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AT LEAST 11 DIE, SCORES INJURED IN EGYPTIAN TRAIN DERAILMENT: A passenger train derailed April 18 just north of Cairo, Egypt, killing at least 11 people. At least 98 others were injured. [Washington Post, 4-18-21]
STB FORMS WORKING GROUP TO ENFORCE AMTRAK ON-TIME PERFORMANCE: The Surface Transportation Board has formed a working group that will develop plans to enforce new on-time performance requirements for intercity passenger rail service. The group, beginning July 1, will investigate and adjudicate issues related to on-time performance of Amtrak's intercity service under new metrics and standards, with quarterly reporting thereafter. The metrics comprehend a minimum standard of 80 percent on-time arrivals for any two consecutive calendar quarters, with a 15-minute grace allowance, but excepted when delays are caused by issues that can be reasonably addressed by the host carrier. The STB may award damages if the carrier fails to provide preference to Amtrak over freight service. [Progressive Railroading, 4-16-21]
KCS REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern reported first-quarter 2021 revenues of $706-million, a decrease of 4 percent from the same quarter last year. Operating expenses were $453-million, operating income was $253-million, and operating ratio was 64.2 percent. First-quarter net income was $153.4-million, or $1.68 per diluted share. Overall carload volumes were down 1 percent compared to the prior year. [Kansas City Southern, 4-16-21]
CHESAPEAKE & DELAWARE NAMES RENEE LOSAPIO GENERAL MANAGER: Chesapeake & Delaware LLC has announced that Renee LoSapio will join the organization as general manager of railroads effective May 1. She comes to the short-line group with experience with Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific. Chesapeake & Delaware operates the Dover & Delaware and Rockaway railroads, and affiliates Belvidere & Delaware River Railway and Black River & Western Railroad.. [Progressive Railroading, 4-16-21]
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER DELAYS START OF CANADIAN TRAVEL SEASON UNTIL JULY 5: Rocky Mountaineer is delaying the start of its Canadian travel season until July 5. Customers may choose to transfer their booking to the new route in the U.S. Rockies, or take advantage of benefits including 110 percent credit for monies already paid, maintaining 2020 pricing levels, even if third-party hotels and tour operators raise their prices. [Progressive Railroading, 4-15-21]
UNION PACIFIC TO CLOSE MAIN CAR REPAIR FACILITY IN PALESTINE, TEXAS: Union Pacific has told its employees at the main car repair facility in Palestine, Texas, that they have 60 days until the facility closes. As many as 57 positions will be eliminated. While the main facility is closing, limited car repair activities will continue in the area. [Palestine Herald-Press, 4-15-21]
NJT TO REPLACE CRUMBLING RETAINING WALL ON MORRIS & ESSEX LINE: New Jersey Transit will be replacing a retaining wall on the Morris & Essex line between the Morristown line and the Gladstone branch split in Summit. The tracks are in a trench surrounded by concrete retaining walls. The 100-year-old wall that will be replaced began to crumble in 2017, striking a couple of trains, and another train again this past September. Moreover, the tracks within the trench often flood, causing track and signal problems, and this issue will also be addressed. [Railway Track & Structures, 4-15-21]
CSX CLOSES ON FIRST PHASE OF RAIL CAPACITY AGREEMENT WITH VIRGINIA: CSX has closed the first phase of its rail agreement with Virginia for the state's initiative to improve passenger and freight rail capacity. It leads the way to expand Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express. Virginia will acquire 384 miles of right-of-way and 223 miles of track paralleling I-95, I-64 and I-85. The first phase enables separation of passenger and freight rail between Washington DC and Petersburg, and remaining phases relate to line segments from Petersburg into North Carolina and Doswell to Clifton Forge. [Railway Age, 4-15-21]
AMTRAK PROPOSING EXPANSION OF SERVICE IN OHIO: Evey day, tens of thousands of Ohioans ease their autos into traffic on I-71, traveling some portion of the highway between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Amtrak believes a small percentage of them would rather take the train. The company has outlined a plan for an expansion featuring several new routes, including service linking those three cities plus Dayton, also known as the 3C&D plan. Amtrak estimates that Ohio could see as many as a million passengers annually, up from 132,000 in 2019. [, 4-15-21]
POLLY TROTTENBERG CONFIRMED AS DEPUTY TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: The U.S. Senate has confirmed Polly Trottenberg as deputy secretary of transportation, serving as No. 2 under Pete Buttigieg. [Railway Age, 4-14-21]
SEATTLE BEGINS $6.6-M WESTLAKE MONORAIL STATION IMPROVEMENTS: Seattle Monorail Services has begun construction of $6.6-million in improvements at the Westlake Monorail station. Work is expected to be completed in the fall, and will double system capacity and provide better access and strengthen connections to Sound Transit's Link light-rail and the regional bus network. [Progressive Railroading, 4-14-21]
BRIGHTLINE TO BEGIN CONSTRUCTION ON LAS VEGAS-SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HSR ROUTE IN 2-Q: Brightline West is on schedule to begin construction of its high-speed rail route between Las Vegas and southern California in the second-quarter. [Progressive Railroading, 4-14-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending April 10, 2021, was 513,724 carloads and intermodal units, up 24.5 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 17.4 percent, and intermodal was up 31.2 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-14-21]
SAFETY ISSUES CONTINUE TO CONFRONT D.C. METRO: The Washington DC Metrorail's safety commission is not happy with the agency's efforts to prevent train operators from running past red signals and ensuring worker safety. The commission's chair says Metro needs to prepare a 'holistic' plan to address these issues. Recent violations include one runaway train, three instances of running red signals, and a pair of trains nearly colliding when they both ended up with the identical radio-call number. ]Railway Track & Structures, 4-14-21]
WORK BEGINS ON METRA'S 2021 CONSTRUCTION AGENDA: Chicago's Metra 2021 agenda includes work on two completely new stations, starting the replacement of a 122-year-old bridge spanning Milwaukee avenue, and replaceing more than 45,000 railroad ties. Work also continues on multiyear projects to replace aging bridges, complete the Ravenswood station on the UP North line, and to construct new track segments on the UP West line. [Railway Track & Structures, 4-14-21]
CHEYENNE SEES OPPORTUNITY WITH AMTRAK PARTNERSHIP: It may take many years before passenger rail comes back to Cheyenne, Wyoming, but the city is looking ahead at ways to make it happen. The city's chamber of commerce has been lobbying Amtrak to include Cheyenne in its expansion plan for several years. Passengers from Cheyenne could utilize an existing rail line from Denver, which now carries only freight. In order for make it operable for passengers, the city would need to renovate or build a new station, and update some signaling. [Gillett News Record, 4-14-21]
AMTRAK DOWNEASTER SERVICE TO INCREASE IN MAY: Amtrak's Downeaster service will be increased to five daily round-trips with its new schedule beginning May 3. This will restore the Downeaster to its pre-pandemic service level. [Amtrak, 4-14-21]
LUMIERE TRAMWAY OPENS IN FRANCE: Alstom's 'Lumiere' tramway, from its Citadis line, has gone into commercial service on the No. 9 line that now connects Paris to Orly-Ville in 30 minutes. The T9 line X05 an transport up to 314 passengers, and 80,000 passengers are expected on the line beginning this year. [Progressive Railroading, 4-14-21]
U.S. JUSTICE DEPT. ASKS STB TO ADOPT 'TOUGHER STANDARD' IN CP'S REQUEST TO ACQUIRE KCS: The U.S. Dept. of Justice has urged the Surface Transportation Board to keep Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern from combining their shares before their proposed merger, and to use the 'tougher standard' adopted in 2001 for mergers in the industry. That standard requires that mergers be in the public benefit and enhance competition. KCS was exempted from that standard at the time, partly because it was the smallest of its class of railroad in the U.S. The move indicates the Justice Dept. might seek to take a more active role regarding CP's move to acquire KCS for $25-billion. [American Journal of Transportation, 4-13-21]
MBTA TO KEEP NEW ORANGE, RED LINE CARS SIDELINED FOR AT LEAST THREE MORE WEEKS FOR TESTING: All of MBTA's new Orange and Red line cars will remain out of service for at least three more weeks as testing continues following the March 16 slow-speed derailment with about 100 passengers on board. There were no injuries. [WCBV, 4-13-21]
REVENUE SERVICE BEGINS AT DART'S HIDDEN RIDGE STATION IN IRVING, TEXAS: Dallas Area Rapid Transit's Hidden Ridge station at Carpenter Ranch in Irving, Texas, began revenue service April 12. It is the 65th station in the agency's network. [Progressive Railroading, 4-13-21]
VIA RAIL TO RESUME CANADIAN SERVICE BETWEEN TORONTO & WINNIPEG MAY 17: VIA Rail Canada will resume the Toronto-Winnipeg portion of its Canadian route starting May 17, which will enable one full round-trip per week. [Progressive Railroading, 4-13-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-eight percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending April 11, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 13 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 4-12-21]
METRA'S REHAB OF WOODSTOCK, ILLINOIS, STATION COMPLETED: The $250,000 project to rehabilitate the Metra station in downtown Woodstock, Illinois, has been completed. It was the first major rehab of the 2100-square-foot building in more than 25 years. [Progressive Railroading, 4-12-21]
BNSF CONDUCTOR DIES IN MISSOURI ACCIDENT: BNSF officials say a 56-year-old conductor, with more than 24 years of service, died while working at a customer facility on April 7 in Louisiana, Missouri. [KRCG-TV, 4-12-21]
NURIA FERNANDEZ NOMINATED TO HEAD FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: President Biden has nominated Nuria Fernandez to serve as Federal Transit Administrator. She had been appointed deputy administrator on Jan. 20, and recently was CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in California. [Progressive Railroading, 4-12-21]
FIRST VESSEL ARRIVES AT LEATHERMAN TERMINAL IN S.C.: The Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston, S.C., is the first container terminal to open in the U.S. since 2009. On April 9, the Palmetto Railways-served terminal, with its 1400-foot berth, received its first vessel. [Progressive Railroading, 4-12-21]
FIRE DAMAGES BNSF FACILITY IN NEBRASKA: A blaze starting on the roof of a BNSF yard office in Alliance, Nebraska, on April 11 resulted in damage to the building and electronic equipment. The cause is believed to have been accidental, and no injuries were reported. [News Channel Nebraska, 4-12-21]
SOUND TRANSIT'S NORTHGATE LINK TO OPEN IN OCTOBER: After 15 years of planning and construction, Seattle's Sound Transit will officially open its Northgate Link on Oct. 2. The Northgate Extension of light-rail is 4.3 miles in length, with 3.5 miles being underground. [Railway Track & Structures, 4-12-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN COAL TRAIN DERAILS IN ALTOONA: Several cars of a Norfolk Southern coal train derailed late April 9 in downtown Altoona, Pa. There were no reported injuries. [Weare Central Pa., 4-10-21]
RAIL TRAFFIC IMPACTED BY INCREASING CONGESTION: U.S. shippers and importers relying on rail are bracing for a long slog through a period of congestion and delays. Some have lost patience and shifted to truck. The Long Beach-Los Angeles port complex has become synonymous with congestion for months, and problems are expected to continue into at least June. Other parts of the country are also struggling with delays. Westbound containers have been stuck at the New York-New Jersey port complex because of rail congestion in the Chicago area. Problems began in February when terminals in New York and New Jersey were closed for five days because of weather. Import volumes through East Coast ports have climbed, partly because some importers shifted traffic there to avoid the delays on the West Coast. [Load Star, 4-9-21]
SAN DIEGO APPROVES PURCHASE OF NEW LIGHT-RAIL VEHICLES: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System's board has approved $28.5-million, to be added to $109-million in previous funding, for new Siemens SD100 light-rail vehicles. By 2025, 47 vehicles will need to be replaced at an estimated cost of $216-million. [Railway Age, 4-9-21]
L.A. METRO NAMES STEPHANIE WIGGINS CEO: Stephanie Wiggins, currently CEO of Southern California's Metrolink, will begin as CEO of Los Angeles Metro in May, succeeding Phillip Washington, who is leaving the agency. [Railway Track & Structures, 4-9-21]
VA. PASSENGER RAIL AUTHORITY APPOINTS DONALD STADTLER JR AS ITS FIRST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Virginia Passenger Rail Authority's board has appointed Donald Stadtler Jr. as the authority's first executive director. Previously he served as executive vice-president of Amtrak, and had earlier served with the Federal Railroad Administration. [Progressive Railroading, 4-9-21]
CSX, NORFOLK SOUTHERN ASK STB TO DISMISS AMTRAK'S DISPUTE OVER GULF COAST SERVICE: CSX and Norfolk Southern have asked the Surface Transportation Board to dismiss Amtrak's request that they be 'forced' to allow the operation of daily trains between New Orleans and Mobile. The companies say that they have not ruled out the proposed service, but Amtrak has still not submitted an environmental and historic report, and Congress has given no 'cause of action' that could support its demand for an interim order to make preparation for the service prior to an STB decision to allow the new service. [Progressive Railroading, 4-8-21]
ALASKA R.R. POSTS $7.8-M NET LOSS IN 2020: Alaska Railroad posted a net loss of $7.8-million in 2020 as it confronted challenges caused by the pandemic. The company was hit hard by rapidly dwindling travel in 2020, but it continued to provide essential services. [Progressive Railroading, 4-8-21]
SNCF ORDERS MORE HYDROGEN TRAIN SETS: French operator SNCF Voyageurs has placed orders with Alstom to supply 12 hydrogen-electric multiple-units for use in four regions, with options for a further two train sets. [Railway Gazette, 4-8-21]
MARCH 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 2,586,489 carloads and intermodal units in March 2021, up 14.2 percent from the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 4.1 percent, and intermodal was up 24.0 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-7-21]
NJT TAKES DELIVERY OF FIRST OF 25 DUAL-POWER LOCOMOTIVES FROM ALSTOM: New Jersey Transit's initial second-generation ALP-45DPA dual-power locomotive from Alstom has arrived, and the agency is slated to take delivery of another 24 on order by early next year. All units in the order will undergo dynamic qualification and acceptance testing for about six weeks before being placed into service. [Railway Age, 4-7-21]
STB AMENDS REVENUE THRESHOLDS FOR CLASSIFYING RAIL CARRIERS: The Surface Transportation Board has adoped a 'final rule' that amends the operating revenue thresholds for classifying rail carriers. It will raise the Class-I threshold to $900-million and round the current Class-II/Class-III threshold to $40.4-million. It uses 2019 dollars as the baseline for calculations going forward. [Progressive Railroading, 4-6-21]
ALABAMA GOVERNOR OPPOSES MOBILE-NEW ORLEANS AMTRAK SERVICE WITHOUT IMPACT STUDY: Alabama's governor is opposing Amtrak's proposed restoration of passenger rail service between New Orleans and Mobile unless the railroad first completes a study of the impact the service would have on freight traffic. [Progressive Railroading, 4-6-21]
NIGHT TRAIN TO CONNECT BRUSSELS, AMSTERDAM, BERLIN, PRAHA: Plans to launch a Praha-Dresden-Berlin-Amsterdam-Brussels night train have been unveiled by Czech open access operator RegioJet and newly-formed Dutch overnight train cooperative European Sleeper. [Railway Gazette, 4-6-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-two percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending April 4, 3031. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 15 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 4-5-21]
INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN AIMS TO UPGRADE, EXPAND AMTRAK: The $2-trillion infrastructure plan President Biden released calls for $80-billion to improve American train service. Amtrak has introduced plans to upgrade and expand service, including as many as 30 new routes and more trains along 20 existing routes. Service would begin in cities such as Nashville, Columbus, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Also, trains would be sped up between Boston and Washington. Amtrak has long been pushed to be profitable, a demand rail advocates say is unreasonable, and the company is mandated by Congress to serve as much of the nation as possible. [CNN, 4-5-21]
NORTHERN CORRIDOR PROJECT TO INTEGRATE LOGISTICS IN CANADA, U.S. & MEXICO ADVANCES: A 3.3-billion infrastructure project connecting Centerport in Wunnipeg, Manitoba, to Mexico's Pacific Coast near Mazatlan advanced after Caxxor Group selected Engage Construction Management & Consulting as leader of its Canadian operations. The Northern Corridor is an infrastructure project designed to allow Mexico to integrate into the logistics systems of Canada and the U.S. The project calls for a new port in Mazatlan, more than 186 miles of railway in Mexico, eight logistics and industrial centers in Mexico, and at least four logistic centers between the U.S. and Canada. [Progressive Railroading, 4-5-21]
ALSTOM ACQUIRES TWO COMPANIES: Helion Hydrogen Power and Flertex have both been acquired by Alstom, which it says will enchance its initiatives in hydrogen fuel cell power and braking systems, respectively. [Railway Age, 4-5-21]
FATAL TRAIN ACCIDENT IN TAIWAN: At least 50 people have been killed and dozens more injured after a passenger train crashed into a construction vehicle at the mouth of a tunnel April 2 in Taiwan. Rescuers combed damaged rail cars inside the tunnel to find survivors, some of whom smashed windows to flee. The crash is Taiwan's worst rail disaster in decades. [BBC News, 4-2-21]
MARCH 2021 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-two percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in March 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was 50 minutes late, and the average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and 26 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 4-1-21]
BELT RWY OF CHICAGO TO EQUIP LOCOMOTIVES WITH IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY: Belt Railway of Chicago will equip its locomotive fleet with Wi-Tronix's Violet Edge loT Systems. Full deployment of the technology will include fuel-consumption and idle-reduction monitoring, incident investigation and mechanical-health status and alerts for high coupling forces. With a connected solution, those features enable fast, efficient response to emergency situations or incident investigations. [Progressive Railroading, 4-1-21]
METROLINK UNVEILS PLAN TO SUPPORT ZERO EMISSIONS BY 2028: Southern California's Metrolink has unveiled an action plan that addresses climate change, air quality and other sustainability issues to support a goal of zero emissions by 2028. A pilot program is currently underway using a single Tier-2 locomotive to test renewable plant-based diesel fuel that is 100 percent renewable and sustainable. If successful, testing will then begin on a new Tier-4 locomotive, If that is also successful, the goal is transitioning its entire fleet to renewable diesel fuel. [Progressive Railroading, 4-1-21]
AAR EXPRESSES CONCERNS OVER ADMINISTRATION'S INFRASTRUCTURE PROPOSAL: Association of American Railroads officials say they have 'serious concerns' about how President Biden's infrastructure proposal will be paid for. Referring to the priorities for improvements to restore highways, bridges, roads and ports, the association said railroads would urge the administration and Congress to abandon these divisive, unrelaed funding sources, and instead work toward solutions to restore the Highway Trust Fund to a true 'user-pays' system. [Progressive Railroading, 4-1-21]
INDIA ADVANCES RAIL ELECTRIFICATION INITIATIVE: Despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic, Indian Railways has been pushing ahead to meet the government's target of electrifying the country's entire broad-gauge network by December 2023. The Indian Railway board reported tha a record 3,737 route miles of electrification had been commissioned during the 12-month period ending March 31. [Railway Gazette, 4-1-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending March 27, 2021, was 521,731 carloads and intermodal units, up 16.1 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 6.0 percent, and intermodal was up 25.8 percent. Comparisons are inflated because of the widespead shutdowns and reduction in rail volumes because of the virus at this time last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-31-21]
STADLER COMPLETES THREE-YEAR TEST OF BATTERY-OPERATED FLIRT TRAIN: Stadler has successfully completed a three-year research project to test battery operation of a Flirt Akku multiple-unit, with the train operating in battery mode continuously for 115 miles, without recharge, during the tests. The train covered over 9300 miles in battery operation, including various scenarios of unplanned delays and extreme weather conditions. [International Railway Journal, 3-31-21]
SEPTA TO DISCONTINUE ACCEPTANCE OF PAPER TICKETS: SEPTA will no longer accept paper tickets for regional rail service, effective April 2. Instead, the Key Card Travel Wallet will be available. Those with existing paper tickets may return them for a refund. [Progressive Railroading, 3-31-21]
FINAL N.Y. MTA TUNNEL DAMAGED BY SUPERSTORM SANDY REPAIRED: New York MTA's F-Line tunnel under the East River has had its repair project completed from damage caused by superstorm Sandy. This is the last of 11 tunnels that needed such repair to be completed and made more resilient against future storms. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-31-21]
CN AGREES TO SELL 900 MILES OF LINE TO WATCO: CN and Watco have reached agreement for the sale of 250 miles of non-core lines and assets on the Soo subdivision between Sault Ste. Marie and Oba, Ontario, and 650 miles of branch lines of Wisconsin Central in Michigan and Wisconsin. Watco will continue freight operations as well as the Agawa Canyon Train Tour in Ontario, and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Missanabie Cree Nation regarding partnership opportunities for the Algoma Central Railway. [CN, 3-30-21]
VIRGINIA FINALIZES PASSENGER RAIL EXPANSION PACT: Virginia has finalized agreements with CSX, Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express as part of the state's $3.7-billion passenger rail expansion program that seeks to relieve a rail bottlenect and get more passengers onto trains. It comprehends building a new rail bridge parallel to the existing Long Bridge spanning the Potomac River, adding new track in the Washington-Richmond corridor, and buying hundreds of miles of passenger right-of-way from CSX. Amtrak will contribute $944-million toward improvements, and has committed to operating in the state for at least 30 years. [Washington Post, 3-30-21]
BLET, ST. LAWRENCE & ATLANTIC SIGN TENTATIVE AGREEMENT: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen has tentatively agreed to a new contract with the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad. Ratification ballots are due April 28. [Progressive Railroading, 3-30-21]
U.S. CLASS-I RAIL HEADCOUNT DOWN YEAR-OVER-YEAR: Headcount among the U.S. Class-I railroads rose nominally between January and February, but declined nearly 11 percent year-over-year, according to the Surface Transportation Board. The train-and-engine category rose 0.6 percent between January and February to 45,794, but year-over-year was down 11 percent. [Freight Waves, 3-30-21]
AMTRAK WORKER INJURED IN DELAWARE MAINTENANCE YARD: A 62-year-old Amtrak employee was injured March 30 in the maintenance yard in Wilmington, Delaware, and transported to a hospital. Initial reports indicate that the worker was trapped by the wheel of a train. [First State News, 3-30-21]
MUMBAI TO ACQUIRE 234 METRO CARS: Mumbai has awarded Alstom a contract to design, build, supply, test and commission 234 metro cars for Line 4 and the extension corridor, and provide employee training. [Railway Pro, 3-30-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-eight percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending March 28, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 26 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 3-29-21]
DALLAS CITY COUNCIL SUPPORTS D2 SUBWAY PROJECT: The city council of Dallas has approved a resolution supporting the Dallas Area Rapid Transit's D2 subway project, a below-ground light-rail line through downtown that will extend from Victory Park to Deep Ellum. [Railway Age, 3-29-21]
LEGISLATION SIGNED TO CREATE NEW RIVER VALLEY RAIL AUTHORITY IN VIRGINIA: Virginia's govenor has signed legislation that will create a rail authority in the New River Valley. It would be authorized to enter into revenue-sharing agreements and to issue revenue bonds. Valley officials have been working for more than six years to bring passenger rail to the area. [Progressive Railroading, 3-29-21]
CALIFORNIA HSR PROJECT GETS FURTHER DELAY: Delays in securing land for California's high-speed rail project will push completion of a 65-mile section of the line in Kings County until at least April 2025, according to a report, nearly two years after the date the state included in a business plan adopted last week. [NBC Los Angeles, 3-29-21]
ALSTOM TO SUPPLY 152 HIGH-CAPACITY TRAINS FOR SPAIN: Alstom has won a $1.6-billion contract to supply Spain's national railway operator Renfe with 152 high-capacity trains. They will come from Alstom's X-Trapolis range of suburban trains. [Progressive Railroading, 3-29-21]
CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN TENNESSEE: Sixteen cars of a CSX train derailed early March 27 in Madison, Tennessee. There were no injuries, leaks or spills, but one of the cars carried ethanol. Those in the area were briefly advised to shelter in place until it was confirmed that there was no danger. [Tennessean, 3-27-21]
LORAM TECHNOLOGIES TO BUILD FACILITY IN GEORGETOWN, TEXAS: Loram Technologies, formerly GREX, is planning to build a rail research and development facility in Georgetown, Texas. GREX had been headquartered in Georgetown, and Loram Technologies also calls the city home. Construction will begin this year, and the facility will employ 310 people. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-26-21]
STB REJECTS 'EXPEDITED' APPROVAL OF TENNESSEE PASS PROPOSAL: The Surface Transportation Board has rejected the Colorado Midland & Pacific Railway's request to 'expedite' its proposal to begin operating trains on the Tennessee Pass line in Colorado. The plan involved leasing the line from Union Pacific and operate 163 miles between Parkdale and Sage. But STB called the proposal 'highly controversal,' and not one that should be handled in a routine, expedited manner. [Progressive Railroading, 3-26-21]
AT LEAST 32 KILLED, MORE THAN 160 INJURED IN EGYPTIAN TRAIL COLLISION: Two trains collided in southern Egypt on March 26, killing at least 32 people, and injuring more than 160 others. Officials say the emergency brakes of one train were activated, by persons unknown, and a following train plowed into the first train, overturning two of the passenger cars. The incident happened near the city of Sohag on the Nile. [N.Y. Times, 3-26-21]
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY PROMISES FULL SUPPORT OF HUDSON RIVER TUNNEL PROJECT: Transportation Secretary Bittigieg told a House committee on March 25 that the Biden Administration is committed to moving quickly on passenger rail. He specifically highlighted the new Hudson River rail tunnels as a project of national significance, affirming that the administration is taking all possible steps to move the project forward. [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 3-26-21]
MAJOR LIGHT-RAIL TRACK WORK SET TO BEGIN IN BALTIMORE: RailWorks is set to kick off a significant track maintenance and upgrade project for the Maryland Transit Administration in and around Baltimore's Penn Station. RailWorks will reconstruct three interlockings and install new restraining rail, replace concrete ties, and perform track work along segments of curved track on the Central light-rail line and Penn Station extension. Also included are the replacement of ties, turnout sets and switch machines at the North Avenue and Mount Royal stations. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-25-21]
BRIGHTLINE TRACKS CHOSEN FOR MIAMI-DADE COMMUTER ROUTE: The transportation planning organization governing board for Miami-Dade has settled on commuter rail to run on Brightline tracks from Miami Central in downtown to Aventura, nearly 20 miles to the north. The amount of funding required is $345-million, and $16-million for annual maintenance. There will be seven possible stations along the route. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-25-21]
STB ASKS CSX TO RESUBMIT ITS PAN AM ACQUISITION APPLICATION: The Surface Transportation Board has asked CSX to resubmit its application seeking to acquire Pan Am Railways, and to file it as a 'significant transaction.' This will enable the board to have more time to consider it and to determine whether any market competition would be lost. [Freight Waves, 3-25-21]
EXPORT AGRICULTURAL COMMODITY TERMINAL TO BE BUILT AT UNION PACIFIC YARD IN IDAHO: Savage and Union Pacific will open the Savage Railport terminal for the export of containerized hay and other agricultural commodities at Union Pacific's rail yard in Pocatello, Idaho, expected to be ready by mid-year. Union Pacific will haul the containers to Northwest Seaport Alliance ports in Tacoma and Seattle, Washington. [Progressive Railroading, 3-25-21]
FIRST VEHICLE ARRIVES FOR TEMPE, ARIZONA, STREETCAR FLEET: Valley Metro has received the first vehicle in the Tempe Streetcar fleet. It can transport up to 120 passengers, and will operate individually, not in multiple as in traditional light-rail vehicles. A total of six cars will ultimately make up the fleet, and they will be capable of traveling off-wire using reserve power stored in its lithium-ion battery. [Progressive Railroading, 3-25-21]
NEW DAILY INTERMODAL RAIL SERVICE PLANNED BETWEEN PORTUGAL AND GERMANY: Private freight operator Medway plans to begin a direct, daily intermodal train, branded 'Vasco de Gama,' from terminals to Portugal to Stuttgart in Germany, in the fourth-quarter this year. [Railway Gazette, 3-25-21]
CAPITOL CORRIDOR ISSUES NEW SCHEDULE TO REFLECT INCREASED DEMAND: Northern California's Capitol Corridor will introduce a new schedule March 29 that reflects current, increased ridership demand. The biggest change is the addition of a direct round-trip train on weekdays between Auburn and San Jose, allowing riders to travel the entire route without a transfer. Also added is the return of a sixth round-trip between San Jose and Oakland. [Railway Age, 3-24-21]
AMTRAK LIABLE FOR ENGINEER'S INJURIES IN 2017 FATAL WASHINGTON STATE CRASH: A Pierce County, Washington, judge has ruled that Amtrak is 'strictly liable' for the claim of its engineer who sued for his injuries after the deadly 2017 derailment south of Tacoma. The engineer alleged he was not properly trained, and that technology that could have prevented the accident had not been installed. Amtrak had argued that the engineer's negligence had caused the accident. The train was traveling at 80 MPH in a 30 MPH zone when the accident occurred. [KOPN, 3-24-21]
SIEMENS, VTG RAIL TO TEST FREIGHT RAIL BRAKE MONITORING SYSTEM: Siemens Mobility and VTG Rail Europe have signed a contract to test the brake monitoring system for automated brake testing of freight trains to prove the system's operational capability. The system ensures an automatic brake test on each rail-car side of a train and provides staff with status data visible on each side of the car along with status and live updates on rail car settings on display in the locomotive. [Progressive Railroading, 3-24-21]
TWO SEPTA POLICE SERGEANTS SUSPENDED OVER SOCIAL-MEDIA POSTS: Two SEPTA police sergeants have been suspended without pay for 'inappropriate' social media posts related to the January 6 riots in Washington DC. They were two of seven officers who traveled to Washington that day, but none were involved in the storming of the Capitol or other ilegal activity, according to an investigation. [Progressive Railroading, 3-24-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending March 20, 2021, was 513,325 carloads and intermodal units, up 11.6 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 2.9 percent, and intermodal was up 19.8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-24-21]
VERMONT AMTRAK SERVICE MAY RETURN IN 'NEXT FEW MONTHS': Amtrak passenger rail service could be back on track in Vermont within the next few months, officials said. The Vermonter, from Washington DC up the eastern side of Vermont before crossing the state, ending up in St. Albans, and the Ethan Allen Express, between New York City and Rutland, were both suspended within the state last year due to the pandemic. Despite the suspension, though, Amtrak trains have been operating on the Vermont lines to train crews. [Burlington Free Press, 3-24-21]
INDIA 'REFRESHING' SLEEPING CAR SERVICE: A fleet of 500 sleeping cars is to be rolled out to 'refresh' Indian Railways' premium long-distance trains during the financial year beginning April 1. [Railway Gazette, 3-24-21]
CANADIAN AUTO INDUSTRY EXECS SUPPORT CP'S ACQUISITION OF KCS: Some Canadian auto industry executives support Canadian Pacific's agreement to buy Kansas City Southern, believing the transaction will lead to a more efficient and cost-effective delivery of new vehicles throughout North America. If the deal comes to fruition, it could make North America more competitive as a region, and lower the cost of new vehicles, the executives say. [Automotive News Canada, 3-23-21]
WABTEC TO ACQUIRE NORDCO: Wabec has signed an agreement to acqure Nordco, a leading North American supplier of new, rebuilt and used maintenance of way equipment, from Greenbriar Equity Group. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-23-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN RESOLVES CONCERNS OVER CSX ACQUISITION OF PAN AM SYSTEMS: Norfolk Southern has informed the Surface Transportation Board that it has worked through its initial concerns over CSX's proposed acquisition of Pan Am Systems and related rail lines, now supports it, and disagrees with opponents who say the matter should be reviewed as a 'significant transaction.' [Progressive Railroading, 3-23-21]
HILLTOP TACOMA LINK EXTENSION PROJECT ON HOME STRETCH: Crews have completed track work on Martin Luther King Jr. Way for the Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension, marking 75 percent completion of the project. More than 22,000 linear feet of track is now installed. Work continues on seven new stations and five electrical substations. Five new cars will be added to the existing fleet, and the extension is scheduled to open for service next year. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-23-21]
RAIL CAR CONTAINING MOLASSES EXPLODES IN MINNESOTA: A rail car holding molasses exploded March 23 in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, spewing a 'sticky mess' and sending a plume cloud about 400 feet into the air, damaging property at Progressive Rail. The molasses traveled over a mile and one-half. There were no injuries. [RiverTowns website, 3-23-21]
CP AGREES TO ACQUIRE KCS: Canadian Pacific has agreed to acquire Kansas City Southern in a cash and stock transaction worth $29-billion. The combined entity will be named Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC). The companies informally notified the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which will need to approve the transaction, of the deal on March 20. If approved, it will be the first Class-I transaction of its type since the late 1990's when Norfolk Southern and CSX acquired the assets of Conrail. [Railway Age, 2-22-21]
MBTA BEGINS CONSTRUCTION ON GREEN LINE D TRACK, SIGNAL REPLACEMENT PROJECT: Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has begun construction on the Green line D track and signal replacement project. The project involves replacing 25,000 feet of track and 6.5 miles of signals, specifically between Beaconsfield and Riverside. [Progressive Railroading, 2-22-21]
BNSF CONDUCTOR DIES IN CREW VAN ACCIDENT IN NEBRASKA: Curtis Deines, 52, a BNSF conductor, was killed early March 19 after the SUV he was being transported in was in a head-on collision with another vehicle near Ravenna, Nebraska. Three other rail workers in the SUV, along with the driver, and the driver of the other vehicle involved, were transported for treatment. [SMART Transportation Divn., 3-22-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-seven percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending March 21, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 28 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 3-22-21]
METRA PROMOTING KEVIN MCCANN TO CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Chicago's Metra has named Kevin McCann, currently chief mechanical officer, to the position of chief operating officer, effective July 1. He replaces the retiring Bruce Marcheschi. [Railway Age, 3-19-21]
ONTARIO ADVANCES YONGE NORTH SUBWAY EXTENSION: Ontario is moving to the next stage of planning for the Yonge subway extension with further analysis on a route to provide access to transit within walking distance of 26,000 more people, and reduce commute time to downtown Toronto by up to 22 minutes. [Progressive Railroading, 3-19-21]
AMTRAK UNVEILS FIRST OF SIX 'CONNECTING AMERICA FOR 50 YEARS' LOCOMOTIVE: Amtrak has introduced Genesis P42 locomotive 46 wearing a graphic scheme reading 'Connecting America for 50 Years' upon its sides. Four other P42 units will follow with the same scheme, plus a Siemens Charger ALC-42, which is currently being built. [Railway Age, 3-18-21]
VERMONT RAIL SYSTEM CONTESTS PAN AM, CSX DEAL: The Vermont Rail System, in a filing with the Surface Transportation Board, has opposed CSX's acquisition of the Pan Am system. As part of the acquisition, CSX and Norfolk Southern agreed both companies would retain Pan Am System joint ownership, and a Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary will operate the line, the current role of Springfield Terminal Railway. Vermont Rail says its three short lines - Vermont Railway, Washington County Railroad, and Green Mountain Railroad - would be 'adversely impacted' by the deal. [Railway Age, 3-18-21]
SIERRA NORTHERN RWY TO BUILD, TEST HYDROGEN SWITCHING LOCOMOTIVE: Sierra Northern Railway and GTI have been awarded nearly $4-million by the California Energy Commission to built and test a hydrogen fuel-cell switching locomotive. The funds will be used to retire a Tier-0 diesel locomotive, and replace it with a zero-emission switching locomotive using advanced hydrogen technology. [Progressive Railroading, 3-18-21]
AMTRAK TRAIN SMASHES INTO TRUCK IN CALIFORNIA: There were no injuries when Amtrak's southbound Coast Starlight smashed into a truck that was stuck on a crossing early March 18 in Oakland, California. The driver of the truck had exited the vehicle prior to impact, which resulted in a fiery collision. [ABC-11 Eyewitness News, 3-18-21]
FUNDING ANNOUNCED FOR TRANSLINK LOCOMOTIVE PROJECT: TransLink in British Columbia will receive federal and provincial funding to modernize seven West Coast Express locomotives. The project calls for refurbishing the engines of six locomotives to expand their lifespan by 15 years. In addition, all headend power units will be replaced to reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency, and allow for operation of longer trains. [Progressive Railroading, 3-18-21]
METRA ORDERS MULTILEVEL CARS FROM ALSTOM: Chicago's Metra has awarded Alstom a $775.4-million order for an initial 200 multilevel cars from Alstom, the first to be delivered 42 months after the contract is finalized. It is part of potential order for up to 500 cars worth $1.8-billion. The new cars will allow the agency to retire aging gallery cars. [Railway Age, 3-18-21]
MBTA PULLS NEW TRAINS FROM SERVICE FOLLOWING DERAILMENT: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has pulled all of its new six-car subway trains for inspection following a March 16 derailment. The accident happened at slow speed through a work zone on the Orange line at Wellington Station. There were no injuries. The Orange line will be closed for about three weeks between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square for the repair of damages, along with other infrastructure work. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-17-21]
HITACHI SELECTED TO BUILD D.C. METRO'S 8000-SERIES CARS: Washington DC Metro has selected Hitachi to build the system's 8000-series rail cars. The contract includes a base order of 256 cars, with options to build up to 800 in the fleet. The base order will replace 2000- and 3000-series cars, which were built in the 1980's. [Progressive Railroading, 3-17-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN PROPOSES RUNNING DAILY 9000-FOOT TRAIN THROUGH CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS: A proposal current being reviewed by federal regulators would allow Norfolk Southern the right to use CSX tracks between Voorheesville and central Massachusetts to move 'one' 9000-foot-long double-stack container train per day traveling to and from Massachusetts. [Altamont Express, 3-17-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads moved 520,735 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending March 13, 2021, up 12.5 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 2.1 percent, and intermodal was up 22.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-17-21]
AMTRAK ASKS STB TO INTERVENE IN EFFORT TO ALLOW GULF COAST PASSENGER SERVICE: Amtrak has asked the Surface Transportation Board to intervene on its behalf if CSX and Norfolk Southern do not cooperate on hosting proposed new service between New Orleans and Mobile. [Railway Age, 3-16-21]
BMWED SUING CSX OVER PAYROLL ERRORS: The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way has filed suit against CSX over payroll errors resulting from the railroad's 'TimeTrax' program, which union's members allege is flawed and has been shorting or mistakenly paying employees over a number of months without corrccting the process. TimeTrax began on CSX in November 2020, and without effective consultation with the union. The suit asks that the company be required suspend its use of TimeTrax, to negotiate with the union on how iy should work, and to fix the problems that have occurred. [BMWED, 3-16-21]
R.J. CORMAN NAMES ERIC HOSEY V.P.-OPERATIONS: R.J. Corman Railroad has named Eric Hosey vice-president of operations. With 27 years of railroad experience, he has worked with Norfolk Southern, Genesee & Wyoming, Amtrak and Metrolink. [Progressive Railroading, 3-15-21]
FRA PROPOSES COLLECTING TRESPASSING DATA FROM LAW-ENFORCEMENT: The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed collecting trespassing data from law-enforcement agencies to help determine root causes and reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on railroad property. The process will allow interested parties to learn more about individuals who trespass, and develop education and enforcement programs. [Railway Age, 3-15-21]
AMTRAK IMPROVEMENTS ON TRACK FOR RHINECLIFF, N.Y., STATION: A new high-level platform, accessible restrooms, two new elevators, repairs and upgrades to the station and ticket counter are now planned for Rhinecliff, New York, set for construction in FY-2023. [Albany Times Union, 3-15-21]
VIA RAIL, UNIFOR RATIFY AGREEMENTS FOR 1,600 EMPLOYEES: VIA Rail Canada and members of Unifor Council 4000 have ratified collective agreements for more than 1,600 VIA employees in stations, on board trains, in call centers and administrative offices. The agreements include a 2 percent wage increase, benefits improvements and review of several work rules. [VIA Rail, 3-15-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-six percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending March 14, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 20 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 3-15-21]
RAIL WORKER INJURED ON THIRD-TRACK EXPANSION PROJECT: An ironworker involved in the Long Island Rail Road's third-track expansion project was electrocuted and in critical condition March 14 while working in the erection of a pedestrian bridge at the Mineola station. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-15-21]
OLD WIND TURBINE BLADES FIND USE ON BRITAIN'S HIGH-SPEED RAIL NETWORK: Worn out wind turbine blades will be recycled to create carbon-friendly reinforced concrete on Britain's new high-speed rail network, The project will swap steel rebar, used to reinforce concrete, with sections of glass fibre reinforced polymer turbine blades. [Rail Business Daily, 3-15-21]
NEW EMD POWER FOR MONGOLIA: Progress Rail will supply 16 EMD SD70ACE/LW locomotives for use on a 155-mile Tavan Tolgoi Railway expected to be finished next year. [Railway Age, 3-15-21]
POSITIVE TRAIN-CONTROL EXPLAINED: Positive train-control (or 'PTC') is a method to automatically stop a train before a collision. PTC was designed as the 'last line of defense' to prevent collisions or derailments caused by human error, such as excessive speed, misaligned switches or unauthorized entry into work zones. PTC systems are on Class-I main lines over which five million or more gross tons of annual traffic, or certain hazardous materials are transported, or on any main lines over which intercity or commuter passenger transportation is regularly provided. The systems are interoperable, meaning the locomotives of any host or tenant railroads operating on the same PTC-equipped main line communicate with and respond to the PTC system, including during uninterrupted movements over property boundaries. The speed and location of trains are tracked through a combination of global-positioning systems, computers on board the locomotives, and wayside radio equipment. PTC systems overlay existing railroad hardware and software. When a train is running at a speed or in an area where it ought not be, a warning signal is first sent to the engineer. If the engineer does not respond, the train brakes function automatically. [Freight Waves, 3-13-21]
AMTRAK PLANNING TO RESTORE DAILY SERVICE TO LONG-DISTANCE TRAINS: Just hours after the House of Representatives sent a COVID-19 relief package, with emergency funds included for intercity rail, to President Biden, Amtrak announced that it will restore 12 long-distance routes to daily service between May 24 and June 7. First to be restored are California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Buiilder and Texas Eagle, on May 24. Next are Capitol Limited, City of New Orleans, Lake Shore Limited and Southwest Chief, on May 31. Finally, Crescent, Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star, on June 7. Unless unforeseen coronavirus problems intervene, Amtrak expects to bring back full-service dining on the six Western routes that lost it last year, once those trains return to daily service. [Rail Passengers Assn., 3-12-21]
STRASBURG R.R. ASSIGNS ALL-FEMALE STEAM LOCOMOTIVE CREW: On March 6, the Strasburg Rail Road assigned its first-ever all-female steam locomotive crew. Andrea Biesecker and Shelley Hall ran all five round-trips on No. 475 over the 4.5-mile line in southeastern Pennsylvania. [Railway Age, 3-12-21]
MINNEAPOLIS EXPLORING ALTERNATE ROUTE OPTIONS FOR BOTTINEAU LIGHT-RAIL PROJECT: After failing to come to terms with BNSF for use of an eight-mile track segment, Minneapolis officials are breaking off on their own for alternate route options for the Bottineau Blue Line light-rail project. The line had been planned to connect downtown with Brooklyn Park via Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal. Two alternate routes are now being explored, but Golden Valley will be left out. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-12-21]
FIRST OF TWO NEW RAIL FERRIES FOR CG RAILWAY LAUNCHED: CG Railway, which transports 10,000 carloads each year across the Gulf of Mexico, has announced the launching of the first of two new rail ferries to replace their two existing ferries. The new ferry is expected to begin operations in the second-quarter, with the second ferry in the third-quarter. [Progressive Railroading, 3-12-21]
BIKE THROUGH HISTORY SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED: NCR-Hereford Volunteers Association has announced its 2021 Bike Through History program schedule on the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail in northern Baltimore County, Md. After canceling its program last year, due to the pandemic, this year's schedule includes eight Wednesday evening rides, each from a different location, beginning at 6:30 p.m. They are June 2 from Paper Mill road, June 9 from Bentley Springs, June 16 from Monkton, June 23 from White Hall, June 30 from Sparks, July 7 from Freeland, July 14 from Parkton, and July 21 from Phoenix. For further information, call 410-592-2897. [NCR-Hereford Volunteers, 3-12-21]
AMSTED DIGITAL SOLUTIONS ACQUIRES GEOMETRIX RAIL LOGISTICS: Amsted Digital Solutions has acquired the assets of Calgary-based rail car fleet management software company GeoMetrix Rail Logistics, as the first milestone toward expanding the company's digital footprint. [Progressive Railroading, 3-11-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending March 6, 2021, was 515,135 carloads and intermodal units, up 11.4 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calulated separately, carloads were up 1.1 percent, and intermodal was up 21.5 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-10-21]
AMTRAK TO COMPLETE PLATFORM REPAIRS AT GULF COAST STATIONS: Amtrak has sent a team to assess the remaining work underway on stations along its route from Mobile to New Orleans to ensure the line is ready for passenger rail service to begin next year. Amtrak plans to pay for the repairs, subject to federal approval, and construct new accessible platforms in the second phase of work. [Progressive Railroading, 3-10-21]
VIRGIN SUES BRIGHTLINE OVER CONTRACT TERMINATION: Virgin Enterprises has launched legal proceedings against Brightline to recoup $251.3-million it says it is owed after Brightline pulled out of a 20-year deal to use the Virgin brand. The amount being sought includes what Virgin says it would have collected if the agreement had continued through to 2023, the earliest the deal could have been canceled, with a termination fee included. [Railway Age, 3-10-21]
BNSF ORDERED TO REHIRE, GIVE BACK PAY TO EMPLOYEE FOR WORK-RELATED INJURY ISSUE: An employee of BNSF will receive more than $290,000 in back pay, damages and fees, and be reinstated after the U.S. Dept. of Labor found the worker's rights were violated. The railroad had acccused the employee of violating a doctor's restrictions against physical activity following a work-related injury. When the employee provided documents during a subsequent hearing to prove that the doctor allowed the activity, the company ignored the documents, and the employee was terminated. [U.S. Dept. of Labor, 3-10-21]
ALSTOM AGREES TO ACQUIRE RAIL SERVICES FIRM SHUNTER: Alstom has agreed to acquire Shunter. Based in Rotterdam, Shunter offers management and maintenance services for freight and passenger railroad rolling stock, as well as onboard signaling solutions. [Progressive Railroading, 3-9-21]
AMTRAK TO ADD SLEEPING CAR SERVICE TO OVERNIGHT NORTHEAST CORRIDOR TRAINS: Amtrak Northeast Regional service, beginning April 5, will include private room sleeping cars on overnight trains 65, 66 and 67, operating between Washington, New York and Boston. Customers may select from roommettes, bedrooms and accessible bedrooms. [Amtrak, 3-8-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-seven percent of Amtrak's long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending March 7, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 19 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 3-8-21]
CP TRAIN DERAILS IN MINNESOTA: Twenty-two cars of a Canadian Pacific freight train derailed March 7 in Plymouth, Minnesota, northwest of Minneapolis. The cars were carrying lumber, ashphalt and sulfur. There were no environmental leaks, and no injuries were reported. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-8-21]
MIKE REININGER NAMED CEO OF BRIGHTLINE HOLDINGS: Brightline Trains has announced the appointment of Mike Reininger as chief executive officer of Brightline Holdings, the new holding company to oversee strategy and expansion. He had previously served as Brightline's president and chief development officer from 2012 to 2018. [Progressive Railroading, 3-8-21]
MAN DIES WHILE WORKING ON CLEANUP OF NORFOLK SOUTHERN DERAILMENT IN W.VA.: A 36-year-old West Virginia man died from injuries early March 5 while helping with the cleanup of an earlier Norfolk Southern train derailment at Riverton Junction, W.Va. The derailment the previous day involved about 15 cars. No hazardous materials were involved, and there were no other injuries. [Winchester Star, 3-7-21]
NEW AMTRAK DEPOT PLANNED FOR BRYAN, OHIO: The city of Bryan, Ohio, is served by Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited, and an average of 2,600 passengers a year board at that location. Amtrak has announced that it will be building a new $3.3-million station to replace the old one. It will look very similar to the station Amtrak recently built in Alliance, Ohio, and will feature an upgraded 343-foot-long platform with lighting, guardrails, signage, a new prototype shelter with an enclosed waiting area, a restroom, and improvements to make the complex ADA-compliant. [WTOL, 3-4-21]
S.F. CABLE CARS, VINTAGE STREETCARS TO RETURN TO SERVICE: San Francisco suspended its cable car and F-line vintage streetcar services last year due to the pandemic. The city's transportation agency now plans to return those lines to service over the next couple of years, with two of the lines as early as this year. The 10-mile system includes the Powell-Mason, Powell-Hyde and California cable car lines, and the F Market & Wharves vintage streetcar line. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-4-21]
MARYLAND RELEASES STUDY OF MONORAIL SYSTEM IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY: A Maryland study shows that the construction of a monorail system in Montgomery County would be 'useful,' but not useful enough to shed traffic off of I-270. The $4.4-billion line would connect Frederick with the Shady Grove Metro station, could serve between 34,000 and 47,000 riders daily, but 10,000 would come from other transit systems, and attract just a little over 10,000 new riders. It would likely reduce traffic less than one percent on I-270 and other roads, the study said. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-4-21]
BNSF TRAIN DERAILS IN MOJAVE DESERT, SPILLS FLAMMABLE LIQUID: About 44 cars of a BNSF train derailed on March 4 in the Mojave Desert just east of Ludlow, California, causing thousands of gallons of flammable liquid to spill from one of the cars. No injuries were reported. [Victorville Daily Press, 2-4-21]
GROUP PROPOSES TO PRIVATIZE NORTHEAST CORRIDOR RAIL SYSTEM: AmeriStarRail wants to privatize the Northeast Corridor rail system, saying that the group does not want to replace Amtrak, but simply 'enhance' it. Under its proposal, trains would operate on Amtrak's lines, and passengers would board Amtrak trains with Amtrak tickets. The group would arrange private financing to convert the fleet to compartment-style trains and increase high-speed service, while making it more affordable for families. There would also be more direct routes and increased service, all while remaining unionized. [WHYY, 2-4-21]
BRIGHTLINE GETS 'FINAL DEADLINE' TO FORM AGREEMENTS FOR ORLANDO AIRPORT-TAMPA LINE: Florida transportation officials have given Brightline a final deadline of mid-summer to iron out agreements for the extension of passenger rail service from Orlando's airport to Tampa. The route preferred by Brightline has posed some issues, including the need to cooperate with SunRail, an agreement for use of space along the Central Florida Expressway Authority toll road system, and for use of an Orlando Utilities Commission coal train spur near the airport. [Progressive Railroading, 3-3-21]
MARYLAND RELEASES ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR RECONSTRUCTION OF HOWARD STREET TUNNEL: Maryland has released its environmental assessment for the reconstruction of the CSX Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore, with a public comment period to run through March 30. The project consists of vertical clearance improvements to allow for double-stacked containers to travel through Baltimore and to Philadelphia. [Progressive Railroading, 3-3-21]
FEBRUARY 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail carload and intermodal originations in Febr. 2021 were 1,840,631, down 4.4 percent compared with the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were down 11.1 percent, and intermodal was up 1.8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-3-21]
BNSF EMPLOYEE DIES IN RAIL YARD NEAR L.A.: A BNSF employee was crushed and killed early March 3 while working in the La Mirada rail yard near Los Angeles. [Orange County Register, 3-3-21]
CSX INVESTIGATING DATA SECURITY INCIDENT: CSX said it is investigating a data security incident linked to a software provider after a ransomware gang posted screenshots of internal company files to a leak site March 2. CSX said the incident has had no impact on business operations. [Freight Waves, 3-2-21]
BNSF BRIDGE SPANNING MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN MINNESOTA CATCHES FIRE: A fire on March 1 caused moderate damage to a BNSF bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Lake Irving and Lake Bemidji, Minnesota. Firefighters battled the blaze for more than two hours. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-2-21]
KCS SHARES FALL ON DOWNBEAT 1-Q REVENUE OUTLOOK: Shares of Kansas City Southern fell 1.9 percent in morning trading March 2 after the company provided a downbeat first-quarter revenue outlook. The company said it expects both volume and revenue for the quarter to be down 4 percent from the same period last year. [MarketWatch, 3-2-21]
N.M. RAIL RUNNER EXPRESS TO RESUME SERVICE: New Mexico's Rail Runner Express service will resume some weekday operations starting March 8, having not operated at all since March 15 of last year. There will be no weekend service, at least for now. [Railway Age, 3-2-21]
NEW L.A. METRO TUNNEL BROKEN THROUGH TO BEVERLY HILLS: Los Angeles Metro said that its first tunnel-boring machine 'Elsie' broke through to the Wilshire/La Cienega subway station site in Beverly Hills on Febr. 25. Elsie, a 1,000-ton, 400-foot-long machine, started its one-mile journey from the Wilshire/Fairfax station on May 29 of last year. [Railway Track & Structures, 3-2-21]
FIRST ELECTRIC CALTRAIN SET ARRIVES FOR TESTING IN PUEBLO, COLORADO: Caltrain's first electric trainset has arrived at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado, for about eight months of testing. [Progressive Railroading, 3-2-21]
FEBRUARY 2021 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-six percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in February 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was one hour and three minutes late. The average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and 56 minutes late. A number of delays during the month were due to heavy snowstorms. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 3-1-21]
LIRR ON TRACK TO ELIMINATE LAST GRADE CROSSING IN EXPANSION PROJECT: Long Island Rail Road is closing Main street grade crossing in Mineola, the eighth and final crossing to be permanently eliminated as part of its expansion project. The project, meanwhile, also includes the renewal of stations, raising bridges and upgrading switches and infrastructure. [Progressive Railroading, 3-1-21]
METROLINK GETTING $13.6-M FEDERAL GRANT FOR GRADE CROSSING IMPROVEMENTS: Metrolink will receive up to $13.6-million in Federal Highway Administration funds for safety improvements at four grade crossings along its Antelope Valley line in Palmdale and Lancaster, California. [Progressive Railroading, 3-1-21]
NEXT N.Y. PENN STATION UPGRADE TO BENEFIT NJT: The opening of Moynihan Train Hall at New York's Penn Station has given a boost to Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road, but it did not add any tracks, and was of not much benefit to New Jersey Transit. But the proposed Empire Station complex, which will add as many as nine new tracks, will see NJ Transit as its primary operator. The project will include many new entrances, corridors, and a number of new skyscrapers with parking, retail space, and more, to help pay for it. Construction will be in two phases, with the first estimated to finish in 2028, and the second in 2038. [, 2-25-21]
KEYSTONE XL CANCELATION RENEWS INTEREST IN CRUDE-BY-RAIL: The decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline is sparking renewed interest in shipping Canadian oil-sands crude by rail, but that comes with its own environmental risks. Rail is poised to become a more important way for the oil to reach U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, which need the heavy crude to replace declining supplies from Mexico and Venezuela. That also means the risk of derailments may also rise. [Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance, 2-24-21]
AMTRAK, CSX HAVE NOT YET REACHED AGREEMENT ON GULF COAST RAIL SERVICE PLAN: Amtrak said it intends to restore daily routes to New Orleans as easrly as possible next year. However, it has not reached an agreement with CSX, which would be the host carrier along the route. CSX, however, says it is 'close to the finish line' on the modeling study. [NBC-15, 2-23-21]
BNSF SAYS IT IS PREPARED TO HAUL MORE OIL: BNSF is prepared to handle additional volume resulting from shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline, and uncertainty surrounding the Dakota Access pipeline. The railroad says it's confident in its ability to service the transportation needs in agriculture, and believe an efficient infrastructure system is good for the country. [WNAX, 2-25-21]
MRC RAIL LINE IN S.D. SOLD: The South Dakota Dept. of Transportation has announced that they have finalized the sale of the Mitchell to Rapid City (MRC) rail line to Ringneck & Western Railroad for $13-million. Watco Cos. will operate the line. [Progressive Railroading, 2-25-21]
TRINITY INDUSTRIES REPORTS 4-Q RESULTS: Trinity Industries reported fourth-quarter total revenue of $416-million, down from $851-million in the same quarter a year ago. The company logged 2,235 rail car deliveries and 1,170 new car orders in the fourth-quarter. [Progressive Railroading, 2-25-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN, CSX TRAINS COLLIDE IN GEORGIA: According to officials, a Norfolk Southern locomotive struck a CSX train late Febr. 24 in Augusta, Georgia. It derailed 17 intermodal cars carrying 34 containers. There were no injuries to the CSX crew, but Norfolk Southern's crew did seek medical attention for injuries, but were not life-threatening. No hazardous materials or leaks were involved. [WRDW, 2-24-21]
AMTRAK OFFERING UPGRADE 'BIDS' TO ACELA CUSTOMERS: Amtrak customers will now be able to bid for a better seat on future Acela trips, allowing them to upgrade to business-class or Acela first-class. The new service is called 'BidUp,' and will alert eligible riders with a push notification four days before their trip and invite them to bid on a new seat. There is no fee to make a bid, and customers will only be charged if they win. [Travel+Leisure, 2-24-21]
MAINE CONSIDERING NEW LOCATION FOR PORTLAND TRAIN STATION: Amtrak's Boston-Brunswick Downeaster trains currently need to get off the main track at Portland to reach its station, and this adds 15 minutes to each run. The state is studying options for a new station along St. John street. Meanwhile, there are plans to expand the service by adding another round-trip by late May. [Progressive Railroading, 2-24-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending Febr. 20, 2021 (a week in which there were considerable weather disruptions), was 377,904 carloads and intermodal units, down 21.7 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were down 26.3 percent, and intermodal was down 17.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-24-21]
HIGH WINDS DISRUPT RAIL FREIGHT SERVICE IN WESTERN U.S.: Areas of the western U.S. have been battered by powerful winds the past few days, with gusts reaching 90-plus MPH in parts of Montana and Wyoming. According to an alert from Union Pacific, the railroad held trains between North Platte, Nebraska, and Green River Wyoming, due to high winds in southeastern Wyoming. [Freight Waves, 2-24-21]
CINCINNATI COUNCIL SUPPORTS PROPOSED AMTRAK EXPANSION IN OHIO: Cincinnati's city council has passed a resolution in support of Amtrak's proposed expansion of passenger rail service in Ohio. Under the plan, three daily trains would serve the Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati corridor, and four daily round-trips would be run the Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati route. [WLWT, 2-24-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAIN DERAILS IN PA., DISRUPTS AMTRAK: Amtrak's Pennsylvanian was annulled Febr. 23 following a 15-car Norfolk Southern train derailment near Newport, Pa. No injuries were reported, and no hazardous materials were involved. [WJAC, 2-23-21]
SEMI COLLIDES WITH BNSF TRAIN IN TEXAS: An 18-wheeler collided into the side of a BNSF train Febr. 23 at a crossing in Milam County, Texas, sending a ball of flames and black smoke into the air. There were no injuries, and the fire did not reach a car in the train carrying hazardous material. The driver of the rig reportedly drove around a stopped car at the gate and crashed into the train. [KXAN, 2-23-21]
GULF COAST AMTRAK SERVICE SET TO RETURN NEXT YEAR: Passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast is on target to return in 2022, possibly in the early part of the year, Amtrak said. The train will connect New Orleans with Mobile with four stops in Mississippi. It will be the first time that passenger trains have rolled along the Gulf Coast in more than 16 years. [, 2-23-21]
COURT OVERTURNS FRA DECISION ON TRAIN CREW SIZE: The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a Federal Railroad Administration decision on train crew size, saying the agency's decision to withdraw a proposed rule requiring two-person crews was 'arbitrary and capricious.' The matter was returned to the FRA for further consideration. [Trains Magazine, 2-23-21]
CLASS-I RAIL EMPLOYMENT DROPS IN JANUARY: U.S. Class-I railroads employed 113,461 people in mid-January 2021, down 3.66 percent compared with the prior month, and down 11.57 percent year-over-year, according to Surface Transportation Board data. [Progressive Railroading, 2-23-21]
FREIGHTCAR AMERICA NAMES TERENCE ROGERS CFO: Freightcar America has appointed Terence Rogers vice-president, chief financial officer and treasurer. He had been serving as interim CFO since January. [Progressive Railroading, 2-22-21]
SOUTH JERSEY LIGHT-RAIL PROJECT ADVANCES: An environmental impact study for an 18-mile Glassboro-Camden light-rail line has been completed for the New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection. The proposal would restore passenger rail service along an existing Conrail line in the state's Philadelphia suburbs. Diesel light-rail vehicles, similar to those running on New Jersey Transit's River line, would carry riders between 14 stations, and transfers would be available at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden. [Railway Age, 2-22-21]
BNSF RESUMES WORK ON SANDPOINT CONNECTOR: BNSF has resumed work on its Sandpoint Junction Connector project in Idaho. It involves construction of second bridges over Lake Pend Oreille and Bridge street, plus a new bridge over Sand Creek. Work had been paused during the 2020 winter holiday season. BNSF's mainline merges with Montana Rail Link in Sandpoint, creating a bottleneck, and the project will allow trains to run in both directions, reducing idle time waiting for a track. The project will also benefit Amtrak. [Progressive Railroading, 2-22-21]
TWO CP TRAINS DERAIL IN ALBERTA: Two Canadian Pacific trains derailed in southern Alberta on Febr. 21. Two locomotives and two cars derailed at Alyth Yard in Calgary, and a grain train derailed east of Bow Island. No injuries were reported in either incident. [CBC, 2-21-21]
FEDS CITE TRINITYRAIL IN FATAL TANK CAR CLEANING INCIDENT: The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration has cited TrinityRail & Maintenance Services for an Aug. 2020 incident that resulted in two fatalities, recommending a penalty assessment of over $419,000 for 11 serious safety violations. A Trinity employee in Oklahoma was seeking to clean a tank car that had been used to carry natural gas. A second employee then entered the tank seeking to rescue the first employee. Both died from inhaling toxic fumes. The administration said the company failed to require a permit to allow entry into the tank, ventilate the space, monitor hazards, and complete entry permits for work inside a confined space. [Freight Waves, 2-20-21]
SWEDISH RAIL TICKET OFFICES TO CLOSE: Swedish national passenger operator SJ is to close its remaining ticket centers at the main stations in Stockholm, Goteborg and Malmo effective March 1. Customer service staff will be deployed around the stations to assist passengers with using ticket machines, digital purchases and rebooking. [Railway Gazette, 2-20-21]
TEEN SENTENCED TO FOUR DAYS IN JAIL FOR TRYING TO DERAIL BNSF TRAIN: A 19-year-old man of Fargo, N.D., was sentenced to four days in jail and three years of supervised release for attempting to derail a BNSF train, and for attempting to obstruct justice by threatening someone to fake a story to exonerate the accused. Skylar Dayne Goodman was also ordered to pay over $3,000 in restitution to the railroad. The incident occurred May 7, 2020, near Casselton, N.D., and the attempt to derail the train was by use of a rerailer. The train did not derail. [Valley News Live, 2-19-21]
VEGETABLE-OIL-FUELED LOCOMOTIVE TESTED IN U.K.: A class-60 diesel locomotive has been tested in the United Kingdom using hydro-treated vegetable oil as fuel. It hauled 2,500 tons of steel from Port Talbot to Brierley Hill in the West Midlands. The fuel was produced through the treatment of vegetable oils or animal fats, which can reduce CO2 and NOx emissions by up to 90 percent. [Railway Gazette, 2-19-21]
TWO SAUDI RAILWAYS MERGE: The merger of Saudi Railways Organization and Saudi Railways Company has been formally approved. The combined entity, using the Saudi Railways Company name, will be responsible for all intercity lines in the kingdom. [Railway Gazette, 2-19-21]
AMTRAK MODIFYING SCHEDULES DUE TO SEVERE WEATHER: Amtrak is modifying select Northeast region train schedules on Friday, Febr. 19, due to severe winter weather. In addition, the northbound Palmetto from Savannah to New York is annulled. [Amtrak, 2-18-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN WITHDRAWS PLANS FOR ATLANTA RAIL TRANSFER FACILITY: Norfolk Southern has terminated plans to build a rail transfer facility on the former site of Chattahoochee Brick Co. in Atlanta. The decision came after the city filed a petition for preliminary injunction with the Surface Transportation Board. The company will complete the necessary work to stabilize and secure the site, and then withdraw. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-18-21]
OMNITRAX MARKS SAVANNAH GATEWAY INDUSTRIAL HUB'S DEBUT: The Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub, A&R Logistics' new global export headquarters near the Port of Savannah is operational, and OmniTRAX's rail infrastructure is receiving shipments from CSX and Norfolk Southern. [Progressive Railroading, 2-18-21]
METRA TO BUY LOW-EMISSION SWITCH LOCOMOTIVES: Chicago's Metra plans to purchase seven low-emission switch locomotives, including a zero-emission electric-powered unit. The zero-emission locomotive will be the first in the agency's fleet. [Progressive Railroading, 2-18-21]
CSX REPORTS STORM IMPACT: CSX has updated the winter storm's impact on its system. The railroad is working to minimize operational impacts due to snow, ice and freezing conditions, which may cause delays in areas extending from the South to the Northeast. It will ontinue to monitor conditions and issue additional updates as warranted. All intermodal terminals remain open and operational with weather-related regional delays. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-18-21]
A NEW TECHNOLOGY SIMULATES TRAINS, OPERATIONS: PTB (Precision Train Builder) is new technology that harnesses the physics associated with trains and operations. In essence, it simulates over hundreds of miles compressed into just minutes, identifying not only where to place rail cars within a train, but how many locomotives to use, and where to place them within the train for the most efficient and safe operation. Several Class-I railroads use the technology. PTB is also being used to monitor train crews in real time as they operate over trritory, providing alerts when necessary, such as reduing speed to mitigate buff and draft forces. [Railway Age, 2-18-21]
STEAM RETURNING TO GRAND CANYON RAILWAY: The Grand Canyon Railway is planning the return of the steam engine on eight dates this year: the first Saturday of each month April-September, also April 24 and September 18. Ticket prices will be the same as runs using diesels. [Progressive Railroading, 2-17-21]
D.C. METRO TO REPLACE 130 ESCALATORS AT 32 STATIONS: Washington DC Metro has awarded a seven-year contract to replace 130 escalators at 32 stations starting in May of this year. They will incorporate the latest safety features. [Progressive Railroading, 2-17-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic originations in the week ending Febr. 13, 2021, were 480,483 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.3 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were down 7 percent, and intermodal was up 6.9 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-17-21]
REDUCED AMTRAK SERVICE COULD IMPACT GETTING SCOUTS TO BSA RANCH IN N.M.: The Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico is rcached most conveniently by Amtrak's Southwest Chief at its stop in Raton, N.M. But due to the pandemic, Amtrak has cut service on this particular run to three times a week, rather than daily. Scout officials say some of the troops attending the ranch will be able to time their arrival and departure without impact, but others may not. However it plays out, those responsible for getting the scouts to and from the ranch will do everything they can to accommodate the three-day-a-week schedule. [Albuquerque Journal, 2-17-21]
VEHICLE ON-BOARD CONTROLLERS TO BE SUPPLIED TO VANCOUVER SKYTRAIN FLEET: Thales wil supply 82 vehicle-on-board controllers as part of TransLink's Sky Train fleet expansion in Vancouver, B.C. They will be installed on 41 new automated rapid transit trains to increase capacity on the Expo and Millennium lines, which are already equipped with Thales' communication-based train-control system. [Railway Age, 2-17-21]
DIGITAL SIGNALING TO BE APPLIED TO DEUTSCHE BAHN'S STUTTGART REGION: Thales will digitize Deutsche Bahn in the Stuttgart region of Germany with a digital signaling system, the European train-control system and automatic train operations with operator. [Progressive Railroading, 2-17-21]
NEW RAIL-GRINDING MACHINE DEVELOPED FOR LIGHT-RAIL: Plasser & Theurer has developed a new rail-grinding machine for light-rail. Called Automatic Track Machine Oscillator, it combines two working methods: whetstone grinding and oscillating grinding. The machine employs two grinding saddles, each featuring two grinding stones per rail head. A hydraulic mechanism moves the saddles horizontally, in the longitudinal direction of the rails, with variable frequency. By constantly moving back and forth, while traveling slowly, prcisely fine-tuned grinding is achieved in a single pass. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-16-21]
VIRGINIA SEEKS $50-M TO IMPROVE AMTRAK SERVICE: Virginia has proposed $50-million in one-time general fund in FY-2022 to help improve Amtrak intercity service along the U.S. 29 and Interstate 81 corridors. The proposal would include a second daily round-trip between Roanoke and Alexandria, extension of the existing and new second trains to New River Valley, and improved freight and passenger rail reliability. The existing Roanoke train is the only Amtrak service in Virginia that covers 100 percent of its operating costs through ticket revenue. [Progressive Railroading, 2-16-21]
SEPTA ELK HILL 2 SOLAR FARM OPERATIONAL: SEPTA's 17.5-megawatt solar farm in Franklin County, Pa., is now operational. The project, Elk Hill 2, was developed to help reduce carbon emissions. It is one of two solar farms that SEPTA announced last year, and will generate nearly 10 percent of the agency's annual electric demand. [Progressive Railroading, 2-16-21]
METRO LINE EXTENSION IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IN FINAL PLANNING STAGE: A 4.5-mile, $1-billion metro rail line extension between Redondo Beach and Torrance, California, is in its final phase of planning, with a projected 2028 opening. While the extension is widely welcomed, there is still the issue of deciding between two potential routes through the densely-populated community of Lawndale. [Beach Reporter, 2-16-21]
WINTER WEATHER IMPACTING RAIL SERVICE: Union Pacific began shutting all intermodal gates Febr. 16 as a result of winter weather that impactd crews in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin and Washington. It told customers to expect a delay of at least 72 hours for shipments moving through the affected region until conditions improve. BNSF notified customers of potential operational impacts to its network due to the weather and said extended delays should be expected for shipments moving through Texas and parts of the Gulf Coast. [Supply Chain Dive, 2-16-21]
ALLEGHENY VALLEY R.R. OPENS NEW PITTSBURGH TRANSLOAD FACILITY: The Allegheny Valley Railroad has opened a new Pittsburgh, Pa., transload facility. The Glenwood Transload terminal features a 40-ton-capacity traveling gantry crane that can load and unload multiple rail car spots directly to truck or ground storage. [Railway Age, 2-16-21]
NIGERIA-NIGER RAIL LINE CONSTRUCTION BEGINS: Ground has been broken for a $1-billion cross-border rail line to connect the northern Nigerian trading hub of Kano with the town of Maradi in Niger. It will comprise a 176-mile main line as well as a 58-mile branch line connecting Kano with Jigawa and Durse. It will serve about 15 stations carrying over 9,000 passengers and 3,000 tons of freight per day upon opening. [International Railway Journal, 2-16-21]
CN TRAIN DERAILS IN WEST CHICAGO, DISRUPTING METRA SERVICE: Eight cars of a CN train derailed early Febr. 15 at a junction with Metra UP-West tracks in West Chicago, disrupting Metra service for more than five hours. There were no injuries, fires or leaks. [Chicago Sun-Times, 2-15-21]
CP TRAIN DERAILS IN ALBERTA: Two locomotives and 46 cars loaded with potash were involved in a derailment just east of the B.C.-Alberta boundary late Febr. 12 at Crowsnest Lake, west of Coleman. No injuries were reported. [Calgary Herald, 2-14-21]
TRAIN DERAILS IN NORMAL, ILLINOIS, BLOCKING NUMEROUS CROSSINGS: A train derailed early Febr. 13 in Normal, Illinois, blocking numerous crossings. There were no injuries, and no hazardous materials were involved. [WEEK 25 News, 2-13-21]
INDIANA TOWN SEEKS TO MOVE, PRESERVE HISTORIC INTERLOCKING TOWER: The twin towns of Union City sit on the Ohio-Indiana boundary. The former New York Central interlocking tower, on the Indiana side, stands vacant and no longer needed for railroad use. According to retired NYC tower operator Bill Haines (who catalogs for the Bull Sheet the status of former towers and their adaptive reuse), the tower was closed in 1969 when its functions were transferred to Ansonia Tower in Ohio. The town now wants to save Union City Tower. It will need to be moved 525 feet from its present location to a place where it can be transformed into a visitors' information center, with restrooms, in the town's Artisan Walk and Military Park. There it can also serve as the first stop on a walking tour of the town's historic railroad roots. At its new, safer location, it will be angled in relation to the track. The state of Indiana has offered $50,000 in matching funds for the project, but the town will need to raise an equal amount to qualify for the match. Those willing to contribute are invited to send donations to UC Rail Tower, 105 N. Columbia, Union City, Indiana 47390.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN NAMES HUNT GARY V.P. OPERATIONS EFFICIENCY: Norfolk Southern has appointed Hunt Gary as vice-president of operations efficiency. He comes to Norfolk Southern from Union Pacific, where he most recently served as vice-president of intermodal operations. [Progressive Railroading, 2-12-21]
EXCAVATION COMPLETED FOR TWIN GO TRANSIT KICHENER CORRIDOR TUNNELS: Excavation has been completed for the second of two tunnels under highways 401 and 409, bringing the Kitchener GO Transit corridor one step closer to becoming a two-way, all-day rail service. When complete, the structure will provide space for two additional tracks in the future. [Progressive Railroading, 2-12-21]
HOUSE COMMITTEE PASSES BILL WITH $1.5-B FOR AMTRAK: The U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee has passed a pandemic relief bill which includes $1.5-billion for Amtrak. It comes with a mandate to restore daily long-distance routes within 90 days of passage and bring back employees furloughed due to the pandemic. [Rail Passengers Assn., 2-12-21]
CANADA ANNOUNCES MAJOR TRANSIT FUNDING INITIATIVE: Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has announced a major funding initiative for the country's transit systems. He said that $14-billion (C) will be invested in public transportation projects in two parts throughout the nation over the next eight years. Short-term funding of $5.9-billion will go to specific projects beginning in 2021; and starting in 2026, $3-billion per year will be allocated to a permanent transit fund to entities throughout the country after consulting with indigenous communities, provinces, territories and municipalities. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-11-21]
CONRAIL GETS GRANT TOWARD REPLACEMENT OF PASSAIC RIVER BRIDGE IN N.J.: New Jersey has granted Conrail $9.36-million toward a $29.46-million replacement of the railroad's 120-year-old Point-No-Point bridge spanning the Passaic River in Newark. The grant is one of ten by the state totaling $29-million toward projects in 11 counties to various railroads for infrastructure upgrades and repairs. [Progressive Railroading, 2-11-21]
AMERICAN TRACK ACQUIRES DIRTWORKS RAIL OF THE CAROLINAS: American Track has acquired Dirtworks Rail of the Carolinas. Formed in 2016, American Track has continued to grow through acquisitions, and now operates in nine U.S. locations. [Progressive Railroading, 2-11-21]
FEDERAL WAY LINK LIGHT-RAIL PROJECT ADVANCES: The design-build contract for Sound Transit's Federal Way Link light-rail extension is more than 25 percent complete, with final design scheduled to be completed by midyear. Progress includes completing 30 of 121 drilled shafts for constructing elevated guideway and station facilities, and completion of a bypass route of state route 99 in SeaTac for a bridge spanning the roadway. [Progressive Railroading, 2-11-21]
D.C. METRO LOOKS TO BOND SALE FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS: A federal bailout kept the Washington DC Metro from a disaster, but more is needed to avoid another one. The agency is looking to borrow $360-million through bond sales toward its capital project program, including work on bridges and other infrastructure. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-11-21]
TEXAS CENTRAL 'READY' TO BUILD HIGH-SPEED RAIL SYSTEM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE: Texas Central is the company undertaking the development, design, construction, finance and operation of the nw high-speed passenger train line to connect the fourth and fifth largest economies in the country. It has control of over 600 parcels of land neeeded for the project, and control of the three station sites in Dallas, Brazos Vally and Houston. Texas Central is ready to build and will proced to construction as soon as possible to contribute to the nation's COVID-19 recovery. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-11-21]
REDEVELOPMENT OF NEW DELHI RAIL STATION PLANNED: India's Rail Land Development Authority has launched a request for qualification for a $680-million redevelopment of the New Delhi Railway Station. The existing structure serves 430,000 passengers and 400 trains a day, but has only two entrances and limited connections with other modes of travel. A new dome-shaped terminal will be built to replace the current station, with multiple arrival and departure entrances. [International Railway Journal, 2-11-21]
XULIAN HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINE OPENS: The 115-mile Xulian high-speed rail line between Lianyungang and Xuzhou in eastern China was opened for revenue service on Febr. 8. This complete the 2,126-mile Lianyungang-Urumqi corridor, which began being built in 2017. China Railway is initially operating seven trains each way per day between Lianyungang and Xuzhou, running at a maximum speed of 186 MPH. There are three intermediate stations, plus a fourth which has not yet opened. [Railway Gazette, 2-11-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 495,815 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending Febr. 6, 2021, up 2.2 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were down 2.5 percent, and intermodal was up 6.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-10-21]
TRINITY TO CLOSE RAILCAR PLANT IN VIDOR, TEXAS: Trinity Industries will permanently close its plant in Vidor, Texas, laying off 59 workers by April 30. The closure is due to declining demand for railcars and maintenance services, the company said. Trinity employees more than 11,000 people in North America. [Freight Waves, 2-10-21]
NEW PLAN FORWARD FOR CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL: The California High-Speed Rail Authority has issued a revised draft plan affirming the development of the electrified Merced-Fresno-Bakerfield interim service line, while advancing evironmental reviews and current investments in infrastructure projects. It also lays out the challenges of the pandemic, and how the agency is overcoming them. Due to those challenges, the agency needs more time to complete the work. [Railway Age, 2-10-21]
UNION PACIFIC'S PLAN TO CUT GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS GETS APPROVAL: Union Pacific has gotten approval from the Science Based Targets initiative for the company's planned targets to reduce absolute scope 1 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions from its operations 26 percent by 2030, against a 2018 baseline. [Union Pacific, 2-10-21]
CANADIAN CRUDE-BY-RAIL STAGES COMEBACK: As Canadian oilsands production has rebounded, even climbed above pre-pandemic levels, crude-by-rail shipments have increased. While the Canadian oil industry grapples with the demise of the Keystone-XL project, it is facing the immediate issue of how to get oil into U.S. markets. Rail has acted in the past as a safety valve for the industry, allowing more product to move when pipelines were full, but it comes with higher transportation costs. As Canadian oil production gets back on track, rail will be needed - until more pipelines arrive on the scene. [Calgary Herald, 2-10-21]
SIEMENS EXPANDS WITH NEW FACILITY IN SACRAMENTO: Siemens Mobility is expanding its footprint in Sacramento by opening a new 60,000-square-foot plant dedicated to its rail service, maintenance and repair operations. Located in McClellan Park, it will serve as U.S. Customer Services headquarters and West Coast logistics hub. One of the first projects will be to modernize 32 light-rail vehicles for Calgary Transit. Siemens is also partnering with Sacramento to refurbish 21 light-rail vehicles. [Progressive Railroading, 2-9-21]
SIEMENS CHARGER LOCOMOTIVES, BOMBARDIER CARS ADDED TO COASTER SERVICE: California's North County Transit District has introduced five new Siemens Charger locomotives and several renovated Bombardier coach and cab cars into Coaster service between Oceanside and downtown San Diego. The cars feature a new color scheme along with interior upgrades. [Railway Age, 2-9-21]
UPGRADED FARE SYSTEM COMING TO LIRR, METRO-NORTH: Cubic Transportation Systems' business division has been awarded a contract option to upgrade the legacy fare-payment system to a new account-based contactless system for Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. [Progressive Railroading, 2-9-21]
BNSF GETS PATENT FOR 'VIRTUAL TRACK BLOCK' SYSTEM: BNSF has received a patent for a virtual track block system which would divide existing fixed-length physical track blocks into multiple virtual blocks. Train-spacing would be reduced and would be based on train braking capabilities, rather than the typical two-mile length of a fixed signal block. [Trains Magazine, 2-9-21]
WESTERN MARYLAND SCENIC R.R. ORDERED TO REPLACE 50,000 TIES: The Federal Railroad Administration is ordering the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to replace 50,000 ties on its line between Cumberland and Frostburg, Md., before the railroad will be allowed to resume operations. The cost is expected to be about $2-million, according to the railroad. The affected ties are about 50 years old. The railroad has been shut down by the pandemic, and it says it does not currently have the funds to replace that many ties. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-8-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Fifty-three percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending Febr. 7, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 20 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 2-8-21]
METRO PORTS ACQUIRES 2ND TIER-4 LOCOMOTIVE: Metro Ports, a stevedoring services provider, has purchased a second Tier-4 locomotive for its Pier G operations at the Port of Long Beach, California. [Progressive Railroading, 2-8-21]
CP SETS ANOTHER JANUARY GRAIN RECORD: Canadian Pacific moved 2.22 million metric tons of Canadian grain and grain products in January 2021, or 6 percent more than the previous January record set last year. [Railway Age, 2-8-21]
AMTRAK PASSENGER ARRESTED IN BOMB THREAT: An Amtrak passenger aboard the eastbound California Zephyr was arrested Febr. 7 in Salt Lake City after police say he made a bomb threat. His threat was made in a note to the conductor prior to the train arriving, and no bomb was found. [Deseret News, 2-8-21]
CSX TO LOWER TUNNEL TRACK IN PHILADELPHIA AREA TO ALLOW DOUBLE-STACKS: CSX reports it is on course for a plan to allow double-stack containers and multi-level auto rack cars through Boone Tunnel in the Philadelphia area. It is along the I-95 route between Baltimore and Philadelphia, and construction is to begin in 2022. In January, the Pennsylvania Transportion Commission said it had given $8.4-million toward the project, and CSX had been awarded $14.4-million in 2020. [Freight Waves, 2-8-21]
GEORGE H.W. BUSH LOCOMOTIVE TO BE DONATED TO PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM: Union Pacific locomotive 4141, which led the funeral train of former President H.W. Bush in 2018 from Houston to College Station, Texas, is being donated to his presidential library and museum at Texas A&M University. [KFYO, 2-5-21]
TEXAS PORT GETS FEDERAL GRANT FOR RAIL EXPANSION: The Port of Victoria in southeast Texas is the recipient of a $6-million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for a proposed rail expansion project of a 1.9-mile rail loop and 2000-foot ladder track at the port's north industrial site, served by both Union Pacific and BNSF. [Railway Age, 2-5-21]
COURT RULES UNION PACIFIC IS NO LONGER BOUND BY 1872 CONTRACT WITH PALESTINE, TEXAS: A federal judge has ruled that Union Pacific is no longer bound to a 149-year-old contract with the city of Palestine and Anderson County, Texas. In the original 1872 contract, the railroad agreed to establish a rail hub in Palestine, and retain a certain number of employees. In return, the city agreed to raise bonds for the railroad. The court stated that state law may be preempted if it has the effect of unreasonably burdening or interfering with rail transportation, and that federal law would take precedence over state law in this instance. [KFYO, 2-5-21]
PACIFIC HARBOR LINE NAMES MONTE STOKES CHIEF ENGINEER: Monte Stokes has been appointed chief engineer of the 75-mile Pacific Harbor Line serving the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. He served most recently at Amtrak, which he joined in 2017. His career also included engineering posts at CSX. [Railway Age, 2-5-21]
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY BUTTIGIEG MEETS WITH RAIL WORKERS AT D.C. UNION STATION: U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with Amtrak and transit officials and front-line rail workers Febr. 5 at Washington DC Union Station. He discussed the importance of the federal mask requirements for public transportation employees and users, and underscored that dependable public transit systems are critical for a robust and equitable economy recovery. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-5-21]
TRANSIT COALITION CALLS ON CONGRESS FOR MORE COVID RELIEF: A coalition of 22 transit agencies is calling upon Congress to provide an additional $39.3-billion in relief to address COVID-19-related deficits and prevent further service cuts and delays to capital projects. [Railway Age, 2-5-21]
PERSON STRUCK, KILLED BY TRAIN IN N.C.: A pedestrian was struck and killed by a train in High Point, N.C., early Febr. 5, according to Norfolk Southern. [Fox-8 News, 2-5-21]
GREENBRIER FORGES JOINT RAIL CAR LEASING VENTURE WITH LONGWOOD: Oregon-based rail car manufacturer Greenbrier is forming a joint venture with transportation asset management firm Longwood Group to lease rail cars produced by Greenbrier. The venture will be named GBX Leasing. [Freight Waves, 2-5-21]
WATCO BEGINS OPERATIONS OF DUTCHTOWN SOUTHERN R.R. IN LOUISIANA: Watco has launched the Dutchtown Southern Railroad, the holding company's 44th U.S. short line and its fifth in Louisiana. Dutchtown Southern operates 20 miles of track in Geismar, about 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, serving eight customers and interchanging with CN. [Progressive Railroading, 2-4-21]
UNION PACIFIC CREATES CONTROLLED AVALANCHE AT DONNER PASS: Union Pacific engineers at California's Donner Pass have employed the 'Avalauncher,' which releases two pounds of explosives to create a controlled avalanche. The intent is to safely engage the avalanche before it might occur with hazardous consequences later. Donner Pass receives about 34 feet of snowfall annually, causing rail track issues. [Progressive Railroading, 2-4-21]
TRINITY ACQUIRES BAY WORX RAIL: Trinity Maintenance Services has acquired Bay Worx Rail, including its cleaning technology systems and a facility in south Texas. The technology uses advanced robotics to improve the safety and efficiency of rail car cleaning processes. [Progressive Railroading, 2-4-21]
NEVADA ADVANCING RAIL BLUEPRINT: The Nevada Dept. of Transportation is finalizing the state's freight and passenger rail plan to set recommendations on enhancing rail service and be the basis for federal and state investments. Goals include exploring how to leverage private-sector passenger rail initiatives, expand Amtrak service, provide a structure for ongoing rail project support, and improve the safety of freight rail service. The plan outlines 80 projects to improve and integrate rail service through local and private-sector investment in eight regions of the state. [Railway Age, 2-4-21]
JANUARY 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 2,103,523 carloads and intermodal units in January 2021, up 5.3 percent from the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were down 2.1 percent, and intermodal was up 12.1 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-3-21]
MONTANA RAIL ADVOCATES LOOK SOUTHWARD: An effort to restore passenger rail service through southern Montana is gaining steam, but proponents believe its success will depend on Congress creating a multi-state commission to get the trains rolling again. A dozen communities along the former route of the North Coast Hiawatha train have banded together to form the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority. While the tracks the original train used are still in place, the section east of Butte has been out of service for decades, and much of the rest in the state is now operated by regional carrier Montana Rail Link. Track would need to be upgraded and stations restored or build anew. Amtrak, in 2009, estimated it would cost $1-billion to relaunch the service, but noted that that amount was subject to significant uncertainty. [Montana Free Press, 2-3-21]
CN SETS NEW GRAIN-HAULING RECORD: Canadian National set a new grain-hauling record for the 11th consecutive month by shipping more than 2.95-million metric tons of Canadian grain and processed grain products via carload in January 2021. [Progressive Railroading, 2-3-21]
GRANT AWARDED TO STOCKTON TERMINAL & EASTERN R.R. FOR TRACK PROJECT: Stockton Terminal & Eastern Railroad has been awarded a $1.8-million grant from the California Transportation Commission toward replacement and repair of more than four miles of track in Stockton, California. [Progressive Railroading, 2-3-21]
RAILROAD TRACKS FROM FIRST WORLD WAR ERA REAPPEAR ON N.J. BEACH: Long-dormant tracks that had been used for the movement of munitions and weapons during the first World War have reappeared in the sands of Sunset Beach in Higbee Beach Wildlife Management area in Cape May, N.J. The tracks were built by Cape May Sand Company for mining operations that began in 1905. The operation stopped some 31 years later. [Railway Track & Structures, 2-3-21]
CANADIAN PACIFIC LOOKING TO HIRE CONDUCTORS: Canadian Pacific Railway/DM&E is looking to hire certified conductors to work out of Mason City, Marquette, Davenport and Ottumwa, Iowa; Savannah, Illinois; and Kansas City, Missouri. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-3-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN CALIFORNIA, HOMES EVACUATED: Thirty-one cars of a Union Pacific train derailed and fell onto their sides late Febr. 1 in El Centro, California. About 50 homes were evacuated as a precaution. No injuries to civilians or first-responders were reported. [Desert Review, 2-2-21]
ONE INJURED AS NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAIN, FRONT-END LOADER COLLIDE IN PA.: A Norfolk Southern employee working as the operator of a front-end loader was hurt after a Norfolk Southern train and the loader collided late Febr. 2 in Bethlehem, Pa. [WFMZ, 2-2-21]
AMTRAK PAYING EMPLOYEES TO TAKE COVID-19 VACCINE: Amtrak has been revealed to offer extra payments and benefits to employees who will avail of the COVID-19 vaccine. [EconoTimes, 2-2-21]
PETE BUTTIGIEG CONFIRMED AS U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: The U.S. Senate has confirmed Pete Buttigieg as the next Secretary of Transportation. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-2-21]
CHICAGO TRANSIT TAKES DELIVERY OF 10 NEW RAIL CARS: Chicago Transit has taken delivery of 10 of the new 7000-series rail cars, part of an 840-car order which will eventually replace about half of the agency's current fleet. [Progressive Railroading, 2-1-21]
RONALD BATRY JOINS BOARD OF R.J. CORMAN RAILROAD GROUP: Ronald Batry, most recently Federal Railroad Administrator and one-time president and CEO of Conrail, has been appointed to the board of R.J. Corman Railroad Group. [Progressive Railroading, 2-1-21]
JANUARY 2021 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Fifty-nine percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in January 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was 28 minutes late, and the average arrival of just those trains that were behind scheduled was one hour and nine minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 2-1-21]
BLET, PAN AM RAILWAYS RATIFY AGREEMENT: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen have ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with Pan Am Railways covering wage increases for 81 members. [Progressive Railroading, 2-1-121]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN WORKED WITH 86 NEW OR EXPANDING ON-LINE CUSTOMERS IN 2020: Norfolk Southern worked with 86 businesses to open new or expanded rail-served facilities along its network in 2020, expected to generate more than 54,300 carloads annually, the railroad said. [Railway Age, 2-1-21]
UNION PACIFIC WORKER DIES IN ACCIDENT IN ARIZONA: A Union Pacific engineering employee died after being struck by a rail tamper Jan. 31 while on the job in southern Arizona. [Star-Standard, 2-1-21]
TRAIN COLLIDES WITH TRUCK IN ONTARIO, DERAILS: Nobody was injured when a train, after leaving Goderich, Ontario, Febr. 1, and ascending an incline, ended up rolling backward at a high rate of speed, collided with a truck and derailed. The incident occurred on a line owned by Genesee & Wyoming. [CBC, 2-1-21]
CHICAGO TRANSIT UNVEILS DESIGNS FOR FOUR RED LINE STATIONS: Designs have been unveiled for four Chicago Transit Red line stations that will be reconstructed as part of the agency's Red and Purple line modernizations Phase One project. Rebuilt will be Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations. The project is the first part of a plan to rebuild Red and Purple lines between Linden and Belmont. [Progressive Railroading, 2-1-21]
AMTRAK EXPLORING PLAN TO EXPAND SERVICE IN OHIO: Amtrak is developing what it is calling a 'visionary plan' to expand rail service that could link the Ohio cities of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Known as the '3C' route, it would be complex to launch as there is no existing passenger service to build upon. Currently only Cleveland and Cincinnati are served by Amtrak, but not directly between the two. [Mass Transit Magazine, 2-1-21]
VIA RAIL, UNIFOR UNION REACH AGREEMENT: VIA Rail and the Unifor Union have announced a new agreement in principle concerning the renewal of a collective contract for more than 2,400 workers. It covers maintenance workers, onboard service personnel, chefs, sales agents and customer service personnel, subject to membership ratification. [Canadian Press, 1-30-21]
ALSTOM COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION: Alstom has completed it acquisition of Bombardier Transportation. The acquisition will strengthen its leadership in the growing sustainable mobility market, Alstom said. [Progressive Railroading, 1-29-21]
TRESPASSING ENFORCEMENT BEING ADVANCED ALONG CALIFORNIA'S COASTER ROUTE: The North County Transit District will step up transpassing education and enforcement along the San Diego coastal rail corridor in advance of plans to place five new, quieter Siemens Charger locomotives into revenue service on Febr. 8. Deputies will increase their presence between Oceanside and San Diego. [Progressive Railroading, 1-29-21]
MAN CHARGED IN DERAILING A TRAIN IN N.M.: A 27-year-old man has been charged with 'knowingly derailing a train' early Dec. 2, 2020, in Vado, N.M. The individual allegedly placed materials on a track causing a BNSF train to derail, injuring the conductor and engineer, and causing damage to the railroad and surrounding property. [U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1-29-21]
RUSSIAN RAILWAYS TO STOP BUYING DIESEL-ONLY LOCOMOTIVES AFTER 2025: Only locomotives powered by electricity, natural gas or other alternative energy sources will be purhased by Russia's national railway RZD after 2025. [Railway Gazette, 1-29-21]
CP REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific reported higher fourth-quarter 2020 profit on lower revenue compared with the same quarter last year. Net income of $802-million (C) compared with $664-million, and diluted earnings per share jumped 23 percent to $5.95 from $4.82, while adjusted diluted EPA rose 6 percent to $5.06. Revenue was down 3 percent to $2.01-billion from $2.07-billion, and operating expenses decrased 8 percent to $1.08-billion. [Progressive Railroading, 1-28-21]
NEW S.F. TRANSBAY RAIL CROSSING PROPOSED: Bay Area Rapid Transit and Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority have proposed a plan to build a second transbay rail crossing between Oakland and San Francisco to increase capacity and potentially provide a one-seat journey between Sacramento and San Francisco. [Progressive Railroading, 1-28-21]
MAJOR VIADUCT NOW COMPLETE ON CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL ROUTE: The Graces Highway Viaduct north of Wasco in Kern County has been completed. It will carry California High-Speed Rail trains over the highway, the second structure completed in Package 4, and the first finished this year. It is 102 feet in length. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-28-21]
TRANSIT GROUP CALLS FOR ACCELERATING ATLANTA BELTLINE PROJECT: Beltline Rail Now, a group of transit advocates, has unveiled a white paper outlining a strategy for full construction of the 22-mile light-rail and trail loop as part of the Atlanta Beltline. The group estimates the project would cost $2.5-billion. [Progressive Railroading, 1-28-21]
AUDIT RECOMMENDS STEPS TO ASSURE SAFETY OF D.C. METRO BRIDGES: An audit by the Washington DC Metrorail Safety Commission has revealed that Metro does not know exactly how much weight its elevated structures can carry, and that the agency needs to replace a type of bearing in 10 of its bridges. The agency also needs to make sure inspectors have proper training and credentials. The commission has recommended steps to improve safety on 148 elevated structures. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-28-21]
DONALD PAYNE ELECTED TO CHAIR HOUSE R.R. SUBCOMMITTEE: U.S. Representative Donald Payne Jr (D-NJ) has been elected chair of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines & Hazardous Materials. [Progressive Railroading, 1-28-21]
LEASE OF 26 METRA EMU'S APPROVED FOR SOUTH SHORE LINE: The board of Northern Indiana Commuer Transportation District has approved the lease of 26 bi-level electric multiple units from Metra to boost capacity on the South Shore line as it advances expansion projects. [Railway Age, 1-28-21]
TRAIN DERAILS ALONG ST. JOHN RIVER IN CANADA: Twenty cars of a Canadian National freight train derailed late Jan. 26 in Saint-Hilaire, just west of Edmundston, N.B., along the St. John River. There were no injuries, but the company began to burn off the contents of three cars containing propane. [CBC, 1-28-21]
GATX REPORTS 4-Q RESULTS: Despite higher revenue and lower expenses in the fourth-quarter, net profit for GATX was down from a year ago on lower affiliate income related to a joint venture with Rolls-Royce and loss of income from discontinued operations. Fourth-quarter 2020 net income was $17.8-million, compared with $56.6-million in the same quarter last year. Expenses were $231.3-million, compared with $239-million. [Freight Waves, 1-28-21]
FRANCE TO RESTART WORK ON RAIL EXPRESS TO DEGAULLE AIRPORT: The French transport ministry will restart work on the CDG Express project to build a dedicated rail link from Paris to Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport. Work had stopped late last year. [Intenational Railway Journal, 1-28-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending January 23. 2021, was 529.030 carloads and intermodal units, up 9 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were down 0.7 percent, and intermodal was up 17.8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-27-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN FOCUSING ON LONGER, HEAVIER TRAINS: Norfolk Southern has begun to focus more on lengthening trains and increase train weights as a way to contain costs and increase network productivity, according to the company's fourth-quarter earnings call. The railroad's first steps in its deployment of precision scheduled railroading were aimed at modifying infrastructure and removing excess assets. NS rationalized six hump yards, shed locomotives and redesigned its southern operations around Atlanta ahead of the 2020 peak season to improve network flow. Train lengths and weights increased 10 percent over the fourth-quarter of last year, while fuel efficiency rose 3 percent. [Freight Waves, 1-27-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHEN REPORTS 2020 EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern reported 2020 railway operating revenues of $9.8-billion, down 13 percent compared with 2019, as volume was down 12 percent year-over-year. Railway operating expenses of $6.8-billion decreased $520-million, or 7 percent compared with last year. Lower fuel costs, compensation and benefits, purchased services and material costs were partially offset by a $385-million non-cash locomotive rationalization charge as well as a $99-million non-cash impairment charge related to an equity-method investment. Adjusted operating ratio improved to 64.4 percent. [Norfolk Southern, 1-27-21]
BLET, BOMBARDIER REACH TENTATIVE PACT WITH MARC ENGINEERS: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen have reached a tentative agreement with Bombardier Transportation Services for member engineers working for the Maryland Area Regional Commuter service. The agreement covers rates of pay, benefits and work rules for 15 members. [Progressive Railroading, 1-27-21]
METRO-NORTH TO IMPROVE NINE HARLEM LINE GRADE CROSSINGS: Metro-North will spend a $19.7-million federal grant to improve nine grade crossings on the Harlem commuter rail line in Westchester, Dutchess and Putnam counties by upgrading or replacing warning systems and reconstructing the crossings' structures and approaches currently in place. [Progressive Railroading, 1-27-21]
AMTRAK OUTLINES ITS TOP PRIORITIES TO CONGRESS: Amtrak's CEO has written an open letter to Congress detailing the company's top five priorities: sufficient funding, establish intercity passenger rail trust fund, access to railroads for new service and adding trains, enforcement on host railroads giving priority to passenger trains, and new routes. [Global Railway Review, 1-27-21]
CP TRAIN DERAILS IN B.C., KNOCKS OUT POWER TO TOWN: A Canadian Pacific grain train derailed early Jan. 26 west of Field, B.C., knocking out power to the town. There were no injuries. [CBC News, 1-26-21]
OMNITRAX NAMES DEAN PIACENTE CEO: OmniTRAX has announced that Dean Piacente will become the company's chief executive officer on Febr. 1. He has more than 20 years of tenure as a CSX commercial executive. He will succeed Kevin Shuba, who is taking on a new role with OmniTRAX parent, the Broe Group. [Progressive Railroading, 1-26-21]
GUIDELINES ISSUED FOR TRAIL-USE OF BISMARCK-MANDAN RAIL BRIDGE: The future of the Bismarck-Mandan rail bridge spanning the Missouri River between Bismarck and Mandan, N.D., is more clear now that the Coast Guard, BNSF and Friends of the Rail Bridge have come to an agreement. BNSF wants to demolish the existing bridge and build a new one in its place, but the Friends of the Rail Bridge group wants the existing bridge to be used as a walking-biking trail. The Coast Guard has jurisdiction, and it has outlined certain steps to be executed. If the old bridge remains and a new one is built, it could raise the flood plain in the area. The Friends group needs to make certain the new bridge does not raise the flood plain, or make other adjustments so it does not happen. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-26-21]
GO TRANSIT TO BEGIN UPGRADES TO MALTON STATION: Ontario's GO Transit will begin a construction project at the Malton GO station to improve communication and safety features. Crews will widen the island platform to allow trains to stop on the north side, and make it accesible on both sides. [Progressive Railroading, 1-26-21]
ALSTOM ACQUIRES B&C TRANSIT: Alstom has acquired B&C Transit, an engineering design and construction firm specializing in the passenger rail sector. [Progressive Railroading, 1-26-21]
CN REPORTS 2020 RESULTS: Candian National reported $13.82-billion (C) in 2020 revenues, down about 7 percent from the previous year. Diluted earnings per share of $5.00 and adjusted diluted earnings per share of $5.31 were down 14 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Operating ratio of 65.4 percent and adjusted operating ratio of 61.9 percent increased 2.9 and 0.2 points, respectively. Adjused return on invested capitl of 13.4 percent was a decrease of 1.7 points. [CN, 1-26-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Fifty-eight percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending January 24, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived 57 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 1-25-21]
AMTRAK TO ADVANCE PROJECT AT NEW CARROLLTON STATION TO SUPPORT ACELA SERVICE: Amtrak is accepting letters of interest from contractors for construction at the New Carrollton, Md., train station. The project is needed to support higher frequency Acela service by expanding the routing options. [Progressive Railroading, 1-25-21]
NTSB ISSUES REPORT ON FATAL OCT. 2018 UNION PACIFIC COLLISION IN WYOMING: The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that an airbrake failure caused the fatal Oct. 4, 2018, collision between two Union Pacific trains in Graite Canyon, Wyoming. The collision occurred when the air brakes on the eastbound train failed while dscending a hill. An air flow restriction in the brake pipe caused the brake system to fail, and the end-of-train device failed to respond to an emergency brake command. The striking train collided with the rear of a standing train at about 55 MPH, killing the engineer and conductor of the striking train. [NTSB, 1-25-21]
AMTRAK TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE, SUPPORT TO ADDING TRAIN ACROSS SOUTHERN MONTANA: Amtrak will provide guidance and support to the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority as it works to restore service across the southern tier of Montana. The authority will need to choose the type of service it is seeking and where the route would run. That includes connections. Amtrak's former North Coast Hiawtha ran through Billings, Bozeman and Missoula up until 1979, terminating in Sandpoint, Idaho, where it connected with the Empire Builder. The authority is looking to restore that route, though other connections could be made, including a route between Salt Lake City and Butte, and between Denver and Billings. [Missoula Current, 1-25-21]
CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN CINCINNATI, BLOCKING STREET: Seven cars of a remote-controlled CSX train derailed on a Cincinnati railroad bridge Jan. 24, blocking a street, bringing down power lines, and leaking about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel. A dam was activated to stop the leaked fuel from reaching the Ohio River. No injuries were reported. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-25-21]
WABTEC EQUIPPING SINGAPORE RAPID-TRANSIT: Hyundai Rotem has selected Wabtec braking, doors and air-conditioning systems for the 62 automated train sets that it is supplying under contract with Singapore Land Transportation Authority. The three-car train sets will operate on Singapore's new 15-mile, 24-station Jurong Region rapid-transit line scheduled for opening in 2026. [Railway Age, 1-25-21]
FIRST HIGH-SPEED TRAINS ARRIVE IN GREECE: Alstom's first upgraded ETR470 Pendolino has arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece. It is the country's first high-speed train. Prior to the ETR470 train being deployed in Greece, trains of that class operated in Italy under the name 'Frecciabianca.' [Railway News, 1-25-21]
RUPTURED TRAIN FUEL TANK CAUSES SPILL IN NASHVILLE: A train's fuel tank ruptured and spilled about 1,500 gallons at Radnor Yard in Nashville Jan. 24, CSX said. Nashville fire and other units contained the spill. [KTVF, 1-24-21]
MBTA HALTS WEEKEND SERVICE ON SEVEN LINES: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has halted weekend service on seven of its rail lines. The Fitchburg, Franklin, Greenbush, Haverhill, Kingston/Plymouth, Lowell and Needham lines no longer have weekend service as of Jan. 23. The agency said the service was stopped because of low ridership during the pandemic. [WHDH, 1-23-21]
FOUR HAVE MINOR INJURIES AS A CTA TRAIN PICKS SWITCH: Four people had minor injuries after a Chicago Blue line train had a 'switching error' early Jan. 23 near Monrose avenue. About 25 passengers were evacuated from the train. The lead wheels of the train ended up in the wrong direction at a switch, but the train did not actually derail, officials said. [ABC-7 Chicago, 1-23-21]
E. JAPAN RWY TO WITHDRAW SERIES E4 TRAINS FROM JOETSU SHINKANSEN: East Japan Railway has announced that it will withdraw its Series E4 double-deck trains from services on the Joetsu Shinkansen later this year. [Railway Gazette, 1-23-21]
KCS REPORTS 4-Q RESULTS: Kansas City Southern reported fourth-quarter 2020 revenue declined 5 percent to $693.4-million from $729.5-million in the same period last year. The company attributes the decrease principally to lower volumes related to service disruptions in Mexico, lower fuel surcharge, and fluctations in foreign currency. Operating income was $262.3-million from $236-million. Operating ratio was 62.2 percent. [Progressive Railroading, 1-22-21]
L.A.-COACHELLA VALLEY RAIL PROPOSAL ADVANCED: The Riverside County Transportation Authority in California is nearing completion of an environmental impact report and service development plan for a twice-daily passenger rail service between Los Angeles and Coachella Valley. [Progressive Railroading, 1-22-21]
MARTIN OBERMAN NAMED TO CHAIR STB: Martin J. Oberman was designated chairman of the Surface Transportion Board on Jan. 21. He had been vice-chairman of the board since Jan. 6, 2020. [Railway Age, 1-22-21]
ALTON & SOUTHERN TRAIN DERAILS IN ILLINOIS, BLOCKING HIGHWAY: Six cars of an Alton & Southern Railway train derailed late Jan 21 in Fairmont City, Illinois, blocking traffic on Highway 3. About 350 feet of track was damaged. No injuries were reported. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-22-21]
RAIL LABOR SAYS NO CARRIER PROPOSALS WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION: The rail unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition involved in the current round of national negotiations said that the carriers had 'not made any proposals worthy of consideration' by the membership. The parties will continue to meet. [Railway Age, 12-22-21]
CSX REPORTS 4-Q RESULTS: CSX reported fourth-quarter 2020 net earnings of $760-million or 99 cents per share. Results include a charge of $48-million related to early retirement of debt. Operating ratio of 57.0 percent set a company fourth-quarter record. Operating income of $1.22-billion compared to $1.15-billion in the same period last year. [CSX, 1-21-21]
BART BEGINS INTERLOCKING REPLACEMENT AT RICHMOND STATION: Bay Area Rapid Transit has begun a project to replace the interlocking at the agency's Richmond station. BART has already replaced interlockings at five other stations. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-21-21]
ADDITIONAL APPOINTMENTS MADE TO U.S. DOT: The Biden administration has appointed 39 key members of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, with more to come. Among them are Amit Bose, deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Admnistration, and Nuria Fernandez, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. Both have held the positions previously. [Railway Age, 1-21-21]
UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 2020 EARNINGS: Union Pacific reported 2020 net income of $5.3-billion or $7.88 per diluted share, compared to $5.9-billion or $8.19 per diluted share in 2019. Adjusted 2020 net income of $5.6-billion excluded the effects of a $278-million pre-tax, non-cash impairment charge. Operating revenue was $19.5-billion compared to $21.7-billion in 2019. Operating income was $7.8-billion. The company's operating ratio, when adjusted for the impairment charge, was a best ever 58.5 percent. [Union Pacific, 1-21-21]
WORK ADVANCES ON STEAM LOCOMOTIVE TO RUN AGAIN IN NASHVILLE: Every day gets another day closer to a gigantic steam engine running once again in Nashville. The steam engine that sat in Nashville's Centennial Park for many years has been undergoing restoration. If all goes well, it should be ready for service to Lebnon, Watertown, and maybe Cookeville in two years. [WSMV, 1-21-21]
GTS RAIL ORDERS THREE MORE TRAXX DC3.494 LOCOMOTIVES: Italian intermodal freight operator GTS Rail has ordered three more Traxx DC3 E.494 locomotives from Bombardier Transportation. The order will increase the operator's fleet to 20 units. [Progressive Railroading, 1-21-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending Jan. 16, 2021, was 528,547 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.8 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were down 2 percent, and intermodal was up 12.8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-20-21]
KCS PARTNERS IN DEVELOPMENT OF LOGISTICS PARK IN TEXAS: Kansas City Southern has entered into a joint agreement with NorthPoint Development for a master-planned logistics park in Wylie, Texas, adjacent to the company's David L. Starling Wylie Intermodal Terminal. The new park offers 2.4 million square feet of potential building capacity for traditional warehousing and distribution. [Kansas City Southern, 1-20-21]
MBTA GETTING FEDERAL GRANT TOWARD NORTH WILMINGTON STATION: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will receive a $1-million grant toward improvements to the North Wilmington station on the Haverhill commuter rail line. The grant will enable the agency to relocate the platform along an area of single track adjacent to Route 62, and eliminate trains from blocking a crossing while doing station work. [Progressive Railroading, 1-20-21]
CLASS I RAIL EMPLOYMENT UP IN DECEMBER FROM PREVIOUS MONTH: U.S. Class I railroads employed 117,770 people in mid-December 2020, up 2.44 percent from mid-November, but down 10.43 percent compared with the same period in 2019, according to data from the Surface Transportation Board. [Progressive Railroading, 1-20-21]
BNSF TO ADD MORE SECOND-TRACK, ADVANCE BRIDGE PROJECT: BNSF will continue a multi-year effort to add several segments of a new double-track in eastern Kansas, resulting in 50 more miles of track to its Transcon line. The company will also continue a multi-year bridge project near Sandpoint, Idaho. These projects are part of the company's $2.99-billion capital plan for 2021, the largest part going toward replacing and maintaining its core network and related assets. [Railway Age, 1-20-21]
POLLY TROTTENBERG SELECTED AS DEPUTY U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: President-Elect Biden has picked Polly Trottenberg to serve as deputy U.S. transportation secretary. Previously, she served for seven years as New York City's transportation commissioner, and earlier was under secretary for policy at the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. [Progressive Railroading, 1-19-21]
FEDS ISSUE SPECIFICATIONS TO HYPERLOOP STANDARDS: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has released 'Hyperloop Standards Desk Review,' a document that provides a preliminary mapping of existing standards and regulations to specific hyperloop systems components. The document serves to assess the status of hyperloop standard development; begin a dialogue for future standardization; and identify stakeholder prespectives on the applicability of existing standards to domestic testing and deployment. [Progressive Railroading, 1-19-21]
RAILCOOP PLANS FRENCH FREIGHT LAUNCH THIS YEAR: Startup open access operator Railcoop aims to launch its first freight rail services later this year. If the plans come to fruition, Railcoop would follow up in 2022 with the launch of intercity passenger services on the Bordeaux-Lyon via Perigueux route. [Railway Gazette, 1-19-21]
STADLER TO SUPPLY 30 TRI-MODE LOCOMOTIVES FOR SERVICE IN U.K.: Stadler has entered into a contract with Rail Operations (UK) to supply 30 Class 93 tri-mode locomotives for freight service, and (potentially) passenger service in the United Kingdom. Ten of the locomotives are due for delivery in early 2023. [Progressive Railroading, 1-19-21]
GREENBRIER REPORTS 1-Q FY-2021 RESULTS: The Greebrier Cos. Inc. reported fiscal first-quarter 2021 results, logging $403-million in revenue, down from $636.4-million in the fourth-quarter 2020. The decrease was attributed to 45 percent fewer deliveries due to weak demand. [Progressive Railroading, 1-19-21]
BRIGHTLINE ANTICIPATES 2-Q GROUNDBREAKING OF ITS LAS VEGAS RAIL LINE: Brightline's high-speed passenger rail project between Apple Valley and Las Vegas, which had been expected to break ground last year, now appears to be back on track following the breakup of its partnership with Virgin Trains USA. Brightline is preparing a revised financial plan that could see a second-quarter 2021 groundbreaking. [Victorville Daily Press, 1-19-21]
BOMBARDIER SIFANG TO SUPPLY 16 HIGH-SPEED RAIL CARS FOR CHINA: The China State Railway has awarded Bombardier Sifang Transportation a $46-million order for 16 new CR-400AF rail cars for the high-speed network. They will be configured into two train sets of eight cars apiece. [Progressive Railroading, 1-19-21]
SEPTA ADVANCING KING OF PRUSSIA RAIL EXTENSION: The Federal Transit Administration has issued a final environmental impact statement and record of decision permitting SEPTA to continue design and construction of its 3.5-mile, five-station King of Prussia rail extension of the Norrisville high-speed line. [Railway Age, 1-18-21]
PANEL TO EXPLORE EAU CLAIRE-TWIN CITIES PASSENGER RAIL: The city council of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has voted to form the Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission, an independent panel that would explore the development of a passenger rail service between Eau Claire and Minnesota's Twin Cities. The system would expand passenger rail service into western Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley along the I-94 corridor. [Progressive Railroading, 1-18-21]
MARTA TO REPLACE RAIL ON RED, GOLD LINES: The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority will invest about $225-million replacing rail between Lindbergh Center, Buckhead and Lenox stations on the Red and Gold lines. The project will require suspension of rail service between these points between Febr. 16 and 22. [Progressive Railroading, 1-18-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Fifty-eight percent of Antrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending January 17, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 11 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 1-18-21]
CSX TRAIN STRIKES BOULDER IN VA., DERAILS: A CSX train struck a boulder near the town of Clinchco, Va., in Dickenson County, early Jan. 15, causing two locomotives and seven cars to derail. There were no injuries, and no reports of leaks or spills. [Bristol Herald Courier, 1-16-21]
AMTRAK ISSUES D.C. TRAVEL ALERT: Due to the Presidential inauguration, special pedestrian and vehicle traffic patterns around Washington Union Station are in place, and will requrire extra time to get to and from the station. Additionally, there is no access to taxi or ride-share services, and Metro is operating adjusted service with no service at the station. The Metro staton at NOMA/Gallaudet, a short walk from Union Station, will remain open. Amtrak continues to operate service as scheduled, except that on Jan. 19 and 20 there will be no Northeast Regional service south of Washington, including all Virginia stations. The Carolinian will only operate between Raleigh and Charlotte. [Amtrak, 1-16-21]
N.Y. GOVERNOR PROPOSES PENN STATION RECONSTRUCTION: In his annual state-of-the-state address, New York governor Andrew Cuomo called for an infrastructure plan that includes a project to reconstruct Penn Station in Manhattan. He proposed that the state start on a comprehensive $16-billion project to reconstruct the existing station and add track capacity as part of developing the Empire Station Complex. By acquiring property south of the station, 40 percent more train capacity could be achieved, he said. [Progressive Railroading, 1-15-21]
MARC TO SUSPEND RAIL SERVICE FROM JAN. 17 UNTIL JAN. 21: The Maryland Transit Administration has decided to suspend all commuter train service beginning Sunday, January 17, through and including Wednesday, January 20. The agency expects to resume service Thursday, January 21. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-15-21]
SOUND TRANSIT AWARDS MAINTENANCE CONTRACT: Seattle's Sound Transit has awarded Advanced Rail Management a five-year contract for rail-grinding, polishing and engineering inspection services on the Link light-rail service. [Progressive Railroading, 1-15-21]
OPENING OF MINNESOTA S.W. LIGHT-RAIL LINE TO BE DELAYED: Minnesota's Southwest light-rail line has suffered a setback that will delay the opening that had been planned for 2023. Poor soil conditions at a tunnel construction site and the need of a stabilizing wall were not foreseen, and a protective wall will be needed to provide more separation of light-rail and freight trains. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-15-21]
UNION PACIFIC SUSPENDS SERVICE IN S.E. WYOMING DUE TO HIGH WINDS: High winds with gusts reaching 80-100 MPH have been impacting much of southeast Wyoming since Jan. 13. Until it is safe to resume service, Union Pacific trains are being held between North Platte, Nebraska, and Green River, Wyoming. [Union Pacific, 1-13-21]
VESSEL STRIKES RIGOLETS R.R. BRIDGE IN LOUISIANA: The Coast Guard is responding following a maritime accident involving the CSX Rigolets swing bridge near Slidell, Louisiana. A towing vessel reportedly hit the bridge, and it is stuck in the open position. [U.S. Coast Guard, 1-13-21]
METRA APPROVES PURCHASE OF UP TO 500 NEW RAIL CARS: The board of Chicago's Metra has approved buying up to 500 new rail cars from Alstom Transportation. An initial order is for 200 cars, with an option to buy 300 more. [Chicago Sun-Times, 1-13-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending Jan. 9, 2021, was 525,253 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were down 1.6 percent, and intermodal was up 10.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-13-21]
OMA ALGHABRA NAMED CANADA'S TRANSPORT MINISTER: Omar Alghabra has been named Canada's new transport minister, replacing Marc Garneau, who is now foreign affairs minister. [Progressive Railroading, 1-13-21]
R.R. CROSSING WORK MISCOMMUNICATION DISRUPTS TRAFFIC: Work at grade crossings caused traffic issues Jan. 11 after the company behind the maintenance failed to notify the proper city authorities. The contactor, hired by Norfolk Southern, blocked a portion of several grade crossings in Picayune, Alabama, so crews could replace rail. But a call was never made to city officials of the work to be done, and this resulted in angry commuters, disrupted school bus routes, and challenging emergency service response. The city intends to send the contractor a bill for the mix-up and costs involving police to redirect traffic. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-12-21]
CSX GETS PA. GRANT TOWARD TUNNEL REPLACEMENT: The Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation is granting CSX $8.4-million for a tunnel replacement project to permit routing of double-stack container and multi-level auto-rack traffic to and from the Port of Philadelphia. The grant is part of a $31.3-million rail investment by the state toward 26 rail projects. [Railway Age, 1-12-21]
READING & NORTHERN POSTS GROWTH IN CARLOADS, REVENUE IN 2020: Reading & Northern Railroad posted growth in carloads and revenue in 2020, despite the challenges of the pandemic. During the year, the company hauled over 34,000 carloads, and a near 4 percent increase in revenue compared with the previous year. [Progressive Railroading, 1-12-21]
CHICAGO TRANSIT ADVANCES BYPASS TRACK PROJECT: Chicago Transit Authority has begun construction of a bypass track structure over its Red and Purple lines. The contractor will install the straddle bent that connects the columns on either side of the bypass tracks and install girders that will form the backbone of the structure. Once completed, the bypass will allow Brown line trains to cross the Red and Purple lines just north of Belmont station. [Progressive Railroading, 1-12-21]
BNSF SUBMITS PLAN TO REDUCE GRIZZLY BEAR DEATHS ON MONTANA TRACKS: Eight grizzly bears were killed on railroads in northwest Montana in 2019, the most of any year on record. BNSF has published a plan intended to reduce such deaths. The railroad is pledging about $2-million over the next seven years toward more bear managers at Montana fish, wildlife and parks, and the Blackfeet Nation, along with funds for electric fencing, bear-proof waste containers, education and outreach. In exchange, the plan asks that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service issue a special permit to excuse the deaths of 18 bears over the same seven-year period, without penalty. Grizzlies are of a protected species. [Montana Public Radio, 1-12-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Sixty-three percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending January 10, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 11 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 1-11-21]
COLORADO PACIFIC OBJECTS TO UNION PACIFIC'S TENNESSEE PASS RAIL LINE DEAL: Colorado Pacific Railroad intends to object to a nw agreement between Union Pacific and Colorado, Midland & Pacific Railway that calls for CMP to operate the Tennessee Pass line between Canon City and Eagle, Colorado. Colorado Pacific had offered $10-million for the line, but the offer was rejected by both Union Pacific and the Surface Transportation Board. Meanwhile, in a separate dccision, the STB granted Union Pacific a protective order to shield from public view what the company claimed was proprietary information. Colorado Pacific takes issue with various arrangements, including its impact on competition. [Progressive Railroading, 1-11-21]
SOUTH SHORE RAIL LINE AWARDED $173-M TOWARD SECOND TRACK PROJECT: The Federal Transit Administration has finalized a deal to provide $173-million for expanding the South Shore commuter rail line by adding a second track between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana. The project will also include grade crossing improvements and five station upgrades. [WSIL-TV, 1-11-21]
LORAM ACQUIRES MONTANA HYDRAULICS R.R. SERVICES DIVISION: Loram Maintenance of Way has acquired the railroad services division of Montana Hydraulics. The division provides technicians to perform field services for ballast and dump cars, as well as repair, maintenance and manufacture of maintenance-of-way equipment. [Progressive Railroading, 1-11-21]
CONTRACT AWARDED FOR LIRR RENOVATION AT PENN STATION IN N.Y.: Skanska USA has signed a $392-million contract to renovate Penn Station's Long Island Rail Road concourse in New York City. The contract includes the design and construction of a widened corridor at the 33rd street entrance to the new Moynihan Train Hall. [Progressive Railroading, 1-11-21]
FTA APPROVES $766.5-M FOR PORTAL BRIDGE PROJECT IN N.J.: Construction of a new Portal Bridge spanning the Hackensack River in New Jersey will move forward after the Federal Transit Administration approved $766,5-million for the project. It was the long-sought federal share of $1.8-billion project to replace this major bottleneck on Amtrak's Northeast corridor. A new two-track bridge will replace the existing 110-year-old moveable structure in Kearny that cuases delays to trains when it gets stuck in the open position. [, 1-11-21]
DENVER LAYS OFF 300 RAIL TRANSIT WORKERS: The Regional Transportation District of Denver has laid off about 300 workers, including rail operators and technicians, to align its work force to the service levels reduced by the pandemic. The agency is poised to receive new federal stimulus assistance, and will likely recind some planned layoffs of front-line workers. [Progressive Railroading, 1-11-21]
AMTRAK CRESCENT IMPACTED BY TRACK WORK BETWEEN ATLANTA & NEW ORLEANS: Due to track work, Amtrak Crescent trains 19 and 20 will not operate between Atlanta and New Orleans Jan. 11, 13, 20 and 27, and Febr. 3, 10 and 12. Bus service will be provided. [Amtrak]
RAIL CARS BURN AT N.C. TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM: Firefighters responded to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer early Jan. 9 after it was reported that several old rail cars were on fire. Officials said that this was the third suspicious fire in the immediate area in the past three days. [WBTV, 1-9-21]
RAIL BRIDGE BURNS IN SALT LAKE CITY: A fire began late Jan. 7 of a railroad bridge spanning the Jordan River in Salt Lake City. Rail officials are bringing in equipment to disassemble to bridge, but it will likely keep smoldering until then. [Salt Lake Tribune, 1-9-21]
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY CHAO RESIGNS: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has tendered her resignation from the department. She had intended to serve through the end of her term, she said, but following events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol building, she chose to resign at this time. She will remain on the job until Jan. 11 to allow for a period of transition. [The Hill, 1-8-21]
CALTRAIN EXTENDS OPERATING CONTRACT WITH TRANSITAMERICA: Caltrain's board has extended the agency's commuter rail operating contract with TransitAmerica Services through June 30, 2027. The extension will enable TransitAmerica to support plans to electrify the Peninsula Corridor, Caltrain said. [Progressive Railroading, 1-8-21]
THREE NEW HIGH-EFFICIENCY GRAIN ELEVATORS OPEN IN ALBERTA: G3 has announced three new grain elevators in Alberta. The facilities, in Wetaskiwin, Erskine and Irricana, are high-efficiency. Trains of up to 150 cars can load in a continuous motion on a loop track. The company now has six new elevators in the province. [Progressive Railroading, 1-8-21]
CONSTRUCTION COSTS SOAR FOR SOUND TRANSIT LIGHT-RAIL PROJECTS: Sound Transit officials say estimated construction costs for some light-rail projects have increased between $4.8-billion and $6.2-billion cumulatively due to current real estate and construction market conditions. The next wave of expansions - including extensions to West Seattle, Ballard and Tacoma Dome, as well as a new operations and maintenance facility - will be affected by higher costs, they said. [Progressive Railroading, 1-8-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN ADVANCES DIGITAL INITIATIVES FOR EMPLOYEE DOCUMENTS: Norfolk Southern's 'digital transformation' initiatives now include rulebooks, bulletins, special instructions, and other 'mission-critical' documents for train, engine and field operating personnel. The railroad has contracted with Cloud-hosted software provider Comply365 for rollout of a content management system and mobile application. [Railway Age, 1-8-21]
ABB WILL POWER-UP TORONTO'S NEW HURONTARO LINE: ABB has been awarded a contract by Hitachi Rail to provide traction power equipment for the Hurontario light-rail project in Toronto. Among its roles, Hitachi leads the System & Revenue Vehicle component of the project. [Railway Track & Stuctures, 1-8-21]
U.S. COURT SIDES WITH UNION PACIFIC OVER THREAT OF A STRIKE: Union members with the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way may not strike against Union Pacific over their concerns of how the railroad has handled the COVID-19 pandemic among its work force in a Jan. 7 decision by the U.S. District Court in Nebraska. The union had argued that its right to strike fell under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, but the judge sided with Union Pacific that a strike would violate the Railway Labor Act, and further that the Railroad Safety Act supported the railroad's position. [Freight Waves, 1-8-21]
STADLER TO DELIVER EIGHT EMU'S FOR CENTOVALLI RAILWAY: Stadler will supply eight elecric multiple-units for the Centovalli Railway between Switzerland and Italy beginning in 2023. [Railway-News, 1-8-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN OREGON: A Union Pacific train derailed early Jan. 6 after striking a fallen tree between Canby and Oregon City, Oregon. There were no injuries, except that the locomotive engineer complained of pain. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-7-21]
ALSTON MP14 METRO TRAIN ENTERS SERVICE IN FRANCE: Alston's eight-car automatic MP14 metro train has entered commercial service on an extension of Line 14 to the Mairie de Saint-Ouen station in France. [Progressive Railroading, 1-7-21]
CP'S KEITH CREEL AWARDED RAILWAY AGE RAILROADER OF THE YEAR: The 58th annual recipient of Railway Age's Railroader of the Year award is Canadian Pacific president and CEO Keith Creel. He has been instrumental in CP forging a leadership role in the industry, while acknowledging the railroad's place in history and its role in driving the North American economy forward. [Railway Age, 1-7-21]
CHIC HARRISON DIES: Retired B&O Railroad interlocking tower operator Ralph W. Harrison Jr. of Hampstead, Md., died December 27, 2020. Known by the name of Chic Harrison, he had retired from the railroad in the 1980's following 43 years of service. He was one of the last 'old school' B&O operators working in the cluster of Baltimore terminal towers into the mid-1980's when they were closed in favor of centralized train dispatching. He was 91.
DECEMBER 2020 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 1,101,324 carloads in December 2020, down 3.7 percent from December 2019. Intermodal volume was 1,334,495 containers and trailers, up 12.2 percent. Combined carload and intermodal volume was up 4.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-6-21]
CLEANUP CONTINUES AFTER INDIANA TRAIN DERAILMENT: Crews continue to clear away debris following a significant Norfolk Southern train derailment along U.S. 12 in Gary, Indiana, on Dec. 23. Twenty cars derailed. [NW Times, 1-6-21]
LINEAGE LOGISTICS MOVES INTO REFRIGERATED RAIL CAR MARKET: Lineage Logistics is expanding its termpeature-controlled warehousing business into the refrigerated and insulated rail car market with the acquisition of Cryo-Trans. [Railway Age, 1-6-21]
DAVID DINGES WINS SECOND TERM AS CHAIR OF BLET MD. STATE LEGISLATIVE BOARD: David Dinges has been reelected to his scond term as chair of the Brothehood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen's Maryland State Legislative Board. He joined CSX as a brakeman and conductor in 1993, and promoted to engineer the following year. [Progressive Railroading, 1-6-21]
MICHAEL PIMENTEL NAMED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CALIFORNIA TRANSIT ASSN.: The California Transit Association has named Michael Pimentel executive director. He succeeds Joshua Shaw, who resigned in December. [Progressive Railroading, 1-6-21]
INVESTIGATION CONTINUES AFTER FIERY TRAIN DERAILMENT IN WASHINGTON STATE: Investigators say they still have not found an explanation for the Custer, Washington, train derailment that caused fires after a 10 cars carryig flammable crude oil overturned on Dec. 22. No injuries resulted from the derailment. [The Northern Light, 1-6-21]
RAIL EMPLOYEE KILLED IN CN MONTREAL YARD: Canada's Transportation Safety Board is investigating after a railway employee died Jan. 6 at Monteal's Poine-St-Charles rail yard. One source said that the employee was struck by a train. [CTV News, 1-6-21]
APPLACHIAN RAILCAR SERVICES ACQUIRES FACILITY IN AMARILLO, TEXAS: Appalachian Railcar Services has acquired a rail car repair facility in Amarillo, Texas, from Progress Rail. The facility complements the company's existing tank car network of facilities in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Tennessee. [Progressive Railroading, 1-5-21]
AMTRAK SEEKS TO BUILD FENCING ALONG HUDSON RIVER: Amtrak now wants almost 24,000 feet of fencing or gates to protect its right-of-way between Hyde Park and Albany, N.Y. Amtrak claims that trespassing on railroad property is the number 1 cause of rail-related deaths in the country, and the number 4 cause in the state of New York. The process would block roads that are now being used by people to fish along the Hudson River, which the environmental group Scenic Hudson opposes. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-5-21]
LIRR ADVANCES THIRD-TRACK CONSTRUCTION PROJECT: The Long Island Rail Road has completed several major components of its expansion project for adding a third track from Floral Park to Hicksville, N.Y. The project milestones have included elimination of five grade crossings, replacing or modifiying several bridges, and completion of upgrades at three rail stations. Crews also installed switches for two interlockings, installed three electrical substations, and expanded the Mid-Suffolk train storage yard to accommodate 12-car train sets. [Progressive Railroading, 1-5-21]
ALSTOM LANDS CONTRACT TO BUILD 17-MILE METRO LINE IN FRANCE: Toulouse Metropole has awarded Alstom a $576.4-million contract to build a 17-mile metro line, called Toulouse Aerospace Express, in France. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-5-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Seventy-two percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending Jan. 3, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived 49 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 1-4-21]
MUDSLIDE FORCES CANCELATION OF SEATTLE-EVERETT SOUNDER NORTH SERVICE: Seattle's Sound Tansit has suspended service on its Sounder North route between Seattle and Everett due to mudslide along the line between Edmonds and Mukelito, Washington, through at least Jan. 6. [Railway Track & Structures, 1-4-21]
AMTRAK MODIFIES KEYSTONE SERVICE: Due to the decrease in ridership during the pandemic, Amtrak has modified or suspended certain Keystone service trains connecting Harrisburg with Philadelphia and New York. The changes include seven weekday round trips and six round trips on weekends. Three round trips will operate through to New York each day, however, an increase from two. [Lancaster Online, 1-4-21]
BNSF TESTING BATTERY-ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE IN CALIFORNIA: BNSF and Wabtec have begun testing a battery-electric locomotive in mainline revenue service between Barstow and Stockton, California. The unit is sandwiched between two Wabtec Tier-4 diesel locomotives, representing what is described as a 'battery-electric hybrid consist,' with all three units powering the train. [Railway Age, 1-4-21]
PATRIOT RAIL COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF SALT LAKE GARFIELD & WESTERN RWY: Patriot Rail has finalized the acquisition of short-line operator Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway and its related entities. [KPVI, 1-4-21]
COLORADO MIDLAND & PACIFIC TO LEASE UNION PACIFIC LINE IN COLORADO: Colorado Midland & Pacific Railway has agreed to lease the majority of Union Pacific's Tennessee Pass line between Parkdale and Sage, Colorado, and has filed with the Surface Transportation Board to operate the 163-mile line. [Progressive Railroading, 1-4-21]
CP SETS CALENDAR-YEAR GRAIN RECORD: Canadian Pacific says it moved a calendar-year record 31.32 million tons of Canadian grain and grain products in 2020. [CBC News, 1-4-21]
HIGH-CAPACITY METRO TRAIN ADDED TO AUSTRALIA'S PAKENHAM LINE: The first of 65 high-capacity metro trains being built for the Melbourne, Australia, suburban network entered service on the Paknham line Dec. 26. [Railway Gazette, 1-4-21]
TRAIN CARRYING AUTOS DERAILS IN MEXICO: A train carrying more than 160 Volkswagen autos was derailed in Mexico last Wednesday by armed thieves. The train tracks were cut near the town of Acultzingo, about 80 miles southeast of the assembly plant in Puebla. [Freight Waves, 1-4-21]
FULL YEAR 2020 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Fifty-six percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in 2020. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was 33 minutes late. The average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and 14 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 1-1-21]

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