` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
April 24, 2015:

AMTRAK TO OPEN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CENTER IN ATLANTA METRO AREA: Amtrak announced today that it is opening an Information Technology (IT) Service Delivery Center in metro Atlanta later this summer. The new center, at Concourse Office Park in Sandy Springs, Ga., will support Amtrak IT operations nationwide. Amtrak projects as many as 200 jobs may be created in the Atlanta metro area during the next two to five years as a result of its new IT Service Delivery Center. Amtrak currently employs nearly 50 people in Georgia and spent more than $78 million on goods and services in the state during the most recent fiscal year. Key information about Amtrak’s presence in Georgia can be found online at a href="http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/factsheets/GEORGIA14.pdf">http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/factsheets/GEORGIA14.pdf . Amtrak’s Crescent service travels twice daily between New York City and New Orleans, and serves Atlanta’s Peachtree Station. “We are excited to come to Georgia. The opening of this service delivery center strengthens our IT operations and allows us to deliver service more effectively and efficiently for our business and customers,” said Jason Molfetas, Amtrak Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President. “Our employees must continue to have the best technology capabilities that provide quick access to information, link to critical processes and connect with customers in a rapidly evolving marketplace.” “The Atlanta metropolitan area provides America’s Railroad® a strong market to acquire and retain talent and is a component of the IT transformation at Amtrak,” said Dave Hudson, Chief Business Strategy Officer of IT and SVP of Technology Strategy. In addition to the Sandy Springs facility, Amtrak IT operations are also based in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Del. (Amtrak - posted 4/24)

FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION APPROVES $1 BILLION LOAN TO MTA TO IMPROVE LIRR & METRO-NORTH SIGNAL SYSTEM SAFETY: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Federal Railroad Administration has approved a loan of $967.1 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the improvement of the safety of the signal systems used by the MTA's two commuter railroads, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. The loan, which is the largest and lowest-cost financing for the MTA, will finance the installment of positive train control, a technology designed to remove the potential for human error that can lead to train-involved accidents. "This loan is a dramatic investment in the MTA - one that will make trains safer for all riders on Metro-North and the LIRR," Governor Cuomo said. "With this infusion of funding, crews will be getting to work on individual cars and along hundreds of miles of track to install state of the art technology that can save lives. This loan could not have been possible without the hard work and support of DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg, and I thank them on behalf of all MTA commuter rail customers for helping us make this important advancement possible." MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said, "We are delighted to have been able to work with the Federal Railroad Administration to make this historic, and extremely important award possible. The most important thing we do each day is strive to ensure the safety of our passengers, our employees, and the public at large. This award will help us enhance that effort in a very significant way." Positive train control is a technology that allows computerized systems to automatically control certain aspects of train movement. It is intended to prevent train-to-train collisions, trains accidentally traveling into areas where track workers are working, or derailments caused by excessive train speed or the movement of a train through an improperly aligned switch. The technology can address situations like the Spuyten Duyvil derailment in the Bronx, where a train was going faster than its maximum allowable speed. Congress mandated the installation of positive train control in 2008 for all commuter railroads in the U.S. Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road are in the process of implementing the technology, which includes the installation of on-board components for 1,455 rail cars and transponders alongside 588 route miles of track. In November 2013, the MTA awarded a contract to a joint venture of Bombardier Transportation and Siemens Rail Automation to act as a systems integrator that will provide the design, furnish equipment and ensure that the system functions as intended. LIRR and Metro-North forces and some third party contracts will support installations of wayside, office, communications and on-board equipment. Installation of positive train control on Metro-North territory in the State of Connecticut will be funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The loan is the largest to have been made through the Federal Railroad Administration's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program and remains subject to MTA Board Approval on April 29 and final closing in May. The MTA will issue its Transportation Revenue Bond directly to the Federal Railroad Administration and will repay the obligation over 22½ years at a fixed interest rate of 2.38%. MTA's Transportation Revenue Bonds are rated "AA-" from Standard & Poor's, "A2" from Moody's, and "A" from Fitch. Congressman Charlie B. Rangel said, "Nothing is more important than ensuring the wellbeing of New Yorkers. I applaud Governor Cuomo's commitment to improving safety measures on Metro-North and LIRR, so that all commuters in our great State can ride knowing they are in secure hands." Congressman Eliot Engel said, "MTA services are an indispensable part of my constituents' everyday lives. Thousands of commuters rely on the MTA daily to travel to work, home or school. They expect – and should receive – a safe train ride. Implementing positive train control is a critical step making this expectation a reality. The tragedies that occurred at Spuyten Duyvil in 2013 and in Westchester earlier this year may have been avoided if this life-saving technology had been in place. While we cannot assuage the pain and grief that these accidents have caused, we can make every effort to create a better railroad moving forward. I applaud the DOT and the Federal Railroad Administration for recognizing the need for this technology in the MTA system, and am very pleased that all rail travelers can experience a safer ride." Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, "I'm pleased that MTA's application to install positive train control technology has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. Securing this funding would help ensure that disastrous events like the December 2013 Metro North accident never happen again. Over the last year, I have worked tirelessly to highlight the need for additional resources to help commuter railroads install PTC, and I will continue to work with federal and state officials to ensure that MTA gets the resources it needs to keep its riders safe." Congressman Gregory Meeks said, I'd like to thank Governor Cuomo for prioritizing the modernization and improvement of the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad's 1500 railcars and hundreds of miles of track along our country's busiest commuter rail system. This unprecedented investment of nearly $1 billion in the LIRR and Metro will improve safety for riders public, transit workers for decades to come." Congressman Joe Crowley said, "I'm pleased the federal government is making this important investment so we can ensure the safety of New Yorkers on our commuter railroads. The MTA's planned improvements will go a long way toward averting catastrophic incidents such as the ones we've seen over the past few years." Congressman Steve Israel said, "This federal loan is a vital step to improving railway safety. I applaud the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation on their hard work to secure this loan, and I will continue to fight for federal resources for critical New York infrastructure." Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said, "I fought to pass my legislation to make positive train control installations "priority projects" for RRIF loans because investing in PTC on our commuter rail lines is the single most important thing we can do to prevent accidents and save lives. This is a critical investment in our transportation infrastructure that prioritizes the safety of thousands of my neighbors in the Hudson Valley." Congressman Grace Meng said, "Thanks to the Federal Railroad Administration for approving this large, low-interest loan to upgrade commuter rail signal systems. The LIRR is vital to the commutes of many of my constituents and upgrading the signal system to improve safety measures is a high priority. I am pleased that this project will move forward through FRA's financing." Congresswoman Kathleen Rice said, "There's no doubt that positive train control will make riders and workers safer and enhance the security of the commuter railroad systems that so many New Yorkers rely on every day. We need to fully implement this technology, and this major federal funding advance will allow the LIRR and Metro-North to get to work right away." Congressman Lee Zeldin said, "As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, I applaud this crucial step to upgrade the MTA's infrastructure to ensure safety. Last month, I voted for the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act (HR 749), which included reforms to improve the slow and cumbersome process for RRIF loans, ensuring more potential borrowers have access to this critical financing for improving train safety. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo and other New York State officials to complete this important safety upgrade." (MTA - posted 4/24)

LIRR SERVICE TO BELMONT PARK RESUMES WED. APRIL 29: Thoroughbred racing returns to Belmont Park next Wednesday, April 29 as the racetrack’s spring meet gets underway and MTA Long Island Rail Road and the New York Racing Association (NYRA) again join together to provides daily train service for racing fans. The LIRR has issued its Belmont Park Spring Meet Timetable with train service info through May 17. Copies are available at stations and at www.mta.info/lirr NYRA will break from the gate with seven stakes races during the first week of the season. Post time is This year, the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes – the oldest and longest race of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown - will be held on Saturday, June 6. The LIRR will provide extra service that day and unveil station and service improvements that will help better accommodate the larger Stakes day crowd, including faster departures from the racetrack at the end of the day. Leading up to the Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park will also be the place to watch the first two legs of the Triple Crown as it hosts a Kentucky Derby simulcast on Saturday, May 2 and a Preakness Stakes simulcast on Saturday, May 16. (MTA - posted 4/23)

STEAMTOWN NHS RENEWS PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT WITH LACKAWANNA & WYOMING VALLEY RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY: The National Park Service and the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society renewed a five year partnership agreement at the society's April meeting. The agreement allows the historical society to raise funds, on behalf of the National Park Service, for the restoration of the Boston and Maine #3713, a historic Pacific-type steam locomotive located at Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton. The National Park Service will perform much of the actual restoration work, and provide technical assistance to the historical society in order to develop a work strategy for the locomotive's restoration. "The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society has been a long-standing partner of Steamtown National Historic Site and we are very happy that they have agreed to continue the challenge of raising the funds necessary to restore this historic steam locomotive to operating condition. We look forward to working with them on the completion of this project," said Steamtown Superintendent Debbie Conway. The historical society hosts meetings at The Iron Skillet Restaurant, 98 Grove Street, Dupont, PA. For more information, including society meeting schedules, visit http://www.laurellines.org. More information about Steamtown NHS is available at www.nps.gov/stea. (NPS - posted 4/23)

STEAMTOWN NHS ANNOUNCES MAY EXCURSIONS: Steamtown National Historic Site plans several special May excursions, beginning on National Train Day, Saturday, May 9 with an excursion to Carbondale. The trip will carry guests along a portion of the former Delaware and Hudson Railroad mainline through the Lackawanna Valley. At Carbondale, visitors to the town can enjoy a self-guided "town tour" of the Valley's "Pioneer City." The trip will depart Steamtown at 10:00 a.m. and return at 4:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $24.00 for adults 16 to 61, $22.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $17.00 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket, and all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Phone 570-340-5204 daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for reservations. Mother's Day follows on May 10, with a special Ballroom Brunch at the historic Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel, and a roundtrip train ride to Moscow. Seatings for the Ballroom Brunch begin at 11:00 a.m., with the train departing the hotel at 1:30 p.m., returning at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $49.95 for adults, $29.95 for children 12 and younger.Information and reservations are available ONLY at the Radisson Lackawanna Station. Phone 570-558-3919. Honor our servicemen and women at Scranton's Armed Forces Day Parade on Saturday, May 16. Steamtown NHS and Tobyhanna Army Depot have collaborated to offer this special excursion from Tobyhanna to Scranton and return. The trip departs Tobyhanna Station, located near PA Route 23 at Church and Goodwin Streets, for Scranton at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 3:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $34.00 for adults 16 to 61, $29.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $22.00 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket, and all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets for this special journey are sold ONLY through One Stop Shop at Tobyhanna Army Depot. Phone 570-615-8851 for information and reservations. Start your Memorial Day weekend celebration with a train excursion to Jessup on Saturday, May 23. World War II reenactors will join passengers aboard the trip. At Jessup, guests can enjoy the Jessup Hose Co. #2 Firemen's Picnic or take a brief tour of this Mid Valley borough. The trip will depart Steamtown at 12:00 p.m. and return at 4:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $24.00 for adults 16 to 61, $22.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $17.00 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket. Reservations may be made by phoning (570) 340-5204 daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Lastly, on May 30, travel with us on a 26-mile roundtrip to the borough of Moscow on the western edge of the Pocono Mountains. There, you can tour the restored passenger and freight stations, as well as purchase light snacks or refreshments from members of the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society. Their efforts and donations support the restoration of Steamtown's Boston and Maine #3713 steam locomotive. The trip will depart Steamtown at 12:30 p.m. and return at 3:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $24.00 for adults 16 to 61, $22.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $17.00 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket.Reservations may be made by phoning (570) 340-5204 daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The entrance fee to the grounds at Steamtown is $7.00 per adult, daily, ages 16 and older. Excursion fares include the entrance fee, and children ages 15 and younger, accompanied by an adult, are admitted to the Park at no cost. All walking tours offered by the Steamtown NHS staff, including museum access and the park movie, "Steel and Steam," are included in the Entrance Fee. Train reservations must be prepaid, and tickets are non-refundable unless an excursion is cancelled by Park Management. We accept all major credit and debit cards. The popular "Scranton Limited" short train rides will continue to operate on Wednesdays through Saturdays during May and June at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. On Sundays we offer the "Nay Aug Limited" short train rides that transports visitors to the Nay Aug Tunnel on the same timetable. Tickets to ride either train cost $5.00 per person, all ages 6 and older. Ranger-led walking tours are also available daily. Located in downtown Scranton, Pa., Steamtown NHS is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. From I-81 follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). General park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5200 during regular business hours, or by visiting the Park website anytime at www.nps.gov/stea. (NPS - posted 4/23)

ALLENTOWN & AUBURN PHOTO FREIGHT CANCELLED: The Allentown & Auburn freight scheduled to operate on May 2 has been cancelled due to the lack of ticket sales. The railroad plans to reschedule the train for this Fall (posted 4/22)

UNION PEARSON EXPRESS TO LAUNCH JUNE 6: Union Pearson Express (UP Express) will go into service June 6, giving people a fast, reliable option for travelling between Toronto Pearson International Airport and the city's downtown core. Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement today while taking part in the inaugural ride on the dedicated express train. The service will launch in time to serve visitors to the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. The government is investing more than $130 billion over 10 years in public infrastructure, the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario's history. UP Express is one of $16 billion worth of projects underway to modernize transit infrastructure in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Through Moving Ontario Forward, the government is investing an additional $31.5 billion over 10 years to build transit, transportation and other priority infrastructure inside and outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, supporting over 20,000 jobs per year on average in construction and related industries. On April 16 the government announced it is able to enhance funding for Moving Ontario Forward because it is acting on recommendations from Ed Clark's review of government assets. This will unlock $4 billion, every dollar of which would be set aside for transit and transportation infrastructure. With the launch of UP Express, Toronto will join the ranks of global cities with a seamless airport-to-downtown connection -- enhancing the region's competitive advantage, reducing gridlock and promoting tourism. The trip between Canada's two busiest transportation hubs will take just 25 minutes, and trains will depart every 15 minutes.   (Metrolinx, Bryce Lee - posted 4/22)

FASTER SCHEDULE FOR AMTRAK'S VERMONTER: Amtrak has released the new faster schedule for the Vermonter, although its implementation is still in the future as 5 slow orders remain in Massachusetts.  Trains will run about half an hour earlier leaving Vermont, southbound until Springfield MA and 15 minutes earlier north of Springfield.  South of Springfield on the northeast corridor, the Vermonter keeps its existing timeslot. While the new schedule is planned to be in place before summer, the new times haven't been loaded into the computer so anybody making reservations into the future may have their travel times updated. The schedule is likely to be adjusted a little after 6 months as real world experience shows variance from Amtrak's expectations.  It may speed up a little in the future as further work is done in Massachusetts and is scheduled to get much faster (by another 15-30 minutes or so) in 2016 as work in Connecticut is completed.   (Vermont Rail Action Network- posted 4/22)

AAR FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 18, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 556,432 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 18, 2015 were 276,416 carloads, down 4.9 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 280,016 containers and trailers, up 8.1 percent compared to 2014. This is the second highest week on record for intermodal units and the first time container and trailer traffic exceeded carloads for a one-week period. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: motor vehicles and parts, up 7.2 percent to 18,008 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 6.3 percent to 8,019 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.9 percent to 31,296 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: grain, down 15.8 percent to 18,166 carloads; coal, down 12.6 percent to 99,482 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1.3 percent to 15,068 carloads. For the first 15 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,208,741 carloads, down 0.7 percent from the same point last year; and 3,840,204 intermodal units, up 1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 15 weeks of 2015 was 8,048,945 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 18, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 374,892 carloads, down 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 353,319 intermodal units, up 8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 728,211 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2015 was 10,499,143 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 81,793 carloads for the week, down 0.1 percent, and 62,356 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 15 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,053,708 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 7.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,683 carloads for the week, up 11.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,947 intermodal units, up 23.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2015 was 396,490 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.0 percent from the same point last year.   (AAR - posted 4/22)

NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY RIDERSHIP SURGES 2.6% IN ONE YEAR: Subway ridership in New York City grew 2.6% to 1.751 billion customers in 2014, the highest annual ridership in more than 65 years, according to new figures from Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Transit. Some 5.6 million customers rode the subway on an average weekday and 6 million customers on an average weekend. Weekday ridership rose by more than 132,000 last year, and by more than 500,000 over the last five years. At its busiest, the subway system carried more than 6 million customers on 29 weekdays in the last four months of 2014 – a level not seen since the post-World War II boom. This growth was seen across the city in all boroughs and all lines, with the highest percentage increase in neighborhoods seeing rapid residential development and population increases, such as Bushwick in Brooklyn and Long Island City in Queens. While ridership grew in every part of the day and every day of the week, weekday growth was strongest outside of the traditional morning and evening rush hours. As subway ridership surges along with New York City’s population, the increased number of customers creates challenges for the MTA to operate the subway system while minimizing delays, crowding and inconvenience. The subway system has traditionally performed maintenance work during off-peak hours, which are now experiencing record ridership. “The renaissance of the New York City subway is a miracle for those who remember the decrepit system of the 1970s and the 1980s, but moving more than 6 million customers a day means even minor disruptions now can create major delays,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “We are aggressively working to combat delays and improve maintenance, but the ultimate solution requires investing in infrastructure upgrades such as Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signaling systems to accommodate every one of our growing number of customers.” Brooklyn had the largest borough-wide average weekday percentage ridership increase (2.7% or more than 31,000 riders per weekday), followed by 2.5% growth in Manhattan, 2.1% in the Bronx and 1.9% in Queens. In Brooklyn, every station on the L line saw a ridership increase last year, with ridership increasing 4.7%, or more than 5,600 customers, on an average weekday. The L Subway Line is the MTA’s only line with CBTC signaling, which has enabled the MTA to add dozens of trains per week to handle the ridership spike in recent years. The Bedford Av station in Williamsburg saw 27,224 average weekday customers, more than any other station on the L Subway Line in Brooklyn, but the largest weekday percentage increases occurred farther east on the line in Bushwick at Bushwick Av-Aberdeen St (11.5%), Wilson Av (9.9%) and Jefferson St (9.3%). The M Subway Line in Brooklyn serves some of the same areas and also saw rapid growth, with average weekday ridership up 6.2% at stations between Marcy and Metropolitan Avs. stations from Queens through Brooklyn have seen average weekday ridership grow 31% since 2009, after the M Subway Line was rerouted to serve Midtown Manhattan in 2010. New residential development is driving ridership growth in Long Island City, Queens. Weekday ridership grew by 12%, or 1,500 customers per day, at the Vernon-Jackson Av 7 Subway Line station, and by 9.7%, or nearly 2,000 customers, at the Court Sq E,G,M, and 7 Subway Lines station. Ridership at the Vernon-Jackson Av station has more than doubled since 2000. The MTA is installing CBTC on the 7 line, which will allow more trains to run closer together, carrying more customers while also providing countdown clock information. In the Bronx, the 2 and 5 Subway lines grew by 3.7%, or nearly 4,800 customers per day. In Manhattan, the Lenox Avenue 2 and 3 Subway lines through Harlem saw 3.7% growth, or more than 2,100 customers per day.   (MTA - posted 4/21)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S 21ST CENTURY STEAM EXCURSIONS: A reposting of this season's 21st Century Steam Excursions over Norfolk Southern. Steam locomotives 611, 4501, and 765 will power these trains, as follows:  
  • Weekend of June 6 will travel between: Manassas – Riverton Junction, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
  • Weekend of June 13 will travel between: Lynchburg – Petersburg, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
  • June 27 will travel between: Bristol, Va. – Bulls Gap, Tenn. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
  • June 28 will travel between: Bristol – Radford, Va. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
  • Weekend of July 4 / Roanoke – Lynchburg and Walton, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
  • Weekend of July 18 will travel between: Fort Wayne – Lafayette, Ind. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of July 25 will travel between: Youngstown – Ashtabula, Ohio behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Aug. 1 will travel between: Buffalo – Corning, N.Y. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Aug. 8 will travel between: Allentown – Pittston, Pa. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Aug. 15 will travel between: Scranton, Pa. – Binghamton, N.Y. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Sept. 12 will travel between: Jersey – Cleveland, Tenn. behind SOU 4501 - FWRHS. .
  • Weekend of Sept. 12 / Trips celebrate 100th anniversary of the Nicholson Bridge, between Scranton – Nicholson, Pa. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Oct. 3 will travel between: Macon – Tennille, Ga. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
  • Weekend of Oct. 10 will travel between: Atlanta – Toccoa, Ga. behind SOU 4501 -  TVRM..
(NS - posted 4/21)

STOURBRIDGE LINE EXCURSIONS SET TO RESUME: Passenger excursion trains are set to resume over the dormant Stourbridge Line, between Honesdale and Hawley, Pa.  The inaugural runs are scheduled for May 9th and 10th and tickets have just gone on sale yesterday and are limited quantity.  Departures are on Sat May 9th at 9am, 12 Noon, and 3pm and the same on Sunday May 10th.  For additional information, visit http://www.thestourbridgeline.net/.   (Jeff Hiller - posted 4/20)

NEW AMTRAK PERE MARQUETTE TRAIN SCHEDULE : A new schedule for the Amtrak Pere Marquette will make it more convenient for passengers to attend sports, music and theatre events in Chicago and result in eight to 10 jobs being based in Grand Rapids, Mich.,effective May 4. The new schedule (attached) also improves connections with other Amtrak trains. The current schedule allows a six-hour day in Chicago and was crafted for Chicago-based crew cycles. Last year’s opening of the Vernon J. Ehlers Station allowed for the creation of a crew base in downtown Grand Rapids and a nine-hour day for passengers to work or play in Chicago. Amtrak employed 237 Michigan residents last year, with total wages of $19.5 million. Goods and services purchased in Michigan by Amtrak totaled $17.3 million in 2014. All Amtrak service in Michigan is operated under a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).   (Amtrak - posted 4/20)

NJ TRANSIT SET TO BEGIN PUBLIC HEARINGS ON FARE AND SERVICE PROPOSAL : Throughout the past five years, NJ TRANSIT held the line on fare increases while maintaining high quality services and implementing new customer amenities including MyTix, Departurevision, and MyBus Now. However, costs such as contract services – Access Link, the organization’s paratransit service, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and private carriers – and healthcare and benefits, general liability insurance, workers’ compensation and pensions have steadily risen. As a result, NJ TRANSIT has been left with a significant budget gap. Although NJ TRANSIT has identified more than $40 million in reductions in overtime, fuel savings, energy and vehicle parts efficiencies, the agency still faces an approximate $60 million budget gap for the 2016 fiscal year. To close the gap, fare and service adjustments are being proposed. NJ TRANSIT will hold nine scheduled public hearings and one information session beginning Saturday, May 16, 2015 to allow the public the opportunity to learn more about the proposed fare increases and service changes and offer comments before the plan is considered by the Board of Directors on July 8, 2015. The proposed service and fare changes would take effect in September 2015 and on October 1, 2015, respectively. The proposed fare adjustment would be an average of 9 percent for the majority of NJ TRANSIT customers.   (NJ Transit - posted 4/20)

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS FIRST QUARTER RESULTS: Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: "CN turned in a solid first-quarter performance thanks to strong freight demand and continued productivity improvements, helped in part by easier winter conditions compared with last year's polar vortex. "CN is pleased to affirm its outlook for double-digit EPS growth in 2015 versus last year's adjusted diluted EPS of C$3.76, despite weaker than expected energy markets and a mixed economy. (1) "As always we remain committed to growing our business faster than the overall economy and doing so at low incremental cost. We are equally committed to running a safe railway and are increasing our 2015 capital envelope by C$100 million to C$2.7 billion to sustain additional rail infrastructure safety investments." (2) Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. The fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar affects the conversion of the Company's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses. On a constant currency basis, CN's net income for the first quarter of 2015 would have been lower by C$56 million, or C$0.07 per diluted share. (1) First-quarter 2015 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses Revenues for the first quarter of 2015 increased by 15 per cent to C$3,098 million. Revenues increased for grain and fertilizers (24 per cent), forest products (23 per cent), automotive (23 per cent), metals and minerals (22 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (13 per cent), and intermodal (11 per cent). Coal revenues declined by 13 per cent. The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; higher volumes of Canadian grain and potash; strong overseas intermodal demand; higher shipments of lumber and panels to U.S. markets; higher volumes of frac sand; and freight rate increases. These factors were partly offset by decreased shipments of coal due to weaker global demand. Overall, revenues were favorably affected by improved operating conditions due to a more normal winter when compared with the same period of 2014, which enhanced the Company's ability to serve its customers. Carloadings for the quarter rose by nine per cent to 1,353 thousand. Revenue ton-miles, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by seven per cent over the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per revenue ton-mile, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, increased by eight per cent over the year-earlier period, driven by the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar and freight rate increases, partly offset by a lower applicable fuel surcharge rate. Operating expenses for the quarter increased by nine per cent to C$2,035 million, mainly as a result of the negative translation impact of a weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated expenses, increased casualty and other expense, higher labor and fringe benefits expense, as well as increased purchased services and material expense, partly offset by lower fuel costs. Overall, expenses were favorably affected by improved operating conditions due to a more normal winter when compared with the same period of 2014. (CN - posted 4/20)

NEW FEDERAL REGULATIONS CONCERNING MOVEMENT OF CRUDE OIL AND ETHANOL BY RAIL: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced with its agencies, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a package of targeted actions that will address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The volume of crude oil being shipped by rail has increased exponentially in recent years, and the number of significant accidents involving trains carrying ethanol or crude oil is unprecedented. “The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.” These actions represent the latest in a series of more than two dozen that DOT has initiated over the last nineteen months to address the significant threat to public safety that accidents involving trains carrying highly flammable liquids can represent. Today’s announcement includes one Emergency Order, two Safety Advisories, and notices to industry intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids. Actions
  • 1) Preliminary investigation of one recent derailment indicates that a mechanical defect involving a broken tank car wheel may have caused or contributed to the incident. The Federal Railroad Administration is therefore recommending that only the highest skilled inspectors conduct brake and mechanical inspections of trains transporting large quantities of flammable liquids, and that industry decrease the threshold for wayside detectors that measure wheel impacts, to ensure the wheel integrity of tank cars in those trains. 2) Recent accidents revealed that certain critical information about the train and its cargo needs to be immediately available for use by emergency responders or federal investigators who arrive on scene shortly after an incident. To address the information gap, DOT is taking several actions to remind both the oil industry and the rail industry of their obligation to provide these critical details
  • 3) DOT has determined that public safety compels issuance of an Emergency Order to require that trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas adhere to a maximum authorized operating speed limit of 40 miles per hour in High Threat Urban Areas. Under the EO, an affected train is one that contains: 1) 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block, or 35 or more loaded tank cars, of Class 3 flammable liquid; and, 2) at least one DOT Specification 111 (DOT-111) tank car (including those built in accordance with Association of American Railroads (AAR) Casualty Prevention Circular 1232 (CPC-1232)) loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid.
“These are important, common-sense steps that will protect railroad employees and residents of communities along rail lines. Taking the opportunity to review safety steps and to refresh information before moving forward is a standard safety practice in many industries and we expect the shipping and carrier industries to do the same,” said Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “Our first priority is to prevent these accidents from ever happening,” stated Acting PHMSA Administrator Tim Butters. “But when accidents do occur, first responders need to have the right information quickly, so we are reminding carriers and shippers of their responsibility to have the required information readily available and up to date.” The actions taken today coincide with actions being taken by other government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).   (FRA - posted 4/17)

RAILROAD UNIONS ADVANCING TWO PERSON CREW LEGISLATION TO PROTECT SAFETY: Continuing a cooperative effort to promote safety in the railroad industry, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers International Association (SMART) have jointly announced that legislation requiring at least two crew members on all freight trains in the U.S. has been introduced in the 114th Congress. The Safe Freight Act (H.R. 1763), introduced by Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) on April 13, would require two crew members — one certified locomotive engineer and one certified conductor — on all freight trains. The newly-introduced legislation mirrors H.R. 3040, which had more than 80 co-sponsors last year prior to conclusion of the 113th Congress. H.R. 1763 has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. H.R. 1763 would require that “no freight train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight may be operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least 2 individuals, one of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a locomotive engineer pursuant to section 20135, and the other of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a conductor pursuant to section 20163.” The joint effort reflects heightened concerns over crew size arising from the July 6, 2013 derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) oil train in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people and destroyed the center of the town. The MM&A train was crewed by a single person. Since that time, there has also been movement by major freight railroads to seek collective bargaining agreements to allow for widespread use of one-person train operations. “The BLET continues to oppose and condemn single-person freight operations as adverse to worker and public safety,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “All parties involved must understand that as things stand today, there are only two ways to end one-person train operations: federal laws or regulations that outlaw this dangerous practice, or collectively bargained contract language that requires two crew members on every train. We will continue to work to protect contractual language to defend two-person crews, and it also is our goal to protect the safety of railroad workers and the general public by advocating for passage of H.R. 1763.” SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich said, “The SMART Transportation Division has always espoused that the safest rail operation is a two-person crew operation. With several major train derailments having occurred in the last few months, most notably the oil train derailment and explosion near Charleston, W.Va., in February, our lawmakers and the general public must understand that multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities. I would like to thank Cong. Don Young (R-Alaska) for his leadership on this critical rail safety issue. No one would permit an airliner to fly with just one pilot, even though it can fly itself. Trains, which cannot operate themselves, should be no different.”   (BLET - posted 4/17)

CN LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS IN CANADA RATIFY NEW LABOR AGREEMENT: CN announced today that locomotive engineers in Canada represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union have ratified a new collective agreement with the company. The three-year agreement retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, provides wage increases and benefit improvements to approximately 1,800 locomotive engineers. Jim Vena, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "We are pleased with the TCRC members' ratification of this new labour agreement, which was bargained by the parties in February 2015 without the threat of labour disruption. With this ratification, CN has concluded its current round of collective bargaining in Canada and remains focused on delivering solid service to our customers and acting as a true backbone of the economy."   (CN - posted 4/17)

CLASS J 611 HOMECOMING TO KICK OFF NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S 21ST CENTURY STEAM EXCURSIONS: The 611 is going home again, coming back from its second restoration to headline Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam excursions in 2015.   Sixty-five years after the Class J 611 was built at Norfolk & Western Railway’s shops in Roanoke and placed into service for the first time May 29, 1950, the locomotive is scheduled to return under steam May 30, fulfilling the dreams of its Virginia Museum of Transportation owners and rail enthusiasts worldwide.  nched plans for 21st Century Steam in 2010, and President Jim Squires will be aboard a J-powered train from Spencer, N.C., where the 611 has been undergoing restoration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum since June 2014.    Neither progress of rail industry dieselization nor ravages of time spent lying dormant on display for decades could defeat the 611, which survived the scrap heap of other steam locomotives and two retirements to take its place among a trio of iconic engines that will power 21st Century Steam this year. The others are Southern Railway 4501 and Nickel Plate Road 765.    VMT is a new sponsor with Norfolk Southern, joining the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society to operate excursion trips between June 6 and Oct. 11. Tickets and schedule details will be available on the websites of trip sponsors.   Here is the schedule. All excursions are round trips.  
  • Weekend of June 6 will travel between: Manassas – Riverton Junction, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
  • Weekend of June 13 will travel between: Lynchburg – Petersburg, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
  • June 27 will travel between: Bristol, Va. – Bulls Gap, Tenn. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
  • June 28 will travel between: Bristol – Radford, Va. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
  • Weekend of July 4 / Roanoke – Lynchburg and Walton, Va. behind N&W J 611 - VMT..
  • Weekend of July 18 will travel between: Fort Wayne – Lafayette, Ind. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of July 25 will travel between: Youngstown – Ashtabula, Ohio behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Aug. 1 will travel between: Buffalo – Corning, N.Y. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Aug. 8 will travel between: Allentown – Pittston, Pa. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Aug. 15 will travel between: Scranton, Pa. – Binghamton, N.Y. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Sept. 12 will travel between: Jersey – Cleveland, Tenn. behind SOU 4501 - FWRHS. .
  • Weekend of Sept. 12 / Trips celebrate 100th anniversary of the Nicholson Bridge, between Scranton – Nicholson, Pa. behind NKP 765 - FWRHS.
  • Weekend of Oct. 3 will travel between: Macon – Tennille, Ga. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
  • Weekend of Oct. 10 will travel between: Atlanta – Toccoa, Ga. behind SOU 4501 - TVRM..
    Southern Railway’s 4501 was the pioneer locomotive in Norfolk Southern’s initial steam excursion program that operated from 1964 to 1994. The 4501 returned to excursion service in 2014 after being rebuilt at TVRM’s Chattanooga shops. Nickel Plate Road 765 was built in 1944 by Lima Locomotive Works at Lima, Ohio, and has been used in excursion service since 1979.   But it is the powerful sleek N&W Class J 611 with its bullet nose and tall-as-a-man driving wheels on a 4-8-4 configuration that many associate with the halcyon days of steam railroading. Its initial restoration in 1982 after two decades of retirement was occasion for a movie, “Going Home,” produced by Norfolk Southern. “The J being alive of course is the greatest joy that we true rail fans have had in many many years,” an appreciative fan says in the movie. The resurrection kept the J chugging in excursion service until 1994, when Norfolk Southern concluded its steam program, and 611 was retired a second time and put on display again at VMT.   Norfolk Southern’s 2010 announcement of plans to operate 21st Century Steam prompted hope that the 611 might ride the rails yet again. In 2013, VMT launched a study and then a capital campaign, “Fire Up 611!” to fund restoration of the locomotive. Norfolk Southern donated $1.5 million from proceeds of sale of a Mark Rothko abstract expressionist painting. The 611 was towed to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in May 2014 for display among a group of historic locomotives, and the restoration began there in June.       (NS - posted 4/16)

CN ANNOUNCES MULTI-YEAR C$500 MILLION CAPITAL PROGRAM TO UPGRADE WESTERN CANADA FEEDER RAIL LINES: CN announced today a multi-year program to invest approximately C$500 million in infrastructure improvements to its Western Canada feeder rail lines in Alberta , Manitoba , and Saskatchewan that are handling rising volumes of industrial products, natural resources, and energy-related commodities. In 2015, CN will allocate approximately C$100 million for work on northern Alberta branch lines, investing in infrastructure upgrades and safety improvements, including heavier rail, crushed rock ballast and new ties, to ensure the network can efficiently accommodate future freight volume growth in the Peace River region. Claude Mongeau , president and chief executive officer, said: "CN is building for the future with large capital investments in long-term safety and capacity improvements to ensure it continues to play its role as a true backbone of the economy. "CN sees significant long-term potential in its customer base located on its Western Canada feeder network. We want to provide our customers with the capacity for continued efficient freight transportation services that increase their competitiveness in North American and global markets, as well as ensure our rail infrastructure is as safe as possible." CN continues to see rising freight volumes in Western Canada , which have increased by more than 50 per cent in the past five years. Given this growth, CN has also invested significantly in its Edmonton - Winnipeg main line corridor, installing sections of double track, extending sidings to accommodate longer more efficient trains, and improving major classification yards. CN's major investments in Western Canada are designed to increase the capacity and safety of its rail infrastructure and to allow the company to continue to grow at low incremental cost in support of Canada's trade. Mongeau concluded: "CN believes that commercial principles and a stable regulatory environment are essential to support rail infrastructure investment and maintain Canada's safe, efficient and well-functioning rail transportation marketplace in the future." (CN - posted 4/16)

FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTATION AWARDS EIGHT SAFETY GRANTS: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded eight grants totaling more than $21.2 million that invest in highway-rail grade crossing safety, Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation, and passenger rail. FRA awarded the grants as part of a Notice of Funding Availability it issued in July 2014 to distribute new FY14 Omnibus funding as well as unobligated funds from the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. “These projects are examples of the positive work we could do if we had predictable, dedicated funding for rail,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The GROW AMERICA Act is a blueprint for continued economic growth that will help us further strengthen rail’s safety record, close the nation’s infrastructure deficit, and modernize the nation’s freight and passenger rail network.” The eight grants were awarded in states across the country and feature a wide array of projects: Grade Crossing Safety
  • California Department of Transportation: Pacific Surfliner Chesterfield Drive Crossing Improvements – $2,236,550
  • Illinois Department of Transportation: Springfield, Ill. Ash Street Underpass –$2,000,000
Positive Train Control
  • Transportation Technology Center, Inc.: PTC Implementation Project Interoperable Train Control Messaging Security – $432,000
  • Amtrak: Wireless Communication and Key Management Implementation – $2,640,000
  • ARINC Inc.: Implementation of PTC Shared Network and User Support – $4,992,799
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Metro North Hudson Line PTC – $3,000,000
Passenger Rail Planning
  • California Department of Transportation: Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan – $2,982,050
  • Illinois Department of Transportation: Chicago Union Station Terminal Planning Study – $3,000,000
“Enhancing grade crossing safety, investing in the deployment of PTC, and funding planning efforts are investments that will make our rail network safer, more reliable, and efficient,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “Continuous investment in rail infrastructure will enable us to meet the growing demand for rail and to keep people living along rail lines safe.” The GROW AMERICA Act is a long-term transportation bill the Department sent to Congress, which provides funding growth and certainty so that state and local governments can continue to improve our infrastructure. It invests $478 billion over six years to make critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century (USDOT - posted 4/16)

CONGRESSMAN PAYNE INTRODUCES THE TANK CAR SAFETY AND SECURITY ACT OF 2015: Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) today introduced the Tank Car Safety and Security Act of 2015, legislation to strengthen the safety standards for DOT-111 tank cars that transport flammable liquids. “The safety of New Jersey families is my top priority, which is why I have introduced the Tank Car Safety and Security Act,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “Transporting flammable liquids and other hazardous materials always carries risks, but it’s critical that shipments of these materials are as safe as possible in order to mitigate these risks and protect our communities.” “As we saw from the recent unfortunate incident in West Virginia, the consequences of a derailed tank car carrying hazardous materials can be devastating, threatening water supplies and endangering the lives of many,” added Congressman Payne, Jr. “There is a clear need to ensure the safe transport of flammable liquids, and the Tank Car Safety and Security Act aims to do just that.” On February 16, a train hauling crude oil derailed in West Virginia, shutting down water treatment plants and burning down a house. Tank car derailments have been an ongoing problem throughout the United States, including in New Jersey. In 2013, there were 116 crude-oil tank car incidents, according to the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The Tank Car Safety and Security Act of 2015 requires the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to revise federal standards for DOT-111 tank cars used to move flammable liquids. The legislation requires all cars to include an outer steel jacket as well as thermal protection, full-height head shields, and high-flow capacity pressure relief valves. Tank cars built after October 2011 must be updated to include high-flow capacity pressure relief valves and design modifications to prevent bottom outlets from opening in the event of an accident. Additionally, the legislation requires the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to submit to Congress a plan to phase out older-model DOT-111 tank cars that are not retrofitted to meet the new safety standards. Finally, the Act directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator to issue a set of procedures to ensure that every rail car containing crude oil will not be left unattended when transferred from one carrier to the next. (Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr - posted 4/15)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 11, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 11, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 557,812 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 11, 2015 were 287,349 carloads, down 2.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 270,463 containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent compared to 2014. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 13.9 percent to 23,741 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, up 5.5 percent to 15,317 carloads; and chemicals, up 2 percent to 31,342 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: coal, down 8.2 percent to 105,691 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, down 3.9 percent to 35,794 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 3.6 percent to 17,814 carloads. For the first 14 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,932,325 carloads, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year; and 3,560,188 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2015 was 7,492,513 carloads and intermodal units, which was flat compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 11, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 384,937 carloads, down 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 342,504 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 727,441 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2015 was 9,770,932 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 80,782 carloads for the week, up 2.4 percent, and 61,964 intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 14 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,909,559 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 7.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,806 carloads for the week, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,077 intermodal units, up 1.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2015 was 368,860 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 4/15)

CSX CORPORATION ANNOUNCES FIRST-QUARTER EARNINGS: CSX Corporation (CSX) today announced first-quarter 2015 net earnings of $442 million, an 11 percent increase from $398 million in the same period last year. The company also generated earnings per share of $0.45, a 13 percent increase from $0.40 per share in the first quarter of 2014. Revenue in the quarter was $3.0 billion, driven by growth across many of CSX's markets and an improved pricing environment, partially offset by the impact of low natural gas prices, lower fuel recoveries and the strong U.S. dollar. At the same time, the benefit of lower fuel prices and cost-saving initiatives more than offset higher inflation and volume-related costs in the quarter. As a result, operating income increased by 14 percent to $843 million and the operating ratio improved 330 basis points to 72.2 percent. "In this dynamic economic and business environment, CSX's core earnings remain strong and we are continuing our drive to provide excellent service for our customers and value for our shareholders," said Michael J. Ward, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our commitment and confidence in CSX's future is underscored by the positive shareholder actions we're taking today." The CSX Board of Directors has approved an increase in the quarterly dividend and a new share repurchase program. The 13 percent increase in the dividend, to $0.18 per share, is payable on June 15, 2015 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 29, 2015. This is the 13th increase in 10 years, representing a 26 percent compound annual growth rate during that time. The new, $2 billion share repurchase program is expected to be completed over the next 24 months. This follows the successful completion of CSX's previous repurchase plan, during which the company bought back $1 billion worth of shares. Since 2006, CSX has repurchased nearly $9 billion in shares. (CSX - posted - 4/14)

ELECTRIC CITY TROLLEY MUSEUM ACQUIRES BRILL WORK CARS: SEPTA is selling two 1920s era trolley work-cars to the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton for $1.00. The two trolley cars were manufactured by J.G. Brill. One of the trolley cars is the W-56, featuring a crane.for overhead wire repairs. Lackawanna County had sent a letter to SEPTA in April 2014 expressing an interest in the two trolley cars. However, since the trolley cars predated the SEPTA formation in 1964, the transit agency had to get permission from the trolley's previous owner, the City of Philadelphia, to allow for their sale. (Scott Snell - posted 4/14)

NEW CONNECTIONS AVAILABLE TO AMTRAK NETWORK FROM SCRANTON & NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA : Residents of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and White Haven, Pa. can now connect to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and the national passenger rail network via convenient and affordable Thruway Bus service to/from Philadelphia 30th Street Station, provided by Martz Trailways. Daily bus trips between northeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia provide convenient connections to/from Northeast Regional and Acela Express trains serving Washington, Boston, Virginia cities and intermediate points. Connections can also be made to the Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian (Harrisburg, Lancaster, Pittsburgh) as well as Crescent (Atlanta, New Orleans), Silver Star (Orlando, Tampa, Miami) and Capitol Limited (Cleveland, Chicago) trains. Amtrak Thruway connections enable passengers to utilize other carriers to connect with Amtrak trains from cities without Amtrak rail stations. All buses and Northeast Corridor trains are equipped with on-board wifi and electrical outlets. Passengers can book bus and train tickets together at Amtrak.com or via the Amtrak mobile apps available for iPhone, Android and Windows devices. (Amtrak - posted - 4/14)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN EXPECTS TO REPORT EARNINGS OF $1.00 PER SHARE, 15% BELOW 2014: Norfolk Southern Corporation’s first quarter 2015 diluted earnings per share are expected to be $1.00 per share, 15% below the same quarter 2014. The reduction in earnings is primarily due to lower than expected revenues, although certain expense items also affected the comparison. Revenue decreases reflect reductions in fuel surcharge revenue in each of NS’ three commodity groups, continued reductions in coal volumes, and a lower average revenue per unit related to the mix of business. Lower overall expenses were aided by declining fuel expense but hurt by weather and service recovery costs. First quarter revenues are expected to be approximately $2.6 billion, a 5% decrease compared with the same period last year. Coal shipments continue to experience downward pressure, weighted by a significant decline in export coal volume. Merchandise saw growth in volumes, though revenues declined due to unfavorable revenue per unit brought on by reduced fuel revenues and changes in the mix of traffic. Within the intermodal category, increased volumes and core pricing gains roughly offset the impact of lower average revenue per unit due to fuel revenue reductions. First quarter expenses will be approximately $2.0 billion, a decrease of 3% versus 2014. This improvement was led by significantly reduced fuel expenses. Remaining costs were adversely affected by weather and service-recovery costs, and also by increased hiring and training costs, and a labor agreement signing bonus. The benefits of the increased hiring have begun and will be even more apparent in future quarters as the new employees complete training and enter regular service.  Following the weather related challenges of the first quarter, volumes are expected to rebound in the second quarter, with the exception of coal, which will continue to be pressured given current market dynamics. In the current energy environment, revenues for the year are expected to be less than revenues for 2014, and the Company continues to focus on improving core pricing as service levels improve. The Company’s continuing actions to restore service levels should result in gradual improvement during the second quarter and a return to normalized levels during the third and fourth quarters of the year. Second quarter expenses will continue to reflect service recovery costs, currently estimated at $25 million, which is commensurate with the second quarter of 2014. As new employees and additional locomotives are deployed and new infrastructure projects become fully operational during the second quarter, the Company will be well-positioned to capitalize on market opportunities and unwind excess service-related costs. “Our goal remains the same: to operate an efficient, high velocity railroad, which enables us to offer the best possible customer service and retain and grow our business at rates that provide a superior return for our owners,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “I am confident in our ability to reach high performance levels this year. With operations showing sustained improvements, and with better weather and enhanced infrastructure and personnel, we look forward to stronger results in the second quarter and the second half of the year(NS - posted - 4/13)

AMTRAK LOWERS SLEEPING CAR FARES TO FLORIDA : Amtrak will offer passengers a lower-cost option for travel in our popular sleeping cars on one of our routes between New York and Miami. This offer will be available for travel between July 1 until the end of January 2016 on the Amtrak Silver Star (Trains 91 & 92), which operates daily between New York City and Orlando/Miami, via Washington, D.C., Columbia, S.C., and Tampa, Fla. Traditionally, Amtrak has bundled the cost of dining car meals into its charge for the sleeping car. Under this pilot program, these costs will be un-bundled to allow passengers to travel at a lower cost between the northeast, mid-Atlantic and Florida. All food service will be provided in a Café/Lounge car instead of a dining car. Passengers can purchase a selection of hot and cold sandwiches, snacks and other items in the Café. Passengers will continue to have the option of choosing traditional dining car service aboard the Amtrak Silver Meteor (Trains 97 & 98), which duplicates much of the Silver Star route. Dining car meals aboard the Silver Meteor are included in the sleeping car charge. Passengers with sleeping car accommodations on all Amtrak trains with sleeping car services, including the Star and Meteor, are provided complimentary morning coffee, chilled water and juices, meals delivered to their rooms upon request, turn-down service for their bedrooms and roomettes, private restrooms and access to shower facilities. At stations with ClubAcela®, sleeping car passengers also have same-day lounge access and pre-boarding privileges. “Customers have been clear they want more options,” said Mark Murphy, Amtrak Senior Vice President and General Manager responsible for the long-distance trains nationally. “From this summer through early next year, passengers will be able to opt for different service levels between our two daily trains to Orlando and Miami.”“We are excited to be able to offer our customers real choice and value,” Murphy added. “And now this route allows you to choose between two services - sleeping cars with a traditional dining car and sleeping cars where you can choose your own meal options.” Savings from typical sleeping car upgrade (“accommodation”) charges during this trial on the Silver Star schedule are between 25 and 28 percent for bedrooms and roomettes, including popular stops such as Orlando, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale. For example, the charge is about $140 lower for a bedroom and $65 lower for a roomette than previously between New York City and Miami. Since the upgrade charge is based on the size of the sleeping compartment, rather than the number of occupants, cost savings for passengers traveling alone can be significant. Over the next few months, Amtrak will closely watch customer reaction and market (Anmtraj - posted - 4/13)

SEPTA BREAKS GROUND ON 69TH STREET WEST TERMINAL IMPROVEMENTS: SEPTA officially kicked off the West Terminal Improvements Project at 69th Street Transportation Center with a groundbreaking ceremony today. SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey was joined by elected officials and community leaders for the event. "Almost 35,000 people use 69th Street Transportation Center every day," said Casey. "The improvements we are making at the West Terminal will ensure that those customers will have a restored and modernized place where they can catch our buses and trolleys." 69th Street Transportation Center is a 105-year old, multi-modal facility, serving passengers on SEPTA's Market-Frankford Line, Norristown High Speed Line, trolley Routes 101 and 102 and 18 bus routes. Renovations at West Terminal include:
  • -Reconstructing pedestrian ramps to terminal platforms, the North and Center Platforms and canopies and Center Platform waiting area
  • -Partially reconstructing the South Platform
  • -Enhancing safety and security efforts by installing cameras
  • -Furthering SEPTA's commitment to sustainability by incorporating design features including green roofs to reduce storm water drainage, energy efficient LED lighting and architectural elements in the passenger waiting area that will allow for increased natural light and reduced energy use.
The $19.6 million 69th Street Transportation Center West Terminal Improvements Project is part of SEPTA's "Rebuilding for the Future" capital program. The work is funded through the Federal Transit Administration Bus and Bus Facility Livability Grant Program and Pennsylvania Act 89. "SEPTA's 69th Street Transportation Center is a transit gateway for travel to and around Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Chester counties," said Casey. "Without federal and state support, we would not have been able to complete this necessary work. I applaud our elected officials for recognizing the need for investing in our transportation infrastructure and awarding SEPTA the funding needed for this vital reconstruction project that will that improve mobility and strengthen our community." Portions of the West Terminal project are underway. The entire West Terminal will be closed beginning June 15, to allow for the remainder of the project to be completed. The new West Terminal is scheduled to be completed in November 2015. During construction, shuttle buses will be used for Trolley Routes 101 and 102 and the boarding locations for those buses, as well as Routes 104, 107, 109, 110, 111, 112, 120, 123 and 126 will be relocated to a temporary loop. (SEPTA - posted 4/13)

USDOT CELEBRATES INTRODUCTION OF NEW RAIL CARS TO ENHANCE SAFETY, RELIABILITY ON THE D.C. METRORAIL SYSTEM: U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez and Federal Transit Acting Administrator Therese McMillan were in Arlington, Va., today for the launch of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) new state-of-the-art 7000-series rail cars for the Metrorail system. The new cars will belong to a fleet of more than 500 new rail cars, which are designed to provide a safer, more comfortable ride for millions of passengers and expand the Metrorail system’s capacity overall. “Safety is our number one priority, and WMATA’s 7000-series rail cars are specifically designed to move hundreds of thousands of daily riders as safely as possible as they travel to work, school, doctor’s appointments and other destinations,” said Deputy Secretary Mendez. The rail cars will replace all 300 of the Metrorail 1000-series cars that have been in service for nearly 40 years, fulfilling a key safety recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the fatal Metrorail collision at Fort Totten Station in June 2009, which involved some of those cars. The WMATA accident, along with other incidents elsewhere in the United States spurred the Obama Administration to seek and ultimately secure new federal safety oversight authority. The new 7000-series rail cars will eventually be deployed throughout Metrorail’s entire fleet, including the new Silver Line as it ultimately expands to serve Dulles International Airport. Secretary Foxx traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska last year, and visited the Kawasaki plant where the new rail cars were built. “The time has arrived to retire the oldest, 1000-series rail cars in the Metrorail fleet and replace them with a new generation of safer vehicles,” said FTA Acting Administrator McMillan. At today’s event, Deputy Secretary Mendez and Acting Administrator McMillan were joined by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and other state and local officials. Investments like the 7000-series rail cars are vital to meet the transportation needs of the nation and to support local economic development. Under the Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act , a comprehensive multi-year program to fund infrastructure improvements, $115 billion is identified for investment in transit systems. The proposal significantly increases transit spending, which will enable the expansion of new projects that improve connectivity to jobs, educational and other opportunities. FTA has provided over $80 million in funding to date, specifically to help fund the replacement of the 1000-series rail cars. In addition, FTA has also contributed over $54 million for 64 new rail cars through the Capital Investment Grant Program (New Starts), as part of a $900 million construction grant agreement with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for Phase 1 of the Metrorail Silver Line extension project. (USDOT - posted 4/13)

BECHTEL SELECTED TO DELIVER SPADINA SUBWAY EXTENSION IN TORONTO: Bechtel has been awarded a contract to work with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to deliver the Spadina subway extension in Toronto , Canada. Bechtel will provide program management services as part of an integrated delivery team with the TTC. "We recognize the importance of the Spadina subway extension to Toronto and are fully committed to playing our part in the safe completion of this project by December 31, 2017 ," said George Morschauser , Rail Operations Manager, Bechtel. "We look forward to working with the Toronto Transit Commission to deliver a quality, operational subway." The Spadina subway extension will extend the existing subway line across Toronto city's boundary to the rapidly growing York region. The 8.6 kilometer extension will include six new stations and commuter parking. "We've been working in Canada since 1942 and are delighted to continue contributing to the country's infrastructure," said Walker Kimball , General Manager - Infrastructure, Bechtel. Bechtel has completed more than 800 studies and projects in Canada . The company's current projects in Canada include the Keeyask Generating Station in Northern Manitoba , the Kitimat aluminum smelter in British Columbia and our continued participation in the oil sands of Northern Alberta . A global leader in rail, Bechtel has successfully delivered more than 6,200 miles of railways and completed 35 metropolitan rapid transit systems. The company has worked on some of the largest and most complex railway projects in the world including the Channel Tunnel, San Francisco BART extension, the fixed-deadline delivery of the London Underground Jubilee Line Extension, and the delivery of the Athens Metro in time for the 2004 Olympics in Greece . Bechtel is currently part of the integrated management team delivering Crossrail in the UK—the largest infrastructure project in Europe—and is also designing and constructing lines 1 and 2 of the Riyadh Metro, Saudi Arabia . (Bechtel: - posted 4/13)

STB APPROVES LOUISVILLE & INDIANA UPGRADE: Anacostia Rail Holdings (ARH) and CSX today announced that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has approved a joint proposal by ARH's subsidiary, Louisville & Indiana Railroad (L&I), and CSX to upgrade a key freight corridor between Indianapolis, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky. "These upgrades will benefit L&I and CSX customers in the Midwest and across the companies' networks by improving operational efficiency, allowing more direct transit across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, and reducing congestion in those states," said Oscar Munoz, president and chief operating officer, CSX. "The privately funded upgrades, which will include the installation of new rail, upgrades to the rail bed structure and bridge improvements, will enhance service and capacity on this rail line." CSX's total investment of approximately $100 million will not only benefit L&I's local customers, but will connect the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville to enhanced rail access, and provide more efficient rail service for freight shipments through the region. "This project enhances critical rail infrastructure that connects local customers to America's freight transportation network, supporting local manufacturing, economic development, jobs and competitiveness," said Peter Gilbertson, chairman and chief executive officer, Anacostia Rail Holdings. CSX and L&I appreciate the diligent review of this project by the Surface Transportation Board. (CSX - posted - 4/10)

FIFTH ANNUAL PROJECT 113 SLIDE SHOW: Fifth Annual Project 113 Slide Show will be held Saturday, April 25, 2015 Doors will open at 8:00 AM for coffee and doughnuts.  The presenters will begin at 9:00 AM. The show will be presented at the campus grounds of the Minersville Junior-Senior High School. The show will be in the auditorium and lunch will be in the cafeteria. There will be vendors on site, also raffles and door prizes The master of ceremonies for this event will be Mr.  Al Barnes. The presenters will be:
  • 9:00-9:45---Dale Woodland, My Norfolk Southern Heritage Locomotive Hunt
  • 10:00-10:45---Mike Smith, Canadian Pacific Steam
  • 11:00-11:45---Allen Keller, Railroads of the Great Northwest Around Seattle
  • 11:45-12:45---Lunch
  • 12:45-1:00---Joe Fusco, Restoration Progress of CNJ 113
  • 1:00-1:45---Dave Augsburger, Railroading in the Lehigh Gorge
  • 2:00-2:45---Kermit Geary Jr., Eastern Railroading
  • 3:00-3:45---Craig Werley, Kantner Collection
Lunch will be provided by Christy Joy Catering Service.  The cost is $30.00 per person. Seating is limited, tickets will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.  Checks can be made payable to Project 113 and sent to Project 113, 113 East Sunbury Street, Minersville, PA 17954.  For information phone:  570-544-8300 or email:  rrproject113@hotmail.com. Directions to Show Coming from Rt. 81, exit at Minersville exit, take Pa 901 east. In town of Minersville turn left on 5th Street, follow approximately 1 mile, turn left at high school entrance, follow road to school. Coming from the south: When entering Minersville, turn left on Sunbury Street which is also Pa 901. Make a right on 5th Street and follow above instructions. (posted - 4/10)

NEW PHOTOGRAPH EXHIBIT TRACKS PROGRESS OF MTA CAPITAL PROJECTS: MTA Arts & Design has installed “Breaking Ground,” a photography exhibit by Patrick J. Cashin that focuses on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s major infrastructure projects. The yearlong exhibit near the fare control area at the 4and 5 Subway Line's Bowling Green station, which is the latest in Art & Design’s large-scale photography exhibits, offers a glimpse of the future of New York City public transportation and a behind-the-scenes look at MTA’s major capital projects. Cashin, a former Newsweek lab technician/photographer, has been visually documenting the MTA’s projects, milestones and other news-making events for 15 years. His role within the MTA gives him a unique view and access to the transit authority’s mega-projects, workforce and advanced equipment that few see in person. Selections of his photography are available for public view and media use on the MTA’s Flickr account. , but the exhibit at Bowling Green is the first time that his photography has been displayed in large format in a public space. The photographs featured at Bowling Green were taken deep beneath New York City. They show the herculean efforts underway to build the important transportation infrastructure that is vital to the city’s growth. Cashin’s trained eye captures the massive earth-moving equipment and MTA crews responsible for carving out subway tunnels and railroad tubes in the city’s bedrock. Among the MTA capital projects highlighted in the photographs are the Second Avenue Subway, the 7 Subway Line extension to Manhattan’s west side and the East Side Access project, which will link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal. “There has been an amazing amount of excavation and construction work going on, out of sight, as MTA builds a 21st-century transit system for New York, and we wanted to share some of Patrick J. Cashin’s photographs with the public,” said Sandra Bloodworth, the Director of Arts & Design. “His vivid photos in our Lightbox Program take you directly to the site so you can experience firsthand this remarkable work.” Cashin’s photographic subjects resemble the set of a futuristic movie, with their images of tunnels and massive equipment that most people associate with the scale of epic movies. The seven large-scale images include the tunnel boring machine used to drill into the bedrock for East Side Access and visually shift from earth to concrete as subway tunnels take shape. The most recent photograph, taken in February 2015, shows the massive curved space underneath Second Avenue that has become the 96 St Q subway line station as it awaits finishing touches. “You can feel history being made when you’re behind the lens deep beneath the street, surrounded by massive equipment and workers,” Cashin said. “It’s a great subject for a photographer, as I get to create a record of something that will become part of the life of the city for generations to come.” The exhibit was made possible with the generous support of Kodak Alaris and Duggal Visual Solutions. MTA Arts & Design’s Lightbox Program exhibits photography at four locations within the transit system: B, D, F and M Subway Lines at 42 St-Bryant Park; 4, 5, 6, 7, and S Subway Lines at Grand Central-42 St.; B, D, N, Q, R, 2, 3,4, and 5 Subway Lines at Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr; and 4 and 5 Subway Lines at Bowling Green. New artworks are installed annually at each location. (MTA - posted 4/10)

NJ TRANSIT CALLS FOR CONGRESS TO PASS LONG-TERM TRANSPORTATION FUNDING At NJ TRANSIT’s Market Street Bus Garage in Paterson, NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim today joined with federal and local officials, along with business and labor leaders, to call upon Congress to pass a long-term funding bill for transportation projects as part of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) nationwide “Stand Up for Transportation Day.” The current federal transportation bill is set to expire on May 31, 2015. Advocates have urged Congress to enact a new multi-year authorization bill that provides dedicated monies for the Highway Trust Fund. The Fund would be used to seed not only the current federal transit program but would also account for expansion to cover additional transit and highway infrastructure needs. Without a long-term federal transportation funding bill, as well as funding at all levels of government, projects across New Jersey, including projects like the $17.5 million refurbishing of the Market Street Bus Garage, face an uncertain future. “There are very real and damaging consequences if Congress fails to pass a long-term, federal transportation bill,” said Executive Director Hakim. “This facility, while fully funded, represents the type of initiative that would be susceptible to delay or cancellation should a long term funding agreement not be reached. Projects of this nature are a lifeline for communities and any delay in the work could have negative impacts in service to the surrounding area.” The Market Street Garage consists of two buildings: the old trolley barn, constructed in 1903, which serves as the bus storage area and also includes the fuel lanes, bus washer, and transportation offices; and the bus maintenance bay, constructed in 1945, containing the maintenance offices, boiler plant, and bus repair and inspection areas. The total area of the facility is 102,400 sq. ft. It serves as the home base of a total of 135 NJ TRANSIT and Suburban buses serving 17 bus lines in Passaic, Morris and Bergen counties. It is staffed by 75 maintenance employees, and 280 transportation employees. The Market Street Garage project, which includes accessibility improvements and replacement or rehabilitation of the building’s mechanical, electrical, structural, communications and security systems, is fully funded by the NJ Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). NJ TRANSIT has completed the design phase of the project and the construction is expected to be advertised for bid in the summer of 2015. Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), with support from national and local partners from transportation organizations, business and community-oriented interests, Stand Up for Transportation Day is uniting over 300 participating organizations in communities across the country to focus on the urgency of the passage of a long-term, federal transportation bill. (NJT - posted 4/10)

VIA RAIL RESUMES TRAIN SERVICE BETWEEN TORONTO AND WINNIPEG: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) announces that as of April 10, passenger rail service between Toronto and Winnipeg will resume. “As the summer approaches and with one more departure each way - starting May 1st and until mid-October - this news is very welcomed by our passengers, the travel industry and our employees” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail.
  • The next westbound departure out of Toronto (Train #1) will be on Saturday, April 11 at 10 p.m. The train will arrive in Winnipeg on Monday, April 13 and in Vancouver on Wednesday, April 15.
  • Passengers booked on the eastbound Canadian departing Vancouver (Train #2) on Friday, April 10 will arrive in Winnipeg on Sunday, April 12 and in Toronto on Tuesday, April 14.
VIA Rail is communicating with passengers who have reservations for April 11 and 14 departing from Toronto and April 10 departing from Vancouver. Passengers with later bookings in April and May on the Canadian will receive confirmation that the service has resumed between Winnipeg and Toronto. Delays may occur and VIA Rail will keep its passengers informed of any en route schedule changes. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 4/09)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 4, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 4, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 549,021 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 4, 2015 were 277,894 carloads, down 6.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 271,127 containers and trailers, up 3.8 percent compared to 2014. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 5.7 percent to 20,868 carloads; and forest products, up 2.3 percent to 11,215 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: coal, down 11.7 percent to 102,298 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 6.2 percent to 21,836 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 5.2 percent to 34,648 carloads. For the first 13 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,644,976 carloads, down 0.2 percent from the same point last year; and 3,289,725 intermodal units, up 0.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 13 weeks of 2015 was 6,934,701 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 4, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 370,042 carloads, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 340,265 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 710,307 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2015 was 9,043,491 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 77,920 carloads for the week, up 1.2 percent, and 61,736 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 13 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,766,813 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 7.9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 14,228 carloads for the week, down 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 7,402 intermodal units, down 25.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 13 weeks of 2015 was 341,977 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 4/09)

AMTRAK ANNOUNCES AMTRAK TRAIN DAYS TOUR AND EXHIBIT TRAIN LOCATIONS: Amtrak is partnering with NOOK by Barnes & Noble, Chuggington and others at select Amtrak Train Days (ATD) events taking place across the country this spring, summer and fall. These celebrations are occurring in more than twenty locations with the official kick-off event at Chicago Union Station on May 9, 2015. ATD events will feature various components of the Amtrak experience at each location (a dedicated tour of the Amtrak Exhibit Train in select markets, interactive displays, excursion trains and tours). ATD tour and Amtrak Exhibit Train stops through June include:
  • Railroad Days 2015 in Fullerton, Calif., May 2-3
  • Toledo Train Day, May 2
  • Official Amtrak Train Days Kick-Off at Chicago Union Station, May 9
  • Amtrak Train Days at Salem, Ore., Riverfront Park, May 16
  • Amtrak Train Days at California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, June 6 -7
  • Amtrak Train Days at Dunsmuir, Calif., Railroad Days, June 13
  • Amtrak Train Days at Galesburg, Ill., Railroad Festival, June 27- 28
The Amtrak and NOOK by Barnes & Noble partnership will create an enhanced travel experience by leveraging expert booksellers to curate a collection of free eBooks and e-magazines for Amtrak passengers – perfect for enjoying a comfortable train ride. Passengers will be thrilled to access bestselling titles from top publishers that have been customized to appeal to every reading preference, including classics, romances, mysteries, thrillers, children’s and business titles. To get ready for the Amtrak and NOOK promotion, you can install the free NOOK reading app today on your Android or iOS device by visiting www.NOOKapp.com. Chuggington, the sponsor of The Chuggington Kids Depot and Chuggington Live (at our Chicago kick-off event) joins Amtrak with train-themed kids’ activities based on the popular children’s animated television series, Chuggington, on Disney Junior. Other partners include Operation Lifesaver, Amtrak Vacations and local and state partner affiliates. This year, Amtrak is expanding its community program from multiple events on a single day to individual events over the course of the spring, summer and fall. Amtrak Train Days will focus on reaching current and new audiences across America to reinforce the importance, benefits and value of passenger train travel. Communities from across the nation are invited to join in the celebration of passenger train travel by hosting their own ATD events during 2015. To register an event, find additional tour stops or for more information about ATD, visit AmtrakTrainDays.com. Amtrak Train Days 2015 Sweepstakes is running from May 9 –November 30. One Grand Prize winner will win a trip for four people courtesy of Amtrak Vacations, one Chuggington Prize Pack and a Walthers Model Train Set. Winners will be chosen on December 1, 2015. (Amtrak - posted 4/08)

US DOT SECRETARY FOXX ANNOUNCES $500 MILLION IN SEVENTH ROUND OF TIGER FUNDING: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that $500 million will be made available for transportation projects across the country under a seventh round of the highly successful U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program. TIGER 2015 discretionary grants will fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a region, or metropolitan area. The TIGER 2015 grant program will continue to make transformative surface transportation investments by providing significant and measurable improvements over existing conditions. The grant program will focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for disconnected both urban and rural, while emphasizing improved connection to employment, education, services and other opportunities, workforce development, or community revitalization. For information on the 2015 TIGER summit, please click here.. (US DOT - posted 4/06)

AAR REPORTS TRAFFIC FOR MARCH AND FOR WEEK ENDING MARCH 28, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for March 2015 and first three months of 2015. Carload traffic in March totaled 1,117,029 carloads, down 3.4 percent or 39,793 carloads from March 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,084,136 containers and trailers in March 2015, up 5.7 percent or 58,161 units from the same month last year. For March 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,201,165, up 0.8 percent or 18,368 carloads and intermodal units over March 2014. The weekly average of 550,291 carloads and intermodal units was the most for March since 2007, prior to the start of the last recession, and 21.5 percent higher than the weekly average in March 2009. In March 2015, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with March 2014. This included grain, up 10.9 percent or 8,896 carloads; metallic ores, up 19.1 percent or 3,377 carloads; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 1.8 percent or 1,481 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in March 2015 from March 2014 included coal, down 6.9 percent or 31,205 carloads; primary metal products, down 16.2 percent or 6,756 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 7 percent or 4,170 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were down 1.2 percent or 8,588 carloads in March 2015 from March 2014 and when both coal and grain are excluded, U.S. carloads were down 2.8 percent or 17,484 carloads last month. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first three months of 2015 was 3,367,082 carloads, up 0.3 percent or 10,345 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 3,018,598 units, up 0.1 percent or 2,435 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first quarter of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 6,385,680 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent or 12,780 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year. "Like other key economic indicators, rail traffic is presenting a mixed message," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "Rail intermodal traffic rebounded well in March, but many carload commodities did not. Coal is facing a number headwinds. There are risks going forward, to be sure, but for now we see no reason to think that the economy won't continue its recent pattern of relatively modest growth." Week Ending March 28, 2015 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending March 28, 2015 was 563,280 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 284,935 carloads, down 5.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,345 containers and trailers, up 5 percent compared to 2014. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR each week posted increases compared with the same week in 2014, grain, up 3.5 percent to 22,776 carloads; and farm products, up 2.3 percent to 17,454 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases for this one week compared with the same week in 2014 were led by metallic ores and metals, down 12.6 percent to 21,195 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 10.9 percent to 13,788 carloads; and coal, down 9.1 percent to 106,484 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending March 28, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 384,692 carloads, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 352,189 intermodal units, up 6.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 736,881 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 12 weeks of 2015 was 8,333,184 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 82,074 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 63,365 intermodal units, up 13.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 12 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,627,157 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.4 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,683 carloads for the week, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,479 intermodal units, up 9.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 12 weeks of 2015 was 320,347 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 4/06)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN LAUNCHES $53 MILLION ENERGY INNOVATION PROJECT AT JUNIATA LOCOMOTIVE SHOP: Norfolk Southern (NSC) today launched a $53-million energy conversion project at its Juniata Locomotive Shop that will substantially reduce carbon emissions and water usage at the 70-acre facility. Norfolk Southern will replace the shop's coal boilers with natural gas heaters and install a 1.2-megawatt capacity combined heat and power generator that will produce enough electricity to sustain the entire 16-building complex. When completed in late 2017, Norfolk Southern expects the improvements to save about $4 million in electricity costs, reduce water usage by 49.4 million gallons from steam-water recovery, and eliminate more than 29,000 tons of carbon emissions in Pennsylvania on an annual basis. The project goes beyond equipment changes to include adding insulation, energy-efficient windows at key locations, high-speed roll-up doors on locomotive bays, and replacing roofing to ensure the full sustainability benefits of the investment are realized. The project follows a comprehensive review of work demands and energy consumption at Juniata, the largest locomotive repair shop in North America and headquarters for Norfolk Southern's locomotive rebuild program. The facility has about 1,050 employees who specialize in heavy repairs and engine overhauls. "This project showcases Norfolk Southern's commitment to sustainability and innovation," said CEO Wick Moorman. "The Juniata Locomotive Shop has a 125-year legacy of leading the rail industry in locomotive technology, and with our energy conversion project, this shop and its employees will remain an industry frontrunner in the 21st century." "I applaud Norfolk Southern's commitment to innovation and growth for the rail industry in Blair County and across the country," said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "The Juniata Locomotive Shop has been operating for over 100 years in Central Pennsylvania, and this latest investment helps solidify its continued role in growing this nation through our railroads." State Sen. Jon Eichelberger; state Rep. John McGinnis; Jim Frank, district director for Congressman Bill Shuster; and Blair Wimbush, NS vice president real estate and corporate sustainability officer, also participated in the project launch The Juniata Locomotive Shop has provided good-paying job opportunities for the citizens of Blair County and surrounding counties for generations," said Dennis Davin, acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. "This significant investment by Norfolk Southern in energy efficiency will help ensure that this facility remains competitive." "This is an important announcement by Norfolk Southern in many respects," said state Sen. John Eichelberger. "They are again demonstrating their long-term commitment to the Juniata shops, which is a vital part of our region's economy, and by converting to cleaner-burning natural gas, they are helping our Commonwealth's burgeoning drilling industry." ( Norfolk Southern - posted 3/27)

KEOLIS ANNOUNCES FULL RESTORATION OF MBTA BOSTON AREA COMMUTER RAIL SERVICE ON MARCH 30: Keolis Commuter Service today announced that regular weekday service for MBTA Commuter Rail would be fully restored on Monday, March 30, with the number of seats available to passengers returning to pre-storm levels. The commuter rail system has been operating on a limited schedule for the past month after a series of record-setting winter storms dropped more than 100 inches of snow on the Boston area, causing damage to the railroad infrastructure and to the locomotive fleet. "On behalf of the entire Keolis team, I want to thank our passengers and this community for bearing with us as we have worked day and night over the past month to restore the commuter rail service," said Keolis Commuter Services General Manager Gerald C. Francis. "We know the service interruptions have caused hardships for our passengers and we want this community to know that we are doing everything in our power to regain their trust by providing a service that is safe and reliable, and to communicate better when issues arise that impact schedules." In the wake of the storms, 23 of the 65 locomotives needed to run regular weekday service were disabled when their traction motors were damaged by snow and ice. In just three weeks, a total of 67 traction motors failed. By comparison, about 20 traction motors would be expected to fail during an entire "normal" winter. Weekend schedules have remained at full service throughout the recovery. (Keolis - posted 3/26)

SEPTA WILL NOT APPEAL RECENT RULING REGARDING CONTROVERSIAL ADS: A federal court judge presiding over a dispute between SEPTA and a group seeking to purchase advertising space on SEPTA vehicles has ruled that SEPTA must accept the ads, even if they contain messages that may be disparaging to riders and SEPTA employees. After careful consideration, SEPTA has decided not to appeal this ruling. Our policy was revised in October 2014 to allow the Authority to reject these types of ads without violating the First Amendment. However, this policy change was made after the American Freedom Defense Initiative's (AFDI) initial request to purchase advertising space and is not applicable in the matter. Consequently, AFDI has executed a contact with SEPTA's advertising management agency, Titan, to purchase advertising space on the side panel of 84 SEPTA buses. The ads will contain what some may view as anti-Muslim messages. These vehicles will be placed in normal inventory rotation throughout the SEPTA service area. The ads will begin appearing on vehicles during the first week of April for a four-week period. "We understand that our decision to not file an appeal will be disappointing to those who will be forced to view the disparaging ads," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "We are aware that the presence of the ads could anger the public, but caution that attempts to vandalize the ads or deface SEPTA vehicles will not be tolerated." Abby Stamelman Hocky, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia said, "Ads like these violate our values, even if the judge ruled they do not violate the law. We applaud SEPTA for its efforts to restrict the placement of the controversial ads." The Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia has chosen SEPTA as a co-recipient of its annual "Dare to Understand" award, to be presented April 29, at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. SEPTA regrets any discomfort that may be caused from viewing these controversial messages during the weeks they will be displayed. (SEPTA - posted 3/26)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S 2014 ANNUAL REPORT: Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC) today posted its 2014 Annual Report online, . highlighting record-setting net income, revenues, operating income, earnings per share, and operating ratio. The annual report, titled, "Behind Every Train," includes a letter from CEO Wick Moorman that focuses on the people, equipment, and infrastructure supporting the company's financial and operational achievements. "2014 was an outstanding year for Norfolk Southern," Moorman said. "Our performance during the year demonstrated the increasing demand for our services, the growing value of freight rail transportation in the marketplace, and Norfolk Southern's progress in enhancing service to meet the needs of customers and create long-term value for shareholders." Moorman said, "As business began to rise dramatically following the difficult winter, we invested significant resources to align our people, equipment, and rail capacity with the volumes we were experiencing on the network." The company hired 1,344 train and engine employees during 2014 and placed into service 169 locomotives. "We also initiated several infrastructure projects in the Chicago and upper Midwest areas to add capacity and operating flexibility," Moorman said. "We remain committed to our proven strategy of operating an efficient, high-velocity railroad, which enables us to offer the best possible customer service and retain and grow business at rates that provide a superior return for our shareholders," Moorman said. To request a copy of the 2014 Annual Report, call 800-531-6757, email annualreport@nscorp.com, or write to Norfolk Southern Corp., Corporate Communications Department, Three Commercial Place, Norfolk, Va. 23510-9217. (NS - posted 3/25)

SEPTA UNVEILS 15TH STREET STATION RENOVATION PROJECT RENDERINGS: Members of SEPTA's Design Team are scheduled to greet morning commuters at 15th Street Station on Wednesday, March 25th , with handouts and displays revealing brand-new renderings of the upcoming 15th Street Station Accessibility Project. Three project information boards will remain posted at the station for passengers to examine. Utilizing funding received through Pennsylvania's new transportation funding law, ACT 89, SEPTA plans to begin a total renovation of the 15th Street Station in late 2016. "Once completed, the station will be more user-friendly, accessible to all users, safer, easier to maintain, and in compliance with all applicable codes," said SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeffery D. Knueppel. The capital project, budgeted at $20 Million Dollars will:
  • Provide full access for riders with disabilities through new elevators and ramps to all levels of the station complex. New and wider ramped corridors connecting the station to the Broad Street Line will also be constructed.
    • Improved passenger flow will be achieved with new and reconfigured fare lines, outfitted with new technology for the SEPTA Key Program in addition to new stairs and railings. Renovations will also provide more open area on the 15th Street Mezzanine and on the station platforms.
      • Update Station Interiors and Systems including new architectural finishes, new signage, an Art-In-Transit installation, new lighting, additional public address systems, closed-circuit TV improvements and other passenger amenities.
      SEPTA will continue to engage the public throughout the design process to provide information about the project and to hear feedback. These efforts will include information booths set up at the station and a future public meeting. Passengers, Neighbors, and others interested in learning more about upcoming public events or with any questions, concerns or comments regarding this project should contact SEPTA City Hall Renovations c/o Patricia Miller Evans, Government and Public Affairs at pmillerevans@septa.org or by phone at 215-580-3609. Visual project renderings are attached to this release. Additional information about this project and SEPTA's system-wide "Rebuilding for the Future" program is available at www.septa.org/rebuilding.. (SEPTA - posted 3/25)

      AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 21, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Mar. 21, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 562,472 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Mar. 21, 2015 were 284,618 carloads, down 2.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 277,854 containers and trailers, up 6.7 percent compared to 2014. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 21.9 percent to 24,087 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 3.1 percent to 18,765 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 1.4 percent to 34,230 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: metallic ores and metals, down 11 percent to 21,049 carloads; coal, down 6.7 percent to 105,987 carloads; and forest products, down 5.7 percent to 10,628 carloads. For the first 11 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,082,147 carloads, up 0.9 percent from the same point last year; and 2,740,253 intermodal units, down 0.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 11 weeks of 2015 was 5,822,400 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Mar. 21, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 378,342 carloads, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 344,995 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 723,337 carloads and intermodal units, up 2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 11 weeks of 2015 was 7,596,303 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 78,145 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 58,405 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 11 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,481,718 carloads, intermodal containers and trailers, up 8.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 15,579 carloads for the week, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 8,736 intermodal units, down 6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 11 weeks of 2015 was 292,185 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/25)

      FIRST AMTRAK CAF BAGGAGE CAR ENTERS REVENUE SERVICE: Amtrak's new CAF baggage cars have entered revenue service. The first CAF baggage car in revenue service was the 61012, placed as the next to last car (Heritage baggage car 1710 was trailing) on March 23's Miami to New York "Silver Meteor" (train 98). With a number of new baggage cars being staged at various crew bases for training/familiarization, additional CAF will likely soon enter service. (Andy Kirk - posted 3/24)

      ALL ABOARD FLORIDA'S MIAMICENTRAL: All Aboard Florida has hired The Vailon Group to implement the company’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program in Miami-Dade County. The Miami-based consulting firm, well known for its advocacy on behalf of small businesses, will work with Suffolk Construction, the passenger-rail company’s general contractor that is building its MiamiCentral train station, to ensure that local subcontractors and area workers are included in the project’s construction. When completed in 2017, the nation’s first privately funded, express passenger-rail system will connect Miami to Orlando with intermediate stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The 235-mile rail-and-infrastructure project is expected to create 10,000 jobs along the rail corridor. MiamiCentral is estimated to generate 457 jobs during construction, and 408 positions when the station is fully operational. The county will realize $1.3 billion in economic benefits during the station’s construction-and- implementation phase. “The Vailon Group has a proven track record of advocacy supporting local workers and businesses,” said All Aboard Florida Executive Vice President of Development and Construction Scott Sanders. “Our partnership with The Vailon Group will focus on opening up more opportunities and making them more accessible for residents and small-business owners in our community.” Marsha E. Jackman, the county’s head of Business Development for more than a decade, launched The Vailon Group in 2007 to help businesses in South Florida diversify and expand their reach into local communities. The firm’s clients include the city of Miami; Port of Miami Tunnel Project; Wexford Science, developer of University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park; Resorts World Miami and Sun Life Stadium. “All Aboard Florida is creating an innovative and transformational rail-infrastructure system and is committed to creating jobs in those areas surrounding the project, including Overtown, the city of Miami, and Miami-Dade County,” said Jackman, president of The Vailon Group.” “What is exciting and already apparent is the company’s level of commitment to hiring locally, and to reaching out to and forging long-lasting relationships with small and local businesses. Our firm’s role will be to assist the company achieve these goals and to synergize the community through this engagement.” MiamiCentral will be the flagship train station in the All Aboard Florida rail network. The mixed-use residential, office and commercial complex will encompass nearly 3 million square feet comprised of a nine-acre multi-modal hub in downtown Miami just east of Miami-Dade County Hall, and a two-acre site in Historic Overtown. The hub will connect residents, office workers, visitors and All Aboard Florida passengers with Miami’s public transit systems and proposed Tri-Rail Downtown Miami Link. The Overtown structure will include parking to support the transportation center. The new passenger-rail trains will arrive and depart MiamiCentral on elevated tracks 50 feet off the ground. A pedestrian-friendly concourse of specialty shops and eateries will be at street level below the train platform. This innovative design will allows through-streets to remain open to traffic. (Florida East Coast Industries - posted 3/24)

      NEWARK PENN STATION TURNS 80: Today, Newark Penn Station, the gateway for New Jersey rail travel throughout the region, turned 80 years old and NJ TRANSIT hosted a huge community celebration in its honor. NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim and NJ TRANSIT representatives were joined by elected officials, customers and community members for the festivities. “Newark Penn Station has played a vital role in New Jersey’s public transportation and mass transit system since its doors first opened,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox. “It is as important to our state’s commuters today as it was eighty years ago. We will continue to invest in public transportation and ensure that Newark Penn Station remains a prominent part of the tri-states’ transportation network for another eighty years.” “This is a welcomed opportunity to celebrate all that rail service has meant to this busy travel corridor which serves as the gateway into the City of Newark and its vibrant business district,” said Executive Director Hakim. “Newark Penn Station represents a rich history of transportation innovation over the last 80 years building upon its roots as an intermodal hub and evolving to embrace the advent of modern technology in order to best serve the needs of our customers.” In addition to a speaking program, events in the Main Waiting Room featured two, 30-45 minute tours of the station, and music provided by the Newark Arts High School Jazz Ensemble as well as participants in the NJ TRANSIT Music in Motion program. Also, customers were treated to giveaways and sweepstakes from our partners including NJPAC, Ironbound IBID, the Newark Museum and the Greater Newark Convention and Visitor Bureau. As a special feature, the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center provided two historic buses on display outside of the station on Plaza West opposite the Hilton Hotel for viewing. Opened in 1935, Newark Penn Station is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The station was originally designed and still operates as an intermodal facility serving pedestrian, taxi, bus and private vehicle traffic generated by the more than 50,000 transit customers who use the station each day. The first section of NPS opened on March 23, 1935. The first regularly scheduled train to use the station — a New York to Philadelphia express train — did not pick up passengers until the following morning; the bus lanes and taxi area also opened March 24, 1935. The final phase of the station opened in 1937 when projects to extend the Newark City Subway (now Newark Light Rail) and Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (now PATH) to NPS were completed, greatly increasing transportation options for regional commuters. (NJ Transit - posted 3/23)

      CN CONTINUES MAJOR REHABILITATION WORK ON QUEBEC BRIDGE: CN today announced its annual major work program for the Quebec Bridge. The cost of the work to be undertaken in 2015 is estimated at C$7 million , bringing the total investment in the bridge since 2013 to C$17 million . CN plans to invest up to C$95 million over 10 years to ensure the safety and long-term viability of the Quebec Bridge. The work is part of the major work program that CN and the Ministère des transports du Québec (MTQ) agreed upon in 2013 following a thorough inspection of the entire bridge by engineering firm Roche. The agreement reflects the dual purpose of the bridge and takes into account the fact that the bridge will mainly be used for road traffic. In addition to providing for major investments, the agreement also outlines up-to-date road surface design and management best practices. The MTQ has indicated it intends to replace the entire roadway deck over the next few years. The new deck, which is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, will feature improvements mandated under the agreement, including an improved drainage system allowing de-icing salt-contaminated water to drain off to prevent wear and extend the life of the bridge. MTQ's investments are in addition to those made under the major rehabilitation program in partnership with CN. Claude Mongeau , president and chief executive officer of CN, said: "CN has been investing heavily in the Quebec Bridge for over a century to extend its life even though it has been used less and less for rail traffic. The major rehabilitation program, which covers the 2015 program announced today, confirms CN's ongoing commitment to preserve a strategic piece of infrastructure for Quebec City ." ( CN - posted 3/23)

      IMPROVEMENTS FOR MBTA COMMUTER RAIL AND THE GREEN LINE MBTA interim General Manager Frank DePaola announced that Commuter Rail CharlieCards for monthly pass holders are now available.General Manager DePaola says CharlieCards with monthly passes printed on them are available for Corporate Pass Program participants and customers who make monthly pass purchases on the MBTA website. The CharlieCard monthly passes replace paper tickets, which are not as durable as the plastic smartcards. Commuter Rail passes purchased by vending machines or at sales offices will continue to be delivered in ticket form. The MBTA in January began testing of the CharlieCards printed with a monthly commuter rail pass. General Manager DePaola said the pilot program received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers. The CharlieCard commuter rail passes are used as 'flash passes' on board commuter rail trains and then used like any other CharlieCard for bus and subway service. Commuter rail customers are encouraged to visit MBTA Commuter Rail Fares and Passes online to purchase an April commuter rail pass. It was also announced today that the refurbished Green Line trolleys have started to make their way back to Boston, following significant work at the Alstom plant in New York. "This is a great first step toward improving service on the Green Line," said General Manager DePaola. "As these cars are re-introduced to the fleet, customers will notice gradual improvements in capacity and reliability."The Green Line Type 7 fleet includes 86 Light Rail Vehicles which entered service in 1986 and 1987 and are nearing the end of their intended design life. Each car's systems require significant work to restore them from a deteriorated condition or complete replacement to ensure the vehicles can continue to provide safe and reliable operation. The $104.4 million project includes preserving the integrity of the vehicle structure, roof, and exterior and improving the reliability of the fleet. Systems are being replaced or upgraded while others are being overhauled. Some of the improvements include a replacement in the upgraded design HVAC, auxiliary lighting, flooring, seating, and insulation. The overhaul work addresses the structure, roof, exterior skin, door system, brake equipment, trucks, and propulsion. All refurbished cars are inspected, cleaned and subjected to extensive testing prior to being returned to service. The first car will enter passenger service in early April. The current refurbishment schedule calls for approximately half of the 86 trolleys to be returned to service by next winter, and the other half by the end of 2016. (MBTA - posted 3/23)

      CSX CONTRIBUTES GRANT TO ENHANCE VIRGINIA HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRAINING FACILITY: As CSX continues its commitment to first responder preparation, the company today presented a $25,000 grant to the Hazardous Materials/CBRNE Training Facility in York County, Va., to enhance training for Virginia’s fire fighters and other responders. Grant funds will be used to purchase equipment to expand and improve the existing training facility’s rail related hazardous materials capabilities including enhancing current and future railcar props; installing lighting and electrical connections to facilitate night training; expanding the classrooms to accommodate larger groups; and sustaining the facility with continued maintenance. “An emergency response team’s ability is significantly strengthened when there is an opportunity to train in real life scenarios and work in situations relevant to today’s emergency response community,” said Chris Sadler, Assistant Chief, York County Department of Fire and Life Safety. “With this grant, the training facility can continue to provide state-of-the-art emergency response training for the Commonwealth's emergency responders.” The Hazardous Materials/CBRNE Training Facility provides hands-on training opportunities for first responders on how to handle hazardous materials, particularly in the area of rail hazardous materials incident response. Its operations are supported by a partnership between the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Association of Hazardous Materials Response Specialists, and York County Department of Fire and Life Safety. CSX previously donated to the facility in 2011. “CSX and first responders share a critical responsibility to protect Virginia’s communities,” said Romano De Simone, Director Hazardous Materials. “Safety is our first priority, and we work to create educational, hands-on opportunities that help our responding partners be well prepared to make the best, fact-based decisions in the event of a railroad incident.” The grant is part of CSX’s expanded safety training outreach to first responders and emergency personnel, which also includes the CSX Safety Train: Energy Preparedness Program that has trained more than 2,000 first responders from more than 350 organizations in 18 cities to date. CSX also launched the industry’s first mobile application to share information about train and cargo information with first responders in the event of an incident. First responders interested in accessing the mobile application should contact 1-877-TELL-CSX. (CSX, Alex Mayes, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/20)

      NEWARK PENN STATION'S 80TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: NJ Transit will be hosting Newark Penn Station's 80th Anniversary Celebration on Monday, March 23, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. From 9:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center – Historical Bus Display, in front of Newark Penn Station, on Raymond Plaza West. Buses on display will include:
      • M720 is a GMC TDM-5108 40-foot suburban bus built in 1958
      • L627 is a General Motors PD 4104 35-foot cruiser bus built in 1957
      Several musical performances are scheduled including:
      • 10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. - Brian Miguel
      • 11:20 – 11:50 a.m. Rachel Menconi
      • 12:00 p.m. – 12:20 p.m. - Susyn Timko
      • Newark Arts High School Jazz Ensemble: Performances will be 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
      At 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. tours will be hosted. Each tour will be 35-35 minutes long. Attendees are to meet at the the Information Booth. These tours will include:
      • Recap the History of the Station and Pennsylvania Railroad
      • Highlight Architectural Design Features (lower the 800lb. Globe to see the detailed metalwork)
      • Tour of the Concourses
      • Bus and Light Rail Connections
      • Platform E Rehabilitation and Future CP&P Projects
      • Q&A
      A speaking program will be held at 1:30 p.m. and the conclusion of festivities is at 3:00 p.m. (NJ Transit - posted 3/19)

      NJT GLADSTONE BRANCH WEEKEND SUBSTITUTE BUS SERVICE: Beginning Sunday, March 22 and continuing through fall, NJ TRANSIT will perform work on the power supply system between Gladstone and Summit stations as well as other work on the Gladstone Branch. During this time, substitute bus service will be provided by Lakeland Bus Company between Gladstone and Summit on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays except as noted below:
      • Friday, July 3 (Independence Day observed): An enhanced weekend schedule will be in effect and rail service will operate on the Gladstone Branch.
      • Saturday October 17 (Far Hills’ Steeplechase): A special schedule will be in effect with both train and bus service.
      • Traveling to locations on the Gladstone Branch: Upon arrival at Summit, customers continuing to stations along the Gladstone Branch will transfer to ADA-accessible buses located on the Railroad Avenue side of the station (exit near the ticket office and restroom). Passengers should show their train ticket and/or seat check to the bus operator when boarding.
      • Traveling from locations on the Gladstone Branch: Passengers will be bused to Summit. Two ADA-accessible buses will operate—one serving Murray Hill and New Providence stations and a second making all other stops. When boarding, passengers should show their rail ticket to the bus operator. For bus boarding times, please visit www.njtransit.com or review the revised Morris & Essex Line timetable (dated November 9, 2014 and revised March 22, 2015), which will be available on trains, atstations and at Customer Service office on or about March 12.
      IMPORTANT: Revised timetables will take effect March 22. Please carefully review bus departure times and boarding locations in the new timetable. View schedule HERE. (NJ Transit - posted 3/19)

      NS EXPANDS ITS RAILROAD UNIVERSITY OPERATIONS TRAINING CENTER TO BETTER EQUIP GRADUATES FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE: Norfolk Southern Corporation today held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion of its “Railroad University” and redoubled its commitment to superior transportation services for its present and future rail customers. “This facility is all about investing in our people,” CEO Wick Moorman said. “The better we equip and train our conductors, engineers, and other craft and supervisory employees to do their jobs safely and efficiently, the more opportunity we have to achieve and surpass the level of service our customers expect and that we commit to provide.” Moorman, President Jim Squires, Executive Vice President Administration Cindy Earhart, and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Manion were among the first to tour a newly constructed building on the center’s campus at McDonough, Ga., just south of Atlanta. The two-story expansion effectively doubles the training center’s classroom space, from 27,000 to 50,000 square feet. Today, even as some of the training center’s 21 staff members hosted tours in the new building, others provided instruction for close to 400 employees next door. The number of students could grow to 900 in the near future as the new building is occupied. Employees in the new space will receive enhanced technology-enabled interactive instruction, including use of tablets, touch screens, and simulation training. “After their classroom and practical experiences at the training center, employees go on assignment with the tools and perspective to make immediate contributions to the success of a 21st century railroad and the customers and communities that depend on us,” said Dominik Browne, manager of the facility. When it opened in December 1974, the center was the rail industry’s first dedicated facility for training and educating employees and quickly was dubbed “RRU” or “Railroad University.” Over the last 40 years, the career path for Norfolk Southern conductors, engineers, track and signal workers, and others has gone through McDonough and on to field locations throughout the company’s 22-state rail network. Prior expansions at McDonough included classroom space for supervisory and management courses in addition to technical training. Outside, 4 miles of track and a four-track rail yard complete with rolling stock give students opportunity to take their classroom instruction into a real operating environment. (Norfolk Southern - posted 3/18)

      AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 14, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Mar. 14, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 553,031 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Mar. 14, 2015 were 278,856 carloads, down 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 274,175 containers and trailers, up 7 percent compared to 2014. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They were: grain, up 7.8 percent to 22,771 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 16.7 percent to7,979 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: petroleum and petroleum producers, down 11.1 percent to 12,724 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 7.8 percent to 20,592 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 6.4 percent to 31,724 carloads. For the first 10 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,797,529 carloads, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year; and 2,462,399 intermodal units, down 1.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 10 weeks of 2015 was 5,259,928 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Mar. 14, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 374,693 carloads, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 344,030 intermodal units, up 8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 718,723 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 10 weeks of 2015 was 6,872,966 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 79,425 carloads for the week, up 8.3 percent, and 58,541 intermodal units, up 12.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 10 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,345,168 carloads, intermodal containers and trailers, up 9.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,362 carloads for the week, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,314 intermodal units, up 12.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 10 weeks of 2015 was 267,870 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.8 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/18)

      CN TO BUILD NEW INTERMODAL AND LOGISTICS HUB IN MILTON, ONT., WEST OF TORONTO: CN announced today a plan to build a C$250-million intermodal and logistics hub adjacent to its main line in the Town of Milton, Ont. , located approximately 30 miles west of Toronto . Milton has ready access to major highways reaching key industrial and commercial areas in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "CN's advanced intermodal and logistics facility in Milton will help us efficiently handle growing intermodal traffic. The new hub will benefit our customers and the regional economy by improving central Canada's access to the key transborder market as well as the Pacific and Atlantic coast trade gateways we serve, generating new supply chain efficiencies in the GTHA, and creating well-paying local jobs." CN's intermodal business -- principally containerized international and domestic cargo moving in cooperation with trucks and ocean-going ships -- is one of the company's fastest growing business segments and its largest single business unit with 2014 revenues of more than C$2.7 billion . The new Milton facility will complement Brampton Intermodal Terminal (BIT), CN's existing Toronto -area intermodal terminal in Brampton, Ont. BIT, which is nearing capacity, but will continue to operate for the long term.
      • CN believes the new intermodal and logistics hub will generate specific supply chain benefits in the GTHA by: Facilitating logistics development in Milton and the Regional Municipality of Halton, the facility is expected to attract more warehousing distribution centres (DCs) and associated employment -- new DCs have opened near Milton in recent years owing to land availability and good access to the highway system;
      • Supplying additional intermodal capacity and container availability for exporters located in the southwest area of the GTHA,
      • Creating more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in Milton and Halton Region.
      CN will submit a complete project description of the planned Milton hub to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for review. Mongeau said: "CN is committed to a comprehensive engagement process with the community at every step of this project in Milton ." (CN - posted 3/17)

      GREENBRIER ANNOUNCES ORDERS FOR 10,100 RAILCARS VALUSED AT $1.09 BILLION: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. announced today that it received new orders in its second quarter ended February 28, 2015 for 10,100 railcar units valued at $1.09 billion. Orders for the quarter include double stack intermodal cars, covered hopper cars primarily for grain transportation, refrigerated and insulated boxcars, gondolas and tank cars, both for transportation of crude oil and other commodity types. (These orders include 3,500 units valued at approximately $400 million received in December 2014 which Greenbrier previously disclosed on January 7, 2015.) William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO said, "Our strategy to diversify our product offerings, invest in efficient, flexible and lower cost facilities, and to drive more volume through our lease syndication and asset management business continues to pay off. Since the beginning of our fiscal year on September 1, 2014, we have received orders for 24,200 new railcar units valued at $2.33 billion, across multiple railcar types. Deliveries will extend beyond calendar 2016, with nearly 80% of these orders for railcars that serve non-energy related markets. Recent orders include a significant multi-year order, a testament to the positive outlook and strong industry fundamentals for the foreseeable future.""We anticipate the regulatory picture for tank cars transporting hazardous materials will be clarified with final US and Canadian government actions to occur no later than mid-May," Furman said. "We expect Greenbrier's Tank Car of the Future will be adopted as the new standard and an additional wave of new tank car orders and tank car retrofits will occur, regardless of oil prices." Furman concluded, "Our business is well-balanced, and our strong order book provides us good visibility through calendar 2016 and beyond. We remain committed to operational excellence in each of our businesses and enhancing the long-term trajectory of key metrics, including financial goals of at least 20% aggregate gross margin and 25% ROIC by the second half of fiscal 2016. We will continue to take a balanced approach to reinvesting in high rate of return projects in our core businesses, seeking acquisitions within our core competencies, and returning capital to shareholders." (Greenbrier - posted 3/17)

      ALLENTOWN & AUBURN RAILROAD TO OFFER EASTER TRAIN RIDES: The Allentown & Auburn Railroad will be operating Easter Train rides over the former Reading Railroad Kutztown Branch. On Saturday, March 28th; Sunday, March 29th; and Saturday, April 4th trains will be departing Kutztown, Pa. The station is located at 232-298 Railraod Street. On Saturdays, trains will operate every hour on the hour starting at 10:00 a.m. On Sunday, the first train is at 11:00 a.m. The last trip will be at 4:00 PM each day. Fare is Adults – $10, Child (age 3-11) $5, Child (under 3) free. Cash and Credit Cards accepted. For more information please, phone (570) 778-7531. Visit the railroad's website at http://allentownandauburnrr.com. (Kermit Geary Jr. - posted 3/16)

      LEAHY HAILS U.S.-CANADA PRE-CLEARANCE AGREEMENT THAT BRINGS CLOSER THE GOAL OF RESTORING VERMONT TO MONTREAL PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) says years of work on the goal of restoring passenger rail service between Vermont and Montreal took a major step forward Monday as the United States and Canada signed a long-awaited agreement designed to improve cross border travel and security between the two countries. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney signed a new pre-clearance agreement in Washington that was negotiated under the Beyond the Border Action Plan approved earlier by President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Pre-clearance facilities allow travelers to pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspections prior to traveling, permitting them to quickly move along to their destinations upon arrival in the United States. A new agreement has been needed before discussions and work on creating a pre-clearance facility at Montreal’s Central Station -- and re-establishing train service between Vermont and Montreal -- could happen. The agreement is also a positive step for improving the travel experience on the air service between Burlington International Airport and Toronto City Airport. Leahy, who has long pushed for a pre-clearance agreement, a prerequisite for restoring The Montrealer train service, said: “Vermonters and Quebeckers have a long, special and enduring relationship. Many families, like our own, have relatives and friends on both sides of our border. Marcelle was born in Newport, to parents who emigrated from Quebec. Vermont and Canada also are close partners in trade, commerce and tourism and as joint stewards of our shared communities. Both nations are striving to ensure that our border is secure. This agreement has long been a goal, and a dream, for Vermonters who have fond memories of rail trips to Montreal to enjoy all that its vibrant cultural capital has to offer. This is also a win for visitors from Canada’s largest cities who are eager to visit Vermont to ski, shop and dine. I commend Secretary Johnson and Minister Blaney for their commitment to forging this agreement that will greatly benefit the economies of our state and nation.” Leahy has worked with the Department of Homeland Security and many other partners over several years to restart passenger rail service between Vermont and Montreal. He has also sought to ease, expand and improve air service between Burlington International Airport and Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport. The United States currently stations CBP Officers in select locations in Canada to inspect passengers and cargo bound for the United States before they leave Canada. These operations relieve congestion at U.S. airports, improve commerce, save money, and provide national security benefits. Leahy is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which shares jurisdiction over CBP, and he serves on the Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee -- which oversees the Senate’s work on the annual DHS budget bill – and he is the most senior member of the Appropriations Committee overall. Amtrak’s Montrealer line used to run service between Washington, D.C., and Montreal, Quebec, serving nine Vermont stations along the way. That cross-border service ended in 1995, when St. Albans became the terminus for the new Vermonter train. Leahy has long worked to restore this service, and Governor Peter Shumlin has made it one of his administration’s top priorities. A key to restoring Amtrak service between Vermont and Montreal is the creation of a preclearance facility in Montreal’s Central Station. This would eliminate the need for the train to stop at the U.S. border to allow CBP officers to inspect passengers, a process that currently takes about an hour on the Amtrak’s Adirondack Line in New York. Today, air travelers from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport to Burlington International Airport must deplane and pass through customs at a separate facility before re-boarding the plane to be transported to the airport terminal. Leahy continues to work with CBP on proposals to establish preclearance operations at these Canadian travel hubs. (US Senator Patrick Leahy press release - posted 3/16)

      UNITED STATES AND CANADA SIGN PRECLEARANCE AGREEMENT: Consistent with the initiatives outlined in the 2011 Beyond the Border Action Plan, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney today signed the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada. This new agreement reaffirms the United States and Canada’s commitment to enhancing security while facilitating lawful travel and trade, and supersedes the existing U.S.-Canada Air Preclearance agreement signed in 2001. “After years of hard work and negotiations, today we have one of the most significant, visible, and anticipated products of the Beyond the Border initiative – a major achievement that will produce significant benefits for the United States and Canada,” said Secretary Johnson. “This agreement will help facilitate the legitimate trade and travel that keeps our economy thriving as we maintain utmost vigilance to the security of our borders. We remain committed to our deep partnership with Canada, a true ally, neighbor and friend of the United States.” “Our Government’s top priority remains creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians,” said Minister Blaney. “This historic new agreement builds on decades of successful preclearance operations in Canadian airports. It will enhance the security at our border and create jobs and growth in Canada by improving the flow of legitimate goods and people between our two countries.” This Preclearance agreement – allowing for the immigration, customs and agriculture inspections required for entry into either country to occur on foreign soil – will reduce congestion and delays at the border and increase efficiency and predictability in cross-border travel, tourism and transportation. The new agreement provides officials of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) with the requisite authorities and tools to conduct their border security, facilitation, and inspection processes in the other country. This agreement will:
      • Allow for the consideration of requests for new preclearance locations across all modes;
      • Enable exploration of co-location at small and remote ports, if desired;
      • Provide updates to the Air Preclearance Agreement to better reflect the post 9/11 operating environment, including policies and tools utilized at domestic ports of entry;
      • Enable Canada to request that the United States regularize existing U.S. immigration pre-inspection sites – for example at cruise, rail and ferry terminals in British Columbia;
      • Enhance authorities for preclearance officers including the ability to carry firearms, defensive tools, and restraint devices to the same extent that Host Party officers are permitted to carry in the relevant operating environments;
      • Address officer privileges and immunities through a shared jurisdictional framework in which the sending country may generally exercise primary criminal jurisdiction for acts committed by its officers in the performance of official duties in the Host country;
      • Retain the civil and administrative prosecutorial jurisdictions for preclearance officers provided for in the current Air Preclearance Agreement.
      Given the groundbreaking nature of the agreement, the United States and Canada must enact legislation for it to be implemented. The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act was introduced in the last Congress, and we are hopeful of its reintroduction in this Congress. Currently, the 2001 U.S.-Canada Air Transport Preclearance Agreement continues to apply. Preclearance is the process by which CBP Officers stationed abroad screen and make admissibility decisions about passengers and their accompanying goods or baggage heading to the United States before they leave a foreign port. CBP officers do, however, retain the authority to inspect passengers and their accompanying goods or baggage after arriving in the United States. CBP officers currently conduct preclearance operations at eight Canadian airports: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. This agreement achieves a key component of the Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan. On February 4, 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper released the Beyond the Border Declaration, articulating a shared vision in which our countries work together to address threats at the earliest point possible while facilitating the legitimate movement of people, goods and services across our shared border. The Action Plan outlines the specific steps our countries intend to take to achieve the security and economic competitiveness goals outlined in the Beyond the Border Declaration. (DHS, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/16)

      RECORD 10.8 BILLION TRIPS TAKEN ON U.S. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN 2014: Americans took 10.8 billion trips on public transportation in 2014, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 58 years, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). “In 2014, people took a record 10.8 billion trips on public transportation -- the highest annual ridership number in 58 years,” said Phillip Washington, APTA Chair and CEO & General Manager of the Regional Transportation District in Denver. “Some public transit systems experienced all-time record high ridership last year. This record ridership didn’t just happen in large cities. It also happened in small and medium size communities.” Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide were located in the following cities: Albany, NY; Boston, MA; Canton, OH; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Indianapolis, IN; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Olympia, WA; Orlando, FL; St. Petersburg, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Spokane, WA; Tampa, FL; and Wenatchee, WA. Noting that public transit ridership increased even when gas prices declined by 42.9 cents in the fourth quarter, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “Despite the steep decline in gas prices at the end of last year, public transit ridership increased. This shows that once people start riding public transit, they discover that there are additional benefits besides saving money.” “People are changing their travel behavior and want more travel options,” said Melaniphy. “In the past people had a binary choice. You either took public transit, most likely a bus, or you drove a car. Now there are multiple options with subways, light rail, streetcars, commuter trains, buses, ferries, cars and shared use vehicles.” Another reason behind the ridership increases is the economic recovery in certain areas. For example, Atlanta (GA), San Francisco (CA), Minneapolis (MN), Seattle (WA), and Champaign-Urbana (IL) were some cities that saw increased ridership in part because of an improved job market. “Since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, public transportation ridership increases are seen in areas where the local economy is growing,” said Melaniphy. “Expanded and improved public transit services also played a role in attracting more riders,” said Melaniphy. “For example, the transit agencies in Albany (NY), Denver (CO), Indianapolis (IN), Riverside (CA), and Salt Lake City (UT) saw increased ridership due to greater service.” From 1995-2014 public transit ridership increased by 39 percent, almost double the population growth, which was up 21 percent. The estimated growth of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was 25 percent. (It is estimated because the December VMT has not yet been posted by the Federal Highway Administration.) Pointing out that the current federal surface transportation bill expires on May 31, Melaniphy said, “The record ridership in 2014 is a clear message to Congress that the citizens of this country want expanded public transit services. Congress needs to work together now to pass a long-term, well-funded surface transportation bill that invests in our country’s public transit infrastructure. This is critical not only to the millions of Americans who use public transportation, but is also crucial for our country’s economic competitiveness.” 2014 Ridership Breakdown: Light rail (modern light rail, streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased 3.6 percent in 2014 with 16 out of 28 public transit systems reporting increases. Light rail in Minneapolis, MN showed a significant increases of 57.4 percent due to the opening of the METRO Green Line in Minneapolis. Light rail ridership in Oceanside, CA increased by 36.0 percent due to the system being shut down for several months in 2013. Four light rail systems saw double digit increases in 2014 in the following cities: Houston, TX (17.9%); San Diego, CA (15.3%); Denver, CO (12.0%); and Seattle, WA-Sound Transit (11.7%). Light rail ridership in the following cities also saw increases in 2014: San Francisco, CA (7.2%); Salt Lake City, UT (6.0%); Hampton, VA (5.4%); New Orleans, LA (5.3%); San Jose, CA (4.4%); Newark, NJ (3.4%); Dallas, TX (3.2%); and Charlotte, NC (3.1%). Heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) ridership increased by 3.3 percent across the country as 8 out of 15 public transit systems reported increases. Heavy rail systems with increases in ridership for 2014 were in the following cities: San Francisco, CA (6.1%); Boston, MA (4.9%); Chicago, IL (4.1%); New York, NY-MTA NYC Transit (4.0%); New York, NY-MTA Staten Island Railway (3.5%); Atlanta, GA (2.3%); and Miami, FL (2.1%). Nationally, commuter rail ridership increased by 2.9 percent in 2014 as 22 out of 28 public transit systems reported increases. Four commuter rail systems saw double digit increases in 2014 in the following cities: Salt Lake City, UT (16.2%); Stockton, CA (15.7%); Seattle, WA-Sound Transit (10.4%); and San Carlos, CA (10.1%). Ridership in the following cities also saw increases in 2014: Lewisville, TX (9.3%); Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX (6.9%); Newark, NJ (5.4%); Anchorage, AK (5.4%); Portland, OR (4.7%); Nashville, TN (4.4%); Boston, MA (3.5%); Oceanside, CA (3.5%); Oakland, CA (2.5%); and Baltimore, MD (2.2%). Bus ridership decreased nationally by 1.1 percent. However, in small and medium size population groups, bus ridership saw percentage increases of 2.0 and 0.5 respectively. The following cities showed the highest large bus ridership increases in 2014: Baltimore, MD (6.8%); Portland, OR (5.3%); Oakland, CA (4.2%); San Francisco, CA (3.9%); Columbus, OH (3.0%); Atlanta, GA (2.8%); San Diego, CA (2.4%); and Seattle, WA-King County DOT (2.0%). Demand response (paratransit) ridership increased in 2014 by 0.2 percent. Trolleybus ridership declined by 2.8 percent in 2014. (APTA - posted 3/13)

      FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION ISSUES DIRECTIVE TO REPLACE UNAPPROVED TANK CAR VALVES: The Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a Railworthiness Directive requiring railroad tank car owners to replace unapproved valves currently installed in some tank cars. The valves in question are UNNR ball valves manufactured and sold by McKenzie Valve & Machining LLC (McKenzie). Recent FRA investigations revealed that the valves were not approved for use on railroad tank cars. Additionally, the 3 inch ball valve, when not properly configured, is leading to tank cars leaking small quantities of hazardous materials. The problem was first discovered when multiple FRA investigations identified several railroad tank cars leaking small quantities of hazardous materials. One instance occurred during the week of January 11th and involved a train of 100 tank cars loaded with crude oil being transported by BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) from Tioga, North Dakota, to a refinery in Anacortes, Washington. BNSF discovered 14 tank cars leaking crude oil on the route. The FRA then inspected seven of the identified leaking tank cars that BNSF removed from the train in Vancouver, WA. The FRA inspector observed each of the tank car’s top fittings and found product leaking from the liquid line ball valves and around each valve’s closure plug. Further tests conducted by the FRA found that certain closure plugs installed on the 3” valves caused mechanical damage and led to the destruction of the valves’ seal integrity. In addition, testing found that when a 3" closure plug was applied and tightened in the 3" McKenzie valve, the plug contacted and damaged the ball. Further testing revealed that the application of downward force on the valve ball applied by the 3" plug resulted in the over-compression, damage, and misalignment of the inboard seal, causing the valve to leak. While additional tests conducted by FRA concluded that McKenzie 1” and 2” ball valves do not appear to present the same safety concerns as the 3” valves, they are not approved for use on railroad tank cars and must also be replaced. To date, FRA is not aware of any non-accident releases or other releases from railroad tank cars involving the 1" or 2" McKenzie valves. Federal regulations require all valves applied to tank cars must be of an approved design by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Tank Car Committee. FRA’s investigations demonstrate clear inconsistencies between the type of valve design that AAR approved versus the design of the valve actually being used, which raises questions about the approval process and a manufacturer’s adherence to an approved design type. The FRA will immediately begin working with AAR to commence a full audit of the Association’s process for approving tank car valves and other components in order to prevent incidents like this from occurring again. “Ensuring the safe transport of hazardous materials is a top priority for the Department of Transportation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I expect this audit to force a stricter adherence to the structures in place to keep our railways safe.” The Directive requires all tank car owners to remove, within 60 days, any 3” McKenzie UNNR ball valves in tank cars used to transport any hazardous material described in 49 CFR 172.101. Further, the Directive requires all tank car owners to remove the 1” and 2” valves within 90 days. The Directive requires tank car owners to replace the valves with valves approved for use on railroad tank cars. Since 2009, McKenzie sold approximately 11,200 of the 3” valves to a variety of tank car owners and tank car facilities. FRA estimates that approximately 6,000 DOT Specification 111 railroad tank cars are equipped with the unapproved 3" McKenzie UNNR valves. In addition, McKenzie indicates that it has sold more than 37,000 1" and 2" valves to a variety of tank car owners and tank car facilities. The removal and replacement of these valves are not expected to significantly disrupt freight rail traffic. Although the precise amount of hazardous materials released due to the use of these unapproved valves cannot be quantified, FRA investigations and subsequent testing have determined that only small amounts of hazardous materials could have escaped through the unapproved valves. “Any type of hazardous materials release, no matter how small, is completely unacceptable,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “The removal of these valves from service will help to reduce the number of non-accident hazardous materials releases.” After tank car owners have remove the unapproved valves on each affected tank car, and replaced and tested new components, they may once again use the tank cars to transport hazardous materials. Alternatively, if upon an adequate showing demonstrating the safety of the 1” and 2” valves, McKenzie obtains approval for the use of those valves on tank cars, cars equipped with these 1” or 2” McKenzie valves may be returned to hazardous materials service. (FRA - posted 3/13)

[ Home Page I Subscribe! I Photo Gallery I Interlocking I Railpace Store I Magazine Info I Contributions I Contact Us ]

Questions regarding this page can be directed to the
Webmaster, Paul Tupaczewski, at paultup@comcast.net.

Copyright 2000-2014, 2015 Railpace Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.