` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
May 24, 2018:

NORFOLK SOUTHERN AND NEW YORK DEDICATE NEW RAILROAD BRIDGE: Ushering in a modern era for freight rail in New York’s Southern Tier, Norfolk Southern and New York State officials, along with many supporters, today dedicated a new steel arch railroad bridge that spans the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Surrounded by scenic Letchworth State Park, the $75-million bridge expands freight rail capacity and economic opportunities for businesses and communities across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. Constructed through a public-private partnership, the single-track arch structure replaced a 19th-century-era bridge that restricted train speeds and rail car weights and had become a major transportation bottleneck. In recognition of a new beginning, Norfolk Southern CEO James A. Squires announced that the bridge, which spans the 235-foot-deep Genesee River Gorge, has been named the Genesee Arch Bridge. That name received the most votes during a bridge-naming campaign on social media. “The successful partnership we are here to celebrate demonstrates that big things can be accomplished when the private sector and the public sector work together to achieve common goals,” Squires said. “The new Genesee Arch Bridge is literally a bridge to the future. It represents our shared commitment to support jobs and economic growth that will benefit businesses and communities across New York for generations to come.” Norfolk Southern partnered on the project with the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, and the Federal Highway Administration. “This beautiful new rail bridge is going to help modernize freight rail service and improve the safety and reliability of this critical connection,” said New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas. “Gov. Andrew Cuomo is improving transportation infrastructure across New York State and this new bridge is an important step that will boost commerce in the region and across the state.” Located between Buffalo and Binghamton on the railroad’s Southern Tier Line, the 963-foot-long bridge connects New York businesses to markets in the Midwest and New England, trade with Canada, and access to New York City. After two years of construction, Norfolk Southern began operating trains in December over the new span, constructed 75 feet south of the former bridge. In addition to enhancing rail safety and operating efficiencies, the new span enables Norfolk Southern to transport rail cars loaded to the industry standard 286,000 pounds, an important benefit for shippers. The old iron truss bridge it replaced – built in 1875 by the Erie Railroad and unable to support modern freight rail needs – created supply-chain inefficiencies. Rail car weights had to be reduced 13,000 pounds below the standard, and train speed was restricted to 10 mph. Trains crossing the new bridge are operating at up to 30 mph with fully loaded cars. New York-based businesses benefitting include 10 short line railroads that service and connect local industries to Norfolk Southern’s network. Norfolk Southern transports freight across the Southern Tier for about 1,100 customers in more than 20 states. New York State funded $15.5 million for the bridge’s design and construction, including a $2 million grant from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and $13.5 million in state and federal funds through the New York State Department of Transportation. Norfolk Southern invested $59.5 million. The project qualified for funding through the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality improvement program, in recognition of freight rail’s environmental benefits of reduced carbon emissions compared with shipping goods by truck. “This modern engineering marvel demonstrates Norfolk Southern’s commitment to meet our customers’ transportation needs while being good stewards of the environment,” said Vice President Engineering Phil Merilli. “Only a few arch bridges of this type have been built by the rail industry in the past century, making this a truly unique experience.” Through the partnership, Norfolk Southern improved trails and public access to Letchworth State Park and preserved portions of the old bridge for use in historical exhibits. The new bridge’s arch design minimizes the railroad’s environmental footprint in the Genesee River and frames a striking view of the river gorge. “The completion of this new rail bridge complements the beauty of Letchworth State Park as park visitors will continue to marvel at one of the more impressive structures spanning the picturesque Genesee River gorge,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “I applaud Gov. Cuomo for taking the necessary actions that have resulted in a safer, more efficient rail bridge that will serve the Genesee and Finger Lakes communities for many years to come.” State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan said: “The dedication of the new Genesee Arch Bridge is a celebration of years of planning and hard work. We can all marvel at the ingenuity of the engineers who designed the bridge in such a way that it not only meets the transportation needs of the 21st century, it restores the Genesee River to its natural state and complements the beauty of Letchworth State Park. This new span will support the economy of the Southern Tier for years to come and is a symbol of our bright future.” (Norfolk Southern, Randy Kotuby posted 5/24)

SEPTA BOARD APPROVES FISCAL YEAR 2019 OPERATING & CAPITAL BUDGETS: The SEPTA Board today approved Operating and Capital budgets for Fiscal Year 2019, putting in place spending plans to cover everyday costs and improvement projects. Fiscal Year 2019 is the 12-month period that starts on July 1, 2018. The Board's approval comes after a series of public hearings were held this spring on both budget proposals. Those sessions were overseen by an independent hearing examiner.
  • Operating Budget: The $1.45 billion Operating Budget maintains current service levels, with no increase in fares for riders. SEPTA continues to implement measures to control operating costs, and that fiscal discipline has resulted in 18 consecutive years of balanced budgets. Overall fuel consumption has been reduced thanks to the Authority's commitment to replacing aging buses with more fuel efficient diesel-electric hybrids. In addition, costs for injuries and damages have gone down in recent years, due in large part to the increased role of video evidence from surveillance cameras.
  • Capital Budget: The FY 2019 Capital Budget and 12-Year Capital Program advances SEPTA's "Rebuilding the System" initiative, a comprehensive program to reinvest in the transit network throughout the region. The Authority embarked on this plan following the November 2013 passage of Act 89, which provides capital funds for transportation improvements throughout Pennsylvania. Under the $749.62 million Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Budget, SEPTA will advance initiatives to renew critical infrastructure, replace aging vehicles and make technology improvements.
The Operating and Capital budgets can be viewed and downloaded from SEPTA's website at http://www.septa.org/reports (SEPTA - posted 5/24)

ABRITRATION ON RAILROAD WORKERS HEALTH CARE: The National Railway Labor Conference announced today that an arbitration board has ruled that the pattern health care terms adopted by the freight railroads and nine of the other unions in national bargaining should apply to the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-Mechanical Division). The two unions had previously agreed to the other terms of the pattern agreement, which now covers 137,000 of the 145,000 employees in the current bargaining round. The Board further ordered a reduction in the retroactive pay of covered employees to cover the cost to the carriers of delay in the implementation of the pattern health care terms. "We are pleased the board recognized that the negotiated changes to health care should apply to these two unions as well, and that the costs to the carriers of implementation delay should be addressed" said A. Kenneth Gradia, Chairman of the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC), the bargaining representative for the railroads. "The award affirms the importance of consistent health care terms for freight rail employees and should lead to the resolution of negotiations with the remaining union." BMWE and SMART-Mechanical Division represent more than 28,000 employees in this bargaining round. The following unions previously concluded negotiations with the railroads:
  • American Train Dispatchers Association
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
  • Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
  • Brotherhood Railway Carmen
  • International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers - Transportation Division including Yardmasters
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Blacksmiths, Iron Ship Builders, Forgers and Helpers
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • National Conference of Firemen and Oilers
  • Transportation Communications International Union
The railroads remain in mediation with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents about 5 percent of the employees in this bargaining round. The NCCC, a committee of the National Railway Labor Conference, represents more than 30 railroads, including BNSF, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, in national bargaining with the twelve rail unions. (Randy Kotuby- posted 5/24)

PANAM ISSUES PRESS RELEASE ON TRUMP TAX SAVINGS: In an effort to highlight the benefits of the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ("TCJA"), Pan Am Systems, Inc.* is pleased to announce that it will be issuing a one-time bonus of $1,100.00 to each employee of the company and its subsidiaries, effective today. This bonus is intended to; (a) acknowledge the importance of our employees; and (b) provide those employees with additional compensation to use as they elect. As noted by the President, the TCJA is intended to make resources available for investment by businesses that will have downstream effects of expanding and creating wealth among all citizens. Pan Am shares this goal and is committed to future capital investment to foster growth of the company. Pan Am strongly believes that programs such as the TCJA and the 45G tax credit, supported by continued reduction in overly burdensome regulations, provide substantial incentives for investment in America's growth. (PanAm Railway - posted 5/24)

NYC TRANSIT RELEASES COMPREHENSIVE PLAN TO MODERNIZE ALL SERVICES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford today revealed a comprehensive plan to completely modernize every major aspect of the organization and its services, from subways to buses to accessibility to corporate culture. The plan, called “Fast Forward: The Plan to Modernize New York City Transit,” focuses on four major priorities which President Byford identified on his first day in office earlier this year: transforming the subway, reimagining the city’s public bus network, improving accessibility for all modes, and engaging and empowering NYC Transit’s workforce to deliver the best service possible. The plan’s four priorities are all underpinned by three foundations of corporate philosophy that President Byford and his team are working to make the norm at New York City Transit: agility and accountability; safety, security and resiliency; and customer service and communication. “As I said when my appointment was announced, what is needed isn’t mere tinkering, a few tweaks here and there,” President Byford writes in the Fast Forward Plan’s opening letter. “What must happen is sustained investment on a massive scale if we are to deliver New Yorkers the service they deserve and the transit system this city and state need…. Now is the time to think big and transform our network so it works for all New Yorkers.” “President Byford is a proven change agent in the world of international transit and this plan will achieve exactly what he was brought on to do — give New Yorkers the reliable, efficient, accessible transit system they need and deserve,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. Highlights of the plan, which was presented to the MTA Board today and can be seen here, include:
  • State-of-the-art signal and track infrastructure for optimum reliability, performance and safety. Within five years, the latest computerized signal and track infrastructure will be installed on five additional lines, so three million daily riders are on lines with Communications Based Train Control (CBTC). Within 10 years, these benefits will cover a total of 11 additional lines, benefiting five million daily riders. This work will also require the refurbishment, replacement or upgrading of myriad supporting infrastructure and equipment such as power systems, shops and yards, and cars.
  • Accelerated work towards a fully accessible subway system. Within five years, more than 50 new stations will be made accessible, ensuring that all subway subway riders will not be more than two stops away from an accessible station. Within 10 years, this will expand to a total of more than 130 additional stations, with the balance of all possible stations completed by 2034. Elevator and escalator maintenance and repairs are also being enhanced. All this physical work will be coupled with equally important customer service enhancements including new sensitivity training for all employees in the next year, and better information about elevator and escalator outages and alternative routes. Shepherding these and other accessibility initiatives will be a new Accessibility Advisor reporting directly to the president of NYC Transit.
  • Critical station repairs and improvements. Critical structural and functional repairs, maintenance and improvements will be performed at more than 150 stations over the course of five years, and more than 300 stations within 10 years. Keeping these stations up to date is critically necessary for regular service delivery and customer safety.
  • A state-of-the-art fleet of new subway cars and buses. Within five years, riders will be benefit from the reliability, performance and safety advantages of more than 650 new subway cars, more than 1,200 refurbished cars, and 2,800 new buses including 200 electric buses, provided that there will be industry capacity to meet the demands of such a large-scale design and manufacturing initiative. Within 10 years, the plan calls for another 3,000 new subway cars and 2,100 new buses, including 1,600 electric buses. President Byford has expressed a desire to achieve a fully electric bus fleet; NYC Transit will work with bus manufacturers, charging infrastructure manufacturers, power delivery utilities and municipal officials to achieve this goal in New York City.
  • A completely redesigned bus route network. As noted in the NYCT Bus Plan released last month, the entire route network for local and express buses in the five boroughs is being re-evaluated and redesigned based on ridership patterns, road operating conditions and input from customers, route neighbors, advocates and others. The Fast Forward Plan calls for this work to be done within five years.
  • A simpler, more reliable, more efficient paratransit experience. The Fast Forward Plan builds upon the work of the MTA Board Access-A-Ride Work Group by simplifying the application process, using modern technology like GPS to enhance ride scheduling and tracking, and working with NYC DOT to allow Access-A-Ride vehicles to use city bus lanes.
  • Engage and empower employees. The Fast Forward Plan works to improve the employee experience – and, as a result, performance – by creating new programs for recognition and for dialogue with management, by streamlining bureaucratic processes, by improving opportunities for internal promotion, by better maintaining and improving employee facilities such as bathrooms and crew rooms, by working with labor unions to refresh the approach to discipline, and by working with NYPD and prosecutors to take a strong stand against assaults on employees. The Plan also establishes a formal agency-wide mentoring program and revamps training and skills development. There will also be increased focus on diversity in the workforce and diversity training, as well as increased facilities for women and non-gender-conforming individuals.
  • Improving efficiency and reducing costs. The Fast Forward Plan embraces and builds upon the emerging recommendations from the MTA Board Work Group on Cost Containment and Procurement in order to ensure the efficient use of capital funding, overhaul processes for faster, more efficient project delivery, and better measure, track and report publicly on performance. This includes clearer lines of accountability and strengthened project management to improve adherence to schedule and budget, improving the design process to reduce unnecessary change orders, simplifying the procurement process, and modernizing the supply chain.
  • Embracing and increasing capacity for innovation. The Fast Forward Plan will support a new “innovation unit” that incubates new solutions to improve the customer experience and operational efficiency, improve the integration of new technology in operations, explore the increased use of public-private partnerships, and pursue and expand upon recommendations from the Genius Transit Challenge.
  • Advancing environmental sustainability and resiliency. NYC Transit already removes 11 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the air per year by providing alternatives to personal automobiles. The Fast Forward Plan keeps up ongoing efforts to require environmental sustainability in new construction including using LEED-certified specifications, and building upon an extensive asset recovery and recycling programs that divert 50,000 tons of waste from landfills annually. Resiliency equipment and planning efforts begun after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy continue and are making NYC Transit better prepared for major storm events than ever before in its history.
  • Modernizing the approach to safety. NYCT is working closely with NYPD to support its expansion of a “neighborhood policing” model to the subway system, as well as to enhance enforcement against, assault and other crimes in the transit system. NYCT is also going to establish a 24/7 confidential safety reporting hotline for employees to strengthen the safety culture. Enhanced security measures using the latest detection technologies and collaboration with law enforcement will continue to keep the transit system and its users safe.
  • Improving customer service and communication. The Fast Forward Plan will build upon existing improvements to customer service and communication and includes a new “Strategy and Customer Experience” division to ensure the interests of customers are considered in all decisions. Improvements include performance tracking dashboards, train and bus arrival info, wayfinders and roaming station agents. Within the next five years, screens will be installed in all stations and on more than 3,000 subway cars to provide real-time location-specific information, as well as a new mobile-friendly website and app launching this year. The quality assurance of public address systems in stations, on subway cars and on buses will be strengthened. A quarterly “Customer Commitment” report will track delivery of initiatives.
In order to track and report progress for stakeholders and the public, the Fast Forward Plan includes twice-yearly reports on the progress of its initiatives. “I believe that New Yorkers want more than just a return to the reliability of yesteryear,” President Byford writes in the Plan’s introduction. “The world’s greatest city needs world-class transit and this Plan will deliver exactly that.” (MTA - posted 5/23)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 19, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 19, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 546,415 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending May 19 were 261,273 carloads, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 285,142 containers and trailers, up 5.9 percent compared to 2017 and the third-highest week ever. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 2,518 carloads, to 40,836; chemicals, up 1,440 carloads, to 31,862; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 986 carloads, to 10,655. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included grain, down 1,656 carloads, to 22,225; motor vehicles and parts, down 778 carloads, to 17,006; and coal, down 371 carloads, to 78,519. For the first 20 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,141,257 carloads, up 1.1 percent from the same point last year; and 5,443,730 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 20 weeks of 2018 was 10,584,987 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending May 19, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,260 carloads, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 372,668 intermodal units, up 4.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 738,928 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 20 weeks of 2018 was 14,274,661 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 83,575 carloads for the week, up 8.3 percent, and 70,974 intermodal units, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 20 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,932,441 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 21,412 carloads for the week and 16,552 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 20 weeks of 2018 was 757,233 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers. (AAR - posted 5/23)

BRIGHTLINE OPENS MIAMICENTRAL SERVICE: On May 19 Florida's Brightline extended service from Fort Lauderdale to the new Miami station, known as MiamiCentral. Revene passenger trains operate from West Palm Beach directly to Miami. Future extensions will allow for trains to operate to Orlando. ( posted 5/22)

NEW INTERACTIVE TOUCHSCREENS PROVIDE HIGH-TECH INFORMATION FOR NJ TRANSIT CUSTOMERS : NJ TRANSIT has unveiled new interactive touchscreen kiosks as part of its continuing effort to improve communication with customers. The high-tech digital displays, currently being piloted at select rail and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail stations, allow customers to access service information, maps and alerts to stay informed of travel options. The interactive information kiosks are now in place at Newark Penn Station, Hoboken Terminal and on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail at Harborside and Pavonia stations. “By listening to our customers, we know that receiving information is one of their top priorities,’’ said Kevin Corbett, Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT. “These digital displays are an added tool that will enable customers to quickly learn the current service status for their particular trip as well as their travel options for rail and light rail. We look forward to hearing feedback from customers on this latest informational asset as we continue to modernize and expand customer communications at stations and terminals.’’ NJ TRANSIT worked with Intersection, a technology and media company, on the installation of the kiosks. The kiosks feature large formats and have a user-friendly touchscreen which provide engaging real-time data specific to a customer’s trip and mode of travel. The kiosks provide customers with systemwide maps, real-time service alerts, departure times, scheduled service changes and emergency messaging. Each kiosk contains the NJ TRANSIT branding on top, for easy identification. (NJ Transit - posted 5/22)

WABTEC AND GE TRANSPORTATION TO MERGE: Amtrak is expecting heavy ridership as the summer season kicks off and customers head to the rails for convenient and flexible summer vacations. Wabtec Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement to combine with GE Transportation, a unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE). The combination will make Wabtec a Fortune 500, global transportation leader in rail equipment, software and services, with operations in more than 50 countries. Under the agreement, which has been approved by the Boards of Directors of Wabtec and GE, GE will receive $2.9 billion in cash at closing and GE and its shareholders will receive a 50.1% ownership interest in the combined company, with Wabtec shareholders retaining 49.9% of the combined company. The transaction is expected to be tax free to the companies' respective shareholders. Both companies are expected to benefit from the cyclical tailwinds they are experiencing as industry conditions improve. GE Transportation revenues and EBIT are expected to grow at double digit CAGRs from 2017A to 2019E as the cycle rebounds from trough levels. The GE Transportation business is positioned for a significant rebound, with estimated adjusted EBITDA growing from about $750 million in 2018 to between $900 million and $1 billion in 2019. The backlog of approximately $18 billion includes about 1,800 new locomotives and approximately 1,000 to be modernized. GE Transportation has received $3.6 billion in orders in the last two quarters. Wabtec reported a strong Q1, also forecasting robust growth for the year with record backlog. The combination will bring together two global leaders in rail equipment, services and software, combining GE Transportation, a global digital industrial leader and supplier to the rail, mining, marine, stationary power and drilling industries, with Wabtec’s broad range of freight, transit and electronics solutions. Wabtec and GE shareholders will have ownership in a combined company with significantly expanded margins, a highly attractive growth profile based on an improved business mix, expanded global reach, and faster innovation in key growth areas. (GE, Randy Kotuby - posted 5/21)

AMTRAK REPORTS INCREASING RIDERSHIP FOR SUMMER TRAVEL: Amtrak is expecting heavy ridership as the summer season kicks off and customers head to the rails for convenient and flexible summer vacations. Affordable fares and convenient service make Amtrak ideal for summer family travel. Customers are encouraged to book early for the best rates and as advance reservations indicate, there is an increased demand for July travel compared to last summer. Additionally, in anticipation one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, Amtrak is expecting more than 320,000 customers over the Memorial Day week as customers plan their summer day trips, weekend getaways and longer vacations. During this time, the Northeast Regional, Acela Express, and the Pacific Surfliner have been the most popular trains to travel as customers flock to the beaches and sightsee some of the largest cities in the country. “On Amtrak trains, customers can visit the most popular cities in the country for their summer travel, whether it’s to catch a baseball game, explore a new city, experience a summer musical festival, have an outdoor biking or hiking adventure or take it easy and relax at a beach,” said Amtrak Chief Marketing Officer Tim Griffin. “Instead of sitting in traffic to reach these destinations, sit in comfort and enjoy the journey with Amtrak.” Amtrak has upgraded its free Wi-Fi on Northeast Corridor trains, and at select stations, has refreshed its train interiors, and offers the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times (no “airplane mode”), the ability to travel with small pets and bikes on many trains, a generous baggage policy, large spacious seats with ample leg room, and no middle seat. (Amtrak - posted 5/21)

NJ TRANSIT DEPLOYS NEW FARE COLLECTION TECHNOLOGY ON TRAINS: NJ TRANSIT is going high-tech with fare collection on trains. A pilot program is launching in which select train crews will use handheld mobile devices to scan and validate tickets. “As part of our effort to restore NJ TRANSIT as a national leader, we are utilizing the latest technology to improve our processes and ultimately improve the customer experience,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “Not only will these handheld devices scan and validate tickets, they’ll also have the capability of giving crews real time information to enhance customer communication.” As part of the pilot program launching this week, a small number of train crews across multiple rail lines will begin utilizing the handheld mobile devices. Crew members will use the devices to scan the barcodes on all paper and electronic tickets, including monthly passes. Once a ticket is scanned, a crew member will instantly be able to determine if the ticket is valid. One-way tickets would have their barcodes cancelled electronically to ensure they are not used again. Currently, crews visually inspect all electronic tickets and paper passes and use manual punches to cancel paper tickets. By scanning all ticket types, NJ TRANSIT will have improved capability to collect and analyze data including fare collection and ridership trends. Electronic scanning also combats against the use of fraudulent tickets. The handheld devices will support future applications including providing real time communication with conductors to enhance the flow of information to customers. Electronic scanning also provides future capability of enabling offline electronic ticketing, which would no longer require customers to have internet access to activate electronic tickets. The pilot program will collect feedback on the handheld mobile devices and make refinements before initiating a gradual systemwide rollout. (NJ Transit - posted 5/21)

BAY COAST RAILROAD IN DELMARVA SHUTS DOWN: Reports are that the Bay Coast Railroad, the operation between Pocomoke City, Md. and Cape Charles, Va. and from Little Creek to Norfolk, Va., filed Thursday with the Surface Transportation Board to cease operation on its trackage. The car float operation across the Chesapeake Bay has not operated in some time (several years). The Delmarva Central Railway has formally filed with the STB at least temporarily operate the upper 15 miles of the Bay Coast RR, and it is being reported that the Buckingham Branch RR will operate the Little Creek-Norfolk operations, at least temporarily. (Alexander D. Mitchell IV - posted 5/18)

HELP RESTORE CONRAIL NO. 8905: The Conrail Historical Society (The CRHS) and the B&O Railroad Museum have announced a partnership to restore one of the Museum’s operating diesel-electric locomotives to its historic Conrail paint scheme. The locomotive is SW7 No. 8905, built in 1950 by the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors (GM). The B&O Museum purchased No. 8905 in 2004 for use on its popular excursion trains. It was repainted into a special red paint scheme designed by the Museum and it became No. 1200. The 14-year-old paint is now in need of restoration, and the Museum has solicited the assistance of The CRHS in returning the locomotive to its authentic Conrail paint scheme and number to pay homage to Conrail’s operational history in Baltimore. The CRHS has provided photos, paint diagrams, and drawings to aid the restoration. The CRHS and the B&O Museum have launched a joint fundraising campaign to raise $6,000 to cover the cost of the restoration. Any additional funds raised will be placed into an account dedicated solely to the maintenance and upkeep of No. 8905 which will remain as the regular power for the Museum’s excursions. Checks can be made payable to B&O Railroad Museum with CONRAIL in memo line and mailed to: B&O Railroad Museum, 901 W. Pratt Street Baltimore, MD 21015 All gifts make to The CRHS and B&O Railroad Museum are 100% tax deductible. (B&o Railroad Museum - posted 5/18)

NEW AERIAL VIDEO SHOWCASES SOUTH SHORE FREIGHT SITES A new video showcases strategic industrial sites served by Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad (CSS) in southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana—the third largest economic region in the U.S. Using aerial drone images, the four-minute video highlights more than 1,600 acres of prime business development locations in what CSS describes as “one of the world’s most dynamic business markets.” CSS is a 182-mile freight carrier linking Chicago with South Bend, Ind., and is owned by Chicago-based Anacostia Rail Holdings (ARH). Facilities and sites depicted in the video include:
  • Illinois International Port District in Chicago;
  • Properties adjacent to CSS tracks at Burnham rail yard in Hammond and Gary, Ind.;
  • Available space near South Shore’s headquarters and shops in Michigan City, Ind.;
  • Sites in La Porte, Ind., including the La Porte Space Center;
  • 1,000 acres at the Kingsbury Industrial Park; and locations on the east end of the railroad at New Carlisle, Ind.
With its bird’s eye view, the video emphasizes South Shore’s unique status as an efficient Chicago-area link to not only the six largest Class I railroads in the U.S., but also key Interstate highways and regional waterways. “The spectacular views of these properties really drive home South Shore’s advantage in offering great connections across all modes,” says CSS President Todd Bjornstad. “Our goal with the video is to show industrial developers and plant site locators the great advantages we offer in this region.” In addition to an informative aerial tour, the video provides on-screen facts with such basic information as property dimensions, rail-yard capacity, highway access, and transload opportunities. Each site is indexed with an alphabetic designation, making it easy for viewers to find sites of interest to them. “Our emphasis is always on the customer. That means quality service and reliable access to markets,” said ARH Chief Commercial Officer Eric Jakubowski. “The aerial perspective underscores the strategic advantage of our Chicago-area connections. We hope to share this with all of our railroad partners so that we can jointly market these available options.” The video was produced by James Street Associates--a marketing communications firm based in Blue Island, Ill., and specializing in supply chain, transportation, and logistics. In addition to the CSS project, Anacostia Rail Holdings plans to offer similar videos for four of its other railroads including Louisville & Indiana Railroad Company, New York & Atlantic Railway Company, Northern Lines Railway, and Pacific Harbor Line. (Anacostia Pacific - posted 5/17)

Emery Rail Heritage Trust has anounced railroad heritage grants for 2018, as follows: In the Spring of 2018, grants were approved for the following organizations/projects:
  • Railways to Yesterday, Inc., $10,000 for the continued restoration of Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban #315.
  • Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust, $10,000 for work on an ADA-compatible palace car restoration project.
  • Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum, $10,000 toward the restoration of Clinchfield Railroad office car #100.
  • Railroading Heritage of Midwest America, $30,000 for installation of PTC on Milwaukee Road steam engine #261.
  • New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society, $20,000 towards further the restoration work on AT&SF #2926.
  • Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum, $5000 for work on their Trout Brook Bridge.
  • New England Steam Corporation, $5000 for restoration work on the tender of steam engine #470.
  • Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, Inc., $9000 for work on their sleeping car Duluth.
  • Arizona Railway Museum, $8200 for work on their AT&SF sleeper, Diablo Canyon.
  • Cumberland Division, SER, NMRA, $7300 for upgrades to their facility.
  • Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad, Inc., $10,000 for work on their Reading Coach #1158.
  • Bay Area Electric Railroad Association, $8000 for power pole replacement at their operating museum.
  • Cuyahoga Valley Preservation & Scenic Railway Association, $10,000 for renovation of coach #162.
  • Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, $30,000 for installation of PTC on steam locomotive #765.
  • Southern Appalachia Railway Museum, Inc., $10,000 for restoration of the car Fort McPherson.
  • Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation, $10,000 for coach window repairs.
  • Monticello Railway Museum, $10,000 for restoration work on IC car #892.
  • Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, Inc., $8000 for work on the tender of engine #20.
  • Belton, Grandview and Kansas City Railroad, $2000 for general maintenance.
(Emery Rail Heritage Trust - posted 5/16)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 12, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 12, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 550,029 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending May 12 were 267,196 carloads, up 5.3 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 282,833 containers and trailers, up 6.3 percent compared to 2017. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 7,347 carloads, to 81,523; nonmetallic minerals, up 5,714 carloads, to 42,383; and chemicals, up 1,128 carloads, to 32,431. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 were motor vehicles and parts, down 1,440 carloads, to 16,915; miscellaneous carloads, down 657 carloads, to 9,189; and metallic ores and metals, down 326 carloads, to 23,875. For the first 19 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,879,984 carloads, up 1.1 percent from the same point last year; and 5,158,588 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 19 weeks of 2018 was 10,038,572 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending May 12, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 372,423 carloads, up 5.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 371,131 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 743,554 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 19 weeks of 2018 was 13,535,733 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 84,175 carloads for the week, up 7.9 percent, and 70,827 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 19 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,777,892 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 21,052 carloads for the week and 17,471 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 19 weeks of 2018 was 719,269 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers. (AAR - posted 5/16)

FRA ISSUES $250 MILLION NOTICE OF FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR PTC PROJECTS: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $250 million in Positive Train Control (PTC) Systems Grants. “These funds are part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to strengthen our country’s rail safety by helping railroads to more rapidly deploy positive train control systems,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. The purpose of the NOFO is to solicit applications for $250 million in PTC Systems Grants to fund the deployment of PTC system technology for intercity passenger rail transportation, freight rail transportation and/or commuter rail passenger transportation. Eligible projects include: back office systems; wayside, communications and onboard hardware equipment; software; equipment installation; spectrum; any component, testing and training for the implementation of PTC systems; and interoperability. Applications for PTC systems deployment funding under this solicitation are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT, 45 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. These grants form part of the funding available under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program. In addition, the FRA today released the 2018 Quarter 1 (Q1) status update on railroads’ self-reported progress toward implementing PTC systems. These reports were initiated by FRA to maintain transparency throughout the PTC implementation process. “The railroads are making progress towards meeting the congressionally mandated PTC requirement, but there is still work to be done,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “The FRA will continue to work with railroads and suppliers to assist in fully implementing PTC.” Fourteen railroads report they have installed 100 percent of the hardware necessary for PTC system implementation, as of March 31, 2018. Railroads’ self-reported data indicates that during Q1 of 2018, six other railroads—i.e., Altamont Corridor Express, Central Florida Rail Corridor (Sunrail), Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC), Metro-North Commuter Railroad, and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-rail)—increased their percentage of hardware installation by more than 10 percent, compared to Quarter 4 of 2017. The latest data, current as of March 31, 2018, shows PTC systems are in operation on approximately 60 percent of freight railroads’ route miles that are required to be governed by PTC systems—up from 56 percent last quarter and 16 percent on December 31, 2016. Passenger railroads have made less progress—with PTC systems in operation on only 25 percent of required route miles, up one percent from the previous quarter. (FRA - posted 5/15)

WASHINGTON METRO PLANS MULTIYEAR PROJECT TO RECONSTRUCT 20 STATION PLATFORMS: Washington Metro is planning a three-year capital project that will reconstruct the outdoor platforms at 20 Metrorail stations to address structural deficiencies after decades of exposure to the elements. At many of these stations, temporary measures have been installed to stabilize the platforms to ensure passenger safety until reconstruction can take place. The project is estimated to cost between $300-400 million and will be the first major construction project to benefit from dedicated capital funding recently approved by the legislatures in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Rebuilding platforms is heavy construction activity that requires that tracks be taken out of service to allow for demolishing existing structures, access to the construction area, and concrete pouring. Metro has already rebuilt platforms at 10 of the system's 45 outdoor stations; however, the process used previously resulted in years of single tracking and customer inconvenience. Rebuilding the two most recently reconstructed platforms, at Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations, took approximately three years. Following extensive internal planning and consultation with construction contractors with the goal of minimizing customer impact, Metro developed a program that advances the reconstruction of the next 20 platforms primarily using extended shutdowns during summer months-rather than single tracking-to provide contractors with 24-hour access to selected work sites. The approach improves safety while significantly reducing project duration because workers do not have to repeatedly set-up and break down their equipment. The approach also minimizes customer impact by allowing Metro to continue to provide normal rail service elsewhere on the system. Under the first phase of the plan, beginning next year, Metro is planning to demolish and rebuild the station platforms at Braddock Road, King Street and Eisenhower Avenue stations, resulting in a shutdown of rail service south of Reagan National Airport during the summer of 2019. Blue and Yellow line service will operate at regular intervals between the airport and Largo Town Center (Blue Line) and Fort Totten/Mt Vernon Square (Yellow Line). Six of Metro's 91 stations will be closed between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2019: Braddock Road, King Street, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn Street, and Franconia-Springfield. Metro will partner with the jurisdictions and other transportation agencies to develop traffic mitigations and customer travel alternatives. Metro customers will be given at least three months of advance notice prior to any service change under the program. Following the 2019 summer shutdown, Metro will reconstruct the platforms at Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield, Huntington, and Reagan National Airport between September 2019 and May 2020. The location and configuration of these stations allows construction to take place while all rail stations remain open. During this phase, rail service is expected to operate normally except for the Blue Line in September 2019, which will be impacted by the reconstruction of Van Dorn Street Station. The remaining 13 station platforms to be reconstructed in 2020-2021 are: West Hyattsville, College Park, Greenbelt, Rhode Island Avenue, Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, East Falls Church, Cheverly, Landover, New Carrollton, Addison Road, and Arlington Cemetery. Service plans for these stations are being developed, including possible coordination with construction activity associated with the Purple Line in Maryland and the widening of I-66 in Virginia. The platform reconstruction plan will be presented Thursday at the Metro Board of Directors Capital and Strategic Planning Committee meeting as an information item. Board approval is not required. (Washington Metro - posted 5/10)

AMTRAK REFRESHES INTERIORS OF ACELA EXPRESS TRAINS: Amtrak is investing in an extensive refresh of its train interiors on the entire Acela Express fleet, which travels along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington, DC, aimed at introducing a more modern and comfortable customer experience. “Customers expect a premium experience when they board an Acela Express train, and these updated interior features will provide a more comfortable, refreshed look and feel – whether you want to relax, move about freely, work or play,” said Amtrak CEO and President Richard Anderson. The Acela Express refresh is a 14-month program for all of its 20 trainsets, which includes 100 Amtrak cars and 6,080 total seats. Each trainset will be refreshed individually with new cushions and covers for all business class and first-class seats, new carpet for the aisle runner and a deep clean. The total investment is valued at more than $4 million. The refresh will take just over a year to complete and customers can expect a progression of upgrades during that time, with this approximate delivery schedule:
  • May 2018: The first trainset will be refreshed and returned into revenue service;
  • June 2018: The second trainset will be refreshed and returned into revenue service
  • June 2018 – July 2019: One trainset will be refreshed every three weeks.
Amtrak schedules will not change due to the refresh. The refresh will occur in advance of the debut of the next generation Acela trainsets Amtrak announced in August 2016, which will provide 40 percent more trains, one-third more passenger seats with the same personal space and high-end comfort, more service, better amenities and a smoother ride. The first trainset prototype will be ready for testing in 2019, and will enter revenue service in early 2021. All trainsets in the current fleet will be retired in early 2022. Materials from the existing Acela cushions and covers will be reused, recycled and turned into carpet padding, while the leather will be upcycled and converted into handbags, wallets and other consumer goods.(Amtrak - posted 5/14)

NJ TRANSIT MAKES FORBES 2018 BEST EMPLOYERS LIST : Forbes has named NJ TRANSIT to its prestigious America’s Best Employers 2018 list, which was released earlier this month. Only 20 New Jersey-based organizations were included in the annual rankings which, according to Forbes, measure leading companies from around the world to identify those best-liked by employees. “This honor is a reflection on the hard working men and women who keep New Jersey moving every day,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “Now is the perfect time to join this great organization. We are currently recruiting and hiring for positions throughout our system. This is an exciting time to be a part of NJ TRANSIT.” Forbes works with the research firm Statista to compile the list, which ranks the top employee-recommended 500 large and 500 midsize employers. To view the full Forbes list, visit https://www.forbes.com/best-employers/list As New Jersey's public transportation corporation, NJ TRANSIT is the nation's third largest transit system. The agency employs almost 11,000 workers across a wide range of trades, professions and crafts to operate a multi-modal transportation network of trains, buses and light rail systems. In addition to being ranked as a Forbes best employer, NJ TRANSIT offers its employees opportunities for growth and exceptional benefit packages as well as rewarding and stable career paths. Additional information about the agency’s current job openings, upcoming job fairs and application processes are available on the NJ TRANSIT website at http://www.njtransit.com/tm/tm_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=CareersTo Governor Murphy’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget calls for an additional $242-million investment in NJ TRANSIT including 114 additional staff members from bus operators and locomotive engineers to human resources and training personnel. More information on becoming a bus operator and upcoming hiring events can be found at njtransit.com/drive . (NJ Transit - posted 5/14)

AMTRAK NORTHEAST CORRIDOR CUSTOMERS TO EXPERIENCE FASTER, MORE RELIABLE FREE WI-FI: Amtrak travelers on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) will soon enjoy improved Wi-Fi, with a more reliable and easier connection to high-speed broadband. Amtrak Acela Express customers are already benefiting from performance tuning, including improved stability and reliability of VPN connections for customers accessing corporate networks. This summer, Northeast Regional trains will receive upgraded processors and modem cards, as well as new antennas that will improve speed. These upgrades will allow for quicker loading times for webpages and other content, the ability to send and receive files faster, improved video streaming and audio performance, and a more productive and enjoyable experience. “These Wi-Fi upgrades are another example of recent steps we have taken to improve the customer experience and why we are the preferred choice for travel on the Northeast Corridor,” said Amtrak Vice President of Marketing Kerry McKelvey. Later this summer, customers will also experience a new, simplified Amtrak Wi-Fi landing page. As part of this upgrade, customer preferences will be saved over a period of seven days for both onboard and in-station connections, providing a simplified and convenient experience. NEC Wi-Fi Stats include:
  • On average, 20,000 Wi-Fi sessions occur on the NEC every day
  • More than 70 percent of devices aboard Acela trains connect to Amtrak’s Wi-Fi
  • The average session time on Regional trains is 1 hour 41 minutes, and on Acela is 2 hours and 9 minutes
  • NEC Wi-Fi users combine to consume on average over 2 Terabytes of data per day (1 Terabyte equals about 472 hours of broadcast-quality video)
  • Largest day of data consumption on the NEC (April 2, 2018) was over 3 Terabytes of data
Starting in mid-May, customers accessing free Wi-Fi will simply select Amtrak Wi-Fi from the list of options on their smartphones, tablets or laptop computers. Once selected, customers must agree to the terms and conditions to gain access to the service. In addition to this work on the NEC, Amtrak is also upgrading Wi-Fi at 29 stations throughout the national network. For a full list of wireless-enabled stations and train routes across the Amtrak national network, visit www.Amtrak.com . (Amtrak - posted 5/10)

PHILADELPHIA'S RAIL PARK: Philadelphia nonprofit Friends of the Rail Park is pleased to announce the selection of Kevin Dow as its first Executive Director. In this new role, Dow will create and implement a community-focused comprehensive strategic plan to fulfill the organization's mission to bring Philadelphia's Rail Park to life. The Rail Park is a vision for a three-mile linear park and recreational pathway connecting 10 distinct Philadelphia neighborhoods along the site of two unused historic Reading Railroad lines. The above and below grade site threads through several of Philadelphia's most important cultural institutions and offers an opportunity to create a world class public space driven by engaging communities from every corner of the city, through programming around arts and culture, health and wellness, education, and preservation of the built and natural environment. Opening to the public on June 14, Phase I of the Rail Park is a multi-million dollar project, transforming a quarter-mile section of the former Reading Railroad, welcoming community greenspace, with pathways, low-maintenance perennial plantings, trees, ample seating, bench-style swings, local art, and elevated city views. The design preserves and restores much of the existing steel structure, while introducing materials of a similar industrial scale and character. In partnership with Philadelphia's Center City District and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Friends of the Rail Park, now led by Dow, is part of a revitalization movement that is taking place in cities across the US and beyond. Following the success of New York City's High Line, the Rail Park is part of the High Line Network—a group of 19 infrastructure reuse projects that are redefining the next generation of public spaces across the country. Supported by the Friends of the Rail Park Board, Dow will spearhead fundraising, community engagement, oversee park programming and stewardship, and work toward the completion of the organization's full three-mile vision for the Rail Park. Liz Maillie, Board Chair of the Friends of the Rail Park, states: "Following a national search, we are thrilled to welcome Kevin Dow as our new, and first, executive director. A lifelong Philadelphian, Kevin is passionate about our city and will drive community engagement to realize our vision for a truly inclusive, connective public space in Philadelphia." Kevin Dow's diverse background includes leadership positions in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors. Prior to joining Friends of the Rail Park, he served as Senior Vice President of Impact and Innovation at United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. At United Way, he was responsible for over 225 public and private partnerships, collaborating to reduce inter-generational poverty throughout the Philadelphia region. Previously, Dow was appointed by Mayor Michael A. Nutter to a dual role as the Senior Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Commerce Department for the City of Philadelphia. Before his experience in government, Dow worked in community affairs at Wachovia (now Wells Fargo), managing an annual philanthropic budget of $13 million, impacting over 11,000 team members. Dow holds an MBA from St. Joseph's University, a Bachelor's from Morehouse College and has served in various board leadership roles for nonprofits focused in the arts, community development, and education. He is also a founding member of the Philadelphia Black Giving Circle. Dow shares: "It is rare to find one's professional skill set match up with one's personal passion, and even more exceptional to cross this distinctive intersection at the right time. I am excited to join the Friends of the Rail Park as its first Executive Director and all our partners to bring to life this three-mile park for generations of Philadelphians to enjoy." The Rail Park project has support from the City of Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Center City District, Fairmount Park Conservancy, the William Penn Foundation, the Knight Foundation, Poor Richard's Charitable Trust, the McLean Foundation, 1830 Family Foundation, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the PA Department of Community & Economic Development, the Tuttleman Family Foundation, and numerous corporations and individuals in Philadelphia and beyond. PHASE I RIBBON CUTTING AND OPENING CEREMONY: June 14, 11am, 13th and Noble Street, Philadelphia (Rail Park, Randy Kotuby - posted 5/10)

JAMES D. DILTS OBIT: We regret to report that Baltimore historian James D. Dilts, the author of "The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore and Ohio, the Nation’s First Railroad, 1828-1853," as well as co-author of several noted books on Baltimore architecture, has died unexpectedly of heart failure yesterday, May 8th,aged 82. He was at Baltimore's Union Memorial Hospital when he passed away. He also served as the president of the Peale Center (formerly the Peale Museum), and had just completed a book on railroad architecture nationwide, "The World the Trains Made: A Century of Great Railroad Architecture in the United States and Canada," which is to be released in early September. (Alexander D. Mitchell IV - posted 5/09)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 5, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 5, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 545,937 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending May 5 were 265,563 carloads, up 6.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 280,374 containers and trailers, up 8.5 percent compared to 2017. Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 4,192 carloads, to 41,092; coal, up 4,023 carloads, to 77,468; and grain, up 3,250 carloads, to 25,100. One commodity group posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2017: miscellaneous carloads, down 2,575 carloads, to 8,201. For the first 18 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,612,788 carloads, up 0.9 percent from the same point last year; and 4,875,755 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 18 weeks of 2018 was 9,488,543 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending May 5, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 371,260 carloads, up 6.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 366,970 intermodal units, up 7.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 738,230 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 18 weeks of 2018 was 12,792,179 carloads and intermodal units, up 3 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 86,114 carloads for the week, up 5.8 percent, and 71,685 intermodal units, up 7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 18 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,622,890 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 19,583 carloads for the week and 14,911 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 18 weeks of 2018 was 680,746 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers. (AAR- posted 5/09)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN PARTNERS WITH PLUG AND PLAY TO IMPROVE TECHNOLOGY: Norfolk Southern today announced a strategic partnership with Plug and Play, a leading technology startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley. Norfolk Southern joined Plug and Play’s Supply Chain & Logistics Innovation Platform to engage with startups focused on creating applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, the industrial internet of things, and advanced analytics in supply chains. “As we continually look for technology solutions to improve safety, better serve our customers, and improve railroad operations, this partnership will give us greater access to technology startup companies and the broader Silicon Valley ecosystem,” said Fred Ehlers, vice president information technology and chief information officer. Plug and Play will identify and connect Norfolk Southern with startup companies marketing cutting-edge technology that aligns with Norfolk Southern’s operational goals. This collaboration will further assist Norfolk Southern as it continues to develop innovative business strategies in specific focus areas, such as automation, drone inspections, internet of things-enabled asset tracking, blockchain for supply chain management, and predictive maintenance through data analytics. “We are very excited to have Norfolk Southern on board as our newest Supply Chain & Logistics partner. They are a perfect fit for our ecosystem of industry-leading corporate partners from multiple industries like ExxonMobil, ArcelorMittal, Lufthansa Cargo, BASF, Panasonic, Prologis, DHL, and the United States Postal Service," explains Mike Zayonc, founder of Plug and Play Supply Chain & Logistics. “Partnering with Norfolk Southern will let us continue to drive digital transformation in the rail industry through our program.” (NS - posted 5/09)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN SUBMITS COMMENTS RESPONDING RO FRA REQUEST FOR INFO ON AUTOMATION: In response to the Federal Railroad Administration's request for information on rail industry automation, Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) today submitted comments outlining its views on this "important and imminent issue." Norfolk Southern also submitted comments responding to a similar request for information by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. In an opening letter to FRA, Executive Vice President Law and Administration John Scheib observes that "the development of technology-assisted rail operations is moving rapidly," and when it comes to industry automation, "the technology is already here or very close and is inevitable." He further notes that "the application of many technologies for transportation operations is easier for rail than other modes." In attached comments, Norfolk Southern discusses a number of benefits that would flow from automation, including safety, efficiency, and environmental enhancements. Norfolk Southern emphasizes that "[t]echnology-assisted rail operations can help reduce human error" and minimize the number of people around equipment, both of which are "important to reduce accidents and injuries." While applauding FRA for initiating a discussion around railroad automation, Norfolk Southern underscores that the greatest obstacle to strategic deployment of technology-assisted rail operations is the lack of regulatory clarity, as well as current regulations that impede their implementation. Scheib notes, however, that the RFI is "a valuable first step" towards FRA "partner[ing] with railroads to pursue this important, safety-enhancing technology." Moving forward, Norfolk Southern urges FRA to "affirmatively signal its willingness to embrace and encourage automation in the rail industry … and begin reviewing and removing regulations that impede innovation in favor of a performance-based regulatory scheme." Norfolk Southern asks FRA to follow the lead of its Department of Transportation counterparts, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and provide clear and flexible guidance, enabling railroads to pursue new technologies and affirming that "automation is not a risk to be contained, but rather a safety and efficiency-enhancing standard to which the industry should aspire." (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 5/08)

MBTA AWARDS SAUGUS DRAWBRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT DESIGN CONTRACT: The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) voted to award a nearly $7 million contract to Hardesty & Hanover, LLC to fully design a replacement for the drawbridge over the Saugus River and provide construction phase services. The project is a full replacement of the existing drawbridge over which Newburyport/Rockport Line trains travel. The existing bridge has been in service for over 100 years and, though some repairs have been made, the condition of the structure is deteriorating. Advancing to final design prevents further costly repairs and possible service interruptions. The proposed bridge will be 530 feet long, carrying 2 railroad tracks over the Saugus River. The draw span will be a rolling lift "Scherzer-style" bascule span. The approach spans will be through-girder spans with reinforced concrete ballasted decks. Bringing the asset into a state of good repair, the useful life of the replacement structure will be 75 years. As the new alignment and profile of the replacement bridge will be off-line from the existing drawbridge, there will be minimal impact to Commuter Rail service during the construction period, allowing for construction of the new rolling lift bascule span. The rolling lift-style bascule provides an economical choice for a movable span when construction is unaffected by the existing bridge or rail operations. This type of movable bridge is the preferred type for a small to medium span rail bridge. It is anticipated that the project will be advertised for construction in the fall of 2020 and that construction will take approximately 3 years (MBTA - posted 5/08)

STV TO DESIGN GREEN LINE LIGHT RAIL EXTENSION IN MASSACHUSETTS: STV, a nationally recognized transportation design firm, will serve as the lead designer for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) $1.3 billion Green Line Light Rail Extension (GLX), as part of the design-build team led by the Fluor Corporation/Middlesex Corporation/Herzog Contracting Corp./Balfour Beatty joint venture (GLX Constructors). Construction of the 4.3-mile extension, which will provide the Massachusetts communities of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford with a one-seat ride to downtown Boston, is expected to begin later this year, with revenue service beginning in 2021. In total, the project also includes the design and construction of a new vehicle maintenance facility, an administration building, a viaduct, six new stations, one relocated station, six bridges, and a community path. "The three communities where the Green Line Extension project is being constructed have been engaged in this process for nearly 20 years," said Mark Pelletier, STV vice president and Boston office manager. "They are knowledgeable, passionate and excited to have public transportation being made available to them. We look forward to working with them, the MBTA, and the Fluor Middlesex/Herzog/Balfour Beatty team in making this project a reality." The MBTA anticipates a number of benefits for the project, including the reduction of 26,000 regional daily vehicle miles travelled, thereby improving air quality and reducing automobile congestion in the commonwealth. Daily ridership at the seven new GLX stations – which will all be outfitted with amenities that meet or exceed Americans with Disabilities Act standards – is expected to hit 45,000 by 2030. Additionally, all GLX operations will take place within an existing railroad right-of-way, the 3.4-mile Lowell Line and 0.9-mile Fitchburg Line, which minimizes the need to purchase additional ROW. STV's role in shaping the GLX marks another major MBTA initiative supported by the firm. One of STV's earliest projects for the MBTA was the North Station Transportation Improvement Project, where the elevated section of the Green Line's viaduct was relocated into a tunnel section. In the mid-2000s, STV served as the lead designer for the Greenbush Commuter Rail Restoration project, then the largest design-build project ever undertaken by the MBTA. (MBTA, Randy Kotuby - posted 5/07)

PATH SCHEDULES WEEKEND SERVICE, STATION AND TUNNEL OUTAGES IN SECOND HALF OF 2018 TO COMPLETE CRITICAL, FEDERALLY MANDATED SAFETY UPGRADES: PATH has scheduled a 17-weekend series of tunnel and station closures, beginning with the weekend of May 19 and resuming July 7 through the end of October, to complete federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) equipment and software installation and perform rigorous tests of the system. The PTC schedule will mean closing the Exchange Place and World Trade Center stations during the weekends of May 19 and July 7, which will affect the Newark-World Trade Center lines. All New York PATH stations from Hoboken to 33rd Street will be closed starting the weekend of July 14 and running through October 28, impacting train schedules and service. The Hoboken PATH station will be open during this period except for three Sundays: September 15 and 22, and October 13. The closures will run each weekend from 11:59 p.m. on Fridays through 5 a.m. the following Monday. They will not be in effect Labor Day weekend. To ease rider impact, PATH is working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to provide free 2-trip MetroCards for travelers affected by the closures. Customers will be able to pick up the 2-trip cards at designated points from PATH ambassadors. The special MetroCards can be used only during the weekend issued. Once the outages work begins and throughout the period of PTC work, closure details and updates can be accessed through www.panynj.gov/PATHplanner (PANYNJ - posted 5/07)

AMTRAK RECOGNIZED AS AMERICA'S TOP EMPLOYER: Amtrak received recognition for workplace excellence by earning a spot on Forbes magazine’s America’s Best Employers 2018 list. About 20,000 Amtrak employees ensure customers travel in comfort and reach their destinations safely and reliably. America’s Railroad® is on the list for the fourth year in a row and is among 500 employers across 25 industries. Listed under the transportation & logistics category, Amtrak was chosen based on the magazine’s independent survey of 30,000 people who work for large firms or institutions who rated their willingness to recommend their own companies on a scale of 0 to 10. America’s Best Employers’ recognition highlights how Amtrak employees provide customers a hassle-free experience on trains with wide seats, outlets and plenty of room to move around. Amtrak invites customers to bring a bicycle and a small pet along for the ride. “We want working at Amtrak to be a fulfilling experience where employees find a safe workplace, a diverse workforce, challenging and rewarding opportunities, enjoy respect among colleagues, competitive pay and benefits and a performance-oriented culture,” Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson said. A wide range of rewards support the professional and personal lives of employees. Amtrak recently introduced a New Parental Leave Income Replacement Policy, which eligible new parents can receive up to 12 weeks of income. This benefit extends to birth and adoptive parents and same-sex partners. Vacation and holiday time off, 401 K and retirement plans and education assistance are among the many available benefits. Employees enable the railroad to be a vital part of the national transportation network of more than 300 trains each day and reaches more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces.(Amtrak - posted 5/04)

NEW STATION IN MARKS, MISS., ON THE HISTORIC CITY OF NEW ORLEANS ROUTE: Effective this weekend, Amtrak City of New Orleans trains will stop daily at a new station in Marks, Miss., on the Chicago-New Orleans route made famous in a song by Steve Goodman and recorded by Arlo Guthrie and many others. Service in both directions is effective Saturday, May 5, with a ribbon-cutting event this Friday evening, May 4. Marks (station code MKS) is about midway between current stops in Greenwood, Miss., and Memphis. Northbound, adult fares from Marks to Memphis start at $20, St. Louis via Carbondale, Ill., $81, and Chicago $87. Southbound, adult fares from Marks to Greenwood start at $20; Jackson, Miss., $27 and New Orleans $47. These fares are each way, with a 14-day advance purchase on Amtrak.com, our mobile apps or by calling 800-USA-RAIL. The conclusion of a nearly two-decade effort, the $1.2 million station is now complete. The new platform and parking area is fully ADA-accessible and the open-air shelter offers heating elements for comfort. Northbound Train 58 to Memphis, Carbondale and Chicago operates in the evening and southbound service by Train 59 to Greenwood, Jackson and New Orleans is during morning hours. See the schedule and book now at Amtrak.com. This project is funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration and appropriated through the Mississippi Department of Transportation with a 20 percent local match from Quitman County. The local match was secured by a grant of $150,000 from the Mississippi Development Authority, and a $300,000 grant from Delta Regional Authority. (Amtrak - posted 5/03)

AMTRAK 30TH STREET STATION IMPROVEMENTS: As part of its ongoing work to enhance the customer experience at Philadelphia 30th Street Station, Amtrak announced today it is seeking a master developer partner to update the historic station. With the release of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), Amtrak begins a two-phase process that will result in the selection of a preferred developer who will assist in: introducing new customer amenities, reinvigorating the retail and commercial potential of the station, enhancing transit and pedestrian circulation and expanding the station’s concourses to accommodate anticipated increases in ridership. “The re-introduction of the RFQ is a significant milestone for Philadelphia, as it represents the next step in realizing the future vision of 30th Street Station,” said Amtrak Senior Program Manager, Natalie Shieh. “By partnering with the right development team, Amtrak will update this world class transportation hub for the traveling public and for the city of Philadelphia, its next great neighborhood.” The historic 30th Street Station is the third busiest station in Amtrak’s national system, serving more than 4 million Amtrak passengers and more than 12 million combined SEPTA and NJ TRANSIT rail commuters annually. Amtrak recently made capital investments at 30th Street Station totalling over $85 million, including the current refurbishment of the building facade, improvements to the public restrooms, replacement of the passenger elevators and escalators and restoration of the historic bronze entrance doors. Information related to the RFQ can be found on the Amtrak Procurement Portal. Learn more about these and many other infrastructure investments that Amtrak is leading at nec.amtrak.com .(Amtrak - posted 5/03)

CN WILL PURCHASE 350 CENTER-BEAM FLATCARS: The Canadian National today announced it will buy 350 centrebeam cars to serve growing demand from lumber producing customers across its North American network. "We are investing to move the economy as we put the rolling stock, infrastructure and people in place to serve the growing needs of our valued customers," said JJ Ruest, interim president and chief executive officer of CN. "These additional centrebeams, combined with our recently-announced acquisition of 350 additional box cars, give us the tools to put more capacity at the disposal of business partners such as West Fraser. CN needs to and will do better moving lumber to market." The new-build, 73-foot riserless centrebeams, with a maximum load capacity of 286,000 pounds, are expected to be delivered starting in September. CN is also looking at an option to purchase or lease an additional 300 cars. "West Fraser looks forward to continuing to work with partners who can provide an effective supply chain serving the solid U.S. housing market," said Ted Seraphim, president and chief executive officer of West Fraser. The new cars will be manufactured in Canada by National Steel Car Ltd. at its assembly plant in Hamilton, Ont. "National Steel Car has been building new freight cars for CN since 1919 and we are honoured to have the opportunity to continue to support CN and the customers they serve throughout North America," said Gregory J. Aziz, chairman and chief executive officer of National Steel Car Limited. "This order will result in the hiring of over 250 employees at our Hamilton assembly plant, which currently employs more than 1,500 people, and will provide extended benefits for Hamilton and the Canadian economy." Bob Bratina, Member of Parliament for Hamilton East - Stoney Creek, said: "CN's investment in new cars to be built at National Steel Car's Hamilton plant is huge for the city, but its impact ripples far beyond the Ontario steel and manufacturing economy. This is an investment in the Canadian economy and workers across the country." Said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, "Hamiltonians are proud of the role CN plays in our community, and this announcement is another vote of confidence in Hamilton and our skilled workforce." As part of CN's record $3.4 billion capital program in 2018, the company is investing in new trade-enabling infrastructure and equipment. In addition to rail cars, CN expects starting in June to take delivery of the first of 60 new GE locomotives due in service in 2018. This spring, CN has started its largest-ever infrastructure investment program, which includes $400 million to build new track and yard capacity to handle increased traffic across CN's Western Region, and to Chicago. The infrastructure program includes new siding and double track projects benefiting forest products, grain, intermodal, coal and potash business. After adding hundreds of train conductors to the field so far this year, CN continues to hire with a particular focus on crews in Western Canada. Approximately 1,250 more train conductors will be in the field before the next winter, compared to the number of conductors available before last winter. (CN- posted 5/02)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR APRIL AND THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 28, 2018? The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 28, 2018, as well as volumes for April 2018. U.S. railroads originated 1,051,026 carloads in April 2018, up 3.3 percent, or 34,020 carloads, from April 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,099,000 containers and trailers in April 2018, up 6.8 percent, or 69,630 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in April 2018 were 2,150,026, up 5.1 percent, or 103,650 carloads and intermodal units from April 2017. In April 2018, 15 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with April 2017. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 8,466 carloads or 8.6 percent; coal, up 7,337 carloads or 2.4 percent; and grain, up 5,305 carloads or 5.7 percent. Commodities that saw declines in April 2018 from April 2017 included: nonmetallic minerals, down 2,513 carloads or 13 percent; waste & nonferrous scrap, down 1,056 carloads or 7.1 percent; and primary forest products, down 651 carloads or 14.6 percent. “Total U.S. rail traffic so far this year is a shade below where it was in 2015, but otherwise is higher than it’s been in the last ten years” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “Additionally, 15 of the 20 commodity categories we track had higher carloads in April 2018 than in April 2017, the most since January 2015. That’s good news for railroads and good news for the economy.” Excluding coal, carloads were up 26,683 carloads, or 3.8 percent, in April 2018 from April 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 21,378 carloads, or 3.5 percent. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first four months of 2018 was 4,347,225 carloads, up 0.6 percent, or 24,993 carloads, from the same period last year; and 4,595,381 intermodal units, up 5.8 percent, or 250,934 containers and trailers, from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 17 weeks of 2018 was 8,942,606 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.2 percent compared to last year. Week Ending April 28, 2018 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 551,498 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 28 were 266,453 carloads, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 285,045 containers and trailers, up 8.1 percent compared to 2017. Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 3,183 carloads, to 78,970; nonmetallic minerals, up 1,866 carloads, to 41,113; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 1,265 carloads, to 10,893. One commodity group posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2017: metallic ores and metals, down 199 carloads, to 24,454. North American rail volume for the week ending April 28, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 372,452 carloads, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 370,863 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 743,315 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2018 was 12,053,949 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 84,115 carloads for the week, up 1.1 percent, and 68,512 intermodal units, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 17 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,465,091 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.7 percent. Mexican railroads reported 21,884 carloads for the week and 17,306 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 17 weeks of 2018 was 646,252 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers. (AAR - posted 5/02)

AMTRAK CELEBRATE 47 YEARS: Today, Amtrak celebrates 47 years of providing passenger rail service across the nation by looking ahead, continually improving the customer experience and making Amtrak the preferred choice of the 21st century for business and leisure travel. “While we celebrate our history, we have a keen eye on the future and are making necessary changes to provide our customers with an unparalleled travel experience,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “Many customers have already noticed these improvements, and can look forward to several more upgrades that are on the way.” Some of the customer-focused improvements underway include:
  • Refreshed trains: Refurbishing the interiors of more than 450 coaches for trains serving the Northeast and Midwest – all by the end of this summer.
  • New Fares: Restructured fare discounts and expanded the use of targeted and flexible sales.
  • Upgraded connectivity: Enhancing Wi-Fi on Northeast Corridor (NEC) trains and at select stations.
  • On-time service: Improving on-time performance on the NEC, updating charter and private train guidelines to minimize impact on operations, and re-doubling our work with freight railroads hosting Amtrak on their lines.
  • Improving schedules: Working with our state partners, Amtrak is providing customers more flexibility and options for travel on the Piedmont, Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin
  • Seat assignments: Introducing assigned seating on select routes to improve the boarding process and allow customers to select their preferred seat before traveling.
  • Improved facilities: Rehabilitating and improving the passenger areas of major stations and increasing staff on board trains to keep busy NEC trains clean.
  • Expanded communications: Offering real-time and frequent information via social media, specifically @AmtrakNEC.
  • Enhanced connectivity: Added Thruway connections and will continue to expand to more cities this summer. Amtrak is also working toward providing seamless ticketing for mass transit services and ride providers to make “last mile” connections.
  • Maximizing mobility options: In the last year, nearly 50,000 small pets and more than 55,000 bikes have traveled with customers, with additional options coming soon.
  • New Onboard Experience Options: Starting in June, Amtrak will offer contemporary and fresh dining choices and amenities for sleeping car customers on the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.
These immediate changes are occurring in advance of more long-term upgrades such as: buying modern train equipment, including Acela trainsets; ongoing Concourse Management Strategy studies of New York Penn Station and; further development of stations in Chicago Washington, D.C., Baltimore-Penn, Philadelphia 30th Street, and the new Moynihan Train Hall in New York. (Amtrak - posted 5/01)

AMTRAK PIEDMONT ADDS DAILY ROUNDTRIP FOR SERVICE FROM RALEIGH TO CHARLOTTE: Customers can soon take advantage of additional opportunities to travel on the Piedmont as Amtrak and NC By Train adds a daily roundtrip for service between the vibrant commercial center of Charlotte and state capital of Raleigh. Tickets are now available to purchase for travel beginning on June 4. To meet the increasing demand for passenger rail service and provide additional capacity, customers will have four daily options to choose from for travel between Raleigh and Charlotte. The Piedmont stops in Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis. The additional daily roundtrip will be the Piedmont Train 77 and will depart Raleigh at 3 p.m., and arrive in Charlotte at 6:10 p.m. The Piedmont Train 78 will depart Charlotte at 7 p.m., and arrive in Raleigh at 10:11 p.m. Also on June 4, schedules will be adjusted for Piedmont Trains 73 & 74 and 75 & 76, and Carolinian Train 80. The Piedmont and Carolinian will soon begin service to the new Raleigh Union Station, at 510 W. Martin St. Customers will continue to take advantage of existing amenities such as the Piedmont Lounge car, which offers onboard snack and drink vending machines. North Carolina Volunteer Train Hosts assist customers and provide information about rail passenger service and points of interest within North Carolina. The Piedmont and Carolinian, which travels daily from New York to Charlotte, offer large spacious seats with ample legroom and no middle seat. Customers can stay connected throughout the entire journey (no “airplane mode”) with Wi-Fi included in the price of a ticket and outlets at every seat. Amtrak offers one-of-a-kind journeys with the chance to relax, move about freely, work or play and connects customers to more than 500 destinations. The Piedmont and Carolinian trains are sponsored by NCDOT and operated by Amtrak. The service is paid for through state funding and passenger fares. Complete schedule information is available at . To purchase tickets, visit www.ncbytrain.org or call 800-BY-TRAIN. Additional information can be found at Amtrak.com or by calling 800-USA-RAIL. (Amtrak - posted 5/01)

UNION PACIFIC ANNOUNCES NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION PARTNERSHIP ENCOURAGING NEXT GEN TO EXPLORE AMERICA'S BACKYARD: Union Pacific's history with the national parks started with creating iconic western parks like Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon and Death Valley, when the railroad provided access to pristine landscapes that were otherwise virtually impossible to visit. Union Pacific today announced a new commitment to help preserve our nation's most unique and inspiring spaces with its multi-year, $3 million partnership with the National Park Foundation for the . Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque movement "Union Pacific transported early park-goers to adventures out west," said Scott Moore, Union Pacific senior vice president of Corporate Relations and chief administrative officer. "Today, we deliver the goods Americans use every day to our nation's busiest cities and quietest towns, passing through rugged, beautiful landscapes. We traverse America's backyard, and we want the next generation to explore it." Through its partnership with the National Park Foundation, Union Pacific will build on its legacy, encouraging young adventurers to explore America's national parks. Union Pacific's partnership supports the National Park Foundation's Open OutDoors for Kids program, which connects kids to parks. The railroad's support will provide national park experiences for thousands of students across the 23 states where Union Pacific operates. National park field trips encourage students to develop a sense of adventure while educating youth about science, history, conservation, and their role in protecting national and local treasures. "If given the choice between reading about Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, or seeing the geyser and taking a breath of fresh, mountain air, there's no comparison," Moore said. "We want this partnership to cultivate lifelong connections between people and parks." "Union Pacific's support enables kids across the country to explore their local national parks," said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. "These national park experiences are unforgettable and instill a desire to discover more." Union Pacific encourages all generations, especially the younger generation and their families to visit www.findyourpark.com www.findyourpark.com to explore what national parks and activities are in their own backyard. Over the coming months, Union Pacific will highlight these beautiful landscapes, historic sites and cultural resources in a number of ways. Details will be published at www.up.com/ExploreAmericasBackyard and on the company's social media channels using #ExploreAmericasBackyard, #FindYourPark and #EncuentraTuParque. (Union Pacific - posted 4/27)

MAINE NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD'S STEAM FEST: The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad will host the Steam Fest on May 19 in Portland, Maine. The event will mark the return of Bridgton and Saco River Steam Locomotive #7 to service! The locomotive has been undergoing restoration since 2007 and the museum will welcome her return with Steam Fest. Both Bridgton and Saco River #7 and Monson #3 will be operating for the event. Trains will operate approximately every thirty minutes throughout the day. Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to see two historic locomotives in action! Adm: adult $10, seniors $9, children (3-12) $6, and 2 and under free. The museum will open 9:30am-4pm with trains running approximately every thirty minutes throughout the day. Info: https://www.mainenarrowgauge.org. (Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad - posted 4/26)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS FIRST-QUARTER 2018 RESULTS: Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported first-quarter financial results. First-quarter net income was $552 million, up 27 percent year-over-year, a result of a 10 percent increase in income from railway operations and a lower effective income tax rate. Diluted earnings per share were $1.93, up 30 percent year-over-year and a first-quarter record. “We are pleased with the continued improvement in our financial performance and the growth in our business,” said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO. “We are focused on improving service for our customers to position us for future growth and efficiency that will benefit both our customers and shareholders. The outlook for 2018 is promising, and we are increasing our expected annual share repurchases to $1.5 billion, confident that we will deliver strong financial performance.” First-quarter summary
  • Railway operating revenues of $2.7 billion increased 6 percent compared with first-quarter 2017, as overall volumes were up 3 percent, reflecting 8 percent growth in our intermodal category that offset declines in merchandise and coal volumes.
  • Railway operating expenses increased $64 million, or 4 percent, to $1.9 billion compared with the same period last year, as higher fuel prices and increased costs associated with overall lower network velocity were offset, in part, by efficiency gains.
  • Income from railway operations was $835 million, an increase of 10 percent year-over-year, a first-quarter record. The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 69.3 percent, also a first-quarter record.
(Norfolk Southern - posted 4/25)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 21, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 21, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 539,425 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 21 were 264,552 carloads, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 274,873 containers and trailers, up 8.9 percent compared to 2017. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 3,922 carloads, to 80,608; nonmetallic minerals, up 3,328 carloads, to 39,387; and grain, up 2,424 carloads, to 25,938. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 were metallic ores and metals, down 1,207 carloads, to 23,972; petroleum and petroleum products, down 995 carloads, to 9,356; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 511 carloads, to 15,542. For the first 16 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,080,772 carloads, up 0.4 percent from the same point last year; and 4,310,336 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2018 was 8,391,108 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 21, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,248 carloads, up 2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 355,613 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 721,861 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 16 weeks of 2018 was 11,310,634 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.7 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 80,327 carloads for the week, down 2.2 percent, and 64,061 intermodal units, down 2.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 16 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,312,464 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.7 percent. Mexican railroads reported 21,369 carloads for the week and 16,679 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 16 weeks of 2018 was 607,062 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers. (AAR - posted 4/25)

CANADIAN NATIONAL ANNOUNCES FIRST QUARTER RESULTS: CN reported its financial and operating results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2018. Financial results highlights
  • First-quarter 2018 compared to first-quarter 2017
  • Net income decreased by 16 per cent to C$741 million, and diluted earnings per share (EPS) decreased by 14 per cent (or 13 per cent on an adjusted basis (1)) to C$1.00.
  • Operating income decreased by 16 per cent to C$1,030 million.
  • Revenues for the first quarter totaled C$3,194 million, a decrease of C$12 million.
  • Revenue ton-miles (RTMs) declined by four per cent and carloadings increased by three per cent.
  • Operating expenses increased by nine per cent to C$2,164 million.
  • Operating ratio of 67.8 per cent, an increase of 6.0 points.
Free cash flow (1) for the first quarter of 2018 was C$322 million, compared with C$848 million for the year-earlier period. JJ Ruest, interim president and chief executive officer of CN, said: “With our entire team focused on restoring operational and service excellence for all our customers, CN has turned the corner on a difficult quarter and winter. Our metrics are showing sustained, sequential improvement, and that momentum will build as we continue to expand track capacity, add crews and bring on new locomotives. “We’ve increased our capital program to C$3.4 billion, with approximately C$400 million being invested in new track infrastructure, particularly in Western Canada, to build capacity and improve resiliency,” Ruest continued. “With the people, equipment and infrastructure in place, and with a solid pipeline of growth opportunities ahead of us, we are confident in our ability to bring long-term value creation to our customers and shareholders.” (CN - posted 4/24)

CP, TCRC-TRAIN & ENGINE AND IBEW TAKE SIGNIFICANT STEPS FORWARD, AVOID WORK STOPPAGE: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited has reached an agreement with both the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference-Train & Engine (TCRC) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which averts the potential work stoppage of 12:01 am Eastern time tomorrow, April 21, 2018. On the recommendation of federal mediators, the Minister of Labour will direct the Canadian Industrial Relations Board to administer a ratification vote on each of the company's final offers to the TCRC and IBEW. "I want to thank the leadership of the TCRC, IBEW, and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for their hard work, collaboration and openness to getting this situation resolved without a work stoppage," said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. "This is tremendous news for our employees, our customers and the Canadian economy." CP will immediately begin to execute a safe and structured start-up of its train operations in Canada. As a result of today's announcement, there will be no disruption to the commuter rail companies operating on CP's network and CP will be able to continue to provide safe and efficient freight service for our customers. There are approximately 3,000 conductors and engineers represented by the TCRC. Approximately 360 signal maintainers are represented by the IBEW. (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 4/23)

METRO TROLLEY TRESTLES IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY FOUND TO BE COMPROMISED NATIONAL PARK SERVICE TO CLOSE TRAIL IMMEDIATELY: Metro structural engineers, in conjunction with the National Park Service, inspected two former trolley trestle bridges in Montgomery County that were once part of a trolley line linking Georgetown to Glen Echo Park, and determined the trestles are structurally compromised. In the interest of public safety, the National Park Service has immediately closed the trail beneath the trolley trestle at Walhonding Road, known as the Sycamore Store Trail, until further notice. The closure of the trail will block access to the pedestrian overpass leading to the C & O Canal Towpath from MacArthur Boulevard. Temporary fencing is being installed and signage posted to notify the public. As an alternative, pedestrians and cyclists may access the C & O Canal Towpath from several other locations, including the trail next to the Union Arch Bridge on MacArthur Boulevard and via Clara Barton Parkway at Locks 7, 8 and 9. The second trestle, located at Wilson Lane, is not accessible from a public path. Both trestles, which are more than 120 years old, are located on National Park Service land and were acquired by Metro as the result of a settlement of a lawsuit in 1997. Metro remains engaged with the National Park Service to determine the best solution for restoring visitor access. (Washington Metro - posted 4/23)

!-- BEGINNING A NEWS BLOCK --> GE CONSIDERS SALE OF LOCOMOTIVE UNIT TO WABTEC: General Electric Co. is negotiating with Wabtec concerning the sale of its locomotive manufacturing unit. A deal for the sale of the GE unit has not been concluded. If negotiations fall through, GE will look at other venues to sell its locomotive manufacturing unit. (Randy Kotuby - posted 4/20)

AMTRAK DOWNGRADES FOOD SERVICE ON TWO LONG DISTANCE TRAINS: Amtrak will offer contemporary and fresh dining choices for sleeping car customers, instead of traditional dining car service, embarking aboard its Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains starting June 1. Sleeping car customers will choose meals delivered to their Bedrooms or Roomettes – or eaten in a private café or lounge car – and entrees such as:
  • Lunch & Dinner: Chilled beef tenderloin, Vegan wrap, Chicken Caesar salad, or Turkey club sandwich.
  • Breakfast: Assorted breakfast breads with butter, cream cheese and strawberry jam; Greek yogurt and sliced seasonal fresh fruit plate.
These meals will continue to be included in the sleeping car fare and are delivered to the trains just prior to origination, eliminating on-board preparation. Customers will also be offered unlimited soft beverages, a complimentary serving of beer, wine or a mixed-drink and an amenity kit. A Kosher meal continues to be available with advance notice. “Our plan is to provide new and fresh food choices in a contemporary way for these overnight trains,” said Bob Dorsch, Vice President of the Amtrak Long Distance Service Line. “Our continued success depends on increasing customer satisfaction while becoming more efficient.” Dorsch said this enhancement will continue to be refined and we look forward to hearing from our customers. The Capitol Limited (Trains 29 & 30) operates daily between Washington, D.C., and Chicago, via Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The Lake Shore Limited (Trains 48 & 49) typically operates daily between Chicago and New York, with a section to and from Boston (Trains 448 & 449). (Amtrak - posted 4/19)

CSX REPORTS SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS: CSX Corporation announced record first quarter 2018 net earnings of $695 million, or $0.78 per share, versus $362 million, or $0.39 per share in the same period last year. CSX’s operating ratio for the quarter improved 950 basis points to 63.7 percent from 73.2 percent in the prior year. Compared to 2017 first quarter adjusted operating results, which excluded restructuring charges, this represents an operating ratio improvement of 570 basis points and a 53 percent increase in earnings per share year over year. “CSX employees did a great job of running the railroad and executing the scheduled railroading model during challenging weather conditions,” said James M. Foote, president and chief executive officer. “We’re more confident in our ability to deliver safe, reliable, best-in-class service for our customers and enhanced value for our shareholders.” Revenue for the first quarter remained relatively flat at $2.88 billion, while expenses declined 13 percent year over year or 8 percent when excluding prior year restructuring charges. Operating income for the quarter increased 36 percent to $1.04 billion when compared to $769 million in the same period last year or 19 percent when compared to the adjusted operating income of $879 million reported in the first quarter of 2017. “Since implementation of scheduled railroading began in March 2017, CSX has taken significant strides to transform the organization and to make CSX more competitive,” said Foote. “Our company’s operating model provides substantial opportunities to leverage our service product offering, capture growth and deliver superior financial returns.” (CSX - posted 4/18)

CANADIAN PACIFIC REPORTS SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced first-quarter reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.41, or $2.70 on an adjusted diluted EPS basis. "This was a challenging quarter, as we battled extreme weather and unprecedented demand, specifically in the northern reaches of our network," said Keith Creel, CP's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Despite these challenges, we delivered 6 percent more freight than last year, demonstrating once again the resiliency of our operating model and the commitment from our family of professional railroaders. With the extraordinary winter weather behind us, we built a tremendous amount of momentum through March - one of our best months in recent history - positioning us well for the rest of the year." FIRST-QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
  • Volumes as measured by revenue ton-miles increased 6 percent and carloads increased 4 percent
  • Revenue increased by 4 percent to $1.66 billion from $1.60 billion
  • Reported diluted EPS $2.41, an 18 percent decrease from $2.93, and adjusted diluted EPS was $2.70, an 8 percent increase from $2.50 last year
  • Operating ratio was 67.5 percent, an increase of 510 basis points and 190 basis points compared to last year's operating ratio and adjusted operating ratio, respectively. Effective January 1, 2018, CP adopted a new accounting standard for the presentation of pension retirement benefits which resulted in a 430 basis point increase in CP's 2017 operating ratio.(1)
"We continue to produce results using the foundations of precision railroading and remain confident in our ability to deliver sustainable, profitable growth in 2018 and beyond," Creel said. "We look forward to showcasing our proven operating model, strong leadership team, and commitment to disciplined growth at our Investor Day on June 5 and 6 in Calgary." Randy Kotuby, CP - posted 4/18)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 14, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 14, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 534,198 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 14 were 258,123 carloads, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,075 containers and trailers, up 6.9 percent compared to 2017. Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included motor vehicles and parts, up 2,609 carloads, to 18,838; metallic ores and metals, up 2,174 carloads, to 24,785; and nonmetallic minerals, up 1,420 carloads, to 37,834. One commodity group posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2017: coal, down 6,265 carloads, to 75,778. For the first 15 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,816,220 carloads, up 0.2 percent from the same point last year; and 4,035,463 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 15 weeks of 2018 was 7,851,683 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 14, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,625 carloads, up 2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,909 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 724,534 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2018 was 10,588,773 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.6 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 84,648 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 67,335 intermodal units, up 7.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 15 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,168,076 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 20,854 carloads for the week and 17,499 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2018 was 569,014 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers (AAR - posted 4/18)

CANADIAN NATIONAL TO TAKEOVER THE GODERICH-EXETER RAILWAY: Canadian National will assume operations of Genesee & Wyoming's Goderich-Exeter Railway effective November 15, 2018. The Goderich-Exeter is a 181 mile railroad in Southern Ontario created from Canadian National track in 1992. Originally the line was part of RailTex, then Rail America, before becoming a Genesee & Wyoming property.The railroad has been upgraded with CTC to accomodate VIA Rail passenger trains that operate over the line. (Bryce Lee - posted 4/17)

SEPTA PUBLIC HEARINGS ON FISCAL YEAR 2019 OPERATING BUDGET: This week, SEPTA begins a series of public hearings regarding the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget. The proposal is available at http://septa.org/strategic-plan/reports/2019-03-operating-budget-proposal.pdf. . The proposed Operating Budget is $1.45 billion, and maintains current SEPTA service levels, with no increase in fares for riders. Fiscal Year 2019 is the 12-month period that begins July 1, 2018 and ends June 30, 2019. The operating budget provides funding for the everyday costs of running the transit system, such as labor, fuel and power. Hearings will be held in each of the five counties in the SEPTA service region from Wednesday, April 18 through Tuesday, April 24. Customers, residents, stakeholders and other members of the public are encouraged to attend, ask questions and submit comments. An independent Hearing Examiner will attend all sessions, and make recommendations before the proposal goes to the SEPTA Board for a vote. The public hearing schedule is as follows:
  • Wednesday, April 18: Delaware County Court House, County Council Room-1st Floor; 201 We st Front Street, Media, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 19: Bucks County Free Library, Pearl Buck Room; 150 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Friday, April 20: (Chester County) Spellman Building, Council Meeting Room; 829 Paoli Pike, West Chester, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Monday, April 23: (Philadelphia) SEPTA Headquarters - Board Room, Mezzanine Level; 1234 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA. Sessions at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 24: Montgomery County Human Services Center Community Room, Main Floor; 1430 DeKalb Street, Norristown, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
For further details on the budget, please see the full proposal at http://septa.org/strategic- plan/reports/2019-03-operating-budget-proposal.pdf. . (SEPTA - posted 4/16)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN SUES CREW INVOLVED IN COLLISION: Norfolk Southern has sued in federal court an engineer and conductor who were aboard a freight train than collided with another NS train last month in Scott County, Ky. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the suit claims the crew ignored a signal and failed to reduce the speed of their moving train and prevent the March 18 collision with a stopped train. NS’s lawsuit seeks compensation from the crew for damages caused by the collision, which destroyed two locomotives and caused 13 cars to derail, the newspaper reported (SMART/Sheet Metal Air Rail Union - posted 4/13)

VIA RAIL AWARDS $46 MILLION CONTRACT TO CAD RAILWAY INDUSTRIES FOR RENOVATION OF 25 TRAIN CARS: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) has awarded a contract valued at $46 million to Cad Railway Industries (Cad) to upgrade 25 train cars intended for use on the long-haul train, the Canadian. Built in the 1950s, these cars will be completely refurbished and transformed to better meet our clients’ present and future needs. VIA Rail President and Chief Executive Officer Yves Desjardins-Siciliano announced the investment this morning at the company’s Montreal site in the presence of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport; Anju Dhillon, Member of Parliament for Dorval-Lachine-LaSalle; Françoise Bertrand, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, VIA Rail; and Fausto Levy, Cad Chairperson of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer. This work will be undertaken by 100 Cad employees at their Montreal facilities. As part of VIA Rail’s commitment to sustainable mobility, the contract awarded to Cad to renovate these stainless steel cars will extend their useful life by a few decades and is in keeping with the Corporation’s “reuse-recycle-upgrade” approach. The cars will be retrofitted with a view to enhancing the passenger experience and making the equipment more reliable. The work will include:
  • updating the interior design of the cars;
  • improving seat comfort;
  • installing devices to make the cars Wi-Fi ready for future deployment;
  • carrying out a mechanical upgrading;
  • renewing the heating systems;
  • replacing various electronic/electrical components.
Providing safe, accessible and environmentally sound services The renovations are part of VIA Rail’s transformation plan for Canadian rail passenger service. This plan includes renovating a part of the rolling stock and acquiring a new fleet for the Quebec City – Windsor corridor. Funding for these undertakings was approved by the federal government in its 2017 and 2018 Budgets, respectively. As part of this program, a contract was awarded to Bombardier Transportation for the renovation of 17 train cars that will form a new fully accessible generation of cars. This work will significantly increase the number of refurbished 1950s-era cars to better serve our clients. The program is scheduled to be completed in 2020. The contracts with Cad and Bombardier are in addition to 33 cars currently under renovation, and the other cars that were converted over the past years by VIA Rail’s Montreal Maintenance Centre experts. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 4/12)

MTA APPOINTS TRANSPORTATION VETERAN PHILLIP ENG AS LIRR PRESIDENT: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Joseph J. Lhota and MTA Managing Director Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim today announced the appointment of Phillip Eng as the next president of MTA Long Island Rail Road. Eng first joined the MTA in March 2017 when he was appointed Chief Operating Officer, where he was responsible for leading major initiatives across all of the MTA’s agencies with a focus on innovation and technology while maintaining and improving safety and reliability. Modernization of the transportation systems became a key focal point during his time as COO to improve customer service with the development of new fare payment systems, mobile ticketing apps, technology integration, and procurement of new rolling stock and buses. Finding efficiencies and opportunities to streamline functions, Eng also was an integral part in the delivery of MTA’s 2015-2019 $29.5 billion Capital Program. From October 2017 to January 2018, Eng concurrently held the position of Acting President at New York City Transit. “Phil has shown exceptional leadership and dedication during his time at the MTA, and I know he will bring his enthusiasm for developing a world-class transportation system to the LIRR,” Lhota said. “With 35 years of experience in the New York transportation sector, I couldn’t imagine anyone better suited for this position at this crucial time as we work toward creating a robust future for the commuter rail.” “Phil is a true professional in the field of transportation who has impressed all of us at the MTA since he came aboard,” said Hakim. “He has the ability to quickly assess any challenging situation and find a workable solution. We look forward to working with him in his new role.” Eng succeeds Patrick Nowakowski, who served as LIRR president for nearly four years. Eng’s appointment comes at an exciting and important time for the LIRR, as billions of dollars in key infrastructure programs are currently underway and expected to be delivered over the next several years. The Double Track Project, which will add a second track to the Ronkonkoma Branch between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale, is slated for completion later this year. Work has begun on the LIRR Expansion Project, which will bring a third track to the Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville, while crews continue to make progress on the East Side Access project. Eng will oversee the implementation of the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), unveiled last month, which is aimed at improving service reliability, seasonal preparedness and customer communications. “My life’s work has centered on conceptualizing the best possible options to make transportation options more reliable, allowing commuters to get where they need to go safely and quickly. I am honored to be chosen to lead the LIRR and its team of talented women and men as we work together to make the daily experience on the trains a better one. The transformational infrastructure projects that are underway, along with the implementation of the Performance Improvement Plan, will make a lasting impact on the region’s quality of life and economy,” Eng said. Before joining the MTA, Eng started his career in public service at New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) in 1983 as a Junior Engineer. He gained expertise while working his way up from Construction Supervisor, to Director of Operations, to Regional Director of the Department’s New York City office and Chief Engineer, until his final post there as Executive Deputy Commissioner. His leadership focused on all aspects of the Department including: engineering, operations and capital planning, where he was also directly responsible for the delivery of the Department’s $2.5 billion annual capital construction program. During his tenure there, Eng played an integral role on significant projects such as the I-81 Environmental Impact Study (EIS), LIRR Mainline Expansion Project EIS, Rochester Station and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to replace the Kosciuszko Bridge. A graduate of Cooper Union, Eng earned his Bachelor of Engineering degree and is a licensed professional engineer in New York State, and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Eng was born and raised on Long Island. He grew up in Williston Park, moved to Mineola as his first residence, and now resides in Smithtown with his wife, Carole, and their two sons and twin daughters. “My home stations have been East Williston, Mineola and Smithtown now,” he said. (MTA - posted 4/12)

READING & NORTHERN WINS MAJOR MARKETING AWARD: Yesterday the American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association awarded the industry’s highest award for marketing achievement to the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad. This is the fourth time Reading & Northern has won this prestigious award in the last eight years. Bill Clark, Senior Vice President - Coal accepted the award yesterday at a ceremony in Nashville, TN. The Association recognized Reading & Northern for its efforts to connect a large anthracite coal producer, Atlantic Coal in Hazleton, to the interstate railroad system. The project was made more complicated because the facility was along the lines of Norfolk Southern Railroad. Reading & Northern had rights to travel over the Norfolk Southern line and with the active support of the Norfolk Southern Coal Business Group, Reading & Northern was able to get permission to connect to the Atlantic Coal facility. This cooperative effort was an acknowledgment of the unique role Reading & Northern holds in transporting Pennsylvania anthracite. Long known as “The Road of Anthracite”, Reading & Northern has acquired over 1200 coal cars and a weigh-in-motion scale in North Reading to facilitate the movement of Pennsylvania anthracite. At Reading the railcars filled with anthracite coal is interchanged to Norfolk Southern. In 2017 over 7300 cars were interchanged to Norfolk Southern. This close working relationship caused Norfolk Southern to greenlight the Reading & Northern plan to connect with Atlantic Coal. Even after that approval it took almost seven years of hard work and persistence for Reading & Northern and Atlantic Coal to complete the project. Atlantic Coal had to acquire government approvals to build the track and ultimately Reading & Northern completed the construction in 2017. In its first partial year of operation Atlantic Coal shipped over 500 carloads of anthracite. It is anticipated that Atlantic Coal will soon be shipping in excess of 2,000 carloads a year, thus removing over 8,000 trucks from local roads and highways. Reading & Northern’s superior marketing and business development efforts is reflected in its growth. Over the last 5 years, Reading & Northern’s carloadings increased 50%. In 2017 Reading & Northern broke all its freight records and handled over 31,000 carloads. In addition, Reading & Northern’s passenger operation, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, also broke all previous ridership record as over 120,000 visitors rode its trains. Reading & Northern Railroad, with its corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, is a privately held railroad company serving over 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has expanded its operations over the last 20+ years and has grown into one of the premier railroads in Pennsylvania with over 320 miles of track. Reading and Northern operates both freight services and steam and diesel-powered excursion passenger services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, owns almost 1,300 freight cars, and employs over 200 dedicated employees (R&N - posted 4/11)

MBTA TO REBUILD WELLINGTON YARD AND UPGRADE ORANGE LINE SIGNAL SYSTEM: The MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) voted to award a $102.7 million contract for rebuilding the Wellington Rail Yard and upgrading its signal systems to Barletta Heavy Division. "At a total capital investment of $1.98 billion, we are not only purchasing a new fleet of Orange and Red Line vehicles, but our Red and Orange Line Infrastructure Improvements Program also covers infrastructure upgrades to track, power, signals, and facilities like Wellington Yard," said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. "Although customers might not feel the immediate impact of these upgrades, they are just as necessary to providing a more reliable, dependable service that our customers deserve." The 36-month project is necessary to support the arrival of 152 new Orange Line cars. Under the contract, Barletta is responsible for the replacement of critical elements throughout Wellington Yard, allowing for the operation, proper maintenance, and reliable service for the new vehicle fleet. The scope includes:
  • excavation
  • drainage system repairs
  • new ballast and ties
  • new running and restraining rail
  • traction power work
  • switches
  • signal equipment
  • switch heater control cases
  • third rail heater control cables
  • junction boxes
  • signal cable conduit and trough duct banks
  • wayside telephone system
  • fixed WiFi data network
  • CCTV system
  • fiber optic/copper cable network system for local voice/data communications
Barletta submitted the lowest of 3 bids for the contract. (MBTA - posted 4/11)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 7, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 7, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 524,905 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 7 were 261,898 carloads, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,007 containers and trailers, up 3.1 percent compared to 2017. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 6,497 carloads, to 81,476; metallic ores and metals, up 2,427 carloads, to 23,401; and chemicals, up 2,138 carloads, to 33,694. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included motor vehicles and parts, down 759 carloads, to 17,103; nonmetallic minerals, down 587 carloads, to 35,567; and miscellaneous carloads, down 331 carloads, to 9,087. For the first 14 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,558,097 carloads, up 0.1 percent from the same point last year; and 3,759,388 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2018 was 7,317,485 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.7 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 7, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 365,482 carloads, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 349,005 intermodal units, up 4.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 714,487 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2018 was 9,864,299 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 83,042 carloads for the week, up 6.5 percent, and 69,295 intermodal units, up 10.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 14 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,016,093 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 20,542 carloads for the week, down 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,703 intermodal units, down 2.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2018 was 530,721 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.9 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 4/11)

AMTRAK EMPIRE CONNECTION RENEWAL PROGRAM THIS SUMMER: Amtrak will continue its Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station during Summer 2018 by performing critical reconstruction of three major railroad infrastructure assets in New York City: The Empire Tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, which provides train access between Upstate New York and New York Penn Station, as well as renewal work on Track 19 in New York Penn Station, which will help provide commuters with more reliable service. The total cost of the projects is estimated between $45 and $50 million, which will keep this important infrastructure in a state of good repair for Amtrak and benefit New York State with an upgraded, state-of-the art railroad. Due to the work on the Empire Connection and Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Adirondack, and Maple Leaf trains will all be rerouted from New York Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal between Saturday, May 26, and Tuesday, Sept. 4. The Lake Shore Limited will only operate between Boston and Chicago, with New York City and Hudson Valley customers connecting from Empire Service trains at Albany-Rensselaer. While the schedules have yet to be finalized, there will be fewer service impacts and schedule changes compared to Summer 2017. The work on Track 19 will occur between Friday, June 8, and Friday, July 20. The modified schedule Amtrak announced in January 2018 will continue until the work on Track 19 is complete. “Amtrak is continuing to prioritize updating the infrastructure in and around New York Penn Station to improve our service reliability,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President and COO Scot Naparstek. “We thank our partners for their coordination and flexibility as we continue this important and necessary work.” Specifics of the work include:
  • Empire Connection – Amtrak will be replacing track in the Empire Tunnel, as well as replacing cross ties, grade crossings and 8,000 feet of continuous rail, including the track between the tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.
  • Spuyten Duyvil Bridge – Amtrak will be updating the bridge’s mechanical and electrical equipment, which was corroded by Hurricane Sandy.
  • Track 19 at New York Penn Station – Amtrak will replace three turnouts and conduct total ballasted track and wood tie track replacement.
Amtrak is in the process of updating its schedule to reflect the adjusted train service. Amtrak’s reservation systems will be updated to reflect the reroute of trains to Grand Central Terminal once the schedule is determined, and any passenger already booked on a train will be contacted and accommodated on other scheduled services. Additional information and updates will be posted on Amtrak.com and Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal. Amtrak will also have staff and Quik-Trak ticketing kiosks at Grand Central Terminal throughout the Summer. While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required. During the summer of 2017, Amtrak kicked off its Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station, and continued it in early 2018. The Infrastructure Renewal program is one element of Amtrak’s plan to modernize stations, infrastructure, and equipment on the Northeast Corridor. (Amtrak - posted 4/09)

NJ TRANSIT APPROVES ELIZABETH STATION RECONSTRUCTION: The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today approved the reconstruction of the Elizabeth rail station. The project features new inbound and outbound station buildings, longer platforms for additional boarding capacity as well as improvements to ADA access, security and communications systems and improvements to the customer experience - posted 4/09) “This project is a perfect example of the investments we are making to restore the rail system,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “A new, modern and efficient station capable of handling the demands of this important Northeast Corridor stop is critical. This project is emblematic of the turn-around we are beginning at NJ TRANSIT.” The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved the Final Design and Construction contract with Anselmi and DeCicco in the amount of $49.2 million. In addition, the Board of Directors approved a contract for Construction Management Services with WSP USA Inc. in the amount of $4.7 million. The total project cost is estimated at $71 million and construction is scheduled to finish in summer 2022. When complete, customers will enjoy new station buildings, longer platforms for improved boarding of 12-car trains, climate controlled platform shelters, additional elevators, improved ADA access, new customer communication systems and additional security elements (NJ Transit - posted 4/10)

LIRR TO TEST UPGRADED SIGNAL SYSTEM AND PERFORM PTC TESTS DURING UPCOMING WEEKENDS: Long Island Rail Road crews will work on a series of important projects over the next several weekends, including tests on East Side Access signals, and Positive Train Control, as well as tie replacement on the Reynold’s Bridge, which spans Reynolds Channel and connects Island Park to the City of Long Beach. This Friday, April 6, to Monday, April 9, and again from April 13-15, testing will be performed on a new signal system at Harold Interlocking, an important step furthering progress on the East Side Access project that will connect the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal. The work will begin each Friday at 10:18 p.m. and continue to 5 a.m. each Monday. On the weekends of April 6, 13 and 20, LIRR crews will replace ties at Reynold’s Channel Bridge. To allow for this work, the Long Beach Branch between Valley Stream and Long Beach stations will be out of service on these weekends from Fridays at 10:30 p.m. until those Mondays at 3:01 a.m. Customers on this span of the branch will be accommodated by buses. Simultaneously, the LIRR will perform critical tests needed for Positive Train Control (PTC) between Woodside and Bayside on the Port Washington Branch. Positive Train Control is a major safety enhancement for the LIRR that is designed to eliminate the potential for human error to contribute to a number of types of derailments and train-to-train collisions. On the Port Jefferson Branch, preparations will be done in Woodbury and Huntington in anticipation of new rail to be installed in this area as part of the Continuous Welded Rail program, an ongoing initiative to renew track infrastructure assets. This work will be done on April 7-8 and 14-15 from 12:30 a.m. on Saturdays to 12:45 a.m. on Sundays. Temporary road closures at crossings at Avery Road in Woodbury, as well as Gate Drive, Rogues Path, Oakwood Road and 11th Street in Huntington may be necessary for 20-30 minutes at certain times. MTA and LIRR personnel will be on site to ensure a safe and orderly operation. The new signal system at Harold Interlocking will ensure smooth and improved train service through the interlocking, an integral piece of infrastructure containing numerous switches that route trains across the tracks that lead to Penn Station. The new system is based on microprocessor technology, which has built-in redundancies and replaces an older hard-wired relay-based signal system. To allow for the East Side Access, Positive Train Control and Reynold’s Channel Bridge projects, some LIRR train departure times may be altered, and train service on some branches will be adjusted. The LIRR urges customers to view special timetables found at http://web.mta.info/lirr/Timetable. for a complete listing of train schedules for these weekends. The Long Beach Branch, Port Jefferson Branch, and Port Washington Branch will experience the most notable service changes (MTA - posted 4/09)

SEPTA UPGRADING CHESTNUT HILL EAST LINE: Beginning April 7, SEPTA in-house forces and third-party contractors will perform work as part of a series of projects that will improve service reliability along the Chestnut Hill East Regional Rail Line. While crews are working, there will be no train service at Chestnut Hill East Stations for three consecutive Saturdays, April 7, 14, and 21.
  • During construction, SEPTA crews and third-party contractors will perform the following:
  • Replace wood ties and timbers for a major undergrade bridge near Wayne Junction Station;
  • Make structural repairs to a catenary structure, damaged during a storm, near Wister Station;
  • Install new platform walking surfaces at Wyndmoor Station;
  • Trim trees along the entire Chestnut Hill East Line to restore sage electrical clearance around high voltage traction power lines;
  • Perform track maintenance work on curves at Germantown Station;
  • Soil boring and sampling track fill for analysis near Wyndmoor Station;
  • Bridge painting and conducting structural inspections.
Trenton Regional Rail Line trains that normally operate through Center City to Chestnut Hill East Stations will terminate at Temple University Station. Passengers taking SEPTA Regional Rail should use the Chestnut Hill West Line as an alternate service option to complete their trips between Center City and Chestnut Hill. Chestnut Hill West Regional Rail trains will operate on a regular Saturday schedule with trains providing hourly service. (SEPTA - posted 4/09)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN MULTI-STATE SAFETY TRAIN TOUR UNDERWAY: Norfolk Southern's safety train will stop in 23 cities during 2018 as part of its Operation Awareness & Response program, which provides first responders with free training on how to safely respond to a potential rail incident. The safety train kicked off today in Hattiesburg, Miss., with three days of training at Norfolk Southern's rail yard there. Additional stops on the 2018 tour include communities in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The complete 2018 training schedule is available at the OAR website. At each location, NS hazardous materials specialists lead a four-hour course that combines classroom instruction and hands-on training on a locomotive and rail cars. Emergency personnel attending the training learn about railroad operations, basic safety precautions, initial-response procedures, types of rail equipment, and who to contact in an emergency. Following completion of the course, qualified emergency responders can download AskRail™, a free mobile application that provides immediate information about rail cars carrying hazardous materials should a rail incident occur. "Our safety train is helping Norfolk Southern build and strengthen relationships with first responders across our network," said David Schoendorfer, system manager hazardous materials. "We want them to be equipped with the tools and resources they need to safely do their jobs when responding to potential rail incidents. It's all about helping our communities be prepared and safe." The safety train consists of a dedicated locomotive, two boxcars converted into classrooms, three tank cars used in transporting all types of chemicals, and two flat cars equipped with intermodal containers and multiple tank car valve arrangements that can simulate leaks. Each year, NS offers training to first responders in communities served by the railroad through programs such as TRANSCAER® (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response), a national network that promotes the safe transportation and handling of hazardous materials. The OAR program builds on these efforts by providing additional training opportunities such as classroom seminars, web-based courses, on-line resources, table-top drills, and full-scale exercises. (Norfolk Southern - posted 4/09)

TULIP TIME TRAINS: Amtrak is offering additional service between Chicago and Holland, Mich. for travelers to Holland’s annual Tulip Time Festival. A special stop at Hammond-Whiting, Ind., is also added. These trains on the Pere Marquette route, sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), will run on two Saturdays during the festival, May 5 and May 12, enabling same-day visits to what has been heralded as the nation’s “Best Flower Festival” and “America’s Best Small-Town Festival,” with more than 5 million tulips in bloom. Skip tolls, traffic and parking fees by departing from Chicago at 7:05 a.m. and Hammond-Whiting at 7:30 a.m. (both times Central), arriving in Holland at 11:29 a.m. (Eastern Time). The return trip leaves Holland at 5:50 p.m. (ET), Hammond-Whiting at 7:52 p.m. (CT) and arrives in Chicago at 8:24 p.m. (CT). Parking at the Amtrak Hammond-Whiting station is free of charge and eastbound, Train 374, and westbound, Train 375, will also make intermediate stops at St. Joseph and Bangor. The full schedule can be seen when booking via http://www.Amtrak.com. , our mobile apps, or by calling 800-USA-RAIL. Book now for best availability and pricing. Adult fares on the Amtrak MidwestSM trains on those Saturdays range from $26-$48 each way. All Pere Marquette trains will stop at Hammond-Whiting on May 5 and 6 and May 12 and 13. The Pere Marquette also provides daily service from Chicago to Holland for travel during the nine-day festival. The Michigan page on Amtrak.com has more information. In addition to the millions of blooming tulips, on Saturday, May 5, Tulip Time visitors can experience Tulip City tours, an artisan market, Kinderplaats, a quilt show, carnival, Dutch dance performances, and shopping in Downtown Holland. On Saturday, May 12, enjoy Tall Ships dockside, the quilt show and carnival, Dutch Marktplaats and food court, more shopping and Muziekparade, the largest parade of the week. Information on shuttle services from the Holland station area and best ways to get around town on specific dates, along with the times and locations of all events are in this guide, by calling the Holland Area Visitors Bureau at 800-506-1299, or by visiting http://www.Holland.org. (Amtrak - posted 4/09)

BOMBARDIER SECURES RAIL SERVICES CONTRACT EXTENSION WITH MARYLAND TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: Bombardier Transportation announced that it has signed a five-year extension to its current contract with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to provide operations and maintenance services for the Brunswick and Camden Lines of the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) Rail System. The contract extension is valued at approximately $288 million US (233 million euro). Benoit Brossoit, President, Americas Region, Bombardier Transportation said, “We look forward to continuing to fulfill the mission of MTA by providing safe, efficient, and reliable transportation with world-class customer service. Bombardier’s strong services portfolio complements our innovative products and technologies, allowing us to form a genuine partnership with our customers throughout the entire product life cycle.” Bombardier has been providing operations and maintenance services for the MARC Train’s Brunswick and Camden Linesunder a contract awarded in 2012. The scope of work includes operations, maintenance of a fleet of diesel locomotives and commuter rail cars including Bombardier-built multi-level vehicles, customer service, station and facility maintenance, and maintenance of rail infrastructure for the portion of the Brunswick Line owned by MTA. An established Bombardier customer, MTA is a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation and one of the largest multi-modal transit systems in the United States. In addition to providing operations and maintenance services for the MARC Train’s Brunswick and Camden lines, Bombardier also is overhauling 63 MARC III bi-level commuter rail coaches. Previously, Bombardier manufactured 54 multi-level MARC IV coaches for the MTA and overhauled 34 single-level MARC IIB coaches. (Bombardier- posted 3/30)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 24, 2018: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 526,521 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending March 24 were 265,756 carloads, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 260,765 containers and trailers, up 0.3 percent compared to 2017. Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 7,979 carloads, to 87,348; chemicals, up 1,756 carloads, to 33,788; and nonmetallic minerals, up 667 carloads, to 35,776. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included motor vehicles and parts, down 1,717 carloads, to 16,675; miscellaneous carloads, down 1,504 carloads, to 9,417; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 697 carloads, to 9,889. For the first 12 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,030,729 carloads, down 0.5 percent from the same point last year; and 3,227,100 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 12 weeks of 2018 was 6,257,829 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending March 24, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 369,719 carloads, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 347,774 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 717,493 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 12 weeks of 2018 was 8,429,626 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 82,618 carloads for the week, up 3 percent, and 70,986 intermodal units, up 13.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 12 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,712,693 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.4 percent. Mexican railroads reported 21,345 carloads for the week, down 0.03 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,023 intermodal units, down 8.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 12 weeks of 2018 was 459,104 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year. (FRA - posted 3/29)

STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD GRANTS: Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of 27 rail freight improvement projects that will help sustain more than 400 jobs across Pennsylvania. “Keeping our extensive rail freight system in good shape is a vital component of creating a sound foundation for Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Governor Wolf. “These investments underscore our continued commitment in building a world-class infrastructure system that supports the creation of new jobs and our business community.” The State Transportation Commission voted to approve $32 million for the projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP). “Rail freight is an important component of Pennsylvania’s transportation network and these investments create opportunities for expansion and job creation,” Secretary Richards said. “Governor Wolf and I are committed to delivering transportation services that keep people and goods moving and the economy growing in Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania, with 67 operating railroads, has more than any other state and PennDOT’s focus is on working with private rail operators to assist in maintaining and improving the roughly 5,600 miles of freight lines in the state. Following is a list of approved rail freight projects with the state share:
  • Allegheny County Allegheny Valley Railroad Co., rehabilitate nearly 10 miles of the P&W subdivision from Bakerstown to Glenwood Yard, including replacing continuous welded rail and surfacing track to maintain safe rail operations, $2.9 million. The Techs Industries, rehabilitate about three miles of track including tie replacement and track surfacing at the MetalTech and GalvTech facilities in Pittsburgh to maintain safe rail operations, $328,277. Tube City IMS, LLC, rehabilitate about one mile of track in the West Mifflin plant yard as part of a 4 phased project, including replacing turnouts and ties, track surfacing, and track realignment to increase efficiency of yard operations, $700,000.
  • Allegheny and Washington counties Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Company, rehabilitate 18 railroad bridges on Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Company’s Pittsburgh and Rook Subdivisions including structural and bridge deck, $2.3 million.
  • Beaver County Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC, construct 10 miles of track from Aliquippa to Monaca, PA to transport construction materials for Shell’s plant and outbound product from the completed plant, which will improve the efficiency of operations and safety, $3.8 million.
  • Berks, Bucks, Lancaster, and Montgomery counties East Penn RR LLC, rehabilitate 12 miles of track on the Lancaster Northern line and 11 miles of track on the Quakertown line, including ties and track surfacing to maintain safe operations, $630,000.
  • Bucks County Tyburn RR LLC, rehabilitate about one mile of track at Tyburn Railroad’s Morrisville, truck transfer facility, including the replacement of 800 ties and track surfacing to maintain a state of good repair, $92,400.
  • Cambria County Gautier Steel, rehabilitate Gautier Steel’s plant tracks including replacing ties and rail, which will improve rail and truck traffic to and from the facility, $239,172.
  • Chester County Arcelor Mittal Plate, LLC, replace six turnouts and rehabilitate 450 feet of track at Arcelor Mittal Plate’s West Yard in Coatesville to improve track conditions, $286,944. Mittal Steel USA Railways, Inc., Rehabilitate approximately 700 feet of track and replace 4 turnouts at Arcelor Mittal Plate’s Coatesville plant, including track re-alignment to support the movement of industry standard rail cars, $362,943.
  • Clearfield and Indiana counties RJ Corman RR Company, rehabilitate about 36 miles of track including rail, ties, ballast, and track surfacing on the Clearfield Cluster’s Cherry Tree, Cresson, and Wallaceton subdivisions to improve the efficiency of operations and safety, $4.2 million.
  • Clearfield and Jefferson counties Buffalo Pittsburgh Railroad, Inc., rehabilitate about 20 miles of track between Brookville and Falls Creek, facilitating continued freight rail service to Brookville Equipment Corp., $2.1 million.
  • Crawford County Oil Creek Titusville Lines, Inc., rehabilitate Oil Creek Titusville’s railroad bridge over Church Run including structural and bridge deck, $40,425.
  • Dauphin County Mittal Steel USA Railways Steelton & Highspire, rehabilitate approximately four miles of track, including the replacement of 10 turnouts, five crossings, and track surfacing to facilitate the safe movement of raw materials and finished steel products, $2 million. Norfolk Southern, realign Norfolk Southern’s track in Middletown, which will provide greater clearances for rail freight trains and reduce track curvature, $3.9 million.
  • Erie County W J Beitler Co., construct a rail siding from Pittsburgh and Ohio Central Railroad to W J Beitler’s facility, which will provide new freight rail service, $250,000. Western New York PA RR Co. LLC, rehabilitate approximately seven miles of track between Concord and Union City, including the replacement of ties and rail, track surfacing, and repairing an at-grade crossing, which will improve safety, $697,909.
  • Fayette County Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad Co., replace and surface three miles of track with continuous welded rail from Broadford to the Fayette County line to improve safety and operations, $1.8 million.
  • Lackawanna County Scranton Transload Inc., rehabilitate .25 mile of track from Delaware-Lackawanna’s line to Scranton Transload’s facility including the replacement of 2 turnouts and surfacing of track which will allow for materials to be transported to the facility by rail instead of truck, $700,000. The Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad Co., Inc., rehabilitate 19 miles of the Carbondale Line and construct a 1,000-foot yard track, including ties, track surfacing, and bridge repairs which will improve operations and yard capacity, $686,000.
  • Lehigh County RJ Corman RR Co- Allentown, rehabilitate about 1.2 miles of track leading into and within RJ Corman’s Allentown yard, including the replacement of ties and ballast and track surfacing to maintain track condition, $266,673.
  • Montour County United States Gypsum, construct approximately 2,000 feet of storage track at the United States Gypsum facility to accommodate longer unit trains and increase unloading efficiency, $250,000.
  • Northampton County Lehigh Valley Rail Management LLC, rehabilitate about four miles of track, including the replacement of ties, timbers, and turnouts in the River Interchange Yard to improve interchange operations, $350,000.
  • Philadelphia Phoenix Lithographing Corporation, construct approximately one mile of track, two turnouts, and an at-grade crossing in a Philadelphia industrial park to provide new rail service to Phoenix Lithographing Corp., $700,000.
  • Somerset County Corsa Coal, rehabilitate 10 miles of track from the CSX interchange to the Cambria Branch Plant in Berlin, to improve track condition and safe operations, $345,861. LCT Energy, construct about three miles of track from Norfolk Southern’s interchange to LCT Energy’s Laurel Plant, including an at-grade crossing, which will enable the plant to resume operation, $700,000.
  • Westmoreland County Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp., rehabilitate approximately three miles of track from Radebaugh to South Greensburg by replacing jointed rail with continuous welded rail, that will improve the replacement of existing rail and steel components on the Radebaugh subdivision, $1.7 million.
(State of PA. - posted 3/28)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN APPOINTS MCCLELLAN, ELKINS TO NEW POSITIONS: Norfolk Southern Corporation announced that its board of directors has elected Michael R. McClellan and Claude E. "Ed" Elkins to new positions of responsibility effective April 1. The board named McClellan vice president strategic planning and Elkins vice president industrial products. In his new position, McClellan will report to Norfolk Southern Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires. As vice president industrial products, Elkins will report to NS Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Alan H. Shaw. McClellan joined Conrail's general marketing and sales organization in 1985. In 1998, he was named assistant vice president performance planning for Norfolk Southern, became vice president intermodal and automotive marketing in 2000, and vice president industrial products in 2013. He holds an MBA from the University of Cincinnati and a degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. Of McClellan, Squires noted, "Mike combines a strong understanding of our markets and customers with a keen insight into how the transportation sector is evolving. Our customers and our shareholders will benefit from his experience and vision." Elkins joined Norfolk Southern as a road brakeman in 1988. After serving as a conductor and an engineer and receiving a degree in English from Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia (now the University of Virginia's College at Wise), Elkins joined NS' marketing department as pricing coordinator. He served in positions of increasing responsibility in the intermodal and automotive group and currently serves as group vice president industrial products. Additionally, Elkins received an MBA from Old Dominion University. "Ed brings a unique background of field operations and broad market experience," Squires said. "We look forward to his increased contributions to our leadership team." (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/28)

VIA RAIL'S FLEET TO BE REPLACED IN THE QUEBEC CITY-WINDSOR CORRIDOR: The Government of Canada is building on its successful long-term plan that focuses on people and on the things that matter most to Canadians, including a good transportation system. Canadians in all region benefit from travelling in a passenger rail fleet that is efficient, safe, accessible and affordable. To keep Canada’s travel system competitive and efficient, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport today announced that the Government of Canada will provide funding for VIA Rail to replace its fleet in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. As it is reaching the end of its useful life, the fleet in this corridor must be replaced to help maintain passenger safety for the next 30 years. The new fleet will also:
  • reduce environmental impacts as engines with the latest technology will be more fuel-efficient resulting in air quality improvements;
  • improve travellers’ experience and accessibility by including visual communication media for hearing-impaired passengers; purpose-built accessible washrooms; on-board wheelchair lift, and a minimum of three wheelchair tie-downs per train, with two in the same car, an increase from the current one tie-down per train; and
  • increase VIA Rail’s operational flexibility and reliability by reducing the mechanical breakdowns that effect on-time-performance.
VIA Rail will soon launch a request for qualifications followed by a request for proposals. Interested bidders are encouraged to visit VIA Rail’s website regularly for updates. Budget 2018 also proposes $8 million for Transport Canada to undertake foundational work to advance VIA Rail’s proposal for high frequency rail in the Quebec City-Toronto Corridor. This phase of the project would support further economic analysis of key issues associated with a project of this size, such as revenue and ridership projections, as well as estimates for capital and operating costs. This funding will also go towards: exploring opportunities to leverage private investment or a potential role for the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and open and transparent engagement with potentially affected communities, including Indigenous peoples. These activities would inform future decisions, allowing the Government of Canada to move forward with the path most likely to deliver good value for taxpayers and the best possible outcomes for travellers. VIA Rail Canada- posted 3/27)

PORT AUTHORITY BOARD APPROVES AGREEMENTS WITH JERSEY CITY THAT SETTLE PENDING LITIGATION, AND WILL LEAD TO CONSTRUCTION OF NEW POWER FACILITY FOR PATH RAIL SYSTEM: The Port Authority Board of Commissioners authorized a set of agreements with Jersey City that will mean resolution of a long-standing legal dispute with the city, and lead to construction of a new power station to generate better PATH service to local riders. With respect to the litigation settlement, the Port Authority and PATH own 53 parcels in Jersey City. The city had contended in a federal lawsuit that the Port Authority had not satisfied payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) agreements for all of the properties. The Port Authority had vigorously disputed the claims. Following today’s board vote, the case brought by the city will be dismissed and, for a period of 25 years, the city will not contest the tax-exempt status of any property owned by the Port Authority in Jersey City. The agency will enter into a PILOT agreement with the city covering certain other properties. In addition, the Port Authority is turning the Washington Street Powerhouse over to Jersey City for possible future redevelopment by the city. The Powerhouse – completed in 1908 -- and a sub-station build adjacent to it in 1929 has been the primary source of power for the PATH, but has outlived its usefulness. The agency will take title to a half-acre of property that is also located on Washington Street, where a more modern power station will be developed. The Port Authority has agreed to pay Jersey City nearly $17.8 million as part of the process of acquisition of the new sub-station site, and to conduct a study as to the feasibility of building a new PATH station in the Marion section of Jersey City. “This is an important step forward for our agency that will mean better service to PATH customers for generations to come,” Board Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “These agreements represent a new chapter in our relationship with Jersey City, bringing greater stability and certainty between the Port Authority and one its most valued local partners.” “We’re looking forward not only to upgrading our facilities in Jersey City for the benefit of our tens of thousands of PATH customers, but to help facilitate redevelopment of an important historical site,” said Board Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford. ( The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - posted 3/27)

NYC TRANSIT STARTING SUBWAY FLOOD PROTECTION PROJECT IN ROCKAWAYS NEXT MONTH: MTA New York City Transit today announced a flood protection project in the Rockaways that will make critical subway infrastructure more resilient in the face of future storms and improve the overall reliability of subway service on the peninsula. “As we have seen time and time again, our subway system is impacted by the forces of nature,” said New York City Transit President Andy Byford. “Just as our employees work around the clock to clean up after a storm, we must also proactively protect our infrastructure. We thank our customers for their patience while we perform this critical work to provide safe, resilient and reliable service not just today, but far into the future as well.” New York City Transit houses rail operations facilities on the Rockaway Peninsula that are critical to the A Subway line. The facilities include a power substation, a signal tower, signal compressor and hydraulic rooms, circuit breaker houses, and crew quarters. The Rockaway Peninsula is in a flood zone that is vulnerable to the surges generated by a major storm, evident in the destruction brought by Superstorm Sandy. While smart engineering efforts left the substation and equipment undamaged during Sandy, New York City Transit believes taking a proactive approach to its resiliency efforts will ensure the long-term safety of these facilities against the devastating impacts of future extreme storms. In turn, customers along the Rockaways can be assured that their ability to move in and out of their homes will not be disrupted for long periods of time during a natural disaster. During the project, crews will construct a perimeter flood wall and flood gates, as well as construct a new compressor building within the protected site. In order to minimize the impact on customers and the local community, and complete this necessary work in a timely fashion, the work will be conducted in two separate phases, impacting only one side of the Rockaways at a time. Special S Subway shuttle train service will be provided as an alternative while the post-Superstorm Sandy Fix&Fortify work is done on two separate parts of the A Subway line in two separate phases: Phase 1 from Apr. 9 to May 18 on the Rockaway Park branch, and Phase 2 from July 2 to Sept. 3 on the Far Rockaway Branch. Shuttle trains will be lengthened as needed for capacity during Phase 2. To further assist customers, extra personnel will be posted at key stations including major transfer points. As another, fully accessible alternative, customers may also use buses that run along the impacted routes: Q22, Q35, Q52-SBS, Q53-SBS, QM16 Express, and QM17 Express. (MTA - posted 3/26)

GE TRANSPORTATION'S MODERNIZATION PROGRAM HITS NEW MILESTONES: GE Transportation secures 225 orders in 2018 for locomotive modernizations, as well as completes the first of 100 modernizations for Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NS). With the increased demand, GE’s 1-million-square-foot facility in Fort Worth is now the world’s largest locomotive modernization facility. The modernization program updates aging locomotives — some more than 20-years-old — with customized solutions that range from simple changes, including control system upgrades, to complex restorations, such as the comprehensive transformation of an aged DC locomotive into an AC locomotive outfitted with state-of-the-art digital technology. “This rebuild program with GE aligns with Norfolk Southern’s strategic values for responsible stewardship of resources,” said Doug Corbin, assistant vice president -mechanical at Norfolk Southern. “The rebuild program will modernize and improve our locomotive fleet, adding service life, increasing freight hauling capacity and enabling us to reduce capital spending requirements for new locomotives by efficiently refreshing our existing assets. Modernizations will most likely be a strong portion of our locomotive capital spending for a number of years.” GE increases asset value of locomotives over their lifecycle and optimizes future growth opportunities for customers. Modernizations also extend the service life of locomotives by approximately 20 years. Already, GE Transportation customers have experienced substantial outcomes from the program, including up to 10 percent fuel efficiency gains, 40 percent increase in reliability and 50 percent increase in haulage ability. Canadian Pacific , looking to take advantage of such optimization, had 30 modernized locomotives delivered in 2017 and an additional 80 are on order to be delivered in 2018. “We’ve seen our modernization program grow 20 times since 2015,” said Pascal Schweitzer, vice president, services of GE Transportation. “Over the last decade, GE has transformed more than 2,000 locomotives for customers worldwide, including for the majority of the Class 1 Railroads in North America as well as international customers. The outcomes these modernizations offer to our customers creates the ability to realize significantly more value out of existing locomotive assets, which has been game-changing.” (GE Transportation - posted 3/23)

CN AND TCRC REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT ON NEW LABOR CONTRACT FOR LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS IN CANADA: CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference announced that the parties have reached a tentative agreement to renew the labour contract for approximately 1,700 CN locomotive engineers in Canada. Details of the agreement are being withheld pending ratification by TCRC members, a process expected to take approximately 60 days. Mike Cory, executive vice-president and chief operating officer at CN, said: “This new contract reinforces CN’s commitment to working together with our employees and their representatives to address workplace issues in a mutually beneficial manner. CN is very pleased to have reached this tentative agreement with TCRC without a work disruption and we look forward to working together as we continue to serve our customers and the Canadian economy.” Roland Hackl, vice president of the TCRC, said: “This deal represents the collective efforts of the general chairmen and our entire committee on behalf of our members. Our members at CN recognize the importance of CN’s contribution to the Canadian economy and the customers we serve. We are confident that this agreement will benefit our members, CN, and all the people relying on the railway.” (CN - posted 3/23)

PRESIDENT & CEO RICHARD ANDERSON ON FY2018 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS BILL: “Amtrak applauds Congress for providing increased funding for intercity passenger rail, including grants to Amtrak, in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Amtrak thanks Congress for recognizing the importance of intercity passenger rail and the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The increased NEC capital funding will allow us to address many important needs along the Corridor and we look forward to working closely with the Department of Transportation on investing these funds to advance the most critical projects.”(Amtrak - posted 3/22)

SEPTA TO END TOKEN SALES APRIL 30: SEPTA will end token sales on April 30 at all Authority-operated locations, as more customers transition from legacy fare products to the SEPTA Key. SEPTA Key cards will continue to be free with the purchase of a transit pass or when loading Travel Wallet funds through April 30, with the planned $4.95 new card fee going into effect in May. SEPTA will continue to accept purchased tokens for the foreseeable future, so customers will not lose money they have already spent on tokens. Customers are reminded that tokens can be loaded onto Key cards, with the value added to the Travel Wallet that allows for convenient tap-and-go travel. Tokens will continue to be sold in bulk to social service agencies beyond April 30, as work continues to implement a new method for these organizations to provide SEPTA fares to their clients. Third-party retailers will also continue to sell tokens to the general public beyond April 30. SEPTA has been gradually phasing-out sales of tokens at Authority-operated locations since January, first at cashiers' booths and then with the removal of vending machines at Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line stations. In March and April, sales will end at Regional Rail stations, bus districts and SEPTA sales offices. "The end of token sales represents a major step forward in the implementation of the SEPTA Key," said General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "For customers who are still using tokens or other legacy fare products, now is a great time to move to the future of fare payment with the SEPTA Key." (SEPTA - posted 3/22)

AMTRAK TO NAME ROCHESTER STATION IN HONOR OF CONGRESSWOMAN LOUISE M. SLAUGHER: In honor of the late Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, Amtrak will be naming the Rochester Station as a dedication to her career in public service and commitment to leading several projects in the Northern New York area, including the station’s development. “Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter was an incredible public servant, and Amtrak and rail supporter, who was instrumental in leading numerous rail improvement projects across New York, including the development and funding of our new Rochester Station. To celebrate her legacy and impact on the station, City of Rochester, and State of New York, we are pleased to announce that we will be naming Rochester Station in her honor through a commemorative plaque at the station or other appropriate means,” said Amtrak Board Chair Anthony R. Coscia. “I applaud Amtrak for listening to our call to rename the new Rochester train station in honor of Congresswoman Slaughter. Congresswoman Slaughter was a larger than life figure who worked tirelessly to secure federal funding and make this project a reality. I am proud that this shining beacon of Rochester’s revitalization will bear the name of a leader who was integral to making it happen – Congresswoman Louise Slaughter,” said New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The intermodal Rochester Station opened in October 2017, the result of nearly 15 years of visioning and planning by several stakeholders, including Congresswoman Slaughter, who secured a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the work. As requested by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo, and former Mayor and Lieutenant Governor Duffy, Amtrak will work to name the station in the coming months. Amtrak will work with the City of Rochester and State of New York on the details of the naming, commemorative plaque and necessary funding for these efforts. The Rochester Station is one of the busiest Amtrak stops in the state, serving more than 127,000 passenger trips last year. The Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited and Maple Leaf trains all make stops at the station. The Rochester Station will be the second Amtrak Station named for a member of Congress. In 2014, legislation was passed to rename Philadelphia 30th Street Station after the late Congressman William H. Gray III, and Amtrak is actively working with Representative Gray’s family and others on plans to implement this change in the coming months. (Amtrak - posted 3/21)

PRESIDENT TRUMP DESIGNATES ANN BEGEMAN CHAIRMAN OF SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD: President Donald J. Trump has designated Ann Begeman as Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board. Ms. Begeman had been Acting Chairman since January 23, 2017. Ann is serving in her second, five-year term following her nomination by President Barack Obama on December 7, 2016, and her unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate on December 9, 2016. Her current term expires December 31, 2020.(STB - posted 3/21)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 17, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 17, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 537,338 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending March 17 were 263,352 carloads, up 7.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 273,986 containers and trailers, up 12.7 percent compared to 2017. All of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 8,750 carloads, to 85,939; nonmetallic minerals, up 3,445 carloads, to 35,240; and metallic ores and metals, up 2,310 carloads, to 22,421. For the first 11 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,764,973 carloads, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year; and 2,966,335 intermodal units, up 6.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 11 weeks of 2018 was 5,731,308 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.7 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending March 17, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 364,314 carloads, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,590 intermodal units, up 12.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 724,904 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 11 weeks of 2018 was 7,712,133 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 79,314 carloads for the week, down 2.6 percent, and 68,715 intermodal units, up 14.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 11 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,559,089 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 21,648 carloads for the week, down 3.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,889 intermodal units, down 0.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 11 weeks of 2018 was 421,736 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/21)

FRA TAKES PROACTIVE APPROACH TO HELP RAILROADS MEET CONGRESSIONAL PTC REQUIREMENT: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (US DOT’s) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today released a status update on its efforts to assist railroads in implementing positive train control systems (PTC), along with the railroads’ self-reported progress for the fourth quarter of 2017. At the direction of Secretary Elaine L. Chao, the FRA is taking a proactive approach to ensure railroads acquire, install, test and fully implement certified PTC systems in time to meet the congressional interim deadline of December 31, 2018. “It is the railroads’ responsibility to meet the congressionally mandated PTC requirements,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “The FRA is committed to doing its part to ensure railroads and suppliers are working together to implement PTC systems.” Between January 2 and February 14, 2018, FRA’s leadership hosted face-to-face meetings with executives from each of the 41 railroads subject to the statutory mandate. The purpose of the meetings was to evaluate each railroad’s PTC status and learn what remaining steps each needs to take to have a PTC system fully implemented by the December deadline or, at a minimum, to meet the statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule. As a result of the meetings with railroads, FRA is now meeting with PTC suppliers to learn more about their capacity to meet the high demands for railroads’ implementation of PTC systems in a timely manner. PTC systems are designed to prevent certain train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and trains going to the wrong tracks because a switch was left in the wrong position. All railroads subject to the statutory PTC implementation mandate must implement FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems by the end of the year. Under the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015, however, Congress permits a railroad to request FRA’s approval of an “alternate schedule” with a deadline beyond December 31, 2018, but no later than December 31, 2020, for certain non-hardware, operational aspects of PTC system implementation. The congressional mandate requires FRA to approve a railroad’s alternative schedule with a deadline no later than December 31, 2020, if a railroad submits a written request to FRA that demonstrates the railroad has met the statutory criteria set forth under 49 U.S.C. § 20157(a)(3)(B). The fourth quarter data, current as of December 31, 2017, shows PTC systems are in operation on approximately 56 percent of freight railroads’ route miles that are required to be governed by PTC systems—up from 45 percent last quarter and 16 percent on December 31, 2016. Passenger railroads have made less progress—with PTC systems in operation on only 24% of required route miles, unchanged from the previous quarter. The latest data confirms that railroads continue to make progress in installing PTC system hardware, with 15 railroads reporting they have completed installation of all hardware necessary for PTC system implementation and another 11 railroads reporting they have installed over 80% of PTC system hardware. In addition, all but three railroads report having acquired sufficient spectrum for their PTC system needs. For more key implementation data for the fourth quarter, see the infographics here: https://www.fra.dot.gov/ptc. (FRA - posted 3/20)

POTOMAC SHORE TRAIN STATION: The final design of a new Virginia Railway Express (VRE) train station at the Potomac Shores master-planned community in Prince William County, Va., will soon be moving forward. The recently executed, final contract amendment between the Virginia Department of Rail Public Transportation (DRPT) and CSX Transportation (CSX) defined what portion of the third-track corridor improvements will be completed in the immediate future. This new VRE station will be a key component of Potomac Shores' emerging town center. Situated on the banks of the Potomac River 30 miles south of Washington, D.C., the 1,920-acre community is being developed by SunCal, one of the largest real estate development companies in the U.S. that specializes in large-scale, mixed-use master-planned communities. The construction for the Potomac Shores station is being sponsored by SunCal. Potomac Shores is a waterfront destination being designed as a transit-oriented development due to its convenient access to the on-site VRE station. Located in the community's town center, the station will sit along a bluff-top promenade overlooking the Potomac River. As part of the Arkendale to Powells Creek Third Track project, funded by grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Virginia DRPT, CSX has been constructing a third set of tracks from the Arkendale station northward to Powells Creek, just north of Potomac Shores, to serve alongside the existing CSX tracks. The design and timing of the construction of the Potomac Shores station has been in coordination with this rail improvement project, itself a significant component of the Commonwealth of Virginia's long-term investment strategy to increase rail capacity, including DC2RVA, Atlantic Gateway and Long Bridge. "The signing of the agreement to identify improvements to be completed in the near future, and the interim condition for the corridor until additional funding becomes available, will allow the Potomac Shores station to move forward; we're very elated," said Andrew Wagner, Project Manager, Potomac Shores. "This new station will be a huge convenience for residents, allowing them to commute to jobs in Washington and elsewhere, and the station will be easily accessed from our future town center." The train station's planning, engineering and construction is a public-private project requiring the involvement, review and approval of state and federal agencies, and other entities. Potomac Shores has been working with VRE, CSX, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Prince William County and the U.S. Department of Transportation to coordinate the design and construction of the station. Potomac Shores is contributing nearly $20 million toward the train station in partnership with the various agencies, and it anticipates construction of the station's head house will move forward later this year. The 16,000 square-foot head house will offer scenic views of the Potomac River, and will serve as the entrance to the boarding platforms at the track level below. A two-story design, the head house is planned to offer restaurants, a coffee shop, office space, dry cleaners, outdoor patios and other uses. Current estimates are that the station would be ready for passengers sometime in 2020. It is being designed by CORE architecture + design of Washington, D.C. In the Potomac Shores town center, much of the site has been cleared and graded in preparation for development. The first commercial pads are complete and accessible from Dunnington Place, and a large portion of the main parkway into the town center will be complete later this year. Final site plans for each development phase will be custom designed for the ultimate end-users. (VRE, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/19)

LIRR OUTINES PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PLAN: The Long Island Rail Road today offered the MTA Board details on a comprehensive, multi-faceted slate of nearly 60 actions the railroad will take to improve the railroad’s performance. Officially known as the LIRR Performance Improvement Plan, or PIP, the actions in the plan touch on virtually every department of the railroad and concentrate on improving three aspects of railroad operations: service reliability, seasonal preparedness and customer communications. The railroad will provide details every month to the MTA Board and the public on the nature of the activities and progress the railroad is making toward each using clearly defined metrics compared against pre-determined timelines. “This plan lays out the steps toward doing everything we can to prevent incidents that can impact service and when incidents do occur, to recover service faster by improving our response times to the issues impacting us and our customers,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “Just as important, whether we have a disruption or are providing normal service, we know that improved communication with customers is vital. That extends to this plan itself. We are developing a host of methods to gauge customer feedback on our performance, from upcoming public engagement sessions and focus groups, to working with the LIRR Commuter Council and soliciting customer comments.” Service Reliability The plan includes efforts to improve fleet reliability, maintain and upgrade critical infrastructure such as signals, switches, and track, as well as approaches to better respond to fleet and infrastructure issues that do happen, with the overall goal of targeting investments that deliver the most improvements for the most customers. Examples of actions in this category include:
  • Infrastructure Upgrades: Harden or upgrade assets such as PSEG poles alongside the tracks systemwide, the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel in Brooklyn and ties at Queens high-speed crossovers; accelerate M7 heated threshold replacements; install flexible delineators at high priority railroad crossings to deter vehicles from turning onto the tracks
  • Inspections: increase frequency of rail flaw detections; implement special inspections at railroad crossings; improve quality of track inspections by reducing the length of track inspected per tour
  • Better Monitoring of Conditions: Implement enhanced monitoring of railroad conditions, by installing bridge strike monitoring systems at five priority locations, as well as a wheel impact load detection system to automatically detect flat spots, and reviewing the top 20 late trains system wide to identify opportunities for schedule adjustments
  • Better Administration: Realign track maintenance subdivisions to conform with signal subdivisions to better coordinate maintenance activities; add mobile response crews to address equipment issues; implement an engineering crew office with five new staff members to allow more effective planning and execution of proactive infrastructure maintenance and repair
  • Better Maintenance: Increased rail joint welding; increase frequency of surfacing at switches; increase rail grinding
Seasonal Preparedness The LIRR faces known seasonal challenges that are all too familiar to its customers. These include snow and ice in winter and falling leaves in autumn that result in slippery rail conditions, repair of wheel flat spots and resulting short trains. The plan overhauls the railroad’s efforts to ensure resilience against weather events and improve recoverability from weather-related service disruptions. Examples of actions include:
  • Spring-Summer: Increase vegetation management
  • Winter: Acquire switch snow covers, additional snow fighters and additional third rail heaters
  • Winter: Improve efficiency of Glycol-dispensing trains that combat ice and snow buildup on the third rail by upgrading controls
  • Autumn: Ensure the Arch Street wheel truer is online throughout the autumn leaf season and work with developers to ensure the high-capacity West Side Yard wheel truer is installed and commissioned as quickly as possible.
  • Autumn: Improve train handling training for the fall season to reduce slip-slide incidents and wheel flat spots
  • Year-round: Add signal system grounding to create lightning protection at 30 locations, reducing instances of signal system problems.
  • Year-round: Add additional signal personnel and overnight track emergency crews
  • Year-round: Add new drainage systems and enhance inspection and maintenance practices in key areas
Customer Communications The LIRR’s customers depend on the railroad to provide them with timely, accurate information during planned and unplanned service disruptions to assist them in making quick decisions about their commutes or to plan ahead. The LIRR must improve in this area to make information more timely, more accurate and easier to access. Examples of activities in this category include:
  • Create a Chief Customer Advocate, reporting directly to the LIRR President
  • Enhance communications on board trains by being more proactive in our communications with train crews, encouraging trains crews to be more proactive, and utilizing crew expertise in making announcements; amend employee training procedures including procurement of professional announcer training
  • Conduct market research and focus groups to allow staff to better understand customer expectations and perceptions about LIRR communications, and to determine how to improve the way LIRR customers receive information
  • Hold “LIRR Listens” public engagement sessions with LIRR senior leadership
  • Increase coverage, visibility, branding, and tools for customer ambassadors and ushers at Penn Station, Jamaica, and Atlantic Terminal
  • Display countdown to train arrivals on digital screens at suburban stations
  • Establish wireless connectivity at Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal to allow customers to remain connected and receive real-time alerts while on the railroad.
  • Improve customer awareness of MyMTAAlerts.com and the LIRR TrainTime app as tools for real-time train updates.
(MTA - posted 3/19)

NS TO RESTORE SERVICE TUESDAY AT KENTUCKY DERAILMENT SITE: Norfolk Southern is experiencing service interruptions due to a mainline derailment that occurred on Sunday, March 18th, 2018 approximately 10 miles north of Lexington, KY. NS is working to clear and repair the track and the track is estimated to be back in service on Tuesday, March 20th, 2018. Traffic is being rerouted in order to minimize the impact where possible. (NS - posted 3/19)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RESPONSE TO TRC CAPITAL'S MINI-TENDER OFFER: Norfolk Southern has been notified that TRC Capital Corporation (TRC) made an unsolicited “mini-tender” offer, dated Feb. 23, 2018, to purchase up to 1 million shares of Norfolk Southern stock at $136 per share, or 4.65 percent below the closing share price on the day of the offer. TRC also has reserved the right to terminate the offer. Norfolk Southern is in no way associated with TRC, and expresses no opinion and is remaining neutral toward TRC’s offer. Mini-tender offers seek less than 5 percent of a company’s outstanding shares. This lets the offering company avoid many disclosure and procedural requirements the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires for tender offers. On its website, the SEC advises that the people behind these offers “frequently use mini-tender offers to catch shareholders off guard” and that investors “may end up selling at below-market prices.” Norfolk Southern encourages brokers, dealers, and other investors to review the SEC’s letter regarding broker-dealer mini-tender offer dissemination and disclosure. (NS - posted 3/16)

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

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

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

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