` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine







Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
April 21, 2017:


ILLINOIS CHARGER LOCOMOTIVE BEGINS TESTS: The first Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotive, No. 4611, is among the group of 33 such units ordered by Illinois. It began testing in early April on Seattle-Portland Cascade service. On April 18 the unit was seen on a test train operating between Chicago and Milwaukee. Plans are to continue testing out of Chicago on the lines to Carbondale and Quincy. Testing on the Chicago-St. Louis line will be conducted later in the year. Engineering staff from both Amtrak and Siemens will be riding the locomotives in order to perform the required tests and monitor performance. Illinois DOT is the lead agency in a multi-state procurement for the locomotives with Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, California and Washington, which were purchased for $216.5 million. Delivery of all 33 locomotives is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. (Andy Kirk - 4/21 )

GOVERNOR CUOMO DIRECTS INVESTIGATION INTO CON EDISON EQUIPMENT FAILURE AFFECTING MTA SUBWAY SERVICE: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the New York State Department of Public Service and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to conduct an immediate investigation into Con Edison’s equipment failure that led to significant delays across MTA New York City Transit subways this morning. New York City Transit subways experienced a loss of station power at the Seventh Avenue Station in Manhattan due to a Con Edison equipment failure. The outage resulted in the loss of signals, escalators, communications and station lighting. MTA New York City Transit immediately deployed MTA generators to the station to restore the signals allowing trains to bypass the station. Service has resumed with residual delays. "The loss of power due to a Con Edison equipment failure during the morning rush hour caused a cascading effect and impacted the lives of thousands of commuters. Simply put, this was completely unacceptable and I am directing the Department of Public Service and the MTA to conduct an immediate investigation into the Con Edison equipment failure, the cause of the outage and the response to it. The New York City subway system is the lifeblood of the city and a critical means of transportation for millions of people, which is why we are making unprecedented capital investments into modernizing the system. The MTA will continue to deploy emergency resources to address the short-term issues, and our investigation will address all aspects of today’s events to get to the bottom of what happened." (MTA- 4/21 )

CSX ANNOUNCES INCREASE IN QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: CSX Corporation announced an 11 percent increase in its quarterly dividend, a new $1 billion share repurchase program, and strong financial guidance as it applies the Precision Scheduled Railroading model to its operations. “Although we are just in the beginning phase of making changes to our network, we are off to a great start,” said E. Hunter Harrison, president and chief executive officer. “These changes are critical to driving strong, sustainable service for our customers and superior value for our shareholders.” By focusing on these principles, CSX expects to realize record efficiency gains and a step-function improvement in its key financial measures for the year given continued economic growth and stable coal markets. Adjusting for restructuring charges in 2017, these actions are expected to drive a full-year operating ratio in the mid-60s, earnings per share growth of around 25 percent off the 2016 reported base of $1.81, and free cash flow before dividends of around $1.5 billion (see non-GAAP statements below). Recent changes to the company’s operations have already begun to deliver strong returns and are expected to accelerate in the coming quarters. Given this momentum, the CSX Board of Directors approved an increase in the quarterly dividend from $0.18 to $0.20. The new $0.20 quarterly dividend is payable on June 15, 2017 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 31, 2017. In addition, the Board also approved a new $1 billion share repurchase program, which management expects to complete by the end of the first quarter of 2018. This follows the successful completion of CSX’s previous repurchase plan, during which the company bought back $2 billion worth of shares since April 2015. In line with the company’s balanced approach in deploying capital, CSX now expects to invest $2.1 billion in 2017, including approximately $270 million for Positive Train Control. Of the 2017 investment, more than half will be used to sustain core infrastructure with the balance allocated to projects supporting profitable growth, efficiency initiatives and service improvements. (CSX 4/21 )

SEPTA CELEBRATES OPENING OF LANSDALE PARKING GARAGE: SEPTA officials gathered today with elected officials, community leaders and other stakeholders, to celebrate the completion of a new, state-of-the-art parking garage in Lansdale, PA. The Lansdale Parking Garage is a welcome amenity for the thousands of commuters that use the Lansdale train station each day and a nod to the Borough's rich railroad history. The name Lansdale came from Chief Pennsylvania Railroad Surveyor, Philip Lansdale Fox. Fox thought the area was full of possibilities and that it would be an ideal location for a railroad station. Lansdale Station opened for service in October of 1856 and the town's population steadily increased with the presence of the railroad. The borough was incorporated on August 24, 1872. "In keeping with the vision Philip Lansdale Fox had, SEPTA and the Borough of Lansdale have formed a bond that is creating new opportunities for residents, commuters and visitors centered around this key transit hub," SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel said. "Cooperation on this initiative has been extraordinary and the new parking facility will be a catalyst for smart growth opportunities in Lansdale." Construction on the $42.1 million project began in October 2015 and lasted for approximately 18 months. To accommodate displaced commuters during construction, SEPTA secured alternative parking locations, including the new 9th Street Station in Lansdale. The Lansdale Parking Garage Project is part of a series of initiatives that are the result of close coordination between SEPTA and Lansdale Borough. In addition to the 9th Street train station, planned projects include relocation and integration of a bus stop along Railroad Avenue for the Routes 96 and 132, and coordination of the Borough's Streetscape and Liberty Trail projects. Several mixed-use and residential developments planned for Lansdale Borough will increase ridership and parking demand at Lansdale Station. Lansdale Station is historically the most frequently used station along the Lansdale/Doylestown Line. Completion of the new garage ensures that SEPTA is poised to meet its increased ridership as well as the community's growing needs. The project was made possible by Act 89, the state's comprehensive transportation funding law passed in November 2013. Act 89 has enabled SEPTA to embark on its Rebuilding the System program, a comprehensive initiative to reinvest in the transit network throughout the region. "SEPTA has moved quickly to utilize Act 89 funds system-wide - making long-needed infrastructure upgrades and replacing equipment that has long out-lived its usefulness," said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. "These efforts are critical to sustaining our transportation network, and growing economic development in the region and throughout the state."
  • A signature initiative of the Rebuilding the System program, the new Lansdale Parking Garage is located on the inbound side of the Lansdale Train Station. It delivers a number of modern amenities to riders including:
  • A multi-story structure with 680 spaces;
  • Built-in electronic signage will direct drivers to available parking spots;
  • A tire inflation station will help customers save on fuel consumption;
  • Energy efficient LED lighting was installed inside and out;
  • A pedestrian overpass will provide a direct connection to the Madison Avenue Transit Oriented Development project.
  • Improvements were also made to Lansdale Train Station's surface parking lots and main entrance.
The parking garage project is the result of close coordination between SEPTA, PennDOT and the Borough of Lansdale working together to enhance train service access for Montgomery County. For more information, visit www.septa.org/rebuilding/parking/lansdale.html. http://www.septa.org/rebuilding/parking/lansdale.html or call SEPTA Customer Service at 215-580-7800. (SEPTA- 4/21 )

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES JANNO LIEBER APPOINTED MTA CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim today announced that Janno Lieber, a senior private sector real estate development and construction executive who is the current President of World Trade Center Properties, will join the senior executive ranks of the MTA as Chief Development Officer. In this newly created position, Lieber will take over leadership and oversight of key strategic capital initiatives focused on increasing the capacity of the system. "The key to transforming the MTA is delivering on bold and ambitious projects that will give New Yorkers the enhanced, modern transportation system they deserve," Governor Cuomo said. "Janno Lieber has a proven track record of innovative success managing multi-billion dollar projects in the private sector and deep experience in transportation. His unique skillset is a significant asset and will help us continue to deliver on the promise of a world-class transit system for New Yorkers." As part of his new responsibilities, Lieber will head up the MTA Capital Construction Company and will manage the MTA's major capital projects that expand capacity:
  • Second Avenue Subway Phase II – extending the line to 125th Street;
  • East Side Access – connecting Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal;
  • Penn Station Access – bringing Metro-North Railroad into Penn Station;
  • Enhanced Stations;
  • Improved Rail Mass Transit Access to JFK Airport with a focus on developing a one-seat ride;
  • LIRR Third Track – expanding capacity on the Railroad’s main line; and
  • LIRR Double Track – improving service and reliability on the LIRR's Ronkonkoma Branch.
His new broad strategic portfolio will also include oversight of the following key initiatives:
  • Signalization priorities – Communication Based Train Control and Positive Train Control;
  • MTA Real Estate – Real Estate Development; and
  • Alternate Project Delivery – including in particular expanded use of Public Private Partnerships.
Lieber brings extraordinary private sector experience to his new role as Chief Development Officer. Most recently, he served as President of World Trade Center Properties for 14 years where he managed the multi-billion dollar development of Silverstein Properties' projects at the World Trade Center. Lieber's responsibilities included managing design and building, business, finance, public affairs, legal, government and community relations. His appointment is a part of Governor Cuomo's commitment to bringing private sector talent into public service to produce results for New Yorkers. MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said, "These projects are the foundation upon which the future of our agency is being built. We look forward to Janno bringing to the MTA his lifetime of experience in getting big things accomplished – and we know that will pay lasting dividends for our riders and customers." Acting Chairman MTA Board Fernando Ferrer said, "The MTA is the economic engine of New York and we are moving our region forward with an unprecedented investment in our infrastructure. Janno Lieber's has proven that he has the ability to get results and we are proud to have him on our team at the MTA." Janno Lieber said, "New York has always led the way in public transportation. Now, under Gov. Cuomo's leadership we are again taking on the big projects that will make a real difference to New Yorkers’ lives and to our economic future. I’m thrilled to join him and the entire MTA team on that mission." Prior to World Trade Center Properties, Lieber served as Senior Vice President of Lawrence Ruben Company, and worked with clients such as Chicago Transit Authority, New Jersey Transit, and Penn Station Redevelopment Corp. – the agency responsible for planning the transformation of the James A. Farley Post Office Building into Moynihan Station. Before that, Lieber served in the federal government, having been appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the U.S. Department of Transportation. In this role, Lieber spearheaded the development and roll-out of the Clinton Administration's ISTEA authorization proposal, a highway and mass transit funding bill that included federal spending to improve, widen and extend the nation’s highway system. Earlier in his career, Lieber practiced law at the New York firm of Patterson, Belknap Webb & Tyler and served as a transportation policy advisor in the office of New York City Mayor Ed Koch. Lieber is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University Law School. He will officially join the MTA in late May. (MTA- 4/20)

DUNKIN' DONUTS COFFEE IS NOW AVAILABLE ON AMTRAK'S ACELA EXPRESS: Dunkin’ Donuts and Amtrak today announced that Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend and Dunkin’ Decaf hot coffee varieties are now available on board Amtrak Acela Express high-speed trains throughout the Northeast Corridor. With the new agreement, Dunkin’ Donuts’ signature hot coffee is now available to the 3.4 million customers who ride Acela Express trains each year. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee will be served all day in First Class and Café Acela, 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. Dunkin’ Donuts has an established presence at locations geared toward serving travelers, with restaurants at airports and train stations throughout the country. According to Chris Fuqua, Senior Vice President, Dunkin’ Donuts Brand Marketing, Global Consumer Insights & Product Innovation, “Both Amtrak and Dunkin’ Donuts share a long heritage of serving on-the-go Americans, and we are thrilled for the opportunity to help keep Acela Express passengers energized with Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee whenever and wherever they are traveling. As the brand that keeps America running, we are excited that Acela Express now runs on Dunkin’.” According to Thomas Hall, Amtrak Vice President, Passenger Experience, “Amtrak takes pride in enriching the customer experience with premium services and brands, and offering Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee aboard all of our Acela Express trains is just the latest example of this on-going commitment. No matter where our customers are traveling, providing a high-quality coffee experience on board is another reason why Amtrak is the smarter way to travel.” Acela Express is the premium service on the nation’s busiest passenger rail corridor, offering hourly service between New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and other intermediate cities, as well as many convenient round-trips between New York City and Boston. Acela Express customers enjoy more legroom, spacious seats, and – recently announced – Wi-Fi speeds up to six times faster, for more reliable connectivity at no extra charge. Amtrak’s Acela Express has led a significant growth in revenue and market share in the Northeast, increasing from 2.4 million customers in Fiscal Year 2002 to 3.4 million customers in Fiscal Year 2016. Later this year, Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffees are scheduled to be served aboard Amtrak’s Northeast Regional trains that operate throughout the Northeast Corridor. (Amtrak- 4/19)

PHILADELPHIA INVESTIGATOR SELECTED AS 2016 AMTRAK OFFICE OF THE YEAR: Investigator Joseph O’Keefe is the 2016 Amtrak Police Department Officer of the Year. In an April ceremony, Amtrak Chief of Police Neil Trugman presented the award to Investigator O’Keefe for his significant contributions to the Amtrak community, including the discovery of a large-scale auto theft ring in Pennsylvania and Delaware. “Investigator O’Keefe’s commitment to hard work, his investigative skills and dedication to duty have been a major contribution to our efforts to reduce fraud and improve processes company-wide,” said Chief Trugman. “It is my honor to present him with our most prestigious honor by naming Investigator Joseph O’Keefe the 2016 Amtrak Police Department Officer of the Year.” Based in Philadelphia, Investigator O’Keefe was able to link several thefts of rental cars from Wilmington Station to a large-scale auto-theft ring operating out of Delaware and Pennsylvania. O’Keefe was able to connect the thefts to other similar crimes in Maryland and ultimately build a strong case for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to prosecute. In Spring of 2016, O’Keefe and Investigator Michael Baker undertook an investigation into the theft of 120 feet of lead-encased copper communication wire. This theft caused damage to the train signal system and extensive delays to trains traveling on the Northeast Corridor. Using the discovery of hidden wire as bait, the investigators were able to capture an additional theft on camera and later took two suspects into custody. Both suspects would confess to taking the wire. Investigator O’Keefe’s work has also led to the reduction of online reservation fraud throughout the Amtrak system and his investigations have been a valuable asset to multiple law enforcement agencies including the United States Secret Service, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, the Diplomatic Security Service and the United States Attorney’s Office. Investigator O’Keefe began his career with Amtrak Police in 2011. After working as a patrol officer, he was promoted to the rank of Investigator in 2012. During his career with Amtrak Police, he has received the Exceptional Achievement Award, two Distinguished Unit Citations, and six Officer of the Month Awards. (Amtrak- 4/19)

CP REPORTS FIRST QUARTER EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited today announced first-quarter revenues of C$1.6 billion, up 1 percent from 2016 and reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.93, or $2.50 on an adjusted diluted EPS basis. "Thanks to our hard-working employees, industry-leading operating model and commitment to service, we produced solid results this quarter," said Keith Creel, CP's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We turned a corner in March and are now seeing positive volumes, which makes us cautiously optimistic that the demand environment is improving." FIRST-QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
  • Revenues increased 1 percent to $1,603 million from $1,591 million
  • Reported diluted EPS fell 17 percent to $2.93 from $3.51 and adjusted diluted EPS were flat year-over-year at $2.50
  • Reported operating ratio decreased by 80 basis points to 58.1 percent from 58.9 percent. The operating ratio in the first quarter of 2017 includes a $51-million recovery associated with the early departure of the previous CEO
  • Adjusted operating ratio, which excludes this gain, increased by 240 basis points in the first quarter of 2017 to 61.3 percent.
"CP's strong focus on developing its bench strength resulted in a seamless leadership transition and a seasoned executive team that is focused on leveraging CP's proven operating model," Creel said. "Our talented and engaged workforce together with disciplined cost control gives us a great deal of confidence that we'll be able to deliver high single-digit adjusted diluted EPS growth in 2017 and create long-term value for shareholders." "Given the strength of our foundation, rooted in precision scheduled railroading, we are well positioned to write the next chapter of this story - one that focusses on sustainable, profitable growth," Creel said. (CP- 4/19)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 15, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 15, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 519,318 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 15 were 255,485 carloads, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,833 containers and trailers, up 1.7 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 29.7 percent to 81,942 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 6.2 percent to 37,865 carloads; and grain, up 3.8 percent to 21,566 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 14.9 percent to 9,267 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 12.3 percent to 16,247 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 4.4 percent to 22,621 carloads. The week ending April 15, 2017 included Good Friday, which is a holiday for many railroads and rail customers. The comparable week in 2016 did not include Good Friday. For the first 15 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,831,643 carloads, up 6 percent from the same point last year; and 3,912,479 intermodal units, up 1.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 15 weeks of 2017 was 7,744,122 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 15, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 353,404 carloads, up 7.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 334,847 intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 688,251 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2017 was 10,241,843 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 83,898 carloads for the week, up 18.2 percent, and 62,616 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 15 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,106,096 carloads, containers and trailers, up 9.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 14,021 carloads for the week, down 12 percent compared with the same week last year, and 8,398 intermodal units, down 25.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2017 was 391,625 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- 4/19)

CAPEFLYER BEGINS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: Entering its fifth year of service, the CapeFLYER is excited to announce that trains will once again run from Boston to Cape Cod starting on Memorial Day weekend. Service will begin on Friday, May 26th and operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout until Labor Day. During the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the CapeFLYER will provide free service for active service members and veterans in partnership with the 13th Annual Troops in the Spotlight event led by Cape Cod Cares for the Troops. "Every year we are excited to start the trains to Cape Cod as a sign that summer is here and it is time for people to avoid the traffic and take the train to enjoy all the Cape and Islands have to offer," said Cape Cod Regional Transit Administrator Thomas S. Cahir. "What makes the opening weekend even more special is the opportunity to work with Cape Cod Cares for the Troops to honor and recognize our active and veteran service members who have done so much for our nation." Troops in the Spotlight is a twenty-four hour event to celebrate our service members and veterans; there are various activities and opportunities to support our troops. It begins on Sunday, May 28th at 11:30AM and concludes on Monday, May 29th at 11:30AM. For tickets, service members and veterans are encouraged to register at www.capeflyer.eventbrite.com. "We're very pleased to partner with CCRTA and offer this service to current and former military service members during Memorial Day weekend, a time when our nation reflects on the ultimate sacrifices of those who served our nation," said Acting MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. "We also look forward to another successful season for the increasingly popular CapeFLYER." For the season, the CapeFLYER will operate as its own dedicated train on Friday nights leaving South Station at 5:50 PM and making stops in Braintree, Brockton, Middleboro, Wareham, Buzzards Bay and Hyannis. Trains also operate on Saturdays and Sundays and holiday Mondays until Labor Day weekend. The complete schedule is available at www.capeflyer.com. In addition to a convenient trip to Cape Cod, the CapeFLYER works closely with the ferry operators to provide convenient connections to and from Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Cape Cod RTA buses are available at Buzzards Bay and Hyannis to bring passengers to the Cape communities. Finally, the CapeFLYER operates a café car that sells excellent food and drinks, including beer and wine, provided by Blonde on the Run Catering. The CapeFLYER is a unique partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. For additional information, including a complete schedule, fares and information about connections, please visit: www.CapeFLYER.com. (MBTA- 4/18)

METRORAIL RELIABILITY IMPROVING AS OLD RAILCARS REMOVED: Half as many trains were offloaded in the first three months of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016, Metro announced today. The significant improvement in customer reliability was the result of the ongoing, accelerated retirement of all 1000- and 4000-series railcars, Metro's oldest and least reliable, respectively, combined with a "get well" maintenance program on the transit authority's other railcars to make them more reliable. In the first three months of the year, a total of 218 trains were offloaded (a rate of 2.4 offloads per day), as compared to 433 offloads during the same period in 2016. Metro's "mean distance between delays," a metric that tracks how far a railcar travels, on average, before encountering a problem that delays a train, improved nearly 70 percent - from 48,064 miles between delays in the first quarter of 2016 to 81,451 miles in the first quarter of 2017. Specifically, propulsion-related delays were down 39 percent and door problems were down 16 percent during the period. Metro GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld has directed that all 1000-series and 4000-series cars be retired by the end of the year as new, more reliable 7000-series cars are delivered. To date, 70 percent of 1000-series cars and nearly half of 4000-series cars have been permanently removed from service. Today, there are 39 7000-series trains in service, representing about a third of all trains during rush hour. "These are all signs that Metro is starting to get 'back to good,'" said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. "Once we complete the yearlong SafeTrack program in June, customers will notice their commutes are more predictable - and more likely to be on time." The improvement in railcar reliability is already resulting in more predictable, on-time trips for customers. Metro has implemented an industry-first method of measuring on-time performance that is based on the actual customer experience, tracking travel times from the moment a customer taps into the system to the moment they tap out. So far this month, Metro customers have arrived within five minutes of their expected arrival time about 90 percent of the time, even with SafeTrack maintenance in effect. (Washington Metro - 4/18)

BROOKVILLE COMPLETES DELIVERY OF LIBERTY STREETCARS TO DETROIT: Brookville Equipment Corporation (BROOKVILLE) delivered its fifth and sixth off-wire capable Liberty Streetcars to Detroit in March, wrapping up vehicle deliveries to the new QLINE streetcar line ahead of contractual delivery dates and prior to the QLINE’s recently announced May 12 start of revenue service. “We are proud to work with the only U.S. based designer and manufacturer of streetcars,” said M-1 RAIL CEO Matt Cullen. “BROOKVILLE worked with us every step of the way to ensure the QLINE would meet its Spring 2017 operational launch. Our vehicle testing and training programs benefitted from the early vehicle deliveries and we are looking forward to our May 12 Grand Opening.” Throughout the project, BROOKVILLE’s deliveries occurred an average of 57 days ahead of their contractual dates, beginning with the pilot vehicle’s arrival in September 2016. Since that time, the streetcars have been gradually undergoing testing in preparation for the forthcoming line opening. Designed and manufactured at BROOKVILLE’s Pennsylvania manufacturing plant, the QLINE streetcar vehicles will traverse a 6.6 mile loop on Woodward without the aid of an overhead contact system (OCS) for 60 percent of the route, instead using the Liberty Streetcar’s battery onboard energy storage system (OESS). Other key features of the 66.5 feet-long, 8 foot, 8 inch-wide vehicles include over 70 percent low-floor area, station-level passenger boarding, and the capability to comfortably transport up to 125 total passengers at a time to key business, shopping, entertainment, and dining centers along the route. In addition to the M-1 RAIL order, BROOKVILLE has delivered Liberty Streetcars to Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and is also currently under contract with the City of Oklahoma City and the City of Milwaukee for the production of similar Liberty Streetcar vehicles. (Brookville Equipment- 4/17)

ABERDEEN TRAIN STATION IMPROVEMENTS: The City of Aberdeen will be applying for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) – Transportation Alternatives Program grant funding in May, 2017. The City is working in conjunction with MDOT officials, the Maryland Department of Planning, and the Harford County Office of Economic Development to enhance and improve the Aberdeen MARC Station connectivity and this will include accessible pathways, enhanced transit waiting areas near the Exxon Station, wayfinding and lighting, eliminating impediments to accessibility, and enhancing the underpass access. (City of Aberdeen - 4/17)

GREENBRIER AND MITSUBISHI SIGN RAIL CAR AGREEMENT: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. and Tokyo-based MUL announced execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to substantially expand the parties' existing commercial relationship in North America. MUL intends to grow its portfolio from 5,000 railcars to a total of 25,000 railcars over the next four years. The MOU includes a multi-year purchase commitment by MUL for 6,000 newly-manufactured railcars from Greenbrier through 2020. Further, MUL has committed to obtain all its newly-manufactured railcars exclusively from Greenbrier through 2023. In addition to the new equipment ordered, over the next few years, MUL will supplement its portfolio growth through a combination of lease syndications and used equipment owned and originated by Greenbrier. The combined value of the transaction announced today exceeds $1 billion. In 2014, Greenbrier and MUL collaborated on a railcar lease syndication and asset management partnership designed to establish MUL as a leading owner and lessor of railcar assets in North America. Under this arrangement, Greenbrier has syndicated and sold to MUL nearly 5,000 new and used, leased railcars, which Greenbrier currently manages. The MOU provides that the parties will form a new asset management service entity, owned 50% by each company, solely for railcars in the MUL fleet. The 5,000 cars currently managed by Greenbrier will be managed by this new entity. Greenbrier will receive fee income from MUL related to its railcar asset management services. "Greenbrier's business relationship with MUL continues to flourish as we focus on mutually beneficial transactions to achieve our respective business goals. The MOU we announced today advances Greenbrier's well-established strategy to reduce the amount of long-term capital invested in our Leasing & Services business as we drive greater transaction volume through our lease underwriting, syndication and asset management model. From modest beginnings, Greenbrier has evolved a very successful, asset-light leasing and asset management business that today manages over 265,000 railcars and completed over $1.2 billion in lease syndications during the last two years," said William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO. MUL President & CEO Tadashi Shiraishi said, "MUL is committed to growing our investment in railcars to serve the North American freight rail market. We have set an ambitious target to increase MUL's market share to a level that places it among North America's top 8 leading operating lessors of railcars. MUL selected Greenbrier as the exclusive builder of new railcars for our fleet because of Greenbrier's well-established reputation for building high quality freight railcars. MUL has also secured access to Greenbrier's proficiency in railcar management through the formation of a new enterprise that will serve as the sole provider of railcar management supporting MUL's rapidly expanding fleet." Furman concluded, "MUL is a good and trusted partner, joining other Greenbrier syndication partners and industry customers who buy our railcars and access various services supplied through our integrated services model. Under this model, Greenbrier assumes fiduciary duties including management of complex information with firewall protections to ensure complete customer confidentiality. We value the optimism and long-term view that MUL brings with its approach to the freight car markets. We appreciate the opportunity to extend our business relationship with MUL into the next decade and we are pleased to support U.S. rail industry jobs through this new investment." The agreements discussed in this release, including the sale of new and used railcars, are subject to agreement on remaining terms and completion of documentation, and other customary conditions. (Greenbrier - 4/17)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 8, 2017: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 513,022 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 8 were 252,056 carloads, up 9.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 260,966 containers and trailers, up 4.6 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 29 percent to 75,078 carloads; grain, up 26 percent to 23,778 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 7.6 percent to 37,582 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.7 percent to 10,020 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 1.4 percent to 20,941 carloads; and forest products, down 1 percent to 9,929 carloads. For the first 14 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,576,158 carloads, up 6 percent from the same point last year; and 3,648,646 intermodal units, up 1.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2017 was 7,224,804 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 8, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 345,891 carloads, up 9.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 334,403 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 680,294 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2017 was 9,553,592 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 77,948 carloads for the week, up 10.2 percent, and 62,669 intermodal units, up 10.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 14 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,959,582 carloads, containers and trailers, up 9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,887 carloads for the week, up 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,768 intermodal units, down 3.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2017 was 369,206 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent from the same point last year (AAR - 4/15)

MBTA'S FISCAL YEAR 2018 OPERATING BUDGET: The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) adopted an FY18 MBTA operating budget that continues the progress made by the FMCB and MBTA management over the last two years to sharply reduce the MBTA’s operating deficit. The $1.989 billion FY18 operating budget, which is slightly lower than last year’s spending plan, has a structural deficit of $30 million. While still out of balance, the operating budget approved today carries a structural deficit that is nearly ten times smaller than a projected FY18 operating budget deficit of $335 million identified twenty months ago when the FMCB and new MBTA leadership were put in place. “We still face serious challenges, but we can also report significant progress, more than many people thought was even possible,” said MBTA Acting General Manager and Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve. “We owe it to our riders to keep making the tough decisions necessary to position the T for long-term sustainable success.” In today’s action, the FMCB directed MBTA staff to identify additional savings totaling $12 million from the FY18 operating budget proposed earlier this year, mainly from additional savings in current costs for bus maintenance and the MBTA’s paratransit service, The RIDE. The FMCB also called for MBTA staff to produce $5 million in FY18 commuter rail savings. The FY18 budget deficit of $30 million will be largely covered by borrowing from the $187 million in additional assistance provided to the MBTA by the Legislature this year. Of that $187 million, $150 million is set aside for capital investments to improve MBTA reliability. The FMCB and MBTA management have continuously worked toward balancing the operating budget through a combination of internal cost controls and increases in own-source revenues. Operating expense growth has been held to zero for the past three fiscal years for the first time in MBTA history. Processes have been put in place to improve the fiscal outlook and put the MBTA on a path to fiscal sustainability. Increasing own-source revenues through advertising, real estate, and parking is projected to rise 70 percent from FY15 to FY18. Real estate development programs have also been accelerated to continue to grow revenue. Additionally, all available debt has been restructured and refinanced, resulting in $35 million in operating savings in FY18P with the MBTA on track to pay down more than $470 million of principal in FY17 and FY18, reducing the debt balance to $5.1 billion in FY18. The MBTA was granted a three-year waiver from the Pacheco law as a tool to balance its operating deficit, resulting in a number of flexible contracting actions approved by the FMCB and implemented within its first eighteen months. The MBTA’s cash processing operation was contracted to Brinks for ten years with an operating and capital savings of $96 million and a dramatic improvement in operations (80 percent reduction in time to deposit from 120+ hours to twenty-four hours or less). Significant savings and operational improvements have also been achieved as a result of partnering with the private sector for the T’s warehousing operations. The landmark agreement with the Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589 resulted in operating savings of $217 million due to lower wage rates for new hires, work rule reforms, and slower progressive wage increases. The first-in-the-nation Uber/Lyft paratransit pilot program has also helped reduced costs on The RIDE. Capital investments in FY17 resulted in the highest state of good repair in the MBTA’s history ($675 million, up by 60 percent over FY16). Winter resiliency infrastructure investments of $100 million resulted in successful, fully operational subway, bus, and commuter rail systems during winter storms in February and March 2017. Operating budget savings of $140 million were also deposited in the capital maintenance lock box for capital infrastructure repairs. The entire Red Line No 3 fleet was approved to be replaced with 250 brand new cars, which will be in service within four years. The Green Line Extension project was also brought back on track with $600 million in value engineering savings identified and a new management team in place, resulting in the Federal Transit Administration greenlighting a $1 billion funding commitment. These initiatives have incurred positive results with the MBTA’s operating expenses on track for the lowest growth rate in more than fifteen years. The MBTA has proceeded with further options to balance its FY18 operating budget. The approved FY18 Budget includes baseline status quo revenue and expense assumptions. Revenue assumptions for FY18 include sales tax revenues conservatively budgeted at the Base Revenue Amount of $1.007 billion, own-source revenues increased by $15 million (driven by a growth in parking and advertising revenues), no fare increases, and additional State Assistance of $187 million fully committed to the CIP and “Pay-GO” capital. Expense assumptions for FY18 include wage expenses (flat headcounts to eliminate vacant positions, thirty-percent reduction in corporate HQ and administrative positions, Boston Carmen’s Union 12/19 agreement in effect for the full fiscal year, across-the-board increases of 2.5 percent next year with all unions other than the Carmen’s Union naturally increasing wage expenses by $6 million or 1.2 percent, and overtime costs projected to be level with FY17 run-rate at $42 million), pension budgeted at Actuarially Required Contribution Rate from FY17, RIDE savings (consolidated, fully operational RIDE call center and the RIDE Uber/Lyft pilot), warehouse/cash collection/call center/police dispatch fully implemented, materials/services/supplies expenses built from the bottom up based on executed contracts and purchase orders, and a total debt service of $451 million, including $240 million of principal paid down per amortization schedule (interest expenses are $31 million less than originally projected in 2015 pro-forma). (MBTA - 4/15)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT FOR LIRR EXPANSION PROJECT: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the completion of the environmental impact study for the proposed LIRR expansion project – one of New York's greatest efforts to increase capacity of the commuter railroad since it was first built in the mid-19th century. The Final Environmental Impact Statement confirms the expansion project will improve LIRR service, reliability, and safety, for both residents and commuters on Long Island. "Expanding the Main Line is crucial to the future success of Long Island businesses and its residents, and this environmental study brings us one step closer to fulfilling New York's goal of providing reliable, safe travel for all," Governor Cuomo said. "By increasing rail capacity and eliminating street-level grade crossings, this project will reduce congestion and help build a transit system that meets the demands of 21st century travelers, marking another major step forward in our efforts to build a brighter future for Long Island." The project’s comprehensive Final Environmental Impact Statement is the result of more than a year of data collection, analysis, and continuous public outreach. A total of 12 public hearings were conducted, in addition to a walk-in project office at Mineola Station, and hundreds of meetings with elected officials, community groups, transit and engineering advocates and experts, and other critical stakeholders such as individual homeowners, business owners and commuters. The study is available on the LIRR project website at www.aModernLI.com. Required by New York State environmental laws, this study aimed to identify any potential significant adverse impacts, and ensure the project is implemented safely, responsibly, and with public input. The study’s findings confirm that the LIRR expansion project will improve service and reduce delays for customers throughout the system by adding a third track to the bottlenecked, two-track section of the Main Line in Nassau County. The elimination of street-level train crossings, or “grade crossings,” in the project area will also reduce delays and improve safety. The study demonstrates that by constructing sound barriers and retaining walls, the project will significantly reduce noise in local communities by blocking sound from trains. Removing street level grade crossings in the project corridor will eliminate the loud train horns and crossing bells required at these crossings, and end the extensive idling of automobiles at grade crossings which will reduce air pollution. Eliminating street-level crossings will reduce traffic jams and improve safety. MTA Interim Executive Director Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim said, "This comprehensive study is the result of exhaustive research, data collection, analysis and public consultation, using some of the strictest environmental standards in the nation. It confirms not just vast benefits for commuters throughout the entire LIRR system, but for our neighbors in the project corridor as well, with significant reductions in noise, and the safety and convenience benefits that come from eliminating grade crossings, building sound barrier walls and parking garages, and updating stations." LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said, "This completely new effort to fix the two-track bottleneck on the LIRR’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville is like none that ever came before it – with exhaustive community participation, no residential relocations and significant reductions in noise and improvements in safety for local residents." The proposed project is completely different from prior proposals to expand track capacity on the LIRR’s Main Line. The Final EIS released today confirms that this project will include:
  • No residential relocations;
  • Elimination of all street-level grade crossings within the 9.8-mile project corridor;
  • Construction of sound barrier walls to reduce noise;
  • Station upgrades;
  • Additional parking;
  • Increased reliance on private construction industry expertise to minimize construction duration, impacts and cost; and
  • An unprecedented level of public outreach to engage local officials, homeowners and other stakeholders and incorporate their input while the project is being planned and constructed.
A draft of the EIS was released in November 2016, and was followed by a public comment period that was extended in response to public request. Six public hearings at three locations, with shuttle buses available from nearby rail stations, were held in January and approximately 1,000 people attended. More than 700 formal comments were also submitted and responded to, which are included in the Final EIS under "Response to Comments." The full text of comments as written, as well as full transcripts of all six Draft EIS hearings, are available in an appendix of the Final EIS. All sections of the Final EIS are available on the project website. As part of new information included the Final EIS published today, a number of proposed project elements and their descriptions were further developed. New and modified elements of the EIS include descriptions and renderings of:
  • The architectural design of proposed station improvements;
  • The location and type of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant access or emergency access to station platforms, including at Floral Park station;
  • The location, length, and height of various sound barrier walls; and
  • The size and design of proposed parking garages at Mineola, Westbury, and Hicksville. The Final EIS also contains additional or revised analyses of environmental and other conditions that fall within the scope of the study. The Final EIS:
    • Confirms significant noise reductions for communities near the LIRR right-of-way, due to the use of sound barrier walls and retaining walls, and the elimination of street-level train crossings that cause train horns and crossing bells to sound throughout the day;
    • Confirms vibration impact reductions for communities near the LIRR right-of-way, due to the use of special vibration-absorbing fasteners, rail pads and ties;
    • Updates the land use, community character and visual impacts analyses to account for adjustments made to the location, length, and height of proposed retaining walls and sound barrier walls and provides additional renderings at locations in the project corridor;
    • Contains updated archaeological assessment confirming no impacts at the proposed parking garage locations;
    • Incorporates the results of soil analysis conducted within the LIRR right-of-way and at parking garage locations, as well as results of asbestos and lead sampling at station buildings, substations, bridges, signal huts, and other affected structures within the LIRR right-of-way;
    • Revises traffic analysis to incorporate additional intersections and to consider modified access to the proposed parking garages;
    • Updates air quality analysis; and
    • Expands the construction noise analysis to include more detail on specific pieces of equipment likely to be used at various locations throughout the project corridor and the efficacy of noise control measures that would be required.
    The 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 up to 40 percent of the LIRR’s 308,000 daily passengers going through the Main Line, which serves as the main corridor through which many branches of the LIRR travel, the proposed project will improve service for more than half a million passengers per week. Currently, trains are required to blow their horns as they pass through grade crossings, and additional noise comes from bells that alert nearby drivers, who idle in long lines as they wait for trains to pass and honk their horns when gates open. The elimination and modification of all seven street-level grade crossings within the project area will be overseen by the Department of Transportation. NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll said, "The street-level grade crossing elimination options for this project were developed in close consultation with local communities and will end the noise, traffic and safety concerns that they have been living with for years. It will lead to a significant improvement in quality of life for many people." Proposed retaining walls and sound barrier walls will have an even greater impact after the significant service increases from the East Side Access Project go into effect. The project also includes major track infrastructure upgrades such as new switches, signals and power equipment, as well as station upgrades such as new, longer platforms to accommodate full-length trains, removing delays and safety issues associated with passengers needing to move between cars on shorter platforms. The project also proposes additional parking to address future ridership growth. These and other proposed components of the project are the result of months of direct consultation with local elected officials and community members, as well as analysis by experienced transportation engineers. Other environmental benefits from the project, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, derive from reduced automobile trips as a result of additional and more reliable rail service All project benefits, as well as other detailed information like track and grade crossing changes, proposed service changes, current land use patterns and proposed construction staging, are outlined in the project’s EIS. No Residential Property Acquisitions Unlike previous attempts to add a third track to the two-track Main Line, this project is designed without a single residential property being taken, as promised by Governor Cuomo soon after the proposal was announced last year. As shown by detailed figures in the EIS, this will be achieved by building the third track entirely within the LIRR’s existing property lines. Increased Transparency and Community Outreach At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the LIRR Expansion Project team has undertaken an unprecedented level of community outreach since the proposal was first announced last year, including hundreds of meetings to date with elected officials, community leaders, homeowners along the project corridor, LIRR customers, and stakeholders throughout the region. A staffed, walk-in information office with project documents and other materials has been open since May 2016. An outline of the Draft EIS, called a Draft Scoping Document, was published in May 2016, and six public hearings were held that month to solicit comments from the public. A Final Scoping Document incorporating that public comment was published in August 2016, and meetings with local communities and stakeholders continued into the fall. All of this input helped shape the content of the Draft EIS, which was published in November 2016 and was the subject of another lengthy public comment period as well as six public hearings earlier this year. The public input received during this comment period has been incorporated into the project and its Final EIS. Community-Focused Construction Mitigation Responding to extensive input from local communities, the project will require contractors to use neighbor-friendly and innovative construction practices to keep the impact of construction as minimal as possible. This community-focused approach to construction includes:
    • Pre-construction home inspections;
    • Satellite parking to keep workers’ personal vehicles out of residential streets;
    • Using existing track to transport materials to and from work sites;
    • Advance notification of any disruptive work or road closures to residents, municipalities, school districts and first-responders;
    • Scheduling construction deliveries outside of school and commuter traffic peak hours to the maximum extent practicable;
    • Creating and implementing a community noise and vibration monitoring program;
    • Implementing an air quality control plan to include dust control measures, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, the use of best available tailpipe technologies such as diesel particulate filters, and the utilization of newer equipment;
    • Environmental monitoring consistent with a Construction Health and Safety Plan;
    • Protecting access to existing businesses;
    • Street cleaning as needed;
    • Door-to-door outreach to residents;
    • Regular online updates to the public;
    • Staffing the Project Information Office with on-site supervision for rapid response to neighborhood concerns; and
    • A 24/7 hotline assigned to a community outreach representative.
    In addition, Governor Cuomo has directed that construction for this project use the "design-build" contracting technique, which places oversight of the construction in the hands of private construction firms, which are expert in the field. This means that construction oversight will be completely different from past LIRR projects, with goals to shorten the construction timeline, improve efficiency and minimize the impact of the project on surrounding communities and rail passengers. The design-build method, used in other projects like the current building of a new Tappan Zee Bridge, puts the responsibility to both design and build a project on a single firm, capitalizing on private sector construction expertise and innovation and incentivizing a firm’s success at reducing construction length, cost and impacts. In November 2016, the MTA Board voted to use a two-step public process to identify the private construction firms that are best qualified to work on the LIRR Expansion Project and then, in the future, select one based on the best proposal to meet the project’s objectives. The initial stages of the procurement process and the environmental study are happening in parallel so that agency decision making in areas that are important to the public – like construction time, cost and impacts – are informed by ideas that emerge during the early stages of the procurement process. In a demonstration of the widespread interest in the project from the local business community, more than 700 local small businesses attended a forum in Queens Village last month to learn more about the project, find out how to get hired to work on it, and meet the various construction firms that have qualified to bid to design and build the project. The forum attracted participants from Long Island and across the New York metropolitan area and focused outreach on service-disabled veteran-, women- and minority-owned entrepreneurs to ensure that the widest possible array of local small businesses find the opportunity to work on the project. The LIRR Expansion Project is part of a broader, ongoing effort by Governor Cuomo to transform the MTA and improve transit and transportation throughout New York State. On Long Island, projects like the Double Track Project between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the Jamaica Capacity Improvements Project, and the East Side Access Project to bring LIRR to Grand Central Terminal, will all bring better service to LIRR customers and help ease congestion on clogged local streets and highways such as the Long Island Expressway, Northern and Southern State Parkways, and Grand Central and Belt Parkways. (MTA - 4/15)

    STATEMENT FROM AMTRAK PRESIDENT AND CEO WICK MOORMAN ON NEW YORK PENN STATION: I apologize to everyone who has been inconvenienced by the recent delays and cancellations at New York Penn Station. It’s our job to make sure that commuters and intercity passengers can safely and reliably travel along the Northeast Corridor and we know we let them down with these recent derailments. Our customers and partners deserve better. I have just visited with our hard-working crews and we expect to have all tracks at New York Penn Station at full service tomorrow. Based on our recent investigations, we can confirm that problems with our tracks in Penn Station were a cause of both recent derailments. With the March 24 Acela Express derailment, we had a mismatch between two pieces of rail that connected together in a curve, which created a step-like condition that contributed to a wheel of our Acela Express trainset derailing. This week’s NJ Transit derailment appears to have been caused by a wide gauge condition due to defective wood ties. 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)

    NJ TRANSIT TRAIN DERAILS AT PENN STATION NEW YORK: At approximately 9 a.m. this morning, NJ TRANSIT’s Northeast Corridor line train #3926 experienced a slow speed derailment while pulling in to Track 9 at New York’s Penn Station. Three cars in the middle of the ten car train derailed. These were cars 5, 6, and 7. There were four minor injuries reported to 1,200 NJ TRANSIT customers and crew members on board. As a result of this incident, NJ TRANSIT rail service in and out of New York Penn Station was temporarily suspended. NJ TRANSIT is adjusting its service to and from Penn Station New York (PSNY) following an earlier derailment near the station. Limited inbound service began operating to Penn Station New York at 11:45 a.m. Limited outbound service will begin at 1:05 p.m. with train #3845. MidTOWN Direct trains will continue to operate in and out of Hoboken Terminal through the remainder of the day. Raritan Valley Line service will operate to and from Newark Penn Station. Customers can expect up to 30-minute delays during the afternoon peak period due to track constraints at Penn Station New York. A more detailed service plan for the afternoon is still under development. Customers are encouraged to check njtransit.com frequently for the latest information. Cross honoring remains in effect with NJ TRANSIT bus, private carrier bus, NY Waterway ferry and PATH at Newark, Hoboken and 33rd Street. Hoboken services will also be impacted due to the additional trains in the terminal. Because of track limitation in the terminal some Summit-bound trains will be impacted. Due to the circumstances, customers are asked to be patient and give themselves additional travel time. (NJ Transit - 4/03)

    LONG ISLAND CANCELS OR ALTERS TRAIN SERVICE FROM PENN STATION DUE TO NJ TRANSIT DERAILMENT: Because of an NJ TRANSIT derailment at Penn Station this morning and continuing track repairs, the Long Island Rail Road needs to cancel 18 trains from Penn Station between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and have 8 others originate at Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn, or Jamaica, Queens. Normally 87 LIRR trains depart from Penn Station during this time. The cancellations are necessary to allow NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak, which runs Penn Station, the exclusive use of Tracks 13-16, which are normally shared with LIRR; the move means four of the nine Penn Station tracks used by the LIRR for the evening rush hour are not available for use as a result of the derailment. The remaining LIRR trains from Penn Station could experience delays and crowding. The LIRR will operate on near normal schedules out of Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn, and Hunterspoint Avenue, Queens. New York City Transit will cross-honor LIRR tickets at 34th Street-Penn Station on the 1 Subway2 Subway3 Subway and A SubwayC SubwayE Subway. There will be no westbound service between Jamaica and Penn Station from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Customers will be able to transfer to the E Subway subway for continuing service to Penn Station. New York City Transit will cross-honor LIRR tickets at Woodside and Jamaica. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., westbound Port Washington Branch trains will terminate at Woodside, where customers will be able to transfer to the 7 Subway subway for continued service to Manhattan. (MTA- 4/03)

    THE MTA IS YOUR RIDE TO ALL YANKEES AND METS HOME GAMES: Don’t strike out and get stuck in traffic. As baseball season begins, the MTA’s subways, railroads and buses are ready to get you to all Yankees and Mets home games while avoiding the expense of parking or aggravation of post-game traffic congestion. The Mets’ home opener is scheduled for Monday, April 3, and the Yankees’ is on Monday, April 10. All season long, getting to the stadiums is stress free when you ride the MTA. Here are details of game-day service to Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.
    • Getting to Citi Field:
    • New York City Subway - The 7 Subway train’s Mets-Willets Point station is right in front of Citi Field on Roosevelt Avenue near 126th Street. Fans can always take either the local or the express 7 Subway to reach Mets-Willets Point. After weeknight and weekend games, New York City Transit provides special super-express 7 Subway trains timed to depart after the last out. After leaving the game, these trains make only six stops – 61 St-Woodside, Queensboro Plaza, Court Square, 42 St-Grand Central, 5 Av-Bryant Park, and Times Square-42 St.
    • MTA New York City Transit is offering a nostalgia train ride for fans heading to Citi Field for the Mets’ home opener on April 3. The vintage “Train of Many Colors,” consisting of 11 cars manufactured between 1948 and 1964, will make express stops from 34 St-Hudson Yards to Flushing-Main Street. Known for the cars’ varying color schemes that represent several different eras in subway history, the “Train of Many Colors” departs 34 St-Hudson Yards at 11:30 a.m. on April 3.
    • Long Island Rail Road - The LIRR provides direct service to the Mets-Willets Point station all season long via the Port Washington Branch, just 19 minutes from Penn Station. Citi Field is just 17 minutes from Great Neck and 27 minutes from Port Washington. Fans traveling from Long Island on other branches can reach Citi Field by changing at Woodside, just a five-minute ride from the stadium. Regularly scheduled Port Washington Branch trains will make stops at the Mets-Willets Point Station throughout the regular season for all games, and the LIRR will operate extra trains for each weekend game. Game day train schedules are available here: http://web.mta.info/lirr/Timetable/MetsWilletsPoint.htm
    • Tickets - The LIRR encourages customers to purchase tickets using MTA eTix, the railroad’s mobile ticketing app which allows customers to buy tickets on their mobile device -- anytime, anywhere. Customers can also purchase tickets at the station before boarding their trains. Conductors will collect tickets upstairs at the station. Fans who hold monthly tickets between stations on Long Island and Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal or other Zone 1 stations can travel to Mets-Willets Point at no additional charge. The railroad’s special Family Fare is a great way to save. Children ages 5 through 11 ride for only $1 each (each way). Children under 5 ride for free at all times. On weekends, fans coming from Penn Station, Woodside, Auburndale, Bayside, Broadway, Douglaston, Flushing-Main Street, Little Neck, or Murray Hill can save money by using CityTicket, which is just $4.25 one way. Fans traveling from branches other than the Port Washington Branch who change at Woodside will not need a separate ticket for that leg of the journey. Except on weeknight trains departing Penn Station between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., all game trains accept off-peak tickets.
    • Metro-North Railroad - Mets fans from the Hudson Valley or Connecticut can catch any Metro-North train to Grand Central to connect with the 7 Subway subway to Citi Field.
    • New York City Buses - The Q48 stops at 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, right in front of Citi Field. The Q19 and Q66 stop at 126th Place and Northern Boulevard, four blocks from Citi Field (eastbound) or 126th Street and Northern Boulevard, two blocks from Citi Field (westbound).
    • Getting to Yankee Stadium:
    • New York City Subway - MTA New York City Transit is continuing its annual Opening Day tradition of offering a nostalgia train ride from 42 St-Grand Central to 161 St-Yankee Stadium in time for the Yankees’ first pitch on April 10. A train consisting of four low-voltage cars from 1917 will depart at 11:30 a.m. from the uptown express platform of the Lexington Avenue Line 4 Subway5 Subway6 Subway at 42 St-Grand Central and operate non-stop service to 161 St-Yankee Stadium. The subway’s 161 St-Yankee Stadium station, with service on the B Subway, D Subway and 4 Subway lines, is right next to the stadium at the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue. No matter when a game is being played, you can always take the 4 Subway train. Or, you can take the B Subway or D Subway trains based on the following schedule. Getting to the Game from Manhattan - To the game: For weekday evening games, use the B Subway (arriving at the stadium between 4:15 and 6:55 p.m., otherwise use the D Subway). For weekday afternoon games or weekend games, use the D Subway. After the game: After weekday evening games and weekend games, use the D Subway. After weekday afternoon games, the D Subway stops at the stadium until 4:05 p.m.; after 4:05, the B Subway and the D Subway both stop at the stadium. Getting to the Game from the Bronx - To the game: For weekday evening games, the B Subway and the D Subway both stop at the stadium. For all other games, use the D Subway. After the game: After weeknight games and weekend games, use the D Subway. After weekday afternoon games, the D Subway stops at the stadium until 4:15 p.m.; thereafter it’s the B Subway.
    • Metro-North Railroad Metro-North’s Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station is a short walk from the stadium and there is lots of extra service on all three Metro-North lines trains timed to let fans arrive for the first pitch and have a leisurely walk after the last out. While the game is in play, trains run every 20 minutes. Fans should check timetables, at this link: http://web.mta.info/mnr/html/yankees/yankee_service.htm
    • New Haven Line and Harlem Line - For all weeknight and weekend games, Metro-North provides special direct service to the stadium via special “Yankee Clipper” service. After the game, direct trains are timed to depart between 20 and 45 minutes after the last out. For weekday afternoon games (and as an alternative to the Yankee Clippers for all games), fans can take any train to Harlem-125th Street to change trains for a five-minute ride to Yankee Stadium.
    • Hudson Line - While the Hudson Line has direct service to the station year-round, many local and express trains make special stops at the stadium on game days, and the Hudson Line also has “Yankee Clipper” trains timed specially for Yankee fans.
    • Tickets - Metro-North encourages customers to purchase tickets using MTA eTix, the railroad’s mobile ticketing app which allows customers to buy tickets on their mobile device -- anytime, anywhere. Customers can also purchase tickets at the station before boarding their trains. Conductors will check tickets at the station. Fans who hold monthly tickets to Grand Central Terminal or Harlem-125th Street station, can travel to Yankees-E. 153rd Street at no additional charge. Fans who use the Port Jervis Line or Pascack Valley Line can use their monthly or weekly tickets to or from Hoboken or Penn Station New York for travel from Grand Central Terminal or from other stations on the Hudson Line (possibly with a small additional charge) to Yankees-E. 153rd Street station. The railroad’s special Family Fare is a great way to save. Children ages 5 through 11 ride for only $1 each (each way). Children under 5 ride for free at all times. On weekends, fans coming from Grand Central or Harlem-125th Street can save money by using CityTicket, which is just $4.25 one way. Fans who change trains at Harlem-125th Street, will not need a separate ticket for that leg of the journey. Except weeknight trains departing Grand Central between 4 and 8 p.m., all game trains accept off-peak tickets.
    • Long Island Rail Road - Yankees fans from Long Island can catch any train to Penn Station for a 25-minute subway ride to Yankee Stadium. From Penn Station, catch an uptown A Subway train for a three-stop ride to 125th Street, where you can catch an uptown B Subway or D Subway train (depending on the game time) for a short three- or four-stop ride to the stadium.
    • New York City Buses - The Bx6 and Bx13 stop right in front of the stadium at E. 161st Street and River Avenue. The Bx1 and Bx2 stop at E. 161st Street and the Grand Concourse, a three-block walk to the stadium. (Click on the links for route maps and real-time bus locations and arrival estimates through MTA Bus Time.) The BxM4 express bus also stops at 161st Street and the Grand Concourse, three blocks from the stadium. The bus provides half-hourly service to weeknight games and hourly service at other times. After the game, the bus stops hourly at 158th Street and the Grand Concourse.
    (MTA - posted 3/31)

    IMPROVEMENTS SET FOR SOUTH SHORE RED LINE STATIONS AND GARAGES: The MBTA, which is already purchasing new cars and upgrading signal and other infrastructure on the Red Line, will discuss major improvements and renovations at stations and garages on the South Shore at four public meetings that begin next week. State-of-the-art safety features, major accessibility improvements, and additional parking are some of the improvements to be made during projects renovating Wollaston Station, partially demolishing the Quincy Center Garage, and major overhauls to the parking facilities at Quincy Adams and Braintree Stations. "We sometimes refer to the Red Line as the 'Jobs Line' because of its critical role in moving people from their homes to their jobs," said MBTA Chief Administrator and Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. "The generational investment we are making in Red Line vehicles and infrastructure will deliver significant and lasting benefits not just to Red Line riders, but to their communities and the region's economy." The T has already committed $911 million to Red Line projects, including 252 new Red Line cars that will begin full revenue service in November 2019. The South Shore parking renovations are just part of a series of signal, rail, and other infrastructure upgrades. The Wollaston Station Improvements Project will transform that station, which is currently the only non-accessible station on the Red Line, into a modern, fully accessible facility, making the entirety of the Red Line 100-percent accessible. New features and upgrades to the station include additional customer paths, brand new elevators, 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. Construction of the project is proposed from July 2017 through June 2020 with an estimated construction value of $38 million. To most efficiently complete the project and achieve the best customer experience, the station will temporarily close during the 20-month construction period and be replaced 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. The five-level parking garage at Quincy Center Station was closed in July 2012 due to structural concerns. Removal and demolition of the garage above Level 2 will occur in order to advance transit-oriented development around the station and Phase 1 of the Quincy Center Station Air Rights Redevelopment Project. The existing elevator will also be completely replaced and an accessible entrance at Burgin Parkway will be added. Construction of the project will occur from July 2017 through December 2018 for a construction value of $25 million. The station will remain open and fully functional during construction. Renovations to the garages at Braintree and Quincy Adams will feature improved parking space layout and an increased number of spaces. Also included are structural repairs, replaced drainage systems, upgraded fire alarm, CCTV, electrical, and emergency power systems, and full replacement of lighting systems. Braintree Garage will feature a brand new lobby, redundant elevators, and improved stairways with construction at Quincy Adams Garage featuring Centre Street Bridge repairs. 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. Braintree Garage's construction is scheduled to occur from September 2017 through August 2019 with a construction value of $31 million. Quincy Adams Garage construction is scheduled to occur from September 2017 through December 2020 with a construction value of $42 million. Both garages will remain in service during this construction period. Four public meetings are scheduled regarding the South Shore stations projects in which project managers will discuss engineering plans, project timelines, project mitigation, and other project-related topics:
    • Wollaston Station Renovation: Tuesday, April 4 2:00 p.m. Tobin Towers, Dining Hall, 80 Clay Street, Quincy
    • Tuesday, April 4 6:30 p.m. Central Middle School, Auditorium, 875 Hancock Street, Quincy
    • Quincy Center Garage Demolition: Thursday, April 6 6:30 p.m. Old City Hall, Lower Level Meeting Room, 1305 Hancock Street, Quincy
    • Quincy Adams Garage Renovation: Tuesday, April 11 6:30 p.m. Lincoln Hancock School, Cafeteria, 300 Granite Street, Quincy
    (MBTA - posted 3/31)

    BILLY COLLINS PENS 'SUBWAY' FOR NEW SECOND AVENUE LINE: A poetic homage to the workers who dig subway tunnels, written for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority by the former U.S. Poet Laureate and former New York State Poet Laureate Billy Collins, is the newest addition to MTA Arts & Design’s Poetry in Motion program as the MTA continues to celebrate the opening of the new Second Avenue Subway this year. Written for the opening of MTA’s first new subway line in decades, “Subway” is an ode to those who took on the monumental task of building the underground public transportation system that moves millions of New Yorkers every day. The poem also is a reminder that this work is not in the distant past and remains a presence in the city: digging for the first phase of Second Avenue Subway took place just a few years ago, and more work is planned to extend the line north on Second Avenue to Harlem in Phase 2 of the project. “We invited Billy Collins to write a poem to celebrate the completion of Second Avenue Subway since his way with words speaks to all New Yorkers, with a purity of thought that gets to the meaning in a way we all understand, and he does it with a lyrical brilliance. Pairing his verses with Sarah’s expansive artwork was a great match of creative spirits, as together they were thinking of those who built the new subway and those who use it today and for generations to come,” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts & Design. The Poetry in Motion program, presented by MTA Arts & Design in partnership with the Poetry Society of America, pairs selected poems with artwork from the MTA’s permanent art collection. The artwork paired with “Subway” is a detail from Sze’s immersive installation at the 96 St station on the Second Avenue line, and graphically links the poem to this new chapter of a century-old subway system. “When I was asked by MTA Arts & Design to write a short poem for the occasion of the opening of the Second Avenue Subway, my first thought was the Herculean construction effort of digging the tunnel and the many workers whose dedicated labor went into its making. I grew up in Queens, so I had long heard about the ‘sandhogs,’ those who burrowed while others went about their business on the surface. And I had read Mary Beth Keane’s ‘The Walking People,’ a fictional tribute to them. I wanted the little poem to remind riders of the nearly unimaginable physical effort that went into the making of the tunnel they were speeding through—the years of blasting and underground drilling, and the dangers involved. I hoped the poem would create a moment of reflection in the rush of city life, a moment of gratitude for the men and women who created this engineering wonder,” said Billy Collins, the former U.S. Poet Laureate and former New York State Poet Laureate. “Coupling my piece at 96 St with Billy Collins’ poem is a beautiful marrying of language and visuals — both capturing a fleeting moment of reflection. I love finding a Poetry in Motion moment on my subway ride. The velocity of moments described in my installation at the 96 St station now extends through the discovery of a trail of Billy Collins’ work in posters of blue and paper dispersed throughout the subway system,” said artist Sarah Sze (MTA - posted 3/30/17)

    AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 25, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 25, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 526,471 carloads and intermodal units, up 12 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending March 25 were 260,897 carloads, up 12.4 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 265,574 containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent compared to 2016. Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included grain, up 21.8 percent to 23,312 carloads; coal, up 19.8 percent to 79,422 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, up 15.8 percent to 22,248 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 were motor vehicles and parts, down 1.5 percent to 18,390 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1.4 percent to 10,591 carloads. For the first 12 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,064,382 carloads, up 5.5 percent from the same point last year; and 3,119,735 intermodal units, up 1.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 12 weeks of 2017 was 6,184,117 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending March 25, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 357,200 carloads, up 12.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 337,745 intermodal units, up 14 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 694,945 carloads and intermodal units, up 13.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 12 weeks of 2017 was 8,173,778 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.1 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 80,295 carloads for the week, up 13.1 percent, and 62,580 intermodal units, up 21.7 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 12 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,674,268 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,008 carloads for the week, up 20.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,591 intermodal units, up 36.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 12 weeks of 2017 was 315,393 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.6 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/29/17)

    GRUPO MEXICO TO ACQUIRE FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY HOLDINGS: GMéxico Transportes S.A. de C.V. (“GMXT”), the transportation business unit of Grupo México (MX: GMEXICOB), and the Florida East Coast Railway Holdings Corp (“FEC) today announced that they have entered into an agreement under which GMXT will acquire FEC in an all cash transaction. The acquisition is expected to close subject to satisfaction of closing conditions including the receipt of applicable government approvals. GMXT is the most competitive transportation company in Mexico, with more than 6,200 miles (10,000 km) of rail track covering major industrial and commercial zones in the country and connecting to international transportation networks through eight seaports and six border crossings, handling just over 1.4 million loads per year. The acquisition of FEC will immediately establish GMXT as an important railroad owner in the United States, adding a vital Florida rail line to the company’s existing operations in Texas. Headquartered in Jacksonville Florida, the Florida East Coast Railway provides rail service along the east coast of Florida and is the exclusive provider of rail service to South Florida’s ports—Port Miami, Port Everglades, and the Port of Palm Beach. FEC provides service across 351 miles of owned track and with connections to CSX and Norfolk Southern in Jacksonville, Florida, FEC is able to serve 70% of the United States population in 1 to 4 days. FEC serves a diverse mix of intermodal, aggregate, auto, chemicals, metals and lumber customers, handling approximately 550,000 loads per year. FEC is owned by funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC (NYSE: FIG). Alfredo Casar, President and Chief Executive Officer of GMXT, commented: “The acquisition of FEC is an important strategic addition to our North American transportation service offering. Our acquisition of the FEC will significantly enhance the scope, scale and diversification of our service. “We are excited to welcome FEC to our transportation team as we work together to provide safe, reliable and efficient rail and trucking services to our customers.” Jim Hertwig, President and Chief Executive Officer of FEC stated: “The FEC team looks forward to working with GMXT to grow our business, execute our key strategic initiatives and take advantage of new opportunities.” BBVA Bancomer, S.A. and Credit Suisse served as financial advisor to GMXT. Dechert and Galicia served as legal advisors. Barclays and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC served as financial advisors to the FEC. Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Sidley Austin served as legal advisors. (FEC - posted 3/28/17)

    SEPTA RELEASES PROPOSED FY 2017 CAPITAL BUDGET AND 12 YEAR PROGRAM: SEPTA will advance initiatives to renew critical infrastructure, replace aging portions of its fleet, expand capacity for growing ridership and make technology improvements under its proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget and 12-Year Capital Program. The capital budget funds projects such as bridge and track replacement, reconstruction of stations and other facilities, and the purchase of new vehicles. It also focuses on the implementation of new technologies for customers, such as real-time travel alerts. Following public hearings, the Capital Budget plan will go to the SEPTA Board for approval. The $727.2 million FY 2018 proposal advances SEPTA's "Rebuilding the System" initiative, a comprehensive program to reinvest in the transit network throughout the region. The Authority embarked on this plan following the November 2013 passage of Act 89, which provides capital funds for transportation improvements throughout Pennsylvania. In the coming year, SEPTA will move ahead with a number of major initiatives, including:
    • Communications, Signal Systems and Technology Improvements
    • Bridge Improvement Program
    • Safety and Security Improvements
    • SEPTA Key - fare modernization project
    • Stations, Loops and Parking Improvements
    • Substations and Power Improvements
    • Track and Right-of-Way Improvements
    • Vehicle Acquisitions and Overhauls
    The full budget proposal, including program and project details, click here. SEPTA riders and other local residents are invited to ask questions and submit comments about the Capital Budget during public hearings on Wednesday, April 26. Sessions will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Board Room at SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street, Philadelphia. Comments can also be submitted online here. An independent hearing examiner will review all public feedback and submit a recommendation prior to the SEPTA Board's vote on the proposal, which is expected at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, May 25. (SEPTA - posted 3/28)

    CN, DULUTH CARGO CONNECT TO ESTABLISH FIRST INTERMODAL CONTAINER TERMINAL IN THE TWIN PORTS: CN and Duluth Cargo Connect today announced a new alliance establishing the first rail-served intermodal container ramp in the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minn. and Superior, Wis. Duluth Cargo Connect, a working partnership of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing, will operate the rail-served facility at the port's Clure Public Marine Terminal. "Opening CN's newest intermodal location here in Duluth instantly connects our region to containerized imports and exports via CN's rail network, avoiding the congestion in large urban intermodal facilities," said Vanta Coda, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "Our truck traffic has grown exponentially in recent years, and now we've partnered with CN to bring a whole new mode of efficient transportation services to the Twin Ports." JJ Ruest, CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, said: "CN's innovative partnership with Duluth Cargo Connect opens up a new logistics supply chain and growth opportunities for the port's partners and shippers in the region. CN is pleased to bring its extensive contacts in international markets, freight-forwarding knowledge, and customs and marketing support to the Twin Ports." Added to Duluth Cargo Connect's existing suite of services, CN's new intermodal service furthers the port terminal's 25-year record of success with stevedoring, cargo handling and warehousing operations. "By working with CN to establish this Duluth intermodal ramp, Duluth Cargo Connect is helping customers move freight by its shortest and most economical path," said Jonathan Lamb, president of Lake Superior Warehousing. "CN is the only railroad in this market with direct service to East, West and Gulf Coast ports." Congressman Rick Nolan, a member of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, said the new ramp is an important addition to the Duluth economy. "I'm pleased CN has partnered with Duluth Cargo Connect to make the Port of Duluth its newest Midwest destination," said Nolan, a member of the House Ports Caucus. "This partnership and efficient transportation networks mean more imports and exports coming through Duluth, and most importantly, economic stability and good-paying jobs for our region." Loaded import containers from ports originating on all three coasts served by CN will arrive in Duluth via CN's rail network. The import containers can be used by Twin Ports exporters as new capacity to ship their goods to world markets. CN and Duluth Cargo Connect will begin serving import and export markets in March. CN (CNR.TO) (CNI) and Duluth Cargo Connect today announced a new alliance establishing the first rail-served intermodal container ramp in the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minn. and Superior, Wis. Duluth Cargo Connect, a working partnership of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing, will operate the rail-served facility at the port's Clure Public Marine Terminal. "Opening CN's newest intermodal location here in Duluth instantly connects our region to containerized imports and exports via CN's rail network, avoiding the congestion in large urban intermodal facilities," said Vanta Coda, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "Our truck traffic has grown exponentially in recent years, and now we've partnered with CN to bring a whole new mode of efficient transportation services to the Twin Ports." JJ Ruest, CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, said: "CN's innovative partnership with Duluth Cargo Connect opens up a new logistics supply chain and growth opportunities for the port's partners and shippers in the region. CN is pleased to bring its extensive contacts in international markets, freight-forwarding knowledge, and customs and marketing support to the Twin Ports." Added to Duluth Cargo Connect's existing suite of services, CN's new intermodal service furthers the port terminal's 25-year record of success with stevedoring, cargo handling and warehousing operations. "By working with CN to establish this Duluth intermodal ramp, Duluth Cargo Connect is helping customers move freight by its shortest and most economical path," said Jonathan Lamb, president of Lake Superior Warehousing. "CN is the only railroad in this market with direct service to East, West and Gulf Coast ports." Congressman Rick Nolan, a member of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, said the new ramp is an important addition to the Duluth economy. "I'm pleased CN has partnered with Duluth Cargo Connect to make the Port of Duluth its newest Midwest destination," said Nolan, a member of the House Ports Caucus. "This partnership and efficient transportation networks mean more imports and exports coming through Duluth, and most importantly, economic stability and good-paying jobs for our region." Loaded import containers from ports originating on all three coasts served by CN will arrive in Duluth via CN's rail network. The import containers can be used by Twin Ports exporters as new capacity to ship their goods to world markets. CN and Duluth Cargo Connect will begin serving import and export markets in March. (CN - posed 3/28/2017

    SEPTA BOARD APPROVES PURCHASE OF MULTI-LEVEL COACHES FOR REGIONAL RAIL: The SEPTA Board approved the purchase of multi-level coaches for Regional Rail -- a key part in the Authority's efforts to meet the needs of a growing railroad ridership. SEPTA will purchase 45 multi-level coaches, with an option for 10 more, from CRRC MA Corp. As part of the Request for Proposal process, SEPTA received proposals from CRRC and two other companies, Bombardier and Hyundai Rotem:
    • CRRC MA: $137,480,000 for base-order of 45 coaches; $161 million with 10-coach option
    • Bombardier: $171,528,744 base; $197,894,224 with option
    • Hyundai Rotem: $184,761,928 base; $214,221,928 with option
    The contract award was based on technical rating and pricing. SEPTA determined the CRRC proposal was the best value and most advantageous for the Authority. The new multi-level coaches will meet "Buy America" requirements, with 60 percent or more of the parts, labor and fabrication done domestically. "This contract award allows SEPTA to advance a major service-improvement initiative at a cost that fits within our budget constraints," said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. "We look forward to seeing the new multi-level coaches in service for our customers." The first of the new multi-level coaches are expected to be delivered in late 2019. The coaches will be paired with SEPTA's new electric locomotives, which are currently being manufactured by Siemens. The multi-level coaches will be produced primarily at CRRC MA's main U.S. manufacturing facility in Springfield, Mass. CRRC MA is a subsidiary of the largest railcar manufacturer in the world. "SEPTA's Regional Rail ridership has grown by more than 50 percent over the last 15 years," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "The addition of new multi-level coaches and electric locomotives are critical for expanding capacity and meeting the needs of our riders. These fleet upgrades will play a key role in advancing SEPTA's Regional Rail Service Improvement Program." The Regional Rail Improvement Program is a comprehensive effort to address travel demand, on-time performance and overall service by renewing infrastructure, upgrading the rail fleet, utilizing new technologies and bolstering the workforce, along with other initiatives (SEPTA - posted 3/24)

    AMTRAK SERVICE CHANGES DUE TO DERAILMENT: Due to this morning's Acela Express derailment and collision , Acela Express and Northeast Regional service between Newark, NJ and New York will be subject to delays. NJ TRANSIT service will terminate either in Newark Penn Station or Secaucus. Keystone Service will end and originate in Newark where passengers can transfer to Northeast Regional trains into New York. PATH will also honor Keystone Service ticketed passengers in and out of New York. Empire Service will terminate and originate in Yonkers, NY. A Metro North shuttle train will transport passengers to and from Grand Central Terminal. (Amtrak - posted 3/24)

    LIRR TO CANCEL 29 PM RUSH HOUR TRAINS FROM PENN STATION RESULTING FROM AMTRAK DERAILMENT: Because of an Amtrak derailment at Penn Station this morning, the Long Island Rail Road plans to cancel 29 PM rush hour trains out of the 87 that normally depart from Penn Station during this time. The cancelations are necessary to allow NJTransit and Amtrak the exclusive use of Tracks 13-16, which are normally shared with LIRR; the move means four of the nine Penn Station tracks used by the LIRR for the evening rush hour are not available for use as a result of the derailment. The remaining LIRR trains from Penn Station could experience delays and crowding. The LIRR will operate on near normal schedules out of Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn and Jamaica, Woodside and Hunterspoint Avenue, Queens. New York City Transit will cross-honor LIRR tickets at 34th Street-Penn Station on the 1 Subway2 Subway3 Subway and A SubwayC SubwayE Subway. Westbound Port Washington Branch trains will terminate at Woodside, where customers will be able to transfer to the 7 Subway subway for continued service to Manhattan. On the LIRR’s other branches, there will be no westbound service between Jamaica and Penn Station. Customers will be able to transfer to the E Subway subway for continuing service to Penn Station. New York City Transit will cross-honor LIRR tickets at Woodside and Jamaica. (LIRR- posted 3/24)

    CN AND TFI INTERNATIONAL RENEW INTERMODAL AGREEMENTl CN and TFI International, Inc. (formerly TransForce Inc.) today announced a renewed collaboration to grow domestic intermodal business in markets across Canada. The renewed long-term partnership aligns Canada's largest railroad, with its transcontinental rail network that reaches the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and Canada's largest trucking company and logistics leader, with a range of services, including truckload, less-than-truckload and package and courier. "Over the last five years, TFI International has grown its operating divisions' presence in the domestic intermodal market and its companies have a combined 100 years of collaboration with CN," said JJ Ruest, CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer. "We believe our expanding partnership will help both our organizations provide more consistent, reliable service for our shared and growing customer base." Said Alain Bédard, TFI International Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, "We are very pleased to have this productive partnership in place with a superior supply chain partner which will ensure best-in-class service for our valued customers. This agreement is in line with TFI's stated objective to grow its intermodal presence in Canada." (CN- posted 3/24)

    AMTRAK OFFERS MORE ACELA EXPRESS SERVICE: Weekend Amtrak travelers will soon have more high-speed options for Northeast Corridor (NEC) service between Boston and New York City, as Amtrak expands its popular Acela Express service between the two cities, with an additional round trip on Sunday. Schedules will also be adjusted to add more departures Saturday morning and Sunday evening when customers have requested more service. These changes will go into effect April 8, 2017. Tickets are now available at Amtrak.com , the Amtrak mobile apps or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. With these schedule changes, Amtrak is responding to customer feedback to provide more options for customers traveling the busy NEC. “Acela Express has long been the preferred premium choice for travelers between Washington, New York and Boston,” said Mark Yachmetz, Amtrak Vice President of NEC Business Development. “Our responsibility is to listen to our customers and continually improve our product to make sure Amtrak is always recognized as a smarter way to travel.” In an effort to meet the increasing demand for high-speed rail service and provide additional capacity on the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak contracted with Alstom to produce 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets that will eventually replace the existing Acela Express equipment. (Amtrak - posted 3/23)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S 2016 ANNUAL REPORT: Norfolk Southern today posted its 2016 Annual Report online, highlighting success at achieving first-year goals in the railroad's five-year strategic plan to streamline operations, drive profitability and growth, and enhance shareholder value. In the report, titled "Delivering On Our Commitments," CEO Jim Squires tells shareholders that the company finished the year "a stronger, faster, lower-cost, and more profitable railroad." Through the continued successful execution of its strategic plan, Norfolk Southern met or exceeded the company's targets to lower operating costs and increase profitability while improving customer service, "putting us well on our way to achieving our 2020 goals," Squires said. For the year, the company:
    • Achieved an all-time best operating ratio of 68.9 percent;
    • Reduced expenses in all areas of operations to generate savings of $250 million, surpassing a targeted $130 million;
    • Increased income from railway operations and net income by 7 percent each, driven by an 11 percent decrease in operating costs;
    • Produced year-over-year earnings per share growth of 10 percent; and
    • Rationalized 1,000 miles of secondary rail lines.
    While exercising disciplined cost control, the company invested in strategic capital projects "to ensure safe and efficient operations and promote growth," Squires noted. In addition, efforts to improve locomotive fuel-efficiency, reliability, and emissions reduction continued as a cornerstone of the company's sustainability and business strategy, he said. Amid shifting markets and industry dynamics, Squires said, the company is "more focused than ever on services that will help convert freight from highway to rail." To drive growth, the company is working on customer-service initiatives that range from modernizing its e-commerce platforms to developing shared performance indicators to measure service. Squires notes that the railroad's management team began a structured dialogue with key customers and is using their input to improve operating efficiencies and deliver a superior service product. "We are changing the way we do business in order to meet and exceed our customers' expectations and to drive superior value creation for shareholders," Squires said. (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/22)

    WORK TO START ON FIRST THREE STATIONS IN $72 MILLION STATION MODERNIZATION PROJECT: Work is beginning this month on the first group of stations that are part of the ongoing Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI) to create new and dramatically improved subway stations throughout New York. The R Subway line stations, along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, will close in both directions for renovations using a single-contractor design-build method to cut construction time and save money. The awarding of the $72.1 million contract to Citnalta-Forte Joint Venture in late 2016 started the clock on the extensive renovations planned for the Prospect Av, Bay Ridge Av and 53 St R Subway stations. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has directed the MTA to use design-build procurement for these renovations, the first time that NYC Transit is using this method for delivering construction projects. Previously NYC Transit made station component repairs using a piecemeal method that allowed limited service at affected stations but stretched the construction timeline, often to several years. The process and success of using these new innovative construction methods will inform future projects planned for Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. “These first three stations to be renovated represent the start of a new age for our subway system. By using the design-build method, we are putting the onus on one contractor to get the work done seamlessly and on time,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “The emphasis is on giving them complete access to the stations and the ability to get in, get done and get out as quickly as possible. We specifically sought out companies that have worldwide experience with building infrastructure and transportation projects, and we expect them to put the best industry practices to use here.” For the station modernization project, the MTA worked with consultants Grimshaw Architects to study and revise existing design guidelines for stations and facilities, with a focus on identifying ways to improve their appearance, usage, wayfinding and the flow of foot traffic. These revised guidelines will change the way that subway stations look and feel going forward and establish the new look of subway stations, influencing station design long after this major renovation project is complete. Stations will be closed for construction for six months each. The 53 St Station will close for service in both directions on March 27; the Bay Ridge Av station is scheduled to close on April 29 for six months; and the Prospect Av station is scheduled to close on June 5 for six months. During the closures, customers for all three affected stations are encouraged to use nearby subway stations, the B37 bus route or the B63 route, which run on Third and Fifth avenues run parallel to the R Subway line in the area. These three stations on the R Subway line opened in 1915 as part of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation and will require major demolition work before extensive renovations can begin. In advance of station closures, customers may see necessary preparation work on the street level near stations or at station exits. The renovations for all three stations include infrastructure work such as concrete and steel repairs; new platform edges; waterproofing; upgraded electrical and communications systems; track wall and platform wall repairs; new granite flooring; new stair finishes; glass barriers in station mezzanines; new LED lighting; and improved station signage.
    • Station entrances: All entrances will be refurbished and receive new handrails, stair treads, wall tiles, totems and digital screens providing real-time service information at the street level before customers enter the station. Canopies will be installed at select key entrances.
    • Turnstile areas: Walls and ceilings will be repaired, and new granite flooring, informational dashboards and glass barriers will be installed.
    • Mezzanines and platforms: LED light fixtures for brighter, more secure areas will be installed, along with security cameras and Help Points. Digital screens for real-time arrival information, updated service information and advertising will be installed. Customer amenities include new station art; electronics charging stations built into station furnishings; new platform edges, and new benches and leaning bars.
    Once all stations are renovated, they will have Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, intuitive wayfinding, and top-to-bottom renovations of every station component that customers see or use on their daily commutes. Closures of each station are limited to six months at a time, and renovations for all stations in the project are expected to be complete by 2020. The station modernization project is part of the Governor’s robust package of enhancements and capital investments to improve the reliability, capacity and reputation of the subway system. The MTA has continued to move forward with the renovation project and expects to soon issue an RFP for the second group of stations that include the Broadway, 30 Av, 36 Av, and 39 Av stations on the Astoria-Ditmars Blvd line in Queens. High-resolution renderings of the station renovations are available here (MTA - posted 3/22)

    AAR WEEKLY TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 18, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 495,281 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending March 18 were 246,465 carloads, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 248,816 containers and trailers, up 0.3 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 18.9 percent to 77,123 carloads; grain, up 8.1 percent to 23,243 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 3.3 percent to 33,255 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included motor vehicles and parts, down 13.8 percent to 16,621 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 9.3 percent to 9,655 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, down 5.9 percent to 9,237 carloads. For the first 11 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,803,485 carloads, up 4.9 percent from the same point last year; and 2,854,161 intermodal units, up 0.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 11 weeks of 2017 was 5,657,646 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.5 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending March 18, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 345,292 carloads, up 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 319,052 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 664,344 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 11 weeks of 2017 was 7,478,833 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 81,651 carloads for the week, up 12.4 percent, and 60,051 intermodal units, up 11.4 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 11 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,531,393 carloads, containers and trailers, up 7.9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,176 carloads for the week, up 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,185 intermodal units, up 1.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 11 weeks of 2017 was 289,794 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/22)

    NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES THE RETURN OF ‘MUSIC IN MOTION’ CONCERT SERIES : Back by popular demand, NJ TRANSIT announces the Music in Motion concert series is back in swing. Music in Motion is a community-based initiative that allows local musicians to perform in NJ TRANSIT station facilities. These performing artists are offering their talents while customers get a glimpse of the region’s up-and-coming talent as they traverse major stations and terminals. Performances are Monday thru Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Hoboken Terminal Waiting Room, Secaucus Junction Rotunda and Penn Station New York 7th Avenue Concourse. NJ TRANSIT customers can enjoy performers at various other stations throughout the season. Entertaining customers this spring-summer are: Karen Hardy, Chelsea Carlson, Sal Aversano, Joseph Frame, Jr., Amanda Rose Riley, Mike Oregano, Amy Beshara, Steve Gregoire, George Young, Kenny Cunningham, Frtiz Gunter, PrizeViolet, The Foxfires, as well as NJ TRANSIT’s own and commuter favorite, Garrad Perry. For more information on upcoming performances, please visit the official Music in Motion website: www.facebook.com/NJTRANSITMIM. Those who would like to audition for the upcoming 2017-2018 Music in Motion season, please e-mail music@njtransit.com. (NJT - posted 3/21)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN SAFETY TRAIN BEGINS 23 CITY TOUR TO EDUCATE FIRST RESPONDERS: Norfolk Southern’s safety train will stop in 23 cities during 2017 as part of its Operation Awareness & Response (OAR) program, which provides first responders with free training on how to respond to a railroad incident. The safety train kicks off March 21 in Hagerstown, Md., with three days of training at Norfolk Southern’s rail terminal. Additional stops include communities in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina. The full schedule is available at the OAR program website, JoinNSOAR.com. The OAR safety train is composed of a 2,000-horsepower; 273-ton locomotive painted in honor of emergency responders; two boxcars converted into 30-seat classrooms; four styles of tank cars: DOT-105, DOT-111, DOT-112, and DOT-117; and two 89-foot flatcars used to transport intermodal containers. Each four-hour training session includes classroom instruction and hands-on training inside a locomotive and on rail cars. The sessions are recommended for representatives of fire and law enforcement departments, emergency medical services and hazmat response teams, military and homeland security personnel, and railroad customers and suppliers. “We’re committed to moving all materials on our railroad safely,” said John Irwin, Norfolk Southern assistant vice president safety and environmental. “Important components of our safety culture include building relationships with first responders in the 22 states where NS operates and providing in-person educational opportunities like the OAR train.” NS is a 16-time national TRANSCAER Achievement Award winner. The award recognizes exceptional achievement in voluntary efforts by companies to help communities prepare for and safely respond to incidents involving transport of hazardous materials. During 2016 Norfolk Southern provided training for about 5,600 emergency responders, government officials, and others in 18 states. The training included classroom seminars, hands-on sessions with rolling stock, table-top simulations, full-scale drills, and exercises at training centers operated by NS and the Association of American Railroads. Norfolk Southern also was instrumental in developing the AskRail™ mobile app, which provides real time rail information to first responders. (Norfolk Southern - posted 3/20)

    MTA SEEKS TO ACCELERATE CANARSIE TUNNEL REHABILITATION AND STATION IMPROVEMENT, COMPLETING WORK IN 15 MONTHS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will seek board approval next week to award an expedited contract to accelerate the rehabilitation of the L Subway train’s Canarsie Tunnel under the East River by three months, improve two stations, and build a substation that will allow more trains to run on the L Subway Line, increasing capacity. The contract award calls for the tunnel work to be completed in 15 months, three months shorter than the previously discussed 18 months. The $477 million contract, to be awarded to a joint venture consisting of Judlau Contracting Inc. and TC Electric, also adds $15 million in incentives to complete the tunnel project in 15 months. Contractual provisions were included to expedite demolition, encourage acceleration of the tunnel work, deter delays, enable traffic mitigation work, and the testing and commissioning of systems. Consistent with NYC Transit’s objectives to expedite critical capital projects and improve customer service, NYC Transit will also implement procedures to ensure that the project advances in a fast-tracked fashion similar to the expedited nature of Design Build projects. “The heavy damage sustained by the Canarsie Tunnel during Superstorm Sandy requires a full reconstruction in order to ensure the integrity of the tunnel and the safety of riders for generations to come,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “At the same time, we promised to do everything possible to mitigate the impact of this vital work on l line riders, and today, we’ve done just that, by shortening the tunnel closure from 18 months to 15 months.” The work under the contract will address the salt water damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in the tunnel to improve service and reliability for the riding public. The work in the tunnel will be completed during the closure of the tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan that is now planned to begin in April 2019. Work during the closure includes demolition and reconstruction of approximately 60,000 linear feet (LF) of duct banks, 14,400 LF of track and track bed, 270,000 LF of cable ducts and associated cables, repair of 7,000 LF of concrete lining, and the installation of tunnel lighting and fire systems. The tunnel will be also be protected from future storms with resiliency measures including construction of resilient cables and ducts and the installation of a new discharge line. Prior to the tunnel closure, extensive station work will be performed that will increase operational efficiency and improve accessibility and circulation. Station improvements at the 1 Av and Bedford Av L Subway stations will include new stairways, and four ADA-compliant elevators and other work to improve customer flow. Construction of a new Avenue B substation and other infrastructure will address power requirements that, combined with the existing CBTC signal system, will allow more trains to run on the line to accommodate growing ridership. 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. The Canarsie Tunnel suffered extensive damage to tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls throughout a 7,100-foot-long flooded section of both tubes. MTA New York City Transit has taken several steps to ensure the Canarsie Tunnel remains reliable until permanent repairs can be performed. The agency is inspecting the tunnel’s walls more frequently, and has installed redundant power cables to ensure the pumping system will operate without interruption. (MTA - posted 3/20)

    UNION PACIFIC IMPLORES PHOTOGRAPHERS: DO NO TAKE PICTURES ON OR NEAR RAILROAD TRACK: Continuing its outreach that launched nearly two years ago, Union Pacific implores photographers and the entire photography community to not take pictures on or near railroad tracks Union Pacific uses animated videos, promoted via multiple social media channels, to warn of the dangers related to taking photos on railroad property. One pair of videos compares the dangers of taking photos on tracks to posing for pictures on a busy highway. Another addresses pedestrian safety and the dangers of taking selfies on or near tracks. Railroad tracks are private property. Trespassing along railroad rights of way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, which reports more than 400 trespass fatalities occur each year. (Union Pacific - posted 3/20)

    SEPTA ANNOUNCES PROPOSED FARE INCREASE FOR FISCAL YEAR 2018: SEPTA today announced proposed fare changes for Fiscal Year 2018, including modest increases across all modes of travel and methods of payment. In keeping with the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Transportation Funding and Reform Commission, SEPTA has adopted a policy of making periodic fare adjustments, with increases in 2007, 2010 and 2013. This proposal represents the next regularly scheduled fare increase -- the 2016 increase was postponed to allow time for the initial rollout of the SEPTA Key. Fare revenues help fund SEPTA's Operating Budget, which provides for the everyday expenses of running the system, such as labor, fuel and power. Pending approval by the SEPTA Board, these proposed fare changes would go into effect at the start of Fiscal Year 2018 on July 1. This proposal builds on efforts implemented with the last increase to simplify the fare structure for customers as they switch to the SEPTA Key. For example, the new proposal removes "premium fares" on the Norristown High Speed Line and bus routes 123, 124, 125 and 150 -- making these permanent standard-fare rides. Below is a summary of changes to some of the most widely used fare payment methods. The full fare increase proposal and public hearing schedule is?posted online:
    • Cash Fare/Quick Trip: Increase from $2.25 to $2.50
    • Tokens/discounted single ride with Key: From $1.80 to $2
    • Transit Transfers would remain unchanged at $1
    • Disabled Fare: From $1 to $1.25
    • Paratransit/Shared Ride: $4 to $4.25
    • Weekly TransPass: From $24 to $25.50 (up to 56 trips for one customer)
    • Monthly TransPass: rom $91 to $96 (up to 240 trips for one customer)
    • Weekly TrailPasses: Currently $27.25-$53, depending on zone; proposed increase to $28.25-$55.75 (up to 56 trips for one customer)
    • Monthly TrailPasses: Currently $101-$191, depending on zone; proposed increase to $105-$204 (up to 240 trips for one customer)
    • Convenience Pass: From $8 to $9
    • Independence Pass: Individual - $12 to $13; Family - $29 to $30
    • Ten Trip Discounted Fares for Regional Rail: Currently $38-80 depending on zone; proposed increase to $40-$82.50. (Please note: Ten-Trip Tickets will be replaced upon implementation of the SEPTA Key)
    • Parking: Regional Rail surface lot daily parking fee would increase from $1 to $1.25 with implementation of the SEPTA Key. Surface lot monthly permits would increase from $20 to $25.
    SEPTA will hold public hearings regarding the proposed fare increase starting April 19. Two hearing sessions will be held in each of the five counties that make up SEPTA?s service region. Customers, residents, stakeholders and other members of the public are encouraged to attend, ask questions and submit comments. Please click here. for the full public hearing schedule. (SEPTA - posted 3/17)

    GLX RELEASES DRAFT REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL FOR DESIGN-BUILD CONTRACT: The MBTA Green Line Extension (GLX) Project Team has released a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for the GLX Design Build (DB) contract to the short-listed DB teams. The draft RFP includes an Affordability Limit of $1.319 billion, base scope of work, and “Additive Options,” should a firm believe the Options can be completed within the Project schedule and the Affordability Limit budget. “This draft RFP is a major step in the ongoing procurement process as we proceed towards building the Green Line Extension,” said Program Manager John Dalton. “This document reaffirms the primary objective of delivering the base scope of the program while also allowing for the inclusion of additive-scope options if the completive pricing received from the design-build teams will allow. The maximum price tag for the Green Line Extension Project has been set and supported by the Fiscal and Management Control Board and we will not go beyond this threshold. Teams hoping to participate in the GLX delivery effort must focus first on the core elements—seven stations and train service—before pricing out additional scope elements that would be welcome but not required to comply with the Project’s successful completion.” Six Additive Options are included within the draft RFP that the competing design-build firms may propose under the Affordability Limit. Options must be added in in the following prioritized order:
    • 1.Platform canopies.
    • 2.Additional elevators at select stations.
    • 3.Public art.
    • 4.Additional community connection to the community path located on Chester Street in Somerville.
    • 5.Extension of the community path between East Somerville and Lechmere Stations.
    • 6.Enhanced Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Somerville.
    The MBTA, in collaboration with stakeholders, established the prioritized list to meet its objectives of enhancing rider experience, community access, and operational improvements. Price proposals for the competing design-build firms are due in September 2017 and must not exceed the established Affordability Limit of $1.319 billion, which is a part of the overall GLX Program budget of $2.3 billion. Also included within the draft RFP are necessary weekend shutdowns of the Lowell and Fitchburg commuter rail lines for twenty-five weekends during each year of construction. These two lines share right-of-way areas with Green Line Extension Project locations. These shutdowns, during the forty-three months of scheduled construction, will be coordinated with non-GLX work whenever possible. The draft RFP also states that the MBTA has the ability to consider more extended shutdown periods if the contractor can provide appropriate cost and/or schedule savings for the Project. The final RFP will be issued in May 2017 after feedback is received from the design-build firms on the draft RFP. For more information on the Green Line Extension Project, please visit the Project’s webpage.. (MBTA - posted 3/17)

    AMTRAK PRESIDENT ISSUES STATEMENT CONCERNING PROPOSED FED BUDGET AND AMTRAK FUNDING: President Trump has proposed slashing Amtrak funding as part of the FY 2017 Budget Proposal. Word is that Amtrak might be able to obtain a mere $250 million in funding, which would allow it only to operate the Northeast Corridor and State subsidized trains. If this scenario becomes reality, Amtrak would be forced to eliminate all long distance trains. Amtrak President Wick Moorman issued a statement concerning President Trump's FY 2018 Budget Proposal and the correlating Federal Funds for Amtrak. The message, published in a Special Employee Advisory, stated: "Fellow Amtrak Employees, The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget summary just released proposes significant federal budget cuts for Amtrak.    Many, if not most, of you have read or heard those headlines, and are thinking: What does this mean for Amtrak, for us, for me? The answer is that we do not yet know. I have been an observer of Amtrak since its beginnings – and I want to share with you my perspective on this development. First, don’t be alarmed by these headlines. Every year, there is vigorous debate on what Congress should fund and what it should cut. These debates are long and hard, and they often result in a final outcome that is very different from the initial proposal, so let’s give this process some time. From what we understand, the Administration’s budget proposes to eliminate funding for Amtrak’s long-distance service, potentially impacting many of the 500 communities we serve.  Amtrak operates 15 long-distance trains across the nation and these routes offer the only Amtrak service in 23 of the 46 states we serve.  These trains connect our major regions, provide vital transportation to residents in rural communities, feed passengers and revenue to our Northeast and State-Supported Corridors, and provide a foundation of service for future growth.  By covering 94 percent of our network operating costs through ticket sales and other revenues in FY16, we’ve demonstrated that we are an efficient provider of these services – but Amtrak still requires Federal investment and funding to operate these trains and the rest of our network. As the budget process progresses, we will work with President Trump, Secretary Chao, and Congress to ensure that they understand the value of Amtrak’s Long-Distance services and what these proposed cuts would mean to this important part of the nation’s transportation system. Remember, this is just the beginning of the annual budget process, which will unfold over several months. Amtrak will have an opportunity to put forward our own budget request and make clear the value that we believe is generated by investing more – not less – in the services and infrastructure we provide.    In short: Let’s not get distracted by this news. Let’s stay focused on doing our jobs, and supporting all of our business lines and operations. Now more than ever, we need to work safely, provide a great customer experience, and operate as efficiently as possible. Thank you for all that you do for Amtrak." (Amtrak - posted 3/16)

    NRE WILL OVERHAUL SIX CONNDOT LOCOMOTIVES: Connecticut Department of Transportation has awarded National Railway Equipment with a five-year contract to overhaul six EMD GP40-2H diesel locomotives. These locomotive currently retain the New Haven livery and are assigned to Shore Line East commuter rail service. (Alex Mayes - posted 3/16)

    RAILROAD PROGRESS ON POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL IMPLEMENTATION: The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a status update today on railroads’ progress implementing positive train control (PTC) systems in the fourth quarter of 2016. The status update, based on railroad-submitted quarterly data, shows freight railroads continue to make consistent progress while passenger industry progress in installing and activating the life-saving technology only slightly increased. The latest data, current as of December 31, 2016, confirms freight railroads now have PTC active on just 16 percent of tracks required to be equipped with PTC systems—up from 12 percent last quarter. Passenger railroads made less progress—with a slight increase to 24 percent from 23 percent. Due in large part to Amtrak’s significant progress on PTC, 41 percent of passenger railroads’ locomotives are now fully equipped with PTC technology, compared to 29 percent the previous quarter. Freight railroads’ percentage of locomotives fully equipped with PTC technology rose to 42 percent, up from 38 percent. “We continue to closely monitor railroads’ progress implementing Positive Train Control,” said Patrick Warren, FRA Executive Director. “With less than two years remaining to complete the implementation process, it is imperative that railroads continue to meet implementation milestones.” PTC systems are designed to prevent certain train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and trains going to the wrong tracks because a switch was left in the wrong position. Congress requires Class I railroads and entities providing regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation to implement PTC systems by December 31, 2018. Only if some key implementation and installation milestones are met may railroads be eligible to obtain a limited extension to complete certain non-hardware, operational aspects of PTC system implementation no later than December 31, 2020, subject to the Secretary of Transportation's approval. The fourth quarter status update includes railroad-by-railroad quarterly data on track segments completed, locomotives equipped, employees trained, radio towers installed, route miles in PTC operation, and other key implementation data. See the infographics below. Since 2008, when Congress first mandated PTC system implementation on certain railroad main lines, FRA has provided significant assistance to support railroads’ PTC system implementation. Those efforts include:
    • Providing more than $716 million in grants to support railroads’ implementation of PTC systems, including nearly $400 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding and $25 million in fiscal year 2016 Railroad Safety Technology Program funding;
    • Issuing a nearly $1 billion loan to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority to implement PTC systems on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad;
    • Announcing the availability of $199 million in grants to commuter railroads and state and local governments in fiscal year 2017 for PTC system implementation;
    • Building a PTC testbed at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado;
    • Working directly with the Federal Communications Commission and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to improve the approval process for PTC communication towers; and
    • Dedicating staff to work on PTC implementation, including establishing a PTC task force.
    To view the interactive graphic of freight and passenger railroads’ overall PTC implementation progress, visit www.fra.dot.gov/app/ptcsummary/. (FRA - posted 3/15)

    AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 11, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 11, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 510,638 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending March 11 were 253,664 carloads, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 256,974 containers and trailers, up 4.5 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 11.9 percent to 79,646 carloads; grain, up 10.9 percent to 24,248 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 10.3 percent to 35,069 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.6 percent to 9,344 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 8.5 percent to 18,390 carloads; and forest products, down 5.1 percent to 9,789 carloads. For the first 10 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,557,020 carloads, up 4.9 percent from the same point last year; and 2,605,345 intermodal units, up 0.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 10 weeks of 2017 was 5,162,365 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.5 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending March 11, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 347,055 carloads, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 324,615 intermodal units, up 3.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 671,670 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 10 weeks of 2017 was 6,808,375 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 77,024 carloads for the week, up 9 percent, and 57,958 intermodal units, up 3 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 10 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,389,691 carloads, containers and trailers, up 7.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,367 carloads for the week, up 8.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,683 intermodal units, down 4.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 10 weeks of 2017 was 256,319 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 5.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/15)

    SCHNEIDER AND CSX TRANSPORTATION AGREE ON NEW RAIL CONTRACT: Schneider, a premier provider of transportation, intermodal and logistics services, announced today that it has agreed to a new multiyear agreement with CSX Transportation under which the railroad will continue to serve as one of Schneider’s primary rail providers. The agreement sustains the ability for Schneider to serve the Eastern United States as the demand for intermodal transportation increases. “Renewing our relationship with CSX allows us to continue providing the exceptional service that our customers expect from Schneider Intermodal,” said Jim Filter, senior vice president and general manager of Schneider Intermodal. “By combining the expertise of one of the country’s largest intermodal providers and one of the country’s major railroads, Schneider has been able to provide creative solutions to more efficiently move intermodal freight with truck-like service.” CSX became Schneider’s primary Eastern rail provider in 2008. Since then, the organizations have continued to enhance their performance to deliver “truck-like” service to shippers. The agreement provides Schneider customers with capacity and operational interfaces that are designed to increase accessibility and efficiency of rail moves. Additionally, capital investments that CSX has made in projects such as the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal have improved its infrastructure and facilitated expanded service offerings to the most Eastern origins and destinations. “We believe intermodal is a critical solution for supply chain optimization as it provides shippers with access to scalable capacity and sustainable savings,” said Dean Piacente, vice president-intermodal of CSX Transportation. “There is significant opportunity to optimize modal selection and convert freight from highway to rail in the Eastern U.S. CSX continues to invest in the intermodal growth opportunity, and we are excited to extend our relationship with Schneider as they truly are a premier intermodal provider. CSX and Schneider share a strong commitment to safety and customer service and to enhancing supply chain solutions for shippers. Renewing our relationship with Schneider is one of the many driving forces behind our Service Excellence initiative within the CSX of Tomorrow strategy.” (Schneider National - posted 3/14)

    NJ TRANSIT INCREASING SERVICE FOLLOWING WINTER STORM: As road conditions improve following today’s storm, NJ TRANSIT anticipates increasing service levels across Bus, Rail, Light Rail and Access Link for Wednesday March 15th. Customers are strongly advised to check the status of the system on njtransit.com prior to making their trip, particularly bus and Access Link customers. Bus will resume regular service south of Route 195 for Wednesday March 15th. Bus service north of Route 195 may experience delays and detours due to local road conditions. Access Link will resume regular service in Region 3 (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and South Ocean) effective 4 a.m. on Wednesday. All other Access Link regions will resume service at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Please note: Access Link will not provide transfer or certification trips on Wednesday. Rail service will operate on a President’s Day schedule on Wednesday. President’s Day service is more robust than a weekend schedule, with additional service on some lines including service west of Dover on the M&E and west of Bay St. on the Montclair-Boonton Line. However, trains do not operate out of Jersey Avenue on the Northeast Corridor or west of Raritan and Lake Hopatcong. Please Note: The Atlantic City Rail Line will continue to operate on a regular weekday schedule. Metro-North west of Hudson service, operated by NJ TRANSIT, on the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines will operate on a President’s Day schedule. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Newark Light Rail and RiverLINE will all operate on regular weekday schedules. (NJT - posted 3/14)

    RAIL CARS ARRIVE AT K+S POTASH CANADA'S LEGACY PROJECT: Today K+S Potash Canada GP (KSPC) celebrates the arrival of the first 177 of 531 custom built rail cars at its Legacy Project mine site— enough to complete one of three trains that will transport KSPC's product to its potash handling and storage facility in Port Moody, B.C. "The arrival of these rail cars demonstrates how close we are to production, which is expected to begin in the second quarter this year," said Dr. Ulrich Lamp, KSPC President and Chief Executive Officer. "To see them here, branded with our company name and ready to carry our first marketable product, is really exciting." The rail cars will travel along 30 km of Canadian Pacific's (CP) recently constructed Belle Plaine subdivision, which connects CP's main line at Belle Plaine, SK to 14 km of newly constructed industrial rail line which is owned and will be operated by KSPC. "Canadian Pacific is proud to see this important project move towards completion," said Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer. "The construction of the Belle Plaine subdivision is the largest single rail infrastructure project in CP's recent history and we are thrilled to be the exclusive rail provider to Saskatchewan's first potash mine in more than 40 years, providing the most modern rail infrastructure of all of the Saskatchewan potash mines." The rail cars were designed by National Steel Car and feature industry-leading design suitable for the Legacy Project's state-of-the-art facility. They can be loaded with product while in motion, and have the capacity to hold the same volume as a regular rail car, while being slightly shorter in length, thereby optimizing timely and efficient delivery of product. According to Steffen Brill, KSPC Senior Manager, Logistics and Transportation, 531 rail cars will be sufficient to meet initial requirements for weekly transportation to Port Moody, but additional cars will be required as production starts to ramp up later in the year. "Once the trains arrive at our facility in Port Moody, they will be unloaded by automatic conveyor to our warehouse or directly onto a ship at one of the world's most modern potash handling facilities," said Brill. "From there, they'll be shipped to regions worldwide." Part of the rail fleet will also be used to transport product to the U.S. All sales and distribution of KSPC's potash will be carried out through the K+S Group's experienced and well-established global distribution structures.- (CP- posted 3/13)

    MTA SUSPENDS ALL ABOVE GROUND SUBWAY TRAIN SERVICE DUE TO WINTER STORM STELLA: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency across all 62 counties in New York ahead of the extreme winter storm expected to bring heavy snowfall and high winds. The Governor also directed non-essential state employees impacted by the winter storm to stay home from work on Tuesday without having to charge accruals. At the Governor’s direction, MTA express subway service will be suspended after the rush hour Monday night in order to store trains underground on those tracks. Beginning at 4 a.m. Tuesday, above-ground service on the subway will also be suspended. Commuters traveling on New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Metro North are encouraged to stay home tomorrow, if possible, as additional service changes are expected. As the state continues to prepare for the storm, New Yorkers should exercise caution, avoid unnecessary travel and pay close attention to winter storm advisories as the day progresses. (MTA - posted 3/13)

    NJ TRANSIT SERVICE IMPACTS DUE TO EXPECTED SNOW ON MARCH 14 : Out of an abundance of caution and safety, NJ TRANSIT is making service changes for Tuesday, March 14th due to the forecasted severe winter weather expected to hit the region. NJ TRANSIT encourages all customers to prepare their transportation needs in advance of the storm, if they must travel. All Bus and Access Link service will begin shutting down at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning. Customers should expect those services to remain suspended for the duration of Tuesday’s service day. Service is anticipated to resume on Wednesday as weather and road conditions allow. All but one rail line will operate on a weekend schedule on Tuesday for as long as weather conditions allow trains to operate safely. Customers should be aware that weekend rail service does not extend west of Raritan on the Raritan Valley Line, west of Dover on the M&E Line or west of Bay Street on the Montclair-Boonton Line. Please Note: The Atlantic City Rail Line will operate on a regular weekday schedule. Pascack Valley Line trains will add Teterboro and Woodcliff Lakes stops and Train 2125 will operate as a local making all station stops. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will operate on a weekend schedule with the addition of service, operating every 20 minutes, between Tonnelle Ave. and Hoboken Terminal. Newark Light Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule. RiverLINE service will operate on a Sunday schedule. Systemwide Cross-Honoring in Effect: To give customers additional travel options – if they must travel – during expected winter weather conditions, NJ TRANSIT will offer full systemwide cross-honoring, enabling customers to use their ticket or pass on an alternate travel mode—rail, light rail, PATH or ferry. As a reminder, on Tuesday, March 14th all bus service will be suspended. For example, customers who normally take the bus from Rutherford to the Port Authority Bus Terminal may use their bus pass or ticket on the train from Rutherford to New York Penn Station. Similarly, customers who normally take the bus between Atlantic City and Lindenwold may use the Atlantic City Rail Line instead at no additional charge. NY Waterway and Billybey ferries will accept NJ TRANSIT tickets and passes. All customers are strongly advised to check njtransit.com before traveling for up-to-the-minute service information before starting their trip. NJ TRANSIT will have a special winter storm section on the homepage of its website. NJ TRANSIT will continue to monitor the weather conditions and impacts to services as the storm progresses. For the latest travel information, customers should visit njtransit.com, access NJ TRANSIT’s Twitter feed at @NJTRANSIT or listen to broadcast traffic reports. Additionally, NJ TRANSIT will provide the most current service information via the My Transit alert system (www.njtransit.com/mytransit), which delivers travel advisories for your specific trip to your smartphone. Service information is also available by calling (973) 275-5555. Rail and light rail crews and equipment are on standby to quickly respond to downed trees, power outages or other issues that may arise. In addition, NJ TRANSIT will be positioning locomotives at strategic locations across the rail system to rapidly respond in the event of a disabled train. NJ TRANSIT’s employee Emergency Response Team will be at Newark Penn Station, Secaucus Transfer and Penn Station New York to assist customers who must travel on Tuesday. (NJ Transit - posted 3/13)

    AMTRAK MODIFIES NEC SCHEDULE ON TUESDAY DUE TO WINTER STORM STELLA: Amtrak will operate a modified schedule in the Northeast region on Tuesday, March 14 due to a winter storm. Passengers holding reservations are strongly encouraged to monitor conditions and make any necessary changes in advance of their scheduled departure using Amtrak.com or our mobile apps to check their train status. On March 14, there will be no Acela Express service between New York City and Boston, and there will be modified Acela Express service between New York City and Washington, D.C. In addition, the Northeast Regional service that operates between Boston and Washington, D.C., will run on a modified schedule, with some trains truncated or cancelled, including some trains that operate in Virginia. The Empire Service, Shuttle and Downeaster Service will also run on a modified schedule, with some trains truncated or cancelled. The Keystone Service will operate on a severe weather schedule. Some long distance trains that normally travel to and from the Northeast Corridor will also be affected, with service suspended between Albany/Rensselaer and Boston, and between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. Passengers should allow extra time to get to the station and be extremely careful with possible slippery conditions in stations, on platforms and in the doorways of trains. Changes to these schedules or announcements about other service changes will be made as far in advance as possible and posted on our Service Alerts and Notices page at Amtrak.com/alerts. Short-notice alerts are also displayed at the top of the Amtrak.com homepage. Amtrak's top priority is the safety of our passengers, employees and the traveling public. Amtrak engineering, operations and mechanical crews are actively monitoring the latest forecasts to ensure safe and efficient operation of the railroad, with preparations such as personnel and equipment positioning to quickly respond to potential problems and to resolve issues.(Amtrak - posted 3/13)

    SEPTA ANNOUNCES PLAN TO WINTER STORM STELLA: SEPTA is urging customers to plan ahead, and if possible, avoid unnecessary travel as Winter Storm Stella moves into the region late Monday evening/early Tuesday morning. Forecasts are predicting 8-12 inches of heavy, wet snow and high wind gusts that will impact SEPTA services on all modes of travel throughout the transit system on Tuesday, March 14. SEPTA will continually monitor the storm and make service adjustments as needed to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. Below is a summary of some of the issues SEPTA may face, and steps being taken to maintain service and keep customers informed of possible disruptions: Proactive Measures & Additional Staffing: SEPTA will have additional personnel on-hand as of 11 p.m. Monday at the SEPTA Headquarters Command Center, and also in the field to monitor conditions. Personnel at bus depots and rail yards will take measures to address vehicle equipment concerns that come with this kind of weather. Track inspectors and maintenance crews, as well as signal maintainers and power crews, will be staged at various locations throughout the system to be available to quickly address issues. By deploying extra staff, SEPTA will be in the best possible position to quickly identify problems and take corrective action to minimize the impact to our riders. Crews will also run pilot vehicles on all trolley routes, the Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) and Regional Rail lines over night to keep the lines clear and ready for morning service. SEPTA has tools at its disposal to battle the winter weather, such as high-velocity snow blowers and brining equipment, aimed at combating snowy and icy conditions. This equipment will play a key role in the Authority's efforts to minimize disruptions to customers resulting from winter weather events. In addition, SEPTA has taken preventive efforts to prepare its revenue fleet of over 2,700 buses and trains. Air systems and doors on all vehicles are aggressively serviced, and additional traction motors are placed into inventory to reduce down time. Winter weather snow plans are also developed to identify critical system infrastructure areas that require deployment of personnel and equipment. Twenty-Four Hour Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line Service: Similar to weekends, 24-hour weekend train service will be in operation on the Market Frankford and Broad Street Lines - SEPTA's two busiest routes. There will be no overnight Nite Owl bus service; trains will operate every 20 minutes, all-night. This keeps additional buses off potentially hazardous roads, and helps with efforts to continue service on these vital transit arteries. The Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines will be the best modes of transit for those needing to travel throughout Philadelphia. Regional Rail to Operate on Severe Storm Service Plan: On Tuesday, March 14, SEPTA will activate its Regional Rail Severe Storm Service Plan. Lines will operate on a Saturday schedule with the exception of the following:
    • The Wilmington/Newark Line will run on an enhanced Saturday schedule, with service to Newark and Churchmans Crossing Stations.
    • Cynwyd Line service will not operate.
    It is anticipated that service could experience significant delays and possible cancellations. Customers are urged to register for Twitter updates for their specific Regional Rail Line. Details are available here. Drifting Snow Could Impact Norristown High Speed Line: The NHSL will operate every 20 minutes; however, potentially high winds can cause snow drifts along the line. NHSL passengers should monitor SEPTA's website and Twitter alerts for possible service delays or service suspension. Historically Affected Bus Routes to be Detoured at 4 a.m. (Earlier if Conditions Warrant): SEPTA will cut back and possibly suspend bus service along routes that are historically impacted by storms, such as hilly areas or on tight streets: Routes 7, 9, 14, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 38, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 53, 55, 57, 58, 65,70, 73, 77, 84, 88, 92, 94, 95, 97, 99, 103, 107, 108, 112, 114, 117, 119, 120, 124, 126, G, H, XH, J, K, and L. Routes 35, 61, 62, 93 and 112 will be suspended. Additional bus routes could be detoured or suspended if road conditions deteriorate. Bus detours will be posted online here. Look for the storm cloud icon for weather-affected routes. Heavy Snow Could Impact Trolleys: Customers using SEPTA Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 15, 34 and 36, and the Media/Sharon Hill Line (Routes 101/102) should anticipate significant delays and possible service cancellations, due to street conditions and cars parked too close to the rails. Customized Community Transportation (CCT) to Operate Limited Schedule: Service will be available for dialysis and other urgent, critically-needed medical treatments and essential work personnel only on Tuesday, March 14. Customers should anticipate delays due accumulated snow and icy conditions on streets and sidewalks. Impassable streets and/or sidewalks not cleared of accumulated snow and ice may prevent safe boarding and transport. Customers should contact the Control Center at (215) 580-7720 to cancel trips if they don't plan to ride. Customers should call CCT Customer Service at (215) 580-7145 for all other inquiries. The SEPTA Customer Service Call Center will open at 6 a.m., and will be staffed with extra personnel. Customers can call (215) 580-7800 to speak to SEPTA representatives. The SEPTA Social Media Team (@SEPTA_Social) will also be available to answer inquiries via Twitter starting at 5 a.m. Service updates will be posted at www.septa.org. (SEPTA - posted 3/13)

    NS OPERATIONS WILL BE EFFECTED BY WINTER STORM STELLA: As winter Storm Stella progresses across the Northeast in the next 24-48 hours, heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions are expected to impede train movement and working conditions, particularly in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York areas. Norfolk Southern is taking every precaution to prepare infrastructure and assets to minimize down time and delays. Customers should expect delays of 24-48 hours on traffic moving through these areas. (NS - posted 3/13)

    AMTRAK EMPIRE REGION SECOND TRACK PROGRESS: On March 7, the second track was placed in service between CP 145 (just west of the Hudson River Bridge in Albany, NY) and CP 149 (Lincoln Ave., Colonie, NY). 6.7 miles of single track remains between Albany and Schenectady. Work is ongoing to complete this project. (Andy Kirk - posted 3/10)

    TIMOTHY TIERNEY NAMED PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF CONRAIL: Conrail announced today that its board of directors has named Timothy Tierney president and chief operating officer, effective April 1. Tierney succeeds Ronald Batory, who is retiring after nearly 46 years in the railroad industry. A 39-year veteran of Conrail, Tierney most recently served as vice president and chief engineer, managing all of the company's engineering functions. Tierney assumed responsibility for locomotive assets, mechanical policy, and planning in 2002. Prior to this role, Tierney worked in various positions of increasing responsibility within the engineering department, including division engineer of the Buffalo, Albany, and Philadelphia divisions. Between 1996 and 1999, he worked assignments at Philadelphia headquarters, culminating as chief engineer – system during the planning, transition, and implementation of the Conrail acquisition by CSX and Norfolk Southern. Following that transaction, Tierney played a critical role managing capital expenditures and overseeing the design, development, and project management of infrastructure projects. "Tim Tierney has served Conrail with distinction and proven himself to be a successful, trusted leader with an exceptional commitment to hard work and safety," Batory said. "Tim brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the rail industry and will continue to accelerate Conrail's commitment to providing safe, efficient service." Batory joined Conrail in 1998 as vice president - operations, and was appointed president and chief operating officer in 2004. Jim Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO, said, "Norfolk Southern greatly appreciates Ron's leadership over the past 19 years and his more than four decades as a dedicated railroader. We wish him the best in a well-deserved retirement." CSX Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn served on the Conrail board of directors and worked closely with Batory for several years. "All of us at CSX have great respect for Ron's railroad experience and his continuous focus on teamwork," Sanborn said. "We wish him a happy retirement." Prior to Conrail, Batory served as president of The Belt Railway Company of Chicago. He spent more than 20 years working for both eastern and western Class I railroads in addition to assisting a court-appointed trustee's successful oversight of a regional railroad bankruptcy. (Conrail - posted 3/09)

    BRISK WINDS CAUSES A CSX INTERMODAL TRAIN TO DERAIL: On Wednesday afternoon CSX intermodal train Q018 derailed in Batavia, N.Y. due to high wind gusts. During the afternoon wind gusts of up to 81 miles per hour were reported at the nearby Greater Rochester Internation Airport. Also, on Wednesday crews were still clearing the Q409 derailment, along the River Subdivision, in Newburgh, N.Y. Three locomotives and 17 freight cars had derailed when the train hit a forklift that was wedged into the tracks. Due to the derailment, two CSX intermodal trains detoured via the NYS&W.

    CSX FREIGHT COLLIDES WITH BUS IN MISSISSIPPI: At approximately 2:10 p.m. on March 7 a CSX freight train collided with a charter bus at the Main Street grade crossing in Biloxi, Mississippi. Four people were killed in the collission. The bus was carrying 50 to 60 people, en route from Austin, Texas to casinos in Biloxi. (Randy Kotuby - posted 3/08)

    AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 4, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 4, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 521,607 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending March 4 were 262,743 carloads, up 6.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 258,864 containers and trailers, down 2.3 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 18.7 percent to 85,183 carloads; grain, up 7.5 percent to 23,991 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 7.3 percent to 10,635 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 8.3 percent to 9,864 carloads; chemicals, down 2.7 percent to 32,057 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 1.6 percent to 18,593 carloads. For the first 9 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,303,356 carloads, up 5 percent from the same point last year; and 2,348,371 intermodal units, down 0.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 9 weeks of 2017 was 4,651,727 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending March 4, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 359,372 carloads, up 7.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 330,483 intermodal units, down 1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 689,855 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 9 weeks of 2017 was 6,136,705 carloads and intermodal units, up 3 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 80,555 carloads for the week, up 12.8 percent, and 60,691 intermodal units, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 9 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,254,709 carloads, containers and trailers, up 7.7 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,074 carloads for the week, down 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,928 intermodal units, up 0.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 9 weeks of 2017 was 230,269 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 6.1 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/08)



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