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UTU GAINS FEDERAL PROBE INTO RAILROAD POLICE ABUSE: The United Transportation Union has successfully called upon Congress to investigate the role of railroad police and allegations of abuse of their police power... "Rather than acting as surrogate trainmasters and spying on operating employees, these armed officers, with extraordinary police powers, should be focusing on protecting railroads, their employees and the general public from terrorist activities," said UTU International President Byron A. Boyd Jr... Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) assisted the UTU in convincing the leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee to demand an immediate federal investigation into the proper role of railroad police... Railroad police officers "answer to private sector employers and are not directly accountable to the public like most law enforcement officers," Sen. Lautenberg told the Senate during a discussion of railroad safety... "I am mindful that this could present potential for abuse - that under the guise of state law enforcement authority, these railroad police officers could engage in activities unrelated to law enforcement, such as enforcing railroad company policies or even labor agreements.".. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), and the committee's senior Democrat, Fritz Hollings of South Carolina, agreed the situation warrants immediate action. [United Transportation Union, 12-31-03]

WASHINGTON STATE DINNER TRAIN RESUMES: After a couple of years in the rail yard, a dinner train with a lot of history will resume its route in the foothills of Mount Rainier today [December 31], reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Mount Rainier Railroad Dining Co. holds just as much personal history for the man who built it. The train is Bob Thurston's legacy, now carried on by two of his children after Thurston suffered a stroke in June. Tonight, the Elbe-based train will resume serving a full-course meal on a dinner car from the 1910s. It will also provide views of nature from lounge and observation cars that were part of the American Freedom Train that helped celebrate the 1976 U.S. bicentennial. The comeback run today will be a four-plus-hour ride, pulled by a diesel engine for this one night. It features a 40-mile round trip between Elbe, near the Paradise entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, and Morton, a Lewis County timber town on the other side of the Nisqually River. [United Transportation Union, 12-31-03, from article in Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

FLORIDA TRI-RAIL BEGINS TWO-YEAR DMU TEST: Florida Tri-Rail operated the first revenue run of a Colorado Railcar Diesel Multiple-Unit (DMU) as a test project on the South Florida Rail Corridor December 31. The DMU operated round trip between the Miami International Airport station and the Mangonia Park station as Tri-Rail trains 608 and 613, carrying a capacity load of 200 passengers on each train. As part of the test, Tri-Rail will purchase two bi-level DMUs and one single-level DMU. The project, at a cost of $12-million, is being funded by the Federal Railroad Administration and is designed to evaluate performance on a commuter rail line. The equipment is scheduled to operate on six trains per day, five days a week, 48 weeks a year, for two years. [CSX News Report, from Newswire]

MAN HIT BY TRAIN SUES UNION PACIFIC: A man struck by a train at a Domino, Texas, railroad crossing is suing Union Pacific for more than $50,000 because he claims the company could have prevented his accident. Tommy Harmon, 41, of Fouke, Ark., has filed the lawsuit against Union Pacific and engineer David Abernathy in district court of Cass County. He claims there have been several accidents at the crossing and Union Pacific has done nothing to correct the problem, said Richard Adams, the plaintiff's attorney. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-31-03, from report on Texarkana Gazette website]

HOUSTON METRO TO BEGIN LIGHT-RAIL SERVICE: On January 1, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO), will begin light-rail service on its 7.5-mile starter line. Rides will be free through January 4, after which passengers will be charged a $1 fare. Transfers to and from local buses are free. Trains will run from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan. 25. Permanent hours of operation begin Jan 26, at which time service will be available from 4:20 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday; 5:25 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Saturday and 5:25 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday. [, 12-30-03]

CSX SUED OVER CONTAMINATION: Three Charlotte, N.Y., businesses have sued CSX Transportation Inc., alleging that the rail company is moving too slowly to clean up contamination left after the fiery train derailment in December 2001, reports the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle. Last week, the three businesses - Rochester Yacht Club, Pelican Marina and Waterfront Cafe, and Tapecon Inc. - filed largely similar suits in U.S. District Court, contending that CSX has been negligent with the environmental cleanup, reports the Associated Press. Tapecon, for instance, alleges in its lawsuit that CSX performed a cleanup at its business site but that the removal of tainted soil was "neither successful nor adequately completed, and large quantities of soils contaminated with the hazardous chemicals remain in the soil and groundwater at the property.'' CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said Tuesday [December 30] that he couldn't comment on the specific lawsuits but that CSX is cooperating with environmental agencies and other officials to clean up the site of the derailment. CSX is working to ensure that "anything that needs to get done is done, properly, appropriately, safely,'' Sullivan said. A runaway freight train crashed and exploded along River Street on Dec. 23, 2001, spilling diesel fuel, acetone and methylene chloride. CSX had admitted fault, saying the train's brakes weren't properly set. [United Transportation Union, 12-31-03, from report in Rochester Democrat and Chronicle]

STB SAYS NS CHARGING CAROLINA POWER & LIGHT 'UNREASONABLY HIGH' COAL RATES: On December 23, the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision favoring Carolina Power & Light Co.'s (CP&L) claim that Norfolk Southern Railway charged "unreasonably high" rates to move coal from West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia mines to power plants in Mayo and Hyco, N.C. The board ordered NS to reduce the challenged rates and pay CP&L reparations. Using the board's stand-alone cost (SAC) test, CP&L determined NS' rates were unreasonably high, STB officials believe. Under the SAC test, a complaining shipper designs a hypothetical railroad specifically tailored to serve the shipper's needs. The cost to build and operate the railroad are compared to revenue the road would be expected to earn. If the shipper demonstrates the stand-alone railroad would earn more than necessary to cover all its costs (including a reasonable return on investment), the shipper is entitled to rate relief. NS officials are pleased with the board's timely decision, which finds "a significant portion of [our] rate increase on coal shipments to several of Carolina Power & Light's facilities to be reasonable," according to a prepared statement. Soon, NS expects to comment on the decision's potential effect on its earnings. [, 12-29-03]

CAPITOL LIMITED COACH DERAILS IN OHIO: A minor derailment on the eastbound Capitol Limited late on December 24 injured two and caused disruption as passengers were transferred to the forward part of the train. The second-to-last coach partially derailed just east of Toledo at a crossing with another rail line. The section of the train forward from that coach was able to proceed after a delay. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers]

CN ORDERED TO INSPECT ALL WOODEN BRIDGES: Seven months after a fatal train wreck in northern British Columbia, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is ordering CN Rail to ensure the safety of 650 wooden bridges across the country, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. A TSB investigation has revealed a number of shortcomings in CN's inspection and maintenance practices. Two CN workers died last May after a rail bridge collapsed and a freight train plunged into a remote ravine and burned on the line east of Prince George. Although the official investigation continues into the wreck that took the lives of Ken LeQuesne (conductor) and Art McKay (locomotive engineer), the TSB took the unusual step of issuing recommendations before its work is done, because of safety concerns for railway workers and the public. The board says its investigation has revealed, "the presence of a number of shortcomings in CN's inspection and maintenance practices" for timber bridges. "What our investigators found, basically, was there was in some cases I guess, what you could call a disconnect, in what actual inspection had been done and what information had been recorded in inspection reports," said James Levesque, TSB spokesman. In the wake of the fatal crash some rail workers criticized CN for cutting back on track maintenance. But the rail company says its safety record is second to none. CN says the rail bridge that collapsed in northern B.C. last May was inspected just two days before the wreck. [United Transportation Union, 12-23-03, from Canadian Broadcasting Corp.]

AMTRAK STOP TO BE ADDED AT PARADISE, PA.: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Lancaster County officials have announced plans for construction of a station along Amtrak's Harrisburg line at Lehman Place, also known as Paradise. The station will make connections to the Strasburg Rail Road, but will also serve county buses, according to the National Association of Railroad Passengers. The station will feature a circular driveway, a passenger drop off area, and hitching posts for horses and buggies for the large Amish presence in the area.

ALASKA RAILROAD PLANS ON ADDING COACHES, FIRST-CLASS OPTION: The Alaska Railroad aims to take the "coach" out of passenger coaches. Beginning with two new double-decker passenger cars, the company expects to add a costlier first-class option for ticket buyers by the 2005 tourist season. The railroad is in the process of buying the cars now, which officials say will help update its fleet and increase passenger capacity. No price or manufacturer has been decided on, though Colorado Railcar, based in Fort Lupton, Colo., is a likely choice. The cars will carry about 70 passengers in a domed upper level, while a large galley, or kitchen, would fill the lower section. Premium seating has been a common request, said Alaska Railroad spokesman Pat Flynn. "A lot of people call and say, 'Is there an upgraded service available?'" he said. The British Columbia-based Great Canadian Railtour Co. operates a business called Rocky Mountaineer Railtours, which ferries passengers between Vancouver, B.C., and Jasper, Banff and Calgary, Alberta. In 1995, that company began offering a more expensive first-class service in two-story passenger coaches of its own. It's among the businesses the Alaska Railroad looked to for inspiration. Graham Gilley, Rocky Mountaineer Railtours vice president of marketing, said the first-class seating was a hit with customers, and by February the company will have a fleet of 12 premium cars available. The Canadian company's upgraded service costs twice as much as a regular ticket, but now accounts for 50 percent of sales, Gilley said. In comparison, the feature generated just 5 percent of sales when it was introduced less than 10 years ago. Rocky Mountaineer Railtours' new passenger coaches were produced by Colorado Railcar and cost about $3.5-million per car, Gilley said. Flynn said the Alaska Railroad's cars will be custom built to the company's needs, meaning they may not be directly comparable to the double-decker coaches the Canadian outfit uses. The Alaska Railroad is owned by the state of Alaska but not paid for through the state's general fund. Passenger services account for about 15 percent of its revenue. The company boasts 21 passenger-seating coaches and carried 113,284 passengers during the summer season this year. Some of the coaches it uses are more than 50 years old, and, at times during the summer, every piece of passenger equipment is in use, Flynn said. "This will add some flexibility for when trains sell out, we can add more coaches." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-23-03, from article by Kyle Hopkins posted on the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner website]

SOUND TRANSIT LAUNCHES EVERETT-SEATTLE COMMUTER TRAINS: Regional transit agency Sound Transit launched the Seattle-Everett leg of its commuter-rail service Sunday [December 21] by scheduling a train to carry football fans from Everett to Seahawks Stadium in downtown Seattle. More than 700 people made the trip, filling up the five-car Sounder train, according to Sound Transit. The transit agency on Monday began daily commuter-rail service between Everett and Seattle on weekdays, although the initial runs are limited to one round trip daily. Sounder leaves Everett Station at 6:55 a.m. and arrives in Seattle's King Street Station at 7:54 a.m. For evening commuters, Sounder pulls out of King Street Station at 5:15 p.m. and arrives in Everett at 6:14 p.m. The trains make an interim stop in Edmonds. Regular service was made possible by a negotiated agreement between Sound Transit and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway over the transit agency's use of the railroad company's tracks. Sound Transit will pay BNSF $258-million over four years for operating easements on BNSF tracks between Everett and Seattle. The deal gives the transit agency the right to run trains on those tracks during specific hours of the day in perpetuity, according to the agency. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-22-03, from The Puget Sound Business Journal website]

CPR TO TEST RAILPOWER'S 'GREEN GOAT' IN WINTER CONDITIONS: Another Class I soon will be testing RailPower Technologies Corp.'s Green Goat hybrid switching locomotive. In early February, Canadian Pacific Railway expects to lease a unit for 90 days and test the locomotive in various winter operating conditions at its Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and Coquitlam, British Columbia, yards. "This trial will provide CPR the opportunity to assess the Green Goat in our own demanding operations and consider how it might fit with our fleet of approximately 260 active yard locomotives," said CPR Senior Vice President of Operations Neal Foot in a prepared statement. Union Pacific Railroad and short line Pacific Harbor Line Inc. previously tested 2,000-horsepower Green Goats, which feature a small diesel generator and long-life batteries. The locomotives are designed to reduce NOx and diesel-particulate emissions 80 percent to 90 percent, and fuel consumption, about 50 percent, compared with a conventional switcher. [, 12-23-03]

SIERRA RAILROAD TO REVIVE 'SKUNK TRAIN': Sierra Railroad Co. recently acquired the 118-year-old California Western Railroad (CWR) or "Skunk Train," which filed for bankruptcy a year ago and has been closed since summer. On December 17, a federal bankruptcy court awarded the Skunk Train to Sierra Railroad because the Oakdale, Calif.-based short line "recognizes the historic place of [CWR] in its community and its value to the local tourism industry," according to a prepared statement. "Sierra Railroad recognizes the loss that the Skunk would cause to the economy of Mendocino County and feels that it can take the operation to the next level," said Robert Pinoli, vice president of Sierra Entertainment, which manages Sierra Railroad's tourist trains and film-production business. Sierra Railroad plans to reopen the Skunk Train in May 2004 - the start of the tourist-train season. "We intend to operate the Skunk differently than prior operators have done," said Sierra Entertainment President Chris Hart. Sierra Railroad expects to offer three different tourist-train services to increase the Skunk Train's ridership. The short line plans to expand steam-locomotive service on CWR's 21-mile flagship line between Fort Bragg and Northspur; maintain a "TrainSinger" service; and introduce a "Skunk AutoFerry" operating twice daily between Willits and Fort Bragg using 12 converted flat cars with sidewalls designed to accommodate cars, buses and recreational vehicles. "A key advantage for the renewed CWR is having two sister railroads: the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train and the Yolo Shortline," said Hart, referring to the two tourist trains Sierra Railroad now operates after merging with Yolo in June. "We can share staffing, marketing, reservations, maintenance and equipment." The 49-mile Sierra Railroad offers freight-rail services throughout northern California; track-maintenance and repair services; dinner trains; diesel and steam locomotive excursions; and moviemaking accommodations. [, 12-22-03]

BNSF TO INCREASE SHIPPING RATES: The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway will raise its grain shipping rates early next year due to the harvest, a spokesman told the Associated Press. "This is market-driven. Current conditions and near-record harvests have put pressure on the entire grain transportation network," said Gus Melonas, director of public affairs for the railroad, a subsidiary of Fort Worth, Texas-based Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. Existing rates don't reflect current marketing conditions, Melonas told the Daily Republic of Mitchell, S.D. Domestic rates for wheat and corn will increase $100 per train car and soybeans will increase between $200 and $260 per car next month, he said. Corn will rise by another $100 per car in February, according to Melonas. Bob Way, a Mitchell grain merchant, said he hasn't seen a shipping increase that big in a long time. [United Transportation Union, 12-22-03, from Associated Press report] MORE

GENESEE & WYOMING PURCHASES GEORGIA-PACIFIC'S THREE SHORTLINES: Genesee & Wyoming (GWI) has reached an agreement with Georgia-Pacific Corporation to acquire three short lines for $55.6-million, and provide Georgia-Pacific facilities rail service for 20 years. GWI will acquire the 15-mile Chattahoochee Industrial Railroad; 53-mile Arkansas, Louisiana & Mississippi Railroad; and 57-mile Fordyce & Princeton Railroad.

HISTORIC TROLLEY ACQUIRED BY ROCKHILL MUSEUM: Rockhill Trolley Museum, Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, has acquired and received former SEPTA tower car D-39, which was the oldest electric railway vehicle in service until going to the Rockhill site. It was built in 1908 for Philadelphia Rapid Transit as an ash car to remove ashes from PRT power plants. It later served as a freight car, trash car and eventually a tower car to assist on overhead line maintenance on subway-surface and Media/Sharon Hill light-rail lines. [Philadelphia NRHS Cinders, 1-04]

RAIL TUNNEL COULD BE ADDED TO MASSACHUSETTS' TRANSPORTATION PLANS: A proposed rail tunnel linking Boston's two major transportation hubs has garnered support from 121 state representatives and senators. The politicians are encouraging Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to add the project to the state's long-term transportation plan. The project is designed to link Boston's North and South stations via a double tracked 1.5-mile tunnel, which would enable Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trains to run non-stop through the system. Trains currently have to turn around when they arrive at either end of downtown Boston. Estimated to cost between $2.4-billion and $3.8-billion, the project would include a central underground station, shopping mall and pedestrian links throughout downtown Boston, and underground platforms at the North and South stations. The tunnel also would connect MBTA's Purple Line branches, and could link the Northeast Corridor with New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Canada, according to a prepared statement. [, 12-22-03]

OFFICIALS SAY SHORTLINE RAIL CUTBACKS COULD BE COSTLY: Cutbacks in rural rail transportation could increase the cost of Kansas wheat as well as maintenance costs for roads, some officials warn. About 335 miles of railway in Kansas, most of it owned by short-line railroads, was abandoned in 2001, said Steven Bittel, executive director of the Kansas Rural Development Council. And the share of grain shipped by truck from Kansas elevators increased from 37 percent in 1990 to 47 percent in 2000. Bittel said that if trucks carried all grain, the upkeep of state roads would cost an additional $57.8-million per year based on the wear and tear of increased truck traffic. Ron Suppes, commissioner of the Kansas Wheat Commission and a member of the Scott Co-op Assn. in Scott City, said that without competition from short-line railways, trucking firms would raise the price to haul grain, increasing the cost of Kansas wheat relative to foreign growers. Short-line railway, controlled by smaller firms, connects rural areas with nationwide Class 1 systems operated by such larger railroads as Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific. Typically, grain hauled by a short-line carrier passes its load on to a Class 1 carrier for transport to national distribution points. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-22-03, from Associated Press report]

BNSF, BLE AGREE ON PROFIT-SHARING PLAN: Under a recently ratified agreement with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), a new profit-sharing plan for all BNSF locomotive engineers will become effective Jan. 1, 2004. This plan is in addition to an already existing profit-sharing arrangement for engineers working in road freight service on former Santa Fe territory. Under the new plan, BLE members traded a general wage increase in 2004 for a maximum 6-percent profit sharing, based on each engineer's annual earnings. For 2005 and beyond, the maximum profit-sharing percentage increases to 8 percent of annual earnings in place of a general wage increase. BNSF's achievement of its annual Incentive Compensation Program goals will be the basis used for computing the profit-sharing level for locomotive engineers, just as it is for salaried employees. Another provision of the agreement allows for a "snap-back" option, exercisable by May 1, 2005, should BNSF BLE's members choose to forego the profit-sharing plan in the future. In that event, BLE wages would snap back to the levels called for by the national agreement reached in conjunction with the BNSF profit-sharing agreement. [BNSF Today, 12-19-03]

DEPOT AT AUBURN, CALIFORNIA, OPENS: Auburn, California, celebrated the opening of its new intermodal transportation center on December 19, 2003. The station now serves Amtrak's Capitol Corridor and local bus service. Ridership at the Auburn station has grown from 5,505 in 1999 to 37,076 this year. Plans are in the works to extend an additional Capitol Corridor train to Auburn by mid-2004. [National Assn of Railroad Passengers]

ADDITIONAL FUNDING SOUGHT FOR NORTHERN VIRGINIA PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) recently approved its 2004 legislative agenda. The commission's primary goal is to obtain increased funding for public transit in Northern Virginia and convince the General Assembly to give the state more flexibility to pursue new transit funding sources. NVTC has proposed a 10-cent increase to the statewide motor-fuel user fee, with all proceeds going to the Transportation Trust Fund. The measure is estimated to increase transit funding $70-million annually. The commission also proposed a 2 percent increase to the motor fuel tax, which would increase transit funding another $20-million annually. "Local governments are required to pay a great share for our transit services. Our funding partners at the state and local levels need to meet their responsibilities," said NVTC Chairman Elaine McConnell. The funds are key to Virginia Railway Express, which is co-owned by NVTC. The transit agency is experiencing 20 percent annual ridership growth, and soon will reach capacity. [, 12-19-03]

RAIL IMPROVEMENTS COULD REDUCE I-81 TRUCKS BY 500,000 A YEAR, STUDY SAYS: With significant improvements to Virginia's rail system, 500,000 trucks a year could be taken off Interstate 81, a study released Thursday [December 18] said. The study, commissioned by the state Department of Rail and Public Transportation, suggested that $492-million in improvements could reduce tractor-trailer traffic on the highway by 5 percent by the year 2020. I-81 has become a major East Coast commercial route through the western Virginia mountains, now handling more than twice the truck volume it was built to handle. The findings also showed that a regional rail upgrade involving up to 14 Eastern states could reduce truck congestion on I-81 considerably more than Virginia-only improvements would. If 12 of those states in the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest increased capacity along their rails, the highway could see a 30 percent reduction in truck traffic by 2020. However, that would require an estimated $7.9-billion in funding, the study said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-18-03, from report by Associated Press]

OHIO COKE PLANT TO BE FUTURE NORFOLK SOUTHERN CUSTOMER: On December 17, Sun Coke Co. broke ground on a coke plant in Haverhill, Ohio, that will be served by Norfolk Southern Railway, according to the railroad's January newsletter released Dec. 18. Sun Coke is constructing the plant - which is expected to open in 18 to 24 months - to serve International Steel Group. The facility is designed to receive coal, which is used to produce coke. Steelmakers place coke in fire furnaces to manufacture steel. NS expects to deliver about 800,000 tons of inbound coal to the plant annually - enough to produce 550,000 tons of outbound coke, which the railroad would move to Cleveland, East Chicago, Ind., and Sparrows Point, Md. "We expect to see volumes grow as the demand for coke continues to rise," said Tony Wade, NS director of domestic metallurgical coal. [, 12-19-03]

U.P. RELOCATES BRIDGE AS PART OF PLAN TO BYPASS KANSAS TOWN: On December 18, Union Pacific Railroad finished relocating a 183-foot rail bridge over the Big Blue River in Marysville, Kan. The Class I disconnected the 30-year-old, 315-ton bridge from existing approaches and abutments, and moved the structure 200 feet down river on a barge. The project is part of a multi-year plan - formed in November 2002, and funded by UP, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Kansas Department of Transportation - to reroute trains south and west of Marysville. To be completed in summer 2005, the plan includes constructing six run-through tracks in a soon-to-be-built yard south of the city, and bridges to route U.S. Highways 36 and 77 traffic over the tracks and yard. Each day, 60 to 80 trains move through Marysville; 30 to 40 trains now will travel over the relocated bridge. [, 12-19-03]

SOUND TRANSIT FINALIZES COMMUTER RAIL AGREEMENT WITH BNSF: Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Ron Sims announced December 17 that final agreements have been reached with BNSF for extending Sounder commuter rail service between Everett and Seattle, Wash., and between Tacoma and Lakewood, Wash. The Sound Transit Board approved eight agreements for extending Sounder service. Sound Transit will pay BNSF $258-million over four years for easements to operate trains on the segment between Seattle and Everett, and $32-million to purchase the Tacoma-to-Nisqually section of track. In the north, Sound Transit will eventually run four round-trips a day from Everett to Seattle, with future trains to be implemented over time. [BNSF Today, 12-18-03]

CPR LAUNCHES MID-TRAIN REMOTE CONTROL LOCOMOTIVES: Canadian Pacific Railway recently began moving intermodal trains with mid-train remote-control locomotives - the first Canadian railroad to use the technology, according to a prepared statement. The remote-control units enable CPR to operate longer intermodal trains in winter. Previously, the Class I shortened trains because cold temperatures tend to reduce air pressure. Since 1995, CPR has readied all new mainline locomotives to operate in leading or remote-control configuration. A remote-control position locomotive is designed to distribute traction - similar to an all-wheel-drive sports utility vehicle - and increase air pressure to ensure sufficient braking power along a train's length in freezing temperatures. [, 12-18-03]

GOVERNMENT CONSULTANT PRAISES BC RAIL SALE: The recent sale of BC Rail's freight service to Canadian National Railway was a fair deal for British Columbia that improves competiveness of B.C. industries, according to a government-commssioned report that was released December 17. The report by Charles River Associates - a Boston, Massachusetts-based consulting group - was commissioned by the provincial government to evaluate the fairness of the bidding process for the crown-owned railway, and to determine if B.C. received good value. In both cases, the consultant said the answer is yes. The consultant said that B.C. will forfeit between $6.4-million and $7-million of future tax revenue as a result of the transaction, but concluded that the province did well compared to other recent railway sales. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-18-03, from article on the Vancouver Sun website] MORE

FRA ISSUES RULE ON SILENCING TRAIN HORNS: The Federal Railroad Administration announced December 17 publication of a rule to allow local communities to quiet train horns at some 150,000 railroad crossings nationwide if important safety requirements are met. The agency's "Interim Final Rule" describes specific standards local decision-makers can use to silence locomotive horns, while improving safety at public highway-rail grade crossings, and allowing many communities with existing whistle bans to maintain those prohibitions.

UNIONS DIFFER, BATTLE IT OUT OVER ISSUE OF REMOTE CONTROL: On December 11, the United Transportation Union issued an article to its members by National Legislative Director James Brunkenhoefer entitled 'UTU Leading Way on Remote Control Safety.' The UTU represents conductors and switchmen who perform yard switching functions where remote control devices are employed. "Rather than stand in the street protesting, which is like spitting in the wind, your UTU has been working with Congress and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to ensure RCL is examined scientifically to ensure its safety," the article says. Referring to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, which opposes use of the device, the article continues: "The other organization only protests. It has accomplished absolutely nothing except convince fewer than 50 of the more than 40,000 communities nationwide to enact a symbolic ban against remote control. Those actions are symbolic because local communities, by law, may not interfere in the regulation of railroad safety where the FRA has and uses that authority." In response to the UTU article, Raymond Holmes, vice president & U.S. national legislative representative for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, on December 12 issued an article entitled 'Opinion, Death by Friendly Fire' fiercely attacking the UTU. "The latest attack by the UTU leadership against the BLE's efforts to bring safe remote control operations to our industry is filled with the usual baloney about what a great job the UTU is doing in looking out for the safety of its members..." MORE

RICHMOND'S MAIN STREET STATION RENOVATION CELEBRATED: Samuel H. Pryor stood on the sidewalk outside Main Street Station on December 16 and gazed up at the restored downtown landmark. "Beautiful, beautiful," the 66-year-old longtime Richmonder said. "They did a great job. I'm so glad they brought [rail service] back downtown." After years of planning and work, the station that survived floods, fires and even conversion into a discount mall reopens for passenger service today [December 17]. The first Amtrak train is scheduled to depart at 10:37 a.m. on its way from Washington to Newport News. Yesterday [December 16], about 300 officials, train enthusiasts and others gathered at the 102-year-old station to celebrate the first phase of a $51.6-million renovation. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-17-03, from story by Will Jones and Chip Jones on Richmond Times-Dispatch website]

NORTH DAKOTA GRAIN DEALERS HEAD TO WASHINGTON: North Dakota Governor John Hoeven and Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark are bringing North Dakota grain elevator operators to Washington to push for reform of railroad service for North Dakota. The Hoeven delegation will meet today with Chairman Roger Nober of the Surface Transportation Board and Bill Hawks, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "We're in Washington this week to drive home the fact to policy-makers and regulators that railroad rates and shipping practices are just unacceptable," Hoeven said. "A lack of competition has enabled the railroads to take unfair advantage of the industry." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-17-03, from report on Grand Forks Herald website] MORE

CSX LOSES LAWSUIT OVER FOUR BRIDGES: Delaware can require CSX to repair four deteriorating bridges that cross over its tracks, under a federal judge's ruling. U.S. District Judge Kent A. Jordan threw out a lawsuit filed in July by CSX Transportation against the Delaware Department of Transportation and the city of Wilmington, but he ruled in a way that would allow CSX to revive the case with a new argument. Jordan rejected the railroad's contention that Delaware's possible participation in a federal aid program for highway-railway crossings would prohibit the state from imposing repair requirements on the railroad. He ruled that Delaware would forfeit its authority to require repairs only in cases where the state has sought and accepted federal money for specific repairs. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-16-03, from article by Marty Allen on News Journal website]

BLE MEMBERS RATIFY NATIONAL CONTRACT: By a 62 percent majority, BLE members have approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the nation's railroads. An alternative compensation package was also ratified by a 60 percent majority of members who work for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The national agreement covers work rules and health & welfare. It includes general wage increases, a lump sum retroactive payment, and will, for the first time, provide short-term disability insurance starting in July 2004 for those covered. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-16-03]

GRAIN RATES TO INCREASE - BNSF TO CHARGE $100 MORE PER CAR: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the Montana's primary rail shipper, has announced plans to raise grain shipping rates, a decision Montana agriculture officials say will hurt farmers and the economy. Agriculture Director Ralph Peck said Monday [Dec.15] the move would raise shipping costs an average of 6 cents a bushel in the state. "Any way you look at it, it's not good for Montana," he said. "I believe BN saw another way to improve their bottom line at the expense of Montanans." Gus Melonas, a BNSF spokesman, disagreed, saying the railroad considers itself a partner with the industry. "Grain traffic demand has increased dramatically this year, and current rates do not reflect current market conditions," he said. He said rates also are going up in North Dakota. Melonas said BNSF has made a series of temporary rate reductions on wheat moving from Montana to the Pacific Northwest and California in recent years, with the reductions resulting in savings of up to $300 a car. The current reduction will expire Dec. 31, he said. "BNSF has chosen to modify its base rates to limit any effective increase to a maximum of $100 per car," he said. Since August, he said, the railroad has added locomotives to the grain service and added to its grain car fleet. This year, BNSF has hired personnel, he said, and made improvements along the grain market corridor, with a goal of improving customer service. Rates with 110-car shuttle elevators are negotiated, state agriculture officials said, and the existing rates will be in place until the contracts are up. Jim Christianson, executive vice president of the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, said BNSF's planned increase underscores the need for rail competition in the state. "That's the number one problem in Montana ever since God made dirt," he said. Gov. Judy Martz said she planned to follow up on the rate decision with BNSF officials. "Agriculture is Montana's number one industry and the ability to ship agriculture products to markets at competitive prices is critical," she said. "And, very simply, this is a fairness issue." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-16-03, from report by Associated Press] MORE

RAIL WATCHDOG CONCERNED ABOUT GROWING TRAFFIC: A U.S. government transportation watchdog warned on Monday [December 15] of increasing congestion on the nation's rail networks, saying some routes cannot safely support growing passenger and freight demand, according to this Reuters report. "Despite railroads' investments, certain parts of the railroad system have become severely congested and cannot accommodate the conflicting demands of both increasing freight movement and increasing commuter and (Amtrak) traffic," said Kenneth Mead, the Transportation Department inspector general. Rail traffic has increased 64 percent since 1980 with strong growth forecast through 2020, according to a freight and passenger industry audit by Mead. More traffic combined with a steady decline in track miles and reductions in railroad staff to save money aggravates already crowded conditions, industry officials said. The audit found that problems are magnified by numerous infrastructure bottlenecks, including undersized bridges and tunnels, track design limits and outmoded communications systems. In Chicago, industry and government are working on a plan to untangle acute congestion around that city. Texas and California also have crowded routes, industry officials said. Amtrak, the nation's only city-to-city passenger rail service, plans to spend more than $460-million on capital projects during the current fiscal year. Priorities include bridge and tunnel upgrades on its Northeast Corridor system. But Amtrak runs 70 percent of its operations on tracks owned and maintained by freight railroads. Amtrak offers these companies millions of dollars annually to ensure passenger trains can meet their schedules. But Mead said two freight companies in fiscal 2002 passed up a combined $37-million in Amtrak incentive payments, telling auditors it was not worth the cost of altering their operations to accommodate passenger trains. Cliff Black, an Amtrak spokesman, said freight rail reluctance to take Amtrak incentives was not a "nefarious plan" to disrupt passenger service. "It's an endemic problem that resides in the railroads themselves. They have difficulty getting their own trains over the road," Black said. Gary Sease, a spokesman for freight rail giant CSX Corp. , acknowledged the problem managing tracks for its commuter rail customers, especially in Maryland and Virginia. "It's a constant challenge to give those commuter agencies the level of performance they demand and at the same time meet the needs of our freight network," Sease said. Mead recommended that regulators review CSX's program for replacing gravel ballast that helps stabilize ties and rails. But Sease challenged that maintenance criticism, saying if it was inadequate there would be more safety incidents caused by track problems. "Our track-caused derailments are among the lowest in the industry," Sease said. [United Transportation Union, 12-15-03, from report by Reuters]

HOUSING TO RISE ON FORMER CSX CHICAGO YARD: A Chicago-based developer plans to spend about $500-million to develop one of the last major vacant downtown sites, an 8-acre abandoned rail yard on the Chicago River just four blocks south of the Sears Tower, according to this report in Crane's Business Journal. D.Z. Realty Services plans to build about 1500 residential units, 100,000 square feet of retail space and an unspecified number of boat slips on the tract known as Franklin Point. DZ has agreed to buy about seven acres from CSX Corporation, and the remaining tract - roughly one acre at the southeast corner - from Chicago's Harris Bankcorp Inc. [CSXT Newsline, 12-15-03, from report by Alby Gallum in Crane's Business Journal]

WHO DECIDES WHERE RAILROAD CROSSINGS ARE LOCATED?: One of the commonly held misconceptions is that railroads decide where and what types of highway crossing signals are installed. In reality, the process is governed by a federal program since crossing signals are defined by the Federal Highway Administration as highway control devices, not railroad signals, according to this Union Pacific article... MORE

U.S. INTERMODAL TRAFFIC SETS RECORD: For the eighth time in the past 10 years, intermodal traffic on U.S. railroads has set an annual record, the Association of American Railroads has reported. Intermodal volume for 2003 reached 9,399,690 trailers or containers during the week ending December 6, breaking the annual record of 9,349,630 that was set last year. With three weeks left in 2003, U.S. intermodal volume is expected to exceed 9.8 million units for the year. In addition, carload traffic records showed 15 of 19 commodities registering gains from last year, with coke up 45.2 percent; crushed stone, gravel and sand up 20.4 percent; waste and scrap materials up 18.5 percent; and grain up 18.4 percent. Loadings of metallic ores were off 19.9 percent from last year. [Assn. of American Railroads]

CSX DECIDES 'LAYER 3' STAFF REALIGNMENT: CSX decided December 11 [2003] its 'Layer 3' staffing alignment as part of the restructuring initiative announced November 10. In a letter to employees, Michael Ward, chairman and CEO, said: "I believe these announcements will show a new CSX emerging and the commitment we have to transforming our approach to the business." He continued, "Throughout the Organizational Effectiveness initiative, a number of our colleagues and friends who have contributed years of dedicated service will be leaving CSX." The letter did not specify who may have been affected by the Layer 3 staffing alignment, but according to a news report, about 20 'top-level' managers had been given notice.

CSX BEGINS LAYOFF PROCESS: CSX Corp. confirmed that it laid off about 20 of its top-level managers December 11 as the Jacksonville company began a restructuring process expected to eliminate up to 1,000 non-union jobs, according to this report by Christopher Calnan that appeared in the Times-Union. The layoffs came one month after CSX announced a restructuring plan designed to streamline management. CSX spokesman Adam Hollingsworth said Friday the company started eliminating management positions at the top of its 10 management levels. The restructuring will continue with each level below until the process is complete, which should be during the second quarter of 2004, Hollingsworth said. "This process is a layer-by-layer review of our management structure," he said. "We will be making the next set of internal announcements in four to six weeks." Hollingsworth declined to provide the names of laid-off executives. Meanwhile, Michael Ward, CSX chairman, president and chief executive officer, announced Friday [December 12] the retirement of the third CSX executive in the last three months. In a news release, Ward said 26-year CSX employee Bob Grassi, president and chief executive officer of marine terminal operator CSX World Terminals, is retiring effective December 31. In September, Chief Operating Officer Alan Crown, a 37-year company employee, abruptly retired. Last month, another 37-year company employee, Mike Giftos, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, announced that he plans to retire in March. [United Transportation Union, 12-13-03, from report by Christopher Calnan in Times-Union] MORE

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ISSUES DRAFT ON HARPERS FERRY, WV, DEPOT RESTORATION: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Superintendent Don Campbell has announced that the planning phase of the Harpers Ferry train station restoration is underway with the preparation of a draft Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA includes several alternatives for rehabilitating the station's exterior features and the interior of the building for adaptive reuse. The purpose of the project is to preserve the train station so that it may be used and enjoyed by park visitors and citizens of Harpers Ferry. To accomplish this, the National Park Service plans to protect and maintain the character-defining features of the train station through rehabilitation and restoration and add displays to improve the station's interpretive value. Rehabilitation of the station is needed to preserve the historic resource, improve public safety, maintain a public transportation resource, and to provide opportunities for public education. The 107 year old station is a key historic resource that was acquired by the National Park Service in 2001. The station continues to function as an active passenger rail operation and is an essential part of the transportation system at Harpers Ferry. [National Park Service, 12-12-03] MORE

RAIL YARD DOG RETURNS SAFE AND SOUND: Yardly, the rail-savvy mutt who abruptly disappeared last week after hanging around a railroad maintenance yard at Kearny, N.J., for years, turned up just as inexplicably late Wednesday night (Dec. 10), according to this report by Craig Garretson that appeared in the Jersey Journal. She was exhausted and filthy, but apparently eager to resume her post as the unofficial mascot of NJ Transit's Meadowlands Maintenance Complex. "They called me at about 8:30 last night and told me they found her, and I got right over here and I haven't left since," said Paul Bauer, the machinist who first found the mixed-breed Labrador retriever and Dalmatian about seven years ago, when she was an eight-month-old puppy hanging around the yard. "We brought her to the vet to get her cleaned up and checked out," Bauer, of Jersey City, said. "They took X-rays and gave her some medicine for a little cough, but they said everything looks fine." No one's sure what happened to Yardly, but Bauer suspects someone took her away. In fact, a security guard at the yard said last week that he saw someone pick up a dog near the gate and drive off, but he wasn't sure it was Yardly. "There's no way to know, but I don't think she would've walked away on her own. She eats too good here," he said. "I think somebody took her and then, with all the publicity, let her go. "But I don't think they let her go too close by, because she was absolutely exhausted and absolutely filthy. This dog was pure white and when we found her she was pure black. It took them three baths to get her back to normal." Bauer said the vet thought the dog hadn't had much to eat during the week she was missing. He said the railroad yard workers will be making up the difference. "Oh yeah. Everybody's going to be bringing in a little something extra." [United Tansportation Union, 12-12-03, from report by Craig Garretson in Jersey Journal]

BMWE TO CONTINUE MERGER TALKS WITH TEAMSTERS: Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes' (BMWE) and International Brotherhood of Teamsters' (IBT) merger committees recently scheduled a second planning session for Jan. 13-15 in Washington, DC., to discuss a merger agreement. The committees previously met in Washington Nov. 12 and 13. Similar to Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers' recent merger with IBT - through which BLE became the first rail-labor union to become a division of IBT's U.S. and Canadian rail conferences - BMWE would become an autonomous division of both conferences if the unions merge. But a BMWE/IBT marriage wouldn't completely mirror the BLE/IBT transaction. "We would consider those provisions of the BLE model that made sense for BMWE, [but] we would deviate from the BLE [merger] where it did not meet the needs of the BMWE," said Acting BMWE President Freddie Simpson in the union's Nov./Dec. newsletter. A majority of U.S. and Canadian BMWE members voiced support for an IBT merger in telephone surveys conducted in late September and early October. In the United States, 59 percent of those polled approved the merger, 14 percent were opposed and 26 percent were undecided. In Canada, 35 percent of polled members favored the transaction, 25 percent were against it and 36 percent were undecided. "The membership of BMWE has recognized the need for a strategic merger, and we are following their mandate in our talks with the IBT," said Simpson. [, 12-12-03]

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR EYES CUTS TO TRANSIT PROJECTS: The new administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has proposed canceling state support for $5.4-billion worth of highway and transit projects and shifting $1-billion worth of transportation money to the general fund, imperiling hundreds of projects meant to relieve congestion and improve air quality, according to this report by Sharon Bernstein, Kurt Streeter and Caitlin Liu that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The governor's plan, which had was unveiled publicly Thursday at a meeting of the California Transportation Commission, would kill the ambitious anti-congestion program set up by former Gov. Gray Davis (D) and approved by voters in last year's Proposition 42. The effect could be to delay such projects as the Alameda Corridor East rail line to San Bernardino County and the extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit service to San Jose, and to kill others altogether. This is not the first time that politicians in Sacramento have viewed the plump coffers meant for transportation projects as a giant piggy bank. Davis borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from the same source, and former Gov. Pete Wilson drew so heavily on transportation dollars that he was sued over it. But Schwarzenegger's proposals are even more far-reaching. The governor would withdraw money that has been promised to 141 projects statewide - even if the work has started. Although Proposition 42 was meant to guarantee that the state's revenue from sales tax on gasoline would be used for anti-congestion projects, the measure was written with several loopholes, which the governor's aides say voters knew were there. [United Transportation Union, 12-12-03, from report in Los Angeles Times]

CHARLOTTE AREA TRANSIT SYSTEM PURCHASES N.S. LINE FOR LIGHT-RAIL: Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) recently purchased six miles of right of way from Norfolk Southern Railway for its South Corridor Light Rail Line. The $14.75-million transaction will enable CATS to implement light-rail service from Interstate 485 near Pineville, N.C., to 7th Street in uptown Charlotte, N.C. The agency now has purchased 56 percent of the property needed to build the line. CATS and NS will operate independently on the same corridor. [, 12-12-03]

$106-MILLION COMMUTER RAIL REQUEST SUBMITTED TO GEORGIA GOVERNOR: Work could begin immediately if Governor Sonny Perdue approves a $106-million plan for a long-awaited rail line from Atlanta to Macon. State Transportation Department officials asked Perdue to approve a plan to open a 26-mile commuter rail line from Atlanta to Lovejoy in south Clayton County by mid-2006. Earlier this year, Perdue said he had doubts about the state's stalled commuter rail program. He is expected to decide soon on the latest plan for the Lovejoy route that could open the way for eventually connecting Atlanta to Macon by rail. In a November 12 letter to Perdue, Transportation Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl said the state had $87-million in state and federal funds on hand to buy refurbished trains, upgrade and lay track and build platforms. The state would use an additional $19-million in state roadway funds to build park-and-ride lots and install crossing signals. The state would upgrade track owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad but not buy it outright. The railroad would continue to use the track for freight operations. The commuter rail plan, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the state Open Records Act, includes a scaled-down version of the passenger terminal proposed for downtown Atlanta. There would be two covered platforms, direct access to the Five Points MARTA rail station, and a pedestrian walkway to Philips Arena. The train would stop in East Point, Forest Park, Morrow and Jonesboro and travel at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. The 46-minute trip to Lovejoy would cost $5.60 one way, according to the plan. The department estimates the line would carry 1,800 passengers a day initially and more than 3,000 passengers a day by 2009. The 770,000 trips per year would take enough automobiles off the road to eliminate 3,200 hours of highway delay for motorists, the plan estimates. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-11-03, from report by Associated Press]

CSX TARGETS RAILROAD TRESPASSERS: CSX railroad officials say they are targeting pedestrians who walk along railroad tracks in Charlotte, N.C. The act is not only dangerous; it is a crime. "It is against the law, and they could possibly be prosecuted for being there," said Nelson High, CSX's public safety coordinator. Statistics show that trespassing is a leading cause of railroad fatalities in the United States. Since 1990, more than 5,000 people were killed while trespassing on railroad property. "So many people don't realize the dangers they confront when they do come on railroad property," High said. "Trains are heavy. Trains cannot stop quickly, nor can they swerve to miss anyone." But it is not just the trespassers' safety that CSX is concerned about. They are also worried about the railroad crews who work at night. "There's all kind of glass where (the trespassers) break beer bottles, and also they throw a lot of trash on the ground," Terminal Manager A.T. Little said. In an effort to stop trespassing and littering, CSX is aggressively focusing on certain areas, like the tracks behind the Urban Ministry Center on College Street. Railroad trespassers are subject to an arrest and a fine. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-11-03, from story by Anjanette Flowers on News 14 Charlotte's website]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO EXPAND LOCOMOTIVE FLEET: Norfolk Southern plans to buy 100 new locomotives in 2004. The new six-axle locomotives, the same number purchased last year, will take the company's fleet to about 3,500 engines. The purchase is part of Norfolk Southern's $810-million capital improvement plan for 2004, according to a news report.

CREWS FULLY EXTINGUISH OREGON TRAIN TUNNEL FIRE: Crews have fully extinguished a train tunnel fire in southern Oregon that smoldered for weeks and collapsed a 300-to-400-foot section of the heavily traveled track, according to this Associated Press report. Crews cleared burned wooden supports from the tunnel but didn't declare the fire officially out until Monday [December 8]. Portions would start to smolder as air flowed through the tunnel, said Mark Wohlers, administrative affairs manager for the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad Co. The railroad company planned to remove the burned timbers, replacing them with steel joists. Sections of railroad track also must be repaired because they buckled and expanded during the fire, officials said. An average of two freight trains, mainly carrying timber products, used the tunnel each day before the fire. Tunnel 13 made history on October 11, 1923, when 23-year-old twins Ray and Roy D'Autremont and their teenage brother Hugh attempted to rob a Southern Pacific Railroad train near the tunnel's south entrance. The brothers killed four people but left empty-handed. They were caught in 1927 following a worldwide manhunt. [United Transportation Union, 12-10-03, from report by Associated Press]

$1-BILLION MORE FOR GRAND CENTRAL-PENN STATION LINK: Eight years before its planned completion, the price tag for bringing Long Island Rail Road riders to Grand Central Terminal has increased by $1-billion to $6.3-billion, a top Metropolitan Transportation Authority official said Wednesday [December 10]. But the timetable for the project remains the same, for now: riders coming from Long Island can expect to sail straight to Grand Central in 2011, said Mysore Nagaraja, president of MTA Capital Construction. "Estimating is an art, not a science," he said after an MTA meeting in Manhattan Wednesday. He said an earlier estimate of $5.3-billion, from June of last year, was a "conceptual estimate" based on "optimistic assumptions." Underestimated costs for steel and excavation are possible factors, along with unexpected insurance costs, MTA officials said. But the earlier $5.3-billion cost, as projected by a private firm hired by the MTA, was an increase over the initial $4.3-billion estimate done by the federal Army Corps of Engineers in 1998. Still, Nagaraja said the $6.3-billion price was "not ballooning, and I can stay with that number" until the project is complete in 2011. But Mitchell Pally, vice president for government affairs for the Long Island Association, a business group that wholeheartedly backs the project, said there is more potential for delay. "If any additional funding is necessary, it makes it more difficult to complete it at the date originally envisioned," he said. The proposed Grand Central stop, called the East Side Access project, is designed to be more convenient for Long Islanders commuting to the East Side of Manhattan. Currently, such passengers take the train to Penn Station and then backtrack via the subway. Roughly 100,000 take the train to Penn Station each weekday. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-10-03, from report by Erik Holm and Joshua Robin on Newsday's's website]

FORMER AMTRAK CONDUCTORS GET PROBATION FOR THEFT: Five former Amtrak conductors have been sentenced in federal court to five years on probation and ordered to make restitution totaling nearly $121,000 for pocketing cash from tickets sold on trains. One by one the five appeared before District Court Judge Lawrence E. Kahn, expressing regret, attributing the wrongdoing to such influences as alcoholism, debts, health problems or being led astray by a girlfriend. All worked out of the Albany-Rensselaer station. The federal prosecutor agreed to sentences that avoided prison for the scheme that evolved over five years. The thefts were uncovered during a routine audit. [United Transportation Union, 12-10-03, from story by Carol DeMare in the Albany Times Union]

UNION PACIFIC SWITCHMAN KILLED IN REMOTE CONTROL ACCIDENT: A 37-year-old switchman working in a rail yard in San Antonio, Texas, was killed on December 7. Jody Herstine, a five-year Union Pacific employee, was operating two locomotives using a waist-strapped remote control device at the time of the accident. MORE

RENOVATED RAIL CAR READY TO ROLL: Painted a rich color called 'Oriental blue,' the beautifully restored 1920s-era private railroad car bears the name of its new owner in large golden letters: City of New Orleans. Nearly ready for delivery after a year in the hands of restorer Pete Messina, the parlor-observation car soon will be pulled from Metairie to its new home at 4822 Tchoupitoulas St., the main office of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad. A city-owned nonprofit railroad company, Public Belt bought the car "for entertainment and to promote the city," Messina said. "I think they went all out and got everything they wanted." Public Belt General Manager Jim Bridger said Tuesday [December 9] that he won't disclose details about the rail car until it is christened by Mayor Ray Nagin. The car may be included in official ceremonies surrounding the bicentennial celebration of the Louisiana Purchase on December 20, and community groups likely will use it for fund-raising events, Messina said. Passengers will enter the car's main room through a beveled-glass platform door, etched with the Public Belt Railroad's logo. Fleur-de-lis-patterned carpet is topped with 20 swivel club chairs. Brass and crystal light fixtures line the stenciled walls and ceiling. At the far end of the room is a granite and mahogany bar. Out of circulation for more than 30 years, the car had to be gutted and half its roof replaced, Messina said. "It was stripped down completely, including every bit of paint." The parlor-observation car was built in 1927 and was air-conditioned in 1934 by packing bunkers underneath the car with two tons of ice, said Messina, who has been restoring rail cars full time since 1988. Along with modern air conditioning, the car has a lavatory, with fleurs-de-lis etched into the stone floor, a "prep room" with a microwave and a warming oven to handle catered food, and a refrigerator big enough to hold 300 bottles of beer. The lights can be dimmed, and music plays from stereo speakers. Period-style fans are placed high on walls stenciled with gold leaf and covered halfway up with mahogany paneling. The windows are covered by mahogany blinds. Sandwiched between the windows and the paneling are granite shelves to hold glassware embossed with the railroad logo. The chairs are upholstered in red and were fitted with protective canvas slipcovers, also embossed with the railroad logo. The car has no sleeping quarters but can be pulled in tandem with a sleeper car, Messina said. After it is upgraded to pass Amtrak approval, it could be taken on long trips, perhaps to Washington, D.C., for the annual Mardi Gras ball sponsored by Louisiana lawmakers, Messina said. Messina said he hopes the citizens of New Orleans will be as proud of the railroad car as he and his fellow restorers and decorators are after their year-long effort to preserve it. His next renovation job is a Kansas City Southern baggage car, Messina said. "Nothing classy like this." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-10-03, from story by Lynne Jensen appeared on the Times Picayune website]

ALBERTA LOOKING TO ALASKA FOR POSSIBLE RAIL LINK: The Alberta provincial government says it is willing to explore the potential of a railway link that heads north to Alaska. Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski recently told a business luncheon in the Yukon that getting the North American railway grid from northern Alberta and British Columbia through the Yukon to link up with the Alaska Railway would stimulate resource development in the North. Murkowski told the audience that the North is the continent's breadbasket, with potential for more development of resources, including minerals, timber, fish, oil and gas. Having a main rail-link anchor - which he described as a transportation corridor - would promote resource development, stimulate economic growth and improve the quality of life for northern residents. "We would like to encourage that type of development because we think that type of venue would be attractive," Murkowski said. Alberta Tory cabinet ministers Mark Norris and Ed Stelmach say the province is keen to hear further details of Murkowski's idea. "We definitely will be interested," said Stelmach, the transportation minister. "As we push farther north to develop our resources, we have to find a balance between how much we can do in terms of building roads up north and how much freight and people we can move by rail. "Roads are quite costly. They're all borne by the taxpayers -- we're looking at some cost-efficiencies of using rail." Norris, the economic development minister, said the Conservative government is already trying to develop a strategy to increase railway access into the North, so Murkowski's notion would fit right in. "I think it's a great idea," said Norris. "I think there's a couple of bridges that need to be built, but overall it would be wonderful for northern development. But Norris said talk of establishing a high-speed train from Alaska to Alberta may be a bit premature. "I know every time high-speed rail is mentioned, the costs are very, very prohibitive and you have to have a real big market for it," he said. [United Transportation Union, 12-10-03, from story by Jerry Ward in the Edmonton Sun]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNOUNCES 2004 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS: Norfolk Southern Corp. expects to spend about 1.5 percent more on capital improvements in 2004 compared with 2003. On December 10, the railroad announced a 2004 capital spending budget of $810-million compared with $798-million in 2003, $705-million in 2002 and $806-million in 2001. The 2004 budget includes $517-million for roadway projects and $258-million for equipment. Roadway spending targets $384-million for rail, tie, ballast and bridge programs; $29-million for communications, signal and electrical projects; $19-million for maintenance-of-way equipment; and $16-million for environmental projects and public improvements, such as grade-crossing separations and crossing-signal upgrades. The equipment budget includes $178-million to purchase 100 six-axle locomotives, upgrade existing power, certify and rebuild 390 multi-level automobile racks, and purchase 212 bi-level racks once leases expire. The budget also includes $42-million for information-technology projects. Under business and industrial-development initiatives, NS plans to spend $64-million to increase track capacity and access to coal receivers, bulk transfer facilities, and vehicle production and distribution facilities; improve terminals and add intermodal equipment; and provide additional investments for subsidiaries Triple Crown Services and TransWorks. [, 12-10-03]

BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS TO MERGE WITH TEAMSTERS: Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers have approved a merger with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, to become effective January 1. BLE becomes the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), a division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Rail Conference.

GE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS TO BECOME UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION UNIT: General Electric Co. is reorganizing all its business units - including land, air and water transportation divisions - to better serve customers. On January 1, the company plans to merge GE Transportation Systems (GETS) and GE Aircraft Engines to create umbrella organization GE Transportation. GETS would be renamed GE Rail and become a GE Transportation unit that also would include GE Transportation Systems-Global Signaling. "The idea is to make our company more understandable to the customers we serve and simplify how our internal business is structured," says GETS spokesman Patrick Jarvis. "We'll [also] be more efficient in creating best practices and other [business] practices because now we might have a best practice in one unit but not in another." GETS President and Chief Executive Officer Charlene Begley will continue to serve as head of GE Rail. The reorganization isn't expected to affect workers or operations at GETS' Erie, Pa., locomotive plant. [, 12-9-03]

INDIANA R.R. CONTINUES TO CUT COAL TRAIN CYCLE TIMES: During the past six months, the Indiana Rail Road Co. (IRR) has reduced unit coal train cycle times about 20 percent. But the 155-mile short line is trying to cut cycle times even more to please two shippers that move more than 8 million tons of coal annually, according to IRR's fall newsletter. Every Monday morning, IRR officials review the performance of every train movement the previous week to identify successes and determine remedies to problems. [, 12-9-03]

CANADA NEEDS TO CONSIDER MOUNTING CAPACITY CRUNCH, CPR CHIEF SAYS: Canada needs a long-term strategy to address transportation capacity constraints, said Canadian Pacific Railway President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Ritchie during a December 5 speech at the Toronto Railway Club. Ritchie called on federal, provincial and civic leaders to develop a "new, collective vision" for an efficient, integrated and sustainable transportation infrastructure designed to support Canada's economy. He also suggested leaders build a seamless transportation network encompassing ports, highways, and freight and commuter railroads. "A strong Canadian rail industry is part of the solution to many large policy issues, such as the quality of life in urban centers, and border security and efficiency," he said. Railroads need to maximize their ability to reinvest in infrastructure to accommodate future growth, requiring changes to regulations, taxation and public policy. Canada's rail system is being constrained by "punitive" taxation and "outdated" regulation, Ritchie said. Canada also should make more public investments in the nation's rail infrastructure through public-private partnerships, he believes. "We would improve the efficiency of the trucking industry, and solve some of the traffic congestion and pollution problems in Montreal and Toronto," said Ritchie. "We [also] would provide VIA Rail an opportunity to expand high-speed intercity passenger-rail service." [, 12-8-03]

CN, B.C. RAIL SEEK TOURIST-TRAIN OPERATOR: Canadian National Railway Co. and BC Rail Ltd. currently are accepting proposals from a third party interested in operating tourist trains on BC Rail's line between North Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia, and CN's line between Prince Rupert, Prince George and Jasper, Alberta. The request for proposal (RFP) is part of CN's recent agreement with the British Columbia government to acquire BC Rail's outstanding shares and operate over the 1,400-mile regional's roadbed under a long-term lease. The tourist trains are expected to generate significant economic activity in the area, according to a prepared statement. Parties interested in submitting a proposal should notify InterVISTAS Consulting Inc. - which is managing the RFP process - in writing by December 16. CN and BC Rail will assess proposals based on certain criteria, such as new economic development in communities along the line, improved rail access to the 2010 Olympic facilities in Whistler, B.C., and the creation of railway and associated jobs to prepare and operate new train service. [, 12-8-03]

RAILROADS ADD CREWS, CARS TO BATTLE GRAIN DELAYS: Railroad executives said on December 8 that railroads are accelerating efforts to add new equipment and employees in the face of transportation delays plaguing the nation's grain markets, but the problems are not expected to abate any time soon, according to this Reuters report. "January and February are typically high demand we think we're going to be right up against it from a grain standpoint," said William Eilbracht, general director of logistics for Union Pacific Corp, which operates the largest U.S. railroad and runs more than 23,000 grain hoppers throughout the country. "We're continuing to add more crews and locomotives to our base, which will help," he said. Bumper U.S. wheat and corn crops this year and strong export demand for U.S. grain has met with a shortage of grain hopper cars and crews, leading to shipment delays of a month or more in many parts of the country. The delays have led to price increases for rail cars and caused a spike in the premiums paid for wheat, corn and soybean deliveries. State and federal officials have said problems are creating economic hardships for the nation's grain elevators and farmers. In an effort to explain their strategies for overcoming the delays, rail representatives spoke Monday [December 8] in Kansas City at the National Grain and Feed Association's country elevator council. Union Pacific has recently added 1,000 employees and plans to bring on another 2,200 next year. It also has brought on 46 new locomotives recently that were not scheduled to be added to the fleet until 2004, Eilbracht said. The additions, coupled with an expected seasonal slow-down in nonagricultural shipments at the first of the year, should help get things back on track by the end of the first quarter, he said. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. , another major U.S. carrier, has added more than 2,200 hopper cars to its grain fleet and 232 locomotives since August. Kansas City Southern Railway, which operates about 3,500 hoppers, is also running behind, about 10 days, said market manager Betsy Graverson. And Canadian National Railway, which has about 3,400 cars running grain in the U.S., is currently about 1,800 cars behind schedule after seeing demand soar more than four times last year's volume, said Stephen Gehrt, the railroad's director of U.S. grain and fertilizer. The company is bringing an additional 1,100 cars on line in 2004 and is also adding crews. But he said, the railroad will continue to struggle to meet commitments likely through March. "It's going to be a continuing struggle," said Gehrt. [United Transportation Union, 12-8-03, from Reuters report] MORE

GREAT CANADIAN RAILTOUR PROPOSES NEW ROUTE, LOCOMOTIVE: Great Canadian Railtour Co. (GCRC) - which owns and operates Rocky Mountaineer Railtours - recently unveiled a prototype diesel multiple unit (DMU) locomotive that would run on a new route between North Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia. The DMU is an ideal option for the curvy route because of its power and ability to accelerate out of turns; the route could be covered in three to four hours less time compared with a traditional locomotive, according to a prepared statement. Part of the proposed new service (Whistler Mountaineer) would run between North Vancouver and Whistler; an additional Rocky Mountaineer service also would be added from Whistler, using Prince George as an overnight stop and extending Rocky Mountaineer service along BC Rail Ltd.'s and Canadian National Co.'s routes to Jasper, Alberta. GCRC plans soon to issue a request for proposals for passenger-rail service on the route. As part of a long-term strategy to develop tourism initiatives in British Columbia, GCRC also will operate 35 train excursions from Prince Rupert in 2004 to support a cruise ship program. [, 12-5-03]

STRIKING AMTRAK WORKERS AT BEECH GROVE ORDERED BACK TO WORK: Federal District Judge Larry McKinney on Friday, Dec. 5, ordered striking Amtrak employees here back to work and to begin expedited arbitration in their dispute over outside contract workers, reported the Indianapolis Star. About 600 employees at the Beech Grove maintenance facility stayed away from work beginning Wednesday [December 3] after the Transport Workers Union and Brotherhood of maintenance of Way Employes complained that the railroad violated their bargaining agreement by hiring contractors without first notifying them or meeting to discuss the matter. The contractors were to repair track and cars. The 11 other unions at the site refused to cross the picket lines. Both striking unions contended Amtrak should have drawn from the roughly 70 furloughed workers before hiring contractors. However, Amtrak contended hiring the contractors did not result in additional workers being furloughed and the unions didn't follow proper internal procedure to settle the protest. Union officials could not be reached for comment. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said, "The judge ruled that there was no legal reason for the employees to strike, which has been precisely Amtrak's position from the beginning." Magliari added that employees will not be paid for their three days on strike unless they had scheduled vacation or personal leave time for the three days. However, the strike period will not be counted as absenteeism, he said. Amtrak said the dispute has not disrupted train traffic. [United Transportation Union, 12-5-03, from report published by Indianapolis Star]

FLORIDA GOVERNOR BLASTS BULLET TRAIN COSTS: Determined to derail the costly voter-mandated bullet train next year, Gov. Jeb Bush (R) sent Florida lawmakers a lengthy letter Thursday [December 4] asking them to help save taxpayers billions of dollars. ``The high-speed rail project is not a sound investment for Florida's future,'' Bush said in his written pitch to enlist legislative support for repealing the constitutional mandate to build a high-speed rail system in Florida. In 2000, Florida voters ignored Bush's public opposition to the project and approved the amendment, the first phase of which includes a passenger rail link between Tampa and Orlando. The Florida High Speed Rail Authority agreed in October to hire Fluor-Bombardier, a partnership of California and Canadian companies to build the system. Although they haven't successfully put the constitutional amendment authorizing the train back on the ballot, Bush and other lawmakers have delayed it numerous times. Last spring, three years after voter approval, the Legislature finally allocated money to the project, only to see Bush gut the $7.2-million earmarked for construction. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-5-03, from Tampa Tribune website]

AMTRAK UNIONS STRIKE AT BEECH GROVE: Two unions upset by the use of outside contractors went on strike this morning [December 3] at Amtrak's Beech Grove maintenance shops. Union leaders claimed all 540 workers at the shops were honoring the picket lines that went up at 6 a.m. Contractors are being used to repair passenger cars and perform track maintenance, union leaders said. Amtrak should call back laid-off union workers to do those jobs, they add. On Monday [December 1], a contractor brought in 18 workers to remove mold in passenger cars, said Bill Keglar, president of the Transport Workers Union, Local 203. The contract workers are not using protective masks and other safety equipment, Keglar charged. Another private contractor brought in five workers to maintain train tracks at the shops, said Mike Flowers, assistant general chairman of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes. That's the job of the 20 members in his union, Flowers said. "It's called slapping us in the face," Flowers said. Under federal law, the railroad can get a court order ending the strike after one day. But since the strike at the maintenance yard is not affecting freight or passenger traffic, the job action could go on longer, Flowers said. Amtrak officials in Beech Grove referred all questions to the railroad offices in Chicago. Each week, workers at the Beech Grove yard overhaul a diesel locomotive and refurbish 17 train cars. Workers earning $16- to $20-an-hour labor in turn-of-the-century buildings on a 106-acre site. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-3-03, from Indianapolis Star website]

FRA FINDS MIXED VIEWS ON REMOTE CONTROL: Federal Railroad Administrator Allan Rutter says that in its ongoing monitoring of locomotive remote control operations, FRA has found "much to praise and several areas of concern that we have brought forward for action," according to this report. In remarks prepared for the 22nd meeting of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee in Washington on December 2, Rutter noted that the Senate Commerce Committee had asked FRA to perform an audit on remote control operations, with initial findings in six months and a final report in 18 months. "The scale and variety of these operations has grown to the point that a more formal review and report should be helpful to us in assessing the need for additional enforcement or regulatory actions," said Rutter. He encouraged railroads "to take a good look at their programs and consistency of implementation." He also said FRA was seeking input from affected labor organizations: "Recently we circulated to the United Transportation Union and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers a simple, user-friendly form for railroad employees to notify us about accidents and incidents related to remote control operations." [United Transportation Union, 12-3-03, from]

SENATOR CALLS FOR REVIEW OF GRAIN RAIL SHIPPING DELAYS: The federal government should investigate railroad shipping delays at grain elevators that hurt prices for farmers and consumers, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., says. Some elevators have to turn away farmers looking to sell grain because of shipping delays that can last several weeks, Johnson said Wednesday [December 3]. "The current situation is unacceptable to grain shippers and agricultural producers," Johnson said in a letter to Ann Veneman, the Agriculture Secretary, and to Richard Nober, chairman of the federal Surface Transportation Board. "Unless steps are taken to break the logjam, United States farmers will face increased transportation costs and reduced marketing opportunities which can be crippling to a farm economy trying to recover from lingering drought conditions," he said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-3-03, from Associated Press report] MORE

U.S. PROVIDES FUNDS TO RESTORE TRANSIT IN LOWER MANHATTAN: The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced plans December 3 to provide $2.85-billion as a first down payment to restore public transportation in lower Manhattan that was destroyed Sept. 11, 2001. Funds include a $1.7-billion grant for the permanent World Trade Center Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) Terminal. Located underneath the World Trade Center site, the terminal will serve the PATH subway system, and provide pedestrian connections to the Fulton Street Transit Center, World Financial Center and World Financial Center Ferry Terminal. Prior to Sept. 11, the terminal served more than 130,000 commuter trips daily. USDOT also provided a $750-million grant will be used to rehabilitate the Fulton Street Transit Center, a multi-level underground complex of stations to serve 12 subway lines and more than 275,000 commuter trips daily. Finally, a $400-million grant will help fund renovations to the South Ferry Subway Terminal. The single-track, five-car station will be rehabilitated to include a three-track, 10-car, two-platform terminal adjacent to the Staten Island ferry. Since fall 2002, the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been working with New York Gov. George Pataki, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a transportation working group assembled by the governor to identify and prioritize major transportation capital investment projects to be implemented with the available funding. [, 12-3-03]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RELOCATES MANASSAS, VA, CREW-CHANGE CENTER: Last month, Norfolk Southern Railway opened a new crew-change center near Manassas, Va., designed to improve emergency vehicle access, reduce downtown traffic congestion, improve safety and speed freight on a core intermodal route. Crews changes previously were conducted at a small downtown yard, creating traffic delays at congested crossings. Now, trains move through the city without stopping and motorist delays have been reduced to between one and two minutes. Virginia's departments of transportation, and rail and transportation conducted a "Railroad Realignment Study" in March 1992 that determined a need for the crew-change center. The study also recommended that NS realign curved track at Wellington Road and install double track to speed freight through the city. Now, all three projects have been completed. "These projects represent an important commitment by all of us to improve the community's quality of life while recognizing the need for smooth freight-rail operations," said NS Piedmont Division Superintendent Charlie Rickman in the Class I's December newsletter. [, 12-3-03]

RAIL CORRIDOR PROPOSED FOR WYOMING: The president of a Riverton, Wyoming, company says a rail corridor between the Green River Basin and Shoshoni would spur development of untapped resources, according to the Associated Press. Marty Manasco, president of WyoTrans Inc., said such a corridor could also be used for power lines, gas pipelines, fiber optic lines and even to ship water produced from coalbed methane drilling to the Southwest. He said the lack of competitive rail shipping has prevented the development of significant deposits of natural resources and added-value manufacturing due to the high cost of getting products to market. Manasco, a 16-year veteran with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, recently worked on the Wyoming Transportation Group's Tri-Basin Rail Project, a proposed 203-mile rail line from Sweetwater County to Shoshoni. The project was a joint venture between the BNSF and Green River Basin trona producers. "We spent $5-million on engineering, surveying and other investigations and determined that such a line could be built," he told the Riverton Economic and Community Development Association on Tuesday [December 2]. The line was not built, however, because producers won a concession from Union Pacific Railroad and dropped the project. Manasco said the failure of the Tri-Basin Rail project is a temporary setback. He said he formed WyoTrans Inc. and set up shop in Riverton this past month to continue to promote the idea. "We have a window of opportunity that will only last for several years because BNSF is now looking at divesting its Casper Division, the rail line from Laurel, Montana, to Morrill, Nebebrask," he said. Manasco said that if the BNSF main line, which now runs through Big Horn Basin and to Central Wyoming through Wind River Canyon and Fremont County, could be obtained and new partners found to build the Sweetwater County to Shoshoni rail land, it would help the state's economy. He pointed out that it costs $10 per ton to ship coal from the Powder River Basin, but $55 a ton to ship fertilizer from Rock Springs and $35 a ton to ship refined soda ash from the Green River Basin. He said rail competition could stimulate mineral development on the Wind River Indian Reservation, which has deposits for gypsum, phosphate and bentonite. [United Transportation Union, 12-3-03, from Associated Press]

UNIONS CALL FOR AUDIT OF B.C. RAIL SALE: Rail unions want the auditor general to investigate the government's sale of the provincially owned railway to CN, according to the Vancouver Sun. The Council of Trade Unions for the railway says an independent review is needed because of claims by other bidders that the sale process was unfair. In a letter to Auditor General Wayne Strelioff, the council says CP Rail and Omni-Trax Burlington Northern Sante Fe both complained that the process favoured CN. Council chair Bob Sharpe says an audit is also needed because the government refuses to release details of the contracts with CN. He also notes that CN is a major contributor to the Liberal party, and that secret information about B.C. Rail was leaked while bidding was still open. Last week, the government announced a billion-dollar deal in which CN will have a 60-year lease on B.C. Rail lines and equipment. The deal will result in the loss of at least 430 jobs, which the Liberals say will be offset by investments in affected northern B.C. communities. [United Transportation Union, 12-2-03, from iem in Vancouver Sun] MORE

UNION PACIFIC TO ABANDON LINE IN YUBA CITY, CALIFORNIA: The Union Pacific railroad is planning on abandoning and removing its Yuba City track after a major cannery customer stopped using it. The rails that run along Bridge Street were once part of a rail line that used electric interurbans to provide a key source of transportation in a time when few people owned cars. The Sacramento Northern Railway ran people and freight from Chico, its northernmost point, to Marysville and Yuba City, all the way down to Sacramento and Oakland. A spur served towns west of Yuba City, ending in Colusa. Built in 1905 to 1906 by the Northern Electric Railway to replace mule-drawn streetcars, the line from Chico through Live Oak was the Sacramento Northern's main line to Sacramento. The Sacramento Northern took it over in 1918, running passenger trains until 1941. The railroad changed hands more than once, becoming a subsidiary of the Western Pacific in 1925. The Union Pacific Railroad acquired the Western Pacific in 1982. It was in 1918 that the Sacramento Northern combined the Oakland, Antioch & Eastern and the Northern Electric railways, providing passenger travel all the way from Chico to the Bay area. While overhead wires were used through Marysville and Yuba City, most of the line was powered by a third rail. The Sacramento Northern ended passenger service between Chico and San Francisco - running through Marysville and Yuba City - in 1940. Street cars continued to run between Marysville and Yuba City until they were replaced by buses in 1942. The last electric freight operations in California took place in the Twin Cities in 1965. After that, diesel locomotives were used to pull the trains. [United Transportation Union, 12-2-03, from article in Yuba City Appeal-Democrat]

FIRMS SEEK RAIL RIGHTS TO PRINCE GEORGE, B.C.: Two Vancouver-based rail companies say they will officially enter the bidding to operate new rail services from Vancouver to Whistler and Prince George now that CN Rail has bought BC Rail, according to this report by Bruce Constantineau that appeared in the Vancouver Sun. Officials from Great Canadian Railtour Company, operators of Rocky Mountaineer Railtours, and Whistler Rail Tours have confirmed their keen interest in acquiring track access rights from CN Rail to run new tourism and passenger rail services. There is a February. 2, 2004, deadline to respond to a request for proposals to operate a third-party rail service on the BC Rail line and a final decision is expected by February 16. BC Rail shut down its tourism and passenger rail services last year because the operations lost money. The closures involved the Pacific Starlight Dinner Train and Whistler Northwind tourism operations and the Cariboo Prospector, a passenger rail service that lost an estimated $5-million [CDN] in its last year. But Whistler Rail Tours chief executive officer John Haibeck said he's convinced his company can operate a combined tourism and year-round passenger rail service for a profit. "We have researched it and done our homework and we can make it work financially," he said. "We will have equipment that allows economies of scale and we'll have different fare structures." Haibeck said his company will also benefit from lower labour costs and newer, more reliable passenger rail equipment. Whistler Rail Tours would provide the rail cars for its $25-million proposal while Via Rail would operate and maintain the service. Haibeck said communities from Vancouver to Prince George are keen to have a year-round passenger rail service and not just a "cruise ship on wheels" that comes through on a seasonal basis. "They have no objection to that, but they also want a year-round passenger service," he said. "It's vital for them, especially in the winter." Great Canadian Railtour president Peter Armstrong recently said a passenger rail service along the line was not viable, but company executive vice-president James Terry said Friday nothing is being ruled out. "We are finding opportunities might exist on this line that far exceed anything we contemplated before," said Terry. "At this moment, we are examining every angle we can. We're really keen to make sure this is a win for everyone." Great Canadian Railtour and Whistler Rail Tours both propose to use new self-propelled Diesel Motorized Unit railcars built by Colorado Railcar Manufacturing. Terry said the units cost between $3-million to $4-million and are capable of pulling two other cars along the rail line. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-03, from report by Bruce Constantineau in the Vancouver Sun]

HIGH POINT, N.C., STATION DEDICATED: The historic High Point train station was dedicated November 21, 2003. High Point Mayor Arnold Koonce, with local, state and federal officials, dedicated the $6.8-million project. The building was completely renovated. The main room will now serve as the Amtrak waiting room, accommodating up to 40 passengers. The former baggage room will be available for meetings and other functions. High Point is served by six Amtrak trains. The rail line is in a cut in the center of downtown. With the renovation, the elevator is now located so that the passengers go down to the platform, which serves both main tracks. [Piedmont Flyer, 1-04]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNOUNCES SENIOR-LEVEL CHANGES: Norfolk Southern Corporation (NS) announced on December 1 a series of senior-level executive and organizational changes following completion of its voluntary separation program for non-agreement employees, according to this release issued by the company. The changes also reflect efficiencies realized from the company's continuing activity value analysis, said David R. Goode, NS chairman, president and chief executive officer. MORE

PENNSYLVANIA SHORT LINE TO LEASE, OPERATE CSXT TRACK: CSX Transportation has reached an agreement with Allegheny Valley Railroad Co. (AVR) under which the short line will lease and operate several Pennsylvania rail segments and acquire some trackage rights. AVR will lease and operate 33.1 track miles between Glenwood Junction and Washington; 13.2 track miles between Glenshaw and East Schenley; and a portion of track in CSXT's Glenwood Yard. The short line also will acquire trackage rights to a 1.9-mile East Schenley-to-Field line to provide service to the line's customers and connect the leased segment ending at East Schenley with the segment beginning in Field. CSXT and AVR have filed an exemption notice with Surface Transportation Board, which recently approved the transaction. [, 12-1-03]

RAILROAD LOGJAMS THREATEN BOOM IN THE FARM BELT: In a harbinger of potential snags across the U.S. economy, a sudden boom in the farm sector has combined with shortages of railcars and crews to delay freight trains and lead to higher delivery costs for farmers across the country, Monday's Wall Street Journal reported. The demand for grain-hauling equipment is hot because the Farm Belt is humming after five years of recession. Grain prices are profitable for farmers in large part because corn and wheat exports have soared 24 percent since September 1, a reflection of poor harvests this year in Europe and elsewhere. But there is a catch: Failure to deliver their goods is cutting into the potential profits. That is because years of cost-cutting on both personnel and equipment have left railroads short-handed, forcing them to scramble to deal with the unexpected surge in both the agriculture sector and the economy in general. Indeed, railroad delivery times for everything from lumber to containers of consumer products have started to climb. And that could eventually lead to higher prices for items ranging from breakfast cereal to cars. The Farm Belt is feeling the effects of the train shortage most significantly because it is so heavily dependent on the railroads. About 40 percent of the nation's grain is transported by railroad, with most of the remainder being carried by trucks and barges. Also, the sudden surge of business caused by the autumn harvest across the Plains and Midwest tests the rail system as no other industry does. The delays are sparking fears that bottlenecks might also arise in other sectors of the U.S. economy as they also get busier. But it is the Farm Belt that is feeling the pinch right now. Farmers in Reynolds, N.D., for instance, are still waiting for a train that was scheduled to arrive November 1. As a result, the economy of the tiny farm town is slowing. Reynolds United grain elevator, owned by 300 farmers, has stopped buying wheat from growers because it can't move the 270,000 bushels it already has bought. The cooperative is dependent on Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., the second-biggest railroad, to haul its wheat to market. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 12-1-03, from article posted on Wall Street Journal website] MORE

AMTRAK RIDERS STRANDED THREE HOURS IN RHODE ISLAND: An unknown obstruction on an overhead electrical line caused a malfunction in a westbound Amtrak train headed for New York and Washington D.C. on November 28, stranding travelers at the Westerly Amtrak station for nearly three hours. A conductor speculated that the obstruction could have been a tree branch, but Amtrak officials could not be reached to confirm that. Hundreds of travelers making an unexpected stop off Train 2163 at 12:30 p.m. crowded the Westerly station lobby and platform, many talking on cell phones as they waited by their luggage for another train to arrive. Mixed announcements repeatedly changed the arrival time of the next train, prompting moans and groans from frustrated travelers. The train halted about 400 yards west of the train station (in Pawcatuck) for 30 minutes before backing up to the Westerly station, where passengers exited the train. Amtrak workers made "temporary repairs" to the section of wire that sustained damage when an obstruction unseated the pantograph, which conducts electricity from the wires to the engines, according to railroad assistant superintendent Thomas Rae. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 11-29-03, from Westerly Sun website]

CSX BUYS $1-MILLION IN 2005 SUPER BOWL TICKETS WHILE IT LAYS OFF WORKERS: Railroad giant CSX Corp., which announced plans in November to cut 800 to 1,000 jobs, recently agreed to spend about $1-million to buy tickets to the 2005 Super Bowl in Jacksonville. CSX's ticket purchase helps the city and the community, said vice president Adam Hollingsworth, though noting the Jacksonville-based company ''had to make some tough choices this week.'' The railroad company is slicing its non-union workforce, and most of the lost jobs will be in Jacksonville. About 60 percent of the company's 5,000 managerial workers are in the city. The job cuts for administrative assistants to executives probably will begin in mid-December and continue over six months. ''I consider it to be in very bad taste,'' said an employee who asked not to be identified for fear of losing his job. ''Why put up money like that when you're laying off employees? That's really frustrating. There should be more priorities on hiring young people with families than helping out with the Super Bowl.'' CSX, which has had reduced earnings in two quarters and a net loss in the third quarter this year, said when the cuts were announced this week that the reductions will help it operate better and hit goals for corporate revenue and performance. The company runs the nation's third-biggest railroad. ''I can understand those that might have a difficult time reconciling these two different decisions,'' Hollingsworth said. ''However, we have to make decisions based on the long-term future of the company and make decisions fairly and thoughtfully. And every decision held up against those two screens.'' The ticket purchase is part of a Jacksonville Jaguars drive to pay for changes to their home field at Alltel Stadium. The Jaguars have formed a company to sell about 6,000 tickets in corporate packages to cover about $12-million of the $47.5-million cost to add escalators and an end zone terrace bar and make other improvements this summer. Hollingsworth refused to say how many tickets and what extras will be included in the purchase, which will be paid over three years. The company will use the tickets to entertain Fortune 500 clients and to reward employees, he said, and CSX was not looking to put its name out with the purchase. The company cannot use the cost as a tax deduction, he said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 11-28-03, from Morris News Service story by David DeCamp]

RAILAMERICA TO ACQUIRE CENTRAL MICHIGAN RAILWAY: RailAmerica, Inc. has announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of the Bay City, Michigan-based Central Michigan Railway Company (CMGN), according to this release issued by RailAmerica. CMGN, which operates 100 miles of track from Midland, Michigan, south to Durand, Michigan, moved approximately 30,000 carloads and had revenue of approximately $11-million in 2002. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions, is expected to be completed within 60 days. With five existing RailAmerica railroads within a 90-mile radius of CMGN, the company said it anticipates deriving further synergies and cost savings from its Michigan cluster of rail operations. CMGN also has a direct connection with RailAmerica's Huron & Eastern Railway (HESR) and Saginaw Valley Railway (SGVY) railroads. CMGN provides rail freight service to the Saginaw area in Michigan's 'Thumb' region and interchanges traffic with Canadian National, CSXT, Lake State Railway Company and the Tuscola & Saginaw Bay Railway, in addition to HESR and SGVY. Major shippers on CMGN include Dow Chemical and Consumers Energy. Commodities moved on CMGN include agricultural commodities, lumber, automotive parts, heavy machinery, chemicals, sugar beets, fertilizer, military hardware, fuels, stone, cement and coal. CMGN also has cross-dock, warehouse and transload facilities. Established in 1987, CMGN employs 43 people and is owned and operated by The Straits Corporation. [United Transportation Union, 11-26-03, from RailAmerica news release]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN CUTS CAR HIRE COSTS NEARLY IN HALF: Through 2003's first nine months, Kansas City Southern reduced car hire expenses 41 percent compared with the same 2002 period. Car hire - a charge paid by a railroad to another railroad or private company to use a rail car - dropped from $14.9-million last year to $8.8-million through Sept. 30. KCS officials attribute the reduction to improved transportation efficiency and car handling, according to a prepared statement. Officials also cite benefits derived from Management Control System, a year-old computer platform that enables the railroad to track cars on line, improve train scheduling and facilitate car accounting. "Transportation, customer service, marketing and finance department employees have all played key roles in reducing car hire expenses," KCS officials said. "By working together, they have simultaneously reduced the number of cars on line, increased the number of cars off line and increased the total collection of fees from other railroads." [, 11-26-03]

TRUCKING CHANGES EXPECTED TO FUEL RAIL INTERMODAL GROWTH: More freight is likely to shift from truck to rail-truck intermodal next year, according to an article in the November 17 issue of Transport Topics, published by the American Trucking Associations, reports the Association of American Railroads. The newspaper quotes trucking and intermodal executives as saying the shift could occur because of reductions in truck capacity and increases in truck rates, at least partially due to new truck hours of service regulations. The new regulations take effect January 4, 2004, and trucking executives indicated they would attempt to raise rates in order to compensate for the additional costs coming from the new rules. The newspaper quoted Kirk Thompson, president of J.B. Hunt, as saying this would cause the price gap between trucking and intermodal to widen, making intermodal even more attractive to shippers. He also predicted that shippers would begin using intermodal for shorter hauls, noting that Hunt now plans to use intermodal for some trips of between 500 and 1,000 miles. [BNSF Today, 11-26-03]

CANADIAN NATIONAL TO ACQUIRE BC RAIL: Canadian National announced on November 25 it will pay the British Columbia government $1-billion in cash to acquire the outstanding shares of BC Rail Ltd., along with the right to operate over BC Rail's roadbed under a long-term lease. BC Rail's rail bed will remain in public hands, with CN assuming responsibility for rail transportation and infrastructure maintenance. CN will make Prince George its new B.C. North Division headquarters and invest $1-million in a new state-of-the-art wheel shop in Prince George as part of the BC Rail partnership. CN also plans to operate a new train between Prince George and Chicago with a 90-hour schedule. MORE

UNION PACIFIC ORDERS 175 LOCOMOTIVES FROM EMD: General Motors Corp.'s train locomotive unit said it won an order to build 175 locomotives for Union Pacific Corp., reports Reuters. "We have been communicating internally with employees and suppliers about (the deal with Union Pacific) this week," Curt Swenson, a spokesman for GM's Electro-Motive told Reuters. Delivery of the locomotives is scheduled to start in the second quarter next year, he said. Swenson and Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley declined to reveal terms of the contract for the SD70M diesel locomotives. The deal is the largest between the two companies since GM won a contract to supply 1,000 train locomotives to Union Pacific in 1999, spokesmen for the companies said. A GM spokeswoman said that deal, which was the largest contract ever for both the GM unit and Union Pacific, was worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars. "It'll raise some eyebrows," Jeffrey Kauffman, a railroad analyst with Fulcrum Global Partners, told Reuters. "Rails haven't added a lot of locomotive equipment in the last couple of years because of the economy." [United Transportation Union, 11-25-03, from Reuters report]

RAILROAD RETIREMENT TRUST POSTS INCREASE: The National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust (NRRIT) posted a whopping 19.9 percent return on its investment for the most recent fiscal year of operation, ending September 30. The return is far beyond what the Railroad Retirement Trust Fund would have earned had the money - which pays annuities to retired railroad employees and their families - been invested in traditionally low-yielding U.S. Treasury bonds as was required before Congress passed the Railroad Retirement Survivor's Improvement Act of 2001, known as Railroad Retirement reform. The new law permits investments in stocks and corporate bonds, as part of a diversified investment portfolio, in the same manner as those of private-sector retirement plans. Were the 19.9 percent rate of return to be sustained, assets in the fund would double in fewer than four years. [United Transportation Union, 11-25-03]

LUCIN CUTOFF MARKS ITS CENTENNIAL: On a map, Promontory peninsula looks like a Stone Age knife plunged deep into the jugular of the Great Salt Lake, according to John Keahey of the Salt Lake Tribune. For someone standing on a high ridge above its tip, the view underscores the magnitude of a giant railroading project that opened 100 years ago this Wednesday: the 102-mile long Lucin Cutoff, strung in the 20th century's earliest days like a dun-colored necklace across the northern end of the nation's largest inland sea... [United Transportation Union, 11-25-03, from article in Salt Lake Tribune] MORE

RAIL SAFETY BILL PASSED BY SENATE: By unanimous consent, the Senate November 25 passed a UTU-inspired Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act (S. 1402). "The bill's provisions have the effect of telling railroad management to stop taking employee lives for granted and pay greater attention to workplace safety, including fatigue," said UTU International President Byron A. Boyd Jr. The bill will move to the House of Representatives early next year where bi-partisan support makes it likely the measure will become law by spring. "This is a substantial legislative victory given that rail labor has not been able to move safety items through the Senate or House for many years," said UTU National Legislative Director James Brunkenhoefer. [United Transportation Union, 11-25-03] MORE

PORT ROYAL LINE IN SOUTH CAROLINA TO SHUT DOWN: A train will barrel down the tracks between the Port of Port Royal and Yemassee for the last time Wednesday [Nov.26], as Beaufort County's only rail service ceases operations after more than 125 years. The South Carolina Department of Commerce's Public Railways division, which operates the railroad, and the state Ports Authority, which owns the 26-mile rail line, have agreed to end the service because it wasn't profitable. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 11-24-03, from report in Beaufort Gazette]

CSXT GRANTS TERMINAL RAILROAD TRACKAGE RIGHTS TO PEACH STATE PORT LINE: CSX Transportation and Golden Isles Terminal Railroad Inc. (GIT) recently reached a trackage rights agreement pertaining to a line near Georgia Ports Authority's Garden City Terminal and CSXT's yard in Savannah. The rights will enable GIT to access the yard - which the terminal railroad is leasing from CSXT - and provide terminal switching and other services for port customers. Earlier this month, CSXT and GIT filed an exemption notice with Surface Transportation Board, which approved the transaction. [, 11-24-03]

UNION PACIFIC GETS CREATIVE TO FATTEN MANAGEMENT PAYCHECKS: Beauty is not all that lies in the eye of the beholder. Earnings can also be subjective, especially when executive compensation is at issue. Three years ago, directors at the Union Pacific Corp., the transportation company in Omaha, Neb., approved a long-term pay plan for company executives and some lower-level employees. They would receive stock units and cash, subject to the attainment of performance goals in the company's share price and earnings. The targets would have to be met by Jan. 31, 2004. Under the plan, executives would receive shares and cash if, after Jan. 1, 2001, the company's stock traded above $70 a share for 20 consecutive days or if the company's cumulative earnings for the three years met or exceeded $13.50 a share. So far, Union Pacific's stock has not made the grade. Since the start of 2001, its shares have traded as high as $65.05.And with one more quarter to go, the cumulative earnings figure appears to be falling short, too. From the start of 2001 through the third quarter of this year, the company has earned $11.74 a share. Wall Street expects earnings for the current quarter to be $1.18 a share, bringing the total to $12.92 per share. That's tantalizingly close to the $13.50 target, but not enough to prompt a payout. Unless somebody gets creative... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 11-24-03, from New York Times report] MORE

SHANGHAI SYSTEM COULD BE PROTOTYPE FOR CALIFORNIA-NEVADA MAGLEV: Members of the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission recently took a trip on the first revenue service magnetic-levitation train in Shanghai, giving commissioners a firsthand look at the type of system that one day could be in service between Las Vegas and Southern California. Commission members believe aspects of the Chinese system's engineering and design could provide a template for the 269-mile proposed California-to-Nevada Maglev train, according to a prepared statement. The Shanghai system currently is open for weekend-only service, but officials plan to begin full-time service in early 2004. The trains reach a top speed of 268 mph, completing a 20-mile trip from downtown Shanghai to Pudong International Airport in about seven-and-a-half minutes. The Shanghai system cost $1.2-billion to build, but commission officials believe the California-to-Nevada system would be cheaper per mile to construct because Shanghai's system is mostly located in marshland. The California-to-Nevada project is expected to relieve congestion on Interstate 15. [, 11-24-03]

RAILROADS PINCH PENNIES ON POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL: In 1994, shortly after her husband died in a head-on train collision south of Kelso, Teena Poler wrote a letter to federal rail officials. She pleaded with them to adopt safety measures that, many say, could have saved her husband's life. So reports the Longview (Wash.) Daily News in a look at why railroads have not implemented positive train control. Her campaign has centered largely on [the] technology which uses satellites to track the movements of freight and passenger trains... [United Transportation Union, 11-23-03, from story published in Longview, Washington, Daily News] MORE

SUBWAY CAR REEF COMPLETE: The last of a fleet of retired "Redbird" subway cars was dropped off a barge 16 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware this month, ending a two-year program to turn retired New York City subway cars into fish habitats. Delaware was the first state to get the subway cars, which were dropped off the shore, amid great fanfare, in August 2001. The state received the majority of the 1,200 cars, which have been used in five states. [United Transportation Union, 11-22-03, from Associated Press report]

KCS WRAPPING UP INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS ON MERIDIAN SPEEDWAY: As 2003 draws to a close, Kansas City Southern plans to put the finishing touches on several maintenance-of-way projects designed to improve productivity on the Meridian Speedway, the railroad's Meridian, Miss.-to-Shreveport, La., line. KCS is grading the site for a new 8,500-foot Gibsland siding, which includes no crossings, and is designed to reduce crew waiting time for train meets and passes, according to a prepared statement. The railroad expects to begin trackwork on December 1. The Class I also is grading and driving bridge piles for a new Harmon siding, named after recently retired Operating Superintendent Jerry Harmon. Scheduled to be in service January 15, the siding is designed to halve a current 40-mile distance between existing sidings. To handle growing traffic through Jackson, Miss., KCS is constructing double track between a Canadian National Railway Co. crossing and the city's west end. The project is about 90 percent complete. KCS also is completing design of five miles of double track between Monroe and Magenta, La., that would enable the Class I to increase train speed and reduce transit times. The railroad expects to begin construction in January and complete the project in the year's second half. [, 11-21-03]

CP RAIL WITHDRAWS BID FOR BC RAIL: British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell said Wednesday [Nov. 19] that Canadian Pacific Rail (CP) has withdrawn its bid to run Crown-owned BC Rail, according to this Canadian Press report. The company, selected as one of the three final bidders, sent a letter to the government officially withdrawing its bid, Campbell said. But he wouldn't confirm reports that the letter included complaints of unfairness and favoritism to Canadian National Railway, the company reportedly with the inside track on winning the BC Rail sweepstakes. "I understand that they have withdrawn their bid. That's their choice," Campbell said. The government appointed a fairness commissioner to ensure the bid process is fair, he said. A report released Monday by consultants Charles River Associates, appointed as a fairness advisor by the Liberal government, concluded the process "was fair and impartial." But Campbell said the report was written before Canadian Pacific submitted its letter or withdrawal. "The fairness commission will review all of those things," he said. "The proponents are totally within their rights to let the fairness commissioner know they are upset with what's going on, if that's how they feel." Campbell said the government has "been endeavoring to have the cleanest, fairest process we can." OmniTRAX was chosen as the third final bidder. [United Transportation Union, 11-20-03, from Canadian Press report]

BUFFALO & PITTSBURGH PLANS TO ACQUIRE INACTIVE CSXT LINE IN PENNSYLVANIA: Next year, Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad Inc. (BPR) expects to revive a 16.8-mile Pennsylvania line that's been inactive for a decade. The 280-mile regional recently filed an exemption notice with the Surface Transportation Board to acquire the Creekside-to-Homer City line from CSX Transportation. Between 1988 and 1993, BPR leased the line from CSXT. Because of declining traffic, the railroads jointly received STB approval in 1993 to discontinue operations on the line. In June 2004, BPR expects to begin serving a Homer City utility, which will require 60 to 65 coal trains (40 carloads per train) a year. The regional plans to rehabilitate the line ­ subject to a trackage rights agreement with CSXT - by replacing rail and ties, surfacing track, removing brush and renewing a crossing. The agreement would include rights to an adjoining Cloe-to-Ridge Branch Junction, Pa., line leased by Norfolk Southern Railway, which would enable BPR to access the Homer City line. [, 11-19-03]

NJ TRANSIT EXTENDS LIGHT-RAIL SYSTEM: New Jersey Transit recently opened the Hudson-Bergen light-rail line's 22nd Street Station in Bayonne, N.J., two years ahead of schedule. Now serving 17 stations between 22nd Street and the Hoboken Terminal, the line has served as a catalyst for economic development, attracting commercial and residential developments in cities close to the system, according to a prepared statement. Last week, a House and Senate conference committee approved a $100-million grant for the Hudson-Bergen line, in addition to a $500-million federal commitment NJ Transit previously obtained. In spring 2004, NJ Transit plans to open the 2nd and 9th Street stations in Hoboken, and Lincoln Harbor Station in Weehawken. In summer 2005, officials expect to begin service to Port Imperial in Weehawken, Bergenline Avenue in Union City and Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen. The projects are being funded through state and federal dollars. NJ Transit also is completing concept planning and preliminary engineering for a south extension to 8th Street in Bayonne. Since the system opened in 2000, ridership has increased to 15,500 weekly trips. [, 11-19-03]

UNION PACIFIC RAISES DIVIDEND 30 PERCENT: Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP) announced that its Board of Directors has voted to increase the quarterly dividend on the company's common stock by 30 percent to 30 cents per share. The increased dividend is payable January 2, 2004 to stockholders of record as of December 10, 2003. "Following last year's 15 percent dividend increase, the 2004 raise is a further indication of management's ongoing commitment to enhance shareholder value," said Dick Davidson, Chairman and CEO of Union Pacific Corporation. "Despite the environment of high fuel prices and a soft economy in 2003, Union Pacific will substantially improve its balance sheet through the reduction of over $1 billion in combined debt and convertible preferred securities by year-end 2003. This increased financial strength and flexibility allows us to reward our shareholders with a higher dividend payout." [Union Pacific, 11-19-03]

'RAILROADS READY TO GROW,' SAYS CSX CHAIRMAN: CSX Corp.'s top executive said railroads have weathered the worst of the economic downturn and the problems of integrating new acquisitions and are prepared to compete for increased business, according to this report by Robin Nissim published by the Journal of Commerce Online. Michael J. Ward, CSX's chairman, president and chief executive spoke at TransComp 2003, the combined annual meeting of the National Industrial Transportation League, the Intermodal Association of North America and the fall meeting of the Transportation Intermediaries Association. "The economy does appear to be rebounding," he said. "At our company, we're poised for it to really start growing." He urged his audience, dominated by shippers, intermodal marketing companies and third-party logistics providers, to consider rail shipment when possible. "We would love to take trucks off the highway," he said. "We know there are some places where we can do that logically and we also know there are some places where rail doesn't make sense." Ward said CSX is working to improve schedule reliability, a sore point for many rail shippers, and to become more flexible in adapting to market changes and opportunities. "Railroads have a reputation to be difficult to do business with and we're working on that," he said. But he added: "I've never seen the industry so focused on the customer and we have to build upon that." Ward said the rail industry must cooperate to win government cooperation. "If we bicker among ourselves, it's hard to mobilize the government," he said. "We need to focus on putting aside our small differences and become the lifeblood of the economy. Without us, this world would be a much, much worse place." [United Transportation Union, 11-18-03, from report in Journal of Commerce]

FOUR SENIOR NS EXECUTIVES TAKE BUYOUT: Four senior Norfolk Southern (NS) executives - Senior Vice President-Planning James W. McClellan, Senior Vice President-Coal Marketing J. W. "Bill" Fox, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Stephen P. Renken, and Vice President-Real Estate Richard W. Parker - have accepted an NS buyout package and will depart by year-end, according to this Railway Age report. They are among the 553 non-union employees (13 percent of the management work force) who have accepted a voluntary separation package offered in September. Of those, 314 were eligible to retire. Spokesman Robert C. Fort said NS has a succession plan in place for every affected department. The company will take a fourth-quarter charge of $107-million to pay for the buyouts, which offer three weeks pay for every year of service, health insurance for one year, and outplacement assistance. Managers eligible to retire also received full retirement benefits. [United Transport ion Union. 11-18-03, from a report in]

RECORD GRAIN CROP CAUSES RAILCAR SHORTAGE: Grain suppliers like Cargill Inc. and railroads like Union Pacific Corporation face rising costs and shipment delays because of a railcar shortage caused by a record corn harvest and rising demand in Europe and Asia for wheat and soybeans. The monthly lease rate for a 120-ton grain hopper railcar, capable of carrying 5,150 cubic feet of grain, is about $270 to $325, up from $200 a year ago, according to leasing companies like CIT Group and RailSolutions Inc., a railroad consulting company. Some shippers have had to wait almost three weeks for cars. "We've leased up everything we could lease," the Union Pacific's chief executive, Richard Davidson, said in an interview with Bloomberg News. Some farmers and exporters have had to stockpile crops to await railcars as demand for wheat, soybeans and corn has surged because drought reduced supplies from Europe and Australia. "This happens every harvest, but it feels a bit more severe this year," said Frank Sims, a vice president at Cargill, the world's biggest agricultural company. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 11-18-03, from report by Bloomberg News] MORE

CANADIAN PACIFIC SELLS WATERLOO SPUR TO WISCONSIN CENTRAL: Canadian Pacific Railway recently sold a 32.5-mile Wisconsin segment to Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Company (WSOR). The deal's terms were not disclosed. WSOR had leased the line from CPR since 1998 and exercised an option to purchase it. Known as the Waterloo Spur, the line runs from Madison to Watertown, Wisconsin. [, 11-17-03]

CSX HAS LITTLE COMPANY IN CONTROLLING THERMOSTATS: When it comes to setting workplace temperatures, CSX Corp. appears headed down a track all its own. Last week, The Times-Dispatch learned that the Florida-based railroad recently informed machinists at its local Acca Yard switching facility not to set thermostats in their shops and storerooms above 50 degrees. A company memo obtained by the newspaper also included a ban on "supplementary heating," such as space heaters. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 11-17-03, from article in Richmond Times-Dispatch] MORE

HOUSE, SENATE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE APPROVES $75-MILLION FOR SOUND TRANSIT'S CENTRAL LINK: Last week, a House and Senate conference committee approved a $75-million fiscal-year 2004 appropriation for Sound Transit's Central Link light-rail system. Sound Transit requested the appropriation, an amount President Bush in February included in his proposed FY2004 budget. The Senate also proposed $75-million for the project, but the House proposed only $15-million. Washington State Senator Patty Murray was a member of the conference committee and helped bridge the gap between the two parties, said Sound Transit officials in a prepared statement. The House and Senate now will review the conference agreement for final approval. The $75-million would be the 2004 installment of a $500-million full funding grant agreement approved by Federal Transit Administration October 24. Sound Transit broke ground on the Central Link system Nov. 8. [, 11-17-03]

LIGHT-RAIL PROPOSED FOR GRAND CANYON: Grand Canyon Railway has proposed creating a $186-million high-speed light rail line aimed at easing traffic congestion along the South Rim, according to this Associated Press report. The railway currently runs daily tours from Williams to Grand Canyon Village. Railway leaders said that under the proposal, high-speed rail service could begin in 2005 from Williams to the canyon and reduce the South Rim's vehicle traffic by 50 percent. Grand Canyon Superintendent Joseph Alston said the railway's proposal is one of six that will be considered by the U.S. Park Service. The aim is to get visitors to leave their cars outside the park's boundaries. According to the proposal, the Williams-to-Grand Canyon rail line would run for 62 miles and would take an hour and 18 minutes one-way. The project's second phase, to begin in 2013, would build a six-mile rail spur from Tusayan to the visitor's center near Mather Point. That trek would last about nine minutes. [United Transportation Union, 11-17-03, from Associated Press story]

BRYAN, OHIO, CEREMONY MARKS U.S. RAIL SPEED RECORD: During a ceremony November 14, rail historians will dedicate an Ohio Historic Marker at a train station about 70 miles west of Toledo that will commemorate a July 23, 1966, test run in which New York Central railcar M-497, temporarily equipped with twin jet engines on its roof, set an official mark of 183.85 mph. MORE

CHICAGO METRA REMOVES AUTOMATED FARE TURNSTILES: Up to 29 automated fare collection turnstiles at Electric Line stations, installed by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1966, have been removed from service. According to a news report, the the turnstiles were accompanied by ticket machines on the platform, allowing staff-reduction on the trains themselves. In recent years, however, the turnstiles have shown their age and malfunctioned. Conductors and trainmen will now collect tickets the old-fashioned way, aboard the trains. Metra, which now operates the system, will reportedly hire up to 10 more trainmen for the Electric Line.

CANADA UNVEILS TORONTO AIRPORT RAIL-LINK PLAN: Canada's transport minister unveiled plans for a rail service linking the country's biggest airport to downtown Toronto on November 13, but the project may come under review with the arrival of a new prime minister who has already vowed to review Ottawa's spending plans, according to this Reuters report. Transport Minister David Collenette said the absence of major federal funding for the project means there should be no objections from Paul Martin, the man slated to become Canada's next prime minister. "Everyone is on the same page on this one," Collenette told reporters. Martin replaces Jean Chretien as prime minister some time before Parliament returns. [United Transportation Union, 11-14-03, from Reuters report]

INDIANA R.R. BUILDS NEW TRACKS TO ALLEVIATE COMMUTER DELAYS AT CROSSING: The Indiana Rail Road Co. (IRR), city of Indianapolis and Indiana Department of Transportation recently completed a $1.5 million project to build new tracks south of Indianapolis to prevent trains from holding up automobile traffic. Averaging about 85 cars each, the trains were passing through the West Street crossing during morning rush hour, holding up traffic for lengthy amounts of time. The new tracks enable trains to bypass the West Street crossing. "To store trains in our Senate Avenue freight yard required us to do some time-consuming car switching, and it wasn't unusual for the West Street crossing to be blocked for up to 20 minutes at a time," said IRR President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Hoback in a prepared statement. IRR is a 155-mile regional railroad that hauls about 105,000 carloads annually from Indianapolis to Illinois.[, 11-14-03]

SOUND TRANSIT BEGINS CENTRAL LINK CONSTRUCTION: Sound Transit broke ground November 8 on its 14-mile Central Link light-rail project. Scheduled for completion in 2009, the project will serve downtown Seattle, the industrial area south of the city and surrounding neighborhoods. The project recently received a $500-million full funding grant agreement from Federal Transit Administration. Sound Transit officials project the initial segment will carry 42,000 daily passengers by 2020. Sound Transit officials currently are planning a south extension to Sea-Tac International Airport and reviewing the draft supplemental environmental impact statement to determine a north-extension route. [, 11-12-03]

CANADIAN NATIONAL EYES EVENTUAL 35 PERCENT CUT IN CREWS: Canadian National CEO Hunter Harrison said Tuesday (Nov. 11) that if Canadian National Railway (CN) can renegotiate its labor contracts to pay workers by the hour instead of distance traveled, it will be able to reduce its train and engine crew workforce by up to 35 per cent, according to this Canadian Press report. Over the past year, CN won a breakthrough on the hourly-pay issue with some of its U.S. unions, affecting 1,700 employees and the Montreal-based company is currently negotiating with several unions representing operating crews in Canada. Union contracts from the steam-engine era used to limit workers' daily travel to as little as 100 miles (160 kilometers), though that cap has frequently been raised over the years. "Now we can get 7,000 to 7,500 miles (up to 12,000 kilometers) a month from the same employees that were producing 4,000 to 4,500 miles (up to 7,200 kilometers) a month," Harrison said Tuesday at a transportation conference. His speech at the Smith Barney Citigroup was webcast from New York. Canada's largest railway now is in negotiations with seven unions in Canada representing 13,000 workers - including 4,700 in the operating crews. [United Transportation Union, 11-11-03]

CSX ANNOUNCES STREAMLINING OF MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE: CSX Corporation announced on November 10 [2003] that it will be streamlining the management structure at a number of its companies, eliminating organizational layers and realigning certain functions. The effort will allow CSX companies to more effectively serve customers, meet revenue growth goals and improve productivity. "Our goal is to create smaller, more responsive and streamlined organizations focused on driving operating income up and better realizing our full potential. This effort will allow us to deliver stronger results more quickly," said Michael J. Ward, CSX's chairman, president and chief executive officer. The streamlining will also reduce the non-union workforce by 800 to 1,000 people. No positions were eliminated right away. The reductions will be made over the next six months through a structured process, one layer at a time, beginning at the top of each organization.

AMTRAK'S 'JULIE' RECEIVES TRAVEL FACILITATION AWARD: The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) recently granted a 2003 travel facilitation Odyssey Award to Amtrak for its automated voice-recognition telephone system. Introduced in May 2002, 'Julie' currently provides train status, schedule and reservation information to about 35 percent of people who call Amtrak's toll-free number. The system has helped Amtrak increase telephone bookings, according to the national passenger railroad. Before Julie, Amtrak used a touch-tone system that required callers to dial selections on the telephone keypad; Julie recognizes verbal responses. TIA Odyssey awards are presented in 10 categories. The travel facilitation category recognizes programs that address access and facilitation issues, signage, language/ interpretation service and currency exchange. [, 11-10-03]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN COMPLETES VOLUNTARY SEPARATION PROGRAM: Norfolk Southern expects to record a $107-million charge against fourth quarter 2003 earnings for its voluntary separation program for non-agreement employees, according to a press report. Included is a charge of $66-million and a non-cash charge of $41-million for pension and post-retirement benefits.The company said that 553 employees were approved for separation, of whom 314 were eligible to retire under the company's retirement plan.

RAILS UPGRADE INTERMODAL SERVICE: As rail intermodal traffic continues to roar to another annual record, railroads are doing their best to keep the momentum going by adding additional service options for customers. On November 10, CSX Intermodal and Union Pacific Railroad plan to begin offering their STAX container program to Mexican customers, according to Progressive The program builds upon an existing joint rail/truck trailer service between the eastern and southeastern United States, and Mexico. CSXI and UP expect to move both 53-foot containers and 48-foot trailers by rail to UP's intermodal facility in Laredo, Texas, where Union Pacific Carrier Services would truck the equipment to customers' doors at more than 100 Mexican destinations. Meanwhile, on November 4, Norfolk Southern and UP began offering enhanced Blue Streak service between Atlanta and Los Angeles. The railroads moved up the Tuesday cutoff time on eastbound LA trains to 1 p.m., enabling "Superflyer" freight arriving in Atlanta to be available Thursday evening, and "Premium" and "Standard" loads to be available Friday morning. Florida East Coast Railway and NS have taken action to improve cut off times for their Midwest/Chicago-to-south Florida express intermodal service. The enhanced service is designed to reduce transit time and improve asset utilization. [Assn. of American Railroads]

TRACK INSPECTOR HELPS FREE MOUNTAIN LION CUBS: BNSF track inspector Pat O'Rourke was forced to stop his westbound hi-rail vehicle Friday morning, October 31, in Durrant Canyon near Butte, Montana, to investigate an obstruction on the track. What he discovered was quite unbelievable - three about-eight-week-old mountain lion kittens frozen to the rails in the frigid morning air. Apparently, the young mountain lions had crossed Silver Bow Creek in the 10-degree air before walking onto the steel rails. According to O'Rourke, one kitten was frozen to the track on its back. Another was frozen to a railroad spike by its paw and its belly also was frozen to the rail. The third kitten was frozen to a second set of tracks by the tail. "I tried to approach them with a shovel and give them a little prod," says O'Rourke. "I couldn't figure it out... I thought they were just born." When O'Rourke couldn't move the kittens with a shovel and realized they were frozen to the tracks, he tried pouring his thermos of coffee on one kitten's paw, hoping it would free the animal from the icy trap. That didn't work either. "They kept licking their paws, and the more they licked, the more stuck they got," says O'Rourke. "It seemed like every time they moved one thing, something else got stuck." The sound of the screaming kittens roused their mother, who was watching the spectacle from a nearby ridge. The roar of the angry female mountain lion spooked O'Rourke back into his truck. O'Rourke called BNSF's office in Butte. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) was called. Marty Vook, a game warden, arrived on the scene with hot water. When the kittens finally ran free, O'Rourke said, they left patches of hair on the steel tracks. "(O'Rourke) said the kittens were all teeth and claws," Lewis told the newspaper. O'Rourke said the kittens were exhausted by the ordeal. "They weren't real healthy when they left," O'Rourke said. "But the warden said that was their best chance." Now O'Rourke's co-workers are calling him the "Lion King." He said he doesn't mind the joking. He was just happy to help the young mountain lions out of their jam. [BNSF Today, 11-5-03]

BLE SIGNS REMOTE CONTROL AGREEMENT WITH TEX/MEX: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers has signed a contract with the Texas Mexican Railway giving members of the BLE jurisdiction over remote control operations on that railroad. [Assn. of American Railroads]

BNSF ADDS SECOND TRACK BETWEEN COBURN AND CLEAR CREEK, TEXAS: A 14-mile section of double-track opened on BNSF in the Texas Panhandle on October 29. The section's completion is the two-thirds mark for 2003 construction. The remaining third, a 16-mile section between Lora and Canadian, Texas, is scheduled for cutover in mid-November. [BNSF Today]

ARIZONA GROUP ACQUIRES SAN PEDRO & SOUTHWESTERN: The Arizona Railroad Group, an Arizona-based railroad investment company headed by David Parkinson, founder and former chairman of the Arizona & California, California Northern, and Puget Sound & Pacific railroads, has acquired the San Pedro & Southwestern Railroad from RailAmerica. The sale price was not disclosed. Operations under the new owner began November 3 [2003] over 67.9 miles of track extending from a connection with Union Pacific's Los Angeles-Chicago main line at Benson, Ariz. to Paul Spur, near Douglas, Ariz. [Assn. of American Railroads]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TESTING INTERMODAL TRAINS ON NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: Norfolk Southern began testing its 25A and 26A intermodal trains over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor in October. The North-Jersey-Atlanta trains are operating once or twice a week on Amtrak between Newark and Washington through mid-November, in order to gauge the feasibility of running fast freight trains on the corridor. At the end of that time, NS, Amtrak and principal customer UPS will make a decision on continuing the operation or going back to the normal route - which is slower - via Hagerstown, Maryland. In most instances, the trains on the corridor are running at night. [Philadelphia Chapter NRHS 'Cinders' 11/03]

STRASBURG RR INSTALLS SIDINGS NORTH OF ITS STATION: The Strasburg Rail Road has installed two new sidings on the north side of its station at East Strasburg, to be used for displays and car storage. Parked at the end of one track is the former Philadelphia & Reading business car #10, built for the P&R in 1913 and now open for tours. The car has been repainted in authentic Reading colors instead of the light brown in which it had been dressed for years. The miniature Cagney live steam trains also is a new feature at the Strasburg complex. [Philadelphia Chapter NRHS 'Cinders' 11/03]

DAILY STEAM OPERATIONS AT WASHINGTON UNION STATION ENDED 50 YEARS AGO: November 2, 2003, marks the 50th anniversary of the final call for daily steam locomotive action at Washington Union Station. When B&O P7 Pacific #5306 departed at 6:30 P.M., it was truly the end of an era. PRR and RF&P did have a few extra or emergency movements involving steam in those next two months, but the daily visitations to Washington ended on November 2, 1953, after 118 years and a few odd months. [Reported by Bob Cohen, 11-2-03]

AMTRAK'S CARDINAL EXTENDED TO NEW YORK: Amtrak's Cardinal now operates to and from New York. The train, which operates three days a week between there and Chicago, had been operating to and from Washington since it converted to Superliner equipment several years ago. But in May 2002, the train reverted back to single-level equipment, which would have permitted the train to be extended to New York, its traditional end point, since there would no longer be height restrictions such as there are with Superliners. At the time, Amtrak cited "logistical problems" as the reason to retain Washington as the train's eastern terminus. By extending the train to New York, passengers en route from Northeast Corridor locations to such locations as Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Chicago, may now be afforded the convenience of traveling on the same train without making a transfer.

STUDY EXAMINES SOLUTIONS FOR DETROIT-WINDSOR BOTTLENECK: A consortium led by Canadian Pacific Railway and a subsidiary of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System has released a study that calls for conversion of an existing railroad tunnel under the Detroit River into a trucks-only roadway and construction of a new, expanded rail tunnel to relieve gridlock on the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario. Automobiles and other products carried by the 11,300 trucks that cross the Ambassador Bridge each weekday account for $92-billion in annual trade between the United States and Canada, said Michael Belzer, a professor of industrial relations at Wayne State University and the study's lead researcher. But the 74-year-old bridge has only four lanes - two of them set aside for passenger vehicles. That, coupled with closer scrutiny of truck shipments since the September 11 terror attacks and the bridge's separation from Ontario freeways by local streets in Windsor, have forced truckers to wait at least an hour or more to make the crossing, the study said. The project would convert the 100-year-old railroad tunnel into a two-lane highway for trucks extending from Interstate 75 in southwest Detroit, a few blocks north of the existing Ambassador Bridge access ramps, to Highway 401 on Windsor's southern border. A train tunnel with enough clearance for double-stacked freight containers would be dug next to the existing tunnel, which is too small to accommodate the containers now. The cost of the project is estimated at $460-million. [Assn. of American Railroads]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO TEST LOCOMOTIVES FOR BETTER EFFICIENCY: Norfolk Southern will stage an 18-month pilot test of the Locomotive Engineer Assist Display and Event Recorder, called LEADER. According to an Association of American Railroads report, it is a computer system that helps engineers determine the best train handling for fuel efficiency, scheduling and safety. The system will be installed on 15 GE Dash-9 locomotives to trains operating over the 104-mile route between Roanoke, Virginia, and Belews Creek, North Carolina.

WMATA UNVEILS MODERNIZES BREDA CARS: Washington, D.C., Metro has unveiled the first four modernized Italian-built Breda cars slated to operate on the Yellow Line. The cars are part of a three-year project to repair and rehabilitate 364 of its 20-year-old 2000 and 3000-series cars under a contract with Alstom Transportation.

CN TO ACQUIRE GREAT LAKES TRANSPORTATION: Canadian National has agreed to acquire Great Lakes Transportation LLC, parent of Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range; Bessemer & Lake Erie; and Pittsburgh & Conneaut Dock, for $380-million. According to a news report, a key element in the acquisition is Missabe Road's track in the Duluth-Superior area used by CN on trackage rights, allowing it greater access to Winnipeg and Chicago. Also included is a fleet of eight vessels carrying bulk commodities on the Great Lakes. Acquisition is expected by the middle of next year.

NEW HAVEN WEST TOWER CLOSES: Metro-North's New Haven West Tower, the last interlocking tower in operation on the railroad, closed on October 11, 2003. Its territory covered the eastern seven miles of the New Haven Line, and its duties were transferred to the new District G traffic controller based in New York's Grand Central Terminal.

GEORGIA AUTHORIZES BONDS FOR COMMUTER LINE: The state of Georgia has authorized $4-million in bonds to match $21-million in federal funds toward the planned Macon-Griffin-Atlanta commuter line. The trains, to operate on Norfolk Southern, are expected to carry 1.5 million passengers annually.

FLUOR-BOMBARDIER JET TRAIN PICKED IN FLORIDA: The agency planning a new high-speed rail system in Florida has given its preliminary endorsement to a proposal submitted by Bombardier, Inc., and Flour Corporation to build a $4.3-billion high-speed rail project between Orlando and Tampa. The Florida High Speed Rail Authority said the system would use Bombardier's high-speed JetTrain, with Flour providing the engineering for the infrastructure. The train would be able to travel at speeds up to 150 mph and could be in operation by 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads]

AMTRAK HAS RECORD RIDERSHIP: More than 24 million passengers traveled on Amtrak during its fiscal year ending September 30 [2003], the highest annual ridership ever for the company. Long-distance trains showed substantial improvement over last year, with those in the Eastern region of the country improving ridership by 3.8 percent and those in the Western region improving by 6.6 percent. Ridership on shorter distance routes in the West increased by 11.7 percent over last year, while decreasing slightly in the East.

FORMER B&O SHOP BUILDING IN INDIANA DESTROYED BY FIRE: A circa-1905 brick storage building that at one time was part of a B&O shop complex in Washington, Indiana, was burned to the ground on September 24. The building, used for storage by Rescar Industries, burned from a fire started in a welding project. According to a newspaper account, employees were attempting to weld tin onto the back of the building to secure the structure from trespassers. At first, the employees attempted to contain the fire with a fire extinguisher, but without success. The fire department was contacted shortly after 10:30 in the morning, and about 21 fire fighters fought the blaze until about 8:30 that evening. Two fireman were injured, but not seriously. Rescar Industries repairs railroad cars. Two long brick buildings, with a transfer table between them, are still active at the plant, along with some other structures. A GE 44-tonner is the shop switcher, and around 25 to 40 freight cars can be found in various stages of rebuilding or repair at any particular time. [Reported by John Floyd and Frank Wegloski]

KODAK TO DISCONTINUE SLIDE PROJECTOR SALES: The Eastman Kodak Company has announced plans to discontinue sales of slide projectors by June of next year. The company cited a decline in usage, replaced by alternative projection technologies. The company will continue to provide service and support for slide projectors through June 2011.

JAMES PALMER DIES - RETIRED RAIL OFFICIAL: H. James Palmer, who served some 45 years, all in passenger operations with the Reading Company, Conrail and SEPTA, died on October 9. He was well known to many as a passenger traffic representative for the Reading, eventually rising to the position of manager of passenger services in the 1970's. He was also a fixture on the famed Iron Horse Rambles of the 1959-1963 era, overseeing the execution of those trips. He was 77. [Philadelphia Chapter NRHS 'Cinders' 11/03]

GLENWOOD TOWER CLOSES: CSX's WJ Tower (Glenwood Jct.) closed on October 1, 2003. The tower was built in 1908 and was a typical two-story frame Baltimore and Ohio tower located in Pittsburgh, PA, next to the Monongahela River. Standing guard at milepost 323, along the P&W Subdivision at the east end of Glenwood yard, the tower controlled movements on the P&W and also the W&P sub where the latter entered the yard. [Reported by Wade Massie] MORE

REBUILT PCC BACK AT SEPTA: During mid-September the first remanufactured PCC (#2320) returned from Brookville to SEPTA property. It is one of 18 such cars that Brookville will overhaul, with modern equipment including AC traction-motors and air conditioning. Look for a second refurbished car to be delivered by the end of the year. [Urban Transit Club, November News Update, 11/03]

FIRE AT TROLLEY MUSEUM DESTROYS EQUIPMENT: A fire on September 28 at the National Capital Trolley Museum in Montgomery County, Maryland, destroyed eight pieces of equipment. The museum estimates damage of at least $8-million, which included four streetcars from its own collection, three Austrian trams from the International Collection, and a Johnstown Traction Company car from the American Trolley Collection. The cause of the blaze is under investigation. MORE

UPPER ROOF AT B&O MUSEUM ROUNDHOUSE TO BE REPLACED: Structural engineers working with the B&O Museum in Baltimore have discovered that the clerestory upper roof of the roundhouse does not have the structural integrity to meet current building code standards. This was not caused by the February snowstorm that caused extensive damage to lower portions of the roof, and repairs to the upper roof will not be covered by insurance. The museum has decided to remove and replace the upper roof at a cost estimated to be in excess of $2-million. Moreover, this work is expected to add another six months to the overall roof replacement project. MORE..

AL CROWN RETIRES FROM CSXT: Alan F. Crown, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CSX Transportation, retired on September 11 [2003] after 37 years of service. He began his career with the B&O in Baltimore as a yard clerk and quickly moved into management positions including general manager of several of the company's operating regions. He was among those who led the railroad's service recovery that began in 2000, and he also led the development of CSXT's Safety Leadership Process in 2002. He was named chief operating officer in February 2003.

UNION PACIFIC TO ADD TRAFFIC ON LINE IN ILLINOIS: Union Pacific will increase the number of trains on a 58-mile rail line between Mount Vernon and Chester, Illinois, and increase the speed of its trains to 40 miles per hour, according to a news report from the Association of American Railroads. A portion of the line between Mount Vernon and Steelville had very little traffic in recent years, and the portion between Steelville and Chester had averaged just two trains a day. Effective November 1, following a $9.3-million track upgrade, the number of trains operating over the line will increase to about 12 trains a day.

NJ TRANSIT TESTING LIGHT-RAIL CATENARY: On Monday, September 29, 2003, NJT and 21st Century Rail Corporation electrified the new catenary wires for testing between the viaduct on Grove Street in Jersey City, across Paterson Plank Road and New York Avenue, up to the south side of the future 2nd Street station stop in Hoboken on the Jersey City border. The test area includes the substation near Marin Boulevard and grade crossings on Paterson Plank Road and New York Avenue. This test is the next step toward the eventual extension of the Hudson-Bergen light rail line to North Bergen. [Urban Transit Club, November News Update, 11/03]

HARPERS FERRY TRAIN STATION RESTORATION GETS ON TRACK: Superintendent Donald W. Campbell, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, is pleased to announce that the first stage of restoration of the Harpers Ferry Train Station will begin on October 6, with the removal of hazardous materials. The removal of asbestos and other chemical materials is expected to last approximately two months, during which time the entire structure, including the ticket office and bathrooms, will be closed to the public. Ticket information may be obtained at Passenger Service Operations at the Brunswick or Frederick, Maryland stations. Port-a-john facilities will be available to the public. For public safety, the station will be fenced off and a contractor's staging area will be erected adjacent to the building. This process will eliminate 11 parking spaces next to the station, however eleven temporary spaces will be constructed to maintain the same number of spaces and keep disruption of commuter train service to a minimum. Planning and restoration work will continue through 2005 with selection of a contractor, pre-construction meetings, and construction to restore this historic depot to its 1930's appearance. [National Park Service, 9-23-03] MORE

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ADDS BULK TERMINAL IN NORTH CAROLINA: Norfolk Southern has established a new bulk transfer terminal at Fayetteville, North Carolina, to be operated by the Tidewater Transit Company, a major provider of bulk transportation services in North America. The facility enhances Norfolk Southern's network of 28 bulk transfer terminals in 16 states.

BNSF INCREASES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: The directors of Burlington Northern Santa Fe have voted to increase the company's quarterly dividend by 25 percent, from 12 cents to 15 cents a share.

PENNDOT GRANTS $4-MILLION TOWARD 30 FREIGHT RAIL PROJECTS: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced $4-million in grants to finance 30 freight rail assistance projects that could lead to the creation of more than 1000 jobs across the state. The funding will be applied to construction, maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of rail lines, sidings and grade crossings, according to an Association of American Railroads report.

DEARBORN TOWER MOVED TO CONNERSVILLE, INDIANA: The c-1896 interlocking tower that once served a joint B&O/NYC facility in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and closed about 1986, has been moved to the Whitewater Valley Railroad in Connersville, Indiana. The move took place from July 22 to July 30, 2003. According to information provided by the railroad, a display area had been in planning for some time to include an interlocking tower as part of a larger project that would allow for a more complete railroad history experience along the south end of the former New York Central yard. Earlier, a former PRR tower located in Dunreith, Indiana, had been planned for the display, but that tower collapsed.

FIVE RAIL CORRIDORS PLANNED FOR CHICAGO: The city of Chicago, the state of Illinois and a partnership of Class I railroads have announced plans for the creation of five rail corridors in and around Chicago, one of which will be primarily for passenger trains to speed their flow and eliminate commuter delays. The plan will also open for commercial development a key corridor in downtown Chicago. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.5-billion, of which railroads are committing more than $200-million. It is expected to take six years to complete.

EMD TO LAUNCH NEW CLASS OF LOCOMOTIVE: General Motors Electro-Motive Division has announced the launch of a new freight diesel locomotive, model SD70ACe, which surpasses new emissions tier 2 standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency for 2005. The first four SD70ACe locomotives have been built and are being tested to verify that all performance and reliability requirements are satisfied, according to a press report.

NJ TRANSIT AWARDS CONTRACT TO STUDY NEW RAIL TUNNEL: New Jersey Transit has awarded a $4.9-million contract for an environmental impact study on a new twin-tube rail tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan to the engineering firm of Parsons Brinkenhoff & Systra. The study is slated for completion by 2005. The entire tunnel project is estimated to cost up to $5-billion and take more than 10 years to complete.

CSXT TRAINS DELAYED BY COMPUTER VIRUS ATTACK: CSX Transportation experienced a computer virus attack on August 20 [2003] resulting in major delays to traffic including disruption of morning commuter train service in the Washington, D.C., area. Approximately one-third of the railroad was stalled for up to five hours with isolated problems continuing for another four days.

AMTRAK HAS RECORD RIDERSHIP MONTH: Amtrak carried 2,223,358 passengers in July [2003], making it the best month for ridership in the company's 32-year history. "Slowly but surely we are making improvements, and we are beginning to see results," said Amtrak president David Gunn. Fifteen Amtrak routes posted double-digit ridership gains in July versus the same month last year. The Texas Eagle led the way with a 49.8 percent increase.

CSX REPORTS 2-Q 2003 EARNINGS: CSX Corporation has reported second-quarter net earnings of $127-million or 59 cents per share, versus $135-million or 63 cents per share a year ago. For CSX's surface transportation units (rail and intermodal), revenue was $1.89-billion, up from $1.83-billion in the second quarter of 2002.

KINZUA VIADUCT IN PENNSYLVANIA COLLAPSES IN STORM: A major portion of the historic Kinzua Viaduct in Pennsylvania collapsed during a windstorm on July 21, 2003. The structure had been closed to excursion train service in June 2002 due to stability concerns, and then closed to pedestrians in August 2002.

NA TOWER IN MARTINSBURG, W.V., CLOSES: The century-old B&O interlocking office known as NA Tower in Martinsburg, West Virginia, has closed. Its final day of operation was July 19, 2003, when its signal control was removed, and the operators' positions were abolished effective 7:00 A.M. on July 30. The closing of NA Tower was part of a 23-mile switch and signal upgrade on CSXT's Cumberland Subdivision between Sandy Hook, Maryland, and Pearson, West Virginia. The project included the addition of three new control points, the modification of two others, and the retirement of another. MORE...

ROCK CREEK TRESTLE IN MARYLAND OPENED FOR TRAIL USE: The 80-foot-high former railroad trestle spanning Rock Creek in Montgomery County, Maryland, was officially opened to the public on May 31, 2003. It is part of the latest extension to the Georgetown Branch Trail in Chevy Chase for use by hikers and bikers. The $1.3-million rebuilding project involved reinforcement of the trestle, wood plank flooring, railings and observation decks. MORE...

UNION PACIFIC MUSEUM OPENS IN IOWA: The Union Pacific Railroad Museum officially opened at Council Bluffs, Iowa, on May 10, 2003. "We have a long and colorful history that began right here at mile marker zero," said UP chairman Dick Davidson at ceremonies to mark the opening. The museum is housed in the former Carnegie Library which has about 20,000 square feet of space on three levels displaying UP artifacts. This is the third Union Pacific Museum. Its first museum was opened in its Omaha headquarters in 1921. It was relocated to the Western Heritage Museum at the former Omaha Union Station in 1996. The new museum is located at 200 Pearl Street in Council Bluffs.

NEW SILVER SPRING, MD., COMMUTER TRAIN STATION OPENED: With little fanfare, MARC opened its new Silver Spring, Maryland, station on March 24,2003. It is located about a block and a half west (geographically north) of the former station, and is adjacent to the Washington Metro's Silver Spring stop. It is a portable structure tucked atop a slope perpendicular to the new westbound platform. The old station, which has been adapted to other uses, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Late last year it was rededicated following a restoration project to depict its appearance when it was built in 1945.

AMTRAK DROPPING 'ACELA' NAME FROM CONVENTIONAL TRAINS: Amtrak has decided to drop the 'Acela' brand name from its conventional trains operating between Boston and Washington. The Acela name will now be used exclusively to identify Amtrak's premier high-speed service. The name, a combination of acceleration and excellence, was announced in early 1999 to identify most trains operating in the Northeast Corridor once new high-speed train sets, then being built, were put into service. Trains then known as NortheastDirect were eventually renamed 'Acela Regional,' and they will now be known simply as 'Regional.' [Bull Sheet, April 2003]

CSXT MODIFIES FUEL COST RECOVERY PROGRAM: CSXT has announced a modification to its fuel cost recovery program. Under the new program, fuel surcharges will be adjusted up or down 0.4 percent for every dollar increase or decrease in oil prices above $23 per barrel. Charges will be determined monthly based on the 30-day average price of West Texas intermediate crude oil. [Bull Sheet, April 2003]

FRANKLIN CARR DIES, ADOPTED CHESSIE SYSTEM LOGO: Franklin J. Carr, who was responsible for most of the graphic images associated with the Chessie System era, including adapting the C&O sleeping kitten to the Chessie System logo and design of the company's locomotive paint scheme, died on March 16. He was 62.

UNION PACIFIC TESTING BATTERY-POWERED LOCOMOTIVE: Union Pacific is testing a hybrid battery-powered locomotive in its Chicago railyards to determine its feasibility as an alternative to conventional diesel locomotives. Called the 'Green Goat,' the locomotive could reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxides by as much as 90 percent, according to a UP report. It was tested in Roseville, California, last year, and then moved to Chicago in January of this year for cooler-weather testing, slated to continue until June 2003. [Bull Sheet, April 2003]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN FORMS MEXICAN SUBSIDIARY: Norfolk Southern has formed a Mexican subsidiary, NorfolkSouthernMexicana, to market the railroad's transportation and logistics services in Mexico. The subsidiary will serve both U.S. and Mexican customers involved in the NAFTA trades and further strengthen partnerships with western rail carriers, according to a company press release. [Bull Sheet, April 2003]

INTERMODAL SHIP-TO-RAIL FACILITY TO BE BUILT ON STATEN ISLAND: The New York and New Jersey Port Authority has approved plans to build a $72.5-million ship-to-rail intermodal facility at the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island. It will be located on a 38-acre parcel at a former Procter & Gamble site which the Port Authority purchased in 2000. [Bull Sheet, April 2003]

CSX ANNOUNCES EXTERIOR UPGRADE TO JACKSONVILLE HEADQUARTERS: CSX Corporation and CSX Transportation announced that the downtown Jacksonville headquarters will undergo an exterior upgrade beginning later this month. The building's exterior will be covered with a beige elastomeric coating. For the most part, the material will be applied over the blue and green tiles now in place. [CSX, 3-20-03]

B&O ROUNDHOUSE ROOF COLLAPSES: A major portion of the roof of the historic 1884 roundhouse of the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore came crashing down in the early morning hours of February 17, 2003. A record snowfall - officially 28.2 inches as recorded at BWI Airport - resulted in heavy weight, the apparent cause of the collapse. There were no injuries - nobody was inside the building at the time - but the roof fell upon a number of the displays that were housed within the roundhouse. An assessment of the damage to exhibits is ongoing, but it has been reported that two post-Civil War wooden coaches were destroyed. The damage also caused an indefinite closure of the museum. In the meantime, efforts to stabilize the roundhouse and protect its exhibits are top priorities. MORE..

CSX TO RELOCATE ITS CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS TO JACKSONVILLE: CSX Corporation has announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters from Richmond to Jacksonville. "This decision continues CSX's strategic evolution from a multimodal transportation company to a streamlined enterprise with greater focus on our railroad," said Michael Ward, CSX chairman, president and chief executive officer. He added that it made business sense to locate the headquarters to the same city as that of its major operating unit, CSX Transportation. [Bull Sheet, March 2003]

CSXT TO GET A NEW TRAIN DISPATCHING SYSTEM: CSXT has awarded a contract to Union Switch & Signal for the design and installation of a new train dispatching system for its transportation center in Jacksonville. The system will eventually replace the one that was installed in 1988. [Bull Sheet, March 2003]

UNION PACIFIC, CSXI TO EXPAND INTERMODAL SERVICE TO MEXICO: Union Pacific and CSX Intermodal have announced a joint enhanced rail/truck service to Mexico from the eastern and southeastern United States. The expanded "Passport Service" will move 48-foot trailers by rail to UP's intermodal facility in Laredo, Texas, where Union Pacific Carrier Services will arrange motor carrier moves to more than 100 destinations in Mexico. [Bull Sheet, March 2003]

MICHAEL WARD REPLACES JOHN SNOW AS CSX CHAIRMAN, CEO: Michael J. Ward, 52, president of CSX Corporation, was named its chairman and chief executive officer on January 31. Before being named president in July 2002, he was president of CSX Transportation. He also had served as executive vice president of operations, headed CSXT's Coal Business Unit, managed Conrail merger planning, and was the railroad's chief financial officer. A native of Baltimore, he has spent his 25-year business career with the railroad. [Bull Sheet, February 2002]

CHICAGO'S METRA TO EXPAND WITH NEW ROUTE: Chicago's Metra commuter service has announced plans to introduce a new route that will connect Joliet with O'Hare International Airport. Between Joliet and Prairie Stone, the line will utilize the existing Elgin, Joliet & Eastern; between Prairie Stone and Des Plaines a new connection will be built along Interstate 90; and between Des Plaines and the airport the line will utilize the CP Rail's freight corridor. To be called the STAR Line, the 55-mile route is slated to introduce a new fleet of state-of-the-art diesel multiple unit trains, according to an Association of American Railroads news report. [Bull Sheet, February 2002]

NEW RAILROAD RETIREMENT LEGISLATION SIGNED INTO LAW: President Bush has signed into law the Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001. It will permit railroaders with 30 years of service to retire at age 60 with full benefits and an interim health care plan financed by the carriers, and will increase widow and widower benefits by an average of $300 per month. The new law will also reduce to five years the vesting period for coverage under Railroad Retirement. A similar bill introduced in 2000 failed to reach a vote in the U.S. Senate. [Bull Sheet, January 2002]

BURKEVILLE, VA., DEPOT MOVED TO NEW SITE: The town of Burkeville, Virginia, has moved its 1915 railroad depot 200 yards from its original location into a park for use as a transportation and community center and museum. The building had been donated to the town by Norfolk Southern. [Bull Sheet, January 2002]

SAND PATCH TOWER DEMOLISHED: Sand Patch ("SA") Tower in Pennsylvania was demolished on December 21. Located at the "Summit of the Alleghenies," the 87-year-old brick tower had closed as an interlocking office on November 7, 2001.

CSX LOCOMOTIVE NAMED FOR EMPLOYEE: Western Region engineer Nick Goebel has not only worked for the railroad for more than 50 years, but he has also remained injury-free. To celebrate this accomplishment, a locomotive was named after him. Unit 2745 is now officially named "Nick's Engine." [CSX, December 2001]

BOMBARDIER SUES AMTRAK FOR ACELA COST OVERRUNS: Bombardier has sued Amtrak for at least $200-million in damages claiming "additional and unwarranted" costs it incurred because of delays and cost overruns in production of Acela Express trains. Bombardier contends that Amtrak had provided it with "inaccurate information" about tunnel dimensions, track geometry and electromagnetic interference in specifications for the equipment. [Bull Sheet, December 2001]

S.T.B. GIVES FAVORABLE REVIEW FOR POWER RIVER LINE: Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern has received a 'favorable environmental review' from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board over the railroad's proposal to build a 280-mile line and to upgrade 600 miles of old track to create a coal-hauling route from Wyoming's Powder River Basin to the Mississippi River in Minnesota. The review does not represent final approval, and the company will still need to arrange financing for the project. [Bull Sheet, December 2001]

BNSF COMPLETES SIGNAL UPGRADE IN ARIZONA: Burlington Northern Santa Fe has completed a $33-million, 117-mile signal upgrade between Winslow and Defiance, Arizona. The centralized traffic control system includes power crossovers at Hibbard, Holbrook, Adamana and Houck. [Bull Sheet, December 2001]

U.P. CREATES FOURTH OPERATING REGION: Union Pacific has created a fourth operating region. The new Central Region, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, includes the Kansas City, North Little Rock, St. Louis, and Wichita service units. UP's other regions are headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska; Roseville, California; and Spring, Texas. [Bull Sheet, December 2001]

CSXT, U.P. IMPROVE INTERLINE SERVICE: CSXT and Union Pacific have announced changes to their interline service which are designed to improve transit times and service consistency. Two of those changes include the creation of new blocks of traffic moving eastbound between North Little Rock and Cincinnati, and westbound between Cincinnati and Pine Bluff. The improvements are achieved by the railroads investing in two new trains and seven new block classifications that focus freight over targeted strategic gateways. Five major gateways have been identified. They are Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, Memphis and Salem/St. Elmo, Illinois. Transit time reductions are significant in both short and longer haul lanes, and CSX and UP believe these services will complement the high growth markets in Texas, the Ohio Valley, and Mexico, according to a press release.

U.P. TO TRANSPORT OLYMPIC TORCH IN SPECIAL TRAIN: Union Pacific will operate a train to transport the Olympic Flame to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, leaving from Atlanta on December 4. The 19-car passenger train, pulled by two specially painted locomotives, will feature a cauldron car originally built for the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay, the first time the flame moved by rail in the United States. The car's centerpiece is the 40-inch diameter cauldron, featuring a custom-designed burner that allows for up to a four-foot flame. A vertical air "curtain" will protect the flame from the wind as the train is moving, often at 70 miles per hour. This air curtain keeps the two million BTU flame from lapping the sides of the cauldron.

SAND PATCH TOWER CLOSES: From its lofty perch atop the "Summit of the Alleghenies," Sand Patch ("SA") Tower in Pennsylvania soldiered on in testimony to fine railroading tradition through nearly nine decades. On November 7, it closed. MORE.. [Bull Sheet, December 2001]

BNSF RESTRUCTURES OPERATING DEPARTMENT: Burlington Northern Santa Fe has announced a restructuring of its operating department. The number of divisions is being reduced to 13 from the previous 22, each led by a general manager who will report to one of three assistant vice presidents-operations. "We believe the new structure will advance our leadership model by providing our leaders with more opportunities to inspire a compelling vision, communicate and make development of our people a priority," said Carl Ice, executive vice president and chief operations officer. [Bull Sheet, November 2001]

U.P. TO BUILD INTERMODAL FACILITY IN ILLINOIS: Union Pacific has approved construction of a $181-million intermodal facility near Rochelle, Illinois, in an effort to increase the ability to handle efficiently the growing rail-truck freight market in the Chicago area. Rochelle is on UP's main line west of Chicago and served by interstates 39 and 88, as well as several state highways. UP had announced plans for a similar facility near Maple Park, Illinois, in early 2000, but plans for that facility were later canceled. [Bull Sheet, November 2001]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO BUILD INTERMODAL YARD IN PHILADELPHIA: Norfolk Southern has announced plans to build a major intermodal rail yard in Philadelphia on a 136-acre site at the former Navy Yard, now known as the Naval Business Center. The Delaware Port Authority intends to finance the $16-million cost of the project and lease the facility to Norfolk Southern. Construction is expected to take three years. The railroad has an option to expand the facility by an additional 33 acres at a later date, if needed. In addition to intermodal traffic, the company may also use the site for automotive and bulk cargo transfer, according to press reports. [Bull Sheet, October 2001]

UNION PACIFIC, NORFOLK SOUTHERN LAUNCH NEW CONTAINER SERVICE: Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern have launched a new intermodal container service between Los Angeles and Atlanta offering a guaranteed on-time delivery option. The service, called "Blue Streak," offers customers a choice of three service levels: Standard, Premium, and SuperFlyer. The latter service level offers "on-time-or-free" for each load that does not meet the scheduled availability time for customer pickup. [Bull Sheet, October 2001]

CSX PARTICIPATING IN MEXI-MODAL NETWORK: CSX Intermodal is now a participant in the 'Mexi-Modal' network which was launched early this summer by Burlington Northern Santa Fe to connect major markets in Mexico, the United States and Canada. CSXI's participation expands the network by adding major Northeastern U.S. markets, including Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. [Bull Sheet, October 2001]

BNSF, CSX ADD INTERMODAL SERVICE TO OHIO VALLEY: Burlington Northern Santa Fe and CSX Intermodal have begun offering "seamless intermodal service" from the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston areas to the Ohio Valley. The new service cuts rail transit times in half, according to a BNSF news release. [Bull Sheet, October 2001]

STB APPROVES CN'S ACQUISITION OF WISCONSIN CENTRAL: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has given its approval to Canadian National's acquisition of Wisconsin Central. [Bull Sheet, October 2001]

CANADIAN PACIFIC GETS APPROVAL FOR BREAKUP: Canadian Pacific has gotten final court approval for its breakup into five separate companies. The companies are: Canadian Pacific Railway, PanCanadian Energy, CP Ships, Fairmount Hotels & Resorts, and Fording Inc. [Bull Sheet, October 2001]

UNION PACIFIC, CSXT ADD PHILADELPHIA AS 'EXPRESS LANE' DESTINATION: Union Pacific and CSXT have added Philadelphia as a destination of their "Express Lane" service for perishable goods from the Western United States. Perishable goods shippers may guarantee the transit time of their shipments from the San Joaquin Valley in California, Idaho and selected points in Washington and Oregon to New York City, Boston, Atlanta, central Florida and Philadelphia. Union Pacific and CSXT will reimburse the shipper a portion of the shipping charge if the shipment does not arrive at its destination on time. [Bull Sheet, September 2001]

BNSF ADDS ATLANTA TO PREMIUM INTERMODAL SERVICE: Burlington Northern Santa Fe has begun premium intermodal service from Los Angeles and San Bernardino to Atlanta through a haulage agreement with CSX Intermodal. The service, which operates in both directions five days a week, is intended to improve transit times by about half a day. [Bull Sheet, September 2001]

UNION PACIFIC TO SPEED CHRYSLER DELIVERIES WITH NEW SUBSIDIARY: Union Pacific has formed a logistics subsidiary - Insight Network Logistics - to speed deliveries of new vehicles for Chrysler. The new subsidiary will manage delivery to dealers throughout North America. Current deliveries average 12 days, and these are expected to decrease to nine days within one year, and to six days within five years. [Bull Sheet, September 2001]

UNION PACIFIC TO INCREASE CAPACITY AT PORT LAREDO FACILITY: Union Pacific Railroad is spending $12.3-million this year and $3.5-million in 2002 to increase capacity and improve its Port Laredo, Texas, intermodal and rail yard facility in an effort to meet the continuing growth of rail traffic to and from Mexico, according to a UP report. The project is expected to be completed in 2002. Union Pacific has invested nearly $40-million in the Port Laredo facility since it opened in 1990. [Bull Sheet, September 2001]

BNSF TO BUILD NEW RAIL LINE IN TEXAS: San Jacinto Rail Limited, a partnership comprised of Burlington Northern Santa Fe and shipping affiliates, has announced plans to build an $80-million alternate rail line between Houston and the Bayport Industrial District in Texas. The project, which will compete with Union Pacific, is designed to provide competitive access for plastics and chemical shippers, according to a BNSF report. [Bull Sheet, September 2001]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN OPENS INTERMODAL HUB NEAR ATLANTA: Norfolk Southern has opened its new Southeastern Intermodal Hub in Austell, Georgia, near Atlanta. It is designed to speed the flow of containerized freight between the Northeast and Southwest, and between the Northwest and Southeast. [Bull Sheet, September 2001]

CSX ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF NEW AUXILIARY POWER UNIT: CSXT has announced the development of a new locomotive operating system. The system is designed to reduce fuel consumption and meet new Environmental Protection Agency limits that will go into effect beginning January 1, 2002. It is estimated that the system will save 8000 gallons of fuel per locomotive per year - a total yearly savings of 25-30 million gallons for the company. The system will incorporate an auxiliary power unit that automatically shuts down the main locomotive idle, while maintaining all vital main engine systems at a greatly reduced level of fuel consumption. In addition, nitrous oxide emissions will be cut by 92 percent while the locomotive is idling. CSXT has joined with International Road and Rail - a Canadian-based company - to manufacture and sell the new systems. The joint venture company, EcoTrans Technologies, will be based in Jacksonville. [CSXT, 8-9-01]

CHEMICAL FROM CSXT TUNNEL FIRE MAY HAVE CAUSED EXPLOSIONS 3 WEEKS LATER: At approximately 6AM August 11, 2001, there was an explosion within an underground sewer at the intersection of Pratt and Light streets at Harborplace in downtown Baltimore, causing a 300-pound manhole cover to fly about four feet into the air. MORE..

CSX CUTS QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: CSX Corporation has reduced its quarterly dividend from 30 cents per share to 10 cents per share effective with its next dividend payment due September 14, 2001. "This is a positive, not defensive, step we are taking," said chairman and CEO John Snow in a July 11 letter to employees. He added that the company feels it can increase returns to shareholders by using the reduced dividend to strengthen its balance sheet and foster growth. Meanwhile, the company reported net income for the second quarter from continuing operations of $108-million or 51 cents per share, up from $48-million or 23 cents per share for the same quarter a year earlier. "These results indicate clearly that the railroad had turned the corner and is starting to regain sustainable earnings momentum," the company said in a statement.

BNSF TO CONSTRUCT 7-MILE RAIL LINE IN TEXAS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe announced on June 27 that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has approved BNSF's plan to construct a seven-mile rail line between Kamey and Seadrift, Texas, pending STB environmental review. The review is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter, prior to the statutory deadline of February 1, 2002. Construction is planned to begin in the first quarter of 2002 and is expected to be completed in 2003. The new line will serve Dow Chemical's plant in Seadrift.

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation has reported second-quarter 2001 net earnings of $243-million or 95 cents a share, compared with $244-million or 96 cents a share for the same quarter a year earlier. The company also lowered earnings expectations for the rest of the year.

FUNDS COMMITTED TO BALTIMORE LIGHT-RAIL DOUBLE-TRACK PROJECT: The federal government has committed $120-million to complete double-tracking of Baltimore's light-rail system. The project is expected to be completed in 2006.

CSXT TRAIN FIRE IN BALTIMORE'S HOWARD STREET TUNNEL: At approximately 3:10 PM July 18, 2001, a CSXT freight train caught fire within the Howard Street Tunnel in downtown Baltimore. MORE..

CSXT COMPLETES CONSOLIDATION OF CUSTOMER OPERATIONS CENTER: The consolidation of the Pittsburgh Customer Operations Center to Jacksonville is now complete. Over the past six months, more than 115 former Conrail employees have moved their homes from the Northeast to Florida. [CSXT, 7-12-01]

U.S. ISSUES NEW RULES ON RAIL MERGERS: The Surface Transportation Board has issued new rules regarding railroad mergers. Such transactions will now require applicants to show how the merger will enhance rail competition and to be accountable for producing the merger benefits they promise. At the same time, the board lifted its moratorium on railroad mergers that it had imposed in March 2000 in the wake of the application - since withdrawn - for a merger between Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Canadian National. [Bull Sheet, July 2001]

UNION PACIFIC TO BUILD NEW HEADQUARTERS IN OMAHA: Union Pacific has announced plans to build a $260-million headquarters building in downtown Omaha, just south of its existing headquarters. To be called Union Pacific Center, the 19-story building is expected to be completed in 2004. [Bull Sheet, July 2001]

AMTRAK USING N.Y. PENN STATION AS LOAN COLLATERAL: Amtrak will put up two concourses of New York's Pennsylvania Station as collateral for a $300-million loan to meet operating expenses through September. "This transaction is not unlike steps taken by other private-sector companies to secure operating cash," said George Warrington, president of Amtrak. The transaction was approved by Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation. [Bull Sheet, July 2001]

CSX SELLS PORT COVINGTON SITE: CSX sold its interest in the site called Port Covington in South Baltimore in March 2001 for more than $12.5-million. CSX, working with the Maryland Department of the Environment, helped to ensure that the land was suitable for public use after its industrial past. "This is one of the first Brownfields sites - former urban industrial land reclaimed for use - to be approved by the State of Maryland for redevelopment," said Randy Evans, CSXT vice president-real estate and industrial development. The Baltimore Sun newspaper built its current printing plant on the location in the early 1990s, in anticipation of the area's revitalization. [CSX, 6-22-01]

BNSF OPENS INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN STOCKTON: Burlington Northern Santa Fe opened a new $80-million intermodal terminal in Stockton, California, May 11. Occupying 425 acres, the facility is designed to improve the efficiency of moving merchandise into and out of Northern California, giving customers access to the interstate highway system and other railroads. It contains two loading and unloading tracks, averaging 7,000 feet in length, with the capacity to hold approximately 150 intermodal railcars. Three storage tracks will accommodate an additional 230 intermodal railcars and will have more than 800 container and trailer parking spaces. [Bull Sheet, June 2001]

CSX REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation says its first-quarter net earnings were $20-million, or 10 cents a diluted share, compared to $29-million, or 14 cents a share, in the same period last year. The decline was in spite of a strong showing in coal shipments to utilities. Revenue for the quarter was $2.03-billion. [Bull Sheet, May 2001]

UNION PACIFIC INTRODUCES 'BOXCAR SHUTTLE TRAIN' ON WEST COAST: A 'boxcar shuttle train' has been launched by Union Pacific that gives shippers truck-like speed and delivery with boxcar economics between the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. UP and logistics provider Speedlink, a subsidiary of Genessee & Wyoming, have teamed to offer 'one-call, door-to-door, multiple-stop service with inventory control, direct store delivery,' according to a UP report. [Bull Sheet, May 2001]

WISCONSIN CENTRAL SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE ACQUISITION BY CANADIAN NATIONAL: The shareholders of Wisconsin Central have approved the company's acquisition by Canadian National for $800-million and assumption of $400-million in WC debt. [Bull Sheet, May 2001]

B&P TOWER COMES BACK TO LIFE: The former B&P Junction interlocking tower, which from 1910 until 1988 served the south end of Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station, is once again alive and well. Its new home is in Sykesville, Maryland, where the building now serves as a welcome and information center. Its upstairs office portion is now open to the public the first Sunday of every month where members of the S&P (Sykesville & Patapsco) Railway are modeling the area in N-scale. It is an ongoing project. [Bull Sheet, May 2001]

BNSF, NORFOLK SOUTHERN INTRODUCE NON-STOP INTERMODAL SERVICE: Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Norfolk Southern have announced they are partnering non-stop intermodal service for container loads between California and the East Coast. The new service reduces transit times by at least a day. West Coast cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino will be linked to Eastern cities including Harrisburg, Baltimore, Norfolk, and the New York area. The service, which was announced April 19, became effective immediately. [Joint BNSF/NS announcement, 4-19-01]

UNION PACIFIC SELLS RAIL LINE IN IOWA: Union Pacific announced on April 9 that it has sold about 37 miles of its rail line between Allendorf and Superior, Iowa, to the Dickenson-Osceola Railway Association (DORA)... The DORA will be operated by General Railway Corporation... A track to interchange rail cars between Union Pacific and the DORA will be constructed in the near future near Superior. [Union Pacific, 4-9-01]

AMTRAK TO EXPAND ITS ACELA EXPRESS SERVICE: Amtrak will double its Acela Express service between Boston, Providence and New York on April 29, providing two morning and two afternoon roundtrip trains on weekdays, and introduce weekend service. [Bull Sheet, April 2001]

BRITAIN TO UPGRADE ITS RAIL SYSTEM: Britain's Strategic Rail Authority has announced a 10-year, $88-billion plan to upgrade the country's railway system... Its goal is to promote a 50 pct increase in passenger business and an 80 pct increase in freight for the network, according to news reports. [Bull Sheet, April 2001]

OPERATING INCOME AHEAD OF BUSINESS PLAN, CSXT PRESIDENT SAYS: "Our financial performance is trending in the right direction," said Michael Ward, CSXT president, in a letter to employees... "After two months, operating income is ahead of our 2001 business plan. This was accomplished on slightly less traffic compared to the same period last year... Overall, the efforts to turn locomotives and cars faster and reduce fuel consumption are helping to keep expenses in check.".. But in the issue of safety, he added, "Yet these results through two months are tempered by our inability to dramatically improve our safety performance.".. He said that special teams are evaluating safety practices in the field to capture the best ones and make them available to others. [Bull Sheet, April 2001]

BNSF TO EXPAND SERVICE GUARANTEE: Burlington Northern Santa Fe will extend its money-back service guarantees for intermodal shipments to four new routes - Memphis-San Bernardino, Chicago-Denver, St. Paul-Portland, and St. Paul-Seattle - for a total of 10 being offered by the company. [Bull Sheet, April 2001]

AMTRAK REFORM COUNCIL ISSUES ITS REPORT TO CONGRESS: The Amtrak Reform Council has recommended that the Northeast Corridor be turned over to a separate authority... This was one of several recommendations made in the council's annual report to Congress... The Amtrak Reform Council does not make policy, just recommendations... Among other suggestions the council made, Amtrak should be divided into a government entity and train operating company, and to consolidate all federal oversight and responsibilities... The council noted that Amtrak is running $100-million behind its business plan and has tripled its debt to $3-billion through sale and lease-back of equipment. [Bull Sheet, April 2001]

MILLER TOWER MOVED TO NEW HOME: CSXT's former Miller Tower at Cherry Run, W.Va., was moved in sections to its new home in nearby Martinsburg in a police-escorted military convoy on Sunday, February 4. MORE.. [Bull Sheet, March 2001]

PETE CARPENTER RETIRES FROM CSXT: Alvin R. 'Pete' Carpenter, vice chairman of CSX Corporation and formerly president of CSXT, has announced his retirement after a 38-year career... He will continue as a consultant to CSX. [Bull Sheet, March 2001]

AMTRAK INTRODUCES 'QUIET CARS' TO NORTHEAST CORRIDOR TRAINS: In response to requests from customers, Amtrak has begun adding "quiet cars" to selected Northeast Corridor trains... A quiet car prohibits the use of cell phones, beepers, noisy laptops, and loud conversation... The feature began February 1 on the 9 a.m. Metroliners from New York and Washington respectively; more trains have since been added. [Bull Sheet, March 2001]

CSX REPORTS 4-Q, YEAR-ENDING EARNINGS: CSX Corporation reported fourth-quarter net income of $54-million or 26 cents a diluted share, compared to a net loss of $25-million or 12 cents a share, in the fourth-quarter a year earlier... For the full year 2000, CSX net income from continuing operations was $186-million, 88 cents per share, compared to $32-million, 15 cents per share, in 1999... Excluding one-time items, 2000 full-year operating income for CSX was down from a year ago, reflecting lower earnings from rail and intermodal in the first half. [CSX]

CSX ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF 'TRANSFLO' CORPORATION: CSX Corporation has announced the formation of TRANSFLO Corporation, a business unit that will provide 'rail-centric transloading, materials management, and distribution services' across North America... The new corporation - formed from CSX TransFlo, a network of primarily bulk product transloading facilities in the Eastern United States - assumes operation of the 72 terminals and marketing of the network of more than 160 locations, offering its services across the continent. [CSX]

WESTERN MARYLAND SCENIC R.R. REORGANIZED: The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and Allegany County Convention and Visitors Bureau have been consolidated into a new entity to be known as Destination Allegany... According to a press report, Destination Allegany, which had been recommended in a consultant's plan, will have a budget of about $250,000 to spend on marketing... Jerry Hess, executive director of the convention and visitors bureau, will head the new organization. [Bull Sheet, March 2001]

CANADIAN NATIONAL TO BUY WISCONSIN CENTRAL: Canadian National has reached a deal to purchase Wisconsin Central for $800-million... It will also assume $400-million in Wisconsin Central debt. [Bull Sheet, March 2001]

GREGORY WEBER NAMED PRESIDENT OF CONRAIL: Gregory R. Weber has been named president of Conrail, effective February 1, succeeding Timothy O'Toole... Conrail is a jointly-owned subsidiary of CSX and Norfolk Southern. [Bull Sheet, March 2001]

FORMER ROANOKE DEPOT BURNS: The former Virginian Railway passenger station in Roanoke, Va,, was severely damaged by fire on January 29, 2001. [Bull Sheet, March 2001]

MILLER TOWER TO BE MOVED TO NEW HOME: The Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority in Martinsburg, W.Va., has acquired the former B&O Miller Tower at Cherry Run, West Virginia, for removal to the roundhouse complex for historical preservation and display... The tower closed on September 24, 2000. [Bull Sheet, March 2001]

CSX ACTS TO AVOID CREW LAYOFFS: CSXT will add a third person to some two-member crews and transfer others to different territories to avoid layoffs affecting about 650 workers following an agreement with the employees' union... According to a press report, the expense of keeping the workers employed will be offset by reduced training costs. [CSXT, 1-10-01]

MICHAEL WARD NAMED PRESIDENT OF CSXT: Michael Ward, 50, has been named president of CSX Transportation... Formerly he was executive vice president of operations and rail network performance... He began his career with the former Chessie System in Baltimore in 1977, moving from finance to coal sales and marketing... He was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of CSXT in 1996, and he organized and led the planning effort that preceded the split of Conrail beginning in 1998... The position of president of CSXT had been vacated in April of last year with the departure of Ron Conway, and the duties of the office were assumed in the interim by John Snow, chairman and chief executive officer of CSX Corporation. [CSXT]

CSXT CONSOLIDATING SERVICE CENTERS: CSXT begins Jan. 2001 the consolidation process of its (formerly Conrail) National Customer Service Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the CSXT Customer Service Center in Jacksonville, Florida, into one location in Jacksonville... The consolidation will be accomplished in six phases, scheduled for completion in May... More than 150 positions - contract and non-contract - will be transferred. [CSXT]

MATT ROSE ELECTED CEO OF BNSF: Matt Rose, 41, has been elected chief executive officer of Burlington Northern Santa Fe... He joined the Burlington Northern in 1993, and was named vice president-vehicles and machinery in 1994... Following the merger with Santa Fe in 1995, he was named vice president-Merchandise Business Unit, and in 1997 he was appointed senior vice president and chief operations officer... He replaces Rob Krebs, 58, who continues as chairman. [Bull Sheet, January 2001]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO BUY 160 SIX-AXLE LOCOMOTIVES IN 2001: Norfolk Southern plans to buy 160 six-axle locomotives in 2001, The purchase is part of a $224-million budget which also includes upgrades to some existing locomotives and the rebuilding of automobile carrying cars, according to a news report... Overall, the company plans to boost its capital spending in 2001 to $806-million, compared to $747-million in 2000. [Bull Sheet, January 2001]

BWI RAIL STATION TO EXPAND PARKING: Construction is under way to increase the number of parking spaces at the BWI Railroad Station garage... Under this project, two new floors will be added to the existing facility, and a new seven-story garage will be constructed on an adjacent surface... When completed by the end of next year, over 3200 parking spaces will be available to Amtrak and MARC patrons. [Bull Sheet, January 2001]

WEST CUMBO TOWER DEMOLISHED: CSXT's former West Cumbo Tower was demolished December 27, 2000... It had closed November 21.

WEST VIRGINIA NORTHERN FILES FOR ABANDONMENT: The West Virginia Northern Railroad has filed for abandonment... If there is no intervention, the abandonment could become official on January 20. [Bull Sheet, January 2001]

ALLEN BROUGHAM RETIRES: Allen Brougham, editor of the Bull Sheet, retired from his job with CSXT following his last day of duty December 10, 2000... At the time of his retirement, he was second-shift operator at the interlocking tower in Hancock, West Virginia. MORE..