` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine







Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
February 23, 2018:


GE TRANSPORTATION LANDS GE'S LARGEST DEAL IN UKRAINE: GE Transportation signed a $1 billion framework agreement in Ukraine, marking a major milestone in the country’s efforts to modernize its transportation infrastructure and strengthen its position as a key European rail hub and trade corridor. The agreement, which is the largest ever for GE in the country, includes the supply of 30 GE Evolution Series freight locomotives to Ukrainian Railways, as well as additional locomotive kits over 10 years, the rehabilitation of locomotives in the railway’s legacy fleet, and long-term maintenance services. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko presided over the signing ceremony alongside Rafael Santana, President & CEO of GE Transportation. “We’re happy that negotiations with GE progressed very quickly, wrapping up in just five months and leading to an unprecedented agreement,” said Yevgen Kravtsov, acting Chairman of the Board of Ukrainian Railways. “After many years of inactivity, this project will launch a large-scale modernization of Ukrainian Railway’s locomotive fleet. In addition to addressing Ukraine’s needs for greater capacity, this strategic partnership with GE will also provide a powerful impetus to further develop domestic manufacturing.” Locomotive production is planned to commence in the U.S. in early 2018, with the first deliveries slated for this fall. In addition, certain work will be localized in Ukraine to further bolster job creation and economic development in the country. “This deal demonstrates our expanding global customer base and is a promising step forward in our relationship with Ukrainian Railways, which can serve as a catalyst in attracting international financing and accelerating economic growth in Ukraine,” said Rafael Santana, President & CEO of GE Transportation. “We appreciate the continued trust and support of our partners in Ukraine, including the Ministry of Infrastructure, UkraineInvest, the Office of the National Investment Council, and Ukreximbank. With this agreement, GE will play a larger role in helping the region improve its rail infrastructure and bring products to market faster and more efficiently.” Today’s announcement opens the next chapter in GE’s more than 80-year history of successful cooperation in Ukraine, reaffirming the company’s commitment to help modernize infrastructure, enhance energy security, increase access to high-quality healthcare, and support sustainable development. The TE33A locomotives feature a 12-cylinder, 4,500-horsepower GE Evolution Series engine, delivering high power output, enhanced productivity, greater flexibility, lower lifecycle costs, and improved reliability in heavy-haul operations. Compared to the legacy Ukrainian fleet, the TE33A can significantly reduce harmful emissions, economize on fuel and oil costs, and increase time between maintenance overhauls. (GE Transportation - posted 2/23)

B&O RAILROAD MUSEUM DIRECTOR TO STEP DOWN: Museum officials announced today that Courtney B. Wilson, the longtime Executive Director of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland will resign from his position in the late Fall of 2018 to pursue consulting and other opportunities in the non-profit and museum world. Mr. Wilson came to the B&O in April 1997 as Chief Curator. Following his predecessor’s departure in 1999 he was selected as the new Executive Director in January of 2000 after a national search. He is best known for leading the effort to rebuild and restore the Museum and its collections following the tragic roof collapse of the Museum’s Roundhouse roof during the President’s Day snowstorm of 2003; a turning point in the modern history of the Museum. Under Wilson’s leadership, the Museum expanded its exhibition space more than three-fold, broadened its focus on education, expanded the visitor base, outreach to the community, and established collegial relationships with railway museums across the world. The B&O just completed a Master Plan which will guide the institution for the next decade and beyond. “For over 20 years I have enjoyed the opportunities and challenges of this great job, working with a supportive and active Board, a talented staff, and wonderful volunteers to grow this wonderful museum into what it is today. I feel that now is the right time to identify new leadership to continue to move the museum forward. I look forward to continuing my work in other history and heritage arenas.” Wilson said. “Courtney is the face or our Museum. We will miss his steady hand at the tiller but he will always be a resource for us. The timing of this announcement allows us to inject new leadership and enthusiasm at the start of our Master Plan and to ensure that a succession-planning process will be deliberate and seamless until the best qualified candidate is secured and a smooth transition follows,” said Francis Smyth, Chairman of the Board of Directors. The B&O has appointed a Search Committee and has retained the Durakis Executive Search firm to lead the effort to identify the museum’s next leader. (The B&O Railroad Museum - posted 2/22)

CHICAGO'S METRA PURCHASES AMTRAK F59PHI LOCOMOTIVES: The Metra Board of Directors today approved the purchase up to 21 used F59PHI locomotives for $1.3 million each, allowing Metra to quickly supplement its locomotive fleet while continuing a longer-term procurement of additional, new or remanufactured locomotives. The F59PHIs, which were built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in 1998 and have been rehabbed within the last five years, have similar parts and operating characteristics to Metra’s existing fleet of EMD F40s, some of which are 35 years old and are in need of overhaul. That means they can be integrated into the Metra system quickly and without extensive and expensive training of maintenance and operating crews. The F59s would also increase reliability, reduce pollution and achieve fuel savings of about 10 percent to 25 percent over the older engines. “Ideally Metra would have sufficient funding to replace older locomotives with new ones on a regular basis,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “However, Metra has been underfunded for years and we have to work with the funding we have available. We believe this purchase represents a great opportunity to make a big impact on our operations at a reasonable expense, and that’s why we are pursuing this purchase.” It is rare for service-ready engines to be on the market. These 21 F59 locomotives were most recently used on the West Coast by Amtrak. The engines will become available this year as Amtrak switches to a new Siemens locomotive. In late 2017, Metra issued a request for proposals (RFP) to begin to replace its aging fleet of engines with new or remanufactured locomotives. The RFP calls for a base order of at least 12 new or 15 remanufactured locomotives with options for up to 30 additional new locomotives or 27 additional remanufactured locomotives, for a total of up to 42 new or remanufactured locomotives. Metra is asking for proposals for both new and remanufactured engines because it wants to weigh the costs/benefits of both options. Those new or remanufactured locomotives, however, would not be available until late 2020 at the earliest, while the used F59s will be available this year. The F59s would supplement the engines purchased under the RFP. The F59 purchase will be funded with money already set aside for locomotive purchases or other capital needs and/or through financing. (Metra, Alex Mayes - posted 2/22)

MTA ANNOUNCES CATHERINE RINALDI NAMED AS PRESIDENT OF METR0-NORTH RAILROAD: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Joseph Lhota today announced that he has appointed Catherine Rinaldi as the sixth President of MTA Metro-North Railroad. Rinaldi has served as Acting President of Metro-North since July 2017, and previously was Metro-North’s Executive Vice President, beginning in 2015. “Cathy is the best person to continue to push forward the progress that Metro-North has made in renewing the railroad and enhancing the confidence of its customers,” Chairman Lhota said. “She brings 15 years of dedicated service to the MTA, a disarmingly calm management style, a razor-sharp intellect, and an uncanny ability to break problems down into their component parts to quickly find a practical solution.” Rinaldi served as General Counsel for the MTA between 2003 and 2007 before taking on that role at the Long Island Rail Road, through 2011. In that year, she became Chief of Staff for the MTA, a position she held until 2015. “Everyone who has had the good fortune of working with Cathy knows she inspires confidence in those around her through a mixture of leadership by example, evenhandedness and commitment to core principles,” said MTA Managing Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “She never loses sight of concern for customer experience.” Metro-North Railroad is the second-busiest commuter railroad in the country, providing 86.5 million rides a year between Grand Central Terminal and 123 stations in nine counties in New York and Connecticut. Rinaldi becomes the first woman to serve as president. "I’m honored and humbled to be offered this position and deeply appreciative of the confidence that Joe and Ronnie have placed in me,” Rinaldi said. “Since I came to Metro-North, the railroad’s dedicated employees have made me proud to be a part of their team. I look forward to working with everyone at the railroad to affirm and strengthen Metro-North’s commitment to safety and customer service.” Rinaldi graduated summa cum laude from Yale and earned her law degree from the University of Virginia. She was born in Brooklyn, raised in Huntington, Long Island, and now resides in Westchester County with her husband and son. (MTA - posted 2/21)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 17, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 17, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 539,963 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending February 17 were 260,454 carloads, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,509 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent compared to 2017. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 1,689 carloads, to 34,048; chemicals, up 1,102 carloads, to 33,104; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 208 carloads, to 10,097. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 2,978 carloads, to 87,962; grain, down 1,316 carloads, to 21,495; and miscellaneous carloads, down 235 carloads, to 9,056.? For the first seven weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,728,917 carloads, down 2.6 percent from the same point last year; and 1,858,137 intermodal units, up 4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2018 was 3,587,054 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 0.7 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending February 17, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 353,799 carloads, down 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 363,684 intermodal units, up 6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 717,483 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first seven weeks of 2018 was 4,819,038 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.5 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 71,591 carloads for the week, down 9.6 percent, and 66,267 intermodal units, up 6.9 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first seven weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 970,562 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.1 percent.? Mexican railroads reported 21,754 carloads for the week, up 1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,908 intermodal units, down 7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first seven weeks of 2018 was 261,422 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.1 percent from the same point last year. (FRA - posted 2/21)

URGENT PLEA TO SAVE LOUISIANA & ARKANSAS 4-6-0 503: You can help prevent a beautiful Louisiana & Arkansas , 4-6-0, # 503, from being scrapped later this week. In three and a half days, over $43,000 has been raised to save this engine. Another $6,800.00 is needed. Scrappers are on site, ready to start cutting. But, cranes and a low boy are standing by to rescue this engine. A permanent home has been selected. Their long-term goal is to return 503 to operation. You can make a difference. I am told that the state of Texas has directed the city of Port Arthur, Texas to immediately remove this engine because of its asbestos danger and the fact that it is in a flood plane. The contractor, who now owns the engine, is under contract to have the engine removed by next week. To avoid penalties, he will start scrapping the engine tomorrow morning if they do not raise $50,000.00 by midnight, tonight! Please go to the following "Go Fund Me" web site and make a donation. It took me less than one minute. https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-the-la-503-friends-of. Then, call and email your friends and encourage them to do the same. When I viewed the list of donations, I saw a lot of names of people who donated to the John Helmstetter barn fund and people who have ridden on our Photo Special steam trips. For more information and a picture of the engine, please visit the following: http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=41678. (Carl Franz - posted 2/20)

CP INTRODUCES TEMPPRO: As Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) continues to develop its total transportation product, the company launched today a brand new service offering called CP TempPro™, for customers shipping perishable products. This offering will allow CP the opportunity to grow the company's book of business with perishable protective service (PPS) customers. Focused on transporting products that require strict temperature settings, CP's growing fleet of PPS is one of the largest and most advanced in the industry. CP TempPro™ ensures that customers' products are transported in a reliable, fuel-efficient temperature-controlled environment. In 2017, CP announced the purchase of 41 gensets to better serve its international customers. These gensets also support the new reefer domestic repositioning program (reefer DRP), which creates new shipping options for our domestic customers and provides improved round trip economics for our international shippers. In 2018, CP will invest in over 400 new 53' reefers to support the growing temperature-control market. CP will also be the first to offer Thermo King's SLXi-DRC model which features a slimmer design, allowing for two additional pallet positions in a shipment. The SLXi-DRC also utilizes a greener refrigerant, R-452A, which decreases global warming potential over its predecessor, the R-404A. In addition, CP is purchasing over 350 53' heater units. Combined, these investments will support CP TempPro™. "CP is committed to giving our customers everything they need as one total transportation product, which is why CP TempPro™ is a great addition to our roster of services," said Jonathan Wahba, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Intermodal and Automotive. "Great customer service is imperative to what we do at CP. We have listened to our customers and have learned that efficient, timely and reliable access to our network is paramount to expanding their business, and ours." CP's fluid and reliable domestic intermodal network also boasts the shortest routes to key markets, including Toronto to Vancouver and Calgary. Throughout 2017, CP made significant investments in its broader intermodal franchise, which is now complemented with a variety of upgrades such as the Portal, North Dakota Live Lift, CP FastPass and enhanced transload services. CP also offers the most direct intermodal service from Vancouver to Detroit and direct service from Vancouver to the Ohio Valley. (CP - posted 2/20)

NTSB SAFETY RECOMMENDATION: TRAIN OPERATION DURING SIGNAL SUSPENSION: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a head-on collision that occurred on February 4, 2018, about 2:27 a.m. eastern standard time on the CSX Transportation (CSX) Columbia Subdivision in Cayce, South Carolina. Southbound Amtrak train 91, operating on a track warrant, diverted from the main track through a reversed hand-thrown switch into a siding and collided head-on with stationary CSX local freight train F777 03.1 The engineer and conductor of the Amtrak train died as a result of the collision. At least 92 passengers and crewmembers on the Amtrak train were transported to medical facilities. The engineer of the stopped CSX train had exited the lead locomotive before the Amtrak train entered the siding, ran to safety, and was not injured. The conductor of the CSX lead locomotive saw the Amtrak train approaching in the siding and ran to the back of locomotive. The conductor was thrown off the locomotive and sustained minor injuries. The normal method of train operation on the subdivision was a traffic control system with wayside signals. Signal indications authorize movement in either direction. On the day before the accident, February 3, 2018, CSX signal personnel suspended the traffic control signal system to install updated traffic control system components for implementing positive train control (PTC) on the subdivision. During this time, scheduled to last through February 4, 2018, the signals would not operate and dispatchers would use track warrants to move trains through absolute blocks in the work territory. Although the installation was only partially complete, the signal personnel stopped work at the accident location at 7:00 p.m., and the signal suspension remained in place The National Transportation Safety Board makes the following urgent safety recommendation: To the Federal Railroad Administration: Issue an Emergency Order directing railroads to require that when signal suspensions are in effect and a switch has been reported relined for a main track, the next train or locomotive to pass the location must approach the switch location at restricted speed. After the switch position is verified, the train crew must report to the dispatcher that the switch is correctly lined for the main track before trains are permitted to operate at maximum-authorized speed. (R-18-005) (Urgent) (NTSB - posted 2/16)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN SOUTHERN TIER LINE DERAILMENT An eastbound Norfolk Southern multilevel train, operating on the Southern Tier Line, derailed today about 4:15 p.m. near East Maine Street Road in Attica, N.Y. Early reports are that both NS locomotives derailed, along with 10 multilevels that were loaded with new automobiles. Two injuries were reported. (Joel R. Havens - posted 2/15)

FRA ANNOUNCES $73 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR RAIL CAPITAL PROJECTS AND OPERATING ASSISTANCE: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that it is accepting applications for $73 million in grant funding for projects that can strengthen intercity passenger rail, support capital projects and boost safety initiatives that may include the implementation of positive train control, improved highway-rail grade crossings, and congestion mitigation. “These grants are important resources in the Department’s ongoing efforts to strengthen our Nation’s overall rail systems, deploy positive train control and improve highway-rail grade crossings,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said. The funding, made available through new grant programs, is authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017. These grants are expected to leverage private, state and local investments to boost a wide range of rail projects, including the potential for implementing positive train control, improving highway-rail grade crossings, mitigating congestion, repairing or replacing railroad assets, and enhancing intercity passenger rail transportation. This announcement and solicitation reflects the White House’s Infrastructure principles, including: (A) Supporting economic vitality at the national and regional level; (B) Leveraging Federal funding to attract other, non-Federal sources of infrastructure investment, as well as accounting for the life-cycle costs of the project; (C) Using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and (D) Holding grant recipients accountable for their performance and achieving specific, measurable outcomes identified by grant applicants. Funds will be dispersed through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program and the Restoration and Enhancement Grants program. The notices of funding opportunity (NOFO) have been submitted to the Federal Register and will be publishing shortly. To view the NOFOs, visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L19360 and https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L19361. . At least 25 percent, or $17 million, of CRISI’s $68 million in funding will be used for rural projects like highway-rail grade crossing improvement projects. Another $10 million is available for certain capital projects like rail line relocation and improvement or grade separation projects that contribute to the safe initiation or restoration of intercity passenger rail service. A portion of funding from the CRISI and Restoration and Enhancement programs—$2.2 million set-aside for Special Transportation Circumstances—is directed to grants for freight or intercity passenger rail capital projects in Alaska, South Dakota and Wyoming. (FRA - posted 2/15)

NJ TRANSIT SELECTS KEVIN CORBETT AS NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: In a unanimous vote, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved Kevin Corbett as the next Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT during the regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting today. The appointment is effective starting on Monday, February 19, 2018. "Kevin is taking on one of the toughest jobs in New Jersey – turning NJ Transit around and restoring it as a world-class transportation agency that our commuters can rely on. Every New Jerseyan who takes the train or bus every day, and the thousands of employees who show up for work, deserves visionary leadership committed to getting this system right. Kevin’s confirmation signals that we have begun the difficult process of rebuilding NJ TRANSIT and, in time, regaining commuters’ trust in the system,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “I would like to thank Governor Murphy and the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors for the opportunity to serve the state of New Jersey,” said incoming Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “I look forward to working with the dedicated men and women of NJ TRANSIT in restoring the transportation system to the national leader it once was, providing safe and reliable service and boosting economic development in New Jersey.” Prior to incoming Executive Director Corbett’s appointment, he served as Vice President, Cross Services at AECOM, one of the world’s premier transportation and infrastructure companies. In this role, Mr. Corbett drew on the extensive resources from across AECOM’s various business lines to provide optimal solutions for AECOM’s clients. AECOM projects that Mr. Corbett was Principal-In-Charge of or actively served in a management role included Moynihan Station Phase one, Amtrak’s Gateway Program, Second Avenue Subway – Phase one, Penn Vision, Penn Station Critical Improvements, One WTC Interim Loading Dock, Post-Sandy PATH Restoration and other related regional resiliency and restoration projects. Previously, Mr. Corbett was responsible for the global marine and freight business for DMJM+HARRIS, a legacy AECOM company, as well as other AECOM subsidiaries. In the civic realm, Mr. Corbett currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Regional Plan Association (RPA) and is Co-Chair of its Transportation Committee. He also serves on the board of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York & New Jersey (President), Tri-State Transportation Campaign and The New York League of Conservation Voters (Chairman). Mr. Corbett is a graduate of Georgetown University and serves as a Blue & Gold Officer for the U.S. Naval Academy. (NJ TRANSIT - posted 2/14)

NJ TRANSIT APPROVES ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW’S PROPOSED ALIGNMENT FOR HBLR EXPANSION TO BERGEN COUNTY: a unanimous vote, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved the proposed alignment of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail’s planned expansion into Bergen County as described in the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact statement dated March 2017. The selection of the “Locally Preferred Alternative” is required as part of the federal environmental review process. The Board action also authorizes the submission of the Locally Preferred Alternative to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Board of Trustees for designation and inclusion in their Long-Range Regional Transportation Plan. During Project Development the project sponsor must select a Locally Preferred Alternative; get the Locally Preferred Alternative adopted into the fiscally constrained metropolitan transportation plan; and complete the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). By selecting the Locally Preferred Alternative at this time, NJ TRANSIT will be able to initiate design and engineering activities upon completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and receipt of the Record of Decision from the FTA, in advance of requesting entry into Project Development. Locally Preferred Alternative The Locally Preferred Alternative consists of a 10-mile two-track extension of the HBLR from its current terminus at Tonnelle Avenue northward to the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, generally utilizing CSX Transportation’s Northern Branch running track. The project will construct a total of seven stations in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Englewood (three stations) and parking for approximately 2,740 vehicles. Service is proposed to operate from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. with six-minute headways during the peak period and 15-minute headways during the off-peak period. It is estimated that the project will serve 12,370 passengers per average weekday in the year 2030. (NJ TRANSIT - posted 2/14)

WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 10, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 10, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 519,545 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending February 10 were 251,058 carloads, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 268,487 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared to 2017. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 2,046 carloads, to 31,551; chemicals, up 1,224 carloads, to 31,782; and metallic ores and metals, up 1,010 carloads, to 20,396. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 were coal, down 3,729 carloads, to 85,591; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,980 carloads, to 16,693; and grain, down 1,442 carloads, to 19,035. For the first six weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,468,463 carloads, down 2.9 percent from the same point last year; and 1,578,628 intermodal units, up 3.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first six weeks of 2018 was 3,047,091 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 0.3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending February 10, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 344,660 carloads, down 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 348,177 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 692,837 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first six weeks of 2018 was 4,101,555 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.3 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 73,983 carloads for the week, down 3.1 percent, and 63,526 intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first six weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 832,704 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent.? Mexican railroads reported 19,619 carloads for the week, down 8.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,164 intermodal units, down 8.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first six weeks of 2018 was 221,760 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 2/14)

LIRC LOCOMOTIVES LOGOS HONOR VETERANS: Members of the U.S. military are honored in a bold new logo applied to the flanks of two Louisville & Indiana Railroad (LIRC) diesel locomotives, underscoring LIRC’s long-standing commitment to recognizing and hiring veterans. The logo, designed by Tyler Hardin, depicts silhouettes of three soldiers from different eras against a backdrop of the American flag. The design, framed by the LIRC keystone, includes five stars for the branches of the service and the legend “Honoring Our Veterans.” A soldier in the center wears a contemporary helmet, flanked by a pair of soldiers, one wearing a World War I-era “Doughboy” helmet and the other an M1 helmet from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam The locomotives are 3,000 h.p. SD40-2 units numbered 3001 and 3002, and were repainted during a recent upgrade at Metro East Industries Inc. in Fairview Heights, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis. The units are leased from CIT Rail. “We think this is a very simple and effective way of honoring veterans,” says LIRC President John Goldman. “We’re very cognizant of the fact we have veterans that need jobs, and they make good employees. In many ways, railroading and the military are similar, with challenging jobs, outdoor work, and odd shifts.” For designer Hardin, it was an honor to have the chance to create the logo. “There is nothing in the world I could do to repay anyone who has donned a uniform to protect the freedoms all of us enjoy,” he says. “The only thing I can do is show my gratitude and put it on full display.” In 2017, LIRC’s commitment to veterans was honored by the American Short Line and Regional Railroads Association (ASLRRA), which presented the railroad with its Timmons Award, a program recognizing efforts to hire and retain veterans. Of LIRC’s total of 47 employees, one fourth are veterans, active-duty reservists, or members of the National Guard. The award is named for Lt. Gen. Richard F. Timmons (USA Ret.), a former president of the ASLRRA. Goldman says the railroad’s efforts to hire veterans will continue. “All things being equal, we prefer to give veterans the edge in hiring,” he says. Last summer, LIRC worked directly with Indiana’s National Guard 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team when it was deployed from Camp Atterbury via LIRC tracks. The training mission simulated combat operations and involved approximately 309 railcars, 1,207 pieces of equipment, and 6,000 soldiers. The deployment was the ?rst following completion of a nine-track National Guard rail terminal on the LIRC at Edinburgh, Ind. The facility is designed to enable more efficient rail movements of large quantities of material over long distances. The new veterans paint scheme is in keeping with the corporate philosophy of LIRC’s ownership group, Chicago-based Anacostia Rail Holdings. In 2013, another ARH property, Pacific Harbor Line (PHL), was named Veterans Employer of the Year by the California Employer Advisory Council, recognizing the railroad’s success in ensuring that approximately one-fourth of its workforce are veterans, active-duty Guardsmen, and reservists. PHL’s efforts to hire veterans are spearheaded by the railroad’s president, Otis Cliatt II, himself a U.S. Army veteran. (Anacostia Pacific - posted 2/13)



PRESIDENT TRUMP'S INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT: President Donald Trump announced plans for a nation wide plan to improve the country's infrastructure. The plan is based upon state and local expenditures for projects, with the Federal Government only allocating $200 billion toward infrasture improvements. The plan might lead to uncertain source of funding for many railroad projects, including the Gateway Project that would link New Jersey and New York. President Trump issued a press release as follows: "A Nation’s infrastructure is a measure of its greatness. It affects everyone’s quality of life, ability to succeed, and is obviously, a critical component to a functioning economy. That is why President Trump unveiled his infrastructure plan this week, calling on Congress to pass legislation that will make everything from highways to waterways safer, faster, more reliable, and modern. But did you know – although the federal government plays an outsized role in issuing infrastructure permits, it actually owns and funds very few projects? Virtually 100 percent of major infrastructure projects in the U.S. require some form of federal permitting, slowing down the process of which skyscrapers are built, bridges constructed, and highways paved. The U.S. built the Empire State Building in just one year, but now it can take up to 10 years just to get a project off the ground. That’s why President Trump’s infrastructure plan aims to cut the permitting process down to 2 years – so that projects can be built more swiftly, and meet the needs of you and your families in the timeframe you deserve. Although the federal government plays an outsized role in permitting, it actually owns and funds very little infrastructure in the United States. The federal government funds about 14 percent of all of the country’s infrastructure needs, and owns even less. Spending from the private sector and state and local governments make up the other 86 percent. That’s why President Trump’s plan aims to incentivize these groups – private companies, state and local governments – to take ownership of their infrastructure projects. His initiative will delegate authority to states and communities, and trust them to make decisions to meet their own unique infrastructure needs. The President’s plan will also encourage these entities by awarding project sponsors incentives for demonstrating innovative infrastructure approaches that will generate outside investment, with increased performance and shortened timelines. It will award federal money based on the merits of these proposals." States and localities really do know best. It’s time for Washington to get out of the way, and instead of build bridges to nowhere, let the people who live in their communities decide what projects they need to better the quality of their lives (The White House - posted 2/12)

WHITE HOUSE INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN GUTS LONG-DISTANCE AMTRAK: The White House today released a disappointing package of infrastructure initiatives and transportation budget cuts, including once again advancing plans to gut Amtrak’s long-distance services by cutting $757 million from the annual Amtrak grant. The Administration contends that the money needed to operate the National Network after the cuts can come from the states served, but also suggests that devolving costs to the States “is only one tool in the menu of options for reform the Administration will be exploring to improve the current system and reduce Federal subsidies in the Long Distance network.” The Rail Passengers Association is asking its members to take action immediately to stave off these draconian cuts to vital National Network services. RPA has set up an online tool to permit riders and members alike to let the White House know directly that they disagree with these proposed cuts. Visit www.railpassengers.org/whitehousebudget. to take action NOW! Donald Trump campaigned on a message of bringing America's infrastructure into the 21st Century. He specifically cited passenger rail, saying it was embarrassing how far behind the US has fallen compared with China, and promising to close that gap. Today’s new budget proposal, however, calls for the virtual elimination of Amtrak's National Network, slashing the railroad’s budget roughly in half, from $1.4 billion to $738 million. “They know full well that asking states to absorb more costs is not feasible, and the default choice will be to drop service,” said RPA President Jim Mathews in response to the budget. This approach failed before, because the long-distance train network serves markets that overlap on state corridors. The question of what entity pays for which service got messy when the same approach was tried on what would become the Lake Shore Limited in 1971 – the end result being a collapse of service after only nine months. Another proposed item on the “menu” involves phasing out first class sleeping cars. Sleeping car fares cross-subsidize coach services on long distance trains. The federal cost of moving one person one mile in a sleeping car is less than it is in coach. This change would actually worsen the financials of the national network. If funding for Amtrak's National Network is cut, more than 220 communities will lose service, and more than 140 million Americans will be left at the station. These are mostly smaller and rural towns, and they don't have airports or Megabuses. “Just because these towns are small doesn't make them fly-over country, though” Mathews continued. “They are the cities and towns that voted for [Trump] because they felt disconnected from the American dream, and they deserve a government that invests in them. Amtrak provides that connection, letting these Americans access critical services, jobs, and family.” Other cuts include the popular and effective grant program known as TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, which so far has injected a little more than $5 billion into transportation investments nationwide. “The move to eliminate TIGER grants flies in the face of the stated goal of both the White House’s budget and Mr. Trump’s infrastructure proposals, which are ostensibly aimed at encouraging more private investment,” Mathews added. “In some ways, TIGER is the ultimate public-private partnership, attracting nearly $4 of additional investment for every TIGER grant dollar awarded.” The Rail Passengers Association continues to urge that Mr. Trump fulfill his promise to rebuild and modernize America's rail network, and just as they did last summer, RPA members will #Rally4Trains at stations nationwide to show their support for a true national rail service. (Rail Passengers Association - posted 2/12)

AAR STATEMENT ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S INFRASTURE PRINCIPLES: Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), issued the following statement in reaction to infrastructure principles released today by the Trump administration. “The private freight rail industry commends the Trump administration for formally beginning the discussion on infrastructure legislation with this document today. The sector particularly welcomes the efforts to streamline the federal permitting processes, including in the proposal's attempt to codify Executive Orders into law while also strengthening existing processes. At its core, however, the most important aspect to any such package remains the integrity of the Highway Trust Fund. Policymakers should make every effort to return surface transportation funding to a truly equitable, user-pay system as originally designed." (AAR - posted 2/12)

TORONTO'S METROLINX PROPOSES 12 NAME CHANGES FOR FINCH WEST, HURONTARIO LRT STOPS: Metrolinx is inviting the public to share their thoughts on proposed name changes for some of the Finch West and Hurontario LRT stops — a move that will help avoid duplication and rider confusion. Metrolinx has established a set of best practices for transit stop naming principles which are being used to determine the final stop names for the new LRT lines. The planned construction of hundreds of kilometres of new rapid transit in the region over the coming decades requires a consistent strategy to make the network easy to navigate and to avoid customer confusion. Metrolinx’s stop-naming principles (“simple, logical, durable/relevant, self-locating and unique”) will help achieve this. Metrolinx is soliciting feedback on the proposed new stop names for the LRTs being built on Finch West in Toronto and on Hurontario in Peel Region. From January 29 to February 12, 2018 the public will be able to give their feedback online at metrolinxengage.com. The Finch West LRT will be an 11-kilometre, 18 stops light rail service connecting people from the TTC Finch West Subway Station at Keele Street to Humber College. The Finch West LRT will connect with TTC, GO, Miway, Viva, and Züm transit services at the terminal Humber College stop. The naming principles require changes for four Finch West stops. The Hurontario LRT will be a 20-kilometre, 22 stops light rail service connecting people from the Port Credit GO station to the Brampton Gateway Terminal. The Hurontario LRT will connect with the Port Credit and Cooksville GO stations, Mississauga Transitway, MiWay and Züm transit lines. Eight Hurontario stops require some changes to avoid any duplication or confusion. To see the proposed new stop names and participate in the online public consultation, please visit . metrolinxengage.com. (Metrolinx - posted 2/09)

NEARLY IDENTICAL PROBABLE CAUSES FOR 2 COMMUTER RAIL ACCIDENTS DRIVE SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS: The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday determined that two commuter railroad terminal accidents in the New York area were caused by engineer fatigue resulting from undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea. The Sept. 29, 2016, accident on the New Jersey Transit railroad at Hoboken, New Jersey, killed one person, injured 110, and resulted in major damage to the station. The Jan. 4, 2017, accident on the Long Island Rail Road at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, New York, injured 108 people. Both accidents involved trains that struck end-of-track bumping posts and crashed into stations The NTSB found the two accidents had “almost identical” probable causes and safety issues. The board also determined that these safety issues were not unique to these two properties, but exist throughout the country at many intercity passenger and commuter passenger train terminals. In a statement issued in August 2017 the NTSB expressed its “disappointment” with the withdrawal of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stating, “Obstructive sleep apnea has been in the probable cause of 10 highway and rail accidents investigated by the NTSB in the past 17 years … Medical fitness and fatigue, two of the NTSB’s 10 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements for 2017 – 2018, are tied to obstructive sleep apnea.” “The traveling public deserves alert operators,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “That is not too much to ask.” When operating a train into a terminating track, the engineer’s actions, or lack thereof, solely determine whether the train stops before the end of the track. According to the FRA there are currently no mechanisms installed in the U.S. that will automatically stop a train at the end of the track if the engineer is incapacitated, inattentive or disengaged. Some railroads have overspeed capabilities, including New Jersey Transit and the LIRR. However, as shown in these two accidents, once the engineer slowed the train to the prescribed speed, the system did not stop the trains before they reached the end of the track. In addition to recommending safety-sensitive personnel be screened for obstructive sleep apnea, the board recommended the use of technology, such as positive train control, in terminal stations and improving the effectiveness of system safety program plans to improve terminal operations. The NTSB made two recommendations to New Jersey Transit, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (the parent company of the Long Island Rail Road) and two to the Federal Railroad Administration. “Today’s new recommendations, if acted upon, have the potential to eliminate end-of-track collisions,’’ Sumwalt said. “That translates to protection for passengers on trains, and for people standing on terminal platforms.” The complete accident report will be available in several weeks. The findings, probable cause, safety recommendations, Chairman Sumwalt’s prepared remarks and PowerPoint presentations used in Tuesday’s board meeting are all available at URL https://go.usa.gov/xnscj. The New Jersey Transit Hoboken accident docket, containing more than 1,100 pages of supporting factual material, is available, click here. . The Long Island Rail Road Brooklyn accident docket, containing more than 1,400 pages of supporting factual material, is available, click here. . (NTSB - - posted 2/08)

RESEAU ELECTRIQUE METROPOLITAN PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT: CDPQ Infra announced today the official launch of its project to build largest public transportation network in Greater Montréal in 50 years: the Réseau express métropolitain (REM). CDPQ Infra is a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and is responsible for developing and operating infrastructure projects, including the Réseau express métropolitain (REM). The REM is a new, integrated 67-km public transit network intended to link downtown Montréal, the South Shore, the West Island (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue), the North Shore (Laval and Deux-Montagnes) and the airport through an entirely automated and electric light rail transit (LRT) system, Less than two years after the project was announced, the REM becomes a reality:
  • Construction will start in April.
  • Initial testing will be conducted at the end of 2020.
  • The first riders will begin boarding in the summer of 2021
(CDPQ Infra- posted 2/08)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR JANUARY AND THE WEEK ENDING FEBRUARY 3, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 3, 2018, as well as volumes for January 2018. U.S. railroads originated 1,217,405 carloads in January 2018, down 3.4 percent, or 42,431 carloads, from January 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,310,141 containers and trailers in January 2018, up 3.5 percent, or 44,183 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in January 2018 were 2,527,546, up 0.1 percent, or 1,752 carloads and intermodal units from January 2017. In January 2018, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2017. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 3,498 carloads or 3.8 percent; petroleum & petroleum products, up 3,196 carloads or 6.4 percent; and lumber & wood products, up 1,167 carloads or 8.0 percent. Commodities that saw declines in January 2018 from January 2017 included: coal, down 25,083 carloads or 5.8 percent; motor vehicles & parts, down 8,372 carloads or 10.1 percent; and grain, down 6,917 carloads or 5.8 percent.? “Recent stock market gyrations remind all of us that, when it comes to things related to the economy, conditions can change quickly. For now, though, rail volumes are not flashing strong warning signs," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “In January, intermodal picked up where it left off last year, when it set a new annual record, and several carload categories showed gains for the month. To be sure, we could do without January's sharp fall in motor vehicle and coal carloads, among others, but we're hopeful that the basic economy remains on a firm footing and that the recent turmoil in the markets simply represents an adjustment to potential interest rate changes." Excluding coal, carloads were down 17,348 carloads, or 2.1 percent, in January 2018 from January 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 10,431 carloads, or 1.5 percent. Week Ending February 3, 2018 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 547,993 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending February 3 were 265,157 carloads, down 1.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 282,836 containers and trailers, up 6.3 percent compared to 2017. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included metallic ores and metals, up 1,147 carloads, to 20,984; nonmetallic minerals, up 773 carloads, to 32,690; and chemicals, up 736 carloads, to 33,443. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 2,796 carloads, to 89,644; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,354 carloads, to 16,329; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,176 carloads, to 16,165. North American rail volume for the week ending February 3, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 364,307 carloads, down 1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 370,608 intermodal units, up 6.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 734,915 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first five weeks of 2018 was 3,408,718 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.3 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 78,488 carloads for the week, down 2 percent, and 70,646 intermodal units, up 7.9 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first five weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 695,195 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 20,662 carloads for the week, up 8.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,126 intermodal units, up 3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first five weeks of 2018 was 185,977 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.9 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 2/07)

ACELA TRAIN UNCOUPLES AT TRACK SPEED. At approximately 7:00 a.m. today Amtrak Acela train 2150, en route from Washington, DC to Boston uncoupled at trackside in Havre De Grace, Maryland. The train was cruising along at 124 miles per hour when the train separated into two sectiona. The 52 passengers on board were transferred to Northeast Regional Train 180. The cause of the train uncoupling is under investigation. (Randy Kotuby, Alex Mayes - posted 2/06)

MASSDOT'S SOUTH COAST RAIL PROJECT PROCEEDING: The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced that the South Coast Rail project is proceeding with the filing of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office. The DSEIR document analyzes only the new elements proposed as part of Phase 1 that were not previously analyzed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)/Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR). "Lieutenant Governor Polito and I are committed to following through on decades of promises and today's filing is a vital step toward bringing reliable, affordable rail service to the South Coast," said Governor Charlie Baker. "The Baker-Polito Administration is filing this document with MEPA because the Commonwealth is committed to moving forward to provide commuter rail service for the South Coast as soon as possible," said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "In the words of Governor Baker last month in the State of the Commonwealth speech, 'After more than 3 decades of lip service, we're going to make commuter rail from Fall River and New Bedford to Boston a reality.' With the filing of the DSEIR and other documents, the day gets closer when people will be able to have a one-seat ride on a train between Boston and the South Coast, connecting them to jobs, schools, businesses, and cultural opportunities, and taking vehicles off the highways to help reduce greenhouse gases." Phase 1 of South Coast Rail will provide commuter rail service by extending service from the Middleborough/Lakeville Line to New Bedford, Fall River, and Taunton using existing active freight rail corridors. As proposed for the Full Build Project, and analyzed in the South Coast Rail FEIS/FEIR, service will be provided on the Southern Triangle, which connects Fall River and New Bedford to Cotley Junction in Taunton. The new primary element to be included in Phase 1 is the use of the existing Middleborough Secondary freight line to connect Taunton to the Middleborough Main Line. "Re-establishing passenger rail service to Boston is one of the key infrastructure investments that will enable Greater New Bedford to become more economically competitive," said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. "I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration's thoughtful approach to this complex and long-anticipated project, which will offer more reasons to live work and invest in our city." "With the submission of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report to MEPA, the Baker-Polito Administration is proving its commitment to making South Coast Rail a reality for the City of Fall River and the region," said City of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II. "The phasing puts us on a much faster track towards building a critical rail connection and the economic development and quality of life benefits we have been waiting for all these years, while MassDOT continues to move ahead with all the hard work that needs to happen to make the Middleborough Alternative a reality. I am pleased to see such significant progress." "Since day one my priority has been immediate construction in the Southern Triangle to finally connect New Bedford to South Station via commuter rail," said Senator Mark C. Montigny, who has led Senate efforts to secure the project's bonding authorizations and legislation directing construction in the Southern Triangle. "I am pleased to see Governor Baker and his administration has prioritized rail access to New Bedford and are making progress. Several hurdles remain before we can finally rest assured that construction can commence and be completed in time for hardworking taxpayers and commuters to board a train in 2022, but today is a major step in the right direction." "This signals a tremendous move forward for a long-awaited project in a deserving region. The economic development potential will be realized much sooner with Phase 1," said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues. "I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration's commitment to the South Coast Rail Project, and its recognition of the impact this will have on our community." "Today's MassDOT filing of an environmental supplement with the state's MEPA office is a truly significant day in our efforts to get early, cheaper and real commuter rail service for Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton," said State Representative William M. Straus. "The data in this filing shows that providing interim service now for our region by using the Middleborough Line puts people on trains at least ten years sooner, at one-third the cost and without a single wetlands variance being required. This is a creative approach and one which Governor Baker has been willing to take in order to provide the South Coast with the transportation choices we are entitled to." "This is an incredibly significant milestone in the restoration of commuter rail service to the South Coast. This report shows that Phase 1 of the South Coast Rail project will get our residents from point A to point B while also meeting the Commonwealth's environmental standards," said Hugh Dunn of the South Coast Development Partnership. "We are encouraged by the rate at which this project is moving, and would like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration and our legislative delegation for their continued support for the project." "The filing of the South Coast Rail draft environmental report by MassDOT is a welcome sign of the great progress that is being made in restoring commuter rail service to the South Coast," said Rail to Boston Coalition Chair Paul Chasse. "Commuter rail is a long-awaited need for the underserved Gateway Cities of Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton. The phased approach will expedite this critical link to the growth and prosperity of the region and bring employment opportunities to the people of the South Coast. As a group of major business and community organizations advocating for South Coast Rail, the Rail to Boston Coalition commends the Baker-Polito Administration for its commitment to implementing South Coast Rail and applauds MassDOT for taking the necessary steps to move the project forward." Last year, facing a substantially longer time line and sharply higher costs for the Stoughton Electric Alternative, MassDOT began analyzing a phased approach for the SCR project to achieve passenger rail service faster than the "Full Build" option. This strategy required a Notice of Project Change, which was filed with MEPA in March 2017. The Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs issued a certification on May 26, 2017, directing MassDOT to conduct additional analysis related to the phasing and to submit a DSEIR summarizing this work. Conducting a thorough Alternatives Analysis, MassDOT screened 7 service alternatives and arrived at the Phase 1 alternative. Meanwhile, preliminary engineering design work has continued and will continue on the Full Build of the Stoughton Electric Alternative. MassDOT's phased approach to SCR will give all passengers a one-seat ride from Fall River and New Bedford into Boston rather than having to transfer trains. Phase 1 of the project will also build 56% of the rail miles needed for the Full Build Stoughton Electric Alternative, establishing a foundation for this service while the Full Build's complexities continue to be addressed. In addition, Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) performed ridership analyses using the FTA-approved model, finding that the projected ridership at the new stations under Phase 1 will be 41% of the Full Build ridership at one-third of the cost. CTPS projected daily one-way trips at approximately 3,220 and one-way trips per year totaling approximately 837,200. It is estimated that Phase 1 riders will save a total of approximately 60 minutes each weekday traveling by train when compared to traveling by automobile to and from Boston. Data show that 21% of Fall River residents and 22% of New Bedford residents do not have an automobile, making train service all the more important to residents of these communities. Phase 1 will serve 72% of the Environmental Justice (EJ) population served by the Full Build. 86% of the EJ population in New Bedford and about 50% of the EJ population in Fall River reside within a half mile of a new Phase 1 station. The DSEIR analyzes new project elements associated with Phase 1, including improvements to track infrastructure on the Middleborough Secondary (an active freight line), Southern Triangle construction, a new station constructed in Middleborough at Pilgrim Junction, a new station in East Taunton, and modifications to previously studied stations at Freetown and Fall River. Other elements include the extension of Middleborough diesel service and an anticipated service start in late 2022. Phase 1 service will use the Middleborough fleet, including diesel locomotives. New bi-level coaches will accommodate additional riders. Phase 1 capital costs are estimated at $935 million, 85% of which is for the Southern Triangle (Cotley Junction in Taunton, south to Fall River and New Bedford). Full Build capital costs are estimated at $3.2 billion with a service launch no sooner than 2030. Copies of the DSEIR have been distributed to 36 libraries in the region, with briefings continuing for local leaders, stakeholder groups, and the Interagency Coordinating Group. In addition, a public meeting will be held on the DSEIR at 6:30 PM, Tuesday, March 6, at the Claire T. Carney Library, Grand Reading Room, at UMass Dartmouth. On Wednesday, February 7, the DSEIR is scheduled to be published in the issue of The Environmental Monitor. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments on the DSEIR by sending comments via letter, postcard, or email to the Secretary of Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, or by participating in a public meeting. (MBTA - posted 2/06)

MBTA’s FMCB AWARDS ON-CALL COMMUTER RAIL RIGHT-OF-WAY CONSTRUCTION SERVICES CONTRACT: Today the MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) awarded the On-Call Commuter Rail Right-of-Way Construction Services contract to SPS New England, Inc., in the amount of $17,040,846. This contract provides on-call construction services to support the urgent right-of-way repair and reconstruction needs of the MBTA across the commuter rail system, resulting in enhanced on-time performance and customer safety. The On-Call Contract does not relieve Keolis Commuter Services of its contractual obligations under their operating agreement, but addresses the capital maintenance projects and capital improvement projects that fall outside of Keolis’s routine maintenance scope. Once the condition of an asset can no longer be addressed through routine maintenance, it becomes a capital maintenance project and is handled through an MBTA capital construction project. The construction scope includes:
  • providing construction-related services on an on-call basis to support state of good repair/reconstruction needs of the MBTA
  • right-of-way repairs and reconstruction work that include drainage, wall, concrete, and platform repairs
  • work anticipated to be performed through the MBTA service area in Massachusetts
  • work assigned on a project-by-project basis, as directed by the MBTA, utilizing bid items and contractor unit prices
This project was advertised on December 6, 2017, with the bid opening on January 16, 2018. Seven bids were received with the lowest bidder as SPS New England, Inc., in the amount of $17,040,846. (MBTA - posted 2/05)

PORT OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY SETS NEW CARGO VOLUME RECORD FOR 2017: Completion of the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project last June helped drive cargo volumes in the Port of New York and New Jersey to new record heights in 2017 by shattering the existing annual cargo volume record, set in 2015, by 5.3 percent. During 2017, the port handled 6,710,817 TEUs (a 20-foot-long cargo container that can easily be transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trucks and trains), a 5.3 percent increase over the 6,371,720 TEUs handled in 2015 when the previous annual record was established. The record volumes allowed the port to maintain its position as the third largest port in the United States with 15.4 percent market share and the busiest on the East Coast with a 32 percent market share. Even with the increase in cargo volume since 2015, the particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions created by port activities have gone down by more than 14 percent – equivalent to removing at least 104,000 passenger cars off the street per year – due to the port’s Clean Air Strategy environmental programs. To view all of the 2017 port cargo data, click here. The record cargo volumes will help build on the significant jobs and economic activity already supported by port activities. According to a recent study using 2016 data prepared by the New York Shipping Association, the port supports 400,000 jobs, a 35 percent increase over the 296,000 jobs reported four years ago. The port also is responsible for $25.7 billion in personal income and $64.8 billion in business income. In addition to regional economic growth, perhaps the biggest driving force in achieving the new cargo volume record was the June 2017 completion of the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project. The project raised the clearance under the crossing from 151 feet to 215 feet, allowing ships as large as 18,000 TEUs to travel under it to port facilities in Newark, Elizabeth and Staten Island. Following the raising of the bridge, one of the port’s major shipping lines – CMA CGM – began a new service to the port using primarily 14,000 TEU vessels. Since the project’s completion, the port has set new monthly records for cargo volume activity every month through the remainder of the year. “The investment we made to raise the Bayonne Bridge is clearly paying dividends by driving up cargo volumes and significantly boosting the jobs and economic activity the port generates for the region,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Our goal moving forward is to continue to work with all port stakeholders to efficiently and effectively handle greater volumes of cargo destined for our port.” “Our mission is to provide the infrastructure and the resources our port needs to remain a premier gateway for shippers, including the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, and shippers are taking notice and making decisions based on what we have achieved,” Port Department Director Molly Campbell said, “But for us to retain their business, we must continue to strive to do better and consistently look for ways to improve port performance.” ExpressRail, the Port Authority’s ship-to-rail system serving New York and New Jersey marine terminals, also set a new record in 2017, handling 567,649 container lifts, a 5.1 percent increase over the previous record of 540,149 container lifts set in 2016. In 2017, ExpressRail accounted for 14.8 percent of all container lifts at the port. The Port Authority’s goal is for the ExpressRail system to account for 20 percent of container lifts by 2020. To achieve this goal, the agency has invested more than $600 million in its intermodal rail infrastructure – and the upcoming completion of the ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal rail facility, currently under construction, will allow for full on-dock rail capability servicing the GCT-Bayonne marine terminal in Port Jersey. The new ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal facility will be operational in December 2018. The completion of the ExpressRail Port Jersey will add 250,000 lifts per year in rail capacity to the port, yielding a total port-wide capacity of 1,500,000 lifts per year. With each rail lift displacing the need for 1.5 truck trips, the ExpressRail system is a key component to reducing truck congestion and emissions at the port. At ExpressRail Port Jersey alone, emission reductions resulting from the switch from truck to rail transport, over the life of the intermodal facility, are expected to total 415 tons of nitrogen oxide and 108 tons of particulate matter. It also will eliminate 375,000 trucks from crowded highways annually and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 18,300 tons annually. In addition to containerized cargo, the port also reported a 14.3 percent increase in vehicles imported into the port’s public berths – from 505,151 handled in 2016 to 577,223 handled in 2017. To attract new vehicle business to the port, the Port Authority has had a targeted incentive program in place since 2014 to attract new automobile manufacturers and provide incentives to existing ones to increase the port’s vehicle volumes. The 2017 port cargo record was fueled by a 5.7 percent increase over 2015 in import TEUs, from 3,214,338 import loaded containers in 2015 to 3,396,469 import loaded containers in 2017. In 2017, China remained the top import country serving the port, with 1,046,473 import TEUs. Following China is India with 210,811 import TEUs, and Germany with 197,363 import TEUs. The top import commodities are furniture, appliances and beverages. There were 2,011 container vessel calls in 2017, down from 2,184 calls in 2016 and 2,251 in 2015. The fewer vessel calls illustrate that much of the containerized cargo coming into the port is arriving in larger more environmentally friendly ships, a trend the port expects will continue now that the Bayonne Bridge has been raised. (The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - posted 2/05)

AMTRAK 91 DERAILS IN SOUTH CAROLINA: Amtrak Train 91, the Silver Star, operating between New York and Miami, crashed head on with parked CSX freight Q211-01 at Cayce, South Carolina at approximately 2:35 a.m. today. A switch was left in the open position, diverting the Amtrak train from the mainline track onto a siding. There, it collided with the freight train's locomotives head-on, resulting in severe damage to the locomotives along with several railcars on both trains derailing. There were 8 crew members and approximately 139 passengers on board the Silver Star while the CSX was unoccupied. Early reports are that two perished in the derailment and over 100 were injuried. Approximately 5000 gallons of fuel leaked from the locomotives. More details as they become available. (posted 2/04)

PORT AUTHORITY TO BEGIN WORK ON SECOND PHASE OF REVIEW FOR CROSS HARBOR FREIGHT MOVEMENT PROGRAM: The Port Authority announced today that it has awarded an agreement to a consultant for the second phase of an environmental review for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program. The review, expected to take up to three years, will perform a more detailed analysis of the environmental effects and potential mitigation measures for two preferred alternatives identified in the prior Tier 1 study to move freight across New York Harbor. Under the $23.7 million agreement, Cross Harbor Partners, a joint venture of STV Incorporated/AKRF Inc., will undertake the Tier II Environmental Impact Statement, which will closely examine two preferred options – the construction of a cross harbor freight tunnel and the expansion of the Port Authority’s existing railcar float operation. The rail tunnel alternative calls for construction of a freight tunnel under the New York Harbor that would run approximately four miles from Jersey City, NJ to Brooklyn, NY. The railcar float alternative would greatly expand the existing carfloat system, currently operated by New York New Jersey Rail, LLC, a wholly owned entity of the Port Authority since 2008, and would include new transfer bridges, carfloats, locomotives and tracks. The review, which will include extensive outreach to all stakeholders, including elected officials and the public, will provide the Port Authority and other regional agencies with cost and benefits of each alternative to help reduce roadway congestion attributed to goods movement across the New York/New Jersey Harbor. “We need to explore potential solutions now to improve mobility and reduce the region’s reliance on trucks to move goods critical to regional economic growth,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “This initiative will take a close look at two alternatives that could help achieve that goal in the future.” “With a projected 40 percent increase in freight movement by 2035, delays in goods movement will only worsen unless we begin to develop an optimum plan now that will provide the shipping and distribution industry with attractive alternatives to shipping by truck,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Our goal is to explore these alternatives and come up with cost-effective approaches to future freight movement.” “New York City is the only major city in the world not directly connected to its country’s national freight rail network – and that is something we must address,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). “For too long, New York City and the entire metropolitan region has had an over-reliance on trucks – clogging our roadways, making consumer goods more expensive and raising the cost of doing business, harming our environment, endangering our health, and creating real safety and national security vulnerabilities. Without this key rail link, more than one billion tons of freight move through the greater New York region each year primarily by truck, with truck congestion adding an estimated $2.5 billion annually to the cost of delivering goods to consumers and businesses. Today, with the start of the Tier II EIS, which will engage in a deeper examination of a cross-harbor freight tunnel identified as necessary in Tier I, we are taking a major step forward to finally address the region’s serious and growing problems with inefficient goods movement.” The Tier II study will help Port Authority leadership determine if one or both alternatives provide sufficient benefits to justify their costs. The recommended alternative or alternatives would require additional funding for the next phase of development, which entails preliminary engineering.(The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - posted 2/02)

CONWAY SCENIC RAILROAD SOLD: The Conway Scenic Railroad, located in North Conway, New Hampshire, has been sold to Conway Scenic Railroad to Profile Mountain Holdings Corp, led by President David Swirk. Swirk was formely affiliated with the Massachusetts based Grafton & Upton Railroad. Former Conway Scenic Railroad owners Dot and Russ Seybold acquired the railroad in 1999. (posted 2/01)

NTSB LAUNCHES GO-TEAM TO INVESTIGATE YESTERDAY'S AMTRAK ACCIDENT: The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a full go-team to investigate yesterday’s grade-crossing accident involving an Amtrak passenger train and a truck near Crozet, VA. Senior highway safety investigator Pete Kotowski has been designated as the investigator-in-charge and will lead a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in human performance, highway factors, survival factors, vehicle factors, truck operations, train operations and grade crossing signals. The NTSB’s Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations and the Office of Research and Engineering are also sending investigators. (NTSB - posted 2/01)

TRAIN CARRYING GOP LAWMAKERS HITS A GARBAGE TRUCK: This morning an Amtrak charter train carry Republican members of Congress to an annual retreat at the Greenbrier Resort collided with a garbage truck near Crozet, Virginia. The truck's driver died in the collision and heritage locomotive P42 145 suffered damage. Passengers on board were shaken and a few suffered minor injuries. Passengers completed their travel to the Greenbrier Resort, in White Sulphur Springs, Wwest Virginia, by bus. The collision is under investigation by local law enforcement. (Randy Kotuby - posted 1/31)

WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 27, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 27, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 543,515 carloads and intermodal units, up 4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending January 27 were 260,993 carloads, up 1.1 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 282,522 containers and trailers, up 6.9 percent compared to 2017.?? Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 2,021 carloads, to 32,672; petroleum and petroleum products, up 1,356 carloads, to 11,506; and miscellaneous carloads, up 639 carloads, to 10,964. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included motor vehicles and parts, down 1,084 carloads, to 17,729; coal, down 588 carloads, to 86,586; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 265 carloads, to 15,960. For the first four weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 952,248 carloads, down 3.9 percent from the same point last year; and 1,027,305 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first four weeks of 2018 was 1,979,553 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.6 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending January 27, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 361,535 carloads, up 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 368,373 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 729,908 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first four weeks of 2018 was 2,673,803 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.4 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 78,844 carloads for the week, down 1.3 percent, and 67,523 intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first four weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 546,061 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.4 percent.? Mexican railroads reported 21,698 carloads for the week, down 1.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,328 intermodal units, up 2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first four weeks of 2018 was 148,189 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 1/31)

GOVERNOR MURPHY NOMINATES KEVIN S. CORBETT TO LEAD NJ TRANSIT AS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy today announced the nomination of Kevin S. Corbett to serve as the Executive Director of NJ Transit, the beleaguered transportation agency relied upon by hundreds of thousands of New Jersey commuters. Governor Murphy is calling on NJ Transit’s board to take up the matter at its next meeting. Corbett currently serves as Vice President of Cross Services at AECOM, one of the world’s largest transportation and infrastructure companies. At AECOM, Corbett has had an oversight role on critical projects including Amtrak’s Gateway Project, the first phase of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway project, work on New York Penn Station, and PATH restoration after Superstorm Sandy. “We can no longer continue to accept the dismal business as usual at an agency that so many commuters throughout New Jersey depend on,” Governor Murphy said. “We cannot continue to wake up in the morning fearing reliability and safety on our commutes. I am confident that Kevin’s leadership can help turn NJ Transit into a transportation system that our commuters value and trust.” Last week, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order mandating an audit of NJ Transit to determine inefficiencies and areas where the agency can improve. As Executive Director, Corbett will help implement these recommendations and rework the agency’s finances, leadership structure, customer experience, and safety measures. “It is an honor to be nominated to lead NJ Transit, and I am excited to get to work and make the agency safer and more reliable for New Jersey residents,” Corbett said. “Our location is a tremendous asset, one that creates many opportunities for transportation. I look forward to starting the process of rebuilding NJ Transit so that we can reach our enormous untapped potential. I am excited to work with Governor Murphy on making his vision for NJ Transit a reality.” Before joining AECOM, Corbett served as the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Empire State Development Corporation and Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development. In those roles, Corbett was responsible for New York State’s economic development programs and projects, including the redevelopment of Times Square, Moynihan Station, and the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park. After September 11th, 2001, Corbett oversaw the economic recovery of Lower Manhattan. Corbett currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Regional Plan Association as co-chair of its Transportation Committee. He also serves as the board president of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, on the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and as a chairman of The New York League of Conservation Voters. Corbett was a fellow at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and serves as a Blue and Gold Officer for the U.S. Naval Academy. He and his wife Siobhan have three children and live in Mendham (New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy - posted 1/30)

CSS TO LEASE FIVE MILES OF CN TRACK IN GARY, INDIANA: Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad (CSS) will expand business opportunities at a strategic location in Gary, Ind., through a lease of five miles of track from CN rail. The lease of track on Gary’s northeast side, effective Jan. 22, is designed to improve interchange between South Shore and CN, and provide improved shipping options for customers by offering a higher frequency of service. “We see this as part of our longstanding commitment to customers by ensuring efficient interchange with all our Chicago-area connections,” said Eric T. Jakubowski, vice president and chief commercial officer for CSS owner Anacostia Rail Holdings. “Gary has long been a great place for us to do business and this lease will make it possible for us to do an even better job.” (CSS - posted 1/30)

NEW YORK & ATLANTIC RAILWAY (NYA) STARTS A SLEEP APNEAR PROGRAM: New York & Atlantic Railway (NYA) started an Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) program January 23, 2018. Nearly 40 NYA locomotive engineers and conductors in New York City and Long Island, New York will be screened for OSA and, if needed, will receive treatment under the support and care of the railway's medical team. NYA President James Bonner said, "The detection and remediation of OSA will positively impact employee health and improve employee alertness for safety sensitive jobs." OSA is a sleep disorder that causes fragmented sleep that often results in sleepiness, fatigue, and is associated with potentially serious health issues. NYA is the first short-line freight railroad in the United States to institute an Obstructive Sleep Apnea screening and treatment program, according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. NYA's medical services and safety teams will be working with Rocky Mountain Sleep Disorders Center to institute this OSA program. "The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen – Long Island General Committee of Adjustment, the union that represents NYA's engineers and conductors, has been supportive and helpful as NYA implements this valuable program," Bonner added. (NYAR, Randk Kotuby - posted 1/29)

PORT CHESTER METRO-NORTH STATION GETS A LIFT: The Village of Port Chester Metro-North Railroad Station is now accessible for all, thanks to a recently-completed capital project by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). On the Connecticut-bound side of the tracks, an elevator and redesigned stairwell provide a new means of access from Westchester Avenue directly to the platform. On the New York-bound side, a new ramp has been constructed adjacent to an existing staircase, which provides direct access to the train station parking lot from Westchester Avenue. Both of these improvements help the station to meet standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). “These improvements are a welcome and long-awaited addition to the train station that Port Chester residents, visitors and business-owners rely upon year-round to access all that Port Chester and the region has to offer” states current Port Chester Mayor Richard Falanka. “It is a great thing that all riders, regardless of age or ability, can now access and enjoy this important transportation hub just steps from Port Chester’s downtown central business district.” These new amenities are a culmination of a decades-long partnering effort by the Village, local advocates, and Metro-North to make upgrades to the station focused on equity and ease of use. “Metro-North is committed to making the railroad as accessible as possible to all of our customers,” said Cathy Rinaldi, Acting President of Metro-North. “Now customers who use such mobility aids as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes – not to mention parents with strollers, people carrying heavy bags and anyone in need of a lift – can be assured of traveling to and from the Port Chester station with greater ease.” On Thursday, January 25th, the Village and Metro-North will host a ribbon-cutting on site to help celebrate the partnership and commemorate the grand opening of the new elevator and ramp. All those interested in attending this event should meet at the elevator on Westchester Avenue at 11:00 a.m. to hear from those who had a key role in making the project happen. This event marks just one of many projects underway during the Village’s 150th anniversary of incorporation in 2018. As Mayor Falanka states, “It’s Port Chester’s time.” This is certainly a good start. (DL - posted 1/26)

RENEWAL OF THE PERMANENT EXHIBITION IN THE EXPORAIL'S GRAND GALLERY: Jean-Claude Poissant, MP for La Prairie, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced $210,000 in funding for Exporail, the rail transport museum in Saint-Constant. The funds allow for the renewal of the permanent exhibition of its Grand Gallery, whose inauguration is planned for 2019. Awarded by the Government of Canada through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, this amount will enable the museum to revitalize its equipment and improve its digital museographical and audiovisual technology. The project will also help to increase awareness about the exhibition and the museum (Canadian Heritage - posted 1/26)

DELAWARE-LACKAWANNA POCONO MOUNTAIN ROUTE UPDATE: The Delaware-Lackawanna is not walking away from, abandoning, or going to let the trackage through the Water Gap become a rusted, weed-grown right-of-way. The railroad still has customers at Gravel Place; National Electrical Carbon Products and Royal Chemical, and to the east there is WestRock Paper in Delaware Water Gap, PA. Service to these smaller-use customers will be provided with the highest standards of the "Pocono Mountain Route." This service will see smaller trains through the Gap at a minimum of once a week to service WestRock, using Slateford Jct. as the run-around. The revered symbols PT98/PT97 have been “officially” retired; all Pocono Mountain Route trains will now be symboled PT75 round-trip to the mill, Bestway, or WestRock and onward through the Delaware Water Gap to runaround the train at Slateford. The D-L still views the entire Pocono Main as a through route, and continues to work on development plans in the area. (DL - posted 1/25)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT ACQUIRING STATE-OF-THE-ART, NEXT GENERATION SUBWAY CARS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board voted today to approve the purchase of 535 state-of-the-art, next-generation R211 subway cars for use on the “B Division,” which are the lettered routes, as well as the Staten Island Railway. The funding for this project will be provided by the Federal Transit Administration. The MTA Board voted to award the contract totaling $1.4 billion to Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc. The contract includes options for up to 1,077 additional cars, for a total acquisition of up to 1,612 cars at a cost of $3.7 billion, pending future Board approval. For the initial, base contract, Kawasaki will design and deliver 440 new closed-end cars for the B Division, 75 closed-end cars for Staten Island Railway, and 20 innovative open gangway cars as part of a pilot program to MTA New York City Transit. The R211 cars feature 58-inch wide door openings, which are eight inches wider than standard doors on existing cars. The expanded doors are designed to reduce delays and speed up train movement by speeding boarding and reducing the amount of time trains sit in stations. Cars delivered to the B Division will be compatible with an advanced signaling system known as Communications-Based Train Control, enabling New York City Transit to deliver more frequent and reliable service by operating trains more closely together. “It is imperative that we provide a first-in-class subway car that can live up to the rigor and expectations of New Yorkers,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “As part of our commitment to modernize the subway system, we have expanded and accelerated this contract to provide more reliable, more comfortable train cars that are easier to board and exit and provide more useful real-time information to riders.” Some of the R211 cars will feature an “open gangway” pilot program located at the ends of the cars. This open design allows riders to move freely between cars to reduce crowding and distribute passenger loads more evenly throughout the train. All of the cars also include digital displays that will provide real-time, location-specific information about service and stations, new grab rails including double-poles, and brighter and clearer lighting, signage, and safety graphics. MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim said: “The R211s will be a welcome addition to New York City Transit’s next-generation fleet. As both the R160 and R188 subway cars produced by Kawasaki have proven to be some of the most reliable in their class, we look forward to working with Kawasaki on the production of these cars.” NYC Transit President Andy Byford said: “Bold, aggressive initiatives like the Subway Action Plan and this acquisition of hundreds of new subway cars are critical in our multi-faceted approach to improving subway service. I’m excited about the delivery of these cars and all of the other improvements that are underway as we work to stabilize and modernize the system.” In December 2017, New York City Transit presented prototypes of the new R211 designs at 34St – Hudson Yards to seek customer feedback, as well as introduce the future of the New York City subway to the public. MTA staff was on-hand and on social media as customers helped further refine the design. Delivery of new cars for testing will begin in 2020. The base contract for the new R211 cars was approved after a competitive procurement process involving bidders from around the world, and includes the delivery of the 535 new cars, as well as spare parts, special tools, diagnostic test equipment, technical documentation, and training. The cars will be built and tested in Kawasaki facilities in Yonkers, NY and Lincoln, NE. This is the first New York City Transit contract to stipulate that proposers must submit detailed plans for the creation and retention of U.S. jobs through the inclusion of a “U.S. Employment Plan.” Kawasaki, along with its subcontractors, has committed to provide approximately 470 U.S. jobs for the base award with a total estimated value of $125 million. If both options are exercised, the total potential value of U.S. jobs from this contract is estimated to be $270 million. NY Jobs to Move America Deputy Director Linda Nguyen said: “JMA congratulates Governor Cuomo and MTA staff on leading the country with the most robust adoption of the U.S. Employment Plan program in the nation. We expect commitments to include a plan to create good manufacturing jobs and hiring U.S. workers.” (MTA - posted 1/25)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS FOURTH-QUARTER AND FULL-YEAR 2017 RESULTS: Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported fourth-quarter and 2017 financial results. Net income for the quarter was $3,968 million and diluted earnings per share were $13.79. For the year, net income was $5,404 million and diluted earnings per share were $18.61. These results include effects of the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ("tax reform"), which added $3,482 million to net income in both periods and increased diluted earnings per share by $12.10 for the quarter and $12.00 for the year. Absent the effects of tax reform, fourth-quarter 2017 adjusted net income was $486 million, and adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.69, compared with $416 million, and $1.42 per diluted share, during the same period of 2016. For the year, adjusted net income was $1,922 million versus $1,668 million in 2016. Adjusted diluted earnings per share were $6.61, an 18 percent increase over last year's record diluted earnings per share of $5.62. "Norfolk Southern is open for growth, and we are optimistic as we head into 2018 that the current economic environment will provide an opportunity for continuing growth," said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO. "The hard work and dedication of our employees in executing our Strategic Plan are clearly evident as we continue to achieve record results and deliver on the commitments we made to our shareholders. We remain steadfast in our commitment to deliver on the goals in our Strategic Plan, of which positioning ourselves for growth is a key element. We are laser-focused on execution of our strategy and are confident that we can achieve our targets by 2020 or sooner." For 2017, Norfolk Southern invested over $1.7 billion in capital - reinvesting in the maintenance of its rail infrastructure and supporting economic growth. These investments range from sidings that better support network fluidity, to terminal expansions that accommodate volume growth, to roadway infrastructure that supports regional competitiveness. The recently-completed Portageville Bridge is one example; funded through a public-private partnership, it will support economic growth and jobs across New York's Southern Tier region. Norfolk Southern also realized new business in 2017 from 75 industries it assisted in locating or expanding along its lines - representing a customer investment of over 1 billion dollars. Looking forward in 2018 with respect to capital deployment, Norfolk Southern plans to invest $1.8 billion to maintain the safety of its rail network, enhance service, improve operational efficiency, and support growth. In addition, Norfolk Southern's board of directors approved an 18 percent increase in its quarterly dividend on the company's common stock, from $0.61 to $0.72 per share. The dividend is payable March 10, to shareholders of record on Feb. 2. Since its inception in 1982, Norfolk Southern has paid dividends on its common stock for 142 consecutive quarters. Fourth-quarter summary
  • Railway operating revenues of $2.7 billion increased 7 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2016, as overall volumes were up 5 percent reflecting growth in all three major commodity categories of intermodal, coal and merchandise.
  • Railway operating expenses decreased $74 million, or 4 percent, to $1.7 billion compared with the same period last year. The effects of tax reform decreased railway operating expenses $151 million, more than offsetting increases resulting from increased incentive compensation, higher fuel prices and the 5% growth in volume, which were offset in part by efficiency gains and higher property sales.
  • Income from railway operations was $1,014 million. Excluding the $151 million benefit from tax reform, adjusted income from railway operations was $863 million, an increase of 13 percent year-over-year, and the adjusted railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 67.7 percent, a 170 basis point improvement over prior year.
2017 summary
  • Railway operating revenues of $10.6 billion increased 7 percent compared with 2016, as overall volumes were up 5 percent reflecting growth in the major commodity categories of coal and intermodal.
  • Railway operating expenses of $7.0 billion increased $151 million, or 2 percent, compared with last year. Expenses related to higher diesel fuel prices, increased incentive compensation, higher inflationary costs and volume growth were offset in part by efficiency savings and the $151 million benefit from tax reform.
  • Income from railway operations was $3,586 million. Excluding the tax reform benefit, adjusted income from railway operations was $3,435 million, an increase of 12 percent over the prior year, and the adjusted railway operating ratio was 67.4 percent, a 150 basis point improvement over the prior year's record.
(NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/24)

CN TARGETING RECORD C$3.2 CAPITAL PROGRAM IN 2018: CN announced its planned C$3.2 billion capital program will focus on key capacity projects to meet growing freight demand and continued investment in infrastructure maintenance to enhance safety and efficiency. "CN is investing more than ever before in the safety, efficiency and resiliency of our network," said Luc Jobin, CN president and chief executive officer. "These record investments, a substantial portion of which will go to new capacity and growth projects, will improve our network fluidity, allowing us to deliver superior service to meet our customers' growing freight volumes." For the third straight year, CN plans to invest approximately C$1.6 billion on track and railway infrastructure maintenance to support safe and efficient operations. The planned work includes the replacement of 2.1 million rail ties and more than 600 miles of rail, plus work on bridges and other general track maintenance. Approximately C$400 million is expected to be spent on equipment, including the acquisition of new high horsepower locomotives. A further C$800 million is targeted towards initiatives to increase capacity and enable growth, such as track infrastructure expansion, investments in yards and in intermodal terminals; and on information technology to improve safety performance, operational efficiency and customer service. More specifically, major capacity and equipment investments include:
  • Sixty new GE locomotives, the first deliveries from a three-year order of 200 new units
  • Double track and siding extensions in the West Coast to Chicago corridors
  • Intermodal equipment and infrastructure in Toronto, Memphis, Tenn., Joliet, Ill., and other terminals
The Company plans to invest approximately C$400 million in 2018 on the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) along 3,500 route miles of its U.S. network. CN plans to invest a total of US$1.4 billion on PTC capital expenditures by 2020. "CN's growth continues to outpace the economy," Jobin said. "With our 2018 capital program and ongoing hiring, we are focused on meeting the needs of our customers. We have confidence in the North American economy and in our ability to help our customers grow their businesses." (CN, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/24)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 20, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 20, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 508,239 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending January 20 were 241,258 carloads, down 7.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 266,981 containers and trailers, up 1.8 percent compared to 2017. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They were forest products, up 478 carloads, to 10,217; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 338 carloads, to 10,554. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 8,153 carloads, to 82,683; nonmetallic minerals, down 3,923 carloads, to 26,377; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2,750 carloads, to 14,560. For the first three weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 691,255 carloads, down 5.7 percent from the same point last year; and 744,783 intermodal units, up 1.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first three weeks of 2018 was 1,436,038 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.2 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending January 20, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 339,190 carloads, down 6.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 350,744 intermodal units, up 1.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 689,934 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first three weeks of 2018 was 1,943,895 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.7 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 76,447 carloads for the week, down 4.1 percent, and 65,369 intermodal units, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first three weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 399,694 carloads, containers and trailers, down 0.1 percent.? Mexican railroads reported 21,485 carloads for the week, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,394 intermodal units, down 1.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first three weeks of 2018 was 108,163 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 1/24)

CSX REVIEWING 8000 MILES OF TRACK FOR SALE OR LEASE: Trains.com is reporting that CSX is reviewing 8000 miles of track for sale or lease. This consitutes about one-third of the 21,000 mile system. CSX CEO Jim Foote is spearing this review . The idea is that if the a line adds to shareholder value, then then it will kept. If not, it will be sold. The first four subdivisions were put out to bid last week. These lines include the Decatur and Danville Secondary Subdivisions in western Illinois and the Tallahassee and PA Subdivisions in the Florida Panhandle. CSX is communicating with its customers on these rail lines, as well as union representatives and employees,” CSX says. One of the routes that CSX was planning to sell or lease was the former B&O mainline, from Greenwich, Ohio to Baltimore, Maryland. CSX has subsequently removed the former B&O route. Routes that are being considered for sale or lease include:
  • The former Boston & Albany main and related branch lines in Massachusetts.
  • The former Louisville & Nashville between Cincinnati and Atlanta.
  • Most of the former Baltimore & Ohio main linking East St. Louis, Ill., and Cincinnati.
  • Former Pere Marquette trackage in Michigan.
  • CSX’s cross-border incursions into Canada and related U.S. trackage.
  • The railroad’s hard-hit Appalachian coal network, including portions of the former Clinchfield.
  • Large sections of the Florence Division in the Carolinas.
  • The Dothan sub in Alabama and Georgia.
  • The Auburndale sub in Florida.
  • Branches and redundant trackage scattered around the system, including some in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana.
The sale of the lines would allow CSX to concentrate capital dollars on improving those routes with high traffic density and that have the highest profitability. (Trains.com - posted 1/23)

MICHIGAN RAIL LINE INTRASTRUCTURE ENHANCEMENTS LEAD TO IMPROVED AMTRAK TRAVEL: Rail infrastructure improvements along the Chicago – Detroit/Pontiac Amtrak line will allow for safe, dependable, and faster travel along this vital passenger and freight corridor in Michigan. Passengers on the Amtrak Wolverine Service and Chicago – Port Huron Blue Water will get to their destinations in less time and with fewer delays. These new timetables are now in effect, with a new Amtrak schedule available online. “Between Porter, Ind., and Dearborn, this rail corridor is now dispatched by Amtrak staff, which ensures the efficient movement of passenger trains,” said Tim Hoeffner, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Office of Rail director. “We hope this encourages people to consider the train for their next trip, especially with upcoming construction and high traffic volumes along the I-94 corridor.” Maximum speeds on the line is 110 mph on the Amtrak-owned section between Porter and Kalamazoo, Mich. On the MDOT-owned portion, the maximum speeds are 79 mph, but they are expected to increase to 110 mph this year in certain sections once the testing of the Positive Train Control system is completed and when new locomotives are put into service. MDOT purchased 135 miles of the rail corridor between Kalamazoo and Dearborn from Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in 2012. Thanks to $347 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funding, MDOT was able to acquire and make the following improvements to the line:
  • Replaced worn railroad track and smoothed curves for higher speeds.
  • Upgraded railroad crossings and signals for train and motorist safety.
  • Upgraded the train signaling and communication system for efficient operations.
Outside of MDOT ownership, other improvements have been made that will benefit the efficient movement of both passenger and freight trains. A new bridge connection was installed in west Detroit allowing for a faster connection for trains bound for Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy, and Pontiac. Amtrak has made continual maintenance improvements to its infrastructure as well. “At MDOT’s direction, Amtrak work crews have corrected years of deferred maintenance and have taken over dispatching,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president, State-Supported Services. “We have created the longest railroad segment outside the northeast that is being made ready for even more reliable and faster Amtrak service.” Projects outside of Michigan also have benefits to Amtrak trains. In October 2014, the Englewood Flyover in south Chicago was placed in service, eliminating the at-grade crossing between the Metra Rock Island Line and NS’s Chicago Line, which is the primary Amtrak entrance into Chicago from the east. The Indiana Gateway (a partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration, Indiana Department of Transportation, NS, and Amtrak) has improved a major congestion point of trains between Porter and the Illinois border. All together, these improvements demonstrate a long-term commitment to safe and faster movement of trains along this growing passenger rail corridor (Amtrak - posted 1/23)

NJ GOVERNOR MURPHY SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER MANDATING AUDIT OF NJ TRANSIT: Standing in the Summit Train Station on the Morris & Essex Lines of NJ Transit, Governor Phil Murphy today signed an executive order mandating a full-scale audit of the beleaguered mass transit agency, the first step at rebuilding customer trust in the system that carries hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans to and from work every day. “I have made it clear that we will not accept business as usual at NJ Transit. Today, we begin the process of rebuilding the agency from the ground up,” Governor Murphy said. “The public deserves a true accounting for how this once-model agency has fallen so far, so fast — as do those of us in government, with the ultimate responsibility for this system, who have largely been kept in the dark. Commuters cannot be left waiting for answers. And, neither will I.” The audit will include a review of NJ Transit’s finances, leadership structure, hiring process, and customer service. It will also examine the agency’s relationship with Amtrak and its implementation of Positive Train Control, a system designed to prevent collisions and derailments by automatically stopping trains before certain accidents can occur. “New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, situated between two of the largest urban areas. At the very least, we have to be able to get mass transit right,” Governor Murphy said. "We need to get our transportation running smoothly and make sure that people can get around our state and get to and from work without worrying about a train derailment or delay. NJ Transit was once a world-class transportation agency, and I will not rest until it is world-class again. We must get it where it needs to be to ensure the economic success of our state.” Governor Murphy’s Executive Order calls for the audit to be completed as expeditiously as possible. The Morris & Essex Lines was heavily impacted by last year’s “Summer of Hell,” with commuters rerouted to Hoboken Station, disrupting riders and leading to longer commute times. In December 2017, NJ Transit reported that nearly 12 percent of rush-hour trains along the line were late. (NJ Governor Phil Murphy, John Kilbride, Randy Kotuby - posted 1/22)

JENNIFER F. SCANLON ELECTED TO NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Jennifer F. Scanlon has been elected a director of Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) effective Jan. 22, Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires announced today. Scanlon, 51, is president and chief executive officer of USG Corporation, an industry leading manufacturer of building products and innovative solutions. She has been appointed to the Compensation Committee and Finance and Risk Management Committee of the Norfolk Southern Board and will serve as an independent director. Prior to being named CEO in 2016, Scanlon was president of the company’s international business; president of its L&W Supply Corporation, and chief information officer and chairman of the board for USG Boral Building Products. She led the company through some of its most significant strategic moves in recent history, including establishing the USG Boral Building Products joint venture and the divestiture of L&W Supply Corporation. (NS - posted 1/22)

DELAWARE LACKAWANNA INTERCHANGE SHIFT: Genesse Valley Transportation has announced that it is shifting all Delaware-Lackawanna/Norfolk Southern from Portland, Pa. to Scranton, Pa effective immediately. In Scranton, NS trains will come off the north leg of the wye at Bridge 60 and pull towards Ridge Row to drop interchange cars. With the new interchange location, the DL's Pocono Main from Gravel Place (East Stroudsburg) to Portland, Pa. will likely see very little train traffic. (Steamtown Forum, Rick Glosser - posted 1/19)

CP REPORTS RECORD FOURTH-QUARTER AND RECORD FULL YEAR RESULTS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited today announced its best ever fourth-quarter, with revenues up 5 percent to $1.71 billion and an operating ratio of 56.1 percent. Fourth-quarter diluted earnings per share ("EPS") increased 159 percent to $6.77 from $2.61, which includes an income tax recovery of $527 million, primarily as a result of U.S. tax reform net of Canadian provincial tax rate increases. Adjusted diluted EPS rose 6 percent to a new quarterly record of $3.22 from $3.04. FOURTH-QUARTER 2017 RESULTS
  • Revenues up 5 percent to $1.71 billion from $1.64 billion
  • Operating ratio improved by 10 basis points to 56.1 percent
  • Adjusted diluted EPS rose 6 percent to $3.22 from $3.04
"The fourth quarter was a record by almost every measure and should be celebrated by the men and women in the CP family who work hard every day to deliver for our customers and shareholders," said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. "2017 was a positive year where we continued to build the foundation for sustainable long-term growth by enhancing our service offering, strengthening our team of professional railroaders, and furthering strategic partnerships with customers." A disciplined growth strategy combined with the fundamentals of precision railroading also produced full-year diluted EPS of $16.44, up 55 percent from $10.63 and full-year adjusted diluted EPS of $11.39, an increase of 11 percent from $10.29. The full-year reported operating ratio was 57.4 percent and adjusted operating ratio was a record 58.2 percent. FULL-YEAR 2017 RESULTS
  • Revenues increased 5 percent to $6.55 billion from $6.23 billion
  • Adjusted operating ratio improved by 40 basis-points to a record 58.2 percent from 58.6 percent
  • Adjusted diluted EPS rose 11 percent to $11.39 from $10.29
CP's personal injury rate improved 1 percent and its FRA accident frequency improved 12 percent, making 2017 the 12th consecutive year CP has led the industry with the lowest FRA-reportable train accident frequency. "Over the course of 2017 we built momentum thanks to our strategic approach to growth combined with our continued focus on operational excellence," Creel said. "That momentum has us well positioned to start 2018 and we look forward to delivering another year of record results in a safe and disciplined manner." (Randy Kotuby, CP - posted 1/18)

CSX REPORTS FOURTH-QUARTER AND FULL YEAR RESULTS: CSX Corporation announced fourth quarter 2017 net earnings of $4.1 billion, or $4.62 per share, versus $458 million, or $0.49 per share in the same period last year. Fourth quarter 2017 net earnings included a $3.6 billion net tax reform benefit resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and a $10 million net restructuring charge. Excluding these two items, fourth quarter 2017 adjusted net earnings were $573 million, or $0.64 per share. “CSX’s performance continued to strengthen in the fourth quarter, building upon the scheduled railroading model that was instituted by Hunter Harrison” said James M. Foote, president and chief executive officer. “I’m excited about the progress we are making and am confident we have the right team in place to achieve our goal of becoming the best railroad in North America.” Revenue for the fourth quarter decreased $174 million, or six percent, when compared to the previous year, primarily due to the $178 million impact of an extra fiscal week in 2016 that resulted from the company’s 52/53 fiscal reporting calendar in 2016. Expenses for the fourth quarter were down $291 million, or 14 percent, when compared to the fourth quarter in the previous year, which included $116 million in additional costs related to the extra week in 2016. Operating income in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $1.12 billion. CSX had full-year 2017 earnings per share of $5.99, operating income of $3.7 billion and an operating ratio of 67.9 percent. Adjusted for the impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the company’s restructuring charge, adjusted earnings per share were $2.30, adjusted operating income was $3.9 billion and adjusted operating ratio was 66.3 percent for full-year 2017. “CSX’s team of dedicated railroaders remains focused on creating value for our customers and our shareholders through operational excellence and the continued execution of our new operating plan,” said Foote. “We look forward to improving the quality of service for our customers and growing our business.” (CSX - posted 1/18)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 13, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 13, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 511,937 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending January 13 were 241,351 carloads, down 4.1 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 270,586 containers and trailers, up 5 percent compared to 2017. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,668 carloads, to 30,530; chemicals, up 2,028 carloads, to 31,879; and forest products, up 244 carloads, to 9,748. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 8,992 carloads, to 76,001; grain, down 2,444 carloads, to 21,957; and metallic ores and metals, down 1,443 carloads, to 20,518. For the first two weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 449,997 carloads, down 4.6 percent from the same point last year; and 477,802 intermodal units, up 1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first two weeks of 2018 was 927,799 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending January 13, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 337,232 carloads, down 3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 352,867 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 690,099 carloads and intermodal units, up 1 percent. North American rail volume for the first two weeks of 2018 was 1,253,961 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 75,043 carloads for the week, down 0.8 percent, and 63,495 intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first two weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 257,878 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.4 percent. Mexican railroads reported 20,838 carloads for the week, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,786 intermodal units, up 6.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first two weeks of 2018 was 68,284 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 1/17)

VIA RAIL SETS RECORD FOR RIDERSHIP OVER THE HOLIDAY SEASON: As harsh winter conditions swept across the country, many thousands of Canadians chose VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) for their travel during the holiday season. From December 18 to January 7, trains from coast to coast carried 308,000 passengers — 10% more than in 2016-2017. The busiest day, Friday, December 22, saw VIA Rail trains transporting 20,700 passengers to their destinations. “Our operations have been strained in recent weeks by cold spells and extreme winter storms. Over this busy season, we have doubled our efforts to limit the impact, provide good service and bring our passengers to their destinations safely. I thank our clients for their understanding and I want to acknowledge the dedication and professionalism of our front-line employees and our maintenance centers,”said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail. In the Québec City-Windsor corridor, over 291,500 passengers travelled on the trains serving communities in and between Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto, London, Windsor, Sarnia and Niagara Falls. Toronto-Ottawa was the most popular route: 35,800 travelled between these two cities over the period. Toronto’s Union Station, a transit point for 180,000 travellers was especially busy during the holidays. Respectively, Montreal and Ottawa saw 92,000 and 78,000 passengers pass through their stations to be reunited with family and friends. On the long distance trains, most of the passengers travelled to Halifax, Moncton and Vancouver. The Ocean service, which operates between Montréal and Halifax, welcomed almost 7,700 passengers. Six additional departures were offered over the holidays, giving more people the opportunity to travel by train to celebrate with their loved ones. Also, the Régie intermunicipale de transport Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine (RÉGÎM) offered a shuttle service connecting Gaspé and the VIA Rail station in Campbellton, allowing some 200 passengers on the Ocean train to make transfers toward municipalities on the south coast of the peninsula, between Nouvelle (Québec) and Gaspé. Meanwhile, the Canadian, which connects Toronto to Vancouver, saw over 4,600 passengers onboard. (VIA Rail Canada - posted 1/16)

CSX INVESTIGATION INITIATED BY FORMER LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Former Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles C. Foti, Jr., Esq., a partner at the law firm of Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC ("KSF"), announces that KSF has commenced an investigation into CSX Corporation (NasdaqGS: CSX). On March 7, 2017, the Company announced the hiring of Chief Executive Officer, Hunter Harrison, a 73-year-old railroad executive, following a campaign by activist investor Mantle Ridge. Harrison's compensation for the four year contract included $84 million in reimbursement for pay and benefits forfeited from his prior position, payment of a tax indemnity potentially amounting to as much as $23 million, and tens of millions of dollars in salary and incentive compensation. Notably, Harrison was hired despite refusing the Company's request for an independent doctor to review his medical records. During 2017, widespread problems reportedly plagued the Company including service disruptions, decreases in operational performance and the exit of several executives. On December 15, 2017, the Company announced that Harrison had died due to "severe complications from a recent illness." The circumstances have raised questions in the finance sector regarding whether the Company's executives had prior undisclosed knowledge of Harrison's health condition or failed to exercise due diligence in the hiring process. KSF's investigation focuses on whether CSX's officers and/or directors breached their fiduciary duties to CSX shareholders or otherwise violated state or federal laws (KSF - posted 1/15)

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES RAIL LAYING FOR 13 MILE DOUBLE TRACK PROJECT COMPLETED THIS MONTH: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Long Island Rail Road Double Track has reached a major milestone and the final five miles of rail being laid this month. The project utilizes Design-Build construction and a specialized New Track Construction machine that lays rail more than 10 times faster than the MTA has ever done before, saving more than $7 million in construction costs and allowing for an expected project completion of August 2018 - 16 months ahead of schedule. Once complete, the Double Track, extending from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma, will dramatically reduce delays on the LIRR and enable more off-peak service in both directions by adding nearly 13 miles of parallel track. While touring the Double Track, Governor Cuomo also announced 24 LIRR projects totaling $1 billion - including the $121 million Hicksville Station Transformation and the new Wyandanch Station - will be completed in 2018. Twenty-one additional LIRR projects will break ground this year, including the $2 billion LIRR Expansion Project that will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville. Together, these projects significantly advance the Governor's $6.6 billion transformation and modernization of the Long Island commuter rail and $100 billion Infrastructure and Development Plan for New York. "For decades, leaders have talked about adding a second track to the Ronkonkoma Branch and today we are moving a major step closer to getting it done," Governor Cuomo said. "By pairing design-build contracting with the use of innovative track-laying equipment, we are building a more robust infrastructure faster and at less expense to New Yorkers. This project, along with the 23 other commuter line projects we will complete this year, will ensure LIRR remains the backbone of the region's economy." Double Track: The $387.2 million Double Track project, which is bringing a second track to single-track territory, has provided hundreds of construction jobs and, upon completion, will improve service and reliability on the LIRR's Ronkonkoma Branch, while spurring economic activity, and improving LIRR service to Long Island MacArthur Airport. Over the past 25 years, ridership on the Ronkonkoma Branch has doubled - growing in popularity since the line was electrified in 1988. With just one track along most of the 18-mile route between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the LIRR can operate only a limited number of trains and lacks operational flexibility in the event of a disruption. If one train becomes disabled, all other trains - coming from both east and west - have no way around the problem. The new Double Track will enable the LIRR to provide more frequent off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch in both directions, with off-peak service going from one train every hour to one train every 30 minutes in both directions. The project will reduce delays associated with service disruptions for the 48,000 weekday riders on the Ronkonkoma Line by giving the railroad flexibility to go around obstacles that it cannot currently in single-track territory. The project has taken place over two phases. Phase One used the New Track Construction machine to lay the first 3.5 miles of new track between Central Islip and Ronkonkoma, and was completed in August 2016. Phase Two includes laying the rest of the track between Farmingdale and Central Islip. Over the next several months, crews will continue construction that includes stone ballast, tamping, surfacing, and installation of the third rail and new signal system. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Long Island Rail Road Double Track has reached a major milestone and the final five miles of rail being laid this month. The project utilizes Design-Build construction and a specialized New Track Construction machine that lays rail more than 10 times faster than the MTA has ever done before, saving more than $7 million in construction costs and allowing for an expected project completion of August 2018 - 16 months ahead of schedule. Once complete, the Double Track, extending from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma, will dramatically reduce delays on the LIRR and enable more off-peak service in both directions by adding nearly 13 miles of parallel track. While touring the Double Track, Governor Cuomo also announced 24 LIRR projects totaling $1 billion - including the $121 million Hicksville Station Transformation and the new Wyandanch Station - will be completed in 2018. Twenty-one additional LIRR projects will break ground this year, including the $2 billion LIRR Expansion Project that will add a third track to 9.8 miles along the congested Main Line of the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville. Together, these projects significantly advance the Governor's $6.6 billion transformation and modernization of the Long Island commuter rail and $100 billion Infrastructure and Development Plan for New York. "For decades, leaders have talked about adding a second track to the Ronkonkoma Branch and today we are moving a major step closer to getting it done," Governor Cuomo said. "By pairing design-build contracting with the use of innovative track-laying equipment, we are building a more robust infrastructure faster and at less expense to New Yorkers. This project, along with the 23 other commuter line projects we will complete this year, will ensure LIRR remains the backbone of the region's economy." The Double Track project marks the MTA's first-ever use of the New Track Construction machine, which is capable of laying one mile of track per day - more than ten times faster than the 500 feet of track per day that the MTA manually laid previously. By speeding up this process, the MTA is significantly improving productivity, increasing safety and reducing the potential of construction disruption to local communities. To see the New Track Construction machine in action, click here. The machine is pulled from the front end by a bulldozer along the route of the new track. It automatically handles the flow of materials, negating the use of overhead cranes for track construction. The machine's ability to bring in supplies by rail negates the need for trucking supplies in. The MTA plans to use the machine in future projects in response to the Governor's challenge to increase efficiency in its projects. (MTA - posted 1/12)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN FACILITATED OVER $1 BILLION IN INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ALONG RAIL LINES IN 2017: Norfolk Southern assisted 75 industries in locating or expanding their business operations along its rail lines in 2017. The 54 new and 21 expanded industries across 17 states represent an investment of $1.1 billion by Norfolk Southern customers. This economic development is expected to create nearly 2,000 new customer jobs in the railroad's service area and generate over 147,000 carloads of new rail traffic annually. "The strong industrial development activity in 2017 is an indication of renewed confidence on the part of industry and consumers, as well as continued demand for freight rail service," said Jason Reiner, assistant vice president industrial development. "The results include a mix of manufacturing, energy, and foreign-trade related business, and we believe we have an encouraging pipeline for growth entering the new year." Norfolk Southern works with state and local economic development authorities on projects involving site location and development of infrastructure to connect customers to its rail system. Norfolk Southern provides free and confidential facility location services, including industrial park planning, site layout, track design, and supply-chain analysis. During the past 10 years, NS' Industrial Development Department has participated in the location or expansion of 922 facilities representing private investment of over $60 billion and creating nearly 41,000 direct new customer jobs in territory the railroad serves. (Randy Kotuby, Alex Mayes, NS - posted 1/11)

LOCAL RAILROAD SMASHES RECORDS: Reading & Northern Railroad (R&N) smashed through the 30,000 freight cars moved benchmark on its way to the most successful year in its history. By the end of 2017 R&N had handled 31,175 carloads an increase in carloadings and revenue of close to 15 percent over 2016 and almost 50 percent over the last five years! This unprecedented growth came across all of the many commodity lanes handled by R&N. Its anthracite coal business was up over 40 percent! Once again R&N is "The Road of Anthracite". This explosive growth was fueled by a late-year announcement of a major sale of Pennsylvania anthracite to the Ukraine, replacing Russian coal. Following a July announcement of the deal at the White House by Trump Administration officials, R&N was told to prepare to move over 300,000 tons of anthracite by year-end. R&N stepped up and managed to provide all the cars needed for the business and served as many as eight different origins as the entire anthracite community pulled together to fill this huge order. We are hopeful that this business will continue in 2018. The other big development in the anthracite business was the fulfillment of seven years of work to connect Hazleton Shaft and its new state-of-the art coal dryer to our railroad. That project was finally completed this summer and the process of shifting over 100,000 tons of dried coal delivered by truck over to rail began. By year end R&N and its customer Hiller Hazleton had shifted 40,000 tons to rail for delivery to a Midwestern steel mill. To accomplish this R&N purchased another 121 covered hopper cars and a brand new conveyor to assist with the unloading at a transfer station in Indiana. We expect to convert more of this truck traffic to rail in 2018. Throughout the railroad there were other successes. Past industrial development projects reached fruition adding hundreds of new cars of business. R&N's transload facilities and warehouse found new customers and added more cars to our business. R&N's Forest Products stayed strong and handled over 10,000 carloads in 2017. In order to handle this growth in business R&N had to purchase more freight cars, purchase more locomotives, add more employees, open more facilities and invest more in our track and signal systems. At year end R&N had more employees, more track, more locomotives, more freight cars, more facilities and more customers than at any point in its history. 2017 was the culmination of over 25 years of investment and risk-taking for R&N's CEO/Owner Andy Muller, Jr. Muller said, "It is never my intention to rest on our success and to pocket our profits. My goal is to build the best railroad in the nation. And to do that we have to constantly invest in the railroad. My investment decision might not make sense to outsiders but the proof of my strategy is apparent to anyone looking at our record of constant growth and success." R&N has a two-pronged formula for ongoing success. It takes care of its employees with great pay, excellent benefits and profit sharing. The result is a 98% retention rate. And R&N takes care of its customers. As Wayne Michel R&N's President says, "Our goal is to provide our customers with service superior to any railroad or trucker. We offer guaranteed on-time delivery and meet it 99 percent of the time. We provide special service to customers who are in need of an expedited delivery. We have the best customer service and marketing team in the industry. And we keep our prices competitive." The future looks very bright for R&N as it has over twenty active industrial development projects in various stages of development. Growth is built into the R&N DNA. As Muller said, “I expect our railroad to grow. I expect our superior service will help our customers grow and as they grow we will benefit. I expect our reputation to encourage more businesses to locate along our lines. We will always take care of our customers and our employees. That is the cornerstone of our success.” said Muller. Reading & Northern Railroad, with its corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, is a privately held railroad company serving over 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has expanded its operations over the last 20+ years and has grown into one of the premier railroads in Pennsylvania. Reading and Northern operates both freight services and steam and diesel powered excursion passenger services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, owns almost 1,200 freight cars, and employs over 200 dedicated employees. - Wayne Michel; President of RBMN (Alex Mayes, R&N - posted 1/10)

READING OUTER STATION HERALDS RECORD-BREAKING RIDERSHIP: Another successful year in the books and for Port Clinton-based Reading & Northern Railroad it is the record books. Almost 120,000 people rode on the Reading and Northern and Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway passenger rail offerings in 2017. This is approximately a 15% increase from last year’s record-breaking year when Reading & Northern broke the 100,000 passenger mark for the second time running. Much of this growth was created by the opening of the brand new Reading Outer Station in Muhlenberg Township north of Reading, PA. The grounds includes a Victorian-era switch tender’s tower complete with clean restrooms, and overhung steps from the expanded parking lot to the newly created passenger loading platform. Also, on site is a new electronic information sign next to a steam locomotive water tower. Completed in 2017 this new facility served as a gateway to the Reading & Northern passenger offerings. Long active in providing passenger excursion services through its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe, Reading & Northern expanded into Berks County with the Reading Outer Station. From Memorial Day through November, Reading & Northern used its Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) to take passengers for a comfortable ride along its mainline route from Reading Outer Station. The RDC consist has sliding-windows, a snack counter, and 132 seats making it a convenient and comfortable ride for our guests. It was no surprise that people clamored to take these trains and consequently every train was sold out during this historical first endeavor in 2017! In October, Reading & Northern shifted the starting location for its famous Fall Foliage specials from Port Clinton to Reading Outer Station. The resulting change brought hundreds of new visitors from Berks, Lebanon, and Lancaster Counties. As a result, extra trains were added and almost 6,000 visitors rode these trains. Approximately 1,200 more people requested tickets for this popular excursion and had to be turned away. Reading Outer Station continued to break records this winter as over 3,500 people, mostly children, rode on Reading & Northern’s famous Santa Trains. Tunkhannock, Schuylkill Haven, Minersville, Tamaqua, and Jim Thorpe also saw Santa Trains running in order to bring joy to thousands. In Jim Thorpe, our successful Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway operation including the Hometown High Bridge trains and Bike Trains handling nearly 100,000 people in 2017- a 20% growth in ridership. The opening of Reading Outer Station launched another chapter in the history of Reading & Northern’s passenger operation. 2018 will offer more rides and new equipment so we invite all of our friends to follow developments on our websites www.rbmnrr-passenger.com. and www.lgsry.com. (Alex Mayes, R&N - posted 1/10)

NEW BOOK FROM RAILPACE! THE DELAWARE-LACKAWANNA RAILROAD: Join us as the “Pocono Mountain Route” celebrates its 25th anniversary during 2018! More than just a picture book, this is the story of the formation of the regional railroad serving the Poconos today, with a look at its predecessors, including the D&H and Erie-Lackawanna, and the brief tenure of the Lackawanna Valley, Lackawanna Railway, and Pocono?Northeast railroads. Learn about the formation of the Lackawanna County Rail?Authority, which saved 95 miles of trackage from destruction by Conrail, and which together with the Monroe County Rail Authority saved the historic Pocono Main Line. Later, as the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Rail?Authority, the agency invested heavily in upgrading the former D&H, Erie-Lackawanna and Laurel Line trackage. Operator Delaware-Lackawanna, renowned for its fleet of well-maintained Alco diesels, today operates from Scranton to Carbondale, to Minooka, and through the Delaware Water Gap to Slateford and Portland, serving the northeastern corner of the Keystone State. Included are all of the special events, such as the Alcorama–the 100th anniversary celebration of Alco–in 1993. Also featured are the many tourist operators, including Steamtown Foundation, the Pocono?Mountain?Railway, Steamtown NPS, and the Erie-Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society, and unique events such as the 1996 Conrail coal detour, NS runthrough freights, speeder trips, and more! Railfans flock to the D-L year round, and this publication includes the work of over a dozen photographers. Enjoy a tour of the DL’s compact shop at South Scranton and a visit with the Alco Doctor, Don Colangelo, who, with his skilled team of workers, keeps an eclectic fleet of Schenectady products–from RS3s to M636s–running smoothly. The Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad includes a fully annotated roster of DL/GVT locomotives. All color, the 112-page perfectbound book, sheetfed press-printed by GRIT Commercial Printing on high-quality 80# gloss paper stock, will be available in early March 2018 for $34.95. And you can save $5.00 by pre-ordering until February 28, for just $29.95, plus $6.00 shipping Special pre-publication price: $29.95 perfectbound (Softcover)pre-pub sale effective through February 28, 2018 add $6.00 per order (total) for shipping N ew Jersey delivery addresses add 7% sales tax. Books will ship march 5 Regular price $34.95 plus $6 shipping, effective march 1 limited availability Hardcover edition $54.95 available mid-march 2018 Order Online now from the Railpace e-Store www.railpace.com/store Or call (570) 252-4302 by mail:?Railpace Company, INC, Post Office Box 229, Greentown, PA 18426 Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, checks, m.O.s email: railpbiz@ptd.net made in U.S.a. (posted 1/03)

RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 6, 2018: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 6, 2018. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 415,862 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending January 6 were 208,646 carloads, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 207,216 containers and trailers, down 3.9 percent compared to 2017. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first week of 2018 was 415,862 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 4.6 percent compared to last year.? One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. It was petroleum and petroleum products, up 741 carloads, to 9,640. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 4,554 carloads, to 69,973; nonmetallic minerals, down 2,159 carloads, to 21,872; and grain, down 1,924 carloads, to 19,638. North American rail volume for the week ending January 6, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 290,767 carloads, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 273,095 intermodal units, down 2.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 563,862 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first week of 2018 was 563,862 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.5 percent compared with 2017. Canadian railroads reported 66,871 carloads for the week, down 4.5 percent, and 52,469 intermodal units, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first week of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 119,340 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.4 percent.? Mexican railroads reported 15,250 carloads for the week, up 7.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,410 intermodal units, up 0.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first week of 2018 was 28,660 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 4.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 1/10)

AMTRAK NAMES KEN HYLANDER CHIEF SAFETY OFFICER: Amtrak has named Ken Hylander Executive Vice President and Chief Safety Officer. Hylander most recently served as Chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation and previously served as the Chief Safety Officer at Delta Air Lines. He will report directly to President and CEO Richard Anderson and be responsible for implementing a proven Safety Management System (SMS) at Amtrak. “We are improving safety at Amtrak. Keeping our customers and employees safe is our most important responsibility and a high quality Safety Management System is a requirement for Amtrak,” said Anderson. “Ken is a recognized leader in the implementation and operation of SMS, and his experience will be instrumental in helping build our safety culture.” SMS is a proactive risk management system which builds on predictive safety management methods. SMS has been a cornerstone of improving safety in many industries, including aviation, health care and energy. Recently, the NTSB recommended that Amtrak implement a SMS Program. Amtrak endorses this NTSB recommendation. Hylander has more than three decades of experience in the aviation industry. He retired as a senior vice president from Delta Air Lines in 2014, where he successfully oversaw the SMS implementation at Delta and managed the occupational, operating safety, security, quality and environmental compliance programs. He currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Flight Safety Foundation and is an independent member of the Board of Directors of Monroe Energy in Trainer, Pennsylvania, an oil refinery subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. Hylander was Northwest Airlines’ Chief Safety Officer prior to the airline’s merger with Delta. Before joining Northwest in 1997 as the Vice President of Quality, Reliability and Engineering, Hylander spent nearly 17 years at United Airlines where he held a variety of engineering, quality assurance, and operations management positions. (Amtrak - posted 1/09)

SEPTA TOKEN SALES PHASE-OUT TO BEGIN MONDAY, JANUARY 22: SEPTA would like to remind customers that token sales at cashiers' booths and vending machines at Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line stations will be phased out starting later this month. The full schedule is now available online at www.septa.org, and is included with this press release. The phase-out of sales at cashiers' booths will begin Monday, Jan. 22 and continue through the first week of February. Then, starting Monday, Feb. 12 and continuing through the week of Feb. 28, all remaining vending machines will be removed. In March, SEPTA will begin phasing out token sales at the remaining Authority-owned locations, including major sales offices and Regional Rail stations. A full schedule for these locations will be announced in the coming weeks. Token sales at over 200 third-party retailers will continue until further notice. Please note that SEPTA will also continue to accept tokens for fare payment. The phase-out of token sales represents the next major step forward for the SEPTA Key fare modernization project. Customers who still use tokens and paper transfers are urged to make the switch now to a SEPTA Key Card, which are currently free with a $10 minimum Travel Wallet load. The Travel Wallet feature allows customers to add value to a SEPTA Key Card for tap-and-go travel on all Transit modes, including buses, city and suburban trolleys, trackless trolleys, the Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street-Line/Broad-Ridge Spur and the Norristown High Speed Line. Customers who currently use tokens, paper transfers or pay with cash can transition to the Key and leave behind the days of worrying about having exact change or pre-purchasing tokens. (SEPTA - posted 1/08)

CHICAGO'S METRA TO BUY LOCOMOTIVES: Chicago's Metra has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to begin to replace its aging fleet of engines with new or remanufactured locomotives. The locomotive RFP, which was issued last week, calls for a base order of at least 12 new or 15 remanufactured locomotives with options for up to 30 additional new locomotives or 27 additional remanufactured locomotives, for a total of up to 42 new or remanufactured locomotives. Metra is asking for proposals for both new and remanufactured engines because it wants to weigh the costs/benefits of both options. Metra currently has about $125 million programmed for locomotive purchases over the next five years. The Metra Board of Directors has asked staff to consider financing alternatives, such as leasing, to maximize the efficient use of available capital resources. Metra’s 2014 modernization plan called for the purchase of 367 railcars and 52 locomotives. That 10-year plan, however, counted on Metra receiving $1.3 billion in new funding, most likely from a new state bond program. That anticipated new funding did not come through, and until and unless it does, Metra is attempting to acquire as many cars and engines as possible with existing funding. That existing funding, unfortunately, falls far short of Metra’s needs. The RTA estimates Metra needs to spend $1.2 billion a year for 10 years to achieve and maintain a state of good repair on its system, including buying new cars and engines but also replacing and upgrading its bridges, stations and other infrastructure. This year, Metra has one-sixth of that amount available. “We are trying to do the best we can with available resources,” said Metra CEO/ Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “Clearly, however, we need more capital dollars to continue to invest in our system and upgrade our assets.” Metra expects to award the contract for locomotives later in 2018, with delivery of the first locomotive in 2020. The new or remanufactured locomotives will allow Metra to begin to replace outdated diesel locomotives with modern, cleaner-burning engines, significantly improving air quality. Metra issued an RFP for at least 25 new railcars in April 2017, and is currently evaluating responses, with a goal of approving a contract later this year. The scheduled delivery of the first cars will be part of the negotiations and dependent upon the manufacturer’s capacity to build. The last time Metra received new railcars for lines other than the Metra Electric was in 2006. Metra has identified modernization of rolling stock as one of its highest capital priorities due to the age of its fleet (average age of 30 years) and the fact that the condition of cars and locomotives is so essential to providing high-quality, reliable and comfortable service. (Metra - posted 1/05)

MBTA COMMUTER RAIL TO OPERATE A REGULAR SCHEDULE FRIDAY: Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the MBTA’s commuter rail operating partner, announced today that service will return to a Regular Schedule for Friday. Today’s storm is expected to drop 12 inches of snow when it subsides around midnight this evening. “When the storm passes, extreme cold temperatures are expected to follow,” said David Scorey, CEO and General Manager, Keolis. “Passengers are encouraged to dress in layers to stay warm and use caution when boarding trains. Our Keolis and MBTA teams will continue to work through the night clearing platforms, applying a sand-salt mix and preparing the fleet for service to help make travel Friday as safe and easy as possible.” Due to the heavy snowfall that ends late this evening and extreme temperatures expected Friday, minor delays are possible as clean-up and other snow operations finish. Passengers are encouraged to check schedules before traveling. Keolis will provide updates through Twitter at @MBTA_CR, MBTA.com, station signage and onboard announcements. Passengers can also sign up for T-Alerts at MBTA.com. (Justin Thompson - posted 1/04)

19th ANNUAL CP HOLIDAY TRAIN CONCLUDES ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL TOUR: The 19th annual Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train has completed another successful tour across North America, raising more than just spirits this holiday season. While final numbers are still being calculated, more than C$1.5 million and 300,000 pounds of food have been raised for local food banks and food shelves. The Holiday Train has now raised more than $14.5 million and 4.3 million pounds of food since its inaugural journey back in 1999. "The momentum we see in the Holiday Train from year-to-year reinforces the good that we, and our partners at the food banks, are doing across North America," said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. "Connecting with communities has been a theme for the CP family this year as we celebrate Canada 150 and what a way to end 2017, with more than 425,000 people across our network enjoying the magic of the CP Holiday Train." The 2017 CP Holiday Train was proud to feature an all Canadian musical line-up with multiple Canadian Country Music Award and Juno Award winners. The Canadian train featured Colin James, Emma-Lee and Odds until Calgary, where Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Band jumped on to finish the tour to the west coast. On board the U.S. train, Kelly Prescott partnered with Jim and Devin Cuddy between Montreal and Windsor, Ont., and was joined by Dallas Smith and Terri Clark through the U.S. Midwest and Great Plains. Jonathan Roy anchored the Quebec shows. New this year, CP introduced an online train tracker so that fans could see exactly where the trains were, allowing even more people to connect with the spirit of the Holiday Train on both sides of the border. The Canadian train also boasted the Spirit of Tomorrow car, a railcar that was a part of the CP Canada 150 train which travelled across the country this summer in celebration of Canada's 150th. Crowds were able to view the car, which is covered in notes written by children across Canada, expressing the dreams they have for their nation. The CP Holiday Train program is not the only way that CP gives back to food banks. CP also provides Food Banks Canada $250,000 worth of in-kind transportation services to support its National Food Sharing Service program. Since 2011 CP's contribution has helped transport over 17 million pounds of food and household goods to food organizations across Canada. "We are always delighted when the CP Holiday Train travels across North American communities and provides the platform to speak about the need of healthy and nutritious food items at local food banks," said Mimi Lowi-Young, Executive Director, Food Banks Canada. "CP continues to play a role in raising awareness of hunger-related issues and also supporting Food Banks Canada in transporting food across Canada through our National Food Sharing System." As part of Canada 150, CP and the Canada 150 Federal Secretariat partnered to promote the Holiday Train and the conclusion of the sesquicentennial celebrations. (CP - posted 1/04)

AMTRAK BEGINS NEXT PHASE OF INFRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL AT NEW YORK PENN STATION: Amtrak’s next series of track renewal projects in New York Penn Station, as part of the Infrastructure Renewal program, will begin on Friday, Jan. 5, with revised scheduled train operations commencing on Monday, Jan. 8. The bulk of the infrastructure renewal work for 2018 is occurring on weekends, as the project scope has not changed since November’s initial announcement. It is still expected to conclude on May 28, 2018, with minor modifications to Amtrak and commuter train weekday operations at New York Penn Station. Amtrak’s revised schedule includes:
  • Amtrak cancelled Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington, D.C. (WAS) to New York Penn Station (NYP) and 127 from NYP to WAS
  • Northbound Keystone Train 640 is terminating at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Keystone Train 643 is originating at Newark Penn Station
  • Southbound Train 173 is stopping at Newark Airport
  • Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 are all having earlier departure times.
  • Train 170 is also departing WAS early, is stopping at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resuming its schedule from Trenton
The project is occurring in the area of Track 15, which requires a section of concrete demolition and replacement (similar to the work on Track 10 during the summer of 2017), and Track 18, which requires localized concrete demolition with complex steel hardware replacement and rail renewal. In addition, Amtrak is renewing and replacing three turnouts in “C” Interlocking, which directs Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains to routes heading east and to Sunnyside Yard. During the summer of 2017, Amtrak accelerated its Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station, which is one element of Amtrak’s plan to modernize stations, infrastructure, and equipment on the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak’s reservation systems are updated to reflect these schedules and passengers who were booked on a cancelled or altered train have been contacted and re-accommodated. Additional information can be found on Amtrak.com and Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal. (Amtrak - posted 1/03)

AAR REPORTS FREIGHT RAIL TRAFFIC FOR 2017, DECEMBER, AND WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 30, 2017: Amtrak’s next series of track renewal projects in New York Penn Station, as part of the Infrastructure Renewal program, will begin on Friday, Jan. 5, with revised scheduled train operations commencing on Monday, Jan. 8. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending December 30, 2017, as well as volumes for December 2017 and all of 2017. U.S. railroads originated 998,168 carloads in December 2017, up 2.5 percent, or 24,606 carloads, from December 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,065,965 containers and trailers in December 2017, up 5.3 percent, or 53,980 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in December 2017 were 2,064,133, up 4 percent, or 78,586 carloads and intermodal units from December 2016. “Rail traffic finished 2017 on a positive note," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “In December, total carloads were up for the first time in six months, and 14 of the 20 carload categories we track saw year-over-year gains - the most for any month in almost three years. Meanwhile, intermodal volume was up for the 11th straight month and set a new annual record, breaking the previous mark set in 2015." In December 2017, 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload gains compared with December 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 15,632 carloads or 23.1 percent; metallic ores, up 6,875 carloads or 35.2 percent; and chemicals, up 4,277 carloads or 3.5 percent. Commodities that saw declines in December 2017 from December 2016 included: grain, down 5,542 carloads or 6.1 percent; motor vehicles & parts, down 2,625 carloads or 4.1 percent; and nonmetallic minerals, down 1,424 carloads or 8.9 percent. “Rail traffic is a useful gauge of the state of the economy, and it shows that the economy's momentum strengthened in the fourth quarter of 2017," Gray added. “Coal, grain, and petroleum products are not nearly as GDP-dependent as most other categories of rail traffic. If you exclude them, U.S. rail carloads were up 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2017, their biggest quarterly percentage gain in more than three years. Railroads are well positioned to provide the safe, efficient and cost-effective service our economy will need if it is to continue to grow in the months and years ahead." Excluding coal, carloads were up 23,290 carloads, or 3.6 percent, in December 2017 from December 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 28,832 carloads, or 5.2 percent. Total U.S. carload traffic for 2017 was 13,478,126 carloads, up 2.9 percent, or 381,266 carloads, from the same period in 2016; and 14,011,834 intermodal units, up 3.9 percent, or 521,121 containers and trailers, from 2016. Total combined U.S. traffic for the full year of 2017 was 27,489,960 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year. Week Ending December 30, 2017 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 397,032 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016. Total carloads for the week ending December 30 were 194,680 carloads, down 9.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 202,352 containers and trailers, down 3.7 percent compared to the same week in 2016.? None of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 6,581 carloads, to 62,348; grain, down 3,839 carloads, to 15,713; and chemicals, down 2,448 carloads, to 27,944. North American rail volume for the week ending December 30, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 268,140 carloads, down 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 259,430 intermodal units, down 1.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 527,570 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.7 percent. North American rail volume for the full year of 2017 was 36,488,013 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.8 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 60,664 carloads for the week, down 11.4 percent, and 49,109 intermodal units, up 6.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the full year of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,570,747 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 12,796 carloads for the week, up 10.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 7,969 intermodal units, up 5.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the full year of 2017 was 1,427,306 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2 percent from the same point last year. (FRA - posted 1/03)

BOMBARDIER TO SUPPLY 17 ADDITIONAL LOCOMOTIVES TO NEW JERSEY: Rail technology leader Bombardier Transportation announced today that New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT) has exercised an option for 17 additional BOMBARDIER ALP-45 dual-power locomotives. This second call off is valued at approximately $160 million US (133 million euro) and is based on a contract for 26 locomotives signed in 2008. NJ TRANSIT exercised a first option for nine units in 2011 and the contract includes options for up to 37 more units. "This option order is confirmation of the confidence NJ TRANSIT has in our highly innovative, energy efficient, reliable, and safe equipment," said Benoit Brossoit, President, Americas Region, Bombardier Transportation. "The new locomotives will comply with the EPA's Tier 4 Exhaust Limits, making them environmentally friendly which is especially important in a metropolitan area like New York." The dual-power locomotives are capable of operating under both diesel power and alternating current electric power from overhead sources. Their flexible power system enables the locomotives to operate across the entire NJ TRANSIT rail system, which includes both electrified and non-electrified lines, thus allowing passengers to ride a single train between New Jersey and New York Penn Station without having to change trains. Their introduction in 2011-2012 at NJ TRANSIT and the then Agence Métropolitaine de Transport in Montreal (now named Réseau de transport métropolitain) marked a first for this technology in North America. The locomotives will be manufactured at Bombardier sites in Germany and Poland. Delivery is scheduled to start in November 2019. (Bombardier - posted 1/02)

BRIGHTLINE PREPARES TO COMMMENCE REVENUE TRAIN SERVICE: Brightline continues to make progress toward operational readiness by training our teammates and testing our equipment. We will launch introductory service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale the week of January 8, 2018. (Brightline - posted 12/29)

BRIGHTLINE RECEIVES APPROVAL FROM U.S. DOT ON $1.15 BILLION PRIVATE ACTIVITY BOND ALLOCATION: Brightline announced the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) approved a $1.15 billion Private Activity Bond allocation, and that Brightline also secured the final two South Florida Water Management District permits needed to construct the segment between Orlando and Cocoa. Both actions are important steps as the company plans to start construction on Phase 2 in early 2018 and marks a year of achieving important milestones. “In another major step forward for Brightline’s Phase 2 extension to Orlando, U.S. DOT approved a $1.15 billion Private Activity Bond allocation,” said Dave Howard, Brightline’s CEO. “After a successful $600 million PAB closing this week, we are pleased to have this financing option available. We appreciate the leadership of U.S. DOT as they work to move major infrastructure projects forward, creating thousands of jobs and stimulating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development.” Brightline is still analyzing all financing options for Phase 2, including a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan. With all federal approvals in place, Brightline is finalizing the engineering and design for the rail infrastructure. Additionally, Brightline is working on the installation of a new signal system and Positive Train Control (PTC) for the entire system between Miami and Orlando. PTC will be in place between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2018 and will be operational along the entire 235-mile route when the extension to Orlando opens. Brightline’s station in Orlando will be located at the Orlando International Airport’s new Intermodal Terminal Facility that will be the hub of the future South Terminal complex. The company continues working toward operational readiness with the Federal Railroad Administration for the launch of introductory service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and will release details soon. (Brightline - posted 12/29)

WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 23, 2017: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 551,566 carloads and intermodal units, up 11 percent compared with the same week last year.? Total carloads for the week ending December 23 were 270,356 carloads, up 10.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,210 containers and trailers, up 11.3 percent compared to 2016.? Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 9,934 carloads, to 34,424; metallic ores and metals, up 5,576 carloads, to 25,589; and coal, up 5,374 carloads, to 89,997. One commodity group posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2016: grain, down 183 carloads, to 22,425.? For the first 51 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported a cumulative volume of 13,283,446 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year; and 13,809,482 intermodal units, up 4.0 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 51 weeks of 2017 was 27,092,928 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to last year.? North American rail volume for the week ending December 23, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 371,882 carloads, up 10.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 360,676 intermodal units, up 13.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 732,558 carloads and intermodal units, up 12 percent. North American rail volume for the first 51 weeks of 2017 was 35,960,443 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with 2016.? Canadian railroads reported 83,911 carloads for the week, up 9.7 percent, and 68,925 intermodal units, up 23.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 51 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,460,974 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.9 percent.? Mexican railroads reported 17,615 carloads for the week, up 16.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,541 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 51 weeks of 2017 was 1,406,541 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.9 percent from the same point last year. ? (AAR - posted 12/27)

CSX BOARD OF DIRECTORS NAMES INDUSTRY VETERAN JAMES M. FOOTE PRESIDENT AND CEO: The Board of Directors of CSX Corporation announced that it has unanimously named James (Jim) M. Foote as the company’s president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. Mr. Foote was named acting CEO on December 14, 2017 after E. Hunter Harrison was placed on medical leave. Mr. Foote will also join the Company’s Board of Directors. CSX Chairman Edward J. Kelly III said, “While we continue to mourn the loss of Hunter Harrison, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce Jim Foote as his successor. Jim has decades of railroading experience and the Board is confident of his ability to lead the company. He has already had a markedly positive impact. The Board looks forward to working with him.” Jim Foote, president and chief executive officer of CSX said, “I worked alongside Hunter for over a decade and his pioneering approach to railroading unlocked significant efficiencies and value, and we remain focused on delivering on this vision for CSX, our customers and our shareholders. The execution of Precision Scheduled Railroading is well underway, with the most critical components of the implementation completed and beginning to generate measurable operating improvement.” Foote continued: “We look forward to providing an update on our strategic progress and to showcase our deeply talented management team at our upcoming investor day in March.” (CSX - posted 12/26)



CN TO PURCHASE 200 NEW LOCOMOTIVES FROM GE TRANSPORTATION OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS: CN announced it will acquire 200 new locomotives over the next three years from GE Transportation (NYSE: GE) to accommodate future growth opportunities and drive operational efficiency across its system. The order includes Tier 4 and Tier 3 (Tier 4 certified) Evolution™ Series locomotives equipped with GE Transportation’s GoLINC™ Platform, Trip Optimizer™ System and Distributed Power LOCOTROL® eXpanded Architecture to maximize train effectiveness and efficiency. These solutions are part of GE Transportation’s Train Performance product suite, which optimizes power distribution, train handling, brake control and fuel utilization. “We are bullish on the North American economy and on our ability to compete and win new business with our superior service model,” said Luc Jobin, CN president and chief executive officer. “In the years ahead, these GE Transportation locomotives and their digital technology will support and enhance our operational efficiency. We are proud to continue our partnership with GE Transportation and look forward to adding these units to our fleet as part of our commitment to operational and service excellence.” The locomotives will be produced at the GE Manufacturing Solutions facility in Fort Worth, Texas beginning in 2018. CN’s order is the largest among class I railways since 2014. The first units are expected to be delivered in 2018 with the balance delivered in 2019 and 2020. “CN’s steadfast commitment to serving the expanding needs of its customers across Canada and the United States is helping to turn around the North American locomotive market,” said Rafael Santana, chief executive officer of GE Transportation. “We are proud to partner with CN on this agreement to meet the needs of their future growth, and optimize and further digitize their freight rail operations.” (CN - posted 12/22)

FEDERAL FUNDS ISSUED FOR MBTA GREEN LINE EXTENSION PROJECT: The Federal Transit Administration informed the MBTA Green Line Extension (GLX) Project Team that it has released the first $100 million installment of the total approved $1 billion in federal funding for the 4.7-mile light rail line from Cambridge to Medford, marking another milestone for the project. With federal funding in place, the MBTA issued the Notice to Proceed to GLX Design-Build team, GLX Constructors. After a sealed price opening last month, GLX Constructors won with its bid, a total of $1.08 billion.DOT Previous milestones for the GLX Project have included:
  • the release of the draft Request for Proposal for the design-build project that included a base scope of work, Additive Options, and an Affordability Limit of $1.319 billion in March 2017;
  • the release of the Final Request for Proposal for the Design-Build Project to three shortlisted design-build teams that included a base scope of work, Additive Options, and an Affordability Limit of $1.319 billion in May 2017;
  • the receipt of Affordability Certifications from two of the three bidding design-build teams that their upcoming responses to the Final Request for Proposals (RFP) would include price proposals that meet or are below the established Affordability Limit of $1.319 billion in October 2017; and
  • the design-build contract awarded to GLX Constructors in the amount of $1.08 billion, which is below the Affordability Limit, for their proposal that included a base scope of work and all Additive Options in November 2017. The Additive Options include platform canopies, additional elevators at select stations, public art, additional community connection to the community path located on Chester Street in Somerville, extension of the community path between East Somerville and Lechmere Stations, and enhanced Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Somerville.
Construction will begin in 2018 with service expected to begin in 2021. (MBTA - posted 12/22)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO RELEASE $100 MILLION IN GRANT FUNDS FOR MBTA'S GREEN LINE EXTENSION: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced that it will issue $100 million in grant funding to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) for its Green Line Extension (GLX) light rail project. The grant represents the first installment of Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program funding for the GLX after the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with MBTA for the 4.7-mile light rail line from Cambridge to Medford. “Governor Charlie Baker’s commitment to responsibly manage taxpayer dollars in the building of this project was persuasive,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. “The region can now look forward to an enhanced transportation network as the Green Line is extended to serve tens of thousands of area residents daily.” FTA is providing these funds after MBTA completed a series of reviews to redesign the GLX project to contain costs without sacrificing schedule. MBTA’s strengthened project management team and governance structure, including a Fiscal and Management Control Board created in 2015 by Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature, were critical factors in moving the FFGA grant forward. “Thanks to the hard work and collaboration of Secretary Chao, State Transportation Secretary Pollack, and the cities of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford, this important project is moving ahead,” said Governor Baker. “The Green Line Extension project will provide important public transit service that will have a transformational impact for this region of the Commonwealth to accommodate riders and spur economic growth.” The FFGA, signed in 2015, provides $996 million in federal funds toward the $2.3 billion total cost of the GLX. “FTA is proud to support the transportation needs of the greater Boston area by helping to extend rail service into some of its most densely populated communities,” said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. “The GLX project will provide improved mobility and expanded transit service to riders traveling throughout the MBTA system.” The project adheres to the scope and benefits identified in the FFGA, including six new light rail stations, replacement or rehabilitation of eight bridges, and a new pedestrian/bike path. The GLX is projected to open in January 2022. MBTA is the largest transit provider in New England and the fifth largest in the country based on ridership. (USDOT - posted 12/21)

BOMBARDOER TRANSPORTATION STATEMENT ON NEW METROLINX AGREEMENT: Bombardier has agreed to amend the contract terms with Metrolinx to produce world-class light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) system on-time. This clearly resets the relationship with Metrolinx under its new leadership, and provides a clear path forward to ensure certainty on the technical and financial obligations of both partners. Furthermore, it settles the arbitration with Metrolinx, benefiting all parties. The agreement is for Bombardier Transportation to now manufacture 76 light rail vehicles (LRVs) for the Eglinton Crosstown project, 106 vehicles less than the original contract for 182 vehicles. In addition, the GO Transit Operations and Maintenance contract was extended by 18-month. This extension solidifies Bombardier's prominent role as a provider of Operations and Maintenance in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) and is a recognition of Bombardier's unsurpassed performance on the GO Transit contract. Overall, the revised contracts do not change materially the size of our relationship with Metrolinx. "We have always been resolved to find a clear negotiated path forward, one that delivers value to all parties, and foremost to the people of Ontario. Bombardier is fully committed to the Metrolinx project and to the people of the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA)," said Benoit Brossoit, President, Americas Region at Bombardier Transport. "I look forward to working with Metrolinx's CEO, Phil Verster's, to advance this project and ensure that riders have the most efficient, comfortable and reliable transit system in the world." This new agreement is positive news for commuters who can continue to have full confidence that we are providing maximum value in safety and comfort for them when it comes to mobility solutions. Bombardier is committed to ensure that the vehicle quality is sustained throughout the lifespan of the vehicles. From a manufacturing standpoint, this is good news for the province, as we are doing everything necessary to deliver value to the people of Ontario. Thousands of Bombardier Transportation employees in Ontario remain fully committed to the Metrolinx project. Over the past few months, Bombardier reached new milestones confirming that it is on track to deliver the LRT projects, including high speed testing on our track in Kingston. In addition, the first pilot vehicle successfully completed its climate testing at the National Research Council of Canada facility. We are preparing our manufacturing activities to deliver the first vehicles as required. Bombardier looks forward to launching this outstanding new service for the benefit of the people of Toronto. (Bombardier Transportation - posted 12/21)

GOVERNOR CUOMO DIRECTS MTA & PORT AUTHORITY TO HEIGHTEN SECURITY THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed the MTA and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to surge their security presences at all bridges, tunnels, airports and mass transit systems throughout the holiday season in New York City. In light of recent terrorist attacks and out of an abundance of caution, the Governor is deploying special operations teams from the New York State Police and National Guard to work with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Police, MTA Police Department, Port Authority Police Department and New York City Police Department in this coordinated effort. Additional personnel and security equipment will be deployed by state agencies, including rapid radiation response trucks, bomb-detecting canines, an increased heavily armed presence, enhanced surveillance and rapid response vehicles at all high-profile locations. "New York's status as an international symbol of freedom and democracy too often makes us a target for people who oppose our way of life, and we must remain vigilant and do everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe," Governor Cuomo said. "The holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and out of an abundance of caution I am fortifying security throughout the region to ensure the safety and security of all New Yorkers and visitors." The Special Operations Team deployment will include Penn Station, Grand Central, Port Authority Bus Terminal, all nine MTA-operated bridges and tunnels and Port Authority-operated bridges and tunnels, as well as LaGuardia and JFK airports. In response to recent events and upcoming holidays, the New York State Police deployed additional resources to key transportation hubs in New York City. State Troopers will increase staffing and patrols at all MTA & Port Authority bridges, tunnels, airports and mass transit systems. In addition, during the busy holiday travel season, the New York National Guard's Joint Task Force Empire Shield will coordinate with partner agencies to ensure increased vigilance at New York City's transportation hubs. Following last week's attack in a Times Square subway station, the MTA has also increased their patrols and surveillance in order to provide heightened protection at major rail hubs. The MTA Police Department has stepped up its uniformed and plainclothes presence in Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal as well as other major stations throughout the Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road network. Police canine teams and units with heavy weapons will provide extra protection as well as a noticeable sign of increased security. Railroad customers will also see surge patrols, increased step-on/step-off patrols of trains, and random bag checks at various locations. In addition, the Port Authority has significantly increased its presence at all of the agency's bridge, tunnel, rail, bus terminals, World Trade, airports and other facilities following last week's attack. Following last week's incident, the Port Authority Bus Terminal will also see increased security presence. The Port Authority has also significantly increased the numbers of police officers, including long gun-carrying police officers, and deployed special tactical teams. Actions include increased patrols and checks of bags, buses, trucks and trains at agency locations. (MTA - posted 12/20)

SEPTA TO BEGIN PHASE OUT OF TOKEN SALES IN EARLY 2018: With more riders making the transition to the SEPTA Key, token sales will be phased out at cashiers' booths and vending machines at Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line stations starting in mid-January 2018. Tokens will continue to be sold at major SEPTA sales offices, Regional Rail stations, and at over 200 third-party retailers until further notice. The phase-out of token sales represents the next major step forward for the SEPTA Key fare modernization project. Earlier this year, SEPTA ended sales of "legacy" magnetic strip TransPasses at its sales offices, which has resulted in most weekly and monthly TransPass customers moving to reloadable SEPTA Key Cards. In addition, the Travel Wallet - the pay-as-you-go option that provides the same discounted fare as a token - has enticed customers to move to the SEPTA Key. Key Cards are currently free with a $10 minimum load. The Travel Wallet feature allows customers to add value to a SEPTA Key Card for tap-and-go travel on all Transit modes, including buses, city and suburban trolleys, trackless trolleys, the Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street-Line/Broad-Ridge Spur and the Norristown High Speed Line. Customers who currently use tokens, paper transfers or pay with cash can transition to the Key - and leave behind the days of worrying about having exact change or pre-purchasing tokens. The Travel Wallet will automatically deduct single-rides at the discounted token rate, and process transfers. (SEPTA - posted 12/20)

WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 16, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending December 16, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 554,779 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending December 16 were 265,169 carloads, up 4.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 289,610 containers and trailers, up 7.6 percent compared to 2016. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 6,158 carloads, to 34,003; chemicals, up 2,436 carloads, to 32,224; and metallic ores and metals, up 2,178 carloads, to 23,137. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 were grain, down 795 carloads, to 23,571; farm products excl. grain, and food, down 641 carloads, to 15,651; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 453 carloads, to 10,639. For the first 50 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported a cumulative volume of 13,013,090 carloads, up 3.0 percent from the same point last year; and 13,528,272 intermodal units, up 3.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 50 weeks of 2017 was 26,541,362 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending December 16, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,454 carloads, up 6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 369,866 intermodal units, up 9.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 733,320 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 50 weeks of 2017 was 35,227,885 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.8 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 81,454 carloads for the week, up 11.3 percent, and 69,454 intermodal units, up 21.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 50 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,308,138 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,831 carloads for the week, up 12.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,802 intermodal units, up 3.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 50 weeks of 2017 was 1,378,385 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.7 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 12/20)

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION'S LINE 1 EXTENSION BRINGS AREA TRANSIT CHANGES: With the Line 1 Yonge-University extension into York Region opening this Sunday morning, the TTC is reminding customers about numerous improvements and changes to services along the line. Starting at 8 a .m. on Sun., Dec. 17, customers will see new bus routing, additional parking and more connections to transit services outside the city of Toronto. There is no additional fare required to ride the subway north of Steeles, outside Toronto city limits. Additional fares only apply when changing between the TTC and other transit agencies. The opening of the Line 1 extension also marks the introduction of a new Customer Service Agent role, replacing traditional collector booths at the six new stations. Customer Service Agents will roll out over the next year across the TTC. Customers using the new stations can pay by tapping a PRESTO card or with a Metropass, tickets, tokens and cash. Tickets, tokens and Metropasses will not be sold at these stations. Exact change cash payments will also be accepted. Customers can buy and load a PRESTO card at each station. The extension adds approximately 13 minutes to the full ride time on Line 1 from Finch to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre for a total ride time of 79 minutes. On weekday morning and afternoon rush hours, trains will run approximately every two and a half minutes increasing to just under four minutes during the day and in the early evening. During the day on Saturdays, trains will run every three to four minutes. Monday to Saturday nights and on Sundays, trains will run approximately every five minutes. Weekday mornings between 8 and 9:30 a.m., every second northbound train will continue to turn back at Glencairn Station. The 8.6 kilometre Line 1 extension features a state-of-the-art signalling system and six, modern, bright, fully accessible stations all equipped with Wi-Fi, cell, the TTC's new fare gates with PRESTO and dedicated bicycle parking. (TTC - posted 12/19)

CP FAMILY MOURNS THE LOSS OF FORMER CEO E. HUNTER HARRISON: It is with great sadness that the Canadian Pacific family today learned about the passing of former CEO, Mr. E. Hunter Harrison. Here is a statement on his passing from CP President and CEO, Keith Creel: "Words cannot begin to describe this tremendous loss. On behalf of our Board of Directors and the entire CP family, our thoughts and prayers go out to Jeannie and all of Hunter's family, friends and colleagues across the industry. Personally, today I lost a friend and a mentor. I spent most of the last 25 years working closely with Hunter. Over that time, he taught me how to railroad but more than that, he taught me how to be a leader. Professionally, Hunter was unmatched in this industry. He will go down as the best railroader ever, plain and simple. What he has done at multiple railroads and for our industry the last 50-plus years is incredible which includes bringing CP back to its rightful place among leaders in the Class 1 space in what some have called the greatest corporate turnaround in history. His legacy will be felt at our company forever, not only by shareholders, but by employees and customers who have all benefited from his leadership, foresight and tenacity. The foundation he built at CP, and at all the other railroads he led, serves us, and the industry, well for the future. While Hunter will be remembered in history books as the best railroader there was, I will remember him first as a friend with a loving and giving heart then as a tremendous, visionary leader who always challenged the status quo. His greatest legacy is not the railroads he changed for the better, but the family and friends he left behind that are all blessed to have known and loved him. We grieve with them in the tremendous loss of a one-of-a-kind railroader and even better person, Mr. E. Hunter Harrison." CP will honour Mr. Harrison by lowering flags to half-mast across its network. (Canadian Pacific - posted 12/19)

NJ TRANSIT TO PURCHASE ADDITIONAL DUAL-POWERED LOCOMOTIVES: The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved the purchase of 17 additional dual-powered locomotives manufactured by Bombardier Transit Corporation. The new locomotives will allow NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations to retire some of the oldest locomotives in the fleet to increase mechanical reliability, operational flexibility and efficiency. “The addition of these new dual-powered locomotives continues our effort to modernize our rail fleet,” said Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “These locomotives can operate across the entire rail system in either electric or diesel mode providing us with greater versatility and operating efficiency.” The ALP45 locomotives will replace NJ TRANSIT’s aging fleet of GP40 and F40-series locomotives, which were initially manufactured in the late 1960s. The older locomotives have reached the end of their service life and have become increasingly more expensive to maintain. In addition, the GP40s and F40s are becoming functionally obsolete as a result of their limited pulling power and ability to provide electrical power to the larger, heavier multi-level passenger coaches. The ALP45 locomotives are designed to operate push-pull passenger train service on both electrified and non-electrified lines at speeds of up to 125 mph in electric mode and up to 100 mph in diesel mode. The locomotives will meet the current EPA Tier IV requirements, reducing emissions compared to the locomotives to be replaced when operating in diesel mode, and producing no emissions when operating in electric mode. The ALP45s offer a significant increase in horsepower, acceleration and available head-end power over the GP40s they will be replacing. In 2008, the Board of Directors approved a contract with Bombardier Transit Corporation for the purchase of 26 ALP45 dual-powered locomotives, with an option to purchase up to 63 additional locomotives in the future. In July 2011, NJ TRANSIT purchased 9 additional locomotives, increasing the total number of ALP45s to 35. The first locomotive was delivered in December 2011. The introduction of the dual-powered ALP45s in 2011 marked a first for this technology in the United States. Today, the Board approved the purchase of 17 additional ALP45 locomotives at a total contract authorization of $184.5 million, under the 2008 contract with Bombardier Transit Corporation. (NJT - posted 12/18)

CSX ANNOUNCES DEATH OF CEO E. HUNTER HARRISON: CSX Corporation, today issued the following statement: “It is with great sadness that we announce that E. Hunter Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer of CSX, died today in Wellington, Fla., due to unexpectedly severe complications from a recent illness. The entire CSX family mourns this loss. On behalf of our Board of Directors, management team and employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to Hunter’s family. Hunter was a larger-than-life figure who brought his remarkable passion, experience and energy in railroading to CSX.” Edward J. Kelly III, Chairman of the CSX Board of Directors, issued the following statement on behalf of the Board of Directors: “With the passing of Hunter Harrison, CSX has suffered a major loss. Notwithstanding that loss, the Board is confident that Jim Foote, as acting Chief Executive Officer, and the rest of the CSX team will capitalize on the changes that Hunter has made. The Board will continue to consider in a deliberative way how best to maximize CSX’s performance over the long term.” (CSX, Rick Glosser - posted 12/16)

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATOIN ADVANCES RAIL PROJECTS IN FLORIDA AND TEXAS: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for Phase II of the All Aboard Florida (AAF)/Brightline Project and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement review (DEIS) for the Texas Central Railway (TCR) High-Speed Rail Project, marking major milestones in USDOT’s efforts to accelerate environmental reviews and project delivery timelines for new infrastructure projects. These steps will assist the private sponsors of these new passenger rail projects in moving their projects forward. “Safe, accessible and efficient regional rail systems are an important component in the transportation networks of many areas,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said. “As proposed, these rail projects would increase travel options and promote economic growth in their regions of the country.” Specific information regarding each of the projects is below. All Aboard Florida/Brightline Project AAF is a private passenger rail service proposed by Florida East Coast Industries, Inc. (FECI) that would connect Orlando and Miami, with intervening stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The ROD marks the completion of the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In the ROD, FRA formally selects Alternative E as its preferred alternative as it will meet the purpose and need identified for the AAF/Brightline Project. This preferred alternative consists of:
  • A new rail corridor extending north through Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Florida State Route 528 (the MCO Segment);
  • A new rail alignment 200 feet south of the Florida State Route 528 Right of Way (ROW) (the East-West Corridor) from MCO to Florida State Route 520; and then within the State Route 528 Florida Department of Transportation ROW to the Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) Corridor in Cocoa;
  • Use of the existing FECR ROW from Cocoa to West Palm Beach (the North-South Corridor).
For more information, visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0819 . Texas Central Railway High-Speed Rail Project The TCR High-Speed Rail Project is a privately-funded proposed new passenger rail system that would operate within a fully sealed corridor of roughly 240 miles between Dallas and Houston, with a travel time of approximately 90 minutes. Publication of the DEIS is an important milestone in the NEPA process. The DEIS describes the project’s purpose and need, identifies the reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, discloses the potential environmental impacts of those alternatives, and identifies appropriate mitigation. FRA is providing the public an opportunity to review and comment on the DEIS. Following the public comment period, FRA will address any substantive comment in a Final EIS and ROD. The DEIS analyzed six end-to-end Build Alternatives as well as the No-Build Alternative. The Build Alternatives included a terminal station in Dallas and an intermediate station in Grimes County near College Station, home of Texas A&M University. The DEIS also evaluated three Houston terminal station options: the Industrial Site Terminal, the Northwest Mall Terminal, and the Northwest Transit Center Terminal. The DEIS identifies FRA’s preferred Build Alternative as Alternative A. Information regarding the TCR High-Speed Rail Project is available at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0700. The official 60-day public comment period for the DEIS will begin when the DEIS is published in the Federal Register. During the comment period, FRA will hold 10 public hearings in the affected counties in Texas. (USDOT - posted 12/15)

METRO-NORTH RAILROAD TO MAKE DESIGN IMPROVEMENTS TO FIVE STATIONS: MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board has approved a $91.5 million design-build contract to the firm Halmar International to make state-of-the-art enhancements to Metro-North Railroad’s White Plains, Harlem-125th Street, Crestwood, Port Chester and Riverdale stations. Construction gets underway in early 2018. This Enhanced Stations Initiative sets the standard for similar improvements to other Metro-North stations in the future. The Enhanced Stations Initiative, which includes some elements of state of good repair and enhancements, will result in stations that are safer, cleaner, brighter and easier to navigate. The general scope of the work includes new signage, platforms, energy efficient LED lighting, benches with USB chargers, station dashboards and totems to provide convenient access to information, improvements to customer restrooms, not to mention Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. Upgrades at White Plains include improved station entrances, as well as new interior wall panels, floor tiles, ceiling tiles and fixtures. At the direction of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Metro-North issued a design-build contract to expedite the project. Design-build contracts call for a team of designers and contractors to be responsible for both designing and building an entire project in order to ensure that coordination is seamless, and that work is completed in the shortest possible time frame. The project is funded by MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program. For the station enhancement project, the MTA worked with consultants Grimshaw Architects to study and revise existing design guidelines for stations and facilities, bringing world class standards to Metro-North stations. These revised guidelines will establish a new look for Metro-North stations, influencing station design long after improvements to White Plains, Harlem-125th Street, Crestwood, Port Chester and Riverdale are complete. Safety is a top priority at the MTA, and as part of the station enhancement project, Metro-North upgraded its electrical and communications system, adding closed-circuit security cameras inside and outside the stations. Bringing more beauty to the commute, MTA Arts and Design has issued an open call for artists to create site specific installations at White Plains, Harlem 125th Street, Crestwood and Port Chester. Dennis Oppenheim’s low-relief, brightly painted metal sculpture in the shape of four houses was installed at the Riverdale station in 2006. “The Enhanced Stations Initiative raises the bar for station aesthetics, safety and amenities,” said Cathy Rinaldi, Acting President of Metro-North. “Customers can anticipate a better environment at our stations, and all with minimal disruption to their commute. These improvements bring the stations into the 21st century and help enhance the quality of life of the communities they serve.” (MTA - posted 12/15)

WICK MOORMAN TO STEP DOWN AS AMTRAK CO-CEO, ASSUME ROLE OF SENIOR ADVISOR: Effective Dec. 31, Wick Moorman will step down from the co-CEO position and assume the role of senior advisor, starting Jan. 1, 2018. “The Board is grateful for Wick’s significant contributions since he joined the company, and we are pleased that he is continuing to serve as a senior advisor,” said Tony Coscia, Chair of the Amtrak Board of Directors. Wick was hired to serve as a transitional CEO, coming out of retirement in September 2016 to lead Amtrak for a short period of time to focus on achieving three objectives: improve operations, streamline the organizational structure, and find his successor. Over the past year, the company has created a new organizational structure that improved operational efficiencies and the customer experience. Additionally, the company has achieved record ridership, revenues and earnings. “I have greatly enjoyed my time at Amtrak, and firmly believe that the company is well positioned for the future,” said Moorman. “I look forward to continuing my work with Richard and the entire Amtrak team to further advance passenger rail in this country.” On Jan. 1, transportation veteran Richard Anderson who joined Amtrak in June 2017 will assume full CEO responsibilities in addition to serving as President. (Amtrak - posted 12/14)

MTA BOARD APPROVES DESIGN-BUILD CONTRACT TO LIRR TRIPLE TRACK PROJECT: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board on Wednesday approved a design-build contract with 3rd Track Constructors (3TC), to complete the design and construction of the crucial Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project. Several expert firms have joined together to form 3TC, including Dragados USA, Inc., John P. Picone Inc., CCA Civil, Inc., and Halmar International LLC, with Stantec as the design professional, as well as Cameron Engineering, and Rubenstein Associates leading the community outreach team. The approval of the 3TC contract marks another important milestone for the LIRR Expansion Project, a signature initiative of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s, and part of his comprehensive, interconnected plan to improve transit and transportation throughout the region. This initiative, which blends capital expansion and state-of-good-repair work, will unlock the full potential of existing LIRR modernization initiatives including East Side Access, Double Track, Jamaica Capacity Improvement Project, and other major investments. This project will provide a state-of-the-art transportation system for Long Island and New York City residents, commuters, and business communities, while laying the foundation for a resurgence of the region’s economic growth. “Upon its completion, this modernization initiative will provide faster commuting with a more reliable network, and will allow us to keep the railroad in a state-of-good-repair,” MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota said. “All too often, major delays on the LIRR are tied to incidents along this corridor. With this investment, Long Islanders and New York City residents alike will be able to avoid the crippling and cascading delays that affect the entire network. This project will transform not only Long Island, but the economy and accessibility of the entire region.” “These infrastructure improvements were identified as crucial and necessary many years ago, and I am pleased to see that they will soon become a reality,” said LIRR President Pat Nowakowski. “The reliability of our system is the focal point for good service, and with this project, the LIRR will be able to deliver that better than ever for our customers who rely on the railroad for commuting to work and school, and other facets of daily life.”
  • New Third Track Adds Capacity, Reduces Delays The third track will be placed within the existing LIRR right-of-way, on a 9.8-mile segment of the Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville that serves more than 250 trains on a typical weekday, and is used by 40% of LIRR customers. This heavily utilized, two-track segment is susceptible to congestion during peak periods. Without the third track, the threat of bottlenecking from emergency repairs, disabled trains and other disruptions linger, with the potential to inconvenience tens of thousands of riders during each event. Upon its completion, the LIRR Expansion Project will equate to faster commutes, fewer delays, enable true reverse commuting capabilities and reduce crowding.
  • New Third Track Will Allow For Reverse Commuting With the addition of the third track, all-day, two-directional service on the Main Line will become a reality for the first time in modern LIRR history. Currently, during the morning and evening rush hours, only a limited number of trains are allowed to run in the opposite flow direction, making it difficult for those who may live in New York City or western Nassau County to access jobs on Long Island. Now, Brooklyn and Queens residents will be able to connect with opportunities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties the same way that Bronx residents currently travel to jobs via Metro-North, benefitting the entire metropolitan region’s economy.
  • Safety, Infrastructure, Reliability, Quality-of-Life and Service Boosted Risks to public safety currently exist at street-level grade crossings. Accidents and delays occur when motorists and pedestrians attempt to circumnavigate lowered gates while a train is entering the intersection. From 2013 to 2016, there were 127 such incidents on the Main Line, causing 4,354 late or canceled trains, and affecting millions of LIRR customers. Seven grade crossings along this 9.8-mile corridor will be completely eliminated, which will dramatically improve safety for both LIRR customers and crew, as well as motorists. Traffic along these crossings will also see vast improvements, as crossing gates currently can close roadways for up to 30 minutes in a peak hour, contributing to significant congestion on local streets. “These seven grade crossings create major safety, air pollution, traffic and noise problems,” said MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber. “It’s time to get rid of them.” Street-level grade crossings to be eliminated include:
    • Covert Avenue, New Hyde Park
    • 12th Street, New Hyde Park
    • New Hyde Park Road, New Hyde Park
    • Main Street, Mineola
    • Willis Avenue, Mineola
    • School Street, Westbury
    • Urban Avenue, Westbury
    Rail infrastructure improvements throughout the corridor include:
    • New signal equipment and switches.
    • New power substations to bring power infrastructure to a state-of-good-repair while enhancing capacity to power three tracks simultaneously.
    • With a second track on the Ronkonkoma Branch and a third track along this Main Line corridor, the LIRR will have more flexibility to perform scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, thereby reducing costs and limiting customer inconvenience.
    • Station enhancements, including ADA accessibility improvements, along with longer platforms, which will eliminate the need to walk through train cars to exit, helping to avoid delays and safety issues.
    • Seven rail bridges along the Main Line will be improved to accommodate a third track, and certain bridge clearances will be raised to reduce bridge strikes. Currently, when a truck hits a railroad bridge, the incident causes significant train delays and poses safety risks.
    These bridges will be replaced using the method successfully employed earlier this fall, when the LIRR replaced the Post Avenue Bridge in Westbury -- a span over the Main Line that had been struck by dozens of overheight trucks in recent years resulting in train delays. In anticipation for future expansion, the new bridge included space for a piece of third track to be laid. The project was completed on budget and ahead of schedule the weekend of October 21-22, 2017, with the new bridge’s height clearance now allowing trucks up to 14 feet to safely pass underneath, thus improving LIRR system infrastructure and service reliability. The old bridge, which hovered over Post Avenue at 11 feet 10 inches, had been struck by trucks between five and nine times per year in each of the past six years. Train delays in both directions loomed as LIRR crews worked to determine its safety and structural stability before restoring train service. Using a design-build contract, the new bridge was constructed in a parking lot adjacent to the Westbury Station and hoisted into place after the old bridge was removed intact – a swap that took one weekend to complete (MTA - posted 12/14)

    STRONG DEMAND EXPECTED THORUGH DECEMBER HOLIDAY SEASON: Amtrak achieved record revenue in November, reaching $204.7 million in system-wide adjusted ticket revenue, the best month in the company’s history. Thanksgiving continued to be the busiest week of the year for Amtrak, with a record 777,897 riders taking the train to visit friends and family during Thanksgiving week, generating $61 million in gross ticket revenue. “More customers are choosing Amtrak as it is simply the smarter way to travel. We look forward to providing the Amtrak experience to more customers over the December holidays,” said Amtrak Co-CEO Wick Moorman. Amtrak encourages customers to book tickets early, before trains sell out, as it expects December will be equally as popular. Customers can save up to 25 percent on tickets, as 7-day and 14-day advance purchase saver fares are still available. Amtrak customers have the benefit of free Wi-Fi on most trains, plenty of legroom and no middle seat, while avoiding highway congestion, potentially bad weather and crowded airports. Additionally, some customers may travel in newly-refreshed train cars as Amtrak is investing in a nearly $17 million refresh of its train interiors, including new seat cushions, carpeting, curtains and refreshed restrooms to provide a more modern, comfortable experience onboard. Customers can also bring small cats and dogs on many trains coast-to-coast. (Amtrak - posted 12/14)

    AMTRAK SELECTS DEVELOPMENT TEAM TO PARTER IN BALTIMORE PENN STATION REDEVELOPMENT: Amtrak has selected Penn Station Partners, a Baltimore-based team with global expertise, to negotiate a master development deal for Baltimore Penn Station and neighboring Amtrak-owned properties. The team is comprised of Beatty Development Group, Armada Hoffler Properties, Cross Street Partners, Gensler, WSP USA, Network Rail Consulting and Mace Group among others. “Baltimore Penn Station is the eighth busiest station in our national network and this important step underscores Amtrak’s continued efforts to significantly enhance the station experience and amenities for all travelers,” said Bart Bush, Amtrak Vice President of Real Estate Stations and Facilities. Goals of the master development include modernizing and expanding station facilities and amenities to accommodate growth, renovating the station’s upper floors and supporting transit-oriented development that integrates the surrounding neighborhood’s unique vitality. “I am confident that this team, which is comprised of local Baltimore businesses, understands how urgent the redevelopment of Penn Station is to the City of Baltimore, said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. “This team brings the expertise essential to ensuring that the full potential of this resource is finally tapped to support economic growth and revitalization.” “This development is a historic opportunity for Amtrak and Penn Station Partners to bring to life a bold future for Penn Station, generating jobs and sustained economic opportunities for our Baltimore communities and beyond,” said Mayor Pugh. “My administration looks forward to working with this team to maintain forward momentum.” Negotiations are underway with the selected team proposing a multi-phased, mixed-use development that could bring as many as 1.6 million square feet of development to the area. Preliminary concepts include a hotel in the historic station head house, as well as office and residential space to the north along Lanvale Street connected by an expanded concourse with new retail opportunities. Specific details regarding the development’s scope, design and phasing will be the focus of future engagement between Amtrak, the selected developer, stakeholders and the public. “On behalf of the entire Penn Station Partners team, we are incredibly excited for this opportunity to reimagine one of Baltimore’s great transportation hubs,” said Michael Beatty, President of Beatty Development Group. “The PSP team is comprised of some of the top minds from around the world, experts in their respective fields, all working together to create an ambitious vision for the future of Baltimore Penn Station. Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to making that vision a reality.” The Amtrak Board of Directors approved the designation of Penn Station Partners following a competitive, open procurement process with a rigorous technical and financial review. Penn Station Partners was selected based on their proposal and successful record of project delivery, extensive experience with complex mixed-use properties and adaptive reuse of historic buildings. The team also includes JLL, HR&A Advisors, Charles Belfoure, Cho Benn Holback, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, RK&K and Younts Design. The group was selected from a pre-qualified short list of teams following a Request for Qualifications in 2016 (Amtrak - posted 12/14)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: NS will not accept trains at interchange from 7:00 a.m., Sunday, December 24th through 10:00 p.m., Monday, December 25th. NS operations will cease at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, December 24 through 10:00 p.m., Monday, December 25th. This includes road trains, yard switchers, and local trains servicing customers. NS road operations will run as regularly scheduled over the New Year’s holiday. Yard/local operations will operate as governed by volumes and customer needs. (NS - posted 12/13)

    RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 9, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending December 9, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 560,756 carloads and intermodal units, up 4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending December 9 were 267,963 carloads, up 3.4 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 292,793 containers and trailers, up 4.6 percent compared to 2016. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,011 carloads, to 35,630; chemicals, up 2,470 carloads, to 32,372; and metallic ores and metals, up 2,311 carloads, to 22,081. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 were motor vehicles and parts, down 1,492 carloads, to 17,589; grain, down 725 carloads, to 23,735; and miscellaneous carloads, down 400 carloads, to 8,919. For the first 49 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,747,921 carloads, up 3 percent from the same point last year; and 13,238,662 intermodal units, up 3.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 49 weeks of 2017 was 25,986,583 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending December 9, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,629 carloads, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 374,413 intermodal units, up 6.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 741,042 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 49 weeks of 2017 was 34,494,565 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 81,745 carloads for the week, up 10.3 percent, and 69,967 intermodal units, up 16.7 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 49 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,157,230 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.7 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,921 carloads for the week, up 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,653 intermodal units, up 3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 49 weeks of 2017 was 1,350,752 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 12/13)

    LIRR ANNOUNCES TIMETABLE CHANGES DUE TO AMTRAK'S WORK TO RENEW PENN STATION TRACKS: As a result of Amtrak’s previously announced track work at Penn Station to take place beginning January 5, MTA Long Island Rail Road today announced that it will reroute five of the 98 morning rush hour trains that normally go to Penn Station and three of the 86 evening rush hour trains that normally depart from Penn Station. To reduce the impact of these diversions, the LIRR is adding five trains before or after rush hours -- two in the morning and three in the afternoon/evening. The LIRR is also adding cars to five trains to increase seating capacity. In addition, two evening rush hour trains will be combined with alternative trains that depart within six to 11 minutes and serve all affected stations. “With five percent of rush hour trains being affected compared with 20 percent during Amtrak’s intensive work at Penn this past summer, this will have a significantly smaller impact than the one felt this past summer. We are committed to providing our customers with exemplary service and travel options despite this small disruption. We are maintaining capacity by lengthening select trains and adding trains just before and just after rush hours when we have available timeslots,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. Passengers should look to timetables effective Monday, January 8, for details. Other rush hour trains may have scheduling changes of one to two minutes, or may have station stops adjusted to accommodate connections. (MTA - posted 12/12)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN BEGINS RUNNING TRAINS OVER NEW PORTAGEVILLE BRIDGE: After two years of construction across a 235-foot-deep river gorge in Letchworth State Park, Norfolk Southern has begun operating trains across the new Portageville Bridge on its Southern Tier Line.mtrak - posted 12/11) Known regionally as the Portage Bridge, the 963-foot-long steel arch railroad span will support economic growth and jobs across New York's Southern Tier region, connecting businesses from Buffalo to Albany with markets east and west. The new bridge will speed up train traffic and enable Norfolk Southern to run heavier rail car loads over the line, eliminating a major rail bottleneck for freight shippers. The $75-million single-track bridge, which spans the Genesee River Gorge, was funded through a public-private partnership among Norfolk Southern, the New York State Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration. At 2:20 p.m. Monday, Norfolk Southern's 36T, an eastbound general merchandise train running from Buffalo to Allentown, Pa., with stops in Corning and Binghamton, N.Y., became the first to run across the new bridge. "This is a very exciting day for Norfolk Southern and for the future of freight rail service in New York's Southern Tier region," said James A. Squires, chairman, president and CEO. "The successful completion of this bridge is an excellent demonstration of how the public and private sectors can work together on freight transportation projects that generate significant public benefits and are vital to U.S. commerce. It's also a testament to Norfolk Southern's robust bridge program and the ingenuity of engineers and railroaders." "The new Portageville Bridge complements the beauty of Letchworth State Park while providing safer, more efficient freight rail service," said New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. "Through a combined effort with Norfolk Southern, government leaders and the public, we have built a modern arch bridge which will support economic growth in the region and continue our drive to strengthen and modernize transportation infrastructure across the state for generations to come." In addition to enhancing rail safety and operating efficiencies, the new bridge expands freight capacity and business opportunities for shippers from the Midwest to New England. With the new bridge, Norfolk Southern can now transport rail cars over the Southern Tier Line loaded to the industry standard 286,000 pounds, a key benefit for customers. The old iron truss bridge it replaces, built in 1875 by the Erie Railroad, was unable to support modern freight rail needs – car weights had to be reduced 13,000 pounds below the standard, while train speed was restricted to 10 mph. Trains crossing the new bridge will operate at up to 30 mph. "I'm immensely pleased with the revitalization of the Portageville Bridge," said New York State Assemblyman David DiPietro. "Investing in infrastructure and supporting businesses that create it is central to a strong economy. The jobs created by these ventures and the efforts surrounding the Portageville Bridge are vital to our local economy. Creating opportunities to expand both business markets and infrastructure is something we must always stress, and this is the perfect union to achieve that." Among New York-based businesses benefitting from the new bridge are 10 short line railroads that service and connect local industries to Norfolk Southern's network. Norfolk Southern transports freight over the Southern Tier Line for about 1,100 customers in more than 20 states. The line serves as a gateway for trade with Canada and provides a connection to New York City and New England markets. "This new, state-of-the art bridge over the Genesee River Gorge is an engineering marvel and will enhance train traffic across the region," said New York State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan. "It also complements the beauty of Letchworth State Park and helps to restore the river to its natural state for the first time in nearly 150 years. This public-private sector project, funded by New York State, the Federal Highway Administration, and Norfolk Southern, will serve our community for decades." The design and construction budget for the bridge project included $15.5 million provided through New York State, including a $2 million grant from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and $13.5 million in state and federal funds through the New York State Department of Transportation; and $59.5 million from Norfolk Southern. The bridge's arch design minimizes the railroad's environmental footprint in the Genesee River Gorge and complements the scenic vistas found in Letchworth State Park. (NS - posted 12/11)

    FREIGHT RAILROADS REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH FOUR MORE UNION: The National Railway Labor Conference has announced that the nation's major freight railroads have reached tentative agreements with the Brotherhood Railway Carmen (BRC), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Transportation Communications Union (TCU). The new agreements cover more than 31,000 employees and are subject to membership ratification. The contract terms cover wages, benefits, and other issues. The Transport Workers Union, which represents a limited number of employees in this bargaining, is also a party to these agreements. The railroads have now reached agreements with unions covering 116,000 employees, about 80 percent of the 145,000 employees in this bargaining round. The following unions, which represent 81,000 employees in the bargaining, have already ratified their agreements with the railroads:
    • American Train Dispatchers Association
    • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
    • Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
    • International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers - Transportation Division including Yardmasters
    "These new agreements, which follow the terms established in the earlier agreements, bring us closer to the resolution of negotiations with all the unions," said A. Kenneth Gradia, Chairman of the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC), the railroads' bargaining representative. The NCCC represents more than 30 railroads, including BNSF, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, in national bargaining with twelve rail unions. Bargaining began in 2015. (National Railway Labor Conference, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/11)

    AMTRAK IN NORFOLK MARKS FIVE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Amtrak celebrates five years of bringing passenger rail service to the waterfront city of Norfolk, Va. The Amtrak Northeast Regional connects the Hampton Roads area to the national rail network of more than 500 destinations. Norfolk was the highest-performing city pair in the Virginia state-supported system for Fiscal Year 2017. The route, Washington, D.C., to Norfolk, served a total of 155,389 customers, with ridership for the Norfolk station at 47,493. “The success of the Norfolk service testifies to the progressive vision the Commonwealth has brought to bringing real alternatives for residents to travel,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak Vice President of State-Supported Services Business Development. “Increasing ridership for all the routes in Virginia speaks to how many people recognize trains as the smarter way to travel.” The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) supports six Northeast Regional trains that serve Norfolk, Richmond, Newport News, Lynchburg and Roanoke and provide a same-seat trip to other cities along the Northeast Corridor. The Norfolk station is also a stop for the Thruway bus connection for service to the Amtrak station in Newport News, Va. “It is our mission to provide transportation options, and the success of the Norfolk line proves the Commonwealth’s commitment to its citizens,” DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell said. “We are incredibly proud to celebrate the service’s fifth anniversary, and we look forward to continuing our work expanding passenger rail in Virginia, including two new trains serving Norfolk in the next four years.” Amtrak, DRPT, and the city of Norfolk partnered to bring intercity passenger rail back to the city for the first time since 1977. “Norfolk has worked hard to establish itself as the most multimodal city in the region, and is grateful that Amtrak believed that resuming passenger rail service was an opportunity and not a challenge,” Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander said. “The celebration of this milestone is further proof that Norfolk is committed to providing dynamic transportation options for all of South Hampton Roads.” (Amtrak - posted 12/11)

    CSX FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILMENT IN UNION, N.J.: Eastbound CSX train Q494 derailed in three different locations in the vicinity of CP Townley, along the Lehigh Line in Union, N.J. The train, powered by three CSX locomotives, had 141 freight cars in tow. Due to the derailment NJ Transit Raritan Valley Line service has been suspended between Cranford and Penn Station Newark. More details on the derailment as they become available. (12/08/17)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAINS 3,241 REPONSDERS ON ITS 2017 SAFETY TRAIN TOURS: Norfolk Southern in 2017 provided training to 3,241 first responders across its network on the company's safety train, a rolling learning lab that helps communities prepare for and safely respond to potential rail incidents. The safety train visited 23 communities across 14 states during its 2017 tour, providing free training to firefighters, law enforcement, emergency management personnel, and other first responders. "Safety is ingrained in all things at Norfolk Southern, but emergency response preparedness is something that stands apart," said John Irwin, assistant vice president safety and environmental. "I want to thank all of the emergency responders across our system who took advantage of this opportunity over the past year to experience the hands-on training on our hazmat safety train." During the safety train's final stop of the year, Nov. 27-Dec. 1 in Greensboro, North Carolina, firefighters participated in advanced tank car training on possible incidents involving the transport of hazardous materials. Norfolk Southern started the tour in March in Hagerstown, Maryland, and along the way provided training to first responders in Cresson, King of Prussia, and Allentown in Pennsylvania; Newark, Delaware.; Linden, New Jersey; Binghamton, New York; Canton and Columbus in Ohio; South Bend, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Asheville, North Carolina; Roanoke and Bristol in Virginia; Huntsville, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa in Alabama; Slidell, Louisiana; Macon and Savannah in Georgia; and Greenville and Charleston in South Carolina. Norfolk Southern rolled out the safety train in 2016 as part of the railroad's commitment to safe operations in the communities it serves. The safety train consists of a dedicated locomotive, two box cars converted into classrooms, three tank cars used in transporting all types of chemicals, and two flat cars equipped with intermodal containers and multiple tank car valve arrangements that can simulate leaks. "Our safety train is helping Norfolk Southern build and strengthen relationships with first responders across our network," said David Schoendorfer, system manager hazardous materials. "We want them to be equipped with the tools and resources they need to safely do their jobs when responding to potential rail incidents. It's all about helping our communities be prepared and safe." The train is part of Norfolk Southern's "Operation Awareness and Response" program to connect first responders with training resources. Part of the training focuses on AskRail™, a mobile application for first responders that provides real-time data about what rail cars are transporting, helping them make informed decisions when responding to a rail emergency. (Norfolk Southern - posted 12/08)

    PORT AUTHORITY BOARD AUTHORIZES PURCHASE OF 50 NEW RAIL CARS, SUBSTATION REPLACEMENT AND STATE-OF-GOOD-REPAIR PROJECTS FOR PATH SYSTEM: The Port Authority Board of Commissioners authorized a series of expenditures today to enhance PATH service, equipment and facilities throughout the system, including the purchase of 50 new rail cars, overhauling the current fleet to maintain state of good repair, as well as several Superstorm Sandy-related repair and replacement projects. To better accommodate growing ridership demands, the board authorized the purchase of 50 rail cars from Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc., with an option to eventually acquire another 22 cars subject to further board action. The rail car acquisition is funded under a $150 million allocation in the Port Authority’s 10-year capital plan adopted earlier this year. PATH ridership has increased steadily in recent years. In 2016, ridership reached a record 78.6 million passengers, and is expected to easily exceed 80 million this year, with an average weekday ridership of nearly 300,000 passengers. PATH also is working toward installation of a communications-based train control technology that will increase system-wide capacity, allow trains to run more frequently and efficiently and enhance passenger safety, while achieving Positive Train Control functionality by the federally mandated end of 2018 deadline. The commissioners also approved $79.5 million to replace and rehabilitate key components of the railroad’s current fleet of 350 PA-5 rail cars, as part of PATH’s maintenance cycle to ensure a continuing state of good repair. An additional $60 million was authorized for an overhaul of essential rail car components. In addition to the rail car purchase and maintenance allocations, the board approved the following PATH spending items:
    • $70.6 million for replacement and upgrade of PATH power substation No. 14, located at the railroad’s maintenance yard in Harrison. The authorization includes engineering and architectural costs for design and implementation. The existing substation was badly damaged in Superstorm Sandy.
    • $29.9 million for interlocking and track work at the Hoboken PATH station to repair extensive damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. Interlocking is a critical component for the operational flexibility and maneuvering of trains from two tunnel tracks to three stations tracks in Hoboken.
    “Demand on the PATH system is growing significantly with each passing year. Today’s board votes to purchase new rail cars and provide critical repair and maintenance work will go a long way to ensuring that our PATH customers continue to receive the highest and most efficient level of service,” said Board Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “The actions approved today provide the board with an important opportunity to improve our rail fleet for the foreseeable future and to make necessary repairs to restore the system in the wake of Superstorm Sandy,” said Port Authority Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford. (PANYNJ - posed 12/07)

    FLORIDA EAST COAST'S EIGHT ANNUAL CHRISTMAS TRAIN: Santa is coming to visit good boys and girls this week when Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway’s eighth annual Christmas Train comes to town on Saturday, December 9th. The FEC Christmas Train is run in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation and travels from Jacksonville to Miami along FEC Railway’s 351-mile mainline track. Along the way, Santa Claus will be spreading holiday cheer from the decorated, historic FEC passenger cars. US Marine Corps service members will be at each stop along the route to greet Santa and his FEC elves. Santa will de-board at each stop so children can tell him what they’d like for Christmas. It is a beloved tradition among FEC employees, their families, customers, suppliers and the communities in which they serve. posted 12/06) Santa and his merry train will make eight stops at the railroad crossings listed here for approximately 20 minutes, during which strict safety procedures will be in place for the security and enjoyment of everyone in attendance

    RAIL TRAFFIC FOR NOVEMBER AND THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 2, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending December 2, 2017, as well as volumes for November 2017. Intermodal rail traffic remains on pace to set a new annual record in 2017 with strong gains in November and last week marking the best rail intermodal week in history, surpassing multiple records set earlier this year. U.S. railroads originated 1,307,521 carloads in November 2017, down 0.9 percent, or 11,442 carloads, from November 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,369,160 containers and trailers in November 2017, up 3.8 percent, or 50,029 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in November 2017 were 2,676,681, up 1.5 percent, or 38,587 carloads and intermodal units from November 2016. In November 2017, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with November 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 16,402 carloads or 14.8 percent; metallic ores, up 5,810 carloads or 22.8 percent; and chemicals, up 5,465 carloads or 3.6 percent. Commodities that saw declines in November 2017 from November 2016 included: coal, down 22,560 carloads or 5 percent; grain, down 16,311 carloads or 12.7 percent; and petroleum & petroleum products, down 3,877 carloads or 7.2 percent. "U.S. rail carload traffic in November, like in October, had both a glass-is-half-empty and a glass-is-half-full feel to it," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "It's half empty because total carloads were down for the month, and railroads of course are concerned with their total level of business. However, the commodities that were the main reason for the decline in total carloads in November — coal, grain, and petroleum products — saw declines for reasons that don't have much to do with the state of the economy. So, the half-full feel comes from the fact that many traffic categories that are more sensitive to the economy did relatively well in November, which is a good sign for the economy going forward. The fact that intermodal grew solidly in November and will almost certainly set a new annual record in 2017 is a good sign as well." Excluding coal, carloads were up 11,118 carloads, or 1.3 percent, in November 2017 from November 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 27,429 carloads, or 3.7 percent. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 11 months of 2017 was 12,479,958 carloads, up 2.9 percent, or 356,660 carloads, from the same period last year; and 12,945,869 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent, or 467,141 containers and trailers, from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 48 weeks of 2017 was 25,425,827 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.3 percent compared to last year. Week Ending December 2, 2017 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 572,794 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending December 2 were 280,351 carloads, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 292,443 containers and trailers, up 4.9 percent compared to 2016. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,682 carloads, to 38,905; chemicals, up 1,328 carloads, to 34,689; and coal, up 903 carloads, to 90,747. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 were petroleum and petroleum products, down 592 carloads, to 10,917; motor vehicles and parts, down 509 carloads, to 18,622; and forest products, down 266 carloads, to 10,620. North American rail volume for the week ending December 2, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 381,884 carloads, up 3.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 378,092 intermodal units, up 7.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 759,976 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 48 weeks of 2017 was 33,753,523 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 84,063 carloads for the week, up 5.5 percent, and 72,844 intermodal units, up 18.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 48 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,005,518 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,470 carloads for the week, up 6.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,805 intermodal units, up 3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 48 weeks of 2017 was 1,322,178 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 12/06)

    NJ TRANSIT PREPARED FOR WINTER WEATHER SEASON: NJ TRANSIT is giving customers a new tool this season in the annual battle with Old Man Winter. When inclement weather limits train service, customers will be able to use new Severe Weather Schedules to clearly identify their travel options and keep moving through the snow and ice. “In the midst of winter weather, visibility outside may be low, but we want our customers to have a clear picture of how much service we can safely operate and when their next train will be departing,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “Our operations divisions statewide have prepared the transit system, equipment and facilities, and these Severe Weather Schedules allow our customers to be prepared as well.” During severe weather events, or other emergency situations, NJ TRANSIT may need to operate a limited weekday rail schedule, which will be designated as “Severe Weather Schedule – Level 1” or “Severe Weather Schedule – Level 2.” Customers will be informed through MyTransit alerts, social media, NJ TRANSIT’s website and mobile app as well as broadcast and print media when a Severe Weather Schedule is implemented “Severe Weather Schedule-Level 1” and “Severe Weather Schedule-Level 2” are now available for viewing, downloading and printing at njtransit.com. Printed severe weather schedules will be available December 7th at select stations, terminals and Customer Service offices. Customers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Severe Weather Schedules in the event that conditions warrant their implementation. Snow fighting supplies and equipment across the state are stocked and ready to be deployed as conditions warrant. NJ TRANSIT is busy inspecting and winterizing its infrastructure, equipment and stations to be in the best possible position to handle winter’s potential fury. (NJ Transit - posted 12/06)

    TORONTO METROLINX DIRECTORS TO DISCUSS EXPANSION: The Metrolinx Board of Directors will meet on Thursday, December 7 to hear a number of updates as the agency continues to build, plan and coordinate transit across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Directors will hear updates on the draft Regional Transportation Plan, the PRESTO privacy review, and a new model for conducting business cases. (Metrolinx - posted 12/05)

    NEW MIAMI SUBWAY CARS: For the first time since the Metrorail system opened its doors to passengers back in 1984, the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) placed its first new train into service today – ushering in a new era of modern, high-tech trains manufactured by Hitachi Rail Italy that will improve both service reliability and overall riding experience. Funded by approximately $313.8 Million in surtax funds from People’s Transportation Plan, this is the first four-car train of 136 cars that will make up the new Metrorail fleet, which will greatly improve the quality of service of the Metrorail system. The replacement of the Metrorail fleet is being expedited and Hitachi Rail has increased the number of crews performing testing. Each new rail car features:
    • Automated announcements with upgraded sound
    • Digital signs displaying the name of the next station
    • Four digital monitors for extensive media content
    • High capacity, high-speed Wi-Fi (252 passengers can surf the web while on board)
    • Interior bicycle racks
    • Security cameras
    • Energy efficient LED lighting
    "Hitachi Rail designed our new Metrorail trains exclusively for Miami-Dade County. This means that there are no other rail trains like ours in the world,” said DTPW Director Alice N. Bravo, P.E. “Thanks to Hitachi Rail, the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, and DTPW staff, we were able to place the first Metrorail train into service just 20 months after assembly began. Moving forward, as new Metrorail trains are phased in, riders will begin to see improvements in service and enjoy a more comfortable ride." By July 2018, DTPW anticipates to have half of the cars needed to operate at peak levels replaced. By the end of 2019, DTPW will have all the new rail cars needed for peak-revenue service. Video of the new train is available at https://dl.orangedox.com/NRGnbBhdbo2bcls6fP (Miami Dade County - posted 12/04)



    NEW SEPTA SPRINTER AND MARC CHARGERS ENROUTE: The Siemens assembly facility in Sacremento, California has released SEPTA ACS-64 901 and MARC SC-44 Chargers 80, 81, 82. All four locomotives departed Sacremento on December 1 via Union Pacific special train SFLES-01. SEPTA has 13 ASC-64 locomotives on order, with an option for five additional. SEPTA will be receiving eight Chargers. (Andy Kirk, John Krattinger - posted 12/03)

    TWO MAJOR UNIONS JOIN IN RATIFYING AGREEMENTS WITH THE FREIGHT RAILROADS: The National Railway Labor Conference has announced that almost 80 percent of the members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers - Transportation Division (SMART-TD), including its Yardmasters Division, and 88 percent of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLET) members have ratified new contract terms with the nation's largest freight railroads. As a result, four of the six unions in the coalition known as the Coordinated Bargaining Group ("CBG") have now ratified tentative agreements reached with the railroads in early October. The unions in the CBG represent almost 60 percent of the 145,000 employees covered in this bargaining round. "Ratification of these agreements demonstrates that collective bargaining in the rail industry succeeds when the parties are committed to doing the hard work necessary to find common ground," said A. Kenneth Gradia, Chairman of the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC), the railroads' bargaining representative. "These agreements serve as a pattern for the resolution of national negotiations with the rest of the rail unions." Two other CBG members, the American Train Dispatchers Association and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, recently announced the ratification of their tentative agreements. The NCCC represents more than 30 railroads, including BNSF, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, in national bargaining with twelve rail unions. Bargaining began in 2015. (National Railway Labor Conference, Randy Kotuby - posted 12/01)

    BLET MEMBERS RATIFY NATIONAL CONTRACT: Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC). The Agreement was reached as a result of the BLET's participation in the Coordinated Bargaining Group, with five other Unions. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of the voting BLET members voted in favor of the five-year agreement, which covers rates of pay, health & welfare and other fringe benefits for approximately 25,000 BLET members nationwide. There are no work rule changes in the new contract. It includes general wage increases of 13.14 percent over the life of the agreement and full retroactive payment for general wage increases for 2016 and 2017. The agreement covers locomotive engineers employed by the following railroads: Belt Railway of Chicago; BNSF Railway; Conrail; CSX Transportation (H&W only); Indiana Harbor Belt; Kansas City Southern System (KCS/L&A, Gateway Western, MidSouth, South Rail, and Tex Mex); Longview Switching; Norfolk Southern (H&W only); Portland Terminal; Soo Line Railroad (H&W only); Union Railroad (H&W only); Union Pacific Railroad; and Winston-Salem Southbound. It also covers all train service employees on the Texas Mexican Railway. The BLET's National Wage Committee, led by National President Dennis R. Pierce, began negotiations for this new contract in January of 2015, shortly after the BLET filed its Section 6 notice with the NCCC in November of 2014. "I want to thank the members who took the time to cast their vote. The BLET is a membership-driven union; in fact, rank and file ratification of our contracts is one of the democratic cornerstones of the Union movement," National President Pierce said. "It is clear to me that our members took the time to study the issues before making a very careful choice. BLET members show their strength every time they get involved, and I again thank all members who took the time to participate in their own future. I must also thank the other Unions who bargained with the Coordinated Bargaining Group. BLET members benefited from the solidarity shown by the CBG, and my hope is that these Unions will continue to work together going forward." The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents more than 55,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters. (BLET- posted 12/01)

    VIA RAIL REPORTS DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH IN Q3 2017: VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) published its third quarter results of 2017 today and reported on another successful quarter. As the positive trend continued, ridership increased by 11.7%, compared to the same period in 2016 while revenues increased by 13.9%,including a passenger revenue increase of 14.8%. With more travellers aboard, a total of 296 million miles were journeyed on its trains all across the country over the quarter, up 15% from 2016. “As Canada’s 150th anniversary year draws to a close, I am happy to report another successful quarter at VIA Rail, worthy of its own celebration. Over the past three months, we have witnessed several impressive achievements, including our 14th consecutive quarter of revenue growth and our 7th consecutive quarter of ridership growth — both increasing by double digits compared to last year. One explanation for these exceptional results can be found in the commitment of VIA Rail employees. Over the last 12 months, employee engagement has reached an all-time high of 62% which marks a 5% improvement over last year and a remarkable 16% improvement since 2014. ” said VIA Rail’s President and CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. 3rd Quarter Report Highlights A summer worthy of celebration In August, VIA Rail posted record passenger revenues of close to $38 million, which is the highest revenue month on record. Also, over Labour Day weekend, VIA Rail experienced double-digit growth, compared to last year. Taking part in the festivities July 1 marked Canada’s official 150th birthday, and VIA Rail was there, participating in many of the festivities across the country. In fact, in July, over 4,000 young Canadians travelled aboard its trains to explore the nation’s incredible sights, thanks to VIA Rail’s Canada 150 Youth Pass. The pass, which offered unlimited travel from coast to coast over the month, was an overwhelming success, and passengers proudly shared their memories online (using the hashtag #VIACanada150), and through VIA: The blog.
    • Putting Passengers First VIA Rail’s successful “Why don’t you take the train?” marketing campaign continued this quarter with a focus on drivers. Smart and timely media messages encouraged travellers to leave their cars at home and avoid traffic jams and stress by choosing the train. Also, in order to better serve passengers’ needs, VIA Rail has made improvements to its train schedule in the Eastern Corridor, with an added round trip on Sundays between Ottawa and Québec City, and added stops in Saint-Hyacinthe, which gives people an opportunity to commute from Montréal for the work day. As part of its contribution to the reduction of the carbon footprint of Canadian travellers, VIA Rail has started installing electric car charging stations in the parking lots of stations in Windsor (Ont), Sainte-Foy and Québec City.
    • Strengthening our Assets In September, VIA Rail celebrated the 100th anniversary of its heritage train station in Alexandria (Ont). The day was celebrated with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and the gift of ten sugar maple trees to residents of the Township of North Glengarry, representing the Station’s ten decades of history and the collaboration between the township and VIA Rail. To improve the service offer in Vancouver, the Panorama Business class lounge was re-opened in May after it underwent a full makeover. The décor is in line with those found at other VIA’s Business lounges in other cities, and offers a more comfortable visit. Innovating for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Sustainable mobility is an integral part of VIA Rail and how it conducts its business. Over the third quarter of 2017, VIA Rail made significant progress on projects that are aligned with its sustainable mobility pillars:
    • Supporting Socio-Economic Development Welcoming new Canadians and international students As part of its partnership with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, VIA Rail has offered a discount to close to 27,000 new Canadians since its launch in July 2012. This quarter, VIA Rail hosted a citizenship ceremony in Québec City. Thirty new Canadians were sworn in at the Gare du Palais train station. · In addition, VIA Rail has joined the initiatives of Montréal International and Québec International as part of their retention programs for international students.
    • Strong ties to the Canadian Armed Forces As part of its offer to members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans and their families, VIA Rail has welcomed 18.6% more members of the military community on its trains over the first three quarters of 2017 compared to the same time frame in 2016. · VIA Rail took part in many events of importance to the military community such as the 2017 edition of the Army Run, the Commando Challenge, the annual conferences of both the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research and Canada Company, the 2017 Highway of Heroes Bike Ride of Wounded Warriors, and the Invictus Games Toronto 2017.
    • Partnering with indigenous communities Committed to enhancing its relationship with Canada’s Indigenous communities, VIA Rail became a member of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business to forge closer ties with Indigenous businesses and surrounding communities. Promoting Canada’s official languages Over the quarter, VIA Rail contributed to the development of linguistic minority communities in Canada by participating in the Centaur Theatre’s annual gala in Montréal for the third consecutive year.
    • VIA Rail in the communities In an effort to better serve the cities and towns along its route, over 76 formal meetings were held with stakeholders from various levels of government, business communities as well as groups associated with sustainable mobility in many communities served by VIA Rail throughout the third quarter.
    • Report on Activities On-time performance VIA Rail’s on-time performance (OTP) in the Québec City – Windsor corridor decreased for the third consecutive quarter and is now at 71%. The Ocean’s OTP reached 86%, while its Western service, the Canadian, was challenged by significant increase of freight traffic in western Canada resulting in very few trains meeting their scheduled arrival times. Service between Churchill and Gillam suspended VIA Rail’s service from Gillam to Churchill in Northern Manitoba remained suspended due to flooding. As of the fall, VIA Rail temporarily modified the schedule between Winnipeg and Gillam to better serve its customers and the communities in the area, until the full route to Churchill is reinstated. Reduce our Environmental Impact
    • Improving efficiency VIA Rail completed the replacement of original lighting fixtures with LED lighting fixtures in the Toronto Maintenance Center’s (TMC) outdoor yard, following the TMC’s interior lights replacement completed earlier in 2017. The energy savings have been evaluated at approximately 2,200,000 kWh per year which translates into a savings of $250,000 per year in operating expenses. For more information on VIA Rail’s quarterly report, you can download the full electronic version at: viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/governance-and-reports/quarterly-reports
    (VIA Rail Canada - posted 11/30)

    NYC TRANSIT TO HOST OPEN HOUSE FOR CUSTOMER FEEDBACK ON DESIGN OF NEW SUBWAY CARS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority today announced that it will offer tours to the public – and solicit feedback – of a prototype of its newest class of subway cars over the next week. Customers will have the opportunity to see the new car design and its features up close from Thursday, Nov. 30 through Wednesday, December 6. at the 7 line subway station mezzanine at 34th Street - Hudson Yards. The prototype will be open for public viewing from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. MTA staff will be on-hand to take feedback and help customers fill out surveys on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Customers are welcome to tweet their thoughts to @MTA, @NYCTSubway or write to us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MTANewYorkCityTransit . There will also be a link available on mta.info for customer feedback. “Developing a first-in-class subway car is an essential part of modernizing our subway system,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “It is important that our subway customers provide their feedback in this process and we hope they will do so after visiting the prototype. Ultimately, our customers will be riding these cars each day and their input is very important.” The New Technology R211 cars feature 58-inch door spans, which are eight inches wider than standard doors on existing cars. The expanded doors are designed to reduce delays and speed up train movement by speeding boarding and reducing the amount of time trains sit in stations. The cars also include digital displays that will provide real-time information about service and stations, new grab rails including double-poles, brighter lighting, signage, and safety graphics. Some of the initial R211 cars will feature, as a pilot program, an “open gangway” located at the ends of the cars. This open design features soft accordion-like walls, and allows riders to move freely between cars to reduce crowding and distribute passenger loads more evenly throughout the train. The feedback will be shared with the car’s designers and the Car Equipment Division of NYC Transit to help better inform how the cars are ultimately produced. Delivery of new cars for testing will begin in 2020. The new cars will ultimately operate on the “B Division” of the subway, which are the lettered routes, as well as the Staten Island Railway. (MTA - posted 11/29)

    MBTA MAKING GREEN LINE TRACK IMPROVEMENTS: The MBTA provided the Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) with an update on major short-term improvements with Green Line track areas along with a long-term strategic plan for continued track maintenance, which will improve service for customers and increase the reliability of the fleet. Using accelerated rail replacement techniques, the MBTA’s Track Department has accomplished the installation of 500 or more feet of new track in 3-hour segments during overnight hours, work that previously took entire weekends to complete. These methods include pre-welding rail to the desired length, pre-staging materials, pre-installation of tie and plate work, and post-installation material removal. To date, work has consisted of the replacement of nearly 25,000 feet of track, and approximately 1,000 ties and tie plates, leading to a reduction in track defects by 50 percent. The corresponding upgrades have led to the lifting of speed restrictions in place at certain locations where work was performed; the MBTA estimates that lifting those speed restrictions resulted in improved travel times of 7 minutes. These and other short-term improvements set the foundation for core infrastructure work, which will be done in the months and years ahead as part of a comprehensive Green Line Track Renewal Plan. “Finding new ways to increase productivity in essential track work like this is the key to making real progress toward our State of Good Repair backlog,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. “But even more important, this takes into account the needs of our customers by executing on this work with precise coordination and synchronicity, and to make the most amount of progress we can within into the smallest incremental disruptions to normal service hours.” “Our success here is the product of working in a more coordinated manner to make even more progress within the time we have,” said Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville. “Given the results of these internal process improvements, going forward, we’ll be looking to the Green Line track replacement as the model for how we can maximize our efforts on other lines and continue to tackle our State of Good Repair needs.” Green Line track replacement and maintenance work in the last 2 years has included:
    • rail gauge face angle upgrades on over 90,000 feet of rail
    • upgraded crossings at Packards Corner, St. Paul Street, Summit Avenue, and Lake Street
    • the ongoing development of new training methods and track renewal plan
    • optimization of the Track Geometry Collection
    • upgrades to Type 8 Trucks Yaw Device and Primary Suspension
    • the execution of track work contracts
    • flange lubricators deployed on all Type 8 Green Line cars
    • LIDAR data collected on the entire Green Line
    • improvements to work methods that have led to the dramatic increase in lengths of continuously welded rail during night shifts
    These completed improvements have resulted in the major reduction of wheel wear, which has directly contributed to an increase in Green Line fleet availability and reduced demand on the Riverside truck shop. Derailment risks are also significantly reduced with 100 percent of all Type 8 Center Truck Flange Lubricators installed. While these major short-term improvements have had significantly positive results for MBTA customers, a long-term plan is necessary to continue to upgrade the Green Line’s track. Last replaced in the 1970s and 1980s, the Green Line’s rail, ties, and other track components will eventually not be able to be maintained to standard and will require full replacement. The total duration and cost of Green Line track renewal is dependent upon the access the MBTA is allowed to have to do the work, which could include full week, weekend, or evening shutdowns with Green Line service replaced with dedicated shuttle buses. Next steps for updating the Green Line include:
    • finalizing the Green Line Track Renewal Plan
    • approval from the Fiscal and Management Control Board regarding accessing the track area for replacement
    • developing contingency plans
    • integrating MBTA and other stakeholder activity to maximize work efficiency and minimize disruptions
    Construction costs of the Green Line track replacement project are estimated at $120 million with an estimated duration of approximately 36 months. (MBTA - posted 11/29)

    WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 25, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 25, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 463,602 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending November 25 were 230,326 carloads, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 233,276 containers and trailers, up 4.7 percent compared to 2016. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 4,507 carloads, to 29,579; metallic ores and metals, up 1,616 carloads, to 19,802; and motor vehicles and parts, up 1,537 carloads, to 14,309. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 3,820 carloads, to 18,771; coal, down 2,192 carloads, to 81,340; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,044 carloads, to 14,531. For the first 47 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,199,607 carloads, up 3 percent from the same point last year; and 12,653,426 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 47 weeks of 2017 was 24,853,033 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.3 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending November 25, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 324,960 carloads, up 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 309,922 intermodal units, up 5.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 634,882 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 47 weeks of 2017 was 32,993,547 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 78,305 carloads for the week, essentially flat compared to last year, and 65,648 intermodal units, up 8.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 47 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,848,611 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.6 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,329 carloads for the week, up 3.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,998 intermodal units, up 0.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 47 weeks of 2017 was 1,291,903 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 11/29)

    TTC BEGINS TESTING SERVICE TESTING ON LINE 1 EXTENSION: This Sun., Nov. 26, the TTC entered the final stages of testing on the Line 1 extension with the beginning of so-called 'ghost service' between Sheppard West and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre stations. Starting this weekend until full service starts on Dec. 17, trains will off-load customers at Sheppard West Station then continue north, stopping at all new stations. From Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station, trains will return south, simulate regular service and pick up customers at Sheppard West Station on its way to Finch Station. This testing gets the TTC closer to the completion of the 8.6 kilometre extension as the TTC prepares to operate both an extension to Line 1 and introduce a state of the art signalling system - the first in Canada. TTC operators will use the next three weeks to become familiar with the extension and its new features like ATC, ensuring service is reliable when the extension opens. Trips will also be timed for service planning purposes and, if needed, adjusted to maintain service levels. Also beginning this Sunday, the way customers board and exit trains at Sheppard West will change. Customers will exit on the northbound side of the platform and only be able to board on the southbound side. Station staff will set up barricades and direct customers to help them adjust to the change. The Line 1 extension features six, modern, bright, energy-efficient stations all equipped with the TTC's new fare gates with PRESTO. It is the first time a TTC subway will cross regional municipal boundaries. The extension is jointly funded by the government of Canada, province of Ontario, the City of Toronto and the Regional Municipality of York (TTC - posted 11/28)

    FOLLOW CP HOLIDAY TRAIN VIA A NEW ONLINE TRAIN TRACKER: The CP Holiday Train rolled out on Saturday, November 25, on its journey to raise funds and awareness for hunger issues in North America. Jim Cuddy, Devin Cuddy, Jonathan Roy and Kelly Prescott will kick-off the tour at Adirondack Junction/Kahnawake in Montreal at 6:25 p.m. ET. A second train will leave from Montreal West, with a show by Colin James and Emma-Lee on Sunday, November 26 at 6:45 p.m. ET. New this year is the CP Holiday Train tracker, an online tool that allows our massive following in North America and beyond to track the train as it makes its way across the continent. To follow along, please visit http://www.cpr.ca/holiday-train/ For more information and regular updates about the CP Holiday Train and its journey, visit our Facebook page facebook.com/HolidayTrain and check out the new promotional video about what to expect this year https://www.facebook.com/HolidayTrain/videos/10155389435098495/ (CP, Randy Kotuby - posted 11/27)

    WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 18, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 18, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 554,066 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending November 18 were 266,927 carloads, down 1.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 287,139 containers and trailers, up 3.9 percent compared to 2016. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included metallic ores and metals, up 4,537 carloads, to 23,696; nonmetallic minerals, up 3,675 carloads, to 38,355; and chemicals, up 1,334 carloads, to 31,939. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 8,528 carloads, to 86,185; grain, down 3,841 carloads, to 21,926; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 887 carloads, to 10,184. For the first 46 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,969,281 carloads, up 3 percent from the same point last year; and 12,420,150 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 46 weeks of 2017 was 24,389,431 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending November 18, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,131 carloads, down 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 367,840 intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 730,971 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 46 weeks of 2017 was 32,358,665 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 79,822 carloads for the week, down 2.5 percent, and 68,407 intermodal units, up 8.5 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 46 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,704,658 carloads, containers and trailers, up 10.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 16,382 carloads for the week, up 9.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,294 intermodal units, up 10.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 46 weeks of 2017 was 1,264,576 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.4 percent from the same point last year (AAR - posted 11/22)

    MTA ANNOUNCES ANDY BYFORD AS NEW PRESIDENT OF NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced today that Andy Byford will become the next President of New York City Transit, the MTA agency responsible for New York City subways, buses, paratransit services and the Staten Island Railway. A seasoned and highly regarded transportation professional whose work has taken him across three continents over nearly three decades, Byford joins NYC Transit after a widely hailed five-year stint as the CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), the third largest transit system in North America. Byford began his transit career at London Underground where, over 14 years, he rose to the position of General Manager of the Central, Bakerloo and Victoria Lines, three of its busiest subway lines. He oversaw increases in customer satisfaction and operational performance at the main line UK railway system and was Chief Operating Officer of Australia's largest transit system in Sydney. He will assume his position at NYC Transit in January. The hiring of Byford comes after an extensive and international search. “We are thrilled that Andy is going to lead NYC Transit during this time of great change,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. “Our transit system is the backbone of the world’s greatest city and having someone of Andy’s caliber to lead it will help immensely, particularly when it comes to implementing the Subway Action Plan that we launched this summer. In order to truly stabilize, modernize and improve our transit system, we needed a leader who has done this work at world-class systems and Andy’s successes in Toronto are evidence that he is up to this critically important task." “New York City’s public transit system has driven New York City to become the bustling, successful metropolis that it is, and it’s an honor to be trusted with the huge responsibility to modernize the system and bring it to the high levels of performance and customer service that New Yorkers truly deserve and rightfully expect,” Byford said. “I look forward to working with my new colleagues and all the employees of New York City Transit and the MTA, and, most importantly, our customers.” At the Toronto Transit Commission, Byford spearheaded several prominent initiatives including the development of a corporate plan aimed at completely modernizing the TTC and improving all aspects of operational performance. Under his leadership, subway delays have been reduced, customer satisfaction has hit record levels, and a number of major projects progressed, including the phased introduction of a modern signal system and the imminent completion of a major subway line extension. These improvements led to the TTC being named by the American Public Transportation Association as its Outstanding Transit System of the Year for 2017. In June, Byford was a member of a panel presenting about international best practices at the MTA Genius Transit Challenge, where he described his successful efforts to modernize and improve Toronto’s subway system. At NYC Transit, Byford will be responsible for leading the immediate and long-term modernization of one of the oldest and largest transit systems in the world, including ensuring the success of the Subway Action Plan, which aims to stabilize and modernize the subway system by targeting the key drivers of delays. The most recent permanent president for NYC Transit was Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, currently MTA Managing Director. NYC Transit has nearly 50,000 employees throughout the five boroughs. A native of the United Kingdom, Byford holds an honors degree from the University of Leicester. MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim said: "I look forward to working closely with Andy in his new role as President of New York City Transit. Having held the position myself I can say with certainty that it's an immensely challenging job but also deeply rewarding. Andy is incredibly well regarded in the transportation world and did outstanding things in Toronto. I'm confident he will do the same here in New York." MTA President Patrick Foye said: "To function as a first-rate transit system, you need a first-rate transit leader and Andy is precisely that. His command of urban transit issues is second to none and he is invested in getting the details right. NYC Transit faces serious issues, but Andy is up to the challenge and we are excited to have him on board." MTA Chief Operating Officer Phil Eng said: “Transit in a city as diverse as New York presents a unique set of challenges, and Andy’s global leadership experience make him well-suited for the task. I welcome him aboard and look forward to working alongside him as we strengthen and grow the transit system.” TTC Chair Josh Colle said: "Andy knows how to make tough choices and get people to buy in. He is the consummate leader: driven, fair, passionate, and highly effective. Toronto's loss is New York's gain and I have little doubt that he will bring world class leadership to the North America's biggest subway system. While we are incredibly disappointed to see him go, we wish him the best in the Big Apple." protections will be incorporated into the design of the new system. Mobility information will be separated from PII so an individual’s transit trip cannot be linked to that person unless the customer gives his/her permission. The privacy requirements embedded in the MBTA’s new fare collection system are above and beyond the industry standard (MTA - posted 11/21/17)

    MBTA FISCAL AND MANAGEMENT CONTROL BOARD AWARDS CONTRACT TO ADVANCE AFC 2.0: Taking a major step toward a new system that will simplify fare collection and improve the delivery of transit services, the MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board today voted to award a multi-year contract to the consortium of Cubic-John Laing for the design, integration, and implementation of a new Automated Fare Collection system. Known as AFC 2.0, the new system has a total program value, for capital and operating costs, of approximately $723 million, which includes operating costs through 2031. MBTA customers will begin to experience the first elements of the new system late in 2019. Full implementation will occur by mid-2020 followed by a retirement of the existing system in 2021. "As the first public-private partnership for the MBTA, this method will allow a major customer service improvement to advance in a cost-effective manner," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "The contract structure for AFC 2.0 is a crucial component of this project because it serves as a method to deliver the project, to finance it, and to free up our own internal resources to focus on other critical MBTA efforts." "This isn’t just the next generation of fare collection, but an entirely new way that our customers will interact with the MBTA," said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. "The new system will be compatible with all modes, will provide more options for paying fares and will have more fare media available for use. To be clear, we still have much work ahead of us to involve our customers, stakeholders, and members of the community to ensure we all realize the benefits of the new system. But today is a major step forward in our partnership with the Cubic-John Laing team to completely transform and modernize our system of fare collection." AFC 2.0 is moving forward under a public-private partnership model with incentives for the contractor to ensure the infrastructure is operational, with risk-sharing agreements for the financing, and requires the contractor to perform system maintenance over the 10-year agreement. Under the new system, MBTA customers will be able to pay fares by tapping debit and credit cards at fare gates and fare boxes. The new system will also allow for the use of mobile phones through which customers can use apps such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. In addition, the system includes a contactless fare card, similar to the existing CharlieCard. The new system will also allow all-door boarding on the Green Line and on buses. Additionally, accessible fare gates will be five inches wider than the current gates; standard fare gates will be seven inches wider. Benefits of the new system include:
    • Faster buses and Green Line trains: With shorter lines and reduced boarding times, buses and Green Line trains will have reduced “dwell times.”
    • Tap everywhere: The ability to tap and board the same way on all buses, trains, commuter rail and ferries.
    • Use of smartphone or contactless credit card: Travel without a fare card by tapping with contactless credit cards or smartphones. Even if customers tap with a smartphone, they will be able to reload using cash.
    • Pay before boarding more easily: Get a new fare card or reload at fare vending machines located in all subway stations and at some bus stops, as well as select retail locations.
    • Account management: Customers can check their balances, access travel history, reload or replace a lost card online, or by phone through the MBTA’s call center.
    • Accessibility improvements: The entire system will be designed for a broad range of accessibility needs, by user experience specialists. And the website and mobile app will be compliant with digital accessibility guidelines.
    Of utmost importance to the MBTA is protecting each customer’s personally identifiable information (PII), and the necessary protections will be incorporated into the design of the new system. Mobility information will be separated from PII so an individual’s transit trip cannot be linked to that person unless the customer gives his/her permission. The privacy requirements embedded in the MBTA’s new fare collection system are above and beyond the industry standard (MBTA - posted 11/21/17)

    TORONTO'S NEW LINE 1 SUBWAY EXTENSION: Toronto Transit Commission's new 8.6 kilometer Line 1 subway extension is scheduled to open for service on Sunday, December 18. Known as the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE), it will feature six new stations between Shepard West and Vaughnan Transportation Center. The new extension will be state-of-the-art, featuring automatic train control, WiFi for the passengers, and stations will feature the Presto fare card system. (posted 11/20)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN THANKSGIVING PLANS: Norfolk Southern will operate a normal road train schedule for the upcoming 2017 Thanksgiving holiday. Local and Yard trains will operate as governed by volumes and customer needs. (NS - posted 11/17)

    CANADIAN PACIFIC'S HOLIDAY TRAIN: ?With its biggest ever lineup of Canadian talent, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train is set to close out Canada 150 with its 19th annual tour. The CP Holiday Train program launched in 1999 and has since raised more than C$13 million and four million pounds of food for communities along CP's routes in Canada and the United States. Beginning in Montreal, Quebec, on November 25 and 26, 2017 respectively, two trains will make the festive journey, travelling through both the U.S. and Canada to bring holiday cheer to 171 communities along CP's network. Each event is completely free, with CP encouraging every attendee to open their cupboards or wallets to ease hunger needs in their community. Local food banks will be accepting donations at each stop to ensure those less fortunate can access adequate food this holiday season and year-round. "The Holiday Train program is all about local food banks and food shelves and the critical role they play in our communities," said Keith Creel, CP's President and Chief Executive Officer. "People come for the beautifully-lit train and stay for the incredible show – all in the name of community. The holiday season is the best time of the year, and we look forward to bringing together thousands of Canadians and Americans this season for this incredibly important cause and a great time." CP is also encouraging fans of the train to donate heart-healthy food, as everyone should have access to healthy, nutritious food, regardless of circumstances. This supports the mission of CP Has Heart, a program dedicated to improving the heart health of men, women and children in North America. To date, this program has raised C$12 million for cardiac care and research. The 2017 edition of the Holiday Train also concludes CP's Canada 150 celebrations and the Canadian train will feature the Spirit of Tomorrow car, which was part of the Canada 150 Train this past summer. "I am delighted that Canadian Pacific will be bringing joy and holiday cheer to communities across the country with a special Canada 150 edition of their Holiday Train. What a wonderful way to bid farewell to this remarkable year, as we look to the future with hope and optimism," said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. In line with the Canada 150 celebrations, the CP Holiday Train boasts its most stacked lineup of all-Canadian artists on tour in the program's history, including multiple Canadian Country Music Award and Juno Award winners. Musical guests Colin James and Emma-Lee will kick off the Canadian leg in Montreal, QC on November 26, performing through to Calgary, AB. Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Band will take over in Calgary and continue the journey to Port Moody, B.C. The U.S. leg will feature Jim Cuddy, Devin Cuddy and Kelly Prescott from the kickoff in Montreal on November 25, through the northeastern U.S. to Windsor, ON. Terri Clark and Dallas Smith will then hop on board with Kelly Prescott to complete the trip from Chicago, IL to Brooks, AB. Jonathan Roy will give a Francophone performance at all stops in Quebec. First-time CP Holiday Train stops this year include: St. Constant, QC; Chatham, ON; Neepawa, MB; Yorkton, SK; Bawlf, AB; Okotoks, AB; Oconomowoc, WI; Kasson, MN; and Mahnomen, MN. A full schedule is available at www.cpr.ca/holiday-train. People visiting the Holiday Train are encouraged to take photos and enter CP's Capture the Spirit photo contest. Participants could win a trip aboard the 2018 CP Holiday Train as well as a $1,000 donation to their local food bank. Further details about the contest will be available closer to the start of the program on the Holiday Train Facebook page at facebook.com/HolidayTrain . To help make this year the best yet for local food banks and food shelves, the Holiday Train asks fans to follow the train on social media, invite their friends and family and spread the message about the importance of heart-healthy donations by using #HealthyDonations. Supporters can follow the Holiday Train on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CPHolidayTrain. As part of Canada 150, CP and the Canada 150 Federal Secretariat are also partnering to promote the Holiday Train and the conclusion of the sesquicentennial celebrations. Use #Canada150 and #CPHolidayTrain as you track the progress of the Canadian train. (CP - posted 11/16)

    AMTRAK SETS RIDERSHIP, REVENUE AND EARNING RECORDS: Amtrak posted record ridership, revenue and earnings for its Fiscal Year, which ended Sept. 30, 2017:
    • Ridership: 31.7 million passenger trips – increased 1.5 percent over FY 2016
    • Total Revenue: $3.2 billion – increased 1.1 percent over FY 2016
    • Operating Earnings[1]: ($194 million) – improved 15.7 percent over FY 2016
    In ridership, Amtrak achieved year-over-year increases from FY 2016 for all of its service lines:
    • Northeast Corridor (NEC): 12 million riders – increased 1 percent and was the NEC’s highest ridership year ever
    • State Supported Services: 15 million riders – increased 2.1 percent
    • Long-Distance Routes: 4.6 million riders – increased 0.9 percent
    Amtrak also achieved a new record for cost recovery, covering 94.7 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues. “We provided a vital transportation service to more customers and created strong value for the federal investment,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “And we’re going to do even better. Over the next several years, we’re aiming to cover total operating costs from ticket and other revenues by strengthening our services and continuing to drive efficiency. To do this, we are making investments in tracks and stations, on our trains, and in the delivery of customer service so that we can serve more customers with a better experience.” “Amtrak had a record-breaking year in 2017. To our customers and partners, we thank you for your business. To our employees, we commend you on your dedication and service,” said Amtrak Co-CEO Wick Moorman. “More and more people are choosing rail travel and for good reason. Amtrak offers a more comfortable and convenient travel experience with great amenities such as free Wi-Fi on most trains, plenty of leg room, and no middle seat.” Other Amtrak highlights in FY 2017 include:
    • Completed more than $420 million of state of good repair and renewal infrastructure work, including significant track replacement, numerous projects in the New York area, and a new maintenance facility in Seattle.
    • Began a major Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station, which accelerated important construction work. Amtrak installed 897 track ties, 1,100 feet of rails (or six football fields of track), 1,000 tons of ballast, 7 turnouts (switches), 4 complex diamond crossings, and 176 yards of concrete.
    • In coordination with our state partners in Illinois, Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington, deployed state-purchased Charger diesel locomotives on certain routes, enhancing customer comfort, safety, reliability, and emissions levels.
    • Designated a Master Developer for Chicago Union Station for a six-year, $1 billion redevelopment of the station and adjacent property. Amtrak is also continuing a multi-year repair program of the Great Hall atrium in the station.
    • Streamlined Amtrak’s senior management structure for increased organizational effectiveness, better alignment with the account structure created in the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act), and greater transparency to customers and stakeholders.
    • Continued with our deleveraging of the Amtrak balance sheet, decreasing total debt from $3.3 billion at Sept. 30, 2007 to $1.2 billion at Sept. 30, 2017, a reduction of 64 percent over the 10 year period.
    • Launched a new Winter Park Express in Colorado, serving more than 18,000 customers.
    • Invested in customer-facing enhancements such as new Amfleet I car interiors and improved Wi-Fi service on our Acela Express
    • Continued to be an industry leader in efficient sales distribution with more than four-fifths of Amtrak’s customers using Amtrak’s self-service channels for their reservations and ticketing.
    • Increased membership in the Amtrak Guest Rewards program by 19 percent.
    • Launched a national partnership with Lyft. Eighty percent of Amtrak customers who have used Lyft indicate it makes their Amtrak trip easier. Amtrak will explore opportunities with additional travel partners in 2018 to provide additional connectivity to and from Amtrak trains.
    • Completed “Project unITy,” a corporate-wide effort to integrate, simplify and centralize technology and data services to better meet customer expectations and foster easier communication among Amtrak’s national workforce.
    (Amtrak - posted 11/16)

    SEPTA LAUNCHES NEW VERSION OF OFFICIAL MOBILE APP: SEPTA has launched a new version of its Official App for Apple and Android devices, enhancing travel tools for customers and creating a more personal experience from their mobile devices. "The new app was built with customer comments and feedback in mind," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. "It offers greater ease to check schedules and find service information." Among the features is a refreshed version of TrainView, which provides visual location updates for Regional Rail trains approximately every 30 seconds - allowing the Official SEPTA App to deliver the most current information about scheduled service and in-service delays. This new version of TrainView is also available on SEPTA's website, www.septa.org. TrainView automatically formats to any device, so riders can view it from a computer at work, a mobile device, or tablet without having to adjust the size. It allows customers to track the progress of any train on an interactive map. These features will soon be available for buses with TransitView, which is in final testing. Like TrainView, customers will be able to access TransitView through the Official SEPTA App and at www.septa.org. The new Official SEPTA App is now available as a free download in both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Customers looking for the App should search for "Official SEPTA App" and look for the SEPTA logo. Some of the other features included in the updated App include: Simple, easy to understand navigation to get you directly to your preferred mode of travel.
    • "Favorite" your commute or frequent trip to see when your next bus, trolley or train arrives.
    • Get real-time travel information with the Next to Arrive feature and check for alerts or advisories right from the same screen.
    • Easier to navigate Alerts page with service advisories, detours, and now weather information all within the same place.
    • Improved layout for selecting and viewing schedules and the duration of your trip.
    • Tap on "More" to find the best Fare product and to connect with SEPTA via Customer Service phone numbers, our comment form, Live Chat, and social media.
    For more information about the Official SEPTA App, including instructions on how to download it and update existing downloads to the latest version, please visit http://www.septa.org/service/new-app.html . (SEPTA - posted 11/16)

    METRO-NORTH DANBURY BRANCH DOCKYARD PROJECT: Metro-North Railroad advises passengers that from Friday evening, November 17, through Sunday, November 19, Connecticut Department of Transportation crews will be working on the Danbury Branch Dockyard project, which will improve operations along the New Haven Line. The Danbury Branch Dockyard Project, which will electrify the southern portion of the Danbury Branch, supports operations on the New Haven Line by providing a midline yard location where trains can layover, ensuring more reliable service. In addition to electrification, the work also includes the addition of two new track sidings, track replacement, signal work, new catenary systems and structures. Metro-North crews will take advantage of the outage to weld track and cut brush along the branch. (MTA - posted 11/15)

    WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 11, 2017: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 11, 2017. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 547,480 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending November 11 were 263,265 carloads, down 3.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 284,215 containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent compared to 2016. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 1,450 carloads, to 38,318; chemicals, up 1,058 carloads, to 30,662; and metallic ores and metals, up 892 carloads, to 22,673. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 6,740 carloads, to 85,378; grain, down 3,973 carloads, to 22,845; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 865 carloads, to 10,284. For the first 45 weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,702,354 carloads, up 3.1 percent from the same point last year; and 12,133,011 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 45 weeks of 2017 was 23,835,365 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending November 11, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 361,402 carloads, down 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 365,749 intermodal units, up 7.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 727,151 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 45 weeks of 2017 was 31,627,694 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.8 percent compared with 2016. Canadian railroads reported 81,073 carloads for the week, up 0.2 percent, and 69,896 intermodal units, up 16.1 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 45 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,556,429 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,064 carloads for the week, up 14.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,638 intermodal units, up 10.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 45 weeks of 2017 was 1,235,900 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 11/15)

    METRO-NORTH COMPLETES COMPREHENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS TO PORT JERVIS LINE: Metro-North today announced that the railroad completed comprehensive infrastructure improvement projects to the Port Jervis Line, between Port Jervis and Harriman, which got underway on September 11. With the projects complete, buses will no longer need to substitute for weekday, off-peak trains between Port Jervis and Harriman. Friday, November 17 is the last day that buses will substitute for trains, and regular train service on the Port Jervis Line resumes on Monday, November 20. Metro-North crews made extensive upgrades to the Port Jervis Line. Crews made structural repairs are at the Moodna and Woodbury Viaducts, and after successfully removing the defunct overheard bridge at Day Road in Campbell Hall, the town can establish formal cul-de-sacs on either end. Crews also finished an important rock slope remediation project, inspecting and reinforcing the rock slopes adjacent to the tracks between Port Jervis and Harriman to made sure that they were free of any loose rocks and brush that could fall on to the tracks and cause delays. Metro-North crews took advantage of the service outage between Port Jervis and Harriman to install 12,639 wooden ties, 4,571 feet of welded rail, three new switches, surface 7.6 miles of track and complete 19 field welds. (MTA - posted 11/14)

    AMTRAK TRACK WORK AT PSNY TO IMPACT NJ TRANSIT IN 2018: Upcoming Amtrak track work at Penn Station New York (PSNY) will impact select NJ TRANSIT peak period train service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and North Jersey Coast Line (NJCL) with scheduled service adjustments to begin on January 8, 2018 through May 28, 2018. The work will mainly affect a total of five trains per day which includes two in the a.m. peak and three in the p.m. peak periods. Of these five trains, one NJCL train in both the a.m. and p.m. will be diverted to Hoboken; one NEC train in both the a.m. and p.m. will terminate/originate at Newark Penn Station and another NJCL train in the p.m. will be cancelled. Other trains may have adjustments made to the timetable or station stops, and customers are advised to check the service timetables carefully. “While this impact is far less than what we experienced this past summer, we encourage our Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line customers to do their homework and adjust their commuting plans if needed,” said Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “I want to thank our customers in advance as we continue to support Amtrak’s efforts to renew critical infrastructure at Penn Station New York and avoid a repeat of the derailments we saw this past spring.” The affected trains are as follows: A.M.
    • NJCL train 3216, the 6:11 a.m. eastbound Long Branch departure, will now depart at 6:23 a.m. and will be diverted to Hoboken renumbered as 2604
    • NEC train 3122, the 7:06 a.m. eastbound departure from New Brunswick will terminate at Newark Penn Station renumbered as 5822.
    P.M.
    • NJCL train 3267, the 5:25 p.m. departure from PSNY, will originate from Hoboken at 5:22 p.m. renumbered as 2609
    • NEC train 3171, the 5:43 p.m. departure from PSNY, will originate at Newark Penn Station at 6:03 p.m. renumbered as 5869
    • NJCL train 3441, the 6:51 p.m. departure from PSNY, will be cancelled
    (Randy Kotuby - posted 11/14)

    CN UTILIZES FST BIOMETRICS IN MOTION INDENTIFICATION FOR ACCESS CONTROL: FST Biometrics announced today that it has successfully deployed the In Motion Identification (IMID) solution, integrated with Automatic Systems' SmartLane turnstiles, at CN's Montreal headquarters. FST's contactless system is installed at all perimeter access points of the company's headquarters, as well as at the entrance of the corporate child daycare center. Leading Canadian integrator Infynia Security directed the implementation and integration process at CN's headquarters, installing FST's award-winning IMID software and Automatic Systems' cutting-edge SmartLane turnstiles to provide access to its 3,000 employees, contractors and in specific cases, for visitors entering the company's headquarters in Montreal. Once users are registered, FST's IMID Access identifies each of them almost instantaneously, allowing users to enter and exit the facility without waiting, swiping a card, punching a code or presenting any documentation. Automatic Systems' SmartLane optical turnstiles are being utilized together with IMID as the physical access component of the complete access control solution. Automatic Systems' turnstile solution helps prevent tailgating and ensures that foot traffic moves at an efficient pace. "The accurate, frictionless and convenient nature of our in-motion identification solution were an excellent fit to meet CN's identification and secure access needs," said Arie Melamed, CMO of FST Biometrics. "We are pleased that a global transportation leader has implemented our system at the headquarters of its operations. We look forward to developing this relationship further in the future. We thank Infynia Security and Automatic Systems for collaborating on this complete secure access solution." FST's IMID solutions have been implemented in a variety of venues including large innovative office buildings, residential complexes, pharmaceutical companies and high-security trade and production facilities. (Randy Kotuby - posted 11/14)

    MBTA SECURES LONG-TERM FUNDING FOR CRITICAL SAFETY INITIATIVE: The MBTA has secured $382 million in federal loans through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) programs to support a critical safety initiative. Proceeds will be used exclusively on the MBTA’s Positive Train Control (PTC) project. TIFIA and RRIF are federal credit programs that support infrastructure projects of national significance and the development of railroad infrastructure, respectively. This marks the first-ever combined commitment under the two programs. Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008, mandating the implementation of PTC technology on all passenger railroads. PTC systems are safety systems designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and movement of trains through track switches that may have been left in the incorrect position. PTC systems are comprised of an on-board apparatus for the locomotive controlling each applicable train, wayside devices (such as Wayside Interface Units), a centralized dispatch system in a back office, and a communication system that links all components. "Securing long-term funding for the PTC project at a low interest rate puts us one step closer to our goal of achieving fiscal sustainability," said MBTA Acting CFO and Treasurer Paul Brandley. The MBTA issued the first-ever tax-exempt Sustainability Bonds in October to support other projects in its Capital Investment Program. The MBTA Commuter Rail system averages 124,000 weekday passenger trips. It is the fifth busiest commuter rail system in the United States. (MBTA - posted 11/13)

    AMTRAK CONTINUES NEXT PHASE OF NEW YORK PENN STATION INFRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL WORK: Amtrak is announcing a series of track renewal projects in New York Penn Station as part of the Infrastructure Renewal program. While the bulk of the renewal work for 2018 will occur on weekends, there will be a series of continuous single-track closures within the Station from January 5, 2018 through May 28, 2018, which will require minor modifications to Amtrak and commuter train weekday operations at New York Penn Station. Amtrak is working with NJ TRANSIT and Long Island Rail Road on an overall service plan that minimizes the impact to all New York Penn Station customers to the greatest extent possible. “After a successful summer, it is essential that we continue to upgrade the infrastructure so that we can continue to improve the reliability of service for all the customers that use New York Penn Station,” said Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman. The following schedule changes will take place during the infrastructure renewal work:
    • Amtrak is cancelling Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington, D.C. (WAS) to New York Penn Station (NYP) and 127 from NYP to WAS
    • Northbound Keystone Train 640 will terminate at Newark Penn Station
    • Southbound Keystone Train 643 will originate at Newark Penn Station
    • Southbound Train 173 will stop at Newark Airport
    • Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 will all have earlier departure times.
    • Train 170 will also depart WAS early, stop at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resume its schedule from Trenton
    • Long Island Rail Road and NJ TRANSIT are also expected to announce service schedule adjustments
    The projects will occur in the area of Track 15, which requires a section of concrete demolition and replacement (similar to the work on Track 10 during the summer of 2017), and Track 18, which requires localized concrete demolition with complex steel hardware replacement and rail renewal within Penn Station New York. In addition to this work, Amtrak will renew and replace three turnouts in “C” Interlocking, which is at the east end of the station and directs Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains to routes heading east and to Sunnyside Yard. While Amtrak has maintained and repaired this aging infrastructure, some of which dates to the 1970s, full replacement is now required. During the summer of 2017, Amtrak kicked off its Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station, which is one element of Amtrak’s plan to modernize stations, infrastructure, and equipment on the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak’s Penn Station concourse operations improvement study has begun and improvement projects for the restrooms, waiting areas, and ClubAcela Lounge in Amtrak’s concourses are underway. Amtrak’s reservation systems are currently being updated to reflect these schedule changes and any passenger already booked on a train that has been cancelled or altered will be contacted and accommodated on other scheduled services. Additional information and updates will be posted on Amtrak.com.
(Amtrak - posted 11/13)

SIEMENS OPENS NEW LOCOMOTIVE SERVICE HUB IN NEW CASTLE, DE: Siemens is opening a new Locomotive Service facility in New Castle, Delaware that will operate as the company’s digital service, supply chain, and technical field training hub in the region. The 44,000 square-foot New Castle facility will combine Siemens’ global digital analytics know-how with its extensive industry knowledge to move rail further into the digital age. Using the latest in digital and predictive technology, the New Castle team will train service technicians and remotely maintain Siemens locomotives for customers across the U.S. including Amtrak, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Brightline, and the Illinois Department of Transportation, among others. Members of Siemens’ Digital Rail Services team located in New Castle will remotely collect and analyze over 800 data points from each locomotive daily. The data includes information on equipment health, operational metrics and environmental data made available by automatic, continuous streaming from the locomotive. The data, pulled in real-time, can help diagnose fleet issues and develop predictive maintenance capabilities so issues can be identified issues before they become a problem. The Siemens team is already putting its data capabilities to use by working with Amtrak to monitor and analyze data from 70 Siemens-built ACS-64 locomotives running along the Northeast Corridor. On-board information is sent automatically to Siemens “Smart Cockpit” software that helps analyze and flag any items that require closer attention, like if a locomotive is exceeding certain temperature levels. The Siemens team reviews flagged items and recommends actions that are relayed directly to the local technical advisors and Amtrak maintenance experts at the depots along the corridor. Data already collected has led to Siemens and Amtrak to design and implement software updates that improved the ACS-64’s performance, helping Amtrak achieve about 33 percent fewer delays in 2016 compared to 2015. “When Americans have access to reliable train travel, they tend to take advantage of it. Siemens' new center – right here in New Castle, Delaware - will help make rail service more reliable by using cutting edge technology to service and build new locomotives at a faster pace and higher volume,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, a supporter and near daily traveler of rail service. “Our nation’s railways are critical elements to our country’s infrastructure system, which helps us to compete and win in the global economy.” The team will also use virtual reality technology for maintenance training on different locomotive equipment running worldwide. Using virtual reality goggles and handheld controls, the service technician can virtually stand inside a locomotive and use the handheld controls to work on switches, components and panels. This training will prepare them both mentally and physically for work on actual locomotives at customer locations across the U.S. “This is a key investment for Siemens in our largest market in the world,” Siemens USA CEO Judy Marks said. “Trains were the preeminent invention of the first industrial revolution, but today they exemplify a fourth in which software is converging with advanced manufacturing. Siemens’ locomotives now come out of our U.S. manufacturing plants born digital; they’re computers on steel wheels that constantly collect data. Now, in New Castle, our technicians and engineers will make this data actionable for our customers. That’s major value added for railroads striving for even higher levels of safety and reliability.” In addition to remote data services, the new facility will include a supply chain distribution center to quickly deliver locomotive parts for locomotive customers. The hub will rely on Siemens robust supply chain from partners across the U.S and will rely on 16 full-time positions based at the New Castle hub to work with the company’s nearly 70 existing service employees at customer sites. (Siemens - posted 11/10)

FIRSTENERGY FOUNDATION DONATES $50,000 TO THE CUYAHOGA VALLEY SCENIC RAILROAD'S CAPITAL PROGRAM: The FirstEnergy Foundation has donated $50,000 to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) to support the organization's first comprehensive capital campaign since it was founded in 1972. The funds will be used to help modernize CVSR's fleet of locomotives and passenger cars. The CVSR is one of the longest and most scenic tourist railway excursions in the nation, running from Rockside Road in Independence, Ohio, through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to Ridge Street in downtown Akron. In the last 10 years, ridership has increased 70 percent, with a record-high 216,063 passengers in 2016. "The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic railroad has become a cultural institution in northeast Ohio, drawing people from far and wide for programs designed to build wonderful family memories, such as summer valley excursions or trips on the Polar Express during the holiday season," said Dee Lowery, president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. "The fact that this is the railroad's first comprehensive capital campaign in its 45 years of operation is a testament to the organization's viability, and we're pleased to support it." The FirstEnergy Foundation is funded solely by FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) and provides support to non-profit, tax-exempt health and human services agencies; educational organizations; cultural and arts programs and institutions; and civic groups in areas served by FirstEnergy's 10 electric operating companies and in areas where the company conducts business. (FirstEnergy Foundation- posted 11/09)

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

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

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



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