` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
October 6, 2015:

AMTRAK AUTUMN EXPRESS 2015: Due to popular demand, the Autumn Express excursion is back. Come along for a historic train ride, departing from and returning to the Albany/Rensselaer and Schenectady stations on Saturday and Sunday, October 24 and 25. Travel through small towns, historic tunnels, see key landmarks and experience rare mileage along a route that hasn’t seen regular passenger service in decades. $129 per Adult. Many Benefits. Ride the Autumn Express excursion train and see a part of New England you can't see by car. This year's Autumn Express will take you through the scenic valleys of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the beautiful Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. In addition to the colors of fall, the highlight of this season's excursion will be traveling through the historic, five-mile- long Hoosac Tunnel, completed in 1877, considered one of the nation's civil engineering landmarks. The Autumn Express will be the first publicly-offered passenger train through the Hoosac Tunnel in 30 years. The train will depart from the convenient Albany-Rensselaer Station and Schenectady Station to East Deerfield, MA returning via the same route. Don't miss out on this rare, exciting opportunity.
  • The train departs Albany/Rensselaer at 8:00 am and Schenectady at 8:25 am, returning to Schenectady at 5:22 pm and Albany/Rensselaer at 5:50 pm.
  • Tickets are $129 for adults and include a boxed lunch and a souvenir tote bag
  • . Children 2 - 12 ride for half price and receive a boxed lunch and a souvenir tote bag.
  • Seating is limited for this unique opportunity.
How to Book this Trip From the 'Buy Tickets' tab:
  • 1. Select One-Way.
  • 2. Enter Albany/Rensselaer, NY (ALB) or Schenectady, NY (SDY) in the From box.
  • 3. Enter Autumn Express Train, MA (AXP) in the To box.
  • 4. Select October 24 or 25, 2015 as the Depart date.
  • 5. Select the number of Adult or Child passengers. Maximum of 8. Passengers with disabilities should call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) to book this trip.
Terms & Conditions
  • Tickets are non-refundable.
  • Valid for sale October 5 - October 23, 2015.
  • Valid for travel on October 24 and 25, 2015 only.
  • Valid between Albany/Rensselaer (ALB) or Schenectady, NY (SDY) and Amtrak Autumn Express, MA (AXP).
  • Flat price of $129 for adults and includes a boxed lunch and a souvenir tote bag.
  • Up to two (2) children ages 2 - 12 may accompany each adult at half the adult fare.
  • Children and infants must travel with an adult who is at least 18 years or older.
  • Special excursion trains are eligible to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points, but not available for redemption travel.
  • Not combinable with any other discount offer or passenger type.
(Amtrak - posted 10/06)

AMTRAK IMPROVES ACCESSIBILITY AT AUTO TRAIN STATIONS: Amtrak continues to enhance the Auto Train stations in Lorton, Va., and Sanford, Fla., as part of its ongoing efforts to bring greater accessibility to its nationwide system. Work on the level-boarding platform at the Lorton station was completed this year and provides safer and faster boarding and detraining for all customers including passengers with disabilities, or who use a wheeled mobility device, seniors and passengers with luggage and strollers. Work on the level-boarding platform at the Sanford, Fla., station is under way and is expected to be completed in early 2016. At both stations, Amtrak has enhanced mobility by installing or rebuilding entrances, restrooms and ticket counters, as well as ensuring accessibility pathways between the parking lot, station building and platform. “Amtrak is proud to serve as an important mode of travel for people with disabilities and recognizes that accessibility improvements benefit all passengers by eliminating barriers to travel,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak Senior Vice President/Chief Government Affairs & Corporate Communications. “We are confident we will continue to build on the progress made to date and advance a robust program of station accessibility improvements in the years to come.” The work to improve accessibility comes during the 25th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With input from station owners and stakeholders from the disability community, and state and federal officials, America’s Railroad® has taken significant steps to improve the travel experience for passengers with disabilities – from trip planning, to purchasing tickets, to stations, to equipment and on-board services. The Auto Train departs daily from both Lorton, Va. (near Washington, D.C.), and Sanford, Fla. (near Orlando). This unique service allows passengers to travel with their personal vehicles including cars, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, and even small boats or jet-skis. It is the only such service in the U.S. and eliminates nearly 900 miles of driving for travelers between the Northeast and all points in Florida. Auto Train is the longest passenger train in the world with two locomotives and 40-plus passenger rail cars and vehicle carriers. Now, both of its facilities are fully accessible and ready for the nearly quarter of a million passengers who use it. (Amtrak - posted 10/06)

AMTRAK'S VERMONTER HITS A ROCK SLIDE AND DERAILS" Amtrak Train 55, the Vermonter, derailed today near Northfield, Vermont. The train was traveling from St. Albans, Vt., to Washington, D.C. when it partially derailed due to a rock slide. The track is owned and maintained by the New England Central Railroad. Preliminary reports indicate some passengers have sustained injuries and have been transported to local medical facilities. There are no immediate reports of any life-threatening injuries to the 98 passengers and four crew members (Amtrak - posted 10/05)

CSX, DELDOT PROMOTE RAILROAD CROSSING SAFETY IN DELAWARE: CSX, the Delaware Department of Transportation and Operation Lifesaver, a national non-profit educational organization, are working together this weekend to improve public safety at railroad crossings and around railroad tracks in Delaware through education and awareness. Every day trains travel through more than 212,000 highway-rail grade crossings in the U.S., including 405 crossings in Delaware, and there are about 270 deaths per year at public and private grade crossings. CSX, the Federal Railroad Administration, Operation Lifesaver and state-level authorities such as DelDOT are committed to reducing that number through outreach efforts like those occurring in Newark. Activities include visits by the CSX "Play It Safe" NASCAR driving simulator vehicle to the Cabela's store at the Christiana Mall today, October 2, and outreach efforts to patrons at the Deer Park Tavern in Newark with safety outreach partner, Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE), on Friday evening. On Saturday, CSX is a sponsor of the 9th Annual Main Street Mile Race to benefit the Newark Police Dept.'s K-9 unit. Later that day, the "Play It Safe" NASCAR simulator car will be in the University of Delaware stadium's Fan Zone during Saturday's UDel vs. William & Mary football game, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan said, "Railway incidents are easily preventable, and our department is proud to partner with CSX and Delaware Operation Lifesaver's efforts to educate and inform drivers and pedestrians about rail crossing safety in Newark this weekend. Even one injury is one too many! DelDOT supports Operation Lifesaver's efforts through trained personnel who help disseminate the important message on rail safety, particularly at railroad crossings." "We are firmly committed to continue building strong partnerships with all railroad companies within Delaware to improve railroad crossing safety for all users of the roadway system," Cohan said. "Safety is CSX's highest priority, and we are pleased to work with DelDOT and Operation Lifesaver to increase awareness about this important issue in Delaware," said Quintin Kendall, vice president of state government and community affairs for CSX. "Through programs like these, the number of fatalities at crossings has gone down by 54 percent over the last two decades, and CSX is committed to doing our part to continue reducing that tragic toll." Schedule of Events: Friday, October 2
  • 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Public outreach with "Play It Safe" NASCAR simulator car by CSX, DelDOT and Operation Lifesaver at Cabela's, 1100 Christiana Mall, Newark, DE
  • 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.: Public outreach by CSX, DelDOT, DATE and Operation Lifesaver at Deer Park Tavern, 108 West Main Street, Newark, DE
Saturday, October 3
  • 9 a.m. – 12 noon -- Public outreach with "Play It Safe" NASCAR simulator car by CSX at 9th Annual Main Street Mile running race, Deer Park Tavern, 108 West Main Street, Newark, DE
  • 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. -- Public outreach with "Play It Safe" NASCAR simulator car by CSX at Delaware Stadium Fan Zone, 625 Marvin Drive, Newark, DE
(CSX, Randy Kotuby - posted 10/02)

SOLUTIONS SUGGESTED TO SOLVE CHICAGO RAIL BACK-UPS: Bringing together rail traffic control dispatchers now separated by thousands of miles, improved operating practices by Amtrak and other railroads and funding for priority projects already identified in Northern Illinois and Indiana are top recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel appointed by Amtrak in response to massive “Chicago Gateway” delays to passenger and freight traffic. The panel, chosen last year by Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman, reported its findings with two university and policy groups today in Chicago. The panel released a study it commissioned that shows the Chicago congestion problem creates an economic vulnerability of up to $799 billion every year, impacting six key industries constituting 85 percent of U.S domestic product. The named industries are agriculture and natural resources, automotive, manufacturing, retail and services. The congestion challenge in Chicago poses the largest potential economic vulnerability to the U.S. economy of all the major rail hubs in the United States and industry observers have referred to Chicago as America’s “rail traffic speed bump.” “The panel interviewed experts with the freight rail industry, Metra commuter rail, the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and others and the verdict was unanimous: the implications of failing to act are dire for the economy of the nation in general and the Chicago area in particular,” Boardman said. The panel’s report, the study it commissioned from Frost & Sullivan and MSY Analytics, animations showing the benefits of various projects and a video overview are now posted at Erie Lackawanna livery
  • . National Magnitude: “It's the busiest rail hub because all the major railroads run through that hub and all the commodities that we think of: grain, crude oil, coal, manufacturing goods, intermodal (that's product that's on rail and at some point on truck for a period of time), all of that's moving through Chicago,” said Linda Morgan of Washington, D.C., a Panelist who was the first chair U.S. Surface Transportation Board, the railroad financial regulatory agency.
  • Local economic impact: “If something doesn't happen, transportation experts are going to figure this out. Now it may be leaving the Midwest, it may be opening ports on the east coast and transferring it other ways. It's a huge risk to the Midwest, but it's affecting the country,” said Tom Carper of Macomb, Ill., a Panel Member and an Amtrak Board Member. “Our customers deserve to have on time performance on their trains, so that's number one,” Boardman continued. “We're also looking for a consistent solution; we don't want to run into this every year, two years or five years.” Boardman accepted the panel’s recommendations and said Amtrak will continue to make certain it operates effectively in hopes other carriers will take similar steps. He offered space in Chicago Union Station for a dispatching facility to bring together the rail dispatchers now scattered from Chicago and the suburbs to Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota.
  • Co-located dispatching: “Get Amtrak, Metra and the freight rail operators together in one room so that they’re operating and coordinating and making all those trains run on time,” said Howard Learner of Chicago, a Panel Member who is President and Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “If you had every airline at O'Hare Airport with their own air traffic controller doing everything on their own it'd be a mess.” The panel endorsed prioritization of projects designed to improve the flow of passenger and freight trains – but unfunded – in Illinois and Indiana. These include the locations identified as P2 and P3 (75th Street Corridor Improvement Program) and P4 by the CREATE Program, a concerted effort by freight railroads, Amtrak and other stakeholders to address rail congestion issues in Chicago. The panel cited the completion of CREATE’s P1 project at Englewood as an example and made recommendations for next-steps in the Indiana Gateway Project across the northwest corner of the state and a future dedicated passenger rail route connecting to Michigan and the East.
  • Funding: “We have a really good news story to tell about the railroad industry in this country,” said Jack Quinn of Buffalo, N.Y., a Panel Member who is a college president since his retirement from the U.S. House after serving as chairman of Railroads Subcommittee. “We have to make sure that everybody gets the message so that they can walk hand in hand when it comes time to try to get that money, which is really tough.”.
“Certainly for Amtrak and some of the freight railroads there are real opportunities there and I think we always have to be looking for creative options moving forward,” added Morgan. Boardman agreed the cases need to be made in Congress, Statehouses and elsewhere for a Chicago Gateway Initiative to address passenger and freight railroad issues rooted in the Midwest. This is similar to the New York Gateway Initiative to address similar issues in the Northeast, where Amtrak has been participating in detailed talks regarding funding and has made investments. (Amtrak - posted 10/01)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 26, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 26, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 566,700 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Sept. 26 were 285,856 carloads, down 5.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 280,844 containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent compared to 2014. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They include: grain, up 30.1 percent to 22,232 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 14 percent to 10,100; and motor vehicles and parts, up 8.7 percent to 18,727. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 22.3 percent to 13,014 carloads; coal, down 14.2 percent to 101,561 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 10.4 percent to 24,128 carloads. For the first 38 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,590,411 carloads, down 4.4 percent from the same point last year; and 10,135,249 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 38 weeks of 2015 was 20,725,660 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Sept. 26, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 378,328 carloads, down 6.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 358,121 intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 736,449 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 38 weeks of 2015 was 26,999,035 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.8 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 74,779 carloads for the week, down 13.8 percent, and 63,492 intermodal units, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 38 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,237,021 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.1 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,693 carloads for the week, up 25.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,785 intermodal units, up 13.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 38 weeks of 2015 was 1,036,354 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.6 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 10/01)

ERIE LACKAWANNA SD45-2 IS THE LATEST NS HERITAGE LOCOMOTIVE: Norfolk Southern SD45-2 number 1700 is the latest heritage locomotive, now wearing its former Erie Lackawanna livery . It was repainted by the railroad's DeButts Locomotive Shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 1700 was one of a thirteen unit order, originally built as Erie Lackawanna number 3669, completed in October 1972, and has since worked as Conrail 6654 and NS 1700. Cab upgrades were recently completed at the NS East End Shop in Roanoke, Virginia, followed by paint in Chattanooga, returning it to its original colors. It will return to revenue service, joining the fleet of five additional 1700-series locomotives presently assigned to the Conrail Shared Assets region, based out of Oak Island, New Jersey. ( Norfolk Southern, - posted 9/30)

RED BARN LOCOMOTIVES DESTINED FOR THE CM&Q: Central Maine & Quebec has acquired a batch of former Canadian Pacific SD40-2F cowl locomotives, otherwise known has Red Barn units. These locomotives include former CP 9004, 9010, 9011, 9014, 9017, 9020, 9021, 9022, 9023, and 9024. (Bryce Lee - posted 9/30)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RENAMES ITS MEMPHIS YARD IN HONOR OF DEB BUTLER: Norfolk Southern Corporation’s yard in Memphis has a new name, and it is “Harris Yard,” in honor of Deborah Harris Butler, the railroad’s executive vice president planning and chief information officer, who is retiring Oct. 1, 2015. In making the announcement, NS President and CEO Jim Squires said, “Consistently over her 37-year career, Deb envisioned and championed systems and technology that keep the freight moving. Her name on a key yard that handles important segments of our business – in her own hometown -- is apt and well-deserved recognition.” Harris Yard is situated on NS’ mainline from Birmingham and Chattanooga and is located in the midtown area of Memphis, near the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and not far from Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home. Harris Yard is a focal point for traffic moving east and west, as NS interchanges in Memphis with the UP, BNSF, and CN railroads. The yard also is home to NS’ 38-acre truck-to-rail transfer facility that connects Memphis’ intermodal shippers to global markets via six days per week rail service to and from the major container port facilities on the U.S. Southeastern coast. Joining Norfolk Southern in 1978 as a customer account auditor, Butler was named to positions of increasing responsibility in operations, including assistant vice president transportation customer services in 2000 and vice president customer service in 2002, before being named EVP planning and chief information officer in 2007. Butler is recognized for her expertise in car management and distribution. Early in her career, she oversaw modernization of many of NS’ core transportation systems, such as ITMS for transportation information sharing, TYES for yard management and inventory, RIT for remote work orders, and the Pacesetter customer portal.  More recently her tenure saw implementation of the optimized dispatching system to improve network velocity, significant progress toward installation of Positive Train Control systems, successful negotiation to purchase 282 miles of Delaware and Hudson Railway Co. lines to support rail service in the Northeast, and a growing commitment to sustainable business practices. Butler also is known for her work in mentoring new railroaders -- she helped start WiNS (Women in Norfolk Southern), the railroad’s first official employee resource group. “Deb’s contributions in technology, the environment, and employee development have made a lasting difference,” Squires said. “Our board, officers, and employees are grateful for her vision and leadership.” ( Norfolk Southern, Randy Kotuby - posted 9/29)

CANADIAN PACIFIC ACQUIRES STEELCARE INC: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) has acquired Steelcare Inc., Canada's largest steel transload facility. "CP is committed to exceptional customer service and with direct ownership of Steelcare, we are better equipped to manage our own supply chain and utilize our in-house expertise," said James Clements , CP Vice President of Strategic Planning and Transportation Services. Steelcare is a transload and distribution hub providing superior transloading, warehousing and distribution services of steel products. Steelcare's Plant Six facility in CP's Aberdeen yard in Hamilton, Ontario , is a 168,000-square-foot facility featuring two drive-through rail and truck loading and unloading areas. Steelcare is able to handle up to 1.5 million tons of rail transload product in a given year. The transaction includes TransCare Logistics Corporation, Prometheus Six Inc. and East Port Warehousing & Distribution. Projected yearly revenue as a result of the transaction is approximately $10 million . The intent is to keep the current management structure and employees in place. Clements will also serve as Steelcare's Executive Vice President. (CP - posted 9/29)

CSX, MECHANICAL UNIONS ANNOUNCE PROGRESSIVE LABOR PARTNERSHIP: CSX Corporation and two leading mechanical unions, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), today announced a landmark partnership that will enhance benefits for CSX employees and further improve productivity. "This agreement is part of CSX's focus on promoting a flexible workforce to meet changing business demands, and developing opportunities to retain and support our highly skilled workforce," said Cressie Brown, vice president-labor relations, CSX. Under the tentative agreement, which is being submitted for ratification, members of the IAM and SMART unions will be able to perform a variety of assigned work beyond the traditional boundaries of craft or union affiliation. Covered employees will see increased pay through an hourly skill differential, enhanced ability to retain employment, benefits and connection to railroad retirement and an ability to perform additional locomotive rebuild work in-house with CSX employees. This new agreement builds on the success of a similar work-sharing structure implemented at the company's Huntington Locomotive Shop in 2013. "This new agreement is the result of tireless work between representatives from IAM, SMART and CSX, and demonstrates our collective commitment to finding innovative ways to support our employees while driving long-term efficiency," said Lisa Mancini, senior vice president and chief administrative officer. "I applaud our union partners for working so closely with us through the lengthy discussions that began in 2013 at our Huntington Locomotive Shop." SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. added, "This agreement enhances job opportunities, job security and our members' ability to transfer across the system, while also improving training and supporting skill development. Across the board, we are taking an innovative look at building relationships that support our common interests now and into the future." "This tentative agreement provides new options for CSX employees, giving them more control of their careers, by expanding on the efficiencies gained from our previous partnership at Huntington, West Virginia while providing CSX with the tools they need to have the most efficient locomotive maintenance team in the industry," said Jeff Doerr, IAM President and Directing General Chairman. (CSX - posted 9/28)

2015 APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF POPE FRANCIS TO NEW YORK METRO AND PHILADELPHIA AREAS MAY EFFECT FREIGHT OPERATIONS: Due to the upcoming visit of Pope Francis, September 22nd - September 28th in the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City area Norfolk Southern is anticipating some service interruptions. There will be train movement restrictions placed on CSX, NS, and Conrail, in addition to various road and bridge closures which may impact the ability to move trains or position crews and employees. The Conrail Movement Office will be manned 24 hours per day. Conrail and Norfolk Southern will maintain scheduled service where possible and prioritize traffic accordingly. We ask that all customers in these areas prepare for the possibility of service interruptions during this time. (Norfolk Southern - posted 9/24)

MORE EXECUTIVE CHANGES AT NS: The board of directors of Norfolk Southern Corp. has named Michael J. Wheeler executive vice president and chief operating officer, effective Feb. 1, 2016, following the retirement of Mark D. Manion on that date. Additionally, effective Oct. 1, 2015, Cindy C. Earhart’s title is executive vice president administration and chief information officer, reflecting her new responsibility for the corporation’s Information Technology department. Earhart assumes the IT responsibility following the Oct. 1, 2015, retirement of Deborah H. Butler. In making the announcements, President and CEO James A. Squires said, “Mike and Cindy have the experience and expertise to build on Norfolk Southern’s culture of excellence. As part of our senior leadership team, they have earned the highest levels of trust and respect from those who depend on us for the reliable, efficient, and safe delivery of the freight that makes the economy move.” Before assuming COO duties, Wheeler will serve as senior vice president operations, effective Oct. 1, 2015, through Jan. 31, 2016. NS’ transportation, mechanical, and engineering groups will report to him, while the safety and environmental, police, and network and service management groups will continue to report to Manion.Wheeler, who has served as vice president engineering since 2012, joined NS in 1985 as a research engineer. He served in positions of increasing responsibility in the corporation’s mechanical and transportation areas -- including shop superintendent, trainmaster, division superintendent, and general manager -- before being named vice president transportation in 2009. Wheeler holds degrees from the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech. Earhart, the new CIO, joined NS in 1985 as supervisor subsidiary accounting. She served in key accounting and information technology positions before being named vice president human resources in 2007 and executive vice president administration in 2013. Earhart earned her degree from the University of Missouri. Squires also announced that, effective Oct. 1, 2015, Philip Merilli has been named vice president engineering, reporting to Wheeler and with office in Atlanta. His department is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and inspection of the rail network’s tracks, bridges, and signal systems. Merilli, who has served as assistant vice president maintenance of way and structures since 2013, joined an NS predecessor line in 1981 as an assistant roadmaster. He served in a variety of engineering positions, including track supervisor, division engineer, and chief engineer line maintenance, before being named to his most recent position. Merilli holds a degree from Penn State. (Norfolk Southern - posted 9/24)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 19, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sep. 19, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 566,734 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Sep. 19 were 285,320 carloads, down 5.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,414 containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent compared to 2014. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They were grain, up 19 percent to 22,977 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 7.7 percent to 9,061; and motor vehicles and parts, up 5.8 percent to 18,695. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 22.9 percent to 22,044 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.1 percent to 14,090 carloads; and coal, down 9.1 percent to 103,244 carloads. For the first 37 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,304,555 carloads, down 4.4 percent from the same point last year; and 9,854,405 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 37 weeks of 2015 was 20,158,960 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Sep. 19, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 374,623 carloads, down 7.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 351,204 intermodal units, down 0.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 725,827 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 37 weeks of 2015 was 26,262,586 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.7 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 74,525 carloads for the week, down 12.8 percent, and 59,545 intermodal units, down 2.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 37 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,098,750 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 14,778 carloads for the week, down 7.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,245 intermodal units, down 8.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 37 weeks of 2015 was 1,004,876 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- - posted 9/23)

WICK MOORMAN STEPS DOWN AS EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Charles W. “Wick” Moorman is completing his service as executive chairman of the board of directors of Norfolk Southern Corp., effective Oct. 1, 2015. Moorman will continue to serve as a director until retiring from the board effective Dec. 31, 2015. Moorman will serve as senior advisor to the CEO from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2015, at which time he will retire as a Norfolk Southern employee. The announcement was made today by NS President and CEO James A. Squires, who said, “I speak for the 30,000-strong Norfolk Southern team in expressing our gratitude for Wick’s leadership, friendship, and vision over some of the most remarkable years in Norfolk Southern’s history. “Thanks in great part to him, Norfolk Southern and the railroad industry are far more modern in our thinking, more technologically advanced in our operations, and more thoughtful in managing our footprint for our business partners and those we serve,” Squires said. “Simply put, Wick’s imprint is unique and indelible,” said Steven F. Leer, NS’ lead independent director. “It is my great honor, on behalf of Norfolk Southern’s entire board, to offer congratulations and best wishes to Wick and his family.” (Norfolk Southern, Rick Glosser - - posted 9/21)

JIM SQUIRES NAMED CHAIRMAN OF NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Norfolk Southern President and CEO James A. Squires has been named chairman of the corporation’s board of directors, effective Oct. 1, 2015. The appointment reflects Norfolk Southern’s robust succession process in support of sustainable growth, service dependability, financial success, and value creation for shareholders, said Steven F. Leer, NS’ lead independent director. “Norfolk Southern and all of those who depend on NS benefit from a seasoned, thoughtful, and future-focused leader in Jim Squires,” Leer said. “Jim, his senior management team, and the entire NS workforce enjoy the board’s full confidence and support as we work together to make the most of the opportunities ahead.” Charles W. “Wick” Moorman, executive chairman of the NS board of directors, said, “Jim goes forward with the people, resources, and creativity to take Norfolk Southern to the next level in service to our shareholders, customers, and communities. That mandate is clear, and I have the highest confidence that Jim and the entire Norfolk Southern team will succeed admirably.” Squires, 54, joined Norfolk Southern in 1992 and served in numerous law, finance, and administration positions before being named president in 2013 and CEO in March 2015. His appointment as chairman follows the announcement that Moorman is stepping down as executive chairman of the board of directors, effective Oct. 1, 2015. (Norfolk Southern, Rick Glosser - - posted 9/22)

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES: AMTRAK IS SET TO SELECT HORNELL’S ALSTOM AS PART OF $2.5 BILLION PROGRAM TO BUILD SAFER, NEXT GENERATION HIGH-SPEED TRAINS: U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today visited Steuben County to announce that tomorrow the Amtrak Board of Directors is expected to select Alstom as the train provider for a $2.5 billion program to build the Next Generation High-Speed trains that will create over 750 jobs, including 400 jobs directly at Alstom in Hornell. During Schumer’s visit, he explained that while the final details of the contract still need to be negotiated, the Amtrak Board of Directors is expected to give the green light needed to move forward with those final negotiations exclusively with Alstom. This impending decision by the board paves the way for Alstom to build the next generation high-speed trains that will operate on the Northeast Corridor and is a monumental victory for upstate manufacturing. According to company executives, Alstom anticipates such a contract would create approximately 400 jobs in Hornell and potentially an additional 350 or more across the rest of New York. With more than 750 jobs expected between the Alstom’s Hornell facility and the ripple effect this massive contract would have throughout Upstate NY, Schumer said it would be a win for the entire Upstate NY economy. “This contract will add a massive injection of economic energy and hundreds of good-paying jobs for the economically struggling Southern Tier,” said Schumer. “It will prove to be a win-win-win that would improve rail safety, bring jobs to Upstate New York, and improve the Amtrak experience for passengers along the entire Northeast Corridor.” Schumer said the Amtrak Board of Directors is poised to give Amtrak management permission to move forward with negotiating a final contact with Alstom starting later today with the goal of final approval by the end of December 2015. While the final details of the contract between Amtrak and Alstom are still being worked out, tomorrow’s action by the Amtrak Board paves the way for that process to happen quickly and seamlessly. In addition to negotiating final contract details, final approval of federal funding from the RIFF program will also be needed. As a result, Schumer said during his visit that he will continue to urge the USDOT to provide Amtrak with all of the necessary approvals so that it can move the project forward with Alstom as its provider as quickly as possible. Schumer has long fought on Alstom’s behalf, which has, for more than 150 years, manufactured and serviced high-quality trains in their Hornell manufacturing facility. In June, Schumer visited Alstom in Hornell to urge the Department of Transportation (USDOT) to green light Amtrak's efforts to buy brand Next Generation High-Speed trains. During his visit, Schumer explained that, currently, Acela service is at a critical stage because the leases on its current trains, which were acquired in 1994, are set to expire in the next six to eight years – between 2021 and 2023 – depending on the train. As a result, Schumer said, Amtrak must advance the production of its next generation of the Next Generation High-Speed Trainsets quickly, as they will not only replace the existing fleet but also greatly improve service, capacity, reliability, safety, and trip times. The USDOT, through both waivers and approved financing – through its Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) program – plays a critical role in allowing Amtrak to undertake this important effort. Through the RIFF program, the USDOT authorizes and provides direct loans and loan guarantees to finance the development of railroad infrastructure. In this case Amtrak would pursue such a loan in order to help pay for the Next Generation High-Speed trains. Schumer said that with ridership and ticket revenue on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) line increasing over the last decade, Amtrak needs to purchase trains that meet the high demand and quality conditions. That is why Schumer said the state-of-the-art trains manufactured by Alstom would greatly improve rail safety and protect passengers in the event of a derailment or accident. Schumer said finalizing the negotiations for Amtrak’s contract with this Southern Tier-based company would be a huge win for American manufacturers and suppliers throughout the region as well, like ATM and Transit Air in Hornell, PWI in Wellsville and Vapor Stone Rail in Plattsburg. Schumer said the high number of trains needed to service the NEC would mean good-paying manufacturing jobs for Alstom and other NY State-based suppliers for the project. By allowing Amtrak to move forward with contract negotiation, Schumer said Alstom and its employees would have new opportunities to play a leading role in helping to design and construct the latest in high-speed rail technology. This project has the potential to provide a tremendous lift to the area’s high-tech manufacturing sector. For more than 150 years, Alstom has manufactured and serviced trains across the U.S. creating good, sustainable jobs in the City of Hornell, the Southern Tier, and across America. Currently, Alstom employs over 1,000 people in Upstate NY and the number is growing. Over the years, Alstom’s committed workforce has delivered steam, diesel-electric, electric, and high-speed rail technology, including more than 7,000 transit vehicles, to U.S. customers. Schumer said the company is widely recognized for its deep understanding of U.S. regulations and standards, delivering trains with the highest quality and reliability in the market. Finally, Alstom consistently exceeds domestic content requirements and often achieves up to 90 percent U.S. local content on both completed and current contracts. Schumer was joined by local and county elected officials economic development leaders, as well as representatives from the International Brotherhood of the Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Schumer said the need for better trains along the NEC is needed now more than ever. In FY 2014, the Acela service saw 28 days where daily trips exceeded 14,000 passengers, compared to just five such days in FY 2013. This comes as the NEC generated nearly $500 million in profits last year, the highest ever. As passenger ridership projected to continue increasing in the coming years and Amtrak offering affordable fares, there is a significant need to increase the capacity size for Amtrak trains as soon as possible. Procuring new trains made by American manufacturers and suppliers would prove to be a win-win, as it would meet Amtrak’s increased passenger load while providing jobs for American workers. (U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer - posted 9/22)

“GREAT DOME” CAR RETURNS TO ADIRONDACK SERVICE: Passengers aboard Amtrak’s Adirondack service can experience the splendor of Upstate New York’s fall foliage season in unique fashion when the historic “Great Dome” car returns for a six-week run September 24 through November 3, 2015. In partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the National Park Service Trails and Rails program, Amtrak brings its one remaining dome car back for this popular annual tradition along one of the most scenic train routes in the world. The car features an upper level with windows on all sides to provide panoramic views of the changing colors of the trees, sweeping vistas of Lake Champlain and breathtaking views of the Adirondack Mountains between Albany and Montreal. “The ‘Great Dome’ car is one of the best and most unique ways to experience the magnificent scenery along the route of the Adirondack,” said Kevin Chittenden, Amtrak Deputy General Manager of the Empire Service. “The car is a passenger favorite every year and helps contribute to the ridership and revenue growth that make this service so successful.” “We’re proud to partner with Amtrak to give riders not only a beautiful view of the fall foliage, but also a glimpse of how tourism can create jobs and improve local economies,” said New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Mattthew J. Driscoll. “Growing the tourism industry has been a top priority of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration.” The dome car will operate northbound from Albany to Montreal on Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays and returns south from Montreal on Fridays, Sundays, and Tuesdays. Dome car trips are not made on Wednesdays. Passengers are welcome to enter the car and enjoy the view at no extra cost. Seats are unreserved and available on a first-come, first-served basis. When available, Trails and Rails volunteers will be aboard select dome car trips offering historical commentary between Saratoga Springs and Westport, N.Y. Passengers can also take advantage of the I Love NY 15 percent discount off the regular (full) adult rail fare, valid for sale through May 2016. Advance reservations are required. In addition, up to 2 children ages 2-12 may accompany each adult at half the discounted rail fare. Details at www.Amtrak.com or www.ILoveNY.com (Amtrak - posted 9/21)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF DELAWARE & HUDSON SOUTH LINE: – Norfolk Southern Corporation today completed the acquisition of 282 miles of the Delaware & Hudson Railway Co.’s (D&H) line between Sunbury, Pa., and Schenectady, N.Y., a $214.5 million transaction that increases options for rail carriers and supports jobs in Pennsylvania, New York, and New England. D&H is a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific (CP). “The D&H South Line integrates perfectly into our 22-state rail system, and it allows NS to connect businesses along this important economic corridor with a rail transportation system that’s a top performer in safety and efficiency,” said NS President and CEO James A. Squires. “Our acquisition will make NS a more competitive transportation option between Pennsylvania, New York, and New England.” CP will cease operations on the corridor this evening, and NS is scheduled to start operations at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The transaction, first proposed in November 2014, received U.S. Surface Transportation Board approval in May 2015. The acquired lines connect with NS’ network at Sunbury, Pa., and Binghamton, N.Y., and they provide NS single-line routes from Chicago and the southeastern United States to Albany, N.Y., and NS’ intermodal terminals in Scranton, Pa., and Mechanicville, N.Y. NS also gains an enhanced connection to its joint venture subsidiary Pan Am Southern, which serves New England markets. Additionally, NS has acquired D&H’s car shop in Binghamton along with other facilities along the corridor. As part of the transaction, NS will retain and modify overhead trackage rights on the line between Schenectady, Crescent, and Mechanicville, N.Y., as well as Saratoga Springs, N.Y. NS has hired about 150 former D&H employees who have experience working in this corridor. Track crews from NS are scheduled to perform routine maintenance in the corridor, and NS plans in 2016 to add new ties and resurface 40 miles of track and install 14 miles of new curved rail. “This acquisition is a sign of NS’ confidence in the economic potential of northeastern Pennsylvania, New York’s Southern Tier, and New England,” said John Friedmann, NS vice president of strategic planning. “Our commitment to enhancing the D&H South Line will preserve good-paying railroad jobs and generates excitement at NS about future economic growth in the region.” (NS - posted 9/18)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RESTRUCTURES TRIPLE CROWN SERVICES SUBSIDIARY: Norfolk Southern Corp. is restructuring its Triple Crown Services (TCS) subsidiary to focus on the transportation of automobile parts. The railroad will work with shippers and logistics partners to convert other business handled by Triple Crown Services into Norfolk Southern’s current intermodal network.  Triple Crown Services specializes in the use of RoadRailer® equipment in dedicated trains. TCS will continue RoadRailer service for automobile parts between Detroit and Kansas City for the foreseeable future but will transition to containers in other NS lanes.  “This change is a natural evolution in the business,” said Alan H. Shaw, NS executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “We want to retain the best of TCS in specific markets, with efficient door-to-door logistics and award-winning customer service.” Triple Crown Services has annual revenues of approximately $350 million and currently has a workforce of approximately 240 employees. NS expects to downsize the workforce by about 200 employees by the end of the year. The affected employees will be eligible for severance pay, job placement assistance, and opportunities to apply for positions at NS. James Newton, TCS president, said the immediate emphasis is on making the transition smooth for customers, employees, families, and trucking partners. “We are proud of the accomplishments of Triple Crown and the service we have provided to our customers, and we are confident that TCS and Norfolk Southern will continue to provide the level of service our customers expect.” As a result of the restructuring, NS will recognize accelerated depreciation and other costs totaling approximately $65 million in the second half of the year, roughly equal between the third and fourth quarters. The restructuring is expected to be modestly accretive to earnings beginning in 2016. NS will continue to employ more than 2,000 people in Indiana. “Norfolk Southern maintains a strong transportation presence for shippers, receivers, industrial developers, and communities throughout Indiana,” Shaw said. “We are grateful for our relationships in the state and look forward to future opportunities to partner and grow business.” (NS - posted 9/18)

RICHMOND TO RALEIGH HIGH SPEED RAIL PROPOSAL RECEIVES ALL CLEAR: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the State of North Carolina and the Commonwealth of Virginia announced today that they have signed off on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Richmond to Raleigh (R2R) passenger rail line along the Southeast Corridor. The completion of the FEIS is one of the final steps necessary before construction of the project can move forward once funding is secured. “Without a strong passenger rail system, the Southeast’s growth will be choked by congestion for a very long time,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “North Carolina, Virginia and the Department of Transportation have worked together to bring us closer to high-speed rail connecting Richmond and Raleigh, and I urge everyone involved to continue pushing this effort forward. High-speed rail in this region is not a luxury but a necessity.” The 162-mile route between the two cities would utilize existing and former rail lines for approximately 60 percent of the route and is planned to be free from at-grade crossings of track and roads. This route is part of a larger multi-state planning effort to provide high-speed passenger service between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In July, Secretary Foxx announced that the Department of Transportation would invest approximately $1 million to develop a regional long-term vision for the corridor and engage states and stakeholders to help the region form a governance organization that can sustain planning efforts and implement the vision. “Today brings us closer to breaking ground on this critical project for one of the fastest growing areas of the country. The project will improve safety and reliability, reduce the travel time between Richmond and Raleigh, and increase opportunity for jobs and growth in the Southeast,” FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg said. A recent U.S. Department of Transportation report, Beyond Traffic, in turn found that our country will add 70 million more people by 2045, and that the Southeast will indeed absorb a significant portion of that growth. The FEIS includes responses to comments from citizens, elected officials, residents, businesses and other stakeholders that have been involved in the process. (USDOT - posted 9/18)

LIVE STEAM RETURNS TO THE HOCKING VALLEY: The Hocking Valley Railroad, located in Nelsonville, Ohio, has announced the first trips to be pulled by steam locomotive, 0-6-0 No. 3! This completely volunteer rebuild and restoration has been about 15 years in the making, culminating with the first steam-powered trips out of Nelsonville starting this October! The Noon and 2:30 trips will be pulled by No. 3 on October 3 and 4, and again October 17 and 18. Fares are the same regardless of steam or diesel. More dates will be announced later. Please note that the 3, originally built in 1920 by Baldwin Locomotive Works, is a vintage locomotive and as with any steam locomotive, can be subject to unforeseen mechanical issues. As noted on the website and brochure, we do reserve the right to substitute motive power as operating conditions require without advanced notice (sometimes we just won't know until the day of a ride or during the day). Order your tickets today to ride behind the first steam train trips from Nelsonville in almost 20 years! This is the only regularly operating standard-gauged steam locomotive in the state of Ohio! Details on our trains, prices and more are available at  www.hvsry.org or by calling (740) 249-1452. Order now as we expect capacity crowds for the steam locomotive days! Again, plans are to run the 3 on only the following dates: October 3,4,17, and 18.  Noon and 2:30 train departures on the listed dates All other trains are diesel-powered. Go on-line and reserve your tickets now at www.hockingvalleytrain.org . (Hocking Valley RR via Alex Mayes - posted 9/17)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN WILL ASSUME CONTROL OF D&H SOUTH LINES THIS SATURDAY: Word is that on Saturday, September 19, as 12:01 a.m., Norfolk Southern will officially assume control of Canadian Pacific's ex D&H trackage between Schnectady, N.Y. and Sunbury, Pa. The NS Harrisburg Division Dispatcher will assume all dispatching of this trackage effective Friday, September 18, at 3:00 p.m. Currently, CP is wrapping up all operations along this portion of the former D&H. The last Canadian Pacific train out of Binghamton, N.Y. will be No. 253, expected for depart Binghamton during the morning of September 18. Saturday morning 12:01 am, September 19th. (posted 9/16)

ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS SAYS GAO REPORT UNDERSCORES NEED FOR PTC EXTENSION: Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger said today that the released report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms what freight and passenger railroads have been saying for years: Congress needs to extend the deadline for installation of positive train control (PTC). The GAO review examined the rail industry's PTC implementation progress and challenges, and identified the complexities associated with developing, installing and testing the technology. "The GAO report reinforces the freight rail industry's contention that PTC is an extremely complex technology that requires more time to install and safely test," Hamberger said. "Freight rail operators have always contended that the Congressionally mandated 2015 deadline for having PTC fully functional and being used coast to coast by passenger and freight rail alike was not realistic. "But the fact that can't be ignored is that time is quickly running out for taking action to extend the deadline and avoid the dire consequences of not doing so. American businesses that use rail to move their goods and people that depend on rail to travel and get to work every day need to know they can count on Congress to do the right thing." Hamberger, the nation's top freight rail industry representative, has alerted more than 40 U.S. trade associations representing myriad industries that depend on efficient and reliable rail transportation to the potential for service shutdowns and major disruptions should Congress fail to extend the deadline by the end of October. "Railroads are beginning to notify their customers of the possibility of an impending rail shutdown as they, too, have to prepare for such a worst-case scenario," Hamberger said. "Congress can't wait until November or December when the clock is about to run out. If lawmakers want to avert a massive disruption of passenger and freight transport this fall, which will inflict significant hardships on businesses and passengers alike, it must take action now to extend the deadline." When Congress mandated installation of PTC it set an arbitrary deadline of December 31, 2015 that did not reflect the unprecedented challenges required to deploy this new technology safely and responsibly. Under current law, PTC is required for approximately 60,000 route miles on lines that transport passengers or certain types of hazardous materials. The industry has made major strides developing PTC. In its most recent report to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), AAR said the following will be completed by the end of 2015:
  • More than 14 percent of the 60,000 route miles will have PTC
  • 31 percent of locomotives will be PTC equipped,
  • 69 percent of wayside units and 63 percent of base station radios will have been installed;
  • One-third of 114,515 railroad employees will be PTC trained.
"The freight rail industry remains absolutely committed to fully implementing PTC," Hamberger said. "While the industry has spent more than $5.7 billion to date and has made substantial progress on PTC, much work remains to be done. Extending the deadline for completing installation until 2018, with additional time for testing and validation, will allow the industry to deploy PTC in a safe and effective manner and simply is the right thing to do." (AAR - posted 9/16)

AAR REPORT WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 12, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sep. 12, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 510,797 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Sep. 12 were 268,960 carloads, down 10.5 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 241,837 containers and trailers, down 13.3 percent compared to 2014. The week ending Sep. 12, 2015 contained the Labor Day holiday. The week it is being compared to in 2014 did not. One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. It was grain, up 3.6 percent to 17,897 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 27.5 percent to 20,583 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.8 percent to 14,231 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, down 15.1 percent to 34,734 carloads. For the first 36 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,019,235 carloads, down 4.3 percent from the same point last year; and 9,572,991 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 36 weeks of 2015 was 19,592,226 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Sep. 12, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 357,653 carloads, down 10 percent compared with the same week last year, and 310,915 intermodal units, down 12 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 668,568 carloads and intermodal units, down 10.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 36 weeks of 2015 was 25,536,759 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.6 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 72,320 carloads for the week, down 11.9 percent, and 55,896 intermodal units, down 10.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 36 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,964,680 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,373 carloads for the week, up 10.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,182 intermodal units, up 8.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 36 weeks of 2015 was 979,853 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 9/16)

DURHAM-ORANGE LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT PROJECT: Development of 17 miles of clean, affordable transportation between Chapel Hill and East Durham, North Carolina is underway, and the need for your input continues. An electric-powered light rail line is in the early developmental stage. The estimated operating date is between 2025 and 2026. The 17-mile route, which is planned to include 17 stations, will connect UNC Hospitals to Alston Avenue. The project cost is estimated at $1.34 billion dollars (in 2012 dollars) or $1.8 billion (with inflation). Voters in Durham and Orange counties approved a one-half cent sales tax to fund the local share of the light rail project along with new and expanded bus service. Additional funds are expected from state and federal sources. Earlier in 2014, the Federal Transit Administration gave Triangle Transit the go-ahead to enter Project Development. The proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project is one of only two light rail projects nationwide which were allowed to proceed by the US Department of Transportation in 2014. (Town of Chapel Hill - posted 9/15)

34 St-HUDSON YARDS NO. 7 LINE STATION OPENS FOR SERVICE: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today opened the new 34 St-Hudson Yards 7 Subway Line Station, a modern marvel with 21st Century amenities that introduces subway service to the far West Side of midtown Manhattan, fostering transit-oriented development in the emerging, mixed-use community there. The station makes the 7 Subway Line the only line south of 59th Street to provide service west of Ninth Avenue, offering access to the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the High Line and the newly opened Hudson River Park. The $2.42 billion, 1.5-mile extension of the 7 Subway Line to 34 St-11 Av was funded by the City of New York. City funding included $2.1 billion for the station in addition to $266 million for other non-subway related infrastructure work. The MTA contributed $53 million for the extension, helping spur the development and transformation of the rezoned far West Side. It is the first new station added to the subway system since MTA New York City Transit opened the Lexington Av-63 St, Roosevelt Island, and 21 St-Queensbridge stations in 1989. MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast was joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio, MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, New York City Transit Interim President James L. Ferrara and other elected officials and stakeholders to cut the ribbon marking the opening of the 34 St-Hudson Yards 7 Subway Line Station. The station is expected to serve more than 32,000 entries and exits on weekdays when it opens and is designed to handle as many as 25,000 during a peak hour. “This station is the centerpiece of an ambitious plan to make the far West Side of Manhattan a top-tier destination for residents and visitors alike while meeting the daily needs of millions of subway riders, and one that is poised to meet future needs,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “It is a clear example of how the City and State can work together to support a transit network that drives our regional economy.” “This is a great day, years in the making,” Mayor de Blasio said. “It’s an expression of this city’s capacity to do big things. The 7 Subway Line train extension is going to anchor new growth and opportunity on the West Side, and will improve the commutes of tens of thousands of New Yorkers. And the new public space opening above is a tremendous addition to the cityscape. We are deeply appreciative of the contributions so many New Yorkers and organizations have made to this project — from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to the MTA, to Senator Schumer and our local elected officials.” “Just as the 7 Subway Line train created neighborhoods like Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Jackson Heights in the 20th Century, this extension instantly creates an accessible new neighborhood right here in Manhattan,” Chairman Prendergast said. “It will improve service reliability for all 7 Subway Line line customers, and thanks to the foresight of Mayor Bloomberg, it is anchoring the transit-oriented, mixed-use development transforming the far West Side.” “Wide-open column-free spaces, inclined elevators, air tempering and beautiful mosaic artwork all make the 34 St-Hudson Yards station a true station of the future,” said President Horodniceanu. “This new, modern station will be the lifeline of Manhattan’s newest neighborhood. It will make it possible for thousands of residents, employees and visitors to get to Hudson Yards easily and quickly. Without the extension, this new development would not have been possible.” “This beautiful new station is just the beginning of the enhanced service the hundreds of thousands of customers on the 7 Subway Line Line will see in the future,” said Interim President Ferrara. “They now benefit from a station with a modern design that includes a mezzanine and platform which are among the longest and widest in the system, together with the latest technology that allows customers to receive information and communicate with transit personnel. When Communications-Based Train Control is fully installed in 2017, we’ll be able to increase service on the 7 Subway Line Line to further meet the growing ridership demand on the far West Side as well as in growing neighborhoods in Queens.” Station Amenities The station and the new subway line contain state-of-the-art mechanical, electrical and communications equipment and systems. Highly functional public spaces provide capacity for future system changes, integrating signage, lighting, digital advertising and artwork. The new 34 St-Hudson Yards 7 Subway Line Station contains other notable “firsts” for the New York City Transit subway system including the longest column-free station platform and the longest escalators inside any station. The station is also the first to comply with ADA requirements with two inclined elevators between the upper and lower mezzanines. The elevators travel 82 feet vertically and 152 feet horizontally at the speed of 100 feet per minute. They can accommodate five wheelchairs or 15 standing customers. The 34 St-Hudson Yards 7 Subway Line Station has three public floors — the upper mezzanine (27.6 feet below street level), the lower mezzanine (109 feet below street level) and the platform level (125 feet below street level). Access from the street level to the upper mezzanine at the main entrance is provided by four low-rise escalators and two staircases. An ADA elevator located in the new park outside of the main entrance provides access to the upper mezzanine. From the upper mezzanine, customers will access the lower mezzanine using five high-rise escalators and the two inclined elevators. Eight sets of stairs and one ADA elevator provide access from the lower mezzanine to the platform level. Among the station’s modern amenities, the platform level is air-tempered, maintaining a year-round temperature between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The station also features 12 Help Point Intercoms that allow customers to communicate with the station agent or the Rail Control Center in the case of an emergency. The station is adorned with 24 55” digital screens on the lower mezzanine that will show advertising and service notices from New York City Transit. “It was important for us to have digital advertising screens at this beautiful new station,” said Jeff Rosen, MTA Director of Real Estate. “They are aesthetically pleasing, as our advertising licensee, Outfront Media, designed the screens to fit in with the design of the station. We have been very successful in increasing revenues from our digital networks to date, and we see all-digital subway stations as the future of subway advertising.” Eight On-the-Go screens and cell phone connectivity and Wi-Fi will be added in the near future, all of which will provide a new level of service and communications for customers. Countdown clocks will come to the station upon completion of the installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) slated for 2017. The entire 34 St-Hudson Yards 7 Subway Line Station features high-end finishes such as stainless steel tile wall panels, painted steel ceiling panels, granite floor tile, energy efficient lighting and other architectural features. (MTA- posted 9/14)

AMTRAK LAUNCHES NEW BRAND CAMPAIGN: “500 DESTINATIONS. INFINITE STORIES : Amtrak today unveiled a new nationwide brand campaign “500 Destinations: Infinite Stories,” inspired by passengers’ travel experiences from across the U.S. The new campaign is designed to create top-of-mind awareness and showcases the comfort, freedom, service and value of train travel. The storytelling at the heart of the campaign focuses on the unique experiences and adventures only rail travel can provide. Whether it’s a trip to college, a business trip with colleagues, a girls’ weekend, or a dream vacation across the country, Amtrak takes you there. From downtown to downtown, community to community, Amtrak connects passengers to more than 500 destinations, offering a smarter way to travel. The new brand campaign also builds upon the value Amtrak offers to millions of passengers every year: a chance to relax and stretch out, move about freely and work or play. “Amtrak’s new campaign speaks to the uniquely enjoyable experience of rail travel,” said Darlene Abubakar, Amtrak acting vice president brand management and marketing. “We are reinvigorating the Amtrak brand by celebrating thousands of travel experiences while simultaneously reinforcing what longtime Amtrak loyalists love about America’s Railroad: comfort, convenience and a commitment to excellent customer service.” The multi-platform campaign provides brand consistency across all channels including TV, print, digital and social media and features the breadth of Amtrak’s national train system including long distance , Acela® and Northeast Regional trains, as well as state-supported routes. The new campaign was created in coordination with Amtrak’s advertising agency, FCB Garfinkel, New York. (Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 9/14)

AMTRAK AND BANK OF AMERICA ANNOUNCE NEW AMTRAK GUEST REWARDS CREDIT CARDS: Amtrak and Bank of America announced a new Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card program effective immediately. This program includes two new credit cards created to fit passengers’ travel and spending preferences. It’s now easier than ever to ride with Amtrak, earn points and redeem for Amtrak travel with the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® and Platinum MasterCard® credit cards. “These new cards are perfectly matched with the Amtrak Guest Rewards program improvements we recently announced and mark an important milestone in our ongoing commitment to deliver exceptional value to our loyal passengers,” said Amtrak Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Matt Hardison. “Together with Bank of America, we are providing customers with what they want: more travel rewards and an overall improved travel experience.” Amtrak passengers and Amtrak Guest Rewards members can now choose from two credit card options that deliver more flexibility and convenience for card holders. The Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard credit card offers many perks, including:
  • • A complimentary Companion Coupon, one Class-Upgrade and a single-day ClubAcela® pass upon account opening
  • • 20,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards bonus points after spending at least $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening
  • • Three Amtrak Guest Rewards points for every $1 spent with Amtrak
  • • Two points per $1 spent on all other eligible travel purchases
  • • One point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • • A 5% rebate on Amtrak redemption travel
  • • EMV chip technology
For more information about the second credit card option, the Amtrak Guest Rewards ® Platinum MasterCard®, as well as rates, fees, costs and benefits associated with these credit cards, visit AmtrakGuestRewards.com/Apply and refer to the disclosures accompanying the online credit application. “We’re pleased to team up with Amtrak to launch this new card rewards program and add another key partner to our family of co-branded relationships,” said Michael Simpson, executive for co-brand partnerships at Bank of America. “The new Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard® and Platinum MasterCard® credit cards are designed to maximize points and make travel on Amtrak more rewarding.” The Amtrak Guest Rewards MasterCard credit cards’ new features make exploring America easier than ever before. Terms and restrictions apply. For more information about the Amtrak Guest Rewards program, visit www.AmtrakGuestRewards.com (Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 9/14)

AMTRAK POWERS CROSS-COUNTRY CREATIVE PROJECT : Amtrak is partnering with Passion Passport , a community of storytellers, photographers and videographers united around the transformative power of travel, to bring together some of the nation’s leading creative voices in the travel industry aboard a multi-day cross-country train journey Sept. 11 – 25 for the first-ever Passport Express. Passport Express creative leaders will provide a variety of workshops and seminars to the group of 24 community members that will embark on this two-week travel experience. In addition to learning about topics such as photography, design and creative writing, the selected passengers will get to take in the sights that can only be seen from the window of an Amtrak train. “The Passport Express experience will highlight all of the best things cross-country train travel has to offer,” said Julia Quinn, Amtrak director of public relations. “No other form of transportation offers the opportunity to experience amazing scenery, an environment that fosters engaging collaboration and the unique opportunity to explore and be inspired by the diversity of landscapes America has to offer.” Passport Express onboard participants include: photographer, educator and traveler Pei Ketron; Emmy ® award-winning host and creator of the Bare Feet® Series Mickela Mallozzi; photographer and creative director Adrienne Pitts; travel writer Jedidiah Jenkins; and photographer and adventurer Michael George. Departing from Washington, D.C., with stops in Chicago, , St. Paul, Minn., Whitefish, Mont., Portland, Ore., and arriving in San Francisco, , Passport Express will cover three Amtrak routes. Participants will tell the story of their experience aboard Amtrak using the hashtag #PassportExpress. Fans and followers can also interact with Passport Express participants using the hashtag. The Capitol Limited, Empire Builder and Coast Starlight are part of a national network that provides service to small towns and big cities across America. In addition to providing mobility and connectivity, Amtrak provides economic opportunities, helping communities across America to grow and prosper. This program is part of an effort by Amtrak to feature the unique travel experience cross country train travel offers, while also highlighting the more than 500 destinations served by Amtrak. Other recent social programs focused on the travel experience only provided by trains include the popular #AmtrakResidency program and #AmtrakLIVE. For more information on Amtrak and Passport Express, blog.amtrak.com (Amtrak- posted 9/11)

CSX DONATES 130 ACRES TO SEPTEMBER 11TH NATIONAL MEMORIAL TRAIL ALLIANCE: CSX, one of America's premier transportation companies, has agreed to donate 130 acres of undeveloped land in southwestern Pennsylvania to the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, a not-for-profit organization formed to establish a memorial trail to link the memorial sites at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Flight 93 National Memorial. The donation provides land that will help the alliance build a 7-mile portion of an off-road multipurpose trail between the Great Alleghany Passage Trail in Garrett, Penn., and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Penn. David G. Brickley, president of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, said, "The Alliance thanks CSX for its outstanding support in this national trail initiative and for the commitment its employees share to honoring the Heroes of September 11, 2001, and the communities in which the victims, their families and first responders lived and worked. CSX's generosity has been critical to our ability to complete this key segment of the September 11th National Memorial Trail to the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania and considerably strengthens our ability to maintain it for those who will enjoy and learn from the Trail for generations to come." Rep. Bill Shuster, whose congressional district includes the CSX property, said, "The September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance is demonstrating tremendous resolve in building a pathway to connect these three historic sites. Now, thanks to CSX's generous contribution, an additional link in the 1,100-mile network is an important step closer to being completed." Michael Ward, chairman and chief executive officer of CSX, said, "CSX is honored to make this contribution to the September 11th National Trail Alliance, helping to build the connection between these three important historic sites. Just as we connect America's businesses and consumers in support of the nation's prosperity, we're pleased to have a role in building the network of trails that will link these memorials to the heroes of September 11th." The properties CSX is contributing to the 9/11 trail traverse approximately 5.6 miles of undeveloped land between Garrett and Berlin, Penn., and 4 miles of undeveloped land between Berlin and Shanksville, Penn. The properties were previously used as a right-of-way for railroad operations. CSX has owned many of the properties for 145 years or more, since the 1870s. Brickley added, "The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Somerset County have also been terrific partners on this national project. It is our goal to open this segment of the trail by September 2016, which is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service and the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack." The September 11th National Memorial Trail is a 1,300-mile commemorative trail linking the National September 11th Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York City, the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington County, VA and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, PA. The Trail is a unique tribute to those who so tragically perished on September 11, 2001. It is envisioned as a multi-use corridor for hiking and bicycling and features an accompanying quiet, back-road motor route for driving, motorcycling and public and tour transportation. The Trail also has been designed to link historic points of interest along the route where the resiliency and courage inherent in American character have shone throughout our history. The September 11th Trail National Memorial Trail Alliance was formed in 2004, is a not-for-profit, 501 (C) 3 Organization. More information about the organization and the trail is available at www.911trail.org . ( CSX - posted 9/09)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 5, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sep. 5, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 567,206 carloads and intermodal units, up 8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Sep. 9 were 287,339 carloads, down 0.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,867 containers and trailers, up 17 percent compared to 2014. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: motor vehicles and parts, up 19.5 percent to 18,534 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 18.3 percent to 9,213 carloads and grain, up 9.6 percent to 18,780 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 17.3 percent to 21,145 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 9.1 percent to 14,240 carloads; and coal, down 2.8 percent to 108,208 carloads. For the first 35 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,750,275 carloads, down 4.1 percent from the same point last year; and 9,331,154 intermodal units, up 3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 35 weeks of 2015 was 19,081,429 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Sep. 5, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 378,598 carloads, down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 355,297 intermodal units, up 15.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 733,895 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 35 weeks of 2015 was 24,868,191 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.3 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 74,949 carloads for the week, down 6.9 percent, and 64,015 intermodal units, up 14.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 35 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,836,464 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,310 carloads for the week, up 9.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,415 intermodal units, down 5.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 35 weeks of 2015 was 950,298 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 9/09)

CSX ANNOUNCES LEADERSHIP CHANGES: Michael J. Ward, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, today announced a number of senior management changes, including the resignation of Oscar Munoz, who has been named President and Chief Executive of United Continental Holdings, Inc. The changes are effective immediately.
  • Clarence W. Gooden is appointed President, overseeing both Operations and Sales and Marketing, from his previous position as Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.
  • Fredrik J. Eliasson is appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer from his previous position as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
  • Cindy M. Sanborn is appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CSX Transportation, Inc., from her prior position as Executive Vice President-Operations.
  • Frank A. Lonegro is appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from his previous position as Vice President-Service Design.
"I look forward to leading this dynamic team, and have every confidence in our ability to deliver a compelling future for CSX. I plan to leverage this team's leadership and tremendous skills in safety, customer service and efficiency as CSX executes its strategies to achieve ever-better levels of financial performance," Ward said. "We sincerely congratulate Oscar on his appointment to United and the opportunity to lead another outstanding transportation company," Ward said. "We all thank him for 12 years of dedicated and successful service to CSX." Gooden has helped lead CSX's growth and value pricing efforts, serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer since 2004. His career with CSX and its predecessor companies has provided him with more than 40 years of experience in Operations and Sales and Marketing. Eliasson has helped develop and lead strategic initiatives, particularly in efficiency and capital allocation, since his appointment as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2012. He previously served in key Sales and Marketing and Finance leadership roles, including as vice president of the chemicals and fertilizer business, vice president of emerging markets, vice president of commercial finance, and vice president of financial planning and analysis. He joined the company in 1995. Sanborn has helped lead the company's operating performance and Service Excellence initiatives in the role she took on earlier this year as Executive Vice President-Operations and in leadership positions of increasing responsibility in Operations, including as vice president and chief transportation officer and vice president-northern region. She joined CSX in 1987. Lonegro has helped shape and lead efficiency and capital strategies in positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as vice president-service design and before that president of CSX Technology, vice president-mechanical, vice president-internal audit and associate general counsel. He joined the company in 1999. ( CSX - posted 9/08)

M&E LEAVES MAINE, FOCUSES ON NJ OPERATIONS: Weekend travelers have another high-speed option for Northeast Corridor service between 2015 will be the final year for Maine Eastern Railroad’s freight and excursion rail operations. Since January 1, 2004, the Morristown & Erie Railway has been operating in Maine as the Maine Eastern Railroad, providing year-round freight service and seasonal excursion train service along the Rockland Branch. The railroad’s main office in Morristown, NJ was notified on Wednesday that the operating lease on the State-owned Rockland Branch, which runs for 58 miles between Brunswick and Rockland, ME, will not be renewed with the Maine Eastern. Instead, the local Central Maine & Quebec Railway will assume the freight operations on the Rockland Branch on January 1, 2016. The Morristown & Erie Railway currently has extensive freight operations in Morris County, NJ and switching operations at the Bayway Refinery in Linden, NJ. Both have seen significant rail traffic increases in the past four years. The Morristown & Erie will be refocusing its efforts on these operations by pursuing several new business opportunities and continuing to foster the upward trend in freight shipments. The Morristown & Erie’s rail equipment currently located on the Rockland Branch will be relocated to New Jersey to supplement the railroad’s existing locomotives and rolling stock and help manage the increased business. There are no current plans for the continuation of excursion passenger service along the Rockland Branch in 2016. The remainder of the Maine Eastern’s 2015 excursion season will continue to operate as scheduled, with Saturday and Sunday round-trips running throughout October. The final day for excursion service on the Rockland Branch will be Sunday, October 31, 2015. Tickets may still be purchased for these excursions at www.MaineEasternRailroad.com or by calling 207-596-6725. The Maine Eastern Railroad would like to thank its customers, passengers, supporters, and the State of Maine for the opportunity to operate the Rockland Branch for the past twelve years. The railroad also wishes the Central Maine & Quebec the best success with its new operation. . (ME- posted 9/04)

AMTRAK EXPANDS WEEKEND ACELA EXPRESS SERVICE: Weekend travelers have another high-speed option for Northeast Corridor service between Boston and New York, as Amtrak expands its popular Acela Express service between the two cities. Tickets are now available at Amtrak.com, the Amtrak mobile apps and other booking channels. Train # 2295 is a new morning departure from Boston, leaving South Station at 7:35 a.m. with a scheduled arrival at Penn Station New York at 11:15 a.m. This Saturday-only service provides additional flexibility and convenience for customers when making their travel plans. A new northbound train (#2260) will depart New York at 4:55 p.m., providing passengers with an evening travel option to Boston. “These additional trains reflect the value passengers place on safe, reliable, high-speed service on the Northeast Corridor,” said Mike DeCataldo, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Northeast Corridor Operations. “Our passengers want more service and more frequent travel options and wherever we can accommodate that demand we’re going to do it.” In an effort to meet the increasing demand for high-speed rail service and provide additional capacity on the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak is also working to acquire new trainsets that will supplement and eventually replace the existing Acela equipment. (Amtrak- posted 9/04)

CM&Q AWARDED CONTRACT TO OPERATE THE ROCKLAND BRANCH: The Portland Press Herald has reported that the Central Maine & Quebec Railway has been awarded the contract to lease and operate trains on the State of Maine owned rail line between Brunswick and Rockland. According to an article in the Portland Press Herald " The decision by the Maine Department of Transportation could mean the end for a summer tourist train, which for 12 years has been operated by the Maine Eastern Railroad. Maine Eastern, which previously held the lease and operated freight trains on the line, was the only other bidder. Central Maine & Quebec will take over the rail line Jan. 1. The company has no plans to offer passenger service, said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the transportation department. Maine Eastern’s summer excursion trains were subsidized by its more lucrative freight businesses. The company, which is owned by Morristown & Erie Railway Inc. in Morristown, New Jersey, offered two proposals for year-round passenger service on the line as part of its bid, Talbot said. However, both proposals would have required a subsidy and the state is not interested in subsidizing a new passenger rail service anywhere in Maine, he said." (Portland Maine Herald, Randy Kotuby - posted 9/03)

FRA ANNOUNCES $10 MILLION FOR STATES TO IMPROVE HIGHWAY-RAIL CROSSINGS, TRACK ALONG ENERGY ROUTES: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that it is soliciting applications for $10 million in competitive grant funding available to states to improve highway-rail grade crossings and track along routes that transport energy products like crude oil and ethanol. The guidelines for the grant applications set by the FRA encourage states to include innovative solutions to improve safety, especially at highway-rail grade crossings. The funding is part of the Railroad Safety grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program. “The U.S. Department of Transportation has made increasing safety at highway-rail grade crossings, especially along routes transporting energy products, one of its top priorities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This money allows the Department to support innovative ideas and solutions developed at the local level, and I encourage states to apply for this funding.” Highway-rail grade crossings collisions are the second-leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities. Last year, 269 individuals died in these collisions. While the number of fatalities has decreased for the last several decades, this number increased last year for the first time this decade. Highway-rail grade crossing accidents are frequently the result of a driver’s lack of awareness of a crossing or an oncoming train or a driver’s attempt to “beat the train.” Earlier this year, FRA ramped up its campaign to prevent collisions and save lives at highway-rail grade crossings through greater education, stronger enforcement and smarter engineering. To accomplish this, FRA has developed key partnerships, and has:
  • Worked with Google and other technology companies to integrate FRA’s grade crossing location data to provide audio and visual alerts when using turn-by-turn navigation applications;
  • Partnered with local law enforcement agencies to increase enforcement at railroad crossings; and
  • Supported research on grade crossing technology.
“Most of these deaths are completely preventable, and that is why the Federal Railroad Administration has redoubled its efforts to reverse last year’s upward trend. These funds will allow states to take innovative ideas and make them a reality to increase safety and decrease fatalities,” said FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg. In GROW AMERICA, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed creating new grant program that would make $250 million available to local communities for highway-rail grade crossings as well as other critical rail infrastructure projects. In addition, the Department has proposed continuing Federal Highway Administration’s $220 million per year dedicated grant program for highway rail grade crossing projects. Earlier this year, DOT released its comprehensive rule that raises the bar on the safety of transporting crude oil by rail. The rule requires stronger tank cars and 21st century electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes that activate simultaneously on all tank cars, reduce the distance and time needed for a train to stop, and keep more tank cars on the track if a train does derail. DOT has also required that railroads transporting crude oil notify State Emergency Response Commissions of the movement of crude oil through individual states. During the last two years, DOT has taken more than two dozen actions to increase the safety of transporting energy products by rail . (USDOT - posted 9/02)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR AUGUST AND WEEK ENDING AUGUST 29, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for August 2015 and the first eight months of 2015. Carload traffic in August totaled 1,155,957 carloads, down 4.6 percent or 56,104 carloads from August 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,114,370 containers and trailers in August 2015, up 3.6 percent or 38,617 units from the same month last year. For August 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,270,327, down 0.8 percent or 17,487 carloads and intermodal units from August 2014. In August 2015, six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with August 2014. This included: miscellaneous, up 28 percent or 5,870 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 5.1 percent or 3,460 carloads; and grain mill products, up 6.5 percent or 2,322 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in August 2015 from August 2014 included: coal, down 7.3 percent or 33,624 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.9 percent or 9,078 carloads; and metallic ores, down 24.7 percent or 7,946 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were down 3 percent or 22,480 carloads in August 2015 from August 2014. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first eight months of 2015 was 9,462,936 carloads, down 4.3 percent or 423,230 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 9,051,287 units, up 2.6 percent or 233,597 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first eight months of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 18,514,223 carloads and intermodal units, down 1 percent or 189,633 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year. "August had essentially the same rail traffic pattern as the previous few months: a healthy increase for intermodal, a big decline for coal, continued weakness in a variety of energy-related commodities, and strength in some other carload segments," said AAR Senior Vice President Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Railroads are a derived-demand industry, meaning that demand for rail service is a function of demand downstream for the products railroads haul. We're optimistic that the economy will continue to grow. Demand for rail service should continue to grow with it." Week Ending August 29, 2015: Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending August 29, 2015 was 575,323 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 290,792 carloads, down 5 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 284,531 containers and trailers, up 4 percent compared to 2014. This represents the highest number for intermodal volume ever. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They included: motor vehicles and parts, up 11.9 percent to 18,308; miscellaneous carloads, up 10.1 percent to 10,711 carloads; and farm products, up 0.2 percent to 16,127. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 22.7 percent to 23,370 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.3 percent to 13,896 carloads; and grain, down 5.9 percent to 18,259 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending Aug. 29, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 383,184 carloads, down 5.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,107 intermodal units, up 2.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 743,291 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 34 weeks of 2015 was 24,134,296 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 75,438 carloads for the week, down 11.4 percent, and 63,880 intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 34 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,697,500 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.9 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,954 carloads for the week, up 7.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,696 intermodal units, down 7.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 34 weeks of 2015 was 922,573 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 9/02)

SPECIAL NORFOLK SOUTHERN LOCOMOTIVES HELP ATLANTANS BREATHE EASIER: With Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on hand to celebrate the success of a public-private partnership for cleaner air, Norfolk Southern today unveiled the nation's first of a new class of rail yard locomotives developed with federal funding assistance to reduce emissions in urban areas.said Gov. Deal. "I applaud the company's environmental consciousness and its work to achieve public benefits through cooperative efforts with municipalities and government agencies like the one we celebrate here today." Gov. Deal and Mark Manion, Norfolk Southern's chief operating officer, dedicated five of the locomotives during a ceremony at Norfolk Southern's Inman Yard, a major hub of interstate commerce and intermodal transportation just northwest of downtown Atlanta. The engines are branded "Eco" locomotives for their operating efficiencies in reducing emissions and fuel consumption. The 3,000-horsepower engines meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's strict Tier-3 emissions standards for locomotives. Norfolk Southern's Atlanta yard eventually will put to work 10 low-emissions Eco locomotives this year. Annually, the 10 units will account for 6.6 fewer tons of particulate matter and 155 fewer tons of nitrogen oxides pollutants generally associated with smog and acid rain. As more Eco units are delivered to Atlanta in 2016, the clean-air benefits will be even greater. The Eco units were designed and built by Norfolk Southern at its Juniata, Pa., locomotive shops using components from locomotive builder Electro-Motive Diesel, a division of Progress Rail Services, a Caterpillar company. The project was funded in part by grants from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). The Eco units unveiled today feature a stylistic green paint scheme with a Georgia-shaped icon and the slogan "Working Together for a Cleaner State." Additional CMAQ grants will lead to future placement of Eco locomotives at Norfolk Southern's rail yards at Macon and Rome, Ga., and at Chicago. "In addition to lower emissions and fuel savings, benefits include operating efficiencies, as each Eco unit can replace two older, less-efficient locomotives," Manion said. "Over the last five years, we have significantly lowered greenhouse gas emissions of our locomotive fleet, achieving an 8.5 percent reduction per revenue ton-mile. Rollout of the Eco units demonstrates Norfolk Southern's continuing commitment to industry leadership in sustainability best practices and environmental partnerships. Our transportation operations at Atlanta are central to serving customers throughout our network and beyond. We consider it a corporate responsibility to mitigate the environmental impacts of our rail operations, and we thank the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Division, the city of Atlanta, and other cities and customers all along our lines that partner with us to achieve this goal." "Through a phased implementation of lower emissions standards for locomotives, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has worked with the rail industry to bring about cleaner air for communities," said Beverly Banister, division director of EPA's Region 4 based at Atlanta. "The Eco units supported by grants from CMAQ will help ensure that yard switcher locomotives adhere to cleaner, healthier air quality standards." In Georgia, Norfolk Southern employs 4,735 people and operates a network of 1,779 rail miles. The company annually transports 1.3 million shipments by rail in the Peach State alone, totaling 55 million tons of freight for some 1,200 customers. Together with industrial development activity that brings new business, jobs, and investment to Georgia, and service to the state's ports, Norfolk Southern's rail network connects Georgia communities to the marketplaces of the world. (Norfolk Southern - posted 9/01)

GRANT WILL HELP PREPARE MTA'S NEXT GENERATION OF WORKERS: The future is looking brighter for young people hoping to embark on a career with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). That’s because the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the MTA a $739,605 grant to work with the Transportation Diversity Council to establish the Workforce Investment Now – New York program. The grants are provided through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The program will focus on preparing high school students at the Bronx Design and Construction Academy (BDCA) in Melrose for careers in transportation, design and construction. The workforce investment program builds upon characteristics of a program developed by the Denver Regional Transportation District, and expands it in response to local New York City metro needs and opportunities. The initiative is focused on high school juniors and seniors in career and technical education programs and underrepresented populations who will assume duties and responsibilities required for various trade and technical positions in transportation, design and construction. BDCA students complete four years of a public high school education which includes 21st century trade training, innovative sustainability practices and rigorous academics. Those enrolled in the electric concentration, graduate with 600 hours of education in electromechanical and electrical technology as well as 200 additional hours in a relevant internship. MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, who, in June, spoke at BDCA’s inaugural graduation ceremony, is once again proud to be working with the innovative high school: “As the MTA’s system continues to grow, we will need more and more skilled men and women, such as BDCA graduates, who are excited about the industry and are committed to working on future projects at the MTA,” said Prendergast. “These funds will ensure that we will have the best-trained and highest achieving employees to meet the challenges of the job.” Transportation Diversity Council President and CEO Dwayne C. Sampson said: “This FTA and MTA Ladders of Opportunity Grant provides a much needed shot in the arm for workforce development in the New York region, it provides promise for the future transportation and infrastructure technical skills pool which is tremendously needed due to increasing retirements. TDC is geared and ready for the challenge.” Transportation Workers Union, Local 100 Secretary Treasurer Earl Phillips said: “Blue collar labor is responsible for America’s status as a superpower; by focusing on guiding and developing our young blue collar workers we strengthen America’s future. The FTA’s Innovation program is an important component of preparing local youth for the world of transportation industry. TWU Local 100 stands in support of building a well-educated workforce that comes from the communities which are served by the New York City transit system. This program supports and guides young people in a valuable way by showing them the length and breadth of the transit system and preparing them for a future in this industry.” Representative Jose E. Serrano (Bronx) said: “By supporting a highly-skilled transit workforce, we are building ladders of opportunity for Bronx residents to move into the middle class and maintain the critical skills needed for an efficient public transportation system. This investment is critical both to the Bronx and to New York City’s workforce preparedness and competitiveness in the 21st Century.” Representative Joe Crowley (Bronx/Queens) said: “This grant is an investment in the future of New York’s workforce and in the future of our transit system.” “These federal funds will help provide the training, skills development, and other educational opportunities BDCA graduates need to gain entry into well-paying careers in the transportation industry.” In order to meet current and emerging service needs, the MTA determines that it will have to make $105.7 billion in capital investments over the next 20 years. Coupling major capital investments with workforce development will improve job access and job quality, increase system efficiency, enhance customer-oriented service delivery and promote ongoing industry sustainability. (MTA - posted 8/31)

CSX PREPARES FOR TROPICAL STORM ERIKA: CSX Transportation is taking precautions to protect employees, rail traffic and infrastructure as Tropical Storm Erika is currently forecast by multiple weather agencies to move toward Florida, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the southeast Atlantic coastline of the U.S.  The storm is not expected to have a significant impact on CSX operations at this time, but its path and intensity are being closely monitored.  (CSX - posted 8/28)

AMTRAK GUEST REWARDS PROGRAM IMPROVEMENTS TO DEBUT IN JANUARY 2016 : Amtrak passengers will have more options to earn and redeem points under an extensively improved, simplified Amtrak Guest Rewards program that launches in January 2016. “This program takes Amtrak Guest Rewards to the next level with improved earnings potential and expanded, simplified redemptions," said Matt Hardison, Amtrak’s executive vice president of marketing and sales. “We are confident this program combines what passengers want most – the ability to grow points earnings rapidly with the freedom to use those points in the way that best fits their individual travel needs.” Improvements in the updated Amtrak Guest Rewards program include:
  • No more blackout dates and Acela® time-of-day travel restrictions;
  • Bonus points for Acela® and Business class travel;
  • Points that never expire with any qualifying account activity within 36 months;
  • A simplified redemption structure for free Amtrak travel based on ticket price instead of zones or routes—as low as 800 points per trip;
  • Redemption opportunities for multi-ride tickets and monthly passes;
  • Ability to book, modify, and cancel reward tickets themselves via Amtrak self-service channels;
  • A “cash-plus-points” option that provides more flexibility.
Amtrak Guest Rewards has also launched a helpful points estimator tool, which shows customers exactly how many points they will earn for their travel or how many points they will need to redeem for an Amtrak trip. (Amtrak, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/28)

CANADA'S RAILWAY LAUNCH FRENCH VERSION OF THEIR POPULAR ASKRAILTM APP: Canada's railways unveiled a French version of their AskRailTM app today, now providing emergency responders with real-time information about a train's railcar contents in both official languages. Through AskRail's mobile interface, developed by the Association of American Railroads and its members, including CN and CP, emergency responders across North America are able to see the contents of a railcar through a simple search, view railway emergency contact information, and reference resources to support incident response. "We know that access to this information can help emergency responders at the outset of an incident to make informed decisions about how to respond to a rail emergency," said Michael Bourque, President and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada. "Providing this application in both official languages is just one more way that Canada's railways are working with communities across the country on emergency response training and preparation." Since the English version of the app was launched back in May, emergency responders ? the only parties eligible to use the mobile application ? have signed up to use AskRail in 255 Canadian municipalities. In total, more than 1,700 emergency responders are using the app across North America. Canada's railways must have comprehensive Emergency Response Plans in place for all dangerous goods, to ensure an immediate and comprehensive response in the event of an incident. AskRail would supplement railway procedures to promptly provide first responders with information about the materials carried on the affected train (information that is carried in the locomotive cab) in the event of an emergency. Emergency responders wishing to access English or French versions of the AskRail app should contact CN at askrail@cn.ca or CP at community_connect@cpr.ca, depending on which railway is operating in their community. More information about the AskRail app is available at www.askrail.us (AAR - posted 8/28)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCE DOUBLE TRACK MILESTONE TOWARD RONKONKOMA BRANCH SERVICE: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that MTA Long Island Rail Road has reached an important milestone to improve service on the busy Ronkonkoma Branch. Workers began installing the first sections of rail on the $388 million Double Track Project, which will build a second track over an 18-mile stretch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma stations. "Today, we take action to help alleviate congestion on one of the Long Island Rail Road's busiest lines and improve the commute for the tens of thousands of Long Islanders who depend on it,” Governor Cuomo said. “After decades of talk, I'm proud to see the Double Track project become a reality." “The Double Track Project is the key to improving service reliability and on-time performance on one of the LIRR’s busiest branches by allowing us to increase service during off-peak and weekend periods. The MTA is investing billions of dollars in this and other LIRR infrastructure improvements and using an innovative design-build process that gets the job done faster. This commitment is sure to pay dividends by making Long Island more competitive and more convenient long into the future,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. Ridership on the LIRR’s Ronkonkoma Branch is over 48,000 each weekday and has doubled over the last 25 years, growing in popularity since the line was electrified in 1988. With just one track along most of the 18-mile route between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the LIRR can operate a limited number of trains and lacks operational flexibility in the event of a disruption. If one train becomes disabled, all other trains (east and west) have no way around the problem. Construction of an uninterrupted second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma has been part of the LIRR’s vision for decades. With design of the full project moving ahead, the first phase of construction got underway last year with workers clearing the path for four miles of new track between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip. The budget for the project design and this first section of track is $138 million, funded in the MTA’s 2010-2014 Capital Program. Phase 2 of the Double Track Project will extend the second track another 12.6 miles to Farmingdale, a goal the LIRR hopes to reach by 2019. The second phase’s $250 million cost is included in the MTA’s proposed 2015 – 2019 Capital Program. “The four-mile stretch between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip is the first leg of the Double Track Project that will ultimately bring half-hourly, off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch, improve service reliability and support economic growth by constructing a second track 18 miles to Farmingdale. When complete, east and westbound trains will operate simultaneously between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. This will mean better reverse peak service to help spur the growth of employment centers on Long Island,” said LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski. Nowakowski was joined this morning by local elected officials, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and State Sens. Phil Boyle and Thomas Croci, and Long Island business and labor leaders for the ceremonial placement of the first section of rail near the Pond Road railroad crossing in Ronkonkoma. Funding for the second phase of the Double Track Project is included in the MTA’s proposed 2015 - 2019 Capital Program. “I applaud Governor Cuomo and the Long Island Rail Road’s extensive and proactive efforts to add a second a track on the Ronkonkoma line. Not only will service be enhanced and more convenient for our residents, but this project is an important step toward realizing the county’s Innovation Zone vision, which will connect our world-class assets and downtowns together – such MacArthur Airport and the Ronkonkoma Hub – through transit-oriented development in order to build a better quality of life for our residents. In order to attract the best and brightest professionals, we must create an innovation economy and a world-class transportation hub. Double Track is an important step to achieve this goal,” Suffolk County Executive Bellone said. “Anytime we can increase reliability, productivity and efficiency for our commuting public it is a step in the right direction. Kudos to the MTA and LIRR for taking this innovative and economically savvy step to increase rail service in this, the busiest hub of the LIRR,” Senator Phil Boyle said. “This is a momentous occasion for Long Islanders and I am particularly appreciative the LIRR decided to hold this event at the Pond Road crossing because the community, Town of Islip and myself have been especially supportive of the LIRR elevating this crossing and we are pleased to hear that LIRR is considering this project as they begin an overall evaluation of all of their grade crossings. This project, as well as the Double Track Project, serves the interests of our residents well and we thank the LIRR for their support and hard work,” Senator Thomas Croci said. “Today, as the first section of the second, long-awaited track is laid down, we celebrate a great milestone for the Ronkonkoma Branch of the Long Island Rail Road,” said Assemblyman Michael Montesano. “This additional track has been desperately needed for many years in order to enhance service for all travelers, from Ronkonkoma to Farmingdale. I have proudly supported the Double Track Project since its early introduction and am thrilled to see it through its fruition.” Assemblyman Joseph Saladino said, "For the commuters of Long Island all upgrades and investments in our transportation system are extremely important. I appreciate the fact that the governor has recognized this and continues to help us push for the investments in our trains, railway stations and roads that will enhance the essential services Long Islanders deserve." Kevin Law, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Long Island Association, said, “The Long Island Association strongly supports the LIRR’s Double Track Project and applauds Governor Cuomo’s efforts to ensure that the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program is sufficiently funded to see the Double Track effort through to conclusion. Completing Double Track is crucial to the economic future of our region. Not only can we look forward to service improvements, but the second track is also key to the future development along the branch, including the construction of a new train station near Republic Airport in Farmingdale to serve the busy Route 110 business corridor and to spur interest in future transit oriented development there.” On any given day, between 50 and 75 construction workers are laboring on the Double Track Project. By the time the job is done, the LIRR estimates Double Track will have injected close to $100 million into the Long Island economy and created as many as 1,000 new jobs. Double Track is one of seven major LIRR construction projects subject to an innovative Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The unions pitched in by signing an agreement that will result in an estimated direct labor savings of over $6 million or about 11% of the total labor cost of these capital projects. In addition to reducing costs, the pact provides opportunities for minorities and women to enter the trade union apprentice program and includes non-discrimination provisions in union hiring hall and job placement practices. The LIRR selected the international design and engineering firms STV and AECOM to help plan and carry out the Double Track Project. AECOM and New York based-STV are leaders in the rail transportation industry. The contractors who have been preparing the new right of way for track installation and new retaining walls are Queens-based Skanska USA Civil, a leading civil engineering and infrastructure contractor, which teamed with Farmingdale-based Posillico, Inc. Posillico has served Long Island and the tri-state area since 1946 (MTA - posted 8/27)

765 TRIPS TO TUNKANNOCK VIADUCT HAVE BEEN CANCELLED: Trains Magazine's website Trains.com reports that the Nickel Plate 765 excurions between Scranton and Tunkhannock Viaduct, scheduled for September 12 and 13, have been cancelled. Trains.com noted that the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Chapter NRHS issued a statement calling out host railroad Canadian Pacific for imposing "insurmountable insurance obstacles" on the group and the trips. Trains.com noted that "The cancellation is because the closing date for the purchase of this line by NS got pushed back a few months. The L&WV Chapter had anticipated that these trains would run as part of Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam Program," Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society Operations Manager Rich Melvin says. "However, since the closing date for the sale of this line from CP to NS got moved back several months, the deal was not closed in time to do this. The chapter will be issuing refunds to all ticket holders." (Trains.com - posted 8/26)

SINGER MEGHAN LINSEY WILL BE THE CELEBRITY GUEST ON THE CSX SANTA TRAIN: Rising pop star and "The Voice" Season 8 runner-up Meghan Linsey will be the celebrity guest on the Santa Train when it makes its 73rd journey to bring gifts to Appalachian families on Saturday, Nov. 21.  She will accompany Santa and event sponsors CSX,  Dignity U Wear, Food City and the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce on the 110-mile trek. Fans can use the hashtag #santatrain15 to engage in the Santa Train conversation on social media. "I'm honored to be the celebrity guest on this year's Santa Train," Linsey said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to give back and be a part of something that has become a holiday tradition for many families, and I am looking forward to being a part of it."  2015 has been a big year for Linsey, who released her EP titled "Believer" in July. The six-song EP highlights her crossover from country music to pop and debuted at No. 6 on the iTunes pop chart.  "We are so glad to have Meghan Linsey join us on this year's Santa Train," said Tori Kaplan, assistant vice president, corporate social responsibility for CSX. "We are thankful for the support we receive each year from our celebrity guests. It's humbling to see artists add to the holiday cheer the Santa Train brings to the region." Prior to her appearance on "The Voice," Linsey was half of the country duo Steel Magnolia, which dominated top charts in 2009. Linsey has had three Top 5 songs on the iTunes all-genre chart, including "Change My Mind," which she performed as an original song on "The Voice" finale.  The Santa Train makes 14 stops in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee and delivers toys, food and winter clothing to hundreds of children and families along the way. (CSX - posted 8/26)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 22, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Aug. 22, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 567,943 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Aug. 22, 2015 were 288,971 carloads, down 3.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,972 containers and trailers, up 5 percent compared to 2014. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 16.4 percent to 10,204 carloads; farm products, up 7.1 percent to 16,670 carloads and motor vehicles and parts, up 4.8 percent to 18,077 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 15.1 percent to 22,970 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.1 percent to 14,420 carloads; and coal, down 6.4 percent to 107,273 carloads and. For the first 33 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,172,144 carloads, down 4.3 percent from the same point last year; and 8,766,756 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 33 weeks of 2015 was 17,938,900 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Aug. 22, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 380,676 carloads, down 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 354,498 intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 735,174 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 33 weeks of 2015 was 23,391,005 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 75,307 carloads for the week, down 4.7 percent, and 63,884 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 33 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,558,182 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,398 carloads for the week, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year, 11,642 intermodal units, down 0.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 33 weeks of 2015 was 893,923 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/26)

NJ TRANSIT TO RECEIVE NEXT AWARD OF FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF FUNDING: The Christie Administration announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will award NJ TRANSIT $71,419,023 in Sandy recovery funds to support important repair and resiliency projects. “With this funding, we will be making critical investments to protect against future weather events and ensure a more resilient commuter rail system for our residents,” said Governor Christie. This latest award of FTA funds will be used to support important recovery and resilience projects currently underway, including the elevation of key substations in Hoboken, Kearny, and Bay Head to reduce the impact of future storms and flooding. These substations provide electric power for the trains and other critical facilities, including Hoboken terminal. To date, the FTA has allocated NJ TRANSIT a total of $1.724 billion of Public Transportation Emergency Relief Funds in response to Superstorm Sandy. The FTA funds allocated to date have supported critical recovery and resilience projects including:
  • · Raritan River Drawbridge Replacement
  • · Hoboken Long Slip Flood Projection
  • · Train Storage And Service Restoration Project
  • · Train Control & Communication Resiliency Project
“The investments we are making in our Sandy recovery and restoration projects will pay dividends to our riders far into the future,” New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jamie Fox said. NJ TRANSIT Executive Director, Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim said, “Each of these projects helps ensure the resiliency of our operations, equipment, and assets.” (NJ Transit - posted 8/25)

MTA ANNOUNCES RECEIPT OF $20.8 MILLION FEDERAL GRANT TO MAKE METRO-NORTH RAILROAD'S HUDSON LINE RESILIENT AGAINST FUTURE STORM SURGES: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and MTA Metro-North Railroad announced that Metro-North has received a federal grant of $20.8 million to harden Metro-North’s Hudson Line against future storm surge flooding events of the type experienced during Superstorm Sandy. The grant will be used to design and build 92 elevated steel equipment platforms along 30 miles of track from the South Bronx to Croton-Harmon, in Westchester County, as well as provide for the design and construction of perimeter protection, waterproofing, hardening of substations and train yard buildings, and installation of video and electronic monitoring of Metro-North facilities and infrastructure. The grant will be matched by $6.9 million in MTA funds. More than 50 percent of the Hudson Line right-of-way was completely submerged during Superstorm Sandy, and power, communications and signal systems that were flooded by salt water were significantly damaged. The storm surge damaged or destroyed fiber optic cables, signal system components such as circuit boards, racks, and relays, and communication infrastructure such as radio base stations. Metro-North intends to place its communications, power and signal electrical components on raised steel platforms in an effort to prevent damage from corrosive salt water in the event of another storm surge along the Hudson Line in the next 50 years. The equipment to be raised includes third rail switches, cases for snow melters, signal power transformers and communications systems pedestals. “Our trains cannot run without live signals, third rail power, and communications systems,” said Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti. “We are extremely grateful for this critical systems grant, which will significantly reduce the likelihood that Metro-North could again experience the magnitude of damage to our electrical infrastructure that we faced after Sandy. This grant will enable us to protect our equipment from future storms.” The grant was awarded through a competitive application process by the Federal Transit Administration through Section 5324 of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, enacted by Congress in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Members of New York’s Congressional Delegation offered these comments. “Superstorm Sandy walloped our tracks, electrical systems, rail equipment and more and this federal funding will help make our transit system more resilient without leaving local commuters on the hook for these expenses,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer. “This massive federal investment means that Hudson River line riders can rest assured that their rail system will be stronger and more resilient in the event of a future storm.” “This critical federal funding will help provide much needed resources to facilitate upgrades on the Hudson Line,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Superstorm Sandy devastated our communities and these funds will help rebuild our transportation infrastructure even stronger and more resilient so that the New Yorkers who rely on Metro North to get to work every day can have the peace of mind knowing we are better prepared for when the next storm hits.” “I lead the fight to secure $60 billion in federal funds to recover from Sandy, and I’m pleased that this grant will help Metro-North’s Hudson Line withstand severe weather events in the future,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey. “Upgrading and protecting our transportation infrastructure will enhance overall safety and improve recovery times. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue working with local officials to ensure New York’s resiliency needs are met.” “Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call for the entire Lower Hudson Valley that more needs to be done to strengthen our transportation infrastructure against the threat of powerful storms,” said Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The Metro-North Hudson Line runs the entire western border of my district, and thousands of my constituents, from Hastings to Yonkers to Spuyten Duyvil, utilize that line every day to travel to and from work. The economic success of the entire region relies on our ability to ensure a highly functional and efficient transportation network. Our railways are an incredibly important facet of that. This $20 million federal grant is critical for Metro North to protect the Hudson Line from storm surges and flooding, and I am pleased that the FTA has acted to address this important need.” (MTA - posted 8/25)

COMPLETION OF $2.1 MILLION PROJECT TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF METRO-NORTH RAILROAD: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the New York Power Authority has finished $2.1 million in energy efficiency upgrades at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Metro-North Railroad North White Plains Train Yard. This energy saving project, completed under the Governor's BuildSmart NY program, will save New York State more than $328,000 in energy costs and remove approximately 1,280 tons of greenhouse gases annually. "These upgrades will make this facility greener, more energy efficient, and will reduce its energy bill, saving the MTA and ultimately riders and taxpayers money," said Governor Cuomo. "It is vital that we all take steps to help sustain the planet and through initiatives like BuildSmart NY, this administration will continue to support commonsense projects that save taxpayer dollars and make sense for the environment." The project, which began last fall, instituted a number of comprehensive energy-saving and efficiency improvements at four major buildings throughout the train yard. These improvements included the replacement of several air-handling systems, a new boiler, electric smart meters and a building energy monitoring and management system. This system will give the MTA a greater ability to track and curtail its energy use, as well as reduce operation and maintenance costs at the facility. The New York Power Authority oversaw the project from an initial energy audit through its completion and provided upfront financing. The energy savings resulting from the project will offset the MTA's payments back to the New York Power Authority. New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said, “MTA is one of the Power Authority’s most valued partners, teaming with us on numerous projects over the years to help reduce the state’s carbon footprint while also curbing energy costs. Hundreds of projects just like this one in North White Plains are happening all over the state as part of NYPA’s effort to carry out the Governor’s BuildSmart NY initiative.” MTA Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti said, “We are delighted that the New York Power Authority is committed to helping us reduce our energy use and operating costs. Everyone knows that taking the train is the environmentally friendly way to travel, and we are always striving to make that more true than ever.” The New York Power Authority is actively partnering with MTA to improve energy efficiency and is currently moving forward with other efforts across multiple MTA facilities. Those energy-efficiency upgrades, when completed, will save more than 50,000 megawatt hours of electricity and nearly 103,000 gallons of fuel a year and eliminate almost 31,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. (One megawatt hour is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by about 330 homes during an hour.) Over the years, the New York Power Authority and MTA have partnered to complete 140 energy efficiency and clean energy projects, which have saved 138,000 megawatt hours of electricity, nearly 123,000 gallons of fuel a year and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 90,000 tons annually. Launched in 2012, BuildSmart NY calls for an increase in energy efficiency in state government buildings by 20 percent by 2020. The initiative will save millions of dollars for taxpayers and create thousands of jobs while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To date, New Yorkers have saved tens of millions of dollars in utility costs under Build Smart NY. (MTA - posted 8/24)

SEPTA WEST TRENTON PASSENGER SERVICE TO SEPARATE FROM CSX FREIGHT OPERATIONS: Due to the activation of a new signal system and the physical separation of CSX freight and SEPTA passenger operations, shuttle buses will replace all train service on Monday, August 24, 2015 between Woodbourne and West Trenton Stations on the Authority's West Trenton Regional Rail Line. The West Trenton Separation Project clears the way for SEPTA to fully implement Positive Train Control (PTC), the next generation of signal safety equipment that works to further reduce the chance of human error along the line. Separation of the six-mile section of track shared by SEPTA and CSX Transportation between the Authority's Woodbourne and West Trenton stations will also help to alleviate rush hour train congestion in this area. Both SEPTA and CSX have experienced sustained growth along this section of track. SEPTA West Trenton ridership has increased by more than 60 percent over the last decade. CSX Transportation operates some 25 trains through the area daily, moving goods throughout the Greater Philadelphia region linking into the freight company's national north-south network. Passengers can visit www.septa.org for PTC project updates. Passengers traveling inbound to Center City will board shuttle buses at West Trenton and Yardley Stations before transferring to trains at Woodbourne Station to complete their commutes. Trains traveling outbound towards West Trenton will travel as far as Woodbourne Station where passengers will need to transfer to shuttle buses to complete their trips. All shuttle bus and train departure/arrival times will differ from regularly scheduled times and some trains will terminate at Neshaminy Falls Station. Due to the supplemental schedule, customers should anticipate some delays and add additional time onto their commutes as necessary. (SEPTA - posted 8/24)

EXTRA TRAINS, ADDITIONAL SEATS ON AMTRAK FOR VISIT OF POPE FRANCIS TO UNITED STATES Amtrak is taking steps to prepare for an influx of rail passengers on the Northeast Corridor during Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September and will operate extra trains with added capacity to meet the anticipated demand. With papal events scheduled in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is uniquely suited to carry passengers to and from the various locations. With more than a million people expected to attend an outdoor Mass and other events associated with the World Meeting of Families on September 26 and 27, the attached schedule includes additional frequencies and special stops for that weekend. As Philadelphia 30th Street Station is expected to be a focal point for regional transportation, passengers should expect large crowds and some non-typical station procedures. While plans are subject to change, outlined below is a summary of Amtrak’s preparations for the Pope’s visit.
  • Operations: With some minor exceptions, operations in and around New York and Washington will be normal, although passengers should expect large crowds during the Pope’s scheduled events. Amtrak service will operate on a normal weekday schedule Monday, September 21 through Friday, September 25, with extra coaches added to some trains to accommodate additional demand. Starting Friday, September 25 through Monday, September 28, reservations will be required on all Acela Express, Northeast Regional and Keystone Service trains. As outlined in the attached timetable, Amtrak will operate Philadelphia-centric “Event Extra” service on Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27, in some cases utilizing equipment from our commuter partners. To better ensure efficient train movements for all users of the NEC, Amtrak will suspend maintenance activities, pre-position rescue equipment to quickly respond to any disabled trains, and continuously share real-time dispatching information with our regional transit agency partners.
  • 30th Street Station: To ensure public safety and aid in crowd control, some special procedures will be implemented at Philadelphia 30th Street Station during the weekend of the papal visit. In addition to Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains, SEPTA service to/from Levittown, Marcus Hook, Wilmington, Croydon and Cornwells Heights, will operate from the lower-level/main concourse. Specific boarding procedures and recommended points of entry will be announced at a later date. Additional station personnel and ambassadors will be on hand to assist, but passengers should expect long lines and crowded conditions. Taxi service and rental cars will not be available to/from 30th Street Station Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27. Station restrooms will be closed to the public but facilities will be available outside. Food court eateries will be open and accessible from the Market Street entrance.
Tickets for all Amtrak trains are available now at Amtrak.com. Passengers are advised to book as early as possible to ensure availability. Additional announcements with more detailed information will be made in the weeks to come and posted to our custom web page, amtrak.com/papalvisit , which will be updated regularly (Amtrak - posted 8/21)

NEW YORK NEW JERSEY RAIL'S NEW LOCOMOTIVES: New York New Jersey Rail, LLC (NYNJR), a short-line railroad wholly-owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has recently received three new diesel-electric freight switching locomotives from Knoxville Locomotive Works (KLW). Unit design, engineering and production originated from KLW’s manufacturing facilities in Knoxville, Tennessee. The contract, valued at $5.25 million, marks the first collaboration between the Port Authority and KLW. The KLW SE Series eco-friendly-ultra low emitting switchers are operating at NYNJR terminals in Jersey City, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York as well as positioning railcars for cross harbor freight operations. The locomotives will not only reduce existing emissions levels by more than 90%, they will also help NYNJR save 60%+ in fuel costs while significantly reducing engine noise levels. “For Knoxville Locomotive Works, this venture underscores our long-term commitment to deliver advanced technology locomotive power to the North American and International Rail markets,” said Pete Claussen, chairman of KLW. “It is gratifying we can do this with a localized Tennessee work force and with a predominance of U.S. manufactured assemblies and components.” The locomotives are equipped with state-of-the-art drive train systems patented by KLW and MTU. Each single engine 1050HP diesel-electric unit is designed to reduce locomotive emissions and to mitigate fuel waste. These benefits are achieved without compromising reliability performance or power degradation through the deployment of enhanced electronic control systems and improved tractive effort capabilities. “Our customers have consistently told us that two of the most significant challenges they currently face are increasingly stringent emissions standards and increasing fuel costs,” said Scott Woodruff, director of industrial sales, MTU America Inc. “Knoxville Locomotive Works has been on the leading edge of designing the best locomotive solutions to meet those challenges, and MTU is committed to helping locomotive builders like KLW deliver the cleanest, most efficient new products to their customers.” (Knoxville Locomotive Works - posted 8/21)

AMTRAK VERMONTER SERVICE TO HOLYOKE TO BEGIN ON AUGUST 27TH: Amtrak announced today that Vermonter service to the Knowledge Corridor will expand to include a stop in Holyoke, Mass. starting on August 27, 2015. Tickets are now available for purchase at Amtrak.com and all other booking channels. Service to Northampton and Greenfield began in December 2014. The restoration of passenger rail service to the Knowledge Corridor has been a goal of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which has been leading the effort to improve the infrastructure and shorten trip times within the Commonwealth. Funding for the project was provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Vermonter operates daily between Washington and St. Albans, Vt., with service to Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Conn., Springfield, Mass. and Essex Junction, Vt., and other intermediate stops. In Fiscal Year 2014, ridership on this route increased 6.6 percent, providing service to more than 89,000 passengers. Passengers may book travel via amtrak.com , mobile apps, or by calling 800-USA-RAIL for any station along the route between Washington and St. Albans, Vt. (Amtrak - posted 8/19)

SEPTA GENERAL MANAGER JOSEPH M CASEY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey, who has led the Authority since 2008, today announced his retirement. After a total of 34 years of distinguished service in a number of roles, Mr. Casey will retire as general manager on September 30, 2015. "It has been a privilege to lead this organization, and I thank the SEPTA Board for the opportunity," Mr. Casey said. "I also want to thank my staff for their efforts over the years, as well as the entire SEPTA organization for their dedication to serve the citizens of this region." Mr. Casey began his career in transportation at Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) before joining SEPTA in 1982. Prior to being appointed General Manager, Mr. Casey served for six years as the Authority's Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer and held senior management positions in Internal Audit and Finance. During his tenure as SEPTA Senior Budget Director and Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Casey was successful in establishing balanced operating budgets, streamlining expenses and reducing costs, and containing overall budget growth even in the face of skyrocketing healthcare and fuel costs. "Joe has led SEPTA through challenging times, while consistently improving SEPTA's performance, customer service and overall public perception," said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. "Pat" Deon. "His leadership and expertise have been keys to moving SEPTA forward." After being named General Manager, Mr. Casey created a dedicated Customer Service and Advocacy Division and focused SEPTA on the "Four Cs" - Cleanliness, Convenience, Courtesy and Communication. As a regional business, SEPTA has taken a leadership role adopting a comprehensive Sustainability program focusing on initiatives ranging from building an eco-fleet, developing alternative energy generation and storage, to station and facility recycling. In recognition of these efforts, the Authority is the proud recipient of the 2012 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Outstanding Public Transportation System Award and the 2012 APTA Gold Sustainability Recognition. Thanks in large part to Mr. Casey's key role as a tireless advocate for finding a dedicated, long-term funding source to address SEPTA's critical infrastructure improvements, Act 89, which provides new resources for transportation in Pennsylvania, went into effect in January 2014. "During my time as General Manager, I committed our organization to improve the customer experience - and I can say with confidence that these efforts will only grow stronger moving forward," Casey said. "With dedicated funding for capital improvements, resulting from state Act 89, we will have resources to further enhance the riding experience for our customers, improve reliability and preserve the transit system for future generations." A lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Mr. Casey is a Certified Public Accountant, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting from Drexel University and attended Widener University for advanced business courses. (SEPTA - posted 8/19)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 15, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Aug. 15, 2015. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 564,502 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Aug. 19, 2015 were 288,059 carloads, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,443 containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent compared to 2014. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 16.8 percent to 9,949 carloads; grain, up 9.6 percent to 19,708 carloads and motor vehicles and parts, up 3.2 percent to 17,940 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: metallic ores and metals, down 15.4 percent to 23,787 carloads; coal, down 10.4 percent to 106,339 carloads and petroleum and petroleum products, down 10.3 percent to 14,034 carloads. For the first 32 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,883,173 carloads, down 4.3 percent from the same point last year; and 8,487,784 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 32 weeks of 2015 was 17,370,957 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.1 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Aug. 15, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 378,436 carloads, down 5.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 352,114 intermodal units, up 2.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 730,550 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 32 weeks of 2015 was 22,655,831 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 73,297 carloads for the week, down 10.2 percent, and 64,361 intermodal units, up 3.6 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 32 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,418,991 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,080 carloads for the week, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week last year, 11,310 intermodal units, down 3.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 32 weeks of 2015 was 865,883 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 8/19)

MBTA, KEOLIS ANNOUNCE SERVICE IMPROVEMENT PLAN: Fiscal and Management Control Board announced it has endorsed the MBTA's plan to improve service for tens of thousands of Commuter Rail passengers over the course of the next five months. Under an agreement between the MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services, the areas of focus include on-time performance (OTP), staffing, operations, equipment maintenance, customer service, fare collection, and winter weather resiliency plans. Following last year's unprecedented winter, the five-month agreement instills a sense of urgency into the strategy for service improvements to be made in the short term. "We can, and will do better," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "I'm pleased that Keolis has agreed in writing to work harder to achieve our shared goal of providing the level of service Commuter Rail customers expect and deserve." Following the significant service disruptions in February and March of this year, a lessons-learned analysis identified areas for improvements to make the Commuter Rail system more reliable and resilient. By incorporating the findings of that analysis into this five-month agreement, the MBTA and Keolis have agreed to measure improvements in service against an overall adjusted OTP goal of 92 percent, with no individual line below 90 percent. A working group will develop targets for peak period trains. The OTP goals and provisions of the Service Improvement Plan supplement but do not supersede the Keolis contract. Additional provisions of the agreement include:
  • Committing to ensuring that 65 locomotives are available for service each weekday
  • Providing the necessary coach seating capacity required under the contract
  • The development of a plan to enhance fare collection
  • A complete review of the system schedule to develop revisions that meet customer demand and optimize on-time performance
  • Periodic trainings and workforce development programs for Commuter Rail staff
  • And a new Life Cycle Maintenance Plan for early detection of future maintenance needs.
"Through this agreement, we are committing to the MBTA and our customers that we will further improve our service," said Keolis General Manager Gerald C. Francis. "More importantly, this agreement serves as a road map for how we are going to deliver this improved service and rebuild the confidence and trust of our passengers by delivering on this commitment."   (MBTA - posted 8/18)

16th ANNUAL RIVERHEAD RAILROAD FESTIVAL: Riverhead, New York, August 14, 2015. The Board of Trustees of the Railroad Museum of Long Island (RMLI) is pleased to announce our sixteenth annual Riverhead Railroad Festival, “Celebrating our 25th Anniversary”. It will be held on the Museum grounds at 416 Griffing Avenue, Riverhead, NY, across from Riverhead’s LIRR Station from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday, August 29th and Sunday, August 30th, 2015.   Features this year includes the LIRR GP-38 Simulator, where you can simulate operation of a train from Riverhead to Greenport; Visit Railroad Related Vendors; Visit the Historic LIONEL Toy Train Layout; See our many operating toy train layouts in “G,” “O,” “HO,” “N,” and “Z” scales; Listen to Traditional Railroad Music by “Sampawams Creek,” 12 noon to 3 PM each day; Tour through our historic LIRR M-1 cars, the P-72 passenger car, and our 1963 Caboose; See our Historic 1932 Double Decker railcar and locomotives; Ride the 1964 ~ 1965 “LIRR Pavilion World’s Fair Train; Visit railroad preservation groups; View working machines of the “Long Island Antique Power Association”; and Visit the Museum Gift Shop. There will also be refreshments available from “Maple Tree Gourmet Caterers”.   ONCE EACH DAY at 11:20 am, Ride the LIRR “Scoot” and visit our Museum in Greenport then return to Riverhead by 2:00 PM. . LIRR “Scoot” tickets are purchased separately onboard the train from the LIRR Conductor (There is no surcharge for purchasing tickets onboard at Riverhead or Greenport).   Admission to the Riverhead Railroad Festival allows you to visit both sites on the same day of ticket purchase.       For additional information, contact the Riverhead Railroad Festival event coordinator, Mr. Donald Fisher at e-mail or the Riverhead Museum Site at 631-727-7920.     (RMLI - posted 8/17)

GOVERNOR WOLF RELEASES OIL TRAIN SAFETY REPORT Governor Tom Wolf today released a report written by Dr. Allan Zarembski focused on the safety of Pennsylvanians and protecting people from the potential of Bakken crude oil train derailments. In the report, Assessment of Crude by Rail Safety Issues in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Dr. Zarembski presents 27 recommendations. “Every week, roughly sixty to seventy trains carrying crude oil travel through Pennsylvania destined for Philadelphia or another East Coast refinery, and I have expressed grave concern regarding the transportation of this oil and have taken several steps to prevent potential oil train derailments,” said Governor Wolf. “Protecting Pennsylvanians is my top priority and Dr. Zarembski’s report is important in helping my administration take the necessary steps. I will also continue to work with CSX and Norfolk Southern, both of which have demonstrated concern for rail safety and an interest in working with my administration. I would also like to thank Dr. Zarembski for his hard work in writing this report and for producing numerous recommendations that will help my administration prepare.” Dr. Zarembski, who was hired by the governor in late-April and started in mid-May, is an internationally recognized expert in the area of railway track and structures, vehicle-track dynamics, failure and risk analysis, safety, railway operations, and maintenance. In May, Governor Wolf sent a letter to oil train companies, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway, urging them to adopt improved safety initiatives for all trains with crude-by-rail cars operating in Pennsylvania and to fully and expeditiously comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announced Final Rule. In February, Governor Wolf sent a letter to President Obama urging expedited federal regulatory action in several areas to better ensure oil train safety. And in his first full week in office, the governor conducted an emergency table-top planning exercise to model the state’s response in the event of a crude oil train derailment in an urban area. Governor Wolf has personally met with executives from Norfolk Southern and CSX Corporation to discuss safety measures that could lower the risk of derailments. Governor Wolf has also directed the Pennsylvania Office of the Fire Commissioner to examine how an oil train fire could be extinguished to protect public safety, and the Wolf Administration has undertaken a review of the frequency and the procedures associated with rail infrastructure inspections by federal and state inspectors. Assessment of Crude by Rail (CBR) Safety Issues in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Executive Summary: As the volume of Crude By Rail (CBR) shipments have increased over the past several years, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has become increasingly concerned about the risks of a CBR incident occurring on a rail line that goes through populated areas within the state. This is particularly important for the Commonwealth since large volumes of CBR are shipped through the state by two major Class 1 railroads, Norfolk Southern (NS) and CSX Transportation (CSX). While the recent actions taken by the railroad industry and the Department of Transportation have been of great value, there is still concern about the level of risk present on these rail lines. Because of the concern about the level of risk present on these rail lines, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania asked the University of Delaware to look at the current level of risk and advise as to how to reduce the risk of a CBR incident in the Commonwealth. This report presents the results of this assessment. This assessment addresses three major areas of CBR safety in the Commonwealth:
  • Derailment Risk
  • Tank Car Breach/Rupture Risk
  • Regulatory Oversight
This assessment also addresses the effect of proposed new Department of Transportation and industry standards for tank car design and train operations and operating systems to include speed reduction, use of Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) Brakes and Positive Train Control (PTC). For a catastrophic CBR event to take place, several elements are necessary:
  • First a derailment must occur, usually unrelated to the CBR equipment itself
  • Second a breach or rupture of the tank car shell must occur and a release of the crude take place.
  • Third, conditions must be present and the volatility of the commodity must be such as to ignite or explode after the rupture of the tank car.
In the area of Derailment Risk, this assessment looked at the distribution of derailments by major categories (Track, Operations/Human Factors, Equipment, Signals, etc.) and subcategories (e.g. broken rail, wide gauge, etc.) both in the state of Pennsylvania and Nationwide. For those derailment categories that are high risk, i.e. with a significant number of annual occurrences or significant potential for occurrence of major tank car failure, the University of Delaware team identified opportunities for improvement in inspection and/or maintenance practices, based on state of the art industry practice as well as specific practices of railroads operating CBR trains in the State of Pennsylvania. In the area of Tank Car Breach/Rupture Risk, the assessment examined the proposed improvements to the tank car such as:
  • Improved head shields
  • Increased tank shell thickness/external jacket
  • Valve Protection (top and bottom valves)
  • Reduction in train speed
In the area of Regulatory Oversight, the assessment reviewed the current safety oversight capabilities and resources of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission as well as those of other neighboring states and identified opportunities for improvement of safety and Emergence Response. The report noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has primary responsibility for rail safety and inspection under a 1970 federal law which preempted rail safety regulation. Recommendations A total of 27 recommendations are presented in this report; divided into primary (18) and secondary (9) categories. Primary categories are those expected to have direct safety results and which can be implemented by the railroads directly working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or by the Commonwealth itself. Secondary categories include activities which are more difficult to implement or which may require action by a party other than the railroad or Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Primary Recommendations Railroad
  • 1. It is recommended that the routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania be tested at a rate such that the service defect rate is maintained at 0.04 to 0.06 service failures/mile/year. In all cases, rail on these routes should be tested no less than three times a year.
  • 2. It is recommended that the routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania be tested by a railroad owned Track Geometry Car at a minimum of four times a year.
  • 3. It is recommended that the routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania be tested by a vision based joint bar inspection system at least once per year, this test to be in lieu of one of the required on-foot inspections, as permitted by FRA.
  • 4. It is recommended that NS and CSX adopt the BNSF Railway voluntary speed reduction to 35 mph for crude oil trains through cities with a population greater than 100,000 people
  • 5. It is recommended that the railroad have sufficient Wheel Impact Load Detector (WILD) units in place to monitor all loaded oil train cars along their entire route within Pennsylvania, such that any track location on an oil train route within the state should have a WILD unit no more than 200 miles preceding (in the loaded direction) that location .
  • a. If a WILD measurement exceeds 120 Kips, the train should be safely stopped, the wheel inspected, and then if condition of the wheel allows, the train proceed at a reduced speed of 30 mph until the alerting car can set out at an appropriate location until repairs are made. b. If the WILD measurement is greater than 90 Kips, the car should be flagged and the identified wheels replaced as soon as possible but no later than 1500 miles of additional travel. 6. It is recommended that the railroads have sufficient Hot Bearing Detector (HBD) units in place as to monitor all loaded oil train cars along their entire route within Pennsylvania, with a maximum spacing of 25 miles between Hot Box detectors. 7. It is recommended that the railroad have at least one Acoustic Bearing Detector unit in place to monitor all loaded oil trains along their entire route within Pennsylvania.
  • 8. It is recommended that those yards and sidings that handle a significant number of CBR cars be inspected by the Railroad inspectors at a level of track tighter than the assigned FRA track class. Thus Yards that are FRA Class 1 should be inspected at a FRA Class 2 level to provide railroads with early warning of potential track conditions that can cause problems.
  • 9. It is recommended that oil trains in Pennsylvania, not equipped with Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) Brakes, use two way end of train devices (TWEOT) or Distributed Power (DP) to improve braking performance.
  • 10. It is recommended that CSX and NS complete their initial route analysis of High-hazard flammable train (HHFT) routes in Pennsylvania as quickly as possible, taking into account proximity to populated areas and safety considerations as outlined by DOT.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • 11. It is recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania designate appropriate state and local officials to work with CSX and NS to provide all needed information and to assist in the route analysis.
  • 12. It is recommended that Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) inspectors, in co-ordination with FRA inspectors, focus on inspection of major CBR routes, to include track, equipment, hazmat, and operating practices. In particular, track inspectors should prioritize main line turnouts and yards and sidings that see a significant number of crude oil cars, to include both major railroads and the refineries themselves.
  • 13. It is recommended that the Pennsylvania PUC and their track inspectors which are part of the PUC’s Transportation Division coordinate with the Federal Railroad Administration and try to schedule the FRA’s T-18 Gage Restraint Measurement System (GRMS) test vehicle to inspect all routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania at least once a year. This test should include both GRMS and conventional track geometry measurements.
  • 14. It is recommended that Pennsylvania PUC fill their existing track inspector vacancy with a qualified inspector with railroad experience. Given the fact that most major refineries are in the eastern part of the state, where SEPTA and Amtrak are located as well, it may be necessary to add a third inspector to the eastern part of the state, pending filling of the existing eastern vacancy.
  • 15. It is recommended that PEMA continue to actively work with both railroads to roll out information sharing technology tools and make these tools available to all emergency responders on CBR routes (PEMA is actively working in this area). 16. It is recommended that PEMA coordinate full scale emergency response exercise involving emergency responders from communities along the key oil train routes.
  • 17. It is recommended that PEMA work with and insure that all communities along the CBR routes have appropriate emergency response plans.
  • 18. It is recommended that PEMA work with NS and CSX to obtain an inventory of emergency response resources along routes over which Crude Oil Trains operate to include locations for the staging of emergency response equipment (PEMA is actively working in this area).
Secondary Recommendations Railroad
  • 19. It is recommended that conventional track geometry car tests on routes over which CBR trains operate in Pennsylvania be supplemented by Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement (ATGM) and/or Vehicle/Track Interaction (VTI) measurement systems.
  • 20. It is recommended that NS and CSX verify that they have sufficient Hot Wheel Detectors on the Oil Train Routes to allow for the identification of overheated wheels on terrain where this can be a cause of wheel failure.
  • 21. It is recommended that the railroad have at least one Truck Defect Detector or equivalent in place to monitor all loaded oil train cars along their entire route within Pennsylvania.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • 22. It is recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania encourage both NS and CSX to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) on Oil Train routes in the Commonwealth as expeditiously as possible, in accordance with government mandated schedules.
  • 23. It is recommended that State of Pennsylvania Track inspectors focus attention on the condition of turnouts on major CBR routes in the state.
  • 24. It is recommended that Pennsylvania state inspectors include yards and sidings that handle a significant number of CBR cars as part of their inspection program. All such inspections to be coordinated with the FRA inspection program.
  • 25. It is recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lend its support to a set of national Minimum Characteristic Standards for all Crude by Rail (CBR) with defined target characteristics.
  • 26. It is recommended that Pennsylvania PUC coordinate with FRA and NS and CSX Bridge Departments to insure that the railroads are maintaining a Bridge Safety Management Program in accordance with 49 CFR 237.
  • 27. It is recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lend its support to increasing the tank car thermal protection standard to 800 minutes for a pool fire.
(State of Pa, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/17)

MTA MARYLAND PLANS TO REPLACE ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE FLEET: The MTA is moving to make the purchase now because Amtrak plans to stop maintaining MARC's electric fleet. The national railroad, which has maintained MARC's electric locomotives since 1983, notified the agency last fall that it would discontinue that work next summer. Amtrak has been maintaining these electric locomotives. However, it has stated to the MTA that it no longer plans to retain spare parts for these locomotives, since Amtrak has removed HHP-8s from service and plans to rid itself of remaining AEM-7s. The MTA has requested permission from the Maryland Board of Public Works to join in with the State of Illinois contract to purchase diesel locomotives from Siemen Corporation. Amtrak told the Maryland agency it cannot keep spare parts for MARC's aging (John Krattinger, Alex Mayes - posted 8/14)

CANADIAN PACIFIC READY FOR UPCOMING CROP-YEAR: Canadian Pacific is well positioned to provide best-in-class service to western Canadian grain shippers during the 2015-2016 crop-year. CP's service offering to grain customers is driven by efficiency and creating velocity in the rail portion of the complex grain supply chain. CP's Dedicated Train Program (DTP), which was introduced last-crop year, provides customers with greater clarity and control of car supply to manage their supply chain. CP anticipates adding more trains to the program this crop year as it responds to greater demand to move grain and grain products from western Canada. In the 2014-2015 crop year, CP moved a record 276,154 carloads (27,849,434 MT) of Canadian grain and grain products from western Canadian origins, up from the previous record crop year of 2013-2014. "CP is moving record amounts of grain from western Canada and approximately 70 percent of our grain operation is served by the DTP. The customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," said John Brooks, CP's Vice-President Sales and Marketing, Bulk. "The DTP is based on the fact that the unit train shippers know their business the best - allowing them to determine origin, destination and to manage the velocity of their supply chain." CP continues to invest in its network to improve efficiency, create velocity and provide the best service possible to customers. In 2015, CP will spend 21 percent of its revenue on capital expenditures, more than any other Class 1 railroad. Canadian rail rates remain among the lowest in the world, having risen just 6 percent since 2000 even as commodity prices have soared by 166 percent. For less than unit train customers, CP's Open Distribution is segmented to better fulfill the shipping needs to these end-markets. Customers who do not qualify for the DTP, or choose not to sign up for the program, can order cars in the Open Distribution program. Open Distribution allows shippers to input orders for four weeks, and as orders are filled, new orders can be placed. "We continue to offer valuable and efficient service to our less than unit train customers via Open Distribution," said Brooks. "This service is informed by on-going and collaborative discussions with shippers and coordination through the Canadian Grain Commission for producer car loaders. We are constantly working to recognize and meet the differing needs of all the customers we serve." These collaborative programs give flexible options to our customers both large and small. "CP's Dedicated Train Program has created efficiencies for Viterra while allowing greater flexibility of train placement to ensure the right grain is moving to export position," said Kyle Jeworski, Viterra's Chief Executive Officer. "The program is a positive step forward in the movement of Canadian grains, and we look forward to continuing to work with CP to support our overall focus on driving supply chain excellence for our farmers and destination customers." CP has stressed and will continue to stress that the complex Canadian grain supply chain must operate on a 24/7 basis to support balanced pipelines, reduce congestion and drive velocity (CP- posted 8/14)

EMERY RAIL HERITAGE TRUST AWARDS: The first grants from the newly created EMERY RAIL HERITAGE TRUST, established by the late John H. Emery, have been announced. John was a long time Chicago resident, and was an avid rail enthusiast who loved to ride trains around the world, and wanted to help preserve rail equipment and infrastructure that will allow future generations to share his experiences during what he considered the “Golden Age” of railroads, from 1920 – 1960. Twenty five applications were received requesting in excess of $800,000; eleven matching grants were awarded totalling $162,500. Grants were approved for the following organizations/projects:
  • Bay Area Electric Railroad Association, $15,000 for repair and maintenance of their former Sacramento Northern railroad infrastructure.
  • Engine 557 Restoration Company, $10,000 for restoration of Alaska Railroad steam locomotive 557.
  • Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation, $10,000 for upgrades and restoration to four of their passenger cars.
  • Mid Continent Railway Museum, $10,000 toward a new boiler for Chicago & North Western locomotive 1385.
  • New England Electric Railway Historical Society, $20,000 for restoration of three North Shore Line cars including the only remaining dining car, number 415. John was a big North Shore Line enthusiast and rode it regularly.
  • New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Historical Society, $25,000 to help with completion of work to restore Santa Fe locomotive 2926.
  • North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation, $38,400 for restoration of former New Haven railroad Pullman PINE TREE, STATE, a six double-bedroom sleeper buffet lounge car to meet AMTRAK operational standards. John frequently rode on this car during High Iron Travel excursions and occasionally accompanied the car when it was being moved from point to point for excursions.
  • Washington DC NRHS Chapter, $4,000 for interior upgrades to their Pullman car DOVER HARBOR.
  • Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, $10,000 for upgrades to former Southern Railway Pullman built heavyweight Dining Car 3158.
  • The Northwest Railway Museum, $10,000 for restoration of former Northern Pacific locomotive 924
  • White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation (Nevada Northern), $10,000 for upgrades and maintenance of their passenger cars. In addition to these matching grants, each of the three advisory committee members are allowed to make $1,000 donations to any charity of their choosing under the terms of the Trust. The members chose to give an additional $1,000 to the North Carolina Transportation Museum and the Washington DC NRHS Chapter for the projects identified above, and $500 to both the New York Museum of Transportation and the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum for track work projects.
. (Emery Rail Heritage Trust - posted 8/13)

SENATOR SCHUMER PROPOSES PLANS FOR NEW GATEWAY TUNNEL: Standing at the Middletown Train Station, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today discussed his new framework to fund and build a new cross-Hudson tunnel, as part of Amtrak’s Gateway program. The new cross-Hudson tunnel would create the opening to realize the long-sought one-seat ride to Penn Station for long-suffering Orange and Rockland train commuters. This comprehensive proposal, which would build two new tunnel tubes under the Hudson River, would also allow for the construction of the Secaucus Loop. Schumer said the construction of this loop, combined with the increased capacity provided by the new cross-Hudson tunnels could provide a “one-seat ride” for commuters in Orange and Rockland Counties. This comes on the heels of a speech Schumer made in New York City where he called for the establishment of a Gateway Development Corporation, a collaborative partnership that would bring together stakeholders like the States of New York and New Jersey, Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), NJ Transit and the Port Authority, in an effort to get the Gateway Project moving forward, beginning with the construction of two new Hudson River tunnel tubes. Schumer said that the creation of this development corporation is the first step in making the Gateway project a reality, which will replace two existing tunnels under the Hudson River and ultimately double cross-Hudson train capacity to New York City. Schumer explained that, in addition to building the new tunnels under the Hudson River, the larger Amtrak Gateway proposal also includes a project that is a long-dreamed-about transportation goal for the Hudson Valley—the so-called “one-seat ride.” Schumer explained that the Gateway proposal includes a number of projects beyond just the Hudson River tunnels, one of which is the construction of the “Secaucus Loop,” which is needed to connect West-of-the-Hudson commuters using the Main/Bergen line directly to the tunnels that proceed into New York City without having to transfer in New Jersey. Schumer said this project is desperately needed, as it could be transformative for Lower Hudson Valley commuters, create good-paying construction jobs and spur economic development for the entire region for years to come. Specifically, Schumer said that, in order to make this project a reality, stakeholders including Amtrak, the federal government, the States of NY and NJ, the MTA, NJ Transit, and the Port Authority will need to work together and create the Gateway Development Corporation. Schumer said having this development corporation would bring all of these entities under one umbrella to more efficiently access and leverage the kinds of federal and state resources needed to achieve progress on this project. “We are fast approaching a regional transportation Armageddon – the busiest rail lines in the country will soon be stranded without a way into New York City, which could be devastating not only for commerce, but our commuters. That is why we should create a new Gateway Development Corporation in which all the players – from New York and New Jersey and from Amtrak and the federal government – can get together, plan and design this must-build project and pull down every available source of public and private funding to make it possible. Funding the Gateway project would not only ensure we can build the tunnels necessary to keeping New York State, and our nation’s economic center, functioning, but it would also pave the way to creating the one-seat ride Orange and Rockland County commuters have been begging for year after year,” said Schumer. “Providing a way for our West-of-the-Hudson commuters to get to New York City without having to transfer trains has the potential to completely revolutionize commuting and spur an incredible level of economic development. That is why I am fighting to make sure we are taking critical steps now that we will need later on to make this project a reality.” Schumer was joined by Lynn Cione, President of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. Schumer said that the Gateway Tunnel Project is desperately needed, not only for the purpose of transporting millions more workers, tourists and shoppers into and out of New York City each day, but also because the two tunnels that currently carry rail traffic under the Hudson River and into Manhattan will soon become inoperable. Schumer said that because these tunnels were flooded during Superstorm Sandy, they are deteriorating faster than most initially anticipated. In addition, these tunnels are old, built between 1904 and 1908, and are merely a few years away from being considered structurally unsound. For these reasons, Schumer said, the Gateway project has been in the works for many years. While this plan incorporates several important upgrades needed to improve the Northeast Corridor in the New York-New Jersey area, one of the high-priority aspects of the Gateway program includes building two new tunnels under the Hudson to replace these outdated ones. Schumer explained that doing this would provide the opening necessary to fully realize the goal of creating a one-seat ride for Orange and Rockland residents. Schumer said implementing the long-awaited one-seat ride for the West-of-the-Hudson residents who commute to New York Penn Station would be transformative for the Lower Hudson Valley region. This would be accomplished by first increasing tunnel capacity into New York City via the construction of two new tunnels, and then constructing the “Secaucus Loop,” which would connect the Main/Bergen lines that run from Orange and Rockland Counties directly to the rail lines that bring passengers under the Hudson River and into New York’s Penn Station each day. However, this cannot happen without creating a path forward for the Gateway project to get underway. Doing this would pave the way for the long-awaited one-seat ride for residents West-of-the-Hudson, who would no longer have to transfer and change trains in Secaucus as a result of this loop. Schumer said this would not only revolutionize commuting for West-of-the-Hudson residents, but it would create good-paying jobs during the construction phase of the tunnels and loop, and spur increased economic development for both the New York City and Hudson Valley areas. Therefore, following a speech in New York City, Schumer visited the Hudson Valley to further discuss his new framework to fund and build Amtrak’s Gateway cross-Hudson tunnel and what it would mean for Orange and Rockland residents who commute to New York City. While only preliminary estimates exist, the cost of the two new tunnel tubes is estimated at between $10-$14 billon and the boarder Gateway plan, which includes the estimated $800 million Secaucus Loop, is estimated to cost $20-25 billion. Schumer said that because Amtrak cannot access federal mass transit funding and the Port Authority and regional transit agencies cannot access federal railroad dollars, the best way to ensure Gateway can be completed is to allow each entity a seat at the table and to organize under a non-profit that can add up several pieces of financing, with an eye toward getting the maximum amount possible from the federal government. Finding ways to piece together the massive financing puzzle needed to make this project a reality will be the first step, Schumer said, in making the Gateway project a reality. Schumer said this will provide a path forward on the transformative Gateway project that will replace these two existing tunnels under the Hudson River and create the Secaucus Loop for Orange and Rockland County commuters, ultimately doubling cross-Hudson train capacity to New York City and spurring economic development opportunities for years to come. (U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer - posted 8/12)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 8, 2015: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 562,884 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending Aug. 8, 2015 were 288,460 carloads, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 274,424 containers and trailers, up 3.1 percent compared to 2014. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 14.2 percent to 9,117 carloads; farm products, up 8.4 percent to 16,854 carloads; and grain, up 1.5 percent to 21,587 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 17.7 percent to 13,826 carloads; metallic ores and metals, down 10 percent to 23,387 carloads; and coal, down 7.1 percent to 105,965 carloads. For the first 31 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,595,439 carloads, down 4.2 percent from the same point last year; and 8,211,341 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 31 weeks of 2015 was 16,806,780 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1 percent compared with this point last year. North American rail volume for the week ending Aug. 8, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 377,908 carloads, down 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 346,905 intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 724,813 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 31 weeks of 2015 was 21,925,606 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 72,599 carloads for the week, down 11.7 percent, and 60,616 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 31 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,281,333 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.4 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,849 carloads for the week, up 5.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,865 intermodal units, up 4.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 31 weeks of 2015 was 837,493 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent from the same point last year. Crude Oil Carload Update The AAR also reported U.S. Class I railroads originated 111,068 carloads of crude oil in the second quarter of 2015, down 2,021 carloads or 1.8 percent from the first quarter of 2015 and down 21,189 carloads or 16 percent from the third quarter of 2014, which is the peak quarter for rail crude oil originations. (AAR - - posted 8/12)

B&O RAILROAD MUSEUM ANNOUNCES THE RESTORATION OF TWO HISTORIC LOCOMOTIVES: The B&O Railroad Museum is proud to announce the completion of two locomotive restoration projects:
  • No. 600 “J.C. Davis:” one of America’s rarest steam engines and the last steam engine to be restored that was damaged in the catastrophic 2003 roundhouse roof collapse.
  • No. 6944:  General Motors Electro-Motive Division (GM-EMD) GP30, the only class of locomotives delivered to the B&O Railroad in the sunburst paint scheme. 
Both locomotives will be unveiled and commemorated by the museum’s executive director, Courtney Wilson and chief curator, David Shackelford on the morning of Friday, September 4th. To honor the efforts of the Museum’s restoration team, public programs on both engines will take place throughout the day.
  • The No. 600 was designed by John C. Davis, the B&O’s Master of Machinery, and built at the historic Mount Clare shops (now the site of the Museum); this powerful locomotive type with 2 leading wheels, 6 driving wheels and no trailing wheels (2-6-0) was known as a "Mogul." The derivation of the name is unknown but is thought to represent a powerful leader.  Originally engines like this were designed for freight service; however Davis also decided to use the versatile locomotives for passenger service. The B&O displayed the No. 600 as a “state-of-the-art” steam locomotive in Philadelphia during the Centenary Exhibition in 1876. It won first prize for its attractive design and color scheme.  The No. 600 served until it was retired in 1893 when it became part of the historic collection of the railroad. It was renamed J.C. Davis, for its designer in 1927 for the railroad’s 100th anniversary celebration known as the Fair of the Iron Horse. It has been meticulously restored to its original appearance by the restoration staff of the B&O Railroad Museum and it is the only B&O Mogul locomotive in existence. The No. 600 was one of the twenty-two locomotives and railcars that were severely damaged by the roundhouse roof collapse during the President’s Day blizzard of 2003. Its restoration was complex due to the extreme level of damage it sustained and its completion is a testament to all who contributed and worked hard to rebuild the roundhouse and save the historic collection housed within.
  • The No. 6944 was one of 77 engines built for the B&O Railroad by General Motors Electro-Motive Division in La Grange, Illinois between 1961-1963. This 4-axle roadswitcher is more commonly known as a “General Purpose” or GP locomotive. The B&O No. 6944 is a second generation GP 30 locomotive developed to out power its competitors made by General Electric and the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). The exterior shell was designed by the GM Automotive Styling Center in Troy, Michigan to have a modern, appealing and cutting edge design. Less than 1,000 units were made and the B&O boasted 77 of them on their motive power roster. The locomotives in this class were the only class of locomotives delivered to the B&O in a unique sunburst paint scheme. When the B&O ceased to exist in 1987, it was renumbered as CSXT No. 4253. On January, 22, 1996, CSX retired the locomotive and donated it to the B&O Railroad Museum. The restoration returns the 6944 to its original appearance. It will return to service as one of the historic diesel engines pulling the museum’s passenger train.
(Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum - posted 8/11)

JAMES L. FERRARA NAMED INTERIM PRESIDENT OF MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast has named James L. Ferrara as Interim President of MTA New York City Transit (NYCT), the agency which operates subway, bus and paratransit service in the city of New York. Ferrara, the President of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, will serve in this position after NYCT President Carmen Bianco retires August 21 and will continue as Interim President until a new permanent President is named. The MTA is engaged in an international search to fill that position and is evaluating internal and external candidates. “Running MTA New York City Transit is one of the most complicated and critical jobs in the entire MTA, and Jim’s excellent judgment and strong managerial skills make me confident the agency will be in good hands while we find Transit’s next permanent President,” Prendergast said. Ferrara began his service to the MTA as a Bridges and Tunnels Officer in 1977 and was named President of Bridges and Tunnels in 2010. He has named Bridges and Tunnels Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Donald Spero to serve as Acting Bridges and Tunnels President during this time. “I am honored to be asked to assume this challenging role, and I thank the Chairman for entrusting me with it,” Ferrara said. “This temporary shift will require continued good work and support from my colleagues at Bridges and Tunnels as well as NYCT, and I thank them in advance for their help advancing the work of the entire MTA.” (MTA - posted 8/11)

GENESEE & WYOMING TO ACQUIRE CLAREMONT CONCORD RAILROAD: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. has reached an asset purchase agreement with Claremont Concord Railroad to acquire its rail line in Claremont, N.H., and lease to operate over a state-owned line in West Lebanon, N.H., according to a report in the Valley News. G&W subsidiary New England Central Railroad last week notified the Surface Transportation Board of the transaction, the newspaper reported. A G&W spokesman confirmed to the newspaper that the company was acquiring Claremont Concord, but declined to comment further. (Progressive Railroading - posted 8/10)

MAKING WAY FOR A NEW AMTRAK STATION IN SCHENECTADY, N.Y.: The Metroplex Board approved a number of resolutions that will help pave the way for construction of a new $14 million train station in downtown Schenectady. The Board approved selling a small piece of land in a parking lot it owns next to the current station to allow for construction of the new station. The Board also approved a license agreement to allow access to the Metroplex-owned parking area during construction and an agreement that allows construction of a new walkway from the new station to State Street through the parking lot. The last station-related item is approval for Metroplex to enter into a betterment agreement with the State to make improvements to the parking lot that surrounds the station. As part of the new station project, the main parking lot surrounding the station will be rebuilt. The area in front of the Wall Street building, next to Erie Boulevard, is not covered by this lot improvement being done for the Amtrak project, so Metroplex approved spending $48,000 to improve this section of the lot. Metroplex will own and operate the entire lot. Gillen said, “We are pleased to be working closely with NYS DOT and Amtrak to bring this new station to downtown Schenectady.” The Board also approved $50,000 to paint the rail bridge at Erie Boulevard and Union Street. Metroplex is currently rebuilding Union Street, and so it made sense to improve the rail crossing while other upgrades were underway.The last item approved by the Board was $189,000 for upgrades to the Metroplex-owned parking garage, including a back-up generator as well as upgrades to the main entrance to the parking facility. (Progressive Railroading - posted 8/10)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT TRASH CAN FREE STATIONS PILOT YIELDS POSITIVE RESULTS: Results of the ongoing MTA New York City Transit pilot removing trash cans from a total of 39 subway stations show a significant decrease in the amount of trash bags collected from these stations. The results show a 66% reduction in the number of bags collected at Phase 1 and Phase 2 stations, and a 36% reduction in the number of bags collected at Phase 3 stations. The three phases of the pilot were effectively evaluated and the results support the pilot’s originally stated goal to improve the customer experience in stations by minimizing the number of trash bags to be stored and collected, decreasing exposed trash bags and controlling the rodent population. “This pilot appears counterintuitive but when we placed notices at the pilot stations indicating that the cans had been removed and asked the customers for their cooperation, it looks like they listened,” New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said. “Given these results, we’ll continue the pilot and monitor and collect additional data at stations.” The pilot stations have seen a reduction in trash volumes, rodent activity, as well as several other benefits. While the number of track fires at the pilot stations have remained neutral, the rate of track fires at the pilot stations is currently lower than the rate at stations with trash cans. Litter, measured by the percentage of stations with no or light litter in the morning and daytime, increased initially, but rebounded and improved later during the pilot and is currently on par with stations that have trash cans. Stations with cans with no or light litter stand at 85% while stations in the pilot without cans are hovering above 80%. “The reduction in trash in these stations reduced the number of bags to be stored and, consequently, improved the customer experience by reducing the potential bags visible to customers as well as the potential food available to rodents,” said Senior Vice President of Subways Joseph Leader. “Additionally, the significant reduction in trash reduced the need for trash pickups in the pilot stations, which freed up personnel for deployment to other stations.” The initial phase of the pilot began in two stations in October, 2011. Phase 2 added eight stations in September, 2012 and Phase 3 added 29 along the JMZ lines in July, 2014. Baseline conditions were established at each station, and station cleanliness and trash collection was monitored regularly. The decision to remove the trash cans was made in an effort to encourage customers to take with them any disposables that they carry into the system. Trash collection and removal remains a tremendous undertaking. Each day, about 40 tons of trash is removed from the system, collected from more than 3,500 trash receptacles, and approximately 50% gets recycled. Eleven refuse collection trains cover 359 out of the system’s 468 stations with the remainder visited by refuse collection trucks. The refuse collection trains compete with passenger trains for space along the tracks and their overnight movements can be hampered by system maintenance which may require the closing of line segments. New York City Transit will continue to report results of the current pilot program in a timely manner. (MTA - posted 8/07)

COMPETING PRIORITIES LED TO 2014 COLLISION BETWEEN TWO CN TRAINS IN MONTREAL, QUEBEC: Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) issued its investigation report (R14D0011) into a collision between two Canadian National (CN) trains in Montreal, Quebec. There were no injuries; however, both trains sustained damages and approximately 4000 litres of diesel fuel was spilled. On 23 February 2014, a Canadian National yard assignment train was travelling with 25 loaded cars on the freight track of the Montreal Subdivision. At about midnight, the train went through a stop signal and collided with the side of another CN train travelling on the north (adjacent) track in the opposite direction. The investigation determined that, as the yard assignment train was approaching the junction between the freight track and the north track, the rail traffic controller (RTC) initiated a radio communication with the crew requiring them to copy instructions. During the following minutes, the crew prioritized the task of copying the RTC's instructions over the operation of the train and the observation of the track and applicable signals. Consequently, the stop signal was not identified resulting in the collision. The locomotives of the yard assignment train were controlled using a remote control locomotive system called a "Beltpack." An examination into CN's Beltpack practices revealed that CN does not limit the train tonnage, length, or territory characteristics for Beltpack operations. Furthermore, even though the Montreal Subdivision presents some unique characteristics and challenges, CN has not conducted a specific risk assessment for Beltpack operations on this subdivision. The investigation concluded that, if a thorough analysis of risks is not carried out for the operation of Beltpack trains on main track, the vulnerabilities involved in this type of operation will not be identified, and appropriate mitigation measures will not be implemented to protect the public. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada - posted 8/06)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR JULY AND WEEK ENDING AUGUST 1, 2015: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for July 2015 and the first seven months of 2015. Carload traffic in July totaled 1,376,411 carloads, down 6.5 percent or 95,295 carloads from July 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,331,888 containers and trailers in July 2015, up 3.5 percent or 45,538 units from the same month last year. For July 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,708,299, down 1.8 percent or 49,757 carloads and intermodal units from July 2014. In July 2015, six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with July 2014. This included: grain, up 6.2 percent or 5,921 carloads; crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 1 percent or 1,227 carloads; and coke, up 6.1 percent or 1,176 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in July 2015 from July 2014 included: coal, down 12.5 percent or 69,519 carloads, petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.6 percent or 10,691 carloads; and primary metal products, down 13 percent or 7,167 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were down 2.8 percent or 25,776 carloads in July 2015 from July 2014. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first seven months of 2015 was 8,306,979 carloads, down 4.2 percent or 367,126 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 7,936,917 units, up 2.5 percent or 194,980 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first seven months of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 16,243,896 carloads and intermodal units, down 1 percent or 172,146 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year. "Railroads are overexposed, relative to the economy in general, to the energy sector. Put another way, changes in the energy sector are having a bigger effect on rail traffic than they are on the economy as a whole," said AAR Senior Vice President Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "For that reason, we don't think declines in overall rail carloads in recent months are necessarily reflective of fundamental weakness in the broader economy." Week Ending August 1, 2015 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending August 1, 2015 was 559,125 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 289,657 carloads, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,468 containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent compared to 2014. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2014. They included: miscellaneous carloads, up 14.5 percent to 9,285 carloads; grain, up 10.4 percent to 21,402; and motor vehicles and parts, up 4.4 percent to 18,544. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2014 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.4 percent to 13,847 carloads; coal, down 11.8 percent to 102,999 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 6.9 percent to 25,964 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending August 1, 2015 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 383,764 carloads, down 4.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 340,943 intermodal units, down 0.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America, was 724,707 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 30 weeks of 2015 was 21,200,793 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.4 percent compared with 2014. Canadian railroads reported 76,831 carloads for the week, down 5.2 percent, and 60,582 intermodal units, down 0.1 percent compared with the same week in 2014. For the first 30 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,148,118 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,276 carloads for the week, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,893 intermodal units, down 6.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 30 weeks of 2015 was 808,779 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year. . (AAR - posted 8/06)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN EVP AND CIO DEB BUTLER TO RETIRE: Deborah H. Butler, executive vice president planning and chief information officer of Norfolk Southern Corp., has announced her intention to retire effective Oct. 1, 2015, President and CEO Jim Squires said today. "Envisioning the railroad of tomorrow is one thing, actually making it happen is quite another," said Squires. "Deb's enduring contribution to Norfolk Southern is all around us in the systems and technology that literally make the railroad run, that support efficient customer service, and that provide flexibility to take advantage of growth opportunities." Butler joined Norfolk Southern in 1978 as a customer account auditor. She served in positions of increasing responsibility in operations before being named assistant vice president transportation customer services in 2000 and vice president customer service in 2002. Butler was named EVP planning and chief information officer in 2007. She has served as chairman of the board of Thoroughbred Technology and Telecommunications LLC, an NS subsidiary, and as a board member of TTX Company Inc., which provides railcars and related freight car management services to the rail industry. On the technology side, Butler's tenure at NS saw implementation of a new optimized dispatching system to improve network velocity, and significant progress toward installation of Positive Train Control systems to monitor and control trains in order to prevent certain types of accidents. On the planning side, her tenure included the successful negotiation to purchase 282 miles of Delaware and Hudson Railway Co. lines to support rail service and the economy in the Northeast.   Through service as chair of NS' Environmental Policy Council, Butler has been a key advocate of the corporation's commitment to sustainable business through improvements in locomotive fuel efficiency and emissions, energy use, land and water conservation, waste management, and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. Butler also is recognized for her work in mentoring the next generation of railroaders. She helped found WiNS (Women in Norfolk Southern), the railroad's first official employee resource group. WiNS, a networking and educational resource for NS men and women in all positions and locations, recently reached its 10th year. (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 8/05)

PORT AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES PROMOTION OF RAILROAD VETERAN AS NEW DIRECTOR OF PATH RAIL SYSTEM The Port Authority announced that Michael Marino - a seasoned railroad veteran with more than 40 years experience in the industry - was named the agency's new Director of Rail Transit (PATH). Mr. Marino previously served as PATH's Deputy Director since 2014, and acting Director since earlier this year. Mr. Marino - who joined the Port Authority in 2011 following a more than 30-year career with Amtrak and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) - will oversee all core functions of PATH, including rail operations, safety, security, asset management, customer service, and administration, as well as the department's Capital Program. He takes control at a time when PATH is investing significant capital to upgrade its aging signals, stations and other rail infrastructure to accommodate increasing ridership, while continuing to focus on rail safety as PATH's top priority. In the days and weeks following Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, Mr. Marino also was instrumental in PATH's recovery efforts after the system's tunnels and infrastructure were severely flooded by storm water, and has played a critical role in the ongoing rebuilding and resiliency efforts since then. "Maintaining safety for our passengers and rail system employees, while improving trans-Hudson commuting is a major priority, and I believe Mike's deep rail industry experience and leadership will be invaluable as we continue to invest in system and safety enhancements across PATH," said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. "Mike played a key role in getting PATH back in service after the rail system was devastated by Sandy, and I am confident will provide the leadership and experience PATH needs as it continues a unprecedented period of investment, while maintaining service for more than 75 million passengers who use the system each year." Before joining the Port Authority, Mr. Marino served as the Director of Force Account Construction for the MTA, overseeing the extension of the Long Island Rail Road. In 2006, he joined AECOM as Vice President of Rail Transit, Northeast Region, leading projects such as the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel Project and the Moynihan Station Development Project. In his prior career at Amtrak, Mr. Marino was Superintendant of Terminal Service, and responsible during his time at Amtrak for key elements of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project. Prior to his railroad service, Mr. Marino was a member of the United States Navy from 1968 to 1972 and served in the Naval reserves from 1972 to 1976. He spent time in various commands around the world most prominently on the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy serving one North Atlantic tour and two Mediterranean cruises during the Middle East conflicts of that period. (PANYNJ - posted 8/05)

AMTRAK OFFERING WALK-UP BIKE SERVICE FOR TRAVEL TO RICHMOND: Amtrak and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will offer walk-up bike service at select stations for passengers traveling on the Northeast Regional from Philadelphia to Richmond, Va. Tickets for this special service are now available for travel from Sept. 15 to 30; the walk-up bike feature is being offered in conjunction with the 2015 UCI Road World Championships. The enhanced service provides passengers with a way to travel to Virginia’s capital city with their bikes and without the hassles of driving and parking for the championships by allowing bikes to be handed to an Amtrak crew member and hung on a rack in the baggage cars. The service is being offered on travel from Philadelphia, Baltimore/Penn Station, Wilmington, Del., Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Va., to Richmond’s Staples Mill Road and Main Street Stations. There is a $25 bike handling fee. Staffed stations that currently have boxed bike service will continue to offer this service. Standard bike policy and charges apply on trains where applicable. Passengers must reserve their bikes by selecting “add bike” when they book their train travel. Reservations for the walk-up bike service can be made by visiting http://www.amtrak.com/UCIBikes. Reserve early as space is limited. “We have facilitated this special walk-up bike service specifically for passengers who wish to attend the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Director of DRPT. “Passengers and their bikes can disembark at both Amtrak stations in Richmond and have convenient access to all the events related to races.” “Amtrak is excited to work with the Commonwealth to offer this new bike service, providing easy and convenient transportation to the UCI World Championship,” said Jay McArthur, Amtrak Senior Manager for state corridor services. America’s Railroad® is a convenient way for families and leisure travelers to visit Richmond and other areas of Virginia to take advantage of cultural activities and events without worrying about vehicle traffic or hassles. (Amtrak- posted 8/04)

NEW HOOSIER STATE TRAIN OFFERS WI-FI, FOOD SERVICE, DOME-CAR SEATING: The Indiana Department of Transportation announces it has signed long-term passenger rail agreements with Amtrak, Iowa Pacific Holdings and on-line communities for the Hoosier State train, which operates four days per week between Chicago and Indianapolis. The Hoosier State train transitioned to the new service, commencing on August 2.
  • New amenities on board: State and local governments are contracting with the private sector to improve the service and provide new amenities, making it competitive with driving or taking the bus. Iowa Pacific will offer fresh food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages, for purchase on board. Passengers can stay productive or enjoy the journey with limited free Wi-Fi service in all passenger cars. The Hoosier State’s Wi-Fi network uses available bandwidth from cellular carriers along the tracks. One of the three Iowa Pacific passenger cars will be a unique dome lounge, which will soon house business-class seating with hot meals and drinks included. For a limited time, Hoosier State coach passengers may enjoy the dome lounge and its curved glass windows that extend overhead at no additional charge. Seats are available on a first come, first served basis, and each table generally seats four passengers. In addition, the contracts allow flexibility for possible future improvements in schedule, frequency or connecting bus service.
  • Purchase tickets: The four-days-weekly Hoosier State (Trains 850 & 851) combines with the three-days-weekly Amtrak Cardinal (Trains 50 & 51) to provide daily service between Indianapolis and Chicago. Tickets are available at amtrak.com , 800-USA-RAIL and other sales channels, including Amtrak mobile apps. Hoosier State adult coach fares range from $24 to $48 each way and are subject to discounts and two rewards programs, the Rail Baron Club and Amtrak Guest Rewards. Amtrak eTickets, paper tickets and reservations will continue to be issued, and existing tickets will be honored with no changes in fares, schedules or procedures.
  • New contracts: Under the new contracts, Amtrak will serve as the operator for the Hoosier State, work with host railroads, provide train and engine crews, and manage reservations and ticketing. Trains will continue to be operated by experienced and well-trained Amtrak crews responsible for safe operations. Each month, INDOT will pay Amtrak for its expenses not covered by ticket revenue or Amtrak will provide the state with any excess revenue. Iowa Pacific is the state’s contractor to provide the train equipment, train maintenance, food service and marketing. Iowa Pacific is one of the world’s premier providers of passenger and excursion trains with services in Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Texas, and other states. INDOT will receive 25 percent of Iowa Pacific’s operating profits for the Hoosier State. Initially INDOT anticipates paying a total of $254,527 per month and the communities of Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer, Tippecanoe County and West Lafayette would pay a combined $21,194 per month. The contracts continue through June 30, 2017, and INDOT may prolong the service with Iowa Pacific for up to four additional years. The contracts require Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings to comply with all Amtrak and Federal Railroad Administration requirements. INDOT has designated a staff member to manage contract compliance, and will retain a mechanical expert for routine inspections of the Hoosier State locomotives and railcars.
(Indiana Department of Transportation - posted 8/03)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN WHISTLE STOP SAFETY TRAIN VISITS OHIO: Norfolk Southern’s Whistle-Stop Safety Train continues its journey this week, traveling through Ohio Aug. 4-6 to deliver a life-saving message to motorists and pedestrians about staying safe around railroad tracks. The safety train, a partnership between Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver, a national rail safety public education organization, will stop in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Bellevue, Cleveland, and Alliance. The train last week traveled through South Carolina and North Carolina. “Ohio had a 21 percent increase in the number of grade crossing collisions in 2014, which underscores why this train and its message are so important for Ohioans to hear,” said Cayela Wimberly, grade crossing safety director at Norfolk Southern. “We will be talking this week to motorists, parents, school officials, photographers, rail fans, public safety officers, and others about a common sense safety message – when you see tracks, think train.” Last year, 267 people died in the U.S. in highway-rail grade crossing incidents, an increase of 16 percent compared with 2013, and deaths due to trespassing on train tracks jumped 22 percent to 526 people, according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics. Ohio had the eighth highest number of grade crossing collisions in the nation last year with 86, compared with 71 the year before. Four people died in grade crossing collisions in Ohio in 2014. Trespassing on railroad property in Ohio accounted for 13 people killed in 2014, a 38 percent drop compared with 21 fatalities in 2013. “We will remain vigilant and promote safety until that number is zero,” Wimberly said. “Trespassing on railroad property is not only illegal, it puts your life at risk. It’s not worth it.” The safety train will be pulled by NS’ newest commemorative locomotive, the NS 9-1-1, which honors first responders across Norfolk Southern’s 22-state network. The train includes two restored Pullman passenger rail cars with television monitors showing a live video feed from a camera mounted on the lead locomotive. Passengers see firsthand what engineers see from the locomotive cab. The train also includes the Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car, which showcases the benefits of rail freight transportation. “This Ohio Whistle-Stop tour is about building partnerships in our communities with people who can become safety advocates,” said Gena Shelton, state coordinator for Operation Lifesaver Ohio. “Have a conversation with your neighbors, your friends, your children about why you should obey traffic signals at grade crossings and stay away from railroad property. It could save a life.” Attendees of the Whistle-Stop tour are hearing from Ohio native Mark Kalina Jr., a double-amputee due to a train-pedestrian incident in Columbus in 2012. “People in every state need to hear this message, and I’m grateful I can be an advocate for safety here in my home state,” Kalina said. “Your safety, your life, and the lives of others are not worth risking just to save a few minutes by taking a shortcut across railroad tracks or trying to beat a train at a grade crossing.” Invited guests on the train include county and municipal leaders, state and local transportation officials, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, school transportation directors, trucking officials, news media, and others who have a vested interest in public safety. The Whistle-Stop Safety Train Schedule is:
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4: Cincinnati-Dayton-Columbus
  • Wednesday, Aug. 5: Columbus-Bellevue
  • Thursday, Aug. 6: Bellevue-Cleveland-Alliance
(NS- posted 8/03)

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