Back Issues


Main Page


VIRGINIA PANEL URGES ADDING RAIL STATEWIDE: As the Va. General Assembly prepares to take up Gov. Mark Warner's plan to boost transportation spending, rail advocates are pushing for a bigger investment in the state's high-speed train system, according to the Washington Post. Virginia needs more fast trains to connect its suburbs, cities and rural areas, a commission of rail experts concluded in a report released this month. And freight service in the Old Dominion needs beefing up, the report said, to get more trucks off the road and allow more passenger trains to travel faster and farther along freight lines. From 1970 to 2003, the number of miles of long-distance railroad in Virginia dropped by about half, either disappearing or turning into short-line railroads. Highway miles grew dramatically, but not fast enough to handle all of the traffic on them. Existing rail service does not connect every corner of the state and is not always fast or dependable, especially when passenger lines share freight tracks, with choke points that slow trains. [United Transportation Union, 12-30-04, from article by Lisa Rein published by the Washington Post]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC UP DURING CHRISTMAS WEEK: Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was up sharply during the week ended December 25 in comparison with the corresponding week last year, the Association of American Railroads has reported. Both weeks included the Christmas holiday. Intermodal volume totaled 167,884 trailers or containers, up 25.7 percent from the comparable week last year. Trailer volume rose 27.7 percent while container traffic gained 25.0 percent. Carload freight, which doesn't include the intermodal data, totaled 272,421 cars, up 7.0 percent from last year, with volume up 14.9 percent in the East and 2.0 percent in the West. Total volume was estimated at 25.6 billion ton-miles, up 8.0 percent from 2003. Fourteen of 19 carload commodities registered gains from last year. [Association of American Railroads, 12-30-04]

NEW RAILROAD MUSEUM PLANNED IN GREAT FALLS, MONTANA: A building at the fairgrounds in Great Falls will be devoted entirely to a new railroad museum, featuring a train layout that a late Cascade rancher built over a span of 50 years. Cascade County commissioners recently decided that the Hobbies and Crafts Building at Montana ExpoPark will be available to the Great Falls Model Railroad Club, for its new Montana Museum of Railroad History. Model railroaders already use about one-third of the building for a train layout that is a popular attraction at the State Fair. A different one, created by the late Pete Ellis of Cascade and measuring 50 by 80 feet, will be the centerpiece of the new museum. It also will have an 800-volume railroad library and railroad artifacts, said Jack Dykstra, spokesman for the museum steering committee. Ellis was a member of the Great Falls club for many years, held a Master Modeler certificate from the National Model Railroad Association and was hired by the Disney company to present workshops on creation of dioramas. His heirs plan to give the club both his "Treasure State Railway" layout and the library, Dykstra said. Ellis' rail scene depicts Montana in miniature, from prairie to mountains, and includes portrayals of cattle ranching, grain farming, mining, logging and towns. Mountain areas feature tunnels and bridges that illustrate the challenges in crossing Montana's rugged terrain. Dykstra said that despite the railroad's importance in the development of Montana, the state does not have a railroad museum. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-30-04, from Associated Press]

WATCO LEASES TRACKAGE FROM BNSF IN OKLAHOMA: The Stillwater Central Railroad (SLWC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Watco Companies, began operations December 29 of approximately 15 additional miles of track that connects two of its existing railroad subdivisions in Oklahoma. Through a lease agreement with BNSF, the SLWC assumed operations between Wheatland and Oklahoma City. Thirty customers are served, predominantly industrial switching customers. Commodities primarily moved on the addition include steel, chemical, food, forest products and building materials. In addition to the track miles, SLWC also will take over operation of BNSF's North Yard in Oklahoma City, allowing SLWC to partner with BNSF and move BNSF traffic from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. [BNSF Today, 12-29-04]

WATCO ACQUIRES BNSF LINES IN MONTANA: The Mission Mountain Railroad, a wholly owned subsidiary of Watco Companies, will begin operations of 40 miles of track in Montana Tuesday morning, Dec. 28, 2004. Acquired through a lease and purchase agreement with The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF), the Mission Mountain Railroad (MMT) consists of two separate lines. The north line begins at Eureka and extends south to Stryker. The south line begins at Columbia Falls and extends southwest to Kalispell. Interchanges with the BNSF are located at Stryker and Columbia Falls. Primarily moving forest products and grain, the MMT will serve 12 customers at 15 locations, and is expected to move more than 9,000 rail cars the first year. [BNSF, 12-27-04]

RAIL VIADUCT IN MISSISSIPPI TO GET MAKEOVER: A multimillion dollar facelift for the railroad tracks downtown Jackson, Mississippi, promises to beautify the western edge of the district. Construction will begin in the spring on the Mill Street viaduct from Amite to Pascagoula streets. Plans include a market, clock tower, a brick facade for the bridge and wider sidewalks. The cost has been estimated at $7-million. The city recently requested construction bids, and work could last about 18 months. The bridge is now covered by a hodgepodge of colorful murals. Spaces underneath the tracks have been home to vagrants over the years. Three artists have been chosen to create pieces for the project. The Jackson City Council approved a license agreement Tuesday [Dec.21] that allows construction workers onto the right-of-way of the CN - formerly Canadian National - railroad. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-27-04, from story by Laura Hipp on the Clarion-Ledger website]

KANSAS CITY PARES DOWN UNION STATION RAIL MUSEUM PLANS: Plans to create a rail museum at Union Station by early next year that would be among the top such attractions in the United States have been pared down because of money, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Six months ago, Union Station's board voted to pay a Milwaukee collector $650,000 for 11 antique rail cars and a vast collection of railroad memorabilia packed inside them. A consultant estimated the museum would attract 250,000 visitors in Kansas City and have first-year admission revenue of $1.3-million - with an operating surplus. Now the station is looking to fix up five of the rail cars for tours at the museum and sell the other six, along with some of the duplicate memorabilia. The projected opening date is pushed back to the end of next year, and attendance estimates have been lowered to between 100,000 and 150,000 a year. Sean O'Byrne, shortly after being named interim director in June, persuaded the Union Station board to buy the rail collection. He said he still thinks the rail museum can succeed, but he is playing down expectations so there is some wiggle room when it comes time to determine that success. The collection was purchased with money left over from the 1996 bistate tax that funded the station's renovation. O'Byrne said another $1-million is needed to get the collection ready and set up the display. About 30 volunteers, directed by consultant Pete Hansen, spent two months sifting through rail memorabilia that was in the rail cars and cataloging it in a database. [United Transportation Union, 12-27-04, from story published by St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

STB APPROVES COLUMBUS & OHIO ACQUISITION & LEASE OF CSX LINE IN OHIO: Last week, the Surface Transportation Board approved the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad Co.'s (CUOH) plan to acquire and lease from CSX Transportation a total of 120 track miles in Ohio. CUOH will acquire about 38 track miles between Columbus and Newark, and lease about 82 track miles between Cambridge and Mt. Vernon. CSXT also will assign to the 160-mile short line incidental trackage rights to a 1.5-mile line in Zanesville operated by Ohio Southern Railroad Inc. CUOH and Ohio Southern are owned and operated by Ohio Central Railroad Inc., which owns eight other short lines operating in Ohio and Pennsylvania. [, 12-27-04]

OMNITRAX SEEKS TO LEASE & OPERATE CSX LINE IN ALABAMA: OmniTRAX Inc. has filed an exemption notice with the Surface Transportation Board to lease about 122 track miles in Alabama from CSX Transportation. The transaction includes a line between Birmingham and Guntersville, and a branch line in Moragne. OmniTRAX - which owns and operates 10 short lines in the United States and Canada - plans to establish new short line Alabama & Tennessee River Railway L.L.C. to operate the lines. [, 12-27-04]

RAILROADS SET RECORD FOR TOTAL FREIGHT VOLUME: With two reporting weeks remaining in the year, U.S. railroads have already moved more total freight during 2004 than any other year on record, the Association of American Railroads reported December 23. The AAR reported that railroads moved 31.7 billion ton-miles of freight during the week ended December 18, 2.3 percent more than in the comparable week a year ago. This brought total volume for the year to an estimated 1.555 trillion ton-miles, 4.9 percent more than during the first 50 weeks of 2003 when the previous full year record of 1.551 trillion ton-miles was set. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-23-04]

TEMPORARY AMTRAK STATION OPENS IN ST. LOUIS: A new temporary Amtrak station opened Dec. 20 in St. Louis. The new site is approximately 500 yards west of the old site. The move was necessary because the old site needed to be demolished to make way for the permanent Intermodal Transportation Center that will begin construction in the New Year. The temporary facility will eventually become the Train and Engine Crew headquarters in the new complex due to be completed in late 2006. Amtrak had been at the former facility, which was essentially two double-wide trailers hooked together, since being evicted from St. Louis Union Station in 1978. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-23-04]

AMTRAK LOUNGE CAR DERAILS IN INDIANA: On Sunday, December 19, the lounge car of the westbound Lake Shore Limited derailed west of LaPorte, IN, while the train was traveling at the authorized speed of 79 mph. No passengers were injured and the train remained inline and upright. Most passengers were transferred to the Capitol Limited, which pulled along side, while others stayed aboard the Lake Shore's front cars for the ride to Chicago. Initial reports point to anAmtrak broken wheel as the cause. Then, the following day, a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed at the same location. Press accounts noted speculation that the Amtrak accident weakened the track and thus led to the freight accident. This time, passengers on both the westbound Capitol and Lake Shore were bussed to Chicago, while the equipment deadheaded there on the Canadian National (Grand Trunk) railroad once a pilot engineer could be obtained. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-23-04]

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR COMES TO AID OF SEPTA: Gov. Rendell has announced $13-million in stopgap state aid - much of it financed by postponing local road projects - to keep SEPTA from slashing service next month and raising fares to the highest levels in the United States, according to this report by Jere Downs and John Sullivan published by the Philadelphia Inquirer. "This will allow our transit systems to postpone cuts and fare hikes until March, but it will do no more than that," Rendell said at a news conference at SEPTA's 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby. Rendell called on the Republican-dominated state legislature to work on a fix for mass-transit funding at a special session beginning Jan. 17. That is a week before SEPTA plans to implement the first of two fare increases to bring its $2 cash fare to $3 and end 20 percent of weekday service. The Rendell relief appeared likely to stall SEPTA fare increases and cuts until late February or early March. The SEPTA board will finalize its plans at a meeting Dec. 30. The relief for SEPTA is part of an $18.8-million package Rendell announced for commuters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and for 29 other transit agencies statewide. [United Transportation Union, 12-22-04, from report by Jere Downs and John Sullivan published by Philadelphia Inquirer]

BNSF BOOSTS MONTANA WORKFORCE: A railroad official said Tuesday (Dec. 21) that Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) has added more than 200 new employees in Montana over the past year, according to this Associated Press report. BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the hiring was prompted by increased business nationally, a shortage of truck drivers and better railroad technology. "The economy is strong and BNSF is taking steps to meet the growing needs of local, national and international customers," Melonas said in a telephone interview with The Daily Inter Lake. Train traffic has increased over the last five years from an average of 35 freight trains a day rolling through Whitefish to more than 40 trains a day now, he said. The new local jobs, most of them based in Whitefish, include 30 engine/conductor positions and 10 track-maintenance positions. More may be added based on future needs, Melonas said. The Whitefish rail yard employs 235 workers with an annual payroll of $11-million, not including benefits, based on data supplied by the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce. Outside Flathead County, the railroad has added employees in Havre, Glasgow, Glendive, Great Falls and Cut Bank and has spent $40-million this year to upgrade tracks throughout the state, including the Hi-Line, Melonas said. [United Transportation Union, 12-22-04, from Associated Press]

UNION PACIFIC EXPECTS HIGHER 4-Q EARNINGS: Shares of Union Pacific Corp. surged on Tuesday [Dec.21] after the company said it was raising its fourth-quarter outlook, despite a charge of $153.6-million - or 58 cents a share - to reflect an increase in its liability of asbestos-related claims. Excluding the 58-cent per-share charge, the company expects fourth-quarter earnings to range from 82 cents to 87 cents. That far outpaces its previous estimates of 65 cents to 75 cents per share. On Tuesday, the company's stock rose $3.42, or 5.5 percent, to close at $65.67 on the New York Stock Exchange. The increased outlook primarily reflects stronger-than-anticipated commodity revenue growth of 8 percent, the company said Tuesday in a written release. That's up from the 5 percent growth originally anticipated. Partially offsetting that growth are continued high operating expenses, the company said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-21-04, from Associated Press]

NEW YORK CONTAINER TERMINAL ASSUMES OPERATION OF STATEN ISLAND INTERMODAL FACILITY: Last week, New York Container Terminal Inc. (NYCT) took over operations of the former Howland Hook intermodal terminal in Staten Island, N.Y. The port terminal operations company and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are spending more than $300-million to transform the terminal into a port featuring a 38-acre on-dock rail facility designed to handle 250,000 containers annually and a warehouse. NYCT will focus on completing a $180-million project linking Staten Island to railroads' New Jersey mainlines and the on-dock rail facility to begin providing warehousing and distribution services. The company also is developing plans for a 1,200-foot berth that would be located adjacent to the terminal and built within two years. [, 12-21-04]

BNSF HAULS ONE BILLIONTH TON OF BLACK THUNDER COAL: BNSF moved Arch Coal's one-billionth-ton coal shipment from its Black Thunder Mine in Wyoming on Dec. 17, twenty-seven years after the mine's first coal shipment on Dec. 14, 1977. Today, Black Thunder produces nearly 10 percent of the U.S. coal supply. That's enough coal to provide electricity to 5.8 million American households. So far this year, BNSF has hauled over 37 million tons of coal out of Black Thunder Mine. Black Thunder's low-sulfur coal is shipped to more than 23 states and two foreign countries. Nearly all of Black Thunder's customers use the coal to generate electricity, including more than 100 U.S. coal-fired units. [BNSF Today, 12-21-04]

WASHINGTON METRO OPENS BLUE LINE EXTENSION: On Dec. 18, officials from Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the state of Maryland and Prince George's County, Md., opened the Blue Line extension from the Addison Road-Seat Pleasant Metrorail station to Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center. The 3.1-mile, two station extension is the first line to extend beyond WMATA's original 103-mile system. The $456-million line includes two miles of underground track, a half-mile of aerial structure track, and more than half a mile of at-grade track. The extension will serve as a catalyst to revive and renew the community, officials believe. The Largo Town Center station will serve the new shopping complex at the Boulevard at Capital Center, Prince George's county offices and adjacent communities. It features two parking structures with 2,200 spaces and an underground storage yard designed to accommodate up to 36 passenger cars. The extension includes four crossovers, enabling trains to cross between inbound to outbound tracks to reduce delays. [, 12-20-04]

FRA DENIES UNION PACIFIC REQUEST TO INSPECT TRAINS IN MEXICO: The Union Pacific's request to inspect safety critical equipment on its trains in Mexico was denied today [Dec.17] by the Federal Railroad Administration. The Union Pacific had sought a waiver that would have allowed inspection and tests of its locomotives to be performed by employees of Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM). The waiver, if granted by the FRA, would have allowed the TFM railroad to inspect the equipment and fulfill the requirements of "Pre-Departure Inspection," "229.21 Locomotive Daily Inspection," "End-of-Train Device Testing and Inspection," and the all important, "Initial Terminal Class I Brake Test." The trains then would have been allowed to move into the U.S. for a distance of up to 1,000 miles before receiving another inspection. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-17-04]

CAPITOL CORRIDOR HAS BEST PERFORMANCE MONTH:California's Capitol Corridor enjoyed its best month of performance ever. November's results featured 98.5 percent on time performance on Union Pacific Railroad tracks, an 11.5 percent increase in passenger loadings, and a 16.7 percent increase in revenue. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-17-04]

ACTING FRA ADMINISTRATOR BETTY MONRO RETIRES: The Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Acting Administrator Betty Monro today (Dec. 17) issued a letter announcing her retirement. Monro joined the Department of Transportation as deputy administrator of the FRA in the summer of 2001 and was appointed acting administrator by President George W. Bush in June 2004. She replaced Allan Rutter, who left the post after announcing his resignation on April 30, 2004. Rutter subsequently took a position as deputy executive director of the North Texas Tollway Authority. Monro served as chief of staff to former FRA Administrator Gilbert Carmichael from 1991 to 1993, and was special assistant for aviation policy to former DOT Secretary Sam Skinner from 1989 to 1991. [United Transportation Union, 12-17-04]

CSXT FACES LAWSUIT OVER CONTAMINATION AT TIE TREATMENT PLANT: A coalition of attorneys announced December 16 they filed a lawsuit in a Florida county court against CSX Transportation seeking $500-million in damages for injuries to Hull, Florida., area residents caused by chemicals remaining from a former wood-tie treatment facility. Closed for more than 50 years, the facility was operated for more than 30 years by several CSXT predecessors. The lawsuit claims that the toxic and carcinogenic chemicals continue to contaminate soil, groundwater, air and plaintiffs' properties, posing a threat to area residents and the plaintiffs, and reducing property values. [, 12-17-04]

JOHN WEST NAMED CSX TECHNOLOGY PRESIDENT: John L. West, CSX Technology vice president applications development for Cybernetics & Services, has been named president of CSX Technology effective January 1. He succeeds Charles Wodehouse Jr., who is retiring. West will report to Oscar Munoz, CSX Corporation executive vice president and chief commercial officer. [CSX, 12-17-04]

PLANE LANDS AT BNSF'S BARSTOW YARD: An 80-year-old woman was unhurt after her airplane ran out of fuel and made an emergency nighttime landing between railroad tracks at the BNSF inspection yard in Barstow, Calif., reports the Daily Press in Victorville, Calif. Sgt. Albert Ramirez from the Barstow Police Department said an officer spotted the Cessna Skyhawk flying low over Barstow around 10 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12. "The 80-year-old female pilot landed in the inspection yard," Ramirez said. "She was low on fuel and needed a place to land." Ramirez said there was minor damage to the plane's landing gear but the pilot, who was the only person in the plane, did not suffer any injuries. BNSF employee Jesse Wood said he and other workers saw the small plane circling around, waiting for trains to clear from the tracks. "She landed pretty well, right between two tracks," Wood said. "You don't see something like that every day." BNSF Resource Protection Solutions officers took over the investigation and moved the plane out of the way of trains, Ramirez said. [BNSF Today, 12-15-04]

KCS AMENDS DEAL TO ACQUIRE MEXICAN RAILROAD: Kansas City Southern has agreed to acquire control of Mexico's biggest railroad, 20 months after originally announcing the deal to create a 6,000-mile transcontinental railroad, according to this report by Randolph Heaster published by the Kansas City Star. The boards of directors of Kansas City Southern and Grupo TMM said that they have reached an amended agreement in which TMM will sell its majority interest in Grupo TFM, a railroad that runs from Mexico City through northeast Mexico. The deal calls for Kansas City Southern to pay TMM $200-million in cash and 18 million shares of Kansas City Southern common stock. Kansas City Southern also could pay an additional $157-million to TMM over several years depending on the settlement of tax issues with the Mexican government as well as the government's 20 percent interest in TFM. The deal is similar to what Kansas City Southern announced in April 2003. However, Kansas City Southern's stock is worth about $85-million more than at that time, boosting the deal's total value to approximately $660-million. Also, the original plan to rename the entire railroad to Nafta Rail has been scrapped. Kansas City Southern will be the holding company for the three railroads combined in the acquisition: the Kansas City Southern Railway Co., the Texas Mexican Railway Co. and TFM. Michael R. Haverty, chairman and chief executive of Kansas City Southern, said the company will still market itself as the NATFA railroad that links the three North American countries through the central trade corridor. Upon completion of the buyout, Kansas City Southern will have about 6,650 employees in U.S., Mexico and Panama. [United Transportation Union, 12-15-04, from report by Randolph Heaster published by Kansas City Star]

AMTRAK ASKS COURT TO DECLARE N.Y. HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLAN DEAD: A plan for high-speed trains between Albany and New York City was built on so many false assumptions that a contract between the state and Amtrak is worthless, Amtrak officials contend in new court papers. Amtrak made the allegation in the latest round of filings in a federal lawsuit brought in August by the state, which wants the railroad to put the mothballed trains back in service and make track improvements or pay the state $477.3-million. Amtrak contends that it had the right to terminate the contract, already has done so and is asking the court to declare it legally dead. The high-speed rail program, which was to shave 20 minutes from the two-hour, 20-minute travel time from Rensselaer to New York City, was announced in 1998 by Gov. George Pataki. Seven rebuilt 1970s-era Turboliner trains were to be the workhorses of the route, with extensive track work to enable speeds as fast as 125 mph. The project ran into problems almost from the start. Refurbishing the Amtrak-owned trains was complicated by the discovery of asbestos in the cars and other mechanical and engineering issues. Only three trains rebuilt at Super Steel Schenectady's plant in Glenville were delivered to Amtrak. None of the track work was done. Amtrak idled the trains last summer, citing faulty air conditioning and other concerns. They're now parked in Delaware. In papers filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Amtrak argues the contract with New York was so vague and dependent on future developments that it is unenforceable, ill-considered and "illusory." Amtrak further contends that the parties were mistaken about fundamental facts upon which their bargain was based, including the condition of the Turboliners, the costs and technical feasibility of upgrading them and "the capability of the contractor" hired by the state to rebuild the trains, the papers allege. State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer K. Post declined to comment, citing continuing litigation. Bill Carr of Super Steel Schenectady said it would be inappropriate to comment since his company was not specifically named in the papers. He said other contractors also were involved in the project. In their own filings, the state's lawyers repeated their charge that Amtrak failed to complete any of the promised track work, didn't do its part in rebuilding the trains and misled state officials about their intentions. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-15-04, from article by Cathy Woodruff posted on the Albany Times-Union website]

SOUND TRANSIT PREPARES TO ADD SECOND SEATTLE-EVERETT TRAIN: Sound Transit recently obtained permits to improve track and signals in Seattle for a second Sounder commuter-rail train between Seattle and Everett, Washington. The U.S. Corps of Engineers and state Department of Ecology permits will enable Burlington Northern Santa Fe - which owns the track - to begin necessary track and signal upgrades by the end of third-quarter 2005. The train will be the second of four that Sound Transit plans to operate between Everett and Seattle by the end of 2007. By 2005's end, the agency plans to obtain permits to complete upgrades in Everett to begin operating the final two trains. Launched in December 2003, Sounder's north train currently serves about 300 weekday passengers. [, 12-15-04]

TRAIN COLLISION IN INDIA KILLS 27: Two passenger trains collided head-on on a stretch of rural track in northern India on Tuesday [Dec.14], killing at least 27 people and injuring 36, officials said. Many of the injured were in critical condition and were battling to survive at an army hospital, said railway spokesman Devender Sandhu. A communications snag between two stations masters apparently caused the crash, with an express train and a local train allowed to travel on the same track toward one another, said Dharam Singh, the top railway official in the area where the accident occurred. The accident occurred in a rural area south of the village of Mirthal, between the cities of Pathankot and Jalandhar in India's northern Punjab province, about 180 miles northwest of New Delhi. The express train was traveling from Jammu, the winter capital of Kashmir, to Ahmadabad in western Gujarat state. The local train was traveling between Jalandhar and Pathankot. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-14-04, from Associated Press]

RAIL LABOR OPPOSES MEDIATION BOARD FEES: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, along with other rail labor unions, has been actively opposing a National Mediation Board proposal to impose fees on rail employees seeking arbitration services from the NMB and, in certain cases, restrict payment to the neutral arbitrators appointed by the board. This opposition has been joined by 126 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who signed on to a letter opposing to the agency's plan. The changes would apply only to workers, not to management. The NMB oversees labor-management relations in the rail and airline industries. The NMB has no authority to establish or collect fees for arbitration cases. Nor does it have the authority to restrict payment to the neutral arbitrators in those cases. The Railway Labor Act states that the Federal Government, not the disputing parties, is responsible for the payment of arbitration services. Imposition of filing fees will discourage rail employees from pursuing grievances. Under the NMB's proposal, the fees for a claim, from initial docketing through arbitration, would be a minimum of $75 and as high as $350. Many claims are for contract violations where the employee involved suffers a financial loss that is less than the proposed filing fees; examples include loss of a day's pay, loss of overtime, or denial of skill differential or other special pay, travel pay or travel expenses. The proposed fees would discourage the filing for arbitration over such claims. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-14-04]

BOMBARDIER CHIEF STEPS DOWN: Paul Tellier stepped down as president and chief executive of Bombardier Inc. on Dec. 13, surprising investors and sending the train and plane maker's shares down as much as 26 percent to a 10-year low, according to this Reuters report. Tellier's departure, which analysts viewed as an ouster, comes one year before the end of his three-year contract at the world's third-largest civil aircraft maker and No. 1 manufacturer of trains. Two independent members of the 14-person board also resigned. Bombardier did not name an immediate successor to Tellier, who sold the company's legacy snowmobile division, slashed its work force and announced plans for the $2-billion development of a new airliner seating 110 to 135 passengers. Bombardier has had to chop output of its 50-seat regional jets on slack demand and deep financial troubles at key U.S. airline customers, and its European train operations have run into a moribund market for investment in rolling stock. Laurent Beaudoin, 66, executive chairman at Bombardier and member of the family that controls the Montreal-based company, will assume chief executive responsibilities. He will chair a new office of the president, joined by his son Pierre, who is president of Bombardier Aerospace, and Andre Navarri, president of rail unit Bombardier Transportation. Analysts said Tellier's resignation as CEO, as well as a director, appeared to stem from a boardroom battle, possibly over whether to proceed with the new C-Series passenger jet. In Ottawa, Industry Minister David Emerson said he will ask cabinet this week for authority to negotiate subsidies for the new jet. Bombardier is seeking $700-million in government aid. In a research report, National Bank Financial analyst Steve Laciak said the board disagreement may have been over the fate of the proposed new plane or on the issue of asset sales. "We need to know more. This is obviously a negative development," Laciak wrote. He suspended his "outperform" rating on the stock. Bombardier's subordinate voting shares dropped as much as C$1.87 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, rebounding to close at C$2.11, down 44 Canadian cents, or 17 percent. Volume topped 90 million shares, more than 10 times the 90-day average, making the stock the top TSX trader. Bombardier said Michael McCain, chief executive of Maple Leaf Foods Inc., and Jalynn Bennett, president of a Toronto consulting firm, had resigned as board members. The board accepted Tellier's resignation on Monday morning after an agreement worked out over the weekend, company spokeswoman Dominique Dionne said. Tellier, 65, former CEO of Canadian National Railway Co., and once Canada's top civil servant, was appointed to lead Bombardier in January 2003. [United Transportation Union, 12-13-04, from Reuters report]

WASHINGTON METRO OPENS WEST FALLS CHURCH PARKING STRUCTURE: On Saturday [Dec.11], Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) opened a $13-million parking structure at the West Falls Church Metrorail station. Located on an existing surface parking lot, the six-level, 1,200-space structure features three vehicle entrances/exits, two elevators and four emergency phones per level that connect directly to WMATA'S Metro Transit Police Department. The station now offers 2,025 parking spaces. [, 12-13-04]

MINNESOTA ZEPHYR TOURIST TRAIN DERAILS: Three cars and an engine of the popular Minnesota Zephyr train derailed Saturday [Dec.11], but there were no injuries. The old-fashioned train, which offers sightseeing, dining and music as it travels the St. Croix River Valley, was going about 5 mph when it left the tracks about 3 p.m., around six miles north of Stillwater. The passengers were shuttled back to the depot in Stillwater and the cars were put back on the tracks. Owner Dave Paradeau blamed the moist weather for the derailment, and said the track is inspected frequently. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-12-04, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK DEFENDS SPENDING ON LONG-DISTANCE CARS: The head of the nation's passenger rail service defended Amtrak's spending priorities in a reply to a harsh assessment from the Transportation Department's inspector general. Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer David L. Gunn said in a written response to Transportation Department Inspector General Kenneth M. Mead that the rail service isn't jeopardizing the safety of service in its Northeast Corridor. Mr. Mead wrote in a Nov. 22 report to Congress that Amtrak was spending millions of dollars fixing long-distance sleeper cars while neglecting investment in bridges and tunnels, a strategy that could create a "major failure" in the rail system. In response, Mr. Gunn said the passenger rail service is investing in the Northeast Corridor and criticized the negative tone of the inspector general's report. "The implication that we are pouring capital money into our long-distance fleet at the expense of the Northeast Corridor is not correct," he wrote in a letter dated Dec. 3. Amtrak spent $15.7-million in fiscal 2004 to fix long-distance cars, Mr. Gunn wrote. In contrast, the "vast majority" of Amtrak's fiscal 2004 engineering budget of $387-million funded work on the Northeast Corridor, Mr. Gunn wrote. Amtrak couldn't have performed more work on its busy Northeast tracks without disrupting service, he said, and the agency continues to deal with years of deferred maintenance. In his report, Mr. Mead called on Congress to provide clear direction for Amtrak, suggesting lawmakers force it to reduce service and proposing the federal government tie funding to progress made in restructuring operations to reduce losses. Amtrak posted a $1.3-billion operating loss in fiscal 2003. Through June, its fiscal 2004 operating loss was $945 million, according to the inspector general's report. Mr. Gunn argued that he "bought time for decision makers" by putting fundamental reforms in place that have stabilized Amtrak since he took over two years ago. "We are at a point where we can begin to look at this problem over a longer term," he said. But the absence of a national transportation policy outlining Amtrak's role and the lack of sufficient funds make long-term reform impossible, he said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-10-04, from story by William Glanz on the Washington Times website]

MINETA LAYS OUT SECOND-TERM GOALS: Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, named Thursday [Dec. 9] to serve in President Bush's second-term Cabinet, vowed to press a controversial plan to overhaul Amtrak financing in order to end "a drain on the budget." Mineta, 73, the former Democratic mayor and House member from San Jose, said in an interview that he would work to win congressional approval for the pending plan to reduce federal spending on the government-subsidized rail system by shifting a greater burden to states served by Amtrak on the East and West coasts. Federal assistance for Amtrak ought to be on the same basis as federal assistance for highways and metropolitan transit systems, with the federal government paying a smaller share of the costs, Mineta said. "There ought to be a local-share component in the financial support of those railroad services," Mineta said. Mineta said Bush backs the hard-nosed plan requiring states to pay up - or lose service. "If a train goes through a state and that state is not willing to pony up the state's share, then we would run the train through that state, not stopping and keeping the doors closed," Mineta said. The transportation chief said he intends to "deal with the long-term longevity of Amtrak," which receives $1.2 billion under Bush's latest annual budget - about $600-million less than Amtrak requested. Mineta conceded that he was "quite sure we'll find resistance" in Congress to the plan. But he added: "We have spent something like $37-billion on Amtrak (since its inception in 1970). It has been a drain on the budget, and we haven't really improved services in a major way. I want to make sure that we keep this system safe and provide a good service." Ross Capon, executive director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, said states already shoulder a significant portion of Amtrak's capital expenditures. Mineta's plan would merely "take the bill for existing railroad service and dump a greater share on the states" when states need more generous federal support "to take railroad service to the next level," Capon said. Of the $417-million Amtrak invested in capital improvements in fiscal 2003, the federal government provided $268-million, leaving the remaining $149-million to be financed by states, localities and borrowing. "The rhetoric the administration is using just doesn't match up to the reality," Capon said. "This plan would be the death knell for expansion of railroad service." Amtrak enjoys wide support in Congress, which created the federally subsidized network after the demise of private passenger rail service in the 1960s. Lawmakers with Amtrak trains running through their states or districts represent a formidable lobby against any attempt to reduce service. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-10-04, from article by Stewart M. Powell circulated by Hearst Newspapers]

CREW MEMBER DIES FOLLOWING UNION PACIFIC COLLISION: A crew member of a Union Pacific freight train involved in a head-on crash of two freight trains early Dec. 10 near Niland, California, died after being hospitalized. Niland is some 180 miles east of Los Angeles. The trains, one eastbound and one westbound, were carrying non-hazardous materials. The Associated Press identified the dead crew member as Kenneth Leonard, 44, who was aboard the eastbound train. Four other UP crewmen were treated at hospitals for their injuries, none of which was said to be life threatening. The Associated Press reported earlier that the two UP trains collided just before 7 a.m. Dec. 10, with five locomotives and seven freight cars derailed. [United Transportation Union, 12-10-04]

AMTRAK CREATES WAITING LIST FOR SLEEPING CAR SPACE: Amtrak has begun to create waiting lists for sleeping car space on its trains. If a train has no sleeping-car space, now a client can ask a reservation sales agent to put his or her name on the wait list. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-10-04]

CSX SELLING INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL BUSINESS: Dubai Ports International ("DPI"), one of the world's leading port operators, announces that it has signed a definitive agreement with CSX Corporation to acquire the international terminal business conducted by CSX World Terminals and other related interests for a cash consideration of US$1.15-billion, subject to customary adjustments. Completion of the transaction is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2005. CSX World Terminals is a leading international container terminal developer and operator with operations in Asia, Europe, Australia and Latin America. [Joint press release, 12-9-04]

RAIL INTERMODAL VOLUME TOPS 10 MILLION FOR FIRST TIME: For the first time ever, intermodal volume on U.S. railroads has topped 10 million trailers and containers in a single year, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported. During the week ended December 4, railroads moved 232,798 trailers and containers, up 14.9 percent from last year. This brought the total for the year to 10,196,913 trailers and containers, up 10 percent from the first 48 weeks last year when the previous annual record of 9,943,362 was set. Also for the week ended December 4, carload freight, which doesn't include the intermodal data, totaled 349,727 cars, up 0.6 percent from a year ago with loadings up 3.7 percent in the East and down 1.9 percent in the West. Total volume was estimated at 32.8 billion ton-miles, up 0.6 percent from last year. Eleven of 19 carload commodities registered gains from last year, with metallic ores up 20.1 percent; lumber and wood products up 16.4 percent; and metals up 16.4 percent. Among commodities reporting declines were grain, down 16.2 percent; other farm products, down 23.5 percent; and coke, down 10.8 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-9-04]

CONGRESS DIRECTS AMTRAK TO REPAY $100-MILLION LOAN: Amtrak, the nation's financially troubled passenger railroad, must pay back a $100-million loan it received from the government to avert a shutdown in 2002, according to this Reuters report. After deferring repayment for two years, lawmakers included language in the omnibus appropriations bill signed by President George W. Bush to make Amtrak clear the loan from its books over the next five years. An Amtrak spokesman said the railroad was ready to repay the debt, which was a key component of the financial rescue package spearheaded by the Transportation Department in the summer of 2002. At the time, Amtrak had virtually run out of cash and had no leverage to borrow more from its banks because of its weak financial condition and heavy debt. Amtrak had threatened to start shutting down service unless it received help from the government. The bailout triggered a process of tighter Transportation Department oversight of financial matters at Amtrak, which depends on annual federal subsidies to survive. [United Transportation Union, 12-8-04, from report by Reuters]

RAILAMERICA SELLS TWO OF ITS COMPANIES: RailAmerica today [Dec.8] announced that it has completed the sale of its Arizona Eastern Railway Company and West Texas and Lubbock Railroad Company, Inc. subsidiaries to Permian Basin Railways, Inc. Permian Basin Railways, Inc. has been the operator and lessee of the West Texas and Lubbock Railroad since May 2002. RailAmerica received cash proceeds of $2.75-million for the sale of its shares of the Arizona Eastern Railway Company, and cash proceeds of $1.75-million and a note in the amount of $3.55-million for the sale of its shares in the West Texas and Lubbock Railroad Company. Arizona Eastern Railway Company owns and operates 135 track miles between Miami, Arizona and Bowie, Arizona. West Texas and Lubbock Railroad Company owns and operates 104 track miles between Seagraves and Lubbock, Texas and from Lubbock to Whiteface, Texas. [RailAmerica, 12-8-04]

CSX OPENING CONSOLIDATED TRAINING CENTER IN ATLANTA: With rail industry projections pointing to the need for thousands of new employees over the next few years, CSX Transportation has consolidated in Atlanta all of its training for front-line employees who operate trains and maintain railroad assets and infrastructure. The $8-million consolidated training center is a multi-disciplinary facility for students who are training to be locomotive engineers and conductors, track and signal technicians, mechanics, and yard managers. Conductor training is expected to begin in January 2005 with other subjects offered by midyear. More than 3,500 students are expected to visit the facility annually when fully operational. Located adjacent to CSXT's Tilford Yard rail classification facility, the training center will provide state-of-the-art equipment, including locomotive simulators, and the opportunity to apply classroom learning in a hands-on railroad operating environment. Some management training also will take place. New employee training today takes place in Cumberland, Md. (locomotive engineers); Jacksonville, Atlanta and Cleveland (conductors); Barboursville, W.Va. (track engineering and train control); and Savannah, Ga. (train control). [CSX Corp. 12-3-04]

CITY HALTS SEPTA'S PLANS FOR FARE HIKE: In a rare use of its veto power, the City of Philadelphia yesterday [Dec.2] put the brakes on a last-minute plan by the SEPTA board to erase the agency's $62-million deficit by raising the cash fare from $2 to $3 - the highest in the nation - and eliminating 20 percent of weekday service on buses, trolleys and trains, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Under Pennsylvania law, the two representatives of the city - home to 80 percent of SEPTA's estimated one million daily riders - can veto any measure. No one at the transit agency could recall when that power was last exercised. SEPTA riders' sense of relief could be short-lived. Most board members were vowing to override the veto at their next meeting on Dec. 16, unless Gov. Rendell produces enough money to close the chasm in the agency's $920-million budget. Rendell has the authority to funnel federal highway funds toward SEPTA's deficit - at least until a new two-year session of the legislature convenes next month in Harrisburg. In a statement released late yesterday, Rendell offered "no guarantees that we can solve this problem." Since September, SEPTA had threatened to raise fares by 25 percent, end weekend service, and lay off 1,300 employees. The proposal on the table at yesterday's meeting put more of the hurt on riders - so much so that SEPTA officials themselves predicted that 20 percent of commuters would abandon public transit. [United Transportation Union, 12-3-04, from item in the Philadelphia Inquirer]

BLET SAYS UTU SPREADS FALSEHOODS OVER SENIORITY MAINTENANCE TIMELINE: Once again, the United Transportation Union has chosen to skew the facts in its continued smear campaign against the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. In a December 1 post to its website, the UTU called the BLET's lawsuit against the organization "wacky" and wrongly attempted to claim that the BLET had initiated the concept of seniority maintenance agreements in the first place. The UTU should check its history. The UTU invented the concept of seniority maintenance in the early 1990s in a vain attempt to stem the tide of its dwindling membership. Years later, the BLET followed suit to protect its own interests on a few properties, including Conrail. However, this was only after the UTU invented this new means of raiding the BLET membership. The BLET understands that, if its lawsuit is successful, its own, few seniority maintenance agreements would also be voided. "While the voiding of our own seniority maintenance agreements may initially affect membership growth on those few properties, it is the right thing to do," said BLET National President Don M. Hahs. "The employees could then freely decide which organization that they would like to join." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-3-04]

RAILS SHOW SOLID TRAFFIC GAINS IN NOVEMBER: U.S. railroads originated 1,343,632 carloads of freight in November 2004, up 2.6 percent (33,478 carloads) over November 2003, and an additional 889,978 trailers and containers, up 12.2 percent (96,733 units) over November 2003, according to this release issued by the Association of American Railroads. Coal paced the November traffic increase, with carloads originated up 5.2 percent (26,680 carloads) to 538,164 - equal to 40 percent of total U.S. rail carloads for the month. Other commodities showing traffic gains in November included metallic ores (up 13.3 percent, or 6,888, to 58,720 carloads); crushed stone and gravel (up 8.3 percent, or 6,458, to 83,965 carloads); and metals and metal products (up 8.0 percent, or 3,886, to 52,674 carloads). Carloads of petroleum products rose 8.0 percent (1,701 carloads) to 22,854 carloads in November. Commodities showing traffic decreases in November included motor vehicles and equipment (down 9.9 percent, or 9,597, to 87,170 carloads); grain (down 4.9 percent, or 4,671, to 90,667 carloads); and farm products excluding grain (down 19.2 percent, or 1,662, to 6,978 carloads). Carloadings of chemicals in November were down 0.7 percent (848) to 114,613 carloads. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-2-04]

COLUMBUS & OHIO RR TAKES OVER CSX LINE IN OHIO: The CSX railroad line from Newark to Mount Vernon, Ohio, has a new owner. The Columbus and Ohio River Railroad has added the 20 miles of track to its already extensive holdings, giving 650 miles of track in Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a company president Bill Strawn. The company headquarters are in Coshocton. The central Ohio segment of the line has branches from Columbus to Cambridge, Columbus to Coshocton and Columbus to Mount Vernon that total 117 miles. Strawn said the entire system has 85 diesel engines, 11 steam engines and a fleet of railroad cars. Employees to run the system total 200. Two commodities that make up a substantial part of its business are coal and grain, and the company, which is privately held, has gone after new business aggressively. Strawn said that over a six-year period it has increased its coal haulage from 1,000 carloads per year to 35,000. Are excursion trains out of Mount Vernon, pulled by one of the steam engines, in the city's future? Possibly. Strawn explained that increased security measures since 9/11 and liability insurance must be examined before officials can run an excursion line. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-1-04, from article by Virgil Shipley on the Mount Vernon News website]

THICK FOG SUSPECTED IN CSX FATALITY: One of the two trains that collided head-on in Pasco County, Florida, on Monday [Nov.29] might have run through a signal light in heavy fog, investigators say. The crews of both trains did see each other moments before the crash, and applied their emergency brakes, but it was too late. One man, a conductor who leaped from his train at the last moment, was killed. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that signals and tracks at the accident scene appeared in good working order. That leaves the possibility that human error, abetted by the weather, caused the crash of the two CSX freight trains shortly after 2 a.m. Monday. Once the trains saw each other, they started to brake. The conductor and engineer of the northbound train, hauling 60 cars of rocks from Miami, leapt for their lives, according to Pasco County rescue workers. They didn't jump far enough to avoid being trapped under crumpled and flipped rail cars. Conductor C.J. Jones was crushed to death. Engineer E.E. Anderson survived with broken bones. The position of Jones' and Anderson's train could be key to the crash. Their train had just merged onto a short stretch of common track, placing them on a collision course with a 136-car train operated by engineer G.M. Whitehead and conductor W.E.Taylor of Bartow. Both trains were on the proper track, CSX spokesman Gary Sease said. It was a question of timing. One of the trains should have waited clear of the other. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-1-04, from story by James Thorner on the St. Petersburg Times website]

STB APPROVES KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN'S ACQUISITION OF TEX MEX RAILWAY: The Surface Transportation Board announced that it has issued a decision approving "Kansas City Southern's" acquisition of control of the "Tex Mex Railway," subject to conditions. In approving the transaction, the STB is: (1) requiring Kansas City Southern to comply with the terms of a Safety Integration Plan, developed with the Federal Railroad Administration; (2) providing affected employees "New York Dock" labor-protective conditions augmented for this transaction so that employees choosing not to follow their work to Mexico will not be deemed to have forfeited their labor protections; (3) providing for STB monitoring of operations at the Laredo Bridge; and (4) requiring Kansas City Southern to comply with its representations enumerated in the decision, including its commitment to keep the Laredo gateway open on commercially reasonable terms. In the event Kansas City Southern acquires control of TFM, S.A. de C.V., a Mexican railroad, the STB reserved the right to conduct oversight to examine the operational effects of that control on transportation with the United States. [Surface Transportation Board, 11-29-04]

CSX FREIGHT TRAINS COLLIDE IN FLORIDA KILLING ONE: Two CSX freight trains collided head-on Monday, November 29, in Richland, Florida, killing one crew member, authorities said. The crash caused the derailment of about 10 cars and injured three people, said Kevin Doll, a spokesman for the Pasco County sheriff's office. CSX spokeswoman Jane Covington said each train had a two-member crew. One train was headed south from Waycross, Ga., to Tampa, while the other was headed north from Miami to Wildwood. They collided about 25 miles northeast of Tampa. Covington said it is too early to say what caused the accident, adding that head-on collisions are rare. The tracks are controlled by signals similar to traffic lights and the system is designed so trains do not move into the next section of track until it is clear, she said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-29-04, from Associated Press report]

FEDS APPROVE FUNDING FOR PHILADELPHIA/READING LINE: The $388-billion spending bill approved by Congress November 20 includes $10-million earmarked for a proposal to build a 62-mile commuter rail line between Philadelphia and Reading, according to the Daily Local News. Called the Schuylkill Valley Metro, the project has struggled to win federal funding approval over the years, largely because the projected cost has steadily risen beyond $2.5-billion. The Metro money in this bill will be used for engineering and design work, according to a release from the office of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. [United Transportation Union, 11-28-04, from item appearing in the Daily Local News]

TRAINS COLLIDE IN MONTANA FORCING AMTRAK TO BUS PASSENGERS: Two freight trains collided east of Columbia Falls, Montana, November 25, blocking the main rail line and forcing Amtrak to bus Empire Builder passengers 250 miles from Whitefish to Havre, Montana, reports the Associated Press. No one was injured in the "low impact" collision that derailed two cars and spilled some soybeans, a Flathead County dispatcher said. The derailment blocked traffic on the main line across northern Montana. About 110 Amtrak passengers left Whitefish just before 10 a.m. on their way to Havre, said Havre ticket clerk Nancy Peterson. They were expected in at about 3 p.m., as were the 77 passengers on the westbound Empire Builder. [United Transportation Union, 11-25-04, from Associated Press report]

MARYLAND MTA TO REOPEN SOUTH-END LIGHT-RAIL STOPS: On December 5, Maryland Transit Administration will reopen light-rail service at five south-end stops that have been closed since February for a double-track project. MTA will reopen the Linthicum, BWI Business District, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Ferndale and Cromwell stations. In January, the agency will begin the final phase of the project - double-tracking the system's north end between North Avenue and Timonium. Once the project is complete in 2006, only 2.6 miles of MTA's system will be single-tracked. [, 11-24-04]

U.P., C.N. REACH ROUTING PROTOCOL AGREEMENT: Union Pacific and CN announced November 24 that they have reached a routing protocol agreement to streamline their exchange of rail traffic at major gateways. The agreement will help to reduce rail congestion at Chicago. Under the protocol, UP and CN have established a structured plan to direct rail traffic flows through the most efficient interchange locations, a change that will improve transit times and asset utilization for the customers of UP and CN. The new routing protocol will be implemented over a three-month period. The major interchange points for traffic moving between UP and CN are Superior, Wis.; Chicago; Salem, Ill.; Memphis; Baton Rouge, La. and, via Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Vancouver, B.C. [Union Pacific, 11-24-04]

FEDERAL REPORT CALLS FOR AMTRAK CUTS: A federal report issued Monday [Nov.22] suggests that Amtrak cut its long-distance routes, including the Texas Eagle that runs through East Texas. The report by the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general, Kenneth Mead, says the train service should drop long-distance routes in favor of repairing and maintaining short-distance routes in the Northeast, where Amtrak owns the rails on which it runs. Amtrak leases access to other rail tracks around the country, including Union Pacific in Longview, Marshall and other East Texas cities. The Texas Eagle runs from San Antonio to Chicago. Mead said the current system can no longer be maintained. "The total funding Amtrak receives from all sources is not sufficient to maintain the current system in a state of good repair," he said. Congress has consistently given Amtrak less than the railroad has said it needs for maintenance and capital investment. This year, Amtrak sought $1.5-billion, but the Bush administration proposed $900-million, which the House approved. Over the weekend, though, House and Senate negotiators agreed to a $1.2-billion subsidy. At that level, Amtrak will not be able to undertake the capital investments it had planned. The railroad delayed capital investments last year, too. For that year, it asked for $1.8-billion but got about $1.2-billion. Amtrak has posted losses of at least $500 million each year for the past 10 years, but Meads' report noted that ridership was up last year. In a statement, the National Association of Railroad Passengers said if the national network is destroyed, Congress will no longer want to support Amtrak. "Eliminating that network, while preserving every existing short-distance service, would create a 21-state 'system' of four isolated mini-networks, weakening Amtrak's ability to get federal funding," the group said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-23-04, from report appearing on the Longview, Texas, News-Journal website]

LIONEL PINS HOPES ON POLAR EXPRESS: Christmas is turning into a real train wreck for Lionel LLC, the 104-year-old model train maker that filed for federal bankruptcy court protection last week. Lionel has the license to produce a replica of the locomotive in "The Polar Express," Warner Bros.' big-budget holiday movie that recently made its debut. The movie was supposed to rekindle the train hobby among youngsters more fixed these days on video games. Instead, the movie has been a disappointment at the box office, and hopes for a revival of the nostalgic genre seem dashed by Lionel's filing for protection from creditors Nov. 15 in federal bankruptcy court in New York's Southern District. Lionel said it filed because it couldn't pay a $40.8-million court judgment against it after a court found it misused a rival's train blueprints. The judgment "has forced us to take this action," said Jerry Calabrese, Lionel's chief executive. The bankruptcy filing will give the company time to appeal the court decision and "will enable us to create, manufacture and ship our products in our normal and usual way," he added. But at a minimum, the filing will hobble Lionel's efforts to get maximum advantage out of its "Polar Express" model. Despite the movie's poor ticket sales so far, the $249 train sets have sold out in many stores. Yet getting more inventory into stores in time to take advantage of movie publicity will take money Lionel may not have. The bankruptcy filing followed the dismissal in September of Lionel's two top executives, who were replaced as part of a broader management shake-up in which 18 midlevel managers also lost their jobs. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-23-04, from story by Wall Street Journal reporters Joseph Pereira and Ethan Smith appearing on the Kansas City Star website]

FRA CHANGES TRAIN-HORN PROPOSAL'S DATE: An agency announcement in today's (Nov. 22) Federal Register that the effective date of the proposed rule from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that allows communities to establish train horn 'quiet zones' will be moved to April 1 from the previously published date of December 18, according to this release issued by the FRA. "We are firmly committed to providing communities nationwide with a fair, flexible, and workable rule that will address concerns over noise created by train horns," said FRA Acting Administrator Betty Monro. "We are especially sensitive to the concerns of communities with pre-existing whistle bans who want to maintain the quality of life to which they have become accustomed." The Interim Final Rule (IFR) on Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings was issued late last year. It requires trains to sound their horns on approach to, and while traveling across, public highway-rail crossings. However, the train horn can be silenced within a 'quiet zone' provided safety measures are in place at the affected crossings. Because the IFR generated significant interest from communities across the country, the FRA extended the public comment period by two months. Approximately 1,400 comments were submitted for review. FRA had planned to issue the Final Rule last month, but the analysis and consideration required of each comment made meeting that schedule difficult. The Final Rule will now be issued in January and becomes effective on April 1. [Federal Railroad Administration, 11-22-04]

GENESEE & WYOMING SHARES SURGE: Shares of railroad Genesee & Wyoming (GWR) rose more than seven percent on four times the normal trading volume Monday (Nov. 22) amid market speculation that the company could be acquired or spin off its business in Australia, according to this CBS MarketWatch report by Padraic Cassidy. Matthew Walsh, vice president of finance for the company, declined to comment on any possible deals, but said a financial news commentator's pick over the weekend of Genesee & Wyoming's stock as a favorite investment might have sent shares rising. The railroad operates short lines and regional freight lines in North America, Bolivia and Australia that typically cater to the needs of paper, petroleum, grain, and other bulk commodity producers. Rail America, Genesee & Wyoming's principal competitor, in August unloaded its Freight Australia line to Pacific National for $204-million, almost twice its purchase price in 1999. Analysts and traders said the flurry in market activity could also be related to the railroad's Nov. 15 announcement of its closing of $257-million in debt financing, which left about $157-million available to the company. [United Transportation Union, 11-22-04, from CBS MarketWatch report by Padraic Cassidy]

DRIVER OF AMTRAK THRUWAY BUS COLLAPSES AT THE WHEEL: Passengers on Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach service between Fort Myers, St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida, had a harrowing ride on Wednesday [Nov.17]. The bus driver of Amtrak Thruway Service #6092 (connection to the Silver Star at Tampa) apparently suffered a heart attack while driving across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which links St. Petersburg and Tampa. The driver collapsed and the bus slammed into the retaining wall, then caromed over towards the other retaining wall. Alert passengers hurried to the front of the bus - one grabbed the wheel and one applied the brake. While the driver died from the heart attack, no passenger injuries were reported. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-19-04]

FEDS CONFIRM RAIL POLICE HARASSED EMPLOYEES: For many years, the United Transportation Union has complained to carriers about improper conduct of railroad police, who have abused and harassed UTU members - as well as rail employees represented by other organizations - through oppressive interview tactics, illegal wiretapping, spying and other inappropriate activities. No more are the UTU complaints merely allegations. The Department of Transportation's inspector general has validated the UTU's complaints, calling many railroad police actions against UTU members,"serious issues," "misconduct" and "heavy-handed." In a report to the bi-partisan leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has oversight of railroads, DOT Inspector General Kenneth Mead (the IG) said his office investigated numerous instances where railroad police may have engaged in "unlawful or improper conduct." Following extensive interviews with UTU officials, carrier management and railroad police officials, the IG, recommended: "Involvement of labor union representation in the development of employee investigative procedures." The IG also recommended that all railroads put in place "definitive guidance" for the conduct of employee investigations and a "formalized internal affairs program for investigating alleged improprieties and misconduct on the part of railroad police officers." UTU International President Paul Thompson thanked Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), and the committee's ranking Democrat, Fritz Hollings of South Carolina, for listening carefully to UTU complaints and requesting the IG investigation of railroad police actions. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), whom Thompson termed "a long-time and very special friend of the UTU," personally worked to ensure UTU's request for the investigation was given Senate priority. The UTU was the only union seeking such an investigation. "This was the first time a formal federal investigation of railroad police abuse against union members was launched and demonstrates once again that the UTU's bi-partisan political stance is "effective and beneficial to our members," Thompson said. "The actual report also confirms once again that when the UTU does protest to Congress, its complaints are legitimate." In 2003 alone, said the IG, major railroads used their police on 975 separate occasions to investigate employees. The IG called this "significant" and also observed that carriers have used railroad police "for non-law-enforcement-related activities on behalf of management, such as investigating time and attendance issues, delivery of administrative notices to employees and conducting surveillance of injury claimants." In fact, many of the investigations against carrier employees "did not reflect an appropriate, prudent application of police resources," said the IG. The most frequent users of railroad police to investigate employees are Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern. UP ordered its railroad police to investigate employees 226 times during 2003, and NS ordered such investigations 196 times, said the IG. Because of an absence of a formal mechanism for collecting complaints of railroad police misconduct, "there is a strong likelihood that incidents such as these have gone unreported," said the IG. "Seven of the nine railroad police departments we surveyed, to include the four largest railroads in the country, reported they did not have a policy and procedures manual providing specific procedures for investigating railroad employees," said the IG. Better oversight of railroad police "is necessary to ensure they remain objective and credible." [United Transportation Union, 11-19-04]

OPTIONS FOR VIRGINIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL PRESENTED: State transportation officials presented four options for bringing high-speed passenger rail to Hampton Roads at a public meeting Wednesday evening [Nov.17]. Three of the four routes under study connect Richmond to South Hampton Roads. One terminates on the Peninsula. Cost and ridership estimates have not been developed yet, said Alan C. Tobias , manager of passenger rail programs for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. The state rail department wants to have a plan ready so it can be first in line if and when federal or state money becomes available for high- speed rail development. Plans have been made for improving rail service between Richmond and Washington. With $67-million in hand for the $370-million project, work is about to start on a small phase. Consultants are still gathering information for the Richmond-to-Hampton Roads segment. Tobias said the department is close to securing more money to evaluate the options and recommend a route, possibly by May 2005 . The alternatives are: using the Norfolk Southern freight tracks from Richmond to Petersburg to Norfolk along U.S. 460; building a rail line along a new U.S. 460 alignment that's under study; using the CSX corridor between Richmond and Newport News along I-64 now used by Amtrak; and extending the I-64 route south across the James River Bridge, eventually ending in Norfolk. The trains planned for Virginia would hit top speeds of 110 mph instead of the current 70 mph. At the planned speeds, Hampton Roads residents could get to New York City in about five hours, consultants said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-18-04, from article by Debbie Messina posted on the Virginian-Pilot website]

CP RAIL EYEING WESTERN LINE EXPANSION: Officials said on Wednesday (Nov. 17) that Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. is eyeing a C$160-million ($134-million) project to ease congestion on its line through the Rocky Mountains, but it has not yet decided whether to do the work, according to this Reuters report. The company said that while it appears there is enough demand to support an expansion of track capacity, it still needs assurances the federal government will not order railways to open their lines to third-party users. CP officials told analysts the railroad has completed the engineering work on expanding sidings on a section of line between Calgary and Vancouver that could allow it to run up to four more trains each day. Railway officials have said they hope to have the assurances they need before the start of the construction season in spring 2005, and believe the work can be done with little disruption to trains using the line. [United Transportation Union, 11-17-04, from report by Reuters]

SHORT LINE DENIED ABANDONMENT OF WYOMING RAIL LINE: The Federal Surface Transportation Board has denied a railroad company's request to abandon a rail link between a closed sawmill in Saratoga and the Union Pacific mainline in southern Wyoming. Abandoning the line was opposed by Intermountain Resources Inc.,which hopes to reopen the sawmill, and by Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal. The 24-mile line would be the principal means by which the company would transport lumber from the mill to market. The decision by the board does not prohibit the railroad owners, the Wyoming and Colorado Railroad Co. of Ogden, Utah, from attempting to abandon the line through a more formal and time-consuming administrative process. The company's president could not be reached for comment. The Saratoga line operates between Saratoga and Wolcott Junction. It was built and operated by the Saratoga & Encampment Railroad between 1908 and 1928. It was merged with Union Pacific in 1951. UP sold the line to Wyoming and Colorado Railroad Co. in 1987. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-17-04, from story by Tom Mast appearing on the Casper Star-Tribune website]

FRA ADDING INSPECTORS OF UNION PACIFIC IN SAN ANTONIO: Ensuring the safety of the nations railroad system is the number one mission of the Federal Railroad Administration. In the aftermath of a string of train accidents involving Union Pacific, the FRA began in July 2004, an extensive and comprehensive review of the railroads safety compliance performance in Texas. The FRA review over the ensuing months included federal inspectors riding UP trains, overseeing UP inspectors perform their work, conducting FRA own inspections, and auditing the UP field testing exercise (FTX) program. It concluded that UP failed in its implementation and management oversight of its FTX program, which tests train crew compliance with railroad operating rules and other federal safety regulations, a result that was unsatisfactory. As a result, the FRA has entered into a safety compliance agreement signed by the UP and announced Nov. 16. The document describes the actions the railroad will take to resolve the problems found by FRA. Under the one-year agreement, the UP will have its San Antonio Service Unit:

The FRA has ordered additional federal inspectors from other regions to Texas to supplement existing staff in inspecting and monitoring UP adherence to this agreement. The first team is already in San Antonio working with front line UP managers and train crews. Additional FRA inspectors will be sent in the coming weeks. Should FRA determine at any time that the compliance agreement is not being fulfilled by UP, a stronger compliance order will be issued without challenge from UP. A compliance order would then require UP to perform the provisions of the agreement and is enforceable in federal court where top railroad officials could be held personally liable. We welcome the interest and assistance of affected officials representing the area of San Antonio as we continue to work with the highest levels of UP management and maintain an active presence to achieve lasting improvements for the safety of rail operations in the San Antonio area. [Federal Railroad Administration, 11-16-04]

ISG MECHANICS RESTORE 50-YEAR-OLD LOCOMOTIVE: After nearly 50 years of hard labor at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s plants in Pennsylvania and Burns Harbor, Indiana, battered old locomotive No. 72 was parked because it wasn't serviceable. But earlier this year, the mechanics at the locomotive shop of the mill, which is now called ISG Burns Harbor, got the green light to undertake a complete refurbishing project - everything from a mechanical overhaul to a sharp black, white and blue paint job. By doing the work themselves, they restored a locomotive that General Motors only made from 1954 to 1966, and they did it for $119,000, including parts and labor. If ISG had to purchase a similar one, it would have spent $400,000 to $550,000, said locomotive shop supervisor Jim Zrodlowski. About 15 mechanics worked on the project between February and September, laboring whenever they got a break from their other assignments. When it was all done, anybody who came to the shop got to vote on which paint scheme it would receive. Locomotive 72 is expected to provide another eight to 10 years of service before needing an overhaul. With the success of the locomotive No. 72 project, the mechanics are busy working on restoring locomotive No. 21, a 1965 model. That project should be done in March. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-16-04, from story by Ken Kosky appearing on the Munster Times website]

LIGHT-RAIL DEMONSTRATION PROJECT UNDER WAY FOR WASHINGTON METRO: Last weekend, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) broke ground on the 2.7-mile Anacostia Light Rail Demonstration project. The line will be built on existing CSX Transportation right-of-way along the east side of the Anacostia River between Bolling Air Force Base and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The $16.1-million project includes purchasing three light-rail vehicles, constructing a maintenance facility, and installing two traction power substations and a catenary system. Scheduled to be complete in fall 2006, the line will include stops at stops at Pennsylvania Avenue, Fairlawn, Old Anacostia, Anacostia Metrorail station, Barry Farm and the Bolling Air Force Base. The District of Columbia is funding the project. [, 11-16-04]

CCS&SB STUDYING SERVICE EXPANSION: The Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad is studying expansion of their commuter service in Lake and Porter counties in Indiana. Efforts to expand the railroad that runs some 90 miles from South Bend to downtown Chicago have taken another step toward creating a new line known as the "West Lake Project". The project would extend the line, which dates to 1908, to Lowell and Valparaiso, IN. The study of these extensions is projected to cost about $1.2-million. One new line would branch off from the main line at Hammond and run south to Munster. At Munster, IN, the new line would split into two smaller branch lines; one to Lowell on the south and Valparaiso to the east. The actual expansion is estimated to cost $340-million. [Urban Transit Club]

UNION PACIFIC TRANSFERRING SOME IDAHO JOBS TO NEBRASKA, MISSISSIPPI: Union Pacific is transferring a tenth of its Gate City, Idaho, work force by mid-February to boost slumping profits. The nation's largest railroad is moving 65 of 650 Pocatello Union Pacific Fruit Express unit jobs to its North Platte, Neb., and De Soto, Miss., locations. Union Pacific is reorganizing the Pocatello business after third-quarter earnings slipped more than 30 percent, dented by higher fuel prices, costs to train new employees and rail congestion. "We have to take whatever actions are necessary," spokesman John Bromley said. "It's our obligation to operate this business as efficiently as possible." Pacific Fruit Express is keeping 12 positions in Pocatello to inspect refrigerated cars before they're cleaned and reloaded in Nebraska. Workers can transfer to keep their jobs, Bromley said. Railroad union officials said the transfer is merely job cuts in disguise. "With the transfers, we always lose jobs because people aren't willing to move 800 miles," said Kevin Anderson, local chairman for the Carmen's Union in Pocatello. He thinks the railroad will subcontract those positions to people willing to work for less money and no insurance benefits. Anderson is also angry he wasn't told about the moves until Friday afternoon. The railroad "didn't even have the decency to let me know what was going on ahead of time so I could be with them (workers) to answer questions," he said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-14-04, from report appearing on the Omaha World-Herald website]

B&O MUSEUM REOPENS TO PUBLIC: The B&O Museum reopened to the public on Saturday, November 13. It had been closed since the collapse of its roundhouse roof on February 17, 2003. Over 6,000 visitors filed through the complex on its reopening day. The roof has now been replaced and exhibits that were in the building when the roof collapsed are once again on display. Some of the exhibits still show the damage that resulted - these are displayed within glassed-in enclosures. A number of improvements have been made to the Mount Clare Station, including a new entry door, new exhibit areas, and a larger gift shop. For further information on the museum, call 410-752-2490, or go to

RESTORATION OF SEATTLE'S KING STREET STATION BEGINS: Restoration began this week on Seattle's King Street Station, long in need of attention. Non-historic features, such as the faux ceiling and 1960's-era "modern" ticket counters, will be removed and replaced with more historically-accurate fixtures. Completion is targeted for summer 2005. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-12-04]

INITIAL PROBE BLAMES AMTRAK ENGINEER FOR ACELA ACCIDENT: A preliminary report accuses the engineer involved in an Amtrak train derailment last month [October] of ignoring warning signals and failing to seek permission to back up the train, according to Newsday. The Amtrak Acela Express train No. 2191 derailed October 28 shortly after leaving New Haven Union Station. The train, which had 76 passengers and six crew members aboard at the time, did not topple over and it came to rest partially in between two retaining walls. An electric line was torn down and the power was cut to the area while the line was repaired. Dan Brucker, a spokesman for Metro-North, said a freight train had knocked over a signal earlier in the night. When the engineer of the Amtrak train approached the area, he ignored a restriction signal and proceeded, according to preliminary results of an ongoing investigation, Brucker said. An Amtrak spokesman had said previously that the train backed up at the direction of the Metro-North dispatcher, after the engineer on the Amtrak train noted possible damage to signals and overhead wires along the track. Metro-North owns the tracks. Engineers must get authority from the dispatcher to go in reverse, Brucker said. Officials said dispatcher recordings revealed the engineer did not receive required permission to reverse the train. Officials said the engineer went through switch alignments not opened for him, and when attempting to go in reverse, the train derailed. "He was not given permission to back up within the switch area," Brucker said. Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration are still investigating. [United Transportation Union, 11-10-04, from item published by Newsday]

AMTRAK ADDING TRAIN IN CALIFORNIA: Amtrak is adding a train to run between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. A new Amtrak Surfliner train will begin running November 17, leaving Los Angeles' Union Station at 7:30 a.m. With stops in Ventura and Santa Barbara, it will arrive in San Luis Obispo about 1 p.m., officials said. On its southbound trip, the train will leave San Luis Obispo at 1:20 p.m. and Santa Barbara at 4 p.m. It will arrive in Ventura at 4:45 p.m. and Los Angeles at 7:10 p.m. The new Amtrak train will be the third to run between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo and the only one leaving Los Angeles before 9 a.m. The service is the culmination of a two-year effort to add a Surfliner train at hours that might provide some relief for commuters on Highway 101 between Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-10-04, from Associated Press article]

SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF NORFOLK SOUTHERN IN LIABILITY CASE: The U.S. Supreme Court sided Tuesday [Nov.9] with Norfolk Southern Railway Co. in a case that was being closely watched by the railroad industry. The court ruled, in a decision written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, that the Norfolk-based railroad's liability for damage caused by a 1997 derailment was limited by federal maritime law. The case involves a shipment of machinery from Australia to a General Motors plant in Huntsville, Alabama. A derailment by a Norfolk Southern train allegedly caused $1.5-million of damage to the machinery. James N. Kirby Pty Ltd., the Australian manufacturer, sued Norfolk Southern to recover for the damage. Norfolk Southern, however, countered that its liability was limited to $5,000, or $500 for each of the 10 damaged shipping containers, under the 1936 Carriage of Goods by Sea Act. That law limits the liability of ships and companies that contract with a shipper to $500 per shipment. The liability limit can be extended to companies hired to transport goods before and after they are moved by ship. In 2000, a federal judge in Atlanta sided with Norfolk Southern, ruling the railroad's liability was capped at $5,000. Two years later, a divided 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, finding that Kirby's contract with the freight forwarded wasn't clear enough to extend the maritime law liability protections all the way to Norfolk Southern. Norfolk Southern appealed with the support of the Bush administration, which filed a brief on its behalf. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-10-04, from article by Christopher Dinsmore posted on the Virginian-Pilot website]

NEW RAIL DEAL SPEEDS FREIGHT TO CANADA: Cutting 330 miles and as many as two days off rail shipments between eastern Canada and the eastern United States, a new freight-hauling agreement was announced Monday [November 8] by Norfolk Southern Corp., Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway. The deal gives Canadian National and Norfolk Southern seamless, direct service over Canadian Pacific's north-south rail lines south of Montreal. Under the arrangement, Canadian Pacific trains will haul Canadian National traffic destined for Norfolk Southern over its line between Rouses Point and Saratoga Springs, New York. Norfolk Southern trains will haul the traffic over Canadian Pacific's line from Saratoga Springs to near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This agreement extends the gains of an agreement Norfolk Southern reached with Canadian Pacific on June 30. Canadian National traffic destined for Norfolk Southern currently is interchanged in Buffalo. The new agreement will cut 330 miles and as many as two days off that circuitous route from eastern Canada. To be implemented November 19, the agreement will affect about 20,000 shipments a year when it goes into effect, the railroads said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-9-04, from article by Christopher Dinsmore posted on the Virginian-Pilot website]

SHORT LINE TO ACQUIRE TWO BNSF LINES IN NEBRASKA: Nebraska, Kansas & Colorado RailNet (NKCR) will acquire two rail lines consisting of nearly 89 miles of track from the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) in Southwestern Nebraska. The two rail lines being acquired by NKCR are between Oxford and Franklin and between Culbertson and Imperial. NKCR will begin operations on both lines November 13, 2004. This additional NKCR trackage will serve customers in the towns of Orleans, Alma, Republican, Naponee, Bloomington and Franklin on the Oxford to Franklin line, and in the towns of Beverly, Palisade, Hamlet, Wauneta, Enders and Imperial on the Culbertson to Imperial line. NKCR was created in 1996, and with this expansion will operate approximately 524 miles of track. NKCR will interchange with BNSF at Oxford for traffic originating or terminating between Oxford and Franklin, and at McCook, Nebraska, for traffic originating or terminating between Culbertson and Imperial. [Nebraska, Kansas & Colorado RailNet, 11-8-04]

BNSF PROMOTES THREE TO REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS: Dave Dealy, vice president, Transportation, today, November 8, announced the promotion of Steve Goodall to regional vice president, North Operations; Mark Kotter to regional vice president, Central Operations, and Chris Roberts to regional vice president, South Operations. Previously, each held the position of assistant vice president for their respective Operations regions. [BNSF Today, 11-8-04]

CSX TRACK-LEASING PLAN IN VIRGINIA IS APPROVED: A Dillwyn-based railroad's plan to lease nearly 200 miles of CSX Corp. track across Virginia got the green light yesterday [Nov. 5] from a federal oversight agency. By a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board approved the deal between CSX and Buckingham Branch Railroad. "We're very pleased that the STB made their decision in order that we can move ahead to meet the needs of the shipping public," said Bob Bryant, president of the privately-held railroad. He admitted that he was relieved about the decision since he has spent considerable time and money getting ready to take over the freight rail line from Richmond to Clifton Forge. Bryant hopes to get rolling by December 20, after completing contract negotiations with CSX. "We're now in a position to buy equipment and continue the process of interviewing and hiring" up to 25 new employees, he said. The Surface Transportation Board, which oversees economic issues of railroads, approved the lease application despite concerns by Amtrak and the state of Virginia over track upkeep. A union representing rail-maintenance workers also objected because of the potential loss of jobs and safety concerns. Bryant has promised to use a $2-million-a-year payment from CSX to maintain and improve the track, which crosses rugged mountain terrain in western Virginia. The dissenting vote on the three-member federal agency came from Vice Chairman Francis P. Mulvey, who said parts of the leasing arrangement were "anti-competitive." Mulvey's dissent cited CSX's attempts to charge Bryant for serving any other major railroads, such as Norfolk Southern Corp. This has been "the most contentious issue" in the contract talks between Bryant and officials at CSX, according to the decision. Bryant said in an interview that CSX has made some concessions on the surcharge issue, "and we agreed to terms." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-6-04, from article by Chip Jones posted on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website]

LITTLE ROCK OPENS FIRST LEG OF RIVER RAIL STREETCAR LINE: On November 1, Little Rock, Arkansas, opened the first leg of its River Rail Streetcar System. The initial 2.5 miles of track connect Little Rock and North Little Rock (on opposite sides of the Arkansas River), with future expansion eyed to such locations as the Little Rock Airport. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-5-04]

WASHINGTON METRO TRAINS COLLIDE: At approximately 12:49 PM on November 4th, two Washington Metro subway trains crashed at the Red Line's Woodley Park Metro station. An empty train bound for Shady Grove lay up tracks had just left the Woodley Park station, headed uphill towards Cleveland Park Station but was stopped by a red signal. The train began to roll backwards down the hill and slammed into the road train, which was stopped at Woodley Park with passengers on it, and it's doors open. The motorman of the empty train and three passengers from the revenue train were injured. None of the injuries were described as life-threatening. [Urban Transit Club]

RAIL TRAFFIC UP IN OCTOBER: U.S. railroads originated 1,406,933 carloads of freight in October 2004, up 1.9 percent (26,466 carloads) over October 2003, and an additional 929,197 trailers and containers, up 10.8 percent (90,505 units) over October 2003, according to this release issued by the Association of American Railroads. Metallic ores (used in steelmaking), coal (destined mainly for power plants and export), and crushed stone and gravel (used in construction and elsewhere) paced U.S. rail carload gains. U.S. railroads originated 64,641 carloads of metallic ores in October 2004, up 17.1 percent (9,432 carloads) over October 2003; coal totaled 543,598 carloads in October 2004, up 1.5 percent (8,171 carloads) over last year; and carloads of crushed stone and gravel totaled 95,232, up 7.4 percent (6,595 carloads) over October 2003. On the down side, carloads of grain totaled 93,107 in October 2004, down 6.4 percent (6,404 carloads) from 2003, while carloads of motor vehicles and equipment totaled 98,309, down 5.5 percent (5,736 carloads) compared with last year. Of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 13 saw carload gains in October 2004 compared with 2003. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-4-04]

FLORIDA BULLET TRAIN PLAN DEFEATED BY VOTERS: A proposed high-speed train network to be built by a consortium led by Canada's Bombardier Inc. was knocked off-track yesterday [Nov. 2] after Florida voters turned against the multibillion-dollar project, according to the Associated Press. Construction had not started, but the first leg connecting Orlando and Tampa had been laid out and a contractor was selected. The cost of that first leg was estimated at more than $2.3-billion. The train was to eventually connect the two areas with Miami. [United Transportation Union, 11-3-04, from Associated Press report]

CSX BLAMES KINK IN TRACK FOR AUGUST DERAILMENT IN ALABAMA: CSX railway officials have said that a "kink" in their railroad track, the result of what was then recent rail line maintenance, caused a 17-car derailment in north Mobile County this fall, according to the Mobile Register. No one was injured August 19 when a 98-car freight train carrying coal split open the tracks near Catfish Bayou in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. CSX spokesman Gary Sease said that the company is reviewing its maintenance policies to find out what changes need to be made to prevent such an incident elsewhere. The Mobile County derailment was the first involving a kink that came on heels of maintenance work, Sease said. At issue is how the track responds to contractions and expansions caused by cold and heat, he said. "This is a track-caused derailment. There was no human error. The maintenance people did everything by the books, and the track kink still occurred, so that's why we're going back and looking at our maintenance policies," Sease said. The track was closed for three days following the derailment while debris was removed and the rail line was repaired, according to reports. The company has not put a dollar value on damage to the train cars or cargo, and Sease was unable to estimate revenue lost as a result of the derailment, or related delays and reroutes for other rail cargo. [United Transportation Union, 11-3-04, from item appearing in the Register]

MAN GETS PRISON IN AMTRAK BOMB THREATS: Five bomb threats against an Amtrak train that crossed Wisconsin last summer will cost an Alaska fish processor nearly four years in prison, a federal judge said Tuesday [Nov. 2]. Michael Conwill, 35, said in August that he made the threats because he was angry at being served food that contained hot peppers earlier in his journey from Seattle. He said they caused an allergic reaction that caused him to be hospitalized briefly in Minot, N.D. Crabb also ordered Conwill to repay Amtrak $28,552 for costs it incurred as a result of his threats. Conwill, of Anchorage, Alaska, was arrested in Chicago for making five calls from his cell phone from aboard an Amtrak train as it rolled through Sauk and Juneau counties on July 6. Because of the threats, the train was stopped in Portage and passengers were taken to a school for several hours while the train was searched. No bombs were found. Conwill was arrested when the train arrived in Chicago after the FBI traced the calls to police dispatchers to his cell phone. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-3-04, from story by Ed Treleven on the Wisconsin State Journal website]

FRA PROPOSES TO ENHANCE CRASHWORTHINESS OF LOCOMOTIVES: Train crews will more likely survive and suffer fewer and less severe injuries from accidents under regulations proposed by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), published in the November 2 Federal Register. Newly manufactured and rebuilt freight locomotives will be designed to meet minimum crashworthiness safety performance standards of the Federal Railroad Administration to better ensure that the structural integrity of the locomotive cab is maintained in the event of an accident or collision. The proposed rule builds upon, and significantly augments, industry standards implemented in 1989. The proposed regulation would require that the locomotive withstand a frontal impact with an object intended to simulate the lading carried by a heavy highway vehicle, as well as an oblique impact with an object simulating a misaligned or offset intermodal container on a train traveling on adjacent parallel track.Proposed standards include the integration of anti-climbing features, collision posts, short-hood structures, and under-frame structural improvements. External fuel tanks will be strengthened to decrease the chance of a rupture and the interior of the locomotive cab will have emergency egress, emergency lighting, and reconfigured controls.The Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, a consensus oriented rulemaking body of representatives from the FRA, the railroad industry, rail labor, manufacturers, suppliers, and others examined this issue and recommended these regulatory improvements. Comments about the proposal may be submitted to the docket for the proceeding (FRA 2004-17645) via the U.S. Department of Transportation online Docket Management System at until January 3, 2005. [Federal Railroad Administration, 11-2-04]

WASHINGTON STATE TAKES OVER SHORT LINE RAILROAD: The state Department of Transportation said it has paid $8-million to take ownership of about 300 miles of shortline railroad track in Eastern Washington and plans to spend $22-million on track improvements. Former owner Watco Inc. has owned and operated the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad since 1992, and the company will continue to handle operations under a 15-year, extendable lease with the state. The rail system provides service to more than 70 businesses in Whitman, Lincoln, Grant, Spokane, Columbia and Walla Walla counties, and handles about 20 percent of the state's grain shipments. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-2-04, from article posted on Puget Sound Business Journal website]

NEW GENESEE & WYOMING SUBSIDIARY INITIATES ILLINOIS OPERATIONS: Today [Nov. 1], newly formed Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) subsidiary the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad Inc. (T&P) began operating 20 track miles in Tazewell and Peoria counties, Illinois. In August, T&P obtained a 20-year contract to lease the assets of terminal railroad Peoria and Pekin Union Railway Co. (PPU), which is owned by Norfolk Southern Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and the Illinois Central Railroad Co. PPU's system is contiguous with GWI subsidiary Illinois & Midland Railroad, which is based in Springfield, Ill. GWI owns or holds interest in more than 24 regionals and short lines in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bolivia and Australia. [, 11-1-04]

CSX FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILS IN D.C.: Eight cars on a CSX freight train with 61 cars derailed Saturday morning [Oct. 30], delaying Amtrak service, authorities said. The cars, carrying the rock ballast used to level railroad tracks, jumped the tracks at 5:08 a.m. near the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and Fourth Street in northeast, according to Gary Sease, spokesman for the rail company. Three of the cars landed on their side and lost all or part of their contents. One track was restored at 7 p.m. and the other is expected to be fixed Sunday, Sease said. No one was injured, News4 reported. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-31-04, from News4, Washington, D.C., website]

GEORGE BENSON DIES, SEATTLE RAIL ACTIVIST: George Benson, 85, a long time Seattle-area rail activist who was primarily responsible for the construction of the Seattle Waterfront Streetcar, died October 25. Although the project was fraught with cost overruns andwas dubbed by some as "Benson's Folly," the trolleys have been wildly popular and a major stimulus to revitalization on the Seattle Waterfront. For his efforts and the two decades he spent on the Seattle City Council, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Public Transit Association in 1997. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-29-04]

CSX REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation today [Oct. 28] reported its financial results for the third quarter of 2004. Net earnings were $123-million or 57 cents per share, including a net gain on the Conrail spin-off transaction. Consolidated operating income was $264-million. Surface transportation revenue, including rail and intermodal, increased $115-million to $1.94-billion. In the quarter, merchandise revenue was up six percent and coal revenue was up 10 percent. Third quarter net earnings include a favorable impact of $14-million or seven cents per share associated with the net gain from the Conrail spin-off transaction slightly offset by management restructuring charges. The 2003 third quarter had a net loss of $103-million or 48 cents per share, including after-tax charges of $219-million or $1.02 per share reflecting various expenses taken in that quarter for occupational, arbitration settlements and management restructuring. [CSX, 10-28-04]

NEW YORK'S PROJECT FOR PENN STATION IS MOVING AGAIN: The $910-million plan to transform the city's former central post office building into a grand new Pennsylvania Station is once again lurching forward. State officials said yesterday that they had lined up two anchor tenants and most of the financing and were close to picking a developer. The state has narrowed the list of potential developers to four from six and is now asking for specific proposals for converting the blocklong James A. Farley Building on Eighth Avenue into a gleaming Moynihan Station, named after the senator who was its champion. The state expects to choose a developer in March and to start construction next summer. Both New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road have told state officials that they want to have tracks and space at the station, replacing Amtrak as the anchor tenant. Earlier this year, Amtrak left the project because of money problems, choosing to remain in the existing Penn Station across Eighth Avenue. Amtrak has said it will cooperate with the project and allow access to the tracks and platforms below the Farley. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-28-04, from article by Charles V. Bagli posted on the New York Times website]

BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY MEMBERS VOTE TO MERGE WITH TEAMSTERS: By a 76 percent majority, members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Wednesday [October 27] voted in favor of merging with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The BMWE now joins the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen as a member of the Teamsters' Rail Conference. With the addition of the BMWE, more than 40 percent of rail labor is now organized under the Teamster umbrella. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-27-04]

NJ TRANSIT RAIL STATION IN THE WORKS: Bayonne is getting a fourth station on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit system - but don't look for trains pulling in anytime soon, according to the Jersey Journal. Mayor Joseph V. Doria Jr. said yesterday [Oct. 26] that NJ Transit, which operates the rail line for 21st Century Rail Corp., has put out architectural plans for the newest Bayonne station, at Eighth Street, where the old Central Railroad once operated a station. Doria, who made the disclosure at the annual meeting of the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce, said the new station is being designed to resemble that old facility, which served commuters for three generations. "Longtime residents will recall the elegant Central Railroad station that stood on West Eighth Street until a generation ago," Doria said in a prepared statement. "I would like to thank New Jersey Transit for planning to restore an important part of our community, which many people thought would never come back." Doria said that track would be extended south from the current light rail terminus at 22nd Street within 24 to 30 months, and that an elevator would carry passengers from street level to the elevated track and platform. Doria said engineering plans for the extension of track are about 30 percent completed. But it will likely take the "next few years" for NJ Transit to acquire all the land it needs for the new station, Doria said. Asked about the city's announcement yesterday, NJ Transit spokeswoman Janet Hines confirmed its accuracy, adding that it would probably be "several years" before the new station would be operational. Hines was unable to provide an estimate for how much it would cost to build the station. Central Railroad's Victorian style Eighth Street station, designed by architect Frank V. Bodine, opened in 1892, serving riders bound for Bayonne, other New Jersey communities, New York City and parts of the Northeast. [United Transportation Union, 10-27-04, from item in the Jersey Journal]

OMNITRAX LEASES CSXT'S FULCO BRANCH LINE: OmniTRAX, an affiliate of The Broe Companies, has announced that it has concluded a lease of CSXT's Fulco Branch Line near Atlanta, Ga., effective at 12:01 a.m., Saturday, October 23, 2004. Fulton County Railway, LLC, a subsidiary of OmniTRAX began operations at that time. David Lutz serves as President of Fulton County Railway, and Larry Davis is Director of Marketing and Sales. According to CSXT and OmniTRAX representatives, this new lease agreement will help enhance service to the Fulton Industrial District and expand opportunities for economic growth and development in the area. The agreement will advance the concept of Fulton as an integrated logistics center. It is another positive step toward providing the Fulton Business District the type of service it requires to become one of the Southeast's major transportation hubs. OmniTRAX will immediately embark on numerous infrastructure improvements including rail replacement, installation of 2000 ties, installation of three new switches, and surfacing. OmniTRAX is the largest privately held rail services company in North America. With its headquarters in Denver, Colorado, OmniTRAX owns and operates eleven short-line railroads in six states and three Canadian Provinces.[OmniTRAX, 10-26-04]

BNSF REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation has reported third-quarter 2004 earnings of $0.01 per share which includes a net of tax charge of $288-million, or $0.76 per share to reflect changes in the way BNSF estimates asbestos and environmental liabilities. Third-quarter 2003 earnings per share were $0.55. "We achieved an all-time record for quarterly revenues which enabled BNSF to record its third consecutive quarterly double-digit revenue increase," said Matthew K. Rose, BNSF Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Substantial unit volume increases in three of our four business groups contributed to this strong performance." Third-quarter 2004 freight revenues increased $373-million, or 16 percent, to an all-time quarterly record of $2.74-billion compared with 2003 third-quarter revenues of $2.37-billion. Of the 16 percent increase, about 3 percent was driven by fuel surcharges and about 3 percent came from price increases. [BNSF 10-26-04]

ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, TO EXPAND AMTRAK COMMUTER SERVICE: On Monday, October 25, the Orange County Transportation Authority announced that it had reached an agreement with Caltrans and Amtrak to expand commuter rail service between Orange County and Los Angeles. On November 17, two Amtrak trains will add weekday service between Los Angeles and the Laguna Niguel-Mission Viejo station. Another Amtrak train from Los Angeles will begin stopping in the afternoon at the transportation center in Orange. One Laguna Niguel train will depart for Los Angeles at 12:15 p.m. The other will head from Los Angeles to Laguna Niguel at 7:25 p.m. The third train will depart Los Angeles at 2 p.m. and arrive at the Orange station. Metrolink passengers who buy 10-day passes will be allowed to use those passes to ride any Amtrak commuter service. That convenience is now extended only to Metrolink's monthly pass holders. [United Transportation Union, 10-26-04, from article by Dan Weikel published by the Los Angeles Times]

UNION PACIFIC TRAIN ENGINEER FIRED FOLLOWING TEXAS ACCIDENT: Union Pacific Railroad has fired a train engineer who survived a deadly train derailment in south Bexar County, Texas, in late June, KSAT 12 News reported. U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, of San Antonio, told KSAT 12 News on Monday (Oct. 25) that a member of the National Transportation Safety Board told him that human error is likely the reason why Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains collided on June 28, rupturing a tanker filled with toxic chemicals that ended up killing three people and forcing hundreds more to evacuate. Union Pacific officials would not comment on the engineer's firing. Gonzalez said he wants to find out if railroad companies are behind the times when it comes to developing and utilizing new technologies. He said railroad companies need to have a backup system in place when human error occurs, so accidents can be avoided. [United Transportation Union, 10-26-04, from reporty by KSAT-12 News]

AMTRAK ANNOUNCES NEW TICKET EXCHANGE POLICY: Starting November 1, the railroad will eliminate its existing change fees as long as the customer buys another Amtrak ticket of equal or greater value or takes a credit toward future travel. Currently, ticket change fees are $30 for adults and $15 for children. Under the new policy, the only time a fee would apply is if the traveler asks for money back. In those cases, there will be a service charge equal to 10 percent of the ticket's value, up to a maximum of $100. The same service charge would apply to refunds for onboard accommodations as long as the reservation is canceled at least one hour before departure. If the reservation is not canceled within that time frame, the cost of the onboard accommodation still could be credited toward future travel within one year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen 10-25-04, from article by Internet Broadcasting Systems]

TEXAS RAIL DISTRICT TRIES TO GET BNSF RAIL LINK: The Matagorda County Rail Transportation District (MCRTD) is considering hiring a consultant to develop a way to keep rail traffic flowing into northern Bay City, Texas. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad Co. (BNSF) filed a petition this month to abandon about 13 miles of track that links Bay City and Lane City along Texas 60, plus an eight-mile segment from Lane City to Newgulf. BNSF officials maintain that the rail lines have had no local traffic in the past two years, according to a required environmental assessment. The abandoned lines could have a negative impact on the city's industrial park, said Andy Hawkins, MCRTD board member. "If other businesses want to set up by the rail spur, and it is abandoned, then we're dead in the water," he said. One option would be to contract with a company specializing in short freight trips to link lines north of the segment BNSF wants to close with rail traffic south of Bay City, Hawkins said. "What you would do is use a short-hauler to move cars between the two lines," Hawkins said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-24-04, from article by Michael Smith posted on the Bay City Tribune website]

D.C. HAZMAT REROUTING DECISION DELAYED: D.C. lawmakers and environmentalists are accusing the Bush administration of waiting until after the November 2 election to decide whether to require railroads to route hazardous materials around Washington, charging that security is taking a back seat to politics. Since the District introduced legislation a year ago to bar hazardous material shipments from a CSX Corp. rail line through the city, the Transportation Security Administration has missed several self-imposed deadlines to address the issue. Each year, as many as 8,500 rail cars carrying chlorine, ammonia and hydrochloric and sulfuric acid roll through the city. About 6 million tons of chemical freight a year traverses the capital along the CSX route, passing within four blocks of the Capitol, south of the Mall and across the Potomac River, according to the National Capital Planning Commission, which wants to study moving the line. The city and the Bush administration have been grappling with how to regulate the highly toxic chemicals. Critics contend that the administration already has decided to allow the chemical industry to voluntarily reroute potentially dangerous chemicals but that it is withholding an announcement until mid-November. Department of Homeland Security officials said that no such decision has been made and that delays in funding and program planning are to blame for the timing, not politics. Administration and industry officials said that environmental groups, several of which favor Democrats, are the ones playing politics and that such groups as Greenpeace, which is lobbying for a ban, have longstanding positions against any use of some toxic chemicals. Administration sources said they face criticism either way; if they announced a ban on hazardous material shipments in the capital, Bush would be denounced for fanning terrorism fears before the election. At the request of Homeland Security, CSX has delayed or rerouted hazmat shipments during certain events, including the State of the Union address and last year's NFL season kickoff celebration on the Mall. But federal regulators and rail and chemical industry representatives said that a permanent ban on shipments through the District would trigger a rush by any number of cities and states to shift the risk elsewhere, disrupting the economy, raising costs and creating other security problems. CSX, the Association of American Railroads and the American Chemistry Council said they are working with government to add safeguards, many of them classified, including guards, surveillance, around-the-clock communication with federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies and stronger rail cars. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-25-04, from article by Spencer S. Hsu and Sari Horwitz posted on the Washington Post website]

DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST RESTART OF FREIGHT LINE IN NEW JERSEY: Demonstrators in Springfield, N.J., stayed clear of the police at a protest yesterday [October 24] against the resumption of freight rail service along the Rahway Valley Line, according to the Star-Ledger. The Coalition to Stop the Train had promised to block traffic on Mountain Avenue but abandoned that plan when Union County officials warned the group that it would have to buy liability insurance for demonstrators who put themselves in harm's way. The crowd of about 150 clung to a small patch of grass across from the Springfield Fire Department and yards from a planned rail crossing. Speakers used a microphone to draw attention to their "stop the train" message. "We will continue to fight to stop this train from coming through our municipalities," said Robert Sheehan of Summit. The coalition is attempting to derail Morristown and Erie Railroad's plan for the Rahway Valley Line from Cranford to Summit. The line has been dormant for more than 10 years but could see activity in a year. Service on the old Staten Island Railroad that stretches from Cranford to Linden is also being reactivated and could be ready by year's end. Protesters argue the trains are dangerous because the lines cut across major roads like Route 28 in Roselle Park, The Boulevard in Kenilworth, Mountain Avenue in Springfield andbehind hundreds of homes. The federal government has refused to kill the plan. The Union County freeholders agreed to the revitalization plan last year. Trains would run no more than three times a week in the first two years of operation. During the third year, the train traffic would increase to three to five times a week. [United Transportation Union, 10-25-04, from item appearing in the Star-Ledger]

RAILROADS SET TOTAL FREIGHT VOLUME RECORD: U.S. railroads moved more freight during the week ended October 16 than during any previous week on record, according to this release issued by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Total volume of 33.1 billion ton-miles broke the previous record of 32.7 billion ton-miles set just one week earlier. It also represented a 2.2 percent increase over total volume during the comparable week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-21-04]

NJ TRANSIT OPENS MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY STATION: On October 20, New Jersey Transit opened the Montclair State University Station and parking deck on the Montclair-Boonton Line in Little Falls. The 1,500-space parking deck is part of the state's commitment to increase NJ Transit parking by 20,000 spaces by 2007. The agency has added more than 7,000 new spaces throughout the system during the past two years. The station features an elevated pedestrian overpass serving the deck and center island platform, four elevators, a climate-controlled pedestrian overpass, and a coffee and pastry shop. Agency officials expect the new station to add about 1,800 riders to the system. [, 10-21-04]

CSX ADOPTS POLICY ON RIGHTS PLANS: Recently, the CSX board approved a policy regarding shareholder rights plans, or "poison pills." Under this policy, any future shareholder rights plan would only be adopted by a majority of the independent directors of CSX if they determine adoption is consistent with the exercise of their fiduciary duties. In addition, under this policy, any rights plan adopted by the board without shareholder approval would expire in one year unless ratified by shareholders. CSX does not currently have a shareholder rights plan. Last year its board took action to terminate the CSX rights plan. [CSX, 10-20-04]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: Union Pacific Corp. has reported 2004 third-quarter income from continuing operations of $202-million or 77 cents per diluted share, down from $300-million or $1.15 per diluted share in the third-quarter of 2003. "Our $3.1-billion in third-quarter operating revenue marks the second consecutive quarter of railroad revenue over the $3-billion mark and our best total revenue ever as a company," said Dick Davidson, chairman and CEO. "However, unprecedented fuel prices and high operating costs resulting from our service inefficiencies outweighed the revenue growth."

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RESPONDS TO STB VOTE ON RATE CASES: Norfolk Southern Corporation said it is pleased that the Surface Transportation Board (STB) has voted to uphold the Company's rates on certain coal movements in the two pending rate cases brought by Duke Energy Corp. and Carolina Power & Light Company. In the ruling, the STB invited Duke Energy and Carolina Power & Light to initiate proceedings to determine whether the phase-in constraints of the Constrained Market Pricing Guidelines should apply. Accordingly, the Company cannot determine the impact of the decisions at this time. Norfolk Southern will continue to monitor developments in the two cases. [Norfolk Suthern, 10-20-04]

FIRE IN CREW CAR DELAYS AMTRAK TRAIN: Fire broke out in the crew dorm car of an Amtrak passenger train headed east from Toledo early yesterday [October 19], but no one was injured seriously, and the train resumed its journey after a three-hour delay. Employees in the dorm car saw smoke and tripped the Lake Shore Limited's emergency brake about 2:05 a.m., bringing the train to a stop near Gypsum, Ohio, in Ottawa County, 37 miles east of Toledo. After the dorm car and the passenger car ahead of it in the train were evacuated, the engines uncoupled the rest of the train from those cars and pulled ahead while several local fire departments responded to the call. Several employees were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. After a three-hour, nine-minute delay, the train reconnected to the empty passenger car and resumed its trip to New York and Boston with its estimated 198 passengers and crew of 12. The extent of the fire and its cause were not immediately known. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-20-04, from report on Toledo Blade website]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN 3-Q PROFIT RISES: Rail transportation firm Norfolk Southern Corp. more than doubled its third-quarter profit, helped by surging railway revenue and a one-time gain from the reorganization of its Conrail unit, according to the Associated Press. The company's quarterly income was $288-million, or 72 cents per share, up from $137-million, or 35 cents, in the year-ago period. Excluding a gain of $53-million, or 13 cents per share, from reorganizing Conrail, Norfolk's earnings of 59 cents per share topped estimates of 54 cents from analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call. Total railway revenue rose 16 percent to $1.86-billion from $1.6-billion last year, with merchandise ship revenue rising 10 percent to $1-billion, coal revenue up 20 percent to $447-million and intermodal revenue climbing 29 percent to $404 million. Meanwhile, total railway operating expenses increased 8 percent for the quarter to $1.39-billion. [United Transportation Union, 10-20-04, from Associated Press]

INDIANA & OHIO COMPLETES PURCHASE OF CSX LINE IN OHIO: RailAmerica, Inc. yesterday (Oct. 18) said that its subsidiary, Indiana & Ohio Central Railroad, Inc. (IOCR), completed its $8.6-million purchase of 107 miles of railroad from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Columbus, Ohio (the Midland Subdivision), and the long-term lease of the related real estate from CSX Corporation's subsidiary, CSX Transportation, Inc., according to this release issued by RailAmerica. The line will be operated as part of the IOCR, which anticipates moving approximately 19,000 carloads annually over the line. The IOCR connects with the Midland Subdivision at Washington Courthouse, Ohio, and RailAmerica's Indiana & Ohio Railway (IORY) at Springfield, Ohio. Major customers on the line are Cargill, Sabina Farmer's Exchange, Lowe's and Weyerhaeuser. Primary commodities shipped on the line are agricultural & farm products, chemicals, and paper products. [RailAmerica, 10-18-04]

DEFECT FOUND IN CALIFORNIA RAIL LINE: Rail officials said a defect in a steel track was the probable cause of a break in the railroad line that sent a Union Pacific cargo train crashing into the backyards of a neighborhood on the edge of Whittier, California, where distraught residents were allowed Sunday (Oct. 17) to gather a few belongings from their homes as cleanup continued, according to this report by Richard Fausset published by the Los Angeles Times. A Union Pacific metallurgist discovered the imperfection in the rail line a few hours after the Saturday-morning derailment, said Mark W. Davis, a spokesman for the railroad. The crash sent boxcars and metal containers lurching into barbecues and garden plots, and caused a quarter-mile mess that was visible from the adjacent 605 Freeway. Four homes were damaged, one deemed uninhabitable, but no one was seriously injured. A 6-foot rail segment with the defect was being sent to Washington, D.C., to be further analyzed by the National Transportation Safety Board. Davis said he did not know the nature of the defect but ruled out foul play. The stretch of track, which is shared by Metrolink's Los Angeles-to-Riverside commuter train, was expected to reopen by Sunday evening. [United Transportation Union, 10-18-04, from report by Richard Fausset published by the Los Angeles Times]

BNSF REALIGNS DIVISIONS IN CALIFORNIA: The Northern California and Southern California divisions will be realigned into two new operating divisions in order to enable BNSF to better manage the increase in traffic through Pacific Southwest ports, it was announced today, October 18, by Dave Dealy, vice president, Transportation. The changes are effective November 1. The Los Angeles Division is responsible for operations on the Alameda Corridor and Harbor subdivisions and the San Bernardino Subdivision west of Bandini (Milepost 149.8), and includes the Hobart terminal and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Rob Reilly has been promoted to general manager of the Los Angeles Division; he previously served as the Southern California Division's general director transportation. The California Division will include the Northern California Division and the Southern California Division territory not included in the Los Angeles Division. Michael Shircliff has been named to lead the California Division; he was previously general manager of the Southern California Division. Steve Weatherby, general manager of the Northern California Division, is retiring from BNSF November 1. [BNSF Today, 10-18-04]

UNION PACIFIC DONATES WILLAMETTE BRIDGE TO CITY OF SALEM, OREGON: Union Pacific Railroad announced October 15 it is donating the former railroad branch line bridge over the Willamette River to the City of Salem, Oregon. The railroad also has agreed to establish a fund for maintenance of the bridge over the next four years. In addition, Union Pacific will donate land for a park and trail to access the bridge on the west side of Wallace Road. Union Pacific's predecessor in Salem, Southern Pacific, stopped using the bridge in the early 1970s. The bridge has been the focus of attention for recreational uses for many years. [Union Pacific, 10-15-04]

BOMBARDIER AWARDED ORDER FOR RAIL CARS IN NEW MEXICO: Bombardier Transportation has received a $22-million order for the design and manufacturing of new commuter vehicles for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the company said. Bombardier will provide 10 Bi-Level commuter rail vehicles, six cab cars and four coaches which will be used to provide transportation between Belen and Bernalillo. The vehicles will be built at Bombardier's Thunder Bay, Ontario, manufacturing facility. Production will begin in the coming months and first deliveries are expected in the summer of 2005, the company said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-14-04, from report in Canadian Press]

AMTRAK OPENS REPAIR YARD IN WEST OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: Think of Jiffy Lube for trains and you'll get a sense for why Amtrak's big guns got excited Tuesday [October 12] about opening a new $71-million maintenance facility in the West Oakland rail yards. The operative word here is jiffy, and that's good news to Amtrak's California Zephyr tourists and routine riders on the inter-city Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin lines. A specially designed system of parallel tracks and trenches allow some of the 150 mechanics to replace a wheel set in an hour. A few hundred yards down the tracks, they can wash an entire train in three minutes. Inside a huge hangar just off Third Street, crews can scour over a locomotive from top to bottom, replenishing the diesel engine with mechanical fluids while co-workers repair the undercarriages. The entire 22-acre facility, visible just from the main line between Oakland's Jack London Square and Emeryville stations, replaces a 100-year-old shed in the heart - and in the way - of Union Pacific's freight rail yards. Amtrak is hiring an unspecified number of mechanics to work at the new maintenance yard. When the Amtrak Kirkham Maintenance Facility goes into full operation next month, Amtrak will service all of 20 locomotives and 78 rail cars on the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins. Previously trains had to take a three-day detour to be serviced in Los Angeles. It means more reliable service and cleaner trains on Amtrak's third- and fifth-busiest inter-city rail lines. That's one of the reasons the Caltrans Rail Division, which pays for that Oakland-based service, poured $38-million into the new maintenance yard. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-13-04, from article by Sean Holstege posted on the Tri-Valley Herald website]

CONGRESS APPROVES KEY RAILROAD TAX MEASURES: The United States Congress has given final approval to a corporate tax package that includes two major railroad provisions: repeal of the 4.3 cent per gallon fuel tax paid by all railroads and a tax credit for the maintenance of track for Class II and Class III railroads, reports the Association of American Railroads. The Senate adjourned after voting 69-17 to send the corporate tax measure (HR 4520) to the President's desk for signature. The House of Representatives had passed the measure by a vote of 280 -141 October 7. The White House has stated that the President will sign the bill. The 4.3 cent per gallon fuel tax costs carriers $170-million annually in excise taxes directed to the general Treasury. The 4.3 cent tax will be phased out over two years, with a one-cent reduction effective January 1, 2005, two cents by July 1, 2005 and then full repeal on January 1, 2007. The railroad track maintenance credit is available for any Class II or Class III railroad, as well as any person who transports property using Class II or Class III rail facilities. The credit is limited to 50 percent of the amount of qualifying railroad track maintenance expenditures and is capped by the total of $3,500 times the number of miles owned or leased by the Class II or Class III railroad. Qualifying expenditures include such things as roadbed, bridges, related track structures and track signaling. [BNSF Today, 10-13-04]

AMTRAK SETS RECORD RIDERSHIP: For the second year in a row, Amtrak has posted its highest ridership ever. The federally subsidized railroad, a continual source of debate in Congress, carried 25,053,564 passengers nationwide in the fiscal year that ended September 30. That's a 4.3 percent increase over the previous year's ridership of 24,028,119 - the previous record-setting total for the 33-year-old Amtrak system. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-12-04, from Copley News Service article by Mike Ramsey]

BNSF TO ESTABLISH LOGISTICS CENTER IN CALIFORNIA: BNSF announced October 11 it will establish BNSF Logistics Center-Fontana at the Kaiser Commerce Center about 13 miles west of San Bernardino. Construction of the facility will begin in late 2004 and it is scheduled to open third quarter 2005. This facility will provide transload services for all types of commodities such as: Dimensional commodities such as lumber and steel; commodities that require warehousing such as consumer goods; and bulk commodities, which are loaded directly from rail to truck or truck to rail. When completed, the combined facilities will bring approximately 300 jobs to the area. [BNSF Today, 10-11-04]

TRAINS SIDESWIPE IN BALTIMORE: Two CSXT freight trains collided about noontime Sunday [October 10] about a block and a half south of M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, would have been alive with activity at that time of day had the Ravens been playing an afternoon game there. Instead the Ravens were playing away that evening. According to news reports, two crew members were injured in the accident, and they were transported to the nearby Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Injuries were said not to be life-threatening. The trains involved were reportedly moving in opposite directions. One had just emerged from the Howard Street tunnel, and the other would have eventually taken its turn to pass through the tunnel, which is single-track, according to news reports. Units from the Baltimore City Fire Department responded to the scene, but there was no fire. The scene of the accident is along the route used by MARC Camden Line commuter trains between Baltimore and Washington, but MARC trains do not operate on Sundays. It is less than a quarter of a mile from the location known as "Baileys Wye," a junction used by the railroad connecting Locust Point to the east with the main line running geographically northeast and southwest between the north part of Baltimore and points northeast thereof, and the south and west toward Virginia and the Midwest. The Howard Street tunnel, about a mile north of the accident site, was the scene in July 2001 of a massive fire from a derailment that closed the tunnel for about a week and caused extensive disruption in Baltimore's downtown area.

AAR SELECTS VIRGINIA TECH TO HOST NEW RESEARCH LAB: Railroad traffic - both freight and passenger - has increased to record levels in the United States during the past few years, and the railroad industry is in need of new technologies to help ensure the future of railway infrastructure and operations. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has chosen Virginia Tech's College of Engineering to host an affiliated laboratory for research in critical technical areas. The AAR, whose members include Amtrak and the major freight railroads in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, is the world's leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. The AAR agreement with Virginia Tech includes an annual grant of $200,000 that the engineering college will use to establish the Railway Technologies Laboratory. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-8-04]

ILLINOIS RAILNET ACQUIRES TWO BNSF LINES IN ILLINOIS: Illinois RailNet will acquire two rail lines consisting of nearly 25 miles of track from BNSF in northern Illinois. The two rail lines being acquired by Illinois RailNet are between Oregon (Illinois), and Mt. Morris; and between Zearing and La Salle. Illinois RailNet will take control of operations on both lines on October 9. This additional Illinois RailNet trackage will serve customers in the towns of Oregon, Mt. Morris, Ladd, La Salle, Spring Valley and Peru, Ill. Illinois RailNet was created in 1997 and with this expansion will operate 113 miles of track. Illinois RailNet will interchange with BNSF at Oregon and/or Flag Center for traffic originating or terminating between Oregon and Mt. Morris, and at Zearing for traffic originating or terminating between Zearing and La Salle. [BNSF Today, 10-8-04]

DELAYED CSX PROJECTS TO BEGIN: The 100-mile railroad between Richmond and Washington will get a $65.7-million makeover now that its owner has agreed to get the project going, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch. CSX Corp. signed a construction agreement yesterday [Oct. 6] with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation that uses state rail funds to make long-needed improvements for a smoother and more predictable passenger rail network along the Interstate 95 corridor. While most of the work is north of Richmond, CSX officials said the agreement could spark other upgrades between the suburban Amtrak station on Staples Mill Road and Main Street Station downtown. Gov. Mark R. Warner also received a conciliatory note from the railroad's top executive, after months of often-tense negotiations between CSX and Virginia officials. "I want to stress that despite the frustration about the length of time it has taken to complete the many steps needed to get to this point, we have negotiated in good faith throughout the process," wrote Michael J. Ward, chairman, president and chief executive of CSX. Ward noted that "this agreement was the first of its kind for CSX, and many of the terms and conditions have set precedent that should make our business dealings easier in the future." He defended the company from recent criticism by Warner's top rail official over CSX's seeming reluctance to spend $65.7-million approved by the 2000 General Assembly. The state appropriation was meant to improve the rail system and make it easier for Amtrak passenger trains to run between the capital cities. "I can assure you that CSX is committed to learning from this experience and will work together with you to improve the process from both sides," he wrote. Ward asked to meet with Warner "to establish a common set of expectations and set the tone for our relationship." After they meet, Ward said, he wants senior CSX representatives to have "more in-depth discussions" with Virginia rail and public transportation officials. "I sincerely hope this gives you a clear signal that we are committed to strengthening the positive and productive relationship that has existed between CSX and the Commonwealth for many years." The state allocation will pay for six projects in the next few years that will add to CSX's track capacity. The improvements should give the railroad more places to move freight trains when passenger trains need to pass by on the main line. The first project could begin in mid-November in Stafford County, where $5.5-million has been earmarked to build a connection between two tracks, and new signals are to be installed between Quantico and Fredericksburg. [United Transportation Union, 10-7-04, from report by Richmond Times Dispatch]

AMTRAK WITHDRAWS FROM NEW YORK PENN STATION PROJECT: Amtrak's withdrawal from the new Penn Station project threatens to blow a massive budget hole in the plan and knock it off track, state officials said, according to the New York Daily News. Amtrak was expected to be a paying tenant in the new hub in the Farley Post Office, and pony up $50-million to upgrade the underground ventilation system for the current platforms and tracks west of Eighth Ave., state officials said. Amtrak, however, has told the state it is backing out because of budgetary problems, development officials said. An Amtrak spokesman said he couldn't confirm whether the heavily subsidized rail system had ever pledged the money. Either way, loss of the $50-million presents even bigger money problems for the project, which is being spearheaded by the Empire State Development Corp. The lack of full funding will - for legal reasons - stop officials from tapping into another $315-million in revenue streams, including proceeds expected from bond sales, state officials and project supporters say. "Unless they plug the hole, the project has high risk of mortality," said Lee Sander, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at NYU. The new $910-million hub, championed by the late Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.), is designed to bring back the grandeur of the original station, demolished in the 1960s. It also would provide better access to and from platforms, increase train service, reduce overcrowding and boost local redevelopment, supporters say. [United Transportation Union, 10-7-04, from report published in the Daily News]

SALE OF TFM RAILWAY TO KCS APPROVED BY MEXICO: Kansas City Southern Inc. (KCS) said Wednesday (Oct. 6) that Mexican authorities reversed an earlier decision and approved the company's purchase of a stake in the country's main rail line, according to this Reuters report. Mexico's foreign investment commission approved the $412 million sale of Mexican transport company TMM's stake in TFM, which operates the country's main rail line, after TMM and U.S based Kansas City Southern (KCS) appealed a September decision to nix the deal. Kansas City Southern Chairman Michael Haverty said this week's decision "is consistent with previous decisions by the commission." TFM is currently 41 percent owned by TMM, KCS has 39 percent, and the Mexican government owns the rest. In Mexico, the approval of the foreign investment commission is needed before a foreign company can take control of a Mexican railway. Struggling with large debts, TMM agreed in April 2003 to sell its TFM stake to Kansas City Southern but then called off the deal in August last year. Kansas City Southern opposed the pullout and both sides eventually agreed to arbitration. A panel came down in favor of Kansas City Southern. [United Transportation Union, 10-6-04, from report by Reuters]

SOUTHWESTERN RAILROAD LEASING NEW MEXICO LINE FROM BNSF: Southwestern Railroad, Inc. (SWRR) is now serving rail customers on 263 miles of track between Loving Junction and Clovis, N.M. SWRR is leasing the line, known as the Carlsbad Subdivision, from BNSF and began operations over the line Sunday, Oct. 3. This additional SWRR trackage will serve customers at the stations of Cameo, Portales, Yerba, Delphos, Kermit, Elida, Tornero, Kenna, Boaz, Campbell, Acme, Melena, Poe, Roswell, South Springs, Chisum, Dexter, Hagerman, Espuela, Artesia, Atoka, Dayton, Lakewood, Avalon, Carlsbad, Otis, and Loving, N.M. SWRR will interchange with BNSF at Clovis, N.M. With the addition of the Carlsbad Subdivision, SWRR consists of three distinct operations, with lines in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. SWRR began operations in June 1990 on lines purchased from the Santa Fe Railway, a BNSF predecessor. [BNSF Today, 10-5-04]

TRI-RAIL GETS FUNDING FOR DOUBLE-TRACK PROJECT: The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $13.6-million grant Monday [Oct. 4] to Tri-Rail to help pay for the agency's double-tracking project, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which runs the commuter train, has received $94.9-million so far to help pay for the $334 million project. The latest funding is part of a $110-million grant the Federal Transit Administration approved for the project in 2000. The second track is scheduled for completion by November 2005. Rush-hour trains will run every 20 minutes in early 2006 after a new high-level bridge carrying the tracks over the New River in Fort Lauderdale is finished. [United Transportation Union, 10-5-04, from item appearing in the Sun Sentinel]

SEPTA RAIL PACT RATIFIED: By an eight-to-one margin, UTU-represented conductors and assistant conductors employed by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's rail division have ratified a new agreement. SEPTA's board of directors still must approve the new contract before it becomes effective. The agreement resolves the matter of longevity pay in favor of the UTU. "The agreement is an important recognition by SEPTA that the pay of conductors and engineers is wed together," said UTU International Vice President Bruce Wigent, who assisted UTU Local 61. General Chairperson Ralph Vazquez in the negotiations. The agreement was reached in September as a second presidential emergency board (PEB) was considering the last final offer of the two parties. In May, an earlier PEB agreed with the UTU position regarding the issue of longevity pay, but SEPTA rejected those PEB recommendations. Under special commuter provisions of the Railway Labor Act, up to two PEBs may be appointed when the parties are unable to reach agreement. The dispute began after SEPTA agreed to provide engineers, represented by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, with longevity pay, but declined to extend the same pattern to UTU-represented conductors. Wigent and Vazquez successfully argued before that first PEB that since engineers, conductors and assistant conductors must work together cooperatively as members of train crews - assuring trains run safely and efficiently - that the longevity pay pattern applicable to engineers apply as well to conductors and assistant conductors. If SEPTA's board of directors fails to approve this latest UTU-ratified agreement, the second PEB shall submit a report to the White House setting forth its determination of the most reasonable offer. SEPTA's commuter rail division, which employs 365 conductors and assistant conductors represented by UTU Local 61, includes 13 separate train routes providing 28.1 million passenger trips annually. [United Transportation Union, 10-2-04]

TRAIN STATION AT STURTEVANT, WISCONSIN, TO BE REPLACED: The long-planned project to replace the dilapidated Amtrak station in Sturtevant, Wisc. got the approval of Sturtevant's Village Board on Tuesday [September 28]. Legal issues between the Village, Amtrak, and Canadian Pacific Railway have been resolved, and the project can move forward. Construction on the $3.2-million project will begin in the Spring. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-1-04]

UNION PACIFIC ORDERS 315 LOCOMOTIVES: Union Pacific Railroad has ordered 315 diesel-electric locomotives designed to significantly decrease air emissions. This decision follows a testing program that Union Pacific began over a year ago. The new low-emission locomotives will satisfy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "railroad Tier 2" emission regulations that become effective January 1, 2005. Currently, about 35 percent of Union Pacific's 7,861-unit locomotive fleet is certified under existing EPA Tier 0 and Tier 1 regulations which govern air emissions. That gives Union Pacific the most environmentally friendly locomotive fleet in the nation. The new 1ocomotives produce approximately the same horsepower as existing locomotives, but will reduce air emissions as much as 40 percent. Delivery is scheduled in the first half of 2005. [Union Pacific, 9-30-04]

MILLIONS FOR CSX RAIL UPGRADES UNSPENT: Virginia's top public rail official yesterday [Sept. 29] said she was "disappointed and frustrated" with CSX Corp. for delaying a $65.7-million upgrade of the rail system between Richmond and Washington. The improvements are a cornerstone of the state's efforts to make Amtrak more reliable and faster between the capital cities. Better service, in turn, is considered key to luring passengers back to Richmond's reopened Main Street Station. "Why isn't the railroad spending the $65-million?" asked Karen J. Rae, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation at a conference at Main Street Station. The 2000 General Assembly allocation was meant to improve the rail system along the busy I-95 corridor. The goal is to give motorists an incentive to take an Amtrak train rather than add to traffic congestion. Only about $2-million of the allocation has been spent to date, mostly for environmental studies. The bulk of the work has been awaiting the final go-ahead from CSX. Rae delivered a frank assessment of the sometimes rocky relationship between Virginia transportation officials and CSX, which owns and operates the 100 miles of track from Richmond to Washington. Rae said she is concerned about Virginia's inability to get CSX, the nation's third-largest railroad, to stay on track to do the improvements. "We have some cooperation at CSX, but I'm not sure it's through the whole corporate structure," she said in an interview. In mid-July, Rae and CSX officials announced an agreement that allowed six projects to move forward. Since then, she said, CSX has raised new issues such as insurance coverage that have delayed the start of construction. Rae has requested a meeting with CSX's chairman and CEO, Michael Ward, to discuss her concerns. CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan, when asked about Rae's remarks, said his company remains committed to the work. The railroad has sustained widespread damage from the recent hurricanes and tropical storms that have hit the Southeast the core of CSX's operations. The railroad, though "very committed" to the Virginia projects, has been swamped by other concerns, he said. The hurricanes have "taken a lot of the focus of virtually everybody on this railroad," Sullivan said. Gov. Mark R. Warner's top transportation official said yesterday that he also wants to meet with CSX. "CSX has a unique opportunity to capitalize on the use of this $65.7-million," said Whitt Clement, secretary of transportation and Rae's boss. Clement praised the other major railroad operating in Virginia Norfolk Southern Corp. for "sending a clearer message than CSX" about its plans to work on joint projects geared toward taking trucks off the highway and restoring passenger rail service in western Virginia. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-30-04, from story by Chip Jones appearing on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website]

FIRE IN COMMUTER TUNNEL IS TRACED TO A WIRE IN QUEENS: It started with a single power line that somehow fell down. The line, one of a series of electrical wires that power trains and equipment, fell on another overhead wire along the railroad tracks that run from Queens into Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. That mishap on Monday afternoon [September 27], railroad officials said, set in motion the chain of events that brought the station to a standstill and disrupted the trip home for more than 100,000 commuters. The crisis began just before 1 p.m. somewhere in Queens, according to the working theory that has emerged. There, a signal cable, carrying more than 2,000 volts, came down on the overhead wire that provides electric power to trains at 11,000 volts. Like a lightning strike, the contact between the two lines sent a surge of power down the line and into one of the four tunnels under the East River, setting off an explosion from a circuit breaker, overloading a transformer, knocking out power and leaving and an electrical fire and heavy smoke in its wake. Unsure of exactly what was going on, officials inside the Penn Station Control Center, which is near the station, tried to restore power, said Clifford Black, a spokesman for Amtrak, which owns Penn Station. They were able to briefly, but then lost it again, confirming that there was a serious problem underground. They were able, however, to bring in a train from Washington that was stranded inside a tunnel under the Hudson River. Meanwhile, responding to a 911 call, firefighters arrived at New York University Medical Center at 33rd Street and First Avenue and found smoke billowing from an emergency exit shaft leading into the hospital from the East River tunnel, said Michael Loughran, a Fire Department spokesman. A fire chief went halfway down the shaft, a narrow spiral staircase that winds 92 feet to the track bed, before retreating. After confirming that no passenger trains were stuck in the tunnel, they asked that power to all four tunnels under the East River be shut down. This was a crippling blow for the Long Island Rail Road, the biggest user of Penn Station, and its riders were most severely affected by the problems. The railroad was unable to run any passenger trains into or out of Penn Station for hours during the afternoon and evening. But because power was restored to tunnels under the Hudson River, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak were able to operate a limited number of trains, except for about an hour when the station was shut because of seeping smoke. Train schedules did not return to normal until Tuesday afternoon. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-29-04, from article by Michael Luo posted on the New York Times website]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN NAMES MOORMAN PRESIDENT, PROMOTES SIX OFFICERS: Norfolk Southern Corporation has announced changes to its senior management team, including the election of a new president and the promotion of six senior executives, to become effective October 1. David R. Goode, chairman and chief executive officer, said that Charles W. Moorman, currently senior vice president corporate planning and services, has been elected president. L.I. Prillaman, vice chairman and chief marketing officer; Stephen C. Tobias, vice chairman and chief operating officer; and Henry C. Wolf, vice chairman and chief financial officer, will report to Moorman. Moorman, a native of Hattiesburg, Miss., joined Norfolk Southern in 1970. He has served in senior positions in the corporation's transportation, personnel, labor relations, information technology and strategic planning areas. He was named president of NS' Thoroughbred Technology and Telecommunications subsidiary in 1999 and to his current position in 2003. Goode also announced the following executive changes: James A. Hixon, currently senior vice president legal and government affairs, was named executive vice president finance and public affairs, reporting to Wolf; Mark D. Manion, currently senior vice president transportation operations, was named executive vice president operations, reporting to Tobias; Kathryn B. McQuade, currently senior vice president finance, was named executive vice president planning and chief information officer, reporting to Moorman; John P. Rathbone, currently senior vice president administration, was named executive vice president administration, reporting to Moorman; Donald W. Seale, currently senior vice president marketing services, was named executive vice president sales and marketing, reporting to Prillaman; and James A. Squires, currently vice president law, was named senior vice president law, reporting to Wolf. [Norfolk Southern, 9-28-04]

RAIL BRIDGES AT RISK IN CONNECTICUT: Passengers riding the rails in the Northeast hardly notice the three busy drawbridges they cross in southeastern Connecticut. But Amtrak engineers say the bridges are in such dire condition that they threaten to sever service between New York and Boston and curtail access to three rivers, according to this report by Alison Leigh Cowan published by the New York Times. The tiny 291-foot drawbridge that has operated over the Niantic River here for 97 years is the busiest of the three. Its steel supports have holes so large, a person can stick a finger in them. To the east, bolts supporting a four-million-pound counterweight keep failing on the 85-year-old bridge that runs over the Thames River. To the west, structural support pins are wearing out on the bridge that ferries trains over the Connecticut River, much as it has for 97 years. Of the roughly 1,300 bridges that Amtrak owns, the three in southeastern Connecticut are among the most antiquated and least reliable in the system, Amtrak officials said on Tuesday [September 28]. "These bridges are worn out and have reached the end of their useful lives," said Jim Richter, Amtrak's deputy chief engineer for structures. "The time has come to replace them." He and his colleagues want Congress to approve a $1.5-billion appropriation for the fiscal year that begins on Friday, up from last year's $1.2-billion, so that they can mend or replace the bridges and do other repairs. But they are having so little success persuading Congress to budge much beyond $1.2-billion, that they passed out hard hats and invited reporters and an aide to Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a Democrat from Connecticut, to tour the bridges on Tuesday so they could see their many flaws. Amtrak is heavily dependent on federal money and does not have the resources to address the infrastructure problems it inherited from the bankrupt Penn Central Railroad, which once owned the lines in this part of Connecticut. Six bridges in Connecticut are overdue for overhauls, according to Amtrak engineers. The three drawbridges pose the most immediate problems because of the wear and tear they each endure from having to open nearly 4,000 times a year to accommodate everything from commercial fishing boats to pleasure boats to submarines coming and going to their base in Groton. As part of its $1.5-billion request before Congress, Amtrak proposes to use $350 million to repair infrastructure like tracks, stations and bridges. In recent years, it has received an average of $71-million a year toward such projects, according to Mr. Hughes. That money has to cover any repairs needed in a system that encompasses 1,100 miles of track, 1,300 bridges, 1,000 miles of power lines, 18 miles of tunnels, and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. [United Transportation Union, 9-28-04, from report by Alison Leigh Cowan published by the New York Times]

TRUCKER IN BOURBONNAIS CRASH GETS TWO YEARS IN PRISON: The truck driver involved in a deadly 1999 Amtrak derailment near Bourbonnais, Illinois, was sentenced Tuesday [Sept. 28] to two years in prison for violating driving time limits and logbook rules - the only criminal charges he faced. The crash killed 11 people and injured 122 others aboard Amtrak's City of New Orleans. John R. Stokes, 63, was driving a truck loaded with steel the night of March 15, 1999, when the train hit it. The impact derailed the train, sending it smashing into other rail cars loaded with steel on an adjacent track. Stokes was found guilty last month by Kankakee County Judge Clark Erickson of a willful violation of the maximum time limit for commercial truckers and willfully violating laws requiring him to keep an accurate logbook. In sentencing Stokes, Erickson said that while it couldn't be proven a lack of rest led to the accident, Stokes might have been able to avoid it if he hadn't been fatigued. Stokes did not make any comment in court, and Erickson ordered him immediately taken into custody. The defense had argued that Stokes suffered from a variety of medical problems including diabetes, and that he should not serve jail time because he is not a danger to society. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that Stokes' failure to heed railroad crossing signals and gates had caused the accident. Federal investigators also said Stokes had had just three to five hours of sleep in the 38 hours before the accident; federal rules at the time required an eight-hour break after 10 hours of driving. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-28-04, from Associated Press article]

DELAYS MOUNT AT CALIFORNIA PORTS AS SHIPPING SURGES: Despite relief efforts, congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is getting worse as the holiday shipping season kicks into high gear, according to the Los Angeles Times. At any given time in recent weeks, there have been as many as 83 vessels waiting to be unloaded - an international flotilla of cargo ships bigger than most of the world's navies. Moreover, it is taking six to eight days to empty each of those ships, twice as long as when the ports are hosting their normal complement of 35 to 50 vessels. Although no one is predicting empty shelves, the tie-up could thin the supply of some hot-selling items. And it's having other, more far-reaching consequences. Some manufacturers and retailers have changed the way they do business to protect themselves from shipping delays. Truck drivers have quit by the hundreds after waiting as long as seven hours to pick up one load. Blame abounds. Truckers fault the terminal operators for early gate closings and late fees they contend are unreasonable. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union blames the shipping lines and the railroads for waiting too long to hire more dockworkers, locomotive engineers and conductors. John Bromley, director of public affairs for Union Pacific Corp., had a short answer when asked if the railroad had anticipated the current volume of cargo traffic. "No," he said. Union Pacific plans to hire 5,000 employees primarily in the Southwest, add 700 locomotives and 6,500 freight cars by the end of the year, and lay about $225-million in new track, Bromley said. "We intend to keep the workforce up to a point where we can handle these kind of surges in the future," he said. The only other major Southern California railroad, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., is doing much the same, including the laying of a third main line for seven miles near the Cajon Pass, where the railroad has had to share track time with Amtrak and Metrolink. [United Transportation Union, 9-27-04, from Los Angeles Times]

AMTRAK SAYS TURBO PROJECT A DEAD ISSUE: A $185-million high-speed rail contract between Amtrak and the state should be declared legally dead, the railroad contends in legal papers filed Thursday in federal court. Amtrak's response to a lawsuit filed last month by the state Department of Transportation is the strongest statement yet that Amtrak doesn't believe it is possible to salvage any portion of the ambitious plan that was to cut the trip from Rensselaer to New York City by 20 minutes, to two hours. Amtrak officials said in December that they were "unable to participate in the high-speed rail agreement as originally conceived," and had been warning the DOT of their doubts for more than a year. The deal with the DOT was to include the reconstruction of seven 1970s-era trains by Super Steel Schenectady and an array of track and signal improvements. Three of the Turboliners were rebuilt at a cost of tens of millions of dollars but sat idle all summer at Amtrak's Rensselaer yard because of faulty air conditioning. On Tuesday [September 21], Amtrak had the trains towed to Delaware for storage, further dimming hopes that they would ever be put in service. Since Gov. George Pataki announced the high-speed plan in 1998, the DOT and Amtrak have been at odds over how to deliver faster service to New York City. The cash-strapped railroad has never been enamored of the Turbo trains, citing fuel costs and limited seating capacity. In addition, Amtrak has failed to complete needed track improvements that would allow the trains to approach their top speeds of 125 mph. Last month, DOT filed a federal lawsuit asking that Amtrak be forced to carry through on its contract commitments or pay the state $477-million in damages. That is the amount the state estimates would be Amtrak's full contribution to the program, including the $300-million cost of operating the seven refurbished Turboliners for 15 years. A member of the Assembly Transportation Committee chastised state officials Thursday for failing to adequately safeguard New York's investment in the high-speed rail program. Assemblyman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who is also chairman of the Energy Committee, said the whole program was "so loosely defined" that it's difficult to determine whether the Turboliners will ever be used. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-24-04, from article by Cathy Woodruff posted on the Albany Times-Union website]

SOUNDER TICKETS NOW HONORED ON AMTRAK TRAINS: Amtrak and the Sounder commuter rail service in Seattle now have a cross-honoring agreement on all Amtrak trains (except the Empire Builder) between Seattle, Edmonds, and Everett, expanding options for Sounder commuters. The current single Sounder trip per day is supplemented by the two Amtrak round trips (Trains 510 and 517 to/from Vancouver, B.C. and trains 516 and 516 to/from Bellingham). [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-24-04]

U.P. ANNOUNCES LOCATION TO DISPLAY BIG BOY AND CENTENNIAL ENGINES: Union Pacific Chairman and CEO Dick Davidson and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey today [Sept. 23] unveiled plans for a new John C. Kenefick Park south of downtown Omaha. Davidson and Fahey announced the park will be built just south of Lauritzen Gardens, located at 100 Bancroft Street. Davidson also announced that two of the original park's major attractions, a Big Boy steam locomotive and 6900 Centennial diesel locomotive, will relocate to the new park. "Once, Kenefick Park and its historic locomotives greeted people driving from Eppley Airfield to downtown Omaha," Davidson said. Kenefick Park's Big Boy steam locomotive and 6900 Centennial diesel locomotive were moved from the original Kenefick Park along Abbott Drive to the Western Heritage Museum in 2002 to accommodate redevelopment. Since then, Union Pacific and the City of Omaha have searched for the proper location to relocate the park and display the pair of locomotives. The park bears the name of former Union Pacific Chairman and CEO John C. Kenefick. Though he retired in 1986, Kenefick still maintains an office at the railroad. [Union Pacific, 9-23-04]

THREE TURBO TRAIN SETS MOVED TO DELAWARE FOR STORAGE: The new era of high-speed rail service between New York City and the Albany area has been derailed. Three Turboliner trains that the state paid $185-million to refurbish have been towed to a rail yard Delaware, where Amtrak says they'll be more secure. The trains were among seven that were to be rebuilt by a Schenectady County factory and operated by Amtrak under a rail contract with the state Department of Transportation. But the trains were pulled from service in June when their air conditioning systems malfunctioned. The high-speed trains were supposed to cut the travel time between Manhattan and the Amtrak station in Rensselaer by 20 minutes. But Amtrak never conducted the track upgrades necessary to handle the trains' top speed of 125 miles an hour. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-22-04, from Associated Press report]

R.R. RETIREMENT BOARD CLARIFIES POSITION ON TRUST FUND: The Legal Department of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board has come forth and denied a major falsehood being spread by the United Transportation Union regarding the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Railroad Retirement Trust Fund. In particular, the Board has provided a legal opinion that denies the UTU's allegation that the Teamsters will be able to divert funds from the Railroad Retirement system to Teamster pension plans by merging with rail labor unions. "A merger between any rail labor union and the Teamsters would not make railroad retirement benefits available for payment of benefits under the Teamsters' pension plan," wrote Steven A. Bartholow, General Counsel of the Railroad Retirement Board. "Historically, changes to the Railroad Retirement Act have been based on joint recommendations of rail labor and rail carriers. Rail labor and rail management have worked hard over the years to ensure that the railroad retirement system is financially sound any change in the system that would jeopardize the current and future payment of benefits under the Act must be seen as extremely unlikely." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-22-04]

UNION PACIFIC TO INSTALL CAB CAMERAS, MICROPHONES: Following the lead of Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific said it will install digital cameras and microphones on UP locomotives to record every trip for accident investigation purposes. The newest member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicated support for these actions. UP said it would install Track Image Recorders (TIR) to verify train crew and motorist/ pedestrian actions in accidents. The TIR will be linked to the locomotive's existing event recorder so that each trip may be duplicated in detail with the sound of the locomotive's air horn and crossing bell and pictures of the track ahead of the locomotives. Depending upon the model, event recorders record speed, throttle and brake settings, electrical power levels and horn use. The TIR image file and the event recorder data will be time synchronized, UP said. The small cameras will be mounted inside the locomotive cab at the top of the engineer's windshield, looking down the track in front of the locomotive. A microphone will be mounted outside to record the locomotive's air horn. The video image disk, which can record up to five days, will be retained onboard each locomotive in a lockbox, accessible only to authorized personnel for review. [United Transportation Union, 9-21-04]

BLET RESPONDS TO UTU WEB ATTACKS: The following is a letter dated September 16 from BLET National President Don Hahs to UTU President Paul Thompson regarding recent postings on the UTU website: "This letter is in response to your recent articles on the UTU website. Once again, you have chosen to attack this organization and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The articles are full of the same old rhetoric you have used in previous articles posted on the UTU website. It is unfortunate for your members that you choose to spend your time and the resources of the UTU in attacking other labor organizations. I believe labor organizations exist to represent their members. Apparently, you believe the UTU exists to attempt to destroy or discredit other labor organizations. No one should wonder why the UTU is no longer an affiliate of the AFL-CIO. As usual, these most recent articles are once again full of inaccurate and untrue statements. I will not even give such articles the respect of responding to all of the false statements and allegations contained therein. You may refer to my letter dated July 16, 2004, addressed to you and posted on our website for my position as to your rhetoric. The UTU has many good members and they are deserving of a leadership that focuses on representing them. Why don't you get back to doing your job and providing representation for UTU members? In the meantime, if you choose not to do so, we will continue accepting the applications of former UTU members who are joining the BLET. Keep it up; our total membership is growing on a steady basis due to the UTU's lack of leadership and total nonsense letter writing campaign. Sincerely, /s/Don M. Hahs, President" [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-16-04]

LIRR TO DETAIL $2.4-BILLION EXPANSION PLAN: Long Island Rail Road officials today [September 14] are expected to detail a $2.4-billion capital plan for the next five years that calls for millions in track work, expanding the railroad and building a new rail yard east of Huntington. But some transit advocates are questioning why the LIRR would consider expansion at a time when its parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is looking at closing down lines, raising fares and cutting service. In July, the cash-strapped MTA warned of the possibility of ending service completely on the West Hempstead and Oyster Bay branches, and east of Ronkonkoma in 2006. The MTA also said that service reductions and a 5-percent fare hike are possible for commuter railroads next year. The MTA raised fares an average 25 percent last year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-14-04, from article by Joie Tyrrell posted on the Newsday website]

SEPTA WARNS OF DEEP CUTS: SEPTA said September 9 it would have to eliminate all weekend service, increase fares an average of 25 percent, and fire 16 percent of its employees by January 1 if the State Legislature did not increase the agency's funding and erase a $62-million deficit, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "This is not a bluff," SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said at a news conference at the agency's headquarters in Center City. "We've made all the cuts we can make... . This is the worst crisis to face SEPTA in its... history." In June, SEPTA adopted a $920-million budget for 2005, but with a $62-million deficit. The agency said if it did not receive money to close that gap by October, it would propose service cuts and fare increases. Area transit and development officials agreed that SEPTA is not crying wolf. But Governor Rendell and some legislative leaders said they expected to come up with a solution to the financial problems of the state's public transit agencies. In the past, SEPTA has detailed dramatic service cuts to cope with funding shortfalls, but those measures never included reducing the workforce. And the agency eventually received or found enough money to avert the worst-case scenarios, such as last year's threat to eliminate four Regional Rail lines and the C bus route. This time, however, SEPTA officials insisted that there are no bandages or one-time fixes left. [United Transportation Union, 9-10-04, from Philadelphia Inquirer]

LAS VEGAS MONORAIL CLOSES AGAIN: The Las Vegas monorail was closed one day after it reopened when a piece of a train's undercarriage fell off Wednesday [September 8] and landed in a busy street. No one was injured when a slip disk - similar to a large washer - came loose and fell about 25 feet to the pavement, monorail spokesman Todd Walker said. The 6-inch disk weighing one to two pounds first struck a power rail, causing electrical arcing but no serious damage to the track. The monorail had reopened Tuesday after being closed for six days following a September 1 incident in which a 60-pound wheel fell off one of the trains. Nobody was hurt. The wheel apparently was installed improperly at an assembly plant. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-9-04, from Associated Press]

NELSON BOWERS DIES, FORMER NRHS PRESIDENT: Nelson W. Bowers, 73, who served as president of the National Railway Historical Society from 1983 to 1987, died on September 5. Mr. Bowers joined NRHS in 1947, and was associated with the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster chapters. He joined the Baltimore Chapter in 1964, serving as its vice president in 1966, and as its president from 1967 to 1969. He transferred to the Lancaster Chapter in 1972. At the time he was a cost and materials engineer with the Penn Central Railroad. He served the national society as vice president membership from 1972 to 1976 and senior vice president from 1976 to 1983. In addition, he served in a number of positions within the Lancaster Chapter, and was involved in the joint Lancaster-Philadelphia NRHS Reading FP7 Committee, formed in the 1980's to oversee the restoration of former Reading EMD FP7 diesels 902 and 903. Mr. Bowers is survived by his wife, Cindy, an active member of Lancaster Chapter and chair of the FP7 Committee, and by two stepdaughters. [Reported by Alexander Mitchell IV, 9-8-04]

RAILROADS AIM TO SMOOTH FREIGHT TRAFFIC: Senior executives from the biggest U.S. and Canadian railroads presented their plans for handling freight during the peak season this fall at a forum Thursday [September 9] in Kansas City, according to Randolph Heaster of the Kansas City Star. About 470 railroad customers from around the country attended the program sponsored by the Association of American Railroads at the Kansas City Airport Marriott hotel. The program, the first held by the association since 2000, was in response to shipper complaints for the past several months that deliveries are bogging down and being delayed. Union Pacific and CSX are among the railroads that have faced the biggest congestion issues. After their presentations, rail executives answered questions from the customers, representing 340 companies that rely on railroads to move their goods. Most of the questions came from shippers reporting problems in the Gulf Coast and Southwest, where much of the congestion has been reported. In both regions, a Union Pacific executive said, operations are beginning to improve. "You'll see continuous improvement in train velocity during the peak season in California, Arizona and Nevada," said Dennis Duffy, the company's executive vice president of operations. "It'll continue into 2005." [United Transportation Union, 9-10-04, from Kansas City Star]

CSX REPORTEDLY SELLING WORLD TERMINALS DIVISION: The South China Morning Post recently reported that CSX Corp. is selling its global container terminal division to pay for upgrades to its core U.S. railroad network, according to this report by Gregory Richards published by the Florida Times-Union. Such a move would come as the division, CSX World Terminals, faces intense competitive pressure, including the loss of business from two key customers of its Hong Kong terminals to rival operators earlier this year. It is a small part of CSX's overall operation, supplying $226-million out the company's total $7.8-billion in operating revenue in 2003, according to CSX's annual report. CSX spokesman Adam Hollingsworth said he could not comment on any possible World Terminals sale, calling such talk "rumors." [United Transportation Union, 9-8-04, from item by Gregory Richards published by Florida Times-Union]

AMTRAK TO END RUNS THROUGH FOSTORIA, AKRON AND YOUNGSTOWN: Passenger train service to Fostoria, Akron, and Youngstown will end March 1, with sleeping cars on the route to be discontinued November 1, Amtrak will announce today [September 3]. Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman, said yesterday [September 2] that the service cancellation is associated with Amtrak's decision to stop handling bulk mail on its trains - a decision that also will be made public today, although Amtrak notified its employees about it last month. Elimination of the New York-Chicago "Three Rivers" train west of Pittsburgh will reduce Amtrak's service in Ohio to two pairs of nightly trains running across the state's northern tier and a route through Hamilton and Cincinnati that runs three times a week in each direction. Early last year, Amtrak ended a third pair of trains through Toledo and Cleveland after the rail line stopped handling expedited cargo. Amtrak also plans to shorten its New York-Tampa-Miami "Palmetto" train to a southern terminus of Savannah, Georgia, because mail service on that run too is ending, Mr. Magliari said. No other service cuts are anticipated, he said. Mr. Magliari noted that both the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains, which stop in Toledo, will have faster schedules once mail handling ends because car-switching delays will be eliminated. Such delays have been an irritant for passengers, especially when trains were already late and fell further behind schedule because of mail handling. Bulk mail has been "a marginal business for us," he said. "It does not justify the toll it takes on our passenger operations." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-3-04, from item by David Patch in the Toledo Blade]

RAIL TRAFFIC UP IN AUGUST: U.S. railroads originated 1,364,950 carloads of freight in August 2004, up 1.5 percent (19,770 carloads) over August 2003, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported September 2. U.S. rail intermodal traffic, which is not included in carload figures, totaled 876,056 trailers and containers in August 2004, up 10.8 percent (85,429 units) compared to August 2003. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-2-04]

AMTRAK, CSX HIT BY POWER OUTAGES IN RICHMOND: Paul Higgs usually helps Amtrak keep its trains running on time. Yesterday [September 1], he just wanted to get its lights back on, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch. Staples Mill Station has been plunged into darkness since Monday night. "I'm hoping we have limited power soon," said Higgs, general foreman for the passenger railroad's mid-Atlantic division. By afternoon, a contractor had installed generators that powered up Amtrak's computers, phones and limited lighting in restrooms. Until then, green glow sticks cast a ghostly light around the station's sinks and commodes. But Amtrak still was waiting for regular electrical service to be restored by Dominion Virginia Power. Meanwhile, miles of damaged or washed out track forced Amtrak to cancel all service between Richmond and Newport News until at least tomorrow. In addition, Main Street Station, the downtown stop for limited Amtrak service, remained closed because of flooding in Shockoe Bottom. North-south trains still stopped at Staples Mill Station but faced delays from continuing problems along CSX Corp. railroad, which the passenger service also uses. Acca Yard reopened as CSX started what spokeswoman Misty Skipper called "limited operations" yesterday. About 30 percent of CSX's track was damaged by the storm. "We're repairing some areas that could reopen by tonight, but other track could take a week or more to repair," Skipper said. [United Transportation Union, 9-2-04, from Richmond Times Dispatch]

CHRISTIANA RIVER RAIL BRIDGE REOPENING IN DELAWARE: A vital link in Delaware's railroad system will reopen Thursday, September 9, bringing more business to the Port of Wilmington and area shipping companies, officials said. The $13.9-million renovation of the Shellpot Bridge over the Christina River will allow freight trains to travel through Delaware and around the port more freely, avoiding congested passenger rails and reducing train traffic through some residential areas. Port officials and area freight operators said the return of the bridge, closed since 1994, will make rail access more efficient and the port more competitive. The Port of Wilmington handles about 4.5 million to 5 million tons of cargo a year. More than 90 percent of it is now transferred to trucks, said Eugene Bailey, executive director of the port. The 116-year-old swing bridge was closed 10 years ago after its owner, Conrail, discovered serious problems in the foundation. Passenger rail service also is expected to benefit from opening the bridge. The shift of freight trains away from rai ls on the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor means more room for passenger trains, particularly in the early morning and late evening hours. It also will mean less stress on the historic Wilmington train station, said John Rago, communications director for Wilmington Mayor James Baker. [From report by Sean O'Sullivan, 9-1-04, from News Journal website]

WHEEL FALLS OFF LAS VEGAS MONORAIL: The $650-million Las Vegas Monorail was shut down Wednesday [September 1] after a mechanical problem caused a wheel to come off one of the cars, a company spokesman said. Nobody was hurt in the incident, which happened as a train was traveling north toward the Las Vegas Convention Center, spokesman Todd Walker said. The train limped slowly into the convention center station, and riders were let off, he said. Walker said the monorail would reopen after inspectors deemed it safe. The company was offering refunds to people who bought tickets. The monorail opened July 15 and averaged more than 30,500 passengers in its first 17 days of operation. The monorail follows a Z-shaped, 3.9-mile route behind the Las Vegas Strip, stretching from the MGM Grand to the Sahara hotel-casino. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-1-04, from Associated Press article]

BNSF AND CHINA FORGE STRONGER BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP: In recent years China has emerged as a major participant in world trade. According to the Congressional Research Service, U.S.-China trade grew from $5 billion in 1980 to $147 billion in 2002. While China's emergence as a major participant in world trade is fairly recent, BNSF's relationship with this nation is not. At least since the 1980s, BNSF and its predecessor railroads have been exporting grain to China. "With some of the shortest and fastest routes between Asia and major U.S. destination and raw material markets, BNSF plays an important role in ensuring the fluidity of U.S.-Asia trade," says Matt Rose, BNSF chairman, president and chief executive officer. BNSF has been at the forefront of this growth. BNSF's Asia-related business has doubled in the last six years accounting for more than $1.3-billion in revenue for 2003; about two-thirds of that growth is attributed to China. [BNSF Today, 9-1-04]

SEPTA TO UPGRADE NORRISTOWN LINE: SEPTA this month will begin a major effort to upgrade the R6 Norristown line between Norristown and 16th Street Junction in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The work will include the replacement of 22,000 wood ties, brushcutting, and resurfacing of the entire 15-mile line over the next 15 months. [Philadelphia Chapter NRHS Cinders, 9-04]

AMTRAK TO CANCEL MAIL ON PASSENGER TRAINS: Amtrak plans to stop carrying mail in October as it refocuses on its core business of transporting passengers. "The profit margin is small and we feel that making these changes will improve our bottom line, make the trains more efficient," Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said. The U.S. Postal Service has used passenger trains to carry mail since 1831, when some of the first regular passenger rail service started in the United States. The railroad carries mostly bulk mail under a $60-million per year contract with the U.S. Postal Service. Most of the mail, which Mr. Black calls "a lot of magazines," is carried on long-distance routes. Some first-class mail is carried shorter distances. Amtrak informed the Postal Service of its decision last week. Mr. Black said "interference with passenger train operations" compelled Amtrak's management to curtail the contract. The interference includes delays from coupling and uncoupling freight rail cars to passenger trains. Amtrak also has to divert some of its resources to maintenance of the rail cars. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-31-04, from story by Tom Ramstack appearing on the Washington Times website]

PROPOSAL TO LEASE TRACKS FROM CSX IN VIRGINIA WORRIES AMTRAK: Amtrak and a railroad workers' union are expressing concern about a short-line railroad operator's ability to maintain 200 miles of track it wants to lease from CSX. The federal Surface Transportation Board is considering a CSX Transportation plan to transfer control of its main line between Richmond and Clifton Forge while retaining the right to run most of its current trains along the route. Amtrak's primary concern is that a small, family owned rail company operating 17 miles of track isn't equipped to take over maintenance and operation of a 200-mile stretch of CSX lines, according to a filing Amtrak made with the transportation board last week. Under CSX's agreement, Dillwyn-based Buckingham Branch Railroad would take over the tracks that run through Waynesboro and Staunton. Amtrak called it a "formidable task" for Buckingham Branch to operate the line well enough to maintain passenger service. Citing an expected reduction in the number of workers along the line, already deteriorating track conditions, and Buckingham Branch's ability to make capital improvements, Amtrak and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees took issue with proposed agreement. Amtrak's Cardinal, which connects New York, Washington, D.C., Staunton, Cincinnati and Chicago, runs across 125 miles of the track that would be leased. For many residents in the rural stretches between Charlottesville and Indianapolis, there are few options other than the Cardinal for transportation, according to the filing. In an additional filing, Norfolk Southern raised concerns about a 9.1-mile section of track between Gordonsville and Orange that is included in the lease agreement. Norfolk Southern owns the line but has a lease dating to 1890 with CSX. That 1890 lease expired over a decade ago, and Norfolk Southern does not have any records indicating it was renewed, but CSX has continued to operate the line under the agreement. Norfolk Southern asked that a new lease be worked out between Norfolk Southern and CSX before CSX sub-leases the track to Buckingham Branch. CSX and Buckingham Branch have asked the Surface Transportation Board to make its final ruling by November 8. The lease agreement is set to take effect December 20. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-31-04, from story by Jonathan D. Jones appearing on the Staunton News Leader website]

GENESEE & WYOMING ACQUIRES BRANCH LINE FROM CSX: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) announced August 30 that its subsidiary, Golden Isles Terminal Railroad Inc. (GITM), has acquired the Savannah Wharf Branch rail line located in Savannah, Georgia, from CSX Corporation's subsidiary, CSX Transportation, Inc. The transaction includes the acquisition of 6.5 miles of track and related assets and a 20 year lease of the related real estate along the rail line. The Savannah Wharf Branch is expected to switch approximately 4,500 cars on an annual basis. [Genesee & Wyoming, 8-30-04]

CSX FORMS PARTNERSHIP WITH OMNITRAX: OmniTRAX, a North American transportation services company, announced Friday (Aug. 27) its partnership with CSX Transportation (CSXT), a business unit of CSX Corporation (CSX), to provide more efficient switching to the Fulton Industrial Business District, just outside Atlanta, Ga., according to this release issued by OmniTRAX. OmniTRAX, Inc. is the largest privately held rail services company in North America, the company said. An affiliate of The Broe Companies, Inc., it offers a broad range of transportation services to clients in the industrial and transportation sectors. The partnership was created following CSXT's most recent phase of improvements in the Fulton area, which included the design of more frequent and customer responsive switching, along with joint commercial and development efforts between CSXT and its Fulton Partners. OmniTRAX was commissioned by CSXT to continue that positive trend and elevate the level of service even further. [United Transportation Union, 8-27-04, from OmniTRAX press release]

AMTRAK CONDUCTOR RESIGNS AFTER MAKING KERRY COMMENTS: An Amtrak conductor said Tuesday [August 24] that he will resign rather than face a company investigation for suggesting to train passengers that they should vote against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Conductor Leslie Farr had been suspended without pay following an August 5 incident in which he used the public address system to tell passengers on a Kansas City-to-St. Louis train that they would be delayed while waiting for Kerry's locomotive to head west from St. Louis. Farr said he then quipped that passengers should vote accordingly in November. In its investigation letter to Farr, Amtrak accused him of violating company policies by making "inappropriate and denigrating announcements" to customers that "caused embarrassment to the corporation and the loss of good will of our passengers." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-24-04, from Associated Press report by David A. Lieb]

SENATOR JOINS UTU IN PLEA TO CSX ON LINE SALES: On August 19, UTU National Legislative Director James Brunkenhoefer wrote Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) regarding a CSX initiative to dispose of rail lines within West Virginia - a move that could adversely affect UTU members employed there by CSX. Within 24 hours, Sen. Rockefeller sent off a letter to CSX President and CEO Michael Ward - with copies to members of the Surface Transportation Board, which must approve lines sales and leases - expressing Rockefeller's "concerns" and desire that CSX employees not be adversely affected. CSX recently indicated it might seek to sell or lease to short line operators some 535 miles of CSX track along two sections of the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad from Cumberland, Md., to New Martinsville, W.Va., and from Grafton to Cowen, W.Va. "My primary reason for writing," Rockefeller said in his letter to Ward, "is to do whatever I can to protect the jobs and benefits of approximately 250 railroad employees currently working these lines. The potential loss of even a single job in West Virginia is of the utmost concern to me, and this situation has caused enormous anxiety for the workers and families that might be affected." Rockefeller said that if economics require CSX to dispose of any of its lines, he favors their transfer to a short line operator who would agree "to assume CSX's responsibilities to its workers under existing contracts. On the other hand, I would also ask that CSX carefully consider whether the livelihoods and retirement security of hundreds of West Virginians would be better secured by CSX itself retaining control of the track in question." [United Transportation Union, 8-20-04]

RAILS PLEDGE FASTER SERVICE TO N.D. GRAIN SHIPPERS: North Dakota's farmers and grain dealers can expect faster railroad service this harvest season, officials with the state's two major railways say. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway say they are revamping their shipping strategies and making equipment upgrades to curb costly delays that plagued farmers and grain dealers in getting their 2003 crops to market. State officials, agriculture leaders and grain dealers, who have long been at odds with the railroads, are skeptical. The BNSF and Canadian Pacific have their own unique challenges in providing the service that North Dakota's farmers and grain dealers deserve, Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark said. Like last year, North Dakota farmers are expected to harvest a large wheat crop, setting the stage to again magnify the railways' shipping problems, said Neal Fisher, administrator of the North Dakota Wheat Commission. The railways were overwhelmed by North Dakota's 317-million-bushel wheat crop last year, and backlogs quickly included late season crops like corn and soybeans. Grain dealers piled a record 18 million bushels of wheat, soybeans and other crops on the ground because the BNSF and Canadian Pacific couldn't haul it away fast enough, Clark said. "The stars are kind of lining up again for the same situation as last year," Fisher said. "That's the kind of thing that will keep you up at night." The delays are more than an inconvenience. They can cost farmers and grain elevators a great deal of money. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Enginners & Trainmen, 8-23-04, from story by Jeff Zent on The Forum website]

SALE OF CSX TRACK NOT LIKELY TO AFFECT MINES, SAYS CONSOLIDATED COAL: CSX Transportation is reviewing nine bids for 530 miles of track in West Virginia. But the sale of that track is not likely to affect local coal mines, said Thomas Hoffman, vice president of investor and public relations for Consolidation Coal. "Our understanding is that there will not be an impact on us," Hoffman said. The Robinson Run Mine in Harrison County is the only mine in the area run by Consolidation Coal, he said. That mine transports 70 percent of its coal by conveyor belt to the Harrison Power Station, leaving 30 percent to be taken by train over the current CSX line. That translates into 1.5 million tons of coal transported by rail each year, Hoffman said. "We are a significant customer of CSX in general," he said."Obviously, we communicate with them on a regular basis. The only thing that may change here is the shipping rates." The line from Cumberland, Md., to Brooklyn Junction, W.Va., just south of New Martinsville, is being sold in hopes that the track will be more profitable for a smaller company, CSX spokesman Gary Sease has said. A decline in business may affect decisions on which track to sell, said Lewis Halstead, assistant director of the state Division Mining and Reclamation. But that is not likely the case in Harrison County, where coal production has increased in the past few years, according to statistics from the Office of Miner's Health and Safety Training. Local union officials say that if CSX Transportation does sell the track in West Virginia, they will be forced to relocate or lose their jobs. The possibility also exists that none of the bids will be accepted, at which point CSX would continue to operate the railroad as it does now, said Jane Covington, CSX spokeswoman. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Enginners & Trainmen, 8-21-04, from article by Gary A. Harki posted on the Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram website]

TUNNEL FIRE CONTINUES TO CUT CALIFORNIA RAIL LINK: A fire burning inside a key rail tunnel southeast of Eugene, Oregon, has disrupted Amtrak passenger service between the Northwest and California and is causing freight delays for West Coast shippers, officials say. The Union Pacific-owned tunnel between Eugene and Chemult caught fire on Saturday [August 14], shutting down a key railroad corridor serving 18 to 20 trains a day. "We don't know how long it will be until this is out," said Ed Immel, rail planner with the Oregon Department of Transportation. Amtrak halted all Coast Starlight trains north of Oakland, Calif., and south of Eugene late Saturday, affecting hundreds of travelers. The line serves an average of 1,200 passengers a day between Seattle and Los Angeles. Amtrak is not offering alternate transportation at this time, said spokeswoman Sarah Swain. Immel said Amtrak hopes to eventually bus passengers between Eugene and Klamath Falls, but Swain could not say when a backup plan might start. Amtrak's Cascades service between Seattle and Eugene has not been affected, Immel said. The 3,164-foot-long, timber-lined tunnel, high on a mountain pass between Oakland, Ore. and Chemult, caught fire Saturday. Sparks from a locomotive's engine or brakes are the likely cause, Immel said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-20-04, from Associated Press]

CSXT RANKED TOP RAIL CARRIER ON WASTE HAULING: CSX Transportation (CSXT) has been ranked the top rail carrier on Waste News' Hauling and Disposal Ranking list. The annual list, which ranks all waste shippers according to revenue generated from the hauling, disposal and transfer of waste, ranked CSXT 20th out of the nation's top 100 waste product shippers. "Shipping waste by rail is a market that is growing at a strong pace," said Henry Connors, director-emerging markets unit. "We continue to see opportunities for market growth as we work hard to convert these shipments off of the highway onto the rails and demonstrate the economic benefits to customers." CSXT provides waste hauling services for municipalities, waste companies and various industries including steel, automotive, paper and chemical. CSXT's waste hauling services include multi-modal transport service, transfer operations, premium equipment, marketplace expertise, project management, industrial development capabilities and superior customer service. In the second quarter of 2004, CSXT generated a six percent increase in waste revenue versus the second quarter of 2003. Carloads of waste hauled by CSXT also increased by nine percent during this same period. [CSX, 8-18-04]

CSX RECEIVES NINE BIDS FOR B&O CLUSTER: CSX Transportation has received nine bids for 530 miles of railroad track, mostly in West Virginia. The line from Cumberland, Md., to Brooklyn Junction, just south of New Martinsville, is up for sale or lease by CSX. The bidding deadline was August 12. CSX spokesman Gary Sease has said smaller companies may be able to make the stretch of track more profitable. The rail company hopes to have the bids evaluated by mid-September before the finalists are selected for further evaluation, said CSX spokeswoman Jane Covington. It's possible that none of the bids will be accepted, at which point CSX would continue to operate the railroad, she said. About 250 CSX employees in the area may be affected by the lease or sale, Sease said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-15-04, from Associated Press report]

SHORT LINE RAILROAD FINDS SUCCESS IN SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA: For years, a stretch of rail track between Mount Hope and Thurmond, W.Va., was silent, serving only as a shortcut to local fishing holes or as bleachers for parents watching their children play at nearby soccer fields. That changed a year ago, when Roger Lipscomb and Jon Dragan launched West Virginia Southern Railroad, a short-line freight company. Lipscomb and Dragan operate the railroad on 12 miles of track for which they had purchased the right of way from CSX in 2002. West Virginia Southern Railroad now rumbles back and forth between the two Fayette County communities at least five days a week, hauling wood, chemicals and other products for local industries, including Georgia Pacific and Austin Powder. "In the past, CSX could only service these customers every few days or every other day. We can carry out their products every day," Lipscomb said. West Virginia Southern Railroad has one engine and six employees and is in the black after its first year of operation. Lipscomb and Dragan hope to someday expand the railroad to Pax, where it could link up with tracks owned by Northern Southern. But that cannot happen until an 1,800-foot-long tunnel between Mount Hope and Pax is rehabilitated. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-16-04, from Associated Press report]

INDIANA & OHIO CENTRAL TO PURCHASE CINCINNATI-COLUMBUS LINE FROM CSX: RailAmerica, Inc. announced that its subsidiary, Indiana & Ohio Central Railroad (IOCR), notified the Surface Transportation Board of its intent to purchase 107 miles of railroad from Cincinnati, Ohio to Columbus, Ohio (The Midland Subdivision) and to lease the related real estate from CSX Corporation's subsidiary, CSX Transportation, Inc., subject to negotiation and execution of a definitive agreement. The line will be operated as part of the IOCR, which anticipates moving approximately 18,000 carloads annually over the line. [RailAmerica Inc., 8-13-04]

TRUCKER IN 1999 AMTRAK CRASH CONVICTED: The trucker involved in a 1999 Amtrak derailment that killed 11 people was convicted Aug. 11 of felony charges for violating rules governing hours truckers can be on the road. The crash near Bourbonnais, Illinois, also injured 122 others aboard Amtrak's City of New Orleans and pushed federal officials to change truckers' hours-of-service rules for the first time since 1939. John R. Stokes was found guilty by Circuit Judge Clark Erickson of willfully violating the maximum time limit for commercial truckers and of willful failure to keep an accurate logbook, said prosecutor Bill Elward. Stokes faces a possible prison term of one to three years, Elward said. Stokes was driving a truck carrying steel that ran into the path of the train at a crossing March 15, 1999. The impact derailed the train, sending it smashing into rail cars loaded with steel beside the tracks. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled his failure to heed crossing signals and gates caused the accident. Investigators also said Stokes had gotten just three to five hours of sleep in the 38 hours before the accident; federal rules at the time required an eight-hour break after 10 hours of driving. Stokes' phone number is unlisted and his attorney, Leonard Sacks, declined to comment on the verdict. When Stokes spoke to an investigator the day after the crash he said the crossing lights didn't give him enough warning to stop. Within months of the crash, the Federal Highway Administration began pushing for stricter driving limits, but trucking interests fought them. New rules that finally took effect in January allow truckers to stay on the road an hour longer, up to 11 straight hours, but require they then take 10 hours off. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-11-04, from Associated Press]

CSX TO DELIST FROM LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE: CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) announced August 10 that it intends to delist its common shares from the London Stock Exchange. The decision to discontinue the company's secondary listing was based on the low trading volumes and the costs associated with the maintenance of the listings. CSX's delisting from the London Stock Exchange will be effective at close of business on Wednesday, September 8, 2004. [CSX, 8-10-04]

RAIL INDUSTRY ANNOUNCES NEW SAFETY INITIATIVE: The nation's freight railroads have announced an initiative that will use innovative trackside technology to improve safety and efficiency on the rail network by giving freight car owners advance warning when freight car wheels are deteriorating, according to this release issued by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Through a series of proposed changes to the AAR Interchange Rules, it is anticipated that the new Advanced Technology Safety Initiative (ATSI) will be implemented on October 1, 2004. ATSI is a predictive and proactive maintenance system that uses the best available technology to detect and report potential safety problems and poorly performing equipment before they result in accidents or undue rail damage. The first effort under the new initiative is the use of data from wheel impact load detectors (WILD) to monitor the health of railcar wheels. When a freight car wheel exerts a peak impact load of 90 kips or above as measured by a WILD site, it is not operating effectively, is considered "out of round" and on the path to failure. The program provides a window of opportunity that opens when a wheel reaches a peak impact load of 65 kips. There are currently 67 WILD sites in the rail network and data collected at those sites is integrated into rail industry equipment health management systems. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-6-04]

JAMAICA STATION HUB GETS UPGRADE: Some long-envisioned changes are finally visible at the Long Island Rail Road's busy Jamaica station, according to the Daily News. The hub's new mezzanine walkway has opened, featuring direct access to all LIRR station platforms and the AirTrain, the rail link to Kennedy Airport. The partially open new structure is located above the platforms at the eastern end of the station. It's part of the MTA's ongoing reconstruction project. Initially, the mezzanine will be served by escalators and stairs from the platform level. In addition, three high-occupancy elevators on the north side of the mezzanine will offer service from the street level and the subway. The MTA expects that later this year construction will be completed on the elevators between the mezzanine and the station platforms, along with a second set of stairs. Until it's finished, commuters who need an elevator may use the existing LIRR pedestrian overpass, which gives them access to elevators near the center of the station. [United Transportation Union, 8-5-04, from report published by the Daily News]

RAIL TRAFFIC UP IN JULY: U.S. railroads originated 1,299,916 carloads of freight in July 2004, up 1.0 percent (12,255 carloads) over July 2003, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported today [August 5]. U.S. rail intermodal traffic, which is not included in carload figures, totaled 837,317 trailers and containers in July 2004, up 7.5 percent (58,494 units) compared to July 2003. U.S. railroads originated 516,259 carloads of coal in July 2004, up 2.1 percent (10,811 carloads) over July 2003. Other commodities showing carload gains in July included metallic ores (62,652 carloads, up 9.2 percent or 5,263 carloads); nonmetallic minerals (33,749 carloads, up 15.9 percent or 4,642 carloads); and metals and metal products (54,914 carloads, up 8.6 percent or 4,359 carloads. Carloads of chemicals totaled 118,853 in July 2004, up 2.9 percent (3,394 carloads) over 2003. Commodities showing declines in U.S. rail car loadings in July included motor vehicles and equipment (59,644 carloads, down 9.2 percent or 6,029 carloads) and crushed stone and gravel (85,758 carloads, down 6.0 percent or 5,482 carloads). Carloads of grain totaled 78,488 in July 2004, down 5.8 percent (4,867 carloads) from last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-5-04]

CN TERMINATES ROADRAILER SERVICE: CN's RoadRailer intermodal service has ceased its commercial operations between Montreal, Toronto and Chicago. Louise Fillion, spokesperson for CN, confirmed to Today's Trucking that the service has been for the most part discontinued mainly due to the financial fallout of 5,000 mechanics, clerks, and intermodal yard workers who went on strike in February of this year. As Today's Trucking reported throughout the strike, many shippers began shifting freight from rail and intermodal on to trucks in order to keep delivery times. Moreover, some of the new-found truck freight extended into longer contracts, provided carriers were able to provide the extra capacity. CN introduced its Toronto-Montreal RoadRailer service in September 1999 and extended it to Chicago in October 2000. In 2001, about 600 Wabash National RoadRailer 53-foot trailers were put into service. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-4-04, from report by Today's Trucking published on its website]

EXPANSION SET FOR NEW JERSEY'S EXPRESSRAIL: The Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Wednesday [August 4] authorized $5-million in planning and design funds to expand the new ExpressRail Elizabeth Intermodal Facility at the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal from 10 to 18 tracks, according to this report by Peter T. Leach published by the Journal of Commerce Online. That facility is scheduled to commence operations in September. The authorization also provides for planning and design of a second lead track that will allow trains to arrive and depart the facility simultaneously, and the partial relocation of Bay Avenue to increase safety by minimizing the possibility of road/rail conflicts. The Board also authorized a 10-year agreement with Millennium Rail, under which the firm will operate and maintain ExpressRail Elizabeth starting on or about September 1 of this year. Created especially to operate the new facility, Millennium Rail is a joint venture of APM Terminals North America, Inc. and Maher Terminals, Inc., the port's two largest tenants. [United Transportation Union, 8-4-04, from report by Peter T. Leach published by the Journal of Commerce Online]

HIAWATHA SERVICE MAY BE EXPANDED: The number of passengers riding Amtrak's Hiawatha service between Milwaukee and Chicago has climbed to record levels, fueling talks of expanding the number of trips on the route and increasing the speed of the trains. Also under consideration by state and federal officials is extending the Hiawatha service west to Madison. A total of 453,611 passengers traveled on the Hiawatha line for the 12-month period ended June 30, an increase of 13 percent compared with the prior fiscal year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. State and Amtrak officials are seeking funds for improvements to the rail line, owned by Canadian Pacific Railway, that would allow trains to travel at higher speeds. Preliminary engineering and environmental work on the Milwaukee-to-Madison segment already has been completed. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-2-04, from article by Rich Rovito on Business Journal of Milwaukee website]

TEXAS EAGLE'S ON-TIME PERFORMANCE IMPROVES: There's something different lately about Amtrak's Texas Eagle, a long-distance train that serves Fort Worth daily. More often than not, it's punctual. "One thing I've noticed informally from my office is that the Texas Eagle appears to have been running fairly much on time," said Temple businessman Dean Chandler, who frequently rides the train to Chicago. A year ago, the Texas Eagle was running on schedule about 22 percent of the time, according to the nation's only coast-to-coast passenger rail service. This year, the on-time rate is about 62 percent, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. Freight railroads, which own most of the tracks that Amtrak uses, are doing a better job of dispatching the passenger trains through congested corridors, he said. Railroads have been under pressure from political leaders to help Amtrak get to its destinations on time. Also, ridership has increased dramatically in the past year. Despite the good news, Amtrak is again in financial straits. It is subsidized by federal funding and has requested a minimum of $1.6-billion to continue operating in 2005. But a House committee and the Bush administration are recommending $900-million, an amount that Amtrak officials say would cause them to shut down in February. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-1-04, from story by Gordon Dickson on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram website]