion of the line as volunteers continue work to rehabilitate additional track. New Freedom Special run the entire length of the line, from Stewartstown to New Freedom and return, once a month. The Ma & Pa Heritage Village at Muddy Creek Forks is a museum that interprets the role of the railroad in life a century ago. Motorcar excursion trains run a 5.4 mile round trip through the scenic Muddy Creek Valley on the original Ma & Pa main line, and costumed docents welcome visitors to the A. M. Grove General Store, Muddy Creek Forks Roller Mills, grain elevator, and exhibits about the railroad and village. Two special events, the museum's first ever Early American Auto Day on Sunday, July 16, and its popular World War II Encampment, Saturday, August 26, and Sunday, August 27, are among the days on which the combination tickets can be used. “We’re very excited to be able to work with the Ma &Pa on this” said Dave Williamson, President of the Stewartstown Railroad. “York County has a rich railroad heritage, and we’re glad to be a part of it.” According to Ma and Pa President Craig Sansonetti, “We look forward to being a part of this joint celebration. The Ma & Pa and the Stewartstown Railroad served the people of southern York County for more than a hundred years. An event like this gives them a good opportunity to ride our rail lines once again.” Short Line Heritage combination tickets will sell for just $16 for adults and $14 for children at the railroad stations in Stewartstown and Muddy Creek Forks. Tickets are good for train rides at both sites. The Ma & Pa Heritage Village will be open from 1:00 to 5:00 PM every Sunday through Labor Day plus some special days. A full schedule is available at www.MaAndPaRailroad.com. For the operating schedule of the Stewartstown Railroad visit www.StewartstownRailroadCo.com. . (Michael Ruane - posted 7/13)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 8, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 8, 2017. The July 4th holiday is included both in this year and the comparable week of 2016. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 453,080 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending July 8 were 229,501 carloads, up 1.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 223,579 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared to 2016. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They were nonmetallic minerals, up 17.3 percent to 34,115 carloads; coal, up 5.7 percent to 76,931 carloads; and chemicals, up 4.4 percent to 29,246 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 19 percent to 8,449 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, down 15.3 percent to 7,853 carloads; and grain, down 13.3 percent to 18,062 carloads. For the first 27 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,928,954 carloads, up 6.2 percent from the same point last year; and 7,116,252 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 27 weeks of 2017 was 14,045,206 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending July 8, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 315,590 carloads, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 296,571 intermodal units, up 3.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 612,161 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 27 weeks of 2017 was 18,615,460 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 70,901 carloads for the week, up 6.1 percent, and 62,860 intermodal units, up 7.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 27 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,843,482 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,188 carloads for the week, down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,132 intermodal units, down 12.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 27 weeks of 2017 was 726,772 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.6 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 7/13)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ADVANCES RAIL PLANS FOR THE NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today released the Northeast Corridor (NEC) FUTURE Record of Decision (ROD). NEC FUTURE is FRA’s comprehensive planning effort to identify ways to improve the reliability, capacity, connectivity, performance and resiliency of passenger rail service throughout the Northeast Corridor through 2040 and beyond. The ROD marks the completion of the Tier 1 environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and establishes a long-term strategy for the NEC. The NEC FUTURE ROD expedites the environmental review process by focusing Tier 2 (project-level) environmental planning work and future analysis on priority issues, and by establishing agency relationships and agreements that will expedite and coordinate reviews, and by narrowing the range of possible alternatives that would need to be examined at the project level. The ROD also allows priority projects to move forward more expeditiously, because the Tier 1 environmental review process will already have been completed. “Safe, reliable and efficient rail transportation is a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure,” says U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “And expediting the project delivery process is key to delivering needed infrastructure more quickly.” Developed in concert with NEC states, local communities and railroads and with significant input from the public, the NEC FUTURE ROD lays out a menu of potential ways to improve passenger rail service by:
  • Increasing, and in some areas doubling, the number of regional commuter trains and providing three to five times more intercity trains.
  • Improving travel times between key city centers: Boston to New York City would be 45 minutes faster; New York City to Washington, D.C., would be 35 minutes faster.
  • Expanding the NEC to a 4-to-6-track modernized, integrated rail network with sufficient capacity to accommodate the projected increase in demand for intercity and commuter rail service.
  • Adding more than 200 miles of expanded track capacity between Washington, D.C., and New Haven, Conn., and between Providence, R.I., and Boston, Mass.
  • Creating a seamless customer experience through integrated ticketing and convenient connections.
  • Preparing for the future by stipulating that “new segments should be designated for 220 mph operations, unless there are unique or exceptional constraints that justify limiting the highest practical speed.”
  • Calling for a New Haven-to-Providence Capacity Planning Study to identify on- and off-corridor infrastructure to address the capacity constraints, speed restrictions and flooding vulnerability along the Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline.
“Given the high cost projections of the recommendations in the NEC ROD and the reality of state budgets, the completion of the Tier 1 study will enable states to better prioritize which projects to pursue,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Heath Hall. “Through this effort, localities will have a clearer picture of how their projects will fit in with the rest of the Northeast corridor.” The NEC mainline is 457 miles long, stretching from Washington, D.C., to Boston. Adding the “connecting corridors” (including Richmond, Virginia, and Albany, New York, etc.) ensures that the corridor rail lines total 899 miles. Every weekday, about 820,000 passenger trips occur along the NEC corridor -- 95 percent of them on eight commuter railroads and about 5 percent via Amtrak. The ROD assumes that by 2040, ridership will grow about 70 percent at New York’s Penn Station, greater than 80 percent at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station and 50 percent at Boston’s South Station. The NEC FUTURE ROD does not include funding recommendations to implement suggested improvements, in recognition that those decisions must be made by local and regional stakeholders. The approximate total cost estimate for all projects known to be within the parameters of the ROD totals $121 billion to $153 billion. For more information, visit www.NECFUTURE.com. (FRA - posted 7/12)

We are working around the clock to both repair the damage caused by the second incident and to ensure that we have no other track problems in this busiest and most important terminal. The immediate steps we’ve taken to fix the issues we’ve identified so far include:
  • Upon discovering this misaligned rail, we immediately surveyed all other sites at the station that could possibly have the same condition, and we can confirm that none were found.
  • We have changed our specs to eliminate the possibility of a mismatched condition.
  • We have launched joint inspections with the Federal Railroad Administration to ensure that all aspects of our infrastructure at New York Penn Station are in good order. We will share the full results of these inspections with both NJ Transit and Long Island Railroad so that they understand what we’ve found.
  • We are assembling a team that will be dedicated to address any maintenance deficiencies at the station and will reprioritize our work and support of various other projects to ensure, first and foremost, the basic condition of the terminal.
  • I am leading a comprehensive review of our maintenance practices and Engineering department, including bringing in independent experts, to ensure we have the right processes and organization to maintain and improve our infrastructure.
For more than 40 years Amtrak has worked alongside commuter rail lines on the Northeast Corridor. It is a proven partnership and we are dedicated to providing the levels of service necessary so that people can rely on rail travel. We are committed to providing a consistently reliable transportation service for everyone – and to provide a better experience for the customers of Amtrak and our commuter partners. (Amtrak - 4/06)

AAR REPORTS RAIL TRAFFIC FOR MARCH AND WEEK ENDING APRIL 1, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 1, 2017, as well as volumes for March 2017. U.S. railroads originated 1,283,489 carloads in March 2017, up 7.3 percent, or 87,183 carloads, over March 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,298,173 containers and trailers in March 2017, up 3.8 percent, or 47,180 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in March 2017 were 2,581,662, up 5.5 percent or 134,363 carloads and intermodal units over March 2016. In March 2017, 13 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with March 2016. These included: coal, up 19 percent or 63,846 carloads; crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 12.5 percent or 13,154 carloads; and grain, up 10.6 percent or 11,336 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in March 2017 from March 2016 included: motor vehicles and parts, down 5.3 percent or 4,999 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 8.1 percent or 4,382 carloads; and chemicals, down 1.3 percent or 2,113 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were up 2.7 percent, or 23,337 carloads, in March 2017 over March 2016. "Railroading is not for the faint of heart, as markets are continually changing and railroads have to adapt to changing circumstances," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Despite recent increases, in absolute terms rail coal volumes are much lower than they were even a few years ago, and rail crude oil volumes are roughly half what they were a couple of years ago. On the other hand, this was the best March ever for carloads of crushed stone, sand, and gravel, and it was the best March for grain since 2008." Total U.S. carload traffic for the first three months of 2017 was 3,324,102 carloads, up 5.7 percent, or 180,665 carloads, from the same period last year; and 3,387,680 intermodal units, up 1.4 percent, or 47,977 containers and trailers, from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 13 weeks of 2017 was 6,711,782 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to last year. "This was the best first quarter ever for U.S. railroad intermodal volume," said Gray. "Roughly half of intermodal is international trade, but it's not just intermodal that's associated with international trade. At least 42% of the carloads and intermodal units our nation's railroads carry, and more than 35% of rail revenue, are directly associated with international trade. Approximately 50,000 rail jobs, worth over $5.5 billion in annual wages and benefits, depend directly on international trade." Week Ending April 1, 2017 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 527,665 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 1 were 259,720 carloads, up 9.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 267,945 containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared to 2016. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included coal, up 26.8 percent to 78,665 carloads; metallic ores and metals, up 14.6 percent to 24,379 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 13 percent to 38,251 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 5.8 percent to 10,050 carloads; chemicals, down 5.6 percent to 32,210 carloads; and forest products, down 4.7 percent to 10,469 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending April 1, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 357,657 carloads, up 9.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 341,863 intermodal units, up 6.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 699,520 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2017 was 8,873,298 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 81,027 carloads for the week, up 11.3 percent, and 63,670 intermodal units, up 14.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 13 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,818,965 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,910 carloads for the week, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,248 intermodal units, up 0.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 13 weeks of 2017 was 342,551 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - 4/06)

MTA BOARD APPROVES SUBWAY AND BUS INITIATIVES FOR FASTER REPAIRS, BETTER STATIONS, BETTER SERVICE: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board on Monday voted on measures to improve service for millions of New Yorkers who use subways and buses, including a contract to shorten the 2019 Canarsie Tunnel closure by 3 months starting in April 2019; begin the next phase of the 2nd Avenue Subway; and to enhance train stations in Queens as part of a large-scale plan to overhaul more than 30 stations in the system in the 2015-19 Capital Program. “Today’s votes will bring convenience and better service to the millions of New Yorkers who use our system every day,” said Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “Improvements include modernized train stations in Astoria and a shorter closure of the Canarsie Tunnel, which will lessen the impact on L Subway train riders as we undertake these necessary Sandy storm repairs.”
  • 3-Month Shorter Closure for Canarsie Tunnel: The Board voted to award an expedited contract to accelerate the rehabilitation of the Canarsie Tunnel, which carries L train riders under the East River, by three months. The contract calls for improvements to two stations and a new substation that will add power to allow more trains to run on the L Subway Line once the tunnel reopens. The work to be completed in 15 months, three months shorter than the previously estimated 18 months. The joint venture selected to do the $492 million project is Judlau Contracting and TC Electric. Judlau successfully completed similar work on the Montague Tunnel in 2013 following Superstorm Sandy ahead of schedule. Penalties for any delays call for fines of $410,000 a day. The MTA and NYC DOT have engaged in an aggressive community engagement process through town halls and community workshops meeting with residents, businesses, community boards, merchant groups and civic associations in Brooklyn and Manhattan communities along the L Subway Line. The meetings have been successful forums providing information on the Canarsie Tunnel repairs and to solicit community feedback on possible alternate travel options during the planned closure.
  • Extending the 2nd Avenue Subway to East Harlem: The Board also voted to award a contract for outreach services for the next phase of the 2nd Avenue Subway project, which advances north to 125th Street and will feature new stations at 106th and 116th Streets. The $7.3 million contract, awarded through a competitive procurement process to East Harlem Community Collaborators JV (a joint venture formed by Spectrum Personal Communications and Sam Schwartz Engineering DPC), will lead to the opening of a staffed Community Information Center (CIC) for the project at 69 E. 125th Street this spring. The CIC was previously located on Second Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets. Spectrum is a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and is a 50-percent partner of East Harlem Community Collaborators. In addition, the joint venture has three DBE subcontractors, including Crystal McKenzie Inc. (CMI), Metropolitan Public Strategies (MPS) and Dakota Print and Premium LLC d/b/a Fuse Printing. Under the supervision of MTA Capital Construction Public Affairs, the new outreach staff, including Spanish speakers, will develop events and activities for the public; conduct tours, educational events and community meetings; assist in the preparation of presentations for Community Boards and elected officials; and help advise the public about the project schedule and any associated disruptions to services and access. A similar Center and operations were used to great success for Phase 1 of the 2nd Avenue Subway. On New Year’s Day 2017, Governor Cuomo celebrated the successful on-time launch of Phase 1 of Second Avenue Subway by opening three new stations on Second Avenue at 96th, 86th and 72nd Streets, and an expanded 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue station. Phase 2 preliminary design and engineering work, as well as environmental studies, have already commenced. Once completed, a project schedule and budget will be established. Since launching on January 1st, Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway has reduced weekday ridership in four key stations, 68th Street, 77th Street, 86th Street and 96th Street by an average of 27 percent on weekdays and as much as 46 percent during peak morning rush hours of 8 to 9 a.m., as compared to the same period last year, and has reduced travel time for many Upper East Side customers by 10 minutes or more.
  • Newly Enhanced Subway Stations in Queens: The Board voted to award a $150 million contract for the second set of stations in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ongoing Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI) to create new and dramatically improved subway stations throughout New York. The stations, which are all elevated, are located on the Astoria Line (N & W) in Queens, including the Broadway, 30th Avenue, 36th Avenue, and 39th Avenue stations. They will be renovated using a single-contractor, design-build method to cut construction time and save money. The station enhancements include: • Enhanced lighting throughout; • Improved signage for easier navigation, including digital, real-time service updates at subway entrances, before customers even enter the station; • Inclusion of amenities, such as countdown clocks, granite floors on the mezzanine level, and new art, as well as security cameras; • Renovations will also consider the architectural legacy of each station, and remain sensitive to historical elements as the stations undergo redesign; • As part of the process, the MTA evaluated proposals considering full and partial station closures in order to ensure that renovations are completed as quickly as possible. Last week, work began on the first group of stations in this initiative, along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn. The stations will be closed in both directions for renovations using a single-contractor design-build method to cut construction time and save money. High-resolution renderings of the station renovations are available here.
  • New, Higher-Capacity Buses: The Board voted to use the Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the federally funded procurement of up to 53 low-floor, 60-foot articulated buses to replace aging 40-foot buses that have reached the end of their 12-year life cycles. These buses represent an expansion of articulated bus operation in New York City and in some cases, an increase in service in order to meet peak-service demand and ease crowding. Converting a route to articulated bus operation also has an immediate impact on operating costs. Four 40-foot buses are replaced with three 60-foot articulated buses, resulting in a reduction in operator-related costs, fewer miles being driven, and a need for fewer buses to meet peak-service requirements. The buses will be outfitted with new features consistent with other new buses recently announced by Governor Cuomo, including improved driver visibility, pedestrian turn warning, Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, automatic passenger counters and digital information screens.
(MTA - 4/04)



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