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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]
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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