` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine







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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIP RAIL ACQUIRED BY ALPENGOW RAIL, LLC: Alpenglow Rail LLC ("Alpenglow Rail"), a Denver-based freight rail company focused on short line rail businesses and related transportation assets, today announced the completion of its acquisition of VIP Rail LLC ("VIP Rail"). The transaction is the first for Alpenglow Rail, which is backed by private equity firm Stonecourt Capital. VIP Rail is a short line rail business located in Sarnia, Ontario's chemical valley, with strategic access to key U.S. populations and major Quebec and Ontario markets including Toronto and Montreal. The business' service offerings include switching, transloading, railcar storage, railcar inspection, cleaning, and repair, warehousing and trucking. "I am excited about the opportunity to bring VIP Rail to the next level by leveraging Alpenglow's growth expertise," said Jon McEachran, President of VIP Rail. "VIP Rail has been approached by many companies over the years, but we felt Alpenglow was uniquely suited to be both creative on this complicated transaction and an excellent partner in the growth of the company." Rich Montgomery, CEO at Alpenglow, commented "We are pleased to partner with Jon and the team at VIP Rail to continue to build on their excellent customer service and innovative solutions. The strategic placement of their assets and the tremendous growth opportunity for the business made this a natural platform investment for Alpenglow Rail." "We are thrilled to have completed this platform transaction," said Jaime Buehl-Reichard, Co-Founder and Partner at Stonecourt Capital. "Together with the Alpenglow Rail team, we are excited to build on the opportunities we see in the freight rail industry." Founded by a team of seasoned railroad executives with extensive experience in the operations, development and growth of North American short line railroads, Alpenglow Rail is actively seeking acquisitions of and partnerships with short line railroads and related transportation businesses. (Alpenglow- posted 7/12)

FIRST FALL FOLIAGE TRIPS SCHEDULED FROM OUTER STATION: For the first time in Reading & Northern Railroad history, we will operate Fall Foliage trains starting in the Reading, PA area. These trips will originate at our recently opened Reading Outer Station. The trains will run north over our Main Line picking up more people at our railroad station in Port Clinton before heading our destination in Jim Thorpe. There will be a record 9 trips this season. The trains on Oct 1, 21, 22, 28, 29 will be diesel. Standard seating will be $39 per person. Options for our more exclusive Pullman Car or FirstClass Parlor Car will also be available. Food is included with the price of all seatings. Three of the trips will be powered by our 425 Steam Engine. Those trips are Oct. 7, 8, 15. For those trips standard seating will be $69. The premium seating will also be available for those trains and food is again included in the price. All trains leave Outer Station at 9am and stop at Port Clinton at 10am. The trains will arrive in Jim Thorpe by 12:15pm and depart for return trip at 3:30pm. Trains will be back in Outer Station by 6:30pm. In addition, on October 14th we will be running a Railfan Steam Special, which will only pick people up at Outer Station. This train will also go to Jim Thorpe but it will offer railfans the opportunity to ride behind the steam locomotive in an open gondola car for $125 per ticket. Standard coach seating will be $99. There will be no auxiliary tender or diesel assist that day, just the 425 powering the train. This train will run on the same schedule but does not stop at Port Clinton. All of the trains will follow the Schuylkill/Little Schuylkill Rivers north through farmland, then through Tamaqua and the tip of the anthracite coal region going through the Tamaqua Tunnel and over the 168 foot tall Hometown High Bridge before passing Lakes Greenwood and Hauto, (Coordinated Bargaining Group, Randy Kotuby - posted 7/11) before arriving in historic downtown Jim Thorpe. There will be up to 3 hours of time to spend in Jim Thorpe. All the downtown attractions will be open along with the Jim Thorpe Fall Festival next to the train station on the first 3 weekends of October. People taking the RBMN Fall Foliage train would have the chance to take the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway 45 minute trips at 1pm or 2pm into the Lehigh Gorge State park to see more fall foliage. More information to plan the day in Jim Thorpe can be found at www.jimthorpe.org. All cars will be heated in cool weather. Clean men’s and ladies restrooms are on the train. All tickets must be purchased in advance of the trip. No ticket sales are made the day of the trip. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Passenger Department Offices at the Schuylkill Haven train station Mondays through Fridays 8:30am to 5pm, or by calling 610-5622102. Tickets are mailed approximately two weeks before the trip. All unused tickets are good forever. More information can be found on the Reading and Northern Railroad’s Passenger website at www.rbmnrr-passenger.com. (R&N - posted 7/11)

NATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE: COORDINATED BARGAINING GROUP UNIONS SAY CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS TAKE A STEP BACKWARDS: As part of our ongoing effort to conclude national contract negotiations, the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) met with the nation's freight rail Carriers (NCCC) for three days during the week of June 26th. These efforts were part of our ongoing mediation process, mandated by the Railway Labor Act when the parties have been unable to reach a voluntary agreement, and managed by the National Mediation Board. Despite the CBG's best efforts to reach a fair agreement with the NCCC, the mediation process took a step backwards on Thursday, June 29th, when the Carriers presented new, onerous bargaining positions. Their new contract demands would have the employees not only paying more per month towards their monthly insurance premiums, but would also make drastic changes in the amount the average employee pays when medical services are needed. Combined with the Carriers' outlandish demands for this dramatic cost-shifting, they suggested we agree to below-standard General Wage Increases with no retroactivity, and, for certain crafts, harmful work rules changes that would have employees doing more work for less pay in many circumstances. It is clear from the Carrier's latest contract demands that they are emboldened by the potential of management-friendly recommendations that could come from a Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Trump, and ultimately be imposed on the employees by a Congress that already has enacted or is pushing for changes in longstanding labor laws that protect employee rights. We, of course, are frustrated by the Carriers' hard line attitude. But, we will not let this stand in our way. In spite of this latest turn of events, the CBG will not give up its efforts to achieve a voluntary settlement that is fair and protects our members' best interests. We, therefore, requested, and have been granted, additional mediation sessions later this month. This is not by any means the end of the road. The Railway Labor Act makes it the duty of both labor and management "to exert every reasonable effort to make agreements." We take that obligation seriously. Be assured that we have been working very hard on your behalf and we will continue to pursue every available avenue to achieve a fair contract settlement worthy of your consideration. The Carrier's latest offer is neither a fair settlement, nor a settlement that we expect our members would ratify. So that you all are fully aware of what has been proposed, and in an effort to bring all affected members up to speed, the Carrier's latest proposal, with a brief synopsis, can be found here. More information will be forthcoming after the mediation sessions scheduled later this month. The Coordinated Bargaining Group is comprised of six unions: the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers / SEIU; and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. daysofdelays.org (Coordinated Bargaining Group, Randy Kotuby - posted 7/11)

WNET LAUNCHES DAYSofDELAYS MULTI-PLATFORM TRANSIT INITIATIVE: WNET, parent company of New York's PBS stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of New Jersey's Public Television Network, NJTV, has announced the launch of #DaysofDelays, a new multi-platform transit initiative addressing significant transit delays this summer. In anticipation of Amtrak's emergency track work at Penn Station beginning on July 10, and with repairs impacting NJ Transit, Long Island Railroad and New York City MTA, the initiative will provide commuters throughout the tri-state area with support and resources during the anticipated 44-day service interruptions. "As workers in the tri-state area prepare for a challenging commute this summer, WNET is poised to explore this complex story with the kind of in-depth, community-focused coverage that only public media can offer," said Neal Shapiro, President & CEO of WNET. "We have a full slate of valuable resources that we hope will help area commuters navigate and connect about the difficult days ahead for transit and the broader infrastructure issues facing the tri-state region." The #DaysofDelays website (daysofdelays.org) will provide various resources and a space for viewers to contribute their personal stories as they embark on extended commutes. The page will provide tri-state-area weather and traffic reports, a Twitter feed of transit updates and quick links to official transit websites. The site will also host a commuter survey to aid in the development of an unofficial "commuter index." Curated "survival kits" that contain infographics, an array of transit options, scheduling information, passenger bills of rights and ticket reimbursement policies, as well as Spotify playlists from on-air talent, will also live on the site. The initiative will also be featured in regular segments from nightly news programs NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, providing in-depth reporting, conversations and solutions-oriented stories on the repairs, infrastructure, economic impact, politics and other transit-related topics. NJTV News will also take its newscast to Hoboken Terminal, where all riders of the Morris-Essex line will be forced to take a bus, a ferry, or the PATH to complete their trip. Additionally, #DaysofDelays will incorporate social media events including "Midday with Mike," a daily hard hat tour on Facebook Live with a representative from Amtrak. The event will outline different aspects of the construction work, updates on the progress and opportunities for people to ask questions. Learn more at daysofdelays.org and join the conversation using the hashtag #DaysofDelays. (WNET - posted 7/10)

FRA RELEASES ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FOR HUDSON TUNNEL PROJECT: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today published the Draft Environmental Impact Statement review (DEIS) for the Hudson Tunnel Project, completing the review in 14 months from the Federal Register Notice of Initiation. The DEIS identifies the project’s preferred alternative, which includes constructing a new tunnel, refurbishing the existing ones and preserving the current functionality of the Northeast Corridor’s (NEC) Hudson River rail crossing between New Jersey and New York.  To develop the DEIS, the FRA established a federal and state agency task force and obtained federal permits concurrently with the NEPA process.   The Final EIS is expected to be issued in March 2018, approximately 22 months after initiation as compared to reviews of this magnitude which have taken more than 40 months to complete, demonstrating the Department’s commitment to streamline the project review process. The existing NEC rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River, known as the North River Tunnel, is used by Amtrak for intercity passenger rail service and New Jersey Transit for commuter rail service. Within the DEIS, FRA states that the preferred alternative will meet the purpose and need identified for the Hudson Tunnel Project.  The DEIS notes that the plan  includes construction of two new rail tubes in a single tunnel beneath the Hudson River that can maintain the existing level of train service while the North River Tunnel tubes are taken out of service one at a time for rehabilitation. Once the North River Tunnel restoration is complete, both old and new tunnels will be in service, providing redundant capability and increased operational flexibility.  The DEIS reports that its preferred alternative may cost in the range of $11.7 to $12.98 billion. It will be the responsibility of the project sponsors to identify their funding sources and plan.  The Department notes that all projects that apply for Federal funding must meet the appropriate criteria and that all projects will be individually evaluated on their merits, without prejudice against or partiality in favor of particular projects. Publication of the DEIS is a milestone in the clearance process for all known environmental impacts before pre-engineering design and construction can begin on the project.  It also initiates a comprehensive public comment period and public hearings before the FRA can finalize the EIS and Record of Decision. To support that there are three public hearings, with meetings scheduled on August 1st, August 3rd and August 10th.(USDOT - posted 7/07)

CSX CORPORATION DECLARES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: Today, the Board of Directors of CSX Corporation approved a $0.20 per share quarterly dividend on the company's common stock. The dividend is payable on September 15, 2017, to shareholders of record at the close of business on August 31, 2017. (CSX - posted 7/07)

WASHINGTON METRO TO TEST NEW WATERPROOFING OF RED LINE TUNNELS: Metro has approved a pilot program that could have long-term benefits for Red Line riders. Beginning July 10, Metro and its contractor will test the use of a "curtain grouting" technique to add a waterproof membrane to the exterior of the tunnel walls using a proprietary polymer-based material. "Since this tunnel segment was constructed, Metro has fought a battle against Mother Nature, and Mother Nature has always had the upper hand," said Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. Last Friday, for example, Red Line service had to be suspended in two separate areas due to arcing insulators caused by water infiltration during the morning commute. The dual incidents led to widespread delays, crowding and inconvenience for tens of thousands of riders. "Just as we have addressed the root causes of track infrastructure problems and railcar reliability issues, I want to address the water infiltration problem head on and find a sustainable solution. Our Red Line riders deserve nothing less," Wiedefeld said. About the Pilot Curtain grouting is a leak-mitigation technique used to treat an entire area that is leaking by adding a rubberlike membrane on the outside of the concrete tunnel wall. To do this, holes are drilled in the ceiling of the existing tunnel until the exterior of the tunnel is reached. From there, a proprietary polymer-based emulsion (PBE) grout is injected into the hole at high pressure, which begins cascading down the curved exterior of the tunnel (like the way chocolate syrup cascades down an ice cream sundae). Two holes are drilled every 10 feet for the injections. The holes are then sealed at the conclusion of the process. The injected material forms a rubberlike impenetrable membrane, or "curtain," between the exterior of the tunnel wall and the surrounding ground medium. The contractor has successfully used this solution in the mining industry to seal ground water inflows - some with flow rates of 50 gallons per second. Metro plans to test this technique in the two different environments that exist along the Red Line segment - one in a linear bored tunnel and one in a blasted-rock cavern. The linear tunnel segment that will be used for the pilot will be a 2,000-foot section of the inbound track between Medical Center and Bethesda. For the second test location, Metro plans to use the entire Medical Center interlocking area, which is a cavernous space that was constructed out of blasted rock. "Red Line riders will greatly benefit if this innovative approach to preventing water from entering the system works," said Roger Berliner, Montgomery County Council President. "As everyone knows, water and electricity are not a good combination. While there will be unavoidable disruptions, in the long run, our community will be much better served if this approach works out." (Washington Metro- posted 7/06)

PITTSBURGH PORT AUTHORITY'S BOARD ADOPTS FISCAL YEAR 2018 BUDGET: Pittsburgh Port Authority's Board on Friday adopted the agency's $420 million operating and $133 million capital budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The operating budget includes $581,000 to expand service on five bus routes, add trips on the P1 to alleviate overcrowding, and improve on-time performance. The Authority’s $133 million capital budget is used to maintain the Authority's extensive transit infrastructure system, including more than 52 miles of light rail track, nearly 18 miles of dedicated bus lanes, and more than 800 buses and light rail vehicles. The Authority also maintains the Monongahela Incline, 79 bridges, and five rail tunnels. Among the FY2018 capital expenses is the purchase of 70 new clean diesel buses, and various improvements to the Authority’s fixed guideways and facilities. (Pittsburgh Port Authority - posted 7/06)

SELECT EMPIRE SERVICE TRAINS TO OPERATE TO/FROM GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL DURING INFRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL PERIOD: As part of the modified Amtrak service during infrastructure renewal work, select Empire Service trains will operate to/from Grand Central Terminal. In coordination with New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), three roundtrip Empire Service trains (six total trains) will operate between Albany-Rensselaer and Grand Central Terminal during the renewal work period, from July 10 – Sept. 1. The following service adjustments have been made to Amtrak’s weekday schedule, including those previously announced, which will be in effect from July 10 – Sept. 1. Customers can expect some minor run-time changes to the regularly scheduled service, particularly for routes that have been modified during the renewal period: Northeast Corridor Service
  • Empire Service: Monday-Friday, three roundtrip trains (six total trains) will operate between Albany-Rensselaer (ALB) and New York Grand Central Terminal (NYG). ALB to NYG: 230, 236, and 242. NYG to ALB: 233, 235 and 239. Please note: on the weekends, train 233 will originate from New York Penn (NYP). On Fridays, Trains 255 and 293 will be canceled. Train 291 will operate daily from New York Penn (NYP) to Rutland, Vermont (RUD) station.
  • Northeast Regional: Three roundtrip trains (six total trains) 110, 111, 127, 180, 183, and 186 have been cancelled between New York City and Washington, D.C. Three trains will also make additional stops to accommodate passengers. Train 79 will make an extra stop at Metropark (MET), train 129 will make an extra stop at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and Train 193 will make an extra stop at North Philadelphia (PHN). Service between New York City and Boston will operate as scheduled.
  • Keystone Service: Three roundtrip trains (six total trains) 651, 653, 655, 642, 650 and 652, which normally operate between Harrisburg and New York City, will only operate between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. One roundtrip train (two total trains) 640 and 643 will operate between Newark, NJ and Harrisburg. Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg will operate as scheduled.
  • Adirondack / Maple Leaf Service: The Adirondack, operating between New York City and Montreal, and the Maple Leaf, operating between New York City and Toronto, will be combined during the renewal period. Customers will depart New York Penn (NYP) daily and travel to Albany-Rensselaer (ALB), where the trains will be separated and continue on to their respective destinations.
  • Acela Express: No changes.
Long Distance services that operate on the Northeast Corridor
  • Crescent: Normally operating between New York City and New Orleans, this service will originate and end in Washington, D.C. daily during the renewal period. Connections will be provided on other Northeast Corridor trains.
  • Silver Service: Tickets that are normally only available to long distance customers traveling between New York City and Tampa/Miami, will be open to all Northeast Corridor travelers during the renewal period.
  • Cardinal Service: Tickets that are normally only available to long distance customers traveling between New York City and Chicago, will be open to all Northeast Corridor travelers during the renewal period.
Amtrak’s reservation systems have been updated to reflect these schedule changes and any passenger already booked on a train that has been cancelled or altered will be contacted and accommodated on other scheduled services. (Amtrak- posted 7/05)

NJ TRANSIT SUMMER SERVICE CHANGES FOR AMTRAK REPAIRS TAKE EFFECT MONDAY: NJ TRANSIT is reminding customers that the summer rail service changes due to Amtrak track work at Penn Station New York (PSNY) will go into effect on Monday, July 10th. This includes the diversion of all M&E Midtown Direct trains scheduled to arrive in PSNY after 7 a.m. to Hoboken Terminal, where alternate bus, ferry and PATH service is available. Additional busing will be in place at key locations. “This has been an all-hands-on-deck effort to communicate with our customers,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steve Santoro. “If you haven’t done so already, I strongly urge all customers to utilize the next few days to familiarize yourself with all of your travel options. “This will not be a normal commute for any of us including our customers, so we ask that you; stay connected to social media and our web page for the latest information; stay ahead by building in extra time for your commute; and stay cool and try not to lose patience. On Monday, our customer service ambassadors will be out in force, so if you have questions or need directions, just look for them in their bright yellow vests,” Santoro said. For the past several weeks, NJ TRANSIT has been preparing its customers for these upcoming service changes. NJ TRANSIT has been engaging with customers through “We Are Listening” forums in Hoboken and PSNY, customer service ambassadors answering questions at key stations, senior and executive management staff riding M&E trains into PSNY during the morning rush hour in addition to informational flyers, newsletters, service alerts, internet advertising and a new section of the website devoted entirely to this effort at njtransit.com/theupdate. New paper rail schedules were printed reflecting the service changes and are available throughout the system. Electronic printable versions of the schedules can be found at njtransit.com/theupdate. (NJ Transit- posted 7/05)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR JUNE AND THE WEEK ENDING JULY 1, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 1, 2017, as well as volumes for June 2017. U.S. railroads originated 1,065,976 carloads in June 2017, up 4.4 percent, or 45,174 carloads, from June 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,113,575 containers and trailers in June 2017, up 4.6 percent, or 49,425 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in June 2017 were 2,179,551, up 4.5 percent, or 94,599 carloads and intermodal units, from June 2016. In June 2017, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with June 2016. These included: coal, up 40,333 carloads or 13.2 percent; crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 16,747 carloads or 18.5 percent; and chemicals, up 4,888 carloads or 4.1 percent. Commodities that saw declines in June 2017 from June 2016 included motor vehicles and parts, down 7,168 carloads or 9.5 percent; petroleum & petroleum products, down 6,724 carloads or 15.2 percent; and metallic ores, down 2,025 carloads or 7.7 percent. “Rail traffic indicators of the economy remain mixed. While some commodity groups, such as intermodal, chemicals, and crushed stone and sand (driven heavily by frac sand) set new all-time first half records and a few others like grain and coke set post-recession records, several other traffic categories continue to struggle,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “All of this indicates an industrial economy that may not yet have a clear direction forward and one that continues to undergo structural change. It is a sign of the reality railroads constantly face: changing markets that are difficult to foresee and plan for.” Excluding coal, U.S. rail carloads were up 4,841 carloads, or 0.7 percent, in June 2017 over June 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 3,668 carloads, or 0.6 percent, for the month. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first six months of 2017 was 6,699,453 carloads, up 6.4 percent, or 404,078 carloads, from the same period last year; and a record 6,892,673 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent, or 179,515 containers and trailers, from last year and up 0.5 percent, or 32,614 units, over the previous record in the first half of 2015. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 26 weeks of 2017 was 13,592,126 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.5 percent compared to last year. Week Ending July 1, 2017 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 546,361 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending July 1 were 270,353 carloads, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,008 containers and trailers, up 4 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 10.1 percent to 87,750 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 9 percent to 39,503 carloads; and chemicals, up 2 percent to 31,851 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.8 percent to 8,862 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 12 percent to 16,503 carloads; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 6.1 percent to 16,044 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending July 1, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,143 carloads, up 4.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 353,457 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 719,600 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 26 weeks of 2017 was 18,003,299 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.7 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 79,043 carloads for the week, up 15.1 percent, and 66,334 intermodal units, up 15.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 26 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,709,721 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,747 carloads for the week, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,115 intermodal units, up 0.04 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 26 weeks of 2017 was 701,452 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 7/05)

REBUILT SOUTH FERRY STATION REOPENS AFTER SUPERSTORM SANDY DESTRUCTION: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) marked a major milestone in Sandy recovery and resiliency efforts with the re-opening yesterday of the South Ferry Terminal Complex, which was completely destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Superstorm Sandy sent 15 million gallons of salt water into the South Ferry Terminal Complex Station in October 2012, destroying all electrical and mechanical systems and other components. Water filled the entire station from the track level to the mezzanine, eventually reaching 80 feet high. The flood waters – a mix of seawater, sewage and debris – caused extensive damage to critical equipment throughout the station, which sits a few hundred feet from New York Harbor. “In the hours and days after the storm hit, New Yorkers were reminded just how vulnerable we are to Mother Nature and how dependent the region is on the MTA,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “That’s why our efforts to harden the system to guard against these vulnerabilities is so critical – not only for the transit network infrastructure itself, but for the regional economy and more than eight million customers who rely on us each today.” “Like the World Trade Center a few blocks away and the Sandy-ravaged neighborhood surrounding it, South Ferry Terminal has risen from disaster after disaster,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “The new South Ferry is a beautiful, convenient station with state-of-the-art resiliency features built in to protect it from future storms, and improves service with its full-length platform and easier transfer between the 1 Subway and R SubwayW Subway lines.” Rebuilding, Protecting Against Future Storms Newly added hardening measures to protect the completely overhauled South Ferry station include retractable flood doors at station entrances and 6,000-pound steel marine flood doors throughout the station, as well as hardening of other entry points for water including vents, manholes, hatches, conduits, and air ducts. The three street entrances were tested during Tropical Storm Hermine in September. Specifically, the $369 million project – opened on time and on budget – included the removal of damaged equipment and reinforced walls, as well as:
  • Replacement of track, signals and power cables.
  • Extensive replacement of damaged electrical equipment;
  • Replacement and upgrades to telecommunications systems;
  • Replacement of equipment in two circuit-breaker houses, fan plant, pump room;
  • Complete rebuild of seven escalators and two elevators, adding another station to list of those fully ADA-accessible.
  • Replacement of ceiling panels, wall panels and other architectural finishes;
  • Two track flood log tunnel barriers;
  • Sealed ducts, manholes, vents; Two new pumps, each capable of pumping out 1,500 gallons of water per minute, were added to the existing pump rooms at the station.
  • A total of five On-the-Go Kiosk screens and eight Help Point Intercoms were added to the station.
In addition, the air-circulation system was replaced and the station is now fully air-tempered – keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. (MTA- posted 7/03)

SEPTA FARE INCREASE: SEPTA is reminding riders that fare increases go into effect on Saturday, July 1, which is the start of the new fiscal year. The fare changes, which were approved by the SEPTA Board in May following a series of 10 public hearings throughout the Authority's service region, include modest increases across all modes of travel and all 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, 2013, and this year. Fare revenues help fund SEPTA's Operating Budget, which provides for the everyday expenses of running the system, such as labor, fuel and power. The upcoming fare increase was planned for 2016, but was postponed one year to allow time for the initial rollout of the SEPTA Key. (SEPTA- posted 7/03)

MTA CHAIRMAN JOSEPH LHOTA ANNOUNCES PLAN TO OVERHAUL THE SUBWAY SYSTEM: MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota today, at the MTA Genius Transit Challenge Conference, responded to Governor Cuomo's challenge by announcing he will conduct a top-to-bottom audit to overhaul the organization and present a plan within 60 days to modernize the subway system. The MTA, working with transit experts and top management consultants, will do a comprehensive audit of the challenges facing and limitations of the organization to identify strategies for short- and long-term transformational change. Thirty days later, the MTA will then put forward a detailed, long-term plan, in conjunction with the MTA Genius Transit Challenge, to overhaul the system, focusing on a series of MTA priorities, including changing and training personnel, implementing and executing processes that work, improving customer communication and engaging and implementing new technology. MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said, "Millions of New Yorkers depend on the MTA every day, and we must rebuild confidence in the authority with a complete overhaul of the system – identifying the root causes of our problems and taking immediate and decisive action to fix them. It is our responsibility to transport people as safely, quickly and efficiently as possible, and the current state of the subway system is unacceptable. In tandem with the Genius competition proposals, we will deploy a multi-faceted plan to restore confidence to the MTA and prove that we can deliver for our customers." First opened in 1904, the New York City Subway is among the largest and busiest public transit systems in the world. Today, there are 472 stations spanning 665 miles of track, serving nearly 6 million riders a day—that’s 70 percent of all subway rides in the United States. The system offers 24/7 service spanning four boroughs, which has enabled New York to grow and thrive for over a century. Yet as ridership has soared, changes to its infrastructure have not kept pace. New York City Transit must innovate to accommodate a growing demand and to continue to be the economic engine of the city, state, and region. The MTA also announced the Genius Transit Challenge, an international competition seeking innovative solutions to modernize and improve the reliability of the New York City subway system. The competition will award a “genius” prize of up to $1 million for the best idea in each of the following categories: Improve Signaling in the New York City Subway System: Accelerate deployment of modern train signaling technologies to the subway system, to increase the number of trains at peak periods and promote faster and more reliable service; Rapidly Deploy Modernized Subway Cars to the Subway System: Obtain and deploy modern subway cars more efficiently, or refurbish existing cars in order to increase the New York City subway system’s capacity and reliability, prevent car breakdowns, and reduce delays; Increase Communications Infrastructure in the Subway System: Identify communications systems that will support rapid installation and deployment of modern train communications and control technologies in the subway system, to increase the subway system’s capacity and reliability. Judging Process Proposals will be submitted and reviewed during a two-phase evaluation process. In Phase 1, applicants will submit an application for one or more of the three Challenge areas. Applications that meet all New York State requirements will be evaluated by criteria that may include their ability to fulfill Challenge objectives, their innovativeness, and their capacity for implementation. An evaluation committee of subject-matter experts will select applications to proceed to Phase 2. In Phase 2, applicants will receive additional guidelines to inform their submissions, have an opportunity to refine their application(s), and be required to provide in-depth details and supporting materials for their application(s). The evaluation committee will score refined applications on criteria that may include their ability to fulfill Challenge objectives, innovativeness, capacity for implementation, and cost effectiveness. (MTA - posted 6/29)

WORK UNDERWAY TO IMPROVE SERVICE RELIABILITY AT CRITICAL TRANSPORTATION HUB: Amtrak engineering forces continue the ongoing infrastructure renewal work at New York Penn Station, a series of major projects that will strengthen and improve operations and reliability at North America’s busiest transportation hub. A normal weekday sees more than 1,300 daily train movements at Penn Station with each of the station’s 21 tracks in use every two minutes. The ongoing work will help increase service reliability and preserve the existing operational flexibility for the users of Penn Station. This effort also includes preparation for the extensive and accelerated maintenance in “A” interlocking that will take place this summer, beginning in July. Renewal and maintenance recently completed includes (numbered on map below):
  • 1.Renewal of 125 feet of station track 7 at east end limits including the replacement of 600 railroad ties
  • 2.Total switch replacement consisting of several sections within tracks 3X and 4X in “A” interlocking (west side of Penn Station)
  • 3.­­­Wood, timber and rail replacement within “JO” interlocking (east side of Penn Station)
  • 4.Replacement of 96 block ties in Line 1 of the East River tunnels
  • 5.Replacement of block ties within station tracks 2 and 10
  • 6.Positioning of equipment in New York and New Jersey in preparation for the extensive summer work in July and August
  • 7.Daily maintenance work
Time-lapse video of “A” interlocking renewal work (2) completed during the weekend of June 16-19 can also be found here. Amtrak has released the posted schedules for passenger service during Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station beginning July 10, 2017 through September 1, 2017. (Amtrak posted 6/29)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 24, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 24, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 544,694 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending June 24 were 263,504 carloads, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,190 containers and trailers, up 4.9 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 11.2 percent to 85,975 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 10.4 percent to 39,632 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.2 percent to 30,391 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 16 percent to 9,789 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 12.1 percent to 16,997 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 8.5 percent to 22,522 carloads. For the first 25 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,429,100 carloads, up 6.6 percent from the same point last year; and 6,616,665 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 25 weeks of 2017 was 13,045,765 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.5 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending June 24, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 358,880 carloads, up 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,641 intermodal units, up 6.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 719,521 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 25 weeks of 2017 was 17,283,699 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.7 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 78,153 carloads for the week, up 12 percent, and 67,229 intermodal units, up 14.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 25 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,564,344 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,223 carloads for the week, down 5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,222 intermodal units, up 10.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 25 weeks of 2017 was 673,590 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.3 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 6/28)

L.K. COMSTOCK AWARDED $66 MILLION LIRR CONTRACT TO ADD A SECOND TRACK BETWEEN RONKONKOMA AND FARMINGDALE, N.Y.: L.K. Comstock & Company Inc., a leading specialty electrical contractor and a subsidiary of RailWorks Corporation, has been awarded a $66.5 million contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to add a second track on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) over 13 miles between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale, N.Y. L.K. Comstock is responsible for the track and systems installation for the new second track on the Main Line Ronkonkoma Branch. Work on the project starts in June 2017 and extends 19 months with a targeted completion date by the end of 2018. The double-track project will improve service and reliability on the LIRR’s Ronkonkoma Branch, which has doubled in ridership over the last 25 years, and will improve service to Long Island MacArthur Airport. L.K. Comstock will perform electrical work, including installing new utility poles, signal, communication & fiber cable, and signal equipment, as well as test and commission all of the systems. RailWorks Transit will perform all related track and civil work, including installing 13 miles of track for the new second track. In addition to the main line work, the project includes designing and constructing the Wyandanch and Pinelawn stations. This work involves demolishing the old platforms and installing new ones and constructing a new pedestrian walkway and elevators at Wyandanch Station that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both L.K Comstock & Co. and RailWorks Transit are subsidiaries of RailWorks Corporation. Many of our employees commute on this line to reach our offices,” said Ben D’Alessandro, president of L.K. Comstock and RailWorks Transit. “We understand firsthand the benefits this double-track project will deliver. Our team is excited to put our integrated capabilities into action to improve service and reliability on this busy rail corridor on Long Island.” (L.K. Comstock - - posted 6/27)

AMTRAK NAMES TRANSPORTATION VETERAN RICHARD ANDERSON AS PRESIDENT AND CEO: Amtrak announced that it has named Richard Anderson, a 25-year veteran of the aviation industry, as its next president and chief executive officer. Anderson, former chief executive officer of both Delta and Northwest Airlines, will begin his role on July 12. To ensure a smooth transition, Anderson will serve in a co-CEO capacity with current CEO Wick Moorman through Dec. 31, 2017, at which time Moorman will become an advisor to the company. Moorman joined Amtrak in September 2016 as a transitional CEO tasked with improving the company’s operations, streamlining the organizational structure, and helping recruit his successor. “Richard brings to Amtrak his experience running one of the largest global commercial air carriers. The board believes he is the right leader at the right time to drive the quality of customer service that our passengers, partners and stakeholders expect and deserve while continuing our path towards operational and financial excellence,” said Amtrak Chairman of the Board Tony Coscia. “The board also appreciates all that Wick continues to do to improve Amtrak’s safety culture and strengthen our operating performance, including the important renewal work at New York Penn Station.” Anderson, 62, most recently was executive chairman of the Delta Air Lines board of directors after serving as the airline’s CEO from 2007 to 2016. He was executive vice president at United Healthcare from 2004 to 2007 and CEO of Northwest Airlines from 2001 to 2004, which later merged with Delta. Anderson also served in the legal division at Continental Airlines and was a former county prosecutor. “It is an honor to join Amtrak at a time when passenger rail service is growing in importance in America. I look forward to working alongside Amtrak’s dedicated employees to continue the improvements begun by Wick,” said Anderson. “Amtrak is a great company today, and I’m excited about using my experience and working with the board to make it even better. I’m passionate about building strong businesses that create the best travel experience possible for customers.” “Richard is a best-in-class industry leader and isn’t afraid to face challenges head-on. He has helped companies navigate bankruptcy, a recession, mergers and acquisitions, and 9/11,” said Moorman. “He’s a leader with the strategic vision and tactical experience necessary to run a railroad that benefits our customers, partners and stakeholders nationwide.” Anderson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Houston at Clear Lake City and a Juris Doctorate at South Texas College of Law. He is a native of Galveston, TX, where his father worked for the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Anderson was named Aviation Week’s Person of the Year in 2015. In 2014 he was recognized as one of the World’s Best CEOs by Barron’s magazine and was ranked among the Top 25 Most Influential Industry Executives by Business Travel News. In 2013, he was recognized in Fortune magazine’s Top People in Business list. (Amtrak - posted 6/26)

WORK TO REBUILD AND IMPROVE AGING SECTIONS OF M LINE TO BEGIN IN JULY: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that the $163 million project to rebuild and improve the reliability of century-old sections of the M Subway line will begin on July 1. M Subway service will terminate at Broadway Junction for two months, during which time shuttle bus service will be provided. The newly improved M Subway Line will help to provide alternative service during improvement work being done on the L Subway line starting in 2019. From Saturday, July 1 to Friday, September 1, contractors will demolish and rebuild a crucial section of the M Subway line between the Fresh Pond Rd and Middle Village-Metropolitan Av stations that includes the Fresh Pond Bridge, a 100-year-old overpass that crosses over the New York & Atlantic Railway's tracks. This metal bridge not only carries M Subway trains to its Queens terminus but also provides access to subway car storage yards that are critical to service. This outdoor elevated structure has been exposed to inclement weather and daily use for one hundred years, and must be replaced to ensure reliable service. Preliminary work also will begin on the Myrtle Viaduct, a century-old concrete overpass between the Myrtle Av and Central Av M Subway stations that also must be replaced, though the bulk of that reconstruction will start immediately after the Fresh Pond Bridge work is complete. “The MTA’s top priority always has been and will continue to be providing safe and reliable service to our customers and this work is absolutely critical to the long term viability of this growing corridor,” said New York City Transit Acting President Darryl Irick. “The improvements from this project are also going to be critical for providing reliable alternative service for our L Subway line customers in 2019. While there is no other option than complete replacement, we’ve engaged with affected communities to address their concerns, and hope they understand the urgency behind our decision and can look forward to improvements in service once the work is complete.” Both sections will be rebuilt using new material that will last longer than the original material, now considered subpar by modern building standards. The other work on the Myrtle Viaduct will include replacing steel girders, track beds and the platforms that carry the tracks. During the two months of the Fresh Pond Bridge reconstruction, service will be suspended between Myrtle Av and Middle Village-Metropolitan Av (with several stations remaining staffed for MetroCard transactions). Instead, M Subway trains will run on the J SubwayZ Subway line and terminate at the Broadway Junction station to provide customers with transfer options to the A SubwayC SubwayJ SubwayL Subway lines. The alternate service plan during the closure also includes a network of three free shuttle bus routes for service to the seven affected stations. During daytime hours, two shuttle bus routes will provide service to the seven affected M Subway stations, making all station stops between Myrtle Av and Middle Village-Metropolitan Av. Customers on these routes can transfer to the L Subway at the Myrtle-Wyckoff station. A third shuttle bus route also will provide a transfer to the L Subway, making stops at Middle Village-Metropolitan Av M Subway, Jefferson St L Subway and Flushing Av J SubwayZ Subway. During overnight hours, shuttle buses will provide service to the affected m stations, making all station stops between Myrtle Av and Middle Village-Metropolitan Av. To further mitigate the impact of this vital work on customers, MTA NYC Transit will permanently re-open an entrance at the Flushing Av J SubwayM Subway station. That secondary entrance, at the Fayette Street end of the station, will increase station capacity and help to manage customer flow during the M Subway line work, as well as the anticipated increase of L Subway customers during the Canarsie Tunnel repairs that begin in 2019. The reopening of the entrance at Fayette Street and Broadway includes a new turnstile area and a total of four reopened staircases: two platform staircases and two street staircases. MTA NYC Transit has engaged in robust outreach with the communities affected by the M Subway line work and met with local leaders and community boards representing Bushwick, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale. Work was scheduled to begin after the school year ended at the nearby Chris the King Regional High School so students who use the M Subway line would not be affected. In response to community feedback, MTA NYC Transit will continue to staff four of the seven affected stations during the service diversion for customers requiring MetroCard transactions. MetroCard Vending Machines will be available at the Seneca Av, Forest Av, Fresh Pond Rd and Middle Village-Metropolitan Av stations, which will continued to be staffed by station agents for fare transactions. Customers should be aware that although those stations will be open and the agent booths will be staffed, M Subway trains will not stop at those stations. Transit personnel will also canvass the seven affected M Subway stations in the days before and after the start of the service diversion to provide brochures and directions or answer questions, particularly during peak travel times. Once the service diversion begins, personnel will monitor the affected stations and bus terminals and assist customers seeking shuttle buses or subway transfers. Information on both Myrtle Avenue line reconstruction projects are available by clicking here. Additional information on Phase 2 of the project to complete the Myrtle Viaduct work will be available closer to the expected start of that work on September 2. The latest amendment to the MTA’s Capital Program allocates $14.5 billion for subway improvements over the next few years, including $4 billion for stations, $4.5 billion for signals and track work, and $1.7 billion for new cars. Details on the Capital Program are available at mta.info/capital. The MTA also has announced a six-point plan to improve subway service immediately, which includes:
  • New subway cars and increased maintenance
  • Installing new tracks and signals
  • Increasing first-responder presence for customer medical emergencies
  • Improving passenger loading and unloading
  • Eliminating track bottlenecks
To supplement the MTA’s current long-term and immediate efforts, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the “MTA Genius Transit Challenge,” an international competition seeking innovative solutions to increase the capacity and improve subway service reliability. The challenge will award $1 million in each of three categories: signals, cars and communications in tunnels and stations. (MTA - posted 6/26)

METRO-NORTH PARTNERS WITH PHILIPSTOWN DEPOT THEATRE TO TRANSFORM PROPERTY ADJACENT TO GARRISON STATION: MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced plans to work with the Philipstown Depot Theatre, housed in the former Garrison Station building, to improve and upgrade a 4,500-square-foot piece of property that lies between the theater and the railroad’s tracks at Garrison Station. The MTA Board has approved a license agreement granting the theater the authority to improve and upgrade this underutilized property, creating a welcoming plaza area for the theater behind the building. “While programming at the Philipstown Depot Theatre has flourished, the plaza outside the theatre’s box office has languished. Thanks to this license agreement with Metro-North Railroad, that’s about to change,” said Amy Dul, Philipstown Depot Theatre’s Executive Director. “Our Theatre is an important part of the creative, artistic life of the Hudson Valley, and we’re delighted to collaborate with Metro-North to restore its plaza area.” Under the agreement, the theater will contract workers to remove and replace the property’s uneven and broken concrete and asphalt, resurface the location, install new lighting and drainage, restore original lampposts and create outdoor seating. The project will also make the property behind the theater building safer by reducing the possibility of slip and falls on patchy concrete. The theater assumes the cost of the plaza renovations, saving the MTA $60,000. With work on the plaza expected to be completed this year, Philipstown Depot Theatre audiences and community members alike will soon be able to enjoy a revitalized public space. “Metro-North strives to be a good neighbor to the communities we serve,” said Joseph Giulietti, President of Metro-North Railroad. “We’re pleased to be working with the Philipstown Depot Theatre to create a plaza that will enhance an arts center that benefits Hudson Valley residents. Now patrons to the Theatre, community members and passers-through will be able to enjoy this unique area, bring a picnic, or just watch the trains go by.” "Metro-North is performing a real public service by supporting the redevelopment of the Theatre’s plaza area,” said MTA Board member Neal Zuckerman. “A refurbished plaza will help enhance the town’s quality of life, and on behalf of the elected officials of Putnam County and the Town of Philipstown, I'm delighted to see that the railroad cares about making a positive difference to the community.” The Philipstown Depot Theatre is a community-based performing arts center that connects families and individuals in the Hudson River Valley with the best in high-caliber affordable theater, music and films. The theater entertains, educates and informs audiences with its programs and productions administered in partnership with the Town of Philipstown Recreation Department. The Garrison Station building – now the home of the Philipstown Depot Theatre – was built in 1892 and is registered with the New York State Historic Preservation Office. It served its original purpose, facilitating train travel to, from and through the Hudson Highlands, until the early 1960s, though commuters continued to shelter beneath its eaves for years. Aside from its historical significance, the structure is considered the most important architectural monument in the village for its stone construction, broadly projecting roof, elaborate dormers and subtle decorative elements. The building was sold by Metro-North’s predecessor to the Garrison Landing Association in 1962, and Philipstown Depot Theatre has been leasing the space since 1996. (MTA - posted 6/23)

AMTRAK CEO WILL DISCUSS CHALLENGES AND CHANGES TO AMERICA'S PASSENGER RAIL SYSTEM AT NATIONAL PRESS CLUB: LUNCHEON ON JULY 12: The President and CEO of Amtrak, Charles W. "Wick" Moorman IV, will discuss the challenges facing America's passenger rail system and the changes to come at a National Press Club Luncheon on Wednesday, July 12. Moorman's speech will focus on the renovation of New York's Penn Station and other needed infrastructure projects, as Congress considers President Trump's pledge to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure. Moorman became Amtrak's president and chief executive officer effective Sept. 1, 2016. He is the tenth executive to lead America's Railroad since the company began operations in 1971. Prior to coming to Amtrak, Mr. Moorman spent approximately four decades at Norfolk Southern Corporation and its predecessor Southern Railway. Amtrak and its partners operate on more than 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, moving more than 300 trains each day — at speeds up to 150 mph — to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak also is the operator of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for four commuter rail agencies. (National Press Club - posted 6/23)

GE SIGNS $575 MILLION AGREEMENT WITH EGYPTIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS FOR NEW LOCOMOTIVES: GE announced that it signed a Letter of Intent with the Ministry of Transportation (MoT) and Egyptian National Railways (ENR), worth $575 million, to supply 100 GE ES30ACi Light Evolution Series Locomotives that can be used for both passengers or freight rail, as well as a 15-year agreement for parts and technical support for GE locomotives in ENR’s new and current fleet. The agreement, which is the largest ever between the parties, also includes technical training aimed at improving local capabilities and technical skills for more than 275 ENR engineers and employees in region. To highlight the importance of this agreement to Egypt, the signing was attended by dignitaries such as Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail; H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of Investment & International Cooperation in Egypt; H.E. Dr. Hesham Arafat, Minister of Transportation in Egypt; Robert Beecroft, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt; Medhat Shousha, Chairman of ENR; and John Rice, Vice Chairman of GE and President and CEO of GE’s Global Growth Organization. “A common thread amongst national strategies across the globe is the provision of sustainable and advanced infrastructure, with transportation a particularly crucial component,” said John Rice. “What is exciting about this partnership is its truly holistic nature. We are working with the MoT and ENR on the entire process – from ensuring a competitive financing solution with partners to the manufacture and technical support for the locomotives, and the training and development of engineers. This is what it takes to be a true partner, engaging at all levels to offer comprehensive end-to-end solutions." This strategic agreement reflects GE Transportation’s efforts to deepen and transform its global presence, meet international customers’ needs, and capitalize on the strong opportunity for international growth that’s critical to continued success. “This marks a major milestone for Egypt and reflects a long-standing relationship with the Ministry of Transportation and ENR,” added Jamie Miller, GE Transportation Chief Executive Officer. “Today, ENR’s fleet includes roughly 80 GE Evolution Series locomotives to move people and goods critical to Egypt’s economy. With this agreement, we will help the region improve its rail infrastructure and bring products to market faster and more efficiently.” Medhat Shousha, Chairman of Egyptian National Railways, said: “We are looking forward to bringing the latest technologies to improve rail infrastructure in Egypt. Together with GE, we will work on enhancing the efficiency of rail transportation for both freight and passengers. Additionally, the parts and technical support agreement will ensure that the performance of our fleet is maintained over the years.” GE ES30ACi Light Passenger Evolution Series Locomotives are equipped with a 12-cylinder, 3,200 horsepower GE Evolution Series engine. The locomotive delivers high power output to enable enhanced productivity and flexibility in heavy haul operations, as well as enhanced reliability. The locomotives can be used to transport passengers or freight. GE has been a committed partner to Egypt for over 40 years. With more than 700 employees in country, GE works with its partners in the public and private sector to bring its latest technologies and solutions to serve the transportation, aviation, oil & gas, power and healthcare sectors. This agreement builds on our longstanding partnership with the Ministry of Transportation and ENR. (GE - posted 6/22)

SEPTA TROLLEY TUNNEL TO CLOSE FOR TROLLEY TUNNEL BLITZ: Due to power, track and station improvement projects, SEPTA Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 will not operate in the Center City tunnel from 10 p.m. on Friday, July 7, through 5 a.m. on Monday, July 17. Trolley service will begin and end at 40th and Market Streets; trolleys will use their alternate diversion service routing to connect to SEPTA's Market-Frankford Line at 40th and Market Streets. Trolley passengers can board the Market-Frankford Line at 40th Street Station for travel to-and-from Center City, as the work efforts will not affect that service. This is the fifth consecutive summer SEPTA has held the Trolley Tunnel Blitz. During this year's nine-day tunnel closure, members of SEPTA's in-house Engineering, Maintenance & Construction Division crews will work around-the-clock on key maintenance and construction tasks. "Over the past four summers, the Trolley Tunnel Blitzes have allowed our crews to replace switches and thousands of feet of rail and overhead contact wire, and undertake an aggressive improvement and cleaning program at the trolley stations," said SEPTA GM Jeffrey Knueppel. "We still have some work to do to bring the tunnel into a state of good repair, but the previous Blitzes have allowed us to reduce the number of days the tunnel is closed for service." The tunnel was closed for 16 days in 2014 and in 2015. There are more than 1,300 daily trolley trips through the five-mile single loop Center City tunnel. Because the tunnel is used 24 hours a day, it is difficult for SEPTA crews to get productive work windows to complete necessary repairs and improvements. "The Trolley Tunnel Blitz allows SEPTA to maximize productivity during improvements projects while minimizing the period of inconvenience to passengers and communities because it is held during the summer, when ridership is lower," said Knueppel. Members of SEPTA's Power Department will remove and replace 1,000 feet of wood protection board (a part of the system attaching overhead wire to the tunnel ceiling) on the westbound side of the tunnel between 19th Street-22nd Street Stations. The Power Department will also install new trolley wire from west of 22nd Street to west of 30th Street Stations and tension the trolley wire between several locations in the tunnel. SEPTA's Track Department will replace the curved rail and rail clamps on the westbound side of the tunnel east of 33rd, 36th and 37th Street Stations, and on the eastbound side east of 15th Street and east and west of 33rd Street Stations. The track department will also replace frogs (the crossing points of two rails) and rails at the intersection of Chester and Woodland Avenues.
  • Other work that will be completed during the tunnel closure includes:
  • Installation of track wires for newly installed rails
  • Testing relays (electrical switches) and performing maintenance on switches at Ludlow Interlocking
  • Performing maintenance tasks including graffiti removal, tile repair, painting, drain clearing, track bed cleaning and heavy cleaning at all stations
  • Testing emergency generators and lighting throughout the tunnel
"The projects we work on during the blitzes improve safety and service reliability throughout the Trolley Tunnel," said Knueppel. "We thank our customers for their continued support and understanding during these closures. We will work to make this year's blitz as productive and successful as in previous years." SEPTA's Trolley Tunnel Blitz is part of the Authority's "Rebuilding the SEPTA System" capital program and funded through Pennsylvania Act 89. (SEPTA - posted 6/21)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 17, 2017 The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 17, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 543,179 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending June 17 were 266,402 carloads, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,777 containers and trailers, up 4.3 percent compared to 2016. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 15.5 percent to 39,654 carloads; coal, up 15.1 percent to 87,066 carloads; and chemicals, up 5.7 percent to 31,288 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.4 percent to 9,326 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 8.1 percent to 17,189 carloads; and grain, down 4.6 percent to 21,677 carloads. For the first 24 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,165,596 carloads, up 6.8 percent from the same point last year; and 6,335,475 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 24 weeks of 2017 was 12,501,071 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending June 17, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,399 carloads, up 8.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 356,805 intermodal units, up 6.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 720,204 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 24 weeks of 2017 was 16,564,178 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.7 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 78,763 carloads for the week, up 17.1 percent, and 67,962 intermodal units, up 17.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 24 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,418,962 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 18,234 carloads for the week, up 6.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,066 intermodal units, up 10 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 24 weeks of 2017 was 644,145 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 6/21)

MTA ANNOUNCES LIRR FARE REDUCTIONS DURING AMTRAK CONSTRUCTION AT PENN STATION: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today responded to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s call for a discount for Long Island Rail Road riders as a result of Amtrak’s summer service cuts at Penn Station. The Long Island Rail Road will offer on average, a 25% fare reduction for all passengers traveling to Hunterspoint Avenue and Atlantic Terminal during Amtrak’s repair work. The discounts apply to all passengers traveling to Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue - including those on trains diverted to these stations from Penn Station. All LIRR riders will be given a free transfer during the morning rush to New York City subways at Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue which have direct and easy connections to multiple subway lines. The reductions – which are based on the distance passengers are traveling – will be in effect from July 10 to the completion of Amtrak repair work. The discount will apply to monthly, weekly and daily tickets. Starting today, Tuesday, June 20, the discounted monthly tickets will be available via ticket windows, ticket vending machines and mail and ride. Discounted tickets will be available via MTA eTix starting on July 1. “Governor Cuomo has asked us to provide greater value to our customers while Amtrak conducts repairs this summer. In response we’re adding to the mitigation measures we’ve already announced by providing a discount that will give customers who travel to key transportation hubs an average discount of 25%,” said MTA Interim Director Ronnie Hakim. “We believe that this move will mitigate the inconvenience that our customers may experience, and have the added benefit of drawing customers away from Penn Station while Amtrak performs repair work.” The discount will also be available to customers traveling to Long Island City, Nostrand Avenue and East New York. The discounted fares are in addition to the previously released transportation plan that restores rush-hour commuter capacity to and from Manhattan, and alleviates anticipated delays and disruptions for LIRR commuters (link: http://nymta.civicconnect.com/LIRR-PennStatio (MTA - posted 6/20)

COURT AFFIRMS RAILROAD COMPANY MUST PAY $260.000 IN COMPENSATORY DAMAGES: A federal appeals court has ruled that Pan Am Railways, Inc. must pay $260,000 in damages to an employee who suffered retaliation after filing a Federal Railroad Safety Act whistleblower complaint. OSHA investigated the complaint, which involved the company charging the employee with dishonesty after he tried to report an injury. The company was initially ordered to pay the employee $10,000 in compensatory damages and $40,000 in punitive damages. Pan Am filed an appeal that was later upheld, and the damages were increased to $250,000. "This case is a strong reminder that our whistleblower laws prohibit reprisals against employees who file whistleblower complaints, report workplace injuries and illnesses, or raise awareness of hazardous safety or security conditions," said Galen Blanton, OSHA's New England regional administrator. (Randy Kotuby - posted 6/20)

MTA ANNOUNCES REOPENING OF TWO REHABILITED SUBWAY STATIONS IN BROOKLYN: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced today that two hundred-year-old Subway stations on the 3 Subway line in Brooklyn will reopen for service on June 19 after a months-long rehabilitation closure. The Sutter Av-Rutland Rd and Junius St 3 Subway stations in Brooklyn will reopen for service in both directions at 5 a.m. on Monday, June 19, following a major rehabilitation to significantly improve the station environment and commuting experience for thousands of customers who use the two stops on the 3 Subway Line. The two stations are part of an $88 million rehabilitation of seven elevated stations along the New Lots Av Line in the Brownsville and East New York neighborhoods of Brooklyn. They were closed for service in both directions in October 2016 to facilitate extensive repairs to the two stations, which originally opened for service more than a century ago. “The MTA Capital Program sets aside $14.5 billion for Subway improvements over the next few years, including $4 billion for stations, $4.5 billion for signals and track work, and $1.7 billion for new cars,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “These long-term initiatives, together with our Six-Point Plan for immediate improvements and Governor Cuomo's million-dollar Genius Challenge, demonstrate massive resources and efforts focused right now on fixing and modernizing New York City’s century-old Subway system.” “The Sutter Av-Rutland Rd and Junius St stations are on elevated tracks and have open-air platforms that have been exposed to the weather every day, every hour, for nearly 100 years,” said New York City Transit Acting President Darryl Irick. “With these station renewals, you’re seeing our capital program dollars at work bringing seven stations that originally opened in the 1920s to a state of good repair. Our customers who endured the inconvenience of these stations’ temporary closing will now reap the benefits of that work, with newly rehabilitated stations and the return of 3 train service to Sutter-Rutland and Junius.” Improvements at both renovated stations include newly rehabilitated platforms, including platform windscreens, guardrails, concrete panels, and light poles. The stations’ mezzanine infrastructure, including exterior and interior walls, windows, doors, and floor surfaces, were also replaced. Customers will benefit from the installation of new tactile warning strips at platform’s edge, upgraded water drainage, new lighting, and newly painted surfaces in the stations. The five other stations that are part of the rehabilitation project are Saratoga Av, Rockaway Av, Pennsylvania Av, Van Siclen Av, and New Lots Av. The work at New Lots Av is ongoing as the station remains open during repairs. At New Lots Av, component repairs will include the installation of a new exterior metal panel façade, repairs to mezzanine beams and concrete floors, and reconfiguration of the existing fare control area. The latest amendment to the MTA’s Capital Program allocates $14.5 billion for Subway improvements over the next few years, including $4 billion for stations, $4.5 billion for signals and track work, and $1.7 billion for new cars. Full details about the Capital Program are available at www.mta.info/capital. Last month, the MTA announced a comprehensive six-point plan to address the top causes of subway delays, focusing on:
  • Subway cars
  • Tracks and signals
  • First responder activity
  • Passenger loading and unloading
  • Track bottlenecks
To supplement the MTA’s current long-term and immediate efforts, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo also announced the “MTA Genius Transit Challenge,” an international competition seeking groundbreaking and innovative solutions to increase the capacity and improve the reliability of the New York City Subway. The Challenge will award $1 million in each of three categories: signals, cars and communications in tunnels and stations. (MTA - posted 6/19)

PATH ADDING MORNING AND EVENING RUSH HOUR TRAIN SERVICE TO ACCOMMODATE RIDERSHIP INCREASE DURING AMTRAK SUMMER WORK AT NEW YORK PENN STATION: With a significant increase in ridership expected this summer as a result of Amtrak’s infrastructure renewal project at New York Penn Station, PATH is responding with a comprehensive plan to increase train frequency between the Hoboken-33rd Street stations during the morning and evening rush hours and to cross-honor affected NJTransit passengers at three of the largest PATH stations. The enhanced service and deployment of extra PATH personnel is scheduled to go into effect with the start of the New York Penn Station project on Monday, July 10, and remain in place for the duration of the project, which is expected to run into September. NJT has announced that its Midtown Direct service will be reduced for thousands of passengers, with affected riders diverted primarily to the Hoboken Terminal. More than 7,000 additional NJT riders are expected to use the PATH system in Hoboken each weekday during the morning and evening rush hours. “We understand that this will be a difficult and challenging summer for our customers,” said PATH General Manager/Director Mike Marino. “We’re working not only with our customers, but our regional transportation partners to minimize the impact of the Penn Station repair work beginning next month.” PATH intends to cross-honor affected NJT customers at the Hoboken, 33rd Street and World Trade Center PATH stations. Riders will need to produce their NJT rail tickets to be cross-honored at these PATH facilities. Cross-honoring will not be in place at the Newark Penn Station facility, where NJT is maintaining normal service. NJT has agreed to reimburse PATH for cross-honoring during this period. To accommodate the increased ridership demand, PATH is reducing the time between trains from seven to five minutes on the Hoboken-33rd Street line during the morning rush hour, from 7-10 a.m., and during the evening rush between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., in both directions during the two rush hours. Extra PATH customer service personnel and Port Authority Police are scheduled to be on hand at the three stations where cross-honoring is taking place, and maintenance staff will remain at PATH facilities for longer periods during the morning and afternoon commutes. The Port Authority’s Office of Emergency Management is working with PATH and its regional railroad partners to develop additional contingency plans. The 33rd Street PATH station is not physically a part of New York Penn Station. PATH has embarked on a thorough review of its own tracks, rolling stock, equipment and air conditioning systems as part of its preparation for the coming service adjustments. PATH’s on-time performance average during peak periods this year is more than 96 percent. (PANYNJ - posted 6/19)

CHOICE TERMINAL™ BULK TRANSFER OPENS IN SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA: The Atlantic and Western Railway (ATW), a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W), today announced the opening of a Choice Terminal™ bulk transload facility in Sanford, N.C. Choice Terminals are operated by G&W railroads and transfer bulk materials – such as flour, plastic pellets, propane, roofing granules and etc. – between railcars and trucks, providing customers that are not located directly on the railroad with the ability to reduce transportation costs by using rail. Customers can receive inbound, bulk raw materials via rail at the terminal, hold them on site, and receive them via truck on a just-in-time basis. Likewise, customers can ship outbound bulk products to the terminal via truck, for loading onto railcars to their final destinations. “The Sanford terminal provides non-rail-served businesses in the Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas with the ability to not only reduce transportation costs, but also manage their inventory, utilize just-in-time delivery and shrink their carbon footprint by eliminating the use of long-haul trucks,” ATW President Andy Chunko said. Located on a six-acre site, ATW’s Choice Terminal in Sanford features a 20-car rail yard and truck-to-railcar transloading equipment, including a weighing scale. ATW interchanges with Class I railroads Norfolk Southern and CSX, providing customer access to the North American rail network. “Using the ATW Choice Terminal will allow us to work with a supplier that is not currently rail-served as well as two Class I railroads to broaden our market,” David Uncapher, Owens Corning’s director of transportation sourcing for the Americas, said. “We’ll have an opportunity to tap into freight-rail economics by trucking raw materials to the terminal from various points and loading them to rail for a single delivery at our manufacturing sites hundreds of miles away.” The terminal offers flexible hours and open-truck access, and the property has security, fencing, lighting, and a staffed office. (Genesee & Wyoming Inc - posted 6/16)

MTA ANNOUNCES REOPENING OF TWO REHABILITED SUBWAY STATIONS IN BROOKLYN: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced today that two hundred-year-old Subway stations on the 3 Subway line in Brooklyn will reopen for service on June 19 after a months-long rehabilitation closure. The Sutter Av-Rutland Rd and Junius St 3 Subway stations in Brooklyn will reopen for service in both directions at 5 a.m. on Monday, June 19, following a major rehabilitation to significantly improve the station environment and commuting experience for thousands of customers who use the two stops on the 3 Subway Line. The two stations are part of an $88 million rehabilitation of seven elevated stations along the New Lots Av Line in the Brownsville and East New York neighborhoods of Brooklyn. They were closed for service in both directions in October 2016 to facilitate extensive repairs to the two stations, which originally opened for service more than a century ago. “The MTA Capital Program sets aside $14.5 billion for Subway improvements over the next few years, including $4 billion for stations, $4.5 billion for signals and track work, and $1.7 billion for new cars,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “These long-term initiatives, together with our Six-Point Plan for immediate improvements and Governor Cuomo's million-dollar Genius Challenge, demonstrate massive resources and efforts focused right now on fixing and modernizing New York City’s century-old Subway system.” “The Sutter Av-Rutland Rd and Junius St stations are on elevated tracks and have open-air platforms that have been exposed to the weather every day, every hour, for nearly 100 years,” said New York City Transit Acting President Darryl Irick. “With these station renewals, you’re seeing our capital program dollars at work bringing seven stations that originally opened in the 1920s to a state of good repair. Our customers who endured the inconvenience of these stations’ temporary closing will now reap the benefits of that work, with newly rehabilitated stations and the return of 3 train service to Sutter-Rutland and Junius.” Improvements at both renovated stations include newly rehabilitated platforms, including platform windscreens, guardrails, concrete panels, and light poles. The stations’ mezzanine infrastructure, including exterior and interior walls, windows, doors, and floor surfaces, were also replaced. Customers will benefit from the installation of new tactile warning strips at platform’s edge, upgraded water drainage, new lighting, and newly painted surfaces in the stations. The five other stations that are part of the rehabilitation project are Saratoga Av, Rockaway Av, Pennsylvania Av, Van Siclen Av, and New Lots Av. The work at New Lots Av is ongoing as the station remains open during repairs. At New Lots Av, component repairs will include the installation of a new exterior metal panel façade, repairs to mezzanine beams and concrete floors, and reconfiguration of the existing fare control area. The latest amendment to the MTA’s Capital Program allocates $14.5 billion for Subway improvements over the next few years, including $4 billion for stations, $4.5 billion for signals and track work, and $1.7 billion for new cars. Full details about the Capital Program are available at www.mta.info/capital. Last month, the MTA announced a comprehensive six-point plan to address the top causes of subway delays, focusing on:
  • Subway cars
  • Tracks and signals
  • First responder activity
  • Passenger loading and unloading
  • Track bottlenecks
To supplement the MTA’s current long-term and immediate efforts, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo also announced the “MTA Genius Transit Challenge,” an international competition seeking groundbreaking and innovative solutions to increase the capacity and improve the reliability of the New York City Subway. The Challenge will award $1 million in each of three categories: signals, cars and communications in tunnels and stations. (MTA - posted 6/19)

PATH ADDING MORNING AND EVENING RUSH HOUR TRAIN SERVICE TO ACCOMMODATE RIDERSHIP INCREASE DURING AMTRAK SUMMER WORK AT NEW YORK PENN STATION: With a significant increase in ridership expected this summer as a result of Amtrak’s infrastructure renewal project at New York Penn Station, PATH is responding with a comprehensive plan to increase train frequency between the Hoboken-33rd Street stations during the morning and evening rush hours and to cross-honor affected NJTransit passengers at three of the largest PATH stations. The enhanced service and deployment of extra PATH personnel is scheduled to go into effect with the start of the New York Penn Station project on Monday, July 10, and remain in place for the duration of the project, which is expected to run into September. NJT has announced that its Midtown Direct service will be reduced for thousands of passengers, with affected riders diverted primarily to the Hoboken Terminal. More than 7,000 additional NJT riders are expected to use the PATH system in Hoboken each weekday during the morning and evening rush hours. “We understand that this will be a difficult and challenging summer for our customers,” said PATH General Manager/Director Mike Marino. “We’re working not only with our customers, but our regional transportation partners to minimize the impact of the Penn Station repair work beginning next month.” PATH intends to cross-honor affected NJT customers at the Hoboken, 33rd Street and World Trade Center PATH stations. Riders will need to produce their NJT rail tickets to be cross-honored at these PATH facilities. Cross-honoring will not be in place at the Newark Penn Station facility, where NJT is maintaining normal service. NJT has agreed to reimburse PATH for cross-honoring during this period. To accommodate the increased ridership demand, PATH is reducing the time between trains from seven to five minutes on the Hoboken-33rd Street line during the morning rush hour, from 7-10 a.m., and during the evening rush between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., in both directions during the two rush hours. Extra PATH customer service personnel and Port Authority Police are scheduled to be on hand at the three stations where cross-honoring is taking place, and maintenance staff will remain at PATH facilities for longer periods during the morning and afternoon commutes. The Port Authority’s Office of Emergency Management is working with PATH and its regional railroad partners to develop additional contingency plans. The 33rd Street PATH station is not physically a part of New York Penn Station. PATH has embarked on a thorough review of its own tracks, rolling stock, equipment and air conditioning systems as part of its preparation for the coming service adjustments. PATH’s on-time performance average during peak periods this year is more than 96 percent. (PANYNJ - posted 6/19)

CHOICE TERMINAL™ BULK TRANSFER OPENS IN SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA: The Atlantic and Western Railway (ATW), a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W), today announced the opening of a Choice Terminal™ bulk transload facility in Sanford, N.C. Choice Terminals are operated by G&W railroads and transfer bulk materials – such as flour, plastic pellets, propane, roofing granules and etc. – between railcars and trucks, providing customers that are not located directly on the railroad with the ability to reduce transportation costs by using rail. Customers can receive inbound, bulk raw materials via rail at the terminal, hold them on site, and receive them via truck on a just-in-time basis. Likewise, customers can ship outbound bulk products to the terminal via truck, for loading onto railcars to their final destinations. “The Sanford terminal provides non-rail-served businesses in the Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas with the ability to not only reduce transportation costs, but also manage their inventory, utilize just-in-time delivery and shrink their carbon footprint by eliminating the use of long-haul trucks,” ATW President Andy Chunko said. Located on a six-acre site, ATW’s Choice Terminal in Sanford features a 20-car rail yard and truck-to-railcar transloading equipment, including a weighing scale. ATW interchanges with Class I railroads Norfolk Southern and CSX, providing customer access to the North American rail network. “Using the ATW Choice Terminal will allow us to work with a supplier that is not currently rail-served as well as two Class I railroads to broaden our market,” David Uncapher, Owens Corning’s director of transportation sourcing for the Americas, said. “We’ll have an opportunity to tap into freight-rail economics by trucking raw materials to the terminal from various points and loading them to rail for a single delivery at our manufacturing sites hundreds of miles away.” The terminal offers flexible hours and open-truck access, and the property has security, fencing, lighting, and a staffed office. (Genesee & Wyoming Inc - posted 6/16)



PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES SIGNIFICANT FUNDING TO EXTEND OTTAWA'S LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT SYSTEM: TA modern public transit system means shorter commute times, less air pollution, more time with family and friends, and stronger economic growth. Now is the time to invest in building new urban transit networks. The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced up to $1.09 billion in funding for the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Stage 2 Project, which will better connect the east, west and south areas of Canada’s capital. The Province of Ontario has also made a similar funding commitment to the project. The City of Ottawa is responsible for the balance of the funding. With Ottawa’s population expected to grow to 1.14 million people over the next 15 years, it is important that the city’s public transit becomes more efficient and inclusive for residents and visitors. Stage 2 of this project will see an additional 38.8 kilometres of rail and 23 new stations added to Stage 1 of the light rail transit system currently under construction. This new stage of construction will begin in 2018. When construction is completed in 2023, 70 per cent of Ottawa residents will live within five kilometres of light rail transit. In addition to reducing congestion, increasing ridership, and improving safety, the expansion will allow people from Orléans, Nepean, and South Ottawa to quickly and easily get around the city. (Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada - posted 6/16)

MBTA LAUNCHING STUDY OF FUTURE NEEDS OF COMMUTER RAIL: The MBTA is releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) tomorrow, June 16, to study and identify current and future Commuter Rail needs and improvements as part of the MBTA's Commuter Rail Vision. The MBTA already has a future planning exercise underway for bus, subway, and ferry, which is known as Focus40. "Now is the appropriate time to think about the future needs of people in terms of our Commuter Rail system," said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "Commuter Rail is going to play a more important role than ever before in the years ahead as people seek to reduce their carbon footprint, look for more efficient travel options, and strive for more life-work balance by putting the time spent commuting to good use in either relaxing or finishing up with office responsibilities. The FMCB and MBTA management team hope to look at housing, real estate, and other factors that will have an impact on the demand for Commuter Rail." Current Commuter Rail service limits the potential to grow ridership during off-peak times with the overwhelming majority of trips made during peak commuting hours and in peak directions. Current service also limits the potential to encourage reverse commuting and to provide frequent connections between gateway cities and Boston. In some instances, infrastructure is a barrier to expanded or different types of transit service. "With the results of this study, we can better plan future infrastructure, future technology, and future service," said MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. "We'll be able gain a more detailed understanding of our current Commuter Rail ridership and future customers so we can continue to best serve those communities now and in the years to come." In launching a Commuter Rail Vision study, the MBTA and MassDOT seek to understand the likely demand for changes to service in order to strategize the best ways to utilize current resources, plan for infrastructure needs, understand potential customer demand, and think about the impact of new technology on transit options. The study's results will identify the most cost-effective strategy for leveraging the MBTA's rail network to meet new trends in travel and address the economic growth needs of the Greater Boston region. The Commuter Rail Vision study is planned to examine a wide variety of topics, such as the type of fleet needed to optimize the existing network and deliver new service, the system upgrades needed to accommodate various service expansions, if some sections of the network should be electrified, and where potential new stations should be located. In determining these goals, the study will be informed by prior and ongoing work (including prior studies of the existing infrastructure's suitability for an "urban rail" service model inside Route 128), ongoing Focus40 development of long-term MBTA investment strategies, Capital Investment Plan infrastructure investments, the ongoing MBTA Fleet and Facilities Plan, the ongoing exploration of potential next-generation operating contract models, recent and ongoing municipal planning efforts, Commuter Rail network planning and design efforts (including the possible South Station Expansion project, the South Coast Rail project, and the North South Rail Link Feasibility Re-assessment), and various plans to consider new stations on the network. The scope of the study will include a review of previous studies and data collection, analysis of the future market, peer market comparisons within North America and Europe, objectives for a 2040 Commuter Rail Vision, identifying potential service alternatives, analysis of operations and the development of a systems simulation model, ridership projections and the operating costs of service alternatives, the capital investments needed to support these alternatives, stakeholder engagement plans, final recommendations, and an implementation plan. This study, led by the Office of Transportation Planning and supported by MBTA Railroad Operations, is proposed to take place over 2-2.5 years with project funding of $3 million from the MBTA Capital Budget. This schedule positions the MBTA to have identified a service model that can inform and be incorporated into a new operating contract. The MBTA expects to award a contract to the winning bidder of the RFP in September 2017 with the study anticipated to begin several weeks later. The MBTA Commuter Rail system is one of the largest in the nation, operating fourteen Commuter Rail lines that serve fifty cities and towns with a fleet of eighty-two locomotives and 421 coaches. The MBTA's Commuter Rail represents a significant share of the MBTA's infrastructure and assets with nine percent of MBTA passenger trips occurring on the Commuter Rail at approximately 122,000 daily passenger trips on an average weekday. (MBTA - posted 6/15)

AMTRAK PROMOTES SAFETY AROUND RAILROAD CROSSINGS AND TRACKS: Amtrak is raising awareness about safety in an effort to reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from unsafe behavior by motorists and pedestrians on railroad crossings and tracks as the summer season gets underway. Vehicle-train collisions at highway-rail grade crossings fell 2.4 percent in 2016, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The number of people killed in these incidents rose 13.7 percent last year, and deaths due to train track trespassing increased 12.8 percent. Total trespass-related casualties increased 14.5 percent from 2015 levels, according to the FRA. America’s Railroad is one of several partners with Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), a national, nonprofit safety education group working to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights-of-way. OLI has programs in 46 states, and trained volunteers who provide free safety presentations to community groups, school bus operators, truckers and student drivers to raise awareness of the dangers around railroad tracks and trains. OLI uses materials from their national public awareness campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” to connect with the public through digital ads and at events. Amtrak Police Department Deputy Chief Martin Conway serves on OLI’s board of directors. “The safety of customers, employees and the public is Amtrak’s top priority,” Conway said. “Education and outreach are critical in helping the public understand the importance of railroad safety.” Rail Safety Tips:
  • Report an emergency. A toll-free number is posted on every grade crossing for the public to contact a railroad to report problems.
  • Avoid walking, biking, or jogging on a railroad track.
  • Remember to always stop at railroad crossings.
  • Obey all warning signs and signals. Trains can come from either direction on the same track at any time and can be very quiet.
  • Use of headsets or cell phones around tracks can prevent a person from hearing an approaching train.
  • Trains are wider than the tracks. If a person gets too close , they can be hit by or dragged under the train.
  • Never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. In addition, there are substantial fines for going around the crossing arms.
  • Report suspicious items, persons, or activity immediately to the Amtrak Police Department by approaching a uniformed officer, calling (800) 331-0008, sending a text to APD11 (27311), or by calling 911.
(Amtrak - posted 6/15)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 10, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 10, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 545,317 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending June 10 were 265,717 carloads, up 7.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,600 containers and trailers, up 5.3 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 16.7 percent to 85,516 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 13.6 percent to 39,867 carloads; and grain, up 10.4 percent to 22,409 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 11.3 percent to 9,601 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 5.7 percent to 17,776 carloads; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 4.2 percent to 15,857 carloads. For the first 23 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,899,194 carloads, up 6.8 percent from the same point last year; and 6,058,698 intermodal units, up 2.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 23 weeks of 2017 was 11,957,892 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending June 10, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 360,753 carloads, up 8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,333 intermodal units, up 7.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 721,086 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 23 weeks of 2017 was 15,843,974 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 77,599 carloads for the week, up 13.3 percent, and 68,826 intermodal units, up 18.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 23 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,272,237 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,437 carloads for the week, down 0.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,907 intermodal units, up 2.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 23 weeks of 2017 was 613,845 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.8 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 6/14)

AMTRAK TO BUILD $28 MILLION LOCOMOTIVE SERVICE FACILITY IN SEATTLE: Amtrak has announced it will build a $28 million locomotive service facility in Seattle. This is Amtrak’s third major investment in the Seattle facility that provides services for two long-distance trains, the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight; Amtrak Cascades state supported corridor service; and maintenance for Sound Transit Sounder trains. The project will include demolition of the site’s existing buildings, utilities, tracks, and other structures, as well as construction of a new 31,000-square-foot locomotive shop. The yard’s existing tracks will be reconfigured to allow access to the new facility, which will be equipped with a new 125-ton drop table, funded by the Washington State Department of Transportation and a 55-ton overhead bridge crane. The project is scheduled to begin this month and completed in June 2019 by PCL Construction Services. PCL has also built other structures for Amtrak in Seattle, which includes construction of the Maintenance of Equipment Facility, a Warehouse, Administrative, and Health and Welfare building. (Amtrak - posted 6/14)

R. J. CORMAN RAILROAD COMPANY, LLC CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY: R. J. Corman Railroad Company, LLC is commemorating its thirtieth anniversary this year. In January of 1987, R. J. Corman’s founder, Rick Corman, began the company with the acquisition of the Bardstown Line. In August of the same year, he purchased a second 100-mile short line, the Memphis Line, which operates from Clarksville, Tennessee to Bowling Green, Kentucky. These two acquisitions were the beginning of what has become a nationally recognized group of short line operating companies. “I feel privileged to serve as the president of such a successful company,” Brian Miller, President of R. J. Corman Railroad Company, LLC, said. “Mr. Corman’s entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude have paved our road to success and continue to push us as an organization to think innovatively in order to meet the needs of our customers.” Today, R. J. Corman operates 11 short line companies in nine states totaling nearly 1,000 miles of track. The largest railroad in the R. J. Corman system is the Pennsylvania Lines, consisting of 243 miles of track which run through the ridges and valleys of north central Pennsylvania. R. J. Corman also operates the Tennessee Terminal Railroad, which interchanges with BNSF Railway in Memphis, Tennessee. R. J. Corman celebrated the 10th anniversary of this terminal in March 2016. R. J. Corman’s Central Kentucky Lines consist of nearly 150 miles track running from Lexington to Louisville, Kentucky. These lines service 31 customers and interchange with CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern. In August 2015, R. J. Corman purchased a 78-mile railroad in North and South Carolina and leased 14 connecting miles from Horry County, South Carolina, for which they received all necessary Surface Transportation Board authority to begin operations on the lines. Last year, R. J. Corman was awarded a USDOT TIGER VIII grant to carry out an extensive rehabilitation project on this railroad. R. J. Corman Railroad Company’s success is illustrated by the numerous awards it has received since its establishment. Most recently, in 2015, they were selected for CSX Transportations’ Short Line Award. Two years earlier, they were recognized with the Argus Rail Win Win Award. The operating company has been awarded the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s (ASLRRA) Jake Award with Distinction for nine consecutive years and received seven ASLRRA Marketing Awards. (RJ Corman - posted 6/13)

OMNITRAX ANNOUNCES INDEFINITE CLOSURE OF THE HUDSON BAY RAILWAY FROM AVERY TO CHURCHILL: OmniTRAX Inc. (OmniTRAX) announced today that, due to severe flooding and washout conditions, service on the Hudson Bay Railway (HBR) from Amery (28.9 rail miles north east of Gillam, MB) to Churchill has been suspended indefinitely and is not expected to resume operations before the winter season. A preliminary assessment by an independent Engineering firm, indicates that the track bed has been washed away in 19 locations. Five bridges are visibly damaged and an additional 30 bridges and 600 culverts, structures that allow water to pass under the track, will need to be further assessed for structural integrity. "The damage is unprecedented and catastrophic," said Peter Touesnard, ?Chief Commercial Officer at OmniTRAX. "While the Hudson Bay Railway requires significant seasonal maintenance, the extent of the damage created by flooding this year is by far the worst we have ever seen. The water receded to near normal levels only yesterday, and we hope to have engineers on the ground as soon as possible to conduct a thorough assessment. It will be several weeks before we have a final report of the damage to the line, but we do not expect to be operational before the winter, and are concerned that the future of the track is in jeopardy." "With the initial assessment, we received from the Engineering consultant today, we made the decision to announce an indefinite service suspension so communities served by the railway can develop long-term plans for the movement of the supplies and resources they need," added Mr. Touesnard. HBR has been unable to operate to Churchill since May 23rd when high water made the track impassable. HBR is a vital transportation link in northern Manitoba, hauling food, fuel, agricultural products, kraft paper, concentrates and other goods and materials required in the north. OmniTRAX has notified impacted customers and communities, and it has also been in constant contact with Transport Canada and Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization regarding the condition of the line. In addition, OmniTRAX has been in regular contact with the Missinippi Rail consortium, with which the company recently signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the potential acquisition of the HBR and other assets by the consortium, and have kept them apprised as to the extent of the damage to the rail line. (OmniTRAX - posted 6/12)

MTA ANNOUNCES COMPREHENSIVE TRANSPORTATION PLAN TO PREVENT MAJOR DISRUPTIONS TO NEW YORKERS' COMMUTES DURING AMTRAK FORCED SUMMER SERVICE CUTS: In the wake of Amtrak’s forced summer service cuts at Penn Station, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Penn Station Task Force today released a comprehensive transportation plan that restores rush-hour commuter capacity to and from Manhattan and alleviates anticipated delays and disruptions for LIRR commuters. The plan, developed in conjunction with the Penn Station Task Force established by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in May, addresses the near-term summer crisis at Penn Station and will minimize the long-term operating and management failures of Amtrak. It focuses on three key service objectives in the face of Amtrak service cuts: maintaining LIRR’s Penn Station passenger capacity, providing alternative transportation options and mitigating an anticipated increase in traffic. This action plan will be communicated through an aggressive public awareness campaign to ensure riders have the information they need to plan ahead. The newly released plan and LIRR summer schedule, which will be in place during Amtrak’s emergency repair work planned from July 10 through at least Sept. 1, lays out a series of robust mitigation measures, including:
  • Maintaining LIRR’s Penn Station passenger capacity during peak hours by adding new rush-hour trains and lengthening the number of existing trains;
  • The creation of a new bus and ferry network that’s free to LIRR monthly and weekly ticketholders;
  • Free morning subway transfers for all LIRR ticketholders; and
  • Half-price tolls for trucks on MTA crossings between 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. to alleviate congestion on roads.
As a result of reduced track capacity during Amtrak’s emergency repair and construction work this summer, LIRR was faced with having to cancel or divert up to 15 trains that normally arrive at Penn Station during the morning rush period between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., affecting approximately 9,600 customers. After an extensive analysis, LIRR is providing seats for every potentially affected customer by adding three new trains into Penn, and adding approximately 36 cars to additional Penn-bound trains. In order to stock these additional cars, LIRR is canceling three overnight trains between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. This will impact only 90 people per night and the LIRR is adding supplemental bus service over the same period. The glaring lack of capacity to stock these trains, however, highlights the urgent need for the advancement and completion of the LIRR’s Double Track and Third Track projects to improve mass transit, reduce congestion, and ensure the continued viability of Long Island’s transportation infrastructure. *Specific LIRR timetables are available for download here and at www.mta.info Customers can connect to subways at the following stations, which will cross-honor LIRR tickets during the morning rush hours:
  • Atlantic Terminal 2 Subway3 Subway4 Subway5 SubwayB SubwayD SubwayN SubwayQ SubwayR Subway
  • Jamaica E SubwayJ SubwayZ Subway
  • Hunterspoint Avenue 7 Subway
*View subway service info at www.mta.info PROVIDING ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS WITH BUSES AND FERRIES While these actions successfully offset service disruptions, we are taking further steps to provide customers with even more service options. The MTA is increasing the capacity to move commuters to and from Manhattan during rush hour with the creation of a new bus and ferry network, both free for LIRR monthly and weekly ticket holders. New LIRR Bus Network A new network of 200 buses will provide LIRR ticket holders with robust supplemental service from Long Island commuter parking lots to Manhattan. Buses will run Monday through Friday from 6-10 a.m., and 3-7 p.m. and will cross-honor fares for customers who show their valid monthly or weekly LIRR tickets. All buses will operate on strictly-enforced HOV lanes on the Long Island Expressway, and will enter Manhattan via the MTA’s Queens Midtown Tunnel. The New York State Police and TBTA Police will work collaboratively with local law enforcement partners in New York City and on Long Island to keep designated lanes clear for busing while aggressively enforcing HOV restrictions. Violators will be subject to a $243 fine and the loss of 2 points on their license. Additionally, there will be full-service hospitality tents at each park and ride location offering free Taste NY food and beverage, on-site customer service, free reading materials, phone charging and Wi-Fi stations. Buses will originate in eight locations across Long Island and accommodate 2,900 cars in tota (MTA - posted 6/12)

TRACK RENEWAL PROJECT SCHEDULED ALONG SEPTA'S ROUTE 15 TROLLEY: SEPTA will conduct a track renewal project on a portion of its Route 15 trolley line from June 18-September 17, 2017. The project will take place on Girard Avenue from east of Broad Street to just west Corinthian Street, including the east and westbound tracks on the Schuylkill River Bridge and the intersection of 34th Street and Girard Avenue. Most of the track in this area was last replaced in the 1950s. The street structure supporting the tracks has deteriorated due to weather, traffic and the age of the road surface. SEPTA will excavate and replace approximately 4,100 track feet and repave the track area. The new track will result in reduced sound and vibration because the new rail is incased in an insulated rubber boot. The new and improved track components will make for a smoother ride. To accommodate the work, buses will replace trolleys along the entire Route 15 from June 18-September 17, 2017. Trolleys will return between Frankford and Delaware Avenues and 63rd Street and Girard Avenue on September 18. Shuttle buses currently in use between Richmond Street and Allegheny Avenue and Front Street and Girard Avenue due to PennDOT construction will continue to operate in place of Route 15 trolleys. The project will start at Broad Street and progress west over the summer. The inner lanes on Girard Avenue will be closed to all traffic in separate, multi-block construction areas. Girard Avenue will remain open for emergency vehicles and deliveries during the entire track renewal project. Lanes for local traffic will be shifted in the construction area, and detours will be posted. All side streets in the construction areas will be closed to thru traffic, but local traffic will be permitted up to construction sites. Parking will not be permitted in the area or adjacent to the tracks being reconstructed, however, exceptions will be made for those with special needs. Walking access for businesses will be arranged. Normal construction hours will be Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Weekend work may be required to maintain the project schedule. Temporary trailers will be placed on the south curb line of Girard Avenue at 16th Street. Parking lanes on the south side of Girard between 16th and 17th Streets and between 19th and 20th Streets will be closed so rail strings can be welded and stored until installation. (SEPTA - posted 6/09)

MISALIGNED SWITCH LEAD TO AUGUST 2016 DERAILMENT OF A CN TRAIN IN ACTON VALE, QUEBEC: In its investigation report (R16D0073) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that a main-track switch inadvertently left in the reverse position led to the August 2016 derailment of a Canadian National Railway (CN) train in Acton Vale, Quebec. On 11 August 2016, a CN freight train was travelling eastward on the Sherbrooke Subdivision of the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad. When the train crew noticed that a main-track switch at Acton Vale, Quebec was lined for the siding, the train's emergency brakes were applied. The train was unable to stop before the switch and was diverted into the siding where the lead locomotive struck a derail and derailed. Derails are devices designed to stop runaway equipment by derailing it. The track was slightly damaged and the derail was destroyed. There were no injuries. The investigation determined that the main-track switch was inadvertently left in the reverse position, leading to the train being diverted into the siding. A worker tasked with handling the switch had not moved it back to the normal position after completing another task and mistakenly recorded it as being in the normal position. Because the emergency brakes were not applied at a distance that allowed the train to stop before entering the siding, the train entered the siding, struck the derail and derailed. The investigation found that there is an increased risk of accidents occurring on non-signaled tracks if there are no physical defences to alert train crews of a misaligned switch and if the control system is unable to detect a switch left in the reverse position. Following the occurrence, St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad engineering employees received refresher training on the Canadian Rail Operating Rules, including the company's special instructions that apply when a main-track switch is handled. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada - posted 6/09)

NOW ARRIVING ON THE MATTAPAN TROLLEY LINE: REAL TIME COUNTOWN CLOCKS: "Passengers who rely on the aging Mattapan High Speed Line for their daily commute will no longer need to stand idly along the tracks and wonder with extreme patience whether their ride is on its way. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced Monday that all of the trolleys, which date back to the 1940s, have been outfitted with on-board tracking technology, allowing riders to pinpoint their precise location using smartphone apps." (Boston Globe/MBTA - posted 6/08)

TOUCH A TRAIN 2017: Touch A Train 2017, at Washington Junction Yard (Railroad Siding Road, Hancock, Maine) is Saturday, June 10th. If you are in the area, touring in Acadia, or just need an excuse to come visit the 470, please join in. The event begins at 09:00 and will run until about 1PM, when a special train of the Downeast Scenic Railroad will leave the yard. Remember, Maine Central 470 made it's final revenue run 63 years ago, that following week!
  • See 470 in it's new home.
  • See the preparation for the shop erection in progress.
  • Climb aboard Downeast Scenic's Diesel locomotives.
  • Blow the whistle and ring the bell!
  • Ride Downeast Scenic's restored Reading caboose!
  • Take chance on two outstanding H-O scale Maine Central locomotives, courtesy of Bowser Trains!
  • Talk with the New England Steam Corporation directors and get you questions answered, first hand!
  • Have a great time with railroad and historic preservationists. No cost to attend, explore, and watch your children's faces light up!
(New England Steam Corporation - posted 6/08)

CP’s ENHANCEMENTS TO SALES AND MARKETING TEAM CREATING OPPORTUNITIES, DRIVING GROWTH: With a focus on customer service and a willingness to identify and implement total transportation solutions, Canadian Pacific's (TSX: CP) (NYSE: CP) Sales and Marketing team is generating new opportunities and driving growth. "We have a proven operating model, the shortest routes in key markets, and are now making great strides in customer service," said Keith Creel, CP's President and CEO. "Over the last four years, a lot of work has been done to improve our cost structure and build a strong foundation for success. We are now well positioned to leverage CP's safe, highly efficient and low-cost transportation model." Building on the success of its grain franchise and the innovative Dedicated Train Program, the Sales and Marketing team is focused on strategic improvements across all lines of business, with one objective: leveraging the total transportation product. "We are now at an inflection point and are well positioned to grow the franchise, sell a competitive service and offer our customers a best-in-class, total transportation solution," said John Brooks, CP's Chief Marketing Officer. "CP delivers safely and efficiently from A to Z, but now by collaborating closely with our customers and actively listening, we better understand their needs and are taking action to strengthen our total product in the marketplace." Two recent initiatives highlight CP's innovative approach to enhancing its customer experience through offering a more reliable total product and extending its market reach:
  • CP is making the single largest purchase of gensets in railroad history with an order for 41 brand new gensets equipped with the latest telematics and most fuel efficient technology available in the marketplace, to be delivered throughout the remainder of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. Gensets are purpose built 40-foot containers that house two large generators capable of powering up to 17 refrigerated ocean-going containers. With this investment CP is expanding its protective and perishable service (PPS) product for its customers to serve a growing segment of the transportation market. CP's significant investment in gensets will allow it to launch more transcontinental genset train starts from the ports of Vancouver and Montreal than any other Class 1 railroad, providing CP customers the most frequent, reliable, and environmentally friendly PPS service on the market today, all supported by an unparalleled telematics package providing the assurance of real time cold-chain security.
  • A new "live" lift at Portal, North Dakota was successfully opened in May. Portal is the border crossing for CP's intermodal traffic moving between Western Canada and the U.S. Midwest. The new service allows CP to lift single containers off of trains for inspection by Canadian and U.S. authorities as opposed to having entire intermodal cars set-off, which could hold three or more containers. This investment will virtually eliminate non-targeted containers from being delayed at the border crossing.
CP will continue to use its competitive advantage via Vancouver, Canada's largest port of entry, leveraged by CP's shortest routes and its best-in-class service to the U.S. Midwest. "Simply put, we have fixed the engine and are now focused on sustainable growth and best serving our customers," Creel said. (CP, Randy Kotuby- posted 6/08)

WASHINGTON METRO TO RETIRE ALL 1000 AND 4000 SERIES RAILCARS BY JULY 1, MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE: Every 1000- and 4000-series railcar - Metro's oldest and least-reliable cars, respectively - will be decommissioned and permanently removed from passenger service by July 1, months ahead of original projections, Metro announced today. Under Metro's Back2Good program, announced earlier this year, Metro had accelerated the retirement of the 1000- and 4000-series railcars as new, more reliable 7000-series railcars arrive, resulting in improved service, fewer offloads and delays. New 7000-series cars are up to six times more reliable than the cars they are replacing, traveling more than 176,000 miles between delays in April. By contrast, Metro's least-reliable 4000-series cars traveled an average of only 27,259 miles between delays in 2016. "By retiring the last of our oldest and least reliable railcars, we will be in a much better position to deliver more reliable service for our customers," said Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. "We have already seen the positive results of this effort in the form of fewer railcar-related delays and fewer offloads." Replacing the 1000-series with safer 7000-series cars also responds to an open recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board. Since Metro began retiring problematic cars more than a year ago, the number of offloads has dropped by half, from an average of 120 per month during 2016 compared to only 62 offloads in April. In addition, customers are encountering fewer delays, nearly two thirds of which are caused by railcar mechanical issues. In May, more than 91 percent of the 13.6 million weekday trips taken on Metrorail arrived within 5 minutes of schedule. Metro currently has 43 new trains in passenger service (344 7000-series cars) and is receiving new cars at a rate of up to 20 per month. The transit system has purchased 748 new railcars in total. Metro is making available a number of decommissioned 4000-series railcars to emergency response agencies in the region for training purposes. In addition, a pair of Metro's original railcars, numbered 1000 and 1001, will be refurbished and preserved for historical purposes. (WMATA - posted 6/07)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR MAY AND THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 3, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 3, 2017, as well as volume for May 2017. U.S. railroads originated 1,286,075 carloads in May 2017, up 8.4 percent, or 99,290 carloads, over May 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,339,417 containers and trailers in May 2017, up 4.6 percent, or 58,665 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in May 2017 were 2,625,492, up 6.4 percent or 157,955 carloads and intermodal units over May 2016. "All things considered, May was a good month for rail traffic," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "Thirteen of the 20 commodity categories we track had higher carloads in May 2017 than in May 2016, including the four biggest categories — coal, chemicals, crushed stone and sand, and grain. Excluding coal, carloads in May were up 4.1%, their biggest monthly increase in more than two years, and May was the best intermodal month of the year." In May 2017, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with May 2016. These included: coal, up 19.6 percent or 64,059 carloads; grain, up 24.5 percent or 22,963 carloads; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 15.3 percent or 17,416 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in May 2017 from May 2016 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 16.5 percent or 9,365 carloads; primary forest products, down 12.1 percent or 742 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 3.8 percent or 3,419 carload. Excluding coal, carloads were up 4.1 percent, or 35,231 carloads, in May 2017 over May 2016. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first five months of 2017 was 5,633,477 carloads, up 6.8 percent, or 358,904 carloads, from the same period last year; and 5,779,098 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent, or 130,090 containers and trailers, from last year. Week Ending June 3, 2017 Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 17 weeks of 2017 was 8,787,083 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.9 percent compared to last year. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 500,192 carloads and intermodal units, up 9.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending June 3 were 252,853 carloads, up 12.7 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 247,339 containers and trailers, up 7 percent compared to 2016. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included grain, up 22.5 percent to 22,838 carloads; coal, up 21.5 percent to 82,523 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 19.2 percent to 35,850 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 were petroleum and petroleum products, down 5.5 percent to 9,183 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, down 4.6 percent to 8,615 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 1.4 percent to 15,195 carloads. For the first 22 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,633,477 carloads, up 6.8 percent from the same point last year; and 5,779,098 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 22 weeks of 2017 was 11,412,575 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.5 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending June 3, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 344,957 carloads, up 12.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 326,475 intermodal units, up 8.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 671,432 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 22 weeks of 2017 was 15,122,888 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.5 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 75,459 carloads for the week, up 13.4 percent, and 67,319 intermodal units, up 17.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 22 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,125,812 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,645 carloads for the week, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,817 intermodal units, up 1.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 22 weeks of 2017 was 584,501 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 6/07)

RTA OFFICIALS BREAK GROUND ON NEW CAMPUS STATION AT EAST 34TH STREET: Community leaders and officials of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) broke ground on a new station they plan to build on the site of the current station at 2820 East 34th St. It is called the Campus Station, because it is near the Tri-C Metro Campus. The station serves the Red Line, Green Line and Blue Line, as well as bus routes 15, 19 and 76. The total project budget is $7.5 million, with $6.0 million going to construction by the Panzica Construction Co(link is external). of Mayfield Village. Federal funds will cover about 80 percent of the construction cost. When completed in late 2018, the Campus Station will be ADA-compliant. It is expected to be a major boost to the Campus District(link is external) and the Opportunity Corridor(link is external). Instead of escalators and elevators, it will use an extended ramp design (RTA - posted 6/06)

AMTRAK TO OPERATE QUALIFYING TRAINS FOR NEW ROANOKE SERVICE: Amtrak, in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and Norfolk Southern, will begin operating non-scheduled trains on Monday, June 5. These trains serve as training for locomotive engineers and train conductors to learn the tracks and territory between Lynchburg and Roanoke. These trains will carry no passengers and are expected to operate two times per day, five days a week. Operating qualifying trains is an essential step toward completing the project to bring intercity passenger rail service to Roanoke in the fall. Amtrak Northeast Regional service will extend from Lynchburg to Roanoke and will operate one round-trip seven days per week. (Amtrak - posted 6/05)

AMTRAK TO ACCELERATE INFRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL AT NEW YORK PENN STATION: Amtrak is accelerating several years of planned improvements as part of the Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station, a series of major track and switch renewal projects that will strengthen the railroad infrastructure and improve operations and reliability at New York Penn Station. The major work will require Amtrak and its partners at the Long Island Rail Road and NJ TRANSIT to operate on a modified schedule from July 10 through Sept. 1, 2017. The work during this summer period will occur in "A Interlocking," which serves as the critical sorting mechanism routing incoming and outgoing trains that enter and exit Penn Station from the Hudson River tunnel and the LIRR's West Side Yard to the various tracks and platforms. The Renewal work is designed to address the reliability issues caused by significant growth in train volumes at New York Penn Station coupled with its aging infrastructure. (Amtrak - posted 6/05)

CSX ANNOUNCES PRELIMINARY VOTING RESULTS OF THE 2017 ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS: CSX Corporation (Nasdaq:CSX) today announced preliminary results of matters voted upon during its 2017 annual meeting of shareholders. Preliminary results of the voting at the annual meeting indicate that shareholders:
  • elected all 13 nominees to the board of directors named in the company’s proxy statement, with each nominee receiving at least 96 percent of the votes cast in favor of his or her election;
  • ratified the appointment of Ernst & Young LLP as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm for 2017, with at least 98 percent of the votes cast in favor;
  • approved an advisory resolution concerning compensation of CSX’s named executive officers, with at least 94 percent of the votes cast in favor;
  • voted in support of an advisory resolution on the frequency of future advisory votes on the compensation of the company’s named executive officers, with at least 89 percent of the votes cast in favor of annual future advisory votes; and
  • approved, on an advisory basis, the reimbursement arrangements sought in connection with the retention of E. Hunter Harrison as chief executive officer of CSX, with at least 93 percent of the votes cast in favor.
Directors who were elected to serve until the company’s 2018 annual meeting are Donna M. Alvarado, Sen. John B. Breaux, Pamela L. Carter, Steven T. Halverson, E. Hunter Harrison, Paul C. Hilal, Edward J. Kelly III, John D. McPherson, David M. Moffett, Dennis H. Reilley, Linda H. Riefler, J. Steven Whisler and John J. Zillmer (CSX - posted 6/05)

AMTRAK TO OPERATE QUALIFYING TRAINS FOR NEW ROANOKE SERVICE: Amtrak, in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and Norfolk Southern, will begin operating non-scheduled trains on Monday, June 5. These trains serve as training for locomotive engineers and train conductors to learn the tracks and territory between Lynchburg and Roanoke. These trains will carry no passengers and are expected to operate two times per day, five days a week. Operating qualifying trains is an essential step toward completing the project to bring intercity passenger rail service to Roanoke in the fall. Amtrak Northeast Regional service will extend from Lynchburg to Roanoke and will operate one round-trip seven days per week. (Amtrak - posted 6/05)

GENESEE & WYOMING COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF HEART OF GEORGIA RAILROAD: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) has announced that it has completed its acquisition of the shares of Atlantic Western Transportation, Inc., parent company of Heart of Georgia Railroad, Inc. (HOG). Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. HOG was founded in 1999 and operates across the state of Georgia on 219 miles of track leased from the Georgia Department of Transportation. It connects with G&W’s Georgia Southwestern Railroad at Americus, Ga., and with G&W’s Georgia Central Railway at Vidalia, Ga. HOG serves an inland intermodal terminal at Cordele, Ga., providing five-day/week, direct rail service via the Georgia Central Railway to the Port of Savannah for auto, agricultural products and other merchandise customers. HOG has Class I railroad connections with CSX at Cordele and with Norfolk Southern at Americus and Helena, Ga. HOG transports approximately 10,000 annual carloads of agricultural products, feed, fertilizer, and lumber and forest products, of which approximately 2,000 carloads are interchanged with G&W’s Georgia Central Railway. HOG will be managed as one of G&W’s Coastal Region railroads, led by Senior Vice President Andy Chunko. (G&W - posted 6/02)

GREENBRIER AND MITSUBISHI FINALIZE AGREEMENT FOR MORE THAN $1.0 BILLION IN RAILCAR BUSINESS IN NORTH AMERICA: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. and Tokyo-based MUL completed agreements to expand their existing commercial relationship in North America consistent with the parties' Memorandum of Understanding announced in April. MUL intends to grow its portfolio from 5,000 railcars to a total of 25,000 railcars over the next four years. As part of these growth plans, MUL has entered a multi-year purchase commitment for 6,000 newly-manufactured railcars from Greenbrier, with deliveries commencing during the fourth calendar quarter of 2017 and continuing through 2020. Further, MUL will obtain all its newly-manufactured railcars exclusively from Greenbrier through 2023. In addition to the new equipment ordered, over the next several years, MUL will supplement its portfolio growth through a combination of lease syndications and used equipment originated and owned by Greenbrier. The combined value of these transactions exceeds $1 billion. The parties have also formed MUL Greenbrier Management Services, LLC, a new railcar management services entity owned 50% by each company that will solely manage all railcars in the MUL fleet. Greenbrier will receive continuing fee income related to the ongoing railcar asset management services provided for the MUL fleet. "Greenbrier is pleased to extend its business relationship with MUL with these recently signed agreements and the formation of MUL Greenbrier Management Services. This expanded relationship with MUL demonstrates our earned reputation of providing tailored solutions to our customers. We take pride in the series of transactions we have completed with our friends at MUL and look forward to our continuing work together," said William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO. MUL President & CEO Tadashi Shiraishi said, "MUL has 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. We value Greenbrier's ability to build high-quality freight railcars and assist MUL with high-value railcar management services to support MUL's rapidly expanding fleet." (Greenbrier - posted 6/02)

SALLY LIBRERA APPOINTED CHIEF OFFICER, MTA STATEN ISLAND RAILWAY: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that Sally Librera, a longtime leader in MTA New York City Transit’s Department of Subways operations, has been appointed as Vice President and Chief Officer for Staten Island Railway. She is the first woman to lead Staten Island Railway. Librera’s appointment is effective immediately. She was most recently a Vice President for Subway Operations Support at NYC Transit, where her responsibilities included key operational support functions such as financial management, employee safety, administrative operations, workforce development and planning. She joined the MTA in 2004 as a transportation planner and advanced to leadership positions in logistics and employee development. At NYC Transit, she led technical training for Subways employees, including training programs for crews in rail car maintenance, service delivery, occupational safety, emergency response, and for technicians in the track, electrical and infrastructure departments. Her accomplishments at the Department of Subways included enhancing employee safety, streamlining administrative processes, identifying operational efficiencies, and implementing programs for employee development. “Sally’s leadership and experience in our Subways operations are huge assets to the operations of Staten Island Railway, in particular her extensive knowledge of the training that is critical to running every aspect of a transit system. The Staten Island Railway operates in a mix of suburban and urban environments that present unique challenges, but Sally’s successes at the Department of Subways show that she is well equipped for the job,” said MTA New York City Transit Acting President Darry C. Irick. Librera’s appointment to the leadership position at Staten Island Railway comes as the railway is in the midst of a major rebuilding effort after Superstorm Sandy severely damaged track infrastructure and critical facilities in 2012. SIR is building a new mechanical repair shop to replace the Clifton facility that was flooded during Sandy and upgrading the St. George interlocking to improve service reliability. The new Arthur Kill SIR station opened in January 2017 and became the MTA’s first newly constructed SIR station since the railway was incorporated into the MTA in 1971. The MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program includes $386 million of investments and improvements to SIR, such as the replacement of the car fleet and three new power substations to increase supply to the line, allowing for service flexibility and reliability. Capital investments also include rolling out countdown clocks at all SIR stations, track replacement, radio system enhancements, and station repairs. “This is an exciting time at Staten Island Railway, with New York State investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the modernization of the railway in every aspect of its operations, from new rail cars to updated power and track infrastructure and a new maintenance facility. I am thrilled to join the talented team at SIR and look forward to working with the community to ensure these investments yield significant improvements to service for our customers on Staten Island,” Librera said. Librera holds master’s degrees in urban planning and transportation engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in labor relations from Cornell University. Librera succeeds Douglas Connett, who retired in 2016 (MTA - posted 6/02)

RESTORED VINTAGE DASH-7 LOCOMOTIVE DISPLAYED AT GE TRANSPORTATION IN ERIE: Lake Shore Railway Historical Society, in cooperation with CSX Transportation and GE Transportation, announces that a restored CSX locomotive, “C&O #8272” or “Chessie Cat,” paused on its trip to Lake Shore Railway Museum to relive that moment in history when it rolled off the assembly shop floor. The Chessie Cat was interchanged by CSX into the Erie GE Transportation facility where it will be on private display for a short time, prior to being publicly displayed at the Lake Shore Railway Museum. The 1980 Erie-built General Electric B30-7 locomotive, CSX #5554 (retired in 2009), received cosmetic restoration to its ‘as-delivered’ C&O “Chessie Cat” paint scheme by the talented craftspeople of the CSX railroad shops in Huntington, WV. CSX donated the renamed C&O locomotive #8272 to Lake Shore Railway Historical Society where it will become part of the museum’s educational programming and display. At Lake Shore Railway Museum, operated by the Lake Shore Railway Historical Society volunteers, C&O #8272 will join seven (7) other GE locomotives in the “Locomotives that Dad & Grandpa Built Collection.” The Lake Shore Railway Historical Society’s “Locomotives that Dad & Grandpa Built Collection” is growing along the CSX mainline at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, PA. There may never be a more opportune or convenient a time as now to share a portion of that collection. Defying the adage that “you can’t go home again,” C&O #8272 was rolled into the Erie General Electric by East Erie Commercial Railroad #22, itself also a 1980 product of Erie General Electric. Ray Grabowski, Jr., of Lake Shore Railway Historical Society expressed his thanks to the entire GE family, past and present, who are ultimately the inspiration for the “Locomotives that Dad & Grandpa Built Collection” at North East, PA. GE Transportation of Erie, PA, and B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore, MD, assisted in the restoration of C&O #8272 by contributing historic paint records, logo/lettering information and paint chips. Plans to move C&O #8272 the final leg of its trip to Lake Shore Railway Museum where it will be publicly displayed and enjoyed are currently being finalized. (GE Transportation, Lake Shore Railway Historical Society - posted 6/01)

VIA RAIL REPORTS A STRONG FIRST QUARTER : VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail)reported strong results at the beginning of 2017. The company saw its ridership increase by 5.9% compared to the same period in 2016. Continuing the positive trend that began in the third quarter of 2014, the company closed the quarter with an 8.4% increase in passenger revenue. The increase allowed VIA Rail to reduce its requirement for government funding by 5.3% compared to the first quarter of 2016. Passengers travelled 10 million miles more in 2017, up from 2016 by 5.8%. “I’m pleased to say that the positive trend of the last three years has continued into 2017 with a strong first quarter,” said VIA Rail’s President and CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “We have been setting ambitious goals, and thanks to our customer-focused strategy and the hard work and dedication of all our employees, we have been consistently meeting and exceeding these targets. VIA Rail is dedicated to being part of Canada’s sustainable transportation system. By implementing concrete, affordable, and accessible solutions, we can encourage more Canadians to leave their cars at home and make VIA Rail their preferred choice for inter-city travel.”
  • Changing People’s Habits: VIA Rail’s award-winning “Why don’t you take the train?” marketing campaign continued in the first quarter with increased online presence around predicted winter storm days to promote the train as a smart choice for winter travel. The company and its partner CAA Québec also produced a video featuring Québecois comedian Pierre-Yves Lord that encouraged drivers to leave their cars at home and take the train during winter storms.
  • Celebrating Canada 150: As Canada’s national passenger rail carrier, VIA Rail is participating in a number of major initiatives throughout the year organized by several partners across Canada. These projects and events were selected based on their ability to bring Canadians together, promote our culture, and foster diversity. To celebrate our country’s 150th birthday, VIA Rail has wrapped a portion of its fleet in the Canada 150 colours. 22 locomotives, 18 passenger cars and the Glen Fraser lounge car have been decorated with the names of some of the cities that VIA Rail serves. Posters and banners were also hung in stations, inviting travellers to join in the festivities. Over the first quarter, VIA Rail organized a special train to bring media, athletes, spectators and contest winners to Red Bull Crashed Ice, a fast-paced ice cross competition held in downtown Ottawa. VIA Rail also joined forces with Ottawa 2017 and the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for the JUNO Awards weekend to bring over 450 nominees, musicians, media, music fans, sponsors, contest winners, and executives to Ottawa on board the JUNO Express. As part of its commitment to promote gender equality and female leadership, VIA Rail partnered with Equal Voice Canada in support of the provincial and national Daughters of the Vote Conference. In February, VIA Rail transported more than 50 young women to the National Assembly of Québec to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and reflect on how far women have come in government, and what still remains to be done. VIA Rail also created a Canada 150 Youth Pass, offering youth aged 12-25 (and full-time students with a valid ISIC card) unlimited travel across Canada for the month of July. As a result, this summer, over 4,000 young Canadians will get together to discover new places, create lasting memories, and share their national pride.
  • Innovating Mobility for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Sustainable mobility is an integral part of VIA Rail and how it conducts its business. Over the first quarter of 2017, VIA Rail made significant progress on projects that are aligned with its sustainable mobility pillars:
  • Supporting Socio-Economic Development: In collaboration with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, VIA Rail hosted a Citizenship ceremony at Union Station in Winnipeg to welcome 49 new citizens.
  • Reduce Environmental Impact: VIA Rail’sEnvironmental Management System (EMS) certification was renewed to the ISO 14001 international standard.
  • Be an Attractive Employer: As part of its committed to supporting psychological health and safety in the work place, the company started to offer Mental Health First Aid training from the Mental Health Commission of Canada to members of its Health & Safety Committees, Managers, Service Managers, Service Attendants and Station In-Charges.
  • Provide the Best Customer Experience: Based on customer and employee feedback,several improvements were made to menus in both Economy and Business class in the Québec City - Windsor corridor.
VIA Rail’s quarterly report is available to download at: viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/governance-and-reports/quarterly-reports (VIA Rail Canada - posted 6/01)

CSX AGAIN NAMED ONE OF AMERICA'S BEST EMPLOYERS BY FORBES MAGAZINE: For the third consecutive year, Forbes magazine has named CSX (Nasdaq:CSX) one of “America’s Best Employers,” according to the results of a nationwide survey on employee satisfaction. “Being recognized as one of the best employers in America is an honor and a reflection of CSX’s commitment to our talented team of employees,” said E. Hunter Harrison, president and chief executive officer. “Our employees take pride in their work and in their company, and their contributions are shaping a stronger CSX while providing excellent service to customers and vital support to our nation’s economy.” Forbes Media, in partnership with research firm Statista, interviewed 30,000 workers at 1,800 U.S. companies in a wide range of industries to determine what makes a company an employer of choice. Among the factors considered, CSX was ranked highly among employers with 5,000 or more workers that were most likely to be recommended by employees to family and friends. CSX takes pride in developing the best and brightest people and working together to meet the needs of customers. The company provides its diverse and proud workforce with challenging and meaningful career opportunities, best-in-class training and competitive pay and benefits to help CSX remain among the most desirable employers in America. (CSX. Randy Kotuby - posted 6/01)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCES GRANTS FOR POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL IMPLEMENTATION: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced the grant recipients who will receive $197 million in competitive grant funding to help commuter and intercity passenger railroads meet the December 31, 2018 deadline to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) systems to improve safety. The $197 million in PTC grant funding, authorized under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, will be provided to 17 projects in 13 states. The FRA and FTA received 27 eligible applications requesting $455 million, more than double the $197 million that Congress authorized. The FRA was responsible for the selection of the grant recipients, and the FTA will award and administer the grants during Fiscal Year 2017. “The number of passengers depending on rail has increased dramatically, which means PTC is needed now more than ever,” said Patrick Warren, FRA Executive Director. “This funding will get us closer to PTC implementation on some of the most significant railroads in the country that transport several million passengers to and from work every day.” PTC systems are designed to prevent certain train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and trains routed to the wrong tracks because a switch was left in the wrong position. The grants under this program will be used to install PTC technology, including back office systems and wayside, communications, and onboard hardware equipment associated with railroads’ PTC systems. “Millions of people rely on our nation’s commuter railroads and Positive Train Control will help ensure safe and reliable service,” said FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. “Today’s announcement means that commuter railroads can move forward with the implementation of an important rail safety feature.” Grants will be awarded in the amounts stated below to the following commuter railroads and state and regional transportation entities:
  • Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (JPB) – Calif.?$21.68 million to dual equip seven Caltrain trains with the Incremental Train Control System (ITCS) and Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) PTC systems for approximately 32 miles from south of San Jose to Gilroy, California, on Union Pacific Railroad (UP) territory by December 31, 2018. Caltrain trains will come to a full stop within Caltrain territory, deactivate the ITCS system, and then activate the I-ETMS system before proceeding onto the UP line. The project will upgrade the performance, operating efficiency, safety, and reliability of Caltrain’s commuter rail service, providing Peninsula communities with a modernized rail service that will help meet growing ridership demand.
  • Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) – Calif.?$3.2 million to develop, test, and deploy tools and processes to improve the reliability, efficiency, and security of SCRRA’s Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) PTC system, with an upgrade from a non-vital PTC system to a vital overlay system across 249 miles of rail line in the greater Los Angeles region of southern California. The vital overlay system will include additional encryption and physical firewalls to secure all data channels, along with a PTC data log analyzer tool to identify the cause of PTC system errors, cut-outs, and component failures. Security upgrades will focus on SCRRA’s Metrolink PTC network and primarily benefit its 46,000 daily commuter rail passengers and provide substantial benefit to the rail network’s users and other commuter railroads across the industry.
  • Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) – Fla.?$1.84 million to implement Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) PTC system along 110 miles of the Central Florida Rail Corridor (CFRC) in the Orlando, Florida region. The project components include a computer-aided dispatch system, track database, and communication network. Implementing I-ETMS will ensure the safety of nearly 1.3 million SunRail and Amtrak passengers on trains traversing CFRC each year as well as roadway workers in work zones. Since freight, commuter rail, and intercity rail service all use the CFRC, the implementation of I-ETMS will help reduce potential collisions between passenger and freight trains.
  • South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) – Fla.?$31.63 million to complete installing SFRTA’s Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) PTC system—which consists of wayside interface units, near side station controls, base radio stations, a back office server, on-board PTC kits, and a crew training simulator—on the South Florida Rail Corridor. SFRTA's 72-mile-long Tri-Rail commuter line runs through Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties, where Tri-Rail operates 50 weekday and 30 weekend passenger trains and rail safety will be improved for over 14,000 passengers per day. Additionally, CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSX) operates approximately 11 through and local freight trains per day, and Amtrak operates four trains per day and serves six Tri-Rail stations within the SFRC.
  • Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) – Ill.?$18.87 million to complete the design, delivery, installation, and testing of a fully integrated Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) PTC system on two routes for Amtrak’s use on 14.7 route miles of Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) right-of way in a dense urban area of St. Louis on both the Illinois and Missouri banks of the Mississippi River. Amtrak ridership figures for 2014 show 1,136,271 passengers pass through the St. Louis Station that would directly benefit from PTC system implementation on this rail line.
  • Regional Transportation Authority (Metra) – Ill. ?$20.2 million for three subprojects on Metra’s Commuter Rail Division to implement wayside PTC signals, reconfigure signals, and upgrade an existing PTC automatic block signaling systems on Metra’s Milwaukee District West (MD-W) and North (MD-N) lines in the Chicago, Illinois region. Metra’s commuter rail network is the fourth busiest in the country, with nearly 14 million passenger trips on the MD-W and MD-N lines each year. Each day, over 1,300 Metra, freight, and Amtrak trains operate in the region. Since they frequently share the same track, precise scheduling and close coordination among railroad partners are required to plan the complex interaction between these trains each day.
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) – Mass.?$7.82 million to install a back office system for MBTA’s PTC system that consists of an existing Cab Signaling System (CSS) with Automatic Train Control (ATC) supplemented by MBTA’s Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System II (ACSES II). Moving approximately 143,498 riders daily through 13 active lines, MBTA’s commuter rail system is the fifth busiest commuter railroad in the country. The service runs as far south as Providence, Rhode Island, as far north as Newburyport, Massachusetts and as far west as Worcester and Fitchburg, Massachusetts. This project is in partnership with Freight-Pan Am, CSX Transportation, Inc., Amtrak, and Keolis.
  • Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) – Md.?$9.44 million to install an Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) PTC system along Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) tracks in the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and equip 11 MARC 2A cab cars with I-ETMS onboard technology. The work will be on the Penn Line between Union Station in Washington, DC, and the northern limits of MARC service at Perryville, MD, over a total distance of approximately 77 directional miles where rail safety will be improved for 272,269 daily riders. In the Baltimore and Washington, DC region, this commuter rail service connects outlying communities to vital employment, education, and service centers.
  • Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) – Mo.?$12.02 million to design, install, and test a fully integrated and functional Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) PTC system over approximately 8.5 route miles of Kansas City Terminal (KCT) Railway right of way where Amtrak operates in the Kansas City metropolitan region of Missouri. The project will implement wayside and communications PTC equipment that provide fail-safe responses to the loss of communication data, along with an integrated back-office system capable of providing interoperability for all tenant railroads. Since the project’s geographic reach covers one of the most congested rail hubs in the U.S., the safety improvements will significantly affect over 92,000 trains per year, including six daily passenger trains with approximately 552,000 riders per year.
  • New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) – N.J.?$10 million to implement NJ Transit's PTC Phase III, which involves the purchase of onboard equipment kits and the installation, testing, and commissioning of the PTC equipment on a total of 440 locomotives, electric mobile units, and cab cars. NJ Transit is the nation's third largest provider of bus, rail, and light rail transit. PTC will be deployed across NJ Transit’s 11 commuter rail lines, along 326 route miles where rail safety will be improved for approximately 400,000 passengers per work day and 250,000 passengers on the weekends. To address interoperability issues and develop formal procedures for seamless train movements across different railroads, NJ Transit will partner with Amtrak, Norfolk Southern Railway, and Conrail.
  • Rio Metro Regional Transit District (Rio Metro) – N.M.?$3.6 million for the New Mexico Rail Runner Express’s (Rail Runner) PTC project, including installation of Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) PTC onboard technology on nine Rail Runner locomotives. PTC technology will provide safety benefits for two major rail lines where Rail Runner operates along the 22-mile-long Santa Fe Subdivision and shares tracks with Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) along the 98-mile-long Albuquerque Subdivision. In 2015, Rail Runner carried 931,324 passengers; Albuquerque and Lamy Amtrak stations served 77,532 and 12,390 passengers, respectively; and BNSF shipped 97,840,154 gross ton-miles of freight on the Albuquerque Subdivision.
  • New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) – N.Y.?$33.75 million to implement the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) PTC system on the Amtrak-controlled section of the Empire Corridor Hudson Line, a federally designated high-speed rail corridor that spans multiple jurisdictions along its 94 miles from Poughkeepsie to Hoffman, New York. A full PTC system will be constructed, along with all hardware, software, and databases required for the ACSES system. Implementing PTC on the Hudson Line—where passenger trains operate at speeds up to 110 mph, ridership is over 1.7 million passengers per year, and 30 trains operate over the territory daily—will result in a more reliable, secure rail system.
  • Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) – Ore. ?$1.2 million to install and test PTC equipment on two Talgo Series 8 trainsets owned by ODOT and operated by Amtrak for the regional Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail service connecting Eugene, Oregon, to Vancouver, British Columbia. The Amtrak Cascades operates on the shared freight rail tracks of the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor, one of 11 designated high-speed rail corridors. The corridor carries approximately 35 freight trains, including those with hazardous material cargo, which interact with 16 Amtrak passenger rail trains and 14 Sound Transit commuter trains that use the route every day. With this project, transportation safety will be improved for over 500,000 passengers per year using Amtrak Cascades.
  • Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) – Ore.?$2.7 million to implement two Enhanced Automatic Train Control (E-ATC) PTC system safety modifications on the 15-mile-long Westside Express commuter rail corridor from Wilsonville to Beaverton, Oregon. The first modification will stop a train in advance of a malfunctioning grade crossing, and the second modification will stop a train prior to a work zone or limit speed throughout the work zone. TriMet is a tenant on the corridor shared with Portland and Western Railroad, a Class III freight railroad that serves as the host railroad for PTC implementation. Currently, TriMet commuter trains operate 32 trips each weekday, with over 476,000 passengers per year that will benefit from the safety improvements.
  • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) – Pa.?$5.8 million to install SEPTA’s Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System II (ACSES II) PTC system along a three-mile portion of restored Regional Rail service from Elwyn to Wawa, Pennsylvania, and deploy onboard survey map software that contains the physical characteristics of the railroad and dictates train-operating speeds throughout SEPTA’s rail network. The onboard survey map software will be installed on SEPTA’s 360 rail cars, which serve a 2,200 square mile area—including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania; Mercer County in New Jersey; and New Castle County in Delaware. As a result, the project will directly enhance the safety of the 130,000 daily riders on the SEPTA Regional Rail System, as well as other users of the Northeast Corridor.
  • Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) – Texas?$9.76 million to install the PTC fiber communications network for an Enhanced Automatic Train Control (E-ATC) PTC system on approximately 33 miles of Capital Metro's commuter rail territory, which connects Downtown Austin, Texas with Austin’s northern suburbs and serves nine stations. All components of the PTC system will use proven components and subsystems on the commuter portion of Capital Metro’s alignment. The project will provide improved transportation safety for over 2,600 Capital Metro Red Line passengers per day, as well as two tenant freight railroads, Austin and Western Railroad and Austin and Texas Central Railroad. The 81 highway-rail grade crossings along the Red Line will also benefit from the deployment of PTC, since the included crossing malfunction identification equipment allows for quicker response times for issues with roadway-rail crossing signals.
  • Utah Transit Authority (UTA) – Utah ?$3.52 million to design and test a two-step No-Code Proceed system to assure the safe operation of UTA’s FrontRunner Enhanced Automated Train Control (E-ATC) PTC system on its two mainline track segments from Provo to Ogden and Ogden to Pleasant View, Utah. The system will prevent a single point of failure for any movement of a train through a work zone or malfunctioning grade crossing when the system has imposed a positive stop. The project also includes onboard modifications to locomotives, vital software required to ensure that E-ATC functions on UTA’s upgraded system, integration testing, and a locomotive operator simulator. As a major provider of transportation within the Salt Lake Valley, UTA will be proving safer commuter rail service for over 4.6 million passengers per year using a fleet of 18 locomotives, 31 coaches (Bombardier and Comet), and 22 Bombardier cab cars. Additionally, safety will be improved for tenant freight railroads, such as Union Pacific Railroad, that operate on short sections of the FrontRunner system mainline.
(USDOT- posted 6/01)

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

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

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



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