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FORMER INTERLOCKING TOWER IN MICHIGAN DEMOLISHED: Former Michigan Central Botsford (BO) interlocking tower in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was demolished Dec. 28. The tower, which was closed in 2016, had controlled crossings of Michigan Central and PRR Grand Rapids & Indiana, plus a crossing of Michigan Central and former LSMS line. [Bill Haines, 12-30-21]
SAVAGE GULF RAIL FACILITY OPENS IN TEXAS: The Savage Gulf Rail Facility, being served by Union Pacific, has opened in San Patricio County, Texas. The rail yard was built to support the Gulf Coast Growth Ventures plastics plant, and includes 36 miles of track, rail car wash and repair facilities. It is expected to generate about 15,000 annual carloads of plastics materials. [Progressive Railroading, 12-30-21]
METRA PLANS MAJOR HIRING EFFORT IN JANUARY: Chicago's Metra is planning a major hiring effort to ensure it has enough employees to respond to the agency's schedule adjustments in first-quarter 2022. Jobs being posted in January include locomotive engineers, conductors, coach cleaners, track and maintenance workers, and other positions in operations and administration. [Progressive Railroading, 12-30-21]
BMWED WORKERS WITH AMTRAK VOTE TO CONSOLIDATE FIVE FEDERATIONS INTO ONE: Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees who work for Amtrak have voted in favor of a proposal to consolidate five separate federations into one Amtrak group. A 'founding convention' will be held in January for delegates from the local lodges to forge new bylaws, elect officers and establish finances for the new federation. [Progressive Railroading, 12-30-21]
NEW CSX LOCOMOTIVE PAINT SCHEME GETS NEW DESIGNATION ON BULL SHEET SITE: The new CSX locomotive paint design featuring the CSX website address on the side of the unit, just below the letters CSX, has been redesignated YN3c on the Bull Sheet's locomotive roster pages. Earlier, the scheme had been identified as YN3w. MORE..
MBTA EXPECTS TO RESTORE SERVICE OVER GLOUCESTER DRAWBRIDGE BY MAY 2022: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority expects to restore commuter rail service over the Gloucester drawbridge spanning Annisquam River on the Rockport line by May 2022. Construction is progressing on the $100-million bridge replacement. [Progressive Railroading, 12-29-21]
BLUEJAY CAPITAL PARTNERS COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF PACIFIC WEST: Bluejay Capital Partners has completed its acquisition of Pacific West, a rail and industrial services business serving the western U.S. [Progressive Railroading, 12-29-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 420,373 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending December 25, 2021, up 3.7 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 8.7 percent, and intermodal was down 0.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-29-21]
AGREEMENT SIGNED TO COMPLETE 19-MILE RAIL LINE CONNECTING IRAN & IRAQ: An agreement has been signed to complete the 19-mile Shalamcheh-Basra railway to connect the national rail networks of Iran and Iraq. [Railway Gazette, 12-29-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN INITIATES REWARD PROGRAM TO EASE INTERMODAL CONGESTION: Norfolk Southern has begun a pilot incentive program at its Chicago and Kansas City intermodal terminals in an aim to ease pandemic-related congestion. Truck carriers and steamship lines can earn a $200 incentive when a drayage driver both brings in and departs with a shipping container. The program is called 'Dual Mission,' and the railroad says it will pay the reward once the truck carrier or steamship line completes dual missions at least half the time over a certain period. [Railway Age, 12-28-21]
D.C. METRO PAUSING ITS RETURN OF ADDITIONAL 7000-SERIES RAIL CARS TO SERVICE: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is pausing its return of additional 7000-series rail cars to service. The agency is ordering a new regime of daily 7000-series inspections, not over new concerns with the cars, but in a 'abundance of caution.' [Progressive Railroading, 12-28-21]
C&O STEAM LOCOMOTIVE 1309 NOW ALIVE AND WELL: Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 steam locomotive 1309, built by Baldwin in 1949 and retired in 1956, has found a new life on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad operating out of Cumberland. The locomotive has been restored to operation, and it made its first movements under steam almost a year ago. It has been tested and refined during 2021, and it pulled a few excursions, including Polar Express, during the holidays. It is the largest locomotive of its type in the world. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-27-21]
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 December 26, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 46 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 12-27-21]
WINSTON-SALEM SEEKS RETURN OF PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE: Winston-Salem, N.C., leaders plan to push hard in the coming year to bring back passenger rail service to the city. Their effort is bolstered by the infrastructure act earmarking $66-billion for Amtrak. But city leaders know that there will be obstacles. Amtrak's 'Corridor Vision' includes additions to the passenger rail system in the state, but Winston-Salem is not for now included in that plan. [Winston-Salem Journal, 12-27-21]
HEDGE FUND TCI SEEKS DELAY IN CN'S CEO SEARCH: TCI Fund Management says Canadian National's search for a new CEO should be delayed until shareholders vote on a new search committee to elect a CEO. TCI owns a five percent stake in CN, and has been seeking a change at the company after it entered into a failed bidding war with Canadian Pacific for Kansas City Southern. The fallout from the deal caused CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest to announce his retirement. [Reuters, 12-23-21]
VA. BEGINS PASSENGER FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR X-VIRGINIAN LINE: The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority has begun the New River Valley Passenger Rail Feasibility study, which will examine potential rail station locations for the area. It follows an agreement to extend passenger service along the former Virginian line between Roanoke and New River Valley, and the state will buy nearly 30 miles of right-of-way from Norfolk Southern. [Progressive Railroading, 12-23-21]
D.C. ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR FOR TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS: The D.C. Dept. of Transportation will receive a $15-million federal grant to improve pedestrian and cyclist connections, address safety and operations, accommodate future streetcar expansions along the two-mile Benning road NE corridor, and support the extension of its streetcar line east to the Benning road Metrorail station. [Progressive Railroading, 12-23-21]
C.P. SEALS LONG-TERM PACT WITH MAJOR POTASH EXPORTER: Canadian Pacific has executed a new long-term agreement with potash exporter Canpotex. The new seven-year contract succeeds the current pact that was to expire next year. Canadian Pacific is Canpotex's primary rail service provider for transporting Canadian potash to overseas markets. [Progressive Railroading, 12-23-21]
ELECTRIC SERVICES BEGIN OVER ENTIRE LENGTH OF TURKEY'S ANKARA-KAYSERI RAIL LINE: Electric rail services have begun over the entire 219-mile length of the Ankara-Kayseri main line following completion of wiring work between Nenek and Sefaatli. [Railway Gazette, 12-23-21]
SENATORS SEEK STUDY OF EXPANDING N.W. PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE: A bipartisan group of U.S. senators representing the greater Northwest region have called on the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to establish a greater Northwest working group for the purpose of working toward expanding passenger rail service across the region. The new Infrastructure Investment & Jobs act includes funding to restore and enhance passenger rail routes in rural and underserved areas. [Progressive Railroading, 12-22-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 504,099 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending Dec. 18, 2021, down 3.1 percent from the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 1.7 percent, and intermodal was down 6.9 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-22-21]
CN NETWORK RETURNS TO NORMAL AFTER WASHOUTS IN B.C.: Canadian National's British Columbia network productivity has returned to pre-washout levels as crews continue to return track to service following washouts in the province. That network was shut down between Nov. 14 and Dec. 4 as the railroad experienced 58 outages over 150 miles. [Progressive Railroading, 12-22-21]
NEW LEASE SIGNED FOR NEW HAVEN R.R. STATIONS: Connecticut and New Haven officials have signed a new lease establishing a partnership agreement involving Union and State Street stations. The New Haven Union Station Partnership's plans call for revamping the basement and first two floors of the station to allow for new retail and additional options for commuters, and improvements to enable future adaptive reuse of the upper station floors. [Progressive Railroading, 12-22-21]
ALSTOM TO SUPPLY SWEDEN WITH ITS FASTEST TRAINS: Swedish national operator SJ has confirmed that Alstom is to supply the fastest trains in the country. They will have a maximum speed of 155 MPH for use on long-distance service, including routes to neighboring Denmark and Norway. The initial order will cover 25 electric train sets for service beginning in 2026, with options for 15 more. The trains will be equipped with batteries to enable movement if power fails. [Railway Gazette, 12-22-21]
STB OK'S WATCO'S PURCHASE OF 652 MILES OF WISCONSIN CENTRAL LINES: The Surface Transportation Board has approved Watco's acquisition of approximately 652 miles of rail line in Wisconsin and Michigan from CN-controlled Wisconsin Central. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-21-21]
INDIANA R.R. IMPROVES ODON, INDIANA, TRANSLOAD FACILITY: The Indiana Rail Road has completed a project to improve its transload facility in Odon, Indiana. The upgrades include a new 10-inch floor, a food grade rail car dock and two truck docks. The facility features 9600 square feet of warehouse capacity and offers services Monday through Friday. [Progressive Railroading, 12-21-21]
INVESTMENT FIRM ACQUIRES VEGETATION MANAGEMENT FIRM FERROVIA SERVICES: Auxo Investment Partners, a private investment firm, has acquired Ferrovia Services, an Alabama-based provider of railroad and transportation vegetation management services. [Progressive Railroading, 12-21-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN MISSOURI: An investigation is underway after a Union Pacific train derailed early Dec. 19 at a crossing in Napton, Missouri. About 40 rail cars carrying a variety of items were involved. No injuries were reported. [KMIZ, 12-20-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-two percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending December 19, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 33 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 12-20-21]
JIM VENA, TAPPED TO BE CEO OF CN, DECLINES APPOINTMENT: Canadian National said Jim Vena, a former executive favored by shareholder TCI Fund Management to replace Jean-Jacques Ruest as chief executive officer, has informed the board that he is no longer interested in taking the role. The company says it expects to announce a new leader next month. [Bloomberg, 12-20-21]
TEXAS SUPREME COURT TO CONSIDER STATE'S CHALLENGE TO EMINENT DOMAIN RIGHT FOR BULLET TRAIN: The Texas attorney general's office has put its weight behind a case against the companies developing the Dallas-Houston bullet train, arguing they cannot force people to sell parcels needed for the high-speed rail project through eminent domain. At issue is whether the companies qualify as 'operating a railroad,' as defined by the state's transportation code. [Texas Tribune, 12-20-21]
AMTRAK IS CHALLENGED IN RECRUITING NEW EMPLOYEES BY LAPSES IN THE PROCESS: Amtrak's human resources department does not have sufficient leadership or staff to effectively recruit, screen and hire new employees, which will likely hinder the company's plan to add up to 3,500 employees this fiscal year, an Amtrak Office of Inspector General's report concludes. After reducing service and downsizing its workforce due to the pandemic, Amtrak now seeks to rebuild its workforce. However, as of October, 28 of 64 positions in the human resources department, which is tasked to process new applicants, were vacant. [Progressive Railroading, 12-17-21]
CHELSEA, MASSACHUSETTS, COMMUTER RAIL STATION PROJECT COMPLETED: Massachusetts officials have marked the completion of the multimodal Chelsea Commuter Rail Station project. The new $37.7-million station offers riders on the Newburyport and Rockport lines fully-accessible high-level platforms and improved station elements. The old station was demolished. [Progressive Railroading, 12-17-21]
L.A. COUNTY METRO APPROVES CERTIFICATION OF ANTELOPE VALLEY LINE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: The Los Angeles County Metro's board has approved the certification of the final environmental impact report for the Antelope Valley line capacity and service improvements project. It aims to boost service frequency and reliability along the 76.6-mile rail corridor between Lancaster and downtown Los Angeles, and construction could begin as early as 2028. [Railway Age, 12-17-21]
PORT OF L.A. LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER PLEADS GUILTY TO INTENTIONALLY RUNNING ENGINE OFF END OF TRACK: A 45-year-old locomotive engineer at the Port of Los Angeles has pleaded guilty to a federal charge for intentionally running a locomotive at full speed off the end of tracks near the Navy hospital ship Mercy in March 2020. No one was injured in the incident, and the ship itself was not damaged, but his train leaked a substantial amount of fuel, and caused about $700,000 in damages because of the derailment. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-17-21]
WOMAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR SHUNTING BNSF TRACKS NEAR BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON: A 28-year-old woman has been sentenced to serve a year and a day in prison plus three years of supervised release for her role in shunting BNSF tracks to disrupt the signaling system near Bellingham, Washington, the night of Nov. 28, 2020. She was one of two women arrested in the incident; the other had been sentenced in October to six months in prison, four months of home confinement and three years of supervised release. [U.S. Justice Dept., 12-17-21]
ALSTOM CITADIS X05 TRAMS ENTER PASSENGER SERVICE IN ATHENS, GREECE: Alstom's latest generation of Citadis X05 has entered passenger service in Athens, following testing. The 25 trams ordered in 2018 are the first Alstom trams to ever circulate in Greece. [Progressive Railroading, 12-17-21]
STEPHEN GARDNER TO BECOME CEO OF AMTRAK: Stephen J. Gardner, currently president of Amtrak, will be the company's CEO on Jan. 17, 2022, succeeding William Flynn, who is retiring. Gardner, who was named president at the end of 2020, joined Amtrak in 2009. Flynn will remain as a senior advisor through Sept. 2022, the end of the fiscal-year, to support the transition. [Railway Age, 12-16-21]
CONTRACT AWARDED FOR N.Y.C. PENN STATION ACCESS PROJECT: A design-build contract for the $2.87-billion Penn Station Access Project in New York has been awarded. When completed, it will result in direct Metro-North service from the Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut to Penn Station and Manhattan's West Side. [Progressive Railroading, 12-16-21]
FEDS APPROVE CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION OF NEW UINTA BASIN RAILWAY: The Surface Transportation Board has granted final approval for an exemption sought by the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition in Utah to construct and operate the Uinta Basin Railway, a new rail line. The decision applies to the Whitmore Park Alternative, subject to final environmental mitigation measures recommended by the board's office of environmental analysis in its final environmental impact statement, with minor changes. [Progressive Railroading, 12-16-21]
D.C. METRO TO GRADUALLY RETURN 7000-SERIES RAIL CARS TO SERVICE: The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission has no technical objections to Washington DC Metro's plan to gradually return half of the 7000-series rail cars to service. The agency's plan calls for a metered release of no more than 336 rail cars, which will provide an additional 42 trains in operation. The agency will pause for 90 days without releasing any more cars until all aspects of the new inspection cycles are set and necessary adjustments are made. All of the 7000-series cars, or about 60 percent of the Metrorail fleet, were withdrawn from service in October as part of an investigation into a derailment involving the cars on the Blue line in Virginia. [Progressive Railroading, 12-15-21]
PATRICK MCCRORY NAMED PRESIDENT, CEO OF PALMETTO RAILWAYS: Patrick McCrory will succeed Jeffrey McWhorter when he retires as president and CEO of Palmetto Railways next month. McCrory currently serves as vice-president and chief commercial officer. Prior to joining Palmetto Railways in 2013, he served in management with CSX Intermodal Terminals and APM Terminals. [Progressive Railroading, 12-15-21]
ABDELLAH CHAJAI NAMED CEO OF KEOLIS COMMUTER SERVICES: Keolis has named transportation veteran Abdellah Chajai CEO of Keolis Commuter Services, the operating partner of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Boston-based commuter rail system. Prior to coming to Boston, he served as CEO of Keolis Amey Docklands since 2018. He has more than 25 years of experience in the industry and transportation sector. [Progressive Railroading, 12-15-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 513,366 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending December 11, 2021, down 6 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 0.3 percent, and intermodal was down 10.9 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-15-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN LEAKS 900 GALLONS OF FUEL OVER 37 MILES IN CALIFORNIA: About 900 gallons of fuel leaked from a train between Sacramento and Dixon, California, along a 37-mile stretch, before it was discovered, Union Pacific said Dec. 15. There were no reported injuries or exposures, and an environmental response team was dispatched to assess the leak and determine what to do next. [CBS Sacramento, 12-15-21]
FORMER BNSF TRACK INSPECTOR AWARDED $9.4-M IN DAMAGES FOR RETALIATION: A former track inspector with BNSF has been awarded $9.4-million in damages by a jury that found that the individual was retaliated against for reporting hazardous safety conditions on the railroad. The award included $611,797 in lost wages, $250,000 in emotional distress, and $8,600,000 in punitive damages. [WCCO, 12-15-21]
BNSF TRAIN DERAILS IN OKLAHOMA: BNSF has confirmed that a train carrying empty intermodal containers derailed near Enid, Oklahoma, on Dec. 15. A total of 21 cars carrying 32 containers were involved, and high-winds may have been the cause. No injuries were reported. [Ponca City Live, 12-15-21]
AMTRAK TO CUT ONE ROUND-TRIP ST. LOUIS-KANSAS CITY TRAIN DUE TO LACK OF STATE FUNDING: Beginning Jan. 3, 2022, Amtrak will cut one of its two round-trip Missouri River Runner trains between St. Louis and Kansas City due to lack of state funding. State aid for the two trains only covered the first half of the fiscal year, and the one remaining train will run in the morning eastbound, and in the evening westbound. Restoration of the train being cut is dependent on the Missouri Legislature, the state department of transportation said. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12-15-21]
PA. GRANTS $9-M TO WHEELING & LAKE ERIE RWY FOR 19-MILE TRACK RENEWAL: Pennsylvania has approved a project grant of $9-million to Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway to replace 19 miles of jointed rail with welded rail on a line in Fayette and Westmoreland counties. [Pa. D.O.T., 12-15-21]
AMTRAK TRAINS ON CHICAGO-ST. LOUIS ROUTE NOW RUNNING AT UP TO 90 MPH: After a delay of more than three years, trains on Amtrak's Chicago-St. Louis route are finally running regularly at speeds of up to 90 MPH. Previously, the maximum speed was 79 MPH. Under schedule changes effective Dec. 13, about 15 minutes were trimmed off trips between the two cities. Amtrak said the rail line actually began operating most trains on the route at the higher speed last summer, but without changing the schedule. Looking forward, Amtrak hopes to achieve speeds of up to 110 MPH on the route in the next year and one-half. [Quad City Times, 12-14-21]
CATERPILLAR, CHEVRON, BNSF PARTNER TO TEST FEASIBILITY OF HYDROGEN FUEL FOR RAILROADS: Caterpillar, Chevron and BNSF have teamed on a locomotive pilot to confirm the feasibility and performance of hydrogen fuel for use as a viable alternative to traditional fuels for line-haul rail. [Railway Age, 12-14-21]
AMTRAK REVISES EMPLOYEE COVID VACCINE POLICY; REPLACES WITH COVID TESTING: Amtrak on Dec. 14 updated the company's COVID-19 vaccine policy by revising the mandate that its employees needed to be vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. Instead, the company will implement employee testing. Today, 95.7 percent of its employees are either fully-vaccinated or have an accommodation, the company said. When it includes employees who have gotten at least one vaccine dose, the number climbs to 97.3 percent. With the change in policy, Amtrak no longer anticipates having system-wide service impacts in January. [Railway Age, 12-14-21]
AMTRAK REPORTS FY-21 RESULTS: Amtrak reported a $1.08-billion loss in adjusted operating earnings during fiscal-year 2021, a reflection of the pandemic's toll on the railroad. However, Amtrak's bottom line was $400-million ahead of plan due to strong ridership gains driven by new approaches to marketing and pricing helping to attract new riders, Amtrak officials said. [Progressive Railroading, 12-14-21]
AMTRAK'S SIGNIFICANT SERVICE EXPANSION TO BEGIN IN ABOUT 18 MONTHS: Amtrak is expected to expand its service and make long overdue infrastructure repairs with its $22-billion in new federal money, but the company says it might be 18 months before any significant work begins. At present, Amtrak is more focused on increasing ridership. Revenues and ridership are expected to recover to about 80 percent of 2019 levels in the next year. In 2021, the company recorded just a 37 percent ridership recovery. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-14-21]
MICHIGAN SEEKS TO BUILD NEW, LARGER TRAIN STATION FOR DETROIT: Rail passengers into and out of Detroit via Amtrak may see a new train station rise in the city's New Center area in coming years. The Biden administration has announced a $10-million grant to help Michigan build a new station, the aim for which is to combine the facility for trains, intercity buses, local services and bike-sharing. It would be built at the current train station's location, and would replace the intercity bus station currently about three miles away. [Detroit Free Press, 12-14-21]
ALSTOM SIGNS AGREEMENT FOR UP TO 750 COMMUTER RAIL CARS FOR DUBLIN, IRELAND: Alstom has signed an agreement with Iarnrod Eireann/Irish Rail for up to 750 new X-trapolis commuter rail cars for the Dublin Area Rapid Transit network, with a firm initial order for 19 five-car trains, including a 15-year support services contract. [Progressive Railroading, 12-14-21]
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 December 12, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 20 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 12-13-21]
N.Y.C. R-32 SUBWAY TRAINS BEING RETIRED: New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced the retirement of their 1960's-era R-32 trains. Among the oldest subway cars to operate in the world, they originally ran on the BMT Brighton line, now known as the Q-line, and were known as Brightliners because of their washboard-like stainless steel exteriors. [Progressive Railroading, 12-13-21]
STB SETS A HEARING ON CSX'S APPLICATION TO CONTROL PAN AM SYSTEMS ON JAN. 13: The Surface Transportation Board will hold a public, virtual meeting Jan. 13, 2022, on the revised application for CSX to acquire control of Pan Am Systems and its short-line subsidiaries. [Progressive Railroading, 12-13-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAIN DERAILS NEAR PITTSBURGH: A Norfolk Southern train derailed early Dec. 12 in Baldwin, Pa., near Pittsburgh. There were no injuries, and no hazardous threats to the public. Cleanup is expected to take 24 hours. (A photo accompanying the story showed Norfolk Southern's locomotive commemorating the Southern Railway over on its side at the accident site.) [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12-12-21]
KCS SHAREHOLDERS VOTE TO APPROVE PROPOSED MERGER WITH CP: Kansas City Southern shareholders have voted to approve the proposed merger with Canadian Pacific. The transaction is expected to close into a trust on Dec. 14. KCS shareholders will receive $90 in cash and 2.884 CP shares for each of their KCS common shares held, and $37.50 for each KCS preferred share held. Ownership of KCS will be held in a voting trust pending Surface Transportation Board review and approval of CP's proposed control of KCS, which is expected to occur in the fourth-quarter of 2022. [Progressive Railroading, 12-10-21]
CSX TRAIN, SEPTA TROLLEY COLLIDE, SEVEN INJURED: A Dec. 9 collision between a CSX train and a SEPTA route 11 trolley in Darby, Pa., injured seven people, one critically. Six of those who were injured were treated and released. None of the CSX crew members were hurt. The accident is under investigation. [Akron RR Club Wordpress, 12-10-21]
MBTA GREEN LINE D BRANCH TRACK, SIGNAL PROJECT COMPLETED: MBTA has announced the completion of its Green line D branch track & signal replacement project, which began in June 2018. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-10-21]
MICHAEL MILLER NAMED TO SERVE AS UNION PACIFIC'S V.P., TREASURER: Michael Miller, a 28-year Union Pacific veteran, has been appointed vice-president and treasurer of the company, effective Febr. 1, 2022. He will succeed Gary Grosz, who is retiring. [Railway Age, 12-10-21]
GLENN HULCHER DIES, FOUNDER OF HULCHER SERVICES: Glenn Hulcher, founder of Hulcher Services Inc., died Nov. 23. He was 85. [Progressive Railroading, 12-10-21]
BRIDGE REPLACEMENT TO IMPACT CITY OF NEW ORLEANS TRAIN: Amtrak train City of New Orleans will be annulled in both directions between Memphis and New Orleans December 13, 2021, because of bridge replacement work. The train will still operate between Chicago and Memphis, but not south of Memphis. [Amtrak]
UNION PACIFIC HIKES COMMON STOCK DIVIDEND 10 PCT: The board of Union Pacific has voted to increase the quarterly common stock dividend by 10 percent. [Union Pacific, 12-10-21]
THREE CLASS I RAILROADS SUSPEND COVID-19 VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS: BNSF, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific have each put on hold requirements that all of their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. A federal court decision called for a stay of the vaccine mandate for federal contractors, putting on hold such mandates until legal challenges work themselves through the court process. [Freight Waves, 12-9-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO ACQUIRE NEW, MORE SUSTAINABLE STEEL GONDOLA RAIL CARS: Norfolk Southern, U.S. Steel and The Greenbrier Companies have jointly announced a new, more sustainable steel gondola rail car. Norfolk Southern will initially acquire 800 of the Greenbrier-engineered gondolas, which can transport loose bulk material such as metal scraps, coils, wood chips, steel slabs and ore. The cars feature an extended lifecycle by using new steel that is two times as strong as traditional steel used in rail car manufacturing. Norfolk Southern plans to recycle their old gondolas once the new ones are in service. [Progressive Railroading, 12-9-21]
DICK HASSELMAN DIES, FORMER CONRAIL SENIOR V.P. OPERATIONS: Richard B. Hasselman, former senior vice-president of operations for Conrail, died Dec. 5 at the age of 95. As a teen he was a member of a model railroad club where his passion for railroading and trolleys was spawned. He began his railroading career in 1947 with the New York Central, and he worked in many capacities, including that of interlocking tower operator. He was still with NYC when it merged with PRR to become Penn Central, and later Conrail. He became senior vice-president operations, where he remained for 13 years until his retirement at the end of 1989. [Railway Age, 12-9-21]
JACKSON STREET INTERLOCKING TOWER IN OHIO DEMOLISHED: CSX has demolished the former New York Central Jackson Street interlocking tower in Fostoria, Ohio. The tower had housed the nation's first centralized traffic control system. [Bill Haines, 12-9-21]
FEDS AWARD $285.7-M COVID-19 RESPONSE GRANT TO METROPOLITAN ATLANTA TRANSIT: The Federal Transit Administration has awarded the Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Administration a $285.7-million grant for COVID-19 response under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. [Railway Age, 12-9-21]
AMTRAK TRAINS TO INCREASE SPEED ON CHICAGO-ST. LOUIS CORRIDOR: Trains operating on the corridor between Chicago and St. Louis will have faster schedules by about 15 minutes effective Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, due to an increase in maximum speed to 90 MPH. This is a step toward 110 MPH schedules planned for the next 12 to 18 months. [Amtrak]
CP SHAREHOLDERS VOTE TO APPROVE PROPOSED MERGER WITH KCS: Canadian Pacific shareholders have voted in favor of the issuance of CP common shares to Kansas City Southern common stockholders in connection with the proposed CP-KCS combination. [CP, 12-8-21]
JUDGE BLOCKS COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE FOR EMPLOYEES OF FEDERAL CONTRACTS: A federal judge on Dec. 7 blocked the Biden Administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine for employees of federal contractors. The mandate affects railroads that do business with the federal government, including Amtrak and some Class I carriers. In recent months, Amtrak, BNSF, Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern have been embroiled in lawsuits filed by unions which argue the mandates have to be considered part of the collective bargaining process. [Progressive Railroading, 12-8-21]
D.C. METRO SETS TO REOPEN SHADY GROVE, ROCKVILLE STATIONS ON JAN. 16: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will reopen the Shady Grove and Rockville stations on Jan. 16, 2021, after a four-month shutdown to complete track repairs and to install fiber optic cable for radio communication. [Progressive Railroading, 12-8-21]
CP COMMITS TO BATON ROUGE-NEW ORLEANS PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE: Canadian Pacific, which is close to gaining ownership of the tracks between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, has committed to reintroducing passenger rail service on the line. The railroad says it will work with state and local officials, Amtrak and other interested parties to restart local passenger service, and freeing up capacity for one round-trip per day between the cities. Frequency could even be increased depending upon upgrades to the line. [, 12-8-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 527,406 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending December 4, 2021, down 2.8 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 3.9 percent, and intermodal was down 8.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-8-21]
CALTRAIN'S ELECTRIFICATION PROJECT TO COST $462-M MORE THAN ORIGINAL ESTIMATE: Caltrain says its electrification project will require an additional $462-million over the original estimate, bringing the total cost to $2.44-billion. The increase is a result of negotiations and settlement with the contractor resolving commercial issues and costs related to the extended 2024 completion deadline. [Progressive Railroading, 12-7-21]
GA. PORTS AUTHORITY TO EXPEDITE COMPLETION OF TERMINAL EXPANSION: The Georgia Ports Authority intends to expedite the completion of 1.6 million 20-foot equivalent container units in additional annual terminal capacity at the Garden City terminal. Capacity will increase by 670,000 units by January, 155,000 units in March, and the remainder in June. [Progressive Railroading, 12-7-21]
UNION PACIFIC COMMITS TO NET ZERO GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY 2050: Union Pacific has published its first comprehensive climate action plan to driving climate action and responding to emerging risks affecting the rail industry. The company is committed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. [Progressive Railroading, 12-7-21]
FEDS ANNOUNCE $198-M AVAILABILITY FOR INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL PROJECTS: The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a notice of funding opportunity for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair program of $198-million to repair and rehabilitate qualified intercity passenger rail infrastructure and assets. It will also provide an opportunity to jumpstart investments in eligible projects under the recently enacted Infrastructure Law. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-7-21]
FIRST FLIRTS DELIVERED TO WALES: The first two of the 35 Flirt multiple-units which Stadler is supplying to Wales have been delivered, ready for testing and commissioning ahead of entry into service next year. [Railway Gazette, 12-7-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-seven percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending December 5, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and eight minutes behind schedule. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 12-6-21]
EXPANDED RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE BUSINESS PARK OPENS IN MONTANA: The Port of Montana and Union Pacific have opened an $8-million infrastructure expansion at Butte's Montana Connections Development Park. The project adds more than 20,000 track feet, increasing the facility's capacity for more and longer trains. [Progressive Railroading, 12-6-21]
METROLINK HOSTS FUTURE SERVICE DOGS: Southern California's Metrolink recently hosted a training exercise for a dozen puppies set to become working guide dogs and service on public transportation. The puppies are being trained for visually impaired persons. The day began at the Sylmar-San Fernando station where the puppies and handlers boarded the Antelope Valley line to Los Angeles Union Station. The puppies practiced sitting at handlers' feet, out of the way of other passengers, and once at Union Station they practiced basic obedience skills amid the hustle of commuters. [Progressive Railroading, 12-6-21]
CN LINE IN B.C. REOPENS FOLLOWING MUDSLIDE REPAIRS: Canadian National crews worked around the clock to repair rail infrastructure on the Vancouver-Kamloops corridor in British Columbia, and train activity resumed Dec. 5. The segment had been disabled in late November due to mudslides and heavy rain. Limited activity was restored in late November, but the line was shut down again after more severe weather. The railroad said crews would continue to monitor the territory over the coming weeks. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-6-21]
HUNGARY TO EXAMINE USE OF HYDROGEN TECHNOLOGY IN RAIL TRANSPORTATION: Alstom and Hungarian oil & gas company MOL have signed an agreement to structure cooperation in examining the use of hydrogen technology in rail transportation. [Progressive Railroading, 12-6-21]
METRO-NORTH SEATING INFO EXPANDS TO GOOGLE MAPS: Metro-North's seating availability feature on its 'Train Time' app, which shows riders the percentage of full seats in each train car, is expanding to Google Maps. [Progressive Railroading, 12-6-21]
CANADA APPROVES CN'S PROPOSED INTERMODAL FACILITY IN MILTON, ONTARIO: The Canadian Transportation Agency has approved Canadian National's proposed $250-million logistics hub and intermodal facility to be built in Milton, Ontario. The facility will include a rail yard with more than 12 miles of track, and is projected to handle four intermodal trains per day. [Railway Age, 12-6-21]
KCS SETS GRAIN CARLOAD RECORD IN NOV. 2021: Kansas City Southern set a record daily average grain carload record in November 2021, exceeding the previous record set in October 2021. KCS's rail lines receive and originate shipments of grain and grain products for delivery to consumers in the U.S. and Mexico, and its cross-border grain shipments represent some of the longest lengths of haul on the railroad originating in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, and moving into central and southern Mexico. [Railway Age, 12-3-21]
BNSF TRAIN COLLIDES WITH ANOTHER IN OMAHA: There was a BNSF derailment south of the Omaha, Nebraska, area early Dec. 3. An empty coal train hit the rear of a mixed-freight train; two locomotives and 16 cars were involved. As a precaution, a conductor and engineer aboard the empty coal train were hospitalized. [WOWT, 12-3-21]
JAMES SQUIRES, NORFOLK SOUTHERN CHAIRMAN, TO RETIRE: James A. Squires, chairman & CEO of Norfolk Southern, plans to retire on May 1, 2022. Alan H. Shaw, executive vice-president & chief marketing officer, will take over as CEO, and the board of directors has elected him president, effective immediately. [Norfolk Southern, 12-2-21]
R.J. CORMAN RAILROAD REBRANDS ITS TRANSLOADING BUSINESS: R.J. Corman Railroad is rebranding its transloading business as 'Transload Connect,' and has signed on RSI Logistics to market the service and serve as a third-party operator at select locations. [Railway Age, 12-2-21]
COURT RULES USE OF BOND FUNDS ARE ALLOWABLE FOR SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY HSR PROJECT: A California court has ruled that the current use of bond funds for high-speed rail construction in the central San Joaquin Valley does not violate the state constitution. The court said using funds on a project that has had some modifications was still constitutional. [Railway Age, 12-2-21]
NTSB ISSUES SAFETY ALERT OVER WHEELSET GAUGE ISSUE: The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a safety alert calling on transit rail agencies and commuter railroads to assess their fleets for wheelsets that do not meet gauge specifications, and to correct any problems. A wheelset movement issue was identified during an investigation of an October 12 derailment involving a D.C. Metro train on the Blue line in Virginia. [Progressive Railroading, 12-2-21]
NEW PRESIDENT ELECTED TO RAIL SIGNAL WORKERS UNION: The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen has announced the election of Michael Baldwin as the organization's new president following the retirement of Jerry Boles. Baldwin most recently served as the union's secretary-treasurer from 2019, and had served as vice-president West from 2015. [Progressive Railroading, 12-2-21]
ALTOM LANDS CONTRACT TO OVERHAUL 94 GO TRANSIT BI-LEVEL RAILCARS: Alstom has won a $171-million contract from Metrolinx to overhaul 94 bi-level commuter railcars for GO Transit. The cars were built 2003-2008, and their overhaul and upgrade work will be performed over a two-year period in Thunder Bay, Ontario. [Progressive Railroading, 12-1-21]
NOVEMBER 2021 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-three percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in November 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was 43 minutes late. The average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and 15 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 12-1-21]
ITE MANAGEMENT ACQUIRES C.K. INDUSTRIES: ITE Management, in partnership with RESIDCO, has acquired C.K. Industries' North American Railcar and related assets. C.K. Industries is a railcar owner and lessor based in Illinois with affiliates elsewhere in North America and in Europe. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-1-21]
VIA RAIL UNVEILS FIRST NEW TRAIN SET FOR QUEBEC CITY-WINDSOR CORRIDOR: VIA Rail Canada on Nov. 30 unveiled the first new train set for its upcoming state-of-the-art fleet. The company plans to acquire 32 of the new Siemens trains as part of its program aimed at creating a 'VIA Rail of Tomorrow.' The nearly $1-billion in funding for the trains comes from the Canadian government's 2018 federal budget, and the trains will be used on the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. [Progressive Railroading, 12-1-21]
NOVEMBER 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 1,945,826 carloads and intermodal units in November 2021, down 4.5 percent compared with the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 2 percent, and intermodal was down 9.6 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-1-21]
UNION PACIFIC CUTS FULL-YEAR FORECAST FOR VOLUME, OPERATING RATIO: Union Pacific has cut its full-year forecast for volume and operating ratio growth as supply chain logjams persist. The company said it expects 2021 volumes to grow about 4 percent from around the 5 percent growth it had forecast in October. Earlier in the year it had expected a volume growth of about 7 percent. [Reuters, 12-1-21]
STB ORDERS CSX TO ALLOW AMTRAK ACCESS TO CHOCTAW YARD: CSX must permit Amtrak access to the Choctaw Yard to conduct an engineering survey related to the potential location of a layover track, the Surface Transportation Board ruled on Nov. 29. The ruling is related to the ongoing dispute over Amtrak's plans to offer service between New Orleans and Mobile. [Progressive Railroading, 11-30-21]
MARK WALLACE DIES, CSX EXEC. V.P.: Mark Wallace, executive vice-president of CSX, died Nov. 28. He joined CSX in 2017 as EVP of corporate affairs and chief of staff, and later named EVP of sales and marketing the following year. Prior to joining CSX, he held positions at Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. He was 52. [Progressive Railroading, 11-30-21]
FEDS TO ADD UP TO $80.5-M TO EARLIER LOAN FOR MOYNIHAN TRAIN HALL IN N.Y.: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation's Build America Bureau has added up to $80.5-million to the $526.5-million loan that closed in 2017 toward construction of the Moynihan Train Hall in New York City. The additional loan capacity will ensure completion of security and passenger safety initiatives, officials said. [Progressive Railroading, 11-30-21]
RAILS COULD SEE HUGE SAVINGS SWITCHING FROM DIESEL TO BATTERY POWER, STUDY SAYS: If U.S. Class I railroads convert from diesel locomotives to battery power, they can save $94-billion over 20 years while consuming half the energy consumed by diesel, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report published in the Nov. 2021 issue of Nature Energy. [American Journal of Transportation, 11-30-21]
HOWARD STREET TUNNEL PROJECT BEGINS: Ground has been broken on the $466-million project calling for expansion of the 126-year-old CSX-owned Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore along with work at 21 other locations to enable trains to carry double-stacked containers to and from the Port of Baltimore. The project is expected to increase the port's annual volume by about 160,000 containers and generate more than 14,000 jobs. [Progressive Railroading, 11-29-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-nine percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending November 28, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 12 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 11-29-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAIN DERAILS IN GEORGIA, TWO CREW MEMBERS SLIGHTLY INJURED: A late Nov. 27 derailment in downtown Hiram, Ga., shut down one of the city's main arteries. According to Norfolk Southern, two crew members riding in the lead locomotive, which overturned along with seven train cars, were taken to a hospital with minor injuries before being released the following morning. [WSB-TV, 11-28-21]
OHIO APPROVES GRANT FOR EMBANKMENT STABILIZATION ON SHORT LINE: The Ohio Rail Development Commission has approved a $130,000 grant to Youngstown & Southeastern Railroad to stabilize an embankment adjacent to Little Bull Creek in Columbiana County where the stream had changed course and begun to erode. [The Review, 11-27-21]
MEXICO ENDORSES CP-KCS MERGER PROPOSAL: Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern have received the required regulatory pre-transaction control approvals from the Mexican Federal Economic Competition Commission and the Mexican Federal Telecommunications Institute for the proposed combination of the two railroads. [CP & KCS 11-26-21]
STB ASKS NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO EXPLAIN DETERIORATING PERFORMANCE METRICS, COMPLAINTS: In a letter to Norfolk Southern, the Surface Transportation Board has called for Norfolk Southern to provide a review of the state of its network, including an assessment of why its service metrics are not near 2019 levels. The board has received an increasing number of complaints over poor performance, missed switches, stranded cars, longer transit times, operating plan changes without notice and lack of communication. [Freight Waves, 11-26-21]
STB ACCEPTS FOR CONSIDERATION CP-KCS MERGER APPLICATION: The Surface Transportation Board has accepted for consideration the application filed Oct. 29 for the proposed merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern. The board determined the application is complete, as it contains all information required by the board's regulations. In its decision, following public comment, the board has adopted a procedural schedule that sets deadlines for comments, responsive applications, final briefs and other filings. [Progressive Railroading, 11-24-21]
UNIONS FILE SUIT OVER AMTRAK'S COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE: Two unions representing Amtrak workers are challenging Amtrak over its actions in implementing a COVID-19 vaccine policy. Their position is that Amtrak has no authority to unilaterally implement and enforce a vaccination mandate among its employees, and that its actions in failing to negotiate terms of implementation violate the status quo requirement of the Railway Labor Act, thus engendering a major dispute. [Progressive Railroading, 11-24-21]
D.C. METRO TO MAINTAIN REDUCED RAIL SERVICE THROUGH DEC. 31: The Washington Area Transit Authority says it will maintain reduced rail service through Dec. 31. The agency has yet to determine a timeline to return its 7000-series rail car fleet to service. The cars were shopped in October due to safety concerns. Meanwhile, the 6000-series cars are awaiting repairs, and parts are delayed by supply-chain disruptions. [Progressive Railroading, 11-24-21]
SOUND TRANSIT'S LYNNWOOD LINK EXTENSION PROJECT REACHES 50 PCT OF COMPLETION: Two years after groundbreaking, civil construction on Seattle's Sound Transit light-rail Link extension has reached the 50 percent completion mark. Scheduled opening is in 2024. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-24-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 508,309 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending November 20, 2021, down 4.9 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 1.6 percent, and intermodal was down 10 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-24-21]
TRAIN, SEMI COLLIDE IN HOUSTON, UNION PACIFIC EMPLOYEE INJURED: There was a collision Nov. 23 in Houston, Texas, between a semi-trailer truck and a train. A Union Pacific employee on board the train was injured and taken to a hospital. The incident is under investigation. [KYRK, 11-24-21]
AMTRAK PLANS MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS TO JOHNSTOWN, PA., STATION: Amtrak plans to invest more than $16-million into its Johnstown, Pa., station as part of the Johnstown Iron-to-Arts Corridor project. The improvements are mostly related to ADA compliance, and will include replacement of the current platform, headhhouse, elevator and stairway, improved heat and air-conditioning. [Progressive Railroading, 11-23-21]
WILMINGTON, N.C., SELECTS PREFERRED RAILROAD REALIGNMENT ROUTE: Wilmington, N.C. will be getting a rail line out of the way. Officials have decided to go with a billion-dollar alternative to avoid at-grade crossings and provide a more direct access to rail involving tying into the Wilmington Terminal Railroad, cross a bridge spanning Cape Fear River, and connect to a CSX line en route to Davis Yard. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-23-21]
STACEY POSEY NAMED PRESIDENT OF WINCHESTER & WESTERN: OmniTRAX has named Stacey Posey to serve as president of Winchester & Western, which covers 100 miles of track in Virginia and New Jersey. He will also serve as regional engineer for OmniTRAX's Central Region. With 19 years of railroad experience, he has held leadership positions at Montana Rail Link and CSX. [Railway Age, 11-23-21]
METRA, UNIONS REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT: A coalition of nine labor unions have reached a tentative agreement, subject to vote by the membership, on a new contract with Chicago's Metra. [Progressive Railroading, 11-23-21]
SHORT LINE IN S.D. AWARDED $22-M FEDERAL GRANT FOR TRACK UPGRADING: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded a $22-million grant toward upgrading 163 miles of main line on Genesee & Wyoming's Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad in South Dakota. [Progressive Railroading, 11-23-21]
SERVICE BEGINS ON SAN DIEGO'S 11-MILE BLUE LINE TROLLEY EXTENSION: The $2.1-billion, 11-mile Mid-Coast extension of the UC San Diego Blue line trolley began operating Nov. 21. The extension includes eight bridge crossings, more than four miles of aerial viaduct structures, and nine stations. [Railway Age, 11-23-21]
INFRASTRUCTURE LAW INCLUDES NEW SAFETY MEASURES FOR RAILROADS: New safety measures included in the Infrastructure law are aimed at passenger rail safety and certain changes in passenger rail car interior standards. Included are standards requiring passenger trains to have emergency lighting systems, occupant restraint systems such as air bags and emergency window retention systems, drug and alcohol testing for mechanical employees, and identification of stretches of track where trains must reduce speed by more than 20 MPH. [JdSupra, 11-23-21]
CHICAGO TRANSIT OPENS RED-PURPLE BYPASS ON BROWN LINE: Chicago Transit on Nov. 19 opened the new Red-Purple Bypass, the first major improvement as part of the $2.1-billion Red-Purple Modernization Phase One project, on the Brown line. The bypass is the first new section of track added to the authority's system in 28 years, and eliminates a 114-year-old rail junction that had become a chokepoint for service. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-22-21]
FEDS AWARD $24-M GRANT TO CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded a $24-million grant from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program to the California High-Speed Rail Authority toward various construction projects to advance safety in and around Wasco, California. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-22-21]
CP EXPECTS TO REOPEN CORRIDOR IN B.C. THIS WEEK FOLLOWING FLOOD DAMAGE: Canadian Pacific is estimating that service to its corridor between Kamloops and Vancouver, B.C., will be restored from flood damage sometime mid-week. Progress is being made with about 20 separate sections of track already cleared or repaired, the railroad said. [Progressive Railroading, 11-22-21]
PORT OF VIRGINIA TO DOUBLE SIZE OF CENTRAL RAIL YARD IN NORFOLK BY 2023: The Port of Virginia by 2023 will double the size of its Central Rail Yard at Norfolk International Terminals, allowing the port to handle 1.1 million containers per year via rail. [Railway Age, 11-22-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-four percent of Amtrak's named long distance trains arrived at the scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending November 21, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 24 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 11-22-21]
FEDS AWARD $158-M TOWARD VALLEY METRO LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation have awarded a $158.1-million grant to the city of Phoenix and Valley Metro for the Northwest Extension Phase II light-rail project. [Railway Track & Structures, 12-19-21]
AMTRAK SERVICE RETURNS TO POINT DEFIANCE BYPASS IN WASHINGTON STATE: For the first time since the 2017 derailment, Amtrak service returned Nov. 18 to the 14.5-mile Point Defiance bypass between DuPont and Tacoma, Washington. Initially a total of eight daily trains, both Coast Starlight and Cascade service, are using the bypass, with more to be added as future schedules are updated. Also, the return to service marks the first time Amtrak trains will be stopping at the new Tacoma Dome station. [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 11-19-21]
CAROLINA CONNECTOR INTERMODAL TERMINAL OPENS: The Carolina Connector intermodal terminal has officially opened for business near Rocky Mount, N.C. The facility is considered one of the most technologically advanced facilities on the CSX network. It is located on 330 acres on a CSX mainline, with most of the container handling being fully-automated with operators controlling the initial lift and final placement from inside the terminal building. [Progressive Railroading, 11-19-21]
RONALD MCLAUGHLIN DIES, FORMER BLE PRESIDENT: Ronald McLaughlin, who served as president of the union then known as the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers from 1991 to 1996, died Nov. 12. He began his railroading career on the Milwaukee Road in 1948 as a fireman, and was a member of the union for 71 years. He was 92. [Progressive Railroading, 11-19-21]
OHIO GRANTS RAIL-REPLACEMENT GRANT FOR PORTION OF SHORT LINE: The Ohio Rail Development Commission has approved a $687,000 grant to replace rail on a portion of the Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway line east of Defiance. The line runs about 45 miles from Napoleon, Ohio, to Woodburn, Indiana, with interchanges with Norfolk Southern and CSX in Defiance. [Progressive Railroading, 11-19-21]
RALEIGH GETS FEDERAL FUNDING TOWARD NEW TRANSIT CENTER: The city of Charlotte, N.C., will receive a $15-million federal grant toward construction of a new multimodal transit center to replace its existing open-air downtown bus terminal. The new center will include an underground bus concourse with seamless connections to LYNX Blue line light-rail, the Gold line streetcar, local and regional bus service, and a new bicycle and pedestrian trail. [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 11-19-21]
U.S. RAILROAD SAFETY ADVISORY COMMITTEE ADDS THREE NEW ORGANIZATIONS TO MEMBERSHIP: The Federal Railroad Administration has added voting members from three organizations, increasing the organizations from 23 to 26, and the number of voting members from 34 to 51. The organizations being added are the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, Association of State Rail Safety Managers, and the Commuter Rail Coalition. [FRA, 11-9-21]
MBTA OPENS TWO NEW GREEN LINE STATIONS: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Boston University have marked the opening of two new Green line rail stations. The $29-million project combined four stations into two. The Armory Street station combined the old St. Paul Street and Boston University stations, and the Babcock Station combined the old Babcock and Pleasant street stations. [Progressive Railroading, 11-18-21]
PATTY LONG NAMED PRESIDENT OF RAILWAY SUPPLY INSTITUTE: Patty Long will become the president of Railway Supply Institute on Nov. 29. She has over 25 years of executive experience in trade associations, most recently serving as interim CEO and chief operating officer of the Plastics Industry Association. [Progressive Railroading, 11-18-21]
B.C. RAILROADS BLOCKED BY FLOODING: The railways that link Vancouver and the southern part of British Columbia with the rest of the country are expected to remain flood-damaged and impassable for days. Canadian National and Canadian Pacific rail lines run along the Fraser River, which spilled its banks and cut off roads, bridges and tracks in this week's heavy rain. Neither carrier could estimate when repairs could be completed and service resumed. [Globe & Mail, 11-18-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAIN STRIKES SCHOOL BUS IN VA.: On Nov. 17 a school bus with 16 elementary school children on board was struck by a Norfolk Southern train at a crossing in Rockingham County, Va. Four of the students were taken to a hospital with minor injuries. According to police, the bus had stopped for a stop sign with the rear of the bus partially hanging over the nearby train tracks. The 70-year-old driver of the bus was not injured, but he was cited for failure to obey a traffic control device and railroad crossing sign. There were no injuries to the crew of the train. [WHSV, 11-17-21]
METRA-CP CROSSOVER PROJECT COMPLETED IN FRANKLIN PARK, ILLINOIS: Ribbon was cut Nov. 16 in Franklin Park, Illinois, to mark the end of the Metra-Canadian Pacific Crossover Upgrades project. It minimizes delays by the installation of five crossovers and associated signaling on the Metra tracks serving the Milwaukee District West line and CP in Franklin Park. In addition, another crossover was installed between the Indiana Harbor Belt and CN tracks between Chestnut and Grand avenues. [Progressive Railroading, 11-17-21]
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PORTS DELAY CONTAINER DWELL FEES FOR OCEAN CARRIERS TO NOV. 22: The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are delaying consideration of a temporary container dwell fee for ocean carriers until Nov. 22. Since the fee was announced Oct. 25, the ports have seen a decline of 26 percent in cargo dwell on the docks. The fee would have cost ocean carriers $100 per container after an established number of days, which would increase by an additional $100 per day beyond that time. [Progressive Railroading, 11-17-21]
DELIVERY BEGINS FOR STADLER FLIRT VEHICLES FOR SAN BERNARDINO TRANSIT: Stadler has begun delivery of the first of three diesel multiple-unit FLIRT trains for the San Bernardino County Transit Authority's Redlands Passenger rail project for operation, after testing, on the nine-mile commuter route between San Bernardino Transit Center and the University of Redlands. [Progressive Railroading, 11-17-21]
CP RAISES $8.45-B IN BOND SALE TO HELP FUND KCS ACQUISITION: Canadian Pacific raised $8.45-billion by selling investment-grade bonds to help fund its acquisition of Kansas City Southern. [BNN Bloomberg, 11-17-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 502,613 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending Nov. 13, 2021, down 4.7 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 1.7 percent, and intermodal was down 9.7 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-17-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN BRIDGE IN FINDLAY, OHIO, TO BE REPLACED: A Norfolk Southern century-old railroad bridge spanning the Blanchard River in Findlay, Ohio, will now be replaced after the town received federal funding. The new span will help flood mitigation efforts by improving the flow of the river at the site. The 300-foot bridge will replace one of 150 feet. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-17-21]
CANADIAN CROSS-BORDER AMTRAK SERVICE DELAYED UNTIL EARLY 2022: The return of Amtrak Cascades, Maple Leaf and Adirondack rail service into and out of Canada, suspended due to the pandemic in March 2020, has been delayed until early 2022. [CBC News, 11-17-21]
METRA APPROVES CONTRACT FOR RENOVATION OF HARVEY STATION: Metra's board has approved a contract to renovate the 147th street/Sibley boulevard station on the Electric line in Harvey, Illinois. The facility's first upgrade in over 30 years, the project is estimated to take 15 months to complete. It involves replacing its concrete platform with longer-lasting composite material, replacing the headhouse and waiting shelters, installing a canopy cover and an ADA-compliant elevator, plus other work. [Progressive Railroading, 11-16-21]
N..Y.C. SUBWAY TO CONVERT FOUR RETIRED RAILCARS INTO EMERGENCY PUMP TRAINS: New York City Transit has awarded a contract to convert four retired R110A test fleet passenger railcars into two pump trains to be used for flooding mitigation in the subway system. [Progressive Railroading, 11-16-21]
RENOVATION SET TO BEGIN ON ATLANTA'S INDIAN CREEK RAIL STATION: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit is holding a groundbreaking Nov. 22 for the $10-million renovation of Indian Creek rail station, the easternmost terminus of the Blue line. The station averages nearly 10,000 riders per week. [Railway Age, 11-16-21]
LOUISVILLE LOOKS FORWARD TO POSSIBLE RETURN OF AMTRAK SERVICE: Now that the federal infrastructure bill has been signed into law, Louisville could be getting closer to seeing the return of Amtrak service. According to Amtrak, a program has to be drawn up, and it will be competitive, based on local matching funds and advanced planning by state and local governments. Amtrak's vision includes a stop in Louisville offering four round trips each day to Chicago via Indianapolis. Amtrak has not operated in Louisville since 2003. [Spectrum News, 11-16-21]
EXPANSION COMPLETED AT SAVANNAH'S MASON RAIL TERMINAL: Georgia Ports Authority has completed its Mason Mega Rail Terminal at the Port of Savannah, and is now operating a second set of nine new tracks. The terminal features a total of 18 new tracks which increase capacity by more than 30 percent. [Progressive Railroading, 11-15-21]
CONNECTICUT PLANNING TO BOOST SERVICE ON WATERBURY BRANCH: Connecticut plans to begin two-way service on Metro-North's Waterbury branch over the coming months. The 27-mile, single-track branch has six stations, Adding an additional track will increase commuter service to 22 trains each weekday, beginning in summer 2022. [Progressive Railroading, 11-15-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-eight percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending November 14, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and three minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 11-15-21]
HOLLY ARNOLD NAMED MARYLAND TRANSIT ADMINISTRATOR: Holly Arnold has been named the new administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration. Acting administrator since June, she previously served as deputy administrator, chief of planning, programming and engineering officer. [Progressive Railroading, 11-15-21]
CONCERN EXPRESSED OVER NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S RECENT DETERIORATION OF SERVICE: Norfolk Southern's service has deteriorated over the past six weeks amid crew shortages and operational changes, according to shippers and connecting railroads. Some expressed concern that the railroad is teetering on the brink of meltdown as speed falls, cars spend more time in yards, and a rising number of trains per day are held due to a lack of personnel, power and other reasons. Average train speed of 17.6 MPH in the week ending Nov. 5 is the lowest since May 2018. [Train Magazine, 11-15-21]
BNSF TRAIN COLLIDES WITH RIVER BARGE IN IOWA, DERAILS: A BNSF train traveling south near Montrose, Iowa, collided with a barge Nov. 13, derailing two locomotives and six cars. Two cars of coal fell into the Mississippi River, and the locomotives spilled several hundred gallons of diesel fuel. Members of the train crew were taken to a hospital as a precaution, but they were not injured. [The Hawk Eye, 11-14-21]
CSX RESPONDS TO STB OVER SERVICE COMPLAINTS: CSX has taken multiple steps to improve service while facing substantial headwinds during the pandemic, CSX's president and CEO James Foote wrote last week in response to the Surface Transportation Board's letter advising of a series of service complaints. He said the railroad is operating around the clock to facilitate traffic flow, with other aspects of the supply chain implementing similar practices, but it is seeing higher attrition rates during the on-boarding, training and first year of service for conductors. He noted, though, that CSX has seen improvements in new hire rates. [Progressive Railroading, 11-12-21]
JEFFREY DAVIS NAMED DIRECTOR OF TEXAS D.O.T. RAIL DIVISION: Jeffrey Davis has been named director of the Texas Dept. of Transportation Rail Division effective Nov. 15. With decades of experience in transit, passenger and freight rail planning, maintenance, operations and leadership, he has served in roles with South Carolina Public Railways and CSX. [Progressive Railroading, 11-12-21]
STB TO PREPARE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR CP'S KCS ACQUISITION: The Surface Transportation Board's Office of Environmental Analysis has issued a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement in connection with Canadian Pacific's proposed acquisition of Kansas City Southern. The OEA will hold six online public scoping meetings during the comment period, Nov. 30 to Dec. 9. [Progressive Railroading, 11-12-21]
AMTRAK PLANS TO ADD SECOND DAILY TRAIN TO SERVE ROANOKE, VA.: Amtrak plans to launch a second daily train this spring on the route between Roanoke and points to the north and east. It could happen as early as March or as late as June, according to the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority. Amtrak resumed service in Roanoke four years ago, after a 38-year hiatus, and the service has generated higher than expected ridership. [Roanoke Times, 11-11-21]
JAGUAR TRANSPORT TO OPERATE OKLAHOMA CENTRAL RAIL PARK: Jaguar Transport Holdings has agreed with Haskell Lemon Construction to operate the Oklahoma Central Rail Park in El Reno, Oklahoma. The park provides rail service to shippers who do not have their own site on a railroad, and the park connects with Union Pacific and is equipped with unit-train capacity. [Progressive Railroading, 11-11-21]
NJT COMPLETES INSTALLATION OF 558 NEW TICKET MACHINES: NJ Transit has completed installing 558 new ticket vending machines as part of the agency's fare modernization program. They feature contactless payment options, faster printers, audible and visual instructions, height adjustability, and new displays for train arrival and departure information. [Railway Age, 11-11-21]
NJT AWARDS CONTRACT FOR RENOVATIONS TO PERTH AMBOY STATION: Hall Construction Co. has been awarded a contract for major renovations to the historic Perth Amboy station. The project calls for two high-level platforms, four elevators, additional ramps and stairs, upgraded security, and other repairs. [Progressive Railroading, 11-11-21]
LIRR OPENS NEWLY-RENOVATED CARLE PLACE STATION: Long Island Rail Road's newly-renovated Carle Place Station has opened. It is the first station to be upgraded as part of the LIRR expansion project, and features a new third track, platform canopies, and other improvements. [Progressive Railroading, 11-11-21]
INTEREST GROWS FOR CHICAGO-ST. LOUIS HIGH-SPEED RAIL CORRIDOR: A project to establish a high-seed rail corridor connecting Chicago to St. Louis could see fresh enthusiasm following the passage of the federal infrastructure package. Back in August, an Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission was established to set up a task force for facilitating the 284-mile project. Trains could depart O'Hare International Airport and arrive in St. Louis two hours later. [Government Technology, 11-11-21]
RAILROADS STRUGGLE TO REGAIN WORKFORCE AFTER SLASHING THOUSANDS OF JOBS: Railroads are struggling to replenish their workforces after cutting thousands of positions at the start of the pandemic. Despite hiring efforts, employment numbers remain below what they were last year, when many of the furloughs and layoffs took place. Now that intermodal demand has rebounded to a record high, the lack of labor is affecting capacity and service. CSX and Norfolk Southern say they have gone to great lengths to expand the hiring pipeline, and they have seen some progress after boosting pay and other incentives. Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern is relying on bigger trains to add capacity without the need for more crew. [Supply Chain Dive, 11-11-21]
HYUNDAI ROTEN TO SUPPLY 40 LIGHT-RAIL VEHICLES TO EDMONTON, ALBERTA: The city of Edmonton, Alberta, has selected Hyundai Roten to supply 40 vehicles for the 8.7-mile Valley West light-rail line project. [Railway Age, 11-11-21]
AMTRAK TO RESUME RUNNING ON PORT DEFIANCE BYPASS IN WASHINGTON STATE: Amtrak will resume service along the Port Defiance Bypass route in Washington State after years of delays following the deadly 2017 derailment in Dupont. Trains will begin using the route Nov. 18. The bypass is a portion stretching from Tacoma to Nisqually Junction, intended to cut delays on the Seattle to Portland Cascades route. Use of the bypass was suspended after a train on its first paid passenger run derailed while traveling 80 MPH in a 30 MPH zone, killing three people and injuring dozens more. [KING-5, 11-10-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 504,111 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending November 6, 2021, down 3.5 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 3.1 percent, and intermodal was down 8.6 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-10-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN OPENS NEW HEADQUARTERS IN ATLANTA: Norfolk Southern has formally opened its state-of-the-art headquarters in midtown Atlanta. The 750,000-square-foot building rests on a 3.4-acre campus in Tech Square. [Norfolk Southern, 11-10-21]
UNION PACIFIC RELEASES INFO ON SEPT. 22 CONTRACTOR EMPLOYEE DEATH: A Union Pacific contractor employee was struck and killed on a site near Castorville, Texas, Sept. 22. The railroad said the employee was performing bridge work when the incident happened. [Laredo Morning Times, 11-10-21]
NTSB ISSUES REPORT ON 2018 DEATH OF CSX WELDER IN S.C.: A series of ill-fated decisions led to the 2018 death of a welder who was hit by a train going 50 MPH near Estill, S.C., the National Transportation Safety Board said in a final report. The agency found fault with CSX for using another employee to watch for oncoming trains, fault of the workers for not continuing to watch even though the work was done, and noted the mistake of the welder for taking off his reflective clothing while still on the tracks. [The State, 11-10-21]
U.K. TO ACQUIRE ITS FIRST-EVER HYDROGEN TRAIN FLEET: Alstom and British train owner Eversholt Rail have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at delivering the U.K.'s first-ever hydrogen train fleet. The two companies have agreed to share the technical and commercial information needed for Alstom to design, build, commission and support a fleet of 10 three-car hydrogen multiple units. [Progressive Railroading, 11-10-21]
MARYLAND TRANSIT SOLUTIONS SELECTED TO COMPLETE PURPLE LINE PROJECT: Purple Line Transit Partners, in partnership with the Maryland Dept. of Transportation and the Maryland Transit Administration, has selected Maryland Transit Solutions to complete the Purple Light-Rail Line project. The Purple Line is a 16-mile light-rail line with 21 stations to be built between New Carrollton and Bethesda. [Progressive Railroading, 11-9-21]
AMTRAK'S CEO IDENTIFIES TOP TWO PRIORITIES WITH NEW FUNDING: Amtrak is slated to receive $66-billion in federal funding from the infrastructure bill that was passed last week. Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said $44-billion would go directly for state grants and other rail projects, with a portion of the remaining $22-billion being used for improvement projects across the system. The project getting the largest amount of money are expected to be the Gateway Project replacing the Hudson Tunnel, and the Connecticut River Bridge Replacement Project. Rail officials said the $66-billion is a 'down payment' for the decades of underinvestment by prior administrations. Flynn noted future funding needs to happen to continue service upgrades. It cannot all stop with the current infrastructure bill. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-9-21]
FEDS PROPOSE HIATUS IN MOVEMENT OF LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS BY RAIL: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has published a notice of proposed rule-making that could suspend the transportation of liquefied natural gas by rail until more research and testing can be done to ensure the safety of moving the commodity by rail. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-9-21]
AMTRAK'S WINTER PARK EXPRESS TO RUN THIS SEASON: The Denver ski train to Colorado's Winter Park Resort will return for weekend service beginning Jan. 14, 2022. Amtrak's Winter Park Express will run each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the weekend of April 1. [Denver 9News, 11-9-21]
BNSF REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: BNSF reported third-quarter 2021 net income rose 14 percent to $1.5-billion, and total revenue climbed 12 percent to $5.8-billion, compared with the same quarter last year. Operating income increased 12 percent, and operating ratio of 59.5 percent compared with 59.7 percent a year ago. [Progressive Railroading, 11-9-21]
BRIGHTLINE TRAIN STRIKES VEHICLE IN POMPANO BEACH: A Brightline train hit a vehicle in Pompano Beach, Florida, on the rail line's first full day of service following the pandemic shutdown. A woman and her one-year-old grandchild were inside the vehicle when the train collided with the car. Both were taken to a hospital, although neither complained of injuries at the scene. [Palm Beach Post, 11-8-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-seven percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending November 7, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 19 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 11-8-21]
D.C. METRO DELAYS REOPENING OF SHADY GROVE, ROCKVILLE STATIONS UNTIL MID-JANUARY: The Washington DC Metro has delayed the reopening of the Shady Grove and Rockville stations on the Metrorail red line until mid-January. The Rockville canape replacement project was impacted by the shopping of 7000-series rail cars, necessitating the use of 32 trains of older rail cars that were being stored in the Shady Grove rail yard. [Progressive Railroading, 11-8-21]
RAIL PASSENGERS ASSN. APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: Rail Passengers Assn. applauds the work Congress put into the infrastructure bill, which marks a new era for America's passenger rail network. This will modernize vast stretches of the existing passenger rail network, undoing decades of disinvestment. Amtrak patrons will see newly-refurbished train interiors and brand new train sets, expanded and upgraded stations and platforms, additional frequencies, more convenient travel options, and new energy-efficient locomotives. They will also benefit from upgrades to our rail infrastructure that will eliminate delays, add capacity and reduce trip times. There will be new bridges, rebuilt tunnels, upgraded signals, additional sidings, crossovers and double-tracking. These upgrades will touch every part of the existing system, and hopefully lay the foundation for dozens of new corridors across the U.S. [Rail Passengers Assn., 11-6-21]
NJT ADDS TRAINS DUE TO INCREASED DEMAND:New Jersey Transit has added 22 new weekday trains and 14 weekend trains in response to increased demand. The additional trains will enhance service along the Northeast corridor, New Jersey coast line, M&E, Bergen County and Pascack Valley lines. [Progressive Railroading, 11-5-21]
CHICAGO TRANSIT INTRODUCES TRAIN SCHEME HONORING CHICAGO SKY BASKETBALL TEAM: Chicago Transit has introduced a specially-designed scheme on a Green line train honoring the Chicago Sky basketball team for its first championship win. It features the team's logo and signature blue and yellow color scheme, and will run through the end of the year. [Railway Age, 11-5-21]
PASSENGER RAIL SPEEDS INCREASING IN MICHIGAN: The Federal Railroad Administration has approved increasing passenger train speeds up to 110 MPH on a segment of line between Albion and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Speeds are expected to increase next between Jackson and Albion in FY-2022, followed by Dearborn and Ypsilanti in FY-2023, and Ypsilanti and Jackson in FY-2024. [Progressive Railroading, 11-5-21]
MONTANA OFFERING GRANTS TO REPOWER DIESEL SWITCHERS: Montana's Dept. of Environmental Quality has announced its 'Clean Engine Project,' a program offering grant funding to repower unregulated or Tier 0 switcher locomotive engines with Tier 3 engines. Offering a total of $800,000, the program aims to permanently reduce diesel emissions and diesel fuel use, as well as nitrogen oxide emissions. [Progressive Railroading, 11-5-21]
TRAIN CARS OF SMELLY TRASH PLAGUE MECHANICVILLE, N.Y.: For months, the stench of slowly decaying garbage has loomed over backyards in Mechanicville, N.Y. Pan Am, which has a rail yard just outside of town, has a contract to pick up trash from capital region companies five days a week. It is shipped to South Carolina where it is dumped into landfills. But Pan Am interchanges the cars with Norfolk Southern, which is badly understaffed. Often Norfolk Southern cannot pick up the train when it is ready, and this forces Pan Am to line up the cars in its rail yard. But when the yard gets full, Pan Am moves the smelly cars to a siding behind West street in Mechanicville. The delay is on Norfolk Southern, which declined to discuss what it is doing to resolve its staffing problem. [Albany Times-Union, 11-5-21]
REGIONAL RAIL TO OPERATE PORT MANATEE SHORT LINE: Port Manatee in Tampa Bay, Florida, and Regional Rail LLC have announced intentions for Regional Rail to operate the Port Manatee-owned short line through 2036, with options through 2051. Effective Dec. 1, Port Manatee Railroad will be operated as a subsidiary of Regional Rail. Port Manatee Railroad has been operated by the port since 1970, and encompasses seven miles of track connecting to a CSX mainline. [Progressive Railroading, 11-5-21]
MAN WHO DAMAGED RAIL SIGNAL EQUIPMENT SPARED PRISON SENTENCE: A man who damaged railroad signal equipment in Pennsylvania will not see time in a federal prison. Instead, he will serve three years of probation and pay for damages. Back in 2017, William Curry Brown took apart four railroad signal antennas from a CSX site near Braddock, Pa., and cut signal cables. He also cut signal wires attached to CSX tracks in McKeesport, Pa. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-5-21]
FLEET OF MONORAIL TRAINS ENTER SERVICE IN CHINA'S ANHUI PROVINCE: A fleet of 28 six-car Alstom Innovia monorail trains entered commercial service last month on Wuhu Rail Transit's line 1 in Anhui Province, China. The system enables the monorail to operate fully-automated, without operator or attendants. [Progressive Railroading, 11-5-21]
WABTEC TO SUPPLY 100 EVOLUTION SERIES LOCOMOTIVES TO EGYPT: Wabtec has signed contracts with Egyptian National Railways to supply 100 ES30ACi Evolution Series Locomotives with a multi-year service and maintenance agreement. [Railway Age, 11-8-21]
N.Y. GOVERNOR SHARES HER VISION OF PENN STATION PROJECT: Governor Hochul has unveiled her version of a plan to restore Pennsylvania Station in New York City. Her plan prioritizes reconstruction of the existing facility. Key features include a single-level, double-height train hall that doubles space on the new public level, a 450-foot-long sunlit train hall, simpler navigation, clear sight lines to exits and entrances, 18 additional escalators or stairs and 11 additional elevators to platforms. The plan would shave off 1.4 million square feet of development from the previous plan, decrease heights for proposed buildings and provide new design controls to protect views of the Empire State Building. [Progressive Railroading, 11-4-21]
CN BUYS BATTERY-POWERED FREIGHT LOCOMOTIVE: Canadian National has purchased a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric freight locomotive, the first 100 percent battery heavy-haul locomotive for the region. [Progressive Railroading, 11-4-12]
APPEALS COURT ORDERS REINSTATEMENT OF $500,000 JURY AWARD TO TERMINATED BNSF WORKER: A federal appeals court has ordered reinstatement of a $500,000 jury award to a terminated BNSF track inspector by reversing a lower court's ruling in favor of the railroad. The track inspector had been operating a hi-rail vehicle upon the track, but without using a seatbelt. He claimed that the seatbelt was unsafe, as it could potentially delay a speedy exit from the vehicle if a train were to suddenly approach. For not wearing his seatbelt, the employee was dismissed. [Business Insurance, 11-4-21]
TEXAS CENTRAL SEEKS $12-B FEDERAL LOAN: Texas Central, the company planning to build a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston, is hoping to obtain a Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing loan of $12-billion. Some lawmakers in Congress, however, have expressed concern that the rail company, ultimately, will leave the American taxpayers stuck with the bill with nothing having been accomplished. It was noted that the railroad is not honoring Buy America rules, still lacks authority to build the railroad, and inflation of ridership estimates. Moreover, the railroad has reneged on its earlier promise not to seek federal funding for the project. [Railway Track & Structures, 11-3-21]
OMNITRAX ASSUMES RAIL OPERATIONS AT COMMERCE CENTER IN INDIANA: OmniTRAX has officially taken over rail operations within southern Indiana's River Ridge Commerce Center. The railroad teamed with River Ridge Development Authority to further develop the rail infrastructure and tenant base of the 6000-acre industrial park that connects with CSX. [Railway Age, 11-3-21]
CN, PROGRESS RAIL TO TEST RENEWABLE FUEL BLENDS: Canadian National and Progress Rail have partnered with Renewable Energy Group to test high-level renewable blends, including both diodiesel and renewable diesel. The program will allow the companies to better understand the long-term durability and operational impacts of renewable fuels on locomotives, especially in cold weather, and plan needed modifications to fully-leverage their usage over the next decade, they said. [Progressive Railroading, 11-3-21]
OCTOBER 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads originated 2,024,528 carloads and intermodal units in October 2021, down 2.8 percent from the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 3.8 percent, and intermodal was down 7.9 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-3-21]
FIRST COMPLETED ACELA TRAIN ON ITS WAY TO AMTRAK: The Acela, the nation's first line of high-speed trains, departed from the Alstom campus in Hornell, N.Y., early Nov. 3 bound for delivery to Amtrak. It is the first completed train set to leave from Alstom following the deployment earlier of two test trains. [Hornell Evening Tribune, 11-3-21]
QUEENSLAND TO INVEST IN NEW PASSENGER RAIL FLEET: Queensland in Australia has confirmed a rollingstock expansion program to manufacture trains in the state as it gears up to host the 2032 Olympic Games. The state announced that 65 new six-car passenger train sets will be built at a new facility at Torbanlea outside of Maryborough. The new trains will be used on the southeastern Queensland network, and the first sets are expected to enter service in 2025. [International Railway Journal, 11-3-21]
PA. AWARDS $8.7-M FOR GREEN LOCOMOTIVE POWER: Pennsylvania's governor has awarded $8.7-million to three entities under the Marine and Rail Freight Movers grant program that will replace older diesel-powered switches with 'green' power. Recipients are U.S. Steel, Bessemer & Lake Erie, and SEPTA. [Railway Age, 11-2-21]
VIA RAIL TO REQUIRE PROOF OF VACCINATION FOR PASSENGERS: In accordance with government policy, VIA Rail Canada will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all passengers 12-years-old and above. The policy took effect Oct. 30, but for the first month they will only be required to have a negative test within 72 hours of travel. Beginning Nov. 30, passengers must be fully-vaccinated. Masks will still be required on VIA trains and in stations, regardless of vaccination status, and each passenger must also complete a pre-boarding health check. VIA employees must have had at least their first dose by Nov. 15 or be put on administrative leave. [Progressive Railroading, 11-2-21]
GROUND BROKEN FOR CONSTRUCTION OF METRA'S PETERSON RIDGE STATION: Ground has been broken on construction of a $19-million Peterson Ridge Metra station in Edgewater, Illinois. It is along the Union Pacific North line, and will take about 18 months to complete. Renovation work on nearby bridges over Peterson and Ridge avenues will cost another $3-million. [Progressive Railroading, 11-2-21]
RHOMBERG SERSA ACQUIRES TRACK SOLUTIONS OPERATIONS FROM BALFOUR BEATTY: Balfour Beatty has sold its U.S. track solutions operations to Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group for $7.25-million. The track solutions operations provide niche services for the rail sector. [Progressive Railroading, 11-2-21]
METRO-NORTH COMPLETES $95-M RENEWAL OF WHITE PLAINS STATION: Metro-North has completed a $95-million renewal of its Harlem line station in White Plains, N.Y., the railroad's third largest station. In addition to numerous station upgrades, the side and island platforms have been extended to increase capacity. [Railway Age, 11-2-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN IOWA: About 20 cars of a Union Pacific train derailed late Oct 29 where the line crosses Middle River about a mile east of Carlisle, Iowa. One car went down the riverbank and leaked polyethylene pellets into the river. Hazardous materials crews were continuing to clean up the area as of Nov. 2. [Des Moines Register, 11-2-21]
CP SUES SASKATCHEWAN TO RECOVER $341-M IN PROVINCIAL TAXES: Canadian Pacific is suing the Saskatchewan government for $341-million (C), arguing it does not have to pay provincial taxes due to a 141-year-old contract exempting it from taxation of its historic main line. In fact, the railroad has paid those taxes for a century, but is seeking to recover what it calls unconstitutional taxes going back to 2002. The province claims the railroad gave up its exemption decades ago, but the railroad says it only agreed to forgo the exemption from municipal taxation, which it did in 1966, voluntarily, and not provincial taxes. [Regina Leader-Post, 11-2-21]
BRITISH TRAIN COLLISION INJURES 14: British authorities on Nov. 1 were investigating the crash of two passenger trains that left 14 injured, including a train operator who was seriously hurt. The rear car of a train derailed Sept. 31 as it approached the station in Salisbury, and a second train crashed into the derailed train. [Washington Post, 11-1-21]
OCTOBER 2021 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE REPORT: Thirty-nine percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in October 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 24 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 11-1-21]
AMTRAK ROLLING OUT NEW TICKET KIOSKS: Amtrak is introducing more than 200 new ticket kiosks in over 150 stations across the system. They feature an updated user interface that will require only minimum touch, and can be activated by touch, card swipe, barcode scan or headset insertion. Updates enable riders to pick their departure from any station and pick reserved space. Future updates will include contactless payment and sending tickets to E-mail addresses. Existing Quik-Trak kiosks, which have been in service for nearly 20 years, will be retired by the end of this year. [Progressive Railroading, 11-1-21]
SEPTA, TRANSIT WORKERS UNION REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT: SEPTA has reached a tentative contract agreement with Transit Workers Union Local 234, one of the largest unions representing the rail agency's employees. The agreement, which is pending ratification, includes wage increases, a pandemic payment, paid parental leave, and Juneteenth as a new paid holiday. [Progressive Railroading, 11-1-21]
LEGISLATION INTRODUCED TO END PASSENGER RAIL FORCED ARBITRATION: Three Congressional representatives have introduced the 'Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act,' the purpose of which is to give customers the right to sue Amtrak to resolve disputes by eliminating the current arbitration clause for dispute resolution that passengers are forced to accept when purchasing an Amtrak ticket. [Railway Age, 11-1-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN SUED BY TWO UNIONS OVER VACCINE POLICY: Two unions have responded to the suit Norfolk Southern filed against them on Oct. 21. The unions responded to the railroad's claims and filed counterclaims challenging the railroad's action in implementing its vaccine policy. The unions claim a mandatory vaccine must be negotiated under the Railway Labor Act. [Progressive Railroading, 11-1-21]
CP EXPANDS HYDROGEN LOCOMOTIVE PROGRAM: Canadian Pacific will expand the scope of its hydrogen locomotive program with a $15-million grant announced by Emissions Reduction Alberta. The grant enables CP to increase the number of hydrogen locomotive conversions in the project from one to three, and add hydrogen production and fueling facilities. CP is receiving a 50-50 matching grant from ERA's shovel-ready challenge program. [CP, 11-1-21]
CLASS I RAIL EMPLOYMENT FELL IN SEPT.: U.S. class I railroads employed a total of 114,218 people in mid-September, down 0.19 percent compared to mid-August's employment level, and down 3.31 percent year-over-year, according to Surface Transportation Board data. [Progressive Railroading, 11-1-21]
CP, KCS FILE MERGER APPLICATION: Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern have jointly filed a railroad control application with the Surface Transportation Board regarding their proposed merger. The new entity would be called Canadian Pacific Kansas City. The application provides an overview of the proposed operational integration, the impact of the consolidation on the companies' finances and labor needs, and other benefits. [Progressive Railroading, 11-1-21]
SHORTAGE OF EMPLOYEES RISKS CUTS IN AMTRAK SERVICE: Amtrak is acknowledging that there is a shortage of personnel to run its trains, and it is likely to get worse. The 'Date of Doom,' previously Nov. 22, had been when Amtrak intended to remove from service any staff who are not vaccinated against the COVID virus (or who do not have an acceptable exemption). This deadline has since been extended to Dec. 8. This adds some time to get past the Thanksgiving period, and it also adds time to increase the pace of hiring and training. But another problem is that the company in 2020 furloughed staff to cope with decreased passenger volumes in the wake of cutting trains to three times a week, and at the same time shut down the recruitment pipeline for new staff. Amtrak did this not knowing whether the COVID crisis would abate, and not knowing where or what its next appropriation was coming from. New employees (if they can be found) will need to be trained, and this will take time. Meanwhile, Amtrak is warning that a staff shortage could lead to more service cuts in the next few weeks. [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 10-30-21]
AMTRAK TRAIN STRIKES VEHICLE IN S.C., THREE KILLED, ONE INJURED: Authorities say three people were killed and a fourth person was injured after a vehicle was struck by an Amtrak train early Oct. 30 in North Charleston, S.C. The train was carrying 500 passengers, none of whom were injured. Damage to the train is being assessed by Amtrak. [WCSC, 10-30-21]
AMTRAK, NABTU SIGN WORKFORCE MOU: Amtrak and North America's Building Trades Unions have signed a workforce memorandum of understanding that promotes a 'pipeline of U.S. union construction workers to build and expand passenger rail.' NABTU represents more than three million skilled craft professionals. Amtrak and its construction partners will work with NABTU to accelerate apprenticeship readiness programs, promote diversity, and ensure fair wages and benefits for the construction workforce on their projects. [Railway Age, 10-29-21]
LIRR COMPLETES REPLACEMENT OF ELECTRICAL SUBSTATION IN NEW CASSEL: Replacement of a 40-year-old electrical substation in New Cassel has been completed, one of eight along the Long Island Rail Road main line corridor being replaced or upgraded as part of the LIRR expansion project between Floral Park and Hicksville, N.Y. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-29-21]
SEPTA LAUNCHES DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR RAIL TRANSIT: SEPTA has launched its new Transit Supportive Community Development program. Part of the agency's Forward Strategic Plan, the program is designed to improve access to public transit, increase equity and ridership, enhance local economies and reduce reliance on personal vehicles. [Progressive Railroading, 10-29-21]
OMNITRAX PROMOTES TWO KEY OFFICERS: OmniTRAX on Oct. 28 reported that its president Sergio Sabatini will be taking on the additional role of chief operating officer, replacing Gord Anutooshkin, who is leaving the company at the end of the year. In addition, John Bradley is assuming an expanded role as a senior vice-president. [Railway Age, 10-29-21]
RAILROAD RETIREMENT ANNUITIES TO INCREASE: Most railroad retirement annuities will increase in Jan. 2022 due to a rise in the consumer price index from the third-quarter of 2020 to the corresponding period of the current year. Tier I benefits will increase by 5.9 percent. This is the first time the tier I increase has been over 5 percent since Jan. 2009, when it was 5.8 percent. [Railroad Retirement Board, 10-29-21]
ONE INJURED AS AMTRAK TRAIN STRIKES GARBAGE TRUCK IN IOWA: The driver of a garbage truck was in serious condition after his truck was struck by an Amtrak train near Albia, Iowa, Oct. 27. The train's engineer had minor injuries, but did not go to a hospital. The train was delayed for several hours. [, 10-28-21]
D.C. METRORAIL NEEDS IMPROVED TRACTION POWER PROGRAMS, AUDIT FINDS: A Washington DC Metrorail Safety Commission audit of the area transit authority's Metrorail high-voltage and traction programs uncovered several areas in which the agency must develop corrective action plans to improve safety. While the agency did make significant improvements since 2016, there are additional areas where it is not meeting its own written requirements, does not have adequate procedures, processes or requirements, or does not have adequate training, coordination and supervision, the safety commission said. A corrective action plan is required in response to each finding by Nov. 26. [Progressive Railroading, 10-28-21]
VIETNAM APPROVES PLANS FOR NINE NEW RAIL LINES: Vietnam has signed its formal approval for plans to be drawn up for nine new railway lines totaling over 1460 miles. Design work is scheduled to be completed by 2030, with opening by 2050. [Railway Gazette, 10-28-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern reported third-quarter net income of $753-million, diluted earnings per share of $3.06, income from railway operations of $1.1-billion, and an operating ratio of 60.2 percent. Railway operating revenues of $2.85-billion increased 14 percent compared with the same quarter last year, driven by a 14 percent increase in revenue per unit. [Norfolk Southern, 10-27-21]
TOM DAVIS DIES, OWNER OF RAILFAN-STYLE B&B IN CRESSON, PA.: Thomas A. Davis, a retired educator who opened a bed-and-breakfast facility catering to railroad fans next to the x-PRR (now Norfolk Southern) line in Cresson, Pa., in 1993, died Oct. 5, 2021. Known as the Station Inn, the 1860's-era railroad hotel became a go-to place for railroad fans from around the world. While anyone could stay there, the proprietor made no secret of the need to enjoy the numerous passing of trains throughout the day and night as his preferred clientele. Sleeping was optional, as some of his guests were known to remain on the inn's spacious front porch throughout the night to avail of the splendor of the many trains. His father was a B&O dining-car steward, and this helped sow the seeds of his lifelong interest in trains. Tom Davis will be remembered in a memorial service in his honor sometime in April 2022, according to his family. The intent is to hopefully sell the establishment to someone with similar interests to continue the inn's legacy as a haven for railfans.
FEDS REPORT 'STEADY STREAM OF COMPLAINTS' ABOUT CSX'S SERVICE LEVEL: Before CSX reported third-quarter earnings, its CEO received a letter from the Surface Transportation Board questioning its service level for customers. Over the past several months the board had continued to receive a 'steady stream' of complaints about the adequacy of rail service provided by the carrier. The complaints were not limited to any particular region or confined to a specific commodity group, and some customers said that service problems were sometimes resolved, only to recur later. CEO James Foote said it was 'unfortunate' to get the letter, but said his company will deal with it, and try and address any customer issues. [Jacksonville Daily Record, 10-27-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 510,762 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending October 23, 2021, down 2.3 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 5.1 percent, and intermodal was down 8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-27-21]
BRIGHTLINE UNVEILS DOOR-TO-DOOR TRANSIT BOOKING SERVICE: Brightline has announced its new Brightline+ app, which will include a fully-electric mobility fleet that offers door-to-door transit service. The app will enable riders to book multiple modes of transportation for every step of their rail journey, and will focus on eco-friendly modes of private and public transit, including a fleet of Tesla cars and electric shared shuttles. [Progressive Railroading, 10-27-21]
AUXO ACQUIRES GENESIS RAIL SERVICES: Auxo Investment Partners has acquired Genesis Rail Services, a full-service railroad maintenance company based in Bluefield, W.Va., and Roanoke, Va. Cody Harman, son of the company founder, will retain a minority ownership stake in the company and continue in his rule of running day-to-day operations. [Progressive Railroading, 10-27-21]
TREX TO BUILD RAIL-SERVED PLANT AT LITTLE ROCK PORT: Trex, a wood-alternative decking company, has announced plans to build a new factory at the Port of Little Rock. The port will convey 290 acres to Trex to build the facility, and Trex must meet certain benchmarks regarding construction timeline, total employment and the usage of rail cars. The port's rail service is provided by the Port of Little Rock Railroad, which has the ability to switch between BNSF and Union Pacific. [Progressive Railroading, 10-27-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN DONATES SOUTHERN RAILWAY ARCHIVES TO ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER: Norfolk Southern has donated the full Southern Railway archives - hundreds of thousands of pages of documents - from photos to construction plans and reports - to the Atlanta History Center. Norfolk Southern has also donated $500,000 to help the center digitize and preserve the collection. Southern Railway merged with Norfolk & Western in 1982 to create the present-day Norfolk Southern. [Progressive Railroading, 10-26-21]
MADISON, WISCONSIN, 'CRITICAL MARKET' FOR CHICAGO-TWIN CITIES HSR, FEDS SAY: Madison, Wisconsin, will be a 'critical market' in any high-speed passenger rail corridor between Chicago and the Twin Cities via Milwaukee should the project go forward, a new federal study says. The corridor could see train speeds of at least 125 MPH, electric-powered engines, and dedicated tracks, the Federal Railroad Administration says in its long-term plan for the Midwest through 2055. [Wisconsin State Journal, 10-26-21]
KCS TO SERVE MAJOR MEXICAN VEHICLE DISTRIBUTION CENTER: Kansas City Southern has announced a collaboration with two partners to develop the Central Bajio Vehicle Distribution Center in Mexico, an origin and destination terminal for the shipment of finished vehicles. Strategically located on a KCS mainline, the center, with a capacity for up to 10,000 vehicles, will serve the rapidly-growing Bajio region and strong Mexico City area demand, KCS says. [Progressive Railroading, 10-26-21]
UNION PACIFIC TAKES STEPS TO STEM SUPPLY CHAIN BACKLOG AT WEST COAST PORTS: Union Pacific is taking added steps aimed at reducing the supply chain backlog and speeding up the flow of goods to and from West Coast ports. It will run a pilot program through the end of the year offering a $60 per container refund to its ocean carrier customers for each container in-gated on Saturdays and Sundays at its transfer facility in Long Beach. The refund will apply to containers in-gated incremental to each customer's current 2021 weekend average. [Progressive Railroading, 10-26-21]
NTSB ISSUES PRELIMINARY REPORT ON EMPIRE BUILDER DERAILMENT IN MONTANA: A preliminary report on the Amtrak Empire Builder derailment in Montana last month that killed three and injured dozens more offered no clues as to what triggered the accident. Amtrak estimated damage at more than $22-million. There were 154 people on board and 44 passengers and crew were taken to hospitals with injuries. Passengers without serious injuries wee bused to the nearby town of Chester, where residents provided food and other aid. The train was traveling at between 75 and 78 MPH, just below the 79 MPH speed limit. The two locomotives and two rail cars remained on the rails, and eight cars derailed. NTSB said it was still very early in the investigation, and the agency typically takes one to two years to determine accident causes. [Seattle Times, 10-26-21]
GROUND BROKEN ON $65-M COATESVILLE, PA., RAIL STATION PROJECT: Ground was broken Oct. 22 on a $65-million Coatesville, Pa., passenger rail project. The new station will be built just east of the existing historic depot, which has been closed for more than 25 years and is located on a curve preventing construction of ADA-accessible platforms. The project will include 530-foot-long high-level platforms with canopies, elevators, ramps, lighting, parking, and a bypass track to facilitate freight trains passing the new platforms. [Railway Age, 10-25-21]
TRAX GREEN LINE STATION OPENED AT SALT LAKE CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Grand opening of the UTA's Green line TRAX station at the Salt Lake City International Airport took place Oct. 25. [Railway Age, 10-25-21]
TTCI TO ESTABLISH TRAINING, TESTING FACILITY IN PUEBLO, COLORADO: Transportation Technology Center Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads, has announced it is establishing an independent training and on-track testing facility in Pueblo, Colorado, to be operational in 2022. It will be capable of meeting the needs of today's rail industry and testing tomorrow's solutions, TTCI officials said. [Progressive Railroading, 10-25-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-six percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending October 24, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 16 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 10-25-21]
METRA ASKS JUDGE TO RECONSIDER UNION PACIFIC COMMUTER SERVICE RULING: Metra has asked the judge who ruled last month that Union Pacific is not mandated to operate Metra trains on its lines in the Chicago area to reconsider that ruling on grounds he 'overlooked or misapplied certain key factual allegations and exhibits.' Metra maintains that a 2017 agreement created an obligation independent of any common carrier obligation and which remains in place despite having expired. Metra asserted the agreement bound Union Pacific to keep up service for the 'useful life of the improvements,' paid for by Metra, made to the freight and commuter services on one of the lines in question. Metra said it paid $45-million to Union Pacific for the improvements. [Cook County Record, 10-25-21]
AMTRAK'S PACIFIC SURFLINER SERVICE EXPANDING: Beginning October 25, one additional round-trip will be added to the length of the San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail corridor. Amtrak touts this and other schedule changes to its Pacific Surfliner service as one of the largest schedule changes in years. The schedule builds on the partial service restoration that was implemented back in June. Also, it moves towards 'pulsed' schedules, which more evenly distributes trains to provide maximum service coverage. [Amtrak]
GROUND BROKEN ON BALTIMORE PENN STATION PROJECT: Ground was broken Oct. 22 for the redevelopment and expansion of the historic Penn Station in Baltimore. Amtrak, which is investing $150-million in the project, executed a master development agreement with Penn Station Partners in 2019. The master conceptual plan first calls for the full historic preservation of the station, which was built in 1911. The development team will make vital core and shell improvements. Meanwhile, Amtrak is making platform improvements to accommodate its new Acela trains, which are scheduled to be put into service next year. A low-level platform is being rebuilt into a high-level one, and another platform is being built. This work, along with a renewed overhead electrical system and an upgraded 30-mile stretch of track between Baltimore and Washington, will enable operation at higher speeds. [Railway Age, 10-22-21]
BRIGHTLINE WEST PROJECT MOVES FORWARD: The planned $8-billion Brightline West high-speed rail line is another step closer to connecting Las Vegas with southern California. Brightline reported that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the California State Transportation Agency, California Dept. of Transportation, and California High-Speed Rail Authority, setting the framework for using 48 miles within Interstate 15 to link its Victor Valley station and its newly-planned Cucamonga station. The city of Rancho Cucamonga is currently designing a multi-modal station as part of a new transit district to include existing Metrolink platforms and a planned underground tunnel to Ontario International Airport. [Railway Age, 10-22-21]
TEXAS CENTRAL GETS TO PRESENT ITS EMINENT DOMAIN CASE IN JANUARY: The Texas Supreme Court has changed course on a case involving the Texas Central high-speed rail project. After earlier declining the case, the court has decided to take it on after reviewing a petition from a landowner. The case centers around whether or not Texas Central is legally a 'railroad company.' If it is, then it has eminent domain authority to acquire property for the rail line to connect Dallas with Houston. Oral arguments are set to take place Jan. 11, 2022. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-22-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN SUES TO PREVENT UNIONS FROM SUING, PICKETING OVER COVID VACCINE MANDATE: Norfolk Southern has filed a lawsuit seeking to block its employees' unions from suing over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and to prevent its workers from striking or picketing in protest of the requirement. The railroad says President Biden's executive order requiring federal contractors to mandate vaccines for workers requires the company's obligation to impose its vaccine order. [Reuters, 10-22-21]
UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific reported third-quarter 2021 net income of $1.7-billion or $2.57 per diluted share, compared with $1.46-billion or $2.01 per diluted share in the same quarter last year. Operating revenue of $5.6-billion was up 13 percent. Operating income of $2.4-billion was up 20 percent. Operating ratio was 56.3 percent. [Union Pacific, 10-21-21]
BRIGHTLINE TO RESTORE SERVICE NOV. 8: Brightline will restore service on its 67-mile line between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach on Nov. 8, offering new fare options and amenities. Service had been suspended March 25 of last year due to the pandemic. [Railway Age, 10-21-21]
VANCOUVER'S TRANSLINK PROPOSES QUADRUPLING ITS RAPID TRANSIT NETWORK: Translink has proposed quadrupling the size of its existing 62-mile Vancouver, B.C., rapid transit network by an additional 193 miles outlined in a regional transportation strategy. It envisages the construction of additional SkyTrain, metro, light-rail or bus rapid transit routes. [International Railway Journal, 10-21-21]
UNION PACIFIC, UNIONS SUE EACH OTHER OVER CORONAVIRUS VACCINE REQUIREMENT: Union Pacific and its labor unions are suing each other to determine whether the railroad has the authority to require its employees to get COVID vaccinations. The unions argue that the company should have negotiated with them before announcing it would require all workers to get the shots. The railroad contends that it has the authority under its existing contracts because it can set standards for when employees are fit for duty. Union Pacific announced this month that it would require all workers to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 to comply with President Biden's executive order requiring all federal contractors to have their employees vaccinated. [AP News 10-20-21]
CP REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific reported its third-quarter 2021 revenue rose 4 percent to $1.94-billion (C) and net income fell 21 percent to $472-million compared to the same period last year. The company posted diluted EPS of 70 cents, down 20 percent, and adjusted diluted EPS of 88 cents, up 7 percent. Operating ratio, which includes KCS acquisition-related costs, rose from 58.2 percent to 60.2 percent. [Progressive Railroading, 10-20-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 496,983 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending October 16, 2021, down 4.2 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 1.2 percent, and intermodal was down 8.5 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-20-21]
CSX REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: CSX reported third-quarter 2021 net earnings of $968-million or 43 cents per share, compared with the same quarter last year of $736-million or 32 cents per share. Operating ratio of 56.4 percent compared with 56.9 percent. Revenue increased 24 percent to $3.29-billion. [CSX, 10-20-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO REQUIRE EMPLOYEES TO GET COVID VACCINE: Norfolk Southern has notified its workers that it will require them to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by Dec. 8. The company follows Union Pacific in taking similar action. [Railway Age, 10-20-21]
CONGESTION INCREASES AT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PORTS: The Port of Los Angeles hit another record cargo month in September 2021, bringing the port's year-to-date growth to 26 percent over the previous year. On Oct. 19, there were 159 vessels in port for both the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Ninety-six of these vessels were at anchor outside the ports where they may wait for days before being called in for processing. [Daily Breeze, 10-20-21]
KCS REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: Kansas City Southern reported third-quarter 2021 revenues of $744.0-million, an increase of 13 percent from the third-quarter 2020. Overall, carload volumes were down 3 percent compared to the prior year. Operating expenses were $492.1-million, including $36.5-million in merger costs. Net income was $156.5-million or $1.71 per diluted share. Operating ratio was 66.1 percent. [Kansas City Southern, 10-19-21]
METRO NORTH TO INTRODUCE BICYCLE-STORAGE AT GCT: Metro-North will launch a pilot bicycle-storage program at Grand Central Terminal in New York beginning in November. Installed will be a six-space secure biking storage unit at the terminal's former taxiway space, which has not been used by taxis since 2001. The pilot program will run for a year. Use of the pad will require a reservation through membership with Oonee, a Brooklyn-based startup. [Progressive Railroading, 10-19-21]
VIA RAIL ANNOUNCES FINAL PHASE OF GRADUAL SERVICE RESUMPTION PLAN: VIA Rail Canada has announced the final phase of its gradual service resumption plan with new frequencies being added in December and full operations across the country to return by the end of June 2022. VIA is finalizing details, including access to the infrastructure. [Progressive Railroading, 10-19-21]
SEPTA TO STUDY REGIONAL RAIL MASTERPLAN: SEPTA has selected Huitt-Zollers to conduct an 18-month study to create a regional rail network masterplan as part of the three-year general planning contract. Examined will be service patterns, fares, equipment, stations, infrastructure and operations for ways to integrate commuter rail, heavy-rail, light-rail and bus networks. [Progressive Railroading, 10-19-21]
CN'S CEO TO RETIRE: Canadian National's CEO J.J. Ruest is retiring rather than stay to fight against an investor who has been pushing for his ouster. His retirement is at the end of January, and the company's announcement did not mention the pressure it is facing from the London-based investment firm TCI Fund. [AP News, 10-19-21]
CN REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: Canadian National reported its third-quarter earnings showing strong performance across nearly all key metrics, with adjusted diluted EPS of $1.52 (C), up 10 percent, adjusted operating ratio of 59 percent, and revenues of $3.6-billion, up 5 percent over the same quarter last year. Operating income of $1.34-billion was an increase of 8 percent on an adjusted basis. [CN. 10-19-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-four percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending October 17, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 10 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 10-18-21]
D.C. METRO REMOVES ALL 7000-SERIES RAILCARS FROM SERVICE: Washington DC Metro removed all of its 7000-series railcars from service Oct. 17 following a safety commission order in response to the Oct. 12 derailment in Virginia. An investigation determined that an axle of one of those cars was out of compliance with 7000-series specifications, and further that some other 7000-series cars not involved in the incident had similar defects. The agency estimates that the 7000-series cars will remain out of service until at least Oct. 24, and reduced service will result. [Railway Age, 10-18-21]
UNION PACIFIC MOVES HISTORIC MILITARY VEHICLE: Union Pacific recently shipped the military vehicle that had pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Subsidiary Loop Logistics provided a first and final mile transportation solution of the 140,000-pound M88A2 Hercules. The Army had solicited bids to move the vehicle from Blount Island, Florida, to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. [Progressive Railroading, 10-18-21]
TEXAS INVESTORS PLAN DEVELOPMENT OF STATIONS FOR DALLAS-HOUSTON HSR: Texas investors intend to form an entity to develop train stations in the planned Dallas-Houston high-speed rail corridor. To be known as the Texas High-Speed Rail Station Development Corp., the entity will be independently owned and separate from Texas Central, the company pursuing the project to build and operate the high-speed rail line. [Progressive Railroading, 10-15-21]
EXPANSION OF TRANSIT IN UTAH BEING STUDIED: The Utah cities of Provo, Springville, Mapleton, Spanish Fork, Salem, Payson and Santaquin, in collaboration with the Mountainland Assn. of Governments and Utah Dept. of Transportation, have been conducting the South Valley Transit study to evaluate options for providing high-capacity transit service in the southern part o Utah County, Utah. [Railway Age, 10-15-21]
TIGER COOL EXPRESS TO PURCHASE FORMER UNION PACIFIC WAREHOUSE IN KANSAS: Tiger Cool Express in Overland Park, Kansas, has signed a letter of intent to purchase the former Union Pacific Cold Connect warehouse and develop an adjacent intermodal ramp. The new Tiger Tri-Cities Logistics Center will initially offer service between Wallula and the Northwest Seaport Alliance on-dock facilities for dry and reefer exports, as well as between Wallula and Chicago. Service is expected to eventually expand into other markets, such as the Interstate 5 corridor and Mexico, according to the company. [Railway Age, 10-15-21]
WABTEC OPENS RAIL ENGINEERING LAB IN INDIA: Wabtec has inaugurated a global engineering lab in Bengaluru, India, to enable rail component design and performance. The objective of the facility is to characterize the performance, understand the failures, predict the service life of components, and validate design improvements. [Progressive Railroading, 10-15-21]
FEDS RELEASE MIDWEST REGIONAL RAIL PLAN: Federal Railroad Administration officials have released its 'Midwest Regional Rail Plan,' a 40-year framework for restoring, modernizing and expanding the existing intercity passenger rail network in 12 midwest states. It examines the potential for developing and optimizing intercity passenger rail connections through 2055, prioritizing corridors and investment projects, funding strategies and governance structures. [Progressive Railroading, 10-14-21]
D.C. METRO TRAIN DERAILS IN VIRGINIA: A Washington DC Metro Blue line train derailed late Oct. 12 in a tunnel between the Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn stations in Virginia. Officials said 187 passengers were evacuated by walking one-quarter of a mile to the Arlington Cemetery station. One passenger was hospitalized due to anxiety. Service was then suspended between the Pentagon and Rosslyn. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-14-21]
NJT APPROVES CONTRACT FOR NEW PORTAL NORTH BRIDGE: New Jersey Transit's board has approved a $1.56-billion contract with a joint venture for the construction of a new Portal North Bridge. It will be a two-track, fixed-span structure 50 feet above the Hackensack River allowing marine traffic to pass underneath without interrupting Northeast corridor rail traffic. Work is expected to take about five and one-half years to complete. [Progressive Railroading, 10-13-21]
SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS BEGIN ON METRO-NORTH'S BREAKNECK RIDGE STATION: Metro-North has begun making safety improvements on its Breakneck Ridge station in Fishkill, N.Y. When completed by year's end, the station will be able to reopen as a weekend stop on the Hudson line. The work is a step toward the redesign of the Route 9D corridor known as the 'Breakneck Connector.' That segment will mark the first mile of the planned 7.5-mile Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail Linear Park when it undergoes construction next year. [Progressive Railroading, 10-13-21]
GREENBRIER COMPANIES ACQUIRE MORE THAN 3,600 RAIL CARS: The Greenbrier Companies has acquired more than 3600 rail cars, a portion of which will be held by subsidiary GBX Leasing. The acquisition advances Greenbrier's strategy to increase the scale of its lease fleet assets. [Railway Age, 10-13-21]
SEPTA'S KING OF PRUSSIA RAIL PROJECT ADVANCES: SEPTA's King of Prussia Rail project has been admitted to the project development phase under the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grant program. The project calls for extending the existing Norristown High Speed line four miles into King of Prussia. [Progressive Railroading, 10-13-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads originated 506,642 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending October 9, 2021, down 2.6 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 4 percent, and intermodal was down 7.8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-13-21]
DEBATE EMERGES OVER ELECTRIFYING CALIFORNIA'S HIGH-SPEED RAIL ROUTE: A new and fundamental debate has emerged in the battle over California's high-speed rail project and whether the trains will even be high-speed at all. At the center of the dispute is how soon to electrify the line, which officials say is necessary to make the trains 'high-speed.' The governor has included the funding in his state budget, but negotiations between the administration and the state legislature have stalled. [AP Mews, 10-13-21]
FLORIDA GRANTS $9.4-M FOR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS AT CSX-SERVED INTERMODAL CENTER: The city of Winter Haven, Florida, will receive $9.4-million in state grants for road improvements at the CSX-served Intermodal Logistics Center. [Progressive Railroading, 10-12-21]
AMTRAK TRAIN IN WASHINGTON STATE DERAILS, NO INJURIES: A wheel of a slow-traveling (15 MPH at the time) Amtrak train came off the track Oct. 11 near Woodland, Washington, between Vancouver and Kelso. No passengers were injured. The train was en route to Seattle. [AP News, 10-12-21]
THE ANDERSONS TO LEASE GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY AT PORT OF OSWEGO, N.Y.: The Andersons Inc. has entered into an agreement with the CSX-served Port of Oswego, N.Y., to lease a 780,000-bushel grain storage facility at the port's Grain Export Center. The port is the state's only port on Lake Ontario. [Progressive Railroading, 10-12-21]
TOURIST TRAIN DERAILS IN N.C.: A Great Smoky Mountains Railroad tourist train left the tracks Oct. 9 as it was making its way to the Bryson City depot from the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. Several cars derailed, with at least one of them leaning over Lake Fontana. Heavy rain in the region might have led to rails folding over, causing the derailment. No one was injured. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-12-21]
KIWIRAIL ORDERS 57 STADLER DIESEL LOCOMOTIVES: KiwiRail in New Zealand has selected Stadler to supply its next generation of main line diesel locomotives, placing an order for an initial 57 to be deployed on freight and passenger services on the South Island's 'challenging' routes. [Railway Gazette, 10-12-21]
BRIGHTLINE AIMS TO BEGIN MIAMI-ORLANDO-TAMPA SERVICE BY 2028: Brightline officials hope to begin higher-speed passenger rail service along an $8-billion, 320-mile network stretching from Miami to Orlando to Tampa by 2028, according to a Florida Today article. Brightline is currently installing more than 70 miles of track along two corridors in Brevard County. The north-south FEC line from Cocoa to the St. Sebastian River is under reconstruction as a double-track corridor, and a new single set of track is being laid down along the east-west stretch from Cocoa to St. Johns River. [Progressive Railroading, 10-11-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-one percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending October 10, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 14 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 10-11-21]
CN TRAINS DERAIL IN SARNIA YARD: Canadian National is investigating the cause of train derailments in Sarnia, Ontario, Oct. 10. Crews responded after two trains derailed while in an upright position at the company's Sarnia Yard. The railroad said there was a minor fuel leak, but that it was addressed. [CBC, 10-11-12]
KCS PARTNERS WITH COMMTREX TO BOOST TRANSLOADING, EFFICIENCY: Kansas City Southern has engaged Commtrex to enhance the visibility and connectivity of the railroad's network over 100 transload facilities in the U.S. and Mexico using the Commtrex platform. It allows shippers to search for transload centers by location, commodities handled, services provided and other parameters to develop their freight rail options. [KCS, 10-11-21]
BNSF WORKING TO REOPEN MAIN LINE IN CALIFORNIA, OREGON FOLLOWING FIRE DAMAGE: BNSF's Gateway subdivision has been out of service since July 21 due to the Dixie Fire. Two bridges and a tunnel were damaged between Stockton, California, and Klamath Falls, Oregon. The railroad detoured traffic through Denver, Amarillo and Barstow. BNSF now expects to have a portion of the Gateway main line back in service by late October. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-8-21]
'RAIL READY SITES' DESIGNATED ON ALABAMA & TENNESSEE RIVER RAILWAY: OmniTRAX is launching Rail Ready sites on the Alabama & Tennessee River Railway, with support from local economic development partners. The Rail Ready Sites program connects companies looking to maximize supply chain performance with rail-served products conducive to industrial development. Sites that span the 120 miles from Birmingham to Guntersville, Alabama, with transload and multimodal options and connections to CSX and Norfolk Southern are being marketed. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-8-21]
PORT CONGESTION CONTINUES: Close to 75 ships were waiting at anchor to enter the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recently, up from around 25 just a month earlier. Backups are spreading to East Coast ports as well. Pandemic infections in Asia have slowed the loading of U.S.-bound vessels, while shortages of equipment, labor and outbound rail and truck capacity have continued to build congestion at U.S. ports. [Progressive Railroading, 10-8-21]
CSX INTRODUCES RESPONDER INCIDENT TRAINING TRAIN: CSX announced on Oct. 8 the launch of its Responder Incident Training train, a new leading-edge train designed to deliver advanced, tailored hazardous materials safety training events for emergency first-responders throughout its rail network. It will be added to the suite of resources CSX utilizes to educate railroad employees, customers, contractors and emergency responders. The train will be based in Jacksonville, Florida, when not positioned in use along its network, and includes technologically advanced equipment, along with a custom-built mobile classroom. [CSX, 10-8-21]
BERNHARD CAPITAL PARTNERS TO ACQUIRE RAILWORKS CORP.: Infrastructure-focused private equity manager Bernhard Capital Partners has agreed to acquire infrastructure contractor RailWorks Corp from Chicago-based private equity firm Wind Point Partners. [Railway Gazette, 10-8-21]*
HONOLULU RAPID TRANSIT DESPERATE FOR WELDERS FOR TRACK WORK: Officials at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit say they are unable to find any qualified welders to make repairs to their tracks. They recently issued a request-for-proposal to companies to submit bids, but there were no bidders. The problem seems to be that the wheel flanges on the rail cars are about one-half inch narrower than the frogs where lines cross, making it difficult for trains to navigate the crossover switches, which they may do but at no more than 5 MPH. If a way cannot be found to repair the frogs, they may have to be replaced, which would be expensive and cause a significant project delay. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-7-21]
UNION PACIFIC ADDING FIVE AUTONOMOUS CRANES TO GLOBAL 4 TERMINAL IN ILLINOIS: Union Pacific has purchased five autonomous cranes as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gases an streamline the loading and unloading process at its Chicago-area terminal. The company will start testing the cranes, which rely on artificial intelligence to semi-autonomously load and unload intermodal containers onto trucks, next year at its Global 4 intermodal terminal in Joliet, Illinois. Skilled workers will still be required to supervise the crane as it lowers containers. [Supply Chain Dive, 10-7-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REOPENS INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN KENTUCKY: Norfolk Southern has reopened an intermodal terminal serving Louisville, Kentucky, in Buechel. It will be open only for inbound traffic from the Norfolk International terminals and the Portsmouth APM terminals at the Virginia International Gateway. [Freight Waves, 10-6-21]
PASSENGER HAD BULK MARIJUANA ON TRAIN BEFORE FATAL SHOOTING IN TUCSON: A passenger had bulk marijuana on the train before fatally shooting drug enforcement agents in Tucson Oct. 4, investigators said. A federal criminal complaint alleged the passenger had five pounds of bulk marijuana and 50 packages of edibles. Drug enforcement officers boarded the train based on a tip they had gotten from Amtrak, and the passenger stowed the products elsewhere on the train and returned to his seat. The gunman was seated across from Devonte Mathis, who was later charged with intent to distribute. The complaint said that Mathis denied that a bag containing marijuana belonged to him. After that interaction, the agents approached the gunman, who opened fire on them. The shooting left one DEA agent dead, another critically injured, and a police officer hospitalized. [The Hill, 10-6-21]
FORD'S MEGA CAMPUSES IN TENNESSEE, KENTUCKY TO BE SERVED BY CSX: Ford Motor Company's two new mega campuses in Memphis, Tennessee, and Glendale, Kentucky, dedicated to electric vehicles, will be built on sites served by CSX. [Progressive Railroading, 10-6-21]
SENATOR SCHUMER CONCERNED ABOUT 'JURY-RIGGED' CSX RAIL BRIDGE: Citing concerns about the safety of a CSX rail bridge just south of Blue Point, N.Y., U.S. Senate majority leader Charles Schumer has called on the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct a safety inspection of the structure. The bridge, which was temporarily reinforced last year and is being monitored by CSX, is still 'jury-rigged,' the senator said. He cited a 2017 derailment in Newburg, N.Y., while transporting hazardous materials, adding that the safety threat posed by the Blue Point bridge is higher because of its proximity to Hudson River intakes serving more than 106,000 residents. CSX in response said it has accelerated permanent repairs, which are planned to take place by year's end. [Progressive Railroading, 10-6-21]
INDIANA RAIL ROAD TO RESUME SANTA TRAIN THIS YEAR: The Indiana Rail Road says it will operate its Santa Train this year after canceling it in 2020 due to the pandemic. The train will make 12 stops throughout Indiana Dec. 3-5. The Santa Train originated in 1989 as a volunteer project of company employees, and traditionally visits more than 7000 people during its three-day tour. [Progressive Railroading, 10-6-21]
TSA TO IMPOSE NEW CYBERSECURITY MANDATES ON RAILROADS, AIRLINES: The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will impose new cybersecurity mandates on the railroad and airline industries, including reporting requirements as part of an effort to force compliance in the wake of cyberattacks on critical industries. Included will be establishing contingency and recovery plans in the event of a cyberattack. [CNN, 10-6-21]
SEPTEMBER 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads originated 2,496,209 carloads and intermodal units in September 2021, down 1.9 percent compared with the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 4.3 percent, and intermodal was down 6.7 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-6-21]
DEA AGENT KILLED IN SHOOTOUT ON AMTRAK TRAIN: A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent was killed in a shooting on an Amtrak train in Tucson early Oct. 4, and two other DEA officers were wounded, police said. One DEA special agent is in critical condition, and a Tucson police officer working on the DEA task force is in stable condition. The incident happened during a routine check for illegal guns, money and drugs. Several officers boarded the train and made contact with two people on the second level of the superliner train. While officers were detaining one person, a second person took out a handgun and opened fire on the officers. A gunman was pronounced dead after barricading himself in a restroom. There were 137 passengers and 11 crew members on board the train, all of whom were evacuated. [CNN, 10-5-21]
CP TO PREP HYDROGEN-POWERED LOCOMOTIVE THIS FALL: Canadian Pacific plans to prep a hydrogen fuel cell-powered linehaul freight locomotive prototype for official painting and launch this fall. It will be class H20EL, which stands for 'Hydrogen Zero Emissions Locomotive,' with a blue and green paint scheme representing 'sustainability, water and technology,' and the angled typography of H20EL symbolizing 'movement and progress in action.' [Railway Age, 10-5-21]
HAMPTON ROADS TRANSIT PLANNING TO EXPAND LIGHT-RAIL SERVICE: Hampton Roads Transit in Virginia is in the opening phases of a project to expand its Tide light-rail service. Currently, the route connects Fort Norfolk to Newtown road, and the extension would expand the line north of Newtown road to Military Circle. Lengthening the line could increase ridership about 40 percent. The plan might also include adding a bus rapid transit system, a first for Norfolk. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-5-21]
METRO-NORTH COMPLETES TRANSFORMATION OF PORT JERVIS STATION: The project to transform the Metro-North station in Port Jervis, N.Y., has been completed. The project included the construction of a one-car length high-level platform, a concrete ramp from the parking lot to the platform, and a new sidewalk. Improvements were also made to the parking lot to allow easier access onto the platform. [Progressive Railroading, 10-5-21]
POWERRAIL FORMS POWERRAIL ENGINE SYSTEMS: PowerRail Inc., based in Duryea, Pa., has formed PowerRail Engine Systems, described as a 'full-service engine company offering a complete line of new and remanufactured engines and engine components' supporting EMD and GE engines, including Tier 0+ emission kits. [Railway Age, 10-5-21]
MICHIGAN CITY, INDIANA, PLANS MULTI-MODAL DOWNTOWN TRAIN STATION HUB: Michigan City, Indiana, is seeking a developer to create a mixed-use, multi-modal hub, to serve as an anchor point for the downtown. Included will be over 400 commuter parking spaces, a train station and waiting area. Plans require restoration of the station's original facade for the entrance. Completion of the project would coincide with the start of service when the South Shore Line's double-track project is completed in May 2024. [Northwest Indiana Business Magazine, 10-5-21]
SOUND TRANSIT OPENS NORTHGATE LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: Seattle's Sound Transit opened its 4.3-mile Northgate light-rail extension Oct. 2, marking the start of the agency's three-year plan to triple its light-rail network from 22 to 62 miles. The extension adds three new stations - U District, Roosevelt and Northgate. Except for 0.8 miles of elevated track at Northgate, the 4.3-mile extension is in subway. [Railway Age, 10-4-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-four percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending October 3, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and nine minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 10-4-21]
KANSAS CITY TO STUDY EAST-WEST TRANSIT OPTIONS: The Kansas City Streetcar Authority and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority are planning to study East-West multi-modal transit options. Currently, KC Streetcar operates six streetcars on a 2.2-mile North-South route in downtown from River Market to Union Station. Meanwhile, the agency is just months away from breaking ground for the Main Street extension to serve as the spine for the city's regional transit system. [Railway Age, 10-4-21]
RAIL UNIONS ALLEGE NORFOLK SOUTHERN SEEKS TO ELIMINATE TRAIN-SERVICE CRAFTS: Two unions are trying to stop Norfolk Southern from implementing precision scheduled railroading in a way that the unions claim will 'supplant the train-service crafts of conductors and brakemen by calling locomotive engineers to work their assignments.' The unions announced they are taking steps to stop a company plan that the unions describe as an 'operational scheme that makes irrational cuts to employment, maintenance and service levels' in order to generate higher profits. [Progressive Railroading, 10-4-21]
CN SCHEDULES SPECIAL SHAREHOLDER MEETING IN RESPONSE TO ACTIVIST CONCERNS: Canadian National has scheduled a special meeting of shareholders on March 22, 2022, in response to a requisition by CIFF Capital and TCI including replacing CN Rail chief executive officer Jean-Jacques Ruest with former CN and Union Pacific executive Jim Vena, as well as proposing a slate of four new independent directors to the company's board.. [CN, 10-4-21]
METROLINK BACK IN BUSINESS IN SOUTHERN ORANGE COUNTY: Metrolink will resume passenger rail service Oct. 4 to the Oceanside, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano stations along the Orange County and Inland Orange County lines. The agency suspended service Sept. 16 after it was determined that a landslide caused tracks south of San Clemente Pier to become misaligned. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-4-21]
SUPREME COURT DECLINES TO HEAR CASES TO BRING RIGHT-TO-WORK LAWS TO RAILROADS, AIRLINES: The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4 declined to hear two cases that sought to bring so-called 'right-to-work' laws to the railroads and airlines. The cases sought to extend the landmark Janus ruling, which allowed public sector workers to receive the benefits of union representation without paying union dues, to rail and airline workers, who are under the Railway Labor Act. Unions applauded the decision. [International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, 10-4-21]
TWO INJURED IN TRAIN FIRE IN CALIFORNIA: Two people suffered critical burn injuries in a train fire that prompted the temporary closure of a portion of Interstate 10 in the mid-valley Oct. 1. Firefighters confirmed one of the train's shipping containers was on fire. The container was carrying several potentially hazardous materials. Officials reported that the two who were injured could be suspects in whatever happened to ignite the blaze in the first place, which remains under investigation. [Desert Sun, 10-2-21]
SEPTEMBER 2021 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-three percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in September 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and six minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 10-1-21]
METRA BREAKS GROUND ON BRIDGE REPLACEMENT, GRAYLAND STATION RECONSTRUCTION: Metra on Sept. 30 broke ground on a $36.1-million project to replace a 122-year-old railroad bridge over Milwaukee avenue on the north side of Chicago, and reconstruct the adjacent Grayland station. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-1-21]
VIA RAIL WELCOMES FIRST OF 32 TRAINSETS FOR QUEBEC CITY-WINDSOR CORRIDOR: The first of 32 new Siemens trainsets for VIA Rail Canada's Quebec City-Windsor corridor has arrived. The bi-directional trains will be powered by Tier-4 Chargers, and are planned to replace the current fleet running on this, the country's most heavily-traveled passenger rail corridor, in late 2022. [Railway Age, 10-1-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TESTING NEW GP34ECO LOCOMOTIVE FROM PROGRESS RAIL: Norfolk Southern and Progress Rail have collaborated on the first EMD GP34ECO environment-friendly locomotive built for yard and intermediate operations. It is undergoing testing to meet the EPA Tier-4 emission certification requirements. Compared to older locomotives, the GP34ECO achieves a 90 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions, and offers significantly higher fuel efficiency, officials said. [Progressive Railroading, 10-1-21]
EMPIRE BUILDER DERAILMENT UPDATE: Federal investigators continue working to determine what caused the derailment of Amtrak's Empire Builder in rural Montana, killing three people, injuring dozens more and halting freight and passenger service for days. The National Transportation Safety Board has offered no clues about what could have gone wrong, but did say the train was traveling just below the 79 MPH speed limit when eight of its 10 cars derailed. According to experts and rail incident data, such accidents are rare, and are even becoming less frequent. In the last decade, Amtrak has averaged 24 derailments annually, but that number is down from about 43 derailments annually over the previous decade. Three major derailments in the last decade have resulted in 14 passenger deaths, including the crash in Montana. [Washington Post, 10-1-21]
BRIGHTLINE'S NEWEST TRAINSET SET TO DEPART FROM FACTORY: Brightline and Siemens Mobility have unveiled Brightline's newest trainset. In the coming days, it will depart the factory on a cross-country trip to West Palm Beach, where it will be stationed in preparation for Brightline's rail corridor expansion that will connect Orlando with Brightline's current route from Miami to West Palm Beach. The Venture trainset consists of two Charger diesel locomotives, one on each end, and four passenger coaches. [Progressive Railroading, 9-30-21]
RAILWORKS CORP. TO BE ACQUIRED BY BERNHARD CAPITAL: Bernhard Capital Partners Management, a services and infrastructure-focused private equity management firm, has reached an agreement to acquire RailWorks Corp. from Wind Point Partners, a private equity firm. [Progressive Railroading, 9-30-21]
NEW YORK AIR BRAKE TO MOVE PRODUCTION TO MEXICO: New York Air Brake, a global manufacturer of innovative train-control systems, has announced it will transfer production from Nina and Kansas City, Missouri, and Salisbury, North Carolina, to Acuna, Mexico. The company will also complete a substantial manufacturing refocus in Watertown, New York, to become a machining operation. [Railway Track & Structures, 9-30-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 511,713 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending September 25, 2021, down 1.3 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 6.6 percent, and intermodal was down 7.3 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-29-21]
FOUR CITIES AWARDED GRANTS TOWARD STATION IMPROVEMENTS FOR GULF COAST AMTRAK SERVICE: Three cities have been awarded grants to improve their train stations ahead of the planned return of Amtrak service to the Gulf Coast. Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi, received slightly more than $700,000 total, and Birmingham received $250,000. The grants require a matching contribution from local officials. [Miami Herald, 9-29-21]
SEPTA TO DEVELOP 'NEW VISION' FOR REGIONAL RAIL COMMUTER SERVICE: The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority plans to develop a new vision for its Regional Rail commuter service through a yearlong analysis and public feedback process. The agency will work with people across the region between now and summer 2022 to better understand why riders choose Regional Rail. This will help identify a long-term vision and shorter-term improvements needed to services, schedules and fare policies. [Progressive Railroading, 9-28-21]
ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW PROCESS FOR METRO-NORTH PENN STATION ACCESS PROJECT COMPLETED: New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced that the environmental review process for the Metro-North Penn Station access project has been completed. The milestone makes four new stations in the Bronx as well as direct Metro-North service to Penn Station from the Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut a step closer to reality. [Progressive Railroading, 9-28-21]
G3 TO BUILD GRAIN ELEVATORS IN ALBERTA, SASKATCHEWAN: G3 plans to build new grain elevators - one in Rycroft, Alberta, and one in Melfort, Saskatchewan - each to feature a capacity of 42,000 tons and be served by CN. Both will include a loop track that can be used to quickly load a 150-car unit train. G3 currently manages 17 grain elevators in western Canada. [Progressive Railroading, 9-28-21]
RURAL MONTANA RESPONDS TO EMPIRE BUILDER DERAILMENT: Trevor Fossen was running late for a wedding Sept. 25 when he turned onto a dusty road as a westbound train approached. The train never made it to the crossing. The next thing Fossen saw was a wall of dust fill the sky. It was the Empire Builder, and it had derailed. Fossen and at least nine other people called 911, setting off a chain reaction of help from residents in nearby Joplin and Chester, as people jumped into action to get people off the train and care for those who were injured. Emergency responders and local citizens worked together to help those in need, embodying the spirit of a rural part of Montana not far from the Canadian border. Fossen said he started to help first responders get a handful of people out of a train car that was leaning, then moved back to three cars that were detached from the train, lying on their sides. He and others helped get an injured woman out of a car. Others helped unload the baggage car near the front of the train. Meanwhile, Liberty Medical Center in Chester called in all of its staff, and most responded. They triaged 31 patients that evening. People who were seriously injured were taken by ambulance or flown to other hospitals in the region. Six people remained hospitalized Sept. 27. Those who were not seriously hurt were loaded onto school buses and a senior citizen bus and taken to a school gym and community center in Chester, where residents helped them charge their cellphones to call families, and health care workers evaluated them. The Chester Supermarket provided water and ice, made some pizzas, and allowed residents to take whatever else was needed for the passengers, without charge. Also, a religious group brought in ingredients to make sandwiches. Some residents drove passengers to Great Falls or Kalispell to reunite them with hospitalized family members, and others took passengers to Great Falls to catch a flight home. The rail line was reopened to traffic early Sept. 28. [NBC Philadelphia, 9-28-21]
NEW TRAIN ADDED BETWEEN RICHMOND AND D.C.: A new Amtrak train departed from Main Street Station in Richmond to Washington early Sept. 27. The train's launch commemorates the first milestone of 'Transforming Rail in Virginia,' a $3.7-billion rail expansion program aimed at improving rail service in the state. [Progressive Railroading, 9-27-21]
EMPIRE BUILDER DERAILMENT UPDATE: The Amtrak train that derailed in rural Montana over the weekend was traveling just under the speed limit at about 75 MPH when it went off the track along a gradual curve, killing three people and possibly ejecting passengers, U.S. investigators said. They do not know the cause of the accident, but they are studying video from the train and another locomotive that went over the same track a little over an hour earlier, National Transportation Safety Board vice-chairman Bruce Landsberg said. The derailed train also had a black box that records everything happening in the train, he said. The train derailed before a switch in the line, where one set of tracks turned into two, on a stretch of track that had been inspected just two days earlier, he said. [AP News, 9-27-21]
AMTRAK'S EMPIRE BUILDER DERAILS IN MONTANA, THREE DIE: At approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, Empire Builder train 7-27, traveling westbound from Chicago/Portland, derailed operating on BNSF tracks near Joplin, Montana. There were approximately 141 passengers and 17 crew members on board. The train consisted of two locomotives and 10 cars, with eight of those cars derailing. Local authorities are now confirming that three people have lost their lives as a result of this accident. There are also reported injuries among the passengers and crew members. Amtrak is working with the local authorities to transport those who were injured to medical care, and to safely evacuate everyone else at the scene. Amtrak's incident response team has been initiated, and are sending emergency personnel and leadership to the scene to help support passengers, employees and their families with their needs. [Amtrak, 9-26-21]
BUCKINGHAM BRANCH R.R. AGREES TO ACQUIRE CSX LINE IN VA.: The Buckingham Branch Railroad wants to acquire 164 miles of rail line in Virginia that it currently leases from CSX. It is located between Clifton Forge and Doswell, and Buckingham Branch has leased and operated the line since 2005. Both carriers have agreed to convert the current lease to a permanent, exclusive freight-rail operating easement. The agreement includes an interchange commitment with Norfolk Southern. [Progressive Railroading, 9-24-21]
BOARD APPROVES ALTERNATE 1 FOR LIGHT-RAIL LINE FROM DOWNTOWN L.A. TO ARTESIA: The Eco-Rapid Transit board of directors has approved Alternate 1 of the 19.4-mile light-rail line to connect downtown Los Angeles and Artesia. The $9.8-billion project has been in the works for 20 years, and will serve the intermediate communities of Maywood, Cudahy and Huntington Park. [Railway Track & Structures, 9-24-21]
COURT RULES UNION PACIFIC IS NOT OBLIGATED TO OFFER METRA COMMUTER SERVICE ON ITS LINES: Three busy Metra lines in the Chicago area no longer have legal protection from service cuts. A U.S. District judge has ruled that Union Pacific is under no obligation to offer commuter services on its North, West and Northwest lines. Union Pacific says it will still maintain the tracks and provide dispatching, but its employees would no longer be required to operate the trains and collect tickets. Both Union Pacific and Metra plan to work together to ensure a 'smooth transfer' to whatever replaces it. [Courthouse News Service, 9-23-21]
COAL DEMAND IN U.S. IS RISING, BUT SUPPLIES REMAIN LOW: Coal demand and prices are booming, but U.S. mining companies have not ramped up production to meet the new market conditions. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently said it expects coal demand from the U.S. electric power sector to increase by 100 million tons in 2021, and export demand to rise by 21 million tons compared to 2020. However, the agency also warned that constraints in capacity and transportation will limit the ability of producers to meet that demand. [S&P Global Platts, 9-23-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending September 18, 2021, was 505,622 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.1 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 3.5 percent, and intermodal was down 8.3 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-22-21]
LIGHT-RAIL IMPROVEMENT COMING TO DOWNTOWN PITTSBURGH: Pittsburgh's Port Authority is ready to begin two projects worth $30-million. One of the projects calls for the rehabilitation of concrete plinths for the track in the tunnel in downtown Pittsburgh. It is expected to take more than 2 and one-half years, and there will be some weekend closures of the tunnel. Another project is to upgrade 18 high-platform stations in the South Hills, including repair of concrete and masonry, installation of light poles and improvements to handicap accessibility. [Railway Track & Structures, 9-22-21]
TGM ACQUIRES GRAIN ASSETS FROM THE ANDERSONS: TGM (Total Grain Marketing) has acquired grain assets from The Andersons in Champlain, Illinois. The site has more than 16 million bushels of storage capacity, making it the largest grain elevator by upright storage in Illinois. [Progressive Railroading, 9-22-21]
CHICAGO TRANSIT AWARDED ARCHITECTURAL HONOR FOR GARFIELD STATION RENOVATION: Chicago Transit has received one of AIA Illinois' highest architectural honors for the renovation of the historic Garfield Green line station. The award noted how the station combines form and function with art and architecture as a welcoming gateway to the Washington Park community. One of the oldest stations in the country, dating back to 1892, it originally served the World's Columbian Exposition. [Progressive Railroading, 9-22-21]
CN PLANS ELIMINATION OF OVER 1000 JOBS UNDER STRATEGIC PLAN: Under Canadian National's new strategic plan, recently announced, more than 1000 jobs will be eliminated, 400 of them from operating crafts. [Railway Age, 9-21-21]
STOCK ANALYST DOWNGRADES CN, CITING ITS NEW STRATEGIC PLAN: BMO Capital Markets is downgrading its view on Canadian National with its analyst saying the railroad's strategic plan announced last week may fall short of tapping into the company's full potential. [BNN Bloomberg, 9-21-21]
MERCHANTS BRIDGE PROJECT IN ST. LOUIS MOVES FORWARD: The $222-million project to replace the Merchants Bridge that links Missouri and Illinois at downtown St. Louis reached a major milestone Sept. 17 with the first of three new trusses being installed. Dating back to 1890, the bridge serves Amtrak and six class I railroads to cross the Mississippi River. The bridge requires reconstruction due to the speed, clearance and load restrictions. [Progressive Railroading, 9-21-21]
GROUND BROKEN FOR EXPANDED TRANSLOAD FACILITY IN S.D.: Ground has been broken in Belle Fourche, S.D., to mark the start of a project to create a more extensive transloading facility. Belle Fourche currently has a 27-car-capacity rail yard. When completed, it will be able to accommodate up to 90 cars. The project will create the largest storage facility on the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad's network. [Progressive Railroading, 9-21-21]
U.K. PRIME MINISTER TAKES AMTRAK FROM NEW YORK TO WASHINGTON FOR MEETING: U.K.'s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after addressing the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 21, took an Amtrak train from New York to Washington for a meeting with President Biden. Johnson told Biden that he shares his belief in transport infrastructure, 'particularly trains.' [Westport News, 9-21-21]
TRAIN COLLIDES WITH ANOTHER IN GUINEA, KILLING ONE: A train operated by Russian aluminum firm Rusal collided into a stopped train in the outskirts of Guinea's capital Conakry Sept. 20, killing at least one person and injuring several others. [Reuters, 9-21-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-four percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending September 19, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 13 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 9-20-21]
INDIANA RAIL ROAD BEGINS FIRST PHASE OF INTERMODAL EXPANSION PROJECT: The Indiana Rail Road has begun the first phase of its intermodal expansion project, a three-part initiative with an expected completion date in 2023. The company recently acquired an additional 12 acres adjacent to the current lot that will more than double the existing container yard, allow a generous amount of incremental container parking, and include an onsite chassis depot. Its Senate Avenue Intermodal Terminal in Indianapolis opened in 2013 and moved 1,450 containers in its first year. This year the terminal is projected to move more than 40,000 containers, and recently began a new grain export operation. [Progressive Railroading, 9-20-21]
SOUND TRANSIT GETTING FEDERAL LOANS FOR LINE EXTENSION, OTHER PROJECTS: Seattle's Sound Transit will receive up to $3.84-billion in Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans to finance the Downtown Redmond Link extension and refinance five additional projects. [Railway Age, 9-17-21]
CN ANNOUNCES NEW STRATEGIC PLAN ON HEELS OF FAILED BID FOR KCS: Canadian National announced a new strategic plan as it looks to move past its failed bid for Kansas City Southern, and to stave off criticism from an activist investor looking to make leadership changes at the company. CN said that as part of the plan it expects in 2022 to reduce capital spending to 17 percent of revenue, increase operating income by $700-million, and boost efficiency to achieve an operating ratio of 57 percent for next year. [Global News, 9-17-21]
CHILDREN'S RAILWAY BEING BUILT IN MONGOLIA: Mongolia's national operator has begun developing its first children's railway, where school pupils will be able to gain experience of railway operations. A contract has been awarded for a 750-mm gauge TU10 diesel locomotive, and two VP750 coaches. [Railway Gazette, 9-17-21]
DOWNED WIRES DISRUPT NEC SERVICE IN N.Y. AREA: Major delays were reported on Amtrak and N.J. Transit late Sept. 16 due to downed wires near the Amtrak Portal bridge. Delays of up to an hour or more occurred for service in and out of New York's Penn Station. [, 9-16-21]
RAIL SERVICE SUSPENDED FOR TWO WEEKS ALONG COASTAL SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LINE: Train service has been halted until Oct. 3 along cliffside tracks in coastal southern California as crews shore up unstable ground. The planned closure is between Laguna Niguel-Mission Viejo and Oceanside. Forty-three Amtrak and Metrolink trains a day run through that area. [AP, 9-16-21]
CP'S ACQUISITION OF KCS COULD BE COMPLETE BY NEXT FALL, CP SAYS: Canadian Pacific's acquisition of Kansas City Southern could be complete by next fall, CP's chief executive Keith Creel said to analysts. The merger application will be submitted to the Surface Transportation Board next month, and the review process could take 10 months or longer, he said. [BNN Bloomberg, 9-16-21]
RAIL SAFETY WEEK IS SEPT. 20-26: Operation Lifesaver, along with its partner organizations in Canada and Mexico, are kicking off this year's observance of Rail Safety Week in North America on Sept. 20. The aim is to boost public awareness of rail safety and encouraging drivers and pedestrians to practice safe behavior near railroad tracks. [Railway Age, 9-16-21]
OVER $312-M APPROVED FOR AUSTIN'S PROJECT CONNECT VENTURE: Over $312-million has been approved for the Project Connect venture in Austin, Texas. More than 50 percent of the budget will go toward the Orange and Blue lines. The Orange line is a 20-mile route to run north and south through downtown, and the Blue line will take passengers from downtown to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. [Railway Track & Structures, 9-16-21]
KCS TERMINATES CN MERGER, ENTERS MERGER AGREEMENT WITH CP: Kansas City Southern's board has formally terminated its merger agreement with Canadian National, and is entering into a merger agreement with Canadian Pacific. Under the terms of the CP merger agreement, upon closing of CP's voting trust, each share of KCS common stock will be exchanged for $90 in cash and 2.884 shares of CP common stock. [Kansas City Southern, 9-15-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending September 11, 2021, was 468,610 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 4.5 percent, and intermodal was down 6 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-15-21]
S.F. CABLE CARS SHUT DOWN BY MISHAP AT BARN: Six days after San Francisco's iconic cable cars returned to service following an 18-month shutdown due to the pandemic, they are once again shut down. This is due to the discharge of the system's fire-suppression system in the electrical room at the cable car barn. Service will be restored once repairs are made. [Railway Age, 9-15-21]
METROLINX TO BEGIN LONDON-TORONTO GO TRANSIT SERVICE OCT. 18: Beginning October 18, Ontario's Metrolinx will provide weekday commuter rail service between London and Toronto, Ontario. The pilot project will be an early morning trip from London, and an evening trip back from Toronto. Intermediate stops will be made in St. Marys and Stratford. [Progressive Railroading, 9-15-21]
LIGHT-RAIL SERVICE SUSPENDED ON CLEVELAND'S WATERFRONT LINE: The Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority has suspended light-rail service on the Waterfront line due to safety concerns related to the Waterfront line bridge. The agency's consultant advised that service not be resumed until a permanent solution is implemented. [Progressive Railroading, 9-14-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty (40) percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending September 12, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 11 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 9-13-21]
METROLINK TO TEST EARTHQUAKE WARNING TECHNOLOGY: Metrolink plans to pilot new technology to help ensure the safe stopping of trains in the event of an earthquake. It is being deployed along the 91 line between Perris and Riverside, California. It is an early warning system designed to use data to notify the train's positive train-control that an earthquake has occurred, and can quickly slow or stop the train even before ground-shaking is felt. [Progressive Railroading, 9-13-21]
ACTIVIST INVESTOR TO NOMINATE FOUR TO CN'S BOARD, REPLACE CEO: TCI Fund Management has requested a special shareholder meeting to address concerns, including replacing CN Rail chief executive officer Jean-Jacques Ruest with former CN and Union Pacific executive Jim Vena, as well as proposing a slate of four new independent directors to the company's board. TCI said it wants to walk away fro the 'ill-conceived, ill-considered bid for Kansas City Southern.' [BNN Bloomberg, 9-13-21]
KCS'S HOLIDAY EXPRESS CANCELED, FUNDRAISER TO PROCEED: Kansas City Southern will not operate its Holiday Express train this year due to the pandemic. But it will celebrate the 21st anniversary of the express program with a fundraiser for the Salvation Army. [Progressive Railroading, 9-12-21]
THREE PROPOSED AMTRAK ROUTES IN PA. COULD SERVE 1.3 MILLION RIDERS ANNUALLY: Three new Amtrak routes in eastern Pennsylvania could serve 1.3 million riders annually, with service starting about three years after funding is secured, Amtrak says. Amtrak earlier released a report proposing 39 new routes nationwide, including three lines separately connecting Allentown, Reading and Scranton with New York City. [Pocono Record, 9-12-21]
MD. DOT CONCERNED ABOUT CSX BRIDGE IN BALTIMORE: For the second time in as many days, a deteriorating CSX bridge is making headlines. This time the news comes from West Baltimore where residents continue to complain about a rail bridge that crosses over west North avenue. A pipe continues to leak water, and on Aug. 25 a man suffered a concussion when debris fell on top of him. The bridge was built by the Western Maryland Railway, but with the closure of Port Covington yards, freight traffic has been reduced considerably. The Maryland Dept. of Transportation admitted that nothing had been done concerning the rail infrastructure, but it is now promising to conduct further inspections. [Railway Track & Structures, 9-10-21]
PORT OF BALTIMORE RECEIVES FOUR MASSIVE CONTAINER CRANES: Four new massive Neopanamax container cranes arrived Sept. 9 at the Port of Baltimore's Seagirt Terminal. They are fully electric. Each is 25 feet taller and 190 tons heavier that the first set of Neopanamax cranes that arrived in 2021. The state says the port's container business has grown impressively in recent years, and is poised to grow ever more with the addition of these new cranes. [Progressive Railroading, 9-10-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN, BNSF REOPEN KEY INTERMODAL TERMINALS: Norfolk Southern and BNSF have reopened key intermodal terminals. Norfolk Southern has begun a gradual reopening of its Franklin County Regional Intermodal facility in Greencastle, Pa., starting with a lane of domestic traffic that runs between facilities in Memphis and Rutherford, near Harrisburg. Meanwhile, BNSF in August reopened its Harvard Intermodal facility in Marion, Arkansas. [Progressive Railroading, 9-9-21]
FEDERAL PANEL URGES STEPS TO MODERNIZE NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: The federally-appointed Northeast Corridor Commission proposes a path to rebuild Amtrak's Northeast corridor with a $117-billion investment that would cover more than 150 projects. Officials say the 15-year vision, dubbed 'Connect NEC 2035,' would cut travel times by about 30 minutes between Washington-New York and New York-Boston. The commission says the plan would get its biggest boost from the infrastructure package that passed the Senate last month. Key among replacements are the Baltimore & Potomac tunnel in Maryland and the Hudson River tunnel in the New York area. [Washington Post, 9-9-21]
FRA RELEASES PTC SAFETY ADVISORY: The Federal Railroad Administration has published a safety advisory on a positive train-control issue it has identified. It is an interface design issue allowing a train crew member to circumvent the system by manually cutting out the pilot valve/brake stand, permitting PTC to be disabled. The agency believes that the interface designs of most concern are limited to a number of older locomotives equipped with mechanical braking systems, and not likely an issue on most newer locomotives with electronic braking systems. The agency recommends reminding crew members that circumventing PTC is subject to civil penalty or disqualification, and to take steps to mitigate or correct the design issue. [Railway Track & Structures, 9-9-21]
WOMAN CONVICTED OF VIOLENCE AGAINST RAIL CARRIER BNSF: Ellen Brennan Reiche, 28, of Bellingham, Washington, has been convicted of 'violence against a railroad carrier' in a November 2020 incident involving the placing of a 'shunt' on the tracks which disrupted BNSF train signals. A 26-year-old co-conspirator, Samatha Frances Brooks, previously pleaded guilty to the same offense. Both await sentencing. [U.S. Dept. of Justice, 9-9-21]
AMTRAK'S CITY OF NEW ORLEANS REMAINS UNABLE TO SERVE LOUISIANA: Amtrak's City of New Orleans has been unable to serve New Orleans because of damage to the right-of-way caused by hurricane Ida. The train will temporarily turn at Jackson, Mississippi, on its daily run from and to Chicago. The other trains serving New Orleans, Sunset Limited and Crescent, have both been able to restore service to the city. [Amtrak]
CSX ADOPTS NEW LOCOMOTIVE PAINT SCHEME: CSX has adopted a new locomotive paint scheme. It is almost identical to its earlier YN3 version, except for some subtle changes. Most noticeable about the new scheme is the addition of the railroad's website address on the sides of the locomotive. The new scheme will be identified as 'YN3w' on the Bull Sheet's presentation of the CSX roster. It replaces the YN3b design sporting a railcar logo as the official scheme, and units with that or earlier designs will be painted with the YN3w scheme as they are rotated through the paint shop. [Robert Michaels, Tommy Parker, 9-8-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending September 4, 2021, was 494,415 carloads and intermodal units, down 3 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 2.6 percent, and intermodal was down 7.3 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-8-21]
VIA RAIL REPORTS IMPROVED PERFORMANCE IN 2-Q: VIA Rail Canada has reported improved performance in second-quarter 2021, with a jump in ridership and passenger revenue of 188 percent and 417 percent, respectively, compared with the same period last year. [Progressive Railroading, 9-8-21]
NYC SUBWAY SERVICE RETURNS TO FULL SERVICE: Sept. 7 marks the first day of full NYC subway service following the tropical storm. Meanwhile, Long Island Rail Road restored service on most branches Sept. 2, Metro-North restored service on the Harlem and New Haven lines Sept. 3, the Danbury and New Canaan branches Sept. 4, and Hudson line service resumes for the morning commute Sept. 7. [Progressive Railroading, 9-7-21]
ACTIVIST INVESTOR THREATENS PROXY FIGHT AT CN OVER KCS DEAL: TCI Fund Management Ltd., which owns a 5 percent stake in Canadian National, plans to call a special meeting of shareholders to nominate five directors to the board with a mandate to replace its chief executive officer, Jean-Jacques Ruest, as the deal to buy Kansas City Southern faces a possible collapse. [Regina Leader Post, 9-7-21]
SEPTA LOOKS TO RENAME ITS SUBWAY, LIGHT-RAIL, TROLLEY ROUTES AS 'METRO': SEPTA is looking to collectively rename its subways, light-rail and trolley routes as the 'Metro,' part of an effort to make the public transit system easier to navigate. A year of research revealed that riders typically do not understand the agency's current signage. [Billy Penn, 9-7-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-six percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending September 5, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and six minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 9-6-21]
BNSF TO ADD SECOND TRACK IN EDMONDS, WASHINGTON: BNSF plans to begin laying a second track next to a two-mile portion of single track in Edmonds, Washington, sometime in 2023. This will eliminate one of only two remaining single-track segments between Seattle and Everett. [My Edmonds News, 9-6-21]
KCS TO CONSIDER CP'S MERGER PROPOSAL: The board of Kansas City Southern has determined that the proposal received from Canadian Pacific on Aug. 31 to acquire KCS in a cash and stock transaction valued at $300 per KCS share could 'reasonably' be expected to lead to a 'company superior proposal' as defined in KCS's merger agreement with Canadian National. KCS remains bound by the terms of the CN merger agreement, and KCS notes that there can be no assurance that the discussions with CP will result in a transaction. [Railway Age, 9-4-21]
NORTHEAST CORRIDOR TRAIN SERVICE RESTORED SEPT. 3: Amtrak will return scheduled service to the Northeast corridor on Sept. 3 following the effects of tropical storm Ida. Empire service and Ethan Allen Express trains remain canceled between Albany and New York City. Train 66 will originate in Washington instead of Newport News. [Amtrak]
FRA PAUSES ITS REVIEW OF PROPOSED BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON MAGLEV: The Federal Railroad Administration has paused its review of the maglev train that is proposed to link Washington and Baltimore and eventually extend from Baltimore to New York. The agency said is has no timeline for completion of environmental planning for the project. [Baltimore Sun, 9-3-21]
GROUND BROKEN FOR HYPERLOOP TESTING FACILITY IN COLORADO: Swisspod, in partnership with the Transportation Technology Center, broke ground Sept. 2 on construction and development of PuebloPlex, a hyperloop testing facility in Pueblo, Colorado. [Progressive Railroading, 9-3-21]
CONTRACT AWARDED FOR FULLERTON ROAD GRADE SEPARATION IN CALIFORNIA: Shanska has signed a contract worth $96-million with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments for lowering Fullerton road under existing Union Pacific tracks in Industry, California. Additionally, a six-lane roadway underpass, four-track railroad bridge and a bridge for Railroad street spanning Fullerton road will be built. [Progressive Railroading, 9-3-21]
ALSTOM TO SUPPLY 35 ADDITIONAL CITADIS RAIL VEHICLES FOR LYON, FRANCE: Alstom will supply the public transport authority in Lyon, France, with 35 additional Citadis rail vehicles as part of the Destinations 2026 plan, which includes the introduction and extension of new lines. [Progressive Railroading, 9-3-21]
UNION PACIFIC HAS MORE THAN 50 JOB OPENINGS ACROSS ITS SYSTEM: Union Pacific is among employers actively hiring as the nation's economy continues to improve. The company is soliciting applicants for more than 50 job openings across its system, with more openings anticipated in the coming months. [Progressive Railroading, 9-2-21]
CSX RESTRICTS NUMBER OF DOMESTIC CONTAINERS IT ACCEPTS FROM CHICAGO: CSX has announced it will restrict the number of domestic containers it accepts from Chicago. It is the second time in two months that CSX has restricted intermodal traffic. [The Load Star, 9-2-21]
AUGUST 2021 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 August 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was 46 minutes late. The average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and 13 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 9-1-21]
CP GIVES SEPT. 12 DEADLINE FOR KCS SHAREHOLDERS TO ACCEPT ACQUISITION OFFER: Canadian Pacific says Kansas City Southern shareholders have until Sept. 12 to accept its acquisition offer after a regulator's ruling imperiled rival Canadian National's $30-billion deal. CP's $27-billion offer should be deemed superior, even though it's lower, because it has 'deal certainty,' said CP's chief executive officer Keith Creel on Sept. 1. [BNN Bloomberg, 9-1-21]
CSX ORDERED TO PAY, REINSTATE TWO WHISTLEBLOWERS: The U.S. Dept. of Labor has ordered CSX to pay more than $667,000 and reinstate two whistleblowers after the investigation of a retaliatory firing. The workers at a CSX yard in Waycross, Ga., in 2017 encountered and reported a blue flag that signaled their train could not move safely. For their actions, the company pulled them from the job and later fired them, actions that were found to be illegal. [Progressive Railroading, 9-1-21]
D.C. METRO TO CLOSE ROCKVILLE, SHADY GROVE STATIONS FOR UPGRADES: Washington DC Metro will close its Metrorail Rockville and Shady Grove stations from Sept. 11 to Dec. 4 to demolish and replace the canopy over the station platforms and other improvements. [Progressive Railroading, 9-1-21]
AUGUST 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads originated 2,020,107 carloads and intermodal units in August 2021, down about zero percent from the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 4.1 percent, and intermodal was down 3.3 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-1-21]
STB REJECTS USE OF VOTING TRUST FOR CN, KCS PROPOSED MERGER: The Surface Transportation Board has rejected the use of a voting trust agreement in connection with the proposed combination between Canadian National and Kansas City Southern. The board determined that the trust is not consistent with the public interest standard under its merger regulations. [Progressive Railroading, 8-31-21]
RAILROADS ASSESSING IMPACT OF HURRICANE UPON OPERATIONS IN LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI: Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific have issued customer service advisories on how hurricane Ida is affecting service in the region. KCS suspended service from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and Gulfport due to excessive rain and wind; Norfolk Southern's New Orleans intermodal terminal remained closed through at least Aug. 31; and Union Pacific said the area east of Livonia to New Orleans incurred the greatest storm impact, requiring additional cleanup time and closer inspection. [Progressive Railroading, 8-31-21]
POWER SURGE IMPACTS NYC SUBWAY SERVICE: ConEd reported losing a feeder which resulted in a voltage dip across New York City late Aug. 29, and two power plants and generators went offline. Then, an 'unprecedented' surge occurred that resulted in the subway losing signals and communications between the command center and trains throughout the transit system. [Progressive Railroading, 8-31-21]
COURT REJECTS EMINENT DOMAIN CLAIM FOR MAGLEV ROUTE IN BALTIMORE: The Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail's attempt to condemn land in Baltimore's Westport neighborhood for maglev use was struck down Aug. 30 by a circuit court judge who ruled that the rail company lacked authority to use the property through eminent domain. The ruling allows a developer to begin a 1300-unit apartment and town house project on land that would have been needed for two potential maglev routes. Meanwhile, the city of Baltimore has asked the federal government not to approve the maglev route, and under state public utilities law, the city's consent is required. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-31-21]
NJT ISSUES REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL FOR REVITALIZATION OF NEWARK PENN STATION: New Jersey Transit has released a request for proposal for the $190-million renovation and revitalization of Newark Penn Station. The 86-year-old art deco-style station is listed in national and state registers of historic places, and serves riders of Amtrak, PATH rapid transit, and NJT commuter rail, light-rail and bus services. [Railway Age, 8-31-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN STRIKES 18-WHEELER IN TEXAS: A Union Pacific freight train barreled through a semi-truck that was carrying what appeared to be a blade of a wind turbine as the 18-wheeler tried to make its way over the tracks at a rail crossing in downtown Luling, Texas, Aug. 29. There were no injuries. [Fox-6 Milwaukee, 8-31-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty (30) percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending August 29, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and eight minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 8-30-21]
CHARLOTTE'S LYNX GOLD LINE STREETCAR LINE OPENS: The Charlotte, N.C., Area Transit System on Aug. 30 opened its CityLYNX Gold line streetcar service. The Phase 2 project extended the existing track by 2.5 miles, connecting the Historic West End to the Elizabeth neighborhood. The agency will operate a fleet of five modern street vehicles, and they will operate off-wire through the heart of downtown maintaining a catenary-free zone. [Progressive Railroading, 8-30-21]
ACTIVIST INVESTOR RAISES STAKE IN CN, MAY SEEK BOARD SEAT: The investment firm TCI founded by Christopher Hohn has increased its stake in Canadian National, describing the company's stock as 'undervalued' in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. TCI's investment comes a day before the Surface Transportation Board is expected to make its decision on a voting trust arrangement proposed by CN to move forward with its acquisition of Kansas City Southern. [BNN Bloomberg, 8-30-21]
HOMES EVACUATED WHEN CP TRAIN DERAILS IN IOWA: Families near New Hampton, Iowa, are now allowed back into areas evacuated after a train derailment on the Canadian Pacific line Aug. 28. People originally evacuated due to a leak of anhydrous ammonia and diesel fuel. Department of Natural Resources personnel are monitoring water quality. [KCRG, 8-29-21]
SAN JOSE SOUTH BAY, CALIFORNIA, RAIL SERVICE RESTORED: In the South Bay of San Jose, California, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail service was restored Aug. 29, having been closed since late May due to the mass shooting at the rail yard where an employee killed nine coworkers. [KRON, 8-29-21]
ONE KILLED, TWO INJURED AS TRAIN COLLIDES WITH CAR IN IOWA: One person is dead and two others were injured Aug. 28 after a train collided with a car at a crossing in West Liberty, Iowa. The 26-year-old driver and an eight-month-old child were among the injured, and a 27-year-old passenger died. The car was reportedly driven into the path of the train. [KWWL, 8-28-21]
AMTRAK SUSPENDS NEW ORLEANS SERVICE DUE TO HURRICANE: Amtrak has suspended service to and from New Orleans with trains Crescent, City of New Orleans and Sunset Limited due to the forecast of hurricane Ida. [Amtrak, 8-27-21]
UNION PACIFIC BIG BOY LOCOMOTIVE EQUIPPED WITH PTC: Union Pacific has equipped its legendary Big Boy steam locomotive 4014 with positive train-control. A new design approach emerged in January to enable the railroad to achieve its goal of equipping the 80-year-old locomotive with PTC. Prior to that time, there was not a clear, feasible technical path to achieve the process. The new approach is based on the PTC onboard computer of a trailing diesel locomotive. Solutions were engineered to address placement and powering of the PTC display unit in the locomotive's cab, and communications between the display unit and the PTC computer in the trailing locomotive, and interconnection of the brake systems on both locomotives. The solution is also planned for Union Pacific's steam locomotive 844, the company said. [Progressive Railroading, 8-27-21]
FRA OFFERS FUNDING GRANTS FOR RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE, SAFETY PROJECTS: The Federal Railroad Administration has issued notice of funding opportunity, making available nearly $362-million through its infrastructure and safety grant program. Funding is for projects that reduce congestion, improve short line and regional rail infrastructure, relocate rail lines, enhance multimodal connections, and facilitate service integration between rail and other modes such as at ports or intermodal facilities. [Progressive Railroading, 8-27-21]
WHEELSET INTELLIGENCE LAUNCHED FOR NORTH AMERICAN FREIGHT CARS: TransmetriQ, a new unit of rail industry information technology provider Railinc Corp., has launched Wheelset Intelligence reporting for owners, lessors, repairers and users of North American rail cars. It has ability to accurately predict wheelset failures and helps reduce maintenance costs by ensuring repairs are done at the optimal time and location. [Progressive Railroading, 8-27-21]
U.S. JUSTICE DEPT. PICKS APART CSX-PAN AM RAILWAY MERGER APPLICATION: In comments filed with the Surface Transportation Board, the U.S. Dept. of Justice took issue with many aspects of the proposed CSX-Pan Am Railways merger, citing President Biden's July 9 executive order 'Promoting Competition in the American Economy.' The department recommended that the board consider imposing a 'structural remedy,' such as a carefully crafted divestiture. Such a remedy would tend to be 'cleaner, more efficient, more durable, easier to enforce, and reduce the likelihood of ongoing entanglements that can further harm competition.' [Railway Age, 8-27-21]
NJT AWARDS INITIAL CONTRACT FOR MEADOWLANDS TRANSIT PROJECT: The board of New Jersey Transit has approved a contract with HNTB Corp. for the concept phase of the Innovation Challenge Meadowlands Transitway project. The approximately $3.5-million pact will help the agency implement environmentally friendly transit access between Secaucus Junction and the Meadowlands Sports & Entertainment complex. The Meadowlands area represents a unique set of challenges to mass transit in that it is densely populated and includes congested roadways and an existing rail line to Secaucus Junction. [Progressive Railroading, 8-26-21]
FINGER LAKES RWY ASSUMES OPERATION OF STATE-OWNED BRANCH LINE IN MAINE: Midcoast Railservice, a new subsidiary of Finger Lakes Railway, will assume the lease and operation of a 58.7-mile state-owned branch line in Maine from Central Maine & Quebec Railway. [Railway Age, 8-26-21]
THREE TRAINS COLLIDE IN ST. PAUL: Authorities are investigating how three freight trains collided in St. Paul. The collision happened Aug. 25 near a rail yard on the city's southeast side. A Canadian Pacific freight train, a BNSF train and a Union Pacific train were reportedly involved in the crash and resulting derailment of three locomotives and a lumber car. There were no injuries. [WCCO, 8-26-21]
MEXICO TO STUDY CONSTRUCTION OF PASSENGER RAIL PROJECTS: Mexico's railway regulator has launched several pre-investment studies to enable construction on five passenger train projects, and has confirmed studies for three more projects next year. Overall, the studies will cost $13-million by 2022. [Bnamericas, 8-26-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads originated 501,273 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending August 21, 2021, down 2.6 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 0.4 percent, and intermodal was down 5.1 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-25-21]
GATEWAY TUNNEL PROJECT TO BE RAMPED UP IN 2022, AMTRAK SAYS: Amtrak's chief executive says that construction on the Gateway rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey will substantially increase in 2022. The long-sought $11-billion project was approved by the administration earlier this year. [Bloomberg News, 8-25-21]
PASSENGER SHOT, KILLED BY AMTRAK POLICE IN CHICAGO: An individual allegedly facing multiple arrest warrants was shot by Amtrak police at Chicago Union Station Aug. 24 as he alighted from the eastbound California Zephyr and then attempted to escape from police, injuring an Amtrak employee, and exchanged gunfire. The individual, who was shot in the chest, was transported to a hospital where he died. Amtrak and Chicago police are investigating the incident. [East Bay Times, 8-24-21]
METRO-NORTH INCREASING SERVICE ALONG THREE LINES: Metro-North will increase service on its Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines on Aug. 29, totaling 102 additional trains. The move will boost weekday service to 82 percent of the railroad's pre-pandemic schedule, and will feature a return to full weekend service on all three lines. [Progressive Railroading, 8-24-21]
ILLINOIS ANNOUNCES PROJECT TO MODERNIZE RAIL OPERATIONS IN METRO EAST REGION: The Illinois Dept. of Transportation has announced a $10.1-million project to modernize rail operations in the Metro East region in southern Illinois. The project involves reconfiguring a network of tracks and signals, and replacing a 97-year-old interlocking tower in Mitchell, Illinois. [Progressive Railroading, 8-24-21]
WORKER DIES AFTER BEING STRUCK BY TRUCK IN UNION PACIFIC YARD IN TEXAS: A worker died after being struck by a truck at the Union Pacific yard in Laredo, Texas, according to police. The 20-year-old man was employed at the yard along with the driver of an 18-wheeler. The driver was working on a mechanical issue on the trailer when victim was struck by the truck and died at the scene. [Laredo Morning Times, 8-24-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-one percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending August 22, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and six minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 8-23-21]
NJT INSTALLING ONBOARD VIDEO SYSTEMS: New Jersey Transit will be adding high-definition onboard video systems from Railhead Corp. The systems will enable NJT management to respond to situations and incidents quickly while maintaining a high level of safety and service, and allow the agency to live-stream video, initiate remote downloads of video, take a snapshot image, or view system health. The system includes 360-degree interior dome cameras installed in coaches. [Railway Age, 8-23-21]
AMTRAK TO RESTORE FULL COAST STARLIGHT SERVICE AUG. 23: Amtrak will restore full through Coast Starlight service between Los Angeles and Seattle on Aug. 23 - two weeks ahead of schedule - following several weeks of interruptions resulting from wildfires in northern California. [Progressive Railroading, 8-20-21]
STB PREPS FOR ON-TIME PASSENGER RAIL PERFORMANCE ENFORCEMENT: The Surface Transportation Board has selected senior staffer Neil Moyer to coordinate preparation efforts as it takes on new intercity passenger rail on-time performance responsibilities. The board will be empowered to investigate causes of substandard passenger rail on-time performance, to identify mitigating measures, and to prescribe relief when needed. [Railway Age, 8-20-21]
PORT OF LONG BEACH COMPLETES FINAL PHASE OF CONTAINER TERMINAL PROJECT: California's Port of Long Beach has completed its $1.5-billion container terminal project at Middle Harbor to boost capacity and improve cargo flow. The new terminal will be capable of moving twice the cargo with less than half of the air pollution of the two terminals it replaces. [Railway Age, 8-20-21]
FEDS EXTEND TRANSPORTATION MASK MANDATE INTO JAN. 2022: The federal government is extending its transportation mask mandate until at least January 18, 2022. Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control is working to possibly amend its face-mask protocol so that train travelers might not be required to wear masks in outdoor areas such as train platforms. [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 8-20-21]
OPPONENTS TO TEXAS HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECT DROP SUIT AGAINST FRA: Texans Against High-Speed Rail and allied groups have withdrawn a lawsuit against the Federal Railroad Administration which is conducting its review of the high-speed corridor. The groups withdrew their suit following a motion to dismiss was filed by the Dept. of Justice which had argued that the challenge was filed in the 'wrong court and in an untimely manner.' [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 8-20-21]
CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN INDIANA: Fourteen cars of a CSX train of about 80 cars derailed early Aug. 19 in Fountaintown, Indiana. No injuries were reported, but nearby residents were evacuated as a precaution. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-19-21]
BNSF REOPENS INTERMODAL FACILITY IN ARKANSAS: BNSF has reopened its Harvard intermodal facility in Marion, Arkansas, to meet increased demand in the Memphis region. It is located 27 miles northwest of BNSF's Memphis intermodal hub. All international intermodal shipments from the Port of Long Beach's Pier T terminal will now terminate at the Harvard facility, BNSF said. [Progressive Railroading, 8-19-21]
CALIFORNIA HSR APPROVES BAKERSFIELD-PALMDALE ALIGNMENT: The board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority has approved the final environmental impact report and statement for the 80-mile Bakersfield to Palmdale project alignment section. The action paves the way for full environmental quality act clearance of nearly 300 miles of the 500-mile phase 1 alignment from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Anaheim. [California High-Speed Rail Authority, 8-19-21]
KCS RESCHEDULES SHAREHOLDER VOTE ON MERGER WITH CN TO SEPT. 3: Kansas City Southern has postponed the special meeting of shareholders to vote on the merger agreement with Canadian National to Sept. 3, 2021. [Kansas City Southern, 8-19-21]
UNION PACIFIC TO BOOST BIODIESEL FOR SPECIFIC EMD LOCOMOTIVES: Union Pacific locomotives will be getting a boost of biodiesel fuel in specific EMD locomotives. Progress Rail has approved the use of up to 20 percent biodiesel blend, up from 5 percent, following testing of high-horsepower units. [Union Pacific, 8-19-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads originated 504,810 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending August 14, 2021, up 0.9 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 5.7 percent, and intermodal was down 3 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-18-21]
MULTICOMMODITY RAILPORT TO BE BUILT IN MOSSVILLE, LA.: Savage and Kansas City Southern are partnering to construct a multicommodity railport with transload and railcar storage capabilities in Mossville, Louisiana. Savage will own and operate the facility to be built on property leased from KCS, which will provide a link in the supply chains of Lake Charles area refineries, chemical plants and other businesses. [Progressive Railroading, 8-18-21]
AMTRAK, METRA RENTAL DISPUTE AT CHICAGO UNION STATION SETTLED: Federal regulators have settled a landlord-tenant dispute between Amtrak and Metra over the rent for Amtrak's Chicago Union Station. The Surface Transportation Board has ordered Metra to pay about $1-million more a year, for an annual rent of $10.67-million, with yearly increases tied to inflation. Other matters involving the lease are still in dispute, but the railroads agreed that the deal will run through Sept. 30, 2029, with a 10-year extension option. [Chicago Sun-Times, 8-17-21]
KCS TO DELAY SHAREHOLDER VOTE ON CN'S OFFER TO BUY THE RAILROAD: Kansas City Southern will delay this week's planned shareholder vote on Canadian National's $33.6-billion offer to buy the railroad because regulators have not yet ruled on CN's plan to use a voting trust as part of the acquisition. [Associated Press, 8-17-21]
NYC TRANSIT ADVANCES WORK TO PROTECT CONEY ISLAND YARD FROM SEVERE WEATHER EVENTS: New York City Transit has announced service changes that will affect D Train travelers in southern Brooklyn as the agency continues to fortify and enhance its Coney Island Yard complex. The latest phase of the project includes new flood walls, flood gates, and drainage pump stations to withstand storm surges such as were seen during superstorm Sandy. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-17-21]
CANADA TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR TWO SKYTRAIN PROJECTS IN VANCOUVER REGION: The Canadian government will provide more than $53-million (C) toward two SkyTrain projects in the Vancouver, B.C., area. It includes $28-million to redesign and upgrade the underground Burrard station, and $25-million to expand Expo and Millennium line stations to support larger five-car trains. [Progressive Railroading, 8-17-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-six percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending August 15, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 33 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 8-16-21]
RAINS, WASHOUTS IMPACT UNION PACIFIC FROM ARIZONA TO TEXAS: Union Pacific has told customers that torrential rains have been occurring in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and washouts affecting operations have resulted. Customers with traffic moving through the area can expect delays of up to 72 hours. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-16-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAIN DERAILS IN GEORGIA: Cleanup is underway after a Norfolk Southern train derailed about 32 rail cars near the downtown area of Oconee, Georgia, completely blocking a road. No injuries were reported. [Kansas City Star, 8-16-21]
MAUREY INSTRUMENTS CORP. ACQUIRED BY POWERRAIL ELECTRONICS TECHNOLOGY: PowerRail Electronics Technology, a supplier of new and remanufactured locomotive components, has acquired Maurey Instruments Corp of Alsip, Illinois, manufacturer of rheostats and other electronic components for nearly 70 years. [Railway Age, 8-16-21]
FIRST TRACKS PLACED FOR MINNESOTA'S S.W. GREEN LINE LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: The first light-rail transit tracks have been placed for Minnesota's Metro Transit Southwest light-rail Green line extension. It was installed near the future downtown Hopkins station in Hennepin County, bringing the project one step closer to connecting Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins. St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. [Progressive Railroading, 8-16-21]
UNION PACIFIC ADDS COAL BUSINESS FROM NEW MINE IN COLORADO: Union Pacific is onboarding Allegiance Coal's new mine near Jansen, Colorado, as part of a long-term agreement to export metallurgical coal into the Asian and South American markets. The first shipment out of the New Elk Coal Mine was in July, and the railroad anticipates hauling more than 8000 carloads in the first 12 months. [Railway Age, 8-16-21]
THE ANDERSONS INC. SELLS ITS RAILCAR LEASING BUSINESS: The Andersons Inc. has sold its railcar leasing business to American Industrial Transport Inc, and also intends to sell off its remaining railcar repair business, including 29 U.S. facilities. The Andersons Inc. plans to focus on its agricultural businesses. [Railway Age, 8-16-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO REOPEN GREENCASTLE, PA., INTERMODAL TERMINAL: Norfolk Southern will reopen its intermodal terminal in Greencastle, Pa., this September to boost capacity and ease supply-chain congestion. The company had opened to facility in 2013 as part of its Crescent Corridor initiative, but closed it in 2019 leaving open the possibility of resuming operations if market conditions changed. [Railway Age, 8-13-21]
D.C. METRO TO REDEVELOP WEST FALLS CHURCH STATION SITE: The Washington DC Metropolitan Transit Authority has signed an agreement to redevelop the West Falls Church station site. The plans call for creating a mixed-use community with over a million square feet of office, retail and residential space. [Progressive Railroading, 8-13-21]
JENNIFER HOMENDY SWORN IN AS NTSB CHAIR: Jennifer L. Homendy took the oath of office as chair of the National Transportation Safety Board Aug. 13 at a ceremony at the agency's headquarters. Vice-chair Bruce Landsberg, who served as acting chair since July 1, returns to his position as vice-chair. [NTSB, 8-13-21]
KCS REJECTS CP'S LATEST MERGER OFFER: Kansas City Southern is trying to keep its $33.6-billion merger with Canadian National on track by rejecting a competing $31-billion bid from rival Canadian Pacific. KCS said its board unanimously decided to continue backing CN's higher offer. [Associated Press, 8-12-21]
DIESEL FUEL SPILLED AT BRIGHTLINE BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION SITE: Cleanup efforts are ongoing in Florida following a 300-gallon diesel fuel spill at a Brightline railroad bridge construction site at the Eau Gallie River. The spill happened on a wooden trestle that was supporting cranes, and it is unclear how much of the fuel spilled into the river. Crews had been working over the past few months to replace the existing bridge with two concrete bridges. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-12-21]
GRAND OPENING OF PULLMAN NATIONAL MONUMENT VISITOR CENTER IS THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND: The National Park Service and Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources invite the public to celebrate the grand opening of Pullman National Monument visitor center and State Historic site grounds in Chicago on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-5. The weekend will feature tours of the visitor center and historic Hotel Florence, and other events and activities. [National Park System, 8-12-21]
BRIGHTLINE EXPECTS TO REOPEN FLORIDA SERVICE IN NOVEMBER: Brightline will restore service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in the first half of November. All service was suspended in March of last year due to the pandemic. [Railway Age, 8-11-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads moved 509,607 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending August 7, 2021, up 2.4 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 6.3 percent, and intermodal was down 0.6 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-11-21]
CANADA COMMITS TO IMPROVING ONTARIO'S MILTON RAIL CORRIDOR: Canada's ministry of transport confirms that the Canadian government is committed to improving the Milton corridor in Ontario by reducing passenger and freight bottlenecks through Mississauga and Milton. Increasing capacity on the corridor is key to allow two-way, all-day GO Transit service for commuters. [Railway Age, 8-11-21]
ELEVEN CHARGED IN SEPTA FRAUD SCHEME: Nine SEPTA managers and two vendors have been charged with bribery and fraud in schemes involving alleged exploitation of 'procurement cards.' The vendors allegedly agreed to provide cash and personal items to the managers from 2013 through 2019, and then billed SEPTA to cover the cost of those payments and products and to generate additional proceeds for themselves. [U.S. Dept. of Justice, 8-11-21]
CP RAISES ITS OFFER TO BUY KCS: Canadian Pacific has raised its offer to buy Kansas City Southern by about $2-billion. The offer marks a U-turn by CP, which had earlier said it would not raise its bid. Still, the offer is lower than the proposal agreed to by Canadian National. [Reuters, 8-10-21]
BNSF POSTS 26 PCT REVENUE BOOST IN 2-Q: For second-quarter 2021, BNSF revenue came in at $5.8-billion, up 26 percent from the prior-year period, reflecting a 24 percent increase in volumes, led by consumer products, the company said. [Railway Age, 8-10-21]
WABTEC MARKS 1000TH LOCOMOTIVE MODERNIZATION: Wabtec recently marked the 1000th locomotive modernization the company has completed in North and South America. The milestone unit was delivered to Norfolk Southern, which accounts for 500 of the 1000 locomotives Wabtec has modernized. [Progressive Railroading, 8-10-21]
STB ESTABLISHES 2020 COST OF CAPITAL FOR RAILROADS AS 7.89 PCT: The Surface Transportation Board has decided that the annual cost of capital for the railroad industry in 2020 was 7.89 percent. This figure represents the board's office of economics estimate of the average rate of return needed to persuade investors to provide capital to the freight rail industry. [Railway Age, 8-10-21]
SENATE PASSES $550-B INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE: The Senate on Aug. 10 passed a $550-billion infrastructure package to modernize the nation's public infrastructure. The package includes nearly $845-million per year for highway-rail grade crossing safety, and provides significant funding for intercity passenger rail with a set-aside to address Northeast corridor maintenance backlogs and to replace current critical infrastructure. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-10-21]
ALSTOM TO PROVIDE 150 CORADIA STREAM TRAINS TO ITALY: Alstom has won a framework contract from Italy's Trenitalia to provide 150 Coradia Stream regional trains. The single-deck, bi-directional electric train sets are designed for a maximum speed of 105 MPH. [Progressive Railroading, 8-10-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty (40) percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending August 8, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and five minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 8-9-21]
DOWNEASTER SPONSOR SUPPORTS CSX'S PROPOSED ACQUISITION OF PAN AM RAILWAYS: CSX has reached an agreement with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority to support CSX's planned acquisition of Pan Am Railways. The authority's support for the transaction is significant given its role as the primary state sponsor of Amtrak's Downeaster service from Boston into Maine. [Progressive Railroading, 8-9-21]
STB ISSUES FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR UINTA BASIN RAILWAY PROJECT: The Surface Transportation Board's office of environmental analysis has issued a final environmental impact statement for the proposed Uinta Basin Railway project in Utah. The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition is seeking authority to construct and operate the proposed line, which would extend 85 miles from two terminus points in the Uinta Basin, and is working with Rio Grande Pacific, which would operate the line, and others to develop the project. [Progressive Railroading, 8-9-21]
CORONER RULES WORKER'S DEATH AT ENOLA YARD AN ACCIDENT: The Cumberland County, Pa., coroner's office has ruled that the Aug. 4 death of a 58-year-old worker at Norfolk Southern's rail yard in Enola was accidental. The worker died when a guardrail gave way and he fell into a 40-foot pit. [Patriot-News, 8-9-21]
SOUND TRANSIT ADOPTS REALIGNED EXPANSION PLAN: Seattle's Sound Transit has adopted a realignment plan that aims to serve as a framework for delivering transit expansion across the region as rapidly as possible. A steep rise in real estate and constructions costs, along with advancing environmental reviews and project designs, have driven up cost estimates for further expansions. The adopted realignment plan will guide the delivery dates for the next generation of voter-approved projects, officials said. [Progressive Railroading, 8-9-21]
ILLINOIS ESTABLISHES HIGH-SPEED RAILWAY COMMISSION: The governor of Illinois has signed a bill authorizing the formation of the Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission. It will be responsible for creating a statewide plan for a high-speed line and feeder network connecting Chicago to St. Louis. [Railway Age, 8-9-21]
BNSF COAL TRAIN DERAILS IN N.D.: Cleanup at the site of a coal train that derailed southeast of Bismarck, N.D., Aug. 8 should be finished and the track reopened within several days, said BNSF. Twenty-four cars left the tracks, several tipping over onto their side. No injuries were reported. [Bismarck Tribune, 8-9-21]
STB DENIES MOTION FROM TWO RAILROADS TO DISMISS AMTRAK'S REQUEST FOR GULF COAST TRAINS: The Surface Transportation Board has denied a motion from CSX and Norfolk Southern to dismiss Amtrak's request for the board to require the two carriers to allow Amtrak to relaunch Gulf Coast passenger rail service. The order establishes a procedural schedule and appoints an administrative law judge to resolve disputes in the matter. [Progressive Railroading, 8-6-21]
AMTRAK PROVIDING REFRESHED MENUS FOR ACELA FIRST-CLASS PASSENGERS: First-class passengers onboard Amtrak Acela trains on the Northeast corridor will have a refreshed food and beverage menu along with a top-quality dining experience, featuring a return to traditional and sustainable serviceware. First-class customers may now select from rotating menus consisting of omelets, huevos rancheros, eggs benedict for breakfast, and chicken tandoori, lobster crab cakes, vegetable puff pastry, artisan cheese and fruit or freshly made salads for lunch and dinner. [Progressive Railroading, 8-6-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAIN DERAILS IN MISSOURI: A Norfolk Southern train carrying Ford F-150 trucks and vans suffered a derailment earlier in the week. It happened in Ralls County, Missouri, about 100 miles northwest of St. Louis. A total of 46 cars left the tracks. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-6-21]
TWO RAIL-READY SITES IN TEXAS DESIGNATED ON PANHANDLE NORTHERN R.R.: OmniTRAX has announced the designation of two new rail-ready sites on the Panhandle Northern Railroad in partnership with Borger Inc. in Borger, Texas. The sites provide supply chain efficiencies from convenient transload options and a connection to BNSF. [Progressive Railroading, 8-6-21]
CONGRESS SEEKS TO REDUCE DELAYS TO CROSS-BORDER TRAVEL BY TRAIN: Amtrak services to and from Canada remain suspended at this time. However, Congress' infrastructure bill wants to make it easier for Americans and Canadians to cross the border when using Amtrak. Such trains often waste hours at border stations while passengers undergo custom screenings. One requirement of the bill includes studying the feasibility of expanding border pre-clearance capabilities for rail, similar to capabilities most commonly found in Canadian airports. That process could be implemented in major Canadian train stations to reduce journey times. [Business Insider, 8-5-21]
BLUE RIDGE SOUTHERN R.R. GETS $4.5-M GRANT FROM N.C. FOR UPGRADES: Blue Ridge Southern Railroad has been given a North Carolina Ports Authority matching grant of $4,506,000 for four projects to upgrade track, crossings and bridges in Haywood, Buncombe, Henderson and Jackson counties. The grant is part of approximately $10.2-million granted by the agency to 12 short lines for rail freight and safety improvements. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-6-21]
RICHARD TRUMKA DIES, LEADER OF AFL-CIO: Richard L. Trumka, 12-year leader of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO, died Aug. 5. He was 72. [Railway Age, 8-6-21]
UNION PACIFIC'S BIG BOY RETURNING TO THE RAILS FOR FIVE-WEEK TOUR: Union Pacific's Big Boy steam locomotive 4014 is returning to the rails Aug. 5 for a five-week tour that includes public display events in five cities, along with brief stops in more than 90 other communities. This is the first time Big Boy has gone on tour since its post-restoration debut in 2019. Display events include Fort Worth on Aug. 14, Houston on Aug. 17, New Orleans on Aug. 21, St. Louis on Aug. 29, and Denver on Sept. 6. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-5-21]
SIEMENS MOBILITY ACQUIRING SQUILLS: Siemens Mobility has announced it is acquiring Dutch cloud-based inventory management, reservations and ticketing software provider Squills for $658.9-million. Squills currently employs 160 people, and forecasts $47.3-million in revenue for 2022 through a software-as-a-service business model. The company currently supplies 33 operators across nine countries. [Railway Age, 8-5-21]
RAIL-SERVED MULTIMODAL LOGISTICS FACILITY BEING ESTABLISHED IN OKLAHOMA: A significant portion of the Ardmore, Oklahoma, Industrial Airpark will become an international multimodal logistics facility. The park will include more than 200 acres of shovel-ready and build-to-suit land with access to BNSF rail, truck and air transport. [Progressive Railroading, 8-5-21]
JULY 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads originated 1,970,839 carloads and intermodal units in July 2021, up 3.8 percent from the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 6.6 percent, and intermodal was up 1.5 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-4-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN EMPLOYEE DIES IN ACCIDENT IN ENOLA YARD, PA.: A Norfolk Southern employee was killed in an accident Aug. 4 at the company's Enola Yard near Harrisburg, Pa. Officials are investigating the accident. [Local 21 News, 8-4-21]
HITACHI RAIL TO ACQUIRE THALES' GROUND TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS: Hitachi Rail has agreed to acquire Thales' Ground Transportation Systems business for an enterprise value of about $1.97-billion. Thales' Ground Transportation Systems is a global leader in rail signaling and train-control systems, telecommunications and supervision systems, and fare-collecting solutions. [Progressive Railroading, 8-4-21]
TRANSLOAD TERMINAL OPENED NEAR STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA: Savage, a Utah-based global infrastructure and supply chain services company, has opened a multi-commodity transload terminal in San Joaquin County, California, near Stockton. Served by Stockton Terminal & Eastern Railroad, it connects with BNSF and Union Pacific. [Railway Age, 8-4-21]
L.A. METRO ADVANCES SEPULVEDA TRANSIT CORRIDOR PROJECT: Los Angeles Metro has issued notices to proceed to two private-sector teams to officially begin pre-development work on Sepulveda Transit Project concepts. The line will connect the San Fernando Valley with the Westside and eventually LAX. [Progressive Railroading, 8-4-21]
TRANSIT WORKFORCE CENTER BEING ESTABLISHED: The International Transportation Learning Center in Silver Spring, Md., has been awarded $5-million to establish and run the Federal Transit Administration's first Transit Workforce Center, which will help agencies nationwide recruit, hire, train and retain employees. Operations are expected to begin in late fall 2021. [Railway Age, 8-3-21]
BLET REACHES BARGAINING AGREEMENT WITH PATH: Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with Port Authority Trans-Hudson. The contract governs rates of pay, work rules and health care benefits for more than 175 members. [Progressive Railroading, 8-3-21]
EIGHT NEW AMTRAK CASCADE TRAINS WILL BE RUNNING BY 2025. Eight new Amtrak Cascades trains will be running by 2025 in a multibillion dollar project. The replacement fleet will include Wi-Fi and individual power outlets and USB ports for each seat, and will be able to run two additional trips. Washington and Oregon contract with Amtrak to run the Cascades line. [The Columbian, 8-3-21]
LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS SUING PACIFIC HARBOR LINE: Attorneys on behalf of seven former or current railroad locomotive engineers at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are suing Pacific Harbor Line, its parent company, and two managers for alleged racial discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation. [My News L.A., 8-3-21]
CN, CP PREDICT LOWER GRAIN SHIPMENTS IN COMING SEASON: Canada's two largest railways say they are unlikely to repeat the record grain shipments they posted in the 2020 season due to unfavorable weather conditions over the summer. CN moved 31 million tons as of the end of July; CP says it moved 31.2 million tons. [Canadian Press, 8-3-21]
UNION PACIFIC REOPENS KEDDIE-PORTOLA LINE FOLLOWING FIRE CLOSURE: Union Pacific said on Aug. 2 that it has reopened the Keddie-Portola rail line which it had been forced to close because of the Dixie fire in California. Also, it was able to reopen the Dry Canyon bridge, which was shut down by another fire. [Yahoo Finance, 8-2-21]
MUDSLIDES IN COLORADO DISRUPT CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR: Mudslides in Colorado have blocked a number of Amtrak's California Zephyr trains. The slides were caused by rain over an area burned by a wildfire last summer. Passengers aboard Zephyr trains were given a choice to return to their starting point, or wait for the route to reopen. [SF Gate. 8-2-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-seven percent of Amtraik's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending August 1, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 30 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 8-2-21]
KCS RESPONDS TO CP'S PROXY STATEMENT SEEKING VOTES AGAINST CN'S MERGER PROPOSAL: Kansas City Southern responded to Canadian Pacific's recent filing of a preliminary proxy statement seeking votes against the CN-KCS merger proposal. KCS said CP's filing is part of an effort to defeat a transaction that offers KCS shareholders $50 more per share than CP was willing to offer. Moreover, even though CP claims that it is ready to re-engage with KCS, it has not made any new proposal. [Progressive Railroading, 8-2-21]
STB ACCEPTS FOR CONSIDERATION CSX'S REVISED APPLICATION TO CONTROL PAN AM SYSTEMS: The Surface Transportation Board has announced a decision accepting 'for consideration' the revised merger application by CSX to acquire control of Pan Am Systems and its shortline subsidiaries. The board's decision preliminarily determines that environmental and historic review is not necessary, and requests additional environmental information from CSX. The decision also establishes a schedule for proceeding, including deadlines for additional filings by the applicants, a period for public comments, and a deadline for a final STB decision. [Progressive Railroading, 8-2-21]
DANIEL MACHALABA DIES, TRANSPORTATION JOURNALIST: Veteran transportation journalist Daniel N. Machalaba, who spent 33 years at Wall Street Journal covering the railroad, trucking and maritime industries, died July 26. He was 72. Following his 2009 retirement, he contributed many feature stores to Trains Magazine. [Railway Age, 8-2-21]
WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO 'ATTACK AGAINST BNSF' IN WASHINGTON STATE: A Bellingham, Washington, woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to a 'terrorist attack and violence' against BNSF in northwestern Washington. She admitted to helping another person install a device on the tracks to shunt the signals, and that they had acted with 'the intent to cause trains to delay operation.' Her alleged accomplice, meanwhile, has pleaded not guilty, and is scheduled to go on trial later this month. [AP News, 8-2-21]
CANADIAN RAIL OPERATING RULES FOR UNCONTROLLED MOVEMENT OF EQUIPMENT CHANGED: Transport Canada has approved changes to the Canadian rail operating rules that involve uncontrolled movement of rail equipment. Air brakes must now be used during switching operations, measures must be taken to ensure that stationary equipment is secured during switching, and speed restrictions are established in remote-control switching. [Progressive Railroading, 8-2-21]
TWO MBTA TROLLEYS COLLIDE, 25 INJURED: The Boston Globe reported that two MBTA Green line trolleys ran into each other July 30. Twenty-five people were injured, but none were fatal. One of the trolley operators was placed on administrative leave until the outcome of an investigation. [Railway Track & Structures, 8-2-21]
JULY 2021 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 July 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was one hour and nine minutes late. The average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and 50 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 8-1-21]
ARBITRATOR RULES NEED FOR NEGOTIATIONS OVER FREIGHT TRAIN CREW SIZE: An arbitrator has issued a final and binding decision providing for the resumption of negotiations over freight train crew size and staffing with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union. The arbitrator found that standard moratorium language in decades-old agreements does not bar negotiations over crew size. [Progressive Railroading, 7-30-21]
EAST CHICAGO RAIL TERMINAL OPENS TRANSLOAD FACILITY: East Chicago Rail Terminal has partnered with East Chicago Transload to bring both common-carrier rail switching services and transload offerings to a single location. On July 27, the company opened a new transload facility in East Chicago, Indiana, near interstates 65, 90 and 94. [Progressive Railroading, 7-29.21]
INTENTIONS OF CSX OVER ACQUISITION OF PAN AM SYSTEM: The acquisition of Pan Am by CSX, if approved, would expand CSX's reach in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, while adding trackage in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Over five years, CSX would upgrade and modernize the Pan Am system and operate it with a smaller, more reliable and more fuel-efficient fleet. [Progressive Railroading, 7-29-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending July 24, 2021, was 503,219 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 7.1 percent, and intermodal was up 2.6 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-28-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern's net income in the second-quarter 2021 rose 109 percent to $819-million or $3.28 diluted earnings per share compared with $392-million or $1.53 diluted earnings per share in the same quarter last year. Income from railway operations climbed 91 percent to $1.2-billion. Operating ratio was 58.3 percent, a new record. Operating revenue of $2.8-billion increased 34 percent, while railway operating expenses of $1.6-billion increased 11 percent. [Progressive Railroading, 7-28-21]
METRA APPROVES $28.2-M CONTRACT FOR NEW AUBURN PARK STATION: Chicago's Metra board has approved a $28.2-million construction contract for a new Auburn Park station on the Rock Island line. The new, fully-accessible station will feature a 480-foot-long platform. [Progressive Railroading, 7-28-21]
KAWASAKI LAUNCHES REMOTE TRACK MONITORING TECHNOLOGY: Kawasaki Heavy Industries has launched remote track monitoring services with information and communication technology for the first time in North America. The company has received an order from a railroad for equipping the technology in locomotives with sensors and cameras to measure and analyze parameters of track during normal service operations. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-28-21]
NORTH CAROLINA R.R. INVESTING IN TRACK REHAB FOR NEW BEVERAGE FACILITY: The North Carolina Railroad is investing $700,000 toward the rehabilitation of the lead track at a new beverage manufacturing campus in Concord, N.C., to be built by Red Bull, Rauch & Ball Corp. It will connect the railroad and be served by freight provider Norfolk Southern. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-28-21]
CP REPORTS 2-Q RESULTS: Canadian Pacific Railway reported record second-quarter 2021 revenues of $2.05-billion, an operating ratio of 60.1 percent, record adjusted operating ratio of 55.3 percent, record diluted earnings per share of $1.86, and record adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.03. [CP, 7-28-21]
D.C. METRO DELAYING OPENING OF POTOMAC YARD METRORAIL STATION: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is delaying the opening of its Potomac Yard Metrorail station for at least five months after it was determined that the automatic train-control system did not meet certain operational safety requirements. Originally slated to open next April, it is now anticipated to open in the fall of 2022. [Progressive Railroading, 7-27-21]
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE CLOSES UNION PACIFIC'S KEDDIE-PORTOLA LINE: Union Pacific said that the Dixie fire in California had reached its main railway line running between Keddie and Portola, forcing a temporary closure. Meanwhile, the railroad said the Dry Canyon bridge north of Redding has sustained significant structural damage from the recent Lava fire, and will not be ready for service again until about mid-August. [Reuters, 7-27-21]
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 July 25, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived two hours and one minute late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 7-26-21]
CHICAGO IS NEW BOTTLENECK IN GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN: Chicago is emerging as a new bottleneck in the global supply chain as rail, trucks and logistics operators struggle with a glut of imports from Asia reaching the freight hub. Union Pacific and BNSF have limited container shipments into their overstuffed freight-switching terminals in the area, and some cargo owners have sought to divert shipments to other transfer points, such as St. Louis, Kansas City and Memphis, raising costs and adding new complications to already-snarled distribution networks. [Hellenic Shipping News, 7-26-21]
DARREN KETTLE NAMED CEO OF METROLINK: The board of Southern California Regional Rail Authority has appointed Darren Kettle CEO of Metrolink, effective Sept. 7. He moves to his new position following about 14 years as executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission, and he succeeds Arnold Hackett, interim CEO. [Railway Age, 7-26-21]
MILWAUKEE'S HOP STREETCAR RETURNING TO REGULAR SERVICE: The Hop streetcar system in Milwaukee returns to regular service schedules and frequency beginning Aug. 1. The service has been reduced due to the pandemic. [Progressive Railroading, 7-26-21]
AITX RAILCAR SERVICES EXPANDING IN BROOKHAVEN, MISSISSIPPI: AITX Railcar Services is expanding in Brookhaven, Mississippi, with a $23.4-million project. It chose the location due to the availability of land and direct service from CN. Mississippi's Development Authority is providing assistance for the extension of a rail spur. [Progressive Railroading, 7-26-21]
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE CHAIR OPPOSES TRUST FOR CN-KCS MERGER: U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee chair Peter DeFazio has notified the Surface Transportation Board that he opposes the approval of a trust for the proposed merger of Canadian National and Kansas City Southern, stating that the trust is not in the public interest and would reduce competition. [U.S. House of Representatives T&I Committee, 7-26-21]
CN TRAIN DERAILS IN ONTARIO, MINOR INJURIES TO TWO CREW MEMBERS: A Canadian National train hauling 99 cars derailed, putting a locomotive and 24 empty intermodal cars on the ground near Pointe au Baril, Ontario. A washout is considered the most likely cause. Two crew members received minor injuries. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-26-21]
UNION PACIFIC BUILDING GRAIN TRANSLOAD FACILITY IN JOLIET, ILLINOIS: Union Pacific is building a state-of-the-art grain transload facility within its Global-IV intermodal terminal in Joliet, Illinois, that will reduce supply-chain costs for agricultural producers and processors. Customers will be able to transport their product by truck to the facility where it will be transloaded into marine containers for shipment by rail to West Coast ports. [High Plains Journal, 7-25-21]
CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN KENTUCKY: No injuries or traffic issues were reported after seven cars of a train derailed near Colesburg, Ky., around 8:15 P.M. July 20. CSX confirmed that the train was not carrying any hazardous materials. No one was injured. [WDRB, 7-23-21]
RAIL TUNNEL IN AUSTIN NEEDS TO BE OVER A MILE LONGER THAN PLANNED: For the new transit tunnel to be built beneath Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas, it needs to hit bedrock, which makes it virtually impossible to emerge just south of the lake due to the depth. The next point to surface is no option, either, due to a number of intersections and a flood plain, and further south there is yet another flood plain. Officials believe the best opportunity to emerge is more than a mile further than expected, which will add millions to the cost. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-23-21]
STB CONCERNED OVER RAIL CONGESTION: The chairman of the Surface Transportation Board has reached out to all class I railroads expressing concern over persistent problems with congestion in the international intermodal supply chain and significant container storage fees that some shippers are being required to pay in order to receive their containers. The railroads are asked to provide information on the extent of congestion at key terminals and their policies and practices for assessing storage charges. The board has received numerous reports of congestion and storage fees. [Progressive Railroading, 7-23-21]
CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN RICHMOND: Thirteen cars of coal derailed the afternoon of July 23 in Richmond, Va., near Hollywood Cemetery. Some coal was spilled onto the ground, but there was no impact to waterways. There were no injuries. [ABC-8 News, 7-23-21]
UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific reported 2021 second-quarter net income of $1.8-billion, or $2.72 per diluted share, compared to $1.1-billion, or $1.67 per diluted share a year ago. Compared with 2-Q last year results, operating revenue of $5.5-billion jumped 30 percent. Operating ratio improved to 55.1 percent during the quarter from 61 percent a year ago. [Progressive Railroading, 7-22-21]
CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN INDIANA: A CSX train carrying intermodal containers derailed early July 21 in Auburn, Indiana. There were no injuries to the crew. Preliminary reports indicate that there were no spills from the containers. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-22-21]
FEDS APPROVE LAGUARDIA AIRTRAIN PROJECT: The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the proposed $2-billion AirTrain elevated fixed-guideway automated people mover system following environmental review. It would link LaGuardia Airport in New York with the Transit 7 Line and the Long Island Rail Road Port Washington branch at Mets-Willets Point in Queens. [Railway Age, 7-22-21]
CN-SERVED QUILL LAKE GRAIN ELEVATOR IN SASKATCHEWAN BEING EXPANDED: Parrish & Heimbecker is expanding its CN-served Quill Lake, Saskatchewan, grain elevator so it can clear twice as much grain out of the facility. The number of rail car spots is being doubled from 50 to 100, and construction is slated to wrap up in November. [Railway Age, 7-22-21]
RAILROADS SLASHED WORKERS OVER SIX YEARS; NOW THEY COMPLAIN OF WORKER SHORTAGE: After slashing 33 percent of workers in six years, railroads now complain of labor shortage amid an uproar over slow shipments. The results of efforts to hire people back are barely visible. It turns out, it is a lot easier to cut a work force than it is to suddenly hire workers. The resulting deterioration in service has triggered numerous complaints from shippers. [Wolf Street, 7-22-21]
CICERO, ILLINOIS, SUING BNSF OVER RAINWATER RUNOFF: The town of Cicero, Illinois, has filed suit against BNSF alleging that the railroad intentionally elevated its land surface and covered the soft ground with pavement to force the runoff of rainwater from its property onto surrounding town neighborhoods. The town is asking that the railroad be ordered to construct appropriate detention ponds or other stormwater management systems and confirm that rainwater does not endanger homeowners. [Suburban Chicagoland, 7-21-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending July 17, 2021, was 513,255 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.6 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 9.7 percent, and intermodal was up 4.1 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-21-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN CLOSING ENGINE HOUSE IN CRESSON, PA.: Norfolk Southern's engine house in Cresson, Pa., will close at the end of the month. Seven mechanical employee positions will be eliminated. [Altoona Mirror, 7-21-21]
CSX REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: CSX reported second-quarter 2021 net earnings of $1.17-billion or 52 cents per share, compared to $499-million or 22 cents per share in the same period last year. Operating ratio was 43.4 percent compared to 63.3 percent in the prior year period. These results include benefits from the sale of property rights in certain line segments to Virginia for passenger rail operations. Revenue for the quarter increased 33 percent from the prior year to $2.99-billion. [CSX, 7-21-21]
PA. N.E. REGIONAL RAIL AUTHORITY TO HELP FUND STUDY FOR SCRANTON-NEW YORK PASSENGER RAIL: The Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority has signed a deal with Amtrak with $400,000 in funding for a detailed study on bringing passenger rail service to connect Scranton and New York City. It is expected to take Amtrak a year to carry out the study. [Scranton Times-Tribune, 7-21-21]
CHINESE MAGLEV SET DESIGNED FOR 373 MPH OPERATION COMPLETED: The first complete five-car maglev trainset designed for 373 MPH operation was formally rolled out by CRRC Qingdao Sifang on July 20. A three-mile test track has been developed allowing the train to operate as slow speed, but a longer track suitable for high-speed running is planned. [Railway Gazette, 7-21-21]
CN REPORTS 2-Q RESULTS: Canadian National reported second-quarter operating income of $1.38-billion (C), an increase of 76 percent compared with the same quarter last year, or nine percent on an adjusted basis. Revenues of $3.6-billion increased 12 percent. Operating ratio was 61.6 percent. [CN, 7-20-21]
PETERSBURG, VA., AMTRAK STATION GETTING UPGRADE FUNDING: The Petersburg, Va., Amtrak station stands to get $1-million in federal infrastructure funding. It will go toward improving entry and exit on the station property. That includes new bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, upgrades to the road intersection at the station, and safety and ADA improvements. The announcement was the latest in a series of improvements planned for rail service in central Virginia. Plans were announced in March to build a new high-speed rail corridor between Petersburg and the North Carolina state line involving tracks abandoned by the former Seaboard Coast Line railroad. [Progress-Index, 7-19-21]
COAST STARLIGHT DISRUPTED BY WILDFIRES: Amtrak's Coast Starlight operations are currently suspended between Klamath Falls and Sacramento due to wildfires, and have been temporarily replaced by buses. This is expected to continue through September. [Amtrak, 7-19-21]
AMTRAK'S VERMONTER RETURNS TO NAMESAKE STATE: Amtrak's Vermonter is back in action, a move celebrated in communities at stations throughout Vermont following a 479-day absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. [Bennington Banner, 7-19-21]
PREFERRED ROUTE CHOSEN FOR PROPOSED CHARLOTTE-ATLANTA HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINE: A proposed high-speed passenger rail line linking Charlotte and Atlanta now has a preferred route. Three route options were evaluated, and the Greenfield corridor has been selected. The 274-mile line will connect Charlotte's Gateway station and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and may include two stations in South Carolina, three in North Carolina, and five in Georgia. [Railway Age, 7-19-21]
TORONTO'S YONGE NORTH SUBWAY EXTENSION WILL INCLUDE FOUR STATIONS: There will be a fourth station for the five-mile Yonge North Subway Extension bringing the Toronto Transit's existing Line 1 subway to Vaughan, Markham and Richmond Hill. The initial business case and supplementary analysis released by Metrolinx in March studied six stations, but it was determined that the $5.6-billion (C) funding envelope could only accommodate up to four. [Railway Age, 7-19-21]
MILWAUKEE GRANTS $1-M TOWARD NEW RAIL SPUR TRACK FOR KOMATSU MINING: Komatsu Mining's new facility in Milwaukee will have a new railroad spur. The city's public works committee approved $1-million in state funding for the construction of the $2.4-million spur which connect the company with existing Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific tracks. In exchange for the city's grant, Komatsu will retain 697 jobs for at least seven years. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-19-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-four percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending July 18, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived two hours and 12 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 7-19-21]
KCS REPORTS 2-Q RESULTS: Kansas City Southern reported a $378-million net loss in the second-quarter 2021. Revenues of $749.5-million were an increase of 37 percent from the same quarter last year, but operating expenses were $1.181-billion, including a $700-million termination fee paid to Canadian Pacific. A $700-million reimbursement from Canadian National will be recognized upon KCS shareholder vote on the proposed merger with CN. [Kansas City Southern, 7-16-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN UTAH, THREE CREW MEMBERS HURT: A Union Pacific train derailed late July 15 northwest of Cedar City, Utah, injuring its three crew members who were able to get themselves out onto the upper side of their tipped-over locomotive. The crew reported there had been water covering the tracks just prior to the derailment. [St. George News, 7-16-21]
METROPARK, N.J., TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT PROJECT ADVANCING: New Jersey Transit has released a request for proposals for development of 12 acres adjacent to the Metropark train station on the Northeast corridor. The site is envisioned for transformative mixed-use phased to create a new community centered at the transportation facilities. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-16-21]
CALGARY-BANFF PASSENGER RAIL PROJECT ENVISIONED: A proposed 93-mile Calgary-Banff passenger rail project in Alberta has been proposed, and a detailed memorandum of understanding has been released. It could potentially include seven stops built within the existing Canadian Pacific right-of-way, and could offer up to 10 departures per day between Calgary International Airport and Banff, and express service between the airport and downtown Calgary every 15 minutes. [Railway Age, 7-16-21]
UNION PACIFIC SUSPENDING WEST COAST SHIPMENTS TO CHICAGO'S GLOBAL IV GATEWAY: Union Pacific is suspending service between the West Coast and its Global IV gateway in Chicago in an effort to improve congestion at the inland intermodal terminal. The suspension begins this coming Sunday, July 18, and will last a week. [Supply Chain Drive, 7-16-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN ELIMINATES 100 POSITIONS AT JUNIATA LOCOMOTIVE SHOP: Norfolk Southern, on July 10, furloughed 86 shop employees and eliminated an additional 14 jobs through attrition at Altoona's Juniata Locomotive Shop. About 400 employees remain at the facility. [Altoona Mirror, 7-15-21]
METRO CLOSING TWO MORE TICKET OFFICES: Due to declining on-site sales, Chicago's Metra, on July 26, will close its ticket offices at the Lake Forest station on the Union Pacific North line, and the Villa Park station on the Union Pacific West line. Passengers will continue to have access to the station facilities. [Progressive Railroading, 7-15-21]
RENFE CONTRACTED TO OPERATE TEXAS CENTRAL LINE: Texas Central, developers of the planned Dallas-Houston high-speed train, has contracted with Renfe to be the early operator for the system. Renfe, based in Spain, will work with Texas Central on the design and development of the commercial aspects of the system, provide expertise and support senior decision-makers, leverage existing capabilities within the organization, and provide advisory and consulting services on final design, execution, construction, testing and commissioning of civil, station and buildings, core systems and operations and maintenance technology. [Progressive Railroading, 7-15-21]
AMTRAK RECALLING THOUSANDS OF FURLOUGHED WORKERS: Thousands of Amtrak employees who had been furloughed because of the pandemic are being recalled as the train cars are again fully reopened. [Heart of Illinois ABC, 7-15-21]
U.S. COMMISSION PROPOSES $117-B PLAN TO UPGRADE N.E. CORRIDOR: A U.S. government commission has proposed a $117-billion plan to remake Amtrak's Northeast corridor by 2035. The improvements would include repairs or upgrades to track, tunnels, bridges and stations, and allow a substantial increase in train service. The upgrades would allow trains to travel at 160 MPH along 132 miles of the 457-mile corridor, compared to the current 150 MPH on just 32 miles. [Reuters, 7-14-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic was 451,825 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending July 10, 2021, up 0.6 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 4.3 percent, and intermodal was down 2.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-14-21]
TWO AMTRAK EMPLOYEES DISMISSED FOR ACCEPTING GIFTS FROM CONTRACTOR: Two Amtrak employees - a management official and an inspector - have been terminated after having allegedly accepted gifts from a construction contractor which was awarded a $58-million contract from Amtrak. Terminations were in February and March of this year. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-14-21]
WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON ADDS ELECTRIC TRAM: Not everyone is comfortable venturing out onto the 212-foot-high, 1.28-mile Poughkeepsie Bridge spanning the Hudson River. Friends of the Walkway have secured an all-electric 12-passenger tram to transport mostly physically-challenged visitors across the former railroad bridge, now converted to a walkway. It operates at no cost, weather permitting, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M., during peak season, and on special occasions. [Walkway Over the Hudson]
CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON L.A. AIRPORT METRO CONNECTOR: Los Angeles County Metro has begun construction on the $898.6-million Airport Connector project that will directly connect the county's transit system to Los Angeles International Airport. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-13-21]
RAIL OFFICIALS REACT TO PRESIDENT'S ECONOMIC COMPETITION EXECUTIVE ORDER: Freight and passenger rail industry officials have offered mixed reactions to President Biden's new executive order on economic competition, which calls on the Surface Transportation Board to require freight railroads to provide rights-of-way to passenger rail and to strengthen their obligations to treat other freight companies fairly. The Association of American Railroads say the executive order includes a 'misguided direction' to interfere with functioning freight markets that could ultimately undermine the ability to reliably serve customers. [Progressive Railroading, 7-12-21]*
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty (40) percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending July 11, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 42 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 7-12-21]
PARTNERSHIP FORMED TO ADVANCE EDMONTON-CALGARY HSR LINE: Construction services and infrastructure development company EllisDon has formed a partnership to advance the development of high-speed rail connecting Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary in Alberta. EllisDon and its team proposed the project within the framework of Alberta's unsolicited proposal guidelines. [Progressive Railroading, 7-12-21]
CN, CP BANNED FROM RUNNING IN CERTAIN SUBDIVISIONS IN B.C. DUE TO FIRE DANGER: The Canadian Ministry of Transport has ordered Canadian National and Canadian Pacific not to operate trains in certain subdivisions in British Columbia where the fire danger level is 'extreme.' The order is in effect until Oct. 31 between Kamloops and Boston Bar and between Kamloops and North Bend. [Progressive Railroading, 7-12-21]
TROPICAL STORM IMPACTS COMMUTERS IN NEW YORK, CONNECTICUT: Tropical storm Elsa flooded subways in parts of New York City July 9, causing some passengers to wade through water to exit stations. In West Haven, Connecticut, Metro-North service was suspended after rainfall caused a landslide near the tracks. [N.Y. Times, 7-9-21]
BART EMPLOYING GOATS TO TRIM HILLSIDE BRUSH: Bay Area Rapid Transit is using goats to graze on brush along its right-of-way, according to the agency's website. Contracted from a herding business, the Spanish-Boer cross goats eat dry brush on a steep hillside, the type of terrain that can be hazardous to humans using mowers, which can spark fires. Neighbors, too, are fans of the program, as they prefer the gentle sound of bleating goats to the roar of power mowers. [Progressive Railroading, 7-9-21]
CANADA'S TSHIUETIN RAIL GRANTED $55-M FOR MODERNIZATION EFFORT: Tshiuetin, the first indigenous owned and operated railroad in Canada, will receive $55-million (C) from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the province of Quebec for modernization efforts. Tshiuetin operates a 135-mile regional railroad and a 357-mile passenger rail service along the northeastern Quebec and western Labrador rail corridor connecting three First Nations. [Railway Age, 7-9-21]
AMTRAK REPORTS SOME PROGRESS FROM HOST CARRIERS TOWARD PLANNED GULF COAST SERVICE: CSX and Norfolk Southern have given Amtrak 'limited' access to their properties along the Gulf Coast, according to a filing with the Surface Transportation Board. But they have not yet agreed to give Amtrak 'all' the access it says it needs to begin passenger rail service between New Orleans and Mobile. Amtrak is seeking access to the properties and personnel so that it can begin service on or about Jan. 1 of next year. [Progressive Railroading, 7-9-21]
DAVID SCOREY NAMED TO HEAD KEOLIS OPERATIONS IN NORTH AMERICA: David Scorey has been appointed president and CEO for Keolis North America. He succeeds Clement Michel, who was appointed senior executive vice-president of human resources and transformation of the Keolis Group, headquartered in Paris. [Progressive Railroading, 7-9-21]
AMTRAK PLANS $7.3-B PURCHASE OF NEW PASSENGER CARS, LOCOMOTIVES: Amtrak has announced a $7.3-billion plan to purchase new passenger cars and locomotives, upgrading a fleet that is nearly 50 years old. Siemens Mobility will manufacture up to 83 multipowered modern trains that will be leveraged for state and northeast services, with further options for up to 130 additional trains to support growth plans. The new trains will operate on the Northeast corridor, long-distance Palmetto and various state-supported routes that will replace Amfleet, Metroliner and state-owned equipment on certain routes. [Progressive Railroading, 7-8-21]
KCS SHAREHOLDERS TO VOTE ON MERGER WITH CN: A special meeting of Kansas City Southern stockholders will be held on-line to vote on the railroad's proposed combination with Canadian National on Aug. 19. Under terms of the merger agreement, KCS stockholders will receive $200 in cash and 1.129 shares of CN common stock for each KCS share. KCS preferred stockholders will receive $37.50 in cash for each share. [Railway Age, 7-8-21]
SEPTA'S DOWNTOWN TROLLEY TUNNEL TO CLOSE 17 DAYS FOR MAINTENANCE: SEPTA crews will work around-the-clock in Philadelphia's downtown tunnel for 17 days tackling critical track and power maintenance, station upgrades and intensive cleaning as part of the 2021 Trolley Tunnel Blitz. Five trolley routes will be impacted from the evening of July 9 through the early morning of July 26. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-8-21]
NEW TRAIN SERVICE PLANNED FOR QUEBEC CITY-TORONTO CORRIDOR: Canada's Ministry of Transport has announced plans to develop a new train service for the Quebec City-Toronto corridor, and a request for proposal is planned for release this fall. Called 'High Frequency Rail,' the project is intended to shorten travel times with faster trains, more direct routes, improved connections and service to more locations. [Progressive Railroading, 7-7-21]
BRIGHTLINE ACQUIRES SITE FOR LAS VEGAS TERMINAL: Brightline has purchased 110 acres of land at the south end of Las Vegas boulevard for a terminal, part of the planned $8.4-billion high speed rail project to connect southern California with Las Vegas. [Railway Age, 7-7-21]
JUNE 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in June 2021 was 2,561,977 carloads and intermodal units, up 14.5 percent compared with the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 19.1 percent, and intermodal was up 10.9 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-7-21]
CALTRAIN DELAYS OPENING OF SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO TERMINAL UNTIL NOVEMBER: Caltrain is delaying the opening of its South San Francisco rail station until November due to unforeseen conditions under Caltrain's tracks. [Progressive Railroading, 7-7-21]
STORMS DISRUPT NJT SERVICE IN EVENING COMMUTE: Commuters trying to get home on New Jersey Transit trains the evening of July 6 faced up to 90-minute delays due to downed trees and overhead catenary problems, the result of a storm. [, 7-6-21]
COLORADO CREATES 'TAXING DISTRICT' TOWARD FRONT RANGE PASSENGER RAIL CORRIDOR: Colorado's governor has signed a bill that creates a taxing district to oversee the formation of the Front Range passenger rail corridor that could lead to new Amtrak service. Back in May, Amtrak joined officials from Colorado and Wyoming in a discussion about the possibilities for the corridor, which would stretch between Pueblo and Cheyenne. [Progressive Railroading, 7-6-21]
CALIFORNIA ALLOCATES $20-M TOWARD RAIL FLYOVER BRIDGE IN STOCKTON: The California Transportation Commission has allocated $20-million toward a rail flyover bridge to separate Union Pacific and BNSF tracks at the Stockton inland port to facilitate traffic and reduce delays. [Transport Topics, 7-6-21]
CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON NEW CN-SERVED HIGH-THROUGHPUT GRAIN ELEVATOR IN SASKATCHEWAN: Parrish & Heimbecker has begun construction on a new high-throughput grain elevator in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, to be served by Canadian National. With a 150-car loop track for continuous grain loading and movement, it is slated for completion in June 2022, and replaces a 41-year-old facility. [Railway Age, 7-6-21]
FIRES HALT HUNDREDS OF RAIL CARS IN WESTERN CANADA: Hundreds of rail cars have been halted by wildfires that damaged tracks in western Canada during the region's severe heat wave, creating a bottleneck of exports and delaying imports. A fire that burned down a village in British Columbia last week damaged nearby tracks operated by CN and CP, the two railroads that handle the bulk of traffic in Vancouver, the country's biggest port. [Bloomberg, 7-6-21]
CP TRAIN DERAILS IN ALBERTA: A Canadian Pacific train derailed July 2 in Lacombe, Alberta. Twenty-three cars of the 128-car train, including one of four cars carrying liquid asphalt, derailed and leaked about 8500 gallons of the substance. [Railway Track & Structures, 7-6-21]
VIA RAIL ADDING FREQUENCY TO QUEBEC CITY-WINDSOR CORRIDOR: VIA Rail Canada is moving forward with a service resumption plan in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor by adding 63 weekly frequencies effective July 12, boosting service levels on the route from 38 percent to 54 percent. As provincial reopening plans progress, VIA Rail has also started to increase onboard capacity while continuing to employ various health and safety measures. [Progressive Railroading, 7-6-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-six percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending July 4, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 34 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 7-4-21]
AMTRAK SERVICE RETURNS TO VERMONT JULY 19: Officials are planning a celebration to mark the return of Amtrak service to Vermont on July 19. The event, at the Montpelier station, will also include officials from the town of Berlin and the Vermont agency of transportation. [NBC Boston, 7-4-21]
CSX SUBMITS AMENDED APPLICATION TO ACQUIRE PAN AM RAILWAYS: CSX has submitted an amended and supplemented application to the Surface Transportation Board as part of its agreement to acquire Pan Am Railways. It provides all of the additional details of the proposed transaction requested by the STB in its May 26 ruling. [Progressive Railroading, 7-2-21]
ADVOCATES SEEK PASSENGER RAIL FROM SCRANTON, PA., AREA TO N.Y.: Lawmakers and others hoping to bring passenger trains to the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area met July 2 in Scranton where they spoke of running trains between northeast Pennsylvania and New York City. Benefits discussed included employment, tourism and recreation. If the project happens, Amtrak trains would take people from the area and the Poconos, to New York and Boston. [WNEP, 7-2-21]
NTSB CHAIR ROBERT SUMWALT RETIRES: Robert Sumwalt, National Transportation Safety Board chair, retired from government service June 30, following 15 years at the agency. Member Jennifer Homendy was nominated by President Biden to become the new chair. Meanwhile, Bruce Landsberg, vice-chair, will serve as acting chair until a permanent chair is confirmed by the Senate. [Railway Age, 7-2-21]
N.Y.C. TRANSIT TAKES DELIVERY OF FIRST FIVE R211 METRO CARS: New York City Transit took delivery of its first five R211 metro cars on July 1, following delivery from Kawasaki. Testing will be begin in the next few weeks, with the cars expected to enter service on the subway's B-Division of lettered lines next summer. [Railway Gazette, 7-2-21]
AMTRAK'S COAST STARLIGHT SUSPENDED NORTH OF SACRAMENTO UNTIL MID-MONTH: Amtrak's Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight train is suspended between Seattle and Sacramento until about July 14 due to a temporary track closure. The train will still operate on its regular schedule south of Sacramento, and passengers between Seattle and Eugene may be accommodated on Cascades trains. No alternate transportation is offered between Eugene and Sacramento during the suspension. [Amtrak, 7-2-21]
ELECTRIFIED RAILWAY OPENS IN TIBET: The first electrified railway in Tibet was inaugurated June 25 with the start of operations on the Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet railway. [Railway Gazette, 7-2-21]
JUNE 2021 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-nine percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in June 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was one hour late. The average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and 37 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 7-1-21]
CSX COMPLETES ITS ACQUISITION OF QUALITY CARRIERS: CSX has completed its acquisition of Quality Carriers Inc., a North American provider of bulk liquid chemicals truck transportation from Quality Distribution Inc. Quality Carriers manages more than 2500 trucks and 6400 trailers that serve many of the largest chemical producers and processors. [Progressive Railroading, 7-1-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN HIKING CONTAINER RENTAL FEES AMID STRAINED CAPACITY: Norfolk Southern is raising daily rental fees for 53-foot EMP and TMX domestic intermodal containers, beginning July 14, to encourage customers to return the boxes quickly amid strained capacity. The new fee scale charges $20 per containers on days one through four, $50 on days five through seven, and $150 starting on day eight. [Norfolk Southern, 7-1-21]
BNSF CERTIFIES TWO NEW INDUSTRIAL PROPERTIES AS 'PREMIER' SITES: BNSF has certified two new industrial properties on its network as Premier Parks, bringing the total under the program to 29. They include Fort Peck Tribal Industrial Park in Poplar, Montana; and Somerville Industrial in Somerville, Texas. [Railway Age, 7-1-21]
SOUND TRANSIT RESUMING NORMAL CAPACITY OF COMMUTER RAIL: Normal capacity on Sounder and Tacoma Link routes resume July 1, and Sound Transit's Link light-rail routes resume July 3. [Progressive Railroading, 7-1-21]
CSX TO PAY BACK WAGES, FINE FOR FIRING WHISTLE-BLOWER: The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration has found that CSX violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act and demonstrated a pattern of retaliation after firing a worker in Dec. 2019 for reporting safety concerns. CSX was ordered to pay $71,976 in back wages, interest and damages, and $150,000 in punitive damages. [U.S. Dept. of Labor, 7-1-21]
SAN DIEGO'S MID-COAST TROLLEY EXTENSION TESTING BEGINS: Testing has begun on the $2.1-billion, 11-mile Mid-Coast extension of the UC San Diego Blue line, which is slated to open Nov. 21. [Railway Age, 6-30-21]
TEAMSTERS RAIL CONFERENCE JOINS HIGH-SPEED RAIL COALITION: The Teamsters Rail Conference has joined the U.S, High-Speed Rail Coalition executive committee, which is comprised of passenger and high-speed rail stakeholders, proponents and supporters throughout the nation. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-30-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending June 26, 2021, was 516,167 carloads and intermodal units, up 12.4 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 17.7 percent, and intermodal was up 8.2 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-30-21]
MBTA APPROVES $28-M FOR DESIGN WORK TO WEST NATICK-WELLESLEY FARMS 3RD TRACK PROJECT: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's fiscal & management control board has given the OK for $28-million in design work for a third-track project between the West Natick commuter rail station and Wellesley Farms. Construction is not expected to begin until 2025. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-30-21]
MINNESOTA COMPLETES FUNDING FOR SECOND CHICAGO-TWIN CITIES AMTRAK TRAIN: A second Amtrak train that will run between Chicago and St. Paul is expected to begin daily service in 2024. Minnesota has set aside $10-million for the project, which was the final piece needed to make the additional service a reality. The second train will supplement existing service by the Empire Builder, and is expected to ferry about 124,000 passengers each year, making the trip in about seven and one-half hours. [AP News, 6-29-21]
WILMINGTON, N.C., WANTS TO ELIMINATE RAIL CROSSINGS WITH NEW ALIGNMENT: Officials in Wilmington, N.C., want to take railroad tracks out of the equation at several locations. The existing rail line between Navassa and the Port of Wilmington runs across the Cape Fear River and around Wilmington en route to the port. However, it intersects 32 streets that carry a total of about 250,000 cars daily. The public is expected to play a najor role as well, and has until July 26 to help determine the best new route. A National Environmental Policy Act study is already underway. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-29-21]
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY ENDORSES HUDSON RIVER TUNNEL PROJECT: Holding up corroded wire from the Hudson River tunnels, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said it is time to begin major construction on the Gateway project. He and Senator Schumer toured the tunnels June 28 on an Amtrak observation train, and later stressed the need to advance work on the tunnel system. New York's govenor, Andrew Cuomo, however, continues to resist when it comes to paying his state's share. He wants a more economical method to make the repairs, and says there are other pressing infrastructure needs such as extending the Second avenue subway and executing the East Side access plan to improve commuter rail access into Manhattan. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-29-21]
AMTRAK OPPOSES CN'S USE OF VOTING TRUST IN ITS KCS MERGER APPLICATION: Amtrak has submitted comments urging the Surface Transportation Board to reject Canadian National's use of a voting trust in its proposed combination with Kansas City Southern. Amtrak said CN's proposed divestiture of the Baton Rouge to New Orleans line creates a major new impediment to service along that corridor, and likens the proposal as equivalent of a homeowner selling their house by reserving the right to continue to live in it. [Canadian Pacific, 6-28-21]
MAN ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED ARSON IN AMTRAK'S BEECH GROVE FIRE: A 34-year-old Indiana man has been arrested on federal charges related to his alleged setting fire to two buildings at the Amtrak facility in Beech Grove early May 2. Surveillance video captured the suspect as he moved around the facility the previous evening, entering two storage buildings containing flammable or hazardous chemicals, igniting each building using railroad flares. Amtrak estimates that the fires resulted in about $1-million in damages. [U.S. Justice Dept., 6-28-21]
HAMILTON, OHIO, VOTES TO SAVE HISTORIC 19TH CENTURY RAIL BUILDINGS: Two 19th century Hamilton, Ohio, buildings that are part of the city's historic train station along the CSX line will be saved and moved thanks to a city council vote. The city has said it would cost about $600,000 to move both buildings onto new foundations and make minor repairs. According to the city, the station hosted visits by presidents Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover. [Bill Haines, 6-28-21, from Butler County Journal-News]
EDMONTON, ALBERTA, APPROVES FUNDING FOR CAPITAL LINE SOUTH LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: The city council of Edmonton, Alberta, has approved $333-million (C) of municipal funding for the Capitol Line South light-rail extension from Century Park to the Heritage Valley park-and-ride. The city had previously received $1.47-billion in funding commitments from federal and provincial governments. [Progressive Railroading, 6-28-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-three percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending June 27, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 29 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 6-28-21]
BRIGHTLINE INSTALLING RAIL BRIDGE TO SPAN I-95: Beginning the night of June 28, Brightline will complete a key connection in expanding high-speed rail when installation begins on a rail bridge over I-95 in Brevard County, Florida. The bridge, 573 feet in length, will be constructed in four spans. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-28-21]
BNSF TO REPLACE SKAGIT RIVER BRIDGE IN WASHINGTON STATE: BNSF has decided to move forward with plans of replacing the rail bridge over the Skagit River between Mount Vernon and Burlington, Washington. The 991-foot concrete and steel bridge of nine spans will be placed 30 feet downstream of the existing one, which was erected in 1910 and sits on wood piles. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-28-21]
READING BLUE MOUNTAIN & NORTHERN ACQUIRES 19-MILE LINE IN PA.: The Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad has acquired a 19-mile line from Carbon County, Pa., for $4.7-million. The RBM&N previously had trackage rights over the line, which connects its Reading and Lehigh divisions. RBM&N has agreed to keep in place a lease with current freight operator C&S Railroad, and will continue to use the line for overhead freight traffic as well as its passenger excursion service. [Railway Age, 6-25-21]
CSX'S HOWARD STREET TUNNEL EXPANSION GETS ENVIRONMENTAL APPROVAL: The planned Howard Street tunnel expansion project in Baltimore has received a 'Finding of No Significant Impact' as part of the review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Approval allows CSX to finalize engineering and obtain permits. Construction will occur in phases and is expected to begin later this year. [Progressive Railroading, 6-24-21]
CSX TO APPLY WABTEC DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES TO LOCOMOTIVE FLEET: CSX and Wabtec are partnering to modernize CSX's locomotive fleet with digital technologies designed to deliver fuel efficiency and emissions reductions. The partnership will help CSX's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity of 37 percent by 2030. CSX will be the first railroad to put into demonstration Wabtec's Trip Optimier 'Zero-to-Zero' system, which will enable a train to start from zero MPH and stop automatically using various controls. [Progressive Railroading, 6-24-21]
STB UPDATES RAIL HERITAGE MAP OF HISTORIC STRUCTURES: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board Office of Environmental Analysis has published an updated version of its Rail Heritage Map on its Railroad Map Depot webpage. It shows the locations of 1,596 rail structures, buildings and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also shows the estimated boundaries of 3,105 historic districts that overlap mapped active or abandoned rail lines or that have a known historical connection to railroads. [Progressive Railroading, 6-24-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN IOWA: About 27 cars of a Union Pacific train derailed June 24 in Ames, Iowa, with petroleum gas leaking from some of the cars. There were no injuries reported, but about 15 to 20 properties were being evacuated. [KCCI, 6-24-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending June 19, 2021, was 514,112 carloads and intermodal units, up 12.5 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 15.1 percent, and intermodal was up 10.4 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-23-21]
STB ACCEPTING PUBLIC COMMENTS ON PROPOSED CN-KCS MERGER: The Surface Transportation Board is accepting public comment on the proposed Canadian National merger with Kansas City Southern through June 28. [NWI Times, 6-23-21]
BRIGHTLINE WEST DROPS PLAN FOR STATE PRIVATE ACTIVITY BONDS THIS YEAR: Brightline West has decided not to seek state-based private activity bonds in 2021 for construction of its high-speed rail project between Southern California and Las Vegas. Last year, parent company Fortress Investment Group had been marketing $2.4-billion of debt to be issued through California and Nevada agencies, but failed to sell the bonds to support the project. [Railway Age, 6-23-21]
TEXAS COURT CLEARS HURDLE FOR TEXAS CENTRAL'S HSR PROJECT: The Texas Supreme Court will not hear a case on whether or not Texas Central is legally recognized as a railroad company. With this rejection, it appears Texas Central will now use eminent domain to construct its high-speed rail line. The project has been tied up in courts for the last five years. The nexr step for Texas Central is to secure federal funding, and construction could begin in the next few months. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-23-21]
CANADA INCREASES FINES FOR TRESPASSING ON RAILROADS, CROSSING VIOLATIONS: Canada has increased the fine for trespassing on railroad property from $100 to $500, and the fine for failure to give way at railway crossings from $150 to $750. [Transport Canada, 6-23-21]
SECOND ROUND-TRIP OF VALLEY FLYER IN MASSACHUSETTS TO BE REINSTATED: Amtrak, in conjunction with Massachusetts, is relaunching the second daily round-trip of the Valley Flyer on July 26. The state-supported train had been reduced in March of last year due to the pandemic. The Valley Flyer travels along the Connecticut River, connecting with the Northeast corridor at New Haven and serving stations between there and Springfield. [Amtrak, 6-22-21]
GROUND BROKEN ON L.A. AIRPORT METRO CONNECTOR PROJECT: The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on June 21 held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction on the $898.6-million Airport Metro Connector to connect the metro's system to Los Angeles International Airport. The rail station portion of the project includes two light-rail platforms that can be accessed via escalators and elevators, new ADA-compliant swing-door fare gates, and a full roof covering. [Progressive Railroading, 6-22-21]
NEW AMTRAK TUNNEL IN BALTIMORE TO BE NAMED FOR FREDERICK DOUGLAS: The new Amtrak tunnel in Baltimore to replace the aging B&P tunnel for passenger trains will be named in honor of Frederick Douglas, a Maryland resident and well-known abolitionist. [Mass Transit Magazine, 6-21-21]
OHIO HAS A RAILROAD BRIDGE FOR SALE: The state of Ohio is trying to sell the historic Roche de Boeuf railroad bridge that crosses the Maumee River near Waterville. The span has not carried any traffic, not even foot traffic, since 1983, as it is structurally deficient. It will go up for auction on June 30. Its appraised value and over five acres of land is just $100, but the cost to fix the bridge is about $15-million. If there are no takers, the state plans to demolish the bridge. It was built in 1908 by the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad, is a community landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, and its image appears on the seal of Waterville. There is community support to keep the bridge, but there is a lack of funding to repair it. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-21-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN WYOMING: Fifteen cars of a Union Pacific train derailed early June 21 near Hillsdale, Wyoming. No injuries were reported, and crews were working to clear the tracks and then commence repair work. [Oil City News, 6-21-21]
RECALCITRANT CATTLE INTERUPT TRAINS IN BLUEFIELD, W.VA.: Norfolk Southern trains were stopped late June 21 when three cows managed to get onto the tracks going through the city of Bluefield, W.Va. Officers with the Bluefield police department went onto the tracks with a livestock trailer to get the animals contained. [Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 6-21-21]
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 June 20, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 49 minutes behind schedule. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 6-21-21]
TWO LIRR CONDUCTORS ACCUSED OF EMPLOYEE TIME, ATTENDANCE THEFT: New York MTA Office of Inspector General has announced that two Long Island Rail Road conductors have been accused of employee time and attendance theft. The theft was allegedly conducted by a husband--and-wife team, both of whom were conductors. On occasions when both were due to work the same shift, or the same train, only one would come to work, but punch time cards for both. Built-in three hours of overtime were included in each of those shifts. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-21-21]
AMTRAK'S B&P TUNNEL IN BALTIMORE TO BE REPLACED IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS: Amtrak and the state of Maryland have announced that the 148-year-old Baltimore & Potomac tunnel will be replaced in the next 10 years at a cost of $4-billion. Amtrak is in the process of finishing the design and purchasing sections of the right-of-way. The intention is to construct two single-track tunnels about a half mile north of the existing two-track tunnel, to be used by passenger trains. The old tunnel will be retained for use by freights. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-18-21]
MARYLAND APPROVES $183.5-M FOR PURPLE LINE PROJECT: An agency request for an additional $183.5-million for a management contract for the Purple light-rail project in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties has been approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works. The line is being built by a consortium called Purple Line Transit Partners. The former contractor walked off the job last year. The Purple line will be built between Bethesda and New Carrollton. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-17-21]
BLET, LIRR REACH TENTATIVE LABOR AGREEMENT: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen and the Long Island Rail Road have reached a tentative agreement governing rates of pay, benefits and work rules for nearly 500 locomotive engineers. Ratification ballots are due July 19. [Progressive Railroading, 6-17-21]
UNION PACIFIC'S 'WE ARE ONE' COMMEMORATIVE LOCOMOTIVE TO BEGIN SUMMER TOUR: Union Pacific's 'We Are One' commemorative locomotive 1979 will begin a system-wide summer tour on June 19. The brightly-colored locomotive will start in Houston on Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates freedom and marks the end of slavery in the U.S. The unit commemorates the year Union Pacific's first ERG - the Black Employee Network - was established in 1979. [Union Pacific, 6-17-21]
CN, KCS FILE ADDED DOCUMENTS TO STB ON PROPOSED MERGER: Canadian National and Kansas City Southern have jointly filed certain documents requested by the Surface Transportation Board to enable it to review the voting trust proposal as part of the CN-KCS merger agreement. Meanwhile, Canadian Pacific continues to make a public case for its own proposal to merge with KCS, which earlier had agreed to combine with CP, but then KCS pulled out of the pact to pursue a merger with CN. [Progressive Railroading, 6-16-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending June 12, 2021, was 529,635 carloads and intermodal units, up 17.9 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 21.8 percent, and intermodal was up 14.8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-16-21]
UNION PACIFIC BIG BOY LOCOMOTIVE 4014 TO TOUR 10 STATES THIS SUMMER: Union Pacific's Big Boy 4014 steam locomotive is heading on a month-long tour this summer. Beginning in Cheyenne on Aug. 5, it will travel through 10 states. It will be on display in Fort Worth on Aug. 14, Houston on Aug. 17, New Orleans on Aug. 21, St. Louis on Aug. 29, and Denver on Sept. 6. [Railway Age, 6-15-21]
AMTRAK TO ROLL OUT WESTERN LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN IMPROVEMENTS: Amtrak passengers in Western long-distance trains will soon notice some changes on board. Included will be spiffed-up coaches and sleeping cars and improved dining service with upgraded menu selections, metal utensils, flowers on the table, and a gratis alcohol drink for adults traveling in sleepers. Eventually, coach-class passengers will be allowed to buy meals in the dining car rather than being restricted to the snack car. [Chicago Sun-Times, 6-15-21]
WISCONSIN SOUTHERN TO SERVE NEW CHOCOLATE FACTORY WITH EXTENDED RAIL LINE: A chocolate factory being built in Milton, Wisconsin, will receive its sugar and oil by rail, thanks to a $1-million rail project supported by a Transportation Economic Assistance grant allowing the city to extend a Wisconsin Southern rail line to Clasen Quality Chocolate. Construction of the line will occur later this year. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-15-21]
WABTEC, G.M. TO DEVELOP, COMMERCIALIZE ULTIUM BATTERY, HYDROGEN FUEL CELL SYSTEMS: Wabtec and General Motors have signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding to develop and commercialize GM's Ultium battery and Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell systems to power locomotives. Earlier this year, Wabtec and BNSF teamed on a three-month pilot of a FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive in revenue service. They reported that it reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 11 percent. [Railway Age, 6-15-21]
TEXAS CENTRAL SIGNS $16-B CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT FOR HIGH-SPEED LINE: The Texas Central Railroad has signed a $16-billion contract with Webuild, an industrial group specializing in construction and civil engineering, to lead the civil construction team that will build the high-speed line between Houston and Dallas. [KBTX, 6-15-21]
JUDGE DELAYS UNION PACIFIC'S PLAN TO CLOSE SHOP IN PALESTINE, TEXAS: The city of Palestine, Texas, and Anderson County battled Union Pacific in court June 14 in ongoing litigation regarding a 1955 judgement between the parties. The court ruled the railroad could not eliminate any jobs at the Palestine shop facility, which had been slated to close June 14, until after a hearing set for July 8. The court did not rule on any of the other merits of the lawsuits. [Palestine Herald-Press, 6-14-21]
SENATE CONFIRMS NARIA FERNANDEZ TO HEAD FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: The U.S. Senate has confirmed Naria Fernandez to serve as administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. She has been acting administrator since Jan. 20. [Progressive Railroading, 6-14-21]
GROUND BROKEN FOR CSX-SERVED AGRICULTURAL TRANSLOAD FACILITY IN S.C.: Northwest Grains International has broken ground on its $2.5-million agricultural transload facility in Dillon County, S.C., which will be served by CSX. [Progressive Railroading, 6-14-21]
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 June 13, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 43 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 6-14-21]
FEDS, CALIFORNIA RESOLVE HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECT FUNDING DISPUTE: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation and the state of California have finalized settlement negotiations to restore $929-million in federal grants to the state's high-speed rail project. The action comes after months of negotiations to restore funding that was rescinded in 2019. The project is currently under construction along 119 miles in the Central Valley. [Progressive Railroading, 6-11-21]
INDIANA R.R. NAMES DEWAYNE SWINDALL PRESIDENT, CEO: Dewayne Swindall, a former general superintendent for Canadian National, has been named president and chief executive officer of Indiana Rail Road. He replaces Peter Mills, who is leaving the company. [Progressive Railroading, 6-11-21]
UNION PACIFIC ADDING PASSING SIDINGS TO IMPROVE FLUIDITY: Union Pacific is adding or extending passing sidings at a number of points along its network to improve fluidity of operations, according to the company. According to the railroad's sustainability report, it has recently completed sidings along the Texas & Pacific route from El Paso to Shreveport, the Del Rio route from El Paso to Houston, and the Golden State route from El Paso to Kansas City. Overall, 19 additional sidings will be constructed this year at a cost of about $130-million. [Freight Waves, 6-11-21]
ELECTRIC TRAINS BEGIN ON BELGIUM'S MOL-HAMONT LINE: The first electric train operated on Belgium's Mol-Hamont line on June 10, ahead of the introduction of service June 14. Electrification of the 20.5-mile line began in the fall of 2018. About 90 percent of the country's railway is now electrified. [International Railway Journal, 6-11-21]
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE PASSES INVEST IN AMERICA BILL: The Invest in America bill passed out of the House Transportation Committee early June 10 by a 38-26 vote. The five-year surface transportation authorization includes a $95-billion investment in passenger and freight rail, which includes $32-billion for Amtrak. This would triple Amtrak's current funding levels, sparking a renaissance for America's rail passengers. [Rail Passengers Assn., 6-10-21]
UNION PACIFIC CLOSING SHOP IN PALESTINE, TEXAS, JUNE 10: Union Pacific has notified workers at its shop in Palestine, Texas, that the facility will close June 10. Originally it was slated to be closed on June 14. Fifty-seven workers are affected. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-10-21]
RUSSIAN RAILWAYS TO BUY 200 TWO-SECTION DIESEL LOCOMOTIVES: Sinata Transport Machines will supply 200 class 2TE35A two-section, 16-axle diesel locomotives for mainline operation. Trial operation of the first two units is set to begin next year. [International Railway Journal, 6-10-21]
U.S. STEEL TO SELL ITS SHORT LINE RAILROADS: Fortress Transportation & Infrastructure Investors has reported it will purchase U.S. Steel's Transtar rail operating subsidiary. The $640-million deal is expected to close in the third-quarter. Transtar comprises six short lines connected with U.S. Steel's largest production facilities, including Gary Works and Mon Valley Works: Delray Connecting Railroad in Michigan, Fairfield Southern in Alabama, Gary Railway in Indiana, Lake Terminal Railroad in Ohio, Texas & Northern Railroad in Texas, and Union Railroad in Pennsylvania. [Railway Age, 6-9-21]
PROPOSED CSX ACQUISITION OF PAN AM RAILWAYS COULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT AMTRAK, ITS CEO SAYS: CSX's proposed acquisition of Pan Am Railways represents a 'significant threat' to current and future intercity passenger rail service, says Amtrak's CEO Bill Flynn. He said the transaction would negatively impact both current service and future routes in Massachusetts and northern New England identified in the Amtrak Corridor Vision, and the Surface Transportation Board should consider impacts upon that goal. [Progressive Railroading, 6-8-21]
CSX NAMES MARK WALLACE EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT: CSX has announced the appointment of Mark Wallace as executive vice-president. He will focus on special projects and initiatives supporting the president and CEO. Also appointed are Kevin Boone as executive vice-president of sales and marketing, and Sean Pelkey as vice-president and acting chief financial officer. [Progressive Railroading, 6-7-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Forty-three percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending June 6, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 36 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 6-7-21]
CSX REPAINTS BUSINESS CAR FLEET INTO B&O-STYLE SCHEME: CSX recently repainted its business car fleet into a scheme representing the traditional B&O-style colors, with two of its F40PH2 locomotives repainted into the same scheme, numbered CSX-1 and CSX-2, respectively. [Robert Michaels, 6-6-21]
CSX APPROVES THREE-FOR-ONE STOCK SPLIT: The board of CSX has approved a three-for-one stock split to be distributed to shareholders as a stock dividend. Each shareholder of record at the close of business June 18 will receive two additional shares of common stock for each share held, and they will be distributed on June 28. [CSX, 6-4-21]
AMTRAK TO RESTORE TRADITIONAL DINING TO WESTERN LONG-DISTANCE TRAINS: Starting June 23, riders with private rooms aboard most western long-distance trains will be able to purchase chef-prepared meals. As part of its pandemic recovery plans, Amtrak is restoring traditional dining service on the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief and Sunset Limited. Cafe service is still available for all passengers. That menu is slated for a summer update with more fresh options. [Railway Age, 6-3-21]
ABANDONED RAIL BRIDGE IN PROVIDENCE, R.I., TO BECOME AN ATTRACTION: Instead of demolishing an abandoned rail bridge in Providence, R.I., officials are looking to use the span to play 'dress up.' A portion of the 113-year-old Crook Point Bascule bridge is permanently in the up position, and a panel has chosen a design that includes placing LED lighting on the structure. The lights will change color and react to people moving to the end of the pier. The design also calls for parks on both banks of the Seekonk River, an enclosure of the East Side Rail tunnel, and a canal crossed by mini bridges on the east bank. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-3-21]
TENTH AVENUE BRIDGE SPANNING METRO-NORTH IN MOUNT VERNON, N.Y., REOPENS: New York City's MTA has reopened the 10th Avenue bridge in downtown Mount Vernon, N.Y. It is one of six bridges that span Metro-North Railroad's New Haven line in downtown Mount Vernon that the agency is replacing. The project began in March 2019. [Progressive Railroading, 6-23-21]
MAY 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 2,116,180 carloads and intermodal units in May 2021, up 28 percent compared with the same month last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 30.4 percent, and intermodal was up 26.2 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-2-21]
MARYLAND GOVERNOR VETOES FUNDING BILL FOR RAIL, BUS SYSTEMS: Maryland's governor Larry Hogan has rejected a bill that wold have provided millions of dollars a year to rail and bus systems. The Transit Safety & Investment Act would have provided additonal funds for maintenance, specifically rail maintenance, and environmentally friendly technologies. Opponents of the bill said the veto was 'the right move,' as more money needs to be concentrated in road and bridge work. [Railway Track & Structures, 6-2-21]
STB PROPOSES RULE FOR EMERGENCY TEMPORARY TRACKAGE RIGHTS: The Surface Transportation Board is initiating a rulemaking proceeding to establish a new 'emergency temporary trackage rights exemption' that could be invoked during natural disasters, accidents or derailments. It would be available for unforeseen track outages expected to last more than seven days, and there is no reasonable alternative to maintain pre-outage levels of service. Comments are due by July 12. [Railway Age, 6-1-21]
MAY 2021 AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-two percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in May 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was one hour and 12 minutes late. The average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and 46 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 6-1-21]
UNION PACIFIC'S 'WE ARE ONE' LOCOMOTIVE IS READY TO ROLL: Union Pacific's 'We Are ONE' Employee Resource Group commemorative locomotive 1979 is ready to hit the tracks. It is named for the year in which the railroad established its first ERG, the Black Employee Network. It will travel through the Union Pacific system on its way to the ONE ERG conference Sept. 1-2 in Omaha. Its unveiling will be held in Houston in honor of Juneteenth Day, the holiday marking the end of slavery in the U.S. [Progressive Railroading, 5-28-21]
AMTRAK ISSUES EXPANSION PLAN FOR INTERCITY RAIL: Amtrak, on May 27, set out a landmark plan for a major expansion of intercity passenger services across the USA under what it terms a 'Corridor Vision.' This would deliver more frequent, reliable and sustainable service to over 160 more communities and 20 million more passengers annually by 2035. Amtrak's CEO Bill Flynn set out the steps Amtrak believes policymakers need to take to support the plan. A key element is a strengthed regulatory approach to routes where Amtrak runs over host freight railroads' tracks. Two main areas where action is needed are preventing the delay of passenger trains, and ensuring fair access to host railroads with which to increase services. It was noted that host carriers have often resisted efforts to expand service over their lines, and the law should be clarified to stop private interests from preventing passenger rail growth wherein it is needed by the people and communities. [Railway Gazette, 5-28-21]
GATEWAY PROJECT GETS THE GO AHEAD: The White House has approved the long-delayed environmental impact statement for the Gateway Tunnels, clearing an important hurdle for the construction of a pair of new rail tunnels under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York. [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 5-28-21]
AMTRAK BEGINS TO RETURN DAILY LONG-DISTANCE SERVICE: The first wave of daily service restorations on Amtrak's long-distance trains took place this week on the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder and Texas Eagle. The second wave is set for restoration beginning on Memorial Day with the Capitol Limited, City of New Orleans, Lake Shore Limited and Southwest Chief. The third wave will begin June 7 with the Palmetto, Silver Star and Silver Meteor. The first wave was not particularly smooth, as the Texas Eagle had to contend with a disabled freight train and a downed tree, and other trains ran headfirst into freight train interference. In the meantime, traditional dining will begin to return to the western trains by June 23, with upgrades and improvements. [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 5-28-21]
STB LABELS CSX APPLICATION FOR PAN AM ACQUISITION 'INCOMPLETE': While expressing no conclusions over the ultimate merits of CSX's proposed acquisition of Pan Am Systems, the Surface Transportation Board has rejected CSX's 'application for review' of the transaction as 'incomplete.' The board found that the appliation did not include all of the information necessary for purposes of a 'significant' transaction under its regulations. [Progressive Railroading, 5-27-21]
SANTA CLARA VALLEY SUSPENDS LIGHT-RAIL SERVICE IN WAKE OF MASS SHOOTING: The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has suspended light-rail service as the community mourns victims of a fatal shoting that occurred May 26 at the Guadalupe Light-Rail yard in San Jose, California. The shooter, who killed himself along with nine other people, was identified as an employee. [Progressive Railroading, 5-27-21]
SIEMENS MOBILITY TO ACQUIRE RAIL SERVICES PROVIDER RAILTERM: Siemens Mobility has agreed to acquire RailTerm, a North American rail services provider. Expected to close July 1, the acquisition will enable it to expand its existing portfolio with on-the-ground track, signaling, electrification and communications systems servicing expertise, company officials said. [Progressive Railroading, 5-27-21]
HURON CENTRAL RWY TO CONTINUE OPERATING AFTER JUNE 30: Northern Ontario's Huron Central Railway will not stop running on June 30. Earlier, Genesee & Wyoming Canada had said it would suspend its operations on that date for need of additional funding to share the cost of the line's rehabilitation. The company has said it needs $40-million (C) for the Sault Ste. Marie-Sudbury line. [Railway Age, 5-27-21]
SIX FORMER RAIL EMPLOYEES CHARGED WITH DISABILITY BENEFITS FRAUD: Six former railroad employees have been indicted for allegedly obtaining federal disability benefits by providing false information to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board while working other jobs. The indictments are part of wider federal efforts to investigate alleged fraud against benefits programs administered by the RRB. [Freight Waves, 5-27-21]
CN, KCS ADVANCE MERGER APPLICATION PROCESS: Canadian National and Kansas City Southern on May 26 jointly filed with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board a renewed motion for approval of its voting trust outlining the case for approval of the trust to advance their proposed merger. The filing highlights that the voting trust protects against premature control of KCS. As part of the transaction, CN is committing to divesting KCS's 70-mile line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. This committment eliminates the sole area of overlap between the two railroads' networks, making the combination an end-to-end transaction. [CN, KCS, 5-26-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic for the week ending May 22, 2021, was 528,774 carloads and intermodal units, up 23.4 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 27.2 percent, and intermodal was up 20.4 percent. Change percentages are inflated because of widespread shutdowns last year because of the pandemic. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-26-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN CEO SELLS $5.6-M OF COMPANY STOCK: James Squires, chairman, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern, on May 24, sold 20,000 shares of his company's stock for a sale value of about $5.6-million. [Garu Focus, 5-26-21]
CALIFORNIA HSR AUTHORITY CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER DEPARTS AGENCY: The Los Angeles Times reports that Joe Hedges, chief operating officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, suddenly departed this week. He is no longer with the agency. He had been under investigation for several months over allegedly unjustified payments to some project contractors. [Railway Track & Sstructures, 5-26-21]
GEAUX GEAUX R.R. PURCHASED BY WATCO'S BOGALUSA BAYOU R.R.: Watco's Bogalusa Bayou Railroad has purchased the Geauz Geaux Railroad from Amzak Capital Management. The 26-mile short line runs from Slaughter to Zee, Louisiana. It currently provides service to Hood Container. Acquiring the line opens opportunities for exploration in providing rail-car storage in several industrial hubs in Louisiana. [Progressive Railroading, 5-25-21]
AMTRAK NAMES LAURA MASON EXECUTIVE V.P. OF MAJOR PROGRAM DELIVERY: Amtrak has named Laura Mason executive vice-president of major program delivery to lead a new organization responsibile for delivering the company's fleet and station programs. She will join Amtrak on June 28. [Progressive Railroading, 5-24-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN N.M.: A Union Pacific train derailed early May 24 in Separ, N.M., about 21 miles southeast of Lordsburg. About 50 cars overturned, and rail traffic was blocked from operating in both directions. No injuries were reported. [KVIA, 5-24-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Twenty-four percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending May 23, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 36 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 5-24-21]
SIGHTSEER LOUNGES TEMPORARILY PULLED FROM TEXAS EAGLE, CAPITOL LIMITED: Due to an equipment shortage, Amtrak has temporarily dropped sightseer lounges from the consists of the Texas Eagle and Capitol Limited. The railroad said that there is no specific timeline to restore the lounges to service, but insists that the equipment shortage is only temporary. [Rail Passengers Assn., 5-21-21]
CP DECLINES TO SWEETEN KCS TAKEOVER OFFER: Canadian Pacific said it will not increase its takeover offer for Kansas City Southern, betting that recent setbacks for a higher offer from rival Canadian National will make raising the bid unnecessary. It is now up to KCS to decide whether to go with the roughly $30-billion offer from CN and abandon the $25-billion deal it already agreed with CP. [Wall Street Journal, 5-20-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 533,872 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending May 15, 2021, up 28.3 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 31.6 percent, and intermodal was up 25.6 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-19-21]
AMTRAK ILLINOIS-SERVICE TRAINS TO REVERT TO FULL SCHEDULES JULY 19: Trains between Chicago and destinations in central and southern Illinois (Lincoln, Illini, Saluki, Illinois Zephyr and Sandburg lines) will return to full schedules July 19. [Chicago Tribune, 5-19-21]
AMTRAK SPEEDS TO INCREASE IN CERTAIN MICHIGAN SECTIONS: Amtrak and the Michigan Dept. of Transportation have received federal approval to increase maximum speeds on trains to 110 MPH on certain sections of track between Kalamazoo and Albion, Michigan, beginning May 25. [Progressive Railroading, 5-18-21]
AMTRAK VERMONT SERVICE TO BE RESTORED JULY 19: Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express and Vermonteer will restore service in Vermont beginning July 19, it has been announced. [Vermont Business Magazine, 5-18-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS, CAUSES FIRE IN IOWA: Forty-seven cars of a Union Pacific train hauling some hazardous materials derailed, causing a fire in Sibley, Iowa, on May 16, leading to the evacuation of dozens of people. There were no reports of injuries. [Reuters, 5-17-21]
WEEKLY AMTRAK LONG-DISTANCE TRAIN PERFORMANCE: Thirty-one percent of Amtrak's named long-distance trains arrived at their scheduled final destination on time or earlier in the week ending May 16, 2021. The remaining trains, on average, arrived one hour and 31 minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 5-17-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN MINNESOTA: About 28 cars of a Union Pacific train derailed May 15 in Albert Lea, Minnesota, according to local authorities. No injuries were reported. [CNN, 5-15-21]
NJT SIGNS RENOVATION CONTRACT FOR PERTH AMBOY STATION: New Jersey Transit has awarded a $4.2-million construction management services contract for the renovation of the Perth Amboy train station. It was built in 1927. [Progressive Railroading, 5-14-21].
METRO-NORTH PENN STATION ACCESS PROJECT RESUMES: The Metro-North Railroad Penn Station Access project, which had been on hold because of the pandemic and funding uncertainties, has resumed. It includes four new ADA-accessible stations in the East Bronx, bridge rehabilitations, more than 19 miles of new and rehabilitated track, reconfiguration of New Rochelle yard, new and reconfigured interlockings, and the modernization of signaling, power and communication infrastructure. [Progressive Railroading, 5-14-21]
SOUND TRANSIT'S SERIES 2 LRV'S ENTER SERVICE: The first of Sound Transit's new Series 2 light-rail vehicles from Siemens Mobility have been entered into revenue service. [Railway Age, 5-14-21]
U.S. JUSTICE DEPT. SAYS CN'S BID FOR KCS POSES GREATER RISKS TO COMPETITION: The U.S. Dept. of Justice said on May 14 that Canadian National's bid for Kansas City Southern appears to pose 'greater risks to competition' than a rival agreement with Canadian Pacific. [Reuters, 5-14-21]
KCS TERMINATES MERGER AGREEMENT WITH CP: Kansas City Southern says it is terminating its merger agreement with CP Rail after determining that rival Canadian National's revised $33.6-bilion offer was superior. CP Rail now has the right to amend its offer, with the KCS board to determine whether a revision constitutes a better offer than CN's. [Canadian Press, 5-13-21]
UNION PACIFIC HIKES DIVIDEND 10 PCT: Union Pacific's board has voted to increase the quarterly dividend on the company's common stock by 10 percent to $1.07 per share. [Union Pacific, 5-13-21]
CLEVELAND & CUYAHOGA RAILWAY GETS TRACK REHAB GRANT: The Ohio Rail Development Commission has approved a $1,564,051 grant to Cleveland & Cuyahoga Railway to assist with replacement of crossties, ballast, surfacing, rail replacement and ancillary work on main and side tracks over 12 miles of the Mahoning subdivision. [Railway Track & Structures, 5-13-21]
CN TRAIN DERAILS IN ILLINOIS: A May 11 Canadian National train derailment in Pesotum, Illinois, has taken up to 48 hours to clear. Eight to 10 cars came off the track. Nobody was hurt. Roads were blocked until early May 13, and crossings will need to be repaired. [Railway Track & Structures, 5-13-21]
NEW RAIL CARGO SCANNERS TO BE INSTALLED AT 12 BORDER CROSSINGS: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection will install new rail-cargo scanning systems at 12 rail ports of entry at northern and southern borders. The $46-million initiative is slated to replace aging equipment with scanners using linear accelerators to generate X-rays from electricity rather than radioactive isotopes. [Railway Age, 5-13-21]
KCS PROMOTES TIMOTHY LIVINGSTON TO V.P. TRANSPORTATION: Kansas City Southern has promoted Timothy Livingston from general manager of network operations to vice-president of transportation for the company's operations in the U.S. and Mexico. He joined KCS in 2004 as a conductor. [Progressive Railroading, 5-13-21]
CSX TO ACQUIRE QUALITY CARRIERS INC.: CSX has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Quality Carriers Inc., a provider of bulk liquid chemicals truck transportation, from Quality Distribution Inc. The acquisition will establish the first integrated multimodal chemical transportation solution, CSX said. [Progressive Railroading, 5-12-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN ISSUES 'GREEN BONDS': Norfolk Southern has issued $500-million of 'green bonds' to fund its sustainable business initiatives. The railroad reported that the move follows its recent commitment to establish an emissions-reduction target this year, in collaboration with the Science Based Targets Initiative: improving the locomotive fleet's fuel efficiency. [Railway Age, 5-12-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending May 8, 2021, was 523,309 carloads and intermodal units, up 26.9 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 27.6 percent, and intermodal was up 26.3 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-12-21]
VRE TO RESUME FULL-SERVICE SCHEDULE ON JUNE 1: Virginia Railway Express will resume its full-service schedule June 1. The agency has been running a reduced-service schedule since March 17 of last year following a decline in ridership due to the pandemic. Under the full-service schedule, VRE will operate 32 daily trains on its two lines. [Progressive Railroading, 5-11-21]
GROUP ENVISIONS 200 MPH TRAINS BETWEEN N.Y. AND BOSTON: Organizers of the North Atlantic Rail Initiative are seeking to drum up support from the Biden administration for a project to link New York and Boston by rail at up to 200 MPH, for a journey in just 100 minutes. The $105-billion project would take about 20 years to complete, and would link the two cities with several stops en route. It would include a tunnel under the Long Island Sound. [, 5-11-21]
MINI-TENDER OFFER MADE FOR 500,000 SHARES OF KCS STOCK: Kansas City Southern has received notice of an unsolicited 'mini-tender' offer by Canadian outfit Titus Rockefeller LLC (a.k.a. TRC Capital Investment Corp.) to purchase up to 500,000 shares, or approximately 0.55 percent, of KCS's outstanding common stock at a price of $285 per share in cash. KCS says it does not endorse the offer, and recommends that its shareholders reject it. [Railway Age, 5-11-21]
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION DECLARES ITS SUPPORT FOR AMTRAK'S RETURN TO GULF COAST SERVICE: The Biden administration is officially tossing its support behind Amtrak's return to the Gulf Coast. The confirmation came in a letter from the acting general counsel with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation calling for twice-daily service between Mobile and New Orleans with four stops en route. Restarting the Gulf Coast route is something Amtrak wants to achieve, targeting a startup by New Year's day. [, 5-11-21]
UNION PACIFIC TRESTLE IN OREGON CATCHES FIRE: A Union Pacific trestle in Springfield, Oregon, caught fire early May 10 causing moderate damage. Trains are still able to use it, although they are moving at a reduced speed. [Register Guard, 5-10-21]
RAIL-SERVED INTERMODAL SITE BEING PREPARED IN MILLERSBURG, OREGON: Millersburg, Oregon, will soon have its Mid-Valley Intermodal center. Crews have begun preparing the site where a paper mill once stood. The 60-acre area will be used for loading cargo from trucks to trains heading to Portland, Tacoma and Seattle. [Railway Track & Structures, 5-10-21]
STADLER TO SUPPLY 14 METRO TRAINS FOR SERVICE IN PORTUGAL: Stadler will supply 14 three-car metro trains, while Siemens Mobility will install its Trainguard MT communications-based train control system on the Blue, Yellow and Green lines, and upgrade existing equipment on the Lisbon Metro in Portugal. [Progressive Railroading, 5-10-21]
RAIL TRAVEL DISRUPTED IN U.K. OVER HIGH-SPEED TRAIN SAFETY ISSUES: Passengers are facing travel disruptions in Britain after a number of high-speed trains were taken out of service to undergo precautionary checks for cracks. Track operator Network Rail said cracks were discovered on several Hitachi 800 trains used by multiple companies. High-speed train services between cities were impacted, but suburban rail routes were still running. [KTIV, 5-8-21]
UNION PACIFIC BIG BOY 4012 LOCOMOTIVE BACK ON DISPLAY AT STEAMTOWN: Steamtown has moved Big Boy 4012 out of the shop after an extensive cosmetic restoration of over 19 months. Included was asbestos abatement and a new paint job. The locomotive is one of just eight surviving Big Boys, and the only one in the eastern U.S. It is now on permanent display on a lightly-curved section of track along the parking lot's southern edge. [Yahoo News, 5-7-21]
RAIL SERVICE RESTORED TO BERNARD BAYOU INDUSTRIAL PARK: In partnership with Kansas City Southern, Mississippi's Gulf & Ship Island Railroad will resume service along the Seaway lead in the Barnard Bayou Industrial Park, with the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad as operator. The restored rail line returns after a more than five-year absence. [Railway Age, 5-7-21]
CN PLACES ORDER FOR 1000 NEW HIGH-CAPACITY GRAIN CARS: Canadian National has placed an order for 1000 new generation, high-capacity grain hopper cars. They will be built by TrinityRail in a plant in Mexico. [CN, 5-7-21]
PORTION OF HONOLULU'S LIGHT-RAIL LINE MAY OPEN THIS YEAR: About 60 percent of Honolulu's 20-mile track is complete, construction for which began a decade ago. It was expected to be cost $5.5-billion and be complete in 2026. Now the cost is projected at over $12-billion, and the route will not be open until 2031. Still, an initial portion from Kapolei to Alaho Stadium could be running as early as December, according to the agency's interim executive. [Railway Track & Structures, 5-7-21]
BRIAN GORTON NAMED PRESIDENT OF CONRAIL: Conrail has named Brian Gorton president and chief operating officer. With 30 years of railroad experience, he began his career with Conrail as a conductor. He succeeds Timothy Tierney, who is retiring. [Progressive Railroading, 5-7-21]
FORMER FRA INSPECTOR CHARGED WITH FALSIFYING HAZMAT REPORTS: A 54-year-old former Federal Railroad Administration inspector in Texas has been charged with lying on official documents related to the transportation of hazardous materials. He was indicated on eight counts, that he allegedly claimed to have conducted inspections that never actually occurred, according to court documents. [Freight Waves, 5-7-21]
STB APPROVES CP-KCS VOTING TRUST: The Surface Transportation Board has approved a voting trust for Canadian Pacific's proposed merger with Kansas City Southern. [Railway Age, 5-6-21]
BUFFALO'S DL&W TERMINAL BEING RESTORED TO FORMER GRANDEUR: Slowly but surely, the Buffalo community aim of restoring the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad terminal to its former grandeur is taking shape. Artist renditions of the planned Metro Rail station at the foot of Main street are appearing on Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority plans, and new features such as a $1.7-million crosswalk at Main and South Park avenue have been approved. Track, signal and catenary realignment is continuing on schedule. And while the future of the terminal's cavenous second floor has yet to be finalized, its private developers are more optimistic than ever about what lies ahead. The transportation authority took over the train shed in the mid-1980's as headquarters for its then-new Metro Rail system. The lower floor has served as Metro Rail's yard and shops complex, but 60,000 square feet of indoor space and another 40,000 square feet of outdoor platform have remained quiet since the last passenger train departed in 1962. [Bill Haines, 5-6-21, from Buffalo News]
CSX DERAILMENT IN S.C. DISRUPTS AMTRAK: One car of a CSX train derailed in Lake City, S.C., late May 5, blocking the rail line for more than half a day, resulting in massive delays to Amtrak's Auto trains. [WMBF, 5-6-21]
VIRGINIA, NORFOLK SOUTHERN AGREE ON PASSENGER RAIL EXPANSION: Virginia and Norfolk Southern have reached an agreement to extend passenger rail service to the state's New River Valley for the first time since 1979. The Western Rail initiative will iinclude the acquisition of right-of-way and track for about 28.5 miles of the former Virginian line from Salem Crossovers west of Roanoke to Merrimac (Christiansburg). Also included are infrastructure investments along the corridor with improvements to Roanoke yard, a seven-mile siding from Nokesville to Calverton, improvements from Salem to Christiansburg, a maintenance facility and passenger platform. [WTKR, 5-5-21]
APRIL 2021 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads originated 2.125.792 carloads and intermodal units in April 2021, up 29.1 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 23.7 percent, and intermodal was up 33.8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-5-21]
SAVAGE RAILPORT OPENED IN UTAH: Utah-based global transportation and logistics company Savage has opened Savage Railport in Tooele, Utah. It is strategically located to serve Salt Lake City and surrounding markets, and is served by Union Pacific. [Railway Age, 5-5-21]
PIONEER RAILCORP CHANGES NAME TO PIONEER LINES: Pioneer Railcorp, which owns and operates 15 railroads and provides rail-related services, has changed its name to Pioneer Lines. The company says the new name emphasizes its growth and long-term vision, to provide new lines of business and connections for customers. [Progressive Railroading, 5-5-21]
FATAL SUBWAY CRASH IN MEXICO CITY: A Mexico City subway train overpass collapsed onto a busy road just as a train passed over it late May 3, killing at least 27 people and sending at least 79 people to hospitals with injuries. The accident occurred on Line 12 near the Olivos station in the southeast of the city. [NBC News, 5-4-21]
NYC SUBWAY SERVICE TO RESUME 24-HOUR SERVICE MAY 17: New York City Transit will resume 24-hour-a-day subway service May 17. The system is currently closed from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. for disinfection efforts. [Progressive Railroading, 5-4-21]
TEXAS CENTRAL R.R. SIGNS CONTRACT FOR ELECTRICAL POWER SYSTEMS: Texas Central Railroad has signed a $1.6-billion contract with Kiewit and Mass Electric to provide core electrical systems to power the high-speed Dallas-Houston line, expected to be operational in 2026. [Railway Track & Structures, 5-4-21]
UNION PACIFIC SET TO OPEN NEW INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Union Pacific plans to open a new intermodal terminal near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in the second-quarter 2021. The railroad will start by establishing a 'pop-up' terminal at its West Colton rail yard. Domestic intermodal service will launch between southern California and Chicago, with expected future service to Dallas and southeast markets. [Union Pacific, 5-4-21]
FIRE DAMAGES STORAGE BUILDINGS AT AMTRAK'S BEECH GROVE FACILITY: A large fire early May 2 heavily damaged two storage buildings at the Amtrak maintenance facility in Beech Grove, Indiana. Both buildings, which collapsed, housed paint and cleaning supplies. [WTHR, 5-3-21]
GROUND BROKEN FOR NJT TRANSIT STATION IN LYNDURST, N.J.: Ground has been broken for construction of a new ADA-accessible New Jersey Transit train station in Lyndhurst, N.J. It will replace a station that is more than a century old, and is designed to replicate the historic style of the neighborhood. [Progressive Railroading, 5-3-21]
CSX DIRECTOR SELLS OVER $50-M IN COMPANY STOCK: Paul Hilal, a CSX director, on April 30 sold 500,000 shares of his company's stock in a transaction worth $50,200,000. He still owns 12,399 shares. [Market Beat, 5-3-21]
APRIL 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 April 2021. The average arrival of all long-distance trains in the survey period was 39 minutes late. The average arrival of just those trains that were behind schedule was one hour and seven minutes late. MORE.. [Bull Sheet Statistical Dept., 5-1-21]
AMTRAK'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATED: President Biden was present at 30th street station in Philadelphia April 30 to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amtrak. The President, who had been a regular rider between Wilmington and Washington for two-thirds of Amtrak's history, accumulating over 1.5 million miles, preceded remarks for the occasion by walking along a yard platform, noting an Amtrak locomotive with a commemorative anniversary livery. He touted the environmental benefits of rail - both passenger and freight. He also endorsed major projects such as the Hudson tunnels, the Baltimore tunnels, and the Susquehanna River bridge. [Railway Age, 4-30-21]
UNION PACIFIC BUILDING GRAIN TRANSLOAD FACILITY IN ILLINOIS: Union Pacific is building a state-of-the-art grain transload facility within its Global IV intermodal terminal in Joliet, Illinois. It will be managed in a joint venture between Consolidated Grain & Barge Co. and Gavilon Grain. Once fully operational, the terminal will have the capacity to process 50,000 containers per year. [Progressive Railroading, 4-30-21]
BILL INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS TO STRENGTHEN ON-TIME AMTRAK PERFORMANCE: A bill entitled 'Rail Passenger Fairness Act' has been introduced in Congress which would provide Amtrak with the ability to take host freight railroads to court to enforce current law requiring preference to passenger trains over freights. [Rail Passengers Assn. hotline, 4-30-21]
WABTEC REPORTS 1-Q PERFORMANCE: Wabtec reported a 'strong operational quarter,' with earnings per diluted share of 59 cents and adjusted earnings per diluted share of 89 cents, compared with 58 cents and 97 cents, respectively, in the first-quarter last year. Total sales came in at $1.8-billion and cash from operations was $282-million. [Railway Age, 4-30-21]
BNSF SAYS IT IS PREPARED TO TRANSPORT OIL IF DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE IS SHUT DOWN: BNSF is prepared to handle any increase in rail traffic if the Dakota Access oil pipeline is shut down due to an ongoing legal dispute, the company says. [Reuters, 4-30-21]
AMTRAK SUBMITS FY-22 FUND REQUEST: Amtrak has submitted its FY-22 General and Legislative Annual Report and Five-Year Plan to Congress and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. The railroad's fiscal-year 2022 grant request proposes $3.88-billion for base needs and funding to offset the pandemic's impacts on Amtrak and its state and commuter partners. Amtrak also requested $1.55-billion for its 'bold reauthorization proposal' to improve the Northeast corridor infrastructure and begin advancing new corridor routes across the nation. [Progressive Railroading, 4-29-21]
CSX AMENDS APPLICATION TO ACQUIRE PAN AM RAILWAYS: CSX has filed with the Surface Tansportation Board an amended application for its proposed acquisition of Pan Am Railways and related carriers. It was filed in response to a ruling that determined the proposed transaction was 'significant,' meaning it will require closer regulatory scrutiny by the board. There are four categories for considering rail merger transactions - major, significant, minor and exempt. In this instance, the category may not be major, as the application involves Class I and II carriers, and in finding the proposal as significant, the board focused on the potential outcome the merger could have on shippers' competitive access to rail. [Progressive Railroading, 4-29-21]
AMTRAK TO RECEIVE $1.69-B FROM FRA: As part of the American Rescue Plan, Amtrak will receive $1.69-billion from the Federal Railroad Administration, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg announced April 27. The money is to provide relief from the impacts of the pandemic on the railroad's operations, work force and state funding partners. [Transportation Today, 4-29-21]
CSX $466-M CLEARANCE PROJECT IN BALTIMORE MAY BEGIN LATER THIS YEAR: CSX, the state of Maryland and others are poised to spend $466-million expanding the more than a century-old Howard street tunnel in Baltimore to fix a bottleneck that has hampered growth at the Port of Baltimore and rail traffic along the East Coast. Preparations are underway to heighten clearances by 18 inches in the tunnel and under three bridges in Baltimore, along with 19 others along the line to Philadelphia. Pending federal approvals, work could begin later this year, and end as soon as 2024, officials say. [Insurance NewsNet, 4-29-21]
NEW ELECTRONIC SIGNALING SYSTEM INSTALLED ON RAIL LINE IN PORTUGAL: Thales has completed the commissioning of a new electronic signaling system, installed at the Beira Baixa rail line between the Covilha and Guarda stations in Portugal. It is a new generation of electronic interlocking with object controllers and the introduction of a new train-detection technology by the use of track circuits. [Progressive Railroading, 4-29-21]
RUSSIA'S YAKUTIA RWY TO TEST TWIN-SECTION DIESEL LOCOMOTIVE IN EXTREME ENVIRONMENT: Russia's Yakutia Railway has taken delivery of a Progress Rail 2TE3250 twin-section diesel locomotive for testing in the region's extreme environment. It is able to operate on a mix of 20 percent diesel and 80 percent gas, which is expected to be much less expansive than pure diesel, and to reduce particulate emissions. [Railway Gazette, 4-29-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending April 24, 2021, was 538,184 carloads and intermodal units, up 30 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 25 percent, and intermodal was up 34.3 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-28-21]
NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 1-Q RESULTS: Norfolk Southern reported first-quarter 2021 net income was $673-million, diluted earnings per share were a first-quarter record of $2.66, and the operating ratio improved to an all-time quarterly record of 61.5 percent. Income from railway operations was a first-quarter record of $1-billion, an increase of 79 percent, year-over-year. Excluding the effect of a locomotive rationalization charge in the first-quarter last year, income from railway operations was up 7 percent. [Norfolk Southern, 4-28-21]
MARYLAND REJECTS SINGLE-TRACKING PLAN FOR PURPLE LIGHT-RAIL LINE: Montgomery County, Md., officials had wanted the Purple light-rail line to be single-tracked at the Bethesda station to make room for the Capitol Crescent recreational trail, a plan that would save the county nearly $55-million by not having to build another tunnel for the trail. However, the Maryland Dept. of Transportation nixed the idea, saying that a single track at that location would slow the trains, add at least two minutes to the Bethesda stop, and increase train spacing to eight minutes rather than the federally-approved plan of 7.5 minutes. There was also the issue of significant disruption if mechanical problems were to develop for a train stopped on single-track at the station. [Railway Track & Structures, 4-28-21]
NADINE LEE NAMED PRESIDENT, CEO OF DART: The Dallas Area Rapid Transit's board has appointed Nadine Lee as its new president and chief executive officer, to become effective July 12. [Railway Track & Structures, 4-28-21]
BICYCLIST KILLED IN COLLISION WITH CAR ON TORREY C. BROWN RAIL TRAIL: A 77-year-old man was killed April 27 after his bicycle and car collided on the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail at the Paper Mill road crossing near Cockeysville, Md. The man was riding his bike south on the trail, also known as the Northern Central Railroad Trail, when he entered the crosswalk and then collided with a Dodge Dart in the westbound lane. [WJZ, 4-28-21]
CAPITOL CORRIDOR TO INCREASE SERVICE JUNE 7: California's Capitol Corridor will increase service beginning June 7 based on growing ridership demand, funding support, equipment availability and improving public health conditions. Service will increase from 16 weekday and 10 weekend trips to 22 and 18, respectively. [Progressive Railroading, 4-27-21]
D.C. METRO BEGINS ESCALATOR REPLACEMENT PROGRAM: Washington DC Metro is replacing its oldest, least reliable excalators, starting April 26 at Gallery Place Station. It will be the first of 130 escalators to be replaced over seven years. [Progressive Railroading, 4-26-21]
SACRAMENTO TRANSIT AWARDED $33-M IN MODERNIZATION FUNDING: The Sacramento Regional Transit District has been awarded more than $33-million in modernization funding from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. It includes $22-million to accelerate its light-rail modernization project, $4.5-million to advance the Sacramento Valley loop stations project, and $1.6-million to complete the unding needed to reimagine the Watt/I-80 station. [Progressive Railroading, 4-26-21]
CN REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Canadian National reported 2021 first-quarter income of $1.327-billion (C), an increase of 9 percent compared with the same period last year, and adjusted operating income of $1.19-billion, a decrease of 2 percent. Revenues of $3.535-billion were in line with the prior year. Diluted earnings per share of $1.37 decreased 4 percent, and adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.23 increased 1 percent. [Canadian National, 4-26-21]
KCS TO BEGIN TALKS WITH CN OVER ACQUISITION PROPOSAL: The board of Kansas City Southern has agreed to begin talks with Canadian National after finding that its offer for the company may lead to a better deal than that proposed by rival Canadian Pacific. This does not mean that KC Southern is walking away from its previous acceptance of a bid by Canadian Pacific, rather that it will begin discussions and provide confidential financial and business information. [Kansas City Business Journal, 4-25-21]
STB TO REVIEW PROPOSED ACQUISITION BY CP OF KCS UNDER 'WAIVER PROVISION': The Surface Transportation Board (with one member dissenting) has confirmed that it will review the proposed acquisition by Canadian Pacific of Kansas City Southern under the waiver provision it granted KCS in 2001. [Railway Age, 4-24-31]
NJT ACHIEVES FULL ROSTER OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS: New Jersey Transit now has a full roster of locomotive engineers. The agency's latest engineer training class is in the final stages of field training and will begin final check rides in the next few weeks. With this class, NJT has added more than 100 new locomotive engineers to its roster since 2018. [Progressive Railroading, 4-23-21]
AMTRAK NEC PASSENGERS TO BE PROVIDED CARBON EMISSIONS SAVINGS DATA: Passengers traveling on Amtrak's Northeast corridor between Boston and Washington will now be provided their trip-specific carbon emissions savings. The savings are calculated by showing riders how much they saved by not driving, as well as how much they saved by not flying. On the Northeast corridor, Amtrak produces 83 percent less emissions than driving alone, and up to 73 percent less than flying. The feature will serve as a pilot program as Amtrak plans to introduce carbon emissions savings on all tickets across the national network in the future. [Progressive Railroading, 4-23-21]
TRINITY INDUSTRIES REPORTS 1-Q RESULTS: Trinity Industries announced first-quarter 2021 results, including total revenue of $399-million, income from continuing operations per common diluted share of 3 cents, and quarterly adjusted EPS of 7 cents. [Progressive Railroading, 4-23-21]
AMTRAK HIAWATHA SERVICE TO BE RESTORED TO FULL SCHEDULE ON MAY 23: Amtrak is restoring all Hiawatha round-trips between Milwaukee and Chicago starting May 23. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4-23-21]
SHIPPERS OFFER VIEW OF CN'S PROPOSAL TO ACQUIRE KCS: A survey by Jason Seidl of Cowen of more than 100 shippers over a 24-hour period showed that 25 percent had a positive view of the CN transaction, 45 percent had a negative view, and 30 percent had no opinion. [Moose Jaw Today, 4-23-21]
DEPUTY FRA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINATED FOR PROMOTION TO ADMINISTRATOR: Amitabha Bose, currently deputy Federal Railroad administrator, has been nominated to serve as administrator, the White House announced on April 23. [Railway Age, 4-23-21]
UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific reported first-quarter 2021 net income of $1.3-billion or $2.00 per diluted share, compared with $1.5-billion or $2.15 per diluted share in the same quarter last year. Operating revenue of $5-billion was down 4 percent, and freight revenue declined 5 percent. [Union Pacific, 4-22-21]
AMTRAK SELECTS SIEMENS TO SUPPLY 83 BI-MODE INTERCITY TRAIN SETS: Amtrak has selected Siemens as the preferred bidder to supply a fleet of 83 bi-mode intercity train sets. They will operate on the Northeast corridor, Palmetto, and various state-supported routes, replacing legacy fleets such as Amfleet-I cars, converted Metroliner cab cars, and articulated Talgo cars in Cascades trains. [International Railway Journal, 4-22-21]
CP SAYS CN'S BID TO ACQUIRE KCS IS 'FANTASYLAND': The head of Canadian Pacific referred to its rival's bid for Kansas City Southern 'fantasyland,' as a war of words between Canada's two largest railroads continued to heat up. Canadian National's $33.7-billion offer could be 500 percent more than CP's. In a letter from CN's CEO to KCS's directors, Jean-Jacques Ruest countered by accusing CP of distracting investors with 'inaccurate and unfounded assertions.' He said that CP's claims are not intended to benefit KCS shareholders, but to advance CP's own interests and to deprive KCS shareholdes of the full value for their shares. [Estevan Mercury, 4-22-21]
CP WILL NOT INCREASE ITS BID FOR KCS, CEO SAYS: Canadian Pacific's chief executive officer said the company will not raise its bid for Kansas City Southern, saying rival Canadian National's offer is 'not a real deal.' [Reuters, 4-21-21]
CP ANNOUNCES 1-Q RESULTS: Canadian Pacific first-quarter 2021 revenues were $1.96-billion, down 4 percent compared with the first-quarter last year. Diluted earnings per share were $4.50, and its operating ratio was 60.2 percent. [Canadian Pacific, 4-21-21]
WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. rail freight traffic in the week ending April 17, 2021, was 533,217 carloads and intermodal units, up 32.2 percent compared with the corresponding week last year. Calculated separately, carloads were up 25.2 percent, and intermodal was up 38.3 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-21-21]
CHICAGO TRANSIT SET TO REPLACE 100-YEAR-OLD INFRASTRUCTURE: The Chicago Transit Authority will begin on May 16 the first of two phases of work as part of the agency's $2.1-billion Red and Purple modernization to rebuild the 100-year-old Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations and tracks. The new stations will be larger, fully-accessible and with wider platforms. [Railway Track & Structures, 4-21-21]
SAVANNAH PORT TERMINAL R.R. TO SERVE MASON MEGA RAIL TERMINAL: The Savannah Port Terminal Railroad, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming, has broadened its rail services agreement with the Georgia Ports Authority to include the new Mason Mega Rail Terminal. Annual container capacity at the port, the country's largest and fastest-growing container terminal, is expected to double to two million 20-foot-equivalent units with the completion of the Mason Mega project later this year. [Progressive Railroading, 4-21-21]
OMNITRAX TO HELP DEVELOP SOUTHERN INDIANA INDUSTRIAL PARK: OmniTRAX has agreed to partner with the River Ridge Development Authority to further develop the River Ridge Commerce Center's rail infrastructure and attract major employers to southern Indiana. Connecting directly with CSX, the park is centrally located and in close proximity to three interstate highways, Louisville Intrnational Airport, the Ohio River and the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville. [Progressive Railroading, 4-21-21]
PORT OF SOUTH LOUISIANA'S ST. CHARLES PARISH RAIL YARD COMPLETED: The Port of South Louisiana has announced that the construction of its six-track rail yard in St. Charles Parish is now complete. Designed to maintain and store rail cars, the yard is located at SoLaPort, a port-owned property on the west bank of the Mississippi River. [Progressive Railroading, 4-21-21]
CSX PROJECTS BIG REVENUE GROWTH FOR REST OF YEAR, INCREASE IN EMPLOYMENT: CSX is projecting big revenue growth for the rest of the year, and expects to add between 400 and 500 employees. [Jacksonville Daily Record, 4-21-21]
CP RESPONDS TO CN'S PLAN TO ACQUIRE KCS: Canadian Pacific characterizes Canadian National's merger plan with Kansas City Southern as illusory and inferior because it creates adverse competitive impacts and raises other serious public interest concerns. Moreover, the proposal increases regulatory and antitrust risk for KCS shareholders and decreases benefits for customers, employees and other stakeholders. CP adds that the proposal is massively complex and likely to fail. [CP, 4-20-21]
CN SAYS PROPOSED MERGER WITH KCS CREATES 'FORMIDABLE OPPONENT' TO LONG-HAUL TRUCKING: A merger between Canadian National and Kansas City Southern would create a formidable opponent to long-haul trucking, CN executives said. CN sees $8-billion in market opportunities post-merger, including a $6-billion truck-addressable market with rapid future growth resulting from the reshoring trend and the trade agreement among the three North American nations. [Freight Waves, 4-20-21]
CN PRESENTS RIVAL PLAN TO PURCHASE KCS: On the heels of Canadian Pacific's proposal to purchase Kansas City Southern, Canadian National has submitted it own plan by offering a cash-and-stock bid valued at $33.7-billion. CP's proposal was valued at $25-billion. CN is offering $200 in cash and 1.059 shares of CN common stock for each KCS common share, equivalent to about $317 per share based on share prices the morning of April 20. [Delta Optimist, 4-20-21]
LIRR TO TEST BATTERY-POWERED TRAINS: The Long Island Rail Road will test battery-powered trains with a view to rolling the technology out more widely if the test is successful. LIRR will test trains on its light-rail network, with manufacturer Alstom providing the technology. Upon successful completion of an eight-month initial analysis, technicians will retrofit a two-car-long train to operate on battery power, without passengers, on the Oyster Bay branch. While on electric portions of the route, the train would run on third-rail power and charge the batteries, then switch to battery power for the unelectrified segment. [Intelligent Transport, 4-20-21]
TORONTO UNION STATION TO GET UPGRADES FOR INCREASING SERVICE LEVELS: Toronto Union Station and the surrounding rail corridor will be getting upgrades in preparation of increased service levels for the years ahead. The station currently serves about 350,000 people each day. The planned work will support an expected daily traffic increase to four times the number of trains. In the past year, Metrolinx has opened the new Union Station bus terminal, and after an extensive revitalization will reopen the station's Bay Concourse and Bay East Teamway later this year. [Progressive Railroading, 4-20-21]
CSX REPORTS 1-Q RESULTS: CSX reported first-quarter 2021 net earnings of $706-million or 93 cents per share, compared to $770-million or $1.00 per share in the same period last year. Revenue decreased one percent to $2.81-billion, as intermodal and other revenue growth was more than offset by declines in merchandise, coal and fuel surcharge revenues. Expenses increased two percent and operating income declined seven percent. [CSX, 4-20-21]
BOSTON'S GREEN LINE EXTENSION PROJECT ON SCHEDULE: Boston's Green line extension should be ripe with activity come 2022. The $2.3-billion project remains on schedule for a late 2021 completion. The 4.7-mile extension will connect Cambridge, Somerville and Medford, placing 80 percent of Bostonians within a half-mile from a T stop. Currently, only 20 percent live within that distance. [Railway Track & Structures, 4-20-21]
UNION PACIFIC CONDUCTORS WILL RESUME CHECKING TICKETS ON METRA TRAINS IN JUNE: Citing the pandemic as a reason not to allow its conductors to collect fares on Metra trains, Union Pacific and Metra have confirmed that the conductors will resume this duty beginning June 1. [StreetsBlog Chicago, 4-19-21]
AMTRAK CASCADES SERVICE TO INCREASE IN MAY: Amtrak Cascades service partially bounces back from its one lonely round-trip per day between Seattle and Eugene. As of late May, there will be a second daily round-trip between Seattle and Euguene, and a third round-trip between Seattle and Portland. Service north to Vancouver, B.C., however, remains suspended becuase of the pandemic. [KNKX, 4-19-21]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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, 3-4-21]
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, 3-4-21]
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 early 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 continue 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 territory, providing alerts when necessary, such as reducing 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 reached 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 will 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, precisely 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 impacted 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.
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 new 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 needed for the project, and control of the three station sites in Dallas, Brazos Valley and Houston. Texas Central is ready to build and will proceed 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 environmental 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]
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 Transportation 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 WW-I 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 its 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 trespassing 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 purchased 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 decreased 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 Commuter 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. [International 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 SOUTHERN 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 accessible 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: Canadian 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. Adjusted return on invested capital of 13.4 percent was a decrease of 1.7 points. [CN, 1-26-21]
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 descending 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 Hiawatha 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 fluctuations 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 Transpiration 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 Administration, 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 perspectives 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]
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 require 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 station 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 contractor, 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 a protected species. [Montana Public Radio, 1-12-21]
COLORADO PACIFIC OBJECTS TO UNION PACIFIC'S TENNESSEE PASS RAIL LINE DEAL: Colorado Pacific Railroad intends to object to a new 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 decision, 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 causes 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 rescind 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 & Structures, 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 electric 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 temperature-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 scold term as chair of the Brotherhood 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 carrying 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 Montreal's Poine-St-Charles rail yard. One source said that the employee was struck by a train. [CTV News, 1-6-21]
APPALACHIAN 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 modifying 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]
MUDSLIDE FORCES CANCELATION OF SEATTLE-EVERETT SOUNDER NORTH SERVICE: Seattle's Sound Transit 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 Pakenham 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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