` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine







Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
June 22, 2017:


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 n). (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)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEKN ENDING MAY 27, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 27, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 548,103 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending May 27 were 266,564 carloads, up 8 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,539 containers and trailers, up 5.4 percent compared to 2016. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included grain, up 26.9 percent to 24,740 carloads; coal, up 25.3 percent to 82,481 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 11.4 percent to 39,421 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 19.7 percent to 9,857 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, down 6.7 percent to 10,365 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 6.2 percent to 17,720 carloads. For the first 21 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,380,624 carloads, up 6.5 percent from the same point last year; and 5,531,759 intermodal units, up 2.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 21 weeks of 2017 was 10,912,383 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending May 27, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 360,141 carloads, up 9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 356,840 intermodal units, up 6.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 716,981 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 21 weeks of 2017 was 14,451,456 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.3 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 75,985 carloads for the week, up 16.1 percent, and 63,564 intermodal units, up 12.5 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 21 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,983,034 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,592 carloads for the week, down 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,737 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 21 weeks of 2017 was 556,039 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.1 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 6/01)

MBTA'S NEW BOSTON LANDING STATION: The Baker-Polito Administration, state transit and local elected officials, and New Balance executives celebrated the ribbon-cutting of the new $20-million Boston Landing Commuter Rail Station, privately financed by New Balance, and restoring commuter rail service to the Allston-Brighton community for the first time since the 1960s, effective for riders on Monday, May 22. The ceremony was attended by Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board Members Steven Poftak and Monica Tibbits-Nutt, MBTA Chief Administrator and Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve, MBTA Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville, Keolis Commuter Services General Manager and CEO David Scorey, Representative Michael Moran, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, New Balance Chairman Jim Davis, and other state and local officials and private partner executives. “The opening of Boston Landing Station highlights a successful collaboration between the state, city, and New Balance to expand development and transit opportunities for the Allston-Brighton community,” said Governor Baker. “Rewarding projects such as this one spur local economic development and community growth as we continue to prioritize investments that make our public transit system more reliable for riders.” The station, located adjacent to the Massachusetts Turnpike on Guest Street, will be the seventeenth on the MBTA Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail Line, which has undergone additional infrastructure improvements, including restored double-tracking and the replacement of more than 50,000 rail ties, to increase performance reliability and reduce heat-related speed restrictions. The MBTA's private Commuter Rail operator and partner Keolis Commuter Services helps to identify infrastructure upgrades and implements many of these enhancements throughout the network in close coordination with the MBTA. “Strong public and private partnerships are working together to improve reliability and transit options for the communities served by this line and the whole system,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “The addition of Boston Landing Station, along with infrastructure and schedule improvements, will help deliver greater performance for residents and employees of this neighborhood, and all along the Framingham/Worcester Line.” Construction of the $20-million station began in October 2015 and was financed by New Balance, who will continue to pay for all maintenance costs of the station for the first ten years of its service. A successful example of public-private partnerships and transit-oriented development, Boston Landing Station comes as part of the 15-acre, 2.15 million square foot Boston Landing Development site, which will at full build-out include new office, lab, retail, restaurant and open space, a 295-unit mixed-use residential complex, a 175-room hotel and the practice facilities of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics. Significant improvements to local public roadway and infrastructure are also planned. “Skanska is proud to have served NB Development and the MBTA to construct the new Boston Landing train station, and to deliver sustainable, efficient infrastructure that matches the aesthetic appeal of New Balance’s world headquarters campus,” said Vice President of Operations at Skanska USA Paul Pedini, who leads the firm’s civil practice throughout New England. “Unique to construction companies in the Boston marketplace, we were able to combine our complex building management capabilities and MBTA-prequalified self-perform heavy civil expertise to safely complete this project, while facilitating the commuter and freight rail needs of the Framingham/Worcester Line.” “MBTA and MassDOT, with the support of Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito, are committed to collaborating with external partners such as New Balance in order to provide the public with transit options,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Pollack. “Boston Landing Station is an example of a private-public partnership that will generate jobs, encourage mass transit use, and serve as a catalyst for more economic activity in this neighborhood.” “As Boston continues to grow and thrive, we need transportation that matches our City’s needs,” said Mayor Walsh. “Boston Landing is a big step for transportation in our City, and a big day for Allston-Brighton. I'd like to thank the Commonwealth and New Balance for making this public-private partnership possible.” The station features a high-level, canopied single platform centered between the eastbound and westbound tracks and includes accessible, redundant elevators and ramps. The Station is designed to provide easy access for employees, visitors, and residents of the Boston Landing development and surrounding Allston-Brighton neighborhood. “We’re excited for the completion of Boston Landing Station and to open it to the Allston-Brighton community,” said MBTA Acting General Manager Shortsleeve. “Through this public-private partnership and the use of pre-existing rail infrastructure, we’re able to provide a new transit option that makes it easier than ever for people to travel to and from downtown Boston.” “Boston Landing is the latest example of how public-private partnerships can enhance the Commuter Rail offering for our passengers and benefit the community,” said Keolis Commuter Services General Manager and CEO Scorey. “Together with the MBTA, we look forward to continuing to dedicate resources and time to further improve both reliability and convenience. This includes initiatives such as the creation of this new station and other improvements and upgrades across the network that will help make the Commuter Rail an even more attractive option for people in the greater Boston area.” Six morning peak hour inbound trains and six afternoon peak hour outbound trains will stop at Boston Landing Station Monday through Friday and trains running on Saturday and Sunday will make station stops. Trips between Boston Landing and South Station are a Zone 1A fare, $2.25 for a one-way ticket and $84.50 for a monthly pass. (MBTA - posted 6/01)

PENNSY OFFICIALS CELEBRATE MONTOUR TRAIL AS TRAIL OF THE YEAR WITH RIBBON CUTTING, GROUND BREAKING FOR NEW SEGMENT: To celebrate the Montour Trail in Allegheny and Washington counties as the state's 2017 Trail of the Year, Wolf Administration officials today joined members of the Montour Trail Council to cut a ribbon and break ground for new trail segments. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, council members and partners on the trail in South Park Township to officially open the newly completed Library Viaduct, which crosses over Route 88 and the Port Authority of Allegheny County light rail tracks, and to break ground for a segment that will continue eastward from Pleasant St. to Wood St. "Trails connect communities and destinations to each other; people to the outdoors and healthy exercise; and attract visitors who spend money," Dunn said. "The Montour Trail is a shining example of all of these connections, with user numbers that surpass 400,000 each year and a path that ties together the Pittsburgh International Airport, the Great Allegheny Passage and numerous communities along the way." The Trail of the Year designation is coordinated by DCNR's Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee to elevate public awareness of the thousands of miles of trails available for public enjoyment in Pennsylvania. DCNR has a goal of a trail within 15 minutes of every Pennsylvanian and is working with partners to close a list of the top ten gaps in trail systems throughout the commonwealth. "To truly accomplish community development on the local level takes the understanding and utilization of assets such as the Montour Trail," Davin said. "Enhancements like these succeed in filling in trail gaps and further the work being done to help make fun and interesting places to live, which is vital to the development of healthy and thriving communities." Both Dunn and Davin noted the negative impacts to trails and tourism that a House GOP-proposed budget would have, including the potential to eliminate the trails program and related grants, as well as the damaging impacts to the state's economy if tourism marketing continues to remain underfunded. The 63-mile Montour Trail system occupies the right of way of the former Montour Railroad and Peters Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Coraopolis and Clairton in suburban Pittsburgh, making it one of the nation's longest non-motorized suburban rail-trails. The Montour Trail Council was created in 1989 to oversee the construction, maintenance, and operation of the Montour Trail. "DCNR's Trail of the Year award is a great honor," said Montour Trail Council president Ned Williams. "But the praise we treasure the most comes from the host communities that appreciate the Montour Trail's presence, and from the local residents and visiting tourists who demonstrate their enjoyment of the trail by using it." The all-volunteer organization relies on volunteers, friends groups, community organizations and numerous other partners to keep the trail in excellent condition. The 98-year-old, 506-foot-long Library Viaduct was part of the Montour Railroad, which primarily transported coal until its abandonment in 1978. The Montour Trail Council combined federal, state, and foundation dollars with its own resources to rehabilitate the viaduct and the trail connection to Pleasant St. At Pleasant St., the trail is directly adjacent to the Port Authority of Allegheny County's light rail station, allowing commuters to walk or ride a bike on the trail to meet a carpool and enabling trail enthusiasts to reach the trail from Pittsburgh by public transit. The new 0.6-mile segment will eliminate a trail gap that currently requires a detour onto a busy road. The Montour Trail connects with Pittsburgh International Airport, the Panhandle Trail, and the Great Allegheny Passage that stretches about 336 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. For more information on the Montour Trail, visit www.montourtrail.org . (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - posted 6/01)

PROSPECT AVENUE R STATION TO CLOSE FOR MAJOR RENOVATION: The Prospect Av station on the r line in Brooklyn is scheduled to close on Monday, June 5, as MTA New York City Transit advances its new “Enhanced Station Initiative,” which will modernize and upgrade more than 30 stations throughout the subway system. Prospect Av is the third r station along Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn to temporarily close in both directions to accommodate an extensive overhaul of the station. Bay Ridge Av r closed on Saturday, April 29, and the 53 St r station closed on March 27, with work expected to be completed within six months at each station. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is spending $72 million on the renovations at these three stations. The “Enhanced Station Initiative” will renovate subway stations with modern technology, enhanced customer amenities and better wayfinding with new entrances with canopies and electronic display screens, brighter lighting on platforms, and other elements such as benches or leaning bars. MTA New York City Transit plans to overhaul more than 30 stations across the subway system, some of which are more than a century old, and to redesign them for better wayfinding and customer flow. “Once the renovations at Prospect Av are complete in fall 2017 and all three stations are fully reopened, this first group of upgraded stations will show customers that these temporary closures were well worth the wait. The stations will have amenities that our customers use every day, which means everyone who takes the subway in those communities can reap the benefits of improved features like redesigned wayfinding and brighter, more comfortable platform environments,” said New York City Transit Acting President Darryl Irick. During the Prospect Av station closure, customers can use nearby r stations such as 4 Av-9 St or 25 St by taking the B37 or B63 buses. B37 customers (days/evenings) going to the 4 Av-9 r station can walk to the bus stop at Third Avenue at 20th Street or Third Avenue at 15th Street. Customers going to 25 St r can walk to bus stops at Third Avenue at 14th Street or Third Avenue at 21st Street. Both r stations also can be reached via the B63 bus (all hours), with stops at Fifth Avenue and Prospect Avenue and Fifth Avenue at 18th Street. MTA New York City Transit staff will closely monitor these alternative routes and make service adjustments if needed. MTA New York City Transit is using a single-contractor design-build method to cut construction time and save money. The contractor, Citnalta-Forte Joint Venture, was awarded the contract in late 2016 for the overhaul, which includes infrastructure work such as concrete and steel repairs; new platform edges; waterproofing; track wall and platform wall repairs; new granite flooring; new stair finishes; glass barriers in station mezzanines; new LED lighting; and improved station signage. Other work will include:
  • Station entrances: All entrances will be refurbished and receive new handrails, stair treads, wall tiles, totems and digital screens providing real-time service information at the street level before customers enter the station. Canopies will be installed at select key entrances.
  • Turnstile areas: Walls and ceilings will be repaired, and new granite flooring, informational dashboards and glass barriers will be installed.
  • Mezzanines and platforms: LED light fixtures for brighter, more secure areas will be installed, along with security cameras and Help Point Intercoms. Digital screens for real-time arrival information and informational dashboards will be installed. Customer amenities include new station art; electronics charging stations built into station furnishings; new platform edges, and new benches and leaning bars.
The “Enhanced Station Initiative” project is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s robust package of enhancements and capital investments to improve reliability, capacity and the customer experience inside stations. These stations will have Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, intuitive wayfinding, and other features that customers will see or use on their daily commutes. (MBA - posted 6/01)

AMTRAK ANNOUNCES SCHEDULE CHANGES TO SPEED INTRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL AT NEW YORK PENN STATION: Amtrak is announcing preliminary schedules as part of the Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station, a series of major track and switch renewal projects that will strengthen railroad infrastructure, operations and preparedness and, ultimately improve reliability at America’s busiest rail hub. “Amtrak is accelerating its work to improve conditions and reliability of the tracks at Penn Station during the summer,” said Amtrak President & CEO Wick Moorman. “While we regret that this work requires some reduction in train service and disruption to passengers over the summer months, we believe it will ultimately be worth the investment in terms of increased reliability of passenger rail travel. In addition, while Amtrak’s own service at Penn Station will face the largest impact of the three railroads in terms of proportional reductions in train service during the work period, we will use all the tools we can, such as lengthening trains, to continue to provide capacity for our intercity travelers going to or from New York.” Amtrak Schedule The following service adjustments have been made to Amtrak’s weekday schedule, in effect from July 10 – Sept. 1:
  • Acela Express: No changes
  • Northeast Regional Service: Three round trip trains (six total trains) between New York City and Washington, D.C. canceled. Service between New York City and Boston will operate at currently scheduled levels
  • Keystone Service: Three round trip trains (six total trains) will start and end in Philadelphia, and one round trip train (two total trains) will start and end at Newark, New Jersey. Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg will operate at currently scheduled levels.
  • Empire Service: To be announced shortly.
  • Long-Distance Service: The Crescent, operating between New York City and New Orleans, will originate and terminate in Washington, D.C. daily during work period. Connections will be provided on other Northeast Corridor trains.
Amtrak’s reservation systems have been updated to reflect these schedule changes and any passenger already booked on a train that has been canceled or altered will be contacted and accommodated on other scheduled services. Infrastructure Renewal at Penn Station: The Infrastructure Renewal work accelerates several years of already planned improvement of track, switch and other infrastructure at Penn Station to improve track conditions. The major work will require Amtrak and its partners to operate on a modified schedule from July 10 – 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 station tracks and platforms. The work in A Interlocking includes total track and switch replacement. This work is presently fully-funded. Additional work will last through approximately June 2018, with most of it taking place on weekends, resulting in minimal impacts to service. While the plan is designed to renew overused and aging infrastructure, overall improvement in reliability of Penn Station will require a commitment from all of the users of Penn Station, the Administration and Congress to provide investment in the Northeast Corridor and to fund the Gateway Program’s Hudson Tunnel project and the expansion of Penn Station. The Renewal work is designed to address the reliability issues caused by the significant growth in train volumes at New York Penn Station coupled with its aging infrastructure. There has been an almost 3 million passenger increase in just over 10 years. More than 10.4 million intercity passengers annually; more than 450,000 intercity and commuter rail passenger trips daily; and more than 1,300 train movements per weekday travel through Penn Station.

MTA ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF THE MTA GENIOUS TRANSIT CHALLENGE: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced the launch of the "MTA Genius Transit Challenge," an international competition seeking groundbreaking and innovative solutions to increase the capacity and improve the reliability of New York City's subway service. The competition will challenge participants to find solutions for the system that can be implemented quickly and efficiently. The status quo and industry standards currently take too long to implement and cannot improve service as expeditiously as is needed. The competition will begin June 29 with a conference at the City College of New York's Great Hall. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced his intention to give three $1 million “genius” awards, paid by New York State for the best ideas in each of three categories. Competitors will be presented with the issues, current solutions and best practices and will be judged by an expert panel of technology and transportation experts in each of three categories:
  • How to Improve the New York City Subway’s Signal System: To address the aging signal system in a faster and more efficient way to enable the MTA to expand the number of trains per hour during peak periods;
  • How to Bring Better Subway Cars to the System: To address the subway system’s aging cars. Strategies can include the refurbishment of current subway cars, upgrading existing systems, better maintenance programs/protocols, and faster delivery of new cars;
  • How to Increase Communications Connectivity in Subway Tunnels: To design communications technology for cellular and WiFi connectivity that can be installed throughout the entire subway system including tunnels.
“Governor Cuomo challenged the MTA to look far and wide for solutions to the systemic problems that have plagued our subway system for years and to reimagine traditional solutions to reduce delays and relieve overcrowding,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “This challenge is accepted and wholly embraced by the MTA.” The expert panel that will judge the competition and help guide participants including engineers, thought leaders, and experts who have developed significant expertise in wireless technology, manufacturing, business and railroad operation. Representatives from New York City and the surrounding region will also participate in judging the competition. The MTA Genius Transit Challenge panelists will include:
  • Sarah Feinberg, Former Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration: Ms. Feinberg led the Federal Railroad Administration from January 2015 to January 2017. She previously served as Chief of Staff to United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, managing DOT’s ten modal organizations, and spearheading its legislative, policy and communications efforts. Prior to her service at USDOT, Ms. Feinberg served in the White House, on Capitol Hill, and worked in the tech industry.
  • Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean and Vice Provost, Cornell Tech: Mr. Huttenlocher is the Founding Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech, where he has overall responsibility for the new campus, including the academic quality and direction of the campus' degree programs and research. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Amazon Inc., Corning Inc. and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
  • Charles Phillips, CEO, Infor; Former Co-President and Director, Oracle: Mr. Phillips is CEO of prominent NYC-based software company Infor. Prior to Infor, Mr. Phillips was President of Oracle Corporation and a member of its Board of Directors. Mr. Philips previously served as Managing Director in Technology Group at Morgan Stanley.
  • Kristina Johnson, Chancellor-elect, SUNY: Dr. Kristina M. Johnson is the 13th chancellor of SUNY, the largest comprehensive system of public higher education in the United States. Dr. Johnson is an inventor and entrepreneur who holds 118 U.S. and international patents.
  • Greg Brown, Chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions: Mr. Brown is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Motorola Solutions, where he has led the company for a decade. He serves as chair of the Rutgers University Board of Governors, chair of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future and chair of the committee on Immigration Reform of the Business Roundtable.
  • Nick Grossman, General Manager, Union Square Ventures: Mr. Grossman is General Manager at Union Square Ventures, where he explores new investments, works with USV's portfolio companies on trust, safety and security issues, and leads USV's efforts on public policy, regulatory and civic issues. Previously, he led an incubator for startups at the intersection of cities and data at OpenPlans. Nick has a degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University.
  • Eliot Horowitz, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, MongoDB: Mr. Horowitz is the CTO and Co-Founder of MongoDB. He wrote the core code base for MongoDB starting in 2007, and subsequently built the engineering and product teams. Prior to MongoDB, he co-founded and built ShopWiki, a groundbreaking online retail search engine.
  • Balaji Prabhakhar, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stanford University: Mr. Prabhakhar is a professor in the departments of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University, where research focuses on the design, analysis, and implementation of data networks: both wireline and wireless. He has led the development of industry standards for computer network congestion management, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Future Urban Mobility Initiative of the World Economic Forum.
  • The Challenge The New York City subway system operates 665 miles of track, 24 lines, and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Demand for service is at historic levels with ridership of 6 million people per day. 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 Signal System The existing fixed-block signal system was designed over a century ago and now requires constant repair and is increasingly less reliable. The current $29.5 billion MTA Capital Plan includes more than $2.75 billion for signals, with more than $1 billion for installation of Communication Based Train Control. Other signalization investments include roughly $850 million to modernize six signal interlockings and $250 million to upgrade conventional signals. The improvement in signalization is designed to increase the number of trains at peak periods. This competition is seeking to accelerate the implementation of these solutions to bring better and more reliable signal service to the system faster.
  • Subway Cars Subway car doors open and close roughly 7 million times daily – and doors are the primary cause of car-related failures. Currently, the fastest a new car can be built is three years. The MTA is expediting the delivery of 300 new R179 subway cars with the first arriving fall 2017 and delivery to be completed by September 2018. Additionally, New York City Transit will accelerate the delivery of 450 new R211 cars. The car renovation project is looking for strategies to get more new subway cars faster, or refurbish existing cars to increase reliability, prevent breakdowns, and reduce delays. The MTA's recently announced six-point plan tackles frequent issues that cause disruption to service and discomfort to riders – including stuck doors, master controller systems, and heating and air conditioning. The transit system needs a more comprehensive, diagnostic data-driven approach that allows for predictive maintenance rather than corrective maintenance.
  • Communications and Connectivity in Subway Tunnels The MTA succeeded in delivering cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity to every station in the system by the end of last year. However, connectivity in subway tunnels is still unavailable. Subway tunnels are narrow, which presents challenges in running cable and other necessary Wi-Fi equipment. Standard industry strategies would require completely shutting down train service to install Wi-Fi in tunnels.
The development of an alternative plan is a key concern of this challenge. For information about how to participate, visit www.ny.gov/MTAGeniusTransitChallenge (MTA - posted 5/31)

SEPTA BOARD APPROVES MAJOR SOLAR PROJECT: The SEPTA Board today unanimously authorized installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at four bus and rail shops across the City of Philadelphia. The project is SEPTA's biggest solar initiative, and when finished, will represent one of the largest installations in the city. The selected vendor, SunVest Solar, Inc., will finance, own, design, install, operate and maintain the roof-mounted PV systems for 20 years. The project team includes Solar States, a Philadelphia-based solar installation and education firm. The project is a key initiative of SEPTA's recently approved second-generation Sustainability Program Plan, SEP-TAINABLE 2020, which includes a goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from SEPTA's operations and facilities by 20 percent by 2020. "SEPTA is proud to step into a position of leadership among Philadelphia businesses in the strategic deployment of renewable energy on our system," said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon. "This project thoughtfully leverages an existing asset - roof space at maintenance facilities - to make SEPTA's ongoing operations cleaner and more efficient." Arrays of solar panels will be installed at four maintenance locations, each with large flat roofs that are well-suited to host a system for the 20-year period:
  • 2nd & Wyoming (Bus Maintenance, Print & Sign Shop)
  • Fern Rock (Rail Shop for Broad Street Line)
  • Callowhill (Bus Maintenance)
  • Roberts (Rail Shop for Regional Railcars)
SEPTA's solar project will total 3.1 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity - the second largest ever in the City of Philadelphia," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "The project will increase the total installed capacity of solar PV systems across the City by more than 30 percent. "For years, SEPTA has been reducing energy consumption and emissions through initiatives such as hybrid-electric bus acquisition and LED lighting installation," Knueppel added. "This solar project, along with other exciting new initiatives such as a new fleet of battery-electric buses to arrive this fall, demonstrates SEPTA's enduring commitment to environmental improvement." "The City of Philadelphia applauds SEPTA for taking a proactive step to integrate renewables into its energy portfolio," said Mayor James Kenney. "This project supports the City's Greenworks visions around clean energy, reduced carbon pollution, and job creation in the local clean energy economy. Public transportation is already one of the best ways that Philadelphians can reduce their own environmental impact, and with this project, SEPTA continues to lead on sustainability." (SEPTA - posted 5/31)

NJ TRANSIT BOARD AWARDS CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT FOR PORTAL BRIDGE PROJECT NJ TRANSIT has taken another step toward improving service reliability on the Northeast Corridor by moving forward with the Portal Bridge North Project and entering into an early action construction contract award. At Board of Directors’ meeting, the Board authorized a vote to enter into an early action contract with PKF-Mark III Inc., of Newtown, Pa., for the amount of $14.5 million, plus five percent for contingencies, subject to the availability of funds. “The Board of Directors has chosen to enter into an early action contract with a vendor to help move the Portal Bridge North project to the next milestone,’’ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “This is a critical step forward in improving service reliability for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak customers along the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor.’’ The Early Action Construction project includes the realignment of a 138kV transmission pole, the installation of new fiber optic cable poles, the construction of a construction access structure known as a finger pier, the construction of a steel bridge structure over the Jersey City Municipal Utility Authority water main, and the construction of a retaining wall just west of the Frank R. Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction. The Portal Bridge is a two-track movable swing span railroad bridge over the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus in Hudson County and was constructed more than a century ago. The bridge, owned by Amtrak, is a critical link on the Northeast Corridor. Delays due to bridge failures, maintenance and reduced operational speeds have made replacement of the bridge critical to maintaining and improving passenger rail service into Manhattan. “The award of this contract is an important milestone for the replacement of the existing Portal Bridge, a key part of the Gateway Program’s first phase,” said Gateway Program Development Corporation Trustee Rich Bagger. The Gateway Program Development Corporation is an agency that has been established to guide the project to completion. “The New Jersey/NJ TRANSIT commitment to advancing this early work will ensure that the Gateway Program stays on track to reach our goal of delivering much needed improvements to the commuters and travelers along the Northeast Corridor.” The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has approved a project to both replace the existing bridge and expand capacity in the Corridor by constructing a new parallel span north of the existing structure. The two-track replacement bridge, known as Portal Bridge North, is designed as a high-level fixed span bridge eliminating the movable component and risk of malfunction. “With this action, the long overdue Portal Bridge North replacement is underway. We have not a minute to lose on this urgently needed project and today’s news is another demonstration of how a Federal-Local partnership can eliminate this single point of failure,’’ said John Porcari, interim executive director of the Gateway Program Development Corp. The project will greatly improve service reliability for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak trains. This Early Action construction phase will support the acceleration of the Portal Bridge North construction schedule. In October 2015, NJ TRANSIT was notified that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) had awarded $16 million under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program. This $16 million grant will be matched with $4 million from the Transportation Trust Fund, which will be used to support the Early Action Construction work contemplated in this authorization. Work is expected to begin in July and is anticipated to be completed by the first-quarter of 2019. (NJ Transit - posted 5/31)

SELKIRK HUMP CLOSING CSX has announced plans to close hump classification at Selkirk Yard, near Albany, N.Y. Management has calculated that the cost of hump classification is to expensive. The railroad will continue flat switching at Selkirk, with one switcher crew, each, at the east and west ends of the yard. These switch crews will be going to two man crews, an engineer and conductor. All remote control switching of the yard will cease. (posted 5/15)

VIA RAIL REPORTS OUTSTANDING GROWTH FOR THE THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) reported record results today for 2016. The positive trend observed since May 2014 continues as the company closed the year with a 4.1% increase in ridership compared to 2015. Passenger revenues also showed a year-over-year improvement, increasing by 9.5% compared to the previous year, which can be partially attributed to the fact that more travellers chose VIA Rail for longer trips. In 2016, VIA Rail carried almost 4 million passengers, who travelled 858 million miles. A Record Breaking Year VIA Rail posted performance records throughout 2016, contributing to its unprecedented year-end results. It outperformed its 2015 results over all long weekends including Easter, Victoria Day, Civic Holiday, and Labour Day. The company hit record highs for ridership during the summer when it welcomed more than 926,000 passengers on board its trains, an increase of 4.8 per cent compared to summer 2015. The 2016 holiday season was also the busiest in several years with a 20% increase in revenues and 16% increase in ridership compared to 2015. Compared to 2015, revenues for Regional Services (Montréal – Senneterre and Jonquière, Sudbury – White River, Jasper – Prince Rupert, and Winnipeg – Churchill) increased 10.1% in 2016. The Winnipeg – Churchill route has become a star performer with double-digit revenue growth exceeding 20% for the second year in a row. The route even saw its highest ridership since 2007 during the polar bear season (October – November). To grow ridership, VIA Rail added capacity on several trains in the Québec City – Windsor corridor and adjusted its schedule to offer greater flexibility to passengers who chose to take the train. By the end of the year, it had increased capacity by 8.3% compared to 2015. “I am proud to have joined VIA Rail, a company that has made so much progress over the last few years! VIA Rail has positioned itself as key player in Canada's transportation system,” said Ms. Françoise Bertrand, Chairperson of the Board of Directors. “Over the next few years, in collaboration with the Government of Canada and VIA Rail's employees, I hope to contribute to the Corporation’s development by fostering real sustainable mobility while fulfilling VIA Rail’s mandate to provide a safe, efficient and economical passenger transportation service for all Canadians.” Putting Passengers First Determined to provide the best customer experience, VIA Rail is continuously making service improvements. As it aims to offer Canadian products on board, Business class passengers can now enjoy Première Moisson breads, Montréal bagels, and a Canadian-made scones. Based on customer feedback, a new menu will be launched in Economy class in the first quarter of 2017. To play a key role in fostering inter-modality and creating a seamless travel experience, VIA Rail enhanced its partnerships with Maritimes Bus in Atlantic Canada, Robert Q in Southwest Ontario and Discount Car Rental across the Corridor. “If there were any doubts about passenger rail’s relevance in Canada, our results this year have settled them,” said VIA Rail’s President and CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “I’m proud to say that for the third year in a row VIA Rail is celebrating success and growth. The end of 2016 marked our 11th straight quarter of revenue growth, and fourth consecutive quarter of increasing ridership. Passenger rail is a vital part of the fight against climate change for Canada, and it is encouraging to see that even more travellers made the smart choice to leave their cars at home and take the train last year. VIA Rail services provide an accessible and affordable alternative to cars and support the necessary shift towards a more sustainable transportation system.” VIA Rail’s annual report is available to download at: viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/governance-and-reports/annual-report (VIA Rail Canada - posted 5/15)

NJ TRANSIT BEGINS SUMMER RAIL SERVICE TO MONMOUTH PARK: NJ TRANSIT summer rail service to Monmouth Park Racetrack began this past Saturday, May 13 and will operate through September 10, 2017. The service will run on weekends (Sat. and Sun.) and holidays (except July 4th) when the track is open for live racing. Friday rail service begins June 9 and continues through August 25. Monmouth Park Station is served by North Jersey Coast Line rail service. NJ TRANSIT is offering a Monmouth Park package which saves customers $5.50. The package includes an NJ TRANSIT round-trip ticket to Monmouth Park from any NJ TRANSIT rail station (excluding Atlantic City Rail Line stations), Grandstand Admission and an official track program for $3.50 plus the regular cost of a round-trip rail ticket. Packages are also available for children, senior citizens and customers with disabilities. Tickets are valid on regularly scheduled trains on Fridays, weekends and holidays when the racetrack is open. To receive the Grandstand Admission and an official track program, you must purchase your package from an NJ TRANSIT Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) or Ticket Office. This package is not available from train crew personnel or with the NJ TRANSIT Mobile App. When purchasing your package from a Ticket Vending Machine, choose "Beach/Monmouth Park Packages" and then select "Monmouth Park Racetrack". Visit www.njtransit.com for rail service information to Monmouth Park. For information about Monmouth Park, call 732-222-5100 or visit Monmouth Park's web site at www.monmouthpark.com (NJ Transit - posted 5/15)



DETROIT'S NEW LIGHT RAIL LINE OPENS: Detroit, Michigan's new light rail line has opened for service. It is known as the QLINE. Passengers will enjoy free rides for our Grand Opening May 12-14. Businesses throughout the Woodward Corridor are also celebrating the start of QLINE operations with promotions beginning May 12. QLINE riders will enjoy free rides for our Grand Opening May 12-14. Businesses throughout the Woodward Corridor are also celebrating the start of QLINE operations with promotions beginning May 12. For more information on the grand opening celebration, visit www.cpr.ca (posted 5/12)

ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS AND GORAIL HONOR SENATORS JOHN THUNE AND BILL NELSON WITH RAILROAD ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: The Association of American Railroads (AAR), in partnership with grassroots advocacy organization GoRail, today honored Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) with the first-ever Railroad Achievement Award. Recognized for their consistent, bipartisan leadership on issues affecting U.S. railroads and the nation's rail network, the inaugural winners were announced in advance of a panel discussion on Capitol Hill analyzing the railroad industry's contributions to the U.S. economy. "A strong American freight rail industry plays an essential role in powering the nation's economy, and leaders in Congress make this possible by supporting policies that allow railroads to invest for the future," said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. "As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senators Thune and Nelson play an instrumental role in shaping public policy that affects railroads tooth to tail, including major freight operators, short lines, Amtrak and the sizeable supply sector. Nowhere was this more evident than in 2015 when this bipartisan duo helped steer passage of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act." The Railroad Achievement Award will be given periodically in the future to other members of Congress who AAR and GoRail believe have shown leadership on policies that help ensure the vitality of railroads in the United States. Award winners like today's have particularly shown an understanding of the distinct role railroads play in the American economy and the need for safe and efficient operations made possible through sustained investment. "Communities all across America reap the benefits delivered by an innovative freight rail industry that invests more than 40 cents of every revenue dollar back into the nation's rail network," said GoRail President Russell McGurk. "Making this possible are sound public policies and elected leaders like Senators Thune and Nelson with the foresight to enact and protect those policies." In prepared remarks introducing the senators, AAR's Hamberger stressed the importance of the FAST Act, the first long-term surface transportation bill in a decade, which included critical safety enhancements as well as Amtrak reauthorization. While noting there is still work to be done, Hamberger also applauded a FAST Act measure made possible by the bipartisan teamwork of Senators Thune and Nelson that streamlines the environmental permitting process for rail infrastructure projects based on previously enacted reforms for highway and transit projects. The reforms are designed to increase capacity, improve safety, hire new employees and provide efficient service to rail customers - all areas Hamberger singled out as issues of profound understanding among the senatorial honorees. Hamberger also commended the Senators for their leadership in reauthorizing the Surface Transportation Board. AAR- posted 5/12)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN IS DELIVERING ON COMMITMENTS, CEO TELLS SHAREHOLDERS: Norfolk Southern is delivering on commitments to improve corporate performance through successful execution of its strategic plan, CEO James A. Squires said in remarks to the annual meeting of shareholders. Noting that the best strategy is tested and proven by results, Squires said, "We have a sound strategy, and we are producing results that drive sustainable profitability, high-quality growth, and enhanced shareholder value. We are delivering on our commitments." 2016 was the first full year of Norfolk Southern's five-year strategic plan to operate a faster, lower-cost, and more profitable railroad. Achievements in 2016 included an all-time best operating ratio of 68.9 percent, productivity savings of $250 million, near record levels of network service performance, and record locomotive fuel efficiency. "Through successful execution of our plan, we achieved our key first-year financial and operational targets," Squires said, "and we are well on pace to achieve our 2020 performance goals." Norfolk Southern is off to a strong start on the second year of the strategic plan, Squires said, citing 2017 first-quarter records achieved in operating ratio, income from operations, and earnings per share. The company's 2020 goals include annual expense savings of more than $650 million; double-digit percentage compound annual growth rate in earnings per share; and an operating ratio – a key measure of operating and financial performance – below 65 percent. "We are driving growth by providing superior service that optimizes pricing and increases volume and top-line revenue," Squires said. "We are relentlessly focused on meeting the unique needs of our customers – and we are measuring service excellence as they define it." In the long term, service will be a major competitive differentiator for Norfolk Southern and will propel shareholder value, he added. (NS, Randy Kotuby- posted 5/11)

CELEBRATE WITH THE CP CANADA 150 TRAIN: Canadian Pacific (CP) today announced a summer train tour to celebrate Canada's sesquicentennial while re-connecting generations of Canadians with the nation's iconic and historic roots. Through shared stories and celebration, the CP Canada 150 Train will honour the country's past, while acknowledging the leaders of the present, and looking toward a bright future. Beginning July 28 in Port Moody, B.C., CP is hosting celebrations in 13 Canadian cities and towns. The train will travel west to east, completing a reverse tour of the very first transcontinental passenger train trip made on June 28, 1886, which started in Montreal and travelled to Port Moody. The final CP Canada 150 Train event takes place August 20, 2017 in Ottawa. "It is my honour to invite communities and citizens from across the country to join us in celebrating the nation, the railway and the future of Canada," said Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer. "CP has been connecting Canada for 136 years, something we consider a distinct privilege. We are proud to have been a part of building Canada, proud to employ the country's best railroaders, and we look forward to many more years of giving Canadians a reason to be proud of this railway." Incorporated in 1881, Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was an integral part of confederation. As a physical link between east and west, the building of the CPR is one of the country's greatest feats of engineering. As the railway diversified to include steamships, hotels, and beginning in the 1940s, Canadian Pacific Airlines, many considered the CPR to be the world's greatest travel company. CP has since returned to its core business of railroading, and is the safest railway in North America. A key part of the program will be the Spirit of Tomorrow, a special railcar which, as it moves across Canada, will be decorated with thousands of handwritten cards from children outlining their dreams for the future. CP will be inviting kids at every stop to contribute to decorating this car, which will be included in CP's Holiday Train program for 2017, giving more Canadians a chance to view the final creation. The Spirit of Tomorrow is only part of the splendor of the CP Canada 150 Train. Iconic F-unit diesel locomotive CP 1401 (1958) will lead the train, powering more than 10 beautifully restored Royal Canadian Pacific heritage cars. As the train makes its way across the country, it will be the exclusive event backdrop for photographers and admirers alike. Also included in the train is CP's exclusive retrofitted stage car from which event-goers will be treated to a truly Canadian performance. Aboriginal entertainer and world champion hoop dancer Dallas Arcand will open the stage show with his world-renowned athleticism and grace, sharing the symbolism of the hoop dance and its significance in aboriginal communities. Following Arcand will be a concert from Canadian country music superstar Dean Brody. "I am so excited to be celebrating Canada's 150th by train this summer, playing towns along the way, experiencing some of the more rugged and rare routes across our country," said Brody, 13-time Canadian Country Music Award winner and two-time Juno Award winner, most recently for 2016 Country Album of the Year. This family-friendly occasion has something for Canadians of all ages and there are a number of activities to explore during the three hour event. History buffs will delight in seeing images and facts pulled from CP's archives, and kids of all ages can design their very own conductor's hat as a memento of the day. To further celebrate Canada's 150th birthday and to recognize the people, families and communities that helped shape the nation, CP is running a contest to learn "What's your railway legacy?" From stories of sacrifice, bravery, ingenuity, even romance, authors of the two most compelling true short stories will win the experience of a lifetime including a two-day, two-night, all-expense paid trip for two aboard the CP Canada 150 Train, with five-star hospitality from the staff of the Royal Canadian Pacific. Visit cpr.ca to enter. Today, as part of the Canada 150 announcement, CP also launched a new video higlighting the role the railway played, and continues to play, in connecting Canada. For a full list of event locations, dates and times, including further details on CP's contest and history, visit www.cpr.ca (Randy Kotuby, CPR- posted 5/10)

A SHORTER SCHEDULE, CONTINUED RIDERSHIP AND REVENUE GROWTH: A faster schedule is in effect starting this month for Amtrak Hoosier State train passengers, as Amtrak and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) also announce continued growth in local ridership and revenue for the service between Indianapolis and Chicago. According to the Amtrak Passenger Service Notice below, the southbound Hoosier State (Train 850) is scheduled to depart earlier from its intermediate stops and arrive 11 minutes earlier into Indianapolis. The northbound Hoosier State (Train 851) is scheduled to arrive five minutes earlier in Chicago. The new schedule for the Hoosier State, which operates four days weekly, is also reflected in the schedule for the Amtrak Cardinal (Trains 50 & 51). Together, the Hoosier State and the Cardinal provide daily service between Indianapolis and Chicago with intermediate stops at Dyer, Rensselaer, Lafayette and Crawfordsville. Previously-booked customers were notified of the changes. The Hoosier State train transitioned to modern Amtrak railcars and locomotives on March 1. Both ridership and revenue rose in March and April, with ridership up double-digits in both months and revenue also up versus year ago levels. On-time performance is nearly 85 percent since October, including more than 90 percent in March. The Hoosier State is operated by Amtrak under contract with INDOT with a unique partnership of state and local funding. The Indiana General Assembly included $3 million per year for the Hoosier State in the two-year state budget, which was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb and begins July 1. Amtrak employs more than 700 Indiana residents, with more than 500 Hoosiers at the railroad’s principal heavy maintenance facility in Beech Grove. The Hoosier State train is often used to bring railcars and locomotives to the plant southeast of Indianapolis and to take them to Chicago. (Amtrak - posted 5/10)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 6, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 6, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 515,305 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending May 6 were 251,182 carloads, up 8 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 264,123 containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent compared to 2016. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included grain, up 22.2 percent to 21,848 carloads; coal, up 17.7 percent to 73,386 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, up 15.6 percent to 23,743 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 18.5 percent to 9,247 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 6.4 percent to 17,160 carloads; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1.3 percent to 15,723 carloads. For the first 18 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,598,584 carloads, up 6.4 percent from the same point last year; and 4,703,804 intermodal units, up 1.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 18 weeks of 2017 was 9,302,388 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending May 6, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 346,563 carloads, up 10.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 340,821 intermodal units, up 3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 687,384 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 18 weeks of 2017 was 12,325,029 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 81,374 carloads for the week, up 23 percent, and 67,137 intermodal units, up 12.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 18 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,552,063 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 14,007 carloads for the week, down 11.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 9,561 intermodal units, down 13.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 18 weeks of 2017 was 470,578 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.2 percent from the same point last year (AAR - posted 5/10)

AMTRAK RECOGNIZED A TOP EMPLOYER: Amtrak received recognition for workplace excellence by earning a spot in Forbes magazine’s America’s Best Employers 2017 list. More than 20,000 Amtrak employees nationwide give customers a safe and reliable travel experience that delivers on a shared vision of moving America where it wants to go. More than 20,000 Amtrak employees nationwide give customers a safe and reliable travel experience that delivers on a shared vision of moving America where it wants to go. America’s Railroad® is on the list for the third year in a row and is among 500 employers across 25 industries where the workers feel right at home at the office and like their jobs enough to tell others. Listed under the transportation & logistics category, Amtrak was chosen based on Forbes’ independent survey of 30,000 workers throughout the U.S. to see which companies were the best. “Amtrak is a great company because of the people who continuously keep our customers safe and make the railroad the smarter way to travel,” Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman said. “We want employees to find a safe workplace, challenging work, and receive the reward of competitive pay and benefits in a performance-oriented culture.” The nation’s intercity rail provider operates more than 300 trains each day and reaches more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces. Employees enable a national network of long-distance, corridor and high-speed rail, connecting communities, regions and various modes of transportation all across the country. This recognition as a top employer highlights a work environment where everyone adds value and contributes to the business of delivering the company’s mission and strategic goals to provide rail service with superior safety, customer service and financial excellence. Amtrak welcomes applicants to jobs.Amtrak.com jobs.Amtrak.com to join a diverse workforce of professionals in a variety of career fields throughout the United States. We seek qualified, and dedicated professionals to join #TeamAmtrak. (Amtrak - posted 5/09)

ASTORIA'S N LINE TO UNDERGO MAJOR TRACK UPGRADES THIS SUMMER: MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) will be performing major upgrades to the Astoria’s N Subway Line equipment, including the replacement of switches and other track work that will increase reliability and reduce delays. The new switches will also reduce noise along the 31st Street corridor. The $12.4 million project will require eight non-consecutive weekend closures between May and September. On these weekends, from 12:01 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, free shuttle buses will replace N Subway service between Astoria-Ditmars Blvd and Queensboro Plaza in both directions, making stops at all affected N Subway stations. Crews will replace all switches along a 730-foot span of elevated track south of the Astoria-Ditmars Blvd station, as well as track panels and steel girders that support the structure. Trains will not be able to operate during this work because cranes and other heavy equipment must lift large sections of track panels from the street onto the elevated structure. The replacement of these switches and track panels will help reduce the amount of noise from trains along the elevated portion of the Astoria line, which runs through several residential and commercial areas as well as past P.S. 85 south of the Astoria-Ditmars Blvd station. “We strive to be good neighbors while providing safe and reliable service, which is why we scheduled the closures during period of light ridership in order to minimize the impact to customers,” said NYCT Acting President Darryl Irick. “This work will increase reliability of service and reduce train noise – two things the community has long asked for from MTA.” Council Member Costa Constantinides said: “This critical infrastructure improvement has been long-anticipated. The MTA’s commitment to replace switches, track panels, and steel girders will increase service reliability and will significantly mitigate noise from the overhead structure. For the entire school community at P.S. 85, this is a sigh of relief. Elementary school children should not have to bear the burden of repeated interruptions while engaging in the learning process. Their focus should be directed exclusively towards their work, teachers, and peers, not the constant bustle of a rumbling train. I am proud to announce the start of this work that my colleagues and I have so diligently advocated for. I also thank NYCT’s Acting President Darryl Irick for his support in spearheading the efforts towards getting this off the ground.” During the scheduled work, NYC Transit representatives will be available along the shuttle bus route to assist customers. Subway customers traveling to/from 39 Av N Subway can also use the nearby 36 St R Subway station, and customers traveling to/from 36 Av N Subway and Broadway N Subway can use the Steinway St R Subway station. (MTA - posted 5/09)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF WILL LEAD PRELIMINARY ENGINEERING AND DESIGN PROCESS FOR LAGUARDIA AIR TRAIN: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey selected Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. to conduct preliminary engineering and other planning work for a new AirTrain connection to LaGuardia Airport. The firm’s work will take a major step forward in advancing the LaGuardia AirTrain project – which will create a much-needed rail link to the airport. LaGuardia is currently the only major East Coast airport without rail access. By 2030, the number of passengers at LaGuardia is expected to increase by more than 6 million annually and the AirTrain is essential to accommodate that growth. Parsons Brinckerhoff will lead the preliminary planning work for three different components of the project:
  • Construction of up to two new AirTrain stations at the new terminal buildings at the airport
  • Construction of an AirTrain station at Willets Point
  • Construction related to the “right-of-way” for the train from the airport to Willets Point
"The new AirTrain will improve passenger experience, reduce traffic congestion and serve as a key part of the modernization and transformation of LaGuardia into a world-class airport," Governor Cuomo said. "LaGuardia Airport is an essential part of New York’s economy and transportation network, and by providing additional transit options we will support new economic opportunities and growth throughout the region.” The LaGuardia AirTrain will serve a high-tech three-station complex at Willets Point. The station complex will create a seamless transfer for passengers between completely new LIRR and -line subway stations to be built over the next five years at Willets Point and the new AirTrain stop. Parsons Brinckerhoff’s mandate is to develop plans and to engineer the easiest possible transfer of MTA passengers with luggage to and from the AirTrain. The LaGuardia AirTrain link with the LIRR will provide a guaranteed 30-minute ride to the airport from Midtown Manhattan’s two rail hubs – Grand Central and Penn Stations – as well as access to commuters coming from Long Island. Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said, "LaGuardia Airport is the only major airport in the region without direct rail transit access. With passenger demand expected to reach 34 million annually at LaGuardia by 2030, providing mass transit access to the airport is fundamental to transforming it into a world-class facility that supports future growth, while reducing roadway congestion and resulting emissions." Parsons Brinckerhoff will analyze and assess alignment alternatives, conduct a geotechnical review, create a conceptual design for both the train right-of-way and the stations, and develop cost estimates for the project. As part of the planning work, the firm also will conduct a detailed ridership analysis, analyze public-private partnerships and other options to identify the most advantageous financing plan for the AirTrain, as well as evaluate expanded parking and centralized car rental operations at a new Willets Point station complex. Reliable and efficient rail service to and from the airport is critical to manage on-site airport parking, improve drop off and pick up activities at the terminal frontages and reduce congestion on and off the airport, including on the Grand Central Parkway – the main artery to and from the airport – and nearby neighborhood streets. (MTA - posted 5/08)

TEST TRACK NEW NEW MBTA RED LINE CARS: The MBTA this fall will begin work on a piece of South Boston track that will be used for testing the new Red Line cars, beginning in 2019. As a critical step in the delivery and acceptance process, the track will be used to test the new cars after they come from the production facility in Springfield. Every element of the cars' systems will be rigorously tested to ensure that the new trains operate safely and reliably upon introduction to passenger service. After the cars are fully tested and approved by an MBTA engineering team, the new Red Line trains will start serving customers on the T's busiest subway line. Adjacent to Haul Road and known as Track 61, the stretch of track meets the requirements necessary for proper testing:
  • No less than 1,800 feet of straight track for test runs.
  • Close proximity to the Red Line's maintenance facility.
  • Ability to move cars from the Red Line's maintenance facility to the test track with no impact on the main line.
  • Additional storage for vehicles in close proximity to the test track.
State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and State Representative Nick Collins recently took part in a site walk after being briefed by officials from the MBTA on the need for Track 61 as a test site. The South Boston-area legislators and the MBTA agreed to schedule a public neighborhood meeting next month to share further details on the upgrades and listen to any feedback from the community. The MBTA has already assured Senator Forry and Representative Collins that work will not be performed overnight during construction. At a projected cost of $32 million, upgrading of the track will commence in the fall after the MBTA solicits bids and awards a contract for the necessary work. Currently on order from the CRRC MA Corporation, 252 new cars will replace the entire existing Red Line fleet by the end of 2023. The MBTA estimates this replacement, along with minor speed code changes, will boost capacity by fifty percent, raising the current number of trains per hour from thirteen to twenty. The new cars also have the latest propulsion and braking systems, allowing the achievement of a three-minute headway target, reducing customer wait times. With a larger standardized fleet comprised entirely of new cars, the MBTA will also be able to implement a life-cycle maintenance program, resulting in better maintained vehicles, fewer disabled trains and breakdowns causing service interruptions, and an extended service life of at least thirty years. (MBTA - posted 5/08)

TWO NEW BRIGHTLINE TRAINS TO TRAVEL ACROSS COUNTRY IN TANDEM: Brightline, the new privately funded express inter-city passenger rail service in Florida, is making preparations to soon welcome its third and fourth trainsets. The two new trainsets, dubbed BrightGreen and BrightOrange, will depart Siemens Rolling Stock facility in Sacramento today, marking the first time two Brightline trains, totaling nearly 1,000 feet in length, have set off on the cross-country journey simultaneously. The trains were built by 1,000 employees at Siemens' 60-acre rail manufacturing hub in California. Brightline's trains are 100 percent Buy America compliant utilizing components from more than 40 different U.S. suppliers across 20 states. "Two Brightline trainsets traveling 3,052 miles from California to Florida represent innovation in transportation and U.S. manufacturing at its finest," said Dave Howard, CEO of Brightline. "Our Florida team looks forward to welcoming BrightGreen and BrightOrange to their new home as we continue with preparations to launch our service this summer." BrightGreen and BrightOrange will join Brightline's other two trains, BrightBlue and BrightPink, at Workshop b, the 12-acre railroad operations facility in West Palm Beach that serves to maintain, clean and store Brightline's trains. Once service begins, Workshop b will serve as the on-duty location for train crews, providing more than 120 jobs at the facility alone. The trains are expected to arrive at Workshop b late next week. The fifth and final trainset, BrightRed, is being completed at Siemens and is expected to ship in mid-June. Brightline's trains abound with innovations and comfortable features, from automatic level boarding platforms and aisles that exceed ADA compliance standards to custom seats with multiple outlets for devices and complimentary robust Wi-Fi, powered by multiple antennas on every car. The send-off milestone signals Brightline's ongoing commitment of private investment toward transportation infrastructure benefiting the public. Brightline will provide a much-needed, hospitality-driven alternative to South Florida's congested roadways. Introductory express service is scheduled to begin between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in late July, with initial service to Miami added in late August. The company is anticipating a grand opening and official launch of the full service in September. (Brightline - posted 5/05)

MAINE NARROW GAUGE CELEBRATES 25TH OPERATING SEASON: This Saturday marks the start of Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad 's 25th operating season in Portland! To celebrate, the railroad will host Train Days event, taking place both Saturday and Sunday, May 6th and 7th. Join us for plenty of family fun and our new Junior Engineer Program! All children who complete a scavenger hunt inside the museum will receive their very own engineer’s cap (while supplies last). Stop in for a visit and a train ride this weekend! The museum is open daily beginning this Saturday, May 6th through October 29th. In addition to Train Days, we have a lot of fun things in store for the season. Be sure to view our events calendar to see all of the exciting events and programs taking place this year! (Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum - 5/04 )

ILLINOIS RAILWAY MUSEUM SOLICTS DONATIONS TO HELP SAVE M&E C424 18: The Illinois Railway Museum needs your help to save a living piece of Illinois railroad history, and we need it NOW! Morristown & Erie Railway 18, a fully-operational Alco Century 424, has a deep Illinois connection, having been built in September, 1964 for the Toledo, Peoria & Western as its number 800. Both the 800 and her sister, 801, served the "Tip-Up" admirably hauling time freights across the Illinois prairie until they were sold to the M&E in 1983 and moved to New Jersey for continued service. Even though she is still operational, the M&E 18/TP&W 800 is scheduled to be retired in favor of newer power no later than THIS October (2017) and a metal recycler has already placed a bid on her with the intent to scrap her. If IRM is to save this COMPLETE, OPERATING piece of Illinois railroad history and bring her home to the Prairie State, we need to act...and quickly! It will take $50,000 to outbid the scrapper, plus an estimated $7,500 in transportation costs and $6,000 to pay for "track space", which provides for the construction of new track at IRM for her to sit on. Allowing for incidental costs, we need to raise $65,000 in the next six months to insure the 800's future at IRM! Bringing the 800 to IRM would not only reunite it with a locomotive it ran with in service on the TP&W (RS11 400), it would also be the very first Alco Century-series locomotive in the Museum's extensive diesel locomotive collection! Between Alco and its Canadian subsidiary Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW), there were 190 C424's built between 1963 and 1967. The model number, 424, denotes a four-axle locomotive powered by an Alco 16-cylinder 251B engine generating 2,400 horsepower. Time is of the essence! Won't you help us bring the 800 home to Illinois? Imagine her again rolling trains across the Illinois prairie on the Museum's demonstration railroad...With your help we won't have to imagine!! While donations of any amount are gratefully accepted, we have established several tiered levels of giving that will be recognized with special gifts:
  • Donations of $100 or more. Donations of $100 or more will receive a special commemorative "I helped save the 800!" T-shirt.
  • Donations of $250 or more. Donations of $250 or more will receive the T-shirt AND a limited-edition coffee mug or glass featuring the TP&W 800.
  • "Century 424 Club" ($424 or more). Donors at this level receive the commemorative T-shirt, the mug/glass AND a custom-made replica "800" number board, as she wore while on the TP&W.
  • $800 for the 800. Donors at this level will receive time at the throttle of the 800, hauling a train on the Museum's demonstration railroad at track speed! This in addition to all the other gifts provided at the other levels (T-shirt, glass/mug and replica number board).
HOW TO DONATE: You can click on any of the links above to give at the specified level or you can click here to donate. in $25 increments. If you reach a donor level over the course of several donations, you will automatically be upgraded to that donor level. You can also contribute by sending your check to us via the U.S Postal Service. Make the check payable to Illinois Railway Museum and be sure to write "Save the 800" on the memo line to insure it is properly credited. Send your check to: Illinois Railway Museum P.O. Box 427 Union, IL 60180-0427 (IRM - 5/03 )

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR APRIL AND THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 29, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 29, 2017, as well as volumes for April 2017. U.S. railroads originated 1,023,300 carloads in April 2017, up 8.4 percent, or 78,949 carloads, over April 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,052,001 containers and trailers in April 2017, up 2.3 percent, or 23,448 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in April 2017 were 2,075,301, up 5.2 percent or 102,397 carloads and intermodal units over April 2016. In April 2017, 10 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with April 2016. These included: coal, up 26.7 percent or 65,158 carloads; grain, up 18.7 percent or 14,612 carloads; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 12.9 percent or 11,777 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in April 2017 from April 2016 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.1 percent or 5,929 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 9.1 percent or 6,777 carloads; and metallic ores, down 8.4 percent or 2,083 carloads. "U.S. grain car loadings during April 2017 were the highest since 2011, with rail grain deliveries to ports since the first of the year running 19 percent ahead of 2016," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economic John T. Gray. "These agricultural exports improve our balance of trade and strengthen the farm economy. "Sales of motor vehicles fell for the second straight month in April as financing companies have reportedly hit the brakes, tightening lending standards following the satisfaction of the pent-up demand coming out of the 2009 recession. As a result, rail shipments of motor vehicles and parts fell again in April. We are hopeful that the upcoming summer buying season will clear dealer inventories and drive up demand for railroads to deliver new vehicles." Excluding coal, carloads were up 2 percent, or 13,791 carloads, in April 2017 over April 2016. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first four months of 2017 was 4,347,402 carloads, up 6.4 percent, or 259,614 carloads, from the same period last year; and 4,439,681 intermodal units, up 1.6 percent, or 71,425 containers and trailers, from last year. 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. Week Ending April 29, 2017 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 527,830 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 29 were 258,476 carloads, up 6 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,354 containers and trailers, up 4.2 percent compared to 2016. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included grain, up 18.3 percent to 23,784 carloads; coal, up 17.7 percent to 75,662 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 15.2 percent to 40,660 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.9 percent to 9,624 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 12.1 percent to 16,677 carloads; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 3.9 percent to 15,603 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending April 29, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 358,834 carloads, up 8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 346,706 intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 705,540 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2017 was 11,637,645 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 83,214 carloads for the week, up 16 percent, and 66,264 intermodal units, up 9.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 17 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,403,552 carloads, containers and trailers, up 9.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,144 carloads for the week, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,088 intermodal units, down 9.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 17 weeks of 2017 was 447,010 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - 5/03 )

!-- BEGINNING A NEWS BLOCK --> NEW TRAIN CREW MANAGEMENT SYSTEM TO BOOST NORFOLK SOUTHERN OPERATING EFFICIENCY: A new train crew management and payroll system now being developed is expected to boost operating efficiency, lower costs and increase productivity, supporting goals of Norfolk Southern’s strategic plan to improve corporate performance. Norfolk Southern and software company PS Technology have agreed to develop the automated system for phased future deployment throughout Norfolk Southern’s network. “Incorporating PS Technology’s CrewPro software with our operating and data platforms will save costs and streamline Norfolk Southern’s train crew management and payroll processes,” said Fred Ehlers, NS vice president information technology. “When deployed, the system will expand Norfolk Southern’s digital capabilities to enhance interactions with our train crews.” Ehlers said the software optimizes train crew assignments by factoring in employees’ work schedules and geographical operating credentials, federal regulations, and labor contract requirements. “In effect, the software analyzes data to come up with the best, most efficient match of crew and train,” Ehlers said. Seenu Chundru, PS Technology president, said, “We are pleased to collaborate with our longtime business partner Norfolk Southern to develop CrewPro. The system leverages technology to reduce costs of managing train and engine service crews. Optimization tools enable automated decision-making support and efficiency improvements.” In addition to crew assignments, CrewPro ultimately will manage payroll, taxi and lodging services, and vacation scheduling for some 11,700 Norfolk Southern transportation employees in train and engine service. (NS - 5/02 )

LOUISVILLE & INDIANA RAILROAD HONORED FOR HIRING VETS: The Louisville & Indiana Railroad (www.anacostia.com/railroads/lirc) was named one of four winners of the Timmons Award for an outstanding effort hiring and retaining military veterans. Louisville & Indiana Railroad President John Goldman said, “We are very proud that our team has received this national recognition from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA).” One-fourth of L&I’s 47 employees are veterans, active duty reservists or National Guard, Goldman noted. The award was presented April 25 to L&I at ASLRRA’s annual conference in Grapevine, Texas. Other winners are: Newburgh and South Shore Railroad, LLC; GE Transportation; and Magnus, LLC. Named for Lt. Gen. Richard F. Timmons (USA retired), the Timmons Award recognizes the top mid-size and small railroads and the large and small rail supply companies that have the highest ratio of veterans in their work force. L&I was selected from a survey sent to more than 500 railroads and rail suppliers in January 2017. Gen. Timmons retired after 32 years in the U.S. Army and was president of the ASLRRA from 2002 to 2014. Louisville & Indiana has had excellent experience hiring veterans, according to Goldman. “Vets are used to working nights and weekends outdoors with large equipment and are drug-free—a requirement in the transportation industry.” The Louisville & Indiana Railroad, based in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is a subsidiary of Anacostia Rail Holdings and began operations on March 12, 1994 over 106 route miles of track acquired from Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail). This formerly was the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad and is the most direct route between Louisville and Indianapolis (Louisville & Indiana Railroad - 5/02 )

MORE TICKET OPTIONS AND IMPROVED NAVIGATION FOR NJ TRANSIT MOBILE APP: NJ TRANSIT’s latest mobile app upgrade has a redesigned look that brings additional features and functionality to the home page screen. Bus customers also will be able to use the app to purchase one-way, round-trip and discounted 10-trip tickets. In addition, the enhancements provide customers with service alerts and service information for specific train stations or bus stops at a glance. The new app will be available to Android users first with iOS release to follow, possibly within two weeks. NJ TRANSIT is rolling out the new version so that it can make any needed refinements before it is available to its larger customer base of iOS users. “Technology continues to evolve and with that, NJ TRANSIT is continually working to improve our customers’ experience with our app,’’ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “I heard first hand from our customers that they also want service information right on the app – this version does just that.” “Our mobile app users also demand a clean, functional interface, and this redesigned look provides for one-tap access to each of the most popular features. We are proud to be an industry leader in mobile ticketing, and we will continue to look for ways to put the latest technology in the hands of our customers,’’ Santoro added. Visually, the crisp look features a new home screen with a tile layout, larger buttons, and clearer colors for easier viewing and selection of the options. Tiles provide access to tickets, train schedules, DepartureVision and MyBus right from the home screen. A Quick Buy tile provides for one-tap purchases of favorite tickets. DepartureVision and MyBus will display and auto refresh right on the home screen. Additionally, DepartureVision and MyBus information on the home screen are auto populated based upon your favorites. NJ TRANSIT bus customers can now purchase monthly passes, discounted 10-trips, roundtrip and one-way tickets for both interstate and intrastate travel. The use of mobile ticketing through the MyTIX program has grown steadily since its introduction in 2013 and now has more than 1.25 million customer accounts. The NJ TRANSIT mobile app is available for free download on any web-enabled iOS or Android device. To purchase tickets, customers simply install the app and create an account, which will securely save a customer’s profile information and purchase history. (NJ Transit - 5/02 )

PROGRESS RAIL COMPLETES EMISSIONS TESTING FOR EMD24B, TIER 4 SWITCH LOCOMOTIVE: Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, had announced it has successfully completed initial emissions testing of its new, repower locomotive – the EMD24B – and has begun the process of certifying the locomotive per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent Tier 4 emissions standards. The EMD24B locomotive will now start the California Air Resources Board’s 3,000-hour in-service verification testing, first with Pacific Harbor Line, Inc. (PHL). Rated at 2,000 horsepower, the EMD24B comes equipped with a Cat® 3512C HD engine and aftertreatment technologies proven to lower emissions. The EMD24B utilizes rebuilt EMD-style locomotive components, and has been constructed with a remanufactured underframe and cab from an existing EMD GP-40 locomotive. This pre-1973 locomotive core, which was originally developed based on "unregulated" emissions standards, has been remanufactured to meet the latest emissions standards, aligning with Caterpillar and Progress Rail’s sustainability values. “In 2010, PHL took part in one of our largest repower projects to date by modernizing an existing locomotive fleet with cleaner burning engines. Today, we’re pleased to continue that legacy of collaborating for cleaner air, through our latest testing efforts for our Tier 4 ready switcher locomotive,” said Progress Rail’s Chief Executive Officer and Caterpillar Senior Vice President, Billy Ainsworth. “The EMD24B demonstrates our commitment to customers through its reliability and sustainability, while emphasizing Caterpillar’s broad engine expertise, with a strong focus on lowering emissions, maintaining fuel efficiency and safety.” The design and manufacture of the EMD24B involved various teams within the company; including Progress Rail’s repower engineering team, employees from the company’s Patterson, Georgia facility, and its Brazilian subsidiary, Zeit, which provided the locomotive’s control system. Pacific Harbor Line, Inc. President Otis Cliatt II said, “PHL is pleased to once again partner with Progress Rail in our ongoing effort to achieve the lowest possible emissions within the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. We are eager to test the EMD24B locomotive, which employs the latest technology and represents a very important step toward meeting the stringent clean-air standards of the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. EPA. The EMD24B’s operation on PHL will offer a challenging range of speed, direction and tonnage associated with a busy terminal.” (Progress Rail - 5/01 )

FREE RIDE ON MBTA'S FAIRMOUNT LINE: Passengers on the MBTA Fairmount Commuter Rail Line will travel free of charge for a two-week period in May. Passengers will be able to board at station stops from Readville to South Stations and not pay a fare between Monday, May 8, and Friday, May 21. "The Fairmount Line offers a fast and convenient way to travel between the neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, and into the city’s Financial District," said Acting MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. "It's only a thirty minute trip from Readville to South Station for weekday morning passengers taking the 7:15 train. For two weeks next month, we hope people take advantage of the fare-free service, and learn the benefits of quick and easy train travel." "It's exciting to showcase the transit solutions afforded by the Fairmount Line," said Keolis General Manager and CEO David Scorey. "We look forward to demonstrating the value of the Commuter Rail to members of the Fairmount Line’s communities who otherwise may not have explored this convenient option." This sponsored two-week period comes with the hope of highlighting the Fairmount Line as a convenient option for residents and employees of businesses. MBTA bus and subway options exist within the Fairmount corridor, but many members of the public may be unaware of the Fairmount Line and its station stops. The MBTA hopes this two-week period showcases the Fairmount Line as an excellent option for travel within the Fairmount corridor communities, to and from downtown, and as a connection to other MBTA services. As the only Commuter Rail line that operates entirely within Boston, the Fairmount Line originates at South Station and station stops include Newmarket, Uphams Corner, Four Corners/Geneva Avenue, Talbot Avenue, Morton Street, Fairmount, and Readville. Seven of the Fairmount Line’s eight stations are zoned for a Zone 1A, which is a $2.25 one-way fare. The Fairmount Line operates seven days per week. An executed contract for the construction of a ninth station on the Fairmount Line at Blue Hill Avenue was approved in January 2017 with an anticipated opening of the station in 2019. (MBTA - 4/28 )

CN's WINNIPEG NATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE NAMED AFTER FORMER CEO CLAUDE MONGEAU: CN announced the naming of its national employee training centre in Winnipeg after former president and chief executive officer Claude Mongeau. Under Claude's leadership, we built two state-of-the-art employee training centres where a new generation of railroaders learn the skills they need for a safe and successful career at CN," said Luc Jobin, president and chief executive officer. "Claude valued our commitment to safety above all and the training centres are vital in instilling and maintaining that strong commitment to safety in our thousands of new railroaders as well as veteran employees. "The training centres and their part in advancing CN's goal to become the safest railway in North America are a major part of Claude's enduring legacy," Jobin added. Mongeau joined CN in 1994, was the company's chief financial officer for 11 years, and president and chief executive officer from 2010 until he stepped down for health reasons at the end of June 2016. "I am truly honoured that the Winnipeg National Training Centre will bear my name as this facility is a cornerstone of CN's commitment to the safety of its people, customers and communities," said Mongeau. "Safety is a key value at CN and our industry-leading training centres are the embodiment of that commitment." Opened in 2014, the CN Claude Mongeau National Training Centre campus in Winnipeg provides consistent, quality training with a modern curriculum, coupled with skilled instructors, for jobs ranging from conductor to track maintainer, and car mechanic to supervisor. Employees receive hands-on training in learning laboratories with equipment such as locomotive, crane, and signals and communication simulators. Outdoor labs with dedicated rolling stock and other equipment for field training are also appreciated by the employees attending the facilities. The Winnipeg centre hosts employees from across Canada, while the U.S. training center located in suburban Chicago accommodates employees from across the United States. Since the training campuses opened, more than 15,000 CN employees have received training, and through the CN Campus Partnership Program, more than 200 representatives of CN customers have taken courses in basic rail safety and the requirements of safe operations. (CN - 4/28 )

NYCTA TO PERFORM CRITICAL REPAIRS ON THE CARNARSIE SUBWAY TUNNEL BEFORE THE PLANNED 2019 CLOSURE: New York City Transit (NYCT) will conduct critical repairs and preparatory work on the L Subway Line’s Canarsie Tunnel starting in May in order to ensure the tunnel can remain open until the planned April 2019 closure of the tunnel for full rehabilitation from the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. In addition to assuring safe, reliable service through the Canarsie tunnel, work performed during the two scheduled weekend service outages between the 8 Av station in Manhattan and the Broadway Junction station in Brooklyn will allow crews to also begin prep work for the full-scale $477 million in planned repairs in 2019. In order to minimize the impact of the outages, the work is being done on weekends because the ridership is lower and on a holiday weekend when an extra day can be utilized, which will result in one less weekend outage needed. During these weekend outages, crews will replace ties from 8 Av to Broadway Junction and install continuously welded rail, which will result in smoother rides for customers and require less upkeep. Crews will inspect the communications systems along the line and perform maintenance on other track and tunnel infrastructure. The preparatory work includes surveys of the tubes, tracks and other areas within the track tunnel, which cannot be performed while trains are in service and the third rail is energized. (MTA - 4/28 )

AMTRAK PRESIDENT AND CEO WICK MOORMAN ANNOUNCES NEW YORK PENN STATION IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES: Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman today announced a series of initiatives to strengthen railroad infrastructure and improve operations and preparedness at New York Penn Station, the nation’s busiest rail station and transportation facility. “After only a short time here at Amtrak it has become apparent to me that we need to accelerate major renewal work in New York Penn Station,” said Moorman, who became CEO in September 2016. “Using our limited resources, we have made this renewal project a priority to ensure the continuity of travel in the region. Without these improvements, Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT and the Long Island Rail Road could continue to see major disruptions, which could also have an impact on passenger safety.” Moorman added, “We at Amtrak understand the steps that must be taken to ensure a safe and reliable railway and will be working throughout the summer and beyond to make the required improvements. We will be collaborating with our partners at NJT and the LIRR to plan this work in order to minimize disruptions and inconvenience for our customers who rely on us for service.” “The simple fact of the matter is that some of the track and infrastructure in service today at Penn Station was built in the 1970s at a time when we were handling half the trains and a third of the customers that we do today,” Moorman said. “While a substantial amount of reconstruction has already been done at New York Penn Station, the remaining renewal work has been scheduled to take place over the next several years in order to minimize impacts on scheduled services. We can’t wait that long. This work needs to be done now.” The Penn Station Improvement Initiatives include:
  • New York Penn Station Infrastructure Renewal Program: Amtrak will undertake a series of major track and switch renewal projects in Penn Station, beginning with the western portion of the station area. The first set of projects will occur in the area of tracks and switches known as “A Interlocking,” which serves as the critical sorting mechanism routing trains that enter Penn Station from the Hudson River tunnels and the Long Island Rail Road’s West Side Yard to the various station tracks and platforms. While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required to improve the reliability of this infrastructure at this critical moment in the station’s history. Rather than proceed with the full replacement of these components across an extended period stretching out over several years, as originally scheduled, Amtrak now plans to advance this work through a series of major projects beginning in May and continuing through the fall in order to quickly achieve the benefits of this renewal work for our partners and passengers. In addition to the work in A Interlocking, further renewal work of various station tracks will be undertaken through approximately June 2018, with a majority of that work done on weekends. These projects will require track closures, operational coordination and schedule changes, which will impact the service of all of the railroads operating in Penn Station. Amtrak will work with our partner railroads and other affected entities as we develop the schedule for this needed work and will make every effort to minimize disruptions to all customers. Once this plan is finalized, we and our partner railroads will communicate the plan and its impact to the public and provide continuous updates as the work progresses.
  • New York Penn Station Passenger Concourse Coordination Review: Amtrak has commissioned former Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast to independently review the interaction, coordination and collaboration between the railroads’ various passenger concourses within Penn Station. The review will focus on the current methods of managing daily operations within the station concourses, including during disruptions, events or incidents, as well as look for opportunities to strengthen coordination between all parties to improve the passenger experience, safety and security. While Amtrak is the owner of Penn Station, passenger concourse operations and control of various areas within the station are managed individually by Amtrak, LIRR and NJT. Mr. Prendergast will review these relationships and develop recommendations on how the three railroads, working with other relevant parties, can improve the passenger experience, signage and wayfinding, video and communications, and incident response across the entire station.
  • Development of a Joint Station Concourse Operations Center: Amtrak is proposing that the three railroads serving Penn Station develop a joint station concourse operations center that brings together the managers of the various Penn Station concourses and technology to strengthen coordination, enhance the passenger experience and improve our responses to disruptions, incidents and other events that occur anywhere in the station. While the tracks and other railroad operational elements of Penn Station are controlled at the Penn Station Control Center facility, which brings together all three railroads in various capacities, management of the station’s passenger concourses lacks a similarly integrated facility to promote information-sharing, joint decision-making and the leveraging of technology. Amtrak will be seeking the support of LIRR and NJT to jointly plan, develop and staff a new facility at Penn Station and will use the results of the Penn Station Passenger Concourse Coordination Review to further inform these efforts.
  • Safety & Security: In the next several weeks, Amtrak will assemble a task force with our partner railroads, first responders, law enforcement and other stakeholders to review protocols relating to disabled trains and ensure that adequate procedures are documented, trained and exercised. The task force will also examine the need for additional equipment and technology and review the functions of personnel during an incident to ensure that existing protocols are comprehensive and appropriate. The findings of the task force will be used to help inform the Penn Station Passenger Concourse Coordination Review efforts. Additionally, Amtrak is creating a mobile response team to address potential station overcrowding during peak periods, further equipping its New York Division Amtrak Police Department (APD) officers with multi-band interoperable radios to improve intra-agency communication and is already in the process of updating its Video Surveillance and Access Control System design for Penn Station platforms, tunnels and ventilation shafts.
(Amtrak - 4/27 )

PORT AUTHORITY AUTHORIZES PLANNING FUNDS FOR FIRST PHASE OF PATH EXTENSION TO NEWARK LIBERTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: The Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners today authorized $57 million in planning funds for the first phase of the PATH system extension to Newark Liberty International Airport, a projected $1.7-billion project that is a key component of the board’s 2017-2026 capital plan and essential to improved regional rail service for the commuting public. “The Port Authority is committed to making critical investments in a transportation network that supports regional growth and meets the demands of the millions of people who live, work and visit the region,” said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. “This planning effort will provide analysis of key components – ridership data, cost updates, environmental and economic impacts – to help the agency continue to evaluate the project before moving forward with construction.” “Our 10-year capital plan dedicates $32 billion towards strategic investments to support the modernization of critical transportation infrastructure,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “This project improves transportation access to Newark Airport while extending PATH’s trans-Hudson network in Newark.” Subject to completion of the environmental review process and project authorization by the Port Authority board, the project would include a new station in Newark’s South Ward Dayton Street neighborhood, a new rail yard facility and modification of existing platforms at Newark Penn Station to accommodate increased passenger flow. Today’s authorization provides funding critical to move the project through preliminary design and the required environmental review process. It includes funds for environmental and transportation services, including preliminary engineering work as well as program and project management services. Currently, the PATH Newark-to-World Trade Center line’s western-most point is Newark Penn Station. The project will extend the line west through the Dayton Street neighborhood in Newark’s South Ward, ending at the Newark Liberty rail link station. Once approved, construction of the extension is expected to begin in 2020 with full revenue service to start in 2026. As a multimodal transportation hub, the new station also will reduce traffic congestion and provide environmental benefits through increased use of public transportation. (The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - 4/27 )

MTA BOARD MEMBERS VOTE TO ACCEPT AND CONCLUDE YEAR LONG ENVIRONMENT STUDY FOR LIRR EXPANSION PROJECT: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board voted today to accept the findings of the year-long environmental study for the Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project, one of New York’s most significant efforts to increase capacity of the commuter railroad since it was first built in the mid-19th century. “Keeping our transportation infrastructure up to date is critical to our region’s future,” said MTA Interim Chair Fernando Ferrer. “Today the Board voted to advance the critical LIRR Expansion Project, which uses innovative approaches to keep construction cost and time to a minimum and incorporates extensive industry and public input.” “The success of our region depends upon modern, up-to-date transportation systems and this visionary project imagined and shepherded by Governor Cuomo represents the LIRR’s transformation from a 19th-century rail system to a 21st-century one,” said MTA Interim Director Veronique Hakim. “I’m grateful to the Board for its support, again, in advancing this proposal.” “The LIRR is the busiest commuter rail system in the country, and is experiencing record ridership numbers as well,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “While other improvements are underway systemwide, we simply cannot fully meet the need for more and better service without the additional capacity and flexibility of additional tracks on our Main Line. Construction of an additional track in Suffolk County is well underway, and today’s vote brings us one step closer to starting an additional track in Nassau, too.” In November 2016, the MTA Board voted to use a two-step public process to identify the private construction firms that are best qualified to work on the project and then, in the future, select one based on the best proposal to meet the project’s objectives. These initial stages of this “Request for Proposals” procurement process and the environmental study are happening in parallel so that agency decision making in areas that are important to the public – like construction time, cost and impacts – are informed by ideas that emerge during the procurement process. Construction on the project could begin after funding is approved and a contract is awarded to one of several internationally-experienced consortia who have expressed interest in bidding to design and build the project. The “design-build” contracting technique places oversight of the construction in the hands of private construction firms, which are expert in the field. This means that construction oversight will be completely different from past LIRR projects, with goals to shorten the construction timeline, improve efficiency and minimize the impact of the project on surrounding communities and rail passengers. The design-build method, used in other projects like the current building of a new Tappan Zee Bridge, puts the responsibility to both design and build a project on a single firm, capitalizing on private sector construction expertise and innovation and incentivizing a firm’s success at reducing construction length, cost and impacts. In a demonstration of the widespread interest in the project from the local business community, more than 700 local small businesses attended a forum in Queens Village last month to learn more about the project, find out how to get hired to work on it, and meet the various construction firms that have qualified to bid to design and build the project. The forum attracted participants from across the New York metropolitan area and focused outreach on service-disabled veteran-, women- and minority-owned entrepreneurs to ensure that the widest possible array of local small businesses find the opportunity to work on the project. The results of the project’s environmental study may be read on the project website at www.aModernLI.com, under “Final Environmental Impact Statement” (FEIS). The proposed project is completely different from prior proposals to expand track capacity on the LIRR’s Main Line. The project includes:
  • Building of a third track on the critical Main Line, to improve service options and reliability on branches throughout the entire LIRR system;
  • No residential property acquisitions;
  • Elimination of all street-level grade crossings within the 9.8-mile project corridor, which will reduce delays, improve safety, and reduce noise by eliminating gate bells and warning horns from trains;
  • Construction of sound barrier walls to reduce noise;
  • Station upgrades including longer platforms, ADA accessibility and energy-efficient LED lighting;
  • More than 2,000 additional parking spaces;
  • Increased reliance on private construction industry expertise to minimize construction duration, impacts and cost; and
  • An unprecedented level of public outreach to engage local officials, homeowners and other stakeholders and incorporate their input while the project is being planned and constructed.
With up to 40 percent of the LIRR’s 308,000 daily passengers going through the Main Line, which serves as the main corridor through which many branches of the LIRR travel, the proposed project will improve service for more than half a million passengers per week. The central location of this critical artery of the LIRR means that improvements here will be experienced by passengers throughout the entire system. Currently, trains are required to blow their horns as they pass through grade crossings, and additional noise comes from bells that alert nearby drivers, who idle in long lines as they wait for trains to pass and honk their horns when gates open. The elimination and modification of all seven street-level grade crossings within the project area will be overseen by the Department of Transportation. NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll said, “The street-level grade crossing elimination options for this project were developed in close consultation with local communities and will end the noise, traffic and safety concerns that they have been living with for years. It will lead to a significant improvement in quality of life for many people.” Proposed retaining walls and sound barrier walls will have an even greater impact after the significant service increases from the East Side Access Project go into effect. The project also includes major track infrastructure upgrades such as new switches, signals and power equipment, as well as station upgrades such as new, longer platforms to accommodate full-length trains, removing delays and safety issues associated with passengers needing to move between cars on shorter platforms. The project also proposes additional parking to address future ridership growth. These and other proposed components of the project are the result of months of direct consultation with local elected officials and community members, as well as analysis by experienced transportation engineers. Other environmental benefits from the project, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, derive from reduced automobile trips as a result of additional and more reliable rail service. All project benefits, as well as other detailed information like track and grade crossing changes, proposed service changes, current land use patterns and proposed construction staging, are outlined in the project’s EIS.
  • No Residential Property Acquisitions Unlike previous attempts to add a third track to the two-track Main Line, this project is designed without a single residential property being taken, as promised by Governor Cuomo soon after the proposal was announced last year. As shown by detailed figures in the EIS, this will be achieved by building the third track entirely within the LIRR’s existing property lines.
  • Increased Transparency and Community Outreach At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the LIRR Expansion Project team has undertaken an unprecedented level of community outreach since the proposal was first announced last year, including hundreds of meetings to date with elected officials, community leaders, homeowners along the project corridor, LIRR customers, and stakeholders throughout the region. A staffed, walk-in information office with project documents and other materials has been open since May 2016.
  • Community-Focused Construction Mitigation Responding to extensive input from local communities, the project will require contractors to use neighbor-friendly and innovative construction practices to keep the impact of construction as minimal as possible. This community-focused approach to construction includes pre-construction home inspections, scheduling that takes school and commuter traffic schedules into account, an air quality control plan, a 24/7 hotline assigned to a community outreach representative, and more.
The LIRR Expansion Project is part of a broader, ongoing effort by Governor Cuomo to transform the MTA and improve transit and transportation throughout New York State. On Long Island, projects like the Double Track Project between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the Jamaica Capacity Improvements Project, and the East Side Access Project to bring LIRR to Grand Central Terminal, will all bring better service to LIRR customers and help ease congestion on clogged local streets and highways such as the Long Island Expressway, Northern and Southern State Parkways, and Grand Central and Belt Parkways. (MTA - 4/26 )

COMMUTER RAIL EMPLOYEES VOLUNTEER TIME TO CLEAN UP NATICK STATION: Employees at Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), operator of the MBTA's Commuter Rail system, volunteered last week to help clean up and provide minor repairs to the West Natick Commuter Rail station. Along the Framingham/Worcester line, the clean up is part of the company's commitment to the communities it serves. Employees across three departments -- environmental, engineering and customer service - joined workers from Olympic Cleaning to collect trash, replace broken plexiglass, remove graffiti, add a new bike-rack, replace trash bins and remove inactive newspaper dispensers. Fifteen large bags of litter were collected by the crews. "This is one small way for us at Keolis to give back to the neighborhoods we not only serve on the Commuter Rail but also call home," said Clary Coutu, Manager of Environmental Compliance, Keolis. "Stations can be more than a medium between home and the train. They can be beautiful, livable and inviting spaces, and hopefully we have helped to do that for our friends, neighbors and customers who utilize the West Natick station." Keolis environmental develops and oversees programs implemented to meet legal or contractual environmental requirements, as well as Keolis' Environmental Policy. Further, this group creates awareness through local campaigns, such as the Natick station clean up last Thursday and Pollution Prevention Month in the fall. (Keolis Commuter Services - 4/26 )

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 22, 2017: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 515,131 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 22 were 257,283 carloads, up 11.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 257,848 containers and trailers, down 1.3 percent compared to 2016. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included coal, up 30.9 percent to 76,864 carloads; grain, up 28.7 percent to 23,521 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, up 12.8 percent to 25,194 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included motor vehicles and parts, down 11 percent to 17,030 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 8.9 percent to 10,346 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, down 6.4 percent to 8,913 carloads. For the first 16 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,088,926 carloads, up 6.4 percent from the same point last year; and 4,170,327 intermodal units, up 1.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2017 was 8,259,253 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 22, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 355,027 carloads, up 12.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 335,235 intermodal units, up 0.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 690,262 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 16 weeks of 2017 was 10,932,105 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.8 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 82,040 carloads for the week, up 19.9 percent, and 65,938 intermodal units, up 8.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 16 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,254,074 carloads, containers and trailers, up 9.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,704 carloads for the week, down 5.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,449 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 16 weeks of 2017 was 418,778 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - 4/26 )

NORFOLK SOUTHERN THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) today reported first-quarter financial results. First-quarter net income was $433 million, up 12 percent year-over-year, a result of a 7 percent rise in income from railway operations, as well as a lower effective income tax rate. Diluted earnings per share were $1.48, up 15 percent year-over-year and a first-quarter record. “Norfolk Southern’s record results for the first quarter demonstrate the efficacy of our strategic plan, under which we are enhancing our service quality and network performance while driving significant efficiency improvements,” said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO. “Our focus on providing a superior service product has positioned us for growth and, coupled with our cost discipline, has contributed to a solid start to the year. Our strategy provides a strong foundation for growth at low incremental costs, a powerful formula for enhanced shareholder value.” First-quarter summary Railway operating revenues of $2.6 billion increased 6 percent compared with first-quarter 2016, as overall volumes were 5 percent higher, reflecting growth within our major commodity categories of coal, intermodal, and merchandise. Railway operating expenses increased $105 million, or 6 percent, to $1.8 billion as targeted expense reductions and efficiencies were offset by inflation, particularly within fuel expenses, which were higher by $64 million. Income from railway operations was a first-quarter record $773 million, up 7 percent year-over-year. The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 70.0 percent, a first-quarter record. (Norfolk Southern - 4/26 )

NORFOLK SOUTHERN EVP AND CFO MARTA STEWART TO RETIRE: Norfolk Southern Corporation today announced that Marta R. Stewart, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Norfolk Southern Corp., intends to retire effective Aug. 1, 2017. NS has initiated a comprehensive search to identify the company’s next chief financial officer and will consider both internal and external candidates with the assistance of an executive search firm. “Marta has made significant contributions to NS over the course of her career, most recently as one of the architects of our strategic plan,” said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO. “Her intimate knowledge of the railroad business, engagement with stakeholders inside and outside the company, and relentless focus on driving shareholder value has positioned NS for continued success. On behalf of the board and management team, I thank Marta for her service and wish her the best in retirement. We look forward to Marta’s continued leadership as we conduct our CFO search and execute an orderly transition to her successor.” “I am very proud of the company’s accomplishments during my tenure and the progress we have made in implementing our strategic plan,” said Stewart. “I will miss working with a great leadership team and talented employees, and am confident NS is on track to achieve its objectives as it becomes an even stronger, more profitable railroad.” Since joining NS in 1983 as an accountant, Stewart has been instrumental in developing the company’s accounting systems and controls. Prior to Stewart’s appointment as executive vice president and chief financial officer in 2013, she assumed roles of increasing responsibility in finance and served as vice president accounting and controller, and vice president finance and treasurer. Stewart has been a key strategic advisor to the NS CEO, agent for change throughout the company, and advocate for NS shareholders. (Norfolk Southern - 4/26 )

SEPTA INVITES PUBLIC TO FY 2018 CAPITAL BUDGET HEARINGS: SEPTA is inviting the public to ask questions and submit comments during a pair of Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget hearings on Wednesday, April 26. Hearing sessions will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Board Room at SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street. Under the proposal, SEPTA will advance initiatives to renew critical infrastructure, replace aging portions of its fleet, expand capacity for growing ridership and make technology improvements under its proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget and 12-Year Capital Program. The capital budget funds projects such as bridge and track replacement, reconstruction of stations and other facilities, and the purchase of new vehicles. It also focuses on the implementation of new technologies for customers, such as real-time travel alerts. Following public hearings, the Capital Budget plan will go to the SEPTA Board for approval. The $727.2 million FY 2018 proposal advances SEPTA's "Rebuilding the System" initiative, a comprehensive program to reinvest in the transit network throughout the region. The Authority embarked on this plan following the November 2013 passage of Act 89, which provides capital funds for transportation improvements throughout Pennsylvania. In the coming year, SEPTA will move ahead with a number of major initiatives, including: Communications, Signal Systems and Technology Improvements
  • Bridge Improvement Program
  • Safety and Security Improvements
  • SEPTA Key - fare modernization project
  • Stations, Loops and Parking Improvements
  • Substations and Power Improvements
  • Track and Right-of-Way Improvements
  • Vehicle Acquisitions and Overhauls
The full budget proposal, including program and project details, can be viewed or downloaded on the Reports section of SEPTA's website at http://www.septa.org/reports. (SEPTA - 4/25 )

NJ TRANSIT HOLDS PUBLIC HEARINGS ON HBLR's NORTHERN BRANCH: NJ TRANSIT continued to advance the expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system into Bergen County by holding two public hearings, on Monday, as part of the environmental review process. The hearings, held at the Englewood Crowne Plaza, are part of a 60-day public comment period on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS). The Northern Branch SDEIS documents the social, economic, and environmental impacts associated with the construction of the proposed action. This comment period began on March 24, 2017, when the SDEIS was published, and runs through May 23, 2017. During this time, members of the public are invited to review the SDEIS document and submit their comments in writing or by attending one of the public hearings. Today’s public hearings included a formal presentation, an open house with information and displays as well as the ability for members of the public to submit oral or written comments. At the conclusion of the public comment period, NJ TRANSIT will collect and review all of the comments. Provided that the SDEIS comments do not present compelling arguments for substantial revision, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) will be prepared for review by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The culmination of the process is that the FTA will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the project to advance to engineering. Once the ROD is issued and funding is identified, the project could then advance to final engineering, as well as the negotiation of an agreement with the freight railroads (CSX and NYS&W), and into construction. About Northern Branch project The Northern Branch project will extend the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system by 10 miles and include seven new station stops in five municipalities. The electric light rail service would operate on West Side Avenue in North Bergen, and then on existing railroad right-of-way owned by CSX Transportation (CSX) between 91st Street in North Bergen and the northern border of Englewood and would introduce new station stops in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Englewood. The extension is projected to add 12,370 customers to the system making 24,740 trips on an average weekday. The existing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system transports approximately 26-thousand customers making 52-thousand trips on an average weekday (FY16). (NJ TRANSIT - 4/25 )

CHESAPEAKE & DELAWARE RAILWAY: Certain principals, currently or formerly of the Black River & Western Railroad, Belvidere & Delaware River Railway, and The Maryland and Delaware Railroad Company have formed an alliance trading as Chesapeake and Delaware, LLC. The new company seeks to improve administrative and operating efficiencies of owned organizations and aggressively seek new railroad related opportunities. Projects will be announced as they develop. (C&D press release - 4/24 )

FMCB ADOPTS MBTA STRATEGIC PLAN: The MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) today approved an MBTA Strategic Plan, a document that fulfills the FMCB requirement in its enabling legislation that required development of such a plan. This plan serves as a blueprint for institutionalizing the objectives and strategies needed to ensure continuous improvement for the MBTA. The Strategic Plan sets forth the MBTA's vision, mission, and values statement and creates specific objectives for the MBTA that fall under the following headings: safety, customers, infrastructure, fiscal sustainability, accessibility, workforce, management, environment, governance, and capacity. "This Plan reflects a year's worth of effort by the FMCB and managers across the MBTA to build consensus and make progress on the actions that must be taken by the MBTA and its stakeholders to ensure the MBTA becomes a best-in-class transit system that exceeds the expectations of its customers," said FMCB Chairman Joseph Aiello. A key priority within the Strategic Plan is to bring all MBTA assets into a State of Good Repair (SGR) in fifteen years rather than twenty-five as previously projected. In 2015, nearly one-third of the MBTA's physical assets were not in a state of good repair, with an SGR backlog estimated at $7.3 billion (this amount did not include some components of the Commuter Rail system and other key assets). The Strategic Plan aims to expand capital delivery capacity to achieve a minimum of $1 billion in annual SGR spending within four years and eliminate the backlog in fifteen years, create and effectively manage capital delivery capacity, implement asset management and lifecycle maintenance for all current and future MBTA assets, and address the SGR needs of business processes and information management. The Strategic Plan includes several other overarching priorities. The bus system is to be reinvented for better reliability, improved amenities, and a comprehensive redesign of the entire network. Reliable service and affordable fares will be delivered as part of a new Automated Fare Collection system by FY21. "For too long we've underinvested in our bus system and its nearly half a million weekday riders. Serving these-often our most transit-dependent and loyal customers-is a top priority of this Board and this Strategic Plan," said Director Monica Tibbits-Nutt. Operating costs will continue to be driven down and a goal for annual non-fare, own-source revenue has been set to $100 million by FY21. Planning will be completed for fleet, facilities, and service to achieve specific capacity targets, which will be established by the end of 2017. Also included within the Strategic Plan are a number of objectives that address safety, MBTA customers, infrastructure, fiscal sustainability, accessibility, the MBTA workforce, MBTA management, the environment, governance, and capacity. Next steps called for in the Strategic Plan include hiring a new MBTA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer who can ensure the Strategic Plan's initiatives are the foundation of future operating and capital improvement budget requests. To this end, the new GM/CEO should have adequate and fully dedicated resource availability, the Plan says. Further next steps include establishing annual State of Good Repair targets with progress monitored through an asset management system, completion of the Focus40 capital investment planning process, comprehensive redesign of the bus network, refinement of the post-FMCB future governance structure for the MBTA, a five- and ten-year operating expense pro forma and the development of a five- and twenty-year capital plan, addressing riding pension costs, annual progress reports, and regular updates to the Strategic Plan. With the implementation of the Strategic Plan, the region will benefit from expanded capacity on rapid transit lines through shortened headways, innovations along the Commuter Rail system with a next contract structure that better serves the region and taxpayers, and an improved bus system that serves areas where demand is growing. The Strategic Plan aims to accomplish these initiatives through internal improvements and collaborations with cities and towns with a focus on fast, reliable, accessible, and consistent service for the MBTA ridership. (MBTA - 4/24 )

CANADIAN NATIONAL FIRST QUARTER 2017 NET INCOME: Jobin, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "I am very proud of the solid response from our team of railroaders in accommodating the strong demand during the quarter. We delivered record first-quarter volumes, including a 14 per cent increase in Western Canadian grain tonnage moved over our network, despite a return to more demanding winter conditions versus last year. "Our ongoing investments in people, equipment and infrastructure continue to position us well to leverage CN's industry-leading operational performance and superior customer service," Jobin continued. "With a strong start in Q1 and an increased volume outlook for the rest of the year, I am pleased to announce an upward revision to our 2017 financial outlook." Revised 2017 financial outlook (2) Under its revised outlook, CN now aims to deliver 2017 adjusted diluted EPS in the range of C$4.95 to C$5.10, versus last year's adjusted diluted EPS (1) of C$4.59, compared with its Jan. 24, 2017 financial outlook which called for mid-single-digit growth this year. CN has also increased its 2017 capital program by C$100 million to C$2.6 billion, of which C$1.6 billion is still targeted toward track infrastructure. The additional capital investment will go toward the purchase of 22 high-horsepower locomotives and other projects to support growth.
  • Foreign currency impact on results Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. The fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar affects the conversion of the Company's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses. On a constant currency basis, (1) CN's net income for the first quarter of 2017 would have been higher by C$22 million, or C$0.03 per diluted share.
  • First-quarter 2017 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses Revenues for the first quarter of 2017 were C$3,206 million, an increase of eight per cent, when compared to the same period in 2016. Revenues increased for coal (39 per cent), grain and fertilizers (16 per cent), metals and minerals (16 per cent), automotive (10 per cent), intermodal (seven per cent), and petroleum and chemicals (one per cent). Revenues declined for forest products (three per cent). The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to higher volumes of Canadian and U.S. grain, frac sand, coal exports, overseas intermodal traffic, and finished vehicles; freight rate increases; and higher applicable fuel surcharge rates. These factors were partly offset by the negative translation impact of a stronger Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues.
  • Carloadings for the quarter increased by nine per cent to 1,368 thousand, and rail freight revenue per carload decreased by one per cent. Revenue ton-miles (RTMs), measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by 14 per cent from the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per RTM decreased by six per cent over the year-earlier period, mainly driven by an increase in the average length of haul and the negative translation impact of a stronger Canadian dollar, partly offset by freight rate increases and higher applicable fuel surcharge rates.
  • Operating expenses for the first quarter increased by nine per cent to C$1,903 million, mainly due to higher fuel prices and higher costs due to increased volumes of traffic, partly offset by the positive translation impact of a stronger Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses.
(CN, Randy Kotuby - 4/24 )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    STATEMENT FROM AMTRAK PRESIDENT AND CEO WICK MOORMAN ON NEW YORK PENN STATION: I apologize to everyone who has been inconvenienced by the recent delays and cancellations at New York Penn Station. It’s our job to make sure that commuters and intercity passengers can safely and reliably travel along the Northeast Corridor and we know we let them down with these recent derailments. Our customers and partners deserve better. I have just visited with our hard-working crews and we expect to have all tracks at New York Penn Station at full service tomorrow. Based on our recent investigations, we can confirm that problems with our tracks in Penn Station were a cause of both recent derailments. With the March 24 Acela Express derailment, we had a mismatch between two pieces of rail that connected together in a curve, which created a step-like condition that contributed to a wheel of our Acela Express trainset derailing. This week’s NJ Transit derailment appears to have been caused by a wide gauge condition due to defective wood ties. We are working around the clock to both repair the damage caused by the second incident and to ensure that we have no other track problems in this busiest and most important terminal. The immediate steps we’ve taken to fix the issues we’ve identified so far include:
    • Upon discovering this misaligned rail, we immediately surveyed all other sites at the station that could possibly have the same condition, and we can confirm that none were found.
    • We have changed our specs to eliminate the possibility of a mismatched condition.
    • We have launched joint inspections with the Federal Railroad Administration to ensure that all aspects of our infrastructure at New York Penn Station are in good order. We will share the full results of these inspections with both NJ Transit and Long Island Railroad so that they understand what we’ve found.
    • We are assembling a team that will be dedicated to address any maintenance deficiencies at the station and will reprioritize our work and support of various other projects to ensure, first and foremost, the basic condition of the terminal.
    • I am leading a comprehensive review of our maintenance practices and Engineering department, including bringing in independent experts, to ensure we have the right processes and organization to maintain and improve our infrastructure.
    For more than 40 years Amtrak has worked alongside commuter rail lines on the Northeast Corridor. It is a proven partnership and we are dedicated to providing the levels of service necessary so that people can rely on rail travel. We are committed to providing a consistently reliable transportation service for everyone – and to provide a better experience for the customers of Amtrak and our commuter partners. (Amtrak - 4/06)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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