April 20, 2018:
GE CONSIDERS SALE OF LOCOMOTIVE UNIT TO WABTEC:
General Electric Co. is negotiating with Wabtec concerning the sale of its
locomotive manufacturing unit. A deal for the sale of the GE unit has not been concluded.
If negotiations fall through, GE will look at other venues to sell its locomotive manufacturing unit.
(Randy Kotuby - posted 4/20)
AMTRAK DOWNGRADES FOOD SERVICE ON TWO LONG DISTANCE TRAINS:
Amtrak will offer contemporary and fresh dining choices for sleeping car customers, instead of traditional dining car service, embarking aboard its Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains starting June 1.
Sleeping car customers will choose meals delivered to their Bedrooms or Roomettes – or eaten in a private café or lounge car – and entrees such as:
These meals will continue to be included in the sleeping car fare and are delivered to the trains just prior to origination, eliminating on-board preparation. Customers will also be offered unlimited soft beverages, a complimentary serving of beer, wine or a mixed-drink and an amenity kit. A Kosher meal continues to be available with advance notice.
“Our plan is to provide new and fresh food choices in a contemporary way for these overnight trains,” said Bob Dorsch, Vice President of the Amtrak Long Distance Service Line. “Our continued success depends on increasing customer satisfaction while becoming more efficient.”
Dorsch said this enhancement will continue to be refined and we look forward to hearing from our customers.
The Capitol Limited (Trains 29 & 30) operates daily between Washington, D.C., and Chicago, via Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The Lake Shore Limited (Trains 48 & 49) typically operates daily between Chicago and New York, with a section to and from Boston (Trains 448 & 449).
(Amtrak - posted 4/19)
- Lunch & Dinner: Chilled beef tenderloin, Vegan wrap, Chicken Caesar salad, or Turkey club sandwich.
- Breakfast: Assorted breakfast breads with butter, cream cheese and strawberry jam; Greek yogurt and sliced seasonal fresh fruit plate.
CSX REPORTS SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS:
CSX Corporation announced record first quarter 2018 net earnings of $695 million, or $0.78 per share, versus $362 million, or $0.39 per share in the same period last year. CSX’s operating ratio for the quarter improved 950 basis points to 63.7 percent from 73.2 percent in the prior year. Compared to 2017 first quarter adjusted operating results, which excluded restructuring charges, this represents an operating ratio improvement of 570 basis points and a 53 percent increase in earnings per share year over year.
“CSX employees did a great job of running the railroad and executing the scheduled railroading model during challenging weather conditions,” said James M. Foote, president and chief executive officer. “We’re more confident in our ability to deliver safe, reliable, best-in-class service for our customers and enhanced value for our shareholders.”
Revenue for the first quarter remained relatively flat at $2.88 billion, while expenses declined 13 percent year over year or 8 percent when excluding prior year restructuring charges. Operating income for the quarter increased 36 percent to $1.04 billion when compared to $769 million in the same period last year or 19 percent when compared to the adjusted operating income of $879 million reported in the first quarter of 2017.
“Since implementation of scheduled railroading began in March 2017, CSX has taken significant strides to transform the organization and to make CSX more competitive,” said Foote. “Our company’s operating model provides substantial opportunities to leverage our service product offering, capture growth and deliver superior financial returns.”
(CSX - posted 4/18)
CANADIAN PACIFIC REPORTS SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS:
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced first-quarter reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.41, or $2.70 on an adjusted diluted EPS basis.
"This was a challenging quarter, as we battled extreme weather and unprecedented demand, specifically in the northern reaches of our network," said Keith Creel, CP's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Despite these challenges, we delivered 6 percent more freight than last year, demonstrating once again the resiliency of our operating model and the commitment from our family of professional railroaders. With the extraordinary winter weather behind us, we built a tremendous amount of momentum through March - one of our best months in recent history - positioning us well for the rest of the year."
"We continue to produce results using the foundations of precision railroading and remain confident in our ability to deliver sustainable, profitable growth in 2018 and beyond," Creel said. "We look forward to showcasing our proven operating model, strong leadership team, and commitment to disciplined growth at our Investor Day on June 5 and 6 in Calgary."
Randy Kotuby, CP - posted 4/18)
- Volumes as measured by revenue ton-miles increased 6 percent and carloads increased 4 percent
- Revenue increased by 4 percent to $1.66 billion from $1.60 billion
- Reported diluted EPS $2.41, an 18 percent decrease from $2.93, and adjusted diluted EPS was $2.70, an 8 percent increase from $2.50 last year
- Operating ratio was 67.5 percent, an increase of 510 basis points and 190 basis points compared to last year's operating ratio and adjusted operating ratio, respectively. Effective January 1, 2018, CP adopted a new accounting standard for the presentation of pension retirement benefits which resulted in a 430 basis point increase in CP's 2017 operating ratio.(1)
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 14, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 14, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 534,198 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending April 14 were 258,123 carloads, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,075 containers and trailers, up 6.9 percent compared to 2017.
Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included motor vehicles and parts, up 2,609 carloads, to 18,838; metallic ores and metals, up 2,174 carloads, to 24,785; and nonmetallic minerals, up 1,420 carloads, to 37,834. One commodity group posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2017: coal, down 6,265 carloads, to 75,778.
For the first 15 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,816,220 carloads, up 0.2 percent from the same point last year; and 4,035,463 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 15 weeks of 2018 was 7,851,683 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.8 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 14, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,625 carloads, up 2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,909 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 724,534 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2018 was 10,588,773 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.6 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 84,648 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 67,335 intermodal units, up 7.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 15 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,168,076 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.1 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 20,854 carloads for the week and 17,499 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2018 was 569,014 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers
(AAR - posted 4/18)
CANADIAN NATIONAL TO TAKEOVER THE GODERICH-EXETER RAILWAY:
Canadian National will assume operations of Genesee & Wyoming's Goderich-Exeter Railway effective November 15, 2018. The Goderich-Exeter is a 181 mile railroad in Southern Ontario created from Canadian National track in 1992.
Originally the line was part of RailTex, then Rail America, before becoming a Genesee & Wyoming property.The railroad has been upgraded with CTC to accomodate VIA Rail passenger trains that operate over the line.
(Bryce Lee - posted 4/17)
SEPTA PUBLIC HEARINGS ON FISCAL YEAR 2019 OPERATING BUDGET:
This week, SEPTA begins a series of public hearings regarding the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget. The proposal is available at
The proposed Operating Budget is $1.45 billion, and maintains current SEPTA service levels, with no increase in fares for riders. Fiscal Year 2019 is the 12-month period that begins July 1, 2018 and ends June 30, 2019. The operating budget provides funding for the everyday costs of running the transit system, such as labor, fuel and power.
Hearings will be held in each of the five counties in the SEPTA service region from Wednesday, April 18 through Tuesday, April 24. Customers, residents, stakeholders and other members of the public are encouraged to attend, ask questions and submit comments. An independent Hearing Examiner will attend all sessions, and make recommendations before the proposal goes to the SEPTA Board for a vote.
The public hearing schedule is as follows:
For further details on the budget, please see the full proposal at
(SEPTA - posted 4/16)
- Wednesday, April 18: Delaware County Court House, County Council Room-1st Floor; 201 We st Front Street, Media, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Thursday, April 19: Bucks County Free Library, Pearl Buck Room; 150 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Friday, April 20: (Chester County) Spellman Building, Council Meeting Room; 829 Paoli Pike, West Chester, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Monday, April 23: (Philadelphia) SEPTA Headquarters - Board Room, Mezzanine Level; 1234 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA. Sessions at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 24: Montgomery County Human Services Center Community Room, Main Floor; 1430 DeKalb Street, Norristown, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN SUES CREW INVOLVED IN COLLISION:
Norfolk Southern has sued in federal court an engineer and conductor who were aboard a freight train than collided with another NS train last month in Scott County, Ky.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the suit claims the crew ignored a signal and failed to reduce the speed of their moving train and prevent the March 18 collision with a stopped train.
NS’s lawsuit seeks compensation from the crew for damages caused by the collision, which destroyed two locomotives and caused 13 cars to derail, the newspaper reported
(SMART/Sheet Metal Air Rail Union - posted 4/13)
VIA RAIL AWARDS $46 MILLION CONTRACT TO CAD RAILWAY INDUSTRIES FOR RENOVATION OF 25 TRAIN CARS:
VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) has awarded a contract valued at $46 million to Cad Railway Industries (Cad) to upgrade 25 train cars intended for use on the long-haul train, the Canadian. Built in the 1950s, these cars will be completely refurbished and transformed to better meet our clients’ present and future needs. VIA Rail President and Chief Executive Officer Yves Desjardins-Siciliano announced the investment this morning at the company’s Montreal site in the presence of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport; Anju Dhillon, Member of Parliament for Dorval-Lachine-LaSalle; Françoise Bertrand, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, VIA Rail; and Fausto Levy, Cad Chairperson of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer. This work will be undertaken by 100 Cad employees at their Montreal facilities.
As part of VIA Rail’s commitment to sustainable mobility, the contract awarded to Cad to renovate these stainless steel cars will extend their useful life by a few decades and is in keeping with the Corporation’s “reuse-recycle-upgrade” approach. The cars will be retrofitted with a view to enhancing the passenger experience and making the equipment more reliable.
The work will include:
Providing safe, accessible and environmentally sound services
The renovations are part of VIA Rail’s transformation plan for Canadian rail passenger service. This plan includes renovating a part of the rolling stock and acquiring a new fleet for the Quebec City – Windsor corridor. Funding for these undertakings was approved by the federal government in its 2017 and 2018 Budgets, respectively. As part of this program, a contract was awarded to Bombardier Transportation for the renovation of 17 train cars that will form a new fully accessible generation of cars. This work will significantly increase the number of refurbished 1950s-era cars to better serve our clients. The program is scheduled to be completed in 2020. The contracts with Cad and Bombardier are in addition to 33 cars currently under renovation, and the other cars that were converted over the past years by VIA Rail’s Montreal Maintenance Centre experts.
(VIA Rail Canada - posted 4/12)
- updating the interior design of the cars;
- improving seat comfort;
- installing devices to make the cars Wi-Fi ready for future deployment;
- carrying out a mechanical upgrading;
- renewing the heating systems;
- replacing various electronic/electrical components.
MTA APPOINTS TRANSPORTATION VETERAN PHILLIP ENG
AS LIRR PRESIDENT:
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Joseph J. Lhota and MTA Managing Director Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim today announced the appointment of Phillip Eng as the next president of MTA Long Island Rail Road.
Eng first joined the MTA in March 2017 when he was appointed Chief Operating Officer, where he was responsible for leading major initiatives across all of the MTA’s agencies with a focus on innovation and technology while maintaining and improving safety and reliability. Modernization of the transportation systems became a key focal point during his time as COO to improve customer service with the development of new fare payment systems, mobile ticketing apps, technology integration, and procurement of new rolling stock and buses. Finding efficiencies and opportunities to streamline functions, Eng also was an integral part in the delivery of MTA’s 2015-2019 $29.5 billion Capital Program.
From October 2017 to January 2018, Eng concurrently held the position of Acting President at New York City Transit.
“Phil has shown exceptional leadership and dedication during his time at the MTA, and I know he will bring his enthusiasm for developing a world-class transportation system to the LIRR,” Lhota said. “With 35 years of experience in the New York transportation sector, I couldn’t imagine anyone better suited for this position at this crucial time as we work toward creating a robust future for the commuter rail.”
“Phil is a true professional in the field of transportation who has impressed all of us at the MTA since he came aboard,” said Hakim. “He has the ability to quickly assess any challenging situation and find a workable solution. We look forward to working with him in his new role.”
Eng succeeds Patrick Nowakowski, who served as LIRR president for nearly four years.
Eng’s appointment comes at an exciting and important time for the LIRR, as billions of dollars in key infrastructure programs are currently underway and expected to be delivered over the next several years. The Double Track Project, which will add a second track to the Ronkonkoma Branch between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale, is slated for completion later this year. Work has begun on the LIRR Expansion Project, which will bring a third track to the Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville, while crews continue to make progress on the East Side Access project. Eng will oversee the implementation of the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), unveiled last month, which is aimed at improving service reliability, seasonal preparedness and customer communications.
“My life’s work has centered on conceptualizing the best possible options to make transportation options more reliable, allowing commuters to get where they need to go safely and quickly. I am honored to be chosen to lead the LIRR and its team of talented women and men as we work together to make the daily experience on the trains a better one. The transformational infrastructure projects that are underway, along with the implementation of the Performance Improvement Plan, will make a lasting impact on the region’s quality of life and economy,” Eng said.
Before joining the MTA, Eng started his career in public service at New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) in 1983 as a Junior Engineer. He gained expertise while working his way up from Construction Supervisor, to Director of Operations, to Regional Director of the Department’s New York City office and Chief Engineer, until his final post there as Executive Deputy Commissioner. His leadership focused on all aspects of the Department including: engineering, operations and capital planning, where he was also directly responsible for the delivery of the Department’s $2.5 billion annual capital construction program. During his tenure there, Eng played an integral role on significant projects such as the I-81 Environmental Impact Study (EIS), LIRR Mainline Expansion Project EIS, Rochester Station and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to replace the Kosciuszko Bridge.
A graduate of Cooper Union, Eng earned his Bachelor of Engineering degree and is a licensed professional engineer in New York State, and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Eng was born and raised on Long Island. He grew up in Williston Park, moved to Mineola as his first residence, and now resides in Smithtown with his wife, Carole, and their two sons and twin daughters. “My home stations have been East Williston, Mineola and Smithtown now,” he said.
(MTA - posted 4/12)
READING & NORTHERN WINS MAJOR MARKETING AWARD:
Yesterday the American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association awarded the industry’s highest award for marketing achievement to the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad. This is the fourth time Reading & Northern has won this prestigious award in the last eight years. Bill Clark, Senior Vice President - Coal accepted the award yesterday at a ceremony in Nashville, TN.
The Association recognized Reading & Northern for its efforts to connect a large anthracite coal producer, Atlantic Coal in Hazleton, to the interstate railroad system. The project was made more complicated because the facility was along the lines of Norfolk Southern Railroad. Reading & Northern had rights to travel over the Norfolk Southern line and with the active support of the Norfolk Southern Coal Business Group, Reading & Northern was able to get permission to connect to the Atlantic Coal facility.
This cooperative effort was an acknowledgment of the unique role Reading & Northern holds in transporting Pennsylvania anthracite. Long known as “The Road of Anthracite”, Reading & Northern has acquired over 1200 coal cars and a weigh-in-motion scale in North Reading to facilitate the movement of Pennsylvania anthracite. At Reading the railcars filled with anthracite coal is interchanged to Norfolk Southern. In 2017 over 7300 cars were interchanged to Norfolk Southern.
This close working relationship caused Norfolk Southern to greenlight the Reading & Northern plan to connect with Atlantic Coal. Even after that approval it took almost seven years of hard work and persistence for Reading & Northern and Atlantic Coal to complete the project. Atlantic Coal had to acquire government approvals to build the track and ultimately Reading & Northern completed the construction in 2017.
In its first partial year of operation Atlantic Coal shipped over 500 carloads of anthracite. It is anticipated that Atlantic Coal will soon be shipping in excess of 2,000 carloads a year, thus removing over 8,000 trucks from local roads and highways.
Reading & Northern’s superior marketing and business development efforts is reflected in its growth. Over the last 5 years, Reading & Northern’s carloadings increased 50%. In 2017 Reading & Northern broke all its freight records and handled over 31,000 carloads.
In addition, Reading & Northern’s passenger operation, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, also broke all previous ridership record as over 120,000 visitors rode its trains.
Reading & Northern Railroad, with its corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, is a privately held railroad company serving over 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has expanded its operations over the last 20+ years and has grown into one of the premier railroads in Pennsylvania with over 320 miles of track. Reading and Northern operates both freight services and steam and diesel-powered excursion passenger services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, owns almost 1,300 freight cars, and employs over 200 dedicated employees
(R&N - posted 4/11)
MBTA TO REBUILD WELLINGTON YARD AND UPGRADE ORANGE LINE SIGNAL SYSTEM:
The MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) voted to award a $102.7 million contract for rebuilding the Wellington Rail Yard and upgrading its signal systems to Barletta Heavy Division.
"At a total capital investment of $1.98 billion, we are not only purchasing a new fleet of Orange and Red Line vehicles, but our Red and Orange Line Infrastructure Improvements Program also covers infrastructure upgrades to track, power, signals, and facilities like Wellington Yard," said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. "Although customers might not feel the immediate impact of these upgrades, they are just as necessary to providing a more reliable, dependable service that our customers deserve."
The 36-month project is necessary to support the arrival of 152 new Orange Line cars. Under the contract, Barletta is responsible for the replacement of critical elements throughout Wellington Yard, allowing for the operation, proper maintenance, and reliable service for the new vehicle fleet.
The scope includes:
Barletta submitted the lowest of 3 bids for the contract.
(MBTA - posted 4/11)
- drainage system repairs
- new ballast and ties
- new running and restraining rail
- traction power work
- signal equipment
- switch heater control cases
- third rail heater control cables
- junction boxes
- signal cable conduit and trough duct banks
- wayside telephone system
- fixed WiFi data network
- CCTV system
- fiber optic/copper cable network system for local voice/data communications
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 7, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 7, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 524,905 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending April 7 were 261,898 carloads, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,007 containers and trailers, up 3.1 percent compared to 2017.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 6,497 carloads, to 81,476; metallic ores and metals, up 2,427 carloads, to 23,401; and chemicals, up 2,138 carloads, to 33,694. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included motor vehicles and parts, down 759 carloads, to 17,103; nonmetallic minerals, down 587 carloads, to 35,567; and miscellaneous carloads, down 331 carloads, to 9,087.
For the first 14 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,558,097 carloads, up 0.1 percent from the same point last year; and 3,759,388 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2018 was 7,317,485 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 7, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 365,482 carloads, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 349,005 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 714,487 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2018 was 9,864,299 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 83,042 carloads for the week, up 6.5 percent, and 69,295 intermodal units, up 10.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 14 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,016,093 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 20,542 carloads for the week, down 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,703 intermodal units, down 2.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2018 was 530,721 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.9 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 4/11)
AMTRAK EMPIRE CONNECTION RENEWAL PROGRAM THIS SUMMER:
Amtrak will continue its Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station during Summer 2018 by performing critical reconstruction of three major railroad infrastructure assets in New York City: The Empire Tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, which provides train access between Upstate New York and New York Penn Station, as well as renewal work on Track 19 in New York Penn Station, which will help provide commuters with more reliable service. The total cost of the projects is estimated between $45 and $50 million, which will keep this important infrastructure in a state of good repair for Amtrak and benefit New York State with an upgraded, state-of-the art railroad.
Due to the work on the Empire Connection and Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Adirondack, and Maple Leaf trains will all be rerouted from New York Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal between Saturday, May 26, and Tuesday, Sept. 4. The Lake Shore Limited will only operate between Boston and Chicago, with New York City and Hudson Valley customers connecting from Empire Service trains at Albany-Rensselaer.
While the schedules have yet to be finalized, there will be fewer service impacts and schedule changes compared to Summer 2017. The work on Track 19 will occur between Friday, June 8, and Friday, July 20. The modified schedule Amtrak announced in January 2018 will continue until the work on Track 19 is complete.
“Amtrak is continuing to prioritize updating the infrastructure in and around New York Penn Station to improve our service reliability,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President and COO Scot Naparstek. “We thank our partners for their coordination and flexibility as we continue this important and necessary work.”
Specifics of the work include:
Amtrak is in the process of updating its schedule to reflect the adjusted train service. Amtrak’s reservation systems will be updated to reflect the reroute of trains to Grand Central Terminal once the schedule is determined, and any passenger already booked on a train will be contacted and accommodated on other scheduled services. Additional information and updates will be posted on Amtrak.com and Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal. Amtrak will also have staff and Quik-Trak ticketing kiosks at Grand Central Terminal throughout the Summer.
While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required. During the summer of 2017, Amtrak kicked off its Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station, and continued it in early 2018. The Infrastructure Renewal program is one element of Amtrak’s plan to modernize stations, infrastructure, and equipment on the Northeast Corridor.
(Amtrak - posted 4/09)
- Empire Connection – Amtrak will be replacing track in the Empire Tunnel, as well as replacing cross ties, grade crossings and 8,000 feet of continuous rail, including the track between the tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.
- Spuyten Duyvil Bridge – Amtrak will be updating the bridge’s mechanical and electrical equipment, which was corroded by Hurricane Sandy.
- Track 19 at New York Penn Station – Amtrak will replace three turnouts and conduct total ballasted track and wood tie track replacement.
NJ TRANSIT APPROVES ELIZABETH STATION RECONSTRUCTION:
The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today approved the reconstruction of the Elizabeth rail station. The project features new inbound and outbound station buildings, longer platforms for additional boarding capacity as well as improvements to ADA access, security and communications systems and improvements to the customer experience - posted 4/09)
“This project is a perfect example of the investments we are making to restore the rail system,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “A new, modern and efficient station capable of handling the demands of this important Northeast Corridor stop is critical. This project is emblematic of the turn-around we are beginning at NJ TRANSIT.”
The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved the Final Design and Construction contract with Anselmi and DeCicco in the amount of $49.2 million. In addition, the Board of Directors approved a contract for Construction Management Services with WSP USA Inc. in the amount of $4.7 million. The total project cost is estimated at $71 million and construction is scheduled to finish in summer 2022.
When complete, customers will enjoy new station buildings, longer platforms for improved boarding of 12-car trains, climate controlled platform shelters, additional elevators, improved ADA access, new customer communication systems and additional security elements
(NJ Transit - posted 4/10)
LIRR TO TEST UPGRADED SIGNAL SYSTEM AND PERFORM PTC TESTS DURING UPCOMING WEEKENDS:
Long Island Rail Road crews will work on a series of important projects over the next several weekends, including tests on East Side Access signals, and Positive Train Control, as well as tie replacement on the Reynold’s Bridge, which spans Reynolds Channel and connects Island Park to the City of Long Beach.
This Friday, April 6, to Monday, April 9, and again from April 13-15, testing will be performed on a new signal system at Harold Interlocking, an important step furthering progress on the East Side Access project that will connect the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal. The work will begin each Friday at 10:18 p.m. and continue to 5 a.m. each Monday.
On the weekends of April 6, 13 and 20, LIRR crews will replace ties at Reynold’s Channel Bridge. To allow for this work, the Long Beach Branch between Valley Stream and Long Beach stations will be out of service on these weekends from Fridays at 10:30 p.m. until those Mondays at 3:01 a.m. Customers on this span of the branch will be accommodated by buses.
Simultaneously, the LIRR will perform critical tests needed for Positive Train Control (PTC) between Woodside and Bayside on the Port Washington Branch. Positive Train Control is a major safety enhancement for the LIRR that is designed to eliminate the potential for human error to contribute to a number of types of derailments and train-to-train collisions.
On the Port Jefferson Branch, preparations will be done in Woodbury and Huntington in anticipation of new rail to be installed in this area as part of the Continuous Welded Rail program, an ongoing initiative to renew track infrastructure assets. This work will be done on April 7-8 and 14-15 from 12:30 a.m. on Saturdays to 12:45 a.m. on Sundays. Temporary road closures at crossings at Avery Road in Woodbury, as well as Gate Drive, Rogues Path, Oakwood Road and 11th Street in Huntington may be necessary for 20-30 minutes at certain times. MTA and LIRR personnel will be on site to ensure a safe and orderly operation.
The new signal system at Harold Interlocking will ensure smooth and improved train service through the interlocking, an integral piece of infrastructure containing numerous switches that route trains across the tracks that lead to Penn Station. The new system is based on microprocessor technology, which has built-in redundancies and replaces an older hard-wired relay-based signal system.
To allow for the East Side Access, Positive Train Control and Reynold’s Channel Bridge projects, some LIRR train departure times may be altered, and train service on some branches will be adjusted.
The LIRR urges customers to view special timetables found at
for a complete listing of train schedules for these weekends.
The Long Beach Branch, Port Jefferson Branch, and Port Washington Branch will experience the most notable service changes
(MTA - posted 4/09)
SEPTA UPGRADING CHESTNUT HILL EAST LINE:
Beginning April 7, SEPTA in-house forces and third-party contractors will perform work as part of a series of projects that will improve service reliability along the Chestnut Hill East Regional Rail Line. While crews are working, there will be no train service at Chestnut Hill East Stations for three consecutive Saturdays, April 7, 14, and 21.
Trenton Regional Rail Line trains that normally operate through Center City to Chestnut Hill East Stations will terminate at Temple University Station.
Passengers taking SEPTA Regional Rail should use the Chestnut Hill West Line as an alternate service option to complete their trips between Center City and Chestnut Hill. Chestnut Hill West Regional Rail trains will operate on a regular Saturday schedule with trains providing hourly service.
(SEPTA - posted 4/09)
During construction, SEPTA crews and third-party contractors will perform the following:
- Replace wood ties and timbers for a major undergrade bridge near Wayne Junction Station;
- Make structural repairs to a catenary structure, damaged during a storm, near Wister Station;
- Install new platform walking surfaces at Wyndmoor Station;
- Trim trees along the entire Chestnut Hill East Line to restore sage electrical clearance around high voltage traction power lines;
- Perform track maintenance work on curves at Germantown Station;
- Soil boring and sampling track fill for analysis near Wyndmoor Station;
- Bridge painting and conducting structural inspections.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN MULTI-STATE SAFETY TRAIN TOUR UNDERWAY:
Norfolk Southern's safety train will stop in 23 cities during 2018 as part of its Operation Awareness & Response program, which provides first responders with free training on how to safely respond to a potential rail incident.
The safety train kicked off today in Hattiesburg, Miss., with three days of training at Norfolk Southern's rail yard there. Additional stops on the 2018 tour include communities in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The complete 2018 training schedule is available at the
At each location, NS hazardous materials specialists lead a four-hour course that combines classroom instruction and hands-on training on a locomotive and rail cars. Emergency personnel attending the training learn about railroad operations, basic safety precautions, initial-response procedures, types of rail equipment, and who to contact in an emergency. Following completion of the course, qualified emergency responders can download AskRail™, a free mobile application that provides immediate information about rail cars carrying hazardous materials should a rail incident occur.
"Our safety train is helping Norfolk Southern build and strengthen relationships with first responders across our network," said David Schoendorfer, system manager hazardous materials. "We want them to be equipped with the tools and resources they need to safely do their jobs when responding to potential rail incidents. It's all about helping our communities be prepared and safe."
The safety train consists of a dedicated locomotive, two boxcars converted into classrooms, three tank cars used in transporting all types of chemicals, and two flat cars equipped with intermodal containers and multiple tank car valve arrangements that can simulate leaks.
Each year, NS offers training to first responders in communities served by the railroad through programs such as TRANSCAER® (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response), a national network that promotes the safe transportation and handling of hazardous materials. The OAR program builds on these efforts by providing additional training opportunities such as classroom seminars, web-based courses, on-line resources, table-top drills, and full-scale exercises.
(Norfolk Southern - posted 4/09)
TULIP TIME TRAINS:
Amtrak is offering additional service between Chicago and Holland, Mich. for travelers to Holland’s annual Tulip Time Festival. A special stop at Hammond-Whiting, Ind., is also added. These trains on the Pere Marquette route, sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), will run on two Saturdays during the festival, May 5 and May 12, enabling same-day visits to what has been heralded as the nation’s “Best Flower Festival” and “America’s Best Small-Town Festival,” with more than 5 million tulips in bloom.
Skip tolls, traffic and parking fees by departing from Chicago at 7:05 a.m. and Hammond-Whiting at 7:30 a.m. (both times Central), arriving in Holland at 11:29 a.m. (Eastern Time). The return trip leaves Holland at 5:50 p.m. (ET), Hammond-Whiting at 7:52 p.m. (CT) and arrives in Chicago at 8:24 p.m. (CT). Parking at the Amtrak Hammond-Whiting station is free of charge and eastbound, Train 374, and westbound, Train 375, will also make intermediate stops at St. Joseph and Bangor. The full schedule can be seen when booking via
, our mobile apps, or by calling 800-USA-RAIL.
Book now for best availability and pricing. Adult fares on the Amtrak MidwestSM trains on those Saturdays range from $26-$48 each way. All Pere Marquette trains will stop at Hammond-Whiting on May 5 and 6 and May 12 and 13. The Pere Marquette also provides daily service from Chicago to Holland for travel during the nine-day festival. The Michigan page on Amtrak.com has more information.
In addition to the millions of blooming tulips, on Saturday, May 5, Tulip Time visitors can experience Tulip City tours, an artisan market, Kinderplaats, a quilt show, carnival, Dutch dance performances, and shopping in Downtown Holland. On Saturday, May 12, enjoy Tall Ships dockside, the quilt show and carnival, Dutch Marktplaats and food court, more shopping and Muziekparade, the largest parade of the week.
Information on shuttle services from the Holland station area and best ways to get around town on specific dates, along with the times and locations of all events are in this guide, by calling the Holland Area Visitors Bureau at 800-506-1299, or by visiting
(Amtrak - posted 4/09)
BOMBARDIER SECURES RAIL SERVICES CONTRACT EXTENSION WITH MARYLAND TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION:
Bombardier Transportation announced that it has signed a five-year extension to its current contract with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to provide operations and maintenance services for the Brunswick and Camden Lines of the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) Rail System. The contract extension is valued at approximately $288 million US (233 million euro).
Benoit Brossoit, President, Americas Region, Bombardier Transportation said, “We look forward to continuing to fulfill the mission of MTA by providing safe, efficient, and reliable transportation with world-class customer service. Bombardier’s strong services portfolio complements our innovative products and technologies, allowing us to form a genuine partnership with our customers throughout the entire product life cycle.”
Bombardier has been providing operations and maintenance services for the MARC Train’s Brunswick and Camden Linesunder a contract awarded in 2012. The scope of work includes operations, maintenance of a fleet of diesel locomotives and commuter rail cars including Bombardier-built multi-level vehicles, customer service, station and facility maintenance, and maintenance of rail infrastructure for the portion of the Brunswick Line owned by MTA.
An established Bombardier customer, MTA is a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation and one of the largest multi-modal transit systems in the United States. In addition to providing operations and maintenance services for the MARC Train’s Brunswick and Camden lines, Bombardier also is overhauling 63 MARC III bi-level commuter rail coaches. Previously, Bombardier manufactured 54 multi-level MARC IV coaches for the MTA and overhauled 34 single-level MARC IIB coaches.
(Bombardier- posted 3/30)
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 24, 2018:
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 526,521 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending March 24 were 265,756 carloads, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 260,765 containers and trailers, up 0.3 percent compared to 2017.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 7,979 carloads, to 87,348; chemicals, up 1,756 carloads, to 33,788; and nonmetallic minerals, up 667 carloads, to 35,776. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included motor vehicles and parts, down 1,717 carloads, to 16,675; miscellaneous carloads, down 1,504 carloads, to 9,417; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 697 carloads, to 9,889.
For the first 12 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,030,729 carloads, down 0.5 percent from the same point last year; and 3,227,100 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 12 weeks of 2018 was 6,257,829 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.6 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending March 24, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 369,719 carloads, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 347,774 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 717,493 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 12 weeks of 2018 was 8,429,626 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 82,618 carloads for the week, up 3 percent, and 70,986 intermodal units, up 13.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 12 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,712,693 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 21,345 carloads for the week, down 0.03 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,023 intermodal units, down 8.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 12 weeks of 2018 was 459,104 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year.
(FRA - posted 3/29)
STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD GRANTS:
Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of 27 rail freight improvement projects that will help sustain more than 400 jobs across Pennsylvania.
“Keeping our extensive rail freight system in good shape is a vital component of creating a sound foundation for Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Governor Wolf. “These investments underscore our continued commitment in building a world-class infrastructure system that supports the creation of new jobs and our business community.”
The State Transportation Commission voted to approve $32 million for the projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP).
“Rail freight is an important component of Pennsylvania’s transportation network and these investments create opportunities for expansion and job creation,” Secretary Richards said. “Governor Wolf and I are committed to delivering transportation services that keep people and goods moving and the economy growing in Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania, with 67 operating railroads, has more than any other state and PennDOT’s focus is on working with private rail operators to assist in maintaining and improving the roughly 5,600 miles of freight lines in the state.
Following is a list of approved rail freight projects with the state share:
- Allegheny County
Allegheny Valley Railroad Co., rehabilitate nearly 10 miles of the P&W subdivision from Bakerstown to Glenwood Yard, including replacing continuous welded rail and surfacing track to maintain safe rail operations, $2.9 million.
The Techs Industries, rehabilitate about three miles of track including tie replacement and track surfacing at the MetalTech and GalvTech facilities in Pittsburgh to maintain safe rail operations, $328,277.
Tube City IMS, LLC, rehabilitate about one mile of track in the West Mifflin plant yard as part of a 4 phased project, including replacing turnouts and ties, track surfacing, and track realignment to increase efficiency of yard operations, $700,000.
- Allegheny and Washington counties
Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Company, rehabilitate 18 railroad bridges on Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Company’s Pittsburgh and Rook Subdivisions including structural and bridge deck, $2.3 million.
- Beaver County
Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC, construct 10 miles of track from Aliquippa to Monaca, PA to transport construction materials for Shell’s plant and outbound product from the completed plant, which will improve the efficiency of operations and safety, $3.8 million.
- Berks, Bucks, Lancaster, and Montgomery counties
East Penn RR LLC, rehabilitate 12 miles of track on the Lancaster Northern line and 11 miles of track on the Quakertown line, including ties and track surfacing to maintain safe operations, $630,000.
- Bucks County
Tyburn RR LLC, rehabilitate about one mile of track at Tyburn Railroad’s Morrisville, truck transfer facility, including the replacement of 800 ties and track surfacing to maintain a state of good repair, $92,400.
- Cambria County
Gautier Steel, rehabilitate Gautier Steel’s plant tracks including replacing ties and rail, which will improve rail and truck traffic to and from the facility, $239,172.
- Chester County
Arcelor Mittal Plate, LLC, replace six turnouts and rehabilitate 450 feet of track at Arcelor Mittal Plate’s West Yard in Coatesville to improve track conditions, $286,944.
Mittal Steel USA Railways, Inc., Rehabilitate approximately 700 feet of track and replace 4 turnouts at Arcelor Mittal Plate’s Coatesville plant, including track re-alignment to support the movement of industry standard rail cars, $362,943.
- Clearfield and Indiana counties
RJ Corman RR Company, rehabilitate about 36 miles of track including rail, ties, ballast, and track surfacing on the Clearfield Cluster’s Cherry Tree, Cresson, and Wallaceton subdivisions to improve the efficiency of operations and safety, $4.2 million.
- Clearfield and Jefferson counties
Buffalo Pittsburgh Railroad, Inc., rehabilitate about 20 miles of track between Brookville and Falls Creek, facilitating continued freight rail service to Brookville Equipment Corp., $2.1 million.
- Crawford County
Oil Creek Titusville Lines, Inc., rehabilitate Oil Creek Titusville’s railroad bridge over Church Run including structural and bridge deck, $40,425.
- Dauphin County
Mittal Steel USA Railways Steelton & Highspire, rehabilitate approximately four miles of track, including the replacement of 10 turnouts, five crossings, and track surfacing to facilitate the safe movement of raw materials and finished steel products, $2 million.
Norfolk Southern, realign Norfolk Southern’s track in Middletown, which will provide greater clearances for rail freight trains and reduce track curvature, $3.9 million.
- Erie County
W J Beitler Co., construct a rail siding from Pittsburgh and Ohio Central Railroad to W J Beitler’s facility, which will provide new freight rail service, $250,000.
Western New York PA RR Co. LLC, rehabilitate approximately seven miles of track between Concord and Union City, including the replacement of ties and rail, track surfacing, and repairing an at-grade crossing, which will improve safety, $697,909.
- Fayette County
Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad Co., replace and surface three miles of track with continuous welded rail from Broadford to the Fayette County line to improve safety and operations, $1.8 million.
- Lackawanna County
Scranton Transload Inc., rehabilitate .25 mile of track from Delaware-Lackawanna’s line to Scranton Transload’s facility including the replacement of 2 turnouts and surfacing of track which will allow for materials to be transported to the facility by rail instead of truck, $700,000.
The Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad Co., Inc., rehabilitate 19 miles of the Carbondale Line and construct a 1,000-foot yard track, including ties, track surfacing, and bridge repairs which will improve operations and yard capacity, $686,000.
- Lehigh County
RJ Corman RR Co- Allentown, rehabilitate about 1.2 miles of track leading into and within RJ Corman’s Allentown yard, including the replacement of ties and ballast and track surfacing to maintain track condition, $266,673.
- Montour County
United States Gypsum, construct approximately 2,000 feet of storage track at the United States Gypsum facility to accommodate longer unit trains and increase unloading efficiency, $250,000.
- Northampton County
Lehigh Valley Rail Management LLC, rehabilitate about four miles of track, including the replacement of ties, timbers, and turnouts in the River Interchange Yard to improve interchange operations, $350,000.
Phoenix Lithographing Corporation, construct approximately one mile of track, two turnouts, and an at-grade crossing in a Philadelphia industrial park to provide new rail service to Phoenix Lithographing Corp., $700,000.
- Somerset County
Corsa Coal, rehabilitate 10 miles of track from the CSX interchange to the Cambria Branch Plant in Berlin, to improve track condition and safe operations, $345,861.
LCT Energy, construct about three miles of track from Norfolk Southern’s interchange to LCT Energy’s Laurel Plant, including an at-grade crossing, which will enable the plant to resume operation, $700,000.
(State of PA. - posted 3/28)
- Westmoreland County
Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp., rehabilitate approximately three miles of track from Radebaugh to South Greensburg by replacing jointed rail with continuous welded rail, that will improve the replacement of existing rail and steel components on the Radebaugh subdivision, $1.7 million.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN APPOINTS MCCLELLAN, ELKINS TO NEW POSITIONS:
Norfolk Southern Corporation announced that its board of directors has elected Michael R. McClellan and Claude E. "Ed" Elkins to new positions of responsibility effective April 1.
The board named McClellan vice president strategic planning and Elkins vice president industrial products. In his new position, McClellan will report to Norfolk Southern Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires. As vice president industrial products, Elkins will report to NS Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Alan H. Shaw.
McClellan joined Conrail's general marketing and sales organization in 1985. In 1998, he was named assistant vice president performance planning for Norfolk Southern, became vice president intermodal and automotive marketing in 2000, and vice president industrial products in 2013. He holds an MBA from the University of Cincinnati and a degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.
Of McClellan, Squires noted, "Mike combines a strong understanding of our markets and customers with a keen insight into how the transportation sector is evolving. Our customers and our shareholders will benefit from his experience and vision."
Elkins joined Norfolk Southern as a road brakeman in 1988. After serving as a conductor and an engineer and receiving a degree in English from Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia (now the University of Virginia's College at Wise), Elkins joined NS' marketing department as pricing coordinator. He served in positions of increasing responsibility in the intermodal and automotive group and currently serves as group vice president industrial products. Additionally, Elkins received an MBA from Old Dominion University.
"Ed brings a unique background of field operations and broad market experience," Squires said. "We look forward to his increased contributions to our leadership team."
(NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/28)
VIA RAIL'S FLEET TO BE REPLACED IN THE QUEBEC CITY-WINDSOR CORRIDOR:
The Government of Canada is building on its successful long-term plan that focuses on people and on the things that matter most to Canadians, including a good transportation system. Canadians in all region benefit from travelling in a passenger rail fleet that is efficient, safe, accessible and affordable. To keep Canada’s travel system competitive and efficient, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport today announced that the Government of Canada will provide funding for VIA Rail to replace its fleet in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor.
As it is reaching the end of its useful life, the fleet in this corridor must be replaced to help maintain passenger safety for the next 30 years. The new fleet will also:
VIA Rail will soon launch a request for qualifications followed by a request for proposals. Interested bidders are encouraged to visit VIA Rail’s website regularly for updates.
Budget 2018 also proposes $8 million for Transport Canada to undertake foundational work to advance VIA Rail’s proposal for high frequency rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor. This phase of the project would support further economic analysis of key issues associated with a project of this size, such as revenue and ridership projections, as well as estimates for capital and operating costs. This funding will also go towards: exploring opportunities to leverage private investment or a potential role for the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and open and transparent engagement with potentially affected communities, including Indigenous peoples.
These activities would inform future decisions, allowing the Government of Canada to move forward with the path most likely to deliver good value for taxpayers and the best possible outcomes for travellers.
VIA Rail Canada- posted 3/27)
- reduce environmental impacts as engines with the latest technology will be more fuel-efficient resulting in air quality improvements;
- improve travellers’ experience and accessibility by including visual communication media for hearing-impaired passengers; purpose-built accessible washrooms; on-board wheelchair lift, and a minimum of three wheelchair tie-downs per train, with two in the same car, an increase from the current one tie-down per train; and
- increase VIA Rail’s operational flexibility and reliability by reducing the mechanical breakdowns that effect on-time-performance.
PORT AUTHORITY BOARD APPROVES AGREEMENTS WITH JERSEY CITY THAT SETTLE PENDING LITIGATION, AND WILL LEAD TO CONSTRUCTION OF NEW POWER FACILITY FOR PATH RAIL SYSTEM:
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners authorized a set of agreements with Jersey City that will mean resolution of a long-standing legal dispute with the city, and lead to construction of a new power station to generate better PATH service to local riders.
With respect to the litigation settlement, the Port Authority and PATH own 53 parcels in Jersey City. The city had contended in a federal lawsuit that the Port Authority had not satisfied payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) agreements for all of the properties. The Port Authority had vigorously disputed the claims.
Following today’s board vote, the case brought by the city will be dismissed and, for a period of 25 years, the city will not contest the tax-exempt status of any property owned by the Port Authority in Jersey City. The agency will enter into a PILOT agreement with the city covering certain other properties.
In addition, the Port Authority is turning the Washington Street Powerhouse over to Jersey City for possible future redevelopment by the city. The Powerhouse – completed in 1908 -- and a sub-station build adjacent to it in 1929 has been the primary source of power for the PATH, but has outlived its usefulness. The agency will take title to a half-acre of property that is also located on Washington Street, where a more modern power station will be developed.
The Port Authority has agreed to pay Jersey City nearly $17.8 million as part of the process of acquisition of the new sub-station site, and to conduct a study as to the feasibility of building a new PATH station in the Marion section of Jersey City.
“This is an important step forward for our agency that will mean better service to PATH customers for generations to come,” Board Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “These agreements represent a new chapter in our relationship with Jersey City, bringing greater stability and certainty between the Port Authority and one its most valued local partners.”
“We’re looking forward not only to upgrading our facilities in Jersey City for the benefit of our tens of thousands of PATH customers, but to help facilitate redevelopment of an important historical site,” said Board Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- posted 3/27)
NYC TRANSIT STARTING SUBWAY FLOOD PROTECTION PROJECT
IN ROCKAWAYS NEXT MONTH:
MTA New York City Transit today announced a flood protection project in the Rockaways that will make critical subway infrastructure more resilient in the face of future storms and improve the overall reliability of subway service on the peninsula.
“As we have seen time and time again, our subway system is impacted by the forces of nature,” said New York City Transit President Andy Byford. “Just as our employees work around the clock to clean up after a storm, we must also proactively protect our infrastructure. We thank our customers for their patience while we perform this critical work to provide safe, resilient and reliable service not just today, but far into the future as well.”
New York City Transit houses rail operations facilities on the Rockaway Peninsula that are critical to the A Subway line. The facilities include a power substation, a signal tower, signal compressor and hydraulic rooms, circuit breaker houses, and crew quarters.
The Rockaway Peninsula is in a flood zone that is vulnerable to the surges generated by a major storm, evident in the destruction brought by Superstorm Sandy. While smart engineering efforts left the substation and equipment undamaged during Sandy, New York City Transit believes taking a proactive approach to its resiliency efforts will ensure the long-term safety of these facilities against the devastating impacts of future extreme storms. In turn, customers along the Rockaways can be assured that their ability to move in and out of their homes will not be disrupted for long periods of time during a natural disaster.
During the project, crews will construct a perimeter flood wall and flood gates, as well as construct a new compressor building within the protected site. In order to minimize the impact on customers and the local community, and complete this necessary work in a timely fashion, the work will be conducted in two separate phases, impacting only one side of the Rockaways at a time.
Special S Subway shuttle train service will be provided as an alternative while the post-Superstorm Sandy Fix&Fortify work is done on two separate parts of the A Subway line in two separate phases: Phase 1 from Apr. 9 to May 18 on the Rockaway Park branch, and Phase 2 from July 2 to Sept. 3 on the Far Rockaway Branch. Shuttle trains will be lengthened as needed for capacity during Phase 2. To further assist customers, extra personnel will be posted at key stations including major transfer points.
As another, fully accessible alternative, customers may also use buses that run along the impacted routes: Q22, Q35, Q52-SBS, Q53-SBS, QM16 Express, and QM17 Express.
- posted 3/26)
GE TRANSPORTATION'S MODERNIZATION PROGRAM HITS NEW MILESTONES:
GE Transportation secures 225 orders in 2018 for locomotive modernizations, as well as completes the first of 100 modernizations for Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NS). With the increased demand, GE’s 1-million-square-foot facility in Fort Worth is now the world’s largest locomotive modernization facility.
The modernization program updates aging locomotives — some more than 20-years-old — with customized solutions that range from simple changes, including control system upgrades, to complex restorations, such as the comprehensive transformation of an aged DC locomotive into an AC locomotive outfitted with state-of-the-art digital technology.
“This rebuild program with GE aligns with Norfolk Southern’s strategic values for responsible stewardship of resources,” said Doug Corbin, assistant vice president -mechanical at Norfolk Southern. “The rebuild program will modernize and improve our locomotive fleet, adding service life, increasing freight hauling capacity and enabling us to reduce capital spending requirements for new locomotives by efficiently refreshing our existing assets. Modernizations will most likely be a strong portion of our locomotive capital spending for a number of years.”
GE increases asset value of locomotives over their lifecycle and optimizes future growth opportunities for customers. Modernizations also extend the service life of locomotives by approximately 20 years. Already, GE Transportation customers have experienced substantial outcomes from the program, including up to 10 percent fuel efficiency gains, 40 percent increase in reliability and 50 percent increase in haulage ability.
Canadian Pacific , looking to take advantage of such optimization, had 30 modernized locomotives delivered in 2017 and an additional 80 are on order to be delivered in 2018.
“We’ve seen our modernization program grow 20 times since 2015,” said Pascal Schweitzer, vice president, services of GE Transportation. “Over the last decade, GE has transformed more than 2,000 locomotives for customers worldwide, including for the majority of the Class 1 Railroads in North America as well as international customers. The outcomes these modernizations offer to our customers creates the ability to realize significantly more value out of existing locomotive assets, which has been game-changing.”
- posted 3/23)
CN AND TCRC REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT ON NEW LABOR CONTRACT FOR LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS IN CANADA:
CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference announced that the parties have reached a tentative agreement to renew the labour contract for approximately 1,700 CN locomotive engineers in Canada.
Details of the agreement are being withheld pending ratification by TCRC members, a process expected to take approximately 60 days.
Mike Cory, executive vice-president and chief operating officer at CN, said: “This new contract reinforces CN’s commitment to working together with our employees and their representatives to address workplace issues in a mutually beneficial manner. CN is very pleased to have reached this tentative agreement with TCRC without a work disruption and we look forward to working together as we continue to serve our customers and the Canadian economy.”
Roland Hackl, vice president of the TCRC, said: “This deal represents the collective efforts of the general chairmen and our entire committee on behalf of our members. Our members at CN recognize the importance of CN’s contribution to the Canadian economy and the customers we serve. We are confident that this agreement will benefit our members, CN, and all the people relying on the railway.”
(CN - posted 3/23)
PRESIDENT & CEO RICHARD ANDERSON ON FY2018 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS BILL:
“Amtrak applauds Congress for providing increased funding for intercity passenger rail, including grants to Amtrak, in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Amtrak thanks Congress for recognizing the importance of intercity passenger rail and the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The increased NEC capital funding will allow us to address many important needs along the Corridor and we look forward to working closely with the Department of Transportation on investing these funds to advance the most critical projects.”(Amtrak - posted 3/22)
SEPTA TO END TOKEN SALES APRIL 30:
SEPTA will end token sales on April 30 at all Authority-operated locations, as more customers transition from legacy fare products to the SEPTA Key. SEPTA Key cards will continue to be free with the purchase of a transit pass or when loading Travel Wallet funds through April 30, with the planned $4.95 new card fee going into effect in May.
SEPTA will continue to accept purchased tokens for the foreseeable future, so customers will not lose money they have already spent on tokens. Customers are reminded that tokens can be loaded onto Key cards, with the value added to the Travel Wallet that allows for convenient tap-and-go travel.
Tokens will continue to be sold in bulk to social service agencies beyond April 30, as work continues to implement a new method for these organizations to provide SEPTA fares to their clients. Third-party retailers will also continue to sell tokens to the general public beyond April 30.
SEPTA has been gradually phasing-out sales of tokens at Authority-operated locations since January, first at cashiers' booths and then with the removal of vending machines at Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line stations. In March and April, sales will end at Regional Rail stations, bus districts and SEPTA sales offices.
"The end of token sales represents a major step forward in the implementation of the SEPTA Key," said General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "For customers who are still using tokens or other legacy fare products, now is a great time to move to the future of fare payment with the SEPTA Key."
(SEPTA - posted 3/22)
AMTRAK TO NAME ROCHESTER STATION IN HONOR OF CONGRESSWOMAN LOUISE M. SLAUGHER:
In honor of the late Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, Amtrak will be naming the Rochester Station as a dedication to her career in public service and commitment to leading several projects in the Northern New York area, including the station’s development.
“Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter was an incredible public servant, and Amtrak and rail supporter, who was instrumental in leading numerous rail improvement projects across New York, including the development and funding of our new Rochester Station. To celebrate her legacy and impact on the station, City of Rochester, and State of New York, we are pleased to announce that we will be naming Rochester Station in her honor through a commemorative plaque at the station or other appropriate means,” said Amtrak Board Chair Anthony R. Coscia.
“I applaud Amtrak for listening to our call to rename the new Rochester train station in honor of Congresswoman Slaughter. Congresswoman Slaughter was a larger than life figure who worked tirelessly to secure federal funding and make this project a reality. I am proud that this shining beacon of Rochester’s revitalization will bear the name of a leader who was integral to making it happen – Congresswoman Louise Slaughter,” said New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
The intermodal Rochester Station opened in October 2017, the result of nearly 15 years of visioning and planning by several stakeholders, including Congresswoman Slaughter, who secured a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the work.
As requested by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo, and former Mayor and Lieutenant Governor Duffy, Amtrak will work to name the station in the coming months. Amtrak will work with the City of Rochester and State of New York on the details of the naming, commemorative plaque and necessary funding for these efforts.
The Rochester Station is one of the busiest Amtrak stops in the state, serving more than 127,000 passenger trips last year. The Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited and Maple Leaf trains all make stops at the station.
The Rochester Station will be the second Amtrak Station named for a member of Congress. In 2014, legislation was passed to rename Philadelphia 30th Street Station after the late Congressman William H. Gray III, and Amtrak is actively working with Representative Gray’s family and others on plans to implement this change in the coming months.
(Amtrak - posted 3/21)
PRESIDENT TRUMP DESIGNATES ANN BEGEMAN CHAIRMAN OF SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD:
President Donald J. Trump has designated Ann Begeman as Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board. Ms. Begeman had been Acting Chairman since January 23, 2017. Ann is serving in her second, five-year term following her nomination by President Barack Obama on December 7, 2016, and her unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate on December 9, 2016. Her current term expires December 31, 2020.(STB - posted 3/21)
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 17, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 17, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 537,338 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.1 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending March 17 were 263,352 carloads, up 7.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 273,986 containers and trailers, up 12.7 percent compared to 2017.
All of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 8,750 carloads, to 85,939; nonmetallic minerals, up 3,445 carloads, to 35,240; and metallic ores and metals, up 2,310 carloads, to 22,421.
For the first 11 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,764,973 carloads, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year; and 2,966,335 intermodal units, up 6.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 11 weeks of 2018 was 5,731,308 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending March 17, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 364,314 carloads, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,590 intermodal units, up 12.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 724,904 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 11 weeks of 2018 was 7,712,133 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 79,314 carloads for the week, down 2.6 percent, and 68,715 intermodal units, up 14.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 11 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,559,089 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 21,648 carloads for the week, down 3.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,889 intermodal units, down 0.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 11 weeks of 2018 was 421,736 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.5 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 3/21)
FRA TAKES PROACTIVE APPROACH TO HELP RAILROADS MEET CONGRESSIONAL PTC REQUIREMENT:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (US DOT’s) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today released a status update on its efforts to assist railroads in implementing positive train control systems (PTC), along with the railroads’ self-reported progress for the fourth quarter of 2017.
At the direction of Secretary Elaine L. Chao, the FRA is taking a proactive approach to ensure railroads acquire, install, test and fully implement certified PTC systems in time to meet the congressional interim deadline of December 31, 2018.
“It is the railroads’ responsibility to meet the congressionally mandated PTC requirements,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “The FRA is committed to doing its part to ensure railroads and suppliers are working together to implement PTC systems.”
Between January 2 and February 14, 2018, FRA’s leadership hosted face-to-face meetings with executives from each of the 41 railroads subject to the statutory mandate. The purpose of the meetings was to evaluate each railroad’s PTC status and learn what remaining steps each needs to take to have a PTC system fully implemented by the December deadline or, at a minimum, to meet the statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule.
As a result of the meetings with railroads, FRA is now meeting with PTC suppliers to learn more about their capacity to meet the high demands for railroads’ implementation of PTC systems in a timely manner.
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.
All railroads subject to the statutory PTC implementation mandate must implement FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems by the end of the year. Under the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015, however, Congress permits a railroad to request FRA’s approval of an “alternate schedule” with a deadline beyond December 31, 2018, but no later than December 31, 2020, for certain non-hardware, operational aspects of PTC system implementation. The congressional mandate requires FRA to approve a railroad’s alternative schedule with a deadline no later than December 31, 2020, if a railroad submits a written request to FRA that demonstrates the railroad has met the statutory criteria set forth under 49 U.S.C. § 20157(a)(3)(B).
The fourth quarter data, current as of December 31, 2017, shows PTC systems are in operation on approximately 56 percent of freight railroads’ route miles that are required to be governed by PTC systems—up from 45 percent last quarter and 16 percent on December 31, 2016. Passenger railroads have made less progress—with PTC systems in operation on only 24% of required route miles, unchanged from the previous quarter.
The latest data confirms that railroads continue to make progress in installing PTC system hardware, with 15 railroads reporting they have completed installation of all hardware necessary for PTC system implementation and another 11 railroads reporting they have installed over 80% of PTC system hardware. In addition, all but three railroads report having acquired sufficient spectrum for their PTC system needs.
For more key implementation data for the fourth quarter, see the infographics here:
(FRA - posted 3/20)
POTOMAC SHORE TRAIN STATION:
The final design of a new Virginia Railway Express (VRE) train station at the Potomac Shores master-planned community in Prince William County, Va., will soon be moving forward. The recently executed, final contract amendment between the Virginia Department of Rail Public Transportation (DRPT) and CSX Transportation (CSX) defined what portion of the third-track corridor improvements will be completed in the immediate future.
This new VRE station will be a key component of Potomac Shores' emerging town center. Situated on the banks of the Potomac River 30 miles south of Washington, D.C., the 1,920-acre community is being developed by SunCal, one of the largest real estate development companies in the U.S. that specializes in large-scale, mixed-use master-planned communities. The construction for the Potomac Shores station is being sponsored by SunCal.
Potomac Shores is a waterfront destination being designed as a transit-oriented development due to its convenient access to the on-site VRE station. Located in the community's town center, the station will sit along a bluff-top promenade overlooking the Potomac River.
As part of the Arkendale to Powells Creek Third Track project, funded by grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Virginia DRPT, CSX has been constructing a third set of tracks from the Arkendale station northward to Powells Creek, just north of Potomac Shores, to serve alongside the existing CSX tracks. The design and timing of the construction of the Potomac Shores station has been in coordination with this rail improvement project, itself a significant component of the Commonwealth of Virginia's long-term investment strategy to increase rail capacity, including DC2RVA, Atlantic Gateway and Long Bridge.
"The signing of the agreement to identify improvements to be completed in the near future, and the interim condition for the corridor until additional funding becomes available, will allow the Potomac Shores station to move forward; we're very elated," said Andrew Wagner, Project Manager, Potomac Shores. "This new station will be a huge convenience for residents, allowing them to commute to jobs in Washington and elsewhere, and the station will be easily accessed from our future town center."
The train station's planning, engineering and construction is a public-private project requiring the involvement, review and approval of state and federal agencies, and other entities. Potomac Shores has been working with VRE, CSX, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Prince William County and the U.S. Department of Transportation to coordinate the design and construction of the station.
Potomac Shores is contributing nearly $20 million toward the train station in partnership with the various agencies, and it anticipates construction of the station's head house will move forward later this year. The 16,000 square-foot head house will offer scenic views of the Potomac River, and will serve as the entrance to the boarding platforms at the track level below. A two-story design, the head house is planned to offer restaurants, a coffee shop, office space, dry cleaners, outdoor patios and other uses. Current estimates are that the station would be ready for passengers sometime in 2020. It is being designed by CORE architecture + design of Washington, D.C.
In the Potomac Shores town center, much of the site has been cleared and graded in preparation for development. The first commercial pads are complete and accessible from Dunnington Place, and a large portion of the main parkway into the town center will be complete later this year. Final site plans for each development phase will be custom designed for the ultimate end-users.
(VRE, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/19)
LIRR OUTINES PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PLAN:
The Long Island Rail Road today offered the MTA Board details on a comprehensive, multi-faceted slate of nearly 60 actions the railroad will take to improve the railroad’s performance. Officially known as the LIRR Performance Improvement Plan, or PIP, the actions in the plan touch on virtually every department of the railroad and concentrate on improving three aspects of railroad operations: service reliability, seasonal preparedness and customer communications.
The railroad will provide details every month to the MTA Board and the public on the nature of the activities and progress the railroad is making toward each using clearly defined metrics compared against pre-determined timelines.
“This plan lays out the steps toward doing everything we can to prevent incidents that can impact service and when incidents do occur, to recover service faster by improving our response times to the issues impacting us and our customers,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “Just as important, whether we have a disruption or are providing normal service, we know that improved communication with customers is vital. That extends to this plan itself. We are developing a host of methods to gauge customer feedback on our performance, from upcoming public engagement sessions and focus groups, to working with the LIRR Commuter Council and soliciting customer comments.”
The plan includes efforts to improve fleet reliability, maintain and upgrade critical infrastructure such as signals, switches, and track, as well as approaches to better respond to fleet and infrastructure issues that do happen, with the overall goal of targeting investments that deliver the most improvements for the most customers.
Examples of actions in this category include:
The LIRR faces known seasonal challenges that are all too familiar to its customers. These include snow and ice in winter and falling leaves in autumn that result in slippery rail conditions, repair of wheel flat spots and resulting short trains. The plan overhauls the railroad’s efforts to ensure resilience against weather events and improve recoverability from weather-related service disruptions.
Examples of actions include:
- Infrastructure Upgrades: Harden or upgrade assets such as PSEG poles alongside the tracks systemwide, the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel in Brooklyn and ties at Queens high-speed crossovers; accelerate M7 heated threshold replacements; install flexible delineators at high priority railroad crossings to deter vehicles from turning onto the tracks
- Inspections: increase frequency of rail flaw detections; implement special inspections at railroad crossings; improve quality of track inspections by reducing the length of track inspected per tour
- Better Monitoring of Conditions: Implement enhanced monitoring of railroad conditions, by installing bridge strike monitoring systems at five priority locations, as well as a wheel impact load detection system to automatically detect flat spots, and reviewing the top 20 late trains system wide to identify opportunities for schedule adjustments
- Better Administration: Realign track maintenance subdivisions to conform with signal subdivisions to better coordinate maintenance activities; add mobile response crews to address equipment issues; implement an engineering crew office with five new staff members to allow more effective planning and execution of proactive infrastructure maintenance and repair
- Better Maintenance: Increased rail joint welding; increase frequency of surfacing at switches; increase rail grinding
The LIRR’s customers depend on the railroad to provide them with timely, accurate information during planned and unplanned service disruptions to assist them in making quick decisions about their commutes or to plan ahead. The LIRR must improve in this area to make information more timely, more accurate and easier to access.
Examples of activities in this category include:
- Spring-Summer: Increase vegetation management
- Winter: Acquire switch snow covers, additional snow fighters and additional third rail heaters
- Winter: Improve efficiency of Glycol-dispensing trains that combat ice and snow buildup on the third rail by upgrading controls
- Autumn: Ensure the Arch Street wheel truer is online throughout the autumn leaf season and work with developers to ensure the high-capacity West Side Yard wheel truer is installed and commissioned as quickly as possible.
- Autumn: Improve train handling training for the fall season to reduce slip-slide incidents and wheel flat spots
- Year-round: Add signal system grounding to create lightning protection at 30 locations, reducing instances of signal system problems.
- Year-round: Add additional signal personnel and overnight track emergency crews
- Year-round: Add new drainage systems and enhance inspection and maintenance practices in key areas
(MTA - posted 3/19)
- Create a Chief Customer Advocate, reporting directly to the LIRR President
- Enhance communications on board trains by being more proactive in our communications with train crews, encouraging trains crews to be more proactive, and utilizing crew expertise in making announcements; amend employee training procedures including procurement of professional announcer training
- Conduct market research and focus groups to allow staff to better understand customer expectations and perceptions about LIRR communications, and to determine how to improve the way LIRR customers receive information
- Hold “LIRR Listens” public engagement sessions with LIRR senior leadership
- Increase coverage, visibility, branding, and tools for customer ambassadors and ushers at Penn Station, Jamaica, and Atlantic Terminal
- Display countdown to train arrivals on digital screens at suburban stations
- Establish wireless connectivity at Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal to allow customers to remain connected and receive real-time alerts while on the railroad.
- Improve customer awareness of MyMTAAlerts.com and the LIRR TrainTime app as tools for real-time train updates.
NS TO RESTORE SERVICE TUESDAY AT KENTUCKY DERAILMENT SITE:
Norfolk Southern is experiencing service interruptions due to a mainline derailment that occurred on Sunday, March 18th, 2018 approximately 10 miles north of Lexington, KY. NS is working to clear and repair the track and the track is estimated to be back in service on Tuesday, March 20th, 2018. Traffic is being rerouted in order to minimize the impact where possible.
(NS - posted 3/19)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN RESPONSE TO TRC CAPITAL'S MINI-TENDER OFFER:
Norfolk Southern has been notified that TRC Capital Corporation (TRC) made an unsolicited “mini-tender” offer, dated Feb. 23, 2018, to purchase up to 1 million shares of Norfolk Southern stock at $136 per share, or 4.65 percent below the closing share price on the day of the offer. TRC also has reserved the right to terminate the offer.
Norfolk Southern is in no way associated with TRC, and expresses no opinion and is remaining neutral toward TRC’s offer.
Mini-tender offers seek less than 5 percent of a company’s outstanding shares. This lets the offering company avoid many disclosure and procedural requirements the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires for tender offers. On its website, the SEC advises that the people behind these offers “frequently use mini-tender offers to catch shareholders off guard” and that investors “may end up selling at below-market prices.” Norfolk Southern encourages brokers, dealers, and other investors to review the SEC’s letter regarding broker-dealer mini-tender offer dissemination and disclosure.
(NS - posted 3/16)
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION BENEFITS FRAUD INVESTIGATION UPDATE:
As a part of the TTC’s ongoing benefits fraud investigation, 223 employees have now been dismissed, or resigned or retired to avoid dismissal, for defrauding the TTC’s benefits plan.
In 2014, the TTC immediately began an investigation following a tip to its ‘Integrity Line’ that receipts were being provided to employees by Healthy Fit, a health care products and service provider where claim reimbursements were being made, but where no product or service, i.e. orthotics, compression stockings and sleeves, was obtained or where receipt amounts were inflated. It was alleged, and now proven, that Healthy Fit and the employee making improper claims would then share the money paid out by Manulife Financial.
Adam Smith, the proprietor of Healthy Fit, was found guilty of two counts of fraud over $5,000 and was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary. Ten TTC employees were charged with fraud, with four pleading guilty to date, receiving a conditional discharge, one year probation, and community service. The TTC has so far collected more than $82,000 in restitution from these employees. Six other former employees remain before the courts.
The TTC is suing Manulife Financial, Smith and Healthy Fit for up to $5 million, alleging that Manulife Financial did not have appropriate fraud management controls in place nor were there systems in place to detect and analyze unusual trends or patterns that might indicate fraud or abuse. The TTC maintains that Manulife breached its duties of care, which contributed to the losses suffered by the TTC and, ultimately, the public.
The TTC’s internal investigation continues. Where evidence shows the TTC’s benefits plan was billed inappropriately, demands for repayment are made and employees face discipline, up to and including dismissal.
Since this investigation began, the TTC has publicly communicated updates on its extensive investigation. As such, it has seen a reduction in benefits claims costs of more than $7 million. Benefits fraud is a crime and one that can cost an employee their job and, potentially comes with a criminal record.
(TTC - posted 3/16)
PHILLIPSBURG RAILROAD HISTORIANS SPRING OPEN HOUSE:
Saturday April 21, 2018 –Phillipsburg Railroad Historians Spring Open House in Phillipsburg NJ at 10 Pine Alley & Cross St. from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in conjunction with the Lehigh Valley Chapter NRHS. Centerville & Southwestern train rides and displays of full-size equipment including GE 25 ton diesel, Chestnut Ridge Mack Railbus and maintenance of way track equipment. Museum, library and gift shop open along with shaded picnic area. Watch Norfolk Southern trains at a safe distance. All attractions are free to the public.
MBTA ANNOUNCES IMPROVED ACCURACY OF COMMUTER RAIL TRAIN
LOCATIONS AND ARRIVAL
FOR MBTA.COM, SMARTPHONE APPS:
MBTA launched 2 programs leading to improvements in accuracy of Commuter Rail train locations and arrival predictions for customers viewing live train information on MBTA.com or MBTA-endorsed smartphone applications.
“I’m excited to launch this new initiative that directly benefits our customers by providing information that allows people to make more informed decisions,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez.“As this winter has shown us, seconds matter when planning ahead, so I’m happy we can improve the accuracy of our train locations and arrivals.”
The 2 programs, TrainLoc and Concentrate, simplify and accelerate the processing capacity of real-time data leading to these improvements
TrainLoc simplifies and expedites the process that transmits Commuter Rail train locations and predicted arrival times. With fewer handoffs and an increased frequency of data processing, Commuter Rail train locations are current within 10 – 40 seconds. Under the previous system, which dates back to 2011, train locations could be up to 2 minutes old.
Concentrate enables higher-capacity, more frequent sharing of all MBTA real-time transit data with third-party organizations and consumers. The program aggregates all real-time information across the system and consolidates it into two single-source outputs. Data latency is reduced by about 10 seconds. Concentrate is also the MBTA’s fifth open-source software program.
TrainLoc and Concentrate were both made possible by updated APIs from the MBTA and Keolis.
With these new insourced programs, the MBTA will save nearly $10,000 per month in maintenance costs while providing more current, accurate real-time information to riders.
(MBTA- posted 3/15)
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 10, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 10, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 534,282 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending March 10 were 256,075 carloads, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,207 containers and trailers, up 10.8 percent compared to 2017.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 4,134 carloads, to 83,696; chemicals, up 2,089 carloads, to 32,884; and farm products excl. grain, and food, up 829 carloads, to 16,882. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included motor vehicles and parts, down 1,573 carloads, to 16,818; grain, down 1,253 carloads, to 22,995; and miscellaneous carloads, down 951 carloads, to 8,876.
For the first 10 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,501,621 carloads, down 1.6 percent from the same point last year; and 2,692,349 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 10 weeks of 2018 was 5,193,970 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending March 10, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 357,748 carloads, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 365,957 intermodal units, up 12.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 723,705 carloads and intermodal units, up 7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 10 weeks of 2018 was 6,987,229 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with 2017.?
Canadian railroads reported 79,844 carloads for the week, up 3.8 percent, and 69,402 intermodal units, up 19.9 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 10 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,411,060 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.7 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 21,829 carloads for the week, down 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,348 intermodal units, up 11.5 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 10 weeks of 2018 was 382,199 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR- posted 3/14)
PENN STATION WORK AFFECTS NORTHEAST REGIONAL TRAINS 152 AND 153 AND CARDINAL TRAINS 50 AND 51:
In an effort to minimize congestion in New York Penn Station during track work, Northeast Regional and Cardinal service will be affected beginning March 25.
Trains 152 and 153 will be cancelled effective March 25 until further notice. Both trains will run on July 4 due to the holiday schedule. Train 50 will operate from Chicago to Washington beginning March 29 until further notice.
Train 51 will operate from Washington to Chicago beginning April 1 until further notice.
Connections can be made from Trains 50 and 51 to other Northeast Regional trains for those traveling past Washington, DC.
(Amtrak - posted 3/13)
AMTRAK'S NEW INTERNATIONAL CREDIT CARD OPTIONS:
Amtrak is now accepting Diners Club International, JCB and UnionPay credit cards as payment options for Amtrak travelers.
The credit cards, which are part of the Discover Global Network, are accepted through Amtrak’s multiple payment channels including Amtrak.com, Amtrak mobile apps, Quik-Trak kiosks, staffed stations (where available) and by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.
“Acceptance of these new payment options highlights our readiness to support demand in rapidly-expanding global markets to travel on Amtrak,” said Kerry McKelvey, Amtrak Vice President, Marketing. “Smoother, even more efficient payment platforms for our many business and international travelers allow our customers to focus on the journey – seeing America at the ground level.”
Amtrak’s international market share has grown significantly. Last year, Amtrak served visitors from 195 countries throughout the world generating more than $76.6 million in revenue. In the last five years, international point-of-origin revenue increased more than 19 percent.
“We’re excited that our cardholders will now be able to purchase Amtrak tickets,” said Ricardo Leite, Vice President of Global Commerce for Discover Financial Services, the parent company for Diners Club International. “Adding Amtrak provides cardholders on the Discover Global Network with yet another key travel merchant in the U.S. and adds to the millions of locations that already accept all of our brands across the globe.”
“UnionPay acceptance at Amtrak is welcome news for UnionPay cardholders from all over the world,” said June Chen, General Manager of UnionPay International America. “To date, more than 6.3 billion UnionPay cards are issued in over 40 countries and regions, and the United States is a crucial market where our cardholders use their cards. Now UnionPay cardholders are able to use their preferred card at Amtrak, enjoying a better travel experience in the U.S.”
“Adding Amtrak means that our customers will now be able to experience international travel more freely and easily,” said Dan Skaling, Executive Vice President, Business Development Manager at JCB. “JCB’s goal has always been to be more than just a conventional credit card – we want to provide above and beyond service and opportunities for our cardholders. Introducing Amtrak will help us do that in the U.S.”
(Amtrak - posted 3/13)
TRACK RENEWAL PROJECT SCHEDULED ALONG SEPTA'S ROUTE 36 TROLLEY LINE:
SEPTA will conduct a track renewal project on a portion of its Route 36 trolley line from March 18 - June 9, 2018. The project will take place on Elmwood Avenue between 59th-65th Streets.
The track in this area was installed in the 1970s. 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 3,100 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 and allow SEPTA to provide safe and reliable trolley service.
Buses will replace trolleys along the Route 36 from 80th Street and Eastwick Avenue to the 40th Street Trolley Portal for the duration of the project, beginning March 18, 2018. Passengers can board any Route 11, 13 or 34 trolley for service between the 40th Street Portal and Center City.
The project will start at 59th Street and progress west. Through lanes on Elmwood Avenue will be closed, up to three blocks at a time, to all traffic. Elmwood Avenue will remain open for emergency vehicles, however delivery and trash removal vehicles will have limited access. 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. The parking lane on the north side of Elmwood Avenue between 61st and 62nd and 64th and 65th Streets will be closed so rail strings can be welded and stored until installation.
(SEPTA - posted 3/13)
RAIL INDUSTRY'S SAFETY RECORD:
Newly released data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) confirms that recent years remain the safest ever for U.S. railroads. Through employee commitment to safety and investments in maintenance and new technologies, the industry has maintained the strong safety record of recent years, with the train accident rate down 28 percent in the last decade and last year marking the lowest rate of track-caused and human factor-caused accidents ever.
Notable statistics, calculated per million train miles using March 2018 FRA data, include:
“Every day, the men and women of the rail industry are making a safe network safer," said Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Ed Hamberger. “Investments in technology and employee training to advance safety in recent years have yielded significant gains that make railroading in America safer and more reliable than ever."
The industry remains concerned about driver and pedestrian safety as this most recent data shows a 22 percent increase in trespassing deaths compared to 2016. Every three hours someone is hit by a train in the United States, and these accidents are almost entirely preventable. Every year, railroads spend millions to maintain and improve grade crossings as well as work directly with communities and law enforcement to educate the public about safe behavior near tracks.
“While the safety of rail operations remains strong, our job is not done," said Hamberger. “The rise in pedestrian deaths in 2017 is a stark reminder of the perils of risky behavior around railroad tracks. Don't tempt fate; remember when you see tracks, think train."
Railroads also participate with Operation Lifesaver, whose education initiatives play a critical role across the U.S. in reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks. For information on what role Operation Lifesaver plays in rail safety education, please visit http://oli.org/. For information on the joint OLI and AAR public safety "See Tracks? Think Train!" campaign, please visit
(AAR - posted 3/13)
- Train accident rate is down 44 percent since 2000.
- Equipment-caused accident rate is down 38 percent since 2000.
- Track-caused accident rate is down 55 percent since 2000.
- Human factor-caused accident rate is down 45 percent since 2000.
- Derailment rate is down 42 percent since 2000.
AMTRAK TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS BOSTON SERVICE DUE TO IMPENDING WEATHER.
Amtrak service will be temporarily suspended between Boston, Mass. and New York City on Tuesday, March 13, until at least 11 a.m. due to the impending Nor'Easter and resulting wind and snowfall.
Both the eastbound and westbound Boston sections of the Lake Shore Limited will be cancelled, along with several DownEaster trains.
Service will be restored pending improved conditions. (Amtrak - posted 3/12)
INDIANA RAIL ROAD WINS PRESTIGIOUS “REGIONAL RAILROAD OF THE YEAR” AWARD FOR THE SECOND TIME:
The Indiana Rail Road Company (INRD) has won Railway Age magazine’s prestigious “Regional Railroad of the Year” award for 2018, company officials announced March 9.
Railway Age, founded in 1856 and the railroad industry’s oldest trade publication, annually recognizes industry-leading railroads and executives for their accomplishments.
This year’s award marks the second time Railway Age has so honored INRD; the Indianapolis-based company first received “Regional Railroad of the Year” honors in 2012.
Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono said Indiana Rail Road’s success at expanding its non-coal traffic base, through an aggressive growth and diversification strategy, made INRD stand out among its peers.
INRD was founded in 1986 to haul coal to Indianapolis Power & Light’s Harding Street generating station. In 2015, INRD faced major traffic and revenue losses after IP&L’s decision to convert Harding Street to natural gas power, and at the same time, closure of a Duke Energy power plant in Terre Haute, Ind., and an adjacent plant that produced synthetic gas from coal.
In response, INRD employees banded together to build the company via means they could control: growing the business by taking care of existing customers, aggressively pursuing new business opportunities, managing costs, and most importantly, working safely.
INRD has vastly expanded its non-coal business in recent years by creating an intermodal alliance, for trans-ocean imports and exports to/from Indianapolis, with the CN (Canadian National) Railway. INRD opened a warehouse and cross-dock with Indianapolis-based Venture Logistics on Indy’s south side, and rail-to-truck transload facilities in Indianapolis, southwest Indiana and Illinois.
Most importantly, annual customer surveys reflect a superior customer service product.
In a March 8 memo to employees announcing the Regional Railroad of the Year Award, INRD President and CEO Peter Mills said the following: “This is truly a testament to your professionalism and resiliency. When faced with adversity, you remained focused on the things we control. You are truly the best team of railroaders in the industry, which makes our future very bright.”
Mills will formally accept the “Regional Railroad of the Year” award on behalf of INRD at the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association Annual Convention, which will take place April 7-10 in Nashville, Tenn.
The Indianapolis-based Indiana Rail Road Company is a privately-held, 500-mile railroad based in Indianapolis. The company hauls the equivalent of more than 600,000 truckloads of consumer, industrial and energy products each year.
The company is also active in the community, operating the annual, beloved Santa Train, by working alongside Habitat for Humanity and Fuller House volunteers, and providing in-class education and first responder grants for online communities.(CN - posted 3/08)
(Indiana Railroad - posted 3/09)
SWITCHER AND TUG ENGINE UPGRADES OFFER BETTER AIR QUALITY:
Clean diesel technology upgrades for large tug and switcher locomotive engines cost only $4,379 to $15,201 per ton of nitrogen oxides (NOx), compared to more than $30,000 per ton of NOx for many other diesel emission reduction projects.
The Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today released a report documenting the significant emission reduction benefits that can be gained by replacing older engines in tug boats and switcher locomotives with the latest clean diesel models. Funds from Volkswagen’s (VW) $2.9 billion environmental trust, established to mitigate for the excess emissions resulting from defeat devices on 590,000 diesel vehicles, can be used to help pay the cost of repowering these and other old diesel engines.
The joint research estimates that replacing older engines in a typical tug boat with the latest clean diesel model that meets the latest emissions milestones can eliminate on average 14.9 tons of NOx emissions per year. A similar activity for switchers can reduce NOx emissions by 9.0 tons per year.
DTF and EDF’s research confirms that upgrading tug and switcher engines to the latest clean diesel technology offers the most cost-effective option for reducing diesel emissions. Replacing tugboat engines with clean diesel technology costs on average $4,379 per ton of NOx eliminated, while upgrading a switcher engine costs $15,201 per ton.
“The substantial reductions possible with clean diesel replacements offer great news for communities near ports and rail yards. These areas are often among those most vulnerable to smog-forming compounds like NOx, so residents there stand to reap the greatest benefits,” said Allen Schaeffer, DTF Executive Director. “While engine replacement projects are costly, the return on the investment on a dollar-per-ton of emissions reduced makes these projects a compelling choice. States looking to maximize cost-effective investments to reduce NOx emissions should prioritize clean diesel upgrades for tug and switcher engines.”
“Many tugs and switchers operate in ports that fail to meet federal health-based air quality standards,” said Dr. Elena Craft, EDF Senior Health Scientist. “Repowering older tug and switcher engines can deliver cleaner, healthier air faster to at-risk communities near ports. These new engines also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and black carbon, two important climate pollutants.”
Starting in 2015, new clean diesel engines used in marine applications and switcher locomotives in the United States were required to meet Tier 4 emissions standards. Relative to previous generations of technology, the latest clean diesel technologies can reduce emissions, including NOx and fine particle emissions (PM2.5), by 88 percent to 95 percent. While the latest clean diesel technologies are ready and available to reduce emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by 2020, unless action is taken, only 5 percent of the switch locomotive and 3 percent of the marine workboat fleets will be powered by these clean technologies.
“Right now, state governments have an opportunity to get more of these clean technologies out in the field to deliver immediate emission reductions for communities near port operations,” said Schaeffer. “The recent settlement with VW established an environmental remediation program that will soon provide $2.9 billion to states for the sole purpose of reducing NOx emissions. Policymakers looking to reduce emissions quickly for communities near ports and rail lines should consider these highly cost-effective clean diesel solutions.”
(Diesel Technology Forum - posted 3/09)
CEO LUC JOBIN IS LEAVING CN: BOARD APPOINTS JEAN-
JACQUES RUEST INTERIM CEO:
The Board of Directors of CN has announced that Luc Jobin is leaving CN effective immediately.
The Board has appointed Jean-Jacques Ruest Interim President and Chief Executive Officer until a permanent replacement is in place. Mr. Ruest has been with the company for twenty-two years, the last eight as Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer.
“The Board believes the company needs a leader who will energize the team, realize CN’s corporate vision and take the company forward with the speed and determination CN is known for,” said Board Chairman Robert Pace. “Mr. Ruest is well known to customers and investors, and is well positioned to focus the company and its very experienced and proven team of railroaders to rapidly address operational challenges during the transition.”
The Board believes that in an increasingly competitive marketplace, CN must respond with speed and innovation to retain its leadership position. The Board also recognizes the immediate operational and customer service challenges the company has been facing since Fall 2017 - led by high demand and insufficient network resiliency, coupled with severe winter weather conditions.
“CN must accelerate execution of the innovation strategy articulated at our Investor Day last June,” said Mr. Pace. “The Board is confident this remains the right course to restore and retain industry-leading metrics and best in class customer service.”
An international search for a new CEO is underway.
(CN - posted 3/08)
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR FEBRUARY AND THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 3, 2018:
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited continues to deliver overall for the grain supply chain with our year-to-date shipments, through Week 31, up 3 percent, or approximately 400,000 metric tonnes.
While extreme weather took its toll on the entire supply chain through much of February, CP's network is now starting to recover. Week 31 saw grain shipments increase by 16 percent week-over-week and each day CP's network is getting more fluid. CP also spotted nearly 50 percent more empties to the country in Week 31 compared to the week prior, a further sign of the incremental gains being made. CP's velocity is also improving, with train speeds up approximately 10 percent this past week versus mid-February.
"We are optimistic that with the weather turning in our favour, our singular focus on delivering safely for the supply chain, and the re-opening of the Port of Thunder Bay, that we are on the road to recovery," said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. "While our challenges have been significant, they are different than that of our competitor's and the success of the supply chain depends on both railroads running at optimum levels."
The supply chain works best when all of the players are functioning at a high level. When one railroad struggles, or a shipper is dealing with a labour outage, or a vessel captain refuses to load in Vancouver due to rain – the entire supply chain suffers, just as it does when temperatures drop below -25 Celsius for long periods of time. Extreme weather and line outages impact all commodity movements, not just grain.
Each year, CP plans extensively for winter. Recently we have experienced unprecedented cold (60 percent colder, 78 percent more days below -25 Celsius) and snow along with some significant outages. Additionally, CP is experiencing unprecedented and unexpected demand being driven from dual rail-served territories in the northern catchment areas of our network. In spite of significant weather challenges our shipments are up 30 percent crop-year to date in this area.
CP strategically plans each year for the upcoming crop, which this year was originally forecast around 65 million metric tonnes, but will end up being closer to 71 million metric tonnes, close to a 10 percent difference, with much of that increased production occurring in the northern catchment area of the prairies due to dry conditions in the south.
"These short-term challenges are episodic, not systemic and we expect our network to improve with improving weather conditions," Creel said. "We are still moving more grain than we did last year and we are well positioned to have a great year overall across most commodities and lines of business."
CP's innovative Dedicated Train Program (DTP) has 15 percent more subscribers this year, DTP cycle times were on target and generally, things along CP's network were moving well, prior to February. CP's year-over-year compares would be even better if not for a very slow start to the crop-year for grain sales. A portion of CP's dedicated train capacity also sat idle for most of August and September, and some shippers struggled to fill their committed freight until November.
CP continues to add both crews and locomotives to support volumes across all commodities and urges the senate and government to move forward on Bill C-49 to bring some further certainty to the grain supply chain moving forward, specifically relating to new hopper car investment.
"We have 550 new people, across all crafts, in various stages of the hiring process, 100 additional locomotives, which will start being integrated into the fleet this month and into the spring and summer, and we have earmarked between $1.35 billion and $1.5 billion in capital improvements this year that will further improve the flow of goods across North America," Creel said.
(CP - posted 3/07)
CP CONTINUES TO DELIVER FOR NORTH AMERICA ECONOMY:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 3, 2018, as well as volumes for February 2018.
U.S. railroads originated 1,028,141 carloads in February 2018, down 0.3 percent, or 2,753 carloads, from February 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,104,001 containers and trailers in February 2018, up 6.9 percent, or 70,970 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in February 2018 were 2,132,142, up 3.3 percent, or 68,217 carloads and intermodal units from February 2017.
In February 2018, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with February 2017. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 6,329 carloads or 7.5 percent; chemicals, up 4,286 carloads or 3.4 percent; and metallic ores, up 2,510 carloads or 19.4 percent. Commodities that saw declines in February 2018 from February 2017 included: coal, down 5,801 carloads or 1.7 percent; grain, down 4,712 carloads or 5.3 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 3,283 carloads or 4.5 percent.
“Rail carloads in February, like in many other recent months, were held back by declines in coal, grain, and motor vehicles," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Declines in those categories are unfortunate, but they don't reflect general weakness in the economy. Excluding them, carloads were up a reasonably solid 2.1% in February. Moreover, February 2018 was the best month ever for carloads of chemicals and the second-best month ever for intermodal. While these are good signs for the broader economy going forward, they are potentially compromised by the uncertainty created by recent developments in trade policy."
Excluding coal, carloads were up 3,048 carloads, or 0.4 percent, in February 2018 from February 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 7,760 carloads, or 1.3 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first two months of 2018 was 2,245,546 carloads, down 2 percent, or 45,184 carloads, from the same period last year; and 2,414,142 intermodal units, up 5 percent, or 115,153 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first nine weeks of 2018 was 4,659,688 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 1.5 percent compared to last year.?
Week Ending March 3, 2018
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 544,194 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending March 3 were 264,659 carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,535 containers and trailers, up 10.4 percent compared to 2017.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included chemicals, up 1,941 carloads, to 33,983; miscellaneous carloads, up 1,142 carloads, to 11,766; and nonmetallic minerals, up 899 carloads, to 34,680. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included grain, down 797 carloads, to 23,198; forest products, down 481 carloads, to 9,813; and motor vehicles and parts, down 239 carloads, to 18,368.
North American rail volume for the week ending March 3, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,104 carloads, up 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 368,540 intermodal units, up 10.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 734,644 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first nine weeks of 2018 was 6,263,524 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 79,469 carloads for the week, down 1.2 percent, and 70,595 intermodal units, up 16.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first nine weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,261,814 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.7 percent.
?Mexican railroads reported 21,976 carloads for the week, up 4.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,410 intermodal units, down 2.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first nine weeks of 2018 was 342,022 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.9 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 3/07)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S NEW ONLINE CUSTOMER PORTAL:
Norfolk Southern has released its next-generation AccessNS, an e-commerce tool that gives customers an efficient and convenient one-stop digital platform to conduct business with the railroad.
The revamped online portal features faster functionality and a modern, intuitive user interface that is easy to navigate, putting customers in the driver's seat. By selecting digital "widgets," customers can create personalized dashboards that give them quick access to information they consider most vital to their transportation logistics needs.
The overhaul is part of a broader company initiative to drive business growth and supply-chain value through enhanced service offerings, including technology that significantly improves the customer experience.
"We have redesigned AccessNS from the ground up, giving it a totally new look," said Fred Ehlers, vice president information technology and chief information officer. "Next-generation AccessNS is all about meeting the unique shipping needs of each customer. We want to provide our customers with timely and reliable data they need to satisfy the demands of their customers and grow their business. Our goal is to be the transportation industry leader in providing data the way customers want it."
With the overhaul, customers can use AccessNS to seamlessly:
Norfolk Southern's AccessNS redesign is based on extensive customer engagement over the past 18 months. The company plans to use ongoing customer feedback to continuously improve the AccessNS digital experience. Within the next several months, Norfolk Southern plans additional updates to AccessNS and the release of an AccessNS mobile app for customers on the go.
"Our launch of the new AccessNS is about facilitating a low-touch, high-quality service experience on Norfolk Southern," said Mike McClellan, vice president industrial products. "This is just the beginning of our next-generation digital journey. With input from all of our customers, we look forward to providing continuous enhancements to the AccessNS platform to meet the ever-evolving demands of the market."
Learn more about Norfolk Southern's new digital customer experience in this
(Norfolk Southern - posted 3/06)
- Track shipments using interactive maps.
- Obtain real-time data on rail car movements, including deliveries and pickups.
- Request pricing, place shipping orders, and manage shipment exceptions.
METRO-NORTH CREWS TO PERFORM PORT JERVIS LINE UPGRADES THIS WEEKEND:
MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that this weekend, Metro-North crews will be out in force making improvements to the Port Jervis Line. The upgrades include installing a new cab signal system, welding and surfacing track, drainage work and laying additional ballast.
To accommodate work that helps ensure the on-going reliability and safety of the Port Jervis Line, buses will substitute for trains between Port Jervis and Ramsey-Route 17 from Friday evening, March 9, through Sunday evening, March 11. Buses will depart at the same time as scheduled trains.
Normal train schedules apply this weekend between Suffern and Secaucus/Hoboken. Buses will serve all stations between Sloatsburg and Port Jervis.
Regular train service resumes on Monday, March 12 with the 3:50 a.m. train from Port Jervis to Hoboken
(Metro North - posted 3/06)
SEP-TAINABLE ANNUAL REPORT REAFFIRMS AUTHORITY'S COMMITMENT
TO REGIONAL SUSTAINABILITY:
Today SEPTA advances its industry-leading Sustainability Program with the release of the SEP-TAINABLE Annual Report for 2018.
The 2018 Annual Report details sustainability achievements from the past year, including:
With the Annual Report, SEPTA is also releasing a second-generation Energy Action Plan that reinforces SEPTA's commitment to reduce energy consumption and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. Progress towards plan implementation began last month with the release of an expression of interest (EOI) for a multi-megawatt offsite renewable energy power purchase agreement (PPA) and the selection of Constellation New Energy, Inc., an energy service company (ESCO), to complete a self-funded retrofit of SEPTA's 1234 Market Street headquarters building.
Combined, these documents and initiatives reflect a proactive response to months of public and stakeholder feedback, and reinforce SEPTA's enduring commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability for the region.
"We listened to our stakeholders, partners and customers, and with these plans are acting on the feedback received with innovative initiatives and an ongoing commitment to continual improvement," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel.
Since 2012, SEPTA has maintained a gold rating from the American Public Transportation Association. Additionally, SEPTA has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions related to the operation of both facilities and vehicles. Riding SEPTA also reduces personal transportation emissions. On average, commuters who choose transit over driving cut their personal emissions by 70 percent.
"SEPTA plays an important role in helping Philadelphia become a more sustainable city for all, not only by moving more people with fewer vehicles, but also by reducing emissions through its investment in efficient vehicles and cleaner energy sources. We applaud SEPTA's efforts to support goals outlined in Greenworks," said the City of Philadelphia's Director of the Office of Sustainability, Christine Knapp.
More information about SEPTA Sustainability is available at
(SEPTA - posted 3/01)
Beginning the delivery of 525 hybrid electric buses along with the first of 25 battery-electric buses to serve the Routes 29 and 79 in South Philadelphia. Upon delivery, SEPTA will have the largest fleet of electric buses on the East Coast of the United States.
Selection of a developer to install more than three megawatts of roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, among the largest solar projects ever awarded in the City of Philadelphia.
Signing on as a founding member of the "2030 District" with the goal of achieving 50 percent water, energy and emissions reductions by 2030 at SEPTA's headquarters building, 1234 Market Street. The "2030 District" is an initiative of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC).
AMTRAK AWARDED FIVE-YEAR CONTRACT FOR MARC PENN LINE:
The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) has awarded Amtrak a new five-year contract to continue providing train operations services for the MARC Penn Line commuter trains operating between Washington, D.C., and Perryville, Md.
“Commuter contracts help Amtrak expand our business and meet our financial goals,” said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s Chief Commercial Officer. “MDOT MTA selecting Amtrak for this contract speaks volumes about the high-quality service we have provided over many years to Maryland and MARC passengers, and the strong operating relationship we have developed with MARC during that time.”
During the MARC Penn Line train operations contract bidding process, which began a year ago, Amtrak faced strong competitors with excellent reputations. Ultimately, Amtrak earned the business on the strength of the company’s technical proficiency, which was rated highest among all the bidders.
“Amtrak is committed to continuing to provide safe and efficient operations and excellent customer service for the tens of thousands of Penn Line riders who rely on us every day,” said Gardner.
(Amtrak - posted 2/28)
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEKN ENDING FEBRUARY 24, 2018:
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 528,440 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending February 24 were 251,970 carloads, down 1.3 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,470 containers and trailers, up 6.7 percent compared to 2017.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 781 carloads, to 85,600; petroleum and petroleum products, up 602 carloads, to 10,047; and farm products excl. grain, and food, up 103 carloads, to 16,494. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included grain, down 1,157 carloads, to 20,143; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,093 carloads, to 17,527; and nonmetallic minerals, down 1,044 carloads, to 31,511.
For the first eight weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,980,887 carloads, down 2.4 percent from the same point last year; and 2,134,607 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first eight weeks of 2018 was 4,115,494 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 1 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending February 24, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 346,089 carloads, down 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 363,753 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 709,842 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first eight weeks of 2018 was 5,528,880 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.7 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 72,911 carloads for the week, down 6.7 percent, and 68,277 intermodal units, up 6.1 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first eight weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,111,750 carloads, containers and trailers, level with the same week last year. ?
Mexican railroads reported 21,208 carloads for the week, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 19,006 intermodal units, up 2.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first eight weeks of 2018 was 301,636 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.1 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 2/28)
CUNARD PARTNERS WITH ROCKY MOUNTAINEER TO OFFER GUESTS LUXURY BY RAIL:
Luxury cruise brand Cunard has announced its partnership with Rocky Mountaineer to offer passengers unmatched experiences in Alaska. Recently it was announced that the legendary Cunard experience will return to Alaska in 2019, for the first time in over two decades.
The Rocky Mountaineer railroad is the only of its kind to travel its historic routes and is celebrated for the majestic views of mountains and curious wildlife. Since 1990, Rocky Mountaineer has welcomed over 2 million passengers. The supreme experience onboard the all-dome ?eet offers opulent, historic storytelling, top-notch cuisine, and a first-hand look at the vast and untouched wild beauty that lies in the Pacific Northwest.
"As we return to Alaska for the first time in twenty years, we are excited to partner with the Rocky Mountaineer, ensuring our passengers enjoy the remarkable scenery and Alaskan wildlife in the utmost of luxury both by land and by sea," said Josh Leibowitz, Senior VP, Cunard North America.
Rocky Mountaineer tours are offered pre- and post-voyage and includes either three or five nights' accommodation and two full days aboard the train. The expedition travels through a spectacular array of scenery with glacier and snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies, through winding river canyons, mountain passes and remarkable tunnels. Highlights include the Continental Divide, Kicking Horse Canyon, Spiral Tunnels and the rushing waters of Hell's Gate in the Fraser Canyon.
(Cunard Lines - posted 2/27)
FORMER BOSTON & MAINE SW1 PRESERVED:
The Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum (BSRM) is proud to announce the acquisition of First Light 1849 (nee Boston & Maine 1113), a 1941 Electro-Motive Division (EMD) SW-1, from the Mt. Tom Energy Plant located in Holyoke, Massachusetts. As one of only three remaining Boston & Maine SW-1s, it was identified by the museum’s curatorial staff as a “top priority” to further diversify the collection, particularly given its regional significance and originality. An initial attempt was made by the BSRM shortly after the plant was closed in 2014 but company officials had yet to determine whether the unit would be outright sold or transferred to another operation. With permitting secured, demolition of the site began in earnest in 2017 by Environmental Remediation Services (ERSI) of East Syracuse, New York. The small, one stall engine house which kept the locomotive out of the elements since its purchase from the Boston & Maine in July 1959 was the first to go, leaving behind a trail of mangled track and a clear indication the 1849 was next. However, Neil Black, a 40-year veteran of the plant and long-time maintainer of the unit would intervene. For him, the locomotive not only represented the pride he felt in keeping the lights on throughout the Pioneer Valley but memories of his colleagues who “had put their kids through college with the salaries they earned here.” Moved to action, Neil quietly let those who could potentially help know the 1849’s fate was hanging in the balance.
A flurry of emails, phone calls and texts ensued to stave off scrapping, at least temporarily. As access to the site was restricted, arrangements were made to inspect the unit as the overall condition was unknown, even within the preservation community. Members of the BSRM mechanical team arrived to find what Tom Delasco, chief mechanical officer, called a “time capsule.” With the exception of a few aesthetic modifications, 1849’s nearly sixty-years behind a protective fence had not only left its historic fabric intact but in excellent physical and mechanical condition. It was clear employees like Neil Black had taken as much pride in maintaining the locomotive as they did the plant. Further conversations would reveal the unit last ran on January 7, 2014 and had, just a year prior, received substantial mechanical work at Pan Am Railway’s East Deerfield maintenance facility. Negotiations began with ERSI president Tim Niedzwiecki, who quickly understood the significance of the artifact and the mission of the BSRM. Terms were settled on and a bill-of-sale drafted by the museum’s general counsel Pamela Green of Smith Green and Gold, LLP in early February. As of February 23, the unit is en-route via Pan Am Railways to its new home in North Adams, Massachusetts. Initial plans include a more thorough mechanical assessment and installation of new batteries, in addition to the acquisition of a proper bell, its original having been stolen after the plant closure. The phase one budget for the unit is $8,000 and will allow it to become operational. Donations can be made via PayPal and are greatly appreciated.
President of BSRM Jay Green remarked, “Preserving these types of artifacts is
as much about the stories they tell as it is the actual artifact itself. The 1849
represents not just a significant piece of New England railroad history but even more,
the people of western Massachusetts. The museum looks forward to using the locomotive to
tell the story of the Mt. Tom Power Plant, the people who worked there and the customers
it served.” The Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum would like to extend its sincere gratitude
to Neil Black, the employees of Pan Am Railways, Environmental Remediation Services,
Kevin Burkholder and the dedicated volunteers who have allowed a
significant piece of New England railroad history to be saved and interpreted for generations to come. At the BSRM we just don’t preserve history, we make it.
(Berkshire Scenic Facebook - posted 2/26)
GE TRANSPORTATION LANDS GE'S LARGEST DEAL IN UKRAINE:
GE Transportation signed a $1 billion framework agreement in Ukraine, marking a major milestone in the country’s efforts to modernize its transportation infrastructure and strengthen its position as a key European rail hub and trade corridor. The agreement, which is the largest ever for GE in the country, includes the supply of 30 GE Evolution Series freight locomotives to Ukrainian Railways, as well as additional locomotive kits over 10 years, the rehabilitation of locomotives in the railway’s legacy fleet, and long-term maintenance services. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko presided over the signing ceremony alongside Rafael Santana, President & CEO of GE Transportation.
“We’re happy that negotiations with GE progressed very quickly, wrapping up in just five months and leading to an unprecedented agreement,” said Yevgen Kravtsov, acting Chairman of the Board of Ukrainian Railways. “After many years of inactivity, this project will launch a large-scale modernization of Ukrainian Railway’s locomotive fleet. In addition to addressing Ukraine’s needs for greater capacity, this strategic partnership with GE will also provide a powerful impetus to further develop domestic manufacturing.”
Locomotive production is planned to commence in the U.S. in early 2018, with the first deliveries slated for this fall. In addition, certain work will be localized in Ukraine to further bolster job creation and economic development in the country.
“This deal demonstrates our expanding global customer base and is a promising step forward in our relationship with Ukrainian Railways, which can serve as a catalyst in attracting international financing and accelerating economic growth in Ukraine,” said Rafael Santana, President & CEO of GE Transportation. “We appreciate the continued trust and support of our partners in Ukraine, including the Ministry of Infrastructure, UkraineInvest, the Office of the National Investment Council, and Ukreximbank. With this agreement, GE will play a larger role in helping the region improve its rail infrastructure and bring products to market faster and more efficiently.”
Today’s announcement opens the next chapter in GE’s more than 80-year history of successful cooperation in Ukraine, reaffirming the company’s commitment to help modernize infrastructure, enhance energy security, increase access to high-quality healthcare, and support sustainable development.
The TE33A locomotives feature a 12-cylinder, 4,500-horsepower GE Evolution Series engine, delivering high power output, enhanced productivity, greater flexibility, lower lifecycle costs, and improved reliability in heavy-haul operations. Compared to the legacy Ukrainian fleet, the TE33A can significantly reduce harmful emissions, economize on fuel and oil costs, and increase time between maintenance overhauls.
- posted 2/23)
B&O RAILROAD MUSEUM DIRECTOR TO STEP DOWN:
Museum officials announced today that Courtney B. Wilson, the longtime Executive Director of
the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland will resign from his position in
the late Fall of 2018 to pursue consulting and other opportunities in the non-profit and museum
Mr. Wilson came to the B&O in April 1997 as Chief Curator. Following his predecessor’s departure in 1999 he was selected as the new Executive Director in January of 2000 after a national search. He is best known for leading the effort to rebuild and restore the Museum and its collections following the tragic roof collapse of the Museum’s Roundhouse roof during the President’s Day snowstorm of 2003; a turning point in the modern history of the Museum.
Under Wilson’s leadership, the Museum expanded its exhibition space more than three-fold, broadened its focus on education, expanded the visitor base, outreach to the community, and established collegial relationships with railway museums across the world. The B&O just completed a Master Plan which will guide the institution for the next decade and beyond. “For over 20 years I have enjoyed the opportunities and challenges of this great job, working with a supportive and active Board, a talented staff, and wonderful volunteers to grow this wonderful museum into what it is today. I feel that now is the right time to identify new leadership to continue to move the museum forward. I look forward to continuing my work in other history and heritage arenas.” Wilson said.
“Courtney is the face or our Museum. We will miss his steady hand at the tiller but he will always be a resource for us. The timing of this announcement allows us to inject new leadership and enthusiasm at the start of our Master Plan and to ensure that a succession-planning process will be deliberate and seamless until the best qualified candidate is secured and a smooth transition follows,” said Francis Smyth, Chairman of the Board of Directors. The B&O has appointed a Search Committee and has retained the Durakis Executive Search firm to lead the effort to identify the museum’s next leader.
(The B&O Railroad Museum
- posted 2/22)
CHICAGO'S METRA PURCHASES AMTRAK F59PHI LOCOMOTIVES:
The Metra Board of Directors today approved the purchase up to 21 used F59PHI locomotives for $1.3 million each, allowing Metra to quickly supplement its locomotive fleet while continuing a longer-term procurement of additional, new or remanufactured locomotives.
The F59PHIs, which were built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in 1998 and have been rehabbed within the last five years, have similar parts and operating characteristics to Metra’s existing fleet of EMD F40s, some of which are 35 years old and are in need of overhaul. That means they can be integrated into the Metra system quickly and without extensive and expensive training of maintenance and operating crews. The F59s would also increase reliability, reduce pollution and achieve fuel savings of about 10 percent to 25 percent over the older engines.
“Ideally Metra would have sufficient funding to replace older locomotives with new ones on a regular basis,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “However, Metra has been underfunded for years and we have to work with the funding we have available. We believe this purchase represents a great opportunity to make a big impact on our operations at a reasonable expense, and that’s why we are pursuing this purchase.”
It is rare for service-ready engines to be on the market. These 21 F59 locomotives were most recently used on the West Coast by Amtrak. The engines will become available this year as Amtrak switches to a new Siemens locomotive.
In late 2017, Metra issued a request for proposals (RFP) to begin to replace its aging fleet of engines with new or remanufactured locomotives. The RFP calls for a base order of at least 12 new or 15 remanufactured locomotives with options for up to 30 additional new locomotives or 27 additional remanufactured locomotives, for a total of up to 42 new or remanufactured locomotives. Metra is asking for proposals for both new and remanufactured engines because it wants to weigh the costs/benefits of both options.
Those new or remanufactured locomotives, however, would not be available until late 2020 at the earliest, while the used F59s will be available this year. The F59s would supplement the engines purchased under the RFP.
The F59 purchase will be funded with money already set aside for locomotive purchases or other capital needs and/or through financing.
(Metra, Alex Mayes
- posted 2/22)
MTA ANNOUNCES CATHERINE RINALDI NAMED
AS PRESIDENT OF METR0-NORTH RAILROAD:
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Joseph Lhota today announced that he has appointed Catherine Rinaldi as the sixth President of MTA Metro-North Railroad. Rinaldi has served as Acting President of Metro-North since July 2017, and previously was Metro-North’s Executive Vice President, beginning in 2015.
“Cathy is the best person to continue to push forward the progress that Metro-North has made in renewing the railroad and enhancing the confidence of its customers,” Chairman Lhota said.
“She brings 15 years of dedicated service to the MTA, a disarmingly calm management style, a razor-sharp intellect, and an uncanny ability to break problems down into their component parts to quickly find a practical solution.”
Rinaldi served as General Counsel for the MTA between 2003 and 2007 before taking on that role at the Long Island Rail Road, through 2011. In that year, she became Chief of Staff for the MTA, a position she held until 2015.
“Everyone who has had the good fortune of working with Cathy knows she inspires confidence in those around her through a mixture of leadership by example, evenhandedness and commitment to core principles,” said MTA Managing Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “She never loses sight of concern for customer experience.”
Metro-North Railroad is the second-busiest commuter railroad in the country, providing 86.5 million rides a year between Grand Central Terminal and 123 stations in nine counties in New York and Connecticut. Rinaldi becomes the first woman to serve as president.
"I’m honored and humbled to be offered this position and deeply appreciative of the confidence that Joe and Ronnie have placed in me,” Rinaldi said. “Since I came to Metro-North, the railroad’s dedicated employees have made me proud to be a part of their team. I look forward to working with everyone at the railroad to affirm and strengthen Metro-North’s commitment to safety and customer service.”
Rinaldi graduated summa cum laude from Yale and earned her law degree from the University of Virginia. She was born in Brooklyn, raised in Huntington, Long Island, and now resides in Westchester County with her husband and son.
- posted 2/21)
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 17, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 17, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 539,963 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending February 17 were 260,454 carloads, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,509 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent compared to 2017.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 1,689 carloads, to 34,048; chemicals, up 1,102 carloads, to 33,104; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 208 carloads, to 10,097. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 2,978 carloads, to 87,962; grain, down 1,316 carloads, to 21,495; and miscellaneous carloads, down 235 carloads, to 9,056.?
For the first seven weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,728,917 carloads, down 2.6 percent from the same point last year; and 1,858,137 intermodal units, up 4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2018 was 3,587,054 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 0.7 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending February 17, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 353,799 carloads, down 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 363,684 intermodal units, up 6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 717,483 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first seven weeks of 2018 was 4,819,038 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.5 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 71,591 carloads for the week, down 9.6 percent, and 66,267 intermodal units, up 6.9 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first seven weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 970,562 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.1 percent.?
Mexican railroads reported 21,754 carloads for the week, up 1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,908 intermodal units, down 7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first seven weeks of 2018 was 261,422 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.1 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 2/21)
URGENT PLEA TO SAVE LOUISIANA & ARKANSAS 4-6-0 503:
You can help prevent a beautiful Louisiana & Arkansas , 4-6-0, # 503, from being scrapped later this week. In three and a half days, over $43,000 has been raised to save this engine. Another $6,800.00 is needed. Scrappers are on site, ready to start cutting. But, cranes and a low boy are standing by to rescue this engine. A permanent home has been selected. Their long-term goal is to return 503 to operation. You can make a difference.
I am told that the state of Texas has directed the city of Port Arthur, Texas to immediately remove this engine because of its asbestos danger and the fact that it is in a flood plane. The contractor, who now owns the engine, is under contract to have the engine removed by next week. To avoid penalties, he will start scrapping the engine tomorrow morning if they do not raise $50,000.00 by midnight, tonight!
Please go to the following "Go Fund Me" web site and make a donation. It took me less than one minute.
Then, call and email your friends and encourage them to do the same.
When I viewed the list of donations, I saw a lot of names of people who donated to the John Helmstetter barn fund and people who have ridden on our Photo Special steam trips.
For more information and a picture of the engine, please visit the following:
- posted 2/20)
CP INTRODUCES TEMPPRO:
As Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) continues to develop its total transportation product, the company launched today a brand new service offering called CP TempPro™, for customers shipping perishable products. This offering will allow CP the opportunity to grow the company's book of business with perishable protective service (PPS) customers.
Focused on transporting products that require strict temperature settings, CP's growing fleet of PPS is one of the largest and most advanced in the industry. CP TempPro™ ensures that customers' products are transported in a reliable, fuel-efficient temperature-controlled environment.
In 2017, CP announced the purchase of 41 gensets to better serve its international customers. These gensets also support the new reefer domestic repositioning program (reefer DRP), which creates new shipping options for our domestic customers and provides improved round trip economics for our international shippers. In 2018, CP will invest in over 400 new 53' reefers to support the growing temperature-control market. CP will also be the first to offer Thermo King's SLXi-DRC model which features a slimmer design, allowing for two additional pallet positions in a shipment. The SLXi-DRC also utilizes a greener refrigerant, R-452A, which decreases global warming potential over its predecessor, the R-404A. In addition, CP is purchasing over 350 53' heater units. Combined, these investments will support CP TempPro™.
"CP is committed to giving our customers everything they need as one total transportation product, which is why CP TempPro™ is a great addition to our roster of services," said Jonathan Wahba, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Intermodal and Automotive. "Great customer service is imperative to what we do at CP. We have listened to our customers and have learned that efficient, timely and reliable access to our network is paramount to expanding their business, and ours."
CP's fluid and reliable domestic intermodal network also boasts the shortest routes to key markets, including Toronto to Vancouver and Calgary. Throughout 2017, CP made significant investments in its broader intermodal franchise, which is now complemented with a variety of upgrades such as the Portal, North Dakota Live Lift, CP FastPass and enhanced transload services. CP also offers the most direct intermodal service from Vancouver to Detroit and direct service from Vancouver to the Ohio Valley.
- posted 2/20)
NTSB SAFETY RECOMMENDATION: TRAIN OPERATION DURING SIGNAL SUSPENSION:
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a head-on collision that occurred on February 4, 2018, about 2:27 a.m. eastern standard time on the CSX Transportation (CSX) Columbia Subdivision in Cayce, South Carolina. Southbound Amtrak train 91, operating on a track warrant, diverted from the main track through a reversed hand-thrown switch into a siding and collided head-on with stationary CSX local freight train F777 03.1
The engineer and conductor of the Amtrak train died as a result of the collision. At least 92 passengers and crewmembers on the Amtrak train were transported to medical facilities. The engineer of the stopped CSX train had exited the lead locomotive before the Amtrak train entered the siding, ran to safety, and was not injured. The conductor of the CSX lead locomotive saw the Amtrak train approaching in the siding and ran to the back of locomotive. The conductor was thrown off the locomotive and sustained minor injuries.
The normal method of train operation on the subdivision was a traffic control system with wayside signals. Signal indications authorize movement in either direction. On the day before the accident, February 3, 2018, CSX signal personnel suspended the traffic control signal system to install updated traffic control system components for implementing positive train control (PTC) on the subdivision. During this time, scheduled to last through February 4, 2018, the signals would not operate and dispatchers would use track warrants to move trains through absolute blocks in the work territory. Although the installation was only partially complete, the signal personnel stopped work at the accident location at 7:00 p.m., and the signal suspension remained in place
The National Transportation Safety Board makes the following urgent safety recommendation:
To the Federal Railroad Administration:
Issue an Emergency Order directing railroads to require that when signal suspensions are in effect and a switch has been reported relined for a main track, the next train or locomotive to pass the location must approach the switch location at restricted speed. After the switch position is verified, the train crew must report to the dispatcher that the switch is correctly lined for the main track before trains are permitted to operate at maximum-authorized speed. (R-18-005) (Urgent)
(NTSB - posted 2/16)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN SOUTHERN TIER LINE DERAILMENT
An eastbound Norfolk Southern multilevel train, operating on the Southern Tier Line, derailed today about 4:15 p.m. near East Maine Street Road in Attica, N.Y.
Early reports are that both NS locomotives derailed, along with 10 multilevels that were loaded with new automobiles. Two injuries were reported.
(Joel R. Havens - posted 2/15)
FRA ANNOUNCES $73 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR RAIL CAPITAL PROJECTS AND OPERATING ASSISTANCE:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that it is accepting applications for $73 million in grant funding for projects that can strengthen intercity passenger rail, support capital projects and boost safety initiatives that may include the implementation of positive train control, improved highway-rail grade crossings, and congestion mitigation.
“These grants are important resources in the Department’s ongoing efforts to strengthen our Nation’s overall rail systems, deploy positive train control and improve highway-rail grade crossings,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.
The funding, made available through new grant programs, is authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017. These grants are expected to leverage private, state and local investments to boost a wide range of rail projects, including the potential for implementing positive train control, improving highway-rail grade crossings, mitigating congestion, repairing or replacing railroad assets, and enhancing intercity passenger rail transportation.
This announcement and solicitation reflects the White House’s Infrastructure principles, including: (A) Supporting economic vitality at the national and regional level; (B) Leveraging Federal funding to attract other, non-Federal sources of infrastructure investment, as well as accounting for the life-cycle costs of the project; (C) Using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and (D) Holding grant recipients accountable for their performance and achieving specific, measurable outcomes identified by grant applicants.
Funds will be dispersed through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program and the Restoration and Enhancement Grants program.
The notices of funding opportunity (NOFO) have been submitted to the Federal Register and will be publishing shortly. To view the NOFOs, visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L19360 and
At least 25 percent, or $17 million, of CRISI’s $68 million in funding will be used for rural projects like highway-rail grade crossing improvement projects. Another $10 million is available for certain capital projects like rail line relocation and improvement or grade separation projects that contribute to the safe initiation or restoration of intercity passenger rail service. A portion of funding from the CRISI and Restoration and Enhancement programs—$2.2 million set-aside for Special Transportation Circumstances—is directed to grants for freight or intercity passenger rail capital projects in Alaska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
(FRA - posted 2/15)
NJ TRANSIT SELECTS KEVIN CORBETT AS NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:
In a unanimous vote, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved Kevin Corbett as the next Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT during the regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting today. The appointment is effective starting on Monday, February 19, 2018.
"Kevin is taking on one of the toughest jobs in New Jersey – turning NJ Transit around and restoring it as a world-class transportation agency that our commuters can rely on. Every New Jerseyan who takes the train or bus every day, and the thousands of employees who show up for work, deserves visionary leadership committed to getting this system right. Kevin’s confirmation signals that we have begun the difficult process of rebuilding NJ TRANSIT and, in time, regaining commuters’ trust in the system,” said Governor Phil Murphy.
“I would like to thank Governor Murphy and the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors for the opportunity to serve the state of New Jersey,” said incoming Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “I look forward to working with the dedicated men and women of NJ TRANSIT in restoring the transportation system to the national leader it once was, providing safe and reliable service and boosting economic development in New Jersey.”
Prior to incoming Executive Director Corbett’s appointment, he served as Vice President, Cross Services at AECOM, one of the world’s premier transportation and infrastructure companies. In this role, Mr. Corbett drew on the extensive resources from across AECOM’s various business lines to provide optimal solutions for AECOM’s clients.
AECOM projects that Mr. Corbett was Principal-In-Charge of or actively served in a management role included Moynihan Station Phase one, Amtrak’s Gateway Program, Second Avenue Subway – Phase one, Penn Vision, Penn Station Critical Improvements, One WTC Interim Loading Dock, Post-Sandy PATH Restoration and other related regional resiliency and restoration projects. Previously, Mr. Corbett was responsible for the global marine and freight business for DMJM+HARRIS, a legacy AECOM company, as well as other AECOM subsidiaries.
In the civic realm, Mr. Corbett currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Regional Plan Association (RPA) and is Co-Chair of its Transportation Committee. He also serves on the board of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York & New Jersey (President), Tri-State Transportation Campaign and The New York League of Conservation Voters (Chairman).
Mr. Corbett is a graduate of Georgetown University and serves as a Blue & Gold Officer for the U.S. Naval Academy.
- posted 2/14)
NJ TRANSIT APPROVES ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW’S PROPOSED ALIGNMENT FOR HBLR EXPANSION TO BERGEN COUNTY:
a unanimous vote, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved the proposed alignment of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail’s planned expansion into Bergen County as described in the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact statement dated March 2017. The selection of the “Locally Preferred Alternative” is required as part of the federal environmental review process.
The Board action also authorizes the submission of the Locally Preferred Alternative to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Board of Trustees for designation and inclusion in their Long-Range Regional Transportation Plan.
During Project Development the project sponsor must select a Locally Preferred Alternative; get the Locally Preferred Alternative adopted into the fiscally constrained metropolitan transportation plan; and complete the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
By selecting the Locally Preferred Alternative at this time, NJ TRANSIT will be able to initiate design and engineering activities upon completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and receipt of the Record of Decision from the FTA, in advance of requesting entry into Project Development.
Locally Preferred Alternative
The Locally Preferred Alternative consists of a 10-mile two-track extension of the HBLR from its current terminus at Tonnelle Avenue northward to the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, generally utilizing CSX Transportation’s Northern Branch running track. The project will construct a total of seven stations in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Englewood (three stations) and parking for approximately 2,740 vehicles. Service is proposed to operate from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. with six-minute headways during the peak period and 15-minute headways during the off-peak period. It is estimated that the project will serve 12,370 passengers per average weekday in the year 2030.
- posted 2/14)
WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 10, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 10, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 519,545 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending February 10 were 251,058 carloads, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 268,487 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared to 2017.
Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 2,046 carloads, to 31,551; chemicals, up 1,224 carloads, to 31,782; and metallic ores and metals, up 1,010 carloads, to 20,396. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 were coal, down 3,729 carloads, to 85,591; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,980 carloads, to 16,693; and grain, down 1,442 carloads, to 19,035.
For the first six weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,468,463 carloads, down 2.9 percent from the same point last year; and 1,578,628 intermodal units, up 3.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first six weeks of 2018 was 3,047,091 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 0.3 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending February 10, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 344,660 carloads, down 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 348,177 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 692,837 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first six weeks of 2018 was 4,101,555 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.3 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 73,983 carloads for the week, down 3.1 percent, and 63,526 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first six weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 832,704 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent.?
Mexican railroads reported 19,619 carloads for the week, down 8.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,164 intermodal units, down 8.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first six weeks of 2018 was 221,760 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 2/14)
LIRC LOCOMOTIVES LOGOS HONOR VETERANS:
Members of the U.S. military are honored in a bold new logo applied to the flanks of two Louisville & Indiana Railroad (LIRC) diesel locomotives, underscoring LIRC’s long-standing commitment to recognizing and hiring veterans.
The logo, designed by Tyler Hardin, depicts silhouettes of three soldiers from different eras against a backdrop of the American flag. The design, framed by the LIRC keystone, includes five stars for the branches of the service and the legend “Honoring Our Veterans.” A soldier in the center wears a contemporary helmet, flanked by a pair of soldiers, one wearing a World War I-era “Doughboy” helmet and the other an M1 helmet from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam
The locomotives are 3,000 h.p. SD40-2 units numbered 3001 and 3002, and were repainted during a recent upgrade at Metro East Industries Inc. in Fairview Heights, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis. The units are leased from CIT Rail.
“We think this is a very simple and effective way of honoring veterans,” says LIRC President John Goldman. “We’re very cognizant of the fact we have veterans that need jobs, and they make good employees. In many ways, railroading and the military are similar, with challenging jobs, outdoor work, and odd shifts.”
For designer Hardin, it was an honor to have the chance to create the logo. “There is nothing in the world I could do to repay anyone who has donned a uniform to protect the freedoms all of us enjoy,” he says. “The only thing I can do is show my gratitude and put it on full display.”
In 2017, LIRC’s commitment to veterans was honored by the American Short Line and Regional Railroads Association (ASLRRA), which presented the railroad with its Timmons Award, a program recognizing efforts to hire and retain veterans. Of LIRC’s total of 47 employees, one fourth are veterans, active-duty reservists, or members of the National Guard.
The award is named for Lt. Gen. Richard F. Timmons (USA Ret.), a former president of the ASLRRA.
Goldman says the railroad’s efforts to hire veterans will continue. “All things being equal, we prefer to give veterans the edge in hiring,” he says.
Last summer, LIRC worked directly with Indiana’s National Guard 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team when it was deployed from Camp Atterbury via LIRC tracks. The training mission simulated combat operations and involved approximately 309 railcars, 1,207 pieces of equipment, and 6,000 soldiers.
The deployment was the ?rst following completion of a nine-track National Guard rail terminal on the LIRC at Edinburgh, Ind. The facility is designed to enable more efficient rail movements of large quantities of material over long distances.
The new veterans paint scheme is in keeping with the corporate philosophy of LIRC’s ownership group, Chicago-based Anacostia Rail Holdings. In 2013, another ARH property, Pacific Harbor Line (PHL), was named Veterans Employer of the Year by the California Employer Advisory Council, recognizing the railroad’s success in ensuring that approximately one-fourth of its workforce are veterans, active-duty Guardsmen, and reservists.
PHL’s efforts to hire veterans are spearheaded by the railroad’s president, Otis Cliatt II, himself a U.S. Army veteran.
- posted 2/13)
PRESIDENT TRUMP'S INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT:
President Donald Trump announced plans for a nation wide plan to improve the country's infrastructure. The plan is based upon state and local expenditures for projects, with the
Federal Government only allocating $200 billion toward infrasture improvements. The plan might lead to uncertain source of funding for many railroad projects, including the Gateway Project that would
link New Jersey and New York. President Trump issued a press release as follows:
"A Nation’s infrastructure is a measure of its greatness. It affects everyone’s quality of life, ability to succeed, and is obviously, a critical component to a functioning economy.
That is why President Trump unveiled his infrastructure plan this week, calling on Congress to pass legislation that will make everything from highways to waterways safer, faster, more reliable, and modern.
But did you know – although the federal government plays an outsized role in issuing infrastructure permits, it actually owns and funds very few projects?
Virtually 100 percent of major infrastructure projects in the U.S. require some form of federal permitting, slowing down the process of which skyscrapers are built, bridges constructed, and highways paved.
The U.S. built the Empire State Building in just one year, but now it can take up to 10 years just to get a project off the ground. That’s why President Trump’s infrastructure plan aims to cut the permitting process down to 2 years – so that projects can be built more swiftly, and meet the needs of you and your families in the timeframe you deserve.
Although the federal government plays an outsized role in permitting, it actually owns and funds very little infrastructure in the United States.
The federal government funds about 14 percent of all of the country’s infrastructure needs, and owns even less. Spending from the private sector and state and local governments make up the other 86 percent.
That’s why President Trump’s plan aims to incentivize these groups – private companies, state and local governments – to take ownership of their infrastructure projects. His initiative will delegate authority to states and communities, and trust them to make decisions to meet their own unique infrastructure needs.
The President’s plan will also encourage these entities by awarding project sponsors incentives for demonstrating innovative infrastructure approaches that will generate outside investment, with increased performance and shortened timelines. It will award federal money based on the merits of these proposals."
States and localities really do know best. It’s time for Washington to get out of the way, and instead of build bridges to nowhere, let the people who live in their communities decide what projects they need to better the quality of their lives
(The White House
- posted 2/12)
WHITE HOUSE INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN GUTS LONG-DISTANCE AMTRAK:
The White House today released a disappointing package of infrastructure initiatives and transportation budget cuts, including once again advancing plans to gut Amtrak’s long-distance services by cutting $757 million from the annual Amtrak grant.
The Administration contends that the money needed to operate the National Network after the cuts can come from the states served, but also suggests that devolving costs to the States “is only one tool in the menu of options for reform the Administration will be exploring to improve the current system and reduce Federal subsidies in the Long Distance network.”
The Rail Passengers Association is asking its members to take action immediately to stave off these draconian cuts to vital National Network services. RPA has set up an online tool to permit riders and members alike to let the White House know directly that they disagree with these proposed cuts.
to take action NOW!
Donald Trump campaigned on a message of bringing America's infrastructure into the 21st Century. He specifically cited passenger rail, saying it was embarrassing how far behind the US has fallen compared with China, and promising to close that gap.
Today’s new budget proposal, however, calls for the virtual elimination of Amtrak's National Network, slashing the railroad’s budget roughly in half, from $1.4 billion to $738 million.
“They know full well that asking states to absorb more costs is not feasible, and the default choice will be to drop service,” said RPA President Jim Mathews in response to the budget. This approach failed before, because the long-distance train network serves markets that overlap on state corridors. The question of what entity pays for which service got messy when the same approach was tried on what would become the Lake Shore Limited in 1971 – the end result being a collapse of service after only nine months.
Another proposed item on the “menu” involves phasing out first class sleeping cars. Sleeping car fares cross-subsidize coach services on long distance trains. The federal cost of moving one person one mile in a sleeping car is less than it is in coach. This change would actually worsen the financials of the national network.
If funding for Amtrak's National Network is cut, more than 220 communities will lose service, and more than 140 million Americans will be left at the station. These are mostly smaller and rural towns, and they don't have airports or Megabuses.
“Just because these towns are small doesn't make them fly-over country, though” Mathews continued. “They are the cities and towns that voted for [Trump] because they felt disconnected from the American dream, and they deserve a government that invests in them. Amtrak provides that connection, letting these Americans access critical services, jobs, and family.”
Other cuts include the popular and effective grant program known as TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, which so far has injected a little more than $5 billion into transportation investments nationwide.
“The move to eliminate TIGER grants flies in the face of the stated goal of both the White House’s budget and Mr. Trump’s infrastructure proposals, which are ostensibly aimed at encouraging more private investment,” Mathews added. “In some ways, TIGER is the ultimate public-private partnership, attracting nearly $4 of additional investment for every TIGER grant dollar awarded.”
The Rail Passengers Association continues to urge that Mr. Trump fulfill his promise to rebuild and modernize America's rail network, and just as they did last summer, RPA members will #Rally4Trains at stations nationwide to show their support for a true national rail service.
(Rail Passengers Association
- posted 2/12)
AAR STATEMENT ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S INFRASTURE PRINCIPLES:
Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), issued the following statement in reaction to infrastructure principles released today by the Trump administration.
“The private freight rail industry commends the Trump administration for formally beginning the discussion on infrastructure legislation with this document today. The sector particularly welcomes the efforts to streamline the federal permitting processes, including in the proposal's attempt to codify Executive Orders into law while also strengthening existing processes. At its core, however, the most important aspect to any such package remains the integrity of the Highway Trust Fund. Policymakers should make every effort to return surface transportation funding to a truly equitable, user-pay system as originally designed."
- posted 2/12)
TORONTO'S METROLINX PROPOSES 12 NAME CHANGES FOR FINCH WEST, HURONTARIO LRT STOPS:
Metrolinx is inviting the public to share their thoughts on proposed name changes for some of the Finch West and Hurontario LRT stops — a move that will help avoid duplication and rider confusion.
Metrolinx has established a set of best practices for transit stop naming principles which are being used to determine the final stop names for the new LRT lines. The planned construction of hundreds of kilometres of new rapid transit in the region over the coming decades requires a consistent strategy to make the network easy to navigate and to avoid customer confusion. Metrolinx’s stop-naming principles (“simple, logical, durable/relevant, self-locating and unique”) will help achieve this.
Metrolinx is soliciting feedback on the proposed new stop names for the LRTs being built on Finch West in Toronto and on Hurontario in Peel Region. From January 29 to February 12, 2018 the public will be able to give their feedback online at metrolinxengage.com.
The Finch West LRT will be an 11-kilometre, 18 stops light rail service connecting people from the TTC Finch West Subway Station at Keele Street to Humber College. The Finch West LRT will connect with TTC, GO, Miway, Viva, and Züm transit services at the terminal Humber College stop. The naming principles require changes for four Finch West stops.
The Hurontario LRT will be a 20-kilometre, 22 stops light rail service connecting people from the Port Credit GO station to the Brampton Gateway Terminal. The Hurontario LRT will connect with the Port Credit and Cooksville GO stations, Mississauga Transitway, MiWay and Züm transit lines. Eight Hurontario stops require some changes to avoid any duplication or confusion.
To see the proposed new stop names and participate in the online public consultation, please visit .
- posted 2/09)
NEARLY IDENTICAL PROBABLE CAUSES FOR 2 COMMUTER RAIL ACCIDENTS DRIVE SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS:
The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday determined that two commuter railroad terminal accidents in the New York area were caused by engineer fatigue resulting from undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea.
The Sept. 29, 2016, accident on the New Jersey Transit railroad at Hoboken, New Jersey, killed one person, injured 110, and resulted in major damage to the station. The Jan. 4, 2017, accident on the Long Island Rail Road at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, New York, injured 108 people. Both accidents involved trains that struck end-of-track bumping posts and crashed into stations
The NTSB found the two accidents had “almost identical” probable causes and safety issues. The board also determined that these safety issues were not unique to these two properties, but exist throughout the country at many intercity passenger and commuter passenger train terminals.
In a statement issued in August 2017 the NTSB expressed its “disappointment” with the withdrawal of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stating, “Obstructive sleep apnea has been in the probable cause of 10 highway and rail accidents investigated by the NTSB in the past 17 years … Medical fitness and fatigue, two of the NTSB’s 10 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements for 2017 – 2018, are tied to obstructive sleep apnea.”
“The traveling public deserves alert operators,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “That is not too much to ask.”
When operating a train into a terminating track, the engineer’s actions, or lack thereof, solely determine whether the train stops before the end of the track. According to the FRA there are currently no mechanisms installed in the U.S. that will automatically stop a train at the end of the track if the engineer is incapacitated, inattentive or disengaged. Some railroads have overspeed capabilities, including New Jersey Transit and the LIRR. However, as shown in these two accidents, once the engineer slowed the train to the prescribed speed, the system did not stop the trains before they reached the end of the track.
In addition to recommending safety-sensitive personnel be screened for obstructive sleep apnea, the board recommended the use of technology, such as positive train control, in terminal stations and improving the effectiveness of system safety program plans to improve terminal operations. The NTSB made two recommendations to New Jersey Transit, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (the parent company of the Long Island Rail Road) and two to the Federal Railroad Administration.
“Today’s new recommendations, if acted upon, have the potential to eliminate end-of-track collisions,’’ Sumwalt said. “That translates to protection for passengers on trains, and for people standing on terminal platforms.”
The complete accident report will be available in several weeks. The findings, probable cause, safety recommendations, Chairman Sumwalt’s prepared remarks and PowerPoint presentations used in Tuesday’s board meeting are all available at URL https://go.usa.gov/xnscj.
The New Jersey Transit Hoboken accident docket, containing more than 1,100 pages of supporting factual material, is available,
The Long Island Rail Road Brooklyn accident docket, containing more than 1,400 pages of supporting factual material, is available,
- posted 2/08)
RESEAU ELECTRIQUE METROPOLITAN PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT:
CDPQ Infra announced today the official launch of its project to build largest public transportation network in Greater Montréal in 50 years: the Réseau express métropolitain (REM).
CDPQ Infra is a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and is responsible for developing and operating infrastructure projects, including the Réseau express métropolitain (REM). The REM is a new, integrated 67-km public transit network intended to link downtown Montréal, the South Shore, the West Island (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue), the North Shore (Laval and Deux-Montagnes) and the airport through an entirely automated and electric light rail transit (LRT) system,
Less than two years after the project was announced, the REM becomes a reality:
(CDPQ Infra- posted 2/08)
- Construction will start in April.
- Initial testing will be conducted at the end of 2020.
- The first riders will begin boarding in the summer of 2021
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR JANUARY AND THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 3, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 3, 2018, as well as volumes for January 2018.
U.S. railroads originated 1,217,405 carloads in January 2018, down 3.4 percent, or 42,431 carloads, from January 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,310,141 containers and trailers in January 2018, up 3.5 percent, or 44,183 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in January 2018 were 2,527,546, up 0.1 percent, or 1,752 carloads and intermodal units from January 2017.
In January 2018, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2017. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 3,498 carloads or 3.8 percent; petroleum & petroleum products, up 3,196 carloads or 6.4 percent; and lumber & wood products, up 1,167 carloads or 8.0 percent. Commodities that saw declines in January 2018 from January 2017 included: coal, down 25,083 carloads or 5.8 percent; motor vehicles & parts, down 8,372 carloads or 10.1 percent; and grain, down 6,917 carloads or 5.8 percent.?
“Recent stock market gyrations remind all of us that, when it comes to things related to the economy, conditions can change quickly. For now, though, rail volumes are not flashing strong warning signs," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “In January, intermodal picked up where it left off last year, when it set a new annual record, and several carload categories showed gains for the month. To be sure, we could do without January's sharp fall in motor vehicle and coal carloads, among others, but we're hopeful that the basic economy remains on a firm footing and that the recent turmoil in the markets simply represents an adjustment to potential interest rate changes."
Excluding coal, carloads were down 17,348 carloads, or 2.1 percent, in January 2018 from January 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 10,431 carloads, or 1.5 percent.
Week Ending February 3, 2018
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 547,993 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending February 3 were 265,157 carloads, down 1.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 282,836 containers and trailers, up 6.3 percent compared to 2017.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included metallic ores and metals, up 1,147 carloads, to 20,984; nonmetallic minerals, up 773 carloads, to 32,690; and chemicals, up 736 carloads, to 33,443. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 2,796 carloads, to 89,644; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,354 carloads, to 16,329; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,176 carloads, to 16,165.
North American rail volume for the week ending February 3, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 364,307 carloads, down 1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 370,608 intermodal units, up 6.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 734,915 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first five weeks of 2018 was 3,408,718 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.3 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 78,488 carloads for the week, down 2 percent, and 70,646 intermodal units, up 7.9 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first five weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 695,195 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.8 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 20,662 carloads for the week, up 8.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,126 intermodal units, up 3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first five weeks of 2018 was 185,977 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.9 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 2/07)
ACELA TRAIN UNCOUPLES AT TRACK SPEED.
At approximately 7:00 a.m. today Amtrak Acela train 2150, en route from Washington, DC to
Boston uncoupled at trackside in Havre De Grace, Maryland. The train was cruising along at
124 miles per hour when the train separated into two sectiona. The 52 passengers on board were transferred to
Northeast Regional Train 180. The cause of the train uncoupling is under investigation.
(Randy Kotuby, Alex Mayes - posted 2/06)
MASSDOT'S SOUTH COAST RAIL PROJECT PROCEEDING:
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced that the South Coast Rail project is proceeding with the filing of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office. The DSEIR document analyzes only the new elements proposed as part of Phase 1 that were not previously analyzed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)/Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).
"Lieutenant Governor Polito and I are committed to following through on decades of promises and today's filing is a vital step toward bringing reliable, affordable rail service to the South Coast," said Governor Charlie Baker.
"The Baker-Polito Administration is filing this document with MEPA because the Commonwealth is committed to moving forward to provide commuter rail service for the South Coast as soon as possible," said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "In the words of Governor Baker last month in the State of the Commonwealth speech, 'After more than 3 decades of lip service, we're going to make commuter rail from Fall River and New Bedford to Boston a reality.' With the filing of the DSEIR and other documents, the day gets closer when people will be able to have a one-seat ride on a train between Boston and the South Coast, connecting them to jobs, schools, businesses, and cultural opportunities, and taking vehicles off the highways to help reduce greenhouse gases."
Phase 1 of South Coast Rail will provide commuter rail service by extending service from the Middleborough/Lakeville Line to New Bedford, Fall River, and Taunton using existing active freight rail corridors. As proposed for the Full Build Project, and analyzed in the South Coast Rail FEIS/FEIR, service will be provided on the Southern Triangle, which connects Fall River and New Bedford to Cotley Junction in Taunton. The new primary element to be included in Phase 1 is the use of the existing Middleborough Secondary freight line to connect Taunton to the Middleborough Main Line.
"Re-establishing passenger rail service to Boston is one of the key infrastructure investments that will enable Greater New Bedford to become more economically competitive," said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. "I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration's thoughtful approach to this complex and long-anticipated project, which will offer more reasons to live work and invest in our city."
"With the submission of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report to MEPA, the Baker-Polito Administration is proving its commitment to making South Coast Rail a reality for the City of Fall River and the region," said City of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II. "The phasing puts us on a much faster track towards building a critical rail connection and the economic development and quality of life benefits we have been waiting for all these years, while MassDOT continues to move ahead with all the hard work that needs to happen to make the Middleborough Alternative a reality. I am pleased to see such significant progress."
"Since day one my priority has been immediate construction in the Southern Triangle to finally connect New Bedford to South Station via commuter rail," said Senator Mark C. Montigny, who has led Senate efforts to secure the project's bonding authorizations and legislation directing construction in the Southern Triangle. "I am pleased to see Governor Baker and his administration has prioritized rail access to New Bedford and are making progress. Several hurdles remain before we can finally rest assured that construction can commence and be completed in time for hardworking taxpayers and commuters to board a train in 2022, but today is a major step in the right direction."
"This signals a tremendous move forward for a long-awaited project in a deserving region. The economic development potential will be realized much sooner with Phase 1," said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues. "I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration's commitment to the South Coast Rail Project, and its recognition of the impact this will have on our community."
"Today's MassDOT filing of an environmental supplement with the state's MEPA office is a truly significant day in our efforts to get early, cheaper and real commuter rail service for Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton," said State Representative William M. Straus. "The data in this filing shows that providing interim service now for our region by using the Middleborough Line puts people on trains at least ten years sooner, at one-third the cost and without a single wetlands variance being required. This is a creative approach and one which Governor Baker has been willing to take in order to provide the South Coast with the transportation choices we are entitled to."
"This is an incredibly significant milestone in the restoration of commuter rail service to the South Coast. This report shows that Phase 1 of the South Coast Rail project will get our residents from point A to point B while also meeting the Commonwealth's environmental standards," said Hugh Dunn of the South Coast Development Partnership. "We are encouraged by the rate at which this project is moving, and would like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration and our legislative delegation for their continued support for the project."
"The filing of the South Coast Rail draft environmental report by MassDOT is a welcome sign of the great progress that is being made in restoring commuter rail service to the South Coast," said Rail to Boston Coalition Chair Paul Chasse. "Commuter rail is a long-awaited need for the underserved Gateway Cities of Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton. The phased approach will expedite this critical link to the growth and prosperity of the region and bring employment opportunities to the people of the South Coast. As a group of major business and community organizations advocating for South Coast Rail, the Rail to Boston Coalition commends the Baker-Polito Administration for its commitment to implementing South Coast Rail and applauds MassDOT for taking the necessary steps to move the project forward."
Last year, facing a substantially longer time line and sharply higher costs for the Stoughton Electric Alternative, MassDOT began analyzing a phased approach for the SCR project to achieve passenger rail service faster than the "Full Build" option. This strategy required a Notice of Project Change, which was filed with MEPA in March 2017. The Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs issued a certification on May 26, 2017, directing MassDOT to conduct additional analysis related to the phasing and to submit a DSEIR summarizing this work.
Conducting a thorough Alternatives Analysis, MassDOT screened 7 service alternatives and arrived at the Phase 1 alternative. Meanwhile, preliminary engineering design work has continued and will continue on the Full Build of the Stoughton Electric Alternative.
MassDOT's phased approach to SCR will give all passengers a one-seat ride from Fall River and New Bedford into Boston rather than having to transfer trains. Phase 1 of the project will also build 56% of the rail miles needed for the Full Build Stoughton Electric Alternative, establishing a foundation for this service while the Full Build's complexities continue to be addressed.
In addition, Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) performed ridership analyses using the FTA-approved model, finding that the projected ridership at the new stations under Phase 1 will be 41% of the Full Build ridership at one-third of the cost. CTPS projected daily one-way trips at approximately 3,220 and one-way trips per year totaling approximately 837,200. It is estimated that Phase 1 riders will save a total of approximately 60 minutes each weekday traveling by train when compared to traveling by automobile to and from Boston. Data show that 21% of Fall River residents and 22% of New Bedford residents do not have an automobile, making train service all the more important to residents of these communities. Phase 1 will serve 72% of the Environmental Justice (EJ) population served by the Full Build. 86% of the EJ population in New Bedford and about 50% of the EJ population in Fall River reside within a half mile of a new Phase 1 station.
The DSEIR analyzes new project elements associated with Phase 1, including improvements to track infrastructure on the Middleborough Secondary (an active freight line), Southern Triangle construction, a new station constructed in Middleborough at Pilgrim Junction, a new station in East Taunton, and modifications to previously studied stations at Freetown and Fall River.
Other elements include the extension of Middleborough diesel service and an anticipated service start in late 2022. Phase 1 service will use the Middleborough fleet, including diesel locomotives. New bi-level coaches will accommodate additional riders.
Phase 1 capital costs are estimated at $935 million, 85% of which is for the Southern Triangle (Cotley Junction in Taunton, south to Fall River and New Bedford). Full Build capital costs are estimated at $3.2 billion with a service launch no sooner than 2030.
Copies of the DSEIR have been distributed to 36 libraries in the region, with briefings continuing for local leaders, stakeholder groups, and the Interagency Coordinating Group. In addition, a public meeting will be held on the DSEIR at 6:30 PM, Tuesday, March 6, at the Claire T. Carney Library, Grand Reading Room, at UMass Dartmouth. On Wednesday, February 7, the DSEIR is scheduled to be published in the issue of The Environmental Monitor.
Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments on the DSEIR by sending comments via letter, postcard, or email to the Secretary of Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, or by participating in a public meeting.
(MBTA - posted 2/06)
MBTA’s FMCB AWARDS ON-CALL COMMUTER RAIL RIGHT-OF-WAY CONSTRUCTION
Today the MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) awarded the On-Call Commuter Rail Right-of-Way Construction Services contract to SPS New England, Inc., in the amount of $17,040,846. This contract provides on-call construction services to support the urgent right-of-way repair and reconstruction needs of the MBTA across the commuter rail system, resulting in enhanced on-time performance and customer safety.
The On-Call Contract does not relieve Keolis Commuter Services of its contractual obligations under their operating agreement, but addresses the capital maintenance projects and capital improvement projects that fall outside of Keolis’s routine maintenance scope. Once the condition of an asset can no longer be addressed through routine maintenance, it becomes a capital maintenance project and is handled through an MBTA capital construction project.
The construction scope includes:
This project was advertised on December 6, 2017, with the bid opening on January 16, 2018. Seven bids were received with the lowest bidder as SPS New England, Inc., in the amount of $17,040,846.
(MBTA - posted 2/05)
- providing construction-related services on an on-call basis to support state of good repair/reconstruction needs of the MBTA
- right-of-way repairs and reconstruction work that include drainage, wall, concrete, and platform repairs
- work anticipated to be performed through the MBTA service area in Massachusetts
- work assigned on a project-by-project basis, as directed by the MBTA, utilizing bid items and contractor unit prices
PORT OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY SETS NEW CARGO VOLUME RECORD FOR 2017:
Completion of the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project last June helped drive cargo volumes in the Port of New York and New Jersey to new record heights in 2017 by shattering the existing annual cargo volume record, set in 2015, by 5.3 percent.
During 2017, the port handled 6,710,817 TEUs (a 20-foot-long cargo container that can easily be transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trucks and trains), a 5.3 percent increase over the 6,371,720 TEUs handled in 2015 when the previous annual record was established. The record volumes allowed the port to maintain its position as the third largest port in the United States with 15.4 percent market share and the busiest on the East Coast with a 32 percent market share. Even with the increase in cargo volume since 2015, the particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions created by port activities have gone down by more than 14 percent – equivalent to removing at least 104,000 passenger cars off the street per year – due to the port’s Clean Air Strategy environmental programs.
To view all of the 2017 port cargo data, click here.
The record cargo volumes will help build on the significant jobs and economic activity already supported by port activities. According to a recent study using 2016 data prepared by the New York Shipping Association, the port supports 400,000 jobs, a 35 percent increase over the 296,000 jobs reported four years ago. The port also is responsible for $25.7 billion in personal income and $64.8 billion in business income.
In addition to regional economic growth, perhaps the biggest driving force in achieving the new cargo volume record was the June 2017 completion of the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project. The project raised the clearance under the crossing from 151 feet to 215 feet, allowing ships as large as 18,000 TEUs to travel under it to port facilities in Newark, Elizabeth and Staten Island. Following the raising of the bridge, one of the port’s major shipping lines – CMA CGM – began a new service to the port using primarily 14,000 TEU vessels.
Since the project’s completion, the port has set new monthly records for cargo volume activity every month through the remainder of the year.
“The investment we made to raise the Bayonne Bridge is clearly paying dividends by driving up cargo volumes and significantly boosting the jobs and economic activity the port generates for the region,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Our goal moving forward is to continue to work with all port stakeholders to efficiently and effectively handle greater volumes of cargo destined for our port.”
“Our mission is to provide the infrastructure and the resources our port needs to remain a premier gateway for shippers, including the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, and shippers are taking notice and making decisions based on what we have achieved,” Port Department Director Molly Campbell said, “But for us to retain their business, we must continue to strive to do better and consistently look for ways to improve port performance.”
ExpressRail, the Port Authority’s ship-to-rail system serving New York and New Jersey marine terminals, also set a new record in 2017, handling 567,649 container lifts, a 5.1 percent increase over the previous record of 540,149 container lifts set in 2016. In 2017, ExpressRail accounted for 14.8 percent of all container lifts at the port. The Port Authority’s goal is for the ExpressRail system to account for 20 percent of container lifts by 2020. To achieve this goal, the agency has invested more than $600 million in its intermodal rail infrastructure – and the upcoming completion of the ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal rail facility, currently under construction, will allow for full on-dock rail capability servicing the GCT-Bayonne marine terminal in Port Jersey. The new ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal facility will be operational in December 2018.
The completion of the ExpressRail Port Jersey will add 250,000 lifts per year in rail capacity to the port, yielding a total port-wide capacity of 1,500,000 lifts per year. With each rail lift displacing the need for 1.5 truck trips, the ExpressRail system is a key component to reducing truck congestion and emissions at the port. At ExpressRail Port Jersey alone, emission reductions resulting from the switch from truck to rail transport, over the life of the intermodal facility, are expected to total 415 tons of nitrogen oxide and 108 tons of particulate matter. It also will eliminate 375,000 trucks from crowded highways annually and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 18,300 tons annually.
In addition to containerized cargo, the port also reported a 14.3 percent increase in vehicles imported into the port’s public berths – from 505,151 handled in 2016 to 577,223 handled in 2017. To attract new vehicle business to the port, the Port Authority has had a targeted incentive program in place since 2014 to attract new automobile manufacturers and provide incentives to existing ones to increase the port’s vehicle volumes.
The 2017 port cargo record was fueled by a 5.7 percent increase over 2015 in import TEUs, from 3,214,338 import loaded containers in 2015 to 3,396,469 import loaded containers in 2017.
In 2017, China remained the top import country serving the port, with 1,046,473 import TEUs. Following China is India with 210,811 import TEUs, and Germany with 197,363 import TEUs. The top import commodities are furniture, appliances and beverages.
There were 2,011 container vessel calls in 2017, down from 2,184 calls in 2016 and 2,251 in 2015. The fewer vessel calls illustrate that much of the containerized cargo coming into the port is arriving in larger more environmentally friendly ships, a trend the port expects will continue now that the Bayonne Bridge has been raised.
(The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - posted 2/05)
AMTRAK 91 DERAILS IN SOUTH CAROLINA:
Amtrak Train 91, the Silver Star, operating between New York and Miami, crashed head on with parked CSX freight Q211-01 at Cayce, South Carolina at approximately
2:35 a.m. today. A switch was left in the open position, diverting the
Amtrak train from the mainline track onto a siding. There, it collided with the freight train's locomotives head-on, resulting in
severe damage to the locomotives along with several railcars on both trains derailing.
There were 8 crew members and approximately 139 passengers on board the Silver Star while the CSX was unoccupied. Early reports are that two perished in the derailment
and over 100 were injuried. Approximately 5000 gallons of fuel leaked from the locomotives. More details as they become available.
PORT AUTHORITY TO BEGIN WORK ON SECOND PHASE OF REVIEW FOR CROSS HARBOR FREIGHT MOVEMENT PROGRAM:
The Port Authority announced today that it has awarded an agreement to a consultant for the second phase of an environmental review for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program. The review, expected to take up to three years, will perform a more detailed analysis of the environmental effects and potential mitigation measures for two preferred alternatives identified in the prior Tier 1 study to move freight across New York Harbor.
Under the $23.7 million agreement, Cross Harbor Partners, a joint venture of STV Incorporated/AKRF Inc., will undertake the Tier II Environmental Impact Statement, which will closely examine two preferred options – the construction of a cross harbor freight tunnel and the expansion of the Port Authority’s existing railcar float operation. The rail tunnel alternative calls for construction of a freight tunnel under the New York Harbor that would run approximately four miles from Jersey City, NJ to Brooklyn, NY. The railcar float alternative would greatly expand the existing carfloat system, currently operated by New York New Jersey Rail, LLC, a wholly owned entity of the Port Authority since 2008, and would include new transfer bridges, carfloats, locomotives and tracks.
The review, which will include extensive outreach to all stakeholders, including elected officials and the public, will provide the Port Authority and other regional agencies with cost and benefits of each alternative to help reduce roadway congestion attributed to goods movement across the New York/New Jersey Harbor.
“We need to explore potential solutions now to improve mobility and reduce the region’s reliance on trucks to move goods critical to regional economic growth,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “This initiative will take a close look at two alternatives that could help achieve that goal in the future.”
“With a projected 40 percent increase in freight movement by 2035, delays in goods movement will only worsen unless we begin to develop an optimum plan now that will provide the shipping and distribution industry with attractive alternatives to shipping by truck,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Our goal is to explore these alternatives and come up with cost-effective approaches to future freight movement.”
“New York City is the only major city in the world not directly connected to its country’s national freight rail network – and that is something we must address,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). “For too long, New York City and the entire metropolitan region has had an over-reliance on trucks – clogging our roadways, making consumer goods more expensive and raising the cost of doing business, harming our environment, endangering our health, and creating real safety and national security vulnerabilities. Without this key rail link, more than one billion tons of freight move through the greater New York region each year primarily by truck, with truck congestion adding an estimated $2.5 billion annually to the cost of delivering goods to consumers and businesses. Today, with the start of the Tier II EIS, which will engage in a deeper examination of a cross-harbor freight tunnel identified as necessary in Tier I, we are taking a major step forward to finally address the region’s serious and growing problems with inefficient goods movement.”
The Tier II study will help Port Authority leadership determine if one or both alternatives provide sufficient benefits to justify their costs. The recommended alternative or alternatives would require additional funding for the next phase of development, which entails preliminary engineering.(The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -
CONWAY SCENIC RAILROAD SOLD:
The Conway Scenic Railroad, located in North Conway, New Hampshire, has been sold to Conway Scenic Railroad to Profile Mountain Holdings Corp, led by President David Swirk.
Swirk was formely affiliated with the Massachusetts based Grafton & Upton Railroad. Former Conway Scenic Railroad owners Dot and Russ Seybold acquired the railroad in 1999.
NTSB LAUNCHES GO-TEAM TO INVESTIGATE YESTERDAY'S AMTRAK ACCIDENT:
The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a full go-team to investigate yesterday’s grade-crossing accident involving an Amtrak passenger train and a truck near Crozet, VA.
Senior highway safety investigator Pete Kotowski has been designated as the investigator-in-charge and will lead a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in human performance, highway factors, survival factors, vehicle factors, truck operations, train operations and grade crossing signals. The NTSB’s Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations and the Office of Research and Engineering are also sending investigators.
(NTSB - posted 2/01)
TRAIN CARRYING GOP LAWMAKERS HITS A GARBAGE TRUCK:
This morning an Amtrak charter train carry Republican members of Congress to an annual retreat at the Greenbrier Resort collided with
a garbage truck near Crozet, Virginia. The truck's driver died in the collision and heritage locomotive P42 145 suffered damage.
Passengers on board were shaken and a few suffered minor injuries. Passengers completed their travel to the Greenbrier Resort, in White Sulphur Springs, Wwest
Virginia, by bus. The collision is under investigation by local law enforcement.
(Randy Kotuby - posted 1/31)
WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 27, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 27, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 543,515 carloads and intermodal units, up 4 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending January 27 were 260,993 carloads, up 1.1 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 282,522 containers and trailers, up 6.9 percent compared to 2017.??
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 2,021 carloads, to 32,672; petroleum and petroleum products, up 1,356 carloads, to 11,506; and miscellaneous carloads, up 639 carloads, to 10,964. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included motor vehicles and parts, down 1,084 carloads, to 17,729; coal, down 588 carloads, to 86,586; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 265 carloads, to 15,960.
For the first four weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 952,248 carloads, down 3.9 percent from the same point last year; and 1,027,305 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first four weeks of 2018 was 1,979,553 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.6 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending January 27, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 361,535 carloads, up 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 368,373 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 729,908 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first four weeks of 2018 was 2,673,803 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.4 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 78,844 carloads for the week, down 1.3 percent, and 67,523 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first four weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 546,061 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.4 percent.?
Mexican railroads reported 21,698 carloads for the week, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,328 intermodal units, up 2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first four weeks of 2018 was 148,189 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 1/31)
GOVERNOR MURPHY NOMINATES KEVIN S. CORBETT TO LEAD NJ TRANSIT AS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy today announced the nomination of Kevin S. Corbett to serve as the Executive Director of NJ Transit, the beleaguered transportation agency relied upon by hundreds of thousands of New Jersey commuters. Governor Murphy is calling on NJ Transit’s board to take up the matter at its next meeting.
Corbett currently serves as Vice President of Cross Services at AECOM, one of the world’s largest transportation and infrastructure companies. At AECOM, Corbett has had an oversight role on critical projects including Amtrak’s Gateway Project, the first phase of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway project, work on New York Penn Station, and PATH restoration after Superstorm Sandy.
“We can no longer continue to accept the dismal business as usual at an agency that so many commuters throughout New Jersey depend on,” Governor Murphy said. “We cannot continue to wake up in the morning fearing reliability and safety on our commutes. I am confident that Kevin’s leadership can help turn NJ Transit into a transportation system that our commuters value and trust.”
Last week, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order mandating an audit of NJ Transit to determine inefficiencies and areas where the agency can improve. As Executive Director, Corbett will help implement these recommendations and rework the agency’s finances, leadership structure, customer experience, and safety measures.
“It is an honor to be nominated to lead NJ Transit, and I am excited to get to work and make the agency safer and more reliable for New Jersey residents,” Corbett said. “Our location is a tremendous asset, one that creates many opportunities for transportation. I look forward to starting the process of rebuilding NJ Transit so that we can reach our enormous untapped potential. I am excited to work with Governor Murphy on making his vision for NJ Transit a reality.”
Before joining AECOM, Corbett served as the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Empire State Development Corporation and Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development. In those roles, Corbett was responsible for New York State’s economic development programs and projects, including the redevelopment of Times Square, Moynihan Station, and the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park. After September 11th, 2001, Corbett oversaw the economic recovery of Lower Manhattan. Corbett currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Regional Plan Association as co-chair of its Transportation Committee. He also serves as the board president of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, on the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and as a chairman of The New York League of Conservation Voters.
Corbett was a fellow at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and serves as a Blue and Gold Officer for the U.S. Naval Academy. He and his wife Siobhan have three children and live in Mendham
(New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy - posted 1/30)
CSS TO LEASE FIVE MILES OF CN TRACK IN GARY, INDIANA:
Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad (CSS) will expand business opportunities at a strategic location in Gary, Ind., through a lease of five miles of track from CN rail.
The lease of track on Gary’s northeast side, effective Jan. 22, is designed to improve interchange between South Shore and CN, and provide improved shipping options for customers by offering a higher frequency of service.
“We see this as part of our longstanding commitment to customers by ensuring efficient interchange with all our Chicago-area connections,” said Eric T. Jakubowski, vice president and chief commercial officer for CSS owner Anacostia Rail Holdings. “Gary has long been a great place for us to do business and this lease will make it possible for us to do an even better job.”
(CSS - posted 1/30)
NEW YORK & ATLANTIC RAILWAY (NYA) STARTS A SLEEP APNEAR PROGRAM:
New York & Atlantic Railway (NYA) started an Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) program January 23, 2018. Nearly 40 NYA locomotive engineers and conductors in New York City and Long Island, New York will be screened for OSA and, if needed, will receive treatment under the support and care of the railway's medical team.
NYA President James Bonner said, "The detection and remediation of OSA will positively impact employee health and improve employee alertness for safety sensitive jobs." OSA is a sleep disorder that causes fragmented sleep that often results in sleepiness, fatigue, and is associated with potentially serious health issues.
NYA is the first short-line freight railroad in the United States to institute an Obstructive Sleep Apnea screening and treatment program, according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.
NYA's medical services and safety teams will be working with Rocky Mountain Sleep Disorders Center to institute this OSA program.
"The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen – Long Island General Committee of Adjustment, the union that represents NYA's engineers and conductors, has been supportive and helpful as NYA implements this valuable program," Bonner added.
(NYAR, Randk Kotuby - posted 1/29)
PORT CHESTER METRO-NORTH STATION GETS A LIFT:
The Village of Port Chester Metro-North Railroad Station is now accessible for all, thanks to a recently-completed capital project by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
On the Connecticut-bound side of the tracks, an elevator and redesigned stairwell provide a new means of access from Westchester Avenue directly to the platform. On the New York-bound side, a new ramp has been constructed adjacent to an existing staircase, which provides direct access to the train station parking lot from Westchester Avenue. Both of these improvements help the station to meet standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
“These improvements are a welcome and long-awaited addition to the train station that Port Chester residents, visitors and business-owners rely upon year-round to access all that Port Chester and the region has to offer” states current Port Chester Mayor Richard Falanka. “It is a great thing that all riders, regardless of age or ability, can now access and enjoy this important transportation hub just steps from Port Chester’s downtown central business district.”
These new amenities are a culmination of a decades-long partnering effort by the Village, local advocates, and Metro-North to make upgrades to the station focused on equity and ease of use.
“Metro-North is committed to making the railroad as accessible as possible to all of our customers,” said Cathy Rinaldi, Acting President of Metro-North. “Now customers who use such mobility aids as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes – not to mention parents with strollers, people carrying heavy bags and anyone in need of a lift – can be assured of traveling to and from the Port Chester station with greater ease.”
On Thursday, January 25th, the Village and Metro-North will host a ribbon-cutting on site to help celebrate the partnership and commemorate the grand opening of the new elevator and ramp. All those interested in attending this event should meet at the elevator on Westchester Avenue at 11:00 a.m. to hear from those who had a key role in making the project happen.
This event marks just one of many projects underway during the Village’s 150th anniversary of incorporation in 2018. As Mayor Falanka states, “It’s Port Chester’s time.” This is certainly a good start.
(DL - posted 1/26)
RENEWAL OF THE PERMANENT EXHIBITION IN THE EXPORAIL'S GRAND GALLERY:
Jean-Claude Poissant, MP for La Prairie, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced $210,000 in funding for Exporail, the rail transport museum in Saint-Constant. The funds allow for the renewal of the permanent exhibition of its Grand Gallery, whose inauguration is planned for 2019.
Awarded by the Government of Canada through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, this amount will enable the museum to revitalize its equipment and improve its digital museographical and audiovisual technology. The project will also help to increase awareness about the exhibition and the museum
(Canadian Heritage - posted 1/26)
DELAWARE-LACKAWANNA POCONO MOUNTAIN ROUTE UPDATE:
The Delaware-Lackawanna is not walking away from, abandoning, or going to let the trackage through the Water Gap become a rusted, weed-grown right-of-way. The railroad still has customers at Gravel Place; National Electrical Carbon Products and Royal Chemical, and to the east there is WestRock Paper in Delaware Water Gap, PA.
Service to these smaller-use customers will be provided with the highest standards of the "Pocono Mountain Route." This service will see smaller trains through the Gap at a minimum of once a week to service WestRock, using Slateford Jct. as the run-around.
The revered symbols PT98/PT97 have been “officially” retired; all Pocono Mountain Route trains will now be symboled PT75 round-trip to the mill, Bestway, or WestRock and onward through the Delaware Water Gap to runaround the train at Slateford.
The D-L still views the entire Pocono Main as a through route, and continues to work on development plans in the area.
(DL - posted 1/25)
MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT ACQUIRING STATE-OF-THE-ART, NEXT GENERATION SUBWAY CARS:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board voted today to approve the purchase of 535 state-of-the-art, next-generation R211 subway cars for use on the “B Division,” which are the lettered routes, as well as the Staten Island Railway. The funding for this project will be provided by the Federal Transit Administration. The MTA Board voted to award the contract totaling $1.4 billion to Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc. The contract includes options for up to 1,077 additional cars, for a total acquisition of up to 1,612 cars at a cost of $3.7 billion, pending future Board approval.
For the initial, base contract, Kawasaki will design and deliver 440 new closed-end cars for the B Division, 75 closed-end cars for Staten Island Railway, and 20 innovative open gangway cars as part of a pilot program to MTA New York City Transit. The R211 cars feature 58-inch wide door openings, which are eight inches wider than standard doors on existing cars. The expanded doors are designed to reduce delays and speed up train movement by speeding boarding and reducing the amount of time trains sit in stations. Cars delivered to the B Division will be compatible with an advanced signaling system known as Communications-Based Train Control, enabling New York City Transit to deliver more frequent and reliable service by operating trains more closely together.
“It is imperative that we provide a first-in-class subway car that can live up to the rigor and expectations of New Yorkers,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “As part of our commitment to modernize the subway system, we have expanded and accelerated this contract to provide more reliable, more comfortable train cars that are easier to board and exit and provide more useful real-time information to riders.”
Some of the R211 cars will feature an “open gangway” pilot program located at the ends of the cars. This open design allows riders to move freely between cars to reduce crowding and distribute passenger loads more evenly throughout the train. All of the cars also include digital displays that will provide real-time, location-specific information about service and stations, new grab rails including double-poles, and brighter and clearer lighting, signage, and safety graphics.
MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim said: “The R211s will be a welcome addition to New York City Transit’s next-generation fleet. As both the R160 and R188 subway cars produced by Kawasaki have proven to be some of the most reliable in their class, we look forward to working with Kawasaki on the production of these cars.”
NYC Transit President Andy Byford said: “Bold, aggressive initiatives like the Subway Action Plan and this acquisition of hundreds of new subway cars are critical in our multi-faceted approach to improving subway service. I’m excited about the delivery of these cars and all of the other improvements that are underway as we work to stabilize and modernize the system.”
In December 2017, New York City Transit presented prototypes of the new R211 designs at 34St – Hudson Yards to seek customer feedback, as well as introduce the future of the New York City subway to the public. MTA staff was on-hand and on social media as customers helped further refine the design.
Delivery of new cars for testing will begin in 2020. The base contract for the new R211 cars was approved after a competitive procurement process involving bidders from around the world, and includes the delivery of the 535 new cars, as well as spare parts, special tools, diagnostic test equipment, technical documentation, and training.
The cars will be built and tested in Kawasaki facilities in Yonkers, NY and Lincoln, NE. This is the first New York City Transit contract to stipulate that proposers must submit detailed plans for the creation and retention of U.S. jobs through the inclusion of a “U.S. Employment Plan.” Kawasaki, along with its subcontractors, has committed to provide approximately 470 U.S. jobs for the base award with a total estimated value of $125 million. If both options are exercised, the total potential value of U.S. jobs from this contract is estimated to be $270 million.
NY Jobs to Move America Deputy Director Linda Nguyen said: “JMA congratulates Governor Cuomo and MTA staff on leading the country with the most robust adoption of the U.S. Employment Plan program in the nation. We expect commitments to include a plan to create good manufacturing jobs and hiring U.S. workers.”
(MTA - posted 1/25)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS FOURTH-QUARTER AND FULL-YEAR 2017 RESULTS:
Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported fourth-quarter and 2017 financial results.
Net income for the quarter was $3,968 million and diluted earnings per share were $13.79. For the year, net income was $5,404 million and diluted earnings per share were $18.61. These results include effects of the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ("tax reform"), which added $3,482 million to net income in both periods and increased diluted earnings per share by $12.10 for the quarter and $12.00 for the year.
Absent the effects of tax reform, fourth-quarter 2017 adjusted net income was $486 million, and adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.69, compared with $416 million, and $1.42 per diluted share, during the same period of 2016. For the year, adjusted net income was $1,922 million versus $1,668 million in 2016. Adjusted diluted earnings per share were $6.61, an 18 percent increase over last year's record diluted earnings per share of $5.62.
"Norfolk Southern is open for growth, and we are optimistic as we head into 2018 that the current economic environment will provide an opportunity for continuing growth," said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO. "The hard work and dedication of our employees in executing our Strategic Plan are clearly evident as we continue to achieve record results and deliver on the commitments we made to our shareholders. We remain steadfast in our commitment to deliver on the goals in our Strategic Plan, of which positioning ourselves for growth is a key element. We are laser-focused on execution of our strategy and are confident that we can achieve our targets by 2020 or sooner."
For 2017, Norfolk Southern invested over $1.7 billion in capital - reinvesting in the maintenance of its rail infrastructure and supporting economic growth. These investments range from sidings that better support network fluidity, to terminal expansions that accommodate volume growth, to roadway infrastructure that supports regional competitiveness. The recently-completed Portageville Bridge is one example; funded through a public-private partnership, it will support economic growth and jobs across New York's Southern Tier region. Norfolk Southern also realized new business in 2017 from 75 industries it assisted in locating or expanding along its lines - representing a customer investment of over 1 billion dollars.
Looking forward in 2018 with respect to capital deployment, Norfolk Southern plans to invest $1.8 billion to maintain the safety of its rail network, enhance service, improve operational efficiency, and support growth. In addition, Norfolk Southern's board of directors approved an 18 percent increase in its quarterly dividend on the company's common stock, from $0.61 to $0.72 per share. The dividend is payable March 10, to shareholders of record on Feb. 2. Since its inception in 1982, Norfolk Southern has paid dividends on its common stock for 142 consecutive quarters.
- Railway operating revenues of $2.7 billion increased 7 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2016, as overall volumes were up 5 percent reflecting growth in all three major commodity categories of intermodal, coal and merchandise.
- Railway operating expenses decreased $74 million, or 4 percent, to $1.7 billion compared with the same period last year. The effects of tax reform decreased railway operating expenses $151 million, more than offsetting increases resulting from increased incentive compensation, higher fuel prices and the 5% growth in volume, which were offset in part by efficiency gains and higher property sales.
- Income from railway operations was $1,014 million. Excluding the $151 million benefit from tax reform, adjusted income from railway operations was $863 million, an increase of 13 percent year-over-year, and the adjusted railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 67.7 percent, a 170 basis point improvement over prior year.
(NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/24)
- Railway operating revenues of $10.6 billion increased 7 percent compared with 2016, as overall volumes were up 5 percent reflecting growth in the major commodity categories of coal and intermodal.
- Railway operating expenses of $7.0 billion increased $151 million, or 2 percent, compared with last year. Expenses related to higher diesel fuel prices, increased incentive compensation, higher inflationary costs and volume growth were offset in part by efficiency savings and the $151 million benefit from tax reform.
- Income from railway operations was $3,586 million. Excluding the tax reform benefit, adjusted income from railway operations was $3,435 million, an increase of 12 percent over the prior year, and the adjusted railway operating ratio was 67.4 percent, a 150 basis point improvement over the prior year's record.
CN TARGETING RECORD C$3.2 CAPITAL PROGRAM IN 2018:
CN announced its planned C$3.2 billion capital program will focus on key capacity projects to meet growing freight demand and continued investment in infrastructure maintenance to enhance safety and efficiency.
"CN is investing more than ever before in the safety, efficiency and resiliency of our network," said Luc Jobin, CN president and chief executive officer. "These record investments, a substantial portion of which will go to new capacity and growth projects, will improve our network fluidity, allowing us to deliver superior service to meet our customers' growing freight volumes."
For the third straight year, CN plans to invest approximately C$1.6 billion on track and railway infrastructure maintenance to support safe and efficient operations. The planned work includes the replacement of 2.1 million rail ties and more than 600 miles of rail, plus work on bridges and other general track maintenance.
Approximately C$400 million is expected to be spent on equipment, including the acquisition of new high horsepower locomotives. A further C$800 million is targeted towards initiatives to increase capacity and enable growth, such as track infrastructure expansion, investments in yards and in intermodal terminals; and on information technology to improve safety performance, operational efficiency and customer service.
More specifically, major capacity and equipment investments include:
The Company plans to invest approximately C$400 million in 2018 on the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) along 3,500 route miles of its U.S. network. CN plans to invest a total of US$1.4 billion on PTC capital expenditures by 2020.
"CN's growth continues to outpace the economy," Jobin said. "With our 2018 capital program and ongoing hiring, we are focused on meeting the needs of our customers. We have confidence in the North American economy and in our ability to help our customers grow their businesses."
(CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/24)
- Sixty new GE locomotives, the first deliveries from a three-year order of 200 new units
- Double track and siding extensions in the West Coast to Chicago corridors
- Intermodal equipment and infrastructure in Toronto, Memphis, Tenn., Joliet, Ill., and other terminals
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 20, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 20, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 508,239 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending January 20 were 241,258 carloads, down 7.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 266,981 containers and trailers, up 1.8 percent compared to 2017.
Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They were forest products, up 478 carloads, to 10,217; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 338 carloads, to 10,554. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 8,153 carloads, to 82,683; nonmetallic minerals, down 3,923 carloads, to 26,377; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2,750 carloads, to 14,560.
For the first three weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 691,255 carloads, down 5.7 percent from the same point last year; and 744,783 intermodal units, up 1.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first three weeks of 2018 was 1,436,038 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.2 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending January 20, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 339,190 carloads, down 6.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 350,744 intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 689,934 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first three weeks of 2018 was 1,943,895 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.7 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 76,447 carloads for the week, down 4.1 percent, and 65,369 intermodal units, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first three weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 399,694 carloads, containers and trailers, down 0.1 percent.?
Mexican railroads reported 21,485 carloads for the week, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,394 intermodal units, down 1.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first three weeks of 2018 was 108,163 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR- posted 1/24)
CSX REVIEWING 8000 MILES OF TRACK FOR SALE OR LEASE:
Trains.com is reporting that CSX is reviewing 8000 miles of track for sale or lease.
This consitutes about one-third of the 21,000 mile system.
CSX CEO Jim Foote is spearing this review . The idea is that if the
a line adds to shareholder value, then then it will kept. If not, it will be sold. The first four subdivisions were put out to bid last week. These lines include the Decatur and Danville Secondary Subdivisions in western Illinois and the Tallahassee and PA Subdivisions in the Florida Panhandle. CSX is communicating with its customers on these rail lines, as well as union representatives and employees,” CSX says.
One of the routes that CSX was planning to sell or lease was the former B&O mainline, from Greenwich, Ohio to Baltimore, Maryland.
CSX has subsequently removed the former B&O route. Routes that are being considered for sale or lease include:
The sale of the lines would allow CSX to concentrate capital dollars on improving those routes with high traffic density and that have the highest
(Trains.com - posted 1/23)
- The former Boston & Albany main and related branch lines in Massachusetts.
- The former Louisville & Nashville between Cincinnati and Atlanta.
- Most of the former Baltimore & Ohio main linking East St. Louis, Ill., and Cincinnati.
- Former Pere Marquette trackage in Michigan.
- CSX’s cross-border incursions into Canada and related U.S. trackage.
- The railroad’s hard-hit Appalachian coal network, including portions of the former Clinchfield.
- Large sections of the Florence Division in the Carolinas.
- The Dothan sub in Alabama and Georgia.
- The Auburndale sub in Florida.
- Branches and redundant trackage scattered around the system, including some in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana.
MICHIGAN RAIL LINE INTRASTRUCTURE ENHANCEMENTS LEAD TO IMPROVED AMTRAK TRAVEL:
Rail infrastructure improvements along the Chicago – Detroit/Pontiac Amtrak line will allow for safe, dependable, and faster travel along this vital passenger and freight corridor in Michigan. Passengers on the Amtrak Wolverine Service and Chicago – Port Huron Blue Water will get to their destinations in less time and with fewer delays. These new timetables are now in effect, with a new Amtrak schedule available online.
“Between Porter, Ind., and Dearborn, this rail corridor is now dispatched by Amtrak staff, which ensures the efficient movement of passenger trains,” said Tim Hoeffner, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Office of Rail director. “We hope this encourages people to consider the train for their next trip, especially with upcoming construction and high traffic volumes along the I-94 corridor.”
Maximum speeds on the line is 110 mph on the Amtrak-owned section between Porter and Kalamazoo, Mich. On the MDOT-owned portion, the maximum speeds are 79 mph, but they are expected to increase to 110 mph this year in certain sections once the testing of the Positive Train Control system is completed and when new locomotives are put into service.
MDOT purchased 135 miles of the rail corridor between Kalamazoo and Dearborn from Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in 2012. Thanks to $347 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funding, MDOT was able to acquire and make the following improvements to the line:
Outside of MDOT ownership, other improvements have been made that will benefit the efficient movement of both passenger and freight trains. A new bridge connection was installed in west Detroit allowing for a faster connection for trains bound for Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy, and Pontiac. Amtrak has made continual maintenance improvements to its infrastructure as well.
“At MDOT’s direction, Amtrak work crews have corrected years of deferred maintenance and have taken over dispatching,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president, State-Supported Services. “We have created the longest railroad segment outside the northeast that is being made ready for even more reliable and faster Amtrak service.”
Projects outside of Michigan also have benefits to Amtrak trains. In October 2014, the Englewood Flyover in south Chicago was placed in service, eliminating the at-grade crossing between the Metra Rock Island Line and NS’s Chicago Line, which is the primary Amtrak entrance into Chicago from the east. The Indiana Gateway (a partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration, Indiana Department of Transportation, NS, and Amtrak) has improved a major congestion point of trains between Porter and the Illinois border.
All together, these improvements demonstrate a long-term commitment to safe and faster movement of trains along this growing passenger rail corridor
(Amtrak - posted 1/23)
- Replaced worn railroad track and smoothed curves for higher speeds.
- Upgraded railroad crossings and signals for train and motorist safety.
- Upgraded the train signaling and communication system for efficient operations.
NJ GOVERNOR MURPHY SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER MANDATING AUDIT OF NJ TRANSIT:
Standing in the Summit Train Station on the Morris & Essex Lines of NJ Transit, Governor Phil Murphy today signed an executive order mandating a full-scale audit of the beleaguered mass transit agency, the first step at rebuilding customer trust in the system that carries hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans to and from work every day.
“I have made it clear that we will not accept business as usual at NJ Transit. Today, we begin the process of rebuilding the agency from the ground up,” Governor Murphy said. “The public deserves a true accounting for how this once-model agency has fallen so far, so fast — as do those of us in government, with the ultimate responsibility for this system, who have largely been kept in the dark. Commuters cannot be left waiting for answers. And, neither will I.”
The audit will include a review of NJ Transit’s finances, leadership structure, hiring process, and customer service. It will also examine the agency’s relationship with Amtrak and its implementation of Positive Train Control, a system designed to prevent collisions and derailments by automatically stopping trains before certain accidents can occur.
“New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, situated between two of the largest urban areas. At the very least, we have to be able to get mass transit right,” Governor Murphy said. "We need to get our transportation running smoothly and make sure that people can get around our state and get to and from work without worrying about a train derailment or delay. NJ Transit was once a world-class transportation agency, and I will not rest until it is world-class again. We must get it where it needs to be to ensure the economic success of our state.”
Governor Murphy’s Executive Order calls for the audit to be completed as expeditiously as possible.
The Morris & Essex Lines was heavily impacted by last year’s “Summer of Hell,” with commuters rerouted to Hoboken Station, disrupting riders and leading to longer commute times. In December 2017, NJ Transit reported that nearly 12 percent of rush-hour trains along the line were late.
(NJ Governor Phil Murphy, John Kilbride, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/22)
JENNIFER F. SCANLON ELECTED TO NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Jennifer F. Scanlon has been elected a director of Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) effective Jan. 22, Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires announced today.
Scanlon, 51, is president and chief executive officer of USG Corporation, an industry leading manufacturer of building products and innovative solutions. She has been appointed to the Compensation Committee and Finance and Risk Management Committee of the Norfolk Southern Board and will serve as an independent director.
Prior to being named CEO in 2016, Scanlon was president of the company’s international business; president of its L&W Supply Corporation, and chief information officer and chairman of the board for USG Boral Building Products. She led the company through some of its most significant strategic moves in recent history, including establishing the USG Boral Building Products joint venture and the divestiture of L&W Supply Corporation.
(NS - posted 1/22)
DELAWARE LACKAWANNA INTERCHANGE SHIFT:
Genesse Valley Transportation has announced that it is shifting all Delaware-Lackawanna/Norfolk Southern
from Portland, Pa. to Scranton, Pa effective immediately.
In Scranton, NS trains will come off the north leg of the wye at Bridge 60 and pull towards Ridge Row to drop interchange cars.
With the new interchange location, the DL's Pocono Main from Gravel Place (East Stroudsburg) to Portland, Pa. will likely see very
little train traffic.
(Steamtown Forum, Rick Glosser - posted 1/19)
CP REPORTS RECORD FOURTH-QUARTER AND RECORD FULL YEAR RESULTS:
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited today announced its best ever fourth-quarter, with revenues up 5 percent to $1.71 billion and an operating ratio of 56.1 percent.
Fourth-quarter diluted earnings per share ("EPS") increased 159 percent to $6.77 from $2.61, which includes an income tax recovery of $527 million, primarily as a result of U.S. tax reform net of Canadian provincial tax rate increases. Adjusted diluted EPS rose 6 percent to a new quarterly record of $3.22 from $3.04.
FOURTH-QUARTER 2017 RESULTS
"The fourth quarter was a record by almost every measure and should be celebrated by the men and women in the CP family who work hard every day to deliver for our customers and shareholders," said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. "2017 was a positive year where we continued to build the foundation for sustainable long-term growth by enhancing our service offering, strengthening our team of professional railroaders, and furthering strategic partnerships with customers."
A disciplined growth strategy combined with the fundamentals of precision railroading also produced full-year diluted EPS of $16.44, up 55 percent from $10.63 and full-year adjusted diluted EPS of $11.39, an increase of 11 percent from $10.29. The full-year reported operating ratio was 57.4 percent and adjusted operating ratio was a record 58.2 percent.
FULL-YEAR 2017 RESULTS
- Revenues up 5 percent to $1.71 billion from $1.64 billion
- Operating ratio improved by 10 basis points to 56.1 percent
- Adjusted diluted EPS rose 6 percent to $3.22 from $3.04
CP's personal injury rate improved 1 percent and its FRA accident frequency improved 12 percent, making 2017 the 12th consecutive year CP has led the industry with the lowest FRA-reportable train accident frequency.
"Over the course of 2017 we built momentum thanks to our strategic approach to growth combined with our continued focus on operational excellence," Creel said. "That momentum has us well positioned to start 2018 and we look forward to delivering another year of record results in a safe and disciplined manner."
(Randy Kotuby, CP - posted 1/18)
- Revenues increased 5 percent to $6.55 billion from $6.23 billion
- Adjusted operating ratio improved by 40 basis-points to a record 58.2 percent from 58.6 percent
- Adjusted diluted EPS rose 11 percent to $11.39 from $10.29
CSX REPORTS FOURTH-QUARTER AND FULL YEAR RESULTS:
CSX Corporation announced fourth quarter 2017 net earnings of $4.1 billion, or $4.62 per share, versus
$458 million, or $0.49 per share in the same period last year. Fourth quarter 2017 net earnings included a $3.6 billion net tax reform benefit resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and a $10 million net restructuring charge. Excluding these two items, fourth quarter 2017 adjusted net earnings were $573 million, or $0.64 per share.
“CSX’s performance continued to strengthen in the fourth quarter, building upon the scheduled railroading model that was instituted by Hunter Harrison” said James M. Foote, president and chief executive officer. “I’m excited about the progress we are making and am confident we have the right team in place to achieve our goal of becoming the best railroad in North America.”
Revenue for the fourth quarter decreased $174 million, or six percent, when compared to the previous year, primarily due to the $178 million impact of an extra fiscal week in 2016 that resulted from the company’s 52/53 fiscal reporting calendar in 2016.
Expenses for the fourth quarter were down $291 million, or 14 percent, when compared to the fourth quarter in the previous year, which included $116 million in additional costs related to the extra week in 2016. Operating income in the fourth quarter of 2017 was
CSX had full-year 2017 earnings per share of $5.99, operating income of $3.7 billion and an operating ratio of 67.9 percent. Adjusted for the impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the company’s restructuring charge, adjusted earnings per share were $2.30, adjusted operating income was $3.9 billion and adjusted operating ratio was 66.3 percent for full-year 2017.
“CSX’s team of dedicated railroaders remains focused on creating value for our customers and our shareholders through operational excellence and the continued execution of our new operating plan,” said Foote. “We look forward to improving the quality of service for our customers and growing our business.”
(CSX - posted 1/18)
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 13, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 13, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 511,937 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending January 13 were 241,351 carloads, down 4.1 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 270,586 containers and trailers, up 5 percent compared to 2017.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,668 carloads, to 30,530; chemicals, up 2,028 carloads, to 31,879; and forest products, up 244 carloads, to 9,748. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 8,992 carloads, to 76,001; grain, down 2,444 carloads, to 21,957; and metallic ores and metals, down 1,443 carloads, to 20,518.
For the first two weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 449,997 carloads, down 4.6 percent from the same point last year; and 477,802 intermodal units, up 1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first two weeks of 2018 was 927,799 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.8 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending January 13, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 337,232 carloads, down 3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 352,867 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 690,099 carloads and intermodal units, up 1 percent. North American rail volume for the first two weeks of 2018 was 1,253,961 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 75,043 carloads for the week, down 0.8 percent, and 63,495 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first two weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 257,878 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.4 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 20,838 carloads for the week, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,786 intermodal units, up 6.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first two weeks of 2018 was 68,284 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.4 percent from the same point last year.
- posted 1/17)
VIA RAIL SETS RECORD FOR RIDERSHIP OVER THE HOLIDAY SEASON:
As harsh winter conditions swept across the country, many thousands of Canadians chose VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) for their travel during the holiday season. From December 18 to January 7, trains from coast to coast carried 308,000 passengers — 10% more than in 2016-2017. The busiest day, Friday, December 22, saw VIA Rail trains transporting 20,700 passengers to their destinations.
“Our operations have been strained in recent weeks by cold spells and extreme winter storms. Over this busy season, we have doubled our efforts to limit the impact, provide good service and bring our passengers to their destinations safely. I thank our clients for their understanding and I want to acknowledge the dedication and professionalism of our front-line employees and our maintenance centers,”said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail.
In the Québec City-Windsor corridor, over 291,500 passengers travelled on the trains serving communities in and between Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto, London, Windsor, Sarnia and Niagara Falls. Toronto-Ottawa was the most popular route: 35,800 travelled between these two cities over the period. Toronto’s Union Station, a transit point for 180,000 travellers was especially busy during the holidays. Respectively, Montreal and Ottawa saw 92,000 and 78,000 passengers pass through their stations to be reunited with family and friends.
On the long distance trains, most of the passengers travelled to Halifax, Moncton and Vancouver. The Ocean service, which operates between Montréal and Halifax, welcomed almost 7,700 passengers. Six additional departures were offered over the holidays, giving more people the opportunity to travel by train to celebrate with their loved ones. Also, the Régie intermunicipale de transport Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine (RÉGÎM) offered a shuttle service connecting Gaspé and the VIA Rail station in Campbellton, allowing some 200 passengers on the Ocean train to make transfers toward municipalities on the south coast of the peninsula, between Nouvelle (Québec) and Gaspé. Meanwhile, the Canadian, which connects Toronto to Vancouver, saw over 4,600 passengers onboard.
(VIA Rail Canada
- posted 1/16)
CSX INVESTIGATION INITIATED BY FORMER LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL:
Former Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles C. Foti, Jr., Esq., a partner at the law firm of Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC ("KSF"), announces that KSF has commenced an investigation into CSX Corporation (NasdaqGS: CSX).
On March 7, 2017, the Company announced the hiring of Chief Executive Officer, Hunter Harrison, a 73-year-old railroad executive, following a campaign by activist investor Mantle Ridge. Harrison's compensation for the four year contract included $84 million in reimbursement for pay and benefits forfeited from his prior position, payment of a tax indemnity potentially amounting to as much as $23 million, and tens of millions of dollars in salary and incentive compensation. Notably, Harrison was hired despite refusing the Company's request for an independent doctor to review his medical records. During 2017, widespread problems reportedly plagued the Company including service disruptions, decreases in operational performance and the exit of several executives. On December 15, 2017, the Company announced that Harrison had died due to "severe complications from a recent illness." The circumstances have raised questions in the finance sector regarding whether the Company's executives had prior undisclosed knowledge of Harrison's health condition or failed to exercise due diligence in the hiring process.
KSF's investigation focuses on whether CSX's officers and/or directors breached their fiduciary duties to CSX shareholders or otherwise violated state or federal laws
(KSF - posted 1/15)
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES RAIL LAYING FOR 13 MILE DOUBLE TRACK PROJECT COMPLETED THIS MONTH:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Long Island Rail Road Double Track has reached a major milestone and the final five miles of rail being laid this month. The project utilizes Design-Build construction and a specialized New Track Construction machine that lays rail more than 10 times faster than the MTA has ever done before, saving more than $7 million in construction costs and allowing for an expected project completion of August 2018 - 16 months ahead of schedule. Once complete, the Double Track, extending from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma, will dramatically reduce delays on the LIRR and enable more off-peak service in both directions by adding nearly 13 miles of parallel track.
While touring the Double Track, Governor Cuomo also announced 24 LIRR projects totaling $1 billion - including the $121 million Hicksville Station Transformation and the new Wyandanch Station - will be completed in 2018. Twenty-one additional LIRR projects will break ground this year, including the $2 billion LIRR Expansion Project that will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville. Together, these projects significantly advance the Governor's $6.6 billion transformation and modernization of the Long Island commuter rail and $100 billion Infrastructure and Development Plan for New York.
"For decades, leaders have talked about adding a second track to the Ronkonkoma Branch and today we are moving a major step closer to getting it done," Governor Cuomo said. "By pairing design-build contracting with the use of innovative track-laying equipment, we are building a more robust infrastructure faster and at less expense to New Yorkers. This project, along with the 23 other commuter line projects we will complete this year, will ensure LIRR remains the backbone of the region's economy."
The $387.2 million Double Track project, which is bringing a second track to single-track territory, has provided hundreds of construction jobs and, upon completion, will improve service and reliability on the LIRR's Ronkonkoma Branch, while spurring economic activity, and improving LIRR service to Long Island MacArthur Airport. Over the past 25 years, ridership on the Ronkonkoma Branch has doubled - growing in popularity since the line was electrified in 1988.
With just one track along most of the 18-mile route between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the LIRR can operate only a limited number of trains and lacks operational flexibility in the event of a disruption. If one train becomes disabled, all other trains - coming from both east and west - have no way around the problem.
The new Double Track will enable the LIRR to provide more frequent off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch in both directions, with off-peak service going from one train every hour to one train every 30 minutes in both directions. The project will reduce delays associated with service disruptions for the 48,000 weekday riders on the Ronkonkoma Line by giving the railroad flexibility to go around obstacles that it cannot currently in single-track territory.
The project has taken place over two phases. Phase One used the New Track Construction machine to lay the first 3.5 miles of new track between Central Islip and Ronkonkoma, and was completed in August 2016. Phase Two includes laying the rest of the track between Farmingdale and Central Islip. Over the next several months, crews will continue construction that includes stone ballast, tamping, surfacing, and installation of the third rail and new signal system.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Long Island Rail Road Double Track has reached a major milestone and the final five miles of rail being laid this month. The project utilizes Design-Build construction and a specialized New Track Construction machine that lays rail more than 10 times faster than the MTA has ever done before, saving more than $7 million in construction costs and allowing for an expected project completion of August 2018 - 16 months ahead of schedule. Once complete, the Double Track, extending from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma, will dramatically reduce delays on the LIRR and enable more off-peak service in both directions by adding nearly 13 miles of parallel track.
While touring the Double Track, Governor Cuomo also announced 24 LIRR projects totaling $1 billion - including the $121 million Hicksville Station Transformation and the new Wyandanch Station - will be completed in 2018. Twenty-one additional LIRR projects will break ground this year, including the $2 billion LIRR Expansion Project that will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville. Together, these projects significantly advance the Governor's $6.6 billion transformation and modernization of the Long Island commuter rail and $100 billion Infrastructure and Development Plan for New York.
"For decades, leaders have talked about adding a second track to the Ronkonkoma Branch and today we are moving a major step closer to getting it done," Governor Cuomo said. "By pairing design-build contracting with the use of innovative track-laying equipment, we are building a more robust infrastructure faster and at less expense to New Yorkers. This project, along with the 23 other commuter line projects we will complete this year, will ensure LIRR remains the backbone of the region's economy."
The Double Track project marks the MTA's first-ever use of the New Track Construction machine, which is capable of laying one mile of track per day - more than ten times faster than the 500 feet of track per day that the MTA manually laid previously. By speeding up this process, the MTA is significantly improving productivity, increasing safety and reducing the potential of construction disruption to local communities. To see the New Track Construction machine in action,
The machine is pulled from the front end by a bulldozer along the route of the new track. It automatically handles the flow of materials, negating the use of overhead cranes for track construction. The machine's ability to bring in supplies by rail negates the need for trucking supplies in. The MTA plans to use the machine in future projects in response to the Governor's challenge to increase efficiency in its projects.
(MTA - posted 1/12)
NORFOLK SOUTHERN FACILITATED OVER $1 BILLION IN INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ALONG RAIL LINES IN 2017:
Norfolk Southern assisted 75 industries in locating or expanding their business operations along its rail lines in 2017.
The 54 new and 21 expanded industries across 17 states represent an investment of $1.1 billion by Norfolk Southern customers. This economic development is expected to create nearly 2,000 new customer jobs in the railroad's service area and generate over 147,000 carloads of new rail traffic annually.
"The strong industrial development activity in 2017 is an indication of renewed confidence on the part of industry and consumers, as well as continued demand for freight rail service," said Jason Reiner, assistant vice president industrial development. "The results include a mix of manufacturing, energy, and foreign-trade related business, and we believe we have an encouraging pipeline for growth entering the new year."
Norfolk Southern works with state and local economic development authorities on projects involving site location and development of infrastructure to connect customers to its rail system. Norfolk Southern provides free and confidential facility location services, including industrial park planning, site layout, track design, and supply-chain analysis. During the past 10 years, NS' Industrial Development Department has participated in the location or expansion of 922 facilities representing private investment of over $60 billion and creating nearly 41,000 direct new customer jobs in territory the railroad serves.
(Randy Kotuby, Alex Mayes, NS - posted 1/11)
LOCAL RAILROAD SMASHES RECORDS:
Reading & Northern Railroad (R&N) smashed through the 30,000 freight cars moved benchmark on its way to the most successful year in its history.
By the end of 2017 R&N had handled 31,175 carloads an increase in carloadings and revenue of close to 15 percent over 2016 and almost 50 percent over the last five years! This unprecedented growth came across all of the many commodity lanes handled by R&N.
Its anthracite coal business was up over 40 percent! Once again R&N is "The Road of Anthracite". This explosive growth was fueled by a late-year announcement of a major sale of Pennsylvania anthracite to the Ukraine, replacing Russian coal. Following a July announcement of the deal at the White House by Trump Administration officials, R&N was told to prepare to move over 300,000 tons of anthracite by year-end. R&N stepped up and managed to provide all the cars needed for the business and served as many as eight different origins as the entire anthracite community pulled together to fill this huge order. We are hopeful that this business will continue in 2018.
The other big development in the anthracite business was the fulfillment of seven years of work to connect Hazleton Shaft and its new state-of-the art coal dryer to our railroad. That project was finally completed this summer and the process of shifting over 100,000 tons of dried coal delivered by truck over to rail began. By year end R&N and its customer Hiller Hazleton had shifted 40,000 tons to rail for delivery to a Midwestern steel mill. To accomplish this R&N purchased another 121 covered hopper cars and a brand new conveyor to assist with the unloading at a transfer station in Indiana. We expect to convert more of this truck traffic to rail in 2018.
Throughout the railroad there were other successes. Past industrial development projects reached fruition adding hundreds of new cars of business. R&N's transload facilities and warehouse found new customers and added more cars to our business. R&N's Forest Products stayed strong and handled over 10,000 carloads in 2017.
In order to handle this growth in business R&N had to purchase more freight cars, purchase more locomotives, add more employees, open more facilities and invest more in our track and signal systems. At year end R&N had more employees, more track, more locomotives, more freight cars, more facilities and more customers than at any point in its history.
2017 was the culmination of over 25 years of investment and risk-taking for R&N's CEO/Owner Andy Muller, Jr. Muller said, "It is never my intention to rest on our success and to pocket our profits. My goal is to build the best railroad in the nation. And to do that we have to constantly invest in the railroad. My investment decision might not make sense to outsiders but the proof of my strategy is apparent to anyone looking at our record of constant growth and success."
R&N has a two-pronged formula for ongoing success. It takes care of its employees with great pay, excellent benefits and profit sharing. The result is a 98% retention rate. And R&N takes care of its customers. As Wayne Michel R&N's President says, "Our goal is to provide our
customers with service superior to any railroad or trucker. We offer guaranteed on-time delivery and meet it 99 percent of the time. We provide special service to customers who are in need of an expedited delivery. We have the best customer service and marketing team in the industry. And we keep our prices competitive."
The future looks very bright for R&N as it has over twenty active industrial development projects in various stages of development. Growth is built into the R&N DNA. As Muller said, “I expect our railroad to grow. I expect our superior service will help our customers grow and as they grow we will benefit. I expect our reputation to encourage more businesses to locate along our lines. We will always take care of our customers and our employees. That is the cornerstone of our success.” said Muller.
Reading & Northern Railroad, with its corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, is a privately held railroad company serving over 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has expanded its operations over the last 20+ years and has grown into one of the premier railroads in Pennsylvania. Reading and Northern operates both freight services and steam and diesel powered excursion passenger services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, owns almost 1,200 freight cars, and employs over 200 dedicated employees.
- Wayne Michel; President of RBMN (Alex Mayes, R&N - posted 1/10)
READING OUTER STATION HERALDS RECORD-BREAKING RIDERSHIP:
Another successful year in the books and for Port Clinton-based Reading & Northern Railroad it is the record books.
Almost 120,000 people rode on the Reading and Northern and Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway passenger rail offerings in 2017. This is approximately a 15% increase from last year’s record-breaking year when Reading & Northern broke the 100,000 passenger mark for the second time running.
Much of this growth was created by the opening of the brand new Reading Outer Station in Muhlenberg Township north of Reading, PA. The grounds includes a Victorian-era switch tender’s tower complete with clean restrooms, and overhung steps from the expanded parking lot to the newly created passenger loading platform. Also, on site is a new electronic information sign next to a steam locomotive water tower.
Completed in 2017 this new facility served as a gateway to the Reading & Northern passenger offerings. Long active in providing passenger excursion services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe, Reading & Northern expanded into Berks County with the Reading Outer Station.
From Memorial Day through November, Reading & Northern used its Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) to take passengers for a comfortable ride along its mainline route from Reading Outer Station. The RDC consist has sliding-windows, a snack counter, and 132 seats making it a convenient and comfortable ride for our guests. It was no surprise that people clamored to take these trains and consequently every train was sold out during this historical first endeavor in 2017!
In October, Reading & Northern shifted the starting location for its famous Fall Foliage specials from Port Clinton to Reading Outer Station. The resulting change brought hundreds of new visitors from Berks, Lebanon, and Lancaster Counties. As a result, extra trains were added and almost 6,000 visitors rode these trains. Approximately 1,200 more people requested tickets for this popular excursion and had to be turned away.
Reading Outer Station continued to break records this winter as over 3,500 people, mostly children, rode on Reading & Northern’s famous Santa Trains. Tunkhannock, Schuylkill Haven, Minersville, Tamaqua, and Jim Thorpe also saw Santa Trains running in order to bring joy to thousands.
In Jim Thorpe, our successful Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway operation including the Hometown
High Bridge trains and Bike Trains handling nearly 100,000 people in 2017- a 20% growth in ridership.
The opening of Reading Outer Station launched another chapter in the
history of Reading & Northern’s passenger operation. 2018 will offer more rides and new equipment
so we invite all of our friends to follow developments on our websites
(Alex Mayes, R&N - posted 1/10)
NEW BOOK FROM RAILPACE! THE DELAWARE-LACKAWANNA RAILROAD:
Join us as the “Pocono Mountain Route” celebrates its 25th anniversary during 2018! More than just a picture book, this is the story of the formation of the regional railroad serving the Poconos today, with a look at its predecessors, including the D&H and Erie-Lackawanna, and the brief tenure of the Lackawanna Valley, Lackawanna Railway, and Pocono?Northeast railroads. Learn about the formation of the Lackawanna County Rail?Authority, which saved 95 miles of trackage from destruction by Conrail, and which together with the Monroe County Rail Authority saved the historic Pocono Main Line. Later, as the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Rail?Authority, the agency invested heavily in upgrading the former D&H, Erie-Lackawanna and Laurel Line trackage.
Operator Delaware-Lackawanna, renowned for its fleet of well-maintained Alco diesels, today operates from Scranton to Carbondale, to Minooka, and
through the Delaware Water Gap to Slateford and Portland,
serving the northeastern corner of the Keystone State. Included are all of the special
events, such as the Alcorama–the 100th anniversary celebration of Alco–in 1993.
Also featured are the many tourist operators, including Steamtown Foundation, the Pocono?Mountain?Railway,
Steamtown NPS, and the Erie-Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society, and
unique events such as the 1996 Conrail coal detour,
NS runthrough freights, speeder trips, and more! Railfans flock to the
D-L year round, and this publication includes the work of over a dozen photographers.
Enjoy a tour of the DL’s compact shop at South Scranton and a visit with the Alco Doctor,
Don Colangelo, who, with his skilled team of workers, keeps an eclectic fleet of Schenectady
products–from RS3s to M636s–running smoothly.
The Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad includes a fully annotated roster of DL/GVT locomotives.
All color, the 112-page perfectbound book, sheetfed press-printed by GRIT Commercial Printing on high-quality 80# gloss paper stock, will be available in early March 2018 for $34.95. And you can save $5.00 by pre-ordering until February 28, for just $29.95, plus $6.00 shipping
Special pre-publication price: $29.95 perfectbound (Softcover)pre-pub sale effective through February 28, 2018 add $6.00 per order (total) for shipping N ew Jersey delivery addresses add 7% sales tax. Books will ship march 5 Regular price $34.95 plus $6 shipping, effective march 1 limited availability Hardcover edition $54.95 available mid-march 2018
Order Online now from the Railpace e-Store
Or call (570) 252-4302 by mail:?Railpace Company, INC, Post Office Box 229, Greentown, PA 18426 Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, checks, m.O.s email: email@example.com made in U.S.a.
RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 6, 2018:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 6, 2018.
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 415,862 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending January 6 were 208,646 carloads, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 207,216 containers and trailers, down 3.9 percent compared to 2017. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first week of 2018 was 415,862 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 4.6 percent compared to last year.?
One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. It was petroleum and petroleum products, up 741 carloads, to 9,640. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 4,554 carloads, to 69,973; nonmetallic minerals, down 2,159 carloads, to 21,872; and grain, down 1,924 carloads, to 19,638.
North American rail volume for the week ending January 6, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 290,767 carloads, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 273,095 intermodal units, down 2.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 563,862 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first week of 2018 was 563,862 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.5 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 66,871 carloads for the week, down 4.5 percent, and 52,469 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first week of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 119,340 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.4 percent.?
Mexican railroads reported 15,250 carloads for the week, up 7.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,410 intermodal units, up 0.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first week of 2018 was 28,660 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 4.4 percent from the same point last year.
(AAR - posted 1/10)
AMTRAK NAMES KEN HYLANDER CHIEF SAFETY OFFICER:
Amtrak has named Ken Hylander Executive Vice President and Chief Safety Officer. Hylander most recently served as Chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation and previously served as the Chief Safety Officer at Delta Air Lines. He will report directly to President and CEO Richard Anderson and be responsible for implementing a proven Safety Management System (SMS) at Amtrak.
“We are improving safety at Amtrak. Keeping our customers and employees safe is our most important responsibility and a high quality Safety Management System is a requirement for Amtrak,” said Anderson. “Ken is a recognized leader in the implementation and operation of SMS, and his experience will be instrumental in helping build our safety culture.”
SMS is a proactive risk management system which builds on predictive safety management methods. SMS has been a cornerstone of improving safety in many industries, including aviation, health care and energy. Recently, the NTSB recommended that Amtrak implement a SMS Program. Amtrak endorses this NTSB recommendation.
Hylander has more than three decades of experience in the aviation industry. He retired as a senior vice president from Delta Air Lines in 2014, where he successfully oversaw the SMS implementation at Delta and managed the occupational, operating safety, security, quality and environmental compliance programs.
He currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Flight Safety Foundation and is an independent member of the Board of Directors of Monroe Energy in Trainer, Pennsylvania, an oil refinery subsidiary of Delta Air Lines.
Hylander was Northwest Airlines’ Chief Safety Officer prior to the airline’s merger with Delta. Before joining Northwest in 1997 as the Vice President of Quality, Reliability and Engineering, Hylander spent nearly 17 years at United Airlines where he held a variety of engineering, quality assurance, and operations management positions.
(Amtrak - posted 1/09)
SEPTA TOKEN SALES PHASE-OUT TO BEGIN MONDAY, JANUARY 22:
SEPTA would like to remind customers that token sales at cashiers' booths and vending machines at Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line stations will be phased out starting later this month. The full schedule is now available online at www.septa.org, and is included with this press release.
The phase-out of sales at cashiers' booths will begin Monday, Jan. 22 and continue through the first week of February. Then, starting Monday, Feb. 12 and continuing through the week of Feb. 28, all remaining vending machines will be removed.
In March, SEPTA will begin phasing out token sales at the remaining Authority-owned locations, including major sales offices and Regional Rail stations. A full schedule for these locations will be announced in the coming weeks. Token sales at over 200 third-party retailers will continue until further notice. Please note that SEPTA will also continue to accept tokens for fare payment.
The phase-out of token sales represents the next major step forward for the SEPTA Key fare modernization project. Customers who still use tokens and paper transfers are urged to make the switch now to a SEPTA Key Card, which are currently free with a $10 minimum Travel Wallet load. The Travel Wallet feature allows customers to add value to a SEPTA Key Card for tap-and-go travel on all Transit modes, including buses, city and suburban trolleys, trackless trolleys, the Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street-Line/Broad-Ridge Spur and the Norristown High Speed Line. Customers who currently use tokens, paper transfers or pay with cash can transition to the Key and leave behind the days of worrying about having exact change or pre-purchasing tokens.
(SEPTA - posted 1/08)
CHICAGO'S METRA TO BUY LOCOMOTIVES:
Chicago's Metra has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to begin to replace its aging fleet of engines with new or remanufactured locomotives.
The locomotive RFP, which was issued last week, calls for a base order of at least 12 new or 15 remanufactured locomotives with options for up to 30 additional new locomotives or 27 additional remanufactured locomotives, for a total of up to 42 new or remanufactured locomotives. Metra is asking for proposals for both new and remanufactured engines because it wants to weigh the costs/benefits of both options.
Metra currently has about $125 million programmed for locomotive purchases over the next five years. The Metra Board of Directors has asked staff to consider financing alternatives, such as leasing, to maximize the efficient use of available capital resources.
Metra’s 2014 modernization plan called for the purchase of 367 railcars and 52 locomotives. That 10-year plan, however, counted on Metra receiving $1.3 billion in new funding, most likely from a new state bond program. That anticipated new funding did not come through, and until and unless it does, Metra is attempting to acquire as many cars and engines as possible with existing funding.
That existing funding, unfortunately, falls far short of Metra’s needs. The RTA estimates Metra needs to spend $1.2 billion a year for 10 years to achieve and maintain a state of good repair on its system, including buying new cars and engines but also replacing and upgrading its bridges, stations and other infrastructure. This year, Metra has one-sixth of that amount available.
“We are trying to do the best we can with available resources,” said Metra CEO/ Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “Clearly, however, we need more capital dollars to continue to invest in our system and upgrade our assets.”
Metra expects to award the contract for locomotives later in 2018, with delivery of the first locomotive in 2020. The new or remanufactured locomotives will allow Metra to begin to replace outdated diesel locomotives with modern, cleaner-burning engines, significantly improving air quality.
Metra issued an RFP for at least 25 new railcars in April 2017, and is currently evaluating responses, with a goal of approving a contract later this year. The scheduled delivery of the first cars will be part of the negotiations and dependent upon the manufacturer’s capacity to build. The last time Metra received new railcars for lines other than the Metra Electric was in 2006.
Metra has identified modernization of rolling stock as one of its highest capital priorities due to the age of its fleet (average age of 30 years) and the fact that the condition of cars and locomotives is so essential to providing high-quality, reliable and comfortable service.
(Metra - posted 1/05)
MBTA COMMUTER RAIL TO OPERATE A REGULAR SCHEDULE FRIDAY:
Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the MBTA’s commuter rail operating partner, announced today that service will return to a Regular Schedule for Friday. Today’s storm is expected to drop 12 inches of snow when it subsides around midnight this evening.
“When the storm passes, extreme cold temperatures are expected to follow,” said David Scorey, CEO and General Manager, Keolis. “Passengers are encouraged to dress in layers to stay warm and use caution when boarding trains. Our Keolis and MBTA teams will continue to work through the night clearing platforms, applying a sand-salt mix and preparing the fleet for service to help make travel Friday as safe and easy as possible.”
Due to the heavy snowfall that ends late this evening and extreme temperatures expected Friday, minor delays are possible as clean-up and other snow operations finish. Passengers are encouraged to check schedules before traveling. Keolis will provide updates through Twitter at @MBTA_CR, MBTA.com, station signage and onboard announcements. Passengers can also sign up for T-Alerts at MBTA.com.
(Justin Thompson - posted 1/04)
19th ANNUAL CP HOLIDAY TRAIN CONCLUDES ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL TOUR:
The 19th annual Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train has completed another successful tour across North America, raising more than just spirits this holiday season. While final numbers are still being calculated, more than C$1.5 million and 300,000 pounds of food have been raised for local food banks and food shelves.
The Holiday Train has now raised more than $14.5 million and 4.3 million pounds of food since its inaugural journey back in 1999.
"The momentum we see in the Holiday Train from year-to-year reinforces the good that we, and our partners at the food banks, are doing across North America," said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. "Connecting with communities has been a theme for the CP family this year as we celebrate Canada 150 and what a way to end 2017, with more than 425,000 people across our network enjoying the magic of the CP Holiday Train."
The 2017 CP Holiday Train was proud to feature an all Canadian musical line-up with multiple Canadian Country Music Award and Juno Award winners. The Canadian train featured Colin James, Emma-Lee and Odds until Calgary, where Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Band jumped on to finish the tour to the west coast. On board the U.S. train, Kelly Prescott partnered with Jim and Devin Cuddy between Montreal and Windsor, Ont., and was joined by Dallas Smith and Terri Clark through the U.S. Midwest and Great Plains. Jonathan Roy anchored the Quebec shows.
New this year, CP introduced an online train tracker so that fans could see exactly where the trains were, allowing even more people to connect with the spirit of the Holiday Train on both sides of the border. The Canadian train also boasted the Spirit of Tomorrow car, a railcar that was a part of the CP Canada 150 train which travelled across the country this summer in celebration of Canada's 150th. Crowds were able to view the car, which is covered in notes written by children across Canada, expressing the dreams they have for their nation.
The CP Holiday Train program is not the only way that CP gives back to food banks. CP also provides Food Banks Canada $250,000 worth of in-kind transportation services to support its National Food Sharing Service program. Since 2011 CP's contribution has helped transport over 17 million pounds of food and household goods to food organizations across Canada.
"We are always delighted when the CP Holiday Train travels across North American communities and provides the platform to speak about the need of healthy and nutritious food items at local food banks," said Mimi Lowi-Young, Executive Director, Food Banks Canada. "CP continues to play a role in raising awareness of hunger-related issues and also supporting Food Banks Canada in transporting food across Canada through our National Food Sharing System."
As part of Canada 150, CP and the Canada 150 Federal Secretariat partnered to promote the Holiday Train and the conclusion of the sesquicentennial celebrations.
(CP - posted 1/04)
AMTRAK BEGINS NEXT PHASE OF INFRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL AT NEW YORK PENN
Amtrak’s next series of track renewal projects in New York Penn Station, as part of the Infrastructure Renewal program, will begin on Friday, Jan. 5, with revised scheduled train operations commencing on Monday, Jan. 8.
The bulk of the infrastructure renewal work for 2018 is occurring on weekends, as the project scope has not changed since November’s initial announcement. It is still expected to conclude on May 28, 2018, with minor modifications to Amtrak and commuter train weekday operations at New York Penn Station. Amtrak’s revised schedule includes:
The project is occurring in the area of Track 15, which requires a section of concrete demolition and replacement (similar to the work on Track 10 during the summer of 2017), and Track 18, which requires localized concrete demolition with complex steel hardware replacement and rail renewal. In addition, Amtrak is renewing and replacing three turnouts in “C” Interlocking, which directs Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains to routes heading east and to Sunnyside Yard.
During the summer of 2017, Amtrak accelerated its Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station, which is one element of Amtrak’s plan to modernize stations, infrastructure, and equipment on the Northeast Corridor.
Amtrak’s reservation systems are updated to reflect these schedules and passengers who were booked on a cancelled or altered train have been contacted and re-accommodated. Additional information can be found on Amtrak.com and Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal.
(Amtrak - posted 1/03)
- Amtrak cancelled Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington, D.C. (WAS) to New York Penn Station (NYP) and 127 from NYP to WAS
- Northbound Keystone Train 640 is terminating at Newark Penn Station
- Southbound Keystone Train 643 is originating at Newark Penn Station
- Southbound Train 173 is stopping at Newark Airport
- Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 are all having earlier departure times.
- Train 170 is also departing WAS early, is stopping at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resuming its schedule from Trenton
AAR REPORTS FREIGHT RAIL TRAFFIC FOR 2017, DECEMBER, AND WEEK
ENDING DECEMBER 30, 2017:
Amtrak’s next series of track renewal projects in New York Penn Station, as part of the Infrastructure Renewal program, will begin on Friday, Jan. 5, with revised scheduled train operations commencing on Monday, Jan. 8.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending December 30, 2017, as well as volumes for December 2017 and all of 2017.
U.S. railroads originated 998,168 carloads in December 2017, up 2.5 percent, or 24,606 carloads, from December 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,065,965 containers and trailers in December 2017, up 5.3 percent, or 53,980 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in December 2017 were 2,064,133, up 4 percent, or 78,586 carloads and intermodal units from December 2016.
“Rail traffic finished 2017 on a positive note," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “In December, total carloads were up for the first time in six months, and 14 of the 20 carload categories we track saw year-over-year gains - the most for any month in almost three years. Meanwhile, intermodal volume was up for the 11th straight month and set a new annual record, breaking the previous mark set in 2015."
In December 2017, 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload gains compared with December 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 15,632 carloads or 23.1 percent; metallic ores, up 6,875 carloads or 35.2 percent; and chemicals, up 4,277 carloads or 3.5 percent. Commodities that saw declines in December 2017 from December 2016 included: grain, down 5,542 carloads or 6.1 percent; motor vehicles & parts, down 2,625 carloads or 4.1 percent; and nonmetallic minerals, down 1,424 carloads or 8.9 percent.
“Rail traffic is a useful gauge of the state of the economy, and it shows that the economy's momentum strengthened in the fourth quarter of 2017," Gray added. “Coal, grain, and petroleum products are not nearly as GDP-dependent as most other categories of rail traffic. If you exclude them, U.S. rail carloads were up 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2017, their biggest quarterly percentage gain in more than three years. Railroads are well positioned to provide the safe, efficient and cost-effective service our economy will need if it is to continue to grow in the months and years ahead."
Excluding coal, carloads were up 23,290 carloads, or 3.6 percent, in December 2017 from December 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 28,832 carloads, or 5.2 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for 2017 was 13,478,126 carloads, up 2.9 percent, or 381,266 carloads, from the same period in 2016; and 14,011,834 intermodal units, up 3.9 percent, or 521,121 containers and trailers, from 2016.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the full year of 2017 was 27,489,960 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year.
Week Ending December 30, 2017
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 397,032 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016.
Total carloads for the week ending December 30 were 194,680 carloads, down 9.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 202,352 containers and trailers, down 3.7 percent compared to the same week in 2016.?
None of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 6,581 carloads, to 62,348; grain, down 3,839 carloads, to 15,713; and chemicals, down 2,448 carloads, to 27,944.
North American rail volume for the week ending December 30, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 268,140 carloads, down 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 259,430 intermodal units, down 1.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 527,570 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.7 percent. North American rail volume for the full year of 2017 was 36,488,013 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.8 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 60,664 carloads for the week, down 11.4 percent, and 49,109 intermodal units, up 6.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the full year of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,570,747 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.6 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 12,796 carloads for the week, up 10.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 7,969 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the full year of 2017 was 1,427,306 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2 percent from the same point last year.
(FRA - posted 1/03)
BOMBARDIER TO SUPPLY 17 ADDITIONAL LOCOMOTIVES TO NEW JERSEY:
Rail technology leader Bombardier Transportation announced today that New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT) has exercised an option for 17 additional BOMBARDIER ALP-45 dual-power locomotives. This second call off is valued at approximately $160 million US (133 million euro) and is based on a contract for 26 locomotives signed in 2008. NJ TRANSIT exercised a first option for nine units in 2011 and the contract includes options for up to 37 more units.
"This option order is confirmation of the confidence NJ TRANSIT has in our highly innovative, energy efficient, reliable, and safe equipment," said Benoit Brossoit, President, Americas Region, Bombardier Transportation. "The new locomotives will comply with the EPA's Tier 4 Exhaust Limits, making them environmentally friendly which is especially important in a metropolitan area like New York."
The dual-power locomotives are capable of operating under both diesel power and alternating current electric power from overhead sources. Their flexible power system enables the locomotives to operate across the entire NJ TRANSIT rail system, which includes both electrified and non-electrified lines, thus allowing passengers to ride a single train between New Jersey and New York Penn Station without having to change trains. Their introduction in 2011-2012 at NJ TRANSIT and the then Agence Métropolitaine de Transport in Montreal (now named Réseau de transport métropolitain) marked a first for this technology in North America.
The locomotives will be manufactured at Bombardier sites in Germany and Poland. Delivery is scheduled to start in November 2019.
(Bombardier - posted 1/02)
BRIGHTLINE PREPARES TO COMMMENCE REVENUE TRAIN SERVICE:
Brightline continues to make progress toward operational readiness by training our teammates and testing our equipment. We will launch introductory service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale the week of January 8, 2018.
(Brightline - posted 12/29)
BRIGHTLINE RECEIVES APPROVAL FROM U.S. DOT ON $1.15 BILLION PRIVATE ACTIVITY BOND ALLOCATION:
Brightline announced the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) approved a $1.15 billion Private Activity Bond allocation, and that Brightline also secured the final two South Florida Water Management District permits needed to construct the segment between Orlando and Cocoa. Both actions are important steps as the company plans to start construction on Phase 2 in early 2018 and marks a year of achieving important milestones.
“In another major step forward for Brightline’s Phase 2 extension to Orlando, U.S. DOT approved a $1.15 billion Private Activity Bond allocation,” said Dave Howard, Brightline’s CEO. “After a successful $600 million PAB closing this week, we are pleased to have this financing option available. We appreciate the leadership of U.S. DOT as they work to move major infrastructure projects forward, creating thousands of jobs and stimulating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development.”
Brightline is still analyzing all financing options for Phase 2, including a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan. With all federal approvals in place, Brightline is finalizing the engineering and design for the rail infrastructure. Additionally, Brightline is working on the installation of a new signal system and Positive Train Control (PTC) for the entire system between Miami and Orlando. PTC will be in place between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2018 and will be operational along the entire 235-mile route when the extension to Orlando opens.
Brightline’s station in Orlando will be located at the Orlando International Airport’s new Intermodal Terminal Facility that will be the hub of the future South Terminal complex.
The company continues working toward operational readiness with the Federal Railroad Administration for the launch of introductory service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and will release details soon.
(Brightline - posted 12/29)
WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 23, 2017:
For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 551,566 carloads and intermodal units, up 11 percent compared with the same week last year.?
Total carloads for the week ending December 23 were 270,356 carloads, up 10.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,210 containers and trailers, up 11.3 percent compared to 2016.?
Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 9,934 carloads, to 34,424; metallic ores and metals, up 5,576 carloads, to 25,589; and coal, up 5,374 carloads, to 89,997. One commodity group posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2016: grain, down 183 carloads, to 22,425.?
For the first 51 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported a cumulative volume of 13,283,446 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year; and 13,809,482 intermodal units, up 4.0 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 51 weeks of 2017 was 27,092,928 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to last year.?
North American rail volume for the week ending December 23, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 371,882 carloads, up 10.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,676 intermodal units, up 13.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 732,558 carloads and intermodal units, up 12 percent. North American rail volume for the first 51 weeks of 2017 was 35,960,443 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with 2016.?
Canadian railroads reported 83,911 carloads for the week, up 9.7 percent, and 68,925 intermodal units, up 23.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 51 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,460,974 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.9 percent.?
Mexican railroads reported 17,615 carloads for the week, up 16.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,541 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 51 weeks of 2017 was 1,406,541 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year. ?
(AAR - posted 12/27)
CSX BOARD OF DIRECTORS NAMES INDUSTRY VETERAN JAMES M. FOOTE PRESIDENT AND CEO:
The Board of Directors of CSX Corporation announced that it has unanimously named James (Jim) M. Foote as the company’s president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. Mr. Foote was named acting CEO on December 14, 2017 after E. Hunter Harrison was placed on medical leave. Mr. Foote will also join the Company’s Board of Directors.
CSX Chairman Edward J. Kelly III said, “While we continue to mourn the loss of Hunter Harrison, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce Jim Foote as his successor. Jim has decades of railroading experience and the Board is confident of his ability to lead the company. He has already had a markedly positive impact. The Board looks forward to working with him.”
Jim Foote, president and chief executive officer of CSX said, “I worked alongside Hunter for over a decade and his pioneering approach to railroading unlocked significant efficiencies and value, and we remain focused on delivering on this vision for CSX, our customers and our shareholders. The execution of Precision Scheduled Railroading is well underway, with the most critical components of the implementation completed and beginning to generate measurable operating improvement.”
Foote continued: “We look forward to providing an update on our strategic progress and to showcase our deeply talented management team at our upcoming investor day in March.”
(CSX - posted 12/26)
CN TO PURCHASE 200 NEW LOCOMOTIVES FROM GE TRANSPORTATION OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS:
CN announced it will acquire 200 new locomotives over the next three years from GE Transportation (NYSE: GE) to accommodate future growth opportunities and drive operational efficiency across its system.
The order includes Tier 4 and Tier 3 (Tier 4 certified) Evolution™ Series locomotives equipped with GE Transportation’s GoLINC™ Platform, Trip Optimizer™ System and Distributed Power LOCOTROL® eXpanded Architecture to maximize train effectiveness and efficiency. These solutions are part of GE Transportation’s Train Performance product suite, which optimizes power distribution, train handling, brake control and fuel utilization.
“We are bullish on the North American economy and on our ability to compete and win new business with our superior service model,” said Luc Jobin, CN president and chief executive officer. “In the years ahead, these GE Transportation locomotives and their digital technology will support and enhance our operational efficiency. We are proud to continue our partnership with GE Transportation and look forward to adding these units to our fleet as part of our commitment to operational and service excellence.”
The locomotives will be produced at the GE Manufacturing Solutions facility in Fort Worth, Texas beginning in 2018. CN’s order is the largest among class I railways since 2014. The first units are expected to be delivered in 2018 with the balance delivered in 2019 and 2020.
“CN’s steadfast commitment to serving the expanding needs of its customers across Canada and the United States is helping to turn around the North American locomotive market,” said Rafael Santana, chief executive officer of GE Transportation. “We are proud to partner with CN on this agreement to meet the needs of their future growth, and optimize and further digitize their freight rail operations.”
(CN - posted 12/22)
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:
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)
- 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.
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.”
(MTA - 4/04)
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.